Bits and Pieces

I woke up this morning thinking about EVE Online, though my thoughts are never well-organized when first waking up. No one should hold me accountable for anything that passes through my brain until after I've had my second cup of coffee. I'm now seated here before this blog, second cup in hand, and am now ready to share a few personal observations on recent developments in flying and dying in Internet spaceships.

Whose Opinions Should Matter re: 0.0?

I had recently started a long, tedious, rambling blog post, following up on my previous entry about the coming jump drive changes for null-sec space. Realizing that it was long and tedious, I mercifully trashed it, especially when it was pointed out to me via Twitter by none other than Council of Stellar Management member and low-sec denizen FunkyBacon that any opinion on the future of 0.0 from anyone who does not reside in 0.0 should be ignored.

This was in response to my retweet of a link to Evehermit's blog post about his perspectives on power projection, to which FunkyBacon replied that observations expressed by Empire residents on the state of null sec are irrelevant:

When it comes to changes to null-sec, I agree that the opinions of those with direct on-site experience should carry more weight than those who opine from afar. But to discard any outside perspective altogether seems unwise, especially since what happens in 0.0 affects everywhere else in New Eden, including high-sec, and at least to some extent, vice-versa.

FunkyBacon's position bothered me, especially since he was an elected CSM9 representative, but I felt a little more reassured when I saw this quick slap-down from none other than CCP Fozzie:

This led to some back and forth tweets, wherein FunkyBacon entrenched himself in the idea that null-sec is completely isolated from other types of space (except low-sec, apparently). That actually started some fun bantering, including this tweet:

NevTweetB.PNG

To which FunkyBacon wryly replied:

I must admit that I enjoyed trolling FunkyBacon a bit too much - and I'm glad he took it in good humor. Still, I'm disappointed that he's convinced himself that changes in null-sec will have no effect on Empire. By design, New Eden is highly interconnected and interdependent. I worry that his isolationist attitude may be pervasive on CSM9.

I'm somewhat comforted that Mike Azariah is there, who undoubtedly is providing a persistent voice for high-sec interests - and make no mistake, high-sec residents are every bit as interested in the emerging changes for 0.0 as any segment of EVE Online players, as they will be affected by them, at least indirectly. I am looking forward to reading the minutes of the last CSM summit meeting to see what kind of group dynamics are in play - those minutes are expected to be released by the end of October.

On Refining the 0.0 Long-Distance Travel Changes

CCP Greyscale: bold nemesis of the status quo in null security space

CCP Greyscale: bold nemesis of the status quo in null security space

CCP Greyscale announced further refinements to his nuclear bomb of a dev blog on long-distance travel changes, and they all appear to me to be quite reasonable. The very heavy nerfs to instantaneous travel remain mostly in place, but the noose around the neck of null-sec logistics was loosened a bit - jump freighters range got extended to 10 light-years, and hauling ships using jump bridges now get the 90% reduction in jump fatigue. Black Ops also got a bit of a reprieve by halving the jump fatigue effect of their portals, and by increasing their jump range to 8 light-years, giving a little more life back to hot-drops though they are much more restricted compared to the current mechanics.

Overall, most players' reaction to these changes have been positive, though there is still a significant minority who steadfastly disapprove - some to the point of at least threatening to unsubscribe. As for me, the more I read about the changes, the more I like them, though they are far bolder than I expected. Only the previous CSM candidate and Pandemic Legion fleet commander Manfred Sideous seems to have anticipated the degree of change to force projection correctly. Like many interested observers, I hope that these changes will make defense of geography in null-sec relevant again, which should result in more fights. It will be fascinating to watch how the current 0.0 powers react over the next few months.

Yep, that's me: Mr. Content Creator

I need to pay more more attention to announcements by the Red Frog Freight service before hopping in a freighter to do some space trucking. I had heard about a few gangs from 0.0 space coming down to Empire to play havoc with haulers plying the trade runs from Jita, but I didn't understand how many there were, until it was too late. Perhaps I should have realized that the giant swarm of CONCORD ships I saw while passing through Uedama was not an NPC pilots' family reunion. When you see a hundred white crosses gathered at a gate, that generally means that someone's been naughty, and that one should be more cautious.

