Monday, July 28, 2014

To Trust in the Rust - The Breacher

Its a week-long public holiday here. Whilst you'd think that an effectively 9-day holiday would give me more time to blog, it doesn't! Wife will be dragging me down to the mall shortly for shopping! I have no idea how I'm going to get anything done for Fiction Friday!


So I'm going to do a couple of short posts about what I'm flying currently around Black Rise. Today, the Breacher!


I do like the look of the Breacher, its proper Matari. You know, the "explosion in a girder factory" look. I tend to go for rockets with a MDW to get into the targets face. A medium ASB loaded with Navy 50's and a DCU provides tank. I go with web and scram for range control using a overdrive injector in the lows. A ship with a AB and a web will be able to break free if he really wants to but with the number of kiting ships around a AB rocket ship has too many drawbacks for me.

DPS with T2 Rage rockets and a pair of Hobgoblin II's is a shade under 150dps.

Unheated I get 3.5km/sec from the MWD which is not enough to catch all the kiters, but certainly the lazy ones. By loading Javelin  T2 Rockets I get 15km range, 8.5km with the T2 Rage.

Shield boost does nicely with a Blue Pill.


This ship will eat most T1 MWD/Blaster boats. Orbit at 8km and spam rockets. It can usually tank rocket Kestrels long enough for you to kill them. It will kill IN Slicers as long as you have them pointed and webbed and they cannot make range. But be careful, faction frigates can be a problem!


Sunday, July 27, 2014

SCASSSS - A Tale of Internet Spaceships

Well.... its a Sunday Short in terms of I don't have to write a lot! Just in case some of you have been living under a Veldspar 'Roid for the last week!


Friday, July 25, 2014

Rogue Intelligence - Part 2

Fiction Friday. Escape pod here. Could Sov grinding be made fun???


Rogue Intelligence - Part 2

Korako Kosakami strode into the conference room with purpose. The assembled officers rose from their seats to attention as he entered. As he sat, so did the others.

"Today is a special day. Many of you know various parts of the operation culminating soon, I am here to brief you on the big picture. Four months ago one of our intelligence analysts picked up on two separate, unconnected reports. The Gallente had a prototype AI chip that was beyond anything currently available. In fact it was so advanced it could break the Dodixie Convention on Artificial Intelligence with the right software. The idiots were going to stick it in drones! The other report was from the Amarr. They had developed the most advanced AI combat software ever. A military pilot AI that could pilot any class of ship and approaching capsuleer level. However, they were years away from the hardware."

Korako Kosakami strode away from the conference table and gazed out of the huge window into deep space.


"Our agents have been able to acquire both the prototype chip and the software. As we speak it is being installed into a test ship. This is going to level the playing field. For too long the Empyreans have had a hold over us. They can take us at 10 to 1 in our favour and still beat us without breaking a sweat. We do not have enough of our own capsuleers to challenge them. But now, with an armada of ships powered by this new technology, we will crush them."

"What is the test ship?" one of the officers asked.

"We needed a capital. Something big and specialised in drones. We need to manufacture more of these chips and drone parts so we installed factories inside it."

"The Nyx we stole last month!" another officer exclaimed.

Kosakami smiled and nodded. "We set up factories in the hangers and removed the capsule gantry and replaced it with servers. In a few hours we will have a fully automated super carrier that can produce its own drones and fighters that are equipped with a super-advanced AI. That ship will be self sufficient and will have the capsuleers running for wormhole space to escape our wrath!"

-o0o-

Captain Jotaro looked at the readouts on his datapad. The control functions were being rerouted. The Omicron chip was coming online. Within minutes he would be the Captain of the most advanced ship in the cluster. Whilst not the most powerful, the titans still would hold that honour, it would be the best in its class. Not even a capsuleer piloted super-carrier would stand a chance against it. They could operate in deep space almost indefinitely. The new on-board factories could produce drones and spare parts as needed. Material could be mined from local asteroids using drones. Any Empyrean they met would feel their wrath.

"Sir, phase one is complete. I am heading to the capsuleer gantry to initiate phase two." his first officer stated.

He nodded in acknowledgement and watched her leave. He was concerned about her. She was after his job, he was sure of that. He needed to keep an eye on her, there was no way he was going to let a piece of skirt take the greatest command in the Guristas away from him.

Jotaro went back to his datapad and selected the security cameras in the pod gantry. He saw her enter. The capsule itself was missing, in its place were two large servers rigged into the capsule interfaces. Within the heart of one of these servers was the Omicoron Chip. In the other the vast software package of the Amarrian combat AI. It had been hacked and unquestionable allegiance to the Guristas installed at its core. He was assured the hacking was the best in the Cluster and other than the allegiance change, nothing had changed. The Captain and First Officer would still have ultimate control, however the AI would replace the thousands of crew that were needed to man a ship this size. For those jobs it couldn't handle, it would create advanced drones to man the stations more effectively than a human could ever do.

Mei-Xing the First Officer approached the console and logged into the system. The diagnostic showed everything was running as it should. She entered her command codes for the Nyx. These would give the AI full control over all ship functions. It was ready.

"Captain. The AI is ready. Awaiting your orders to bridge the connection."

Whilst everything had been installed, a physical switch had been made between the Omicron server and the ship. This allowed the AI to be fully disconnected in the event of any problems.

"Flick the switch number one. Lets see what this bucket of bolts can do!"

He watched on the screen as her ran hovered over the switch. She flicked it into the open position and the ship was instantly plunged into darkness.

"Report!" shouted the Captain into the gloom.

"Main power is down. All computer systems are down. Captain it appears..."

The unseen officer was cut short as the power came back on.

"Everything is back sir. Looks like the AI rebooted the systems. All lights are green. I'm showing process orders being sent to the factories and heavy usage of the Neocom connection sir."

"Noted. This is to be expected. Our new member of the crew is preparing us for war with the capsuleers."

-o0o-

Down in the factory hanger Chief Engineer Shingo looked on as the robotic arms swung around the conveyor belt. He sighed out loud.


"Not happy Chief?" Technician First Class Kenichi joined him leaning on the rail looking down at the factory.

"This thing is going to put us all out of a job. They think it'll start by producing drones with the same super advanced AI. Ones that'll do our job better, faster and more efficient. However, these bucket of bolts cannot feel. They have no instinct to trust. It'll be a disaster." he moaned. "I mean look at that thing!"

The two men watched the machine walk off the production line. It was larger than a man and walked on four legs. Four more limbs stretched out in front of it.

"I mean what the frack is THAT for? What is that where its head should be? Looks like a spoon!"

"I don't know Chief. But I wouldn't want to bump into it in a dimly lit corridor!"

The two Engineers watched the thing scurry out of the factory and down the corridor off to do its job whatever that may be.

Meanwhile in the capsuleer gantry the AI ran a new sub-routine for the first time. A bad connection was found and started an illegal operation. The AI tried to correct the error and failed. An emergency re-write of sections of its software was undertaken. Unfortunately the hackers had made a mistake and the AI was trying to correct the damage they had done.

-o0o-

Mei-Xing was just getting ready for bed when her datapad sounded with a priority one call. She grabbed the pad and saw it was the Captain.

"Sir?"

"Number One, get down to the pod gantry now." the Captain barked and the call cut off.

She quickly threw on her uniform and rushed out of her quarters. The lift seamed terribly slow as she wondered what the problem was. The Captain sounded mad. Was there a problem with the AI? Were they in danger?

She jogged along the corridor and reached the secure door to the pod gantry. Capsuleers were extremely vulnerable whilst in their hydrostatic pods and entry to the pod gantry was strictly controlled. She held her eye to the scanner and a second later the door opened. She entered the pod gantry and froze. The drones had been busy installing hardware. Wires snaked around the chamber connecting various bits of hardware that had been bolted here and there. Small drones scurried around the large room.

"Captain?" she called out as she picked her way through the tangled wires.

"Over here!" she heard his voice but it didn't sound quite right. It appeared to be coming from a large chair that had appeared in the room. She looked at it carefully. The chair appeared to be wired into the various systems surrounding it. Metallic robotic arms appeared to be bolted to the floor around it standing eight feet high. She couldn't fathom what purpose this construction would serve. A sound made her spin around. A small drone approached her. It was the size of a small dog and had six legs. It was a dull metallic silver and appeared to have a small arm mounded on its back. She watched as the arm extended towards her. Suddenly it shot forward and she felt a surge of electricity course through her body. She collapsed to the ground convulsing. One of the large robotic arms near the seat extended and grabbed her around the neck. It lifted her off the floor and into the chair. She was helpless as restraints wrapped around her arms and legs, the effects of the electrical pulse still paralysing her muscles. It was over in seconds, she was completely immobile in the chair. A second robotic arm appeared. This had some sort of sharp cone on the end of the arm. Slowly it levelled with her face. She screamed as it settled over her left eye and started to move forward, small metallic tentacle started to emerge from the point. The shriek intensified as she felt the cold metal make contact with her delicate eyeball.


