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.

July 4, 2016

Summer Blahs and New Temptations

A couple bloggers have mentioned Eve things slowing down for them.  I expect that a lot of us are in that boat.  Schedules change as the kids get out of school and are staying up later, vacations kick in (I'll be out for a week in a bit), and other obligations come along (I have in-laws visiting the past week).  This blog was written over three days and four sittings, when normally I kick out a blog in one or two.  all those things can easily cut into Eve time.   It's understandable for us to ask if there is something more.

I read a lot of opinions on people not being thrilled with the Shadow of the Serpent event.  I have barely even logged in since it started, and I haven't tried any of the challenges, so I don't have any first hand opinion.  I wrote a piece for Crossing Zebras about the structure of the rewards before it started, though I'm glad to see now that it's out that it is a bit of a hybrid between the approaches I mentioned.  Getting the right structure is important for motivating players, and I think what they did was actually a good mix.  Unfortunately, the rewards behind the structure are underwhelming for people, particularly when compared to the Thrill of the Hunt SP-fest that was just terminated.  But I can't say that the event's apparent failure to engage the Eve community is part of me not getting undocked more.

It's certainly not the content generated by my corp.  Rapid Withdrawal has been racking up the kills, including getting in on some big fights through blues to local pirates.  One of our FCs and content generators, Nate Atol, is on the Top 10 killer list on zkillboard right now.  Our new alliance, Pen Is Out, is almost certainly going to start showing on the Alliance lists as soon as it has existed long enough for the kills to mount up.  On the other hand, I won't be surprised if starting practice for an Alliance Tournament team means we'll see a sudden drop of kill stats for our top pilots.  So there's plenty of content for me there if could just get free from guests and such when the quite frequent pings go out.

The more immediate threat to my Eve time is Path of Exile, which I played and then put away.  When my son was looking for something to do with his extra free time, I figured maybe he was ready for some modern murder hobo hero action.  Showing him how it worked got me playing again of course - I never had finished the story and now we're both racing through it on my Steam account.  Maybe someday I'll try introducing him to Eve, but I know it may be a one-shot thing - if he gets turned off by the complexity then it may not be something I can try again next year.

My Eve time is probably lucky that No Man's Sky got delayed from June to August.  I expected that would be the big game-time pull.  Well, it still will be I hope, it's just that now it will overlap more with the end of summer vacation and thus another set of schedule changes.  I expect my son and I will dive into it, and since both of us will be playing that will make it all the more appealing for me to spend time on rather than Eve.

Click for link to Tiger Ears wonderful WH resources - wish she still played and blogged

So when I get time again I think I'm going to try throwing myself into something different.  Maybe a concentrated effort on solo pvp, but the downside of the massive content-fest that is our FW zone is that you're up against some tough odds solo.  Another option that I'm finding appealing is fitting up a Stratios and start wandering through wormholes without limiting myself in having to find my way back every play session.  It's not too hard to have a PVP fit that can do some PVE (granted, not the big anoms) or that you can mobile-depot refit to.  The Stratios is better than my cloaky Proteus for not needing ammo (technically) between lasers, neuts and drones.  I'll have to hit up pyfa and try out some options.

Beautiful image by zombietychus via Reddit - click for original

In the end, this is the beauty and the longevity of Eve.  Other games may come and go.  Right now I hear plenty of comments of people playing Overwatch or Stellaris.  Then they're back to Eve again, either in the same kind of game as before or maybe something new.

June 18, 2016

BB76: The Field Marshal upon Yonder Hill

BB76 - Why should Eve persist in an Iron Age model for command, rather than moving up a millennia or so to a more Napoleonic model of command.  Let's give our FCs a steed from which they can command from a distance.

Blog Banter 76 asks:

At fanfest CCP Fozzie proposed a potential new ship class. Let's call it the fleet commander's flagship for now. This is to try and prevent "FC Headshotting" where the opposing fleet knows who the FC is and alpha's them off the field leaving the rest of the fleet in confusion and disarray. Fozzie mentioned a ship with a great tank but no offensive abilities. Is this a good idea? Is FC head-shotting a legitimate tactic? If CCP do go down the route of a "flagship" how might this work? Also is a new ship the answer or is there another way of giving an FC the ability not to be assassinated 12 seconds into the fight without letting players exploit it?

