Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Pimping Your Noobs

In this article I am going to discuss overloading, boosters, faction/deadspace/officer modules and skill hardwiring implants.

The first weeks I played Eve, I found tons of information from older players/on the forums about how to play. Do not fly anything you can not afford to lose. Do not fly a ship before you are at least moderately skilled for it. Guns are better than missiles for fleet pvp because they do instant damage. Armor tanking is more popular for pvp because you need your mid slots for propulsion jamming so shield tanking is less viable. Stuff like that.

However, there is some game content that I started using quite late, and by the looks of it, it is like that for a lot of the new players. For some reason, the barrier to this content seems higher than with other stuff.

"Overloading? My modules break then!"
"Boosters? What are those? There are drugs in Eve you can take? Cool!!"
"Faction modules are too expensive for me." but I still like those more than: "Hey guys, (I just bought 2b isk on a site and) look at my fully faction fitted strategic cruiser." after which they die a horrible death after their first nullsec trip.
"Implants? Yes. I use the +4 attribute enhancers. The others? No.. I dont use them. Never really looked at them. They are too expensive, right?"

Most of the stuff discussed here is only useful for pvp.


Overloading is one of the things combat pilots really have to master in Eve. Although overloading gives in general only like a 10% bonus to a certain module, when used right, it can be a 1.2-1.5 gang multiplier when everyone in your gang understands the concept as opposed to none. Overloading your mwd might mean not getting hit instead of getting hit, overloading remote repair might mean gang member being primaried holds tank or not and overloading warp disruptor might mean you can stay out of the targets optimal range as a tackler. There are tons of scenarios. The capabilities of your gang just become a bit bigger all of a sudden.

With the Dominion expansion, skill requirements for overloading were even more lowered, which makes the barrier to use it pretty damn low.
Actually, at first, this article was only going to be about overloading your modules. The other things mentioned are just read and absorb, while overloading is something you actually have to master.

The skill that enables you to overload is Thermodynamics. It is definitely worth to train this to at least IV, even if you are a character starting out, suffering from omg-so-much-to-train syndrom.
Anyway, all the information about overloading can be found in this guide.

Many new players read this article. The basic understanding is there.

There are some things that guide does not mention explicitly or not enough:
* Damage always occurs on the same rack, so a high slot mod will never damage a med slot nor vice versa.
* Leaving a slot open gives the same benefits as an offlined module. However, if you are overloading a module, it is better to offline the modules next to them if you dont need them right away, since they will start taking heat damage otherwise if you dont.
* Only the fitting screen shows you which modules are next to each other. Moving buttons around in the interface does not change their relative position to each other.

When to use it?

But still, the big question remains: when do I use overload in practice? The idea of modules breaking in the midst of a fight prevents some from using it at all.

I am going to try and answer that question here.

* Short range guns get like a 15% damage bonus, which comes down to an actual 10% in general due to the way bonuses stack. This speaks for itself. Use it as soon as possible in a fight. At least one cycle. Turn it off on time though.
* Long range guns and missile launchers get a -15% duration bonus. Similar point as above.
* Propulsion modules, both MWD and AB, get a 50% speed boost. This might be useful if you are speed tanking, if you want to get in range quicker, and definitely if you need to get the hell out.
* Propulsion jamming modules. Overloading these gives boosts to range. Very useful. Webs get a 30% bonus, warp scramblers and disruptors a 20% bonus. Use overloading to be able to catch the target a bit sooner or to keep it catched a little bit longer. Might also be useful to keep range when you are faster than target and you want to keep your own optimal/avoid his optimal.
* ECM modules get a 20% bonus to jam strength. ECCM modules get a 30% bonus to sensor strength. Overloading these is arguably most useful in the beginning of a fleet fight, or if you notice that either of them is not working. Tracking disruptor, target painters and remote sensor dampeners cannot be overloaded.
* Energy neuts and drains get a -15% duration bonus. Overload if you want to cap dry the target faster/want more cap coming in.
* Active tank modules, like armor hardeners and invulnerability fields get a 20% bonus to the resistance bonuses. Overload as soon as you know you are not holding/going to hold tank.
* Local tank repair modules, like shield boosters and armor repair systems, get both a 10% bonus on amount repaired as a -15% duration bonus. Overload as soon as you took damage and your repairer cant keep up with the incoming damage.
* Logistics, such as shield repair, armor repair and cap transfer get a -15% bonus on duration. Use when the tank of a friendly is not holding but not going down like poof either. Use when tons of people in fleet are asking for any of the three, and you know you have enough cap to push it a little bit more. Obviously useful if you are flying a logistic.
* Capacitor boosters get a -15% duration when overloaded too. Use them if you want more cap coming in. Most useful when being neuted.

