Sunday, October 30, 2011

Back to PvP. Kill a Hawk, Lose a Hawk

After my enforced break from PvP to rat my security status up from -10 I'm back in Black Rise and gunning for the squids. My new security status of -4.7 means I'm no longer a pirate, and also that going GCC is likely to be a bad idea!

So my target pool is the reduced to pirates and squids rather than everybody!

It's early Saturday morning I undock a Thrasher and go for a roam. It's dead. Damn you local time (GMT +4). So I go and play on the XBox for a while.

Later I come back and check the intel channels. The squids are plexing! So I undock the Thrasher and go hunting.

I see in the plexing channel someone is running a plex in Pynekastoh so I head there and find a corp mate already trying to grab the squid, I land on the acceleration gate and sit there just in case back up arrives. Sure enough another squid enters system and lands on the gate. I get the Hawk scrammed before he can activate the gate and open up on him. I had a Corpy with me in a 'Ceptor so we quickly melted him (although I took some armour damage).

I headed back to Nisuwa to repair and whilst there I reshipped into my own Hawk.

More reports of plexing in Pyne. At this point I'd like to point out that personally I don't give a crap about plexing. It's a worthless mechanic currently. BUT, it does give opportunities for PvP.

I land on the acceleration gate to the plex. Apparently there is a squid in there as well as a corpy. I see there are other squids in system so sit on the acceleration gate again to catch reinforcements. A Merlin lands but appears to be stabbed o.0

Then a Caldari Navy Hookbill lands and I get point. He engages..... and local spikes.

I know I'm buggered so overheat trying to kill him. He's low armour when a Rapier lands and webs me. Hookbill gets out of scram and rocket range and I know now I'm really, really dead. I note I have an improved blue pill in the cargo hold. Not really any point popping it as it won't save my skin, but then again it might drop and I don't want to be handing over multi-million ISK loot to the squids. Plus it'll appear on the kill mail so make my loss look higher.

So I pop the pill. It's clearly a tarp with me as the bait. Plenty of squids in system but only got a Rapier and a few frigates (Faction, AF and plain) on me. They are hoping my buddies come to rescue me and then the rest can jump on them. I tell them in comms not to bother and I'm going to make them use as much ammo as I can whilst burning my cap charges and ammo to reduce the value of the KM.

The frigates keep coming in, plinking at me and then burning away before I do too much damage to them. I'm webbed to buggery so cannot chase and I've got a side-effect on my booster which has gimped the explosive velocity of my missiles. But my tank is holding. A bit of overheating hear and there is working wonders.

5 minutes later and we're still going at it. I've bled a bit of armour but still holding. Pretty happy with the tank on this Hawk. My mates on comms are going "What? You are still alive???". To be honest there had been time for them to go back to the home system, reship and come back and bail me out. But I had no idea I'd last this long.

Finally they decided it might be an idea to all attack me at once rather than the 5 minute Kung Fu style fighting we've been doing where one attacks after another. It ends there....

Might have lost, but it was a good laugh. Nearly 20,000 damage taken in a frigate hull lol

Friday, October 28, 2011

Stick a Fork in Me, I'm Done - A Guide to Ratting Sec Status

Finally I'm no longer a pirate!

Don't get me wrong, I had no compulsion to rat up. I wasn't suddenly confronted by the error of my ways or anything like that. Our CEO stated he wanted everyone "non-pirate" before November. Therefore I went ratting!

Why? Well there is this really nasty bug - When in militia (factional warfare), if you assist (logi, remote sebo etc) a pirate or GCC pilot you take a faction standings hit. Obviously this is stupid. The Gallente Federation looks down on people in the Gallente Militia who assist a fellow Gallente militia member?

Anyway, us being pirate was effecting our abilty to join militia fleets so we had to rat up. What a PITA. For anyone who has to go through this here is a "ratting up guide" of the lessons I've learnt in the last 10 days.

Security Status of the System Matters
Get Ombeve's 2D maps from which shows the true security status of a system. You want -0.3 or better ideally. The lower the security status, the fatter the rats and hence the greater the sec status boost for killing them. a 1.4m bounty rat will move you a lot faster than a 500k bounty rat.

Your Security Status Gets Booster by the Highest Value Rat Per System Per 15 Minutes
Unless you need ISK, there is no point hanging around in one system. Your security status gets boosted ONCE every 15 MINUTES and this is PER SYSTEM. Spend half an hour in one system ratting? You'll only get two security status increases in that time. The boost will be from the highest value rat in each 15 minute segment. It's much better to...

Find a Nice Loop of Systems and Chain the Belts
As you only get the one sec status increase per system per 15 minutes there is no point in hanging around. Find a BS rat, kill it and move on to a different system. I found a loop of 6 systems down in Syndicate (98Q area) and would just fly around in circles popping one BS rat per system and move to the next. Took 20 minutes roughly to do the loop so no problem with time. I'd get a sec status booster every 5 minutes by doing multiple systems. Also you should chain the belts so when you come back around, that juicy rat will be back. This excellent guide shows you how....

Train the Skill Fast Talk
Extra 5% sec status increase. Train to 4 and you cut your ratting time down by 20%.

Cloaky Might Sound Best, But DPS Rules
I started in a cloaky Tengu. I thought it would be a good idea. Anyone chasing me, and I could just cloak up. Yes, in that way it's fantastic, but the DPS is so crap killing a BS rat takes too long. I swapped to a 425mm AC gank Hurricane with Barrage. It means bouncing and being careful when someone is trying to kill you, but those BS rats melt!