Eve's Mask of Command

Military history fans will have read "The Mask of Command" by John Keegan.  If not you should add that to the stack by your bedside immediately.  This post is not about that book, but from a small bit that I remember from the decades ago that I read it.  He describes the change in the role of command over the centuries, notably from the warband leader ("Heroic Leader") who is first amongst the charging ranks to the field marshal sitting on a horse on a hill with a telescope ("Anti-Heroic Leader"), and eventually to generals in a city far away getting reports from the front lines ("Post-Heroic Leader").

Our Eve FCs are very much in the first class, with the huge disadvantage that Keegan talks about - they can get killed right in that first charge.  In melee the leader's troops can be inspired to follow and surround their leader to protect them.  Keegan talks about Alexander the Great personally scaling the wall of a city he was seiging, forcing his troops to follow him or he would be lost.  But in Eve as we know the only way to protect an individual is to keep reps on them.  That still leaves them vulnerable to alpha - Eve's equivalent of an arrow or bullet right to the face.

This implies there are two ways to protect an FC.  The one talked about most is making an "alpha-proof" tank of a ship with enough buffer/resists for reps to land.  Perhaps an ultra-Absolution kind of ship, or one with a special module similar to the new Capital Emergency Hull Energisers that also shuts down offensive capability.  Lore wise this could be interesting to build out of the recent Amarr experience with getting alpha'd by Drifters, which of course as with all Eve things would be immediately copied by all factions.

The second way I don't hear people talking about - put the FC in the place of the field marshal watching everything through field glasses.  Keegan's example for this case was Wellington, and as depicted above you can think of this leader as very near the battle but above the scrum.  Carriers already fulfill some of the needs for such a Napoleonic leader, such as the ability to lock targets over extreme ranges.  So is an answer perhaps for this new "Grid Command" ship to be a cruiser hull with super-long lock ranges, a high number of simultaneous targets, EWAR resistance/invulnerability, and probably a good speed and sensor strength.  If your FC is so valuable that you are willing to give up their ability to contribute dps, then why have them in the middle of the scrum anyway?

CCP would still have to worry about abuse of such a ship of course - but that's true of any new ship hull.  it would be cool for some of the ship's new abilities to only exist (or be enhanced) when in fleet command positions - perhaps brain in the box makes this possible. Having such a tie would also reduce abuse since it inherently limits how many people in a fleet could exploit the ship in the inevitable, creative way that Eve players do.

So if CCP Fozzie was to ask my opinion, that's the direction I would point him in.  Eve FCs should move past the Iron Age commander and at least up to the Napoleonic era. :)

Side note - the AIs are taking over the spam

I have moderation turned on after some spam posts.  I had this comment pop up on an old post.  The artificially generated posts (Markov chains or whatever the latest hotness is) are getting good enough that for a brief moment I was really trying to parse it as if it was written by a non-English native speaker.  Unlike usual there was no hyperlink embedded for the advertising - that was done in the "poster's" URL, so you wouldn't see it unless you tried to find out who this poster was.  The second sentence is definitely more successful in picking up from Eve phrases.

"This is very considerably some sort of assurance connected with way as an alternative to whatever massive, in addition to many pleasant keyword phrases including suffering on the excess weight connected with its very own awesomeness. When i recognize of which Empire living space is usually a realistic beginning point having many stuff witout a doubt constantly in place, although I however hope we were looking at wanting to create the concept of this sailing factions to be a beginning point."

May 19, 2016

Dread-ing Training

After Eve Vegas when the capital balance changes were first announced, I decided to make the leap and slotted in Advanced Spaceship Command to get into a capital ship. There are a lot of expensive schoolbooks involved and very long training cycles, as I noted in my blog at the time. I was looking forward to being able to get into a Moros that would have utility in lowsec beyond POS takedowns.  That was on 31 October, so I'm all done and a capital pilot now, right?  Not exactly.

