Saturday, 19 April 2014

Day 672 : Liminal State

We're around five light years from the EVE Gate now and it's time for a little analysis of my subjects and a little introspection on how I view them.

First, a quick look around the system of Central Point. It's quiet. Like every system I've visited so far on the journey. Capsuleer activity is muted, there are a few stations running but plenty of empty moons. The belts are pristine and chock full enough of interesting amounts of minerals that I almost consider moving here. A man with a mining plan could make a lot out of a system as quiet as this. Even the planets are underused. Half of them still have the infrastructure of the old Interbus customs office racket in orbit. They must have been here for years.

In fact the only activity I really see in space is the presence of the Blood Raiders. I've heard they now hunt for capsuleers in the their pursuit for the red stuff. This is about as clever as it sounds. A craving for rusty water leads them to the only place in the cluster I've ever seen quiet. There's less life here than anywhere else. It's a shame I've no guns on board. I've a inkling to get a rack of hybrid blasters fitted, load them with damp Iron Charges and roar in shouting "hey you guys, here's another mix of water and iron". I'm sure they'd appreciate it.

Planet wise there is nothing to write home about. The only planet you'd consider setting foot on is a barren world about 1.5 AUs out from the star. It's value? You could get a good sun tan before leaving a good looking corpse. I wonder what our ancestors thought when they passed through here, which brings me back to my central theme.

Crossroads are odd places in the minds of humans. The obviously required decision causes our poor monkey brains to overheat when they start over-thinking and begin to ponder all kinds of other decisions and perhaps even the nature of decision. Here we are. East or West? Why West? Why travel at all? What's the purpose of it all? What am I in the grand scheme of things? Hey presto, you've gone from a simple choice of direction to the last stop on the line, Existential Dread, by falling asleep on the philosophy train. Nevertheless I'm going to use this effect. I'm going to consider how I've been thinking about my subjects and lay some ghosts to rest here, burying the criminal corpses of old ideas at a crossroads so that their intellectual shades don't follow me on the rest of my journey.

I've been romanticising the notion of our ancestors in two ways. Firstly, in their identity. I've grouped them into a single tribe. A people of purpose. In fact we have the evidence to suggest they were just as fractious, greedy, opinionated and political as, well, as we are now. The Gallente and Caldari ancestors must have aimed straight at Luminaire, the Amarr for what was Athra, and the Minmatar for what became Pator. I doubt they hung around to enjoy the view. The evidence suggests they knew exactly what they were doing and where they were going. It's not those "successful" colonists that I'm following. It's the ancestors of the smaller groups who either vanished altogether or turned up later in places like Intaki. Particularly the former. The independent explorers who never formed viable colonies after the EVE Gate shut down.  The directness of the larger groups brings me to the next myth I've invested in.

I've been romanticising the colonists mode of travel, imagining rag tag convoys at sub light speed, slowly being whittled down to a hard core of solid explorers by their arduous travails through the void. This didn't happen. I've listened to too many tellings of the chronicle of Old Man Star perhaps. I've made the mistake of thinking that they had less tech than us, when there is evidence to suggest they had more. They terraformed and put up stargates to speed travel after all. They left all this behind for us to find. Additionally they picked home worlds far from the gate. Luminaire is somewhere around 15 light years from the New Eden system. It's unlikely that they'd look at the results of an astronomy survey, pick a planet and think "Hey, brilliant, we'll be there in two or three decades. This was a great idea. To the cryo chambers!". They either had warp capable ships that could sustain indefinite, or long periods of, warp, perhaps at low FTL speeds, or they were able to focus jump drives on natural gravity wells at distances as much as or more accurately than our current technology can. They had something. The dispersal across the cluster doesn't match sub light speeds.

So who am I following? I'm following the independents. I'm following the people who made the journey into the cluster system by system. I'm following the people who named each waypoint on this star road and left the names behind as a story of the experience. I'm following those who vanished afterwards, and along the way I'll think about why.

I look back towards New Eden and see the gate and the star glowing together, distinctly separate even here.

 
No wonder the Amarr looked at the night sky and dreamed of the distant. Mind you, the Amarr could take significance from just about anything. I hear you can't even do sleight of hand tricks in Amarr cities for fear that it will cause a religious schism or be taken as proof of validity of whatever genocidal, human rights violating idea they come up with next. The muppets. Still, the star and the gate are an inspiring sight, as long as you don't take it too far. I'll bury my mysticism and my annoyance with the Amarr here at this crossroads and keep a smidgen of spirituality for the rest of the trek. Slightly ironic but also vaguely amusing.

In the end it's back to the simple choice. Where next? I decide randomly rather than try and figure out what the travellers would have done. Decision made. It's a short hop as the duck flies to Canard.

EVE Track of the Day

Blowing Up My Mind - The Exciters

(back to rolling down the space lanes to Northern Soul again)

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Day 670: Broken Promises

When the travellers from Earth arrived in the one horse town of New Eden you could have forgiven them for turning around and heading back home. They had whatever they brought with them plus solar power plus whatever they could scavenge from a single barren planet. Let's hope they never had to put down there and build anything. I wonder if they were surprised to find the planet teeming with microorganisms or whether that too was true back in the old Earth system. I can't help but find it odd that we're the only ones out here despite all this low level life on every barren planet you visit. Perhaps our ancestors seeded the entire place. Perhaps space going sentience is rare. Or perhaps we're a blip and some regularly scheduled astronomic event will press the reset button sometime soon. It's nice to think, isn't it?

Anyway, the reason our ancestors stayed you can see in the name of the next system onwards into the cluster. Promised Land.  With whatever telescopes they had they must have seen the squat, cool star and sighed. However they must have also seen the system was chock full of stuff. Unlike New Eden: Planets and belts. Only one light year away. No previous owner. Chain free! Perfect. Who knows what goodies could be hiding in the system? Perhaps one of the planets was viable for terraforming. They were going to be disappointed, but they had named the system anyway and kept it. As I've said before, I like their sense of humour.

Arriving in system you quickly realise that there was to be no settling here. The two Barren planets are on the edge of the system surrounding an already cool sun. The glimmer of hope you get from a close in gas giant possibly providing an inhabitable moon ( not that I can recall any such thing in the cluster but it might be possible) is quashed, again, by the suns reach. The gas giants have icy balls. Even in close.

There is one chance. A Storm planet. While wreathed in permanent violence it sits in a potential garden zone. Perhaps the surface, with a little coaxing, could be viable for a while. Hey, they'd just crossed half a galaxy. Nuking a storm into submission has nothing on it.  Disregarding capsuleer legends about the stormy planet of LV-426 I make the Storm planet my first destination, diving sunwards, looking for traces.

I then leap almost out of pod in fear. The planet is looking back.


 I calm down and salute the Cyclops, climb down from my Solaris moment, mutter something about Sauron and wonder if I can ever fit more genre breaking lack of consistency into one sentence.

According to my instruments this "Violent Wormhole" is tagged

Though the wormhole seems stable, the exotic radicals pouring from the tear imply that using it would be catastrophic.
This is so bizarre for so many reasons that despite the exotic radicals spewing from it (focus on physics, this isn't pouring Amarrian priests out into space) I go in for a closer look. I've forgotten the planet because a brief look at it's statistics reveals you'd need to be a masochist to even go down there once, let alone set up a base there. Suppose you overcame the storm, the storm reflecting off most of the suns heat. You could settle down there and raise huge strong redneck sons who'd never seen the outside and who would snap in standard gravity. Nah.



Things don't get any less spooky by looking around


 I go in for a closer look. I'm seeing hints of Caldari space and I'm seeing hints of Cloud Ring. The wormhole goes further into the cluster? I hit the usual books, by which I mean EVE Travel. It looks like this is a Sansha relic. Intriguing and weird as it is, I've no desire to get turned into a cyber-zombie by the original owners. It's fascinating, unlike the rest of the system but it might be time to do a runner and head off further down the line.

You can imagine the original colonists gathering raw materials here, perhaps doing some repair and patching, but you can't imagine them staying. Even capsuleers haven't done much with the system. Only three planets have customs offices and most of the moons are unused. Central Point with it's choice of direction beckons. It's time to follow the trail again.

