Wednesday, November 30, 2011

T'was the Christmas before Christmas, and all through the void . . .

     Makes me wonder if there is an Eve version of the Night Before Christmas.  I imagine that there are enough clever people in Eve that there HAS to be one out there somewhere.  Lots of other versions, but no Eve-related one . . yet.  Pity.

     So maybe it is because I was finally able to get back to incursions and try out my new Bhaalgorn.  Maybe it is because our fail war dec is finally over.  Maybe it's both.  At any rate I'm really looking forward to the clever little twists and turns that the expansion will crack open.  Some of the items I'm looking forward to, some I'm fairly ambivalent about, at least at this point in my Eve "career".  At this point, this is a nice early gamer Xmas for me, as I'm a fairly simple guy.

     I'm really looking forward to the buffs to the Gallente ships, their weapons and the destroyer class.  As a newer-ish player, I'm still interested in cutting my teeth on scan sites and a more capable destroyer gives me the options of the bigger ships, along with the cargo capacity, but still allows them into the sites that block even a cruiser.

     The warp wormholes will be a cool graphic, and I really don't worry too much about new nebulae backgrounds.  That's more artsy-ness than I'm interested in.  New ship models are cool, but of not much interest if I can't fly them right now and by the time I get to them, it really won't matter that I didn't know what they used to look like.  What does interest me though, is the emblems on the ships.  That, in my mind, is the precursor for custom player graphics and skins on the ships.  That should be a great and ongoing MT product that won't freak players out and make them want to start shooting at statues again . . . mostly . . . maybe.

     There are likely going to be a few small details that are added or tweaked that people will find out about at the last minute, or after the fact.  Two of the PVP oriented ones I like are the lack of ship insurance payouts when you get popped by Concord, and as I am eyeing low/null sec, the patch that produces aggression for dropping a warp bubble is also a good fix.  The warp bubble problem was much the same as the neutral repping issue continues to be.  When CCP gets to the neutral repping issue, I'm sure a lot of people will be happy except for the ones currently exploiting it.

     The new BCs will be cool as well, but right now, I can't think of anything I'm doing where I could employ one.  If the armor is comparable to my scanning Harby, maybe I can upgrade the firepower and retain the ship's intended functionality for me.  The boats will likely be stupid expensive for a while, as well as their BPOs, so I'm in no real rush to go out and get one/some.  I'm just looking forward to being able to fly a Drake with my Amarr main :)  It'll be a fun change from the lazar boats I'm used to.  Simple steps.  Simple steps.

     I think the new autopilot and looting mechanisms will be a very nice and useful addition, and I'll likely need to pay attention to learn how to use them properly/effectively.  I'm also looking forward to seeing the crazy things that people will figure out to do with them.  I also look forward to trying out the new T2 mining and warfare links.  Mmmmmmm . . . roidses.  By the time this posts, I should be patched, logged in, and saving the universe, unless things go horribly sideways on the patch, me or both.  Interestingly, there was great concern that training cues should be loaded up with at least a few days worth of skills.  The larger the paranoia, the closer that cue time was recommended to be 5 days or more.  Quite by happenstance, I was already good to go for at least 2 days with all the toons.

The Point?  Christmas doesn't always just come once a year :)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

War Decs n' Neuts

     Yes, that kind of war dec and no, not that kind of neut.

     Our "welcome to the alliance war" is not going well, IMO.  Quite likely in a lot of people's opinions too.  The corp that dec'd us has swollen in number to more than double what it originally was.  Lots of accounts coming out of the woodwork, quite likely, I think, by design.  They seem quite adept at their method of war which is station games and neutral reps.  The neutral reppers have all the time in the world to set up shop, target everyone they need to, get their cap chain(s) going, and then, when it looks like the DPS boat is starting to hurt a little, they nail it with about 100,000,000 HP of repping power and they're fresh as a daisy.  Try to drive off the neutral reppers after they go flashy, and more show up.  No doubt each member of their corp each has a logi ship in the neutral alt corp.  Even though the newly implemented feature, that disrupts neutral repping, kicks their reppers off after about 30 seconds, they have had the time to bring the target ship back to like-new.  At that point, the neutral-now flashy logi has the option of sticking around for a couple more reps, or docking up.  if the logi starts taking some major damage, they just dock up.

     Our response, in a number of variations, has been ineffective.  It's non-conventional fighting we're doing, so non-conventional fits are required.  They have exceedingly large amounts of RR - we have next to nothing.  They have concentrated DPS, we don't.  They have seen that we bring one or two ECM boats, so they have ECCM fitted theirs and added cap boosters.  We know - they've been scanned.  They bring an insanely tanked Scorpion with dual cap boosters, we have nothing even close.  We bring a rag-tag response to a well rehearsed, well coordinated combination of pure DPS and pure RR.  It can't be beat by what we're doing, and hasn't been beat by what we're doing.  Not even close.  Part of the problem, but not all of it, is the neutral repping exploit.

     Neutral repping should generate an aggression timer.  I can see the up-sides and down-sides of a 60 second timer, and in the bigger picture, if you don't have the DPS to bring down a BS or below ship in a minute, you've got bigger problems than just the timer length.  So, if the neutral repper gets a 60 sec timer like any other combat ship, I think that would go a long way to fixing things.  But there's more.  Part of the problem is that they have time to set everything up FIRST, before anyone gets to agress them.

     If there is some spontaneous or unanticipated aggression, then a 15 minute timer is sufficient for the neutral repper - like for can flipping.  If however, just like in a real war, if a neutral party aids either side of the war, they are now in the war.  If a neutral repper helps either side, they are now in the war for the duration of the war.  Definitely that specific character is now a real war target, but I haven't worked out all the permutations on whether it would/could/should be viable to include their corp as well.  If the corp was included, a simple fix would be for the player to put their toon in an NPC corp first.  But anyway, the neutral rep things blows.  I think we need a ton more DPS and TDs than we are fielding if we hope to deal with 5 to 8 Guardians.

     By the time this posts, hopefully, the war dec will have come and gone.  Word/rumour was that the corp was paid by a dude who lost a couple billion isk in a freighter because a few days earlier he had ganked a corp member of mine.  The corpy patiently waited to exercise his kill rights, and then, along came the fatty, so he popped it.  Less than happy, the dude apparently then hired this corp to war dec us.  Hopefully that is nothing more than a great story to tell our great great grand kids, and these dudes get tired of us throwing ships at them to 'splode, they let the war dec expire, no one pays for a renewal, and we get back to business.

The Point?  I guess, go big, or stay on the porch where the big dogs have a couple wheels up on the curb, that won't let their elevator go all the way to the top floor with a couple cards short of a full deck in it.  Savy?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Macros, Incursions and null-sec, oh my!

I was going to add "massive whining" or "tear fountains" to the title too, but I think it ruins the flow, so I left them out.

     T'other day, I was schmutzing around teh intarnetz, and I came across this article.  Fairly articulate article, but far from an accurate picture, I think.  Of course it spawned all the sad little "YEAH!  What he fuckin' said!"s, but again, a fairly small minded, narrow minded perspective from people who have apparently forgotten a lot about what the content of Eve actually is.  They've decided that since their own personal style of play has turned into boring tedium, or a style of play in null sec that is no longer fun, then everyone in Eve should have to change so that they can have fun again.  Apparently, they are oblivious enough to not understand that if they run around in blobs shooting everything that moves, in due course, there won't be people moving anymore so as not to get blobbed.  That's a surprise??  The guys that are so in love with null sec, and drove so many people out of it, and now they don't want to play in null sec anymore.  Too funny!  Totally typical though.

     It doesn't take too long to learn that null sec is fucked up the way it currently sits.  It isn't because of Eve, it's because of the players.  It's an automatic response by people both in games and in life to twist, and manipulate, and exploit, and discover, how to maximize effect while minimizing effort.  It's what people do.  We breathe, we eat, we shit, oh yeah, and we fuck shit up, whine about it, move over to somewhere that shit isn't fucked up, fuck that up too, whine some more, rinse, repeat.  Game designers, CCP in this example, are engaged in a constant campaign to find ways to prevent people from fucking up the game mechanics.  Implement enough sandboxiness to generate a sufficient, and engaging amount of feudalism and controlled chaos, but not so much as to create anarchy.  After all, it is THEIR game and if players fuck the game bad enough, for long enough, players will leave because it's fucked up.

