Sunday, May 5, 2013


Happy 10th Birthday EVE. No better way to celebrate than hanging out in Jita and enjoying 18% TiDi.

Also, CCP Gargant is my new favourite person.

[00:17:19] CCP Gargant > lag is a feature now

- Sam.

Fighting monotany

Every once in a while, boredom hits. You can only have the same fights against the same people so many times before you need a change. To shake things up, we war-decced an alliance more than ten times our size and started camping their high-sec home.

High-sec is such a different place to fight. There's no bubbles, plenty of stations to hide from pursurers in, and neutral scouts are everywhere. A lot of the wardec was spent in and near stations. We played station games because we got a laugh out of it, they played station games because it kept us hooked long enough for them to form a blob. If we docked up, it was either to find out where that sole red in local was hiding, or to wait out the blob.

The lack of bubbles helped the other side a lot more than it helped us. We eventually started using remote sensor boosted interceptors, but even that wasn't enough, since almost all of the people we tried to catch had warp stabilizers fitted. The percentage of people on Teamspeak who vocalized a desire for a bubble at least once? 100%. We missed a lot of frigates that simply aligned and warped off before we could get more than a couple points on them.

That said, industrials and mining ships made for great targets. I happened to get incredibly lucky one night, and caught a bunch of them in a row. The first was a Hoarder that I chased through a few gates until he warped to a POCO at zero. Being the nice guy I am, I held him there for five minutes while a couple corpies swung by to get in on the killmail. He managed to warp his pod off, but went straight for the station. Thanks to the docking delay that occurs when your ship pops, I caught up to him and popped the pod before his timer was up.

Industrial number two was a Noctis that blithely undocked from the station I was sitting on. He jumped a couple gates before running into the small camp on the other side that I'd called for when it became obvious where he was heading. He had a full cargo hold too: salvage, loot, random odds and ends. He must have been completely asleep at the helm to miss me chasing him into a bottleneck. The third industrial was actually rather sad. A Bestower warped to the gate I was sitting on, and I followed him through. When he decloaked, I was three thousand metres away. Lock, scram, shoot.

For a scout, I brought down a throw-away character who I'd trained to sit in a Venture and use Mining Laser 1s. Nothing like a little bit of camouflage to help stalk other miners. Even with their warp strength bonus, war target Ventures are an easy kill when you set up a warp-in at zero for a squad of frigates. Procurers, even with their impressive tanks, melt quickly when the same frigate ball lands on them at point-blank range. On the other hand, there were some miners who were impossible to catch napping. The moment a red showed up in system, they were in warp to a station. Some of us tried log-in traps to catch only particularily slippery Retriever, but the pilot had the good sense to never go back to the same belt.

The only time our war target ever gave us trouble was when we tried to upship to battlecruiser size or larger. Such was the price we paid for warring with someone so much larger than us. The largest fleet we managed all war was twelve, and it took fifteen minutes for things to end rather poorly. In the EVE variant of rock/paper/scissors, eight Vexors and four tackle frigates don't beat a thirty-some battlecruiser gang.

Since anything cruiser size or larger attracted a blob, I spent the wardec flying Rifters and Slashers. With my scout to provide warp-ins, I spent a lot of my time as the point man, both figuratively and literally. Add a number of cruiser and battlecruiser kills to my solo hunting, and April turned out to be my most violent month yet. Twenty-one kills more than doubled my total, and I managed it while only losing four Rifters and one Slasher.

Sadly, this means I'm no longer close to the worst PVPer in my corp. Now when I lose something expensive, people are actually going to make fun of me for it. *Sigh* Such is the price of success.

Yeah right. Like they didn't already do that.

- Sam

Saturday, May 4, 2013


I bought a Fanfest stream, but didn't get to use it all that often for various reasons. That said, I did hear and see a few of the big things. A week later, here's the six things that stuck with me the most.

- Tags4sec

According to the available literature, the pirate ships bearing the special tags are going to spawn about as often as hauler rats spawn. Being a null-bear, I'd done a fair bit of ratting in belts, and I've seen exactly ZERO hauler spawns. Since January, the only hauler spawn I've come across is a hauler wreck an alliance mate advertised when he needed some help scooping the loot. I sure hope they spawn more frequently in low-sec, or the tags could be collector's items instead of a viable means of increasing security status. That said, best of luck to all those who mine in low-sec. At least you'll be less lonely.

