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Saturday, September 29, 2012

"I'll Take Yer Bait," and Raise You an Ambush

Tur already posted about our little dust-up at the static exit to low-sec the other night. Ignas Stankaitis recommended on my post The Flying Dungeness I should get a 1000dps Proteus and just dive in, more or less. Actually, this had been on my agenda since I moved into WH space. I was just wanting to earn the ISK to buy it before I actually bought it. I'm funny that way. I think it has to do with the industrialist mindset. I HATE red ink on the books. *LOL*

So, when I squeaked past the two small warp bubbles and emerged into known space, I had a choice. I could try and sneak back through or I could show up in something unexpected. As the plans were already on the ledger anyway, and the funds were sufficient, I purchased "something unexpected" and made my way back to the K162 into our WH.

Tur did a great job of describing the action. As much as he fumbled things so did I. My biggest challenge was landing in range of the hostiles. The Proteus isn't exactly known for it's ranged combat. During the last skirmish of the evening, the one involving Tur's Drake, I finally managed to lock Mr. Monkey, scram and web him (in that order at least) and heat up the blasters. I was close to fall-off range though and no DPS landed before the Hound warped away. That was fairly much the end of it. However, it is not the end of the story.

The next day I was able to log in and scan down all the day's exits early. We had two low-sec connections: our static and a K162. The static was 12 jumps from Dodixie with several low-sec crossings and the other was 11 jumps from Rens with two low-sec crossings. I logged for a few hours and, as the day was slow otherwise, I decided to go get the Viator I'd left at Dodixie the night before.

I logged back in and jumped in a shuttle. I left via our static into Dour. Everything was going well until I got to Oulley. D-scan told me there were a half dozen ships, including several Amarr battleships, sitting on the gate. It was obviously a gate camp. There wasn't much I could really do about it. The worse that would happen was I'd be podded and end up in Dodixie faster than I'd thought. I barreled through.

[ 2012.09.28 20:44:36 ] (combat) smidster (Large EMP Smartbomb II) hits you for 296 damage
[ 2012.09.28 20:44:38 ] (notify) smidster: You have foolishly engaged in criminal activity within sight of sentry guns and must suffer the consequences.
[ 2012.09.28 20:44:41 ] (None) Jumping to Oulley in Orvolle solar system

I made it through the gate with shields stripped but armor intact (well, mostly intact, there was 9 ISK repairable damage.) Shuttle for the win!

I got to Dodixie, jumped in the Viator and made for Assah, the other low-sec entrance to home. It was a long haul to be sure. I had plenty of time to think about the shortcomings of my Proteus fit. It was too slow and lacked range was it's biggest issue. I came up with another fit that helped the speed issue and I determined having several types of ammo in the hold would help the range issue some. I stopped at Rens and made some more purchases. When I got home, I put my plan into action. I refitted the Proteus, warped to a good safe and logged off once more as "things" otherwise were no longer slow.

That evening, I was once again floating in our hole and watching Scan Probe Is fly around our system. I used them as d-scan practice for awhile. That lasted until I saw a Crane show up. I had a fairly good idea where it had come from. One of the other two WHs I'd detected earlier in the day was from a Class 4 with only a Class 3 exit. I positioned myself at a pounce 170km from that K162 and waited.

Not too long after, the Crane returned and made it's way back into the K162. The pilot was from an industry corporation not from Unacceptable Behaviour. However, he wasn't the person I was after. Not but a few minutes later the person I was really waiting for made an appearance. I just knew he couldn't stay away.
He disappeared into the K162 after the Crane. Many minutes later, the Crane reemerged and warped toward one of our low-sec connections. A minute later Mr. Monkey followed. I knew what was going to happen and I was very happy about it. However, I couldn't let my industrial brother be the bait without letting him know so I sent him a communique.
You are being stalked by a hound.
From: Mabrick
To: [redacted]
I live in [redacted] which you are now using to move goods to known space. I have been watching your K162 in our system. On your last run you were followed be a TAZ D Monkey. He's been camping our hole with Stealth Bombers along with Psychic Moose.
Be careful, they are on to you.
I got an acknowledgement and waited. Then I waited some more. Then I waited some more. Fortunately, my prior military training has prepared me for this. Ambushes are always 99% boredom and 1% pure adrenalin. Sometimes the percentages are tipped even more toward the boredom side of the equation. I continued to wait.

Suddenly the Crane shows up outside the hole quickly followed by the Hound. They both go through. I kicked my warp engines into gear and positioned myself 5k off the hole and waited, my fingers poised over the cloak and scram controls.

The wormhole flared. I disengaged the cloak. Mr. Monkey was being a wily SOB and held his cloak as long as he could. It was going to be a race! I activated the scram and it dutifully waited for me to indicate a target.

The Hound shows itself...

I target the scram on it...

The targeting cursor pulses!

It was now all up to the electronics. I'd either get a lock and pop him or I wouldn't.

[ 2012.09.29 03:51:47 ] (notify) You failed to target nothing.

And that's the way it goes. His align was faster than my target lock. Damn those Stealth Bombers are quick. I reengaged the cloak and warped to a safe just in case he decided to bomb the hole. Then I noticed my message indicator blinking.
Re: You are being stalked by a hound.
From: [redacted]
Sent: 2012.09.29 03:53
To: Mabrick,
Has just returned to your WH, thanks for the brief, I was able to adjust for speed and passed him going through the WH, in which he followed and I made it safe.
Well, at least I had denied Mr. Monkey the pleasure of popping an industrialist. I took some pleasure in that as I finished up the day's business, made sure the ship was safely tucked away and called it a night.

Fly Careful

Friday, September 28, 2012

Dust 514 is the Real Winter Expansion

Drackarn over on Sand, Cider and Spaceships had a thought provoking piece on the winter expansion, or namely the lack thereof. Please go over and read it if you haven't already. To summarize, he says most of the changes are number tweaks in the database and there really isn't anything to the winter expansion. From a certain point of view, the bitter rage-quit vet as he puts it, that is true. There is nothing in the expansion that's really compelling.

That's because the Winter Expansion really isn't about Eve Online. The winter expansion is Dust 514. Drackarn wonders what all the Eve Online developers are doing. Let's have a look at what they might be up to. I am going to use the interview with Richard Smith (Dust 514 vs EVE Online: when worlds collide) as the basis for what Eve Developers might be doing.

Orbital Bombardment - there will have to be an entire new mechanism in Eve Online to handle this. Richard Smith said, “You basically call in support by painting a target on the map, and then in the PC game of EVE Online, there will be a target on that planet that an EVE player will fire upon using Orbital Bombardment, which is basically this super weapon that is ten times the power of an Orbital Strike.” The emphasis is mine because this is something that an Eve Online developer must write. Mr. Smith does not specify how this target will show up. It will have to be a new Overview item I'm certain. I'd hope there is some visual feedback as well for not only aesthetic purposes (Eve is beautiful after all) but for immersion and continuity as well. If that really does come to be, there will need to be additions to the code that displays planets differently. Will the bombarding pilot have to go to a PI screen to see the target or will it just appear on the planet. Going to a PI type screen would be terrible. It would completely take you out of the tactical display your screen usually shows you. None of this has been discussed by CCP to my knowledge. Regardless, it is a major change to how things work now. Who's programming that? Yep, Eve Online developers.

Planetary Interaction - from what I've read, the idea behind Dust 514 and Eve Online interaction is to make planets contestable. Richard Smith had this to say about it,  “One [sic] you control property it will give your corporation benefits. If you control a particular installation on a planet – maybe a mining outpost – it will give you a particular type of resource, and when anyone fights over that territory in the future, its your infrastructure that’s at risk. So you will see that corporation sending Dust mercs down on the ground to defend it." Again, the emphasis is where I believe substantive developer time has to be dedicated in Eve Online to realize the vision. This description is nothing like the PI I do today. I just plop infrastructure down anywhere there is a resource I want. What's this "district" stuff he keeps talking about? In the Dust 514 "enhanced" version of PI, there will have to be code that delineates who holds a particular piece of infrastructure and what resource that provides. There is likely code already within Eve Online that could do this but someone must apply it to Planetary Interaction. I can't help but feel this has to be a major programming effort and the programmers have to be Eve Online programmers, not Dust 514 programmers. Smith also says, “One of the things you need in Dust are resource plants that give your corporation valuable produce, but you also need day to day things like power plants, waste processing, communication towers and this kind of stuff.” Perhaps this means that PI as we know it completely goes away in those areas where Dust 514 mercenaries operate. Dust mercenaries will just have those things as a trade item, et al. That might lessen any additional code needed in Eve Online, but those areas are still going to have to be treated differently than high-sec and worm hole space. That requires coding to implement. The bottom line is this, we have no idea how PI is really going to function when Dust 514 takes over but it will change drastically in factional warfare systems and all that change has to be programmed into Eve Online.

