Monday, May 25, 2015

Settling In

It's been a while since my last post; no worries, I am still playing.

I have been getting back into the rhythm of wormhole life; logging in, checking the chain, verifying signatures, then seeing what trouble I can get myself into. I've managed to rebuild a collection of ships for almost any fleet we'll fly - save for a capital ship, which feels almost required, but is well out of my price range. I've also got my own POS set up again. That was, as always, tedious to an extreme but it feels good to have my own little bubble of space again. As I play I am also reminded again how pretty this game can be. Beyond the spreadsheets with their numbers and the cut and dried EFT fits, there are all sorts of things that just look cool.

My POS, orbiting a gas giant

System's sun. And no, this was before I put the guns on my tower.

I've gotten a little pew in, although not as much as I'd have liked; the last few nights I had free for flying spaceships also happened to be nights the corp wanted to run escalations, where I largely feel like a dead weight. Fortunately I have kept myself entertained, though, building ships and going out and hunting - in my first trip in a Flycatcher I caught a Prospect in a gas sight along with the 670 million isk pod, and just last night I combat scanned out a Raven with my Proteus, tackled it, and held it for backup - always a good feeling.

My last tower module has finished onlining, so it's time to get outside and enjoy some sunlight. Until later, pilots! o7


Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Little Miracles

I resubscribed to Eve yesterday. Technically two days ago, as I am writing this at 1:00 AM, but regardless it has been a while. About 250-ish days, according to Eve. I activated two of my accounts, started the patcher, and renewed my API keys.

To my relief, I logged in to find I had been moved to my medical clone station in high sec - I had not been looking forward to scanning my way out of a C2/C5/null in a Rattlesnake. I checked my alt with my Orca, and sure enough it (and the Tengu and the HIC in the cargo) were parked in high sec as well. That was good, it was enough resources to work with and reestablish myself.

I had a good time chatting with the guys on Team Speak; it's always nice to know you haven't been forgotten, after all. While I was on hiatus, it seems that Sky Fighters have moved a couple of times; out of the old C2 into a C5, and then just recently into a new C5. As a second Eve miracle, as I was taking stock of what I had in my Orca and which assault frigates I still had where in high sec, Kynric asked if I might have left anything else behind in the hole. "Mmm... maybe a Stratios?" I distinctly remembered losing one shortly before I left, and I wasn't sure if I had replaced it or not. Sure enough though, in the pile of ships that had been left in a shared ship maintenance array and then drug out to high sec when Sky Fighters left the C2, was my Stratios:

I took it out for a joyride. I would have taken it into the new C5, but the only route was through a C13 frig-only hole (which was pretty cool to check out!), so I made do with ferrying in a few small ships into the POS.

I hadn't realized how much I had missed w-space. I cried just a little.

This is going to be fun.


Thursday, July 3, 2014

Quiet Days

Heyas. o/

I am still here, still playing, things have just been pretty quiet in Eve and going off the rails and exploding IRL, so my Eve time has been quite limited. (I am also going to be dropping one of my alt accounts - does anyone want to buy a tengu/onyx/falcon/cerb pilot? :D)  I feel bad that I haven't been on as much lately, like I am letting down the guys by not being there, although I know sorting out RL problems comes before game playing... I still hate not feeling dependable, though.  Character flaw I suppose.

Since I started playing Eve last fall, I'd heard people muttering about summer and the summer lull - I hadn't quite expected this, though.  Many of my friends and acquaintances and even Generally Cool People That I Like But Wouldn't Call a Friend have dropped out of the game or are taking vacations from w-space.  The first Eve Podcast I ran into, back in November 2013, was Down The Pipe and one of their frequent guests was Baby Dady, solo hunter.  Hearing about what he did was an inspiration; my corp had moved into a WH and I was losing all kinds of stuff, but it was cool to know that not every hunter out there had a full fleet of T3s, Logi, and bombers backing them up, and that when I was ready I could go out there and stalk things myself.  It was only a month or so later that I got my alt into a Buzzard and began hunting down the chains connected to our C2 to watch people in their POS, watch them moving haulers, watch people running sites, and try to gank them with my horribly skilled T1 battlecruisers I'd bring down the chain from home.

I haven't seen him online in a few months, though.

