Posts Tagged ‘New Player Experience’

The Dirty Guide to Eve: Orientation Guide

Eve is a harsh mistress; she recruits around 150 people every day too her cause, and only a tiny percentage of that survive past the first month. Chances are, that if you are reading this guide, you are thinking of signing up (or have already). If this is the case, then congratulations are in order. Not because you have the guts to try, but because you have gone out to the internet and researched, finding this guide, and hopefully others in the process. To me this indicates that you are far more likely to stick with our ranks than any of your fellow recruits. This guide covers the very basics of how to sign up for eve, information on picking a character, and a short section on the training missions. Listed at the bottom of this guide are more guides on how to go from your very first log in, to joining a “Profession”. Good luck!

 

Before we start in earnest, lets quickly discuss the cost and real life implications behind playing eve. First and foremost, let’s talk about how much it costs to subscribe to eve. There are two main methods of buying game time with real money; directly from CCP and via Game Time codes. CCP offer 3, 6 and 12 month payment plans at £9.33, £8.33 and £7.50 per month respectively (all prices in GBP, and accurate at time of writing). Time codes are sold via sites such as MarkeeDragon in 1 and 2 month variants (£12.99 and £11.99 per month respectively at time of writing).  Although on the face of it, it would see a far better deal to purchase Game Time directly from CCP, it is worth knowing that a lot of sites, Corporations and Alliances (player groups) often also have affiliate links with sites such as MarkeeDragon to help fund their real world costs. It’s a nice way of helping out community efforts that you appreciate, or contributing to groups you are a member of. This said for a new starter I would advise subscribing directly to CCP to begin with.

Costs correct at time of writing

Costs correct at time of writing

 

“But wait Hark, I heard you can play for free!?” Well this is true, but not something that will be possible without at least subscribing once (well technically it’s possible to Plex in 21 days but if it’s your first time in, you just won’t have the experience to do it). The “PLEX” system (which is how some people play for free) works like this:

When players buy GTC’s (from Markee Dragon etc), they can redeem them in game for items referred to as PLEX. A PLEX (or Pilots Licence EXtension) can be used in game by players to extend their game time by 30 Days, just like the GTC which created them. So if a player redeems a 60 day GTC, they will receive two 30 day PLEX items in game. As these Licences are items within the game, they can, like all items, be traded for ISK. It’s worth remembering that like all other items in the game PLEX can also be destroyed so flying with them is extremely ill-advised.  The main thing however is that if you have enough ISK, you can purchase a PLEX from another player (who has bought it with real money), and use it to extend your accounts time. In essence you are paying another player in ISK, to subscribe your game for you with cash. At the time of writing PLEX cost just under 600m each (and usually fluctuates between 5 and 600m). It is perfectly plausible to pay for an eve account via in game means, however I would advise against setting this as a condition of playing, as a fresh player is unlikely to be able to earn more than the 20m ISK per day needed to survive solely on in game currency.

PLEX

With the cash cost out of the way, let consider eve’s time cost: In my opinion eve is one of the most time flexible MMOs out there (and I have played quite a few) in terms of its time sink. Because eve is a Sandbox MMO, you set your own goals, and play hours. Sure there are some things which a limited playtime might exclude you from (running a Nullsec alliance for example) and others which require dedication (logistics manager for an industrial Corp). but there are plenty of fun ways to play with a “causal” playtime (piracy), just ask Rixx Javix. On the flip side if you are looking for a game which rewards you for time investment, this could very well the best. There are tons of professions and paths which will reward players for patience and dedication. Corporations (a clan) Alliances (think of a clan of clans) and Coalitions (clan of clan clans) survive on the dedication of their members (can you do the can can?), and have corporate structures which would put most businesses to shame, their hungry for players who enjoy not just PvP but also Manufacturing, Organizers and even supply chain experts. Of course if at the end of the day you just want to shoot things, there are plenty of opportunities to do that as well.

 

Fair warning though, eve is a bit of a sensory overload. When you dive in your going to be overwhelmed with choices, and given very little information with which to make them. That is in both the long term and the short, you’ll get used to it. Planning and running your character will be overwhelming, and combat itself is going to be hot sweaty and confusing. Because of this there has always been the perception that as a New player, you never catch up with 5-10 year veterans of the game.

