Sunday, August 31, 2014

SCASSSS - Because of Falcon

I'm a pirate. I'm -10. I'll shoot anything that moves. However, 99.9% of my kills are combat ships in low-sec. I don't go to hi-sec, I don't kill carebears there. I'm not a big fan of suicide ganking but absolutely 100% agree it should be allowed. This is a space combat simulation. Just as you are not safe in the city centre and the police in real life cannot protect you 100%, the same should be in New Eden.

If you drive you fancy brand new car full of expensive goods down to the ghetto and get car-jacked, don't whine to the Police that they didn't stop it.

CCP Falcon is absolutely 100% spot on here.

Friday, August 29, 2014

The Escort - Part 2

Fiction Friday. Escape pod here.

The Escort - Part 2

The three entered the lobby near the lift, Cat and her man leading the way through the charred suite door with guns blazing. Jasmin was being shielded behind them. More masked gunmen fell before they could even return fire. The two capsuleers swept the lobby area and headed towards the stairs to check no more where coming up from there. There were broken ornaments and splintered wood all over the floor. Not to mention the bodies of the three they just killed plus the other that Cat had shot through the door seconds earlier.

Jasmin looked and almost laughed. Cat was standing at the top of the stairs looking down, her pistol pointed in front of her in both hands ready. Her pose made her look like some sort of super-cop, but she was wearing high heeled boots and a short, low-cut dress. It was a very bizarre sight.

"Clear!" Cat shouted. Her man was checking one of the bodies.

"Who are they?" Jasmin asked as he approached.

"Mercenaries." the man said turning one of the bodies over with his boot and squatting down to search it. "No uniform and the weapons are from all Empires. For fracks sake! What idiot brings an Ishukone assault rifle into a building shoot-out. Idiot!"

"Why are they here?" Jasmin asked Cat's lover, still staring at the dead bodies.

"I fight for the Gallente militia. Plenty of people would love to take out a militia capsuleer when he's out of his pod." he replied rising and then taking her by the arm and leading her to the stairs.

"They are Caldari State?" she said in a panic thinking of the implications of an entire government after her. Cat's man laughed.

"No." he replied looking down the stairwell as they descended. "The Caldari State or any of the Empires for that matter would never sanction a hit against a capsuleer out of his pod. They all rely massively on capsuleer support. If it got out that one of the Empires was trying to kill an immortal Empyrean they would loose all support from their own capsuleers. In fact the capsuleers would band together against them. Its likely some rich idiot has put out a contract. May be a mega-corp Executive. Thinks he's being patriotic and doing what the State cannot. There are rumours of a secret society, The Illuminated Ones. Rich assholes banding together to fight a secret war against us. Who knows, happens all the time."

They continued down the stairs to the 40th floor. Cat opened the stair-well door and peaked out. After she was sure it was clear they all entered the corridor. The three approached a room and entered.

"We always keep a separate room under a booking with a false name." Cat's man explained. "We could have stayed on the Capsuleer decks, we'd be untouchable there, but where's the fun in that?" he grinned.

He walked up to a big black bag on the table and pulled out a datapad. He started tapping away on it.

"We have to assume they have the ship covered." Cat stated.

"Yeah, I'm checking the other hangers on station. A bit short on Amarrian ships docked here so I guess I'm flying us out of here then." He smirked.

"Cannot you just go to the capsuleer decks now if they are so secure, and, erm, take me too?" Jasmin asked hopefully.

"They'll have the entrances covered for certain." Cat replied "Too obvious. Probably got snipers or bombs planted as there are only two ways up there from the standard station."

Cat went to the bag and removed a large gun. She checked the magazine and pulled the slider back.

"Come on. What you got?" she asked turning to her man.

"Closest is a small repair hanger on deck 30 zone D. Its some kind of horrid railgun fit but it should do the trick as it has an internal gantry, its a hybrid ship. Then its four easy jumps back to Nis." he said whilst grabbing the bag. "Ready?" he asked Jasmin.

Jasmin just looked shocked. "I don't even know your name!" she exclaimed.

"Call me Drac!" he replied with a smile as they left the room.


Drac and Jasmin crouched down behind trollies laidened with laundry. Ahead Cat could be seen talking to a young man dressed in the hotel uniform stood next to a small van. Jasmin watched as she flirted with him, smiling, touching his chest and arm and playing with her hair. They were on the level under the reception having taken a service elevator down to the staff area. It was more of a garage area where delivery trucks brought goods and took away waste and laundry. Jasmin watch Cat lean in and give a the young man a peck on the cheek which seemed to embarrass him. He moved to the back of a laundry truck and unlocked the door before moving to the front of the vehicle and turning his back. Cat waved to Drac and Jasmin to come and they jogged to the back of the truck and climbed in closing the door behind them.

Two minutes later the truck swung out of the hotel 'basement' and onto the street. As on many space-stations, the layout was much like a built-up city. Narrow streets with vehicles, sidewalks and crossings. Multi-story buildings rose eitherside before the ceiling stopped them going any higher. Drac peaked out of one of the small windows as they cleared the hotel.

"Two tangos watching the service exit. These guys are pro's." he stated. "How far is your new boyfriend taking us?"

Cat grabbed a bag of linen and through it at him.

"Deck 28, but zone A. Apparently this vehicle is tracked and he cannot take a detour. We need to go up two levels and across the station."

The ride took nearly half an hour as the small truck wound its way though the station streets and bumped down the steep ramps that connected the vast decks. Eventually the truck stopped. The three heard the door being unlocked. Jasmin noticed that Drac had drawn his gun but had discretely hidden it under a sheet. The doors opened and light spilled into the truck. The young man was stood there smiling. Discreetly Drac holstered the weapon seeing that they appear to have escaped.

"Thank you baby." Cat purred as she climbed out.

"There's another woman in there! You said you needed my help to smuggle you and your lover out of the hotel as your husband was in the lobby!" the young man protested.

"Lover? Sorry, I meant lovers. They both are."

The young mans face was a mix of shock, surprise and arousal. Cat surpressed a laugh as she climbed down onto the street.

"But... but... I thought...." the boy stammered. Cat smiled.

"Just watch. Your reward." she whispered as she grabbed Jasmin and kissed her deeply. The young mans mouth fell open as he watched the two women kiss. After a few seconds they parted.

"OK all done? Right lets move!" ordered Drac and the three headed down the road leaving the young man stood by the truck holding his hands together over the front of his pants with a look of shock on his face.


It had taken them nearly an hour to cross the station, sticking to back alleys and quiet streets with no cameras. Once on the correct side of the station they then had hacked a keypad on a maintenance stairwell to ascended the two decks to arrive at the maintenance hanger. The blue-grey Merlin class attack frigate was hovering in position. Its 200mm railguns could be seen in their locked down position. Technicians and service-drones could be seen milling around the cavernous hanger.

"What now?" Cat asked.

"Its a Hybrid ship. It has an internal pod gantry. We need to get inside and get the hell out of here. I've already sent a message, more suitable ships are waiting for us if we need them, but we need to get off station first. That is the problem getting to the ship, as soon as we're spotted Rent-A-Cop is going to be all over is."

The three surveyed the scene and sat in silence as they thought.

"Feck it, lets do the DYKWIA trick!" Drac said finally.

Jasmin stood with them not knowing what they were on about. She was shocked as they strode out of the shadows and started casually walking towards the ship in plain sight of everyone. She saw serveral technicians pushing hover trolleys stop and look at the strange threesome walking towards the ship. Turning her head she spotted two men jogging towards them in uniforms from the direction of the office near the main entrance. They had guns strapped to their legs and were waving their arms. Drac and Cat ignored their shouts and continued walking casuaully to the ship. Eventually the guards caught up and stood in their way.

"Stop! This is a restricted area!"

"You don't say!" snapped Drac. "But even with a restricted area we have entered unchallenged and walked 80% of the hanger to our ship before you and fatso got here." he nodded to the other, slightly overweight guard.

"You are going to have to leave." snarled the guard placing his hand on his gun. Drac burst into laughter.

"Really? You are going to shoot a capsuleer? Ace career move you dick. Don't you know who I am?" Drac's tone turned from jovial to menacing in seconds. The guards visibily gulped. Cat turned around and pulled her long hair back. The implant sockets running the length of her spine were clearly visible.

"We're in a good mood, so you have a whole two seconds to get out of my fracking way otherwise I'll have you strung up behind the frigates thusters and barbeque you both as I leave!" Dra snarled "And you know I'm not joking!".

Both men jumped out of his way and they marched on.