Well, I didn't, and I ultimately paid the price for my hubris, losing a well-packed Charon to a Goon gang in Niarja, the choke-point between Jita and Amarr. It wasn't so much the billions in collateral that I lost - that just means I have to get a little more active in the markets for a while - it's the fact that I missed all the signs of impending doom that annoys me the most.

To their credit, this gank gang tried to contact me to negotiate, but I wasn't in the mood to embarrass myself further by begging for mercy. I simply blocked their convos and waited to pop. Fortunately, I was able to get my pod away safely, so at least my implants were spared.

I have a rule: whenever you get ganked in high-sec, it's always your own fault. This was no exception. I should have been more alert. I shouldn't have crammed so much valuable cargo in my hold, and made myself such an attractive target. If you don't pay attention, you will find yourself involuntarily becoming "content" in New Eden!

I now possess 18 kill rights for various Goons and some of their affiliates - though I honestly do not know what would be best to do with them. Does anyone have any useful suggestions?

On Phoebe

I paid $9.99 for the HD stream on CCP's Twitch TV channel to watch the EVE Vegas proceedings this weekend. (I also really wanted the special Quafe Megathron hull for my ship collection, too.) I'm primarily interested in the keynote address by CCP Seagull, Executive Producer of EVE Online, on the current and future state of the game. The next expansion, called Phoebe, is slated for release on November 4th, and I anticipate that she will highlight some of its key features in her remarks.

Besides containing the aforementioned changes to jump ranges, Phoebe contains several interesting improvements and additions.

  • Multiple market sell order creation: Though it will be generally ignored by many pilots, my favorite feature in Phoebe is the new "multi-sell" option, being worked on by CCP Punkturis. Though it has not yet been completed, this new capability will be a godsend to mission-runners and industrialists who often have to sell multiple items in the market. Currently, that has to be done one item type at a time, which can become extraordinarily tedious if you have more than a few things to sell. If you salvage and loot after missions, you definitely know what I'm talking about. I can't wait to be able to highlight a bunch of loot in my hangar, click "multi-sell" (or whatever they decide to call it), and instantly set up sell orders for all those at once. All hail CCP Punkturis!
  • Unlimited skill training queue: There is a lot of buzz about the pending capability to set up skill training queues that go well beyond the current 24-hour limit. Now that I've surpassed 100M skill points, I find I'm only training really, really long level V skills, and it will be a blessed relief to be able to set up a series of these and forget about my queue for a few months. Some people say this will reduce the number of log-ins per day, but I don't think that will affect gameplay very much, as those people who just log in to update their queue from time to time aren't really interacting with others and creating content anyway. This feature is a good move by CCP Games.
  • Compass display and... BOOKMARKS IN SPACE!: (I can't seem to write that without thinking about the "Pigs in Space" skits from the old Muppet Show.) I really like the new "compass" indicators to be added to the HUD while in space, which point to various locations in space around you. That should make it easier for pilots to orient themselves correctly and navigate to the right places. Even better, the ability to both make and see bookmarks in space is going to be wonderful, especially for pilots who rely on bookmarked places for their survival. Scouts and PvP combat pilots are going to love this new feature, for sure.
The ability to create a bookmark in space, literally on the fly, and see its location in space, is going to make a lot of pilots very, very happy.

The ability to create a bookmark in space, literally on the fly, and see its location in space, is going to make a lot of pilots very, very happy.

  • Revised invention: I wrote a previous blog about my enthusiasm for the coming changes to invention, and my eagerness has not waned. Invention needed to be streamlined, and these changes do it well. I'm going to be interested to see how the new variability in invention outcomes affects my Tech II module production. Based on my back-of-the-napkin calculations, I don't expect to see any adverse affects, but I'm looking forward to testing that assumption.
  • Notifications: I've been testing the new notification system that was made optionally available in the Oceanus expansion, and I like it quite a bit. You do have to fiddle with the various options to make it work for you, lest you enjoy being inundated in dozens of messages while you traverse the spacelanes. In Pheobe, this feature will be enhanced further. I recently traded tweets with CCP Karkur, asking her to add notifications for new contracts - she indicated that they were working on this and other new alerts as well. If you've not yet turned this feature on, I encourage you to do so. It's dramatically more elegant than the old notification messages.

