Sunday, October 30, 2011

Incursions, HO!

     Incursions are intimidating.  Incursions are funky, custom anomalies that spawn in random locations around the Eve space.  Incursions are hard.  Incursions are harder not only because the actual systems that are "enjoying" the incursions, usually have major debuffs associated with the event, but also because the rats themselves are tough bastards.  And they're smart bastards, like sleepers.  Smarter and tougher than epic and COSMOS rats - not sure if they are as smart as wormhole rats though.  Because of the rats' increased difficulty level, and their non-standard "rat AI", you need a specially fitted boat.  Just like PVE and PVP fits are unique, so are Incursion fits.  This is my l'il fella, a Navy Armageddon.  I call him Bill.  Not because of "Bill" as in "William", but rather, "Bill" as in how much its ass cost me.  When I get a faction pyr8t3 boat, it's name will likely be BILL!

Incursion flavour Navy Geddon

     Actually, his name is " N Geddon LFSF VG".  I know, LAME, right?  But, as is often the case during specialty endeavors in games, Incursions have a small chunk of language and terms unique to themselves, the ship name is easy to identify when dragged and dropped into the Incursion channel.  I could wax poetically and repeatedly about the gears and coils of incursions, but there are already excellent sites that do this.  I read through Jester's site, as well as this one, multiple times, to make sure I had the basics down and wouldn't be the cause of other players getting their shiny and mostly expensive boats all shot in the face, and stuff.  So, no, this is just about my first incursion excursion, and intimidation.

Incursion site
     With a lot of reading, I found my main toon had the chops to come very close to making a battleship as outlined on the various Incursion help sites.  So I made one, with the end state being grabbing one of the pirate battleships once skills and my wallet are suitably elevated.  I read up on the nomenclature of Incursions, the types of sites, the roles, the techniques, the hot chicks cheering from the custom's offices, the spider fleets and the tagging system.  I was pretty confident I could do my job as DPS and not screw things up too badly.  Other MMOs have much more complicated missions, raids and quests than the Incursions, at least as far as the event mechanics go.  So, when the alliance mailed an Incursion event, dude, sign me up!

'Sploding faces in my first Vanguard, EVAR! :)
     I went and grabbed the NGeddon, warped to the rally system, and grouped up at planet 1, which, seems to be where most Incursion groups rally.  It was a great opportunity to see large (for high sec) numbers of rather elite shiny ships.  Overview was trimmed down to only show warp gates and rats, tags were enabled - let's rock!  One of the fleet was zipping around doing room recces to make sure no one else was running the Incursion room.  Our fleet wasn't very heavy on the DPS, but we had at least three logi ships who did an awesome job of keeping everyone alive.  When a site was clear of other players, the anchor would warp in, and once in warp, the fleet jumped next.  As per standard operating procedures, I had the anchor, my cap transfer buddy, and the drone controller in my watch list.  On landing, I popped my Hob 2s, right clicked on the drone buddy, to assist.  He controls all the drone action.  I kept control clicking my cap Xfer buddy (in a Raven) until he landed in the pocket too.  I would also alternate those efforts with right clicking the anchor player, in my watch list, and selecting a close orbit - in my case, it was either 2500 or 5000.  Everyone orbits the anchor, so that every one stays in range for repping and transfers.  Transfers are a good thing because my Geddon has a bit of a fat ass and sucks juice like it's dying of thirst.  After that, it's just call for cap or shields as needed from the fleet control panel, listen to instructions from the FC about target selection and aligns, and melt gaping holes in the tagged rats.  Rinse and repeat for 10 million iskies a pop.

Getting primaried.
     We were trying to speed run the sites as best we could, but as the fleet was designed to get alliance members experienced with incursions, plus, helping null sec players to earn some more isk, a number showed up in BCs so DPs was a little on the low side.  No matter though, as mentioned, the logis never let a single player drop.  I was getting my fair share of attention from the rats and their missiles, and it was a little disconcerting to see the shields getting pounded like that, but after seeing how well the logis could rep, I just called for shields when I was red-boxed, and concentrated on doing my job.  It's very low stress when the rats are shooting at someone else though :)  One funny incident, one of the players had targeted and accidentally shot one of the fleet members in one of the initial stages of one room.  Concord was good enough to show up and 'splain to him what a big mistake that was, by popping his boat.  I think it was only a BC.  So, he ended up warping off to reship - not sure if he called it a day after that though.  It was interesting that Concord and the Sanshas didn't get into it.  That would have been cool to see.  I can understand the inactivity though.  It would be a very easy exploit to warp in with the fleet in a cheap boat, immediately target and shoot at someone to bring Concord, and then let Concord help speed run the incursion room.  The logis stopped repping the dude too, or they would have been popped as well.  As much of a pain in the ass as it is, that's why I have never turned off the Concord warning screens.
Contesting the Vanguard
     In one of the rooms, when our scout warped in, there was another boat in there, but only one.  We all warped in anyway, and cleared the site.  A couple sites later though, we warp into a room, and then along comes a whole HERD of shinies, right on top of us, and proceeds to contest the room.  We had a head start on them in clearing rats, but they had Machariels, some Nightmares and Vindicators.  WAY more horsepower than us, and in short order, the room was sorted out, and they walked away with the bonus.  Someone mentioned we could try and bump them to get them away from their reppers and links, but they were slaughtering the rats so fast, there really was no point.  Some very impressive firepower.  They were very pretty boats too.  I'm looking forward to getting some :)

     So, we managed to get about 10 or 12 sites under our belts as a group, as some people had to leave and others replaced them.  In less than 2 hours, I made 100 million iskies, and raised my sec status .24, which was nice.  Obviously, that wasn't the bigger Incursion sites, but it was great fun, a great learning experience and some pretty sweet isk.  If the alliance runs them more often, I'd be in like Flynn.  I'd be fine running them every day.  Lots to do and lots to earn before it'd ever get to be a grind, at least for me.  Getting into a PUG fleet is often problematic because so many people are showing up with very nice boats already, but, with some perseverance, and a decent boat, you should get in eventually.

