Welcome to Jester's Trek.
I'm your host, Jester. I've been an EVE Online player for about six years. One of my four mains is Ripard Teg, pictured at left. Sadly, I've succumbed to "bittervet" disease, but I'm wandering the New Eden landscape (and from time to time, the MMO landscape) in search of a cure.
You can follow along, if you want...

Monday, January 31, 2011

More CSM news this weekend

A little bit more CSM election news over this past weekend.  I've updated my past post to reflect the current members of the CSM that have said in public either that they're not going to run or they are going to run.  As you can see, there are still quite a few "unknowns", but if I were to bet a dollar on it, I think I'd bet it that all of the remaining unknowns are going to go ahead and run.

Dierdra Vaal not running is a loss to the CSM.  He's now served admirably on two CSMs, 3 and 5.  Even more than this, the four members of CSM5 that have really been out in front in terms of communicating to the larger EVE Online community this past year have been Mynxee, TeaDaze, Treb, and DV.  Three out of those four have now said they're not running for CSM6.  The other members of CSM5 have been communicating in their own ways, of course, but those four were CSM5's working and public faces.

As before, more than ever now, I support Trebor for Chair and I really hope he gets it.

The other interesting bit of news is that Larkonis Trassler has announced that he's running for CSM6.  For those not familiar with Larkonis, he was on the CSM before, CSM3.  Most of the way through his term, he resigned from the CSM, about a quarter of a step ahead of the axe that would have cut him from it.  The details are fairly public: he used knowledge passed to the CSM in confidence to make purchases on the EVE market, anticipating that future changes to the game would make those purchases more valuable.  Larkonis has taken responsibility for his actions, though he hasn't exactly apologized.  CCP is not barring him from running again.

For the record, though I agree with many of his positions, I think it's too soon for him to run again.  CSM3 wasn't that long ago.  But regardless of how I feel about it, Larkonis is a well-known, very long-time player and he'll definitely be a strong candidate.

Nine days until candidates can start officially submitting their paperwork!

Quote of the Week: "...fun per dollar."

This week's QOTW comes from pc l0adletter.  He's a solid presence on the EVE-O forums, but apparently he's decided to slum it a bit on Scrapheap lately, and has written several great posts in the last couple of weeks.  This one was particularly good, and included a fundamental truth:
That's what the real metric should be. [CCP is] an entertainment company, they're selling fun per dollar. Look at what players actually spend time doing and enjoy, and make that stuff more fun. Look at the stuff they hate, like POS bitchwork, and figure out how to make that less miserable. This is such elementary business logic that I feel stupid even typing it out, but it seems empirically beyond [CCP's] comprehension.

When users aren't getting much fun for their time and money, they leave. You can't make that back by selling them hats.
Fantastic quote, and really gets to the heart of how CCP measures itself... and sometimes doesn't.

Last July, Trebor made a very similar point in a very similar way:
What Nathan is saying here is that Apocrypha, an expansion the players loved, created a lot of issues behind the scenes at CCP that required them to do a lot of code cleanup afterwards.

This statement illustrates why Nathan was so upset by the CSM's complaints about lack of excellence. He apparently defines excellence as "excellence of the code providing the EVE experience". Players, on the other hand, define excellence as "excellence of the EVE experience".
The same thing seems to be happening with Incursion.  I'll bet the EVE devs are tearing their hair out right now.  Incursion has uncovered multiple game and balance issues within EVE, has introduced fleets of bugs, has had unintended consequences -- whoops, sorry, "unexpected macro-scale outcomes" -- left and right...

And yet, with a few exceptions here and there, the players seem to be enjoying Incursion immensely!

Headaches of fixing Incursion aside, that's the true metric that CCP should be measuring themselves on.

And this should speak very loudly to the Incarna team.  If Incarna isn't fun, all of that fantastic technology isn't going to matter in the least.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Another use for incursions

When I teach PvP classes, I teach people how to make good safespots.  One of the things I mention for high-sec wardecs is to look at where your missions take you, because they're often in a random direction at a random distance from any celestial.

The same, only moreso, for Sansha incursions.  Some of the sites are in the middle of freakin' nowhere, way off the plane of the ecliptic and well outside the 14.4 AU scanning range of directional.  I just passed through an incursion system and on a whim, warped to one of the starter sites.  It put me well above the plane of every celestial in the system, and 29.6 AU from the closest object: a perfect safespot.

If your home system or your favorite hunting ground gets an incursion, take the opportunity to pick up a few really good safespots from the sites!

Sentry tactics

Fair warning: this is a long post, but I go into a lot of 0.0 tactics so if you're into theory-crafting they way I am, you'll love it.  If not, read the first para of this post then move on.

So, Pandemic Legion paid us a visit again last night, and it worked out just fine for us.  Other than the first paragraph, the facts in the EVE News article are pretty much wrong in every respect.  I'm not going to go into details for obvious reasons.  ;-)  However, I will say it was a split-fleet engagement: the bulk of the NC/PB caps and supercaps concentrated on wiping out the PL tower while the PB subcaps held up the PL fleet.  Attrition warfare proceeds apace.

No, what I want to talk about is a new tactic PL is obviously trying.

About two weeks ago, someone on Scrapheap Challenge asked what Sentry Drones are good for.  Based on my experience with them and some PvP experience I had fighting Darkside. in Scalding Pass, I wrote a response that included this:
I've seen throw-away sentries used from Domis when faced with close-range opponents. The Domis drop the sentries and then MWD away from them. The close-range opponents burn toward the Domis, and in the process show their backs to the distant sentries. The Domis halt when they reach the sentries optimal range. Darkside. used to use this tactic to good effect, but I haven't seen it from them in a while.
Maybe it's totally a coincidence, but I feel like someone in PL read that post and thought "Hmmm...".  I probably should have kept my mouth shut.  ;-)

For the last couple of months, we've been using a 1400mm artillery Maelstrom fit, using either T1 or T2 guns, depending on the skill of the pilot and how much ISK he wants to commit to the ship.  The concept is variously called "Alpha fleet".  The beauty of the Maelstroms is that 20 or 30 of them, firing together, can put out so much volley damage (referred to as alpha) in their opening strike that it can often overwhelm the logistics capability of our enemies.

The key phrase there is "firing together".  If the volley is ragged, the Maelstroms fire so slowly that the enemy logi can catch back up before the next volley.  The FC has to be careful when using these Maelstroms to order "Everyone fire in three... two... one... fire."

Part of the Alpha fleet strategy is Drakes carrying Target Painters.  The TPs allow the large guns on the Maelstroms to hit more effectively.  PL has been countering Alpha fleet by going after these Drakes in a big way.  Not only does this remove the Drakes themselves, whose medium weapons are most damaging to HACs, but no TPs means that the Maelstroms are much less effective.  That's how EVE 0.0 sov fights are: you develop a strategy, your enemy develops a counter, you develop a counter-counter, and round and round we go.

PL has enhanced their counter to Alpha fleet, and it revolves around sentry drones.  A typical PL AHAC fleet, as I mentioned before, is heavy on Zealots and armor-tanked T3s.  They've added a new component: Ishtars.  See those Target Painters and the Sentry Damage Augmentor rigs on the Ishtar?  As the fight got rolling, those Ishtars (there were about 25 of them) dropped Curator II sentries.  Curators do EM damage, which hits shield-tanked ships particularly hard.  They're also a decent mid-range sentry.

Here's a trick you can do if you have a couple of Target Painters and some sentry drone-equipped allies:
1. Order your allies to "assist" the sentries to you.  This means that their sentries will automatically fire on anything that you fire on.
2. Once that's done, Target Paint target #1.
3. Every sentry assisted to you will instantly fire at target #1.  No need for the rest of the fleet to even lock him.
4. The target will take massive damage.  Call this target as primary for your non-Ishtars.
5. Your first Target Painter will cycle, but it probably won't finish cycling before the target explodes, but that's fine.
6. When the target explodes, Target Paint target #2 with your second TP.
7. Every sentry assisted to you will instantly fire at target #2.
8. Rinse and repeat from step #4.

The beauty of this tactic is that it requires no skill on the part of your sentry-equipped allies.  No hunting for the primary in the overview, no misheard primaries, no people going off the reservation and firing at whatever they want to fire at.  No, every Ishtar fires at once, with inhuman precision, directly at the primary.  The primary takes enormous volley damage and his logis can't catch up before he pops.

This is Pandemic Legion's version of Alpha fleet!

It was frighteningly effective.  I was dual-boxing, and had an alt in a Drake among the Alpha fleet.  I got yellow boxed by one ship.  Just one!  Then my shields dropped instantly from 100% to 15%.  I had just about enough time to call for reps before I was in a pod.  I've never seen a Drake collapse so fast.  The normal tactic of "if you see yourself getting yellow-boxed, GTFO" did not work, because I was only yellow-boxed by one ship.  Unfortunately for PL, I noticed who the one ship was, figured out very quickly what was going on (like I said, I've seen this tactic before), and reported him to the main FC.  ;-)

He was popped very shortly thereafter.

