Captain Gevlon going down with the Tortanic

August 8, 2012

And… back!

Vacation was very nice, thanks for asking.

TAGN did a very nice job filling in for me on the SW:TOR failure front. I agree with everything in his post, and will only add one thing; while it’s obvious now why SW:TOR is a terrible MMO, it’s important to remember that when the 4th pillar was originally announced, lots of bloggers and commenters were convinced BioWare was aiming at the right target. Hell, even as more info about SW:TOR came out, those people were STILL convinced the game was going to work. And 1.7m or whatever even put down $60+ because they still believed.

The great thing about the best blogging gift of 2012 however is that this is just another step on the fail cascade for SW:TOR. As Wilhelm correctly predicts, EAWare is going to do lots of hilarious things with the F2P model for the game. Time to cook up another batch of popcorn and enjoy the next phase of failure. I’m hoping they put out more of those fancy videos explaining things, those were incredibly entertaining.

The other item of hilarious fail is Gevlon. Where to start… (I’d link to the posts, but with Gevlon editing things as heavily as he does, it’s pretty pointless. That said, it is amusing to read his stuff after the fact, and then try to follow the comments as they talk about things that are no longer there. His editing skills need some serious work.)

Gevlon created a Corp, it failed.

Gevlon created another Corp, it also failed.

Gevlon then posted that EVE is less hardcore than WoW, in a sad justification of why he is going to play with Pandas soon.

While all of this was going on, Gevlon continued to fail to get into a Null entity in the batshit crazy way he wanted to. Why no one jumped on the chance to gain a tackle-titan/fleetboost-titan/noob-carrier/noob-logi pilot still remains a mystery to me…

And while ALL of that was happening, he continued to ‘prove’ that being a human market bot was a way to create some modest wealth (for all non-EVE players, 100b ISK is very modest for market players.) Yes, who knew selling Badger IIs, skillbooks, and hardwires for 2-3 hours a day, every day, for six months straight (!) could make you some ISK in EVE. Also I heard you can mine veld in highsec, c/d? The best part here is Gevlon believes he is providing something of value and teaching this revolutionary method to anyone.

Personal and hilarious failure aside, Gevlon’s little adventure into EVE highlights an important aspect of the game; in order to succeed, you must not only have goals, but be able to accomplish them or fail and learn from the failure. Gevlon took the box of Legos that is EVE and tried to do many things with them. To his credit, at least he had some goals. Sadly, due to his nature, he would not listen when people told him you can’t grow grass from Legos. In that he failed in spectacular fashion over (fits) and over (Corps) and over (Null) again, but unlike the rest of humanity, rather than actually learning from those failures he continued to bash his little green head into the learning-curve wall.

And like many, when ultimately faced with the failure of not having any ‘content’, he has decided to return to safer pastures, to pick up Simon Says again, rather than get into anything of substance in EVE. WoW is nice and safe because it always holds your hand, brings you to the next instance, and tells you exactly how good you did and where to go next. Having ‘goals’ in WoW is easy by design, and for those who lack the ability to self-motivate, or to accomplish anything semi-complex, it works perfectly.

By contrast, EVE does not. Or rather, it does not when you fail to accept even the absolute most basic suggestions. It won’t become obvious why your tackle-Titan is a complete failure until the soon-to-be ridiculed killmail shows up, and even then the feedback is still player-based rather than the game itself telling you why. For someone as ‘unique’ as Gevlon, this feedback loop does not work, or works very, very slowly in the most extreme cases.

Gevlon is right in that EVE is easy however. As almost all of the members of my Corp will attest to, being a new player in EVE and being able to accomplish significant goals is not nearly as hard as it first seems on day one. The amount of support, both in-game and on Vent/Mumble that you can provide to someone in EVE is amazingly high compared to WoW. I can bring that day-one pilot into a C6 wormhole and show him the ropes, and within a week he can provide real value in what some would call an ‘end-game’ space in EVE. Of course, I would never take someone like Gevlon, but luckily those types are easy to weed out in the recruitment process, and even if they get past that they have a nice way of killing themselves off, as Gevlon is doing right now.

I think the saddest thing about Gevlon failing in EVE however is that he only did so on his blog. He never, well, did anything in EVE itself. He never got in that Titan to produce a good killmail. He never got a Corp off the ground far enough to have it implode for all to see. He never went into WH space. Never really went into Null. Just sat in a few stations, updated his market orders, and flew his frig around in high-sec.

Unlike SW:TOR, all that potential hilarious fail, wasted.


