For the best experience use full HD.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Immersion gets a much needed boost.

T plus 24 hours and at least one blogger, Rixx Javix, has unashamedly declared his love for Crucible graphics. I will not disagree with him. It is truly lovely and I'd be lying if I said I didn't take my nano-fit Tristan, Speed Racer, out and do a little dancing myself.

But while I wasn't out there, I decided to see how far the dev team got on increasing the immersion level in Eve Online. Here are the results.

I warped to a Customs Office I knew to be on the other side of a gas giant.
The light at the end of the warp tunnel was frankly awesome! Later, while conducting business in Oursulaert, I had an opportunity to warp through a moon.
Most excellent! Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of warping through stations. They still clip just as badly as planets and moons used to. It also pains me that we cannot warp through stars yet either, at least I've not been able to. If someone has I'd sure like to see the other end of that tunnel.

One other thing I noticed, which was not really immersion, and may have been there all along, was a line, like a small ring, around my first PI planet. As I pondered what it was, I soon got my answer.
I don't know what mechanic this would serve so for now I'll just lump it in with new immersion upgrades.

While there is more to do, and I hope it's being working on already, the new New Eden look has me smiling and... well... dancing among the stars. Good work CCP!

Fly Careful.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Fair well Incarna, you were profitable but you won't be missed.

In 2.5 hours, Incarna will be relegated to the dustbin of history. So long; I've no tears for you though your legacy will live on - as it must.

As my last act prior to Crucible, I loaded up Keiko and I made the 12 jumps to Jita. No, I've no interest in visiting shot up monuments. That's a waste of time. I was there to sell  a month and a half of hard work. Honest labor brings honest rewards and mine were good. Wetware Mainframes doubled in price as I hoped they would (and said as much here.) I also had some extra PI goods to sell as well. All totaled it was a tidy profit.

And I didn't have to blow anyone up to get it. That's the icing on the cake. I'll sleep well tonight with that thought in my head and extra ISK in the bank. Count on it.

To all the capsuleers that read this, I wish you luck and good fortune in the days to come. The universe evolves. We must evolve with it or perish. I've no doubt that I'll manage. Mine is a simple life. May your troubles be few and your gates not camped.

Fly careful.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Forget pirates, you should be emulating the mafia.

As I as reading through this morning's blogs, Mord Fiddle's article on low sec PI got my attention. I think that's understandable since being a PI industrialist is a good part of my business. Specifically, what really got me thinking was this statement,
"Ninja industrialists will, of course, be restricted to NPC offices unless they can cut a deal with a lowsec entity willing to provide them with access to a player owned structure and free passage to use it."
There's a name for that. It's called a protection racket. Organized crime has used it since time immemorial. It evidently is quite effective. And then it hit me. The problem with low sec isn't the real estate. All real estate is valuable. The problem with low sec is it is badly run.

Pirates are notoriously ill organized. They are, by their very nature, extreme individualists who place their own welfare above all else. The same might be true of the mob, except they keep their own in line. They reward loyalty handsomely and punish disloyalty immediate and with extreme prejudice.
So what is it about the mob that allows them to be successful in their racketeering? In a word, control. The mob controls their territory with ruthlessness and high-grade carbon-steel pistol barrels. In their heyday, it was the Thompson submachine gun. The Tommy Gun was a beauty and legal to carry on any street in the U.S. for a time.

If those in low sec want it to be more than it is today, they must make it that way. It will not be easy. Concord will be against you just like Elliot Ness was against Al Capone (pictured above in case you didn't recognize him.)
But Eliot Ness never had enough evidence to nail Capone for his gangster activities. He nailed him for tax evasion. There is a lesson there to any low sec corporation I think. The rules for being a true mafia and not just a roaming pirate gang are clear.

