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Friday, November 29, 2013

If this makes you envious... good.

Today I received my holiday gift to myself. You see, I get paid every two weeks. However, I have for as long as I can remember budgeted things by first of month and 15th of month. When they converted our pay system to every other week some years ago, I spared myself the hassle of trying to rearrange my entire personal budget because our Director of Finance likes it otherwise.

There is a really cool benefit to me in not changing my personal budget timing. It means that every 6 months I get an extra paycheck. There are no personal bills allocated to those two paychecks. There are no household maintenance requirements of those two paychecks. They are all mine, mine, mine, mine and mine. It's a bitch having to split it five ways, but me and my not so evil clones get along pretty well. We always agree and know exactly what we want.

This year we wanted to get rid of the bog black strip of plastic through the middle of my EVE Online screen. You see, I've been playing with dual 21.5 inch Dell Ultrasharp monitors I've had for years. That was good in that it gave me a 3200x1200 resolution with which to play EVE Online. It was bad because, well, BIG STINKING BLACK DIVIDER.

However, I didn't want to give up screen real estate. I was in a Catch-22 situation. Then the computer industry invented WQXGA resolution - 2560x1600 pixels. The two UXGA monitors I was using in tandem are just a bit wider at 3200 pixels but were 25% shorter at 1200 pixels. I determined over a year ago WQXGA was the solution to my big black divider issue.

There were just two drawbacks. Screens capable of that resolution had slow pixel refresh, and were damned expensive. I could live with the refresh slowness. I mean, EVE Online is not exactly FPS speed and any blurring wouldn't really affect gameplay, at least for me. However, the price tag a year ago really grated against my more Scrooge like personality traits.

So I waited. I got my financial obligations in order and I made damn certain that when my extra paycheck game this week I was ready and financially able (as well as mentally prepared) to spend $1200 on a new monitor. Man, was I surprised when ran their holiday specials starting this week and had this deal.
As you can see, it was one hell of a deal. It sold out. The price was $849.99 when I found it on Tuesday. It arrived today. WOOT!

So how good is it? Just telling you it's unbelievable isn't going to convince you. So I made two 30 second videos to show you. The first is the new monitor at 2560x1600 resolution.

This second video I cropped to standard HD, 1920x1080. It's the same video, just with much less screen real estate.

Eat your hearts out.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

"What's the matter. Your Malediction broken?"

Being part of a large (ish) alliance has some drawbacks. For one, we are war-decced by l33t PvPers who like to camp Jita and pop unsuspecting members who aren't getting as much play time as usual and are thus not as up on current alliance events as normal. That leads to this sort of thing.
Rumor is this was the 3rd Stratios lost. That's some infamy for you. I'd like to say the corporation's losses ended there, but that'd be misleading.

At least I can claim that I've not lost a single ship to l33t high-sec PvPers. When the l33t dude targetted me with his scram the other night, he was in for a rude awakening.
[ 2013.11.25 00:30:44 ] (None) Jumping from <redacted> to <redacted>
[ 2013.11.25 00:31:01 ] (combat) Warp scramble attempt from ∴ Malediction Jake Patton's Malediction | [-BRO] Jake Patton - to you!
[ 2013.11.25 00:31:26 ] (notify) Requested to dock at <redacted> - Sisters of EVE Bureau station 
I was prepared for that attempted lock. It wasn't that I could warp faster than the Malediction could lock me. It's that I wasn't born yesterday. Derp. That resulted in this.
[ 2013.11.25 00:31:10 ] Mabrick > HAHA
[ 2013.11.25 00:31:49 ] Mabrick > What's the matter. Your Malediction broken?
Yeah, that's me trash talking in local. I never talk in local - well, hardly ever. I just don't like people that much. What the *BLEEP* has happened to me?

Anyway, to all those who call the United States home, have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday. To those calling elsewhere home, have a great Thanksgiving holiday nonetheless. And don't forget there are those out there far less fortunate than we are.

PLEX for GOOD Charity Live Stream

Remember, it's for a good cause.

  • For every $2,000 CCP Dolan will be shot with 1 paintball
  • If we reach $50,000
    • CCP Lebowski will get the Minmatar logo tattooed on his calf
    • GM Spider will get the Amarr logo tattooed on his body
    • CCP Dolan will have the number 50 waxed on his chest
  • If we reach $55,000, CCP Gargant will shave his head
  • If we reach S60,000, CCP Guard will spar against an Icelandic Tae Kwon Do medalist
  • If we reach $75,000, GM CiD will get the Wreckage sleeve tattoo from EVE Online tattooed on his arm
  • If we reach $125,000 CCP Mimic will shave her head
  • More to be announced when we go live!

But seriously, how'd you like to live in Tacloban right now? Thought so. Help as you can.

Fly Careful

Monday, November 25, 2013

A New Tool for Tracking EVE Online Popularity, Etc.

As goes the Internet, so goes the world. That seems to be the modern wisdom. If you know what the Internet thinks of you, then you pretty much have a handle on your popularity - or lack thereof.

The thing that gives me, a blogger, an idea of how well or not my blog is doing are analytics. You can see a small example of that with the Who's Calling widget I've got on the left side of the page. However, that is a very weak measurement. It only records hits from IP addresses and doesn't really tell me what that traffic is, how long it's hanging around or anything else.

That's what Google Analytics is for. Blogspot, which is a Google domain, has some measurements along those lines but they are not as full featured as the real deal. Fortunately, Google allows just about anyone to set up an analytics page and integration with Blogger is quite straight forward. Here's my last month's visitation numbers in a slightly more useful accounting, and this is just the most basic report.
There are quite a few more useful reports available through Analytics. But yakking about my blog isn't what I wanted to show you today. It's just the lead in. So now that I've given it to you, let me ask you this. Can I get such detailed data on non-web based products? Ones I do not own?

