Archive for May, 2013

Personal Exploration

Much like distilling, making what I want to say fit in 140 chars, can take a good few days.

Much like distilling, making what I want to say fit in 140 chars, can take a good few days.

In the last few days I have been talking a lot about the new exploration mechanics (and the changes being made to them). All the posts can be found below:

  1. personal exploration
  2. explorin gentitlement
  3. exploring exploration

 

Twitter really isn’t the best medium for communication. I never really got the bug for it, and to be honest I hate having to try to limit my expression to an arbitrary character limit. I hear the argument that imposing the limit distills the information to get you the interesting facts fast, but I disagree. Can anyone truly argue that this is better than the book?

 

“Little, hairy people + wizard/dwarves/elves take a really long time to triumph over evil.”

 

Could a religion (for better or worse) have sprouted from:

 

“God makes world. God makes people, gets angry with them & makes them follow rules.”

 

Source http://memeburn.com/2012/06/10-famous-novels-transformed-into-tweets/

 

I don’t think so. But I Digress. I do have a presence on twitter, partly because it is useful for publicising this blog, but mostly because I believe that twitter & tweetfleet are an important part of the eve community/meta. And both community and meta are important to me. The reason why I bring this up is because I had a good (if character limited) conversation with @MagnificentHaze yesterday evening surrounding my post on the Exploration changes (no I am not as mad as I made out honest). You can find the full conversation on twitter (if you know how to use it better than I do). But it came down to a discussion on what was, and what was not good multiplayer experience.

[edit] Thanks again to Haze, who has given me a link to our conversation: https://t.co/gfwdpASGqR

 

In the end I described how we as a group run the sites, and why I feel that the Loot spray was good multiplayer. First let me reiterate why the loot spray was good for single players.

  • It made you make tactical decisions on what to scope (even more so now that containers are named for what’s in them).
  • It required you to be a good manual flying pilot.

 

Ok so now how we run the sites. As a group of three we fly from system to system scanning down signatures, if there are more than one in a system, we split them up to scan them down faster. Once we have a site we warp in and power towards the can. When we arrive we divide the cans up between us, and all start hacking at the same time. When someone finds their system core they generally say something to the effect of “I’ve got it, ready for me to pop?”. This way we don’t all finish the hack at the same time and get overwhelmed. Assuming everyone says yes, the person who found to core kills is, and the rest of us ignore our hacking screens for a few moments to help tractor loot. This continues until all the containers are popped and the site is done. We do have to be careful about not moving more than 5-6K off the active hacking sites (as this explodes them), but good piloting skills makes this easy enough to do. We also have to concentrate on not tractoring the same target (as this locks you out for a cycle), and ensuring we catch all the fastest moving cans before they stray too far. As a result of our teamwork we complete the site 3 times as fast as a solo player, and scoop 100% of the loot as opposed to the 50-60% of a solo player.

 

I just don’t understand how the change is an improvement over what the loot spray brought to the table.

 

 

Exploring Entitlement

In the last few days I have been talking a lot about the new exploration mechanics (and the changes being made to them). All the posts can be found below:

  1. personal exploration
  2. explorin gentitlement
  3. exploring exploration

So… Things have moved in the prenatal world of Odyssey Exploration and I am afraid to say that in my opinion some of the changes are for the worse. Let’s aim for the jugular first off: Loot Spew.

 

Previously in exploration when you hacked a container it would give you a seconds warning, and then ejaculate loot out in one, sometimes two directions. These directions appeared to be pretty random, and they did cause some issues (as I mentioned in the previous post). My reaction to this was that CCP should simply reduce the number of structures in the vicinity of the Loot throwers and use this as an excuse to find and refine rouge clipping issues, to make the sites less frustrating.

 

entitlementHowever, there was a more sinister plot afoot. You see a large part of our community feels that they are entitled to everything, now, if not sooner. It seems that to them the idea that they might have to fly tactically to collect loot, or make choices about which cans to grab, or worse yet, share the loot was just horrid. So using the Structure issue as a soap box, they seem to have persuaded CCP to slow down the loot spew to a crawl. Seriously!? This really sucks, I liked the fact that the can farted loot out at a rapid pace. I liked that the game encouraged pilots to be good at manual flying to collect maximum loot. Now we have to just sit there like a fat man at a buffet selecting which greasy morsel to shovel into our lazy mouths. Worse still this hasn’t even fixed the issue of the invisible clipping, it’s still there! The old method of spewing loot was also a further encouragement to bring friends. Our group would bring three people and position ourselves around the structure to ensure that at least someone was close to the main spew, ensuring we would collect all the loot. Now it seems one person can collect 80% of the loot by just sitting wherever they are, meaning that its less efficient to bring friends. As you might be able to tell, I am a little bit pissed by this; mostly because I saw the exploration changes as a step in the right direction. Content enhanced by group play, which encouraged pilots to develop useful skills for PvP.

 

imagesOk… Deep breaths hark.. That’s it. Ok.. Wooosaaaah.. Wossaaaaah… oook…. *sigh* With that done, let’s look at some of the other updates.

 

It looks like hacking itself is being made a little bit easier, while at the same time reducing the bonuses on Cov-ops frigates (another reason the last post was out of date, we didn’t even realise the cov-ops frigs got a bonus).