EVE Track of the Day

L'Estasi Dell'oro (The Ecstasy of Gold) - Ennio Morricone


Saturday, 12 April 2014

Day 664: The Pilgrim

In the six hundred and odd days I've played EVE there has been one thing I've always meant to do and never done. For various reasons really. Wariness. Fear. Lack of skill. Some more Fear. I've always meant to visit New Eden. Home of the cluster, origin of the cluster if legends are true. Home to the EVE Gate. Coincidentally rumoured to also be home to chock loads of ancient tech style loot. All hidden of course, and that's not really the reason I'm going. But a guy can get lucky, you know?

I guess if you've never been and the pilgrimage is on your cockpit list too, you should probably stop reading right now.

The first task is to pick a ship. A proper explorer would take an exploration ship, a Covert Ops frigate at least if not the Sisters of EVE ships. The latter would fit very well since the Sisters are rumoured to be down at the EVE gate doing whatever it is they do. They've probably used these hulls before. Then again I have my doubts about the Astero and I suspect the Stratios would be like flying a one man honey trap down there. Additionally, in my mind, this "pilgrimage" has more of an aspect of "joyride" than most pilgrims would like. "Tourism" wouldn't be far off the mark. I'm EVEs first tourist. I'm Twoflower in space.

To ameliorate this image and inject a suitable amount of macho bullshit back into the mission I pick a muscle car. The Ares.


It's fast, armoured enough to probably survive an insta locking gate sniper, and red. I keep thinking that it would look good if it had the Gallente shield badge on it but with the shield having a yellow background instead of a green one.

 I've not pimped my ride. This isn't a case of "how fast can you go" it's a case of cheap, suitably amusing, cap stable, 5k per second speed, high warp speed, and manoeuvrability.

The route to the EVE gate is fairly short. Fourteen jumps or so of hi sec and another nine of low sec. Thanks to the Ares I'm at my last hisec waypoint in record time. Along the way I notice that some Amarr stargates have a rotating ring built into them. Given my recent obsession with all things rotaty and ringy I note it down for future inspection.

I arrive at Imya and decide to take a break, I spend this manually flying the Ares round a spike on one of the systems stations. I tell myself this is to test the manoeuvrability of the ship under MWD but mainly it's because my inner RP geek is imagining the stations inhabitants looking on with abject fear at 1.5 million kilos of spaceship travelling at 4km per second less than a kilometer from their windows. It's good practice for the PVP technique of spiralling too. Circling something by clicking halfway into a tangential vector and producing a rough, ever decreasing, circle.

Enough faffing. I check my route. This is when the plan changes. After a few jumps in the systems all have meaningful names. Access, Exit, Gateway, Central Point and Promised Land. There's a story here. I'm going to be here longer than I thought because I'm going to trace the earliest arrivals route out into the cluster and see if I can get a feel for what they might have seen. This is now Space-archaeo-social-anthropology. It also gives me an excuse to roar through the systems at top speed. I'll see them at length on the way back.


On arrival in New Eden the gate isn't hard to miss though I'm briefly confused by the sun having a distant nebula at it's back. That's a messy origin story structure. I turn around and see what I'm really here to see.



The Gate

Apparently over three light years away there isn't any chance of reaching it. There isn't even an indication that it's there in any of the navigational sensors. The rest of the system is as quiet as the grave. A single barren planet without even a moon sits in a tight orbit around the sun. There isn't even a station in the system. Had I been the Amarr, who own this neck of the woods, I'd of dropped a station just for research and the tourist trade. Scratch the latter.

Dscan on the other hand is crowded. While there are only two other pilots in system, on of whom arrived after me, there is evidence, scattered all over the first 100,000km of the system, of other visitors. Cans are anchored everywhere, each bearing a message. Being capsuleers these are the usual variants of "Here I am!", "I am important!", "I was here!". Wolves howling at the moon. Honestly, who would have the gall to believe that others would be that interested in where they've been and what they thought they'd achieved. Er. Lets leave that thought while I finish this informative, and not egotistical at all, post.

I pay attention to local for the first time. There is something odd going on. From the tone of the messages I think these capsuleers are here to do something not too far from worship. Like the Amarr who, along with the other crime of thinking that hoods are a good year round fashion statement, decided that the supernatural is a go-to excuse for doing whatever you want, these capsuleers hold a reverence for the EVE Gate that borders on mysticism. Despite a few attempts to get me involved in their ritual greetings I'm still thinking of announcing that I've filled the hold full of explosives and I'm on a collision course with the gate. Of course I won't get there for several hundreds of millennia but I'm still tempted to say I'll try. I'm immortal. There's bound to be enough TV to keep me entertained for epoch making levels of time. No.

Instead, I'm tempted to leave my own can, undoing all the good work of mocking everyone that I wrote above. The main reason is a can emblazoned with this message

"Know, Pilgrim, that you do not travel alone. Palcus Jan 26, 2007"

For some reason this message resonates. I look around the system and try to think what it must have been like to end up here after a legendary journey. Apart from the gate itself, something of a depressing anti-climax. I like these early, supposedly legendary, colonists. They had balls. They named the system after a garden, origin implied or not. They had a sense of humour. I would have taken one look at the half frosted, half burnt ball of rock in orbit around the sun and said "Guys, wait, I think I forgot something. You go ahead, I'll just nip back and get it and then catch up." Perhaps they had their eyes cast towards further stars. I'm going to follow their route and see what it's like.

Before I go I travel 50,000 km out from the arrival gate and leave my own can, my own message. It's there now if you care to go and find my own identity claim in a bottle. In a highly confused and hypocritical way I leave a token behind, a single Ultraviolet laser charge. Suddenly I'm understanding the "why" of votive offerings that I never really understood from my Archaeological studies. There's a palpable sense of deep humanity here in the emptiness for some reason. Something that almost contrasts the electromagnetic glory of the EVE Gate itself. Something that demands acknowledgement. Here we began.

Having waxed lyrical and morally perjured myself enough for one day, I turn the ship around. Next stop. Promised Land.

EVE Track of the Day

The Eve of the War - Jeff Waynes War of the Worlds

(It works on so many levels! There's also a tenuous joke in the lyrics about my journey here for those that care to figure it out. )





Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Day 662 : Game of Cards in a West House Thrones Wing

Yep. It took a few days to get round to writing up the weekend so I leap forward in time once more. Into the "Politics Zone". It's that fun time of year where you get to not vote for everyone you hate, and slightly more importantly get together a crowd of people you do like to make sure CCP don't do one with the game.

Don't worry. This post will be short, fast and nearly painless. Well. It'll hurt me less than it hurts you. Some idiot (me, I ran across it browsing my amazon account) decided to reveal that I could watch all of Grimm online and that I'd never seen it. I need to get back to that.

Resources

I'd link you a précis of STV, the Single Transferable Vote system, but my sadism has its limits.

Vote Match is here This will get you started with some ideas.

Nosy Gamer going insane and not only listing but having listened to all the podcasts, producing a great resource along the way

Blogodorsements

Endorsements are all over the blogosphere and the summaries may tip your hand. Read with bias awareness intact please. Here is a sample of some but not all of the things I read.

http://www.ninveah.com/2014/04/endorsements-for-csm9.html
http://sandciderandspaceships.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/csm-who-gets-my-vote.html
http://nosygamer.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/the-nosy-gamers-csm-9-election.html
http://jestertrek.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/my-endorsements-for-csm9.html
http://interstellarprivateer.wordpress.com/2014/04/07/csm9-endorsements/
http://mikeazariah.wordpress.com/2014/04/08/who-to-vote-for-pt-2/
http://eveoganda.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/eveogandas-csm9-official-endorsements.html

The CCP Official Bit

The full official candidate list is here https://community.eveonline.com/community/csm/candidates

The actual voting tool is here https://community.eveonline.com/community/csm/vote

If you don't vote then you are being a tool, not using one. Sort it out.

My Endorsements

I have two accounts and I'll vote twice, I'll probably mix the order slightly over the two.

Primary

Sugar Kyle

 Low sec, POS use, new player experience, small gang warfare, lots and lots of interesting opinions, runs a great blog, writes great fiction. Still able to apply a little whimsy to the game while ferociously mastering it.

Steve Ronuken

The Industry Adept. The maintainer of http://evebloggers.com/ His Fuzzworks tools have saved my life in the past and it turns out from interviews that he knows what he is talking about. A regular out of corp social player too.


Secondary

These candidates represent some or all of the qualities I'm looking for but were trumped by the top two.

Mike Azariah - The casual hi sec player, all round good guy and voice of reason from what I've seen.

