Welcome to Jester's Trek.
I'm your host, Jester. I've been an EVE Online player for about six years. One of my four mains is Ripard Teg, pictured at left. Sadly, I've succumbed to "bittervet" disease, but I'm wandering the New Eden landscape (and from time to time, the MMO landscape) in search of a cure.
You can follow along, if you want...

Friday, August 31, 2012

No place like it

Good heavens, does the latest Blog Banter make me smile.

As a communications professional, one of the things that I understand is the power of a loaded word.  In English, a "loaded" word refers to a word that of course has a specific dictionary definition, but also has an evocative, evaluative meaning that is intended to drive the reader or listener toward a specific emotional response.  A couple of examples will serve.

The words "animal" and "beast" have essentially the same definition.  But the latter word has an emotional connotation: a beast is an animal of which we disapprove.  The words "powerful" and "mighty" also have essentially the same definition.  But the latter word also has an emotional connotation: most English-speakers are trained nearly from the moment they learn the word to associate a mighty force with one that is positive and good.  The words "mighty" and "beast" are evocative, emotional words beyond their dictionary definition.  They're loaded words.

And there are few words in the English language more loaded than the word "home".  And yet that's what the latest Blog Banter is about:
"Some say a man's home is his castle. For others it is wherever they lay their hat. The concept is just as nebulous in the New Eden sandbox.

In EVE Online, what does the concept of 'home' mean to you?"
And just to pile on a little bit of irony, Freebooted comments "After a some heavy topics in the last few editions, this time we'll be taking a more relaxed trip through the thoughts of the blogosphere."  Ha!  ;-)

Needless to say, when you pick such a loaded topic you get a massive response and unsurprisingly, this banter has picked up more than 30 responses in less than a week.  But surprisingly (at least to me), virtually every response is very literal.  For nearly all of the bloggers out there, "home" is a specific station, system, region, corp, alliance, Teamspeak channel, or EVE itself.

Yes, all of those are literal responses.

Again, it gets back to the training we receive almost from birth.  "Home" is an evocative word because what it evokes is ownership, community, and belonging.  We associate the word with four constructs:
  • the physical location where we were born;
  • the physical space in which we live;
  • our family with whom we share it; and,
  • the larger racial, ethnic, or geographic community that we are a part of.
These are all powerful forces -- almost like gravity -- pulling us back to where we come from.  And indeed, the majority of humans live and die within 50 miles of their birthplace.

So it's no surprise that EVE players -- being human and all -- will naturally associate the word home with one or all of these four constructs.  The blogger that associates it with the station where their character started?  He's connecting to his character's birthplace.  The blogger that associates it with where his stuff is is evoking the place where he lives.  The blogger that says his corp is his home connects to his in-game family.  And the blogger that says "EVE Online" is his home is evoking the larger "ethnic" community.

So like I said, all of those are literal responses to the question.

But funnily enough, what nobody seems to have brought up -- and I've read virtually all of the responses so far! -- is that EVE Online and being a capsuleer is a "post-home" concept.  Immortality combined with the ability to instantly jump-clone anywhere combined with the ability to access all of one's liquid financial assets instantly anywhere in the galaxy is not a concept that is compatible with the "home" constructs.

In EVE's lore we're invited -- no, we're encouraged -- to think of our characters as near-omnipotent immortal demi-gods.  We're in eternal competition with all of the other demi-gods across all of space and time.  Within the game, the capsuleer is beyond the concept of "home."

The closest analogue I can think of is to The Matrix movies.  Stop reading here if you haven't seen them, because I'm going to thoroughly spoil them.  In those flicks, Neo might think of home as the matrix itself.  He was born there, after all.  Or he could think of the Nebuchadnezzar as home, or the apartment he shares with Trinity in Zion, or the crew of the Neb... or the entire human race.  But it's shown clearly in the movies that he doesn't think of any of those places as home and doesn't really connect with any of them.  He drifts from construct to construct... his spirit is homeless.  He's beyond these constructs.  He's post-home.

It doesn't mean he's disconnected from those people or places, or negative about them.  Far from it: he ultimately lays down his life for these constructs.

But that's more or less how I feel about EVE.  Home?  No.  Within EVE, I'm beyond these constructs.

Cute topic, and thanks to Freebooted for putting it out there.  But if you wanted something less heavy, you didn't quite succeed this time.  ;-)

August junk drawer

Welcome to the junk drawer, part of a series of monthly posts in which I dump all the stuff that I couldn't develop into full blog posts this path month...

---snip---

First up, an announcement: I'm no longer going to be as active a presence as I once was on Twitter or on the #tweetfleet.  I might use Twitter to announce the odd tent-pole post every now and then, but I'm not going to monitor tweets or respond to them like I used to.

This has been building up for a couple of months.  I'm finding that the level of dialogue available in a 140 character tweet just isn't conducive to real communications.  In fact, it seems to be most useful for announcements and for sarcasm.  Attempts at anything more meaningful are often misunderstood by one side, the other, or both.  The net result is that a Twitter conversation tends to be more adversarial than the alternatives.  I also find that Twitter directly reduces my productivity.

Don't get me wrong: the #tweetfleet community -- though small -- is a positive bunch.  But there's no moderation to it either because of the design of Twitter.  As a result, it occasionally gets co-opted by a less positive element (impostors of better-known EVE players and personalities, for instance) that I'm just not finding that appealing.

So, don't expect a lot of tweets from me in the future.

---snip---

I'm sure there's a full post in this question somewhere, but I can't quite figure out how to write it, so I want to throw it out there.

I've been spending more time than I usually do lurking in various EVE fora and reading the suggestions of EVE players to the developers.  And in honor of some of these suggestions, I want to throw out a little reminder which is really probably a good first test of whether your suggestion makes sense or not.

Does your idea still work if I bring 200 of them rather than one?

For instance, a pretty common suggestion is that some sort of kamikaze attack be added to EVE.  In other words, if you're a frigate in a fight with HACs, you're clearly so outmatched that it only makes sense for you to find the closest Zealot and slam your ship into its hull.  For an individual ship, this sounds really cool.

But if 200 frigates can do it and by doing so destroy a HAC fleet one hundred ships strong, suddenly the idea isn't so cool any more.  ;-)

So if you have an idea for improving EVE, apply this test to it.  If the answer is "no", the idea needs more work.

---snip---

Footnote that may be interesting to some of you.  The number of pages of the May Summit Minutes generated by each member of CSM7 is: Trebor, 66 (41 of which are the first two sections).  Hans, 36.  Elise, 19.  Two step, 17.  CCP Xhagen, 8.  Aleks, 7.  Issler, 6.  Dovinian, 5.  Seleene, 0.  Greene Lee, 0.*  Kelduum, 0.  UAxDEATH, 0.*  Meissa, 0.  Darius III, 0.

About the asterisks: apparently Greene Lee and UAxDEATH wrote fairly extensive Russian notes about the Summit this time.  But I've only managed to find bits and pieces of it so far.  Anyone have a link to the whole thing?

Expect to see more of a push to get Two step writing more.  He's the Secretary, after all.  More about this on Monday, most likely.

---snip---

Several short ones.

Congratulations to Featious from Rote Kapelle for winning 250 billion ISK from Blink!  Very, very cool.  I'm insanely jealous.

---snip---

Want to know how the CFC Jump Bridge map is laid out?  Here's one link to the map:
http://dl.dropbox.com/u/39006524/Clusterfuck-JB-Map.jpg

Other links in two other formats (PNG, PDF) are provided at the bottom right corner of the graphic.  The old Northern Coalition used to maintain this sort of public map.  Guess Krakizbad who maintains this map decided that was convenient.  The numbers in each connected system represent the planet and moon where the Jump Bridge can be found.  So 10-1 means the Jump Bridge is at planet X, moon 1.  CFC isn't quite up to the insane standard of the old NC, but they're getting closer.

