28 March 2015

Fanfest 2015 - Prelude

I had thought 2013 was going to be my only visit to Fanfest but several months ago the group who met in Iceland that year started to make plans for a return. This time around Fanfest was held earlier in the year so it would coincide with the solar eclipe which was set to be 98% totality when viewed from Iceland. Combining that with a chance to meet up with my space buddies again how could I refuse? Tickets were booked relatively late meaning I couldn't take advantage of any Iceland Air package deals. It worked out much better for me to fly with EasyJet anyway as they do direct flights from Edinburgh and also fly at respectable hours. Last time I stayed in the Cabin Hotel which was a 40 minute walk from Harpa so I decided I was going to stay much closer this time. One of my friends was already booked into  Hotel Leifur Eiriksson so I managed to secure a room there as well. Only 10 minutes walk from Harpa I was in a much better shape should I need to nip back to my room at any point.

Abandoning my family on the Tuesday before Fanfest I flew into Iceland and was immediately captured by the CCP gatecamp at the arrivals gate. The CCP party bus took a coach-load of EVE players to Reykjavik whilst feeding us beers. I was sat next to CCP Archduke who made sure I had a beer in my hand at all times. He works in the Dust514 customer support department and spent a portion of the bus journey trying to convince me to update my Dust client and give the game another try. I promised I would. After a little confusion about where I should be dropped for my hotel I was left slightly merry in the town centre to walk up the hill to my hotel. After so many beers so quickly I definitely needed a walk to burn them off a bit.

I got checked into my hotel, dumped my stuff then headed out to meet my corpies at the nearby Cafe Loki. Sadly one couple were unable to travel to Iceland due to illness which left just five of us from the previous excursion to Fanfest. This meant there was plenty of space to fit around a couple of tables whilst trying some traditional Icelandic food. I stuck with the very tasty meat soup whilst others tried rye bread with some sort of hashed fish topping. Another beer or two was consumed before we decided to head down to the Celtic Cross. On the way we were treated to a nice show of the Aurora Borealis which I later learned was visible a long way south. As may be guessed from the name the Celtic Cross is an Irish pub and we were descending on it during St. Patrick's day. This meant much drinking and the night grew fuzzy rapidly. After talking with so many people I can't remember I eventually made it back to my hotel around one in the morning.
Inside the Celtic Cross was this blurry for me too!

The following day was Wednesday and my little group had arranged to go horse riding. something I'd never done before. CCP had the great idea to start issuing passes early this time around so we met early at the Harpa to collect ours. I wasn't able to collect mine due to being on a Fansite ticket but everyone else got sorted out and we headed off to the collection point for horse riding. A short hop out of Reykjavic and we were at the √ćshestar riding centre. The people there were wonderfully friendly and after a short introductory video on how to control their Icelandic horses we were fitted up with helmets and introduced to our horses. I managed to get up into the saddle without any of the comedic falls over the other side which you see in silly films. I was first to mount so had a decent time to try and become accustomed to sitting on the back of a living, breathing animal. It felt weird.

Before long we were off out following a soft trail laid over the lava fields. It was a little windy and snowing ever so gently but I was plenty warm. I'd by lying if I said I had any actual control over the horse. He know the route and followed it well. This became all the more evident when the five of us tried to line up for a group shot and my horse wouldn't move. If you're going to Fanfest and have a spare day you should definitely try some horse riding. These horses are small so even if you do fall (and nobody came close to) you don't have far to go.
Look at your man and back at me, I'm on horse

Dinner that evening had been booked at the slightly fancy 3 Frakkar restaurant. In 2013 we totally failed to get a table there so this time around we booked two months in advance. The focus on the menu here is traditional Icelandic food. I finally tried the fermented shark (Hakarl) I'd been avoiding and gagged on it. I tried smoked puffin which tasted smoky and mustardy and quite nice actually, I struggled with the raw texture though. I passed on the raw Minky whale 'cooked' in lemon juice. My main was Atlantic Salmon which was very tasty indeed. A slightly pricey place to eat but the food is truly wonderful. You should go.
Outside my hotel

With our many months old booking finally fulfilled we headed back to the Celtic Cross but the Tweetfleet meetup was happening so there was no chance of us getting in there. After the excesses of the previous night we decided that would be a good point to call it a day and head home for a sleep. Tomorrow was the first day of Fanfest.

