Sunday, November 30, 2014

In a Relic Site

It's Thanksgiving weekend.  Lots of people playing EVE, including lots of newbs.  I am in wspace as normal, and I've been neglecting things here a bit while I answer questions.   Time for a roam.

I set off up into our C5 static, but nothing is doing there.  There's no incident wormholes, just its static.  So I don't open the far static.  Instead, I run small sites, raking in 60m ISK in about a half hour including scanning.  Not bad.  Now down into C4b.

C4b is also empty, and with no wormholes except its statics, it also seems likely to be zipped.  OK, I'll run small sites here, too.  I clean out four gas sites and one ore anom, getting lucky on nanoribbons this time for 90m ISK.  Then I head back home to get back into my Manticore, and return to C4a to explore its C2 and C5 connections.  I try the C2 first, under the general theory that lower in wspace I am more likely to find easy kills.  Thanks are due CCP for putting in nullsec data and relic sites into C1/C2/C3.  These are great places to look for ganks.

C2a, like the two previous systems, feels disused.  My first clue is no towers or ships on dscan.  The second clue is the pile of 20 sigs.  There are also 10 anoms; not that many given so many sigs.  Now I warp around to see an outer planet.  No tower or ships: that's my third clue.  Also a check of the system in tripwire shows that is has lowsec/C2 statics; not as desirable as a highsec.

I think I have a backwater system here, perhaps untouched for days; that's my strong intuition.  More than one of those sigs are going to be data/relic sites that I can solo.  So, before doing anything further, I head back home to get my exploration Buzzard.  Not only can it run the sites (with both relic and data analyzer IIs), it scans considerably faster too.  I scan in C4a and C4b on the way home, and back.  No activity.  Good.

I return to C2a, fire probes, and start scanning.  After some considerable time, I find a fourth clue: this system has piled up a large number of those nullsec data/relic sites.  In fact, there are ten of them (!), and also two sleeper data sites.  There are also, unfortunately, a large number of wormholes: five of them, plus the one I entered through.  So there is some risk in hacking.  But I figure it is worth the risk, especially if I cherry-pick.  And also if I cache loot.  (The remaining sigs are gas sites.)

I head into each site, scanning cans to see what's there.  Two of the data sites have an augmented decryptor, so I go ahead and do the better cans there.  Many of the relic sites have decent tech II salvage, and I run four of them.  Each time I get more than 10m ISK or so, I run out to a safespot I make in the outer system, to dump all the loot in a jetcan.  If I get killed, at least I won't lose most of the loot.  I don't get killed.  And... it's almost dinner time in the real world.  So that is enough.  I head back home to J213139, 150m ISK worth of salvage and other stuff aboard.  Bye EVE, for now.

And... back!  Food heated, family fed, things said, time's fled, The Boy abed.  Now time for some hunting.  I head into C5 just for a look, including popping out into nullsec on the off chance I can find anyone there.  I don't.  I am eager to head back to C2a... with all those exploration sites.  The six I ran will be gone, but the four I passed on should still be there.  I've got the stuff I want out of there.  Now I want to open it up, get explorers in, and kill them.  Time to fly to those five wormholes.

All of the wormholes are outgoing.  One is the lowsec static, one is a small wormhole to C2, and the other three are connections to C2.  I sense a trend.  I guess that just as exploration sites have dead-ended here, so have random wormholes.  Interesting pattern.

I head into lowsec first.  It's a faction warfare system in Minmatar control, evidently.  That's not likely to attract many explorers.  Then into C2b, C2c, and C2d.  None of them are very promising.  Towers in each, nobody home, no probes, and nothing obvious going on.  Sigh.

I head back into C2a, and run out of steam.  I think I'll just sit here, in the inner system, where I can dscan to all of the sites that are left.  And I will join rookie chat and answer questions.

I join rookie chat.  2600+... yeah, I think they may need me.  Anyway, I get some good answers in.  One guy has a devil of a problem: he has no money to speak of, and he bought PLEX, but he cannot sell them because the taxes are too high.  (Evidently, a sale is not permitted if you cannot pay the tax up front?  Seems strange to me.  But that was his report.)  Anyway, I PM him and give him 10m ISK to allow the transaction to work... and it gets strange from there.  But that's another story.  He eventually gets it done and pays me back.  Ah, not scammed by a rookie.

I am occasionally dscanning in C2a, not finding anything.

More than one question of "how do I make ISK fastest"?  That's a real good question, one I don't really have a solid answer to.  The boilerplate is "mining, running missions, ratting, factional warfare".  I have the feeling too many of them are going to go mine, and that's not really what they want to do, but they know how, it's there.  I think CCP should have a faction warfare mission in the advanced military sequence, where you have to go to a complex, fight a rat, spin a button for 15 minutes, and get bacon.  Maybe have a second more powerful rat warp in on you.  That would give newbs a taste of it and enough familiarity to hopefully try it out.