- New gate travel effects

CCP Soundwave hates loading bars. I hate unnecessary flash that slows down my client. If the new gate-travel visual effects work just as smoothly under 60% TiDi and don't cause any extra slow-down, then I'm A-OK with the flash. If a 100-pilot fleet jumping a gate under 60% TiDi causes lag spikes and a 20% increase in TiDi, then no thank you. It's undeniably cool, but at what cost?

- Ice changes

To sum up: Belts will no longer be static, the ice will be in new scannable sites. Once depleted, the site will respawn in 4 hours. The total amount of ice in high-sec will be reduced, placing increased importance on the null-sec ice for maintaining fuel supplies. Cycle times for ice mining laser will be cut by 50%.

Personally, I could care less. However, I've been informed that I might very soon expect to be given a Retriever and told to go mine ice in our null territory. Hurray?

- VR dogfighting

Of all the things recorded at Fanfest, this video may have caused the most nerd-boners. A) It's a virtual-reality dogfighting game using EVE ships, and B) an attractive woman (maybe the only one at Fanfest) got almost as much screen-time as the people who made the game/tech demo.

Aside from the desperate attempt to look cool, the video does show off a great bit of concept work. Add a few more maps, and some more fighters, and you could have something that would really showcase the abilites of the Oculus Rift. With the attention it's been getting, the OR might be the first VR device to actually succeed in doing more than sounding like a cool idea, and getting in on it early could turn out to be a great thing for CCP, especially since they love their....

- Merchandising

That's right, CCP loves the idea of brand expansion. The EVE store is back, we're getting more books, and there's talk of a TV show.

Mel Brooks said it best. It's where the real money's at, after all.

- Colonization

I saw a fair few complaints leading up to Fanfest. The blog-o-sphere wanted Jesus features. Enough iteration was enough, CCP had been iterating since Incarna flopped. Well, I'm pretty sure the 'future vision' section of the EVE keynote counts as CCP delivering a massive backhand slap and telling all the whiners to shut their cakeholes.

Colonization was delivered as a future idea, but it seemed like CCP already has a few ideas of where to go with it. Player-constructed stargates, for example. We got to see a picture of Caldari industrials shooting orange beams at a half-constructed stargate. CCP Seagull also mentioned capsuleers taking over what the empires used to own. NPC null and parts of lowsec becoming sov nullsec?

The ships we saw leaving Earth in the EVE Origins trailer made an appearance in demo of the new archaeology demo, how about some more leftovers from the initial wave of colonization in New Eden? Could we drop a new gate in a system on the edge of the known territories, and find a forgotten colony that was destroyed during the dark times?

Me like.

- Sam.

The big winners

They held an election, and almost nobody came.

That doesn't really matter much to me though. Fewer people voted for CSM8 than voted for CSM7, but I could care less. Of the top five people I really wanted to see on CSM, I got five for five, so I can't complain. As expected, the wormhole candidates picked up a couple of seats, well-recognized names nabbed a few, and null-sec candidates filled up the rest.

Link to results for reference:

Of the people I had on my voting list, here's the ones that made it:

1. Mangala Solaris
2. Kesper North
3. Mike Azariah
4. progodlegend
5. Ali Aras
7. Ripard Teg
8. Malcanis
14. Sala Cameron

... And the people I didn't vote for who made it:

Chitsa Jason
James Arget
Sort Dragon
Trebor Daehdoow

Not like any of those names are surprising. Chitsa and James were the top two wormhole candidates, and holers proved last year that they could get out the vote. Sort Dragon and mynnna were shoo-ins, and it seems that Korvin got the Russian vote. Trebor, well, I imagine any high-sec player motivated enough to vote stuck him either number one or two on their voting list.

I'm sure an all-star lineup like CSM8 will have plenty of bright ideas, but we'll have to wait and see how well things go, won't we?

- Sam.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Making a meaningful impact

".....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?"

