Tuesday, 20 July 2010

It's Crunch Time!

Welcome to the nineteenth installment of the EVE Blog Banter, the monthly EVE Online blogging extravaganza created by CrazyKinux. The EVE Blog Banter involves an enthusiastic group of gaming bloggers, a common topic within the realm of EVE Online, and a week to post articles pertaining to the said topic. The resulting articles can either be short or quite extensive, either funny or dead serious, but are always a great fun to read! Any questions about the EVE Blog Banter should be directed to crazykinux@gmail.com. Check out other EVE Blog Banter articles at the bottom of this post!

This months topic comes to us from @evepress, and he asks:

The CSM: CCP's Meta Game?

'The CSM, an Eve player's voice to CCP, right? In the grand scheme of things, yes, the players bring up issues and the CSM presents them to CCP. But in its current iteration the CSM was supposed to be given small authority to assign CCP assets to projects that the CSM thought needed work on. As it has not come out this was not the case. So fellow bloggers, is the CSM worth it, has the CSM improved the game in any way, or is it just a well thought out scam by CCP to give us players a false sense of input in the game? What's your take?'

For anybody that is in the dark about the reasons for the CSM being the focus of this Blog Banter, let me bring you up to speed with recent events:

- The election results for the 5th Council of Stellar Management were released at the end of May.

- The CSM members were invited to a three day summit meeting with CCP in their Iceland offices, in order to discuss Eve player's recommendations and look at what CCP have planned for the development of the game. This took place at the end of June.

- On the 12th of July CCP published the documented minutes of the summit meetings. These minutes were approved as a correct record by both CCP and the CSM.

- After reading through the minutes the majority of the Eve playerbase couldn't help but notice that many of Eve's issues or areas of Eve that were considered broken are not likely to be fixed by CCP any time soon. In fact there were hardly any issues brought up by the CSM that CCP committed to working on in the current development cycle. The overwhelming view was that CCP were focusing on new Eve features, rather than fixing and refining existing ones.

- The discussion has raged on ever since then, aided by the release of CCP Zulu's Dev Blog and the ongoing comments by Devs in the accompanying thread.

So there we have it. As Eve players we are concerned that CCP is neglecting already existing features of the game in favour of new shinies, and also that they are ignoring the CSM's calls for issues to be fixed. Thus, many people are wondering whether the CSM is really worth it.

Now I've posted before on this blog at length about my enthusiasm for the CSM. Despite current events my views on this remain unchanged. The CSM still remains an excellent opportunity for Eve players to take advantage of and get their opinions heard. In fact, if it wasn't for the hard work and dedication of the CSM, we would be in the dark concerning CCP's plans.

The reality is that this furore is a product of the developing CSM process. It has taken 5 consecutive CSMs to reach a point where the current CSM has the power and leverage to take CCP to task for not acting on issues that have been raised consistently by all of the CSMs.

There is now no excuse for CCP. They have had ample time to react to some of the major player concerns, and enough of the playerbase have bought in to the concept of the CSM to force CCP to take note. Thousands of people voted for the CSM and hundreds of proposals have been raised. What we are seeing is the culmination of 5 CSMs worth of work, both raising support and forwarding proposals.

In short, this is crunch time.

This is the crossroads for the CSM, and it's the reason I can't answer the question as to whether the CSM is worth it or not. Because ultimately that answer lies with CCP. If they listen to the CSM speaking on behalf of the players, and if they show us proof that they are acting upon player's recommendations, then every single CSM will have been worth it. If they don't, then it's been one gigantic waste of time and money.

I'm a realistic person. I'm not expecting a multitude of game changes. I'm not even expecting game changes anytime soon. All I want to see from CCP is that you're acting as a result of listening to the CSM.

I voted for the CSM. I read the Dev Blogs. I read the CSM meeting minutes. I read the summit meeting minutes. I even tried to read most of that Dev Blog threadnaught (44 pages and counting)!

I've bought into this whole CSM thing. CCP, please can you too?

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Roaming Cheap

Most people who play Eve could talk about PvP all day. They could strategise, plan and theorise for hours on end. But there is no possible substitute for undocking and finding something to shoot.

In the context of wormholes this is sometimes a little bit more difficult than it might be in known space. But if you scan regularly in wormholes you are sure to find a Lowsec or Nullsec exit every now and again. Treat these holes as an invitation to go and find some PvP.

But by far the most important thing for a player new to PvP is to fly cheap. Nevermind that you have 50 million skill points and can fly every T2 ship in the game, pick something T1, fit it cheaply, rig it cheaply and use cheap ammo. I'm sure everybody can understand why this is a good in terms of isk, simply put, you get more fights for your money.

But there is also a psychological aspect to flying cheap. Your victories will feel greater and your losses more inconsequential. Even if you have billions of isk, flying cheap will be more fun. Not only will you be more prepared to take risks, but the inevitable red stain on the killboard will seem much more insignificant.

Ultimately, of course, the maths will work in your favour. Just last night our corp took down a Prophecy Battlecruiser in four T1 frigates. He lost 53 million isk, which was worth more than all of our ships put together. As it happened we didn't lose a single ship in that engagement, but we could've lost three of them and still have 'won' the fight.

So if you're looking for a fun PvP experience my advice is to find some friends, fit cheaply and score some expensive kills!

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Try Another Ship!

I have to say upfront that I really like stealth bombers. They are fun ships to fly and can be very useful in certain situations.

But a number of recent experiences have led me to the conclusion that many people, especially wormhole dwellers, fly them badly. Not only do they fly them badly, but they fly them in totally the wrong situations.

I suspect the proliferation of stealth bombers in wormholes is due to a number of reasons. Firstly, everybody in a wormhole has a Covert Ops ship, otherwise they wouldn't be able to do anything. And since Stealth Bombers require most of the same skills I guess it makes sense for wormhole dwellers to fly them. In addition to this, they are light and can cloak, which takes advantage of both the wormhole mass restrictions and the lack of Local Chat in wormholes.

So far , so good. I'm not claiming that Stealth Bombers are bad to fly in wormholes. But every pilot should learn one very important lesson, they are paper thin! They have no tank! None.

This means that you should take the utmost care when putting them into a situation where there is the possiblity of them getting damaged. The biggest tip I can give you is:

Be prepared to flee

Make preparations before a fight to get out. During a fight, keep aligned to a celestial object and if you start to take damage, push that warp button. Keep out of both Scram and Disruptor range. If any of your enemies launch drones, you may as well exit the field straight away, because I bet they will head for you.

Ultimately Stealth Bombers are guerilla fighters. They are meant to be used for quick and decisive action that shatters the enemy in one go. Then they disappear.

But too often I've seen Stealth Bombers being used as a some kind of staple fleet ship. People are using them to camp wormholes and tackle enemy ships. They are being used as DPS ships in long extended fights. Of course they can be used like this, but only with great care and the addition of supporting ships to control the enemies range and give them an alternate target to shoot at.

So my suggestion is, if you find yourself a little too reliant on Stealth Bombers in wormhole PvP, go grab a nice T1 Cruiser. It might not be able to pack quite the punch that Stealth Bombers can, but it will have a decent tank and will be able tackle invading pilots. Not only that, but it will hurt your wallet less if things don't go to plan!

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Staying Safe in a Wormhole

Wormhole space is currently the least densely populated area of the Eve universe. Unfortunately this can have the effect of lulling people into a false sense of security. Often in a wormhole you won't see anybody who isn't in your corporation for days; it may begin to feel like nobody else plays the game.

This attitude can often lead to complacency, and complacency will get you killed. Because the reality is that wormhole mechanics mean that wormhole space is the most dangerous place in Eve that you can be. More dangerous than Highsec, or even Lowsec and Nullsec.

The key reason for this is the lack of local which enables other people to enter your system unawares. Also new wormholes can spawn at any time, giving people an ideal opportunity to surprise you. For these reasons, wormhole space is the easiest place to gank people in Eve.

This matters very little if all you are losing is perhaps one Drake per month, especially when compared to the riches that can be harvested from wormholes. But once you start mining in Hulks or hauling Sleeper loot in your Iteron V or running anomalies in your Tengu - a gank becomes a whole lot more worrying.

So here are a quick few tips for wormhole safety.

Stay Cloaked

There is no better way to remain safe than cloaking. Not only can your enemy not see you, but they also don't can't even know that you're there. You can be 5km away from a totally unsuspecting target. Use cloaking as both an offensive and defensive tactic.

