Monday, April 27, 2015

Industry Changes - Followup

Its been a year since I looked at the (then) upcoming industry changes and wrote this:
But an even bigger loser in this shell game of production benefits and nerfs is the low sec producer: as much risk as null sec (if not more) but only a portion of the benefit. Low sec capital producers may really see the crunch as the volume there is less massive and can be more easily fulfilled by a number of producers operating out of shallow null sec. I can see low sec eventually becoming an importer of capital ships instead of an exporter for the markets as null sec producers would want to move their product to neutral markets to reach the widest audience. However, the crystal ball is cloudy on this issue and more time needs to pass before anything for certain can be said.
I operate in Placid and what I`ve noticed over the past 6 months is that the number of Archon and Thanatos capitals for sale on the market in this low sec system has increasingly gone upwards. As supply increases in relation to the demand, the price will drop as competition occurs. So far, what I`ve seen in my little corner of the cluster, this is holding true. Whether this is a result of increased production or decreased demand (or both) is unclear. I suspect its a case of decreased demand as the jump changes of Phoebe and the upcoming FozzieSov changes create a one-two punch of less need for capitals right now.

The upshot of this personally is a slower pace of capital production while I evaluate the market and give some time for less efficient producers to close up show to reduce demand. I am still operating at a profit, just a smaller one than previously enjoyed.

I`m hoping that once the dust settles from FozzieSov this summer I can increase production again.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Long Winding Road

** WARNING: Non-EVE Content **

How the hell did I get here?

How can I be 41 and finding a new passion in a hobby that has been around since before I was born?

Ok, let me back up. In fact, let's go way back...

*wavy flashback lines*

The scene is little Billy, about 5 years old, standing in his teenage uncles' room, looking up at a shelf filled with model cars. You know what I'm talking about, those plastic model kits that came with plastic chrome bits and water slide decals? My uncles loved cars (fast muscle cars of course) and building model kits of them was an acceptable side hobby out in the country where I grew up where you either were into cars, hunting, or sports and everything else was weird.

I was fascinated by those model cars, they looked so intricate and detailed and cool. *Cue Montage* Over time I would get into building model cars myself although I lacked the passion for cars and mechanics. Only model cars though, never planes or boats, because where I grew up and in my family model cars was culturally acceptable, other model building was not so much. And I didn't do a very good job (hey, I was just a kid) and didn't dabble in painting them or stuff like that.

Over time my innate geekiness took over my desire to fit in and I moved on from model building to other pursuits like computer and board games, and eventually into Warhammer 40K miniature wargaming.

I did Warhammer for many years, from teenager until I was in my mid 30s, but it wasn't until I was in my late 20s that I really started to pay attention to the modelling aspect of the hobby as opposed to simply the strategy and gameplay part. I think I got decently good at painting models...

But with the twins arrival (side note: they turn 7 today!) and the prospect of decreasing free time I put away the models and the paints and tools and focused on fewer hobbies.

All this back story is setup for how a series of unrelated events led me to this post. So fast forward to last winter.

I've been doing rocketry with the boys in the summer which they love and so last fall I walked into a hobby story with rocket supplies and marveled at the tonnes of model kits they had, from cars to tanks, airplanes, and ships. The twins were quite taken by the models kits and one asked for a biplane kit for a Christmas gift, so later I bought him a small cheap World War I triplane and, because when you have twins you need two of everything, we got a small tank kit for his brother.

At home I got out the glue, modelling knives, etc and helped the twins put together their kits. And it brought back a huge wave of nostalgia for those Warhammer 40K modelling days in my past.

Around the same time, I've been playing World of Tanks on and off for a few years and dabbled in World of Warplanes so was mildly interested when they announced that they were making a World of Warships game. The thought of commanding a large ship with lots of guns and torpedoes really appealed to my starship commander side and as the time passed I found myself getting more and more excited to try it out.

So we have two rising interests, a renewed interest in modelling and a new interest in early 20th century military war ships. When those collided at my next visit to the hobby store I ended up buying and building this:

Its a small kit, the whole ship is less than 30 cm long. It was an experiment to see if I even liked building a ship model or if the idea was more fun than the execution. Well, I did have fun, it stoked all the old Warhammer miniature assembling and I quickly made my way back to the store for another model, and I broke out my painting supplies from the back of the crawlspace.

So I'm currently finishing up the painting of the HMS Prince of Wales battleship as you can see from the pictures above, and plotting my next model attempt. 

