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Friday, August 31, 2012

Here's more Dust in your Eyes (Part 2)

Yesterday I started a post based on an article a few days ago on PC Games N. It quickly grew into a monster sized post so I cleaved it in two with my +5 Sword of Editing. Wait, that's Fantasy Role Playing. You're the Science Fiction Role Playing crowd. My bad. Does this help?
Monster Sized Post
So, back to my thoughts on what was said by CCP Soundwave in the article. I really don't care how great Dust 514 is going to be. I don't own a PlayStation, I don't plan on owning a PlayStation and therefore CCP can go fish - which in Iceland is easy so no harm, no foul.

The next quote from the article that made me go (O.O) is this one,
“In an ideal world,” says Kristoffer, “both games will be very closely related and relying on each other. Who builds what with which blueprint though, we can’t really say yet.”
As an industrialist, this makes my heart go pitter patter. I think to myself, these guys play on consoles. They play a FTP game which is widely understood to really mean PTW. They EXPECT to have to pay real money to avoid spending hours upon hours earning the ISK through missions. They may be like Eve Online plexers on steroids.

Eve plexers are those (possibly) rare Eve Players who shun all forms of ISK earning and pay for their exploded ships with plex. They'd rather dish out what's in their RL wallet than "waste" their valuable playing time mining, etc. I'm starting to understand this desire to just play the shooting-other-people-in-the-face game and to hell with the boring stuff. I've been victim of it enough (shot in the face and bored to tears, though not at the same time) I'm starting to believe I have Stockholm Syndrome. I refuse to plex though!

Anyway, with all these prospective new customers coming into the game, I was very happy to see we'd have the opportunity to make and sell things to them. In my better flights of fancy, I picture myself as Captain Malcom Reynolds of the transport Firefly earning my living in the sky. Then reality reasserts itself. In actuality, I won't ever land on a planet (see PlayStation comments above.) However, there will be a handy-dandy space elevator I can use to get my wares to and from the service. Other's have already posted that so I'll skip the graphic. It sure is pretty though.

Now don't forget, this is going to work both ways. Since it seems it will, how do you think Dust players will be able to manufacture Eve stuff? Well, that's probably not a difficult question to answer.
“DUST players will own districts on planets,” says Kristoffer. “If you own the solar system, you will obviously have an interest in making sure the planets there swear fealty to you.”
If they own districts on the planets, do they not also own all of that planet's PI? We've all thought that Dust players will just be our loyal minions allowing us to reap all the PI profit after they take the planet. We all thought we were getting this,
That's probably somewhat naive don't you think? What we are more likely to get is this,
I doubt seriously that these Dust players will for one moment stand around and be anyone's minion. And it seems CCP realizes this. They are willing to deal them a very powerful hand in this game. All that remains to be seen is how they play that hand. If they are anything like Eve Online players, we know how that's going work out now don't we? I'm laughing with you, not at you.

Now that that's settled, what are the cards in the hand CCP is dealing Dust players? If occupation equals ownership, they will own all the structure manufacturing resources needed for capsuleers to build a POS or POCO. Right now, anyone can setup Wetware Mainframe production on any planet that supports it. When Dust 514 kicks off for real, faction low-sec and all of null-sec will get dealt to the console gamers. Start getting your plans in order folks, unless you're a high-sec industrialist or in a WH, you'll have to deal with an entire new set of carebears to play your internet spaceship game.
And you won't really have any leverage over them. They have no ships for you to blow up. You could just bomb them from orbit. I doubt that'd change the equation. You can fight them on their own terms and take the planet from them. But then when would you have any time to play internet spaceships? You could hire your own group of mercenaries to deal with them. But then what if the new group does what the old group did to you. Treachery's a bitch!

So you think, we'll just camp their space elevator or take the POS it feeds and then they'll have to capitulate to our demands. Think again. Didn't we already establish that these folks expect to pay real money to win their game? Take a look at this review from the Chicago Tribune from yesterday. Skip to the second to the last paragraph. The reviewer spent $10 while playing the beta for gods sake! These Dusters don't actually have to produce anything. They can just buy what they want. You really, really won't have any leverage on them unless CCP designs it into the game. So far, I've not read anything about that.

Fortunately for you someone will have to transport the troops your your planets if you're in null-sec. You can interdict that. the only thing you're likely to face is treachery. Those in faction low-sec have a serious problem. The "militia" will take troops out to faction planets (see part 1.) I don't think they'll be interdict enabled. Does that mean rogue Dusters can infiltrate Faction War zone planets? Gods, I hope so!! That would be a huge pot stirring stick. It's just what Eve Online needs if the order of the day is all war, all the time. I'm starting to have visions of Arrakeen freedom fighters bringing the Space Guild to it's shriveled knees. "He who can destroy a thing, controls a thing."

There is only one thing that leads me to believe that perhaps there will be some leverage built into the Eve-Dust interaction. Towards the end of the article came this statement,
But what you really want to know is “how can I exploit these people”? “In terms of screwing people over,” says Kristoffer, “I’d prefer if the game offered equal opportunity of over-screwing. In practical terms, there needs to be an opportunity for both sides to shoot each other of course and in meta terms, there needs to be the ability to create and break deals. What happens if your guys on the ground throw the match for example? We’ll probably find out fairly quickly.
"Equal opportunity of over-screwing" is a wonderful mangling of a perfectly good idiom. In more words, what they can do to us, we also must be able to do to them. This might give me hope except that in this new Dunesque landscape, I cannot forget the counsel of the Reverend Mother, "Hope clouds observation." I will definitely take a wait and see attitude on this over-screwing concept.

And as for finding things out quickly, we'll also find out quickly if all my thoughts on this matter are full of crap. Regardless, I think there is one thing on which we can agree. Once Dust 514 is integrated into Tranquility, the Eve Online personal dynamic as we know it will end. There will be a whole new bunch of people who will make their wants and desires felt on all of us. I don't think Dust 514 will fail. My gut tells me it will initially be very successful. With that success, evolution will be forced upon Eve Online. Power blocs will change. Eve will become more real. And I will keep logging in, if for no other reason than to see how it all plays out.

Fly Careful

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Here's more Dust in your Eyes (Part 1)

There was an article a few days ago on PC Games N. You should go read it. It says more about how Eve Online will work post integration than anything else I've read to date. I'm going to highlight a few of the quotes in their entirety. Then I'm going to ponder publicly on how it might affect our beloved game. Now's a good time to stop reading this if you aren't interested in my opinion.

So, you've decided to continue. Don't say I didn't warn you. This is part one of a two part post. It got so long I had to break it apart. Since you've decided to continue, that's good news for you. You get two this week for the price of one!

Here's the first quote that got my attention,
“Our approach is going to be that DUST players are going to take on specific goals for an alliance,” says Kristoffer, “rather than win wars while you sleep. So if you’re trying to take a system and a reinforcement timer is inconvenient, your foot-soldiers can go in and try and adjust it. Maybe you can even send them in to disable a solar system’s local chat (and therefore intel) for a short period, the opportunities are endless. At the end of the day, they should provide tools for big alliances to fix specific problems. Think of them as a Special Forces team that any alliance would benefit from having, by virtue of being the scalpel that supplements the chainsaw in space.”
The emphasis is mine. The quote is from Kristoffer Touborg (CCP Soundwave.) I consider him a resident expert on Eve Online visions. Don't you? Marcus Andrews also participated in the interview according to the author.

One of the things I've read other bloggers complain about revolves around POS bashes. Some say they don't get enough time. Other's say they have too much time and therefor it becomes a waste of time. To be certain, no one is terribly happy with how it works now. But imagine if all those default timers got turned into dynamic timers controlled by some grunt with a gun. Neither side could accurately predict how long a POS bash would take. The entire operation becomes much more complicated.

The implication for the Eve player is an interesting one to a carebear who already likes spreadsheets. The days of just jumping in a ship and eliminating another's control of a system may be a thing of the past. These operations will need more planning than that. Fleets will need to be available at any time depending on who gets the upper hand in the "ground fight." When, where and how fleets are committed to the action will probably have much more bearing on the outcome than it currently does. Who knows, this may even encourage the end of blob warfare as it's become known. I'll go on the record as being in favor of any change in fleet tactics and strategy that morph it from a crude bludgeon to a surgical scalpel. The game experience overall doesn't benefit much from the bludgeon approach. A well thought out and strategically/tactically superior fleet should always have the better chance of winning. That's the pay off for being smart about it.

The second comment in the above quote concerns the disabling of local chat. That would be a phenomenal enhancement to the game! Who's watched Firefly? How close did they have to get to another ship just to know it was there? Here's a hint,
Damn close!
They had to be within thousands of meters. That is the nature of space. It's ginormous. It is one thing I am actually enjoying the hell out of in WH space myself. Without special scanners and enhanced technology, there is no way to really know what is out there. Hell, it wasn't until recently we had any chance of detecting near Earth asteroids. The local listing in Eve Online solar systems has long been a reality breaker for me. Taking out local makes Eve more real and that's a good thing.

