Wednesday, February 29, 2012

I'm Watching You

Have you noticed a new face in your area?

Has a new pilot been buzzing around your system in a frigate apparently not doing anything for days? Just logging in, flying a few circuits of the surrounding systems and then logging off?

Oh, they are doing things. They are looking, they are watching.

They are looking at your area of low-sec, they are watching you. The space you consider your home, the pilots that are your corpies and friends.

Whilst he watches, he makes notes, he asks himself questions.

Does there appear to be a dominant corp or alliance in this area? What is their KB like? Are they PvP active or reactive? What is their efficiency? What ships do they kill, more importantly what ships do they fly. How do they fit their ships? Are they T1 fliers or faction ship/officer equipped loot-piñatas? What is their fleet composition? Are they a rag-tag bunch of ships thrown together or is there some thought going into ship choice for the fleet? Do they use logistics or ECM. Do they prefer armour or shield? Are capitals evident? Do they have a batphone? Do they have friends in the area?

What's the security status of their members? Do they rat 23.5/7 and are goody-two-shoes +5's who would never go GCC or are they wannabe's hovering in the 0 to -4.99 range. Are they red flashy pies?

What do their Eve-O forum posts say. Are they PvP, Carebear or a mix. What's their stats? Are they are a large alliance with plenty of corps?

What are the people in space doing? Are they camping gates, running exploration sites, roaming, ratting, doing PI, faction warring or mining. What ship types are in space? How many potential targets are there around in the different TZ's.

Who owns the PoCo's and the PoS's. Is it the dominant alliance? I wonder what would happen if we kicked the hornets nest? Are those PoS's heavily defended? Could a strike force reinforce one? Will that bring a response?

Is there a good base near? A station with medical and repair facilities? Can our logistical chain support us there? Where is the nearest trade hub? Can we access other regions without going through hi-sec for our -5 members? Is there a null-sec entry near by for something different? Can our capitals jump there easily?

Mmmmmm..... this area looks interesting.

Oh yes..... I am busy! Very busy.....


P.S. Loved this video - Hans Jagerblitzen for CSM 7!

Monday, February 27, 2012

10 Commandments for Eve Online - Inferno

So Eve Online : Inferno will be the summer expansion. Base on the theme of "War" apparently. There are rumours. Super CONCORD. 9 circles of security. A way of opting out of war decs. Some sound good, some sound terrible and I hope they are only rumours cooked up by carebear who's stared at an asteroid too long (Sol Burke quote FTW!) If I could give CCP 10 commandments for the next expansion, these would be they...

1. Thou Shall Fixeth Faction War
Where do I start? Plenty of ideas on the forums for the past gazillion years! Main ones being.

  • Nerf missions and reward PvP
  • Make system capture mean something rewarding. Give people a reason to plex.
  • Encourage fighting by increasing LP for PvP kills.
  • Discourage mission farming (Sniper NPCs so assplode stealth bombers and stasis web towers to stop speed tanking)
  • Implement "Incursions" to FW. The enemy navy encroaching into the hi-sec border areas of each Empire.
  • Etc etc etc (see Hans Jagerblitzen for details!)

2. Thou Shall Not Avoid War
No player corp should be able to avoid a war dec. If you want to be totally war dec free join an NPC corp and pay the tax rate for your "protection". If hi-sec griefers are a problem, fix the bounty system so the carebears can hire bounty hunters (cheaper than a merc corp).

3. Thou Shall Not Play Docking Games
The redocking timer should be tied to the invulnerability period. They should be exactly the same for stations. If you are careful you can undock and redock safely.... most the time.

4. Forgive Those who Trespass Against You
Reduce the GCC down to 5 minutes in low-sec.

5. Thou Shall Not Partake of Fighter-Bombers in Low-Sec
Generally people agree super-capitals are deeply unbalanced in low-sec. There has been many calls to ban them to null-sec only. But that makes moving them very difficult. So as with titans, just stop their primary weapon from being deployed in low-sec. As titans cannot use their doomsday weapon in low-sec currently, make it so super-carriers cannot deploy fighter-bombers in low-sec. Fixed!

6. Gank Those That Would Gank Against Us.
Transferable kill rights. Someone suicide ganked you in high-sec? Are you a total bear and being able to shoot him back is pointless. Transfer your kill rights to a registered bounty hunter corp who will exact your revenge.

7. See No Evil (for CONCORD)
GCC only occurs when in sight of gate/station guns in low-sec. Those travelling through the system or to a station have some protection from the GCC mechanic. Those sat in top bait sorry top belt, shaking their ass are fair targets.

8. Thou Should Seek Absolution Through Low-Sec
Empire rats should be the only ones that give you security status increase. If CONCORD are not bothered who you assplode in 0.0 why should they care what rats you assplode! Suddenly all ratters have to come to low-sec to increase their sec-status. Targets!

9. Give and Thou Shall Receive
Bounty system is not fit for purpose. It should be based on ISK lost of the ship and fittings. Catching a pod in low/high sec is nigh on impossible and any sufficiently high bounty makes claiming it with an alt very worthwhile.

