Wednesday, 22 December 2010

The 23rd EVE Blog Banter (December 2010 Edition) - Topic: Incarna

Welcome to the twenty-third installment of the EVE Blog Banter, the monthly EVE Online blogging extravaganza created by CrazyKinux. The EVE Blog Banter involves an enthusiastic group of gaming bloggers, a common topic within the realm of EVE Online, and a week or so to post articles pertaining to the said topic. The resulting articles can either be short or quite extensive, either funny or dead serious, but are always a great fun to read! Any questions about the EVE Blog Banter should be directed to Check for other EVE Blog Banter articles at the bottom of this post!

With Incursion giving us glimpses of what Incarna will have to offer (the the Character Creator), this month's topic, by @Minerpewpew, comes just at the right time. He asks "What are your thoughts on how Incarna will effect the current EVE Online social dynamic?" I'd like to see this questioning go a bit further. How will this affect EVE's player base? Who will Incarna attract? New players to the genre? Seduce old players back into the game? Will we see new players come in that will never leave their station? Please explore to the best of your abilities!
There is always talk of Incarna in the Forums, which are littered with the bleats of 'CCP will ruin internet spaceships if they implement this!'. People will always battle change as it comes there way. And once it is here, they will continue to complain until the next change looms over them and only then will their focus shift. CCP, however, need to move forward. They're long-term goal is to amalgamate DUST 514 and New Eden, and (character-wise) Incarna will allow us to better connect with our toons in the game by bringing them to life. I applaud this notion - DUST or no DUST.

However, I recognise that this change is genuinely not important to everyone. For some people, flying space-ships is what makes them kick off their pants. So, from certain stand-points, the expansion is pointless even if they do play in-character. Others that have several accounts might be distanced from the idea of navigating several toons around a station, which could be a pain. Players (like myself) who do have a focused toon are offered a better connection with our space-fairing alter-ego. Being able to have a much more 'alive' character who can wander stations and interact with other pilots physically (as far as sprites go) will improve the experience a great deal more. So this is one of the best steps CCP can take for role-players.

As long as pilots can still function as if the expansion wasn't there, I can't see it being a problem in any respect. And by that I mean trading, selecting missions, creating contracts, etc. If pilots had to 'physically' leave their pod, wander off into the station and track down a seedy figure in a bar to acquire 'Damsel in Distress' everytime, then I can see a lot of subscriptions getting cancelled. However, I am confident in saying that CCP will not do this. Although, it would be nice to have the option to. It would also be nice if agents, etc, would actually talk. I'm sure this would be a short-lived novelty as people would get sick of hearing the same voices say the same things over and over again but, as before, it would be nice to have the option.

So what else would I like to see? How about in-station first-person missions? Why not have the option to 'Stop the Thief' before he even gets away with those stolen reports? And if you don't manage to chase him down through the crowds of fellow pilots before he gets to his ship, then you just have to hop into your Battlecruiser and take him out the old-fashioned way. If the in-station missions were broad enough, then that alone could attract a whole new world of subscribers. Sure, it may drag some pilots out of their ships and reduce the number of folks in space for a while, but that would undoubtedly be off-set by the new first-person subscribers giving 'life in a space-ship' a whirl. The levels of 1-5 will still remain, security status will continue to rise or fall as in 'normal' missions and skills would still be trained (Hand-to-Hand Combat Level-5, anyone?).

So, I guess I'm saying that the mission mechanics in a station would be the same as in space (even 'fleeting up' with other players), but it would be so visually different that it could work. And don't forget with first-person missions - it wouldn't be a case of standing in the middle of the room and tanking the weapon fire, tactics and cover would need to be used here.

In-station missions could also lead into the manufacturing and inter-system trade of skills, medical supplies, drugs, fire-arms and ammunitions being sold in player-owned 'shops'. Yet another commodity to introduce which will please traders, manufacturers, researchers and pew-pewers all in one hit. And while you're waiting for your flame-thrower and it's ammo to be delivered why not stand at a real-time view port overlooking the docking-tunnel of Jita. We could witness the constant flow of ships along with the flashes of turret fire as pirates bring down juicy freighters. All this would surely make activity in station rich and interesting.

Bounty hunters can still attempt to gun down those wanted pirates on foot. It wouldn't be EvE if pilots couldn't shoot or brawl or 'stealth-attack' other pilots - in or out of ships. How about thieves stealing that prized laser-pistol from your very own utility belt? How about 'awareness' skills to reduce the risk of someone successfully depriving you of your treasures? A personal drone hovering over you emitting a protective shield? And, or course, CONCORD would still be present as security guards. NPC characters could offer a lot, too - whether just as background to 'fill' the stations or talking to them to find bonus missions, story-lines, secret locations, black-market sellers, bonus items/ships or even just juicy targets to thieve or gun-down and loot before CONCORD realise what you've done. As always, putting richer rewards in (or rewards that are only exclusive to) Low-Sec might draw more people out there.

But regardless of what it will offer, Incarna won't please everyone. What expansion does? In fact, forget the game for a minute and lets look at real life. What single decision pleases everyone when it is addressed to a large group of people? I'm talking about realistic decisions here. But thinking about it I'm sure even Empire gankers will have a great time popping macro-runners while the 'active' player-base swarms to stations to try out all the shiny new things on the release. So the players that are worried about people dwelling or hiding in stations, don' be just yet - give it a chance. And even if players do take to 'hiding in stations' then so what? After all, this game is for EVERYONE and if there are players who like to immerse themselves into a station-dwelling story rather than being potential pew-pew fodder then let them. However, I trust that griefers will always find a way to break through if such barriers were put up. After all, no-one is safe in EvE, right?

In one of the previous blog-banters CK put forward the question asking why there is a lack of female players in EvE, and (from what I read) it was largely down to the inability to customise ones appearance. MOST women like to decorate their appearance (well, that's no secret) and EvE's lack of this function deterred them from signing up. It will be a good test to see if Incarna does increase the female player-base. And for people who perhaps left EvE due to the void created by the lack of a 'physical character' and story-line to role-play with might now return.

And with regards to it's release, yes CCP probably announced the expansion far too early as we've been waiting a long time for it, but if they get it right and release it bug free then I'm happy to wait for a long time yet. I can enjoy the game as it currently is, and any expansion is nothing more than a bonus.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Wormhole Work-Up No.3

This will be the final post about my move into Wormhole Space.

I'm not sure what it is, but I seem to be playing EvE a lot less than when I was living out of the Wormhole. I think this is a combination of things. Firstly, work and life seems to have stepped up a gear with the build-up for Christmas. The other reason is 'things to do' in the Wormhole. Or lack of, as it were. I knew before I started that there would be periods where our 'Hole or the adjacent C2 would not offer us any sites (whether through no spawns or an uncomfortably active neighbouring C2). And when an uninhabited C2 rich in sleepers sites does spawn, sods-law always steps in and finds a reason for me not to be able get on-line.

I often find myself trying to collapse C2's with my Orca in the hope to find a better system. But more than often the 'Hole's mass allowance is over-the-odds and remains active in a critical condition. No way am I taking any ship through for another jump. My Corp mates are 5-7hrs behind me and with no other players about times can get pretty lonely. In times like these there's nothing else to do but solo mine. Which sucks (not as much as High-Sec mining though, as nearly all types of Ore dwell out here!).

So I have two options; move out of the Wormhole and back into Empire space (I can't wait to get back into my SNI!). Or leave my Corp and join/form a time-zone friendly one in another 'Hole.