---snip---

I'm never going to be a fan of Tim Buckley, but I have to admit this comic is both funny and (mostly) true.

---snip---

Finally, when mentioning all of the interesting character-related EVE websites, I intended to mention eveskunk.com.  It's not strictly character-related, but it does have one function that I find quite useful: alliance standings information.  Want to know who Goonswarm has set blue at any given moment?  That's the place to check.

For instance, if you see two fleets in the same system and both belong to large alliances, that website will tell you if they're likely going to cooperate or fight, if the two alliances are big enough.  It's quite useful!

---snip---

And that's all for the junk drawer this month.

Sunset

Make hay while the sun shines has been my directive on the faction warfare site thing.  And now we've received confirmation from CCP Ytterbium that the sun will be going down this winter:
Current warzone control design is flawed as it does not encourage players to hold space, only to upgrade I-hubs when they need to buy stuff from the LP store to get massive reductions. Ideally we would want players fighting and struggling to keep control over their space, that is why we propose the following.

We would remove LP store price reduction in the new system, and only modify LP gained. As such, tier1 WZ would reduce all LP gains by 50%, tier2 would keep them on the same field as of now, tier3 would give a 100% LP gain bonus, tier4 150% and tier5 200% LP gain bonus. This would encourage factions to actually keep and maintain space to have the LP bonus rather than just push once in a while.
In short, instead of LP store items dropping to 25% of their cost when a particular faction pushes to tier 5, instead LP gain from sites will be tripled when that happens.  Interesting thing, though: along with other nerfs mentioned in the same post, this is shaping up to be something we've never seen from CCP before, a quintuple nerf.

First and by far the most important, this isn't mentioned in the post but buying virtually every item from faction LP stores requires both LP and ISK.  When a faction hits tier 5, the costs in both LP and ISK of items is reduced to 25% of their normal values.  This means that both LP and ISK go four times as far as they normally do at tier 5.  After this change is implemented, LP rewarded will be tripled but there will still be no ISK reward and as a result the ISK cost of items in the faction LP stores will be effectively quadrupling versus their tier 5 costs.  That's huge.  This one is the biggest current incentive to the large-scale running of FW sites by non faction warfare players.  Removing that incentive is a big deal.

Second, tripling the LP rewarded (at tier 5) is not quadrupling LP value (as tier 5 does today), so that's a nerf.

Third, it's relatively easy today to "push" to tier 5 and it only has to be done for short periods of time to gain the value from doing so.  When faction members want to "cash out", the faction tier is pushed to five for only a few hours at most, usually at a pre-announced time so the largest possible number of people can take advantage of it.  Since triple LP rewards will only be given when sites are run while the faction tier is that high and since maintaining that tier for long periods of time will probably be difficult (if not impossible), that's a major nerf.

Fourth, the post also states that the cost in LP to push to tier 5 in systems is being increased.  Granted "bleed" is also being reduced, but there's also going to be wastage during LP donation at high tiers.  That affects a faction's ability to defend their overall tier as they're building toward it.  There's going to be a buff to defending systems, but it will only be a partial bonus.  In the aggregate, particularly given the large number of systems that need to be pushed to high tiers to effect overall tier changes, I rate this one as a nerf.

Fifth and finally, vulnerable systems will apparently no longer pay LP, which unless I'm mistaken is going to greatly reduce the number of systems that site farming can be done in.  That will consolidate people running sites into fewer systems, which is a nerf.

When high-sec incursions were quadruple nerfed, this resulted in an enormous impact to the incursion community.  The exact numbers were shared with the CSM in May.  While the official Summit Minutes don't make those numbers public, rumors from the Russian version of the Minutes say that high-sec incursion site completions dropped more than 80%.  Expect to see the same here: just before these changes are implemented, we're going to see a rush on these sites followed by attempts to push to tier 5 by several factions so that a lot of occasional FW site runners can cash out for the last time.

After that, I expect FW site running on a large scale will all but disappear.  Should be pretty amusing.

But (and this is an important but) that change might well be an overall net positive for the real faction warfare players.  I know they hold full-time site-runners in contempt.  So driving them off might be regarded as a good thing.  There's apparently a second thread that will be started by CCP Ytterbium soon just on this issue.

So, more to come on this topic.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The emperor's new clothes

In June, I wrote what I thought would be the last post around here about Global Agenda.  That post was called "Saturation", a reference to the saturation of a color palette.  EVE is a dark game, blah blah blah yeah.  But I do want to cover one more aspect of this, circling from Global Agenda to Incarna and back. 

My previous post talked about how dark the ships of EVE are today.  Since I wrote that post, we have heard more from the art team about potential ship skins, both in interviews and in the CSM Summit Minutes.  I kind of poked fun at CCP about how dark all these ships were, focusing on the Amarr Guardian which was always one of the more brightly-colored and cheerful of EVE's ships.  Elise Randolph joked at the CSM Town Hall that that the previous color palette of the Guardian reminded him of Iron Man.(1)  In June, I guessed a little hopefully that the ships of EVE were being darkened with an eye toward developing and releasing more brightly colored ship skins that players could acquire, build, or purchase with Aurum.  The basic palette was dark to encourage this personalization, I guessed.

Since that time we've learned that that probably isn't the case, at least for now.  The art team and devs supporting them have apparently now done just enough research on this topic to decide that player-customizable ship skins would be a major undertaking.  They directly questioned the CSM (and through them, the players) on whether implementing ship skins would be a good use of resources... compared to other things the art team could be doing... like POSs.  And sure, put in that context, opinions are going to vary on that.  I've said that I'd like to see brighter colors in the game.  Other people think differently and I respect that.

Still, here's where Global Agenda comes into it.  As I said in the Saturation post, GA has a series of dye levels that you can apply to your character's armor.  Tier 1 dyes are pale and drab, tier 4 dyes are bright and vibrant, and tier 5 dyes are both vibrant and unusual with a lot of different variations in color and pattern.  And as the tier level goes up, the cost of those dyes goes up, both in in-game money and RL money.  As I said then, some of the most interesting dyes are only available with RL money.

But here's something important: in Global Agenda, the more colorful and vibrant a dye was the more popular it was and the more characters you saw moving around GA's cities and PvE areas using it.  People really got off on those more outrageous interesting colors.  And they didn't seem to mind having to pay for them.  Even if they bought one, if an even more outrageous one came out, sure enough you'd see them making the new purchase to stand out.

You would think that EVE is a different game with a different culture.  Me, I'm becoming increasingly not so sure.

I haven't written about this yet -- the Alliance Tournament got in the way -- but when Inferno was released, a number of new options in the NeX store were released at the same time.  And we've been told by CCP Unifex that these new items didn't take much in the way of developer time.  They were clothing designs the work for which had been done previously that simply hadn't been released yet.  A couple of things about these new clothing items interested me.

First, relative to the previous items that existed on the NeX, they're extraordinarily inexpensive.  The first wave of NeX items ranged from 1000 AUR (Men's 'Precision' Boots) all the way up to the 12000 AUR monocle of which so much has been written.  The average price of this first wave of items was about 3000 AUR, which equates to about $15 U.S. or so.  However, this second wave surprised me with prices that were about one-tenth of the first wave of items.  I believe the most expensive item in the second wave is 3500 AUR or so, but the bulk of the second-wave items are 100, 300 or 500 AUR.

