EVE: Killer clowns

June 8, 2012

With my EVE in-game time somewhat limited due to RL issues, last night was my first real experience with our new alliance, Surely Your Joking (ticker: HAHA). A workable chain of wormhole connections was available, and a good number of INQ-E pilots were able to get ships into our new C5 home and our lovingly small Caldari tower named ‘Bait’.

A quick note about wormhole content: it’s pretty amazing to fly through three different holes to ultimately reach our C5 when you really think about it. There are thousands of wormholes in EVE, and each of these have different static and random entrances/exits that can connect to either known space or other holes, and each of these holes begin and die from both time and mass passing through.

In this giant, dynamic mess, our alliances mapped out a route and guided haulers and new pilots (us) inside. To EVE players this process might sound obvious or ‘normal’, and from the outside it can appear as somewhat minimal, but take a second look at the whole thing and compare it to anything else in the genre. It’s not only unique, but pretty damn cool as well.

Back to HAHA. The alliance Mumble is both active and relaxed. People are joking around in-between providing information or updates, and different people from different Corps are moving in and out of channels as needed. As we were moving in and out, a scout reported an enemy ship in one of the holes along our route.

On a dime, Mumble becomes a very serious place, and Pell (the alliance leader) begins to FC and a response fleet is quickly assembled. With amazing efficiency, the enemy’s entrance location is scouted, and soon Pell is out in null-sec baiting. With the trap set, the order is given and a sizable fleet jumps into local.

Sadly we were unable to pin the enemy and score any kills, but just watching the entire thing develop was very rewarding, and reassured me that joining HAHA will expedited our PvP growth and get us into numerous entertaining scenarios.


Out of the kiddy pool

June 4, 2012

This weekend I made the decision to have INQ-E join a wormhole alliance and move into their C5. It was not an easy decision, but one that I ultimately think will benefit us in many ways.

First some back story, because that itself is fairly interesting.

Within the first week or so of moving into our C3, we had a few experienced enemy pilots find their way inside our WH. They scored some nice kills, and stayed around for a few days. Looking back it was horrible luck, as since that visit we have had very minimal enemy activity inside your WH, and today we would be much better prepared to counter them.

Of course, much like our first high-sec war when the Corp was founded, what was once an enemy becomes an ally in EVE. That group of early invaders are now the alliance we are joining, and the opportunity came about because while we died horribly, we at least tried to fight back rather than ragequit or failcascade, and were open to communicating with our enemies rather than throwing a pity party. Its things like this that always make me laugh when the uninformed talk about the EVE community and how horrible it is. It’s only horrible if you deserve it.

As expected, many in my Corp were surprised by the announcement, and confused how things would work in our new home. In our C3 we divided things up evenly based on a minimal participation requirement, and all WH profits (Sleepers, PI, mining, production) went into one big pool. In the C5 you get paid if you show up for something, which worried those with lower SP or those without extensive combat training.

The other factor I struggled with was one of Corp identity. We put in a lot of time and effort making the C3 our home, and we just recently really hit our stride and got into a groove with the space. We had our PI going, we were producing stuff, and we just recently started converting gas into products. We were (slowly) expanding our possibilities in terms of PvP as well, and overall activity was very high. “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it” certainly crossed my mind, as did the general change of going from being fully in charge of our destiny to being one part of something greater.

And while change is scary, EVE is also very much a game where if you get too comfortable, and things become too routine, you slowly lose interest and can fade away, and it’s my job as CEO to ensure that does not happen. Much like leaving Empire and moving into the C3, it was more a matter of “screw it, here we go” rather than of finally being really ready. In EVE, if you are 100% ready, you are probably doing it too late.

One of the major pros of moving is the ISK generation itself; simply put, the ISK made in a C5 dwarfs a C3. What we made in a month the C5 makes in a few days. I’ll comment more on this at a later time, but I have little doubt that ISK will soon be a non-issue for many of us (or rather, it will allow us to get blown up in shinier ships more often, which is just as good).

The other major factor in moving is for the PvP. PvP in EVE is, IMO, the hardest PvP of any MMO. While the PvP in Darkfall is more twitch, and allows for more heroic individual feats, the amount of information you have to process in a very short amount of time in EVE is staggering. Learning by trial and error is very costly, and can often result in few lessons learned. There is a reason quality FCs are so highly valued in EVE, and it’s a very good one.

By joining this alliance, we will fly in Ops with some great FCs, and learn wormhole PvP at an accelerated rate. Combine this with the ISK factor, and each pilot in the Corp should progress at a rate far beyond anything we could have done in our C3 alone.

