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Monday, January 30, 2012

It requires a lot of travel evidently.

So, I've been working on my Caldari problem. It's not really a problem. It's more like an annoyance. Industrialists need access to Jita - even Gallente industrialists - and the Caldari State and Gallente Federation don't see eye to eye on anything. They both find displeasure in things done for the other. It's silly really. I just work and take care of business and they hate me for it because I'm in Gallente space. It's quite juvenile, but both sides do it so I suppose that makes it karma neutral.

Of course, I could hire someone else to take care of Jita runs for me but where's the fun in that? Besides, if I'm gonna loose a load of stuff to a gank, I want to be there to notice who did it.

Now, every minute I spend taking care of my Caldari annoyance (sounds like a rash doesn't it?) is time I'm not making ISK. After a bit of consideration, I'd need to visit one of the Caldari data centers to minimize the time I'd spend not industrializing. So after finishing up with my R&D agent in Caldari space, I headed over to Ahtulaima.

It was also a chance to visit a few systems I hadn't been to yet and admire the scenery. I do love the look of the new engine trails!

I got to Ahtulaima and struck up a conversation with an agent who would actually talk to me. He gave me a task which I'm sure he thought a difficult one.

Of course, I'm an industrialist with some ISK in my pocket; not his normal favor-seeking capsuleer. I took his mission and immediately headed to the one system where I knew I could complete the task in the shortest amount of time.

Ah, there's no place like Jita IV-4 to warm an industrialist's heart. Yes, there are scammers. Yes, there are gankers. Yes, everyone scans you like your going through airport security. But nothing quite captures the vitality of New Eden like this place does.

I secured what I needed for a rather exorbitant price but I consoled myself with the thought I'd just made some poor ratter's day. I went back to Ahtulaima and turned them in.

The agent was most impressed. He put in a good word for me with another agent and I got a second mission! It was a courier mission that took me to some more new Caldari jump gates. Along the way I even got to see the new Caldari home world.

Well, having seen the old planet many times, I think they got a deal!

Regardless, I finished my mission, and though the Federation was none to happy about it, the Caldari are much more accommodating to me. I headed home satisfied that my route to Jita was secure... bad choice of words... my route to Jita remained open to me.

Fly careful.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Just taking care of business.

I've been busy taking care of relations lately. I ran Space Ghost II two days ago and came up with exactly one anomaly. It turned out to be a wormhole leading off into W2 space.

Since there was nothing else I decided to have a look. It was nothing special. It was an average system with average planets. On the head's up the customs offices were corporation tagged so I knew it was an occupied system.

I took a quick look at the local orbital configuration. The last planet had a dozen and a half moons and it was out of d-scan range of anything else. That'd be where the tower was. I warped to lucky 13 and quickly identified the moon with the tower - no probes needed.

These folks were serious about their defense but they had no bubbles up. With so many approach points from all the moons of this particular planet it would have been futile. They invested their ISK in more cannon, etc. After losing Space Ghost the original to an inadvertent de-cloak and very similar defenses, and seeing no sign of activity inside or outside the shields, I turned for home where I had a business to run.


Early the next day I probed the home system again. The previous night's wormhole was gone but two more took its place. There was also a Serpentis Lookout on scan. I'm looking to increase my credibility with the Federation so decided to take it out with Brutus.

I arrived at the gate to see a Heron sitting next to it. I activated the gate anyway and sure enough, it'd already been cleared out. That goes to show you, you got to get up pretty early but unfortunately my pre-capsuleer circadian rhythm is set much later than most other capsuleers. That is both good and bad. It's bad in that the juicy stuff is typically gone. It's good in that there aren't many traffic jams at the gates that late - if you know what I mean.

Having determined the Serpentis were no longer a threat, I swapped back into Space Ghost two and departed to make my R and D circuit. Four of my agents are in Gallente space where my standing is excellent. One of them, though at a Gallente station, is several jumps into Caldari space. This is becoming a bit of a problem. It seems that in the brashness of my youth I'd interfered in State business a few times. The Caldari have no sense of humor and hold grudges forever.

It also didn't help that this time, I got a job offer to retrieve some reports from Reblier. The two Rifters and the Thrasher sitting on the hi-sec side of the Reblier gate had no chance of catching Space Ghost II before he cloaked and sped away. The Federation was very pleased with the timeliness in which I completed their request. The Caldari State on the other hand seems to now have me on a watch list. Anytime I do anything for my own people they hold it against me.

I've been putting off correcting this issue for a while. Now I'd better start doing something about it. I'm just going to have to try and ingratiate myself to them. As such, I located one of their smaller mining corporations and got a low ranking agent to finally talk to me. Did I mention Caldari hold grudges forever?

He explained they had recently had a station taken out by an asteroid. Fortunately, the asteroid's core turned out to have ore valuable than the station or the employees they lost. And I thought the Amarr were cold hearted. I fetched Blue Bucket, my Hulk, and was soon looking at the wrecked station.