Anyway, the night is getting on.  It's 11:15, and I'll be leaving EVE in a half an hour or so for bed.  And what to my wondering eyes should appear, in C2a, but probes.  Mmm.  Well, probes don't necessarily mean anything.  But they might.  I keep more than half an eye on the dscan.  I answer more questions.

Then I see a Probe.  It has a character's name on it... hmm, could be a rookie.  Should I kill a rookie?  Well, yes.  I should.  I try to find it with dscan, but it is nowhere I can determine.  Then it cloaks.  The probes are still out there, so: patience.  More questions.

Now I see the Probe again.  I narrow it down to fifteen degrees on dscan, but it's in no known site.  I have the feeling he is in a site, since he is not cloaked for a long time.  But it must be a site that spawned since I was scanning.  I could warp to the outer planet, launch probes and attempt to scan him down.  But, I already know of other sites, and there is a chance that I'll blow it scanning, and he always has his chance to see probes.  So, not a good idea.  I'll wait.  He'll get to another site eventually.

He finishes, then drops off my narrowed dscan.  I widen it to full, and he's still uncloaked... probably moving to another site.  I once again narrow it down, and this time, he is in a site I scanned earlier.  Ha!  Go time.

I warp to the site at 10km.  It's one with widely-spaced cans, all of which are quite far from the warp-in.  The Probe is at a can about 70km from me, hacking it.

I start moving back to get a perch, but that will take too long.  Instead, I spin around the view to the opposite direction of the cans.  There's a handy planet there in just the right direction, 3 AU from me.  Perfect for making a perch.  I warp to it at 100km, then back to the data site, again at 100km.  Now I end up more than 150km from each of the cans.  Perfect.  I make a bookmark.
At my perch.

The Probe is approaching the most distant can, 200+ km from me.  I can see him scanning it.  I am ready to warp as soon as the overview indicates he is hacking it.  But... he doesn't hack it.  Uh oh.  I guess he is being selective, just as I was earlier, and this is a crappy can.  OK, I will wait.  There will be another can.

He moves off toward another can.  Microwarping, from the looks of it.  I consider warping to the can to attack as he arrives, but I'd really rather attack him when he has the minigame up.  He has several more cans to try, so I will wait.

There is time for me to kill.  I check out the character I am stalking to see if he's a newb.

The target is old.

He's not new.  In fact he is two years older than I am.  Good.  No qualms about killing and podding him, then.  (What's he doing in a Probe?)

He finally gets to the can he's headed to.  Again I see him cargo scan.  This can, though, he tries to open.

I warp in at 10km.  He is circling the can, and I end up about 13000m from him, but he is heading toward me.
At the can.

I approach him, then uncloak and start firing.  My lock completes.  He's pinned!  He heads away from me.  My torps hit: shields down.  He heads away from me, but he cannot microwarp, and apparently does not have an afterburner.  The range stays at about 4500m.  His ship is little or no faster.  A second volley: shields wiped, armor almost down.  A third: deep structure.  And zoom!  He warps.

WHAT?  Oh.  He must have had warp core stabilizers; that's why he had to cargo scan from so close.  A good trick... I might think about it for my Buzzard.  I dunno.  It's nice to cargo scan from afar, but it's also nice to thwart gankers.

Oh well.  Live and learn.  Time to go to bed.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Chatting with Newbies

There's been a huge influx of newbs into EVE following the release of the amazing new EVE trailer.  I've always wanted to give a little back to the community, and this seems like a good time for it.

So I spent a night doing nothing in EVE except talking.  I logged in, entered newbie chat, and answered questions solidly for three hours.  It's a surprisingly fun activity.  I start to get competitive with the other oldsters, seeing how fast I can type out a good answer that does not assume much knowledge.  Trying to pick up on questions that did not get answered.

There are a lot of newbies getting stuck in the training missions at one point or another.  Mostly, the volunteers in the channel talked them through all sorts of weird conditions that we'd never think of.  Like, the guy who had a blueprint in his hold and could not get it to work.  Lots of questions of "where are the asteroids?"  (Apparently they'd been mined out in the newb systems.)  Most of the questions about the missions I did not even try to answer, since I just don't know.  I should create a trial and see how those missions work these days.

It was other questions that I was able to help with.  All sorts of questions about EVE; things we take for granted.  How do you fly in space?  Can I move my ships sideways?  Can I move all my ships to a different station without flying back and forth?  How do you quit out of the game?  How do I get item X?  (The market is apparently a novel thing.)  Can I earn enough to buy a PLEX in 14 days?

