Archive for September, 2011

Why no personal POS

Posted in Gameplay with tags , , on September 20, 2011 by Baa

Can you tell that I’m not getting a huge amount of game time at the moment? I keep thinking about stuff that bugs me. This one is about POS. When you deploy a POS you do so for your corporation, even if you fund and fuel it yourself, its a corporation POS. In order to do so you need to have specific corp roles assigned. Some corps are reluctant to allow new members these privileges as it would allow the newbie access to fuel stores etc on all corp POS. A spy could make use of this to strip fuel from the corp POS and have them offline.

I understand the historic reason for the corp control of POS. Prior to Dominion it was the determinator of sov in 0.0 space. We have other sov mechanics now, isn’t it worth looking a POS and being able to launch them, like other deployables, either for corp or for self?

What to do about AFK cloakies?

Posted in Gameplay with tags , , , , , , , , on September 19, 2011 by Baa

Picture the scene:

You’ve spent a couple of months taking a system, building up its military index to 5, shipped and installed upgrades to your infrastructure hub, and are now ready to take advantage and finally make back your ISK. What’s that? A red has appeared in system.

You dash over to the gate, pinging the D-scan for all its worth. Nothing.

You check the next system. Still nothing. The red is still there when you jump back.

You get back to your safe POS and sit. Waiting for it the red to leave. You’re tempted to risk it. There’s only one red in system, and a few corp mates. Then again, the red is from an alliance that is known to hotdrop ratters. Is it worth the risk. You decide to bait them.

A solo ship starts ratting. It runs the belts. It clears a couple of anomaly sites. No sign of the hostile ship. You log out and come back later … The red is still there. You wait for downtime and log straight in and head for the gate. Within a few minutes the red returns. No gate fire, nothing on scan. Its cloaked and staying there.

This is probably familiar to anyone in a sov holding alliance. The question is what can you do about it?

The only chance you really have is to bubble the in-gate and sit on it with a number of fast ships and pop anything you can. If you miss them at this point, which given that you aren’t going to get many volunteers to sit on a gate waiting for incoming cov ops ships, is pretty likely, there is nothing you can do. Once in system the afk cloaky has you at their mercy.

You can only really rat, or do sites, if you’ve sufficient firepower to insta-pop it and escape before any fleet can get through the lit cyno field and gank you. The fear of a single cov ops pilot stops you exploiting the system resources. What’s the point of taking your ship out of the POS shields if you could spend an hour collecting ISK only to see it all lost when you are jumped.

This has to impact people being able to make the most of the Dominion changes. They definitately impact the null-sec population density. At first look it does seem contrary to CCP’s objectives for nullsec. I don’t think it made their list of things to look at though. What could they do?

I’ve seen suggestions to make cloaks have a duration, rather than being infinite. It would be a simple change, a tweak to the cloak modules. I’m not sure it would serve the purpose on it’s own though. If people can automate ratting and mining, it would be fairly simple to automate toggling the cloak back on. You could add fuel, similar to how a cyno operates. Operating the cloak could consume X amount of some ice or PI product to keep it running. That would sort of work, ships couldn’t stay in 23.5/7 without needing to re-supply. It would improve the chance of catching them.

The other proposal I’ve seen is the exhaust gasses one. This is a Star Trek influence. The ship might be invisible to normal detection, but some energy has to escape. If some escapes then it can be detected. At this point you’ve a whole bunch of things open to you. Is it a special probe type. Very short range, and the signature from the cloaky should be very small. This would allow the cloaky to move to get away from the probes, only penalising the genuine afk cloaky. The probes would get you in the area then it would be the normal orbit with probes out to try and get a de-cloak. Not perfect, but better than at present.

I guess the final thing would be some sort of security improvement that affects cloaks. It would have to require considerable development, and cost a bit to run, but in return allow cloaks to be disabled in the system. Perhaps this could just aid the above probe solution, or affect duration, or fuel usage, from the earlier first option.

Of course we could just leave things as they are and allow an afk alt to stop people playing.

The Blob

Posted in Chronicle with tags , , , , , , on September 16, 2011 by Baa

There is a lot written, on blogs, forums, and in chat windows, about the blob and blob warfare. I’m not quite sure what a blob is. At best its an indeterminate number of ships whose only defining attribute is that its larger than the opposing fleet. So if you have solo ratters in a system that 10-15 ship roam is a blob. If the same roam comes across a 30-40 ship defence fleet, then the defence fleet view them as the blob. If the roam turns out to be the forward party of a 100 man fleet then… well you get the idea.