  1. Be visible.
  2. Control your territory with an iron fist.
  3. Make your territory safe for your "friends."
  4. Invest in your territory to make it more valuable.
  5. Protect those who pay for it at all costs. 
  6. Rough up those who do not until they too start paying.
  7. Never provide a free lunch to non-family.
  8. If they (other gangs) kill one of yours, kill two of theirs.
  9. Be ruthless.
Always remember, thieves have no honor but mobsters are not thieves. They're business men. You must act like one. Honor all ransoms. Always keep your word. Though you may be a ruthless tyrant, your "friends" must trust you. Acting arbitrarily and without a predictable code of conduct will get you nowhere.

So how does this translate to New Eden? Rather easily I think. Here is what I'd do if I wanted to be the New Eden Mafia.
  1. Recruit from all time zones so that an enforcer(s) was always online.
  2. Enforcers must continuously visit all territory assets eliminating rats (including those who would mine your roids without paying protection money) and keeping "customers" safe.
  3. Camp gates - always. Web and scram anyone who enters your territory. Extract protection money from neutrals. No exceptions. Blow up any who do not pay but DO NOT POD THEM. After all, you want to rough them up so they'll change their minds; not kill them.
  4. Pod rival gangs in your territory without mercy. Expect them to treat you the same if you raid their territory.
  5. Build customs offices in orbit of all your planets. Blow up anything you don't own. Charge high taxes.
  6. Protection money only keeps you safe. It does not allow you to use the customs office for free. Get it?
  7. Make sure you have enough legitimate business to properly launder your ill gotten profits.
  8. Be sure to reward your "family" lavishly.
This is just a short list. I am sure that any sufficiently creative boss can think of more ways to maximize the value of their territory. There really is nothing that needs done to post-Crucible low sec to make this possible. 
There is one thing that I'd like to see CCP do in low sec to make this more tenable though. No gangster worth his salt doesn't have a few of the local law enforcement on the dole. To facilitate the concept of territories, Concord should look the other way - for a sufficiently high payoff. This would, in essence, cede the system to the gang that pays the bribe. It would enable gang enforcers to operate with impunity within their own territory. Of course, there'd have to be a mechanism for allowing another gang to muscle in on the territory. Concord would have to see the old gang as sufficiently weak to warrant a new arrangement with a new gang. I think that if a gang's customs offices were all taken out, it would allow them to make a new bid for the territory to Concord. Of course, the price always goes up. This upward spiral could only be broken if all gangs stop paying bribes. Then Concord goes back to shooting gang members until a new gang builds customs offices around every planet and pays Concord off anew.

Fly careful.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Exploration for Fun and Profit

I had some available time in between business concerns and decided to take Space Ghost out for a look around the home system. Truth be told, the prospecting bug was gnawing at me me and I was hoping to find a nice fat gravimetric site. No such luck, though my scans did turn up three wormholes, a Chem Yard and a radar site.
The Chem Yard wasn't anything I was interested in but wormholes always make me want to know what's on the other side and the radar site had profit potential. I decided to checkout the wormholes first. It turns out they were all type R943 which I found a bit peculiar. Maybe they come in flocks.
Diving into the first wormhole I quickly established that it was occupied with a Tengu and a Raven being the biggest things in local. A Heron was the only other ship showing. There was no need to look around, it was a small system and completely within range of my directional scanner. As I was going through the DS list, I noticed my velocity was higher than normal. I'd seen that before. As I looked up through the canopy, the cause loomed large above me. It dwarfed the wormhole I'd come through.
I admired the Blackhole for a few more minutes and headed back through the wormhole. I didn't have an unlimited amount of time. I moved on to the next wormhole. As I emerged on the other side, I found myself in another heavily occupied small system. It immediately got my attention. It was unlike any system I'd been in. Many of my instruments were going crazy like they'd been on a three day bender. As I looked up I saw why.
It wasn't the system start, but a nearby monster. It was a Wolf Rayet, a very young and energetic giant star, vomiting its gases into the surrounding void at significant fractions of C. It was a very long way away so those stellar gales did not buffet Space Ghost as hurricanes did sailing ships of old. It would have been an interesting experience but when I attempted to plot a course for the wonder, Aura informed me it was not possible. Whether that was by design or physics I didn't ask. There was no profit in sailing those solar winds so I turned for the wormhole and left. I had one more to scout and then a radar site to check on.

