September 25, 2014

Changing Corps (Hello Faction Warfare)

I have now officially moved to Aideron Robotics and am part of the Gallente militia in Faction Warfare.  I started attending the open fleets and quickly found I was involved in more fights (and more kills) in one fleet a week with Aideron than I was in the rest of the week in Rifterlings.  Now to be fair, I wasn't putting in a lot of time during the week, but still.  Nonetheless, I also would recommend Rifterlings heartily to some pilots.  So I'll review quickly how they're different and why I'm shifting corps.


I would recommend Rifterlings for someone who wants to get into solo and ad-hoc micro-gangs.  The term "small fleet" is one that has a wide range of interpretations, so I'll try to be precise.  Rifterling fleets are generally along the lines of "I'm roaming come join me."  The fleet comp for the fleet might be described on comms as something like "Make sure you can fit into a small plex, we're going to have a Navitas so armor would be better, and try for MWD, but whatever you want is fine."  There is a friendly, casual nature to the fleet comms.  Rifterlings are generally happy to explain the difference between a scram and a long point, why you should warp to a plex at 10km, et cetera but may be a slightly different set of descriptions depending on the person.  Most Rifterlings fleets top out at something like 8 or 9 pilots, though I've been ones large enough that the lead pilots had to figure out wings and such (that I know nothing about).  This means that direction from the FC is primarily about getting the fight, and then it's more a matter of calling primary and having everyone do their own thing.  Point Blank Alliance (which Rifterlings is the lead of) has in the past run themed fleets including the "Fuck Your Killboard" roam that led to my most expensive loss and my only combat against a dreadnaught, but those are rare - and one hasn't happened in months.  Even in that big shiny roam the FC direction was mostly just primary calling.  The most skilled Rifterlings are soloists, such as our famous CEO Fintarue.

Outside of the PVP there are plenty of Rifterlings making their ISK, and you can participate in a WH op or get into a discussion about the market and industry if you stumble onto the right conversation.  This is of course in humorous contrast to the "PVE is forbidden in Sirekur" tag line which is currently displayed on a Mobile Depot outside of station.  There is also plenty of chat on comms available for people on games other than Eve, though they generally keep it out of the main fleet comms.

Rifterlings are good people.  I'm an easy going guy so it isn't that much to say that nobody pissed me off, but really they are a bunch of nice guys.  I happily contracted a HAC over to a corp-mate the day before I left at a discount rate, and I know they'd have done the same for me.  I'm sure they'll also have no compunctions about shooting me in the face if we see each other on grid, and I'm confident we'll joke about it afterwards too.

Aideron Robotics

Aideron Robotics is part of Gallente Faction Warfare.  I won't try to take time here to explain what that means, though I expect I'll be posting about the FW experience in the future.  I'll also disclaimer that my impression so far are from a handful of fleets and the general new recruit training info.  Aideron's motto is "making a better pilot" and like Rifterlings they take on the newest of the new.  However, the approach is much more structured: train Gallente and train for specific fleet doctrine ships.  While Aideron pilots may solo to plex and hunt, the focus of the corporation is fleet action.  The open fleets I was in quickly went into the 12-20 ship range.  The composition of those fleets is defined in theory and at least strongly considered in practice, with concessions to reality such as a cruiser-fleet will have some newer pilots in a meta-fit Atron as tackle.  The direction I've seen from FCs so far includes considerably more direction both in terms of reminders for those new to the game or the doctrine ("Make sure your DC and TC are on") as well as more maneuver ("Align to X, prop mods on, keep on the primary, now switch back to Approach on Y, new primary is Y" as an opportune enemy has pulled out of position).

There is a risk that the fleet action of Aideron will start to feel more like the F1-button-pushing that I am distinctly not interested in from nullsec battles.  However, I think that the smaller scale of things will help there, as well as the opportunity for me to move into a variety of non-dps-centric roles (tackle, ewar, scout, logi).  I'm fortunate that as a slightly older character I have the skill ranks to do many of these things, even if I do not yet have the personal skill.  I'm a lot more likely to learn how to fly an effective fleet-support Celestis in Aideron than I was ever going to in Rifterlings.  I do expect that I'm not as likely to fly the shiny T2 hulls I recently trained into, but I found I wasn't finding a good opportunity for than in Rifterlings (outside of PVE) either.