In no time I had the rare ore in my hold and not long after that a little more ISK in my wallet. Good will from the Caldari will be a lot harder to obtain. I have a feeling this is going to take awhile. You know, I can always find another R&D agent who's not in Caldari space. Jita on the other hand cannot move. This'll have to be done, even if working with the somber-faced Caldari could drain the fun out of just about anything.

Fly careful.

Friday, January 27, 2012

What do these have in common with Capsuleers?




Absolutely nothing: they are fantasy and...

(Sure would like to see this content incorporated in the upcoming web redesign. It still drips awesome sauce.)

Fly careful.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

And now, your weekly episode of...

He's been flying Internet spaceships for as long as I have. His current favorite is the Thrasher. He specializes in podding unfortunate capsuleers and he has a special taste for noobs. Who can it be?

Killer "sounds like a dog's name" Rasta!
Killer showed how skilled and daring he is by taking out a Badger in high-sec with a tier II fit Taranis. His 1368 more days of training than his opponent clinched his victory.

Yes, Killer is a veritable paragon of courage... not really. He wouldn't know courage if it slapped him silly. Courage could knock him out and he'd wake up in a puddle of his own piss asking, "What happened?" There wasn't even enough cargo in the Badger for him to even make a pretense at being a respectable pirate. He just had to grief the noob. What a jerk. Congratulations Killer, you've proven your testicles are sucked so far up you have to swallow to ejaculate.

Fly careful - ever one except the guy with the dog's name.

Monday, January 23, 2012

I must be blind to have missed this PI change.

World Shaping
The storage capacity on all Planetary Interaction storage pins (sic) has been increased from 5000m3 to 12000m3 so that it may better compete with the space port.
This is really no help at all in hi-sec where the real issue isn't storage but link distances gobbling up power. On one of my gas worlds, the average distance from my extractors to the space ports (placed as close as I can get them) is approximately 1200 kilometers. On a barren world, with side-by-side modules done the exact same way, the distance is approximately 30 kilometers. I've never bought the logic that just because the planet is larger the distance between modules must be proportionally larger. That's just bad logic but that's the way it works.

Changing from space ports to storage facilities won't help in hi-sec. Here is a comparison between that same gas giant with and without spaceports (one must be maintained for launches of course:)
All Space Ports
Only One Space Port
As you can see, the limiting factor in both instances is power grid, not capacitor, and certainly not storage capacity. 10k cubic meters per extractor is more than adequate. I've only come close to filling a space port on one hot spot - ever. Insufficient power is always the limiting factor.

So why has CCP made this change? If the storage facilities are limited by power just like space ports, and large radius planets still require a space port per extractor, why waste time on this seemingly inconsequential change?

Well, my answer to that question is CCP favors null-sec and wormhole carebearing over high-sec carebearing. To me it's as plain as the three letters in their company logo. They are the only ones who will benefit from this in any significant way. I have it on good authority (a friend who carebears in null-sec) that the problem there is that planets produce too much. If you don't move resources off every few hours or invest in lots and lots of storage you won't maximize profit. You may as well PI in hi-sec. Adding space ports to hold all the resources these planets produce is a 900,000 ISK per space port proposition. Having a storage facility to replace them saves 650,000 ISK apiece. That's substantial and goes straight to the operation's bottom line.

It's just one more example on how hi-sec industrialists get dumped on because we don't fit CCPs vision of what capsuleers should be. We are the bread and butter of their subscription base. After all, 67% of 5 million plus SP characters are in hi-sec by CCP Diagoras' own admission
Yet, because "there is no risk," we constantly get the short end of the stick. Well, so be it. I carry on regardless of griefers and I'll carry on regardless of CCP "World Shaping."

But what really has me curious, is why CCP feels it always has to make game play more appealing to those without the hi-sec carebear mindset. They are not the majority of the subscription base? It's like they're afraid the game will evaporate without those other types of players. Could it? Without them would EVE become so boring that no one would want to play? Hardly; we'd still have griefers, pirates and ninja salvagers to spice up out day. So why does CCP do it?

Fly Careful.

Friday, January 20, 2012

What carebears need isn't protection but empowerment.

So it is fairly obvious from the latest Blog Banter that no one wants to see PVP in EVE hampered. Even carebears feel it is a so inherent to the EVE experience that altering it would ruin the experience - even when it means so many of us suffer as clearly indicated by this graphic provided today.
There is still some support for "protecting" new players among carebears. Perhaps that will come to pass one day; perhaps not. Only time will tell on that score. If it does come to pass, sagging subscriptions will likely have more to do with it than any other motivation.

As for older players like me, I don't think we should have any protection. The pirates are correct. When I undock that is my acknowledgement that I accept the risk. But what is the risk to the griefer? What is the downside for him or her? It isn't the security status they'll lose. If that was a deterrent we wouldn't have griefers at all. Most of them love their low security status an wear it like the badge of dishonor it is.