Ali Aras - I was seriously impressed with her CSM8 performance for reasons too long to list here. A testament to the power of the newbie everywhere. She now adds experience to an already great CV

Mangala Solaris - Master of RvB, dabbler in everything, experienced on the CSM, interested in more out of corp social tools. Also from Preston so a bit of a pity vote gets added in. Hurrah for Preston Bus Station!

Xander Phoena - His interviews of the CSM candidates last year revealed exactly the kind of mind and desire for EVE that we need on the CSM. It doesn't all have to be about in game experience when you can digest all the relevant information easily and then make experts on it squirm with questions you've devised. Also his temperament may prove amusing.

Jayne Fillon - Basically for the non corp affiliated social content he's devised. A slight wildcard but worth a vote. Also likely a fan of Firefly.

DJ Funky Bacon - Another low sec expert. I had a little disagreement with something he said recently but it doesn't really impact the rest of his expertise so he has made it in anyway. Considering what a grouch I am, this should speak volumes.

Matias Otero - Technically my old boss. Fun Per Hour (TM)

Tertiary 

While these guys I either don't agree with or don't represent my gameplay I consider them useful to health of EVE in general. In no particular order.

Corbexx - POS and industry wildcard who I've heard some good things about

Psychotic Monk - While I disagree a lot with some of the things he stands for, he is making sure hi sec does not get stale

Mynnna - While a Goon and in no need of a vote, he is good on the CSM, he is an master of the economy and last but not least a Legend in Lego

James Arget - A Wormholer and so out of my sphere of interest but I've heard good things

corebloodbrothers - A last wildcard, just pipping Progodlegend, he's here for his mention of the initial SP curve.




EVE Track of the Day

Subterranean Homesick Blues - Bob Dylan

Monday, 7 April 2014

Day 659 : The Curmudgeon

There's no mistaking that I'm a bitter and whiny old man that's harder to move than a donkey grazing a marijuana field. It didn't get any better when I turned 40 last year and it's unlikely to get better the more I get stuck in my ways and start refusing to do things I just don't want to do. I look on the bright side. I'm still sociable. I may be an introvert but I have my wits and a modicum of social ability. I use it to my advantage. Rage powered stubbornness will often cut through to the decisions that need making. Sounds like the antithesis of the attitude you need to thrive in EVE. Turns out, not so much.

An extremely bad work week while feeling run down kicked me into rage mode. You've been there. The brutal willingness to cut dead wood just to get along and do what the hell you want. I logged into Cheradenine with a particularly bad attitude. I hadn't done much with the character since Brave moved south spouting fun per hour and a dalliance with null. I don't like null. It's too random for my current skill levels and while it's on my list to fully investigate it one day, today is not that day. I want to mooch around. I want to revel in my misery, I want to poke my nose in where it isn't wanted and I want to discover some stuff that will cheer me right up. Miserable I might be but it isn't my preferred state of being.

I look at doing something brave. Brave have gone. Some Notifications and a quick recce round Barley and the Trail of Tears reveals that pretty much all assets and space have been transferred. Brave are gone. The Logistic exercise in moving back I estimate at somewhere around the "gigantic pain in the arse" level. The old Trail of Tears, the pipe between Barleguet and Stacmon, is quickly becoming a quiet country lane (with occasional Hells Angels on it perhaps). While the locals of Barley are blue to me much of hisec still feels off bounds due to bands of reds hunting stragglers like me. An effort in other words. I'm thinking about logging off when the rage kicks in. I'd put off moving south with Brave and come up with some excuses that I was eloquently talked out of and yet still didn't go. I've not been on my main character that much at all bar a couple of training runs. Basically I've been talking myself out of logging into the main because it begs a question I can't answer. I can answer it now. I shift an unbelievable amount of crap out of Barley and up to Stacmon, marvelling along the way that it's so dull on the Trail. I even pilot an unscrammed Oracle down there just to see what happens. They're surprisingly agile but still a sitting duck. The only entertainment I get is when transporting a bulk load of T1 modules from stripped tackle ships. I'm in an experimental Nereus packed to the gills with shield rep and see a command ship on the gate. He's tried to tackle me a couple of times already. I wonder about gate guns and their increasing damage, flick the ship around and fly right at him. Turns out Ancillary Shield Boosters eat charges for breakfast and then sit around doing nothing for ages while they reload. Sounds like me actually. It did not go well. I didn't stop laughing for five minutes.

I drop corp. Sayonara Brave. It was fun. And then it wasn't. Don't get me wrong, I wish you all the luck in the 'verse down there and one day I'll get to trying this null thing and maybe rejoin. I'll still be recommending you to new people and returning people. It's me. Not you.

I park my lazy arse in a slow low sec system with a few ships after a few minutes marvelling at the luxury of stress-less hi sec flight. I'll sit around and watch what happens. I'm solo and it can be a hard game to play like that. Once I'm up to it I may go back and resume flight testing my frigates. Looks like it's going to be the slowest non-event of EVE weekends ever, akin to my earlier avoidance of my main character. I promptly go out and do more in a couple of days than I've done in a couple of months

I dust off my scanning alt. He's been skill training while pretending he'd never heard of the loot can explosion in exploration sites. The crappiest thing in a game ever, bar Pandas in WoW. 16 days until across the board full scanning skills?! You're kidding me? You're coming with me, pal. He drops corp too.

I zoom around the local belts shooting up Serpentis with idle ease. I'd forgotten what a rack of 200mm railguns on a Thorax will do to NPCs. It's almost funny.

I have a look at moons and then get an idea for the scanning alt. I send him looking for Siphons. After a false start I end up being entertained by how fun it is to take siphoned moon goo out of siphons. Not only do you have the thieving from thieves thing but the whole swooping in and grabbing it is quite fun. It turns out it's even more fun when you get back and realise it was an N64 moon and you're paltry haul is worth ten times what you thought it would be.

Poking around in a system looking at moons turns out to be entertainingly scary when a Goon moon defence op kicks off and there are suddenly over 100 pilots in the system and at least 9 carriers. I sit at a safe cloaky distance. I try to work out what the hell is going on but it's largely beyond me at this distance. I come back with another idea that doesn't work. I torch another industrial trying to steal abandoned drones off the edge of the battle site after things calm down. Warp disruption from the tower apparently. Who knew? Still I've already wandered off with around 10 million in drones so the exercise pays its way.

I manage to grab a Clone Soldier Negotiator tag in a belt somewhere which I take to generally mean "this Thorax has been paid off. Now you can waste it safely by doing something stupid"

While ratting I run across a five day old character wandering the belts of low sec in a Velator. He's apparently unconcerned by the fact that I'm there. Anyone else would instantly teach him some weapon based lessons. I send him a chat invite (which I miss the content of somehow) and a mail warning him about the danger of doing what he is doing. I see him on and off all weekend. I think "good show" and "well done" and "nice courage" and "I'm gonna shoot your ass off next time that happens".

I generally zoom back and forth looking into systems and wondering why. I think I'm nesting. It's scaring me. I form my own corp and call it "Ankh-Morpork Holiday Homes". It cheers me up.

At one point a formerly quiet system erupts as the RvB ganked roam flies through. I say hi and try to get them to fill Local full of dance but I think they're busy. I do talk to Green Gambit who's on duty and who I've talked to before. I realise I'll be able to get in public roams like this easily now. Guilt free mass social events outside corp'. I'll have to get on a Ganked roam soon. I can't do next weekend but it's high up on the list of my things to do. See. I am social after all. Just not every day. I must look into Spectre Fleet too.

I make a whole host of other plans which I promptly forget while still worrying that I appear to be settling. This gets so bad that I take out the scanning alt and run a few Data sites and a Relic site. Can spew. Still more awful than worrying about becoming a fuddy duddy loner in the middle of nowhere. Thank god it's going. Difficult and random I can handle, that's a challenge. Difficult and random because the interface is shit is just unfair. I realise I'm running the sites because I quite like the hacking mini-game.

After a period of idleness I end up escalating a simple combat site. Despite my best intentions I wander low sec doing the next five stages of it. Something goes wrong in the last stage and I end up with a cloud of red crosses sensor dampening me. I could sort this out despite the non PVE nature of the ship I'm in. I could draw out the faster ships and take them out with drones or lucky shots between damps. I could fit ECCM and see if it works. I've never fitted an ECCM module in my life. I don't start now. I divebomb the cloud aiming for the lead dampener. "I'm on the leader" I yell as my Thorax gets utterly toasted. Whoops! Still, funny, and the Thorax was paid off even without the bits and bobs that dropped along the way.

