March 30, 2015

The end of attributes, a good time for alts

As recently posted on Reddit by Bizpit, new characters now have four bonus remaps rather than two.  I checked my new baby alt and indeed he has the four remaps.  If you've recently created a character and managed to just miss the unannounced new policy by a few days then definitely put in a ticket.  One poster reports that he was given the additional two remaps when he asked.  As always with support tickets, be polite and you're more likely to get what you want.

Does this mean the end of attributes, with a policy coming where we'll always train at the same value as an optimal remap?  Perhaps.  But if you're starting up an alt this should make it extra juicy.

Map Int/Mem
Learn Cybernetics to IV
Plug in +4 Implants for Int and Mem
Run through all of the Core Skills you need for your alt's focus

Map Per/Will
Plug in +4 Implants for Per and Will
Run through all of the ship/weapon skills you need

and continue depending on what kind of alt you're making.

I'm thinking of posting skill plans for each of the alt types I'm considering and will include the four-remap pattern as part of that.  I'm seeing a number of skill plans out there, some of which need updating to take advantage of new opportunities.

So far I'm thinking:
* Baby Booster (with potential to grow to full Link Alt)
* Cyno Alt
* Industrial Alt
* Market Trader Alt
* Planetary Interaction Alt
* Hauler Alt
* ???

March 28, 2015

Eve Starter Pack or Commissioned Officer Pack for an alt?

This is for players who are considering starting a second account.  If you are new to Eve Online I recommend checking out Eve University and their wiki article Getting Started in Eve Online.  So that out of the way, let's step back.

Yesterday I got the exciting news that this blog has been accepted as an Eve Fansite.  Looking at the list (filtered for blogs) I'm in some very intimidating company.  No pressure, right?

(and yes, I've already asked for the encoding of the apostrophe to be fixed.)

Now Eve Fansite also comes with a nice bonus: a free account subject to some restrictions (no buddy program, no character transfers).  So the next couple blogs will be about spinning up an alt account.

Eve now has a couple different ways you can kick-start your character, notably both with ways to boost your attributes for a short period of time and thus get through those first skills that are so frustrating for new players.  To confuse things, these different ways to get started appear to only be on 3rd party sites (Ex: Amazon, Markee Dragon), not on Eve Online's storefront itself.

Starter Pack

There are several varieties of these to give you a particular frigate (or Venture), a pile of skillbooks, and in the case of the Core Starter pack some BPCs and fancy clothes for your avatar.  To my surprise the Esquire and Executor coats can be sold on the marked for 20M ISK, which is a nice way to start your wallet indeed.  This makes the Core Starter pack definitely superior to the Explorer and Bounty Hunter Starter packs I see on Markee Dragon's web store.

For a new character the real payoff is in skill points, and what these Starter Packs share is the Prototype Cerebral Accelerator which gives you +9 to all attributes for 14 days.  Since you get a bonus to skills of the Primary skill plus half the Secondary skill the bonus is thus 13.5 SP / minute.  Since there are 1440 minutes in a day, that means you're paying US$14.99 for 272160 skill points - plus the 20M worth of resellable clothes to bankroll you (for the Core Starter pack) and a spread of other little goodies.  For an alt character the ISK value is minimal compared to what you probably have on your main, or the 800M ISK you can score from buying one more plex.  The skill points may be tempting, but there's one other kicker.

The Markee Dragon page explicitly mentions that using this Starter Pack makes the account ineligible for the buddy program.  If you're spinning this up from your main account, that's basically 1 month or 800M ISK that you're not getting.  In my case for the fansite free account it would me more a matter of the US$14.99 for getting the account spun up faster.

Commissioned Officer Pack

I only see this on the Markee Dragon site - there is an Amazon listing by the same name but it looks like something different  (and for US$31.89).  This is geared to getting a new player right into shooting things with a Cerebral Accelerator that provides bonuses for 35 days.  This seems clever, since the bonus is longer than the 30 days of game time, enticing the buyer into at least a second month.  It's also a bit more expensive at $19.99.

