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Tower Watch in Fountain and Delve August 18, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online.
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1 comment so far

It looked like it might be a good week for fights.  The word came down that the rest of the N3 coalition was going to deploy to Delve to join Northern Coalition and help boost their numbers.  NC and Black Legion had also gone out of their way to reinforce a number of CFC towers in both Delve and Fountain, which I took to be a good indicator.  As much as null sec veterans loathe the sovereignty mechanics, timers mean fights.  Both sides have a vested interest in showing up and being on grid when the tower comes out of reinforce.

However, it was not to be.  At least not for the times I was online.

During the week we rolled out to cover some tower swaps in Delve.  I was in Baltec fleet for that run.  We headed out to 1-SMEB to stand by as a small tower of ours was blown up so it could be replaced with a larger one.  Hostiles were reported forming up, but could not get the numbers to come fight us, so the only kill mail for Baltec fleet was our own tower.

On the way back from that we stopped at the BL staging system and hung out around the undock in hopes that somebody would come out.  CFC Sky marshal Blawrf McTaggart even flew around the station in a pod daring the enemy to emerge and pop him.

The Skymarshal's capsule

The Skymarshal’s capsule

But they didn’t have the numbers to come out.  Meanwhile, people started locking Blawrf up just for fun.  He was getting reps from several of the logis in the fleet.  Then Jay Amazingness put a target painter on him which lead one of the Fatal Ascension dudes to open fire… because FA.  So essentially we ended up popping him for BL.

Blawrf painted, getting reps, as the fatal beam lands...

Blawrf painted, getting reps, as the fatal beam lands…

It is all fun and games until somebody gets hurt.

After that it was back to base.

Saturday looked to be a prime day for a fight.  There were several towers in reinforce up in Fountain and Blawrf had been pinging us well in advance to get people out for the timer.

I was on early for the first call, as were a load of people.  We had well over 100 people in the Tengu fleet before the announcement that the fleet was up went out.  There was also a Baltec fleet and a Celestis fleet up as well along with the carriers that would be needed to rep the towers after they came out of reinforce.  Of course, we were gummed up for a while trying to get boosters for the fleet.  You need one for each wing and one for the fleet itself, each of which has to fly a very expensive ship and, in the case of the wing boosters, hang around in a safe spot during the battle giving boosts while hoping not to be scanned down.  I am still a long way from my training plan for that fleet role.  Maybe next war.

But eventually we got the support ships we needed and we off to Fountain.  We bridged through various systems and got to the first tower and hung out.  Intel came down saying that the hostiles could only get about 100 people into fleets because they were all watching the Alliance Tournament.

(Editorial: The Alliance Tournament is never going to be a popular esport because an outsider can’t tell what is going on by looking at the stream. You either see a single ship, which doesn’t give context, or you see the grid with some icons on it which is dull.  And even the announcers can’t keep up with what is going on with all the ships.)

So with 600 of us stomping about Fountain, there didn’t seem much point for them to come out to play.  But we still had to stick around and cover the capital fleet and their tower operations just in case.  That meant staying system, but we didn’t have to sit on the tower itself, so the FC took us through some anomalies just to shoot stuff.

Tengus blowing stuff up

Tengus blowing stuff up

That got us some ISK for bounties as we melted anything that showed up.  A lot of us were shooting, so those bounties at least exceeded the cost of the faction ammo we were shooting for most of us.

We also got to admire baltec1 and his amazing fast Megathron.  People were moaning about a battleship being in a Tengu fleet, assuming it would slow us down in fleet warps… which adjust to move at the speed of the slowest ship… not knowing how it was fit.  I had seen it previously flying with a Harpy fleet where, jumping alone in a race against the fleet, it landed ahead of the Harpies every time.

Fast Megathron is fast

Fast Megathron is fast

We stayed at that until the caps were done and then headed home.  We did get two participation links out of the deal.  Participation links, or PAP links, are the metric by which corps and alliances in the CFC see who is pulling their weight, to the point that we have all become a bit obsessive about getting our PAP links for each fleet.  Some alliances pay members for each PAP link.  In our alliance we just get yelled at for not clicking enough of them.  (I was the #3 clicker of PAP links for our corp last month, behind our CEO and a corp member who is also an alliance FC.  Not bad for a lazy, on-call pilot.)

Sunday morning saw a call up for a Harpy fleet to go shoot hostile capital ships.  That is the sort of fleet everybody loves, especially when the caps were reported to be just a few jumps from home.  The fleet was already under way when I got in, but they were running via gates so I was able to catch up by taking jump bridges to PR-8CA where the hostiles were reported to be.  It turned out to be a safe route as a CFC Tengu fleet was headed out that way, so I had plenty of cover and arrived in the target system at about the same time as the rest of the fleet, albeit through a different gate.

By the time we arrived any capital ships had vanished.

We did, however, run across an NC/BL Ishtar fleet and were able to bubble them up and pick off some of their logistics in hopes of setting up a dunk.  They slipped away a couple of times and eventually headed to a POS where a titan was waiting to bridge them out.  We had to sit and watch them jump away, though we did knock off about a dozen of them during the chase, including Futurama reference of the day, 25star-General Zapp Brannigan.

So that was my weekend in space.  A lot of running about and hanging around with a few moments of combat.

On the hopeful side for the future, there is a report up that a group of 14 alliances has formed a new coalition.  Called “Battlement Coalition” they are declaring that they are coming after the CFC to reclaim content.

Battlement Campaign Message

Battlement Campaign Message

I am a little confused by a quote attributed to leader, PantsuFan:

CFC has taken a lot of content away from the pilots in EVE and we are here to rectify that. CFC controls nearly one half of the game content in eve now.

As far as I can tell, we haven’t take any content, we ARE the content, at least in null sec.  And even then, our wars hardly matter to most EVE players, except that they sometimes drive up market prices and occasionally cause TiDi in the odd low or high sec system.