One final remark on overloading though. Overloading is micromanagement. Do it when you have the time. For example, locking, sending drones and applying damage as soon as possible are a lot more important than getting the heat thing right.
And in lagged scenarios, mouse clicks should always be spend elsewhere.

Nanite Repair Paste

When you have Nanite Repair Paste in your cargo hold, you can repair partially(!) damaged modules on the fly, by clicking on the damaged module and choosing repair. Taking some Nanite Repair Paste with you is usually a good idea. Note that you can only repair modules that are not active and not on cooldown, but they do not have to be offline. Right after you overheated a module, you cant repair it right away after you turn it off though. You have to wait a bit until the heat wears off. However, it is possible to overload mwd and burn to a target, turn your mwd off and start repairing as soon as the heat on the module is zero again, which might still be during the battle. So, in some cases, repairing modules during battle makes sense. Note however that once repair started, you cannot activate the module, until you choose to stop repairing it first. So, it involves a lot of micromanagement to actually use it then. Most people only repair in between battles, not during them.
The skill Nanite Operation lets you repair more with the same amount of repair paste and the skill Nanite Interfacing lets you repair more per second.


You can read more about the basics of boosters here.

Boosters are a bit of a mystery to some players. Although they are illegal in high sec with the exception of synth boosters, it is very easy to transport them with cloaky ships, so they can be bought in pretty much all normal market hubs, and transported from there to whatever station. Synth boosters cost less than 1m, standard boosters around 4m, improved ones around 8m and strong ones around 16m.

Although boosters are temporary, they last for quite a long time. 30 minutes standard. With the Biology skill this can be raised to 60 minutes.

Boosters give a rather large bonus for this amount of time to a specific aspect of your skills. You can increase your capacitor or decrease your signature radius, or enhance your active tanking skills, like armor repairing or shield boosting(Slot 1). You can also improve your weaponry. Like improving your turret tracking speed, optimal or falloff(Slot 2). Or giving your missiles a lower explosion radius, making it possible to hit smaller targets with them(Slot 3).

All boosters have 4 possible negative side effects, except for the legal synth boosters which have none. The chance and impact of these side effects can be reduced with the Nanite Control and Neurotoxin Recovery skills. Nanite Control is a very expensive skillbook though, and although it is not so useful, you need this skill first to be able to skill for Neurotoxin Recovery. It is well worth the isk if you are planning on using boosters frequently, and you are already a couple of months playing/300m isk isnt that big of a deal to you anymore. Assuming that Neurotoxin Recovery is at IV, with Standard boosters you will typically get around 0,75 of the side effects, with Improved ones 1 and with Strong ones around 1,35.

It often comes down to one really negative side effect you do not want. Still, chances of getting that particular side effect are only 16% with standard boosters, which is about 1 time out of 6 times. Also, when this one evil side effect occurs, it usually does not matter that much. The bonus and the penalty together usually still make your ship better than before.

In the case the booster crippled you instead of boosting you, you can still volunteer for the role of scout in the gang. Or you can even make it customary in your gang to take those drugs together before starting an op, assigning the role of scout to the one that got the worst side effects. There might be other options even. If you got a bad penalty to your gunnery, you can opt to fly an electronic warfare recon maybe.

In any case, use them! Stick to the Synth boosters if you prefer, but try to incorporate them in your play.

In the remaining part of this section, I will try to describe how to get the most out of these boosters.

Which sizes should you use?

Synth boosters are an easy answer. Although their impact is rather small, they are cheap too. Use them if you like detail. Or to make an almost cap stable fit, stable, for example. Actually, I use those cheap ones all the time, but I am even more a fan of Standard boosters. They definitely have the best price/performance ratio. Although their effects are only like half of the Strong ones, they are 4 times cheaper and it is easier to control their side effects too. Unlike the synth boosters, their effects are really significant. When flying capitals, I would consider using the Strong ones. For regular ops I just find them too expensive.

Which types should you use?

Mindflood boosters give more capacitor. More capacitor also means you recharge more cap per second, although the time to fully recharge remains the same. 10% more cap means 10% faster cap recharge. This booster is popular for cap-intensive buffer tank setups. Most of all, in regular play, for logistics. There are two local tanking penalties and two weaponry related penalties for this one. If a logistics ship fits buffer and no local tank(which is often done in rr bs gangs with multiple logistics) and no weapons, the side effects are entirely neglible. The most important use for this booster, however, is probably for carriers, as capitals often do not local rep, and carriers usually have a nursing role instead of a firing weapons role. Definitely buy strong ones for those to get the huge 20% bonus. Arguably the most popular booster around.