I'm not really sure how to answer that question, the way it's phrased. See, I'm of the opinion that things are mixing well. The ongoing story of EVE (as written by CCP) and the player-driven gameplay interact without too much fuss. That is to say, they don't interact, and that's not a bad thing. I don't want CCP's story to change my gameplay, I'd rather see CCP letting my gameplay change the story.

As it stands right now, players aren't inconvenienced or forced to give up doing what they love to do by storyline events. While I like the fact that CCP has decided to move the storyline forward, I don't want to log on some day and find out that thanks to storyline progress, the Jove have invaded Jita and made it completely impassable to all traffic. That's certainly an extreme example, but it's the kind of thing that would illustrate story changing gameplay, as opposed to gameplay changing story. If CCP continues with storyline-advancing live events like many people have asked for, the events and the results of the events need to either compliment or side-step current gameplay, not detract from it.

The 'Battle for Caldari Prime' event which happened recently is a fine example of doing story advancement in a way that neither helps or hurts player. It was accessible to players who wanted to participate, and it wasn't a barrier to the gameplay of anyone who didn't want to. On the positive side: Adequate notice was given so that people could prepare, only Luminaire and the systems connected to it were affected, and it had a definitive result which advanced EVE's lore. The biggest complaints? The limited number of EVE players who were able to get into the system to start (stupid DUST bunnies), and the fact that player actions had no bearing on the final outcome. Would it have been amazing to see the outcome of the event and consequently the storyline of EVE be decided by player actions? Absolutely.

That's the one thing I would love to see more than any other going forward. Live events that are actually interactive, and making player actions part of the game lore. When RvB had a massive brawl in Poinen, they managed to crash CONCORD. How cool would it be to have that become an official part of the EVE story? A massive capsuleer fight led to CONCORD being forced to leave gaps in their coverage to respond. That's a pretty memorable event, certainly something that worthy of being noted in the history of EVE. How about the battle of Asakai? That was possibly the best player-driven event we've seen to date. There's tons of video and written battle reports, could CCP compile them into one historical record and make it part of the official story? The best events in EVE have been/are being/will be written by players, and it would be amazing to see the lore reflect that.

We've already seen CCP do this to a small degree. Next time you happen to be in Jita, take a look at the monument just off the 4-4 station. One of the fun things people did in Jita during the fallout after Incarna was shooting the monument (Rainbow lasers are pretty and you know it). In recognition of the event, CCP replaced the in-game model with a destroyed monument and commemorated its destruction in the new description you see whenever you 'show info' on it. Since Burn Jita 2.0 is scheduled for this weekend, CCP will have a chance to react to another player-driven event. Hopefully we'll see it included in EVE's official history.

If I could ask for one lore-related thing from CCP, I'd ask them to let player stories have an meaningful impact on EVE's history. They're already doing such an excellent job of creating stories, so give them the chance to make the stories official.

- Sam.

Edit 18/04/13: It was quite correctly pointed out to me that I had confused Monocle-Gate with Burn Jita. My bad.

What really caught my attention today though, was the 'True Stories' video that CCP released. The video opens with the words "History is made by those who write it." Perhaps it's a linguistics thing, but that's a statement I really disagree with. It goes against the point I tried to make about it being better for CCP to record player events as history instead of writing history and then giving the players a chance to watch it happen.

I'm a fan of the True Stories project, no matter how biased some of the stories will inevitably be, and I'd like to see that style of historical record become part of the game itself, not simply an out-of-game writing contest. The lore surrounding the major empires only affects part of the player base, but it makes up the vast majority of the official history of EVE. Where's the history and lore of wormholes and player-owned null-sec?

Finding time to fight

I was just sitting down to write my BB46 post yesterday, when an orange-tagged visitor showed up in local. I put a cloak on my tackle Rifter and went scouting. As more people decided to poke around, our visitor decided to pull out of the system, revealing himself to be a Loki as he moved off the gate he'd just jumped through. He was joined a few minutes later by some alliance mates in the same system.

We managed to nab an Arazu who tried to leave our home system through the same gate shortly after. He had a covert ops cloak, but we threw five or six frigates at the last spot he'd been. He was decloaked and popped rather quickly, but not before he had time to light a cyno. We all piled back onto the gate, and left our bait Drake behind to sucker the incoming bombers into aggressing while we got out.