Spam Scan
People think 0.0 is full of leet PvP'rs who will hunt down and kill anyone they see. Yes, there are plenty like that, but 0.0 is also full of carebears. Just because there are people in system doesn't mean you shouldn't rat. Warp to a planet which has lots of belts and scan. Nobody about? Get to the belts and find that BS! Combat scanners in space? GTFO! Just remember to keep hitting scan, you know that guys that WAS docked when you first scanned the system...

Pop the Wrecks
PvP'rs looking to hunt down ratters will see wrecks and know what you are up to. Pop the wreck after killing the BS rat and you'll help cover your trail.

Time is of the Essence
If you can, rat at quiet times. In the Middle East we get Fridays off, plus we're GMT +4. Some of my best ratting was done on a Friday morning whilst the EU worked and US slept!

Why Risk It?
I ratted up from -10 without losing a single ship. How? I didn't take major risks. Some times there were so many PvP'rs about I'd dock up and do something else for 15 minutes, undock, scan, find a BS rat, pop it and redock and go do something else for 15 minutes.

Go for the Fat Rat
The amount of security status you get depends on the value of the rat. If you warp to the first belt and there is a 500k rat there, pop it. However, it might be worth your while checking the other belts in case a 1.4m is sat there.

Don't Ignore the Gate Rats
Many people won't engage rats on the gate as you could get jumped on. Yes, if a fleet comes in your buggered. But I did by orbiting the gate at 500m and firing on the rat. If someone jumped into me they could either agress me and I'd jump (no agro timer when shooting rats) or they could sit there, when I'd warp off to a safe.

Basically the above is what I learnt whilst ratting up from -10 for 10 days. Now, finally, I can go kill some Caldari militia! However, I'm not going to be going pie on anyone anytime soon!!!!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Eve Online - The Largest Smallest Universe in the, erm, Universe?

I'm afraid I'm still not doing anything vaguely interesting in New Eden to blog about. Ratting is bloody boring! My security status is now -6.7 ish, but my evenings of Eve are filled with shooting BS rats and avoiding PvP with a PvE boat in 0.0. Boring! I'm on day 9 of "Operation Rat Up from -10" and it feels like day 29! Hopefully I'll be back to PvP write ups next week when I get my sec status back to non-pirate!

Anyway I hope I do have a couple of interesting things for you to read. Firstly, picking up a Tweet I sent (@Drackarn) yesterday about ugly ships, Rhavas (@Eve_Rhavas) has launched an ugly ships contest. You can find his blog Interstellar Privateer here whilst below I tell an interesting (hopefully) tale of how the massive universe of Eve Online is not always that massive.....


A couple of years ago, I finally persuaded a mate of mine, who was also a work colleague, to start playing Eve Online. To be fair it wasn't just me, he had another mate who was also trying to get him into the game too. In the end he did give it a try and he enjoyed it so subbed up. Given the choice between carebear and PvP he, probably very rightly, chose carebear and went off "wormholing" with his other mate to start his Eve life.

In real life, we both lived in the same town and worked together in a City about 50 miles away (I'd got him the job at my work) so we commuted together. On a Monday and a Friday we'd take the train (Monday didn't fancy the drive and Fridays was pub lunch) and the other days I picked him up in my company car and drove us both. The usual topic of conversation was Eve with his stories of Wormholes and mine of Faction War. In fact we did mostly talk Eve on the commute, which can be a bad thing. I remember one time being in a packed "standing room only" train carriage when my (in-game) CEO called me on the mobile for a chat. I was stood in the crowed carriage isle telling him how we'd hunted down and killed a member of the Caldari the previous night. It was only towards the end of the conversation I realised the previously noisy carriage had gone quiet and everyone was looking at me. Yes, I can see how there may be confusion/worry about the businessman in the suit with the briefcase on the phone talking about hunting someone down and killing them the night before. But I digress.

Over the next year my mate left wormholing with his corp mates and they joined the Reverent Defence Corp, part of the IRed alliance in CVA space. We always had Eve related stuff to talk about on the 90 minute journey to work, then during work at our adjacent desks in the office, and on the 90 minute journey back home.... oh I forgot lunchtime in the pub! Yes we are both Eve geeks!

Fast forward a bit more and CVA is dead, Prov is burning and IRed have moved on to the Intaki area.

One of the corporations SoTF was allied to, and fellow Gallente militia members, were getting into some roleplay arguments on the forums with IRed. It was something about Intaki and the Caldari vs Gallente and the Malkanen incident. I didn't really know what it was about, and as it was roleplay on the forums I didn't really care. Now, remember, that me and my mate had nothing to do with this. It was completely unconnected to us and as far as the roleplayers knew there was no connection between him and me.

Things deteriorated between our allies and IRed on the forums, and war was declared. We were asked to back our allies up. Suddenly me and my mate were at war! Not just my mate, they guy I sit next to at the office!

Let's look at the numbers......
300,000 Subscriptions.
Over 5,000 star systems.
Players from 170-something different countries.

.....and I'm at war with my mate I work on the next desk to!

Suddenly the conversations on the commute were a bit more sparse. It wasn't that we had anything against each other, we were just guarded about what we were saying in case we let some intel slip. The week before I'd tell him of the fleet we'd have planned for that night and what we were going to do with it. Probably not a good idea any more! It's not that we wanted to wtfpwn each other, but could you not act on a bit of juicy intel that was let slip?

My corp mates were very "supportive" in suggesting I purposely crash the car on the way to work to take one of the war targets out of the equation! I THINK they were joking.

We did meet on the battlefield. We popped his Drake and caught his pod but I was able to persuade my corpies not to pod him as he was a real life mate. Was close though, someone did fire on the pod, but he was released with a slightly dinted pod. The war decs didn't last long and the fighting was mainly way from our home base of Nisuwa down Intaki way so we only had a few roams down there. But it was weird to see my rl mate with a red star by his name.

