Friday, November 16, 2018

High Sec Sucks

The announcement of the new FLEX structures at EVE Vegas (why don't they call it EVEgas?) was good news for me as I intended to add the structures to my structure manufacturing lines. But the actual release date for Onslaught raced up on me faster than I expected and it was Monday morning when I realized that this was the week.

I had done no pre-purchasing of parts, no pre-building of components, nothing. Crap.

Well, better late than never. I planned out my purchases, set the buy orders for minerals, and headed to Jita for the more esoteric planetary parts. On the way back I manually piloted gate to gate always on the lookup for problems... but after I passed Udema I got relaxed and I allowed myself to get distracted for 15 minutes after warping to the Balle gate. I got back to my computer and my heart froze: a Macharial was yellow boxing me and had bumped me 76 km off the gate.

Oh Shit.

I knew I was already fucked but I closed the client anyway and logged in an alt that I zoomed over to Balle. I tried to bump the Mach away from bumping me but it was a lost cause. I watched sadly as another newbie ship suicide ran my freighter to keep the timer going.

The Mach pilot opened up a convo with me and asked for a billion ISK to let it go. "I already have a fleet of catalysts on the way, but you pay me and we'll just gank something in Udema." I said no figuring that paying it would only add to my total loss. There is no trust in EVE.

I made a counter offer. "Let me go and then I'll give you 1 bil."

"That's not how this works," he replied.

It was worth a shot.

Finally 15 minutes later (and 25 minutes after I logged out) the catalyst fleet arrived. The end loss was almost 9 billion ISK, of which 1 billion came out my pocket (for the ship), the rest hitting the bottom line of the corporation.

Later I picked myself back up, got back to Jita, got a new freighter, another load of parts, and even more carefully made my way back to base, ready to kill the client at the first sign of anyone looking at me sideways. I made it back without incident.

High sec sucks.

Thursday, November 08, 2018


As EVE's sunset period slowly progresses we are starting to see the effects of a lower overall player base.

As you can see, the 2018 max PCU is maintaining parity with 2017 so far for the most part, but these numbers don't reflect overall activity of those pilots. I'm noticing a definitely downward trend of activity in low sec so I went to Zkillboard and scraped the number of kills from Black Rise region, one of the bloodiest battlegrounds between Gallente and Caldari Militias in years past.

As you can see, the spring of 2018 was the worst in the past 3 years for the Black Rise region as GalMil moved to null sec for all intents and purposes.It improved over the summer months (as Gal Mil came back and reasserted dominance over Cal Mil) but has dropped back to the sub 25K kills per month for both September and October.

Plotted differently while showing the percent change compared to the previous year, we see a dramatic shift.

This October represents a -42% drop in number of kills compared to 2017 October. No month in 2018 was higher than 2017. Black Rise is slowly drying up. I'm willing to bet the same can be said of other low sec areas overall.

I believe the active playerbase is contracting and PvPer's will have to roam farther afield from low sec to find content. Maybe Gal Mil and FEDUP had the right idea investing into null sec and I'm the one with my head in the sand wanting low sec to be what I remember.

Thursday, November 01, 2018

Gaming On The Dad Side

Fatherhood is exhausting.

I thought having little kids was tiring, having to feed, bathe, clean, and basically give them so much attention. "Just wait until they are older," I told myself, "when they can entertain themselves, wash themselves, do chores.... then I will be relaxed."

And part of that is true. The kids are more self reliant. They bathe themselves, have chores to help around the house, can read or play together... overall it was what I expected. But what I did not expect was the new demands. Dealing with homework, getting kids to their extra curricular activities all over town, ensuring homework/projects are done, breaking up disagreements (no one fights like siblings do). And through it all, making sure everyone still gets the attention from me and my wife they need to be emotionally fulfilled. Times three.

One twin is a competitive dancer. He is in dance class for 3 hours Tuesday night, 2 hours Wednesday night, and another 75 minutes on Saturday afternoons. His twin brother is learning guitar and does martial arts two times a week, along with doing scouts which meets once a week and has lots of other activities throughout the year like camping this past weekend (more on that in a second). The younger brother is pretty laid back and just does the scout thing as well, and once a week does a skating class, bot because he wants to play hockey, he just wants to skate better with his friends at public skating (there is an arena near school).