There is more planned in Pheobe, but these are the announced features that initially caught my fancy. I'll be watching CCP Seagull's address and keeping an eye on the dev blogs, in hopes of seeing some more additions. I hope to see more module re-balancing, at least.

Don't trust the Empires!

There is a live event ending today - a contest involving the contribution of "blue loot" from Sleepers destroyed in wormholes. Read the dev blog from CCP Fozzie for the details.

After you've read that dev blog, now go read Rhavas' excellent analysis of what it all means, in terms of game lore. He reveals that this contest is a deceit, and the Empires - and especially the Sisters of EVE - are not to be trusted. Instead, he recommended donating the requested items to independent capsuleer Guillome Renard.

The contest ends today, and unfortunately it looks unlikely that independent donations will overcome the lead by the Caldari. Nevertheless, I applaud Guillome's initiative.

Too many EVE Online players are ignorant of the game's lore, and how the different factions can affect our gameplay. For me, knowing more about the background stories in New Eden enhances my enjoyment of the game. If you aren't yet familiar with the many layers of EVE Online lore, start with Mark726's excellent Lore Survival Guide - the stories are fun, and definitely worth your while.

Fly safe! o7

How to Lose a Marauder

I lost my beloved Kronos today - and it's entirely my own fault. I thought I'd share the experience here, in hopes that others can see where I went wrong, and learn from my experience.

Never Go Full Retard

I was running missions out of Lanngisi, trying to earn enough loyalty points with the Sisters of EVE (SoE) to buy one of the new Nestor battleships coming out with the Rubicon 1.1 update in a couple of days (January 28). I had been running SoE missions out of Osmon, but the LP rewards are slightly higher in Lanngisi because the system security level is 0.5 - as low as you can get while still being in high sec space.

On the other hand, lower system security also means slower CONCORD response time - but more on that later.

I had previously placed a clean jump clone in the SoE station. After jumping there, I drew the Recon missions from the level 4 SoE agent. Recon is an easy set of three missions that can be completed very quickly if you blitz through them without shooting anything, which is exactly what I did. I finished them in only a few minutes, and decided to request another mission, getting Gone Berserk in the nearby Tvink system.

After undocking from the station, I noticed an Imicus targeting and scanning me. Knowing that gankers are always looking for easy targets, I was used to getting scanned whenever I left the SoE station. I didn't worry very much about it. And that was mistake #1.

Never Go Full Retard.jpg

My Kronos fit had a few faction modules, and while it was far from being completely "blinged out", it was worth over 1.7 billion ISK - not a bad target if there wasn't anything else more attractive around. I was experimenting with different configurations and had replaced some standard Tech II items with faction guns and an armor repper, for a little more range and tank. I knew it was a little shiny, but not so much as to attract the attention of serious gankers. Or so I had convinced myself. And that was mistake #2.

You can finish Gone Berserk quickly if you shoot the targets in the right sequence, which I did. After disposing of the proper number of ships, the agent notification flashed on the screen informing me that I had fulfilled the mission objectives and could report in. I considered heading back to station right here. But another eight fat battleships beckoned at me to kill them off, and some extra bounty money sounded good. So, I decided to stay and collect a little extra ISK. And that was mistake #3.

I was in bastion mode, immobile but highly tanked. I dropped a Mobile Tractor Unit and started pulling in the wrecks, using my salvager module when they got close enough. After killing the remaining battleships, I considered packing it up and leaving the remaining wrecks behind. "Oh, well, I've gone this far," I said to myself. "I might as well just salvage the rest of them." And that was mistake #4.

I had Local chat open, watching for any "red negative" pilots in system - the most likely gankers. There were two in Tvink already, but I told myself I'd head out to a safe spot if I saw a sudden influx of them. Besides, I had micro-jumped 100km off of the beacon, so surely I would have time to escape if I saw anyone warp in, right? And that was mistake #5.

Suddenly, Local bloomed red, as 16 new negative security status pilots jumped into the system. "OK," I said casually to myself, "Time to get out of here." I clicked my bastion module off, and prepared to warp out. But I did so just as my bastion module ticked over into a new cycle, so I had to wait a full minute before I could warp off. Still, I figured I had plenty of time to escape. And that was mistake #6.

The downside of bastion mode: you can't move!

The downside of bastion mode: you can't move!