I've long wished there was some risk to those who prey on hi-sec carebears; some consequence for their actions. Today I was reading through the Hulkageddon V thread on Failheap and saw this post by Xiang Jiao,
"For an alliance like the goons, they would pretty much have to completely forsake their relationship with the people who organize Incursions, and I have a funny feeling that most players will want to be able to run Incursions again if ever they should happen to leave their current alliance one day. For example, my current corp, being sometime griefers, would never dream about pissing in the Incursion swimming pool since we use it as our primary source of income. It's like the one and only rule we impose."
Now that's how a deterrent works! It's risky for griefers to go after Incursion fleets. The consequences make them think about their future. That's what needs to happen all the time. Currently there are no serious drawbacks to griefing hi-sec carebears. That is the nature of the problem.

As an Industrialist, I know exactly how I'd like to make griefers think twice. I'd not do any business with them. Currently I can't do that. When I put my goods on the market anyone can buy them - even people I don't like. I want control of my own business. It's my right.
Perhaps CCP could give Industrialists the ability to deny a sale to any capsuleer, corporation or alliance in their contact list with a bad standing. That would give us a tool to start blacklisting griefers. If enough hi-sec carebears blacklist griefers, the griefers might actually start feeling a little pain for their anti-social behavior. Then they would have some risk analysis to do themselves. In a perfect system, the 'no sell' flag would carry through to subsequent trades as well. That way griefers couldn't use alts to buy their gear for them. The griefers would have to deal with their own thieving ilk. Shouldn't pirates have to use a black market anyway? Isn't that part of the romanticism of being Pirate? What would the Spanish Main have been without Tortuga?
I don't think I'm asking for too much. I just want the right to refuse service to anyone I've got a gripe against. There is no need for daddy Concord to do anything. Just let me handle it. But I need tools to do that and only CCP can hand those out. What do you say CCP? You're all into war these days. How about letting us wage a little industrial war against those that pod us for nothing more than giggles? Let us control who we sell to. Think about how the Goons' ice interdiction could have turned out if the ganked ice miners started denying sales to the Goons and their associates? Give us a little love and let us fight back our way.

Fly carefully.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

CAN-RAG and JotW

As I've mentioned before, the ganking of noobs, especially those on 14-day trials, is bad for EVE. It discourages new players who might otherwise mature into life-long capsuleers. In the cutthroat business of massively multiplayer online games, every subscription counts! If we love our game, as many who are reading this profess to, it is up to us to do something about those who harm EVE by their anti-social behavior.

I'd like to introduce to you CAN-RAG:

Capsuleers for Assisting Noobs and Ridiculing Anti-social Gankers 

There are two elements of CAN-RAG.

Element #1:

We all know you shouldn't fly it if you can't afford to lose it. Nevertheless, there was a time in all out careers where we had no choice but to fly it. When you're poor, you use everything you've got to not be poor. New players can't afford to not take risks.

Many of us have no trouble generating ISK now that we've a few years under our belts. To that end, I ask you to consider what it means for a very young player to lose their best ship because they had no real choice but to fly it. It's a difficult decision to make and sometimes it ends badly. If it would not dent your wallet, why not replace the lost ship? Have them send you the kill mail if you like. Don't let new players down. Show them there are better people in this world than gankers.

Element #2:

If charitable contribution isn't your style, then ridicule the ganker. Put them on your black list. Refuse to do business with them if at all possible. Place them on your watch list and whenever you see them in local make sure everyone else knows there's a ganker around. Malign the ganker's mother for being a parental failure. It likely won't stop them, but it might just show a potential new subscriber that not all capsuleers are jerks. If it raises their spirit and encourages them to play on it's worth the time it takes by any measure of success.

To that end, starting today, I'm going to report a Jerk of the Week (JotW.) Today's jerk is...
Arquebie - kills baby miners because he's too afraid of capsuleers with more than 2 month's of skill training.
This brave slayer took out a Covetor in Abudban on January 19th with his Heavy Neutron Blaster II fit Brutix battle-cruiser. He's been a capsuleer for 1194 days. His fearsome opponent is only 68 days old. <sarcasm> That took some bravery and skill to pull off. </sarcasm> What a loser. Go fight someone that matches your own skills or don't you have the courage? You're a pathetic excuse for a capsuleer. Get a life!

Fly careful (everyone that is except Arquebie the baby miner killer.)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Blog Banter 32: Non-consensual Combat Restrictions - Pass

"A quick view of the Eve Online forums can always find someone complaining about being suicide ganked, whining about some scam they fell for or other such tears. With the Goons' Ice Interdiction claiming a vast amount of mining ships there were calls for an "opt out of PvP" option. 

Should this happen? Should people be able to opt-out of PvP in Eve Online. Should CONCORD prevent crime rather than just handing out justice after the event? Or do the hi-sec population already have too much protection from the scum and villainy that inhabits the game?"

This one is too juicy not to wade in on. I've already pointed out that new pilots should have some form of protection in my post You are Killing the Thing You Love One Noob at a Time. (It is my third most read post of all time in fact.) I have not changed my stance. There should be penalties for anti-social behavior.

Now, here is where I get confusing so hang on. There can never be any such thing as a no-PVP setting in EVE. That would ruin the game. As much as I hate the idea of noobs getting ganked, and even though I think such behavior is bad for the future of the game, turning EVE into WoW, or LoTR, or <insert and other MMO here> is out of the question.

