Posts Tagged ‘PvE’

Eve Online: The start of another 10 year Journey?

Well that’s the new expansion announced, seems kind of early to me but maybe that’s just the horrid spring we’re having here. Some one at CCP has been reading their classics as our expansion has been named Odyssey  If I remember correctly it took Homer 10 years to get home from Troy, coincidently the same amount of time eve has been released for this year. Perhaps this is CCP’s way of aiming for another ten years.
As regular readers will know I was really pinning this expansion on being a Nullsec  one (more out of hope then anything else). Obviously with only a name and a few paragraphs of gumph, its hard to say exactly where this one is going. Certainly from the headline text, its going to be about exploration… again. All the quoted text here is taken from the expansion page http://www.eveonline.com/odyssey (which is all I have seen yet as I haven’t had time to review any other sources). So here we go:
Welcome to EVE Online: Odyssey
EVE Online’s nineteenth free expansion, Odyssey, offers new tools for exploring the stars, challenges you to breach the unknown for adventure and rewards, and to face what lies on the other side. A re-imagined scanning system, intuitive navigation and new exploration modules will aid you as you search the heavens for your next conquest. Some will encounter sites never discovered before, and others will be confronted with intriguing tests of skill and resolve. Ample rewards await those that return from their journeys with ships intact.
Lots of interesting stuff, but lets hold fire till the little detail we have:
DISCOVERY SCANNER
Using this new system, more pilots will reveal the hidden secrets of the EVE Universe. Beautiful new visuals, customizable controls and new functionality have been added to encourage the adventurer in everyone. There is now more among the stars, enticing even the most experienced veterans to explore.
Interesting one this one. At worst this will just be another iteration on the scanning system, updating it to a more modern system. At best this could be a massive change to the way that scanning, intelligence and communications work. There has been some back and fourth for while now on the idea of revamping the way Intel is gathered in eve. Specifically removing the concept of local chat away from the best method of determining who is in the system. Could this be the first step along that road?
THE WAR MACHINES
Forged by the lessons learned from countless combat pilots, the four factions will issue forth with the latest tools of war and re-designs of old favorites – ships as awe-inspiring as they are deadly.
Sound the klaxon,  ring the bell! That sounds suspiciously to me like “New ships”. Could just be new modules, but then why not just say that?  Gods lets hope its new ships, everyone loves new ships.
A NEW “SPACESCAPE”
A rebalance of major areas of space from highsec to nullsec include changes in exploration sites, industrial resources, some types of NPC loot and more…
Again this could be the first step down the road of removing moon goo, although with a  wider scope around it. Color me intrigued.
THE STORYLINE CONTINUED
The shared EVE Universe storyline continues to evolve following the Battle for Caldari Prime, with participatory events spawning unique player stories in two games at once.
Blah blah blad, more live events for people who live in Europe and don’t work. Good but its not going to get me to take my pants off and dance on the table.
THE LITTLE THINGS
Continued development towards raising accessibility without removing functionality will bring dozens of changes to player-owned starbases, game UI and beyond.
Good to see this effort continuing (as if there was any doubt at this stage), great to see that POS’s will be getting some love after all, even if its not the full Monty (well done two step).
All in all its an interesting set of notes, with what could be diamonds in the rough. All in all I have to admit that my first impression is disappointed. I was really hoping to see EVE Online: Fixing the shit we said we would in dominion, but this really doesn’t look to be that. I honestly feel that Nullsec has been left out in the cold a little too long (lets face it as a group were starting to pine for attention. Such is the way of things however. 
Guess we’ll all be watching for the next press releases.
Fly slightly disappointed but not surprised,
Hark

Social: History of Dirt [GBB]

