Archive for December, 2012

Extra Vehicular: 2012 in review

This has really been the first full year blogging for me. My previous attempts to engage myself in this asspect of the community saw me soon burn or or run out of content with which to post. However in January 2012 I cam up with the idea of the Black Box posts. First introduced in the post “Black Box or how I learned to stop worrying and love the loss” I decided to keep a log of what happened to my ships during my some times brief ownership. The black boxes trailed off a little mid-year when I when through a stage of not really participating in fights. However now that I am installed in a new alliance getting plenty of fights, I hope to bring them back again, maybe with a few tweaks.

With a solid backbone to keep my blog ticking, more and more creative juices begun flowing in my head and my posting enthusiasm began to pick up. At this stage Arian had also set up a small blog which he was having trouble administering and finding enough posts for; A short chat latter and our blogs merged with his post Super capitals again…(again and again……) back when Super Capitals were actual considers inbalaned (yeah what ever happened to that?).

With these high-level observation posts in mind, I begun looking at the concept of economy in nullsec, with my blog post “Money For the Troops” which laterd turned into a series called “Blood Money” aimed at looking at the state of ISK in PVP and PVP in ISK. The second post of which even looked into the concept of Bottom Up economy vs Top down way before it was cool. Interestingly this is now becoming a more popular theme of conversation, where people claim that eve is currently a top down economy, and should be a bottom up one. I agree that a lot of money comes in to the top of our Nullsec economy, but only a tiny percentage seems to filter down.

Taking a break from high-level armchair economics I then posted a light hearted appeal for Bitter Veterans (which turned out to be quite ironic) and posted the first of my guides, this one aimed at exposing the most common mistakes for new players, specifically looking at mixing guns and tank types and why they are bad.

With the Black Box posts beginning to die off in July I tried a new regular feature; Firday Dev Watch, in which I attempted to distil the weeks dev posts down to a fine spirit of interesting things. This was great fun but ultimately turned out to be far to time consuming and faltered out later in the year. Its something I really want to bring back, but I need to find a way to make it less intensive work.

At this point I also got excited about the frigate changes resulting from tiericide and begun to look at and review the changes to frigates culminating in three posts by Arian, lore and myself comparing the pre and post patch frigates. Originally I planned to do more of these before and after posts, however CCP quashed that when they turned teiricide onto hyperspeed.

I also released that this point my most popular article “The true eve personality test” a parody of eve’s official personality test on their website. My version has gone through several revisions since then.

I also began dabbling for the first time in posting some ideas for the future of eve (somthing I claim to dislike, but still seem to do a lot) Looking at an idea for Pocket Carriers and my take on Ring Mining. I later added to my line up of ideas with posts on PvE Content (penned by arian) and improving Black Ops Battleships.

I also had my first attempt at speculating on the market for the mining barge changes with great success. September and October saw me burning out a little with the mix of real life and in game woes, taking a two month break from blogging, returning with my posts on how hard it was going to be balancing Battleships, something which proved incorrect when CCP side stepped the issue by not actually doing much.

Returning to my blogging post break full of vim and vigour, I posted a series of new items looking at the Epic Arcs something I will be continuing into the next year. 

During the year I participated in three Blog Banters: BB36BB40 and BB42; a look at iteration vs jesus features, eSports and a review of eve respectively.

I also wrote two guides this year on “Moving Shit into Null“, and “Logistics“.

In Summary:
Its been a rocky first year for the blog, and I am just starting to find my feet. I find it a lot easier to do regular posts these days and I want to revert to posting some of my regular features (Black Box & Dev Watch) while continuing to write on the spur of the moment. In the next year I want to expand this blog further, bringing my other two writers into the game a bit more.

Just keep flying,

Hark

Dusty Black Box: Ouli I (Purifier)

Even before I took my break from eve I was really slacking on the black box posts. Then, once I returned I began the process of changing corporations (and Alliances) which required me to either sell or move all of my ships. As a lazy bastard I opted for the sell and re-buy option. As a result I have a good few BB posts to put on here. So here are a series of staggered posts giving the final tally for all my sold ships.

Pilots Note:
Only one incident of note on this one; a great Vargur kill. One of our guys was out roaming in enemy renter space and came across this ratting. Well I say ratting, it was AFK in a belt being pounded on by some rats. Unfortunately his lone bomber (loaded with ammo the guy was tanked to resist) couldn’t break him. As a result me and a few others rocketed out to help him. Fun times.

###########################################################
#                   – Current Info –
###########################################################
#Ship Name: Ouli
#Ship Type: Purifier class Stealth Bomber
#Location: 995-3G
#Fitting type: T2 bomber
###########################################################
#                        – Log –
###########################################################

19/02/2012
– Purchased
06/03/2012
– Moved to RD-FWY
! Engaged Vagur: http://tinyurl.com/837t9wa
! Engaged Pod: http://tinyurl.com/6q8sfc3
– Returned to 995-3G
25/03/2012
– Moved to 28Y9-P
01/09/2012
– SOLD

###########################################################
# Owned for: 7 Months
# Kills value[Number]: 4,286,893,072[2]
###########################################################
#                     – End Log –
###########################################################

Epic: The Right to Rule

Well I must have been bitten by the Epic arc bug because it really hasn’t been long after I finished the Sisters of Eve arc “Blood Stained Stars” and here I am packing up my Macha’ and toddling off to Kor-Azor (cheaters note, you can remote accept the first mission from the location it will tell you to go to [Nahyeen], netting a cool 2m for 4 clicks!) to meet with the starter agent for the Amarr arc “The Right to Rule”. Good job I’m not a poor newbie having to grind my way to 6.0 faction standing with Amarr Empire before I came on this, or I might not have subscribed ;).