Corporation Management - Eve Online players and Dust 514 players will be in the same corporations. CCP confirmed this. This requires code to implement. It seems it is mostly done at this point, but someone had to write it. Someone is probably still working on it. That someone is an Eve Developer.

Contracting - Richard Smith also said this, "All of the levels take place on Dust 514 and in districts on planets within the EVE Online universe, so what you see in the Battlefinder are matches that have been put out by corporations who want to invite any mercenary – anyone can join in – to fight on their behalf.” And you thought the whole War Declaration change in Inferno was because of our long standing cries to fix it? How wonderfully naive. This code probably has more to do with the invites Mr. Smith speaks about than the Eve Online War Declaration system. The fact that it was gamed so quickly and completely meant even more Eve Online developer time had to go into it. And as the Dust 514 beta goes on, I am sure someone in the Eve Online development team continues to look at the code.

Market - "At the moment both marketplaces go through the same technical systems, but at the moment you can’t see EVE items on the Dust marketplace. What we plan to introduce is further integration in the future, and we’d like to see the ability for EVE and Dust players to trade items together, or for corporations to manufacture some of the weapons in the game," said Mr. Smith. So which technical system do you think he refers to in this quote? There may have been a framework market when Dust was in development on its own server, but to integrate it with Eve Online they will have to use the existing system. That is the Eve Online Market. Who has all the expertise with that system, the Dust developers or the Eve Online developers? Where does the economist work? Now you know who is working on the integration. The Eve Online developers have to do it. They wrote the system. They know the code best. Perhaps they get help from Shanghai, but they do have to be involved - intricately so.

Balance - Aside from the nuts and bolts of bringing the disparate computing systems of Eve Online and Dust 514 together, Smith also added this, “We have to be very careful when bringing EVE and Dust together to make sure that we don’t unbalance EVE. We have hundreds of thousands of EVE players who have invested years of their life into it and essentially creating what the EVE universe is today.” So what is the list presented by Through Newb Eyes entirely dedicated to in practical terms? That's right, keeping Eve Online balanced so we haven't wasted years of our lives making it into the community it is today. This has more to do with Dust 514 than anything that really needed done to Eve Online. In fact, there are other things capsuleers would rather have seen worked on I'm sure.

And then there was this yesterday. I wonder how long that was planned and by how many? It also doesn't appear to be the last one.

And furthermore, there was yesterday's mass test on Buckingham. What were they testing? Well, here's the blog post about it. This is what it says they were testing.
"What exactly is being tested?
  • Stressing the new district satellite system for DUST
  • Testing the district UI and planet graphics
  • Testing graphics for fake DUST battles and fake orbital strikes
  • Investigating grid not loading bug"
How much of this is not Dust 514 related programming? Arguably you could say the grid loading bug. But would that bug exist if it were not for Dust 514? No, it would not. How many developer hours did CCP invest in what was tested on Eve Online's test server? I have no idea and CCP is not saying. Suffice it to say it appeared to be a lot.

So as you can see, every major area in Eve Online is directly affected by the Dust 514 roll out. I've covered combat, trade, industry, corporation management, graphics and even in game events. What else is there to Eve Online other than these basic parts? And every single one of them have to be altered to one degree or another to allow Dust 514 to function. That's what most of the Eve Online developers are primarily focused on. Dare I say all? It's true from a certain point of view you know.

So, prior to contrary belief, the Jesus Feature was never eliminated by CCP. It was simply moved to a different gaming platform and we are not the direct beneficiaries of the effort. As withh all Jesus Features, this one requires the full attention of the Eve Online developers in Iceland to bring it together. I am not saying this is a terrible thing and shame on CCP for misleading us. Don't. Be. Ridiculous. CCP is a business first and this is an awesome, if somewhat risky, business move. If they pull it off, CCP gets to have their cake and eat it too. If it fails, well, we still have Eve Online. Right?

Fly Careful

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Flying Dungeness

A little less than a week ago, I was scanning the day's sites and wormholes because our static was "down" and I'd seen a Tengu briefly on d-scan. We were playing hosts once again to uninvited guests. I quickly identified a nice fat signature that could only be a K162. While determining it's exact location, a Scorpion showed up on d-scan. Then it disappeared. Scorpions don't cloak, I remember thinking to myself.

When I got the 100%, I warped to a safe distance and book marked the actual hole. There was no sign of activity. I watched the hole for a while moving out to pounce distance. I created a pounce book mark and, seeing no other sign of activity, took to the system map again to septangulate our low-sec static. Just as I arrived a safe distance from the static to book mark its actual location, the Scorpion showed up on d-scan again. The timing was impeccable. I remember thinking, Scorpions don't cloak... do they?

The static recorded, I warped back to the pounce. Nothing was going on so I traded my scan rigged Helios for a more properly fit Arazu. Perhaps the Scorpion has friends, I thought to myself. No other HBHI member was in the hole at that moment. I waited at the pounce.

Five minutes went by and nothing happened. Ten minutes went by and nothing happened. Fifteen minutes had not quite expired and the event horizon flared. A second later, there was the Scorpion. Then it went back through again. Right, it's a hole closing operation.

I was still hopeful that the Scorpion might have a friend, and that the two of them might be as sloppy as the last uninvited guests. I hung around. The Scorpion took its own sweet time. After 40 minutes of (set to the appropriate music,)

The scorpion goes in, the Scorpion goes out, the Scorpion plays pinochle as you pout...

Okay, that's a lousy filk but you get my meaning. After 40 minutes of this the Scorpion repeats and the hole drops to half it's size. This is it! I get ready. The event horizon flares again. A second later I see this...
These are two pilots who have evidently done this a lot and are leaving nothing to chance. I watch as first the Scorpion slips in and then the Tengu. The hole collapses leaving only the Tengu's ion wake to prove I'd not imagined it all.

This was the second time I'd found myself in no position to do anything to confirm our claim to this worm hole. Of course, these two weren't raiding but isn't that just a technicality? I mean, aren't worm hole denizens supposed to be mean and nasty and merciless? Okay, you can stop laughing now.

A few days went by and I woke up to find we had a really decent static with one jump to high-sec and 12 to Dodixie. That day was THE day. I made a transport run to sell wares and obtain supplies. I then returned in a shuttle, just as Sisters Combat Probes appeared in the hole on d-scan, to remedy my problem concerning uninvited guests. 

Tiye Q had actually recommended the solution in my last post about uninvited guests. Thank you very much for the excellent suggestion Tiye! But tell me true, doesn't it look just a bit too much like a flying crab?

Fly Careful (and carry a large bomb!)

Monday, September 24, 2012

Mabrick's Link Stew: the pay-to-win myth and Dust 514 launches next month.

The Soapbox: There's no such thing as pay-to-win

In the beginning, way back in the ancient days of the 1990's, I made a determination that I was ardently against what has become known as pay-to-win. To my way of thinking, allowing people to buy their way to l33t status was an affront to everything Pin Ball Wizard taught me as a boy. But then I got older. I put some experience under my belt (as well as a few pounds.) What experience taught me is you can't buy competence. It is as integral a part of character as honesty or trustworthiness. So I have to agree with Beau Hindman in this article. There is no such thing as pay-to-win. There is only pay-to-fail if you must hang a name on it. So let them spend their money and enrich CCP's coffers. It won't make Eve Online any less of a challenge and it might just allow the creation of more Eve Online, like the Jovian Expansion we all long to see.

We are not here to win a popularity contest.

