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Monday, December 30, 2013

2013: A Space Odyssey

Dave Bowman: Hello, HAL. Do you read me, HAL?
HAL: Affirmative, Dave. I read you.
Dave Bowman: Open the pod bay doors, HAL.
HAL: I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
Dave Bowman: What's the problem?
HAL: I think you know what the problem is just as well as I do.
Dave Bowman: What are you talking about, HAL?
HAL: This mission is too important for me to allow you to jeopardize it.

- 2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clark

This is the first I've written concerning the CSM minutes being so long in publishing. It'll likely be the last. I personally don't care if they ever come out. In my estimation, CCP will only publish what CCP wants the world to know, and that's the end of it. The minutes don't matter. In that regard, CCP Dolan has my sympathy. I know how that game's played. He's piggy in the middle. He's no doubt made a personal pledge to the CSM concerning the minutes, but he never realized he's ghost writing for the board: Vilhjálmur Þorsteinsson, David Fialkow, Sigurður Ólafsson, Stephan Wieck, Birgir Már Ragnarsson, and last but not least Hilmar Veigar Pétursson. In the end, the board will have published only what the board wants published. CCP Dolan only gets to do all the edits. Man, I do not envy you.

But let's get back to the minutes themselves. The reason the minutes don't matter is the CSM isn't CCP's method to ensure they create outstanding content. It's their method for not committing another Incarna. If you think the board members, who represent the 484 shareholders (as of December 31, 2012) who've sunk millions of dollars into CCP, will use the the CSM in any other fashion, you really are into science fiction. Those 484 shareholders have far more at stake than any mere subscriber or their elected representatives - even if there are theoretically half a million of us.

And we've put ourselves into this position. We've proven to them that we, the subscribers, are an unreliable business partner. How you ask? Just look at what we did about Incarna. We acted in about the most infantile manner possible. We threw a temper tantrum and glorified it as some form of revolt. From a business perspective it was revolting all right. Yes, we got our point across. Then they got their point across. How many CCP employees lost their jobs over that debacle? Every damn one of you who unsubscribed an account in protest are as much to blame for them losing their jobs as the person who approved Incarna. I was ashamed of being an EVE Online subscriber that day, even though I did not participate in the unpleasantness that was Burn Jita Riots. (EDIT: So sue me, I've got the flu and this blog is free so, meh. You only prove my point.)

The only good thing to come from that event is CCP is much more cautious than before. There will be no promises made that are not easy to keep. Why? Because of the second way we as a subscriber base show our immaturity. You know, as a parent I completely get CCP's issue with promises. You say anything to a child about anything, anything at all, and it instantly becomes a promise. Later on, if things change and you don't do as you said you would, you'll get the infamous, "But you promised!" tantrum. That certainly has happened to CCP in regards to EVE Online. Now hasn't it? I don't blame CCP for not wanting to get burned again: burn me once, shame on you; burn me twice, shame on me.

And that brings me to both the quote at the top of this post and the title. First the quote. It's pretty much how I see our present relationship with CCP. In case you don't get it, we the subscribers are Dave Bowman. CCP has far too much at stake to allow us to be serious stake holders in their future. We'd just burn the stake and then whine about the fire being the wrong color. I honestly believe CCP has more sense than to ever allow that to happen. CSM suggestions are just that, suggestions. In the end they won't change the direction CCP has chosen to take as a business.

Don't get me wrong, the CSM is very important. It's just not important for the reasons most subscribers want to believe. I've no problem with that - unless some of those who don't get it start acting out again and CSM members take up "the cause." Then I think the CSM should be immediately disbanded. So long as the CSM serves CCP's needs, not the players so called needs, there's no problem with it. And that being the case, the minutes are irrelevant. Think about that.

That brings me to the title. What originally got me thinking about all this was Hilmar's interview with Wired UK, in which he stated the company's goal was, "to make virtual reality more meaningful than real life." It wasn't the "virtual reality" part of that statement which got my double-take. It was the "real life" part. There is an unintentional double entendre in that statement that is both profound and potentially tragic.

To us the subscribers, EVE Online is just a game. It's virtual reality. And according to the quote, it's not yet more meaningful than real life. But to every board member, every shareholder, and every CCP employee, their real life depends on our virtual reality. The food they buy with the money we pay them is real. Their mortgage payment is real. Their childrens' looming college tuition is real. And all of it depends on a virtual reality world that exists at the whim of notoriously impulsive subscribers whose most lauded play styles exhibit a tendency toward immorality. When real life depends on virtual reality being more meaningful to the likes of us, that truly is a space odyssey. Keep the pod bay doors closed CCP. This mission is too important for you to let your subscribers jeopardize it.

Fly Careful

Friday, December 27, 2013

My Favorite YouTube Video of 2013

RL work landed hard on me today with end of year accounts maintenance and stuff. It's a great time to do it, what with everyone on vacation except those of us who like taking vacation without the 300 million others. Hell, it's great to work right now. I've only gone into the office once this week!

But that's mostly because my real office is in a computer bag and can be setup anywhere. But hey, that's better than the "good old days" running up tens of thousands of miles windshield time just to tell someone they need to plug the damn thing in. Believe me, the older you get the less you want to be behind a wheel with those other 300 million I spoke of in the first paragraph.

So, since I've done nothing but work all day and my brain is pretty well fried - as well as having a dose of the "don't wannas," I figured I'd just show you all my favorite YouTube video of the year instead. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Now for Something Mostly Different

EVE Online isn't the only game I play. I know that comes as a shock to some of you, but it's true. There are two types of games I play. There are the stressful ones like EVE Online, and there are the relaxing ones. Okay, EVE Online is relaxing at times. But it can go insanely stressful in an instant. That's why we all love it. Right?

Well, some days I don't need any more stress; the past six months especially. (For those who need to know, mom's treatments are going well but the complications are a BITCH.) In the realm of stressful games, besides EVE Online I play Starcraft II and League of Legends. I suck at Starcraft II but play it anyway. I recently started League of Legends and evidently show some promise. Who knew?