15 March 2015

Fanfest 2015

Finally, it is but two days until I board my flight to Iceland for Fanfest 2015. Those of you who've read my blog long enough will remember I went to Fanfest in 2013 with a number of my corp mates. This time around the same group were all booked to go but one couple had to pull out at the last minute due to ill health - get well soon Brodit! I'll be thinking of you, mate!

I fly out to Iceland on Tuesday and will be staying for seven whole days this time. Learning my lesson from last year, when I stayed at the Cabin hotel, I booked significantly closer this time around. With a bit of luck I should have a nice view of Hallgr√≠mskirkja from my room or, failing that, at least a nice view when I leave the hotel to walk down to the Harpa conference centre.

As I went on the Golden Circle tour last time I was there I have Wednesday pretty free at the moment. The weather looks a bit crazy there so I'm going to play it by ear what I get up to that day. I understand early registration is possible so I should at least take care of that; standing in the biting wind in 2013 was not fun especially considering I was wearing my kilt!

Party at the Top of the World 2013 : No idea who was playing by this point!
I installed the guidebook.com app CCP are using this year to digitally distribute their schedule and I've marked down the things I'm interested in going to see. I can't figure out how to share this so other people can see what talks I'm going to even though it appears the app supports that. If I figure it out you should be able to find me on that with the unsurprising name of 'Oreamnos Amric'.

My rough schedule just now looks like this:

Thursday 19th:
12:00 pm : Welcome to Fanfest and the Future of VR
 1:00 pm : A Brutor Guide to Empyrean Health
 2:00 pm : Game Design Panel
 3:25 pm : EVE Fan Art
 4:00 pm : Bro, do you even test?!
 5:00 pm : EVE Online Keynote

Friday 20th:
 8:30 am : Solar Eclipse Viewing
11:00 am : Community Fansites
12:00 pm : Make EVE Real - Creating Planetary Civilizations
 1:00 pm : Crowd Science in EVE Online
 2:00 pm : Evolution of the CSM
 3:00 pm : Data Science Behind EVE
 4:00 pm : Zero to HERO: How to be an FC
 4:25 pm : The Importance of Building Relationships
 5:00 pm : Worlds Collide
 9:00 pm : Pub Crawl

Saturday 21st:
11:00 am : From Science Fiction to Science Fact
12:00 pm : Wormholes round table
 1:00 pm : Future Vision of Structures
 3:00 pm : CCP Security - Better Safe Than Sorry!
 4:00 pm : EVE: Valkyrie Rumble in Reykjavik - Semi-Finals and Final
 5:00 pm : Closing Ceremony
 8:00 pm : Party at the Top of the World

Sunday 22nd:
10:30 am : Blue Lagoon Hangover Party

To be clear, any and all of the above might change depending on what the people I am meeting up with fancy doing. In particular I'm still swaying over the pubcrawl with a dev and may yet buy a ticket for that.

If you want to catch up with me the above list is a good place to start. Failing that, send me a tweet @Oreamnos_Amric and I can let you know where I'm hiding. Above all, if you're going to Fanfest I hope you have a bloody good time. If you're not going, well, nya! nya! :-p

Edit : Just 'accidentally' bought a ticket for the pub crawl with a dev. See you there!

12 March 2015

Terry Pratchett

Terry Pratchett, 1948-2015

"So much universe, and so little time."


I meant to post about the CSM elections before the voting ended but life and some actually playing EVE got in the way. I hope you all voted. I took the lazy way out and followed the listing posted by Sugar Kyle. I enjoy reading her blog and believe her focus is on fixing the game in the best way possible rather than trying to eke out some edge for herself. I trust she picked candidates she thinks will align best with her beliefs so her list is likely better than anything my under-informed self could ever come up with.

To be honest I've felt somewhat underwhelmed by the CSM this past year. I can't entirely put my finger on why that is. There may be some element of feeling that CCP paid less attention to them than the past couple of CSMs. Hearing that they all cliqued up against their own member, Funky Bacon, was a negative against them too. That smacks of poor professionalism and leaves a bad taste in the mouth. Anyway, their year is almost over. If the majority of people feel the same as I do then there will be a large changing of the guard for CSM X. Hopefully that will reset things and a better CCP:CSM relationship will be borne for 2015/16.