Things came apart for the Ishtars's coordination pretty rapidly after that, thankfully, which was probably a factor in our winning the battle.  But PL is going to refine this tactic and use it a lot, because as I said, it was frighteningly effective.

Why the NC doesn't adapt this tactic, I have no idea.  Can you imagine a couple hundred NC carebears in Domis, all firing instantly and simultaneously at a Drake-TP'ed target?  I sure can...

EDIT (4/Feb/2011): Attribution for Alpha fleet removed; there's some dispute over who invented it.  ;-)  Clarified and corrected reasons for AHACs to go after Drakes rather than Maelstroms in such a fleet.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Incarna released early!

No, not really.

But inspired by Keith Neilson, I decided to try my hand at a similar picture using similar techniques.  Here's what I came up with, focusing on my five female alts:

I did one for my mains (all men) also, but I think I'll wait a day or two before uploading it.

The background image is a little obscure, but who knows, maybe someone will recognize it.  I left a lot of white space -- so to speak -- on the left side so I could include names and jobs should I feel the need to later on.

What do you think?

Friday, January 28, 2011

The longest journey starts...

New devblog today:

That said, we’d like to continue making tweaks, fixes and balance changes. The first step is ironing out the bugs and most critical issues so we can get a realistic picture of how the feature works. From there on, we’ll evaluate the balance and gameplay, and make changes if needed. With the fixes made today, actually completing an Incursion should be considerably easier, and we’ll be monitoring the progression over the weekend. Most of us will either participating on our player characters until we run out of drakes/money, or will be on our dev characters observing. 
This is the first time I can recall CCP soliciting and then acting on customer feedback in close to real time.  And CCP devs, playing their game side-by-side with EVE players?  It's fantastic!  A big step in the right direction, and I hope they keep it up!

Attrition warfare

The only thing worse than a Pandemic Legion AHAC fleet (40 ABHACs, 10 armor T3s, 15 Guardians, support) is a Pandemic Legion Hellcat fleet (40 pulse Abaddons, 10 armor T3s, 15 Guardians, support).

Damn, these guys are good at what they do.

Here's a very typical Hellcat for those unfamiliar with the fit.

PL has invaded Pure Blind after being pushed out of Venal.  While the fight is being incorrectly touted in some areas as a fight between PL and the NC, Pure Blind is really the home of many smaller alliances that most often operate independently of both each other and the traditional NC.  One of these is my own alliance, Get Off My Lawn.  It's a casual, mature bunch that I joined several months ago, and much more PvP-focused than the typical cliche northern resident.  We're not as solid and disciplined yet as some alliances I've been in, and our pilots don't have nearly the SP that a typical PL member has -- not even close -- but it's been terrific to watch this group harden under the pressure since I've been a member.

What we can't do yet on our own is put up a fleet equal to the size in numbers of a typical PL fleet.  So we've been working pretty closely with other Pure Blind residents.  We're also suffering from a lot of -- putting it charitably -- FC inexperience.  Still, we've been holding our own, just barely.  GOML has an almost exactly 50% efficiency against PL so far, which I consider remarkably good considering who we're fighting.  I'm proud to fly with them.

We have that efficiency because, despite the fact that we lose horrific numbers of battle cruisers and battleships to PL, every Hellcat, AHAC, or T3 we kill is worth many times one of our own ships.  Their ships are perfectly (and expensively) fit, every single time.  So if we lose six Drakes to kill one Hellcat or armor Loki, that's a good trade for us.

PL makes fun of the NC and its residents for blobbing them, and that's fine.  Fair complaint, most of the time.  But given that we'd like to -- you know -- win, I'm not sure what our alternative is.  We can't match them player skill-for-skill, or toon SP-for-SP, so going against them with anything approaching equal numbers would just be suicide.  Even when we go against them with them massively outnumbered, they've demonstrated time and time again that they have our comms completely compromised.  The only thing PL is better at than PvP is spying.  So the only thing that's been effective against them so far is this grinding, lose-eight-to-kill-one, attrition-style warfare.  It's expensive as hell, but it's working.

Napoleon... Hitler... meet the Russian landscape in winter.

Kill of the Week: Remember your mission!

As promised, the last PvE-related post for a while.  And no, this isn't a ship killed by the Sanshas (those don't generate killmails).  Instead, it's another gank:

The loss is eye-popping: a Paladin worth 17 billion ISK estimated, including 5.5 billion in a single module.  Officer spawns in deep 0.0 are vanishingly rare -- I've never even seen one -- so putting together a ship fitted with these modules is horribly expensive.  Usually, they're consigned to titans and super carriers.  But occasionally you'll run into subcaps fitting a few of them: flagships, in EVE parlance.

The interesting thing about this loss is that this isn't this pilot's first horribly expensive ship loss.  No, that was back in August:

That kill was infamous enough that it even made EVE news.  At the time, the pilot affected said "A drop in the ocean! That fit had netted me plenty of ISK durin' the time I had it, I could refit a Paladin to exactly the same spec if I wanted..."  Apparently, he wanted.  Or close enough.

If my math is accurate, it would take about 1400 hours of doing L4 missions to make the 17 billion needed for this most recent loss.  Or 62 days of running L4 missions 23/7.  Quite a while.

But OK, perhaps he's getting major advantages from all those officer modules, right?  The fit must do really awesome DPS to an incredible range, right?

Nope.  A close examination of this fit reveals that it's substandard when compared to a much more modest Paladin fit.  This officer fitting can manage about 885 DPS to an optimal range of 39 kilometers, with good tracking.  The major advantage that it gets is that it can perma-run that officer armor repper, producing about a 475 DPS perma-tank.  However, the resists are kind of thin and the buffer is non-existent, so even a little bit of neuting would be fatal (and probably was, during the gank).  Interestingly, the pilot didn't even use super-cheap faction crystals, which would have increased his DPS markedly.

Meanwhile, a more traditional Paladin using plain old Tech 2 Tachyons and Tracking Computers, three much cheaper faction heat sinks, faction crystals, a 1600 plate and buffer in the remaining lows, and a dead-space armor repper (a Core B-Type Large Armor Repper would be about right) can manage more than 900 DPS to 38 kilometers with good tracking... more DPS than the officer fit at the same range, at about 1/15th the cost.  The main difference?  The traditional Paladin is not cap-stable.  It can only run the repper for about 3.5 minutes, at about a 300 DPS tank.

And that is more than sufficient for its job of doing L4s!

Remember your mission!  This is a hard-and-fast rule in the military, and easily translatable to life in New Eden.  Remember your mission.  Anything that helps your mission is good.  Anything that's a "wouldn't it be nice if..." should be discarded.  There's no need for a L4 mission ship to have a 475 DPS perma-tank.  Damage from L4s comes in waves, and the much cheaper dead-space repper can easily keep up with it, especially when combined with the massive DPS coming off a well-fit Paladin.  The faction crystals can and should be used, because they have a measurable beneficial impact.  They support the mission.  All those officer mods do not.

There was no need to fit all those expensive mods, and little to no additional actual benefit from doing so.  Keep it in mind as you fit your own ships.  Remember your mission!

This pilot forgot his mission, and is 50 billion ISK poorer because of it.

And I don't even have to talk about the wisdom of bringing a 17 billion ISK ship into a 0.5 system after already being taught not to do that in a 0.7 system...

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Hulkageddon cometh

Two more PvE-related posts, then I'm going to get back to CSM stuff.  The other PvE post will be this week's Kill of the Week to be posted tomorrow, which is fairly epic.

The first PvE-related note -- in the sense that it's targeted against PvE players -- is that Hulkageddon is coming, and will start February 19th.  It ends on the 28th.

For those not in the know, Helicity Boson, one of EVE's better-known pirates, runs an event every year where the main goal is to destroy mining ships of all kinds.  He gets lots of people to sponsor the event with a series of prizes for various achievements.  Some of them are obvious: most Hulk kills by an individual, most kills total by an individual, most kills by a corporation, et cetera.  Some of them are fun: first kill of a Hulk by a noob ship (Ibis, et. al.), best hate mail, first kill of a mining barge with another mining barge... the list goes on, and the unusual achievements and prizes for this year aren't listed yet or are still being chosen.

It's huge fun for those that participate, the prices of Hulks and fittings spikes up a bit, and even most of the miners don't seem to mind it too much.  A lot of them stay docked while Hulkageddon goes on, but a lot of them grin at the extra risk and go out anyway.

Just for fun, I'm seriously considering sponsoring a prize myself.  I'm still thinking about exactly what conditions that prize would be awarded for.  Given my long interest in teaching beginners PvP, it might be some variant on "first solo-kill of a Hulk ganker by another ganker" or something to that effect, if Helicity would agree to such an achievement.  In other words, solo someone in the same system where they got a Hulk kill, after they got that Hulk kill.  I'd be willing to put up a couple hundred million ISK prize, maybe a faction-fitted Dram or a Vigilant or something.  Helicity, if you're reading this, contact me.  ;-)

Anyway, this year's Hulkageddon is interesting because the scope of it is expanding a bit:
2) Haulers are fair game now.  Since merely blowing up mining vessels is fun, this time around we are broadening the target spread to generate more tears of dismay! In Hulkageddon 4 all mining vessels, orcas, freighters, haulers, noctis and primae count towards your score! Yes, you read that right, all the vessels mentioned there count for the main prize. In addition to that some vessels have their own achievements linked to them, check the prizes page for all the details!
Note this well, if you plan on flying a hauler during this period...  They're not going to stick to just haulers supporting mining ops, I imagine.