Giving Eve players the chance to kill local is awesome. It adds another layer of strategic thinking to all operations. It sets the stage for real world like heroics to save the day. For example, I'll use the Battle of Midway in World War II. The Japanese fleet used a storm front to mask their approach. That wasn't necessarily genius but it was an excellent tactic. You can't sink a ship if you don't know it's there. The U.S. Navy knew this was a problem. They devised a tactic to cancel out the advantage the Japanese had. They sent "long range" Catalina flying boats out from Midway Island in a half circle search pattern to locate the Japanese fleet. These planes were not fighters or even bombers. They were unarmed cargo planes re-purposed to a new role.
How would you like to take the Eve equivalent of that out to find a hot drop? Guess what, it worked. That's the sort of thing Eve Online needs. The ability for players to affect the outcome with thoughtful application of resources and sheer guts rather than numbers. Again, it makes Eve more real.

So the article talks about some specifics on how Eve and Dust players will interact. It's all very interesting but  I'm mainly concerned about how Eve will change because of this. You can read other blogs about the mechanics. Look to the right side of this blog and you'll see some good ones.

The next quote that got my attention was this,
However, having DUST members as part of your corp could, at some stage of the game’s development, mean added logistical concerns, like troop transportation: “For Faction Warfare, you won’t need to [ferry DUST players to planets for fights],” says Kristoffer, “as we assume the militias take responsibility for moving the troops around. For the 0.0 integration, where we move away from a kind of loose coalition structure and into very firm and solid social communities, it’s something we’ve been talking about for a long time but haven’t entirely decided how to approach yet.”
I have to agree with the author's conclusion in the first sentence. Adding troop transportation fits in nicely with the "make Eve more real" mantra I've been chanting. Going back to World War II analogy, this would mean the attacker would have to mount a beach assault with their marines. How awesome would it be to see a D-day like fleet arrayed around a moon's planet?
And the fleet would have to stay there to prevent a counter landing. I wonder if Eve players are up for 24/7 operations?

It also opens the doors for more clandestine types of assaults. Back to World War II, remember the Guns of Navarone? That book was totally fictitious BTW. However, who wouldn't like to preface an assault with such an operation? Compromise the other guy's defenses before the fleet even arrives? Forget about taking years to gain peoples trust and then stabbing them in the back like an amoral thief in the night just to bring their defenses down around them. No one likes Doctor Yueh. He was a despicable yet tragic weakling who was himself betrayed and murdered by those to whom he'd sold out. That is not someone I would ever emulate. I'd rather be captain Keith Mallory than the pitiful Doctor Yueh.[1] These possible changes to Eve allow just that.

Tomorrow I will finish my thoughts on this article and it's implications for Eve Online. Until then...

Fly Careful

[1] Any resemblance to any person real or imagined is purely coincidental.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Mabrick's KotW

... or is it?

The night before last I'd had enough of 17% tax rates. The C3 HBHI owns has more InterBus owned orbital stations than HBHI owned orbital stations. It's a damn annoyance to be sure. Last night Tur and I decided to start doing something about it. In a WH that's risky, but you have to do what you have to do.

The tough part is that Interbus Customs Offices have 10,000,000 shields, 2,500,000 armor and 2,000,000 structure. I don't think I really appreciated how much that was until we started getting down to the business of blowing one up.

Tur was in a Typhoon Fleet Issue and I was in my blaster fit Dominix. It might not be able to get close enough to kill sleepers, but it has no trouble hitting customs offices. Tur was using Warden sentry drones as well. I had out a flight of Ogre Is. After about 30 minutes, Strigon Leader, our fleet commander, joined us in a Machariel with 800 artys and more sentry drones.

Two and a half grueling hours later we were greeted with a beautiful explosion.
I even got Final Blow and Top Damage! Go me! <Sarcasm> It only took about 10,000 rounds of ammo. </Sarcasm>
If this is what a POS bash is like, I'll leave that to Goonswarm. They at least have the numbers to make quick work of it. And to think they call mining a mind numbing and boring past time. Good grief!

Fly careful.

Monday, August 27, 2012

BB39: Home

It's been a while since I participated in a blog banter. It seems I got caught up in some other stuff but I'm through with that for the time being. The latest blog banter posted over on Freebooted asks,
"Some say a man's home is his castle. For others it is wherever they lay their hat. The concept is just as nebulous in the New Eden sandbox.  
In EVE Online, what does the concept of "home" mean to you?"
Before Saturday night I would have said Aporulie. That is where I've spent the vast majority of my time as a capsuleer in New Eden. It is where I started Mabrick Mining and Manufacturing. Before that I would have said Cistuvaert. That is where I started life as a capsuleer. That's where the connections up my spine were implanted. Both answers would have been wrong. Home is not where your castle is.

There have been times both long and short I've docked my ships in various other locations. I've hung my hat in Aidart, Jufvitte, Yona and Oursulaert. These were for business reasons except for the last location. That was where I went to await the Goonswarm blob that promised to thrash me for being insolent. It is also wrong to consider those locations home. No place is home simply because that's where business took me.

This place too is perhaps one of those. I am currently in a hole with TurAmarth and the rest of HBHI and their select group of friends. It is not a permanent arrangement as has been written of by both he and I. So even though I've brought a small fleet of my own, this really is a hat hanging arrangement. It should not be home to me - and as a place it is not.

And that's the crux of the confusion isn't it? The nebulousness of the concept isn't rooted in the question of whether the location is intended as permanent or temporary lodging. It has only been our evolution that has caused us to consider home like that. After all, the cave of our ancient, ancient forebearers was dry and warm. It was safe. It was the one place that, after a long day (or days) of hunting dangerous beasts in the unforgiving wilds, they could finally relax, lower their guard somewhat and enjoy life a little. Their cave was the center of their 20 square kilometer universe. And home was there. But the cave was not home. It only represented home in their minds.

That is our confusion. This is as true today as it was tens of thousands of years ago. Last Saturday night brought the fact... home to me - in a very personal way.

It started in the early evening when I scanned down the day's static connection to low-sec. It was one of those good news/bad news connections. The good news was that our K162 was only six jumps from Jita. The bad news was the K162 was in Nisuwa and we had to travel through Kedama and Tama to get to Jita. This is why I brought a Viator blockade runner and not an Iteron Mark anything. I needed some supplies and left to get them.

One run is typically uneventful. Pirates don't know you're coming and they aren't ready for you. The problem started when Tur informed me we needed another run. He'd made one already too so this would be a third run. The night we lost my first Dominix was still fresh on my mind as I departed for our static again. This is what I do after all, I kept telling myself.

My first jump from Nisuwa to Kedama went without a problem. There was no one on the Kedama side of the gate so I warped under cloak to the Tama gate. As I landed on the gate there appeared to be a gate camp of Merlins and Thrashers - an alpha fleet I was informed on comms.

I jumped on landing as is best practice (in my book) and immediately warped cloaked for the Nourvukaike gate. As I landed on that gate, the last thing I saw as I jumped was a Thrasher from the camp following me. I wasted no time getting docked up in Jita IV.

That's when the true definition of home began to trickle into my brain. As I sat in Jita IV with a full load of needed cargo, I pondered just waiting for the next day's static and hoping it would not be a 30 jump haul (it would have been BTW.) Then a good friend of HBHI, Sov for short, joined voice comms.

What's up?" he asked.

"Stuck in Jita," I replied. The situation was quickly related to him.

"Tur, do you have an armor 'cane?" he asked. Things began to change quickly after that. Sov is a very experienced FC I'm told. I can believe it now.

Soon I was sitting cloaked at a safe in Nourvukaike aligned on the Tama gate and waiting for my fleet to make the route to our K162 safe. When all three gates were confirmed clear (the camp had cleared out,) Sov ordered me to proceed through the Tama gate and immediately warp to a safe Tur had set up. There was a big red Megathron on the high-sec side of Tama but I was through before I got a name or he a lock. On the next gate a Tempest showed some interest in one of our fleet ships, but I was already past and we simply warped on.

This is how it went all the way back to Serenity station, the HBHI POS. I landed  inside the shields, off loaded my cargo and realized I was home. But it isn't the station. It isn't the wormhole. It isn't simply the sky or the life of a capsuleer.

Home is belonging. It is camaraderie. It is being with a group of people willing to lay down their implants to aid my safe return. It is sharing danger and sharing profit. It is sharing knowledge: Sov's  knowledge of PvP; HBHI's knowledge of WH life; my knowledge of industry. Some times, it's simply floating inside the POS and shooting the shit. It's the final exchange of the evening (paraphrased for brevity,)
Corp mate: "Break, break: we have talk in local."
Typed in local by a tourist: "Nice wormhole we'll take it."
Corp mate: "Faction scum."
Mabrick: "Want to reship and take care of him."
Corp mate: "Nah. He can't do anything here. We should just ignore him."
And we did. It did not matter where it was. It only mattered that we were there together. We were home.