10. The Quest for the Holy Crucible
The Crucible expansion was good. New ships, balancing, new art and fixes after fixes. Keep this up. But also remember not to go too silly just on concentrating on fixes, it's not going to attract a lot of completely new blood. More content is also needed to keep people interested and to attract new subscribers. We need both!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Aurum is NOT a Dirty Word

"Security isn't a dirty word Blackadder. "Crevice" is a dirty word, but security isn't"
-General Melchett

When I got in from work earlier this week, I thought I'd jump in a ship and go for a solo roam. After an hour of chasing chicken-shit Caldari Militia who were flying a variety of stabbed and cloaky ships through low-sec I decided to dock up.

Bored, I messed about for a while and made a couple of posters supporting Hans Jagerblitzen for the 7th Council of Stella Management. I posted these to Twitter.

Although I personally liked the Skyrim one, the Typhoon in space got most comments by far. Not for the message it gave, not for the "artwork", not for the cool Eve background.... they were about the pin-up I stuck on the side of the Typhoon sat on a Barrage shell. Whilst I cannot disagree, a brunette in stockings should ALWAYS get lots of comments, some of the messages regarding "When can I buy this with Aurum" got me thinking. Never one to shy away from controversy I'd like to say....

Aurum is NOT a bad thing.

Before everyone sharpens their pitchforks, lights their torches and oils their nut-crackers and comes for me in a Frankenstein's monster style mob, let me explain.

Aurum is Just ISK with a Different Name.
Take ISK, buy a PLEX from the in-game market and convert to Aurum. No money is required. AUR is only used on vanity items too, so there is no need to use it if you don't want to. The only real problem would be PLEX inflation. Personally thats not a problem for me. I tend to fund my PvP addiction by buying PLEX and selling on the market. Therefore with PLEX inflation I get more ISK for my Euro and more ships to Leeroy into the Caldari Militia. But I do know a lot of people use ISK to fund their game-time. High PLEX prices mean they have to grind more rather than having fun.

Aurum was not the "Problem Issue" with the NEX Store and Incarna
Why did players rioted and shoot the Jita monument? Were the under-lying reasons the introduction of a new in-game currency? No. In fact, wasn't Aurum revealed well before Incarna in Dev Blogs and the entire player-base didn't cry foul at that point? I think the main reasons for the "rioting" were:-

  • Incarna was a disappointing and very limited expansion
  • It caused many graphics cards to take an arrow to the knee
  • There was no "micro" in micro-transaction and selling virtual monocles for $60 and T-shirts costing more than real-life ones was just silly.
  • CCP took their eye (and their devs) off flying-in-space to deliver the above
  • The stance CCP took when the players complained about the above issues, the leaked email and the leaked newsletter was just pouring petrol on the already roaring fire.

If Incarna had been a success (all CQ's, establishments, player interaction, good selection in the NEX store, sensible prices and it didn't turn your graphics card into molten slag) then Aurium would have just been accepted. However, as it is tied to the Incarna expansion it is seen (forevermore?) as tainted.

Aurum is an ISK Sink
In-game we need ISK sinks as well as ISK faucets. If we had a decent reason to spend at the NeX store then ISK would be removed from the game and therefore creating an ISK sink. That's a good thing!

Seriously what's the problem with Aurum?
You can buy it with either in-game money or rl money. It can only be spent of vanity items in game. How is it different to MS Points on XBox Live? It's just another form of cash. If you don't want to use it, then don't. There is no need for you to.

The only real problem with Aurum currently is there is nothing worthwhile to spend it on currently. I'd love CCP to deliver some worthwhile items to the NeX store (WITHOUT adversely effecting FiS iterations and improvements of course):-

Custom ship skins
Custom ship decals (corp and alliance logo's or just "nose art")
Custom paint-jobs and decals for POS and outposts.
Clothing which is not "run of the mill". So clothing for suitable for...
- Pirates
- Militia Uniforms
- Alliance Uniforms
- Tight pants and F-M-B's for Sindell (she asked!)
- A general "sexing up" of the available clothing.

And Yes! This time they are @SindelPellion's legs!!!

Obviously the clothing line is pointless until we get establishments (which I suspect were mostly complete, but CCP are terrified of mentioning anything to do with WiS now).

Eve needs walking in stations. There is an untapped player-base out there who would be attracted to the game if it was properly deployed. Therefore there would be more people in-game, paying CCP more money, buing more in-game items and generally being available for me to shoot in the face! Win-win as far as I'm concerned!

Anyone out there running for CSM 7 want to respond to this? From what I've seen most CSM candidates are shying away from this "political hot potato". Eve Mail me in-game with a response and I'll post any and all CSM candidate responses together next week.... if any of them actually dare to touch this topic :)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Bashed - Fan Fiction

At the weekend we bashed a POS and it's defending fleet (OK, so this was 3rd time and they'd spanked us twice before). Anyway this time it went better. We were not really interested in the POS, we just wanted the fight -

I assume, like capsuleer ships, POS's have a limited crew in there to keep things ticking over. I wonder what it was like for them....


"What's the Stront levels now?"

"17.5 units remaining"

Chief Engineer Karlee quickly did the calculations in her head. Just over two and a half minutes before the fuel ran out and the shield reinforcement would be down. That would leaving just what was left of the standard shielding, which was already well hammered, and the control towers armour between them and whatever was coming.

"May be they won't come. They've been beaten back last two times they tried" one of the technicians suggested.

"Oh they'll come. And each time they try they end up knowing our tactics better than before."

A large crack sounded from above above followed by a shower of sparks.

"Re-route that conduit" shouted over the noise pointing at the now swinging cable.