Shiney Deltole Nightmare.  Niiice . . .  :)
The Point?  Incursions are harder, and the ship requirements are/can be fairly high and fairly expensive both in cash and skill points, but they aren't as hard as I thought they were going to be.  With competent logis and paying attention to your own screen, they're actually fairly routine, at the Vanguard level ;)

Friday, October 28, 2011

POS: For effect

     After my first little POS party, I did some homework to make sure I was up on the requirements and ready for some POS tear extraction at a later date.  There were a number of other opportunities, but alas, I couldn't fit the party into my schedule.  One finally came along that I could fit in though.  While I was away for the initial attack, I was going to be available for the final run on it, in about 37 hours.  At the same time, an alliance member was having some POS issues of his own, but that's another story.
     The POS was conveniently located in a system that was only a handful of jumps into low sec, not too far away from tha alliance's area of operations, and equally close to where I had positioned all my toons boats.  I had a fairly useful sniper Apocalypse that could handily reach out and touch things at long ranges, but as the batteries were all offline, range wasn't too big of an issue, so I was planning to use multi frequency crystals for some extra pew pew lovin'.  Start time was fast approaching so I started moving the BS's fat but to the system and got some alts in their cloaky frigates to post pickets at a couple systems close to the POS system.  The whole area was fairly quiet but apparently the station's owner was in and out a couple times while we were scratching the paint on the POS tower.  Not sure which gate he was using to come into the system as the gates I was watching showed no activity aside from our blues coming to the party.

     We commenced to shoot, and shoot, and shoot.  Large tower, lots and lots of HP.  As I was monitoring the life of my navy faction crystals, they were regularly damaging themselves at a uncomfortably rapid rate.  Running all 8 lazorz was slowly depleting my cap, so I ungrouped them and just ran 7 so as I wouldn't have to ask for cap.  I'm not even sure if we had anyone on cap booster duty.  As I didn't want to go all n00b on things and pop all my crystals, I took another alt and brought in another set of navy multi and standard crystals with a cloaky frigate.  The systems on the way in were all scouted and clear, plus I had safes, so it was an easy matter.  Did I mention it was a large tower that had a shit load of HP?  Amazingly, I didn't pop a single crystal as we finally downed the tower, scooped up a couple faction modules, and then proceeded to pop all the batteries and arrays . . . and there were a lot of them, all in one big crazy cluster.  I remember some of the POS sites I'd red say that it was smart to keep them separated if for no other reason than it made it a little more inconvenient for people to blow them up on you as they would have to travel around a bit.  In this case though, I just sidled up to about 30km, with everyone else, and we laid waste to everything, one at a time.  For straight up kill mail whoring, it's best for everyone to shoot at the same target, that way, everyone gets in on every KM.  Some people were individuals though and popped shit that there were only one or two names on.  Tsk, tsk.  Bad monkeys . .

     Oh yeah, the dude that owned the POS was a neutral.  So yeah, every time I went to shoot at anything, I got a sec hit and a GCC timer.  Lots of the alliance members are already KOS so it was no big deal for them.  By the end of the festivities, I had lost over 2 points of sec status and was now "a yellow".  No big deal as I figured I would eventually grind it back up as I missioned (which I almost have).  So, with the last GCC still ticking, I docked up after a minute of waiting, to wait out the rest of the GCC.  The station guns onlyI moved the rest of the toons back out of low sec and reshipped for some missions and mining with them.  After GCC was up on the BS toon, I undocked and headed for high sec to reship too.  I get to the last low sec gate, which is clear, and jump back into high sec with the Apoc.  Gate fires, slow load.  . . . aaand, it's still loading with the screen of extreme blackness . . . aaaand loading, aaand loading. WTF?  Thinking maybe I disconnected, but the other toons are responding, so I wait it out.  Screen finally loads, I have a new GCC in high sec, and the warning sirens are howling like banshees as the last of my armour disappears.  Wow, so I quick try to align to get the hell out of dodge, and throw on every repper and mod I can click.  I can tell you what DOESN'T help, is to pick up the mouse and click the buttons while repeated and violently stabbing your hand at the screen, swearing in Klingon.  Good luck with that!  So, in about 3 shots, those terribly nasty gate guns howl through the hull too and that's it for the Apoc.  Nice glitch.  No idea where the GCC came from as I was clear when I undocked and came through 3 low sec systems, plus, I was only -2 for sec status, not even KOS.  Luckily, I had a toon with a salvager in system so I quick rolled over as I orbited the BS wreck in my pod.  Scooped up most of the more expensive mods, and got a little cash for insurance.  Bummer.  Got a bunch of kill mail whoring done though with all the POS bits I helped explode though.  So, not a total loss, I guess . . .

The Point?  POS bashery is fun, as a different kind of activity, but not so fun when a neutral's POS lays holy havoc to your sec status, and then a magical GCC, and some karmic gat lag, lays holy havoc on your mostest favorite battleship.  "You sunk my battleship!!"

Thursday, October 27, 2011

COSMOS is a launch: 4 agents in . . .

      Whilst waiting for the 4 research skills to finish training up to level 3 for the R&D agents, I thought I'd scoot over and check out the first COSMOS agent.  I have a number of sites listing the COSMOS agents, but the Amarr COSMOS links at Eveonline's wiki is about the clearest, to me.

      Once I got to the first agent with my main, I realized I only needed a faction standing of about 2 to talk to the agent, so I brought the other 2 research toons over too.  One in a Hoarder, and one in a Catalyst rigged up for cargo and salvage.  The first agent was all fedex runs to a max capacity of 500 m3, so the Catalyst had no problem with that.  I ran the three toons at the same time doing the cargo runs.