Aideron is also definitely not as casual as Rifterlings.  I have once heard a Rifterlings comm discussion about how a fight went bad and what so-and-so should have done instead, but mostly it is "gf in local, reship and we'll meet back in Sirekur, watch out for camps."  Aideron comms is definitely going be more disciplined, which also means having tougher conversations about why a fight went the way it did so that everyone can do better next time.  I think that at the end of the day people like Marcel and Asherothi think of it as a game and something for fun and aren't going to go overboard, but that just like any game you have to be some level of serious to improve.

Faction Warfare also means two things that I'm looking forward to.  The first is an objective beyond "find a fight tonight" in the form of warzone control.  I can really see myself getting into that, though I know that I'm not exactly likely to have any big input into the corp or militia strategy for a long time.  The second is the opportunity to make LP (and thus ISK) either while in fleet action (through the LP for killing enemy militia) or when there isn't a fleet (or I don't have time/brain) in the form of plexing.  I'd like to reassure my old Rifterlings friends as well as my new Aideron corpmates that I will never by flying a stabbed up farming fit - if you come into a plex I'm in then I may run away if I don't like the odds of your three AFs against my Incursus, but you're more likely to just find me overheating everything.

Sidenote: Standings and Sec Status

I have said before that what turned me away from my previous brief stint in FW was the standings loss with the opposition.  Since then I've paid the PLEX to develop an alt for industry, so I expect to just deal with any awkwardness on the resupply side there.  We'll see how that goes.  I've also generally been convinced that faction standing is just another resource you can burn down and rebuilt.  I'd hate to have to, but I could probably find a way to get the standing back if needed, though not as easily as sec status.

Speaking of sec status, in Rifterlings I had been using ratting between fights to keep my sec status around -2.5.  In one night with Aideron I knocked down to -3.1 as we smashed a neutral/pirate fleet.  We'll see how that goes then.  Given that Aideron capsuleers are not to go into high sec I won't see a real impact there until I hit -5.0, which granted might not be too far away.

I think in a future post I'll talk about all the things you need to do when shifting corps, since it can be quite a list each with different things to do: fitted ships, unfitted ships/modules, clones.

September 18, 2014

Rebellion Pt 2: Let players change New Eden

We know that the goal for CCP is to let players create and destroy more, to the point of even creating stargates.  Why not let the shape the New Eden that we already have?  This post takes the ideas from Rebellion: Live Event Proposal and makes them part of the ongoing world.

Launching from the Live Event

After the Rebellion Live Event both CCP and the players will have had a chance to see what it is like to let the players change the map.  I expect it's a taste of power that players will not want to give up.  It also gives a chance for a lot of the following to be tweaked based on experience.  Players who aren't normally tuned into the Meta will also have more time to get the news before it impacts them personally.

In the following the term "Rebellion Release" indicates the release in which the new functionality needed below is delivered.

Declare your Loyalty, Part 2

In the Rebellion Release an attribute is added to all capsuleers called Loyalty.  This attribute can be equal to one of the empire or pirate faction names, or Neutral.  When this feature is rolled out all capsuleers are defaulted to Neutral unless they are in Faction War, in which case they are set to that faction.  Capsuleers can change this value on their Character Sheet, but they cannot select a faction they have negative standings towards.  If a capsuleer drops below zero standings with the faction they are listed as loyal to, they will be reset to Neutral.  A capsuleer in a militia cannot change their loyalty away from their faction.

If the Live Event is used, then many capsuleers may have their Loyalty already set via those mechanics.

A logical extension of this for a future stage is that Loyalty could also be set to a Coalition, thus allowing these mechanics or something else built on Loyalty to be used in nullsec and the promised new regions of the future.