"So, how long we got?" Cat whispered.

"About 2 minutes before they get back, wonder what Empryeans are doing away from the Capsuleer decks, check and realise this is not our ship." Drac whispered back as they climbed the cargo ramp into the frigate. Drac hit the close button as they entered the cargo bay. The ramp slowly started to close behind them.

"Your Squid frigate skills are better than mine." Cat said "I'll take Jasmin to the bridge, you get goo'd up!"

Drac nodded and they entered a lift and he hit two buttons on the control panel. As the lift was climbing Dra started to strip off his clothing. Jasmin looked at him puzzled. He smiled and winked at her as he pulled the last of his clothes off and stood their naked with his hands on his hips. Cat rolled her eyes at Jasmin.

"What?" Dra protested. "Saves time when I get there." he grinned slowly swaying his hips.

The lift door opened and Jasmin looked out to a metal catwalk that extended towards the olive-green capsule which was splayed open. Drac ran down the walkway and turned around so he had his back to the capsule. Jasmin saw metalic tenticles snake out of the pod and towards Drac's back. As the lift doors started to close she shifted position so she could catch the last fasinating glimpse as the tenticles appeared to disappear into his back and lifted Drac off the floor as his head fell backwards seamingly unconscience.

"What's it like?" Jasmin asked as the lift continued up. Cat appeared to ponder that for a moment.

"What? Podding up? Its a bit difficult to describe. One moment you are flesh and blood and the next you ARE the ship. You can feel the power running through the conduits. You can hear the ghostly echos of the crew. Its, well its difficult to describe. Leaving the pod is actually the worst bit. Suddenly all that power is gone, you are back to being a vulnerable sack of meat, not to mention first feeling like you are drowning and then violently throwing up."

"Sounds rough" Jasmin said.

"Yes and no. Trust me, nothing compares to the feeling of being connected to a ship. The power you feel when you are flying a carrier or dreadnought. Its indescribable."

Before they could say anymore the lift doors hissed open and they entered a small bridge. Cat quickly ran to the large chair in the centre and sat down. She hit a few buttons and the bridge lit up. Jasmin sat in the seat next to her, being careful not to touch the rows of unknown buttons in front of her.

"You in baby?" Cat called into the air.

"Snug as a Hekian bug in a rug. Undocking sequence confirmed but the alarms have been raised. Sounds like the two security idiots have realised they should have stopped us. We'll be in the big black soon but I'm guessing the mercs are monitoring the stations alarm network and high-tailing it here right now. They are going to be too late, undocking is confirmed and cannot be stopped, but its not capsuleer undocking so going to take us a few minutes. Just hope they don't turn up with any heavy artillery!"

"He can hear us?" Jasmin asked.

"Yes, he IS the ship now." Cat replied with a smile.

"My, my, Jasmin's arse feels fantastic in that chair!" Dra's voice echo'd through the bridge. This caused Jasmin to leap from the seat in shock with a squeal. Cat almost fell out of her chair laughing.

"He's joking. We are not THAT sensitively attuned to the ship." Cat said still laughing. "You can sit in the chair, don't worry, he cannot really feel you."

An alarm went off in the bridge.

"Frack. How the hell can there be a target lock in the launch tube?" Cat cursed.

Drac's voice was heard over the speakers. "Its behind us, someone in the hanger is locking on."

The ship shook slightly.

"Really? A personnel swarm launcher verses a starship. I take that back about them being pro's before!" Drac's laughter echoed through the bridge.

The viewscreen lit up with the view from behind the ship as it slowly moved down the massive launch tube away from the hanger edge. Far back, on the edge of the docking platform two men could be seen stood facing the ship. One had something on his shoulder. There was a flash from the device and a number of rockets could be seen streaking towards the ship. White smoke bellowing as the missiles corkscrewed towards them. Cat look at Jasmin who appeared terrified.

"Relax. Its like firing a potato gun at a tank!" she reassured her. The ship slightly trembled.

"Oh noes. Shields at 98.5%. What are we going to do?" Drac's voice mocked dramatically. "Ah frack it. Nobody fires at me and my girls like that!"

Lights lit up on a console in front of Cat and Jasmin. The view screen zoomed in on the two men who were busy reloading the launcher together. A red circle appeared around them. Then there was a flash. It took a few seconds for the screen to clear. When it did there was a large smoking crater blown out of the edge of the dock and the two men were nowhere to be seen. Just a hole and glowing molten metal.

The screen flashed back to the front of the ship as they emerged from the launch tube into space.

"Setting course for Heyd gate."

The ship swung around and Jasmin got a good look at the massive station before it vanished and the ship slipped into warp. Space thundered pass them as they travelled at many times the speed of light towards the distant stargate. Whilst Jasmin had seen warp tunnels in the past, she'd always been looking out of a side window. To see it head on was an amazing sight. Within seconds the ship began to slow having crossed millions of kilometres in a short period. The massive stargate loomed into view.

"Ooooo welcoming committee!" Drac said as they returned to sub-light speeds "Four other Merlins and a couple of Kestrels."

The other ships were clearly visible circling the gate. Alarms went off in the bridge signifying tactical locks. Their ship sped up and started to approach the stargate. A louder alarm went off and the ship shook. Still Drac piloted the ship towards the gate ploughing through the incoming fire. Flashes erupted as the other ships activated the gate and vanished into artificial wormholes.

"Where are they going?" asked Jasmin.

"They are jumping. These amateurs are convinced that Drac is going to jump. They have left one guy here to use a warp disruptor on us. Fatal mistake." Cat said smugly.

Suddenly their Merlin turned in a tight radius and aligned back out towards the station. The ship shuddered as the powerful railguns spat hybrid charges at the one remaining enemy.

"Right now that pilot is screaming we have agressed him and he needs back up. His friends are trying to get back to the stargate the other side as quickly as possible. They aren't going to make it." Cat said with a smile.

On the screen, the other ship exploded in a fireball as the final volley of railgun charges slammed into it. The alarms slienced and Cat saw the warp tunnel start to form in front of the ship. Seconds later they were travelling faster than light.

"Right we know what they have. We're on the way to the rendezvous! They've got them ready for us." Drac's disembodied voice stated. "Cat, get our guest ready, I'll eject on landing."

"OK. Jasmin, I need you to listen carefully. I need you to man the bridge...." Cat stated.

"Where are you going?" Jasmin asked in a panic.

"Calm down. I need to jump in an escape pod. We have a plan but you need to stay here. Don't worry, you only have one button to press and one read-out to monitor and tell us what it says. We'll have an open comm channel all the time so we can speak to each other. This here is the FCoC, the fleet co-ordination console, in a few minutes a message will pop up here, all you need to do is...."


"Is that Merlin still on long-scan?"

"Yes sir. But, they could just warp back to station at any ime. They'd dock this time in the Capsuleer decks and we'd not be able to get them." the ensign replied.

"Well they haven't. They are still in space and we need to keep at them. Only one of two targets can be inside the pod. That means if we destroy that ship we will perminantly kill one of them and we can claim at least half the reward."

The Captain settled back down into his chair as his men scanned for the Merlin. His mercenry outfit had been offered ten million credits for each Gallente Militia capsuleer they killed outside their pod. Killing an Empyrean was difficult, but not impossible. As the targets had stolen a frigate with a pod gantry he was sure one of them had "podded-up". The ease at which they beat one of his ships suggested it was indeed a capsuleer in their pod piloting the Merlin. They needed the kill, his crew hadn't been paid in a month. The last pod-jockey they'd killed had been six months ago. That reward split between his 50 soldiers should have lasted them a year. However they had partied hard and blown it. They needed another payday soon.

"Sir, Merlin on short-range scan!"

The Captain clapped his hands together.

"Red alert. Talon 1, 2 and 5. Point it this side of the gate. Talon 3 and 6 get ready to jump but only when he does."

"Merlin landing sir..... 100 off!" the Ensign shouted.

The Captain banged his fist into the console. The Merlin had dropped out of warp 100km from the gate. Well out of range of their weapons and warp disruptors.

"Sir, he's aligning... slowly..... he's speeding up.... Sir.... he warped to the sun!"

"EVERYONE WARP TO THE SUN NOW!" the Captain screamed "WARP TO ZERO!"

The six vessels jumped to warp speed in seconds, heading to the sun. All navi-coms were equiped with co-ordinates of all major celestrial objects. "Warping to zero" to a planet, star or asteroid belt actually led to a set of co-ordinates near to that location but a safe distance away. It was a common mistake made by capsuleers. When in a panic or trying to escape, the systems sun was always an easy target. Easy, but also obvious. The Captain was leaning forward in his seat as the sun filled the viewscreen and they dropped out of warp.