In the non-stressful realm, I have my old favorite Civilization V and this year's sorely disappointing Simcity 2013. It's still fun to play, but damn they need to patch some terribly awful bugs in their simulation code. Until they do, I've set Simcity 2013 aside. That left me needing another non-stress game to play. My nephew recommended I try Kerbal Space Program.

I'd never heard of it before - but it was a space game so couldn't be too bad. I went out on Steam and found it. It's an alpha release game. Whoa, my nephew didn't say it was alpha release. What's more, for the full game - alpha release mind you - it's on sale for a smidgen over $18. My first reaction to that was, "Where's the free demo?"

I installed the free demo and gave it a try. The tutorials are about as good as EVE Online's. The graphics are still rough though they do work. There are obviously big pieces to the overall game missing. But you know what? The physics in that game is incredibly realistic - as in they use real physics. The whole point of the game is to build a space program to get the Kerbals to their "Mun" (moon) and then explore the rest of their solar system. This project starts in the vehicle assembly building... with parts... some of dubious origins... and you have to get a Kerbal astronaut not only into space, but into orbit and beyond.

And when I say you have to do it, I mean just that. You are the flight director, engineer, mission control and if necessary the automatic pilot. You send the rocket up, and with luck you bring the capsule down slow and easy. But believe me, there is nothing easy about it.

But it is non-stressful to a nerd like me. The computer does all the math in the background. You just need to understand when to burn and how to burn. It is unbelievably engaging. And it's stress free, even when the rocket crashes and burns. It's just what the doctor ordered!

Just for fun, I made a video of the first Kerbal I got into orbit. It took me 7 hours of game play. The rocket you'll see I had to "engineer" myself. Then I had to do the apogee burn correctly to "grow" the orbit. The video is less than 10 minutes so give it a watch.

It was very satisfying to finally get a capsule into orbit. It's not enough to just build a big rocket. It's got to fly true and it's got to work synergistically. This rocket did that but it'll never get beyond a simple orbit. Even at that, I made a mistake - a bad one. Did you catch it? Let me know what you think it is in the comments. The first person to name it (by the comment time stamp) will get an Asteros hull from Mabrick as a Christmas present. [EDIT 12/15/2013 03:25 - Darvid Austrene nails it! Merry Christmas, you get the Asteros!] !Don't forget to give me your EVE character name or you'll miss out! How's that for an incentive? And you thought this wasn't going to be about EVE at all. Tsk, tsk and Merry Christmas!

Fly Careful

Monday, December 23, 2013

Kronos: Blasters or Rail Guns Decided

As I've mentioned at least once or twice, I've been running SoE level IV security missions for LP since Rubicon released. That's code for making ISK, lots of ISK... okay, a lot of ISK for high-sec. Hey, I made and sold my first Stratios hull this weekend for 400 mISK! That's not chump change. I've nearly got the Kronos I purchased to run the missions paid off.

And  speaking of that Kronos, there was some discussion over just how it should be fit. At the beginning of the month, I posted a fit for a Kronos that is substantially cheaper than other Marauder level IV mission boats. There was a bit of discussion about the fit - as always. The first comment I got said,
"You "waste" time getting in range with blasters imho."
Then there were the standard discussion about rails having better falloff then blasters. Blasters are too short range, and so on and so forth. This debate has been on my mind ever since because it doesn't apply to Marauders. It's small ship thinking. It may apply to standard battleships depending on your fitting skills, but it certainly does not apply to Marauders folks. Have you actually flown a blaster Kronos?

That last question is the point of this post. I re-fit my Kronos shortly after that December 2nd post in order to prove blasters are better than rails for level IV security missions. I dropped the 1600mm plate which was for added security as I was in a war decced alliance at the time, added another Magnetic Field Stabilizer II, swapped out my Nano Pump rigs for Capacitor Control Circuit II rigs so I could add two Tracking Computer IIs with Optimal Range scripts. I had to buy a True Sansha Large Armor Repairer to make up the loss of the Nano Pump rigs. BUT, I kept my Heavy Neutron Blaster Cannon IIs. The re-fit increased the cost another 250 mISK, but after my first mission I knew I'd never think about rails again. Here's the fit.

     [Kronos, Bastion Lvl IVs w/ tracking enhance]

     4x Neutron Blaster Cannon II (Null L)
     Bastion Module I
     2x Salvager II
     Heavy Nosferatu II

     Large Micro Jump Drive
     2x Tracking Computer II (Optimal Range Script)
     Cap Recharger II

     True Sansha Large Armor Repairer
     2x Energized Adaptive Nano Membrane II
     Energized Explosive Membrane II
     2x Magnetic Field Stabilizer II
     Damage Control II

     2x Large Capacitor Control Circuit II

     5x Hammerhead II
     15x Warrior I

I've been so pleased with this BLASTER Kronos, that I decided to show you what it could do. To that end, I made this 11 and a half minute video showcasing exactly what it can do and how well it does it. So watch the video. You'll never think about using rails on your Kronos again.

If you're a fan of rail guns and that video doesn't change your mind, you're just being obstinate. To summarize:
  1. Tracking can hit anything except frigates that are within 15 km.
  2. Substantial damage for Void ammo out to 25 km.
  3. Void ammo is devastating at close range.
  4. Null ammo fall-off range out to 67 km and that encompasses all rat orbit distances.
  5. Effective DPS goes more than 20 km past fall-off.
  6. The Micro Jump Drive gives you great tactical mobility and is not stopped by warp disruption.
  7. Null ammo can take out frigates and missile batteries out to max targeting range, which is more than 100 km.
Blasters are superior when they can do everything they do as well as everything rail guns do; 'nuf said.

Fly Careful

Friday, December 20, 2013

A New Tool for the New Tool

Last month I had a post, A New Tool for Tracking EVE Online, showing how I used Google Trends to get an idea on how well EVE Online was doing based on search trends. Well, Google is at it again (NOTE: Figure of speech BTW, not meant to imply this is all that new. It's been around since at least 2011.) They expanded their trend analysis project to include correlation analysis as well. You can find Google Correlate information here.