 

It’s also worth noting that currently the rigs that boost Hacking and Archaeology are different, so to get a bonus to exploration, you will need two rig slots on your ship.

 

Anyway, that’s the latest from the forums, I really hope that CCP changes their minds on the spew, or at least iterates on it in another patch.

 

Fly rubbing your earlobe,

 

Hark

 

Exploring Exploration

The following post was written a few days ago, and is sadly a bit out of date now. Later today I will put out a post detailing the changes which have been made to exploration, and the state of play as of today.

In the last few days I have been talking a lot about the new exploration mechanics (and the changes being made to them). All the posts can be found below:

  1. personal exploration
  2. explorin gentitlement
  3. exploring exploration

With only a few days to go now before  Odyssey hits the live servers the Dirtys group set out on SiSi to take a look at the newly refurbished profession: Exploration. We have decided to take a short break from Faction Warfare post expansion in order to go and have a look at what we can make with the new sites. Of course as the man with the spreadsheets in our group, that meant some number crunching.

The key objective to our plan is to make money out of doing the hacking and Relic sites on New Eden. There are two main factors in this plan which needed to be worked out.

  1. What ship?
  2. Where?

VexorSo far our favourite answer to question 1 is the Vexor. A nice little drone cruiser which gives us 4 highslots for utility, 4 mid slots (dual prop and 2 exploration modules) and a tidy 4 slots tank with a final low slot for damage amplifiers. Of course that is by no means final. The Odyssey expansion page notes that there will be new exploration modules coming with the Expansion, and that might mean that we need something with a different slot layout to accommodate the new mods. But certainly for now, the Vexor is looking like a firm favourite. The bonus is that its comparatively cheap as well which ties in with the answer to question 2:

Probably W-space or Nullsec. Jury’s still out on which of these (or both), that’s why were on SiSi, experimenting. Certainly so far these two have come out with the best profit returns, and the support to group roam format we’ve been looking to do.

So enough of our plans, let’s talk opinions. Exploration specifically. The mini game is fun, if a little bit variable in difficulty. One hack I will be met by a blocking node on the first click, others the core is only 5-6 clicks away from the start, unblocked at all. It seems that you quite often get either ridiculously easy, or incredibly hard. It’s not all luck however, there certainly are some tactics to be found within the game.

The best bit of tactical game play so far surrounds the encrypted nodes. These, when uncovered require a second click to decrypt and reveal their contents. Sometimes this will be an item to help you, other times it will be a blocking node which will lock out all its surrounding nodes from you. The issue is this. If you always decrypt the encrypted nodes as soon as you find them, every so often you will block your onward path by revealing a blocking node. “Ah, easy” you say “just move a few nodes onwards and then decrypt it, so the block does nothing!”. But the issue with this is that again, every so often using this tactic, you will immediately reveal another blocking node right next to encrypted node on your next click. This locks out the encrypted node, restricting you from getting the potential goodies inside it.

Other tactical choices you will need to make includes the path that you will take to ensure you reveal as much as you can of the board before having to engage the blocking nodes. This means that you have the highest chance of revealing equipment to help you in combat, or simply uncovering the Core without having to fight.

It is really good fun, and it encourages group play, not only in that you will require a friend to help scoop loot, but also because there is no way to be effective at hacking, and keep an eye on local. You’re going to need a friend for that or it will take forever.

The mechanics are fun, and the group play aspect is great (eve needs more multiplayer PvE content), there is very little to complain about all in all. However there was one minor gripe that I had with the concept, and that was Geometry.

No you MWD into one!

Some of the Hacking/Archaeology (more hacking I think) have their main nodes ensconced within large geometry items. They look grate, but as anyone who has tried to fly through and asteroid belt knows, eve has some “invisible geometry” issues. I get that the more people you have with you, the less chance of a “loot ejaculation” going in an awkward direction there is. That works fine on the Archaeology sites, where being on the wrong site means nothing more than a few seconds and a few missed cans. However in the afore-mentioned Hacking sites, there can be entire stations which get between you and the loot squirt. There is nothing more frustrating that trying to navigate around a structure to grab loot that is rapidly pissing off into the distance, only to find your rubbing you ship along some invisible barrier which seems to extend in every direction except the direction of away from the fucking loot. I get, and applaud that group play means more loot, but missing out on loot because of frustrating mechanics you can’t even see is very frustrating.

I’ve run about 15-20 sites at this stage, and I’m a big fan of them. Looking forwards to seeing how the evolve during the launch. Speaking of which, it’s about time we got a plethora of dev blogs revealing details of the expansion isn’t it?

Fly like a mime artist,

Hark

Large fleets, impressive but stagnant?

While I was at Fanfest I had the fortune to actually be seated on the front row during the ship balancing round tables, watching the interaction between CCP fozzie, CCP Rise and CCP Ytterbium, was great, each of them are very different people with differing opinions, the three of them together I feel are going to give us the most well thought out ship balancing I think eve has seen.
The Grid

The Grid

I could go on for some time about the many topics that came up but one particular area interested me: Fleet Boosters. I should say from the outset that I am pro boosting ships being on grid, I feel that no role should be so dull or easy that it should be done effectively afk. I suspect this will get me flack from the many people who like to fight solo (even though they are fighting with at least two ships); I even enjoy flying solo myself, but Eve at its heart is a mmo, if you want to fly solo that’s great, but in general flying with friends is what makes this good game great.