After taking part in a few larger fleets in the past few weeks I’d like to offer a different definition. If your fleet can kill the primary target before all of the ships in the fleet can lock it, you are in a blob. Last night was a prime example of this…

A Goon fleet jumped into our staging system and provoked a response. The Goon had a decent number of ships, we had slightly more. The FC jockeyed for position, trying to get the other fleet at optimal range. The composition of both fleets was similar, shield BC with logi support. I jumped into a Rook, I know T2 shiny ship and all that, and warped on top of our logis.

The enemy fleet was at close range to our main fleet, 50km+ to me, and the FC started calling targets. As each target was broadcast it was a race to lock it before it became the primary and get a shot off. The DPS coming out of our fleet, combined with the jamming of their logi, meant that the enemy BCs were going down after only a couple of shots at most. Any slight lag and you might miss firing altogether. The carnage continued until the enemy was outnumbered enough so that our fleet could be considered a blob using the normal understanding of the term.

The thing here is that the fighting devolved into basically lock, shoot, lock, shoot. Was this fun? There was a certain amount of satisfaction in driving off the intruding fleet. The tension really was mostly on whether you were going to be targetted and whether you’d be able to lock and engage the primary target before it was destroyed. I guess there was some tension around whether we’d win, but given that the majority of the fleet was aligned out if things started going wrong we could always warp off. So, fun? Yes, a little, but not as much fun as a smaller fleet battle where individual actions can sway the day. Maybe, large fleet battles just aren’t for me.

PI: Is it worth the effort?

Posted in Character with tags , , , , , , , on September 14, 2011 by Baa

I’m seriously trying to work out whether PI is worth it. Though this might be better termed ‘Is PI worth it for me?”. As a bit of background I’ll summarise my current situation.

I live in pretty decent 0.0 space. I have my main and a carrier flying alt in the same corp with access to systems with -0.9 trusec. The systems are developed and contain many high value anomalies, as well as decent belt rats with the chance of office spawns.

I set up a five planet PI production chain with my alt producing robotics. I make the P1 product on four of the planets and then move the T1 product to the fifth planet for the P2 and P3 production. This can generate 20 units of Robotics an hour based on my current skills. Given 24 hour production that gives me a maximum of 480 units per day for 30-45 minutes effort. Looking at local prices of 35k/unit this would give an income of 16.8 mil ISK if maximum production could be maintained.

Unfortunately I don’t seem to be able to keep going at that level without running short (1 day) extraction runs and moving the extractors about on the planet. This takes longer, maybe an hour a day, and incurs additional cost.

Using my main in a decent PVE ship with fighter support from my alt I can clear a Haven, or Sanctum, and salvage it in less than an hour. Doing this will get me 20-30 mil ISK/hour. Looking at the raw figures I’d be better off spending the time ratting than doing PI.

I thought about the impact of neutrals/hostiles in system. This affects both endeavours though. I can’t move materials between planets without putting myself at risk if either are in system. Its not a stretch to realise that that hauler, even a cloaky one, that’s on D-Scan could be going between Customs Offices. Also you can’t import/export materials to/from a planet unless you are uncloaked in space.

So, if PI isn’t profitable for me, who is going to do PI? I’m guessing either dedicated industrialists, or low-SP players. Anyone with the 40+ mil SP I have just isn’t going to find it worthwhile.

Could it be made worth it for me? If there was a way to remove some of the risk, or automate the process of placing extractor heads to speed up the relocation process. That might make it worth it for an individual. As it stands its just not worth the effort for me. Shame really given the effort spent on it, and its apparent importance wrt Dust.

The CSM

Posted in CCP with tags , , , on September 8, 2011 by Baa

What is the CSM?

Literally its the Council of Stellar Management. Functionally its a means of CCP getting soundings from the player base.

How important is the CSM? Well, if the numbers taking part in the election mean anything, not very. Until the CSM election gets votes from a significant portion of the EVE playerbase then its just a talking shop. It’s the single issue lobby group in rl politics. Yes, CCP can listen to it, but if anyone believes that CCP needs to take notice of it they are sorely mistaken.

When its working with CCP to fine tune features, the CSM works fine. When in conflict it cannot do anything but fail. What real leverage does the CSM have? The answer is much less than a lot of the commentators think. I thought The Mittani understood this, sadly it appears that power has gone to his head.

The critics, naysayers, doom-mongers, un-subbers, should bear in mind that no matter how much they have invested in EVE CCP has invested more. All of the CCP staff that are castigated across the Internet have more invested than the players. Perhaps not in time, but their livelihood depends on EVE. Only RMT botters have a similar claim.