Vacation time

July 25, 2012

I’m off on no-Internet vacation until August 6th, so this blog will be quiet until then.

When I get back I’ll be sure to talk a little about SW:TOR shutting down (that’s still scheduled for next week, right?), as well as likely reopen recruitment in EVE (train up those scanning skills).

Behave yourselves until then.

Dear EAWare and SOE: Please don’t release any blog-worthy announcements until I get back. I so do hate missing quality bash opportunities.

Ah who am I kidding, zero chance you guys can go a week without something stupid coming out.


EVE: Red Dawn, Red Midday, Red G’night

July 16, 2012

One of the ‘secret’ Ops that I’ve alluded to here before has finally come to fruition, and I can now finally blog about it.

As most WH Corps/Alliances do, HAHA has been sending pilots out to scout other holes and see what the residence are up to. In one such hole, a C6 no less, our scout noticed that the residents always ran their sites at around the same time, and always used the same mix of Dreads and Carriers. They were very routine about this, and so a plan was hatched to get ships inside the C6, log out, and log in when the capitals were in the middle of a Sleeper site, hopefully resulting in some dead caps and some nice kill mails.

Early last Friday, our scout reported some very favorable entrances into the C6, and so our alliance mobilized and we got people ready to jump inside and log out. I was one of the first ships to make it in and log, as I had dinner plans. As I was out eating anniversary dinner with my wife, I get a text that the plan is off, as some third party had already run the sites inside the C6, and so the locals would not be doing their normal routine. Such is WH life.

About 30 minutes later, still at dinner (I believe I was a few bites into a cheesecake), I get another text informing me that the plan is back on, only it’s been escalated. Turns out, an even more favorable entrance had opened, one that would allow us to get a few of our own capital ships inside. Rather than waiting for the current owners to log on, we were going to siege the POS and loot whatever was inside.

As I got home and logged into Mumble, the alliance was still working the logistics of getting everything inside the C6. This went on for quite some time, but eventually we had two dreads and a large support fleet ready to go. Then a very fortunate, and funny, thing happened.

The owner of the POS had not configured his defenses correctly, and all his shiny faction guns and ewar did not attack us as we opened fire. Most likely, the POS was left in the default settings; attacking anyone with a standing less than 0. As we had no standing with this alliance (0), the POS did not consider us a threat. This made disabling everything nice and easy, although not all that quick.

At about 4am or so early Saturday morning, the POS went into reinforced mode. Our assumption was that the POS had full stront, so it would come out of reinforce at our primetime Sunday. As luck would have it, the owner had the stront bay less than full, and the tower was actually set to come out at 8am Sunday morning (EST). Alarm clock raid!

Our alliance camped the hole all day Saturday, making sure no evac was possible and that all incoming holes were accounted for and handled properly. For the most part, Saturday was quiet.

At just before 8am Sunday, the real action started.

The defenders had four (visible) dreads and two carriers inside the POS, along with a few sub-caps. Also, at some point they had managed to repair and online some defenses. As our two dreads and the support fleet started hammering the POS and disabling the defenses again, the enemy moved four dreads and a carrier just outside the POS shield, and a massive brawl broke out.

Our two dreads were of course the targets, and while they hero tanked for as long as they could, they eventually went down in a blaze of glory. However they did not die in vain, as they survived long enough, and dished out enough DPS, to also allow us to take down two enemy dreads (both shiny fit compared to ours), and to put the carrier into structure before it and the two remaining dreads made it back inside the POS. (Note: I was not online at this point, but that was the summary I was given. Anyone at that fight feel free to provide more detail).

With our dreads gone, grinding down the POS became… well a grind. To further slow things down, the defenders would occasionally move a dread just outside the POS to attempt to blap a sup-cap. In response, we had two Bhaalgorns that would warp to anything that left the POS and start neuting, along with a few other ships to attempt to bump the capital further out and allow us to kill it. The neut/bump plan did not yield a kill here however, and the dreads did manage to blap two ships due to pilot error and not keeping traversal up.

While all of this was happening (3-4 hours’ worth), we had a scout scanning the C6 always looking for new sigs, and just as the POS shields hit 25%, he announced a new WH opening. As we warped our fleet to a safe spot just in case, the scout further reported that the connecting WH had a connection to low-sec. This was very fortunate news for us.

Due to the length and complexity of the siege, we were running low on ammo, and so the new connection to known space meant we could resupply. It also meant more ships could get inside, and those who had lost ships could rejoin the fight as well.