     The next COSMOS agent had a couple low level combat missions, so I took my main back and picked up my Navy Omen to speed things along.  I started warping back the few jumps to the agent's system and checked the mission descriptions out on the way.  As more and more agents would be giving combat missions and the distribution runs were small loads, I figured I'd get one of the other research toons into a Vexor cruiser, and the other toon in a Noctis for long range salvage duties.  The salvage totals might not be a lot, but it's free cash and loot.  I ran the Aphi combat missions with the two cruisers, and used the Catalyst to salvage when the gate wouldn't allow the Noctis in.  No real problems on the second agent.  While doing ship and ammo runs, I had one toon jumping through the belts killing the rats to pick up a few special items for the missions - Dynasty Ring, Encoding Matrix Component, and Enigma Cypher Book.
      I jumped over to Zimse for the hacking agent.  I looked at some of the other agents and figured I needed to train up a couple of the combat skills on the other two toons a bit to be able to tackle the L3 combat missions.  The COSMOS missions are obviously tougher than normal missions of the same level and noob toons in a T1 cruiser weren't going to cut it.  My main can scan and hack, so he opened the "right of passage" jetcan, and just passed the items to the other two toons, who were slowly levelling up pew pew skills, and had the hacking and astrogeology skills in que.  A quick and easy way to complete the solo missions with the agent.  One of the container items was a key to allow use of the jump gate.  The jump gate dumped you off in a room with a TON of rats, of all shapes and sizes, and a shitload of cans.  My scanning Harby only has 4 guns and some Hob 2s, along with all the RR, hacking, decoding, tractor and salvage mods, so it wasn't really equipped to hang out in there and slug it out with fast spawning deadspace rats.  The room was FULL of wrecks, yellow and blue, as well as a Gila, and Abaddon and a Geddon, and lots and lots of cans.  I imagine the cans are for some other mission from some other agent.  I managed to tractor and salvage a couple cans, and pop a couple rat cruisers who thought I was juicier than the other players' ships, but with the gimped DPS of my scanner boat, I wasn't hanging around in there.  I can always use the gate key items another time and go in with some more firepower and a Noctis.  See what kind of goodies drop.

     I moved a few systems over to Munory to do the two agents there as they were L2 combat missions, interspersed with a couple fedex runs.  I went into the first room of the deadspace leading with the NOmen, then followed up with one of the Vexors.  The Catalyst was waiting outside the gate (the Noctis was too big for the gate . . ) until the aggro was on the cruisers, and more had been popped.  Managing the two cruisers was easy enough, but the Vexor DPS was definitely on the weak side with rails and anti/iron/lead ammo (for range options), but the Hob 1s and a huge drone bay on the Vexor helps.  The NOmen was tearing through the frigate rats easy enough with the help of Hob 2s, so I brought in the Catalyst to salvage as I moved the cruisers toward the back of the room, clearing as I went, to access the 2nd room's jump gate.  There was a special drop from the wrecks, so I was scooping them up to save for later for all the toons - Bug Ridden Corpses, I think it was.

     As I got all the wrecks cleared, and got to the gate, I was waiting on the Catalyst to finish up salvaging as it slowly flew the ~20km to the 2nd gate.  The room started to re spawn.  Being first time in the room, I didn't realize it re spawned so fast.  No problem, says I.  The rats were spawning in 4s, and I was able to keep on top of them with the 2 cruisers and their drones, so I continued on with the slow boating destroyer, salvaging as I went.  I was keeping up with things very nicely until 4 new rats, frigates, spawned pretty much right on top of the destroyer.  I had 2 salvage rigs, and a cargo hold rig in the destroyer, cargo expanders in the lows, and a T2 shield booster in the mids along with an AB2.  I started laying into the rats with the cruisers and hit the SB on the destroyer.  I clicked the overview to start the warpout, and the destroyer was still in good shape.  As the cruisers popped two of the rats, 2 more frigates and 2 more cruisers spawned.  They also decided that the destroyer was a tasty morsel, and with the shield repper on and the AB cycled once for an insta warp (and hopefully a little range) the Catalyst almost made it out before turning into sparklies.  Meh.  well, at least it was insured.  I killed off the rats and tractored over and salvaged the destroyer wreckage, and picked up the mods and special loot items, and left the rest.  I sent the pod off to grab a shuttle and then head a handful of jumps over to Amarr to buy a Vexor and shield fit it with 3 slavagers and 2 tractors.  As I needed to get into the 2nd room and grab a mission item, I figured I'd take the 2 cruisers and belt rat to grab some more of the special loot items I'd need while I grabbed another vexor and jumped back.

     Picked up some more belt rat items, and got the shield tank Vexor back to system with a full compliment of drones and some extra ammo and Hob 2s.  Back to the 1st room, lots of blue wrecks, no one around.  NP.  Motor straight to the back of the room, towards the 2nd jump gate, and and motor the salvage Vector to the gate, salvaging as I go, while I set up security picket at the gate with the other two cruisers.  A few rats start to re spawn, but the pew pew cruisers sort them out in short order.  A couple frigates of the next 4 that spawn, target the salvage cruiser, but the drones are out, shield repper is going, and they aren't even scratching the salvager this time.  Cool.  The three boats get to the gate, the NOmen jumps as scout, and the other two hang back.  2nd room is clear and I need a can at the end of it.  A Drake has made a ton of blue wrecks, and just jumps through the gate at the end of the room.  Drones out, recall the drones on the Vexors, and they jump in, just as 4 more rats spawn in the 1st room.