Dirtys: Lore, Shelly, Thunder (original), Hark, Mini, Toon and Arian to name just a few
Eve online is quite possibly the most social MMO I have ever played. I say this as a fact because I believe that the chances of a new player continuing to play eve past the three month barrier is severally affected by how quickly they can penetrate, or create a social group. Without friends, sponsors or benefactors; a new eve player will likely wilt under the harsh exposure to the reality of eve. It was because of this inescapable fact that my first foray into this universe failed after a few weeks. But today I want to dwell more on my second/third attempt at joining eve because the very same principles ensured my, and indeed our success.
As all good stories do, this one starts with a statement that things started before the point the statement initially talks about: Long before I started playing eve seriously (perhaps even at all, I can’t remember the very first time I played) I joined the Battlefield 2142 Troop of a clan by the name of  The 22nd SAS Regiment Gaming Clan, or 22sas for short. I was still at Uni at the time, so as all students do, I had a lot of time to invest in gaming. It wasn’t long after I joined that I first met Ex3cu7or.
I’m sure you have all met the type of player I am thinking of here; numbers and letters in his name, 12 years old, types in all capitals and has a questionable affinity to the word ‘fag’? This was not Ex3cu7or, you see despite his name (which you might take as an early attempt at meta gaming), Ex was as it turned out a good gentleman of excellent standing. At first  the clan fell for the meta game name and mistook his excellent grasp of tactics for cheating. However a quick look at server records, and from his own teams point of view soon showed that no malpractice was going on. So we began the task of wooing him into our clan. It didn’t take long.
Ex and myself got on famously and before long we were placed into the positions of Troop Leader and Second in Command respectively. Our personalities worked well in this together, my attention to detail and patience offset by Ex’s impulsive sense of fun and aggressive tendencies, furthermore both of our senses of humor matched perfectly. Along the was we soon picked up several other friends with similar humor and complimenting traits:
  • Lore Solo, a fellow 2142 player
  • Fliske a counterpart in the Battlefield 2 Troop
  • Thunder who played both Ghost Recon and BF2
  • Crazyfrotto – BF2 player
  • Scouts – BF2 player
We all got along great and formed fast friendships. Sometime in 2008 we discovered that most, if not all of us had at some time in the past to varying degrees of success, attempted to play eve online. Further more we all found that we had an urge to try again, this time as a group. Our clan allowed any member to play with they liked (as long as they kept up with their responsibilities in the clan), and so we jumped in, inviting other members of the clan to join us in our SAS ClanCorporation. I should not that when joining eve, Ex3cu7or took on the name “Arian“, as such he is called both frequently.
Its worth noting that Just as we were beginning our first group play of eve online, the 22SAS Clan was entering into a new period of subversive politics. Put simply, the old guard of the clan didn’t like that they were out numbered by the 2142 members and felt threatened by us. Eve was an excellent escape from this (using eve as an escape from politics, oh my), although at some points the politics did spill over into the game, but for the most part we enjoyed  ourselves running missions and skilling for new ships.
Soon our core group started to change though. Arian and Lore were the first (as the players with the most experience), to start gravitating towards PvP. However there was a problem: carebearism. A lot of the people who had followed us into the game (none from our core group!) were not in the slightest bit interested in PvP, they were happy enough playing eve online ignoring other players except their handful of friends: The very concept of going out to engage in combat with others was way out of the question. There was a bit of an internal war, followed by a parting of ways between sub groups, and our now much slimmer clan group, led by Scouts, applied to join a Corporation called Virtual Warriors. All this happened in around a half year and suddenly I found myself about to sit my final exams at University, and so eve very much took a back burner for around a half year.
Sadly the SAS clan also took my time away as a good excuse to turf me and Arian out of our leadership positions in the Clan (Arian was also on personal leave at the time). We both soon decided that we had had enough of the politics and posturing now infesting the Clan, writing our leaving posts before the year was out. However I was soon pulled back in to eve by the power of our social group. Arian called me one day to catch up, and we got to chatting about eve: Arian who I don’t think had taken a break was still in Virtual Warriors (as was my inactive character); who were currently fighting a war, the pull was to much, I re subscribed. I only really saw the end of the war that killed ED but what I did see was amazing, Czech Lions & Riverini’s fleets and the final evacuation of our space. VW left ED in June 2006 (a few months after I returned).

From here our corp had a rocky road, our hearts were never truly far away from 0.0 space, although our clones often lived elsewhere. We tried joining two Alliances who turned out, after the heady heights of Ethereal Dawn, to be down right terrible, and moved on quickly. While we worked out what to do next booked into the homeless shelter known as Providence under CVA. With the bad taste of Dark Taboo and Vanguard. Alliances in our mouths we decided that we would be unlikely to find an Alliance who could live up to the expectations set by ED, and so with some friend we had made along the way we decided to try our own hand at this alliance business. Forming IMPERIAL LEGI0N in September 2009. It took us 3 months to find our first patch of 0.0 space (Geminate) under the watchful eye of Wildly Inappropriate, only to be turfed out when RA/SOLAR caved in the heads of our new Masters.
It was about here that our sub group actually gained its name: Dirties. At the time Imperial Legion Alliance was running  sortie missions into RA/SOLAR space and trying its best to entertain a Nullsec PvP based membership, while not living in 0.0. Our sub group which now included Lord Drokoth (CEO of our alliances Co Founding Corp The Army of the Ori) was as boisterous, rude and fun as ever before. Unfortunaty Imperial Legion was a family friendly alliance and as such had a quite a few members who had children. Sadly a smaller sub set of this group decided that they could only ever play eve with speakers on, and soon complained about some of our language. It is my opinion that if you have children, it is your responsibility as an adult to ensure that they don’t hear naughty rude words or inferences and as such you should buy a headset, not complain until the offending parties are made to go elsewhere, but I digress. Grumbling but compliant, our group was only allowed to use adult words in a sub sub channel (called the pub), we also created a private in game chat channel over which we could use what ever language we fucking well wanted. The channel was called Dirtys (spelling now intentional) and it was intended to keep the dirt of off the open coms.
The Alliance once again found a new master when R.A.G.E Alliance (again the NC) gave us another home in the Vale of the Silent in February 2010. This time we managed a good 7 months in our new home before another combined Russian force (this time including L.E.M Alliance) booted us from our homes. This time, with our own communications channels keeping us close to the friends we left behind; Arian, Lore and Myself left Imperial Legion to experience life working in a large scale alliance: RAZOR.
RAZOR, and our corporation within it (Nailortech) was an interesting group, although we found it quite difficult to integrate with the Corporation on the level we had been used to within Imperial Legion. I should explain that we had been a major part of the Imperial legion since its inception, we were used to being a recognised part of the community, with voices and people we knew and loved always around. Nailor was a good bunch and they were friendly and helpful as you might expect, but it was still a bit of a shock to our systems. I’m sure with tome Nailor would have become  just as familiar to us, but sadly Nailortech left the NC for greener pastures in June 2010. We to took our leave of them and returned to our old friends and home, IMP-L. In the time we had been away, the Alliance has made friends with our two time bailiffs: SOLAR FLEET, and were now comfortably housed back in Geminate, as their vassals.
Upon returning we also gained two new members to our Dirtys (now 7 eve players strong) in the form of Toonlad, who had joined Imperial legion just before we had left for RAZOR, as a very young character. We also acquired Minijack, whos Cearbear corporation had fled IMP-L at the first sign of combat: Unlike his corp Mini got a taste for blood and so joined VW. IMP-L did well during the period expanding further into Geminate and beginning to establish a forwards base in Insmother during the Russian Civil War (fighting alongside SOLAR). In late March 2012, with the Russian Civil War in its closing stages, IMP-L, for the first time, elected to move its home once again to a new constellation in Scalding Pass (losing its Geminate home but keeping the Insmother secondary). Here it was charged with organising SOLAR FLEET’s English speaking allies and forming a sub coalition to aid in the spaces defence. Things didn’t always go to plan, but IMP-L did well in its job and its members had a good home for a long time.
Over a year later in late 2012 the Dirt group (tagged in other games as GBB, don’t ask what it means), decided to move onward in their eve careers. Some of our members have found homes in other Alliances, some have returned to the simple pleasures of small gang pvp, others have even left the game. We who are left however, maintain this blog, and keep the group going. On our own Voice coms we keep in close touch with all our members old and new, we also support and help each other in any way we can. Its this camaraderie which has made us successful in eve, its our trust and real life friendship which keeps us going.
We are Dirty. We are not a corporation, we are not an alliance: We are friends. We are Dirt before we are anything else, we will be Dirt after everything else is long gone. We don’t worry about our group causing a conflict of interest with our separate Alliances, because we know our friends respect our choices, and would never ask us to betray them. Dirties still fly together on our alts and on our mains, making a point to get drunk and die in stupid ways on regular occasions.

