Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Fleet Comms Discipline

When you are in a small gang, fleet comms discipline is not all that crucial as everyone basically has the same job of "get the enemy ship". But as fleets increase in size and distinct roles begin to develop, it becomes more important to respect comm discipline and understand when it is and is not appropriate for you to speak up.

First let's divide all the pilots into 5 groups:

Command - The FC / backup FC
Logistics - All the pilots providing reps to the fleet
Intel - scouts, spies
Mainline Offense - DPS ships
Auxiliary - Ewar, tackle, links, command dessies with jump fields

Command always has the gavel when it comes to being able to speak or interrupt on fleet comms. If the FC is giving orders, you should be listening and not talking. Prior to a battle, the Intel group is the second most important speakers on comms, followed closely by the pilots in logistics. During a battle, they swap positions with logistics being more important than intel.

Most of the time, Mainline Offense should be mostly quiet. When not in combat, they can use comms to ask quick questions or update on relevant info, but keep it to a minimum. During combat, these pilots should be silently broadcasting for reps or cap as needed, following instructions, and dying in silence as it may be. You die, type -1 in fleet chat and try to reship or whatever, but don't moan on fleet comms, it just muddies the water for the rest of the fleet. In smaller fleets, a simple " down" might be OK.

Pilots in the Auxiliary should be almost silent for the entire battle, exception being calling out important targets being tackled, jammed/damped, or jumped off.

Things no one should ever ask/say on fleet comms during a battle is "where are you?", "I lost my ship and I'm coming back", "what should I fly", "I'm dying!!!", etc.None of that is helpful to the FC or the fight (unless you are bringing back a carrier or dreadnought that can turn the tide singlehandedly.

If you can't find the fleet in system, use Warp To in the fleet window to warp to a pilot you know is in the fight, like the FC.

Follow Comms Discipline and you'll be welcome in most fleets. Don't and you will be THAT GUY.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Slugfest in Akidagi

Last night we joined up with other Gallente Militia corporations/alliances in a Navy Mega/Mega fleet and went to shoot at a Templis CALSF Astrahus in Akidagi system of Black Rise.

Our fleet was about 45 pilots and we anxiously scouted the Templis HQ system of Aivonen and other system of known pirates and other Cal Mil forces for incoming fleets. Soon reports of a Rattlesnake fleet in Aivonen were heard, as well as an incoming Megathron fleet from The Bastard Cartel. As Templis jumped in we warped to the Aivonen gate and engaged the enemy, but it quickly became apparent we lacked the reps from our erstwhile Guardian logistics wing so we called in FAX triage reps and the enemy called in a Dreadnought.

Over the next 30 minutes we exchanged blows, targets, kills, and deaths. We lost one of our two Apostles but destroyed an enemy Naglfar, and as our fleet moved from one battleship target to the next we finally forced the surviving enemy to retreat. Despite being significantly outnumbered we held the field and won the ISK war.

Click for full size, link to BR here.

Major props to Cal Mil foes for bringing the fight and our Gal Mil bros for a great battle! Video incoming...

Friday, July 22, 2016

What If...?

Back in June of 2011 CCP released the Incarna expansion for EVE Online and instigated the Summer of Incarnage where massive player revolts and cancelling of subscriptions caused CCP management to step back in horror, look deep inside themselves to find the fault of hubris, publically apologize and reversed course by pouring development back into spaceships and the environment they exist in. The avatar gameplay and environment has since languished in the 6 years hence excepting a few new clothing and accessory options.

In hindsight we can see that the ambitious plan for Incarna and beyond was doomed to failure and its easy to forget the excitement and anticipation for walking in stations content that reached a high point after the character creator was released in Incursion expansion 7 months before. So let's play a game of "What If?" in the tradition of Marvel Comics...

Imagine, if you will, that instead of delivering a single captain's quarters with graphics that melted video cards, that CCP delivered all four captain's quarters with Incarna release. In addition, the quarters also gave players options to make minor changes and add decorations, some decorations that were rare and could only be found in exploration sites and missions or purchased from other players on the market?

* * * Alternate Universe Sequence of Events * * *

Jun 2011 - Incarna releases to mixed reviews, some players happy with the player quarters in stations, many still frustrated with lack of development of spaceship gameplay. CCP vows to dedicate some more resources to in-space content but will continue forging ahead with in-station content as well.

Oct 2011 - More content for customizing quarters are released including large quarters that players can opt to lease via a monthly ISK payment. Demo of two players in single quarter (i.e. occupant and visitor).

