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?

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

EVE Online Origins: El Dorado

“What do you supposed will be behind this one?”

“Probably more of the same.”

I perused the black stargate, and the strange assortment of deployable structures surrounding it. It looked more like a construction zone now, than the site of a mysterious alien stargate.

“When will it be fixed?” Harken, my alliance mate asked. It was late, and we were the only pilots left online.

“That’s hard to tell. We’ve only fixed one other, and that took us a little over three weeks. But, that doesn’t mean that they all take the same amount of time.”

 “But if it takes the same amount of materials and time, it will be tomorrow.” It was more a statement then a question, and I could hear the excitement in her voice. She had not been here for the first gate we fixed, having arrived with a later group of colonists.

“Correct.” I smiled.

“Okay. Well, I’ll definitely be here. I want to be with the group that explores the new system. But, for now I’m going to bed.”



Coms went quiet, and I turned my covert ops ship around and headed back to base. I had work to do, now that everyone in the colony was tucked away in their beds for the night.

As my ship slowed, coming out of warp, no fewer than thirteen large POSes rose to greet me. It looked like a strange ghostly bubble town, scattered with an assortment of unpiloted ships, anchored cans and colonists’ personal mobile depots.

The POSes were full of laboratories, construction modules, and many other deployables—all hard at work processing blueprints and manufacturing the equipment that kept the colony running. Hard at work while the colonists slept.

A wormhole back to New Eden had been found a few days earlier, so no doubt the hangers were packed full of new supplies brought in--including more BPOs, and anything we couldn’t build—such as factional ammunitions and implants.

I gulped back a twinge of guilt.

We were the first—the first in EVE to establish some sort of major colony, bringing together many different kinds of corporations and pilots for mutual exploration—and mutual survival. The amount of discoveries we had made caused many of our colonists to become known as experts to some of the game mechanics—being the only ones who had studied certain anomalies, items, and new technologies. Some were even paid to consult with smaller groups who were trying to start their own small colonies, and the El Dorado directors were considering the possibility of establishing several satellite colonies.

The sheer amount of work, organization, and cooperation that went into the endeavor was staggering. And, the colony itself was extremely impressive.

It’s really too bad I was about to rob them blind.

It was inevitable, and if I didn’t do it, someone else would. I told myself over and over.

A month ago we had sat down and discussed potential threats and how to better defend ourselves. We looked at known NPC patterns, and came up with ideas on how to better protect our miners and other industrialists from the operations that were critical for our survival.

We had explored every option –from armed escorts, to excessive scouting and early warning intel channels.

But, we had one major chink in our armor. And that was the naivety of not considering the threat that could come from within.

I slow-boated to the nearest POS, trying to look inconspicuous, while typing some notes into a window I had opened. I would wait an hour –that would be a safe buffer zone of time, and all remaining night owls would have wrapped things up by then.

I had been planning for a week, and everything I needed was in position. The only thing I had been waiting for was the discovery of a new wormhole back to New Eden –an escape route. It’s discovery, and the fact that no one else yet knew about it was the primary reason that this was the time to execute my plan.

I would be taking home no less than 200 billion in assets tonight. And that was a low estimate. There were certain items we had discovered that were so rare, they might as well be priceless at the moment. Major null-sec alliances back home would pay a pretty penny to see how they could incorporate some of these items into their plans for null-sec dominance.

I looked down the checklist I had been writing up, and realized I had forgotten the gate under construction. There were billions of materials on-site going into the fixing of the gate.

I bit back another twinge of guilt.

The ability to fix the broken gates was probably one of our largest discoveries. While many of the gates we had found out here had been operational –our current open sector was around eight solar systems—we had found a few weird gates that seemed to not work at all.

Exploration, research, and a little trial and error had led to the discovery of tools and materials that were successful in repairing the stargates –and the first one we had repaired had added a small subregion of three solar systems to our sector. Much to the great excitement of our resident explorers, who couldn’t seem to get enough of weird sites, strange NPCs, and almost unlimited amounts of things to discover.

I turned my ship around, and headed back to the stargate.

