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Friday, November 30, 2012

Restribution

No, that's not a misspelling in the title. It's a play on words. Why? Well, because the up coming "expansion" is not really an expansion but it certainly does contain just about everything left what needs iterationalizing. That's not a real word either but it relays what I need it to. And after reading through that long, long list I want to say, good job CCP! You seem to have left very few stones unturned in this iteration of the iteration expansions. It seems the many stones you have turned have been carefully considered too. I see evidence of this when I read dev posts that say things like,
"Yup. The immunity of corp hangars (and other special bays) to scans and their inability to drop loot was a neat workaround, but it was also essentially unfinished functionality, rather than an intentional feature. We recognize the need for secure hauling in the current environment, hence the scan immunity on blockade runners, but feel that the way it's being provided currently is unintuitive and clunky, and that the "safe hauling" capacity on Orcas is unnecessarily large. Blockade runners should pick up the slack on high-value, low-volume items, while for higher-volume shipments, we're leaving it up to players to figure out how to handle the new situation."
The emphasis is mine. I love it when reasons for doing something are so plainly stated without a hint of remorse because it was a GOOD decision. And BTW, I used that no scan hold almost exclusively in high-sec to avoid gankers so this affects me greatly. Yet I still think it's a good decision. I agree with CCP Greyscale, this should have been the role of the Blockade Runner not the Industrial Command Ship. Kudos to CCP Greyscale and the team!

All that said, I hope this is the last iteration oriented update. Don't get me wrong, it was great when Crucible came along. Gods know how many things needed tweaked, fixed, and fiddled with because they just weren't working as intended. Unfortunately so much of that sort of thing had built up during the epoch of the killer-feature expansions one single iteration update was not enough. This is the third (!) but I think there is finally light at the end of this fix-it tunnel.

Some areas still need some developer love to be sure. Sovereignty is possibly one of them as several other bloggers have pointed out. But null-sec is what it is. Sovereignty grinding is what it is. Is it boring? Yes, it is. Is it necessary? Yes, it is. As Stabs said in his latest post, "structure grinding is about where it should be so people don't lose their hard-won space too quickly or too trivially." Changing it to become easier because it better suits certain people's disposition is no reason to make a change - especially if it adversely affects another. Can you imagine what it would be like if citizens could change Constitutions the way some EVE players want major game mechanics changed?

No, CCP needs to take a very cautions approach to how they change something like sovereignty mechanics.  They tried it once before and arguably caused more issues than they resolved from what I've read. But since I'm not an expert on the subject, I'll stop here. CCP just needs to proceed very cautiously is all I put forward.

And, while they are pondering their next iteration and proceeding very cautiously, they can put all those devs to work on something new! After the last 18 months of iterations and fixes, I find myself jonesing for some newness in EVE. It's not that I'm bored with the old stuff. There is much of it I haven't even tried yet. But I'm tired of the status quo. I want something on the lines of Apocrypha, which ushered in worm holes and an entirely new way to live and die in New Eden. There have been some ideas bandied about in blogging circles already.

TurAmarth over on A Carbon Based Life has blogged a lot recently about walking in stations and what that could mean to EVE Online. I too would love to see a first person shooter expansion to EVE Online. If variety is the spice of life, our current set of spices in EVE Online are all herbs (if you don't see the analogy it means all our game play options revolve around some type of ship based activity - PI is the only exception.) I'd like to see some other types of spices added to the recipe!

Today on Stabbed Up, Stabs outlined an idea for an expansion with a null-sec theme. I like this idea too. I'd just ask CCP to place the gateways very carefully. I recommended faction warfare systems in Stabs comments. I also recommend a power requirement that has to come from a planet based power station so that DUST 514 players have to be involved to make it work. Both these are to prevent any current large alliance from taking over the gate system and becoming EVE's highwaymen.

I know there have been others. I invite any blogger reading this to post a link to their idea in the comments and tell us a little bit about it. If you are not a blogger but have an idea, leave that in the comments as well. I'm curious to know what players might like to see in an Apocrypha type expansion. What new worm hole level feature would you like to see come to EVE Online?

Fly Careful

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Last Night was Relaxing

Last night we relaxed - well, as much as you can relax in a wormhole. We did a little of this.
While Spiral and I worked on the Arkonor 'roid, Tur kept a lookout and spammed d-scan. It's always a risk, but it has to be done because... well it just has to be done. Why do other pilots take out Rifters hoping for the 1v1 GF? Chances are they will be thrashed at a gate camp but they do it anyways. It's no different for miners. At least we can realize a little profit from our venture.

Anyway, I was a little late to the party and only got in three runs. Oddly enough, I hadn't actually refined ore at our POS so wanted to see what my rates would look like. Tur put the Medium Intensive Refining Array online and I loaded some Arkonor into it and hit frappe.

It processed 1400 units of Arkonor in 90 minutes with no direct indication of yield or feedback of any sort. It is completely different than high-sec stations that's for certain. It's a good thing most industrialists don't suffer from immediate gratification issues. I returned after the 90 minute refining period and found this waiting for me.
A 200 unit batch of Arkonor, if perfectly refined, yields 333 Megacyte, 166 Zydrine and 300 Tritanium. Extrapolating for a 1400 unit batch would yield 2331 Megacyte, 1162 Zydrine and 2100 Tritanium - perfectly refined. Yeah, 75% efficiency sucks, but it's better than hauling it out to refine just to haul it back in to make shit with. You might as well hang a gank me sign on your bow if your going to do that.