The second surprising thing -- at least to me -- is that the second wave of items are more colorful, attractive, and interesting than the first wave of items.  Reds, golds, and camouflage prints are common among the new items, and even a couple of the items that are black advertise themselves as "true black"... which to put it in GA terms means that we're getting the tier 3 black instead of the more desaturated tier 1 black of, say, the Women's 'Structure' Skirt.

Am I boring you with this stuff?  Stick with me just a few more paragraphs.

It's tempting to say that EVE players don't care about this sort of thing.  It's tempting to say that they only care about spaceships.  It's tempting... but I'm not sure it's exactly true.  Because flying around space and looking at people's portraits, I'm seeing an increasing number of these more colorful items in use.

Far and away the most popular is the Men's 'Esquire' Coat, which comes in any color you like as long as that color is red and gold.  Sure, it's sadly layered on that desaturated almost-grey black of the first-wave items, but you can't have everything.  And most players display only the shoulders, neck piece, and throat of that coat in any case which are dominated by these bright colors.  Other vibrant items are also popular including the white and grey camo in two items, and if you zoom in on some of the ladies portraits you'll find the red heels or white boots make a lot of appearances.  And of course the four new militia-exclusive shirts are being purchased at LP stores and they are being bought, sold, and worn.

Like I said at the top of the piece, the more outrageous the colors and patterns HiRez introduced for Global Agenda, the more those players wanted them and they didn't mind paying a few bucks for the privilege.

Would EVE be the same way?  I suspect it might...

EVE blogger Ugleb covered a little bit of this about a month ago on his blog, stepping out of character briefly to farm an EVE-O forum thread on the general topic of WiS.  Most of the post deals with the WiS prototype that was demonstrated in Russia that I already alluded to earlier this month.  But Ugleb also found this gem from CCP t0rfifrans:
We'd like to put out more distinctive stuff, like the full body rubber female suits seen on Singularity, and a full body female leather strap catsuit, both which are important work attire for any serious capsuleer. If the clothes we're putting out now at lower prices sell well, we are very likely to kick off the manufacturing pipeline again, where we were planning to do more exotic ( cyberpunk, pirate etc ) clothes, than the more plain business and military clothes we have now.
Gotta say, I'm completely in favor of that and I think a lot of other people secretly are too.  Anything that CCP can do to further emotionally tie players to the game is a good thing as far as I'm concerned.  And even if only 5% of the player base is interested in this stuff, if this keeps them around, the small amount of dev time devoted to it would be worth it in my opinion.  And of course as I've already said, the WiS Sleeper station thing is quite intriguing.

All in all, I look forward to seeing what Torfi's team comes up with!


(1) My immediate response to that would be "And?  What's wrong with that?"  ;-)

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Fit of the Week: Incursus parade

A couple of weeks ago, I made a reference to a tanky Incursus fit that could easily handle most faction warfare sites.  So let's talk about the fit that I prefer for this, along with a fun little fit that you can use to hunt them.  So this is sort of a combo week: a couple of PvE fits and a PvP fit.  ;-)  It's also a good continuation for some low SP FOTWs.

Here's the starter PvE fit:

[Incursus, Starter]
Small Armor Repairer II
Small Armor Repairer II
Prototype Armor Thermic Hardener I
Prototype Armor Kinetic Hardener I

Small Peroxide Capacitor Power Cell
Cap Recharger II
Limited 1MN Afterburner I

Prototype Cloaking Device I
[empty high slot]
[empty high slot]

Small Capacitor Control Circuit I
Small Capacitor Control Circuit I
Small Capacitor Control Circuit I


This version is for running Caldari and Gallente FW sites.  For Amarr ones, trade the Kinetic Hardener for an EM Hardener.  For Minmatar ones, trade the Kinetic Hardener for an Explosive Hardener.  That cloak is completely optional but will be useful for hiding out in systems if you're being hunted.  Everything else about this fit has very low fitting requirements and is very cheap.  The T2 armor reppers are probably the hardest part to fit, and they only require Repair Systems III and Mechanic III.

The Small Capacitor Battery is an often-overlooked module.  But with low skill points, it actually does a better job of ensuring cap stability, particularly when mated to CCC rigs.  I know a lot of people prefer single-rep versions of this fit using the armor rigs that increase repair amount and the speed of the single repper.  I don't like these fits for a few reasons.  First, CCC rigs are cheaper than armor rigs.  In addition, armor rigs have additional skill requirements and they slow you down, two things that will hurt you in an FW site.  Third and most surprisingly, it's easier to set up and maintain cap stability as you skill up with those triple CCCs even if they're running two reppers.

And of course you don't have to run both reppers all the time if you don't need them.

As your skill points increase, modules should be changed in the following order:
  • As your Electronics skill increases, trade the meta4 Capacitor Battery for a tech2 version.
  • As your Navigation skill increases, trade the meta Afterburner for a tech2 version.
  • As your energy management skills increase, trade the cap battery in for a second cap recharger.
  • And finally, as your armor repair skills increase, trade the meta hardeners in for tech2 versions.
Once either your Energy Management or Repair Systems skill hits Level V, you can use this fit:

[Incursus, Finisher]
Small Armor Repairer II
Small Armor Repairer II
Armor Kinetic Hardener II
Armor Thermic Hardener II

Cap Recharger II
Cap Recharger II
1MN Afterburner II

[empty high slot]
[empty high slot]
Prototype Cloaking Device I

Small Capacitor Control Circuit I
Small Capacitor Control Circuit I
Small Capacitor Control Circuit I


Again, the advantages of this fit over some of the other fits published that use armor rigs are lower SP requirements and expense.  As I write this, small CCC rigs are staying very close to 400k ISK each whereas the armor rigs are generally between 500 and 600.  Small Armor Repairers are also running much cheaper than the additional hardener the alternate fit requires.  Ironically enough (for people who criticize me about this sometimes), the dual-rep fit is also an easier fit at low SP.  It's also up to 200m/s faster depending on exact skills, which is fairly critical when dealing with a higher end FW site.

Even without T2 hardeners, this Incursus will handle most major FW sites pretty easily, tanking between 160 and 180 DPS depending on the exact site make-up with a tiny sig radius.  The T2 hardeners add another 10-15 DPS to that.  Any version of this fit will easily handle minor and standard sites.  Guns (and even a drone), as I've said before, are superfluous.  Sig radius is also tiny, at 42 meters.

Suppose you want to hunt those running FW sites?  Well, I thought it'd be fun to come up with an Incursus fit for that, too:

[Incursus, FW Hunter]
Pseudoelectron Containment Field I
Magnetic Field Stabilizer II
Adaptive Nano Plating II
Small Armor Repairer II

Limited 1MN MicroWarpdrive I
Faint Warp Disruptor I
Small Capacitor Booster II, Navy Cap Booster 200

Light Neutron Blaster II, Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge S
Light Neutron Blaster II, Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge S
Light Neutron Blaster II, Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge S

Small Hybrid Burst Aerator I
Small Anti-Explosive Pump I
Small Auxiliary Nano Pump I

Hobgoblin II x1


Make no mistake: this is the top end version of this fit!  If you have lower SP, fit meta neutrons.  Those fit even with no Advanced Weapon Upgrades skill at all, and you only sacrifice about 20 DPS.  If you still can't make the fit work, go ahead and use meta ions, or downshift the repper to the meta version.

One downside to hunting with an Incursus is that you don't have a utility high slot.  Normally, this kind of ship should have a NOS.  Because you're so cap-dependent both for catching your prey -- you're going to be spending a lot of time on MWD -- and for your guns, that means a cap booster.  A web or a scram might be nice but since you'll mostly be fighting after-burning ships and trying to close range, that means burning a lot of cap.  The low slots give you a basic solid defense against other frigates should they happen to be armed.  ;-)

Don't forget to launch your drone!  It's an important part of your DPS.  And don't even bother opening fire until you've landed on your target's face.  Your optimal range is only 1km, with a 3km fall-off.  Save your cap and your ammo for when they can do some good.  The important thing is getting your point on the target.