The short answer is yes, but only if I a) spend a lot of money on surveys or b) work for CCP and they give me such access. But are those the only two ways? I mean, I've been very curious about a great many things related to EVE Online since I've been playing. So to quench that curiosity, I do as much reading and poking around as I've time for.

Most of the time this doesn't really go anywhere. That's probably because I'm not willing to do anything unethical or even questionable to get information. I'd as soon just walk away from a promising lead than stoop to that sort of behavior. But once in awhile I get lucky.

This morning I was reading a tech article and the columnist had used a Google service I'd never come across before. He used Google Trends to make a point about Smart Watches being a bad idea because there is just no consumer interest in such a thing. I immediately thought, "hey, can this be done for EVE Online?" In the words of Vir Cotto, "Oh, you betcha!"
You can pull up the search yourself here. So what's with all that trend activity out of Russia? That's got to be the single most intriguing thing about this trend search. What's even better is drilling down by country. Google breaks the trending down by not only city, but geographic region as well. I could spend DAYS just following links.

But wait, there's more! Notice the letters? Google attempts to relate points on the trend with notable events linked to EVE Online. Notice the near vertical climb of the trend line in November 2005? The event denoted as "I" (your letter may vary) is a Canada NewsWire Press Release, "EVE Online Growing at a Phenomenal Rate." And then it did! Is that more than coincidence. Probably not.

But wait, there's even more!! The details are awesome, but sometimes relationships are a more telling indication of how things are going. To that end, you can put in multiple search criteria and plot the trend lines relative to one another. Here's my first go at it.
There seems to be some synergy between EVE Online and DUST 514 trends by the looks of those peaks. So what's happening now? EVE Online has a bit of an uptick, probably because of Rubicon's release, but DUST 514 is currently flat. Maybe there's a lag. Only delving into the details and time will tell for sure. But it is a fascinating new tool for tracking how things are going according to the Internet in regards to the game we all love. So go crazy; enjoy!

Fly Careful

Friday, November 22, 2013

Take Your Time. I'll Wait.

CCP Pokethulhu had an interview this week with VG 24/7. Nosey Gamer mentioned it here. That led me to Neville Smit's post about it on his blog. Now that was a post well worth reading three times, so I did. I'll probably read it again.

There is not much I disagree with in the post by Neville. I too am looking forward to making ISK in a bastion mode enabled Maurader running level IV missions, as well as buying my first SoE Stratios blue print. Then there is the rest of the article, the bit about plans and visions. You really need to read the post all the way through. The tl;dr is it will take all of the CCP 5 year vision and planning time before we see our first player built gate.

There's an implication in that timeline. The implication is we will not see any new regions of space introduced during that period of time. The whole point of getting to where capsuleers can build gates for themselves is to open up new "galaxies" as CCP Pokethulhu put it. And to get there once the gate is build will require a "prepared" capsuleer and a "prepared" ship.

That all sounds fairly restrictive to me. not to mention it might not mean any map expansions until it's complete. But that's okay by me, because just the idea of player gates to new galaxies brings up a whole series of questions that need to be answered first. I don't think any of them really have answers right now. I am sure there will be plenty of secrecy around this topic so no one gets the straight answer until CCP is ready to tell us. But still, I'm already curious to know.

So what are those questions? Okay, since you asked (*wink*) here they are.
  1. Jump gates work in tandem, as do jump engines (you have to have that Cyno remember.) The only structure I know of currently that does not cross vast distances without a link on the other end are Acceleration Gates. That said, aren't we really talking about something more like an Acceleration Gate than a Jump Gate?
  2. Once competed, will the gate builder have the ability to lock out other players as is currently the case with Outposts, POCOs and other player structures?
  3. If they can lock other's out, what mechanism will prevent a group like Pandemic Legion from just leaving New Eden altogether and never coming back? How will that affect the overall sandbox?
  4. If we are talking about giant Acceleration Gates, will whoever activates the first one leading to a new system have to build a gate on the other side to get back?
  5. Is never coming back even an option? Is it the only option? Could this be a method of introducing shards to EVE Online without calling them shards, or will all gates lead to the same new Galaxy just in a different region?
  6. Can another player group blow up the newly created gate thus stranding any who've already gone on ahead? (To be sure, the answer to this is one we may already know is a resounding "yes!" Unless CCP makes completed gates invulnerable. That would be very unlike EVE Online in my book.)
  7. If other's are stranded on the other side without the means to construct a return gate, what does that mean for them? Could they blood jump back to New Eden?
  8. If blood jumping is an option, will there be a new, better jump clone that capsuleers will have to "discover" through the Ghost Sites that will allow a capsuleer to move between galaxies?
  9. Will the other side be completely empty so there are no stations, no market, no anything and the entire event will be the largest player created content ever, or will we find new human tribes left behind when the Eve Gate went unstable?
  10. And most importantly, if there are new civilizations discovered, will they have cool new shinies for us to spin!?
These are just a few of the questions running through my brain. The complexity in what CCP contemplates is writ large across these questions and the corollary questions they invoke. You know, I think I'd rather see CCP take five years to sort this all out than rush into it without answering them. So go ahead guys and gals in Iceland, take your time. I'll wait.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Taranis: Better than a Shuttle

Yesterday during my lunch hour I investigated the expansion from which there is no going back... at least not without mild inconvenience. Thanks for the laugh CCP Fozzie, and all those who memed in on his twitter comment. You can get the details from Drackarn over on Sand, Cider and Spaceships.

