Monday, October 7, 2013

Necessary Force

Only three things in Eve are certain.  Death, taxes, and rage.

Ok, death and taxes may not actually be certain, I'm not really sure.  But one thing that can always be counted on is player rage.  This week's ragefest has been a nicely simmering stew of CCP missteps, player reaction, and CSM posting.  If you guessed that I am referring to the Ishukone Scorpions, you win a tritanium!

Up front, I don't give an Ibis about what CCP did, if it is favoritism, or any of that.  But the facts of the story and the apoplectic response to it are fascinating.  Here is my best understanding of what happened:

CCP decided to give some ships to SOMER Blink's staff and some tournament organizers as a way of saying thank you for their efforts in creating content in New Eden.  CCP did this secretly and SOMER advised their staff to keep things on the down low to not draw undue attention to the gifts, as they presciently assumed it would rub some players the wrong way.  CCP has also given comparable gifts to other various players and organizations.  Some CSM members, due to affiliations and relationships in game, knew about this either during or after the fact.  The CSM was not, to take their word for it, made aware of the gifts before the fact.  Some CSMs were not particularly eager to talk about it, for a wide variety of reasons.  It is worth noting that while the ships given are not particularly useful in-game, they are rare and therefore are worth a lot of isk on the Eve market.

The player response to this has been rather wide ranging, hitting on all the usual levels of response.  I just don't understand it.  For a few reasons, in no particular order:

Everyone who received a ship has done something to drive player created content in New Eden.  Some did it for profit, some did it for fun, and I imagine many did it for both.

The entities involved in receiving the ships were mostly capable of affording whatever they wanted to buy before the ships were given.  The ships given are also so valuable that anyone who wants to buy one and has the means to probably couldn't care less about the sums involved.  No rank and file player is really affected by the sale of these ships.

It is true that some people were given gifts and some were not.  The rest of this paragraph is hypothetical, I'm not saying that I am in any way a large figure in Eve.  I'm just thinking out loud.  For example, I have written an Eve-focused blog off and on for the last few years.  When active, I have tried to support in-game content to varying degrees of effort and success.  CCP has never offered me anything, and I could care less.  I would wager that CCP has never offered most community members
anything.  There are hundreds (thousands?) of people actively contributing in some way to driving the Eve community, either by writing, by organizing in-game, or by just playing.  Honestly, if CCP starts rewarding players for driving content any number of Nullsec entities should be at the top of the list to receive goodies.

What just happened is nothing like the T20 debacle of the past.  The order of magnitude of difference between giving out gifts and actively altering the course of the game is not comparable.  If you cannot see the difference between the events, I'm not sure anyone will be able to explain it.

The point is that gifts are gifts.  Anyone who has been in an environment where gifts are given should be well aware that the way the giver sees the gift and the way recipients and non-recipients see the gift can vary widely.  If you have a job, you have probably seen your boss give somebody something, and been completely floored at who got what, or why, or you have wondered why one person got something instead of you or someone else.  But your boss or the corporate heads probably just thought they were being nice and showing the rest of the company that the leadership does in fact value hard work or some sort of positive contribution.  I'm fairly certain that CCP was thinking along the same lines.

It doesn't help that the Eve player base swings between manic support and rabid rage at the tip of a hat.  So it is even understandable that CCP would not go out of their way to publicize what was essentially a "Nice job guys, we appreciate what you are doing" moment.  there may have been better gifts to choose (cheaper ships) and there may have been better ways to go about giving those gifts (announcing it).  But looking at intent can give a healthy dose of perspective.

CCP quietly gave some people a nice present for helping build something they care about, and a large mob heard about it, smashed down the doors and started tossing the joint.  What a great way recognize a group of developers trying to reward players actively contributing to the game.  I encourage you to stop, consider the scope of what happened and the perspectives of those involved.  Take a few minutes to think about how this affects your individual gameplay.  Then go about whatever it was you were doing before this.  If you are still angry, or feel that you are owed something, I suggest creating your own in game events or organizations on par with those who received the gifts.  Unfortunately, there may not be any more gifts after this latest festival of rage.

Thursday, September 12, 2013


It's been a few months.  Due to family illness and unemployment after graduating from my latest round of education I completely left Eve as both an expense I could not justify and a time sink I could not engage in given my play style.  The illness continues, but the unemployment looks to be coming to an end.  I hope to resubscribe soon, but I'm not sure how much time I will have to play.

On the blog front, I want to expand what I write about here.  I want to write about more than Eve, as I have had a chance to play more casual games that one can simply walk away from when needed at a moments notice.  I'm not sure if that means I will renamed or redesign the blog, but I do know it means this will no longer be just an Eve blog.

My biggest regret is that without realizing it, I let most of my contacts and relationships in Eve just wither away for the last few months, so to all those who had been conversing with me and sharing their time and knowledge, sorry for that.  Life outside internet spaceships came first, and will continue to do so.

I hope to back in game in a month or so, and I hope to see some familiar faces soon!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Empty Space

Well, it's summer again.  Living in the upper Midwest means swings of 38 F to 95 F within a day or two, leading to the lovely situation where my car is full of winter coats and beach towels.  Well, maybe that was a week or two ago.  But reveling in the psychotic nature of the season has left me almost no time to play Eve recently, along with my final finals, and an impending three-week trip.  I'll be gone until mid June, so I hope everyone has a fun Odyssey launch, and try not to completely wreck the place while I'm gone!

Maybe the launcher will work by the time I return?

Friday, May 17, 2013

Odyssey Skill Reminder

Just a quick reminder, although it might me a bit late or irrelevant to you.  Skills for flying a lot of ships are changing come June 4, and you should be ready by doing a few things:
  • If you have Destroyers V and Battlecruisers V update your clone to hold about 6-7 million more skill points.
  • If you don't have those skill trained, that sucks, but train them as far as you can.
  • If you have BC V, train all the racial cruisers to at least III, and inject Command Ships so as to get the racial Command Ship skills receive ranks in the skill (Edited based on comment 5/18/13).
  • Look at the links posted further down in this post to see if there are other ships that you can essentially skill into come patch day.
Here is a nice picture that illustrates some of the changes, stolen from a very useful Eve University forum post:

This dev blog has more details.

If you are a player who is fairly well along the way to a lot of T2 ships, command ships, or who remembered to train Destroyers and Battlecruisers to V, but forgot about the other requirements, you should troll through both the posts I linked to make sure you get the most out of the skill changes.  I just double checked everything, and I'm glad I did.  My industry character had a few skills I needed to put in my queue so as to benefit from all the changes.  He will retain the ability to fly an awful lot of ships come Odyssey.  Even if he can't fit any of the weapons that would make them useful...

The most important thing is to get all your racial frigate skills to IV, racial cruisers to III, and Destroyers and Battlecruisers to V. 

The Value of (In)security

I got to reading a bit of the forum thread for the SVT ballot dev blog.  There are some wonderful quotes such as "TEST vote, please ignore."  (I love that.  Sorry TEST.  It's just funny, in a dark sort of way.)  There is the usual tinfoil hat-ery going on, even though null blocs didn't sweep the elections.  There is the important idea that no voting system can represent people who cannot vote.  Most interesting to me is the sentiment that null bloc candidates are bad.  I'm not a null bloc guy, and don't currently want to be one.  But I don't understand the sentiment.

Sharing time:  I've had the fun experience of talking with a wide range of Eve players, with some serious conversations with people from all areas of the game aside from WH space.  But I've dipped into that area enough to know a thing or two about it.  There seem to be a few major types of players.  High sec carebears, in the bad way.  High sec carebears in the "I can't be bothered with that paranoia" camp.  Low sec FW.  Low sec Pirates.  Null players.  Give-no-shits pvpers.

Out of all of these groups, one particular mindset intrigues me.  A particular quote comes to mind.  The context first: On my industrial character I was explaining offhandedly that I was going to have a chat with a Goonswarm player, and I was rather excited to see what was going to happen.  I knew very little about the upcoming conversation aside from broad strokes, and was just interested to hear a new perspective.  The pilot I mentioned this to said "You shouldn't talk to goons."

The player who said this is not a bad player.  In fact he is a great asset, and knows a lot about the game.  But (and I am assuming this) he has bough into the "Null/Goons are Bad" mentality that probably most of the non-goon players have.  Being in a new corp on my industrial character, I have been reintroduced to the high sec mindset that low sec and null are dangerous, and people who live there are bad.  These assumptions blanket a large number of players.  Some rightfully so, some for no good reason I can fathom.  Yes, low sec is more dangerous to a usual resident of high sec than just ignoring the orange and red systems.  But it's not instant death, and low sec can be a shockingly fun place to fly around in, chat in, and generally mess around with.