Since then I have deprioritized some of this capital training as we learned more about the capital rebalance and what it really means in practice. High angle weapons don't have quite the punch against subcapital targets as we might have hoped. That's still a very expensive ship to put on the line to try to blap subcapitals with given the DPS numbers. (Though I'm amused to hear of MBC HAW Titans on the Saranen undock)

I know I didn't show the full fit (it wasn't good, don't worry) but that 3.3B for fittings is notable (and I didn't go as shiny as many I'm sure).  As I talked to local capital pilots and got advice on slave implant sets for the traditional buffer tanking approach.  We'll see if the new active-tank pirate implants end up making the scene for smaller engagements (oh, and that means Capital Repair Systems skill). In any case, that means another couple billion ISK. My wallet will definitely need reinforcement long before I can undock such a capital ship, given a guideline of being able to immediately replace any ship (and pod) that I undock. In other parts of Eve players could rationalize buying a carrier knowing that they could use it for high-value ratting to help pay the cost of that same carrier. That is not exactly advisable in low sec, and definitely not in a dreadnought.  The carrier meta does look very interesting, though it is an even longer and more expensive training cycle.

But what has really derailed my plans though is the ongoing use and value of battleships in both PVP and PVE. When I started down the capital training road I only had Gallente Battleship V. While the Dominix is a quite serviceable battleship for fleet use, the king of the PVP subcap mountain today is the Machariel.  Like most of the PVP focused corps around lowsec, RDRAW has a Machariel doctrine, which makes Minmatar Battleship V seem like a good value train.  On a side note, I went to slap a T2 Heavy Neut on my Machariel and realized that I'd never trained that to V either - since until the neut rebalance there wasn't any reason to use T2 neuts.  So that's another couple days of training.

On the PVE side the Rattlesnake is the undisputed moneymaker whether you're running L5 missions or hopping through a WH to hit nullsec anoms. Fortunately this also uses Gallente Battleship for offense, though the Caldari Battleship V seems very appealing for that extra bit of resists.  In my case that also meant polishing up some missile skills.  All to get the ISK that could make it possible to get that even bigger ship.  Hmm, this is starting to sound like a trap, isn't it?

Really all of these are the classic trade off of more short-term pay off compared to a very long-term payoff. Capitals are not something that I see regularly in my current line of work. Battleships are.  The capital skills will remain in the queue but have gotten pushed back by those 30 day battleship trains. At least for not I'm not tempted by the distractions of Marauder or Black Ops...

So I can technically sit in a Moros now, but I haven't spent for the hull and don't see that happening soon.  I don't regret putting in that big train for advanced spaceship command but it doesn't look like I'll be putting it to use quite as early as I might have hoped.  Instead I'll follow along and see how things develop for capital ships both in the wider universe of Eve and in the part of space in which I now reside.

May 2, 2016

Please let me pay money for more Eve stuff

Somewhere there's a twelve-step program for Eve players, but it doesn't culminate with freeing you from your addiction to the game, but instead ends with being completely nerded out on the game.  Or as a CCP employee I suppose.  It seems that CCP is working hard to save us from that fate, making sure we can't spend too much more of our RL cash on Eve RL goodies.  But we can try.

Swag Tease

Once again with FanFest CCP has teased us with what swag attendees can buy.  Clever t-shirts, sharp-looking button-downs, and even caps.  Oh, we can buy those on the online store after FanFest, right?  After all, the new online store is going to open in the first quarter of 2016.  Sigh.  Soon?

At least they've finally made some deal with Rixx so that we continue to see his prints for sale.  Those are sore tempting too - I'm quite curious what reactions I'd get at work if I put the print of the Myrmidon up in my office.

I could do with more of that trend.  I can understand if CCP can't prioritize all the logistics and such to get their own merch out, but perhaps can license others to use their IP and get a cut or something.  That has it's own overhead though - perhaps worse that actually getting the merch going.

