Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Year 11

When I wasn't paying attention earlier this month, my 11th EVE birthday came and went. Of that decade plus one time frame, I've been in Aideron Robotics for over 4.5 years.

Wow. Time flies when you're having fun.

In other news, Federation Uprising got its alliance icon approved and put into game.


Thursday, September 14, 2017

You Reap What You Sow

I don't want to go too in depth on this Circle of Two disaster that has occurred with The Judge making off with trillions of ISK and turning over citadels to the alliance's enemies, and gigx getting banned, but I do want to comment a little.

CCP was put in an unfortunate position when gigx had the entirely human reaction to the betrayal and destruction of his alliance for all intents and purposes, and the company had to follow the reasonable policy of permanent ban for anyone making real life threats in the game or community. Its sucks for gigx and I feel for him, both for the in game loss and the subsequent banning, but CCP can't afford to be lenient in some cases and hardline in others, regardless of the publicity of events or innocence of the reactions.

CCP has created a society where almost anything is allowed in game and promoted how "EVE is Real" and so much more than a game but also put in a hard and fast line against real reactions involving threats that they are in a no win situation in this case.

CCP, you reap what you sow.

Gigx, from all reports, was your typical alliance / coalition leader. Confident, even arrogant, and not afraid to talk ill of other alliances in private chats, even if they were part of the coalition. Its a common theme in EVE politics and indeed human nature. Had he been more humble, understanding of others, a better leader, its possible that the betrayal might not have happened. Had he taken a more zen attitude about it all he would not have been banned. But then again, truly nice guys with zen attitudes rarely rise to lead null sec alliances.

Gigx, you reap what you sow.

While others deal with the blow back from their decisions and actions, The Judge strides smugly off into the sunset, his place in EVE infamy doubly secured. Not only did he pull off an impressive heist against Co2 which can be acknowledged as part of the game and a risk all alliances face, he had to stream the reactions in alliance chat and purposely provoke reactions that led to gigx's ban. That's a dick move, sir. Selling out the alliance? OK, its that kind of game. Rubbing it in faces and acting like your some sort of mastermind for it?

The Judge, you reap what you sow.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

CCP Has Learned One Thing From DUST514 At Least

Its safe to say that DUST 514 was not the huge success CCP wanted it to be and I think a portion of that has to do with the title being a Playstation 3 exclusive release. I'm sure there were reasons (inexperience with server scaling/instancing to a large number of concurrent players, etc) but at the end of the day it put a hard cap on the number of dedicated players willing to invest long term in a crowded FPS marketplace, especially considering that the players most likely to make a long term investment were long term EVE players like me who are primarily PC owners and not necessarily PS3 owners. My disappointment that DUST never made it to PC was significant as I enjoy occasional casual FPS gameplay as in Call of Duty and Overwatch.

I also had interest in trying EVE Valkyrie which was a PC title but required a VR headset which I could not afford at this time. But recently when it was announced that in the Warzone expansion coming Sep 26th that people could play the game without a VR headset.

This is welcome news and shows that CCP has learned something from DUST's failure to catch on: lowering the barrier to entry will give more people a chance to try your product. I, for one, plan to try the game out and see if my old man reflexes are good enough to do something in the game to make playing it worthwhile.

Now, if only we could get some news on Project Nova ...

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Preparing for Lifeblood

With the Lifeblood expansion announced as arriving October 24th, and people expressing desire for refineries as quick as possible after they go live, I've began planning out based on information on Singularity what I need to prepare.

First thing is make sure I have enough ISK on hand to purchase an Athanor BPO. It looks like the Tatara refinery BPO will be too expensive, in the Foritzar range (40 billion ISK), but the Athanor will be in the Astrahus ballpark (5.5 billion ISK) and thus picking one up on day 1 will be easy. Maybe get two and try to churn out as many Athanor's as possible early on to get that early adopter price gouging.

Looking at the Athanor's BPO requirements, I saw that there was two new structure components: Structure Electromagnetic Sensor and Structure Acceleration Coils. I lacked original blueprints for either of those, and they are available on Tranquility server already, so I scooped them up and threw them in the lab for material efficiency research right away.

