Impulse buying and other stories

It is an interesting time in EVE Online at the moment, with alpha clones supporting consistently high log-in numbers, citadels and engineering complexes sprouting faster than they can be destroyed and solid wars keeping players and main stream media engaged.  Yes, EVE has never been in a better place; our generation’s lament “EVE is dying” is dead.

It does beg to question what comes next.  The engineering complexes came out late last year and collectively we gave CCP a well-deserved Christmas break, not expecting any serious updates.  Sure, we now anticipate the release of drilling platforms that will serve as the end of the maligned (or loved) POS.  The death of pulsing, blue ball is neigh and while I fully understand the reasons behind the move, I will also be a little sad to see it go.  The whimsical soap bubble of safety, floating by itself in a J-system has always had the appearance of a makeshift hunter or logging camp promising safety and vulnerability at the same time.  Instead we get solid looking structures, mega cities that we can imagine filled with thousands of hopeful humans living at the mercy of us godlike capsuleers.  Especially in J-space, where would the survivors go when an Astrahus finally succumbs to an onslaught of foes?  It is not in human nature not to prepare for these events and I imagine the Sisters of EVE organizing caravans of rescue ships every time one citadel goes into structure.

Alright, enough philosophy.  How about my last weeks?

Well, its been one of those periods where not a single specific event shaped my online time but rather a bunch of little things that are individually amusing and collectively a mirror of what is possible in EVE, maybe even representative of the breadth of the game itself.

Here follows the summary of a few events in no particular order.

Slapstick

Listen up kids, don’t have lunch, serious conference call with colleagues, hunt an Epithal and stalk a POS at the same time.  Nothing good can come from this.  Trust me.  Yes, I did accidentally slow boat into a hostile POS.  No half measures here, I literally humped the leg of a missile battery.  The locals were amused, considering I had just missed their Epithal by < 2 seconds.  We all laughed, already replaced etc…   (grrr).

Baby bird

I recently opened a C3, found a lonely Heron scanning down the system and it didn’t take me long to do the obvious.  I tackled the pod, checked that the player had been around for a good long time and sent him home.  As usual, I sent mail asking whether the player needed advice what happened and a friendly email conversation ensues, the pilot was indeed an older one who recently came back, considers himself a noob and to top it all had been distracted by Real Life when I took him down.  This episode ended like they all do with me sending ISK to cover the boat (… many times over) and strong recommendation to join Signal Cartel.  Am I the only one who loses money when someone else dies?

Break and Entry

New C3, new chance to see interesting things.  Opened it up and found an Astrahus being in a reinforced timer.  Oh?  Maybe I can third party, throw a bomb, scan down a straggler, something?  I made a few safe spots and tacticals around the system but did not launch probes when all of a sudden the attacking fleet clusters around the defending structure.  They smell like nullsec players but the lack of local spam and porn links may mean they are indeed wormholers.  I never found out.

 

break-and-entry

Mostly Prophecies, 4 Guardians and all sorts of other stuff.  A well-placed bomb could have been fun but it wouldn’t have killed anything.  The defenders were not putting up a real fight, a flight of fighters maybe, some Interceptor warping to a POS etc but nobody was getting killed. I left to do other things.  In hindsight, Zkillboard shows no structure kill at all for that system and I wonder what this was all about.

Aspiring Mogul

As both of my remaining readers may remember, I long had aspirations to become an industrial maven, a Henry Ford, a Lee Iacocca, a Walter White of New Eden.  It never panned out simply because industry above all things requires patience, something that I am simply not programmed for.  My industrial ventures so far probably resulted in net losses simply because I don’t bother spending the better part of a week to fine-tune a spreadsheet to generate a ISK 0.01 margin by doing clever things like hauling Ore from the Outer Ring to a Wormhole, make things and then export them to Jita.  I actually do these models for a living (yes, I am good at Excel) and while I know exactly how its done, in a game it bores me to tears.  But my alt corp is tucked away somewhere deep behind low sec, mining away when I am on conference calls. Its a nice set-up nearly free of traffic and certainly free of suicide gankers (they would have to venture through a dozen or so active low / null to get to me).  The downside is that exporting stuff is a royal pain in the rear, done either with a blockade runner, white knuckling Mad Max style (others) or (me) with wormhole routes.  So, last week I had upward of ISK 1.5bn in minerals in storage when I found a high capacity wormhole open from my base to somewhere between Hek and Dodixie.  Joyful, I started to fire up the diesels in my Kryos and exported minerals when I realized that it would take me dozens of trips.  Knowing my (lack of) attention span, I did what a woman a smart person* would do and impulse-shopped!  But not just another 2 Kryos for my alts, oh no.  Meet Wallow the Pig, my ISK 1.5 bn answer to export ISK 1.5bn of minerals.  Wallow does it slower than the Kryos fleet, crushes the hole faster than a tank crushes a can and will likely die to the hands of some elite high sec ganking group.  Oh and its so slow that I can easily make dinner, cure cancer and plan my vacation between gates.  But ain’t he cute?

