Category Archives: EVE Online

July in Review

The Site

The site got its 25,000th comment back in June, which I mentioned on Twitter at the 24,999 mark, and then totally forgot to follow up on.

So now, a month later than anticipated (if only by me), I can declare that the 25,000th comment was left by Silverangel of Kitty Kitty Boom Boom who left a tangential comment about the size qualities of .gif files on a post about 64-bit gaming!

But that is the way blogging frequently is.  You can write 2,000+ words on a topic, include one sentence about a some unrelated item, and THAT sentence will be what gets a comment.  I find this phenomena hilarious, though I must also admit I am frequently that person as well, making the essentially off-topic comments on a post because something catches my eye.

Anyway, there is no prize for this, just a hastily created achievement unlocked graphic.

Because achievements!

Because achievements!

Of course I saved in .gif format.

One Year Ago

There was a site put up by eBay about game return on investment.  Unsurprisingly, it indicated that used games are a deal in that regard, so you should go buy some on eBay.

There was the passing of yet another Steam Summer Sale.

SOE forgot to pay their domain name registration.  Meanwhile, Landmark was available for a deep discount after the Steam Summer Sale, leading to speculation about its future.

SuperData Research was listing out the Top Subscription MMOs while not defining what they really meant by the term.

Anarchy Online introduced a PLEX-like currency, GRACE.

The community manager for LOTRO was busy telling raiders and PvMP players that they weren’t getting any new content because they added up to less than 10% of the player population.

I finished up Pokemon Y on the 3DS.

In my attempt at the loremaster achievement in WoW I ran through Desolace, Feralas, and Thousand Needles one week, Felwood and Un’goro Crater the next.  Then it was Winterspring, Swamp of Sorrows, and the Blasted Lands, the Cape of Stranglethorn, and the final bit of the Eastern Kingdoms.  I was on a roll.

in EVE Online we were commuting to Delve, where maybe there was going to be a war, and chasing Brave Newbies around (then getting pipe bombed) when there wasn’t anything going on.  That was back when we owned Delve.  Fights went on sporadically for a while and many a Rupture was sacrificed simply try a fresh doctrine.  So many Ruptures.  Apocs did better.

Meanwhile the Crius expansion hit New Eden, making industry better… it did get better, right?

In EverQuest, on the Fippy Darkpaw Time Locked Progression server, the vote to unlock the Underfoot expansion failed, making it the second expansion ever to get voted down, the first being Gates of Discord nearly two years before.

With that I was wondering what other MMOs might go for the retro nostalgia server thing.  Not WoW, that is for sure.

I was also on about housing in MMOs, what has really worked for me and what has fallen flat and why.  This included some projection as to what garrisons might end up being in WoW.

Our epic game of Civilization V saw expansionism and direct conflict with the Aztec empire.

Five Years Ago

The late Paul the octopus created the largest page view day ever in the history of the blog, later to be surpassed by Cats playing Patty Cake and Alamo.

I was told I write like Cory Doctorow… or maybe Ian Flemming.

My daughter was Banned from Club Penguin.  Tears were shed, lessons were learned.

EverQuest II Extended, the free to play EverQuest II, was announced.  I wondered whether trying to play it without paying at all would be a challenge in and of itself.  Meanwhile, there was some evidence that EQII accounts had value.  That stunning news no doubt got them going on the authenticator they announced at Fan Faire this year.

I completed 100 levels in The Agency: Covert Ops.  I was unemployed, what can I say?

StarCraft II launched.  I still haven’t bought a copy.  I’ll wait for the battle chest in a couple of years.  It isn’t like I am going to be very good at it this time around.  I was barely adequate at the original.

Hulkageddon III ended, and it even had a video wrap-up.  And then PLEX was made transportable in space.  I wonder if they waited for Hulkageddon to be over for that?

In another Summer hiatus season, the instance group started another run at LOTRO.  This time it was Bung who was out, having the dual issues of moving and having a new baby to care for.  Those of us in Middle-earth hung out with old friends.  That put off deciding who my main character was, by letting me roll another one!

Blizzard gave up on some of their RealID plans thanks to much public kvetching.  Shortly there after, the ESRB came out against Real ID as being bad for consumer security while proving they too were bad for consumer security.

Blizzard revamped Parental Controls again.  As much as I have griped about them, they are better than any comparable controls I have seen, even in games that offer that as a feature.

World of Warcraft Magazine issue #2 showed up.  Issue #4 would arrive 9 months later.  No word on issue #5 as of now.

And, finally, somebody was trying to make yet another flying car that failed to live up to our expectations.  Have none of these scientists ever seen The Jetsons?

New Linking Sites

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

Please take a moment to visit them in return.