Stay in Your POS

Minimise the time you spend outside of the warm and comforting embrace of your POS shield. Just be aware that people may be watching you. So if you suspect there are hostiles in the system, warp away to a random position before warping to your true destination.

Keep Some Probes Out

There is no excuse not to have probes out whenever possible. If you are running a mining operation or a Sleeper combat fleet be sure to assign somebody to keep an eye out for any suspicious new signatures in the system. There is no better way to surprise someone than jumping out of a newly opened wormhole.

Keep Spamming D-Scan

The Directional Scanner is your dim torch in the darkness that is wormhole space. It won't spot everything, but it can save your life. Just make sure to uncheck the option to use your overview settings, this way you are sure to notice scanner probes.

Keep a Scout on a Wormhole

If there are any dangerous wormholes and you have the luxury of an alternate character that can cloak, put them next to the wormhole. The wormhole activation noise is very distinctive and will be a tell-tale sign that you have a visitor. This is the only definite way to notice somebody entering into your wormhole.

There are many other precautions that you can take, but these are some of the best and most basic ones.

Pick which precautions to take based upon what is at stake. If you are gas mining in a Tech 1 Cruiser, then perhaps some of the precautions are more trouble than they are worth. But alternatively if you are flying around in your swanky faction fitted Tech 3 Strategic Cruiser, then it might be a good idea to protect your investment well.

I am sorry to say that despite these saftey measures, you will still get blown up at some point. It's just a fact of wormholes. But nothing so lucrative should be risk-free.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

The Blob

Much of my time time last weekend was taken up by watching the Eve Alliance Tournament VIII. It's the first Alliance Tournament I've been able to watch live and I found it hugely enjoyable. The video quality was great, the majority of the commentating was informative and the matches themselves showcased some spectacular ships and piloting. If you missed any of it the matches should be appearing on Youtube.

I feel like I've learnt quite a lot from both the matches themselves and the commentary to help me when I PvP also. But there is one thing about the whole Tournament that is quintessentially not what Eve is about:

The Alliance Tournament is fair...

... Eve isn't fair.

In fact the first rule of Eve PvP should be that it is not fair. You won't get the same number of ships as you have to fight against. You won't get a pre-arranged battleground. You won't have a list of rules to comply with. There are no rules against bringing as many people as you can, piloting whatever ship you like and podding people wherever you can.

Of course anybody that has played Eve even a short amount should have already realised this unfairness. But despite this, Eve players still moan and whinge about it. All over the forums fly the constant accusations of Eve players that the fights they engage in weren't fair. And, blurted out incessantly is the warcry of the ship-less forum poster, 'We were blobbed'.

'Blobbing' somebody in Eve is simply destroying someone's ship with what appears to them to be an overwhelming and over-reactionary force. For example, bringing ten pilots to take down one enemy ship, or bringing a Carrier to destroy one Battlecruiser.

Personally, I find it a bit annoying when people are accused of 'blobbing' as if it is a bad thing; as if, somehow, a fight in Eve is only legitimate if the odds are balanced. People should realise that any fighter, including themselves, will take whatever steps they can to ensure the odds are in their favour.

What about, you might ask, those amazing pilots that go into fights one against four? Surely the odds aren't in their favour? Well, here's the secret, they are. Amazing PvP pilots calculate odds based on their own skill. They are amazing because they know how to twist our idea of a heavily one-sided fight into an amazing victory. Maybe it is true that the skillful pilot is more than equal to you and your three friends. The truth of it is, everybody that loses a ship got 'blobbed' in some fashion, even if it doesn't appear so initially.

Whether it is by numbers, ships, or skill - everybody gets blobbed and blobs in return. The only exception to this being, of course, the Eve Alliance Tournament.

So, my conclusions from this rant:

1. Stop moaning, Eve isn't fair.
2. Rejoice! Because the Eve Alliance Tournament is!

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Where Are My Wormholes CCP?

Just yesterday I lost a Minmatar Blockade Runner ship, a Prowler, to a Nullsec gatecamp. In total I lost around 400 million isk, which is a fairly large sum. In order to deflect accountability for this mistake from myself and attempt to stem the guilt for producing such a horrible dent in our killboard stats, I've decided to blame CCP for this tragedy.

To explain, I live in a patch off Nullsec where there isn't a very well-stocked market. So I rely on Highsec market hubs to re-supply all my needs. To reach these hubs I try and always use wormholes which are, arguably, a lot safer than attempting to traverse the perils of Nullsec and Lowsec. I will scan down a wormhole in my Nullsec home and continue scanning to try and find a route through to Highsec. I can then use this path to bring back to Nullsec anything I particularly require.

So how did I manage to get caught in a Transport ship in a Nullsec gatecamp? Well, for around four days the pocket of seven Nullsec systems that I call home hasn't contained one single wormhole. This, despite the fact that at least one of the systems has been upgraded with the Quantum Flux Generator, a sovereignty upgrade that is meant to increase the chances of a wormhole apprearing in the system. This lack of wormholes caught me at a bad time and forced me to attempt the more dangerous route to Highsec, and I got unlucky.

Maybe the lack of wormhole spawns in the systems is also just a result of being unlucky, but I'm inclined to feel that the Quantum Flux Generator is not doing its job properly and is not attracting as many wormholes as it should be doing. For this reason I feel justified in blaming CCP for my loss.

In addition to my inability to plunder the Highsec market, our corporation as a whole has been starved of wormhole PvE. Although we live in Nullsec, it is a key desire of the corp to exploit high level wormholes from our Nullsec base. Many days we have had plenty of people online and plenty of shiny ships ready to go, but no wormholes to raid!

This method of wormhole raiding from Nullsec is a legitimate interaction with wormholes that I think CCP should support. So I'm intending on gathering some evidence on the wormhole spawns in our pocket of Nullsec and examining the effect that the Quantum Flux Generator is having on spawns. I would be really interested if anybody else has any information to give on this as well. If I feel the effect granted is too small I might ask the CSM to present it to CCP as an issue that needs looking at.

But, moaning aside, wormholes can be exploited in a large variety of different ways and it would be really nice to have Nullsec wormhole raiding as one of these ways. It should be able to provide a viable source of activity and income for a small Nullsec corp, and I could definately use a little bit of that income right now.

Friday, 11 June 2010

How to Fit a Stealth Bomber

Lately I've been flying my Stealth Bomber quite a lot. Stealth Bombers can be very powerful ships, but they can also be frustrating ships to fly. You have the potential to unload a large amount of damage on a target, but in return you are paper-thin.

I thought today I might explain a few ways of fitting Stealth Bombers and explain how these fittings can be used. So here is a short guide to Stealth Bomber fitting.

1. Firstly fit a Covert Ops Cloaking Device II. This cloak is built specifically for your ship and you wouldn't be 'stealth' without it. Be warned that the Stealth Bomber has a larger recloaking timer than its Covert Ops cousin, so you may need to be a bit more careful about uncloaking.

2. Fit a Bomb Launcher I. Bombs are like untargeted missiles that, when fired, shoot the direction your ship is facing for 10 seconds, covering 30km before exploding. The explosion has a radius of 15km and anything in that radius will take damage depending on how large the signature radius of the ship is. Bombs are very unlikely to blow up any type of ship in one hit, but they can put a severe dent in a ships defences, or multiple bombers can be used to devastating affect. Bombs are a key part of being a Stealth Bomber but bear in mind they can only be used in Nullsec and wormhole space.

To launch a bomb at a target, find a position around 33km from them. Begin to approach them cloaked. When they are 30km away, de-cloak and launch the bomb. Then, either warp away or attempt to finish off the target with Torpedo missiles. Be careful not to stray into the explosion radius of your own bomb. The safest way to launch a bomb is for the target to be exactly between yourself and a warpable celestial object. This way you can launch a bomb and immediately enter into warp to avoid being tackled.

3. Fit 3 Siege Missile Launchers. Be warned that since Stealth Bombers have no tank to speak of, you must be very careful about choosing when to engage. Siege Missile Launchers can fire Torpedos, which do large amounts of damage to big, slow ships but may have difficulty hitting smaller, faster targets.

4. Fit a propulsion module. This can be either a MicroWarpdrive or an Afterburner. Generally a MicroWarpdrive will be a better choice, although there are some occasions when an Afterburner may come in handy. To give just one example, a Stealth Bomber can speed tank Medium POS Guns by perma-running an Afterburner. Whichever module you choose, it will be very handy to escape gate-camps or close distance with a target.