The site of the large, black alien gate had once inspired awe in me. But today, I was focused on the task at hand. I drew up to the first construction module and started taking note of inventory and making bookmarks. I would need a ship with a much large cargo capacity for the actual haul.

People were going to be really disappointed tomorrow when they realized they would not be exploring more new systems.

Tomorrow, I'd be the most hated person in my alliance. My actions could possibly become renown, and I would be known as the guy who robbed the most successful colony in the game.

It was when I reached the fifth construction module that I realized something wasn’t quite right.

The gate was glowing. Wasn’t it only supposed to do that once it was operational?

I stared at it a moment, considering if this was going to hamper my plans. I wasn’t quite as curious as my other alliance mates, and the thought of activating the gate and checking out yet another system that was sure to be chalk full of yet more asteroids and anomalies didn’t really appeal to me particularly. Though, I suppose if I waited there might be more discoveries to make my haul even bigger…

A couple hundred billion in-hand is better than a few more billions in the bush, I thought to myself tersely. Let’s not get greedy.

The gate exploded with light. Two large beams burst forth from either end of the alien construction, and I flinched at a sound unlike any I had ever heard before. Like the machine was screaming, in a strange mechanical voice.

Someone was apparently activating the gate. Only, I was the only one here.

I quickly burned slightly away from the module I had been inspecting, and cloaked my covert ops. But it was probably too late.

A covert ops briefly appeared on my overview, before also cloaking. I did not recognize his name.

Who…? How….? Where did he come from?

A few of those brief moments passed—the ones that feel much longer then they are. And the hair rose on the back of my neck, knowing that there was an unknown pilot on grid with me, watching. Not only could I feel his cloaked presence, I knew that he knew I was here also. Watching for him.

I did not have long to wait. Apparently I was not deemed a threat.

The gate exploded with more light.

My overview exploded as dozens –possibly even a hundred or more pilots decloaked. I gaped at the list of ships, while struggling to pull my ship at a safer distance so that I was not accidentally decloaked.

These were not your average peaceful explorers. They were armed to the nine—dozens of some of the most expensive pirate battleships in the game. Along with ships I had never heard of before, and…capitals.

We had always thought these gates might have other ‘special’ qualities, but attempting to take capitals through them had not occurred to me until now –as my overview scrolled with Moroses, Archons, and other carriers and dreadnaughts.

They had freighters, transports ships. Heavy Interdictors. An assortment of command ships and tech three cruisers.

This was an armada. A deadly, purposeful force that could only have one intent.

The other covert ops decloaked nearby, and my heart sank into the floor as he dropped combat probes.

There was nothing I could do. There was no local channel on which to plead with them, or even ask them who they were. I had no friends online.

I could only watch.

Several of the transport ships started ransacking the nearby construction modules, stealing the valuable gate materials we had spent weeks collecting and preparing.

My hands started shaking as a large portion of their fleet began to align away. I warped ahead of them, knowing exactly where they were headed.

Thirteen Large….vulnerable..…POSes rose to greet me.

The hostile armada arrived moments later, taking tactical positions around the sleeping colony. And I gaped in horror as they opened fire.

The POSes broke like twigs under the collective fire of the dreadnaughts and battleships.

This was not New Eden, and none of the usual rules applied. There were no timers. No reinforcement. No time period for us to plan a different defense.

No warning.

No mercy.

Their freighters and transports were arriving, scooping everything that dropped. Valuable ships—supplies, weapons, blueprints.

And sitting there in my covert ops, I felt inexplicably small, and useless.

How naïve we had been. How stupid. We really thought we were safe? That we were the first, largest colony in this new place? We had touted our knowledge and experiences and discoveries around everywhere, giving anyone and everyone every piece of intelligence they ever needed on us.

Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.

It took less than an hour for them to destroy the colony’s main base. They left little –even salvaging much of the wreckage they caused. Out here every material—every supply was important to keep and turn into needed inventory.

Portions of their fleet broke off from time to time, no doubt to kill other bases and outposts we had in-system. By now they had probably already probed down the other gates, and were preparing to probe down our other assets in the remaining systems.

