Merry Christmas!

Just a word about that by the way, given Ysh’s post on the subject:  My philosophy on wishing people things in the holiday season is – its no problem.  See, I don’t celebrate, say, Hannukah, but if you say to me, Happy Hannukah!  I understand that what you are doing is offering a blessing.

You are wishing on me the spirit of Hannukah, and I think that is wonderful – I’m happy to accept such a blessing and pleased that you would think to offer it for me, *especially* since I don’t celebrate it.  Its a way of passing that blessing onward and outward, and I like it.

And by the same token, I wish you a Merry Christmas.  In doing so, I mean no offense, and I don’t really know or care whether or not you celebrate it.  When I say it, what I’m really saying is – “May the spirit of the Christmas holiday – the spirit of generosity, of joy, of community, of peace – may that spirit rest on you.”   And I hope that this blessing is pleasing to you and helpful to you.

As for me, I’m happy, cozy with my presents and sitting now chatting with my family.  Gifts relevant to your interests:  My brother and I exchanged ETC for the holidays, which we thought was an excellent idea, but everyone else rolled their eyes at.  And I have to install Fallout 3: GOTY edition on my ‘puter tomorrow or tonight.  But mostly I’m excited about the impending arrival of STO and my preorder of it.

And I’m loving Champions Online, strangely enough.  I hadn’t heard anything good about it – but when Atari offered it up (first month included) for $15, I couldn’t resist.  Definitely an improvement on CoX in every way from what I’ve seen so far.

Which leads me to this closing thought…does this mean, pending moderate to full STO success – that Cryptic will be the new Sony?

Something to chew on.

Carrier Strike Group

Yesterdays advice was fantastic, and I’ve started the process of putting together my first guide for EVE, though this is difficult since as a new player, I don’t have alot of insight into many of the games areas.  Still, I’ve found myself answering more questions than I’m asking on our Vent server these days, so I’m sure I can come up with something.

But first, I have been thinking about this one since my last fleet op.  My dad spent his entire career (and now his semi-retirement as a contractor) as a civilian doing R&D for the US Navy. (Sidenote: Its awesome to have a Dad who has worked on things we can all be proud of.)  And so thats in the back of my head during EVE.  And when we were out the other night, the image of our ships was vaguely….

Look familiar?
Look familiar?

 

Yeah, like that.  And I know that in EVE, alot of capital ships require support, especially those that cannot dock.  So I got to wondering if one could recreate in EVE the same protective fleet group that the US Navy uses, and whether or not it would be beneficial in EVE.  In the modern US CSG, there are alot of components that would be easy to translate over in to the game:

  • A Capital Ship:  Whether it was a Carrier, or back when we had then, a Battleship, escort was needed.  In EVE of course, this would probably be a true cap ship:  Mothership, Dreadnought, or Titan.  I exclude carriers because whether its typical or not, my experience is that every veteran player can manage to lay hold of a carrier on their own at some point.  The rest require help from corpmates and thus are shared resources and thus will have at least some escort like the type Navy CSG’s use.
  • A Carrier Air Wing:  Of course this one is hard to duplicate in EVE, unless its a Mothership you’ve got, which provides its own “air wing” in the form of Fighters.  But even then its not the same.  And lets face it: frigates = fighters in the world of New Eden.  So really this role is filled by your scouts and tacklers – in a large fleet op, probably Covert Ops ships, Stealth Bombers, and Interceptors, and if you’re large enough, some noobs in throwaway frigates to help tackle.
  • A Destroyer Squadron:  Heh, yeah, probably don’t need any destroyers in the group in EVE.  Unless they are interdictors.  Which is basically what this group does – screen the carrier.  Interdictors could (if I understand them right) put up bubbles in a defensive manner around the cap ship.  This might also be your midrange pilots with cruisers that help tackle and dps enemy ships.  Thoraxes, Stabbers, etc.  This might be the area for a neutralize ship as well.
  • Guided Missle Cruisers:  The CSG has only 1-2 of these, but in EVE you might want more.  This is your pure hard hitting DPS group.  This would probably be your offensive punch in the form of battlecruisers and battleships.  For RP points, Drakes work well here.  (-;
  • Guided Missle Destroyers:  These are DPS, but of a specialized nature – AAA/ASW – take out aircraft and subs, the lurking and far ranging threats.  In EVE, this might actually be destroyers, to get a handle on groups of tacklers.  It might also be hybrid EWAR target painter/sensor booster ships that also carry high tracking weapons.  Or Assault Ships.  Or, in one tactic I learned the other night, high volume drone carriers who drop drones like a poor man’s version of active sonar – anything that bumps a cloaked ship can get it visible from what I understand, and if a cloaked ship has to navigate around a few dozen moving drones…well, god help them.
  • Attack Submarines:  This is where the invaluable Combat and Force Recon ships earn their money.  Their job is to scout ahead and bring the CSG down on the head of opposing fleets.  And its why I really want to lear to fly a Curse.  Really sick and elite corps might be using Black Ops ships here as well.
  • Logistics:  This is where your Triage Carriers, T2 Logistics Cruisers, Command Ships, and other specialized ships of a group nature come in.  Their job is support and, if you will “healing.”

