Shooting myself in the foot

Doh. Sometimes you do things that really make you wonder if you forgot to turn on the brain in the morning.

Well at least I hope it’s not just me.

I just got podded for the first time since playing EVE. Lost a full set of +4 implants, plus another set of missile skill hardwiring implants that I put in for missioning a while back that cost about 320 million ISK.

Did I get ganked by an evil army of ninja salvagers in my awesome Rattlesnake? Unfortunately it’s not as dramatic as that…

It all started due to my new hobby of ship collecting. I am currently building up a collection of all T1 combat ships, from frigates all the way up to battleships. I’ve already got a fair number of them, but I’ll elaborate more in a future post.

Anyway I was looking through the list of frigates when I remembered, “Hey, I’ve got a bunch of old Gallente ships back in Couster from doing the tutorials! Might as well haul them back to add to the collection instead of buying new hulls!” Plus I get to tidy up my assets tab, I’m a neat freak like that. Couster was 11 jumps away, which was why I had left them there instead of flying them with me way back when I moved over to Caldari space.

Each hull took about 2,500 m3 worth of space though, so I needed a big hauler. Fortunately as part of training up for my freighter, I had trained Gallente Industrial V so my Iteron V had a whopping 25,000 m3 cargohold with full cargo expanders (without cargohold rigs). Plenty of space… Hopped in, fitted 3 medium shield extenders, an invulnerability field and a medium shield booster just because they happened to be lying around.

And then I made the fateful mistake of all newbie pilots… autopilot. I figured I’d be pretty safe anyway since most pilots would scan their targets before suicide ganking, amirite??? I mean why gank an empty industrial just for kicks… plus I had some sort of tank right? So off I go, slowly trucking along, while I went downstairs for some breakfast and to play with my kid.

Came back and found myself in a station… looking at an Ibis. “Hmm, that’s weird, could have sworn I didn’t dock….” Then saw that I was in Jita…. wtf. Sinking feeling… damn I was podded!

At first I couldn’t believe that anybody would have bothered suicide ganking an empty Iteron V… until I remembered a tiny little detail. Like joining the Caldari Militia. Which made me enemies to the Gallente, and attackable by the Gallente Navy in Gallente high-security space…. such as Couster.

Geez. Those frenchies must have wondered wtf this Caldari noob was smoking, jumping into their turf in a little Iteron V and idling at the jump gate. NPCs don’t pod players though, so some Gallente pilot must have come across my pod spinning in space and gleefully crushed it. Blaaaaaargh.

So, just to pick up a bunch of ships worth less than 1 million in total, I jumped 11 systems to get my Iteron V destroyed (worth more than all the other ships combined), then lost half-a-billion ISK worth of implants. Sigh yai yai. I’ve replaced the +4 implants, but will probably wait until I’m really going missioning before replacing the skill hardwiring implants. In case I pull another dumb one…

Finally over with

And finally my Ph.D applications are over with. My god, such a completely soul-draining experience. Applied to 7 schools this round, which will be my last. If I am unable to get into a decent program with financial aid, then I’ll have to start looking for a job again. In a sense it’s actually quite a relief too because then I’ll be able to put this idea of getting a Ph.D out of my mind forever and get on with my life.

Pwned by Application Turtle

At least I can now relax over the holidays (going on week long trip tomorrow) without having to worry about this crap.

Charging off to war

The past weekend I finally bit the bullet in EVE and dipped my toes into the kiddy pool of PvP. I quit my corp (after having to wait 24 hours to remove roles, doh) and joined up with the Caldari State in faction warfare. Whee, I’m now part of the Blob!

I was originally a bit hesitant to do so for fear of getting ganked while flying around in Caldari space. Only recently did I realise that this wasn’t very likely because any war targets would aggro the Caldari Navy the moment they jumped into Caldari high security space. While the Caldari Navy is probably only good at chasing donuts, the extra inconvenience means those dirty Gallente frenchies and Minmatar rebels need to keep moving and are unlikely to muster a large enough force to just sit around waiting to gank my Obelisk.

First up I had a lot of preparation to do. I already had my Iteron V filled with 8 Rabid Rifter packages ready to go in Jita. However, I’m not sure how much pod-death actually happens in low-sec during faction warfare, so I didn’t want to risk my +4 implants and costly missile implants which would be useless in a Rifter. So the plan was to pick up some other gunnery-related skill hardwiring implants and clone jump back to my old clone with +3s and use that as a PvP clone. I bought implants for 3% small projectile damage, 3% tracking, 3% capacitor recharge and afterburner speed boost. Only got cheaper ones since I wasn’t sure how long they would last, altogether the cost was less than 50 million ISK. After piloting the Iteron over to Sobaseki where my old clone was, took a while to actually do the clone jump due to all the session timers. “You can’t clone jump in your ship… oh you can’t leave your ship yet cos you just docked. Ok now you’re in your pod, but you have to wait a while before you can jump.” Finally it was done, and feeling slightly stupider with inferior implants I started the trip out to Nourvukaiken, 1 jump out from low-sec.

