November 8, 2016

Fanfest 2017, here I come

After listening to the latest Declarations of War which was pretty much entirely about Eve Vegas, I remember that if I'm going to do Fanfest I ought to go ahead and get tickets.  Yes, the Early Bird tickets are already gone, having gone on sale on October 28th.  So after some consultantion with the wife I got the "Not so Early Bird" price on the tickets.

Whew, so now that's done, what next?

Eve Events

Charity Dinner - I figured I could put off buying these a bit longer while I figure things out.  It sounds pretty good, though I know I've heard mixed commentary in the past about the "dinner" part of it being pretty cheap and the implied access to CCP Devs and such being scanty.  Honestly, I'm generally of the mindset that if you want to give money to a charity, just do it directly with cash, so this would be about the event more than the charity.

Pub Crawl - I don't know if my liver is ready for this.  Seriously, I'm not a huge drink and mob scene kind of person, so I'd probably pass on this one anyway.  It does seem to be quite the scene for the Eve players running rampant through Iceland.

Sisters of Eve Tour - Now seeing Iceland is indeed part of the plan, but the question here is if I want to do it under the context of Eve or just on my own before or after Fanfest.  I'd be interested to hear anyone's opinions of the Tour indeed.


I probably ought to get in on this quick too.  I have a coworker who is a big fan of visiting Iceland, so I'll get her opinion on options in general.  I'm hoping a bit that if I get a place for a longer period spanning Fanfest it might not be quite so crazy.

AirBnB type settings sound best for the group reservations rather than the solo traveller.  I should note that I'm sure I'm going to be completely socialled-out, so I don't intend to try to work out a group-lodging situation.

Beyond Eve

A good part of the appeal here is seeing Iceland, which I've heard so many cool things about.  The real question is how much time to spend on one side of Fanfest or the other to do that.  After Fanfest will I be too burned out (or too excited) to enjoy seeing things?  Before Fanfest seems like a better idea - then it's a matter of how much time to set aside.

If nothing else, it will be an adventure...

November 6, 2016

My Citadel Assets are Safe - from everyone including me

So I noticed something in my Personal Assets section:

Hmm, I wonder what that is?  Let's Google, as that's generally the best way to learn something about Eve.  Here we go, an article on Asset Safety.

Ah, Okay, I remember that yeah - I bet I had something at a Citadel.  So the article says to look at my Personal Assets under Safety:

I guess that's not it.  Let's fly there. Yes, this is nicely marked as coming from an ill-fated Citadel that was even renamed to pin the blame on their competitors.  I had put up some sell orders there as a test to see if it actually worked out.  I guess not so much.
Okay, so all I need to do now is recover the assets and pay the 15% fee.  Great - right click on the shrink warp - nothing.  Right click on the items inside the inventory sub-window, nothing.  Double-click on them?  Nope.  Check the various sub-menus under Inventory?  Nope.

Well, not "nothing" I suppose - I can choose to buy more items like these or sort them or stack them, but nothing points to actually being able to retrieve them.  So they are safe.  Very safe.  Nobody will ever get these items.  Not even me, I guess.

Edit: Lightning fast response on the support ticket.  The answer is that you need to click-drag the Asset Safety Wrap into your inventory and then you'll be given the option to pay the fee.  Thanks to GM Molo for the overnight response time!

October 28, 2016

What keeps me engaged with Eve?

This blog being pretty quiet lately is not entirely a reflection of my Eve playing, but it's not a bad proxy either.  I have been able to stay in touch with all that's going on in Eve, and wow it's a lot.  I won't try to recap any of the major things as there are already lots of good articles on them by my fellow staffers at CZ and in the more prolific blogs of the Eveosphere.  It does help me look at rebooting Eve, both for my own personal side as well as Eve in general.

Eve Media / Meta

If it wasn't for the Eve meta, I think it's a lot more likely that I would have drifted away from the game in a more permanent way.  That includes CCP run events like the Alliance Tournament, which had me tuning in to watch the matches as well as inspiring me to log in.  Sure, the AT is very different from what you actually see on Tranquility, and whether or not TQ should shift to bring more of that structured PVP feel in is a huge topic if of itself.  In listening to podcasts and reading blogs about what it's like to be in the AT I notice that people mention having to adjust to being back on TQ.  With Thunderdome now in existence, I almost wonder if some of them might prefer to not come back, but keep playing the structured game long term.

