Wednesday, 6 July 2016

EVE Malaise

Yes dear reader, I have battled hard but I have lost.  I am giving EVE a rest.

It is worth noting that I regard it as but a battle and not necessarily the war.  I have after all "rested" several times before.  One such hiatus  lasting almost two years...

There is something different this time around though.  The things that kept my EVE self going for a number of years just does not appeal any more.  Things I regarded as fun now leaves me indifferent.

If I were to return it is clear that I would have to approach the game in a very different way.  And there lies the rub.  In order to go to the places I have not been I would have to invest a significant amount of time and toil - time that I for the moment don't have and enthusiasm that I do not feel.

Without further ado I bid thee adieu.

* I have a few draft posts saved - it is possible that I might find the time to finish these and publish them.  Longer term though, if I am not actively playing EVE, it feels wrong to be writing about EVE.

Sunday, 10 April 2016

He said, she said and other agressive Sov-less World War BEEmusements...


That is about the only word I can use to sum up the collection of commentary, hubris, naiveté,  spin, propaganda and flat out lies written about the "war" in New Eden.  Such is the confusion that there is not even agreement on the name to call the latest bout of mass conflict.

Indeed the array of arguments and commentary about the unfolding events based on the same observable facts is a source of wonder in and of itself.

It reminds me of a scene out of the movie Annie Hall (around 6:20 in the tl;dr version here although watching the whole thing to me was worth it!):

"[Alvy and Annie are seeing their therapists at the same time on a split screen]
Alvy Singer's Therapist: How often do you sleep together?
Annie Hall's Therapist: Do you have sex often? 
Alvy Singer: [lamenting] Hardly ever. Maybe three times a week. 
Annie Hall: [annoyed] Constantly. I'd say three times a week."

This suggest that readers should take what an author says in the context of said authors personal erm... context - present author included - for even assuming one was not engaging in malice - blatant propaganda spin or lies, one is still bound to one's own prejudice and biases.  Caveat Lector!

A side effect of all this excitement seems to have created an even more fertile environment for the normally ubiquitous Internet Tough Guy - numbers in comment sections are reaching epidemic proportions!!.

VFK by next week here, retaking all "our" sov in an hour there.  Both sides victorious before Christmas!  Fabulous entertainment!

Through all this one might ask, who really is winning, who is losing, and what in indeed is the war about.  Alas, your author does not know (not that it stops him from having a guess and making a fool of himself anyway - see below).

The winning and losing on the face of it is easy to track.  The kill boards seems to suggest that most large battle objectives as well as ISK metrics are won by the MBC.

Dotlan does a fair job of the number of systems/stations corporations/alliances the Emporium has lost.

All a one way street yes?

Except it may not be.  Yes spin abounds but with the Sovless Aggression writ the mittani hit on a couple of very important points.

1)With the advent of the Aegis expansion, sov became more difficult to defend.  Yes if you live there your corp/alliance can fend off a simple trollceptor, but your corp/alliance does not stand a chance if TWO corps or alliances show up...  Numbers still matter more than one would think.

2)The Fabian defence, burnout and the numbers game.  As time goes by, burnout sets in - as one attacker recently posted passive regen seems to be one of the attackers greatest enemies.  Of course burnout works both ways, but this does seem to suggest it is affecting attackers more at this stage.  Of course this will work AGAINST the CFC if they were to retake sov.

3)The most crucial of all though is that the benefits of holding sov is not clear.  Groups like PL and NC have abandoned sov.  In circumstances like the present position the CFC find sov is a burden.  The empire is too big to defend.  As the sov empire contracts the problem contracts.  Indeed burden of defence will then move over to the takers of said sov.  One can imagine that it would go to the MBC - a move that would eventually put them in the same situation that the CFC now finds itself in.

From the CFC perspective (tin foil and spin alert!)  Losing all sov may unshackle it from a burden and thus putting it on equal footing with PL and NC!

Of course the MBC also have a number of valid points.