I've only ganked one Hulk, just to see if I could do it.  I fitted out and insured a trio of glass cannon, alpha Hurricanes on the advice of a corp-mate who's a successful ganker with them.  Out of the three Canes, I managed one gank, against an AFK ice-miner in a 0.5 system near Amarr-Minmatar FW space.  The other two Hulks escaped in deep, deep structure.  One of them was ballsy enough to stick around after I got CONCORDed to scoop up my drones before he left.  Props to that pilot!  I figure if I'd plugged in one more projectile weapons implant, all three ganks would have been successful.  Ah well, in this game, you try stuff and you learn from it.

Overall, I learned that ganking isn't for me.  I like targets that fight back.  Still, I can see why people enjoy it.  There was definitely a certain thrill going into a fight absolutely knowing you were gonna get popped...

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Beware the incursion (from within)

There are some EVE players out there just glorying in their ability to get incursion fleets killed in new and interesting ways.  ;-)

This blog entry is for the benefit of newer EVE players getting their first taste of how a truly corrupt fleet commander or fleet member can get them killed.  If you have some experience with EVE, all of this will be old hat.  New Eden is a harsh, forbidding place and there are players that go out of their way to make it even more harsh and forbidding.

Incursion seems tailor-made to help them.

If you're already familiar with the means for a griefer to use CONCORD, GCC, or fleet mechanics to get a fleet member killed, you can skip the rest of this post.  For newer EVE players, some things to watch for are below.

The methods of getting people killed below apply to high-sec, of course, but to a lesser extent to low-sec as well.  Some of the ways that this is happening:

1. In high-sec, someone joins an incursion fleet in a RR BS(1).  When the Sansha attack him, he calls for reps in the normal fashion.  When he has a large number of people repping him, he attacks a neutral member of the fleet.  This causes CONCORD to destroy him.  And since he's being repaired, CONCORD will also destroy anyone who is repairing him.

2. When the above happens, his accomplices in the fleet will quickly warp off.  The remaining fleet is often insufficient to deal with the Sanshas and is destroyed.

3. All PvE in EVE is based on spawns and triggers.  When a wave of ships appears, one of them will trigger the next wave.  If your fleet is not ready for the next wave, a large number of ships can be lost before recovering the situation.  Corrupt members of your fleet can deliberately try to pre-trigger too many waves for the fleet to handle before warping off.

4. A competent-sounding but corrupt FC who knows the triggers can order the fleet to shoot those triggers prematurely, resulting in an outcome similar to #3.

5. A corrupt member of the fleet in low-sec can apply tactic #1 just before the incursion site is complete and then apologize profusely for the "mistake."  The fleet then warps back to high-sec to repair and reload.  Players unfamiliar with EVE's GCC(2) mechanic jump into high-sec, where they find themselves under attack by players who are familiar with the mechanic, including cronies of the "mistaken" fleet member.

6. A corrupt member of the fleet in a squad commander or wing commander position may manipulate the fleet in a number of ways.  One particularly insidious way will be for him to offer to take command of a large portion of the fleet's logistics element and ask to be put in a squad or wing command position to do so.  When the fleet comes under heavy attack, the corrupt wing commander warps his logistics group away from the battle, resulting in massive losses among the rest of the fleet.

7. A more obvious approach: simply warp half the fleet away from a large incursion wave, leaving the remaining half to die under its guns.

I'm sure there are more, but these are the more common, obvious things to watch for...

(1) RR BS: Remote rep battleship.  A battleship fitted with six or seven medium-range guns and associated ammo.  The final high slot or slots are fitted with either a shield transfer array or (more commonly) a remote armor repairer.  When one battleship in the fleet is damaged, it calls for reps from the remaining RR BSs in the fleet not being attacked.

(2) GCC: Global Criminal Countdown.  When you shoot a neutral in low-sec (or repair another fleet member who did), you incur a 15-minute countdown where you are considered a pirate.  Pirates are fair game for anyone to shoot, including the gate guns at stations and stargates.  If you have a GCC, it will be indicated by a red timer in the upper left corner of your screen. Until that timer expires, it is suicide to enter high-sec, and very dangerous to approach low-sec gates and stations.

Fit of the Week: Spider Tengu

[Tengu, Spider Tengu]
Capacitor Power Relay II
Caldari Navy Ballistic Control System
Caldari Navy Ballistic Control System
Caldari Navy Ballistic Control System

10MN MicroWarpdrive II
Large Shield Extender II
Invulnerability Field II
Invulnerability Field II
Photon Scattering Field II

Large S95a Partial Shield Transporter
Heavy Missile Launcher II, Scourge Fury Heavy Missile
Heavy Missile Launcher II, Scourge Fury Heavy Missile
Heavy Missile Launcher II, Scourge Fury Heavy Missile
Heavy Missile Launcher II, Scourge Fury Heavy Missile
Heavy Missile Launcher II, Scourge Fury Heavy Missile

Medium Capacitor Control Circuit II
Medium Capacitor Control Circuit II
Medium Capacitor Control Circuit I

Tengu Defensive - Adaptive Shielding
Tengu Electronics - Dissolution Sequencer
Tengu Engineering - Capacitor Regeneration Matrix
Tengu Offensive - Accelerated Ejection Bay
Tengu Propulsion - Interdiction Nullifier

I spent about six months living in a WH, with an alliance called Sturmgrenadier that, among other things, had a small wormhole team.  At the time, we lived permanently in a Class 2 with a static entrance to a Class 4.  If there were just a few people around -- four or so, say -- we'd go into the Class 4 and clear the sites.  If more people were on-line, we'd push deeper from the Class 4 to a Class 5 or even a Class 6, looking for a bigger challenge.

The bulk of our WH fleets were made up of the Tengu fit above, which was just a fantastic platform for taking on the Sleepers.  I submit it this week as a suggested fit for corps looking to take on mid-size incursions.

The more I read about the incursions, the more I think that successful incursion fleets are going to have to be 33% or more logistics ships.  The upgraded Sansha ships in these incursions are doing omni-damage, omni-tanking, and include a lot of special capabilities, including jamming.  If you go cheap on logi, one lucky jam or one unlucky client crash is going to flush your entire incursion fleet right down the toilet.  Much like the Sleepers, the upgraded Sansha missiles are putting out some really impressive alpha, so you really have to be ready for it.

But sometimes, finding dedicated logi pilots is tough...

The advantage of this Tengu is that it not only does great DPS (500+ in the hands of a good missile pilot with Scourge Furies), it distributes your logistics to every ship in the fleet.  If one or two of your fleet-mates have to leave or go to bed, it's not going to affect you all that much.  You don't need to wait for dedicated logi pilots.  If you only have a few pilots, everyone gets into this ship and off you go.  If you have a lot of pilots, it's also a ship that should scale upwards nicely to even the largest Incursion sites.  It's got enough of a buffer that it can hold its own for a bit while its fleet-mates get locked on and start repping.  And best of all, as long as your pilots have Caldari Engineering Systems V, it's cap-stable (with the MWD off).  Pick a central ship, everyone orbit that anchor point, and you're good to go out to this Tengu's 100km missile range.  If you have to move, move as a unit under MWD.

The major disadvantage is this ship's cost, of course.  It's not for the novice.  Those Caldari BCSs will run you about 250 million for the set, and the two Tech 2 CCCs will cost another 100 million.  That's on top of the cost of the hull and the subsystems, so the entire ship will probably set you back about 850 million ISK.  In high-sec, do not not not rep anyone you don't trust implicitly.  As the Interdiction Nullifier implies, though, this ship will best serve you in 0.0 incursions with corp- and alliance-mates close at hand in identical ships.  The combination of that and the MWD will get you out of Dodge if need be.  In high- or low-sec, the Intercalated Nanofibers subsystem and an Overdrive Injector II in the resulting open low slot would be better choices.

Fly safe against those Sansha, guys.

EDIT (26/Jan/2011):  PhineasAeroni on Twitter asked how I thought a less-expensive fit would fare.  I can think of a couple of ways to make this fit less expensive without hurting it too much.

1. You could remove one of the T2 CCCs and replace it with another T1, saving about 50M.  Such a fit would still be cap-stable (barely).  You just wouldn't have any wiggle room if you were neuted at all.  Probably not the best choice.