Meanwhile, I made it into the Closed Beta for World of Warships. More about that next week.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

SKINned Alive

We knew about the coming Super Kerr Induced Nanocoating was coming and this week we got the official details from CCP Terminus:
Following the successful prototype Ship Painting Pilot Program we introduced last year and months of offering ship skins in the store, we have created a new more robust system, which provides a multitude of customization and usability benefits. It allows us to maintain and upgrade our ship catalog in a much more sustainable manner, and provides a multitude of interesting options for future developments. We believe the SKIN system will accentuate the visual experience of living in New Eden and allow you to put a personal mark on the ships you love most.
I was an immediate supporter of the ship painting program, and bought a few skins from the Next Store to make some Aliastra Incursus hulls to roam around Essence in. I know a lot of other players also like to pimp their rides even though in space other people are rarely close enough to see any part of your hull unless you are in a capital. Its the same logic of why World War II bomber crews put art on the nose of their planes: its for them and their buddies, not the targets receiving the bombs.

I am a fan of how some skins will be permanent fixtures on ships and how some will be time limited instances:
Time-limited SKINs will drop in game and may be available through other means in the future. They work exactly like Permanent SKINs when interacting with them. The only difference is they do not last indefinitely. Time-Limited SKINs have the following properties:
The time begins counting down as soon as the SKIN is activated. It will count down in real time from that point onwards until it expires.
If you activate a Time-Limited SKIN while you already have an active copy, it will add the specified amount of time on to the existing time left. For example: If you activated a Brutix Roden SKIN (30 Days) 2 days ago and then activate another copy today, you will have 58 days of time left with that SKIN before it expires.
Time-limited SKINs will only be for SKINs which drop in the game (We have no plans at this time to sell time-limited SKINs on the Tranquility server for Aurum.)
This means that some skins will be basic "I like that scheme and want it" or "our corp can now fly a unique scheme and look unique in videos and screenshots" while others can still be 'special' for pilots wishing to show off how rich they are.

I'm already for the conversion with some select skinned ships purchased so that my Aideron ships will rock some awesome colours. Now what we want next is corporate logos on our ships, get on that CCP! :)

Monday, April 20, 2015

What Were They Thinking?

A long long time ago, before I knew any better, I set my Caracal cruiser on autopilot and left the computer to do something else. I came back later to find my ship destroyed and podded. Turns out I did know I was supposed to tell the autopilot to go through safe security space only and it took a tour through low sec where someone had a good laugh, probably asked himself "What was this guy thinking?" and then opened fire.

No matter how long you play this game you will still often come across kills that leave you scratching your head. Sometimes its the fit, sometimes the actions of the pilot, sometimes both.

Take last night's Machariel kill for instance.

We were out in a Kitchen Sink fleet looking for trouble and had a corp mate coming from high sec near Tama in a Vexor Navy Issue and asked us to cover his jump into low sec. We were in Tama so warped to the Nourv gate on a perch and provided intel.

As we're sitting there with our VNI pilot almost ready to jump, a neutral Machariel jumps in. We debate trying to grab it but its neutral so we'd have gate guns to deal with, and there are reports of more neutrals in Nourv so we figure bait trap. Our fleet is a Caracal, Thorax, Confessor, Svipul, Atron, and Incursus, with a Comet nearby and the VNI jumping into us.

While we ponder the situation, the Machariel is moving around, and has moved off gate and towards us. Hey, maybe we should just go for it. As we get up the nerve to try and tackle it, the battleship warps off.


NO WAIT! He warped to a medium plex! LET'S GO!

Thanks to the warp speed changes and the Mach pilot warping to the plex at zero, we get point and the fleet moves in for the kill, meanwhile I'm obsessively watching local for the spike that surely is coming from his friends, right? RIGHT?

Wrong. Nothing but a third party Raptor show up, and the Raptor pilot was merely kill whoring.

Looking at his fit raised only more questions... Large cap transfer module in extra high slot? Three tracking enhancers? Barrage and Hail ammo but no faction EMP, Fusion, or Phased Plasma? Our current theory is that he was an incursion runner and simply took a wrong turn, but we may never know what exactly he was thinking.

Remember kids, TAMA IS SAFE!

Friday, April 17, 2015

N+1 Problem Redux

Listening to the latest High Drag podcast episode I was struck by a misconception some of the hosts had that I heard before. Specifically, that FozzieSov will break up large fleets into several smaller fleets during an invasion or fight over a particular station or structure as they move to cover all the command nodes exposed, thus alleviating the N+1 problem that plagued the fights in Dominion Sov.

To reiterate from a post I wrote last October when discussing the Phoebe capital ship jump changes, the N+1 problem can be stated as thus:
All else being equal, the side with n resources is at a disadvantage to the side with n+1 resources.
There is nothing in Fozzie Sov that will prevent this axiom from continuing to hold sway.