Before I start I’m going to quickly plug Jowen Datloran’s site containing the Epic Arc guides I intend to use for my journey (if I haven’t replaced this with a complaint by the end of the post, assume they were all present and correct and didn’t get me killed).

Having read the guide above for the Amarr, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that if I were to follow the Amarr Epic Arc I would be able to pick between the Amarr and the Sansha its a nice twist from the sounds of it, and I’m looking forwards to seeing where the story takes me.

So pre set-up:
It looed like the Missions are advanced Lvl 4 Missions, so with a fair amount of confidence I pack up my lvl4 Macha’ and loaded it with ammon and hardeners for the journey ahead. This fitting is able to tank the Extravaganza missions, so I’m not expecting to much trouble (ok so I am, but I keep telling myself its ok). The fitting is as follows:

[Machariel, L4]

7x 800mm Repeating Artillery II (EMP L)

Experimental 100MN Afterburner I
Adaptive Invulnerability Field II
EM Ward Field II
Shield Boost Amplifier II
Gist B-Type X-Large Shield Booster

Damage Control II
3x Power Diagnostic System II
3x Gyrostabilizer II

3x Large Capacitor Control Circuit I

I usually (and in this case am) run with a good mix of Hammer Heads, Hobgoblins and Warriors for drones, and of course switch out the hardeners for mission specific (expecting EM/Therm but who knows). We’ll just have to see how it holds up in an Epic Arc. As with my previous posts on this, I will post my thoughts and feelings as I go updating with a new post if I break the session.
Well here goes.
Ok, so first mission done, important things first 10m collected for 20 minuets worth of mission about the same as a good level4 mission (and this is only the first). Difficulty wise it was about what I expected I would guess around 600-700 incoming DPS. Only shit-stick for me was the amount of Tracking Disruption going on at one stage I had 6 TD’s against me and my 800mm AC’s couldn’t track a barn if it’d warped in broad side on. I really don’t know if I can fit my way around that, with 7 TS’s I doubt a full rack of targeting computers would have worked. Only thing I can think of to mitigate that is running a missile ship really.

The visuals were still pretty good, although if anything not as good as the SoE arc. These are level 4’s so maybe we could have escalated to titans and super caps? on the other hand maybe a carrier would still be pretty awe inspiring to a new level 4 runner. At least this arc hasn’t asked me to traipse my arse across the galaxy, only to send me to go look at something this time… pew pew…

I did also have trouble deciding to loot & salvage or not. For now I haven’t, because its just to much bother to haul around a Noctis, but the stingy side of me doesn’t like leaving all the free isk out there to degrade or get stolen. Maybe I will get a full rack of tractors/Salvager’s in the hold of the macha’, and fit them up when I can, then run along later with a hauler to pick up my ill gotten gains… maybe even the Salvage Drones that come out tomorrow may mean I can salvage as I go…

Fly like a tight bastard,

Hark¬

Expanding the IP

DUST 514 is going to hit the market (well the F2P market) very soon, and CCP is likely hoping its success could spell the end of its reputation as a one trick pony. With Dust now almost in the bag (at least in terms of release, success is never guaranteed) and World of Darkness deep into development (?); CCP should be looking at further ways to expand its IP and game portfolio.

I believe that with two very different markets covered CCP should be looking to reinforce their current holdings by brining in further games which strengthen their position in the market, while providing potential additional income streams. In layman’s terms: Create some easy to play games which hit the biggest potential markets, and encourage people to try out their core holdings.

IP expansion objectives (in rough order):