After the war, SoTF and IRed became friendly and we even went to their aid when they had a little problem that needed our special brand of MURDERING IN THE FACE WITH EXTREME PREJUDICE!!!!!!!

However, for that week or two that we were at war, I had a very strange commute to work!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Zakree Part 3 - The Salvager

Bit stuck on what to blog atm. As I'm ratting up from -10 my current "adventures" in New Eden are as interesting as a train spotters day out to the train museum! Suppose I can try some uber-geeky fan fiction. This is the final piece to this and it's follow up here. Basically it is a three part piece of why a capsuleer crew member wants out, his gamble paying off and getting out and finally setting himself up as a non-capsuleer salvager.

First up, a very quick salvaging guide for Eve Online.
Salvage is basically useful leftover parts from the wreck of a destroyed spaceship. It should not be confused with loot. Loot is ammo, modules and items that were in the cargo hold etc that survived the explosion and can be removed from the wreck by clicking and dragging. Salvage cannot be seen until sucessfully salvaged. It is hidden within the structure of the wreck and requires a specialist module to find and extract. That high-slot module is ingeniously called a "salvager"! It is basically a scanner, precision laser cutter and mini tractor beam all in one. When a wreck is in range it can search through and extract anything useful. This can range from a "Melted Capacitor Console" to "Intact Armour Plates" depending on the ship type that you're salvaging, it's faction (for example Amarr and their pirates factions tend to give more capacitor related salvage etc) and it's tech level. You never know what you'll actually get until you recieve the message that the salvage was sucessful and you look in your cargo hold. Also note that skills are important, you won't be able to salvage a shiny T2 wreck with minimal skills.
Salvage can then be used to make rigs that are sold on the market and fitted to ships. Rigs are created by players game from salvaged components. To create rigs you need a blueprint (copy or original) and the right materials. For rigs the materials are salvage. As an example, to build a capacitor control circuit rig you'll need a number of "Tripped Power Circuits", "Burned Logic Circuits" and some "Melted Capacitor Consoles". The number of each required will depend on the size of the rig (Small/Medium/Large for frigate/cruiser/battleship respectively). If you are not into building rigs then you can sell the salvage on the market to be bought by people who do. Some items like armour plates and alloy bars sell fairly well!

Some people fit a salvager to a spare utility high-slot of their ship so they can salvage on the fly. Others have dedicated salvaging ships. The Noctis, an ORE industrial ship, is ideally suited for salvaging with its bonus' to tractor beams (so you can bring the wrecks to you) and to salvage modules (they cycle faster on a Noctis so you salvage quicker). It also has a large cargo bay for all that lovely salvage and loot. 4 tractor beams and 4 salvagers soon clear even the most untidy battlefield! A destroyer can also make a cheap, easy to fly salvage boat. However the limited cargo bay makes looting modules more difficult.
If you are dual boxing missions a Noctis can make a useful 2nd ship and not just for salvaging. Drop one of the salvagers or tractor beams and fit a large shield/armour repper on instead. If your primary ship has a good buffer tank then you can have that dealing death whilst the Noctis keeps it's shields/armour topped up and salvages and loots as you go. Just remember to get agro on the main ship BEFORE you warp the Noctis in though!
CCP has made it clear that salvage does not belong to anyone. That wreck you just "created", the loot inside is all yours. If anyone takes it, you can shoot them in the face (however this is not always a good idea). However the salvage in that wreck is not yours even if you believe in your heart it's yours and that little bastard in a salvaging-frigate is "stealing" it from you.

Of course if you hang about in any popular missioning system you'll see in local people screaming at "ninja salvagers". There will be tears, there will be threats. I'm sure in many cases people have been CONCORD'd for firing on the "thieving" salvagers. However, it really doesn't belong to you and its first come, first served!
So following his close call in the Hurricane here and his desperate attempt to get out of capsuleer crewing here, Zak is now his own boss. The captain of a salvage frigate......
Zakree held his frigate back away from the asteroid field. To his port side was a Cormorant class destroyer, a recently made friend whom with which he had formed an alliance of opportunity. Salvaging in asteroid belts always carried an inherent risk. Pirates frequented the belts, which is what attracted the capsuleers to create the wrecks in the first place. A frigate and a destroyer together may make the pirates think twice, as opposed to if they were on their own.
Zakree eyed the larger destroyer with a bit of envy, but he knew he couldn't afford a destroyer. He only had this frigate because he won it in a card game. He thought back to that night. On the table were his life savings and the other player had demanded a night with Zakree's girlfriend as well. Zak had refused initially but his girlfriend, Samara, made him agreed. She was so desperate for him to get out of capsuleer crewing that she'd offered herself for the night as part of the bet. "What a night" Zakree thought as he remembered the winning hand, the other player losing it and going for him with a broken bottle. This led to the other player spending a night in the cells as he spent a night with the woman he loved, plus unexpectedly, the other players girlfriend! Samara had not been best pleased that Zakrees opponent, his ex-XO, had included her in the bet. So after Zak won and the XO was cooling off in the cells she had persuaded the XO's girlfriend to join them and share the celebrations. Those celebrations went on until late and continued between the three of them back in their quarters! The next day when Zak had been clearing his bunk on the battlecruiser and the XO had seen him and made some derogatory comments. He was clearly a bad loser. Zak had already assumed this and was prepared. Rather than retorting he simply handed the XO a gift-wrapped box, smiled and walked away from that death-trap ship forever. He chuckled to himself remembering the crash he heard a few seconds later. Obviously the XO hadn't appreciated the special holo-picture Zak had framed of himself, Samara and the XO's girlfriend, in bed, but not getting any sleep!
"Won't be long now" Dantan, the captain of the destroyer voiced over comms interrupting Zak's thoughts. Zak swung his legs off the captains console and sat upright in the seat. The two crew members manning the small bridge of the frigate took their seats as well. Zak signaled down to engineering that they'd be starting salvaging operations shortly. The small crew of five were ready to go to work.
Zak looked out the front port. The Tengu class strategic cruiser was still spitting missiles at a pirate cruiser. He could also just make out one additional pirate frigate left. 
There were already two frigate wrecks and a cruiser wreck waiting to be salvaged. Of course the capsuleer might do that himself but it was unlikely. He was probably only here for the bounty on those pirates and perhaps to curry some favour with CONCORD.
The two remaining pirate ships exploded in flames. The Tengu aligned out and warped off. A system wide message appeared on screen. "Help yourself boys".