Most Viewed Posts in July

  1. The First EverQuest II Progression Server Polls and Some Details
  2. SOE Finally Gets a REAL Server Status Page
  3. A Call for Space Carebears
  4. Running Civilization II on Windows 7 64-bit
  5. Next WoW Expansion to be Announced August 6th, Just After Subscriber Numbers Get Released…
  6. Learning to do the Fozzie Sov Shuffle
  7. Quote of the Day – The Dreaded Rear Admiral
  8. Quote of the Day – Smart Money
  9. Ain’t No Cure for the Summertime MMO Ennui Blues
  10. EverQuest II Time Locked Expansion Servers Today
  11. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  12. Sheep Stole My Mining Cart

Search Terms of the Month

angles of attack audiobook torrent
[Don’t be that person]

when will flying drop in wod july 2015
[I’d say you answered your own question]

amateur money porno
[I think that is one of those “pick two” situations]

empires and allies zynga scew up
[Yes indeed!]

eve online horrible
[Well, yes, but it is shared adversity experience]

EVE Online

Fozzie sov came and New Eden began to burn… or sizzle… or whatever it is that happens when you turn on an Entosis Link module.  Pulsating within a little green circle?  Anyway, there are a lot of systems in play according to Timer Board. (400+ as of the moment I am writing this.)

Reavers have been out hitting distant regions to test the new system while Pure Blind has been an ongoing fight due to the fact that almost nobody in The Imperium lives there.  Still not sure if the sov changes are better or are simply going to make more alliances collapse in exhaustion.

EverQuest II

The Time Locked Expansion servers opened up, and I rolled up on the PvE flavor, Stormhold.  So far, so good.  It isn’t the old days, but it is different enough from the Live servers to be an experience unto itself.  There is a lesson in this.

Anyway, I have a level 11 SK in Freeport, am having a good time, and am looking for a guild, since there is no way I am going to create one myself.

Minecraft

Minecraft remains a thing I have been playing.  There is, as I mentioned, a certain peacefulness to the game.  My daughter stopped playing and now only watches me over my should now and again, until it becomes too frustrating to bear, then she has to walk away.  I don’t do things the right way.  That is what it is like being 13.

War Thunder

This sort of slipped off of my rotation.  I think Minecraft and EverQuest II ate up the bit of time that I had been devoting to the game.  Also, I was motivate by the daily prize thing for a bit, as at Day 25 there was a possibility of getting something useful.  Instead I got a gambling token thing that was pretty much no value.  My gut response was a bit negative.

World of Warcraft

I haven’t logged in since the week that the 6.2 patch went live, so I should probably take WoW off of my “Games I Play” list and move it to “Games I Watch.”  There hasn’t been any frustration or a wave of “I’m so sick of this game!” or anything, just zero motivation to log in.

Coming Up

Activision-Blizzard results for Q2 2015 will be announced on August 4th, followed by the next WoW expansion on August 6th.  The subscription numbers they report will likely determine whether or not Blizzard felt they needed some immediate good news and/or a distraction in August rather than waiting for BlizzCon.

And it is a good thing that is coming, because next month is also Blagaust and we’ll need stuff to post about, and those two dates will be grist for the blogging mill!  We can’t count on Derek Smart to keep us entertained all the time!

Meanwhile, a friend at work has been talking about Diablo III, so I started poking my nose into that a bit.  We’ll see if it goes anywhere in August.

And then I have some new projects coming up at work, my daughter goes back to school in the middle of the month, and I have been summoned for Jury duty as well, so it might end up being a tough month for posts.

Never Enough Jump Clones

This past weekend I finished up Advanced Infomorph Psychology, a good 20 day skill that got me my 10th jump clone in EVE Online.

I love me some jump clones, that is for sure.

That means I can be flying around in space in one clone and then, upon docking up, “jump” to and occupy any of those 10 clones I have sitting around in other stations.  It is a handy way to get around New Eden.

Yes, there is that 19 hour wait between jumps. (Of course I trained up that skill as well!  A 24 hour wait was too much, but 19, or even 20 hours, is just about right.)  But that means I can jump at the end of the evening and have the timer set for another jump by the start of the next.

And what do I do with all of those jump clones?

Well, I keep one at the coalition staging system so I can jump there to join fleets.

I keep another one at our alliance staging system in case I want to join a TNT fleet operation.  That would require me to log into TNT Jabber, something I have been very lax about lately, but I could if I wanted.  I just tend to be deployed out with Reavers, so what goes on at the alliance level is generally pretty far away.

I have a clone in the system I now rat in down in Tribute, about a dozen jumps from the alliance staging system.

There is one in Jita, so I can jump there, buy things, and have them shipped out to null sec, or partake in the many great opportunities being tastefully advertised in local.

I have another one tucked up in Amarr space in one of the university stations that sells skills, in case I need to buy yet another skill. (Current count: 307)  That clone also has a set of +4 attribute implants, since attributes are still a thing for the moment.  So even if I don’t need a new skill, I often just jump to that clone if I won’t be on for a couple days to boost skill training speed.

I have another one in the Amarr Navy Logistics station one jump from Amarr, which happens to be a station where I can install jump clones, having worked my way up to an 8+ standing with both the Amarr and Caldari Navies back in the day.