Dec 2011 - Concourse release - The captain's quarter door opens to an elevator that takes players to an instanced version of a station concourse (only one version for now based on Caldari designs but more planned). Each instance allows up to 10 players to interact, with a bar and a dance club to attend with simple attractions like having a drink or dancing on the dance floor. Or you can simply go to the concourse observation lounge and look at the station window which actually shows the station's system (but not real time with ships in space, static view only). Players rejoice at finally being able to interact outside of ships.

Feb 2012 - Players allowed to have 1 visitor to quarters, new minigame added to players quarters and concourse bars based on simple Slay game. Minmatar concourse released. Concourse instance player limit increased to 20.

Mar 2012 - First Slay championships run by players held in Jita.

Summer 2012 - Periculum expansion released which brings in game gambling to EVE. Players now have the option to go to an instance of the station casino where they can wager their ISK in NPC run gambling games with other players. Also, players can arrange private games of a poker-like card game with other players where the stakes can be ISK or other in game items. Gallente and Amarr concourses released, the former with tattoo parlour where players can get custom ink and the latter with a Chapel. Caldari concourse gets Mindclash arena where players can participate in battles of Mindclash with other players or NPCs, while the Minmatar concourse gets the Bazaar where unique items such as quarters decorations and avatar accessories can be browsed and purchased. In station game play activity begins to compare with in space activity as subscription number increase of players looking to participate in sci-fi roleplay.

Winter 2012-2013 - Player Owned establishments added to game that allows players to rent space on a station to set up their own business, one of bar, dance club, casino, or Mindclash arena. These can be customized with decor, minigame consoles (along with the Slay analog there are a host of 1 and 2 player minigames now), and extra facilities for more gambling, space, etc, all cost ISK. The number of players joining EVE that no longer do any in-space gameplay except for moving from one station to another represents a full one third of the EVE playerbase. Wars to drive players out of null sec stations to set up their own establishments in high traffic areas become a regular occurrence.

Spring 2013 - Corporate Offices added so that corporation can rent space on stations for housing a corporate office that players can visit for recruitment information, and member players can visit to join private corporate meetings which can be as simple as minigames, poker games, small mindclash matches, or use the holo-map control to discuss war strategy.

Fall 2013 - CPP releases Legion, new gameplay which allows avatar-based combat. Instanced zones on planets added to the game with similar functions like station concourses and hosting player owned establishments, along with new "laser" combat games similar to paintball courses.

Summer 2014 - Assault release brings full on station combat via avatars in null sec player owned stations. Players have to assault a station and try to take control of its vital systems (engineering, security, command, etc) in order to take control, while other players resist the station assault. Whole new class of player arises that specialized in avatar combat and needs to work with space combat players to get close enough and drop shields to launch assaults. When station is taken over, hostile players still stuck in the station lose access to concourse and are limited to their quarters only.

Meanwhile, development of tools to allow player run Mindclash tournaments has increased the quality of play to the point where CPP runs an Alliance Mindclash tournament where the prizes include new Elite level quarters, unique decorations for quarters or establishments, and new unique avatar accessories.

Summer 2014 - Avatar gameplay in EVE has surpassed spaceship gameplay as the number of features has increased. Avatar-based exploration being the latest feature, where players can search abandoned ships and stations for valuable artifacts or data while watching out for NPC rogue drones, traps laid by NPCs and other players, and other players themselves.

* * * * *

What if...? Well, we'll never know.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Game Review - Overwatch

My lunchtime gaming group at work was getting tired of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare around the same time that Overwatch by Blizzard was released and we decided to buy it and give it a go.

At first I was put off by the unrealistic "cartoony" visual style but quickly overcame that due to the enjoyable mechanics and rock/paper/scissors dynamic at play in the matches. The maps are gorgeous albeit a little simplistic and the game runs very smooth and fluid.

While everything runs smooth, the number of game modes is limited (4 although one is a combination of 2 others) and the number of maps are limited at 12, and to make matters worse, each map is only used for one game mode each (so three maps per game mode). However, alleviating this lack of diversity is the fact that 3 of the modes have an attacking side and a defending side which play very differently, and the fact that the large roster of characters have a wide range of playstyles.

The main concept behind Overwatch is that of character abilities and which characters counter them, and how a team of 6 characters can synergize their skills better than the other side can. In the most simple terms, this means a team that picks and plays characters that compliment each other while countering what the other team has, and in more complex terms this means communicating via pre-canned messages and voice communications to coordinate attacks and counter-attacks.