All in all, an entertaining solo weekend. Do what you want to do and damn conventional wisdom and forward planning. If you ever find yourself not doing anything and not logging in because your character "has" to do something then log in and do the opposite. Just go and look at stuff or something. It's a damn game and it's a sandbox. It's gorgeous out there. The only rails you should be building for yourself are 200mm T2 ones to shoot stuff with.

Now I'm off to consider shooting an apparently abandoned POS purely because I've got an Oracle I didn't think I'd have.

EVE Track of the Day

 Go Where You Wanna Go - The Mamas & The Papas








Monday, 31 March 2014

653: Nails In The Coffin Of Space

Cool title eh? This was meant to be called "Failing to Relax by Moonlight" and then things escalated.

Well. I needed to calm down a bit obviously. In keeping with by inner 'bear character I abandoned my pursuit of flight status (don't fly angry, remember?) and went back to wandering around high sec, doing some aimless clicking, listening to the football on the radio, mining and "interacting with the meta" (reading Twitter).


My main achievement for the weekend - figuring out how to look up to the sides and ceiling in the docking hangar.

Eventually I tired of mining. I thought about seeing how far I could get a Venture. I'd get the relaxing clank of the mining lasers and the adrenaline laden nerves of low sec at the same time. Given my mood I'll save that lark for another day.

There was something I'd been meaning to do and that was to continue my aborted investigation into the Sisters of EVE ships from Day 584. Was it really that long ago when I went mildly RP and discovered not only no trace of Valsas en Dilat but also a Randian quote on Ripard Tegs biography?

Time needs making up. I leap into the newly assembled White Witch.



My initial intention is to compare the output from the cylindrical structures. I duly go about this task.





I quickly reach the conclusion that I'm missing something. Possibly interest. I can't tell anything purely from the output and I feel I'm missing some vital clue in the structure or markings on the hull. I'm no lore master either. Again I should call on Rhavas or Mark726. The latter is too busy trashing up space elsewhere presumably. So much for science, though I guess that's how Penicillin got discovered.



I decide to fly the Astero on a tour of the systems moons. Nosing around and using its ability to use a Cov Ops cloak should prove a good field test. I quickly find a new use for the Covert Ops cloak. I can warp around and not see the ship. Here's the thing. The Astero gives me the willies. It scares me. Something about it does not like the exploration fit I've given it. At first I thought it was just the hygienic, almost acerbic, hull paint scheme but realised it wasn't. The hull gives off subtle hints of aggression. Alien aggression. At one point I couldn't shake the medical bay scene from Aliens from my mind. There is an element of almost unstoppable biological aggression radiating from the Astero hull. I'd delve into it a little deeper but I have the fear and concentrate on our tour of the local moons.


I catch sight of these two sunbathers along the way

Travelling from moon to moon, or actually stopping at planets and practising my dscan techniques, I come to three conclusions

  1. It annoys me that Overview tabs share sort order. Let me keep the sort order along with the selection.
  2. It annoys me that moon numbers aren't zero padded for sorting (Moon 2 comes after Moon 19)
  3. There are dead sticks everywhere

Somewhere in the space around virtually 80% of moons there is a POS. A Player Owned Starbase. I'd say at least 50% of these were inactive. They were still anchored and so, in hisec, untouchable without a wardec to hand. They simply didn't have any force field, meaning that they had abandoned or deliberately unfueled and left to hold the space for future use. Once anchored it requires no further effort to claim that space. An incoming war declaration would warn you to go and sort stuff out. So basically in the meantime you have to do nothing. I took offence at this for a second until I realised I'd done the same. I'll go and take that thing down. Then avarice took over and explained in patient terms to my role playing head (which I appear to have put on today) that it it was unfair that this space should be so statically claimed so easily. How unlike EVE that you can so easily claim something and have it made so difficult that it can be taken from you. If you aren't putting any effort into keeping it then it should be easy to take it. War Dec? Don't make me laugh. The wardec cost is cheap at the price for harassing care bear corps and uneconomical for effort and the potential gain involved in taking one of these things down.

Once my tour was complete I realised something else. At several offline starbases I saw defence and offence modules, at one of them I saw quite a few. At none of them did I see an industrial module. None. That means the towers production power, the central reason for it being in hisec in the first place, has been taken down on purpose and stashed away. These towers aren't abandoned, they are rock solid claim notes on moon space that take no effort to maintain. Presumably some low, or probably null, sec corp likes to make things safely every now and again. Just leave the tower there. Doing nothing for nothing. Like a nail in the coffin of space.

This gets me riled and sends me to Twitter to see what people think. This rapidly gets out of control because in WH space this thing is a bit of a bigger deal than my latent avaricious trashman role. See Rhavas feed for an example, and for a non WH perspective also read this and follow Sugar Kyle . Trust a Noob to put his foot in it. Or his Astero.

What could CCP do about these dead sticks? They've admitted the POS code is scary and that deployables are the iterating means to replace them. That means complicated solutions are out. My favourite, using Hacking, preferably where the POS owner had designed the defence matrix themselves, is right out. Timers seems to be the order of the day since, as Morwen Lagann pointed out, there is a difference between offline and abandoned. In W-space I can understand that. In K-space, particularly Hisec, though these things have been abandoned on purpose.  There has to be some timer that can't be confused with the Strontium timer that has to be easily implemented. A week without shields? Abandoned. Maybe. Like maybe I'll get my dirty, greedy mitts on what's inside anytime soon. I'll have to have a think about it after I've stopped thinking about another random thought that's been bugging me in one way or another. So if you don't like the thought of dead stick removal then think about this and let me know what you think

"What would you do with a hi sec alliance of a hundred corporations that only had one member each". Who would form such a rag tag bunch of individualists and to what purpose?

It's at this point I realise that the fever I have isn't a scotch hangover and that I had better stop thinking. I'm off to read Dark Eden which I've been putting off.

EVE Track of the Day

Too Late - Larry Williams and Johnny Watson

(originally dedicated via EVE Radio to all those who fled EVE simply because they heard about the Bonus Room)



Saturday, 29 March 2014

Day 651 : I Wouldn't Like Me When I'm Angry

I swore I wouldn't write about the Bonus Room incident but it's got to me and it's got me raging in the oddest of ways. I might upset someone. I got upset and I hold some odd views at times. If my response upsets you then I apologise in advance but I've reached the point where some barely reasoned cathartic venting of opinion is required.

 If you don't know what the Bonus Room incident is then I suggest you avoid it all together or read up using the first opening shots over at Jesters and then use Coffee Rocks handy collation of the various response sources. My stance? Lets get it over with.

The Perpetrator and his henchmen

Well. You took that too far didn't you? Didn't expect this storm? I should imagine your real life has been impacted negatively in some way by now. I'm sorry about that. But, well, that's what you get for abandoning civilised behaviour. That's what you get for turning a game into a weapon. That's what you get for adding another small stanza to the litany of vile practices the human mind can come up with. That's what you get for sadism. That's what you get for checking your humanity and empathy at the door. Oh, you're a sociopath? Then you will have to have to check your behaviour with your mind rather than your empathy. Can't manage that? Then we'll have to lock you up, away from us, the humans, the same way we'd guard against any other "thing" that's dangerous.

I think your behaviour is terrifying and vile to the extent that I almost pity you, but that's just my opinion. I might have missed that sadistic pleasure was "in" right now.

The Victim 

I feel only sorrow and frustration. I hope you manage to walk away and become stronger and wiser for the experience rather than letting it consume you any more than it did during the event. I get the feeling you might have broke a rule or two yourself. I'd pick another game.

The Victims detractors

The victim turned around and used threats after an hour and a half of mental anguish? Well, good golly gosh, there's a bloody surprise. Next time I'm being tortured and am screaming my lungs out I'll remember to get you to cite me for breaking some noise ordinance laws.

I'm not going to call you out on tacit support of sadistic torture because you already missed the entire point so I doubt you'll get the implications of anything I say.

The "Free Speech" advocates

Free speech is a necessity. It comes with a price. That you be a guardian of the value of it. You don't incite violence with it. You don't use hate speech of any form, whether that be racist, homophobic, or any of the other myriad of innovative ways human beings have come up with to describe someone else as unequal for the most trivial of reasons.

"Free" speech is not licence to use language as a weapon against the wellbeing, soul, mind or body of another, for your own amusement or just because you can.