In remote repair close range BS gangs, the drop boosters(better turret tracking) are nice. Injecting the standard one is like having the skill Motion Prediction at 10. You get significantly increased tracking, and the local armor repair and shield capacity penalties do not matter. In general, use them for close ranged combat. Useful for fast, close range ships, such as the vagabond too, as long as the pilot does not get the velocity penalty. The velocity penalty is pretty much always the one you do not want to get. You will only get the penalty like 1 time out of 6 though.

Just like the drop boosters are nice for close range combat ships, the frentix boosters(improved optimal range) are nice for long range snipers. It enables you to use higher damage ammo or sit even further out.
The sooth sayer boosters(improved falloff range)are popular among snipers as well, since they have less worse penalties. Since pretty much all sniper setups are buffer, it is better to get a armor repairer penalty than a armor capacity penalty, the last one being definitely a bad one to get. Usually, people fight at optimal and not at falloff though.

Crash boosters(lower missile explosion radius) work a bit as target painters. These will give your missiles a significantly reduced explosion radius, making it easier to hit smaller targets like frigates and cruisers. The only penalty that usually matters in this case is the Missile Velocity penalty. Chance to get it is at 16% with Neurotoxin Recovery at IV. Probably most useful on stealth bombers, since it makes sense to engage frigs and cruisers with those.

X-Instinct boosters(lowered signature radius) are used by pilots flying ships that depend on their size for not being hit, or that want to be locked as slow as possible. Seems popular among interceptor pilots. Offsets the increased signature radius caused by mwding. Helps with surviving a bomb. Makes sense when flying covert ops vessels too, for that little bit of extra time others would need to lock you. In general, useful when flying frigs made of paper.

Exile boosters(better armor repairing) work very well for active armor tanking setups. For example, an Hyperion can reach a 2000 dps tank with those, making it possible to tank multiple ships at the same time (whether you want to fly a setup that is so vulnerable to neuting is something else entirely). The armor capacity penalty is the really bad one to get, and even less desirable if you combine the active tanking mods with buffer plates.
A similar thing can be said about the blue pill boosters(better shield boosting).
Due to the impopularity of active tanking without buffer in pvp, these boosters are not used very often. Arguably the least popular boosters around.

Faction/deadspace/officer modules

The modules you encounter first in Eve are the tech1 modules. Soon, you will discover the t1 meta 1-4 named modules, which are better than their normal t1 counterparts and usually have lower fitting requirements too. And you will get to know the t2 modules, which are meta 5, for which you have to skill, which are usually better than the named modules, but have a little bit higher fitting requirements than all their lower meta variations.

And then you start seeing the faction and officer modules/ships. Maybe you notice them on the mission reward list or when someone posts a fitting with them in your corp or alliance channel. After t2, faction modules are the next meta in line, usually 6-9, with pirate faction modules usually being a bit better, and higher meta, than the high sec navy faction modules. Then come deadspace modules and officer modules, which are always meta 11 or higher, and if you find them, you go “OMFG, I am rich.”

The first rule of thumb is not to fly expensive ships as long as you are too inexperienced for them. Many new players are isk buyers, and due to the low requirements for t3 cruisers, they buy and fly them a lot, and fit them with the expensive faction/officer stuff, copied from the cookiecutter build they found on some forum. This article is not pointed at you guys. I completely support you. Every dead 1b+ ship makes all other players in the eve universe a bit richer, so you guys are really doing a great job.

This section is pointed at the newer players who do not buy isk, and are hesitant to buy/ever use all items above meta 5. Now, the obvious rule of thumb is that you should not buy these modules for use on cheap ships. But once you wander into the t2 ship realm, and definitely when you skill to capitals, you should invest some isk in this stuff. Start cheap. Figure out which modules are worth it and which are not. If you do missions for a navy for example, it may be worth it to buy some nice tanking modules. Or it might be useful(and fun!) to buy a cheap high meta 1MN mwd for your tackling frig.

The most important is to know their prices and the impact they have on setups. Do not treat them as a sine qua non, or as a always-too-expensive item, but use common sense in buying and using them.

Skill hardwiring implants

This article is not going to be about special cases of using implants, like using mindlinks for fleet boosting, or using crystal and slave sets. It is going to focus on cheap skill hardwiring implants in everyday eve life.

Skill hardwiring implants give you extra levels on a certain skill. Some players perceive them as very temporary and too expensive.

It is true. They are temporary. You lose them if you get podded. But you probably do not get podded that often. Think about it. How many times have you been podded in your eve career? You wont get podded in high or low sec if you are a semi-decent pvper, and in nullsec only when confronted with ships with very high scan resolution or when caught in a bubble. And if you buy some more expensive ones, you can still store them in a jump clone you use only in high and low sec.