"Sir. We just overshot the Merlin, he warped to 100 again and..... and there is a Dragoon class destroyer at the co-ordinates sir, we're landing 3km off it. I've also got a Thrasher class destroyer 15km away. Its....."

The bridge went quiet as the viewscreen showed Talon 2 explode in a ball of fire. Alarms went off as the Dragoon destroyer locked warp scramblers on each of the frigates and launched a flight of deadly drones. Talon 5 was next to explode in a single volley from the Thrasher.

"Sir.... the Merlin is stationary but I'm not showing it as capsuleer controlled. We've got a proper scan on it and I'm showing no capsuleer pilot present. The targets sir, they are now in the two destroyers. I'm also reading Federal Police Comets on short scan... they are landing on the Merlin. Confirmed, the capsuleers are not on the Merlin sir!"

"Of course they are not you idiot!" the Captain grumbled. "They swapped to destroyers at a safe and have been 'fleet warping' that unpiloted Merlin about so we'd give chase. What a way to die, alpha'd by a Cockbag Thrasher after chasing an unpiloted Merlin straight into an obvious trap."

Those were the Captains last words. The seven 220mm artillery cannons on the Thrasher rumbled as they spat their deadly EMP charges. The target was vapourised in an instant.

As the last frigate exploded the two destroyers warped away just as the security services started boarding the Merlin.


The Present....

"Next thing I know your officers are storming into the bridge of that ship pointing guns at me and then hauling me here!" Jasmin finished.

"Wow that is quite a tail Ms Dufort."

"Its the truth" Jasmin said crossing her arms defensively.

"Well I'm afraid I don't believe you. You can tell that fairtail to the judge and he can throw your pretty ass in jail. Whilst I don't believe you got frisky with a hot immortal egger, I do KNOW that you are going to have some interesting experiences with a one-ton-desiel-suckin'-croptop-dyke in the pen whilst you're doing ten to fifteen. So for the last time...." The door to the interview room being opened cut him off.

"What the frack! I am in the middle of a interview here you.... erm, ma'am?"

A woman strode into the room. She appeared to be mid-40's and wearing a power suit. She had a stern look on her face.

"Detective, this is Ms Dufort's legal advisor, Landis Lesauvage."

Both the detective and Jasmin looked stunned. They'd both heard of Landis Lesauvage who was one of the most famous defense attorneys in the Gallente legal system. Landis Lesauvage didn't respond, he was simply busy talking into his datapad.

"Ma'am, what's going on. She cannot afford him!" he said quietly pointing to Jasmin. Jasmin looked on in utter confusion not knowning what was going on.

"Did she mention anything about two capsuleers?" the Captain snapped to the Detective.

"Well, yes she did, but surely you don't believe...." stammered the Detective.

"Shit!" exclaimed the Captain slapping her palm to her forehead in fustration. The Detective's face dropped at the thought there may be an element of truth in the suspects story.

"Its for you." Landis Lesauvage held out the datapad and the Detective took it. His face a visage of worry. Why would he pass a call over to him? Jasmin, the Captain, Landis Lesauvage and the detectives partner listened on as the Detective placed the device to his ear.

"This is Detective Gautier."
"Sir! My.... I am honored to......"
"Yes sir."
"No sir."
"But we have...."
"No sir."
"No, absolutely not sir."
"No sir."
"Yes sir!"
"Yes she is. Right away sir."

The Detective looked terrified as he handed the datapad to his Captain.

"Ma'am. It is Poire Viladillet, CEO of Quafe. She would like a word with you." the Detective stated sheepishly. The Captains eyes went wide. She gingerly placed the datapad to the side of her head.

"Sir!" the Captain said crisply into the pad.
"Yes sir. Absolutely!"
"No, sir I completely understand."
"Yes sir. And if I could just say that..... hello? Sir?"

The Captain handed the datapad back to Landis Lesauvage sheepishly.

"Well Captain, Detective. I believe we are done here. Ms Dufort would you please come with me, I have your transportation waiting outside."

Jasmin just stood in shock. She looked at the Detective and the Captain who gave her a weak smile. Landis Lesauvage strode commandingly to the exit ignoring everyone else with Jasmin falling in behind him. As they exited the Security Office into the station boulevard she came up alongside him.

"What just happened there? I cannot afford you!" she protested. "I've seen you on the holovids. You do celebrities and politicians. Not people like me! I cannot pay a fraction of the fees you must charge!"

"And you don't need to." Landis said with a wirely smile "My fee is already paid in full. For as to what happened, these small town cops have no business sticking their noses into Empryean matters. A quick call to the CEO of the mega-corp that owns this station was all that was needed. Anyway, your ride is here. Good day Ms Dufort". With the briefest of nods Landis turned and walked away leaving Jasmin stood in confusion. She glanced to where he indicated to before he left. At the side of the street a long black limo was waiting. She recognised the driver immediately. As she approached Jean-Luc doffed his cap with a smile and opened the door so she could climb in. As she did she realised the back of the car wasn't empty. Cat and Drac were sat in the seats facing her.

"Are you OK?" Cat asked concerned.

"Yes. I am fine. Must say this is the most interesting assignment I've ever had." she laughed. "More than enough excitement for one day!"

"Are you sure about that?" Drac asked. "We just wired 100,000 credits to your agency to book you for the next 48 hours." As he said this Cat slid seductively across the cabin and sat next to Jasmin.

"Its up to you, the money is yours regardless for what you've been through." Cats hand stroked Jasmins leg slowly "However, I was bitterly dissapointed we never got to finish what we started. Only this time we'll be going somewhere a little more secure."

"Well....." said Jasmin "I guess a bit more excitement wouldn't hurt." With that she pushed Cat down on the leather seat, crawled on top of her and kissed her deeply as Drac looked on.

The End

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Completely Out of Fried Calamari

On Tuesday, Ladister, the final Caldari held system in the warzone fell to the Gallente Militia. This was the second total domination in recent history with the Gallente capturing the entire warzone back in early 2013. Oddly enough it was Ladister that was the last system to fall last time too. In fact I even made picture the last time it was like that!

However this won't last for long. It never does. Faction war is like Battlestar Gallactica or The Matrix. This has all been before, it will be again etc etc.

The problem is now is that the Gallente are now officially bored. Many of us have been very bored the last month or so with a lack of war targets as the squids were pushed back. However the capturing of systems has kept many going. Now there are no more systems to capture and Caldari numbers in space will be at their lowest point. Squid LP is on a 50% nerf whilst the Gallente are swimming in them.
  • There is no one to fight.
  • There are no systems to capture.
  • LP prices are getting low.

So what now? Well the same as always.

Gallente players will get bored and go do something else. The Gallente LP crash will lead to all the farmers swapping back to the Caldari who's LP price will be rocketing with low supply. With lots of farmers and low levels of Gallente militia the Caldari will start capturing systems. Soon the Caldari will be level on systems. Word will get around and Gallente PvP pilots will come back. Fights will start, systems will be traded and we'll be back to peak fighting.

As I see it, the Caldari get too many farmers. Caldari LP store goods are too popular with Level 4 Mission Farmers (shield tank, missile damage) so they will always have more farmers due to the profit you can make from the squid LP store due to demand. This lets them get a lot of victory points, but that only gets you so far. Taking systems requires a bunker bust and no farmer is interested in that. Poor LP reward verse time and risk, plus if you capture the system you cannot farm LP as easy. So what we end up with is lots of vulnerable Gallente systems, but no one does that last bit and captures the system.

What we need is bigger incentives to fight and lower LP for plain farming.

What has been suggested in the past is that LP from offensive plexing is stored in your own personal kity. All LP have a life of 30 days. If they are not claimed in those 30 days they vanish. In order to claim the LP you need to capture the system. If the system is not captured, then those LP just fade away into the big black. No more LP farming, you have to bring the fight! This would lead to increased fighting and reduced farming.... I think.

A lot of the issues with faction war we have brought on ourselves. We asked, CCP gave, we realised after the change there were unforseen consequences. Will this lead to better PvP in faction war, or would it lead to armies of farmers working together on both sides to keep flipping systems back and forth to claim LP?

I'd hate to be CCP. The players of their game are all cunning bastards!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Does Eve Online Make You Mistrustful?