So where is this going?  In the forum posts on the SVT ballots there was a lot of talk and inference that null bloc candidates would ruin the game for high sec players.  While I think this is categorically false, I think it also shows an interesting lack of perspective.  There is, simply put, a lot of game mechanics that do not work or exist in high sec, or only work in neutered ways.  Without the perspective of low and null sec players, the CSM would be worse!

Here a few things most HS-only players will never or very rarely encounter:  Cynos, Capitals, many POS functions, player-driven industry infrastructure, non-targeted warp disruption, smart bombs, most black ops functionality, the finer points of aggression and crime watch, anything related to sovereignty, bridging, most forms of pvp aside from ganking, POCOs, and many other topics I am forgetting.

Those are huge chunks of the game.  Some of them have real impacts on players who only live in HS, even if they do not realize it.  At this risk of sounding like an elitist or apologist, many of the mechanics I mentioned above also require more planning, investigation, and critically thinking through the mechanics before actually engaging in something, compared to running missions or mining in high sec.  One cannot simply cyno anywhere and hope to survive.  Managing crimewatch is easier than it was, but still requires a certain understanding beyond "Wait for the other guy to shoot first".

I am also confused as to what the alternative would be to a CSM with a healthy dose of null representatives.  All High sec players?  No offense to my empire allies, but that sounds like a bad recipe.  If Eve is to have the conflict and tension that it needs to survive, we need people on the CSM who understand the finer points of what is used to create player conflict, and the mechanics by which that conflict is negotiated.  If no one blew up ships, Eve would become a very lonely,dull, and economically sterile place.  After all, asteroid minerals, salvage, and meta modules gathered in high sec have to be used for something, or those items will lose any real value.  I doubt those NPCs are really helping ship turnover rates in New Eden all that much.

And hey, if all the null sec players bitch and moan about some idea while everyone else is silent tune your ear to understand why the moaning is happening.  CSM 7 had, at my count, at least 50% null candidates.  Not a peep was heard from them against the moon redistribution.  That alone may cause more "strife" for null sec than anything since player sov space was created.  You might even think they supported it...  So for any carebears in high sec who think null candidates are killing the game, null sec CSMs may just have fought for a huge change that will help keep your goods in demand come this June.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

PI: The Second Month

In my earlier wrap up of my PI challenge, I noted that I was considering running PI on all three characters on one account.  I did this.  Mainly because I though Mabrick's claims might have a silver lining if I ran it that way. There's more posts over there, you should read them.  He has some interesting views on Eve.

Back to the follow up.  As a reminder, here were the results from the first month.  The key point is that I netted about 134m in profits.

Across three characters on the same account, with 4s in Command Center Upgrades and Planetary Consolidation, I ended up netting this:

Not quite triple the total, but I had to run 2 factory planets.  And 334m isk ain't bad.  A few thoughts on this.

  • I didn't even have CCU 4 and IC 4 trained at the outset.  That took about two weeks or so.  So that's lost income.  
  • I was also much less serious this time around, and missed more than a few updates by margins of hours or days.  Also failed to move some ECUs when I knew I should have.  That's also money lost. 
  • Due to resource imbalances, sometimes I stockpiled, and sometimes I just hauled and sold.  Not sure how that impacted things.
In regards to Mabrick's original and revised estimates of 500m or 300m/month respectively, I think both are possible if you are willing to run all the characters on an account.  With level 4 skills, 300m is more than doable, as evidenced.  500m might be, if you train 5s, pick planets with a bit of luck and wisdom, and pick the right things to produce.

So here it is, with the caveat that you need to use all 3 characters, in no uncertain terms:

Mabrick was right.

There, the crow has been eaten.  Tasted kind of like chicken.  I'm happy to be wrong, in this case.

I'll keep this project running.  I am moving my operations, as I just started up with a new Corp on my industrialist toon, and humping 22 jumps every two days is not fun.  We'll see how the new set of systems I scouted work out.  It was much simpler this time, partly from experience and partly from luck.


In completely unrelated to game news, I just finished my last final in my last class in my masters program. Just have my defense to schedule and complete, and I will be officially done with higher education!  The only way I'll pile it higher and deeper is if someone offers to pay for it next time :).  But it's a crazy moment, I'm too tired to go out and drink, so here's to conclusions and momentous events!

My Little Corner of the Cluster

So ice changes, they are a coming.  Not sure how this is going to shake out.  Jester wrote an interesting take on why it might be a good idea to remove ice from high sec in the long run, and why it's ok for prices to go up.  I disagree.

First there is the problem of POSes.  For small group and industrial groups working in non-null space, the cost and effort of maintaining POSes is not insignifigant, and any real consideration of running one has to balance the cost of fuel against the potential profits from running said POS.  For a medium or large, this is already a bit of a constraint for some players, at least from an initial setup and first few months of run time.  Especially if you live in HS or LS.  In high sec you can only do so much at a POS, and in low sec you have to manage the supply chain of getting the damn blocks to your towers.  You don't have the same intel channels and blue donut protecting you.  You also don't have the same level of juicy targets to distract would-be attackers.

Second, you have the issue of inflation or across the board price increases, and the resulting impact on players who want to do research and invention.  Raise the cost of doing business, and everything else goes up in cost.  This brilliantly follows Malcanis's Law that any changes hurt new players more than old players.  Those who have a POS, an industry chain, and/or an income stream can probably just tweak prices.  For newer players, you have just raised the bar to entry on the POS, via fuel, and many of the income sources for players, by making the ships and modules that facilitate isk making more expensive.  Especially for new players who do not have access (via skills and standings) or money for the missions and ships that can easily print money.  Increased POS costs will result in increased invention costs, which will result in increased T2 costs for hulls and modules.  Overall, this will serve to depress new player ability to engage in PvE or PvP, or at least slow down the process of gearing up and moving on to the next step of the missioning/mining/exploring efficiency equation.

I understand that the price of ice affects many things going on in null and low sec, such as strategic POS placement, null industry (hee hee), cap production, and anything involving jumping ships through cynos.  So by increasing the cost of POSes, you can increase the cost of caps and super caps moving around the cluster.  This second thing may be good, I'm not sure.  But if you want to make cynos more expensive, maybe the fuel for cynos and the fuel for POSes should be two different things?

If the goal is to slow down the cynos of veteran players, maybe there is a solution that doesn't make the game comparatively more difficult for those who don't use cynos, or don't care to get involved in the affairs of null or low sec.  That group that doesn't care, they are the largest player base in Eve.  They live in high sec, low sec, and wormholes.  Let's not make the game harder on the majority just to address the minority.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

CSM 8 Results, Fanfest, Stuff

10 for 14 on my picks.  Not bad, even if a few were shoe-ins.  What surprised me more was the balance of who got in outside the bloc vote.  Mike Azariah but not Unforgiven Storm?  To me that was the biggest shock.  Nice to see Mike get a seat after so much time, though.  Apparently persistence pays off, even in spite of the Null Bloc ballots.

So this thing called Fanfest happened.  I didn't go.  I followed the news as best I could.  Lots to talk about.  Too much to talk about, really.  So I'll spin out some threads in my head.


This was at the same time awesome and disappointing.  Removing grav sites to a simple system scan is a small boon to finding the things, but a huge smack in the face to anyone who wants to mine in them, especially in non-HS space.  CCP has essentially turned grav sites into FW plexes, and that will not entice any miners who want to keep their ships for long.  The one nice thing about signature-based sites in LS is the small window of obfuscation they provide for ships that are designed for some sort of PvE instead of PvP.  I imagine that will be going away in mining sites.

Mining needs a mechanics change more than a location change.

As for Ice Mining, I have no real experience or opinions on that, and I'll have to see how it pans out.


Hooray, better scanning and probe interfaces!  This is great.  But it confounds the mining change.  By making scanning less painful, did grav sites need to be taken out of that equation?

Not sure about the minigame yet.  I'll need to play with it to see if it is engaging, or just a tedious addition.  I've never been a fan of adding complexity for the sake of complexity, so if this just replaces waiting for archeology scanners to cycle with no other changes, meh.  Will our success at the game change the speed and quality of the jettisoned cargo?  Will it be able to fail out, and remove a site that we currently would profit from?  What is the balance of the loot tables?

Jettisoning random cargo containers and then scrambling to pick them up.  Oy.  Not a fan of this, nor am I a fan of requiring a second account to facilitate the process.  Exploration, in my world, should be made more solo friendly so that players can get into it and have content unshackled from needing lots of people to engage in.  But as we have only seen a partial preview, I will hold final judgement on this as well.  Which leads to...