Indeed, the high end skill hardwiring implants are very expensive, and in my eyes usually not worth it. But since the skill hardwiring implants come at various levels, typically 3, with like a respective 1%, 3% and 5% bonus to something, you can choose yourself how much you want to invest. The 1% ones are usually incredibly cheap, the 3% ones affordable too, while the 5% ones start to become 100M+ expensive.
For example, the 'Noble' ZET50 for slot 10, which grants +1% armor HP, costs around 1M isk. The 'Noble' ZET 500 which grants +3% armor costs around 7M, while the 'Noble' ZET 5000, +5% armor HP, suddenly costs a whopping 140M.
An even more useful skill hardwiring implant, allowing fittings not possible before, are the 'Squire' PG implants for slot 9. The +1% powergrid bonus costs a bit more than 1M isk, the +3% about 20M isk and the +5% a whopping 150M again.
Similar prices for the 'Gypsy' KMB Cpu Output implants for slot 6 and for the 'Gypsy' KNB Signature Resolution implants for slot 7.
For 5M, you get a +1% bonus to 5 of the most important attributes of your ship in Eve, and for 100M a +3% bonus. Especially +3% cpu and powergrid for only 40M is really useful.

I guess I should underline that it is basically the same thing for boosters, faction stuff and hardwiring implants: the lower end the item, the better the price/performance ratio. You get the +1% bonus implants almost for free.

There are some others, who are even less costly, like Zor's Custom Navigation Link, and inserting those are still better than not inserting any at all. Start using these lower end ones!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Typing senseless stuff

Unfortunately for Don Quixote, real life is happening again for his master.
His communications with the world outside his station are usually limited to idling on a chat channel, typing senseless stuff.

When his alliance tried to take the station from Mostly Harmless in FIO, he joined up for the ops a few times though.

During the first op, both the infrastructure hub and station were put into reinforced mode. No defenders showed up.

2 days later, when the station was coming out of reinforced, our sovereignty blockade unit was destroyed. If you take a look at this killmail, it is rather obvious we couldnt take that system. 12 motherships and 9 titans, and a ton of capitals and conventionals on the bottom of that list. That must be like the biggest fleet I have seen so far on a single killmail.

Disregarding that, we went for another try. During these days, their infrastructure hub was destroyed and the station was put into reinforced again. When the station was coming out of reinforced, we assembled a fleet to give it another try. The enemy gathered in FIO long before that time and gridloaded, which put us on a severe disadvantage lagwise, not even regarding their by far superior numbers.

We decided not to use caps and Cry Havoc titan bridged us in, but we just jumped out again and held on gate on the other side, hoping they would follow us so we would get at least a fair fight out of our alarmclocking. The enemy didnt have a fight in mind though, only the defense of the system. By that time I had to get ready to go to work. An hour later, when i was on my way to work, our fleet commander jumped the fleet into system, well knowing he was going suicidal again. Anyway, the system could not be taken, and it was pretty clear it would take more of the Southern Coalition to combat such Northern Coalition numbers.

As for me. My grace period is over and I suppose I have to leave the corporation. I am pretty sure no one is going to kick me, but when – again - I dont have the time to play, I probably shouldnt stay and take the decision to leave myself.

Vote Hale!

This article is not going to be about my eve life with my dead brothers in space though.

When I was shooting the above Mostly Harmless station, I was reading the programs of the different CSM candidates with half an eye.

And as a true Don Quixote, illusional and fancy-struck, my character started imagining to be on that council himself. It was my job to come up with a program. Sigh.

General consensus

One thing that struck me was the general consensus among the present candidates.

Eliminating lag seems to be on top of the general wishlist, while boosting small gang pvp/discouraging blob tactics, incentivizing low security space and building a better UI are all important seconds.

Some ideas about incentivizing low security space are as old as the conflict between the Amarr and Minmatar people. For example, since mining in low security is usually not as lucrative as it is in high security, while being a lot more dangerous, it has been obvious for ages that ccp should boost the mining there, like adding some 0.0 ores to them. Some ideas are newer but yet remain simple which is always a good thing. Like adding some pirate faction agents to low sec space, as ParityBit seems to want.

UI-wise, the best idea in my opinion, is the one Trebor Daehdoow has: to add addons to the Eve interface. As I understand it, it comes down to players being able to highly customize their UI for the job at hand in game, by decorating the existing interface.

I read about more interesting, less high scale, ideas too.
Like make it possible to sell kill rights. Another one I found at ParityBit. Love that one!
Or for pve, the idea of Ankhesentapemkah to make dynamic missions, I guess a bit like the random dungeons/bosses/subquests/drops the blizzard diablo games have. I am a fan, like most people, of making pve more like pvp too, for all the obvious reasons.
And another point on which there is a lot of general consensus: do something about the exagerated insurance payouts of battleships. The cost right now to gank freighters and expensive mission ships in high security is ridiculously low.

