Thursday, August 21, 2014

Starting a New Alt

A week or so ago, I started a new alt. My original plan was to start up a few more trade alts, since my trade ‘dabbling’ has slowly slid into full scale obsessive trader syndrome. But instead, I decided it would be fun to have a sort of anonymous, ‘escape’ pvp alt. I have no set goals or plans for him, except to wander around and try and do whatever strikes my fancy at the time.

I decided to start by doing some of the tutorials. Even when I was really a newb, I don’t think I ever did much of any of the tutorials. Maybe the first few, just to learn how to move the ship around and etc.

I more or less made it through the two military tutorials, but quickly started to get bored and annoyed, so mostly was skimming them by the end. Honestly, I was a bit shocked at the state of the tutorials—they seemed very unpolished and not well put together. The missions made me feel like I was going in circles, rather than progressing toward anything. Some things were excessively repetitive. And in the ‘advanced’ military tutorial, I took one look at the massive wall of text being constantly thrown at me and pretty much said, “yeah, right. Not going to happen.”

When I ‘finished’ those I didn’t have a plan, so felt a little lost at first. I traveled to one region, but changed my mind and then traveled to a different high sec region, and finally settled in to do a few Minmatar level 1 highsec missions. I also ran around a bit in the belts, killing a few rats to earn a little ISK. In the beginning, I wanted the toon to be completely self-sufficient with no ‘help’ from my other characters. 

I was saddened by the NPC changes I noticed after doing a bit of belt ratting and mission running. One thing I clearly remember as a newb was how much fun I had killing the NPCs—and looting the wrecks. Everything is new at that stage, so it used to feel like going on a treasure hunt. I remember learning aspects of the game by reading the descriptions of the various modules and ammunition stacks that would drop. And, I remember learning about what a lot of modules did by simply putting them on my frigate and playing around with them.

It seems that now, all that low level NPCs drop, literally, is junk metal. It made me very sad.

However, on a good note, I did notice something that made me pleasantly surprised. And that is how quickly I felt I reached a point where I could fly a decently fit ship. Within a few hours, I could fly a reasonably setup pvp frigate, and within a day or two, a decent destroyer. YAY for meta modules.

I quickly grew bored of level one missions, and finally gave up on them. I transferred some ISK over from a trade alt, bought up all the skill books I was still lacking and could train, and headed out to do something a bit more pvpish. I settled on Faction War. I know, big surprise! But it seemed the perfect thing to do on a few day old alt that you want to pvp with. I chose Gallente because it is the one militia I’ve never been in. But, I havent’ always had great experiences hunting Caldari, so I went to part of the Minmatar/Amarr warzone instead. 

The first thing I did was burn through a fifteen minute small plex. And gleefully look at the 43k+ LP earned from the Gallente’s tier 4. Considering how cheap I was flying ships, and the fact that 43K LP is almost enough to by a Navy Vexor, I would definitely not need to worry about being self-sufficient here on out. Running level one missions in highsec, for the mere pittance I had received, seemed like a very big waste of time. I should have just gone directly to Faction War.

Another thing I noticed is that you don’t seem to lose standings when you cross plex. Which is excellent. I didn’t want to start out my alt by building up a bunch of negative standings that would be difficult to grind back later.

I also got my first taste of blood on the character. First, my own –dying to a large Amarrian gate camp. Then later, I bounced to a planet and accidentally came across a Magnate just sitting there AFK. I killed and podded him, and scooped all the random salvage materials he dropped. First kill.

My second kill was an Amarrian plex farmer, and was kind of a funny kill. I had logged out on the inside of plex, probably to do something quick on another toon on the account. When I logged back in, I landed on the outside gate, just as the plex farmer also landed.

I quickly scrammed him, and killed him. He was stabbed, but while I was killing him I noticed that he had apparently warped to the gate at 0 instead of 10. He was having difficulty moving, warping, or etc because he was stuck inside the gate. lol. Rookie mistake. Noob Amarrian Farmer Alt Scum Bag.

Anyway, I got my first real fight last night, with a breacher. It didn’t go so well for me, but it was fun. And we had an entertaining chat in local afterwards. Apparently, it is somewhat amusing to a low-sec hunter to warp into a plex, and have the five day old character inside charge you full throttle, instead of warping away stabbed.