5. Fit utility Mid slots. The remaining mid slots on your Stealth Bomber can be fit with a range of modules. Most common is the Target Painter. The Target Painter boosts the Signature Radius of your target, making it a larger target for your torpedos, which, as a result, will hit for more damage.

Another option is to fit a Warp Disruptor. The Warp Disruptor will allow you to pin down the target, while you finish it off with your Torpedos. The range of the Warp Disruptor allows you to orbit from at least 20km away from the target, keeping you out of range of most Stasis Webifiers and Warp Scramblers.

The last general option for mid slots is to fit Capacitor modules. This could be a Capacitor Recharger to increase your cap stability or perhaps a Capacitor Booster to be able to run a MicroWarpdrive and Warp Disruptor for a little bit longer.

It is theoretically possible to fit some form of shield tank in the mid slots but in my opinion it is inadvisable. Any fight where a Stealth Bomber is taking enough damage to require a tank is definitely the wrong fight for a Stealth Bomber to be involved in. A Stealth Bombers job is either to pick off weak targets, or to get the job done so quickly that no retaliation is possible.

6. One option with the low slots is to fit for speed and agility. The best contender for this is the Nanofiber Internal Structure which gives a healthy mix of both. This will enable you to get yourself in good positions quicker and, if needed, escape faster.

You can also boost your damage output by using a Ballistic Control System. Note that this will only increase Torpedo damage, it will have no effect on Bomb damage.

It may also be necessary to use a Co-Processor in the lows to boost the CPU available, especially if you are using Tech II Siege Missile Launchers.

Lastly, it is also possible to fit a tank in the low slots, but again, I feel that this is just as inadvisible as it is for shield tanking.

7. Rigging is not especially important on Stealth Bombers. Feel free to cut the cost by avoiding them entirely. If you do want to use them, speed and agility rigs such as the Small Polycarbon Engine Housing I will be the most useful. If you wish to boost damage further you can also use missile rigs.

8. Grab some ammo. Each race has a bonus to a specific damage type, so make sure you take advantage of this. For example, my Minmatar Hound has a bonus to explosive damage, so I often use Bane Torpedos and Shrapnel Bombs. Be aware that bombs will explode other bombs if they are not the same type. So if you are flying with other Stealth Bombers, be sure to coordinate Bomb types before you fly.

Those are my key tips for fitting. Feel free to play around with them and see what you can come up with. The best test, of course is to fly them. If you have any different ideas on how to fit then please comment, I would really appreciate any good advice!

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Go Forth And Conquer!

Today marks the start of the Eve planets coming to life and being used and abused as resource rich celestial objects begging to be exploited for isk gain. I'm talking about Planetary Interaction, a key part of the Tyrannis expansion, which is being launched today.

Planetary Interaction allows players to harvest the many planets of Eve and create vast industrial networks to produce some of the key items used by players ingame. It is a further step along the way to create a fully autonomous, player generated market.

Personally I really like Planetary Interaction as an addition to Eve and I'm really excited to see how it will be developed further. One small thing I should mention though.

I will not be taking part.

You won't find me rushing out to buy command centers or scanning planets to find a fantastic vein of precious minerals. That might sound a strange thing to say, given my support for Planetary Interaction, but it mirrors my viewpoint on a lot of the more industrial features of Eve as a whole.

Here's my take on it. I love the industrial side of the Eve universe. I love the fact that it has an almost entirely player-driven market. I love it that market hubs like Jita, Amarr and Rens are creations of the players rather than the choices of the developers. I love the concept of ships I fly having been created by someone, somewhere and having a history that I know nothing about. I love seeing Freighters moving vast quantities of goods around the universe. I love the sight of market orders continually under-cutting each other. I love the idea of huge spreadsheets tracking profit and squeezing every last isk possible out of consumers like me. And that's the key thing! Maybe you missed it, so I'll say it again in bold:

I am a consumer.

I'm the person that uses. I fly the ships that you took days to make. I shoot that ammo that you transported all across the galaxy. I accept your market-order that undercut your competition. I give you the isk that justifies the effort that you industrialists put in. Because of this, I'm afraid I will never be one of you.

I just prefer to fly space-ships. So while I am very proud of Eve market, while I love the concept, the idea, the vision behind it, I won't be the one doing it. It is the same for Planetary Interaction. I applaud the idea of tapping into those celestial isk-mines, but I won't be doing the dirty work myself. I suspect I'm not alone in my attitude to all things industrial in Eve.

So, industrialists of Eve, go forth and conquer! Spreadsheet like you've never spreadsheeted before! I don't wish that the development time had been spent elsewhere, neither do I envy you for your new feature that I will never use. Just be warned, that if I do happen to have a Planetary Command Center in my cargohold, it will most likely be the one I just looted from your wreck.

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Just Call me the Drone Commander

Just a short one.

Yesterday I experienced my first armour tanked wormhole PvE fleet. Previous to this point I've always flown in shield tanked fleets, which are a slightly rarer breed. I really enjoyed the experience, especially since the fleet was huge, so we raced through a good number of sites.

I was piloting a Loki which is great for taking out the Sleeper frigates. Fit it with two webs and some autocannons and those frigates just go pop! Although I have to admit, maybe that was because I had about 40 drones assigned to me! The number of drones we had on the field was crazy, and controlling them was great fun - all the Sleepers just melted against them. When I have a bit more experience of armour tanked fleets I will be writing a comparison between shield and armour tanking. I'll be able to discuss the different setups and give you a good idea of fleet composition for each.

In other news, the new patch Tyrannis has arrived. I'm enjoying it so far, but that's not really because of any new content, I'm just enjoying the game at the moment. In fact my favourite thing so far is that I don't have to listen to that horrible Dominion load screen music ever again! Hopefully I'll be able to play with some of the new features in a little more depth soon.

But I'm afraid that next week I'm off on holiday. So I've taken the opportunity to put some nice long skills on train. I'll be back and posting again on June 5th.

One last thing. If you have anything you'd like me to blog about when I return, just pop it in a comment, or send me an evemail to Banear. It could be a question about wormholes or ship fitting or anything really, I'm just curious about what you would enjoy reading.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

This is a Live Event Right?

Recently CCP have reintroduced Live Events to Eve. A Live Event is an in-game story scripted and coordinated by CCP Devs, in which capsuleers can participate. The Live Event currently being played out in Eve revolves around the entity Sansha's Nation who have been manipulating wormholes in order to launch attacks on systems all over the universe and kidnapping citizens of various planets.

I'm afraid I'm not going to give a potted summary of the story so far. Firstly because I don't know most of it myself, but also because I have to talk about what happened yesterday.

Although I personally haven't been able to get involved in any of the actual events, one member of our corporation, Darkcoro has been heavily involved in many of them. He was recently mentioned by name in a news article when a Sansha's Nation wormhole was collapsed by a fleet he was helping to lead. So he has been a really useful and interesting to source to have around while the events have been ocurring.

Yesterday, the 25th of May, a rumour was circulating that a Sansha's Nation invasion event was going to occur one hour before the Tyrannis patch downtime. Since I hadn't been able to witness any of the previous engagements, I felt it was time I should make the effort and see what it was all about. Darkcoro gave both myself and other members of our corporation an invite to the Operation Bad Moon fleet. Operation Bad Moon are a group of roleplayers who have been at the forefront of player interaction with the Live Events.

Once in the fleet, we were told that information had been leaked regarding this invasion event. Apparently it was to occur in a lowsec system called Maut, which is one jump from Gallente Highsec. Other rumours suggested that the CCP Dev players were going to bring a whole cap fleet, incuding a Leviathan Titan to the engagement! The fleet started to gather in Auvergne, Gallente Highsec, and the lure of getting on a Titan killmail eventually pushed the number of pilots in the fleet above 200.

This number of pilots was something that the Operation Bad Moon leaders weren't prepared for. Fleet discipline was becoming difficult to maintain and many of the wing commanders seemed rather clueless as to what the big plan was. Attempting to use Eve Voice was not a success as it seemed to be a bit tempremental so I ended up just joining the corp Vent channel.

Our corporation had our own squad in the fleet. I decided to go all-in and bring a PvP fitted, armour buffer Typhoon Battleship. In our squad we had a couple more Battleships, some Stealth Bombers and a Cruiser. We ended up at the highsec gate to Maut waiting for the action to begin.

At around 01:00 Eve time a report came through that a cyno had been lit in Maut. Through this cyno came a Nyx Supercarrier and Carrier support. In the Operation Bad Moon fleet it was assumed that these ships belonged to players who had aligned themselves with the cause of the Sansha's Nation invasion and that the actual Sansha fleet would follow. Further reports started to come in about more cynos being lit in system. Eventually our fleet was ordered to jump into Maut.

