Thursday, May 31, 2012

Yes I was mad, bro.

I had a BAD day at work yesterday. Very bad. I got home in an absolute foul mood. I could have kicked the cat!*

I usually get home well before the wife, so I made my own sandwich and went to the "Computer Room". I then had a choice - XBox to shoot some people in the head to relieve my frustration or Eve Online. Now, I've had a bit of a problem with Eve this week....

Last weekend I noticed I had two thousand, four hundred and something real kills (those are total kills excluding Noob ships, shuttles and pods). 2,500 looked a nice milestone to hit.... but some cosmic force had been stopping me hitting it since I discovered how close I was.

By mid-week I was at 2,496 and couldn't get passed it. Whenever a corpie said they had a ship tackled I would land and it would explode before I could lock it. I was always 5 seconds late in warping, a few thousand metres out of being in lock range and being able to whore on the kill. I'd be soloing someone and his mates would turn up and pop me as he was in structure. It was like someone didn't want me to hit 2,500.

Notwithstanding the above, Eve won, and I logged in. Apparently the Squids (Caldari Militia) had Kedama 99.9% contested, which is right nextdoor to our home system. They were running the final factional war major complex (plex) that they needed to make the system vulnerable so they could shoot the iHub. By the time we got a fleet sorted, we were too late. They had captured the plex and Kedama was vulnerable. However, we did have a nice BC fleet sat on the Kedama gate. Surely they'd all go reship into high DPS boats as iHubs have a lot of hitpoints.

No. No, they didn't.

They warped to zero and started firing on the iHub in frigate hulls and destroyers. The mind indeed boggles. How long would it take for them to take down the iHub with a dozen small ships like that?

Anyway I saw the opportunity to get over my 2,500 kill barrier. Whilst S810 jr watched from cloaky eye's, I warped my Hurricane back to station and swapped for a Disco Domi. There was a bit of an argument in fleet whether you could activate smart-bombs on a iHub so I undocked, warped to the Nisuwa iHub and tested. BOOM BOOM BOOM! Yes, yes you can!

So I warped back to the fleet and jumped through. S810 told me to bounce to the sun which I did. I aligned and waited, and S8 told me when to warp as they were orbitting at close range.

Now I'm no l33t PvP'r. BUT, if I was them (and I wouldn't be, as I'd never try to take down a iHub in a frigate) I'd be hitting DScan as war targets entered system. The iHub is very close to the sun so was very much in scan range. So even only hitting DScan one in 30 seconds would have shown a Dominix on scan. Surely anyone with half a PvP brain should think "Mmmmm Dominix, and here we are in a fleet of small ships. Surely that will be a Disco Domi?".

But they didn't.

My fat ass Domi landed slightly late and there were only two ships in range. The rest of our fleet was jumping as I landed so I fired the full rack of smart bombs anyway. BOOM BOOM BOOM. Then something truly magical happened. They started burning..... at me!

We quickly dispatched them and went back to plexing. I went back to Nisuwa to swap my Disco Domi and missed out on a Abbadon kill as some stupid squid thought it would be a great idea to solo the iHub on his own, in a system full of hostiles.

Finally the squids abandoned "Operation Lemming", stopped warping one at a time into us and actually put a fleet together. They had a a couple of DPS battleships, including the lemming we'd just killed who was now in an Armageddon, with BC support enter Kedama. So we popped nextdoor to reship to armour BS. I jumped in my Armageddon Navy Issue and we went to fight on the bunker. The Squids fought, I got primaried, a cyno was lit and a friendly carrier appeared. Hot, sweet carrier reps FTW!

The squids died, we suffered no loses, and Kedama was saved (for the time being). 41 kills (2.4bn ISK) for no loses.

So in the space of one hour my mood had been completely reversed. I was now on 2512 kills, we'd saved Kedama and had some good fights.

However, it's all a bit worrying. These squids died horribly. They were no matched for our organised fleet. Looking at the battle report I see very few names, corps or alliances (other than the NPC militia corp) that I recognise. The Caldari militia is being over-run by LP farmers. Pre-Inferno it was full of mission runners in cloaky ships, post-Inferno it's full of LP farmers with no real clue about PvP.

Will we see them become organised and bring the fight? Or will it remain small groups of small ships farming LP's in plex's until we turn up and stamp on them? Time will tell.

*In fact, I didn't kick the cat, she shared some of my chicken sandwich! Om nom nom nom nom nom!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Inferno - Resounding Success???

It's a year after Incarna and a week after Inferno. Now we've had almost seven days to play with it, how is it for me? Well before I say, some more missile p0rn....