-o0o-

The Captain grumbled to himself as he walked down the corridor. It was probably nothing, Mei-Xing just trying to create drama. He scanned his eye at the door and entered the pod gantry. He'd taken two steps in when he froze. It had changed, the entire room now looked like a hive. The door hissed closed behind him making him jump. He tried to back out but the door was secured.

"Captain...." Mei-Xing's voice echoed around the chamber.

The Captain was sweating now in fear. Something was very wrong. He slowly moved around the patched-in cables and equipment. As he moved around a large server housing and did a something unbecoming a Captain, he screamed. In front of him was Mei-Xing, or what was left of her anyway, secured to a metal chair. Clusters of wires vanished into her left bloodied eye-socket. More pipes and cables sprouted from various locations on her body. A section of her skull was missing and more wires vanished into her exposed brain. Her whole body shook with tremors. Her mouth was not moving, it was locked in a half scream with drool running from the side.

"Captain.... please..... kill...... me......."

The voice didn't come from Mei-Xing but from the various speakers around the room. The Captains eyes rolled up into his head and he promptly fainted. This was for the best as he never felt the robotic arm grab him by the neck and place him into another chair. He was still unconscious as he was slowly made a part of the ship.

-o0o-

"Lieutenant? The.... The jump drive, its spooling up!"

"Impossible!" shouted the lieutenant as he lept out of the Captains chair and down to the navigation station.

"Confirmed sir. We are jumping!"

Lieutenant Donghai gripped his head in frustration. The grave-yard shift meant the Captain and First Officer were sleeping. Nothing ever came of Lieutenants who dragged the commanding officers out of bed to solve their problems.

"Who lit the destination cyno?" he asked thinking quickly. "We are not fleeted are we?"

"Erm.... I don't know sir.... this readout must be wrong.... sir.... I...."

The Lieutenant grabbed the ensign by the shoulder and dragged him from the chair. He quickly sat and read the screen. He couldn't believe it. It was one of the new Firblog fighters that had been refitted by the AI at the factory. All fighters had been reconfigured to fly with AI rather than a pilot. But this one, it had a cyno generator installed. Not only that, it had travelled several systems through jump gates in the last hour, something fighters should not have been able to do.

"That's impossible! Only the Captain and First Officer have the command codes for the jump drive. It was a safety precaution. Those codes were never given to the AI!" he hissed in anger as the Nyx class supercarrier vanished into the artificial wormhole.

"Open a channel to...." the Lieutenant was cut short as the bridge door opened. A humanoid drone walked in. The bridge crew froze as it approached the Lieutenant. Whilst it was humanoid it appeared to have no eyes or mouth or any features of any kind. Its head slowly turned as if scanning the room. Its head stop when it faced the lieutenant. Slowly it turned and started to walk towards him.

"Stop! I order you to stop. Stand down." he stuttered. He was still giving it orders as it grabbed his head and tore it from his shoulders. It held the head in its hand as if studying it. There was a stunned silence as the crew processed what they had just seen before the bridge erupted into chaos.


People tried to escape but the doors had been sealed by the computer. The humanoid drone slowly walked around the room. It caught the comms officer by the arm. He struggled as the drone lifted him up and threw him against the wall with immense force. There was a sickening crunch of bones shattering and his lifeless body fell to the floor. The tactical officer was backed into the corner as it came for her. She stood her ground defiantly knowing there was nowhere to go.

"Frack you." she snarled.

The drone grabbed her head and twisted quickly. There was a loud snap and it dropped her lifeless body to the floor, her head facing the wrong way.

Another minute later it left the lifeless blood-soaked room, the dead bodies of the bridge crew littering the bridge. As it left smaller drones scurried into the room and started to interface themselves with the various stations.

-o0o-

Korako Kosakami  shut down the holoprojector. He'd seen enough. The 60 second video had been sent to Guristas HQ in a burst transmission. It had taken them a while to piece it back together it as it appeared to have been sent from, what his technicians had termed, a 'ghetto transmitter'. Something put together from spare parts that were never meant to work together.

A bloodied and injured Chief Engineer had been screaming into a recorder. He'd spliced in shots from the various security cameras around the ship. It had been the stuff of nightmares. Drones under the control of the AI roaming the corridors and literally ripping apart any crew they found. Parts of the ship no longer resembled Gallente construction and had been changed beyond all recognition. However, the most horrific of all the images had been a grainy shot of the pod gantry room. The Captain and First Officer literally wired into the ship as some kind of organic processors. The Chief Engineer had made it very clear the AI had taken control of the ship and killed almost all the crew. He also mad it abundantly clear he was very mad at the Guristas high-command for letting this happen.

The ship itself had vanished, apparently according to the Chief, AI controlled drones were able to light cynos allowing the ship to use its jump drive. The command codes from the jump drive clearly extracted from the Captains brain.

Korako Kosakami had placed a standing order for his forces to engage and destroy the Nyx. However, no sign had been seen of it for days. He turned to his communication suite and opened a comm channel. A man in a lab coat appeared on screen and stood to attention.

"Mr Kosakami sir!"

"At ease. Is your project ready?"

"Yes sir. The primary test subject has been identified and is being tracked. The equipment is mounted on the ship and is primed. However I was under orders to hold as Project Omicron had priority?"

"How long until you could implement fully?"

"Well sir, we're not 100% sure as we would need to destroy her fighter. It might take a couple of engagements until we successfully destroy her ship depending on our own fighters sir."

"Do it."

"Yes sir. On your orders we are activating Project Valkyrie."

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Help! I Need a New Game. Ideas?

Eve mojo is still running on empty and we've got a nine day public holiday starting this weekend. However, that's not for the private sector who get two days off mid-week. Unfortunately for the wife I'm Government and she's private sector.


So I'm going to be spending a lot of time at the pub with a certain CFC pilot otherwise I'll be on the PC during the day. I'll play some Eve, but my TZ is sad lacking. Euro's will be at work, Yanks will be sleeping, and I'll be roaming solo. So, I need something new and exciting. Anyone got any suggestions?


What I will be playing:-

Eve Online - ofc
Titanfall - Nearly at Gen3.
Stronghold Kingdoms - Not really a game you play for a long session. Log on, check what has happened, set some things to go, log off.
Gnomoria - Dwarf Fortress Lite. Yeah, my kingdom is self sufficient and my defences are taking care of attacks. Getting a bit bored now.


What I have played and got bored of recently:-

Dwarf Fortress
Minecraft
Skyrim
XCom
FTL
Defiance
Sim City
Banished
Starcraft 2
WoW (this was many years ago, just adding it here in case someone suggests it!)


What I would like:-

Something with exploration. That wonder of, I really have no idea what is here and what will happen next, ala Everquest in 1999!
Something with good levelling. I need that "Ding" in my life again. I want to see a scrolling XP bar as I kill stuff!
Something with violence. I like killing things!


Games I have looked at as possibilities:-

Elder Scrolls Online? Wow, that continues to get some really bad reviews. Is it really that bad?
Lord of the Rings Online? Appears popular.
Star Wars : The Old Republic? Again a lot of negative press about this.
Tropico 5 - Saw they had this in the local games store.

Anyone got any suggestions? LoTRO appears to be front runner atm simply because I haven't a better idea!

Monday, July 21, 2014

SoTF/DnD Closes its Doors

From a few whispers around the internetz and social media, it appears that the corporation Shadows of the Federation, founding member of the Drunk 'n' Disorderly Alliance has closed its doors for the final time.

SoTF was my first PvP corporation and I was with them for a number of years as a director. I had some great times with them. Really sad that they are gone now. Here are a few of my favourite memories...

The PL Titan Gank
Whilst feeling safe and happy in their home system of Amamake, one certain PL pilot would gate-camp with his smart-bombing Erebus. A joint SoTF/Wolfsbrigade operation was put into effect. It was top secret and coded named "Lets gank Oddos smart-bombing titan for shits and giggles.". It was worked out that 40 dreadnoughts would be needed to kill a Titan in one siege cycle and warp out. So the faction war noobs decided to give it a go!


The Milton Keynes Meet Up.
What happened in Milton Keynes, stays in Milton Keynes. You who were there know what I'm talking about!



Birthday Fleets and Escalations
There was a tradition that the primary FC's would lead roams on their birthdays. Tekitha would get the fleet whelped and Lockout would have us engage a superior enemy and some how roflstomp them after they had dropped caps and return home with minimal loses. We also had some epic escalations with more and more hotdrops and more and more batphones being called. That one in Kedama was amazing! A few choice reports from over the years:-

http://sandciderandspaceships.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/nyx-down-birthdays-and-anniversaries.html

http://sandciderandspaceships.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/hotdrop-that-was-hotdropped-that-was.html

http://sandciderandspaceships.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/a-tuesday-night-slugfest-with-ev0ke.html


The Quam Super Hotdrop
Ahhhh, I remember this one well. Quam were running around Black Rise with a faction BS fleet with only a couple of logi. Well known for dropping supers, we knew what they were up to. So we put together a BS fleet, fitted two with cynos and prepped a sacrificial capital. We engaged, dropped our carrier... they dropped two of their own carriers. Damn, no supers! However, we were getting the upper hand and were about to drop a dreadnought to try and push the escalation. We didn't have to, they dropped three Nyx on us before the dread was ready to jump. We jumped in the HICs who had been waiting at a safe out of scan range and then lit the other cyno. The Quam smack-talk, that had been filling local, went quiet as 25 Raiden supercarriers hotdropped in!