As I went about my business, I noticed Time Dilation (TiDi) was active. It was bouncing between about 30% and 70% while I was online. I found that a bit odd because I was in the quiet backwater system of Aporulie. I'd flown over there to pick up a couple things I'd left laying around. Anyone who's played for more than a few years in many different areas of New Eden knows how spread out assets can get. Anyway, I made a comment on Twitter about it and got a reasonable reply.

However, I've read several more tweets about increased TiDi since the expansion. I can't help but think that it's got to be an artifact of the expansion. If you think about it, the nodes now have to calculate the correct acceleration and deceleration for every ship every time it warps. That used to be a constant, and though warp speed is still a constant there are now variables with which to content: pilot training, ship modules and implants. Every calculation must now be discrete. And it can't slow the warp off, or it will potentially spoil gameplay. Therefore those calculations must have a high priority. That's a lot of math the nodes never had to do before. I can see where that might cause a bit of processor lag. Nevertheless, I am certain CCP is well aware of what the CPU loads are on their nodes. I am not too concerned about it. I was in Dodixie yesterday as well. TiDi was present but manageable.

And speaking of being in Dodixie too, I HAD to buy an Interceptor. I've been able to fly them for quite some time but never had a reason. With the warp speed changes, I now had to experience OMG fast for myself. So I bought a somewhat overpriced Taranis in Dodixie and fitted it up. Here's what I came up with.

     [Taranis, Damn Fast]
     3x 125mm Gatling AutoCannon II (Barrage S)
     Small 'Knave' Energy Drain

     Experimental 10MN Afterburner I
     Stasis Webifier II
     Warp Scrambler II

     Micro Auxiliary Power Core II
     Small Ancillary Armor Repairer (Nanite Repair Paste)
     Damage Control II

     Small Ancillary Current Router II
     Small Polycarbon Engine Housing I

     2x Warrior II

This requires an Inherent Implants 'Squire' Energy Systems Operation EO-601 to make work as well as what's fit, but as the name implies, it is damn fast. It will do a bit over 2700 m/s and is cap stable at that speed. The signature radius remains a paltry 36 meters. Align time is 3 seconds without the afterburner on. With all modules running, you've got 98 seconds to hold your opponent in place while your fleet arrives.

But in true care-badger fashion, I'm just going to use it as a taxi. This ship outperforms any shuttle. It may be a second slower to align, but the shuttle has a base warp speed of 5 AU/s. The Taranis' 8 AU/s more than makes up for this in most cases. Not to mention you have 7 or 8 times the cargo space. That's just enough to run moonshine. However, if you are going to autopilot, you may as well stick with the cheaper shuttle. This ship isn't getting you anything if that's your plan. Fortunately I don't autopilot. 

And before you proceed to tell my the fit is shit because I'm not l33t PvP or whatever, it's based off this fit. I've just updated it with a repairer that wasn't available then and I wanted more speed out of it while keeping the same sig radius. I more than did that with increased EHP and better active tank to boot... so long as the nanite repair paste holds out. *LOL* But hell, if you're going to use this thing as intended, how long do you really think you have? 

Now the DPS is for shit, but that's not the point of this ship and you know it. It's one significant drawback in my mind is it has 30 seconds less capacitor time than the Terrier fit. If you don't want to give that up, use the next grade 'Squire' and improve your NOS. That'll get you 10 or 15 more seconds. But frankly, you should speed tank and use the repairer only in an emergency. Remember, the fit is cap stable without the repairer on. Have fun!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Marauder Madness II

Last Monday I opined the Rubicon change to the Marauder class battleships, specifically Bastion Mode, is too powerful for high-sec PvE missions. I based this on a Syndicate Competitive League tournament in which a bastioned Golem tanked the entire opposing fleet (minus one assault frigate) to outlast the match timer. It was my intent at that time to provide evidence to backup that opinion on either Wednesday or Friday last week.

That plan was washed out by my needing to train High Energy Physics to level IV in order to use the Bastion module. I was only at level I, oops. I started the training and hoped there'd be no wipes of Singularity. Chances were things would be pretty set at that point so I'd be able to do it. I finished the training this morning. I completed the mission and frapsed nearly the entire event. Here is the ship fitting I took into the mission.
After editing, the mission is still 16 minutes long. I took my time to make some points. I present it here for your viewing.

The tl;dw (too long, don't watch) is my suspicions look confirmed. My dual repper/dual cap boosted Kronos might have been able to clear the site without Bastion Mode. However, I would have had to manage my capacitor carefully and would have had to burn through a lot of Navy 400s to make it happen. While in Bastion mode, I was able to tank all the DPS with a single heavy armor repairer. And because my resists were increased by the extra 30% Bastion mode gives me, I was able to pulse my capacitor boosters, using them only when my capacitor alarm sounded every once in awhile.

And as for taking out the rats, that was the easiest part of all. The frigates took more time than all the other ships combined because I could only use light drones on them. All the larger classes of ship I was able to hit with my Heavy Neutron Blasters, even the destroyers. If I had gone into Bastion mode straight away rather than delaying to let you all see what their DPS and my tank was like, I could have easily cleared this site in under 10 minutes. Rinse, lather and repeat: there's a good chance I could do four missions in an hour. I could stack them up, drop one of the new Mobile Tractor Units where I was (center of the wreck field,) and proceed to the next level IV. The only thing that would really slow me down is drone replenishment. I could take care of that with a Mobile Depot strategically placed.

This particular level IV security mission wasn't all that hard and it wasn't all that lucrative. Still, I made 15 million ISK from mission rewards, rat bounties and loot. That'd be 60 million ISK an hour - in high-sec. Of course, the ship itself would have cost around 1.5 billion ISK and there is usage overhead. It'd take 25 hours at least to get an ROI. But it'd be a fun 25 hours. And who's going to gank your ship? It might be the safest 1.5 bISK ship in all New Eden, so long as you stay in high-sec.