The advantage to using an Incursus to hunt FW site-runners is that you'll look innocuous.  The Incursus is probably now the most common single ship in FW space, and anyone who sees one is going to assume that you're just another FW site runner looking for easy LP.  You can enter any type of FW site looking for prey and you might be mistaken as completely harmless even if you enter a site with another player running it.  Overheated, that MWD will allow you to pounce on someone 50km away in between 10 and 15 seconds, depending on skill.  If the site-runner isn't paying attention to the screen (many don't), he might not notice you at all before you land on him.

That's a recipe for a lot of quick low-sec kills.  And your self-rep will allow you to repair any gate gun damage you might take between systems.  Obviously, don't hang out on gates unless you wish to die...

The other disadvantage to using an Incursus for this role is that the PvE version of this ship is most common in Caldari and Gallente space.  Which means that your targets will be tanking against blasters, the exact damage type you're doing.  You don't have a NOS with which to shut down those hardeners.  Still, you will be doing enough DPS that yours, combined with the DPS of the site, will break the tank of your targets.  And of course any ships of this type you encounter in Minmatar or Amarr space will be easy meat with little resistance to your weapons.

Whether you're looking to run FW sites or prey on those who do, the Incursus is now a fine frigate.  She's clearly one of the winners of the frig rebalancing and should be fun and useful to fly for some time to come.


All Fits of the Week are intended as general guidelines only.  You may not have the skills needed for this exact fit.  If you do not, feel free to adjust the fit to suit to meet your skills, including using meta 3 guns and "best named" defenses and e-war.  Ships can also be adjusted to use faction or dead-space modules depending on the budget of the pilot flying it.  Each FOTW is intended as a general guide to introduce you to concepts that will help you fit and to fly that particular type of ship more aggressively and well.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

What to do

I'm a big fan of this little site which is a giant clickable graphic of many (most? all?) of the game play options in EVE Online.

This blog has never really been about "what I do in EVE".  Sure, I've written about it when I was running for CSM but this isn't the sort of blog where you show up and find out what I've been doing this week.  Ain't my thing.  There are lots of blogs for that.  Still, I thought it might be amusing to make a big list of all the things in the WTD site and then document the ones I've tried, how often I play EVE that way myself, and when the last time I did this or that thing in EVE was.

So that's below.  Consider this a post that kind of informs my perspective on EVE Online and where I'm coming from.  For reference, I normally operate with one main income source and one supplemental income source.  For the table below, "most recently" represents the most recent time I engaged in that activity.  "For how long" is either how long I engaged in that activity, or for ones I'm doing today, how long I've been doing it for.  For activities I engage in today, "How frequently" is how often I engaged in them.  For obsolete activites, "How frequently" is how often I engaged in them when I did so.

CategoryActivityDone?    Most recently    How longHow frequently
PvEWormhole sitesYesMid-2010Six monthsDaily(1)
PvEExploration/SignaturesYesToday/activeFour yearsEvery few months
PvEExploration/AnomaliesYesToday/activeFour yearsEvery few weeks
PvEFacWar/SignaturesYesToday/activeFew monthsEvery few days
PvERattingYesToday/activeFive yearsEvery few days(2)
PvEIncursionsYes2012One yearEvery few months(3)
PvEIncursions/TradingNo


PvEMissions/StandardYesLate 2011Four yearsAlmost daily(4)
PvEMissions/FacWarNo


PvEMissions/Epic arcsNo


PvEMissions/COSMOSNo

(5)
PvEMissions/SalvagingYesLate 2011Four yearsAlmost daily(6)
PvEMissions/R&DYesToday/activeThree yearsPassive income
PvEMissions/GriefingNo


PvEMissions/Ninja salv    Yes2010Few months     Almost never
PvPGate-campingYes2012Three yearsEvery few weeks
PvPRoaming gangsYesToday/activeFour yearsAlmost daily(7)
PvPRansomingNo


PvPSuicide gankingYes2010One monthAlmost daily(8)
PvPNinja lootingYesToday/activeThree yearsAlmost daily
PvPContract scammingNo


PvPTrade window scamsNo


PvPCorp theftNo


PvPPsychological warfareYesToday/activeTwo yearsAlmost daily
PvPRatter/bot huntingYes2011Two yearsEvery few weeks(9)
PvPCan flippingNo


PvPCorp spyingNo


PvPScoutingYes2011Two yearsEvery few days
PvPSolo PvPYes2012Two yearsEvery few weeks
PvPWardec griefingNo


PvPRed vs BlueNo


PvPFaction warfareYesLate 2009Eight monthsEvery day(10)
PvPMercenary contractsNo


PvPStructure bashingYesMid 2011One yearEvery few days
PvPHomeland defenseYesToday/activeTwo yearsAlmost daily
PvPSov warYesMid 2011Two yearsAlmost daily
MiningAsteroid beltsYes2012Five yearsAlmost daily(11)
MiningGrav sitesYes2010Six monthsAlmost daily(12)
MiningMission oreYes2010One yearEvery few weeks
MiningIce beltsYes2011Two yearsEvery few weeks
MiningLADAR sites (gas)Yes2010Six monthsEvery few days(12)
MiningMoonNo

(13)
MiningPlanetary interactionYesToday/active18 monthsPassive income
IndustryStation tradingYes2011Two yearsEvery few months
IndustryMarket manipulationYes2012Two yearsEvery few weeks
IndustryLoansNo


IndustryReprocessingYes2011Three yearsEvery few weeks(9)
IndustryBlueprint researchYesToday/activeTwo yearsDaily
IndustryT1 manufacturingYesToday/activeTwo yearsDaily
IndustryT2 inventionYesToday/activeTwo yearsDaily
IndustryT2 manufacturingYesToday/activeTwo yearsDaily(7)(14)
IndustryT3 manufacturingNo


IndustryCapital manufacturingNo

(5)
IndustryCOSMOS manufacturingNo


Industry  Drug manufacturingNo


HaulingNPC goods tradingYes2009Two yearsDaily(15)
HaulingCourier contractsYes2009Two yearsDaily(15)
HaulingLow-sec/null logisticsYes2012Two yearsEvery few months
PlayerCreate corpsNo


PlayerPvP tournamentsYes2012TwiceWeekly
PlayerRacesNo


PlayerLotteriesNo


PlayerCreate graphicsNo


PlayerWritingYesToday/activeTwo yearsAlmost daily(16)
PlayerRole-playingNo

Hm.  That was kind of diverting.  It certainly reminded me of a couple of things that I want to try in-game.  It also reminds you just how many options there are in EVE Online!  It surprises me how many things I haven't tried yet.  I think I'll do this kind of post once a year or so and see how things change over time.


(1) In 2010, this was my main income source.
(2) Today, I do this mostly for sec status.  In 2010 and early 2011, this was my supplemental income source.
(3) In late 2011, this was my supplemental income source.
(4) In 2009 and early 2010, this was my main income source.
(5) I've taken a lot of notes on this and plan to try it out.  Just haven't gotten around to it.
(6) With the most recent salvage nerf, I almost never salvage rat wrecks any more even outside of missions.
(7) I'd characterize this as one of my two main EVE play styles today.
(8) I tried this for a month almost every day, got bored with it, and stopped.  I prefer targets that shoot back.
(9) I need to go do some of this again.  It was fun and/or profitable.
(10) For that time period, this was my main EVE play style.
(11) In 2008, this was my main income source.  In 2009, it was my supplemental income source.  I've always found mining very relaxing.  I actually tried this with the new mining lasers early this year, just to see if it still was.  It was.
(12) This was confined to wormhole grav sites.
(13) Did this on Singularity for a while to get a feel for it.
(14) This is currently my main income source.
(15) This was my supplemental income source in 2008.
(16) This is currently my supplemental income source.