The easiest way to use Google Correlate is to put in a search term and let Google determine the correlation curve for you. I used the search term I used on by previous post - "EVE Online" - and got this result.
It is not completely unexpected that I'd get EVE Online related searches that correlated well with the "EVE Online" trend curve. The five best fitting correlations are specifically EVE related. There is one take away from it that I find interesting. They are mining and ISK related searches or related to ships in general. The first thing I wondered when I saw the results is, "Could this be related to RMT?"

That's really cynical, I know. It could just be that people want to know how to make ISK in general. However, there are many ways to make ISK in EVE Online, but bots are only feasible for mining and missions. That would explain the correlations between mining, ships and ISK rather handily in my mind. And I can't forget all that Russian activity I mentioned in the Google Trend post.

Anyway, back to Google Correlate. You can also provide your own correlation curves to try and match. Now, I'm no mathematician and I took Probability and Statistics a very, very long time ago, but I can still manage an Excel spreadsheet and that is all Google needs. So I decided to gin up a couple of slapdash curves and see what I got.

The first "curve" I based off the example Google gave. Their example looked for searches correlated to the Winter Solstice. They had a rather nifty equation for creating a COS waveform for weekly values. I decided I'd try the same thing but use EVE Online expansion dates rather than a solstice date. That was a little complicated. For one thing, Solstices happen on relatively easy to calculate dates: EVE Expansions... not so much. However, I decided I'd create a weekly COS normalization (I hope that's the right term, damn that class was a long time ago) based on the days between expansions. Here is the equation and you can look at the raw Excel spreadsheet here. It's nothing fancy, but the equation is there.
Value = 0.5 + 0.5 * COS(RADIANS(360 / (Next_Expansion_Date - Last_Expansion_Date) * (Week_Date-Last_Expansion_Date)))
Yeah, that's a beast but it works. Here's the curve it returned when I got everything done.
That looks really nice. Unfortunately when I copied the data into Google Correlate I got a big, fat nothing. There were no correlations found at all. So I changed tack. I decided to do a simple monthly data set where any month with an expansion got the value one and all the others got the value zero. However, to allow for any search lag, or whatever, if the expansion was during the last week of the month I also gave the following month a value of one. I thought that was reasonable. Here's the curve I got for that method.
When I used that data in Google Correlate I got results; oh boy!
After looking at it for all of 2 seconds, I realized that they correlation was a false one. It didn't tell me anything about EVE Online itself, it only confirms that quite a few expansions come just in time for Christmas. I had a really good chuckle over that one. However, it does give CCP something they could think about. Perhaps they could market EVE Online subscriptions as something to get dad for the holiday. I mean, for $15 a kid could get the old man something way better than a BBQ apron. They could get him a month of EVE Online, or enough ISK to buy the shiny new ship he wants! Let the world wide Christmas marketing of PLEX begin! Of course, CCP would have to figure out a gift PLEX program, but they've got lots of examples and a year to do it. Get cracking Yule Lads!

Anyway, I think I need to keep thinking about how to supply meaningful data to Google Correlate in order to get some better results. Until then there is always the method of entering a search string and letting Google provide the mathematical muscle. If I discover anything interesting I'll be sure to tell you. If you give this a try yourself and discover something interesting, please share!

Fly Careful

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Income Since Rubicon

When Rubicon went live, about the first thing I did was buy a Kronos. I've been running level IV security missions out of Apanake ever since. (I did courier missions out of Gicodel before that for Jump Clone access, which it turns out I really didn't need after all.) It's been a month. How am I doing? That was the question I asked myself today.

So I did some journal diving using EVE HQ. Pivot tables are a wonderful invention! The first thing I discovered is it wasn't a full month of mission running. I actually didn't start until November 24th, the Sunday after Rubicon's release, and I couldn't get on at all last weekend. ;-( The second thing I discovered is I've made a whole lot more ISK than I thought I had.
And I haven't bought any BPCs yet... WOOT! Another month of this and I'll have that Kronos completely paid off. Now why didn't I do this sooner? Oh yeah, the Kronos and the Tractor Unit makes it easy. But even better than that, I don't need a fleet of 30 other guys to make bank like in the old C6. I can do this alone and during my limited play time. That suits me perfectly.

Fly Careful

Monday, December 16, 2013

Mumblings on Recent Reveals

There have been some interesting interviews over the course of December as it relates to the future of EVE Online. The first was an interview CCP Fozzie did with US Gamer 11 days ago. You can read it here. The second was a CCP Pokethulhu interview six days ago with Forbes. You can read that interview starting here and part 2 is here. If you have not already read these please do. They are more than worth your time. Be sure to keep following the Forbes interview all the way through the Valkyrie section. It is long and comes in two parts, but don't miss part two as I reference it below.

I've had a week or so to think about these interviews. I've read them several times, most recently just before I started writing this post. They are too long to discuss everything in them I find intriguing, so I am going to pull a couple things from them and limit myself to that. If you've questions on what I might think of other things please ask me in the comments. I am always happy to pontificate.