Fly careful.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Engaging Sleepers - WH Lesson #4

Sunday night I participated in my first HBHI operation. We had a dozen anomalies in the hole covering all four Sleeper site types. It was time to make some bank. I know, that's not a strictly industry related occupation. Though it is true that wormholes are an industrialist's playground, the best money is made from the loot and salvage of Sleeper technology. Without this loot and salvage, the entire T3 industry would collapse. This is how an ardent industrialist justifies ratting. It's all about resource acquisition!

So, you may remember from Monday I brought a blaster Dominix into the WH for ratting. This ship did quite well against the Sleepers we encountered. It only went below half armor twice. The biggest hurt put on its tank was from the Argo guns. Damn those things hurt. But with a Domi, a Hyperion and a Typhoon all coordinated by a Damnation we dealt quickly with the guns. It also helped that the Sleepers tend to suffer a bit from attention deficit disorder. Both times they got me to half armor they switched target. It seems they instinctively go for the target dealing the most damage. Rather than warp off, I could just ease back on the DPS until they switched. That may seem a bit mean to my corp mates, but when they are at full shields and I am at half armor it only makes sense. After a couple of repper cycles they can simply repay the honor. *grin*

I learned a good lesson from this operation (that last doesn't count.) Bringing blasters to a Sleeper fight is like bringing a knife to a gun fight. The DPS is awesome... if you can get in range that is. Chances are you'll get a bullet between the eyebrows before that happens. You will spend at least 80% of the engagement out of range and you can pretty much forget the word optimal. Did I mention these bastards kite? You will certainly not get close enough to the Argos guns to take them down if you are solo. They will take you down long before you get into blaster range. Even if you did manage to warp within range by some miracle, you would still have to take special precautions like TurAmarth now does (read down to the paragraphs on the radar installation) to solo these sites.

So the bottom line, I needed a different fit for running Sleeper sites. I can currently fly Gallente and Amarr battleships. I've no experience with lasers whatsoever so that only leaves me with Gallente. That leads me to rail guns. Those are not a problem. I like rail guns. Unfortunately, they require more grid than blasters and proved impossible to keep both tank and DPS intact when mounted on the Domi. As I was unwilling to sacrifice either (because I like to have my cake and eat it too) I needed a new ratting battleship. And, since I am basically a cheap bastard, that left me with only one choice.
[Megathron, Rail Fit]
7x 425mm Railgun II (Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge L) 
4x Cap Recharger II 
Damage Control II
Large Armor Repairer II
3x Energized Adaptive Nano Membrane II
Energized Explosive Membrane II
Capacitor Power Relay II 
2x Large Nanobot Accelerator I
Large Auxiliary Nano Pump I 
5x Hammerhead II
15x Warrior II 
[Statistics - Mabrick]
Effective HP: 72,799 (Eve: 67,113)
Tank Ability: 426.28 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: 77.94%, Ex: 73.21%, Ki: 71.32%, Th: 71.32%
Capacitor (Lasts 57m 50s)
Volley Damage: 3,036.09
DPS: 503.63
I got it back to the hole and was immediately able to join Strigon and Tur for the last battleship of a site they were working on.
[ 2012.08.23 03:16:47 ] (combat) Your group of 425mm Railgun II barely scratches Sleepless Upholder, causing 175.0 damage.[ 2012.08.23 03:16:54 ] (combat) Your group of 425mm Railgun II barely scratches Sleepless Upholder, causing 480.7 damage.[ 2012.08.23 03:17:01 ] (combat) Your group of 425mm Railgun II lightly hits Sleepless Upholder, doing 603.4 damage.[ 2012.08.23 03:17:07 ] (combat) Your group of 425mm Railgun II barely scratches Sleepless Upholder, causing 373.2 damage.[ 2012.08.23 03:17:14 ] (combat) Your group of 425mm Railgun II barely scratches Sleepless Upholder, causing 287.3 damage.[ 2012.08.23 03:17:21 ] (combat) Your group of 425mm Railgun II barely scratches Sleepless Upholder, causing 348.0 damage.[ 2012.08.23 03:17:28 ] (combat) Your group of 425mm Railgun II barely scratches Sleepless Upholder, causing 427.6 damage.[ 2012.08.23 03:17:32 ] (notify) The drones fail to execute your commands as the target Deadspace Sleeper Sleepless Defender is not within your 57000.0 m drone command range.[ 2012.08.23 03:17:35 ] (combat) Your group of 425mm Railgun II barely scratches Sleepless Upholder, causing 516.3 damage.[ 2012.08.23 03:17:40 ] (notify) Approaching Sleepless Upholder[ 2012.08.23 03:17:42 ] (combat) Your group of 425mm Railgun II lightly hits Sleepless Upholder, doing 542.8 damage.[ 2012.08.23 03:17:49 ] (combat) Your group of 425mm Railgun II barely scratches Sleepless Upholder, causing 173.8 damage.[ 2012.08.23 03:17:56 ] (combat) Your group of 425mm Railgun II barely scratches Sleepless Upholder, causing 337.7 damage.[ 2012.08.23 03:18:03 ] (combat) Your group of 425mm Railgun II hits Sleepless Upholder, doing 1103.5 damage.[ 2012.08.23 03:18:10 ] (combat) Your group of 425mm Railgun II hits Sleepless Upholder, doing 1970.8 damage.
This - does - not - suck. I engaged the Sleeper battleship while still out of drone range. My drone range in this big boy is 57km (see Aura notification in the middle... oops.) Trust me, even though this DPS seems to be nothing spectacular, it is way more than the Domi could dish out in the same circumstances. This is a BIG improvement!

And don't worry about the Domi to much. It still has a very useful role to play in the WH. Here's a hint.
Yep, that's battleship gas harvesting in action. It works very well in fact. I had no problem taking care of the sleepers there and even with a small cargo hold I make over half a million ISK in four (4) minutes. That's six (6) cycles of five (5) Gas Cloud Harvester IIs. See for yourself.
It took longer to run back and forth to the POS than to clear out all the Sleepers and Fullerites from that cloud. In less than an hour I'd made an easy 3.5 million solo. That doesn't really begin to compare with the profit from running sleeper sites but every little bit helps. In fact, the loot and salvage from the two Sleeper frigates and one Sleeper cruiser I took out when I arrived was worth more than this cargo hold full of Fullerite-C60. I'd be upset about that except it's damn profitable!

Fly careful.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Initial PI setup in a WH

My initial goal with PI while in the hole is to minimize risk to my ships while getting my ISK earning started quickly. That means I want minimal ship runs. Minimal runs to me means not having to move resources from one planet to another. There are no P4 products where this is possible. However, there are a few P3 products that you can produce on a single planet. They can make you as much ISK as a P4 product, if diligently handled.

So why P3 and not P4 items? Well, it has to do with cargo hauling capacity. My Viator has 3750m3 in its cargo hold without cargo expanders. I use inertia stabs to make the Viator quick as possible - it's all about risk reduction don't you know. A single P4 product takes 100m3. A single P3 item takes 6m3. I can haul a lot more P3 than P4 items. They may sell for less, but I get a lot more out with every run. That makes the overall profit nearly the same when you take into account the shorter amount of time spent making them. Again, no planet to planet transfers and one less production step means less time in process. Never forget time is money.

First, I needed to know what I could actually produce on the planets in the hole. You can ID these resources using Eve Planets. Click on a single planet and then click on "Push." When the site refreshes, it will tell you what products you can produce with the planets selected. By selecting only one planet you see what it alone can produce.

As for which planets to choose, I choose the more rare planets because less people produce those things. Then I choose the ones with the smaller diameters because link costs suck. If you have a choice of two gas giants and one is 50,000 km in diameter and the other three times that, why pick the one that will triple your link costs? If you don't want to log into Eve to see your planetary diameters, you can always use DotLan but it requires several clicks to get where you want to go. I like Eve Eye. It has a more streamlined interface for my purposes and provides other very interesting information with links to Evelopedia, Eve Survival and other really useful sites.

Of course, it was not enough to just make these decisions and not know what the potential profit would be. Before investing in any venture you should know how your investment cost stack up against potential profit. My initial setup is not designed to maximize profit in the traditional sense: maximum production of most valuable commodities. It is designed to minimize risk. That will initially preserve profits as I learn how to live in my new home. Ship replacement costs could easily eat up any extra profit I make going the more traditional route. I am very cognizant of that fact and you should be as well if you've never lived in a WH.

What I needed next was a spread sheet - of course. The spreadsheet would tell me how profitable these P3 products might be. To create the spread sheet I pulled that static data for PI products from the EveHQ database (for now.) There is also the option (for now) to use the CCP provided official database. _noise_ over on The Phoenix Diaries did a great piece last Sunday on how to set this up. When you marry this up with Blake's wealth of knowledge over on K162 you can do just about anything. Unfortunately I have to say "for now" because CCP, in their infinite bone-headedness (and I say that with extreme affection,) are dumping the SQL database download for an all text yaml file system and we'll all have to do this all over again. ARRRRGGG!