2. The faction BCSs are partially there because they use less CPU than the T2 versions.  They don't add a ton of DPS, but they add some over the T2 variants.  But if you replace them with T2s, you either need to fit less CPU-intensive modules or you need to take a CPU hit elsewhere.  One possibility: take all three Caldari Navy BCSs off.  Replace with two BCS2s and a second Cap Power Relay II.  Replace one T2 CCC with a T1.  Then make up the CPU hit using a Dread Guristas Photon Scattering Field instead of the T2.  It isn't too terribly expensive.  Total savings: about 275M ISK.  Your only loss would be DPS: you drop from 500+ to about 440, assuming Scourge Furies.

It'd be a good interim substitute while you were saving up for the faction BCSs.  And remember, your whole fleet doesn't have to be these Tengus.  You can be successful supplementing a group of four or five of these ships with gank battleships such as Ravens and arty Maelstroms, plus a Drake or two.  The main idea here is to distribute your logistics while maintaining high DPS.  -J

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

2011 predictions

The first major incursions are being run today, so I'm going to take a moment, plug myself a little, and link to some predictions I made about six weeks ago for EVE in 2011:


My very first prediction was:
Incursion will be delivered beautifully feature-complete with high quality... and yet its main feature won't work worth a damn anyway because hundreds of PvP griefers will make it nearly impossible to complete incursion sites as intended.
I present you with the first battlefied pic from an incursion.

Doesn't quite make my first prediction "true" yet, but I'd say it's well on its way.  ;-)

Some of those predictions were a little off-hand (the gunnery one, in particular), but with one month of the year gone, I really like my chances for most of them.  In particular, I have a really hard time believing Incarna will actually be pushed to the EVE community if there's nothing to do in it.  I find it much easier to believe it will be delayed to next January.  Could be totally wrong.  We'll see.


And now for a topic near and dear to every capsuleer's heart: making money.  ISKies!

I've tried almost every way to make money in EVE, so I'll probably have lots to say on this topic from time to time.  The great thing about EVE is how many different ways there are to make money.  This particular "making money" post focuses on mining (and to a lesser extent, on commodity speculation, another great way to make ISK).

Background: at one time, fully 50% of the nocxium in the game was being supplied by drone alloys.  Crokite has some noc, and 20% of the noc in the game was provided by mining, mostly crokite mining.  The rest was coming from reprocessing modules.  However, with the heavy nerf of drone alloys early last year, crokite and reprocessing modules for noc have not picked up the slack.  As a result, noc prices have been rising.  The rise has not been steady.  Instead, we're seeing slow increases punctuated by sharp upturns.  There was a 35% jump in May 2010, a 50%(!) jump in September 2010, and 65%(!!) more since September.  Noc is now selling for more than five times what it sold for this time last year.

Here's July 1 through December 31 last year.  Check it out:

A lot of capsuleers (and I include myself...) made a ton of ISK predicting this jump when we saw the drone alloy composition changes.  Market speculation is a great way to pull in ISK, as I mentioned.

Why have noc prices been characterized by slow increases punctuated by sharp upturns?  I have a theory about this: I think the upturns in mid-2010 were caused by stockpiles of noc that various industry corps -- particularly Droneland corps -- had been running through.  Each time a large stockpile ran out, you'd suddenly see a big jump in both noc prices and volume (those green bars).  See those really tall green bars?  Probably Jump Freighter runs, full of noc.

The December spike likely had a different cause: the Noctis.  The Noctis uses a ton of noc for a ship of its size: more than 27000 for an unresearched blueprint.  That's enough noc to build a battleship!  There were a lot of Noctises built, which consumed a lot of noc.

How do you make money off this if you're a miner?  Glad you asked.

The change has done a lot to keep crokite viable as an income source for miners.  What's maybe being overlooked, though, is that there are two ores that are nipping at crokite's heels in terms of mining value: hemorphite and hedbergite.  For the longest time, these two ores have been regarded as completely worthless.

Yeah, not so much any more.

As of January, crokite is worth about 23.6m ISK per hour to a perfectly skilled Hulk pilot with no boosts.  Hed and hemor, previously worth less than 10m ISK per hour, are now both worth 19.5m ISK per hour.  Each.  Arkonor and bistot continue to be the champs, worth 40 and 30m ISK per hour, respectively, but there's not always very much bistot or ark.  Whereas hed and hemor?  There's probably a lot more available.  Dark ochre is also slowly becoming viable, at 18m ISK per hour and rising.

Hed and hemor are both available in both 0.0 and low-sec, and there are lots of quiet little out-of-the-way low-sec systems that few people ever visit.  If you have two toons, slip a small tower, a Corporate Hangar Array, a few hours worth of tower fuel, an hour of stront, a Retriever and some fittings into a Blockade Runner.  Pick a low-sec system with hed or hemor, find an open moon, and anchor/online/fuel your tower and CHA.  Fit out the Retriever, give it to a mining toon.  Use the BR to haul back to the CHA.  If a pirate comes along, warp back to your tower and wait for them to leave.  When you've mined to your heart's content, repackage the Retriever and use the BR to empty the CHA back into Empire, then unanchor the tower.  Pick the right system and nobody will ever know you were there.  And if the worst does happen, you're out a Retriever.  You won't make Hulk-quality money, but you'll make more than you will doing L4 missions, and with much less effort.  And if you slip a Hulk into that system instead, you can almost make 0.0-quality money.

Wormholes and grav sites are also terrific sources of both of these ores.  In particular, the Moderate Asteroid Cluster, long regarded as only being worth cherry-picking for ABC, has 100,000 units of both hed and hemor.

If you haven't already, now would probably be a good time to train Hed Processing IV and Hemor Processing IV so that you can use T2 crystals for them...

Anyway, just interesting data for you miners out there.  Go make some ISKies.  :-)

Pain tolerance

One more little note about Jump Bridges, then I'll move on to other things.  Almost immediately, in fact.

For those with a very high tolerance for pain, here are (as of 10:00am Pacific today) 27 pages of discussion on this subject.  I wish I was kidding.  I've been reading it because there's a lot of good opinions and feedback there, but dear heaven is it painful.

But the discussion is covering all the major points, so kudos to the Kugu contributors there.  Someone even brought up the specter of "super carrier small gang PvP."  We're not very far from that as it is.

On the topic of nuking JBs entirely, one of my alliance-mates provided an amusing Assistant to the Quote of the Week:
Eve is already "Are We There Yet" Online.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Quote of the Week: "...about Incarna..."

As promised, from the excellent interview with Mynxee at The Hydrostatic Capsule:
The fact is, CSM has been told and shown almost nothing about Incarna. I don’t believe there is any documented plan, vision, or roadmap for it.

Mynxee, maybe the reason the Incarna discussion was mostly under NDA was to keep you from saying that.  Your NDA no doubt specifies that you can't share CCP plans with the public when they ask you to keep them quiet.  I'm pretty sure the lack of a plan counts in the legal sense...  ;-)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Lots of CSM news this weekend

There's a really good interview with Mynxee out today.  The questions avoid the usual inane interview chit-chat -- some of them are really insightful.  Go out and give it a read.  It's worth your time.  This interview will also be the source of my quote of the week on Monday.  See if you can spot the quote.

Compare and contrast with Massively, who posted an interview with CSM member Dierdra Vaal.  This interview is much longer, and is in two parts, Part 1 and Part 2.  Despite being longer, the interview never really strays out of the shallow end of the pool.  I half-expected one of the questions to be "What is Hillmar really like?"  Still, it starts to warm up in part 2, and there's this exchange, which is quite good:

M: The issue of force projection was brought up. Capital fleets are currently able to move much faster using a cynosural field chain than any standard fleet. As a result, they have a greater mobility than sub-capital fleets. What problems does the CSM see this as causing?
DV: Force projection isn't just about speed; its also about range. If you can go 1-2 regions over without much effort, its easy to go and stomp on a small entity with a few supercaps just because you're bored. What we see is that a lot of 0.0 problems are related. The force projection problems combined with the proliferation of supercaps currently means that you run a very high risk of having your sub-capital gang hotdropped by a few bored supercarrier pilots. Unless you have your own counter hotdrop standing by, it can act as a deterrent for PvP. The prevalence of supercap hotdrops is a big source of complaints from 0.0 pilots.
The next two questions after that are about Jump Bridges and Balkanized 0.0 and how that will affect PvP.  If you've been reading some of my past entries, you know this concern is near and dear to my heart.  I hope CCP won't use a sledgehammer on this problem when a scalpel is what's needed!

Seleene has announced his candidacy for CSM6.  Seleene, like myself, is a frequent contributor on Scrapheap Challenge and I agree with a lot of his ideas.  He's put up two posts, one on his past CCP experience, one on why he'd like to be on CSM6.  I'd really like to work with him on CSM6, and no, it has nothing to do with the fact that we both feel that iteration of past EVE features should be a CCP priority.  ;-)

Another SHC contributor, Virtuozzo, is getting his CSM6 candidacy running as well.  Virt is very very smart, and understands the internal politics in CCP better than anyone else I know.  He's another person I'd love to work with on CSM 6, and I think he's going to be a really strong candidate.

And I'll talk about why once we're all official candidates, but I'd love to see Trebor make Chair this term.  I e-mailed him asking for some advice on my run, and he graciously offered me some.