Well, I'm not going to do either of these. I like my Corp, as I often mention. Clearing five Sleeper-sites brought me 110mil and my CEO managed to cash in over 600mil just in three days of solo-running the 'Hole. Plus my CEO has started making reactions from the abundance of gas and ore that thrive in these systems. So the rewards (when they happen) make it addictive. But even the most basic Sleeper-sites bring in the big ISK - especially the Battleship salvage:

Living in a POS is also a little more of a pain than an NPC station. Things can't be repackaged and you don't really have your 'own space' like normal stations offer. When ships are launched their shields and caps take a hit, so there's a delay in warping off (depending what it is you're doing!) while you wait for everything to recharge.

But my closing topic for this wishy-washy trio of Wormhole posts will be the ships. I now have a nice collection:

PvE Sites: Drake, Noctis, Covetor, Caracal (Gas-Harvester)
Defence: Drake (PvP), Drake (Cap-Drainer), Crow, Merlin (Back-up Tackler), Manticore and Flycatcher
Logistics: Buzzard, Heron x2 (Back-ups), Orca, Crane (Covert-Ops), Badger II (Rigged), Badger II (spares), Osprey x2 (Shield Reppers) and Shuttles

I can never have every situation covered, but I think I have managed to put together a collection that can deal with a broad spectrum of modest situations in a C2. I'm thinking of bringing in a Heavy Interdictor and a Command ship, too. But on the PvP front I haven't come across a threat (so far!) that warrants such ships. Our Wormhole has two statics; the C2 which I mentioned as well as a Low-Sec. So traffic really is minimal. In fact, to date, we have only been bothered by the C2 - the Low-Sec gives us almost no traffic.

In my first post I commented about using a Spider-Tank set-up for Drakes. This really is not necessary in a C2. I also mentioned about using a Drake for shield repping. I quickly learned this was also pointless, as my shields have never dropped below 50% on solo runs. My main reason for having Logistical ships was to boost the Tower's shields during set-up and if it ever came under attack. To rep a tower, you need to be outside of the Force-Field (about 18km). Fitted to a Drake, the repping range is about 8km, which is no good. The range-bonuses of the logistical ships (Osprey, in my case) are needed to rep a POS.

Bringing in a Noctis was interesting to say the last, considering our Empire static is Low-Sec. I was determined to have one, so I scanned down our Low-Sec exit and got to work. I scouted the 4 jumps from the Low-Sec exit to Hi-Sec a fair few times to monitor activity. The quietest system was the one with our Wormhole exit, the other two held very light traffic while the final was quite heavy but everyone seemed to be dwelling in stations. So I kitted out the Noctis with fast-align rigs and Inert-Stabs and made a run for it. It was smooth up until I made the jump into the system harbouring my Wormhole entrance. A couple of pilots had decided to camp with two Battlecruisers.

Now, during my moving into the Wormhole, I managed to lose two rigged Drakes to a (very impressive!) gate camp. Even though my ships were fitted with cloaks, they were still able to locate my position, de-cloak and pop me. With this in mind I was apprehensive to move the Noctis off the gate and activate cloak. Inevitably, I had no choice but to do this anyway. I doubt I would have managed to warp away before a lock. I checked the info of both pilots and they were only months old. So I hoped for the best when I moved off and cloaked. Well, they didn't budge. Either they didn't see me or were after a juicier target. To be honest, I expected them to run down a Noctis because it probably would have been one of the first ever 'Garbage-Truck' kills. But I made it to the Wormhole safe, and the Noctis almost makes salvaging a pleasure!

Although it has been hard work and costly, the move has been (for my Corp mates, anyway) very profitable already. I shall start to knuckle down and really kick the ISK out of the 'Hole over the coming weeks.

But, if there is one piece of advice I can give about living in Wormholes, it's this - a Buzzard with Sisters Probes and Launcher coupled with good scanning skills is priceless.

I will continue to post as normal from now.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Wormhole Work-Up No.2

Wow - that was hard work. And it's still on-going. Even now I'm not fully settled.

Perhaps I put in a lot more effort than was really needed. I do have a lot of ships and equipment stashed in the POS, and my total investment to date has been the best part of 500mil. In fact, between four of us we have nearly filled both the Corp and Ship Hangars. I'm hoping the line from Edna in the Incredibles 'Luck favours the prepared, darling'  will ring true.

Initially, the move into the Wormhole was slow going. We are residing in a C2, which has a Low-Sec and C2 static. The Low-Sec entrance on that day was 2 jumps from High-Sec, and we managed to get the Tower along with other structures and some fuel into the 'Hole using my Orca. I hate taking my Orca through Low-Sec, but it survived on this occasion. So, we began setting up with the basics. I left the 'Hole that night, while my CEO stayed to babysit the tower.

A couple of days later another exit appeared 6 jumps out of Jita in a Low-Sec system adjacent to a High-Sec. This was good news, and we managed to get four Orca-loads of fuel, some ships and most of our equipment through successfully. A couple of days after that the seemingly impossible happened - our adjacent C2 had a High-Sec exit to our home system! Much cheering followed.

I was still in the middle of acquiring and building equipment, but I wasn't going to let the opportunity pass. None of us did. We got a second Orca involved from an allied Corp and dragged in everything we could. A forth Corp member also jumped in and made the move. He brought a Charon full of more fuels and equipment which we then shipped through the whole with two Orca's (the Charon's mass was too big for the 'Hole). The Tower was also upgraded from a Medium to a Large, which was a big bonus.

We had a close call at one point. The second Orca, which was being piloted by an allied Corp member, nearly lost the ship to our own Tower. On his first arrival at the POS he was halted at the Force-Field to find that the Tower saw him as hostile. The POS then proceeded to target, scram, web and fire upon the Orca. Oops! I was frantically off-lining the gun batteries as the ship's armour was being stripped from it's hull. Luckily, there were only three batteries active, and the cycle-time is quick, so the Orca lived to see another day. I'll never forget to adjust the Tower defence settings again.

By the time the 'Hole lost stability it was 2am for me, and the alarm clock was due to go off in four hours for work. There was still some fuel to bring through, which would take a well-rigged Badger II four or five trips. We made a start but the 'Hole collapsed as the pilot before me made the jump, leaving me stranded in High-Sec. I couldn't be annoyed - we had achieved a great deal. A few days later one opened up 17 jumps away, so I took a shuttle and headed over.

I'm now living in the 'Hole full time. But this week I have still been hauling in the remainder of the fuel. Why does Strontium have to take up so much cargo space? Bringing Planetary Structures also got thown amongst the Crane trips at the start of this week. Yesterday I began setting up my PI, which I still have not finished. I'm being a bit more precise in the set-up this time around as Large Towers are hungry for parts. Once that's done (tonight) I should be able to finally start enjoying the riches that Wormholes have to offer.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Wormhole Work-Up No.1

Well, the work-up has very much been under way. I've even gone back to mining!

I've been continuing my research into Wormholes. I already follow a few Blogs, but I've pulled off some pretty neat tips from the internet, too.

I've decided that Drakes will be my main ship-type. Mainly because a battlecruiser is the largest ship that can squeeze into most C1-C3 'Holes. But they are also relatively cheap and, therefore, expendable. I already own two; one is PvE (High-Sec missions and Wormhole Ops) while the other is PvP (residing at my Low-Sec POS). I have built another five so far, and I plan to construct a few more.

One Drake I had to surrender to my better-half (she can't afford to buy one yet -or so she tells me). Apart from our High-Sec exit collapsing behind us, we raked in some nice ISK on our Wormhole Op last week. But the Caracal fit I constructed for her to use on the Op (which could perma-run a Medium Shield Booster and had good resists) did not last more than thirty seconds against Sleepers. She escaped with only a small amount of her hull intact. So, when we returned to High-Sec she trained for a Drake. That's completed, and even though it's a T1 fit the ship still managed to tank one of my L4 missions very well. I really have to tip my hat to the Drakes.