As with any Minmatar construct, the large control tower had frequent maintenance problems. However currently they were having more than usual. 14 hours earlier an enemy fleet had turned up and attacked the control tower. It had taken a real pounding and the engineers were having to work hard to keep the systems running. That attack had stopped as the shields started to fail and the strontium clathrates reactor kicked in. This provided a massive boost to the shields and made them pretty much invulnerable. However, the reactor burnt fuel at a massive rate and once started it couldn't be stopped or refueled. You could only let it run it's course. The real problem was re-harmonising the reactor with the towers shields after refueling it. The shields needed to be above 50% to get the  strontium clathrates reinforcement reactor back online. Their shields were not even 20%.

"Spike in local."



Karlee rushed over to a console.

"They are here. 30 mixed battleships. Mostly Abaddons, few Dominix and the odd Megathron. No logistics though. They are in warp."

The engineering crew went over to the viewports in the wall. Through the shimmer of the shield they could see the fleet of huge battleships dropping out of warp.

"Yes! No logistics. Our defense fleet is going to rip them apart Chief Engineer, right?"

Karlee looked at the fleet. It didn't make sense to bring that sort of fleet without logisitcs.

"Well it...." Karlee suddenly stopped "Cyno!"

A bright red energy field was being projected from one of the ships. A cynosural field that allowed capital ships to lock onto the co-ordinates and use their jump drives to travel instantaneously to the location through artificial wormholes. Suddenly two Archon class carriers appeared in flashes of light. The engineering bay went quiet. The silence was interrupted by an alarm sounding.

"They are shooting one of the defense guns."

The engineering crew watched the battleship fleet engage the static defenses around the tower one at a time. The light show was rather spectacular. Laser fire lit up the space around the huge shimmering shield bubble. Some of the Minmatar battleships were launching torpedoes. The huge missiles slowly lumbering towards their target alongside the bright laser beams.

After 10 minutes the number of active guns achoured around the shields was dwindling. Karlee was checking the shield levels. Without a carrier or logistics of their own to repair the shield, it would take far too long for the shields to passively recharge back to 50%. The Stront reactor was not an option. The attacking fleet would need to be beaten back.

Suddenly the tower rocked. Sparks flew in engineering and one of the technicians who was working high on the conduit fell from the walkway. Karlee watched him fall as if it was slow motion, turning her head at the last moment. She still heard the sickening crunch as he hit the floor.

"Cheif, the good guys are here!"

Karlee looked out the viewport. The defense fleet had arrived. Whilst mostly consisting of smaller battlecruisers with some battleships, they had logistics which would repair the shields of any friendly ship under attack. The aggressors stopped firing on the the towers shields and turned their guns on the defense fleet. A massive fire fight started between the two fleets.

"Wow look at their Dominix's pop. This is going to be over quick" one technician shouted happily. He was right, whilst the defense fleet had smaller ships, the combined firepower was taking down the Dominix class battleships in the attacking fleet quickly.

"2nd Cyno!"

Karlee had expected this wasn't everything that the attackers were going to field and she hated being right. Two more Archon class carriers appeared on field, followed by another two dozen battleships.

"What in Divinities Edge are they!"

Karlee cupped her hands to the viewport to block out the glare.

"They are faction issue ships. Macharial and Navy Issue Apocalypse, they are battleships, but battleships with huge fire power."

As always, Karlee started to run the numbers. It didn't look good. The attacking fleet had too much firepower, and four carriers could issue significant repairs from range. Their defense fleet could not hope to target and destroy a heavily armoured battleship before the carriers had the remote repair modules activated.

The first engagement was short.

"The defence fleet is pulling back! They are abandoning us!"

Karlee knew she had to act fast, this could cause panic and crew could start abandoning the tower. Although the tower was mostly mechanised, the small crew was still essential to the running of the systems. Life on a control tower was cramped, there was less space than on a normal starship and the entertainment facilities were limited. But the pay was good and most only signed on for a 6-month rotation.

"They are not abandoning us! They will be going to reship. They need more firepower! There is no rush, our shields are still OK and we've got a full compliment of armour. There is plenty of time. We've got home-field advantage remember."

That appeared to calm the panicky engineering crew.

The crew watched the defense fleet return with Tornado class battlecruisers and some battleships. The fight went the same way. The enemy carriers kept their fleet alive whilst the awesome firepower of the 50 or so hostile battleships tore through the defense fleet one at a time.

For a second time the defense fleet fell back.

"Now they are retreating! NOW we're in trouble" Senior Tech Smyth sounded aggressive. Karlee knew this would be trouble.

"No. They will be re-shipping again and trying a different tactic. If I was the FC 'd be back at close range. Obvious their ranged fire-power is too great"

"Oh the grease monkey in charge of half a control tower is now an egger fleet commander!" Technician 2nd Class Smyth was a hulk of a man. Having worked in heavy engineering all of his life. He was also a known trouble maker.

"Exactly why are we still here waiting to die in the cold vacuum of space. Miss FC Sir? Why haven't we abandoned this doomed tower like the defense fleet has.... twice? You might want to die. We don't!"

Karlee didn't need this. Smyth was slowly approaching her, his chest puffed out. He was looking for an excuse. He carried a large wrench swinging loosely in his right hand. If he overpowered her the crew would run to the escape pods, the tower would certainly be lost. Karlee simply drew her sidearm at lighting fast speed and shot Smyth in the chest. He fell to his knees with a look of shock on his face before falling face first onto the floor.