There were new modules on the projector, there were hints at other unrevealed features, and without knowing a lot of this, it's hard to say if Odyssey will be a boon or a curse.  We simply know too little about what hasn't been said to judge the whole expansion yet.  If the changes above are the only changes, then that's pretty poor.  If there are more features coming, I don't know of them and must reserve judgement.

I have always seen exploration as the solo-friendly career, wandering through space, avoiding hostiles, and occasionally scoring some loot.  Thematically, it appeals to me in the lone-wanderer sense.  It seems that most of the mechanics announced are an attempt to make solo exploration (with one account) even harder to do, so I'm torn.  Making non-combat sites require multiple people just seems punitive to me.  Time, experience, and more information will tell if I like this or not.


Yes, good, let's move along.  Why wouldn't I want to continue having ships made more useful?

Resource Distribution and Outposts

I can't say I have much experience with moons.  I hope the reseeding generates conflict in 0.0, as I much prefer to read about the big wars.  It also keeps 0.0 players doing two things I like: Focusing on 0.0, and blowing up and buying more stuff.  I think both of those are good for the game, so I hope the random reseeding of moons chips away at the blue donut.

As for ores and ice, it will be interesting to see if this has much impact on 0.0 players.  I'm sure some price fluctuations will occur, with low end ores, and therefore high sec mining, suffering to some degree.  It will really depend if the carrot is big enough for nullbears to undock in mining barges.  The upgrading of starbases will only really matter if null sec industry starts getting utilized, so again I think it comes down to trying to convince players to engage in a rather boring gameplay elements.  Again, time will tell!

Graphics Tweaks

Those are always nice.  Not really a game changer, but I do appreciate the game being updated.  It will make gate camps marginally more interesting to watch for the first few weeks, at least.


Despite there being a lot of info at fanfest, I still feel like I have no idea what Odyssey is about.  Most of the info released was on updates and the big resource redistribution.  This is all good stuff, but none of it really explained the name or theme of the expansion, outside the few tidbits about scanning and running sites.  What was released regarding exploration, in the state released, seems like it won't actually change gameplay all that much, and may in fact reduce some types of gameplay.  Is the odyssey CCP is referring to the final odyssey of miners from low sec?  Is it the odyssey of a few null players into ice belts? The odyssey of cargo containers into space after the hacking minigame?  None of those are particularly exciting odysseys.  No cyclops or lotus eaters or sirens.  Just bored warriors fiddling with the rigging as they sail home.

Forgive me for a little negativity, but so far small hints at player made star gates that won't be released in the expansion don't give any clues as to what is going to actually occur in June.  I was hoping for a solid preview of the expansion, an explanation of the theme and the mechanics that would bring a sense of wandering or searching into Eve beyond what already occurs.  The small hints delivered seem a wasted opportunity to get players excited.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Reasonable Foreseeability

In the wake of Burn Jita 2, I have a few thoughts:
  • Who plays Eve, but ignores the metagame?
  • How do haulers, one of the most at-risk groups to events like BJ2, manage to ignore it?
  • What responsibility does CCP have to players in regards to known events that CCP is not actually causing?
I'm fairly sure the answers to the first two are something like "many" and "through dumb luck".  But the anser to the third is not clear.  One very angry pilot posted the following in part of a draft letter he plans to send CCP, and posted on the forums:

"Lack of capacity in Jita causing a large amount of ships (likely on autopilot) containing vast wealth to be stuck on the gates around the system."

In the larger context of the letter, he was implying CCP's lack of ability to meet player demand for access to a system was responsible for a large number of the deaths in Burn Jita 2.  This made me stop and think for few minutes.  What we have here is a player trying to apply a real world legal principle to Eve online, a game made on a pile of interconnected rules that are constantly gamed for profit and entertainment.  A lot like the real rules in real legal settings.

The principle in question is that of "reasonable foreseeability".  For those unfamiliar, this rule is often applied in cases where negligence of one party results in some sort of harm to another.  For example, if I own a store, and I have flooded floor, and fail to notify customers of this, and then a customer injures themselves by slipping and falling on the floor, I am in some part culpable for the injury, as it was reasonably foreseeable that someone could have an accident, and I failed to warn the customer.  As long as a situation exists where the first party could reasonably anticipate harm based on action or inaction, that party has a duty to inform or reduce the risk.

So did CCP fail to reasonably foresee many of the ships losses in Jita?  On one side, you can argue that any pilot using autopilot to travel is removing blame from CCP.  By letting the computer just move you around and failing to pay attention, you are allowing other players to do what they will in your absence.  You could also argue that no hauler, on autopilot or manual pilot, had a chance to make it through the gate camp because of the mechanics of hauler alignment, the power of alpha strikes, and the normal "after the fact" nature of CONCORD response.

On the other side, you can argue that in normal game functioning, in the vast majority of cases, autopilot will allow you to jump through just about any gate in the game.  System traffic causing gate locks is very rare, and not to be expected by a reasonable player.  CCP knew Burn Jita 2 would happen, so failing to reinforce the nodes for Jita and surrounding systems was negligent, and broke reasonable player expectations.  Further, if CCP knew about BJ2, and given the warning issued last year for Burn Jita, and this year for Luminaire, if no warning was issued this year, CCP ignored a situation they knew would occur.  They failed to act on a reasonably foreseeable harm to many players.

Eve is not a real legal system, nor is it governed by real legal principles.  Most of the rules in Eve relating to player aggression fall far short of the legal principles in many real world legal frameworks.  But we also know many people expect some sore of justice in Eve, and many players are angered when they perceive a loss to be unfair, out of their control, or if a loss can be perceived as CCP's fault.

I don't really blame CCP.  If you can't be bothered to keep up with the metagame in Eve, especially when it relates to large events that are public knowledge, then I have little sympathy.  Eve is known for these sorts of events.  But I'm an Eve blog writer and reader, so I'm in a minority of the player base that chooses to get into the metagame.

What do you think?  Did CCP fail in their duty to act on a reasonably forseeable situation?  Should all the ganked haulers HTFU?  I'm curious to hear some of your thoughts.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Some Closing Thoughts on PI

A few final thoughts of Planetary Interaction before I stop talking about it, at least for a while, are in order:

Characters and Accounts

Something was nagging me after finishing the PI challenge.  Just to be sure about it, I asked Mabrick if his approach was just for one character, or for an entire account.  He told me that his play-style was to focus on one character.  Take that as you will, I'll take it at face value.  But I started playing around with my alts (I have 2 accounts that are active), and found a nice string of systems that I could feed into one final production planet.  So I started building and mapping out logistics.  Turns out you make up for a lot of holes in a production line this way.

I now have 2 characters feeding a PI chain, with a third who will be added to that in a few days.  Already the profits are increasing a fair bit, more than double what I was making per day with the one character.  The logistics are also tighter, but the string of systems is helping with this.  I simply unload everything via contract into one central station, then top off the production planet as needed.  I think a new(ish) player could do well to invest about a month into an approach like this once he or she is about 6 months into the game.  I still hold that missions and ship training are going to be the best bang for my buck from the starting line, but your mileage may vary.  It wont break 500m/month, but it's enough to fund some of my other production efforts.

I already had most of the training out of the way, and by my calcs, and judicious remaps, 3 alts can be at CCU IV and Interplanetary Consolidation IV in about 36 days.  Since this is a second industrial account that also manufactures and trades, it's not a huge deal to alter that training schedule.  I doubt this will happen on my main combat account though.

I plan on posting the results of month 2 in due course.

Customs Offices

I remarked in comments that I really wish there was a way to transfer goods in-system that bypasses the space hauler step.  A commenter noted that this may be fine in HS, but it would break the risk factor in Low/Null/WH space.  I'm not sure I agree.  If you kept the POCO taxes, that would leave the infrastructure pretty much alone.  You also still have to haul out the final products you want to sell, which will invariably require a larger, slower ship.  So I'm not sold that in-system transfer is game breaking.

I would envision this system working like an upgrade to the Command Center or Launch Pad, or a new building.  You spend some extra CPU and PG, maybe pay a fuel or isk or percentage of materials cost, and get the chosen goods routed to another planet in system. This would eliminate one of the more tedious aspects of moving intermediate goods around.  In my daily PI activities, hauling seems to be the biggest chore and I would gladly make some concessions on output to get rid of it.