Empires of Eve

I've never lived in nullsec, but I got drawn in and bought "Empires of Eve." I'm enjoying it as a history, but the sense of history as a lesson to be repeated is just too delicious not to apply to current events. For instance, fill in this Eve Mad-Lib.

[Coalition Name] was constantly antagonistic.  It fought against everybody and schemed to conquer every star system possible.  [Coalition Leader] had created a political climate in nullsec where [Coalition Name] was feared and hated across New Eden.  This was manageable when his enemies acted alone, because [Coalition Name] could mop the floor with any single adversary.  But the [inciting event] was a crystallizing moment that brought all of [Coalition Name]'s enemies together.  The adversaries of [Coalition Name] knew that at this moment they had the political momentum needed to unite in a grand coalition to destroy [Coalition Name] foreever.  Nothing else mattered more than destroying [Coalition Leader]'s empire.  The stage was set for what we now know as [Big War Name].

I bought the paperback, somewhat cheaping out in case I found that nullsec really wasn't that compelling.  I'd recommend others to go for the hardback or the Kindle edition.  The typeset in the paperback is not dark black, and the format is smaller, so I find that I can't read it at night in bed if I'm tied - it's just too hard to focus on.  Those readers here who haven't hit their 40th birthday yet may find this isn't a problem for them though.

Fanfest 2017

This year Fanfest happened to ride right along with a local school vacation week.  Since my wife is a teacher that means that if we'd planned for it then we could have both gone to Iceland, done some sight-seeing, then I could go on to Fanfest.  She's finally open to the idea... but sadly Fanfest 2017 is April 6-8.  Amazingly the wife is still on board with the idea of me going for the first time next year.  She looked over my shoulder and saw the Eve Vegas dates and suggested that, but I think I'd rather see Iceland.

But really, I shouldn't have to go to Fanfest as my only way to give CCP money for some swag...

April 21, 2016

Fanfest from a Distance: Build Your Dreams, Wreck Their Dreams

Fanfest may be a long way away from here, but I'm plugged in to watch some of the key presentations.  So this is my Fanfest at a distance, somewhat live-blogger style, with lots of links from videos and stills that are being posted...

While waiting for the stream my characters are making the pilgrimage to Amarr to register for the YC118 Amarr Championships Community Draw.  This is a bit trickier for some of my characters (*cough* Gallente factional warfare *cough*) so all of them might not make it.

Opening Ceremonies - Connections

Nice touch listing Upwell Consortium as a "sponsor", that's a fun little teaser.  The light and smoke for the Amarr Championship seemed a bit out of place as Hilmar dropped right back into his calm, paced presentation.  I don't know about other folks, but for me the React website wasn't loading the scripts needed to actually have buttons to press.

Rooks and Kings: I love their videos, but honestly "Message in a Bottle" isn't their greatest.  What I really wish is that we'd see them breaking out with the next great thing - Pantheon, Pipebombing, ... do they still have the skills and creativity to make it a trifecta?

I get the grand vision Hilmar is looking for, but I'm not sure if joining Tranquility and Serenity is a good idea.  Both have grown into their own communities, their own balance of economics, their own reality.  There were some cool ideas tossed around on reddit for limited connections via wormholes that certainly would be a nice way to slowly bring the two together.  In the end the barrier to making this happen is more of a political thing than a gameplay thing of course.

I had to chuckle at the Eve Valkyrie "Carrier Assault" video.  When will ship designers stop putting their main reactors right near open bays where people can blow them up?  I'm sure the lore experts will jump in and the idea of the "recovering tech" that is referenced in this scenario.

Project Arena: the overlay of the video footage and the VR rendering really helps sell that concept.  Obviously very Tron-like here.  I really like this as the next-level after the Wii first came in and got so many people up and "bowling" into their television across the room.

Project Nova: the successor to Dust 514 on the PC using a free-to-play model.  I'll be curious to see what the Fanfest goers report on this.  I'm not a FPS player really, but since Nova would be on the PC I could see giving it a try.  My son might actually be more interested in this than I am, which could be very cool.  "Dad, I need an orbital strike, now!"  However, the o7-segment between the two sessions mentioned that Nova would focus on space locations more than just planetary settings, which is a nice nod towards the potential teaser with videos for some time.  How long until we can deliver a troop carrier full of space marines to take on an opponent's Citadel, perhaps to be able to shut down modules or otherwise affect the ongoing space battle.