The "Can't ban" advocates

I really don't have any idea but my down the pub reaction would be something like:

Bah ha ha ha ha. That's good. CCP owns whatever you do in this game. It's their game. They can probably ban you for looking at them the wrong way should they ever feel like it was a good idea. The EULA constrains them? I bet it doesn't. I never felt that any game EULA enshrined my rights to play a game despite what the owners of the infrastructure say. I'd need a lawyer to make sure but I wouldn't run around holding it up as a document that prevents CCP doing anything it wants to players it doesn't like in their own game. I know if I ran a game and had a EULA I certainly wouldn't be held to much more than agreeing to provide a service for as long as I felt like it and that wouldn't include looking after freaky evil people. Corporate law isn't there to look after you. EULAs are for restricting your rights to a hazily defined set, not for protecting you.

The "Shouldn't ban" advocates

What's the benefit to not banning? That someone who performed an act that's been almost universally denounced as horrid should carry on being associated with us through the medium of a game, for most of us consider ourselves "gamers" don't we? Oh, it didn't happen in game did it? It began in game, the MO (apart from sadism) was game assets, the people involved carried identities over from the game. The only thing that's missing from the game is a starry bloody background.

I'm not even going to go into the damage it could potentially do economically to the company owning the game, though to be fair it was pointed out to me that capitalism is just as amoral as the perp' and probably nothing would happen. Probably. It's worth the gamble isn't it? Isn't it? Yes. Lets gamble with the future of EVE....

The morality lawyers

The thing that bothers me most about this is not that they have a point, in that we should always check ourselves before launching accidentally into some awful moralistic crusade that turns pogrammatic, but that most of the people asking the questions sound like they're asking them because it's a purely intellectual puzzle. This isn't a petri dish of the mind. Even worse, some people sound like they're just jumping on the liberal-intellectual bandwagon and asking to stand with the smug and the holier than thou. I can almost hear the snooty tone of voice when they ask their questions in text. "Oooooh but who are youuuu to decide". Had a good think about it. My approach is common sense and harms no one really, while yours just brushes the problem under the carpet so other people get hurt. Enough?

In the end a human being came to harm of a form that was in no way deserved or asked for. Don't give me that tripe about greed or I hope you fall over on the way to buy a lottery ticket. What grey area were you talking about?

The "it's not Cyber Bullying" advocates

I'd buy a dictionary if I were you.

The "Victim of his own stupidity" advocates

  The rights of the individual have nothing to do with their apparent level of intelligence. I'm not even taking into count varying types of intelligence. I've met people that could intellectually stomp me into the ground in academia that would have fallen into the scam we're talking about. Your effective estimation of a persons worth and access to security by only what you regard as intelligence sickens me. One blogger and CSM candidate that I usually agree with used this argument (and an amusing early attempt to paint himself as an authority on the definition of torture). I greatly disagree. You're entitled to your opinion. I'm sure I've been guilty of this opinion before now (I think I'm doing it somewhere above which is stupid. Arggh! I did it to myself) and it sickens me too that I might have at some point in responded in the same way. I'll scourge my own soul, you deal with yours. Till then I'll wait for the ballot box.


In the end though, you know what made me really, really angry? None of the above. That just made me shake my head, rant a bit and feel a little sad. What really got me angry were:

The people saying they are taking a break from EVE because of this.

That's great. That'll solve the problem. Perhaps next you'll advocate giving assets to them in game to keep them quiet? That policy worked so well for Neville Chamberlain as I recall. Oh. It didn't? You cowards. Running away from bullies never solved anything. Thanks for leaving us in the lurch. Don't let the jump gate hit you in the arse on the way out.

Or is it a ransom demand to CCP? Ban them or I leave. Well that's so much better.....

The people reporting that they knew people who left or never wanted to play because of this.

Don't tell us. This isn't valuable information, unless you count valuable as meaning "just as harmful to the game as the scandal" or "this is what I am going to hijack the situation with". Why don't you spend the time using the almost excessive examples of EVE gameplay that don't involve scams to convince the people otherwise. Why don't you spend the time pointing out that this is an anomaly, an exception.



You know what I feel that these latter two do in addition to the things I've already mentioned? I feel that they are tarring me with the same brush they used to tar the perpetrator, which brings me to the other person I'm angry at.

Me

Look at that rant. It might be too late but I wouldn't read it if I were you. Half of it is probably backlash from watching a racist little Englander in a debate on British TV the other day. Look at me elevate an event that could be ignored as an anomaly or resolved with common sense into a furious argument. I think I hate myself more than I do anyone else. I think I need to calm the hell down. I might have to go mining which calms me down.

I guess that's the best response to this particular perp. You drove me to mining. Well done.


EVE Track of the Day

Walk the Line - Johnny Cash

Disclaimer

No ones mother was asked to listen to The Bonus Room during the writing of this blog post.


Sunday, 23 March 2014

Day 646: Money Grabber



Well, another EVE aim complete. I can get back to actually doing stuff.

There's lots of talk about how stupid it is to save ISK, to generate a serious amount of liquid ISK. If it isn't working for you then it's dead, it's nothing but a score. It's not like we've been playing video games for just scores for years or anything. Nevertheless I tend to agree. Your liquid ISK buffer should be a disaster fund. It should be able to get you back on your feet (well equipped feet) within a day. That's about it. The size of the buffer depends on the size of your feet. I don't have caps or anything like that so my buffer needs are fairly small. Still, real life interruptions handed me the opportunity to play EVE Farmville so I did. To the tune of ten billion ISK out of small scale industry. I wanted to do it. It was a target. It was a target I cordially hated by the end but a target that had to be completed.

Within an hour 5% of it had gone and 50% would have gone had I not flipped when I saw PLEX prices. How I'm not seeing rampant inflation in the module market is beyond me. There are a couple of odd signs but they could also be from the current meta in the area of the markets I sell into. I don't do economics so if anyone can explain what's going on, please do.

So mostly my liquid ISK will shrink back to an emergency fund of around 1 billion. My industrialists will slow down, and probably try some other ISK making endeavour just to see how it goes. Level four missions or trading using some of the ISK I've obtained. Probably missions first as I feel the need to shoot things rather than right click things. T2 industry is an RSI lawsuit waiting to happen.

So what of my main, the actual Space Noob? He's back out there learning to fly again. It's a good job I can derp T2 fits until kingdom come. I'm bad. I'm bad at EVE but that's no surprise since I'm bad at all computer games and have been since I started playing them thirty years ago. You get used to it. I was a bad priest in Warcraft (well. bad-ish. I could have tried harder). I was bad at Civilisation. Well, in the sense that I raced to nukes all the time to wipe people out and have swamp warfare. I didn't care about the score if you can believe that after what I told you at the start of this post. Once game I was fairly good at, for no reason I can discern, was Silent Service. Mabrick reminded me about it . Perhaps the first hints of an EVE mentality?

Anyway, learning to fly to a standard that everyone else would regard as terrible is going to be a process. I'm four T2 fit frigates in. I've relearned gate guns, I've relearned the slingshot (though have yet to employ it successfully), I've relearned not to fly when you have five minutes to play and a lack of modules. The latter comes from throwing together a fit out of any old thing. Search out my killboard. By next month there should be a about a billion ISK in losses on it. A man has to learn.

At this point I'd like to thank the Stay Frosty guys in the area I was roaming. It was good to know I could be bad without someone being an asshole about it afterwards. In particular an old friend who now flies with the frosty gang, SeaElder4. He was kind enough to meet me at the sun for a duel and tell me off for doing that last minute fit. Still. I got a fight in before I had to dash down to the pub. Also - dude I remember when you used to fit Exequrors with guns in order to get an edge at the start of a fight. You are Mr Wacky Fit. I remember these things! In fact meeting you reminded me of brawling with Tuskers at the sun over a year ago. Fun times. Fun times I should get back to.

So what's on the cards for the future?  A horrendously busy RL week. Well quel surprise. I'll attempt to work around it. Here's the plan


  • Learn to fly again. There is no way I'm going out in a T2 frigate or Navy cruiser fleet with skills at this level.
  • Visit some landmarks. I'm an explorer by nature. There are some things I need to see.
  • Get down to the Brave deployment area. I owe it and them a visit and some effort.
  • Have the alt try missioning. I've dusted off the old Space Potato and donated it to him. It will go badly.
  • Spend all those lovely ISKies on nice things and projects. Here's one of them already:










I'm bad, but I've finally got some bling. I'll be spinning that till I'm dizzy as fuck.