  1. Publicise existing products to the biggest market
  2. Encourage new players to try existing games
  3. Create new profit streams for CCP
Now for the purpose of this blog I am going to ignore Dust 514, for the simple fact that I really don’t know enough about it to make observations on game play expansions (or relocation) to other platforms. But for eve I have some thoughts:
Case 1: Browser Games
In this example lets look at a VERY wide market area CCP could expand into; the Browser game market. Other AAA titles such as Age of Empires and Command & Conquer have successfully explored this market and CCP has what I think is a great basis to create a Browser game on. Most browser games are based around construction, as the “build times” allow for a slower pace of game play bringing players back at regular intervals to refresh their build queues and units. Lets look at my idea of an eve IP browser game.
Players log in to create and manage a planetary extraction and production chain. Players are given an initial planet at random on which a command centre in placed. With this they can begin extracting materials from the planet. To begin with players are limited to extracting raw materials and placing them on a market (available to eve players & other PI players). However once the begin earning money, they can spend ISK on upgrading the science and capacity of their planet. This leads to further extraction plants and processing facilities being added to the planet over time. At the top level players will have manufacturing plants on several planets (advanced players may even have holdings in different regions, which require them to use eve courrier contracts to move goods around) and buy and sell goods on a regional sale to and from eve players.
Objective 1 is met: browser games can be played by anyone with a PC
Objective 2 is met: the browser game would introduce players who enjoy management games and industry to eve, and encourage them to jump into the deeper world of eve for further fun. We could get a whole new generation of industrialists
Objective 3 is met: Browser games can, and are monetised. Cash for extra build slots, is a normal occurrence.  CCP would need to ensure that P2W features don’t affect the eve markets but monetisation is a definite possibility.
Case 2: Mobile Gaming
The mobile gaming market is a very popular place at the moment. Lots of big game manufacturers are getting involved in “App” versions/spinoffs of their AAA titles, and the market is massive. This would most likely be the hardest type of game to tie into the eve universe as a direct affecter, as popular mobile games tend to follow the formula of easy access, simple games (not exactly what CCP is known for), but we could see games such as “Danny Dare the Planetary Archaeologist” a simple pause-able exploration game (procedural generated dungeons) where completing a level gives items which can be sold to eve/dust players for isk, which can then be spent on upgrading Dannys exploration suit.
Objective 1 met: Mobile games have a massive market
Objective 2 met(ish): causal mobile players are most likely not exactly grade 1 eve online players or even great dust bunnies. but if CCP could develop a popular high profile game it could bring in a few new players.
Objective 3 met: mobile games can be popular, assuming CCP can make it using very little resources and garner at least some popularity with mobile gamers. again microtransactions are very much the norm in mobile gaming.
Case 3: Browser game or Standalone
This one is really open to any platform as its pretty simple. We have all seen the NPC industrialist caravans leaving and entering stations. Why not turn these into a strategy trading game on another platform? I’d like to think that 90% of players find moving their things around the galaxy is one of the most boring activities in the game. So why not take the boring game play out of eve, and place it in a new context where people can enjoy the process. The game could work by allowing players to transport goods as a freelance logistics expert (or part of a logistics company). Players would start with a single automated hauler, and slowly upgrade their fleet and ships/ships AI to more efficient and faster models. The main aim of the game would be to complete eve player contracts for goods movements. But some money could also be made from transporting goods from region to region buying low and selling high.
Objective 1 met: A good platform would have a large market
Objective 2 met: Players who are interested in logistics and trade might be interested in exploring the wider game
Objective 3 met: Game purchases and or microtransactions are the norm in both these markets.
Final thoughts
I find the idea of eve expanding to further platforms, partly because it would give us eve players other ways to interact with the game outside of the Home PC environment, but also because it would help CCP develop itself as a major producer, and out of niche market they are currently in. Further more every new player in eve, is someone else to blow up.
Fly faster for just $5 extra!
Hark¬

Dusty Black Box: Giobhniu (Tornado)

Even before I took my break from eve I was really slacking on the black box posts. Then, once I returned I began the process of changing corporations (and Alliances) which required me to either sell or move all of my ships. As a lazy bastard I opted for the sell and re-buy option. As a result I have a good few BB posts to put on here. So here are a series of staggered posts giving the final tally for all my sold ships.

Pilots note:
This was my best ship for a while, as you can see from the amount of use I got out of it. This ship really made its money back. It was also my primary FC platform when out fishing, and was christened with a lovely Macha kill. Yummy.

###########################################################
#                   – Current Info –
###########################################################
#Ship Name: Giobhniu
#Ship Type: Tornado Class Battlecruiser (Teir III)
#Fitting type: SOTL (neut, tank & tackel)
###########################################################
#                        – Log –
###########################################################

15/01/2012
– Purchased in NG-M8K
– Moved to TGP-DD
20/01/2012
– Moved to 995-3G
25/01/2012
-Fitted in experimental ratting fit
30/01/2012
~ Assigned Fleet Flagship
– Flown to W-MF6J & Station Camped with Fleet
– FLown to S0u-MO & Station Camped with Fleet
! Engaged Machariel: http://tinyurl.com/7jukjlo
! Engaged Vagabond: http://tinyurl.com/72klq2u
– Flown SOLQ-6
! Engaged blackbird on route: http://tinyurl.com/7bu5brh
! Engaged Pod: http://tinyurl.com/8xtlykt
– Flown to 9OLQ-6  & Station Camped
! Engaged Buzzard: http://tinyurl.com/7qzaddl
– Flown to YE1-9S
– Responded to friendly SOS in I3CR-F
! Engaged Drake: http://tinyurl.com/7o2l2d7
! Engaged Hurricane: http://tinyurl.com/7o2l2d7
! Engaged Dominix: http://tinyurl.com/7cvueyd
! Engaged Maelstrom: http://tinyurl.com/7ne97rl
– Returned to 995-3G
~ Relinquised Flagship
05/02/2012
– Moved to D-6H64 to hit iHub
– enemy fleet Cyno’d in 90+ Abbdons
– second enemy fleet Cyno’d in 90+ Tempest
– Fleet safed up in POS
– Engaged iHub: http://tinyurl.com/7eu3yxl
– Engaged TCU: http://tinyurl.com/85u5byg
– Returned to 995-3G
10/02/2012
~ Assigned Fleet Flagship
– Moved to I6-SYN
! Engaged SBU: http://tinyurl.com/872l75q
! Engaged SBU: http://tinyurl.com/7e7mvhq
– Bombed (bombers killed by fleet)
! Engaged SBU: http://tinyurl.com/882spnu
– Fleet engaged by hot drop: http://tinyurl.com/73k6zx6
– Returned to 995-3G
~ Relinquised Flaghip
13/02/2012
– Moved to TGP-DD
! Engaged SBU: http://tinyurl.com/89b7chs
! Engaged SBU: http://tinyurl.com/7oywzse
– Moved to 8-SPNN
– Moved to 995-3G
18/02/2012
– Moved to W2T-TR
– Fleet engaged by NC. heavy losses on our side
– Fleet scattered
– Logged off
– Returned to 995-3G
04/03/2012
– Moved to 4DH-ST
~ Ship assigned fleet quordinator (Target Caller)
– Engaged iHub
– iHub renforced
– Red Alliance surrenders from the Russian Civil War
– Moved to OSW-0P
– Returned to 995-3G
25/03/2012
– Moved to 28Y9-P
04/03/2012
– Launched to defend local space
– Moved to KZFV-4
– moved to 2-KPW6
! Engaged Gorgon Empire
! Tengu x2, Scimitar & Sabre
! Shots exchanged
– Fleets disengaged
– Returned to 28Y9-P

