Welcome to the reincarnation of my blog. This will be a public forum (why else would I publish it to a blog?) but mostly I plan to use this space to organize my thoughts about EVE Online and maybe a few random thoughts that are only peripherally related to EVE. I'm familiar with the characters on EVE forums, so comments will be moderated. Trolls, griefers, and those with nothing constructive to add will be ignored. I may also delete anonymous postings; I'm putting myself out here and showing you my face - the least you can do is show yours.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Post Cruicible

What would happen to EVE if PVE and PVP were indistinguishable? Imagine fighting an incursion, but the incursion is made up of other players. Sansha (or other faction) rewards its champions with shiny loot or LP for taking a system, Concord (or Gallente, etc) rewards those who answer the call to defend similarly. While we're talking hypotheticals, what if a Gallente force could take Jita?

I know, it sounds like faction warfare, but let’s take it a step further. What if all missions affected NPC sovereignty? Your L4 agent might, for instance, send you to the front lines where you would be auto-fleeted with a small gang trying to take out another small gang. And maybe - just maybe, rats fill out the ranks. If you succeed, your agent gets to keep his office in Dodixie. If you fail, you might see an exodus of Fed Navy officials fleeing the stations.

If you are a successful fighter, Amarr might post a bounty on your head making you a more attractive target the next time around. If your bounty is high enough, you might get shot if you show your ugly mug in Amarr space (and not by faction police!).

What about null sec dwellers? How do they get a piece of the action? Alliance control of hi sec! You read it here first! Hi sec would remain NRDS. Of course, if you're going to try to take a piece of hi sec away from Caldari, you'd better be prepared to defend it! Why would an alliance want to take a hi sec constellation? Tax revenue generated by players AND NPCs. Fed Navy might pay an alliance to host their diplomats (allowing mission runners to do their thing).

Security status goes away. Your legal authority to be in a particular area depends on who controls the system and your standings with them. You increase your standings by fighting your host's enemies; your status decreases if you fight with the enemy.

No more static storylines! Minmatar will have the potential of winning Amarr space. The Gallente-Minmatar alliance is not a forgone conclusion. Caldari might find they have more in common with Gallente when faced with hostile Amarr. A new AI might guide the story, but the players will control the outcome.

Yeah, just daydreaming here. I think this might be one of those Jesus expansion thingies.

EDIOT:  Almost forgot...Sovereignty goes to the occupying force.  No nation in the world is established by planting a flag in the middle of the cornfield (desert, playa, savanah).  Also Sovereignty isn't suddenly re-assigned when that flag with its stupid tank is finally taken down.  Sovereignty is held by the people who occupy the land ....erm solar system.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A New Direction....

I did it!  No, not 10 kills in a Tristan. I left my NPC corp (again!) and joined a WH corp.  A couple of buddies of mine recently surprised me by their departure and invited me to join them.  After a brief interview with the CEO and a few minutes of introspection, I applied and was accepted to Fabulously Terrific Wonderment. 

Its a small corp with 10 or so members including 2 vets who returned after Hilmar's apology.  So far, it seems like a good mix of characters who are genuinely interested in enjoying the game on a smaller scale than the big null sec alliances.  The corp is fairly young, but our CEO has vision and experience and my new corpmates seem eager to explore EVE and enjoy themselves.  I am optimistic.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Tristan Project

One down, 100+ to go.  I'm starting to rethink this project already.

A) Tristans are no match for destroyers.  I barely had my opponent's Thrasher half through shields before I popped.  I think the only damage I was dealing was with my rockets.  I was scrammed and webbed before I could close the range.  Six AC II's are going to do a lot more damage in 5s it takes to get in blaster range than a couble of rockets launchers are.  To add insult to injury, I paid the 30m isk ransom my opponent asked for to spare my 100m isk implants and 20m isk clone.  (Note:  be sure to use empty clone next time).

B)  I forgot to overheat weapons; I should have overheated weapons at the start of the 15s engagement, but I'm not sure that would have made a difference.  Also, my drone never the cargo bay - DOH!  But really, even if I had remembered to do those things, I'm not sure that I'd have had enough time to manually adjust my orbit.

C)  I spent three hours looking for a solo match near Amamake for Tristan #2.  All of the ships I found were T2 frigates or small gangs.  Solo kills are elusive, especially for the lowly Tristan.