Of course that -1 to intelligence showed its effects pretty quickly since I forgot to start training again after pausing to make the clone jump, but fortunately I only lost 20 minutes of training time before noticing.

Finally, arrived at Nourvukaiken and parked myself at a friendly Caldari Navy Assembly station. Time to unload and assemble my first ever Rifter.

Looking good. My gunnery skills are pretty up to snuff now after that long period of training, with every skill at 4. The Incursion change to rockets would also prove handy since my Rifter packed a rocket launcher rather than a nos or neut. Time to boldly go forth and meet flaming death.

First time ever jumping into low-sec. My target system was Tama, which was on the list of most dangerous systems according to my faction warfare overview. I had no safe spots ready either…. but it turned out there was no one on the other side of the gate.

Checking d-scan I noted there were a buttload of POS towers up. And a small bunker up for grabs! I knew there was something about capturing bunkers or plexes, so I figured that was a good place for some action.

Warped in and saw lots of NPC frigates around, with a group of 3 around a capture point with a timer on it. No enemy pilots though. Decided to try out the Rifter in combat against the NPCs, wow it’s fast. Pretty high dps also and easily shredded them all. After waiting 5 minutes for the bunker to be captured, still hadn’t found any enemy pilots. There was a Dramiel on d-scan somewhere, but I wasn’t eager to try taking that on. Also a couple of industrials, but they seemed to be parked at a tower since it was unlikely that there would be someone just sitting around waiting to be shot. One of them was an Badger Mk II called Pinata, so could be bait as well.

I also realised that I’m really bad at using the d-scan to find anything. I saw another Rifter and tried to narrow it down, but the best I could do was decide that it was in the vicinity of Tama VIII. Unfortunately Tama VIII has 7 moons, and I never did manage to find that Rifter.

Finally I was running out of time, and decided to take a peek at another site, some abandoned Caldari outpost. This one had cruisers and destroyers in it, and was pretty tough. I was taking huge amounts of damage and only managed to kill 2 destroyers before having to warp out in half armor, ouch. I made my way back to Nourvukaiken and that was the end of my first ever PvP foray, ironically without any actual PvP.

Since I wouldn’t get that much time to play during the week, I clone jumped back to my +4 clone to maximise skill training. Time to learn a bit about using the d-scan and hopefully next time I’ll find someone to blow (me) up.

The lone cynic

There’s a ton of stuff I want to write about lately, but I find myself lacking the time to do it due to being busy either a) finishing up my PhD applications or b) procrastinating about finishing up my PhD applications by reading random stuff. Ok fine so maybe I just need to be better at time management or actually have some semblance of willpower.

One thing has struck me repeatedly though when reading through various WoW blogs recently. I hadn’t read them in a while, so there was a lot of catching up to do. And not surprisingly, the most talked about subject is of course the upcoming Cataclysm. I’ve read multiple posts lavishing praise on Blizzard for “being bold enough to radically alter a game this way” and they go on and on about how the new Azeroth is great and much better than how it used to be.

And I just picture myself standing in a room of excited people, going “Hello? Am I the only sane one here?”

First off, I am very excited about Cataclysm. Much more excited than I thought I’d be, so much so that I am actually very seriously contemplating resubbing to WoW (yeah yeah, together with the other 5 million ex-WoW players).

But come on, there is a reason why Azeroth was redesigned. THEY HAD TO DO IT. It is one giant bug-fix expansion. The expansion is not lore-driven; you can bet your mechanobikething that somewhere in Blizzard there was a meeting where some designers sat down and said “Ok we need to totally revamp the 1-60 content because it is totally broken and inconsistent with TBC and WoTLK, somebody come up with some plausible idea why Azeroth has to blow up and we’ll ask some guy in marketing to do the rest”.

They have said before that the reason why they couldn’t enable flying mounts, which were introduced in TBC and met with much joy and girlish squealing, to be used in the old world was simply that the old world was not designed that way and it would require a total revamp of the models and landscape. There were tons of weird stuff and hidden zones packed behind supposedly impassable mountains that would have been revealed to players. If you’ve ever coded any portion of a major project, you would probably have some inkling of the scope of change that would need to be done and the amount of error-testing, so it wasn’t something that they could just roll out after changing a few variables (like enableflying=true).

In addition to the flying, the entire questing design was 3 years out of date. There was a very jarring change whenever a character passed through the Dark Portal into Outlands at 58. You went from ridiculous quests that sent you all over the place for a completely useless reward (like plate legs with spirit) to quest hubs with 10+ quests at a go that sent you on a nice circuit around the zone, with lead-in quests to go to the next quest hub and useful reputations along the way. And the quest rewards suddenly became amazing even though they looked like a hobo suit. Dungeons in the old world had also become a complete joke due to all the changes to talents, so much so that most people could solo or duo them at level.

