Angel in space

No, not those Angels

Audra Li has a great blog (shout out to another drone pilot!) about her adventures in EVE. It’s always interesting to read about what others are up to in New Eden. Sounds like she had a fair bit of fun in Providence, which was what I was originally aiming to do (eventually… seriously, I’ll get off my ass some time… soon). But I’m not so sure what Providence is like now with CVA being driven out, do they still have the Not Red Don’t Shoot policy?

She’s currently based in Amarr space too, so I might just bump into her one of these days. Not too many Dominix battleships chugging along around there from what I’ve seen.

On the missioning front, I’ve finally trained Sentry Drone Interfacing up to level 3 and I’ve been packing 5 Bouncer I’s with my Dominix. It’s pretty fun and gives me the long range sniping ability that I always wanted. On the other hand, while I knew that Sentry Drones were immobile, it hadn’t really struck me that they were… really immobile. As in, they can’t move. At all. This means that I can’t move my Dominix either, or risk leaving them behind and having to slowly trundle back to pick them up. For some reason I had expected to be able to recall them from range and redeploy them, but no such luck.

Even so, they’re pretty powerful and really cut down on mission times. They easily smush frigate sized targets in 1 salvo and my Dominix tanks well enough to just sit there and absorb everything anyway. In fact, in one mission the sentries pretty much turned it into a shooting gallery.

I had to zoom way out to take this screenshot, but basically my Dominix warped in and never moved. You can see the spread of wrecks in this mission, Gone Berserk, where the enemy ships basically died at their spawn points instantaneously more than 50km away. It was made easier by the fact that there are numerous waves spawned by specific kills, so the drones didn’t get overwhelmed with everything at once. Pretty funny. Although slowly chugging around salvaging and looting after that wasn’t that interesting, but at least the wrecks were all grouped together this way.

My wife asked if I could tractor beam the sentry drones around… Actually come to think of it… can I?

PI Note to self

I’m a lazy bugger, so just want to save this somewhere for my own easy access. Originally from Letrange’s research on whether a single character can get all planetary resources.

Temperate: Autotrophs, Complex Organisms, Micro Organisms.
Lava: Felsic Magma, Non-CS Crystals, Suspended Plasma.
Gas: Reactive Gases, Ionic Solutions, Noble Gasses.
Ice: Planctic Colonies, Aqueous Liquids, Heavy Metals.
Barren: Noble Metals, Base Metals, Carbon Compounds.

So with 5 planets you can get all types of resources.

Tyrannis Noob Impressions

So the Tyrannis expansion has hit us after a very extended downtime. I wasn’t really expecting it to launch when it did so it was pure good fortune that I had a 4 day skill queued up. Need to keep a better eye on this in the future or I might lose out on some skill training time.

The big selling point of Tyrannis is actually planetary interaction (PI), where players can now actually use planets for something other than pretty screenshots. Although they are very pretty… ooh shiny…

Letrange has been putting up a great series of articles on PI and what it could possibly mean to industrialists. I’m not anywhere near his league yet, having only 1 BPO to my name and still doing Time Efficiency research on it, so I’m quite clueless when it comes to knowing what effect PI will have on the market. Based on past experiences of WoW expansions though, I agree fully with him that there will be an initial rush, which will quickly fade away. I don’t see PI as being a great moneymaker, probably will not even exceed mining as an income source. The upside is that it is passive, since you can place your extractors and just leave them and collect your goods some point in the future. Tech 2 Duct Tape has a video tutorial up by EVE Uni on how to get into PI, I have to say that even CCP’s newest expansion still has a learning curve that’s steeper than anything in WoW. Although they supposedly added a tutorial agent for PI, will have to check that out.

I’ll probably be looking at least a little bit into PI. I’ve already picked up the 2 skills for Planetary Management for 550k each. As long as the resources can sell for more than the cost of the infrastructure, then it’s free ISK. Letrange is probably right that the big money will be in the products far down the end of the industrial chain, such as control towers and POS modules. The lower end will be swamped by people who think that resources are free because they extracted them (rolleyes) which will drive margins down to near zero or even below cost.

Unfortunately, the new skills have as their prime attribute…. charisma. Great. So I finally picked up the 4.5 million ISK tier 2 charisma learning skill, Empathy. I plan to train this to maybe level 3, so that it will at least help me in other social skills such as Negotiation and Connections. Getting a charisma implant however is probably a waste of ISK.