On the skill point side you get +3 to all attributes, thus giving +4.5 SP / minute but for a longer time, giving you 226800 skill points.  On the combat side you get +20% Damage to Laser, Projectile and Hybrid weaponry, plus a +20% rate of fire to Missile weaponry.  That's a pretty nice little boost - at the end of the 35 days you could have all your Gunnery support skills to IV, and even gotten into T2 guns and tank.  For those last few days you could be a real surprise to someone who thinks they have an easy newbie target.

It is not as clear to me if the Commissioned Officer Pack is eligible for buddy awards.  This thread on the forums ends with someone claiming that they are eligible, but if you're looking to do this with your main you might want to put a ticket in with Support to confirm.  Again, this is complicated by the fact that CCP does not sell these directly.  If they are eligible then this could be a nice option for spinning up an alt - for the US$5 over the price of a month of gametime you get that alt ready to go faster.  If, for instance, you were looking to stick this alt into Faction Warfare the combat bonuses would be pretty nice too.

Speaking of FW alts, next post will be about what kinds of alts are out there.  I'd be very interested to hear what kind of alts people out there use, please do leave any advice in the comments!

Update: So I should have checked out the Eve Support FAQ re: Buddy accounts, which says:

"To be eligible for the rewards, the Buddy account subscription fee cannot be paid using any in-game currency or other game credits, including (but not limited to): or CD Keys, including CD Keys or CD-Key type Starter Packs purchased or received from non-CCP sources and online stores such as, but not limited to: Amazon Starter Packs, Gamers Gate, and Game Stop."

Now what's not clear to me here is if you use real currency after the starter pack expires, does that then make it eligible?  It sounds like it.

March 26, 2015

Capital Weapon Musings

I remember being surprised as a newish player looking a dreadnaught killmail and wondering "why no T2 guns?"  In reading Sugar Kyle's blog notes on the Rebalancing Roundtable I was reminded of this and thought "I wonder what those would look like?"  So with full knowledge that I am stepping into an area I know little about (I've shot at dreadnaughts before, but generally don't see them in FW space and cannot fly one) here goes some lunch-time number crunching.

Lets say you pick up a Moros in Pyfa and load three Capital-sized Ion Siege Blaster Cannon Is on it (yes, Meta 0) and three Fed Navy Magstabs, with All-V skills and standard Antimatter (not faction) you get 1248 dps with 12.5 optimal and 31.3 falloff.  Sounds respectable, right?  That's our baseline.

Now let's go pull the information for Large size blasters. By comparing the Ion Blaster Cannon I with the Neutron Blaster Cannon I we can see how much things ramp up by ratio.  Then we compare the Neutron Blaster Cannon I with the T2 and get that ratio as well.  Let's make the naive assumption and apply those ratios back to the Ion Siege Blaster Cannon I to get what a Neutron Siege Blaster Cannon II would look like.  A Moros with these theoretical T2 neutrons would do 1863 dps with 18.0 optimal and 39.13 falloff.  Again this is with standard antimatter.  Nice kick, huh?

ROFDmg ModDPSModOptimalFalloff
Large Ion Blaster Cannon I72.9531250.42187558
Large Neutron Blaster Cannon I83.6750.525610
Large Neutron Blaster Cannon II84.410.637.210
Capital Ion Seige Cannon10.637.921.1314285712025
Capital Neutron Seige Cannon I12.148579.8561.4082431.25
Capital Neutron Seige Cannon II12.1485711.82721.689628.831.25

You probably already figured out why I used standard antimatter: it makes it easier to do the conversion over to Void and Null.  Moros with Void: 2422 dps at 13.5 optimal and 19.56 falloff.  Moros with Null: 1708 dps at 25.20 optimal and 54.78 falloff.