The new coalition includes a number of alliances we were shooting at anyway, such as Triumvirate and Mordu’s Angels.  How this will play out has yet to be seen, but I can only imaging that more fights will work for us, given how many pilots we had piling into the game for the timers this past weekend.  This might actually be a boon for the CFC, since I think the most likely reason it might crumble is lack of fights. (The Mittani responds to this development, complete with competing PowerPoint presentation.)

And that is about all the news I have from space for the past week.  Some fleets, a few kills, the promise of a new foe, and screen shots… always screen shots after the cut.

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A Busy Thursday in August for MMOs August 14, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in Blizzard, entertainment, EVE Online, Sony Online Entertainment, Star Wars: The Old Republic.
8 comments

Here it is Wednesday night and I am wondering what I am going to post about tomorrow.  I have several choices, as tomorrow appears to be a busy day in the MMO world.

Blizzard

At 9:30am Pacific Time (16:30 UTC) Blizzard is going to do their big announcement for the date for the Warlords of Draenor expansion.

Save the date! Which date?

Tell us the date

That is the date people have been waiting for… and predicting would come early or earlier… since the beginning of the year.  My own pick back in January was September 9th, a date judged as pessimistic by some.  Now I am going to guess November 18th, right near the 10 year anniversary but just before the holiday season begins in the US.

Blizzard will also be showing us the cinematic for the expansion, which will no doubt be much discussed, but won’t tell us much more than the story behind the whole thing.

CCP

Then just a couple hours after that, at 20:00 UTC (13:00 Pacific Time), CCP will be holding their own live stream on their Twitch channel to present the next expansion for EVE Online, Hyperion.

No Hyperion graphic yet...

No Hyperion graphic yet…

So far this has been billed as the big “fix wormhole space” expansion.  I didn’t even know W-space was broken, but players will work whatever system is in place.

Sony Online Entertainment

Then in the evening, at some point past 19:00 Pacific Time (2:00 UTC) SOE will be having their SOE Live Welcome Keynote address.

SOE Live 2014

SOE Live 2014

This will also be on their Twitch channel, though  SOE is trying to get people to put down $20 for their channel, so I am not sure what you get for free.

SOE on Twitch with Goodies

SOE on Twitch with Goodies

While we probably won’t get much in the way of details, this is the likely point during the event for any big announcements.  This will produce news, and I will be watching the EQ2 Wire blog for a summary. (And they have a list of streamed SOE Live events.)

BioWare

And at some point today BioWare will be launching the latest Star Wars: The Old Republic expansion, Galactic Strongholds.

Housing!

Housing!

This will be the housing expansion for SWTOR and I will be interested to hear what path they have chosen for this and how players react.

Addendum: Or maybe not.  I thought there was a live stream planned for today about housing, but I must have dreamed it.  Probably for the best.

Others?

Meanwhile, Gamescom is still running in Germany and I haven’t checked to see if any other developers have decided that the second Thursday in August is THE day to announce something, but I won’t be surprised if somebody else is on board.

Which announcements will you be paying attention to?

People Aren’t Wearing Enough Hats! August 12, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online.
Tags: , , , ,
6 comments

Last week Rixx Javix put up a post over at his blog about hats.

Specifically his post was about EVE Online avatars that he has adorned with hats over the years, including his own and others.

A selection of Rixx Javix hats

A selection of Rixx Javix hats

You should go look at that post.  He has done a lot of hats.  EVE Online avatars with hats on them appear to be quite a thing.  Even my own avatar on the blog is my EVE avatar with a horned helm applied to it. (I used that avatar at work as well.)

That lead me to joke that if CCP had given us hats instead of monocles with the Incarna expansion, things might have gone a bit differently.

I was, of course, being silly, and doubly so because monocles were never the main issue with Incarna.

But still, I felt in my gut that there was something to this.  Hats are fun.  Putting on a hat is almost the simplest form of costume.  Hats lend a sense of style, silliness, or personality when put on.  I love hats.

In fact, in-game if I cannot have a good hat I won’t wear any hat at all.  But I will go out of my way for a hat that fits my mood or forms the basis of a look.  One of the things I miss about Rift is that it had both a varied selection of hats available and a cosmetic system that allow players to easily wear what they liked.

Hillmar with his mean face on

I always liked that farmer’s hat on Hillmar

I realize that Blizzard wanted to use transmorg to get gold out of the economy, but the restrictions on what can be transmog’d into something else are too restrictive in my book.  I want to make my plate helm look like Whitemane’s chapeau or the Hydromancer’s Headwrap!  Is that too much to ask? (Also, the stuff you sell in the Blizz Store… the hats… they look awful.)

Fortune Telling Foursome

Fortune Telling Foursome

And in Lord of the Rings Online as well, I always had to find the right hat.

Manteca the Goon

Go ahead, say something about me hat!

Hats may be the only item I have eagerly spent money on in cash shops.

Who you calling, "fuzzy?"

Bunny hat I bought in EverQuest II

And there is Team Fortress 2 which apparently finances itself entirely through the sale of hats.  That seems to indicate that it isn’t just me with the whole hats thing.  Hats make the character.

Hats seem to be a thing worth monetizing.  Here is an opportunity for CCP to add something to their in-game cash shop that people might buy.

I hear somebody from the back of the hall saying, “But you can buy hats in EVE Online.  And they are bringing more in with the Hyperion expansion.”

And I would have to admit that those are true statements.  But the options currently available do not thrill me, and the options they are adding with Hyperion are even less palatable.

Hyperion Apparel Additions

Hyperion Apparel Additions

That was clearly the problem with the NEX Store, or whatever they are calling it these days; not enough color choices in the hosiery section.

Anyway, those headgear options barely qualify as hats and certainly do not represent anything I would want to display on my avatar.

What CCP needs to do here is get off the whole dark brooding dystopian future… after all, this is the future where anything should go, so if you can name yourself DoomBunny or HVAC Repairman (or even Dabigredboat) in-game and be taken seriously… and at least one of those people is… then fix things so you can find a decent hat in New Eden.  Dystopias tend to have pretty decent hat selections.  Look at Blade Runner or that snappy model Alan Arkin wore in Gattaca.  And lets not forget the Mad Max series.  Or the Soviet Union.  Police states and dictatorships practically rise and fall on their haberdashery selections.