In flux

EVE players are not game designers.  I've said this often enough, and it's something that I really believe.  Often, when EVE players make a suggestion to change an aspect of the game's design, they overlook something obvious that makes their suggestion bad ideas.  As a result, while I've always been a big fan of pointing out things I perceive as problems with the game, I often stop there.  I don't often advocate a solution, even a temporary solution, because not only are EVE players poor game designers, but CCP has flat-out stated on a number of occasions that they prefer this.  They'd much rather have players point out the parts of the game that are a problem and let them come up with the solution.

Still, from time to time, my ability to resist making suggestions overwhelms me.  ;-)

Everyone knows my annoyance with the current technetium situation.  But I've been asked three times in the last week "Is there something that you could suggest to 'fix' technetium temporarily that wouldn't be a major development effort?"  CCP has said they're going to work on a long-term solution, but have also said that long-term solution will take "several release cycles" or some-such.  That says to me that we can't expect a fix to technetium for at least a year.(1)  So over the weekend, I thought it over.  Why not me?  I've got a good understanding of the technetium production cycle and what it's used in, and I have a very good understanding of tech2 research and manufacturing.  Is there something I could suggest?  And after thinking it over and running some numbers, yes, I have a suggestion.

My suggestion has the following benefits:
  • it would be very quick to implement requiring very little developer time;
  • it would shake up the current technetium monopoly that OTEC enjoys without destroying their finances or investment;
  • it would create several important new conflict drivers; and,
  • it would at least partially remove technetium as a T2 production bottle-neck; but,
  • it wouldn't completely disrupt the economy or the current production chain.

To explain my suggestion, I'll have to give a bit of background.  T2 items are built from a combination of minerals, a small amount of morphite, a couple of items that I collectively think of as "tools" (but which EVE calls "Robotic Assembly Modules", or R.A.M.s), and one or two specialty items built from moon-goo.  These specialty items are ultimately built from "advanced materials", of which there are 11.  Six of the 11 are materials that I think of as "armor alloys" and they can be ignored for the purposes of this discussion since so relatively little of them are used and their use is specialized.  That leaves five much more commonly-used advanced materials: ferrogel, fullerides, hypersynaptic fibers, nanotransistors, and fermionic condensates.  Technetium is currently a bottle-neck because it is a major component in the creation of two of these five items, nanotransistors and fullerides.

Of the two, nanotransistors are the key one.  The number of things nanotransistors go into is truly staggering, mostly because nanotransistors go into the fundamental "CPU" items for all four races, the "sensor clusters" for all four races, and the "battery" for all four races.  I'm not exaggerating when I say those twelve "specialty items" go into virtually every T2 ship, module, and piece of ammunition.

This was bad planning on CCP's part, and the long-term fix to the tech2 production chain is going to have to focus on this more than anything else.  Those raw materials needed for those twelve items should be spread out among a variety of moon minerals and other materials, but that's a big change and that's the part that's going to take a lot of time.  That's why we're not going to see a long-term fix to the production chain before late 2013.

Fullerides, by contrast, primarily go into tech2 ammunition, weapons, and ship hulls.  It's probably the second most important advanced material.  But fullerides don't go into the awesome spread of modules that nanotransistors do.

What's my suggestion?

Today, the reactions that create both fullerides and nanotransistors use (among other things) 100 units of platinum technite, the intermediate material made from platinum and technetium, or now produced through alchemy.  My suggestion involves one database change: change those required 100 units of platinum technite for either fullerides or nanotransistors to 100 units of fluxed condensates instead.

What's a fluxed condensate?  It's another intermediate material, made from two completely different moon-goos: neodymium and thulium.(2)  Both are pretty much ignored right now: there's only a couple million units of each for sale in Jita.  Where are the neo and thul moons?  Haven't a clue.  EVE players would have to go out and find them.  But amusingly enough, both are R64 moons like promethium and dysprosium, the previous tech2 bottle-neck materials.  So presumably there aren't all that many of them out there.  So they'd definitely very quickly become major conflict drivers.  In the meantime, there's already a fluxed condensate alchemy reaction in the game, too.  That'd keep the T2 production chains working while the war over neo and thul sorted itself out.

Technetium would still be extremely valuable because it would retain its position in one of the two key tech2 production chains.  But the two new moon-goos would take over the other.  CCP could choose the advanced material to change based on how big a change they wanted to make to the market.  Changing platnium technite to fluxed condensates for nanotransistors would be a major change affecting most T2 ships and modules.  Changing it for fullerides would be a more moderate change affecting a far smaller (and more PvP-focused) selection of T2 ships and modules.

So there you go: one small, easy-to-implement change that would totally shake up the technetium bottle-neck for the next year while CCP implements a more permanent solution.  In the meantime, there would be massive new capital and super-capital ship battles to take control of these two valuable resources and the T2 production chain and market-place would get a good hard shake.

Or am I missing something obvious that would make this a bad idea?


(1) And again, alchemy is not a fix.  All alchemy does is reset the price clock to April 2011.  All of the underlying issues associated with tech aren't addressed in the slightest by alchemy.  It's not a fix.  It's not even a band-aid.  It's a temporary change that will lower the price of tech, and that's all.
(2) For the record, fluxed condensates are currently one of four intermediate materials going into fermionic condensates, one of the six advanced materials I collectively think of as "armor alloys."  Currently, other than a few very minor T2 mods, fermionic condensates (and therefore fluxed condensates) are only used for T2 ship production.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Quote of the Week: Births and death

It was a pretty quiet week in EVE last week, so I'm going to go with a trio of off-beat announcements.  Two are announcing births.  The other, a death.

As I've mentioned before, my favorite of all the Star Treks is Deep Space Nine, for a variety of reasons.  But a big one was the on-going character development that happened over the course of the series.  The series regulars changed and grew as people and as they did, their personalities, situations, and lives developed.  You know, kinda like real people.  Unlike the other Treks where the characters were flies in amber, forever trapped in a single moment in time, DS9 allowed its characters some story arcs.

Still, as the series went on, it did have one constant running gag and that was the annual "torture O'Brien" episode.  The purpose of this annual event was to put one of the series regulars, Chief Miles O'Brien, into some horrible situation and make him deal with it.

I'm starting to think that Mord Fiddle over at Fiddler's Edge is bringing back this tradition with an annual "torture Mittens" post.  Now granted, Mord's been pretty fixated on Mittens and on the Goons for quite a while, since the start of the "foreverwar".  Still, last year's torture Mittens post was a classic, probably the single best EVE blog post that was written last year.(1)  Which makes this year's version all the more amusing.  Here's the opening shot (which I've altered slightly for reasons which I expect will be obvious):
The Mittani is dead.

Which is not to say that he's dead, dead.  I mean [Mittens], some-time lawyer and full-time bacon aficionado is, to the best of my knowledge, still among the quick.  He is likely in Wisconsin, happily  deep-frying cheese curds as I write this.  But, while his in-game alter-ego persists in the digital sense, Mittens is no more.
Go read it, because it's damned amusing and very much worth your time.

The first birth announcement is, of course, the linking of DUST 514 to Singularity, EVE's official test server:
Today on August 27, 2012, we have reached another milestone with opening DUST 514 on our test server Singularity for EVE players.