I like CCP Ytterbium. I like his handle. I like what he does for our beloved game. And I like that fact that he can tell whiny Eve Players to HTFU and make it sound like pep talk! I stand up and applaud CCP Ytterbium's reply to Lili Lu and all those other players who object to the ship re-balancing currently going on in Eve Online. Damn straight CCP Ytterbium should do what's best for Eve Online in the long haul. You may think as an Eve player that you know what is best for the game. I don't think you do. You are inherently biased and in the wrong way. CCP Ytterbium is also inherently biased but in the right way. It is his job. His future depends on getting it right. I'll take his opinion over any Eve Player any day of the week if for no other reason than that. Thank you for setting us straight CCP Ytterbium. Keep up the good work.

Iceland Taps Hollywood for Next Steps in Recovery

This is not an article about Eve Online. However, Hilmar Petursson was quoted and I liked what he said. To wit,
“Small communities like Iceland offer unique opportunities for those working in the creative arts. People are more likely to mix and match with others that aren’t necessarily in their social class or may have completely different backgrounds.”
Now isn't that exactly what Eve Online is about? It makes me wonder if Eve Online could have prospered in any other sort of environment. Does where a game get made impact the sort of game it becomes? I ask this because people write games. Cultural environment affects these people and shapes who they are and how they relate to the world as a whole. This cannot fail to seep into the work these people create. Their values and life experience become the framework we fill in as players. We like to discuss the merits of emergent game play but emergent doesn't mean out of the sand box. The sand will always conform to the shape of the box no matter the shape of the castle you create in it. That box is the framework determined by those who give of themselves to create Eve Online. Knowing that, I wonder what sort of game Dust 514 will become and, more importantly to me, how that will change the creative environment within CCP.

Dust 514 vs EVE Online: when worlds collide.

To date, this article is the most comprehensive comparison of how Eve Online and Dust 514 will interact in a real sense that I've read. It is an excellent read and I feel Dave Cook, along with studio technical director Richard Smith, did an excellent job relaying how it's all supposed to work.  It also convinces me that all the development in Eve Online for at least the past 18 months has not been about Eve Online. When the article discusses "a place to call home" I think, Incarna was never about Eve Online. When I read, “During our beta testing we’ve been doing work on our weapon classes to make sure that no one class is more powerful than others, because we want to make sure that there’s no one perfect thing that everyone gravitates towards,” I think, I've never read a more perfect explanation for why CCP launched it's ship rebalancing when it did and why it will mostly be ready come the winter expansion. Oh, and if you haven't heard yet, Dust 514 will launch next month - unofficially. You can read about it here.

Dreams of Yasur

If you have not watched this video, just do it. Do it at the highest resolution you can manage. Listen to it with headphones on. Turn the lights off. Don't let the real world distract you. If you can do this at work, by all means do so. It will be the best 8 minute break you've ever taken. If it doesn't leave a lump in your throat...

Fly Careful

Friday, September 21, 2012

What Legendary Norse Creature are You?

It's time to have a little fun. I want all of you to go into the weekend with a chuckle in your throat or at least a smile on your lips. To that end, I present legendary creatures I feel best fit the various play styles of Eve Online.

I use the various professions as documented on the official web site. Those are the the ones least likely to cause validity arguments. We Eve Online players tend to be a quarrelsome group don't we? I hope to avoid that today. Save it up for your roam later. *wink*

I am restricting this list to Norse creatures in honor of CCP's homeland. I have taken the descriptions from Wikipedia and altered them to conform to our chosen environment - the cold, hard places of New Eden.
  • Loyalist - Odin's Einherjar
    The New Eden einherjar are those who have died many times in battle and are deemed worthy to fight for Empire or alliance forever. They are brought back by clone vats. As in Norse mythology, this half  are the einherjar. They hone their fighting skills courtesy of the four Empires' long simmering hatreds for each other or the constant struggles beyond Empire space. They prepare daily for the final battle, when they will advance throughout New Eden to settle once and forever who will rule human kind.
  • Freedom Fighter  - Freya's Fólkvangr Warriors
    This half of New Eden's capsuleers are the half nor suited to be einherjar. They hate both empires and mandatory CTAs equally. This fuels all the conflict they could ever desire. These pilots prepare daily for their final battle, when they will throw off the last shackles of oppression and liberate humanity from those who would subjugate it forever.
  • Empire Builder - The Rå
    A New Eden rå is a keeper or warden of a particular system or region. The different species of rå are sometimes distinguished according to the different spheres of space with which they are connected, such as holesrå (worm holes) and goonsrå (Technetium systems).
  • Fleet Commander - The Valkyrie
    In New Eden, a valkyrie is rarely a female figure but still decides who dies and lives in battle. They're selective appraisal of fighting skills often determine which half of those who die in battle go on to be loyalists, and fight for Empire or alliance in the final battle.
  • Bounty Hunter  -The  Fylgja
    A New Eden fylgja is a capsuleer who exists in connection to another's fate or fortune. Fylgjur usually appear in the form of a red flashy icon and commonly appear during AFK moments, but the sagas relate that they could appear while a person is actively scanning as well, and that seeing one's fylgja is an omen of one's impending death. However, when fylgjur appear in the form of women, they are then supposedly fair game for every lame come-on in New Eden.
  • Pirate - Trolls
    New Eden trolls are said to dwell in isolated systems, sometimes live together (usually as father-and-daughter or mother-and-son), and are rarely described as helpful or friendly. It is rumored that they are Jötunn gone bad (or possibly mad.) Read this ancient comm signal transcript and judge for yourself:
Pyrat kalla mik
trungl sjǫtrungnis,
auðsug jǫtuns,
élsólar bǫl,
vilsinn vǫlu,
vǫrð nafjarðar,
hvélsveg himins –
hvat's pyrat nema þat?
  • Explorer  - Huginn and Muninn
    New Eden's ravens  fly all over known space, and sometimes unknown space, to bring  information to capsuleers. Sometimes this is information about an enemy. Sometimes it is long lost technology. The information is always highly valued.
  • Planetary Industrialist - The Landvættir
    Landvættir are spirits of the land. They protect and promote the flourishing of the specific worlds where they live, which can be as small as single planet or as large as an entire planetary system.
  • Manufacturer - The Dvergar
    New Eden Dvergar are capsuleers associated with minerals, luck, technology, craft, metal work, and greed. They are sometimes identified with Svartálfar and Døkkálfar when they work only for Goonswarm and TEST Alliance respectively. 
  • Trader- Dragons
    The typical New Eden dragon protects a transport or freighter filled with gold and treasure and is often associated with a great pirate who tries to "slay" it. Though a capable pilot, the Trader is generally to be found in its station lair, a Captain's Quarter that identifies it as an ancient creature of greed and wealth. 
  • Salvager - The Hamingja
    A New Eden hamingja refers to two concepts; the personification of the good fortune or luck of an individual, and, secondly, it refers to the odd appearance of the Noctis, a ship frequently used by them.
  • Miner - The Jötunn
    Living among the rocks, the Jötunn of New Eden operate in isolation or sometimes small groups. They are perhaps the oldest profession in New Eden. There is no empire built without them. There is no star gate that doesn't depend on them. There is no capsuleer who does not owe their own profession to the Miner from whose minerals all things come.
And now, here is a bonus.
  • Dust 514 Player - Skræling
You can look that one up yourself and draw the inference. *grin* I hope you've enjoyed reading this as much as I've enjoyed writing it. Please fill free to make other comparisons from other mythos in the comments. I look forward to reading them.

Fly Careful

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Off Grid Booster Lulz

Last week I read through several posts about off grid boosting. First there was Kirith Kodachi's. I think it was the word "rebuttal" that got me reading into this. I still haven't positively identified what he was rebutting but that's okay. Then there was Jester's take on it. That led me to Poetic Stanzel's and TeaDaze's posts on the subject.

As I'm a carebear, I didn't really understand at first what the big deal was. I've had opportunity to fly Sleeper PvE with a Damnation along. I have a personal appreciation for the boosts. They are nice. I certainly see why PvP pilots want them along in a fight. But after doing all the reading, Googling the topic and following Failheap Challenge threads, and Eve Forum threads and going all the way back to the CSM notes thread, it seems to me the issue falls squarely into the realm of lulz.