So, all set to try out PI, I look around at some planets in the system I happen to be in and check out the planet interface. Mmmm. Heat vision…. (makes Predator noises…) Here I run into a brick wall. I need a command center to place on the planet before I can start putting extractors. But… I can’t find any command centers on the market. At all. Limited, Basic, Standard, Improved, Advanced, Elite, any flavor of planet, nope, nada, nothing. In the entire region. So, unless I’ve missed something, I need to wait for them to be seeded in the market? Oh well.

On the bright side, my Dominix now has visible thruster flames! Woot! Now I can finally tell which way I’m going!

To WoW or not to WoW

On the WoW front, my hacked account has been er… desuspended? Unsuspended? I found that the hacker had paid for a month’s subscription, until June 20. He also added an authenticator to my account. Wow. I guess the gold I had was probably worth more than his costs, but still it seems quite extravagant for a hacker to go to all this expense, which cuts down on his margins. This also means I got the Core Hound Pup pet in my mailbox as well as some new penguin pet. At least the Core Hound is quite cute… As expected all my characters are naked and have only a few silver to their name. Only PVP gear is left, presumably because they couldn’t be sharded. That reminds me, I didn’t check my professions to see if the hacker dropped something for enchanting.

So, now I have to decide if I want to bother making use of the 3 weeks of free WoW that I have. At first I was thinking of playing a Tauren DK to see the Horde side of TBC onwards, since I had never had a Horde character over 60. However, I have no character slots left on Dragonblight and so would have to roll on another server where I don’t have any gold. Well I don’t have any gold now either but I expect a GM to restore at least some of my stuff back to me… Secondly, it would seem like a better use of the time to check out the new instances added in ICC and ToC. Except that without any gear, it would be pretty rude of me to queue up for these instances. Hmm.

The more I think of it, the more pointless it seems even though it’s free. I’m definitely not going to continue playing after June 20, which makes any progress I make in levelling a DK very pointless especially as he will not even be on the same server as my other characters. Playing EVE sounds more enjoyable and ultimately has longer term progress. Hmm… Guess the option is there to fire it up if I don’t feel like playing EVE that night for some reason.

3% from death

Despite EVE being renowned for the possibility of flaming death around every corner, I’ve actually had very few ship losses so far. I lost a Cormorant during a Sisters of EVE epic arc mission where I got scrambled by some rogue drones, and I think I lost another Cormorant somewhere along the way due to stupidity and not warping out.

Last night however, I almost lost my nice shiny Myrmidon battlecruiser to the most powerful enemy in EVE: kid aggro (beats wife aggro by a mile…)

I had accepted a mission to recover some artifact from a bunch of miners and started warping off to the mission location. We’d already bathed our son and put him to sleep, so I thought I had some time to do a few missions. Suddenly my wife alerted me that she thought she had heard him making some crying noises in his cot.

She was busy doing something so I was off like a shot to see what was wrong with him (he starts at level 1 with the Summon Daddy and Summon Mommy skill at 100). He hasn’t been sleeping well the past couple of days, and I had to spend a few minutes patting him and singing to him to calm him down. I guess hearing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star droning on and on 20 times repeatedly does have a soporific effect.

When I returned back to my computer, my thoughts went roughly like this:

“Hmm I seem to be under attack. Guess there wasn’t an acceleration gate. Hey they actually managed to take out a lot of my shields.”

“Wait, they took out all my shields. And isn’t that my armor bar that’s totally gone as well?”

“HOLY CRAP I’M AT 30% STRUCTURE AND THE OVERVIEW HAS 15 FRIGATES AND 10 CRUISERS NOOOOOOO”

I instantly turned on my Damage Control II and Armor Explosive Hardener modules and both Medium Armor Repairer IIs, and tried to warp to the first object on the drop down list. In hindsight I should have tried to warp to something that was in front of me, but it wasn’t too bad as I was stationary and thus able to align fairly quickly.

However, it would take some time for my armor repairers to finish their cycle and the next salvo halved my remaining structure. I was moaning at the imminent loss of my Myrmidon, made even more ignoble by the fact that the enemy ships were all called “Miner”. I mean, losing a ship to “Corpii Deathdealer of Awesomeness” is at least a bit easier on the ego than basically being treated like a big floating asteroid by a bunch of roidraging miners. My structure was down to 3% at this point, flames were spewing everywhere from my poor Myrmidon and I was expecting the blue flash of failure at any moment. Suddenly my armor shot up to 10%, just before the next wave of missiles hit. Holy crap my armor repairers finished their cycle!