The perception

The perception

This was true 5 years ago when I first joined, I was under the impression that I would always be 5 years behind the oldest players. yet just one year in I was helping to kill the Super Carrier (second largest ship class in the game) of a veteran 2 years older than me.

The fact of the matter is that in reality, the first 6 months of the game will feel like a slog against the odds, progressing, but fighting to do so. Then for the next 1-2 years you will learn fast and hard how the game works and how to play it. In the end, after 2 years you will have an expertise level close to that of a veteran. Sure you will never over take him, after two years, the expertise difference between you will be minuet, and you will always be closing that gap.

actual chart

 

Not put off yet? Excellent, let’s get started:

 

Sign up, character creation and attitude adjustment

 

Eve online does have a free trial, and if you are lucky enough to find a paragon of the game who is willing to go out of their way to help you, you can get this extended from 14 days to 21 days. Thankfully for you I am such a paragon (I kid, I get a free PLEX if you subscribe so if you do subscribe via the links above, eve mail me some feedback and get some ISK in return once you subscribe).

 

So if you intend to join us, click the link above, fill out the form and click the download button. While were waiting for that to download, let’s talk about the first set of choices eve is going to make you make.

 

As you no doubt know by now, eve is a very funny game (funny wtf rather than funny haha) . It is, in many ways the absolute inverse of any other “Themepark” MMO you may have played (I should know, I played WoW for years before converting). Most MMOs begin with a massive choice: Race & class, which define what you can and cannot do with your character and after this much every further decision you make has no lasting effect on the progress of the game, or your character (there maybe one or two forks, but nothing more, and most of them will be reversible). Eve is the opposite: there are no classes and when you pick a race, all you are getting is a few days head start in their preferred weapon systems, and ships. Nothing will stop you from “Cross training” to another race’s ships & weapons, and indeed this is actively encouraged. Think of it like rolling a Dwarf Cleric and then putting it in Heavy Armour, giving a broad sword, and this being a good idea. in eve it’s the choices you make after your race which define your game.

 

So with that in mind Let’s try to summarise the Races in a very distilled fashion. Should you want more Eveopedia gives far better flavour text than I ever will:

 

Amarr – The Religious Zealots

Flavor: The Amarr are ultra-religious, and use this as justification for their expansionist attitude towards the galaxy. When they first reached for the stars they enslaved pretty much everything with a pulse (and a few things without) including another player race: The Minmatar; who later broke free. Needless to say relations between the two are… frayed at best. Thanks to this head start, the Amarr are the most “advanced” of the player races: however this means little in terms of their gameplay balance for players, merely that they created (and get bonuses to using) the most stylized futuristic kit (lasers etc).

Design philosophy: Tanked to the nines

Primary Weapon: Lasers. An excellent weapon system which consumes no ammo (at the entry stages), and lets you change its ammo type instantly (well, within a second).

Secondary Weapon: Drones. See the Gallente section for more details

Tank Type: Armour. Bolting sheets of metal to your ship does much for your survivability, but little for your agility. Armour tanking can make for a slow lumbering ship which can soak up a lot of damage.

 

Minmatar – Down Trodden Tribal Warriors

Flavor: Despite being enslaved during their civilisations (space faring) infancy the Minmatar are doing their best at creating a new nation. The brutal tribal roots show heavily in their in-your-face, seat-of-your-pants ship style. The Minmatar took what they consider to be the best of modern warfare, discarded the rest and duct-taped what was left together. Their rough and ready minimalistic design actually comes out as a stern favourite amongst many eve players. Their late adoption of technology also means they have the most diverse and flexible ships.

Design Philosophy: Fast agile and hits like a war hammer

Primary Weapons: Projectiles. Nothing really beats hurling one and a half meter projectiles tipped with nuclear warheads at the enemy from gigantic chain guns mounted on your hull. These weapons hit hard, but each shot has a long time in-between shot compared to other weapon systems.

Secondary Weapon: Missiles See Caldari for more information.

Tank Type: Varies from ship to ship.

 

Caldari – Capitalists to a fault

Flavor: The Caldari civilisation was originally birthed in the same solar system as the Gallente; and when the Gallente took to colonisation, they peacefully absorbed the Caldari into a sub race of their own. Things didn’t stay peaceful unfortunately, and the Caldari, who practically worship capitalism, found their ideology was being repressed. Long story short, a lot of blood was shed, and the Caldari and Gallente parted ways, when the meet now, it’s generally on the battlefield; political or physical. The Caldari state is ruled by Corporations, and your status is directly linked to your place on the corporate ladder (at least non capsular status anyway).