I play a few games currently. One of which is Stronghold Kingdoms. Its a MMO strategy game. You start off with one village and a castle and rise up the ranks from Village Idiot to Crown Prince. As you go along you found new villages (or capture them), research technology and improve you parish(es) whilst fighting off NPC's. Of course you are surrounded by other players who might seek to attack but for the most part its a village management/farming/PvE game....

Until war comes.

I had joined a Faction (corp) who were part of a House (alliance) after falling in with a group. At the weekend our House went to war with another House. Unfortunately for me, my cluster of villages and castles was located right in the middle of the house we went to war with. I was utterly surrounded. No help, near I was buggered. It was sort of like going to war with the CFC where you yave one system right in the middle of Goon territory. Not good!

The war came out of the blue as I slept. On waking up Saturday morning I found an army already advancing on one of my castles. I was able to play some cards (think burn cards in Titanfall) and being online meant I was able to defeat the attack.

I got an email from the guy as another army started to advance.

He was apologising for attacking me saying it was nothing personal!

I started to interdict my own villages. This is basically using monk units to 'reinforce' a village and castle so it cannot be attacked. As a bit of a newb I was sending monks from one village to the other. I got an email from the same guy again telling me there was a way to use the monks in a village to interdict that village and therefore didn't use travel time.

A war target, attacking me, was giving me advice during the attack on how to stop the attacks!

A while later I got an email from a different guy from my war targets. He was wanting to know how we could work together so I didn't have all my villages razed and pillaged. Seriously, my war targets are helping me in the war? WTF?

Obviously this is so far removed from Eve its unbelievable. In the past I've chatted to a guy I've killed and given him advice, but never during the fighting. I've never been battering a guy and then posted in local "If you get in a tight orbit I won't be able to hit you. Try it!".

Its not the first time I've seen such a massive difference between Eve and other MMOGs. Joining a faction in SK was simple apply and accept. In Eve, well....

Is it because I've played Eve for six years I am now a paranoid gamer? I have no trust in my fellow gamer and expect everything to be a trap and them to shit on me at every possible opportunity?

Not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing?

Sunday, August 24, 2014

SCASSSS - Downtime Memes

So Eve was his by some DDoS attacks over the weekend (well its over the weekend here anyway). Of course there was many tears and screams for free SP, ISK and a titan or two. With so much time on their hands Eve players got creative....

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Escort - Part 1

Friday fiction! Escape pod here if...

1. You are not interested in Eve Online fiction.
2. You not an adult.

Today's fiction isn't THAT raunchy but it does contain a short bit of, erm.... nibbling! Plus themes of an adult nature. Probably not PEGI-12!

The Escort - Part 1

"Miss, I really don't think you appreciate the trouble you are in. This charge-sheet is long enough to put you away for many, many years!" the grizzled detective said, blowing out a plume of grey smoke as he exhaled.

"But I didn't do anything wrong!" the young woman protested. She looked up with pleading eyes at the detective's partner who was casually leaning against the back wall of the interview room. He just stared back at her impassively through the gloom of the dimly lit room and the cigarette smoke. She assumed they'd made the interview room intimidating to scare suspects. Given them a taste of what might await on some awful deep-space asteroid penal colony if they didn't cooperate.

"I've got eight dead bodies on the upper decks of this space-station, a 15 metre wide crater blown out of docking bay 58, a stolen frigate, half a dozen burning wrecks floating in space between here and the Heydieles stargate. Not to mention 30-something frozen corpses already. The Sisters of Eve rescue ships are reporting no one made it to the escape pods, they didn't have time with a single massive strike by a destroyer. We are expecting a death-toll of over 50 in the end. Of the three people that we believe are responsible for all of this, you are all we have. So you are saying you are the innocent party? It was the other two?"


"The other two dragged you in against your will?"


"And the fire-fight that engulfed this space-station and this solar system was their fault and nothing to do with you?"

"That's right! Can I go now?"

"Sorry miss, but you are going to have to start at the beginning. It had better be a very good story as to how we found you alone, drifting in that stolen Merlin class attack-frigate with a trail of destruction in your wake!"

"OK." she began, taking a deep breath "It all started two days ago. I got a call from my agency...."


Two days ago......

Jasmin closed her datapad and placed it on the side. She undid the thin belt and slipped out of her silk robe letting it pool around her feet on the tiled floor. She stepped into the luxurious bubble-bath that had been slowly filling for the last twenty minutes. As the warm water enveloped her body she inhaled the fragrant steam. The young woman wondered how those people on the space-station, hundreds of kilometres above, managed without proper baths. Water on a space-station was far too a valuable resource to use on bathing. The rich and the powerful had high-efficiency showers up there, but the majority of people had to make do with UH-frequency sonic showers. No, Jasmin could never live off-planet. However, if she didn't get some work soon she'd need to leave this luxury apartment and find somewhere cheaper that might not have a tub. Her money was running out fast and she'd need to downgrade if she didn't come up with some soon. The planet of Lirsautton III had been hit by a bad recession. Some local idiot bankers thought they were some sort of Caldari super-investors and had played the markets with disastrous results. It had led to a planet-wide stock-market crash and subsequent recession. During these times, luxury services, such as those she provided, were in less demand.

She closed her eyes and tried to relax. She was just nodding off when her datapad bleeped.

"Shit!" she muttered.

She reached across and grabbed the datapad, her arm dripping soapy water on the tiled floor. She looked at the screen. Her new boss was calling. Her heart skipped a beat. Possible work? Money?


"Do you like women?" her boss asked without introduction.

"What?" giggled Jasmin in surprise.

"You're new on our books, I don't know do I? I've had a specific request for you, but its from a couple."

Jasmin was a courtesan working for an up-scale agency in the Gallente Federation. She had recently gone from independent to joining an agency following an unpleasant encounter with a Client. Whilst the agency would advertise her services and offer much needed protection, there was more competition for bookings and they also took a healthy cut of the fee. She had been worried she'd made the wrong decision as she'd not had any bookings in her first week with them.

"Well, I've never done that, but I'm OK with it."

"Are you 100% sure? Pulling out mid-way or doing a bad job is going to get you dropped. The lady of the couple will have, shall we say, expectations." her boss said sternly.

"I'm sure. Happy to go gay-for-pay. What's the deal?"

"I have no idea. The booking is through a proxy company that has been used with us in the past. This means its a VIP couple."

"What do you mean a proxy company?" Jasmin asked worriedly.

"Don't stress deary." Her boss said obviously hearing the tension in her voice "We've taken bookings from them in the past and every time, without exception, its gone very well for both our girls and us. No one famous is going to deal with us direct. They use this proxy company which ensures that communication and money trails are broken. You, nor the other couple, will be appearing on the front cover of next weeks Dodixie Hot Celebrity Gossip by doing it in this way."

"Someone famous?" Jasmin asked, her curiosity getting the better of her.

"May be. Darling, if its being done this way then whoever is behind the booking is either very rich or very powerful and therefore could be very famous. I already have a confidentiality and non-disclosure contract here that they sent for you to sign if you, and I hope you will, accept. Its all above board."

"I don't know. This is all a bit heavy. Where is the job?"

"I don't know the location."

"This is sounding worse and worse every minute." Jasmin grumbled. Her boss laughed.

"What do you expect? Their home address? What if it is the current darling couple of the Dodixie holoreel industry making this booking? You must have seen the rumours in the gossip pages about those two and what their ex-maid claimed! May be you'll be going to someone's office and it turns out to be the CEO of the Quafe Corporation and his wife? What about that fire-brand senator who is on a crusade to clean up Gallente society? For all we know he and his wife could be the kinkiest of us all behind closed doors! They will provide two-thousand credits advanced travel allowance to get you to a specific space-station in Dodixie. Then they will take care of the other travel arrangements from there. That way they don't even know what system you yourself live in. See this protection thing works both ways."

"Wait! did you say two grand just to make the first leg of the trip?" Jasmin paused for a second. "What is the fee then?"

"Well its a full over-nighter" replied her boss. Jasmin thought about it, she was listed on their books as 1,500 credits for over-night, 8pm to 8am. "They are willing to pay fifty grand plus travel."

Jasmin sat bolt upright in the bath sending bubbles and water cascading over the edge, sloshing onto the floor.

"Did you just say fifty grand?"

"Yes darling. This is the big time after all."

Jasmin did the sums in her head. The agency took 25% of all fees but that would still leave her 37,500 credits plus what she could save from the two grand travel allowance. The equivalent of 25 over-nighters. Even before the crash she'd need between four to six months to make that.

"What's the catch. There must be a catch?" she asked warily.

"No catch darling. This is the big time with the big spenders! They expect high-class and above all, discretion."