Rebellion Sites

These are similar to Faction War plexes in that they are a warpable location which spawns in a system.  They have the same sizes and general characteristics as a FW plex, with the following additional aspects:

  • The site has substantially more difficult defenders.  Novice plexes are defended by a pirate Burner NPC, Small with the Burner+Logistics NPC (coming in Oceanus), and so on scaling up.  Ideally I'd like Large sites to resemble Incursion sites, but since I'm not experienced with Incursions I'll leave that for others.
  • Pirate NPCs will attack any capsuleers that isn't declared Loyal to their faction.
  • The site will count down to despawning if the pirate NPC is killed.  A site that despawns by loyalist actions counts as Victory Points for the Empire.  The killer of the NPC will lose standings with that pirate faction.
  • The sites will despawn on a timer (or more roughly but easier to code on downtime).  A site that despawns by timer counts as Victory Points for the Rebel faction.

Killing Pirate NPCs offer substantial immediate ISK and deferred LP rewards.  Small and Novice plexes would be in line win, but greater than, completing the equivalent level 4 burner mission.  Medium and Large should be scaled so that they offer even greater rewards even after divided by the expected number of fleet members needed.  This is because of the risk of having an enemy loyalist join in (or ganker, given the lack of protection).
Killing capsuleers in a Rebellion site will result in an deferred LP reward similar to FW payouts for opposing militia.

Rebellion Missions

The simple version of this would be that any mission run within a Rebellion System counts towards Empire control.  The more complicated form would be that there would be more specific missions of the opposing-player variety that have been often talked about in discussions on how to improve PVE and make it more like PVP.

This allows non-PVP oriented players to contribute towards keeping their home systems under Empire control.

A Living New Eden

When the each new release is rolled out after the Rebellion Release, the map of New Eden will change.  For systems in Rebellion Constellations where the Rebellion prevailed, the security status will drop by 0.1.  All Loyalists who earned deferred LP in that system will be paid out.  For systems where the Empire prevailed, the security status will increase by 0.1. All Loyalists who earned deferred LP in that system will be paid out.  Based on the new standings, a new set of four constellations are chosen for Rebellion.
In systems which have been won by the Pirates and are now low-sec, one or more stations switch ownership to a pirate corporation. Pirate agents and pirate missions would be set up there (see the Infiltration Agents in the previous post) as well as pirate LP stores.

Extensions: An End of Empire?

In an extreme possibility, if after multiple iterations a 0.1 system is won by the Rebels, it becomes a -0.1 NPC null sec system. Yes, this means that if the nullsec Coalitions really wanted they could grind all of empire down to NPC nullsec, though it might take years. That would logically start to drive a response which would require further mechanics. To briefly sketch, it would make sense then for a empire faction to be able to "declare war" (in some way) on the Coalition faction, which would cause the Faction Police NPCs and such to attack war targets in their space and such.

This also goes back to an idea I've posted on before (Eve Needs More Sandbox) where players would be allowed to lead from the empire side. As long as nullsec has player-run Coalitions and empire is just a fractured set of players then there will always be a power disparity.

September 15, 2014

Rebellion: Live Event Proposal

After the tears about the Revenant event I’ve been thinking about what would make for a better Live Event.  My proposal can stop at merely being a single live event, or could provide a series of events that move to additional functionality - and can be a test for some of the concepts discussed under the broad “fix nullsec” banner.

This the first post, aiming for a set of live events which engages the player base and changes New Eden.  In a later post I'll talk about where this could go beyond just the live event.

First we should ask ourselves what goals would we have for a live event:
  • Geographically distributed to reduce the TiDi nightmare
  • Distributed across time-zones to engage players around the world
  • Cannot require heavy load on CCP resources
  • Should be accessible to a range of players (new and old, pvp and pve)
  • Should fit within the grand arc story for the Eve universe
  • Should have meaning and impact to the Eve universe

Overall Theme: Rebellion

The theme of the Empires losing control has been a consistent one over the past few years.  Incursions represent the early Sansha moves in this direction.  All these things point to a change in the power distribution across New Eden.  Now it is time for the inhabitants of New Eden to declare their Loyalty and shape the New Eden that will come.