Footnotes

This article is based around the members of Dirties who have played eve online. There are considerably more of us than this, however I have not included them in this history as people reading this blog are most likely interested only in our eve credentials. It has also been written very much from my own point of view, as its the only one I have. There are more stories in the history of Dirt, perhaps others might tell them as well some day.
Also worthy of note is the current residence of the majority of the eve dirties. Indeed regular readers may note that I have never directly stated where we reside at the moment. This is intentional, but not designed to completely cover our Alliance ticker. We have elected to downplay our current employ as we are not a direct voice for that group, nor do we intend to talk much about the politics or nuances of being in that group. This blog is written from the perspective of Dirties, and Dirties does not belong to any Alliance (actually it kind of belongs to several, but that’s by the by). If anyone really cares to know who that group are, it wont take much to find out. All we ask is that people consider what we have to say without pre judging us by who we fly with (well except that we fly with each other, and thats bad enough).
Fly with friends,
Hark

Peace in Our Time

Regular readers will already know that I both love and hate the Sovereignty system by which 0.0 alliances live and die by. On the one hand I hate the Imbalance of Money between the Alliance and the Pilot and I hate going on structure grinds. But at the same time, what draws me so deep into eve is a thirst for supermassivebattles between entities represented by us, its members in our Star ships.
But here is the clincher… of the last few large scale fights I have been involved in, all but one were generated by either Moon Mining or Structure Bashing. So if the things I hate generate the thing I love, surely I must love the things I hate? Or is it that because the thing I love defends and supports the things I hate I must hate the things I love? I don’t know about you, but I’m getting dizzy. The problem is that the good and bad of 0.0 are deeply intertwined together, and its about time that’s changed.
A lot of people, up to and including CCP have started talking about replacing the Sovereignty system with something new and one of the big crowd pleasers at the moment is that of the tug of war, also known as the Bottom Up Sov mechanic. The basic idea of this is that the individual actions of members of the alliance directly affect the alliances control of their sovereignty in the systems which those actions take place. For example, running an anomaly boosts your alliances control in that system. Now I agree with a lot of the goals this concept sets out to solve. Large sprawling alliance  couldn’t maintain hold over more systems than their members can actually use. Small Alliances could be pains in the royal proverbial of large alliances. Control of the Alliance would be placed more in the hands of its member than the elite select of its directors. And these are all great. Except for one big issue.
Glorious Space battles. The problem with the new system is that it has thrown the baby out with the bathwater. Yes the Sovereignty system sucked, and yes it caused more hassle that it did fights, but when the system did work, on that rare time when things slotted together in the right order; It was glorious. By emphasising the individual we would lose the drivers for alliance sized conflict. 500 on 500 man fights wont happen over an anomaly. Three opposing fleets wont vie for control of a magnometic site.  Who is going to hot drop a hauler spawn?
I’m sure some would argue that if CCP made some of the “control sites” large enough (say 500 pilots needed to complete) we would get these huge fights, but even then, we are talking about forcing PvP players to PvE, and that’s a bad thing in my books. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that individual contributions have no place in a new Sovereignty system, but I really disagree with using them as a basis to build our entire structure on.
My opinion is that any new Sovereignty should complete four main goals:
  1. Get more money to members (ether forcing the top to hand it down, or starting it at the bottom and forcing members to feed it upwards)
  2. Stop Blue-balling (in other words generate massive fights)
  3. Allow cross timezone combat
  4. Allow smaller alliances to be smaller pains in the side (amount of pain size relative)
Now I don’t have a magic answer to how we complete all of these, especially stopping blueballs in this current climate of risk aversion. But I do know what a good solution looks like, and I don’t think this is it. That’s said, I believe it could be a small part in a bigger solution.
Fly in big fleets
Hark

Ctrl-Alt: The Splinter Cell

Money is a massive restriction on every Character in eve. Without money, we cannot do anything in this game, even skills (which you would think were the greatest limiter to what you can and cannot fly) require you to have ISK before you can purchase them. As a result most players, myself included, have at least one alt; The money maker.