I suppose he comes to mind because I have just recently finished a long-term training goal of mine - Gallente Strategic Cruiser and the attendant subsystem skills all trained up, I just need to scrape up the isk to put a proteus in the void. <3  Since the SoE ships came out I have been using a cloaky Stratios for stalking, hunting, and scouting, and (at least on paper) my Stratios does more damage than a proteus - the proteus is going to have twice the EHP, though, be fairly close on damage, and it can fit combat probes when needed.

So. long rambling aside, I'm getting a new ship to play with and hopefully will have some stories to tell about it in the near future.  I have a free night tonight and I think when I get home from work, I am going to set off in a random direction down the wormhole chains and fly until I find something to shoot.


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Where it All Began

IRL, I love traveling. Sadly, I can't afford to travel as much as I'd like, but every couple of years I go somewhere. I've been to Philadelphia and Seattle, Miami and Minneapolis, Galveston and Houston and Salt Lake City, even all the way down to the Florida Keys and, one glorious summer, a week in St. Lucia.

One of the things that really appeals to me about W-space is that every day I find connections to somewhere new. The first time I visited Solitude was via wormhole. The first time I visited The Cougar Store in Bosena, it was because it was the closest market to where a wormhole chain dumped me out. I get to travel all across Eve, and still have all of my combat ships handy in case they are needed.

Last week, we had a low sec connection to Canard, and one of the guys in corp commented that it was only a couple of jumps from there to the Eve Gate.

So, of course, I had to go see it - especially when he started asking if we wanted to get a small frigate gang together to go check it out.

We jumped through the gate into New Eden and as grid loaded, my overview filled.  I twitched, ready to react to a gate camp... but, no, it was a field of cans.  Lots and lots of floating cans in space, messages from other players.  There was a variety - wishes to the departed, messages to other players, and a few scrawled 'I was here'.  There was one other person in system with us - a condor, a hundred or so km off, planting another container.

I spent a few moments taking it in and panned my camera around (I had automatically centered my view on the shuttle as I eyed it up) looking for the Eve Gate itself.

Living in wormholes, you get used to celestial objects; it's frequent to pass through a system and see a pulsar, red giant, or cataclysmic variable star. The graphical depiction of the Eve Gate itself was a little underwhelming, and Kynric mentioned on coms that it used to be "more aggressive".

Still, in game time, it had been... millenia since the gate went haywire, and yet, there it is, bright enough from three lightyears away to make the sun seem small.  Still open, still pouring out turbulence.  This tiny system, with a white dwarf and a barren planet, was where the story of Eve Online and New Eden started.

We checked out the system a little more and made a live sacrifice (we caught a shuttle coming in) and then I kicked out a can as well. When people leave papers and wishes behind at a shrine, it is like making a small sacrifice of themselves - their time, effort, and desire, and I felt it was appropriate.

Then we packed up, and headed back home. And yes, that was a James Arget for CSM 8 can still floating there.


Monday, June 23, 2014

What the

We were shipping up in our home system, getting ready to pay a visit on some miners out a null connection we had to Wicked Creek.  A few of our guys were ratting, and the miners had been next door - I'm not sure why they would stick around with hostiles active next door, but maybe our ratters would have lulled them into a sense of "Oh they're just here for PvE, we're safe."  I was on my alt, in a Crow, and looking forward to some action - it had been a busy week IRL without a lot of play time.

We were taking our time getting organized, pulling out interceptors and assault frigates, and the ratters were coming back to reship as well when a gang swung through the null system.  Since we had already been pulling our guys out, the rest of us moved up and sat on the hole to wait...

The null gang scanned down the wormhole, and one of their ihstars came through.  We pounced on it.  It bailed, but I followed after it and chased it down, keeping point even though it was moving pretty damned fast.  The fleet caught it, and killed it, and we spent a while playing games on the hole with the rest of the null gang - we were pretty even on numbers, although I think they had a slight weight advantage.  We were better coordinated, though, so they only poked a few times and didn't fully commit.  With an EoL hole in the chain we didn't want to spend all night playing tag, so Kynric called for the inty (yay me!) to go +1 and hit the asteroid belt he saw activity at earlier.