Logical Routing

The biggest bugbear in PI is the way routing doesn't really work.  I set up 5 new planets this week and redesigned my production planet.  Sure enough, once it went live I had more than a few broken routes.  I though I fixed them, but some Mechanical Parts keep overflowing into one of my Launchpads.  All because you have to manually enter each route, and often have to commit to an intermediary step or two in order to trick the system into validating a given route.  This is silly.

Ideally, once you put schematics into Production Facilities and connect the links, the system should be able to figure out what needs to go where.  You could even prioritize competing facilities by outputs if you had that complex a setup.  I don't buy that this would be too hard to figure out.  If I can get a Minecraft quarry and pipe mod to sort the thousands of items in that game properly with an afternoon of tinkering, the same should be doable in a non-modded game.

Passive v Solo

After a month of running PI, I will not call it passive income.  To my mind, "passive" implies a few clicks here or there and you get isk.  That is not what PI is.  PI is lots of clicks, and lots of hauling, and lots of monitoring.  If you want pure passive income, go farm datacores.  Go find a quiet market hub and do some low scale trading.  Build something and list it on the market, updating prices once a day.

PI requires time and effort, and I think many people consider it passive because it is a solo affair.  But missions and mining are also often solo activities, and one mining run or one mission takes about the same time to complete as a day's PI efforts.  To get anything out of any of those requires attention, and PI is the same.


PI setup is ridiculously obtuse.  It seems like CCP doesn't want people to be able to figure out how PI actually works, or to be able to see how changes might impact your setup.  PG and CPU are hidden behind clicks, both for your Command Center and for new structures.  Multiple "submit" steps are needed to do the simplest things.  Timers slow down the ability to quickly move things.  Due to routing, you often have to do things is one very specific way or the local union will throw an error message.  Sometimes your ECUs just wipe the settings you had for no reason at all.  The sliders don't update until you release.  Some things have to happen in space, some can happen in station.  All of these things lead to lost time, lost isk, and frustration.


Yeah, I hate buzzwords, but I want to talk about PI in the light of other aspects of the game.  PI is good when you only have about 30 minutes to play, want to get into the game, but don't want to fall into the rabbit whole of joining a roam or starting just one more mission. For me, the real beauty of PI is providing a steady source of seed money for other industry.  My main is a FW pilot at the moment.  So he tends to lose isk, and what isk he does make is tied up in modules off in a low sec station or five.  I can get that stuff out to market now and then, but it takes some forethought and some specialized ships, and a fair bit of time.  I'm risk averse with my loot, and a CovOps can't really carry much and still be nigh-impossible to catch.  But there is a silver lining.

I can use my PI seed money to purchase building materials for items that sell for far more than the build materials.  In an odd way, Mabrick's proposition was right.  The 134m I made from the first month of PI has made me roughly 500m isk in the last month, but only because I used it to fund more lucrative operations out in low sec. FW chews through a lot of ships.  Ships need modules and rigs, and I can use PI money to buy the materials to make those modules and rigs.  Throw in some careful location scouting, and I have a trade/PI/stock route that manages to move everything along the circuit in the right order to save trips and make money. It's paying for my ship loss habit, at the very least.

So my final verdict on PI would be that as a standalone mechanic, it's pretty lousy and not a lot of fun.  Combined with some planning and other industrial endeavors, PI can make a decent income.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Making NPCs Matter - Blog Banter 46

"EVE Online is a unique piece of science fiction that is ‘participatory’." - CCP Seagull, December 2012
EVE Online is heading into its Second Decade with renewed vigour and a new development strategy. At the CSM Summit in December, Executive Producer CCP Unifex and Development Director CCP Seagull explained how future development and expansions will be broader in scope than recent "collections of features" stating that CCP "want to create something more inspirational, that players aspire to play."
With the return of Live Events such as the Battle for Caldari Prime, clearly the prime fiction of EVE is back in favour as part of this new thematic approach to expansions. However, EVE's story is very much a tale of two playstyles, with an entirely player-driven narrative unfolding daily in parallel to the reinvigorated backstory. Often, they do not mix well. How can these two disparate elements be united or at least comfortably co-exist in a single sandbox universe?

The biggest disconnect between the lore of Eve and the Reality of Eve, in my mind, is that nothing players do has much impact of the NPCs of New Eden, aside from making an endless supply of red crosses explode. The following is a rather fanciful reimagining of how corporations, both player and NPC, could give players tools to influence the continuing narrative of Eve.  What if Eve stock actually had a point besides corporate takeovers? Here are some thoughts:

Player owned stock is, generally speaking, a joke. You use it to hold control of your corp, and you might use it to provide voting rights for corp members and leadership. Although every entity in the game is a “corporation”, there is no real stock market in which players can act., and there are very limited reasons to ever do anything with corporation stock after making a new corp and giving yourself all 1000 sahres to prevent some methods of hostile takeover. Let’s change that!

First change: All military NPC factions become actual militaries instead of corps.

So the FDU, the Amarr Navy, and other such orgs get turned into actual, honest to goodness militaries without a corp ticker. They remain sub-factions of the main Empires, but get removed from the big basket of “corps”. I’m not sure how to handle Pirate corps/factions. I think there could be some interesting room to play with sec status here.

Second change: All NPC corps get a chunk of stock allocated to the public.

Probably less than 50%, and it goes into a stock market much like the normal market. If you buy stock, you get a dividend per share each quarter. You would tie quarterly dividends to a combination of mission completion and market activity in stations owned by each corp. This dividend could be based from the previous quarter. If the combined metric goes up, money gets paid out to shareholders. If the combined metric goes down or is static, nothing gets paid out. Players would determine the relative value of the stock, and market players could find opportunities to game the system, much like the real world.

Third change: Station control via NPC corps becomes dynamic.

NPC corps want to control more, just like players. Industry corps want to spread refining and manufacturing. Security corps want to increase their area of control. Shipping corps want to open up more hubs. Missions completed for each corp allow for a sort of faction-warfare style tug of war for control of station anchor points. This should be a slow, but noticeable process that players influence. It also gives players a say in shaping the universe. If your mining corp really wants to push for a station in their home system, mission for the NPC corp that wants to open up shop there. Hate those stupid carebears? Keeping killing them while they try to complete their missions, and force the station to close. This could also lead to more diversity in missions, allowing mining and targeted security missions to focus on goals besides just isk. Perhaps your mining mission becomes “Refine x ore in station Y”, with a larger LP reward instead of straight isk, and contributes to future station expansion, or flipping control of stations. Pirate players could take PvP-related missions to kill other players while engaged in mission pockets.

Fourth change: Make more diverse rewards for supporting NPC corps.

Let players choose between isk and preferred stock that allows them to vote for target systems. Perhaps preferred stock has better payouts each quarter. Allow turn ins for LP that increase your standing with NPC corps and give special perks, such as reserved station slots for a period of time, or better refining for your corp for a time.

Fifth Change: Player corps can be public, or private.

Public companies have voting and non-voting stock. Public corps would be traded on the open stock market. The directors could choose to pay or not pay dividends. Alliances could work the same way. This would open up a lot of investment options, and some political ones. It would make corporations actually corporations, and not just the de-facto guild or clan structures they are now. Alliances may demand a certain number of shares, or entice members with shares in the alliance to provide some method of input and leadership.

Sixth Change: Let players and player corps align with NPC factions and corps in a meaningful way beyond the current dynamics of FW.

There could be a lot of fun emergent roleplaying mechanics here, especially if NPC corps become dynamic. More militaristic corporations would provide a sort of FW-lite, allowing open conflict between players. Some corporations would be non-profit, non-violent affairs, like the Universities and rookie corps. In this way, players would be able to actively take part in the corporate machinations implied in the lore of Eve, in corps that are actually a part of the lore.


The point of all this is to let players use the corporation framework to interact with NPCs in a dynamic way. It would allow roleplayers, or just savvy manipulators, the tools to change the political map of Eve’s story. You might have to fight to keep your stations going. The NPC lore of Eve would become something players actively engage, influence, and react to. The disconnect between static Empire space and the ever-changing and developing world of null sec, FW, and WH space would be less stark.

Obviously there would need to be ways for CCP to keep their thumb on the scale and make sure a large bloc doesn’t just wipe out Empire. There would need to be limits to how far NPC corps could go, either in gaining or losing space to other NPC corps. But I have a feeling that enough players would contest each other out of desires for isk and fame that the system would find some sort of fluid equilibrium.

Eve has a huge swath of Empire space that just sits there, and nothing we do has any impact on the lore-based conflicts CCP has presented. Let’s change that, and add a little bit of reality to the static spacelanes.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Meanwhile, In Black Rise...