Fly Careful

(NOTE: Due to RL 12 hour days for the next two weeks posts will be lighter and more sporadic.)

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Requested: C3 PvE Ship Advise

Last night was a good night. The entire corporation was online. We cleaned hole - which is like cleaning house but sometimes more dangerous. We fleeted up and took out the four standard anomalies and the two radar sites that had popped up since the last cleaning.

The anomalies were business as usual. Our fleet was (mostly) active armor fit consisting of two standard battleships, a Navy Issue battleship and two Marauders. We sliced through the sleepers in The Oruze Construct site, the Solar Cell and the two Fortification Frontier Strongholds in short order. Then we turned our attention to the two radar sites.

The first radar site we ran is (arguably) the most dangerous C3 site. The Unsecured Frontier Database has a first and last wave that includes scramming frigates. They are true SOBs and the DPS of the other ships is formidable. My current Megathron does okay though it can't tank all the DPS for long and with a targeting range of only 96 kilometers has a little trouble with standoff. Our fleet commander, Strigon, did an excellent job keeping us at range through the first three waves but he had to advance to draw aggro putting him 30 kilometers closer in. That may not seem like much, but it can be a galaxy away when you pull full aggro and are scrammed to boot. Battleships are so sloooooooooow.

I'd like to extend my standoff and take full advantage of the Spike advanced ammo I always carry. However, I am not going to do that with a standard Megathron. I'd have to sacrifice either tank or give up being cap stable to do so and neither option fits our fleet doctrine. And before you go pointing out to me there are other fleet doctrines, like RR T3 cruisers, I have to say that's not my call. You are welcome to tell me all about it (because one day I may have my own fleet doctrine *wink*) but right now my ship needs to be cap stable and armor tanked.

So, to that end I need to make a decision. What ship will do what I want and also comply with fleet doctrine? I have, of course, gone to EveHQ Fitter and come up with a couple of choices that would work. Here's what I'm currently looking at (ignore utility highs as I swap them depending on mission:)
[Megathron Navy Issue]
7x 425mm Railgun II (Spike L)
Core Probe Launcher II (Sisters Core Scanner Probe) 
3x Cap Recharger II
Sensor Booster II (Targeting Range Script) 
Damage Control II
Large Armor Repairer II
3x Energized Adaptive Nano Membrane II
Energized Explosive Membrane II
2x Capacitor Power Relay II 
2x Large Nanobot Accelerator I
Large Auxiliary Nano Pump I 
[Statistics - Mabrick]
Effective HP: 109,195 (Eve: 100,667)
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 (Stable at 32.46%)
Volley Damage: 1,536.80
DPS: 223.27
This ship is basically my current Sleeper PvE fit with a Cap Recharger II traded for a range boosting SEBO and the extra low slot of the Navy version used for a Cap Power Relay II to keep it cap stable (and neut resistant.) The DPS and active tank are the same as my current Megathron but the Navy version comes with 30% more EHP. That keeps it well within fleet doctrine. The range scripted SEBO lets me target out to a very, very nice 145 kilometers. That's nearly at optimal range for Spike! *LOL*
[Kronos] 
4x 425mm Railgun II (Spike L)
Core Probe Launcher II (Sisters Core Scanner Probe)
Small Tractor Beam II
Salvager II 
4x Cap Recharger II 
Damage Control II
2x Large Armor Repairer II
Energized Explosive Membrane II
2x Energized Adaptive Nano Membrane II
Capacitor Power Relay II 
2x Large Auxiliary Nano Pump I 
[Statistics - Mabrick]
Effective HP: 80,396 (Eve: 73,127)
Tank Ability: 887.67 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: 60.63%, Th: 38.75%
Armor Resists - EM: 74.44%, Ex: 71.26%, Ki: 75.08%, Th: 70.92%
Capacitor (Stable at 24.44%)
Volley Damage: 1,756.34
DPS: 255.16
This ship does not quite reach out as far as the Navy Issue fit above, but 108 kilometers is still a considerable increase over my current targeting range. This ship also has an EHP only slightly better than the standard Megathron but it has TWICE the active tank and does more DPS - and it's still neut resistant too. There is also the option of dropping the second large repper and doing the same SEBO Cap Power Relay fit as above. That gets me the range (174 km!) but strays a bit from the Krono's strengths. I've read you should always fit to a ship's strength in several places so believe it. If I was willing to drop a EANM II for the second large repper II it might be a good compromise, but I don't have the necessary PvE experience to say anything definitive about it. Part of our fleet doctrine is 70% or better resists but I'd fudge on that a bit for the range. *grin* It's considerably more expensive than the Navy Issue but this ship can solo smaller sites should I elect to accept the risk inherent in a WH with that decision.