To put those lulz into perspective, I need to take you on a bit of a stroll down memory lane. There used to be this thing called Hulkageddon. Once a year for several years, l33t PvP pilots would purchase cheap million ISK ships. They would fly out on a mission of daring that required incredible courage and blow up 100 million ISK mining Exhumers.

Well, actually, their ships cost a little bit more than 1 million ISK. And they didn't always just shoot the expensive barges. This Catalyst actually cost 1.21 million ISK when it was popped by CONCORD after blowing up a Covetor in Renyn. I whored in on the kill mail. *grin* Back to the topic though. When the miners cried foul and said it was unfair for a million ISK ship (whose insurance would make up the loss) to one-shot a 100 million ISK ship, they were dismissively ignored. They were told to put on a tank, don't fly what you can't afford to loose, dock up or quit. They were told that's how Eve is and they should HTFU.

When other's would make fun of the gankers in return, they were subjected to in game harassment... I mean, they were located and taught some respect. Notice the use of six (6) million ISK ships used to kill the anti-Hulkageddon blogger. They certainly pulled out all the financial stops to make an example out of him didn't they?

This had gone on for years. On top of it all, the miners were mocked publicly and made fun of at every opportunity. Certainly some of these Eve players had questionable responses, but mostly it was a bunch of upset people who'd been trying to play the game their way and had some other people piss all over them virtually. Their anger was understandable. No one likes to be bullied, mocked and ridiculed.

In light of the five years of Hulkageddon and the effort to make it permanent, I just have to chuckle at the off grid booster debate. ZOMG! People use game mechanics to gain an advantage in Eve Online. Who knew!?

To bad off grid boosting takes far more skills than Hulkageddon griefing. Perhaps carebears could get it back on their tormentors of old, posting all the juicy tears on a blog and making fun of them. Alas, carebear's have no desire to make fun of other's like that. Those types of lulz rate really low in gross profit calculations.

Eventually (and recently) CCP ended the days of the million ISK PvP ship blowing up the 100 million ISK mining ship for lulz. Now those l33t PvP pilots have to fly 100 million ISK Tornados to do it, and that's not even a guaranteed alpha kill. So don't worry about off grid boosting. CCP will eventually address your concerns - hopefully before several years go by. Until then, I'll just quote Pierat from one of the links above,
"Oh and HTFU people. This is EVE. EVE is not a nice place."
Fly Careful

Monday, September 17, 2012

If there is no Kill Mail...

Something happened a while back and was something of a milestone for me. I'd been a member of Hiigaran Bounty Hunters Inc. [HBHI] for a couple weeks by that point and was adjusting well to life in a wormhole. I logged in about 18:00 hours Eve Standard Time, which is a bit early for me, but I needed to check on some things. I discovered I was not alone. There were several ships on d-scan. None of my corp mates were logged in. It was not a friendly visit.

I was in a Helios so warped to a point out of d-scan range of any celestial object and launched probes. I relocated to a different safe and ran some quick scans. It took about a minute to locate three Drakes, a Harbinger and a Noctis. Evidently it was a raid.

Tur had explained to me if we let too many anomalies build up in the hole, sooner or later other wormhole denizens or possibly even known spacers would eliminate them for us. Well, it was now sooner. The only thing that remained to be seen was what I'd do about it. They had to have seen my probes out. I doubt I had the element of surprise. But the idea of letting all that potential profit got to others bothered me.

I wanted to look up the corporation the raiders belonged to just for the record. I needed to see some pilot info and to do that I needed to get into line of site with them. I didn't want to just warp into any old anomaly looking for them. I have a healthy respect for C3 Sleepers. I've also read plenty accounts over on Tiger Ears of waiting until the sleepers did their worse to a ship and then pouncing. I really didn't want to get webbed, neuted and pounded by Sleepers just to have the raiders land on top of me. I'd rather it be the other way round.

I recalled probes, warped back to the POS and reshipped into an Arazu with Sisters Combat Probes loaded. I was sure they'd seen me. What did it matter now? But when I was back at safe and scanning again, the raiders seemed blissfully ignorant of my presence. They either didn't know I was around or didn't care. I soon had the Noctis located again and warped to a spot a respectable distance away.

It was being over-watched by two Drakes while it cleaned up some Sleeper wrecks. That was one anomaly's profit gone. I asked Aura to identify the corporation. Aura identified them as Useless Ideas. It had a July founding date. That really doesn't mean anything so I identified the pilots. They were all noobs. The oldest one was less than three months in pod... what the hell?

I soon confirmed their noob status when all but one of the Drakes warped off. The remaining Drake was regenerating shields. His armor had been half removed by Sleepers. I wanted to tell him he was lucky I wasn't in a Proteus but kept my fingers off the comm switch.

I knew these weren't all the ships in the raid and soon identified another group while I watched the Drake recharge shields to about 80% and warp off. I warped to the new group. It was another Drake, a Harbinger and a Cormorant. The battle cruiser pilots were two more noobs. The pilot of the Cormorant had been flying six months. I figured he was a poor man's salvager. I'd brought one to the hole myself. It was also about 30km from the battle cruisers and closer to me than to them. Now that was sloppy.

My Arazu doesn't have a huge alpha but it can pop a Cormorant - I think. It didn't matter. I wanted to let them know the hole was HBHI's and we'd contest their raid. I just needed to stay away from the battle cruisers. I swung around to the flank of the Cormorant. While I was getting there, the Drake warped off. The Harbinger was over 50km away and the Cormorant was just coming into optimal. I dropped cloak and targeted the Destroyer. He was fast enough to warp before I locked - damn cloak delay.

But there was still a Harbinger on the field. I locked her up and hit her with Sensor Dampers. I told Aura to keep her at 50km and launched five Hobgoblin IIs and set them on the Harbinger. At this point I just wanted to see what these noobs would do.

The Harbinger locked me back and opened fire. It was hopelessly out of range. Her Focused Anode Medium Particle Stream Is didn't even register on my shields. Of course, my drones weren't going to dent the Harbinger either. I ascertained that I was faster than the Harbinger by easily kiting it. However, when yet another Drake showed up I recalled my drones and broke contact.

I was out of time so parked the Arazu at a safe and logged off. A few hours later I logged back in and had a quick look around. I wanted to see if the raiders were still there and if they'd left any anomalies. We were only down two anomalies. The raiders were nowhere to be seen. I'd counted at least eight battle cruisers on d-scan and seen five with my own eyes and we were down only two anomalies?

I'd like to think I scared them off. However, the damage I saw on the one Drake, the T1 weapons they were fitted with and the age of the pilots tell a different story logically. I know they'd taken down one anomaly before I scanned down the first group. I don't think they'd gotten through it very quickly. Their DPS just wasn't very high and C3 sleepers are formidable. They probably lost a ship or two in an Outpost Frontier Stronghold or Solar Cell. I know I've hit armor alarm many times in an active tank Megathron in those anomalies since joining HBHI. Those sleepers have some excellent DPS.

Still, there is one thing of which I'm not sure about this encounter. Perhaps those more versed in the PvP arts can instruct me. Is it still PvP if there is no kill mail and it was a silly engagement to begin with? Thanks in advance for any pointers. FYI, the Arazu was scram, web and MWD fit if that makes any difference.

Fly Careful

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Let us be True to One Another

Dover Beach - by Matthew Arnold 
The sea is calm tonight.
The tide is full, the moon lies fair
Upon the straits; on the French coast the light
Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand;
Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.
Come to the window, sweet is the night-air!
Only, from the long line of spray
Where the sea meets the moon-blanched land,
Listen! you hear the grating roar
Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling,
At their return, up the high strand,
Begin, and cease, and then again begin,
With tremulous cadence slow, and bring
The eternal note of sadness in.
Sophocles long ago
Heard it on the Agaean, and it brought
Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow
Of human misery; we
Find also in the sound a thought,
Hearing it by this distant northern sea.
The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth's shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled.
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.
Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.
This poem has always held special meaning for me. It is during times like these I reminisce on why. So much of what he says about the world rings true in my life experience. But the condition of the world, now as much as it was then, is not what's important in this poem.