I'll start with CCP Fozzie's interview. He was asked, "Will you ever allow us to build stargates? It would be pretty interesting to have systems that will require you to build an exit yourself." This is a bit of an old question at this point. I think CCP Seagull and the rest of the team have answered it pretty well for now. However, CCP Fozzie threw in a little extra in his response. Here's what grabbed my attention.
"The last changes in corp industry roles were very nice but there is one more step to go: Corp Hangar! How about a private tab where a member can share access to BPOs without letting everyone take them? Such a tab could be limited by role assignment. Better yet: A section of your private hangar that allows "view" access to other corp members. 
Yep, so a better way of allowing people to use your BPOs without having control to take them is something we've been thinking about for a while, and is definitely something that we would like to do. Um, I can't say for sure exactly how that implementation is going to work, but it is something we definitely want to do, yes."
When I lived in the C6, we had a corporate theft take place. One of the industrial corporations in the alliance had about 50 billion in BPOs stolen from their POS by an awoxer. That resulted in an alliance order that no one was to store BPOs in the POS. From an industrial point of view, a real pain in the ass. The only thing worse than moving wares up and down a long pipe is moving BPCs up and down a pipe when there is no really good reason for doing so other than the alliance doesn't want the embarrassment of stolen BPOs. If I lose 50 mISK in BPOs, that's my bad. I don't like others telling me I can't take that risk. It's like me telling them not to fly that billion is T3 cruiser. I know they wouldn't stand for that. Implementing this change will make both the industrialist and leadership happy. It's a win-win; can't wait to lock everything down.

But that's a fairly straight forward reveal. Most times CCP doesn't come right out and tell you what they are planning. That's a strategy for keeping secrets as old as secrets themselves. Don't tell them what you don't want them to know. What could be simpler? And it's mostly effective, but there are ways to discover the truth.

The military intelligence community has long known human intelligence, what people tell you, is the best kind of intelligence. But that's not because of what they will tell you. It's because of what they won't tell you, and how many ways they think they need to not tell you. They will talk about everything except what they are not supposed to talk about. That provides an opportunity.

By piecing together everything that is said, the good analyst begins to see the holes in the fabric of the lies. The truth resides within those holes. The objective of an analyst isn't to get someone to tell their secrets. It's to get them to just talk around them. The more they talk, the more they stay away from the forbidden subject. The more they avoid it, the smaller the holes in the intelligence blanket gets, and the closer the truth is to discovery. When all the lies are eventually spoken, only the truth will remain - as plain as day for any with eyes to see.

So using this approach, you take this statement from CCP Pokethulhu (emphasis mine,)
"Going through this, and taking into account the learning curve we have, EVE is a great game but it isn’t a game for everybody. But we know that there are more things in our crazy sandbox that people could be interested in. So, on some level, we’re asking “How can we bring people to this fascinating universe, without making them all play EVE Online, because some gamers don’t want to. "
and this statement  from CCP Fozzie (emphasis again mine,)
"Walking in stations right now is not the priority for us. We're focused on the space game play in EVE: the core game play. It's definitely something we could return to later, but at this time we're very focused on making EVE the best space game it can be."
and I begin to wonder if our ire at walking in stations was a bit of a joke. CCP had to develop the walking part for DUST 514. But was it ever really meant for EVE Online? I no longer think so. I think it was something that would have been done regardless. Unfortunately it needed a great deal of resources to accomplish, and to justify using those resources it was implemented as an "expansion" for the business unit whose resources were repurposed for a time. This is now mostly ancient history. I was torn about even bringing it up, because I personally believe the summer of rage should fade into oblivion. But it has a bearing on what is within the hole encircling that which CCP is not talking about.

Cutting to the chase, EVE Online is no longer their business focus. Not once in his entire interview did CCP Fozzie call it "EVE Online." Perhaps that is simply his preference for brevity, but it is also indicative of a new direction of thought within CCP I'd wager. I see it in CCP Pokethulhu's interview when he talks about the EVE Universe. I see it in a how a lot of CCP employees discuss their brand these days.

Has CCP accepted that EVE Online will not get bigger; that a half million gamers are all that will ever buckle down and learn such a complex environment? I believe CCP has come to understand that in order to grow, they have to move to a different sort of game, one with a more immediate return on gamer investment. As CCP Pokethulhu put it (emphasis mine,)
"So, the business model of Dust is free-to-play – grind as much as you want but pay to save time – the free-to-play model you see in many games. But the real reason for making it was that we believe that the magic of the EVE Universe can be a lot bigger, but it may not get there all by itself with EVE Online."
On that stage, EVE Online is only a supporting character, necessary to give the scene a sense of believability, but not the star of the show by any stretch. I'd call that the secret revealed except for the use of the qualifier. That gives the intent of the statement just enough wiggle room to be deniable. But it really reduces the size of the hole in the blanket doesn't it?

I won't call this a bad thing. In a business sense it is healthy and prudent. But as a player of EVE Online, it makes me believe we'll never see the glory of another Apocrypha expansion. I suppose that's not a bad thing either. By taking time and not rushing things, we're likely to get better thought out and implemented changes. We all know how rushing things have created some of the biggest issues with game play we see today. So no alarmist rhetoric today. Just something to mumble about. What's your take on it?

Friday, December 13, 2013

New Eden in Perspective

Rixx Javix over on Evoganda has a nice piece today on the lack of aliens in New Eden. In Where Da Aliens At?, he makes the case that we don't need them. Aliens are problematic as a lore item and have more risk to their implementation than possible enhancement to the game. He concludes New Eden is just for humans.

I do not necessarily disagree with Rixx. We are doing quite well on our own. Besides, I've met a few capsuleers that definitely count as alien in my time in New Eden. I wont go into details, but oh my lord there are some strange types lurking around the star lanes. I'm sure you've had more than a few run ins with those types of "aliens" yourself. But there is perhaps an even - bigger - reason why there are no aliens in New Eden.

I'd like to put a little perspective on New Eden's place in the greater scheme of things. This is partly spurred by Rixx's post, and also a Twitter stream yesterday by @webspaceships on what type of astronomical phenomena New Eden is. I'd actually not given it much thought before. But it got me curious. I'd just done the ship speed post showing how New Eden ships are slower than what humans build now. So my mind naturally went to, "How big IS New Eden in comparison to other astronomical things within our universe?"