Jasmin held the datapad in the air as she dunked herself into the warm water with the largest smile on her face she'd had in a long time.

"Hello? Jasmin? Are you there.....?" echoed from the datapad.


24 hours later....

Jasmin sipped the expensive Gallente champagne from the crystal flute as the shuttle approached the station. She leant back in the luxurious seat padded with soft Matari Telemark leather. The initial leg of her journey had been just about bearable but the second leg was amazing. Thinking to keep some of the two thousand credit travel allowance, she'd taken the cheapest economy InterBus shuttle from her home planet to Nugoeihuvi Corporation Development Studio station that she could find. Just two hours ago she'd been drinking Quafe Lite from a plastic bottle whilst wedged between an Amarrian monk and a Matari professional fighter! She had been glad to get off that shuttle when they arrived in Dodixie. Her instructions had been to proceed to a separate private docking bay. She'd found a shuttle there waiting to take her to the destination. She had been treated like royalty since, and not a Quafe Lite in sight or any overly-chatty Matari fighters. Just expensive Gallente champagne and first class service.

The shuttle entered the destination station at a private hanger and Jasmin disembarked into the elegant arrivals room. She looked around for some hint of where she was and saw none. A man in a smart uniform complete with cap was waiting for her.

"Miss Jasmin?" he enquired in a posh Gallente acent.


"I am Jean-Baptiste. I am to escort you to the hotel. Please let me take your bag."

Jasmin smiled and handed over her small roller case. She had been instructed not to bring much luggage and that clothing for the night would be provided. For once she was traveling light. She followed the man over to a small station-car and he opened the door for her. She slid inside to find it was not a standard station car. Leather seats, wood trim and a mini-bar with a chilled half bottle of champagne awaited her. She smiled to herself, this was certainly the way to travel.

It took approximately half an hour until they reached the hotel on one of the upper decks of the station. The driver collected her bags and escorted her straight to the lifts, no checking-in she noted. On the 49th floor the lift opened and they stepped into the luxurious corridor. Her driver pulled a keycard and opened one of the three doors on that floor. She stepped into a truly amazing suite.

"I would get some rest Miss. Some people from the spa will come to see you at 1600 hours station time to get you ready. I will be here to collect you at 2020 station time. Please enjoy the facilities." the man explained before tipping his hat and leaving.

Jasmin went to the huge paroramic window that looked into deep space.

She stood there and stared into the blackest space she'd ever seen. She knew she was no longer in Gallente hi-sec, the green nebula was too far away. She assumed she was now in low-security space. She searched around the suite and found it had separate bedroom, living room and huge bathroom with a big soak-bath before returning to the large window to gaze out over the near-by moon and into deep space again.

"Oh yes, this is the way to do business!" she whispered to herself


After a good sleep in the most amazing bed she'd ever experienced, Jasmin ordered a light lunch from room service. She watched some cheesy movies on the holoprojector and generally slobbed out. At 1600 sharp the door buzzer went. Jasmin opened the door to find three Caldari women dressed in crisp white spa uniforms. They were carrying a selection of bags and pushing various trolleys and clothing racks. She was slightly surprised to find Caldari working on a Gallente station but then again Caldari did make some of the best masseuses.

The next four hours were a blur for Jasmin. She was treated to an afternoon of pure pampering. Massages followed by skin treatment and hair removal followed by more massages and even more skin treatment. By the time they were finished doing her hair and make-up she hardly recognised herself. Her skin felt softer than she could ever remember and she felt radiant.

They had brought a selection of clothes for her, all high-fashion, all hideously expensive. Given her profession, Jasmin was used to dressing up, but this was a whole new level. The three spa girls helped her dress, she felt like royalty with the three women waiting on her, helping her dress. Jasmin smoothed the luxurious black Amarrian silk stockings up her legs and fixed the delicate silk tops to a matching Gallente lace suspender belt.

The spa girls eased her into the other skimpy pieces of Gallente fashion-house lingerie that were no more than whisps of silk and lace. It was all covered by an elegant House of Ranai satin cocktail dress. Finally the stiletto heels from famous designer Vallou completed the outfit. Jasmin looked in the mirror. She could have been going to a high society ball. Elegant, beautiful, sexy.

Within five minutes of the spa team clearing out the door buzzer went again. She opened it to find Jean-Baptiste there.

"Good evening Miss. You look radiant. Are you ready?" he asked.

Jasmin nodded and followed him to the lift. She was nervous. The ride in the lift was very short, just one level up to the 50th floor. The lift pinged and the door opened into an entry room. The driver beckoned her to enter and she did. Jasmin turned and saw he had stayed in the lift.

"Are you not coming?" she asked nervously.

"No Miss. A scanning drone will just do a routine check of you for security reasons and the door will unlock. Have a good night Miss." and with that he doffed his cap and the lift doors closed. Movement caught Jasmin's eye as a painting in the wall opened out and a small machine slowly hovered out. It was about the size of a shoe box and covered in antennas and small dishes.

"Please stay still" it said in a pure Gallente accent as it hovered around her. A wide but thin blue light shone over her as the drone moved up and down ensuring it covered her completely in the eerie blue light. She hear a click that made her jump.

"No weapons, bio-agents or explosives detected. No virus or communicable disease detected. You have a clean bill of health. Please continue, the door is unlocked." the drone stated as it hovered back to its hole in the wall.

Jasmin shook her head at the bizarre encounter with the drone and moved to the large wooden doors. On a space-station wood was not a common material. If a location has wood then it is a high-class area for rich VIPs only. She opened the door and stepped inside a massive lounge. The entire back wall was a window which provided a magnificent view into space, ornate furniture from all around New Eden was carefully placed around the room. It was simply breath-taking.

"Welcome." said a voice to her left which made her jump. Whilst he spoke Gallente, there was a strong twang of Caldanese. She looked over and saw a man behind an ornate black bar making drinks. Three glasses were placed on top of the bar and he was filling them with colourful liquids. The man stopped what he was doing and came out from behind the bar and walked towards her. Jasmin studied him carefully as he approached. He was Caldari, very fit, light hair, tall and walked with the up-most confidence. His eyes burnt with passion and he had a slightly bemused look to his lips. He was enjoying this.

"Hi, I'm Jasmin." she said and held out a hand. The man took his hand in hers and kissed it. She felt how soft his hands and lips were. In fact they were too soft. Even an office worker who has never done manual labour in their life should have tougher skin that his.

"Of course you are." he said with a wink whilst extending his other hand to encourage her towards one of the plush black leather sofa's.

He was right, Jasmin was not her real name. The men who booked courtesans didn't generally care for names really, however for security it was always best to use a fake one. An exotic one was best as these helped grab attention on the site, she like the scent of Jasmin so when she needed to choose a professional name it hadn't been hard. The man hadn't offered his name and she wouldn't ask, she'd lost count of the number of Mr Smiths she'd slept with. She sat in one sofa and he sat in the other opposite. She looked at his clothes and couldn't make out the fashion house. The clothes he wore were obviously expensive judging by the material, but she'd never seen any like them before. She was wondering if they were custom made or whether he worked in the fashion industry and these were new season clothes not out on the street yet.

"How was your journey?" a female voice asked.

Jasmin looked over to her right and saw a woman appear from a side-door. Although she too spoke Gallente she was clearly Amarrian. Flowing jet back hair and a slender frame. Again the clothes were unknown to Jasmin. A plunging short dress, seamed stockings and knee high boots. The woman's skin also looked too good to be true.

"It was good thank you. I'm Jasmin." she said as she stood and faced the woman. The Amarrian walked up to her and greeted her with the traditional Gallente greeting, kissing her on both cheeks. Jasmin noted that her skin was the same as the man's, baby-soft. The woman backed off and sat down next to the man. Jasmin retook her seat, being careful not to expose too much. The dress she was wearing was very revealing and she knew sitting the wrong way would expose the tops of her stocking tops. Normally with a Client this wouldn't be an issue, in fact she'd more often than not purposely do it to move things along. However, being with a couple was a new situation for her and she wasn't sure how to behave. The last thing she wanted was the wife to suddenly become jealous and ruin the night.

"Are you two married?" she ask trying to make small talk. The two opposite her smiled at each other. The man rose to his feet and headed to the bar.

"No. We are just very, very good friends." the woman replied. "And please, call me Cat."

Jasmin glanced over to what the man was doing. He finished off the drinks, gathered them up and brought them over. He handed one to Jasmin and turned around to pass one to Cat. Jasmin saw a flash of metal under the man's hair at the top of his neck as he stretched. Suddenly everything fell into place. The money, the secrecy, the security, their clothes and the skin.