On Wednesday I learned of the craven attack that killed Sean Smith, known to all of us as Vile Rat. This is not the first time, nor is it the last time, such attacks will come. History is replete with them. Today the favorite target is the U.S. In Victorian times, when Matthew Arnold wrote this poem, it was PAX Britannia. The reasons for such attacks are best covered elsewhere. I frankly do not care at this moment. That's not what's important.

What is important is us. Just as Matthew Arnold implored of his new bride so long ago, I implore of us, the players of Eve Online, to be true to one another. I do not reference the out pouring of grief and condolences flooding our virtual community. That is expected, normal and not what I mean.

It is true I do not believe I can ever ride the Goonswarm hegemony wagon. It is true I suspect Vile Rat would have done everything within his considerable power to hegemonize me. That, to me, is who Vile Rat was. But it wasn't just about him. As has been pointed out, he was the quintessential public servant. He did not seek fame or glory, only results. He would not want his efforts going to waste. I fully expect he'd want another to pickup where he left off and to not let everything he accomplished whither and die. That is what I mean when I say, "be true to one another."

It is a tragedy to loose Vile Rat. It would be a travesty to lose one iota of what he loved, what he worked to build. He believed in Eve Online. He believed in his Goonswarm. He believed in a community that is more than pixels on a screen, or a server rack, or thousands upon thousands of lines of code. This game is so much more than just Internet spaceships. If you do not believe this, look into your heart. How does it feel? Mine aches - but there is also a pride in who he was and what we are. This does not happen if it's "just a game."

Being true to one another means NC DOT takes advantage of Goonswarm's grief to try and turn the tide of war. Being true means the Vile Rat Charity scam in Jita just might work. Being true means pirates log on, find an unsuspecting pseudo carebear and pop him. They then hold the pod for ransom. Being true means high-sec war-decs, LP farming, ninja salvaging, can flipping and the thousand other dirty tricks Capsuleers play on each other every single day don't stop. They don't slow down, not even a little.

Now that the shock is starting to wear off, consider this. What would Vile Rat do? Now go out and do it.

Fly Careful

Mabrick's Link Stew

Having a hobby can be a seriously time consuming undertaking. I have several hobbies and I can attest they all take considerable planning and commitment. Fortunately, many of them complement each other so I can combine them in the time available to me. Not that it matters, but my hobbies of hiking, amateur geology (aka rock hounding) and photography nicely dovetail with one another.

Thus it is my summer weeks are spent alternately wishing I could get out into the wilds to pursue those hobbies or doing home maintenance. When you live in a 126 year old house that can be a full-time job in itself. In between all this, I have the RL mortgage payment plan known as a job to hold down. All this leaves little time to find out all the things I want to concerning Eve Online and the people who play it. It becomes a little easier during the rainy and cold season as my other hobbies dovetail with this blog more easily - but only a little.

Why am I telling you all this? Because I know many of you face the same issue. Between your other pursuits and RL commitments, your time with Eve Online becomes precious. You have a choice: catch up on the gossip as it were or play the game. Who wouldn't rather play than search out all the juicy meta-game rumors and controversies? That's why you're here, at least partially, right?

So I want to help. Aggregation is good. Who doesn't like the one-stop-shop concept at least in theory? I figure anything that helps shorten the time you read and increase the time you play is a good thing... at least in theory. I am aware that I could just be drawing you deeper into the meta-game and thus preventing you from flying Internet spaceships. If that is the case, may I suggest mining in high-sec while you read? That way you can still feel like you're not neglecting your Internet spaceship responsibilities. *wink*

So today starts Mabrick's Link Stew. In Mabrick's Link Stew, I'll try and bring you links to things concerning Eve Online that perhaps you haven't seen on other news aggregators or blogs. I'll try and keep the links unique, unless they are particularly smashing. I'll discuss what it is about the link that makes me want to make you aware of it. Hopefully it will be of value to you. So with all that said, here we go with the first link.

          Sink or Swim: Markets and Money in Online Games by Connor Sheridan

The first link is a GameSpot article on MMO economies. In it, Eve Online figures prominently. It starts off talking about Dr. Eyjólfur Guðmundsson and his small team of economists who work for CCP. It compares and contrasts various MMO economies starting with Ultima Online. It gives a sort of evolutionary view of MMO economic development over the years. Have you ever wondered what "sink and faucet" actually means? What really got my attention in the article though was the last section. Can virtual ever replace physical? In some ways, I hope it can. More jobs are always a good thing. But it may be a very frightening future to those raised in the more traditional view of manufacturing.

          Valve's Big Picture is going live on Steam by Trent Nouveau

This piece on TG Daily isn't specifically about Eve Online. In fact, Eve Online isn't even mentioned. However, Eve Online is available through Steam and the possible implications of what this article discusses really grabbed my attention! What would you give to play Eve Online without a PC of any sort? What if you could play Eve Online through the gaming console already linked to your ginormous television? That's Big Picture for Steam. That's awesome with sauce. It's in beta this month.

Well, that's it for this first edition of Mabrick's Link Stew. It's a bit on the short side being the first one and all. Blame the lead in if you like. Next time there will be more. I promise. What I'm not promising is a regular time span between Mabrick's Link Stew posts. They will come as I have links to share. Until then...

Fly Careful

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Today Eve is too Real

I have reverted today's post to draft and rescheduled it for tomorrow. My heart's not in it today. I think you all know why.

I did not know Vile Rat, Sean Smith in RL, but I know many, many young men and women like him. I was one once. I too have walked in dangerous places. I was fortunate enough to come home.

Rest in Peace Vile Rat. We will remember you Sean Smith. May his family find the solace they deserve in this time of grief.

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Nature of a Carrot

Last week Jester said I dropped the ball. First though, he said I was "usually very good about care-bear concerns." Now that's a masterful way to take the sting out of just about anything. It wasn't that I dropped it so much as delivered too much toe under the ball and missed the goal. My ball sailed over the defender, the upper bar and straight on out of play. And it was a free kick even! C'est la vie.

Then on Thursday, EVE News24 ran this article from Syncaine: The highsec Player does Not Exist. "That's the right play!" I thought to myself. Syncaine is so absolutely correct. There is a group of players living and working in high-sec who will never leave high-sec unless it is to move to a different game. Let's call them True Carebears. They are the ones I don't want hit with the stick. They are the ones I was thinking about when I wrote that post. This group by default includes all new players regardless of PvP disposition as far as I'm concerned.

Everyone else living and working in high-sec is in the second group. They are in high-sec to make ISK or for whatever reason they feel high-sec is more advantageous than anywhere else for the things they do. They are the malleable group. They may grumble about change, but so long as it isn't something like Incarna they will adapt. They are the ones who CCP can "entice" into low-sec. Let's call them Pseudo Carebears.

The nut of the problem is CCP can't use high-sec station changes to target one group without also targeting the other. Increased taxes and reduced refining rates and all those sorts of things apply to everyone. When too much of the stick is applied to things they value most, True Carebears will leave. CCP can ill afford to drive out any subscribers.

That leads to my overly broad observation that low-sec needs to be more advantageous than high-sec for the things they do - they being the Pseudo Carebears. But as Jester correctly pointed out, you can't make something less expensive than practically free. But can you make it more advantageous?

What CCP needs to do is better understand how those two groups are different. CCP needs to identify high-sec benefits for the Pseudo Carebears that hold little value to True Carebears. Once they identify those benefits, CCP does not need to worry about driving off the True Carebears. They can target changes to those benefits with significance only to the Pseudo Carebears.

Here is my attempt at listing high-sec benefits and which group values that particular benefit most. Initially I was going to do a them-us-both sort of categorization. After getting most of the way through it, I think that may be way too simplistic. All things are valued by both groups but usually more so by one than the other. So I whipped out Excel and I did up a quick spreadsheet with relative percentage valuations and a nice chart.
Taxes are only in the mid range as you can see. I'm sure all of you disagree to one degree or another about my assignment of relative values. I'm sure I've missed some things. So what. That isn't the point. The point is to simply identify benefits with which CCP could safely tinker and those benefits CCP should leave the hell alone. I guarantee my own bias has played into this somewhat but hey, I get to be me. I also know that my reasons for the top three are good ones. They really don't benefit True Carebears nearly as much as Pseudo Carebears.