I have no idea what I’ll do next. Maybe I’ll stay in Gallente a while. Maybe I’ll wander. Maybe I’ll train some exploration skills. Maybe I’ll join the Amarr and secretly kill my Minmatar friends. (evil laugh) Maybe I’ll turn him into another trade alt after a while.

I guess I’ll have to wait and see where my fancy takes me.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014


I’ve been suffering from one of the worst cases of bitter vet syndrome lately, my feelings of ‘treading water’ slipping into outright sinking. Sadly, the decision of whether or not to continue playing has been on my mind quite a lot. There are reasons I play the game besides entertainment, however. Chief of which, lately, is as an escape to get my mind off of a rather stressful day job that I occasionally have trouble ‘turning off’ when I come home at night.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the ‘reality’ of EVE, and how it is often very different a game from what people expect. As I’m doing other things on the internet, EVE ads occasionally popup on my screen and I smile at the promises of epic space battles and the opportunity to ‘be the villain.’

Epic space battles often are few and far between. And, becoming a villain has become so popular over the last ten years, that being a ‘bad guy’ in EVE is somewhat mediocre. After all, being a ‘bad’ guy is relative. If everyone becomes a ‘bad’ guy then nobody really is one.

For me, beyond the escape of losing myself in my various trading schemes, and the comings and goings of various alts and projects, a lot of what draws me in most is the people.

Sometimes, my ‘EVE time’ comprises of a rather long chat with an alliance mate, during which he tells me all about his home in New Zealand—a place that seems so distant it might as well be out of a fairy tale for me.

Sometimes, EVE lacks explosions of the spaceship kind, and instead I read a heated debate over in-game channels between some Australian corpmates about whether the lyrics to a popular Australian folk song talk about a kangaroo, or a barbecue out back. (Youtube eventually confirmed it’s a Kangaroo!)

Last night, there were Amarr and Minmatar in-system. There was a little smack talk, and not a lot of fighting. There was also mutual frustration and sadness expressed over the recent death of Robin Williams, and reminiscing about the various movies and etc. he had played in over the years.

Sometimes, I simply sit back and read. I love stories. Not necessarily fiction, or in a role-playing kind of way. But the ‘real’ stories around EVE. For example, I could care less if you told me another titan died. Ships die. It’s what they do.  The fun part is the story of the semi-unexperienced dread pilot who nervously jumped into the fray trying to figure out when to cycle guns and siege, and then coming out with her first super capital blood drawn, and the killmail to boot. (And the idea of a big bad Goon titan being killed by someone named ‘Pixie Vixen’ made me giggle almost uncontrollably for a few moments…)

Sometimes, my entire enjoyment for the evening involves trolling my CEO. He’s a particularly grumpy sort and never fails to tell me how much he hates me and how bad I am at EVE. Sometimes, I bring a condor in his fleet just to hear him rage at me about how all I ever fly is tech-1 frigates. Or half way through a roam in which we’re all supposed to be in kitey stuff, I cheekily imply (as nonchalant as possible) that I brought a brawler. Sometimes it’s a little too much fun getting a rise out of him.

I guess for some, it’s all about the battles and explosions and the ticks they add on their killboards.

But EVE is not just about spaceships. And some days, that fact is the only reason I play.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Crazy Ideas for Faction War Missions

Ever since I wrote a post detailing the history of Faction War mission mechanics, and some of the balance problems we have with missions, I've been thinking about how I would change them.
There are the obvious choices. You can nerf things, adjust payouts, and change NPC behavior to make things riskier in some situations. But I think more than making missions balanced, I'd also want to make them fun and engaging gameplay.

Missions in FW are not your typical missions. They are not like high sec missions. Beacon are lit in space, alerting locals to the fact that someone is running a mission. in the original design, they were supposed to take you deep into enemy territory, and be yet another catalyst for sparking pvp and other pilot engagements. This is Faction War, after all. Not Faction Farmville.

I have this idea for a different kind of mission, quite a bit different then general missions in EVE. It goes like this:

In a Faction War mission you have a primary objective. This is usually to take out a NPC Fleet Commander, destroy a stargate, or kill a bunch of hostile Haulers.

However, in addition to this we would add a 'counter' objective. Something that an enemy can also do inside of a plex. If in enemy completes their objective before you complete yours, you fail the mission and your enemy gets a LP reward for their militia instead.

So, for example. You pick up a mission. You travel to the system where the engagement is going to take place and you warp to the site. This causes the beacon to appear in local.