The player-run meta (and media) also helps to keep me engaged with the game and paying my subscription.  Threads on reddit can be news-breaking, but it's the longer and more thoughtful articles in blogs and Eve media sites that I spent a lot more time with.  That is an interesting thought because we're potentially seeing some shifts there with the loss of gambling-driven funding for Eve media sites, and I hear rumor that CCP is considering changing the current Fansite policy.  (For those who aren't aware, CCP offers gametime or PLEX to those on the approved Fansite list.) Harmonizing those two areas seems to make sense: an Eve media site is essentially a multi-author blog site, but currently both receive the same benefit.  Would it make sense for CCP to offer the rewards based on content authorship instead?  I'm sure there is much to be said there.  I think most folks agree that CCP gets a lot of value in terms of player engagement and retention through player content creation, the question is just how to incentivize that.

New Opportunities

I've been in Factional Warfare for a little more than two years now.  Some players have spent a lot longer, or even lengthy entire careers here.  For me, that's not quite half my time in Eve, and the balance is split between a newbie period and highsec and being a general low sec ne'er do well.  Right now in Gal/Cal we're back in a place were the Caldari are pretty stomped and content is more about our corp/alliance versus "pirate" lowsec or slumming nullsec'rs.  That's not particularly inspiring to the whole concept of FW, though it has meant fights that can range from T3Ds to AHACs to Battleships lately.

There's a lot more in Eve I could try out, though.  Wormholes don't sound like they're in a great place right now in terms of player corp balance, and they don't seem to fit with a more limited playtime scenario.  On the other hand I hear positive things from people in nullsec - perhaps the best state that nullsec has been in for years and years.

Old Secondary Activities

I've dabbled in industry, trade, and most recently PI - none of which terribly lucratively.  I wrote an article on PVE for Crossing Zebras, and I've been quite happy with the positive feedback I've gotten on it.  I won't repeat that here, but I'll add that I'm sometimes torn between the feeling that logging in to flip indy or PI jobs keeps me with the game, or the feeling that it's keeping me from doing more exciting things that would fire me up more.  Sure, if I only have 15 minutes before I have to make supper for the kids then that's not going to be a solo PVP roam, but it's also possible to sit down at the computer and realize that 60 minutes later I haven't really done much in Eve but push some things around.  The need for ISK is certainly tied into this and I continue to think that the desire to fly (and thus afford) a capital ship may not be beneficial to my overall Eve experience.

New Players

The coming change that I'm most interested in is to find out what Alpha Clones really mean for the game.  I've heard wildly varying expectations of what it will mean on launch day or three months from launch day.  I'm a bit worried that a lot of the value for us Omegas is that there will be lots of new players wandering into lowsec.  That might provide killmails, but maybe not so much good fights or retained players.  There's no real way to know and I'm sure that lots of people in Iceland and beyond will be sitting on the edge of their metaphorical chairs to find out.

My killboard stats may not show the number of times I've flown logi in fleet fights (not my favorite thing to do, but I am seeing more and more why people really enjoy it), and killboards are a limited way to measure activity, but I think I'll only really feel like I'm engaged with Eve again when I get back up to at least 50 kills a month.  Maybe less if I get back to doing more solo, of course.  Many of the blogs that I really am impressed by talk about having goals, and I need to set myself some new ones.  I just need to find the right spark to do so with...

September 22, 2016

Fire up that Booster

The new boosting changes are coming, the mechanics of which have been well discussed elsewhere.  I have a booster alt who has been pretty limited use and which I won't really be doing anything with under the new booster mechanics.  The question of what to do with him has more options now that it did before, thanks to skill extractor/injector.  Let's take a look at what he can do and then consider my options.

Consider Phlebas

No, that's not his name, though someone has already been there.  So what does this booster alt do?  Well, he's a bit more trained than boosting.  He has 28.6M+ skill point from me wanting him to fulfill the roles of Proteus booster (training Amarr now), backup ratter (drone skills up to T2 Sentry), and PI alt.
That Spaceship Command includes Command Ships 5, Gallente Battlecruiser 5, as well as middling Proteus flying skills.