     For people that don't have their heads up their ass when conversations about null-sec happen, you frequently see the term "isk faucet".  Usually, the losers people running around looking for a solo null-sec miner or ratter to gank with a 10 man fleet is oblivious to this, because they're busy playing like a "real man"!  "PVP!  HOOOOWAHHHH!  None of that fuckin' pussy care bear, high sec bullshit for me!"  So anyway, what are the isk faucets that the alliances make use of?  Well, there's the mining.  And the ratting.  And the manufacturing.  And the complexes.  And the system rentals.  And the Incursions.  In short, all the biggest, best and most lucrative operations, can be found in null sec.  The whiners seemingly don't realize that there's a huge part of game content that doesn't exist in high sec, even though they whine that high sec players "get too much with minimal/no risk".  Biggest, most powerful ships?  Not in high sec.  Best, most lucrative loot drops?  Not in high sec.  Best Incursion payouts?  Not in high sec.  Most lucrative ore to mine?  Not in high sec.  Highest rat bounties?  Not in high sec.  Most lucrative manufacturing opportunities?  Not in high sec.  Richest moons and planets?  Not in high sec.  How many examples do I need to give?  Seriously, they need to get a fucking clue.  So, with all these isk fountains, when it came to the sanctums, they were seemingly the worst examples, again NONE in high sec, so CCP put a handle on that particular faucet and closed the flow down a bit.  Like any other change in a sandbox though, it had peripheral effects that were tough to anticipate in the Eve environment.  If people have some fairly easy, safe sources of game income removed, they'll find new ones.  In the case of all this whining, the new one is high sec Incursions.  There are more factors than just the Incursions because there are Incursions in null sec and low sec too, and THOSE Incursions are even MORE lucrative than the high sec ones!  So, why are all the whiners crying about JUST the high sec Incursions?

     In null sec, there's basically only a few uber alliances that control the sweetest property and they make truck loads of cash doing it.  You are either in one of the big dog alliances, proper, or you are one of their vassals and they tolerate your alliance's ass because you are a meat shield between them and their potential enemies, you are making them more money than you are costing them, or, usually, both.  They will peck and poke at each other every once in a while so players and CCP will think (hopefully) that null sec is still this cool and vibrant and volatile area of the game that it maybe used to be, but their serious efforts of fucking with people are in other areas of null sec, where there are more weak alliances, they aren't anywhere near as powerful as the big dogs and their vassals/renters, and the big dogs can take and lose unimportant pieces of territory, do their pvp thing, and it looks like they're trying to play the sovereignty game.  They are cleverly, or trying to be, making sure that they don't take TOO much territory so that it is too obvious that there are too few places left to contest, and that too few alliances control too much space.  This will bring too many loud cries from the players, which will draw too much notice of CCP, and then they will step in and change things.  The two big power blocks don't want change, and I question whether even CCP really wants too much change in the way things are, because in the end, it's about paying the bills for CCP.  It's still a business.

     Yawn, so WTF does this have to do with incursions again?  Well, where are the low sec Incursions, for starters?  They are in areas where an Incursion runner stands a very high chance of being ganked while trying to have fun, earn isk, or both.  If the Incursions get run, it is by an alliance of low sec organizations and/or pirates, and rarely, by a high sec group that has managed to elude notice for a period of time.  After all, it's extremely easy to see the traffic numbers in an Incursion, and it's pretty safe to assume that there will be an inviting number of high price boats in the area.  Cue the hyenas.  The null sec alliances end up getting run by the alliances that control the area.  Anyone else that goes in there, not blue, or not agreed upon, is dead.  Pretty simple.  While the whiners complain about the amount of isk earned in high sec, no one complains about the HIGHER amount of isk that they farm, which can be double or MORE.  No, they don't complain when the Incursion lands in their back yard, they only complain when THEY can't farm them or, because the other peopel that can't farm them have cloned up to high sec to an Incursion they CAN farm.  That leaves the Incursion-complainers with no one to blob, poor things.  Again, nerf/reduce/remove the high sec Incursions, and the geniuses believe that will drive the null Incursion runners back into null, and bring a lof of high sec players into low and null sec because they "have no choice" or reduced choices for good isk income.  Reality, boys, reality.  Maybe they aren't interested in a boring sovereignty mechanism where all they have to look forward to is grinding on structure or getting blobbed.  Duh.  Hard to see reality or reason over top of the gun sight though.  If the incursions go away, there'll be a new reason come up with to spend time in high sec, and when the high sec reasons to stay out of null sec get weak enough, they'll likely just quit instead, and then the poor little PVPers STILL won't have anyone to shoot at.

     The supposedly hard core PVP fans could be the big men they like to talk they are, and roll into another null sec region and do their Incursion, or even a low sec incursion, but that would involve RISK.  They know what would happen.  The big, bad PVPers would get their ass handed to them unless they could drop carriers and Titans on them, and have a stupidly huge blob fleet to protect their ass.  So, no wonder there are so many null sec players running the high sec Incursions.  They can run all of them if they want - minimal risk, decent rewards.  No blobs.  No assholes (or very few - that are mostly identified).  No griefers (or very few and are quickly identified and blacklisted).  That’s also why the people that claim that there are incredible amounts of isk to be made are full of shit.  IF you can get to an Incursion and there are amazingly few people running it, and IF it stays that way, then sure, you can make 100 million an hour.  Usually though, you are contesting every VG site, and that means you could likely run level 4 distribution missions and make more money an hour, and certainly more running level 4 combat sites.  Side note - what about level 5 missions?  Oh, NOT IN HIGH SEC.  They're also full of shit when they claim that only uber, elitist fleets are formed.  That's true if you want to be lazy, take minimum responsibility, want to jump on someone else's coat tails and just sit there and mash buttons while you watch a movie, but anyone can make a fleet.  That though, just adds to the traffic jams and further reduces your income per hour, along with everyone else's.

     But wait!  If null sec is so cool and awesome, and where all the cool players go, and it's claimed to be more relaxing to play in your very own blue space, and so much more relaxing with no Concord or griefers running around like low sec, why are there so many complaints about null, from null, which is the most lucrative isk zone in the entire game?  Because null sec is broken.  It isn't broken for everyone though, apparently mainly just the people who fixate on a single aspect of the game, and that is blowing shit up.  More specifically though, it's seemingly ONLY about blowing shit up that generates a kill mail.  Run around in big blobs, blowing up sovereignty structures, and blobbing the shit out of other players?  Wow!!  How is that not fun!!  At first it likely is, but obviously not for everyone, and not for everyone for forever.  For high sec players that have no innterest in that kind of play, ever or at least so far, it isn't fun.  Big surprise that random PVP opportunities are drying up and very few of the "loser high sec care bears" want go down to low and null sec to get jumped by a blob of epeen players.  The "big dog" pvpers that are crying, are the source of their own gaming problems.  Most will likely be too thick to realize that, or more importantly admit that.  Instead of embracing what could possible be a character developing and maturing opportunity, in a real life sense, their absolutely "brilliant" solution is to force everyone down into their area of game play, by nerfing isk earning opportunities, so the crying pvpers have someone to shoot.  The amazing thing?  They thought of that, ALL ON THEIR OWN!  XD  High sec incursions aren't broken, null sec is.

     So, not all of the alliances operate in the same way, but the biggest power brokers didn't get to be the biggest power brokers by having the mentality of an 8 year old like the whining PVPers.  There are renter and vassal organizations who manage to do well when they keep their heads down, or manage to parry and/or re-direct moments of conflict, but usually, everyone gets bit at some point.  At some point, amnesty or invisibility wears out.  The trick, is finding the balance of how big you need to be to be relatively safe, so be able to scare off most aggressors, but stay small enough to not be a trheat to the big dogs, and keep on the edge of the radar, or better yet, off it.  But the "big dogs", they understand the balance that CCP tries to maintain between keeping players reasonably happy and keeping the real life money coming in.  And that's why there are botters and macros.  Only the same 8 year old mentalities are missing the fact that every macro account out there is also a paying subscription.  CCP knows this.  The botters know this.  The biggest power brokers know this.  Every so often, CCP makes some announcements FIRST, and then goes and bans a pile of accounts.  Eve players cheer!  The big dogs and botters cheer publicly too.  BUT, because the accounts get lots of notice before being banned, assets get laundered to other accounts, new accounts are created, a small lag in time as skills are brought back up, and business returns to "normal".  Small blip in the money graph for the botters.  Why would the biggest power brokers decide to fuck around with 100% player population in their corps and alliances, and have to deal with all their stupid ideas and whining, when it is easier to generate income with a bunch of alt accounts and some bots?  The systems that alliances own and control don't need players in them.  They don't WANT players in them.  The fewer people there are around, the easier it is to run ratting and mining bots.  That's where there's a shit load of isk.  Bots are smart.  Bots are dedicated and focused 100% on task.  They aren't going to be watching fuckin LOL Cats instead of scanning local.  They aren't going to bail on you because their girlfriend wants to get some trim.  They see another boat in system, they get the fuck out of dodge.  They are going to pull in isk, all day, every day, no complaints and they are going to pay for their own subscription every month, a thousand times over.  And they do that.  And that's why such a huge chunk of that botting effort gets converted into real life cash.  There are "professional" Eve players and by "professional", I mean they make enough money by selling isk and game items for real money that they don't need an actual job.  CCP knows about these dudes too.  They have the logs.  They know what accounts are on 23.5 hours a day, 7 days a week.  If a player like me can use any one of the myriad of Eve sites on the net to see that there are tens of thousands of rat kills, like clockwork, EVERY SINGLE DAY in the Russian drone regions and in the Goonswarm regions, it's pretty much 100% guaranteed so can CCP.  All the whining about high sec bots is a laughable distraction from where the real problem is, but it's a smart and handy distraction.  How much can a high sec bot make an hour by ratting or mining?  2 million?  4 million?  Please!!!  Multiply those numbers by 100 in null sec.  It's a clever distraction though because the new players, and narrowly focused high sec bears, are pretty much oblivious to where the REAL botting is going on and how much money THEY are bringing in, and the big null sec boys like that, and CCP probably isn't going to say too much either.  Big rich alliances, buying PLEX, are good for both CCP business and for PR when the epic battles and to's and fro's take place in null.  Look at null!  Be rich!  Fly a Titan!  Change the course of Eve!  Even with the black market PLEXs that are bought outside of the official PLEX vendors, or the isk that is bought with real money to pay for PLEX, small minds need to understand that there is only ONE source for the PLEX in the first place!  CCP.