"Judging by our guests expression she's just connected the dots." Cat purred in the sofa opposite. The man laughed as walked back towards Cat glancing back at Jasmin. "Really? Already?".

"You are a capsuleer. An immortal!" she said in awe. The man nodded and smiled at her before taking his seat next to Cat.

"We both are actually. You are the quickest we've known to make the connection. Bravo!" Cat replied as she raised her drink. "To an entertaining night."

They talked for a good hour. Jasmin had a million questions but needed to remember that she was working and needed to keep professional. She asked generic questions about the capsuleer life and found that the un-named man had saved Cat from an Amarrian Holder after her parents had been killed and he'd taken all family assets, including her, as payment for an outstanding debt. Her lover had then paid for her to be put through capsuleer training. Jasmin filled them in with a few details of her own life. More than she would usually do with Clients but these two were different. If they really wanted to, with their connections, they could know everything there was no know about her. Capsuleers were some of the most powerful people in the cluster.

"So why me? I enjoyed the travelling but surely there are more local agencies." Jasmin asked. Cat smiled and nodded to her man as she rose, collected the empty glasses and went to make some more drinks.

"We're picky" the man said lazing back in the sofa on his own. "We keep an eye on all the top agencies. When we both are in the mood and we spot one we both agree on, then distance is no object."

"Do you do this a lot then?" Jasmin followed up.

"Not really. A couple of times a year." Cat replied coming back with the refilled glasses.

She placed one in front of her man and then sat next to Jasmin handing her a drink. Jasmin accepted the drink and took a good gulp knowing things were moving forward. They continued the conversation until that drink was exhausted. As she placed her empty glass on the small wooden table, Jasmin felt Cat's hand on her knee. She shifted slightly towards her and turned her head. The Amarrian woman had amazing eyes that seemed to penetrate her soul. There was something about these Capsuleers. It wasn't the implants that allowed them to control their massive spaceships simply by thought. It wasn't that they were immortal and could live forever. There was something else. Something special. Cat raised a hand and brushed a strand of hair away from Jasmin's face with a smile. The hand lingered and Jasmin leant her head into the soft touch of Cat's hand. Her thumb brushed Jasmin's lips and she parted them slightly.

Cat leant in slightly and Jasmin mirrored her moves, their lips meeting softly. For Jasmin this was the first time she'd kissed another woman. It was soft, warm, erotic. Slowly and very gradually the kisses became more passionate. Tongues meeting as she felt a hand start to explore her body. Jasmin opened her eyes briefly to sneak a peak to see what the man was doing. He was still leaning back in the sofa with his arms spread over the backrest. He was watching intently. Jasmin closed her eyes again and continued to enjoy the sensations. A hand snaked over her knee and up to her thigh, she felt the soft skin of the exploring hand meet her own exposed flesh as it crossed over the silk tops of her stockings and over her exposed thighs. The hand then disappointingly snaked around her hips and up over her waist and up over her breast. The thin satin material of the dress make the sensation mind-blowing. The hand continued its advance up her chest, onto her neck and into her hair. Cat expertly pulled on Jasmin's hair slowly and lightly, forcing her head backwards, breaking the kiss which disappointed her. She then felt the her lips start trailing kisses down her throat and around to the side of her neck sending what felt like electricity coursing throughout her body. She let out a moan of pleasure. Usually these were faked and for the benefit of the Client. Normally as she would be thinking about what groceries she needed to buy next week or other mundane task. Not this time, this was a real reaction. She let out another small gasp of pleasure as she felt a hot tongue run all the way up the side of her neck from the base and then teeth nibbling her earlobe. A soft, warm hand had returned to her chest and was expertly teasing her through the thin satin of the dress. The sensation was overwhelming and she felt as if the room shook. Her eyes snapped open as she realised she really had felt the room shake. 

She saw Cat was rising off her, her lover was sprinting towards the bar. Confused Jasmin looked around and realised there was debris on the floor and smoke in the air. She looked towards the entrance and saw the big wooden door had almost been blown off its hinges. Masked men in combat fatigues were charging into the room with guns. One of the men shot at Cat's lover as he propelled himself over the bar, the rounds raking gouges in the wall as he flew behind the bar and vanished. Cat had also disappeared around the corner and Jasmin looked on in confusion. One of the masked men turned to her pointing his rifle in her face.

"WHO ARE YOU?" the masked man screamed at her. She couldn't answer, she was frozen in fear. She stuttered an answer as the gunman braced the rifle into his shoulder as if about to fire. A red mist erupted from the side of his head and he fell to the floor. The other three men who had been looking towards her all started to turn. They fell to the ground in turn, dead before they had even brought their guns to bear. Jasmin looked over to the bar where the Capsuleer stood with a smoking pistol.

"Time to go?" Cat asked from somewhere behind her. Jasmin spun her head and saw her emerge from the other room with a large bag in one hand and a gun in the other.

"What about her?" the man asked.

"We cannot leave her. They'll be more of them coming. If they grab her they'll spend hours squeezing everything she knows out of her and when they get bored, they'll kill her."

"OK Jasmin, guess that means you are coming with us!"

Jasmin was about to protest when Cat raised her gun and fired once. During the action she never took her calming eyes off Jasmin's. There was a thud and a masked man fell through the hole that had been blasted in the door. She'd hit him in the centre of the forehead without even looking. Jasmin had read about Capsuleers in school. They had the implants that increased their perception far and above that of a normal human.

"I'm serious." Cat said still looking into Jasmin's eyes. "These men will capture you, torture you and then kill you for simply talking to us. You need to come with us if you want to live."

She held out a hand and Jasmin took it as the thunderous sound of running boots grew louder. The two capsuleers raised their guns towards the door, shielding Jasmin behind them.

.... to be concluded....

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Now That The Boys of Somer Have Gone

At the weekend, the brown smelly stuff hit the fan. SomerBlink, the Eve Online 3rd party lottery site started offering a deal. If you bought a Eve Time Code from a specific reseller they would buy that PLEX off you for ISK. Not a problem, but.... and its a massive but....

.....they would give you more ISK than it was worth in-game.

Basically this was seen as Real Money Trading (RMT) by many parts of the community and many of the CSM. There appears to be some confusion over if this is RMT with many players saying "Its just the same as buying a PLEX from CCP and selling it on the market".

Its not, but it does get very complicated. If you really want to read the ins-and-outs try here or here or here.

Basically Somer was giving ISK and receiving RL money in return, and this is what upset many players and broke the rules. You can legally 'buy' ISK within the specific rules (buy PLEX from CCP or authorised ETC reseller, put PLEX on in-game market), but you can never 'sell' ISK which is what Somer was doing in a roundabout way.

CCP is looking into it, with CCP Falcon living on ProPlus tablets and Red Bull I'm guessing given the hours he'd been pulling this week! 

However, it appears SomerBlink have thrown the teddies from the pram and are closing down the site before any final decision is reached. Relax, it appears they will be refunding players wallets and honouring ships you still have left to claim etc.

What this does do is bring the monetisation of Eve into the spotlight. Many people make money from Eve and I guess, sort of, I am one. As an official Fansite I get a free account and usually a free Fanfest ticket. OK I'm not actually receiving "payment" officially but I am getting stuffz for free that I would normally pay for. Therefore I am better off running this blog than not.

Take the As I recall they get 300,000 visits a month. With the adverts they run I'm sure Mittens can afford a luxury Dr Evil chair or two in his Man Cave for plotting hideous plans for the residents of New Eden.

However these are all within the rules. Selling ISK isn't even if you do it in a very roundabout way.

Of course this isn't the first time Somer has been embroiled in controversy. Last year there were calls of favouritism when CCP gave something like 30 Ishukone Watch Scorpions to Somer.

I think Poetic Stanziel put it best. "Its like the local casino sponsoring the football team and then City Hall giving their staff a free car to say thank you."

Approximately one year later and here we are again.

Now what does the future hold?

To be honest I never used Somer. I'm not a big gambling man. I work with statistics so to me gambling is just a bit silly. If you have the odd flutter you could walk away with more than you put in. However, if you use it all the time then in the end the law of statistics means you will lose more than you put in. Thats how all lotteries and casinos work. Not everyone can be a winner and over time you will end up with the house rate.

I guess we'll see either Somer back or a new Somer-like service run by others. There is no doubting that Somer was successful and made a stupid amount of ISK. As long as the new site doesn't try to convert that ISK to Dollars, Pounds, Euros or gold bullion they should do very well.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Eve as an eSport?

