16 November 2014

Gladiators, start your engines!

For the first expansion since Apocrypha, in Rhea new wormhole systems are being added to New Eden's universe. It will not be possible to anchor POSs in any of these systems due to the lack of any moons. The lack of moons is being explained by every single planet being Shattered, leading to the classification of this new type of space as 'S-space'. As well as the lack of moons to anchor POSs at these new systems have several other features to distinguish them from the W-space I am so familiar with:
  • Landmark sites
  • High frequency of wormholes
  • Extra-rich asteroid belts
  • Ice mining
In addition to this list there will be no possibility of getting capital ships into S-space, either by flying, jumping or construction. It seems CCP are really pushing back to basics with this new space. I've read at least one comment suggestion CCP are creating new space to remove features (read: cap and supercap ships) they would like gone from K-space but could never risk the player outrage to do so.

Out of the 101 systems there is one extra-special new solar system called Thera. In addition to the above features Thera will also have four dockable stations. These stations have the normal facilities of industry, repair, medical and a market. Currently you can even install a jump clone in one if you want. The two things which distinguish this system from any other K-space system is the lack of jump gates and its massive size.


As mentioned Thera has a market to buy your ships, there are medical facilities so if you get podded you don't have to find your way back in, this is technically nullsec so there are no security status penalties for engaging in combat. In addition to the above Rhea also brings the removal of clone costs to protect your skill points after being podded. The sum of the above is CCP are essentially introducing a combat arena to New Eden. In true CCP style this is not an honourable arena where 1v1 battles are forced to be honoured, rather this is more like a free for all with no end.

- Want to fleet up to kill that Machariel?
- Sure, but can I shoot you after it dies?
- Okay!

There are already cries that the large nullsec alliances will just move in, assert control and ruin it for everyone. Those same arguments appear for almost every new feature CCP release. Yes, it is a possibility but rather than assume this potentially wonderful new feature will be a flop how about supporting what it could be. Go out and help to realise the potential of Thera as a bloody battlefield of epic proportions. Install a jump clone and when you want some casual, consentual, unprotected pewpew head over to Thera to die gloriously.

Enjoy the Outback: Station camping on Sisi

11 November 2014

Recruiting Again

Z3R0 Return Mining Inc., proud founding member of the Illusion of Solitude alliance, is once again recruiting. Formed over four and a half years ago we have a wealth of experience gained from years of living exclusively in wormhole space. Our current home is a class 4 wormhole with class 3 and 5 statics which provide us with many opportunities to take advantage of. Active in EU and East US time zones we do not focus exclusively on any one area of wormhole life. We prefer to take advantage of what we find each day, be that people to shoot, sites to run, or just sitting on comms talking nonsense to each other.

If you are interested in joining us you need to be a mature and relaxed player who doesn't take things like killboard efficiency too seriously. You must be able to warp cloaked and should have decent scanning skills. You should have reasonable armour tanking skills and we can help guide you on your training. Whilst we try to avoid dying too often you should be comfortable with ship and pod loss accepting this is normal for EVE. You should also have Teamspeak available with a mic and headset although you are not expected to use this every time you are online.

We are not generally active enough to PLEX your account each month so players expecting to do so will be disappointed. There is an expectation that you will spend the majority of your time basing out of our home system. You will also be expected to do your fair share of scanning. In return the corp makes it as easy as possible for you to earn ISK with corp buyout of PvE loot and all PI generated in the hole. This removes any necessity for you to haul loot out and sell it in order to be paid.

If you are interested please fill out our recruitment form or contact me in-game for more information. The recruitment process involves an API check and Teamspeak 'interview'. Please do not apply directly to the corp until this process has been followed.

30 October 2014

Hoi Fozzie, gimme a t-shirt

Last year I went to Fanfest. There was a massive number of t-shirts for sale. One of the things announced that year was the relaunch of the EVE store and. As my suitcase was already well packed I made the bad decision that the t-shirts would likely be for sale on the new EVE store and I could just order a bunch when I got home. History shows this was a terrible idea and over a year later the EVE store still only has a pathetic selection of clothing to choose from. The couple of t-shirts they do have to offer, whilst nice, are overpriced and not what I'm after at all.