Sell him on the Market

Once upon a time this would have been the only option.  See if someone else wants this combination of skills.  Generally I understand that focused alts sell better, and this one is split kinda three ways.  Looking at the Character Bazaar it looks like he'd go for maybe ~18B ISK at best, but the establish lowball buyers pricing at below extraction value (more like 14B).  I'm not sure how much little things like the implants in his head factor into the bazaar.  There are enough variables involved that I probably won't know until I try to sell him.  On the plus side, the fact that he has reasonable core and drone skills may make him much more useful for anyone who does want an active booster fleet alt.  There's also the 2 plex transfer fee, so that means my best case value after fees is maybe 16B.

Brain Melting for fun and profit

The alt has 28.6M skill points, which means we can extract 23.5M SP or 47 injectors.  Looking at Jita prices (a few days before this post will make it out) the delta between an (empty) extractor and a (full) injector is approximately 335M ISK.  That makes it 15.8B worth.  Not surprisingly, this is pretty much the same as the post-fee Bazaar value above.

A nice touch here is that I don't have to lose the full utility of the alt.  Just extracting the Leadership skills would be around 5B (like Kirith did, always a good act to follow).  Leadership plus Command Ship 5 and the Battlecruiser skills is perhaps 8B.  I could choose what to keep and what to take out, and then take out more later.  Since Cybernetics 5 is required for the Mindlink, he's positioned to be a SP farm alt, though I hear the profitability has crashed there (perhaps due to booster alts across New Eden being melted down?).

Outside of the ISK value, I can take those injectors over to another alt.  That'd likely be my indy alt, since my main (Jakob) is well into the top range of reduced returns.

September 5, 2016

Eve Podcast Roundup, Summer 2016

It was a quiet month for me in Eve, but not because of No Man's Sky which lost out for time disappointingly quickly.  It certainly hasn't been quiet recently in the Eve meta, with lots of big announcements coming from CCP in the form of the Booster changes and Alpha Clones.  I haven't really been away from the Eve meta, both as a contributor (CZM on Alpha Clones, CZ article on PVE), and as a consumer - primarily of podcasts.  I figured it was time for another roundup of the podcasting world, as we've had a number new ones begin and old ones fade away.  Full disclosure: as noted above I'm on the Crossing Zebras staff.  It turns out that CZ has become the home for many of the active podcasts out there, though I've found my way to some others as well.

Talking In Stations - Recommended

Since this is led by Matterall, the first thing to get out there is that this isn't a Imperium-centric podcast, and apparently the recorded podcast isn't even being hosted by TMC, though you can watch the live feed on TMC's twitch.  I hesitate to call this a talk-show format, as Matterall keeps the agenda moving pretty well with a few exceptions when he is personally wrapped up in the topic.  The first couple times I listened there was a lot of post-World War Bee discussion that verged on whining, but there's a lot more beyond that.  It's a sign of a good Eve-meta podcast when you get a good range of guests on the show, and Talking in Stations brings in people such as Ashterothi, Jin'taan, and Tiberius Stargazer regularly.  I see the next one I haven't listened to has Elise Randolph as well - I think he's been a guest on every podcast I've listened to in the past two weeks.  Elise, are you running for CSM or something?

The JEFFRAIDER Show - Mixed Recommendation

I've come to think that the ideal cast size for a podcast is three or four.  At that point the audience can identify the speaker by voice, the guests don't talk over each other as much, and it's less likely to devolve into shouts and insults.  This is why I never got into Podside and other podcasts of their ilk.  When the Jeffraider (sorry, JEFFRAIDER!) show is good then there's a smaller group, they dig into something, and you hear a good of very experienced players (yes, primarily PL) talk about how they'll be using a new mechanic or situation.  When the show isn't so great you have something like episode 30, where you start with six-seven people, then two drop and two more join and you can't keep track of the voices and it turns into a bit of a bro-fest.  In the midst of all that there's still that good, experienced player talk but you have to get through a lot to get there.  You can see that in the summaries too, such as episode 29 which is summarized as "We talked about: literally fuckin' everything."  Thanks, that's a great summary.  So if the talk show format is your thing, then this is a pretty good example.  It's staying on my subscription list, but I won't mind if I miss some.

After Hours with Rixx Javix - Recommended

Rixx Javix is one of the great personalities of the Eve meta, best known for his artwork and his Eveoganda blog.  His After Hours will Rixx Javix is a new podcast that is also hosted on CZ.  This is not a eve-meta talk show, nor a focused mechanics breakdown, or any of the other things you're used to in an Eve podcast.  This is a straight translation of the late night one-on-one interview format, complete with a lounge music intro and Rixx's perfectly matched voice.  Interviews are primarily with the personalities and "creatives" as he likes to term them.  If other podcasts tend to be shouty, energetic and hyped then this podcast is all about chilling out.  So, in the words of Rixx himself: "Grab a cold drink, light a cigar, and let's talk."