DUST 514 was moved to Singularity earlier last week and available there for DUST players.
Don't have much to say about this one except that of course DUST 514 mercenaries continue to not be spaceship-shaped.  The repeat of :18months: development on micro-transaction space pants, minus the accompanying space-rage, appears to be moving right along.  Don't worry though.  For the second birth announcement, EVE is getting logistics frigates.  'cause if there's anything EVE's roaming T1 frig gangs were crying out for, it was an unarmed ship specifically designed to keep them from dying...

Like I said, pretty quiet week.  ;-)


(1) Yes, I was jealous.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Velatowned

These are just funny:
http://eve-kill.net/?a=kill_detail&kll_id=14441128
http://eve-kill.net/?a=kill_detail&kll_id=14441314

As I understand it, Transmission Lost was working on a POS in this wormhole with three capital ships floating free inside it (here's the POS KM).  Leaving capital ships inside a POS's shield bubble is pretty typical in w-space.  The defending corp apparently wasn't able or willing to defend the POS itself.  Once the POS was down, just for laughs the Transmission Lost guys all acquired and got into Velators to kill the three capital ships.  Why not capture them?  I assume because WH guys are rich enough?  More seriously J111603, where the ships died, is a class 3 WH and to my knowledge you can't remove capital ships from them.  So unless you want to leave them there, you don't have many choices: you blow them up or you self-destruct them yourself.  Besides, capital ships dying to Velators gets written about.  Capturing capital ships?  Not so much.  ;-)

Anyway, the pilot of one of the capital ships apparently arrived and self-destructed one of the ships (a Thanatos) in time to prevent it appearing as a loss-mail.  According to Transmission Lost, the owner of the Nidhoggur and Naglfar also arrived but he decided differently.  He attempted to use the Nag to shoot down the Velators, unsuccessfully.  When the Nag died, he jumped into the Nid and tried to do the same thing and that didn't work any better... because all the carrier had aboard were fighters.

Whoops.

If the story is true, very cute!  Even if it isn't, these are a pair of pretty fun KMs.  Nice going, guys!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Kill of the Week: Perfect storm

I hate to pick on my old alliance, but this one really is a perfect storm.  Of dumb:
http://eve-kill.net/?a=kill_detail&kll_id=14416553

Let's see if we can catalog all the mental errors involved in this loss mail.  Because there's several of them.

We'll start with this thread on the EVE Online forums.  Homo Enigmaticus, the pilot involved in this loss mail, was advertised there as a near-perfect Titan pilot.  Gallente Titan V, Doomsday Operation V, JDC V, Capital Hybrid Turret V, and lots of very nice Leadership skills, including Fleet Command IV.  80 million SP all told, and if the buyer over-paid a bit at 35 billion, it's a dumb but forgivable error.  There aren't a lot of near-perfect Titan pilots for sale, after all, and it's a purchase you only have to make once.  But then the buyer, Anoxim Acore, makes the dumb and unforgivable error of buying the character with his main.

Guys, when you buy a super-cap pilot, use an alt.  You're not required to advertise to your enemies exactly who your Titan pilots are before he even sits down in the thing.  Needless to say, any serious potential enemy FC of LAWN likely logged this transaction right away and added the pilot to their watch lists.

Amusingly enough, Hellakhanasos in that same thread predicts the future (edited for clarity):
Don't sell to CFC scrub, dishonour will come to the character & character's family and it will be used by a noob =(
Good call.

Next up, it seems clear from what I've heard from a couple of old LAWN friends that this guy was on public comms declaring his intent to jump his Titan into supposedly friendly space.  Next pro-tip: if you're not part of a fleet, nobody needs to know you're moving your super-cap but you.  If you can afford a Titan, you can afford a cyno alt to scout out the system and there's no need to tell everyone what you're planning.  It's now also pretty clear that LAWN's comms were compromised and the moment this pilot declared his intent to jump his Titan, NCdot started putting together a tackle op.

Had this guy scouted the system in question himself, he might have noticed that the system was badly compromised.  Apparently, he didn't bother.  It's OK, it's not like he had any warning, like another friendly Titan dying in supposedly friendly territor-- owait.

So, why was it so important to jump into this compromised system?  themittani.com's coverage of the incident says:
He actually jumped into the system deliberately to bridge 13 bros in subcaps out. It was not a misclick.
Gods, I hope that's a troll.

If you're curious which news site has the better coverage of this incident, that would be EVE News 24, which has not only the art and the key details, it has a video of the kill.  It also has a bit of Local chat porn:
[00:26:06] anoxim_acore> IM TAACKLED
[00:26:09] anoxim_acore> IN QPO
[00:26:13] anoxim_acore> NEED HELP
[00:26:32] Venetian Tar> ping the dudes with stars
[00:26:33] anoxim_acore> please
[00:26:36] anoxim_acore> HELP
[00:27:53] anoxim_acore> HELP
[00:27:57] anoxim_acore> IM TACKLED
[00:28:16] anoxim_acore> IM IN QPO
Everyone, warp to anoxim... owait.

Congrats on the very nice kills, NCdot!  I'm very jealous.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

No problem

Warning: the following post could be based around a massive troll.

The discussion about technetium over the last few weeks raises an interesting question: how far would a sov-holding alliance get if they didn't have tech moon income?

There's a funny thing about being a recognized blogger.  People want to tell you stuff.  About three times a year, someone sends me the financial spreadsheets (or links to them, or screen-caps of them) for big, sov-holding, moon-holding alliances.  Make no mistake: running a big alliance's financials is a business.  I've been in the business world for 25 years now, more or less, and I can tell you that there are multimillion dollar companies that run their finances with fewer spreadsheets, graphs, tables, and personnel then some big null-sec alliances.  And the more transparent an alliance's finances are, the more likely it is that someone will feel the need to send me some of this stuff.

I don't mind.  It's interesting stuff!  I immediately have to tell the people involved that I can't use the data right away.  "Never single source anything," is a hard and fast rule of both spy-craft and source-based writing.  The easiest way to lose a source is to use that source's data if it hasn't been corroborated with other sources.  "This is really interesting!" I say, "I can't use it now, but I'll use it eventually.  I don't want you to be identified as the source."  I explain this, and virtually everyone involved understands.  If they don't understand, I delete what they send me.

Hint for bloggers and prospective bloggers: if someone is desperate for you to use what they send you right now, you're being trolled.

I've fallen victim or almost fallen victim to it a time or two.  Hell, I might be falling for it right now.  But still, the information I've gathered in this regard over the last couple of years is from multiple sources, internally consistent, and passes all the sniff tests I've been able to subject it to.  So let's talk about it.  I'll change the numbers very slightly to protect the guilty.  And let's keep in mind that I'm talking about sov-holding, moon-holding alliances... CFC alliances, to be perfectly frank.

Let's say that in a particular month in 2011, Goonswarm Federation brought in about 175 billion ISK from "moon-goo sales."  It wasn't that, but it was close to that.  If I were to compare that to their operating expenses, what do you think that would pay for?
  • Their ship reimbursement fund.
  • Their ship-building and outfitting subsidies.
  • Their sovereignty costs.
  • The fuel for all of their towers.
  • Their super-cap building program.
  • All of the above.
Think about it for a second.  Then read on.

The answer is the first, second, and third: moon-goo paid for their full reimbursement fund for both sub-caps and capital ships, their outfitting fund and subsidies for new super-caps and capital ships, and their sovereignty costs.  The first two were about 140 billion.  The third was about 25 billion.  There was even enough left over to pay about a quarter of their POS fuel bill, too.