23 February 2015

An Evening of Agony

Agony Unleashed have been running monthly public roams for some time now. I had not managed to make it on of these roams so when an evemail arrived last weekend announcing the February roam I started making plans. First of all I forwarded on the mail to my entire alliance to try and draw more of us from our wormholes; the best experiences you have in EVE are the ones you can share with friends and talk about later. I attracted two more Zeroites to come on the roam with me - Kennesaw and Epigene. The three of us made our way to Stacmon with our destroyers of choice: a Thrasher for Kennesaw; a Catalyst for Epigene; and a Serpentis Catalyst for myself. I also had three spares available for the inevitable loss of ships I expected to occur.

Getting everyone into the fleet was quick and efficient and before long we had a fleet of around 55 pilots ready to head out. We were introduced to our FC for the night, Itkovian Beddict, and we set off for Dastryns to pick up our fleet mates afflicted with low sec-status. With our first jump into lowsec time was taken to remind everyone how to follow orders - anchoring on the FC, burning to get in position, and aligning ready for warping as a single unit. It was while practicing these maneuvers that the FC uttered the quote of the night - "Is... is that a Drake?!". It really was a Drake but I'm fairly certain it was a troll-Drake as the pilot didn't take much persuading to reship to a Destroyer lest he be left behind to die.

With the amusement and practice out of the way we set route for Vestouve and were on our way. Very quickly we ran into a Suddenly Spaceships Battlecruiser gang in Aunsou. To my shock, delight and amazement we engaged and killed 10 of their ships, including two T1 logi. We then killed another pair of Ishtars from another corp who wandered a little to close to us. The battle report is more than a little confused. With much excitement and rejoicing over what just happened we headed back to Stacmon so those who lost their ships could get new ones. Only half an hour into the roam and we had killed over a billion ISK with our Destroyer fleet. Superb!

After everyone had reshipped we set back out on the same path towards Vestouve. This time we made it all the way there before one of the scouts called in tackle on a Nightmare. Could we really take that with our fleet? Turns out we probably could have but that Nightmare burned away from us at almost 2000 m/s. That speed was just with an afterburner fit! I had no idea they could go that fast. Once he burned out of tackle range he warped off to a station and an Archon undocked in place of the Nightmare. Attempting to kill that would be pointless so we moved on and into nullsec.

We didn't have to go far to get properly engaged for fight number two. This time we found a cruiser gang and buoyed with the knowledge of how the Battlecruisers faired against us I knew how this was probably going to go. We engaged and took out a further five ships including a taste 600 Mil Orthus. It was at this point I realised my 1600 rounds of Spike ammo were dangerously low. I had never expected to live this long so didn't want to load too much ammo destined to simply appear on a killmail. Sadly we didn't encounter anybody else willing to take us on for a fight and I managed to restock my ammo on a brief cross-hisec jump we made. It turned out I needn't have worried as our final prowl around lowsec yielded us no targets willing to engage us.

My many thanks go out to Agony Unleashed for organising these regular NPSI roams. Also thanks to Itkovian Beddict for being a great FC. Thanks to the people scouting for him too, they were awesome. If you are interested in dipping your toes deeper into PvP (and you really should) you would do a lot worse than joining the in-game mailing list 'AGONY PVP UNI' and watching for an email announcing the next one. Rumour was it should be in the middle of March.

16 February 2015

Sore Winners

I logged in on Friday night to the wonderful words - "site running Domi in the new 3a1". Who could possibly turn down an opportunity like that? The few of us who were on scrambled for something appropriate but before we could get ourselves sorted the Domi cleared the site, warped back to his POS, and got into a scanning boat. Our target was evidentally paying enough attention to notice the new sig we created in his system. We figured the game was up and shipped down to something more appropriate for killing a scanning frigate. If we couldn't kill his Domi the least we could do was kill him, send him to k-space, then run his sites. Time passed and we discussed exactly how many of the sigs he hadn't scanned before starting his PvE session. More time passed and we started to think the chap had maybe died at his keyboard. Eventually he appeared uncloaked at range from the hole to our home. I speculated that the uncloakedness was a ploy to bait people into prematurely attacking him before he jumped into our hole to check it out. What happened next was surprising.