Hopefully, there will be enough seats available for me to get one myself, too.  ;-)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

CCP might be on to something

So in the midst of a bunch of CSM preparatory work, I took a break to re-customize one of my alts, who I've mentioned before.  As I was tweaking this and playing with that, I decided to ask my wife for some help.  Being male, I don't know a whole lot about make-up, and I was finding the options for eye liner and eye shadow a little bit hard to deal with.  All of my mains are men, but most of my alts are women.

She's shown absolutely no interest in EVE up to this point, just seeing it as my thing, which is fair, of course.  But she did agree to help, and so I showed her around the character creator and what I was trying to get done.  For reference, she's much more artistic than I am, and is in an artistic job field.  I zoom out to show her the whole picture--

Her: "No redhead would wear that blouse!"

Me: "..."

Her: "Is there navy blue?"

Me: "Well, no, the color options are kind of limited right now.  They're just getting this going..."

She gives me that look that clearly says "men."  "Try that one," she says.  "Now the pants are wrong."  "Does that jacket come in any other colors?"  "Zoom back in."  "Make the chin longer."  "Can you adjust the earlobes?"  "Make the jaw line longer."  20 minutes later, we manage to get around to the thing I wanted help with (eye shadow and liner, remember), and she helps me with that, too.  Have to say the end result more than justified my asking for her assistance, though!

I thank her.  She starts to walk away.  I log into another of my accounts and select one of my other alts.

"What did you DO to her?!" I hear from behind me.

"What?"  I ask.  The toon in question is to the right.  I was actually pretty happy with it, and hadn't intended to re-customize this one.

"Did she get that hair color out of a bottle?" she asks.

Me: "..."

"Can you redo her?"

"I suppose I can, but..."

"Bring it up.  Can you get me more coffee?"  I find myself being displaced out of my chair.  She asks me some questions about the controls.  Then she settles in, muttering about the doofus she married.

I eventually reclaim my chair, but not the controls.

The next hour is a repeat of the process for my other alt, me driving, her navigating.  She's at least (mostly) happy with my clothing choices this time, and the hair type and pose I chose were again fine, but just about everything else, she wants to fiddle with.

In the process, I learn way more about the human face than I knew before.  She's an artist, all right.

I was happy with my version, but hers is simply stunning, don't you think?

These CCP guys might be on to something here.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Seven things I will do as a member of CSM6

And here's the other half, what I will do if I'm elected:

Seven things I will do as a member of CSM6

1. I will encourage CCP to make "Team Best Friends Forever" a perpetual development team focused on making past features of EVE better.
Iterative development is what it's all about.  CCP is great at developing new features, but needs to learn to develop past new features.  Too many things in EVE haven't been touched since they were first introduced.  Like faction warfare.  Like bounty-hunting.  Incursions and Incarna will just join them if CCP doesn't commit to continued development of past features.

2. I will help CSM6 build on the success CSM5 had in getting CCP to to listen to EVE players.
I love EVE, and I'm a lonnnnng-time gamer, RPG'er, and miniature war-gamer.  But -- like the most successful members of CSM5 -- I also have a strong real-life business and communications background.  CCP will take me seriously.  I'll take the agreements that past CSMs have gotten from CCP, and hold CCP accountable for meeting them.  I'll be there to do the work, and help CCP make EVE Online better.

3. I will strongly encourage CCP to talk to the players, too!
Thanks to CSM5, this has gotten much better over the last year, but still isn't good enough.  CCP should be more open to sharing their plans with players, and should respond in a much more timely and understanding fashion to upset players.  They already have a potential avenue to help: the CSM itself!  I don't know why they haven't taken advantage of this, but I'll encourage them to.

4. I will represent all EVE players, not just people who play the way I do.
I've been playing EVE for three years plus.  In that time, I've been a miner and a mission-runner.  I understand and do industry and invention.  I was in faction warfare for six months (so I know how badly it's broken).  I've lived in a wormhole.  I teach PvP classes and I FC.  And for more than a year now, I've been in the thick of 0.0 sovereignty wafare.  I understand a lot of different EVE players, because I've been there.

5. I will push for changes in Empire war-decs, and Empire living in general.
Use of neutrals in Empire war-decs, particularly for logistics, is out of control.  I like a fun Empire war-dec as much as the next guy (maybe more), but most of them aren't fun any more.  In a somewhat related topic, I think CCP's fight against botting has gone slightly too far, and has hurt honest players just trying to make a living in Empire.  I'll be running player round-tables soon, looking for suggestions on how to fix it.

6. I will help push for changes in 0.0 long-range logistics.
There's no question about it: jump logistics is broken.  Supercarriers roam at will across all of space and have become EVE Online's "I win" button in both 0.0 and low-sec.  Small gang PvP is hurting, and massive hot-drops are becoming more and more common.  Jump bridges are too cheap to use.  I love them for their ability to get people who live in distant 0.0 space into PvP-friendly areas, but they're out of control.  I'll run round-tables on this topic too, looking for player ideas.

7. I will stay available to EVE players through my blog, e-mail, EVE mail, and forums.
At the end of the day, I represent YOU.  If you have a suggestion, I want to hear it.  If you have a gripe, I'll listen to it and help you address it.  If you have a question that you can't find the answer to, I'll help get you pointed in the right direction.  I'll listen to you.  And even if the answer to your suggestion is eventually "no", at least I'll tell you why.  ;-)

Seven things I think about the CSM and CCP

This post is probably going to become one of the corner-stones of my campaign.  I might expand on a few of them in later blog posts, but here are...

Seven things I think about the CSM and CCP

1. I think the CSM should focus on a "macro" view of EVE -- the game as a whole -- instead of the "micro" individual issues.
Many of the design decisions for EVE are made long before the CSM ever hears about them.  Many more are protected by NDA and even if the CSM wanted to, they can't ask on the EVE-O forums what players think.  The CSM has a lot of influence with CCP, there's no doubt of that.  But the influence is mainly projected into the future design state of the game (Incarna), or large over-arching issues with the game (blasters, micro-transactions, 0.0 sov warfare) that CCP is already aware of, rather than individual issues (rockets, making a longer watch list).  However...

2. I think the CSM is the best advocate the players have for getting major gripes in the game fixed.
The Assembly Hall is a great place for players to bring these up, or you can bring them up directly to the CSM delegate of your choice.  And there's a ton of them out there.  And that itself is a problem.  There are so many little niggling issues with EVE that people get frustrated with the game, and unsub, so...

3. I think CCP really needs to spread the love to the customers they have already -- us!
I'm a real-life businessman, as I mentioned in my first blog post, and I can tell you the old truism about customers is solid truth: it's a hell of a lot easier to keep the customers you have than it is to attract new ones.  CCP's eye is fixed on the future these days -- Incarna, DUST 514, World of Darkness -- instead of the present.  And while CSM5 did a fantastic job of reminding CCP that we're out here, CSM6 has to keep that momentum going.  To do that...

4. I think that CCP should be encouraged to have a continuing team of developers focused on iterative development of EVE Online.
I posted a proposal to this effect on the Assembly Hall myself (whoops, I just pre-announced my candidate character, but so be it).  And lo and behold, half this job is done.  There's a development team in EVE called "Team Best Friends Forever".  Their job, in Arnar's words, "will be dedicated to a project of implementing a collection of small fixes and iterations to existing issues in the game."  And this is terrific.  But CCP should be encouraged to make this team perpetual, because...

5. I think that CCP needs to be reminded that they are fantastic at developing new features for EVE, but not so good at improving them later.
And that's where the CSM can really make a difference.  CCP's development process could easily support this.  There are a ton of "features" in EVE that haven't been touched since their first introduction into the game: COSMOS missions, faction warfare, bounty hunting, epic mission arcs, sleeper sites, certificates, the visual upgrades in the ship introduced in Trinity... the list goes on.  All of these things are screaming for a little dev love, faction warfare especially.  This bodes ill for Incarna because while...

6. I think Incarna is a fantastic idea, but if CCP is not careful, it could go a long way toward breaking the game we love.
I love the idea of Incarna because it could bring swarms of new players to EVE.  More new players is good for everyone: more ISK, more PvP targets, more everything!  But if CCP follows the pattern of a fantastic introduction followed by lack-luster follow-up, this could be fatal.  Incarna has to be introduced well to EVE, but it also has to be done so in a way that respects the current EVE players.  Unfortunately, as I mentioned in a prior blog post, I think the Incarna team is hostile toward the CSM because the CSM doesn't love their baby as much as they do.  The CSM can't afford to break that relationship, so...

7. I think I would make a great CSM member because I've got the right background for CCP to take me seriously, and I'm hugely enthusiastic about EVE's future.
I think I can reopen that relationship.  It's what I do in real-life.  I can remind the Incarna team of a long-term player's perspective on the things we love about EVE.  I sure as hell don't want to have to step out of my ship to use the Market!  But since I'm enthusiastic about and have ideas about what Incarna can be good for (more about this soon), I can communicate the current EVE player's concerns about Incarna in a way that's respectful to the team that's worked so hard on it.  There are a lot of little factions in CCP, and the CSM has to maintain friendly relationships with all of them.