So here is what I want.

I want to have a wide selection of hats, from subdued to zany, that I can buy from the in-game cash shop and apply directly to my in-game avatar so when anybody sees it come up in an info screen… or if they are one of those horrible people that leave icons on in chat… there is my damn hat in full view making exactly the statement I want… which is that I think hats are cool.  In a year I want Rixx Javix to look at the store in EVE Online and say something like, “I can’t keep up with that.”

But that is not all I want.

No, I want an entire hat subsystem in the game.  I want to be able to buy a hat from the store and apply it to my avatar right away, easy-peasy, no questions asked.  I want a hat inventory window where I can view and select from my ever growing collection of hats so I am always wearing the hat appropriate to my mood and the occasion.  I want the method by which I acquire in-game currency… Aurum, isn’t it?  I want that simplified.  I don’t want to have to buy a PLEX and then convert it to Aurum.  That commits me to a nearly $20 transaction.  Just sell me a stack of Aurum, small to large, starting at $5.

Which leads me to the last, and most essential bit.  Make the hats cheap.

We have a luxury item with a non-insignificant amount of overhead to create, but which has almost zero incremental cost per unit sold.  You make it once and sell it a zillion times and your costs don’t change all that much.

Because here is something that Jester got totally right on the similar topic of ship skins, which are too expensive (and too inconvenient) for most people to buy for ships they are going to lose.

Price the hats so that you will sell many.  I want them to be cheap enough that an FC can call for a specific hat style and get decent turn out on that front.  I want them to be cheap enough to feel okay calling anybody who refuses to “hat up” a cheap-ass scrub.  I want to see GSOL running around in yellow construction hats and Theta Squad in fezzes and Triumvirate in very serious fedoras and a halo for The Mittani and a selection of pirate hats and horned Viking helms for every low sec pirate corp to feel included.

What hat would you and your corp or alliance want?

I know, I know, technical details, 3D modeling, limited resources, everything is too hard.  Make the hats freakin’ stickies to apply to your avatar ala that horrible system in Google Hangouts.  You can add in fright wigs, red ball noses, and bow ties while you’re at it them.

All I know is that I want some decent, affordable hats dammit.

Which CSM member will take up this cause?  Who will lead the campaign for more hats in New Eden?

I would, but I’m trying to get this Soviet Naval officer’s cap on my avatar.  It just isn’t quite right.

Comrade Wilhelm

Comrade Wilhelm

A work in progress.

 

Weekend Fleet Ops in Delve August 11, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online.
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4 comments

The “Good Fites” war in Delve continues on, giving us something to do during our summer vacations, such that they are.  As usual, I tend to just sit and do other things until Jabber pops up and tells me it is time for a space fight.

Saturday morning seemed to be a rich time for ops.  I missed an earlier tower defense, but happened to just sit down at my computer when a call went out for Harpy fleet.  They had suffered some losses during a fight and were re-shipping in F2OY-X, so there was an opportunity to jump in.  I quickly got online and on coms and was off with the fleet to NOL-M9 where a Northern Coalition Tengu fleet was in the process of being pinned down.  NOL is about at the edge of what is the current radius of action around the NPC null sec stations in Delve.

The hot corner of Delve

The hot corner of Delve

We arrived just in time to find the NC Tengu fleet bubbled up and heavily committed.  We were able to warp to the fight and join in at extreme range for Harpies, using Spike ammo and range scripts.

Rolling in on the bubbled Tengus

Rolling in on the bubbled Tengus

Time dilation was running close to 10% at times with a lot of ships on grid, but we were able to close and get in on our share of kills before the remaining hostiles slipped the trap.  We then bounced around quite a bit trying to catch them on their way home, but there was no further action for the Harpies and we eventually headed home ourselves.

That fleet slaked my need for a fight, but when a call came up two hours later for a Baltec fleet to go and kill some super capitals, I was in as quick as I could be.

On coms the word was that there were supers tackled and so it was time to go go go!  Reagalan was FC and, as proof that we were in a hurry, he had us warp to zero when traveling to the titan waiting to bridge us, causing it to get a severe bumping. (Don’t bump the titan is the mantra of almost every bridging operation.)  We bridged immediately to another POS where another titan was waiting to bridge us soonest out to Rilera, where the supers were said to be waiting.

However, once we got there, the supers had slipped away.  We were left with a Black Legion carrier on the field though, which we proceeded to blow up as quickly as we could, and then we cleared out all the drones that the supers left behind.  Super pilots leave so much litter behind I swear I saw a crying space Indian… or native American… or whatever.

No splitting fire with just one target

No splitting fire with just one target

We then managed to corner a Black Legion Ishtar fleet and took a bite out of them before they got away.  There were a lot of people hanging around the system for a while, and then people faded and Reagalan had to figure out what to do with us.  We were in a low sec system, which was fine, but to get back to Querious and F2OY-X, we needed to travel through high sec.  Rilera is a pocket of low sec surrounded by high.

The route to low sec

The route to low sec

For me this was no big deal.  My security status is 4.98.  But there were a lot of people in fleet with negative security status, all the way down to -10 if coms are to be believed.  And I have yet to be in a CFC fleet that has to pass through high sec where anybody seemed to know definitively what will happen if low security status pilots go into high sec.  Will CONCORD shoot them, will faction police shoot them, will they get pointed or just webbed before being blown up, will they be able to get through in a battleship… always questions with half a dozen conflicting answers on coms.

Reagalan eventually just got us lined up on the jump gate to Col, gave everybody the destination, and told us to just fly as fast as possible through high sec.  There was nothing else for it, nobody was going to risk jumping a titan out to low sec just to rescue a few relatively cheap battleships.  So we went.

And, as far as I could tell, nobody got blown up.

From there it was just a matter of getting to null and the jump bridge network for The Initiative, which we can use, and hey presto we were home.  A lot of anxiety for naught.