Again, we had just had people ratting in this system.  And our little murder gang had just whacked an ishtar and slicer next door.  I thought that anyone mining the next system over had to be nuts to still be around, but hell, there might be someone there!  I cheerfully warped to the outgate, jumped through, and called a grid clear as I hunted for the ore pocket anom.  It took me longer than I was happy with to find it, because dear gods there were a crap ton of anoms in the system, but I found it and warped and landed on grid to find mining cans, but no miners.

There was, however, a vindicator.

A vindicator.  :D :D

It was 40km off, so I quickly started closing distance (at an angle, of course) and called point.  Kynric reminded me to mind the webs, which was something already at the front of my thoughts - with two 90% webs, I wouldn't be moving at all and the vindi would have large blasters that tracked like small blasters, so I carefully kept myself at the edge of my point range.  The damned thing moved fast, breaking point a couple of times, but I kept getting it repointed before the pilot could hit warp.  It was also shooting at me with 425mm rails.  And Warrior IIs.  I nearly died, but our logi caught me in time, and shortly after that we got a couple of webs (we had a Vigilant <3) on it and tore the battleship to pieces.

The gang we had been fighting with followed us, and started poking again; I dived onto their ishtar (the same pilot we already took down once) and pointed him, but he was burning at 2,500 m/s and pulled me out of range of the fleet; his drones popped my Crow and we scooped our loot and called it a night.

It was only after we were back in w-space that I pulled up the vindicator kill.  I had heard mention of deadspace mods on coms, and sure enough, the Vindicator had a deadspace tank.  It also had 425mm tech 1 railguns - not even meta.

And it had no webs. Now, I have certainly seen worse.  It was probably the guy's belt ratter/anom sniper, operating out of web range, even though a Megathron or Megathron Navy would do the job just as well at less than half the cost. Still, if someone I knew was flying a vindicator without even one token web on it and meta 1 rails, I would cry.

This brings me to the current Blog Banter topic: fitting. I normally do not discuss fits, because so many people are so easily offended by a 'bad' or 'suboptimal' fit, and because there will almost always be someone there to tell you that You Are Wrong.

The banter asks, "How do we educate players on fitting? Do veteran players have a responsibility to teach new players on fitting? If they do, is there also a responsibility to teach other important Eve skills?"

In the newbie career missions, players are given a few random modules to fit to their ship. It doesn't really set a great precedent. Basic ship fitting is, in theory, very easy - utilize all of your slots, build to your hull's strengths, fit the right sized modules. Practical ship fitting is certainly a little more complicated, though, since you get into active tank v buffer, optimal ranges, capacitor limitations, how to counter common threats... concepts that are a little harder to convey in a text-based lecture format but are critical to competitive flying. They are also things that might not be immediately obvious to a newbro.

My first reaction is that of course players have no responsibility to reach out. If a new player asks for help they will find all kinds of veterans willing to help - the newbie just needs to realize they need a little advice and to ask for it. I still stand by that, but I do think newbros could use a little nudge in the right direction. In this case, it is in the best interest of their corp and the people they fly with to make sure they can contribute to the fleet - this is where fleet doctrines come in, and corp mates helping eachother out. In my experience the best doctrines are the ones that encourage players to understand the why behind a fit - even if the fleet is "Fly exactly this and only this", new players can still learn important lessons about why certain modules were selected, as long as they take the initiative to ask.


Monday, June 16, 2014

How I Run My PI

There is a piece of me that is madly in love with Planetary Management.  I like engineering my supply chains.  I like optimizing for efficiency.  I like planning out my production ratios across my team of alts in order to ensure I get what I need.

That being said, actually installing extractors and factories and launch pads for thirty planets is a pain in the ass and I have been putting it off for about a month.

Still, it is what I have been doing lately.  I am now set up to produce enough POS fuel for 8 - 9 control towers at home, as long as I ship in enough isotopes, and have a few extra bits and pieces I'll be producing on the side to pad my wallet.  POS fuel has practically no margin, ~0.4% to 5% income per batch on the build (not counting the fuel you use running the assembly array since the tower is there anyway).  On the other hand, it is a convenient way to convert my alt's PI to Isk without hauling it all the way out. :D

After a lot of spreadsheeting and some experimentation (and several months of practical application and refinement, of course) I have settled on two basic ways to get the most out of my PI.  Option A, maximizing gross income, requires daily attention from each PI alt, maybe 10 - 15 min per alt.  Option B, income/effort, will pull 3/4ths to 2/3rd of the income of Option A but only requires you to log the PI alt in every other day, and you only have to shuffle products every four days.