Take for example a fight in Faction Warfare over a system. Two opposing fleets are clashing to run the plexes and either keep control or take control of the system. All else being equal, the side with more pilots in ships will win the battles, drive the opponent out, and have more time to run the plexes. There are a lot of variables in play, of course, such as what fleet hull size can fit in which sized complexes, like if the defender is flying a fleet of 10 frigates in a novice plex and the mixed 15 ship attacking fleet can only get 7 of their frigate ships into the novice plex, and these situations create terrain and conditions that requires planning and proper execution to overcome. But in the end the side that has the bigger fleet and can cover all the plexes has the advantage and will win the system.

In Fozzie Sov, the scenario is different yet surprisingly similar. As far as I know, their won't be any gates preventing ships of certain sizes from helping take over command nodes and the command nodes being attacked are spread over a constellation instead of a single system. But in the end the side with more ships and superior coordination and discipline will win the battles and complete the command node hacking. There is no where for a small fleet to hide and at the same time prevent the command nodes from being capped.

Further to this, I am not sure that fleets will even break into smaller fleets to attack. In Faction Warfare, a fleet may spread its forces around to multiple plexes, but a single commander still directs the fleet and any threat see the disparate pilots coalesce on a point to attack or retreat. I suspect fleets in Fozzie Sov will react the same way, although the large distances involved may prove me wrong.

All of this to say, Fozzie Sov does not solve the N+1 problem.

What it does do, however, is introduce more variables into the decision making and actions of the fleets involved. Where Dominion Sov was characterized by massive fleets smashing into each other at one timer or another, Fozzie Sov will hopefully be characterized by more dynamic fights over multiple systems where the battlefield terrain and distributed decisions will hopefully allow for more things to be unequal over a fight and give more chances to a smaller but more coordinated and capable fleet to win the fight against the larger but less professional fleet.

In other words, Fozzie Sov wants to turn this:

Into this:

And everyone in null sec and beyond is eagerly waiting to see if it is going to happen.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Minerals Prices Spiking

Price of Megacyte in Dodixie right now... I really wish I was that guy who bought the 8 million units in March.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Null Sec Is Fun...

The drama surrounding Brave Collective and their retreat from catch with Pandemic Legion nipping at their heels, combined with the coup and counter-coup within their leadership ranks, serves a powerful reminder to me of why I ended up in low sec.

Don't get me wrong, null sec can be vast amounts of fun. There is a certain level of satisfaction of seeing your associated group come together to build something grand, something that individually would be impossible to achieve. Even if you are just a scrub in a frigate, there is a feeling that you are part of a greater whole, a cog in an important machine, build towards something glorious. Even in those fights when you do nothing but target called primaries and hit F1 you feel a sense of accomplishment. "I was there!" Sitting on the forums and discussing plans, seeing ops scheduled, watching for pings on jabber, buying the new doctrine ships... I can still feel the tingle and many days I miss it.

Null sec is fun... until its not.

The flip side of all that organization is that when the wheels come off the bus, the bus doesn't just go into the ditch, it flips and bursts into flames and everyone runs around throwing piles of flaming shit at each other. I've been there; chaos ensues, every carrier for themselves, for every bright spot of self sacrifice there are ten instances of rats abandoning the ship (disclaimer: I've been both).

Once I got out of the null sec grinder and really moved into low sec via piracy and then faction warfare, I discovered a truth. Null sec is more fun for those in leadership positions than those in the lower echelons. As a front line grunt, you don't get to see the diplomatic shenanigans, the wheeling and dealing, the strategic level planning, the secret ops, the glory of building the coalition and the agony of when it burns. From low sec I was able to clear my head, look back, and while appreciating the feeling of being part of something larger I was able to understand that in order to own my own fate I would need to forge it in low sec where the demands are lighter and the risks less destructive. Your alliance looses a station in null sec and your assets in there are locked up tighter than fort knox. In low sec in faction warfare, you send in a neutral alt.

Low risk lower reward for sure, but if you are looking for pure fun per hour (as certain organizations claim to do) then for the front line pilot low sec is the answer. More kills in a concentrated area means more action at almost all fleet sizes from solo to large fleets, excepting the largest which is the domain currently of null sec. For large scale castle builders your fun is more likely found in null sec.

I expect Brave will continue to try and exist in null sec despite the evidence that low sec is a better fit for them. I understand, null sec is addictive and there is always the belief that this time will be the time the coalition will succeed.

Good luck Brave, but if you change your mind, low sec is waiting ;)

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