The last wormhole system turned out to be mundane. It was again small, only five planets orbiting a midsize yellow star. There was a control tower and a couple cargo containers in the system. One of the containers was transmitting the message, "Used control tower for sale cheap because of unfriendly Horror BLRD neighbor." That's an odd message. I quickly located the tower around moon 1 of the outermost planet, a terrestrial. Sure enough, it had all the seeming of a tower abandoned. I didn't uncloak of course. Rule number one, everything's a trap. Start from that assumption and you'll live a long life - at least longer than not following that rule. I'm not in the market for a wormhole system. I turned for the K162 and returned home.
The radar site promised more than a supposedly abandoned wormhole system to my current business. As I warped to it, I wondered what I would find. I didn't expect to have to throw my arm up in front of my eyes.
Who the hell could work in those conditions. There was nothing relaxing about the site. It was like being inside a lamp it was so bright. I located a single information shard on my instruments and approached it while cloaked. I took to studying the broken asteroid along my route to give my eyes a rest.
I named it Humpty Dumpty after a story my grandmother used to tell me. After a few minutes of max burn, I reached the shard. In no time at all, I had it hacked open.
It was a tidy profit for about an hour of my time and I had some fun getting it while seeing something I'd never seen before - a Wolf Rayet. It was a welcome break from the daily routine. I hope I get time for Space Ghost again soon.

Fly careful.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Crucible Brutix with a blaster fit as promised.

Here are the next two-thousand words in the pre-Crucible versus post-Crucible Brutix fits. I swapped out the rails for seven (7) Heavy Electron Blaster IIs to give an idea of what the post-Crucible benefit will look like.

Pre-Crucible Blaster Fit
Post-Crucible Blaster Fit
Fitting blasters gives me an 8.3% overall drop in cap use or under 3 GJ/s. PowerGrid usage decreases by 103.2 MW overall, a nice increase but only a bit over 7%. As for CPU, I get a drop of 10.55 overall: 1.98%.

For all the great sounding changes to hybrid weapons, it appears the actual benefit is of minor consequence. Gallente ships are a little faster. They get a smidgen more power, CPU and usable capacitor. But for most pilots of limited SP, these increases will not make blaster ships much more viable than before.

Fly careful.

PS: Happy 100th post to me.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Pre-Crucible and Post-Crucible Rail-fit Brutix - and a surprise.

This is Brutus. I've used him to solo Incursion beacon sites. He'd be really bad at it, if he weren't so hard headed. I won't bore you with a whole lot of fitting details. A picture is worth a thousand words. So, here are two-thousand words for you.

As you can see, Brutus got a nice new paint job. I especially like the Gallente Federation emblems on forehead and the top of each wing.

As for the rest, at first you want to believe there's not much difference in the CPU and Power Grid between the two. However, a closer look at the numbers shows that capacitor use is down from -32.23 GJ/s to  -28.9 GJ/s. That's approximately 10%. Brutus also picks up nearly 80 MW on the power grid. And this is a rail fit, it doesn't even get the best bonuses. The blaster fit will follow tomorrow. Unfortunately SiSi went down for maintenance before I could swap guns.

One last thing I noted while on SiSi tonight. I had to jump 2 systems to get more ammo for the rails. (I wanted to see how the DPS calculation looked.) As usual, I found what I wanted on the market and did a right-click, location, set as destination. Man was I surprised when my autopilot took me all the way to 10 km off the station. That's correct, it didn't disable after the last gate. It dropped warp 10 km away from the station, approached and DOCKED. I guess I missed that in the update notes. It was a real surprise, let me tell you.