I am a carebear. But I also have nearly 65 million SP and not even half of them are in carebear skills. I can fly any hi-sec Gallente ship I want. My Caldari skills aren't much further behind. All of my tanking certifications are at Improved or better. My offensive certificates are at Standard or better. That allows me to take care of myself if I so choose. I don't need a no-PVP setting. I am my no-PVP setting.

That only leaves those that can't take care of themselves like I can. I like Kirith's idea of an Isolation Matrix. However, it may be too difficult to implement and it will surely be gamed to death - everyone's death if my guess is correct. The gankers will quickly figure out how to turn it to their advantage.

Using True Sec per Rixx Javix is perhaps a more workable solution. It'd still be a pain to implement, monitor and control. And the gankers would still figure out how to use it to their advantage. They're crafty.

If there is one no-PVP option I'd agree with, I'd say it is to make noob systems like Cistuvaert no-loss zones. So long as a player is there, Concord won't allow their ship to blow up. Give all ships in these systems infinite shields. Let them shoot at each other all day long to know affect. Noobs could practice PVP at no risk. Miners could mine all day long at no risk. Making a few systems in each region like this wouldn't hurt the game in general. The undock button would still be PVP permission, it just wouldn't mean much there because no one would blow up.

But to be honest, I don't want any of those ideas implemented. I'd much rather discourage the anti-social behavior of what is really very few players than rewrite an entire game mechanic that is tied so deeply to the essence of the game. Player action is the ultimate solution to this. If players want to keep other players safe, then they will just have to grief the griefers. There are no rules that say you can't do this. There is just a general lack of will.

Hulkageddon V is coming up. I'm looking very much forward to Griefergeddon that goes along with it. I don't want anyone in SMERG to be able to "flip a switch" or "run to a safe house" when they have the tides turned on them. This is very much like their desire to keep carebears from running home to mamma at the first target lock. Of course, the Goons are backing this Hulkageddon. That ought to be interesting.

Fly careful.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Bias against certain play styles evident in latest summit notes.

The CSM Summit notes are finally out. You can find the entire report here. Go read it.

On the surface, everything sounds just fine. But under the surface there is an unacknowledged bias. They just don't like lone wolf players. Here is my proof.
"The end result should be the people who can coordinate the larger groups for larger sites should be rewarded properly for their time and effort."
The last I checked, we all pay the same amount to play this game whether we do it alone or in a large group. Shouldn't our play time be equally valued regardless of what we do or how we choose to play?

I can guarantee you that Blake over on K162space expends a lot of time and effort on running his mega-industry. He does it with consummate skill. Yet, his items sell for no more and no less than my items (same item and market hub of course.) He just produces a lot more than I do. But it seems to me the time I spend making things is no less valuable, is rewarded no less adequately, than his.

All rewards in EVE should be this way. Whether I choose to FC a fleet or to simply run Propaganda sites by myself, the time I spend should be no more or no less valuable than other players doing similar things. All that should matter is the effort put into it and that translates rather neatly into total time spent.

But then some say a Vanguard site is more risky and deserves more payout. Really? All those ships working together is more risky than me flying solo in a T1 battle-cruiser? That's incredibly subjective. It's a rationalization for the bias toward group play more than an established fact. The risk in larger sites is not the Sansha Nation. It's getting a bad FC. I know, I've been in incursion fleets too. Them's the breaks though. Don't fly the ship if you can't afford to lose it. A good FC shouldn't qualify anyone for extra compensation. Not losing your ship is perfectly adequate compensation.

All this said, I don't think the Incursion compensation system is broken. Those that spend the most time fighting Incursions do make more: greater effort nets greater profit. There do need to be some small changes though. That said, the wrong change is to base rewards on a perceived superiority of a particular playing style that is neither proven nor justified. I object to the use of words like "can coordinate" and "rewarded properly for their time and effort," as if their abilities were special or their time and effort any different than thousands of other players. It isn't, but some players would really like to think it is. Now why is that?

Fly careful.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Invention - a proposal.

"One might think that the money value of an invention constitutes its reward to the man who loves his work. But... I continue to find my greatest pleasure, and so my reward, in the work that precedes what the world calls success." - Thomas A. Edison 
Following my post concerning random chance invention (Invention - the mother of all mothers), I couldn't get off my mind the notion that there were really two separate topics in that post.

The first was obviously a slightly frustrated rant about how invention is handled in EVE. The second was a more general expression of a desire to see EVE industry get the same attention and love that pew-pew is getting right now.

Now, I was taught in a previous life that one should never complain about an issue unless they already have a suggested resolution to recommend. The second topic is not something that is strictly broken - only neglected. The first topic, invention, is broken and so it is recumbent upon me to offer a solution. 

It is something I've thought about in the past from time to time. This weekend I thought about it in earnest. To that end, I reacquainted myself with Thomas Edison. I hope you all know who he is. If not, here's a link to help you out. There's even a picture.
Thomas A. Edison
So why Edison? Well, first off, he invented a LOT of stuff. Secondly, this is how he described invention, 
"If I find 10,000 ways something won't work, I haven't failed. I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward."
That, I think, is the essence of true invention. He did not throw things together and hope they simply worked by some random convergence of the cosmos. He tried a specific thing and it either worked or didn't. Either result was important to his efforts. Failure increases the chance of success on the next attempt by showing you what not to do. The random chance of EVE's current invention mechanism completely negates that most important facet of the act of invention! That is why I hate it so.