Design Philosophy: Pretty tanky, with the ability to reach out and apply damage at very long ranges.

Primary Weapon: Missiles. If you want someone to know you don’t like them, write a letter on the side of a kinetic missile and post it to them via the medium of rocket propellant: When it comes to sustained, long range DPS these things are the best. But unfortunately sometimes the enemy gets bored waiting for them to arrive and wonders off.

Secondary Weapons: Hybrids. See Gallente for more

Tank Type: Shields. Keeping the enemy as far away from your hull as you can seems like a good idea, and the Caldari do this very well indeed. Unlike armour, shields automatically replenish and keep your paintwork fresh as they day it was commissioned. Unfortunately the technology involved means that your ships signature can be picked up by a ham radio four systems away.

 

Gallente – democracy is non-negotiable

Flavor: The democratic Gallente worship freedom, and their citizens are free to do whatever they wish. This is a wonderful idea, somewhat sullied by the reality that most Gallente take this as an edict to self-mutilate and cavort like animals. Still, at least their free and democratic animals.

Design Philosophy: as much DPS as you can get.. If you can only get into range to use it.

Primary Weapons: Hybrids are a mix between Projectiles and lasers, using magnetic pulses to send rods of metal (which sometimes melt down to pure plasma: think space shotguns) hurtling towards enemy ships . These are without doubt the highest DPS weapons in the game. Unfortunately you have to get so close to use them, you’re liable to scratch your pretty green paintwork on the enemy’s hull.

Secondary Weapons: Drones. Small unmanned weapons platforms buzzing around the enemy ship. Some Gallente ships can release their minions and just forget about managing offence. Drones are a true fire and forget weapon system. Generally to the point that you do forget them and warp off without recovering them…

Tank Type: Armour, see Amarr for more.

 

Still can’t decide on a race? Or worried that your choice isn’t the right one? Don’t worry, it really doesn’t matter. Ever race is viable, and every weapon system and ship can be trained by every character. Furthermore, the background of each race is pretty irrelevant to capsular from a Role Play point of view. Despite the fact that the Empires still churn out new capsular every day, they  tend to hold few allegiances and are practically a race of their own. The biggest effect that your character creation is going to have on you in the long run, is that it will limit what clothes you can wear. And even that might change one day.

 

Next up it’s time to talk attitudes. Because chances are, you’re going to need to make sure you go into this with the right mentality, or the only mark you will make on our universe is a few tear stains on the forum. This part is going to be easier if you haven’t played an MMO before, those of you who are ex WoW Players, are going to have to work harder to break the preconceptions of what an MMO is. Before you can go any further. Let’s lay down the big one first:

 

Eve is a Sandbox MMO. This means that there are no game set goals, no skill tree, no “level zones”, no main quest and no “starter zone”. Eve will take you through a short series of tutorial missions, and then fire you out into the cosmos to see what you can do on your own. You make your own goals, big or small and set out to make a mark on the universe. Because there are so many players, you need to remember one thing: the goal you set, will always be diametrically opposite to someone elses. Your goal might be to run as many missions as you can. My goal might be to kill as many mission runners as I can. On the other hand you will also find that a lot of players goals will align well with your own. There is safety in numbers, seek players who you can work with to outnumber the people you encounter who work against you. For some people the Sandbox has the effect of true freedom within the game, you will thrive on your ability to pick and choose your goals, and revel in the freedom to make it big or make big mistakes. To others, the Sandbox has the same effect as the Total Perspective Vortex.

 !! Warning the next few sentences contain awful formatting to try and emphasize a point !!

Following on from that point you need to accept the following: you are going to get killed by other players. This is a game which is all about PvP, you will get killed. You will find yourself in a situation where you have zero chance of survival, and where there is nothing you can do to stop another person from shitting in your Cherrios. Other players don’t do this because they are evil basement dwelling psychopaths (they might be, but the chances are slim); but because it’s the game. When you die, you need to move past the rage, and past the hatred for the evil gutter rat who killed you, and to try to understand why and how you died, chances are you did something which made you vulnerable to some form of exploitation. Don’t be afraid to contact your killer, it’s a 50:50 that they will be happy to help you understand what happened. Just remember that players often feed of your tears of rage, so calling them names, or questioning their sexuality will just mean you lost the fight twice: Once in your ship, and once by being a big baby. Don’t rage, or you might help someone win a game of bingo.  If you expect all this from the start, and set out not to win, but to learn from losing, you stand a good chance of getting somewhere.