Anyway, what I finally ended up with was a nice table that looked like this.
From here you can identify which P3 products are the one planet products and calculate your potential profit. For example, if I ran six planets and could make one run a day hauling out one of the top six P3 products each day, my weekly potential profit is 161,463,365.00 ISK per week. If I made 24 wetware mainframes a day for those six days, I could make 178,045,433.28 ISK (at current prices as of writing this) and I would need to make four runs to get it all out. That is two less runs than the P3 plan but I'd have to make a lot more runs between planets than that to get those 144 Wetware Mainframes done. Believe me, I know. I did that in high-sec - where I was (mostly) safe.

But understand, this is all just INITIALLY. I can't stress that enough. There are far more profitable PI setups in our hole. They would require multiple planetary transfers to maintain however. When I am more sure of WH life, I will no doubt reconfigure my planets and attempt to maximize my profit. When I do, I will be sure to let all of you know.

Fly carefully.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Moving to WH Space - Lesson #2 and #3

As I stated in Lesson #1, there are certain ships that you must absolutely take with you to WH space. But there are also ships that are totally discretionary. For instance, you can decide if you want to take a PvP ship or not. I myself took a few but nothing too big. I want to make some ISK before I get a "really big" PvP ship. Okay, you can stop laughing now. Sooner or later I'll have to do it.

The PvP ship of choice in WH space seems to be the Strategic Cruiser. Go figure. At a cost of at least a half billion ISK, that is something that I could afford to lose but would rather not. Some of the other choices I've read about are Stealth Bombers and Heavy Interdictors. At least that's what I've read. I've also seen used in the WH a Helios as a tackler and a cloaked Hurricane. That was just... strange. I suppose there are "bigger" ships used in more dangerous WH space. I personally don't plan on finding out any time soon.

The number one income producing ship in a C3 is your standard ratting battleship. I decided to start out low cost in this category. I've run Level IV missions in a Drake, and I've even killed a couple Sleeper battleships in a C3 with it. But the Drake is not enough ship to really take on a C3 anomaly. It most certainly is NOT a solo ship.

As it turns out, neither is the battleship I brought. However, the corp Fleet Leader asked that I bring a cap stable armor tanking battleship and that's what I brought.

                    [Dominix]
                    HIGH
                    6x Ion Blaster Cannon II (Antimatter Charge L)
                    MED
                    5x Cap Recharger II
                    LOW
                    Damage Control II
                    Large Armor Repairer II
                    Capacitor Power Relay II
                    Armor Kinetic Hardener II
                    Armor Explosive Hardener II
                    Armor Thermic Hardener II
                    Energized Adaptive Nano Membrane II
                    RIGS
                    2x Large Nanobot Accelerator I
                    Large Auxiliary Nano Pump I

                    Effective HP: 68,119 (Eve: 57,790)
                    Tank Ability: 457.80 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: 67.70%, Ex: 72.76%, Ki: 80.32%, Th: 80.32%

                    Capacitor (Stable at 46.58%)

                    Volley Damage: 2,550.98 (w/ flight of 5 Hammerhead II drones)
                    DPS: 559.24 (w/ flight of 5 Hammerhead II drones)

This is a really standard active armor tank. There is nothing all that spectacular about it. It just fit what I was requested to bring and wasn't that expensive.

However, it is still a juicy target evidently: http://eve.battleclinic.com/killboard/killmail.php?id=17217991

Initially the pirates where in two Tengus if memory serves. The Domi was tanking the two strategic cruisers just fine. It wasn't until one left and got the Sleipnir that they broke its tank. It must have taken them 5 minutes. So much for PvP being fast and furious.

Here's the lesson I learned from this. Don't get in a hurry. I'd staged all my ships in the last high-sec system before the system with our K162 in it. That's not the problem. The problem was we'd move six (6) ships through that hole prior to the Corp CEO taking the Domi out of the high-sec station. There was only one person in the K162 system. Obviously he had friends and wasn't afraid to call them. It would have been better to move only the necessary ships and to wait on the discretionary ships. When you are just getting setup in a WH, you don't have to have them right then and there. I could have waited for another good connection and gotten them any time after. I did just that a few days later to replace the Domi. So, take your time moving ships in. Take only what you need right away. Bring the rest in singly at a later date. There will always be another opportunity to bring a new ship in.

Perhaps the funniest thing about all this is the fact that our CEO took the loss in a ship that wasn't even his. Hell, he wasn't totally qualified in even. He couldn't fire the T2 guns! All he could do was sit there and tank the damage until the tank broke. That REALLY SUCKS. Sorry AI.

The loss of the Dominix wasn't the worse loss unfortunately: http://eve.battleclinic.com/killboard/killmail.php?id=17218096. Tur lost his Loki defending the Domi.  He said, "that's what corp mates do for each other." Then he added, "besides, I'd been itching to try the Loki in PvP!" I really, really, really, really appreciate that sentiment Tur and thank you. But this leads me to my second lesson from the event.

As a carebear, I am very cognizant of the bottom line. It is a violation of every business rule I know to defend a 150 million ISK ship with a 500 million ISK ship (some of the things in the Domi's cargo hold were expensive but irrelevant to the cost.) That just gives the pirates more of what they want and compounds the asset loss. We knew we were going to lose the Domi. We didn't have to lose the Loki. It was worth two and a half entry level T1 battleships.

And that brings me to the third lesson of my first week in a WH. The other discretionary income ships you can take with you are mining ships. I took an Exhumer. I splurged a bit and bought one of those nifty new Skiffs. It's a sweet barge and I think I'm in love with it but it was a mistake.

Tur and I spent quite a bit of time the other night practicing fleet mining ops - me in my Skiff and he in a Procurer. We were convinced they are survivable in a WH. In fact, that night, right as we finished practice and settled down to mine some Arkonor, I spied two Proteus on d-scan. I was back at the POS before Tur could say "RUN!"

But that isn't always going to be the case. Remember that tackling Helios and the cloaked Hurricane? Here's where we encountered them: http://eve.battleclinic.com/killboard/killmail.php?id=17261587. Now tell me that isn't the strangest fight you've ever seen?

So what's the lesson? Go back to the paragraph about how many T1 battleships you can buy for the price of a Loki. Then apply that logic to mining ships. I can lose ten (10) Procurers for every Skiff and they mine almost as well. The tank is inconsequential when your scrammed and webbed. You'll either last long enough for help to arrive or you won't. The few extra EHP the Skiff gives won't make any difference. Mining in a WH is THE most dangerous thing Tur tells me you can do. I believe him now. Those two ships got the drop on both of us. Leave the Exhumers at home and stick to T1 barges. Your wallet will thank you.

Fly careful.

Friday, August 17, 2012

One War the Goons haven't Won

From Google:
An interesting thing happened a couple of days ago. A new Eve Online news site hit the inter-webs. For certain, it is a flashy site and very eye catching. Themittani.com promises many things. Here is specifically what the creators of the new site have promised:
  • "Balance, or what passes for it" (From the About section.)
  • "EVE Online, not Final Fantasy XXV" (From the About section.)
  • "Behold: real news, real quality. It's about time." (From TheMittani's twitter feed.)
  • "Our goal at TheMittani.com is to set a high standard for the quality of writing on this site." (From the About section.)
I don't doubt they can pull off that last one. They claim to have twenty people working on the site. I believe it. That's an Internet start-up worth to be be sure! There are certain to be editors who check articles before they ever get posted for grammar use, etc. That's one luxury the average Eve blogger doesn't have. The new site is quite an endeavor. That got me to wondering why Goonswarm felt this was necessary at all. There are plenty of PvP and even Goonswarm oriented blogs already on the Internet. This new site is too large an effort to be a passing fancy. Why did they do it?

I decided it isn't a desire to make advertising money. In fact, there are no advertisements on the main page. I don't see any ads anywhere on the site and it's not just that I'm running Ad-Block or some such program. I'm not. So the reason isn’t money.

[EDIT 8/17/12 21:30 Eve Time: As evidence that things can and will change quickly, there are now ads all down the right side of the site. They were not present on Wednesday when I wrote the post. So they will make some money on this site. My opinion isn't changed by this new fact. - Mabrick]

Is the reason ego then? Perhaps, even though that isn't part of the goon definition above. Moreover, we all have egos. We wouldn't be bloggers if we didn't. Anyone who tells you they have no ego is selling something. So sure, it might be for ego’s sake, but TheMittani is already leader of the largest alliance in the game. He’s already been CSM chair. Thousands look up to him. He is already larger than life in New Eden. No, he’s got enough ego stroking and doesn’t need to roll out such an extravagant site to get more. Besides, they say it themselves, 
“Mittani himself wanted the site to be called something very worthy and descriptive like ‘Internet Spaceship News’ or the like: dull enough that I genuinely can’t remember.”
So if it isn't about money and it isn’t about ego, what is it about. The obvious answer is they get a ton of bad press and want to "set the record straight." I think I've even read those exact words more than a few times. 