As for my pledge - flying a Trsitan exclusively until I have 10 kills is not realistic.  I have the means to purchase 100 fitted Tristans, but getting even a small number of ships to another region without using my hauler just isn't reasonable.  Also, I've been invited a number of times to join other operations that require a bit more firepower than my Tristan can supply and it seems pointless to pass those opportunities up for the sake of the pledge.

No, I'm not giving up just yet.  I just have to be more realistic about my expectations.  I have an opportunity to take a few Tristans out to NPC null sec.  This opportunity comes at a time when I've been invited to join a WH corp.  If I join the WH corp, I will not likely have an opportunity to use my Tristans.  On the otherhand, I've been leaning toward life in the hole since I came back to EVE a few months back.  I'm drawn to the frontier and wild-west game play idea.  So, yeah.  I'm rethinking this project.  Meanwhile, if you happen to see me in a Tristan, grab a frigate and engage me, but don't expect me to pay more than 15m ransom for my pod.

On another note:  I need to stay away from EVE-O forums.  Its a poisonous environment with lots of rage from a lot of folks who think they know how to design a game better than the professionals.  Also, that bitter taste in my mouth is starting to become noticeable again.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

#10 - How Real is EVE?

I'm embarassed to say this.  Oh, not to you folks.  You all know!  But when my family or friends ask me what I did last weekend, I have to make up stories.  They don't understand what it means to go on a roam.  They don't know what an 'Incursion' is.  They don't know why you spend hours talking to people who's RL names you don't even know!

So when my co-worker starts to complain about how Europe is dragging down the U.S. economy because they're all communist/socialist nanny state welfare recipients, I have a hard time explaining that my U.K. friend ....lets call him Alex .... is unemployed because of the credit crisis that started in the U.S. and the injuries he suffered while fighting in Iraq!  Alex and I fly spaceships together and speak more frequently to each other than I do with some of my family members despite the fact that he lives 6000 miles away.

I can not begin to tell you the number of times that I've had to deal with a difficult customer and caught myself reflecting on the strategies I used to influence my corp's CEO.  I've chuckled during planning meetings because mobilizing our project was not too different from moving our corporation to a new region. I have to double check my e-mails to make sure I'm not using terms like 'ganked' or 'camped' or 'ransome' (that last one is very problematic).

EVE is real, alright.  And I'm better for it.  Just don't tell my boss where I learned my management skills!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Barrier to Entry

I wrote recently about the grind and its importance.  Over the last few days, I've been thinking about The Grind and I've been reading a bit about risk aversion. Here are some random thoughts on the subject.  Sometime soon, I'll organize them into something more cohesive.

It takes a better part of a week to grind through level 4 missions to earn enough isk to buy a ship worthy of combat.  It takes 30 seconds to lose that ship.

I do not pay real $ for isk.  Never have, never will.  That isn't a part of my game.  Frankly, I think this is a mechanic that should be removed, though I doubt very much that it will.
  • $ >>> isk allows people with more $ than time to fund players with more time than $.  This is a win-win-win.  The warmonger sells a plex and buys a Vagabond and a couple of Drakes for his weekend jollies.  The carebear who has just spent the last month running L4 missions buys his plex so that he can continue to run L4 missions.  CCP gets $20 and an account it might not otherwise have.  Change this relationship to much and the whole thing will collapse.
  • I pay my $20/mo to play EVE and I'm not interested in paying any more than that to enjoy the game.  CCP may choose to increase the price of a subscription and I will gladly pay it (assuming the increase is reasonable).  But I expect that my $20 pays for a certain amount of entertainment.  I'm not interested in spending $20 to log on and $20 for equipment.
  • There are cheaper MMOs with more readily available combat.  Combat is only one aspect of EVE.  It is a VERY important aspect, but it is just one. Industry and Mining do not generate the legends that EVE is famous for, but without those two aspects, the game would be as flat as the other instant on combat games.  The depth of the game is what keeps me spending my $20/mo, not the PVP.
I've been to null sec.  I wasn't impressed.