So, that's it.  A little unorthodox, but that's a long version of why I'm running for CSM.

The road ahead

OK, a lot of hard work ahead this weekend!  I knew the CSM candidate process would start soon(tm) but somehow thought I'd have another couple of weeks to prepare.  But as of today, 61 days until close of voting.

So, you'll have to excuse me if the next four or five days are hugely centered on my CSM run as I get all the necessary house-keeping tasks out of the way.  There's likely to be five or six short posts in quick succession over the next 48 hours or so.

To-do list:
  • 200 word candidate statement (in process)
  • Small candidate website (in process)
  • Official candidate posting to Jita Speaker's Corner
  • Start a candidate Twitter account, get on the #tweetfleet
  • Schedule and announce some free PvP classes as advertising
  • Get permission to use my alliance's TS server for said PvP classes (::grins::)
  • Blog posts for my key positions about things
  • Review other candidates, see who I'd like to work with (once they're announced)

Kill of the Week: Routine Suicide

Wasn't killed this week, but I want to talk about it anyway.

I teach PvP classes, including very basic ones.  In the PvP 101 class that I teach, I harp on the #1 rule of EVE: "Don't fly what you can't afford to lose!"  As far as I'm concerned, that should be written in letters of fire on the EVE log-in screen.

But sometimes I emphasize, and I add this: "When you undock, just assume you're going to lose your ship and everything in it.  Just assume someone's hunting you personally.  If that makes you wince because your fitting or cargo are silly, don't undock!"  Then I post a link to this Badger II kill-mail.

Now granted, there are more hysterical loss-mails than this simple hauler.

But the interesting thing about this kill is how routine it is, from every angle.  The pilot that lost the Badger was obviously doing a routine ammo shipment, probably for his corp.  The toon is an obvious alt.  Someone in the corp knows what he's doing, because Republic Fleet Fusion M is a great ammo choice for Vagas and Canes looking to take out armor-tanking battleships, probably in Empire war-decs.  The quantity implies the corp took these ships on a lot.  The fitting exudes "meh".  Someone couldn't be bothered to worry about it, except for its utility.

The system where the kill took place is a little off the beaten track.  That seems to have been the one nod toward security of almost 750 million ISK in ammo.

The ganker, likewise, obviously does this routinely.  The toon is probably an alt.  His killboard has almost one hundred of this sort of kill, and he makes enough ISK of his targets to put T2 fittings on his suicide ships.  This is probably his main income source, in fact: he one- and two-shots hysterically bad haulers.  He gets enough successful ganks that he was willing to risk the 50% chance that the ammo would explode.  It didn't, so he probably made a 700 million ISK profit that day.  A good PvPer can play for quite a while on 700 million, or can buy a couple of PLEXes and train the suicide alt for another two months (seems more likely).

It was a routine suicide.

Fly expensive cargos or ships long enough, and this will happen to you.  EVE rewards players that think about what they do before they do it.  Don't get caught in someone else's routine suicide.  Before you undock, assume someone's hunting you personally.  Don't be this Badger pilot.  ;-)

Current CSM

CSM5 members who have said in public they're not running:
  • ALPHA12125 (Alternate)
  • Dierdra Vaal
  • ElvenLord (Alternate)
  • Korvin
  • mazzilliu
  • Mynxee (Chair) 
  • TeaDaze 
  • Vuk Lau

CSM5 members who have said in public they are running:

  • Helen Highwater (Alternate)
  • Meissa Anunthiel  
  • Sokratesz
  • Trebor Daehdoow

This post will be updated as I learn more.

EDIT (21/Jan/2011): Treb is running.
EDIT (23/Jan/2011): Meissa is running.
EDIT (31/Jan/2011): Sokratesz is running.
EDIT (31/Jan/2011): Dierdra Vaal is not running.
EDIT (26/Feb/2011): Helen Highwater is running. 
EDIT (27/Feb/2011): mazz is not running. 
EDIT (02/Mar/2011): The remaining four -- Korvin, Vuk, Alpha, and ElvenLord -- aren't running.

Here we go. Deploy drones, hardeners on!


candidacy period for csm6 to open soon
reported by CCP Diagoras | 2011.01.21 15:28:24 | NEW | Comments

With Council of Stellar Management due to leave office on April 6th, it's almost time for the candidacy period for CSM6 to open up. The dates for the next election period are as follows:

February 9th to 23rd – Candidacy application period opens
March 2nd – Publication of the list of approved candidates
March 9th – Voting opens
March 23rd – Voting closes
March 30th – Results announced
April 6th – CSM 6 takes office
April 2012 – CSM 7 takes office

The time of the CSM summits in Reykjavik have not yet been finalised, although these will be announced when we open up the candidacy application period.

The only major change to this schedule compared to previous CSM election periods is the reduction of the amount of time between the publication of the list of approved candidates and the beginning of the voting period. This change has been enacted for reasons both of convenience for the overall schedule and that this time has in previous elections remained mostly unused by a large majority of candidates. The question of how acceptable such a change would be was put to the CSM and it did not meet with any major concerns.

We shall, however, be changing the application requirements. When applying for candidacy in CSM6, we will require that at least a basic campaign message stating what you are campaigning for and/or who you are representing is provided. There will also be a maximum limit of 200 words for the message. Failing to provide this will unfortunately result in us being unable to accept your application. This requirement is being added for the convenience of voters, to assist them in determining who they would like to vote for.

To apply for candidacy in the elections you will need to provide a scan or reasonable quality photograph of a currently valid passport. This is in order to prove that you can travel internationally to attend the CSM summits in Iceland. So if you want to run and do not have a passport as of yet, you have until February 23rd to acquire one! In addition to this you will need to be at least 21 years of age as of April 6th, 2011.

If you have any comments or questions, please head on over to the comments thread on the forums.

-CCP Diagoras
Getting busy on my 200-word statement.  The tl;dr version will be: "I'm a three-year EVE player, and I want to build on what CSM5 started. CCP is beginning to listen to players (gasp!), and I don't want that momentum lost. I have a strong RL business and communications background. I can help CSM6 do that."

Official CSM position stuff from me will be tagged "Jester".  Stuff about the election but not necessarily about me will be tagged "CSM6-Election".

I figure it's going to take 1600 votes to get on the CSM this election, or 1200 votes to be an alternate.  Wish me luck.  :-)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Oh. Well, that's all right, then.

We want to ensure everyone has the portrait of their choice. So now that we have made the UI clearer we will give all characters who have already completed character customization a chance to recustomize. This will be a one-time recustomization to be used during the grace period.
Quote from http://www.eveonline.com/devblog.asp?a=blog&bid=846

Since every toon gets a free do-over on customization, I went ahead and did new toons for my three mains.  I'll look at them for a few weeks and decide if I want a re-do after that.

I know I want to redo my main alt, though.  She's only the second toon I did with the new tool.  Despite virtually everyone else's inability to find a way to get a good Gallente face-stretch, I managed to stumble into it somehow.

In short, she looks like she should be marrying Prince Charles.

I got the facial expression that I wanted, though, including the Spockian eyebrow.  But virtually everything else is wrong.  Most of the female hairstyles... oy.

So now it remains to be seen how much the recustomization will allow.  Just the final panel with lighting, pose, and expression?  Or will redoing hair-style and facial structure be allowed as well?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Fit of the Week: Standard Cane

[Hurricane, Sexual Tyrannosaurus]
Damage Control II
Gyrostabilizer II
Gyrostabilizer II
Gyrostabilizer II
Nanofiber Internal Structure II
Nanofiber Internal Structure II

10MN MicroWarpdrive II
Warp Scrambler II
Invulnerability Field II
Large Shield Extender II

425mm AutoCannon II, Republic Fleet EMP M
425mm AutoCannon II, Republic Fleet EMP M
425mm AutoCannon II, Republic Fleet EMP M
425mm AutoCannon II, Republic Fleet EMP M
425mm AutoCannon II, Republic Fleet EMP M
425mm AutoCannon II, Republic Fleet EMP M
Medium Energy Neutralizer II
Medium Energy Neutralizer II

Medium Anti-EM Screen Reinforcer I
Medium Core Defence Field Extender I
Medium Core Defence Field Extender I

Warrior II x5
Light Armor Maintenance Bot I x1

This is one of my favorite ships to fly.  The Cane has so much going for it: good speed, great damage, decent tank, and a lot of flexibility.  The range is no great shakes: this fit can only shoot out to about 1.5+12 with high damage EMP ammo, or 3+17 with Barrage.  But with 1500m/s speed (2100m/s overheated), it's quite capable of closing range and features cruiser-class agility.  I've decloaked a Recon that jumped through a gate to me with this fit, though granted, that Recon was burning back to gate to get away from me.  ;-)  But it's not an easy ship like a Drake.  I lost a number of these until I learned to fly them well.  It's a ship that rewards player skill rather than pilot skill.

