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.