Local in Maut numbered around 600. So once grids had loaded the fleet was warped to the cynos that were close to planet six. Upon arrival our 200 strong fleet was greeted by the sight of a staggering number of Carrier, Dreadnought and Supercarrier capitals belonging to the Nullsec alliances Morsus Mihi, RAZOR Alliance, Wildly Inappropriate and Pandemic Legion, just to name a few.

It is safe to say that at this point nobody in our fleet had a clue what was going on. There didn't seem to be any Sansha around to shoot. A primary was called but a 200 man mixed sub-capital fleet couldn't make a dent on anything. After a while battleships began to be picked off including my Typhoon. At this point lag was making the game unplayable and there was a small node crash. I ended up being thoroughly confused, logging off in my pod just before the patch day downtime hit.

So this morning I endeavoured to find out what had actually happened. Where were the Sanchas? Why were so many Nullsec alliances involved? If CCP was involved why wasn't the node reinforced?

The brilliant and hilarious truth of the matter?

This was not a CCP run Live Event.

From what I have been able to make out a rumour was started by a number of Sansha sympathising players about the Live Event which the RolePlayers fell for totally. The players spread all sorts of rumours about there being an invasion in Maut just before patch downtime and there being a possibility of a Titan kill. The initial cyno in Maut was lit by these sympathisers who jumped in the Nyx piloted by ECHAeries with two triage carriers in support. Cry Havoc opportunistically lit the second cyno in Maut and jumped in a sub-capital fleet. They were then jumped by both the Morsus Mihi and Pandemic Legion capital fleets. Another cyno was also lit by United Star Federation who also brought in a few carriers. These were all joined by our large sub-capital fleet and possibly other fleets as well. I know for sure there was an Eve University fleet in the area.

It seems that ECHAeries' Nyx was primaried but due to an interdiction mistake it was able to warp out when deep into armour. The capital fleets then picked off random capitals before turning their attention to any of the sub-capital ships that remained. As downtime approached the fleets moved out of Maut and the fight ended quickly.

So far I have managed to find killmails for 1 Chimera, 3 Thanatos, 1 Moros and an Archon, along with plenty of sub-capital losses, mine included. None of the Nullsec alliance fleets seemed to suffer any losses.

All in all it was an incredibly entertaining evening, and even more so now that I know the truth of it. Is there a game like Eve where a single rumour can trigger an engagement on this scale? Tyrannis is currently patching and there will be some nice new features to play with, but it's worth remembering that sometimes it's the players that create the best content.

Interesting Links

Pandemic Legion Battle Report
Morsus Mihi Killboard
Eve Forum Thread
Scrapheap Challenge Forum Thread

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Sorry, I've Been Enjoying Eve Way Too Much to Post!

My title for this post is really the only legitimate reason I could come up with for not posting properly for so long; and the best thing about it? It's totally true!

The benefit of this little break from posting is that I have tons of stuff to talk about. But let me first tell you what's going on.

With an alt character I have joined SI Radio, an ex-wormhole dwelling corporation who are known for the show Planet Risk produced by two senior members Luminus Aardokay and Quivering Palm. Planet Risk is a great show that revolves around wormhole exploration and exploitation. SI Radio were recently forcibly evicted from their class six wormhole by the Lowsec pirate alliance Rooks and Kings. They now reside in Providence as renters living in a small pocket of nullsec systems owned by Noir Mercenary Group.

But despite living in Nullsec SI Radio have not lost their love for wormholes, otherwise I would not have joined! Nullsec systems can now be fitted with sovereignty upgrades that increase the amount of wormholes that spawn. So the big plan is to continue battling Sleepers in wormholes from the base in Nullsec, while also getting involved in the PvE and, more excitingly, PvP of the region.

The region Providence is very active and exciting at the moment. It was overrun by the big alliance Against ALL Authorities or AAA earlier this year. Rather than owning the systems themselves, they have installed other smaller alliances in the systems under strict orders not to engage in sovreignty warfare. The smaller alliances are often called 'pets', they are used by bigger alliances to live in space that the bigger alliance doesn't have the members or inclination to use properly.

As a result, Providence is a busy place, filled with small alliances. The region is currently partially united in its efforts to expel the remnants of the old sovreignty holders from the region. In particular two alliances, Curatores Veritatis Alliance or CVA and Paxton Federation who are making things as difficult as they can for the new alliances settling in. But once they have gone it is to be hoped that alliances begin to reset their standings towards each other, and the region is likely to become a haven for small gang PvP. The new space-holding alliances are very diverse in nature and play-style, from the professional mercenaries for hire, Noir Mercenary Group, to the Minmatar roleplaying alliance Ushra'Khan and many more that I currently know nothing of.

SI Radio is a tiny part of this. We rent systems from Noir Mercenary Group. So maybe that makes us AAA's pet's pet. But, whatever we are, I'm completely new to Nullsec so it feels like a whole new game for me!

So, there's your update of what's going on. I now have one character living in a class five wormhole and another in Nullsec. My focus for the blog is still going to be wormholes. But don't be surprised if some of my Nullsec exploits also begin to creep in!

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Quick Update

Just a quick update for everybody.

I've been pretty busy recently so I've not managed to post a great deal. But Tyrannis is just around the corner and several interesting things have been happening so expect some good posts next week!

Just a reminder: last chance to vote!

I'm also going to stop being impartial and say, if you haven't voted yet, please vote for TeaDaze! Because he has just started making the most amazing CSM data website and it would be a crime if he didn't get on the CSM and continue the great work!

Please check the website out!

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Excercising Your Right to Vote

The Council of Stellar Management, or CSM for short, are a group of 9 individuals elected by Eve players. Their job is to take the views, suggestions and criticisms of the Eve playerbase and present them to CCP, the developers.

Voting has just begun for 5th term of the CSM and will continue for two weeks. There are 53 candidates running for a place this year. If you are anything like me, you will have never heard of the vast majority of them, have no idea what they stand for and have no idea how to find any of this stuff out!

So, in order to help you excercise your right to vote, here is a collection of links that should help you find out everything you need to know about the CSM, voting and the candidates.

About the CSM

CSM Summary - A short summary by CCP of the structure and purpose of the CSM

CSM Expanded - A much more in-depth look by CPP at the theory and design behind the CSM

About the CSM - An Evelopedia article explaining the CSM

The Work of the CSM

The Assembly Hall - An Eve forum where game issues can be raised and brought to the attention of the CSM

Jita Park Speaker's Corner - An Eve forum for CSM members and candidates to air their views

CSM Meeting Minutes - An archive of all the minutes of CSM meetings

CSM Issues - A list of all the issues that have been raised by the CSM


Attendance of previous CSM members can be found from the meeting minutes.

CSM4 Attendance - CSM4 Secretary TeaDaze has compiled a handy attendance report for CSM4


Candidate List - CCP's list of candidates for CSM5

Most candidates for CSM5 have posted a campaigning thread in the Jita Park Speaker's Corner forum. Read these threads for information about the issues candidates are campaigning on.

CSM Candidate Interviews - Mandrill of the 'I am Keith Neilson' blog has posted the results of interviews he has conducted with applicants

Vote Match - An interactive survey created by Dierdra Vaal that shows you which candidate agrees the most with your opinions


Candidate Page - Vote for your candidate here, this will require logging in

Hopefully these links will give you a little more information to help you choose who to vote for. If you have any other relevant links or data please tell so I can include it.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Do We Need More Sand?

Eve prides itself on being a game that allows the players to create content and story themselves rather than being led by the developers along a pre-conceived narrative.

This is the famous 'sandbox' idea. The player is given an non-linear game environment and they are left to interact with it. There is no definite end to the game and there is no progression other than the goals which players set for themselves. Eve players are free to do what they like.

The only limitations of Eve are the environments and tools that we are given by the developers to play with. Or, sticking to the analogy, how much 'sand' we have. The 'sand' we have been given is geography, such as Empire space, Lowsec, Nullsec and wormholes. We also have infrastructure like open markets, stations, planets and stargates. Finally we have the ships, the modules, the enemies and so on. All this 'sand' is of course hugely important to the game. The players can only develop emergent behaviour and innovative gameplay if they have the materials to work with. The big question I want to ask is, do we need more sand?