My campaign headline: discouraging blob tactics as they are now

For my campaign headlines, I started thinking about why I play Eve.

I see it less as a game to prove myself than some others do. I like just flying around in space, wandering from one side of the universe to the other, having just met a white-collar criminal, having flown through another solar system struck by anarchy, knowing some of my mining friends in nullsec just docked because their enemies came looking for them, some others are happily hunting pirates and another is somewhere moving his trade cargo between the hubs of the four empires. It is easy for me to get under Hale's skin and feel a bit like I am actually there. I guess that makes me a roleplayer in disguise, but with Eve, you at least roleplay your own unique character. It is not like you are doing the same quest thousands of others do on a daily basis. For Thrall, or whatever his name may be.

Having said that, I would like the pvp to be a bit more engaging though. Right now, you need 2 scouts and 1 good fc, and you are set for a 50ppl rr bs gang. I am simplifying things here, but only to make a point. There are too many grunts in fleets. And the impact of numbers negates the need for individual skill and game knowledge too much. I do not dislike huge fights. I dislike the way the fcs call primary after primary, flushing tons of game detail, individual skill and variety in shiptypes through the drain.

Some CSM candidates propose ideas or entire solutions for this.

One of the points in Mynxee's program is discouraging blob tactics by removing some of their advantages, perhaps by subjecting fleets over a certain size to "stacking penalties" tied to the ship types in each wing/squad. I like this idea because it is simple, although it does not deal with the problem as nearly as efficient as more complicated ideas would do.

Another idea, from Trebor Daehdoow again, changes game mechanics to deal with lag in such a way, namely by only showing the N closest ships to your ship on grid, that fights might become more interesting, since every little region of the fight needs to have decisionmaking. One fc cant see everything anymore. The importance of range and speed(eg changing your position to see the ships you want to see) would skyrocket with this approach though. It is a brilliant idea, but the impact on combat would probably be too big for ccp to give it a try.

Another creative idea is the idea of noise described in To Blob or not to Blob. This means delaying/limiting the number of ships that can lock a single ship, so it is difficult/not possible for 100 ships to focus fire on one. If the obvious exploits can be circumvented, this is one of the best things that could happen to fleet warfare in my eyes. In theory, it would mean squads would need individual targets, which means they would need individual decisionmaking, hence the need for more fcs(or heavily multitasking fcs) as the number in your gang rises.

CCP should be able to at least get something out of these ideas, and implement it to make pvp more challenging.

The brilliance of wormhole space

My second campaign headline would have been asking ccp to add truly uncharted space.

The important features for this new space would have been:
- A place where it is impossible to hotdrop people or bridge fleets in. In short, a place where Capitals Online did not start yet. Every man and every dog in Eve seems to own a capital at present. Even yours truly, Don Quixote here, who is a total noob, has a Thanatos carrier. The number of supercaps ingame is ridiculous too. I know some smaller alliances quite well, and two of them even have a Titan. I even dont want to know how many the large alliances have. I wanted space in which capitals are at least rare.
- A place without local. Its just a lot more exciting to fly around, knowing a (even probably unfair) fight might be lurking around the corner.
- Distant from normal space. Have the feeling I am actually flying away from home.
- A place where large powerblocks are less important. A place where, if you bring 10 people, chances are low you will be outnumbered 3 to 1.

The longer I thought about it, the more I realized that my uncharted space was already in the game. Wormhole space. I just never realized it. Ofcourse, it is not so uncharted anymore. But the things that were realistic to wish for, are in it. Maybe going to/coming from normal space is too easy and there should be much deeper wormhole spaces that never link to normal space or something, but still, I think CCP did an amazing job on this one. I thought it was just a nice feature, but it is more than that. It is designed for particular wishes among the players and corporations. Really, a job well done.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

No frills, some thrills, and one day, hopefully some kills

The last 8 months I have been travelling through South-America/Central-America. The closest I have been to nullsec the last year was wandering around in certain parts of Lima, La Paz, Quito and Managua, and certain regions of Colombia. Although the feeling might be quite similar - at any moment someone can show up to take your stuff or shoot at you - the required skillset to deal with the day to day situations is different.

So, I can not deny it. My character has dwelled in stations for too long. In those 8 months he had plenty of time to get to know all the different women in the station he was located at - single ánd married. Somewhere halfway those 8 months he was moved to another station. Officially he went out to buy some skillbooks and dedicate his life to study, but I heard rumours that he ran from some lady in Auvergne that has a dungeon like Martin Law from Dead Terrorists. Although station life was good fun, unfortunately, he did not gather any combat experience.