So if you've got the time, watch at least the first 16 minutes of the video. You'll see all the things I talk about above and then some. You'll also see a new way to make easy ISK by yourself in high-sec, as long as you can pony up the buy in. That's a lot of money just to make level IVs a cake walk. That aside, if you're doing it for standing anyway or just to shoot things, why not make the most of it and fly one of the coolest looking ships in New Eden? The Bastion transform is without a doubt the bitchinest effect yet, which is why in the end I'll look the other way on the unbalancing thing. Just saying.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Who You Going to Call? Ghostbusters! ... or not.

There's been an astounding discovery in New Eden.
What was that the Empires' spokesperson said.
Capsuleers of New Eden. We are aware your scanners are detecting cosmic anomalies of an unknown nature. These anomalies originate from covert research facilities known as Ghost Sites. They are run by hostile factions and pose a significant threat to the entirety of New Eden. The Empires demand full compliance with the following directive. Capsuleer access to these illicit facilities is strictly forbidden. Unauthorized interactions will be considered a violation, and should you fail to comply... there will be consequences.
Well, that's some really stern stuff Empire guy. I just want to know one thing. If these Ghost Sites pose such a "significant threat" to New Eden, why are we forbidden from interacting with them? I mean, we're far more capable of dealing with "hostile factions" than the Empire Navies are, and don't even get me started on what a joke CONCORD is.

So what are you hiding, and who are you really afraid of? I mean, you already knew about these things obviously. And you know who's running them. They're no secret to you. Only capsuleers were in the dark. It sort of makes me think you don't like us - or something. Because otherwise, you'd have us all over these things like we're all over Sansha Kuvakei and his minions. No, something smells proverbially rotten in New Eden. And it's not coming from those Ghost Sites.

Yeah, this is going to get even more real. I think I'm finally starting to get excited.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

OOC: What's Been Going On RL

It's been alluded to several times in the last couple months about some RL concerns limiting my play time in EVE Online. It would be closer to the truth to say it's taken a lot of the joy out of it, but not entirely. Since you read this blog, I owe you some sort of explanation. Here it is.

In early September a coworker of mine whom I respect very much was diagnosed with cancer. This was awful news, but he was given good odds of a full recovery. It wasn't that bad - at first. And I was not personally affected in too adverse a fashion by the news though I was sad for him. That changed. More on this in a moment.

On September 21st, my significant other's Aunt Sue, for whom we'd been providing in home care, passed away. This was not unexpected, but the last week was somewhat harrowing. People die hard. It doesn't matter how good hospice is, and they were fantastic, the body always fights and struggles and holds on as long as it can. It was no different with Sue. To say it was heart rending is to do an injustice to the human capacity for compassion. The worst part was when she no longer recognized those who were trying to comfort her, and withdrew into herself for the final 24 hours. I've heard it said we all die alone. I have never doubted that statement philosophically, and now I know it's true.

And things got worse after she died. Friday of that same week my mother was diagnosed with cancer. Within two weeks we had a name for it, Primary Peritoneal Cancer. It's very much like ovarian cancer. It is a stealth cancer. Fortunately it responds very well to a specific treatment entailing bulk removal of cancerous tissue and 107 degree Fahrenheit chemotherapy drugs pumped directly into the abdominal cavity over the course of several months. She had her fourth treatment yesterday. It is going well, but there have been problems mostly revolving around dehydration and an inability to eat anything wholly solid. The cancer had actually caused her stomach to adhere to the large intestine, and the largest tumor had smashed the stomach into the lower abdominal cavity. It was fascinating and alarming at the same time. My mother is a nurse (retired after over 30 years) and so are both my sisters. We've had some fascinating discussions about the way this cancer has manifest itself. I suppose that keeps us from thinking about other things too much. To know something is to not be owned by something. And we all refuse to be owned by this cancer.

And this is where my coworker comes back into the picture. His cancer unfortunately metastasized before they caught it. His good prognosis was obliterated when they discovered three more tumors in two other types of tissue shortly after my mother's diagnosis. I don't know if he'll make it now, and to say this makes me worry for my mother is a gross understatement. I struggle not to be owned by the worry if I must be completely honest with myself, and of course I must.

But at her encouragement, I went to EVE Vegas nonetheless and enjoyed myself. We've tried to maintain as normal a life as possible, because it is not only good for us but it is good for her to know we are doing this. Living with cancer is not easy for either the afflicted or their family. It's a day by day wait to see which wins, the treatment or the cancer. My mother's prognosis is still very good, but we really won't know until her first round of treatments are done in a month.

What I do know is this holiday season will have far more meaning to my family than any since my father passed away - from cancer - 16 years ago. At least I am not as angry now as I was back then. No age is a good age to lose a parent, and sure could have used his guidance for at least another decade. But I am in a better place personally now than I was 16 years ago and I've managed to keep the anger in check. That's a goodness.

And please, no condolences. I mean it. This is simply how life is and I am not writing this for sympathy. There is something I want to say to all of you. When it comes to those you care about, don't take anything for granted. Tell them how you feel. And for their sake, don't let the negative aspects of existence turn you sour and stop you from enjoying life. Life is too short to not do what makes you happiest. (And if you say what makes you happiest is being an Internet troll, I say you are fooling yourself and need a shrink.)