01/09/2012
– SOLD

###########################################################
# Owned for: 8 Months
# Kills value[Number]: 3,811,949,831[14]
###########################################################
#                     – End Log –
###########################################################

Christmas Thanks

Another year coming towards its end. I’m not really a religious man, but I do believe that some things religion gets right; one of those things is the ritual of taking time to give thanks to our friends and families at least once per year (although I do think we should make our thanks apparent all year around, its always nice to make a special effort once in a while). With this in mind Gaming has been a big part of my life for the last 13 years and as such I consider a lot of things and people a part of my (extended) gaming family.

With this I mind, I want to take the time to give out my thanks to some special parties:

CCP Games
gleðileg jól; thanks for slaving over this game for so many years! You guys are nuttier than squirrel shit and I love you for it. As I alluded to in this post no one can make a game quite like you guys do. Sure we have had our up and downs, but at the end of the day, for all the issues, you guys (and gals) still make the best damned game in the world universe. Thank you, and keep doing what you do best: space ships (and being bat shit crazy).

My Gaming Group
Arian, Lore, Shelly(+Dean), Mini and Thunder; what ever game we have been playing together or apart you guys have made the difference between gaming as a pass time and gaming as a hobby. I’ve known some of you for going on 7 years now and we’ve kept talking nearly every night for almost all that time. Thanks to you all, and lets keep it going for another 7 years.

My old Corporation & Alliance
Virtual Warriors and IMP-L; I flew with you guys for a hell of a long time and got to know most of you very well. Despite leaving (again) this year, and now facing you from the other side of the battlefield, I want to extend my thanks for all you have done for me my time with you. VW was the first NullSec corporation I ever joined, and the people there taught me how to live and thrive in 0.0. They also taught me to love the place. I miss a lot of you guys (you all know who you are) and despite having to fight you, I wish you the best and I know that no matter what happens the Legion endures. Thanks (especially to DRD), keep fighting the good fight, and never give up.

My new Corporation & Alliance
I am trying to keep my Alliance/Corp out of what I write in my blog (hard for a NullSec writer) as I am still fairly new in here. That said you gents have made me feel most welcome, and I am thoroughly enjoying the good fights. Perhaps as time goes on (and my writing/spelling/grammar improve enough to represent you) I may elevate my self of writing of some of our escapades. Until then, Thanks for let me join you, and giving me a chance to bring myself to the next level of NullSec.

My Readers
Thanks to you all for reading this blog. Despite writing properly for a year I am still striving to improve my self and be worthy of the time you give to reading this humble blog. I am convinced that my English skills must be bad enough to nearly turn you all away. So thanks to you all, and please keep reading.

Other Bloggers & #Tweetfleet
Thank you to all of the extended eve community; all of your writing and musings have kept me entertained over the last few years. The blogs and tweets have always been my eve when I cant get online, keeping me up to date with the latest news and interest in new eden. Thanks to you all, especially those who run community groups & events, keep writing/tweeting you make the eve community what it is.

The rest of the players of eve online
The amazing and wonderful thing about the sand box in eve; is that we are all connected. Every last player in eve, in some way has affected my online life in the last 4 years in at least some small way. So thanks to you all (even if thanking you here is redundant as you can read this without already being included in “My Readers”… arrrrg paradox loop… brain hurty).

Fly Thankful,

Hark¬

BB42: Harkconnan’s Eve Online Review

Link to the Blog Banter Breif
This is going to a long one, stay with me people…

Before I begin if you are reading this while considering joining the game register and start downloading now no review can truly tell you if your going to enjoy eve online. That said it a big download, so you should keep reading, just to be sure.

Introduction
Every review needs an introduction, this way you get to know me, and thus can judge if my views an opinions match your own. I’m Harkconnan, an eve player of 4 years (with a 1 year break). I started playing, as every one does, in highsec doing missions. After just under a year of mission running I got bored and quit eve (playing other MMO’s [wow and others]) however eventually I got bored of elves and pixies and the call of space brought me back into eve. Here I found my long time cohorts were in lawless space (called 0.0) with an Alliance (Clan) so after a short exchange I flew out to join them. My main has called 0.0 home ever since.

In 0.0 I have participated in small gang warfare, I have lead roams (kind of like free form Raids, but in PvP form, think running around with a group of friends looking for pvp) and helped form and build an alliance. I’ve worked my way from flying small fast frigate ships all the way up to capital class carriers. I would consider myself and well rounded experienced 0.0 player, with a lot still to learn. With this in mind let us commence the review.