An enemy in system sees the beacon, and comes to your mission. Previously, mission runners could simply run away until the hostile left. There was not a lot of reasons for a hostile to even go there. But now, the hostile can actually disrupt the mission by running their own objective --and cause you to fail the mission if you are not prepared to fight them off.

I would also make the following additional changes:

1. Failing a mission because a hostile took it over will result in no, or a very tiny militia standings loss--Nowhere near the loss you get if you decline multiple ones yourself. (And would not affect Factional standings at all.)

2. Missions will now take you to a system owned by hostile militia. If your militia owns less than 5 systems, it will adjust the 'pool' to include the most heavily contested systems.--There will always be a minimum of five systems you could potentially be sent to. (For example, if one militia only has 2 systems left, the hostile militia will either be sent to one of these two systems, or one of three of the most contested systems their own militia owns.) Otherwise the 'pool' is all hostile systems.

3.  LP Payouts for completing a mission would remain as-is. Given the new risks, I think there should be high rewards. However, counter mission payouts would have a static payout, unaffected by Warzone Control. It would be a decent payout, comparable to a Tier2-3 payout--making running counter missions a very good tool for underdog and struggling militias to fight back, and gain an income doing so.

4. Finally, I would have missions affect the war effort, even if in a very small way. Successfully running missions (or countering them) in a system will now affect the Victory Point factor that Dust 514 currently also affects. The number is up for debate, but I'm thinking something to the affect of 1% for every 25 successful missions.

This means that running missions will make systems either easier, or harder to take, depending on who's completing it.

Other details are also up for debate. I know that completely revamping missions to a kind of thing never seen before in EVE (missions that others can steal, etc.) is probably no easy or small change. However, I think missions of this sort would fit in very well with Faction War, and would give a sort of starting point for content that players can directly affect and participate in creating and shaping.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Asking CCP Seagull

It was recently announced that CCP Seagull has been promoted to Executive Producer of EVE Online.
Yesterday, she hosted an 'AMA' (Ask Me Anything) on Reddit. For those of you too busy blowing up spaceships to dig through a forums post with 800+ comments on it, this TLDR summary is for you. :)

JimmyDuce: How did you come up with your name?

CCP Seagull: First woman in space, google it. :)

WubWubMillerMinmatar: With your promotion/new position, what new responsibilities do you have at CCP? Are you in charge of more people directly?

CCP Seagull: New responsibilities include the budget and business responsibility for EVE - and also marketing, operations, customer support - working with those departments in CCP to do that work on EVE.

Squizz: In your new role, what changes might we see you attempting to implement?

CCP Seagull: Even more tools for players and 3rd party developers, and more marketing stuff made in a way that reflects the actual game and that would be useful for existing players to link to if they are trying to explain why EVE is something to care about.

Work_Suckz: Is there some up and coming feature, whether small or large, that you are particularly happy or excited about?

CCP Seagull: Small but big: Properly share-able overview settings. Soon (tm)

WubWubMillerMinmatar: How does the shortened dev cycle appear to be affecting the workplace?

CCP Seagull: The new cycle is like a small miracle in motion - it frees us to think new things, and being able to make changes and then follow up so soon just gives so much more power to teams to drive their features in a good way.

Eve_Asher: Now that you have 10 releases a year do you have any plans to make balance changes more proactively since if you go overboard you can revert/tweak easier as well?

CCP Seagull:  The new release model gives us whole new possibilities for more frequent balancing work of the kind that you describe - we no longer have to make only big changes that we are confident will last for years - we can tweak and respond to the environment in the game. We do not want to more towards a "flavor of the month" kind of environment though, so there's lots of careful work to do for our designers. Specifics about ships I won't answer - that's all for the design team!

LG03: It's fairly obvious that people are unhappy with the current state of affairs with regards to nullsec politics and sov mechanics. Every day there's multiple posts just here on reddit with new schemes to 'fix' null. There's a growing sentiment that if the current situation continues unabated that it may be a precursor to the end of EVE. Is CCP content to remain hands off or are there changes in the works, if so can you discuss anything in particular?

CCP Seagull:  We have change coming! We are hands-off when it comes to the specific interaction between players, but certainly not hands-off when it comes to designing how the game works.
We have things in the works, and you'll hear more about it soon as we start talking about our plans - but that will come from the teams working directly on it - I am not going to present some specific solution here. But we are working on what to do, and because we are already on a long running plan where fixing industry, creating the mobile structures, improving corporations and alliances was always building up towards making major improvements to nullsec and sovereignty, we are in a pretty good place to start making changes now, especially with our new release model.