And it turns out that if I make this comparison for other months in 2011 or 2012, or for other CFC-member finance spreadsheets I've been shown over the last couple of years, that's very consistent.  TEST has one quarter the tech moons of Goons but they have other moons to make up the difference.  Their moon income combined pays for their ship reimbursements, subsidies, and sov costs, plus a small fraction of their POS fuel bill.  The smaller CFC alliances are a half or a quarter of these budgets, but the proportions remain the same.  Moon income pays for reimbursement, ship subsidies, and sovereignty.  Minor income sources pay for the rest.

Put another way, if moon income disappeared tomorrow, the budgets for CFC sovereignty and PvP would also disappear.  And of course without the sovereignty or the PvP budget, the need for or the ability to do the rest -- fuel POSes, build super-caps, et cetera -- would also disappear.

Put yet a third way, members of these alliances don't have to do any active PvE to pay these alliance-level costs because all of that is paid for by passive income.

In the immortal words of Jubal Early, that seem right to you?

Nope, no problem with tech at all.

Pining for the fjords

I'm sorry to extend this topic by another day, but I would like to clear something up.

Yes, this blog started as a means to publicize my run for CSM6.  But let's be clear: that run ended 17 months ago.  The blog has evolved quite a bit since then.  This is no longer a CSM election blog (if honestly, it ever was).  And yet people seem to think that I continue to be butt-hurt about a space election I was involved in almost two years ago.

The latest person to fall into this trap is Poetic Stanziel, who has written a very eloquent treatise about how the fact that I am criticizing CSM7 indicates that I am obviously planning to run for CSM8.  And that my run started this month.  And that I'm still butt-hurt about CSM6.  And that I won't run for CSM8 unless I'm guaranteed a seat.  Or something.  Never mind.  It's not that eloquent.

It is a common accusation, though.(1)  So I need to be pretty clear on this.  Back in January, I wrote two little posts wherein I gave a lot of very good reasons for me not to run for CSM.

Know what's changed between January and August?  Not very much!

That said, am I going to make some kind of Shermanesque statement guaranteeing that I'll never ever run?  Nope.  "Never say never" as the saying goes.  But I will say this: there is about a 98% chance that not only will I not be running for CSM8, I won't be running for any other CSM, either.  The reasons that I didn't run for CSM7 for the most part still apply, the most important of them being that I feel like I have the right level of influence on CCP doing just what I'm doing and I don't want my blog operating under a CCP NDA.

Guys: I like being a free agent.  That's not likely to change any time soon.

So, if I'm not presenting myself as the Second Coming or something, why am I giving CSM7 such a hard time?  That's easy: because so far taken as a group, they're not impressing me!  Individual members here and there?  Yes.  This CSM as a whole?  No.  That's what I do around here: if I see something that I like, I point it out.  If I see something I don't like, I point that out.  I don't have a hard-on for beating up CSMs.  If you read my posts regarding CSM6, you'll find that overall I was very pleased with the job they did.  Ditto CSM5 despite them (in my view) tripping at the finish line.

There's no hidden agendas here, I assure you.  If I like something, I say that.  If I don't, I say that.

A number of comments on the two posts yesterday agree with me about CSM7's performance thus far, and that's fine (and the CSM should read those comments!).  Some of you disagree and think that the CSM is doing a good job, and that's fine too.  I disagree with you, but good people of principle sometimes disagree.  Thank you to both sides for taking the time to post your thoughts!

When CSM7 was voted into office, I said they had their work cut out for them and I wished them luck.  I was disappointed when Mittens removed himself, but I felt the remainder was still a good, solid group.  Let's be clear: I don't have a vendetta against them individually or as a group.  But so far, I don't feel that they're representing the typical EVE player or taking the opinions of EVE players seriously.  This is strange to me because a number of them were on CSM6 and they did a much better job of it that time around.

I also don't feel like the group is really showing results.  Do they deserve kudos for the longer Minutes?  Sure.  But that's the only accomplishment that I can see they've made in their term to date, and as an accomplishment, its value is somewhat mixed.  CSM5 Chair Mynxee (who would know about this sort of thing) put it really well in her comment on my post yesterday:
I read the minutes. Lots of talking, sure, but if you analyze it, how many actual decisions got made and action items committed to? Didn't seem like very many for 160 pages worth of conversation.
Like I keep saying, measure results, not effort.  Doing a lot of work is great.  But the value in work is what it produces, not the work itself.  That's what my second post yesterday was about.  I don't want CSM7 to fail.  I want them to succeed.  And there's still lots and lots of time for them to do so.  But in my opinion, they're not succeeding yet.

Whew!  I was going to write one more CSM post this month, about the election process and the White Paper and that whole stake-holder thing, but you know what?  Screw that noise.  I'll write it next month when the topic comes up for public conversation.  Enough CSM stuff for a while.  Time to go finish editing my fun post for today.

Thanks for the interesting fiction, Poetic, but bzzzzt.  Wrong answer.


(1) I still smile when I think about White Rose Conventicle's article early this year proving I was going to run for CSM7... posted the day before my post stating that I wasn't running was published.

Fit of the Week: XLASB Caracal

I think for the next month or so, I'm going to go with FOTWs that can be done on a budget, with lower skill points, or that are just plain fun and goofy for newer players to try out.  With that in mind, let's start with this one:

[Caracal, Rocket Tank]
Ballistic Control System II
Power Diagnostic System II

Experimental 10MN MicroWarpdrive I
J5b Phased Prototype Warp Scrambler I
X5 Prototype Engine Enervator
X-Large Ancillary Shield Booster, Navy Cap Booster 400
Adaptive Invulnerability Field II

Rocket Launcher II, Scourge Rage Rocket
Rocket Launcher II, Scourge Rage Rocket
Rocket Launcher II, Scourge Rage Rocket
Rocket Launcher II, Scourge Rage Rocket
Rocket Launcher II, Scourge Rage Rocket

Medium Bay Loading Accelerator I
Medium Anti-EM Screen Reinforcer I
Medium Processor Overclocking Unit I

Warrior II x2


OK, first off, this is the top end version of the fit.  You're absolutely welcome to downgrade those rocket launchers to meta ones.  I just include the tech2 to show that the tech2 versions fit.  Everything else on this fit has very low SP requirements.  If you use meta rocket launchers, you need Weapon Upgrades II.  If you use T2 versions, you need Weapon Upgrades IV.  And you need Electronics V and Engineering V.  But that's it.  If you're still having CPU issues, downgrade that Invul to the meta version.  With that said, let's talk about this fit a little bit.

Cruisers are EVE's collective red-headed step-child.  You almost never see them flown in any sort of serious fleet.  They just don't have a role that some other type of ship can't perform much better.  Assault frigs and Interceptors can out-DPS them, and the jump from cruiser to BC is so short right now that if you want to tank, 99% of the time, it's worth it to spend the extra ISK to buy something that can provide that tank.  There's no class of ship in EVE that needs re-balancing more.  As a result, when you do see cruisers used in PvP, they're invariably "LOL T1 cruisers"... a whole fleet of ships where the pilots involved do not care if they live or die.

For various reasons, I sometimes like to bring Caracals to such fleets.  I just have a soft spot in my heart for them.  Maybe it's because "Caldari ships suck at PvP" and I just want to go for the gold.

In my opinion, the best way to fit a Caracal for this kind of fleet is in the anti-frigate role.  Sure, if you try really hard, you can wedge Heavy Missile Launchers onto a Caracal but you won't live long enough to actually use them if you do.  The Caracal just lacks the grid for HMLs.  And unfortunately, the Rapid Light Missile Launcher in its current iteration is basically useless.  It should be tailor-made for this kind of ship and role, but its DPS is just too low to seriously consider.  Maybe if this weapon gets a looking at when CCP starts re-balancing cruisers I'll revisit this topic.  But for now, there's no point to using them.