The final factor is one of numbers. Everyone in the alliance lives out of one C5, which means there will always be people online doing something, and the alliance is very open in terms of accepting people into fleets. This is another case of “obvious MMO design” that most games get horribly wrong; there is no hard-coded penalty to inviting others in EVE, which allows vets and newer players to fly together and fill out the various roles of a fleet. Much like the whole community thing, the above is why I laugh at the uninformed complaining about ‘never catching up to vets’ in EVE. More than a few of my pilots have less than 5m SP, and yet they will be full contributing members of a C5 WH alliance, doing ‘end-game’ PvE content and PvP’ing alongside pilots with 100m+ SP, blowing up billions of ISK.

Certainly more to come as things roll out.


EVE: WH life is like a box of chocolates

May 24, 2012

One of the more well-known challenges of living in a wormhole is the dynamic nature of the space and what it provides. The only guarantee of our hole is a low-sec exit, and while we can roll that exit if the low-sec system is not to our liking, it’s entirely possible that we roll a bunch of holes and never get what we are looking for, or get it too late in the night to really take advantage.

Last night was not such a night.

During the day our scouts picked up an exit into null sec space, and during the early evening the scouts not only scanned down a 8/10 Angels site, but a C3 entrance to an abandoned hole, with that C3 containing a good number of anom sites as well as mag/radar sigs. As this info was posted early, we had a good crew already online by the time I got on, and we needed all the help we could get to clear out all of the content, so it was very much a ‘more the merrier’ situation.

The 8/10 complex site was interesting, especially compared to the Sleeper sites we have become accustomed to. Each individual ship was much easier than a Sleeper, but the final room had more than 60 enemy ships all attacking us, without switching targets like Sleepers do. In what is now somewhat of a tradition for us, one member lost a ship due to scrams and the heavy incoming DPS. But in a true sign that it was our night, the other C3 also had an exit that was just three jumps from Jita, and he was able to quickly buy a replacement and rejoin us.

The final enemy in the complex was actually a structure with incredible shield and armor regeneration. As our volleys hammered it down, it would quickly recover before we did too much damage to its structure. This yo-yo would continue for a while, but when it finally hit 0 structure a real surprise awaited us inside; a Macharial BPC worth about 900m ISK. Not a bad reward for about 30 minutes of shooting, especially when you add up all the bounties and salvage.

Once that site was finished, and the Mach BPC was safely transported back to our WH POS, we jumped into the C3 to clear its anoms and sigs. The nano-ribbon gods were on our side for once, and we ended up hauling out just under 1b ISK worth of loot from the C3, despite not fully finishing every site due to time constraints.

The above, and some favorable spawns inside our own WH of late, means we are in line for a rather nice payout once everything hits the market this weekend. Just in time for our planned PvP roam.


EVE: (Not) Mining in a WH

May 11, 2012

TAGN has a post about mining in EVE, which includes stats from CCP talking about where mining happens. Not surprisingly, high-sec is by far the most popular spot, and WH space the least productive. This got me thinking about WH mining and how it relates to my Corp.

Before moving into our WH, INQ-E did a fair bit of mining in high-sec, especially during our Sunday night mining Ops. The major advantage to that Op was that basically anyone could attend and contribute, and the actual ‘content’ was easy and allowed for a more relaxed, social environment.

In our WH, the only time we are able to mine is when we have a Grav site up, which is random but overall not that often. This makes holding mining ships (hulks and retrievers) in our hanger tougher, as space is somewhat limited. And even if we have a grav site, the hole secured, and we end up mining some ore, we still have the logistic issues of refining it at 75% inside the hole and hauling the minerals out to market. Considering the above, and the general ‘fun’ of mining in EVE, I’m not at all surprised most WH Corps don’t bother with Grav sites.

The easy but potentially unbalanced solution would be to add static grav sites to WHs. They would function like static holes; once you close/mine the current site, or enough time goes by, it closes and a new one appears. This would allow WH Corps that want to focus more towards mining/industry to have content up at all times, while still preserving the logistical challenges. A side bonus would be that frequent WH invaders would be more likely to come across tasty mining ships to blap. To perhaps balance things a bit, tweak the ratios of what ores appear, or force the entire site to be cleared before it respawns, so you don’t allow Corps to only mine the ABC ores.

The problem is also somewhat unique to mining, because it’s easy-enough for us to roam into a different WH to farm their Sleepers, or their Mag/Radar sites. We can’t take a few hulks and an Orca into another WH, and even if we could, the hauling needed would be silly.

Hopefully ring mining, when added, helps keep the dust off hulks in WH space.


EVE: Dying to one ship at a time

May 1, 2012

Quick little EVE note for today: Now that we are getting better/faster at clearing out our WH, we have time to do other activities. The two immediate options available to use are invade other WHs, or look for trouble out in low-sec. This is a quick story about the latter.