"Anyone else?" nobody dared breathe "Good! Now come on people, we've been here before, lets hold it together! Nobody is going anywhere until the last possible second. We will keep this tower running!"

Karlee went back to the viewport just in time to see the defense fleet arrive for the third time. She was right, this time they had come in at close range, probably after refitting their weapons to something appropriate for such an engagement. After two minutes it was clear that the tactic wasn't working either. Even at that close range, the attacking fleet was still able to deal massive damage and the defense fleet couldn't break the carrier reps. For the third time the defense fleet pulled back.

The engineering bay went silent. All eyes were on Kaylee. She now didn't have anything for them. It was unlikely the defense fleet would try a fourth time. There was no point. The attacking fleet had superior numbers, superior firepower and superior logistics. The defense fleet had lost too many ships, the financial loss of the tower would pale into insignificance against the loss of ships they had already suffered.

The tower shook as the attacking fleet opened up against their shields. Another power conduit broke free. It swung down hitting Technician Marary in the back. Bright blue sparks flew as their body convulsed. The sparks ignited a gas, probably oxygen leaking from a nearby pipe.

The other crew froze in horror as a fireball engulfed the poor technician. Karlee rushed over to another console and rerouted the power and isolated the nearby oxygen pipes. The sparks stopped and the charred, blacked body of Marary finally fell to the floor smoking. Of the 12 crew in engineering, Karlee had lost two and killed one herself.

"Back to your stations! NOW!"

The Engineering crew paused.

"NOW!" she reached for her gun again.

Reluctantly they returned to their stations. Karlee knew what they were thinking. If the capsuleers had effectively abandoned this small outpost, they shouldn't they. The control tower had sufficient escape pods for all of them. But Karlee couldn't order the evacuation whilst the control tower still had some shields and a full compliment of armour, it wasn't in her nature just to quit.

She was trying to divert axillary power to the shields when she noticed movement in the corner of her eye. High above on one of the gangways a young technician was edging to an escape pod. She drew her sidearm for the second time.

"DON'T DO IT" she yelled. The other crew all stopped and looked.

The technician paused, he looked terrified, he suddenly bolted for the hatch. Karlee fired once and the shot caught him in the upper leg. He fell from the gangway.

Karlee never saw the large wrench swung against the back of her head.

40 minutes later she started to come around. She was laying on the floor of engineering face down. Her head was throbbing. She struggled to her feet. Engineering had been abandoned. Smoke and fires were everywhere. She looked at the console. Shields and armour had gone, and structural integrity was down to 34%. The tower groaned under the sustained firepower of the attacking fleet. She looked at the scanner logs, they showed nothing of any defense fleet returning whilst she had been unconscious.

See scanned the tower for life signs. There were none and this is not surprising. Whole sections of the tower had been depressurised and fires were raging in those that still had atmosphere. She checked the inventory, most of the escape pods had gone. She started to get worried. Karlee started to plot possible routes from engineering to the escape pods still remaining. Each way was blocked by fire, hazards or the cold vacuum of space. She saw there was only one she could physically get to, the escape pod in the engineering cargo room. However the radiation levels in the room were far too high. The uranium fuel stored there had been split open by an explosion. It would take her 20 seconds to cross the bay to the hatch. The radiation levels would give a fatal dose in 5.

There was another series of explosions as the enemy fleet continued to pound the tower. The structural integrity alarm went off. The tower was dying. Karlee considered her options. She could get to that escape pod, but she'd be glowing by the time she was recovered, a slow painful death by radiation poisoning didn't sound fun. She could just sit down. It would all be over in a minute. However death in the cold vacuum of space was supposed to be horrific. Lungs bursting, your outer flesh flash freezing whilst your blood boils.

"Option 3 I suppose" she said out loud with resignation.

She went to draw her side-arm but it was missing. The crew must have taken it in case she came around before they had got away.

Karlee looked up as she heard metal groaning and hissing. Far above her she could see the metal wall starting to deform and blister. Suddenly a huge shard of light broke through and disappeared. A hiss of escaping atmosphere was cut short as a containment forcefield automatically sealed the breach.

Karlee slumped down by the console facing the wall. Suddenly there were dozens of areas where the wall was blistering from laser fire striking the other side. She pulled out a cigarette, lit it and look a long drag.

Several sections of the hull gave way at the same time. Engineering was lit up in an array of bright light as laser beams criss-crossed each other. If Karlee could have seen it in all it's splendour she might have thought it was a beautiful ending.


Friday, February 17, 2012

Blog Banter 33: The Capsuleer Experience

Like mana from Valhalla (yes I know I'm mixing my religious metaphors), the latest Dev Blog by CCP Legion asks questions which make for perfect Blog Bantering. To quote him "...we want to make the first days, weeks and months in EVE enjoyable and not just something ‘you have to plough through in order to get to the good stuff’" and the newly formed Player Experience team will focus on "...where and why people lose interest in EVE...".

"We invite you to pour your heart (or guts) out and tell us what you think is good or bad with the current new player experience and what you think could be done about the problems."

Wow. It's been nearly 4-years since I did the tutorials! Lets have a loot at them now.... WTF!?!?! Where did all these come from?

Had a quick look at number 13 for the Caldari. Doesn't mention ANYTHING about cloaking devices and warp core stabilisers on Drake class battlecrusiers so pretty misses the point on how the Caldari fit their ships!