The most obvious way to give players more 'sand' is to create new environments. New environments spawn the most distinctive differences in gameplay. For example, life as a player in Empire is totally different from Lowsec, which in turn is also nothing like Nullsec and living in wormholes is different from them all! These are the four very distinct environments that Eve players adapt to fit into. CCP has created these environments and the laws that govern them. The players and corporations have created play-styles and professions that function well in those environments.

Getting to grips with new environments is also something that Eve players find very enjoyable. The most sucessful Eve expansion so far has been Apocrypha, which tempted people to play by the lure of both a whole new environment, wormholes, and a new way to exploit them, T3 ships. Apocrypha attracted many new players to the game, and also rekindled the interest of players who had become slightly bored.

So back to my big question. Do we need more sand? Does Eve need to continue to create new and unique environments? Or do we already have enough? Will the current environments be able to satisfy you for a long time to come? Or will you need a constant stream of new material to keep you interested? Maybe you are more concerned with balancing and tweaking the environments we already have?

What do you think?

Sunday, 2 May 2010

So How Much Can You Earn Per Week?

The title of this post is a question that gets asked a fair bit by applicants to our wormhole corporation in the public channel.

Funnily enough, of all the things they could ask, this one question is probably one of the toughest for us to answer. Really the only valid, short answer to the question is 'it depends'. Unfortunately this often isn't enough to satisfy potential recruits and we have to explain why it's so difficult to come up with a salary for wormhole life.

The first thing we try to make clear is that the potential isk stored away in wormholes is massive. Tapping into that potential requires coordination, teamwork and a lot of logistics. So it's important for applicants to realise that, isk will only end up in their wallets after a large concerted group effort by the whole of the corporation.

For your consideration here is a potted summary of what is required in our corporation to convert our wormholes into isk.

- It starts, as many other things in wormholes do, with a scanner. This person will scan our home system to find our static class six exit
- The class six wormhole must then be fully scanned and combat sites will be bookmarked
- Adjacent wormholes to the class six will need to be checked for any possible threats
- A fleet commander has to form a fleet consisting of at least 8-10 pilots
- The fleet commander may delegate different roles within the fleet, such as the logistics pilots, a target caller and a Sleeper frigate killer
- The fleet will begin attacking the Sleepers while other pilots may be asked to keep an eye on the surrounding wormholes for any signs of trouble
- After a site has been completed, salvagers will need to be brought in to mop up the salvage and loot
- The Fleet Commander will then need to submit a report detailing who was involved in the fleet
- Those responsible will then, if necessary, have to begin to process the loot towards becoming T3 components
- Any materials needing to be sold will have to be transported safely to Empire space
- The materials will have to be listed at competitive prices to get the mopst isk for our effort
- The profits must then be divided up between all involved

As you can see, it's not a simple matter of blowing up ships and receiving isk for it. Not only are there multiple people who need to be rewarded for their effort, but the entire process from killing a Sleeper to seeing your wallet flash with the sparkle of isk may take weeks, even months!

So you can perhaps understand the difficulty we have when trying to answer the question. The best thing we can say is, the more effort you put in, the more isk you will get out. But if you're active and part of an active team, then there is no reason why living a wormhole won't make you a billionaire many times over.

It just so happened that today was a payday for me. My wallet flashed and I was 800 million isk richer.

How did it get there? - Some mystical process.
When did I earn it? - Some time recently I guess.
What did I do to earn it? - I couldn't really say.

Was it worth it? - Definitely yes!

All I really know is that for the amount of work I put in, isk seems to appear in my wallet in astounding amounts. And for me, that's all I really need to know.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Buying Success

A member of our corporation was selling some of his Eve characters this week, which got me thinking about the whole topic of buying and selling characters for isk.

The sandbox nature of Eve means that there isn't really any end-game content or goal. There isn't a steady progression through different occupations. Characters don't start out as miners, then move into missions, go through lowsec and finally end up in nullsec wars. Instead, there is a freedom to flit from one type of activity to another as we see fit.

But there is a type of barrier to this behaviour. The barrier is how you have spent your skillpoints. Jumping from mining straight into PvP is not normally possible without a certain amount of training. This barrier also exists within professions, for example it's not always possible to jump straight from providing logistics support to flying an ECM ship. Of course training is equal to time, so this barrier becomes an amount of time.

For some activities this time barrier might be short. It might take a new character a number of weeks until they can do level four missions. But if you want to fly a carrier and get involved in nullsec wars then you can be faced with training time measured in years!

I imagine you know where my thoughts are heading; why not cut a large amount of training time by buying a character instead?

If it's an approach you have never considered before then I would highly recommend doing it. Although payng billions of isk for a character sounds a lot, remember that, unlike a ship or module, a character cannot be destroyed. Your investment will retain its value. If the skill-set of your new character isn't all you had hoped for then you alwys have the option of re-selling.

Another good reason to buy a character is to get yourself an isk machine. The Mittani recently wrote an excellent article suggesting that we should measure profit in Eve by 'isk per effort required' rather than 'isk per hour'. He also came up with some excellent suggestions for occupations that maximise profit and minimise effort. Buying a character that could ice mine or breeze through level four missions with drones, would easily pay for itself in the long run.

So whether you have a long-term dream that could be made a reality quicker, or whether you need a passive isk-machine to fund your account - consider buying a character!

For all the technical information you need on selling or buying characters visit the Character Bazaar.

Maybe you'll end up in the same bizarre position that I am in; my PvP 'alt' character has more skillpoints than my 'main' character that I started playing Eve with!

Friday, 23 April 2010

Timing is Everything

Anybody wanting to PvP in Eve needs to get used to timers. Timers in Eve control a great number of things, such as when you may dock, when you may jump through a gate, when you may shoot at another player or when you may be shot at. PvP in wormholes is no exception to this.

There are two distinct timers that will come into play when you jump into a wormhole.

The Session-Change Timer

The Session-change timer is a standard one throughout the Eve universe. The timer is triggered by many player actions, including undocking, ejecting from a ship, jumping through a gate and joining a fleet.

In our case the timer is triggered when we jump through a wormhole. It will last for thirty seconds, and during that time we will be unable to perform any of the other actions that could possibly trigger the timer. Essentially this means that we will have to wait thirty seconds before we can jump back through the wormhole again. But you can get caught out by it in other ways as well. For example, joining a fleet just before you land at a wormhole will trigger the timer. That thirty seconds you have to wait is more than enough time for somebody to lock and even possibly pop your ship.

So the session timer is something you should always be mindful of. Luckily for us, rather than having to count to thirty, there is a visual setting that can be enabled to show us the session-change timer. From the Eve Main Menu go to the 'General Settings' tab then tick the option box in the top left corner labelled 'Show Session-Change Timer'. In-game the timer will show up in the top left of your screen as a very small whirling icon. Holding your mouse over the icon will tell you how many seconds are left until the timer expires.

Make sure to familiarise yourself with which actions trigger the timer and be careful you don't get caught out by it.

Wormhole Polarity Timer

The second timer to affect wormholes is the polarity timer. This timer is designed to prevent people avoiding PvP by constantly jumping back and forth through a wormhole. The timer is triggered when a pilot jumps twice through the same wormhole in quick sucession.

I couldn't find any concrete data on how this timer works, so I did a bit of my own testing. This is the conclusion I have reached. I believe that after the first initial jump through a wormhole a timer is started that is approximately five minutes long. During this five minute period you can make a second jump but are unable to jump a third time. If you try and make a third jump a message will pop up warning you that you are unable to jump. It will also display the time remaining until you can jump through again. This time remaining will be the five minutes subtracted by the amount of time hat has passed since the first jump.

In practice, the longest amount of time you will have to wait before jumping through the same wormhole the third time will be somewhere between 3 minutes 50 seconds and 4 minutes. This is because the two session timers caused by the first two jumps through the wormhole will already subtract 1 minute from the polarity timer and system loading time may subtract even more.

The polarity timer is linked to one specific wormhole. So the timer will not be triggered if you are jumping through different wormholes.

This timer is very important to remember if PvP is occurring on a wormhole. Any PvP targets who are being beaten will attempt to flee by jumping through the hole, and if they are then tackled on the other side they will most likely jump through the hole a second time. At this point they will have a polarity timer, so they can be easily dealt with.

In theory the polarity timer confers an advantage on the 'defender' of a system. The 'attacker' will have to make one jump in order to enter the system. Once the battle has started the 'attacker' will have to split their forces in order to prevent the 'defender' from using the polarity timer to their advantage. This can often make fighting at wormholes a bit frustrating, but it is important information to remember if you engage on a wormhole.