We had a fleet of six ships + alt scouts sitting in a somewhat high-traffic lowsec system. A Navy Tempest jumped into our crew, with two other Tempests quickly following. Initially we had only one Hurricane engage the first Tempest to see if it would fight back or jump into the gate. We had our other pilots on the other side waiting. The Tempest, now along with his two friends, fired back and forced the Hurricane to warp off. All of our guys but one (me) jumped in to continue the fight. I waited in case someone jumped.

We lost the fight.

Due to jumping in and inexperience, we were all within neut range, and the Tempests had that in spades. One by one our ships were neuted out, and with defenses off, popped. We got the Navy Tempest into structure, but ran out of ships/dps before it died.

Despite the loss, the whole engagement was enjoyable from a PvP perspective, and it was certainly educational. As we engage various ships, we will learn what they try to do and how to counter it. It is here that EVE’s learning curve of doom strikes, as the huge variety of ships and fittings means we will be learning for a LONG time. But that’s half the fun!


EVE: Wormhole opportunities and threats

April 26, 2012

One challenging aspect of wormhole life is how dynamic the environment truly is. One day sites won’t spawn and you won’t have any connections besides your static, and the next you have three hostile connections and more sites than you can reasonably run. The uneven pace of ‘content’ makes finding the right amount of pilots difficult; on slow days you have too many, on busy days you wish you had more. When things are slow you have to work to create something to do, while when they are busy you need to prioritize correctly to ensure you maximize profits safely.

Connections, either to other WHs or high/low/null, are also a gift and a curse. On the one hand, connecting to a WH that you can farm for additional profits is a huge plus, as is getting a favorable high-sec opening to hit the market or bring in supplies. On the other, connecting to a WH occupied by a more veteran force can lead to expensive losses, and having an opening to a high-traffic known-space system might mean more visitors and potential threats/invasions.

The motivation in all of this is that the more powerful your Corporation grows, the more things look like opportunities than threats. When you have the experience and ability to defeat 90% of what’s out there, most openings will be to your advantage. On top of that, when things are slow you have the ability to successfully venture out and cause some trouble away from home.

INQ-E is not at 90%. Or 50% for that matter. Most connections are still a threat rather than an opportunity, and it only takes one overly interested party to really cause some major damage. With that said, living in the WH pushes us to progress at a much faster rate than high-sec. People very quickly learn the basics, either by doing their homework or getting blown up. The environment is certainly not for everyone, much like EVE itself, but when you make it work, it sure is fun.


GW2: Might as well

April 25, 2012

I pre-ordered GW2 today in order to buy my way into the beta weekends. I was going to hold off, but since I don’t expect GW2 to failcascade like SW:TOR, I doubt the box price is going to drop anytime soon, so buying the game today is likely to be the same thing as buying it in a few months. No sub cost is also of course a factor.

What I actually expect to get out of GW2 is another matter. I’m basically buying it play with the rest of Inquisition, and because it will hopefully be a nice alternative to EVE. League of Legends fills this slot currently, but I can’t play more than a game or two a day before drifting away, so I still have some gaming time to spare.

In more than one way, I’m actually hoping GW2 is super casual and very ‘accessible’, because I don’t want to invest the amount of time required for a ‘real’ MMO. I want to get to 80 asap, get geared, and just be able to jump into WvW when INQ has a crew going.

Basically, I’m looking for GW2 to be fantasy Battlefield 3. This upcoming weekend will likely go a long way to showing whether GW2 is up to that task or not.


EVE: The skill plan trap

April 19, 2012

One of the biggest decisions a new player to EVE will have to make is how they approach training skills. At a very high level, you either train for now, or train for later. Training for now gets you going faster, but year-over-year results in fewer total skill points, while training for later requires patience/waiting but is more efficient long-term.

I’ve always gone with training for now, even as I sit at 35m+ SP with two different pilots. I’m all for some min/maxing, but waiting 6 months to train something because it does not fit into my current plan/remap is not something I’m willing to do, and I find the whole SP/hr chase somewhat lame. Of course at 35m+ SP, I can already do a whole lot. I can fly a T2 fit Battleship, I can fly a Tengu, I can use most T2 fittings, and I have almost perfect fitting skills, etc. If I push something back, it’s either some minor fitting tweak, or some specialized ship for a specific role. But even so, I don’t want to do it, SP/hr be damned.

The efficiency trap is far more damaging to new players, because they truly are limited in what they can do. Setting a plan to fly a T2 fit BS might sound good, but not being able to fly anything more than a frig for six months while you wait is going to be pretty painful. Not only will you yourself be limited, but you won’t be able to contribute or react to what your Corp needs, which is frustrating for a CEO.

A somewhat related issue is the perception of having skill points. If I see someone in a Hurricane, I assume they are flying it with T2 mods and in a way that makes sense rather than in a way that fits with the pilot’s current fitting skills. The performance difference between the two can be staggering. T1 fits without solid support skills just don’t add up. All those skills that add 2%, 3%, 5%, etc in one area or another might not seem significant alone, but add a bunch of them up, and suddenly a ship that should have 400DPS and 60k EHP is hitting for 150DPS, flies slower, is less agile, can’t web/scram, and pops quickly because it has 25k EHP.