Fly careful.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Blog Banter 30: Noob Rescue Standing Increases

Blog Banter 30 asks the following:
"With the Winter expansion possibly being named 'Crucible', it certainly is a melting pot of refinements and tweaks aimed at making the EVE experience smoother and more wholesome. If the developers suddenly found themselves some spare resources and approached you for an additional feature to include before release, what single concept would you pitch them and how would you implement it? 
For bonus points, the one thing lacking from this "patchwork" of iterations is a cohesive storyline to package "The Crucible" together. How could this expansion be marketed to potential new customers?"
One idea that I've had rolling around inside my head for awhile has to do with standing. There are many ways to gain and lose standing. As most pirates know, about the fastest way to lose standing is to attack someone in Empire. I would not change how this works. I've never heard anyone call it unfair - except the poor noob who gets blasted. However, the equation is unbalanced and nature demands balanced equations.

I would recommend that CCP devote their spare resources to balancing this equation. I'd point out to them that the cruel world that is New Eden requires noobs have someone to stick up for them. But some noobs don't want to rush into a corporation they know nothing about. Other's can't meet the requirements for the corporation they really want to join. Others, like myself, just prefer the lone-wolf lifestyle. That doesn't mean they don't want help from time to time.

Therefore, any player coming to the assistance of a true neutral (defined as someone not in your alliance) who is under attack should get a boost to their standing with Concord . This boost should be equivalent to eliminating the same ship class rat. If the Good Samaritan is in a militia and the pirate they attack is their mortal enemy, Concord doubles the standing increase. Furthermore, should a player lose his ship in such a rescue attempt, Concord should double the insurance payout for the lost ship (providing the ship was insured.)

There should be no limit on the number of increases a player can receive in a set period of time as with rats. That is the bonus for taking on a pirate. They are generally very good at what they do and the deck is already stacked in their favor - they chose the place, time and manner of the attack.

In accord with my own code of conduct, no increase should ever be given for popping a pod.

As to how you sell Crucible to potential new customers, I think that's OBE (overtaken by events) with the Eve Online Newsletter vol. 68. However, there are trailers to come. I think they should harp the, "where players really do make a difference" mantra. CCP should take their capitulation this summer and turn it into a positive. "The players rioted (cue Jita monument footage) and we listened. Your actions will not only shape what goes on in the game, it will shape the game itself!" Now, I really don't think that's going to get a lot of new players. However, it should bring back some lapsed players and that'll give CCP some breathing room. It's the best of a bad situation. Next year will be better...

Yeah, right, who am I kidding. I'm a cynical optimist: I hope for the best but know the worst is yet to come. Until the bitter end!

Fly careful.

Monday, November 14, 2011

PI on SiSi is a non-topic, but while investigating it I got a win.

Once again, the upcoming winter expansion is mostly all about pew-pew. I'm not complaining mind you. So long as everyone keeps blowing each other up, I"m in line to make a tidy sum. I know what butters my bread so to speak.

But for all my carebear brethren out there, I present the impact of the PI update.
Link Change
As any Planetary Industrialist can see, a single initial link can now handle seven (7) extractor heads, while using only 25% of its capacity. Prior to the link upgrade, this extractor required a single upgrade and I could only deploy six (6) heads due to power limitations. 

I am underwhelmed. This will not even come close to offsetting the increased freight charges in the update. All it does is allow me to waste less time upgrading links. Though I am thankful for this, as well as for the increase in orbital storage, I'm not going to throw any parties about it. The null folks will get the most use out of this. Their productivity was seriously hampered by having to upgrade links past the point of sanity. Enjoy null-bears!

However, while doing this "research," it gave me an opportunity to check out the new nebula. They are as awesome as every other blogger out there has said. But nebula aren't all that we got. And no, I'm not talking about the warp effect. Check out these before and after pictures.
This IS the same view. Take a look at the old bright stars and then look at the secondary stars in the new picture. You can most easily make out the tall triangle of stars below Keiko's bow in the before shot and just above it in the after. I didn't get Keiko in the exact same spot because of the variation in launch vectors, but the patch of space is the same for certain.