I had surgery a few days ago, so I missed all the fun in Enulari over the weekend.  Boo!

No longer will the Caldari be using Ena for quick jumps into Nenn.  Hikkoken, my favorite place to lose frigates, has no stations.  In fact, no systems that the Caldari control neighboring Nennemaila have stations, so I kind of hope the squids push back and take something.  So I'm fighting neutrals and lowering my sec status.  I've found a few fights there recently, and I just had a fun one that makes me like Eve.

I'm in Hikkoken, running down buttons, because why the hell not?  I'll take a nice pile of LP for hitting the scan button.  A neutral Atron hopped into my plex (because I own it, right?).  I was also in a kitey Atron, and we had a fun little dance.  I wasn't quite hitting enough, but he kept letting me get out of point range.  So I got out at mid structure.  GFs happen, and then he says "I need to learn to fly better."  I told him to not let me get out of point range.  We both ran back to Nenn, and met up in the same plex in Hikkoken a few minutes later.  I tried to be tricky, and loaded up some extra long-range ammo, thinking maybe he would be so focused on closing range that I could kite him just right and have a nice long point kill.

Well that failed.  I lost the Atron.  But damn if the little 1v1 wasn't fun.  And damn if it isn't nice to see people going out on their own just looking for fights.  FW has seen a lot of fleets lately, and I love them.  But it's also nice to get into little scraps where two people can just shoot it out without the inevitable imbalance of the small gang dropping in.  If I can't count on FW fleets to satisfy my PvP fix, I'll take the neutrals who wil.

The Atron is rapidly becoming a fun little frig to experiment with.  It has almost no tank, but they cost so little to lose that I now question myself if I last for more that 15 minutes in one.  Today's lasted for the better part of an hour.  I'm doing this wrong.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

PI Challenge - Final Results (Edited to Respond to Mabrick)

Edit:  Mabrick responded to this post, and I want to share/respond to some of his thoughts, as I may have not been clear about some things. 

  • I made isk, 134m isk specifically.  I did not lose any money on this.  HS PI will MAKE YOU ISK!
  • In Mabrick's initial post, he gives a specific skill set.  I DID NOT use this skill set.  I tried to note this below, and in the previous posts, giving my skills, and revised estimates for how much might be earnable.
  • Even given the above, based on my experience, Kao's results, and Mabrick's own writing, I stand by my claim: Mabrick's original and revised amounts per month, and my own revised amount per month, are false given the current state of PI in High Sec.
  • I did wholeheartedly try to make as much as possible, and was in no way trying to sabotage Mabrick's claims.  I only wanted to test them.
  • I am in no way opposed to the "passive" playstyle.  I have an alt that only does industry, and did this challenge.  It is my opinion that for a brand new player, however, spending the first 2 months of the game training skills that are entirely passive is not the best use of time, nor the best way to make isk.  Each player will have their own take on that, I only tried to explain why I thought other uses of your first 2 months might be better for a new bro.
I would like to give a HUGE thank you to Mabrick for being the impetus of this project, and for engaging in conversation on both ends of the project.  Go read his blog, but more importantly, go buy his stuff in game!

I began the 30 day PI challenge on 3/8/2013, Eve time.  I just sold off all the excess product I had as of 02:09, 4/8/2013 Eve time.  That's just over 1 month of in-game production time.  I had 2 days where mis-clicks in the interface stopped production on a planet, but I also ran R0>P1 production starting on 3/5/2013, so I will call it a wash.  Here are the final results of my efforts:

The net profit after 30 days was 134.7m isk.  In his original challenge, Mabrick claimed that a new player, trained to the skills listed below could make 500m isk in 30 days, in High Sec:
  • Planetology to Level IV
  • Command Center Upgrades to Level V
  • Interplanetary Consolidation to Level V
  • Advanced Planetology to Level III
I modified the challenge to shoot for 50%-75%, or 250m to 375m isk, with the following skills:

  • Planetology to Level IV
  • Command Center Upgrades to Level IV
  • Interplanetary Consolidation to Level IV
  • Advanced Planetology to Level III
At this time, unless there is information I am missing, or there is something I did fundamentally wrong, I am going to say Mabrick was considerably overestimating how much High Sec PI can produce in both cases.  Even ignoring the costs of setup, which would not be present in subsequent months after starting a high sec PI setup, profit would still only reach roughly 175m.  I derive that by subtracting the Planetary Construction costs from the Total Revenues.  Taxes would still have to be paid.

Mabrick's Original and Modified Hypotheses: False, by a long shot.

It is important to note that I did make 134m isk.  Based on the claims, I was just hoping for better!


Commentary and opinion time.

Let's look at a different metric, return on investment, or the ROI.  Simply put, ROI is your profit over your costs.  In my case this is about 208m in revenue over 74m in costs.  That gives an ROI of 2.82.  I made 2.82 times what I spent over the course of this project.  Let's compare that to my 30 day market challenge.  I invested 5m isk, and ended up making 1461.8m isk.  That's an ROI of 292.36.  For a little more effort each day.

Let's look at another option.  My skill-set takes about 13 days to train, and made 134m isk in one month.  In two months, the training time for Mabrick's skill queue, you could roughly train a given race's Frigate, Destroyer, Cruiser, and Battelcruiser, and the racial medium weapon system and support skills to 4, along with Drones 5.  I strongly doubt that extra planet and level of CCUs in Mabrick's plan will add ~370m to the total.  If we look at my setup and add 1 planet at the same rates, we are talking ~30m more isk.  Given synergies of upgrading product, lets round up the monthly profit to 200m.  How does this compare to missioning one level 4 a day?

Throw in another 3.5 days, and you can have Salvaging 4.  In two months you would be able to grind up to level 4 missions, and salvage them, getting 10-25m isk per mission, along with LP. 5-10 missions would get you the same net profit as my month of PI.  In a Drake, a level 4 takes about 45 minutes per mission. Do one mission per day, with salvage, and I would wager you will make at least twice what my PI efforts made, and possibly more if you are lucky and smart about selling the salvage.  Buy some basic rig BPOs that require no research, and you would do even better.  Of course, that would entail extra industrial training, but not 2 months worth.  More like a week to get to a decent point to make small rigs.

The point of my comparisons is this:  PI in high sec will make you some money, this is absolutely true.  It is also boring, tedious, and less profitable than almost any other active play style.  For a brand new character, taking 2 months to train PI skills is an utter waste of time.  A smaller, modified schedule might do some good, and strike a balance between passive income and active income.  If you are a new player and have access to nullsec or WH space, this may differ.  But you need a lot of specialized equipment to survive in WH space.  And the two months of PI training is time you won't spend getting the skills for those ships.

I would recommend any new player to train their ship, fitting, and turret/missile skills before embarking on a long PI train.  At the end of the day, Eve is about internet spaceships, and having fun in those.  Most of the rewarding parts of the game were built around being in space and doing things.  If and when you feel that you can take a break from the "core" skills, invest some time in PI.  It will make you a bit on the side.  But unless you are in the situation where you have access to extremely rich planets (read: not HS), 2 months of PI training is not going to get you as much as almost any other training program you could follow.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Double Play in a Three Way

Low sec faction warfare has a lot of wrinkles any time engagements start.  An interesting twist to many fights is that allies in one moment are you foes the next.  Amongst faction warfare pilots, you have those who have hit pirate status (pies) and those who either haven't by choice or those who haven't simply because it takes some time to drop your sec rating.  I joined FW with a shiny 5.0.  As I write this, one month in, I stand at 3.8.  Yep, I've become that evil bastard that shoots the innocent.  Sometimes.

Tonight we had a nice little fight that showed how all of these mechanics work.  My corp had meeting to discuss various things, and then we decided the proper way to conclude business was a gate camp in Akidagi, on the Ichoriya gate.  For those who are unaware, Icho is a HS Caldari system jumping into low, so it gets s moderate amount of consistent traffic from both Militias, neutrals, and pirates.  It's a good place to catch those who are not taking the proper precautions when entering low sec.  It's also a really nice place to catch Caldari Militia loners who don't bother checking intel.

We sat there for a while, and although we snagged a few kills it was mostly boring.  Break was called, we wandered back to Nennemaila, and I emptied my hold.  Then, after some slight reshipping, we started to go back.  Any time a decent small gang gets together in the Gallente FW scene the process of going somewhere without a set target means a bit of scouting, baiting, and general cat and mouse tomfoolery to try and get a fight or some kills.  We saw some cruisers and BCs on the Enaluri-Nenn gate, and tried to catch them.  Our initial attempt lead to failure, although I think one or two guys bagged a kill.  We had one pilot almost get caught out in a Tornado.  I warped to follow, and we both made it through with our paint jobs nicely nicked.  A third warped to the gate at 15 out, got a kill and then fell.