I will carry some spare Drakes as well as other ships, but the roles I have planned for the battlercruiser's are: a solo Sleeper-site runner, PvP defence, a salvage boat and a Spider-Tank for Corp Sleeper-Ops.

I really like the idea of having a group of Spider-Tanked Drakes. But it's damn hard to fit one up that can perma-run a Medium Shield Transfer while retaining an effective DPS and some defences. So we'll see on that.

I haven't ever built a logistical ship before, but I've read they are key in building up and retaining POS shields. So, I kitted out two Ospreys - one that can perma-run 3x Medium Shield Transfers (reasonably cheap), but the other I went to town on and plumbed in 2x Large ST's that can also perma-run. The latter I had to fit some faction componants to get it cap stable, but it's quite impressive. What I will invesitgate next is whether a logistic-fit Drake would be more effective. Straight away, it doesn't have the range-bonuses of the Osprey (which repairs from a little over 50km), but I don't know how vital that might be in a Wormhole.

Other ships I plan to take through are a Buzzard and two back-up Herons, as many Badger II's as I can make in the time, my Crane, a few tackle-Frigates and maybe my Manticore, and either my Hulk or a Covetor. Ideally, I'd like to buy a FlyCatcher, but there just isn't enough time to train for one with all the other skills I'd like to progress.

In summarry, here is my ship-plan:

PvE: Solo Drake / Spider-Tank Drake
PvP: Drake / Tackle-Merlin / Manticore
Covert-Ops: Manticore / Buzzard
Scanning: Buzzard / Heron
Mining: Covetor or Hulk
Salvage: Drake
Logistical: Osprey or Drake
Hauling: Badger II / Crane

I'd love to take my Orca, but I don't know if there are any C1-C3 'Holes that allow such a ship? Otherwise, are their any current Wormhole-dwellers who care to share advice on ships? Have I got it covered?

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Expanding our Horizons Further

This post almost heeds as a warning that I may be a bit quiet on the posting front for the next two or three weeks.

Although we now have a POS in Low-Sec I still spend a lot of time in High-Sec. It's easier to make ISK there. However, I do pop in to the POS almost every day. I have PI out there and I also like to run scan sites. But the system we picked to harbour our POS is in the middle of a Militia war-zone. The advantage is that traffic is particularly quiet, but it is apparent that CCP has not seen it viable to implement decent rats or scan-sites. So there is not a great deal to do other than PvP, and anyone who follow's this Blog know's how much I suck at PvP. Although the moon-mining makes the Low-Sec POS worth it, flying out there doesn't seem to hold any major rewards for anyone not in a Militia. I still intend to learn PvP out there, but something else now has my attention.

I mentioned in my previous post that I was keen to run Wormhole Sleeper-sites again. At the end of last week I sent out a post to the Corp stating that I would be making it a reality from this week. This ended up sparking another twist in our Corporations' direction. After talking to the CEO about WH Space, the simple Ops I wanted to run progressed towards setting up a small POS camp. This way we could stay in a 'Hole for a few days. Then, some old Corp and Alliance friends got involved and we have banded together. Now it looks like we're actually moving into a Wormhole. It won't be permanent (they apparently weren't intended for an indefinite base anyway), but we are likely to be away for a couple of months. My CEO has expressed an interest in T3 building, so who knows - it could be even longer.

The work-up is very time consuming. Wormholes demand special attention to a few skills, like scanning. It can't be said enough - good scanning skills are vital in Wormhole Space. So I have stepped my scanning-skills up a gear. I have just trained, bought and kitted out a Buzzard with Cov-Ops and Sisters Expanded Probe Launcher with matching Sisters Probes - that was one way to spend 100mil. Luckily, I already have Transport ships trained and my Crane is already on stand-by. But it will soon be joined by it's bigger brother again, the Bustard. Then there are the other ships, both Sleeper-running and PvP for defence. I intend to mostly use Drake's and Rokh's (WH Class permitting). I am undecided at the moment whether to use a Hulk/Covetor or a Rokh for mining.

We intend to start in a C2, just to test the water. If it is C2 then there is talk of us bringing in Ship Assembly Array's so we can build our Battleships and maybe even an Orca. We want to start in a lower-class because we might not like living in Wormhole Space. A lower-class 'Hole needs (to a certain extent) less setting up, which means less taking down. We're aware that they can give you almost no scan-sites for days. Plus, we are ultimately in it for the ISK and if we keep getting jumped by POS-killers then there is no point in us being there. But the ISK-Loss ratio looks favourable.

There are actually very few of us embarking on this new adventure as we leave the majority of the Corp behind. In fact, the few former-Corp members and old Alliance members who are joining us out-number the folks coming from our Corp. Tonight I am running Wormhole Sleeper-sites to take a few of the newer (and some seasoned) players through to see if they like it. Hopefully they will, and therefore will join us. The more the merrier, right?

Anyway, I will post our progress into Wormhole Space, but the next couple of weeks will just be preparation work.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Function Vs Aesthetics

I have a thing for symmetry and neatness. I always have, I always will. When I built Lego as a kid anything I constructed not only had to be perfectly regular, but also well defined. If it didn't look right, I broke it apart and started again. The same goes for anything I design today, with everything being well-proportioned and refined with the 'less is more' motif attached. By profession I'm an engineer, and a lot of engineers will know that more than often things just can't be completely symmetrical. So I have managed to (mostly) accept that as long as things are at least 'neat and tidy' then I will pass them. But I think the quality of my work swings more towards a level of 'OCD' than 'pride'.

My girlfriend might be thinking at this point why do I not adopt this attitude with house cleaning? I just don't. My house seems to emanate a symmetry-and-tidiness dampening field that affects only me. I can't explain it, so don't make me try.

When it comes to flying ships in EvE, it goes without saying that I will always opt for symmetrical designs. I almost have to. If I ever turned up to a mission-blitz with my Corp in a Moa, it would be like arriving at work wearing yesterdays underwear and a very ill-fitting suit. I would feel dirty and ridiculous.

Being an engineer, I have even found myself mulling over some of the irregular ship designs and decided they clash with physics. Many of the vessels should not be able to fly in a straight line, unless they have a component of ridiculous mass hidden in the hull on one side of the vessel. Some of them just seem to have either too many rocket motors or oversized exhaust nozzles bias to one side.

But who cares? It's a game, and what's more it's science-fiction. Anything is possible in science fiction. But everyone has their quirks, right? Some people worry about CCP nerfing ships, I worry about CCP not positioning the engines correctly about the vessel's centre-of-gravity. It takes all sorts. And who am I to question the design teams' work, anyway? I'm not trying to take anything away from the folks over there - it's better than what I could have ever done. And as space-ship designs go, they can be as ogre-looking as the designer likes - no atmosphere, no stream-lining required!

So enough about my peculiar mental characteristics.

Being a CareBear, much of my income has come from running missions. So, in light of everything I have just said, you can probably guess my Caldari ship-choice as I've progress through the levels.

L1 - Merlin
L2 - Caracal/Hawk
L3 - Drake
L4 - Drake/Rokh

For those who know their ships well enough, all of the above are missile-platforms (apart from the Rokh which is a hybrid. Yes, the Merlin is, too, but at that stage of the game it doesn't really count). Apart from the Rokh, I'm sure that most Caldari pilots will have followed a similar pattern up until the Drake. After the Drake, however, many would have jumped into the Raven. Me being me, I opted for a Rokh due to the Raven's very irregular design. But (as just mentioned) the Rokh is a hybrid ship, and nearly all my weapon skills are in missiles. So I had to spend a month or two learning gunnery skills just so I could fly the Rokh effectively. Is that being ridiculous? Probably. But then I will play in a way that makes me happy, as I'm the one paying for my account.