  • The logistics of moving ships to null sec are daunting and JF pilots who fund their PVP with plex have little motivation to move anyone elses ships but their own! 
  • General apathy and suspicion toward new recruits.
  • No mentors, no assistance with TS/VENT, No advice about intel channels, outdated forums, and yet, I was held accountable for knowing all of that information or risk being fined.
  • CTAs - You were expected to be in the target system wether or not there was a a scheduled operation.  Oh, no ratting (we're guests) and you must fly a ship/fit from the pre-approved list (on the outdated forums that you don't have passwords to, nevermind that you can't fly shield tanks)
  • No Ratting out of fear of increasing (decreasing?) true sec status.
  • No High Sec missioning - we won't have our alliance image sullied
  • Lag is a valid battle tactic.  PVP is 50+ vs 50+.  Winner is the one with the most cap ships.
  • You don't like it?  HTFU or GTFO!  This is FUN!

 Skills:  minimum SP requirements - 25m sp or about 1 year of game play (!!!)  Oh, yeah and good luck if you're the poor soul who trained armor tanks and Gallente ships (because there was some mistaken expectation that you were supposed to do that if you rolled a Gallente Character)

PST Time Zone - Even your East Coast friends are logging off just as you come on.  Recruit your West Coast friends to EVE?  What's EVE?  Oh you mean that spreadsheet game?  The one with the inverted learning curve?  The one that I have to grind for a year before I can do anything interesting?  The one where a fight means pressing a couple of keys, waiting and waiting 30s to find out who wins? The one with the broken PVE mechanics?  (My friends' arguments, not mine).

Yes, I know what your comment will be already:  "Why do you even bother playing EVE?"  When the shit hit the fan in June, I considered all of this.  By August, I biomassed.  I gave my stuff to a pilot that I flew with early in my EVE career, a fellow who lives 2000 miles away who I never met in RL.  He expressed true sorrow over my decission and my face was wet when I pressed the skull and crossbones button.  Honestly, I didn't even know what his RL name was when I left, but you can be sure I know it now.

I'm back in EVE now.  A GM was kind enough to resurrect my 40m sp character (or else I probably wouldn't have bothered).  I run L4 missions with a bunch of new pilots.  I help them with their fits.  I teach them the game mechanics.  We grind missions while patiently waiting for the skills to level up so we can fly those shiny T2 cruisers.  And every once in a while, we take frigates out and get blown up.  With any luck, they'll be pretty decent pilots next year.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Question #007 - What is your favourite Crucible Fluff

Question #007
What is your favourite fluff feature in Crucible?

As I stated in my previous post, I was really blown away by the new graphics.  The nebulae are beautiful and the stars are more than just points of lights in the background.  I nearly forgot about the fact that those stars are now more than just background.  Sure, yes, I know, they are still static.  I can imagine one day, hovering my cursor over one of those stars and having the system name pop up - possibly allowing me to set my destination.  Maybe jump gates will disappear and I'll be able to warp directly to those systems?  (That would be game changing though)

I haven't yet explored a WH since Crucible was released, but I wonder what the stars look like there?  Do those stars represent nearby systems?  If I happen to recognize a constellation, does that mean my WH can access that constellation?  Also,  do the stars change as WHs open and close?  (I'm probably overthinking this.)

Anyway, the new graphics are my favourite piece of fluff.  They create a truly immersive environment.

Bonus Response ... Is there anything in Crucible that isn't fluff?  Yes, some of the changes will require pilots to adjust their tactics.  Yes, PI ownership changes will have ripple effects in the market.  Capital nerfs and new anti-cap BCs (super ninja boats?) will demand adjustments.  BUT, there is no new content. WH's (Apocrypha), Incursions (Incursion), Sov changes (for better or worse - Dominion), were truly new content.  Crucible is just a bunch of great new toys.

I'm going to contradict myself just a bit here - the PI changes might not be fluff.  Ownership of Customs Stations is probably a prelude to DUST. 

Fly Safe (or not!)  07


Last week, my mother had surgery and I drew the short straw, so I get to play nurse.  For the last week or so, I've experienced EVE vicariously through other bloggers.  Wow, there are a lot of good writers out there!  (My mother is doing fine, thank you.)

In this forum post, players were trying to guess the name of the up coming winter expansion.  "Purgatory" came closest.  Its always fun to see how predictions play out.  Crucible, besides being a vessel used to mix ingredients (often very hot ingredients), also refers to a test of faith.  Both definitions are apt.