Then there were some harder ones.  I finished the training missions; what do I do now?  What's a good corp to join?  How do I make ISK?  (That's a tough one.  Do I tell a newb to... mine??)

One guy in particular I remember.  He PMed me, then gradually worked out for himself (with me supplying answers), that he wanted to PVP and did not want to earn ISK in game, but could do it by PLEXing.  And that he could buy a character... he thought this was a bit pay-to-win, and it is at least pay-to-get-ahead... but as I told him, character skill is useful but player skill is what is most important.  You can't buy that.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

One Percent Moments

I was aware of EVE for years before I ever played it.  There were two things I read that really made me decide I wanted to try it.  If I recall correctly, both were comments by The Mittani, in some interview.  One of those comments was something to the effect of, 'EVE is incredibly boring 90% of the time; you're sitting watching a spinner complete a circle.  9% of the time, EVE is moderately interesting.  But then 1% of the time EVE is just insanely fun.'  (I really ought to dig that up.)

Speaking of those 1% moments, CCP made a new trailer.  It's pretty great.  It's EVE visuals mostly synthed up by CCP, with stirring music and real sound captures of players playing the game. It's these sound captures that are the focus of the video, and why it works so well. 

The game shown in the video is not the game I play for the most part; it's the nullsec fleet game.  (Hunting solo, I make no sound at all.)  Still, a lot of the fun of EVE -- a lot of those 1% moments -- are captured.  That bit at 3:20 is just how I feel when I get a kill, even a pitiful little Venture.  Yeah! yeah!! yeaaah!!!

[Update: the interview referred to above.  My memory is not 100% accurate, but close enough.]

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

What Are Wardecs? What Should They Be?

Sugar has a couple of posts up thinking about wardecs (onetwo).  In the minutes of the summer summit we see that CCP has discussed the issue with CSM, which is good, because wardecs currently are a bad game design.  I have my own ideas about what should be done, which I will probably record here.  (My longest explanation so far is in Sugar's comments.)  I have also been reading others' ideas and trying to synthesize the broad themes around wardecs.  Thus, this post.

Just so it is clear, I live in wspace, not highsec.  I have one character in my corp who could be affected by wardec: my Jita alt and freighter pilot.  If I got decced, I could simply not use him for a week, or I might drop corp with practically no loss of functionality.  So the wardec system has essentially no effect on me in my current game.  I feel I can be impartial.  I would love it if wardecs became a fun and interesting play mode.  (I feel the same way about null, actually.  Die blue donut.)

Wardec as Corruption and Crime

It seems the most common current explanation for wardecs is that they are a bribe to Concord to "look the other way" for a week.  Then you get to be a criminal without repercussion and kneecap weak players.  In this view Concord is inherently and totally corrupt.

This explanation works in the sense that it accounts for many of the features of wardec: you pay a fee (real wars don't have fees), it's good for a limited time, and it feels criminal because it is typically deployed to beat up weak corps.  On the losing end, wardecs suck, and that is how being a victim of corruption feels.

It makes very little sense in terms of the in-game reality (the "lore").  Has there ever been a government that has allowed open warfare in its domain?  (No.)  Have there been cops that one could bribe to allow mayhem in public?  (No.)  Will any public sit still while, lore-wise, thousands of people are being killed due to corruption?

Also, being the subject of a corrupt government is inherently unfair and generally unfun.  Fun game play is at some level fair, and current wardecs are deeply unfair in practice.  This is why people dock up or don't play for a week.  Thus, wardec as corruption does not seem to suggest any reform that would make a fun game play for most players.  A game mechanic is probably not going to be fun when it is based on corruption.

Wardec as Sport

Another view of wardecs is that they are a Concord-sanctioned form of sport for capsuleers.  Capsuleers pay a fee and then get to play war for a week.

This explanation has the virtue of aligning with the IRL reason for the feature.  That is, it really is sport for us players, designed by CCP, supposed to be fun.  In practice, it is not fun for the vast majority of the players.  This makes it a bad design, but the intent is obvious.

Lorewise, the criticisms of wardecs -- that they are unfun for either side most of the time -- apply even more here than for bribes.  Why does Concord push this awful "sport"?  Can't they think of anything that is more fun than being docked for a week?  And why do they call it a "war" if it is a game?

On the other hand, the sport metaphor does offer a way forward.  Sports by their nature are not fun unless they are fair.  My little league baseball team does not play the Orioles, and that is good because such a contest would be totally imbalanced to the point of absurdity.  Sports are highly segmented by ability, typically via both age and sex, in the attempt to level the playing field.  Also, sports are voluntary; they are opt-in affairs on both sides.