They both start the same: four 'harvest' planets producing a single P1 (out of the first stage of factories, so water, precious metals, silicon, etc) product each, and a factory planet assembling the four different P1 items into either a pair of P2 (Coolant, microfiber shielding, construction blocks) products or a single P3 (Robotics, data chips, and so on).  The difference is that Option A runs four P3 factories, while Option B only keeps three going.

A basic harvesting planet, and where the bottleneck comes from for the above end goals.  A character with Command Center Upgrades 4 can run the above (launch pad, eight basic factories, and an extractor unit) with just enough power grid left over to squeeze out the raw material production to keep all eight basic factories cranking, but the link between the ECU and the launchpad has to be shorter if you need a lot of extractors.  The launchpad can fit about two and a half days worth of products in it, but you can also launch goods up to the POCO if you want to let them sit for a day or two before moving them to your factory planet.

For Option A, have eight basic factories and make sure your ECU is producing 48,000 units/hour (or slightly more).  You'll need to run your ECU for at most 24 - 26 hours, which means logging in daily to reset it.

For Option B, you can run the less efficient 48 - 49 hour extraction cycles, for 36,000 units of raw goods per hour and six basic industry factories, and use the freed up power grid to plant a storage facility between the ECU and the launchpad, to hold P0 raw goods and feed them to the factories.  You can collect four days of production in the launchpad before it is full and you need to launch it/move it.

With this stage, the important thing to remember is that your factories need 6,000 units/hour to maintain production, and that you can't process more than 6,000 units/hour/factory.  Extracting a little extra is fine since it gives you leeway for a suboptimal scan or if you are not exactly there when the cycle ends, but pulling too much extra clogs up your storage.

That is my Option B factory world; the factories on the left are producing mechanical parts, the ones on the right are all doing coolant.  Although I technically only have the P1 factory throughput to keep six P2 factories working constantly, I put a seventh factory of each in there to handle any overages I get from the P1 planets/backlog if I end up not moving product over immediately.  I pull four days worth of water down to the launchpad on the right, use an expedited transfer to kick it into the storage unit, and then pull the electrolytes down to the launchpad after it is empty.  That fills both of them, and I can let it sit for four days, with the finished product deposited in the launch pad at the top.

The Option A factory world is similar, except it doesn't have the power grid for three launchpads and two storage units (because you are running eight factories of each P2, or eight P2 + four more advanced factories putting out P3 attached to the top launchpad); you might be able to do two launch pads and two storage units, routing goods from the 'out' pad into factories to make room for incoming finished product, but running P3 (and hence, 20 total factories) leaves you with just enough power grid for an 'in' launchpad, a storage unit, and the 'out' launch pad.  Bring a half launchpad full of P1 down from the POCO to each launchpad and Expedited Transfer them into the storage unit (to build one half of the P2 factories) then fill the 'in' pad with the components for the other half.  You'll get a bit more than a day's worth of factory production that way, the other reason that Option A requires daily maintenance.

So yea~.  That was my weekend in Eve.


Thursday, June 12, 2014

Seizing the Moment

Someone swore on coms.  I silently agreed.  The fleet had just made what is colloquially known as a 'whoopsie' - our five pilot frigate roam fleet had just (blind) jumped into a gatecamp of a dozen or more Space Monkies.  "Hold cloak, hold cloak," the FC called out, in case anyone was about to panic.  "Crap.  OK.  Burn back to the gate." 

I was only 5k from the stargate; as other people began decloaking and moving, I set my ship to jump back through and pulsed my MWD, activating the gate just before a Crow could finish locking my Worm.  "Well..." someone asked.  "Now what?"  "We'll forget the last desto.  Let's head back home."

Since moving in to the C2 with Sky Fighters I've gone a lot of roams in null sec; our home has C5 and null static connections, and we've found a lot of fun action out roaming null in assault frigates, interceptors, and destroyers.  Last night I had just gotten home late from a busy evening running errands and was logging in to run my PI and catch up on any important notices, when I heard a fleet organizing on coms.  I finished logging in, pulled my Worm out of the hangar, and joined up.