So for now SoTF is all quiet. However, in Eve, you never say never right Gallactica?

Sunday, July 20, 2014

SCASSSS - Sindel's Watchlist

Awesome parody by the lovely Sindel Pellion.



I think it needs a video! Think about it gents, remember the original version....


Friday, July 18, 2014

Rogue Intelligence - Part 1

Fiction Friday! Escape pod here. This is the Caldari Prime Pony Club that lets you paint all the hulls in Eve. Thats how I did some of the "art" (with a silent f) for this piece.


Rogue Intelligence - Part 1

The man tapped away at the keyboard quietly. The dim light of the screen illuminated his face in the gloom of the darkened room. He was almost there, three more firewalls to deactivate and he'd be rich. He leant back in the chair as the program slowly decrypted the next firewall which would allow him to delete it. He looked at the tiny chip mounted in a custom built interface which was in turn wired into his small computer. He couldn't believe he was going to be a millionaire soon. Two months ago he was a simple programmer earning minimum wage processing security code for the Professor. CreoDron was like any other heartless corporation, more interested in profit than their staff. Yes the Gallente professed to be nothing like the Caldari but in big business it was all the same. The company was going to get rich off his back and he'd get nothing but a pat on the back. Two months ago he'd have accepted that. Then he'd met her. He glanced behind him to the hotel bed, she was laying on top of the sheets asleep. He smiled at her, drinking in her semi naked body. A quiet beep brought his attention back to the computer, the next firewall was down. He reset the program for the penultimate firewall and ran it again.


At only 24 they had said he had a bright future ahead of him. A total geek, he'd graduated top of his class in applied software engineering. He had specialised in advanced security algorithms and had his pick of the mega-corps to chose from when he graduated. CreoDron had made the best offer. He'd soon proven his worth and been moved into the advanced AI program. Drones were seen as the future of warfare and CreoDron were making sure they were the leaders in the field. Officially the research they were undertaken broke the Dodixie Convention on Artificial Intelligence. The creation of the rogue drones that now inhabited deep space that have become known as the Drone Regions, had led to a cross-Empire agreement not to advance AI to a level where a kill decision was undertaken by an algorithm. There always had to be a human in the chain to make the decision to end a life. Whilst the new AI programs still technically had that, there was potential for the AI to decide on the right course of action and over-rule the human command if it considered it for the greater good. In the simulations they were confident that the AI made the right decision each time. They were very close to a proper "launch and forget" combat drones that would help capsuleer concentrate on more important matters. A true "thinking" drone was the first step, the potential for further use was unlimited. Trials on automated frigates and cruisers had begun.

The girl on the bed shifted position slightly. He glanced back at her, she was still asleep.

They'd met at an underground hacking party. She'd looked out of place amongst the other Gallente tech-heads. She was Caldari and dressed differently. She was more mainstream than the others. They'd hit it off together big time. Within a week they were lovers. It was during their pillow talk he'd complained about his pay given they were on the edge of a ground-breaking drone technology. She'd come up with a plan, a plan to make them rich so they could run away together and live happily ever after. It had been easy to steal the prototype chip. He'd simply swapped the real one with an earlier version. He then claimed he was running a security diagnostic and people would have to leave it two hours. Then he simply walked out the front gates saying he was going to lunch with the real prototype in his pocket. They had hired a shuttle by hacking into the hire companies computers and inserting a false pre-paid booking. They then had reprogrammed the transponder, swapping it with a passing industrial. They had arrived at this station using false papers and booked into a five-star hotel again by hacking into the systems and inserting a fake booking. They had been there three days.

It was the most dangerous part of the plan. They were wanted fugitives now. The CreoDron security services were after them as were all Federal Agencies. Their formidable hacking skills had helped them hide in this hotel, for now. All he needed was to remove the security from the prototype chip and they could sell it on. She had contacts who would pay top credit for the chip but only after the security had been removed. As he had been part of the team that devised the security, it wasn't a big problem, just time consuming. Several hundred firewalls and security routines needed to be removed in a specific order. A beep signified the next firewall had been disabled. He queued up the program for the final one. Less than a minute late he leant back in his chair and smiled.

"All done?" a female voice purred into his ear.

He jumped slightly having not heard her rise. A pair of soft lips kissed his neck.

"Yes, all firewalls are down and the program is deleting all the security subroutines. The chip will be security free in 30 seconds."

A black silk stocking brushed his face making him giggle.

"Hey you know I prefer you to leave them on." he joked. "Put it back on and we'll celebrate!"

A slender female hand grabbed the other end of the black silk. Suddenly she pulled the stocking tight across his neck and yanked hard. He struggled as the silk bit deep into his neck and cut off his air supply. He tried to shout but all that came out was a rasp. He flailed his arms but couldn't reach her. As spots started to appear in his vision and his lungs burnt like fire he realised, may be he had been set up. 20 seconds later he was dead.

The woman grabbed a hotel robe and threw it on before pushing the body out of the chair. It landed on the floor with a thud. She looked at the computer and confirmed that all the security had indeed been removed.

She opened up a secure communication line on the computer and tapped in a message.

"Chip secure. Security deactivated. Awaiting instructions."

She sat back and waited for the response. It took less than a minute.

"Hanger 34B. Berth 12. Go now."

The woman stood and dressed quickly. She removed the chip from the interface and placed it carefully in a box. She removed a small ball from her bag and placed it on the table. She looked around to make sure everything was in order and left the room. Two minutes later the small fusion grenade detonated, vaporising the computer, desk and body in an instant.

-o0o-

"Sir, we have confirmation. The package is en route. ETA six hours."

The Captain nodded as he stared out of the immense viewscreen. The stars were distorted by the cloaking device that hid the vast super-carrier. He looked around the bridge with its curved lines and green tint. It had been one of the Guristas most daring raids ever. A Federation Nyx class supercarrier stolen from a Navy shipyard. It had been Korako Kosakami aka The Rabbit, who had jumped the Nyx, only a capsuleer could manage to fly the vast ship with such a skeleton crew. Now they were cloaked deep in null-sec. Korako Kosakami had long departed and the ship was vulnerable. There wasn't enough crew to operate the ship at combat readiness so they were cloaked and hiding.

"Sir, the technicians are reporting the interface is ready. The software acquired from the Amarrians has been installed. We just need the Gallente package and testing can begin."

"Very good. I'm retiring to my quarters. You have the bridge. I want everything ready by 0800 hours."

The Captain strode off the bridge and through his ready room and into his quarters. Jotaro was honoured to have this command, perhaps the most important in the Guristas currently. Their stolen Nyx had been undergoing significant works. He could see the maintenance drones on one section of the hull from his window. They were busy slowly repainting the ship in the Guristas colours. Soon they would be ready. The capsule section had been stripped and re-wired ready for the new technology. Top secret software had been stolen from the Amarrians. The software was state of the art but they lacked the processing power to take full advantage of it. Someone at the Guristas Central Intelligence had seen separate intelligence reports on the two technologies and realised the two Empires had unknowingly created complimentary technology. If it worked and the Guristas could meld the two, there would be no more running from the capsuleers, they would be taking the fight to them.

-o0o-

The small shuttle docked with the super carrier some six hours later. The vast ship decloaking just long enough for the tiny vessel to enter the main hanger before it cloaked up again.


As the woman walked down the ramp a small delegation was stood there to meet her. One officer with three technicians.

"Welcome aboard Colonel. Do you have it?" the Officer asked excitedly.

The woman reached into her bag and retrieved the small case. She handed it to the officer who passed it to one of the technicians. The three techs left with the box.

"Is everything prepared?" she asked as she walked across the hanger, the officer falling in behind.

"Yes ma'am. The interface has been connect as per your specifications. Currently the ship is unable to accept any capsuleer as we have rerouted the command protocols to the interface."

The woman stopped.

"Does that make you nervous lieutenant?"

"Well yes ma'am. This ship is not combat capable with this level of crew and no capsuleer in command. If the chip doesn't work...."

"It will work!" she interrupted "And when this ship is fully operational and we have proved to command the viability of the Omicron chip we will have an armada of ships control by them. Finally the tide will turn. Finally the dominance of the capsuleers will be stopped and the time of the Guristas will begin."

To be continued...