Back in my What Eve Really Needs to Make it Real - Part 1 post, I gave a list of interstellar objects that CCP should add to increase immersion. The last thing on that list was Globular Clusters. They look like a giant snowball in space, which this certainly isn't. But, just below that was a picture of the Pleiades, which is an Open Cluster. An Open Cluster's what I see above. I'll count that as a win thank you very much.

Fly Careful.

EDIT: Interestingly, I took the two screen shots above with the same computer and the exact same graphic settings both in and out of Eve. The improvements are impressive!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Then there's the old adage, "Never negotiate with terrorists."

Something's been on my mind, bothering me frankly, since Mr. P├ętursson made his statement about CCP's mistake in direction. It grated against something in the core of my being; something I've known for some time both personally and due to my former profession. You don't negotiate with terrorists. Let me explain.

We all know the history of the past 6 months. There was Incarna. It wasn't well received by capsuleers.  They objected vociferously. CCP relented after understanding the errors of their ways. CCP is now back to "the good old CCP" and devoting all its resources to FiS - as it should have all along.

Is that what really happened though? Let me give you an alternative description.

There was Incarna. It wasn't well received by capsuleers. They rioted. They canceled subscriptions. They threatened to bring Incarna down around CCP's ears. Corporate espionage was leveled against CCP. Confidential business documents were made public. Capsuleers leveraged this information to rake CCP over the coals in the forums and in the media. Physical threats were made as things spiraled out of control with the assistance of many helping hands. CCP had a lot of real world capital riding on the expansion. All the upheaval made their business partners nervous. CCP's business partners called in their markers (virtually or for real the affect was the same.) CCP had no choice but to capitulate to the rioters.

Now things are great again. CCP is refocusing on FiS and that's what keeps us happy. The threats have stopped. Capsuleers are singing CCP's worthiness again. Now it's all behind us. We won.

But did we? What happens after the winter expansion, life becomes all wine and roses? New Eden becomes the paradise we always dreamed of and we bask in the glory that is the life of a capsuleer?

What a load of fertilizer. Here's what's going to happen. Some large group of EvE players are going to decide they don't like the way CCP has implemented X. It doesn't matter was X is. Some people won't like it, like the Goons, whom I single out because they've already shown they have the will and organizational chops to orchestrate such a grandiose gank. They start bitching loudly about it. They decide to force the "issue." They pull their alts out of the game. They hit the web. The convince a lot of pilots to riot. They dig up as much dirt on CCP as they can get and throw it to the wolves that are the media. CCP has another season of rage on their hands.

What, you don't think so? Try this Goon quote (1) on for size then.
I am but a humble elected representative of the people.
It just so happens that the people love war, murder, scamming and sadism. vOv
Still don't think so? Your fooling yourself. The moment "the people" The Mittani speaks about above decide they don't like something, they're going to do exactly what got them what they wanted the first time. And he'll be right there to lead the charge I'm certain.

This is not something CCP can prevent. There will always be bugs in code as complex as EVE's. In every change there are winners and losers. Small gang PvPers win with tier three battle-cruisers. Carrier pilots lose. Gallente pilots win. Caldari militia lose. Those who manage space stations win. Those that make a living supplying them lose. Nerf a weapon and another becomes more powerful. Raise the value of some space and the rest becomes less valuable in comparison. It's a law of nature: for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Capsuleers are going to bitch no matter what. Before, such bitching was just so much hot air. Now CCP has shown that it can be bullied into changing course. The precedent has been set and it's a dangerous one. If CCP puts their foot down and says "NO" to future demands, they lose more money. Their investors might pull the plug. If they don't, they continue to be vulnerable to player blackmail. They'll have lost control of their own company.

