Archive for November, 2014

The Gaps in-between Our eve

By now I suspect we’ve all seen the fantastic “This is Eve” trailer, and no doubt noted its success. I don’t want to spend much time critiquing the video (as in my bias opinion its clearly fantastic), but I do want to talk about the bits in-between the video clips. Sure the fights and flights shown represent the best bits of eve, the peaks of intense excitement that make this game worth playing, but what is the video not showing? What happens in-between those peaks? What is the humdrum maintenance and preparation work that supports these potent moments of excitement?

 

Let’s start with money, it makes the universe go around after all. In eve, PvP Costs money, there is pretty much no way around this. PvP almost never ends in profit for an eve player, and so most of us dedicated PvP players spend a lot of our time in-between the fights in one way or another generating cash with which to fund our habit. For me this means logging in every day during my lunch hour (I take the weekends off!), to update trade orders, prod my PI chains and occasionally shovel minerals into a production line. It’s a fairly tedious process, but one which I do enjoy on at least some level. Keeping track of my investments, and watching my asset value chart slowly climb upwards is always gratifying. I doubt CCP’s next advert will be about it however.

 

Keeping up with the meta is also something that fills the time between the fights for me. Eve online is constantly moving forwards in Fleet PvP. Especially since the beginning of the fast cycle releases the FOTM and fleet rock paper scissors has been changing at a rapid pace. When your Alliance is stationed deep in Nullsec, with no easy access to Jita, changing fits can be a time consuming and even risky process. This mostly entails checking the Alliance forums frequently, and watching for potential changes to established fleets, and new and  upcoming flavours which might take over the meta.

 

New compositions are the easiest to accommodate, most of the time you simply buy a new ship from alliance contracts, as the new fleet will be shipped out by your logistics network. Although you do have to keep an eye on how many runs you’re going to end up doing with the carrier to ship them all home. In the post Phoebe universe, nobody wants to do an extra set of jumps for just one ship. Changes to fittings on the other hand are the hardest to accommodate, as most of the logistics people will be brining entire fitted ships out, conversion kits are rare at best. Often, you’ll need to source individual modules at highly inflated prices, or run out to Highsec to source the items. Alternately most Alliances (mine included) have frequent jump freighter runs which you can leverage to keep your fits up to date. It’s not glamorous, but in its own way refitting ships is kind of fun, if nothing else but in anticipation of the fights to come.

 

We also send a lot of time waiting for the fights. Eve is a demanding mistress, and one who doesn’t generally let you dictate the times of your liaisons with her. You can spend hours by the phone waiting for her call, or you might find her calling you before you can even finish booting your PC. Most alliances (all of the ones worth joining) have some sort of electronic “paging” system. The most popular of which are IRC and Pidgeon, these are simply ways of FC’s or leaders mass messaging people who are not currently logged in, to let them know that something is afoot. If I have more than a few hours free time for some gaming, I will rarely log directly into eve, instead I will throw open MIRC and await the sirens that calls us to arms.

 

With all this administration work to be done, you might be wondering how often you actually get to have the fights depicted in the trailer and of course this varies from group to group. For me, I find that I need a window of around 5 hours free to find a fleet(during peak times at least), and that if I am looking for something to do I will find it on average within that timeframe. Of course you can never guarantee what that fleet is going to look like; combat in eve is, after all, like a box of chocolates (assuming your incompetent enough to have lost that little menu card).

 

None of these things are as exciting as the segments highlighted in the trailer, but they are all enablers for the lifestyle I choose in eve. As such I enjoy them for what they bring me. Speaking of which I believe I have some ship fittings to sort out, so I’d better get back to it sharpish!

 

Don’t always be flying,

 

Hark

 

 

 

Eveleet Damnd’erebus

So I mentioned in the last monthly update that Elite Dangerous was featuring in the Dirty Group’s playlist quit heavily at the moment (something that’s quite amazing considering the grouping mechanics aren’t working right now!). And lot of people have been talking about Elite Dangerous (ED) and Star Citizen as “eve killers” over the period of their development. Indeed, when we started playing ED, I was wondering if this was something that would make me quit eve. Now at the risk of ruining the suspense, I’m going to tell you right now that the answer is “nope”, but I wanted to write a little about why I feel this is the case.