And all this includes the games we play. We all complain about CCP doing this to ruin our fun, or that foul mouth troll doing that to ruin our fun, or any of a dozen other excuses to not have fun. It really is a load of troll shit. If you are not having fun in EVE Online, it's actually your fault if blame must be placed. If you cannot find anything you enjoy doing, you need to find a pastime you do enjoy. No one has to follow a specific play style to win in EVE Online or life. You win when you have fun. When that is not possible, it's time to move on, even if that means leaving EVE Online or walking away from negative people.

And in case you wonder, no, I am not leaving EVE Online. However, I will walk away from negative people and am not playing it every single night any more. I am not letting others tell me what I have to do or what I can't do. If I don't like something and it matters to me, I'll tell the appropriate people. If they don't care, I don't care. There are a lot of fun things I can do and the vast majority of them don't include them. And in the grand scheme of things, EVE Online really isn't that important. It's certainly not important enough to get upset about. Sooner or later we all find out what is, and only then do we really understand. So what I want to tell you is go have fun. Take control of your game and your life and do what makes you happiest, even if that is sitting in a station making buy and sell orders while spinning a ship you'll never fly. If that's fun for you then you've won. Just do one other thing. From time to time, get up and go tell someone you respect/love/admire how you feel about them. I know they'll appreciate it, and so will you.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Marauder Madness

I was able to catch a few matches of the Syndicate Competitive League tournament yesterday. Here's the link: You'll need it to watch soon enough. I find it's great background for whatever else I need to do. Yesterday I was doing some file maintenance and synchronizing between my main system and laptop so had Twitch on the T.V. screen via the Xbox. Damn I love living in the 21st century.

The matches I got to watch were pretty much what I expected. I have to agree with the commentator who said EVE Online isn't easy to watch and there is a lot of interpretation the viewer needs to do. It certainly isn't as exciting to watch as Starcraft II. The World Championship at BlizzCon Saturday was incredible! (Poor JaeDong, always the bridesmaid; never the bride. Congrats SoS, brilliant play!) Actually, it may have been one of the CCP developer guests who made the interpretation comment. Regardless, that isn't what I want to discuss.

What I want to discuss was what happened starting at about one hour and 30 minutes into the broadcast. Go back up and click on the video link if you haven't already. Position the playback cursor at 1:30 on the timeline. You should be at The Ronin versus Deepwater match. The Ronin pretty handily won this match. Who won is not the point of this post either. The point of this post is the Golem from the time it went into bastion mode.

Yeah, the tournament was on Singularity. This was the first opportunity for me to personally see the new bastion mode on a Marauder in action. At this point in the match, The Ronin have eliminated all Deepwater ships except the Golem. The Ronin still have their Paladin, Eos, Prophecy, Ishkur times two and Enyo times two on the field. That is ALL of their DPS minus an Enyo. So you'd expect The Ronin to blitz the Golem and take it out. Right?

Wrong. The Golem went into bastion mode and tanked The Ronin's DPS until the match timer expired. It lasted five minutes. That was with a neutralizer and NOS or three on it. The Ronin just could not break its tank fast enough. Here's the end of the match for the record.
Now, I'm not worried about this when it comes to PvP, not that I think they'll get used a lot. I've been on more than enough carrier bashes to know it's easy enough to get help when you have one pointed. Who wouldn't want to whore-in on a Marauder kill? And forget fleet fights. What fleet compensation plan could ever afford to replace those hulls? Here's the current pricing of a Golem. That's 1.2 billion, with a 'b', ISK. I doubt you'll see them in fleets when much cheaper Megathrons and Dominixes will get it done. And don't even get me started on wormholes. Read this forum thread. It starts out,
Keith Planck: "I, for one, am looking forward to welcoming our new Marauder overlords"
Rengas: <sarcasm> "I'm sure dreads will have an exceedingly difficult time tracking stationary battleships which cannot receive reps." </sarcasm> (hypertext markup my own)
Keith Planck: "Who's talking about PvP?"
*ROTFLMAO* Who's talking PvP... that's rich. I actually know someone who's lost a couple Kronos in a C3. Marauders draw PvP like honey draws flies. There will be PvP; 'nuf said.

What I'm worried about is how this will affect PvE play. As part of my SoE standing grind, I've been getting level IV combat missions as my story line missions. I've been running them in a Dominix with a micro jump drive. I've been kiting the hell out of Rogue Drones and Angel Cartel battleships with drones and rails using Spike. They've never gotten close to breaking my single large repper, but I still have to "play" them. If I'm stupid about it, I die. I can't tank them at point blank range.

After Rubicon, I can use a Marauder (not that I'd spend that sort of ISK personally.) If the Deepwater Golem is any indication, this will make any level IV PvE mission more a cakewalk than ever. I'd like to believe this new feature is necessary for running higher level DED in null-sec or something. But truth is, if someone used a ship that expensive to complete those mission, they deserve to have their pod blown out of it. The tried and true Tengu is cheaper. The same goes for low-sec, only faster. I know people who would make 20 jumps to get in on those kills any day. Hell, their buddies will hold the Marauder until they get there in all likelihood. I've seen it done.

Nope, high-sec will become the place we're most likely to see Marauders. Garret Troopers will sit outside stations all over empire space showing off their blinged out rides while mission monkey's will run roughshod over level IVs. Bastion mode is a neat idea, but I can't help but feel it'll be too unbalancing for EVE Online's already weak PvE. And there really is no reason to use one in PvP. It'll just get primaried if you dare bring it out. But it's your billion plus ISK, so enjoy bastion mode in PvP if you can afford it. And I suppose in PvE the warp gates could always just refuse to allow Marauders through. Either way, I see necessary changes coming from this unbalancing new Rubicon feature. Or, is it really just to make tournaments more interesting? I'll just leave you all with that thought.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Build SoE Standing and Make Easy ISK at the Same Time

Tuesday CCP Rise published a dev blog discussing the new Sisters of EVE faction ships. In it he presented this graph that is a sure indication of how one will get one of these ships.
I too have been running missions for SoE to build up both standing and loyalty points. It occurred to me as I was running missions that SoE LP might not be a bad way to earn a little extra ISK. Take a look at these two charts:

Pictures are worth a thousand words and this should pretty much spell it out for you. You'll have to buy a T1 launcher too, but they are cheap (approximately 20k ISK in Dodixie.)