2017.01.14.14.29.49.png

Wallow the Pig

But what shall I make?  I have not done a profit/loss analysis and decided to simply make what I use.  Thats right.  I make Mining Crystals.  T2 Veldspar, Kernite etc..  Yes, I fully know how stupid this is, that I should maximize my return, run Incursions and use the ISK to buy etc.  Yeah.  Or I could just spend a plex and buy what I need.  I am not (space) poor but this is a game, so screw it.  I am having fun making mining crystals for my own use.  For the market I will likely make ammunition, not sure which ones.  Will I make billions of ISK?  Nah, but if I can make a little beer money to fund my afk-mining team, that would be nice.  First of all, I need to make enough money to pay for Wallow the Pig since I discount all ships as NRE, not assets.  I may a perpetual noob bumbling across New Eden but EVE taught me that much…

mining-crystals

 

PS. Did I mention that I have >100 mil SP?  Am I a real bitter vet now? Time to badpost on /r/eve?

100mil-sp

 

 

*my wife reads this blog and I value my life

 

 

Good Bye (Riddance) 2016

Well, Christmas is done with much food, alcohol, laughter and friends and while the tree is still up, the end of the year brings a more contemplative mood.  And rightly so, 2016 was a weird year, nobody would disagree with that.

Personally, it was a year full of work-related disappointments and frustrations but other than that, I have nothing to complain about.  I exercise much more, weigh (a little) less, am in much better health than last year.  Yes, 2016 has been good to me.

Gaming-wise, the three defining things this year were: Continue reading

Friends with benefits

As both of my remaining two readers may remember, I live in Wormhole Space, more specifically, a C4 with a static C5 and a static C3.  Just in case you don’t know what that is, this means that we have two connections at any given time plus whatever other holes spawn into us.  But it also means that every day we have new neighbors and since neighbors in Wormhole space are generally armed to the teeth we tend to fly with the assumption that everyone is out there to kills us.  And vice versa, of course.  But we do like our C3 connections since it is generally our supply line to empire space where fuel and sundries are brought in and PI and gas products are shipped out.  And thus, the other night we open a new connection and commence a little scouting before we commit the haulers when our scout reports a second set of Sisters probes and a T1 Imicus on D-scan. That generally indicates that a brand new player just had come in from High Security space and is looking for hacking sites which arguably are by far the most money a an Alpha clone can make / hour. Continue reading

Turkey shoot

Happy Thanksgiving to all Americans and spectators of recent events in this country, may your turkeys be tasty and political dinner conversation mostly non-violent.  And for the EVE players, may your beer be cold and your evenings be mostly violent.

My corp mate Storm and I had our turkey shoot already last night.  As usual, I log in just about when our EU team started drooling into their keyboards and generally is no use to anyone.  I double check the connections to our home – C4 wormhole, and decide to poke around in the neighborhood while chatting to Storm.  He is wrestling with his EVE clients which randomly drop him to a totally black screen.  I have my two characters out in our neighbor C3, there is a Fortizar (!) and nothing else but I have a hunch that someone is around.  Hard to describe but I do sometimes get this “feeling” after jumping into a Wormhole that not all is as quiet as it looks.  Irrational, weird, I know but more often than not, I am right so take that for what its worth. Continue reading

New player experience – Our job starts now

EVE Online is going “free to trial” with the introduction of Alpha clones that can in principle do the same things for free that we pay monthly for but with less powerful tools. This allows players to experience all that EVE has to offer but with no real monetary risk involved.  The EVE community is strongly behind this for the simple reason that more players = more content = more fun.  EVE online is one of the very few MMOS where human interaction actually matters and bringing new players into the game has always been a heated topic.  Other than the monthly subscription and EVE’s (unjustified) reputation of “Excel in Space for supernerds and sociopaths”, what really stands in the way of new players experiencing our Universe is the sheer complexity of the EVE game.  The choices that a relatively young pilot can make are staggering.  You can create your new character and immediately embark on a trip into the deepest, darkest depth of Sovereignty Null Security or Wormhole space.  Nothing other than players will stop you.  And we will, of course, which is what this is all about.  New players get easily confused by this freedom and log off, blaming the game for its steep learning curve and that “you can’t catch up”.  We know that this is nonsense but it has been a very hard reputation to kill.

I wondered, though, how do other games do this?  While we EVE players think we are special, other games have the exact same issues.

Progression-based games like World of Warcraft or Elder Scrolls Online make it simple, you roll a new character in an entirely protected starter area (“petting zoo”) and gently plink away at a few sheep or rabbits until you get the hang of the one weapon and the one move you have.  Then you level and progress. Incrementally, you get more skills, tougher foes, broader choices where to go.  The world opens up, increasing freedom is created by increasing the decision space and the player is gently let loose into the greater world.  This caring, nurturing approach is a combination of protection (starter zones don’t allow PvP) and motivation (specific tasks that a new player can accomplish and where failure is reversible).  EVE Online has a rocky history with security for new players in general and the concept of entirely safe starter zones has been discussed ad nauseam.  But in the end, “safety” doesn’t fit the narrative of the game and philosophically, EVE does not need to be Warcraft, we are allowed to be different.  And while there is nowhere safe in New Eden, brand new players are now guided along a much more specific path with clearer goals, engaging missions before they are gently set down on their own feet.  This is laudable, hugely needed and in effect the only realistic way that CCP can act.