Its always important in eve to have multiple sources of ISK generation funding whatever activity’s you want to enjoy. This is because in the eve sandbox, your income source, like your ships, are never safe. Miners never know when the next Hulkageddon/Ice Interdiction will be, traders don’t know when the market will crash, Mission runners cant tell what will happen next patch. In my recent history I have invested and profited from 6 other income streams, all of which have since been abandoned (and replaced) due to external pressures reducing my profits, a few more have stayed constant, but they are a minority. I have explored a further 3 possible sources, and either rejected them, or placed them as a backup plan should a current method begin to fail. My money maker has only very occasionally engaged in PvP because its just not profitable; Well, until now that is.

My alt, and its corporation (with my friends alts as members), have joined Factional Warfare; we missed the “Gold Rush” I know, since CCP have nerfed the ability to make money for nothing out of FW, but we were interested to see if FW could become at least a minor income source to fund our mains while simultaneously supplying frequent PvP. We didn’t exactly make it easy on ourselves either, joining the Caldari fight on pretty much the same day they lost their last system.

So the Golden Question: “can you make money doing PvP in FW?”. Short answer: Yes. Our corporation has been in FW for 18 days (at time of writing), and our least active member has made 480m ISK, our highest money maker (me) has made 1.2bn ISK. Lets look at some details. Firstly I should confess: I have not so far treated FW as a PvP activity. Lets take a look at my fitting:

 


Limited 1MN Microwarpdrive I
Adaptive Invulnerability Field II
3x 200mm AutoCannon II (Hail S)
Medium Ancillary Shield Booster (Cap Booster 50)
Small Shield Extender II
2x Nanofiber Internal Structure II
2x Small Polycarbon Engine Housing ISmall Anti-EM Screen Reinforcer I

I made the early decision to begin my FW experience with the intent of seeing how much money I could make as quickly as possible and then, once I had built up a nest egg (and paid back the startup costs) I would start to be more aggressive in my plexing. I soon decided that the best way to do this, would be to run complexes and avoid combat. Step 1 was to take the fastest ship I could create (a 3900m/s variant of the above fitting) and make safes all around FW low sec; off gates, sun safes tactical points. With these spread around our hunting ground, I begun to farm everything and anything I could find. The process goes something like this: Find a small or novice plex in a system you feel safe entering (ideally empty!), trigger the plex, and kill the NPC inside. Fly to the edge of the activation sphere (furthest away from the entry point) and jettison a can to orbit. Watch local for 10-15 minuets. Doing this even at Teir 1 of FW control earns you 5,000-8,750 loyalty points (double this at Tier 2); and for reference 1000 loyalty point earns you roughly 1.2m ISK if you are smart about how you spend it. Now like I said, this isn’t really PvP money making, I have several layers of safety between me and non-consensual PvP.

 

Look I’m sorry FW players, but I wanted to make cash, is that really so bad? I expect people like me piss you off, but half the time the ship I am warping away from is a Navy Comet/Hookbill. Even if I was PvP fit, your just looking for a cheap kill, and I am just looking not to die, so that’s life. Now I’ve made a billion, I do intend to switch to a more PvP centric ship.

Before you get too angry with us as a collective, you should know that I am the anomaly in our little group. Arian, Lore and Minijack have all been PvPing. They have informed me that FW is a bit like a solo low sec roam, except that if you don’t find anyone to fight, you get paid, rather than going home empty handed, I believe that Arian at least intends to write about his PvP experience soon. They do (and I intend to start) FW in a different way. Flying to a plex, and using the same steps I use above to judge any potential opponent, and engage if they feel it’s a fair fight. If they win they get some LP, if they loose they fly home and start again. By my calculations at Teir 2, you need only do 1-2 novice sites (10 mins each) or 1 Small site (15 mins) to earn the value of a T1 frigate fully fitted and insured.

Strangely enough the fair fights happen more than you might expect as well! This is because Faction War has a tiny element which makes a world of difference. The plex sizes. By placing restrictions on what can enter certain plexes one major factor which makes for “bad fights” has been removed: Up-shipping. If I am in a novice the worst thing I have to fear, is a faction frigate (and I’ve heard talk of even restricting these), even better if I am in a faction frigate, there is nothing in a novice plex which I can at least attempt to engage. Of course unfortunately “blobbing” (can you really call 2-3 ships a blob?) can still happen, but as FW tends to be the realm of small 2-5 man gangs, so even that is a relatively minor issue.

Its not all sunshine and ponies though, FW, in my opinion does still need some tweaks. Mostly its around the concept for teamwork. Teamwork is required in FW, else you would never take and hold the space. However in the actual plex’s, very little is required at all. It has always amazed me that as a Massively multiplayer Game, eve have very little PvE content which requires you to group up. I was kind of hoping FW might be the exception to this. Sadly I don’t really think thats the case. As a solo player you are perfectly capable of doing FW sites, however, you will spend more time in-between plexs looking for a system where its safe to do one, you will also frequently be chased out of a PLEX (this happens more to me than some one in a PvP fit ship, because I am a yellow bellied bastard). The answer of course it to bring friends. Unfortunately plex rewards are split between every one within the sphere of influence at the time of completion. This means that if you do bring a friend to help dominate the plex and hopefully kill/scare and solo war targets, your only going to be getting half the profit.