     Hence the balancing act.  The huge alliances will control as much null space as possible without pissing off players and invoking the wrath of CCP.  Guarding their core space allows safe and regular operation of bots.  The bots are not helping the game economy, but most players still think they will eventually get a chance to run with the big dogs just by good old fashion hard work, and the economy tends to stabilize itself, even with the bots.  Players will say fuck that if they realize that so many accounts and organizations are getting ahead faster with bots, than they will ever get with regular play - not good.  CCP tries to gauge a workable quantity of null sec botters that isn't high enough in numbers to break the game, they hope, but is still high enough to generate decent game income for them.  Real money trading (RMT) is always going to be around, and always has been, in just about every game, but CCP wants to try to keep a handle on it so that the RMT purchases don't skew the in-game economy to the point that it pisses players off, or it crashes the game economy, or both.  All this information is out there.  People just have to be genuinely interested enough to find it, and then read it.  It's the meta game.  High sec Incursions aren't the problem.

     The biggest sources of income are in null sec, yet there are so many null sec players going to high sec to make isk.  Why is that??  Where is all the isk going that is being made in null?  Who's getting it?  Who's controlling it?  If pvp is such a great part of Eve in null, why are so many up in high sec so often trying to earn isk?  Too few alliances in null, controlling too much power and money are the problem.  Just like real life.  And just like real life, the rank and file will get fucked in Eve, too.  And oh, look!  One of those big dog alliance dudes, along with a number of his buddies, are controlling the group that speaks to CCP on the players' behalf!  Wouldn't it be the craziest thing, if guys like The Mittani were playing "THE" ultimate scam in Eve, on Eve itself?  Any one of the alliances or vassals or corps could bring the "fun" back to null sec, all they need to do is grab their balls and go carve out a spot and claim it, and then defend it.  That's very easy to say, obviously, but there would be a whole lot of that pvp they're crying for.  In reality, the whiners are looking for easy mode.  Stay under a big umbrella, blob the shit out of anything that undocks, and try to force people to stand in front of them while they shoot.

The Point?  It's the Dunning-Kruger effect.  Do you want the red pill, or the blue pill?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

O.R.E. and their goodies . .

     Heeeere kitty, kitty . . .  It's amazing how hard it was to find something useful on ORE gear, aka their implants.  Google brought up a number of links but not a lot of it was useful, and even more of it was very old - like 4+ years old.  Maybe I was just doing it wrong.  Finally though, I finally struck pay dirt, and as it would happen, it was only mere minutes after my initial post.  That's usually the way it works though.  The ORE gear was much like the mumblings about Incurions from people I asked - a lot of rumour and little meat.

     So, I found out a number of small things, and then after getting them put together, I started being able to make sense of the whole ORE corp thing.  It's not that it is some kind of occult knowledge, or some kind of conspiracy, it just seems that a couple years ago when some game changes were made, aside from the NPC ORE corp's ships, their harvest implants and seemingly their mining lasers too, ended up being rare commodities. This, seemingly because the ORE agents stations were moved down into a null sec pipe in the Outer Ring region and that makes it hard for the average ore sucking care bear to roll on down there and casually go about his business running mining missions and grinding LP to get said items.  Hey, and what's up with the Primae??  I do PI, use mainly transports, but bought one, and wow, useless or what?!?

     DaOpa's Eve site was a great resource for finding out some of the details.  Don't know how old that database is, but at least I can see that the items I'm after aren't mission rewards (they still might be to some degree) but that they are LP store items that can be bought.  Cool.  Problem is, the lone high sec ORE agent won't talk to my toons.  Not sure why . . . yet.  They have almost a 2 standing with ORE, which should be more than high enough.  I guess I'll need to run some missions with a friendly connection to ORE and indirectly increase my standings with them that way in the hopes of getting high enough for the ORE agent to cough up some missions.  The ORE agent is part of the Sisters of Eve epic arc chain, so I'll start there.  Also, there might even be a BPO for the strip miners.  It isn't listed in the database, so maybe the sites aren't in sync because one site is out of date.  Either way, it's something else to keep in mind.  Just get the BPO and make my own miners because supposedly the ORE lasers have a couple km range boost.  I'd like that :)  If I could sell them and make beeellions and beeellions of isk, that would be quasi OK too.

     Handy thing, I also stumbled across this faction database that shows the relationship of the major factions and corporations in Eve.  Thank you Mr Arrs Grazznic!  Turns out ORE doesn't really like Amarr much, and my main actually has a -2 standing with ORE now.  Dohhh!  No matter, we're at war right now so I won't be running missions for a bit anyway.  I'll use this time to edjumacate myself on the ORE rep situation with the two lowbie toons.  Once they get up higher in rep, they can flet up and boost the other toon(s) indirectly.  Also, it appears that the smart thing to do is raise my Minmitar and Gallente rep.  Apparently ORE just loves those two races, especially the Minnies.  Figures . . . 

     None of this is likely a news flash to a seasoned player, but I am not one of those.  So, I'll run some level 4 mining missions and see how much cargo capacity I actually need for them.  I'll see if a tweaked BS could generate the necessary cargo capacity for them as even a gimped BS will have WAY more tank than any kind of mining barge.  It IS low sec after all.  Barring that, I'll look at the cheapest mining barge I can get that has sufficient capacity for level 4 mining missions, and see about running a bunch of them down in a blockade runner or three.  I'll need to do a preliminary scout and likely set up a bunch of safes in the joining systems and a bunch of safe warp-in directions to avoid any possible gate camps or bubbles.  Lots to do, lots to plan, but first, need to be on speaking terms with ORE.

The Point?  Like so many other things in Eve, you need to get your ducks in a row, but only after you manage to find out how many ducks you have in the first place . . .

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Eve Mentality: Mine

     I've always liked games.  Not sure why.  I don't like all games, but many different genres.  Games like Civilization, Doom, Age of Empires, flying games like F16 or X-Wing vs Tie Fighter and lots of different MMOs, from pretty much the Asheron's Call/Everquest on up.  Also played MUDs and MOOs before all the graphical gadgetry came along.  Games along the styles of those.

     I'm not a particularly angry person.  Loud, can be abrasive, can be angry, but only if poked with a stick.  I'm also competitive, but mostly just to see what I can do, and then try to improve on it next time.  Like in real life, I'm not going to try to win at the expense of some other player.  I know what it's like to be ganked or griefed, and didn't like it, so I don't do it to others.  In a game world, I know I don't have the time or energy or energy to be the best, the top, or have the most, of anything.  I play because some aspects of the game combine to make it an enjoyable experience for me.  I can grind if I have to.  I can focus on grinding in a sweet spot for XP, or for a special drop, or for rep.  I can deal with the tedium if I focus on the short term goal.  When things start to be a grind, I switch from one focus to another, and then start at the first focus point again.  In other games, I can also help keep things fresh by playing multiple races, or multiple classes of characters.  The different playing styles of different MMO toons, or different races in strategy games is an enjoyable change.   If I have to do that switch too often, or too quickly, or too many times, I start to lose interest in the game.  It isn't "fun" anymore.

     Eve is a different beast.  Once your cybernetics are maxxed out, you are learning as fast as you can.  I tweaked the attribute points to lean towards ships and most modules, but I probably would have been just fine had I left them pretty much stock too.  So, the "XP" part is going as fast as it can provided I keep the training que full.  Evemon helps there.  I don't get my jollies by ganking other players, but I will and do engage in PVP, like every other game I play.  I will also grind PVP if I have to in order to get a specific rep or item.  Again, neither of those aspects really apply unless I want bad enough rep with everyone else that I gain rep with the pirate outfits for their reward items.  I want to try just about every aspect of Eve game play, just to see what it is like to play that way (except for the griefer mentality).  With Eve, I don't need to hop between a tank, or mage, or healer or hunter - I can train it all with a single toon and then just hop between ships or clones.  I guess it ends up being the same ADHD style of play but seems easier than having to log in and out all the time - I just dock up and grab a new ship.