I had a brief opportunity today to see Crucible when I ran home to change my skill queue.  When I logged in, I thought I downloaded the Russian client by mistake.  It took my eyes a few seconds to register the characters.  Then I noticed my windows floating all over the place.  Ugh!  After I changed up my skill queue, I opened up the ship fitting window to see how my Megathron fared: the red and the blue bars were significantly smaller than I recall!  (Note to self:  revisit your Gallente fits!).  I nearly logged off, but remembered Nebulae!  I undocked.


CCP, you outdid yourselves!  The graphics are stunning!  And what are those big points of light up there - oh ya, the stars!  Bigger ones are closer so that must be, ummmm....  Lol.  I'm not a stranger to Sinq, but I couldn't tell you if my pod depended on it which way Dodixie is.  Oh!  and warp tunnels.  Off to the gate I go.  I just wish I had a planet to warp through.  Shimmering, distorted waves of light swam around me - beautiful!  I'm afraid me and hundreds of thousands of other capsuleers have been dupped into playing Atlantis Online though.  No, its not a complaint - just an observation.  Oh and before I forget, I must see the engine trails.  I approach the gate and orbit, full speed, at 290ish m/s  Blue light streams out the back of my Mega, but its just barely visible.  I change direction - nope nothing.  Then I see a concord cruiser burning toward the gate with a long fiery trail.  Very nice.  Presumably my mega is too slow to leave long trails.  Then I press both mouse buttons by accident and my camera does some wierd things!  What the hell is that?!  This is going to make for some great new vids.  No time to do any more exploring; I'm pretty sure my mother needs her toenails trimmed or something.

My Tristan project will be more interesting with the Gallente buffs.  I've seen some references to the Tristan being the new Rifter.  We'll see.  I get home next week sometime.

CCP, this is indeed your test. I doubt you'll see too many unsubs from font rage, or floating windows (and if you do, good riddance).  I saw a brief post in corp chat from someone who rolled a character just to see what the changes looked like.  I suspect you'll have a new sub soon.  Keep up the good work!

Monday, November 28, 2011

All the Cool Kids are Doing It....

Early in my EVE career, someone suggested that the best way to learn to PVP is to buy a bunch of frigs, take them into low-sec and shoot anything that moves.  I think my mentor must have a blog somewhere because in the last two hours, I found Project Rifter, and the more recent effort 100 Tristans.  So this isn't a very original idea, but I really should have done something like this years ago.

I love the Rifter, but I think that doing this in a rifter would be a cliche.  I could salvage some originality here and try the Punisher or Merlin, but I have very little experience with either of these two ships.  Also CRUCIBLE!  My understanding is that small hybrids won't be getting much attention, but what the hell.

So here's my fit:

Highs:  Hybrid guns
Mediums: propulsion, tackle, e-war
Lows:  armor tank
Drone:  Yes
Rigs: probably

My goal:  10 kills.  My mode of discipline - I will fly no other ship but a Tristan until I've achieved 10 kills.  I'll be documenting my efforts here as well as following Poetic Stanziel's efforts (and anyone else who might undertake this sojourn)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Grind

MMORPG has a grind.  The grind serves two purposes.  The first and most obvious purpose of the grind is to sell game time.  In order to acquire items that advance game play, a player has to participate in repetitive, predictable and boring activity and is rewarded with either the means to acquire the desired items, or the item itself.  A fraction of the game time that the player purchases is spent on grind and the balance of the game time is spent achieving the objective. The grind is filler; it turns 10 hours of content into 40 hours.  The second, less obvious and grander purpose of the grind is to add value to the desired items.  The longer a player has to work to obtain the item, the more rare and the more valuable that item becomes.  These two factors translate the desireabiltiy of the item into real currency for the game developer.

In EVE, the grind is very complicated.  The 'sandbox' nature of EVE allows players to define their own grind.  Early in the game, only two paths are available to new players:  mining and missioning.  The isk that the young player earns gradually increases as his skills (also a part of the grind) increase.  Eventually a plateau is reached where the isk/hour rate does not increase with skill progression.  That currently happens at about 15m to 25m skill points (approximately 1 year of game play) with a plateau at 30m to 40m isk/hour.  The grind gets a little less well defined once the plateau is reached as players can, more or less, define their own grind (manufacturing, courier, mercenary services, thieving, trade) and the grind begins to look more like players' self determined end game objective. 