That was it for me on Saturday, but Sunday held the promise of more fights.  One of our towers was reinforced in 1-SMEB and the timer was set to come out at around 19:00 EVE time.  Skymarshal Blawrf McTaggart was putting up pings on Jabber about this operation, counting down to the undock time and practically promising a fight.

STRATOP FORMING IN 30 MINS. We’ll be forming large – tengufleet as first fleet, baltec as second, fyf & harpies as third. BE IN F2O FOR A SUNDAY BRAWL

Since 1-SMEB is in the Delve hot pocket, I figured this would be a short commute for a fight, so got into the Tengu fleet.  I am starting to acquire a ship for every occasion in F2OY-X.

We formed up, caused a lot of TiDi undocking, bridged to 1-SMEB, got to the POS and watched the tower count down the minutes.

And nobody showed up.  Well, we showed up, but the other side did not.  We ran off to a blocking position in another system, lest this be some trickery of some sort.  But the hostiles were not going to fight us.  Eventually Blawrf was back on Jabber telling us the fight wasn’t going to happen.

After broadcasting for guarenteed fight all day, the lowsec pirates sit on a titan and ref a moon before docking again. Sorry that we didn’t get a fight.

We wandered back home and stood down.  Unfortunately, that was about all I had time for on Sunday.  I left Jabber up and it looked like there were fleets of opportunity throughout the day, but I was done.  Still, two fights out of three tries isn’t a bad record for null sec.

Some screen shots of the various ops after the cut.

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The PLEX Idea Continues to Catch On as Darkfall Introduces DUEL August 5, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online, Sony Online Entertainment, WildStar.
Tags: , , , , ,
4 comments

We have another entry in the PLEX-like game item arena, this time for DarkfallAventurine has been busy revamping Darkfall: Unholy Wars… or Darkfall 2.0 or just Darkfall, since the original isn’t around anymore… with class overhaul, a cash shop, a presence on Steam, and a rework of the UI.

DFLOGO B-450

And with the latest update, Aventurine has joined the ranks of studios offering an in-game item worth subscription time that players can buy and then trade for the in-game currency.  Called DUEL (Or as they style it, D.U.E.L, with three periods because… why?) it can be purchased with Selentine (is that the in-game currency or the cash shop currency?) and then used to wheel and deal with other players.

This scheme has been seen before with SOE’s Krono, Carbine’s CREDD, Funcom’s GRACE, and, of course, CCP’s PLEX, which was introduced into EVE Online back in 2009.

It will be interesting to hear how this works out.

As I have said often in the past, this sort of thing works in EVE Online because the in-game economy is not optional.  If you play EVE, you have to buy in sooner or later or just stop playing.  With the other games on the list… the economy is optional, which has always left me wondering if their economies could support such a scheme.

Unfortunately, I do not play any of the other games offering this sort of item, so I have to go by what other people are saying.  CREDD seems to have been a good investment in WildStar if you got in early.  Some Krono shows up on the market in EverQuest and EverQuest II, but seems to be more active on the Trade channel where it can be used for barter for specific things in addition to being traded for the in-game currency.  And GRACE hasn’t been in Anarchy Online long enough for it to have settled down.

So I am left wondering if Darkfall has the critical mass of players and an active enough economy to make something like DUEL viable.  I was interested to see that, despite its hardcore nature, Aventurine opted to make DUEL unlootable when you kill another player.  No headline comedy.  Of course, CCP started off with PLEX being stuck in stations, so maybe DUEL will change later.

And my final question is, what does DUEL stand for?  That isn’t listed in the FAQ or the forum patch notes.  They are clearly using it as a cute acronym.

PLEX stands for Pilot License EXtension

CREDD is the awkward Certificate of Research, Exploration, Destruction, and Development

GRACE is GRid Access Credit Extension

So what does DUEL stand for?  Darkfall Unholy wars Extended Living?

I think SOE might have been smart to just go with a name rather than an acronym.

And one question past my final question; who will jump on the PLEX-like bandwagon next?

Blow Up at F2OY-X August 4, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online.
Tags: , , , , ,
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I was a bit disappointed on Saturday.  There were a couple of strat ops planned, but they were both during time frames where I was not going to be able to come along.  I like strat ops because they tend to be based on timers or some other event that forces both sides to show up.  And they tend to be focused on a specific mission beyond shooting whoever we can find.

But as I was poking around early Saturday afternoon, an op came up in Jabber asking people to get in fleet fast for action in F2OY-X.

That sounded like my kind of deal.  A fight in our staging system meant no travel.  Of course, it was likely to be a chimera, the possibility of a fight that would never materialize.  But I was sitting around and I wasn’t going to be around for the later strat op, so I jump into the game.  I would get a participation link for showing up at least.

But on getting into the game, a fight looked more than likely.  There were over a thousand people in the system, TiDi was already starting to hit hard, and even as I got into Reagalan’s Baltec fleet he was telling us to undock and align.  It was time to go, so I got my Apocalypse pointed in the right direction and went.

There were warp disruption bubbles of one flavor or another all over space within sight of the station.  We actually had to warp to a mid point to get around some to drop in on the fight.  Along the way, we passed within sight, if not range, of a TEST pilot who wanted us to be sure of who to shoot.

Ship naming fun

Ship naming fun

We slowly made our way to the engagement, tidi dipping to 10% already and, on arriving, started shooting the targets called.  Initially we did not have much success.  A later count showed that the hostiles brought a lot of logistics with their Tengu fleet, so were catching sufficient reps when targeted to shrug off our fire.  Remote reps have come up as part of the larger “fix null sec” thread of posts that has been banging about the EVE Online world.  You only get kills if you can out-damage the remote repair abilities of your foes.  So the game becomes “bring more dudes” while your FC yells at you to get into a logistics ship.  More reps means life, so nerfing reps is now being discussed.

Logistics become a lynchpin in engagements.  You keep your logistics alive, which tend to be easier to kill than your ships of the line, by having your logistics anchor keep as far off on the other side of the fight from your foes as possible.  Out of range means being safe.