If I were them, I'd want to do the exact same thing. It sucks constantly having the definition at the top of this article thrown in your face every time you show up. But is that all of the reason? All things being equal, I doubt that would be enough motivation to bring all those people together to pull off this web site. So beside being fed up with getting beat over the head constantly with the definition of goon, there has to be more going on to motivate such an extravagant new site. 

Here's my opinion. It’s about not losing the war of words. The Goons and their allies have been very successful in all their endeavors this year. They control more systems than any of the Empires. They have more ISK than any Empire bank. They have succeeded at everything they've tried except one thing. The one thing they have not been so successful with is the war of words.

Since Burn Jita, there has been a decided bias against Goonswarm and the actions they’ve taken. Anyone who denies this is – well, in denial. We all love to slay them with the pen because we can’t do it with the sword. From my point of view, the Goons brought this upon themselves. I’m sure they thought they were ready for this new challenge. They weren’t. They’ve taken a shellacking.

There is a reason the pen is mightier than the sword. It’s because the court of public opinion matters. When public opinion is against you, how good does that make you feel? How would you like to come to work every day only to hear your co-workers telling your boss, and anyone else who will listen, what a horrible and lazy person you are? It makes your job much, much harder and the stress becomes intolerable. It’s no fun whatsoever.

That’s what it’s like to be a member of Goonswarm these days. It isn’t all fun all the time. Those damn pubbies keep saying mean things about them. They're the bad boys of Eve and not in a good way. They are harassed on the forums. They are harassed in my blog. They don't get much space on Eve News24. It’s very hard to change people’s opinion and get the respect you feel you're entitled to when you have no soap box from which to shout. What’s a Goon to do?

They do what Arianna Huffington and Roger Ailes did. They start their own news outlet to get their side of the story published. Whether you agree with Huffington or not, she succeeded. The same is true for Ailes. I see no reason why the Goons should not think they will succeed as well.

I'm certain they will to some extent. I doubt it will completely swing the New Eden court of public opinion, but it should level the playing field. Those who like what they say and the way they say it will gravitate to their site. They'll revel in it in all likelihood. Those that don’t, won’t. That’s how people work.

I will make one prediction about it all though. The Eve Online community will be stronger for it. Too much inbreeding is as bad for a social engine as it is for a species. Diversity is the only true path to success for any society whether it is real or just Internet spaceships. We will certainly have more diversity in the Eve blogosphere thanks to this new site. I am sure TheMittani will see to it. Lastly, I commend those who have undertaken this endeavor. So I'd like to say, from one journalist to another, well done.

Fly careful.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Moving to WH Space - Lesson #1

Among the many web sites and blogs I've read concerning wormholes throughout the years, and especially the past month, perhaps the most helpful technical site was (and still is) A Guide to Everything Wormhole. It is a great primer for anyone considering life in a wormhole, carebear or not.

Of the many recommendations and pointers it gives, one I especially paid attention too is Ships you should Bring. Everyone knows there are no market hubs in WH space. Bringing the correct ships is essential to your initial survival. Forget about profitability at first. You can't make a profit if you can't survive.

The article does a really good job of running down what a perspective WH dweller needs. I will not belabor the point. Go read the article if you are interested. You won't regret spending the time. There is one thing missing in this treatise though. It is something that I didn't even think about - big surprise eh? Before I clue you in on this crucial information, let me give you the run down on my move preparations. Perhaps you can catch my mistake as you read. If you are not interested, skip to the end.

As a complete aside, I think every established player should walk out on what they know and try something completely new from time to time. There is nothing with as much potential for personal growth as becoming a noob all over again. This doesn't mean you should give up your preferred play style. I still plan on being an industrialist and a carebear. The only difference now is that I'll have to fly even more carefully. And I'll expand my horizons as a player for it. But back to the subject at hand.

So I followed the advice in the article. I got all of my ships ready. In all, I prepared several T2 scanner capable ships. I prepared an Exhumer. I prepared a blockade runner. I prepared a PvE ship. I prepared a salvage ship.

When everything was ready, I staged the ships to a high-sec system near the K162 for my new home. This took many round trips and I was glad it was only nine jumps and not 39 jumps. As it was it took me nearly four hours to stage.

On the last staging leg, I decided to jump clone back to my home base. I know that life in a WH is frought with danger. I will lose ships. I'll probably get podded sooner or later. Jump cloning back formy last ship  would keep my current implants safe. That is the common logic of doing such a thing.

Have you guessed my mistake?

The last ship I moved was my Viator. Everything looked to be in order and staging was complete. It wasn't until I actually started to move ships into the WH that the problem showed it's ugly head  - and the pun is intended.


Have you guessed my mistake now?


If not, remember this please. For the love of all that is good in Eve online, don't forget to take into account implant bonuses to grid, CPU and capacitor BEFORE you jump clone out of a body. The ships you flew before may not work afterwards. This small warning, perhaps as a foot note on what ships to bring, would certainly prevent a lot of noobish head banging once inside the POS shields of your new home.

So, last night I spent my first full night in a wormhole looking for a good exit to high-sec son I could correct this oversight. There were three connections. One was our static out and the other two were K162s that led to C2 systems. They both had static high-sec connections.

The first C2 was several tens of jumps from any market hub. It turned out to be a high-sec island on the edge of null-sec. There were 14 low-sec gates between it and the closest Empire system. The second C2 had nine force fields on d-scan. As Falstaff said in Henry the Fourth,

To die is to be a counterfeit, for he is but the counterfeit of
a man who hath not the life of a man; but to counterfeit dying,
when a man thereby liveth, is to be no counterfeit, but the true
and perfect image of life indeed. The better part of valor is
discretion, in the which better part I have sav'd my life.

We bubbled the second K162.

The best route was our static. It was five jumps through low-sec to Empire. Then it was hell and damnation far away from where I needed to go. I suppose I could have jumped into my original body from the butt ugly end of high-sec, but I decided to wait for a better connection. Perhaps tonight will be the night I can put my error behind me. Until then, at least I am getting some good scanning (direct and otherwise) practice. Not much else is going to happen until I resolve my implant impasse.

Fly careful.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Do Carebears have Claws?

I am a carebear. More than that, I am a high-sec carebear. But even more than that, I am an Eve blogger. As such, there is a certain trust between myself and my reader. The trust is simple. Without it, anything I say could be held up to the light and found to be as thin, as substantive as a sheet of cotton candy and just as likely to dissolve in a light rain. What is this trust? Jester has it in spades. No, it's not the ability to write blog posts while asleep. It is the expertise to backup what what I write with experience. They trust I am an authority on that.

I am an authority on high-sec industry. I have mined. I have manufactured T2 items. I have run PI until my mouse button was worn through. I have made profit on all those things. And I have done it with little or no risk. Therein lies the problem. So long as I write about how to do high-sec industrialism, I am trustworthy. If you dispute what I say, it is merely opinion versus opinion. It is when I write about industry beyond the borders of empire space that I am on less sure footing. If I wonder to myself, "do I really know what I'm talking about," then certainly my readers must also ask this question.

So during the Goonswarm war, when these feelings were at their height, I resolved to do something about it. Because of that war, I made some friends. Those friends were key to helping me convert my resolution into action. Without them, I could not accomplish what I wanted to do. I wanted to leave high-sec and put my money (and my implants) where my mouth was.

From my many contacts, two solid offers came my way. Both of them would allow me to move Mabrick Mining and Manufacturing to a new system far beyond the control of CONCORD. The first gracious offer was for the corporation to take up residence in Providence. There was a system there that needed industrialized, and my new friends down there thought MABMM would be a good candidate corporation. We would have been neutrals in a NRDS area, but that was acceptable to me. The object was for Mabrick to learn and learn I would have had to do fast down there.

Then the Delve war happened. Querious fell. Catch seemed to be next on the menu. The corporation that offered to sponsor MABMM's occupation of the null-sec system in question decided to find greener pastures. They had been disaffected for some time, long before the events in Delve began. I was warned that this was a possibility and so the plan collapsed. I wish them good fortune in their new haunts and I know they are happier for the move.

Fortunately for MABMM, there was another option. While working out the details though, things within MABMM started to deteriorate. A few posts back I held up my own family as examples of whether the sandbox of Eve Online is a help or a hindrance. In that post I predicted that my pacifist brother might not stay in New Eden. That prediction has unfortunately come true. That left me with only two corp-mates. Of the two, only one is currently able to play. The other no longer has the means thanks to a very hot day and a puff of blue smoke from his laptop. It will likely be some months before my son can join me again.

Those events made the plan we were formulating impossible for the time being. It takes at least three to comfortably pull it off. Only a fool would attempt it alone and, though I have been called one on this blog, I am no fool. A single person cannot run a large POS by themselves.

So we altered the plan. This will work out much better in fact. It will give me time to learn a few things that are critical to the future success of MABMM. It also gives me a chance to not worry about my big mouth getting the fourth person in MABMM, the one who can still play, war-decced. He is a noob after all, and with less than five million SP prefers the safety of high-sec industrialism to where I am going.