I hope that summary was useful. Feel free to leave a comment if you disagree with my theory of the polarity mechanics, or if you have any good/bad experiences of wormhole timers.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

The Blog Banter Reviewed

The response to the special edition Ladies of New Eden Blog Banter has been huge. This post is for those of you that don't have time to read all the blogs, or who are struggling to remember who said what. If I've missed you out, or you think I've misrepresented what you said, write me a comment. This post will be added to as I read through the blogs.

Women Are Different!

Ombeve kicked off the Banter by stating that the problem we were up against was a sociological one. There are fewer females in Eve because the majority of females are not interested in gaming or the sci-fi genre. Astral's Eve Trial by Fire agreed, and suggested that maybe the key difference was that males enjoy destructive gaming while females prefer constructive gaming. It was thought that Planetary Interaction might encourage this urge to build. The same thoughts were shared by Learning to Fly who suggested that Incarna was another addition that might also make the game more accesible to females. Vikings of Eve felt that a woman's desire to create and nurture, rather than destroy, was not catered for in Eve.

No Change!

The mood was lightened by Evoganda. Who sarcastically suggested such measures as kittens and a 'Nagger Class Cruiser' to attract females to the game. But ended seriously by suggesting that game changes for the sake of attracting females would be bad. The Nomadic Gamer also thought that game changes were not an option and instead looked for the playerbase to change by becoming much more welcoming to females.


However, many blogs were in favour of actual changes to game design. A number of key Eve issues that hinder females enjoying the game were picked up by The Ghost Report. These included a lack of individuality amongst players and a cumbersome and non-immersive UI. Linked Dreams added to these issues the lack of combat support roles and not being able to bond with your ship as you might an avatar in another game. Along these lines, Diary of a Garbageman suggested a larger focus on 'career paths' was needed to both aid and monitor player training.

Go Casual

Some blogs felt a game like Eve was just too 'hardcore' for general consumption by women. In particular Vive Virtual who felt that, as a result of their upbringing, women would be predisposed to dislike a harsh and complex game like Eve. Eve SOB talked about his experience of trying unsuccesfully to get his wife to play Eve and suggested that the lack of females may be due to the game not being casual enough. Garhead took this idea and ran with it, suggesting a number of ideas for Eve to encourage casual play.

Stay Hardcore

Mandrill disagreed with the idea of making the game more casual. Changing the game or marketing towards women was felt to be condescending and was a product of stereotyping female gamers. This was a trap that The Hydrostatic Capsule also refused to fall into, but instead stated that the liberty all players, regardless of gender, have, to rise all the way to managing vast alliances, would be an attractive prospect to female gamers. WfSeg claimed that making the game more casual could possibly alienate existing players who prefer Eve as it is.

Go for Visuals

The visual aesthetic of Eve was the key issue that need improving for Prano's Journey, who also issued a plea for the remembrance of Eve widows, the wives whose husbands played Eve all day long. Record of Alva Dyson agreed that visual changes would be worthwhile, such as bright ship colours and glittery module effects. Being a woman and having never played Eve, Draco Horizons also suggested a large list of female-enticing game changes, many of them cosmetic, that would convince her to play.

Go for Marketing

Making cosmetic changes was a view opposed by many, who rather thought that Eve was fine, but the way it was marketed needed changing. Errant Thoughts was one blogger who felt that rather than adding glitz and glamour, the non-combat activities in Eve needed greater publicising. Life in Low Sec expanded on this by appealing to CCP to market Eve more intelligently towards females, who might be attracted towards roles in Eve that are kept out of the spotlight. A similar view was held by Where the Frack is my Ship?, who used the examples of several notable female Eve players who were involved in different aspects of the game. A Little Bit of Blue also championed this idea and highlighted the importance of playing with friends in order to overcome the learning curve.

More Gentlemen Needed!

Bloggers weren't unanimous in blaming CCP, some targeted problems with the playerbase. Rantuket was one who placed the blame squarely on the head of CCP for bad marketing. But while La Vie d'une Capsuliere agreed that Eve marketing needs to change, it was also claimed that a male dominated playerbase could be intimidatory and repellent to women. Along these lines Max Torps warned CCP against making Incarna too male oriented and 'seedy', but rather take time to enhance the position of female role-models in Eve. Depths Unknown echoes some of these views when claiming males in Eve often act in a way that females find repulsive and that only the toughest of females can survive. Using many in-game experiences Talk Nerdy to Me highlighted the challenges some women could face as a result of trying to join an uncompromising male culture.

What's the Big Deal?

Eve's Parity Bit had just one question, what's the fuss about? If females like the game, they will play it, if they don't, then that's fine.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Sorry, No Pink Spaceships Here Please

Welcome to a special installment of the EVE Blog Banter, the monthly EVE Online blogging extravaganza created by CrazyKinux. The EVE Blog Banter involves an enthusiastic group of gaming bloggers, a common topic within the realm of EVE Online, and a week to post articles pertaining to the said topic. The resulting articles can either be short or quite extensive, either funny or dead serious, but are always good fun to read! Any questions about the EVE Blog Banter should be directed to crazykinux@gmail.com. Check out other EVE Blog Banter articles at the bottom of this post!

This month's Blog Banter is on the subject of women, who at present make up only 5% of Eve's playerbase. The big question is:

What could CCP Games do to attract and maintain a higher percentage of women to the game. Will Incarna do the trick? Can anything else be done in the mean time? Can we the players do our part to share the game we love with our counterparts, with our sisters or daughters, with the Ladies in our lives? What could be added to the game to make it more attractive to them? Should anything be changed? Is the game at fault, or its player base to blame?

My personal Eve experience doesn't qualify me to speak on this subject at all. The corp I belong to has one female that I know of, and she is the sum total of my interaction with females in Eve so far. But if you were hoping for a short blog post, then I'm afraid I am going to disappoint you. Here then are my views, backed up with zero evidence or experience.

To me, this whole question hinges around a key game design issue. What is the motive behind creating a game? Do you design a game to appeal to a certain group of people, or do you design a game because you think the core idea is good? When Eve was dreamed up, was the initial motive to create a game that would appeal to sci-fi loving, space-hooked, young males? Or was it not the case that Eve was created because a huge, massively mutiplayer, open-market, harsh, cooperative, spaceship simulator was just an amazing, bold and daring idea?

You see, when you decide to make a game, it should be based on the merits of the idea itself. It should have nothing to do with needing to fill a gap in market, or trying to appeal to a specific type of person.

A demographic should be created for a game! Not a game for a demographic!

So what has this got to do with females in Eve?

My point is this. Don't change Eve purely to appeal to some demographic, whether it be females or pre-adolescent kids or grandparents. Instead, change Eve to make it a better game! This is surely the only variable we should consider when making a game change. Now sometimes making the game better will induce a change in the demographic. For example the inclusion of tutorial missions made the game more accesible to younger players. That's brilliant! But making all ships have 100% insurance might also have the same demographic affect, that doesn't make it a good game change!

The truth is that I'm not a huge sci-fi fan. I have only a cursory interest in spaceships and space travel. If Eve was created to appeal to a demographic, then it definitely wasn't aimed at me. Instead I play Eve because it is a fantastic game, full of innovative ideas and creative game design.

So, I'm really sorry females but I'm not going to start suggesting game changes purely so I can see more of you play Eve. That's not a sacrifice I am willing to make. But before you label me as a cold-hearted and a close-minded individual; changing the game to suit a demographic is only half the story.

The other half is you, or me - all of us. The community.

Eve is a game that requires player interaction if you want to get the most out of it. The game is great, but would it be even half as good without the community we are part of and the interaction we enjoy? This is a key part of Eve, just as important as the game itself. So although I've ruled out changing the gameplay purely for the sake of attracting females, I have no objection to the community doing all it can to increase and boost the female playerbase.

None of us play this game just because we are sci-fi loving spaceship nerds - most of us probably aren't. We play the game because it is fun and it has an active and vibrant community that gives us both camaraderie and friendship. There is no reason why any female shouldn't be attracted to this.

So my advice is keep interacting. Keep blogging. Keep chatting. Keep twittering. Keep showing that there is more to this game than spaceships.

The strength of our community will attract female players, and hopefully some of the changes to make Eve better will also do the same. I'll leave you with one last thought:

Any gaming community that has the strength and cohesion to even begin to address this subject sensibly and at length is surely on the right track.