Anyway I had a quick look through and the NPE of 2012 is much different when I went through it last and climbed the infamous learning cliff.

So how do we make the NPE even better.

Eve is a unique game. Whilst you can catch up to my skills in a frigate class ship, it's going to take you probably best part of a year. Getting all your fitting skills (Electronics and Engineering) and the relevant ship and weapons skills to level five will take a while. You cannot grind XP you cannot power level. You just have to wait. Therefore the NPE is something ‘you have to plough through in order to get to the good stuff’. I very much doubt there is a way to get new players into the "good stuff" right away.

But it acceptable to tell new players this?

"Hi guys, welcome to the game. Oh by the way the PvP in this game is truly epic, but you'll be crap at it for the next year or so but please stick with it."

So what can we do? Probably nothing. It's the way the game works, you need patience. No quick wins here. You go into low-sec as a newb, you will die horribly. I found this and tried PvP many times and went back to carebearing before I had the skills to enjoy PvP.


We cannot hide it, we all know it, Eve is full of nasty bar-stewards. Can flippers, scammers, fraudsters and general nasty people. There are "norms" in there and nice helpful people, but generally we have a lot of griefers.

I once used the analogy of a a first date to explain griefers....

Woman - So what do you do for fun?
Man - You know those sand sculptures people do on the beach...
Woman - Oh wow! You make them?
Man - No. I wait until someone has just finished one then I run in and kick it down.
Woman - WHAT? Why would you do that?
Man - Their tears are fantastic. They get really upset and they almost cry. It's epic.
Woman - Erm.... I just remembered I left the iron on. Be right back! /flee

In real life people would be appalled by this behaviour. In Eve, it's common place. But we don't mention it to new players. We don't want to put them off. How do we warn people about these issues and how not to get caught by the can flippers?

Lol Fits

The new tutorials appear to show you how to physically fit your ship, but not how to really fit your ship. Back in my first days I'd take a ship and fit some big guns for big enemies, small guns from small enemies and make your classic newb lol fit.

We need to show new players how to properly fit a ship rather than the normal way of people sticking random things on a hull because it "sounded a good idea".

I did a quick search for fitting a ship on YouTube and looked at the first one from the results. Player made guides like this are what new players need...

EDIT - Literally within the hour after posting this blog..... 9 day toon in Caldari Militia with THIS fit -

The Solutions

There are a few things we could do to improve the NPE.
  • The whole game needs better explanation. ISK: The Ultimate Guide to Eve Online should be required reading for all new players. It's a great resource but under used.
  • Explain to new players that they need to wait for PvP and rushing in will result in death, despondency and a loss of ISK. Promote the role of "tackler", perhaps the fastest PvP role to train for.
  • Show how to fit a ship. Proper weapons layout, proper tank. Doesn't need to be detailed. Chose the right sized module for the ship, armour tank an armour ship, shield tank a shield ship and never, ever hull tank (even if you are a real man).
  • Explain the popular griefing tactics (can flipping) and scams in game and how the mechanics work.
  • Do more to get newbs to join a corporation, get on voice comms and learn from the vets. I would guess those players getting into a player corp early last longer than those who stay in a NPC corp simply because in a player corp you can learn from people.

The Conclusion

We have a big problem here. Eve Online is not about instant gratification. With Eve Online you need to invest time and patience to get anywhere. Of all the MMOG I've played Eve appears to have the oldest player base I've seen. Most in my corp are 30-something with wives and kids. Why? Because there isn't the instant gratification that comes with many games and therefore younger players tend not to stick with it.

We need new blood in the game. We need to make the NPE better. But we must not change the fundamentals of Eve to get there.

Turn it up to 11! Overheating in Eve Online.

Living in the desert and being a PvP player in Eve Online means I know a little bit about overheating.

First one is easy. Turn on the air-conditioner when it gets too hot and don't go outside for long in the summer.

The second is a little more complicated but can give you a real boost in PvP. In a previous blog here I listed several ways to give a major boost to your PVP abilities using neural implants, faction modules, combat boosters (drugs) and alts with warfare links. Overheating might be a minor and very short term boost, but it's a very important one.

Certain modules in Eve Online can be "overheated". Basically in a spaceship engineering sense you pump extra power into them to overload them. This does not affect your ships power-grid or your capacitor. Basically you "work" them a bit harder. Get them running at over 100% if you will. This causes three things, firstly the bad things - they heat up and as they overheat they take damage. The damage is to the module itself and does not effect your ships shield/armour/structure HP's. However, they do their job much better than when running normally.

To see what happens when you over heat a module simply have a look at it's info. Guns and missile launchers tend to fire faster, propulsion jamming mods reach longer, reppers rep faster, propulsion mods give you more speed and hardeners... well they harden a bit more.

In order to overheat a module you need the Thermodynamics skill. Each level you train reduces the overheat damage the modules take by 5%. Also T3's are good for overheating in as they have a bonus to overheat damage.

To overheat a module you can click the tiny little green bar at the top of the module icon, or now you can shift-click the button.

You can also overheat an entire rack (entire line of low, mid or high slots) with these buttons

As you overheat a module, the heat spreads to nearby modules. If they are overheating too, then the rate of damage they take is increased. Overloading one module will mean damage is taken much slower than doing an entire rack.

You can keep an eye on the temperature here....