 

Speaking of which: Nowhere in space is safe. Literally nowhere. Even docked up, with your ship encased within billions of tonnes of metal, you can still lose everything through market PvP and scam artists. That’s right, eve online PvP isnt limited to direct physical engagement. Every second of the game people will be pitting their wits against your to see if they can win.  This is by design, and it’s what makes the game fun. Don’t be fooled into thinking of Highsec as safe, it’s not. This is a live feed of what has been killed in Jita (check the time and dates), Jita is the trade hub of eve, it’s not really equivalent, but think Dalaran (tells you when I left wow huh?). Couple this with the fact that when a ship is destroyed it is… well destroyed, forever, no take backs, and it’s going to hurt when you do get killed (or scammed, or cheated, or taken for a ride). Most eve players fly by the mantra “Don’t fly what you can’t afford to lose” you would be wise to do the same. Spending your every last penny on a shiny new ship, is just asking to have it blown up from under you, Murphys Law is just as applicable in eve as in real life. Should you ignore all of this and allow yourself to be tricked or bullied out of all your money, don’t come crying to people: Most players will turn a deaf ear to cries of “That was my last ship and I invested all my money into it!”. The standard response will always be: “Don’t fly what you can’t afford to lose *shrug*”.  Always have enough funds to replace what you need to function, always have a backup plan, you’re going to need both regularly.

 

Which Segway’s nicely into this: Eve is a game of risk and reward. You are never entitled to anything without putting something of equal or greater value at risk. If you go in thinking you are entitled to make money, you are going to be sadly disappointed. If you want to progress, to earn rewards, you will need to put something at risk. Sometimes you walk away with the reward, other times you get a face full of missiles, and artillery shells. Risk and reward is the beating heart of this game, don’t hope for sympathy if you were expecting one without the other (well you might get risk and no reward, but that’s you’r own silly fault).

 

You may see a depressing theme of death and destruction in these “attitude warnings” and wonder if you really want to get involved into this dreadful game. Remember though, when you set a goal, the more you had to fight against to achieve it, the sweeter your victory will be. If your smart and tenacious, you will be successful, and trust me; eve gives a success feeling like no other game.

 

Has the game downloaded yet? No? Good. One thing you need to learn about eve, is that preparation is everything. Always remember the mantra of the 6 P’s: Prior Preparation, Prevents Piss Poor Performance. People who rush into combat, without fact checking or research tend to end up as smoking wrecks. Go out there and read some more. For information on what people get up to in eve, I heartily recommend the blogs listed in the menu on the right hand side of this page (click the little tab in the top right to pull it out). I also recommend perusing the Isk Guide as well as many of the Guides listed on Jesters Trek most of them will be above your heads at the moment, but peruse them anyway at your leisure.

 

Learning in game and Learning out of game

 

The tutorial missions (which is the next step in this guide), will teach you far better than I can how to manage and use the skill queue. However I need to explain here some basics so that you can understand enough to install and use another program, called eveMon to help you manage your Skill plans.

 

Skill Queue

 

The skill queue is a period spanning 24 hours from now during which you can pick what your character learns over time. When you add a skill to the queue, the length of time it is going to take to learn is blocked out, and you can queue up another skill to start learning once you finish that. You can add as many skills as you like the queue until the entire length is longer than 24 hours, after that you have to wait for the queue to process along enough that the last skill finishes before 24 hours is up to add another skill. Because this skill queue is limited to a 24 hour period, and your longer term plans will undoubtedly exceed 24 hours, it can help to have an out of game tool which will help you plan skill queue as long as you want: this is where eveMon comes in.

 !! The next section talks about API keys. These provide

 

EveMon can be downloaded here and needs to be installed on your computer. Once this is done, you need to add your characters API (permission to get information on your characters training and skills). Do this by clicking “File > Add API Key…” and then clicking the http://community.eveonline.com/support/api-key/ link and logging in. Now click Create API key, name it, check “no expiry” and click the small “(All)” button above each section (you may want to review this later on, but for now there no information of value for anyone to steal from your API). With this done simply copy the Key Id and Verification Code into the corresponding boxes in evemon and click next then finish. You can create plans by selecting you character and then going to “Plans > New Plan…”. Some further guides will ask you to import a guide, you can do this by selecting your character and clicking “Plans > Import Plan from File…”.