Eve Keynote

Overall I like how they slipped a bit of an RP feel into the Keynote segment, with the pirate broadcasts interrupting things and the references to Upwell and ORE as groups who are present and active in a real sense.  There's a lot of "great stuff coming, but you'll have to wait" that points to things whose delivery date is out past the next Fanfest, but that's balanced by more immediate deliveries as well.  But on to the subtopics...

CCP Quant.  It's all about pi in the chart porn.  I'm looking forward to bloggers and podcasters like Eve-Prosper, Nosy Gamer, Eve-Fail, and marketsForISK tear into this.  I love the teaser that the Palantine Citadel would require liquidation of 1/15th of all of the active assets in Eve today.

CSM Elections.  Low turnout isn't a surprise, but it is disappointing to see.  I'm sad that Apothne's real-life troubles kept him out, as I'm sure he would have been in.  Given that Hyde got a permanent spot, chances are good that this would have been Apothne's to win.  Will the Imperium folks be able to put their drama behind them enough to contribute constructively to the CSM?  We'll see.

Frigates of Eve book.  I gotta says that I was a bit disappointed at the end that the book is only frigates, but on the other hand that means they are going to be more comprehensive and in depth on just that class.  Of course, it's a teaser of moving up through the ship hulls should the book be successful.  Summer 2017 is a pretty long way away though.

Official Eve App for iPhone and Android.  The big question is of course where this puts third-party apps like Neocom.  I'm glad to hear that they do not expect this to be the only Eve app on your phone.

Industrial Arrays: That teaser video was hilariously good.  Getting into it though, I love the idea of the owner of the industrial array can allow usage for a fee.  This is something that I'm itching to be able to do right now, as I don't have quite enough time and toons to run a POS on my own.  First blueprints not until this Fall though, so that means the actual release is Winter or so.  I'm not so thrilled at how far out this is though.  Drilling Arrays in Winter is the next step, but not as sexy for me.  The promise of beginning the full replacement of POS with Citadels by next Fanfest is a big one.  Mining changes aren't quite my thing, but I'm glad to see that the Rorqual owners finally the rework, though I see there are already people whining on reddit that it will be unworkable.

Faction Titans and "Shadow of the Serpent".  You know that Larriken was just waiting to be able to say "mere run of the mill Erebus."  I'm curious about how this event will work, along with the whole idea of rat caps and supers.

CCP Ghost and new player retention.  This is very much a promise of direction rather than anything big, other than some nice phrases like "suffering from the weight of its own awesomeness."  I agree that Empire space is a logical starting point with a lot of material already in place, but I do still wish they were ready to add the idea of the pirate factions as a starting point.

And the Eve Fanfest Trailer for 2016.  This really should be titled "Build Your Dreams / Wreck Their Dreams."  I can't imagine that  you're reading this blog and you haven't seen it, but there's the link to watch it gain.

April 14, 2016

The Fizzle's not in the Sov

"This is the way the world ends /  Not with a bang but a whimper." -T.S. Eliot, "The Hollow Men"

Perhaps the poet wasn't thinking of The Imperium when he wrote this in the wake of World War I, but I wonder if some disillusioned Imperial subject will end up writing "The Hollow Goon" after World War Bee.  The Mittani has taken to making ever more fantastical postings on TMC, and they are being echoed by some that are presenting a stalwart front with their master, but honestly the increasingly desperate and fatalistic tones sound like they are about to break into whimpers.  It seems the inner circle of the Imperium is ready to lash out at just about anyone right now, from their turncoat allies in CO2, to their opponents such as Mercenary Coalition, to personal attacks at members of CCP.