The Alliance Tournament is in full swing. I'm watching the odd match. A monthly bandwidth limit is not conducive to streaming video. However I am hopping onto Twitch once every so often to catch some of the "excitement".

I was watching a match over the weekend when I realised I wasn't actually looking at any spaceships.... and this is the thing. Is combat in Eve Online fun to watch for an external observer?

We have a big problem with our beloved game and that problem is space. You see, "Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist's, but that's just peanuts to space."

Douglas Adams quotes aside, this is a major issue. The arena used in AT12 is 125km radius around a central beacon. That is shade under a whopping 8.2 MILLION cubic kilometres in volume. I hope I've done my maths right there. 4/3 x pi x radius cubed right?

Now take the Worm. A popular ship this year from the few games I've seen. That is 16,500 cubic metres of important internet spaceship. Or to put it another way, its 1.65 × 10^-5 cubic kilometres. Which is 0.0000165 cubic kilometres. More depressingly, you can fit 495,580,808,080.81 Worms inside the tournament arena. Obviously uber Tetris skill would be needed to accomplish that!

Space is huge and each ship is a speck in the arena. Its a tiny blip. Now you might have a lot of tiny blips, but they are in the end just tiny blips.

Now what are these tiny blips doing? They are firing missiles, guns or "layyyyysors" at each other, OK we can see that. However, what about eWar? The effects in game are good when you are focusing on your ship. NoS and neuts, webs, target painters etc. All nice visuals when you are focused closed in to the ship. Zoomed out, you haven't a clue. In the Alliance Tournament you spent more time looking at the graphics in the bottom panel to see how people are doing and what effects are being applied. You soon are spending more time looking at the bottom panel than the "action" above.

Before you know it, you are totally focused on that bottom panel....

And ladies and gentlemen, we are back to proper Eve Online....

You are excitedly looking at a spreadsheet in space!

Basically nobody but an Eve Online player is going to enjoy the AT. You put that on in a bar and some people might be initially interested in what this is. For 60 seconds. Then they realise space is big and dark and then only way to find out whats going on is to watch the bottom panel and then you are watching Spreadsheet Sports!

Now, the 100 billion ISK question. Can we make Eve Online Tournaments fun to watch for non-Eve Online players?

Lets have a look at popular eSports games. DOTA2, LOL, Starcraft and Counterstrike:-

Yeah.... Eve is Eve and I'm not sure it can ever show that level of detail in a eSports format. I wish I could come up with some good ideas to make Eve more visually interesting and informative to watchers, but I cannot. I've had a good think and I have no idea how things could be changed to make Eve an interesting spectator sport. Anyone got any good ideas how Eve could be done as a proper eSport? No?

Shame as it would be a great marketing tool to draw new players in. For now I fear it is only for Eve Online fans and for non-players it only reinforces the negative views of Eve Online.

Spreadsheets in space.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

SCASSSS - AT12 Teaser

Erm.... interesting teaser trailer. A bit.... erm.... different?

Friday, August 15, 2014

Choices - Part 2

Fiction Friday! Escape pod here!

Choices - Part 2

Deltes stumbled into the next corridor feeling sick. He'd killed that unknown man and now one of his own friends. He had saved his brothers life and that of another friend, but he still had flicked the switch to choose between them. He knew this sick bastard had more in store for him. The white arrows painted on the floor ran down the dirty corridor and vanished under another door. Rather than following them, he tried the other doors along the corridor. All were locked and barricaded. The person running the show obviously had taken his time in setting this up. It appeared that the only way through was to follow the trail laid out for him. Reluctantly Deltes followed the arrows into the next room.

Inside the room, two women were secured to large wooden chairs. They both started to scream as Deltes entered. He recognised both at once. One was an ex-girlfriend, Jana. They had dated for nearly a year and broken up just before he met Josvis, however the split had been amicable and they'd remained friends. The other woman was his supervisor at work. Both young, attractive women, were fastened to the chairs with what appeared to be shower heads above them. The white circle was painted on the floor again as well as the console. Clear pipes ran from the shower-heads to a small tank mounted on the ceiling, it was filled with some kind of liquid.

"This one is more interesting Deltes. Lets see your thought-process here. When the timer hits zero acid will be released from the tank above. It will rain down on the two women. Given that they'll share the entire tank between them, they are both likely to survive. That amount, when split equally, is unlikely to kill them. They will be horribly disfigured, probably blinded and the pain will be immense. However, they will both live. You can use the console to divert the flow to just one of them. A full tank dumped over one person will likely be fatal, but the other will be totally unharmed and free to go once you complete the course. So what will you do?"

Deltes looked at the timer as it started to tick down from thirty seconds. He screamed in rage and frustration. The two women were thrashing in their bonds, their wide eyes pleading with him to divert the acid to the other. He didn't know what to do. The three options he had were unthinkable. Killing either of them was not a choice he could make, but what would their lives be if he didn't act. He was paralysed, unable to move. A subtle click above signified time was up. Deltes stood rigid as he watched the amber liquid slowly move through the clear pipes above their heads.

The two women were screaming as hard as they could. As the acid finally erupted from the shower heads above them the screaming went up an octave.

Deltes was frozen as he watched the acid do its work. The women's heads went bright red as the skin bubbled and blistered. Hair fell out in clumps as the acid ate into their scalps. After a few seconds they both passed out, their bald, featureless heads a mass of red sores.

Deltes bent over and was sick on the floor.

"Mmmmmm interesting, very interesting. Wouldn't make a choice there? Wouldn't condemn one to death to save the other the pain? Anyway only two more to go." the voice cheerfully boomed over the speakers.

"NO! No more!" Deltes yelled. "I'm not playing your sick game any more. Kill me here if you want but I'm not leaving this room just so you can torture and kill more innocent people!"

"Oh, that is a disappointment. I suppose I could always make the decision... for your Josvis."

Deltes dropped to his knees and sobbed. The maniac had his wife.

"So are you going to complete the last two rooms?"

Deltes stood refusing to answer. Still sobbing, he walked to the next door.

He flung the door open. His wife was not there, it was his sister and her son. They were stood within the usual circle with their arms tied above their heads, stretched towards the roof. Their ankles were similarly fixed to a large metal ring in the floor.

"Now we are getting to the very difficult levels Deltes. Your emotional attachment must be greatest for your sister correct? However, your nephew is only an innocent child, with his whole life in front of him. How do you chose between your sister, your own flesh and blood, and that of a child relative you don't know as well? The chains on their arms are connected to powerful motors on the next level. These winches can lift 25 tons. As you can imagine, there is no way a human body can take that pull."

Deltes looked at the counter, it was dropping from 45 seconds. He locked eyes with his sister, she looked terrified but nodded down to her son. He knew what she wanted, what any mother would want. The question was could he do it? His sister and he had been close until she married young and moved away. He'd only seen his nephew a dozen times or so, barely once a year that he'd been alive.

He looked at the console, 20 seconds left.

"15 seconds Deltes. Unless you flick the switch, they both will die."

He looked at his sister again, she looked calm now. Her blue eyes penetrated his soul. She calmly nodded for him to do it. With a sob Deltes flicked the switch to save the boy. His sister smiled at him, a tear running down her cheek. The counter struck zero and a motor could be heard staring up. There was a rattle of chains and his sister was lifted off the floor as the chains around her arms rose. The chains wrapped around her ankles and calves pulled tight and she jerked to a stop. She started to scream behind the gag. Deltes could tell the chains were pulling on her. There was a slight movement in the top chain as it pulled on her limbs. Popping sounds echoed around the room as her joints gave way followed by a ripping sound as her shoulders tore. Skin stretched before tearing. Her body fell to the floor whilst her two severed arms were raised slowly to the ceiling still tethered to the chain. She thrashed around for a few seconds as her stumps pumped jets of bright red blood onto the floor in large arcs. Less than a minute later she was still.

"Oh, disappointing. I was hoping the one you chose would tear in the middle. That would have been more dramatic. Anyway, your wife is waiting for you Deltes. Last room. Chop, chop!"

Deltes raced out of the room. His heart stopped as he saw the white arrows vanish behind a heavy metal door down the corridor.


Deltes took a deep breath and opened the door. He sobbed as he saw the scene in front of him. The room was an observation room looking into another room, some sort of air-tight laboratory by the look of it. In that room was a single person. His wife was chained in the middle of the room. She was stood with her arms and legs spread out, the chains pulled tight to the ceiling and floor. She had been stripped to her underwear. In one corner there appeared to be stacked medical equipment and some sort of humanoid drone that was powered down.