MagCore: I really get a sense of your enthusiasm and passion when you talk about the game. When you talk about "re-imagining sov" it gives hope to us 0.0 players. Are you able to give any kind of generalized timeframe/progress on this?

CCP Seagull:  We will start this year, with changes in one or more of the remaining releases this year. Those will not be changes that will be the single solution to sov, but rather changes rolling out continuously to make things interesting. And as we continue work on new structures, and new corp and alliance functionality, we will be able to do more and more interesting things, especially about connecting smaller group actions and ownership of space or structures to the bigger picture warfare in new ways.

With the current state of SOV Null-sec, any small up-and-coming alliance really only has a few options - join one of the major coalitions or be completely irrelevant. Are there any plans to give smaller alliances a nudge?

CCP Seagull:  We want more things to do for smaller actors - so that's one aspect we definitely keep in mind when planning changes for null sec, corporations and alliances. The challenge is to create space for smaller groups to be independent and have cool stuff to do, but still mattering in the bigger picture in interesting ways.

Zonetr00oper: Bazillion questions about the stagnation of null aside, you've promoted a heavy focus on player actions and their repercussions within the game world - the idea that the players create all the content. While admirable, it has also been accompanied by an almost total cessation in in-universe news articles, lore production, and plot-line advancement; even nullsec clashes which once received short news writeups now go unmentioned unless you happen to read various EVE fansites. The once vibrant, living universe has ground to a halt awaiting player 'content', which too often comes in generic battles and silly kills; the live events and fiction teams have also suffered heavily in the layoffs.

My question is this: Do you have any plans to restart the universe of New Eden? Will we ever again feel like we are flying through a living, breathing universe, populated by planets, stations, and people who are doing their own things not even necessarily immediately connected to us?

CCP Seagull: That was always my wish for people to feel like that - and we'll look at our various ways of keeping the universe active. For me, the world should be a living, thriving backdrop - not something that never changes and just waits for player action.

Druishmonk: What sort of Plans does CCP have for wormholes, and did CCP expect so many players to live permanently in W-space?

CCP Seagull: We'll keep doing stuff with wormholes - we have a few changes coming in the upcoming releases this year but I'll let the involved designers speak to what they are - check the forums for feedback threads and feature announcements.

zulef: Are we ever going to see anything new done with missions? They've been pretty much left untouched for the past decade.

CCP Seagull: Yup, some changes and new missions coming in the next releases!

two_step: private CREST. When?

CCP Seagull: When we have the SSO reliably out there and a suitable set of endpoints to start with.

Corran_Halcyon: The simplification of many features is a good progression, but I am worried that CCP may begin to over simplify EVE features in order to attract new players and keep them interested.

CCP Seagull:
Our ambition is to remove bad complexity but keep EVE a game that is challenging and interesting.

Link to the Reddit post.
Link to community announcement regarding new Executive Producer

Other Links:
Interview with CCP Seagull on PC Gamer
Interview with CCP Seagull on Polygon
Interview with CCP Seagull on Massively

Friday, July 25, 2014

Stable Wormholes

During the Huola defense, one of our neutral pirates that was flying with us at the time mentioned that the new spawn rates of Known-to-Known wormholes is one of the best things CCP has done in low-sec. It has opened up the ability to keep pvp fresh by allowing pilots to roam in places it wouldn’t normally be practical to go.

What if CCP took this one step further by introducing a type of stable wormhole. These wormholes would be relatively rare, and would lead between all ‘known’ areas of space. (highsec, lowsec, and null) Instead of being destabilized by mass passing through them, these wormholes would last for a random period of time—from days to weeks.

  • Pilots who would rarely interact with each other due to distance, could suddenly become temporary neighbors. This could lead to some interesting interactions –new wars, and new friendships.

  • Traders could use these ‘temporary gates’ as secret trade routes. And a new breed of piracy could emerge where pilots hunt down these secret routes for the purpose of disrupting this trade.

  • Areas of space considered to be ‘dead ends’ could suddenly become main routes of travel temporarily. And systems thought of as being relatively safe due to their location and/or remoteness, could see some new action if they are connected to more dangerous places.

What if tomorrow, your home system suddenly led to a high-sec system three jumps from Jita? Or a low-sec system where an active, bloody war is currently going on? Or right into the middle of someone’s null-sec ratting space?