The suggestion of the sports metaphor is thus to make "leagues" of some kind, or more generally to require only "fair" wars, and/or to allow only consensual wars.  I disapprove of this -- EVE should be about real conflict, not staged -- but it is a redesign idea that makes sense in its way.  (Indeed, the game Clash of Clans, which several in my corp are playing, seems to have taken this metaphor for its warfare.)

One suggestion in this line that I do strongly support is Gevlon's idea to have "safe" corps.  These would be player-run corps that have the safety of an NPC corp.  They are taxed a little less than NPC corps, can't anchor POSes, and are immune to wardec.  It seems like this should be a relatively easy change to program.  It would, at a stroke, remove a lot of the whining about the current wardec system, because many (perhaps most) highsec corps are basically social clubs.  So there's big bang for the CCP programmer-buck.

Here's a further idea along the line of wardecs as sport.  I might suggest that all corps be assigned a power rating, as in chess.  (Here's wiki on the Elo rating system.)  Any war declared against a corp of sufficiently lower power rating could be declined by the would-be victim without penalty.  (Wars between relatively closely rated corps could not be declined.)  Either side could "resign" and halt the war (at the expense of losing) at any time.  The resolution of a war would have to be automatically generated, and a winner/loser/draw assignment made, and the power rating adjusted accordingly.  New corps should not be allowed to wardec until their average member time in corp was, say, two months.

Wardec as War

One other view of wardec is that they are (or should be), as the label says, wars.  That is, they are the ultima ratio regum, the "continuation of policy with other means".   This idea of wardec seems to be what most people want them to be, me included.  So it has that going for it.

On the other hand, wardecs as they currently exist are very little like war.  Corps are not sovereign in highsec; Concord is, and there is very little reason to suggest they have any interest in allowing wars to be fought there.  Also, Concord's in-game power (to stop gankers) is so far beyond that of capsuleers as to make any pretensions to kingship by the latter a joke.

Furthermore, wardec "wars" don't have many features of normal wars.  Normal wars do not require paying off a higher authority.  There is no higher authority.  Wars are never known to be finite in length.  They don't always involve a warning period.  And while they can end by negotiation, they often end by the unconditional surrender of a side when it is utterly destroyed.   And they are always about something: there is some question at issue or possession being contended for.

Wardecs as war is the explanation that least fits the reality of the existing game.  Nevertheless, this would be the explanation that I most favor CCP developing on.

Wardecs should be war, which is to say they should settle something.  There should be something at stake in every wardec, for both aggressor and aggressee.  And a war should, if won, have some meaningful outcome.  Wars should be unbounded in length, because we want the test of strength to actually happen and some resolution to occur.  And a successful war should make some change in the state of the game.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

An Ineffective Tengu

The weekend.  The cat will play.  Let's see what's up in EVEland.

I log in, and I know nothing beyond my home system.  I am zipped up, probably.  Likely.  Almost certain.  But that can be rectified.  I am already in my hunting Manticore.  I'll search down the three new sigs.  One is my static C4.  The others are yet to be determined.

I determine them to be one gas and one radar site.  Hmm.  Well, since I am zipped -- probably -- this might be a good time to earn a bit of ISK.  So I activate the gas (a frontier site), then warp to my home POS and get in my small-site Tengu.  I wait around a while doing other stuff.  Finally I warp in to the site and... nothing is there.  I'll sit.  After five minutes, finally some sleepers appear.  I kill them, and the reinforcements that appear too.  My mobile tractor is grabbing all the wrecks, and my one salvager is grinding them.  All done now.  30m ISK richer, and now it is time to hunt.

I don't want to open my C5 now.  So I'll head into the C4 and see what's there.  I warp to the wormhole, bookmark it, and jump.  Then I bookmark the far side, and attend to the dscan.

Nothing much.  I am near an outer planet, though.  The center system, I can see.  But one of the planets is out of range.  I check the sigs: just three.  That will be my entrance wormhole, a K162, and the two statics of this system.  Also, there are no anoms except for one ore site.  This system looks lived in.

I move away from the wormhole, launching probes.  Then I throw the probes out of the system, cloak and decide what to do.

The ore site is near to the planet I cannot see, so I warp to it instead of the planet.  You never know when you might find miners mining.  As I cross the inner system, I dscan.  Lo and behold: two Retrievers.  I think I have found miners mining! 

I land on grid in the ore site.  Sure enough, about 40km from me are the two Retrievers fairly close together, mining into jetcans it appears.  They've each got a full flight of mining drones out.  The discovery scanner is ticking, so I head straight at them.  I think I can get there faster than bouncing.  It should be only a minute, then I'll have them.