So, I say the first thing CCP should do is stop allowing POS building in high-sec. No, seriously, those structures are very unimportant to a True Carebear. A True Carebear probably doesn't have the ISK to afford one anyway. The 10% I figure do are likely in a corporation and the POS is a corporation asset. I am not worried about corporations. True Carebears in those organizations may leave it if the corp is forced into low-sec but they won't leave the game. That's all that matters.

Back on my original post last week, Deras Fortunati had a very interesting proposition. He wondered if switching .5 and .6 security systems to low-sec status would help. After mulling over it for a week, I've decided I can really support that change providing POS capabilities are increased. I like the idea he had for a new skill to add 5% refining per level to bring POS arrays up to high-sec station standards. That would keep CCP from having to mess with POS code, which is already spaghetti I'm sure, and ease the sting inflicted to the Pseudo Carebears.

The second thing CCP should do is move Jump Clones out of high-sec. True Carebears really have no need for jump clones. Jump Clones from what I've seen and read are used predominantly to get from null-sec to high-sec. Those are most certainly Pseudo Carebears. If CCP doesn't want to move them, then let me say that 100,000 ISK for a Jump Clone is far, far too low a price. If you want to raise the cost of something in high-sec CCP, that's where you should start. Set the cost of a Jump Clone to a value that matters to a rich Pseudo Carebear. Make them as expensive as a capital ship, the only other place they can have a Jump Clone. That's fair in my estimation.

The third thing CCP should look at revamping are high-sec Incursions. They tried this once before and the entire Incursion community went to arms... or went home depending on your point of view. Personally, I think CCP made a mistake by backing down on the payout reductions. However, I also think they made a mistake in how they implemented the changes. Fortunately they don't have to make them less profitable to encourage Pseudo Carebears to leave high-sec. All they need to do is remove Incursions from high-sec all together. I think CONCORD and the several Empire Navies have figured out how to stop Kuvakei by now.

And that is how CCP can encourage Pseudo Carebears out of high-sec who are only there now because it is more advantageous for them. It is this convenience factor that needs soured, not the way high-sec stations work. I believe starting with the three items listed above would be a good start on the process of clearing... I mean enticing Pseudo Carebears from high-sec. Let the wailing commence.

Fly Careful

Friday, September 7, 2012

High Profit Wormhole PI - Part 2

This post is twice as long as I normally like to give you. However, this is not a short post subject. You have been warned. Luckily you have all weekend to chew on it.

In part one of High Profit Wormhole PI, I discussed the transportation and market considerations that govern PI in a wormhole. To sum up, you can't always get to market when you want and minimizing cargo hauling capacity is paramount. WH dynamics are responsible for that. If you're going to live in a hole, you've got to bet the cards given to you and bluffing will only get you podded.

Just be aware, these are WH considerations and do not apply to high-sec, low-sec or null-sec.Those areas have their own considerations. Also, everything I discuss assumes you are doing it with one character. I do not play the alt game. It has always seemed a bit too much like cheating to me. That's just the way I am. I have my own code. I don't do alts - end of conversation. You may use as many as you like though. I'm not prejudiced about it.

Now, with that out of the way, in part two I'll go into the specifics of how I setup my production lines. This approach applies anywhere. The more experienced Industrialist might not find  much in this from which they will benefit. But that isn't the reason I'm writing about it. I'm doing it for those that are new to Eve Online or new to PI. For you old hands out there, I encourage you to add to what I'm putting down here. New industrialists need all the help they can get and a lot of what we consider basic knowledge never gets written down. Industry isn't like LP farming. It requires a substantial knowledge base to pull off successfully. Let's knowledge-fy the uninitiated shall we?

So, to start with, the skill requirements for this setup are extreme. I am level 5 in all PI skills except Remote Sensing. Remote Sensing doesn't apply in a WH or, from what I've seen, anywhere else. You can do this setup with varying success with some skills that are not level 5. The skills that must be level 5 are Command Center Upgrades and Interplanetary Consolidation. You will want an Elite Command Center (ECC) on each of six planets to obtain maximum profit. It will take about two months to train those skills to level V so plan accordingly.

The next thing you need to do is conduct an assay of your planets. You need to scan every single one of them and determine what they have in abundance, what they have in less than an abundance and what they might not have at all. Even though every planet has five (5) resources you can extract, they have varying amounts of those resources. Sometimes they don't have five resources even, not really. Take a look at my temperate planet.
This has got to be the only temperate planet ever to not have any Aqueous Liquids on it. Actually, that is not quite a true statement. It does have them. It would probably show a quarter bar in high-sec with the amount it has. That's the thing you need to know. The resource bars are relational to one another. They are not absolute quantities. This says the planet has huge tracts of everything except Aqueous Solutions. However, it does have an amount comparable to a high-sec planet.

You need to know differences in availability like this before you start putting command centers down. Aqueous Liquids can be obtained on several planet types. Use the one that gives the best relative harvest. But if the missing resource had been Autotrophs, and this was my only temperate planet, I could have forgotten about producing Nanite Repair Paste (NRP) in large quantities. Industrial Fiber production would have been greatly constrained and thus a bottleneck in the entire NRP production chain. As it was, this was not a show stopper, only a show changer.

After the planet reconnoiter is complete, you can start planning your production lines. That's not building them. I wrote, "planning them." First planning point, don't be lured into extracting all the resources you can simply because you can. What constrains your production system isn't what you can extract, but how much you can produce of your desired end products. This is important so let me repeat it.

***What constrains your production system isn't what you can extract, but how much you can produce of your desired end product.***

What do you mean Mabrick? Isn't more better? Look at all those Autotrophs! Yeah, I feel you. It took me awhile to figure it out myself. So lets consider my last production system. It was a high-sec P4 line producing Wetware Mainframes. P4 items are the easiest with which to illustrate the problem. You have to ask yourself this. "How many lower level facilities does it take to support one High-Tech Production Planet (HTTP) in full production?" Here's the answer... hang on.

One fully stocked HTPP produces 24 Wetware Mainframes a day. To do so it needs 144 Biotech Research Reports, 144 Cryoprotectant Solutions and 144 Supercomputers. To produce that many P3 items requires six (6) Advanced Industry Facilities (AIF.) Each one can produce 72 units a day. Each one of those AIFs require two (2) AIFs producing the needed nine (9) P2 components. One AIF with a P2 schematic loaded can produce 120 units a day. AIFs run both P2 and P3 schematics BTW. Each of those P2 configured AIFs requires one (1) Basic Industry Facility (BIF) for complete fulfillment. BIFs produce items twice as fast as the AIFs so can keep up with the 40 unit requirement for the P2 AIFs. BIFs produce 960 units per hour.

You also need to know how many components are needed for each level of production. In the case of Wetware Mainframes, it requires three (3) P3 components as mentioned. Each of your P3 schematics require three (3) P2 products. Each of those P2 schematics require two (2) P1 products. The number of facilities needed must reflect these ratios. So, lets put all this into an equation shall we.

1 HTPP + (3 P3 Schematics * 2 AIF each) + (9 P2 Schematics * 4 AIF each) + (18 P1 Schematics * 4 BIF each) = 115 total factories

That's a lot of factories. How much grid is that going to take from the six Elite Command Centers? Like ships, each Command Center has a limited amount of CPU and grid. Grid should always be the limiting factor. If it isn't, you have not maximized your production and have too many non-productive modules installed. Though in my experience, I've never seen this happen. Grid seems to always be the limiter. So, all together the six Elite Command Centers produce 114,000 MW (19,000 MW *6) of grid. These factories consume 400 MW per HTPP, 700 MW per AIF and 800 MW per BIF. Time for another equation.

( 1 HTTP * 400 MW) + (6 AIF * 700 MW) + (36 AIF * 700 MW) + (72 BIF * 800 MW) = 87,400 MW

That leaves enough grid to run 10 Extractor Control Units (ECU, 2600 MW each) and one Extractor Head (550 MW.) That's not one head per ECU, that's one head period. You can reduce the ECUs and get five (5) heads for every eliminated ECU, but you will never be able to run enough ECUs to obtain all the resources you need for maximum HTTP output.