What do you think? Which way would you go? Does the "compromise" Kronos fit make sense? Do you have a fit you think is better? Don't restrict yourself to Gallente ships either. I can fly all race's battleships (except Minmatar but I will correct that by the end of next weekend) so feel free to post any PvE battleship fit you've got in your archives. I really would like to see them for educational purposes if none other. Thanks!

Fly Careful

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thankfulness

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day here in the United States. It is a day when we reflect on all the things for which we are thankful. No one ever said our Pilgrim forefathers were an overly creative lot. As Rixx has already done, I am dedicating this post to those things within EVE Online for which I am thankful. Without further adieu here it is.

Hiigaran Bounty Hunters Inc. [HBHI]

I started EVE Online as a lone-wolf miner. Then I became a lone-wolf industrialist. That's just the way I am. It is, however, not the only way I am. Like most humans, I have a wider range of social personas that I can apply as I like. However, independence and self-sufficiency are still high on my list at all times. HBHI has given me the opportunity to not only fly with a great group of capsuleers, but they have allowed me to keep my independence as well. Most nights I log on and am the busy lone-wolf industrialist. Then there are those other nights when we fleet up and head out to take care of other business. It seems I have my cake and can eat it too. It doesn't get any better than that.

Anyone who has ever left a comment on this blog.

Though I am thankful people actually read this blog, it is primarily and always for my own enjoyment. And one of the things I very much enjoy is reading comments. I may not respond to all of them, but I do read all of them. Most give me interesting points of view to think about. Points of view that are typically alien to my independent carebear psyche. It broadens me as a player and a person to read differing points of view or even similar points if view with a different raison d'etre. I am not the same person I was when I started and that is both unusual for a game to cause and somewhat surprising in hindsight: way cool.

Goonswarm

In any space opera, there must be a protagonist and an antagonist or the story doesn't work. In other words, there is no Star Wars without Darth Vadar. Perhaps the best thing that happened to me this year was Goonswarm's war declaration. Most of what's happened since then resulted from their disagreements to what I wrote about the Mittani. At the time, I was not terribly pleased with the action. Hindsight has shown it to be a watershed event. It opened up possibilities for Mabrick that he never saw coming (see above and others.) I have to be thankful for that as disconcerted as I am at the thought.

The EVE Blogging Community

What a great group of authors, journalists and commentators; I am thankful to every one of you for equal parts inspiration, competition and support. Keep up the excellent work!

My Sweetheart (last but certainly NOT least)

She has not owned a television for 20+ years nor does she watch mine. She does not play computer games. She has a laptop because it's the best word processor and gives her access to her beloved web comics but it's not for gaming. She'd rather play scrabble or wallop me in a game of Hand and Foot. Yet  every night she watches as I retreat to my man cave to spend hours online that I could spend with her quietly reading. There are times I know she resents this and occasionally she will even tell me so. But she would rather me do all the things I enjoy and be happy than not. There is not enough gratitude in the world to express how awesome that is.

There are other people and things for which I am thankful, in fact this could be a very long post - but who really wants that? Five is certainly enough with which to take up your day. As a last request though, think about what you are thankful for having when it comes to EVE Online. Make a comment about it if you like. I'll be certain to read it.

And finally, I wish you all a very happy and safe Thanksgiving.

Mabrick - Fly Careful

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Secret of my "Success" - for new players to consider.

According to EVE HQ, I have actively played EVE Online for 95 days, 22 hours and 27 minutes total. That averages out to just over 1.18 hours a session. It really isn't all that much, but I've have logged on a total of 1950 times to date. There have been 1702 days since I first interfaced with a ship. I have played practically every day since I joined up - especially my first year.

What's more, I am not one of those types who log into EVE and watches a movie or a football game at the same time. When I play, I am playing. That is what I have chosen to do with that hour or so. I try and get the most out of it.

I'll also add that I played for 365 days before I lost my first ship (a Hulk, my first Hulk in fact.) to PvP. Actually, I lost it due to stupidity, complacency and greed but I've already blogged about that so I'll skip it. You can read about the incident here if you like. The reason I mention it again is I think that's a long time for a noob to go without running afoul of other players.