This means that as a solo coward farmer you need to spend 50% of your time not in a plex, to be less profitable than having a friend join you, and that assumes your gang of two never gets chased away, and goes directly from plex to plex. This is unlikely but lets assume you might increase your efficacy occasionally by splitting up in a system to do two plexs at once. As a result its much more profitable to go it alone, and that disappoints me. In my ideal world, FW would be something that you could do solo, but at a far lesser profit rate as if you were to bring some friends along, but perhaps that is a pipe dream.

My only other complaint is that FW is only slightly more interesting than missioning running. It is true that killing lots of  red crosses is less interesting, than killing one and then doing nothing (with the fear of being killed). But any game activity which can require you to do literally nothing for 10-25 minutes, is going to bore you fast.

We are loving Faction Warfare, and its proving to be a very profitable source of income for my main account. Further more getting paid to PvP is a refreshing change in eve (even if I haven’t really being PvPing), and something I wish could be applied to nullsec. My final thought is that FW is a great way to introduce new players to PvP, in my opinions new characters should get the option to start in the FW corporations of their choses faction as their starter corp… It would need some extra tutorials, but my goodness could we bread a new line of combat hardened pilots fast.

Fly like a coward

Hark

 

From <http://extra-vehicular.org/wp-admin/post.php?post=91&action=edit>

Epic: The Right to Rule

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

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

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

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

[Machariel, L4]

7x 800mm Repeating Artillery II (EMP L)

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

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

3x Large Capacitor Control Circuit I

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

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

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

Fly like a tight bastard,

Hark¬

Back Track Part 2

The first part of this article can be found here

Well in just two short days I have now completed the SoE Epic Arc “Blood Stained Stars” and I have some final thoughts on it.

Lets talk about how I think the Arc stands up to new players. First and foremost, I don’t know how well advertised this arc is to new players now, but I do know this: its not enough. I cant begin to think how awesome I would have found this when I first stared mission running, and furthermore to a “Theme Park” MMO player, this kind of structured sequential mission might help bring them further into the eve mindset. Its rewards are also great for the newer player, giving some good cash, and a vital boost to empire standings which are oh so important to the early career mission runner.

However there is a problem using the epic arcs to bring theme park players into eve. Its that of progression; like many things in eve the learning curve is more of a wall. A theme park player would run this, and love it, then be faced with grinding for months (and train into Battleships) to get enough standing to run a level 4 epic arc. As they stand (assuming players are pushed into them forcibly) they are a great way of getting players into eve, with some more at the in-between levels, they could be amazing.

And not onto my impressions as an older player. I really enjoyed it, sure the missions were ridiculously easy, and there was a lot of running around high-sec (see the picture at the end). But I really liked the story (yeah I’ve never actually read mission requests before), and actually the reward wasn’t exactly chicken feed. Ok so the money was (I think I made about 5 mill without salving across 5 hours), but at the end of the arc, the ability to pick any of the three factions to gain a chunk of standings towards, is priceless. I picked the Amarr (as I can already run the Caldari Epic Arc “Penumbra”) and gained around 0.4 standing to the faction (8.4% increase with Connections 5, ans Social 4 from a start of 5.4) meaning I can now run theirs as well.

So the (5)million isk question: Would I run it again? yes.
Further more I intend to also run both the Caldari and Amarr arcs very soon. I hope these might provide some more challenge (and reward). Ill add some posts on them when I get to them.

Final notes from my log:

If you happen to have a good battleship in Hek there are two missions there which actually have battleships in. With total bounties worth around 10m isk each, you might be tempted to run these. If you do, the missions are back to back and, in the second one you should refrain from destroying the power source untill you have moped up the BS’s, as killing this (as per mission objective) will destroy the ships with no bounty for you.

My final set up was as follows:

[Hurricane, Sisters]

6x 220mm Vulcan AutoCannon II (Phased Plasma M)
2x Small Tractor Beam II

Large Shield Extender II
2x Tracking Computer II (Tracking Speed Script)
10MN Microwarpdrive II

Damage Control II
3x Tracking Enhancer II
2x Gyrostabilizer II

3x Medium Core Defense Field Purger I

6x Warrior II

I grouped my weapons in sets of two and one shot’d most rats, although I did still have a few tracking issues, never had to deploy the drones though.

For the newer player here is an idea of what ship types you can use:

  • Battleship: to big, wont track anything
  • Battlecruiser: Very Easy mode
  • Cruiser: Easy mode
  • Destroyer: Medium
  • Frigate: Hard but doable with good skills/modules

Here is the rough area you will travel in:

Back Tracking

Its been kicking around in the back of my head for a while now that I still haven’t actually experienced any of the Epic Arcs, and this weekend, I decided to being rectifying this issue.

My plan is to begin with the Sisters of Eve Epic Arc: The Blood Stained Stars, which is generally referred to as the extended tutorial roughly equivalent to a level 1 mission. This said my research found mixed responses as to which ship was best to bring, responses varing from Battlecruiser all the way down to, “ah just a rifter’ll do it”.