Finally, the last contingent left the site, and I was left alone to look at the devastation.

El Dorado was gone. Obliterated.

My overview blipped, as the hostile covert ops pilots decloaked where the colony once stood. He jettisoned, and appeared to be anchoring some sort of strange device –a beacon of some sort.

I looked at it more closely, and understood.

There was no ‘sovereignty’ out here. At least, not in the traditional sense. As far I've been aware.

There is only survival of the fittest.

They were planting a flag. As if to say, “We claim this.”

“We conquer you.”

I turned my covert ops around and warped away. Upon landing at the stargate leading to one of our other systems, I slipped through unnoticed, and initiated warp to the bookmark that had been made for a far different purpose.

I took one last glance around before activating the weakly blinking wormhole.

And went home.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Huola: An In-Depth Analysis According to Seuss

One frig
Two frig
Red Frig
Blue frig.

Neutral frig
Drunken swig
Gallente prig
Logi jig.

This one is amidst a mob
This one is an epic snob
Say! Everywhere there is a blob!

Yes. Some are red and some are blue
Some are vets and some are new.
Some are sad
And some are MAD
And some are, very, very BAD.

It'll pass it's just a fad.

Amarrians want to take this place
And kick the Minnies in the Face
And take the Minnies own home base!

 from there to here, from here to there,
are everywhere!

The Amarrians--they like to run!
They run for fun
In the hot, hot sun.

Oh Me! Oh My!
Oh Me! Oh My!
What a lot of Amarr go by!

Some have poorly fitted ships
Some fill local with stupid quips.
Some just need to get a grip.

One follows another,
in a perfect line
Kill the FC
and they lose their spine.

Look at this fleet
One Two Three
How many Minnies do I see?
One Two Three and Four
And a batphone just next door.

This is something new,
The Amarr only wish
they had friends too!

Bash and SMASH, we crash and YELL
Then temporary blue to kill PL!!!!
Then it's back to frigate hell.

One frig
Two Frig
Red Frig,
Blue  frig.

Old frig
PEW! frig
Dead Frig
New frig

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Treading Water

I’m in full-time summer mode right now, so my EVE time has been a little limited as of late. I find I’ve been gravitating more toward trading, as it is something I can pick at absent mindedly. If I get distracted and forget I’m logged in for an hour or two it doesn’t really matter in the way it would if you’re roaming hostile space with some alliance mates.

I decided it was time to start keeping track of the trade stuff I’m doing. Up until now, I haven’t even been using spreadsheets—it’s all been in my head, and I haven’t really had a full grasp on how much ISK I’m actually making on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. So, I tried out some application called EVE Mentat, which has been way better than keeping track manually.

I have two main projects. One is just a matter of trading in Faction War goods, and tends to be more of a long-term investment.

My second project started out as me dabbling in a low-sec market, and has turned into something a little more than dabbling. In fact, I’m planning to possibly divert some cash out of the ‘long-term’ fund in order to expand. I’ve found that low-sec trading is not only very profitable, but there’s rather fast turn-around most of the time. And this turn-around gets faster as you expand the market. People love being able to sit in one station and buy everything they need, rather than running around everywhere getting bits and pieces.

The hardest part has been figuring out how much of an item I should invest in. On the one hand, I don’t want to have to babysit my orders –restocking items every other day. But on the other hand, I don’t want to get in the situation where I have a huge mountain of something that isn’t moving very fast. Now that I’m actually keeping track of what I’m selling, it’s been much easier to get a better understanding of how fast or slow I might go through things –and how big of an order I should put up.

In fact, some things have surprised me. Items I thought would be a staple sometimes don’t sell as fast as I think they will. Possibly, because they ARE a staple and many people have stacks of them in their hanger from looting wrecks after fights, and etc. You’d think Damage Control IIs would be one of the most popular items! But…apparently it is not.