This review will use a somewhat usual scoring system. I have laid out a series of headings some of which I consider important to any MMO and some which are important to PvP only. I will score this game out of 100 (100 good, 0 bad), but this will evolve as I go along. starting with a Score of 50/100, representing the expectation of mediocreness I presume when I start any new game. Every time I mention something bad I will subtract from the score (depending on how bad it is) and every time I mention something good I will add to it. Each time this happens I will note the change in square brackets like this [-50] or [+5] (each bad thing can only be marked down once) and at the end of each paragraph I will show what the tally is and the amount the section changed it. At the end we will see how well it scores.

Interface & Controls
Lets get the biggest disappointment out of the way: new players, please understand that if you are expecting a control system similar to Privateer, Wing Commander or X3, you are going to be disappointed. Eve online is all about point and click. A lot of early players come into to the game expecting joystick and keyboard controls and come away upset[-1]. But don’t let this discourage you, if you come in thinking of eve’s spaceships as behemoths manned by a crew of hundreds you should be able to understand why the ships don’t have a “Fly by Wire” system. Think back to watching popular SciFi; Kirk wasn’t sitting at the helm of the enterprise with a joystick, and Darth Vader didn’t do barrel rolls in the SSD Executioner; they both pointed to a bit of space and said “Make it so” (well they didn’t Pickard did), and so will you. Thinking in this way the point and click interface actually makes a lot of sense [+1].

Moving on from the mouse controls to the rest of the interface, we can begin to see the games heritage;  launched in 2003 some parts of the game haven’t really changed much [-5], interfaces like the chat channels and the clunky corporation management pages really show their age. That said eve has a history of graphical and interface updates [+10] with the graphics engine in its entirety being overhauled in late 2007, and the last patch (2012) updating and elderly part of the interface (Targeting UI). The interface as a whole is however quite quirky, which I don’t think is either a good or a bad thing, and accentually sums up the entire game very well.

Total: +5 (55/100)

Early game
The equivalent to level 1-25 in other MMO’s takes around 3-6 months in eve, as it skill system is not based on grinding quests for XP [+5] but instead on time (both logged in and not). Some have expressed fears that this would cause older players to have an unbeatable advantage over younger players. Fortunately between the player skill needed to fly ships and the level 5 cap on any in-game skills younger players specialising can quickly outstrip older players [+5]. Indeed even when an older player has specialised in the same area, a new player can quickly level the playing field to leave player skill as the only remaining decider. Although eve has a pretty fair system for newer players, there is the sticky issue of the games community. Although I will expound on the benefits of the eve community at great lengths later, in this early game section I need to express its darker side. The eve community is ruthless and harsh to new players, the learning curve is famously steep, and new players are expected to keep up or fall off the curve [-5]. No place is safe in eve online, once you leave the almost-but-not-really safety of the starter systems, your fair game to scams and ganks. You need to be preprepared for this and ready to weather the harsh storms of life in space. To counter act this though there are many communities and groups who will help you getting into eve, and even a charity for new players, of course you need to find these first [+3]. Eve is a very hard game to get into, but those who do survive tend to have a great time.

Total: +7 (62/100)

Entry to 0.0
I said at the start of this that I am a 0.0 player through and through. As such I am pretty much reviewing my experience in the game, which revolves around 0.0. Getting into 0.0 was the biggest change in my career, and without which I doubt I’d still be playing today. My transition was pretty easy, I had friends in a 0.0 (sometimes called Nullsec) space who invited me to join them. Simple as. I think this transition was maybe a little bit easier than most, but really it represents the average transition [+5]. Of course you wont be able to join one of the top alliances off the bat (unless you come from an external community like Something Awful or Reddit), but you can have fun in a lesser alliance until you have enough skill and experience under your belt to make that jump. Joining a NullSec Corp/Alliance usually follows this process:

  • Make a list of potential Corps
  • Join their Public channels (think private text chartrooms)  and chat with people about the alliance to get an idea of the group
  • Pick one that fits and speak to their recruiter
  • Jump on their Communications server (TS3, Vent or Mumble generally) for an interview
  • Join
Sure its a little officious and convoluted [-2], but that’s for their and your protection, spies are a very very real worry in eve online. Its not as bad as some people make out. Once your in (assuming you picked a good group) you should find a very welcoming and warm sub community of eve doing everything they can to earn your loyalty [+3]. Getting physically out to NullSec is potentially a little more difficult [-1]. If you have a carrier, its pretty easy going, but as a new player, the chances are your going to have not much more than a battle-cruiser at most. My best advice would be to save up around 200-300 Million Isk (it’ll seem a lot to start, but its really not) and fly out in a pod, to by the ships you need out there, but chat to the alliance recruiters about the best way of getting set up, you’ll be fighting for sovereignty before you know it. Really getting into 0.0 is as hard as you make it, and less difficult the more you plan ahead.
Total: +5 (67/100)