Then there is one down in Delve, with a ship, that was pre-positioned back during a Reaver deployment in case we got called upon to go assist Pizza with something.  Not sure I need that one any more.  Pizza still holds NOL-M9 down there, where the clone is, but not a lot else.

I have a clone in Fountain, in 4-EP12, along with a Caracal and a pile of ammunition.  I’d fly the Caracal out on a whim, but there is too much stuff in the station for it to carry.  So I keep the clone there to keep the ammo listed on the market.  Anybody need 200K rounds of Antimatter Charge L (from the Baltec fleet era) or 184K rounds of Scourge torpedoes (same era, but siege bomber fleet doctrine)?

And, finally, I have a jump clone in B-R5RB that has been sitting in that station, along with Dominix I was flying, since the great battle down there about a year and a half back.

N3 titans scattered about

I was one of those little dots chasing that Avatar titan

I keep that one for sentimental reasons.  I nearly collected the ship back when The Initiative held the system and we deployed down there to help them back in January, but never quite got around to it.  Now the system is in hostile hands and it seems unlikely that we’ll ever own that station again.  But stranger things have happened.

So those were my nine clones, sitting around in stations all over New Eden, plus the clone I am currently using.

Now I have one more clone I can place.  Of course, I don’t HAVE to go put it anywhere, I could hold it aside for a rainy day or some sudden need.  But there happens to be a window of opportunity with the alignment of a couple of events.

The first is that the Reavers happen to be down in Curse to play Entosis Link games with the locals just to see what we can get away with.  The other is an “accidental” change to how jump clones work, announced by CCP yesterday.

Apparently they broke the standings requirement for jump clones.  Previously, in order to install a jump clone in an NPC controlled station, you had to have a standing of 8.0 or greater with that corporation.  As I mentioned above, I worked for quite a while on Amarr and Caldari Navy missions way back in the day in order to be able to install jump clones at need in high sec.

Now though, according to CCP:

Before the release, minimum standings of +8.0 were required with an NPC corporation in order for a pilot to be able to install a jump clone in their stations. This is no longer the case, and capsuleers can freely create jump clones in whichever NPC station they choose to do so.

So jump clones installation for everybody.  Go use it quick before CCP makes up its collective mind about whether or not to “fix” this.  They seem to content to let it stand, but it is also summer and the vacation mindset might be influencing their view.  They might sober up or the cold might set in again and put them in a more stern state of mind.

I might have been angry about having ground all those missions if I had just finished them last week, but I did that seven years ago and can barely remember how long it took.  It does seem to put paid to organizations that were allowing people to make jump clones, and there is the remaining question about what use are standings now.

Anyway, that means I ought to be able to install that tenth clone down in Curse in one of the NPC stations with cloning services.  And then, at some future date, late on a week night, I can fly out, one by one, the ships I left behind from that deployment to Curse we had nearly two years ago.  Not that there is anything of great value there.  Just a couple of Harpies, a Burst, and a Ferox along with some ammo and fittings.

I think I will do the same with that jump clone down in Delve.  I’ve always been the good soldier and pre-deployed ships and clones where told.  The problem is that I appear to be in the minority on that front, and so every operation needs to start out of the coalition staging system in Deklein.  And since the destination is always a secret when we set out, we end up flying for an hour and wind up five jumps from my jump clone and doctrine ship, which continue to gather dust.

Mordus Angels Sovereignty in Pure Blind

Last night we were out and about in the south attacking a few constellations and getting a few kills against TEST and friends in the process.

Maybe Senpai will notice me

I hope Senpai will notice me

The nice thing about flying in a smaller fleet is that you get the kill mail a lot more frequently than you do when you are out with 250 of your close friends.

Anyway, while we were out it was announced on coms that Mordus Angels had finally wrested some sovereignty from The Imperium after diligently attacking various points in Pure Blind since the day Fozzie sov went live.  They took ION-FG from FCON.

The loss...

The loss…

This was FCON’s, or Fidelas Constans’ (Latin for “Reliably Bad”), only holding in Pure Blind, a lone system without a station, some distance from their main territory up in the Branch region, but just eight jumps from the Mordus Angels staging system 5ZXX-K.

Still, a victory for Mordus Angels.  They are now, if not actually on the sov map, at least listed on the changes with the other big alliances.

Top of the list no less!

Top of the list no less!

Now of course the question is, what happens next?  Mordus Angels has a grip on a system without a station in a region where The Imperium has been hunting them for the last two weeks.  Their own hold on the system was attacked once somebody woke up and saw that the system had fallen.  And it is a pretty safe bet that a large Imperium fleet will drop on that constellation when the timer runs down and the system becomes vulnerable.  The count down is already up on Timer Board.

So, Fozzie sov working as designed or not?