I know that when I say this, I will be contradicted: a productive capsuleer makes about 40m isk/hour of game time while grinding, regardless of the grind.  At that rate, a fully fitted battleship (as an example) takes between 3 and 6 hours to acquire (assuming 120m - 180m isk investment). For me, that's about half a week of game play which generates about $2 u.s. for CCP.  By contrast, a 150m isk battleship costs about about 1/3 of  a plex - about $6.70 u.s.   (That's an interesting disparity)

Why am I mentioning this?  Because at 40m isk/hour, some threshold is crossed at which point the sensibilities of some (presumably) null sec pilots is offended and the source of the isk is considered a 'faucet' that must be shut off.  Of course no one seems to be complaining about the amount of isk that a pilot can earn through manufacturing or mining moons.  To be fair, running null sec anomolies is somewhat riskier (though negligibly risky if the ratting is occuring in friendly territory) and should be rewarded at a somewhat higher rate than high sec missioning.

Does high sec need to be nerfed?  I don't think so.  Does Null sec need to be buffed?  Maybe just a tad. (The changes that will happen in the Crucible Expansion should address this).  I think the 'grind' is working as intended or needs to be tweaked slightly to the benefit null sec pilot.  Is there any justification to the whining complaints about the high sec isk faucet? That was rhetorical.  Is there some mechanic in place that is keeping 'carebears' in high sec?  That is a topic for another post.

Stuff I'm thinking about (in no particular order):
     The Grind and its implications
     New player experience
     High Sec, Low Sec, Null Sec
     Level playing field
          high sec pvp
          war decs bounty system
          Security status
          Player driven storylines
          (faction warfare?)
          pvp missions

Friday, November 25, 2011

From TW to EVE - 15 years of Internet Spaceships

I used to play TradeWars in the mid/late '90s on a dial-up TELNET connection to a local BBS. TradeWars, for those of you who are not familiar, was a semi-persistent, turn based MMORPG. TW was a text based game (GUI overlays were available from various third party developers) with a randomly generated universe. Like EVE, players built empires by grinding at trade stations, mining planetary resources, and conquering rival colonies. Players could chose to cooperate with ISS (think CONCORD) or play the role of a pirate, but the choice really only affected PVE. Unlike EVE, everyone was red. The game would last a few weeks until a predetermined win condition was met at which time the GM declared the and reset game. I LOVED that game!

A few years ago, I found myself with an unexpected amount of free time, so I set off to find out what happened to TW. As it turned out, TW still existed on a handful of obscure TelNET servers but there were too few players to make the game interesting. I considered re-writing the game for the internet, but someone beat me to it. This game, however, was only inspired by TW and after a few iterations, the publisher started to depart from the original version. Also, at the time I started to play, this version was a 'beta' with frequent resets and very few opportunities to achieve the winning condition.

I resumed my search. I'm not sure how I found it, but I came across EVE in 2009, shortly before the Apocrypha release. I signed up for a trial account, rolled a Gallente character and found myself in Center for Advances Studies (CAS) with a shiny new velator. I undocked and was amazed by the graphics and the familiar feeling of the game. This is exactly what I imagined TW would have become after fifteen years of iteration!

About a year ago, my game started to stagnate.  Many of the characters I started out with had moved on – it happens.  I joined a null sec corp because that’s where I saw my end game but I very quickly realized that null sec was not where I wanted to be.  It was about that time when the monocle rebellion emerged and I was caught up in the outrage over Hilmer’s disparaging remarks.  I unsubscribed, like many others, and deleted my main character.  It was time for me to move on.

I followed developments in EVE forums, mostly to see how it would play out.  CCP gradually started to adopt a more conciliatory attitude.  My attitude was changing also.  I started to realize that I was taking the game way too seriously.  The fact of the matter is that I very much enjoyed the game despite its flaws and there are no other internet space ship games that even come close to what CCP has achieved.  So when Hilmer apologized, I petitioned for the resurrection of my main character and the GM obliged.

When I logged Crash in, I found myself in CAS again with 0 isk and a shiny new velator. It’s a new start indeed!