We were running with an inexperienced scout, but people need to start somewhere; we were in Space Monkey Alliance territory and there were a lot of active ratting systems nearby, but we went a dozen or so jumps without being able to catch the ratters.  Kynric started having connection trouble, and had to bail; one of the other fleet members stepped up and took over as FC, but fleet discipline suffered a little and coms grew cluttered.

That is probably why our scout accidentally ended up +2 from the fleet instead of +1, and how we blind jumped into the same gate camp fleet again on the way back - the scout wasn't in system to see local spike when they jump portaled ahead of us.  Luckily they were slow on the lock; we made it back a system and tried to figure out what to do.  Our wormhole chain exit was one system beyond them and we had to go through the system they were camping; we had two possible entrances to that one, though, so as our scout got in position we moved to the other connecting system.  Their camp moved, anticipating us.  They also had plenty of friendly pilots docked up in the system we were in, keeping tabs on our movements; we went back and forth, playing gate chicken for a while, until our scout announced they had pulled off from the gates and gone to an offgrid safe.  We decided to chance it, jumping out of one system to send them to the other gate, then immediately turning around and jumping back in and warping to the camped gate.  We went through.  They were landing on grid, and I got bubbled; a couple of our pilots made it past, but I and one other had to try burning back to  gate.  I got scrammed, then webbed while I was 8k away; more and more of the fleet redboxed my Worm and my shields were bleeding.

I made it to the gate, though, at 4% shields remaining; my Worm has a beast of a tank, almost 13k EHP. <3  At that point, I was very, very glad I had spent the extra isk on tech 2 shield rigs and I was also very, very frustrated that I was still camped in out in null.  We started discussion options like temp logging or just coming back tomorrow on coms, and I quietly fumed.

Then I realized how bad my mood was getting, and I decided to change it.

Define the moment, or else the moment will define you is a slogan I have tacked to my wall at work.  Marketing people will tell you that perception is reality.  In Eve, we use propaganda to rally ourselves and our friends and to demoralize enemies.  No amount of propaganda will change the objective facts, but it can shape the way people feel about things - the way it is interpreted and experienced, which is arguably even more important.  My spiritual advisor put it in a more tongue in cheek way: Pull the wool over your own eyes.  Pick and choose what lies you'll believe, and if you don't find any you like, tell your own.

As cynical as that sounds, it's one of those things that works.  I'll also note that Eve is quasi-famous for its bittervets.  Every game has the bitter veteran players, and they absolutely have every reason to be bitter over things... but being bitter is a choice.  I know veteran players who are still happily playing the game, because they don't let themselves get caught up in the crap.  Some day I'll be angry and bitter, but until then I am going to keep deciding to be optimistic and enthusiastic.

The Space Monkies jumped a prober into the system we were in and started scanning, so I began bouncing safes and I re-evaluated my night.  Yes, the roam had gone toes up.  No, we had no kills, and I didn't even get to shoot anyone.  Yea, we were being chased by far too many people for us to fight... but in the tactical game of maneuvering, we were holding our own.  Not only had we escaped their gate camp three times now, but half the fleet got home already.  Sure, we were now the hunted instead of the hunters, but I sure as hell wasn't anyone's easy prey... if they wanted my wreck, I would make them work for it.

My mood picked up.  Things were going better, even if nothing had changed in game; I kept bouncing safes, and we talked options on coms.  We had the guys that had slipped past, and another pilot or two from the home system were available now; we still didn't have the numbers to take their fleet head on, but we had ~options~.  We knew what they had and where they had it.

A couple of the guys at home reshipped into rapid light missile caracals, figuring they could clear the interceptors and dictors pinning us down; if nothing else, it'd be a fun way to YOLO some cheap cruisers.  We coordinated the elements of our fleet, and then made a charge towards the gate SMA was camping.

We cross jumped.

I don't know if it was the new pilots showing up in local or what, but the scout reported them jumping out as I and the other stranded pilot jumped in. o.o  Not the conclusion we had planned on, but people were tired so we all went home and called it a night.  The roam had been unsuccessful, but it was a fun night by the end of it and I went to bed happy.