Category Archives: EVE Online

A Minor Venture Adventure

I had the desire to do something in New Eden.  Unfortunately, that desire hit as my main and my alt sat in laden ships in a citadel half way through a trip home from a deployment.  I could have jump cloned one or both of them out, but I wanted to make sure I was there and ready to go.

Time to get out another character.  But which one?

Theoretically I have a dozen characters in EVE Online spread over four accounts.  In reality, most of them do not add up to much.  Some of them were created to grab an amusing name, like Claude Ring or Escher Alias.   Others I had plans for, but never really went anywhere, the general issue being that you can only train skills on a single character on an account at a time.  So, for example, neither of the other two characters on the same account as my main ever get any training time because I have never been done training everything in Wilhelm’s queue.

Just never going to happen.

However, I have an account sitting around with a couple of Alpha clone characters.  I tried following in CCP Rise’s steps at one point, but with all of the Alpha skills trained on him I was free to roll up another Alpha on the account and start him training.  Having a Gallente Alpha, I went for Amarr.

I have kept him training sporadically.  With the one day long queue, I put a few skills in and then forget about him for a few days… or a week… or a month… then go back and start him up again.  Last time around he had just finished up some mining related skills.  Also, he had collected a Venture mining frigate as part of some give away from CCP… was that from Christmas?  Anyway, I logged in and saw him sitting there in the Venture and decided to go mining.

The Agency doesn’t support mining missions…

I had run my Amarrian friend through the new player experience and looted along the way, so he had a couple of extra civilian mining lasers sitting in his hangar.  So I fitted those, grabbed a couple of Warrior I drones for defense, and undocked to go try this ship out.

The Venture came into New Eden long after my career in mining was over.  Back when I was at the low end of mining your first goal ship was an Osprey and you mined asteroids that looked vaguely like potatoes.

Space was different back in 2007

And you had to train up to get into that Osprey.  The Venture though, a new player gets the skills to fly that on day one.  It is small and handy and has an ore bay, something that also wasn’t a thing back when I mined as a profession.  And, if you follow the industry career tutorial, you end up getting one for free.

So I took it out to a system near Amarr, headed to a belt, and mined some Veldspar for a while.

Soon to be a post at EVE Online Pictures…

I also had the Yoiul Festival Skin for the ship, so ran with that as well.

A handy enough little ship, though the civilian mining lasers were slow.  Once the ore bay was nearly full I took off back to Amarr to look for some upgraded mining lasers.  I sold my Veldspar straight to a buy order and found some better lasers.  I thought about a mining upgrade as well, but had already set off again, so put that on my list for later.

I picked up another load of Veldspar and headed back to Amarr to sell that.  There I decided to see if that was the best plan.  The buy orders for raw Veldspar seemed okay.

Veldspar in the raw

But the rule back in the day was to never to sell ore.  The guides always said you should refine your ore and sell the minerals.  That was the way to greater profit.

However, things have changed.  I refined the ore only to find that the remaining Tritanium were worth less than I would have gotten for the ore.

Lesson learned

And that does not count the 20K ISK it cost me to refine the ore.  Better to sell the raws as a newbie these days I guess.

I took that ISK and bought a Mining Laser Upgrade I module in order to speed things up.

The third time out I dropped into a belt and started mining only to see some hostile NPCs in the belt with me.  I launched my drones and sent them after the closest of the cruiser-sized rats only to find that they were not the usual specimen of belt rat.  My Venture exploded before I could warp off.

Autothysian Lancers are bad news

Well that was bad news… not to mention yet another something I never had to deal with back in the day.  Now my Venture was gone and I was sitting in my pod.

However, things were not hopeless.  First, getting a ship destroyed is one of those new player achievements that earn you some ISK.  The payout was 200,000 ISK for losing a ship worth 160,000 ISK.  And then there was the default insurance payout.

The payout

That was worth another 106,000 ISK, which made the destruction of my Venture a profitable turn of events.  Plus I had already made a couple of Ventures worth of ISK from the first two runs.  I was able to buy a new ship in Amarr and head back out again.

Shiny new replacement Venture

I wanted to get a closer look… and maybe a few screen shots… at the NPCs who blapped me, but they had moved along by the time I had returned.  My wreck, however, was waiting for me, with all the modules still there.