1)Sentiment: The evil goons narrative, and the utterings of Sion and the matani during what I call the kickstarter of hubris. Add the latest leaks (courtesy Lemba) where the mitani seems ok with the idea of throwing all the other CFC alliances to the wolves in the hope that their members will join GSF.  Personally I find this plausible as situations like the difficulties with CO2 will not arise.  In addition many CFC alliances are defunct anyway (sort of why the Bastion was created) - why not have them in GSF?  What all this does is load the sentiment against the CFC.  Friends come and go, but enemies accumulate!

2)House of cards - the idea that the CFC is hollowed out and contains a large portion of miners and ratters.  With the advent of Aegis and ADM's these guys are needed by any coalition that wants to hold sov.  As such mere member count in an alliance may be misleading!  As such the CFC has much more space than its PVP'ers can actually defend.

Now I have no idea which way the war will go.  Whether Kirith Kodachi is right and the MBC will march to Deklein, whether Jester is right (although he did hedge his bets with three possible outcomes - inclusive of Goons defending Deklein and winning the war).

Personally I don't know whether Deklein would be successfully defended, whether Deklein will be defended at all or whether Deklein is already conceded by the CFC (like almost all their other sov) and they are for the time being becoming a low sec entity.

What I do know is that the wheel turns.  The CFC was dominant for a long time and perhaps this is the time for them to be trampled into dust.  Perhaps they will merely ride the cycle to the bottom and back to the top.  If the the CFC's time has indeed come, will the MBC merely take their place? Like ElleRisalo comments on reddit: "Burn the fields, Salt the earth, fuck the skulls....MBC literally new CFC already."

Plus les choses changent plus elles restent les mêmes.

The nature of EVE is such that it is very very difficult to really "kill" off an enemy in game.  Hell war proponents may find that "forever" turns out to be a long long time.  Promises to do "whatever it takes" may turn out to be promises too tough to keep.

Which brings me to victory conditions for the current engagement:  What kind of force the CFC is after the war.

For the CFC.  Survival as any sort of major power in the game of EVE would be counted as a win.  If significant power blocks will regard them as worthwhile to be feared or hunted.

For the MBC the opposite.

 I think it all hinges on the capital fleet.  It is not by accident that CO2 was accused of a capital trap conspiracy.  It is not an accident that PL/NC is continually baiting CFC capitals in the hope of an escalation.  Nor is the march of 500 MBC suppers, dreads and titans to Villasen yesterday.

Forget everything else.  Every station, every IHUB, all the sov.  All that can be recovered if needed/wanted.  Replacing heavy assets without friends or sov?  Not so much.

Remember folks - you heard it here first!!*

* That last bit by way of humour and a dig at all the (other ;-) ) self aggrandising bloggers and commenter's that make off the perfectly obvious and mundane to be profundity - and are wrong - just like me.

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

No mojo. Enemies, opponents and the difference between players of the meta and players of the game.

I've lost my mojo and I'm struggling to get it back.  No dear reader, I'm not quitting the game (at this time) but post my bout of PVE I am still not in the mood to play EVE - despite a desperate but maybe not well thought out remedy.

 In a bid to get out of the rut I rejoined my old corp in null sec.  They are in one of the CFC Emporium Imperium alliances.  Despite my best efforts to get a corp of 90 members to move we are still there.  Selfish sods... ;-)

Their reasons though are sound - the corp has a number of active small gang/solo pvp'ers and their argument is that right now there are few other places that can provide us with the content we are getting.  Sure you can join some other null/low sec bloc or whatever, but then you have to go out and look for content.  Currently we can sit around almost on any station undock and content comes to us.

For someone like myself that is less than proficient at hunting and D-scan they do make a compelling argument...

The availability of all content in the world is not proving to be the catalyst to return my mojo though.  I am very lethargic.  I seldom log in.  I have joined one corp fleet.  I died once as hero tackle in a Jaguar.  I joined no PAP link fleets.  I am NOT a corp asset as it stands...