But best of all, it meant we could, theoretically, get more dreads inside. I say theoretically because the low-sec was nowhere near our current home C5 exit, so bringing our existing capital ships would not be possible. A quick check of the market revealed some good news however; there were two dreads for sale on contracts nearby. For 5 billion each. Someone liked their dreads shiny. After some quick consideration, Alliance leadership dropped the ISK and started working on getting the dreads inside the C6. This was again a logistics puzzle both in terms of fuel and fittings, and of dodging a very active section of low-sec during euro primetime. More than one scouts and indy was lost to a gate camp, but ultimately our big new toys were inside and we were ready to finish what we started.

In another turn of fortune, our new dreads were rail fit rather than blaster, meaning they could sit 100km off the POS and still hit their targets. This would lead to a new and interesting combat scenario.

Due to the enemy dreads being blaster fit, they could not effectively poke their heads out of the POS and shoot at our dreads. But since our dreads were shooting at the center of the POS itself (25km inside the shield), and they were aiming at our ships, they could still do some damage. Enough to pose a threat anyway, which forced our sub-caps into action. This would trigger the final and most epic battle of the siege.

The first threat was a smartbomb-loaded carrier moving out of the POS shield along with two dreads. Thankfully, our skilled logistics pilots were able to keep everyone alive despite the heavy bombing, and we managed to get a solid bump on the carrier, moving it away from the POS. At this point our two Bhaalgorns where heavily neuting, while our 30 or so sub-cap fleet was hammering away. Inch by inch the carrier’s shields and armor was being shred, all while a few hero pilots also managed to bump and web down a dread. Our full commitment came at a cost however, as one of our Bhaalgorns went down in a billion+ ISK blaze from the combined siege-mode dreadnaught fire.

As we finished burning down the carrier, we turned our attention to the trapped dread. Our swarm of sub-cap piranhas repeatedly bumped the giant ship to ensure it stayed out of the POS, and in short order it too went down, leaving behind a ruined husk of a wreck. The final dread managed to slip back inside the POS at this time. As the rush of battle subsided on coms, congrats went out and everyone was pumped.

Having failed in their final stand, the defenders could be seen packing up ships and preparing to escape as we hammered on the POS. Despite a great effort to scan down the escaping capital ships, their long distance safe spots proved effective, and they managed to sneak out and (for now) avoid destruction.

With the POS now empty of defenders, we finished off the tower and moved inside to loot the spoils of victory. Still floating inside the POS was an Orca and two Abaddons, and an additional dozen or so ships of various sizes (though no capitals) were found among the many ship hangers we destroyed. When we destroyed the Corporate hanger, a half-dozen jetcans of loot popped out, containing more than 10bil in total value.

Despite the long hours, and the near-total lack of sleep for some alliance members, the Op was a huge success, and got me my first two capital kills in EVE. As a Corp member said towards the end, this is exactly why we play EVE.

Christmas came early for HAHA.

Edit: Some screenshots will be posted later tonight.


Day-one mastery

June 29, 2012

Keen has a nice post about why he is finding current-day MMOs lacking, especially in immersion. I think what Keen writes is something many (most?) MMO players feel, whether they actually know it or not. A major issue with MMOs cloning WoW is that today, everyone is already really good at WoW, and so a major chunk of ‘content’ (learning the game) is instantly missing from whatever AAA MMO you load up.

This is a major reason why, despite having access, I only played GW2 a tiny bit during the first BWE event; just enough to know the game was decent-enough to play with INQ and my wife. Because while GW2 is set to cure all MMO woes, it does so in very familiar fashion. You are still mashing a hotbar, you are still going from lower level zones to higher, still collecting ever-increasing gear, and you still have an end-game where you bash people/doors/npcs until… well until you are bored (or for a small subset, until your server sits at the top).

The details of all of the above is what will make GW2 interesting, and there will be some changes thrown in (ooh, dodge), but learning those will take minutes rather than years, and because this is a mass-market game, the learning will be terrible accessible and dummy-proof.

The ride itself will undoubtedly be pretty, it will have some ‘ooh neat’ moments, and the time spent with it will be entertaining. But I have absolutely no doubts that GW2 will not be immersive. It won’t be something that sucks you in and challenges you on that level for months if not years. It won’t be the land of unique MMO stories, where a year after release we are reading about how a small group of players just discovered a new way of doing… anyway. And all of that is 100% fine, so long as you go in with reasonable expectations. I fear many are not, but what can you do.