Back to the scene of the crime…

If I had not been in such a hurry to refit I could have saved myself a little bit of ISK.  The modules were very cheap relative to the ship and the ISK already earned.  So it was back to orbiting and mining.

Back to the clutter of the belt

There remains a zen-like peacefulness to mining.  It is something easy to do while you listen to a podcast or an audio book or chat with people on coms.  That is especially true early ones mining career, when it takes a while to burn down a rock.  Later on, when you’re running strip miners and tech II crystals and it just takes a cycle and a half to finish off an asteroid and you’re juggling a couple of rocks and watching the scanner to see how much each has left so you can cut the cycle early and move on without wasting time… well… life does become more hectic.

So it was nice to go through the peaceful bit, if only to remember what it was like.  And it was also nice to see that even mining the most common element in New Eden was still a decent way to build up some capital to buy ships, replace old ones, purchase new skills, and all of the other foundation work that sends you off in the various ways of the game.

Not that I am going to go back to mining.  But as an activity it was at the root of all I ended up doing in the game.

 

Two Days to Delve

We had been deployed long enough.  We got some good fights, annoyed the locals, and blew up a Fortizar, but things were starting to slow down.  Asher had been busy with Alliance Tournament practice, things were brewing on the home front, and there was the promise of a different adventure on the horizon.  It was time to pack up our belongings from our favorite fishy referencing system in Curse and get back to Delve.

Of course, packing up is easier said that done.  We came out with two fleet doctrines and added a third while we were there, and being remote means keeping an extra ship or two on hand for each doctrine along with extra ammo and charges for things like boosts or interdiction bubbles.

The latter was exacerbated by Asher’s fondness for a Boy Scout level of preparedness, meaning we carry mobile depots and modules so we can refit to match the occasion, leading to full cargo holds and an oft repeated meme.

If we could strap things to our ships, Asher would make us…

On the bright side, we also brought carriers and dreadnoughts over to Curse, so there was some space available to carry extra ships.

As the time to the move op home ticked down, I made arrangements.  Ships I was unlikely to ever use again were stripped, repackaged, and shipped to Jita.  I organized what was left, decided what would just stay in the NPC station to await our eventual return, and tried to figure out how to get the rest home.

The smaller ships were not so bad.  RatKnight1 took my Scimitar, two interdictors, and three Vigils in his carrier.  That left me two Typhoons, a Damnation, and a couple of covert ops scanning ships.  I decided to leave a Typhoon and the cov ops behind, along with jump clones, so I could go back to hunting Fraternity deployables at some future date.  They were leaving MTUs around for me to shoot for a while.

That meant flying home a Typhoon and a Damnation.  A lot of people chose to fly their Typhoons back, battleships being awkwardly large, though I did see smaller ships along as we moved.

My Damnation near one of the local Minmatar gates

Tuesday night the appointed hour came and we all logged on and got into the fleet, captials and subcaps sharing the same fleet and voice coms, something that always leads to a bit of confusion.  Actually, most of us had been logged in for hours before the fleet, leaving the system empty under the threat of a few dozen Imperium pilots hanging about with nothing to do.

Then came the call to undock.  Capitals undocked first and jumped off to wait for their first dose of jump fatigue to wind down and for the sub caps to catch up.  Then the subcaps undocked, heading for our first waypoint on the road home.

The rag tag fleet in motion

We made it to the appropriately named system 0SHT-A, where we met up with the capitals.  The system is on one side of a inter-regional jump gate that the capitals had to take in order to continue on the way home.  The distance covered by the gate is beyond the capital jump range, so they either take the gate or travel a much longer, and more dangerous, route home.

The capitals logged on and got undocked and ready to go as the subcaps went through the gate to U-QVWD in order to cover them.  They came through and jumped to the next cyno.  However, as that was in motion, the locals showed up with a Loki fleet.  The system is an obvious choke point, so them showing up wasn’t any act of amazing foresight.   Any Imperium fleet traveling through the area is likely to show up in that system.