While I won’t give away all my secrets, I will tell you a few things I’ve found out:

First, tech 1 and meta items sell really well in the warzone. There’s a lot of newer players around who don’t necessarily have the skills to fit completely tech II. And there’s a lot of people who want to fit up cheap, throwaway ships. So, meta 3 items and even straight up tech 1 items actually sell very quickly.

Second, I’ve always had good luck on items that don’t drop if you die, are used up, or are consumed in some way. Cap Boosters, ammunition, drones, and rigs are some of the big ones. You have to be careful to keep the ‘right’ amount of these around, though, as people usually buy them by the stackful, if your price it right.

Oddly enough, I’ve found that being a pvper makes me a better trader. Often, I will figure out what items to trade simply because I needed something myself to fit a ship and was annoyed that it wasn’t on the market.

Most of the time, if I need something, others will too.

My biggest problem I need to solve right now is logistics. I sold my jump freighter, as at the time I wasn’t using it much at all and couldn’t justify the 6.3 billion ISK investment that could be poured into a project somewhere.

Logistics in low-sec can be painful. There are essentially three choices:

A. Nearly risk-free transport ships that hold relatively little cargo. This is mostly impractical, if you want to stock ship hulls, but okay if you’re just bringing in a few items.

B. A freighter, which is too much risk to be throwing around much in low-sec. If you bring in a freighter, then you have to have an escort and help from other people, which makes it highly inconvenient and ends up limiting how much you can even do it.

C. A jump freighter, which is low-risk and moderately good cargo, but involves an exorbitant ISK investment.

I need something kind of in-between all of those things. I don’t mind a little risk, having to scout, or etc. But having to have an escort and have the amount of risk a freighter in low-sec brings is way too much. And, I don’t mind shelling out some ISK, but 6.3 billion ISK is more then I’m willing to spend! And I don’t mind having semi-limited cargo, but the little size of the transport ship makes trading ships nearly impossible!

So what should I do? I’m all ears if anyone has any ideas.

A lot of people are talking about how they want logistics to be hard so people are encouraged to build things in places like low-sec and null-sec. And while that whole thing sounds really good on paper, I think it’s a little more complicated than that.

Firstly, what about tech 2 ships? Setting up to invent and build tech 2 ships is quite an undertaking. Imagine if you had to supply ALL tech 2 ships that way? Just the setup to invent and produce a few can be quite a huge project! And how do you get the materials you need to build the? 

And while building tech 1 ships is relatively easy –and I actually do it quite a bit for my low-sec market, you then need to ship in all the minerals. Unless, in addition to manufacturing things natively, they also expect us to go out and mine all the raw materials in-system. Which I can tell you right now—I’d probably start considering playing other games if it came to that.

I don’t see, with the current state of how things work, how they can really make places be all that self-sufficient. I think if they were to make things too hard, logistics-wise, it wouldn't encourage more on-site industry. Rather, it would simply nerf pvp and other activities, as people would have to deal with going without what they really need --or deal with massive price increases due to the added risk and pain to traders.

I have been toying with some ideas of some simple things they could do for trading and logistics, but that will probably be a post for another day.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

A Few Ideas for Plexes

It's been only a few weeks since Kronos went live, and already there is quite a lot of discussion regarding the effects of the plex changes.  I've seen a lot of different opinions, ideas, and thoughts thrown out there --ranging from people who think that everything is currently peachy, to Mynnna suggesting we replace the NPCs with hacking mini-games. (*shudder*)

After being in militia for more than three years, I've come to realize that there will probably never be that one magical fix that will make everything better in plexing. CCP 'tweaking' plexing over the years resembles the proverbial plugging of the leak in the dam, only to have three more leaks pop up elsewhere.

However, I think it would be interesting to address plexing from a new angle. I think it would be fun to make plexes more interesting--To introduce more bottlenecks--and to introduce new choices to militia.

Sometimes I think we focus so much on stopping farming, that we cheat ourselves out of ideas to make the gameplay better.

Risk vs. Reward

My first proposal is dealing with risk vs. reward. We've always discussed risk and reward in terms of difficulty and Loyalty Point payouts. However, there is something else that militia are 'paid' when they run a plex --Victory Points. And these Victory Points are what determine contestation, and ultimately sovereignty.