Eventually, Your Mistakes Catch Up With You

A long twenty seconds later, my overview was suddenly flooded with red blinking lines. I was still cycling down off of bastion mode, paralyzed. "Oh, this is not going to end well," I sighed.

They all came at me in Thrashers, except for a lone Catalyst, and were on top of me just as my bastion module switched off. I spammed the warp drive, but to no avail. It was a good kill, and well executed. I tip my hat to the gankers - they did their job perfectly.

I had just enough time to bring up my Podsaver tab on the overview, and prepared to warp my capsule off. But then I thought: forget it, I'd rather end up in Aldrat anyway. I was in a clean clone with no implants, and at that point, I didn't really care anymore. I let them have the pod, saluting my attackers as they bored in. The screen went white, and faded to black.

I did get to see the cool new death animation - something introduced in the Rubicon expansion and which I had not yet experienced for myself. But it was a bitter loss, as I knew it had been totally preventable. My greed and complacency had been my undoing.

Oh, goody - I got to see the Gallente version of this. Thank you, gankers! :-)

Oh, goody - I got to see the Gallente version of this. Thank you, gankers! :-)

The Post-Mortem

I studied the kill report and was impressed with what I saw. It was an assortment of Tuskers and other pilots, 17 in all. I took some small satisfaction in making my kill rights available to everyone at zero cost - at least others would get the opportunity to return a small measure of revenge on my behalf. But I'm sure that's no big deal to the victors - it goes with the territory when you are a ganker.

Not the kind of kill report you want to see very often...

They were a little unlucky with the module drops, however. Only one of my faction modules dropped, a True Sansha Large Armor Repairer. But they did get some decent meta items in loot from my cargo. From an efficiency standpoint, the gankers did well.

One small benefit from this experience was that my small 100K bounty that fellow E-UNI corpmate, Darian Reymont, had put on me as a joke was now wiped out. I no longer have WANTED emblazoned across my portrait - at least, until someone else decides to slap another bounty on me. It seems to be a required rite of passage in EVE Online these days.

I dipped into my ISK reserves and replaced my Kronos and fittings. If I wasn't a relatively experienced player, this loss would have bothered me a lot. But as they say, never fly what you cannot afford to lose - and fortunately, I can afford a loss like this, as long as I don't make a habit of it! This is one of the things that makes EVE Online great - you can fail but learn from your mistakes, and then pick yourself up to try again.

Why did I lose my ship? I had fooled myself into complacency in at least a half-dozen ways. I forgot my primary objective - earn enough LP to get my Nestor - and was distracted by the lure of a little extra income. I had convinced myself that no one would really be interested in my semi-blingy ship - clearly, that was a complete fallacy. I'd forgotten that many gankers simply like to go for expensive hulls, just for the thrill of the kill - the modules are just frosting on the cake. Perhaps if I had fitted more common modules, they may have selected a different target, but even that is uncertain. The point is: never let your guard down in EVE Online.

It's only paranoia if you think they are all out to get you - in EVE Online, they really are.

I should have realized that I was in potential danger when that Imicus scanned me the moment I left the station, and assumed I was a target at that point. I could have evaded the entire gank if I had just been more aware and reacted faster. But, of course, that is exactly what the gankers are counting on.

Learn from my mistakes, people, and don't make them yourselves!

Fly safe! o7

My Evil Half-Brother Speaks #1: For the Lulz

My main EVE Online character, Neville Smit, has a dark secret - he has a half-brother, Angra Mainyu Smit. While Neville is generally kindly and easy-going, Angra is not. Nev likes to hang out mostly in hi-sec - Angra prefers the seamy underside of null space. Nev likes to make and build things - Angra delights in killing innocents and doing unspeakably bad things to their corpses, which he collects in a walk-in freezer in the back of his quarters.

Nev and Angra have a strange relationship. Nev respects Angra, but he doesn't trust him. Angra likes to write Nev letters, for some unknown reason - long, rambling letters, which each read like a mad manifesto composed during a fever dream. They don't talk much - just at family reunions and holidays - which Angra always attends, oddly. The following is a record of their latest chat....


Nev: So, how's it going, half-bro?

Angra: You know I hate being called that, Mister Carebear. It goes alright. I killed another brand new noob yesterday.