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Roamin' Solo

I went for a solo roam early this week and thought I'd document it. It can be a pain to find solo targets in my TZ but I was up late giving that I had a late start at work the next day. I was hopeful that I was nearing EU prime-time (I'm GMT +4) and there might be someone to fight!

I fitted up the following Breacher and went to see what I could find...


From local I could see Nisuwa was clear. To be honest its a brave squid that plexs in the home of the QCats. So I went over to Hirri which is a more popular system. Or should I say can be. As the only guy in system, I didn't stick around.

As I jumped into Pyne I saw local pop up with absolutely full of suspect players. As grid loaded I breathed a sigh of releaf that I had not just jumped into a massive gate camp. I warped to a safe quickly and started scanning. It appeared the suspects were a large Moa and Caracal gang with logi and fast tackle sat at the Rakapas gate. I scanned two Tristans at a plex but they appeared to be together. Me verse a 20-man gang or even just two Tristans was too much. Time to move on.

Hikkoken had a few neuts. I was only able to find an Algos in a plex. An Algos should splatter a Breacher easily, and doubly so if I had to warp into him. Others appeared to be deep safed or cloaked. So I decided to move on.


Next stop was Nennamalia, There were 20 in local, none spotted in space, I assumed most were docked up. Given the numbers of neuts and some squids kicking about I decided to sit in a plex for a while. Whilst 5AU scanning over the course of five minutes I saw Harpy, Thrasher, Algos... IN Slicer. I reduced scan range and the Slicer was coming for me! Faction Frigate verse T1 frigate? As he was warping into me I decided I'd take it. I launched my T2 warriors and pre-over heated my web and scram. The trick with IN Slicers is to stop them from kiting you. I sat on the warp in and waited. A few seconds later a neutral Imperial Navy Slicer entered the plex. I locked him up, activated the web and scram as well as the rocket launchers and burnt after him as he tried to make range. I pulsed the MWD and he only got to 6k maximum, easily within range of my over-heated web and scram, before I closed in on him. I stopped the overheat and then it was a nose-to-nose slug fest. My active tank was far superior to his DPS and he exploded in a fireball. GF's in local. I scooped the loot and headed to the station to repair my module damage from the overheating. Quick shout out from another player, tbh I was worried by the first line but the second made me smile.

18:04:30 ] Drackarn > gf
18:09:13 ] Mr John Steer > Drackarn i read your shit
18:09:29 ] Mr John Steer > its good
18:09:32 ] Drackarn > :) Thanks

Enaluri was next stop and all very blue so I didn't hang around. Hallanan had several neuts. Nothing in space that I could find. Moved on quickly.

Back to Hikkoken and I found a Squid in system. I did a wide scan and found a couple of ships in space. I looked the squid up on Eve-Kill and it looked like he flew Rocket Kessies. There was a Kestrel somewhere in system. Rocket Kessie vs Rocket Breacher, sounded a good fight. I scanned one plex but that was empty, the other plex was just out of scan range. I thought sod it, I'll take a chance and warped direct to the plex. I landed into a fight. The Kessie was there, fighting a neutral Cruor. I had to make a quick decision. The value of the faction frigate made me forget my Gallente Militia principals and I engaged the Cruor hoping to kill him jointly with the Kessie and then catch the Kessie and polish him off too. As I got in range the Kestrel exploded. Shit!


Cruor verse Breacher is not a good fight if you are the Breacher. Its even less of a good fight if you've loaded EMP ammo expecting to fight a Kestrel. I was capped out and supremely buggered before I could get out. I was able to last longer than I should by pulsing the ASB. However that meant I couldn't fire back, it was a choice of pulsing the shield booster or the weapons, and that Cruor was repping like there was no tomorrow. Knowing it was useless I aligned out and was spamming warp as my ship exploded. GF in local and podded back to Nis.

One Imperial Navy Slicer killed, one Breacher lost due to me taking a risk. I do hope these Nulli guys show up soon! It was a lot of work for one kill!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Its over 800!

Plex prices are running high. There are calls for CCP to lower them. However, CCP does not control Plex prices*. Some people have even accused CCP of pushing up the price of plex to make more money. This is a stupid accusation. CCP make more money from PLEX subscriptions than they do credit card subscriptions. CCP would be happier if everyone subbed via PLEX as they would make more money than if everyone subbed by credit-card.

So who does control PLEX prices?

I do.


OK, not me personally but people like me are one side of the coin. Players who buy plex with real-life cash and sell them on the in-game market for ISK. I cannot be bothered to carebear and PvP is an expensive hobby. I'm happy to buy 6 PLEX on my credit-card, sell them on the market and use the ISK to buy shiny ships and nice destructive ammunition!

The other ones who control the price of PLEX, the other side of the coin, are the buyers. Those who make vast quantities of ISK in-game and buy PLEX off the in-game market rather than paying cash for their monthly subscription.


Both of these two sides control how much a PLEX is worth through simple supply and demand.

Traditionally this has worked very well however things are starting to get a bit expensive on the demand side. Why? Well lets have a look at the options:-

Supply.

Have people stopped selling as many PLEX recently? I know I have. I think my purchase from the account management page and my last sale of PLEX was back in January. So I haven't been seeding the market. Why? Because I haven't had that many ships to replace. Why? Because I've been a bit burnt out with Eve so not been playing as much. Could this be a wide-spread issue. Could many of the players who sold PLEX on the market just be fed up with Eve so haven't been playing as much?

Lotteries. A lot of ETC sellers rewarded customers with prizes including plex. After the Ishukone Watch Scorpion storm last year CCP clamped down on what ETC retailers could offer. Could this have impacted PLEX prices by lowering supply in the market place.

Offers. Any PLEX sale encourages people to buy PLEX from CCP. Have they been doing as many lately? I cannot remember seeing any advertisements for PLEX sales recently. Oh wait..... what's this on the launcher... oh its just a link to buy PLEX.


Demand.

Willingness to pay is the first issue. At 800m ISK plus, are people willing to pay that price? Yes, some are. Obviously, otherwise the price would drop as sellers reduced their price to make the sale. So is one of the issues the amount of ISK in game currently? Are there enough people making so much money that 800m is not an issue for them? Are those people making enough money to keep the price up.

Skins. Recently we have had something useful to spend AUR on. The old days of monocles or a nice pair of shoes are out and ship skins are in. Is the availability of these new items on the NEX pushing up the price of plex by increasing demand for plex to be broken down to AUR?


Dual Training. You can use PLEX to train multiple characters on one account, or to transfer characters between accounts, or even re-sculpt your appearance. Are these increasing demand for PLEX?

Out of Game Purchases. In the last year you've been able to buy Fanfest tickets, graphics cards and the 10 Year Collectors Edition with PLEX. You've been able to donate PLEX to good causes. Is the use of PLEX in this way driving up demand whilst the supply side has remained static?

Investment. Traditionally many people bought PLEX when going inactive. As PLEX has always been going up it sounds a good idea. Put your assets into PLEX and when you come back to game in a years time they'll be worth more than when you left. Obviously this needs lots of people to do this to affect the market.


Lets have a look at traded volume vs price:-


Mmmmm the volume traded looks to be slightly lower than a year ago but not very noticeable. So from all the possible reasons I listed above the one that looks most likely is that people simply have more ISK than they had a year ago and are willing to buy PLEX at higher cost.

To be honest I have no idea why PLEX prices are so high. I suspect its a combination of many of the above factors???

Anyone out there have a proper explanation?


* Apparently at one point in the last year plex prices were increasing too rapidly and CCP did intervene. They injected PLEX from banned accounts into the market thus increasing supply above demand and stabilising prices. However as far as I know this has been the only time.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

SCASSSS - Solo PvP, Its Out There (Video)

So I got a mail from a reader called Kikusama who told me to stop bemoaning the lack of solo PvP around at the moment. Its out there, you just need to look....


Still think he needs to try my timezone! Just after DT and I cannot find anyone to shoot!

Friday, July 11, 2014

The Games - Part 4

Fiction Friday! Escape pod here!

This is the final instalment of a piece that started out as an attempt to do a fiction piece in 500 words and ended up as a four-parter!


The Games - Part 4

Xarna walked through the medical bay of the strategic cruiser. A large viewport looked out on a large Gallente space station orbiting a nearby moon. Her target for tonight. She checked her watch, there was still plenty of time.


Six of the twelve beds on the med-bay were occupied by unconscious men and women hooked up to drips.

"Doctor, all OK?" she asked the man in a lab coat checking on one of the patients.

