Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

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

Returning to Change

Where do you pick up from after a month away from the computer, and longer without any serious time invested into eve? It’s a tough question but one which I am trying my best to answer at the moment.

Having returned from my honeymoon in China (it was great, thanks), I am now starting stoke the fires for reinvesting some time back into eve, and boy have things have changed a bit since I was last playing! Unfortunately part of that difference is that the Dirties seem to have lost some of the fire we had for eve. To be fair that’s been on the cards since before I left, with a couple of members unsubscribing and another falling less and less active as time went by. It wouldn’t surprise me to find that none of them have logged into do anything other than skill training online in the last month.

It’s not exactly unusual. Everyone who has played eve for any serious length of time has found themselves burnt out at one stage or another, so I really done blame the Dirties for dropping out of touch with eve. But at the same time I’ve not been this enthused about Nullsec since the ED war for Etherium Reach. The changes coming to Nullsec over the next year or so look like they are going to really shake things up. What’s more at least to begin with I can’t think of a better group to experience the shake up with then PL. Sure they have their issues, but when it comes to adapting to change, and finding fun PL seem to have things down pat. If nothing else, it’s better to be in PL then being shat on by PL.

But at the same time, eve is all about who you play it with and I would rather play it with the Dirties. So I’ve let the guys know that if there is an area of play which might get them re-subbed or active again, I’ll be there in a flash. Admittedly if I can, I might try and join them in anything that’s not Null sec with an Alt, to keep the main participating with PL. But if required I’d even quit to join something they actually wanted to do.

Right now though, my gut says that I’m going to be alone in eve for the foreseeable future. I’m already making plans for that (I’ll share them with any of the D’s who decided to join in of course), and hopefully when things begin to kick off I’ll be ready to partake in the ensuing fights, just like old times.

Of course activity levels isn’t the only big change announced while I’ve been away, but that’s a topic for another post. That’s about it for a reintroduction for now, except to add that I expect that the dedication of time into eve will translate into more posts on here as well. Certainly I have some more posts already brewing on the other changes to the game since I’ve been gone.

Fly more,

Hark

 

 

Interception

If you had asked me a month ago if the changes to Interceptors would see me returning to these wonderful little ships, I would had said “Sadly not”. I would have then gona one to add that the 20m+ cost of new clones along with the expensive implants in Hark’s head means that flying fragile ships is on paper a not worthwhile risk.

In practice however, it turns out that the changes are just enough to tempt me back (at least for now). I should point out that interceptors have always held a special place in my heart, as I began my 0.0 experience flying tackle for ED during their finals stand back is Etherium Reach. So when we saw Interceptor fleets being announced post Rubicon, I decided I would throw caution to the wind, and try them out at least once. My goodness am I glad I did.

Inty fleets are amazingly good fun, and perfect anti-ratting operations. Back when we lived in the NC we used to do regular “Fishing” fleets, also known as “shot-gunning”. This was where we used ships like Assault frigates to roam into enemy territory (hopefully moving fast enough to confuse Intel channels) to enemy hubs. Here we would all jump into system and scatter at random to locations where we might find enemy carebears doing their thing. This coupled with a dictor parked on a station to catch people trying to panic dock got us a good few kills. However this was generally a lesson in Darwinism more than anything as only the stupid/slow ever got caught. Interceptor fleets operate on this same principle but surpass the old model for several reasons:

 1. They are exceptionally fast in warp
It’s pretty easy for a ceptor’ fleet to cover tens of jumps in a handful of minuets. This means we can move faster than the speed of information, so we catch ratters unawares. It also means that we can move faster to the hero bait ship a few jumps away, and still arrive before he dies. Finally we can overtake people who try to run away from us. On one of our fleets, we landed on grid just as a Raven warped to a gate, we followed his warp and beat him to the gate by a good 5-10 seconds needless to say he then died.