Yes, Mabrick has left Mabrick Mining and Manufacturing. I have turned the CEO position over to my trusted friend Kao Jai. During my absence, I know he will continue to run MABMM well and profitably. I certainly left them with enough of a grubstake to see that happens.

I myself have joined a new corporation: Hiigaran Bounty Hunters Inc. I am joining Capt. TurAmarth ElRandir and his clan in their class three wormhole. I will spent time with these wormhole veterans learning how to live there; learning how to run a business there; learning how to make a profit there. The resources are vast. The profit potential is great. The risk is tremendous. I have already suffered my first loss thanks to a Tengu and a Sleipner, but I am undaunted.

So begins Mabrick's journey to become more authoritative in what he writes. I already know life in a wormhole is dangerous. I know it is an unforgiving expanse. I know I will have to defend my new corp-mates and our home with every ounce of my ability. I know what must happen. I have to grow sharper claws.

Fly careful.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Here's Dust in your eyes.

This is Friday's post come early (I try for a Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule if you hadn't noticed yet.) Last night when I logged into Eve Online I saw an announcement that Dust 514 Beta would soon be thrown open to all Eve Online players. As I have an XBox 360, I pretty much ignored this announcement. Besides, the only FPS that really ever appealed to me was LAN based Unreal Tournament. That rocked!

Today, I get an alert for an article over on incgamers.com where the producer of Dust 514, Brandon Laurino aka CCP Jian, announced that the first integration of Dust 514 with Eve Online will happen on the Singularity Test Server (SiSi) on August 21st - less than two weeks away! That certainly clarifies the previous night's announcement about opening Dust 514 to all Eve Players.

The statement by CCP Jian gives details that I have personally been waiting to come from Iceland. I find it curious that they are, instead, coming by way of Shanghai. I'd love to point at this as the first indication of the tail wagging the dog but that conclusion is only tenuously supported by this update and certainly premature. But here you have it, some juicy tidbits of info about things coming to Eve Online via the Dust 514 producer.

The first of these juicy tidbits I want to cover is Orbital Strike. To me this is the most fascinating aspect of the Eve/Dust interaction. In the article, CCP Jian states,

"letting squad leaders call in Orbital Strikes from the War Barge flying overhead when their squad achieves certain conditions in battle.
This is just the first level of Orbital Strike capability."
This is the first I've actually heard of them having their own barges, but I don't actually go out of my way to learn such things. It makes me wonder though, can I shoot those barges down? It only seems fair considering what CCP Jian then says about what Dust Mercenaries can do against the eventual capsuleer delivered Orbital Strike.
"But Mercs on the ground won’t be helpless. We’ll soon add the Orbital Artillery outpost on the ground they can use to attack EVE Online ships in space."
Say what! Harrumph! Well, I suppose that's only fair. Just make sure we can kill those orbital barges too would you CCP Jian?

It seems that certain turret types and certainly pilot skill levels will affect the effectiveness of the Orbital Strike. However, the mercenary's skill level on the ground will also be a factor. That's an interesting twist. I am sure a mercenary's skills will have a direct correlation on their cost. That means a small corporation like mine probably couldn't afford really good mercenary's. An alliance like Goonswarm could. That system certainly has the potential of being another war-dec cost fiasco. On the surface of it, it certainly isn't doing the little guys any favors.

The second most exciting thing I got from this update was actually a technical one. They are providing the ability to use a keyboard and mouse with the Playstation console. That's an interesting thing to take an entire paragraph to discuss. It got me wondering what the motivation could be for mentioning it so prominently. First I wondered if this meant it would be easier to port the Dust client to the PC and MAC once CCP's exclusive agreement with Sony is over. But I don't know if there will ever be an expiration of that agreement. I hope so, it's probably the only way I'd ever try Dust. I've nothing against Playstation, it's just not the console I have. I know I am not the only one in this predicament.

Then another possible reason for this announcement hit me. You really can't play Eve Online without a keyboard and mouse. What if this is being done so they can port the Eve client to the Playstation instead? Now that's effing interesting. With the universal acceptance of 1080p as the T.V. standard for the foreseeable future, this would open up Eve Online to a completely new type of capsuleer. I can't even begin to guess how this would affect New Eden... Okay, of course I can guess.

Initially I see Dust mercenaries, who really only want to shoot people in the face, thinking they could get a leg up on those other people by controlling their own Orbital Strike. To do that they'd have to be a capsuleer. So we'd get a class of capsuleer who would only be interested in flying the Orbital Strike version of a dreadnaught. They'd be a Dust alt. However, they could (and I think probably would) eventually branch out as they overcame the learning cliff. That would bring fresh blood and a different perspective on what Eve should be like. What type of perspective? Well, I am fairly certain it would be the PvP oriented perspective. Perhaps CCP has already realized this and that explains Crucible, Inferno and everything else that's all war, all the time.

The third thing in the update I'd like to point out is the Instant Battle Matchmaking system. I am extremely envious of this system from just this one short paragraph. Why? Here's why.
"In addition, the matchmaking system has been implemented to intelligently place solo players and squads into matches based on skill, creating a more inviting shooter experience, especially for new players." (emphasis mine)
I want this for Eve Online dammit! This just might be the earth mover that can reduce the learning cliff to a small hill. Can you imagine an Eve Online tutorial arena where noobs are matched by skill points and ship types to practice PvP without getting squashed by some jerk with 75 million skill points? Would that not be a  "a more inviting shooter experience, especially for new players?" In my last post, I pondered whether the sink or swim nature of Eve contributed to the large number of capsuleer drownings - know as unsubscribing in the real world. The sandbox is ruled by beach bullies and the 90 pound weaklings aren't going to waste their time and money on it. No one likes to eat sand. Okay, I've taken that metaphor way too far but that doesn't change the reality that Eve Online needs a way around this problem: a way that doesn't detract from the nature of Eve Online as a harsh and unforgiving mistress. Why can't we have instant PvP tutorials for those that just want to practice on an even playing field? If CCP is wise enough to build this into Dust, then why haven't they seen this could be of great benefit to Eve Online? I wish I knew.

The other thing in this that makes me think we're getting the short end of the stick from CCP is this.
"In addition, we’re launching a free companion app on the Vita, DUST 514: Neocom, to augment your gameplay experience and let you customize your fittings, train skills, use the market, browse the starmap, and much more, on the go anytime and anywhere." (emphasis mine)
WTF CCP, throw some old dogs a few gnawed bones. If you aren't planning on bringing something like this to Eve Online, you'll find the Jita Riots were a walk in the park on a sunny day in comparison to the anger you'll feel if you don't. Eve players have asked for this for as long as I can remember. If you give it to Dust players and leave us out... well, you'll only have yourselves to blame. I think our position on this as players has been quite known for some time. We deserve it. We've been here all along. The fickle console players you hope to milk for mega amounts of cash will be here tomorrow and gone just as quickly. Treat us right and your loyal, dedicated and totally addicted Eve players will be here forever.

And the last thing I'll leave you all with is this simple question. Now do you understand why our Christmas update seems to be so light on content? I am certain working out the bugs on SiSi caused by the integration of Dust 514's Precursor will keep everyone in CCP, on both sides of the world, more occupied than they'll ever admit.

Fly careful.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Sandbox - Asset or Liability?

I have a Google Alert setup to find mentions of Eve Online. It notified me of an interesting start to an Eve Online thread over on Democraticunderground.com (a site I didn't even know existed before - go Google Alerts.) You can read the post here. The tl;dr gist of the post is this fellow tried Eve because he'd read about the MMO/FPS project (known to us as Dust 514.) This intrigued him and brought him into Eve Online.

His initial impression of the game though wasn't what I'd have expected. He didn't discuss the awesomeness of social game play and how great it was to have so many other people with whom to interact. Quite the contrary actually. He said,
"It does have a steep learning curve but I like the fact that this early in the game it is kinda like a single-player RPG -- I don't have to rely on other people to make progress." (Emphasis mine.)
Now, to be fair he gave no indication that he wouldn't eventually jump on the social engine bandwagon CCP wants us so desperately to embrace (see his subsequent post.) However, at the start, in his Catalyst Destroyer, he would rather go it alone.

He sites two other Sci-Fi games, Elite and Freelancer, as qualifiers for Eve being, "right up my alley." I played Elite but not Freelancer. I did play Privateer. These are the litmus that this noob, and many other noobs, compare Eve to - myself included when I started four plus years ago. It's a wildly imperfect measure to be sure.

But if that is the expectation, why on Earth (or off it) does CCP think it's a good thing to push this social engine, war-all-the-time vision even in high-sec? It seems to me that this would be a turn off for new players like EarlG. They are initially in love with interstellar beauty and internet spaceships, not Goonswarm offensives and the meta-game.

The post got even more interesting when Hong Kong Cavalier replied. He claims to have tried Eve three (3) times. He quit playing each time. Here is the reason he gives,
"CCP talks about their sandbox as being EVE's greatest strength. I think it's a bit of an obstacle for them. They have an amazing graphics engine with marvelous effects, and they do boast 400k subscribers as of March 2012. But it's a hurdle that many players why (sic) try EVE (like myself) can't seem to get past."
So as much as we all love the sandbox aspect of this social engine that is Eve Online, is it actually the road block keeping new blood out of the game? I think it just might be.