The Caldari man turned around. He was in his late 40's and balding heavily. Whilst modern medicine could cure baldness relatively easily he liked the way it made him look. He had been a doctor at a major hospital on New Caldari specialising in induced coma medicine. During a 26 hour shift, thanks to the corporate bosses trying to maximise profits, he'd made a mistake. Simply inputting one too many zeros into an automated drug dispensing unit had given a young boy a dose of sedatives ten times what he intended. The brain damage the boy had suffered had been irreversible and the parents had demanded justice. He'd been hung out to dry as expected and received a 18 month prison sentence for negligence. The corporation had pulled some strings with the judge realising that they had some responsibility minimising the sentence a bit. However that was the extent of their pity. The doctor still lost everything and left the State Prison after serving his time with nothing other than a few personal effects in a small bag. As he wandered out of the prison gates, a Matari woman had been there leaning against an expensive hover-car. She said she wanted to offer him a job. Now a year later, he was earning more money than he could dream of. Guilt wasn't an issue to him, he saw it as serving justice. The massive irony never dawned on him that he himself would have been a candidate for the games given his past. Money blinds men.

"Yes Madame. The contestants are sleeping soundly. I understand the remaining six will be delivered tonight?"

Xarna nodded as she paced around the beds looking at the new contestants. "We'll have the remainder tonight, I myself will be collecting one from this station and the other teams will be arriving in shuttles through the course of the night. You and your medical team should prepare to have them moved to the new tower at 1800 hours tomorrow."

"Of course Madame."

-o0o-

A few hours later Xarna poured the small vial of crystals into the flute of sparkling wine. It fizzed for a second and then settled as the crystals dissolved. She looked around the expensive hotel suite ensuring everything looked as it should. One of her bodyguards was sat leaning back on the sofa looking casual in a black suit with white shirt with the top button open. He had has arms spread out over the back of the sofa and looked relaxed. She had selected him for this assignment as he was the best looking of her staff. They did look like they could be a married couple, which was the intention. She even thought about playing the scenario through. In most games there was at least one contestant like the one that would be arriving shortly. One that needed to be seduced, either through flesh or by money. The one tonight was money again, the second games in a row featuring a high-class courtesan. Xarna thought how easy it would be to play the night through, have some fun, then give then drink to her after she'd had her fun. No, she thought, too risky, too much money at stake.

The doorbell chimed and Xarna looked at her bodyguard. He nodded to indicate he was ready. Xarna crossed the room and opened the door. The future contestant greeted her like a long lost friend and Xarna showed her inside. Within a minute they were sat on the sofa's together drinking the sparkling wine.

Xarna appraised the victim as she sat opposite her and chatted to her bodyguard who was posing as her husband. She was Gallente, late-20's. The high-class ones tended to be slightly older. Xarna recalled the details from the file. This escort had apparently been booked by a CEO of a large corporation at some point in the past year. When he'd got a bit too rough on her and started using a belt, she had fought back and pushed a panic button hidden in her jewellery. The beating he took from her driver who had been waiting downstairs had been difficult to explain to his wife. The problems he'd suffered in the bedroom after the assault had been even more difficult. He just couldn't shake the memories of the girl and her driver standing over his naked bruised body laughing at him. This further fuelled his rage. Now they were just waiting for her to finish the drink and for the drugs to kick in order to make her a contestant in the next games. The CEO would have his vengeance. Of course the side-effect was that and Xarna would make a lot of money both from the fees from the CEO and the betting by her collection of the rich and the bored.

Xarna wondered what odds the statistics team would give her. She looked in good shape but that didn't really matter in the end in the games. Those willing to kill without a second thought tended to do the best. The other types that tended to do well were those who could ally themselves with the first type. She looked the girl up and down. She was extremely attractive and the contestants were put in the tower in what they were wearing when they captured them. She was therefore at a distinct advantage. Expensive high heels, slender legs with a hint of lace stocking top showing, a tight fitting little white lace dress hugging a fit body and showed more than a hint of cleavage. The hair and make up were done to perfection. Then again at 500 credits an hour, one should expect this standard. Yes, she would certainly be in with a chance of allying with one of the stronger alpha-males, providing one of the perverts didn't get to her first and slowly tear her to pieces, and in the games there were always some of those.

The escort finished her drink. Xarna discretely glanced at her watch, it would take effect soon, they just needed another minute. The escort stood and walked over to Xarna and her faux-husband, holding out a hand for each of them. She was obviously keen to get started. Not wanting to alert the escort to anything amiss Xarna and her bodyguard took the offered hands and rose to their feet. The escort leant in and kissed the bodyguard first. To her surprise, Xarna felt a small pang of jealousy. The girl finished the kiss and moved to Xarna, she wrapped her hand around the back of her neck and pulled her close before dropping the hand to her waist. Xarna didn't resist as the escort kissed her lightly at first but then deeply and passionately. She worried for a second if she might have a problem with the drugged wine the escort had just drunk as she tasted the remnants of the sweet drink on the other woman's invading tongue.


The sound of her bodyguard falling to the floor made her break away in shock. She looked down and saw him laying unconscious on the floor. She looked back at the escort who didn't seem phased that one of her clients had just collapsed, in fact she was smiling dangerously. Xarna knew at this point something was very wrong. She tried to make a grab for her bag which contained a small hybrid pistol but her arm only covered half the distance before it went limp and useless. She fell to her knees as her legs gave way. She looked up at the smiling woman in fear before collapsing face down, the room spinning before fading to black.

-o0o-

Xarna woke in her own quarters. She bolted upright as she recalled what had happened. She looked around and everything seemed to be in order. She was back on the Proteus but still wearing the same clothes from the night before. What had happened in the meantime? She stood up and felt woozy. It hadn't been a dream, that escort had clearly drugged her but how? Was it a robbery? Why didn't the drugs in the wine knock the escort out first? Did they eventually? Did her people find all three unconscious and bring them back here and put her to bed? Was that bitch in the medical bay now or in the brig?

She froze as she saw a strange datapad by the door, just had she had placed them in the starting rooms of her contestants in the past. She gingerly picked it up. There was a message.

Welcome to a very special edition of the games. This is all about lessons. Lessons like you should really check whether your 'winners' are actually dead. Lessons like making sure the datapad in the bonus room removes its active connection to the servers after its downloading the files and not just assuming it has been destroyed. Lessons like its a bad idea to have all the command codes for your ship stored on your own datapad, and of course, lessons like not kissing escorts who have taken a broad-spectrum anti-sedative and who are wearing a very special lipstick. Above all, it is a lesson that two wrongs do not make a right. Lets test if a three wrongs do shall we?

Xarna realised what had happened. The winners of the last games hadn't been killed in the explosion. They'd have escaped. They'd also had the datapad from the bonus room with the acid trap. That was special as it had been connected to the servers on the Proteus so that it could update the contestant files depending which contestants made it in to that room. The firewall didn't need to be strong as none of the contestants had any skills in that area. However, if they got it into the hands of a hacker with proper skills they could get into the contestant lists easily. Thats how they had got her. The contestant she had gone to kidnap last night had been on those lists. They'd got to her first. It was a set-up, she knew everything and they had prepared her for it.

Xarna looked further down the message. It contained extracts from the ships logs. The life-support and propulsion systems had been shut down several hours ago and the crew had been forced to abandoned ship. The life support had then been turned back on once the ship was empty. The logs stated one escape pod remained, however its exact location had been removed. Furthermore a ship had docked with the Proteus before leaving again. She wondered why she was being told these things.

She jumped as the door hissed opened and the datapad screen cleared to show a two hour countdown. She wandered into the corridor in shock. What were they going to do to her? She finally pieced all the elements together as she turned a corner in the corridor and saw what was in front of her. It was the Amarrian Ambassador. He was sat on top of the CEO who had hired them to place the escort from last night into the next games. The Ambassador was repeatable stabbing the CEO in the chest with a jagged piece of metal. The lifeless body of the CEO and the large pool of blood told Xarna the CEO was already very dead but the Ambassador just kept stabbing. He suddenly stopped and slowly turned his head towards Xarna, his robes covered in splattered blood.

At that moment Xarna knew. She was in their version of the Games. Only this time it was on her ship and her fellow contestants were both the sponsors and those who gambled on death as entertainment.

"Ah Madame! You look amazing!" he said calmly.

Xarna realised she was still wearing the outfit from last night. The outfit designed to seduce.

"Shall we have some fun?" he asked casually as he rose from the bloodied corpse and walked towards her. The jagged shard of twisted metal in his hand dripped blood leaving a spotted trail as he approached.

-o0o-

Samar disconnected the viewscreen showing the security camera footage of the Ambassador approaching Xarna. The cockpit screen went back to its view of deep space. A planet moved across their view as he aligned the shuttle to the distant stargate.

Zhilan turned to him from the co-pilots seat. "Aren't you going to watch what happens. I know it hardly makes us any better than them, but what if she escapes and comes after us?"

"She won't escape." was his simple reply."Its over."

Zhilan didn't know why he was so sure of that but she let it be. She went back to her datapad and looked at the identity profile she was learning. Her own face stared back at her from the portrait but the rest of the details were all alien to her. Name, date of birth, employment history, parents, only her Caldari origins were still the same. Everything else was faked. A new identity paid for by the money they had taken from Xarna's many hidden accounts. The hacker friend of Samars who they had given the collection of datapads to had done a very good job. Accessing the games future contestant lists, taking control of that bitches bank accounts and also emptying them. After all that, taking control of the cruiser and forcing the crew to abandon ship was easy.