How about free-to-play games?  I recently picked up War Thunder, a game where you pilot a tank or a plane, get dropped into an arena with your team and shoot at people that are on the other team.  The arcade style game promises quick 15 minute increases in heart rate, little adrenaline rush between grinding work conference calls.  And to be sure, the new player is given a tank that works as expected, a 5 minute tutorial on a shooting range and is dropped into battles where the goal is clear, the risks are zero and the sight of burning tanks is oddly satisfying.  I loved zooming around in my starter tank, sneak around a corner and wallop a shell into the unprotected rear end of an evil foe.  If detected, I could take a hits and generally run away.  Fun game!  And then I leveled and everything stopped.  Somehow, I was advanced into a new tier (not my doing) and found myself entirely under-armored and under-gunned.  Now, if I sneaked into a position and land a hit on an enemy, my strongest shell will generate “no damage” on my enemy.  More often though, I don’t even get into position but am one-shotted by an unseen tank literally across the entire map.  The game experience is excruciatingly bad and I simply serve as a feeder for those who are willing to pay some form of real life currency to advance their tanks.  Obviously, as soon as I find another game that scratches this it, WarThunder is deleted from my PC.

New players in EVE online will face a similar issue with they Alpha characters, if they ramp up the risk a little (i.e. venture into lowsec), they will be clay pigeons to the shotguns of established PvP outfits. Heck, even I may go hunting for foolish newbs who take their Ventures out of highsec in search of riches.  But here also comes the difference to WarThunder.  Once a new player is shot dead, generally the killer engages him with real advice, money and maybe recruits him to his team. For doubters, this scenario is far more common that one thinks.  Old EVE players are nearly compulsory teachers, we want new players be better, stronger and on our side.  This is the fundamental difference between WarThunder and EVE – the game, the mechanics and player base is geared toward engagement and interaction, without it, we’d have no New Eden.

Ok, lets head back to other games.  A while ago, I did purchase Elite:Dangerous and attempted the tutorials. Space, vehicle shooters, WASD, all seemed familiar.  However, then the tutorial was so bad that I could not for the life of me figure out how to undock and had watch YouTube for the most basic guides.  My friend Oreamnos flew many lightyears to watch me fail to dock, apparently a common occurrence when one tries to fly without a joystick.  I don’t have a joystick, sorry.  Nowhere did it say that I must have one and I was willing purchase one to improve the game, not to enable it.  I tried the game again last week and while the tutorials are much improved, some bug prevented me from docking and frustration ran high.  As a new player, I am frustrated not by the social interaction but but the sheer opaqueness of the game control trying to achieve my minimalist goals.

Now, this is something that EVE is at risk of also.  Aside from the New Player Experience, EVE is full of weird menus and occult wisdom how to operate it. Look at the Overview and how its set up, to be honest I still don’t understand half of its option. And yes, for some situations, the player must interact with these archaic systems and without the community, the new player will soon be driven off.

So, I do feel bullish about bringing in Alpha players into our game and hobby and I do believe CCP has done their part to facilitate a gently entry and a reasonably soft landing.  But it is our job to take Alphas by the hand, point them into the right direction and give them a mighty kick in rear to get them out of missions, mining and into exploration and explosions.

 

Attention span deficit

EVE Vegas is in full swing and watching #evevegas  and CCP’s stream makes me reminiscent of last year when I was actually in the audience, sitting next to the mercenaries and squealing with delight about announced capital changes.  Good times were had and I am sure my space friends are right now engaged in epic benders, smoked-filled rooms diplomacy and generally giving EVE nerds a good name.  Its even more of them this year than last and I am getting the feeling that EVE Vegas 2017 will be a thing for me especially since it looks like that an IOS (Illusion of Solitude, our Alliance) meetup could be a thing.

ios-vegas-2017

So, watching EVE Vegas makes me both nostalgic and highly excited about the game and the community.  So, why haven’t I logged in in nearly 2 weeks? Continue reading

Open Letter to nempxa 2z82

Dear nempxa 2z82,

I am sorry that I upset you.  You were harmlessly scanning a C3 Wormhole, surely looking for some hacking site when my Proteus decloaked next to you and exploded your ship.  I scrammed your pod but then let you go – catch and release was good enough for me.

I tried to convo you to explain that being stationary and decloaked near a wormhole is a bad idea but you declined my request, I sent you 2 mil ISK (twice the value of your boat) and  in return, you put a 1 mil Bounty on me.

 

Donation

Bounty

 

You are a 2 day old character with a decently fit T1 exploration frigate.  If you are really brand new to the game, someone explained to you the fit – that someone neglected to tell you that EVE is at its core a PvP game in general and in Wormholes specifically.  If you are an alt of someone more experienced you should know that bounties don’t do anything at all in this game.

So, with much love and respect, please take care in Anoikis, cloak up, talk to people who shoot you so that you can learn and for the Love of Bob, find a player corp who can teach you.