A smaller alliance (~1200 pilots) was able to take sovereignty from a larger alliance (~4x their size) and a giant coalition (~40K pilots).  They system is working!  We ran out and did the same thing to Darkness a little while back, way down in Querious, and we’re doing the same thing in another region down south as well.

On the flip side, there is no chance they will be able to hold that system.  Sneaking in and taking a system is very different than holding it.  Holding a system requires you to stand up to the attacker.  We lost our gain down in Querious and I don’t suspect we will hold anything else down south.  We just don’t live there.  But we can make the people who do live there run around chasing us.

Sovereignty that is easier take… remains easier to take, and has the potential to turn into a new sort of sov grind where, instead of ongoing fights over the old structures with huge fleets until one side is exhausted, it will be ongoing defense fleets to drive off interlopers until one side is exhausted.  It is just easier for a smaller force to tire out a larger one now.  But the smaller one still can’t hold a system until the other side gives up.

I suspected that when Fozzie sov hit, we would be a while hitting the new equilibrium in null sec, the inevitable stable state that is generally reached some point after a change to the game.  The changes are only two weeks old at this point, so nearly 280 systems in play is probably to be expected.  But what will it look like in a month or two when exhaustion does set in?

Addendum:  And the story ended about as expected.

MOAloses

Not for Attribution

Posted as part of Blog Banter #65.

Attributes.  They are an ingrained feature of our role playing games.  I am sure they were around long before Dungeons & Dragons, but that was the starting point for many of us when it came to the concept.

It was an attempt to quantify the essentially unquantifiable.  Sure, Strength seems easy enough to translate to numbers I suppose… in Tunnels & Trolls you could carry ten pounds of whatever for every point of strength you had… and maybe Intelligence as a general measure, if you believe in IQ tests I suppose.  But Constitution or Dexterity, that gets a little trickier.  Charisma?  I think that delves into the human psyche too deeply to be represented by the result of a 3d6 roll, and what constitutes Wisdom in any case?

Still, we rolled with it… ha ha… because it was what we had and at least numbers were solid, which gave some of us the thin edge of the wedge from which to launch an ongoing career in rules lawyering.

And while the whole idea did not begin with Dungeons & Dragons, it seemed to multiply from there and soon some set of attributes that guided ability and access to classes or roles or whatever seemed to be in about in force.  There were variations, and sometimes even multi-tiered systems where basic attributes allowed one to derive secondary abilities or stats.

So it went, and when role playing games came to computers, attributes were not far behind.  After all, numbers are what computers do best.  So the tradition of “rolling up” a character carried on in electronic form.

The actual importance of stats in various games varied.  I remember writing up a character rolling script and letting it run for hours in TorilMUD, so important were your starting stats in the game.  And, just to make things a bit more tricky, the stats were obscured.  You couldn’t see the actual numbers, just a description that indicated the range they might fall into.

Do I take Heroic strength?

Do I take Heroic strength?

Heroic strength sounds great for a warrior, but the hierarchy of importance for all characters in the game put constitution first, as that influenced hit point gain as you leveled.  At level 20 the game relented and actually showed you the stats.

A Barbarian warrior of mine... 484 years old!

A Barbarian warrior of mine… 484 years old!

You’ll see by the table above that I was content with merely “good” strength, because +str gear was very common, but insisted on”mighty” dexterity (affected hitroll) and agility (gave an armor class bonus), while holding out for “heroic” constitution.  Plus there was a hold dynamic of how racial stats, where 90 str for a barbarian was equal to 100 str for a human and so forth.

The attributes were important, but there was a shadow of the future in that.  I let strength slide a bit because I knew warrior gear would eventually include some +str bonuses as I got into higher levels, so that attribute would be rounded up eventually.

As late as the launch of EverQuest we were at least pretending that base stats mattered.  I remember going in and tinkering with the points allocated to attributes with my first few characters because gear with attribute bonuses were not all that common.

But somehow in the five and a half years between the launch of EverQuest and the launches of World of Warcraft and EverQuest II, gear changed.  Rare now is the piece of gear that drops that does not have some attribute bonus to it.  Within two score of levels, your base attributes start to seem insignificant compared to your gear bonuses, and at the highest levels… in WoW, at least before the great stat squish… individual pieces of gear start being worth more than your initial attributes.

Back when EverQuest II removed weight as a concept in the game… you would no longer be weighed down by carrying too much coin or too many banker’s boxes… I pegged the change as being related to the inflation of basic attributes through gear.  Your average character’s strength grew so much through gear progression that weight essentially lost its meaning anyway, so the whole concept only had impact on low level alts and new players that hadn’t progressed far enough.  Why punish new players with something most of your player base doesn’t even think about, having essentially geared their way past it?

All of which, some 700+ words later, brings us to EVE Online.

