Monday, June 30, 2014

Defending the Head of Kirith Kodachi

A bouncer does his work, from Wikimedia

On Sunday night Aideron Robotics partipated in the "Bring Me The Head of Kirith Kodachi" event, wherein our corpmate Kirith sacrificed a carrier on the altar of content creation. Aideron pilots would act as a defensive force, trying to extend the event as long as possible.  We actually fielded two carriers, which repped each other (I think?) as our 40-strong fleet of Vexor Navy Issues, Mauluses and other assorted ships did our best to take on the attackers.

Video from Aeonicentity

We did too well! The first wave of sniping Cormorants were seen off with Warden sentry drones. The next wave of Caracal cruisers, plus support ships, were taken out with Gardes. Things get a bit blurry here, but I'm pretty sure there was a third wave of something...I fired at a lot of Ruptures. We had some tracking issues and when the opportunity came to dock up we did so, and added some Hammerheads to our drone bays.

Nervous laughter rippled around the fleet as the remnants of the last wave warped out - "Did we hold the field?!" Yes! Our carriers were still healthy and our pilots who had lost their ships had the chance to re-ship. We had been expecting a visit from Pandemic Legion carriers and other heavy ships, so our survival was a surprise!

I think at this point the FCs decided to downship to our regular brawling ships, to give the attackers a better chance. One of the carriers docked up, leaving Kirith alone, with us, to face whoever came next. A Brutix fleet arrived and there ensued a long rumble. I was in an Exeq and got a lot of repping done until I lost my ship. I came back in another Exeq and continued repping; I was actually repping Kirith when he finally went down. And dammit, I forgot to get on that killmail!

(BTW This is all from memory, since my video recording software decided that Eve is unsupported, and I might have to come back later to revise this timeline.)

My thanks to the shield logi that kept me alive several times through this fight! I think that might have all been from the carrier?

My finally tally was 52 kills (see Jun 29th, around 01:00 AM and 1 loss (an Exequror). That includes 12 final blows, a lucky surprise since I was doing comparatively little damage. Our corp suffered 6B in losses, including the carrier, but made 7B in kills! Fliet was reported to have seen 835 kills in the time we fought; dotlan says 1031 in 24 hours, so that's feasible.

Lessons Learned

I! Firstly, I couldn't figure out how to switch my drones using the carrier. The Fed Navy Gardes in my drone bay wouldn't leave, no matter where/how I dragged them and if used the carrier's Fleet Hangar or Fitting Service. The need to refit on the fly was a lot more important than I realized. Just before we left our POS to begin the event we heavily refitted our Vexor Navy Issues. Also during the fight the order came several time to switch between Gardes and Wardens, for short/long range work. Our neuts didn't get much use except when we were ordered to neut out a group of Scythes.

I also got into a jumpclone for the first time, just before this fight, in the event that I got podded. I don't know where most of the loot ended up; I think there were some loot-grabbing specialists following the battle; we scooped up what we could.

All in all, that was a really great night of Eve! Thanks Kirith!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Vic Vorlon existed six years before Eve did

My personalized license plates from SEVENTEEN YEARS AGO!

Well, here's a surprising blast from the past!  My parents are visiting from Australia and brought a few artifacts from the deep corners of the garage. These were my personalized number plates, created in 1997.

I was, and still am, a big fan of Babylon 5, and was able to get "VORLON" license plates. I even made a website for people to post other B5 related plates. I left Australia in 2000, left the car and plates to my parents and left it at that.

I created my Eve account, and character "Vic Vorlon" TOTALLY without thinking of these plates! Vic seemed like a nice short name (it's also my Dad's name) and Vorlon pointed to B5, and the alliteration sounded a little bit Golden-Age-Of-Science-Fiction.

Well, the plates show up and, because I was in the state of Victoria, abbreviation "VIC", Vic Vorlon was already out there six years before Eve even launched!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Newbie Consensual PvP: A more structured environment is needed

I introduced a friend to Eve Online recently and his experience has been interesting to watch. He joined my lowsec corporation, Aideron Robotics, quite quickly and got frustrated with how outmatched he was when it came to PvP. He wanted to PvP, it's probably the most interesting feature in Eve, but he couldn't use T2 guns, drones or tank, so he lost several ships while barely denting his opponents. He couldn't get on comms to co-ordinate with other corpmates due to his home environment needing to be quiet during his play times.

