20 July 2014

A piece of history

In less than three weeks my alliance will be two years old. Since I started writing this blog I have progressed from being just another pilot in my corp to the leader of my very own alliance. Said alliance was borne out of some unfortunate circumstances which I have no real inclination to go over now. Suffice to say the original two corps which formed Illusion of Solitude were part of the wormhole purge of Li3 Federation as it marched its hammers into sovereign nullsec space.

Today I was checking out the number of pilots in Illusion of Solitude for a little birthday raffle I'm preparing for us when I had a sudden idea. I decided to check how the relative size of Illusion of Solitude was fairing against the size of the Li3 war machine.

I have to admit I felt a little smug at that. Now I know the bulk of Li3 have merged into some new nullsec alliance but I also know there would have been no place for wormhole corps in that new alliance even if we were still around. I guess back in 2012 I just got a massive headstart to build the wonderful alliance I still call home today.

SMUG POST ENDS...

15 July 2014

Let's End Asteroid Belts

There are some systems in New Eden which have a ridiculous number of asteroid belts. The top ten most populous have between 38 and 50 belts each. This is an absurd amount of belts in any one of those systems. Taking just the 50 from the top system and spreading those around the rest would be an improvement but still too many in my opinion. I also don't get the logic of making them all so small. Back in the dark days when I played EVE solo I would happily spend a Saturday or Sunday mining my way through an entire asteroid belt or two whilst doing other stuff around the house. I would do this with a single Hulk which offloaded to an Orca every now and then. Where is the idea that one ship could possibly mine a failed attempt at planet formation anywhere close to logical?

It's time for CCP to end this madness. Static asteroid belts need to go and what replaces them needs to grow. In wormholes the only mining offered to us is in ore anomalies. These used to be signatures which required scanning but for some dumb reason that was changed to allow anyone to instantly warp to them. Now only insane (or insanely bored) pilots mine in w-space. I am aware that these anomalies also spawn in k-space but my proposal is that should be the only source of asteroid to mine. Return ore sites to be signatures once more and force the miners to go scanning for them. In hisec, as enticement to keep searching for new sites, add in occasional higher-end ores to beef up the ISK/hr metric that some people find so important. In lowsec increase that ratio and just maybe the added security of requiring probes to find the sites will get more people mining there too (but probably not). And make the belts five to ten times bigger than they currently are. Get some sense of ridiculously huge scale planted in there.
A belt, today, in hisec (feeling sleepy already?)
Finally, miners still complain about how boring it is to mine. Why not liven this up by adding in a variation of the hacking mini game? Each pilot would have to 'unlock' the asteroid before they can start mining from it. Unlocking would take the form of analysing the rock looking for the most precious seam of ore to extract. Successfully analyse the rock and your mining would yield a better form of the ore. You would extract Fiery Kernite instead of plain old Kernite.

Of course there are downsides to this plan. People who don't actually want to mine but feel they have to do it to make ISK will complain that they have to pay attention to the game in order to make ISK. My opinion here is that of course you should be paying attention to the game when you're earning ISK. ISK shouldn't be something which just flows into your wallet. In any case you're paying attention for gankers anyway, aren't you? Plus we just made it a little safer for you to mine away from these gankers whilst giving you a (real world) skill-based way (how fast can you click?) to increase your potential earnings. If that isn't enough, go do something else and one of two things will happen - the cost of minerals will increase until it is worth your time to go mining again or other people who're still happy with the ISK/hr ratio will keep mining.

It's time to shake up the mining industry. CCP let's get it done.

1 July 2014

Crius is coming

I finally noticed CCP Seagull published a devblog entitled 'Coming in Crius'. While I read most, if not all, of the blogs covering the changes in Crius I figured I should read over this one too in case I missed anything. I also decided to write about each section and how I think it will affect my life in wormholes. This is all based on the devblog and absolutely no testing has been done on Sisi.

A new experience for manufacturing, research, blueprint copying, invention and reverse engineering


The new user interface looks very nice to use. The left-to-right flow of input, process, and output appears pretty clear on what you have, what you need, and what you get. In the current system it was always annoying to gather all the things you thought you needed into the one location and then not find out you were 100 Tritanium short until you clicked that final button. This new UI looks like it will all be clear from the very beginning.

Dynamic pricing across the universe


I really like the idea of a dynamic workforce moving across the galaxy in search of the best wages. I never really considered there were actual people performing my research and manufacturing jobs. Much in the same way I never think about the lore of how many non-capsuleers there are aboard my ship at any one time. The removal of slots is quite a big thing for wormholes. In my corp we provide a research and manufacturing POS as a perk for the members. The bottleneck is most definitely the research lab slots. Now this bottleneck will shift to what people are willing to pay to have research carried out.