Like I said, I’ve not been around in EVE long enough to know if that would be viable.  Heck, as far as I know, this *is* the way such fleets are built in EVE.  Either way, its a fun mental exercise, isn’t it?

And you never know, maybe one day I’ll be a fleet commander (FC)…that’s the cool thing about EVE.

“Well, its pretty cool, but the pay sucks.”

Yep, that’s what I had to say to my fleet as we were winding down my very first PvP op in EVE.

It started out good.  I was able to log in early last night, work done, kids in bed, wife sick (cold), house quiet.  Not five seconds after I log on comes a call from the head of our PvP corp for forming a fleet to clear the system we are trying to make our low-sec headquarters and some additional roving assault time.  I’ve been wanting to get my hands dirty for a while now, since my mining barge training finished up, so I immediately volunteered.   Despite having around 8 pilots ready to go, we had trouble filling the fleet roles.  So, two hours later…

We headed for our high-sec headquarters because there was no one left to clear out of the low-sec headquarters.  Which was good, because I had some doubts about our ability to take down a Chimaera. :-p

There we picked up a couple of more people, as we would continue to do through the next 3 hours.  I think we ended up with 3 battleships, 2 battlecruisers, 2 cruisers, and 2 frigates, including, bless him, a pilot from a corp we had good standings with who loaned us some of his time, and more importantly, his Buzzard, so we had a proper scout.  Previously our scout had been our only experience tackler, who had a cheap frigate apparently jury rigged with brass cajones who threw himself into low sec systems a jump in front of us!

Not that it mattered.  In three hours, we tracked a cloaked cruiser that we finally realized had taken refuge at a player owned station bigger than we could handle, an Orca who did the same in another system.  Just before we logged we did catch a blinky red Myrmidon coming the wrong way through a two gate system we were in, but with only one tackler…well, we got some shots in but he basically gate hopped us silly until we were so spread out we got worried he was doing it on purpose while he called his own fleet in to catch up strung out.

So my PvP statistics for the night:

Materials:  Expended 4 rounds of ammunition, gained…nothing

ISK: Spent 1.5 million insuring my Vexor, gained…nothing

Time spent:  5.5 hours

Verdict:  If this is PvP, I’ll pass.  It was cool doing the hunting and seeing our 10+ ships warping together, but I see more action from rats while mining, and at least then I can make a couple of million.

How the hell to PvP players even afford the ships they’re flying?

EVE: Turning Points

Well last night was a watershed night for me in EVE.  A couple of things happened that really solidified my playing experience and my time with my corp.

As you might remember, I was pondering switching corps to a subsidary of my current one that was smaller and geared more towards new players.  I had held off on that until my – “handler” I’ll call him, the corp leader overwatching me could gives some feedback on that decision.  But last night Origin Systems showed their true colors and strength for one of their newest members. 

It all started with yet another courier mission.  I’ve been doing a few missions each night, which, when added to salvage, has been netting me about 1 million ISK a night.  I got yet another mission requiring a low sec jaunt, but by now I’m pretty used to those.  The Tristan, tough as it is, is still a frigate, and thus hard to target, agile, fast, and quick to warp.  Unfortunately, this mission took me to the wrong system.  As I warped in to the one station in the system, I found a pair of blinking reds on my screen.  Fortunately I had warped to dock.  In the split second there, I managed to sneak a “Look At” and so that one of them was a Thorax or one of its variants.  It appeared to be fighting the other vessel, which I did not look at, so I figured I was safe to dart back out again a few minutes later, esp. since one of them was engaged in casual local chit-chat.  Unfortunately, that Thorax was apparently a Vigilant, and he somehow managed to lock me and pin me even as I was warping away.   Anyway, then he began to light me up with missle and blaster shots.  I think he thought he could wax me before I could get the timer down to redock, but in the famous words of Ron White, he was wwrronngg.  Back in the station, he tells me in local chat “2m and you can leave.”  Being the noob I am, I thought that meant 2 minutes, and I couldn’t figure out what was going on that required an egg timer of that variety.  Once it clicked though, I laughed at him.  That was just south of half my wallet, and nobody can stay on forever…

Meanwhile in Alliance chat, people are complaining about the lack of pew pew (see, I’m not a total noob, I know what that means!) so I mention, hey, if you’re bored…and they were.  Within ten minutes, I had a pretty belligerent gang a half dozen strong inbound from the warp gate.  No questions, no hesitation about my noobish status in the corp.  Just hard burning cavalry to the rescue action.  I felt like I was playing the old PnP Shadowrun RPG and I had just utilized the badass “summong gang” contact ability.  But unfortunately, there was no happy ending here.