We sat there on the gate with a bunch of hostiles in local as the carriers and dreadnoughts came through and made their jump.  The Loki fleet showed up on grid, though far off from us just as the last few capitals were coming through.  Asher had us point towards the Astrahus we have in the system and somebody put up their fleet boosts… likely Asher… just in case a fight started.  I took that cue and ran the boosts on my Damnation for a cycle as well.  And then the Lokis warped to us, just as the last dread was jumping away, and Asher warped us to the citadel where we tethered up in safety… except for Asher, who left his boosts running, something that sets an aggression timer and keeps you from tethering or jumping through a gate.  He had to warp off and back to get safe.

We were not totally outnumbered by the Loki fleet, but they were a coherent combat fleet while we were a mix of various doctrine ships traveling together for safety in numbers rather than looking for a fight.  We were not going to challenge them.

So we all docked up.  The capitals had docked up at their end.  All we could do is wait.  However the Loki fleet seemed to be patient, so Asher called the fleet for the night, got us our participation link, and said we could go but asked that we stay logged on if we could just to keep our friends in the Loki fleet hoping for kills they were not going to get.

So ended the first night of the move op.  We were scheduled to reconvene the next night to finish the run home.

Wednesday night had most of us sitting at the login page waiting for the word to get into the game and resume our journey, there being no desire to show up early and tip off the locals again that we were in town.

Waiting to log in

As people got themselves set and got onto voice coms, the subject of pizza came up because Thomas Lear was ordering Dominoes for dinner.  What started as a condemnation of the position of Dominoes in the hierarchy of pizza quickly devolved when the New Yorkers on coms adopted the standard line that there is no good pizza outside the five boroughs of New York.

Having worked with people from New York in the past… one of the oddities of Silicon Valley is that so many people here are from somewhere else, so you learn which parts of the country think their the only ones who can do a given thing… I opted to stay out of that discussion since you might as well argue with a brick wall as a New Yorker on that topic.

Then, however, the topic somehow slid into the relative merits of regions BBQ styles in the United States, at which point it seemed like the SIG might break up as passions flared and intemperate phrases were tossed around about coloration and the appropriateness of vinegar and other ingredients in something as sacred as BBQ sauce.  Quick thinking saw a straw poll put up on the topic asking us stand up for whichever variety we supported.

BBQ Poll in Fleet

I did not bring up Alabama white sauce lest I be accused of some form of heresy and be branded as beyond the pale of polite company.  I voted for Kansas City style, less out of any true passion than because it is the style I grew up with and what is used at my favorite local BBQ place, where I have been eating since I was a kid.

Tempers cooled as everybody was able to vote for their choice.  There seems to be a calming effect to being able to have your view counted.  The discussion then somehow moved to the prevalence of spam in Hawaii and eventually sputtered out as the call to log in came.  The caps logged in and made their jump and then the subcaps got into the game, undocked, and continued the journey back to Delve.

Nobody formed up to oppose us as we settled into the usual routine of jumping and aligning as we Asher warped us from gate to gate.  An Imperium Jackdaw fleet caught up with us and moved with our fleet for a while, reducing the likelihood of anybody showing up to challenge us.

Aligned out for another warp

Along the way we learned that not only does Thomas Lear have bad taste in pizza… the only aspect of the pizza discussion on which we could all agree… but that he had never been to a concert in his life.  So that was added to the list of his sins.

Eventually we wandered into Querious, then Delve, and found ourselves in jump of the Imperium staging Keepstar.  From there it was onto a titan and a bridge to the cyno which, by tradition was lit inside the model of the citadel, a position known as the “twerk zone” because of the way ships bounce around when they land.

Damnation in the Twerk zone

From there we could bounce around if we liked or dock up and be done for the evening.  Our deployment was over… except for the people who did not make the move op.  There is always somebody who can’t make it and needs to be extracted at a later date.

As with the fleet, I expect any comments on this post will focus on the critical issues of BBQ sauce, pizza, and what concerts Thomas Lear should attend in the wilds of Kansas.

Producing Mechanical Parts

I showed up late to the game with Planetary Interaction in EVE Online. Really late, as in early last year.  That is pretty late for a feature that came in back in 2010.

And even then it took me a while to figure out how to make things work.

I blame that on the classically bad EVE Online UI, which few tutorials spend much time explaining around.  The typical intro to the topic say to do something while failing to mention the dozen motions and clicks that it really takes to, say, actually route a material from an extractor to a processor.