Back to the larger point; in the days of the big three, immersion worked not only because no one really knew this MMO thing, but because each game had little in common with the other two. Simply put UO did not play or work like EQ1 in any way, and what AC-DT was doing was also completely different. If you put UO next to EQ and added up the similarities, and did the same for WoW and GW2, which total would be higher? And by how much?

On top of this, figuring each game out took longer, mostly thanks to the games being less accessible and the ‘how this works’ never being officially explained. This lead to information being posted elsewhere, but at that time half of what you read was still wrong. Today not only can you get every system explained to you on one site, but that one site is almost certainly accurate. If today I want to know the absolute best build for a GW2 character, I’m only one Google search away.

As always, the current-day exception to this is EVE. The lack of accessibility in EVE means you are left to figure many things out either on your own or in your group. The wealth of options means that while you can master one aspect, there are dozens of unrelated things you know nothing about. A great null-sec pilot is a noob in WH space, for instance, and to truly become a master of everything not only requires a massive amount of time, it’s also very, very optional. You would have to force yourself to jump from area to area of the game frequently just to experience it all, and that’s not very realistic for a variety of reasons.

What EVE loses by those dropping off before the first month due to the complexity it makes up for (and then some) from those who are 4 year vets and still have things to learn. The PvP-based nature of EVE also means that not only will that 4 year vet have game systems to learn; he will constantly be adjusting his gameplay due to other players and shifting tactics.

It would be difficult for a new MMO to replicate the complexity and depth of EVE on launch day, simply because unlike WoW, EVE has actually been expanding (rather than replacing) its content over the years. But while it would be unrealistic to expect years of complexity on day one, more than a month is not asking too much, is it?


EVE: C5 ISK

June 22, 2012

As previously mentioned, one of the major factors in moving INQ-E into a C5 and joining HAHA was ISK, and more specifically just how much more ISK you can make running C5 sleeper sites than you can in a C3. In this post I want to talk a bit more about that, and also compare it to Incursions.

Running sleeper sites in the C5 is all about capital escalations. In fact, other than clearing the initial wave, we leave one ship up and never ‘finish’ a site. The 6-8 BS sleeper waves are worth far more in terms of ISK/hr, especially if we have more than a couple dreadnaughts in the fleet. The last time we were doing sites we had 5 dreads, and their DPS was so high that it was almost pointless for our Tengu pilots to shoot at anything but the initial wave of smaller ships. Why shoot a missile volley for 1k when a dread can blap something for 15k, and their combined firepower kills the sleeper BS before more than a few missile volleys hit?

I don’t have an exact ISK/hr number, but even running just a few sites is worth more than a billion ISK, and tens of billions have been collected in one night more than a few times. And when I say in a night, I don’t mean anything close to an old-school night of raiding, where 4-5 hours is expected. Rather, fleets generally wrap up in about two hours, sometimes less depending on the number of sites. Furthermore, pilots are free to jump in and out as needed, and their payout is adjusted based on a rather simple shares formula (Google spreadsheets ftw).

C5 sites generate far, far more ISK than Incursion sites, yet you don’t hear much about how they are unbalanced, or are wrecking the EVE economy. Part of the reason is because living in a C5 is far different than just showing up to an Incursion site, and this greatly limits the number of possible participants and the general exposure.

The other major factor is that while we make running C5 home sites as safe as high-sec Incursions, that security takes some effort and knowledge. We post scouts on critical’ed WHs, scan often, and have FCs who know how to respond should anything threatening come along. And even with all that, the slim possibility of disaster exists, and with capital ships on the field, the cost of such a disaster could be rather high. Add in all the other challenges of living and defending a WH, and one could very easily argue that the amount of ISK made in a C5 is more than justified.

The best part of all of this is that with the ISK flowing as it does, HAHA can focus much of its efforts on USING that ISK to enjoy ourselves. That process is a bit circular. We make ISK to have resources, such as POS towers, T3s, and capitals. We use those resources to, in part, boost our killboard by blowing up expensive stuff, be it ships or structures. A boosted killboard allows us to charge higher rates for merc work. High rates mean more ISK to do more ‘stuff’. The circle of EVE life is quite wonderful like that, and the actual making of ISK is just a small part.


EVE: Cleaning out our C3

June 18, 2012

Not wanting to keep paying for fuel, I took down the last pieces of our C3 last weekend in an epic 5 hours marathon (and learned that the sun does come up before 5am EST here…).