     I don't know what a general interest classifies me as.  I really don't give a shit about the background and lore of a game, just the game mechanics and actual playing.  I'm not much for customizing a toons look - I generally pick default, default, default, etc.  I want to pay the game, not play fashion designer.  In Eve though, I tried, unsuccessfully I think, to sort of make my main toon look like me.  It's funny, because other people often make their toon look like them too, but much more flattering perhaps than mine is.  Guys seem to make their female characters look like their wives, daughters or girlfriends - I am no different.  I will learn background or storyline ONLY if it is necessary or helpful to be able to investigate a new or different area of game play.  I am notorious for not reading quest or mission dialogues - don't care about the story.  More than once, that has caused problems, and I have had to go back and actually read the text, but I don't really learn from the few times there's been glitches - I just don't care about the story.  Break it down to the fundamental and salient points, and tell me who I need to blow away, and where they are.  In Eve, I rarely read the text on the left side of the mission window.  I focus on graphics, short sentences and links on the right side.  Sometimes I even have to reread the mission task once I get to the site to remember what I have to shoot or pick up.  Part of this is no doubt that I have multiple Eve clients open, but also, even "critical" details are just boring.  I must be more of a graphical kind of guy.

     So, I don't know what kind of a player this makes me, but I was curious to try the Bartle Test of Gamer Psychology.  Very impressive name, no?  Even if I flunk it, I still might be able to put it on a resume and say that I at least took it.  Apparently, it has been around for about 10 years, and the basic idea for about 5 years before that.  So I took it, not knowing how I would fit into the Killer/Socializer/Achiever/Explorer categories.  In my mind, the socializing would likely be dead last, explorer likely 2nd last, with probably achiever first and probably a bigger percentage than killer, which would be 2nd.

     I've done similar tests on other topics, and as my mind sort of works on patterns, it's not too hard to start seeing themes and "tracks" in the themes for each set or type of questions.  It's easy at that point to steer the test based on recognizing the theme of the different questions.  I try to ignore the patterns, focus on the question, and answer them like that one single question, is the only question I will be asked, ever.  that tends to help me avoid consciously or unconsciously skewing the test results . . . hopefully . . . usually . . . I think.  Anyway, I didn't really like about half the questions because for at least a third of them, neither of the 2 answer choices provided would have been my selection, based on the question.  It asks me if I would pick black or white, but I would never pick either of those - I would pick blue.  I guess it needs to do this to come up with the 4 different categories, but overall, I don't think the test is anything more than picking the best of two bad choices.  Much like politics . . .

     In the end, I scored a profile of Achiever 67%, Explorer 60%, Killer 47% and Socializer 27%.  I would have switched explorer and killer scores myself, but at least both the other two are in the right spot.

The Point?  Nosce te ipsum.  Also, chicks dig Latin ;)

Friday, November 25, 2011

War! . . . oh, and welcome to the alliance ;)

     Yeah, it's been a while.  From back to back war decs, to a nice long slow spell.  Maybe a month ago, we had a war dec from a tiny corp, but the alliance pretty much owned them and camped their ass into oblivion, so an agreement was made and the dec was dropped.  That was the OLD alliance.  The old alliance just wasn't working out, for a number of reasons.  They're definitely gonig a lot of places and killing a lot of players, but I don't think they have the active numbers, PVP or otherwise that I saw, to hold any particular area.  Nice guys though, and I hope we haven't left on bad terms.  I'd need to check on that I guess, but I'm really not too worried.

     So after a few days of alliancelessness, discussions started to commence with a new alliance, one that is hopefully more in line with our corp's timezones and our playing style.  I was forming up with an Incursion fleet a few days ago and talking to a couple dudes, and my CEO was talking to me on and off, and also talking to our new alliance's CEO, who also happened to be simultaneously, and at the same time, forming up with an Incursion fleet.  My CEO, being the clever shaved monkey that he are, put 2 and 5 together and asked if a certain person was in my fleet too, and he was!  turns out I was fleeted up with our new alliance CEO.  I tried to be on extra good behaviour to keep the stupid actions and questions on the down low, and I didn't not cause him or any other fleet members to get popped.  It was a good thing.

     Apparently, there are a fair number of alliance members that also run incursions, and as the CEO seems to be fairly savvy with incursions, I'll start seeing about how we can get some alliance and corp Incursion fleet action going.  Lots seem to be on in my play time too.  It'll be like a play date n' junk.  Awesome!  As I was doing ok on the isk front, due to the Incursions, I went to Jita and finalized the last few bits and pieces on my Bhaalgorn and logged off there for the night.  Why there?  Because the next day I'll be able to jump my arse in it and fly it off to Incursion glory!!  That's why!  Well, mostly, except for the war dec the next day . . .  No problem, I can get at least one day of Incursioning in, thought I, but life conspired against me with REAL STUFF to do!  More meh.  Well, by the time the war dec is done, I'll have Minmitar BS 4 and that will make the Sansha webbers fairly minty for range.  I guess the Bhaalgorn can sit for another week while its paint dries  :(

     So, about the war.  There are about 400 toons in the alliance.  How many are alts, I know not.  The war dec corp is small - 10 to 12 characters.  They war decced 2 other small corps, both under 10 members.  The corp tends to hang around trade hubs, ganking boats as they show up for trade.  According to the killmails, they do mostly small gang/solo pvp and they seem relatively competent at it.  The timings associated with their kill mails seem to mainly put them in a western North America time zone, at least according to Battleclinic.  400 vs 7?  First day/night of the dec, we camped their asses in Jita and they didn't come out.  I scooted off another few systems to their home and set a bunch of cardinal BMs around the 2 gates and their HQ.  I was hoping it was going to be a fast war, with maybe a mid-week cancellation.  Did I mention that I was hoping for an early war dec cancellation?  Yes?

     So, day two, not so good.  Turns out, how they work their magic is with a ton of neutral logis that like to duck in and out of station.  I don't know what the PVP history/character of the new alliance is like, but a bunch of boats were lost to the station bunnies.  Seems like they come out of Jita 4/4, sit there, wait to be engaged, then out pop all the neutral reppers and their boats then become pretty much invincible.  If anything untoward starts to happen to their logis, they dock up - NO aggression timer for neutral repping.  I heard this is one exploit that might be addressed with this new update coming.  Good.  If the odds don't look good for them when they undock, they'll likely dock up again without firing a shot.  Engaging them in their home system isn't really on the table when they play station games like that and there's no real reason to move away from Jita.  It has all the amenities they need, right there.  Only way to deal with them is to get them out in the open.  they seem pretty well schooled in the tactic and likely aren't dumb enough to get drawn out into the open where they will loose their advantage.  Trying to be sneaky and show up with big DPS boats isn't going to accomplish much either, I don't think.  It doesn't take a Sun Tzu War Academy graduate to realize that a bunch of BSs that show up at range, aren't there to take in the sights, especially if they are all red and flashy-like.  No, I think the best way to deal with them is make them move their rolling circus away from a station.  Get them at a gate, engage them, and hopefully get another bunch of boats on the other side in case the logis try to jump back if aggressed.

     The upside is, if all they are interested in is their station game, due to it's success, the chances are good that business can cautiously be carried out, almost like normal, if it is farther afield.  Oh yeah, there's also more than 20 members in their corp now, but a fair number might be alts.  So much for early cancellation . . .

The Point?  Location, location, location and it never hurts to plan for the long haul.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Incursions: MOM says she's ready . .

     Ok, so it's not actually the rats' "mom", maybe just their angry aunt or something.  The fights are fairly ferocious, and sometimes pretty fast though.  I've heard stories that guys have popped the Kundalini Manifest (the main rat mother/command ship) in just over 5 minutes.  That's some fairly major DPS if it's true.

     So, as posted prior, getting into the bigger, tougher Incursion sites, like the assaults, exposes you to more players that are also more likely involved with the MOM site fleets.  My first exposure to such a fleet was soon after flying with the SF assault fleet.  It was a contested site and we arrived after the fight had already started.  I guess the shield fleet had a hard time getting people to drag themselves away from the VG fleets.  So, the call went out, we quick dropped fleet after our FC arranged for our transfer to the MOM fleet, we all got picked up, given the system to warp to, jumped to the gate, and in we went.  Pretty chaotic.  Drones and wrecks everywhere, so I quickly tuned brackets off and then I was fine.  The FC was frantically trying to call out and tag targets, but with 170 chips in the site instead of a normal 85, rats weren't lasting long.  Shit was popping before I could even get lock at least half the time.  Needless to say, the armor boys won the day and scooped the loot.

     For all the players that do incursions, unofficially, they have organized into shield and armor "sides", and each have their own "official" channels, as far as the players are concerned.  At least in high sec, anyway.  If there are an even number of Incursions, the senior Incursion players pick one for shielf, and the other goes to armor.  If it's an odd number of incursions, the odd numbered Incursion MOM site is contested.  After players have farmed the Incursions enough, the incursion description changes, and players race to fleet up and kill the MOM site.  On contested sites, the faster the fleet gets formed up the better chance that fleet has of getting the ~64 million payout, per player, for about 20 minutes of work.  When the Kundalini Manifest supercarrier is killed, it drops a container with rare loot.  It's a race to loot the wreck and anyone can grab it.  The loot items are presented in chat, and interested fleet members bid on them.  Who ever manages to get the loot, gets 20% of the final bid prices and the rest of the money goes into an Incursion ship replacement fund.  Auction prices are crazy high, but no one seems to care, and it means there is ample cash to help replace ships lost in Incursions.  People are fairly savvy running sites now, so few ships get lost, and there is lots of cash in the funds.