EVE Track of the Day

Money Grabber - Fitz and the Tantrums




Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Day 641 : Check check

So I haven't been flying. Not what most of you would call flying anyway. I've been space mooching. Dawdling down the trade lanes on alts, mindlessly meandering though belts, constantly configuring my PI. Leaving my main characters skill quietly ticking away (it's a horrible twenty dayer).

I've mentioned it before and it has to end, my targets aren't targets I want any longer and so, happily, that phase is about to come to an end.

 (Don't talk to me about stupid ass subconscious plans to get 10 billion liquid ISK. I've done it but it's split across characters and my brain still won't shut up about it. I know it's stupid but good ol' neanderthal fish brain back there isn't having any of it. I've a plan in place to deal with it. At the weekend it all gets spent on a list of new targets and projects.)

I thought I had better get flying properly. Realistically I should be down in Catch with the rest of Brave Newbies but two things get in the way

  1. Lack of flight time. I'm rusty.
  2. Fear of the CTA. Time based Call To Arms. 

The former can be solved and so I've set about a plan to solve it. Somewhat amusingly, it involved even more logistics than my last couple of months of Space Farmville. At least I was well trained in surviving the boredom of long jump times. Thank god for warp speed mechanic changes on large ships. Everybody hates it. Me? I can get a page of a book read between gates. Bonus.

The latter, the fear of the CTA, is an old wound. I once swore, after a last pointless evening wasted hammering against some heroic level WoW boss with people that only half turned up, that I would never again run home for a particular time to game specific content. I would never not eat because I didn't have time before things started. I would never again consider not going out in the Real because of some organised content in the Virtual. It's a series of radical declarations that I mostly broke straight away. My friends in the Virtual are friends in the Real and sometimes I'm anxious to meet up with them. Still, the wariness of timing persists. I don't want a game to demand my time, I want it to demand my desire.

Brave Newbies are down on the border of Catch, causing trouble in null space and having all kinds of fun no doubt. For me, null sounds like too much trouble, too little fun per hour (not that I've been up to much of late myself). Too much requirement for large fleets. Less content available simply by undocking (unless by content you mean getting torched by a perma camp). All this might be, probably is, my rusty wariness and a lot of FUD. I'm probably just being a coward. Add to this though the logistic hassle of getting ships down there, or even buying down there while alliance level logistics is still hammered by demand and the market still in it's infancy. Add to this my disdain and contempt for what I shall call the "legendarily amoral vocal tendencies" of certain partners comms in the HERO coalition. Add to this the old fear of the CTA. The math adds up at a Space Noob stranded back in Placid, stalking semi abandoned space lanes and using too much alliteration. Someone talk me out of it.

Until someone does talk me out of this cowardly attitude then I need a project. That project is, as I said, solving the flight time problem. It's going really well. I've learned, or relearned, my first lesson in less than an hour. Good piloting begins before you undock. You should have a preflight checklist. Before today mine had somewhat degraded into a checklist resembling the following:

  • Clone check
  • Ammo check
  • Drone check
  • Repair check
  • Ridiculous expensive thing left in cargo hold check

After today I'm adding this list

  • Flight plan check
  • Response plan check

What are these?

The "Flight plan check" is to grasp where you are going, and more importantly who might be there. I neglected to remember that I'm (ironically given some of the above) in Brave. Space is littered with enemies who will gradually become aware that you are randomly flitting about and plot your demise. That's after you get unlucky and crash a camp or fleet that was sat there anyway. Hi Sec is often more dangerous than other space. I forgot.

The "Response plan check" is to have a mental plan of responses to various situations you might run into. What do you look for? What will you aim to do? How will your current ship support you in doing this? How will you fly it? Sprint back to the gate when you drop into space full of bads? Target the leader or the weak point and fight until your glorious demise? Sit there slightly dumbfounded, stare myopically at the screen and maybe launch the wrong drones? The latter isn't a plan. It's what I did.

I was casually setting up a project and thought that "one last ship" moved before retiring for the night would do it. I was reduced to hulls fit for an old set of implants so I could only fly one ship I had ready. I jumped into it. It looked interesting and I could look into using it after it was in position. WRONG. I should have slapped myself on thinking this and gone to bed instead.

A couple of jumps away from the station, half awake and paying less than half the attention I had available, I dropped into a cloud of flashy red. I sat there dumbfounded and with half a glance at a missorted Overview decided to run for the next gate on my route. I didn't check the layout in space. I didn't prep anything. I didn't have a strategy. I'm not even sure I had an IQ that registers on the scale.

BOOM

Amusingly torched by a flock of Battle Ventures with a couple of backup ships. My apologies for the lack of a "gf" in local. Adrenaline reached my brain at around 50% hull and I managed to use it to bounce the pod off the sun and get the hell out. The Corax followed me to the sun and if I hadn't been an idiot and warped to zero then would have probably caught me. There's no planning for what an idiotic Space Noob will do next, especially since podding me would have resulted in me getting where I was going faster and going to bed sooner.

So. In future I will hold to my preflight checklist. To it I will add the flight and response plans. I may also add to it

  • Don't fly late on Monday evenings, you idiot.

7o to the Battle Venture roam, thanks for the reminder. Lesson learned.

Up next, people are answering my other questions so I had better have a go too.

EVE Track of the Day

Don't Fear the Reaper - Blue Oyster Cult

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Day 638: Return of the Fatman

Going visual ( and rapid as you'll see by the image widths I made a mess of ) today as I prep to watch the entire last day of the Six Nations rugby.

 Rubicon 1.3 arrived this week and with it, among many other exciting things, came a change to the look of an old favourite. The Tristan. Possibly the oddest looking of the frigates, I always had a fondness for it. Aside from anything else you always felt that you were flying around in a Transformer. The new look is beefier, losing some of the anthropomorphic layout of struts and modifying them into shielding. There was a small sense of loss on realising that the agile little fat man had become a beefy couch potato. This soon vanished when I flew it out and went into warp. It has to be seen, and hopefully some equivalent effect retro'd back onto other ship types.

Here's where I really put the nerd into "spaceship nerd"

  Front


            
"Is that a Velator cockpit?"

Face Right


        
"Fatter yet sleeker"

Back




"Agility vs Power"

Back Angled Northwest




"Wasp vs Bee"

Top




"Strut vs Shield"

Underneath




"Circles vs Hatches"

Summary

I kind of miss the thin struts that gave the Tristan personality, sort of miss the lit circles under the top wings and the almost insectile look of the original from the top. On the other hand the new Tristan is built like a tank, adds animated running lights in several locations, has shielding instead of struts, has shielding that animates in and out of warp and, for some reason I can't figure, I like the detail of what I assume are drone docking hatches on the underneath. Shame they aren't animated when you release drones.

In short, looking good CCP though if I could I'd buy one of your new skins/paint jobs to get a retro version for nostalgia reasons. Speaking of which, I must dash off and see how cheap I can get a Police Comet paintjob.


EVE Track of the Day

Sheriff Fatman - Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine


Saturday, 8 March 2014

Day 635: Ride on the Valkyrie

 No, that title is correct, and no I haven't suddenly had the opportunity to socially meet large breasted mythological warrior women from Valhalla. I'll get round to explaining in a bit.

 An extremely tough day at work yesterday was brightened by two events. The first was a prize. I won something! I never win anything so it was with some delight that I came a surprising second in The Ancient Gaming Noobs "Show Me The Planets" contest. Head over there to see my entry. I'll add the three I sent to this site at some later point.

 I was a bit behind on my blog reading and found out about the competition late on so it was a scramble to compile three screenshots. The one that came second I took when I was but a week old Space Noob, on Day 8 I think. Now I'm sliding towards two years in the game and am, thankfully, still a complete Space Noob. The other entries in the competition are great and TAGN keeps a regular stream of interesting shots from our most gorgeous galaxy over at http://evepics.wordpress.com/

 The second event that got me through the day had been planned for. CCP were in good old London town, hanging round the usual EVE meetup pub near Tower Hill and packing a rack of EVE Valkyrie demos. I've been keeping my eye on Oculus Rift progress in general and Valkyrie in particular. As has my pal, Alec, at work who, while not an EVE player as such, is regularly bombarded with tales of EVE. So at exactly 5pm we leapt up, abandoned several data loading processes and dashed out of the office heading for Tower Hill. We aimed to be there early, ahead of the inevitable queue.

 When we got there the pub already had a fair sized contingent of fellow space nerds and there were eight or nine people already queued up in front of three chairs set next to glowing blue PC cases. We grabbed a beer and fell into the line which soon doubled in length. A few minutes later and we were ready for our first three minute match.