It's a no win situation for them. In the end, it's a no win situation for us players as well. What do you think they'll do when faced with losing money or losing money after a whole lot of hard work to satisfy a bunch of petulant, dare I say murderous-scamming-sadistic brats?

If the pain is too high, CCP will end it. They'll stop wasting resources. They'll close down communications. They'll redirect programming resources to more profitable and less antagonistic demographics. They may continue running the servers but EVE will be dead.

And that's not the worst of it. I'm sure CCP the company will go on in one form or another, but we've already seen what happens to the rank and file. EVE is far more real to them than it will ever be to us. Think about that the next time you feel like grabbing your torch and your pitchfork.

Fly careful.

1: I want to thank Jester from Jester's Trek for bringing this quote to my attention. It's precisely what this post needed!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

What Eve really needs to make it real - Part III

Basement Ben provided part two of the art update that CCP Guard has been facilitating. There were two things that got me thinking again about how Eve could be made more real - or in other words more successful. Those two things were V3 and engine trails.

It is no secret the the Noble Exchange (NEX) was a dismal failure. There has been a lot written on why and how NEX went wrong but I've known for a long time the simplest answer is usually the cirrect one. The NEX just didn't have what capsuleers want. If we really wanted a monocle, the price wouldn't matter. "Must have" trumps budget every time. Take a look at the state of the real world's economy of you doubt that simple truth. The fact is, we don't give a crap about what our avatars look like. Eve isn't about biology. It's about technology. Our egos are wrapped around us in layers of titanium and pyrite. That's what we care about! That's what the rest of the Eve universe sees when we undock.

"So what's this got to do with making Eve real?" you ask. Well, to make Eve more real we need the ability to express our individualism. In the real world no two people are alike - not even clones (known euphemistically as identical twins. *grin* ) We spend the majority of our lives trying to differentiate ourselves from our siblings, from our school buddies, and from our coworkers. Humans are driven to stand out. This truth is self evident in the current fashion trend of tattoos and piercings.
For Eve to be real, CCP must enable capsuleers to be different; to stand out. That is what V3 better be about; engine trails too!

Yes, there are some few who've managed to do that through blogs, the CSM or what not but that does not address the needs of the other 99%. They too must be able to feel like they matter. It also must be done inside the game. That way, every other Eve player has a chance to see it.
Putting a cool paint job on your ship is one way to allow individualism. Eve players desperately crave the ability to customize their ships. I know I do. If you say you don't, I won't call you a liar but I'm also not going to get near you. Such a statement flies in the face of my human experience and I'd have to label you a loon.

But just skins for ships won't go far enough. Here is a list (incomplete I'm sure) of what I think should have been in the NEX from the very beginning:

  • Ship logos both personal and corporate.
  • Kill markers to go below the cockpit.
  • Ship skins to contrast with our logos and kill markers.
  • Colored engine trail modules.
  • Custom POS shield colors.
  • Custom warp bubble colors (why not?)
  • And while we're at it, how about custom drone skins?
  • How about the ability to buy back lost, one of a kind ships that CCP has given out over the years so long as you don't already have one. Would anyone object to that? It really doesn't affect game play but it sure as hell would gut the collectors' market.
  • And the piece de resistance, a personal, anchorable billboard that can accept my OWN recruitment ad or whatever else I want on it!
  • Oh, and I want my damn SNOWBALLS back!
Now, is any of this stuff something a capsuleer would spend real money on? Oh, you betcha bubba! Had the NEX been about FiS rather than WiS, this last summer could have been completely different. CCP would have a new revenue stream and most of the pieces in place to do all those other things. Eve would be more real and FOR REAL again. It's not too late.

Fly careful.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

So, they ARE working on warp effects!

It's in there (time mark 2 minutes, 10 seconds.) Now I only hope it's not just a fix to the tunnel not always showing up - "definitely." It'd be nice not to see planets swoosh by.

In development: CCP's Art Department part II
This also gives me another real (i.e. successful) post but I'll need to think about it awhile.

Fly careful.