That personal opinion aside one of the ideas that was floated was that boosting ships could be changed so that they effectively boost ships within a sphere around them (kind of like a hictor bubble), this would mean that the pilots of these ships would require actual flying skills to place themselves in the correct places and large fleets may even require multiple boosting ships, it would also mean that your average grunt would need to check their position relevant to the boosters as well as the logistics.
This to me sounds like if it was implemented that we may actually end up in much more dynamic mobile fleets where actual flying skill would be needed. It would mean that highly skilled pilots (or budding pilots) would be able to aspire to roles within fleets that could make or break an engagement, reliant on their flying skills.
This however started my evil mind turning and led me to have a conversation with the CCP devs after the meeting finished and here I will outline where my evil thoughts went…
Boosting Radiance Ships? Maybe not...

Boosting Radiance Ships? Maybe not…

As some people who have read my posts before may have noticed I do not understand why most random events in eve are positives, some of the most interesting stories are about when an unforeseen event has occurred and how people have managed (or not) to cope with them. All this talk of ships creating bubbles of “ship boosts” had me wondering, would it not be fair to have ships that do the opposite?

My thought was if CCP want more people flying command ships and for it to be a much more active and responsive role then surely the obvious way to make this happen was for there to be something for them to have to actively counter? At the moment there is a class of ships post tiercide that only has a single ship in it: The Battleship disruption line, and in it the scorpion. This currently has a bonus to ECM burst modules, what if this ship was changed to create a Hic like bubble of effect around it with an ECM effect and balanced against  sensor strength boosting command ships? Suddenly you would have pilots of these two ships attempting to counter each others effects, the command ship defensively while the disruptor would be attempting to fly his ship so he didn’t impact his own fleet but not so far forward he was out of range of his own support, suddenly fleet and even individual positioning within a fleet become more complex, dynamic, responsive and even rewarding of flying skill, not just skill points.
At this point you can expand on the idea, if you stick with current racial ewars then a how about an area effect tracking disrupting Amarr ship? A area effect sensor damping Galente ship? ( think of the effect on logi) How about an area effect target painting Minmatar? (that could mess with AHacs).
I think that if you gave people the opportunity to fly these ships that could negatively impact enemy fleets you would actually reward pilots with the experience and ability to fly well with a whole new class of ships that would really bring something new to fleet combat and that would then have the knock on effect of making command ships much more interesting, responsive and fleet combat much more dynamic. Each Disrupting ship would require a different command ship to counter.
And this idea carries on again, currently bombers have only two forms of ewar covered “lockbreaker” and “void” seems to me that some are missing here but I think you can all follow that idea on to a logical conclusion, I suppose here is the point to say what the devs had to say about the suggestion.

Press F1 for help

The idea was met I feel with guarded interest and support, it appears that the main issue that is holding up what they want to do with command ships (and by effect potential disruption ships) is a system issue. Currently bubbles are a problem, interdiction bubbles work because when a ship attempts to enter warp a single check is made by that ship “am I in a bubble?” if the answer is yes warp fails. currently ecm burst, lockbreaker and void bombs send out a single pulse and ships in the area are effected once. The problem with what they want to do with “boost bubbles” is that the server would need to know which ships at any given time were being effected by positive (or even negative) effects from one moment to the next and as fleets get larger the number of checks on this gets larger as well and can rapidly become a large resource hog, it is something they are looking at a solution for apparently but they could not say anymore at this time.

Personally I am very pleased that they are even looking in this direction and I am hopeful that they will find an elegant solution so that soon we will see much more interesting fleets flying in elegant shoals of death responding to each other in much more dynamic ways than the current “everyone anchor on x at 10km, follow targets and hit f1 in time. I can but hope. [Editors note: even worse. “Every one stop your ships and assign drones to XXXXX”]

EVE: Conquests (EVE the board game)

20130527_173843

It was the first day of Fan Fest 2013, we had just finished collecting our passes and picking our Quafe t-shirts when Hark runs off like a kid who’s had too much candy, he had spotted “EVE: Conquests” in the store. Hark has wanted “EVE: Conquests” for a long time, but due to the fact that if he had bought it from the “EVE Online” store it would have cost him more in shipping than to buy the game itself, he had restrained himself. So before fanfest had even ended, we found ourselves in a hotel room giving the game ago. As many of you will have seen the game set up in the “Games Hall” at fanfest: I would like to tell you a little something about the game:

EBG

EVE: Conquests is a strategy board game for 2-4 players set in the EVE Universe (It reminds me of “Risk: the game of global domination”), where the board is made up from regions in EVE Online connected together in the same way they are in game, the players choose to play as one of the four main races in EVE, as you should all well know they are the; Amarr, Caldari, Gallente, and Minmatar (We will skip over the fact that there’s a fifth race in EVE online, the Jove as it’s not in the board game)

In EVE: Conquests you can set the winning conditions for the game so as to try to control how long the game will last, but going by the few time we played the games will last around 2-3 hours when you know how to play, here’s the kicker though “knowing how to play”. The rulebook is a bit complicated; some say so complicated you need a PhD in rule book reading to understand it. But once you have figured it out the game is good fun, I shall try to summarise how to play.