And module damage is shown graphically on the module icon and also by hovering over the icon

It is possible, and is actually easy, to "burn out" a module by overheating it too much. In that case it'll go offline until you fix it at a station. Providing it's not totally buggered you can use nanite paste in space for a temporary fix between battles. To use nanite paste simply open your cargo bay and use the right click menu.

You can also "pre-overheat" modules by turning the overheat on but not activating the module. This way the module takes no damage as it's not running, but as soon as you do activate it it'll run with the overheated stats. Very useful for points when gate camping.

Overheating can win you a fight, it can also help you escape from a fight that is going south! It can help you catch a target you'd have missed otherwise but it can also bugger up your ship and doom you!

A nice example of overheating working well occurred to me earlier this week.

I was solo roaming in my autocannon Hurricane. I noticed a squid (Caldari Militia player) in local as I jumped into a system. He looked to be in a Ferox from the D-scanner. I bounced about a bit looking for him and we both landed on a gate at 0 together. What luck! He locked me up, I locked him back. Mexican stand off. I didn't know what his intention was.

Did he want me to agress so he could jump through the gate and run away with me unable to follow him due to aggression? (A typical Caldari response to a 1v1)

Was he thinking that's what I wanted to do and was waiting to see if I ran.

I didn't know, was he wanting a fight or me to make a move so he could flee?

Another squid entered system, I was outnumbered. The other squid landed on gate in a Manticore and jumped. Then he jumped back. I was still tempted, a stealth bomber wasn't a major issue. Then yet another squid entered system. A war-target Tengu landed on us, that was me out of there. I warped to a pounce off another gate and the Tengu jumped out, I wasn't about to get sandwiched on a gate. I went to the other gate at 0 and the Ferox had obviously followed me and was already there. Again we locked each other up.

Now, do I open up and hope that the Manticore and Tengu were simply mission-whores passing through and wouldn't be back. Or should I just say engaging in this situation is a bad idea with a Tengu and a Manticore possibly joining in?

Oh bugger it! FIRE!!!

I open up on the Ferox and he returns fire. We're both close range fit, my autocannons and heavy assault missiles verses his apparent full rack of blasters. As the fight starts it's obvious that my shields are dropping faster than his. Time to heat things up a bit.

I overheat my AC's and HAM launchers plus my invulnerability field. Suddenly I'm firing faster and therefore doing more damage (+15% extra DPS) and my shields have higher resists (+20% bonus). Almost immediately I notice a difference. My shields are dropping slower than before and his are dropping much faster. I keep an eye on the heat and module damage, toggling the overheat when needed. I start to get the upper hand and soon his shield is lower than mine. He pops as I'm in around 2% shield. A very close 1v1 between two fairly equal battlecruisers - and I won due to overheating. Without overheating he'd have won, no doubt.

Mutual gf's in local and I return the two jumps to station to repair the heat damage to my modules.

Overheating works and goes to prove that not all MMOG PvP encounters are shin kicking contests that are won by the guy who started with the biggest boots!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Bounty Hunting - Will It Ever Be Worthwhile in Eve?

There was a bit of a discussion on the #tweetfleet this week about bounty hunting in Eve Online along with a blog post from @Rotosequence here.

I think we all agree the bounty system in Eve Online is not fit for purpose currently. If someone places a big enough bounty on your head, what happens?

Do lots of elite PvP bounty hunter types come hunting for your head?

Or do you just jump in a blank clone with no implants, ensure your medical clone is up to date and then have an alt or a corp mate pod you and collect the bounty for yourself.

I think it was somewhere in the region of 3bn ISK that someone once put on the head of someone I know. Did some l33t bounty hunter collect that? No, because as soon as it was noticed he did as described above and arranged to be podded by a corp mate. Even if he had a lot of skill points, the medical clone wouldn't have cost more than 30m ISK probably. Yet 3bn ISK was received in bounty payments. A profit of 2,970,000,000 for the guy the bounty was supposed to "punish". If only Han Solo could have done this!

So how do we make bounty hunting worthwhile. How do we make it into an activity in Eve Online that players can choose as a profitable "career".

This is not easy. How do you make it so that a decent bounty is not "claimable" by the person you want to punish?

Percentage Payouts on Clone Value
One suggestion is to make the bounty a pool of money and each time you pod the person you get a sum from the pool equal to the value of the destroyed clone and implants. This immediately stops people from podding themselves for the reward as it would lose them money if the payout was just under the value of the destroyed pod. However, a "good" payout on just the clone of 30,000,000 ISK (if your target was 100-120m ish SP) is not going to entice anyone to put a lot of effort into hunting your target down. The only way to make cost of clone based bounties viable would be to also base the payout on destroyed implant value. Still, that's never going to be a great amount unless they have a high-grade set in. Then there is the issue of you never know what clone the target might be in at the time. You might waste a lot of time and get minimal reward as they were in their 0.0 clone at the time. In the end it would come down to luck. I personally have four clones, if you pod me the chances are it'll be a 120m implant clone (+4's and a PG4).... that's if you can catch my pod in low-sec. In bounty terms I'm never going to be really worth coming after.