Put another way, it is impossible to produce 24 Wetware Mainframes by yourself no matter what you do. The six ECCs will never produce enough grid for all the factories needed. Even with maximum skills you don't have the grid to accommodate that fit. You need to know that before putting any Command Centers on the ground. If you approach the problem from the extraction point of view, you'll build all these extractors and facilities only to discover that your P3 AIFs and HTTP stand idle for much of the time. You've over built your power hungry low end production line and that's wasted ISK in more ways than one my friends.

***Know the grid limitations for the Command Centers you can use and plan your production from the top down, not the bottom up.***

So what's a hard working industrialist to do? You can either partner up, use an alt or buy your needed components off the market. In a WH, you can forget the last option. If you have no partners because they are busy building components for POS fuel, you are left with the alt solution. Or, you run scenarios until you determine what you can build by yourself. Then you pick the most profitable commodities from those choices and optimize them keeping your transportation restrictions from Part 1 in mind.

I already had an idea that I wanted to produce NRP in the WH. The equations for that production system look like this,

<----------------------- Gel-Matric Biopaste ----------------------------->
(1 P3 AIF + (3 P2 Schematics * 2 AIF each) + (6 P1 Schematics * 2 BIF each)) + 
<----------------------- Data Chips ------------------------------------>
(1 P3 AIF + (2 P2 Schematics * 2 AIF each) + (4 P1 Schematics * 2 BIF each)) + 
<------- Nanites ----------------------->
(2 P2 AIF + (2 P1 Schematics * 2 BIF each)) = 38 total factories


((1 AIF * 700 MW) + (6 AIF * 700 MW) + (12 BIF * 800 MW)) + ((1 AIF * 700 MW) + (4 AIF * 700 MW) + (8 BIF * 800 MW)) + ((2 AIF * 700 MW) + (4 BIF * 800 MW)) = 29,000 MW

As this requires 12 ECUs to feed the 24 BIFs add,

12 ECUs * 2600 MW = 31,200 MW

Add a Launch Pad at 700 MW and the total grid needed (without extractor heads or link costs) is 60,900 MW out of 114,000 MW. That leaves enough grid to run about 90 extractor heads! Also, Oxygen is used twice in this production system. That frees up enough grid for five more heads but you'll have to double the heads on one ECU. Let's say four instead of two. You gain 3 heads.

After seeing this, I was inclined to think, "Hey, I could double that production!" Let's do the math. You will need double the facilities to double the production. Double the grid use for facilities to 58,000 grid. That leaves 56,000 grid. You can still use the same number of ECUs because WH planets are stinking loaded. That leaves 27,400 grid. Don't forget the Landing Pad: 26,700 MW. That leaves enough grid for about 48 heads. However, since you will need twice as many heads they go from only 24 heads (two per) to 48 heads. This does not take into account the grid cost of links or the possibility you may need more heads per ECU on occasion. Guess what? I just saved myself from a lot of unnecessary expense because the numbers told me ahead of time I couldn't realistically double my production of NRP.

Even though I couldn't double my production of NRP items, I had quite a bit of grid left over. It wasn't enough to run a completely separate P3 line with its additional 19 factories and associated ECUs. However, I was already producing two of the needed resources for Robotics. Since WH planets are so rich, it allowed me to just add an Extractor Head or two and double the BIFs already in place on two P1 lines. That was half the P1 products for Robotics. It saved me just enough grid to support a second factory planet for Robotics.

With all this information gathered, I was finally ready to start building my NRP production. Here are a couple planets from my final production line.
High Capacity P1 Production - notice the need for a Storage Facility
Secondary Factory Planet
Notice that some of my ECUs have an odd number of lines coming off them for the heads. Yep, two heads was overly optimistic on a couple planets. WH planets are resource rich but they aren't always resource rich in the same places. I also had to use a couple extra storage facilities to handle the extracted resources. It's always best to leave yourself a little grid leeway. You won't need much.

When setting up your production colonies, there are many other considerations to take into account.  Here are the ones I look at and my thought processes concerning them.
  • Select the planets that are richest in the resources needed for primary product (in my case NRP components.) If you have a choice of two planets that can both provide the quantities you need, pick the one with the smallest diameter. Link costs suck.
  • Of the chosen planets, select one you can limit to only one P1 BIF product line if possible and move other resource harvesting to other planets. Make it your primary factory planet. All primary P2 and P3 production should be done there, it is just more efficient that way. Make sure it is a small diameter planet. Don't try this on a 150km diameter gas giant. The increased grid requirement for links is untenable.
  • Identify another planet that can serve as a secondary factory planet if you have an unrelated P3 line to run. Don't overload your primary factory planet. If you have the grid to spare, don't move that P1 line I mentioned earlier and that will make this easier.
  • Try and limit all planets to only two resources if possible. ECUs are grid expensive and you will want to do your P1 production on planet.
  • It does not matter where your Command Center goes, but place your Landing Pad in a location central to your resource collection to minimize ECU link distance. This is critical on large planets like Gas Giants! Once the Landing Pad is in place, cluster your remaining modules around it as I have. When building strings of factories, connect them to each other, not the landing pad. I am OCD enough that each string of factories produces the same thing. If I go above three in a row, I start a new row. That's my preference. If you have to, you can go as many as six. Just remember, links are pipes with finite capacity. Try not to have to upgrade them as that is just wasted ISK IMO.
  • When looking for a second profit generating line, find one that leverages your existing line even if it isn't the outright most profitable line you could run. Robotics came in third on my P3 profitability spreadsheet. Third is still better than missing the game entirely.
And penultimately, here is the Planet Overview table from EveHQ's PI Manager for my Nanite Repair Paste and Robotics production lines.
With consistent attention (I run it on a 24 hour cycle,) it will gross in the area of about 450 million ISK a month. Some months may be a little less. Some months may be a little more. But what is really important to me is that I can do this by myself. I don't need an alt or a partner. I am an independent industrialist and I intend to stay that way. It's my hard work. It's my reward.

I hope this has made some sense and helps you to realize your PI asperations. If I can leave you with one last thought it's this - PI is about planning, planning and more planning. Obsess on the details and you too will have high profits.

Fly careful.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

High Profit Wormhole PI - Part 1

Two weeks ago I discussed a quick, low risk setup for conducting PI in a Wormhole (WH) system. It primarily minimized the risk involved by reducing the amount of planetary cross-leveling of resources needed. Profitability was the secondary concern - I know... heresy.

This was not all that well received by established industrialists because it didn't maximize profit. Risks must be taken in business just as in PvP. This is not an uncommon sentiment among serious industrialists, and even those who are not primarily industrialists and only pay for their other vices through PI. It is also not wrong. It is a choice. Some folks are less risk averse than others. This post is for them.

Maximizing profit in WH PI isn't just about producing the stuff you can sell for the most money. There are two other concerns that you should take into account.
  1. The first is mass matters. All WHs have the same PI potential. Not all WHs allow all ship types. You aren't going to take an Orca into a Class 1 WH. Moving a freighter in and out of some connections runs the risk of collapsing that connection and stranding you on the wrong side. This happened just recently within HBHI in fact. As an Industrialist, not being in your hole means you can't run your industry. A day's delay can throw a big wrench into a well designed "just in time" production system.
  2. Second, your route to market is impaired. You will not have the luxury of getting your goods in and out of your WH whenever you want. This isn't so important if you have a high-sec static. However, if you live in a WH with a low-sec static (like I do) or you live in any WH above a C3, you will only be able to take your goods to market when the laws of WH physics and raiders say you can.
These two concerns dictate that you keep the cargo volume of your goods to a minimum. Not to minimize ship loss costs, but to ensure you can get the cargo out to your market at all. Smaller ships can do this more easily but have smaller cargo holds. The second reason is you want to maximize profit per m3 when you can make it to market. Here is an example of what I mean.

The average current price across all market hubs of a Wetware Mainframe is approximately 1.2m ISK. They take 100 m3 of cargo space each. If your transport has 3000 m3, you can transport 30 of them. Here is the profit equation per full cargo hold.

( 3000 m3 / 100 m3 ) * 1,2000,000 ISK = 36,000,000 ISK

Now, compare that with Biotech Research Reports which take 6 m3 of cargo space and currently sell for an average of 74k ISK.