She watched Samar engage the autopilot and he slumped back in the pilots seat. She placed the datapad down and unfastened her safety belt. She climbed into his lap and took his face in her hands.

"So its all over?" she asked.

He nodded. "Yes, its all over."

She smiled and leant in, kissing him deeply.

"This thing flies itself right?" she purred as she broke the kiss, lent back and unfastened the buttons of her shirt.

-o0o-

Xarna skidded around the bend in the corridor and crashed into the wall. Blood dripped from the stump where her left hand used to be. The crude bandage she'd wrapped around her arm was not stemming the flow of blood. She saw the escape pod ahead. She willed herself onwards even though she was staggering. Over the last two hours she'd been hurt, and hurt bad. As she moved down the wall she left a streak of blood.

Those bastards that she had laughed with, drank with and socialised with over the course of a dozen games over six months had reverted to animals to try and save their own skins. She'd managed to kill the last one who had attacked her, but only after she'd taken her hand. The others that she'd had encounters with, she didn't know if they were alive or dead.


However, now she could see the pod she now knew she was going to escape. She started to feel elated. At the escape pod door she slammed the emergency open button and the hatch hissed as it swung outwards. She ducked down and quickly entered the 4 man-pod and hit the jettison button without waiting. To hell with anyone else left on that ship. The escape pod hatch slammed closed and the pod jettisoned smoothly away from the Proteus strategic cruiser. There had been no bonus rooms, she thought of some of the horrors they could have unleashed. She was thankful they hadn't discovered her supply room where she kept the various objects and lifeforms for use in the bonus rooms.

"Well done Samar. Very well done you bastard." she screamed in rage tilting her head back "Now I am going to hunt you down, you and that whore! You will be forced to watch her suffer slow, unimaginable agony before I kill finally her, and then you'll suffer the same!".

Having calmed down some she saw a large emergency medical kit on one of the seats. She knew she needed to heal the many wounds she had received in getting to the pod. The missing hand was the most critical but she had burns, cuts, stab wounds and bruises from various other Clients and guests she had run into. She flung open the medical kit and jumped back as a dozen armoured insects scurried out of the otherwise empty case. She jumped up onto a seat pulling her knees up to her chest as the insects ran for cover in the harsh light. She knew the creatures, they had found her bonus room 'zoo'. Suddenly the internal lights in the pod cut out and there was a faint hiss from the speakers in the blackness. Suddenly the soft, soothing voice of the famous naturist from the popular show 'Animals of New Eden' sounded around the cabin. The clip she had selected to play in a bonus room.

"The Botane Scorpion is perhaps one of the most feared animals in New Eden. Whilst as not ferocious as the Irnin V Giant Jungle Tiger or as hungry as the Osoggur VI Raptor, it is still terrifying. The Botane Scorpion is highly aggressive and will pro-actively attack anything it considers a threat, no matter what its size. Whilst many of its cousins in the scorpion family chose to hide and only attack to eat or in self-defence, the Botane Scorpion hunts whatever is near in the dark. The poison in its stinger evolved to kill the pray on Botane VI which didn't include humans. The effect of the venom on the human body is unexpected and truly horrific. It attacks the entire central nervous system triggering a specific reaction within certain proteins in the nerves. In simple terms, the victim of a sting feels like they have been thrown into a large roaring fire. Whilst not fatal in itself, the issue is with the longevity of this venom. In the human body it lasts far longer than it should, reacting with these proteins keeps the venom energised and spreading. The human body simply cannot cope with those levels of excruciating pain for an extended period. Those with weak hearts are usually dead within an hour. Those who are fit better have access to the anti-venom, as after 36 hours even the strongest bodies simply give up."

The internal speaker system silenced as suddenly as it had started. All that Xarna could hear in the pitch black was here panicked breathing and the tic-tic-tic of the scorpions on the steel deck plates as they slowly advanced towards her in the dark.

The end.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Project Legion for the Masses?

At the Red Keynote at fanfest, Project Legion was revealed. Just like the PS3 itself, DUST514 is being slowly retired with the new shiny version taking all the development. In the case of DUST514, the PC version called Project Legion currently.

Long-time readers of this blog may recall I bought a PS3 just for DUST514. I played the beta and hated it. I played the released game and hated it. I patched it every few months hoping the new update will have sorted it. Nope, still hated it. I like FPS games on the console, but DUST514 just didn't do it for me. I am hoping Project Legion will be better.


There are plenty of great FPS games out there. CCP needs to sit down and carefully look at what makes them popular and what makes DUST514 unpopular. A free-to-play game cannot be unpopular to the masses. It cannot be a niche title. You need a lot of players using the micro transactions to make your money. A free-to-play model does not work with a niche title that has low numbers of players. CCP need to start thinking about broad-spectrum appeal.

Controls.
One of my biggest gripes with DUST was the controls. Tried game pad then tried keyboard and mouse. Still bad. It improved towards the end and they may have sorted it now. I've not played DUST in a long time.... in fact I don't even know where my PS3 is! I think its in a box somewhere gathering dust! Whilst DUST troopers are supposed to be these huge hulking people with massive muscles (read Templar One) its no fun if you move like you are running in 2 feet of treacle!


Skill Gap
As a new player the matchmaking was awful. OK I've spawned and... BANG. Oh I'm dead. Anyway I'll respawn and now I'll... BANG. Oh dead again. Third times a.... BANG. Nope, dead again. May be on my next spawn I might be allowed to FIRE MY FECKIN GUN BEFORE DYING HORRIBLY! In most FPS games the weapons change as you progress but your skills don't. There can be massive differences in DUST between your tank and DPS and a veterans. This makes for unfair gameplay. Whilst this is true in other games, it isn't by the same huge gap as I found in DUST. A level 1 character running around with an M16 still has a very good chance as a level 50 character who has the AK47. In DUST the higher level character will destroy you!


Fitting
Fitting in DUST514 is to complicated for a game to appeal to the masses. Without broad appeal attracting vast numbers of subscribers, you are not going to make money. Micro transaction bring in micro money when there is a micro player base. How many people play Eve? 500,000? Wrong! The actual player base is a fraction of that. How many accounts do you have? I have 4. The guy sat in the office next to me has 3. I know people with accounts in the double figures. What about those IsBoxers who have their own incursion running fleets? The physical number of people who play Eve are a small minority of gamers. What works for Eve is not going to work for a free-to-play FPS that needs to attract huge player numbers to make money from the micro-transactions. Most FPS work on the following:-
  • Primary weapon
  • Side-arm
  • A thing that explodes (grenade, mine, satchle charge)
  • A thing that does something to help (smoke grenade, CCTV camera, radar box)
  • A perk
  • Another perk
  • A third one if you are lucky
That is seven choices. Why doesn't Titanfall or Call of Duty give you 12 slots with endless options to put ion them like DUST? Because it gets too complicated and the majority of FPS players don't want this level of customisation. 


There is no PG, no CPU in most other FPS games. Eve players love this. I am sure many DUST players (those that stuck with it) love it. But if you want the masses playing Project Legion we are going to need to tone down the complexity.

Am I saying DUST needs to be dumbed down? Absolutely. Either that or find another payment model. Micro-transactions won't work when you cater to a niche market.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Harmless, Aiming for Elite.

Does anyone solo any more? I took a few roams around over the weekend and either encountered lots of small gangs of three, or people who just ran. I didn't get one fight, closest was a Daredevil who ran from my Rifter -.-


I wrote the next bit a couple of weeks ago and its been saved as a draft since then. Yesterdays roaming was a very similar story.

-o0o-

First session was so quiet it was almost pointless. I flew around system after system not finding any fights at all. Either people ran, or had a Griffin with them. I spent 30 minutes muttering curses to myself and logged hoping it would be busier later.

Later on I took a Thrasher out and after finding the surrounding systems very quiet again, I took a run up to the home of Stay Frosty. Due to my crap TZ there were only a few SF about and all docked up with none in space. There were three Caldari Militia there but they were all together in one plex. I headed back down the pipe. Every solo destroyer I came across ran off. Frigates, yeah they should run so cannot complain there. The rest were small groups or dudes with a Griffin. Why are Griffins so popular currently? In the end I went back to Kedama and sat in a plex waiting for someone to come at me. A Jaguar came at me and I was all excited until it appeared on grid and it was an Alliance member. Next up was a Hookbill. I loaded EMP and got ready. He entered the plex and as he got point his mate in an Imperial Navy Slicer suddenly arrived. Their combined DPS was just enough to kill me before I was able to kill the Hookbill. He was in about 20% structure as I popped. So close!


Anyway I podded back home, reshipped and headed south. In Pyne I warped to a plex just as a pirate Tristan landed. I engaged in my Kestrel... and five seconds later his two mates arrived. The Tristan was in low structure as I popped. So close again!