"Welcome to our final experiment Deltes. Here is where I hope to understand your thought process that night. Why did you choose not to save my wife and son?"

Deltes finally made the connection. It was the him. The husband of the woman and the father of the child he couldn't save in the crash.

"I didn't choose!" screamed Deltes. "I just acted on instinct! I didn't know there was a child in the other car!"

"Well lets see what your instincts tell you here. When the countdown reaches zero two gases will be released into the chamber unless you act. The first is a high pressure sulphur-plasmatic gas. Very nasty, attacks human flesh like concentrated acid. I have read reports of workers who have been killed by this gas, oh its a very nasty way to go. Certainly not a fast and painless death. Did you know that victims eyelids are usually eaten through before they die meaning they actually feel their eyeballs being slowly dissolved by the gas. Very nasty. Anyway, there is a life monitor in the room monitoring your wifes vital signs. As soon as she flat-lines, and the gas will kill her, the medical drone there will activate. The room has high-capacity extractor fans, the gas will be extracted and the drone will perform an emergency c-section on your wife. As you can see we have an incubator and everything needed to give your baby every chance at survival. Also all the doors will unlock and you'll find an exit at the back of the room and your belongings in a bag on the fire escape. Your datapad is there so you can call the police and medical services too. However there is a problem, there is another gas to be released as well. Pakkon III 'Childbane' Gas is a very strange marsh gas from the planet Pakkon III, obviously. It will make your wife feel sick and dizzy. However, to the unborn, the gas is deadly. Within two minutes of your wife breathing it in, the chemicals she absorbed from the gas will react with the fluid surrounding the baby. It reacts with the proteins and turns the fluid highly acidic. It will kill your unborn child in a matter of minutes. Your wife will also be rendered infertile and she'll never be able to have children again as the acidic liquid attacks her sensitive reproductive system from the inside. Don't worry, she will survive, there may be some pain, but nothing too bad. So, there you go. Make your choice. Save your baby and kill your wife, or kill your baby and be left with a sterile wife. Of course you could take no action and watch them both slowly die."

Deltes screamed in rage, the clock started ticking down from 60 seconds, the longest yet he'd had to decide. Obviously chosen to draw out the time he had to agonise over his choice. He looked through the glass at his wife. She gave a sad smile and mouthed the words "Save the baby". Deltes grabbed his hair in frustration and screamed again.

"No! I will not play this sick game."

He looked around quickly noting the valves in the gas room and the controls in front of him.

"You have choices... choose!" the voice boomed.

Deltes grabbed the switch and pulled hard, ripping the poorly secured plate from the console.

"No! STOP! I'll.... I'll release the gas!" the voice stammered through the speakers.

Deltes flipped the plate over and started pulling the wires free.

"I'm betting you won't. There isn't enough wires on those valves, I can see them. You got sloppy and rushed. You assumed I'd make a choice and not simply rip your shit up. Well asshat, here is option four. I break the circuits to those valves and then you come down here and we discuss how I'm going to kill you!"

There was silence. For Deltes it felt like an eternity however it was only 20 seconds.

"Thinking about it, I'll take option 5. Active the medical drone and then deactivate it when its half-way through the c-section. Then you can watch them both die!"

Deltes span around and saw the indicators light up on the drones head. It was booting up. He ran to the glass door that separated the observation room from the gas-room and started kicking it. The drone lifted its head, it was coming online. He grabbed a section of pipe that was leaning against the wall and started pounding on the glass door. The glass was heavily reinforced and he wasn't making much headway. It cracked but showed no signs of breaking fully. The drone stood slowly and then held still for a few seconds, still going through the start-up procedure. Deltes looked around in a panic and saw a line of rusted gas cylinders at the back of the room. Obviously used for whatever this chambers original use was.

"CreoDron Medical Assistant Class AA42 Online. Activating program 87c. Expectant mother deceased. Unborn child in danger. Emergency C-Section and incubation. Program loaded. Executing." the drone stated in its robotic voice.

As the drone started to walk over to Josvis, Deltes grabbed one of the large rusting cylinders and quickly laid it flat on the floor. He took his section of pipe and raised it above his head. He brought the pipe crashing down on the valve which sheared off. A ear-splitting hiss filled the room as the cylinder took flight and hit the centre of the door, smashing the glass into fragments. Deltes ran through the broken door and launched at the drone as it extended an arm with a lit laser scalpel towards his wife's bulging belly. He heard his wife scream in pain and terror a second before he crashed into the drone sending them both flying into the wall. He kicked the drone off him and brought the section of pipe crashing down on the top of its head. Sparks flew and a thin wisp of smoke rose from the cavity in the white plastic. It slumped face down on the floor.

Deltes spun around to his sobbing wife. A gash in her belly was bleeding. He ran over and sunk to his knees.

"The baby!" his wife sobbed.

"Its OK" guy said choking on his emotions "Its not that deep. Its a scratch. We're all going to be fine."


The police and ambulance services arrived within minutes of Deltes making the call. The person who had put them through this was right, his belongings including his datapad were just outside the exterior door.

Josvis was taken to hospital as a precaution and Deltes spent several hours down the local police station. He explained that he believed it to be the husband and father of the woman and child he was unable to save in the crash. A few basic checks by the police proved him right. The lease on the warehouse, the purchase of the gases and machinery. The perpetrator didn't even try to hide it.

Checking the traffic control logs they had tracked a small shuttle that had left the warehouse to a remote private residence. As the police advanced on the residence the building went up in flames. A charred corpse was found inside and it was deemed the suspect had killed himself. The whole process went from opening the case to closing it within 24 hours. By the next day Deltes and his wife were back home.

"Do you think you could ever do anything like that? I mean if something happened to me and junior?" Josvis asked as she rested her head on Deltes' lap that night.

"I'd like to say no." he replied "However, if I lost you and the baby, well I might lose my mind as well. Lets make sure it never comes to that. Do you want anything?"

"A juice?" she replied.

He gently stoked her head and slipped out from under her head. In the kitchen he grabbed a glass and opened the fridge. The scream chilled his blood. He dropped the glass which shattered loudly on the stone tiles. He dashed back to the living room. His wife was standing in the corner facing him, someone was behind her with his arm around her neck and a long wide-bladed carving knife in his other hand, pointed at her pregnant belly.

"So Deltes, we have to do this the hard way!"

Deltes recognised the voice immediately. He hadn't burnt to death in the fire at his home. It was a decoy.

"Please, let her go. Its me that you want."

"No Deltes" the man hissed "Its you that I want... to know loss!"

With that the man plunged the blade into Josvis' belly to the hilt and let her drop screaming to the floor. Deltes reached into the back of his pants and the man's face dropped as he produced a pistol.

"Frack you!" was Deltes' simple statement as he fired the pistol repeatedly, the hybrid rounds slamming into the man's chest making bloody craters. The man's body slumped against the wall and slid down, leaving a red streak behind. Deltes rushed to his wife's side. Blood soaked her robe where the knife hilt protruded and she was gasping for breath.


One Year Later...

Deltes stood on the hillside beside the twin graves. One substantially smaller than the other. He bent and lay a single white lily on each one and took a step back. The view here was breathtaking. The rolling hills above the city of New Fontette giving mourners a place to grieve and yet also a place to look to the future. He looked down at the graves one last time and turned to leave.

His wife was at the edge of the plot waiting for him. She lazily bounced the stroller. She smiled as he returned.

"You OK?" she asked.

He nodded and returned a strained smile. Deltes looked into the pram, his son was asleep. The scar above his right eye was clearly visible and would be that way until he was a teenager and the doctors could do an effective skin graft. The knife that the mad-man had plunged into his wife's swollen belly had only grazed him. The attack had put his wife straight into labour and she had given birth there and then on the floor of their house. Deltes had delivered his own child, a 7.8lbs son, healthy, other than the gash to the head.

Deltes had put six high calibre rounds into the attacker and he'd died instantly. The gun which Deltes had bought the day of the attack before collecting his wife from the hospital was licensed and given the preceding 48 hours it was deemed justifiable home defence. No charges were brought.

"Do you ever think what would have happened if you'd have saved those two instead?" his wife asked nodding towards the graves of the mother and son Deltes had just laid the lily's on.

"What is done is done. Thinking about that decision drove their husband and father mad. I'd rather not go that way."

"Shall be go home?" his wife asked.

Deltes put his arm around her and they slowly walked out of the cemetery pushing the pram together.