Upon returning to Nenn again, we noticed a nice fleet forming up, gave them the enemy composition which included Drake, Drake, Falcon, Tornado, Harbinger, Talos, and assorted cruisers and frigs.  Reship again, and the fleet warps to the Enaluri gate, about 25 strong.  We land to find a nice chunk of neutrals from Phoenix Co. we don't know jumping gate into the Caldari.  Everyone starts landing, and the neutrals join the Federation.  I've been playing with an odd long-point rail fit Incursus for fleets, and manage to nab point on the Tornado.  But the trade-off between Warp Scramblers and Warp Disruptors ends with the Tornado warping off.  The field is slowly clearing of Caldari as we bag the Talos and the Falcon, and sundry other ships.

Let's take a moment to reconsider the various people who fly in low sec.  Due to the way aggression and security status mechanics work, some pilots are always free targets, and it is very easy to become a target as fights progress.  This means your neutral allies might realize that the previously untouchable pilots in your fleet are suddenly ripe for the picking.  It also means a savvy group can ignore one side of a conflict, only to turn on their erstwhile allies once a common foe is cleared from the field.  Many of my corpmates left behind the safety of non-pirate status long ago, and our "friends" from Phoenix Co. took the this opportunity to try to score a few more kills.

I'm not sure how many Phoenix Co. pilots started in the engagement, but we took down three once the second phase of the fight started.  Due to superior numbers and quick responses, we held the field.  The results of the battle are a mess.  But based on that report, we held the field with 16 kills and no losses.  That might not be completely accurate, but I'll take it.  My hold held the remnants of a Harbinger, and I picked up a flight or two of spare drones left on the field.

All in all, a fun little fight.  Just remember that in low sec, you always need to be aware of how engagements can shift as a fight progresses.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Crossing Lines

Poetic wrote a post about a former CSM candidate that is apparently a rather unpleasant person.  Corelin wrote a rebuttal and covered CCP's decision regarding the issue.  I have no desire to elaborate more, as I do not want to give any more attention to this person, but it brought something back into the forefront of my mind that comes and goes.  That something is the language we use in Eve, and other games.

I will not enumerate terms, as they are plentiful and pointless.  But one term, in particular, has become personally relevant to me.  In the world outside my computer, I am a married man with a wife who is extremely tolerant of my gaming habit.  She lets me play quite often, and even lets me schedule things around Eve once in a while so I can make it to a fleet or event.  I've never gotten the red-box of wife aggro, and for that I am grateful.  Some of you may think this is stupid, but to all the other married pilots out there, you understand how great it is when your partner lets you indulge in just a few more minutes of fake spaceships.

One of the things my wife does like is listening to comms.  The personalities, accents and comments often make her laugh, and it gives me a way to share the experience with her that she can appreciate, even as a non-gamer.  It also helps her understand that I'm not just staring at a screen, I'm playing with other people.  She can understand the social aspect of the game, even if gaming is not her thing.  But I'm always a little on edge when I put comms on the speakers.  I promise I am coming to a point.

My wife is jewish, and like many religious individuals her religion informs her life and her identity.  The term "space jew" gets thrown around in Eve, along with many other terms.  I haven't had it come up on comms yet, but I'm sure one day it will, and I'll have to explain the concept to her.  The term is not really related to religion, but it is based on stereotypes and racism that are both very real.  It doesn't matter if the speaker is anti-semitic or not.  It is a hateful set of words.  Using those words perpetuates the underlying history of discrimination and hate that all such phrases perpetuate.  How do I explain that to my wife?  More importantly, why should I even have to consider that possibility?

Game are for fun, and for relaxing.  Our language can be coarse, and that's fine.  But there are so many delightful phrases that do not spring from real hatred in the real world.  Using terms like "rape cage" or "space jew" demeans the speaker and the listener.  These phrases are demeaning because they perpetuate hate.  They are demeaning because they lack creativity.  They are demeaning because they are based on phrases or actions that were created to belittle, demoralize and inflict pain on the people they target.

Eve players are a ridiculously inventive bunch.  This creativity is exhibited time after time.  Hell, we break the game and exploit the game, and figure out elaborate schemes and cons that can be insanely convoluted just to get a few more kills or a few more isk.  Let's use a bit of that creativity to come up with insults that don't rely on pointless hatreds and conflicts.

I'll get you started.  Here's a partial list of terms that are synonymous with greedy:
acquisitive, avaricious, avid, carnivorous, close, close-fisted, covetous, craving, desirous, devouring, eager, edacious, esurient, gluttonous, gobbling, gormandizing, grabby, grasping, grudging, gulping, guzzling, hoggish, hungry, impatient, insatiable, insatiate, intemperate, itchy, miserly, omnivorous, parsimonious, pennypinching, penurious, piggish, prehensile, rapacious, ravening, ravenous, selfish, stingy, swinish, tight, tight-fisted, voracious

CSM 8 Endorsements

I voted, on two accounts.  With two lists made of the same people in varying orders.

Here is my list:

1. Ripard Teg

Ripard is opinionated but thoughtful, and often willing to admit when he is wrong.  His communication skills are top notch, and I think he will bring a solid voice to the CSM.  He also has experience in almost every area of Eve.  Beyond that, I don;t think there is much I need to say about Ripard.

2. Trebor Deahdoow

I don't agree with many things Trebor has spoken for.  I also think he is unlikely to destroy PvP in Eve as some seem to think.  I am ranking Trebor as my first candidate not because of his platform, but because as the sole returning member of CSM7, his knowledge of what occurred over the last year between CCP and the CSM will be invaluable in letting the next CSM choose if they want to continue the work of previous CSMs or cast it aside.  Without knowing much of what happened behind the NDA, and based on interviews and podcasts I have lsitened to, I think it is very important to have at least one returning member on the CSM.

Less importantly, it will piss of Poetic Stanziel to no end, so that will be worth one vote in my book.  Not because I dislike Poetic, but because I think he needs to chill out.  Or rage more ceaselessly.  Not sure which is better entertainment for my vote.

3. Mike Azariah

Mike is an interesting guy.  He seems to swing between fiery passion and rational consideration.  In the interviews he has been on, he seems to have a keen interest in balancing the needs of serious players and those who want a more casual and accessible experience.  He also seems to be very aware of the political factors involved in Eve, and the game's development, even if he has acted more naive in public.  Overall I think his perspective will be valuable in communicating with CCP.

4. Mangala Solaris

High Sec PvP and new player experience through RvB.

5. Ali Aras

New player and female player experience.

******The Order of the following candidates varied.******

James Arget

Honestly, James is the one wormhole candidate who I was able to understand as having a coherent approach to his candidacy.  I don't dislike the others, but he made the most effort to talk to non-WH players, at least in my experience.  I think he will push for POS changes, which are sorely needed, and can provide a good voice for his niche while understanding concerns of other players.

Roc Weiler

FW experience.


Good poster, well spoken, and deeply concerned about the fundamentals of the Eve economy.  He may be Null Sec, but that's fine.  Based on his presentation in the interviews I heard, I want Malcanis on the CSM.

Nathan Jameson

Another good WH candidate.

Unforgiven Storm

High-sec Industrial experience.

Sort Dragon

Doesn't need any help, but I greatly appreciated his views on the interviews I heard.

Kesper North

Again, needs no help, but was also interesting to hear in interviews.


More WH experience, not a null bloc candidate.


Russian.  One of the only non-english speakers I voted for.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Learning Logi

Tonight was an interesting night.  Whenever I log in on Grimmash, one of the first things I do is check the fleet finder to see if any gangs are out and about.  While I have been trying, and failing, to figure out solo pvp in my frigs and destroyers, I find small gang to be both more enjoyable and more effective.  By effective, I mean I might have to actually put more ammo in my ship at some point instead of learning if I insured it or not.  Tonight started slow, with a few losses to bring my ego in check.  Two destroyers and three frigates found the jump gate to the great FW hunting grounds filled with booze and good fights in various ways on April 1, 2013.  I mostly blame my poor choice in engagements.  I keep warping into plexes in situations I think I can handle and finding out the friendlies already popped, or that I misread the situation.