Other Banters:

1. Ombeve - The Ladies of New Eden
2. Astral's Eve Trial by Fire - Is Eve a Man's World?
3. Evoganda - Chicks 'N Ships
4. The Ghosts Report - The Girls Who Fly Spaceships
5. Eve SOB - It's Not About Fluffy Bloody Kittens People!
6. Max Torps - Space Boobies Are Bad, m'kay?
7. Learning To Fly - I like Girls
8. Garhead - Making Eve More Casual
9. Prano's Journey - What Women Want...
10. Rantuket - I Wish My Wife Played Eve
11. Eve's Parity Bit - Is There Something Special About Women?
12. La Vie d'une Capsuliere - Banter
13. Linked Dreams - CK's Blog Banter
14. Mandrill - The Female of the Species
15. Diary of a Garbageman - The Ladies
16. Record of Alva Dyson - Women Who Want Eve
17. The Hydrostatic Capsule - Tech 2 Stilettos
18. The Nomadic Gamer - New Eden Doesn't Need to Change for Eve - Adam Needs to Get Over Himself
19. Errant Thoughts - Eve Online and ... women (sorta)
20. Life in Low Sec - Think Outside the Spaceship
21. WfSeg - Women, Women, Women
22. Depths Unknown - Girls Just Wanna Have... Guns!
23. Where the Frack is my Ship? - It's a Woman's World (They Just Don't Know it Yet)
24. Draco Horizons - Notebook Banter (click Blog)
25. A Little Bit of Blue - Don't Change Eve for Me!
26. Vikings of Eve - Getting in Touch With Our Feminine Side
27. Vive Virtual - Women in Eve
28. Talk Nerdy to Me - Where are Teh Laydeez of Eve?

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Power to the Players

Last week a CCP Development Blog was released detailing how both the creation and use of 'deep safe-spots' was to be removed.

This fix meant that anybody who had a ship, bookmark or other object located in a 'deep safe-spot' would have to move them. If they didn't, the items would be destroyed on the day that the fix was released.

However, just yesterday, a further blog was released. CCP have had a change of heart. They intend instead to find away to move the items, rather than destroy them. Now, I'm not really interested that much about the specifics of the fix since it doesn't really affect me that much. What does interest me is the reason for this changed decision by CCP.

In the most recent blog the reason given for the changed decision was to me, initially, confusing. There is a lot of talk about 'solutions' and I had to read it all through a couple of times before I understood what they were saying. Entertain yourselves by counting how many different adjectives they use to describe their two different solutions. It's definitely not the most lucid blog I've ever read.

So to help you all out I will attempt to translate it for you:

- We at CCP wanted to nerf deep safe-spots
- The 'neat' (also referred to in the blog as 'proper' and 'better') solution would be to move players ships and objects
- But everybody was pretty busy so we went for the 'quick' solution of just destroying stuff
- Then you players started moaning
- So we found somebody with enough time to implement the 'neat' solution instead

Basically CCP were going to rush a game change. The playerbase then responded with their concerns and CCP decided instead to implement a slower but better change.

Now as I said I'm not particularly interested in the game change decision itself, but rather the player interaction with CCP that prompted it. The Council of Stellar Management, or CSM, is a prime example of this interaction. They are a group of players, elected by players, that have a definite say in what happens to the game.

I think the reason we have seen this change on deep safe-spot policy is partly because the CSM were never consulted. As a result, both the CSM and player-base were unhappy, firstly about the decision, and secondly about the lack of consultation. This lead to a huge thread on the Assembly Hall forums, begun by TeaDaze, a current CSM member, registering concern about the proposed change.

I think CCP listened.

Eve is a little bit unique in this respect, and I think it's worth realising this and expoiting it! Many players I talk to are either unaware of, or apathetic to the opportunities available to us through the CSM. In short, make your vote count and your voice heard, because, as we have seen, we have the power to change this game!

Friday, 16 April 2010


Due to maximum jump mass limits on wormholes it can be tricky to move high mass ships around. Ships of Battleship size and larger can be unable to jump through certain wormholes. Wormholes with higher maximum jump mass limits tend to connect to the higher class wormholes. The practical outcome of this is that those living in class one wormholes may find bringing in Battleships tricky. And those inhabiting wormholes from class one to three will find bringing in Carriers and Dreadnoughts all but impossible.

But for corporations in the higher level wormholes, it is a much easier matter. Having Carriers and Dreadnoughts becomes not only possible, but also advisable, because if you can bring a Carrier into your wormhole, there is nothing stopping somebody else bringing one into your wormhole. A scary thought perhaps. Our corporation lives in a class five wormhole, and we are lucky enough to have both Carriers and Dreadnoughts in system.

Carriers in particular have many uses. For example they are great for forcibly closing wormholes. But one other ability they have is to 'escalate' a Sleeper combat site. Basically, if you warp a Carrier onto grid in a Sleeper combat site that still has active Sleepers, it will trigger an extra spawn of Sleepers to fight. This is a nice bonus that can be exploited to get the most out of your combat sites in your home wormhole.

For an added bonus Sleeper sites can be escalated more than once! The first Carrier to warp into a combat site will trigger a spawn of six Sleeper Battleships. The second Carrier will trigger an extra spawn of eight Sleeper Battleships. After this second spawn, warping in extra Carriers will do nothing. But this is where the Dreadnoughts come in handy. Warp in a Dreadnought and a third spawn of a further six Battleships will be triggered.

Now at this point I have to turn from practical experience back to theory. As a corporation we have done combat sites with three escalations before, but that is where we have stopped. You see, from all the reading I had done on the subject, I was told that the fourth and final escalation of eight more Battleships would be triggered when another Dreanought warped in. This would mean that you could trigger a total of twenty eight extra Battleships by escalating each single combat site.

A couple of days ago we finally had enough pilots and a large enough fleet to test this fourth escalation for ourselves. The first, second and third waves were triggered and dealt with without incident. But when we warped in our second Dreadnought - nothing happened!

So we were left scratching our heads and wondering what had gone wrong. Maybe there is something extra about the mechanics that we are not aware of. Maybe it might be something to do with living in a class five. Until we get the chance to do a bit more testing we're not sure exactly what happened.

Anyway, that is a bit of a rough guide to escalations. It would be great to hear from readers about your experiences of escalations and especially if you can tell me more about triggering that fourth and final escalation.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Covert Tackling: Putting Theory to the Test

My last post contained advice on fitting a Covert Ops ship. There have been some really good suggestions in the comments, so make sure you check them out.

In one comment REve Blogger mentioned 'I never really considered the use of cov ops as a tackle.', and it just so happened that yesterday I had the opportunity to prove that a Covert Ops can do precisely that.

A Dominix, a Gallente Battleship, warped into one of our gas mining fleets yesterday. Everybody that was harvesting managed to extricate themselves, but the Dominix, instead of warping straight back to the hole he came from decided to hang around in system. Suspecting the Dominix to be bait, I hopped into my Helios and jumped through the only other active wormhole in the system.

Sure enough there was a fairly large PvP fleet on the other side. I quickly cloaked up and we started to get a fleet together to deal with the threat. This can sometimes take awhile, so by the time our fleet was prepared a number of the opposing ships had come and gone.

When our fleet finally got around to warping to the wormhole that was being camped by our opposition, they had either already noticed our fleet and started to run or thought that we weren't going to take the bait. Either way, I was left sitting at a wormhole with the Dominix, who was about to warp back to his POS - with our fleet fast approaching.

It was the work of a moment for me to uncloak, lock and tackle the Dominix. Then I flew towards the wormhole, just to make sure that I would be able to jump to safety if he started spewing drones at me. As expected, he popped out his sentry drones and proceeded to take me down to 25% armour before I jumped through. But by that time the rest of our fleet was on grid and they made short work of the target.

All in all, I probably tackled him for about 15-20 seconds - but without those seconds we wouldn't have got the kill. It's also very nice to appear on the killmails as well! So there you have it - a fortuitous textbook demonstration of tackling in a Covert Ops ship.

I should imagine many of you have similar stories, where you just happen to be in the right place, at the right time. But in this case I should also add, with the right ship fitting!

Monday, 12 April 2010

How to Fit a Covert Ops Ship

Yesterday I lost my Helios Covert Ops ship while attempting to tackle a Proteus, a T3 Gallente Strategic Cruiser.

If you think that sounds a bit stupid, then you are right - it was stupid. It was just one of a number of mistakes I made yesterday.

Another mistake I made was tackling the same pilot in his own Helios Covert Ops ship and letting him escape before I could kill him with my one drone. In my mind this was by far the biggest mistake I made because it was a mistake in the way I fit my ship.