 

You should now scroll to the bottom of this article and select the professions guide you’re interested in. Have a look for the skill training download for your chosen Race at the start of the Guide and import this into your eveMon. During the tutorial, if you ever run out of things to train, simply pick the first thing from that list which you can train, and add that skill to you skill queue.

 

Once you have downloaded the client, and created your character. You will find yourself in game and facing the tutorial. Before you move on to the starter guide of your choice, I wish to impart a last little bit of advice:

You are likely a WoW or other “Theampark” MMO veteran and as such, you have been trained to ignore text boxes and to try and jump through whatever hoops the game lays out for you to get to the bacon as quickly as possible. Try not to do that here; the eve combat system (along with pretty much everything else) is a very complex beast, far more so than any other MMO (name an MMO where the speed your target is traveling at effects your chance to hit). Buy reading what Aura (the tutorial) has to say, clicking the links, and exploring further, you will learn vastly more than just jumping through the hoops. Take your time, and try to read and understand exactly what the tutorial is trying to teach you, don’t be afraid to research things you don’t understand (ask /r/evenewbies if you can’t find something). Most eve players will run these tutorials fast, and then spend the next half year learning, through trial and error doing missions, when the tutorials would have taught them in a few seconds of reading. You don’t have the luxury of time. You have chosen to dive into your profession faster than most players finish training for level 1 missions. So make sure you absorb as much information in these tutorials as you can. They might just save your life (and your wallet).

You should go on now to attempt the tutorial missions (and the advanced ones) in all the areas you are interested in before going onto the guides which have tickled your fancy. Good luck, and we will see you on the other side.

My intent is to produce a series of follow on guides aimed at getting you from first login to making money/wrecks in a profession. Below are listed all of the completed guides (and the planned ones). They all start with what you can expect from their end goal, so look through them and pick one which fits best what you want to do in eve and follow it.

 

Follow on Guides:

[Coming soon™] Logging in for the first few days

[Coming soon™] Logging in to Mission Running

[Coming soon™] Logging in to Faction War

[Coming soon™] Logging in to Nullsec

[Coming soon™] Logging in to Low Sec

[Coming soon™] Logging in to Mining

[Coming soon™] Logging in to Manufacturing

[Coming soon™] Logging in to Exploration

 

Our other Guides of use to the new player:

Dual Tank and Dual Spank, and why they suck

The Dirty Guide to: Training into Nullsec

Winter Patch Predictions

During Fanfest CCP released a wonderful little wrap up for the Retribution expansion, detailing that it was exceedingly successful. Numbers back this up, with retribution going on to give a massive increase in players (citation needed I know, I swear there was a follow up to this post by Jester where retribution got a record-breaking final statistic, but I just can’t find it). Since the retribution expansion, CCP have been following the same recipe for effort pretty closely, as I detailed in my post “You say goodbye” looking at CSM recommendations and this recipe.

 

So with the numbers from that post in mind, I think its time for me to give some predictions about the Winter Expansion. Firstly the “Expansion Theme”. I’ve given up hope of a Nullsec orientated theme anytime soon, the fact of the matter is that Nullsec players are already hooked on the game. Why develop cleaner drugs for the addicts when you can make cocaine infused lollipops to get new customers? So I won’t be predicting a Nullsec theme (no matter how much I want it). Instead, from what’s been going around, and reading in-between the lines of the CSM I predict that this expansion theme will be:

 

PvE content (specifically a revamp of missions).

 

Most eve players start their lives as mission runners, and quite a few end them as one. And let’s face it Missions are pretty much as out of date as it gets in the PvE department, I can’t think of a MMO with worse PvE than eve at time of press. A mission revamp would have three clear advantages for CCP going forwards:

 

  1. Bringing new players to the game

If eve can get back to the curve with PvE it might do a better job of recruiting more new players with promises of more traditional MMO content for the masses. I’m not saying raid bosses are coming, but having the equivalent of 5 man dungeons might bring more small groups into the game.