But that was not to be my only action on the Day of Fools!  After licking my wounds, doing some *real* shit, and trying to find PvP videos to learn something from, I hopped back in game.  It seemed some BC support was needed, so I quickly allocated and fit up a nice Myrm, only to learn that we were instead going for cruisers.  Doh.  At least I have a BC ready to fight now.  Then the FC asked if anyone could fly logi.  Lo and behold, I can fly any T1 logi cruiser, and I can even fly the T2 Caldari and Gallente versions.  A few minutes later I was sitting in brand new Augoror with a few ideas and another Aug pilot depending on me.

Our roam starts, and we try to engage the Caldari in a few places, to no avail.  I ask lots of questions on comms to try and not derp my way into a nice killmail for someone else.  I finally get the basics of cap-chaining, repping and spot-boosting cap in order, just in time to jump into a TEST gang in Kedama.  We did ok.  Unfortunately for that fight, I had not learned the protip of assisting my drones to whore on the killmails.  Cue the sad trombone.  I get many thanks for being a not completely stupid logi pilot from the fleet, which was awesome.  It's always nice when you help your mates kill stuff and then get some credit for helping out.

Edit: Someone else like this fight, too.

The next fight I had learned how to get a little killboard credit for shooting friendlies with concentrated armor beams.  We found a bunch of squids hanging out in a plex in Hikkoken.  I'm starting to really like Hikkoken.  Jump gate, warp to plex, warp the gate, get bacon.  Also, get on the kill mails this time to prove I'm doing something.

Finally we ended up back in Nennamaila, only to find out a large group of Tornados were making our life tough.  At this point we had three Augurors.  The we had two, and only because the Tornados primaried the first, then split damage on the other logi pilot and me.  Internet spaceship strategery ensued, and I called it a night, saving my blooded Auggie for another fleet.

Logisitics is fun.  I really enjoy it.  Although it may not have the satisfaction of making things pop, I get to manage a lot of things, and I get to keep my fleet mates in their ships.  It also makes the roaming part of the roam more active.  Every jump and warp had a little mental checklist to go down.  Lock logis, establish cap.  Am I anchor?  Yes, get range on the proper target,  No, get orbit range on the anchor.   Lock up ancillary targets in case of hostiles.  Repeat.  There is a bit more than just listening to comms and trying to keep up.

I've tried to play healers in other games, and found the process to be much more hostile.  In WoW, everyone was expected to just know a completely different play style, and the margin for error was nil.  In Eve, the fleet listened, explained, and coached.

This is an odd characteristic I have noticed with Eve players.  The gaming media loves to paint us as
 psychotic sociopaths who delight in the anger of others.  I have found, through most of my Eve career, that even your enemies are often willing to talk if you approach them the right way.  Your fleet mates often want ot actively help you get better.  Maybe this spirit lies the persistent world of Eve, maybe it lies in the fact that you are fighting other people instead of mobs, but there seems to be some sense of a desire to share knowledge with others in many aspects of the game.  I think we lose sight of this quite often.  We have all seen the learning curve of Eve.

But what we do not see written about is the vast amount of players who want to share the game with others and help them get better.  Many of us want to answer questions and help our mates learn how this whole thing works.  We may fight them in a few months or a year, but we can only do that if we help people keep playing the game. So my thanks go out to the FCs and fleet mates and corpmates and even enemies I've played Eve with over the last few years.  I've only gotten bored with the game when I let myself get bored.  I've always found players willing to help me learn things.  The more I learn, the more I enjoy the game, and the more I realize how much more there is to learn in Eve.

A special shout out to Kirith Kodachi.  I've greatly enjoyed reading his blog, and tonight I got to fly with him.  Even though he was apparently too busy shooting things to broadcast for reps.  You are lucky I had you on the watchlist, Kirith!  Name recognition has benefits in some cases.  Kidding aside, he helped us get some intel on the second fight, and helped make it happen.

A final note, this is the 100th published post here at Warp to Zero, which may be why I'm in a reflective mood.  I never thought I would get this far in blogging about internet spaceships.  In the next few days, I'm thinking of writing up a retrospective on my time in Eve so far.  I planned to do that for the 100th post, but the logi experience almost seems more fitting.  Regardless, thanks to everyone who keeps coming to read my ramblings.  I doubt I would have kept writing if no one had bothered to come.  Thanks especially to the sites who have linked me, and the readers who take the time to post comments.  It is often said that Eve isn't that great of a game, but the community keeps people coming back.  I know that is true for me.

Friday, March 29, 2013

PI Challenge - Day 23

Results as of day 23:

Daily average profits are now at 4.28m isk.  We are getting close to the end.  No commentary today, just wanted to update the progress!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Battle of Hikkoken

Fweddit came to Hikkoken tonight.

Word came in that the Amarr Militia wanted to come over and fight.  I guess they needed a break from getting shoved around by the Minmatar?  However you look at it, they made it known when they wanted a fight, and we started preparing.  But not well enough.

We got about 30 pilots together, and sent out scouts.  Much bouncing through systems and plexes ensued.  As the Golden Glob was approaching one jump out, we learned they had significantly more numbers and organizations that we did.  10 logis, and another 50 or so cruisers.  We had about 5 logi and 20 cruisers with some frigates for fun.  A frantic align and warp got us out of Pyn and back into Nennemaila, and reshipping began.  ECM was added, the call was sent out, and we eventually got up to around 60 people.  Fweddit was nice enough to wait next door while we tried to make the fight more interesting.

After a bit too long a wait for some tastes, we undocked and flew to Hikkoken.  The dirty slavers had taken up residency in the Medium plex of the Cadlari pig-dogs, and we warped on in to have at them!  It started out nicely, but over time the greater logi support of Fweddit and their tighter organization began to win out.  Our target calling started well but broke down part way through the fight.  A few mistakes left our fleet a bit scattered on the field, and we reached the point where our DPS could not break the Fweddit reps.  Even though we could reship next door, the visiting team won the day.  To make matters worse, someone had the bright idea to put an fast locking Thrasher on the Nenn staition, and a few of us got podded while trying to reship.  Fweddit also had some ships that seemed to be dedicated to podding us out of the fight.  After my second cruiser went, I found myself in Athinard instead of Nenn, and that was it for the night.

A few lessons:
  • Fweddit was nice enough to let us even up the odds, but that's not the norm.
  • Signal calling is very important.  Both in this fight and a previous spat today, slow and/or confused target calling had an impact on the fight as a whole.
  • Keeping your fleet in a decent place for reps and targets is also key.  Getting ships strung out over 80km of space makes reps hard to manage.
  • Fleet doctrines and organization can make a huge difference.
Thanks to Fweddit for being good sports!  It was a fun fight, regardless of the outcome.  And double thanks to the Gallente logi pilots who kept my Thorax going far longer than it had any reason to.  That was awesome!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

A Week in Black Rise

We always hurt the ones we love...
I officially have a rank in the Gallente militia now, so I guess that makes me a totally legit faction
warfare pilot.  Right?  Guys?  Oh well...

I'm a week in to FW, and after missing fleets most of said week, I finally got in on some fun action tonight.  By fun, I mean I managed lie, cheat, point, and whore my way into some 17 kills, give or take, tonight, including my first solo killmail ever.  On a Condor that I'm pretty sure didn't know I was shooting him.  So that was awesome.

But the most interesting part of the evening wasn't my first solo kill during a fleet fight.  It was a particular Vexor gang that found out what happens when you linger too long in one place.  A mixed group of Fidelas Constans came for spin through Black Rise and got pincered between at least two Galente FW fleets and a whole bunch of folks who showed up.  It started out Innocently enough.  Chatter had been coming in about some FCON Vexor fleet that was tooling around in Enaluri and thereabouts.  This was met with mixed thoughts on my part, as the CFC has been sending some large battleship fleets through Black Rise, and foolhardy as I am, a lone Incursus is ill-suited to taking on a wing of much larger ships.

The fleet I was in was torn.  We had been chasing a group of Squids around for a while to varying degrees of success, and weren't sure if it was worth sending our small mixed frigate and shiny fleet up against the Vexors, which were known to be in the double digits.  Impatience and word of another FDU fleet stalking the FCONs pushed us over the edge in the end.

We jumped into Enulari, got a terrible warp in, and ended up burning towards a mixed FW fleet duking it out with the FCONs.  After much slowboating and warping in and out, the dust had settled, and the intoxicant-fueled Gallente fleets sorting out the wrecks hovering over the Enulari star.  Villore Accords, Monkeys with Guns., Sicarius Draconis, and a lot of unaffiliated FDU celebrated the accidentally-on-purpose death of a bunch of misappropriated Vexors.  I blame it on the Omen and Auguror FCONS brought.  We can deal with seeing Squid ships, but adding the Amarr to the mix with all those obviously stolen Vexors was an act too far to let even Squid hunting get in the way of.  They even had the temerity to bring a flight of purloined Thrashers!