As an example, I'll hold up my own family members as examples. Both my son and my brother have new characters in Mabrick Mining and Manufacturing [MABMM.] I noticed they weren't logging on very often, certainly not every night or even every couple of nights.

One day I asked my son, "Are you going to be on tonight? We could take on a level 4 together. I'll shoot and you can salvage"

My son replied, "Nah, I'm just gonna train until I can get into a Brutix. I can't do anything in the Thorax that I want to do and, no offense, salvaging is boring. I want to pull my weight."

Not a week later I had this conversation with my brother, "I haven't seen you online at all lately. Is everything okay?"

He answered, "Yeah, everything's fine. I just want to train up until I can actually do something without getting blown up."

Now granted, this was during Goonswarm's war against MABMM. I told both of them they should quit the corporation and go back to the NPC corporation. They declined; said they liked being in "the family business" and could just wait until they could really play the game.

Now that's effed up people. Two new players that I'd talked into spending the money to play again (they'd both tried it about three years ago but ran into financial problems) and neither one of them feel they can really play the game as noobs. This is something that EarlG doesn't contradict.  In fact, he said he tried it on his own at first without the tutorials and without success. He's at least not giving up.

The same goes for my son. He's not giving up but he does want to be able to defend himself. After the war though, he's not sure how long that will take. He's frustrated but he's willing to fight if necessary, though he'd just rather fly his spaceship and make ISK.

My brother, on the other hand, is an outright pacifist compared to me. He only wants to fly cool Internet spaceships, run a business and be safe doing it. That isn't likely to happen in Eve Online now is it? The sandbox style of game play means he won't have the chance. Outside the family, he can't trust anyone. I fear his days playing Eve Online are as limited as when he lost his job.

And EarlG's thread tells me my noob relatives aren't unique. A lot of people just want to fly spaceships and pretend to be in space (that's role-play too BTW.) That's what does it for them. I suspect there are far more people in the world with that mindset than the PvP mindset. If predator to prey ratios are any indication, the non-PvP inclined far outnumber the people who really love to explode things. That's bad news for Eve Online in light of the current CCP push for all war all the time.

In the end, I have to blame the open ended nature of Eve game play - the sandbox. It's not very appealing to new players that don't know what it's about yet. It causes such a steep learning curve people become frustrated. Then, at the height of their frustration, they get ganked. Maybe they shake it off. Maybe they shake off the second one. But if their frustration doesn't ease, and it continues to happen, they just quit.

And sure, we don't really need them. They didn't grok the nature of Eve. No loss eh mate? CCP will happily keep Tranquility running for the rest of us. But I'll always feel like we were robbed of something. Robbed of a game that could have been so much more but wasn't. Robbed of a chance for Eve Online to be a real social engine. One with a society that is actually like us, all of us. Even those that just want to fly from place to place without risk; never kicking sand in anyone's face.

Fly careful.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Who really lives in high-sec?

I'm something of an odd Eve player. I only have one character I play. That's Mabrick of course. And because I am only Mabrick, that makes me a statistical outlier. As near as I can tell, most Eve players have at least two accounts. Hell, I have a friend out in Pure Blind who has four or five... well, four for certain.

Now, I may be wrong about that "most Eve players" bit just before this because I really have no special data on it. I really wish I did. But I think I can safely say that most if not all null-sec players have high-sec alts. Is that a fair statement? To see, there is a poll at the top right corner of my blog. Please indicate the number of Eve characters you have. At the least it will confirm I'm a statistical odd ball. ;-) [EDIT: Blogger's Poll widget seems to be broken at the moment. I'll get the poll up soon as I can.]

Now, let's do some logic. I recently saw this in a signature block in the comments of the latest blog on mining barge changes.
"EVE residents: 5% Wormholes; 8% Lowsec; 20% Nullsec; 67% Highsec. CSM 6: 100% Nullsec residents. EVE demographics vs CSM demographics, nothing to worry about..."
This is not the first time I've seen something like this. I am certain it will not be the last. But is it true?

Looking at it from a pure account bases I am certain it is. I know the percentages come straight from CCP. Hell, when we used to get quarterly economic reports they were always in it. Man, I miss those quarterly reports. CCP Dr. EyjoG, can we have them back? Anyway, back to the logic thing.

So these percentages represent how many capsuleers are in each of the various regions of New Eden. But I think this is misleading. It does not shed any light on how many mains are in each region. I think that is a much more important question to ask.

We already agreed that most people in null-sec have alts in high-sec. If you didn't agree with me you can stop reading at this point. You won't agree with anything that comes next anyway. So if every person in null-sec has an alt in high-sec, how does that change the percentages listed above?

So the first thing you have to do is adjust for the current number of capsuleers in high-sec who are alts for null-sec mains. Fortunately this is not as difficult as it may seem. Since we are dealing with an original statement that totals to 100% we can directly convert that to 100 people. Twenty people come straight off 67 people leaving 47 true high-sec dwellers.

That isn't the end of the matter though. Since we dropped 20 people from the equation there is now only a total of 80 people in our sample. We have to adjust all of the percentages again to reflect this new sample size. That's a little trickier but fortunately three of our original numbers (WH, low-sec and null-sec) remain constant. The formula is:

(# dwellers in a region / sample total ) * 100 = % of total living in region

Here's what that signature should look like if only main characters were counted (rounded to eliminate decimals - rounding favors high-sec.)
"EVE residents: 6% Wormholes; 10% Lowsec; 25% Nullsec; 58% Highsec. CSM 6: 100% Nullsec residents. EVE demographics vs CSM demographics, nothing to worry about..."
That's not as "alarming" but it still means more than half of all Eve players live and work in high-sec. But what if more null-sec players are like my friend? He has a high-sec corporation populated by his alts. Only his main lives in null-sec. How does this signature look if each null-sec pilot has two alts in high-sec? That means we have to drop 40 pilots from the sample leaving a sample size of only 60 capsuleers.
"EVE residents: 8% Wormholes; 13% Lowsec; 33% Nullsec; 46% Highsec. CSM 6: 100% Nullsec residents. EVE demographics vs CSM demographics, nothing to worry about..."
Now that's a horse of a completely different color isn't it? Where do these percentages end up if you drop trial accounts from the high-sec total? What if we eliminate noobs since they don't know enough to actually make informed choices and couldn't get into most (all?) null-sec corporations anyway?

So, just like in anything political, anyone can use statistics to make their case seem better than the other person's. The only sure fire way to know is to get a hold of CCP's actual account database and of course CCP isn't sharing. That can really only mean that CCP spins the statistics their way. I don't hold that against them.

You see, there is an alarming trend in all this. Does anyone else see it? The worrisome development is the drop in the sample size. We started with 100 Eve players. Then we threw 20 out because they were alts. In the next stage we threw out 20 more. That left us with only 60 real players. There are even more alarming scenarios than this one. So what?

CCP states that they have 400,000 subscribers. That's at least five million dollars ($5,000,000) a month in revenue. It is probably more since the five million amount is calculated at the lowest possible Eve Online subscription rate of $13 a month. That's awesome so far as it goes.

How many real people is that though? If every player of Eve online has four alts and plays them simultaneously like my friend, that means that only 100,000 people play Eve Online. That's not nearly as impressive a subscription rate. It's damn dangerous.

Many people have said the final act of rebellion that made CCP blink last summer were the unsubscribed alt accounts. If that was only one of four, can you imagine how frightening it must have been for CCP to contemplate players unsubscribing ALL of their alts?At the start of the last recession, my RL company had a 30% drop in revenue almost immediately. My boss was let go. His boss was let go. We shed a quarter of our work force within a month. Does that sound familiar? It should. That's what CCP did last summer.

And what about economic troubles from the other perspective? If someone is suddenly unemployed, how many alts can they afford? My personal unemployment math says none - providing I had any alts. Hell, I might not even be able to afford Mabrick. I have RL obligations that take precedence over Internet spaceships. We all do. If CCP's 400,000 are actual individuals that's a great buffer against economic uncertainty. If the true real person tally is a quarter of that, it's like taking an unbuffered Drake into a Vanguard site. Capeesh?

So the next time you wonder why CCP seems to be catering to the null-sec bloc - why they seem to be waging war on high-sec - think about these numbers again. This hypothesis is the only logical conclusion I can come up with for what so many, including myself, have noticed and complained about. And if my hypothesis is true, CCP doesn't have a choice. They have the account database. They already know who's buttering their bread - and it's not statistical outliers like me.

Fly careful.

P.S. This hypothesis also answers the question of why all the CSM are from null-sec... doesn't it. That's a far more sound reason than, "the election was rigged!"

Friday, August 3, 2012

More Time to do what Exactly?