One of them moves.  Did they both move?  Uh oh.  The first one's drones are coming back to it.  I think they saw my sig.  Curse you discovery scanner!

I redirect slightly to head at the second.  If I am lucky, he is AFK or not paying attention to his corp chat, and I can still get him.  But now his drones are returning too.  I am still 30km away.  The first Retriever warps off.

Desperate, I uncloak and hit my microwarp.  My hope is to cross the remaining 22km fast enough to get in range to scramble the remaining miner.  I lock, and open up on him... but the torpedoes never hit.  He warps too.


I cloak, then fly to the nearby planet.  I'll search down the moon they are at, and see what they do next.  There are four tower, including two towers with ships at them, both with bubbles at them.  From the Cyrillic, it appears they are Russians.  I don't like the look of those bubbles, always fearing decloak traps.  So I won't get on grid yet.  I'll just wait a bit to see if they go back to business as usual.  (It's crazy, but sometimes people do.)

Instead I see two Scorpions appear.   Uh oh.  I think they plan to pop my wormhole.  I fly to it and look for probes... but there are no probes.  Strange.  Have they had time to scan it already?  After a while of sitting and no probes, I warp back to check on the enemy.

No change.  I think I'll scan.  I rapidly resolve the two sigs, which are both near the enemy planet.  I assume they will see this, which may dissuade them from trying to pop my wormhole.  Two statics bookmarked, I hide my probes again.  Then I set to finding their towers.  They are at moons 2 and 3.  I warp to these moons from the C3 static, which is above the planet in absolute space-directions.  (Always warp into potential traps from the most unexpected possible direction.)  The decloak traps turn out not to be.  Each tower just has an anchored bubble.  I don't hit it at either moon.  Neither bubble seems very helpfully placed.  Whatever.

Now I can see that the Scorpions are empty.  There is also one empty Retriever, and an empty Iteron V.  There's a manned covert ops, though, so I take another trip back to my wormhole to see if they are scanning.

They are not.  Weird.

When I warp back to the one of the towers, I can see a new Tengu on scan.  Also, there are two Iteron Vs on scan, not one.  Neither are at this tower.  So I warp to the other tower.  There's one Itty V here.

Where is the other?  I point my scan at the ore anom... yes, there it is.  It seems they want their jetcans back.  I once again warp to the site at 10km
A Miasmos is better for this.
Again I land about 40km from the jetcans.  The Iteron is next to the cans, no surprise there.  I head towards it.  This time there is no hurry.  The Iteron picks up one can completely.  There are six more cans near it, and a bit further away another three jetcans.  My guess is they are full, and an Iteron maxxes out at less than two jetcans worth of stuff.  So, it will have to take multiple trips.

The Iteron turns, and warps to the Russian planet.  I continue getting in range of the cans he was at.  I figure he'll be back.  Meanwhile, I determine the range to the planet -- 3.2 AU.  I set my dscan to 3 AU, so that I can see if anything is coming.

I am mindful that this may be a trap.  But there's only one way to find that out, and I feel the risk is worth it here.  Their listless response to my presence so far does not suggest they have much of a plan.

Just as I get into position about 8 km "up" from the jetcans, I see a Tengu on scan.  Ah.  It is a trap!  But I am aware of it.  I see the Tengu landing on grid.  It lands about 40km from me -- it must be back at the warp in.  It disappears.  It evidently has a cloak.  So they are trying to bait me, or just to fly cover.  But they screwed up.  The Tengu is not close enough to scramble or even disrupt me.  Nor can it lock me fast enough.   I am going for it when the Itty gets back.

And there it comes, gliding on grid.  170km, then 40, and 10.   It has returned to the same cans, and I am poised 7km off.  Normally an easy kill, but with the Tengu this may become interesting.

I uncloak, and start locking the Iteron.  And... it's locked.  I see the Tengu uncloak.  The Iteron is dying, and boom.  Gone.  I am still not locked, so I try to lock the pod.  I almost get it... and I see the redbox appear.  Ok, I am warping.  (The pod escapes.)  I wonder if a volley of the Tengu's heavy missiles can kill me.  I doubt it, especially after the recent hitpoint buff.  The question is not tested.  The missiles never hit.  I warp.

I bounce and immediately return to the site, but it's quiet.  They may or may not try for the rest of their cans soon, but I am not going to take another shot at it.  They may well succeed at trapping me.

I set off down into C3.  I find some nice nullsec-style data/relic sites.  I pass back through to get my hacking Buzzard.  The Russians are not in evidence.  So I visit the wreck and get the single cargohold expander off it.  Phat lewt!  I get my Buzzard then I score some actual nice loot in C3, and return.