 

  1. Player Retention

Missions are not fun, and players want fun content. Simple as that. Make missions fun, and people might stay around long enough to learn something, and get hooked into PvP.

 

  1. Player progression

Leading on from above, Missions could (but aren’t currently) be a great way to Segwaying players into PvP without the current jump-into-cold-water-from-a-sauna level of system shock.

 

With that core concept in place lets look at the break down of content I expect to see this winter (% numbers are based purely on the retribution recipe):

 

6% UI improvements

I expect to see maybe a bit of drone UI work here. But I am not sure just how much. I suspect this will be a “nice to have” feature for the expansion and may get dropped for a 1.1 or later. Mostly I would expect this to be around the corporation management (enabling the content creators after all), and the mission UI. Wouldn’t surprise me if the Agent system gets another go, if it exists in any form anymore.

 

8% new ships

I expect there to be some new ships (around 1-4), but I really don’t know what form they will take, something linked to missions of course. Personally I would love to see a salvage frigate which could be used for ninja salvaging, but really that’s just a pipe dream.

 

9% revamp

The big part, Missions get a thorough going over. Best hope is that it’s something close to the way CCP did exploration, completely overhauling the dynamic and perhaps even going far enough as to scrap the Agent system for something more dynamic.

 

18% code revamp

The smaller half of the expansion, this is being done partly because it needs doing, and partly because it opens the door to the POS work next expansion (gosh am I doing two expansions worth of predictions now?).

 

10% ship rebalancing

Obvious predictions is obvious. We already know about marauders. Not sure  what will be next . Perhaps assault frigates?  More likely is a begin on the Navy and Pirate factions ships, they are favourite for missions already.

 

49% minor features

These are really hard to predict as what is a “Minor” feature is hard to tell. I expect a lot of life improvements run outwards from the corp code revamp. I also expect a second revision on the Exploration content pushed out last patch, maybe some new modules etc. Perhaps even so far as trading of hacking powerups. I also predict some more ginger toes going into the sea of CREST, alongside other minor tweaks.

 

As I said before I would much rather a Nullsec revamp, but I just don’t think it’s on the cards. I almost would begrudge missions getting a pass though, it is without doubt the most outdated section of the game (well perhaps baring the UI). Better mission content could make for better, or at least fun, money making prospects for individuals, so let’s see. Of course this is purely working off gut feeling mixed with some interpretation, and I expect to be entirely wrong about the expansion.
Fly like Mystic Meg (wrong),

 

Hark

The Skill Dilemma

Seeing as there have been a lot of people looking longingly at their skill queue these last 18 or so hours, I figure it’s a good time to post some thoughts on the training system. For a note to all of those talking about re-imbursements, Poetic does make a very good point about what to expect. Besides, you should all stop complaining, I was on a gate, engaged in a fight when the servers went offline… I doubt CCP is going to reimburse me for my soon to be inevitable loss! Because these downtime is not due to errors, I do wonder if CCP might take advantage and release Odyssey early, after all downtime is downtime right? Anyway, on with the original post.

 

The skill system, is harsh mistress to us capsulars. I can remember as a new player, how over whelming the skill sheet can be; so many skills which you don’t understand, so many ships you want to fly, and so many things your friends say you should train for. When you first start eve the skill queue is like a wall to climb, a barrier between you and the ship of your dreams. So you pick a target, set a straight line, and run for it. Forgetting all the nice to haves, and even some of what people tell you is essential, all go sit your ship quicker.

Rokh

A stack of Rokhs waiting to go on the market

 
For me it was the Rokh. Even though back then, it was only able to field 4 missiles (I was a missile only Caldari like so many before me), I loved a tanky ship, and it doesn’t get much tankier than a Rokh. I didn’t care that with my skills it would have the DPS of a limp slap. I wanted to get one fast, and the skill queue set a strait path towards it. That’s what the skill queue is to a new player, something to rush up. And as you zoom towards your chosen role, you, as I did, miss things. T2 weapons aren’t essential are they? Who needs tech II drones of every race? Level 4 shield resists are high enough right? I can fit what I need with only minor fittings skills so sod em’.