Moros w/Capital Ion I (Std AM)1248.0012.5031.30
Moros w/Capital Neutron II (Std AM)1863.6818.0039.13
Moros w/Capital Neutron II (Void)2422.7813.5019.56
Moros w/Capital Neutron II (Null)1708.3725.2054.78

You probably expected the next step: an Erebus.  If a Erebus of similar fit puts out 8982 dps with Capital Ion Is, it puts out 17437 dps with Neutron Siege Blaster Cannon IIs loading Void.  With high-end implants and officer magstabs of course this would be more.

Erebus w/Capital Ion I (Std AM)898212.5031.30
Erebus w/Capital Neutron II (Std AM)13413.1218.0039.13
Erebus w/Capital Neutron II (Void)17437.0613.5019.56
Erebus w/Capital Neutron II (Null)12295.3625.2054.78

A 20k dps Erebus?  Revelations firing Scorch?  Avatars firing Aurora from a pocket of grid stretched off for the specific purpose of anti-capital sniping?

Of course this would also mean new skills to be trained (Capital Hybrid Turret Specialization), new blueprints to be researched, new weapons to be built, new ammo to be churned out.

Too bad the Dreadnaughts are the capital that everyone seems to think are already in a good place, so I guess there isn't much drive for CCP to roll these out.

Edit: In comments below I realized I didn't include rigs.  Also, the Specialization skill up to V would add another 10%

March 18, 2015

Is Null becoming more attractive?

From the perspective a low-sec resident I'm hearing mixed signals.  Is Null becoming the kind of place that might be fun to actually try, or is the same old same old?

I won't say it's synchronized with the announcement with FozzieSov, but it seems like I've seen an uptick of "I'm going to try out 0.0" eve-mails and chat-comments lately.  This is mostly from the industrial corp I have an alt in.  Are people anticipating the new Sov, or have conditions improved in general from the last few releases to make it worth taking a stab at?  I would be curious if null-sov corps and alliances were starting to quietly recruit industrial types.

We have NC/BL moving on Fountain - is this the last gasp of the old generation of sov warfare coming into position?  Blow up all your capitals because soon they won't be worth anything for sov contests?  Okay, that's not fair given that you'll still want to hp-grind POSes and such and presumably CCP will be rebalancing capitals before FozzieSov lands... right?

As of this morning we have the news of BRAVE's evac from GE, which I heard from a coworker as I walked in this morning, and of course is all over Reddit and the usual news websites.  This has been interesting to hear about for the classics of null warfare: the formups that then turn into stand-downs because intel shows that the other guys will be bringing a force that can't be even reasonably assaulted.  (And thanks to the way Logistics works in practice, in which a suicidal attack might not even get any kills, but that's another story.)  Apparently PL decided that they'd get more "gudfights" by grinding down the HERO home station - um, yeah.  So now my coworker gets to learn what nullsec evacs are like (including insane failed asset moves).

Here in FW lowsec we certainly could face eviction - we saw a bit of that when the Caldari had to move their assets out of Heyd as we prepared to take it, though it sounds like there wasn't really much there.  It is conceivable that we could take Hasmijala (Caldari major home) or lose Fliet (Aideron Robotics home).  It is even conceivable that someone could bring a massive force that was nearly untouchable - but nowhere near like what we're seeing in PL vs Brave.  That's because of the FW sov mechanics - which are clearly the inspiration for FozzieSov.  But would the new mechanics really would have made the PL/HERO war any more balanced?

There are a lot of players watching how this all develops, and not only those currently in null.  I'm certainly crossing my fingers, and I'll keep my eyes on the Fanfest news...

March 11, 2015

The Four Stages of Eve Grief(ing)

As the meta rocks back and forth with the impacts of Fozziesov, let's step back and contemplate the stages of grief as they apply to new CCP DevBlogs.