This time I see the Russian Scorpions manned.  They are popping my wormhole, finally.  I skedaddle back in, and watch as they finish the job.  Bye, guys.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

New Wspace in Rhea

There's a new dev blog up revealing the new systems that will be added to wspace in Rhea.  You've probably already heard of Thera, a giant system with NPC stations.  

In addition there will be another 100 "shattered" systems, with no moons (no POSes!) and shattered planets (no PI).  (I wonder if CCP read my proposal to have moonless wspace systems.)  Also they'll have permanent asteroids, and ice anoms!  Hmm.  All will get one more static than is normal for a system of their level, and it will go to kspace.  So two or three statics each.

Of the 100 shattered systems, 75 will be normal systems in terms of their effects and access.  Another 25 systems will have only small wormholes as access: that is, you can only get in frigates, destroyers, and heavy interdictors.  Also, each of the small systems will have C6 wolf-rayet effect, namely, armor good, shields bad, small weapons really amped up, small signature.  

Will this affect my game?  Perhaps a little.  I don't really envision doing mining much at all; it's just not lucrative enough.  (And if I wanted to mine rocks, I can mine in my own system.)  Ice-mining, maybe.  (Though which kind of ice will there be?  I want Minmatar ice, whatever it is, to make fuel from.)  With no local POSes, I'd guess they will be anom graveyards.  So, there should good site running there.  

In any case, I don't see carebearing in them except in a zipped system.  That's asking for gank.  The extra static will make them harder to zip up, but it should be doable.

There are currently 2498 wspace systems.  Given 100 more, this gives a roughly 1 in 26 chance that any particular new connection connects to one of them.  So from moonful wspace, we should get a direct connection to a shattered system approximately once per month for most systems, or twice per month for C4s like mine.  Then we'll see.  

I think the strongest effect may be on hunting.  The chance of any particular connection leading to a shattered system is 1 in 26.  But let's say you look at 10 systems each night.  (I typically connect to at least this many.)  Then the chance to find a shattered system is about 32%!  So I'll be seeing them fairly frequently.  They seem like good places to hunt.  Indeed they seem like good places to go on safari.  

Am I excited?  No.  Maybe a little bit.  Still, it's good to see CCP adding new content.  These may not be for me, right now, but they might be places I'll get to eventually.  

I'd love to see a Hutt Enterprises Inc. form, and dominate Thera to be run as a freeport.  All non-combat ships NRDS.  

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Nerf Awoxing in Highsec

Evidently CCP has discussed nerfing highsec awoxing with the CSM.  This is in the recent CSM minutes.  So, what do I think about it?

Generally, I agree with the plan.  Awoxing is horribly unintuitive for naive players, enough so to break their willing suspension of disbelief in a very negative way.  Also the violation of trust is considerable, and not something we want to promote in a game that is trying to get people to work together.

The ability to shoot corpmates does have some utility.  The CSM reps bring this up quite effectively.  (I.e.: webbing freighters, logi support, playing around, testing fits.)  After considering this a bit, I think that it should be kept.  However, 99% of the time, it is not needed.  So, make it possible but never by default.  Limit the scope as much as possible.  Move it to a fleet setting.  Corpmates in the same fleet can shoot each other if and only if the fleet commander has set a "free to shoot" flag for that fleet.  When you join a fleet, you already get a warning saying you can't shoot people.  You'd need a new warning for this.  Also, players should be warned whenever their fleet commander turns on "free to shoot".

Note that this idea does leave open a small window for awoxing.  Get in a corp, lead a fleet or sucker the command into turning on "free to shoot".  Now you can awox everyone.  I am OK with that.

There are arguments out there (i.e. James 315) that awoxing is needed to break up bad highsec corps.  Well, it's colorable at least.  But I think that the number of such incidents is quite low compared to the total awoxing that people do to corps that are good or indifferent.  I also don't think that people who get awoxed even though in a bad corp necessarily learn the "right" lesson from it, as opposed to the lesson "EVE players are assholes".  And finally, most players in a bad corp will leave of their own volition.  Indeed, James has a posting up recently detailing just such a player.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Rolling with a Higgs Rig

For those not keeping up on stuff, as of Phoebe there is a new rig in EVE: the so-called Higgs Anchor.  It has a number of effects on a ship, including doubling its mass.  A reader mailed me asking if I had thought about them for the purpose of popping wormholes.  I have.  I decided to write a bit about it.  This prompted me to get the latest EFT to play around with.

The Higgs does make it possible to make a battleship with almost exactly 300gg of mass.  That is double the current mass (about 150gg) that my wormhole-popper gets.  But I am still not sure if I will use it.  There's just a few problems.