EVE Online, now past its 11th anniversary, was created during the age of attributes, when we still seemed believed such things were essential, almost literally a requirement, for a role playing game.  And so, EVE Online characters have attributes.  You can see them in my character sheet, which I have grabbed from the Neocom iOS app:

Wilhelm Arcturus

Wilhelm Arcturus

There are all my current essentials.  Down to almost 2 billion ISK, my training queue is over two years long, being largely made up of level V skills at this point, I’m down in the Curse region in a Tengu, and at the very bottom are my character attributes.

My attributes are flat.  I leveled them out over a year ago because I was going to train up a series of skill that would be all over the map and so favoring one attribute over another would potentially help me on one skill only to hurt me on another.  So I figured making them all about the same would even out the hills and valleys.

Because here is the strange thing about EVE Online attributes; unlike World of Warcraft or EverQuest or TorilMUD or Tunnels & Trolls or Dungeons & Dragons, those attributes at the bottom of that screen capture have absolutely no direct impact on how my character performs in the game.

Having greater perception won’t make my guns track any faster, having more willpower won’t make my missiles fly any faster, having immense intelligence won’t make my shields hold out a moment longer, and having all the charisma in the world won’t let me talk my way past CONCORD once I shoot at somebody in high sec space.  None of those matter once I undock from a station.

Yes, sure, they matter indirectly before I undock.  Those attributes affect how fast a given skill trains on a character.  That impacts what ship I undock with and what modules I may have mounted on it, but when I actually undock that is all history and does not affect the here and now.  You undock with the ship you can fit now, not the ship you may wish to fit at some later date.

So this month’s Blog Banter, number 65 in an ongoing series, asks the question:

Does Eve need attributes? It’s been discussed a lot recently. Unlike other MMO’s your characters attributes don’t make a difference in day-to-day gameplay. They simply set how fast you train a skill. Is it time to remove attributes from the game or totally revamp their purpose? Do they add a level of complexity to the game that is not needed? If you really need to use a 3rd party application to get the most from it should it be in the game? Should they be repurposed with each attribute adding a modifier to your ship? Are attributes a relic from the past or are they an important part of Eve – You make your decision and deal with the consequences?

My gut response is “No.”  They should go the way of learning skills, now five years gone from the game.  They are an excess complication that does not add anything to game play.

But I am not so sure when I think about it further.

Yes, I have spent a bunch of time fussing about attributes.  You only get a neural remap once per year, which lets you adjust your attributes, so I have set out training plans in EVE Mon and tried for an optimized configuration.  But the next training plan that I don’t interrupt almost immediately with some new skill I suddenly feel I need will be the first.  I often can’t go a month without changing it up, so asking me to commit to a year is impossible.

And then there are implants.

CCP maps out the anger and resentment nodes in the capsuleer brain

CCP mapped out the anger and resentment nodes in the capsuleer brain

You can boost your attributes… and thus speed up your skill training… by inserting implants.  I have a clone with a set of +4 implants in high sec and when I know I am going to be off for a few days I will jump to that clone to boost my training.  But implants cost ISK, and good ones cost a lot of ISK, and when your ship gets blown up and you get podded, those implants go with it.  A set of implants can be worth more than the ship you lost… a lot more… if you get podded.

So balancing against my gut feeling is a sense that there is a certain amount of strategic planning and depth that goes with attributes.  You can optimize them, if you’re willing to commit for a year, to get ahead faster in an area of training you wish to focus on.  Or you can flatten them out if you want to play a more conservative game.

Likewise you can speed up your training as long as you don’t mind flying around with millions of ISK plugged into your pod.  Losing your pod without implants is essentially free, but you start plugging some in and, as noted, you’re head can quickly become more valuable than your ship.

So while attributes cease to have any direct impact once we undock… our choices are made when we hit that button, and the skills we have are what we have… I am going to fall on the side of attributes being, if not strictly necessary, at least very much a part of the makeup of the game.  The planning and commitment aspect of the training queue along with the risk versus reward part of the implants are, for lack of a better term, very EVE Online.

Of course, that also sounds a lot like “but we’ve always done it this way!” something I wouldn’t condone.  They cause us to make choices… are they interesting choices or not is more the question I suppose.

So I will say that I would rather keep attributes than just eliminate them wholesale.  But if somebody can come up with a plan for an alternate use for attributes or how to make them more relevant to the every day capsuleer experience, or the choices surrounding them more interesting (for whatever definition of “interesting” you prefer), I am all ears.

Meanwhile, others have added their opinions to the mix.  You can find the Blog Banter #65 launch post over at Sand, Cider, and Spaceships, the new host for Blog Banter, along with these other posts on the topic:

A Call for Space Carebears

At one time in the distant past, the CFC eschewed the idea of renting and those who set themselves up as landlords were derided.

And then, as null sec politics evolved and we ended up with essentially three power blocs, two of which were heavily financed by rental space, the tune of the CFC changed.  The Greater Western Co-Prosperity Sphere was born about two years ago.  The CFC became landlords, pragmatism winning out over exclusion and any spurious  feelings of ideological purity.