I managed to get the Rokh in a set-up where I could perma-run an X-Large shield-booster and chuck out 515 DPS. I was running all Level-4's no problem, providing a few sensible tactics were employed in some of the more demanding missions. It was working out superbly until I made the fatal error of leaving my drones in aggressive-mode on one particular run. My overview was suddenly filled top to bottom with blinking reds. The Rokh's shields quickly fizzled down and I began to align to warp out. I recovered my drones and casually clicked the 'warp-to' icon.


I started spamming the icon. Still, nothing. Then I realised. I had been warp-scrammed by three or four Frigates.

A lot of swear words exploded out of my mouth. There was no way I could deploy drones and kill the Frigates with the rate my armour was being chewed up. It was a horrible feeling as my Rokh popped. My cockiness and over-confidence had got the better of me. Not only that, but I now carry the shame of losing a Battleship to an NPC mission. D'Oh!

So, back to the Drake. But I didn't mind returning to that ship. Sure, it was taking me far longer to complete missions, but it is such a good ship. I also think its one of the best looking hulls in the game.

While I rebuilt my funds, I started thinking about a new mission-running vessel. I thought long and hard as I compared my missiles skills to gunnery. Missiles were winning by an obscene amount, so it made sense to go back to them. The Raven only has 3 DPS more than the Rokh with my skills, and the shields are 10,000hp inferior. But the Caldari Navy Raven is a different matter. It comes in at 586 DPS with shields 10,000hp superior than the Rokh (it's worth noting here that I always fit out my mission ships to run cap stable, hence the low DPS figures compared to what could actually be squeezed out. And, no, I don't like pulsing the SB!). I took a deep breath and (finally) decided that it was more important to have function over aesthetics.

But then a Corp mate suggested the Rattlesnake. I didn't even know what that was at the time, but now I know it's a variant of the Scorpion. The Scorpion is a ship I had always over-looked, and not just because it was once an irregular design. I knew it was geared for ECM, and I have no place in ECM warfare, so I never considered it for anything. I was almost embarrassed when I suddenly learned only recently that there are a total of four Scorpion hulls.

After some extensive research through forums, I decided on the Scorpion Navy Issue. Although the Rattlesnake seems like the T1-variant Daddy, I do not like the idea of relying on drones for DPS (for those that do not know, the Rattlesnake is a passive-fit drone-ship with an amalgamation of Caldari and Gallante technology). The SNI variant, however, drops it's ECM role to become a missile-platform.

But the biggest bonus for me is the design. I absolutely love the look of the new(ish) Scorpion hull, and anyone else I've spoken to has also given it a big thumbs-up.

At 542 DPS, it's lagging the CNR's 586 (remember I always fit cap-stable for perma-running an XL-SB). But the SNI's shield is 5,000hp superior. To me, that's an offensive-to-defensive trade I can live with. Plus, the SNI come's in at around 400mil ISK, 200mil cheaper than the CNR. I've only ran a few missions so far, and none have really been testing. But in some cases I haven't even needed to turn the shield-booster on, so it looks promising.

And the best part of all this? I have a missile-platform with a symmetrical hull! Well, in truth, the bridge is slightly offset on the Scorpion. And even the Rokh has an additional structure half-way down on it's starboard side. But, really, I'm not that pedantic!

However, sooner or later I'm sure the day will come where I will have to put aside my petty quirk and step into a Golem.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Blog Banter #22: Corporation Loyalty - Brothers and Sisters till the end?

Welcome to the twenty-second installment of the EVE Blog Banter, the monthly EVE Online blogging extravaganza created by CrazyKinux. The EVE Blog Banter involves an enthusiastic group of gaming bloggers, a common topic within the realm of EVE Online, and a week or so to post articles pertaining to the said topic. The resulting articles can either be short or quite extensive, either funny or dead serious, but are always a great fun to read! Any questions about the EVE Blog Banter should be directed to Check for other EVE Blog Banter articles at the bottom of this post!

This month topic is brought to us by L'Dene Bean of Nitpickin's who asks: Why, and how did you pick your corporation? Is your loyalty solid or just until a better placed organization "recruits" you. The shorter version:  Who holds your Unshakable Fealty and why?

By nature I am a loyal person, so it is almost natural for me to stick to a Corp even when it is wasting my time. I'm a sucker for giving too many chances. If anyone were to look at my profile they would see that in three-and-a-half years I have only seen four Corporations. And even then, two of those Corps are a merger so in reality I've only been part of three. And of those three my first was disbanded, the second I left and the third I'm currently still serving.

I enjoy being part of something. And even more than that, I enjoy being significant in that part. My second Corp I won't really count, as there was very little involvement from me (not by choice, I hasten to add!). More on that later.

My first Corporation found me, I never went looking. I was too afraid of Corporations at the time. It seemed a bit daunting to interact with other real-life players. EvE was my first (and only) MMO. Even though the game is about player-vs-player interaction, I still found it a little odd 'talking' to a funny looking spaceship on my monitor. It seemed a bit silly at the time. And I also thought I had nothing to offer a Corp while I was still a Newb. We all know that's not the case with many Corps, but back then I didn't know any better. So it's a good job I was approached, otherwise I would have eventually got sick of mining solo in my Badger and quit the game years ago.

I had a great time in my first Corp. Sure, it may have been only geared around mining, but a lot of the enjoyment was probably due to my learning curve increasing extensively. That, and the fact that the Corp and it's members were brand new. It was interesting to see the Corp flourish from a seed. And it was nice to know that almost everyone else was in the same Newb boat as myself. I was loyal without question, and this didn't go unnoticed. The CEO was starting to give me certain rights, and even a title. I was also well-rewarded, which made my loyalty stick even further. I don't remember ever thinking about leaving to find another Corp.

Then real life got in the way, and I disappeared for about 18 months.

When I got back the Corp had disbanded, much to my dismay. Even though I was playing again, I wasn't able to dedicate enough time to be effective to another Corp. So I ran solo for quit a while. But it wasn't long before the feeling of isolation set in. My game-time had picked up, so I scanned the recruitment channel looking for a new Corp.

I found one that seemed to offer everything I was looking for, so I applied and joined. There were only 5 of us in total, as it was just starting out. I liked the idea of this because, like my first Corp, it was nice to be part of something where I could have an effect on it's moulding. But it wasn't long before the two CEO's wandered into a Wormhole and never returned. The other guy was a different time zone to me so we hardly ever saw each other while the fourth was an AFK-King. So, I was back on my own running missions and mining but paying Corp tax on everything I did. Needless to say, I was getting frustrated. Not much loyalty there, although it did take me a while to hit that quit button as I kept piling on those chances. At the very least I do owe thanks because it led me to my current Corp.

My home at the time was Umokka, and one particular day I went scanning. I found a hidden asteroid field and took my Hulk for a spin. I was soon joined by other miners. While my strip-miners did what they do best, I decided to revisit the recruitment channel. I watched it for a while, but nothing matched my wants. I decided to try posting a message in the local chat about recruitment. Umokka always had between 150-300 pilots occupying the system at any time, so it didn't take long for someone to come through. It was Ron (who is now the CEO for my Corp) who spoke up first. And it turned out that he was floating right next to me in the asteroid field. In fact, a lot of the Corp were there mining alongside my Hulk. So, we got talking and I decided to give it a shot.