Fortunately for us, the reach of Baltec fleet is pretty far.  An Apoc with range scipts and the right crystals can reach out and hit things as far as 150km off if you have the right skills trained.  Not that we needed that.  Their logistics seemed to be close to hand, within the range of our short-to-medium range ammo.  So Reagalan had us swap to targeting their logistics.  That worked and we started getting kills, breaking Scimitar tanks one by one.

That was an investment into the future of the fight.  However, killing logistics now leaves all the hostile firepower still on hand to shoot at you.  We had enough logistics for the fleet, so long as you paid attention and clicked the “need armor” button as the hostiles were just starting to target you.  That is indicated by the yellow boxes around ships in your overview.  I was not paying close enough attention and only hit the button when I noticed those yellow boxes starting to turn red, which means that you are now being shot at.

Never a good sign...

Never a good sign…

Soon I was floating around in a pod.  But first I got to see my ship explode in slow motion.  The tidi was bad enough… it had clearly pushed beyond the level that was showing as the backend systems struggled to keep up with things running at one tenth speed… that my ship was gone as far as my controls were concerned a good 30 seconds before it actually exploded on screen.

I go boom... eventually

I go boom… eventually

Then I was sort of stuck.  There were layers and layers of warp disruption bubbles to fly through so I would be clear to warp back to the station and re-ship.  I took that time to go through the contracts, pick out, and purchase a new Apocalypse.  Reagalan was cajoling us to return in Celestises in order to sensor damp the hostiles, as not being able to target and shoot things apparently induces rage in our foes, but those had all been bought out.  So it was back to a big ship.

Pods move slowly, put-putting along at 187 meters a second, made all the more slow by tidi inflicting is penalty.  Eventually though I wandered out into open space and was able to warp back to the station.  Docking and reshipping went very quickly given the TiDi situation, and I even remembered to check the fitting to make sure the guns were online before I undocked.  They were not.  Ships on contract sometimes get fit by an alt that cannot use all the modules, so they are with the ship but offline.  It is embarrassing to be in a hurry only to get undocked and find you can’t actually shoot anything.

Then it was time to find my own way back to the fleet, which meant finding a wreck or something to warp to, since the direct route from the station was still blocked by bubbles.

I got back in time to see the end of the initial engagement.  The long range ammo was out now and we were taking shots beyond the 100km mark as the hostiles headed away from us.  The last kill we got there was Doombunny.  As the hostiles began to fall out of range, Reagalan warped us off to the staging POS to regroup.  There we were joined by one of the hostiles.

I am not sure how this happened, but one of the enemy Scimitars warped to the POS with us, getting stuck outside the shields.

Visiting Scimitar

Visiting Scimitar

Of course, we were all “Shoot her, shoot her!” but were, for the most part, stuck inside the POS shields and unable to target or shoot.  So we started to burn out of the POS towards her.  Those who had forgotten to enter the POS password (I do not remember entering it myself, but somehow I landed at the tower) and were bouncing off the shield got a quick kill before we could get there.

We then warped onto the enemy Tengus again and were able to bubble them up and start shooting.  By this point their logistics had been pared down so that we were able to alpha Tengus off the field fairly regularly.  It became a race to lock up hostiles before they disappeared and the targets called quickly stretched out into a long list.  And then they were off again.  We warped around a bit trying to catch them, ending up hanging around on the 1DH gate for a while.  But that was the end of things for us.

Return, getting a warp in, more shooting.  Warping about, catching some more. Warp back to POS, scimitar joins us.  Hanging on gate, no joy.  The action was over for us.

The fight itself seemed to develop as a slow boil on our side of things.  Black Legion, Northern Coalition, and their allies dropped in and established an early dominance with a mass of tengus, which cost use a lot of losses amongst those who came out to meet them at the start of the fight.  There was a point where they were “winning” for whatever definition you choose, and if they had been able to extract at that point, they could have made the case for victory.  At the end of the first round, Reagalan seemed pessimistic about how we were doing, hoping for a draw on the ISK war after we were mauled early on.

But rather than leaving the hostiles lit cynos and jumped people in as the CFC pot came to a boil.  As things moved on the pings for fleets built up on our side, filling out the Harpy fleet and then bringing out a wrecking ball of carriers deploying even as the rest of us were reshipping and returning to the fight.  We were fighting right there in our home system, so people logging on had no problem jumping on.  The end result of the battle shows things tilted very much in our favor.

Total kills were close, with 358 kills for our side against 315 for the hostiles.  But the ISK war fell heavily in our favor, as we lost 16.5 billion ISK in ships to their loss of 37 billion.

Always the ISK war

Always the ISK war

We lost a lot of inexpensive ships.  If you look at the ships engaged, there are a lot of dead interdictors and Celestises and tier 1 logistics listed for us, all pretty cheap as far as things go, while the hostiles lost mostly Scimitars, Tengus, and Huggins.  Those are pricey.

The fight ended up about two hours before the start op I was going to miss, but I had gotten my share of internet spaceship kills for the day, so was satisfied to leave that to others.  It was certainly better than the fleet op on Sunday where we flew out to Aridia through a mess of TiDi only to arrive at a fight that had just ended.  Pandemic Legion invited us out to help, but I wonder if they just wanted to inflict pain on us as we took 16 very slow gates out to Soliara and then 16 back home again.

There is a write up of the larger, strategic view of the fight at F2OY-X over at TMC. which answers the whole “so how did this happen?” aspect of things.

And naturally, I have some screen shots from the fight after the cut.

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July in Review July 31, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online, Month in Review, World of Warcraft.
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The Site

No major upsets on the site this month, just the usual measure of gripes about little things.

In a behind-the-scenes change, WordPress.com updated the editor so that it is no longer a window the a scroll bar within a page with a scroll bar.  I can appreciate trying to get away from the embedded scroll bars thing.  I think the SAP time reporting module at my last job could get five deep in nested scroll bars if you were not careful.

Unfortunately, while the tool bar stays nicely at the top of the infinitely long edit window, the “save” button on the sidebar scrolls off into the distance as your post gets longer… 500 words isn’t a big issue, but when I get 2,000 words into something, it is a long trip back up to the top to save, and a long life using computers has made “save early and often” a mantra.  So I now spend a lot more time scrolling with the new layout than I did with the old.