     The next MOM fleet had ample warning and it wasn't contested - it was "owned" by armor.  We fleeted up and formed up, and got ready to roll out.  Lots of high powered boats, and while I was initially overwhelmed at the number of different ships when I started Eve, it's cool how you can fairly easily name ships now just based on their silhouettes.  At any rate, we all warped to the RV system, and got the briefing from a fairly experienced MOM FC.  Simple instructions, clear orders, everyone was clear, especially important for the logis, and in we went.  Considering there were over 80 boats in the fleet, things got organized fairly quickly in less than 10 or 15 minutes.  People's jobs were pretty simple, so we went about the task of clearing the site.  The only major worries in the whole site are the fighter bombers that the Kundalini supercarrier spits out.  They have insane alpha and need to be targeted and eliminated immediately, by everyone.  The drones are set on the supercarrier, and left there for the duration of the fight though, and everyone slowly trucks on over while we orbit the anchor.  This was a fairly uneventful fight, and after about 25 minutes, we popped the carrier, people dived for the loot, and we got paid.  Don't remember what the loot was, but it was all fairly uninteresting gear from my poor perspective.

     The next mom site was contested, and the armor boys got there a little late, so while we were furiously trying to out shoot those shield bastards, in the end we failed.  The picture to the right is just the fire power from a single fleet.  The rain of fire and lasers from a contested sight was truly prodigious . . . and potentially computer-stopping :)  The upside, was that we managed to scoop the loot before they did.  Yay!  I had just bought another incursion boat so I didn't have any excess cash kicking around to bid on any of the drops and I figured that if the bidding went anything like last time, I wouldn't be able to bid high enough, or want to bid high enough.  The one item was a Phantasm BP, and it went for about 400 million - 40 million in contracts.  The next was some kind of faction shield mod that also went for a ludicrous price.  The final was a single smart bomb that sold for well over 200 million.  ??  If I paid 200 million for something, I wouldn't be shooting it out into space afterwards!  Well, except if it's a ship . . .  Maybe it's a prestige thing?  Either way, stuff can be bought in auction or on contracts for much cheaper.

Kundalini Manifest + major face melting = MOM loot drop
      The 4th and latest MOM site was a casual affair.  Another good FC briefing, only about 10 or 15 minutes to form up and get organized.  Again, a couple twits people figured, "What??  What's the problem?  So what if I'm at war?!?"  What's with those people?  Lack of understanding of the aggression mechanic?  Anyway, in we go, pretty good firepower, judging by the rate that the rats are popping.  2 or 3 waves of bombers.  Steady drone and ship DPS on the Kundalini.  Re-targetting after the EMP bursts.  Popping the neuting and disrupting rats.  It all went good, and exactly 22 minutes later, I was 64 million iskies richer.  Cool.  Well, ~60 million richer after that money grubbing, bastarding, hoarding corp took it's tax cut . . . ;)  We'd all saddled up right nicely to the supercarrier to see if we were going to be the lucky fool that could scoop the cargo and get the 20% cash bonus from the auction.  No such luck for moi.  There was a faction fighter/bomber BP that went for something crazy like 1.6 billion.  I forget what the other two items were, but they both went for crazy amounts too.  The dude who managed to scoop the loot?  His 20% cut was something like 600 million!  I SOOO have to get in there for the loot! OMG!!

The Point?  MOM sites are another cool Incursion experience, and while they are routine with a good fleet and FC, I have yet to be targeted by the nasty stuff . . .

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Incursions: AF Assault experimenting

     While flying around in Incursions, wasting rats, I couldn't help but see the high traffic of a few AF Incursion FCs pretty much continually looking for players for their assault fleets.  This sort of got me to thinking.  Tons of people looking for SF fleets, and tons of both armor and shield fleets running Vanguards.  Fewer people running shield assault sites and apparently fewer still running armor assault fleets.  The FCs are obviously there, maybe it's time to go shopping for an AF boat.

N Apoc LFAF - I know, awesome name, right? ;)
      I knew the minimums fairly well for the shield boats, but sort of glossed over the armor parts.  Back to Jester's Incursion Guide I went.  Did some more reading, got the fits squared away in me noggin', so off to Amarr it 'tis.  I had more than enough money, and figured I'd go for a sniper boat, and with the training so far, a Navy Apocalypse seemed like a good fit.  I already had a couple Apoc snipers, so had a good idea how they flew.  Sort of glassy, compared to other Amarr BS's but excellent bonus to optimal range.  A suitable N Apoc was located, good leg room, plenty of trunk space, and I grabbed a bunch of faction beams, heat sinks and EANMs.  Fitted her up, and went looking for fleets.  I started advertising as soon as I hit the first incursion system, and I got picked up in a fleet before I even had the guns grouped and loaded.  :)  Sweeeet!

     I hooked up with an armor FC that sounded a lot like Arnold Schwartzenegger, and he ran sites about as effectively as Arnie clears out dens of bad guys in movies.  I'd read up on assault sites, but being my first armor fleet, again, I thought I'd ask.  I told them I'd run a decent amount of shield VGs and AS, but didn't know if there was anything that an armor fleet did radically different from a shield.  They said no, just follow the tags.  Cool, I just followed the tags.  These dudes were even more laid back than the shield assault fleets, but definitely more organized.  We'd get an extra assault site in during an hour, compared to how fast the shield assault fleet was run.  Since that first day, I've run with the same FC and a core of about 12 of the same players, almost every day.  Every once in a while there's someone new that has a completely jacked mic, or is using some form of stupid voice font, but other than that, everyone is pretty cool and knows what to do

     On one particular evening, the FC was calling it a night "early".  He's obviously European, and an early night at 8 pm my time means well into the wee hours of the morning his time.  He's an animal and must function on about 3 hours sleep each day, or he's retired.  Anyway, one of the fleet members is an experienced FC in his own right on assaults, HQs and even MOM sites, so he said he'd pick up the fleet and form an AF VG fleet out of what was left.  Obviously, a sniper Apoc is of little use to a VG fleet, so I asked if it was cool if I could stay in fleet and run an alt in with some faction pulse lazorz.  He said ok.  As it turned out, I was still hitting shit ok anyway, even with the beams and two tracking speed scripts.  Once a tractor beam or two lands on the fast boats, they're not so fast anymore.  I was thinking I'd go get some berserker drones again to help web the rats, but no real need with a Bhaalgorn or Vindi in fleet.  So, in about 30 minutes, I'd hopped an alt to Amarr, grabbed 8 Imperial Navy Pulse lasers, and brought them out to refit the N Apoc during a 2 min bio break.  The pulse were tracking better than the beams, obviously, but the most noticeable thing was the cap change.  in the armor fit, jester suggests to try to get at least 8 minutes out of the ship.  I'm just about 7 minutes with the beams, so a little weak on cap skills, and need to watch what I run and when, so as to not be a cap whore.  With the pulse though, I didn't need to worry about cap at all.  Very nice.

     The one nice thing about running regularly with mostly the same people is not that you get to know them so much, but that they get to know you, especially the FCs for the larger sites and the MOM fleets.  A number of the guys I fleet with are well known to the HQ and MOM FCs (if they aren't THE FCs) so any time a MOM fleet is forming up, you're usually lucky enough to get early warning and get into them.  That's more pew pew, and different pew pew, especially in a contested MOM site.  Small shades of larger low and null sec battles.

The Point?  Don't be afraid of tougher Incursion assault sites.  It's the same as the Vanguards, just follow the tags and pay attention to voice chat and broadcasts.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

POS UNbashery, WH style

     So there we were prepping to knock some neutral dude's POS down, when what to our wondering ears did appear, but eight tiny invaders and an alliance member with a POS issue in his WH space.  Ok, so the invaders weren't actually "tiny" . . . and, ok, there were more than eight.  Actually, I think there were EIGHT Guardians.  Anywho, this rescue effort happened just before, and between a previous POS being put in reinforced, and it's eventual unceremonious death.

     The WH owner gave us the system for the WH entrance, and I asked over vent what I should bring, and it was suggested a stealth bomber and a passive armour BS with RR capability.  NP.  I had a Purifier-of-extreme-destiny close by, so I went and got it and was told that I could go to system, warp to a dude at the entrance, and then given a warp-to toon for the POS itself.  Got the shield PWD, and in I went.  POS was already in reinforced, the bad guys were only in the WH in token numbers, and not a lot was going on.  In typical fashion, it seemed like one of those scenarios where the attackers were conveniently in a different timezone than the defenders.  At any rate, nothing much was going on, so I got the all-clear to pod back out to the high sec entrance and grab a Geddon with a RR.  Got the Geddon, all insured, and warped back to the entry system.  Docked at top and waited a little as it seemed like there was increased activity in the hole.  10 or 15 minutes passed, all clear was sounded, and we warped to the entrance hole, formed up with a handful of us, and in we went.  Warped off toward my POS bookmark, aaaand WOW, nice bounce off the shield!!  :)  Oh yeah, it was the BOMBER that had the password, and this is not the same ship.  Derp!  NP, enter the PWD, in through the shields, and jumped back into the Purifier.  Not a lot of activity in the hole ATM, so I thought I'd jet around and make a bunch of safes.  A very mature and prescient decision on my part it would turn out to be later.  Maybe everyone does that on a POS saving attempt in womrhole space, os maybe it wasn't all that mature OR prescient . . .