I'm still in that Corp. And I don't feel that I will leave for a long time. However, current times are very testing, and there is not a better point in time that this Blog Banter question could have come about. I'm not afraid to say that our Corp is experiencing a bit of a slump at the moment and Lucrosum Bellas is no where near as mighty as it once was. A lot of the 'original' players have left to move on to other things while a few have taken long-term breaks for various reasons. 

The reasons for the current Corp 'recession' are too long to annotate well into this post without. But a recent move followed by some Alliance squabbles and Corp snitches/thieves has left our remaining members a bit spread out and lost. Our once tightly-knitted and active LUBEL has become an untangled ravel of (mostly) solo runners. Because of this, good members are dropping out. 

However, I am in a good position to turn this situation around. I will soon be asking my CEO to give me 'Recruitment Rights' so I can rebuild our numbers. Before I do that, I want to get myself much better established - an operation that has already taken me many weeks so far. I'm aiming to be in position where I can offer PvP and Wormhole Ops as well as mission-running and mining. I'm half way to this goal.

But even through these tough times I am not thinking of leaving. Perhaps I'm being too sentimental to the 'good-old-days' I had in the beginning. But the pilots who remain are excellent quality, and I know we can return to the 'Elite (CareBear!) player Corp' we once had. I am so sure of myself that I've turned down a few invitations recently from other Corps who can give me a great deal more than what LUBEL could ever offer. Enough said.

I think it's safe to say that if I ever thought about leaving my Corporation, it would be to form one of my own. 

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Macro-Miners in EvE

Is this a taboo subject?

I think it is, as any talk of it seems mostly under the radar. But I was reading a post in the EvE Forums that addressed this, and I wanted to discuss it.

However, before I say anything else, I want to make it clear that I condemn anyone who uses mining-bots to harvest ISK to sell for real money. I have no hesitation clicking on that 'Report ISK Spammer' option. In fact, I reported someone yesterday. But I'm not talking about them. The folks I'm referring to are those who treat it as an aid, much like most of us use EFT or EVEMON.

A lot of the pilots I fly with are married with kids. Others are students who do a lot of studying. Or some (like me) are just tied up in a busy life-style. I hear it a lot when we plan something like a Corp mission-blitz; 'Sorry guys, but I gotta take the dog for a walk and then put the kids to bed.' They log and miss out on ISK. That's fine - after all, EvE's a game and real life is, well, real life.

However, ISK is needed to play EvE, and flying advanced ships is more fun than scurrying around in noob vessels. But the more advanced the ship the more expensive it is, and if you can't generate ISK to buy these it could be off-putting. A character may have 30million skill points, but actual gaming time means the pilot may never afford anything larger than a cruiser. What should the player do? Continue in a state of slow or non-advancement? Or just give up if enough time cannot be dedicated to the game? The latter would take money away from CCP, which is not ideal.

To that end, is a mining-bot an answer for these people? Is it wrong if used in a way where the player is sat at a computer studying while the mining-bot takes control, leaving the persons' learning uninterrupted but still physically at the computer? Or while a father watches a DVD with his kids leaving his Retriever to nibble away at asteroids - should a macro-miner not be allowed here?

I don't know if it should be or not. It can easily be argued that EvE is a game, and games are meant to be played. But should it even matter that a small amount of people use this tool to provide that extra income to enhance their otherwise feeble game-time? Granted, there will always be the select few who totally abuse the application and run it 24/7. But these people are everywhere in life.

It has never crossed my mind to use one myself. These days I barely touch mining. My Hulk is currently buried under a mountain of dust, and I'm not planning to bring her out any time soon. Besides, macro-mining (apparently) will bring in around 6million ISK an hour if done with a well-rigged Hulk. Well, that's not even pocket money to me so I wouldn't consider using one. But to the 'one-hour a week' players, ten-hours of mining spread over the week would make a healthy difference.

But remember this - macro-mining benefits people other than the direct user. Hulkageddon victims (in and out of tournament) are more than often macro-miners. So would it have even come about without the fields of juicy automated Hulks? Even Carebears benefit. For players involved in production there is a greater supply of minerals due to these macro-mining folk. And the more ships and components built the more fierce the market, which means cheaper prices for everyone.

So at the very least we might agree that there are some pro's coming from the macro-miners. But I would only be lenient to those who wouldn't abuse the program. And CCP? Well, at the end of the day, macro-miners are still paying customers, so I'm not sure that they would look to ban them unless they were ISK harvesting to sell for RL cash. I think it is just frowned upon.

I would safely bet a reasonable amount of money that macro-mining will never be made legal in the game, but could CCP perhaps provide an alternative for 'mild' macro-miners by introducing a similar in-game feature? The notion behind PLEx was to provide an answer to Cash-for-ISK, right? Could something be done about Macro programs?

How about a mining set-up similar to the current PI model? Special mining-drone colonies could be introduced. Asteroid fields too dangerous for humans, for whatever reason (in other words, inaccessible), could be implemented. The ore is delivered to a holding station (like a Customs Office) and the drones need to be reset after a certain amount of time in the same way extractors do in PI. The amount mined would need to be greatly inferior than actual player-mining, but enough to make it worth while for the 'mild' macro-miner to switch to the in-game method. Perhaps even the compressed minerals found in Rogue-Drone salvage could be the unrefined material found in these belts?

The example is nothing more than a spit-ball, but does anyone think an alternate method is possible?

I am very interested to here peoples opinions on this topic, so please share your views.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

How NOT to run Planet Interaction

I had such a revelation with my PI that I wanted to share it right away, even though I am probably about to make myself look dim-witted.

My CEO was already involved with it and I asked him if it was worth while. From what he told me it seemed the profit was reasonable, so I trained the skills. He also sent me an e-mail with a run-down of what to do. I then set to work. I decided I would use the PI to construct fuels for our POS. I picked five suitable worlds and built my colonies. I was succeeding in my task, but production was slower than I first thought. I ran this for many weeks.

However, recently we set up another POS in Low-Sec. So, a couple of days ago I abandoned the colonies, replenished my Crane's cargo hold with fresh Command Centres and rebuilt my PI in the new system.

I paid more attention to what I was doing this time, and I noticed that a cluster of four Extractors were excavating around 2,300 units per cycle each. Collectively, that's 9,200 unit per 30 minute cycle (give or take a few units due to the slight variations in mining quantities between each Extractor).

Now, in the instructions that my CEO had mailed me, he said to watch the input levels to Processors. He also told me that the Launch-Pad would hold all my excess materials. In the previous system, I never saw any excess on my Launch-Pad so I thought the Extractor-to-Processor ratio I used was right.


Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong and WRONG!

It takes a Basic Processor Factory thirty-minutes to convert 3000 units of Noble Metals into 40 units of Precious Metals. But I would like to emphasise '3000 units' again. Remember I said I had four extractors kicking out 9,200 units per hour? So, if the Processor will only accept 3000 units every thirty-minutes, where do the remaining 6,200 go?

I'll tell you - thin air.

The Factories will happily accept the 3000 units they need, plus queue up an additional 3000 units as long as there isn't any already waiting. Any excess 'poofs' into thin air. And this has a knock-on effect to any processors thereafter. The thing is - this doesn't have to happen, but I had been running my PI like this for weeks.

The way I 'routed' (not linked) my PI buildings was:
Extractor -> Basic Factory -> Advanced Factory -> Launchpad

It seemed logical. But it's not, if you think about  it carefully. Imagine all the lorries queued up outside my Basic Factory waiting to empty 9,000 units of Noble Metal into the Processor. The problem is they can't. The Processor and it's limited storage are already full and there is nowhere else to store the excess. Well, they're not going to hang around outside a factory for days on end waiting for there turn, so they drive off home and sell my metal on the black-market for their own gains. And I don't blame them.