Not an uncommon occurrence in documentation, as once you know how to do something people often blur over the minutia in the brain.  I run into it all the time in technical documentation, where any process of a given number of steps almost always leaves out as many unstated assumptions.

The fact that I was no longer interesting in manufacturing did not help.   I wasn’t particularly driven to figure it out.

It wasn’t until we moved into Delve after the Casino War that I actually found a tutorial that finally broke through the UI barrier and finally made PI work for me.  As with minerals and moon goo, there was a call to start producing PI items to support manufacturing in the region now that we were too far from Jita for cheap and easy shipping.  Buy orders were up in our trade hub, I just had to figure out what to produce.

I tinkered around with various planets and things to produce.  With PI, there are five layers of production.  There are raw materials and then four levels of refined products.  Raw materials are easy, as is the first level of refinement, as that is just turning the raw material into a product usable for further production.  After that production requires combining materials to produce the next level of product.

At that point you end up having to combine the output from various planet types in order to continue, which means pulling stuff off of one planet and hauling it to another… and you can only do production beyond a certain point on barren and temperate planets.  In other words, some work is involved.

One of the early things I discovered was that I could get as far as mechanical parts, a second level production, on just a barren planet.  Furthermore, as a commodity, mechanical parts seemed to be in demand, as they are used in the production of fuel blocks and T2 construction.

After playing around with other options for a bit, I eventually dumped all but my barren planets, then found a few more locally, and concentrated on mechanical parts production exclusively.

Barren Planet Production

All I have to is keep an eye on things ever couple of days, restart extractors after their cycle is over, move extractor heads occasionally, and just make sure things are moving along producing mechanical parts.

Then about every other week I roll out in the Epithal and fly off to each planet’s customs office to collect the output.

Epithal at the Customs Office

I go from planet to planet picking up the output, then head off the the market hub for Delve, which is just a gate and a jump bridge away from my last pickup.

Go Epithal, Go!

There I just sell to the highest buy order.  Occasionally somebody will have a more lucrative buy order in another system and I will travel there instead.  But most times it is to the keepstar that is the center of the Imperium’s economic structure.

The output from PI nets me between 35 million and 50 million ISK per week.  Not enough to make anybody rich or swear off super carrier ratting, but it is a nice little addition to the wallet.  It covers my jump clone and ammo costs.  And, of course, it helps feed the economic machine that is Delve.

New Eden and The Temp Agency

The Agency has come to New Eden!

Wait, what?

No, not that Agency, though probably about four people even recognize that graphic these days.  No, The Agency is the latest event in EVE Online.

Welcome to The Agency, not a spy MMO

Unlike the never realized SOE spy MMO, or past events in EVE Online, The Agency here lacks for any background lore that I can detect.  The announcement page about the event gets straight to what it is, but not why it came about in the game.  CCP Falcon must have been too busy watching Game of Thrones in his disturbingly symmetrical sitting room to get to that.

Lacking for official lore, I went and made up my own.

The Agency appears to be the capsuleer temp agency for New Eden, existing for those pod pilots who can’t be bothered to maintain a relationship with their local mission agent.

And it is a temp agency with an advertising budget!  You cannot get through logging in without seeing its logo on the launcher, the character selection screen, and of course in the UI once your in game both on the neocom and up what I will call the “info corner” of your screen where you see navigation and star system information.

If only the CSM election could get such penetration into the game, right?

Every day you get some tasks you can pick up and complete.

The Agency menu of tasks

Some of them are easy, while others are oddly specific… or exclusionary, if you choose to look at it from that direction.  I logged in with an Alpha account I have been training up… just in case I need such a thing… and saw The Agency trying to tempt me with running a combat site in a Tech III cruiser.

My Alpha in his best ship

Not only can’t he fly such a ship, an Alpha can’t even train the skills to fly one. (And such ships are called Strategic Cruisers elsewhere, so yet another terminology thing with the game.)

Of course, he could train for it if he was an Omega clone… which is to say a subscribers… and there just happens to be a sale on subscriptions currently.

Hey, here is what you need! Help offset the current decline!

Of course, even if he subscribed, he could train up in time to complete that task as the event only lasts through August 1st… making it a temp temp agency of sorts.  Maybe he should load up on PLEX and buy skill injectors.