Then there is the MMO Bloggers RSS feed on the side bar.  It seems to be a bit more reliable of late, being up often enough for me to notice that some blogs it claims should be in the feed don’t show up.  Sugar Kyle, who posts daily at her Low Sec Lifestyle blog, never appears on the list.  Others show up every time.  And it does not appear to be order related.  Bio Break is at the end of the feed list, but every post from there appears.  And it doesn’t seem to follow any particular blogging platform, while the feed itself appears to have all the data.  So WordPress.com is not handling something correctly in its RSS feed widget.

I found that annoying enough that I seriously contemplated moving the whole thing over to Blogger, just so I could have the wonderful blogroll sidebar available to blogs there. (Which, on a side topic, seems to hate my blog currently, links to my feed seem to sit for days without updates in sidebars of late, even when I have new posts.)  There are some tools to modify the XML you can export from WordPress.com so you can import it into Blogger.  However, my site has grown large enough that I am no longer able to export it.  WordPress.com just times out and throws an error.  So I am stuck here, which is probably okay.  I didn’t really want to move.

Meanwhile, I have been messing around with blog themes again.  Go take the poll if the site is still some color other than white.

One Year Ago

I was looking for gold in the MMO blogging community, which became the topic of the moment.

It was summer, so there was a Steam Summer Sale.

Activision-Blizzard was moving away from Vivendi… and WoW dropped 600K subscribers.

There was a promise of some news about EverQuest Next, so I started speculating about what we might hear.  Sandbox gets mentioned a lot.

The battle at 6VDT-H ended any hope left for TEST and heralded the end of the war in Fountain.  I have since complied a full list of posts about the war in Fountain.  The war made up most of my posts for the month.

On the iPad, DragonVale and Candy Crush Saga were my current games of choice.

My summer vacation in Middle-earth got me to Moria.

The instance group got together just long enough to defeat the Storm Queen… and that was about it for us and Rift.

The Civilization V expansion Brave New World changed up the game again.

I starting musing about the inventory management aspect of games.

And we said goodbye to Google Reader.

Five Years Ago

I won a contest.  Granted, all I got was a T-shirt.  But that was probably more than you got.

Mythic announced a version of Warhammer Online for the Mac.  Not sure that helped anything at all.

I was, as usual, asking silly questions like why does Tetris gets faster.  Okay, it was an analogy, but it was still silly.

Oh, and then there was the horse.  Remember the $10 horse?  I did a poll about it and everything.  Boy, that seems like small potatoes these days.  I mean, that was a cash shop game selling a horse for $10.  Now WoW and EQ2 will sell you mounts that run much more.

Gary Gannon announced that GAX Online was going to close in August, bringing to an end that experiment in gamer community building.

I asked what people considered cheating in an MMO.  It included another poll.  I was doing polls that July.

I did a parody of Tipa’s Daily Blog Roll feature.  That is some pretty rich stuff in hindsight.

In EVE Online I got another step closer to mining perfection.  I was also fiddling around with a fit for a Dominix.

The instance group hit Violet Hold and Gundrak, but couldn’t get the team together for Halls of Stone, so went back and did some Burning Crusade heroics just for kicks.

Then the instance group took a run at Onyxia.  The old school Onyxia.  She’s since been remade into a level 80 raid.

And even as we were doing all that, we were starting to mull over what we should do once we were level 80 with no new expansion in sight.  It only took us a year to try another game.  At about that time, my hunter alt hit level 80.

I also dredged up the old Alamo Teechs U 2 Play Druid post from the WoW forums.  Philisophical question:  Would Alamo have posted that if RealID had forced him to use his real name?

And, finally, my daughter was trying to get me to help her make WoW videos to post on YouTube.

New Linking Sites

The following blogs have linked this site in their blogroll, for which they have my thanks.

Please take a moment to visit them in return.

Most Viewed Posts in July

  1. In Which We Feel Smug Relative to Raiders for Just a Moment…
  2. You Get to Decorate the House You Have, Not the House You Might Want
  3. The Mighty Insta-90 Question – Which Class to Boost?
  4. Running Civilization II on Windows 7 64-bit
  5. Level 85 in EverQuest… Now What?
  6. Blizzard Isn’t Giving You a Free Copy of Warlords of Draenor
  7. Brave Newbies Leave the Key to the Station Under the Mat
  8. Considering Star Wars Galaxies Emulation? Better Grab a Disk!
  9. If It Can Go Wrong, It Will Go Wrong… At SOE
  10. Civilization – Obama, Autocracy, and Expansion
  11. What Does It Mean to be a “Subscription MMO?”
  12. A New Player in Azeroth!

Search Terms of the Month

wow why i cant chosse monk class
[Because you haven't bought Mists of Pandaria]

ned for saped gem fare donlowd
[Alrighty then...]

are the galaxies emulators alive?
[Let's not get all SkyNet here...]

star wars player housing source code
[Making a trailer park simulator?]

eve online awful
[How am I on the first page for that, but the Massively comment section isn't?]

Civilization V

After a month’s hiatus, we finally returned to Civ V and our grudge match game that we started back in May.  Not quite the forever war, but we are still stringing this out for a stretch.  We have reached the 21st century, but nobody really has a definitive upper hand as yet.  And remember what happened last time when the nukes came out.

EVE Online

The war in Delve… which isn’t so much a war as a mass “looking for fights” venture… continues.  And fights have happened.  I have been able to get into fleets and, now and again, they actually undock, fly off, and shoot people.  We said hello and good-bye to the Gamma Fleet doctrine, which served mostly to drive up the price of Rupture cruiser hulls.  Meanwhile, the quest to “fix” null sec continues, with just about everybody sounding off except CCP.

World of Warcraft

Summer in Azeroth is still humming along.  The instance group has been on the expected hiatus, but I have been pursuing my Loremaster achievement goal.  My daughter set her own goal of getting a new character up to level 90 before school starts again.  However, she also spends a bunch of time with a role play group in-game, which hasn’t exactly sped her along.  She would much prefer to get in the Warlords of Draenor beta and get pre-made level 100.