In my new set-up, EVERYTHING is routed through the Launchpad. That's the trick. If the building churns something out, it goes straight to the Launchpad. Then, if a factory needs a material input it can take what it needs from there instead of being directly linked to a supply structure(s), which could be trying to feed it material when it's already full. This is what my CEO was trying to tell me, but at the time I assumed that any excess would automatically be taken to the pad. The correct way is to route Extractors and Processors to the Launchpad first, and then route the relevant materials stored on the Launchpad back to the PI structures that need them.

Storing surplus stock also allows me to monitor materials that are either excessively piling up or depleting too quickly. I can then balance out the levels by either adding or removing Extractors. This can also free up both CPU and power in my Command Centre, allowing me to run additional Factories. And more Factories means more profit.

Now that (I think) I have set up my PI correctly, I am much more involved with it in a good way. I have spent many, many hours trying to configure it right and I am still tweaking days later. I actually find it fun. I estimate it will take at least a week to get all my Extractors-to-Processors balanced efficiently. This is because I have to monitor mineral piles after making any changes. Or I could use Maths, but I hate Maths.

In only 48 hours I have already produced 24% of what I made in the 3 weeks of running my old set-up. And I expect this increase to triple once the PI is finally balanced. I hope to keep on top of stock so I don't have to start building silo's, too.

So, remember to route everything through the damn Launchpad, not just link it.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Having My Work Cut Out...

So, the re-design of my Blog took a lot longer than I originally stated. There's no getting away from the trend-pattern of my promises - I say my posts will be published by a certain date, but it's weeks after said date that I finally spit them out.

Am I lazy? Not entirely.

Busy? Very.

In EvE I am, anyway.

If I had published a post for every event that has happened to me in EvE over the last few weeks, I'd be in the hundreds. So I won't do that. Instead, enjoy a 'quick' run-down:

 - My Corp joined an Alliance
 - We move system to be with the main hub of the Alliance
 - Corp gets involved with the variety of Alliance activities
 - I start running Wormhole sleeper-sites with Alliance members - great fun
 - Alliance gets War-Decced
 - Forces gather ready for battle. I spend tens of millions stocking up on throw-away Frigates, Cruisers and Battlecruisers with PvP fits. I am determined to learn PvP
 - War starts
 - I manage to miss out on all battles due to time-zone clashes while all my battle-ready ships gather dust
 - Battles are fruitless on our part due to our superior opponents, but apparently fun
 - Some Corps leave Alliance to avoid the War
 - We learn of traitors in our Corp
 - My Corp CEO falls out with Alliance CEO over leadership in regards to fleet organisation (out of something-like 250 Alliance members, only 15 show up for battle)
- Arguments escalate between our Corp and Alliance members
- Our Corp leaves Alliance, and War is over for us
- I'm left with mothballed PvP ships
- D'Oh!
- Back to mission running and mining
- I buy an Orca to help with mining-ops
- I suddenly find myself never doing mining-ops
- I start up Planetary Interactions to help fuel our High-Sec POS
- My CEO and I discuss putting up another POS, this time in Low-Sec
- Low-Sec POS investigated
- Low-Sec POS materials gathered
- I discover the ultimate fit for my mission-Rokh with perma-run active shield-tank and awesome DPS. I am totally unstoppable in Level-4 missions
- I lose my Rokh in a Level-4 mission
- WtF!!?
- Back to the faithful Drake while I save for a CNR
- I learn how to set up and run a POS
- Low-Sec POS set-up with Moon-Mining capabilities
- I am promoted to 'Chief of Logistics' in our Corp to handle Low-Sec POS logistical requirements
- I take a moment to feel proud that my efforts toward my Corp are being so generously rewarded
- I start to explore Low-Sec
- I also start a Corp T1-Frigate Tournement Ladder for fun
- I find myself at the bottom of said Tournement Ladder
- I concede that I will probably always suck at PvP

And that's pretty much where I'm at. It really is the bones of my recent activities, and I would like to discuss some of the above in greater depth for future posts. I particularly enjoyed running Wormhole-ops.

The main high-light for me is Low-Sec. I am really excited to be there. No, it's not 0.0, but it's providing me more variety in my game-play. Although, there doesn't seem to be a great deal to do other than ratting and running scan-sites. Perhaps I am already seeing the problems that Mynxee is addressing at the moment. But while it's new to me, the general day-to-day events are a lot more interesting. I will remain operating in High-Sec mostly, but it's nice to be doing something different.

When out there, I'm starting to learn how to use the 'Local' channel and D-Scan effectively. I can't help but get nervous when Yarr-folk pass through the system. I'll admit that I'm a coward who runs back to the POS when a -9.8 rated pilot lingers in the system a little longer than I feel comfortable with. And I am aware that I will need to lose many ships before I start to get anywhere near good at PvP, but I am still getting myself established out there. I am in no rush.

Hopefully I will soon be losing to Low-Sec no more!

And it's also nice to be Blogging again.

Optimising your PC...

When my computer went kaput, I began a trek of learning about the internal workings of a PC to solve my problems. I signed up to and this was where most of my knowledge came from - the guys and gals were fantastic.

Anyway, there was one particular post that caught my eye. I read it and carried out the procedures to both my PC (XP) and my girlfriends laptop (VISTA).

Wow. What a difference.

Now, perhaps I am teaching a lot of folk to suck eggs. But I would like to share this with the IT-ignorant people like myself. So, for those of you who know how to turn off those hidden background programs as well as disabling unwanted applications at start-up, you can stop reading here.

For those still following, click on the link to this post:

I hope that Sven2157 doesn't mind me sharing this, but it made such a difference to both of my computers that I am keen to pass this information across to others. Although, I take no responsibility for anyone who manages to mess up their computer (covering my behind here!).

So, if you are confident enough to follow those steps, you will see a big difference in computer performance, especially at start up!

Well, I did anyway.


Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Blog Banter #21: Low-Sec - The Forgotten part of EVE Online

Welcome to the twenty-first installment of the EVE Blog Banter, the monthly EVE Online blogging extravaganza created by CrazyKinux. The EVE Blog Banter involves an enthusiastic group of gaming bloggers, a common topic within the realm of EVE Online, and a week to post articles pertaining to the said topic. The resulting articles can either be short or quite extensive, either funny or dead serious, but are always a great fun to read! Any questions about the EVE Blog Banter should be directed to Check for other EVE Blog Banter articles at the bottom of this post!

This month topic comes to us from @ZoneGhost who a few month ago asked: "Is Low Sec the forgotten part of EVE Online?" Is it? I'd like us to explore this even further. Is Low Sec being treated differently by CCP Games than Null Sec (Zero-Zero) or Empire space is? Can one successfully make a living in these unsecured systems where neither Alliance nor Concord roam to enforce their laws? What's needed? Or is everything fine as it is?


This is rather unfortunate timing for me.

At the moment I have very little to do with Low-Sec. My ventures out there are nothing more than my PI set-ups and the occasional mission. I don't deem my experiences-to-date worthy enough to offer a solid opinion. If I tried, I would just ramble rubbish and people will frown at me. So I will leave my personal opinions aside and just share what I know from others.

The Blogs that I follow often mention a sense of abandonment to Low-Sec. Mynxee is the latest to cover this matter in her most recent Blog posts. Moreover, she's attempting to change a few things with the help of others. Good on you, Mynxee.