0.0 Life
I’m expecting to find a lot of +’s in this section, it is after-all the bit that’s kept me playing all this time. I had to describe eve online in one sentence the other day, and I went with the following: “Its a bit like Corporate espionage mixed with cowboys and naval combat, but in space” and I think that really describes what Nullsec is really like. Let me break it down for any potential new players reading. Nullsec is lawless space, unlike Highsec, where a police force hunts down criminals for committing physical crimes, in Nullsec you are free to do what ever you want to whom ever you want [+5]. Space is held and controlled by player created and maintained Alliances who jostle and manurer to exploit the space to their own means. like the ultimate Player owned housing, in eve players can have player owned Continents [+10]. Alliances are formed, wars are fought and backs are most defiantly stabbed. Actually I should revise my statement its a bit more like feudal China than cowboys, or perhaps medieval Europe. Nullsec life has many many facets; keeping up with the latest political manurers [+5], fighting wars against the sworn enemy (“We’ve always been at war with Eastasia”)[+5], or if you climb high enough, leading a nation of 5000, pilots to victory (or defeat) over another nation[+10]. Its not all ponies and rainbows though. Certain game mechanics can make the process of claiming or defending your sovereignty of a system long and boring [-5], there is also a certain aspect of luck to getting the combat you want. The best analogy really is pets; A single player game is like owning a dog. Its a bit stupid but its loyal and you can take it out for a walk any time you like. A game like World of Warcraft is a bit like the Zoo, you have to wait till you have enough friends on-line to make the visit worth itt, but as long as its open and you have the friends its great. Eve is more like owning a cat, it doesn’t love you, it puts up with you. You can feed it all you like, but it will never come to you beck and call. Sure sometimes it will sleep on your lap and rub your legs, but if you try and pick it up for a cuddle when it doesn’t want it, it will scratch you face. In null-sec the shear numbers of people and logistical pre planning that goes into a battle means that you cant just jump in to combat when you want to (there are other areas of eve where you can of course). A lot of the time when your spoiling for a fight there just wont be any combat about [-5]. This is to the point where most organised alliances have an “on call” system, where available players are logged into a chat interface like IRC or jabber. Most of the time you’ll be logged out of eve and playing other games or doing other things. Then suddenly a “ping” goes out and alerts you a fight is about to happen and you log in. You don’t so much play eve online, as eve online plays you.
Total: +20 (87/100)

Combat
As I said above, in 0.0 you don’t necessarily get to pick when you get combat, but when you do oh boy was it worth the wait. Combat in eve is varied and intense. I am going to tell you now that I have done top level raids in wow, and nothing, nothing compares to the thrill of pvp in eve. Even the last 1% of the boss you have been trying to down for a month with only 5 members of your raid group left alive gives a fraction of the adrenalin of the smallest engagement in eve [+20]. Like the rest of the game combat has lots of different aspects to it, its more than just throwing slugs at each other through the void of space[+10]. There are weapon types, damage types, tank types, ranges, tracking speed, electronic warfare and that at the lowest level of abstraction (one vs one) zoom out to fleet combat and add; tactics, searching for the enemys co-ordinates to warp to them, battlefield manipulation (called grid fu), betrayals and even dropping reinforcements into the fight. You honestly never know what’s going to happen. Even better there is very little in the actual combat system which is truly bad since Time dilation (time slows down the more events are happening in the fight to combat server lag) fights have been amazing, with the only true downside being when the enemy decided to not show up (called blue balling) which always sucks [-1].

Total: +29 (116/100)

Community
eve is often praised for its amazing level of community which may seem a bit odd considering my statements in the Early Game section. But its one of many doublethinks in this game. The eve community is at the same time harsh and cold, and warm and welcoming[+5]. We don’t suffer fools, but we do nurture potential, if you mess up bad people will smack you down, then teach you how to do things right next time. Not only that, but in this game, if you really, really want to succeed you will need to engage with the community and research your moves to progress[+5]. You cant just log in and play, you have to join the meta game (for current eve players: meta isn’t just about spying you know, its about gaining information), and that makes for a great community [+5].

Total: +10 (126/100)

Average play session
Average is a very misleading word, the average (median or modal) play session for me would be:

  • Revive Ping
  • log in
  • fight
  • log out
but if you have read the Combat section of this review, you’ll know how un-realistic that is. Instead I will attempt to convey the Average Mean of my playtime by expressing what I do in percentages. Graph one is playtime on my main account (Nullsec combat). Graph two is my playtime across all accounts. All values are estimations on my behalf:
To score this section I am going to use Chart 2 giving each activity a fun factor from -1 to +1 and multiplying it by the number of hours played.
Combat – See Combat section
Score: +1 x 9 = 9
Moving Ships – In eve there is no real quick travel method, although carriers can kind of do this, it requires a bit of setting up first and isn’t exactly *click map and go*. every time the fights move region, you have to move with them. Its pretty boring tbh.
Score: -0.5 x -2 = -1
Fitting ships – This is actually kinda fun, but its not exactly combat really.
Score: 0.1 x 1 = 0.1
Waiting for combat –  I’m including moving to and from my home station to a fight in this section. Its kinda boring but also at the same time a good build up to fights. Assuming the fight happens. I would leave this neutral at 0 because of the anticipation, but because some times fights dont happen its gona get:
Score: -0.1 x 3 -0.3
PvE – Repetitive and kinda boring, but also required for money. It is still blowing things up (good) but nowhere near actual combat
Score: 0.3 x 5 = 1.5
Trading – My main source of income. Its a real discipline to keep doing but is in its own way a kind of pvp.
Score: 0.5 x 0.5 = 0.25
Total: +9.55 (135.55/100)
Final Thoughts
So there we have it. A 135.55 out of 100 score… well what did you expect? I have been playing this for 4 years with a total play time of over 150 days. Yes that’s an actual logged in time of just under a half year. You don’t log that kind of time unless you think its the best thing since sliced bread. This was always going to be a bias review but here is the kicker. This Blog banter will likely contain 20+ reviewers with a similar story, and lots of people are devoted to this game. The question is, “Is it for you”? well there is only one way to find out: Give it a go
Score Break down:

Starting assumption of mediocrity: 50
Interface & Controls:
5
Early game:
7
Entry to 0.0:
5
0.0 Life:
20
Combat:
29
Community:
10
Average play session:
9.55

Final Score:
130.55 out of 100

Journey to another world: Eve the Themepark

Come dear reader; let me transport you to another dimension, a world of mystery and intrigue, a place of inversion. In this world the trouser leg of time has split us from our world by the simple factor of a place of birth. Eve online was not born out of the harsh apocalyptically beautiful and desolate wastes of Iceland, but instead from the fertile grounds of California USA.