     All the toons are in the 2nd room.  Drones out, NOmen is heading towards the back gate with the Vexors in tow at 500m.  The NOmen and combat Vexor have nothing on the overview except rats, stations/gates, and large collidables.  The salvager has a similar overview tab, but it's set for wrecks and cans, which it is scooping up.  4 frigates spawn.  The two cruisers auto target, lock and engage, and take care of the frigates with some auto-help from the salvager's drones.  Never being in this room before, with an adult at the controls, one would have waited for complete re spawn to maybe check out what the room was like.  unfortunately, I was at the helm, not an adult.  I also didn't know how the Drake had taken out the spawn, nor how fast, but apparently it was pretty damn fast, because . . .  Just as I'm popping the last 2 frigates, 4 more spawn.  We're about 10 clicks from the gate.  The cruisers are on the frigates like white on rice, and all reppers are running, just in case.  2 more frigates show up, and think the salvage Vexor looks like an easy mark.  No prob . . . mostly, but then 2 more frigates and 2 more cruisers show up.  They think the salvager is dead sexy too, as it turns out, mostly the "dead" part.  I'm monitoring how fast the cruisers are taking out the rats, but there's like still 8 rats on the field now, and while the 2 pew pew cruisers can take the pounding, even though the salvager has a much better shield tank than the other Vexor, it pretty much doesn't mean shit with 6 boats pounding on it.  Still too far from the gate to panic jump into possibly another hornet's nest of rats, I hit the overview and stabbed the warp key.  Once the shields finally went, the armor came down pretty fast, and the hull faster still.  It almost made it to warp . . . almost.  In the time the salvager was trying to exit, stage left, the other two cruisers were down to 4 rats left, and took them out before more rats re spawned.  While the NOmen went for the mission item, the other Vexor tractored the other, OTHER Vexor wreck over, picked up the shinies and the special items, and warped out.  The salvage toon warped to station to pick up his pew pew Vexor, which was fit the same as the other pew pew toon's Vexor, with one salvager and a tractor.  At least the other cruiser was insured and I got all three salvagers and both tractors back.  Huzzah.  :)

     All three went to the agent, completed and picked up quests, and while my main had to go into the third room now, the other two were after the item in the 2nd room.  Warp-in and room clearing was pretty fast now that I had done the room twice already, and had three shooters and 15 drones out, 5 of which were Hob 2s.  Looted and salvaged a couple wrecks along the way, just for shits 'n grins, and hit the gate to the 2nd room.  Jumped the NOmen in, popped drones, and started engaging wile the Vexors pulled drones and jumped.  They landed in the room with guns hot, cleared the close rats, and sniped the rats at the back with standard crystals and iron ammo.  Much easier process this time, and amazingly, no one was dying but rats.  The 2nd toon got the mission item, and the NOmen jumped into the 3rd room to take out a tower.  1st time in the room, lots of blue wrecks, but all the rats were at range.  Too easy - started into them and jumped the other 2 Vexors in.  Popped drones, locked targets, and started slowly motoring to the tower, while tractoring in some of the larger named wrecks that I could see.  Popped the tower, grabbed the goodies, and road trip back to the agent.

     I wasn't sure on the re spawn timer for the structures otherwise I would have bulk accepted the missions and ran the rooms concurrently for all three toons.  As it was though, I went through the rooms three times, and was getting pretty good at it :)  Speed and violence, grabbed a little loot, scooped the mission items, popped cruiser rats, destroyed structures, and made babies cry.  It was all good.  Warped back, turned the missions in, grabbed the combat and fedex missions from the next agent and used my fancy triple boxing mission skills to whisk through the 5 mission set and scoop some more blueprints and goodies.  As I warped from mission to mission, I'd activate all the modules and weapons so when auto target locked the rats, I was already weapons-hot, and two or three rats would automagically be in peril.  It gave me plenty of time to launch drones and top up the targetting que.

     After all the mission goodness, I headed back closer to the miners to run a few more Carthum missions and be close to starting R&D with the one L3 agent.  So, one toon is doing R&D, and the next two will be doing the same in a couple days.  Before heading back to do more COSMOS though, I'll do a little mining to boost up the currency reserves a little, and see about getting the combat skills up on the other two newer toons.  I'm thinking they're going to need to be in at least BCs or the L3 COSMOS missions are going to eat them alive.  My main has a well fit Apoc that will handle the missions, so I just need to get at least BC level and some more weapon skills for the other two alts.  That might take a few days . . .  No matter though, it's all good missioning time and mining time.  In the interim, I might even be able to finagle my way into a Incursion or two and pull the shipping plugs out of the lazars on my Navy Geddon.

     Using the three toons, I also want to try some spider tanking in missions, but that, once again, will require some more skillz, yo.  Maybe I'll do a little practising on those COSMOS rooms with the cruisers.  The spawns are CRAZY, at least for me  :)

The Point?  COSMOS missions are a cool little diversion from other Eve activities, even normal missions.  BUT, need to have your shit wired moderately tightly before jumping into their guts, because their rats definitely aren't :easymode:.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Gamers & coders

     Eve is an interesting MMO.  I've played a lot of them, and been in a number of alphas and betas.  Even for "small"ish MMOs, especially in beta stages, where the players have a pretty tight connection with the developers, the connection that the Eve players have with the game, is pretty unique.  Maybe it's because the game is as old as it is.  Maybe it's because of the more wide open nature of the game architecture.  Maybe it's because I'm getting older and pay more attention (for whatever reason) to the people mechanics behind the game mechanics.

     Either way, with the recent lay-offs, Eve's meta-sphere lit up about it.  As angry as capsuleers may have been, I never saw anyone say that it served CCP right, and they deserved it, for screwing up Eve developement like they have.  People seemed genuinely concerned and wished the best for the people that were laid off.  Maybe people would be like that about most businesses, whether they liked the business or not.  Interestingly, some of the players actually hinted at blaming other players as being partially to blame for the financial problems and the layoffs.  That's funny, and incredibly naive.