From what I understand, nearly all pilots operate in High-Sec, Null-Sec and Wormhole. So, if this is where players mainly dwell, developing Low-Sec will not be on top of CCP's agenda. I am, however, inclined to think it's all a spiralling catch-22 situation; people avoid Low-Sec because CCP don't put anything there, but CCP don't put anything there because people avoid Low-Sec. Even in my short travels in this region of space, I have been surprised at how quiet it is.

The reason the timing of this topic is unfortunate is because I'm in the beginning process of a move into Low-Sec. Had this Blog-Banter been issued next month, I would have some interesting points to contribute to this post. Ron (the Corp CEO) and myself were discussing POS's only the other day. It was one of those conversations that started off as idle chat and quickly bloated into big ideas. To cut the boring details, we decided to put up a POS in Low-Sec. It will be geared around moon mining, with facilities to accommodate the occasional Low-Sec Mining-Op. At the time of writing this we are still in the probing-phase of the operation, so I don't have much to report (other than Ron lost his Heron to someone's POS defences - Haha!). But I am very excited to be making a move to Low-Sec.

However, at the moment I am looking to use Low-Sec as an additional income. I will remain based in High-Sec for the most part. I can't see our Corp making a permanent move out there. Not yet, anyway. Without actually operating in Low-Sec I don't know if it's even profitable enough to make a permanent move. We'll see. For the nature of our operations (CareBear-ey stuff) it would probably benefit us if Low-Sec did remain quiet - but that is purely for selfish reasons, and I don't want to be a bad sport.

Apologies for my naivety on this subject, especially with it being my first Blog-Banter post. But hopefully in the up-coming weeks I will be forming a very strong opinion on Low-Sec life.


CK's links:

Crazykinux's Musing:
EVE Blog Pack:
EVE Blog Banter:

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Reconstruction Complete...

Final update:

Well, all my original Blog-posts have now been edited and resubmitted. It's taken so long due to events in EvE, which are taking up a lot of my time at the moment (War-Dec's, Alliance struggles, etc). I hope they are easier reading.

Anyway, postings will now continue as normal.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Losing to Low-Sec...

Blog # 4

I don't wander into low-sec that often. Mainly, because I haven't had that much luck out there. I mentioned my first experience in a previous Blog-post with the Caracal, but my greatest loss in low-sec to date was with my Bustard.

The ship was full of high-value cargo, which I was trading between Hi and Low-Sec. I had been running a 0.4 gate without trouble, although I was fully aware of the risks of taking a sluggish ship through such a system.

On one of the jumps a ship was camping the other side (can't remember what it was). The Bustard's mighty tank held up and I was actually shredding his defences with smart-bombs. When the guy realised what was happening he apparently called in his chums to assist when the gate was suddenly alive with movement. I was going to lose my ship and the haul after all. Fine. I had made an awesome profit already (perhaps not enough to cover the cost of the Bustard, though), and this is EvE. And a lot of crap happens in EvE. The Bustard eventually popped and my pod screamed back to High-Sec.

After that incident I changed my tactics. I abandoned the idea of a Bustard and now do all my low-sec trading in a Crane, fitted with Covert-Ops cloak. And it's a fine ship. Next to my Rokh it is easily my most-used vessel. Although the cargo hold really does stand in the shade of the Bustard's, the cloak and fast-align means I no longer get blown-up (well, until I meet a  well-organised gate-camp). I now venture deep into Low-Sec systems and I can make just as much per-hour from Low-Sec trading as I can from a decent level-4 mission. Except, it really isn't as fun. Apart from when I'm jabbing the air with the double V-signs at gate-campers as I slip past them - that's tremendous fun.

I know CCP are trying to get folks out into low-sec because I am suddenly getting more and more missions in 0.4. The problem is, ships fitted for PvE aren't very clever against PvP-fitted vessels. So even though I use a Drake for Low-Sec, I'm very aware of the danger that puts me in. To help my situation, I buddy-up with a Corp mate. They watch the jump gates and keep a vivid eye on the directional scanner for me so I can concentrate on the task.

As with a lot of people I am planning to move to null-sec eventually. But at the moment I'm more than content with where I am and what I'm doing. However, I've been following Star Defender and his posts on EVE Online Wormholes. He's been having a great time in Wormhole space, made a move to Null-Sec and now the game has totally transformed for him. It seems that the move has increased his EvE enjoyment ten-fold. After one particular post 'LightTraveler grows fangs', I feel that I'm missing out on what EvE is really about by dwelling in High-Sec.

'r7av7en7' has literally just made the jump out there, too - so I will be following his Blog, 'The Less than Dramatic Journey of a Tech Geek', very intently. I already like the sound of the bounties awarded by ratting! So maybe I will do it sooner rather than later.

However, it seems a lot more dedication to your Corp and Alliance is required when operating out there. At the moment, I cannot give enough time to the game. That is probably the biggest reason why I'm not making the move just yet. In High-Sec, casual playing is very achievable.

So for now, I will carry on CareBear-ing.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Persistence Prevails!

Blog # 3

My life has taken a bizarre turn of events over the last week.

My girlfriend hates EvE. I mean, she really hates it. A lot of the reason why I don't play as often is because of her hatred for the game I have come to love. She says it steals away the little time we have together. Apparently, shelves fall off the wall and doors hang loose from their hinges as I let the house decay because I'm fixed onto the computer screen. It means the pet house-rabbit gets lonely when she's working shifts because I'm pew-pewing instead of giving the 'I'll-crap-next-to-the-litter-tray-instead-of-in-it' bunny the attention the little critter apparently needs.

In actual fact, we have loads of time together, the shelves and doors are fine, and the rabbit loves it when I play because he will sit on the sofa next to me for hours and not demand any attention.

Here is the little guy watching me play EvE back when he was a wee-pup. See, he's fine.


The amount of arguments that we have had because of EvE are countless. It's easily in the top five things that we argue about. So, one day I ask her; 'why not give the game a go yourself?' Next, I was ducking and diving from any projectile she could find to throw at me - including the rabbit, who had casually hopped into the lounge to see what the noise was about.

She didn't really throw the rabbit.

This went on for a long time. Whenever I suggested that she should try the game I ended up having to do a super-man out the window to escape any projectiles. I wasn't allowed to talk about EvE, let alone play the game. But, I persisted. Quite often she would laugh at me when I said EVE had a real-life likeness to a few things, such as the market. I tried to explain that people even practice business in the game to get the basics weighed off for reality. But apparently, I was talking rubbish when a hairbrush clonked me in the side of the head.

But then a funny thing happened. I logged in to check my mails and she happened to be with me. One of the e-mails read that our stand-in CEO was leaving the Corp. Now, this guy made the game for me in many ways. He was the strongest link chaining me to my Corp. I was gutted. At first my lass laughed at me when she saw how down about this guy leaving. Normally, I'd blank her, but for the first time I returned fire. I was ready to rip off my right-arm just so that I would have something to throw at her. Of course, I'm not forgetting that this is internet spaceships, but when you have done so much with a Corp-mate it's like losing a good pal. Sure, people come and go in Corp's, but this was a little out of the blue. So I think shock was the biggest part in my reaction. Anyway, she left the room for a long time after that.

Later, she creeped back and offered to have a go at EvE. I didn't take her seriously at first, but sure enough she made a character on my account and went through a few tutorials. I let her train a few skills to get her through the basic stuff, but then she really started to get into it. I would't let her take any more time out of my main characters training, so she went ahead and opened her own account.

And now?