I had noticed in local chat that one other guy there also had piss poor security status, and sure enough, he was an alliance mate.  I warned my inbounds,  that I didn’t know where he was or what he was flying.  Cue noob moment two, when my alliance mate calls out:  two reds on station, second is in a Chimaera, and I respond, well, you have him pretty well outnumbered.  The next line was laughter followed by a hotlink text informing me that this was a carrier, and showing me how much pew pew capital ships can dish out, especially against the T1 cruisers in my rescue party.  Some strategy was discussed, including brining in our own capital ships, but it ended up being a moot point.  My captor warped off station without warning, in the middle of taunting me in local no less.  I made a break for it under the carriers nose, my alliance saying it should be fine, unless he had smart bombs (the last scrolled onto my screen as I’m exiting the station, soliciting a naughty word from me).  But it was fine, and we all cleared the system safely.  Color me impressed with their response and help.

But the evening was young and later in corp chat, chewing the cud, it apparently sinks in just how new I am when it comes out that I’m saving for Learning Skill Books.  And my corpmate 2lost immediately puts 9 million ISK in my wallet.  Just like that!  In the process of thanking him, he indicates he’s suprised at how little I have.  And the final curtain on my noobishness rises.  Hes astounded that I’ve been mining in a frigate and mission running, and spends the next half hour giving me great advice.

Long story short, use the money to buy a cruiser and the skill for it, fit it with mining lasers, use my mad drones skills for defense, and cut down considerably on the amount of time needed to raise the money for skill books.

Boy do I feel lame.  But he is as gracious as can be, asking only that I pass it on to other noobs in due time.  No problems there!  To cap it all off, he tells me he’ll haul a couple of T2 mining lasers from the corp hanger to me (my only remaining urk-point – I still have no access even to the rookie hanger).

So my skills are training, and tonight, it looks like I’ll have my very first shiny new cruiser.  The only question is….which one?

Thanks 2lost, Origin Systems, and my to my alliance mates.  You saved my bacon in more ways than one, and helped me to have more fun in the game than I was having.  Could a gamer ask for anything more?

Batter Up! Eve Splitter Incoming…

So I’ve been trying to decide whether to keep my pre-Apocrypha trial character or my post-Apocrypha one. 

First things first:  While most of the Apoc NPE changes were outstanding, overall it was a step backwards.  Putting the three tutorial mission arcs in one place was a good move for players to really have a chance to get their feet under them, as was the remaps, and extending characters free skill books for basic skills by completing tutorials.  Even changing the character background choices to have no impact was good because  it opens up the RP possibilities as your race and ancestry no long determine your particular attribute line up (Or at least, they did not for my new character, who started even across the board with 8’s and 9’s).  All of these were understandable.

What was not understandable was rolling back the starting skill count.  The offered reason was to help players ease into the game by giving them a less bewildering array of starting skills.  Of course the Dev announcing this fumbled by making a joke about not needing skill X since it was for action Y that only advanced players needed, only to have that do a 180 into his face like a Little Leaguer spitting Big League Chew upwind out the cheese wagon window on the highway.  Because skill X was in fact, not at all tied to action Y.  Strike 1, CCP!

Then CCP offers up that the drop in skills will be countered by a special speed boost that will allow skills to be trained at double speed until 1.6m SP.  Players point out that this is still slower than starting noobs with some basic learning skills to cut time down, as they had been doing before.  Strike 2, CCP.

Fawning fanboys quickly pull out their EVE calculators, and note that within certain parameters, players in both the old and new NPE will hit 1.6m SP within roughly the same time period.  CCP Devs rejoice that they have been bailed out, while astute players notice that CCP, who should have had that calculated from the get go, clearly had no idea that this was the case.  Strike 3…you’re out!

The bottom line is that this was not done for new players coming into the game.  I know this because I am that target audience, and it hindered my game experience!  Want to be Caldari?  Better learn the market early, because you will have a missle frigate, and guess what is not included in your 200k  50k(!) SP start up kit.  Want to be Gallente?  Better learng the market early, because every ship you get will rely in part on drone warfare, and guess what is not included in  your 200k 50k(!) SP start up kit.  Even more ridiculous?  The new tutorials, which supposedly hand out skill books to help make up that huge SP difference to start with, do not give out skill books for either of the above skills!  In fact, to even do the drone tutorial, one must first purchase the related skills and drones, fit them out, and only then can you even attempt the tutorial!

So its pretty clear that these chances were not meant for new players, or that if they were, the mark was missed.  Instead, it seems clear that CCP was addressing a different problem, as several other players pointed out: making alts and alt hopping less of a viable option by crippling these characters out of the gate.