 I was wary because the game is played using a console controller and not only have I not used on in about five years, I also suck at playing video games. I enjoy them, as you can tell, but inevitably I'm terrible at them. I attempted to memorise what I was told about the controls and so came away knowing only where the accelerator was and a vague idea about missiles. I sat down and put the Oculus over my head. Reality as I knew it vanished.

 The headset is light. So light in fact that you ignore it. I'd dreaded some kind of weight that would drag my head forward but you could wear this thing as easily as a pair of swimming googles.

 I found myself in a red lit hangar, surrounded by basic displays and the frame of a cockpit. I looked around. It was SEAMLESS. There was no lag, no perceptible lack of synchronicity at all. I forgot I was wearing the headset after a few seconds. I could have cheerfully sat there and looked around amazed had I not been so aware of an imminent launch.

 It says something about the seamlessness of the experience that within ten seconds I'd looked down to double check where the buttons were on my controller and was amazed to find some other persons legs there. There was no sign of the controller. I'd become immersed in the experience in the space of a few seconds.

 Suddenly there was a burst of movement and I was shot from the carrier into space. This was followed the quickest three minutes of my life as I struggled to gain some sense of what was happening and how to effect it. Halfway through I realised that the autocannons were rubbish and, with my flying skills, unlikely to hit anything. I kept my thumb jammed on the accelerator which was probably a bad idea.

 I only had a loose sense of how fast I was travelling and where I was. This is likely more due to the nature of the experience than the game itself. There's almost an element of sensory overload to it as you are thrust into combat right away and with time limited there wasn't any option to orientate myself and calmly evaluate anything.

I did realised how the missile system worked after a couple of minutes. It's all about where you are looking. I spent the rest of the game flying while looking all over the place, getting locks on enemy ships and releasing missiles. It became instantly natural to track enemies in space, even following them as they vanished behind you and became obscured by the back of the cockpit. There was no sensation of neck ache afterwards. You are just moving your head and there is little added weight on it. I'd get more neck ache from using a couple of screens on my home PC.

In short, a stunning experience. I must have one. It's the future. I managed to queue up again later in the evening and get another three minutes and somehow do worse than the first time while feeling that I did better. It'll take some mastering, as you'd imagine suddenly being a high octane combat pilot would.

While normally I set my monetary input in games to around £1 an hour, I would cheerfully fork over ten times that, maybe more, for just the Oculus and Valkyrie. That's only one game. There are going to be other games with Oculus Rift support. I will have one. We discussed the danger of being early adopters but in the end, pardon my French, fuck that. I'm going to have to wait too long as it is. Buy It and Fly It is now my mantra.

The rest of the evening was the usual EVE meetup brilliance, running into old friends and new, finally meeting some people in the real that I'd talked to virtually. EVE has a great community, in game and out, and CCP Games looks after us. I had free beer. Free beer. On top of Valkyrie. They also raffled off an entire table sized pile of EVE related stuff. What a day. Added to this I was somewhat overwhelmed by CCP Guard's admiration for my custom designed Space Noob Tshirt (quick Space Noob, to Cafe Press!). I also got to watch my friend Alec steal the show somewhat by being pictured attempting to play Valkyrie with a horses head on. You can see the pictures from the evening here http://evevalkyrie.org/eve-valkyrie-london.html.

I'm off to revisit the gorgeousness that is EVE, break out of my now two month long hibernation and also contemplate dragging all my shit halfway across the universe to help HERO destabilise Curse. As if Russians didn't have enough to worry about at the moment.



EVE Track of the Day

Ride of the Valkyries - Richard Wagner

(what else?)



Monday, 17 February 2014

Day 612: Swashbucklin In Brooklyn

Quick post. I was listening to a song and a question occurred to me. Where are the EVE heroes? Against a dark background surely all we have are anti-heroes? A lot of mockery is aimed at any who attempt to be white knights. EVE is a dark place and yet pretty much all other MMO's try to place the player in the role of some form of hero, boosting the ego and taking the player out of the humdrum 1 in 7 billion that is RL. Why have I fitted into EVE? Did I never want to be that?  So I guess my question is:

 Do classic heroes exist in EVE? Is such heroism even possible in EVE? How would you go about being one without opening yourself wide open to scams? Is the nature of the game so dark that heroes can't exist? How do you deal with that irony? What effect does this have on us and the psyche of new players coming in from other MMOs? Is it something special that we don't have classic heroes, or should we? Are our non classic heroes more genuine? 

I guess I'll level this at @kirithkodachi and hope it gets asked after the current Overview BB.


EVE Track of the Day 

Swashbucklin In Brooklyn : Fun Lovin' Criminals


Sunday, 16 February 2014

Day 611: Shake Your Money Maker

Another few weeks without a post. Have I abandoned EVE? Succumbed to my first bout of bittervet syndrome early? Nope. I've been "playing" EVE in a different way, despite warning myself about it back in December. Ok. There was a death in the family which made me want to break things in a way that screamed "stay away from social arenas with limited accountability". I could have been one of those internet users. I missed some in game events but frankly my attitude would have sucked. You got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em,. Know when to walk away.

The problem for my EVE habit was that my sudden lack of desire for company was in sync with sudden ISK monetary worries brought on by various events:

1. I saw a Providence for sale at less than a billion ISK. I bought it for my alt. It's a backup revenue stream for when T2 manufacture finally stamps me with the sign "RSI victim". T2 manufacture causes arthritis of the hand and wrist, mouse burnout, monkeys flying out of your butt. All that kind of middle class armageddon shit. My alt accounts first CSM9 vote will go to Fuzzysteve.

Editor: He bought it because it looks like a Rebel Troop Transport

2. Finally granted with the chance to play for the first time in weeks I jumped into a hasty op with Brave where we got pasted all over the grid. I couldn't even see the called targets in the overview. As ever with EVE I  learned things. Unfortunately my frustration with the encounter caused me to behave randomly and lose my pod. I'd forgotten to clone jump and 100 million in implants went boom. Kind of worth it since I got to travel to my death through a Titan bridge for the first time but a shock none the less.

3. I can't recall what number 3 was but it was important. Really.

All this caused me to go into alt mode. Not only did I look at and fix how I was doing industry but a work related run in with Python (the language, much as I'd like a job where I ran into giant snakes all the time) started me writing my own tools to keep up and organise the entire thing. I already have basic reports using the API for order/build monitoring and the next things to copy written. Considering these were the two programs I wrote after the obligatory "hello world" program reveals why I'm fast becoming a fan of Python despite the hilarious issues of syntactically valid whitespace and Pythons desire to use different keywords for standard functionality than everyone else.

Currently I'm finishing off this alt-a-thon episode of backup revenue streams. I have the hauler ready to go. I'm working on a missioner stream too but this involves the deadly standings grind. If I told you how many level two distro missions I ran today you would cry so many tears that you'd be knee deep in EVE players drinking their fill.

Oh. I remember number 3 now.

PLEX BASED ALT TRAINING


This is the monkey on my back. If it wasn't possible I wouldn't have to do it. The alt supplying cash and having multiple possible avenues to do this has led to an obsession with PLEX training the alts into the various roles. I have a rule that, while I have two subscribed accounts, I never buy PLEX to convert into ISK. This requires me to generate a lot of ISK to buy the PLEX to train the alts. Since alt training was successful CCP have decided you can not only apply this to multiple alts but you can add as much time to an alt as you like. I need another paid up six months training to be happy and finished. I can then PLEX my second account easily. Ha.


So yes. I am playing, have been playing, EVE Farmville again. There are upsides:

1. I'm nearly done. A month more. I swear. Honest. Then all cash goes towards exploding things.

2. Fuck implants. I was using CA implants for fitting and weapon training. I'm flying with cheap or no implants on my main from now on. The thought of going into null and getting the implant heavy pod out stops me flying. Yes. You'll gain SP 10% faster than me. I'll wait.

3. Knowing I'd need something to code on I managed to revive an old PC to be a Linux based coding workhorse by buying an ancient, cheap graphics card on eBay. This spiralled and turned into an entire project that resulted in a desk with three monitors, two PCs and a laptop running on it. Nerdvana. (amusingly I'd forgotten I'd already installed Linux on it before it broke and when it came back to life I found it's hostname was set to "zombie").