"YES!" Dantan yelled over comms "We get the loot!"
"Not worth the risk" replied Zak as he manoeuvred his Merlin towards the smoldering wrecks.
"He said we could take and I'm taking"
Zak shook his head. He activated the tractor beam and brought two wrecks into range. The salvager went to work. Scanning through the wreckage and using precision lasers to cut out and retrieve anything worthwhile that had survived the explosion. He looked over to the destroyer. The destroyer was also salvaging but Zak noted he was also removing cargo and modules that had not been destroyed in the explosions. Whilst this was not illegal technically, and CONCORD would not intervene, it would flag him as a thief to the capsuleer. The fact the same capsuleer had invited them to take in the first place meant nothing. As far as the law was concerned if you took cargo or modules from a wreck that didn't belong to you, the owner could retaliate however he wanted.
"You're a fool Zak! I'm going to make 10x more than you"
Suddenly the overview blipped. The Tengu was back. He must have just warped to the nearby planet and then back again.
"I'm afriad we'll soon find out who's the fool here" Zak said solemly.
"HE'S LOCKING ME! HELP ME!" screamed Dantan
Zak knew there was nothing he could do. His light armaments might fend off a small pirate frigate. But against a Tengu class strategic cruiser he might as well throw pebbles.
Zak did nothing, he could do nothing. He could see from his console that the Tengu had caught the destroyer. A warp disruption beam had put the doomed vessels warp drive offline. Suddenly Zak didn't feel so envious. The slow Destroyer couldn't outrun the Tengu in time using standard engines. And the size of the vessel meant the heavy missiles launched from the Tengu  would do maximum damage. His small frigate at least may had had a chance of outrunning the Tengu and avoiding most of the damage from the large missiles designed for Cruisers and larger targets.
The destroyer exploded on the second volley. It was a very one-sided fight. The Tengu aligned out and slipped into warp. The capsuleer no doubt happy that he had another legal confirmed kill on his combat record.

"Good decision frigate" flashed up on the system wide local broadcast.
Zak simply went back to work. He now had another vessel to salvage, and this one, he could loot.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Ship Spinning, Ratting Up and CCP Job Cuts

A triple blog here looking at the return of ship spinning, my attempts to rat up from -10 and the news that CCP is cutting 20% of it's global workforce.
Yay! Ship spinning is back!

And as I thought, the forums, Facebook and Twitter have people moaning about it. There is never a more true saying than "You can please some of the people some of the time, but you cannot please all of the people all of the time".

Why am I happy ship spinning is back? Well it's not so I can spin my ship. Ship spinning has been taken as the generic term for the "old" hanger view. The one where your ship is floating in the hanger and you can interact with it easily.

When PvPing you want to be able to work fast in your hanger. You may have friends nearby who need your help and messing about in station is not be helping them.

I want to be able to dock, repair, rearm, dump loot and undock in the shortest time possible. Now that bloody door has gone it's so much easier. I can double click my ship to open cargo to drop off the loot and stick some more ammo in there. I can right click my ship and get a repair quote without having to go through the repair service menue that lists not only all of my ships (30+) but also the ones in the corp hanger. "Where is the ship I'm in now???" /scroll /scroll /scroll. If I want to swap ships I just drag and drop.

So the return of ship spinning has really speeded up the repair and rearm process. Just like pitstops in Formula 1 racing, an extra few seconds can make the difference between winning and losing.

+1 to CCP for listening to players and putting it right. I hope that in the future an "Undock to CQ" will be added. However I won't be using this until Incarna is fully deployed and we have establishments, player interaction and the other CQ's. You know.... a reason to use Incarna. However I'm happy to wait for all of this whilst CCP fix, debug, adjust and improve FiS.

But you know what the real issue is for me? The same day ship spinning comes back to make my PvP easier... is the same day I had to start ratting to get my security status back up so that Shadows of the Federation are 100% flashy free in November. Our Great and Glorious Leader - Gallactica, also known in corp as OGAGLG (or the one who wears PVC maids outfits), has decided that the faction standing bug is too much of a PITA. Therefore whilst we are still NBSI, we need to be above -5 in order to get reps in militia fleets. I was -10 when this announcement was made Monday night. Damn!

So rather than patrolling around Black Rise in a nice Hurricane, Thrasher, Falcon or other PvP ship, I'm floating around NPC null-sec killing BS rats and hiding from anyone who appears in system as I'm in a PvE boat.

My usual Eve time would be undock, roam the pipes, shoot squids with friends and have a laugh. Now I'm having to do this....