There are four types of characters: Attack which excel at dealing damage while very mobile, Defense which excel at more static defenses and damage dealing, Tanks which are made to absorb/block damage from hitting the rest of the team, and Support which primaryly means healing damage but also includes providing different kinds of boosts. The ideal team has characters from all the types in various combinations and that is where the lack of diversity of maps/missions is made up. You can try all the different characters in all the different game modes with different team make ups and have extremely different experiences, thus increasing the playability. Even if you choose to "main" with one or two characters, i.e. exclusively use a small set of characters in all missions and maps, there is still a lot of variety in what the rest of the team uses and what your opponents are using against you. Yes, some themes in character combinations become noticeable like the Reinhart tank with Mercy support on attack or the Torbjorne/Bastion defense pairing, but the balance is done well enough that other combinations are not rare for the same types of roles. And so far when a character is over-performing or is not being selected at all, Blizzard has not been afraid to balance abilities and stats in order to restore order.

Overall I find myself really enjoying the game. I'm not the best FPS player but the match maker has been pretty good about putting together matches from players in queue that are reasonably equal. I look forward to the future new characters and maps and modes that they have planned.

Overall: Recommend

Monday, July 18, 2016

Back When I Was a Kid...

Blog Banter 77 - The Malaise
Is there a malaise affecting Eve currently? Blogs and podcasts are going dark and space just feels that little bit emptier. One suggestion is that there may be a general problem with the vets, especially those pre-Incarna and older, leaving and being replaced by newer players who are not as invested in the game. The colonists versus immigrants? Is this a problem? Are there others? Or is everything just fine and it's just another bout of summer "ZOMG EVE IZ DYING!"
I always get suspicious when someone, even myself, laments that things were better in the past. If one digs deep enough we often find that its not that things were better in the past, but rather the new and unknown is scary and intimidating while the old known environment is comfortable like an old worn shoe despite the wearing seams and sprouted holes.

So let's apply a critical eye to some of the things being said in this month's blog banter.

Blogs and podcasts are going dark
Well, this has been an ongoing issue for years and not just an EVE phenomenon. Podcasts are always going dark as casters lose interest or move onto other projects (after all, no one is making money from free podcast episodes) and new podcasts come on the scene to replace them. As far as I can tell, there is the same amount of hours from talking heads in the EVE podcast community as there was 5 years ago, if not more. As for blogs, they have been replaced by a combination of EVE News Sites that take the most prolific writers and pay them for their services, and Twitch streaming that reaches wider audiences for showing gameplay experiences. Gaming blogs all over have been dying with the rise of Youtube and Twitch and others.

space just feels that little bit emptier
We literally JUST finished a massive null sec war (perhaps one of the biggest) that shook up the old guard political meta and had people logging in that had not been seen in years in great numbers. Now we're heading into the aftermath of that war in which traditionally a large number of the losing side pilots take a powder for a bit, combined with summer weather in the northern hemisphere that correlates to lower login numbers, and yes space is going to feel emptier as a result while the winners consolidate and losers recuperate and summer invigorates.

One suggestion is that there may be a general problem with the vets, especially those pre-Incarna and older, leaving and being replaced by newer players who are not as invested in the game.
Darn kids don't respect their elders like we used to! This seems like pure bunk to me, claiming somehow the "older" generation had some magic grit and perseverance that the younger generation lacks. While I grant that the gaming environment now compared to 10 years ago has changed, I don't think it means that newer players are less committed to the game than we were.

All that being said, I don't think its unreasonable that gamers coming of age today have different expectations of games than we did 10 years ago. As beautiful as EVE is in screenshots and cinematics, its not a visually entrancing game to actually play. As improved as the interface is over ten years ago, its still a monstrosity of menus, commands, and windows. Let's face it, EVE is a product of 13 years ago, practically a generation, and the visually stunning games available now tend to make EVE show its age. Make no mistake: EVE is an amazing game that has improved with age and has incredible depth that other games cannot match, but it IS a product of a previous generation or two in terms of game life cycles.

