Wednesday, July 29, 2015

BB65: Are Attributes Worthless?

I’ve been reading a few of the blog banters regarding attributes in EVE, and the general consensus seems to be going in the direction that attributes are more or less worthless gameplay. One post I read claimed that they were left over game mechanics from back when we had learning skills. And several others rather frankly said they should be entirely removed from the game.

I have mixed feelings about the topic, to be honest. On the one hand, ‘meh.’ And on the other…maybe they’re more important and more indicative of things then we give them credit for. And maybe the problem with them isn’t just that ‘they exist.’

All skills generally have a primary and secondary attribute associated with them. The higher these attributes are, the faster that skill will train.

In addition to this, certain groupings of skills generally have similar attribute correlations. For example, many Gunnry skills will have Perception and Willpower as the primary/secondary. 

So, in many ways, attributes represent a sort of general way of encouraging people to specialization their characters.  If you commit toward a specific track of training, you can be rewarded by having those skills trained faster.

I think the first question, and perhaps the main problem with attributes, is whether they really ‘specialize’ in a way that makes sense with the current community and the current state of the game.

If all you want to do is train Gunnery for a year, then your choice of attributes is easy –Perception and Willpower. However, people won’t specialize in Gunnery alone. Guns are useless without ships. And ships need defenses, and drones, and some amount of electronics, among many other things. However, as you start factoring in all these things for how you want to train, it becomes more complex to figure out your attribute layout. Furthermore, your attributes are spread out more, in a way that would indicate that you’re actually specializing less.

So, it’s fairly counter intuitive. And I think that part of the problem is that the attributes are designed for a type of specialization that the players don’t really do. Therefore, they’ve come to be thought of as a rather arbitrary, useless mechanic.

However, what if that wasn’t the case? What if you could maximize skill training along a skill track that actually made sense to you?

For example, what if you could specialize in “Small Caldari Warfare” where you would maximum train typical things required by smaller Caldari ships. Such as light missiles, shields, Caldari Spaceships command, ECM and etc?

On the flip side, the whole topic raises the question about whether such black and white specialization is good for the game to begin with?

I’ve often wondered what EVE would be like if there was less of a line drawn in the sand. If being a ‘pvper’ vs an ‘industrialist’ was less black and white. 

Would there be less alts? Would people be less inclined to create a ‘trade’ alt and a ‘mining’ alt or a ‘leadership alt’? Would that be good or bad?

In other games, I typically don’t create different characters to do completely separate things in the same way. The character I do combat with also, typically, crafts and gathers resources and etc. And, I haven’t decided yet if EVE’s completely different mentality is a good thing, or a flaw.

However, again, on the flip side, what would no specialization look like? What if we did remove attributes and had a more even playing field where everyone trained everything at exactly the same rate? They could still specialize in things based on their skill choices, but they could flip flop as much as they wanted to without penalty.

Would that be a good thing? I don’t know. What about risk vs reward –something that is foundational in how EVE was designed? Should there be risk vs. reward in skill training? Should the willingness to commit to a specialization give some sort of reward in the form of higher efficiency?

Maybe it’s a bit more complicated a topic then people are considering it to be. Or, maybe I'm over analysing things.

For now, I think I’m going to revert to my initial opinion of ‘meh.’ And go back to my evil pirate schemes.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Looking Up

My EVE life has become a spreadsheet.

Many see too many numbers, and orders of endless drudgery when they think of market trading. But, out of all the ways one can make ISK in EVE, the trading profession has always been the one I’ve gravitated toward.

Unlike other things such as mining and mission running, there is no limit to how much ISK you can make in trade. There is no min-maxing the most ISK per hour, or reaching maximum efficiency. The sky is the limit, and your ISK has the potential to grow exponentially.

However, beyond the obvious ISK advantages of being successful at market trading, I find the market in EVE to be interesting in its own right. In many ways, it represents the pulse of a place. You poke at it, watch it, and stick your fingers in it until you understand the underlying thrumming that is the everyday life of the locals. 

And I often can’t distinguish whether my market research ends up being a matter of researching a system’s inhabitants in order to understand their market, or researching the market in order to understand the people that live there.

I current supply two low-sec markets. And, they are as alike as night is from day. What will sell extremely well in one place sells poorly in another and I’ve come to regard them as two separate beasts altogether.

One is a sleepy Faction War system, where I avoid the expensive stuff and hand out warp core stabs like they were penny candy. Faction frigates and tech one cruisers seem to be the popular vessels of choice and my buy orders gorge themselves on discarded drones, tags, capacitor boosters, ammunitions, and salvage materials.

The second one is a volatile, thriving, pirate cesspool.  The flavor of the day seems to fluctuate like the emotions of a moody girl, with one expensive ship class selling hot and heavy one day, and fizzling the next as some other expensive class takes its place in popularity. Faction battleships and then HACs. Tech three cruisers and then command ships. 

And I load the market with every expensive gadget--anything offering an extra 2.5% advantage for which the inhabitants will dearly pay.

My third market is an experiment I recently started in high-sec. It’s the first high-sec market I’ve traded in on this scale, in a frazzled high-to-low border system. There are several others who trade there, though their market pulse feels timid and scattered to me. Perhaps they are new –eager to reap the benefits that market trading can bring, but a little scared to take risks.