Some notes:

I decided to make the move at around midnight due to our C3 having a high-sec hole. As I logged on, someone was running sites, but they fled as soon as they saw me on d-scan. They left about 300m in sleeper loot behind that I cleaned up in my cov-ops. Good start.

Somehow we had three shuttles in our Corp hanger (not ship hanger). I could not delete or move these as they were assembled. This prevented the Corp hanger from being packed up (could not unanchor due to it not being empty…). The next day someone had already blown the hanger up, but left the three shuttles floating. The next day someone took/blew up the shuttles. One man’s trash…

Our actual ship hanger still had about 20 odd ships inside it, mostly from members who went afk and a few from people too lazy to get them out. As I could not fly them out due to skills, I did the only thing I could: I ejected all the ships and blew them up one by one, using an Arby with five drones (the pilot in the hole has no real combat skills). Even unpiloted, it still took a while to chop up some of the T2 cruisers and the Brutix.

As each ship was blown up, the Corp collected insurance. I found this amusing.

Once everything had been destroyed, I got back in my utility Cov-Ops to loot/salvage. While most wrecks were not that interesting, a few of the T2 ships had some nice faction and deadspace mods. I did not have it in me to see what mods did not survive the carnage.

As I was making a final trip out, the HS WH went End-of-life. For a brief second I considered not jumping and possibly losing the hole entirely (this pilot is the last member inside). I ended up saying screw it and jumped anyway. Made it back inside just fine, thankfully.

I’ve been using Redfrog like a fiend, and at some point I’ll finally swing by Jita to sell everything. I’ve lost count how many billions have now been hauled there, from all corners of New Eden (thanks to hauling junk out from different holes on different days), but the ‘joy’ of reprocessing hundreds of random items and then listing a few hundred more will be great…

The really funny/sad thing is that a few C5 sleeper sites generate more ISK than the entire C3 earned us during our stay. That we have an upcoming secret Op that will likely be worth far, far more than THAT also puts thing in perspective, and makes leaving behind a few hundred million in PI goods an easy choice over however many hauling trips it would have taken to get it all out.

If you would like to buy a C3 with a low-sec static and great PI (POCOs included), let me know. IMO it’s the perfect ‘starter’ hole for a Corp new to wormhole space. Traffic is low as you only have the low-sec to worry about, the PI is great and easy for everyone to get started with, and C3 Sleeper sites sit at just the right level of difficulty and reward.


EVE: Sleeper Jam

June 12, 2012

In training all week (SAP BO y u so gui?), so blog content might be slim. Sorry?

As we continue to assimilate into our C5 alliance, I’m noticing the approach to ISK generation and how best to use WH content is quite different from our C3. In our C3, we ran all sites to completion, with only grav sites staying around for more than a day due to the amount of mining time required to clear them. In the C5, not only are sites not ‘finished’, but the majority of the content is the escalation waves. Once those are complete, the fleet moves on to the next one. This is further compounded by the daily downtime ‘refreshing’ the escalations, allowing the same site to be farmed 3-4 times. We are talking billions of ISK per site, so tens of billions over a few days is ‘normal’. More on C5 ISK vs Incursions or station-grinding and such in a different post.

At those amounts, and with the alliance focused on all kinds of PvP activities (more on those as they become history rather than current Ops), the question goes from “when CAN we make ISK” to “when do we WANT to make ISK”. For us (INQ-E) currently, it’s “as often as we can please”, but for those with a few billion and enough ships for all situations, they would much rather USE that ISK (PvP) than make more of it.

“So everyone in HAHA flies around in Officer-fit T3s right?”

Nope. Oh they could, from an ISK aspect, but they don’t. Why? Because a multi-billion ISK loss on a killboard hurts your efficiency a lot more than a 750m T3, and while those Officer fits are nice and all, they don’t ‘belong’ on a T3, or even a Carrier/Dred. This makes sense if you PvP in EVE, it might not to those who don’t. I’d explain it, but… yea.

This is why just making ISK for the sake of making ISK is a non-factor for an alliance like HAHA. At some point (and with C5 sites, that point comes much sooner than later), ISK stops being a major goal and you start really focusing on things that ‘matter’, like knowing wtf to do in PvP. And by PvP, I don’t mean the simply act of locking the called target and hitting F1. That anyone can do, and is again a laughable ‘EVE is easy’ statement you often see from non-players. No, really learning PvP, especially WH PvP, is a very deep rabbit hole that gets deeper and deeper the better you get and the more roles/responsibilities you take on.


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