At that point I rage-logged as I was getting frustrated and knew I'd probably end up Leeroying more ships just trying to get one kill.

Can be so fustrating when you are soloing and you keep getting outnumbered.

-o0o-

Can anything be done about this? I doubt it. Eve needs to be an open sandbox. Whilst frustrating for the solo roamer, to put any sort of mechanics or restrictions to help them 1v1 would be out of character with the game. I may hate it when I tackle the bait, but that is a legitimate tactic and whilst I may die too often, it should be allowed.


So how can we encourage 1v1 and less pointless blobbing? Titles!

BattleClinic awards points for your kills. However the points awarded are adjusted depending on how many people are with you and the ship types. Kill a cruiser when its you and 4 mates in battlecruisers, you'll get single digits. Kill a dreadnought, solo and in an interceptor, you'll get close to 700. What if we had that scoring system in game. Remember Elite? Even if you don't remember the original (Oh I loved my rubber-keyed Spectrum 48k with tape player) you may have seen Elite: Dangerous which is currently in development. What if pilots had 'titles' or ranks based on a scoring system. These are the titles you get in Elite based on number of kills....
  • Harmless
  • Mostly Harmless
  • Poor
  • Average
  • Above Average
  • Competent
  • Dangerous
  • Deadly
  • Elite
Eve could have a similar system with titles based on a BC type scoring system. The scoring could also be based on average score per month age of character. That way vets don't benefit to the detriment of newer players. Want that prestigious 'Elite' ranking? Well you are going to need to solo or small gang a lot more. Blobbing ain't going to cut it!

Of course this helps with the stagnation too. A new challenge for players (and something more useful that that Isis Mastery Level). Just look at Titanfall and all the players generation levelling.

Then again on the other-side, will visible rankings deter people. Will those with high ranks find that people will not fight them? As with everything in Eve, every idea comes with drawbacks.


Just an idea that would need a lot more work.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

SCASSSS - All By Myself....

When I moved to the Middle East from 'Green and Pleasant England' I knew it would affect my Eve play style. GMT +4 means Europe is still getting home from work and eating, America is at work, the Aussies are in bed and the Russian farmers are farming.


Staying up late at the weekend I was able to get into a proper 30-man fleet and it was so much fun! Reminds me of the days when I used to partake in decent fleet fights rather than the solo and very small gang I do these days.


All By Myself....

When I was young
I never needed anyone
And ganking squids was just for fun
Those roams are gone
Roamin' alone
I think of all the corpies I've known
When I start the TS 'phone'
Nobody's home

All by myself
Don't wanna fly
All by myself
Anymore

Hard to be solo
With no FC's order to follow
And targets so distant and obscure
Cockbag Thrasher the cure

All by myself
Don't wanna fly
All by myself
Anymore
All by myself
Don't wanna fly
All by myself
Anymore


Sorry, I apologise to any proper lyricist suffering reading the above :o)

Friday, July 4, 2014

The Games - Part 3

Fiction Friday! Escape pod here. Trying to find some new blogs to read so expect some new sites popping up in the escape pod.

I was going to this as the last piece of the series, but when I finished it I wasn't happy. So I rewrote the last section and left it open for a conclusion next week.


The Games - Part 3

Samar retrieved the pistol from the corpse of the huge man. As expected, its magazine was empty. Inside the room they found the body of the Miser. He was slumped against the bulkhead. The huge man had smashed his head open against the wall. Blood and brain matter dripped down the rusted wall onto the corpse.

"So you are not the murder then?" stated Zhilan.

"Who knows. That man-mountain out there seemed to think he was, but was he right? He might have killed in the past, but someone else might have a grudge and put him in here for some other reason."

Samar checked the Miser's corpse he felt something in the pocket and raised an eyebrow in surprise. He retrieved the item and shoved it into his own pocket.

"Come on lets go!" he said.

They next two decks were empty. On the fourth they found another bonus room. Samar read the datapad.

This is a two-person bonus room. If you are alone you cannot complete this room, move along. If you have made a friend then you two may attempt this room. You and your ally will be at great risk, but the reward is perhaps the greatest... The location of the escape pod.

Samar let Zhilan read the datapad.

"OK. No more bullshit. No pause to work up a story. You either tell me which you on that list are or we go our separate ways. I need to know."

Zhilan looked at him, a tear in her eye.

"I'm the whore OK!" she whispered.

"Explain" he replied quickly.

"Simple as that. I am a pro. I accept money to sleep with people. I could argue that I'm a high-class and expensive courtesan or escort, but in the end thats just semantics. The reality is I do the same as a 20-credit-street-walker, you give me money, I'll go to bed with you. I had been booked to see a couple at a five-star hotel. I arrived at their suite, they gave me a glass of champagne and next thing, lights out! Then I woke up in the room next to you. Look at me! You think I dress like this to meet a couple of friends?"

Samar looked her up an down. He had never seen a 500 credit an hour courtesan but the way she was dressed he could believe it.

"Doesn't explain why you are here does it?"

"I don't know why, same as you don't know. I guess one of my Clients had a grudge? Perhaps a partner of a Client could have found out? Blamed me more than them? I don't know."

Samar reached into his pocket and looked at the datapad that he'd found when he first woken up. There was 20 minutes until the tower self-destructed.

"Look, we are running out of time. These bonus rooms are bad, but if we don't find that pod in the next 20 minutes we are both dead."

Zhilan nodded and approached the door.

-o0o-

Curses were muttered by a couple as the big screen showed a man's mid-rift opened up and his intestines flood out of the gaping wound. The man who had previously strangled the Abandoner stepped back as his victim slumped to the floor trying to hold his intestines inside his ripped stomach. The killer bent down and tugged on the entrails enlisting a shriek from the dying man. A childish giggle sounded as he did it again followed by a scream of agony as he kept torturing the slowly dying man.

"For fracks sake! So much for our master thief!" an elegantly dressed man exclaimed. Others chuckled around the room at his outburst.

"It was a surprise sir" Xarna said "We did expect someone with his skills to do better."

The man just grumbled under his breath.

"So there are five left including that one you haven't shown yet? Can I buy back in?"

"Odds are obviously not as good now on the last remaining contestants, and the one you mentioned is for a very special bet which is just about to begin. Would you like to see the odds we are offering on this special mini-game?"

-o0o-

Samar slid the bolt on the door back and slowly entered the room with the gun drawn.

The usual pedestal at the end had a heavy metal cage over it. On one side of the room was a large black cylinder just over a metre wide and 3 metres tall. On the opposite side to the cylinder was an illuminated disk on the floor. Samar carefully moved over to the frame covering the pedestal. He tried to move it but it was too heavy. The bars were too closely spaced to get a hand in to reach the box.

"Do you think this has something to do with it?" Zhilan asked standing on the illuminated disk.

Samar cried out to stop her but it was too late, Zhilan stood on the disk and a perspex tube shot up from the floor trapping her inside it. Samar rushed over and hammered on the glass. A terrified Zhilan looked back at him, her palms pressing against the clear plastic. Movement caught his eye in the reflection cast on the cylinder, the black cylinder behind him started to clear. Another terrified woman looked back at him, also trapped inside the tube. Finally the grate around the pedestal raised. Samar waited a few seconds but nothing appeared to be happening. He walked to the pedestal and opened the box. Inside was a datapad and some sort of remote control with two buttons. He took the datapad and looked at the screen. It was receiving files and updating something. The screen flashed signifying it had received whatever it had been downloading. Two large circles appeared numbered one and two, he assumed they were buttons. He pressed the first. Zhilan's face filled the screen, it was a brief biography. She had told the truth, she was a high-class escort who charged 500 credits an hour for her company. A paragraph at the bottom explained that a jealous partner who blamed her for the breakdown of her marriage was responsible for her being here. "My husband turned from a loving man into some sort of perverted fiend. He left me saying I was too boring in bed. I know why he thought that, it was because of that whore corrupting him. She deserves to suffer for turning my husband against me!".

He went back and selected number 2. The photograph of the woman in the other tube flashed up. She was a business woman, and owned a successful marketing company. The paragraph at the end stated she'd taken control of the company by sleeping with the previous owner and then double-crossing him. She had ruined the man and his family and in the end he'd killed himself. His wife and three young children were now homeless. Text from an email had been included. Samar quickly read it. It appeared to be a from a relative of the family begging the woman to help the dead man's wife and children, after all, she stole the company from them which led to the man's suicide. She had just insulted him. The final line made him pause.

"This woman knows the location of the escape pod. The tubes are sound-proof. The only way to to find out is to release her."

Samar went back again and hit the continue button at the bottom which had appeared after he'd read the second bio.

"The remote control is now active. Press button 1 to open tube 1 and release acid into tube 2. Press button 2 to open tube 2 and release acid into tube 1."

Samar re-read the instructions in disbelief before he screamed in rage. He read the instructions a third time. The bastards had given him a choice. Save the woman he was with and lose the location of the escape shuttle or kill the woman he'd aligned with and free a nasty piece of work to save his own skin. Samar closed his eyes tight and gripped the remote. He felt the button depress and click as he squeezed it.