I don't mention all this "just because." There is a reason why I went so long, logging in every day, without getting into trouble. Here are the key behaviors that allowed me to learn EVE Online without getting turned off by the utter harshness it can deal out.
  1. Mind your own damn business! - This is number one for a good reason. If you mind your own business, you will avoid the majority of noob-killing scams out there. By minding your own business, they can't lure you in.
  2. T.A.N.S.T.A.A.F.L. - Thank you Robert Heinlein. If you don't know this stands for "there ain't no such thing as a free lunch" you've lead a sheltered life. Take this acronym to heart. There is no free ammo in a can. There is no "leaving Eve and giving away all my ISK" philanthropist.
  3. Paranoia will not destroy you but griefers will. - Be paranoid the entire time you are in space. Constantly evaluate what the other players around you are doing. If a war ship shows up in your belt and does not immediately start mining (something of the past there I think, may not happen today) then they are up to no good. If they approach, dock up. You are always better safe than sorry.
  4. Don't give them what they want. - Stay away from those that are acting out. If you are bumped, ignore it. They can't hurt you just bumping you. They want a reaction. The only reaction you should give them is to move to another belt if necessary. If they follow you, move again. If they follow you a third time, petition against them for harassment if you like but say nothing. Do not egg them on by mouthing off  because that is what they want.
  5. Don't talk trash. - Humility is a shield booster. They may not need a reason to shoot you, but you shouldn't give them one either. Be smart, keep your opinions and retorts to yourself.
  6. Stay in an NPC corporation. - the taxes are not nearly as high as replacing your best mining barge. Put up with the taxes. Avoid war declarations at all costs. 
  7. Don't sell your last barge. - Avoid the temptation to fund your new barge with the sell price of your last barge. Keep your last barge as a backup and don't strip it. When I lost my Hulk, I still had my Covetor fully fitted and waiting. How much worse would it have been to not only lose my best ship, but then to have to buy a new one and all its fittings to replace it? You should always have at least one backup ship.
  8. Stay in high-sec. - At least until you know what you want to do and can take care of yourself. 
This is how I stayed safe. This is how I managed to go a year before losing a ship. To date, that is my most expensive ship loss. Minimizing that type of revenue drain is key to being a successful industrialists. You'll take enough risk on the market, don't take those you don't need to.

That all said, this is oriented toward a lone-wolf miner play style. You may not want to be a lone-wolf miner. I can't really help you with that unfortunately. You only get to be a noob once and I spent my time chewing on 'roids and avoiding trouble.

However, there is something I can do. If you are reading this blog and are over a year old, consider using the comments below to list the things that helped you most during your first year. I'll do a simple compilation and put a perma-link on Mabrick's Mumblings to it. Maybe we can help future noobs that way. Deal?

Fly Careful



Friday, November 16, 2012

You must save the thing you love one noob at a time.

Rick C, who has commented here before, left this comment on my last blog post and I'd like to discuss it a bit.
"Been following the last few posts with interest. As I've commented before, I'm a newer player with a year under my belt now......and I find myself bored. The real life friends who got me into the game have gone down the bitter vet path, and I've been off playing other games since most of my corp is AFK. 
In a year's time I have: 
-Spent a month learning the game alone.
-Started playing with friends in their low sec corp. Found I was too new to be of help, and of course was told to get a Drake to be of use.
-Left the low sec PVP corp and learned the meta game with a few RL friends.
-Rejoined a low sec corp to help with Indy and POS maintenance.
-Spent hours orbiting gates waiting for that 30 second excitement that rarely came.
-Was at war for a few months and always told to remain docked up if my corpmates (different time zone) weren't on. So I was docked up.
-Went off and made my own Indy corp after experiencing the extreme boredom of war with a mostly EU timezone corp.
-Put up both hi sec and low sec POS's that I still maintain with my corp mates.

At this point with real life, new job, etc I just don't find the time to put in any longer. I log in a few times a week, deal with PI, occasionally deal with our low sec Cobalt moon POS, then log off.  
Recently some former allies needed a hand as they had been war dec'd and needed to rep their POS. So, I came to help guard their fleet, and found myself sitting idle for nearly an hour. Yup, bored. 
I don't know if I'll continue with Eve, but it's interesting to read that there seems to be a drop off in interest beyond myself."
If I had a million ISK for every time I've read or heard this story I'd be Greedy Goblin rich. His bullet points encompass much of what is wrong with EVE Online from the new player perspective. From the learning cliff indicated in the first bullet to the admonition that he should stay docked up because they were at war, I feel that Rick has gotten a rough deal every step of the way.

Is this CCP's fault? Do they have to fix this? It's easy to say "it is" and "they must." The truth is, it isn't entirely their fault. Much of the blame rests on Rick's friends who brought him into the game. To be brutally honest, they're not great friends in my book. They hung him out to dry.

We all know what CCP can do to help this issue. We've asked them, and they've tried, to lower the learning curve for new players. We've asked them time and again for PvE content that is engaging and fun for single players. To be honest though, I can't tell CCP what meets that need. I'm not sure it's even possible with the way EVE Online is.

That leaves it squarely in our lap to resolve. This is something I believe CCP has come to realize as well. The structure of EVE is such that it really does take a village. We've striven to "make EVE real" but we failed to understand real life communities lavish special attention on their children. We teach them how to function in the community. That is the role of the grown ups and it is something we as veteran EVE players fail to do time after time.

I have this to say to every bitter vet out there. If you want EVE to be real you must make it real in every sense of the word. If you want EVE to succeed, you must make it succeed. In a real community, we punish those who prey on children; not celebrate them. In a real community, we safeguard our young and teach them what they need to know to be contributing members of the community. They are our future and noobs in EVE Online are no different in that respect.

There are many in EVE who strive to do exactly this. We should all be more like them if we really want EVE to last another decade. CCP alone cannot do this. Not with the behemoth they've created. Not with the gritty, harsh, and unforgiving virtual reality we've asked them to give us.

To Rick and every other new player out there looking for a place to play EVE without being bored or shafted, I recommend you look into EVE University. If they are not your play style, you can look here for other organizations.

If anyone reading this is new to EVE and has a question, feel free to contact me and I'll help as I can. In fact, I think most members of the EVE blogging community would. Just ask us. We are a resource and you should use our combined knowledge of the game to assist you. If you run across someone who is new, point them in my direction. I don't mind. Just don't let them hang.