(3000 m3 / 6 m3) * 74,000 ISK = 37,000,000 ISK

It is more profitable to build the P3 item than the P4. They also have the added benefit of fitting into more ships. If I have a four low-sec jump to get from my static K162 to high-sec, I might want to take an Arazu rather than a transport. With a 315 m3 cargo hold, I can haul three Wetware Mainframes or 52 Biotech Research Reports. That's 3.2m ISK versus 3.8m ISK. These differences add up, especially when the Arazu survives where the transport might not have. The other thing that happens in a hole is you sometimes get an awesome random K162 or excellent static. You only have 20 P3 items ready to sell though (for whatever reason.) Then you take a Helios because it's quick and cloaky. This of course assumes you don't need to buy anything. That's not what this post is about so let's just skip it.

Lastly, don't forget to take into account how many planets you'll need. That is also a limiting factor in PI profitability. It takes a minimum of three planets to make Wetware Mainframes and an extra level of factories. You can produce Biotech Research Reports on just two planets (they have to be the right two of course) and needs one less level of production. Theoretically (and I say this because it really depends on how your planets scan out,) you can run three P3 lines compared to only two P4 lines.

Now for what I've decided to produce. I have decided to manufacture an item that requires two P3 and a P2 component and an additional stand alone P3. The item I am manufacturing is Nanite Repair Paste. It is a high volume product in the ammunition category and currently sells for about 15,000 ISK per unit though prices do vary wildly from system to system. Better yet, it takes one of each P3 item and four of the P2 items  that together would need 13.52 m3 of cargo space to haul and reduces the needed space to .01 m3. Now that's compression! At that rate of compression, the Arazu from before can transport a helluva lot of profit.

(315 m3 / .01 m3) * 15,000 ISK = 472,500,000 ISK!

With profit to cubic meter ratios like that, you should be able to get your goods to market much, much easier. You can wait for that optimal static. You can make one trip, which is always the bast way to go. You get your hard work to market quickly and safely so you can actually realize the profit. Remember, until you get your products to market, all you've got is a bunch of stuff in storage.

In part two of this post, I'll discuss exactly how I setup the planets in my WH to maximize profit by producing three P3 and a P2 component. Believe it or not, it is very much like fitting a ship. Until then...

Fly Careful

Monday, September 3, 2012

Use Carrots not Sticks CCP Yb

The Nosy Gamer kicked off this long U.S. holiday weekend with High Sec Station Nerf Coming. That certainly got mine and several other blogger's attention. The source of this proclamation was this question of CCP Ytterbium on the forums and his answer (emphasis mine,)
A: Indeed we do. This topic brought quite an internal discussion, and while this most likely won't be part of a Factional Warfare iteration, we do want to have a look at reducing high-security stations effectiveness to make other areas of space more interesting. Some examples could be reducing refining rates, increasing ISK payment to install jobs. Nothing is set in stone as this is not planned for the immediate future however. Another good idea we noticed here was to tie high-security tax with the war performance of its related Factional Warfare Militia. So if, by example, the Caldari Militia are losing the war in Factional Warfare, all taxes in Caldari State high-security space could go up to support the war effort.
Needless to say, there are many, many upset high-sec carebears right about now. I'm one of them, except I don't live in high-sec any more. However, I do visit and I still have to sell my wares in high-sec stations. These possibilities that CCP Yyyerbium mentions,  and they are only possibilities at this point, poke a stick at every one. I'm going to address each of the things CCP Yb mentioned after his bombshell statement and then provide an alternate way of promoting low-sec. One that doesn't piss in the face of everyone doing business in high-sec, and BTW that is everyone.

The first thing he mentions is reducing refining rates in high-sec stations. For the love of all that's good in mining, this makes no sense. All the best equipment and the best workers are in high-sec. Of course it should have the best refining capability. It's peaceful space where civilians love to work and refine ore. Besides, reducing station effectiveness is only going to hurt the little guy. By little guy I mean the noob who struggles to make that first 100 million ISK. By reducing high-sec effectiveness, you are just making the game harder for that player. As a result, drop rates will go up. No one wants that. Let's not make the cliff any steeper, okay CCP code name atomic number 70? There are better ways to encourage more experienced players to the edges.

The second item is to increase ISK payment for install jobs. To be honest, this isn't a bad idea in general. They did this with PI and it hurt, but it didn't kill PI. PI in high-sec is still profitable. It's just not possible for a two month old character to generate a quarter billion ISK in profit for less than 30 minutes work a day any more. Two months is about the amount of time it takes to train Command Center Upgrades and Interplanetary Consolidation to level 5. Any character can then setup a P3 or P4 production system and make a quarter billion ISK a month easy under the old taxing system. Now it is much harder to generate that sort of revenue.

But back to install jobs. Has anyone tried doing a copy job in high-sec lately? It takes a damn month just to get started. Same goes for researching BPOs. Anything that would get those guys out of high-sec stations and into their own research POS would be a good thing. However, just increasing the fee probably won't do it - but more on that below.

The next thing mentioned was linking high-sec tax rates to Factional Warfare effort. Isn't this just a little bit like making all high-sec into a Factional Warfare zone? And what about us that live outside high-sec? Should those that live in wormholes and null-sec be penalized because one faction sucks? Sure, I could warp to the side that doesn't suck, but why should I have to use my valuable playing time warping long routes because of Factional Warfare incompetence?

Also, claiming that a new tax rate is to support the war effort breaks lore. The Caldari Empire and the Gallente Federation are not at war. Increasing tax levels to support an illegal militia action is an act of war, and CONCORD be damned, there will be hell to pay! Get my point? Tread carefully when getting the Empires involved. Until an actual state of war exists between the Empires, something I've discussed before, there should be nothing done in Empire to support the militias.

Now, since no one likes a person that points out problems but never offers solutions, here are a few better ideas (IMO of course, CCP Penultimate Lanthanide and you may freely disagree.)

1. Instead of penalizing high-sec refine rates increase the refine rates in low-sec. Do this for both stations and POS arrays. Let POS arrays match high-sec stations and I say let low-sec stations do better. You can't let them be better than 100% success, but you can eliminate any taxes or fees for using them. And make these benefits available to anyone who comes to the station. What you need is a Gold Rush, not a Prohibition. If you allow low-seccers to strike gold, there will be a rush by high-seccers to get in on the action. Use carrots, not sticks.

2. Make manufacturing cheap, cheap, cheap in low-sec. Who doesn't believe that U.S. companies like to manufacture things in Asia because the cost of doing business is low? The costs of doing business in the U.S. are high wages and high safety standards. There is a plethora of laws that ensure worker safety in the U.S. and prevents things like sweat shops and child labor. Couple that with higher wages and it's damn expensive to manufacture things in the U.S. The same would be true where empire standards are rigorously enforced. But things are expensive enough for the most part and any increase is just going to preclude new players that can't afford it and don't have the skills to survive in low-sec. Fortunately, enforcement in the outer systems is not so rigorous. Make industry dirt cheap out there and you will have every high-sec Fortune 100 company knocking on its gates. Hell, give them some bribe ISK if you have to! But reduce rates in low-sec, not increase them in high-sec.

3. And do all this for all low-sec, not just Factional Warfare systems. Give stations 10 times the number of manufacturing, copy and research slots. Make them practically free. Make the cost of doing business so low that greedy industrialists can't resist. Do this, and they will come.

So, rather than make high-sec an industrial barren wasteland, make low-sec into the next Yukon Territory. Rather than lay the whip into high-sec industrialist who have done nothing wrong, lead them to greener pastures with a nice juicy tax exemption. Emulate what RL cities, states and countries do when competing for that next Facebook data center or that next Apple factory. Stop thinking negatively and start enticing people to move.

Fly Careful

EDIT 16:19 EVE Time --> FYI, I am not making fun of CCP Ytterbium's name. I actually adore the name. It is a rare earth metal from a peculiar area of the periodic table. Besides, the name just rolls off the tongue and is fun to say out loud. All the other references I use for the name are from the periodic table. He chose the name so I figure he'll like the references. If he doesn't, I apologize in advance for my poor taste.