 2. They are exceptionally fast in sub warp
Engagement gone sour? No problem, just align to the sun and coast out of trouble. At several points we outstayed our welcome on grid, and had to extract quickly. In a normal fleet this could have been fatal, but in Intys, we didn’t even have to warp out to get safe. This also means that should you look like you’re going down, your chances of getting your pod out is pretty good. Even under scram and web, if you are quick you can coast out of a bubble to allow your pod to escape.

3. Bubble immunity
It’s obvious, I know but this has an unexpected ramification. You can go on an Inty fleet even if you know you only have 10 minutes till you have to walk away from the PC. When the time comes to leave fleet, you can simply find a quiet location to log off, and be safe in the knowledge that to get yourself home safe you need only worry about insterlocking gate camps on the way.

The Inty gangs have been amazing, and despite the worry of a pod-mail 5-6 times the ship loss mail, the allure of speed and easy kills is just too much to resist. Especially with kills like the afore mentioned Raven possible. The Inty fleets also got me the funniest kill I have had in a very long while where we destroyed a Rapier who though he was safe to engage in Station docking range. He had carrier providing reps against our 30 interceptors: and went down after hull tanking the reps for a good couple of minutes.

The interceptor change has been fantastic and without doubt my highlight of the Rubicon expansion.

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

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

Suicide in public areas is strictly prohibited

And there goes another month. Between some Real life issues in early April and Fanfest consuming Late April, it’s gone by in a breeze. Although Fanfest was great fun, its not all been great though. I get my monthly playtime logged by Raptr and in the past have hit weekly averages of around 35-45 hours. This month not so much.
Last month I averaged 18.5 hours of games per week with 2 hours per week in eve itself. The issue is that my areas of eve are either dedications of large chunks of time, or being on call for short notice operations. Being out of the country or having work done on your house doesn’t exactly play well with that. I’m making excuses really, but the long and short of it is that its no wonder that my corporation has told me the ship up or ship out.
This week I have chosen the former. After chatting with my other half I got permission to be “on call” whenever I am at home, dedicating myself to being able to respond to fleets all the time. Which has resulted in a quite few fleets this week, including my involvement in the Flight of 1000 Rifters. I hope that I have already secured my continued service with my corp, but never taking things for granted I intend to keep up with the high availability thing for the rest of the month (i.e. how long I was given to shape up). Already I have scored a good 17 hours in eve during this first week of May.
In other news the CCP marketing campaign has worked, and after hunting around a bit I managed to secure a cheap PS3 with which to play some Dust, so expect some Dust posts on here in the next few weeks as I get used to the game and form some opinions. First impressions have been excellent, although there is clearly some room for improvements. But that’s a detail for another post.
Not all that much to write about this month, at least not that hasn’t already been posted in the Fanfest and CSM sections of the Blog.
Fly (and walk) as much as you can
Hark

SISI Odyssey Data Dump

I managed to get a hold of a wild odyssey data dump yesterday and spent the train journey to work today perusing it for information. A few things jumped out at me instantly:
Neut-o the NOS
I want to suck your blood… and slow down
your repair rate.
If I am reading the dump correctly Energy Draining modules are going to get a bonus which gives them a
chance to delay repair modules. This is a very interesting move which could have a good effect on small gang and solo combat. Looking at the numbers it looks like the NOS will get the greater chance over the Neut. The Neut is already the module of choice for most PvP’ers for utility high slots (unless they are RR or RE). So we could see them being used a hell of a lot more than they already are. Would this be enough to make the NOS an actually competitor to the Neut? I don’t think so, but we will see.
[EDIT: turns out that this was a stat which was used to reduce the rep time on NPCs (simulating lack of Cap) which has now been removed. Thanks to Martijn Vellinger in the comments who helped clear this up withe Fozzie]
Sec-ond thoughts
Tags are going down the pan…
Sec Status fixing. Looks like the nerf to Sec Status farming is going to hit hard. Not only are ratters going to
be stuck with only one tick per 5 mins they are also going to find that rats are going to give a LOT less standings per kill. It would appear that CCP are scrapping the “Size Matters” mantra and simply making it so that every NPC kill will give a flat 0.028 standings change. Let me say that again. It won’t matter if you kill a battleship or a frigate, the standings increase will be 0.028. To give you an idea of the scale of this one, some numbers:
Prior to Odyssey the largest increase you could get to standings was at around 0.24, and the lowest was 0.032. So the new flat standard of 0.028 is less than the lowest previously. In terms of generalisation it’s a 39% drop in sec status gain per kill. Owch.
You know just the other day I was in Low sec (Floseswin) where I engaged in rather a lot of PvP. At the time I watched my sec status drop and thought, “ah well, I don’t really need it any way”. Right now I’m starting to think I might need to raise it back up again before the patch hits; rather than forking out a large sum of cash or farming for even longer than is currently necessary. One thing this does mean, is that Tag farming is going to be a very viable profession.
Fly of the Dump
Hark