Almost a year ago I accused vets of killing the thing they love one noob at a time. There is a corollary to that premise. The rest of us must save the thing we love one noob at a time. It is a responsibility we've shirked long enough don't you think?

Fly Careful

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Definition of Community is not Blog

blog /blôg/ Noun: A Web site on which an individual or group of users record opinions, information, etc. on a regular basis.
Originally, blog was weblog. Constant use has shortened the word already. It is a digital diary where a person writes down a series of entries in a chronological fashion. It is an individual effort maintained for individual reasons. My blog is selfish in that way as are all other blogs that fit the original definition. That is not a negative thing. It merely is.

In the beginning, blogs were not written primarily for fame or popularity, though that was never unwelcome. They were for personal edification, and the chance to record profound thoughts. But mostly they were done to write. Writing is its own reward. A writer writes. I have heard that many, many times from writers, their agents and their publishers. An author is a writer who never quit. I have also heard the only difference between a writer and an author is royalty.

Should someone value what you write enough, they will give you money for it. But this is only a secondary consideration for the author. It pays the bills, and to that end, allows the author to continue writing. That is what they truly want. But if the money were not to come, even if the writer were starving, she would still write. That is the nature of the art.

This is not the nature of journalists, who also use words but do it primarily for the money. Take the money away and most journalists will find another profession. If they don't, they were closet writers denying their nature. This happens from time to time because writing isn't always a wholly accepted way to earn a living in some families but I digress.

In our community, there are writers and there are journalists. I am not going to tell you who is which. I don't care. It is unimportant to me because I am a writer. All that matters is that I write. And I know there are others out there who feel the same way. Because of them, because of the writers among us, the EVE blogosphere will not die until the reason for the blogs end. So long as one of us plays, and writes, it lives. Whether others read it or not is irrelevant. It was never really for you dear reader - though I'm glad you've come along.

But the EVE community has grown beyond such simple needs. It needs more than just a collection of writers expounding on the esoteric thoughts we've come to call meta-game. There are now journalists in the community. There are politicians too. Sometimes they are one and the same. There is government of a sort. We even have our criminals after a fashion. And most importantly, we have members of our community who simply go about their daily lives unconcerned about the blogs or the politics; hoping not to run into the criminals. They are like the family man who gets up every morning, goes to work, pays his bills on time and spends every spare moment with his kids because he knows they'll grow up way to fast and in a few years the opportunity will be gone.

In short, we have become a real community in practically every sense of the word. We celebrate with those who have things worth celebrating. Some of us protest - vehemently at times. We grieve when we lose one of our own. We wish for simpler times past. We have hope for the future. EVE has become real in ways we didn't expect all those years ago.

I live in this community and write a blog. The Mittani lives in this community for other reasons; Riverini too. Some who lived here before have moved. Some are on sabbatical. Others have found new jobs within this community rather than leave. We've also welcomed new residents with open arms. The community abides.
com·mu·ni·ty /kəˈmyo͞onitē/ Noun: 1) A group of people living together in one place, esp. one practicing common ownership: "a community of nuns". 2) All the people living in a particular area or place: "local communities".
I will keep blogging. I hope all my fellow community members continue on their own paths unabated. And in the course of things, change will come. It always does. This is not anything to fear. It is the proper evolution of community.

The only caveat is this. We must have something to keep us gainfully occupied or we will move to another community, one with better prospects. That is what people do. Without growth, EVE will become a ghost town. And growth we have not had, only status quo, for 18 months while CCP repairs the infrastructure. At a subconscious level I believe we all know this is not a good thing. Perhaps that is what we are all sensing.

Fly Carefully

Monday, November 12, 2012

A Case Study for EVE Free to Play?

I am going to break with my normal EVE oriented topics and do one that is only tangentially EVE related. There has been much discussion concerning whether EVE should remain subscription based or if it should be free-to-play (F2P.)

In my last post, I mentioned that microtransactions (MT) would be necessary to keeping EVE Online relevant in the next decade. We seem to think MT is only possible if the game is F2P, but Fluffy Hyena dispelled that notion straight away. He pointed out the correct math involved:

MT <> F2P ...but... F2P = MT

That speaks to the need to have a profit generating capability in F2P more than the actual relationship of MT to anything. It is completely possible to have a subscription based game with MT. But in the next decade, that is a losing business model IMO.

That was made abundantly clear to me this weekend. What changed? I decided to try a little F2P. Normally I am a one game person. That isn't because I don't love gaming. It's because I love the other things in my life like my family, my RL friends and my other hobbies too. But if I was going to write something like, "If CCP doesn't - EVE is dead. Given a choice of free-to-play or buying a subscription for a new game, which would you choose?" I needed to be damn certain that is how I'd feel.

I needed a test. I needed a game as Sci-Fi as possible because anything else would be a different kind of fruit. I needed something F2P. That really only left me with one choice.
It isn't Internet spaceships, but it is Sci-Fi with a future history, tons of back story and a large fan base. I know I'm one. I played every Mechwarrior game through IV. The 1990s was my Mech stomping decade. It was only the advent of the MMORPG, and my one game at a time philosophy, that separated me from my beloved Catapult.