When I finally initiated warp my dual repairers had clawed back about 30% armor and I arrived at the stargate which I had warped to with all my modules having taken about 20% damage. After repairing all my armor, I docked up to check how much it would cost to repair the structure, only to be presented with a 2 million ISK repair bill. Eep. Not going to pay that, so it was off to Amarr to paw through my stockpile of modules and fit a bunch of hull repairers. While idling outside the station slowly putting out all the fires on my Myrmidon I was entertained by a bunch of people who were apparently having some corp war station camping another corp (or person?). I saw 3 Megathron battleships get blown up in the exact same way (undock, webbed, presumably scrambled, 20 lasers blasting into his hull, boom). Not sure if it was the same unlucky (or dumb) pilot each time.

Once I finished repairing I was able to go back and finish the mission without any issues. And all those Miners dropped me plenty of Miner I modules…

That’s a really slow hacker…

Interestingly, I received a couple of emails from Blizzard this morning in my inbox. The first notified me that my WoW password had been changed. This was followed very quickly by another email saying that my account had been suspended for 72 hours for “exploiting the economy”.

I’m really curious how the hacker managed to get my password when I haven’t even attempted to log in to anything WoW related for about a year. My wife is running a spyware plus antivirus scan on my home PC right now, so we’ll have to see if anything comes up. I followed the tips on account retrieval that were linked in Blizzard’s email, and reset my password successfully.

Unfortunately I can’t actually check the status of my account (i.e. do I get a free month paid by the hacker?) because Blizzard very cleverly prevents you from accessing the account management page when your account is banned or suspended. I suspect this is to prevent people from rage-subscription-cancelling once their accounts get suspended for whatever reason.

So now I’ve sent an email to their customer support explaining the situation and asking for further advice on recovering the account. I don’t have any plans to return to WoW anytime soon, not even for Cataclysm, but I would still like to undo any damage to my characters if possible. A friend said I should have sold my account, but I never liked the idea of selling game accounts for money. Firstly, it’s illegal, and secondly, I like to keep my characters even if I’m not playing them. There are still many fond memories and time invested in them, and I don’t think a couple of hundred bucks or whatever is worth it.

With luck, I can get my account recovered as well as get some free game time. I’m not averse to roaming around WoW a bit while I’m training a long skill in EVE, especially if the WoW-time is free. Hmm… but I better change some of my passwords to other applications, just in case.

What I like about EVE

Spaceships pew pew

I’ve always liked sci-fi, and spaceship games. I loved Star Control I and II, as well as Master of Orion I and II. Having played WoW, and given other fantasy MMOs (such as Guild Wars, Runes of Magic, Dragonica and Florensia) a spin I like how EVE is a totally different world, with different roles from the usual warrior/mage/healer kind of thing.

I’m also a big fan of the Battletech universe, or at least up until the rights were bought over by Wizkids and they released the atrocity of Mechwarrior Dark Age in order to reboot the universe, in the process completely throwing away more than a decade of storyline. I loved the Mechwarrior series of games, ranging from the first Mechwarrior 1 which I played on my IBM 386 (with 5 1/4″ floppies) to the recent (omg 10 years ago) Mechwarrior 4 Mercenaries by Microsoft. Incidentally, Microsoft and Mektek have recently released MW4 Mercs for free, which is pretty nice of them. Part of what I liked about it was the customization of the Mechs in the Mechlab, which allowed players to tailor their favourite chassis for different roles. The same thing is available in EVE with their modular ship system. You can experiment and fit out each ship in different ways, and a good fit has a huge impact on gameplay.

Altoholics and Packrats

Being an altoholic who always has multiple classes to try out different roles, EVE’s classless system is also good because it lets me experience many different aspects of the game without having to create an alt. I just need to train up some skills and I can pop into a long range sniping battleship or switch to a missile based Drake, or a small speedy Rifter.

I’m also a pretty compulsive packrat, so much so that my wife has to periodically clean up my bank alts in WoW otherwise I run out of storage space from collecting stuff “just in case it comes in useful”. EVE has no storage limit, at least in stations, and I find myself collecting a huge hoard of stuff in Jita and picking up lots of modules and salvage in all my missions. It’s always fun to find a nice piece of loot and see that it sells for 20 million ISK. Of course I don’t actually sell it, but chuck it into my hangar “for future use”. I can also foresee myself eventually collecting one of each ship type, just for kicks. Well maybe not a Titan… but at least all T1 ships! Except mining ships, cos those suck.