What disease is it that makes game developers lie when they should tell the truth, and tell the truth when they should lie?

It’s like watching Roger Clemens desperately try to deny his steroid use – sometimes funny, sometimes angering, and mostly just downright sad.

So anyway, long story short, I can have a character with:

A) 950k SP (including 4 learning skills at 3+, and 2 skills at 5), 1.2m ISK, and 1 remap.

OR

B) 420k SP (including no learning skills, and no skills at 5), 5.6m ISK, and 2 remaps.

(Remember, they both have the 2x speed skill multiplier, since they are both under 1.6m SP.  And remember too, if I want anything other than balanced skills, I have to use 1 remap immediately on character B).

I’m leaning towards A pretty heavily, especially if I can find someone to hold the ISK on B before my trial time ends in 4 days or so…and even if I can’t, I still have 2 tutorial arcs on A, which is another 2+m ISK easy.

Pinch hitter time, which do you choose?

Found 'em!  Does this mean I'm less of a noob now?
Found 'em! Does this mean I'm less of a noob now?

EVE has a new player.

I'm so noob, I even screwed up the screenshots!
I'm so noob, I even screwed up the screenshots!

Seriously, I took tons of screenshots last night, and I have no idea where they are.  I assumed EVE would have its own folder for that kind of stuff, and I went to dig them out…but nope.  Suggestions welcome (you’ll probably hear that alot in my EVE posts).

But I’ve been having fun.  In truth I did it on a whim, in part because I’ve enjoyed reading The Ancient Gaming Noob’s posts about the game.  But I’ve been reading those for probably a year now.  I just got the itch one night to see how it worked.  I enjoyed PotBS, especially because it gave me a twitch to try my hand in virtual business, and EVE seemed like it was that, only alot more.  And it is.

I was fortunate.  I did a trial account just before Apocrypha, and then started a second one just after it landed.  The result is that I have gotten to see, in close order, both NPE’s.  And quite frankly, I prefer the former, even though that may not be the character I activate in the next week or so, when my second trial runs out. 

And in fact, I think the NPE will be a whole seperate post.  Mostly I want to say that the game in general has been alot of fun.  Taking the grind offline through the skill system has been a refreshing change of pace.  I’m free to set my own goals, achieve my own rewards, and I like that alot more than I thought I would.  Apparently I’m a “sandbox” kinda guy.

Current short term goal:  get the  cash and gear together to kit out an Arbitrator cruiser, and to run through the Epic mission arc.  Those two things may go hand in hand, though so far I’ve been able to pull in a million ISK a day between missions and the odd mining run in my tricked out Tormentor, “Dirty Business.”  Three x Expanded Cargo Hold ftw.

Long term goal: Upgrading the Arbitrator to a  T2 Curse class recon ship, which just looks like a lot of fun to play, between the transfers and being a drone carrier, and owning a Megathron (maybe Kronos, maybe Navy Issue, don’t know enough yet to have that nailed down).

Super long term goal:  Since I first heard about them being in the game last year, I have drooled over the possiblity of being a carrier pilot, launching waves of fighters.  Its been kind of a sci fi fantasy of mine outside of EVE too.  I spent plenty of time in MOO2 and GCII designing carrier-type spacecraft.  And I have no idea why, its just plain  *COOL* to me.

But that would probably mean some PvP stuff, and I mostly see myself being a mission runner and business type.

My first trial account I went Gallente, given my love of all things carrier, and their extensive use of drones.  But the second time, I went Amarr, and I’ve liked it better all around.  Visually I dig the ships more, they have the best drone carrier around south of a battleship (the Arbitrator mentioned above), and the tendency to be armor heavy is helpful given the amount of mistakes I’ll be making as a new player.  RP wise, I’d prefer the Gallante, but the Amarr aren’t bad for character hooks either.

Some random questions I still have:

1) Is there a way to look at the market for a particular station remotely?  Alot of times I will decide to sell something a system away, and it would be nice to have a short cut to seeing what other items would see better there, as opposed to just right clicking and skimming each of them individually.

2) When I go to upgrade my acount, should I pay the $20 online, or buy the $40 box?  And if I buy the box, should I convert one of the two months to a PLEX to get a good upfront cash infusion for my character?

3) Since carrier are a ways out, I’m going to be a drone guy for awhile.  Any drone tips or warnings?

4) Should I apply to EVE University?  Seems like a good starter corp for noobs like me.

And of course any other good advice you have, pass it my way.

And I’ll try to do a better job with the screenshots…

So if you get a chance, wave hello to Verhoff, son of some Wealthy Commoners in Amarr hi-sec space.

Current Mission Vessel:  Punisher

Current Mining Vessel: Tormentor