When I came back to Eve after my travels, my avatar seemed glad to be taken into space again. New rumours spoke of another dungeon he was trying to escape, but I like to believe he just wanted to float around in space again and - what would be new - live as a gun.
I was kicked from my old corporation by now due to inactivity. I thought about joining them again since I had been with them from pretty much day 1. I hope for them they win Eve one day, they are good online friends. But the trade of pvp I would not learn there.
So I started looking for something else. I thought about joining a huge alliance. I was in if I wanted but decided it would be nothing for me. In the meantime I flew around in high sec, and later low sec, null sec and wormhole space in my covert ops, learning how to probe. I scared some people: i decloaked my covert ops near some low sec mission runners just for thrills, and the 3 guys there warped out right away before realizing it was just a silly covert ops appearing on their grid. Haha. And some people scared me: I ran into some drag bubbles and gatecamps but luckily never into 1800mm scan resolution guys. By then, I had the option of joining a good pure empire warring corp, but felt like that would leave me out from a lot of pvp content in the game.

Then I applied for Dead Terrorists. I guess the funny alliance description, the latest alliance tournament, the obvious and completely pvpcentric approach and the fact that they are taking their first steps in alliance sovereignity were the things that made me do that. I was let in, but on a grace period of two weeks. The condition on joining would be to show good form, get on 20 killmails in these two weeks and keep battlecoms on ops.

The first step was getting my ships and items to da home base in deep nullsec. Im used to being in nullsec 3 jumps from empire, but really being out in nullsec without empire close by to shop is new for me. I am still waiting for my ships to arrive in 4C by private courier contract and until then i need to be creative.

I didnt feel like flying bricklike ships 20 jumps into nullsec, so I came to 4C in a covops with all necessary fittings for a mega, both short and long range, even including the rigs, and bought a mega there. A bit later I was setup for the op for the night and all happy I left keyboard in pursuit of doing real life things. When I returned to the keyboard some minutes before the start of the op, the required ship type had changed from bs to hac/logistic. I didnt have such a ship there. There was an ishtar for sale in system so I bought it and quickly fitted it with what was available. Not quick enough though. By the time I was ready, the fleet had moved out.

I managed to catch up. By that time the fleet had killed a Machariel and was in good shape. 50+ hacs/logistics. I must admit that I had trouble following the fleet. Partially due to my 8 month absence - wheeeeere is that fleet button again? -, and partially due to the different way of fcing. In my former alliance, fcs usually called next system, asked for immediate align and then fleet warped. Well, maybe I remember that wrong, and it was only like that for rr bs gangs. Anyway, in this op the fleet moved at best speed/burned but I did not realise that at first. I didnt understand the english word dash(-) too - I interpreted it as a sequence of letters - and stuff like that. I mean.. I was drinking but at that time, I wasnt drunk. Was I? Not sure what happened there but I fell behind. I forgot to rename the Ishtar too. When one of our scouts picked me up on his scanner he was like "Hale Sunblade - you might want to rename your ship." and my avatar blushed in his capsule. When I fell behind 8 jumps and home was 7 jumps away, I started flying back, convinced my Ishtar would end up as a silly ship loss with which I would lose my little credibility of being at least a promising noob. Later I figured out the entire region is quite empty and it seems daily business to burn through it on your own, keeping your eye on intel channel and ears on vent. It is, is it?

Speaking of which, I was still on vent. The fleet had found a huge capital fleet - including an Avatar and an Erebus - of Razor Alliance and co, which was finishing up a pos attack in KLY-C0. Our fleet, mainly our fc, was so eager to attack they were going to take on the entire capital fleet. "Point the Avatar!" "Yeah!" I think it was at this moment I realised that I had chosen the right corp. I wasnt with people who would only engage when they outnumbered the enemy 3 to 1, but on the contrary. They wanted to try things not done before. Or even better, just have fun. I thought "To hell with my noob credibility" and started burning to the system they were in. By then I was 11 jumps out though. I figured it would be way too far. Meanwhile, the enemy cap fleet jumped out in KLY, leaving only a Moros in system which our scout was about to tackle, while our fleet was burning towards it. By that time, the enemy conventional fleet started to jump into KLY (again?). Our fleet was quickly engaged with some conventional ships, and when I heard the scout say local was spiking to 300, I knew the fight was not going to end in our favor. I think everyone knew. Also, its not like we had a bad fc, lacking eve experience or communication skills or something. We had an fc going crazy, seeing targets on his overview for the first time in a month due to work, as he said himself later. He probably should have decided to retreat, but Im sure everyone there experienced a near-Chuck Norris moment. Anyway, I was too late. When I was only a few systems out, our first pods were passing me at the gate in the opposite direction. Before I could jump into the system, the comments on vent made clear the fight was over. I started burning home to 4C, feeling a bit bad that I had not died and had not become a proper dead terrorist.