And outside of all of that we still need to keep the house functioning and keep connecting with each other. My wife and I are busy, and it feels like there is little time to recharge.

A perfect microcosm of this hectic life was last weekend. The Cub Scouts had a two night camping trip planned. Because my youngest has food allergies I volunteer and go along to manage the cooking and watch the ingredients for potential allergens. We arrive Friday evening and set up camp and try to sleep through the 4 degree Celsius temperatures. Even with two sleeping bags (one inside the other) and two other blankets (one above and one below) I still was chilled by my air mattress sucking heat away from me. Kids were not as cold thankfully.

Saturday I spent the cold day following around my youngest son through the planned activities and cooking meals. But as dinner time came along rumours of a snow storm floated and the flakes began to fall around 5. By six the accumulation was picking up and 15 centimeters was forecast. My tent was just a summer tent not designed to handle the heavy snow that was falling on it, so I made the decision for a speed packup in the storm, throw everything and my kids in the van, and get the hell out of dodge. The roads were hell so the normally 40 minute drive took twice as long Saturday night in the poor visibility of the storm.

Sunday I spent part of the day trying to recuperate and part putting all the camping stuff back in the crawlspace. It barely felt like I had a weekend at all before I was back at work.

Fatherhood is exhausting.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Quick Thoughts On EVE Vegas News

As the title says....

New FLEX Structures:
Basically the replacement for jump bridges, cyno beacons, and cyno jammers currently living on POSes, I'm glad they are all coming at once and hopeful they can finally give the POS code the viking burial it deserves. I'm looking forward into seeing if I can integrate them into my structure building efforts of Project Vulcan, but since they are null sec only its hard to get excited about them.

New Triglavian Ships:
I haven't had a chance to try out the current Triglavian ships! Really should get on that... anyone have some good fits handy? Honestly, the low sec casual roaming I do is not conducive to expensive trick ships, so hard to say how much it will impact me. I've seen only one Triglavian frigate in combat on my roams so far.

Cooperative and Competitive Abyssal Sites
I wholeheartedly approve. The one thing I did not like about Abyss sites in the initial release was the inability to run them with friends. As my motto stands "Do Things With Others" and Abyss sites were purely solo content (except when you came out). Hopefully the rewards scale with the effort of three pilots appropriately.

Project Nova
Assuming this is a PC version of a new Dust514, I'm looking forward to it. I like First person shooters even though I suck at them, and was very disappointed when Dust was a Playstation exclusive.

EVE Echos Mobile MMO
Meh. I highly doubt EVE's gameplay can flourish in a phone/tablet setting.

Overall some decent things on the horizon for the game, if not for me personally. I really wish Low Sec would get some unique love and not just overlaps with null sec and the rest of the game.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

The War on War Declarations

I've never liked the War Declaration mechanic in EVE.

I mean, I understand the original intent behind war declarations. CCP wanted players to have the ability to fight over resources in the tightly controlled space of high sec so they gave corporations the ability to declare war on each other, removing the obstacles of CONCORD or sentry gun interference and removing any potential security status penalties.

CCP had visions of groups with roughly equal size and skills clashing in battles over moons and asteroid belts.

And this can still happen! But its vastly in the minority. Instead what the players use the mechanic for is basically extortion and seal clubbing.
Groups of veteran PvP players go around and declare war on groups of carebears, asking them for ISK or lose their ships / structures / etc, and if they have the nerve to stand up and try and fight, are bashed in the head via station games, blingy PvP ships, and more experience.

Not to mention the groups of players that just war dec everything they can and sit in trade hubs camping gates all day, using the mechanic as a way to bypass high sec rules.

Its a shitty mechanic that allows the experienced and strong players to prey on the newer and weaker players without consent or reasonable recourse and it sucks and I think it drives players away.