Just looking at our own Kill Board, the values in ISK of our last ten capsule kills are 0, 0, 0, 109m, 0, 0, 72m, 0, 19m and 36m. So the average value of a pod in Black Rise (low-sec) on that somewhat overly simple calculation is 23,600,000 ISK. With a clone grade of Tau (120 million SP kept) which costs 30m ISK you'll on average get around 55m for killing bitter vets with a bounty on their head in Black Rise. With all the hassle of hunting your target, laying in wait, etc etc is the career choice of Bounty Hunter worthwhile? No.

Percentage of Payouts on Ship Insurance
One idea I had was to make bounties a percentage of the insurance payout of the hull you destroyed. Therefore if you pop your target and he's in an Abaddon you'll get 130,000,000 ISK from the bounty pot (at current ish rates). However thinking about that, along with his own insurance he could get corp mates to pop unfitted ships to make money (His insurance payout plus bounty = mucho ISK compared to loss). So that idea doesn't work at all as it would be just the same as now with people getting alts and corp mates to pop them to claim the "reward". So my idea is utterly crap.

In fact, almost any payout that is of a sufficient value for people to care about is open to abuse. Once you have rewards that are worth claiming and thus making Bounty Hunting a viable Eve "career", the value will be more than that of the ship or the blank clone of the target and therefore makes it worthwhile for the target to get a corp mate to pop him.

I don't have an answer to this. In fact I'm not sure there is an answer. Can the bounty system be changed so that it is worthwhile yet doesn't hand free ISK to the person you wanted to "punish"?

Do we accept that "Bounty Hunter" will never be a worthwhile career in Eve Online and the best we can hope for from the bounty system is to give someone a minor reward for killing someone (who they would have killed anyway) that you don't like.

Anyone else got any ideas? How do we "sex up" bounty hunting. Oh.... wait......

P.S. Who put a 10m ISK bounty on Drackarn's head? Seriously, who is going to come after me for that!

P.P.S. For those who are wondering if the previous blogs planned Valentine's dinner went OK. Yes, yes it did! Was quite proud of myself, especially the lobster!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Valentines Eve...... Online

Well, February 14th is nearly on us! Time to reward the Eve Widow for letting me lock myself in a dark room and play Eve Online far too often for the previous 364 days!

So in the first ever, only-partly-Eve-related SC&S blog (don't worry I'm not planning any more of these), here's the dinner I will cook for the "Trouble and Strife" in order to get another 364 days of Eve Online without too many complaints.

I'm a civil engineer, not a cook and certainly not a chef. Most of the below is inspired from Jamie Oliver and his latest book or Masterchef on the TV! However, cooking a great meal isn't rocket science nor is it Amarr Titan level 5. It's fairly easy to cook a meal that your wife will go "Wow!" and let you play important internet spaceships in peace over the next year!

Also I don't really tend to measure or weigh things a lot.... I just bung it in until it looks/tastes right. As I keep telling the wife... experiment!

Starter - Smoked Salmon Blini's
I plan to go quick and easy on the starter. Don't want to do too much work! This is quick and easy to make, takes no time at all and tastes great.

- Smoked Salmon
- Packet of cocktail blini's (thin toast will do) or make your own here.
- Sour cream and chive dip.

All the above should be available from your local supermarket. If you are in the UK, Sainsbury's used to do it all. Simply heat the bleni's in the oven whilst cutting the smoked salmon into strips. Take a bleni, put a dollop of sour cream and chive sauce on it, a few strips of salmon on top of that and sorted! A squeeze of fresh lemon gives it a bit of extra zing! Very quick and easy to make, but looks like you spent a lot more time than you did!

Main - Posh Surf and Turf.

The Turf
- Half a beef fillet (400-500g ish)
- Oil and butter

Pre-heat your oven to max. In a large frying pan, heat some oil and butter and sear the outside of your fillet. Then lob it in a roasting tray stick it into the oven for 20 minutes. Once it's done take it out, cover with tin foil and leave to rest for 20 minutes. Easy!

The Surf
- Whole lobster
- Fresh dill
- Red chili
- Tablespoon of peppercorns
- 2 lemons

Butter for the lobster
- Melted butter
- Juice of 1 lemon

I get ready dead lobsters here, less messy. Take all the ingredients and put them in a big pan of hard boiling salt water. Halve the lemons first, squeeze the juice into the pot and place the lemon halves in too. Lower your lobster in whole (careful, boiling water is boiling) and cover the pot. After 5 minutes turn off the heat and leave for 15 minutes.

Take Mr Lobster out (be careful, obviously he's ****ing hot) and get a BIG knife. Place the knife in the centre of the head and stab the bugger down. Bring the knife down and cut it in half. Finish off the other way so you slice him in two length-ways (be careful that is all you slice in two!). There may be a vein running along the middle, just remove this with your fingers. Then remove the stomach sac from behind the eyes. Jamie Oliver's video here shows you how to cut 'em up and what to remove. To be honest, you're best off watching that!

Brush the exposed flesh (giggity) with the melted butter mixed with lemon juice and the jobs a good un.

The Sauce for the Beef and Chips
- Egg yoke
- Butter
- Tarragon
- Shallot or small onion
- 3 peppercorns
- White wine vinegar
- Water

Melt the butter a sauce pan whilst you fry off the finely chopped shallot/onion. When the onion is cooked, place it in a blender with the egg yoke, the tarragon and peppercorns. Blend! Take the hot butter and little by little add it whilst blending. Don't do it too fast or too much at once as it'll separate. See the BBC link to do it properly :)

Chunky Chips
- Potatoes
- Deep fat frier

Peel the spuds, and cut into chunky chips. Place in a large saucepan of boiling salted water and boil for a few minutes until the outsides start to go soft. Take out and leave to cool. Set the frier to low (170oC) and cook for a few minutes and take them out of the oil. When you are nearly ready to serve, whack the frier up to max (190oC) and crisp them up.