What EVE needs is a method for inventing something that replicates that concept: that failure can be as important as success. Random chance must be eliminated from the equation. The inventor must be able to take concrete steps to bring ultimate success. No one can knows exactly what those steps are. Let me say that again because it's important. No one can know what those steps are. 

Well, no one can know until after someone invents a thing. So how does this work in EVE? Not easily I'm afraid to say. Unfortunately the genie is out of the bottle for all the current in-game items. They are all Henry Ford's automobiles at this point. They've already been invented and now all we do is manufacture them in any color people want so long as it's black... but I digress.

Back to invention. This idea will be easier to implement during a major expansion to the game. There has already been some conjecture about a potential expansion by Rixx Javix. In his blog, he mentions T3 frigates. I'd like to use that - so I will. If T3 frigates were to happen, it would be an excellent place to revamp invention.

Ask yourself, "How do I get T3 frigates from T2 frigates?" You invent them! You have to spend time tweaking T2 frigates in new and imaginative ways. If you do it right, you get a T3 frigate for your effort! If you do it wrong, you get a pile of junk that says not to do that again. But you get one step closer to success! This is the nature of invention. You fail 10,000 times but you learn something about WHY you failed. Then you try again, taking your new knowledge into account, and hopefully succeed. It's not for the faint of heart.

And what sort of mechanic does EVE need to make this happen? Well, we already know what material a T2 frigate requires for production. We start from there. A check-box on the setup screen, where we select the BPC to use, would let the manufacturer move into invention mode. Extra slots would open on the bill of material. The number of slots would be the only indication of what is needed. Three slots mean three things must be added. The inventor starts adding items in an attempt to invent the T3 frigate. The added items must be logical. If the T3 frigate is to have better armor, then more Crystalline Carbonide Armor Plate is needed. Higher power needs more Fusion Reactor Units. More shields require more Pulse Shield Emitters and so forth. The actual requirements need to be uniquely calculated for the BPC once it's put into invention mode: more on that in a bit.

If the inventor guesses wrong, all T2 frigate components are lost but not the BPC. In a kind universe a character with, say, Scrapmetal Processing could retrieve most of the raw minerals but that will not recoup the total loss as any recycling specialist knows. There should always be significant risk to attempting invention. It must take perseverance, the scientific method (as in keeping track of your outcomes) and ISK to be a successful inventor. It is not for the weekend tinkerer. Tinkerers build rigs, not entire integrated combat platforms: 'nuf said.

In fact, even when invention does succeed, all the inventor gets is a T3 frigate - one (1) T3 frigate. Just because you succeed in invention doesn't mean you can automatically repeat the success. You can either recoup your expenses then and there by selling your T3 frigate. Or, you can try and reverse engineer it. Even that should not be pure chance though chance will be a part of that particular equation. I know how a fine Swiss watch is made. I know what makes it tick - pardon the pun. I can't make one. I'd have to disassemble hundreds (thousands?) of expensive Swiss watches to even have a chance.

Therefore, the more T3 frigates you have on hand, the greater your chance of understanding all the engineering needed to create a BPO. That's right, a BPO. That should be the ultimate goal of invention. Only those that take the risk with the isk get the prize. There should never be a gimme (I'm sorry, the official EVE term is lottery I believe but that was before my time) for that sort of thing. An inventor decides how many T3 frigates to ruin when s/he sets up the attempt. The details of that do not belong in this post though.

That takes me back to the sentence above concerning uniquely calculated invention requirements for each BPC. If there is any randomness in invention, it should be in not knowing what precisely will bring success on any given attempt. Thomas Edison tried many, many different filaments in his experiments. Many of them glowed, but not for long. They were in fact successes if the intent was to generate light. Those count. Requiring slightly different recipes for each T2 BPC insures that invention remains an experiment in EVE. That it does not become cookie-cutter. Cookie-cutter was the bread and butter of Henry Ford but is the antithesis of invention. I'll concede a small about of "randomness with a purpose" to negate it. That insures invention and production remain distinctly different jobs - as they should be.

So that's my proposal. Would it work? You tell me.

Fly careful.

Friday, January 13, 2012

4th Quarter Financials for MABMM

And now, a post that is of no interest to anyone other than myself. Without further adieu, here are the 4th quarter financials for Mabrick Mining and Manufacturing (MABMM.)

Next time I'll try and get a better font on the report. That'll certainly be easier on the old eyes.

The good news is that the final number is positive. Go team! What is not evident is that I don't have enough ISK involved in making more ISK. Money on the sideline is valueless. Expect to see more ISKies hit the playing field in the coming year. Those plans are already in motion.

I also want to remind myself that the actual bottom line could have been twice this. However, there is a somewhat expensive donation not in evidence on this balance sheet. Enough said about that. *wink* Not bad, I think, for a single man operation who spends about an hour a day online.