First you pick your race (doesn’t make a difference which apart from preference) and you choose where to place your “HQ” station, this location can not be taken by any other player, you can then lay down 5 or 6 “unit tokens” (Not to be confused with Agent tokens, which are the same item placed in an enemies region!).

These can only be placed in a region which you currently neighbour). Don’t confuse Unit Tokens with Agent tokens, they are the same physical item, but a token in your territory is a Unit Token, but a token in enemy territory is an “Agent Token” (Did I mention the PhD?). To build an “Outpost” you have to control the region and have a token (agent or Unit) in all joining systems (outposts are very important, but we’ll get onto them next).

Once you have a unit or an agent in all region connected to the one you plan on building an outpost in you now have to pick which type of outpost you wish to build, Logistics, Development or Production; and receive the equivalent resource token.

EBG turnsEBG Calendar

I should point out that the game does not follow a linear turn based rotation, oh no nothing that simple for EVE! Turns are decided by a calendar, on which each player has a Logistics, Development and production marker. Each of these Markers represents a different type of turn for the player, which when completed moves further around the calendar (an amount based on how upgraded the “resource” has been by the player using points resource tokens gained by building outposts).

This means that depending on how you upgrade your turns, you can sometimes get 3 “goes” in a row and then have to wait ages for your next turn or have each one of your turns spread out amongst the other players turns. This can also get tactical as you attempt to co-ordinate your defences and counter attacks with the optimal gaps in your opponent’s turns. During these turns you are can do different types of actions. For example a development turn will let you capture a new region or place an agent in enemy territory. Where as a production turn allows you to build units.

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As with EVE online you can fight over the control of the regions (albeit in the 4 main factions rather than the Capsular ones). These fights are determined by dice roll and the number of dice each player has is relates to the number of units each player has in the attacking and defending region, so if player 1 has 5 Units and player 2 has 4 Units they get a dice for each unit they have. There are three types of dice; attack, defence and tactics. Attack and defence are fairly self-explanatory (damage and mitigation) but tactics dice are a bit more interesting, they can be counted as either attack or defence depending on the player choice, so depending on the roll he might need more defence to protect his units or more attack to kill enemy units. To Offset this flexibility you will never get as many points on the dice using tactics as opposed to a dedicated defence or attack Dice. Attack dice are a d10 with Three Blanks, Three 1s, three 2s and a single 3 pointer. Defence Dice are d10’s with four Blanks, three 1’s and three 2’s. Tactics are also d10’s, but have five blanks, four 1’s and a single 2. To initiate an attack, the player must declare where is his attacking from and two (which must be adjacent regions), count up the Unit Tokens for each and decided on their dice.

However EVE wouldn’t be EVE without spy roll he might need more defence to protect his units or more attack to kill enemy units. To Offset this flexibility you will never get as many points on the dice using tactics as opposed to a dedicated defence or attack Dice. Attack dice are a d10 with Three Blanks, Three 1s, three 2s and a single 3 pointer. Defence Dice are d10’s with four Blanks, three 1’s and three 2’s. Tactics are also d10’s, but have five blanks, four 1’s and a single 2. To initiate an attack, the player must declare where is his attacking from and two (which must be adjacent regions), count up the Unit Tokens for each and decided on their dice.

Hark and Arian having a discussion on who will win the Amarr or the Minmatar, little did they know it was going to be Lore and the Caldari

Hark and Arian having a discussion on who will win the Amarr or the Minmatar, little did they know it was going to be Lore and the Caldari

As the final twist of complication in combat, players can use cards purchased with their Logistics turns to manipulate the outcome.’s and metagaming, so the player with the most agents in the enemies region picks his dice second, and can ask the other player either “how many attack dice are you going to use?”, “how many defence dice are you going to use?” or “how many tactical’s dice are you going to use?”. Giving him the chance to adjust his dice to counter his opponent. Every fleet needs a scout.

Now we get on to how to win the game, as I said at the start of the post you can set the winning conditions (I can’t remember all of them), the main way to win is to get points from capturing certain regions which are determined by 9 cards set up in a 3×3 grid; representing  a slice of the galaxy. Only 7 of the cards are showing at any one time and are captured by building an outpost on two of the indicated regions, in either a single row or column (represented by numbers and letters . you get the points shown on the two cards you capture towards your victory points total.

If you have managed to follow and understand that rambling and brief explanation of EVE: Conquests you are doing very well indeed. Certainly it took us a lot longer to get this far, and there are far more nuances and fringe case rules to learn yet. The game is fantastic and although it is complicated, it benefits from the complication rather than suffering it. Once your group has gotten the hang of it, it certainly provides a lot of interesting situations and tactics.