This is my second post in as many days about the latest blog banter thing. I just wish we could all get back to playing instead of people forgetting that its flying internet spaceships.

Is EVE dying?

Posted in CCP with tags , , , , , , on September 8, 2011 by Baa

I’ve seen posts from Selene, Roc Wieler, and Jester all espousing the same thought, that EVE is dying. They make some interesting comments, and drag out some pretty (or not) graphs, to try and persuade the reader of the truth of this. Is it true?

EVE has changed over the time I’ve been playing, and will continue to change. Not all of the changes will please all of the player base. EVE has players leaving. I’ve seen people I’ve played with leave for real life reasons, mostly because their life didn’t have time for the time sink EVE is anymore. I’ve seen people leave in principle over the NEX store. I’ve also seen some of these return when they found out that the sky wasn’t really falling.

There’s no doubt that the spaceships part of EVE is, for the moment, stagnating. There has been little content over the past couple of expansions that has benefitted those players that like to fly about and shoot other players. The sov changes that came with Dominion have now been gamed in the same way that the POS mechanic was gamed. Its familar, easy to manipulate, and not really a challenge. It needs more work.

PVE content has stagnated as well. Incursion brought some decent stuff, but its too limited, too restrictive, and not available to everyone. It serves as a show piece of how good EVE PVE could be, if they rolled out some of the mechanics around it to the rest of the PVE content. Missions deeply need some love.

Wormhole space was fun, until we settled in it, now its not something that the casual player can jump into and have fun with. The majority of them are now occupied. Anyone jumping into a WH to try and do anything than pass through has a pretty good chance of dying unless they are in a big enough gang to hold off the inhabitants.

CPP have been spending time and effort on the new player experience, to try and bring players up to speed with the complexity of EVE. This is all well and good, but once they get out of the new player experience what next? Things pretty quickly deteriorate into grinding missions, or crushing rocks.

As a player that’s spent most of my time in 0.0, shooting people or trying to make ISK, I welcome the changes that CCP propose to 0.0. The fact that they are intending to do a root and branch rework of 0.0 to make it what it should be. Sadly without spending time on missions, anomalies, and new virgin territories, this won’t last. Things will stagnate again.

I find all of the negative comments about Incarna to be amusing. Many of the same people complained that CCP hadn’t delivered on walking in stations. It had been promised for years but now, when it was delivered, its not what they wanted.  What would make these people happy? Its like the kid in the toy shop that wants everything now.

So is EVE dying? I don’t think so. Its in transition. EVE used to be a game that was solely about flying spaceships. It is still mostly about flying spaceships but its evolving into something more. As with all transitions the road will be bumpy but CCP know what they want in the end. They also know how vulnerable they are if EVE subscriptions drop off a cliff. If you ask 100 EVE players at random what needs to be done you’d get somewhere approaching 100 different answers. Everyone has their own favourite ideas and bugbears. CCP have to rise above that and steer their own course whilst keeping as many people on board as possible.

Looking outside EVE for a moment. Would the iPhone be such a success if Apple had just stuck to dealing with what people thought they wanted from a phone?

Sorry about the wall of text. The tl;dr answer is not yet.

Brick Squad = Best Squad?

Posted in Corporate with tags , , , on September 5, 2011 by Baa

So, our period of assimilation with the BORG lasted a couple of weeks. Pretty much as soon as we got settled everything went pear shaped.

The Collective was the subject of some corp thievery and lost around 320 billion ISK worth of cash and assets. This, combined with absent leadership, caused a couple of the larger corps in BORG to leave. The Collective then decided that they had enough to do with sorting out the fallout from their theft and decide to wind down the alliance.

This left us again with choices. On of the corps (UNSOL) was heading to Fountain to join TEST, a couple of our corp mates had decided to join them, tempted by the promise to be able to use their super caps I think. They then set about trying to get the better players from our corp to go with them. I considered this briefly but, as the chief instigator was an FC that only succeeded in getting me killed, I decided against that. The choice then was see what happened, or bail and head down to Stain to grief and earn ISK.

The corp then decided to rejoin Brick Squad, meaning that assets would only need to be moved a couple of systems. This was definitely preferable to a long move. So, for the moment, I’m still in Delve and back in Brick with old alliance mates. Fleets in Brick are definitely an antidote to the Merciless, don’t bring it unless it absolutely matches the alliance fit, approach. Its much more casual and, because of that, suits my game time better. I might yet head off to Stain if I can’t find a decent way to make ISK in the next couple of weeks but for the moment Brick Squad = Best Squad.