I mentioned last time that I found the idea of joining the Allied forces very appealing.  I figured I'd take a look around, so I found a potential event on the World War Bee filter of Timerboard, got into a newly refitted stealth bomber, and headed out.  I made perches on the way and was particularly careful making the transition from lowsec into null Pure Blind at Mantenault.  Nothing but empty systems greeted me.  There were no camps on the entrance, no bubbles to slowly burn out of.  Two systems in I saw a TEST pilot enter local, so I opened up a convo to ask how things were going.  "Nothing happening" was the answer.  Another couple systems in I met another TEST pilot and figured I'd try again and got the same answer.  I got to my target system and set up some bookmarks around the IHub that was going to come out in less than an hour, but the single other occupant of the system (a Goon, even) wasn't anywhere on d-scan.  I've never actually fired a bomb launcher before, so I warped over to a belt and tried tagging some rats but at least according to the combat logs didn't do any damage so I clearly have something I need to figure out.  Perhaps just as well then that the only fleet I saw the entire time was a small goon interceptor fleet that raced through the system, spamming in local about how MOA couldn't catch them.

I would have envisioned Mittani not railing with this effective admission that it will take them "years" of "long, cold and brutal" conflict to reclaim their place.  There is no sign of these "Ancient Great Warriors" returning to Goonswarm ranks - instead it seems all of their great warriors, the ones with the adaptable and creative minds capable of fighting under the new Sov, well ... they've all gone over to other Alliances it seems.  I would have expected some kind of call of "rise and get in fleets or be purged" with the Imperial Bureaucracy keeping track of slackers via the infamous PAP links.  I would have expected a "fierce and hot" conflict for VFK or YA0 rather than "long and cold" - honestly the former would sound a lot more fun if I was a lapsed Imperium pilot.  The expectation (myth?) was that the Imperium had an amazingly huge treasury from all those deep 0.0 riches, so even if they were outnumbered 3:5 then could be fighting in a home system, die, reship, undock, and be right back into the fight - unlike their MBC foes who would have a much longer reship supply line.  The "Goonhammer" I expected was the power of the purse, combined with the Mittani's infamous political power, and the wily commanders who made the name for the CFC from being able to overwhelm bigger opponents with nothing but Rifters.  Instead it seems that many of the big names are on the other side.  Now the game's largest capital and supercapital fleet stays logged off or hidden for risk of being lost if it is used.  The big take-away from the Close Quarter's interview with Vily (jump to the end if you don't want Vily's long early history bit) is that he and others wanted to fight, but that pugnacious heart of the CFC is gone.

What has fizzled is that the Imperium no longer has no confident swagger, no fearsome reputation, and no strong right arm to back it all up.

A hot war that carried through spring and into summer would have been incredible for the game, though even as it is it has been good for the game.  About two weeks ago I posted a Eve-Offline PCU count image.  Here's the latest:

Those two spikes over 40k since my last blog are great to see.  There is a clear change in levels since the start of World War Bee.  I'm curious about the future.  It seems pretty clear that the Imperium will be wiped from the Sov map.  This is accepted by the Imperium leadership and they're already setting up their pilots (those that remain anyway) for the war that will happen after that.  If there is enough of a low-sec lull then the MBC will doubtless break apart.

That could begin a new age of sov that might also be appealing to players like myself.  We'd be looking at a sov-null that is shattered into many smaller nascent empires much like the dreams of sov we heard in the player meta a year or two ago.  The Imperium, shrunk into a hardened core could be a villain of a whole new cast - perhaps they could be the marauding barbarians then, rather than the calcified structure they are now.  Perhaps they would be feared again, like they once were, and maybe they can even start to live up to what Mittani is putting out right now.  It would be a lot smaller, a lot less dominating, but a lot more fun.

And it'd be a lot better than ending with a whimper.

March 26, 2016

War For Our Time

I've been a lowsec dweller for most of my Eve life, after moving on from the usual highsec start.  The tales of nullsec have been interesting in terms of politics and history, but the cap/super-cap driven nature of nullsec war was something that kept it firmly in the "not for me" category.  The nullsec world seemed static, with all of the knowlegable opinions seeming to come together to say that the CFC had effectively won and that we would see no great battles like B-R again.