With those details taken care of, I went to my spreadsheet to update it with information about the blueprints and get an idea for the raw mineral and Advanced Planetary Interaction item requirements for building an Athanor refinery. Rough estimate puts it roughly on par with Astrahus as expected.

With that in hand, I looked at the wallet and decided to lay down ISK to buy minerals and components to build 10 Athanors right out of the gate. This is to satisfy my alliance mates looking for structures for the moon mining race, and for the open market. With those stockpiled, I can see how much liquid capital is left and start planning out the next purchases.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Cloud Ring Invasion

While I've spent August recuperating and regenerating my batteries, things in EVE have been going a little weird in my social circles.

Take a look at this map:
Click for full size
Not only is my little alliance, FEDUP, on the map for sov in a null sec region in U65-CN near the top middle, our Gallente Militia allies WANGS controll 12 systems in the north east, BEBOP 7 systems in the south east, and GVMA controls DY-F70 in the south middle.

Before I took my break we were playing around in Cloud Ring because faction warfare has been ignored for a long time and suffered from unintended consequences of the new structures. As the group of some (or all) of the main Gallente Militia alliances made inroads into the residents there, we began to take sovereignty and plant our flags.

It was surprising coming back and seeing how much of Cloud Ring has been taken and the area seems to be heating up as evicted and threatened residents fight back and call in reinforcements from neighbours.

I'm ambivalent about it all. On one hand, I'm happy for the success and excitement the alliance and allies have found in the region, but I find my heart lies in low sec in general and the warzone in particular. I'm hoping that this respite from our constant attention has given some breathing room to our Caldari opposite numbers and allowed them to start opposing us again. I don't know if I'm ready to move back to null sec...

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Assault Frigates - Squeezed Out of the Meta

The main problem with Assault Frigates is nothing to do with the ship class itself directly, but more a problem with the overall meta and realities of EVE Online.

* * * * *

How many things can you do in a ship? Off the back of my hand, you can:
- do damage
- tank damage
- heal damage
- do electronic warfare
- tackle
- scout
- hack
- transport stuff
- mine
- probe

Lots of stuff right? Most of those roles have a cheaper tech I version and a more specialized tech II version. But the first two, causing and absorbing damage, tend to be extra overloaded, even if we break the "causing damage" into two for short range and long range damage, and another 3 for small/medium/large ship sizes.

Take for example the Gallente line of ships:

Small short ranged damage: Incursus, Comet, Catalyst, Enyo
Small long ranged damage: Tristan, Algos, Ishkur, Hecate

Medium short ranged damage: Thorax, Deimos, Phobos, Brutix, Proteus
Medium long ranged damage: Vexor, Vexor Navy Issue, Ishtar, Myrmidon

Large short ranged damage: Megathron, Hyperion, Megathron Navy Issue, Kronos
Large long ranged damage: Dominix

I've taken some liberties classifying the ships as obviously the role of ships is largely determined by how they are fit and many of the ships can fit in both roles. And I'm ignoring specialized ships that cause damage as well as performing another role like Command Bursts or Interdiction.

Overall there is a decent balance between cost of a ship, its damage potential, its tanking potential, and its flexibility. For example, the decision of taking a Tristan frigate or an Algos destroyer is based on whether you want a cheaper ship with more speed or a more expensive ship with more damage and tank.

So here's the problem with Assault Frigates. They are supposed to help straddle the divide between Tech I frigates and Tech I cruisers by providing more damage and tank than frigates while still being faster and more mobile than cruisers, but the advantages of being smaller and more mobile are outweighed by the fact that cruisers are 50% to 66% cheaper than assault frigates while having better damage and tank (most of the time). In other words, they are not worth the ISK for the upgrade over Tech I frigates compared to cruisers. Meanwhile Tech I destroyers offer damage and tank upgrades over frigates for a modest price increase, and Tactical Destroyers offer a huge boost in damage and tank and capabilities that is worth the large price tag vis a vis cruisers.