Fly careful.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Invention - the mother of all mothers.

Two years ago I embarked on a little venture in small ship manufacturing. I bought a couple of Imicus BPOs and delved into the not so fine art of invention. At the time, it was profitable. I could get a 40% profit margin out of the Helios I built, even considering that the BPCs I got from the copies I made of the un-researched BPOs were pure crap. Space Ghost, whom I lost recently, was one of these ships.

Then the market swung and Helios prices plummeted. The margins evaporated. I ceased production and moved on to other ventures. It became more profitable to sell the datacores needed for invention than to actually try and invent anything.

But that left me with a whole lot of Imicus BPCs. At the New Year, I decided to clear them out. There is no market for Imicus BPCs so I decided to invent them away. These past two weeks have reminded my why I didn't mind giving up T2 production in the first place.

Invention Jobs January 2012
Four successes in eighteen attempts. That is truly disgusting. It took 36 Gallentean Starship Engineering and 36 Mechanical Engineering data cores total to make those attempts. At current average sell prices in Essence I could have made 13 million ISK from those datacores. It's true I can make more than that building the four Helios and selling them. Prices have climbed again and the margins are back to where they were. But invention still feels like self-flagellation.

And there is a point to this whine. Industry should be challenging but not in the stupid random way it is now. Decisions should lead to outcomes - good or bad. Just like CEOs who make good decisions bring profit to their companies, industrialist's need to know their good decisions will bring more profit to them. It shouldn't be left to disgustingly pathetic random chance.

To start, I'd like to see an invention system that exhibits more in common with RL. For instance, more invention jobs should succeed the longer you try them. The odds of success should increase the more experience you gain at doing it - just like in real life. Book training can account for some of this but "on the job training" should also be valid. Eventually, with enough "on the job training," practically every job should succeed for simple things and a marked increase in success should be seen for more complicated things.

This would be a small start in correcting some of the flaws with the current economic system. Just as long lamented spaceship flaws need corrected, so do long lamented industrial flaws. With all the love CCP is giving to spaceships these days, I hope they don't forget industry. The entire production system needs an overhaul. What's worse, it seems CCP only sees it in terms of ISK faucets these days. Industry has become a way of exercising monetary policy. This has made changes to industry seem arbitrary and even capricious at times. It seriously lessens game play value for many capsuleers.

Industrialist players deserve to have their game experience improved as much as pirates and PvPers. Those groups may not understand how we can view industrialism as fun but that's their shortcoming. I derive great satisfaction in knowing the things I build make their game possible. Industrialists put in long hours contributing to the EVE community. Without them there would be no super-cap fleets to bemoan, no T3 battle-cruisers to enjoy, and no player owned customs offices to bash. CCP allows these things, but industrialists build them! In short, there would be no EVE as we know it without industrialists. Give industrialist gaming a little more love would you?

Fly careful.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A better Brutix Incursion beacon runner.

Back in August I was playing around with inexpensive ships that could run Incursion beacon sites solo. I was also playing around with making videos, just to see how it was done. This was the result.

To be honest, I was never all that thrilled with the Brutix fit I came up with. It lacked range and the speed to get into range. The little Sansha frigates just kited the hell out of it. It just took too many compromises to make it work. CAP boosters are a pain in the arse. Rails lack the punch of blasters. The MWD to get into range was just too resource intensive. They all combined for a less than satisfactory thump-session. And let's face it, after a long day of seeing prices climb uncontrollably and profit margins fall precipitously, even and industrialist carebear just wants to thump something.

To that end, I finally got around to reworking my beacon thumping Brutix fit. Without further delay, here he is (don't worry, video was a passing curiosity for me:

[Brutix, Brutus Beacon III]

7x Heavy Ion Blaster II (Null M)

Y-S8 Hydrocarbon Afterburners
Sensor Booster II
2x Tracking Computer II (Optimal Range)

Damage Control II
Medium Armor Repairer II
2x Energized Adaptive Nano Membrane II
Energized Reactive Membrane II

Medium Hybrid Burst Aerator I
Medium Hybrid Metastasis Adjuster I
Medium Hybrid Locus Coordinator I

5x Warrior I
5x Warrior I

[Statistics - Mabrick]

Effective HP: 44,967 (Eve: 41,186)
Tank Ability: 144.27 DPS
Damage Profile - <Omni-Damage> (EM: 25.00%, Ex: 25.00%, Ki: 25.00%, Th: 25.00%)
Shield Resists - EM: 12.50%, Ex: 56.25%, Ki: 47.50%, Th: 30.00%
Armor Resists - EM: 74.44%, Ex: 71.26%, Ki: 66.77%, Th: 66.77%

Capacitor (Lasts 2m 51s)

Volley Damage: 1,182.93
DPS: 383.92
Thanks to Crucible, I was able to drop that cursed CAP booster. I was able to get all seven turrets filled with Heavy Ion Blaster IIs even. Crucible also allowed me to replace the webifier (which was only marginally effective because it too was range limited) and fit two tracking computers with optimal range scripts instead. Throw in Null and it stops the kiting - dead. 