That this venture remained a distant third behind the other two main rental empires was no surprise.  The surprise, to my mind, was that it got any renters all.  After years of rental and recruitment scams, who would actually rent from Goons?

As it turned out, quite a few people would, and that rental ISK helped filled the coalition coffers.

And then came the looming threat of what became known as Fozzie Sov.  With the Phoebe expansion, the ability to range across New Eden was throttled and the CFC let go of some of its southern holdings.  As the details of the Summer of Sovereignty changes came out, plans for further consolidation were drawn up.  Fountain and most of Cloud Ring would have to go as well and the coalition, now renamed The Imperium, who fortify itself in the north. (SMA holds that bit in Cloud Ring, J4LP having been reset some time back.)

Regions of The Imperium - June 2015

Regions of The Imperium – June 2015

Now the changes has hit.  Null Sec is choatic as various factions explore the dynamics of the Entosis Link module.  The Timer Board site shows a lot of systems in play.

Up in the north though, things have been relatively quiet for The Imperium.  We have lived there for so long because the systems are decent for ratting and mining.  There are a few lemon systems, but the active defense multiplier… the measure of how much a system gets used, which influences how hard it will be to take… for a lot of the north was pretty high straight out of the gate on the 14th.  Where we live is defended.  However, some places where we have not traditionally lived are pretty weak, with low ADM numbers.  This is particularly true in Pure Blind where, in the past, many of the systems haven’t been worth ratting or mining.

However, with the PvE upgrades that were announced just before the sovereignty changes hit, the systems in Pure Blind are suddenly viable.  The Imperium just needs somebody to live there.  We have been encouraged to rat there and strategic mining fleets have been running out that way.  I think I have personally raised the ADM of one system in the region.

Doing the Ishtar thing in Pure Blind

Doing the Ishtar thing in Pure Blind

But all of that is a temporary measure.  Not many people live in the vicinity.

So a new plan has been announced.  GSF is going to allow corps to join if they want to live in, rat, and mine, in Pure Blind.  There will be a fee to sign up and a tax on ratting and a charge for system upgrades, but otherwise corporations will be able to carebear to their heart’s content as there will be no fleet participation requirements.

In addition there will be a corp in GSF for individuals who want to sign up for that plan.  Ratting will have a 25% tax, but mining will be free.

GSF already has a way for anybody is keen to join to get on board through Karmafleet, which has greater access, so is the more likely conduit for spies and awoxers.

So we’ll see if there are any takers who want to live and rat and mine in Pure Blind.  It is close to Lonetrek, so getting things back to high sec in general, and Jita specifically will be easier than most places.  Is greater population density the answer to Fozzie Sov?

 

Learning to do the Fozzie Sov Shuffle

After the false start of Wednesday, when downtime was extended well into the Icelandic evening and jokes about Fozzie Sov killing EVE Online were starting to feel uncomfortably close to real, it looks like people really dove into the whole new sovereignty mechanic with a vengeance.

If you look at the Timer Board web site that somebody put together to use the updated API’s ability to tell you what systems are in play, you will see… as of when I am writing this… more than 200 things are being assaulted.  Obviously, not all of them are going to get taken.  A lot of timers look to be past their mark.  But clearly Entosis Link trolling is a thing, if nothing else.

Meanwhile Wollari over at DOTLAN EVE Maps has integrated some of the new data available into the map options on the site.  In addition to the usual sovereignty view of a region, you can also now choose views that show systems that are vulnerable, which systems have which of the three key structures (TCU, ihub, station), and what the active defense multiplier is for systems.

That last one is important for both attackers and defenders.  For attackers it determines how long the Entosis Link module has to run to capture something, a range of 10 to 60 minutes depending on the multiplier.  And for defenders, it essentially lets you know what your response time has to be for given systems and where you might want to focus some effort in order to boot that number.  (I am waiting for somebody to put that ADM data together into a chart to show how many sovereign null sec systems people actually use regularly.  If the ADM is 5 or greater, people live there.  3-4 shows some life.  But if it is less than that, not so much.)

This has lead to some changes of behavior, at least in The Imperium.  Before now, the carebears amongst us were, at a minimum, kidded about spending their days ratting, mining, building, or otherwise whiling away the hours in space not shooting people.

Now though, with their behavior influencing the ADM, the call goes out for shock workers to perform hero ratting in low multiplier systems.  Strategic mining ops are called and participation links given out for burning rocks.  Industrialists are now hailed as heroes of the coalition.  I am not making this up.  Well, maybe I made up that last one, but the first two are real.

It is a good time to be a carebear in The Imperium.  And it isn’t a bad time for combat operations as well.  Mordus Angels and Pandemic Horde have been making runs at systems in Pure Blind and Fade in small, easily destroyed fleets.  I managed to get into a homeland defense fleet that caught MASSADEATH himself and a small Cerberus fleet trying to finish off a vulnerable node in Pure Blind.  We got some kills, drove them off, and made the save.