Its original founders (not Reynir Harðarson, Þorolfur Beck and Ívar Kristjánsson; but Ryan Hardon, Theodor Beck and Ian Kirtinger) were similar to our counter parts in many ways. The same entrepreneurial spirit, love of space, D&D and trade which has made the eve online we know and love. But not everything they create is the same, especially not eve.

The first and foremost difference (for an eve players point of view) was the release date of eve online. Ryan, Theodor and Ian delayed the development of eve online in order to take a College Fraternity trip to South Africa. As a result eve online was released in 2005 (not 2003) after World of Warcraft; two years made a big difference. Perhaps the best way to see this is to look at the latest expansion built by “USS Games”, Eve Online: Retribution.

At EveCon 2012 Henry-Victor Peterson Jr III (the current CEO of USS Games) announced that Retribution would bring a mass of new features to eve online, including balance changes and fresh content for raid players. Key to this expansion ($14 in any game store) was the new Raid Dungeon based around a familiar (to our dimention) name, the raid, named “The Swarm” and contains 4 new raid bosses who drop the Tokens for Tier 9 Modules (sold by CONCORD). As you will see from the Raid bosses, it would seem that Goonswarm in this reality is also a major content generator for eve, but in a very different way.

Boss One: GoonWaffe

This first boss is actually started as soon as the fleet enters the Raid Instance, initiated in the Ice belt of Ala (Sinq Laison region). Players warping to this belt can talk to an agent who gives them a mission to mine 400 units of Ice, once accepted players are instanced into the dungeon and the boss fight begins. Despite the easy looking nature of this first mission the boss(es) it spawns are actually a form of tank check for your raid group. Once you’re Fleet beings harvesting the Ice wave after wave of Thrashers warp into the belt and attempt to destroy your group. If you manage to survive this you will then be able to use the ice to jump your ships deep into Delkin for the second boss…

Boss Two: Sh1tp0st3r

Phase one of this boss is a simple tank and spank against a buffer fit drake (the boss). However once you get it to 50% shield, the drake will dock up in a station and begin local spamming awful memes and cliché phrases, while playing docking games. At this stage a dialogue will start between your designated raid leader (FC), and the final boss Mittens. While the fleet maintains 100% bubble coverage of the station containing Sh1tp0st3r, the raid leader will need to convince Mittens that Sh1tp0st3r is a shit enough poster to require Mittens to actually log on and ban him from Goonswarm (and Something Awful). If you are successful the next time Sh1tp0st3r’s drake undocks, he will be removed from Goonswarm alliance and thus be unable to dock again, allowing your raid to finish this, once again, simple tank and spank.

Boss Three: Assault on the Ministry of Love

Now you have awoken Mittens from his deep slumber it’s time to bring your fleet to try and destroy him. However first you must penetrate fortress Delkin, and assassinate Mittens Prime Guard, the fearsome Ministry of Love. This is your standard fleet fight with about 6-7 Carriers, 400 MWD drakes and a smattering of support Rifters.

Final Boss: The Mittani

This will be a tough one. The Mittani will appear on grid in a Nyx and begin a relentless assault on the remains of your fleet, supported by a mass of rifters. Your fleet must destroy the endless supply of carrier fighters, and rifters deployed by his Nyx while holding a tackle on him. At the same time you will need to protect an industrial ship who will ferry a supply of Russian Vodka (which you will remember earning in the previous Raid “Befriending XXXDeath”) into the Nyx’s fleet hanger. Progress on this boss can be judged by the monolog in local coming from Mittens, which will get more and more slurred as you shovel vodka into the Nyx. Eventually The Mittani will make a slight faux pas in local and you simply have to stay alive for 5 minutes while “Gaming Media Corporation” spins the event wildly out of proportion, and Mittens is banned from the game for 1 month. Unfortunately this won’t make a blind bit of difference to the Swarm fleet, who will continue to spawn until you die or run away.

This raid has no effect on standings but will actually increase Goonswarms Sov holdings.

Other features in retribution:

Bounty hunting: A new NPC has been added to some systems, these give out daily quests to kill an NPC across the galaxy for ISK.

Kill rights: we found a bug where players could attack other players outside of the battle grounds. This has been removed from the game.

Ship balancing: all the ships have been made exactly the same, except with different names on the Skills given by modules.

Now return to our world, return and enjoy our reality, where eve is not just another wow clone in space. Be grateful as I am that CCP was born will all its Icelandic quirks and produce the wonderful and unique game that we know as eve online.