Do Heavy Assault Cruisers suffer from the same issue? After all, they are positioned to be the stepping stone from Tech I cruisers to Tech I battleships, and are in competition with Tech I battlecruisers and Strategic Cruisers. To a large part, yes, HACs suffer from the same squeeze but get a little relief from the price of battleships only being ~25-35% cheaper than the Tech II cruisers, as well as having enough module slots to make up for some of the shortcomings.

Also, while both assault classes have a bonus to reduce micro warp drive signature bloom by 50%, giving them some unique advantages over their competitors, the advantage for frigate classed ships is not very noticeable while the cruiser class in certain situations and fits can boast a decent gain.

The end result is that Assault Frigates are at the bottom end of the usage profile for ships in EVE. How do we address that?

CCP has three options:

1 - Leave them Alone

There is nothing that says that Assault Frigates have to be worth it in the game at all. CCP could leave them alone and concentrate on balancing the existing ship classes that do see frequent or moderate use. The downside is that it would leave a decent concept languishing and CCP still needs to update them for art assets and code changes regardless, unless they choose to simply remove them.

2 - Lower the Build Cost

If Assault Frigates were closer to the cost of Tech I cruisers they would be able to compete with them more. It would be a trade off in damage and survivability of the cruisers for more speed and agility and smaller signature of the assault frigates without adding in the huge extra cost.

3 - Increase their Stats

Another option instead of lowering the cost is to make the cost more worth it by simply making them deal more damage and/or have even more tank. This approach is the least appealing because if you increase the abilities of the assault frigates to make them worth the 25 million ISK, you run the risk of obsoleting Tech I cruisers completely if they can't compete at all with the upgraded ships, and even making them obviously preferable over destroyers and Tactical Destroyers.

4 - Give me a Unique Ability

I mean beyond the current unique ability that reduces MWD sig bloom by 50%, which as I discussed has less value for a small sig ship compared to a larger cruiser. The trick here is finding an ability or set of abilities that makes the ship class have a unique role or niche without butting into the role of an existing class. For example, longer range on warp disruptors/scramblers or some immunity to stasis webifiers and they start to look better than interceptors. Another idea bandied about was having their MWDs immune to being shut off by warp scramblers but that runs the risk of making them near impossible to catch without a specialized counter webbing ship.

Whatever CCP decides to do (if anything) they will have to be careful in the packed meta that assault frigates live in not to push something else out in the shuffle.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Burned Out

At the end of June my wife had elective surgery to remove some organs that were causing more hardship than they were worth. It was a decision multiple years in the making and not made lightly, but the hope was that short term pain would be returned in long term gains.

In this instance, short term is 6-8 weeks recovery time from a successful operation (which it was).

I was perhaps a little naive about what that time period was going to be like. Being told she could not lift anything heavier than 10 lbs for about 2 months didn't prepare me for the absolute incapacitation she actually found herself in due to pain and discomfort. She can't be on her feet too long, can't sit up straight at a table, can't drive, etc.

As a result of this inconvenience at lot more responsibility has fallen on me (and a little bit to the 3 boys in our house) including all my jobs I was responsible for before the surgery, and a lot of jobs that were not in my area of concern like laundry, mopping, vacuuming, driving kids to dance classes, groceries, etc. Its not that I was incapable of doing them before (I am a modern man after all), its just that my wife as a stay at home mom had more time during the week while I was at work to deal with those jobs.

Anyway, I'm very busy both on weeknights and weekends. My downtime has shrunk and it was not very generous before. On the upside, my wife praises how I am working so hard and taking it in stride and not complaining.

On the downside, however, I am burnt out. Emotionally and mentally wiped almost every day.

Right now its hard to log into EVE and have to deal with other players, even if they are friends and allies and good people. Its hard to get the energy to do anything more complicated and demanding than Clash Royale.

I need a vacation.

Fortunately, I have one planned in a couple weeks where I take the family camping. Unfortunately, if my wife is still in pseudo traction it could be an exhausting trip.

All of this to say that I'm sorry the blog has been light on meaty topics this summer. Unavoidable circumstances have put me at a disadvantage for writing engaging posts. I'm hoping once my wife returns to some semblance of functional that I will as well.

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