Making the save

Saving the ihub

The theory seems to be that if they get in quick with a small fleet, they can get away with it.  But small gangs and squishy Entosis Link ships just feed the Feroxes of the Homeland Defense fleets.

Feroxes for Freedom

Feroxes for Freedom

The Timer Board site only shows a few systems of The Imperium under attack out of that list of 200+, and mostly on the periphery where hostiles have easy access.  It is a little early to make much of a claim, but it feels like having the coalition contract into a smaller perimeter that consisted of space that was mostly occupied and in use on a regular basis was a good plan.  Attacks are only really getting any traction where we are thin on the ground.

And the ihub upgrades for rats seem to be having an effect.  A system I ratted in pre-Aegis used to generate a single Guristas Forsaken Hub, the best generally available ISK/effort anomaly.  After that system got the upgrade, it was generating three Guristas Forsaken Hubs and a Haven.

I also had an opportunity to go out and be part of the offensive side of the Fozzie Sov equation.  Last night Asher Elias and the patron saint of welps, Dabigredboat, ran a joint Reavers/Bomberwaffe operation down to the Reavers’ home away from home, Querious.

A test run, we went down in Caracals and interceptors via a convenient (if more rare) null-to-null wormhole to  see if Darkness would defend some of their space.  Ideally it would have happened in ED-9LT, the former Reaver outpost in the region.  That was not an option.  Instead we were headed to UYU-VV in the 8BO-IH constellation.  (This is going to mean learning system AND constellations now, isn’t it?)

We faced no opposition on the first Entosis Link attack and pushed the event into the “scatter round” when additional command nodes appear throughout the constellation… in this case six systems… forcing us to break up into smaller groups.

The group that stayed in UYU-VV actually faced a bit of opposition.  The group I was in, sent off to W6V-VM, was not bothered.  We flew off to the Territorial Claim Unit Command Node that spawned in the system.

TCU Command Node

TCU Command Node

That appears to be the overview marker for the actual target, the Structure Command Node.

Timer on the command node

Timer on the structure command node

Of course, in the grand CCP tradition, the option in the overview to actually SEE these nodes is unchecked by default, harkening back to the battle cruiser split when one of them… attack battle cruisers I think… didn’t show up on overviews by default.

You need to check the right box...

You need to check the right box…

Upon finishing off the node inW6V-VM , two more nodes spawned.  Our Entosis Link fit interceptor went after one while we flew cover and, upon finishing that one, we were called back to UYU-VV.  Enough other modules were running that we did not need the additional one in our system.  And while Darkness appeared in small numbers, they did not seem interested in hitting any of the Structure Command Nodes to contest or operation.

The results bar tipping heavily in our direction

The results bar tipping heavily in our direction

And so the system was rolled.  Later, Plaid Rabbit ran out, grabbed a TCU, and planted it in UYU-VV, thus taking sovereignty for Reavers in Querious yet again.

Our constellation

Our constellation

It would have been nicer if it had a station, but I am not sure we’re going to spend ISK upgrading a system we grabbed on a whim at the other end of New Eden.

After that we had the option of starting the process on another system or going 20 jumps on the off chance we might get into the middle of a fight.  The killers won the poll, clearly betraying out Reaver philosophy, and off we went.

We did catch a blockade runner along the way just idle near a gate.  I am going to guess the pilot went AFK cloaked and then got decloaked by somebody passing too close.  That was a quick kill.  And while I understand that eventually some of us got on a dreadnought kill or two, I ended up getting popped when we crossed paths with a Northern Coalition fleet headed for the same fight, and so missed out.  Life in a combat zone.

So that has been my experience with Fozzie Sov and the Entosis Link module dynamics so far.

CCP has put out a video detailing how the mechanics of the new system work.

How the new system will actually play out over time though, that is a horse of a different color.

So Many Wiyrkomi Skins

One of the more natural complaints about the ship SKINS program… and I will capitalize it just this once to acknowledge the force fed lore acronym, Super Kerr-Induced Nanocoatings… was that at its introduction, there were not a lot of skin choices.

Basically, why doesn’t MY favorite ship have a special skin?

There seemed to be a huge gap in the range of skins available.  There were skins for capital ships, no doubt because if you’re going to invest billions into a hull… and live in that hull forever in the case of super caps… you are probably likely to want a new paint job for it.

Then there were skins for a range of tech I ships, so new players could spruce up their look.

And in between, in the land of tech II hulls… there wasn’t much happening.

This pain was made more acute by the temporary bug in the skin system that allowed players to apply any skin to any ship if they knew how.  It was agony seeing every ship done up in the Police Pursuit Comet skin, knowing that it was a fleeting moment of awesome.

Police Pursuit all the things!

Police Pursuit all the things!

Some of the skins looks awful when applied to the wrong ship, but enough looked good enough… or even damn good… that there no doubt lived within many of us a faint hope that CCP would not fix the bug.  You can see some other examples at EN24, from whom I borrowed the above image.