Now Mechwarrior is back and in the medium that I've grown to love over the most recent decade past. And guess what, it was worth the wait. It was free to sign up for an account the creation of which was no more difficult than getting a Google Account or an Apple ID. It was free to download. It was free to fire up and dive right in. From desire to play to live action with 15 other human driven Mechs it was a 30 minute non-ordeal. Using standard keyboard controls (awsd, etc.) I was in my Mech dealing death!

So what does this mean to EVE Online? Well, how Mechwarrior Online (MWO) does F2P is very much like how Dust 514 F2P is done. You get a free account and perfectly serviceable Mechs. I got four to start with, one in each Mech class. My heavy was a Catapult!

But it was standard fit Catapult. It was not the fit of my beloved Catapult from the 90s. To get that, I would need to grind c-bills or I could just throw some real money on the table and go straight to buying my own Mechs. There are pros and cons. With a "training" Mech I get free repairs, and boy howdy did I need them. I can't customize them either. They don't suck, they just force me into a certain play style. I mostly intercept Gauss cannon projectiles on their way to customized Mechs. Actually, I'm rusty as hell and need lots more practice. With a little practice and good tactics, the training Mechs are quite capable.

This is how I see a F2P EVE Online working. It's not that you get restricted to small ship classes. As you train the skills you will get a free ship, and free repairs, and even free replacement - this is EVE we are talking about after all. These ships will work. But they will be standard fit. They won't be glorious.

You could have entire blobs made of these standard ships and they could roll over everyone given enough of them. But you'll have to grind ISK to buy "better" ships. Those that are specialized for particular roles. Also, these purchased ships will be the skinnable ones. The "training" ships will have standard hull configurations: no customization allowed remember.

Or, if you hate grinding, you can use PLEX to get straight to them. That's not pay-to-win (P2W.) That's pay to get your ass handed to you because you don't know how to fly it. I saw one of those last night on MWO. It was a customized Catapult of all things and it was totally owned by a Jenner. Oh, and you'll have to pay for repairs. When it goes pop, you'll have to buy a new one. That's the model for MWO and it's a good one for EVE Online. I am willing to bet that Star Citizen and Elite: Dangerous will be the same way.

The hardest thing for CCP will be what to do with us, the capsuleers who have dedicated years of our lives to becoming the EVE pilots we are. Would it be fair for CCP to strip away our wealth of ships and modules? Would it be fair to let us keep that advantage over new players? What do you think?

Fly Careful

Friday, November 9, 2012

Keeping EVE Online Relevant in the Coming Decade

The holidays are rapidly approaching. This is traditionally the season for gift exchanges. We already know what we are getting this year from CCP. Retribution is the name of the game. And it is true that some of what is in Retribution I have wanted for some time. But it isn't even close to enough to keep most player's interest long term. That's kind of the way it's been for a year now.

It seems to have caused a general malaise within the EVE community. I made comment on it with my last post. A lively discussion kicked up on that post on whether interest in EVE Online was declining. EN24 picked it up on syndication and the discussion continues there unabated  One thing is certain, the numbers are inconclusive but my gut tells me the decline is real. One fact folks bantered about was the reality EVE is 10 years old next May. It is a bit long in the tooth and wears its age poorly in this new decade.

New games like Elite: Dangerous and Star Citizen will soon start development. What can CCP do to rejuvenate EVE Online and meet these upstarts head on with overheated blasters? Reading through the descriptions on Kickstart for both new projects, they look good but lack the breadth of possibility that is in EVE Online. In this post, I want to touch on some of those possibilities. These are the ones I think CCP needs to shore up/enhance/create in order to fend off the coming competition.

Walking in Stations

Stop, just stop; get over your Incarna prejudice you bitter old vet. That rebellion was more about CCP not listening to players on what was broken in EVE than it ever was about full body avatars. But I do not mention this because I want to lounge around some virtual bar in high-sec. I want CCP to combine Dust 514 tech with EVE Online tech and create fighting in stations! That's right, dock your ship and fight the bastards hand to hand. Every corridor becomes a battlefield. Every hatch becomes a portcullis. They have taken the first step with this concept in Dust. When Dust goes into null-sec, planets will no longer automatically switch loyalties with sovereignty. Mercenaries will have to conquer them. The same needs to happen with stations and outposts. CCP cannot port this to another demographic of players. This needs to be capsuleer stuff in order to keep people interested in EVE. Without EVE, the rest fails.

Microtransactions

There's that Incarna prejudice rearing its ugly head again. And again, that rebellion was more about the (mistaken?) assumption that EVE was going pay-to-win rather than simply pay-to-shine. Anyone who follows the gaming industry knows microtransaction business models trump subscription based business models hands down when done properly. Many of you have already proven this. How's that you ask? What's your cyno alt for? What's your scout alt for? They allow your main character to be more successful. You already participate in pay-to-win you ninny. Let's stop the posturing and the fear mongering and get down to business. Having zero barrier to game entry is the best way to get new players. Free trials are still too much effort and 21 days are not enough time to grok EVE Online. Custom ship skins will help CCP make the lost revenue back IMO. There is demand for that aplenty. I know I'd buy them. The only question would be whether they were expensive and permanent or inexpensive and blown up with the ship. I'd lean toward that second one myself. Not because greed IS good, but it provides a more constant cash flow and that is good for business. It also broadens the demographic of those that can afford them. Lastly, the upstarts are going to be using the free-to-play model. If CCP doesn't - EVE is dead. Given a choice of free-to-play or buying a subscription for a new game, which would you choose?