And now we have evidence from CCP indicating that it's true:

CCP Larrikin pulls up activity data for players of corporations that have wars declared against them and it shows considerable activity drops in all activities during the war. They also show that the low activity continues after the war ends. Brisc Rubal noted that the numbers here were so stark, it would justify immediately removing war decs as a mechanic and promising a fix after the fact. The CSM in general were surprised at how stark the numbers were and noted it was clear this mechanic was having a significant impact on player recruitment and retention.
A comment was made in that summit that perhaps those numbers suggest removing war decs immediately. I wholeheartedly agree.

The concept is flawed, built for a style of gameplay and environment that no longer exists. Get rid of it.

* * * * *

OK, now that its gone and the wailing and gnashing of teeth has died down, the game does need some mechanic to deal with competition over the actual things worth fighting over in high sec that should not have absolute safety. Not asteroid fields or trade hub jump gates (both of which already contend with suicide ganks), but rather structures.

I propose that once declaring war against corporations is gone, we replace it with the ability to bribe the NPC government agencies to look the other way while a structure is attacked. The owners of the structure can be attacked too, but only in that system. This would give casual / noobie / pacifist corps an option besides the "hire mercs or learn how to fight" (which really is "watch you get scammed or die horribly to experienced PvPers"). Or of course, what they do now, which is log out and stop playing.

Now that proposal is not fleshed out, its an off-the-cuff idea thrown out to show that I think a radical rethinking of high sec PvP needs to be done, and radical actions need to be taken. EVE desperately needs something.

Time is running out.

Monday, October 01, 2018

A Month In Stay Frosty

I'm really sorry for the lack of blogging lately, I'm still playing and EVE news is interesting, I've just been lazy :)

September is over and so is my first full month in Stay Frosty, running Sunday Night Roams in small kitchen sink gangs and seeing what we can turn up. Its been decent:

Nothing like the heyday of low sec and faction warfare, but not completely without action. Some excitement does not register on the killboard, like last night when I entered a FW plex to engage a Rifter (Scout/Tackle FC best FC) in my trusty dual rep Incursus only to find myself counter-tackled and a Chremoas alliance tournament ship uncloaking 50 klicks away.

Ho ho, a trap. My fleet comes in and the enemy flees (I lost my point barely on the Rifter) so no losses, but I did comment that I found that tactic is a pathetic use for an AT prize ship, baiting in almost perfect safety where there is not even a chance someone might land on you from warp and uncloak you accidentally.

Of course, some might point out that going around in a gang and ganking solo or duo ships is not very sporting either, but at least our initial tackle ships put it on the line and there is a chance the enemy might spring a trap with more or bigger ships and a pitched battle occurs. Sitting deep in a plex with a covert ops cloak and running at the first sign of a challenge is not the same thing.

But whatever, caring is the path to madness.

As for my Sunday Night Fleets, I've noticed once again that consistency is the key: putting the fleet up at the same time and night every week slowly brings in more pilots and we have more options on what we can engage as a result, getting more excitement and luring in more pilots. First couple weeks was just a handful of us, last couple weeks we started to peak around 10. That's the sweet spot, 10 to 15 pilots. Enough to cover all the roles of scout, tackle, damage, and a logi bro or two.

Good times! I highly recommend the Stay Frosty Retirement Program for aging low sec PvPers.

Friday, September 21, 2018

I Am Writing Fiction Again

Long time ago I used to write fiction on Fridays and ended up writing a heck of a lot of stuff (most set in EVE universe) which you can find in the Fiction tab. I won a couple EVE short story contests and always felt I had the potential to actually write a novel (or series of novels) if I just put my mind to it and found the time.

Life is funny. As the kids get older (twins are now 10 and little surprise is 8) and the can occupy themselves more often and their bedtime moved from 8 to 8:30, I am finding myself with some free time in the evening that was not there before.

Shocked, I'm sure.

So I've decided to try and write about an idea that has been rolling around in my brain for the better part of 5 years.

God, its hard. Writing a short story in the EVE universe is liberating because you have do not have to build a world and you can to cut right to the point. But writing a story that is going to require you to build a world in the process and decide how that world works and what living in it would be like is daunting.

But I'm not getting any younger, and now is the time to try.

Wish me luck.

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