EVE Offline

This is, to me, one of EVE’s greatest strengths. If not for EVE’s skill system, I would probably not be playing. I like the fact that I don’t have to compulsively log on in order to achieve anything, which is the norm for most subscription games. For example, if I was still playing WoW, my character wouldn’t be able to do anything except a couple of random heroics in the hour plus that I have every night. That would get really boring very quickly. I wouldn’t be able to raid or do anything interesting. And if I don’t log on, my character does absolutely nothing, which makes me feel that I’m wasting my subscription. In EVE I can pop on and do a few missions, or try to scan down some sites, or even try to get some PVP in. And all the time my character is slowly skilling up so that eventually I can try even more things.

A lot of people cite this as “promoting people to play EVE Offline”. This is, frankly, a total load of crap. I don’t understand how not penalising not logging on is the same as promoting not logging on. I mean, it’s not like my skills train faster when I’m offline. I don’t get ISK faster, I don’t get any standings, I don’t have any fun. Why is it better to not log in? A commenter at Tobold’s site gave some half-assed argument that his skill trained per play time ratio is higher if he doesn’t play. Well dur, yes if I created a level 1 in WoW and never logged him on ever again my exp/playtime ratio would be 1/0 = infinity = I’m the greatest WoW player ever? There’s something seriously wrong with you if the only reason you play a game is to have the highest progress/playtime. I mean, it’s not a competition. If the game is so undesirable that you’d rather not play it, then you should unsubscribe?

PLEX

This is another factor without which I would probably not be playing EVE. I don’t mean selling PLEX for ISK, I mean buying it. I like the fact that EVE’s economic game is pretty deep, and if you do well at it you can buy a PLEX for roughly 300 million ISK, which gives you a month of gametime. This gives me additional incentive to play the economic game, in comparison to WoW where after a while the 100k gold just sits there doing nothing and becomes pretty meaningless (but buying a mammoth or a chopper is still pretty dumb). If I had to pay a subscription to EVE I probably wouldn’t be able to justify it with my playtime, but since I can earn pretty much a billion every month I’m pretty set for PLEXs, with some left over to buy shiny toys too. This also ties in to how EVE complements relatively good players with casual playtimes, since there’s no pressure in terms of the subscription. I can take my time to accomplish my own goals without feeling that I’m wasting money.

Great graphics and music

EVE also has really great graphics that run so well even on crappy computers, since it’s basically your ship on a pretty space backdrop. But the stars and planets are really gorgeous, and this is coming from someone who normally doesn’t give a rat’s ass whether a boss is a giant white cube called Captain Placeholder. The music in EVE is also fantastic, in a new age techno kind of way that fits in with the EVE universe very well. Very few games have music that I would be willing to listen to outside of the game (although the Orgrimmar drumbeats are pretty catchy too… dun, dun dun dun!) and the relaxing instrumental tunes go so well with the ambience and solitude of deep space, where it’s just you and your ship in the big wide universe. While combat normally occurs at long distances, if you zoom in to the individual target ships you can also see the great detail that goes into the ship models, which each have their own distinct visual styles and designs. Even the rogue drone NPCs look sinister and creepy, with prawn legs clicking and waving all over the place.

Steep learning curve

I like the fact that EVE is renowned for having a steep learning curve, because this means that my actions have consequences. If I play poorly or ignorantly, I can easily lose a expensive ship or valuable cargo. This is in contrast to the general trend in other games of making everything mass market. WoW’s raiding scene in TBC was a good example of this, where you had to be a relatively good and knowledgeable player in order to progress through SSC and TK, Hyjal and Black Temple. Nowadays, WoW heroics and raids consist of just grouping everything up and AOEing them and free gear is given to every spellpower hunter and tri-elemental mage so that they feel good about themselves. I believe that you need to have failure as well as success in order to learn, rather than spoon feeding a bunch of meaningless “successes” to the players to keep them happy.

Market madness

As plenty of people have already observed, Jita 4-4 is a wretched hive of scum and villainy. Yet it’s pretty amusing sometimes to see what goes on in the biggest trading hub in the EVE universe. You can see lots of things that really make me go like this…

That is, if I were playing Star Trek: Online instead of EVE. Ahem.