This ship can hit out to 20km albeit with minimal damage, but it has its intended effect. The Sansha frigates stay between 11km and 16km where Brutus ripped them apart. Typical damage was nearly 175 but went as high as 450 depending on transverse. The fit is CAP stable with the repper off so you can shoot all day long. The only time I had to pulse the repper was when the Raa Thalamus waded into the fray on the final wave.

So there you have it. I went through five beacons straight with this fit before calling the test successful. The thumping I gave out was quite satisfying. In fact, the Ysiette Incursion has been going on so long the Beacon sites were all mine - everyone else was off in the big fleets. It was very relaxing. The only down side was that there is no way to recoup the cost of the Null ammo it takes to stop the kiting running just beacon sites. However, the ISK spent was well worth the stress reduction gained.

Fly careful.

(P.S: Just because I think CCP favors Incursion runners economically doesn't mean Incursions aren't fun. Keep it coming CCP!)

Friday, January 6, 2012

CCP is Playing Favorites when it Comes to Incursions

Ripard Teg over on Jester's Trek has been running a series of posts on Incursions. The first post, Caravan of the Heavens, included some very astute observations and recommendation to change how Incursions work in hi-sec. I neither agree nor disagree with his observations or his proposal. They stand on their own.

However, the posts (and the responses) have stirred up in me a desire to put something on the table that has been bothering me since Crucible went live. I almost took it personally, so have waited a good amount of time before spouting off. Still, I may not be objective enough yet but here goes anyway.

We all know that there can only be so much money in an economy. Economies with more money supply than demand experience currency devaluation and hyperinflation. Economies with less money than demand suffer stagnation. I am sure there are others who know more about this than I so I'll leave the details to them. I do know that all the world banks on the planet spend most (all?) of their time making sure the amount of currency in the system is neither too little or too much. The latest buzzword for this is Quantitative Easing but there are many other examples.

In EVE Online, CCP is the Federal Reserve. Whenever they talk about ISK faucets, they are talking about making money. Make too much ISK and prices skyrocket. Players become unhappy as rising water drowns everyone. Too little money and players walk away for lack of reward. CCP knows this so they constantly strive to turn faucets off and on to control the amount of ISK in the EVE economy.

Now to the point of my particular dissatisfaction. CCP implemented in Crucible a mechanism for turning off an ISK faucet in hi-sec. They began imposing a so-called 10% tax on all PI goods moving from orbit. In reality, there has been plenty of evidence that this is really a 250% increase (and worse, see my post The True Expense of PI Tax Rates) in the costs associated with moving PI resources to and from orbit.

Why did they do this? Well, they said hi-sec PI made too much money at no risk. I don't dispute that there is little risk to hi-sec PI. The occasional griefer is the only thing to worry about and that's rare. Was it too much money? My PI line makes six to seven million ISK a day for me so long as I log in every day to keep it going. That's about 2.5 billion ISK a year in gross profits. Costs associated with it (moving extractors, space ports, launch fees, etc.) reduce that amount of course. Still, 1 billion ISK a year is nothing to sneeze at. So, I guess I don't really disagree with it being a lot of risk free ISK.

But their stated reason for doing it smells like rotten Icelandic cod!

If CCP was worried about too much risk free ISK in EVE, why didn't they also tamp down Incursion payouts? It injects far more currency into the EVE economy than hi-sec PI. I've read plenty to indicate that it's by far the best money making venture in hi-sec EVE. Millions (billions?) of ISK get created every hour an Incursion runs. Multiple Incursions run at the same time.There is no risk (unless you're stupid.) I know, I've been in several incursion fleets. Not a ship was lost in any of them. That's pretty risk free if you ask me. I wouldn't be surprised if the odds of losing a ship in an Incursion are about equivalent to being ganked while running PI.

Understanding that, the only answer I can come up with is that CCP is playing favorites. Incursions are extremely popular. CCP would rather piss off a bunch of risk adverse hi-sec carebears than Incursion runners. CCP knows we'll just roll over and take it. They are correct of course, we will. It even makes a certain amount of business sense and I won't hold it against them.

What I do hold against them is lying about it to our face and expecting us to believe it. They must think we're too stupid to know when we're being discriminated against (for good reason or no.) And hasn't that been the problem with CCP all along? They say they value their players, but I'm not sure they've ever really internalized that we aren't young and dumb WoW players who have no RL experience. They need to stop looking at EVE players that way. Be honest with us. Tell us you're turning off our favorite ISK faucet and move on. I can take it. You already know I won't quit. What do you have to lose CCP, the perception that you can't communicate with your player base? That you are dishonest with them?

Now, don't get me wrong. Since the debacle that was Incarna, CCP has made great strides to start treating it's players as the intelligence, middle-of-life people that we are. But the disease is not cured. Some symptoms, like this PI discrimination, still exist. Good work CCP on a good start, but don't stop until the disease is completely cured. You're not there yet.

Fly careful.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Space Ghost is for real.

After attending to PI business last night I decided to undock Space Ghost, my Helios, for a scan of the system. I got two blips on the results. That was just right. I had about 30 minutes until some invention jobs became ready for retrieval.