Veg - Who cares
With the amazing food above, who cares what veg you do. I'll be chopping some carrots up, boiling them, drain, lob in a knob of butter, shake it around, sprinkle some parsley on top and hey presto! Token veg!

Desert - Summer Fruit Jellies
- A bag of frozen summer fruits
- Leaf Gelatin
- Caster sugar
- Elderflower Cordial
- Prosecco (or other sparkling wine)

Just see Jamie Oliver do it from the link :)

Serve with a nice wine of your preference. With red meat and lobster you could go red or white. To be honest, ignore the wine snobs and go with what you want. For extra brownie points I'm going for her favorite, a nice bottle of Chianti. And as it's Valentines day I won't even do my bad Hannibal Lecture impression.

You cook the above and send her red roses to work ("oh it was so embarrassing.... but all the girls at the office were so jealous!") plus go to sleep with a tired out tongue..... then you should have hassle free Eve Online for the next year.
..... well at least a week or until I get back from Fanfest!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Give us a Boost! Getting an Edge in PvP

Tama has always been quite a PVP hotspot. As a low sec entry system from Caldari space it is popular with pirates and faction war players alike.

However recently it would appear it has also become popular with a third type..... booster alts.

There are many ways to give you the edge in combat in Eve Online. As well as upgrading to faction, deadspace and officer (rarely used) modules for your ship, there are a few other things that can make a huge difference.

Implant Sets
What have you got in your head (warning - never ask me that question, you DON'T want to know!). Actually I mean in implant slots one to five? I'm guessing a set of +4's if you tend to carebear, may be some +3's if you're low-sec based and may be nothing if you're down in null-sec running bubble camps? How about slot six? A PG-4 perhaps as that is a popular choice? A little boost to your ships power plant always help.

Well if you feel like slurging the ISK, those 6 slots could make a massive difference to certain ships. Faction modified implants are availible that not only give you the learning skills boost, but can also significantly increase ship attributes. The implant for slot 6 muliplies the effectiveness of those in slots one to five. There are many sets but I'll just list the most popular three here.

Crystal - Increases the amount of shield boosters.

Slave - Increases your armour hitpoints.

Snake - Increases your ships speed.

Each set comes in high-grade and low-grade. The high-grade sets can easily set you back 2.5bn for the set of six. But it can be worth it. A full high-grade crystal set plus the Omega (the one that goes in slot 6) will give you +3 to all attributes, but can, more importantly, give you about a 55% boost to the amount of shield your booster reps each cycle.

Of course there are the short term effect consumable drugs that boost your abilities in a specific area. This post here describes them in more detail.

Keeping on the shield boosting, an Improved Blue Pill can increase your shield boost by 25%. Now what if you are popping blue pills AND have a high-grade crystal set in?

Boosting Alt
Now we're onto the issue at hand. A well trained alt in a commandship or T3 with correct subsystem can turn the tide of a battle. Warfare links can increase shield resistances, speed up shield booster speed or increase your point range. They also don't have to be on grid with you. They can be merrily sat at a deep safe with the links running.

As well as these ship fitted warfare links, complete with ship bonus, the alt may have the appropriate mindlink stuck in slot 10 giving a further boost to all links of a certain type.

And all you need for this is a trained alt sat in the squad commander with your PvP main in a squad postion. Providing your alt is set as the booster, you're sorted!

The Numbers
Now just imagine someone using all three types. I'm going to use an active shield tank to see what difference is made with a high-grade Crystal set giving you a huge boost to your repping amount, a blue pill increasing that even more and a boosting alt reducing the cycle time of your repper whilst buffing your shield resistances. That can really boost your performance. If that person is in the right ship, may be even with a faction shield booster, it'll tank like a boss!

So you might think you have a fair fight. A 1v1 with similar ships. The guy absolutely wtfpwns you whilst you slightly scratch his shields. Was he so much a better player than you, or was it a combination of the above three?

Take my main in a Sleipnir. Lets do some EFT Warrioring (numbers might be a bit out but they give you an idea) to see actually what difference these make.....

  • With a standard T2 active tank set up it reps 825 every 5 seconds (165 dps)
  • With a Dread Guristas booster instead of a T2 it reps 825 every 4 seconds (206 dps)
  • Now if I was to splurge on a High-grade Crystal set it would rep 1267 (316 dps)
  • If I was to pop an improved blue pill too it then reps 1584 (396 dps)
  • Finally give me a boosting alt at a safe spot running the shield harmonizing link and my booster cycle reduces from 4 seconds to 3.4 seconds (465 dps)

With a T2 set up, I'm repping 165 dps.
With the fully boosted setup, I'm repping 465 dps.

Also that booster alt could have other links running so if you think the reps are good, remember that my sheild resistances could also gone up an extra 5% each, so you are doing less damage whilst I'm repping the 465 dps. Oh and of course being with the alt has also increased my base shield HP's by around 10%.

Fair fights in Eve Online? Bah, who needs 'em! :p

P.S. Hans Jagerblitzen is past 100 likes for his CSM 7 campaign (actually he's well past 300 likes!)