Stage One: Denial (and Trolling)

This stage is best demonstrated by the first couple posts to follow a DevBlog.  Classic denial posts often just indicate disgust with the change ("I just threw up in my mouth") which is basically equivalent to saying "First!" without having to actually read the DevBlog, but with less of a chance of an ISD removing your post.  Where denial is explicitly expressed it ranges from "Can't CCP just leave (my part of) the game alone!" and "But that's the way that the game has always worked" to the classic "Do CCP Devs even play this game."  The latter of which of course is all the more hilarious when responding to CCP Fozzie and CCP Rise who probably have played the game for longer than the poster in question.  Never let it be said that the Denial stage was meant to have any logical substance.

Stage Two: Negotiation (and Trolling)

After the first couple pages of the forum thread have been filled with Denialist posts then the Negotiation posts will begin to creep in.  These may suggest that the posters have actually read the full text the DevBlog in question, but the reader certainly shouldn't make that assumption without seeing more evidence.  The Negotiation posts start to offer critique and suggestion on the actual substance of the DevBlog, often by making reference to some other favored slight in balance such as "make the Entosis module only fit onto Battlecruisers and Battleships."  There may also be posts that actually are attacking some different part of the game or the players, thinly disguised as a response to the DevBlog in question.  Negotiation posts may rarely actually start a reasonable conversation between two players about the merits of the DevBlog or suggested change… but not all that often.

Stage Three: Theorycrafting (and Trolling)

By now the forum thread for the DevBlog has gotten past the point than anyone would want to read it from start to end, which means that it is time for actual valuable commentary to start.  Fortunately this commentary often isn't in the forum thread (where it would be lost into the mire, unfound except for truly dedicated CCPers or CSMs) but starts to appear in blogs or "serious" Eve-media websites (TMDC, CZ) and podcasts (CZ, CapStable, High Drag, DoW, etc).  To the degree there was any valuable content in the Negotation stage, the Theorycrafters will shoot it down or expand on it.  For instance, CZ's recent episode comments (paraphrased) "I hope people try Trollceptors with T2 Entosis modules so I can farm 100M killmails in my Orthrus."  This is the point where it's actually valuable to start paying attention to the discussion for any players who looking for more than drama.

Stage Four: Acceptance and Optimization (and Trolling)

At their heart most Eve players (and particularly those in leadership of organizations) are min-maxers ready to adapt to any change.  They will have developed an optimized approach to the change in the DevBlog, often before it even hits Tranquility thanks to the SiSi server.  ESSes will be placed safely in fully trigger anoms, freighters will be loaded with goods that will deliver a bounty greater than their market price, and fleet comps will have been built with the latest ship or ship rebalance in mind.  Now these optimized plans run headlong into the optimized plans of other players … as well as steamrollering those hapless players who don't follow the meta and didn't even read the patch notes.  As CCP sees the emergent gameplay that follows and inevitably is not what they expected, they begin work on the next DevBlog.

And thus the cycle begins anew.  As in Iceland, so in Tranquility.  Amen.

March 9, 2015

How to lose three pods in an hour

A theme I've tried to keep with my own experiences is to turn them into Lessons Learned.  I hope this can be valuable for others, so follow along with your hapless host and keep count:

One!  One Pod!  Ha Ha Ha!

Getting the kids to bed and dinner with the wife runs late, so I miss a corp meeting and I'm hopeful I can get into the planned Svipul roam.  I log in to Eve and comms and hear there is a fight going on and not too far away either.  I don't have a Svipul but I hear reference to Enyos in fleet so I jump into one, undock and ... the eve client stops responding.  Oh crap.  I've seen this before, particularly when the computer has been on for a long time, perhaps a swap-space fragmentation type problem, and yes the computer has been on since 7am or so with everyone in the family playing their own games and such.  Sigh.  It's clearly not coming back so I hard reboot the computer.

We have a couple local pirate groups who sometimes will hang out on our home undock and I see that they were indeed there tonight when I get logged back in.  Minus one Enyo and one pod.  Sigh, I was looking forward to more hull-tank frigate fun with a little boost from that pod.