The first site I scanned down was a Serpentis radar site. There was only one data cache and it proved to be nothing of note.

I hoped the second site was a better use of my time. I quickly had a K162 scanned down. As usual, I used pjharvey's guide on wormholes to try and identify it. I decided it was a W2.

What do you know, I was right! It was a small system but a quick look at the six (6) customs offices showed at least 3 corporations in the system. Yeah, I love that new feature. There may be no local, but between corporation IDs on customs offices, DOTLAN and EVEWho I get a fairly good idea of who I'm dealing with when I enter a wormhole. I decided I'd err on the side of caution this time.

D-scan told me there were 2 towers and an Orca in system. There was only one planet out of D-scan range of most of the rest of the system so I started there of course. I warped to the third moon of the system to find it unoccupied.  That meant the other two had to have the towers. I warped to moon #1.

I almost hit a warp disruption bubble. I didn't de-cloak so I don't think I actually hit it. Still, I vectored off and but some distance between me and the bubble. 

It took some time to get a clearer perspective.

It turned out to be two bubbles. On the other side was a Caldari tower. To one side was another bubble. I didn't see any other bubbles but I'd seen enough. The Orca wasn't at this tower. I decided to check out the other tower.

I landed over 200km from the Minmatar tower. There were no bubbles in site so I warped into visual range.

It's a nice setup, obviously geared for pills and PI. The Orca was also there but no capsuleers in sight. Of course, they could have been cloaked, just as I was. I decided I'd seen enough and started to head for home. That's when one of the artillery batteries alpha-obliterated Space Ghost.
  Listener: Mabrick
  Session Started: 2012.01.05 05:22:30
[ 2012.01.05 05:22:30 ] (combat) <color=0xffbb6600>Small Artillery Battery belonging to Wormhole Industries places an excellent hit on you, inflicting 1129.9 damage.
Space Ghost is for real a ghost now. As I warped my pod back to the wormhole to return home, I tried to figure you what happened. There were no ships around. There were no objects to de-cloak me. All I can figure is that I inadvertently hit a command on my ship's console (read user-keyboard error) and de-cloaked my ship by accident. How stupid is that? No, don't answer that! I already know.


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

It says a lot about EVE Online.

Using the URL given on Eve-fail, my account statistics are...

<createDate>2008-03-23 20:25:00</createDate><logonCount>1481</logonCount><logonMinutes>104158</logonMinutes>

That calculates to just under 1736 total hours of EVE Online over the course of 3 years, 9 months, 1 week, and 5 days. I've spent an average of 70 minutes online per session.

The only thing of note here is that there have only been a total of 1382 days since my capsuleer career began. There were 99 days where I logged in twice. No, that's not completely true. There were a few (not many) days when I could not log in at all for various reasons. Still, I find it interesting that I've devoted some measure of almost every day of my life to playing EVE Online.

In the same amount of time, I've probably slept around 12,000 hours (I am adamant about 8 hours sleep a night.) I know I've spent a good deal more than that amount of time working (especially the first half of last year.)  I've had half a dozen or so week-long vacations. There have been holidays and sick days (but not too many of the latter I'm happy to say.) I exercise an hour a day four or five days a week. I eat dinner at the table with my better half almost every night. I've moved twice. I've had two new computers.

Through all of this I've spent, on average, over an hour of my available time at least once a day flying Internet space ships. The one thing there has not been is time spent playing other games.

I do not think I am all that uncommon among EVE players; quite the contrary. Put I'm still there day after day and year after year.

That says a lot about this game doesn't it?

Fly careful.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

In through the Out Door

There was only one signal returned by my probes tonight. It was quickly obvious as I scanned it down that it was a wormhole. They have a slippery feel as the probes pentangulate on them. You know what I mean. It's like trying to hold a fish: squeeze too hard and the fish pops right out of your hands. Good thing I've a light touch. I quickly located the wormhole. It was an exit.
 Exits are quite uninformative. I've heard of some wormhole vets who can tell what's on the other side by staring at the squiggly colors deep in the heart of the vortex. I'm not one of them. Their's only one way for me to really know whats on the other side. I took the plunge and was glad I did. Turned out this led to a Class II system with an anomaly I'd never seen before.
Magnetar systems are stunningly beautiful! Wouldn't you agree? This was another first for me. I warped to a nearby moon and looked out the view-port until prudence made be start to look for the system's occupants. I knew a place so lovely would not be unoccupied. It didn't take me long using the directional scanner to locate the moon the local's POS orbited.
They took the moon with the loveliest view - of course. I don't blame them. They have a rather nice little setup.
I couldn't help but notice that it was a little sparse though. The defenses were limited and the station itself rather small. I got the impression this was a relatively new occupation. I decided to investigate the owners a bit more.
Black River Bay looks like they've had a string of bad luck lately. They recently left Tolocan United. There they seemed to do okay. They participated in a wormhole POS bash in August. I'm not sure why they left. Perhaps they just wanted a wormhole of their own. Perhaps they've found it. I turned back toward the wormhole and left them to it.

Fly Careful.