Hark looking longingly at the rule book hoping it would become more understandable

Hark looking longingly at the rule book hoping it would become more understandable

A Part of the Problem

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Sieged

So last night Arian went on his first Capital operation which should have been a pretty simple task; taking down a couple of POS’s half way across the universe in Aridia (entrance to delve).  Because it was his first op (and only my third) we were both slightly nervous, and I was doing my best to listen to the FC while simultaneously giving advice and help to Arian over our private coms. Things went pretty well at first. Despite Arian joining at literally the last second, we traveled through a few mid’s to the target without incident. Upon entry we had a short but sweet scuffle with the locals, who seemed to be attached to the POS in question. We held the grid, and won the ISK war (~2.5bn : 4.5bn) despite the loss of a dreadnought. Before long the POS was sieged

During this was the when my introspection occurred. In a lighthearted comment post fight, Arian said: “Well, that’s it now; I’m part of the problem”. It was aimed as a joke celebrating his first c
apital kills. But the fact is: he’s right. We are part of the problem. This isn’t really a revelation, let’s face it, you can’t be part of an organisation as famous and infamous as ours and not know this at least on some level. But it is a stark reminder of the duality of thought which we require to operate in Nullsec. We are loyal to our organisation, and will fight alongside them. We are willing to get podded for their cause (although trying to make others die for it instead for preference). Yet at the same time we are against the values and core of what they fight for.

We believe smaller groups should be able to get into Nullsec. Yet last night we helped curb stomp a smaller alliance’s  attempt at moon goo holdings.

We dislike the prevalence of Capital combat. Yet we have skilled into Carriers to fight with.

It’s a conflict of interest that I believe is not unusual in eve. Sure we disagree with the things we are doing, but at the end of the day, that does not mean we shouldn’t do them. The matter of fact is that within eve you do anything; fight tooth and nail, knee and fist, to gain and keep the advantage over your enemies (read everyone else in the game). Of course you use tactics you don’t agree with, to not do so is suicide, others won’t heed that compunction and hold back on you. Am I conflicted on this? I am against people kicking others in the nuts, but try to mug me and I might just do it to you.

NerfIf capitals were nerfed into the ground I would likely celebrate (as long as I could still use them to transport my sub capitals around!). But until then I will use what I have to keep afloat in this game. We are Pacifists with a gun in a zombie apocalypse, if we don’t pull the trigger, they’re going to eat our brains.

That doesn’t mean we don’t occasionally shoot ourselves in the foot; as evidenced when we followed the wrong FC’s orders and jumped to the beacon meant for people staying in the system for a secondary operation later that night. Thankfully being an experienced player (experienced at fucking up that is), I quickly took stock of the situation. We had way over stocked on fuel, meaning that we should just have enough fuel to get home still. Even better the mid points were all in station systems, meaning that we could, at worst, dock up and beg lore to come rescue us with his carrier as a fuel hauler. But we had to be quick, they cyno chain was lit all the way home now, and the pilots who hadn’t whelped, were well on the way home. Warping to the systems station and capping up, we jumped back to the cyno in the system we had come from. Another dock to cap up and we jumped again, this time to the correct system. Docking up again we discovered that Arian was just slightly short on fuel; so I quickly transfer him some of my surplus. At this point we had caught up with the tail end of the train heading home and one jump later, were quite literally home free.

I don’t mind telling you that this got the adrenalin pumping quite a bit (despite being all in all a pretty low risk fuck up).

Stop flying and have a mug of coco so you can get to sleep,

Hark

A non Hitatus

So the astute of you may have noticed we’ve changed our site… the even more astute (ok maybe even the less astute) might have spotted that this site, well, isn’t exactly ready…

So what happened? Well I’ve been planning this move for a while now, and the site has been up, mirroring or blogger site for a bit while I tweaked things to get ready for the big move. The plan was to get this site 100% ready before hitting the switch. Things were looking great, and the new site was advancing leaps and bounds. Yesterday, after fixing some of the bigger issues we were facing, I decided it was time to look into the move process.

The process involved 3 major changes, all of which were going to involve around 5 different businesses co-operating to transition the hosting (note this means a few companies were no longer going to be paid for their services and were required to hand over my property graciously), it also involved a legislative body updating their information. With the above in mind I expected (and was advised that) the process to take around a week to complete. This was why yesterday I kicked off the process (expecting to publish a hiatus excuse that evening and then finish decorating and updating the new site during the downtime.

Two hours later I was informed that the process was completed, and that I only need wait for the update of information. Three hours after than Extra-vehicular.com was up and running on the new site, all guns blazing. Unfortunately this meant that I have, at this stage, not finished the polish on this site. That’s right ladies and gents, I was unlucky because was lucky.

So in a rambling way what I am saying is: Sorry the site isn’t 100% at the moment, I am aware of the issues, and will be working to fix things. The rest of the Dirties have stepped up to the plate and given me some nice content to publish, to keep you all happy while I concentrate on getting things to my standards.

Fly lucky,

 

Hark

 

P.s. this is the first post on the new site… lets hope it goes well!

[fake edit] looks like www.Extra-vehicular.com isn’t working at the moment, I’ll be getting onto that asap. In the mean time, www.Extra-vehicular.org is functioning fine, so I will be using that in the short-term!

Mini games in Eve’s future?