I've been running level IV distribution missions out of Gicodel (with a lot of other players I might add.) I do distribution missions because they are fast. I can easily complete 5 distribution missions a lunch hour (my most reliable play time these days) using a cheap Nereus. Each mission gives me an average of 500 LP. The simplified math tells me I can buy one launcher every 29 missions which equates to about 6 hours online. It's not really even work as it's a brain dead level activity. That's 5 mISK an hour, but they are just about the easiest ISK you'll ever make. This won't necessarily appeal to the experienced player as there are much faster ways to make ISK, but any new bro reading this should take note. Probe launchers, as you can see above, sell well. Don't ever overlook the possibility of earning a little more ISK while doing something else. Since I'm already spending the time on grinding standing, I might as well multitask. Right?

Even if this post results in an overstocked market, you'll still make a decent profit, earn the right to buy the awesome new SoE ships, and with all the hints dropped lately about the direction of EVE Online, you'll be set up well to take advantage of what is coming. For some reason, I feel the Sisters of EVE will play a prominent role in that future vision. Considering the first graph, I am not alone in that premonition.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Babylon 5 Who's Who of EVE Online

Physics tells us that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. They hate us, we hate them, they hate us back. And so, here we are, victims of mathematics! 
- Ambassador Londo Mollari

It's a natural thing to want to compare our fantasy selves to famous movie and book characters. While we play EVE Online, many of us, especially the role-players in our ranks, but not only them, pursue a self-image we derive from characters who resonate with us. This goes beyond EVE's lore with its Amarr loyalists, Minmatar freedom fighters, Caldari generals and Gallente... what do we Gallente stand for anyway? Nevermind.

Still, there are many among us who look outside EVE lore for inspiration. The brief time my RL brother played, he fancied himself Harry Mud of Star Trek fame. My wormhole corporation HBHI follows the ideology of the brown coats from Firefly. I personally started off more like Freeman Lowell in Silent Running - less murderous rage; more isolation. When I joined HBHI in their wormhole, I adopted their brown coat outlook for the most part, though I was Wash, not Malcom and certainly not Jayne.

As I've entered a time of limited play, and certain events have prompted me to be more introspective in all things, I've begun to wonder where I go from here. Indeed, such ponderings have prompted me to review EVE Online in general - trying to understand it better. And to do so I've relied on comparisons to all the sci-fi I've indulged in over the decades.

And of all that I've read and seen, I've come to the conclusion that EVE Online is more like Babylon 5 than any other sci-fi universe I can recall. The sheer breadth of personality types within that universe is staggering to contemplate. You've got the killers and the healers; the followers and the traitors; agent's of chaos, agents of order, and enough shades of grey to confound even a Minbari.

Such musings lead me to wonder who among the famous in New Eden best matches each of the characters from that award winning show. But matching them is very difficult in some cases. Each character goes through various amounts of growth during the show's storyline, and many are not the same person at the end as they were in the beginning. For the purposes of comparing EVE personalities to Babylon 5 characters, most will be from the beginning or middle of the character arc, not the end - which is convenient as several characters died. ;-) So without further ado, I give you my vision for the Babylon 5 who's who of New Eden.

The Mittani
Ambassador Ulkesh
I cannot help but see The Mittani as the Vorlon Ambassador Ulkesh. He was the new ambassador to Babylon 5 after the Shadows killed Kosh. Ulkesh believed in order and obedience. It was not for the lesser races to question why the Vorlons required certain actions, only that they do what they were told. Vorlon reasoning was well beyond the comprehension of non-Vorlons. All that mattered to Ulkesh was the Vorlon's defeating the Shadows no matter the cost. If Goonswarm are the Vorlons of New Eden, then The Mittani is certainly their Ulkesh

Citizen G-Kar
This was a tough choice, and it is the one choice where I am really thinking about the end of the character arc rather than the beginning. G-Kar goes through the most transformative growth of any Babylon 5 character in my opinion. Through his trials and tribulations, and those of the people he cares about, he becomes far wiser than most. His insights into people's character and the universe itself are far beyond most of those around him. On his home world of Narn, he becomes a mix of legend and prophet, neither of which he wishes to be. Regardless, all come to acknowledge and value his judgment and his insight - much as we all do with Jester. Perhaps one day we will all come to call his blog the Book of Jester.

Seismic Stan
Commander Jeffrey Sinclair
Seismic Stan ran the Blog Pack and the Blog Banter for a long, long time before moving onto his true destiny as a professional writer. His nurturing of the blogging community is very much like the nurturing character Commander Jeffrey Sinclair. Sinclair made Babylon 5 a working reality when most predicted it would fail. He then went on to reform the Rangers and become their Entil'Zha. His ultimate destiny took him out of the main story line and into the realm of legend. In Valen's name, I hope a similar fate awaits Seismic in his new destiny. This community would not be what it is today without him.