At first glance this seems like an unusual situation: a newb coming straight to lowsec who *also* can't effectively fleet up with other people. But while talking about his situation we came up with an idea.

High-Sec Battle Arenas

This isn't the first time such an idea has been proposed: we found a post on gamerchick42 and would like to expand on her ideas.

PvP is an important, and arguably the most entertaining, part of Eve Online. But the new player experience focuses entirely on PvE missions, with no incentive or direction offered to new players to try fighting each other. The existing dueling system makes you guess who is, or is not, ready for a round of consensual PvP, and also leaves you to guess whether your skills are a match for theirs.

Simple Version

We propose the creation of Battle Arenas, permanent structures in high-sec systems where pilots seeking consensual PvP can go. They will use a variety of filters to try and keep the fights evenly balanced. To keep it simple, and new player focused, they only allow frigates to enter.

They will be entered through acceleration gates that filter players based on skill levels and total skill points, and only two players can be in an Arena at the same time. When the fight is won, the winner is warped out and the next players can enter. The winner will receive a prize of some kind (nice loot? ISK?) and the loser gets either nothing or a smaller prize.

The quality of the prize could be determined by the difference in skills between pilots. If you managed to take down a better pilot, the prize is better. Also the losing player could be awarded prizes based on how much damage they inflicted on their higher-skilled opponent.

Risk Vs Reward: Working without a Net
A new player may not want to risk their precious ship for a thrill, so we propose a safety net. If you want to have a safety net, you are guaranteed not to lose your ship. The fight will end when the one ship is takes any structural damage. But if you win, and had the safety net on, you get no prize. If you lose, you still have to pay for repairs. If the safety net is OFF, a loss will mean the loss of your ship, but victory will mean a good reward is coming your way.

Grading on a curve
The math involved in working out how close in skills two players must be in order to have a good fight is probably horrendous. It may be to difficult to create enough filters to ensure that ONLY evenly matched pilots face each other in combat. We don't want space to be littered with arenas each with a player waiting a matching pilot that may never arrive.

Instead, maybe let ANY pilots face each other, but when in the Arena their DPS and Tank get buffed/nerfed to make them more evenly matched. Not EXACTLY even, but enough to make the fight be always interesting and always winnable by either party. I don't know what the numbers should be here; say a 25% difference in DPS/Tank? This could also be an option that both players must agree to for it to take effect, and it would also affect the quality of the prize.

Further Enhancements: 

An enlarged arena could allow up to, say 8 vs 8 fleet fights, with the fight not beginning until both sides have a balanced number of ships and pilot skills.

An Aura-like tutor could teach you the basics of PvP piloting: slingshots, range dictation, looking at your opponents ship to determine weapon type. Perhaps "missions" would be available, where the player would demonstrate their ability to perform these maneuvers against an NPC opponent. If its possible to help a player identify problems with their fit, that would be nice too, and maybe it could even suggest how to fly their ship.

High Score Tables
The game could keep track of relevant statistics: your win/loss ratio, damage inflicted etc and make the results public. Corporations could watch the results to identify promising young pilots and make bids to draft them into their corps. The prize for beating a particular player could be based on their win/loss ratio.

Different Game Modes
1 versus many, winner-stays-in-till-they-are-dead, NPC ships present etc.

Viewer Participation
Matches could be streamed, viewers could bet on matches (with the house taking a percentage, thus creating an ISK sink), viewers can offer their own prizes to the participants.

Automatic Cameras
It would be great if the match was visible from the viewpoint of some well placed virtual cameras, which dynamically changed the point of view in response to events in the arena. This is what would be streamed to viewers, along with ship statistics as the match progresses. Perhaps some trusted viewers could also be commentators?

We all remember the cold hands and heart-pounding action you felt the first time you went into combat with a real person, with real stakes on the line. Shooting red crosses just isn't the same. We think that Eve Online should have a rich and complex way of teaching PvP to new players and encouraging them to try it out, in a way that doesn't frustrate them and clean out their wallets.