My personal advice to all budding EVE pilots would be to first and foremost do what makes the game enjoyable for you. If you are not interested in flying BS, don’t train to BS just because you have heard they are useful. Same goes for long skill plans; only buy into one if you absolutely know what you are committing to. After that, train to fully fly a ship. Don’t just jump into the hull with T1 fits and low support skills and consider yourself done.

Currently battlecruisers are the most flexible ships, able to handle most PvE and perform well in PvP with overlapping skill training. If you don’t have a direct goal already, consider training towards a BC and flying it fully T2 fitted. Don’t skimp on the guns either; T2 guns might be a long train, but they are important and will allow you to hit harder for a lot less (T2 guns are a lot cheaper than meta 4 guns currently). Once you are able to T2 fit it, round out the ship with most of the support skills for guns/tank. Perhaps not all to V, but IV will yield good results, and those skills will continue to help out when you switch to a different hull.

I’d much rather fly with someone who can do one thing very well, than someone who can do five just OK. Having access to those five things is also important, but pace yourself and set reasonable goals. Not only will you benefit, but all those around you will as well.


EVE: WH building blocks

April 17, 2012

Gevlon posts + unfiltered comments = internet winning.

That aside, WH life update time.

I like our WH.

Having a low-sec static means we can roll it in an attempt to get favorable Empire access, or roll it to a low population system when we don’t want visitors. It will also allow us to stage future low-sec roams. Actually rolling a hole is still a little hit or miss for us, but I’m sure we will get the exact science down shortly.

I also like how active our constellation seems to be. We get 3-6 Sleeper sites spawning per day, which has become a great source of income and quick, solid content for us to knock out while we gather pilots together. Mag and Radar sites also seem to spawn somewhat frequently, and so far we have always had a grav site to mine.

Speaking of mining, being inside the WH means we are poised to benefit greatly from the upcoming drone region nerf and overall limiting of minerals. Hulkaggedon will only further increase our profit margins. So far we have yet to put together a mining fleet the size we did in Empire, but hopefully we do shortly because the amount of high-end ore is crazy, and now that we have our X-L ship assembly for storage, space is no longer a limiting factor. Our long-term plan is to build a Roquel to compress ore, but even at 75% yield, refining inside the WH and shipping minerals out will still provide a huge amount of ISK.

As Cyndre posted about over at KTR, we are in the process of knocking down the NPC customs offices and putting up our own. This combined with our PI initiative, which has started but is not yet complete, will be an additional, sustained source of ISK. As previously mentioned, the nice bonus of PI inside the WH is you can update your planets inside the POS shields, and with decent scouting the risk of running an industrial to the CO to pick up or drop off goods is not that great.

I expect our Corp’s income to increase significantly now that the majority of our infrastructure has been paid for and is in place. With more ISK going to payouts, I’m hoping more of our members acquire better ships for PvP and we can start roaming and causing trouble.


Three amazing games and everyones favorite mistake

April 16, 2012

In shocking news no one saw coming, SW:TOR is doing really well. Someone should start a “is it 6 months yet?” meme. That would be cute. Hey at least the game is free now, how very FFXIV of EAWare.

Speaking of cute, I picked up the Path of Exile beta for $10. Money well spent already. While I’m not the biggest fan of that genre, and it’s hard to play anything but EVE at the moment, PoE has some interesting mechanics and makes for a nice little break. I’d say more but plenty have said it already. If you like this style of game, PoE might be the best example in years.

Random thoughts about Skyrim, as I’m still playing that a bit as well; is it just me or is the game more fun at the beginning and until level 20 or so? I find I complete one major chain (thieves’ guild, mage’s guild, the war, the main quest) and then start a new character rather than use that same one to continue. It’s not just that you get too powerful, but that the whole thing gets… boring. I feel like Skyrim as a world is so amazing, and the stories are so good, that the whole ‘game’ aspect of it, the leveling and different abilities and such, just get in the way. Simple early-game combat and story are what I like.

Also playing with the realistic lighting mod, and having dungeons be truly dark, makes it easier to skip all the little chests and such since you can’t see most of them. Dungeon running now is about seeing the major content and just enjoying the scenery (made even more amazing by the lighting mod), rather than opening ever last barrel for 7 gold pieces.

Quick note about INQ-E: I’ve put a halt on recruitment for the moment. We have enough players in the WH to make that work, and for totally new players we don’t have the Empire presence to make us an appealing corp. If someone is still interested, I would recommend working on your pilot towards WH life, and joining our public channel to hang out. If we end up opening recruitment back up, you will be ready and able to contribute faster.


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