This market is also home to a couple items I purchase in bulk from those cashing in at the local loyalty point store. Combat pilots and freedom fighters slip in to drop their wares and pick up a few necessities, only to dash back out again. And I keep up ample buy orders to bank upon their haste.

And then, of course, I speculate. Speculating is like riding waves. You have the small, predictable and somewhat regular waves that null-sec alliances brings as they gently do their market manipulations and shipments from null-sec.

And then you have tall, less predictable waves that usually occur with shifting politics and local wars.
Momentary tidal waves will come in as everyone rushes toward something new and interesting. And a building Tsunami will indicate someone doing a whole lot of something general --outfitting a fleet, or stocking an alliance hangar with old reliables.

You ride, and ride, buy and sell, buy and sell, hoping that you don’t miss the peak or misjudge the quickly approaching valley.

But, for all this spreadsheet life’s interesting qualities, I always welcome that particular moment that always hits me when I’m heads down, all else forgotten, adjusting orders, riding waves, and researching new ideas. The freighter is going, and I’m scrolling and tabbing through market and wallet and journal, then market and wallet and journal.

And my Teamspeak rings and my Jabber pings and I’m jolted –looking up through a haze of numbers and percentages and margins.

“MAX DUDES GET IN FLEET!!!1” <insert string of expletives here>
"MAX DUUUUUUDES " <insert seedier string of expletives here>

And my spreadsheet life abruptly drifts away, forgotten. And once again I am a pirate.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Did He Say Jump?

Sometimes it’s all about the good fight. You try not to ship too high, or bring overwhelming force in the hope that your enemy will feel comfortable engaging you.

And other times, it’s simply about burning everything to the ground.

I logged in last night to a sleepy corp. Many were online, but few seemed active. Until, Punchy, one of our directors and FCs, logged in and announced abruptly that he was starting a fleet. 

Now, I’ve flown with Punchy many years now. And in flying with someone that long you start to learn little things –like the frame of mind they are in by the tone of their voice. I jumped into fleet very quickly, for Punchy’s particular tone of voice last night told me that some sort of spaceship violence would be occurring in short order.

It didn’t take long to whip up an armor HAC gang with Guardian support. And it quickly became evident to me that we had a destination, a target, and an Ace up our sleeve. Even though on the outside our little gang looked like a standard, spontaneous cruiser roam.

Sure enough, as soon as Punchy made the call to depart, we were burning toward Enaluri –the home system of Did he say jump? Alliance and their FC, Predator Elite. 

We set up in a Medium Plex, aligned out to the Hallanen gate. We were burned nearly 100K off the warp-in when Predator’s fleet finally arrived, closely matched to our own with armor HACs, armor cruisers, and several Guardians.

As soon as hostiles began landing on field, the command was made for our fleet to warp to Hallanen, and jump upon arrival. And so we did.

The End

(Just Kidding)

Pred’s fleet followed close behind, and we began to engage them quickly as they followed us into Hallanen.

Both sides were fully committed in the fight, and we were fairly evenly matched. That is, until our surprise arrived –a medium sized fleet of arty sleipners belonging to ‘The Bastion’ –who had decided to come around to our neck of the woods to visit a friend of theirs in IFW.

It was a classic EVE ganking, and it didn’t take long for Pred’s fleet to realize it. They began disengaging and escaping back through the gate.

Now, it is typically the case in this scenario that you gank your prey, you giggle a little, and then you go home. But it was apparently not just Punchy who wanted to make things explode last night. Intel quickly alerted us to the fact that Pred’s gang was shipping up –to battleships.

Battleships including Faction Battleships and Vindicators, with no logistics. Which, could only mean ones thing. They were bringing triage.

After a few minutes of watching them reform into their new comp, Punchy had us warp to the Large Plex within the system. While it wouldn’t completely prevent triage from arriving, it would make things a little more difficult as cynos cannot be lit inside FW plexes.

We then started getting more alliance mates into fleet. It’s amazing how many people who were ‘AFK’ suddenly are not AFK when there’s the possibility of capital kills.

A cyno went up, and Pred’s triage entered system. Local climbed as more of our own guys arrived –in a few BSes of our own. A few folks asked if we wanted to bring our own triage, but the call was made to not bringing any caps of our own. 

Local spiked with the hostile battleship fleet, and as they landed inside the plex, their triage carrier –an archon –arrived with them.

Their triage held up fairly well as we began testing squishier targets. Our logistics were getting heavily neuted by Armageddons, but we had brought some neuting power of our own in the form of Bhaalgorns, which were slowly working on the triage’s capacitor.

The Bastion lost a logi, but it was simply not going to be Pred’s day. Even as his second carrier –a Thanatos—arrived to assist the first one. 

Around the time the Archon died, a third carrier arrived –another Archon.

In the end we killed all three carriers, two vindicators and a bunch of other stuff. The Bastion lost a ship or two, and Snuffed Out managed to end the fight with no losses. (Probably because I wasn’t flying logi…lol)

Over all it was a good night. And as someone cheekily commented as we were going home, “we didn’t even have to drop supers.”

The battlereport is here. (Unfortunately, not all the hostiles on field will show up on it since nobody in Snuff died.)