Some players may suggest that Eve should be difficult. They're proud of the learning curve; it filters out the unworthy. But CCP, I believe, see it differently. CCP Rise's "New Player Experience" presentation at Fan Fest 2014 said they are re-thinking the whole new player experience, and I must assume they want new players to join Eve, engage with other players, subscribe and stay.  Getting those players into PvP and into player-run corporations will be a big part of that effort.

* My thanks to Allca Quisper for kicking this idea around with me.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Good morning Campers!

Podded again

It has been a colorful few days in my corner of New Eden. I took a cloaking Imicus (Prototype Cloak, so no MWD trick) out to look for data sites and, after passing through wrecks fields near gates in several systems (FORESHADOWING!!), I found one of the new Contested Guristas Research Facilities. After some googling and consultation with corp members I decided it was safe to go in alone. I did the hack easily and got a Guristas Data Sequence. I decided to head back to hindsight this was my first mistake. I knew there were gate camps in the area, the Data Sequence is only worth 1.5-2M at best and I should have docked up and left it in a station if I really wanted to keep it safe. First mistake made.

Two jumps back towards Fliet and I land in a 3 man gate camp: Apocalypse, Proteus and something else...what should I do? My friend advises me to just try warping off, and, if I get caught eject the Data Sequence (we both still think it's worth something). Now I *had*, on the way out here, passed through a gate camp where I double-clicked on space (to remove my gate cloak) and immediately cloaked up. I waited a couple of minutes and the camp left. In hindsight, I should have tried this again.

Instead I tried to warp off, got caught, killed in two shots and was a little slow in trying to warp my pod out -- they podded me too (50M ISK). that I see the kill mail I forgot I had a warp core stab! I guess they must have both disrupted me, or I'd have succeeded in warping off. My new clone was slightly insufficient too, so I had to train a couple of hours to restore one of my skills.

I put the kill rights up for sale, picking 50M ISK each randomly. We'll see if anyone hates these guys enough to pay me for them :)

There have been a lot of gate camps in our area recently. I'll have to either move my factory work from Yvangier to a closer system to avoid losses, or get a more expensive ship and better cloaking skills (like the MWD trick). It also gives our corp some targets to aim for.

Speaking of which, we set up a pretty large fight in Heydieles last night against a fleet from alliance "That Escalated Quickly". It was pretty tense as we tussled for location; we started in a large faction warfare plex so they couldn't use a cyno to bring an Archon, but they didn't engage us. We headed to a stargate and after jumping through once or twice we finally engaged. We had about 35 in fleet, 13 Vexors for DPS, Blackbirds for jamming, 6 Exeqs for logi. They had 10 battleships (I think?) and an Archon. Our plan, however, didn't work and we were unable to kill our first target. As our ships began to die (Dominix, 4 Vexors, 3 Exeqs, Blackbird) we bailed out. I survived, lucky for me!

It was very interesting to hear the discussion afterwards, with the FC and several knowledgeable players dissecting the fight, deciding why it didn't work and what we could have done differently. Then they moved on to thinking about changes in fleet composition for the next fight. It was all calm, no recriminations or shouting, and it's scary how much these guys know about Eve!

Over on the trading side of the house I'm finding a new balance after taking a hit. My tattoo trade has put me in the red after the New Eden Store opened and included two tattoos (Prototype and Wreckage) for 1000 and 1500 Aurum respectively. This translates to approx 200-300M ISK. Unfortunately I was buying for 600M the night before and some clever-clogs sold me one of each. (Later Update: To clarify, the orders were created the night before, and were fulfilled the next morning at 9:00am EST. I didn't consider that the new store might have existing items in them, at a lower price, thus killing the market for those items. My mistake!) I've been buying at the new lower prices too, which have settled around the new values, but have no sales yet. I have 6 tattoos in the hanger and 3 for sale, plus a couple of cybernetic arms.

My PI sales are steady, though I have to be quick because the prices of my items has dropped. The price of the inputs has dropped too, but its good to get a quick sale of the finished products and not wait for a rebound that may never come. My spreadsheet tells me it's still a decent profit, though I'm careful to NOT fly to my factories when Local is cargo is usually worth about 300M ISK.

That's it for now - more of the same to come later.