First of all I think it’s important to emphasise that no matter what the uneducated or uninformed parrot, ED and eve share very few similarities. They are both in space, have persistent universes and involve PvP. That’s really about it, and to that end you might as well include Starcraft and Star Realms). Eve is an MMO, whereas Elite Dangerous is an Persistent Universe Optional Multiplayer Online  game (please note that this is my personal opinion on game classification, and something some people with disagree with. I will vehemently deny, for example, that World of Tanks is an MMO it’s is an MO at best. If someone wants to talk about what an MMO is I am happy to discuss it in the comments; But I digress). Eve shares a lot of control interface with RTS style games (admittedly one with a single unit under your direct command), whereas ED uses (obviously) a space-sim control style. Eve online forces you to be online in a single shard, whereas ED give you the option to be online in a 32 player max local instance. To me that really makes them chalk and cheese.

Both games are hard, that’s for sure. Eve has its notorious learning curve so classically depicted in the line graph. ED so far, seems to love nothing more than to goad you into making a mistake so that it can slap a massive fine on your arse. That difficulty is something which within eve is where I derive a lot of the pleasure I get from the game. Eve is hard, and surviving for almost 7 years is an achievement which I am proud of, surviving and doing well for yourself is something even more special to me.

In ED on the other hand, although the difficulty is inducive to the fun, but does not define it. I think that to me, it’s more the spectacle of the game which fires off those pleasure neurons. Docking in a station is a sight, and the concept of getting a group together to crew a capital ship and its fighter wing deep in the backend of the galaxy is something  which really excites me. To gather a crew together and do that would undoubtedly be an amazing achievement and great fun.

But ED doesn’t give me the sense of domination which you get from playing eve, it’s not as harsh (for good reason). If I kill you (or die) in an anaconda (currently the most expensive ship in the game), it will cost you a 0.23% of the anacondas original cost to buy it back again (without equipment). That means that you have neither the sense of loss, nor the sense of destruction in ED as you do in eve, at the end of the day all I have done is inconvenienced you. In eve, were I to kill your Revenant (arguably the most expensive ship in the game) you will lose not only the entire value of the ship, but you might never be able to get it back again (or the reputation you lost). ED also puts a façade (albeit a very good one) where the “Massive” in Massively multiplayer resides for eve. ED limits the number of people within an instance (I believe that this is currently 32, but have no official source). So that you’ll never get the sense of scale which the 5k player battles in eve will give you, or even then 100 man battles. Your wits and skills will only ever be pitted against 31 other people, less if you have a group of friends to play with. And that’s another point. The potential for group play is a little bit neutered when you can only play with 31 other people at most, especially when each friend removes an enemy. If me and 10 of the Dirties are cursing around in our anaconda & escorts, what are the chances of us all ending up in an instance with a hostile force of similar power? Will we just end up shredding 21 individuals? Or a few groups of 5 hopelessly outmatched by our numbers? Or worse will 5 of us be in one instance and 5 in another? I’m not sure that will ever work out.

On the other hand eve will never have the sense of grandeur that ED already has in bucket loads. Let’s face it, eve will never be able to emulate the glory of human innovation that the stations in ED represent. Nor will the play ever be as immersive as ED will be with an oculus rift, the medium just simply won’t allow it. We also have the issue that because of the choices CCP have made in the fundamental design of the game eve is always going to be a little bit detached from the player. Immersion simply isn’t eve’s strongpoint. From a PvP standpoint, fights in ED are also going to be far more player skill intensive than eves fights will ever be. Don’t get me wrong combat in eve is a skill in and of itself, but there are so many other factors in play in these fights that my personal skill will never be the key component in the end result especially in large fleet fights. Sure in a 1v1 my competence will have a fair effect on the result, but never as much as it will in ED. How well I click buttons, know the meta and how long I have been playing can never compete with the raw skill of dogfighting in space. I love the fleet fights in eve, but it’s just a different scale of combat to that of ED.

These are a lot of words that basically are trying to say that ED and eve are different games, and not only that, but they both tickle different pleasure centers in my brain. I could go on pointing out brilliance and flaws in both games, but right now, as they stand ED and eve are not competing for my dedication. It is possible that one day ED could become a direct competitor to eve, with a massive expansion of max concurrent players (let’s say 500 in an instance max), with a full player driven economy and industry/crafting system I might start thinking about packing my eve bags. And sure maybe one day that time will come, but right now I think I would rather just enjoy both games for what they are: different.