Trebor Daehdoow
Trebor Daehdoow has served the CSM since time immemorial it seems. This does not mean he is incapable of leadership; far from it. It is his choice to serve something greater than himself. In that regard I see Trebor as the Linnier of New Eden. He is steadfast in his pursuit of making the CSM work not only harder, but better. He is well thought and takes the initiative when it is called for. He seems to be the first to volunteer and the last to knock off for the day. He is always available, always waiting to do whatever is asked of him. His commitment to the CSM is like Linnier's commitment to the Minbari way, even when he does not agree with the decisions of the Gray Council. He will still do his part for honor's sake. Hopefully he will not have any lapses in judgement due to suppressed emotions. ;-)

Gevlon Goblin
Ambassador Londo Mollari
Rich, argumentative, initially seen as a joke. He yearns for former glories. He is constantly making statements that piss off everyone around him. Completely out of his mind at times it seems because everyone looks to Jester as the expert in all things New Eden. And with his recent ganking play-style, even a little touched by darkness. Who else could Gevlon Goblin be other than Londo Mollari. Londo is the tortured soul of Babylon 5, much as I see Gevlon as the tortured soul of New Eden. Yet both's actions are motivated out of honor and a wish to do right by their people. In the end, Londo gets everything he ever wanted, but gives up everything that really matters. Like Londo, I can't help but feel that Gevlon's shoes are too tight, and he has forgotten how to dance.

I've limited this post to only five. That seemed like just the right number. I'll leave the rest up to you who have read this post all the way through. Give your thoughts in the comments. Let's have an unserious discussion for a change. Have fun!

Monday, November 4, 2013

We Need a Measure of Enlightened Self-interest

Friday is the first day of the next SOMERblink. In the end, CCP labeled their blink credit for ISK bonus program as RMT; a violation of the EVE Online EULA and ToS. And though I am now officially on the losing side of the controversy, I am unbowed. I see this as a tragedy for EVE Online and the community, not a victory.

In the other posts I've made on this subject, I tried unsuccessfully to argue CCP should not consider the business model as RMT. But the definition of RMT is as hard a rule as any I've seen. Boiled down to its essence, no one, anywhere, for any reason, is allowed to make real money by giving ISK, no matter how convoluted the process, except CCP - period. I see now it was a mistake to try and debate this with people who consider the definition black and white. I was doomed from the beginning because the definition is intractable.

I understand the RMT rule is there for a very good reason. Botters who create ISK by the literal boat load just to offload it through RMT damage the economy of EVE Online in ways only Dr Eyj├│lfur Gu├░mundsson probably understands. CCP gains nothing from it, nor does the community. We could lose everything because of it. The history of MMO economies succombing to RMT bares this out.

But that's RMT which provides no value to the developer, the game or it's community. It's traditional RMT. It is destructive because it takes and does not give anything in return. It is a parasite, and a dangerous one to be sure.

But not all parasites are dangerous. Some parasites form a symbiotic relationship with their host, which benefits both species. Your gut is full of beneficial bacteria without which you would die of malnutrition. Now, if they get out of control they can, and do, cause harm. But when in balance they are as necessary as the food they help digest.

SOMERblink is like those beneficial bacteria. How many of you reading this have played blinks? Did you have fun? Did it enhance your EVE Online experience? Was it something you've never seen done so well in any other MMO? Was it best in class? If you answered no, I submit that is a personal bias. SOMERblink is all those things though it may not be for you. It adds value to our community through the enjoyment thousands of other players, myself included, get from it every hour of every day. It may be an RMT scheme, but it is a beneficial RMT scheme to the community as a whole, and CCP still get's their payment from it courtesy of the GTC fee. And since CCP can control the supply of GTC, the damage to the game is controlled. What SOMERblink managed to do did no more damage than $5 PLEX on Amazon or all the buddy programs CCP has run in its entire existence. It's a controllable process, and I say anyone who simply yells, "it's killing the game!" because it's RMT are doing more harm through their intractable bias than SOMERblink.

In their hatred of all things RMT, they gleefully lit a bonfire and cheered as it roared. Those who resented the success of SOMERblink fanned the flames. Were they the illicit competition, or merely those malcontents who lacked the vision, skill and dedication to do it themselves? Regardless and by damn, they weren't about to let anyone else do better. Their black and white interpretation of the EULA and the ToS was the fuel firing their incendiary diatribes.

And what's more the pity, others took up the torches they provided and followed them. They focused on the narrow black and white definition and failed to see the greater good in it. "It's RMT, kill it!" they cried. That's all they cared about. But did that particular parasite have a beneficial or destructive relationship to the host? They did not care.

So CCP killed it. Like a broad spectrum antibiotic, the EULA and ToS cannot tell the beneficial from the harmful. That needs to change. If CCP wants to grow the EVE Universe as they say they do, they have to understand and encourage the beneficial while only killing the harmful. They have it within their power to not only do this, but also to control it. We do not live in a black and white universe. We only harm ourselves by insisting we do. There needs to be a mechanism that encourages our community to extend themselves and develop sites like SOMERblink. If you think doing something like that is easy, you are wrong. It takes more than a pound of proverbial flesh and people deserve compensation for that flesh. Without a real world reward structure, such first class sites will not happen and we as a community will be lesser for it.

CCP has a choice, as CCP has always had a choice. Keep all the marbles for themselves and the self-limited benefits that come with them, or broaden their PLEX system to include GMT referral marketing, the like of which SOMERblink used, and have a more healthy, vibrant community. That's the reward for the effort. Such a system must be selective, and sites deemed unworthy should be excluded. Sites deemed worthy should possibly have to pay a fee or even submit to auditing. The system also needs to take into account the reason for the site's existence. Is it for the benefit of the community first? If it isn't, does the good outweigh the bad?