In retrospect, maybe the choice of corp was not that wise - I have a timezone difference of 11 hours between myself and the main body of the corp and I'm still playing mostly solo.  In addition, arguments of content or not I am starting to dislike what the Imperium stands for post what I call the kickstarter of hubris and maybe this too servers to scare away my muse, who knows.

The people in corp though are fantastic - we hunt, kill (and die to) MOA, TISHU, PL, NC and neutrals alike.  For this corp our opponents certainly are not our enemies.  It is what I have come to expect of the corp and something I really admire about them.

As an aside  this illustrates the dichotomy between the players of the game and the players of the meta.  None of the guys are ignorant about the goings on in the meta - they just look past that to the game - their game.  As long as the position the corp finds itself in serves the aims of the corp's game we will stay.  If and when it does not we will leave - as such the allegiance of the corp is much more to its members and the content than any alliance or other entity in the game.

Of course opponents will call us goon pets and the like, but there comes a time when all of us in never never land has to grow up and realise that this is a space ship game and for most of us minions it is just fun, entertainment - the players of the meta are almost irrelevant to us.

;-) That's my story and I am sticking to it.

P.S.  Even though I like my corpies and corp, due to the timezone difference and the fact that I have never lived in a wormhole I might have to jump corp again.  If you know of any good wormhole entities that will indulge an old, slow, sucky at pvp, wh noob  and at this time a very casual player of EVE, please let me know.

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Cosmos missions: A humbling and character-building experience

I set of with great fanfare and even greater expectations to complete some of the COSMOS missions.

Now to be honest this action was not borne out of a burning desire to satisfy a noble curiosity, or to explore the virtues of PVE.... No far from it.  My reason was as petty as a promise of easy ISK an lots of it...

The terms "easy ISK" and "lots of it" are to say the least, relative.  With my "easy ISK" scale being at the easier end of things, and my "lots of it" scale on the higher end of things I ended up being slightly disillusioned.  

Yes I made some ISK, but due to the drudgery I experienced during the whole endeavour, I cannot in good conscience recommend COSMOS missions to anybody.  

I go into a bit more detail on how I approached the whole thing below but I have to stress that the advice comes with a very hefty caveat:  

Before I even completed what I call the "COSMOS missions" I was well and truly sick of it.  Sick of PVE, sick of EVE.  Sick of anything to do with EVE.  I did not want to log in, I read no blogs, and I neglected my own.  To be honest I don't think I have even now fully recovered.  

Your mileage may vary and you might have a stronger penchant for PVE, maybe a more moderate approach will help - whatever the case, just remember this: I told you so.

Without further ado here is the thick and the thin of it.

1. The good:
During the course of running the "COSMOS missions" I netted in total 8 billion ISK in rewards, loot salvage and mission items (ran with two characters).  

2. The bad:
Drudgery.  The big money is to be had in items granted by just two agents:
Zabon Michi grants Michi's Excavation Augmentor (1.5 Billion ISK at time of writing) and Akemon Tolan grants Inherent Implants 'Noble' Hull Upgrades HG-1008 (2 Billion ISK at time of writing).  The trick with these two agents is the high faction standing requirement (6.00 Caldari faction standing for Zabon and 7.00 Amar faction standing for Akemon).

If you have the requisite standings (or would rather do lvl 4 missions/tags/whatever to gain standings) your drudgery may be diminished.

3. The so so.  
Both these agents are in a highsec pocket in the Otomainen system (no station).  This means you have to cross a low sec system (Ihakana) in a ship that has a fair Gurista tank and enough dps to kill the ships in the complexes and missions.  In addition you need to fit a Gurista shuttle in you cargo hold.  Be careful as the pirates in Ihakana are fully aware of what goes on here.

Where Akemon Tolan is concerned some items are required that drop very rarely.  The first is Jakon's head found in the Otitoh system (see guide).  The second is Myrkai's Data Chip found in Otomainen itself, but is a very rare drop.  The best I could do is this forum thread that suggests the chip drops at most twice a day - and then there is a lot of competition for it.