-o0o-

In the cocktail lounge the tension was high. As Samar was reading so were the guests, the large screen had explained everything and the choice he had to make. They had opportunity to bet on which he would chose. Most of the guests had placed bets between 100,000 and a cool million. It was a simple 2 to 1 gamble. The big screen divided into two. It focused on the women's feet.


"Hey which is which? We cannot tell!" one man called out.

"That is part of the fun!" Xarna replied. "You'll not know for a minute. Builds the tension."

At almost the same time one tube started to lift very slightly, just a few millimetres a second. In the other a clear liquid slowly rose, again agonisingly slowly. Feint smoke rose from the heels of the expensive stiletto's. It appeared that the victim had not yet noticed. The heel started to dissolve and suddenly the feet moved.

"She knows now!" whispered another woman in the crowd excitedly.

The rising tube was only moving millimetres whilst in the other the woman had started to 'dance' in the tube, trying in vain to keep her feet out of the rising liquid. Rather than saving her all this did was splash the acid onto her legs. Holes began to appear in the black silk covering her legs first revealing a flash of white flesh before it turned an angry red as the acid ate into the skin. Howls of terror and pain drifted through the speakers as the room went quiet. There was still no way to tell which screen was which contestant, nobody had taken notice to what either woman has wearing in that detail.

The acid was now up to the woman's calves and had turned a light red, both the flood of acid and the raising of the other tube slowly accelerated. Within moments the acid was up to the victims knees. Her tights or stockings she word had dissolved into ragged shorts. The screaming continued.

"The tube is too narrow for the contestant to bend down or collapse. They must wait." Xarna commentated.

The acid was now at waist height as the camera slowly panned up. The screaming was growing hoarse. On the first screen the tube had reached the waist of the other woman and she was able to duck down. Zhilan's face filled the screen as Samar help her up as she clambered out of the trap. There was a selection of cheers and curses in the cocktail lounge as the assembled guests realised whether they had made the right bet or not.

-o0o-

"You OK?" Samar asked. There was no reply as Zhilan stared across the room.

"Are you OK?" he asked again more strongly grabbing her by the shoulders.

Zhilan broke her stare from the woman thrashing in the tube, the acid now up to her neck. When her thrashing made her body press against the front of the tube her horrifically burnt body was clear, her clothing already disintegrated.

"What happened?" she asked "What did you do?"

"I made a decision. I think the right one. Or would you like to be doing that?"

The woman now was struggling to keep her face above the rising acid. Zhilan shook her head and ran from the room. Samar glanced back before he left the room at the cylinder of now red liquid. It was eerily still.

As soon as he was out of the room he grabbed Zhilan 's hand and ran down the corridor.

"Where are we going?" Zhilan shouted.

"We got less than 10 minutes until this structure blows. We need to assume the pod is somewhere in the centre and that those starting from the bottom are heading there too. We've seen enough people to know there should be no more in the top half. Otherwise they'd be at too great an advantage so now we run!"

-o0o-

"Ladies and gentlemen." Xarna announced "We are coming to final part of tonight's entertainment. All new bets must be made in the next 30 seconds. We will then close the betting."

There was a flurry of activity as people pulled out datapads to make last minute bets. Only four portraits were left in colour, the other eight faded to a deep red.

The Whore, The Dealer, The Psychopath and the Traitor.

-o0o-

Samar practically dragged Zhilan down the stairs. As he reached the next landing he stopped.

"What? Why are we stopping?" she asked.

"Theres no barricade blocking us."

"So, that's good isn't it?"

"Sort of. It means they wanted people to be able to come up, this is the middle deck of the tower."

He turned to the door on the landing and threw it open. It was a hanger, and a small two-person escape pod sat on a rail system. The rails ran to what appeared to be a large external hatch. A skinny man stood by the pod.

"Its locked down." He announced to the new arrivals. "Won't open until 30 seconds before detonation it says. I guess our lords and masters wanted a grand finale! Nobody leaves early!" he shouted with a theatrical wave of his arms.

Samar noted he was covered in blood.

"So how do we do this?" he asked cautiously.

The skinny man laughed.

"I thought I'd kill you, take that hot woman and leave. Then I can spend time slowly slicing her skin off!"

"I assume then, you must be the psychopath?" Samar sneered.

The skinny man took a long exaggerated bow.

"And I'm the traitor" said another voice "So that makes you...?"

Samar glanced up at a catwalk. A man was sat there with his legs over the side leading against the lower rail. He had a distinct look of military about him, Samar knew he was dangerous. He pulled his gun and swung it from the psycho back to the traitor. The man on the catwalk casually rose to his feet and jumped down.

"Please. If you've got this far the chances are you've already fired the single bullet they give you. If not you can only take one of us two down. Who do you want to be left with, the man who sold secrets to the enemy that got an entire squad killed or a psychopath who will slice you up... and then eat you. To be honest, its a tough choice." the Traitor said casually.

"I'm betting the gun is as dry as that bitches snatch." the psychopath sneered advancing. He pulled a jagged piece of sharp metal from his belt. "First I'm going to stick this in your throat and watch you drown in your own blood. Then I'll strip that bitch and slice off her..."

The shot from the gun echo'd around the hanger. The psycho stopped in his tracks. A red stain spreading from the middle of his chest. Samar addressed The Traitor.

"You were right, I did use the bullet I got with the gun, but for some reason The Miser had one in his pocket. I think the Murderer had a gun too and the Miser removed the bullet."

The Traitor nodded in approval.

"So, what now?" Samar asked dropping the gun to the floor. An evacuation alarm sounded. The Traitor looked up at the amber flashing strobes.

"The one minute alarm. You and the woman should strap in." he said as he walked towards the hatch.

"You are giving up?" Samar asked in shock.

"I planted a data transmitter for the Caldari Navy. Sold out my Gallente brothers. I lost friends and comrades. It took their one of their families four months to track me down in exile. I assume it was a family, not really the Black Eagles style this is it? They'll do it again, and to be fair, I deserve it. Time to end it. Good luck, whoever you are."

Samar grabbed Zhilan's hand and ran to the escape pod. The twin perspex cockpits opened and they jumped in. The cockpits closed and the pod started to accelerate forward. They could see the Traitor stood by the hatch. Red warning lines started to flash as the doors slid open, revealing a forcefield over the entrance. As the doors fully opened the forcefield dropped and the contents of the hanger including the escape pod and the Traitor were jettisoned into space.

-o0o-

"But I paid for him to die!" screamed the woman.

"No. You paid for him to be a contestant in the Games. If you had wanted him dead you should have hired an assassin." Xarna explained.

"But he killed my brother. He sold him the drugs that killed him, he deserves to die!"

"I'm sorry but when you approached us we explained that two contestants would survive and it was a possibility that it would be the one you were paying to place here."

"I don't see why you let any of them go, they all deserved to die."

Xarna just stood as the woman stormed out the room. After the door swung shut she went back to the cocktail party.

The big screen was the only one still active. Everyone was gathered around waiting for the fireworks.

-o0o-

The escape pod swung around violently. Zhilan looked across at Samar who appeared to have taken manual control of the escape pod. She could see he'd also ripped open a panel on the console. Wires sparked from where they had been pulled out of the exposed circuit boards.

"What are you doing! You've turned back towards the tower! That things going to explode!"

"Yes it is." he replied "Great way to destroy any evidence. On that note, what do you think we are?"

Zhilan went quiet. She was so overjoyed about escaping that she hadn't thought they themselves were witnesses.

"So you don't think they'll let us live?" she whispered.

"Nope, I checked. The distress beacon on this escape pod has been modified. The Sisters of Eve aren't going to get shit from this thing. However we are lit like a neutron star up on another frequency. Easy to lock on and shoot down! I've almost disabled the beacon, just need to pull one more wire when the time is right."

"So you are going to fly us into an exploding tower?" she asked incredulously.

"Trust me." he replied, concentration was etched on his face "I'm an engineer."

-o0o-

The tower exploded in a spectacular fireball witnessed by the guests crowding around the large screen. 


A polite round of applause went up before they started to say their goodbyes and depart. Xarna moved to the back of the room and tapped an earpiece.

"Captain, you can shut down the camera drones when you are ready. We are done back here. Decloak, launch the combat drones, take out the escape pod and warp us to station."

"Madame, there is no need to launch drones. The escape pod was destroyed in the explosion."

Xarna paused a second.

"Sorry?"

"Yes. Our sensors show that after it launched it turned back, it looked like it was trying to redock. The self-destructing tower took the pod with it."

"Are you sure?"

"Absolutely. The transponder stopped broadcasting as the tower went up and we are reading zero energy signatures in the debris field."

"Strange. Anyway, lets get both sets of Clients back to station."

The Strategic Cruiser aligned and slipped into warp, leaving a burning debris field behind.


To be concluded......