Eliminate Time Dilation

More accurately, this should be "eliminate the need for time dilation." I just wanted to get some blobber blood hot with a sensationalistic title. This is a tall order. The capital investment in hardware alone may be out of CCP's reach. However, if they could create a playing experience for giant fleet fights as quick paced and action packed as a first person shooter, they would have a real winner IMO. Currently they are at an unhappy compromise. No one really likes the system but it is better than crashing the node or worse, stalling it out so some get their actions carried out and others wake in clone vats. If you think about all the epic EVE videos you love to watch, you know the ones, the movie trailer like videos that have been heavily edited to remove the lag - that is what CCP is selling. That is not what they are delivering. That fact adds tarnish to EVE like fingertips on silver. For those that aspire to this...
...time dilation has to go.

Right of Refusal

This is my pet desire and doesn't hold the promise of the others but I have to mention it. I'm an industrialist after all. Let's say I am in a single person corporation. Let's say my big mouth tends to get me in trouble. Let's say the largest corporation in the game declares war against me. I am not a PvPer. I will never win that sort of war. But I have friends. Why can't we boycott this corporation? I don't mean stop buying stuff from them, though that would be shiny. I mean stop selling stuff to them. Far fetched? Okay, forget the war stuff. Let's say they simply start ganking ice miners while simultaneously buying all the isotopes on the market. They are going to corner it. How do you stop that? You reverse embargo them! Some ice will still get to the station. To stop the market play you need to restrict who can buy your isotopes; exclude the manipulators. They can gank all they want, but it will lose them ISK because the market now has teeth of its own. When it comes to market manipulation you can certainly fight fire with fire, but halon is much more effective.

What else do you think CCP could do to move EVE Online into the next decade?

Fly Careful

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Is Interest in EVE Online Declining?

This is going to be short and sweet because #work and #RL are in my face and giving me attitude. Too bad you can't alpha that, eh?

So, every time I log into EVE Online I always take note of how many players are online. This is for two reasons primarily. One is to gauge the general chance of running into hostiles. The fewer people online, the lower the chance. The second is to gauge of the general subscriber level for our beloved game.

This works because I log into EVE about the same time every day. I keep a fairly regular schedule. Lately I've noticed the online player total declining. That always makes me wonder if EVE is losing it's appeal. That is especially worrisome to me right now, as I know of no big game releases that could be competing with EVE. That doesn't mean there isn't one, just not one I know about.

Anecdotally, it seems to me that blog posts have declined in general as well. There just doesn't seem to be as many of them as there used to be. A few blogs have gone dark even. That always makes me sad.

To get a better insight into this perceived decline in numbers, I need to know what the past online numbers are. However, I'm not nearly squared away enough to write down the total every night. That's where EVE-Offline comes in. This web site will tell you everything you ever wanted to know about player counts from the very first days of EVE Online (March 16, 2006 to be exact) to today.

The Tranquility page holds the answer to my question. Indeed, online user totals seem to have declined a bit over the past 3 months. The numbers have not recovered from the yearly summer slump - in fact they have gotten slightly worse. I wonder what everyone's doing?

Fly Careful

Monday, November 5, 2012

How's the Weather?

One term I learned early in my wormhole life is "weather." When one wormholer asks another, "How's the weather?" she refers to spatial anomalies that affect ship systems in some wormholes. They range from the exotic Magnetar to the more mundane but no less influential Red Giant. For instance, a Black Hole has the following effects on ship systems:
This is, IMO, one of the coolest things CCP developers have written into EVE Online. Living in a country blessed by frequent Aurora Borealis may have influenced their decision to include weather in wormholes. That is sheer speculation on my part, but I know I'd be inspired.

These aurora are the result of atmospheric turbulence on the sun. A few days ago our own smallish and relatively well behaved star blew off three Coronal Mass Ejections (CME) in the just a few hours. Here is a timelapse GIF from Spaceweather.com (excellent site!) of the event:
The least of these CME cause intense aurora within the Earth's magnetic field as the charged particles from them interact with our planet's atmosphere. The worst CME can burn out satellites and even cause power outages on the surface of the planet. In the 1850's, the largest CME ever noted was so large it caused telegraph operators to suffer serious electrical burns and miners in Colorado got up and went to work in the middle of the night because the aurora were so bright they thought the sun had come up.

And that got me thinking. Why couldn't the devs program something like this into EVE Online? They already have the code for module effects from wormhole weather. They already have a random generator system in place for incursions. In my admittedly non-expert view of things, could they not also put in place a system of solar effects that are random (mostly but more on that in a moment) and last only a few days?