Besides, with the new missile graphics, a Caracal flinging dozens of rockets is just a glorious sight to behold.  ;-)

Where this ship becomes really fun, though, is the tank.  By far the most important and expensive module fitted to it is the new XL Ancillary Shield Booster.  This item is taking the bulk of your grid, the bulk of your CPU... and it's worth it.  With a single resist rig and an Invul, base tank is in the 500-550 DPS range.  In short, you can tank a whole fleet of T1 frigates.  That's pretty optimal for a anti-frigate cruiser, I think you'll agree.  And if you have overheating skills, that number climbs past 750 DPS!  Each pulse of the ASB will return about half your shields, so you'll have to be diligent and careful in its use.  But if you're smart, the ASB gives you something like 35000 effective shield HP to play with, far more than any T1 cruiser should be able to tank.

That gives you a lot of time to kill you some frigates.  With good skills and T2 launchers, you're doing about 200 DPS.  With lesser skills and meta launchers, it's closer to 150-160.  Still, that's sufficient to crack many frigate tanks, particularly if there's some portion of a LOL T1 cruiser gang nearby to help.  And since Caracals often get primaried right off the bat (they currently have a reputation for thin tanks), you'll be increasing the LOLs by tanking whole fleets of frigates while you and your buddies rack up some kills.  And of course you can kill larger things as well.  Get your scram and web on your target, shut down your MWD, and your sig drops to a mere 150-160m, not much bigger than the premiere heavy tacklers in the game.  Feel free to tackle a BC or battleship, confident that you'll be able to survive its guns while your fleet kills it.

Either way, everything on this ship works better the closer you are to your targets.  Feel free to get right up in people's faces.  This ship can take it.

Have fun getting some LOLs with your LOL cruiser!


All Fits of the Week are intended as general guidelines only.  You may not have the skills needed for this exact fit.  If you do not, feel free to adjust the fit to suit to meet your skills, including using meta 3 guns and "best named" defenses and e-war.  Ships can also be adjusted to use faction or dead-space modules depending on the budget of the pilot flying it.  Each FOTW is intended as a general guide to introduce you to concepts that will help you fit and to fly that particular type of ship more aggressively and well.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The middle way is none at all

It was nearly impossible for me to listen to the CSM7 Town Hall without thinking about CSM6... and CSM5, for that matter.  And contrasting what we have today with what we had last year, and the year before.

From an external observer's perspective, being on the CSM has always been a tricky balancing act best exemplified by the old graphic to the left.  I've only been a particularly diligent CSM watcher since CSM5.  Before that, I was vaguely aware there was a CSM but it didn't strike me as particularly important.  It really reminded me of nothing so much as a student council.  I guess I wasn't unique in that view.  ;-)


CSM5 changed that in a lot of ways but probably one of the big ones was that they started to become part of that "players rock" instead of getting crushed by it.  This fostered a relationship with CCP that turned out to be a little more adversarial than CCP probably expected.  It's certainly not every CSM that's been referred to as "terrorists" as CSM5 infamously was when they posted their Open Letter regarding Incarna.  I said at the time that I thought the Open Letter was a mistake, even if a lot of what was in it has over time proved true.

That was probably the first time that I ticked off some CSM members.  It certainly won't be the last.  ;-)

So, even if you believe that CCP went a ways toward freezing out that CSM, you could argue that CSM5 leaned a little too aggressive in their dealings with CCP.  The danger there is that if you're being frozen out of the process and you complain about it, you create a vicious circle where you're even more frozen out.  Take it far enough and the players ignore you except as a source of entertaining drama.  You certainly can't influence game development!

Not long after that, CSM6 came on board.  At the time, I wrote a little open letter of my own directed to the CSM's new Chair, advising him as one of his first tasks to work on that relationship.  And he didn't need my advice in that regard; it was clearly part of his plan from the beginning to leverage the relationships he'd already built in the company.  Still, to a certain extent it meant that he'd be throwing off the sense that the CSM was on the player's side.  The Mittani had to pivot to CCP's side in order to be effective.  As a result, CSM6 was accused -- quite often! -- of being little more than a CCP mouthpiece and not really caring what the players wanted or thought.

By taking the side of the devs and decision makers, the danger there is that the player base regards the CSM as a worthless publicity stunt.  The player-elected body has a chance of being lumped in with the rest of CCP's Public Relations machinery... part of the wall that the players are banging against.  Take it far enough, and the players start to ignore you as a walking, talking CCP press release.

I didn't believe that about CSM6, but it's arguable that CSM7 has crossed the line.

After I listened to the Town Hall, I headed over to Failheap Challenge.  I hadn't visited their CSM section in a while and I was curious what the people there thought of it.  Answer: they don't think anything about it.  The last post in that section is a month old.  There's nothing about it in the EVE General section, either.  Their thread on the CSM Summit Minutes is 20+ pages of bitching about off-grid boosters and has very little to do with the Minutes.  And in retrospect, I guess that shouldn't have surprised me.  Taken as a collective group, FHC is firmly in the "CSM is a CCP mouthpiece" camp, and I suspect CCP Xhagen and CCP Manifest showing up with the CSM on EVE Radio just reinforced that impression.  CSM members have stopped posting there, except very occasional sly comments.

The opinion of the Kugutsumen community of the CSM is, by and large, not that much better.  Two step routinely gets ripped up pretty hard there and Endie's opinion of Seleene is something you have to read yourself to appreciate.(1)  Needless to say, there are no posts about the Town hall there, either.  CSM members have stopped posting there too, except for Elise who had an obvious relationship with Kugu before he was on the CSM, and Two step, who apparently has masochistic tendencies that we weren't aware of.  ;-)

"The favored topic of CSM7 appears to be CSM7," says Wilhelm Arcturus, The Ancient Gaming Noob.  He's joking about the opening 41 pages of the Minutes, which are -- yeah -- about the CSM process in general.  But then he goes on:
They are trying to be witty or amusing.   They have personal agendas or axes to grind.  They seem to obsess about petty hair splitting.  But most of all, they seem to be very much focused on themselves for 30 freaking pages to no useful purpose.
Ouch!  But absent other official, easy to find communications, stuff like the Minutes or the Town Hall is all we've got.(2)  And that's what people are going to respond to.

CSM7 seems to be cheerfully willing to use their own player experiences to guide what they tell CCP.  And sure, that's their right the minute the voting is over.  But without a crowd-sourcing initiative or some other active means of drawing in player input, what motivation are players going to have to pay attention to CSM7 or ask them for help?

"In politics the middle way is none at all," said American President John Adams more than 200 years ago.  And the CSM often refers to themselves as Internet spaceship politicians.  But I believe to be taken seriously on the CSM, you must strike the middle path.  Otherwise, you are likely to be ignored by one side or the other.

What say you, Dear Readers?  Are you paying attention to this CSM?  Or did I just spend a day's posting on a topic you don't care about?  ;-)  If that's the case, come back tomorrow.  I have something really fun to write about.

EDIT (22/Aug/2012): The graphic at the top of the post was created by CSM5 Chair Mynxee.  She's included her comments in the comments section.  Thanks, Mynxee!  <3


(1) Come to think of it, it will be very interesting to see what, if any, coverage CSM7 gets on themittani.com.  I just checked and so far there are only three articles there so far that even mention the CSM.  None of them have anything to do with the CSM as an organization.  None of them are written from a news perspective.
(2) Seleene mentioned during the Town Hall that one of his goals for the second half of CSM7's term was to blog more himself and encourage other CSM7 bloggers to do the same.