Travelling worker teams


This really continues on from the above section. These teams add a nice little twist to manufacturing in known space. I've no idea if we would be able to recruit specialised teams into our wormhole system, never mind if we would even want to.

Reprocessing renewed


The UI shown in the devblog is nicer than the current interface but the existing interface was good enough for what I needed. Unlike manufactoring, reprocessing was quite often a case of 'select all → reprocess' and see what minerals turned up in the hanger. For me, though, the real improvement here is the removal of the perfect refine. That never made sense to me. Even the best manufacturing process should produce some waste, and no recycling process can recover absolutely all the materials present in a given item. Adding these inefficiencies up struck a hollow note when hearing how people would haul masses of minerals around space by building then reprocessing 425mm railguns.

Blueprints and research


I don't really have an opinion on the changes to material efficiency and production efficiency. It's just replacing one set of numbers with a different set of numbers. For new players coming into the game it will be more intuitive I guess. When I didn't know better I would just research everything to 10 anyway. Thankfully I knew better by the time I acquired an Orca BPO.

Starbases


Living in a POS means this directly applies to me. It will finally be worthwhile reprocessing ore in a wormhole due to the k-space reprocessing nerf. We rarely bother to mine but when we do it was always a pain to accept the large refining loss or haul out to K-space to avoid that. Now we'll have a better yield in the wormhole. Yay, one less chore. Also the new compression array will be sweet should we ever go full carebear and start giant mining fleets munching on the ore sigs in our system. But what about the poor Rorqual? The other changes are mostly the removal of slots so see comments in other sections above. The only addition is the bonus to costs by anchoring more than one of a given module. We're not an industrial corp so I can't see me bothering to do that. In fact, where we already have more than one of a given module I'll probably be pulling the spare one down.

Dynamic station sound


The sound changes based on the amount and type of industrial activity going on in a station? That sound pretty cool actually (sounds... geddit??)

New API endpoints for industry features


I'm sure the community will release some cool new tools off the back of this. For me though it's a pretty 'Meh' thing.

Fleet Warp Opt-out


This is going to be hilarious on RvB Ganked roams when splinters of people get left behind and have no idea why. I must sort out some time to get on one of those roams, post-Crius.

Fit modules without having the required skills


From time to time I put together a selection of ships for corp or alliance roams. I have a 'janitor' character out near Amarr who takes care of this for me. Usually he just bundles all the pieces together in a contract and leaves the recipient to assemble the ship. Now I'll have the option to actually fit the ships properly (if I spend the SP on being able to sit in them in the first place). Maybe I'll finally have a reason to activate dual-training on that account.


So there we have it folks. My thoughts on the upcoming expansion patch release Crius thingy, which is coming to us on July 22nd.

27 June 2014

Handy Search Tip

For as long as I can remember there has been a search box at the top of hanger windows. In the wormhole I regularly use this feature to find any given ship by typing part of its name. To get an overview of all my own ships in our shared SMAs I can type my unique identifying characters into the search box and only my handful of ships show. As you can imagine this makes life much easier when 20+ people store their ships in the same place.

Many Ships
Name Search for 'Blue'
By complete accident the other day I discovered the search feature extends to ship types as well as ship name. I was hunting in our corp SMA for a particular ship with the letters 'mot' in the name. I didn't find the ship I wanted but another totally random ship appeared in the list whose name did not include the string 'mot'. It took a little while for me to realise I was looking at a Mammoth and that was why the match was made.

Type Search for 'Dominix'
Matches for 'nav' include Navitas and Navy Domi
I've already taken to this new found, and probably ancient, feature like a duck to water. Gone are the days hunting for familiar icons in the SMA window; now I can just type "noctis" when I want to bait people into shooting me. Hopefully some of you reading this post will also find this wonderful discovery useful to know too.

24 June 2014

Missed A Memo?

I've been flying around in wormholes for the past couple of weeks finding nothing but empty, offline POSs. This has lead to some paranoia on my part. Several times I've checked the overview settings, unticked the 'Use Active Overview Settings' tickbox on the d-scan. Nothing makes any difference.

I'm not going crazy. Really, probably not.
So what gives? Did I miss some memo that we all need to move out of wormholes. Is Illusion of Solitude about to become some unique relic of a time gone by when men were men and corps survived in the most inhospitable part of New Eden? I have no idea. Can someone tell me where everyone else is?