And finally onto the announcement that CCP are cutting 20% of their staff (crappy news!), putting WoD on a back burner (good news) and concentrating on Eve Online and Dust514 (most excellent news!).
I feel sorry for the people who are losing their jobs. But lets be fair, who hasn't had to deal with this, or at least the threat of it, over the last few years? I personally have, hence my relocation to the Middle East, my wife has too, ex-colleagues and friends back home have been out of a job for over a year and I've lost count of the number of corpies who have posted on the forums that their Eve time will be effected as they have lost their job. It's a crappy situation worldwide, but lets not forget - subscription numbers are down, therefore CCP's income is down, so they are doing what every other company in the world has been doing in this situation... cutting staff numbers.
There is some disquiet in the Eve-O community about the job cuts, especially that the cuts appear at this time to be hitting the community team hardest. CCP need to tread carefully here. There is logic in their decision. Should the cuts be applied to the artists? No way! The art department has been highlighted as a bottleneck that is holding back development of new content (see CSM minutes). How about the coders and bug hunters? The game designers? All important people. I'm not saying the community team are not important people, they are, but to a smaller audience than the others. I love the Eve community team and I am horrified to see some of them losing their jobs. But I am biased... I am an Eve blogger, Twitterer(?) and I am part of that fantastic OOG Eve community. Therefore these are important CCP people to me and people like me (people like you in fact as you are reading this blog and therefore part of that OOG community). But looking at the wider Eve player-base.... I wonder how many of these people in the community team are known to them. CCP needs to cut staff, but how they can do that? I don't know. I can see the under laying logic of hitting the community team, and I wish they hadn't. But I don't know what else they could have done.
Sad times just when the Eve outlook was so positive. Not an Eve related video, but a good song....

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Not a Pirates Life for Me... Anymore?

It's been a good few months since my sec status plummeted like a l@pd@ncers knickers during a private dance and I became a ebil -10 pirate going "G'aaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrr" a lot.
At the time I was uneasy about the change of corp direction. I'd always played the "good guys" in games like Eve Online. This blog entry from back in July explained that I didn't like playing the "bad guys". However I did go -10 along with the corp and I did enjoy it. The gate and station guns and the GCC mechanics brought a whole new angle to the game. I had an increased target base (i.e. everyone) compared to faction war and there were always a few pilots with "OMG-Its-a-Pirate-Kill-It-itise" who would engage (aka Leeroy) in a ship that stood no chance against me, just because I was a pirate.

However we are now back in militia. We've tried the pirate AND militia thing together and it's not working well. There is a very nasty bug where remote assistance (such as logistics) to a pirate or GCC when you are in a militia gives you a faction standings hit. Therefore if you are in a militia fleet and are below -4.9 security status or GCC you won't get any logi lovin'.
Therefore it's been decided (well, our great and glorious leader decided) that we need to rat back up to -4.9. Not only that, we've got less than two weeks to do it in. A deadline of November has been set to sort our security status out.
I'm -10 currently and it's already the 18th October! That's a lot of ratting!

So I suppose time to look into the best way of ratting your sec status back up. Apparently there are a few ways I'm told.
But which of these would be the best for me to rat my security status back up to something respectable?
Level 4 Missions
Obviously not in hi-sec ;) Level 4 combat missions are good as you are pretty much garenteed BS rats and with it being a mission people will need to scan you down with probes if they want to interupt your "fun, fun, fun" PvE. However, you'll only gain security status slowly doing one mission and then moving on to another.
Chaining Level 4 Missions
If you can get two level 4 missions in adjacent low-sec systems you can hop betweem them killing a single rat battleship in each. I've been told that security status gain is based on the highest value of rat killed in each 15 minutes OR session change. So if you spend an hour missioning or belt ratting in the same system you'll get 4 security status boosts. If your missions have 10 BS each and you kill one, warp to the gate, jump, warp to the other mission, kill a BS and repeat, then you'll get 20 security status boosts in about the same time period. Obviously this is more dangerous as your passing through a gate all the time. I guess this would also work with a single mission if you killed a rat, jumped into another system, jumped back and returned to the mission. However that wastes more time than being able to warp to another mission so not as effective.
Belt Ratting
The most common way. Bounce the belts, find a BS kill it then go to the next system. Rinse and repeat until you start to cry.
Chaining Belts in Adjacent Systems
This is based on the chained level 4 missions. I would assume if you chain the belts in two adjacent systems you can kill a BS rat, jump through to the next system, kill another and then return to the first system. Even more risky than chaining missions as you can be ganked at a belt. But easier to do I would imagine than get two missions in exactly adjacent systems.
I suppose after I post this blog I'd better try the above to see if they work.
-10 to -4.9 or better in 13 days. It's going to be a PITA whatever I do!
Hang on a second? What ship should I use........?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

It's Over 30,000!

This week Shadows of the Federation hit a new milestone. We have now passed a total of 30,000 kills!

We've got more kills than the population of the Republic of San Marino! What's the next target.... erm.... Iceland? Muhahahahaha!

Actually, I'm personally only 17 kills off 2,500 kills according to Eve-Kill. By far the vast majority of those have been in Shadows of the Federation.

The corps 30,000th head was taken by none other than our very own Chuck Norris, Loren Gallen. Some noblet decided to go GCC.... on his Imperial Navy Slicer...... with a Arbitrator.... at a gate.

Really? GCC in a cruiser on a gate?

Surprisingly the Arby went pop! Why can I never find people like that? Cannot even blame it on "Ohmygoditsapiratekillititise" as Loren is not a pirate.

To celebrate this acheivement, lets have some Loren art because I know he REALLY loves it when I do this. Plus any blog that I write that mentions Loren Gallen gets lots of hits. I can only assume the Caldari Militia carebears Google him a lot.

Eelis' old "Loren Google"

Nisuwa by yours truly

And Jared found this animated gif of Loren hunting the Caldari

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Futures Bright... I Hope!