As some of you will now have seen from Fanfest the idea of compact “mini games” is coming to our gaming
universe, at the moment it will be confined to exploration but I think this small “toe dip” into the murky waters of “mini gaming” is the tip of what could be some pretty big changes. It reminded me of a proposition I put forward some years ago on the eve-o forums that was also mini game based and I thought I would post it here for interest and maybe to spark debate. Shown below is the post in pretty much it’s original form……

The ancient post

Idea 1: Copying is the sincerest flattery…
Mass effect 2 style probing mini game using a audio/ visual queue as you hover over a asteroid representation to find the best areas of the asteroid to hit with your mining lasers. if you choose poorly (or not at all in the case of afk miners) you get a poorer yield (mining skills could improve the accuracy of the audio/ visual queue or the resolution you could scan at maybe). You could also have the rare “ultra dense” drops show as a special anomaly on this that you may miss if you do not check thoroughly) If you have not played mass effect 2 there are loads of vids on youtube of the probing mechanic but my forum foo is weak and I cant make a working linky. Sad face.
Idea 2: use a similar mechanic already in place….
How about the “heat map” from PI also becomes audio and is adapted to be used on asteroids to again show relative potential yield areas with the same “if you choose poorly (or not at all in the case of afk miners) you get a poorer yield mechanism I mentioned above. Obviously the visual heat map will need to be robust enough or the colour scale changeable to allow for visual impairment. Also as with PI you could simulate resource depletion so it rewards people interacting more and finding the best mining laser site at any given time. Skills can effect the audio/visual representation in a way similar to PI and through properly exploring the asteroids you may find the “super duper dense officer
mining equivalent” that an afk miner will not further rewarding people actually actively mining.
Possible fall out of proposed mining “improvements”
Okay those are 2 ideas that someone elsewhere may have already had but I didn’t spot (sorry if this is the case and its not intended as an offence) but what could be the result of making mining better through a “mini game mechanic”?
As is already known people like to min max where possible, by adding a new element to the equation to take concentration you run the risk of not spotting other things (like that hostile that just came into system or the new belt rats etc). I am not actually saying this is a bad thing (I am actually a null sec raider and would love more chance that a miner may not spot my entry into local but I feel this mini game idea, due to concentration required to attain the best results will actually help keep the “risk/reward” mechanic in place.
Also on the subject of min maxing fits I had a random idea, why are asteroids only a resource? why not make them the trigger for rat spawns or even have them shoot back? using the two potential mechanics listed above how about not having all finds positive?
While were at it why are asteroids “only” positive? You could have some asteroid anomalies that are negative, for example…
1. You accidentally spooked a hidden pirate hideout and they boil out of hiding to protect their hideaway (maybe handled as simply as a player generated belt spawn)
2. The asteroid actually has camouflaged weapon emplacements and starts shooting at you itself and you must now incapacitate the defenses or even leave its vicinity if you cannot.
3. There is a pocket of explosive minerals/ gas/ compounds, the asteroid goes off like a smart bomb.
Hell go wild people, I am sure others can come up with cool alternative asteroid anomalies both positive and negative.
The mechanic of system sec status could be used to govern the likely hood of these “negative and positive anomalies” and the severity when they occur and skills could help you spot these special anomalies more easily and avoid them or not as required. This will add an element of balance into people fitting there mining ships as they have to consider if they can survive a potential “negative anomaly” which again helps the risk/reward mechanic.

Some final thoughts

As I said this is a post I made some years ago, the thing that worries me though is that is one area that even with the re balance of the mining ships there has been no iteration off, a rarity in Eve these days, I actually spoke with CCP greyscale at Fanfest about the “why are all “anomalies” positive idea, can we have some negative ones and he sounded genuinely interested so who knows maybe in the near future we may be hearing about actually interesting “once when I was mining” stories that don’t involve a mass smart bomb gank, who knows?

[Guest Post] A Blog Widows experience as a Sister of Eve.

 

 

 

 

 

 

You may have heard me mentioned in a couple of Harks post, but let me introduce myself. I am Harks non-gaming girlfriend who has been known to ask questions that inspire him to discuss certain topics in the blog. Over the past couple of years, I have learnt that the EvE universe exists and have been exposed to much more of the complexities of the game than I could ever possibly need (except perhaps for helping me write this post). So when Hark decided to attend FanFest for the first time this year and asked me to come along, I have to admit my first thought was “do I really want to go hang out with a ton of geeks talking about EvE for 4 days?” But I do love spending time with Hark and his friends and the idea that I could share his first FanFest experience tempted me to go. The deal maker was when he explained there was Sister of EvE (SOE) excursion and that I’d get to go 4x4ing on a glacier. I was in and after the event, I do not regret it. In this article I hope to capture the essence of the SOE excursion for those SOE you may be trying to persuade to come with you to FanFest next year and for those of you just wondering what it was like. It also touches on my thoughts on being a SOE, what is a SOE and my non-gaming impressions of EvE.  Enjoy.