5 June 2014

Trust

In the real world there are many facets to abusing trust which can result in a myriad of outcomes. Sometimes the only repercussion is being outcast from a group of friends which, if you place little value in said friendship, may make whatever you gained worthwhile. Other times there can be legal ramifications if your position allows you to steal or otherwise break the law. In between these areas is a whole spectrum of variation. To add to the complexity the outcome of an abuse of trust also depends on how forgiving the people you betray are.

Online gaming takes the concept of 'trust' and screws with it somewhat. It takes the real-world ideal and looses off the moral restrictions we are normally subject to. In most areas of EVE there are many mechanisms available to mitigate the dangers of abuses of trust. If you are in a hisec/lowsec/nullsec corp you can keep all  your stuff in your own hanger. Corp directors have the largest burden of trust but even they cannot take from members' hangers leaving only the corp wallet and limited assets as pickable fruit. Here the risk rises from hisec through nullsec as the potential earnings of a corp rise. Still any theft is limited to corp assets and a properly prepared CEO should be able to mitigate the issue should it arise. If an unrecoverable theft is experienced then you were probably doing it wrong in the first place.

For corporations who live solely in wormholes we are presented with a separate set of challenges when it comes to managing risk and trust. While we have the same issues concerning the corp wallet there is also the additional problem that all assets in a POS are technically corp assets. Members are allocated to a POS and a hanger and are restricted by permissions to a particular tab in said hanger. There is always a risk, however, that one member could steal from another member due to screwed up permissions. If that occurs the fault ultimately lies with the CEO. Also there is a total lack of segregation beyond the POS level for ship maintenance arrays. This means a single thief can have a significant impact on the morale of a corp (but only if the corp lets them).

I was chatting with one of the guys in our newest corp to join my alliance. It was the end of a fairly quiet corp fleet night and I'd had some wine. The conversation topic went to the state of POSs and I was restating my standard position of being largely happy with the current state of POSs. I really don't have too many problems with them. It would be nice to have permission granularity right down the the hanger level - i.e. restrict pilot 'John Doe' to tab '1' in CHA 'a' at POS 'Praise Bob' - but I'm not keen on too much more security beyond that. To me living in wormholes is like an extended camping trip. Nothing in the hole is worth anything. To realise its value you have to take it back into K-space. People who forget this important detail are setting themselves up for failure and cannot blame CCP for lack of security features should the worst happen. I see a lot of talk about the 'sanctity of the sandbox' and how EVE is a game based on players creating content from the tools we are provided. If this is truly the case why do we so despise POSs? Why not embrace the 'tool' for what it is and learn to love our "pulsating bubble of trust".

22 May 2014

EVEn on holiday

As I live in Scotland it is always nice to get away somewhere sunny and warm. It's nice to leave work behind and all the little niggling jobs around the house that I never get around to doing. On holiday you can sit around and relax guilt-free. Of course, to get on holiday there are many things which need taken care of: Pets need someone to look after them; Getting someone to stay at your house while you're away is also great (ignoring that it could be their house getting broken into instead); Wrapping up or handing over all your projects at work can be pretty exhausting. Once that's all taken care of, though, relaxation is key.

For all us EVE players there is one final detail which needs tended to - the skill queue. A unique selling point of EVE is the absence of level-grinding compared to other MMOs. In combination with the assertion that a new player can compete quickly with a veteran this seems a very compelling feature. Pretty much from the start most players realise that this offline progression means any time with an empty queue is 'levelling time' squandered. Thus they acquire 'skill queue anxiety'.

Thankfully for me it was rather easy to find skills for my three accounts to train. Orea got Large Hybrids V and Geo got Heavy Drones V. Dhal got Takmahl Technology V which is probably useless but will take him down to two skills left before he can build everything in the game. All of these skills started with well over two weeks of training so cover my break wonderfully. Before I had so many skills points I remember having to add skills to my queue almost every day. I can only assume I never went on any holidays when my characters were young as it would have almost certainly been impossible to find a 14 day skill back then. I also don't remember deliberately letting a skill queue run out so I guess I was just lucky.
The only thing which would improve this picture is a clean screen which is visible in the sun

One additional consideration I have when going on holiday is my role as both the alliance leader and as the admin of all the alliance IT services. Unfortunately I am way too controlling and paranoid to give anyone else admin access to our server or to have anyone other than myself in control of the alliance executor corp. This means I always feel compelled to take my laptop with me on holidays. This is strictly for emergencies only I tell my wife. I in no way, shape, or form did PI today before going to the beach. I was definitely not online two nights ago chatting with folk and seeking a route back to our home system for Orea.

So, dear reader, what actions and precautions do you take before going on holiday? Do you set any long skill regardless to whether you need that skill or not? Do you take a computer with you to maintain your normal training plan? Or do you simply forget about EVE and skill points and just finish your holidays to an empty queue?