I try to give a few days between my blog posts, but how can I stay quiet in the face of those two CCP blogs this week. It was like a Concussion Bomb in the face. Wow!

First off Hilmar's "Whoops, sorry! Cocked that up!" blog in the form of a letter.

TL;DR - Yup, we screwed up lately. Sorry, my fault, putting it right. Incarna (one Minmatar room does not make an expansion, forcing people to use it rather than being optional, removing ship spinning), the NeX store (pricing, choice and not squishing the P2W rumors right away) and neglecting development of the most important bit of Eve (FiS).

One line in that letter towards the end made me smile more than anything else, there may have even been a small "Woot!" - "Factional warfare needs to be fixed". HELL YES!

That was a very honest letter! Cannot have been easy to write.

Obviously the community and the CSM played a big role in getting to this point. We raised our voices and we were heard. The CSM came in for a lot of stick over the last few months, a lot of which I thought was unjustified. I'm sure they are all feeling rather smug now, especially old Mittens.

Then we got the blog about the winter expansion. No mention of Establishments, just a list of features that will cheer up the most bitter of vets suffering with terminal bitter-vet-syndrom. Lets take a look at the "high level" list of features that they hope to bring to us in the next few months....

Hybrid weapons balancing
Lets face it, Hybrid weapons are pretty useless currently. They are OK in certain limit situations, but generally they are fail. We have people fitting lasers and projectile weapons to Gallente and Caldari boats rather than hybrids which receive a ship bonus. This is a good thing and I may finally dust off the "Bloa" and my "Sneagle" that I've had gathering dust in Nisuwa for a couple of years.

Factional warfare

There has been so many threads, posts and Tweets on how to fix this. CCP have a wealth of suggestions. Top on my list:-

Make plexing mean something - If your militia control the system, the Control Bunker acts as a command ship to your militia giving all members a slight boost in that system. The boost shouldn't be massive, not as good as having a proper command ship in fleet, but should give something.
Give the navy rats bounties (only payable to members of the opposing militia). If CONCORD pay capsuleers to destroy pirates, surely the Gallente Militia would pay to have Caldari Navy ships destroyed?
Revise the LP award for PvP kills. Yes, we need to be careful that the reward doesn't lead to people popping alts 23.5/7 to farm LP's, but lets reward PvP in Factional WARFARE and not mission farming in cloaky boats. An alternative to LP's could be ISK. Militia members killing an opposing militia member gets a bounty equal to bronze insurance on the ship they killed. FW is an ISK sink, lets even it out a little bit.
Bring back capital warfare to FW (see Cap Ship Balancing below).
But above all - fix the factional standings hit when assisting a GCC/pirate when in FW. I am a -10.0 pirate AND a member of the Gallente Militia, miltia buddies should not lose faction standings when repping me. Also don't forget the same hit when bubbling in 0.0. Us FW boyz sometimes visit the Wild West don't you know!

Assault ships
Om nom nom nom nom! An extra bonus has been talked about on AS for a while. I'm training Assualt Ships V right now for some extra fun in my Hawk!

Capital ship balancing
Bring back capital warfare to low-sec. For a start, ban fighter-bombers in low-sec the same as it currently is for bombs and a Titans DD. Currently cap warfare in lowsec is station hugging or a small number of bait caps, a batphone and 30 Nyx from a big alliance that is bored sat awaiting a cyno. Small scale cap warfare has been destroyed by super carriers, lets at least rebalance this in low-sec.

Dreadnaughts, not bad for attacking PoS's. They die in a fire to SC's. How about giving them some defence against SC's. Point defense lasers that take out compact citadel torpedo's fired from fighter-bombers or some such. Other caps should be scared of dreadnaughts as their job is laying huge amounts of DPS on things that are big and move slowly! Either that or nerf the construction costs. Dreadnaughts are too expensive given their current use in the game.

New T2 modules
Ooooo what could these be. Drone mods? Cannot think of many mods that don't have T2 variants already. Tractor beams and drone mods are obvious choices. T2 Drone Link Augmenter with a 55km bonus to drone range? Now if only we had some new eWar drones to go with that!

Another thought.... T2 capital mods to follow up from the Incursion LP named capital mods?

Starbase logistics management
Personally I'm not into PoS's so I've not got much to say here. I'm sure there are carebears/people in charge of PoS' rejoicing somewhere.

New EWAR-Drones
This sounds fun! No hints from CCP so the community is guessing. Web and scramming drones? Web drones, yes good idea and make them fast. Dramiels are overpowered (and were to be nerfed right?). Lets have some high-speed webbing drones to slow them down. Scramming drones? These would need to be carefully thought about. If they had a point each then it would be silly. People would drop their own point and free up a mid-slot and a few pilots could have 20 points on a ship in seconds. May be give them a 0.33 warp disruption strength each. I'm not sure how the mechanics work and if this is an option. 4 drones would point a normal ship so if you want to stop the point you need to kill 2 drones out of a normal flight of 5. The other way is to give them a point strength of 1 each and then make it chance based like ECM drones. 20% chance to scramming so once in a while a full flight of 5 drones would drop point for at least one cycle given those odds.

T2 Rigs manufacturing
I'm not an industrialist, but if it makes them cheaper, ideal!

Ship spinning
Yes! This is needed so much. I want to log in and see the ship I'm in and be able to drag/drop ships, right click them for repairing, double click them to open cargo. When Incarna is fully established I will get out of my ship occasionally for a mooch around. However, don't force me to use Incarna, give me a reason to use it.

New font
Personally I didn't have a problem with the old one. But many people obviously did so good job.