Meanwhile, The Agency is like any temp agency in that they make it difficult to get paid.  You don’t get ISK for running their task but tokens that you can use to buy things in the company store.

You also get a 30 minute booster applied to your character when you log in… so if it is useful, you had better undock and take advantage of it quickly.  Of course, it isn’t likely to be all that useful.

A Speed Boost only Asher could love

At least the booster seems to affected by your skills, so I got about an hour of boost out of mine, even though I did not undock.

All of which makes me sound pretty cynical I suppose.  I’ve been told it is a genetic disposition in my family.  But my main characters… the ones who could, for example, fly a Tech III cruiser… are out on a deployment in null sec space where hostiles abound.  And I likely won’t be back before the event is over, so I won’t be able to participate directly. (Though I’ll be looking for some of those reward SKINs on the market later.)

Pulling out from my own issues, if this gets people undocking from stations and out and blowing things up, then it is likely a good thing for the game.  It just doesn’t feel quite like other events.  Who knew I needed the lore so badly?

Anyway, if any of this confuses you, CCP is holding a live developer demo of the event tomorrow, July 20th, at 19:00 UTC.

Captain’s Quarters Soon to be Gone

First off we have Incarna, an amazing technological and artistic achievement. A vision from years ago realized to a point that no one could have imaged but a few months ago. It rolls out without a hitch, is in some cases faster than what we had before, this is the pinnacle of professional achievement. For all the noise in the channel we should all stand proud, years from now this is what people will remember.

CCP CEO Hilmar Veigar Pétursson on the launch of Incara

CCP has announced that the Captain’s Quarters will be removed from EVE Online with the August release. (Also, we’ll be getting an August release this year.)  The Captain’s Quarters underwhelmed when launched with the Incarna expansion (my tour from back then) and has remained stagnant since then.

Captain’s Quarters

The letdown of the Captain’s Quarters was greatly aggravated by removal of the hangar view that was long the staple of being in a station.  Instead, if you didn’t want the resource hogging new quarters you got a static door.

The Immobile Hanger Door

Then Hilmar’s derisive comment about “ship spinning” poured gasoline on that fire.  Spinning had nothing to do with it, being able to see your active ship was the point.

CCP eventually relented and put the hangar view back with the Cruicible expansion, an update that saw the company begin to focus on long neglected features already in the game.  A lot of features in the game have improved greatly since then… though CCP still seems lost when it comes to creating a useful in-game map.

Usage of this minimalist pseudo-housing, the one place in the game where you could walk around with your avatar, was never huge once the hangar view returned.  And with the advent of citadels, which do not have that as an option (and docking in a citadel changes your default view to hangar), usage plummeted even further.  CCP even has a chart.

Game time spent in Captain’s Quarters

So the Captain’s Quarters has lingered for six years, the “amazing technology” stopped in time. (Well, we got “themed” quarters, but that was about it.)

However, the code is in the game and needs to be maintained and updated as things change.  Furthermore, the middleware developed to be used with that code is out of date and is standing in the way of getting a real 64-bit game client.  Per CCP:

One of the first things that we want to investigate is to release a 64-bit EVE client to better utilize your available system memory when playing. Compiling a 64-bit client has been held back by the outdated middleware that was needed by captain’s quarters.

And so it goes.

I won’t be sorry to see the departure of the Captain’s Quarters come August.  I have long maintained that avatar play and the idea of “walking in stations” was a distraction from the core of EVE Online.  With limited resources, if a feature doesn’t somehow involve spaceships, it should be avoided.

Of course, as I have also noted on past occasions, any given feature in an MMO, no matter how bad, awkward, or simply useless, is somebody’s absolute favorite aspect of the game.  The fans of the Captain’s Quarters will no doubt stand up to be counted.  But they will be hard pressed to argue that this lingering feature is more important than a 64-bit client.

In a reality where CCP is spending more time and effort on their VR projects, leaving fewer resources to work on EVE, simplifying by removing the superfluous makes sense.

Along with the Captain’s Quarters the integrated Twitch option is also slated to be removed come August due to low utilization.  There are other options for using Twitch with the game, and it seems like streamers are already using them.