This requires pictures, of course. First, lets start with a nice picture of known space. New Eden is called a cluster, but this is not an astronomical term in this instance. It merely describes all those systems humans have connected with star gates. That is the most frequent meaning of the term 'cluster' when applied to New Eden. That comprises 5431 stars in an area 106 light years by 90 light years by 25 light years - approximately 8500 square light years in all. Here's what it looks like.
New Eden Cluster (Star Gate connected systems only)
That's a lot of star systems. But is it really? To know for certain, we need to take a look at the cluster from a different perspective. What does the cluster size look like compared to an entire galaxy? If you Google the question, "How many stars in the Milky Way?" it will tell you 300 billion. Wikipedia puts that number at 400 billion. The dimensions of the Milky Way are also somewhat contested, but the general consensus gives it a diameter of about 100,000 light years and an approximate average thickness of 1000 light years. Stellar density per 800 square parsecs (the size of New Eden BTW) also varies considerably from region to region. But in a nut shell, the New Eden cluster looks like this compared to the Milky Way.
Milky Way galaxy with New Eden Cluster Superimposed
This started as a very large file - 6000 x 3887 pixels. If you can't see the size of New Eden, download the full size image from this link and zoom in on the "we are here" area. The base image itself is a free National Geographic map and I superimposed the first image of the New Eden cluster onto it. I couldn't make it absolutely relative in size, but I got it pretty damn close and centered it on Sol. There is a 3000 and a 6000 light year radius circle drawn around Sol. That's makes the comparison easy. You can now see how teeny tiny New Eden is when compared to the entire galaxy. If that doesn't give you an inferiority complex, nothing will. And don't worry Rixx, there's still plenty of room out there for aliens.

Fly Careful

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

EVE Online Spaceship Speeds in Perspective

The fastest ships I've personally seen in EVE Online have gone nearly 5000 meters per second (m/s.) They blast their way out of lock range so fast you wonder if they were ever actually there. Fortunately most EVE Online ships are much slower. The fastest base speed I found pursuing the ship database was the Claw at 475 m/s. The slowest is my favorite capital ship - the Orca - at 60 m/s? Here's a chart with a sampling of some of the fastest ships in each class.
For those less inclined towards metric, I've also included the imperial measurement of speed. You know, I've owned cars that could go faster than an Orca. I never realized how slow that ship actually flew through space. And that got me to thinking. How do EVE Online ship speeds compare to actual spaceship speeds? So of course I had to make a chart of that too!
The fastest ships in EVE Online couldn't even escape the Earth's gravity well. It even travels considerable slower than the Earth itself. It couldn't get out of the way if it wanted to. One wrong turn and...
"LOOK OUT! Here comes the planet! Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh."
That's pretty pathetic isn't it? It's certainly not what I think of when I see a Stiletto streak across my cockpit screen. In fact, no EVE Online ship - regardless of modules, rigs, implants or training - could catch a Saturn V rocket let alone the fastest craft built by man to date, the Voyager 1. Think about that. No ship you've ever seen in EVE Online could catch Voyager 1 - or Voyager 2 or any other spacecraft that's managed to leave Earth orbit. The only chance of catching Voyager 1 would be when it eventually falls back into the solar system. Really? Is that a lore type issue? It certainly is a logical issue in my mind.

So what does this mean in the sandbox that is EVE Online? Not a damn thing really. But perhaps CCP could add a couple zeros behind those base speed entries in the database and on screen. It would not change a single game dynamic as all speeds remain the same relative to one another, but it would correct this... weirdness. It would also speed EVE Online up, which is something for which even devs have wished. The Claw's base speed would then become 106,254 MPH; just enough to allow it to go interstellar.
That's just a whole lot better! The Republic Fleet Firetail would get to just under solar escape velocity. That just seems more right to me some how. Not that the Claw is better, but that the Interceptor would be the only ship capable of escaping unaided. Many of the others could do it with an MWD or even an AB fit, like my Taranis. But a battleship would never make it out of a solar system. That calms my mind a might.

So no epiphanies on this first day of lone wolf industrialist freedom. Just something sort of "huh" to think about.

Fly Careful

Monday, December 9, 2013

All Good Things Come to an End

Fifteen months ago a joined a small wormhole corporation called Hiigaran Bounty Hunters Inc [HBHI]. We lived in a C3 for awhile, having fun and killing Sleepers. It was a good life, until a carrier the corporation built inside the hole attracted the attention of those who are carrier kill crazy. Those crazies will go to great lengths to kill capital ships of all stripes. The CTA's are endless.

I know they are endless because after being camped hard by those crazies and paying them 5 bISK to leave, we joined them. Life in a C6 started out pretty good. We had some good fleet fights. We made some ISK... okay, a lot of ISK. Getting good pipes was hell, but we managed. I setup fuel production for the two POS we had and learned a thing or three about how fleets work and what FCs should and should not do.

But then the good fights in wormholes disappeared. People began to get bored. You know what happens to a group of people when boredom sets in. So a plan was hatched to go nomading. That's where you break down into self-sustaining fleets and head out to farm the now mostly empty wormholes around you. But that idea was stillborn. Instead alliance leadership decided we'd move to Stain and set up shop there. We would have PvP every night. There'd be roams and all sorts of fun things to do!

I decided I'd give it a try. I bought about a bISK of PvP ships and had them Frogged out to Stain. Then I jumped in my trusty Nemesis and took the long way out there from Amarr. It was promising at first. Strictly Unprofessional, an alliance 350 strong at the time, fancied themselves the lords of that area of space. They resisted our invasion. They camped our clone station hard. I lost a few ships to their camp. It was shaping up to be a great brouhaha!

Then it abruptly came to an end. The roams turned into moon POS bashes. Our hardened adversary seemed to failscade. Soon we were all alone and far from anything. Alliance fleets were soon being flown out of Amarr. I started to wonder what was going on. Then several of the corporations formerly known as Strictly Unprofessional joined our alliance.

WTF I thought. Were all those promises of glorious PvP just something said to get enough subcapital ships out to Stain so we could POS bash? There was mention of the tens of billions of ISK the moons out there were going to bring in. Then there was talk of super capitals. Then I put two and two together and started to suspect the real reason for the Stain deployment was to fund something else entirely. Something of no practical benefit to my fun or my enjoyment. We subcapital pilots were just a means to an end. The lone wolf in me rebels at the notion. I am no capsuleer's means to an end.