I am sure I was not alone in feeling excitement as I reached the Harpa on the SOE day to see a long line of stretch 4×4 cars out front. That pretty much set the scene for the day – excitement and fun.
We embarked in a convoy heading to the South west of Iceland. With a car full of 8 women and 2 men, the radio feed of the guide from the first car was often impossible to hear over the discussions of parents’ desperation for grandchildren, LARPing and penises. One thing that was not mentioned in the conversation was EvE. Luckily for us, our driver acted as a very good guide, as did the only other man in the car (yes there were also about 5 male ‘Sisters’ of EvE on the tour), who had previously lived in Iceland. Our first stop was Thingvellir – UNESCO world heritage site. Here we stood on the edge of the North American tectonic plate and stared across valley to the Eurasian plate. Driving through the valley, the rift was more evident in the cavernous clefts in the lava fields, where whole sections appeared to have just dropped away.
Next stop was Geysir hot spring area. Sadly Geysir, the original geyser that all others were named after, was not erupting; but the nearby geyser Strokkhur was sending up massive gushes of water about every 10 minutes. It must have known we were there, because at one point it erupted twice in a couple of minutes. Many photographs taken (it was amazing how many photography buffs there were on the tour), we retired to the nearby Geysir hotel for a fantastic all you can eat buffer lunch, with roast pork so delicious that I just had to go for seconds. The room was filled with laughter and chatter with even an occasional mention of EvE. Typical of any event with lots of women, there was a queue for the desserts and the loos.
We then headed out towards the glacier. This gave the drivers the chance to go a bit crazy off road, which was exhilarating if a little scary at times: Competing against each other to get to the front of the convoy, our car dived down a rocky slope, accompanied by AC/ DCs Highway to Hell on the radio, darted under a bridge and mounted a bank so steep, I ended up parallel to the ground in the front passengers seat.  Once the freestyle rollercoaster race was over, we set out onto what we thought was the glacier, a mass of snow in between snow covered mountains. After we’d been going for a while, the driver informed us that we weren’t even on the glacier yet, this was just a road, demarked by the yellow posts almost buried in the snow. eventually we reached the edge of the actual glacier and could get out and walk around. This was not like the ice and crevice filled glacier I had hiked on during my last trip to Iceland, or if it was, it was covered by at least 2 feet of untouched snow, which extended as far as the eye could see. It felt so peaceful to be in a place of such unspoilt beauty. Everyone seemed to have a smile on their faces, even the ones who ended up on their backsides in the snow. The cars moved forward onto the glacier, so we had to walk to reach them. Not a problem for most of the girls, but I did observe one girl in a pair of stilettoes out there: Well I suppose they would have worked as makeshift crampons. Getting the cars turned around and off the glacier was to prove more challenging than getting on. The drivers were very skilled in getting such big vehicles moving in the snow. Unfortunately for our car however, not quite quickly enough when black smoke started billowing from the engine. The drivers did not show any concern, but set about trying to work out what the problem was to get the car going again. Meanwhile we entertained ourselves by debating if we’d fit in the other cars and who we would eat first if we were stranded. My eyes started to scan the horizon for the Skidoo School we had seen earlier, with visions of pulling a James Bond like move; knocking the driver off and taking the skidoo to safety. Luckily it was not necessary as we shortly got going again and headed to Guilfoss. The dual layer waterfall looked stunning, with a rainbow above it, giving the top of the falls a yellow green hue, that perhaps explains its name, the Golden falls. After a short hold up (as we lost a SOE), we then headed to Fontana spa. I think for many this was the highlight of the day, while for me it was just the perfect finish. First we tasted the rye bread, which we were shown was baked in the ground using the geothermal heat. Then we were let loose in the spa which had multiple warm pools, a jacuzzi and three steam rooms filled directly from hot mud below. It was wonderful to lay in the warm water and look out across the stunning view of the nearby lake, special SOE cocktail in hand.

Finally it was time to head back to the Harpa. The mood in the car was very relaxed and relatively quiet as people reflected on the day.  I got the impression from the smiles on all the faces that everyone thoroughly enjoyed the day. I definitely did and wouldn’t hesitate to join another SOE excursion in future.

I don’t know what I expected the sisters of EvE to be like prior to this trip. They couldn’t easily be grouped into a stereotype: coming from all over the world, with different careers, opinions of the game and differing relationships to their respective EvE players. There were even SOEs who played EvE themselves or worked for CCP. What surprised me was the abundance of strong confident women. Perhaps it was just that only the stronger personalities were willing to go on a trip like this. But I wonder whether this is because it takes that strength and self-confidence to compete with EvE (which some felt was the other woman in their partner’s life) or that with strength and confidence, a relationship develops the space for the individuals to dedicate themselves to a hobby or interest guilt-free. In my case, I believe the latter is applicable. I was surprised by how many of the EvE players were waiting to see their significant others off and were there to collect them, full of smiles and hugs at the end of the tour, a sign of the softer side of these space warriors. Clearly CCP in organising the SOE excursion understand the contribution / sacrifice we significant others make for the sake of the EvE universe and ensured that throughout the day, we were made to feel very special and have the experience of a lifetime.
So am I happy to consider myself a SOE? Well from a selfish point of view, I love Iceland and my favorite restaurant of all time is in Reykjavik, so having an excuse to return there for FanFest was excellent (and delicious). But more importantly as a non-gamer, I find the idea of this alternate universe with all the politics, economics, conflict, races, classes and careers fascinating. The idea that so many people out there have alternate careers in this universe which they dedicate real time to in order to succeed, is amazing to a workaholic like me. But I can clearly see that there are benefits to the players: Belonging to such a large community creates bonds and friendships all over the world. It brought a tear to my eye in the CCP keynote, when Hilmar choked up after players requested Vile Rat/Sean Smith’s name be included on the statue, evidence that one person has the ability to touch thousands by their actions in and surrounding the game. I recognise that EvE can be used to develop abilities useful in real life such as communication, planning, tactics and organisational skills. It requires intelligence. EvE is not merely for those who can shoot fast or learn the cheats / patterns to win, it is constantly changing; challenging its players and requires dedication and commitment. The fact that CCP appreciate the input of their players into how the game should progress, also make it stand out. Where else could you get a say in shaping a universe? Being the partner of someone so interested in EvE that he chooses to write a blog about it, has meant the past two and a half years have been a second hand journey into EvE for me too. A journey I have been fascinated by. I am by no means going to start playing, but I am happy to be a SOE.