Here's one problems with the Higgs.  It doubles all of the mass on the ship, including microwarpdrive or afterburner mass.  Yes: your 100mn afterburner adds 100gg.  (This violates my intuition, and I wish CCP would change it.  I don't care if the Higgs doubles the armor mass.)  Thus, most battleships will end up slightly over 300gg with prop mod on.  Therefore more than half of the cheap battleship hulls cannot really use it to full effect.  You can still get ~200gg of course, turning your prop mod off.  So you require five back and forth passes to pop a wormhole, instead of seven.  That does not excite me as much as half as many passes.

Another problem with the Higg rig is that it drastically decreases speed.   You get a quarter of what it would be otherwise, and the doubled mass means that prop mods don't have as much effect.  (I get about 1/6 the speed with a microwarpdrive.)  This makes a microwarpdrive almost mandatory, and even that is not very fast.  It's a lot faster than five minutes of polarization.  But it's not just a simple time tradeoff, since the extra time is spent on the dangerous side of a wormhole.

One more problem, which applies only for people with 2000gg wormholes (those in C2 through C4), is that you really do not want a ship more massive than 180gg for the later passes when popping one of these wormholes.  A wormhole can have mass variation of plus or minus 10%, and it is at the 1/10 mass level which it goes critical.  Thus, if your hole popper has mass of over 180gg, then it can potentially pop a disrupted but not highly disrupted wormhole in a single pass.  A single pass leaves you stranded outside.

(If you live in C5+, then getting a battleship with 270gg is still safe.  But none of them can easily reach this number.)

Now, it would be possible to use one set of battleships for the early/middle part of hole popping, then only switch to lighter ones after you've gone well past half mass.  Still, I like the general foolproofness you get from the rule "it's always safe to do a single out and back pass in this ship".  And I don't really want to have even more single-use ships.  I already have two dedicated hole poppers and limited space to store big ships.

A final problem I have with Higgs has to do with my hole popper.  On occasion I pop holes by myself, using two characters.  I fly Scorpions for the purpose; here's the fit:
[Scorpion, Hole Popper]
Damage Control II
'Hypnos' Signal Distortion Amplifier I
'Hypnos' Signal Distortion Amplifier I
Beta Reactor Control: Capacitor Power Relay I
Beta Reactor Control: Capacitor Power Relay I

'Cetus' ECM Shockwave I
'Hypnos' Multispectral ECM I
'Hypnos' Multispectral ECM I
'Hypnos' Multispectral ECM I
'Hypnos' Multispectral ECM I
Adaptive Invulnerability Field II
Large Micro Jump Drive
Experimental 100MN Afterburner I

Expanded Probe Launcher I, Core Scanner Probe I
Heavy Unstable Power Fluctuator I
Heavy Unstable Power Fluctuator I
Heavy Unstable Power Fluctuator I
Heavy Unstable Power Fluctuator I

Large Particle Dispersion Augmentor I
Large Semiconductor Memory Cell I
Large Semiconductor Memory Cell I

Hobgoblin II x5
Warrior II x5

This ship is very hard to stop by any enemy short of a pretty substantial and well-chosen fleet.  It can burn back to a wormhole in reasonable time unless webbed.  It can jam out ships webbing it.  It can microjump out of bubbles, unless scrambled, and if desperate it can try to drain a tackler's capacitor out.  I like it a lot.  The hull's bonuses are used fully.  You'd have to bring a fleet combining several jam-resistant webbers, scrams, and DPS to stop it.

This ship is also a good escort for a hole-popping fleet of battleships with micro jump drives.  If there's an enemy attack, it can get everyone else out and probably escape itself.

I don't feel I can make as good of a ship for popping on any hull but a Scorpion.  But of the sub-100gg hulls, I think the Raven might be the best.  Here's a possibility cranked out with a little EFTing:
[Raven, Higgs Hole Popper]
Ballistic Control System II
Ballistic Control System II
Ballistic Control System II
Drone Damage Amplifier II
Damage Control II
Adaptive Invulnerability Field II
Large Shield Extender II
Large Shield Extender II
Stasis Webifier II
Warp Scrambler II
Large Micro Jump Drive
100MN Microwarpdrive I
Rapid Heavy Missile Launcher II, Mjolnir Precision Heavy Missile
Rapid Heavy Missile Launcher II, Mjolnir Precision Heavy Missile
Rapid Heavy Missile Launcher II, Mjolnir Precision Heavy Missile
Rapid Heavy Missile Launcher II, Mjolnir Precision Heavy Missile
Rapid Heavy Missile Launcher II, Mjolnir Precision Heavy Missile
Rapid Heavy Missile Launcher II, Mjolnir Precision Heavy Missile
Heavy Unstable Power Fluctuator I
Large Higgs Anchor I
Large Core Defense Field Extender I
Large Core Defense Field Extender I
Warrior II x5
Hammerhead II x5
This has just under 300gg mass. It can fight off light tackle pretty well, and can swap to fury missiles against larger stuff.  Still, compared to the Scorpion I'd feel rather exposed in it.  The main good thing about it by comparison is its 300gg mass -- one half the passes.  I'll have to consider whether it is worth it. 