Of course being a nullsec pilot, and thus master of the blob, I elected to bring the biggest recommended ship,  the Battlecruiser. Of course typically for me this meant that on my alt (who flys mostly Minmatar in combat), that I am about to embark on an epic arc with ship due to be nerfed in 2 days. I guess I could pretend this is a last Huzar for the Hurricane of old. As the missions seem to mostly involve fighting frigates with a few BC thrown in for good measure (or so the wiki’s say), I opted for a tracking fit ‘cane with 220mm AC’s. Fitting bellow:

Note: I changed this as I went to a more efficiently scroll to the end for my recommended fitting

[Hurricane, SoE]
6x 220mm Vulcan AutoCannon II
2x Small Tractor Beam II

Medium Shield Extender II
2x Adaptive Invulnerability Field II
10MN Microwarpdrive II

Damage Control II
3x Tracking Enhancer II
2x Gyrostabilizer II

3x Medium Core Defense Field Purger I

6x Warrior II
And promptly set off for the starter system Arnon ( IX – Moon 3 to be precise). I’ll admit now that the main reason for this fun little jaunt is purely personal interest (and information gathering for my future plans to run the Caldari Arc Penumbra), but I also think there is a lack of publicity and information about these missions out there for newer players, so I intend to give some feedback, and publicity to this arc for any new players who might happen upon this blog.
So without further ado, I shall alt tab away from this text, and accept the first mission…
Ok, so first mission done, and they say that first impressions are always important so: it makes you jump 2 jumps to fly to a site, kinda boring, but I can understand that to a new player, seeing destroyed Dreadnoughts and Battleships might be worth the trip (the visuals are pretty stunning).
I’ll run a few more and report back when I have enough thoughts…
First 10 missions done now, pretty fun so far although very very easy. the ‘Cane has been one hitting everything so far (all frigates). It started out with quite a bit of travel although later started to settle down to just one system. This said, the later missions were very repetitive (go to x, kill y, rescue z). flying to the next chapter now, wondering if an assault frigate might be a better ship just for the faster warp speed!
Another few done now, further adjusting the can fitting, not quite suggesting a full downsize yet as I’m not one hitting every ship I see (although its still tempting as I think that’s due to my gun size). However I am adjusting my fitting by removing a load of tank to add-in some Tracking Computers (see my final fitting). 
Its also worth noting that for some of the missions you can remote accept/complete missions, one set in Hererget I managed to complete only docking twice (start and end of the chain) saving me a lot of time (If only mission running always worked like this…)
Anyway that’s about all for my playtime now so ill finish this arc up later and give some final thoughts on it.

[Hurricane, Sisters]
6x 220mm Vulcan AutoCannon II (Phased Plasma M)
2x Small Tractor Beam II

Large Shield Extender II
2x Tracking Computer II (Tracking Speed Script)
10MN Microwarpdrive II

Damage Control II
3x Tracking Enhancer II
2x Gyrostabilizer II

3x Medium Core Defense Field Purger I
6x Warrior II

Fly halfway across the galaxy
Hark¬

The second half of this article can be found here

PVE content/ mission shake up idea

As many of you do not know me and how horrifically bad I am at all forms of PVE you may not realise the irony of me writing about PVE at all. My interest in eve pretty much begins and ends with blowing living things up, occasionally I have toyed with other bits of this wonderful sandbox but never for very long before the call off blowing people up becomes the be all and end all of my eve life again.

But this is not the case in every game I have played and Harks previous post touched on something that struck a chord with me, one of my bug bears with current missions is the monotony of; dock, choose mission, travel to mission, do mission, travel back to dock, receive reward, rinse repeat ad nauseam. From the point of view of a systems analysis a lot of those steps seem redundant especially in some high future with instantaneous communications (even if you read the books the agents rarely meet the pod pilots in person).
To me it makes more sense if, as Hark eluded to, missions ran more like the “heart quests” in Guild Wars 2, however I would like to take this further towards another source of inspiration: Rift. In Rift you would get “Rifts” spawn at random in the game zones and you could then step into them and attempt to close them by defeating waves of enemies. If you did especially well and killed the waves fast enough or met some particular requirement of that rift you would get bonus waves, this could be achieved by doing this content as a group, or to a lesser extent perfecting your character. The bonus stages of course, that got progressively harder, granted progressively better loot.

I wonder if a similar mechanic would not fit well within the eve world, we already have incursions which could roughly compare to “world events” in other MMO’s but I think a riftesque system could work very well in eve working something like this:

Enter new system

Click a hud/Neocom button which sends out a request for jobs in the system. This checks why you have standings with in the system, and if they have any work.

You are contacted by the systems agent with coordinates for a mission (a possibility here to have an attacking factions give counter missions).

You warp to the area and start face-rolling the F keys.

The missing begins spawning waves of enemy each escalating in difficulty, roughly equivalent to the waves number in mission difficulty (wave 1 = lvl 1, wave 2 = lvl2).

Each wave has a count down timer, which if exceeded ends the mission, this means the player skills at choosing targets at correct range, minimising transversal, reaction times, etc are actually important.

If you get to a high stage and the time runs out that wave will attempt to warp out, encouraging PvE players to learn and use PvP skills in PvE content (getting points on valuable targets). On the other hand if the player finds them selves overwhelmed by the mission, they will need to develop the PvP centric skill of getting the fuck out of dodge (e.g. killing points, using range etc). [Hark] further to this, why not give each wave a single faction rat  (keeping the overall wave value the same) which attempts to warp away and de-spawn if attacked

Once the mission ends, either by you warping out or by you failing to complete a stage in time, you are given your loyalty point and cash reward based on ships killed and stage attained. If you wish another mission hit the button again and get ready to warp to a new location.

The benefits of this is that the missions themselves will actually scale to the ability of the player, and/or the size of the group, in both difficulty and reward. It also means “afk-ing” missions or botting will not return the rewards that skilled play and groups can, in fact if groups fling more PvP orientated group fits it means they could get to very high stages and, when the mission overwhelm them,

This idea itself can even scale. [Hark] why stop at level 4? if the mission has more than one ship in it, allow it to go up-to 8 waves and give the players a reward for actually working together. If the site could be procedurally generated, why have a hard limit on waves? New players could judge the level of a corporation by their max wave completion level.