I get into trouble for not playing EvE. She loves it. In fact, I'm forever getting phone calls and texts when I'm at work asking for advice. Last night she was playing until well after midnight, keeping me up until gone 11pm until she 'didn't need me any more' and I could finally get to sleep. I'm really pleased she's giving it a go. Plus, it means that we have another true female pilot among the EvE community. She's been playing a couple of weeks now and she shows no sign of backing down. I keep reminding her that she's only scratching the surface of the game, and she gets excited at that. She still goes all shy when someone opens a convo up and tries to recruit her, and she's a long way off from team-speak, but already she wants to join a Corp. I tell her to get use to the basics and make sure she sticks with the game first, but the signs are very promising. I've taken her onto some Level-4 missions, and she goes crazy over the loot in her little Bantam. It's all very quaint.

Below is a picture of her doing a Worlds Collide mission while we were driving to my cousins. She has the scarf-thing over her head because of sun-glare on the screen. I don't even make that much of an effort to log on.


So, to the lads (and lasses) who have partners that detest EVE - be persistent to get them to try it. I remember a Blog-Banter from CrazyKinux not so long a go that put forward the question of why many women don't play EVE, and now I think it's just because many of them simply haven't given it a go. Probably due to first impressions in that EVE looks quite 'boy-ish'. But what do I know? To me, the woman's mind is as much of a mystery as the phantom sock-snatcher every time I do a clothes wash.


Sound Advice...

Blog # 2

The way I look at it there are two different ways to develop a Character in EvE: by 'progressing fast' or by 'progressing well'. To begin with, I chose the fast route.

What I mean by 'progressing fast' is training the minimum skills required to use ships and bigger components, without learning other skills to help use them effectively. In other words, pilots may applaud themselves by flying battlecruisers after only a short time of play, but it doesn't mean that they can fly them well.

When I started out in my first Corporation I wanted to fly the big ships, not little frigates. So I trained only the skills that would advance my Character onto larger vessels. I remember celebrating as I picked up a Caracal for the first time. I felt unstoppable. So much so, that I decided to go and explore Low-Sec. I was somehow under the delusion that a T1-fitted Caracal would be able to handle itself. Needless to say, my ship popped. Two Drakes were gate-camped the other side, demolishing anything that jumped through. I could do nothing as my new ship got stripped of it's shields, armour and structure in seconds. The moment I was a pod, I warped off to an asteroid field.

However, my pod wasn't alone. A Crow had followed me. Straight away, I was scrambled and webbed. But what happened next was completely unexpected. A chat box sprung up and the Crow pilot asked what I was doing in a Caracal for the age of my character. I had no real answer, other than I thought it looked awesome. But the advice I was given has stuck with me ever since, and I'm still following it to this day.

It is as follows:

"Frigates are very good ships, and there is no need to advance from them until late in the 'beginning part' of the game. They can run Level 1 and 2 missions, and are ideal ships for training PvP combat. During this 'work-up' time of learning the basics of EvE in frigates, base supporting skills should be trained."

And that is the main emphasis of this post - train up supporting skills.

I am sure that most experienced pilots out there would agree with me on this. And it doesn't matter if your character is jack-of-all-trades or role-typed. Relevant key supporting skills trained up to level 4 and 5 are of significant benefit. What was the point in me flying a Caracal when I barely had the other skills to operate it's weapons and shields effectively? It was like trying to drive a lorry on a moped licence. After the encounter I returned to Kino and re-planned my approach to EvE. I went back to a Merlin and bought skills that made the weapons fire faster, gave projectiles more damage, allowed ships to manoeuvre quicker, make the shields and capacitor recharge faster, freed up more CPU and power-grid, etc, etc. Once my supporting skills were at a satisfactory level, I concentrated on turning my T1 components to T2. In the end, I didn't even bother with Destroyers or Cruisers and went from a Merlin to a Drake.

After eight months, I've just finished. Now when I flick through my index, everything is at level 4 or 5, save a handful where a level-up wouldn't really benefit me. Even if they offer only a 2% boost at each level, I can honestly say I see the benefits. The rewards of this are worth the long time of seemingly non-progression. This is what I mean by 'progressing well'.

I will share an example that only happened the other day. One of our new Corp members convo'd me after becoming extremely fed up of not being able to tank Level-2 missions. I asked if any supporting skills had been trained, and they hadn't. I reeled off a list of key shield-improvement skills, which the pilot then bought and trained to at least level-three. And now Level-2 missions are no longer a problem.

My advice to rookie pilots is simple - make sure that you are fully walking before you can run. I'm not saying that one should spend three-quarters of a year training all these up in one go, but at least get the basics done. This is just my experience.

So, to the Crow pilot wherever he/she may be - thank you!

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Blogging Begins...

Blog # 1

EvE offers a great community. Any half-awake pod-pilot knows this. Apparently, CCP can quite happily boast that it has the most active gaming community there is against any other MMO. So, this is good news for any new EvE Bloggers like myself. The first time the community really caught my attention was when I saw the Blog-Pack on my iPod after downloading the Capsuleer App. I enjoyed what I read so I started following a few. I was getting a taste of aspects of the game that I had not yet explored, as well as learning a few new things along the way. A little later I found Podcasts, such as The Drone Bay, and my attention to the EvE community leapt forward further. It was fun, and I decided I wanted to get involved. I enjoy writing, so Blogging is the ideal route to take. In real life, however, I am the type of individual who is a 'thinker' more than a 'doo-er''.

Not so long ago my graphics card packed up. I was on EvE when the screen started to jump. It seemed like lag, so I continued in blissful ignorance until the computer completely froze. On reboot the loading screen was stained with an array of vertical lines. A virus was the first problem that sprung to mind. But to spare the problem-eliminating details that ensued, it turned out the card failed due to my neglect of basic computer housekeeping. When I removed the side-cover of the tower I found the internals caked in dust. It had built up in the heat-sinks and starved the processor of cool air. I acquired a new one and rebooted the computer for good measure. A lot of reinstalling inevitably followed and I quickly grew tired of blue loading bars, so I decided that I would start that EvE Blog that I had been dwindling on for so long. And here it is.

So, back to topic. Well, Akinesis is my Toon and I'm a 2007 player. However, I am probably more of a 2009 player in terms of experience and game-time. My skill points reflect this. At the time of writing my Toon currently harbours only 26mil. Thanks to real-life commitments, I took a year and a half out. But I always knew I would be coming back to EvE. In fact, it's the only game that I play now. EvE encompasses everything I want out of a game. Simple. There is a clear and steady progression coupled with achievement that one can build upon without a 'Final Boss' to end everything one has created. For me, not having an end is one of the games' biggest attractions. I'm not even going to mention the shear diversity EvE offers; it speaks for itself.

As for my play-style, I don't think I should leave it any later to announce that I am a Carebear. This is probably due to my 'upbringing' rather than intial choice. I found my legs in EvE with a Mining-Corp that trained newbs. I am well-aware that many Low/Null-Sec and Wormhole pilots are not interested in reading what a Carebear gets up to in-game. My activities are dull to these folk, so why should they read my posts? Well, I can assure you that I'm not basing this Blog entirely on my Carebear-ing activites. I'm planning on writing about the bigger picture in EvE, not how well my strip-miners are performing. I aim to discuss 'topics' rather than day-to-day events, unless something significant happens. So even though many are shaking their heads at my play-style, I hope my angle of writing will be intersting. Rest assured, however, that I am now flying more and more into Low-Sec due to my Alliance. So hopefully my material will start to relate to a wider margin of players.

I know that I cannot please everybody with this Blog, and I'm certainly not even going to try. All I can say is that I am writing this for myself, and it's a bonus even if I gain one follower.

I hope you enjoy o/