There are a number of variants to this basic package.  There's enough power for a second LSE2, or plenty of spare CPU if you want to fit a Tracking Enhancer or even a fourth Gyro.  But I like the balance between speed, tank, and DPS that the combination above gives, particularly for small-gang work with no Vulture along.  If you do have a mindlinked Vulture, though, by all means, add the second LSE2 instead of the Invul and rely on the Vulture for your resists.  In that case, this ship becomes a buffed monster.  Similarly, if you have a Sleipnir or Claymore in your gang to provide extra agility and speed, the Cane becomes a different but equally scary kind of monster.

I tend to run with an overheated Scram in this fit, which makes it great as a heavy tackle, but not so good as initial tackle.  I rely on the other members of my gang for the initial tackle.  Nothing wrong with putting a point on yours.  And again, I've mixed Nano and DC2 (maybe that's a signature move on my part?) but in this case, the combination makes sense.  The Cane has a ton of native armor and the DC2 only makes it stronger.

Finally, this fit demonstrates another interesting point about 0.0 logistics.  Those that want 0.0 logistics made much more difficult often discount the difficulties of living in deep 0.0.  Production, especially T2 production, is high on that list.  "Just gather what you need locally," is the normal rallying cry of this set, but let's look at this Cane closely.  It uses:
  • T2 Minmatar guns, Gyros, MWD, Scram, and Nano, all from Minmatar 0.0;
  • T2 LSE and Invul, from Caldari 0.0, plus shield rigs, salvage for which is found primarily in Caldari space;
  • T2 neuts, from Amarr 0.0; and,
  • a T2 Damage Control, from Gallente 0.0.
Truly a ship that pulls together the best from all of EVE, no?  In other words, there's no place in 0.0 that you can build this ship without being heavily reliant on other 0.0 regions.  This is one of the reasons it will take an 8.0 earthquake to shake EVE into the little competing fiefdoms that CCP Greyscale wants...

Immersion -1

I finally figured out what's been bothering me about the new EVE character creator the last 24 hours or so.


When using the new character creator, we're supposed to be focusing on faces (and maybe a bit on bodies) this go-around, and not so much on clothes and accessories. More clothes and accessories will be added later, either for free or for uPLEX. I've decided I'm going to delay redoing my three mains until the last possible moment, hoping for more free options. We'll see.

In the meantime, though, the entire EVE universe feels a little flatter and much closer to our own world. Well, our world circa the 1980s, anyway. Everyone wears a pair of sweat pants, a tank top, either a vest or a Members Only jacket, and Top Gun aviators. The hairstyles, similarly, are right out of Fast Times at Ridgemont High (OK, the Phoebe Cates bob is missing, and trust me, I looked
). Make-up, ditto.  Tattoos, out entirely.  The only thing missing to make the 1980s motif complete are bangles and dangly earrings.  And this is the ultimate sci-fi simulator, taking place millenia in the future?

Even the faces feel much blander and flatter. On the one hand, I'm happy, because my Achura characters are no longer RPG game Asian stereotypes. On the other hand, I'm sad, because there are no RPG game Asian stereotypes.

So, yeah. EVE's immersion just got turned down a few notches. Which is damn ironic if you think about it, considering the toons are much more realistic.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Incursion 1.1

Freddie Mercury says to go make your new avatar.


That's what he's saying.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Quote of the Week: "[Un]desirable macro-scale outcomes."

From part three of the December CSM Summit minutes, from the discussion about Jump Bridges:
“[CCP has] gone [too far] in the direction of making players lives easy – we've got jump freighters and jump bridges and all this [stuff] – and I think there is an agreement here [at CCP] that we want to pull back from that. We would like to pull back as far as we can get away with. But how far can we go?” The underlying point is the need to get a balance between avoiding frustration and getting desirable macro-scale outcomes.
I like this quote for two reasons:

1. The accurate transcription.  I doubt they were talking about "all this stuff", don't you?  ;-)
2. That phrase "desirable macro-scale outcomes".  From now on, I'm going to stop using the phrase "unintended consequences" and start using the phrase "undesirable macro-scale outcomes."  :-)

Missing in action

I've been told that Vuk Lau was not present in Iceland for the December 2010 summit, which means he wasn't in the room when the CSM said in one voice to smite jump bridges.  Quote is Trebor Daehdoow, another member of the CSM.

Vuk was not at the December summit. I don't know if he has stated his opinion on these issues publicly -- though he has privately.

Wonder what he thinks about it?

Fiddler on the roof

"Get rid of jump bridges."

I've heard this phrase more than a dozen times in various contexts in the last week.  But nobody puts quite a spin on the phrase the way Mord Fiddle does it in his latest blog entry.

The entry is complete genius, and he's completely right from start to finish.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

CSM December 2010 Minutes, Part 3

Part three of the minutes are out:
CSM December 2010 Summit, Minutes Part 3 of 3

Go check 'em out.  I'll wait.

Done?  OK, cool.  There's two things going on here:
1. Some major hostility from the Incarna team directed toward the CSM, and not a little bit flowing in the opposite direction.  This document has been washed and washed and washed yet a third time, and the hostility still comes shining through like a cyno beacon.  Wow.

Here's a good quote:
CCP asked for this meeting to introduce to the CSM their plans for the new player experience and the captain’s quarters planned for Incarna and get their initial reactions to the vision. This cannot be elaborated on further due to disclosure reasons, but the CSM provided invaluable insights...
In other words, the CSM despised it   Tea's bitterness on the SHC forums is becoming easier and easier to understand.

2. The Part 3 document was basically the CCP Greyscale show.  He obviously has a terrific relationship with the CSM, and that's great.  But damn.  This is a 12-page document.  Greyscale appears on page three, and doesn't get off the stage until page 12.  You'd think that there was nobody else in the room except he and the members of the CSM that were present.

Some good quotes:
CCP’s response was that it ranked rebalancing overpowered ships and items as a higher priority than balancing unused items – fixing problems with things that are being used rather to fixing problems with those that are not.  The CSM responded that when something is not being used, that is a symptom of a problem.
 Hee!  You think?

There was apparently also a long discussion about hybrid weapons platforms.  Blasters do terrific damage and rails have great range, but honestly, there's no good reason to use either.  The range of blasters is -- in a word -- pathetic.  The damage from rails is equally so.  The truly hysterical thing about blasters, in my view, is that the ships that get bonuses to them are the Gallente ones: typically one of the slowest, if not the slowest, types of ships in the game.  Short range damage + slow ship = fail.

Napoleonic warships had a weapon called a carronade.  It was an extremely strong punch weapon with an extremely short range, very much like an EVE blaster.  Carronades were used on warships for only about 30-40 years, from 1770 to 1810.  Why did they go out of fashion?  The Wikipedia article sums it up beautifully:  "...the carronade's lack of range against an opponent who could keep well clear and still use his long guns was an arguable tactical disadvantage of this arrangement."

This will sound very familiar to anyone who has tried to use a blaster boat against... well... anything.

American warships favored the carronade highly.  Why?  Because the largest American warship from 1770 to 1810 was a 44-gun frigate.  It was a weapon perfectly suited to the American Navy's small, fast ships.

Anyway, the rest of the document spends a lot of time with Greyscale as he talks to the CSM.  The most interesting part of the document?  CCP is considering completely doing away with jump bridges, and feels that the jump mechanic in the game in general is broken.  I've already spoken of this before and my own feelings on it just a few posts down.  I personally feel that completely doing away with JBs is a bad idea: how exactly are people living in remote areas of low-sec going to get PvP opportunities?

Greyscale's answer seems to be "from their immediate neighbors."  This, unfortunately, is unrealistic at best and blatantly naive at worst.  Greyscale means well, but he clearly doesn't play EVE (irony!).  You'd have to make changes to the terrain of EVE on a scale of an 8.0 earthquake to make this idea viable.  Interestingly, though, Greyscale seems very open to that.  Does the rest of CCP feel the same way?

However, this exchange is the most interesting one in the entire December 2010 summit, as far as I'm concerned:
The CSM was somewhat divided on how aggressive CCP should be with any nerfing. However, one CSM suggested, with respect to the nerfing of jump bridges, “get rid of them.”
Greyscale: “Anyone disagree with that?”
CSM response varied between “Nope,” “Nah” and a simple “No”.
That is interesting.  A lot of people on SHC seemsto think that the NC will tearfully collapse without the JBs.  And yet, the NC's representative on the CSM (Vuk Lau) apparently voted along with the rest of the CSM to nuke them.  SHC readers, take note...

Edit (17/Jan/2010): Vuk Lau wasn't there.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Micro-transactions confirmed

Major props to bigmac on SHC for spotting this.  Quote is him, not me:
Since November, I think, there has been an in-game reference to 'uPLEX'. I read that as "micro-plex". Maybe CCP is considering the conversion of GTCs into either PLEX or uPLEX, with the latter being used to fund microtransactions.