On Grid - Recommended

With Hydrostatic Podcast apparently faded away, Ashterothi has moved on to make a new podcast called On Grid with Elise Randolph and Mike Azariah that has a more focused approach to the topic, though not a tight as Hydrostatic was.  Ash's intro piece sounds a bit bombastic, but ignore that and get into it and you've got three very knowledgeable people from different parts of Eve that can give you a really insightful take on current events.  Two episodes in they've covered the two big recent breaking stories (alpha clones, fleet boosts) so the real challenge will be reaching for longevity and consistently hitting topics this interesting even if there isn't a new devblog out.  Definitely add it to your podcast device of choice.

Declarations of War - Strongly Recommended

Now hosted by CZ also, Declarations of War still maintains it's own website.  I miss that DoW is no longer the voice of the mercenary in Eve now that Alek is no longer running Noir, but this is still one of the strongest and longest-running podcasts in the Eve meta.  Co-hosts have come and gone (miss you NinjaTurtle and Ali Aras) but the general theme of EVE PvP (primarily nullsec-centric warfare) carries on.  If you are only going to listen to a few podcasts about Eve then Declarations of War needs to be on your list.

NeoCom Podcast - Tentative Recommendation

The NeoCom started out as a bright and energetic podcast with all of the positive energy that befits coming from the Brave Newbies / Hero Coalition side of Eve.  I always will have a great love for podcasts like this, just like the old Fly Reckless podcasts.  There's been a lot of changeover at the NeoCom and perhaps that too parallels the rise and fall of the Brave/HERO cohort in Eve.  Kira and Proto are no longer leading the podcast, but instead two streamers I'm not particularly familiar with: Manic Velocity and Elinari Rhodan.  We'll see if The Tinfoil Factory will reappear as well (one of my favorite spinoffs).  Hopefully the new crew will hit their stride and we'll see this podcast re-emerge.

Down The Pipe - Recommended

You've probably noticed that most podcasts are focused on nullsec, which is why Down the Pipe is important as the only wormhole-focused podcast I know of.  Led by Longinus Spear and his cohost Bronya Boga, this podcast has always been about getting the good fights for Bob's wormholey glory.  The podcast has faded in and out over the years, but it seems to be back up again - though episode 62 was in July, so maybe I'm being overly optimistic.  If Spear can keep this going, and you have any interest in wormhole space, then tune in.  My favorite is probably the closing segment "storytime" where the guests go over a good fight they had since the previous podcast.

Broadcasts from the Ninveah - Recommended

On hiatus now, we'll see if Kirith Kodachi's real life lets him get back into recording this unique podcast.  It is a meta-meta of Eve, since it is driven by Kirith's take on blogs that he has read and is recommending.  Over the past year it has also featured Kirith's two young sons, one of whom was giving Eve a shot.

Other Podcasts:

* Eve Prosper: This is probably the most narrowly focused podcast out there, as it is all about Eve markets.  Lockefox has made a name for himself here, which is I'm sure part of why we haven't seen more Hydrostatic podcast.  If you're a market/industry player you should be listening to this.  Me... not so much.
* High Drag: High Drag has gone quiet for a while (since May).  I'm hoping we'll see it come back.  I'd like to hear more of the small-gang, solo PvP kind of point of view.
* Hydrostatic Podcast: I think with the hosts now split off to On Grid and Eve-Prosper we may not see Hydrostatic come back, though the fact that they've been publishing "Know Your Lore" might indicate that at least Phyridean isn't giving up yet.

August 14, 2016

Reflections on Eve from No Man's Sky

“Are you cheating on No Man’s Sky with Eve?”, asks my wife as she sees glances over to the computer as I jump a gate.  It’s a reasonable question.  My son and I got through the PC launch problems Friday night and took turns putting a decent number of hours in.  No 24/7 marathons here, and my son is equally interested in catching up on episodes of “One Piece” as playing.  No Man’s Sky is definitely the new hotness though.  So why am I logging into Eve?