So I went roaming a few times alone. I found no one. I figured a lone ship would be ample reason for someone to undock and fight. It wasn't. Once I roamed with a corp mate named Mikey. We didn't run into our first ship for eight jumps, and then the Manticore ran away from our Brutix and Hurricane. We saw no one else. That's how boring null-sec can get. For all the great wars, once there is peace I guess it is just run away or be ganked. I don't think all null-sec is that way, but I certainly understand Rote Kapelle's desire to kick all the non PvPers out of their section of NPC null now. It was no fun and my glorious life of PvP in Null certainly was null. I chalk it up to the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong group of people.

I soon found myself back in high-sec to find something to do - whether that was roaming, missioning or just seeing another ship. Because of war decs, I've seen more action in Gallente high-sec then I did all that time I spent in Stain. I've made more ISK too, but that's irrelevant because it's not why I went to Stain. So for the past month, I've really been mulling over what I'm going to do about things.

The final decider was my currently ongoing RL situation, as I've mentioned in previous posts, and the new SOE ships. I'd really like to make some of those. However, the blueprints only come from SOE shops using SOE LP. That means running a boat load of SOE missions. That's been a little problematic. We've been under constant war dec for the most part, and while that's fun I'm not going to risk my mission boat to a bunch of high-sec war deccing pantywastes. And these war decs are only going to get worse because of things I can't talk about. All I'll say is this: Gevlon Goblin may have to eat those unkind words he wrote.

But as for Mabrick, I've decided to go back to the life of manufacturing. There are new and crazy cool blueprints to acquire and new ships to build. In a few days, after my son is accepted into HBHI, I will be leaving my wonderful friends there and rejoining the Center for Advanced Studies. From there I may go back to my old corp, the one I founded, or I may not. All I know is I'll be a free agent again and I like that idea a lot right now. It's a good time to be a lone wolf industrialist again.

Fly Careful

Friday, December 6, 2013

Castles do not Exist without a Reason

I love bastion mode. I can't help it. When I see the hull reconfigure and my tank goes from great to <booming voice> UNBELIEVABLY AWESOME </booming voice>, I get goosebumps - every time. That's just what happens when the neurons reinforcing my risk averse nature are tickled.

But other than making L4 security missions easy, there is not much else Bastion Mode is good for in New Eden. It makes you a sitting duck, and I don't care how good your tank is, when there are enough ships firing at you it will break. Even Jester said he was less than thrilled to see bastion mode Marauders because, "they're going to be relegated nearly 100% to solo risk-free PvE with no other use. So far, I haven't heard of anyone -- small gang, medium, or large fleet -- building a doctrine around these things for PvP... with one exception that I'll talk about shortly." You should really follow that link and read the post if you haven't. And if you haven't you're like the only person playing EVE Online who hasn't! *LOL*

But seriously, I really want to see Marauders have a tactical role in PvP. Even this care badger can see the appeal in that. Even if the implementation needs some fine tuning, I really don't want to see the module change. But currently it's not got any reason to exist. It's like a castle without reason.

DING! That's when the solution hit me. A Marauder in Bastion Mode is like a castle. The Bastion Module is a sort of fortification, like a moat, a barbican or a sally port. See, castle parts are built with specific tactical concepts in mind. They are not just really thick walls set on a hill. Every part of a castle has a tactical purpose. The moat slows the enemy advance giving you time to kill him. The barbican guards the portcullis, allowing defenders to mass fire at that weak point. Sally ports allow defenders to attack besiegers directly to stop sapping operations or battering rams before they get inside the barbican. You get the idea. Nothing is added to a castle without a damn good reason.

So what's the reason for the Bastion Module? We'll, frankly it doesn't have one. But it should! In EVE terms, we need to figure out what that reason could be. Let's look at what the module does for a clue. It makes the ship stationary. That's nothing special, any ship can be held (practically) stationary with enough webs. Dreds do it all the time. It increases resists across the board. Again, nothing that several other modules can't do. This one only does it more efficiently. It doubles self-repair capabilities. Nah. It makes the Marauder immune to almost all electronic attack. THAT'S IT! When all put together, the reason for Bastion Mode jumps out. Bastion Mode exists to protect the ship from itself. What, I'm completely off the reservation you say? No, I'm not and here's why.

Making your castle portcullis out of wrought iron isn't to make it stronger against the battering ram. You can do that with more oak. Besides, the enemy will just get a bigger battering ram and make the hinges fail - which is what generally happened anyway. No, the portcullis is wrought iron because, like the stone of the barbican, it is not flammable. You can poor flaming oil on the battering ram crew all week long and it won't harm your portcullis or your barbican. It will certainly harm your enemy.

That's what bastion mode does. It keeps your ship from harm when you pour boiling oil on your enemy. The real issue is we have no equivalent to boiling oil for the Marauder. I of course have an idea on what our boiling oil could be. Want to hear it? Of course you do!

Imagine this: a new type of bomb in New Eden warfare - the Magnetic Resonance Bomb. This comes in two flavors: the smart bomb flavor and the Stealth Bomber version. When an MRB is activated, it causes any active module on any ship within the blast radius to instantly overheat, if said module is capable of overheating. This will last for a period of time from long to excruciatingly long. A capsuleer can mitigate the length of time his modules overheat using counter modules and skills. Modules damaged by overheating can be repaired with Nanite Repair Paste as usual. But only a Marauder in Bastion Mode will be completely immune to the effect.

Image a fleet of Marauders engaged by a group of foolhardy capsuleers. The Marauders take fire for a moment, then activate Bastion Mode and start MRB smart bombing the opposing fleet. Weapons, reppers and and all sorts of modules overheat and even burn out in the opposing fleet. That'll change the day! As for your support ships, the FC just needs to ensure modules are deactivated before the MRBs are used. That'll make more than a few FCs pull their hair out I bet. *LOL*

Or imagine 20 Marauders hot dropped into the middle of your sieged Dreadnought fleet. The Dreds can't move. The Marauders go into bastion mode and nuke the Dreadnought guns; then take them apart. Or forget the Marauders, use bombers and hope they get out of the way quickly enough. Then we might see Marauders used for POS bashes rather than Dreadnoughts because they'd be the only ships immune to the bombers using MRBs. Options abound.