There is a bunch of guys perma camping the system and seemingly making a living of afk mining the spawns of rats in the complexes in Gila's as well as snagging the Data Chip and putting it up on contracts for hundreds of millions of ISK.  

These guys know the layout (there are a couple of tricks, you need to know where to go, when to go, be quick, kill rats and avoid webbing drones).  The numbers and knowledge made this a bit of a challenge.  I did however manage to snatch the Data Chip on one occasion.   

This bit of pvp interaction was almost the highlight of the whole episode - these guys aren't shy to show up with gangs inclusive of logi.  In addition they don't have qualms going suspect in order to steel "your" Data Chip.  Unfortunately downtime falls very late at night for me - 00:00 (with respawn of Chip around 01:30) - thus I ended up making a deal for another Data Chip with one of the Otomainen inhabitants.

A little bit about my methodology: 

I ran the COSMOS missions with the sole purpose of extracting ISK.  Due to standing requirements I focussed on Caldari/Amar Cosmos.

I used two characters that had no standings.  To quickly build standings it is important to get your social skills up - this saves you a lot of heartache later on.  

I would run a couple of the starter missions for each char until I could access the lvl 1 Caldari COSMOS agents.  Then I would only run enough lvl1 COSMOS missions to gain access to the lvl2 COSMOS agents.  Ditto for lvl3 and lvl4 agents.  You will notice that your derived standing for Amar faction will also rise during this process.

When the Caldari agents are done (or at least the ones that I could do in highsec) I swithced to the Amar lvl1 agents (if you got your social skills up you should be ok here), then lvl2 through lvl4.

After the lvl4 Amar COSMOS agents were completed I was OK where the Caldari standings for Zabon Michi was concerned.  I was however short on the Akemon Tolan standing requirement.  It is at this junction that I decided to complete the Amar Epic arc.  This greatly added to my PVE shooting rats pain (There are a lot of rooms with a lot of rats in some of those missions... and I had to do it twice!).

If you are still short, try some of the tag agents, circle missions, starter missions or good old lvl4 missions until you get over the line.

Some of the guides I used:

These are generally good in as far as it gives advance insight into the missions and explains where to find the mission items.

In conclusion, I did not enjoy the journey through the COSMOS that much, but if you are a PVE person at heart, or go about it in moderation there is no reason that you cannot farm a number or the required items and then repeat the missions with more characters.  If one can manage to solve the scarce item problem and stand the drudge then this might not be a bad path to some ISK.

Monday, 14 December 2015

All the kings' hubris

TheMitani, TheMitani sat on the wall,
TheMitani, TheMitani had a great fall;
and all TheMitani's ships and all TheMitani's yes men
couldn't put TheMitani's empire back together again.

Ah dear reader, this is not a post about the imminent demise of the Goons - that would be premature.

Nor is it indulgence in schadenfreude - for that would be unbecoming of a gentleman such as myself. In addition if the words of the demise are premature, so would be the freude not?

No, no - this is in fact a post about the hubris of men and mice Goons.

All of EVE's a stage and all of us merely players. We have our pods and our blogs and hubris is found in us all.  Of course all are not equally newsworthy blogworthy.  And like the force, the hubris is not equally strong in all of us.

Currently Goons however seem to exude both characteristics in spades.

Pay special attention dear reader for hubris of this magnitude is rarely seen outside of the laboratory.

As if the world was in need of yet another example, the Goons went and proved Joseph Goebbels correct (again!) in that “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”

As with all the dark arts though, there is always a toll to pay.

Whereas Goebbels for all his faults were a master of the craft, the Goons proved to be mere middle management.  In this instance they failed to read the caveat buried in the fine print: Care should be taken by the feeble of mind lest you yourself come to believe the Big Lie...

Not only this, they also missed the very important qualification to the Big Lie right there in the main text:
"The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie."
I.E. not in RL

And boy did that come back to byte them.

I find the rate of change of sentiment in favour the grrr Goons camp astounding.  The primary driver of this of course is the failed larger than life wtf were you thinking kickstarter.  