Still, even with the tech II skin gap, I managed to find some skins to spend my ISK on.  And I actually got to use a couple of the skins I picked up in Jita.  We ran Ravens for a bit during the Reaver Querious campaign.

My Raven with the Wiyrkomi skin applied

My Raven with the Wiyrkomi skin applied

And I also got to use the Rokh skin for a one-way suicide venture to Fountain at one point.

Both of those used the Wiyrkomi corporation skin, which is a decent olive drab finish with some white highlights at key points.  It isn’t very showy as far as skins go, but it has a martial air to it.  This is a color you would paint a combat ship.  The Kaalakiota or Nugoeihuvi colors, with their red chevrons or red tiger stripes, may feel more savage, but Wiyrkomi is pretty good.

And CCP had its explanation for why it wasn’t rushing out skins for the tech II ships as part of one of its skins updates.

Another concern of allowing any SKIN on any ship is making Tech 1 ships resemble Tech 2 ships which would have visual gameplay implications. While deciding what SKINs to offer in the release of this feature we carefully selected SKINs for ships by making sure that if we offered a SKIN for that ship the same look was not used by its Tech 2 counterpart. This is the reason why for example there is no Sarum SKIN for the Apocalypse, as it would too closely resemble the Paladin.

Okay, I get that.  If you make a Merlin skin… which the had, including one done up in the flat olive of the Wiyrkomi corporation colors… it wouldn’t be much fun to then to have the very same skin on the Harpy of the Hawk, the tech II variations on the Merlin hull.

And then with the Aegis expansion and the Fozzie Sov patch we got a lot more skins, including a bunch for those neglected tech II ships.  The situation for me literally went from “no skins for any ship I fly regularly” to “skins for damn near every ship I fly regularly.”  And if they had done something for the Tengu… and with the subsystem configurations that change how the hull looks I get that such a skin will be a pain to make for any of the tech III strategic cruisers… I would have been pretty much setup.  Just look at the list for Caldari ships alone in those two drops:

  • Harpy Wiyrkomi SKIN (Permanent)
  • Hawk Wiyrkomi SKIN (Permanent)
  • Buzzard Wiyrkomi SKIN (Permanent)
  • Manticore Wiyrkomi SKIN (Permanent)
  • Kitsune Wiyrkomi SKIN (Permanent)
  • Crow Wiyrkomi SKIN (Permanent)
  • Raptor Wiyrkomi SKIN (Permanent)
  • Caldari Navy Hookbill Wiyrkomi SKIN (Permanent)
  • Flycatcher Wiyrkomi SKIN (Permanent)
  • Cerberus Wiyrkomi SKIN (Permanent)
  • Eagle Wiyrkomi SKIN (Permanent)
  • Onyx Wiyrkomi SKIN (Permanent)
  • Basilisk Wiyrkomi SKIN (Permanent)
  • Falcon Wiyrkomi SKIN (Permanent)
  • Rook Wiyrkomi SKIN (Permanent)
  • Caracal Navy Issue Wiyrkomi SKIN (Permanent)
  • Osprey Navy Issue Wiyrkomi SKIN (Permanent)
  • Crane Wiyrkomi SKIN (Permanent)
  • Bustard Wiyrkomi SKIN (Permanent)

That is 19 new skins, and I know just off hand that I have eight of those ships sitting in a hangar in either YA0-XJ or UMI-KK, which means I might even fly them once in a while.

You can open up that New Eden store and be treated to a veritable sea of olive drab ship skins.

My olive drab cup runneth over...

My olive drab cup runneth over…

The thing is, CCP seems to have changed its mind on the whole “making sure that if we offered a SKIN for that ship the same look was not used by its Tech 2 counterpart” aspect of their skin program.  While I haven’t bought the skins and compared them side by side, the Wiyrkomi skin for the tech I Merlin looks exactly the same as the Wiyrkomi skins for the tech II Harpy and Hawk.  Likewise you can compare the Osprey, Osprey Navy Issue, and the tech II Basilisk in the store and not see an iota of difference.  (If you can see such a difference, your eyes are better than mine!)

And there are similar skin matches between tech I and tech II in the Gallente, Amarr, and Minmatar line ups.  That Ishtar Intaki Syndicate skin looks a lot like the Vexor Intaki Syndicate skin and so on.

Which leaves me with a somewhat split opinion.

On the one hand, I appreciate CCP getting some new skins out there for all of these ships, and I know that cranking out this many skins… and they have promised us new skins every Tuesday this month… means that they cannot all be special snowflakes of uniqueness.

On the other hand, that is a lot of olive drab paint splashed over those Caldari hulls.  In that dev blog about skins coming this summer, the whole custom mask issue was explained, but there were also a lot of color options shown.  I feel like the tech II ships might have been treated to at least something a little different.

But with two more Tuesdays left in July, maybe CCP will show us something different.

Strategic cruiser skins maybe?

Well, once they get the game running again.  Fozzie Sov post-patch issues.