More captains quarters
I like the Gallente one, but to be honest once you've had a walk around one, meh. I accept Eve needs Incarna. I know a major issue for many people who don't play Eve is that there wasn't an Avatar (I think this was found in some market research undertaken by CCP... I think). The future vision video that Himlar linked in his blog is what I want to see too. 

Walking in stations, DUST and flying in space all seamlessly interacting. A proper fully immersive sci-fi sim. I might be a PvP orientated faction war/pirate but I WANT INCARNA. Not what we've got now, but the full works. I might rarely us it, but when in the mood (or need more boosters) I will use it.

Time dilation
This looks fairly cool. Our time in 0.0 gave us a taste of 1000 ship fights and the lag that causes. However it's not really an issue for me now as in FW we rarely get fights involving hundreds of players. Then again when CCP fix FW and people like Eelis Kiy who split on us come back to the game after realising Eve is "fixed" and Warhammer Online is for spotty 15 year-olds.....

Time Dilation TL;DR - For those of you who haven't seen the blog and video, time dilation simply physically slows down time in the cluster if it becomes overloaded. A small icon shows how much time is dilated. So if there are 1000 Drakes flinging missiles and drones at each other, time for that cluster will slow down to keep the battle moving and fair. As ships and drones die, and server load decreases, time speeds back up until the server is no longer overloaded and time returns to normal. Say for example your guns cycle every 10 seconds. With time dilated they may be taking 15 seconds to cycle i the heat of battle (the amount of dilation depends on load), but the main thing is that they WILL cycle. And it's not just your guns and mods running slower, it's everyones!

So in Summary...
Yes, these are only words, and plenty of people are mistrusting of CCP now. However, I'm taking the optimistic view....

There plenty of things to look forward to. I'm sure Incarna establishments are there in the background but, quite rightly, CCP are shouting about the FiS bits we all care about. I cannot wait for the next expansion compared with a week ago which was a feeling of "meh" over it. And looking at the discussions on the forums and Twitter, so is everyone else (mostly)!

Now CCP, back up those words with actions and you'll have a rather happy community!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Blog Banter 29: Immersion

"EVE Online is renowned for it's depth. Its back story, gameplay and social aspects are all qualities that draw players in. What does immersion in EVE Online mean to you?"

Eve is by far the most immersive game I have ever known. And I had an Atari 2600 before the Spectrum and starting PC's with an 80286!

I love the Eve story! I have read the back story, the Chronicles and even the scientific papers (do you know how a stargate or FTL communications work? Do you know the real name of the system Old Man Star and how it got it's name?). But I'm not a roleplayer! I'm just a sci-fi geek!

In all sci-fi and computer games there has to be some "willing suspension of disbelief". Nearly every game on every platform has some aspects you need to say "well I'll ignore that glaring issue as it is a game and not real". In Call of Duty - can you retreat? No you cannot, you're stuck in a map and every way out is blocked by something that you cannot simply climb over, even though in real life you could easily shimmy over the top of the burnt-out car and leg it! Warning, strong language in the video clip....

When we hit fantasy games it's even more so. World of Warcraft, Warhammer Online, Age of Conan. They all contain things that don't exist, have never existed and will never exist, and need you to put some effort into believing in, like goblins*! And secondly there are things you cannot due to game mechanics that in real life you could. There is a hill there but I cannot walk up it! Although it does look like a one-legged dog would be able to climb that incline, I as a young, fit and healthy Elf cannot!

A good game has to deal with these. We need help with the "willing suspension of disbelief" otherwise it nags at the back of minds and lowers our respect for the game. There was a Star Wars game that came out a year or two ago that I bought. It might have been the Force Unleashed, I don't recall. I found the map clipping terrible, hitting invisible walls all the time and blocking me from where I wanted to go. It caused me to stop playing it.

I want to go over there!
Well you cannot, there is something in the way.
It's a ****ing 3ft high bit of pipe. I should be able to climb over that!
If it had been 2.9ft then you could have jumped it. But at 3ft it's just too high.
Hang on a sec! I'm supposed to be Darth Vaders apprentice! I can fire lightning out of my fingers but cannot climb over a 3ft pipe??????

You could say Star Wars has a better and more detailed backstory than Eve Online. However, with Eve I can relate its back story to my character, in the 3ft-high-pipe-of-doom game, I couldn't.

It's also the same in films. You watch the film and the "willing suspension of disbelief" kicks in and you enjoy it. During the film did people think "Hang on, if Skynet never sent the Terminator back then Kyle Reese would have never gone back, John Connor wouldn't have been born and therefore Skynet would not have needed to send a Terminator back in time as John, the reason for it sending the terminator, never existed so.... /splat.... Erm..... my brain just burst". No they got to that later.

We have these issues in Eve too. But the back story explains a lot of it. It allows us to forgive some of the "Why?" moments.

With an immersive game you feel part of the ongoing story. I think this is where the "I was there" campaign came from. You need explanations to the "why is that happening?". Eve deals with this very well compared to most games. There is just so much backstory there it starts to feel real. Why do the Gallente rely on drones so much? They developed them as a counter during the first war against the fast Caldari fighters that were kicking their ass. Why are hybrid weapons so fail? Oh..... we'll skip that one!

Another issue is that Eve is a hard game. Those who have played it for a while have invested a lot of time and energy into the game. We feel a connection to our characters.

There are very few games like Eve that can suck you in so deep, and a main part of that is the lore and story telling attached to the game. Over time the original CCP-created story line blurs with what history the players have created, and in time that becomes part of the back story. To be honest, if Eve didn't have this, I doubt it would have lasted so long. 

I think what I'm trying to say is..... 

We don't play Eve, we take part in it. 