Then you get the big things you want and the skill tree changes its nature a bit. You’ve hit the mid game and you start to look back, and you realise that the wall you have scaled isn’t actually complete. There are some pretty huge holes in it. But there are still goals upwards, still things on the horizon you want so bad. Capitals look amazing, and the other races would be cool, so you could fly  in fleets with your alliance. So you keep climbing onwards towards the bigger goals, but now you take more care, and you don’t rush for ships like you used to. During this period, you might even go back and fill in some of the glaring holes in your wall, just because you have to justify some of the bigger more expensive ships you have or want.

Then, at last, you hit the big time, everything you really wanted is trained, all the races, all the T2’s and a few capitals of course. The skill queue changes its nature once more, it’s not a wall to be climbed, it’s a wall to be painted and patched. So far your rapid accent has left only a few upward strips, so it’s time to go back and fill the rest in. You double down and go back to getting the basics you guiltily knew you should have gotten during the first accent.

DSCN2842

Totaly my skill tree

 
The final stage is what I am looking at crossing into now. All the holes are plugged, and the wall is looking pretty damn solid. All that I have left in front of me is decorating it will a little splash here and there. Sure there are a few ships left to unlock, but none which I can see me flying anytime soon. I’m having to start to think about capping off to level 5’s because there is just no new goals to train towards any more. I suspect I am going to have to set my own goals now, looking at ascertaining “perfect” tanking, or “perfect” gunnery, that’s going to be a long project though.

That’s not to say I am losing interest in the skill queue any more. Far from it, I have enjoyed every stage of the skill game so far, and I expect I will enjoy this next stage just as much. It’s just a sad passing for me now that nothing has that fresh ship feel any more. At this stage in the game the furthest I am from a ship (excluding titans, in which I have 0 interest) is around 60d and that’s just because I would need to train a lot of leadership skills prior to embarking. I’m missing BLOPs, but that’s 7d, I’m missing Marauders, but that’s 6d… even The last carrier I can’t fly is only 38d away (but that will reduce to 9d as of the 4th).

It’s kind of sad that there is no new ship class on the horizon for me, but really I wouldn’t trade my position for anything. There are still plenty of ships I have skilled and never flown, so I am content just enjoying the freedom of having the SP to do whatever I want.

But here is what this whole post comes down to. A message to newer players: I won’t give you the same advice that no doubt everyone around you has given since day one. I won’t tell you to train T2 before you go up a ship class, or to train fitting/core skills before rushing to battleships. I never followed it, and I suspect, nor will you. Here is what I will advise though. Enjoy the progression. Enjoy the rush of finally getting in a new ship, because that will dry up one day. Make sure you make the most of whatever part of the skill game you are in at the moment.

 

Fly like a bitter vet,

 

Hark

BB42: Harkconnan’s Eve Online Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Total: +5 (55/100)

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

Total: +7 (62/100)

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

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

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

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

Total: +29 (116/100)

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

Total: +10 (126/100)

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

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

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

Final Score:
130.55 out of 100

The Safety Net

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Epic Skill guide

Just a quick one today to highlight something that I meant to do before I took my little break form the ‘sphere.

Here is a link to a great post on the forums from Louis deGuerre entititled Louis’s Epic Skill Guide. Its a good list of major skills every new eve player should know and understand. Its even a good bench mark for us older players to check our basics have been covered.

Dual tank and Dual Spank (and why they are bad)

Dual Tank
Dual tanking is probably the most common sin of less than savvy Nullsec residents. It’s a common pitfall because the logic behind it is actually quiet sound.

“I don’t want to get killed out there, so I’m going to fit as much tank as I can. If shields use Mid-Slots and Armor Tanking uses Low Slots, nothing is stopping me from fitting both!”

It’s also supported by a lot of sci-fi background, in which most ships have powerful shields and thick armor plates. Unfortunately the logic and the corroborating literature do not equal a sound decision in EvE. The chances are, if you have (or do) make this mistake, it will be while your fresh and new to the game, when you have little to no experience of the mechanics.

So why is this a sin? First and foremost we have to consider the tanking penalties. We must understand the three key underlining principles of tanking; Buffer (how big your health bar is), Resistances (the % of damage you can ignore) and Repair Rate (how fast the bar will return to full). With both Shield and armor buffer has a disadvantage*. With Armour, your ships mass (and thus is velocity & agility) are penalised. With shield your signature radius  is penalised (making you quicker to lock & easier to hit). This means that by dual tanking, you are going to be slower to get away and faster to lock. You are also going to be twice as easy to hit (Signature radius and speed twice the chance to hit mechanics). The net result of this is that your tank may have increased, but your survivability and your ability to avoid damage has dramatically decreased.