Also wanted in Gallente and Minmatar (and Caldari I suppose)

In the Phoebe sneak peak video CCP Fozzie appears wearing a t-shirt listing Amarr ships. Not the race I would pick but still more in line with what I would buy. Please, CCP, please release more t-shirts like the ones you sell at Fanfest.


...please.

28 October 2014

CCP Buff Vacations

One of the annoyances for any EVE player who cares about continuous skill training is figuring out what long skill to train whilst on vacation. The other tricky part is padding in shortish skills on the lead up to vacation so you can start whatever skill you want to train so it doesn't finish halfway through your holiday. Today CCP released a devblog talking about this:

Good for two years or so
No more rocket-scientist levels of planning. No more Gantt charts to ensure the correct set of skills go in the correct order at the correct time. No more sneaking a laptop on holiday because you could only get skills to go 12 days into your two week holiday.

CCP's best buff ever! Coming soon in Phoebe.

26 October 2014

The Infinite Universe (part 2)

I should know better than to have promised part 2 of this during the week. Life rarely leaves me the time to focus on a long post like this. Plus, when I do have spare time during the week I prefer to actually play EVE. Crazy, huh?

If you've not read part one click the link and read it now.

***

The Arrival


With a loud bang our intrepid corp of explorers arrives in the distant system. As the Rorqual was using the sun as a destination lock the ship naturally lands in relative close proximity to it. There are no planets, no asteroid belts, and definitely no gates or stations available from the right click menu nor on the overview. The only thing on the overview is the sun and the system doesn't even have a registered name. The first order of business, therefore, is for the other pilots who travelled with the Rorqual to take their clones, jump into scanning ships and start scanning the system. The scanning pilots start hunting down the celestials, warping to them and making assorted tactical bookmarks like any good scouts should. This way they find where the planets, moon, and any other items of interest in the system are.

The Rorqual is vulnerable at the jump-in point and needs to be moved. Our Rorqual pilot, eager to secure the situation gets himself to one of the new tactical bookmarks as soon as possible. This is where the Rorqual reveals its next new trick. Once in position at a bookmark the pilot selects the 'Anchor' option for the Rorqual then moves his pod into another one of the ships stored in the Rorqual. After some period of time the Rorqual goes online and a forcefield is erected to protect the exploration group. Why carry a POS when one of the ships serve the function perfectly well? Our explorers are now working against the clock. They need to do whatever they came here to do and be ready to head home before their safe haven runs out of fuel for the forcefield.

Exploitation


In addition to scanning down planets and moons there also needs to be some worthwhile reason for our explorers to come to this distant system. I've already established there are no freebies on this trip. This means there are no anomalies for people to simply warp to. Everything has to be worked for. This means all ISK will be hidden behind signatures and the dangers within. Given these locations are brand new areas of space I wouldn't expect known NPC classes to exist in any significant numbers. The ship sizes which can be transported needs to be taken into consideration when designing these sites.

Exploration sites requiring little or no combat would add to the empty feeling of space - "someone had been here but has long since gone". Other sites would be well defended by tough NPCs. Some leads could be taken here from the recently unveiled Burner missions. Any NPC living this deep in space is likely to be very self-sufficient and readily able to defend itself. Finally, the complete absence of anything to do should always be an option. Exploration should not guarantee riches or, indeed, anything at all. I'd be quite happy to see people going home entirely empty handed from time to time.

Our explorers now have as long as their Rorqual-POS has forcefield fuel to make the most of the wealth they have unlocked. Why do they need a forcefield? I was just getting to that.

Conflict


This wouldn't be EVE without there being a large possibility for explosions. A lack of local and no obvious pinch-points such as gates, stations or wormholes may make combat seem unlikely. Of course the initial arrival of the Rorqual leaves it fairly vulnerable. Anyone who happens to be combat scanning around the predictable arrival point of the sun will be able to warp in and grab point, hence the need for the explorers to take both exploration and combat ships on their journey. Once the Rorqual is anchored it isn't immune to attack either. Natural resists give it an appropriate number of hit points to defend from attack. This is particularly important given the lack of other automated defences. Should the Rorqual-POS be taken into armor the necessary reinforced timer starts counting down. No point messing around with hauling strontium on the journey for this, let's just use the same mechanism as POCOs and have the anchoring pilot set the time range for reinforced mode exit. If the odds are overwhelming maybe a rescue mission could be staged to save the Rorqual with a backup team (and another Rorqual). Doubling down is always an option.