It could run the way I just mentioned in high sec, but how about low and null or even faction war?

In low sec you could hit the find mission button and have a mission generated for the faction you have standing for, but if someone has standing for the faction you are against why not have them given the mission to stop you? This may have great application for faction war and lead to more opportunities for solo and small gang warfare PvP.

In null this could be part of the sov mechanic, Ripard teg wrote an interesting post on his blog recently, in it he outlines and idea for PvE missions actually conducted in null to effect sov, well if his idea and mine were put together we could have enemy gangs fighting over these missions sov holders trying to escalate the waves, and attackers trying to kill them, maybe even gangs warping in multiple times to try and interrupt others progression or even wholesale force them out and take over the progression! (I actually used to do this in enemy held areas in Rift, I would sneak in and watch from outside a rift until what I felt was the optimum time to dive in and kill the rift runner and then complete the rift for its rewards myself, it was a hell of a buzz and would regularly lead to me being chased out of areas or corpse camped, but it was, most importantly, fun!

I am sure there are other ways to improve or change this basic idea and I invite other people to comment and add to it, but to me it seems to address a lot of my main issues with PvE. Travel time, monotony, lack of skill reward, lack of reason to group up, lack of training for later potential content etc, botting and AFK’ing missions, etc, what do you think?

The problem with PvE

November 14th, 2012
Uncategorized

1 Comment

First off let’s address the elephant in the room on this topic: PvE in eve is not fun. I understand that there are missions runners out there who log into eve only to grind out another World Collide mission in their CNR/Golem and love it. In fact for a while I was even one of them (my alt has a 9.0 sec standing towards the Caldari Navy), and I will concede that in the early days of my eve carrier I enjoyed mission running with my friends. But with the discovery of PvP, as soon as I had met all my goals(able to do lvl4’s) I pretty much stopped missioning. Oh sure once every so often I dust off the Mach’a and bust out a few Lvl4’s for some quick action/cash, or do a few incursion rounds to earn the big money, but it never lasts long anymore. Which brings me to my point of discussion today, why is PvE so boring in eve compared to other games? Even if you love missions, you have to admit that there aren’t as many of your kind as there are say wow raid guilds? Are there any direct comparisons to our PvE experience in other Games? Could CCP copy some fun content into eve? And at the end of the day why can other, arguably more repetitive experiences, hold my attention longer than hitting red crosses for ISK?

First Im going to look at some other PvE content I have enjoyed over the years and, where applicable, looking for a direct comparison in eve. But first a quick point of note, this blog was accused a few posts ago of being “another whiny blog”; so to clarify, this is not a moan about how bad our PvE content is (well it is), I don’t have to PvE anymore so I don’t, there are plenty of non PvE revenue streams in the game to keep me happy. If CCP keep PvE as it is forever, I won’t really care. This post is more an exploration of my own preferences and an attempt for to better understand my own experiences of our PvE content. As such I’m writing this very off the cuff, scribing what I think as I go. I’ve no idea if this is going to draw out a consistent theme, or if it’s just going to turn out that I just don’t click with missions (well I guess I already know that bit).

Here goes.

Let’s start with the most obviously successful form of PvE in the MMO world: Dungeons. If you live under a gaming rock and have no idea what this is here is a 5 second run down: Groups of players work through a pre-defined zone fighting sequences of enemys leading to bosses and sub bosses, which require different uses of mechanics to defeat. The example of this I am most familiar with is of course World of Warcraft. I played this for about two years (hit 80 just before WotLK left just before Cata, so early 2008 till late 2010) during this time completed most of the WotLK dungeon content as both a Tank and a Raid leader, and thoroughly enjoyed it content. Here are the main reasons why I think I enjoyed it:

1. Social groups: To defeat even the non-bosses you needed to group up with friends. This created social bonds, and friendships I still have today.
2. Progress: to even get into the endgame dungeons you needed to have done some pre progress. Your gear has to meet some minimum requirements before you even considered joining a raid. Each step of the dungeon opened up new options to you to allow you to face off against bigger challenges, eventually new content was released and you began again in a new location with new bosses.
3. Prestige: Once you did start to get further up the dungeon-ladder your gear became a badge of honor, with people giving respect for your achievements.
4. Mechanics: beating bosses wasn’t just about DPS/Tank. My favourite boss of all time was the Safety Dance, which require alertness and dexterity to pass. There was a massive array of Mechanics used in wow by both you and the boss. This variance made every encounter at least slightly different and it was fun to try and work it out.
5. Investment: because of the progress factor, very few people (not I) would complete all the content in a short time; you had to chip away at it to get anywhere, meaning you got invested in the process.

I actually thing that a fair comparison of dungeons in eve is the Incursion system, there are at least a lot of parallels between the two. Yet I only managed to hang about in that for around a month. Let’s look at the points I enjoyed in Raids and if any of them do or could translate into eve.