4. Code. I'm amused by how entertained I can be by writing my shitty learning code and yet my third python program ever was 34 lines long and downloaded my assets, checked the blueprint copies and spat out a prioritised list of things to copy. I might have to go read Microserfs again.

5. Reviving the space potato (now looking extra shiny cool - thanks CCP!) I imagine the NPC opponents being surprised by the poor choice of weapon for a level three mission but not as surprised as when they were when they attacked it and I dropped a RLML Caracal on their asses. As Will Smith didn't sing : Boom Cycle Boom 

So the ultimate problem? Guilt. I should be out flying with Brave and laughing. I should be helping the new droves of newbros though their first days in low sec ( my other first CMS9 vote is going to Sugar Kyle ). I should be using winter downtime months to fly spaceships in fight mode. Is a crowded Brave the right place for me? A Brave that more and more looks to null sec? When I get back there I think it is. Brave will never abandon low sec. Cagali. Back me up here.

Anyway. Onwards and upwards and spacewards. As per. Astra.


EVE Track(s) of the day

Seeing Things - The Black Crowes

 The Gambler - Kenny Rodgers


 





Monday, 20 January 2014

Day 584: Choose Your Own Adventure

Here we go. I've never been much of a lore man in games beyond the simple need to immerse myself in the world. I save my lore brain for useless factoids from Lord of the Rings, though EVE has tempted me before now. I've never been much of an RP'er beyond my D&D (and other games) days years ago. Loved the games but my RP talents pretty much came down to an ability for daft voices while being a DM. In any case, bear with me while I blur the lines.

Yesterday I inadvertently got involved in a lore quandry. Whether by the wicked auspices of paracetamol and decongestant or by the sheer boredom that was the illness enforced non-combat role, I found myself captivated by the question of the odd cylindrical feature on the Zephyr. I wondered if the same Intaki polymath, Valsas en Dilat, was involved in the creation of the new Sisters of EVE cruiser, the Stratios. I reached out to Rhavas and Mark726 via the ever trusty Twitter, seemingly the linchpin of the EVE community. They revealed that Dilat was a character of some infamy and at some point player controlled. They pointed me at an article which didn't reveal much but which left a teaser at the end: an abandoned research project in 3-IN0V. Gulp. Nullsec. I have no real Nullsec skills yet. I've done a little exploring, taken a few shortcuts and come to a sticky end once or twice. I need to go out there more and yet view the place with some trepidation. Bombs and Bubbles! Insta-death!

Two factors work in my favour. Firstly 3-IN0V is in Syndicate which can not only be fairly sleepy in the UK morning hours, but is also near my home system of Barleguet (Braves reading this : I'll be back out shooting soon, honest. More on that in another post.). In fact 3-IN0V is only 9 jumps away. Secondly the Interceptor rebalance made them able to ignore warp bubbles. I'm trained to IV in Interceptors and have a Taranis docked and almost ready to go. Looks like breakfast entertainment is sorted. It'll give me something to do while I get a mix of olive oil and tea tree oil into my ear canal. It might help the mild infection that is swimmers ear but it makes you smell like a hippys bathroom. Yep, not just got a cold.

In Barleguet I hastily load up the Taranis with bits and bobs. I'm a little shy on ammo but this is a recce so I'm warp stabbed and probably won't get up to much. I fling a few things in the hold as an afterthought. The game is on the minute I undock into a small cloud of Goons. "Punch it Chewie" I mutter, the story driven mission awakening the barely dormant Star Wars fan within. I warp off safely and engage in a few minutes of comedy where I realise just how bloody fast Interceptors are. I blow through a bubble and through a system where Rote Kapelle have something going on. I note that for later reference. There is a name in local that I recognise.

The last three systems are devoid of capsuleers, as is the final destination. Lucky. I get to nose around in peace. On arrival in the system I can instantly see the Abandoned Research Project on the overview. There is nothing on DScan. I warp over to the Project giddily, forgetting my usual caution. It's not abandoned entirely. Serpentis are there. A couple of Battlecruisers and a couple of Battleships. Now, I've been killing Serpentis since day one of my EVE career. I doubt they'll let me just look around. I hastily warp out to the sun, dropping a bookmark along the way which I promptly warp back to. Hanging in space I dig out one of the things I brought with me. A Mobile Depot. Given a minute to anchor it allows me to refit my warp stabilisers with some armor and an ancillary repairer that I also brought with me. Since there isn't a station in system this saves me precious minutes.

Back at the Project I scream in under MWD, maintaining some transversal before arcing around to shoot at the first battle cruiser. The screen fills with the lurid green light of rounds of metal superheated to plasma and magnetically launched slugs. Might as well be tracer fire to my Interceptor which slips between them with ease. I relax and launch the couple of lads I brought along for the ride, they go to work assisting my 75mm guns which might otherwise take a while to deal with ships this big. Hobgoblins. The little tinkers. Always getting into trouble. I'm packing Javelin rounds. Not cost effective but higher damage. I don't have many of them. I wasn't expecting a fight. Cocky, I turn off my UI to get a better look around. "Trust in the force Luke" whispers a ghostly voice as I turn off the Overview.





I'm doing well. In under the guns they can't track me and the lads are filling in the DPS to offset the enemy repair rate while I slowly chew away at them. I turn to orbit the latter half of my opponents and make a mistake. In an instant my shields are gone. I should have manually arced around instead of hitting the orbit command. I slowed to almost nothing as I turned at range from an enemy.


Son of a bitch must pay.

I turn with a thirst on the remaining Serpentis, hurling a few insults and forgetting that I too once loved the old Space Potato hull. I cycle the armour repairer and curse the Serp' for making me waste a charge of nanites. 

In the lull following the eradication of the Serpentis menace I regret that I didn't bring a salvaging module. The loot is, frankly, awful. I feel like I've robbed drug addicts rather than the drug dealers. Hey ho. Time to look around.

What's this here? Yet another cylindrical structure. A massive and partially wrecked particle accelerator. I'm no science whizz. I got my science skill kicks from mass producing T2 neutron blasters back in the day and then forgot about it when I learned that firing T2 neutron blasters was a lot more fun. I give the surrounding structures a good sweep, mindful of the early warning notice about radiation but trusting to the gold armour of the Taranis. Up close the station is obviously a wreck. There isn't anyone hiding in the "Broken Metallic Crystal Asteroid" though I wonder what use it served. I can't resist buzzing the surface and flying through the rock arch I find. Dilat isn't here, if indeed he ever was. I hang in the shadow of the rock and wait for someone to uncloak but nothing happens and an empty local is too good to be true. Time to get moving. I'll be back for a longer look at the system once I can get a Cov' Ops ship in place. I know just the pilot for that. My scanning alt, the ridiculously named Wildgun Badstar. The fool.









I set my destination for home. Good ole Barle'. I'm wondering what this all means and what I can do next. The investigation has fallen at the first hurdle. I can get a friend to ingratiate themselves with the Sisters of EVE. An afternoon trawling the Blood Stained Stars should do it. I'll see what happens there. I could buy myself a Stratios. Not a small amount of ISK involved there but it might be worth it to have a look. Again I might have to rely on a friend. Flying a Strat' near home would probably draw every devil this side of hell. 

What is the mystery of the cylinder? Is the structure coincidental? Am I almost literally going round in circles? Was some stealth tech' along the lines of guided particle acceleration being researched here? Was Dilat involved? Who the hell is Dilat? Where is that blueberry muffin I was going to have for breakfast? All interesting questions to consider though I fancy I may have accidentally just trod upon the solution to the latter. 

I begin the laughably rapid nine jump sequence back home, passing by the earlier name I recognised.


It's Teg! I'm here with the space famous and the man responsible for putting almost as many hits as Reddit on this blog. Thank you Vice Chairman. Apparently he's been reading too much Goblin of late judging by the Biography header line but he gets a thankful, cheery "7o Mr Teg" from me. I don't have time to stop and chat, RL beckons and my sinuses are clear enough to stand up on the London Underground. I'm docked and done for now.

I chose my own adventure, out in the 'verse, checking shit out. EVE. You've got to love it, no matter your approach. Remember that. Remember that when you're missing out on, or losing, stuff for RL reasons. Remember that when EVE fails to support more players in one system than any other MMO could do. Have you used EVE? Have you paid your dues? Yes sir, the check is in the mail.

[ Apologies for the late tangent. angry responses can be directed at Steel, Sheffield, UK. Internet points for recognizing the reference he inspired me to follow ]

EVE Track of the Day

Shockingly none. Go watch this instead.