Open your wallet, select the dropdown for "REF TYPE" on the Journal tab. Scroll down and you'll see a line that reads, "Modify uPLEX". It looks like some of the game code is already in place.
That's an excellent catch.  Micro-transactions confirmed.  Or all but.

Not sure what I think about this...

EVE Online has won mmorpg.com's 2010 Game of the Year.

To go full Dogbert: on one paw, I'm extremely happy.  EVE's the only MMO I play, I enjoy it immensely, and publicity like this can only help the game.  EVE is built around a structure where more players means more fun (and more ISK) for everyone.  And if EVE is successful, CCP is successful, and the game will be around for years to come.  All positives.

On the other paw, CCP itself tends to put too much weight into these sorts of things: they see it as a scary little form of self-validation.  In my experience, you can't take awards too seriously.  Sure, put them in the commercials.  Use them for good PR.  But don't believe them.  Not really.  That way lies complacency.

The percentages of votes for the various MMOs bothers me, too.  WoW has something like 12 million subscribers.  EVE has 350,000: about 3% of what WoW can boast.  Did the WoW players just not hear about the poll?  EVE players tend to be extremely... ummm... "vocal" about the game they play...

Cheap and easy logistics

I'm in the midst of a long, and often-repeating-itself discussion on Scrapheap Challenge about EVE logistics in general and Jump Bridges in particular.  As far as I'm concerned, the topic is also strongly linked to the proliferation of supercaps in the game, super carriers especially.

I've been involved in at least three threads on this topic so far:

There are arguments on SHC that Jump Bridges should either be heavily nerfed or removed from the game completely.  Apparently, this was a topic of brief discussion at the CSM December Summit as well; the talking points should be in part three of the minutes, which Teadaze says will be released tomorrow (Monday seems more likely).

CCP says -- and I completely agree with this, by the way -- that 0.0 logistics in the game are too easy and they never intended Jump Bridges to proliferate the way that they have.  A glance at the Northern Coalition JB map bears this out.  There are many stretches of NC space where JBs link systems with only one or two stargates between them.  There are many more where you can cross entire regions using only three or four jumps.  I'm sure the JB maps for other parts of the galaxy are just as extensive.

That said, JBs are only infrequently used for logistics, in my experience.  I've been in two alliances with JB networks now and while you'll occasionally see freighters moving through them, most of the time, those freighters are carrying infrastructure upgrades that can't be carried any other way.  Alternately, you'll occasionally see a freighter plying a long string of a JB chain, but most often this is either someone moving into, or out of, a new 0.0 alliance.  Not a common occurrence, in other words.  Again -- in my experience -- most 0.0 logistics is done with jump freighters and carriers.  The JFs and carriers will only get on the bridges for that last jump, to their home system.  These days, nearly every 0.0 alliance cyno-jams their home station system.  The JFs and carriers have no other way of performing that final jump, except through the bridge.  People in other 0.0 alliances with JBs tell me that their networks are used much the same way.

And yet, a goodly number SHC posters gleefully agree with the idea of smiting the JBs, visions of easy freighter ganks in their eyes.  They've got this idea that without the JBs, suddenly there are going to be freighter escort ops all over 0.0.  Logical evidence to the contrary usually works (this is a major difference between SHC and the EVE-O forums).  You point out that 0.0 logistics aren't going to change.  You then point out some of the unintended consequences of smiting the JBs.  The thread quickly goes silent.  But then a few weeks go by and someone starts a new thread about it without reading the old ones.

So in my view, 0.0 logistics is not happening over the JB network.  Someone should tell me if I'm wrong about this, but I don't think I am.

No, part of what the JBs get used for is moving gank fleets around your home space quickly.  And there's definitely a problem there.  You can't roam in NC space without a counter-roam fleet being gathered, put on the JB chain, and put on a gate in front of you, ready to blob you out of existence.  And if you retreat the other way, the counter-fleet just rides the JB backwards along your trail to get in front of you again.  That's not cool.

On the flip-side, the JBs are also used to get fleets out of deep 0.0 quickly and into the more PvP-friendly parts of 0.0.  This is very cool.  It makes every part of 0.0 viable as a place to live and yet get some fun PvP from.  I don't hear about a lot of roaming fleets in Tenal, Period Basis, or Cobalt Edge.  No, your small gang fights happen in places like Provi, Pure Blind, Great Wildlands, and Syndicate.  In my experience, a PvP gang will fly no more than 15-20 jumps before you better give them some PvP.  That means, wherever you live in EVE, you'd better be able to get to one of those PvP-friendly areas in 15 jumps or less.  If you're, say, Intrepid Crossing living in Cobalt Edge, the only way to get small gang PvP in 15 jumps or less is Jump Bridges.  Take out the JBs, and you make these areas of deep 0.0 non-viable as a place to live.

The problem, though, is that supercaps are proliferating like mad and are threatening small gang PvP in EVE.  Part of this can be tied right back to 0.0 logistics.  It takes a ton of minerals to make a Nyx.  But 0.0 logistics is so cheap right now that to make a Nyx, you just get your minerals in Empire, compress them by manufacturing them into 425mm Railgun Is, move the railguns to 0.0 via Jump Freighter, reprocess them back into minerals, and then build your Nyx.  Hell, I've heard that some alliances are skipping a few steps and just building carriers in low-sec, jumping the carriers into 0.0, then reprocessing the carriers back into capital parts, and starting the build that way.  If that doesn't demonstrate that 0.0 logistics is too cheap, nothing does.

(I'll have more to say about mineral compression in a later post, because I have pretty strong opinions about it, and how to fix it.)

So, when you try to take a small PvP gang into a PvP-friendly area, then find and tackle an Arazu, the thing lights a cyno and 30 super carriers land on your face.  Not cool.  It not only makes small gang PvP not-fun, it directly hurts EVE's ability to encourage lesser-skilled players to try this PvP thing.  Super carriers have even made their way into Faction Warfare, which scares me to death.  FW used to be a haven for frigate/destroyer/cruiser gangs.  Now they have 15 billion super caps.  How's a brand new PvP'er supposed to deal with that?

So yeah, I agree: there's two major problems here: JBs are proliferating far too much.  And JF, carrier, and super carrier jumps are far too cheap and easy.

How to fix it?  I have some ideas.  But this post is too long already, so I'll save that for my next post.

Kill of the Week: Glass Cannon Titan

Every single little thing about this exudes wonderful:

My top 10 favorite things about this kill:

10. The fact that a Hel got top damage.  How ironic.
9. The Tech I Trimarks.  It's sort of a budget Titan.
8. The fact that he's carrying 23 faction MF laser crystals... for two different factions.
7. The 30 Radio crystals.  Not only would it take you about six years to burn out 30 crystals, but with those loaded, this Titan does about 350 DPS.  My sniper Zealot does more than that.
6. The utter lack of drones on the KM.  For reference, an Avatar has a 325m3 drone bay.  Where were they?
5. The MicroWarpdrive.  The deadspace MicroWarpdrive.  That increases this Titan's speed by about 25 m/s.
4. More subtle: he's carrying a Jump Portal Generator worth a half billion.  According to his buddies, this toon doesn't have bridging skills.
3. The T2 tank.  In his cargo hold.  Which apparently wasn't worth fitting before taking this Titan into PvP.
2. The guy's corp name.  Is that classic or what?
1. The Sisters Core Probes in the cargo hold. Chances are this was a ratting Titan that unfit its probe launcher for the DD...

Bonus thing to love: many of this guy's DD kills are against friendlies.  But sometimes, he DDs an enemy.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

CSM December 2010 Minutes, Part 2

Part 2 of 3 of the minutes for the CSM December 2010 Summit are out:
CSM December 2010 Summit, Minutes Part 2 of 3

Here's part 1 for those who might have missed it:
CSM December 2010 Summit, Minutes Part 1 of 3

And just for completion's sake, here's the full minutes of the June summit:
CSM June 2010 Summit, Minutes

Pardon me, while I settle in to read the latest stuff (it's a 20-page document).


OK, right, interesting stuff.  Here's some things that jumped out at me:

Hilmar responded that while he still believes that diversifying into microtransactions is an important step, the guidance and feedback from the CSM was extremely helpful.
Uhhh... huh. OK, so CCP definitely hasn't given up on micro-transactions. They're coming. The only question is when and how. The how question is only partially answered in the minutes: "only vanity items, no game-changing effects" using "fractional PLEX".

EVE QA cannot veto the deployment of a feature, but does provide risk assessments and recommendations that carry significant weight in those decisions.
::blinks:: Wait. So if a new feature is completely broken, and QA reports it's broken, QA's position that it's completely broken only carries "significant weight" on the delivery decision. This... explains a lot. I was glad to see the CSM ask a couple of follow-up questions about this, but the follow-up should have been pursued a little more strongly still.  

CSM asked how much “passing around of the hot potato” happens when a bug, for example, occurs that is not clearly identifiable as a Core or EVE software responsibility.
I would love to know who asked this question. What a fantastic question. Not surprising at all that CCP side-stepped it. Again, should have been followed-up more strongly.

So far, the December minutes seem much more thoroughly white-washed than the June minutes.