This is not an easy thing to decide, and will undoubtedly create more controversy. Overcoming that will require fortitude and a vetting system rational players will accept. Perhaps the CSM would be the best panel of judges to determine if a community site qualifies for referral privileges. They will need guidelines though, and as in all things, that is CCP's purview. But it is an attainable goal. Once complete, when accusations of RMT arise again, perhaps we can then judge by a measure of enlightened self-interest, rather than abdicating reason to benighted black and white definitions.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Coming Soon: Sovereign Gaming League

I feel e-sports is the next billion dollar sports industry. It's the sports of the 21st century. It's in its infancy now, but I see it becoming potentially as huge as the NFL or NBA are today. Unlike them though, it's played everywhere. It's appeal with the 20 to 40 year old demographic is staggering. As these generations ascend to become the world's economic backbone, I see the decline of 20th century stadium sports and into the space created will step e-sports.

There will be several reasons for this. The e-sport venue being cheaper than a stadium is no small part of the reason. Ditto for the actual competitors. Like golf, they only get paid for how well they play, whether that's tournament prize or endorsement pay. However, that is not the majority reason. The stars of e-sport are just average people with talent and dedication. They are the quintessential any person. They could be your neighbor or your class mate. This gives average people like you and me hope; perhaps one day we can become famous just like them. Today's professional athlete, many of whom are groomed from a very early age, have lost this characteristic. As the average person comes see them more and more as privileged elite, we will turn our eyes to those who pull themselves up by their bootstraps - or in this case mouse cord - to become the best.

And there to help these 21st century role models accomplish this will be Sovereign Gaming League (SGL.) I met Ben Brownlow, the Marketing Director for SGL, at EVE Vegas the other weekend and was very impressed with what he and the company are doing. His excitement was infectious to say the least. He offered an interview and what sort of blogger would refuse that? So, settle in and learn about the next awesome thing coming to players of EVE Online!

Q: Tell me a little about yourself.
A: Well, I am the Director of Marketing with Sovereign Gaming. I've worked in marketing since 2008 and have played EVE Online since 2007. I've been heavily involved with the gaming community since 2008 when I worked as the Director of Marketing for Firestorm Gaming Servers. I was responsible for the sale of Firestorm Gaming Servers back in 2009, but have since worked as a consultant for many gaming businesses. I've played semi-professionally for Call of Duty 4 and enjoy a wide variety of PC Games.

Q: What is Sovereign Gaming League (SGL) all about?
A: SGL is really centered on the average player regardless of which game the player is involved in. As we host tournaments, we are anticipating the well established players to come in and play. As we move them to higher class tournaments we want to give the same kind of exposure to our other players in the other classes as our top class competitors. SGL is about involving everyone and providing a platform for players to really challenge themselves in the games that they are involved in. To some things all up, Sovereign Gaming League is about Gamers, not sponsors or the business itself, and we expect players to hold us accountable to that promise.

Q: What led you to take the plunge into e-sports with SGL?
A: Back when I was operating with Firestorm Gaming Servers, I had purposed this eSport idea as an expansion to the business which was originally going to be called the Digital Major League. However, Firestorm Gaming Servers sold and so the idea was put on the back burner. In 2012, the President of SGL and myself began drafting up the business model which would later get its name Sovereign Gaming League, a name that derives from a project a sister company (Firestorm Development) has worked on. I've loved EVE Online since I was first introduced and so naturally when we drafted the business model we focused on EVE since it has been largely untouched. We acquired great funding for our project and immediately began investing into our software development.

Q: How far along are you in realizing your goals?
A: We are very far and have received great support from the community, in fact much more than was anticipated. This gives us great confidence as we move forward. With the business model that we have planned we haven't had to go on a desperate search for sponsors. We are self sustainable and therefore will be around for a long period of time. We will be looking into sponsors in the future but only on the benefit of the player, again re-emphasizing that we are a player driven company.

Q: When do you think SGL will go live?
A: My last talk with our development team allows me to say that we are on track for an early Q1 release.

Q: How will SGL work?
A: As a basic rundown of how the tournaments are run we like to compare it to the world cup. Each tournament will begin with a series of qualifier matches which awards a team or player points. Then depending on the input (ie, 32, 64 or 128) the top teams will play through a bracket. And yes, there will be prizes, but they vary based on the tournaments. Our prices will vary for paid tournaments but they will be close to $5 dollars for solo events and $20 dollars for team events (which is $20 for all players, not per player).

We will be hosting Free and Paid Tournaments. Free tournament prizes will vary from small cash prizes $25 to $200 to T-Shirts and our paid tournaments we are looking at prizes that range from $500 to $5000 to Flights and tickets to EVE Fanfest. These will vary based on participation but we are confident that we will pay out nicely.

Q: I know CCP made a general call for community contacts, especially in the e-sports area, during EVE Vegas. Have you contacted CCP?
A: Absolutely. We have received very rapid response in both EVE atmosphere and in Dust 514. We are excited to be working very close to the developers to provided well organized events for the EVE Universe.

Q: Is there anything else you'd like to share with my readers?
A: Expect more updates on our website November 1st [Mabrick edit: that's today. Go look!.] Also we are lonely on twitter so follow us on twitter @Sovereign_GL. We would also love to hear from the community about what they would like to see coming from Sovereign Gaming League, as our software is developed to be expandable. Thanks for all the support, we think you guys are great and deserve what we will be offering.

If this doesn't make the PvPer in you crow, nothing will. Ben also confided in me that they will be integrating streaming into their system at a future date so we can all watch and enjoy. Keep an eye on their website and spread the word. Sovereign Gaming League is coming soon!

Note: I have not received any compensation from anyone to post this interview. I do it out of love of the game and the idea of e-sport. This post is an endorsement of e-sport in general and any company working to make e-sport a reality. It should not be viewed as a specific recommendation. You're on your own in that regard.