To say the CSM minutes published yesterday is a slog would be an understatement. In a world of action and reaction, most ongoing events tend to take on the aspect of a pendulum. It starts left or right of center and proceeds toward it. However, momentum being what it is the pendulum will shoot past that sweet spot and start climbing the other side. It takes a few swings to settle into place. That’s pretty much where we are I think with these minutes.

I applaud the CSM’s desire to be thorough and transparent. However, there is a fine line between transparency and overload. It’s easy to cross that line without meaning to. Fortunately you have bloggers to wade through 165 pages of minutia for you.

To that end, I skimmed through the entire minutes yesterday. This morning I read the section on Industry and Mining again. That is, of course, my area of interest. Here’s Perhaps the biggest item and comes out right at the top. “Job orders” run in “batch” mode is one of those changes that have been requested for as long as I’ve been a capsuleer (and longer no doubt.) If an industrialist has the means to build all or most of the components for an end product, they must currently manufacture each component as its own project. That is time consuming and laborious. Being able to place everything needed for something into the proverbial hopper and hit frappe would take the pain out of manufacturing very complex items for certain.

Then CCP Greyscale said the one thing I didn’t want to hear. He pointed out less time manufacturing gave more time for players to do other activities. Possible translation from the industrialist perspective: industry should not be a play style in and of itself. Now, to all you non-industrialists who just jumped up and shouted “damn straight!” I say sit down and STFU. I’m talking to the diehard industrialists here who would rather build things than blow them up. Something I don’t believe you are equipped by nature to understand. Why are you reading this blog again? Nevermind.

Anyway, this statement needs expounding. Do what other things CCP Greyscale? If you meant more time to manage our PI lines or more time to ring mine I’m all in. I hope that’s what you meant. If not, I’m calling you on it.

What I’m anxious about is the possibility this means “more time for players to pew-pew.” That relegates industry to not being a play style in and of itself, but merely another type of farming. If that’s true, it’s the worst possible thing that could happen for serious industrialists. By serious I mean those that only want to make things. It’s a rare breed for certain, but do we really deserve such marginalization? I was really starting to get depressed at this point.

Then Trebor saved the day – so to speak. His “think sink” idea is a good one. I rather like the idea of being a process engineer more than a production line button pusher. He just vindicated my decision to vote for him - twice. Hopefully his words did not fall on deaf ears. Allowing those who wish to integrate research, invention and production into a single optimized process enhances the life of the dedicated industrialist. As I’ve said before, all we want is to be rewarded for our hard work.

Eventually CCP Greyscale allayed most of my concerns when he wanted to focus more on how to give “a dedicated industrialist” an edge over the capsuleer who once in a while takes a pile of things and builds a ship. Now THAT’S what I’m taking about when I say I just want to be rewarded for my hard work!

I don’t have a grievance with making industry easier for the casual industrialist. Go ahead and do that. It makes sense. But at the same time, give those that are willing to work hard and ruin their eyesight staring at ginormous spreadsheets an opportunity to reap more profit for it. That’s the penultimate reward in the industrial game. It is the best reward CCP can give.

So you caught that I said penultimate and not ultimate reward eh? What’s the ultimate reward you want to know? It’s simple. The ultimate reward is knowing that the ship I just built will be taken out into the wilds of New Eden and used to sow mayhem and destruction. Not only does that mean I’ll have repeat customers, it also means I have an integral place in our capsuleer society. Let’s keep it that way.

Fly careful.

[EDIT 8/3/12 20:19 Eve Time - new dev blog on mining barge changes. More later.]

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

A better way to address miner protection.

If you haven't skimmed through the forum post Barge Fairy Tale yet, you should. There are some great tears there about the massive barge tanks revealed on SiSi last week. The post is up to 130 pages now and finally slacking off.

At the bottom of page three, CCP Soundwave bravely wades into the fray here, and later on here, here, here, and here. The gist of his comments are that CCP will not eliminate ganking as an option, they just want it to cost a whole lot more. Of course, I agree with this in principle wholeheartedly.

Now the rumor mill has it that CCP is going to ease up on the resists given to the various barges in response. The question is, is CCP right? Is taking the shield resistances away the right answer? I say yes.

Though I love the idea of an exhumer with a battleship level tank, it shouldn't naturally be that way. There is a better way to give industrialists the protection they want. Give each industrial extra slots in the mids as CCP's already done with the new Skiff, but I don't mean just one. Put in two or three or even four. Boost the capacitor and the power grid on them as well. Allow the industrialist who is so inclined to fit his own shield tank.

The capsuleer who started the post above seems to be under the impression that industrialists who don't fit a tank deserve to be attacked. I don't think peaceful industrialists deserve to be attacked, but those who refuse to take precautions do so at their own risk. CCP should not take that responsibility away from them.

I tank my industrial ships just like I tank everything else. I know not every industrialist does this but, as I've said before, they should. If they are given the ability to fit a 50k EHP tank and don't, that's their mistake.

Now, some of these ships already have plenty of slots. They just need more capacitor or power or both. For instance, here is my current Hulk fit.
[Hulk, Blue Bucket]
3x Modulated Strip Miner II
Medium Shield Extender II
2x Adaptive Invulnerability Field II
Upgraded Thermic Dissipation Amplifier I
Micro Auxiliary Power Core II
Damage Control II
Medium Core Defense Field Extender I
Medium Ancillary Current Router I
[Statistics - Mabrick]
Effective HP: 31,267 (Eve: 24,591)
Tank Ability: 102.26 DPS
Damage Profile - <Omni-Damage> (EM: 25.00%, Ex: 25.00%, Ki: 25.00%, Th: 25.00%)
Shield Resists - EM: 71.70%, Ex: 84.15%, Ki: 83.02%, Th: 84.08%
Armor Resists - EM: 66.00%, Ex: 23.50%, Ki: 36.25%, Th: 44.75%
Capacitor (Stable at 25.88%)
In a way, this is a crap fit. The reason is because it requires power enhancement to maintain the active tank. Those are "wasted" slots that I could better utilize. However, in order to tank a Hulk, this is currently required. If CCP would give the Hulk more power I could tank this ship properly myself; like this.
[Hulk, Blue Bucket Future]
3x Modulated Strip Miner II
Medium Shield Extender II
2x Adaptive Invulnerability Field II
Upgraded Thermic Dissipation Amplifier I
Damage Control II
Shield Flux Coil II
2x Medium Core Defense Field Extender I
[Statistics - Mabrick]
Effective HP: 30,835 (Eve: 24,297)
Tank Ability: 142.79 DPS
Damage Profile - <Omni-Damage> (EM: 25.00%, Ex: 25.00%, Ki: 25.00%, Th: 25.00%)
Shield Resists - EM: 71.70%, Ex: 84.15%, Ki: 83.02%, Th: 84.08%
Armor Resists - EM: 66.00%, Ex: 23.50%, Ki: 36.25%, Th: 44.75%
Capacitor (Stable at 25.88%)
This fit has increased my active shield tank by 35% and is cap stable while mining. If I wanted a mining upgrade or cargo expander, I could exchange the Flux Coil for it. That would actually raise my EHP 10% but drop my recharge rate nearly 20%. If I wanted to live dangerously, I'd drop the Damage Control II and go with another cargo expansion.

If the ship had more low slots, I could have it all but that would be too much. We industrialists still need to make the choice - tank or profit. That's industrial risk. Isn't that what CCP's all hot on right now? Risk happens when a choice is made. The choice should be mine and not CCPs. I like it that way a lot better.

This empowerment only requires a power grid increase from 45 to 65 on my Hulk. It's not a huge amount. That even makes sense from a ship role perspective. It's an industrial ship that crushes rocks and extracts valuable ore. It should have massive amounts of power. Heck, if CCP gave it the  power grid a professional rock crusher should have, I'd swap the medium shield extender for a large. That'd give me 42k EHP and that's certainly plenty of tank. Perhaps I'd have to turn off my strip miners to get the power back. I'm good with that.

But all this isn't even necessary. All this dev time could have been used on something else. CCP could do two easy things to eliminate most ganking instead of all these hard things. The first thing they could do is eliminate all loot from a ganked non-combat ship. Shooting a paper cup with a bazooka leaves nothing. That is what the ganker should get - nothing.

The second thing CCP could do is automatically pay platinum insurance (plus clone fees if podded) on the lost industrial and recoup that amount straight from the ganker's wallet - even if it puts them negative. You see, I don't really care if a ganker's security rating takes a hit. That's between them and CONCORD and they wear it like a badge anyway. I want them to feel it where I feel it most - in the wallet.

Just those two changes would solve the thing everyone publicly identifies as the problem. Of course, that probably isn't the problem CCP is trying to fix at all. I'm not convinced this has anything to do with gankers. But that's a subject for a later post.

What this post is about is how CCP could implement industrial ship changes and address all the ganker tears... I mean - valid concerns - brought out in the Barge Fairy Tale post. I think increasing middle slots, power and capacitor sans shield boosts does that nicely - without turning Mackinaws into Mackinuts that are too hard to crack.

Fly careful.