     At this time, the other, other POS bash was announced and a bunch of people formed up to go put it into reinforced.  As the Geddon was the only BS I had at the time, and the event was happening a fair distance away, AND there was already a decent amount of people fleeting up, I stayed in the hole to finish with the bookmarks, and then the POS owner and I went around and did a little repping on some of the batteries to get them back online.  He in his Guardian and me in my Geddon-uber-armor-repper were the only ones hanging around and none of the reds seemed to be present either.  We got a couple guns up, and he went around re-supplying some of the gun batteries that were still alive.  I logged in the hole for the night.

     Next day, I log in, and the dude is already up again and still working on repping some guns.  I jumped in my Geddon and decided to help out too.  We got another gun back up, and then some of the reds started showing up.  2 guardians and an Abaddon at first.  We slow boat to the shield wall, poke our nose out, get to reppin', he'd warp in to about 80km, we'd head back in and he'd start shooting as we went.  Then they'd warp off either to about 300km, or right off grid.  I'd target him and shoot back as I went in, and he had some fairly hefty firepower, but I was in no real risk of losing my Geddon.  I really didn't have too much planned, so I hung around with the POS owner and we played cat and mouse and tried to do some more repping and making sure he stayed busy and active by poking my nose out and making him come in.  I was alternating playing Minecraft and WOT at the same time.  :)  As a couple hours passed, more reds were online and in the hole.  They would come in with force, and the Abaddon would warp in and start offlining the guns while supported by 3 Guardians.  Not much we could do.  One of their HICs ended up dropping by once the guns were all offlined again, and set up warp bubbles at all the cardinal points of the tower.  There were a couple small holes to get out of, but overall, it was a fairly tight "rape cage".  I had to go out but left the toon logged in and in the hole.  I came back later in the evening and jumped out through the bubbles with my SB and went to make sure I had a sniper Apoc ready for the POS takedown the next morning.

     After the other POS was down in the morning, the alliance dude's POS was going to be coming out of reinforced later in the afternoon.  More alliance members were online by then and a plan was being formulated on defending it.  The reds numbers about 15 or more, with a LOT of Guardians, so we needed some major numbers with some good boats to have any kind of chance of doing anything.  The reds also had 2 or 3 boats outside the high sec WH, and the WH was near ready to pop.  Understandably, it was assumed that as soon as a big fleet landed on the hole, they'd no doubt jump back in trying to collapse it, and if it didn't collapse, any boats of ours that went in would likely be slaughtered.  Not being a tactician or strategist, or knowing what boat would help against another boat, I just waited til they said what boats they wanted people in.  It was decided that we'd primarily fly nano BCs, so I fit up a suitable Harby and we all waited a couple systems over for the word to move.  At this point, some wimbling ensued and a decision on how to proceed was trying to be worked out.  We still had a couple guys inside, and one of them was off probing for a back door and the second was ready to scan another hole once this one popped.  Still another player offered to fit up a boat with a pile of smart bombs on it, jump in the hole and see how many of them he could take out before they nuked him.  He was to be a bit of a distraction for when we either decided to jump in, or jump off to the new exit hole.  Also, it turns out the POS owner had lost his Guardian in one of those poke-the-nose-out-and-rep attempts.  Bummer.

     Time was ticking closer to the blue POS coming out of reinforced.  We needed to make a decision.  A bunch were told to land on grid and see what their reaction was.  Understandably, as anticipated, the red ships jumped back in, and closed the hole, BUT, not before our smart bomb boat went in too.  I think there were something like 5 or 6 boats at the WH, and I think he managed to take out 2 before they popped him, but in the mean time, our other player was busy scanning down a new exit.  He found one that took him through a couple more worm hole spaces, and then deposited him 27 jumps away in high sec.  Not so bad - we still had time to make the jumps and be in the POS shield before it dropped.  There were almost 3 dozen of us that started the trek to the new entrance, and, that's sort of when shit started falling apart . . .

     Some people weren't happy to make the jumps, so a couple quit fleet - alliance discipline to follow them later.  Some people had security issues and couldn't fly through some of the high sec systems.  So some had to drop fleet while others podded to the new entrance WH, while other characters ferried their BSs and BCs to the system for them.  We finally get there, everyone is gathered, we still have about 30, the other side of the hole is clear, so I BM the entrance hole and we all jump through.  I BM the wormhole space side, and we all warp to the toon at the next WH.  Everyone arrives, I BM this hole, the other side is clear, we all jump through.  I BM this hole now, and we all warp to the next WH.  One more WH system to go and then we're back in the POS WH.  Excellent, lots of time yet too, as in, still about 30 minutes.  But wait . . . what do you mean the BS can't jump through??  Nice, the next WH space is too low of a class to allow a BS through the worm hole.  Obviously, at this point, people are going WTF!??! and wanting to know why this wasn't realized earlier/told to people earlier, so they could have shipped down, in something that fit the hole.  Well, things were in a rush, and certain details got missed, I guess, by the FC.  Ok, so we lose a few more people that jump back out into Empire.  Now, we're down to about 2 dozen small boats, and from the intel we're getting from the POS hole, we are nowhere near sufficient firepower to do anything significant to the boats that they've got in there now.

     Meh, well, it's decided to go jump in anyway.  NP.  The remainder of the fleet jumps in.  This side of the hole is clear.  We mass jumped, and the hole is still there, so I quick BM it and name it GTFO!.  We were told there were a couple bubbles up around the POS, so we had to bounce off one of the planets first.  We all warped to the planet and then were told to self warp to the POS.  NP.  Just as we're getting ready to scoot, a whole pile-o reds land.  Holy baby Jeebus!  They're either a) in possession of a really good scanner, b) set up this location based on how and where they set their bubble, or 3) both.  My vote was for #3.  So, we all managed to get the hell out of dodge, and landed in the POS shield.  Everyone had the password, so no bounces.  At least one thing worked properly.  We got into shield and then the FC and some of the senior players were deciding what the next move was based on what ships were available at the POS, and what was outside the shield ready to make us cry.  They definitely had the advantage, so the plan was to grab whatever we could, self destruct the rest, and get the hell out of the hole, hopefully, with some ships and gear and our asses, intact.

     We're down to just a few minutes now.  I'm in the hole with my shiny new BC and I also have a Geddon.  We're told to SD everything and try to save as much of our expensive mods as we can, and our most expensive ship if we want.  My Geddon was worth way more than my BC, so big mistake, I jumped in that.  Someone else was going to SD some other boats and one guy was in there in his pod for some reason, so I told him he could fly my BC out.  Ok.  All is ready, ships are popping and we are all full speed heading for the exit WH.  Did I say that I shouldn't have taken the Geddon?  Anyway, we all jump just as our blue scout lands at the exit WH.  Uh oh.  The bastardy reds have closed it - we're already in warp, land on nothing.  A second toon in space is already scouting down new WHs and another toon is acting as safe spot target for fleet warps.  At this point, the FC is really starting to get a little wobbly - I don't blame him.  Another fleet member unofficially and gruffly steps in so "we don't all get fucking killed" and starts fleet warping us to the safes as the warp scout keeps hopping, and the WH toon keeps scanning.  We jump, land, align, and start to warp, as a red fleet about the same size as us lands on our ass.  This happened like three or four times and I am/was completely amazed that my Geddon managed to get its fat ass swung around in time to get out of there.  By the third of fourth time, the scout announces success - we have an exit.  Awesome!  Fleet warp to the new exit, just as the reds land.  Were goin' home Nancy, we're goin' home!!!

    Mid warp, "There's a snake in my boot!"  err, wrong line.  "There's a bubble on the exit!"  Well, shit.  I would have rather had a snake in my boot, or even my underwear, but that ain't Eve, is it!.  So we all land, and everyone is told to burn for the exit.  The reds have a Guardian, a Hurricane and another boat - likely the HIC that bubbled the exit, the bastard.  So, while I've got my trusty old Geddon firewalled, and burning to the gate at a healthy ~150m/s, I figured WTF so I targeted the Hurricane and started to lay some lazar love on his ass.  I was making good headway on him until his guardian Guardian thought that wasn't cool and started to rep him up like a good Guardian should/would/could.  I could do little else, so I let the drones go too, while our guys were jumping out, shooting, and a couple blues popping.  Meanwhile, the rest of the red fleet is starting to land.  It took a while and I'm not sure why.  They were so fast before, surely they would have jumped to their fleet buddies like we did to ours.  ?  Anyway, they were landing and shooting things up.  I had everything going, and shooting, and hardening, and repping, and droning, and figured I might as well start beating the hell out of the jump button.  At about 10km they started to focus more and more fire on me, as the rest jumped out or were popped.  I'm just coming under 8km from the gate, and I'm starting to think, "Man, I just might freakin' make it!!  Holy shit!"  I see the dude in MY BC jump out - cool, and that's when I realize I should have had my stupid ass in the BC, as a nano BC had no problem closing the distance to the hole.  Next time, I give away the boat with the fattest ass - I don't care HOW much it costs . .