Back in station I was thinking about my former CEO, Red Caliente, and my conversation with him about not rejoining the old corp but going to look for a pvp corp. He was friendly at the time, but I think he must have been quite annoyed with me. I guess his main argument was that I could learn a lot of pvp on their alliance CTAs with the Exodus Project and I didnt need to look for another corp. I wanted to do roams though, go on the offensive and all, not just pvp when i have to and rat or do anomalies most of the time. There were some other issues as well, like the German on vent. But his point being "You are not experienced." struck me now. I hadnt even been able to follow my own fleet!
I overthought what went wrong. I found different ways to locate my fleet members, using the map or the fleet menu. Not difficult at all. Moreover, as it would turn out, I would need nor the map nor the fleet menu on the next ops. I just started to keep up, and did not fall behind again.
While I was pondering, there was a new fleet forming. Shield tanked bcs. My ships really needed to get to 4C! For now, I had to skip this one.

Later that night, some people were going to break a gate camp. It was free form more or less, but nothing too big, and I joined in with the Ishtar. Again, I had to change fittings quickly, from long range to gatecamp. This op was fun. We killed some ships too. Like 6 ships total. I had no problems following fleet this time but made some other mistakes. When a drake jumped in, I released ogre iis instead of hammer iis, and the drake was dead before the drones reached the battlecruiser, so now I am on the killmail - my only killmail with dt so far - as a tackler with my ishtar. Please do not tell my recruitment officer. When an enemy Cormorant appeared on gate 85 kms away and I locked him, I put my hammer iis on him, instead of just dropping the wardens and damaging him right away. Stuff like that. At least I am learning.

The next day, I was idling in station doing other stuff on the pc. There was some POV guy playing station games in 4C. Three characters. One a cloaker, the other an armageddon and a thanatos. He aggroed and killed a dead terrorist, and some people undocked on the spot since he wouldnt be able to dock right away. On the "UNDOCK" command in channel I undocked my Ishtar - my mega wasnt fitted at the time - and I put my ogre iis on the battleship. I realised that I just did something the alliance forum advised against. I could pop fast when the battleship and the carrier would focus fire on me. I could not redock straight away though since I had aggroed. The 50k ehp should have given me at least some time to react, so I moved out of warp disruptor range and aligned to a belt. The griever wasnt aggroing though. 5 dead terrorists including myself were firing at the bs, but the carrier was repping it, and we would not be able to kill the carrier either in time. He got his kill and he was just sitting the timer out until he could dock again, which he did. Next time I have to make sure I am at least in a battleship for this shit. And make sure there is an alliance op first on vent.

Later, at the beginning of the evening, I joined another "break the gate camp" op, this time aimed at a 15 man enemy russian fleet. I had to assemble a cheap ship in few minutes, but this time I managed to be ready in time. A dps harbinger. It had to be a cheap fit since the fc, stonerbeattie, was pretty drunk. We didnt get any kills. The thing most mentionable is probably that I felt comfortable during the entire op. I was ready to be primaried with my harbinger as most of the other bcs were drakes, and I think I had a good idea of what was expected of me - get in range and fire! Or maybe the dynamics between stonerbeattie and Freyr were the most mentionable. Still, they worked together quite well, so kudos to them both.

Unfortunately I could not join the empire op in the evening due to real life constraints, so I did not even appear on the kills involved there.

I honestly doubt I will get 20 kills in time if it keeps going like this. I will just sit those 2 weeks out and see what happens. Fingers crossed on my ships arriving in 4C before my grace period expires!
But to summarize, these little adventures have been fun so far.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Sociability V

CrazyKinux has issued a challenge to EVE’s bloggers with the following question this month:
What could CCP Games do to attract and maintain a higher percentage of women to the game. Will Incarna do the trick? Can anything else be done in the mean time? Can we the players do our part to share the game we love with our counterparts, with our sisters or daughters, with the Ladies in our lives? What could be added to the game to make it more attractive to them? Should anything be changed? Is the game at fault, or its player base to blame?

About 10 years ago, I was playing Diablo II and I invited my girlfriend back then to the game. She loved it. We made it to hell difficulty together in the end. Not only in real life but in Diablo too. Along the way, she made some questionable decisions.
I had given her Tal Rashas Mask completing her set a while ago. Suddenly I noticed that her sorceress was wearing a crown now.
"What hat are you wearing?"
She showed me her golden crown in town with crappier stats than the mask.
"Why are you using this? Where is the mask!?"
"I sold it. It looked so ugly. This is a lot better."