Build Up

Ahead of the Rebellion CCP builds up the story of increased pirate activity in eight constellations - four pairs of high-sec/low-sec constellations on the border of each empire.  These rebellions are led by the four predominant pirate factions.  Players are warned that CONCORD is reaching the point that it can no longer guarantee their safety in these constellations.  The Empires and Pirates put out a call for loyalists to gather in each of the four constellations, though a set of existing and new personas to give the lore-aware players something fun to latch onto.

Possible lore twist: Angry CONCORD Guy announces that the four empires have been reducing their financial support due to the continued cost of their proxy wars with each other.  As a result CONCORD may have to pull back from "frontier" systems.

This would be advertised to the player base through the kick-off devblog, which would also include the mechanics explanations on the scoring and prizes, as well as through a launcher news placement, social media outreach, and through the CSMs and their various blogs.

Declare your Loyalty
CCP allows all Alliances to declare loyalty to a single faction, either empire or pirate.  All Faction War corporations are automatically considered loyal to their faction.  All NPC corps are loyal to their faction.  The deadline will be set a bit more than two weeks before the new release comes out.  The implementation to this is relatively simple out-of-game - a web page lists alliances and factions, including a search facility to find corps/alliances. Players are warned that once the deadline passes, the loyalty declaration will be unchangeable for the duration of the live event.

Alliance level declaration was chosen to keep the overall number of data point down, as well as to keep Alliances from being split in loyalty.  Accommodating corporations without an Alliance would be a nice addition.

The live event period kicks off two weeks before the new release.  Loyalist alliances are encouraged to declare war on opposing loyalist alliances by a discounted war cost.  While much of the idea is that the players are generating content, there are specific CCP events and enablers during that time period as well.

Assault Forces
NPC characters (played by CCPers) will appear during the Live Event to lead assaults on the Rebellion Constellations.  These will generally appear in multiple constellations simultaneously to encourage players to respond across multiple servers.  Assaults should be scheduled in waves for the various time-zone.  These NPC characters will be flying blinged-out navy/pirate ships to make for desirable drops.  Some CCP leads could live stream on Twitch for increased engagement outside of Eve.  While most assault forces would be fleets with comms and chat channels set up to coordinate large numbers of loyalist forces to them, pilots like CCP Rise might revisit his solo glory days under the persona of an elite pirate or navy commander.  Empire forces may have a NPC Titan ready to bridge a loyalist fleet straight from a major high-sec system straight into the low-sec rebel area.

Loyalist Forces
Player capsuleers are also encouraged to create events, sponsored by CCP.  Generally we would look to the largest alliances to sign up for each faction to take the lead here.   CCP assistance would be in the form of re-broadcast of advertisements as well as logistics support like the NPC Titan mentioned above.  To encourage new players consider giving out T1 hulls with meta fittings for the fleets.  Envision this as something like Mangala Solaris leading a RVB-core fleet representing Caldari high-sec to preserve the Onivura constellation (RVB’s home,

Pirate Agent Infiltration
Agents will appear for the pirate forces on both the high-sec and low-sec sides of the Rebellion Constellations, infiltrating otherwise loyal stations.  These will offer level 1 through level 4 missions on behalf of the pirate faction.  Note that if the rebels are successful there will also be a way to turn that LP into goods.

Keeping Score
The event would have a scoreboard similar to the one used during the introduction of the Gecko drone.  There would be four sections, each of which would show the relative victory conditions of each set of Rebellions.

Player Ship kills
Points for the ISK value of ships destroyed by loyalist forces in the warzone.  Depending on how sophisticated CCP can be with tracking kills, this could be broken out more specifically with the Empire forces getting points only for killing Pirate loyalists but perhaps Pirates get points for any kills in the high-sec region.  This would match the theme of the pirates disrupting high-sec structure.  