Coming Up

It will be August, the driest news month of the year.

We will have Blaugust going for us, which will distract us for a bit, but which won’t bring Warlords of Draenor much closer.

Civilization V, World of Warcraft, and EVE Online will be there for me one way or another.  And I have an game obituary half written for tomorrow.  Two, actually.

But other than it being the one month when I start to wish we had air conditioning, what else will August bring?

Fight at the POS in A-ELE2 July 29, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online.
Tags: , , , , ,
3 comments

The battle had been raging for a while when I sat down at my computer and saw a list of pings from Blawrf McTaggart, CFC Skymarshall.  Most of them were old enough to discard, fleets long since off to the races, and trying to catch up by yourself is a mugs game.  But the last one was only six minutes old, a call to get into a reinforcement fleet and get on a titan for a bridge into the current fight.

Multiple doctrines were being called up; Harpies, Celestis, and Apocalypses were in demand.  I was in my high sec implant clone, still working away at my leadership training plan, but my timer had run down and I was clear to clone jump immediately.  So it was back to my clone in F2OY-X where I jumped into my Apoc, primarily because I had the power grid implant needed to fly the doctrine fit already installed in the clone, and if I was going to lose it I figured I might as well lose it in the ship I need it for.

I was on the bounce right away, into the fleet with the titan to get a bridge, undock, enter the POS password, warp to the titan at 10km so as not to bump it, into the bubble, and then a quick burst of speed with the microwarp drive to get in range because the bridge was already up and I didn’t want to have to wait around for the next group to form up and get bridged.

Passing into the POS

Passing into the POS

We landed in A-ELE2 and things slowed way, way down.  There were about 1,100 people in the system and TiDi had everything running at 10% of normal speed.

A-ELE2 is not that far away from our staging system in F2OY-X, but it is in the hot zone corner of Delve, the NPC null sec, where our foes are staged and where there are often camps and where a lot of the action happens.

Where things happen in Delve

Where things happen in Delve

I dropped the reinforcement fleet and changed com channels to find out what the Baltec fleet was doing.  Reagalan’s was the FC and he was calling targets already.  It was time to get out there, but servers were balking at doing anything.  It took half a dozen tries to get into fleet even though there was space available and then it was time for the long, slow warp to join the battle.

Landing on grid was agonizing.  My ship seemed to spend an eternity stopped at the battle but still in warp.  I could see the targets being broadcast, they were in my overview, but I could not lock them up because I was still flagged as being in warp.  Finally, the server relented and I was back in normal space and able to engage targets.  Despite TiDi, the enemy, a host of Black Legion Augoror Navy Issues were in a bubble and going down fast.  Locking a target took ages, and when you finally got somebody locked they would appear to be only lightly damaged before suddenly blinking out in the familiar destroyed sequence.  They cycle time of my lasers was the gating factor for kills.  I launched some drones and got those into action to give myself an additional way to deal damage… and to whore on kill mails.

Reagalan had the fleet orbiting the POS tower, which is at the very center of the defensive bubble/shield, at just enough range to be outside of the bubble and able to fire, but also able to duck back in and become immune should they get targeted.  After the action, Reagalan asked how many pilots managed to pull off this maneuver, and there was quite a show of hands.  That, and reports shared with us about Black Legion complaining about us constantly blowing up their anchor or target caller because we had a spy in their midst, seemed to be tiling things our way.

And then, as often is the case, Black Legion got free of the bubbles and warped off, leaving us alone in space orbiting the POS with no targets.  TiDi dropped from the heart crushing 10% to a bearable range as the server was no longer having to keep track of hundreds of ships moving and locking and firing and taking damage.

We sat there for a bit.  There was a report of a fight at the 1DH gate, but Reagalan warned us not to just jump in willy nilly thinking we would get a few more kills.  So we stayed in orbit of the POS for a bit until the time was ripe, then he warped us all off to the gate together where the Brave Newbies Moa fleet had been bubbled.  Then it was a race to lock up targets again before the exploded.  Reagalan was broadcasting targets, but they were popping so quickly I just took to sorting by range and locking up everything possible in hopes of getting in a shot or two.  That did not last long, the Moas melting like snow under a hot sun.

Then it was back to the POS and into orbit.  There was actually a very nice starburst pattern of ships as we landed in a ball on the tower and then turned on MWDs to get out of the shields and into orbit.  We waited there for a while to watch the POS for any further hostiles and cover the carriers that had been sitting in a happy, self-repping ball all this time.  My corp CEO was in the carrier ball, in one of two Chimeras in a sea of Archons.  He wanted me to get a good shot of him, which I figured I had better do because I haven’t done much with the corp in ages.  I go on strat ops and click on participation links.  I don’t play with our towers, mine, do planetary interaction, or even rat much these days.

After the carriers pulled out, we headed to the 1DH gate where there was a scramble to get through as the ISboxer bombers were out and about and waiting for us to land on the gate.  All those people piling on the gate caused a bunch of people to drop, so there was a long wait until people got back online, through the gate, and back with the fleet.  Then it was another gate back to F2OY-X and then to the station and done.

I never did get the story as to how this fight started, except that it was over the POS where the brawl took place.

According to the battle report, there were more than 1,200 players involved with over 1,500 ships on the field over the course of the fight, with losses of nearly 48 billion ISK for both sides combined.  The split in forces was 686 CFC to 528 hostiles on grid, so not excessively unbalanced.  Black Legion and their allies ended up with more kills, destroying 435 ships to the 251 we blew up.  On the ISK war, things tilted our way, with the hostiles losing some expensive ships.

CFC is Blue

CFC is Blue

That comes out to about 21 billion in losses for the CFC and a little over 26 billion for the hostiles.  And we ended up with the POS still intact.  So I guess we won.

One bit of intel that got passed along was about TEST, who apparently had 60+ Ishtars formed up at one point, but then did not join the battle.  That force might have changed the ISK war if not the overall result of the battle.