Angra Mainyu Smit - Nev's evil half-brother

Angra Mainyu Smit - Nev's evil half-brother

Dude - you can't keep killing new pilots like that - I keep telling you.

Whatever. Besides, I was bored.

Where were you this time?

Duripant, outside the noob school. You always know when the fresh ones undock - always in a capsule. Like going outside naked. Heheheh - yeah, naked, and so vulnerable...

You're kind of creeping me out, half-bro.

The problem with killing a brand new noob is that they pop so easy, and they just regen back in station. They don't even know how to say anything in Local yet, so there aren't any delicious tears. They just get confused. I should convo them before I pop them - I gotta remember to do that next time. That'd be amusing.

*sigh* You got CONCORDed again, of course.

Yeah, but that's just part of the game. Nuttin' they can do until it's all over. Lost a Catalyst - big deal. I got a hangar full of 'em.

Man, you must go through a lot of clones.

Yeah, but they're cutting the price on those - didn't you hear? 30 percent off, starting next month. And low-sec rats are dropping some kind of new tags - you can trade 'em in to CONCORD and all is forgiven - they don't care who turns 'em in, I guess. I'll be ganking noobs and carebears all over the place. Oh, yeah, it's going to be awesome.

You seem really excited about this. Is this why you left null sec? I hear everyone is blue to everyone else out there now.

That's just a stupid myth! Some crazy idea made up by ignorant carebears like you - just to make you feel better about staying in high sec. You pretend it's all peaceful and boring in null, just like living in your nice, safe CONCORD-protected shell - you think it's all the same. What a laugh - only real pilots fly in 0.0, man.

I see - so, why not go back to null and do some real fighting, instead of killing noobs and carebears in high sec?

What? Where's the fun in that? Fighting real pilots with skill and experience? I might really lose some ships then.

But you *always* lose ships when you gank in high sec. CONCORD, remember?

Well, yeah, but they're always cheap, crappy ships, so who cares? And the lulz - oh, man - the lulz! Besides, I'm doing those noobs a favor.

How do you figure that?

Look, space is a dangerous place, right? It's the nature of the universe. Trying to pretend that anywhere in space is safe is going against nature. So, I need to remind those people of their rightful place.

By ganking them.

Exactly. Or better still, by making them pay for their ignorance.

You mean extorting ISK out of them - protection money.

Only the high sec miners. They're all ignorant sheep. Someone needs to shepherd them - and slaughter a few from time to time. Heheheh...

You know I'm a miner in high sec, right?

Don't remind me. How do you live with yourself?

Maybe I just have different measures of success than you.

Now who's talking crazy? You just don't know what flying in New Eden is really supposed to be like.

OK, enlighten me - what's it supposed to be like?

Fine - imagine there isn't any ice or minerals in high sec - nothing to mine. It's in all in the periphery, in null, where it belongs. Where the real pilots fly. The carebears don't deserve it. The money is way too easy in high sec.

Even better, imagine this: the entire cluster, with no empire - no high sec at all. 0.0 everywhere - and no CONCORD. No rules. Nothing but fights everywhere. And nothing to stop me from killing every carebear I find.

That's paradise, man. The ironic thing is, that's the way it really is - people just don't know it yet.

What do you mean?

High sec is a totally artificial thing. The goal of the universe is to let action emerge like it's supposed to emerge - naturally, from our basic instincts. And that's not gathering and building things - it's subjugating the weak and ignorant. And if carebears don't see things the way they are supposed to see them, then I have to pop them. It's my sacred obligation.

I see - so the only pilots worthy of being a capsuleer are those that see the universe your way. I'll bet you get a few arguments on that point.

My rule is that anyone who disagrees with me must shoulder the burden of proof alone, regardless of who speaks first. So, I have won every argument I've ever had.

Interesting perspective - you should go into politics. You'd go far, I'll bet.

Don't troll me. You know, I did think about running for office. I would have been guaranteed a win, of course, because I'm so popular. But then I'd have to compromise and get along with other people, which just sucks. I'd rather just gank people for the lulz, and tell the noobs it's for a greater cause. Saving highsec isn't easy. There will be times when it will take extraordinary courage and resolve.

And you have lots of both, of course.

Heh - you're pretty funny, Mister Carebear. I think we both know the real answer to that.

Yes, we do, half-bro - I still love you anyway.

Whatever.

Fly safe. o7