The answer isn’t quite comfortable for me - it feels as much like obligation as entertainment.  I have market orders that need updating, PI that needs to be moved about, and manufacturing jobs that have completed and replaced by new ones.  That’s not exactly the same as “let’s see what’s on that next planet” that No Man’s Sky offers.  The Eve activities have the feeling of obligation because they are means to an end - an end that isn’t here quite yet.  In some of those cases, there are people expecting me to run those manufacturing jobs, so I don’t want to let them down.  The market orders and PI are to make ISK that I can use in the future for ships.  All that sounds like great training for some simulation that means to teach kids about responsibility and planning for the future.  But is it fun?

Yes, it’s an argument that the Eve community has had many times.  Other games come along and Eve players give them a try, but in the trope we all know the players come back to Eve.  There’s a novelty to the new game. To carry my wife’s joking analogy along, it’s the flirting fun of that new relationship that puts the sparkle in the eye.  That novelty wears away and then it’s back to the tried and true, the more deeply engaging, where the longevity sits.  (Note: don’t carry this too far - Eve is far less likely than your spouse to throw you out for straying.)

No Man’s Sky fits this well with its theme of discovery and exploration.  The game teased the audience pre-release with a sense of wonder.  While we have an activity we call “exploration” in Eve, it’s hard to get that sense of wonder.  It’s hard for CCP to generate wonder when their cool new thing is visible on Sisi weeks ahead of launch, if not leaked of the Chaos server before that.  By the time it gets the Tranquility anyone who is clued in knows all the tricks.  Ghost sites?  Sleeper redoubts?  Mapped with optimal strategy from the get-go, which means that CCP has to balance it for perfect player knowledge, so if you intentionally keep yourself ignorant you’re probably going to get nuked.

The community has been talking about procedurally generated PVE sites for years - since I started playing at least.  I’ve opined before about the idea of the “new space” on the other side of player-build jumpgates being procedurally generated, with a new batch of NPCs driven by the latest AI routines.  We’re seeing serious discussion amongst CSMs and even hard-core PVPers that a reboot of Eve PVE is needed.  CCP has seen many possible rival internet spaceship games come and go, so I’m not saying they should be threatened by No Man’s Sky, but there is something to learn from it.

I expect my next log-in of real duration to Eve will be in response to a fleet ping (most recent ones in my corp seem to be for the EU TZ or out-of-school US types.)  When I look back, I hope it won’t be because of a feeling of obligation rather than excitement.

July 30, 2016

Eve hotdropped my vacation

Like many Eve players, I was away for quite a bit this month on vacation.  Unexpectedly though, Eve caught up with me.  I guess you really can't escape the spaceships!

About three years ago I was on vacation with extended family and watching AT videos on my iPad.  My nephew was very interested and had lots of questions, but after my sister asked me a bit about what Eve was like she said "No."  He had enough distractions going on to add Eve, which was almost certainly a good call at the time.

Fast forward to this July out on the Outer Banks and my nephew unfolds his laptop and says "Guess what, I've been playing Eve the past few months."  He had moved pretty quickly into Signal Cartel and was running wormhole sites in a Tengu.  When not in the wormhole, he had been running incursions.  In short, he had immediately moved to two areas of the game that I hadn't actually experienced yet.  It's a testament to how much Eve offers that this little coincidence is probably not all that rare amongst two randomly chosen players.

So we ended up chatting a good bit about Eve during the vacation.  The WiFi where we were staying was a bit shaky the first couple days, which convinced him he didn't actually want to undock and go wormhole diving while there.  Instead he spent downtime playing around with EFT and asking questions as we rotated through the ship browser.  He's a bright kid, so I'm not really surprised that he's taken in so much over a relatively short time.

Now that I'm back home that's increased my interest in wormhole diving for PVE.  I've used wormholes to get to null to try ratting there for the bounties and the sec status, or to cut to other areas of low where a solo Gallente pilot might find a different kind of fight than in the warzone.  Looking around the other day I found a hole to a C13, so remembering Longinus Spear's backpacking blogs I fitted up a Confessor and gave it a try for an hour or so.  That blog was apparently before the nerf pass on the Confessor, but the idea held up well even without bling.  I was pretty surprised at the value pulled in drops and salvage - yeah salvaging, that's something I haven't done in a long time.

Wormhole living isn't suddenly going to pull me away from my home in Gallente FW, but it is a nice sideline.  Profit isn't bad either, and I continue to need more income streams if I'm going to actually be flying capitals down the road.  All the more things that can open up in Eve - sometimes even when you're on vacation.