Sadly, our Drake pilot had forgotten to fit an MWD in the mad rush to get the bait onto the field, so by the time he got back to the gate, a full half of their fleet had gotten through the gate and were waiting for him to come through. I sat cloaked twenty kilometres off the stargate and watched our poor Drake get torn apart by fifteen or so stealth bombers.

They tried camping us into the outpost in our system, but we started reshipping down. Our mix of ships quickly became a fleet of frigates. Undocking one or two frigates at a time, we eventually tried to bait them into going after a Jaguar. When they didn't bite, we pulled back and camped them into the pocket while we waited for the mining fleet we had up a couple jumps away for reship. Up came another ten pilots in Thoraxes, ready to camp them in. We moved our frigates back down into the pocket to try to push the bombers toward the cruisers.

We'd gotten a pretty solid idea of their fleet comp by this time, and they seemed to be missing one of the most important parts of a Black Ops fleet. We had a Loki, Pilgrim, and twenty odd bombers camping one of our outposts, but we couldn't find their black ops battleship anywhere. Finally, one of our probers got a hit on a Sin when he changed which system he was hiding in.

We charged back towards the bombers in an attempt to cut them off from their ride, and got between the two fleets in time to nab a Manticore and pod when they tried to scout their route to the Sin. With a large portion of our fleet now piling into the same system as the bombers, they decided to log off. Everyone who had a scanning ship available swapped up immediately, but the best scan strength anyone got before the log-offs completed was 80%.

I was a good night for my kill-board, as I was one of the few people able to lock and the shoot the Azaru before it simply melted, and I managed to nab the 80 mil pod of the Manticore pilot. My bright idea of the night was remembering to dock and off-load the Drake loot and my cloaking device before heading out to join the camp. Gave me the room to scoop the Manticore loot, and that pod would would have had a much better chance of getting out if my scan res was still getting -50% from the cloak.

I love :gudfights: when they come directly to you, and considering the number of times we've been seeing these guys, they're happy to keep giving them to us.

- Sam.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Power to the people

Did my voting tonight so I wouldn't forget before the polls close. There was supposedly an alliance list of who the coalition wanted us to vote for, but asking for it a couple times didn't produce anything. I had no interest in voting a completely null-sec ballot anyways, as some of the people put up by the coalitions came across as complete idiots either in print or during their Crossing Zebras interview.

So, here's the list.

1. Mangala Solaris
2. Kesper North
3. Mike Azariah
4. progodlegend
5. Ali Aras
6. Unforgiven Storm
7. Ripard Teg
8. Malcanis
9. Roc Wieler
10. Psychotic Monk
11. Travis Musgrat
12. riverini
13. Artctura
14. Sala Cameron

I'd say it's the top five that I truly hope to see on CSM8. Mangala and RvB are nothing but pure fun. They are one of the best things going in EVE, and I truly hope someone of that calibre makes it onto the CSM. Kesper is my second choice mainly because of how well his CZ interview went. He undoubtably felt fairly comfortable talking to someone who is a member of his alliance, but he proved himself an able communicator. Mike's on the list because he's the one person I can say I've actually conversed with out of all the candidates, and he's simply a smart guy. Pro's in number 4 because he's my favourite null-sec candidate who isn't in CFC, and Ali Aras is in number 5 because out of all the candidates on the ballot, she's the closest thing to a representative for my current EVE playstyle and character age.

Of course, the campaign process revealed some people I'd never ever vote for, even if they put a gun to my head. People like Trebor and James Arget, who have egos the size of Titans. Someone like Psychobitch, who only got through the primaries by spamming Jita local. Or, heaven forbid that he be elected, Kaleb Rysode, who said "y'know" 292 times during his thirty minute interview on Crossing Zebras (That's just under 10 times a minute, or once every 6 seconds). Yes, I counted. What are the odds CCP ever invites him to take part in a summit? I can already visualize Dolan beating him with a folding chair.

All the same, best of luck to all candidates. I'll be watching the HD stream to see mynnna accept his crown.

- Sam.