After he, presumably, bookmarked our wormhole connection he didn't jump though to see who had opened it. Instead he went back to his POS, got in his Domi and started running another site. Caught slightly off-guard we fled back to our POS to reship once more and formed up ready to take the second bite at this giant flying space-potato. First on grid was our Eris to gain initial tackle with a bubble. The Eris didn't make it away and when our Onyx landed the Domi pilot decided to make the most of his situation by also podding the Eris pilot. With that out of his system the Domi died and we spent so long enough discussing if we should ransom the pilot that he self destructed his pod.

With the initial excitement over we settled down to scan the constellation and get our podded pilot and one other corpie back home. This went fairly straight forward and as our pilots headed towards the entrance I hung out in our 3a1 looking for signs of life from any of our victim's friends (likely alts in a five man corp). At the same time I also piloted my hauler to the entrance system with a selection of PvP ships to replace my terribly dwindling supply. Everything was quiet in our constellation until someone noticed scanning probes in our home hole. I warped back just in time to join in the fight against a random tengu which had appeared from out of nowhere. He teased us for a while with his massive shield tank - repeatedly boosting from 50% back up to 100% shield - before jumping out of our hole and warping away. I shipped back to my cloaky Proteus as it was the highest dps ships I had at the time and we awaited his return.

As we waited we took time to find out where he came from. Oh yeah, a new sig in our home system. Almost certainly this Tengu was over-tanked and baiting us in for all his friends to turn up. Sure enough the Tengu waited out his polarisation timer and jumped back into us. We had a scout jump into their hole to see exactly what was awaiting us. Our scout reporting "There's a whole shit load of ships in here waiting to jump in" confirmed our suspicions. Never not take bait is a phrase I picked up from another blogger and it definitely applied now. We went in; we took bait; bait jumped back to the 3a1; we followed knowing bait's friends would now block the route home; we still couldn't break bait's tank. Damnit...

With 8% of my armour left I had to bow out from the fight and take my chances warping back to a POS. Miraculously I managed to get away and so did everyone else. We lost the fight hands down but didn't lose a single ship we had on field. And so the butt-hurt crap began in local:

Admiral Synergy > fucking pussies
Evan Roc > pussies
Admiral Synergy > might as well just self destruct your ships
Evan Roc > lame kid , lame
Admiral Synergy > All you illusion of solitude guys are the same
Admiral Synergy > Run for the POS as soon as there's more than 1 ship on grid
Admiral Synergy > 7 t3's vs 1 tengu..... Yeah, you sure had me......
Oreamnos Amric > dude, seriously? You just outnumbered us and kicked our arses.
Admiral Synergy > You have minimum 8 pilots and this is your home wormhole.
Admiral Synergy > We have 7 in fleet......
Admiral Synergy > You really suck at shit talking.
Admiral Synergy > So, you going to fight or not?
Oreamnos Amric > you suck at wining a fight
Admiral Synergy > You outnumbered us and this is your home wormhole so you can reship... AND YOU RAN.
Oreamnos Amric > you let us go
Oreamnos Amric > you fought us, we lost. you didn't hold points.
From my point of view it was an evenly matched fight in numbers but they had a massive advantage in fleet composition. There was a Tengu and Loki we were fighting in 3a1 but they also had a whole load of neuts and ewar awaiting inside our hole. We were all ragtag as we usually are. To say I was surprised to get away when I jumped home is to understate my emotions somewhat. I was totally stumped when I found out we suffered no losses at all. I'll never understand how that is even possible. Given their numbers and our numbers we should have lost at least one ship. So my thanks go to Admiral Synergy and his friends at Awakened Ones. We like to fight even if we're not that great at it. We tend to take fights as long as there's a vague possibility we might win. There's no dishonour in leaving a fight you already lost. We should have lost several of our ships in that fight but you were wonderful and let us disengage with ease. Next time though, win with a bit more grace. It's more becoming of you.