CSM of my Heart

Well here we are, with the Dust (pun intended) settling post Fanfest, one of the realities we must now face is who we have voted into CSM for the next year. The results ballot has been out for a few days already, but I have heard a rumour that there are still some surprises in store yet. Firstly I have heard hints that Ripard Teg Finished way higher than anyone expected (especially not The Mittani). Secondly it was picked up by our radar like ears is that there was a very close run between a few candidate places. All this was picked up through hints and whispers, and as such is totally unsupported, but interesting none the less.
Before we go any further we should first take a moment to thank and congratulate every candidate for the CSM. Just caring about out little game to run for CSM is enough to earn my respect. I look forwards to listening to you again next year.
Without further ado, here is the full list of CSM8. I have highlighted in green the candidates I put on my ballot:
–          Ali Aras
–          Chitsa Jason
–          James Arget
–          Kesper North
–          Korvin
–          Malcanis
–          Mangala Solaris
–          Mike Azariah
–          mynnna
–          progodlegend
–          Ripard Teg
–          Sala Cameron
–          Sort Dragon
–          Trebor Daehdoow
[8/14] placed
Looking at that list, I think I should be pretty happy (and well represented) with and by CSM8. It’s worth noting that despite the chest beating of the CFC and the HBC (helped in no small part by the political engine that is TMC.com), only 4 HBC and CFC candidates made the list, although the list is still very heavily Nullsec weighted (as it should be :P).
It’s worth point out first though that my ballot was based purely on who I thought best represented me (alongsidea few other factors), that does not mean that my ballot was my dream council. As there are 14 seats on the council, and 14 STV positions for each voter, it’s easy to equate a STV positions to “whished” council seat. This is a false assumption.
My ideal CSM is one which is made up of a fair representation of good candidates from all of eve demographic (which I believe we got). My ballot on the other hand was concentrated at ensuring that mydemographic was represented correctly.
I think I have really already discussed the candidates enough through my Impressionableposts in the last few months so I won’t go into any details on my feelings about candidates here. The people in green have had my support from the get go. However for the people not marked in green above, for the most part, I would like to say: you may not have been who I voted for, but I marked most of you as good candidates who didn’t represent me. My congratulations to you all.
Finally a few messages:
Ripard – As the first choice on my ballot, I am really pleased you got in. I met you briefly at Fanfest alongside Roc (who is also a stand up gent), and you confirmed the impression you give through your blog of a well-thought, well-spoken man. If the whispers I have heard are true, double congratulations are in order for your stunning position on the CSM.
Mynnna – At the very beginning it would be fair to say I was lukewarm towards your run. However since them you have done nothing but build yourself in my standings. I am very pleased (if not at all surprised) that you made it on. I offer you too my congratulations.
Trebor – Another candidate I met at Fanfest who turned out exactly as expected (a gentleman to the highest standards). I am very pleased you were dragged back into the council (kicking and screaming as I understand). You’re a needed connection to help build the new relationship for this CSM and the CSM of tomorrow. My congratulations again go out to you.