     A number of astute bloggers/players have been pointing out CCP's financial woes for a while now.  A number of the players also seem to be in positions of corporate leadership, personnel, development and/or financing, and seem to be fairly prescient when it comes to guesses about CCP's mindset and future.  When CCP's corporate operations are available to players who know how to read it, and know what they're reading, it's no surprise people like Jester can be as accurate as they are.  CCP borrows some cash to try to expand into other projects so they aren't a one trick pony with Eve.  In this day and age, diversification isn't a cool corporate catch-phrase, it's a necessity.  I see it daily in my business dealings at work.  CCP hoped it could get not one, but two projects (Dust and WOD) off the ground in the time line they had (~2 years) to get more money coming in, and they tried to do it without gimping Eve too badly, their main cash cow, in the process.  Emphasis drifted away from Eve (aka flying in space) as they tried to get more money-earning projects online.  The NEX store backfired on them, Incarna and its walking-in-stations was a big "meh", and World of Darkness is a definite no show yet and there's no doubt a lot of pressure to make sure Dust hits its timeline with the console crowd.  Incarna didn't bring in the extra players that CCP hoped and needed, in fact, it seemed to piss people off and likely COST them subscriptions, not get them more.  So, as the NEX was pretty tightly pinned to Incarna, and you can't really show off your fancy new clothes if you can't walk around in stations, and CCP can't afford their current business model with Eve floundering, and WOD being a no-show, and Dust not being ready to come out of the oven yet, well, CCP has problems.  No other options than to try to trim off some money pits, and try to renew the faith of their current source of income, aka Eve players.  So, along come a big chunk of lay-offs, and the CCP people that are left get shuffled around a bit.  Shuffling that is hopefully more cost effective.

     Obviously, with all the announcements, Eve is now getting a fair bit of loving, but it's not like Eve players haven't been complaining about a lot of this stuff for years now.  So, were these fixes and additions already in the works?  Were some of these Eve updates ready and sitting on the shelf pretty much done, as sort of electronic hail-Mary passes just in case they were needed while CCP tried to pour everything into Dust, WOD and walking in stations?  Not knowing how much work it would actually take to code and implement some of these fixes from scratch, it's just speculation on my part.  How many people have been moved around in CCP from one project to another?  What is the personnel and work force percentage counts before the downsizing, and what are those numbers now?  I don't know, but I think it would be interesting to see the Eve (flying), NEX/Incarna (walking in stations), Dust and WOD numbers.

     Interesting and confusing too, are the terms that people use about this whole thing.  "FIS" seems mostly to refer to "flying in space", aka actual game updates to Eve itself with regards to the game play and mechanics and spaceships and other such pew pew things.  I've also heard it refer to an update that would allow actual "flying in space" where you are controlling the ships with a joystick like Wing Commander and the awesome X-Wing vs Tie Fighter series, that my sons and I spent untold hours on in the 90s.  That would be pretty cool to pvp with a joystick instead of mouse clicks.  "WIS" has been tied to both "walking in space" and "walking in stations".  Obviously, you can't walk in "space" but I think it's not much of a stretch for anyone older than about 5 years old to understand that it refers to stations.  The whole WIS thing is tied to the captain's quarters and also to all the eye candy (and raw CCP income) that the NEX store would provide, as well as supposedly making all the capsuleers the unwilling alpha testers of the WOD character engine.  I've also heard where the walking in station is also referred to as "establishments".  The whole thing is interesting on a corporate level, but can be confusing on a player level.  The bottom line is, is there going to be more shit to blow up and fly, or not?  Apparently, the answer is yes.

     The final thing I wonder about, is what the nature of this increased Eve-love really is.  CCP tried to expand their business model.  Apparently they bit off more than they could chew, and had to downsize and supposedly refocus their efforts and money.  They're still no doubt working hard on Dust, probably/hopefully not so hard on WOD, not so hard on NEX, not so hard on WIS, and probalby/hopefully harder on Eve, which is actually making a profit for them, or at least used to.  Is this spike in Eve effort just that, a spike, which CCP hopes will distract the player base for long enough to make another hard charge at WIS/WOD/Dust after the winter update, or will a higher level of focus on Eve be maintained after the update to re-win the trust of the current Eve players and hopefully bring old players back along with some new subscriptions?

     WIS will bring in new Eve players because people like to see their avatars walking around, and people like my dear wifey LOVE to see different outfits and LOVE to be able to change their clothes.  She enjoys grinding, mercilessly, in LOTRO as she collects every kind and version of outfits, and ensembles, and then goes and gets all the horses to match on top of that.  And she's not the only one.  World of Darkness will bring in a whole new crowd of players just because of the werewolves.  How many people start playing a game because they can be a werewolf, and how many older players are re-interested (at least for a while) because they can make a new dog toon?  Then there's the console kiddies and all the people CCP could open up with Dust.  I fear any one of these income streams is going to be more lucrative than just maintaining focus on improving Eve.  Can't be easy working up near the top in CCP, especially after Incarna.

     I just hope Eve stays around long enough for me to train up a carrier so I can go use it to mine in nullsec :D

The Point?  In this day of insta-credit, "I win" buttons and immediate demand for gratification, being tied to the fickle gaming industry can easily leave oneself on the shore of the Island of Unemployment.  Coconuts, anyone?

PS - Let me change the graphics on my ships with my own maps, and I'd be happy with that.  ;)

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Plan: It's all good, yo

     So, I had a slight speed wobble with too many choices, and not enough adults around to help me with said decisions, anon.  Not to fear though, 3 more wobbly pops and I was pretty much back on the straight and narrow.