Economic activity
Both sides gets points for mining and industrial jobs run by their loyalists.  It’s expected that this will bias for the Empire side, so that will need to be considered in the scoring system.

Missions run
Both sides get points for missions run in the warzone.  The pirate agent infiltration will provide an opportunity for pirate loyalists to even score these points in the relative safety of highsec.  In general this will also be biased towards Empire though.

Live Event Conclusion - Rewards and Consequences

Alliance Rewards
Alliances will be rewarded in appropriate faction hulls commensurate with the amount of damage they inflicted on the opposing faction, to be delivered into stations into the relevant Rebellion Constellation.

Individual Rewards
Individual pilots will be recognized for the ISK damage they inflicted on capsuleers of the opposing faction.  Top pilots in multiple categories would be rewarded with faction hulls (Most kills, most solo kills, most damage done).  Using the reward categories from previous player events would be a good start.  Another set of lesser rewards (faction frigates and modules) would be given to participating random pilots to help let newer pilots still have a chance at winning prizes.  Non-PVP prizes could also be given for the other scoring categories (mining, industry, missions) if CCP has a good way to track that.

Changing the world
When the next release is rolled out, the map of New Eden will change.  For systems in Rebellion Constellations where the Rebellion prevailed, the security status will drop by 0.1.  For systems where the Empire prevailed, the security status will increase by 0.1.  For this version of the proposal, the minimum security status remains 0.1 and the maximum 1.0.

Next time: Take it up a notch.  If we actually had mechanics implemented in the game, where could this take us?

September 9, 2014

Low sec wormhole fights

The frequency of wormholes in lowsec increased (in Kronos I think) and I've been enjoying them.  Last night was a good example of how the additional connectivity of WHs in lowsec have been fun.
Warning: This post is mostly of a breathless-battle-report style, so skill to the bottom if that's not your thing.

The Fights

Things were looking pretty quiet on Rifterlings comms and there weren't any fleets up.  So when I logged in I immediately undocked in my scanner Helios.  Fortunately for me though, someone else had already scanned down the WHs in Sirekur and a quick warp to the corp bookmark verified that they weren't out of date.  We had a WH to null, a WH to low, and a WH to an actually wormhole system (C3 I think it was).

I docked back up and hopped into an Ares to take a look at the null WH, just in case there were bubbles out there.  I asked on comms and heard that it went to CFC space, and the nullers had tried to come through and gank people unsuccessfully earlier.  That sounded like a great invitation to return the favor to me.  I popped through to MO-FIF and was very sad to find that the two pilots in system appeared to be inactive.  I went to check out the gates and found one bubbled up.  I considered belt-ratting but unlike CFCers I'm not used to fighting Guristas and I didn't really feel like red crosses with ECM.  There wasn't much interest in comms on a null roam, and since I have no experience soloing null I decided to pass.

I jumped back to Sirekur and went straight to the lowsec WH - which took me to Villasen in Black Rise, and thus into the Gallente / Caldari FW space.  Even better, there were Caldari FW pilots running plexes!  I bookmarked the hole and headed straight for the Small Outpost and the Kestrel inside.

Now there's a couple warning signs here.  I'm in an Ares more suited for tackling for a gang, chosen originally for its align and bubble immunity.  I also only recently skilled up Interceptors and have no experience really soloing in them yet.  But hey, how do you start anyway? Well...

I locked up the Kestrel and to my joy he returned the favor.  I'm so used to AB-ships in plexes that I didn't really process this properly as he scrammed and webbed me, and my ship rapidly turned into a puff of Ares-shaped debris.  And that was even before his friend in a Corax had a chance to join in and lock me up.  Umm, yeah.  GF in local and back to the hole, while calling out on comms that I have some Caldari who want fights.