So that's my idea on how to make Bastion Mode have a purpose. It needs a whole lot of tweaking and there are possibly some balancing issues. I'm not an expert in that. But providing a distinct new attack tactic to New Eden warfare might just be the thing to reinvigorate the state of blobness. A single Marauder in a fleet might be enough to dissuade an attack predicated on the principle of mass alone, which seems to be the popular thing these days. Going forward, pairing new offense abilities with new defensive abilities might be just the ticket to keeping everything lively. Discuss.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

BB51: An Amazing Reaction

EVE Online can be a game of heart-pounding, palm-sweating, adrenaline-fuelled ecstasy or agony. Sometimes over the years those reactions dim and what was once a panic inducing situation becomes commonplace routine. For some, the shakes never go away.

From Druur Monakh (Twitter: @DruurMonakh) we get the topic of this banter: what was your most nail-biting experience in EVE Online so far? It could be PvP in a 1v1 or 1000v1000, your first fight or your latest one, a scam so close to being uncovered too soon, a trap almost sprung on an unsuspecting victim or the roles reversed and you desperately try to escape.


I've been in the adrenalin chair, or I should say hatch, a lot in my life. It's odd that EVE Online can invoke a comparable adrenalin rush when no one's life is on the line. Yet it does. That's one of the things that amazes me about this game - as it does several of the other bloggers who've done this banter. 

It's no secret I play risk averse. But in New Eden, when is there ever no risk? Every undock has the potential for PvP. It isn't consent mind you. I HATE that phrase. No one consents to violence; neither virtual nor real. But violence is a reality. It happens every day. I keep that nestled away in my forebrain every time I undock - or step out of bed in the morning.

But I digress a bit. Sorry Druur. There was a time when I thought about the life of a PvPer believe it or not. It was soon after I moved to Aporulie because of one single event. And yes, it was PvP. Seyllin is right next door. One day I decided to purchase and fit a rail Thorax and go do some ratting. It was September 2009 and I'd just turned 18 months old. When the fight came, it didn't come with all the suddenness of an uncloaking Tengu. But it was sudden enough.

The Ishkur "appeared" out of nowhere. I was so PvP noob I hadn't a clue what D-scan was yet. Before I knew it she was in close and hammering away my shields. I locked back and sicked my drones on her. They were a brand new flight of Hammerhead IIs I'd just learned how to control. Her's were out too: Hobgoblin IIs.  We were in it until the end at that point. My heart was pounding!

I didn't understand why, but my rails kept missing. But my drones were wreaking havoc on the Ishkur. Our armor amounts kept switching places as to who's was lower.  Back and forth they went, but always dropping. At some point I decided I should try and disengage so reversed course. Suddenly her guns were no longer hitting me and mine were hitting her! Hooray! Unfortunately the Hobgoblin IIs she was using kept my armor repper from clawing its way back from near structure. 

Soon the Ishkur was lower in armor than I was. "That's good!" I thought. I decided to turn around and finish her off. (I heard all those facepalms.) As my Thorax made the turn I realized that three of my drones were missing. Since she couldn't hit me, she was taking them out with her guns. "Oh, that's bad," I remember thinking. I turned away again but too late. Her guns were on me again and I was into structure. 

But wait, so was she! It became a race, as I've since learned many of these types of engagements become. I lost, but she was hella on fire when my pod warped out. That's when I first learned about gf in local.

[ 2009.09.08 04:38:28 ] Somebodysetusupthebomb > gf
[ 2009.09.08 04:38:38 ] Mabrick > Nice one.
[ 2009.09.08 04:38:46 ] Somebodysetusupthebomb > was v. close
[ 2009.09.08 04:39:06 ] Mabrick > I liked it. Took me a moment to realize you jumped me. ;(
[ 2009.09.08 04:39:06 ] Somebodysetusupthebomb > u got nice drones on that thing ;p
[ 2009.09.08 04:39:14 ] Mabrick > Hammer IIs
[ 2009.09.08 04:39:22 ] Somebodysetusupthebomb > they hit hard ;p
[ 2009.09.08 04:39:43 ] Mabrick > Yup. Its a drone cruiser. Salvager and tracktor though don't help
[ 2009.09.08 04:40:00 ] Somebodysetusupthebomb > they help you earn cash i guess
[ 2009.09.08 04:40:12 ] Somebodysetusupthebomb > but once the rounds start flying its a different story
[ 2009.09.08 04:40:13 ] Mabrick > up close you shoot good. I have to have distance
[ 2009.09.08 04:40:42 ] Mabrick > Rats are dumb. I can pick them off at 30k plus with the drones
[ 2009.09.08 04:42:08 ] Mabrick > So, enjoy the loot. You earned it. Tchus!
[ 2009.09.08 04:42:14 ] Somebodysetusupthebomb > thanks, fly safe

As I wiped the sweat from my palms, I realized, no matter what I write about them, PvPers are just people having fun like me. Her response thanked me for the fun, informed me of the proper protocol without being demeaning, mentioned something positive and gave me a chance to feel proud about it. She wasn't discouraging at all. It was a total class act. Unfortunately my next encounter in Seyllin was not, but that's not what this post is about.

And because I'm not without a sense of humor, here's what I had no clue about in that first fight.
  1. D-scan, if that an airport security thing?
  2. Doesn't tracking require a shipment code?
  3. Ammo affects range in space?
  4. They make cruiser sized rail guns?
  5. Blasters do more damage?
  6. What do you mean I need a larger armor repper?
  7. What's MWD mean?
  8. Since when is "Get closer, get closer... run away" not a good tactic?
  9. Why can't I PvP and rat at the same time if I want to?
And for those who focus on such things, here's the killmail. It's an abomination; you are warned. But go have a good laugh. My current Thorax is much better and helped me take out three other Thoraxes and a Brutix in my video titled Cruiser Brawl. Even care badgers can learn better PvP - even if they are risk adverse.