     At about the 7km mark, I'm generating enough heat with my finger pounding the jump key that it actually feels like the plastic is starting to melt a little.  I'm grinning like that creepy fucking cat from Alice in Wonderland, and then I'm confused.  WTF?  Where did the WH go??  OMG!!!!  The hole closed!!  NOOOOOOOooooooooooooooooooooo!  Ok, ok.  Now what, now what??  I had my BM folder for the WH open, so I immediately started trying to warp to any bookmark available.  Somewhere I had read that if your aggression timer is ticking and you log out, you can still be scanned down and popped for 15 minutes.  So, I spent the next 15 minutes trying to avoid a couple enthusiastic scanners, in my pod.  After the first couple jumps, they gave up chasing me and went back to beat the holy hell out of the POS tower, so I kept jumping around, and then logged.  Oh yeah, and the dude that made it out no problem in MY brand new Harby?  Yeah, he got popped by Concord because he was KOS.  Meh . .

     So, for the next two days, I'd log on every now and then, waiting to find a time when a couple of the other alliance members that had stayed in the hole, were on and could help me get out.  I finally found one, so he scanned down an exit to high sec and waited at the hole, cloaked.  I told him I was in a pod, so he needed to be ON the hole :)  He didn't want me to de-cloak him, so I told him I'd activate warp to him, then he could take off.  It worked like a charm, no bad guys at the hole, and I docked up to the first station and bought a shuttle.  Busy couple of days.  Time to go "home".

The Point?  A)  Have a plan.  2)  If you take it into a wormhole, consider it gone.  C)  Have a plan.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Harvester Implants: Where, oh where?

     Being a currently Incursion-addicted miner, I am still none the less a miner at heart, it would seem, so when trolling through the implant lists on ye olde wiki at Eve University, along with the Highwall and Michi's implants, I also spied the harvest implant set.  While I enjoy the enhanced skill point training speed of using +5 implants, it makes me reticent to go after a harvest set because they only give a +2.  I have thoughts on that though.

     The un-thinking will say that there is no real benefit to using the harvests.  Really?  Time spent NOT warping to a new belt is time spent sucking on rocks.  That means more isk.  The wider swath of asteroids you can cut from a single location, the longer you can stay there.  maybe from the short sighted or narrow perspective of a single mining barge, sure, what's the point of the implants?  Not much, really.  From the point of view of a mining fleet, they start to have their value.  A lot of value.

- when you warp a fleet into a belt, either multi-boxing or with other actual players, you need to set up the boats and get the lasers going.  This isn't instant.  It takes time.  The more asteroids you can reach, the less often you have to do this.
- when you warp a fleet into a belt, setting up the barges on either side of the Orca nets an extra 4 to 5 km diameter to the mining circle while still allowing the barges to dump directly into the Orca.  Barges can motor over towards asteroids and the Orca can simply tractor the jet cans of ore over to empty them.  BUT, the more jet cans you have in space, especially high sec, the more of a target you are to gankers and flippers.  With high hulk pilot and orca skills, you can fill your cargo hold almost faster than the jettison timer runs out, plus, constant jet cans are a PITA.

     When it comes to the matter of the implant levels, there's a personally acceptable solution there too.  I have remapped the toons to help train the major skill directions faster.  For each +1 on an implant, it takes 5% off the training time, for a total of 25% if you have all +5 implants.  If I leave the +5 implants in a clone, but substitute the Harvest implants for any of the other, I'll definitely lose a little time on skill training, and won't be able to take full use of a Harvest full set, plus Omega, but even if I get another 5% range increase, once boosted with an Orca, that's more than a kilometer.  That's a nice extra boost, in my mind.

     For the actually "getting of the implants", well, that's another thing again.  They are few and far between.  There's only one set in contracts and the guy wants 4.5 billion for them.  LOL  NOT!  Mind you, this is quite likely in line with how hard it is to get them.  ORE agents, as I found, are few.  There is one high sec level 1 ORE agent.  All the rest are in low or null, and all pretty much stretch down a long red pipe to a dead end.  The entry system from high sec into low for this pipe, big surprise, has lots of activity - lots of kills.  All the rest of the systems down, and into, this ORE pipe are relatively low in activity and even lower in kills, according to Dotlan and Statics.  Battleclinic doesn't have a lot of kills registered down there, and the ones that are, aren't ever during my time zone of play.  No, based on the way I've gotten other implants, I'm thinking that they are ORE storyline rewards, the same way the other implants that I've gotten were storyline rewards.  Not all the storylines offer an implant, so I imagine ORE might be the same way.  That means, I would need the time to do 16+1 missions, mining ones mostly (I assume) and hope for an implant.  If all goes well down in the low sec pipe, I would need to do 85 missions minimum, to expect to get the full set of 5.  Not sure about the Omega, but it should be some kind of special mission too.  That's a lot of missions and no doubt I wouldn't be just running back and forth doing the missions in the agent system either.  There would also likely be the occasional combat mission thrown in there, just like the other high sec mining and distribution agents.

     So, something like 10 or 11 jumps into low/null sec.  85 missions minimum, with the level 4 ORE agent to hopefully get the implants.  That doesn't even count all the level 2 and 3 missions I'd need to run, and you guessed it Monty, the lvl 2 and 3 agents are all in the same pipe.  With all the social skills and the mining agent skill trained, it'll boost all the rep gains, but with all the agents being where they are, it's no wonder the implants are as rare as they are.  Also, it could be argued, they really aren't all that useful.  However, I will check things out over the next few days, maybe send my SB down the pipe for a recce, and see what the options are.  If I can get enough corp members down there.  We can all mission, plex and rat.  The extra people in system with enough boats might deter any lone wolves from going down for a gank fest.  Time will tell.

The Point?  I'll see how hard it will be to get the implants.  Even if I don't use them in the end, I can still sell them for a tidy profit as individual implants or as a set.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Insurance: Another peek

     So I did another look at insurance.  As I was experimenting in a Myrmidon on the lowbie toon in a storyline combat mission, I had completely forgotten about "orbiting" and was flying the BC in the combat mission like a parked BS in an Incursion.  Not an entirely clever strategy, especially in a toon with high indy skills and relatively low or non-existent combat and core skills.  Surprise, surprise, the Myrmidon popped.  This wasn't one of those "way in over your head" scenarios either, as the boat had dual reppers, AB and 4 active hardeners, so it was taking a while to die, but somehow I thought that as the rats popped, the incoming DPS would drop enough that the dual staggered reppers would slowly claw things back.  I hate running away, and that means I usually wait too long, and then can't run away in anything but a pod.

     Anyway, about the insurance.  Keeping a rough tally of the build cost of the Myrmidon, it was just under the 30 million mark.  About 20 for the boat and 10 million for the mods, rigs, ammo and drones.  The first BC that popped wasn't insured.  The "no insurance " insurance payout was about 7.5 million.  To insure the boat for the best policy was also about 7.5 million, and the payout is almost 29 million.  Total boat cost is ~37 million with insurance, so the net insurance return on its loss is 22 million, and a net loss of about 9 million.  If the boat wasn't insured at all, it would still be the ~30 million cost, minus the 7.5 million "un-insurance", for a net loss of about 22.5 million.  If I do insure it, don't lose it until after the insurance runs out, and don't insure it a second time, then the net loss is back to about the original cost of the boat, 30 million.

     Now, if I was a hard core pvper, I'd likely insure everything I undocked in.  It'd still be a money-losing venture, but not as bad as no insurance at all, obviously.  In my current PVE Eve universe though, I guess the only boats it's worth considering insuring are the combat boats.  The Hulks and Macs have paid for themselves multiple times and the risk of losing them is very low.  Same with the transports.  I'm not too worried about frigates, but I guess for battlecruisers and battleships, I'll likely insure them at least initially.  The bonus with Incursion boats, is that if you lose an armor incursion boat in an Incursion site, the crew from TDF and BTL will reimburse you up to 500 million.  Where, how and why?  Well, the money they make from auctioning off the MOM site drops goes towards a ship replacement fund, and as people don't seem to lose too many ships anymore, the fund is fairly flush with cash.

The Point?  If a ship is likely to be lost to misadventure, I guess it's worth it to insure the boat initially.  After that though, I likely won't insure it again.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Incursion: Assaults, SF style

     Whilst running some SF vanguards, one or two people had to leave after the one site.  While the FC was looking for replacements, he simultaneously, and at the same time, got a message from a player he knew and this other player was looking for a few people to fill in his SF fleet for running assault sites.  Well, not being one to look too critically at a new opportunity, I X'd up that I was in for some assaults.