The Safety Net

First off I want to state that I really like the Retribution Patch its a good example of how little changes can refresh the game and bring it forwards to compete with modern titles. But there is one glaring feature in the patch which I didn’t mention in my morning after post, the Safety switch. This was because every time I tried to explain in a reasonable way why I didn’t like it, I just couldn’t pin it down.

The thing is it doesn’t even affect me directly. Despite being a 0.0 warrior and a nasty blobber, according to my concord files (I asked for them under the Freedom Of Information act of YC2) I’m a pretty law abiding citizen. My two oldest my chars have 4+ security status, and my guns only ever get activated against enemies of the state(s), or in 0.0 combat outside the remit of CONCORD. I’ve been concordokend once (when very young) for activating a module on a friend, and if I remember right, I’ve only ever been in low sec a very few times. So actually I should never really have to turn off my safty system to fire my guns. So what makes me dislike it so much?

It arrived the other night, as many things do, while chewing the fat with my gaming friends. Chatting with one of them, we were discussing the crime watch flag changes in retribution. She was asking what the new yellow flashing symbol next to a player (in front of her) meant, I was explaining the suspect flag. While doing so I mentioned that although CONCORD wouldn’t attack a Suspect, it was free game for players. At this point someone else put in a doubt that this was the case (I’ve since confirmed it is from the patch notes), and this is when I hit upon my now rational dislike of the safety system.

“Oh, I’m pretty sure you can kill them when there a suspect, but if you want to check, just make sure your Safety is green and try to fire at them. If its illegal, it wont let you do it”

There it is. I’ve been tightrope walking the niagara falls of eves crime system for 4 years (mostly) successfully. And now CCP have come along and placed a safety net under me, my epic feet of not getting concord’ed (much) can now be equalled, and beaten by placing a keyboard attached to a PC playing an undocked eve account into a hamster cadge.

Is this just another bitter vet rant? I have passed well into the danger zone of bitter vet contraction. I’ve even since joined a Bitter Veteran Care Home. I’m just not sure any more. I would argue that the times I have crossed the line of the law by accident, have been learning experiences for me. I guess its a matter of learning preference.

I believe that I learned how to obey the laws of New Eden by researching and experimenting. If I broke the law I had the lesson beaten into me by CONCORD, and you don’t forget losing a ship as a new player.

On the other hand you could argue that new players can now be unafraid to push buttons and find out what happens. Before if a player was unsure if an act was illegal, they might have shrugged away from it. Now they can press the button and fear nothing more than a friendly warning flash that the action they tried to commit might have gotten them CONCORD’ed.

I just worry we are breading a new kind of player who isn’t encouraged to research about eve. Who doesn’t need to join a corp to tap the knowledge of older and more experienced players on what can and cannot be done. A player who is the mental equivalent of a hamster on a keyboard… gosh I really do sound like a bitter vet don’t I?

Summer 2013 Looking forwards

With Retribution now safely tucked away into the annals of history lets take a look towards the future and the next patch should, and might hold. I’ll split this into two sections; things I think will be in the next patch and things I think should be in the next patch.

So Summer 2013, what would I like to see? and I accept this is a pure wish list, not an expectation!

Modular POS’s – This has been in the works for waaaaay to long now. It is my understanding that the code behind POSs is some of the oldest and messiest code currently check into the CCP code base. And although CCP has publicly acknowledged the need for a serious re-vamp we are yet to see anything hinting at actual work being done on it. Either CCP has been working on this behind the scenes for a while now, or they are avoiding doing it like a lazy school boy. I’ll let you decided which, but either way summer 2012 needs to see these coming to fruition for reasons to obvious and numerous to describe.

Further Ship Balances – pretty standard expectation these days and I’m in two minds as to which way this should go. Either CCP should finish balancing sub capital ships (and giving them a place in Capital warfare) or they should balance Capitals to bring them down to a level where Sub Caps can counter them.

Removal of Structure Bashing – Lots of people have discussed replacement mechanics for sov holding (The best I believe is the “Use the space to hold the space” one). Even the CSM has identified it as a prime example of bad game design. Whatever the method CCP should be encouraging us to shoot each-other rather than static structures.

Bottom up Corp Economy – I believe The Mittani was behind this one, as are many others. I myself have written about it at length in my Blood Money Series and I believe that this needs to happen. ISK fountains need to be removed from the few people in charge of alliances and into the hands of the thousands of members of that alliance. A lot of people have referred to the Ring mining as the solution to this issue.

And in contrast what do I think we will see?

Modular POS’s – I give it a 40% chance of appearing. And I count in that it appearing in a “not quite finished” first iteration way.

Further Ship Balances – Were gona see it without doubt (unless CCP finishes it before the patch), but I doubt it will touch capitals in any way shape or form. The CSM now (at the time when CCP is picking what to hit for the expansion) has made it clear that they like capitals just the way they are, so I doubt any form of counter will come out. I expect instead it will be T2 iterations like the Command ship changes we have already see bandied about in dev blogs.

New battleships – This one I’m going out on a limb with this one. The diagram in the dev blog above clearly shows that there are 4 gaps in the Battleship line up:

I expect CCP to fill this in the summer expansion with a new Caldari Attack ship and new Disruption ships for Minmattar, Amarr and Galentte. I could argue for another two Battleships (support and Exploration) for each race, but I’m not sure that fits with CCPs vision of the BS lineup.

Without any description I think the following are also likely in the next expansion: old code re-factoring and new player experience iteration.

What do you guys think will be in? and what do you want to see?

Fly expectantly

hark¬