So basically, the expansion should rightly be thought of as “81-85 and an update for long-requested features”. The Shattering is not some omg awesome and original idea. It is a side effect of the necessity to completely redo the 1-60 experience (hence why Outland and Northrend is left untouched, even though it makes no sense story-wise). Since they had to do it, they might as well make some cosmetic changes here and there and market it as part of an expansion. It’s a great patch, and one I fully support and am quite excited about. Without it, I wouldn’t even be contemplating resubbing at all since the main attraction is to level a new bunch of characters on possibly a PvP server. But I don’t really see any risk or originality from Blizzard here, it’s like praising Nvidia for updating a bunch of 3 year old graphics drivers to conform to current standards. Actually I think even Blizzard tacitly agrees… which is why the Shattering is not exclusive to Cataclysm subscribers. It’s a bug fix for all players, not a feature of Cataclysm.

Are people so easily convinced by hype and marketing? Or am I just a grumpy curmudgeon who always sees the practical (i.e. real) motivations behind the spin? I guess people are just happy that their favourite game is changing (for the better) and there’s new stuff to see and explore.

Feeling my age

Even after 1 year, I often look at my son and think “wow I can’t believe I’m a dad”. When I play basketball on weekends, I often find myself playing with teens and or young twenty-somethings. And amazingly I find that I get along with them better than I do the older crowd, who tend to come later at night and always talk about boring stuff like the economy or the stock market or cars. Most of them would probably be amazed to find out how old I am.

Well after today I’m officially 30.

Ok fine so maybe that’s not that old. But it’s still a sobering feeling that I’ve been muddling around for 30 years already. Geez. By the time my son is 30 I’ll be a 60 year old geezer. And here I am, still trying to go back to school for a Ph.D, still playing games. Sitting down with a roomful of adults still bores the heck out of me.

It’s funny how people always have such good impressions of stuff that happened “during their time”. Things were always better in the good old days. By the time our son is old enough to play games, he’ll probably look quizzically at the games I used to play and wonder how anyone could make out what all the pixelated crap is supposed to be. I intend to dig out my old SNES-clone and show him classics like Super Mario Bros and Balloon Fight too.

Boxy characters in a boxy world

Is that a bird or animal or robot or what

Even when I play basketball, I keep hearing kids nowadays talking about Kobe Bryant being the greatest player ever. And I’m like…. how can anyone who plays basketball not have heard of Michael Jordan? Then I realize that these kids were like… 6 years old when Jordan retired in 1998. I don’t even remember a single thing from when I was 6 years old. When you mention Michael Jordan the image in my mind is like this:

In reality this is what Jordan looks like now, and this will be how those kids remember Jordan:

Kinda sad that in a few short years the Greatest Of All Time could so easily be forgotten by young basketball fans. I post up and do a fadeaway jumper and they go “wow good Kobe move!” I have to restrain myself from telling them to go actually watch some real basketball and see how Kobe learnt everything he knows from Jordan.

Anyway I guess I’m officially middle-aged now, although the burgeoning white hairs on my head were already testament to that. Despite my earlier post about not coming back for Cataclysm, I’m still feeling tempted and might resubscribe after all, for a couple of months at least. I’ll see how it goes after I finish my Ph.D applications and after I come back from a planned trip to my in-laws.

On the EVE front, I’ve really been getting the itch to blow some stuff up. I was training Heavy Drone Operation V on Noork, when I realized that I was wasting skill points with the upcoming removal of learning skills. I had remapped my attributes to favour Perception and Intelligence after getting T2 medium drones, so I wasn’t getting Drone skill points at the maximum rate since they use Memory as the primary attribute. What I should have done was immediately switched to training some Perception/Intelligence skill. That way, I would get more skill points now and when the learning skill reimbursement comes in (about 1.3 million skillpoints) I could just dump it in Heavy Drone Operation V and finish it off immediately. Oh well, its not a big loss.

With Incursion out, I’ve bought the new ORE Industrial skill book and will train it up to try the Noctis, which looks pretty good. The prices for these are stupidly crazy now though and it’s not like I desperately need it, so I’ll just wait for the market to return to sanity. I like the fact that faction ships are on the market now, hopefully that will push the price down a bit with the better availability of information on historical prices so we won’t see crazy swings with limited volume.

Unfortunately, now that I feel like playing EVE I can’t seem to login to the EVE servers from this PC. The connection keeps timing out when trying to authenticate. CCP’s tech support is pretty helpful though and per their instructions I’ve just sent them back some DirectX diagnostics and a ping trace sample. Interestingly I’m experiencing 100% packet loss somewhere in Europe along the way to their servers, no idea why. Hopefully this will be resolved soon.