But it doesn’t end here. If you fit a dual rep ship, you are also removing your utility. Part of the balance of the shield types has always been “Shield tankers get to do more damage (low slots free for damage mods), armor tankers get utility (mid slots fit ewar, tackle, etc)”. By fitting a dual rep, your tank now takes up all your utility meaning that you will hit with the force of an intercontinental ballistic marshmallow, and have no ability to range control or perform ewar. A far better idea would be to fit the utility slots left by your tank with things which will help you avoid/remove/control the incoming damage while you tank. Shield tankers can kill the enemy faster with damage mods, and armour tankers slow the enemy down, speed themselves up or stop them from locking.

So is it ever excusable to dual tank? The short answer is No, but in honesty it’s more complex than that. Firstly this doesn’t include other less solid tank types (ewar, speed & stealth) which can sometimes be mixed to great effect (see assault frigates). Secondly, some will argue the dual tanking a bait ship is a good idea. This is because you no longer care about your survivability (your bait, you don’t have any), your only concern is to survive long enough for the cavalry to arrive. However the counter argument is that bait only works if they can point the enemy to prevent escape when the cavalry do arrive. This means they do need mid slots. My final advice is; when in doubt, never dual tank. You will be laughed at when you lose it (and you will).

Mixed weapons
This is a sin you tend to see later in the life of new Null sec players. It also generally also has two flavours; small weapons & big weapons, close range weapons and long range weapons. The former is generally because the player wants to be able to hit tackle and other frigates, the second is because they feel the need to hit an enemy at every range in-between here and Jove.

So why does it make kittens cry? Well this one’s pretty simple in actual fact; it’s a simple case of “jack of all trades master of none”. If your guns can hit all ranges and/or all classes of ships, you will not excel at killing any of them. In EvE ships are designed to force you to make choices (this applies well to dual tanks as well). If you think you have found a way to cover every option, the chances are you have missed something out somewhere. The tank and damage of ships are balanced assuming that the full DPS of a ship is going to be applied to the full tank of the enemy. If your only applying half (or goodness help us a quarter) of your DPS to a target, they are going to laugh at you and hit you back with a full rack of weapons.

Mixed weapons are occasionally excusable. For instance you won’t get laughed out of Null if you fit two Heavy Assault Missile launchers to a Auto cannon hurricane, nor will you for Using a Torpedo & Auto cannon Typhoon. But these situations are easy to spot; when you fit a ship look at its primary weapon type (hint: Ship bonuses, racial weapons & how many turret or launcher slots does it have most of). Fill your ship with this weapon type and if you have slots left over, you can use the secondary weapon system. If you find yourself using two types of turret or two types of missiles you will fall foul of this. In the case given above you can even justify sizing down the secondary weapon system (in the Hurricane example, using light missiles instead of heavys); but you may have to explain your reasoning (killing drones & tackle might fly). But in all honesty, you’re better off fitting a utility High, like a neutraliser.

TLDR;

  • Dual tanking makes you easier to kill
  • Dual tanking makes it harder to run away
  • Mixing weapons is almost always bad
  • If you have to ask if its a bad idea; it is

Thanks for reading

Hark¬

*this applies to the rigs as well

2p: Skill Categories

Just a quick micro blog for the day:

In these days of “New Player Experience” why are skills still sorted in such an awful way? Ok there is a funky kind of logic to the categories (Shields require electronics, Ship construction and Rigging would be done by mechanics), but really its not very user friendly. I put forwards the notion of separating skills by their primary result? novel huh?

Even if you want to keep the meaty sounding names we could still keep them:

Why not add the category “Electronic Warfare Theory”, thus allowing us to designate Engineering to Shield Skills only?

Adding “Production” and “Rigging” would make Rigs, Ship construction and Armor skills fit into neat categories.

Navigation is a prime example of what a skill category should look like.

Maybe it’s just a touch of OCD causing me to dislike having Skills share categories*, but I honestly think that this is pretty overwhelming to new players. It should even be a low hanging fruit for CCP as well…

Just my two pennies worth,

Hark¬

*OK so it’s a lot to do with this. I have no production skills, but I do armor tank. I hate the fact that despite having L4 in all armor skills, the category still looks half empty!