One thing that I see pretty often is complete fail buy/sell orders. By this I mean orders that don’t make any sense whatsoever. One example is the market for Iteron IIIs. There are a couple of people there that are selling Iteron IIIs for 600 million ISK, when the going price is about 800,000. I mean, I can imagine someone trying to pull the old WoW Auctioneer trick of manipulating the average, but in EVE you get charged a broker fee based on the total value of the order, and this fee cannot be totally removed even with max skills. At the default 1%, this makes it 3 million ISK just to put up that order, which will never ever be filled because there’s a heck of a lot of zeros in 600 million.

Another kind of complete fail would be people who seem to forget whether they are buying or selling. At least, that’s the only explanation I can come up with when I see orders such as the one in the screenshot below.

Note the buy order set up with a price that’s 0.01 ISK lower than the dominant sell order. I mean, wow, either this guy REALLY wanted to save that 0.01 ISK per implant, or he put up a buy order when he was intending to put up a sell order. Which is quite hard to do, given that you go through a completely different process for each (click “Place buy order” vs right-clicking on item and selecting “Sell this item”). One possibility is that he started making a buy order, got distracted by “ooo pizza is here” and came back and thought he was putting up a sell order. In either case, he made me very happy. His order was originally for 12 implants, I had 6 up for sale near that price so I just modified my order to match his and -CHACHING- instant sale for me.

There’s also been some pretty weird pricing strategies that certain people like to use. There’s a certain trader who likes to trade in some of the same items that I do. Initially I thought that he was just undercutting/overbidding by random amounts, compared to the more common 0.01/1/1000/nice round number folks. One day, however, it struck me in a flash.

This guy, known as Mr 1111 among me and my wife, likes to beat other orders by 111111.11 or some such. He always puts up orders for 10 items, and adds a 1 to every digit of the dominant order. Sometimes he doesn’t add to every digit, e.g. he only starts from the 3rd or 4th instead of the 1st. So if your buy order is 6,524,921.13 ISK, he will change his order to be 6,635,032.24 ISK.

Now this is pretty painstaking effort, especially when you have to do it for every single buy/sell order for many items. Granted it’s not exactly hard arithmetic, but it’s a hell of a lot harder than just changing the last digit. At first I thought he might be using a bot and didn’t want to look too obvious, but then I noticed that sometimes he made math errors >.<

Now, he has to somehow believe that he's at an advantage by doing this. There are only 2 possible advantages to undercutting/overbidding by more than 0.01 ISK.

First, they think it prevents other people from undercutting/overbidding your own order. I've previously mentioned how misguided this is, since obviously if a profit of X amount is acceptable to them it's likely that someone else out there will happily take X-0.01. This is going to hold true until the margins are so small that it's not worth the 100 ISK to modify the order. In any case, attempting to prevent people from undercutting is like attempting to stop aging by not breathing. Mr 1111 should know, since I and many others happily undercut him instantly whenever we happen to check our orders. You'd think he'd realise this by now, but nope he still happily continues 11111ing. "It works, I swear!"

The second part is that people often think that better price = larger volume. Often they cite Walmart's success. However, they don't quite seem to get that it doesn't work that way for everything. Consider a skillbook selling at 7,500,000 ISK. Now someone sets a sell order for 7,450,000 ISK. For this order to sell better than the original 7,500,000 ISK, that must mean that someone out there, who is looking for this skill book, will see the original price and go "Hmm I've been training up to get this skill for about 6 months, but I'm not going to buy it for 7.5M ISK. If it was 7.45M, I'd buy it like a shot. As it is, I'll go train Diplomacy V instead!" Yeah, I don't think so. Especially not for something like a skillbook, which is pretty much a one-time purchase. A good price isn't going to entice me to buy Large Autocannon Specialization if I have no intention to use battleship-class T2 autocannons.

Sadly, now I’m seeing a few other people try to use his 1111 strategy. Proof that idiocy is contagious.

There are also the people who put absolutely HUMONGOUS orders. Like for 200 of an item that has a daily region-wide volume of 50. This would be ok if they intend to just leave the order for a couple of weeks, but nope. These people check their order like once every hour. Here’s a tip: if you’re going to be checking your order all the time, you can make do with a smaller one. That way, you retain some flexibility in case the market changes drastically, without being tied to the broker fee for that humongous order. A gigantic order also tells everyone in the market “Hey guys, you better undercut me if you want your own orders to be filled anytime before Christmas”.