Somehow big fishes in the small pond of a niche MMO intergalactic spaceship game, thought that their influence and power transcended the ether and extended into the realms of real life.

The same real life where the subscriber base of EVE-online are cowboys and doctors and lawyers that actually practise law and such.  Subscribers with lives and dreams, mouths to feed and bills to pay.  Subscribers that might have funds for a kickstarter, but not a kickstarter like that.

Very telling was the reaction of the Goon (and TMC) leadership.  As resentment built, clumsy marketing attempts gave way to equally clumsy damage control tactics thinly disguised as "opinion pieces"

This culminated in TheMittani's final capitulation in which he superficially took personal responsibility but sought to lay blame on anyone and everyone except he himself. Actions that did nothing endear him to the community.

To add insult to injury prior insult, the inimitable Sion Kumitomo not having learned his lesson waded in with a narrative as to who is or who is not a community.  

As if the self same real life subscribers that rejected all his prior spin regarding the kickstarter of hubris would suddenly do an about turn and give a damn as to whether he thinks subscribers should be allowed to read eve reddit or not!?  

 This after he came out with gems like:

Yes I agree dear reader, truly bizarre.  In this instance I offer some advice courtesy of the Iron Lady (even though I doubt it would take...)
 "Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.'
~ Margaret Thatcher

One wonders if there can ever be any comeback from this. As befits reasonable people reaction was swift, and a host of blogs kindly pointed out the error of their ways.

Players are leaving Goonswarm, Corps are leaving Goonswarm, so are sky-marshals.  

I'm not advocating that this is the end of Goonswarm.  I do get the feeling that this is the beginning of a decline though.  Actual demise?  Not so sure.

Even here I am ambivalent.  They do provide fabulous entertainment to us all and "sermon" material for the rest of us hubristic bloggers...

It would befit us all though to realise that there is a divide between my Absence_gets_podded_every_day_and_comes_back_for_more EVE fantasy and my ugly middle aged 08:00 - 17:00 man must work to eat reality.

Sunday, 29 November 2015

BB69 - Nitpick about lore or delve into core philosophy?

Blog Banter 69 - Because of Space-Magic

Because of Space-Magic

CCP sometimes get stuck between a veldspar 'roid and a hard place when they try to blend realism with sensible game mechanics in our sci-fi simulator. Sometimes they create a scientific answer such as 4th dimensional drag to explain our 'submarines in space'. Other times, not so much. When a null-sec Citadel is destroyed players 'stuffz' is to be magicked to another station. Why should a citadel be different to a titan? Should CCP ensure that 'space magic' always has a plausible explanation or do we need just to say "Well, its only a game!" and engage the willing suspension of disbelief? How should it work when a citadel goes boom, how do we balance risk with reward, and how should any "space-magic" be explained?

TL;DR I'm not too concerned about the lore.  I am troubled by the philosophy and can only answer that it depends...

At its core I am not certain whether this months banter is about lore or about the risk reward philosophy in EVE (specifically citadels cited here).

The lore part I find fairly easy.  At its heart EVE is a fantasy space ship game and as such not realistic from a current scientific frame of mind.  I like the lore, and the lore makes the story, but once you accept that it is a video game with certain amount of fantasy you accept that you have to make some allowances towards mechanics that may seem fantastic.  I am ok with that.  

If one wanted to, there are a lot of holes to be poked into the lore - everything from the fluid mechanic model of our flight, the shooting (and warping) through structures.  The crew of our ship (btw are they all in pods too?).  

But ultimately this type of thing makes me think of the video below on how the Lord of the Rings should have ended:

No mess no fuss, logic and straight forward right?  

Right.  And no story either.  So it is with EVE - logic and straight forward as far as possible, but rigid logic would leave us only with things that are currently possible - like lets say Call of Duty, or some kind of flights sim, with the caveat that once you get shot, or crashed that is it.  You are dead, no more - because that is reality.

