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.