SF Assault form-up
      The FC had a . . . unique style, to be sure, and it wasn't the fastest fleet to get set up, organized or get rolling, but as is often the case, if you're a little patient, and let people see that you understand how to take orders and are reliable, you just might get an invite back.  The other thing was that the VG systems were packed with players and nearly every site was either done before we could get there, or another fleet would drop in on us and contest them.  The contests were only about 50% in our favor too.  Suffice it to say I didn't need to be prodded very hard to hook up with a new fleet, in a different, hopefully less populated system, and experience some new Incursion sites.  Once I took my 2nd N Geddon the 2 jumps over to the assault system, wow, no one.  Awesome.  There were 21 people in system, and that was us.  Normally, an assault fleet will consist of 5 or 6 logis, 4 to 6 snipers and the rest DPS.  We had 21 because we had a booster character that was fleeted up, but off grid.  We get the war link bonuses, but don't need to share the ph4t l00tz with them.  It was an alt of one of the fleet members.  The Fc had a Teamspeak server, so he gave it to us and we logged in and formed up at a planet.

Full on SF AS pew pew :)
      Haltingly, we got going.  He wasn't sure on the tagging, and neither was anyone else, so one of the other guys was tagging, verbatim, off an Incursion site guide, and everything went perfectly.  The tagger tagged, we shot the tags, and the FC made sure the cats stayed in a herd and shot when he said shoot, and warped when he said warp.  It worked like a charm.  I hadn't read up on how to fly assault sites because I figured that was a ways off in my Incursion future yet, but it wasn't like I was the FC, so I got to see some new sites, different ways of spawning, different goals, it was cool.  The SF assault fleet was WAY more realxed than the VG fleets were for the most part.  Lots of younger/youngish sounding players who were pretty much min/maxxers looking for speed and violence and tons of isk.  The SF assault fleet however, was far more relaxed, more patient, and generally a lot more tolerant of small mistakes.  Before we started, not knowing much at all about the assault sites, I just pointed out that lack of knowledge, and asked if there was anything special I would need to do, or just follow the tags?  Just follow the tags.  Cool, I can follow the tags :)  And I did.  When you get red boxed in some of the sites though, by at least half the boats, they lay a serious shit kickin' on you :)  You definitely need to trust in your logis.

     In a little over an hour with the prior VG fleet, with all the competition, we'd only completed something like 6 sites in nearly an hour and a half.  As we slowly got rolling in the AS fleet, we did 4 sites in the first hour, and 5 in the second.  With a normal 11 man VG fleet, you get about 9.8 million per site.  With a 20 man AS fleet, we were getting over 18 million.  The atmosphere was much more relaxed, and the cash was better, aaaand, there was no one else scrabbling for the same sites.  Very nice.  A whole lot of fun.  Assaults are the way to go.  Let the impatient min/maxxing type spam the VG systems with their ship fits.  I'll cruise on over to the AS systems, and PM the assault FCs that I was clever enough to add to my contact list ;)

The Point?  Even if cash was the same, I'd still pick an assault fleet over a vanguard fleet as they tend to be far more relaxed.  I would be worried about advising ASs over VGs if anyone saw this blog besides my mother and I, and she only stopped by once, couldn't find anything on gardening, and left.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Blog Banter 30: The Melting Pot

     Some people amaze me with their ability to come up with really amazing ideas.  I am not that artfully minded, so by the time my bulldozer-like mental process puke out some funky idea, likely a billion other people have already thought it out, about 500 years ago.  For instance, I thought it would be very cool to have something to wear on your hands, the same way you can wear socks to keep your feet warm.  The difference is though, and get this, each finger would have its OWN little sewn pocket to go into.  How cool is that!  I would call them "hand socks".  I think they'll really catch on.  On to Eve though and what I would wish for if the devs had time on their hands.

     When I started playing Eve, I thought of two things - Star Wars and Firefly.

     For Star Wars, I spent a lot of time with my son playing X-Wing vs Tie Fighter.  Awesome game and there was many a joystick we broke or just plain wore out.  In that game, there was a lot of manual flying, but there was also times where you just set the throttle and flew.  If the devs had the time, I think it would be cool to implement joystick connectivity if you wanted it.  I had great fun chasing down enemy ships and shooting them, and I would enjoy chasing down rats and players and shooting them in the same way.

     While the Eve guns track and move, completely different from the small ship guns in X-Wing, once in joystick mode (which could be switched to with a hot key) a small targeting window would appear on the GUI (that could be re-sized and moved around) and in the small targeting window would be a fixed reticule.  This targeting window would also be able to have the camera view zoom in and out, like the main GUI, and is essentially the tracking computer/gun camera view.  In order to shoot the target, you would actually have to fly your boat.  The position of the guns sight reticule in relation to the ship you're trying to shoot is calculated by the combination of your character skills, and the tracking characteristics of guns, coupled with your flying speed.  A green reticule shows you are in range, yellow in falloff, and red out of range.  The better your gunnery skills, the smaller the reticule size.  Your rounds/damage can land anywhere inside the reticule, so the better your skills, the tighter the grouping.  In joystick mode, when the reticule is on target, that's where your guns will land.  When you're flying in joystick mode, you would be able to select either volley fire, or ripple fire.  Volley fire is great if you know you are on target, and all guns fire at once.  If you are trying to bracket the target, or your reticule is larger, or you have a tough target, ripple fire activates the guns sequentially.

     Switching into joystick mode would toggle cockpit view, so some simple windscreen/bridge layouts/views would be activated and you'd be looking out the front window of your boat.  Each boat, or more specifically race, would have their own style of layout but it would still have all the critical information concerning ship status and equipment.  Switching from keyboard/mouse to joystick would be no different than switching from normal GUI mode to map mode or planet view mode.

     Now granted, how "exciting" is joystick mode going to be for a sniper Apoc at 140km?  Quite likely not very.  But that would change considerably considering the size of the ships and the closer orbit ranges of some of the smaller ships.  Small ship fights and brawls would be much different than longer range encounters.  There are lots of joystick controlled games out there and people gravitate towards them because of the personal skill it takes to pilot any particular craft well.  At the same time, other might say it would be too hard to control.  It would be too hard to learn.  Point of fact though, the targeting/reticule window is EXACTLY how pilots of C-130 gunships aim and how most fighters aim (via HUDS).  They fly their planes to put the reticule on the target.  This idea might be impractical for Eve's ship mechanics, but joystick flying a spaceship is a blast :)


     The second part of the idea is fairly simple in scope, but fairly massive in execution.  All the individual aspects are being worked on, or will be worked on by CCP anyway, it's just a matter of putting them together.

- CCP has Eve, space and their spaceships
- CCP is working on adding internal game play and avatars to Eve
- CCP is working on a ground based MMO in the form of World of Darkness
- CCP is working on a ground based addition to Eve in the form of Dust 514

     Now, just put all those together.  See?  Told you it was simple.  :)

     Fly your ships around in space, and anything smaller than a battle ship can fly a few more places.  If you warp to a planet, you don't just warp to a planet, you can select a city to warp to as well.  Warp to high orbit, in the docking space of a ground city, and fly your ship down and dock at a spaceport on the ground.  there could even be different space ports for different ships, IE commercial/freighter, shuttles, repair facilities that are player owned, etc.  All the commerce and businesses that exist in space could also exist on the ground.  Take any aspect of an MMO other than Eve, and incorporate that mechanic to the ground portion of Eve.  The missions, the industry, the ground based skill sets, everything.

     Scanning skills in Eve could also benefit scanning and exploration skills for new planets.  Certain planets would by necessity have certain, unique, city structures, keeping in line with what Dust and current PI needs are.  In the space age theme of Eve, (and/or Star Wars or Firefly), expanding to different planets, systems and regions is just a matter of a player doing it.  Default, NPC "basic" settlements could/would exist to help an explorer with basic necessities on any planet they are landing on, but planet development would be directed by players and what they transport/freight in, and what they set up.  Anything that the player can do in space, can be done in a similar ground-based theme.  New player income and occupation opportunities would abound.

     So, like, I know.  "Dude, sounds like a job.  Sounds like life.  I play Eve for fun, not another job!  I play Eve to get away from real life for a little while!"  Yeah, but the difference is, as massive and all-encompassing as the Eve "universe" (truly) could be, with the amalgamation of space with the ground, you can walk away from it.  If you're bored with space, go "live" on a planet.  in real life, you have to do a lot of boring and tedious things, you have to "work", because it pays the bills.  In Eve, if you're bored with running a mining/industrial POS in a WH, go try a mining operation on a planet where you manufacture weapons and vehicles for use on a planet.  Go be a ground based bounty hunter or merc.  Be a bandit and hijack ground based shipments or operate a shipping agency, ground to ground, ground to space, planet to planet, whatever you want.  Is every planet going to be civilized?  What kind of intelligent life or animals will be on each planet?  At what evolutionary stage will each planet be?  Want to fight alien dinosaurs or dragons?  How about advanced AI machines?  Whatever CCP and the players can come up with, there's thousands upon thousands of planets just waiting to be populated.

     As monumentally huge a project as something like this would be, the upside is, EVERY gamer, whether they are console or PC, shooter, griefer, avatar-fan, whatever, they all would have a spot to fill, a place to play, a piece of gameplay that fits them.  Want a melting pot?  Eve: Universe.

On a more pragmatic note, maybe this is the direction CCP is headed anyway once they find out how well Eve and Dust are going to interact.  Hope so, but it would be a fairly massive undertaking.