Dusting off the TV

As I mentioned in my last monthly update, Dust has landed and I figure it would be remiss of me if I didn’t talk about it at least a little. I started playing the day before the Uprising patch, and to be honest I was an entirely different game to what it is now, and as such I am ignoring my experiences prior to the patch. This means I have only got a single week of play under my belt, making this very much a first impressions post.:I haven’t played everything (who has) and I don’t know intricate details. But I do know how I feel after a week of play, so this is it.

In the interests of full disclosure I will state that I am playing purely with the Keyboard and Mouse, and on a 1080p TV using a HDMI cable. I am also using a PS3 Super Slim (I think) 12Gb.
Where to start with Dust? Gosh. Well. Let’s go with sandwich format shall we? Something good, something bad. So, niggle One:
You have to get very lucky to fight in FW battles at the moment (I gather thats a bug which will be fixed), and when you do, it’s really not much different from a Pub match. That sucks really. I had assumed that Dust would have 4 levels of seriousness in terms of investment & Risk/Reward:
  • Public matches
  • Faction war
  • Low Sec Corporation Wars
  • Null Sec Corporation Wars
At the moment, public matches are about all you can do, unless you have fast hands, and find a FW match, even then there is just no real feeling for actually participating in Faction Warfare, it just feels like another Pub match. There are two things needed to fix this. Firstly FW should be something you have to make a Risk/Reward choice for: Let my Corp take a 1 month FW contract out which bans us from all other matches: crank up the number of FW matchs (and add an auto join FW match button), then pay us a bonus by how much we help out side at the end of the month. Anything to differentiate FW from the same of Pub matches. I expect this is in the pipe for future updates, but for me the Pub matches just seem to make things a big boring.
First Great thing: The game is pretty solid right now, and feels like a glorious cross between Eve online and Battlefield 2142 (which are the game’s I have spent the most hours playing). I really enjoy the eve online complexity to the system, and battlefield style tactical play. The game makes me grin, and I have enjoyed pretty much every match (bar a few). CCP was aiming for a AAA shooter release, and to be honest I think there not far off the mark. I don’t think dust will be considered AAA on its release date, simply because it would require the game to be released with at least a full spread of weapons and vehicles for each race, as well as perfect balance and more maps. But it is clear to see that its burning for that triple A mark fast, and I expect it to achieve that base level (and keep on going) by the end of this year. In the end it’s a wonderful concept executed well.
Second Niggle; progression. FPS’s need to give a good sense of progression to the players, to keep them interested; and in that area, upgrades to suits and vehicles are great. However very quickly the gaps between these upgrades starts to grow. I’m 1 week in now and already the waits between upgrades are starting to get longer. And worse the progression tree for suits/gear is not clearly marked out. As an eve player, I’m ok with that, but I can see the average console kids getting pissed off and dropping the game the first time they realise their next reward is a month away. My  belief is that Dust requires some inconsequential rewards to keep us going in-between big progressions. A good example of this would be the Battlefield Medal/Ribbon/Pin system. It’s great to see how you are doing in a match and in your career by more than just a KD ratio and a WP total, and small rewards will go a long way to sustain the players interest between upgrades.
Next Pro: the devs. This one is whats knocked me for six the most. On a whim I decided to join the IRC channel linked in the Dust forums. First shocker was the Dust devs in the channel, it’s always nice to see the devs chatting with the players, especially on an “unofficial” media. But what really amazed me was just how they were communicating. Every so often all of a sudden a CCP dev will pipe up in channel and mention what their working on. For example in the first day of joining I witnessed a CCP dev chatting about vehicles, and soliciting requests and issues from the people in the channel. I doubt any other game has this level of Dev-Player relationship, and CCP should be very proud of it. This bodes very well for the games future.

Niggle 3: actually I am fresh out of niggles now, and it’s all just good stuff from here on outwards. I really enjoy playing Dust, and I get the feeling of a juggernaut starting its slow climb to an unstoppable kinetic force. I gambled on Dust hoping to find that it was an FPS I could get behind, and one which would keep developing and evolving for a very long time (say 10 years +). I think I found that, and I hope that over time my investment will pay off. My only worry is that I am a freak of nature, and one of the few people who wants spreadsheets inserted into an FPS game. For the first time in a long while, I find myself hoping that I am normal. Small chance of that really. I expect to write some more as the game and my experience of it develops further.
Walk happy,
Hark