Addendum: Reddit seems to be mostly on board with this change.

Others on the topic:

 

The July 2017 Update Brings Revamped Strategic Cruisers to EVE Online

The last big update before summer vacations sap the momentum from development at CCP.

Yes, I made this myself since CCP failed me…

At least CCP has stuck with the same naming scheme two months running.  I expect there will be no August update and by September they will change the naming pattern again.  But on to the update.

Strategic Cruisers

The big deal for this patch, judging on the number of times CCP has posted about it alone, is the Strategic Cruiser revamp.  Introduced with the Apocrypha expansion back in the first half of 2009, these were to be modular ships that could be refit with various subsystems to adapt them to different roles.  Relying on materials from wormhole space to be produced, they were quite rare for a while before expanding and becoming main line doctrines for many alliances over the years.

However, they did tend to be fit and left in one configuration much of the time.  Asher had us bring subsystem refits on a deployment at one point, but fitting and forgetting seemed to be the default.  I have a Tengu that has been essentially the same fit for years.

Strategic Cruisers… now with skins

CCP ran a focus group and took input and at the end of the day changed these key items:

  • Subsystems reduced from five to four, with the electronics subsystem abilities being folded into the others
  • A subsystem bay so you can haul subsystem refits without filling up your cargo bay
  • Ability to remove rigs without destroying them
  • Scan Probe Launcher CPU reduction bonus moved from subsystems to hulls
  • Overheating bonus
  • Changes to construction materials
  • Models updated to support SKINs

The details, or links to posts with the details, can be found in this dev blog.

If you have a strategic cruiser, when you log in today it should have been updated, have four subsystems installed, and a fifth one in the subsystem bay to make up for the one you lost.  There is a spreadsheet detailing what you should end up with based on what you started with.  There are only 1,024 possible fits per ship to sort through.

Additionally, you should get some skill points refunded for any you have used for the racial electronics subsystem skills.  Since I have that trained up to 4 or 5 for all of them, I should get a nice pile of skill points back, which I plan to apply to getting Command Ships 5 trained a bit more quickly.

I expect that this will lead to some interesting results once people start playing with the fittings on the main server.  They have been on the test server for a bit now.

Project Discovery

Previously Project Discovery helped the Human Protein Atlas project.

We’re talking exoplanets now

Project Discovery will now be used to help analyze data from the CoRoT telescope in order help search for exoplanets.  As before, by helping with this project you can earn credits for in-game items.  Details can be found in this dev blog.

Other Items

  • The Rupture, Munin, and Broadsword ship models have all been revamped.  They still all look like power tools.
  • Battle station structures have had a graphical revamped to bring them up to the current state of the game.  Expect to see high quality spikes on Sansha structures.
  • The drop rate for blueprint copies for Small Ancillary Armor Repairers has been temporarily increased.
  • The materials required to build pirate faction battleships has been increased.  This is the second phase of the plan to make these battleships less common.  In the last update the drop rate for blueprint copies was reduced.
  • Back end code for The Agency event starting on July 18th deployed.  Drops will include Strategic Cruiser SKINs.

And then there are the usual range of fixes and minor changes.  You will now, for example, get the transition animation if you change SKINs on your ship while in a station or citadel hangar.  Further details can be found in the Patch Notes and on the Updates Page.

As with the June update, no new music was included with this release.  I wonder if the music production time is going to support CCP’s VR games rather than EVE Online.  We did at least get a development update this week.

Anyway, the release has been deployed and is waiting for me to get home from work.

Quote of the Day – Cat Ears in Space

My ideal patch would be one where they fix vuln timers on citadels, heavily nerf or remove void bombs on citadels, make sov nodes a damage capped structure not entosis based, make refineries mirror 90% of PoS mechanics, and add cat ears and an option to replace my engine trails with a stream of hundred dollar bills.

CSM 12 member Jin’taan,  Reddit Post

In one blow Jin’taan has hit on quite a few issues I fully support.

The CXM 12 Member from Provi Bloc

And not all of them are strictly null sec focused.  In fact, only ditching entosis is applicable directly to null sec.  The rest are pretty universal.  And cat ears… that could be the back door to getting hats to be a thing in New Eden.  I am glad he was on our ballot.