     As skills have been slowly chugging along, I was running 3 of the toons through Amarr missions to not only help get the Amarr rep up to the recommended level 4, but also, simultaneously, and at the same time even, get the Carthum corp rep up as high as possible to crack open the highest level research agents I could.  That way, I can be slowly squeezing out research points to buy the data core chumblies that I need later for invention or manufacturing, or I can just sell the data cores for beer and chicks.  In Utopian terms, that would be a whole lot of DCs with three toons, for 6 accounts, with max number of research agents going.  over 100 level 4 research agents?  Oh baby!  Mind you, opinion waxes and wanes as to the profitability of data core farming vs the time it takes to do it.  It's all time wasted anyway (it's a game, derp) and one way or t'other, the cores will get bought and used.  It's still free cash.

     So, the main toon is finishing up the last bit of level 3 for the research skills needed for the local agent, and he'll continue doing missions until they are done (in about 2 days or so) and then maybe I'll be able to talk to a level 4 research agent, which would mean more training time, but I'll start him with a level 3 anyway.  The other two toons have done engineering 5 and are a couple days out from science 5, then they can train up the relevant research skills too and start their agents.  The other three toons have engineering 5 done, but are going after maxxing their hulk (exhumer 5) and orca skills (director, industrial and warfare link 5s) before training for science 5 and the tertiary skills.  While they are doing that, they can still mine, which even in high sec still garners about 100 to 150 million a day, and that keeps the PLEXors flowing :)  I'll send the main on his first COSMOS missions with a little salvage support from one of the other research toons, and when I have a handle on the first of the COSMOS lines, the three research toons should be close to level 4 mission agents.  I'll group them up with the miners while the miners crush rock and train their science/research skills, and the researchers can level all 6 Amarr and Carthum reps at the same time.  Lots of grinding, but I can switch it up between security, mining and fedex missions, and the missioning isn't that tedious to me.  Also, while the three research toons are doing the missioning and COSMOS support "thing", they'll be training to get into hulks which only entails learning astrogeology 5.  Then, for LOLz, I can go out in my own little mining fleets with an orca and 5 hulks.  That should be good for a nice little isk boost.

     Also, on the main, I built up an Incursion boat and got it ready to rock, so there's always those to play around with for variety and isk loveliness.  I'll see if I can get an alt in there too, and/or get a couple corpies and start getting our feet wet in sanctuaries.  All the research skills that I need to do data cores will also help with other manufacturing and invention tasks too, no doubt.  So, SO many things to do in Eve.

The Point?  Plans are a satisfying thing, if you manage to stick with them, and wait it out to see your shiney new skills come out o' the oven, yo. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Spinny ships . . . yawn

     So, yeah, ship spinning was fun, when I didn't know what else there was to do in Eve or was in a war dec and didn't think I could undock, but now?  Meh.  Especially since the wonderful ship spinning patch has also decided to endow me with the bonus ability of being able to instantly, and randomly re-position every window on the right hand side of my GUI, every time I dock or un-dock.  Other people reported the same glitch.  Even pinning the windows accomplishes nothing - it just makes them harder to see when they decide to pop up in another location.

     Pain in the ass?  Yeah.  The upside was, that while three of the toons were out running some Fedex missions, it didn't screw with things much as I just leave the agent screen up and use the links off that.  The mining that the other three toons were doing was also less affected as I used mainly my bookmarks.  I tried uninstalling the "patch" but as there was a smaller patch after the big main patch, only the small patch uninstalled and the random-ass window relocations continued.  I wasn't given the option of uninstalling the primary patch, unless that option is available by rooting around some more in the settings.  Some people seemingly weren't affected by the glitches at all.  I suppose that's karma though, as other patches have really messed with people while I have cruised along relatively unscathed.

     I can hardly wait for patch day to fix what happened on patch day.

The Point?  People are funny animals when a "patch" merely restores some simple game mechanic that has nothing to do with game functionality, and players are all a-buzz over it.  Shaved monkeys, man.

PS - You can spin ships in space, y'know, just maybe don't try it in space unless it's high sec or you're alone/cloaked.  Doing some ship spinning while warping is pretty trippy too.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The HMCS Plan: she's slightly adrift . . .

     The plan was, and still mostly is, coming along quite swimmingly (note the nautical theme . .) but as I sit at about stage 2.8, getting to the starting point of stage 3 is going to take a little longer than planned.  The problem isn't anything major and it's not like I wildly underestimated the amount of time it would take to get everything trained to level 4 (which I did a little anyway . .), the main issue is concurrent activity.  Concurrent activity, as in more passive bidness going on in the background to earn isk, fame and world conquest.

     In checking out some of the COSMOS basics, starting with Amarr, it's recommended that I be at least at a rep of 4 with them to start.  Not a problem.  I was 2.97, and now I'm up to about 3.5 with level 4 in Social and Connections (plus I went to 4 in negotiation to boost my ph4t l00tz too).  Progress is coming along nicely as I run mining and fedex missions with three of the toons and mine with the other three.  It's steady, reliable income with a rep boost to boot.  Not the fastest progress, but it keeps the training que full.  So, the "problem", or more of an "issue", is that I would like to be grinding out a little data core love while all this stuff is going on, just prior to, and during, the COSMOS stage.  I only need about 2 billion more isk for a Michi's implant and a Gallente freighter, and then it's all gravy.

     I picked the Carthum Corp to get the rep up with because they were close enough to my AO that I didn't need to move tons of ships, via slowboating and shuttles, halfway across the universe or farther.  I can access some level 1 and 2 R&D agents with them right now, and I all I need is some cursory training in the science skills to pique the interest of said agents.  Most of the toons are level 5 in engineering already, and 4 in science.  4 days and they can all be up to Science 5, and then I can start getting the individual research skills and quickly get them up to level 1 or 2, 3 at the most.  I only have to worry about 2 to 3 skills each, as well.  The main 4 toons are all done everything else, and now are up in the drone skills and finishing them off.  Then I was planning to go after maxxing the orca and indy skills for a freighter, as well as the exhumer 5 skills for mining.  The problem is, the R&D skills aren't cheap, and I'd like to get the freighter and the Michi's and be done with that part of the plan.  I also want to get the other 3 toons done with their astrogeology and get them into hulks as well.  The question is, which to do first.