Right now, every plex is equal. You get the same Victory Points whether you run a novice in a barely fit Rifter, or a unrestricted Large in a Battleship.

This seems a little unbalanced to me, so I'm proposing first that we redistribute Victory Points to better match risk.

Currently, all plexes issue around 8 VP. Instead, how about

Novices - 4
Smalls - 7
Mediums - 9
Larges - 12

You will notice that this still averages to 8 per plex, for the four regularly spawning plexes, meaning that the redistribution wouldn't significantly impact how long/short it takes to take a system overall.


My second proposal is with regards to plex content. Right now, all plexes are essentially the same --with different sizes merely being different levels of difficulty with regards to time, strength/dps of NPCs, ship sizes allowed, and etc.

Now, I pretty much think that mini-games are a terrible idea, but I believe Mynnna's main point in suggesting that was to illustrate an idea outside of tweaking NPCs. And this got me thinking one step further.

Why does every plex have to be the same?

Currently, in addition to different sizes we have three plex types . In addition to the Compounds, which regularly spawn and are the 'backbone' of plexing in Faction War, we also have some randomly spawning plexes named the Installation and the Facility.

I propose that we recycle the Installation and Facility to introduce a new twist to plexing. They would still be plexes, and they would still give LP payouts and count toward sovereignty, but they'd be a bit different then they are now.

The Installation

The Installation would be the NPC cesspool, and a perfect challenge for anyone who enjoys PVE.
When entering these plexes, you are met with two opposing groups of NPCs. There would be a sort of 'mock' Faction War battle going on that you would be taking part in. (The NPCs would not actually be shooting each other, though they may taunt each other in local and the friendly 'Commander' might solicit your help in local.)

Now, these plexes are somewhat rare. They are also highly lucrative, both in terms of LP and Victory Points. But...there's a catch.

First, there is no visible timer. Rather, you are dealt 'waves' of reinforcements and a final 'boss' NPC. Once this 'boss' is killed the Plex is completed and the LP is paid out to those on grid, same as in other plexes. These waves of NPCs spawn on an invisible timer and only when the previous wave is completely killed, so to some extent, CCP can maintain a minimum amount of time it takes to run the plex.

Secondly, while these will be extremely lucrative, they'd also be extremely hard. The gates would still be restricted by size, and it will be close to impossible (if not outright impossible) for a solo pilot to run these on their own. (For example, it would be nearly impossible to run a Novice Installation with a solo frigate.)

The Facility

On the flip side, we the Facility, which would be fun in a completely different way. It would still be a timed plex, but there would be no NPCs whatsoever. Instead, in order to start the timer you'd have to kill...
wait for it....
a facility! (Cute, right?)

These would be passively tanked structures, and you'd have to kill one or more before the timer would begin counting down. They would not respawn, and no NPCs would ever spawn.

Now, there's also a catch to these.

First, these plexes will have shorter timers, and will give very bad payouts both in terms of VP and LP. It would be a nice side income for pvpers, who may also be getting LP for any kills they get inside, but it wouldn't be particularly worthwhile to farm per say.

Secondly, in addition to the facilities, there is a structure inside with a large radius, that gives anyone who comes near it an instant suspect timer. And, needless to say, you land in range of it as soon as you enter the plex.

So, in a nutshell we'd have

Installations which would introduce group PVE into Faction War, and could be really fun for new players and newer FW groups. (And perhaps fun for older groups too!) These would be difficult 'battles' that would give some interesting meaning and content to plexing in the context of  a Factional war. And give Faction War pilots some fun things to do together besides pvp.

Facilities would not be very lucrative, but would be shorter timed sites, with open suspect timers involved. They would be perfect for solo pilots with short attention spans, who have an annoyance with NPCs involving themselves in pvp affairs. They would be perfect places to hang out, and to hunt.

Compounds would mostly be as they are now, except with tiered Victory Point payouts. More difficult and risky plexes will yield more rewards when it comes to taking and defending space.

Anyway, just a couple of ideas.