Other sources of conflict are pretty identical to wormholes with the added difficulty of how the potential aggressors get themselves staged. EVE being EVE I find it incredibly likely that there would be the formation of corps whose sole mission in life was to build up a library of potential locations to jump to hunting for explorers to explode. Of course, this would just drive explorers onto deeper and deeper destinations. Without proper planning people have a real chance of getting stranded and/or need rescued.

Conclusion


I have no idea whether this is a good idea or not. I often feel there isn't enough mystery in New Eden, between the well mapped areas of k-space, the well documented routines of all NPCs and the triggers which affect their reinforcements. The infinite EVE universe could go a long way to addressing this. Simply going there should not guarantee instant wealth and sites should be slow to respawn. It should be hard to get there and challenging to exist there. Procedurally generated signatures would hopefully yield the randomness I desire and prevent people from being able to go into auto-pilot mode when running the sites. I also like the idea that people could scan themselves deeper and deeper. Of course, there would always be the challenge of getting home to Jita to turn riches of items into riches of ISK. Finally, there is no isolating yourself as people can arrive at any time. There is no wimping out on the commitment cost though so any potential gankers better be confident they can deal with the mysteries before committing their own Rorqual to the jump.

19 October 2014

The Infinite Universe (part 1)

There has been ongoing speculation for what the promised eventual future of player built stargates will bring. A lot of the speculation predictably revolves around finally unlocking access to Jove space. Others think the gates will unlock access to some other well defined long-forgotten region of space. My personal favourite is that CCP will use player built stargates to replace the distances about to be taken from carriers and other jump-capable ships allowing the largest alliance to ephemerally replace the logistical links they currently rely upon. I think it is time to stop thinking so small and really expand our online universe. Space is infinite so why shouldn't New Eden be so?

Investigation


It's time to properly extend the exploration career to the discovery of entire new solar systems. Doing so should be a corporation wide endeavour requiring the expenditure of a large amount of resources. The basic premise of the discovery portion of this idea is a massive extension of the existing scanning skills except this will be on a galaxy map rather than a solar system map. In addition to this, each 'scanning bubble' will be controllable by a single character. This will require a minimum of four pilots to have any chance of successfully scanning a system and an optimum of seven or eight for more rapid discovery. Each pilot should be based in their own POS and each POS needs to be in a separate solar system. The further apart each pilot the greater the chance a deep scan will work.

Of course we're going to need new probes with their own mini jump drives. Like existing drives these mini jump drives will of course require fuel to jump to these distant regions of space. Deeper exploration may even expend all fuel on the outbound journey resulting in sacrifice of the probe. Will it be worth it? Of course the scan itself shouldn't be as passive as the solar-system scans. Let's introduce a new variant of the hacking mini-game. Rather than just be a random click-fest this should actually require some skill to play. Eight skilled players playing the mini-game at the same time... did I just create an online cooperative game *inside* an MMO?

Exploration


So what happens once our industrious corp pins down the jump coordinates of a distant star worthy of further investigation? Well then the real exploration begins. How do they get there and back safely? Clearly we need a new class of ship. A deep exploration ship. Sounds like something ORE would build? Meet the newly refitted deep exploration Rorqual. This refitted Rorqual comes with a modified jump drive. Unlike existing drives this one has the ability to lock to on to the single gravity well of the distant sun and jump much greater distances. The emphasis on singular gravity wells obviates the possibility of abusing the Rorqual in known space (although future use in W-space could be an interesting option which I won't consider here). Whilst making this a one-way journey would be an interesting choice it's probably not a good idea. A 'point of origin' marker would guide the Rorqual home at the end of the voyage.

So our corp is ready for their jump to deep space. They load their Rorqual with the tools of their trade - more exploration ships and quite probably a smattering of combat ships for defence from the unknown. They 'board' the Rorqual by attaching their current clone to the clone vat bay. Once prepared the Rorqual pilot initiates the jump to the distant system and all the involved parties jump as one ready to brave the dangers of the remote system.

***

This turned into a longer post than expected. I'll continue during the week with what happens next.