Addendum: There is now a write up about the battle over at TMC.

After a quiet week or so, where I mostly collected participation links for sitting on titans by never bridging into combat, or chasing around reluctant foes when we did, it was nice to get into a stand up fight that did not involve us getting blow up in Ruptures. (Rupture doctrine is now dead.)  It managed to push me over the 1,000 kill mail mark, though EVE Kill and Zkillboard cannot agree on exactly how many kill mails I have been on over the years. (And Battle Clinic says I have less than 700. No idea what the right number actually is.)

And, as usual, screen shots from the fight after the cut.

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Quote of the Day – In Space it is Still Location, Location, Location July 25, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online.
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To put it bluntly, if you want to catch instawarping interceptors, the most important part is living in London.

-Namamai, Understanding the EVE Online Server Tick

There is an interesting/informative article up over at TMC about how the processing loop of EVE Online dictates if you’ll be able to lock up and point that decloaking interceptor on a gate.

I actually had some experience with a similar scenario just recently.  In our expedition to Brave Newbies’ space our fleet, made up primarily of Harpies and interceptors and other small stuff, engaged quite a few bombers and destroyers and other easily destroyed ships.

Hanging on the station in V-3YG7

Hanging on the station in V-3YG7

It doesn’t take a ton of shots to kill a bomber, the glass cannon of New Eden, and destroyers are fragile compared to tech II frigates.  So when targets presented themselves it was a race to lock things up and get a shot off before they exploded.  Any number of times I would get something locked and have the guns going in the first firing cycle only to be informed that the target had already exploded.

I was not alone in experiencing this.  People were starting to get angry on coms at one point, raging against the interceptors in the fleet… because interceptors…  and wondering who amongst them were running extra sensor boosters to hog all the kills.

Of course, interceptor pilots were quick to point out that they too were getting aced out of kills in exactly the same way.  Somebody on coms started in trying to explain the whole tick thing, but it was neither the time nor the place for such a lesson.  We had a fleet op to fly and a jump bridge on which to get pipe bombed still.

So it was nice to have the article linked at the top show up to get back to the explanation of ticks and why you might be able to target someone and activate your guns and still get shut out of the kill mail.  As I said, interesting stuff, but the informative bit was the punchline, the fact that you can be the fastest guy in the fleet to hit the right button, but if your packets don’t arrive in London, where the main server cluster is housed, in time to be part of the current cycle, you’re not getting on that kill mail.

Latency is still a thing.

PLEX and its new Daughter, GRACE July 24, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online, EverQuest II, WildStar.
Tags: , , ,
5 comments

I do not pay much attention to Anarchy Online.  Well, I don’t pay it any mind at all, really aside from the occasional industry lore aspects around things like rocky starts (“nearly unplayable” -GameSpy) and longevity. (It turned 13 just about a month back.)

AnarchyOnlineLogo

But some people do still pay attention to it.  There was a post up over at Massively announcing that the game had announced a new aspect to their subscription plan.

Called GRACE, for Grid Access Credit Extension, it is an in-game item that can be traded or sold between players that, once redeemed, turns into 30 days of game subscription time.  There is a FAQ.

Basically, this the AO version of EVE Online PLEX.

This is PLEX

No longer this cheap in Jita

PLEX itself has been live in EVE Online for just about five years at this point, where it has been a success thanks in large part to the in-game economy which is all pervasive in New Eden.  There are a lot of aspects of the game you can avoid, but if you want to play you are going to be part of the economy.

The economy is such a big deal in EVE that I was curious if MMOs with much more optional or fragmented economies could really make something like PLEX work.  World of Warcraft, with its large player base and need for gold sinks, seemed like it might be able to, even with the economy sliced up into three markets on hundreds of different servers.  And Blizzard dipped their toe in the water… sort of… with the kitten economy idea.  But they haven’t done much since.

It was left to Sony Online Entertainment to give the PLEX idea a try in the fantasy realm, introducing Krono to EverQuest II about two years back and then expanding it to their other games.

All About Krono

All About Krono

I really have no idea how Krono has worked out.  They still have Krono as an option, even after the big consolidation of game subscriptions into the new All Access plan back in April, but I have never seen more than a couple on the market when I have bothered to check, and the prices seemed wildly different on different servers, so I cannot tell if they just don’t get used or if they are so popular that they sell out quickly to the platinum barons of Norrath.  And the fact that the game is free to play complicates things.

Moving on, earlier this year we had two new MMOs announcing that they were all-in on monthly subscriptions.  First, The Elder Scrolls Online made its position clear, and then WildStar joined the subscription only parade as well.  But their business model also included something called CREDD, which is how they spell PLEX on Nexus I gather.  Because it was that PLEX model again, an in-game item worth game time, which Carbine seemed to be using as a loophole to claim some sort of free to play status since, technically, after you bought the game, you could find a way to play for free if you earned enough in-game money to buy CREDD.

In Carbine’s world, you can play for free so long as they get paid.  But to their credit, I don’t think they have overplayed their definition of free to play… yet.

My first thought when they announced their business model, including the CREDD bit, was whether or not it had worked for SOE by that point.  That seemed like a reasonable question.  Yes, a shiny new game sporting a subscription-only model with a brand new, out of the box in-game economy might not be the best parallel, what else was I going to compare it too?

The question is still unanswered at this point as far as I am concerned.  The idea works in EVE, but I couldn’t tell you if it was worthwhile elsewhere.

And now Funcom is throwing its hat in the ring with Anarchy Online, which doesn’t help my understanding at all, because I am not even sure what their business model is.  I think it is mostly subscriptions, but they have had this short-term “Free Play” option that shows you ads in game since… what… 2004?  So does that make it free to play?  And how many people even play?  The late Game Data site tracked them as peaking at 60K subscriptions just after launch, dropping down to 10K by 2006, but nothing after that.

So who is out there playing Anarchy Online?  What do you think GRACE going to do for the game, if anything?

Or, for that matter, how about CREDD in WildStar or Krono in SOE games?