     I think the smart thing to do is to go for Science 5 first, buy and train the R&D skills, and then start getting some data cores, even at a low rate.  In the mean time I can get to some hard mining (which is the easiest and fastest way for me to make isk, ATM) and then once the three toons go back into astrogeology to get the hulks, I can be slowly churning out "stupendous" amounts of data core goodness.  I can always run some more missions later to boost the rep so I can eventually access level 4 R&D agents, but I imagine that is going to require some fairly major time investment in skill training too.  The upside is, I already have three extra hulks that are sitting in a low sec area that was supposed to be an area for some mining ops, but life and timings never really allowed for that to happen any more than once or twice.  I can pull all those boats out before the area fills up with too many pilots and then I'd have to pop their rigs and take them out with a blockade runner.  Then I can switch off between running missions for Amarr and Carthum rep, and mining for iskies.  It'll maybe be closer to the end of Oct before I start the COSMOS runs.  In the meantime maybe I'll throw a few skill points at the other toons to get them well up into the gunnery skills and make sure their cruiser skills and med weapons are at a decent level to help oout with some of the tougher missions.

The Point?  Having a plan is great, but it's a smidge of a bummer when you find out you could have had something planned for, and running concurrently, had you known about it.  It's sort of hard to plan for something that you weren't aware of.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Captain Broomstick, the reprise: Mining Hi-jinks

     So, way, way back, like . .  20 minutes ago, I posted about the initial "serious" run-in with Herr Broomstick.  He injected a "gf" in local, and I think he and Nancy had a little private conversation for a while and, no real surprise, Cpt Boomstick isn't the root of all eeeeeevil, like his victims would claim.  He's just a dude out there in space, putting his "thang" down.  OR, so we thought . . .

     Fast forward a week or so, (not NOW, but back THEN) and I log my toon on to see that I have an eve mail waiting for me.  I just LOVE Eve mail.  It allows me to experiment and see how many unread emails I can collect before I have some kind of memory-sucking buffer over-run that crashes the Eve client.  This being a rare day-of-days, however, I actually checked, and lo and behold, Concord has sent me a message.  Apparently, we have been war dec'd, and I'll be jiggered if it ain't Cpt Broomstick and his merry 3 man band that'r doin' it!  Well, boy howdy, if that don't beat all!  I guess, despite what happened in the nether regions of a mission room, he figured the corp was a bunch of spongy carebears, or, possibly, he was lookin' for revenge.  Either way, it was ON!

     Lots of corpies were hanging around Shuria, or within a jump or two, so there were usually always guys missioning, ratting or mining.  Even during the war dec, safety in numbers, people doing their thang.  So, the scene opens with a bunch of blue in system.  A bestower, a crucifier flying CAP, and one of the care-beariest of our carebears in a retriever, stapled to an asteroid doing a little herpa-derping, busting some rocks, in a war dec, and NO, it wasn't a trap, and NO the barge wasn't a sacrificial goat (doesn't remind me of Jurassic Park . . . much). Nudge nudge, wink wink ;).

     Cpt Broomstick shows up in local.  No doubt sees all our blue in system, but is likely well aware that this is where the corp hangs out anyways.  He's nobody's fool though.  He locates the "miners", and while there is indeed some mining afoot, he is also aware of the size of local.  He warps in at long range in his taranis, does a big, wide orbit.  Looking . . . looking . . . warps out.  Cue the crickets.  It's all good, no one runs, still mining.  Broomstick comes back, a little closer, flys a couple circuits.  Looking . . . looking . . . no one jumps, no one moves, he warps out.  Cue the crickets again.  Broomstick comes back this time, and lands right on top of the sheep.  He's got his teeth bared and no doubt intends to do his best at ripping up some dopey carebears quick-fast before any reinforcement arrives.  He rolls in on the retriever and pops it in short order.  Meanwhile the bestower and crucifier point and web him.  Not too far away from the action, a corpy's rapier uncloaks out of the black, and starts to lock up the interceptor.  Broomstick turns his attention to the crucifier in an attempt to remove his web and one of his points, turns the frigate into so much shiny space debris, and then he starts hammering the bestower, who is now in the process of try to get the hell out of Dodge while Nancy makes this high, shrieking wail.  Precisely the same high, shrieking wail he made when I showed him the picture of a stealth bomber with a Hello Kitty paint job.  In the mean time, the rapier is unloading on the taranis with his 425s, and the fate of the inty is decided in short order, and a good fate it was not!  Chaos of celebration ensues in Vent and the bestower heads back to repair while Broomsticks pod heads for less violent regions of space.

     Out comes the bestower again, to scoop up some of the loot and salvage.  Corpies are still in system.  The bestower pilot, Nancy, is starting to gather up the spoils.  But wait!  The still local Cpt Broomstick shows up, back at the belt, in a loki to sort some stuff out, right and proper!  Unfortunately, the 5 other corpies that were still in system, were sitting at the belt, cloaked, the whole time, through the entire initial engagement, and NOW, the REAL trap was sprung.

     A geddon, domi, rapier, falcon and zealot all decide to uncloak and contribute to the festivities.  While the bestower pilot once again decides to get the hell out of Dodge, the loki is immediately locked down, webbed, scrammed, neuted, jammed, buffed, polished and anything else the boats could do to it that was not violating any pornographic or federal regulations.  With Broomstick being a 3 man corp, our corp had a pretty good idea that there would be little or no help coming for Mr Broomstick and his loki.  The ships pounded away on the loki, and pounded, and pounded, but it was a tough nut to crack and was taking a while.  The bestower pilot headed back to station to reship, get new underwear and then come back to help with the dps.  By the time he got back to the fight, the loki had finally expired with no corp losses.