So I can let it go.  Yes lore is nice.  Lore is the story.  And please lets explain everything with lore as far as possible.  Citadels and your stuff is easy - some smuggling corp smuggled your stuff out for a 10% fee.  Many explanations will do.  Consistent if possible, but if not for the sake of the story I can let it go.

Where the philosophy is concerned I have to admit that I am stumped.  When a citadel goes pop do you or do you not keep your stuff.  Should you or should you not.  

Yes I'd like to keep my stuff.  Heck who wouldn't.  But I have had stuff trapped in stations that I did not have access to.  Annoying as heck.  I have taken part in fights where my coalition deadzoned some other poor guy's station.  Satisfying as heck.  Wormholers lose their stuff all the time (no rewards for guessing where these guys' votes go!).  

In some risky situations I had to pull stuff out.  Logistical nightmares.  Some situations I only took what I really needed. Fair?  Unfair?  Nice?  Not nice?  Or is that just EVE?

Does the possibility of losing your stuff make you fight harder?  Does the possibility of losing your stuff stop you from entering into a venture?

I don't know.  I like the idea of a safe haven where I can extract to, but at the same time I also like that everywhere is not safe.  Safe havens are essential (to me!) for when real life forces lengthy absences or prolonged periods of little possible activity.  

Unsafe space is essential to me because otherwise we might as well just have highsec.  

In the end I will go smack bang in the middle - a cop out if you will.  Should you lose your stuff when a citadel is destroyed?  

It depends on where it is.

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

BB68 - Show me yours and I'll show you mine

Eve Blog Banter 68 - This is My Rig.

This is my Rig, There are Many Like it...
What do you play Eve on? I'll show you mine if you show me yours! Are you pew-pewing on a laptop? Plotting universal domination on a 12 monitor set up? Mining away on a 50" TV? Is your set up located where your other half can speak to you or do you lock yourself away for hours in your Eve themed shed? How do you play your important internet spaceships?

TL; DR; The executive summary-pictures will save you a thousand words:

Obsolescence cycles of PC hardware dictates a functional but sane mid range type build summarized to the left.

Not much to add here - not shown is the Gigabyte Z97N Wifi Mini ITX motherboard and 2 x 1 terabyte spinning disks (non raid).

Went with Kubuntu 14.04 here for the LTS - my first Debian based installation at home - favoured Red Hat based up until now.

I still run Fedora 21 on the laptop, but will probably also reinstall this soon.

The graphics card is the only somewhat above average item in the build (or was at the time of purchase).

At that stage there was a possibility that we might have to explore GPU processing at work and I used that as an excuse to convince the wife.

GPU processing didn't pan out but the graphics card stays.

When I travel I "play" on a laptop.

An older 15.6 inch ASUS K53S machine set up for work, not gaming.

Intel i7-2670QM CPU @ 2.2 GHz running Fedora 21.

8GiB RAM, NVIDIA GeForce GT520MX (1GB) graphics completes the package.

The side-on view of  the techni-coloured mini ITX case with some of the paraphernalia exposed if you are into that sort of thing.

800 Watt PSU because at peak the GeForce GTX 780 draws 42 Amp and resulted in brownouts when I only had a 600 Watt PSU.

In normal EVE sessions I play on two 23 inch Samsung SyncMaster S23B300 monitors running 1920 x 1080 resolution @ 60Hz.

Cheap Logitech K120 keyboard and matching mouse.

It is just the wife and I in our household despite me being in my early forties and my wife in her middle-late thirties.

In our previous house my "office" was set up in a spare room but this meant that we were often separated when I was working late or playing EVE.

In our new abode, the computer workstations are set up in the open plan living space.  The laptop on the left and the Swiss ball are hers not mine.  When things get really serious and I need another screen/client I will squeeze my laptop into the space where the coffee mugs are in the picture.  

The boss is a sports scientist and does not play eve.  Calls us nerds.

She does understand a fair bit about the game though.  In addition, she can see and hear everything that goes on on my side.  Boy did I cop an earful when I went ganking the other day...