Let me explain - on my Covert Ops I fitted a Warp Disruptor, so when I tackled the Helios he was able to simply use his MicroWarpdrive to get out of range of me, before warping away. If instead I had fitted a Warp Scrambler, then he wouldn't have been able to use his MicroWarpdrive at all, and I would probably have a nice Helios killmail to show for my efforts.

So it got me thinking about how to fit a Covert Ops ship, especially since I had to go and buy myself a new one. Here is my short guide to fitting a Covert Ops ship.

1. Firstly fit a Covert Ops Cloaking Device II. This cloak is built specifically for your ship and you wouldn't be 'covert' without it.

2. Fit a Scan Probe Launcher. The primary purpose of your Covert Ops will be to scan in wormholes, so this is an important piece of gear. You have a number of options here. If you are intending to live a life of pacifism and not get involved in any PvP then you might want to use the Core Probe Launcher I. This launcher will not be able to use Combat Probes, but it will free up CPU for other modules on the ship. The second choice is an Expanded Probe Launcher I, which will allow you to use both Core Probes and Combat Probes. Both of these items have a Faction equivalent, the Sisters Core Probe Launcher and the Sisters Expanded Probe Launcher. If you have the isk, they are very worthwhile. They both give a 5% bonus to scan probe strength.

3. Fit a MicroWarpdrive or Afterburner. In conjunction with your cloak the propulsion mods will keep you safe from harm. The top speed of your ship isn't terribly important, so your only criteria for picking which module to fit should be based on what other modules you're hoping to fit on the ship. The MicroWapdrive is better from a safety perspective, while the Afterburner will enable you to squeeze more utility modules into the mid slots.

4. Fit two Small Gravity Capacitor Upgrade I rigs in the rig slots. These will each give a 10% scan strength bonus.

5. Fit speed and maneuverability modules in the low slots. Which modules you fit is a matter of taste. But any mix of Inertia Stabilizers, Overdrive Injectors and Nanofiber Internal Structures will work nicely.

6. Fit some tackle. As I found out this should probably be a Warp Scrambler. If you are interested in wormhole PvP you will find that in most cases a Covert Ops ship will normally be the first on the scene and it's useful to tie down a ship before everybody else arrives, just in case they get away. The Scrambler can be well paired with a Stasis Webifier to stop fast targets in their tracks. Some fits can also include both a Scrambler and a Disruptor if you need.

7. Fit some pewpew. This is only really an option if you have any CPU or PowerGrid left. In my case for my Helios this is simply a matter of putting a light scout drone in the drone bay. For other Covert Ops ships it will mean putting a weapon in a spare high slot.

8. If you have any space left it is likely to be in the mid slots. So try and squeeze in a capacitor mod, such as a Cap Recharger II.

Don't worry if you haven't managed to fit a module in every space. A Covert Ops ship is not one that requires a very neat fitting - just try and squeeze in the modules you want it to have. I hope that helps!

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Keep Rollin' Rollin'

Wormholes are shifty things. Not only do they pop out of existence after a certain amount of time but they can also pop when you jump too much ship mass through them. This quality they have can be exploited. If you wish to close a wormhole you can jump enough mass through it to make it pop.

This is dangerous business of course. Normally when you want to close a wormhole there is a specific side of it that you would like to end up on. Making sure that you end up on the right side when it closes takes a lot of knowledge, maths and every so often a pinch of good luck.

Unfortunately for us one of our pilots recently made an error with his calculations and while attempting to close a hole, managed to strand a Moros. The wormhole closed after he jumped out of our home system, leaving no way back in!

This was bad news. Really bad news. A Moros is a Gallente Dreadnought worth well over one billion isk. In other words, an asset you definitely don't want to lose. The Moros was stranded in a class six wormhole that had a static class one exit. This means that the system would always have a wormhole connecting it to a random class one system. Our first response was to bring a couple of alt characters in covert ops ships through the class one from Highsec and into to the class six system with the Moros.

So we were in a tricky situation. Although the covert ops ships had come through the class one system to reach the Moros, the Moros couldn't jump through to the class one itself. This is due to wormholes having a 'maximum jump mass limit'. Basically, some wormholes have big enough limits to fit through huge masses, such as a Moros. Most wormholes - such as the wormhole to the class one - don't.

The pilot of the Moros made a safe spot and logged off. The covert ops pilots also did the same, and for the next four days they scanned the system whenever they could, hoping to find a new wormhole spawn that would enable them to get the Moros out. The best option would be a Lowsec hole, but we would've been happy to find an incoming class five or six wormhole as well, that would at least give us the possiblity of a new class six wormhole to scan everyday. But after four days there was nothing to show for our efforts.

So yesterday we decided to do something crazy. 'Chain Rolling'!

Let me explain. When we forcibly close the wormhole to our static class six we call it 'Rolling'. The Moros was stuck in one of approximately 113 class six wormhole systems. The crazy plan was to 'roll' our static wormhole until we found the right system. This is the equivalent of rolling a 113-sided dice and looking for just one single number. Now I'm no mathematician but they are not the nicest odds possible. But we made a fleet and started the 'rolling'

My part in this fleet was to act as the scanner. To find the new static, take a peek through and note down the system number. It was largely dull and boring work apart from one wormhole system where we found a Thorax gas mining and quickly ruined his day before moving on.

But to my huge surprise we managed to find the system after merely 21 rolls of the huge, many sided dice. I couldn't beleive my eyes when I read the system number, I had to double and triple check it!

So, with a concerted team effort and a very large helping of luck, we got our Moros back! And we all celebrated by flatly refusing to 'roll' any more wormholes.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Gas Mining the Easy Way

Scanning is key to enjoying wormholes. If you are not able to scan, you are often quite literally stranded. But if you can scan, a door of opportunity opens. It so happens that your door of opportunity becomes somebody else's door of misfortune.

This was the case today.

I had just entered a class 6 wormhole in my trusty Helios covert ops ship. My initial d-scan showed a Moa, a Caldari cruiser, with a single cargo container that was named with a timestamp. It doesn't take a genius to realise that any container with a timestamp means somebody must be mining. Moas are also fairly commonly used as gas mining ships in wormholes. This was a prime PvP target!

When these opportunities arise, the preparation required to get the kill is easily 90% of the work. PvP scanning in wormholes is both technical and time-consuming.

The first step is to launch combat probes without giving the target the opportunity to notice. This means launching the probes while out of d-scan range, which is around 14AU. In most wormhole systems it is possible to use the planets and moons to get the required distance from the target. When the probes have been launched they should be sent immediately to scan a point that is out of d-scan range of anywhere in the system, this ensures that the target has no chance of noticing them.

Once combat probes are out, then comes the tricky business of narrowing down the target to a rough position. This requires intelligent use of both the angle and range filter on your d-scanner. Finding the angle is a fairly simple business, but to approximate the range you will need to use a km to AU conversion chart.

When a rough position of the target has been found all that remains is to place probes in this location and hope for the best. Sometimes it will take repositioning and multiple scans to locate your target. In my case, with the Moa it took two scans, which must've given the Moa around twenty seconds to see my probes on d-scan. In practice this is a very short time, especially when someone is semi-afk gas mining. With my 100% signal I warped into the Moa at 100km away. The reason for this was that the Ladar gas clouds have a sneaky habit of decloaking covert ops ships.

Even though I was 100km away from the Moa it was the work of a moment to bookmark his jet can, which was only, at most, 2500m away from him. Perfect! I love jet cans!

At this point I warped back to a neighbouring wormhole in order to guide my PvP support group who had been patiently waiting. I gave them the can bookmark and jumped back into the hole, only to see on d-scan that the Moa had GONE!

Questions run through your mind. Did he see my probes? Had he just finished? Was all that work just for nothing? Wormholes can often be like this, PvP targets will evade you, hours of scanning won't find you exits. Things might just not go your way...

But suddenly a Badger MkII appeared on scan! Fantastic! The Badger is a Caldari industrial ship and obviously the miner was coming back to transport his gas.

I called the fleet to warp to the site and we tackled the Badger. Once tackled he gave us the slip by quickly ejecting and warping his pod away; a smart more if your head is full of implants. We quickly stopped firing since a Badger full of gas is worth more than a killmail (in terms of isk that is). One of my corpmates piloted the rigged and T2 fitted Badger back to our POS while we celebrated our victory!

Our winnings:

1 Rigged and T2 fitted Badger MkII
1000 c32
1500 c70

That is gas mining the easy way!