     A clever trap was set, and with great patience and grinding and gnashing of teeth, the stalwart corpies waited with baited breath for the appointed time, and with great luck, the big fish was baited twice, and caught twice.  Cpt Boomstick was a great adversary, but after the loss of a T1, T2 and a 1 billion+ T3 ship, the wind was pretty much taken out of the sails of his war dec.  He was seen logging on with his toons, but he wasn't out and about much.  No mood for hi-jinks or skylarkery, says he.  It was a great win for a mostly indy corp that was slowly starting to find its teeth. . . . aaaaand, I missed it :(

The Point?  Even a seasoned kriminale can have his wings clipped by a decently planned and executed trap.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Closer to the heart, a letter from home . .

     Sooo, interesting post from Herr Hilmar.  Not being as long in the tooth in Eve, as some many other players, I am not as plugged in to all the intricacies of the politics and the meta end of things.  For that kind of thing, I like to read Jester's Trek blog.  As a vet, and a fairly intuitive and intelligent person, I enjoy reading his insights into the Eve universe.  Many of his comments tend to be fairly prophetic so when he laid into his theoretical winter update, I took notice.

     I am interested to read what he thinks of Hilmar's post from today sometime.  Either it is an honest, heart felt message that admits he made some errors and is looking to rectify that by working on certain game aspects that are broken, and have been broken for a while, OR it's a smoke screen to try to soften the player let down when the winter update comes and nothing much of any use to FIS is being added.  He points out a number of issues that players have been clamouring for (I'm looking for the ability to repaint my ships :D) and hopefully he gets some of them done in the next couple of months.  Here's hoping I have a chance to burn in my new RAM using new game features in a couple months.

The Point?  Apparently, no one is above being human.  Everyone makes mistakes, including corporate CEOs.  The point is whether they/I/we/you admit you made a mistake and try to fix it.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Plan, she's a'rollin' nicely

     As time passes and all the enjoyment of skill training completion messages passes from minutes, to hours, to interminable days and weeks, as a rather ADHD type of guy, it's nice to slowly see level 4s piling up in all the focused skill areas.  I'm surprised that I've stuck to my plan as well as I have.  Way to be an adult, yo!  I have fairly well resisted the massive urges to turn all those nice little green check marks into long empty rectangles.  In resisting those urges, therein lies progress.

     All the toons are close to nearing the end of phase 2 of universal domination (at a snail's pace), and they are finishing up the last of the electronics skills, if not already moving on to drones.  Drones are a bit of a buzz kill because a lot of the skills are multi-day even to just get to level 4s.  I'm not going to level 5s in anything yet, unless it was a prerequisite for something of greater glory.  Whilst mopping up errant skills, and making nicely stacked rows of skills, 4 blocks to each, I started looking a little further down the road towards the minimums required to talk to the COSMOS mission agents.

     Lots of good advice out on the intarnetz, lots of good walk-throughs (I'm not much of a story-line reader . . ) and most seemed to recommend that if you're starting with Amarrrr, which I arrrr, I should head into the COSMOS missions with a rep of 4 so as to not have to stop and grind rep once I've started the missions.  No problem, I'm almost at 3 and I'll make sure Connections and Social are at 4 too.  4s are sort of my "thing" right now anyway :)  Chicks dig 'em.  So, I'll throw three toons at some ice mining whilst I track down some Amarr agents, close by, to start grinding some rep with the other toons that can't use mackinaws yet.  I'm keeping them all fleeted up and while the rep grindage will be lessened, they all get a boost, and I'm ok with the pace/timeline, even though I'm at the end of Sept already.

     Now, frequently usually at least once per orbit of the galactic centre, I like to think I'm not too bad at lateral thinking.  While looking for suitable agents though, both past and now, I assumed that Agent Finder was the name of the window that the agents could be found in.  Right?  Makes sense.  Am I right?  Never actually ran a mouse up to the TOP of that little panel.  Never had any idea that it was actually a BUTTON.  Man . . .  But hey howdy hey, how about that agent finder!  Is that some awesome shit or what??  Man, that thing . . . rocks.  Period!  Like I give a shit that a titan's doomsday weapon can turn entire fleets into sparkling salvage goodness with a single AOE firecracker, but how about that agent finder!!  That does such an amazing job at finding an agent compared to drilling through agents, and their corps, and then the types, and whether they think you're cool enough to talk to them or not.  At any rate, I located some mining and distribution agents and I'm seeing a gain in standing in all the toons.  It was also good practise at loading up my little gypsy caravan (as much as I can at this point with an orca and some transports) and moving them to my new area of operations.  I'm not concerned that it might take a little longer to get to a standing of 4 because I want to stockpile a little cash for some PLEX to have on hand and some shinies I still need/want to buy.  Mainly just a freighter.

     It's nice running some missions again vs mainly mining and some scanning.  Some of the distribution missions also require some simple manufacturing, so that has really started to demistify the whole production aspect of the game as well.  Time to think about some indy skills and some BPs too, but that's more time and iskies.  I'll focus on getting the other 3 toons into hulks first for some hard core mining fleet goodness, while getting the freighter/blockade toon finished up and start the last toon on exhumer 5.  I need to be mindful to keep some extra cash on hand during missioning as the missions aren't exactly bringing in truck loads of cash at level 2 and 3.  There's always the research agents for rep too.   Mmmmm . . . datacores . . .  Soooo many things to do :)

The Point?  Nice, steady gains can be realized by sticking to "the plan".  Can be boring at times, and stressful, especially when tempted by new siren-song skills that open up, but focus, STAY focused.