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.