I hop into the first ship I see in my dock, a gimmick Comet fit I stole from the inestimable HippoWhisperer.  Dual-tank with what some refer to as a "DPS point" - i.e. your point is that the target dies too fast to get out once they realize they're in trouble.  I'm back out and heading to the hole and two corpmates are on their way as well.  I'm a bit disappointed at myself - if I'm going to lead this group I really should be able to tackle, but oh well.  Back through the hole...

... just in time to see the Small Outpost disappear.  Well, surely they'll want the Small Compound next, right?  I head straight there and see a Merlin from the same corp.  Downside - the plex is 92.5 AU away from the WH, so once I call in the other two it will take a long time for them to get here.

I hit the gate and call for the backup.  Lock up the Merlin, go to close orbit and pile on the DPS, overheating guns off the bat since I expect trouble.  As the Merlin is dropping the Corax and Kestrel show up on short scan.  Oh damn.  The other Caldari land just in time to establish point before the Merlin pops.  And then their dps, oh my the dps of the Rocket Corax.  Now this little Comet has both a MASB and a SAAR.  Normally I'd let myself get into armor, run the SAAR and then before it reloads start the ASB as a troll-tank kind of move.  Nope, I fire them both up at the same time and overheat them both while I try to get back on the Kestrel.  I needed them both.  My shield and armor were see-sawing back and forth like crazy.  I wish I had FRAPsed it as I've never seen anything like it.  I heard the message loud and clear though, and aligned out.  Meanwhile my corpmates (CaptainZan Zan, Gideon Enderas ) were landing and engaging.

Pop goes my Comet.  I'm cheering them on, hit warp, and ooh, wait.. didn't I just hit warp?  Nope, apparently not.  And poof, podded.  Sigh.  As I wake up in an unexpected station (what, I'm not homed to Sirekur in this clone?) I hear as they finish off the Corax.  If I had been sent back to where I expected I would have jumped into another ship and gone right back in.

WH Connections for fun and profit

These local WHs provide some of my corpmates an opportunity to make ISK (and some fights) in W-space.  They provide a pretty common connection to null that provides roaming/ganking opportunities as well as exploration and ratting that is lower-risk than w-space.  I haven't even seen any of the frigate-sized holes yet, but I know some Rifterlings are excited about that possibility.  Honestly, unless it's going into a Wolf-Rayet I don't think our corp is big enough to field a frigate fleet that can take on the blingy T3 + capitals type fleets of w-space.  However, I could see RVB or a major FW/pirate lowsec group maybe hitting those numbers.

We did have a bit of a surprise since the guys that piled in after me didn't bookmark the WH back to Sirekur as they rushed to help out.  Since I got podded, I couldn't hang out and give them the location.  Fortunately another corpie was quickly able to poke through the WH to give them someone to warp to.  A good lesson for future WH roaming though!

Lessons Learned

* Take time to choose the right ship.  The Ares interceptor was fine for poking my nose into null, but since I knew I didn't have much backup I couldn't do any more than look.  The Ares was the wrong ship for a plex-fight, though fit and flown differently it might have been just fine.

* Take time to choose the right ship.  The Comet was fine for solo 1v1, but I rushed.  I also knew there was a Corax there who would be able to put out an immense amount of damage at short range to frigate sized targets.  A Slicer or Retribution would probably have been a better choice, or maybe even a Catalyst if I wanted to do a DPS race.

* Get the pod out.  I've been good about aligning and getting my pod out for a while.  I think I was too caught up in the fight happening behind me and slipped the mouse or something.  Perhaps also a reminder to use the keyboard more.

* Keep better track of clones.  Apparently since I had clone-jumped around recently, my current home for my clone was two regions away, which took me out of any ability to continue to contribute since I had to put together a ship and fly back to home.  I also realized halfway home I hadn't upgraded out of my Alpha clone, which could have been embarrassingly painful.

Shout out:
... to Proioxis Assault Force of Caldari FW. I'm glad to hear that despite the recent pounding in losing the warzone to the GalMil you guys are still out there and taking fights.
... to my corpies for following me blindly through a wormhole to find a fight.