Fly Careful

Monday, December 2, 2013

An Alternative to Jester's L4 Paladin

Last Wednesday Jester posted his version of a L4 Mission Paladin. Since the first days of Rubicon, I too have been running L4s in a marauder. And though Jester's Paladin is a beauty, with a very appropriate name for such a ship, I can't fly Paladins.

What I can fly is a Kronos. Just before Rubicon's release, I did a couple posts on how the new Bastion module would make L4s pretty easy. Since Rubicon, I have run many L4s including Worlds Collide - Blood Raider/Angel Cartel. I didn't even break a sweat on any of them.

The ship I finally settled on was not the fit I showed in my Rubicon pieces. I'd never waste valuable loot space in my cargo hold with silly cap boosters. They were only necessary on the test ship so show what was needed to keep two large armor repairers running. They are not necessary with the new Bastion Module. Here's the fit I'm using.

[Kronos, Bastion Lvl IVs]
4x Neutron Blaster Cannon II (Void L)
Bastion Module I
2x Salvager II
Small Tractor Beam II

Large Micro Jump Drive
3x Cap Recharger II

1600mm Reinforced Steel Plates II
Large Armor Repairer II
2x Energized Adaptive Nano Membrane II
Energized Explosive Membrane II
Magnetic Field Stabilizer II
Damage Control II

2x Large Auxiliary Nano Pump I

5x Hammerhead II
15x Warrior I

[Statistics - Mabrick]
Effective HP: 146,355 (Eve: 133,268)
Tank Ability: 1,345.55 DPS
Damage Profile - <Omni-Damage> (EM: 25.00%, Ex: 25.00%, Ki: 25.00%, Th: 25.00%)
Shield Resists - EM: 37.60%, Ex: 68.80%, Ki: 71.92%, Th: 56.32%
Armor Resists - EM: 81.69%, Ex: 79.42%, Ki: 82.15%, Th: 79.18%

Capacitor (Stable at 38.30%) [Edit: actually 44% with my current implants.]

Volley Damage: 4,518.18
DPS: 878.96

Let's start with the tank. This is a fairly standard active tank. It begins with a 1600mm plate and then boosts resists with a DC II, two EANMs and an Explosive Membrane to plug the hole. With bastion mode on the lowest resist is still above 79%, outdoing the Paladin handily. It is cap stable with the repper on. I just turn it on when my shields go half or so and leave it on. There is nothing that even began to dent the tank on this ship. At one point running The Blockade against Blood Raiders, I had to trigger the last wave (more on that towards the end) and was concerned about having nine rat battleships targeting me at one time, most of which did so from a 44 or 49 kilometer orbits. Bottom line, I need not have worried.

The other thing I was concerned about were the five battleships that sat on a 49 kilometer orbit. This bastion mode Kronos has a Null ammo falloff of 47 kilometers. Some of these rats had decent active armor tanks and I was wondering if I'd have enough DPS at that range. It turns out I did, but just. That's also why I've a flight of medium drones. I traded the Hammerhead IIs out for Infiltrator IIs for this mission and they really helped reduce the time, and ammo, I used taking out those last nine battleships. 

As for the damage, the Heavy Neutron Blasters do the fit listed amount by themselves with Void loaded. That has a range out to 19 kilometers. Then Null takes over with 627 DPS out to that 47 kilometer range I mentioned. The medium drones add an additional 150 DPS to either ammo type. That's not as much as Jester's Paladin, though you do get more range. If you want more DPS, remove the DC II and add another Mag Stab. It drops your resists to 76% minimum, but it boosts your max range DPS to 899 and Void gets you 1199 DPS. That's comparable to the Paladin with fractionally better range and your resists are just as good as its.

If you do as Jester did and use T2 capacitor rigs, you get the same cap stability without any rechargers and can then fit three Tracking Computer IIs with Optimal Range scripts. You'll have to go to the 200 mISK more expense Core B-Type larger repper he used to get your tank back up to where it was (and slightly better in fact.) That pushes your Void optimal out past 10 kilometers and your Null optimal past 20 kilometers and buys you 5 kilometers more fall off. I've not found tracking to be a real issue as most of the rats I've gone up against are mid range shooters. However, you should always care some of both range and tracking and mix and match as needed.

Fit the extra high slots as you like. You won't get three heavy NOS into them, but you can fit two and a medium. Those along with tracking scripts might be just the thing if you are jumped by war targets. Just know if you are you're doing something wrong. *wink* I prefer the tractor/salvage version myself. I completely clean up a mission before proceeding to the next. With the new tractor device in your hold, this works well for me. But that's just the way I roll.

There is one weakness in this fit of which you need to be aware. Remember I mentioned I was forced to trigger the finale wave in The Blockade? That's because the Corpus Harbinger had a NOS and was draining my capacitor to dangerous levels. Without the larger repper, this fit won't hold the field and it takes up to a minute to get out of Bastion mode and even more time to warp off. If there are frigates still on the field with Scram, you will not warp out. That's a big problem. You have been warned. I chose to take the trigger at a time where my blasters could one shot the Web/Scram frigates in the final wave (which they do nicely if you catch the frigates beyond 15 kilometer) rather than face them with an empty capacitor. I guess that means I have more faith in my tank. With this ship, that faith is well placed. But as always, YMMV. These stats change a bit with SP and implants. They may not be exactly the same for you. 

Oh, one last thing. This fit is about 700 mISK cheaper than the Paladin. That's a lot of ammo and drones, or nearly a two for one. That makes this Care Badger much happier. As the price of Kronos keep dropping, it should definitely be the budget conscious choice. GLHF.

Fly Careful