Fly in two realities,

Hark

Monthly Update: Back in the Saddle

Well it’s been not been a bad first month back in, although time has not been as abundant as I had hoped. It turns out that eve was not the only thing waiting for me to stop being busy with planning a wedding to consume my free time. I still found time however to get a few things done in eve and indeed help Arian out. As pretty much everyone one knows now Bothers of Tangra (PLs Renting and PvE group) has seeded most of its space over for Shadow of xDeath, and so Arian needed to move his PvE farming Macharial out of its home and back to highsec before the change took place. Unfortunately  the logistics group were doing shipments out of a station 8 jumps (2 constellations) away from where Arian had been ratting. So I flew an alt out to scout him through the jumps with an interceptor. The operation was entirely uneventful, but still quite nerve inducing, reminding me of why I enjoy eve (risk).

 

Since then Hark has also moved home and participated in a good fleet fight (which was a wonderful 5 sided melee in which I managed to bag around 50 kills (iirc). The fight was an excellent excursion for my Legion which hasn’t been aired in a little while now, and I managed to use overheating without burning out my weapons (this time) so clearly I am improving. Skills wise Hark is now really digging into her Int Mem mapping I started way back in July of 2013. That’s 495 days since I began my first foray into attributes. I estimate that this mapping has gained me 450 additional SP per day compared to the even attribute mapping I’ve previously had. In total that’s 222,750 additional over the time period. It’s not exactly buckets, but it all adds up I guess. Currently I have another 262 days of Skill training planned in this configuration before I begin the next remapping. No doubt I will do another Attribute Optimisation post when that time comes picking what I train next.

 

Xa has also been active, after doing the scouting for Arian she invested in an Astero and delved into Nullsec to try earning some cash. I’ve found that shallow Nullsec is pretty much barren of sites at the moment and I am thinking about going deeper to find more. My hope is that I might be able to train up a BLOPS bridge character at some point to make getting loot in and out easier. That’s a good distance into the future however, and for now I am just solidifying my scanning skills to ensure a faster hunting rate.

 

The Trader has also been much more active this month despite being away for most of it I managed to rake in 1bn ISK, which is back to my average (despite only 3 weeks of trading). Current projections forecast that I might manage to break 30bn in non-asset cash before the year is out, but that’s not for certain. I am also negotiating for a small investment of capital on a % profit basis which might up my trading capital for the next year. My growth rate is pretty variable, but tends to average around 0.125% per day. That means that even a 1bn investment could bring my profit per month up by around 40m per month. Again it’s not a signal to start filling the pool with money, but it’s not chicken feed either. We’ll see how the negotiation goes however. On other fronts I am warming up the PI chains as well with an eye to opening that revenue chain once more. I still haven’t sold of any of the created stock from that yet and estimate that I have around 500m ISK waiting to be sold on the market. Something I really should get around to doing.

 

The Industry character is also being warmed up again but to a lesser degree. My struggle right now is getting back into the habit of doing the daily maintenance needed to keep both this and the trader operational and profitable. To begin with my concentration has been on the trader, and so since I got back the Indy hasn’t really had the same amount of time invested in it. Currently she is sitting on around 500m’s worth of product A with another 500m having been sold at market just before I left on Honeymoon. She has also now trained into a second product line, which I will be interleaving with the original. I need to really sit down and work out a more exact plan for how that’s going to work, but have yet to have the spare time to do so. Product B is currently at level 4 of invention training, so I am still bringing her up to level 5 at time of writing, that should end next month when I will chose my next set of training (could be a dilemma!).

 

Finally my Dread alt is coming into the vinegar strokes of her training with only one months’ worth of training left before she is a competent Dread alt. The question now remained as it if it is worth cross training her into the other dreads, finding something else she could do (BLOPS bridge?) or just stopping the dual training on her account. I think that last one is going to win out to be honest.

 

The Dirties are certainly going into a decline within eve, which saddens me, but at the same time doesn’t surprise me. I am trying my hardest to fight that trend for myself, as I am still enthused about eve more than I am for any other game, but it’s hard to predict how the loss of the group might affect my enthusiasm. The group seems to be quite enthused about Elite Dangerous at the moment, and I have to admit that I am enjoying the beta quite a lot at the moment. Who knows perhaps there is a place for two space games in my life. Perhaps the same is true of this blog as well. More on that in another post.

 

Fly active,

 

Hark