Even if you're not into the roleplay (I'm not and don't think we've got any in our corp) there are the Eve-O forums, corp and alliance forums, Twitter and fan websites that all build on the immersion of the game whether it's "in game" like fan fiction or roleplaying or "out of game" (but still on an Eve theme) with friends shooting the breeze/trolling/flaming etc.

You yourself are immersed to some extent in Eve. Yes I'm talking to YOU. What? Yes you bloody well are! You're reading this blog. You're not one of these log on-log off types are you now? Go on admit it, you're "immersed" ;)

Yes, you don't need to immerse yourself in the back story and the whole Eve universe to enjoy Eve Online.... but those of us (sci-fi geeks) who do, we are really thankful it's there.

Those who came before me...

Truen1ght @ ...Shall We Not Revenge? - Immersion (OOC) (BB29)
Bel Amar (Google+) - Blog Banter 29: Immersion
EVE Hermit @ EVE Hermit's Blog - Blog banter 29: "Immersion"
Rixx Javix -

And those that came after....

Jaggins @ Vive Virtual - Immersed
Ranis Garr @ Amarrian Pilot - Hooked
Sered Woollahra @ Sered's Lives - I was there! With them!
Bel Amar c/o Pod Goo - Blog Banter 29
Ender Black @ Pod Goo - Reality is Immersion
Scitor Nantom @ - A Response to Freebooted
Kirith Kodachi @ Inner Sanctum of the Ninveah - Immersion
CozmikR5 @ Beyond Space - You think that's air you're breathing?

* When is a leprechaun not a leprechaun? When he's got his head up a fairy's skirt. Then he's a goblin.

Monday, October 3, 2011

300, Loren Gallen, Chuck Norris and Overkill

I got onto Eve late last night as I was watching a few episodes of "The Mentalist" with the Eve Widow (AKA the wife). If you haven't seen it, think "Lie to Me" meets "CSI". I guess I like sarcastic good guys who take the p1ss!

Anyway with just over an hour left before I plan to turn in for the night I jump in a throw-away Thrasher and head off to Enaluri. I see a few squids on the run over but they either keep away from me, run away or are in cloaky ships.

I arrive in Enaluri to find a few neuts, 29 squids and about 6 Gallente in system. I assume the squids are hunting down the small gang of friendlies so I go to a pounce off top station, nothing there. I warp off to a on-grid pounce at bottom station. The friendlies are there.... camping the undock! Seriously guys? 6 vs 29?? I note they have a carrier, but it is the Minmatar one. Still, surely the squids are just about to undock a fleet to take this small gang on? Any moment.... any moment now...... mmmmm maybe not then.

Anyway I've got 45 minutes so I warp to station and sit on the undock with them. An Ibis undocks! We pop him like the l33t pvp'rs we are ;)

I got the killmail and he had a decent web fitted so I thought I'd post it for sh1ts and giggles. After I posted it, I noted on the Shadows of the Federation Killboard there were two carrier kills as top kills of the week. So I clicked on one and then the related kills to find out what the story was. I saw this rather nice battle report...

Looks an epic fight. Unfortunately for me it occurred at 01:30am local time here and on a work night (Sundays are a normal day here, weekends are Friday and Saturday). I noticed one of the guys in the camp was also there so I linked the battle report in local and asked if it was a good fight. He then linked this video of the fight -

So for the next 15 minutes I'm watching the video whilst trying to pop squids that undock. We catch a Crow, and then a Dramiel and two Manticores undocked. We got the Dram but the two Manticores got away. That should have been the sign for us. The squids in station now had eyes on us.

However we stayed. It was getting late but I was having fun even if it was just sat on the undock. Loren Gallen had said to us in Corp Chat that the squids were still hurting after that battle where they lost the carriers and we should leave them alone. I said in local (I wasn't on comms with the other friendlies) that Loren had told us to leave them alone and we should do as he says as he is the Chuck Norris of Eve. I then spent five minutes posting "Loren Gallen Facts" in Local.....

- Do you know why some planets in New Eden are barren? Because Loren Gallen has already been there.
- When Loren Gallen jumps into a swimming pool he doesn't get wet.... the water gets Loren'd.
- We all live in a constantly expanding universe... all of it trying to get as far away from Loren as possible.
- Fear of spiders is called arachnophobia, fear of confined spaces is called claustrophobia, fear of Loren Gallen is called logic.
- Loren Gallen does not cheat death, he beats it fair and square.
- When Loren activates a stargate he doesn't move through the universe, the universe repositions itself so he is where he wants to be.*

Now, I don't know if the squids have been forming a fleet for the last 50+ minutes and are finally ready to go at this point, or if my bad Loren Gallenism's forced them to undock to try and shut me up, but either way, they undocked. Remember that there is about half a dozen of us including a carrier and a T3 but also including frigates and destroyers. So what do they undock with? This.....

Forget the Picard Manouvre, I'm performing the Brave Sir Robin Manouvre! I'm in warp and away! My Thrasher cannot repel firepower of that magnitude. Apparently they caught the Proteus which melted under that fleets firepower.

I head back home as it's late and I'm happy with my noob ship, Crow and Dram kills. But in the end, that was one hell of a fleet they undocked for such a small gang camping their station which they needed 50 minutes to form......

....all I can assume is they thought Loren was with us.

*This is the only fact that I actually thought up personally, the rest are Chuck Norris Facts for (the first one was Chuck/Mars)

P.S. I just checked the KB again and in case anyone has any doubts about the above Loren Gallenism's, after I called it a night he solo'd a Charon class frieghter (carring 21 CN Hookbills), a CN Raven, two Badgers and two Drakes! Probably whilst satisfying three women at once and inventing a new form of clean limitless power. Sometimes I do hate that guy ;)