We then celebrated with some low key gate camps that1 were wonderfully successful2.

I'm still failing at the very-small scale fights, but I'm starting to learn things, and not take all the damage in my face.  I'm starting to look at fits and understand some of the considerations that go into them.  Mostly, I'm learning to love the impromptu nature of FW roams, and the joyous risks taken in the name of finding things to shoot.

1 This wasn't even part of the camp, just stupid luck and fast responses by our fleet, which was docking at the time.
2 Nothing besides the cloak? Really?

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

PI Challenge - Day 18

More results for you:

Up from 36m isk in profits to 72m isk.  The daily average profit is now at 3.6m/ day, or an end estimate of 108m isk, in profit.  Interestingly there is a side to this that I have not spoken of:  What you will profit not including the initial costs.  Since my initial outlay of about 33m isk, my daily costs have hovered around 1.5m, and my total sales are at 133m.  That means the profit only including day-to day costs is 106m, or 5.9m isk per day.  That gives a final profit, less sunk costs, of an estimated 177m isk.

So month one may be a bit of a bust, but subsequent months will be more profitable, by a considerable amount.  I'm interested to see how this plays out.

I also moved a lot of ECUs around today to combat depletion, which cost 315k isk.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Odyssey Mumblings, The First

Odyssey is upon us.  As much as I’d love to make a crack a Jester’s great caravan of the stars, there are some other ideas I’d like to spin out a little.  With the hints in CCP’s release at PAX, there’s plenty of opportunity to speculate and put on our tinfoil hats!  I'll put some posts up over the next few days regarding the topics announced in at PAX, and my thoughts regarding those topics.  Today I want to talk about exploration a bit.

Discovery scanning.  We have no idea what it is.  I can hope that it is a system that makes the process of scanning sites down more enjoyable.  Currently the dedicated explorer is pigeon holed into a few core concepts.  You need a scanning ship, either a CovOps or a T3 fit properly.  If you are serious about beating the competition, you probably also have another account with a combat cruiser, again likely a T3, flying with you to jump into those sites as soon as you find them.  The choice of useful ships is rather limited, and the fitting requirements to take advantage of those ships narrows the selections even more.  The skills needed to fly the narrow range of suitable ships are not insubstantial.  The skills to utilize the sites are very specific and often have no use outside scanning.

This is not bad, per se.

What is ugly, however, is the capricious nature of scanning and the tedium of finding and resolving signatures.  It usually requires a notepad and some patience.  So how can CCP improve things?

First, I’d love to see a change to the dynamics of what ships are allowed into resolved sites.  Specifically, I’d like to see the mechanics work so that if your ship can scan it, your ship can go inside.  There’s nothing quite like finding a handful of sites in a system, and learning that your cruiser, battlecruiser, or T3 isn’t allowed in.

Second, I’d like to see dedicated exploration ships that can fit some of the scanning gear without severely sacrificing the ability to complete the sites.  While this is primarily true for combat sites, there is only one CovOps that can fit all the modules needed for a scanning roam without needing to dock up to switch modules.  Obviously there are balance issues, as giving a cruiser PvE or PvP tank and gank AND scanning would break aspects of combat scanning.  But giving each race a cruiser hull with a few more mid slots and scanning bonuses would go a long way towards making solo scanning roams more feasible.  Perhaps make cloaks and probe launchers a dedicated hardpoint?  Perhaps just change the way high-slot hardpoints work by adding specific role-only slots?

Third, and tied directly to the first two, scanning needs to be made more possible for solo roamers.  A dedicated scanner should be the fastest and best option, and PvE and PvP fits should excel at those tasks, but reasonable balance should exist that makes scanning and completing sites a one-ship, one-account activity.

Fourth, the scanning mechanics need a tweak.  Saved probe formations.  Ship-board logging of sites you have resolved or are working on resolving even if you leave the system or need to dock.  My ship can hand a neural-interface, route through all of known space, and control weapons, navigation, scanning, targeting, and EWAR at the same time.  It can’t remember how I launch my probes or the data loaded in the scanning system if I close the window?  And as for the D-Scan, if it can figure out what something is and how far away it is, why can’t I warp to that point in space?

Fifth, and most contentious in my mind, is that scanning should be less random in the rewards received.  Nothing saps my will to scan like clearing through a half dozen systems and getting nothing for days on end, only to hit the jackpot once in a blue moon.  I'd love to see low end rewards boosted with a corresponding reduction in high end rewards.  If exploration is to be a viable career in Eve, like mission running or industry, there needs to be a more dependable income stream that comes from it.

I'm sure some of these ideas are not feasible, and others, such as ships I consider suitable for scanning and completing sites and rewards, are open to debate.  But there are many changes CCP could enact to make exploration more interesting overall, and more enjoyable and accessible.  

Friday, March 22, 2013


I tried to go to Luminaire today, but alas, it was not to be.  A fleet of us got together, sorted out logistics, spooked some camps along the way from FW LS to Dodixie, and then we watched the Live Feed of the Luminaire event.  Once the Leviathan was at about 30% shield, we said screw waiting, let's go.  We had been holding back to see if the null sec fleets would pound each other down, but that was not to be.

We got to the Pettinck-Luminaire gate at were locked out.  For a while.  While watching hundreds of ships orbit a gate on the lowest graphical settings was a new experience for me, it was less than enthralling.  I honestly had more fun playing cat and mouse to move some Caldari gatecamps out of the way earlier.  We were making the route safe for some of our lowsec pilots to rally up.

As I was sitting at the gate, idly punching the jump button to see the error message, the gate briefly unlocked, and I was pulled through all by my lonesome.  My Myrmidon was immediately, although languidly, target, scrammed and popped by the fine members of various branches of the Goonswarm.  TiDi gave me a wonderful slow motion experience.  On the plus side I got my pod out.  Yeah, those Navy Cap Boosters were from the active tanked fit that I dropped for plates to use with our logi.  Who were having a grand old time on the other side of the gate.

I warped off, and a very odd thing happened.  Because I had somehow accrued the combat timer that prevents jumping, even though I was targeted and fired upon first (someone tell me what I don't understand about aggression mechanics, please!), I had to bounce around Luminaire in TiDi for a few minutes before trying to escape.  My pod, while in warp, told me I was being warp scrambled, and I was taking pod damage.  So I picked another celestial and started spamming the warp button.  In a very odd collection of moments, I went from being scrammed while in warp to being scrammed while in warp in a completely different direction.  I don't even know how this is possible.  If I am warping, I'm not targetable, or scrammable, I think.  Much less able to take damage.  But all these things occurred at the same time!

I got out.  I went back to Dodixie.

So overall, the whole Luminaire event was a bust for me.  No chance to see the Leviathan, although I was watching the feed.  I heard it went down.  Cool beans, but what else would happen?  It is Gallente space, after all.  The whole experience left me wondering about a few things:

Eve's interface for large scale events is terrible.  The hostiles I tried to target and interact with on the Luminaire Gate were so lost in the overview that the ships popped or warped before I could do anything.

On the Luminaire side, the gate camp was a clusterfuck, in multiple ways :).  I knew I would lose the Myrm, and that's fine.  I just had no chance to really respond to anything.  It took getting halfway through armor before I could lock or launch drones or fire.  I also incurred the aggressor tag somehow, even though I was locked, scrammed, TP'd and taking damage before I locked anyone.  I probably don't understand aggression in Eve well enough at this point, but it seems silly.

The overview really can't handle large events, either.  I have a few tabs set up just to sort friendlies, hostiles, war targets, etc.  It was still useless today.  The pod-saver tab worked, only because it has nothing in it save for planets, gates, and the sun.

From a player participation side, the system locks and lag and TiDi kind of ruined the whole experience.  Great kudos to CCP for doing this event.  I love the idea, I anticipated the hell out of it.  They publicized it, the community got behind it.  But in execution it pretty much fell flat.  The rest of my fleet never jumped through, and eventually turned around to regroup and head back to Low Sec.

Maybe next time, CCP should look at spreading such events out.  Make various fleets have to choose from a number of systems to engage in.  This would make the whole thing less node-intensive, and reduce the player counts in each system.  With one spot where everyone wants to go, the infrastructure ground to halt, and the larger blocs got to run much of the show.  Even more people were just stuck sitting at gates.

Overall, I'm glad the event happened, but I was hoping to play some role besides killmail fodder.  Cheers to anyone who got in and took part!