One other amusing possibility occurs to me: the use of a Higgs on a lighter hole-popper.  A Higgs and a 100mn prop mod is 100gg.  So, I should be able to make my hole-popping Onyx better at its single function.

Monday, November 3, 2014

A Loki Hunt

Halloween.  The kids are gone, the Boy's abed, and now it is just me.  I am scanning down system after system, to no avail.  Maybe everyone is out trick or treating.

The 15th system I enter is a C3.  There's nothing on scan from the wormhole I enter.  I have come far enough, four systems down the chain from my home.  Also, there are a fair number of sigs in this system.  So, my plan is to fly around to make sure nobody is doing anything I can interact with, then leave.  Accordingly, I don't fire probes.  I move off the wormhole and cloak.  Then I raise the system map and warp to the inner system, some 20 AU in.

Nobody is here.  The system may be completely abandoned.  But there is still a planet to check.  I warp out to the distant outer planet.  A routine dscan shows sleeper wrecks, a mobile depot, and a Loki.  Ooh.  I think I'll hang around a bit.  Perhaps I can put a trick in this guy's night.

There are two combat anoms in range, but some narrow-beam dscanning shows that the Loki and wrecks are not in either of them.  Judging by the wrecks, they are in an anom that the Loki has completed.  So, there is no way I am going to find it without combat probes.

I log off my Jita alt and log my alt Otto.  He's not in his Cheetah so I have to warp to my tower to get it.  But now he has combat probes.  (Von scans, and sees no change.  What's he doing?)  Otto sets off down the pipe to where Von is.  Four jumps.  Fairly soon accomplished.  The entire time I am watching the Loki on dscan.  I am puzzled that no wrecks disappear.  Is he not refitting into a salvaging fit?

Otto enters the system and fires combat probes at the wormhole.  He throws them out of the system.  Then he warps across the system to roughly where Von is.  Von heads out, back up the pipe.  I'll go home and get an Onyx, I think, for this job.  It's the best chance at tackle I have, that would also have a chance at killing a Loki.  (Even so, at 400 DPS it might not even break its tank.  But it's what I have.)

Otto has his probes out, and carefully narrows the location of the site down.  Once he has it down to five degrees, with the range at 2.7AU, he prepares to scan.  I am not sure if I can find the Loki with a scan at 1AU probes, but I think I can at least find the depot that way.  So, I scan and hold my breath...

100% on the depot!  I quickly hide the probes and warp to the depot at 100km.  And...
No Loki.
The Loki seems to have seen my probes.  He pulls his depot and bugs out.  I don't know what he doing all that time while Otto was coming.  Looting one wreck?

Von is a jump down the chain.  I have to decide whether to hang out, uncloaked, in alien wspace to wait.  I decide not to.  Von goes back home to sit.  Otto sits in the site, hoping that the Loki will return.  If it were me, I'd return not in the Loki but in a cheap salvaging destroyer.  So, I get out of the Onyx and into my normal stealth bomber.  If the Loki guy comes back to salvage, I'll drop on him.  It should take him plenty of time to salvage the wreck field, spread out as it is.  So I wait at home.  If he comes back in something unusual, I might choose another ship.

He does not come back.  Smart Loki.

After 15 minutes, I decide it's been long enough.  No big tricks tonight, but the Loki did leave some treats.  I want them.  I get out my own salvaging destroyer.  Down the pipe, and into the wreck field.  I deploy my mobile tractor and start to work.

Nobody kills me.  I salvage the site unmolested, and get out.

Sugar rush!  Not actually much of a treat, kind of like getting hard candy.  Still, lame candy is better than no candy at all.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

CCP to Buff Lesser Blue Loot

Via Sugar, I see that CCP is going to buff lower-end wormholes by increasing the price of the two smaller blue loot items
as of Phoebe on November 4th, NPC buy orders for Neural Network Analyzers will pay out 200,000 isk and Sleeper Data Libraries will be purchased for 500,000 isk.
(Currently the respective prices are 50000 ISK and 200000 ISK.  Prices are already rising in the hubs.)

Not coincidentally, just yesterday I was hauling some loot out from wspace and noticed that the prices of these two items were above par at Hek.  I figured it was some leftover demand from the competition, and sold my loot there feeling smug... for maybe 20% over the par price.  Ooops.  Don't do that.