"To have a large war, you need two large adversaries.  To have a large battle, you need two sides willing to commit large numbers of expensive assets." - Ripard Teg, "The Last War", 30 Jan 2014.

Aegis Sov started to change this opinion.  It used to be that the cry was that you needed a fleet of supers to take sov.  Now suddenly the weight of the game mechanic shifted, and the cry was that anyone in a troll-ceptor could threaten sov.  Player inventiveness responded of course and we've hit somewhere inbetween as best I can tell from my station down here in lowsec.  Stuff was definitely starting to happen and then suddenly...

Where did that come from?  I recommend Nosy Gamer's blog as a neutral starting point for what he termed The Casino War.  There's a summary today by EN24 (not neutral) of the Allied Forces.  The breaking news this afternoon was that LAWN and Bastion are evacuating Vale of the Silent, straight from none other than Mittani on his own Metashow,  surrendering that region to the anti-Imperium forces.  The propaganda on reddit has been voluminous and often quite good.  I hear that this is what TEST does best. :)

It's enticing.  The possibility of joining on of the "Allied" combatants and battling the hated CFC certainly stirs the imagination,  We here in RDRAW have gotten in a few ops via our connection to Snuffed Out, and from what I hear it sounds like our northern GalMil cousins have taken some fleets up in search of CO2 assets as well.  But being third-parties or allies-of-an-ally is a bit different from shifting home and living that war.

There is one measure that I think all Eve players are looking to right now.  There are plenty of "that's it, I'm resubbing" comments in the propaganda threads.  Will that really come through?  Here's the one slope that we'll all want to watch:

War for our Time, pilots, let there be War for our Time.

March 21, 2016

Grab Bag and CSM Autocorrect Answers

Some miscellany today before they slip out of my mind.  If you haven't read the CSM Autocorrect Quiz at the bottom of the CSM Ballot post, now is your chance to do so before you see the answers.

Dual Tanking Newbies

If you've taken a new character through the career missions (as I've done recently) then you know why new players dual-tank: it's what they are taught to do.  In both the Gallente and Caldari career missions you'll be given a shield hardener for your frigate and then a bit later you'll be given a small armor repper.  I think you also get a blaster and then are given rails, just to get that mixed-gun thing going to.  I assume that's because they wanted to reuse the same mission for all races with as little parameterization as possible, but I haven't spun up Minmatar or Amarr alts recently enough to know.

Station Trading

I've been relatively successful at station trading on my alt over the past months, though I did get caught out paying too much for items that tumbled in price.  On an active day I can log in twice: once in the morning and once in the evening, so I can't quite do the 0.01isk every 5 minutes thing.  Finding new stuff has been a bit of a challenge.  I tried the Evernus website that some people were speaking well of on reddit, but it looked like a decent chunk of the time the data was just wrong, so I'm guessing that's because its source information is being gamed somehow.  I need to put in the time to find more items with a decent margin, activity on both the buy and sell sides, and which isn't being so actively traded that I'll be left behind 15 minutes after I log off.

Gureaster Goodies

I haven't run one of these yet, but I'm looking forward to trying.  There was a site in my home system, but apparently some of the guys were leaving it open as a trap so I headed off to fight in some FW plexes.  I've heard of people scoring skill injectors, which would be very nice indeed.

Skill Injectors and Alt Training

I have an alt that was trained to be an off-grid booster, which isn't that long a train.  I haven't made a huge use of him, but with the coming changes (soon, I hope) I've been training him towards on-grid combat capability.  Ah, quite the reminder of all of those core skills that you need if you're going to actually survive and do anything useful on grid.  It's a good reminder of what new players have to do too - and of course my alt dates from before the new character skill boost, so he needs to do things like train Science IV so he can get to Thermodynamics.  Doing sequences like that make those injectors so, so tempting.

CSM Autocorrect Quiz

Okay, so here are the answers.  Joffy Aulx-Gao got all of these right except the first:

Were Ducking  -> Wardeccing
Torah but she don't  -> Tora Bushido
Laura expert -> Lore Expert
Game McKennas  -> Game Mechanics

Good Hunting out there, and don't forget to vote!