A few years later, I started playing a strategical sf browsergame. We recruited my new girlfriend into the team. I did most of the planning for the team and managed her account with her. During war, she helped getting the people online, did her own attacks and she turned out to be a really good recruiter. The other team members respected her and thought of her as a good player.
The round ended. Our team won the server and most of us moved on.
A while later, we broke up.
Months later, one of my former team members started complaining to me on msn. I had no idea what he was talking about. Apparently, he was playing on another server now. He had also drafted my ex into his team again, without my knowledge. He was not at all pleased with her performance. I talked to her about it. She knew the game quite well by now but she was not enjoying it anymore. Soon after she quit. My friend was even more disgruntled.

I didnt play any (video)games with my last long term girlfriend. She did watch some Eve sessions in the back though. Her reaction the first time - I was grinding a level 4 - was something like "Oh my god, its Star Trek Online! You nerd! How can you spend time on something like that?"
But the second time she witnessed a fleet op. We were looking for targets and started comparing what we were doing with chasing girls. Everyone on voice com was sociable that day. She was impressed with the humor and enjoyed it a lot. She learned a lot about Eve too. From then on, she understood what primaries and secondaries were, the importance of a good fitting, what gatecamps were, she learned the basics of jamming and last but not least the usefulness of warp core stabs of which a girl should always fit plenty. That I was flying a Phobos with the designated role of making sure none of them could escape the battlefield made it even more hilarious.

All these girls are intelligent. The first one is a high school teacher now, the second a master in psychology working for a big human resources company carving quite the career for herself and the third one is still a jurist as far as I know.

All of these girls are "girly girls". One of my best friends is quite the opposite. She is a Java software engineer. She used to like Starcraft a lot, loves to play risk and catan and has quite the abstract thinking and strategical mind. She might like Eve when she would get to know it. I asked her once to try it, but she said she didnt have the time. Anyway, she would probably fit into the female 5% of the current Eve population. This type of girl plays Eve for the exact same reasons us guys do, and differentiating between them based on gender is pointless.
To alter the girl to boy ratio, I think Eve needs to attract more of the girly kind.
In itself, this is inherently impossible. Girly girls do not care about internet spaceships by definition.

Sure, some confused ones might register when you aim your marketing at media that reach more women.
And some additional modules might make them stick to the game a bit longer. The Diablo Mask debacle suggests that a visual appearance customization module of your ships, avatar and everything else might be a good idea and the human resources girl would definitely like a recruitment module(maybe not anymore now it is her job..). This module could be built into the new Evegate and enable recruiters to check things like reaction time or sociability or consult more detailed character history, might make intelligent use of certificates or the Eve Api, and even provide functionality to screen the applicants on killboards.
However, from a business point of view, these investments in marketing/new modules for the sake of getting more girls would be ridiculous. The basic principle of marketing and product design is to aim your product at your public. And CCP would be doing quite the opposite with this.

The only real reason I can think of why these girls would stick to Eve is because of us anyway. I started this article with 3 examples. All of them described situations of a girl playing, and enjoying, a game because she was playing/being with her boyfriend.If it was up to me, I wouldnt try to attract girls to Eve, but it really is highly unpleasant to lose Eve friends to them. When I was in Buenos Aires, I was couchsurfing with a couple. They were both gamers. The guy had played Eve for more than a year, but they had both switched to WoW. As a loyal Eve player I gave him the "Man, you're too smart for that game."-rant, but he preferred playing a game with his girlfriend 10 times over playing a game about which she would complain/be annoyed about him playing it all the time.

Whether you want your girly girlfriend at your side in battle is another matter entirely. I for one would have enjoyed it in the end with my last girlfriend, but I am also sure that it might have been mining instead of combat ops, or that she would have failed to align in the first fleet ops, making her die a tragic death alone or a romantic death together, depending on the commanding FC. But she would have learned. And she had character enough too. She would never have been a pink spaceship princess.

I sincerely think the responsibility for attracting more girls to Eve lies with the players and not with CCP. If the only thing that is done on voice com is calling primaries and secondaries, except for a russian dude calling "structura" as insane and loud as he can, and people getting all cocky once they hear the voice of a girl, she is not going to give it a second try. But if all are sociable, she might as well like it as much or more as going for a drink. She probably wont become the zealous player you are, and only play with you from time to time. But you will be able to play the game AND have a girlfriend. And at least she will understand when you really need to join a pos defense op or something on a friday night. She will think of it as helping out a friend instead of thinking "Oh my god, it is the nerds again."

Some other blogs in the banter:
Life In Low Sec
I am Keith Neilson
Alva Dyson
La vie d'une capsuliere
Where the Frack is my Ship