Two! Two Pods! Ha Ha Ha!

Okay, since the computer is rebooted then that shouldn't happen again.  Quick put back in the implants to match what I'm training, throw in some quick hardwirings.  I'm back on comms and I hear the FC mention Algoses.  Okay, I don't have anymore Enyos fit but I do have a couple Algos.  undock, insta-undock warp, align and I'm off!

It sounds like the fight with our Svipuls went our way and the fleet is looking for the next target.  I land on the Pyne side of the gate and I see there are a lot of war targets in system.  I grab local and paste it into AD for fleet intel - and my overview fills with orange flashy.  Well, I guess I found that fleet.  My gate cloak is going to expire any moment, so I need to get aligning out....

But an Algos isn't super agile, is it?  Hello there Stilletto, I guess I'm stuck.  Right, align align so as soon as the Algos dies... I get instantly grabbed again and podded.  Sigh.  I relay the fleet composition to the fleet as best I can recall it, and the FC asks for my lossmail - yup that's a pretty good summary of their fleet.

Sidenote: about now someone on comms starts asking about what I lost, and from the tone of his voice I'm guessing he's about to offer me replacements and I assure him I'm fine.  I'm in that not-poor/not-rich space where I don't need a hand like that from a corpmate, but it is nice that it's the kind of corp where that is available to those who need it.

Okay, I don't have another Ocular and Neural Standard implant pair and I don't like to be down anything on training time.  However, I do have a clone I had moved up to Nennamalia and I can probably get a ship quick there since that's a GalMil hub kinda of system.

Three! Three Pods! Ha Ha Ha!

Cheap Atron bought I undock in Nennamalia and head for the fleet.  I catch up just in time to dive into a plex alongside them and chase after a Griffin.  He jams me but he also burns away from the fight at top speed, so I hopefully took him out of the equation.  Of course it also means no kills, but fights often can't be measured that way.

No new fleets come to challenge us and people are starting to fade, so I turn to return this clone back to Nennamalia.  There's a gang on the Nenna side of the gate, but the swift Atron pops right through that.  Hey wait!  Why did I just see a Einherji on my overview?  D-scan... Nyx?  Okay, I bet people will want to know about that, but I need more info to make sure it wasn't just a POS in the angle of my scan.  We have a perch bookmark, so I'll just pop to that.

No Nyx on the scene any more, but there is a Stilleto... oh crap that's fast.  Align align!  Crap, I'm long pointed so burn that MWD.  Nope, now scrammed too.  Okay, align to station go go go.  The Atron pops, spam warp, nope.  Goodbye pod.  Hey look, I've been Skynetted if indeed that can be verbed - I have two supercarriers in on my capsule kill.  So the interceptors (Crow, Stilleto) and EAFs (Hyena x2) are probably maxed for instalock and the fighters carry the dps.  I see why that's been nerfed into oblivion now, very intimately I do.

I wake up back home in Fliet.  Fortunately a corpmate has a spare pair of +4s for Per/Will so I buy those from him and plug them in and call it a night.  So let's reflect on this.

Lessons Learned

Pod 1: Know your Machine.  I probably should just make a point of rebooting Windows when it's been on all day before playing Eve.  It looks like a common enough pattern.  If you know a pattern like that then you either fix it or bypass it.

