Sunday, September 29, 2013

How I Learned To Love Exploration

From flickr user Thomas Hawk

A short while ago I wrote a post explaining what I didn't like about the exploration game in Eve. This is the process wherein you use probes to locate data/relic sites, then hack them to release treasure into space, which you then pick up as quickly as you can.

Last night I had another go at it and had a MUCH better experience. In short, I ran 3 sites in about 2 hours and came away with about 60M ISK. If my hacking strength was higher I'd have doubled that.  My ship was under-equipped and my skills aren't strong (Astro 3, Hacking 2, Archeology 2), but I was still able to get a great return.

What Changed? 

The main change was that I flew in sparsely populated low-sec systems. The sites were more lucrative and were untouched; nobody had taken anything from them. The cargo scanner showed me valuable content in every tower.

The most important change, though, was that I found at the Eve Uni Odyssey Exploration page (scroll to the bottom), which explained which treasures, as shown by the cargo scanner, would be in which container types. This made all the difference! I copied the information from the "Relic Sites" and "Data Sites" into a note in the Eve client and before each hack I repeat to myself what container I needed to pick up when the cans spewed into space.  I missed only one drop across 3 sites (though I exploded a few when I was unsuccessful in my hack)

The main thought I came away with was this: why didn't the game itself tell me this?! I don't remember being shown a cargo scanner during the tutorial, nor a description of what treasure are in what containers.  Does CCP intend for us to guess containers and probably not collect every treasure? Or learn it ourselves by watching the inventory change as each can is picked up?

It is very frustrating to know that a valuable item flew into space and you didn't collect it. You feel like the game screwed you over and there's nothing you could have done differently.

If CCP want to make this a feature that new players can use as easily as mining, they need to give cargo scanners to players during the tutorial AND force the player to use them, so they understand it. Secondly, have the cargo scanner say what type of container the detected treasure could be found in. I understand that some (like T1/T2 salvage) can be in more than one type of container; list all those container types so the player knows what to aim for.

Also, CCP, don't forget that some players (i.e me) are scared of lowsec. I thought I'd get gate camped and blown up just by setting foot in there.  Can you change the sites so that cargo scanners will always show something when used on high sec exploration sites? Seed them with cheap crap, but if it shows up on the cargo scanner, instead of the scanner showing nothing at all, the player will learn the technique and be able to use it later in low sec.  If they high-sec player uses the cargo scanner and sees NOTHING in the towers they'll think "Well, that module is useless." instead of "The tower contains nothing of value". Either way, they are not being encouraged to keep exploring.

Will I Continue?

Yes! I'm making excellent (for me, anyway) money with relatively weak skills. I'll add rigs that boost my hack strength and study hacking/archaeology to Level 4. I have switched to a Core Probe scanner and taken the prototype cloak off the ship (duh -- that reduced scan strength by 50%, even when offline). I made safes bookmarks in each system I visited.

[Update: 9/30/2013] The cloak should not have affected my ability to scan cosmic signatures; it should only have slowed down the process by 50%. But I'm pretty sure that while the cloaking device was fitted, even when offline, I couldn't get above 50%. When I docked, removed the cloak and undocked, I was able to get that same signature to 100%.  I'll try again and try to confirm what was happening. I'd much prefer to have a cloak, but it seemed that I needed to remove it to be able explore.

[Later update:] I was wrong, you can use probes while cloaked. The only drawback is that each scan takes twice as long as it would if you no cloak fitted. I must have been scanning a signature that was beyond what my probe skills could handle.