1. Social Groups: This is actually quite similar; if I dedicated myself to incursions as much as I did in wow I could, most likelym find a good social group to work with. Unfortunately as my social wants are fulfilled already by my PvP group in eve, I only tend to “dip” into PvE groups not looking to socialise.
2. Progress: No serious group will start running an Incursion site if they can’t complete it. There is no grey area, only a binary switch: can’t do it, won’t do it | can do it, will do it. you might, I guess, get a group together and slowly work up the site sizes, but why bother when you could just join ISN and go straight to the top?
3. Prestige: yeah, try telling Jita you completed a Mothership site. Link the fitting you made entirely out of LP from Incursions. Just wait for the respect and admiration to roll in. you might be waiting a while. Respect, at least in terms of PvE, is not something eve encourages. Indeed for most, the better you are at mission running, the more distain you will gather. This would, and shouldn’t ever be copied over to eve.
4. Mechanics: Nothing going here really. Sure there are some targeting priorities, and the occasional drop X loot in container Y, but nothing actually challenging. Picture fighting the mothership while bits of the dead space site exploded in a patten which you had to memorise and dodge? This kind of mechanic would enhance PvE a lot for me, but it would have to be coupled with a greater reward for more complex missions.
5. Investment: it’s kind of a two way argument on this one; You always have a good investment in your equipment in eve, as you work damned hard to learn/earn it. But I would counter argue that investment in your gear is not the same as being invested in the content. I mentioned earlier my alt has a 9.0 standing with the CN, but that’s not exactly the part of my history I tout to others is it? If CCP upped the jump clone requirement to 9.5 tomorrow, I wouldn’t exactly rage quit.

Let’s look at levelling next, (note I am in no way pro a “Grind for XP” experience in eve *shudder*) for this I’m going to revert to Guild Wars 2, as I didn’t really enjoy leveling in WoW at all, in GW2 on the other had it was the best bit of the game. Here’s why:

1. Diversity in scenery/Exploration: leveling took me progressively through the games zones and let me enjoy the fantastic visuals. The constant change in surroundings and environment kept things interesting and diverse, thus fun.
2. Ease of achievement: The game wanted you to complete quests, and made it immensely easy to do so. Things just happened around you and you joined in.
3. Gear acquisition: Progression isn’t just the number next to your name
4. Playing with friends: there it is again, pesky social preferences! I liked leveling with friends, and GW2 actually made it better to work in a group while levelling, while at the same time not killing the solo experience

Again the eve comparison is Missions:

1. Diversity in scenery/Exploration: No real rewards to exploration at all (scanning down sites doesn’t count, that’s just another form of mission). As to diversity in scenery, it’s always going to be damned hard in space. CCP actually do a good job of trying to do this by changing the objects in your local space, and to some extent it works. Unfortunately, it’s still mostly boring, and I’m never sure it will reach the wow factor of GW2’s vistas. I’d love to see this translated into eve, not sure it could be though.
2. Ease of Achievements: missions require a lot of bureaucracy. Fly here, do this, pick up that, don’t touch that, mind the sofa, fill that out in triplicate, leave the dog where it is please! 0.0 Plex sites do this slightly better, as you can just run from “mission” to “mission” one after the other without the bureaucracy of talking to the agent and jumping through his/hers/its hoops. Could we use this functionality to mirror the GW2 method of quests? Systems just give random mission after mission to those in local who qualify which require no start stop routine? There are plenty of things to remove in Missioning to reduce the bureaucracy, simple litmus test: Am I blowing something up? Yes, good keep it. No, can we take that bit out please?
3. Gear acquisition: Much like GW2 leveling will give you better gear (well the money to buy it anyway). But unlike GW2, eve expects you to want to go through the motions of this method of acquisition once you hit top level. Again this method is fundamentally against eve’s levelling model.
4. Playing with friends: Most players older than 6 months can solo lvl4s, bringing friends speeds up the grind, but also lowers the rewards too much to make it worth it. Make missioning with friends more rewarding.

Finally as an example of PvE I’m going to pull out an unusual, indeed unreleased one: World of War Planes*. Although I don’t count this as a real MMO (any more than BF3 is, but that’s a whole rant I won’t go into here), it is an example of a game with a similar PvE:PvP balance to eve. i.e. Mainly people aim to PvP, but if you want, you can fly a bomber and exclusively blow up Environmental enemies (ground targets), just be prepared for PvP players to not give a crap and shoot you down (sound familiar?). So here goes:

1. The thrill of the chase: How many structures can I blow before they get me! Uh oh jerry is onto me evasive mauves! Quick drop the bombs and let’s toddle pip lads! Tally ho!
2. Lack of consequence: If I lose my plane it really doesn’t matter, a small repair bill and its back again. Of course I don’t want to lose it, but I don’t really mind.

Here I feel the best eve comparison is the pirate story arc. This is mostly done in interceptors/faction frigates, and it’s all about doing what you can before the ebil piwates get you. I won’t go through the points because it really matches one to one in this case. However unfortunately only a tiny fraction of players can participate, and even then you only get one go per character. Why don’t we have more content like this? Why not bring in some high reward missions which is literally the game daring you to go into deep null or low sec locations (maybe were lots of kills have happened) and hit a target before running back?

It’s obvious to us all that eve is very different to most other MMO games, but we do seem to severely lack in quick fun PvE content. I believe that my personal issues with what we do have revolved around the lack of progress/achievement. I don’t want CCP to dedicate itself to bringing our more PvE content each patch in a rolling chain like WoW, they have better things to dedicate to. But we could get a lot further by improving the sense of progress within the corporation we are working with than just the increment in mission level. Let’s progress up the ranks, lets improve our system standing, make missions actually, you know challenging, and why not throw in low consequence PvE which allows others the PvP at us in a way that’s fun for all parties!

Fly robotically,

Hark¬

*I don’t believe I am breaking NDA on this one as the feature is widely reported in the press from releases by WG themselves during the Alpha.