All that is to say, yes, EVE is dying. As I wrote last October in a post called Twilight:
After 9 years of play I can honestly say that EVE the game is in the best place its ever been.
But EVE is dying.
I don't mean "hemorrhaging blood from a gaping wound on the floor" dying. EVE's death is not imminent barring a sudden unexpected disaster in Iceland. I mean "we're over the hill and entering the golden years" dying. EVE's most vibrant and alive time is in the past and I don't think its coming back. We are fully in EVE's twilight.
Later on in that post I continue:
Couldn't EVE regain the glory days and subscription growth? I don't know, the world has changed a lot in the past decade and the potential pool of players has different expectations and that critical mass of players that grew like a black hole in a dust cloud has shed enough bitter veterans to poison the well just enough to break the feedback look. I think we still have enough to stave off immediate collapse, CCPs actions for the past two years have assured that, but we are never going to grow significantly again.
EVE is slowing down not because of any maliciousness or mishandling of the game, its simply gotten old. Unfortunate, but true. I think the game has a lot of life left in it and I'm truly excited for the coming winter and the next set of structures and the future in store. Its possible EVE's twilight could last another 10 years of great gaming as long as CCP keeps putting real effort into it. But let's not pretend that us of the original EVE players were somehow special in forging this gameworld community and that newer players lack that secret ingredient in their makeup.

EVE is still the best internet spaceships simulation out there and I welcome all old and new players in it.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016


There I was, Saturday afternoon, gearing up to fit 12 Harpy Assault Frigs and 6 Kirin Logistic Frigs when I discovered something truly shocking. Horrible even.

I couldn't get into the Kirin.

You see, years ago I made it a mandate to cross trained into every sub-capital combat ship in the game, including all weapon systems and tanking systems. Tech 1, 2, and 3. I can fly an Amarr Zealot as well as I can fly a Gallente Megathron as well as I can fly a Guristas Orthrus. As new ships and modules came out I made sure to buy the skill and train up so I would not ever be limited in what I could fly. I had gotten so used to that ability to sit in any combat ship that I was genuinely shocked when I was prevented from getting into the Tech II logistic frigate.

Fortunately for me, CCP Karkur's new Fit Fit feature, aka Multifit, allows you to fit the ship regardless of your skills for that vessel so crisis was averted. And as a result the Sunday Night Fleet got to have this little fight:

I guess I'll have to skip out and get that skill added to my queue, along with Caldari Tactical Destroyers which I seemed to have missed as well (got the other three). I've got 178 million skill points and still need more.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

My Life

Alternate title: "Why My Podcast has Podfaded this Summer"

My poor podcast. After a spring where we had one child sick for every day in the month of April (not the same child, they took turns) I thought I could get back into recording biweekly at the beginning of June but here it is middle of July and no more recordings.

The biggest problem is the good weather, combined with busy children activity schedules. To give you an idea of how this contributes to no podcast episodes, let me describe my typical week day.

5:50 - Alarm goes off, start getting ready for the day

6:10 - 7:00 - Breakfast, take care of small Eve industry and market tasks, maybe play a game for a bit.

7:00-7:30 - Drive to work

7:30 - 4:30 - Work :( Two or three times a week exercise gets an hour in here too

4:30-5:00 - Drive home

5:00-6:00 - Help get supper ready and sit down and eat. Sometimes this goes to 6:30 if the dinner prep is late started.

~6:00-6:30 - Clean up

6:30-7:30 - Parenting time - play games with kids, go on bike rides, help with reading, go to park, etc.

7:30 - 8:00 Bed time routine

Note: that block from 5:00 to 8:00 is assuming there is no activity any of the children need to go to, and right now that means Thursday night only. Monday and Wednesday Wilmick7 goes to JiuJitsu, Tuesday Aarjay10 goes to swimming lessons, later Wednesday Terjoe goes to Dance lessons, and Friday Aarjay10 has Soccer. So either my wife or I am out of the house for an extra hour or two every night except Thursday, increasing the workload.

8:00 - ~8:20 While Mrs Kodachi finishes putting the kids to bed and getting into her relaxing pajamas, I play a quick round of something like Overwatch or World of Warships assuming there is no more cleanup required.

8:20 - 10:00 Husbanding time - spend some one on one time with the wife, catch up on the day's news, make decisions about future events, etc.

10:00 - 10:30 - get ready for bed, play a little more quick game, then crash

Worth noting that from 8:00pm onward I'm pretty exhausted.

Now in the winter time that block from 6:30 to 7:30 is where we usually sit down every second week and record the podcast, but in the summer time its hard to justify going downstairs to the rec room when the world outside is so warm and inviting. Hence why the podcast suffers so in these months whereas in winter its easier to rationalize.

What about the weekend you ask? Well, weekends is full on family mode with activities and trips to museums or extended family visits, etc. The few quiet hours I get the kids are busy playing their own computer games and I am zonked and just want to chill, neither very conducive to recording. The one night a week I'm excusing from Husbanding Duty is Sunday nights when I run my infamous Aideron Sunday Night Fleet so no time to podcast there.

All of this is to say don't expect a lot of episodes between now and September :P

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