One of the things I've always wished didn't happen in EVE is "perfect fit" syndrome. In real life, there is rarely a "best" fit. Every situation is dynamic. There are no assurances that the car model that saved your life in the head on collision last time will do so again. Having an environment in EVE that could render a Drake worse than a Brutix for a time would be very interesting. Taking your DPS monster and yanking it's claws would keep you on your toes. FCs would have to take system effects into account and if you're roaming the fit you leave with might not be best should you jump into an affected system.

Wouldn't it be exciting if you log into your home system one day and, due to a CME, your shields are lit up like a Christmas Tree or your sensors hampered. Or the reverse could happen and your sensor strength increase. Missile guidance might fail. Tracking computers could blitz out. Nanites might get more of what they need to repair your armor.

The effects the CME has on a ship could be taken directly from the existing weather tables or CCP could develop new ones. Either way, it really would make combat more interesting not knowing exactly how your fit would work under such conditions.

And as I said earlier, this temporary weather would be mostly random. I could see intense mining operations raising the chances of a CME. As mining fleets remove asteroids and the gravity they assert, tidal effects on the star could trigger a CME. I'd also like to see the chances of a CME go up in reaction to the intense energy exchanges of large fleet battles. Heavy cyno use might also trigger them more frequently  All of these things could affect the pure randomness of the CME.

Lastly, seeing them happen in in real time as an operation was ongoing would be awesome, but that would be a very difficult piece of programming - I think. Still, if CCP could pull it off, it sure would make fleet fights an interesting proposition should the Maelstrom blob suddenly see their DPS cut in half or the Drakes shield capacitors start to drain at an accelerated rate [queue maniacal laughter.]

So, if CCP were to introduce temporary weather in "normal" solar systems, what sort of effects would you like to see? Is this something that would make EVE more real? Would it make EVE more interesting and fun? How would it affect your game?

Fly Careful

Friday, November 2, 2012

Lesson of the Year

Many of my fellow non-carebear type bloggers have pointed out that undocking from the station in Eve Online is permission to PvP. There are no toggles a player can use to avoid PvP. It simply is the way of Eve Online. If you are a capsuleer and do not realize no place is safe in New Eden, then you are either less than 24 hours old or are completely in denial. The fact is you are a target no matter where you are.

This is not so different from real life. Every day we read stories of people who wake up, go to work and never come home. At some point during the day, someone else ends their life. They could live in the "safest" of communities. They could even be an invited guest in such a community, walking home minding their own business and some ignorant asshole with a gun and a prejudice against hoodies will just blow them away. It happens. That's real life.

Yet some of those same bloggers have lamented about how hard it is to get a GF. They go on roams and no one wants to fight them. It gets so bad they decide they need to grief certain corporations out of the region just so they can get a GF. Is it really that difficult to PvP in Eve Online? Well, yes, it is.

Let's compare Eve Online to other PvP intensive games. The first I ever played, and the original MMORPG, was Ultima Online - UO for short. I've written about my experiences in that game. That game made me into the carebear I am. After being subjected to rampant sociopathic behavior and seeing it wrought on others, I was done with that sort of bullshit. There is no way I will ever debase myself to the extent of being like the player killers I came to revile. That's just how I am.

But what made it possible for their bad behavior to actually work? It was the world set up on the computers we had at the time.
A character could run from Vesper to Britain in minutes (providing you ran into no player killers.) And that is the very thing that made PvP so bad in UO. It was a very, very small world. You just could not avoid the PvP.

Eve Online is not like that at all. There are plenty of ways to avoid PvP. Just look at my last post and you'll see. Eve Online is huge. There are 5000 star systems linked by star gates. There are again half that many wormhole systems. Long story short, if there is someone you don't like there are many, many ways to avoid running into them.

And the wormhole experience I've had over the past three months does not lead me to believe otherwise. I have moved to the terrible, dangerous unknown of wormholes where you have no local and anyone can decloak and blow you away at any time. This had be so worried I brought in a Viator and ran my PI with elaborate cloak and move tactics. Stabs laughed at me - or at least he did in his own mind. Well, he was right. This really dangerous wormhole has afforded me exactly three (3) PvP opportunities in nearly as many months. That certainly doesn't mirror my UO experience.

Forcing PvP on someone else in Eve Online isn't easy. The player killers in UO only had to stand on the bridge leading into Vesper and everyone had to come to them sooner or later. In Eve, you don't ever have to go to Jita. You don't ever have to go to Apourulie, or HED-GP or J144238. There are 7496 other systems for you to play in. And you can. They are all equally good for having an enjoyable experience in.

And that is like real life. It is possible to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and have your head blown off. Chances are that isn't going to happen. It's a crapshoot but the odds are way in your favor. Those who want to blow your head off will have to work very hard to do so - providing you aren't stupid or terribly unlucky. So do your thing, don't be stupid and don't worry about it. Perhaps that is my lesson of the year. Undocking may be permission to PvP, but first they have to force you into it. The reality is, you are more in control of that than they are. [1]

Fly Careful

[1] - This does not apply to noobs. Noobs are ignorant, not stupid. There is a big difference. Those who take advantage of their ignorance are contemptible and are not true to the idea of Eve Online IMO.