Pod 2: Never sit on Gate.  I got caught up in providing fleet intel.  I would have been able to provide even better intel if I hadn't died.  Even just jumping to a perch on the gate would have been better than sitting there waiting for my gate cloak to expire.  I might have been able to get us another fight against our FW enemies (and had a lot more fun myself)

Pod 3: Atrons are fast, Inties are faster.  The 150km gate bookmark was only seconds away from the Stilleto and its point, which I can only assume was linked, implanted etc.  I should have been aligning out the moment I landed and warped as soon as I saw that Stilleto.  I was too caught up looking for the super (which of course was actually at a POS somewhere, doubtless)

Overall: FRAPS everything.  I've been pretty good lately about loading FRAPS up to record fights, though after recording a bunch of non-fights (target flees the plex) I then sometimes forget to record the real fight.  This time I didn't load FRAPS after rebooting.  Recording any of these times could have provided immediate reflection for intel and might have shown other things too - for instance, I wonder just how close it was with Pod 3 - did I miss something in not getting away immediately?

Anything else you'd suggest, dear readers?

March 8, 2015

Cruisers Online

So CCP Rise presented this graph is his recent dev blog as justification that battlecruiser and battleship hulls did not need a rebalance.  This kicked off a storm about how Eve was Cruisers Online - but the question perhaps should be what we'd actually expect to see.

(Sidenote: I sometimes find myself slipping into using the BB abbreviation for Battleship thanks to all of the historical reading and minature wargaming I did as a kid.  I'm guessing you can spot those Americans with either real military experience or military history backgrounds by slips like that.)

To some degree I wasn't surprised.  I've heard cruisers described as the workhorses of fleets in contexts ranging from military history to science fiction such as Star Trek.  In Eve they are a relatively easily attainable ship in terms of skill points and have a wide range of capabilities.  If anything I'd expect to see something more like a pyramid of usage by class with the T1 frigates swarming around at the base of the pyramid and moving up to the rarified world of capital ships and titans at the apex.  But that's just one off the cuff thought.

I wondered what the distribution of ships actually has looked like in real-world circumstances.  Here's the composition of a current US Pacific fleet, and here's the composition of the forces arrayed at Pearl Harbor and Midway.  It's a lot more flat than I expected with the only hull with particularly large numbers being destroyers.  But we also understandably should be shy of comparing Eve to historical surface fleets.

So as much as people were upset about CCP Rise's graph as an expression of ship hull balance, what would we expect to see?  CCP Rise said:  "One good result here is that we see much higher damage per attacker the larger the classes get, generally, i.e. fewer battleships in space, but, when they are used they are potent."  So would our ideal chart show frigates, cruisers, battlecruisers, battleships, and dreadnaughts all as the same length bars (perhaps even ideally spit evenly by weapon system?).  Unless we define what we expect to see as a current state, and what we want to see as a future state, then these graphs don't really serve to validate much.

There was a pretty strong contrast to the recent Sov blog from CCP Fozzie, where he made a much more detailed presentation of data and what CCP saw in that data (absent axes on the graphs, as usual).  While there's been some disagreement that the charts show as rosy a picture as CCP says (check out the discussion in Crossing Zebra #55 with Endie and Mannie) there's at least more to talk about.

So bring on the graph porn CCP, but make it meaty enough for it to lead to more than just tear-and-angst.

March 3, 2015

Null Sov Storm

The long-awaited nullsov dev blog and the attendant meta-storm have arrived.

As someone who hasn't lived in nullsec, it looks interesting.  It seems to be very much set up so that a small group could grab a system somewhere that is not valued highly and try to hold onto it.  In reality it looks like holding onto a constellation is more the minimum size though.

The real entertainment value is the comments thread where it appears that most people skimmed the dev-blog and then rushed to be the first to post their hatred of it... without actually reading or thinking or any of that stuff that might slow them down.

The question is how many days (or pages of the thread) is required before a substantial number of the posters have really given some thought to it.  Yes, there will continue to be trolling posters who will continue to bring up misconstrued ideas (ex: "one interceptor/recon/covops with an Entosis Link will be able to reinforce a constellation single handed every night.") just to see everyone else sputter.

I do agree that if the design intent was to split alliances by timezone then they might have wanted to say that up front.

This will be interesting to watch.  On a related note, GalMil took Heydelies last night in a rather short IHub bash after a week or so of fighting plexes back and forth...