Like any Eve Online expansion (or any online game expansion really) it has its bugs. The first thing I did when I logged on when the servers came up last week, was fly to a Caldari held system and try to capture a plex. I immediately found there was a bug with the little progress bar and timer on the satellite that you need to orbit to capture the plex. Whilst I later found out the background mechanics are working and the plex still captures, the progress bar and countdown wasn't working properly if you started the timer running burnt off it (to kill NPC's) and returned.

I tweeted to the #tweetfleet this bug, and asked if anyone had the link to the online bug reporting webpage. I got two replies.

First one was one of those Eve Online "Really?" moments when I read that pressing F12 would let me report bugs in game. You learn something new every day, even after four years in the game!

The second was from Ned aka CCP Manifest saying he was relaying bugs highlighted on Twitter direct to the Live Team. Wow! Live updates to the Live Team!

A short while later I suddenly notice a neutral ship in the faction war complex I was running. As I am a "nawty piwat" and also a member of the Gallente Militia, neutrals usually either attack me or are eyes for the enemy militia who are about to attack me. Therefore I operate a "shoot first, ask questions/sort out fallout later" policy in regard to neutrals. Some times it gets me into trouble, but if you are blue to me, get your alts blue too, I kill neutrals! I am about to burn for it and attack it when I remember to check the ship type, usually a good great idea before engaging in a 1v1.

"Hang on a second!!! WTF is a Polaris???"


Then I realised! CCP Zulu was sat in the plex watching me. We had a quick chat in local where I told him what I'd found about the bug, he asked some questions, got some engineers to look at it and vanished. A little while later I got a Tweet saying the bug had been squashed and it would be fixed in the next patch either on Wednesday or Thursday. And indeed it was!

Now, just think about that. A random player in a MMOG Tweets about a bug (some might say a very minor bug) minutes after the launch of a major expansion and before you know it you have the Senior Producer of Eve Online sat watching you play (actually, that sounds very wrong!).

Kudos to Manifest, Zulu and the rest of the CCP team for this rapid bug hunting/squishing response!

The Faction War iteration has certainly put a fire under the militias. However, if that was the pleasure, the Unified Inventory is the pain. Previously I said I'd wait to see if I got used to it. I'm trying, but I still don't like it! When docking up I want to QUICKLY be able to open my cargo hold AND my ammo can and drag and drop whats needed to top up my various ammo stacks in the cargo hold before getting back out. Yes I know you can do this with shift-clicks but the windows take up so much space and it's just so much hassle. It's also slower, much slower than the old system.

Corp chat is full of complaints, alliance chat is full of complaints, voice comms was full of complaints. I understand that some players actually like it, others hate it. I'm wondering if the player type has something to do with it? Are PvP players finding the Unified Inventory terribad whilst industialists are finding it the best thing since sliced bread?

So there are the two issues I found at launch that I had trouble with. One is fixed, the other continues to bug me although CCP Soundwave's latest dev blog says they are working on it and will continue to work on it till most people are happy. Will I get used to the unified inventory, will it grow on me? Time will tell. But let us not forget these are minor things in the grand scheme of things:-

New Missile Turrets = Win
New Missile Effects = Win
New Stealth Bomber Models = Win
New Starship Murder Notifications (KM's) = Win
New Modules = Win
Faction War Revamp = Win

If the bugs are squashed quickly and if CCP continue to look at the Unified Inventory, Inferno can officially be classified as "Win".

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Blog Banter 36: Expanding Universe of EVE

"With the Inferno expansion upon us, new seeds have been planted in the ongoing evolution of EVE Online. With every expansion comes new trials and challenges, game-changing mechanics and fresh ideas. After nine years and seventeen expansions, EVE has grown far more than most other MMOGs can hope for. Which expansions have brought the highs and lows, which have been the best and the worst for EVE Online?"

I started Eve on 29th July 2008. This was just after the Empyrean Age expansion. So here is a quick run through of the expansions I've been through in Eve.

Quantum Rise - November 2008
To be honest I'm not sure I was as much into Eve back then as I am these days. Eve was still a game to me, not a hobby. QR brought us the Orca, weapon grouping and lag reducing back-end code. Also it brought the speed nerf? Not something I recall but I've heard about it.....

I cannot really say much about an expansion I don't even remember.

Apocrypha - March 2009
The skill queue! Oh yes the skill queue. Can you imagine telling new players what it was like before the skill queue? As well as that little gem we got wormhole space, T3 ships and.... well WH space.

I still remember on release day someone shouting in corp chat that they had found a wormhole in our home system. Several of us quickly fleeted up and join our corp mate orbiting a wormhole. "Don't get too close! You'll be sucked in" and the resulting panic was a good laugh.


Apocrypha 1.5 - August 2009
In the summer of 2009 we got different sized rigs (really, that was nearly three years ago?), specialised cargo holds (such as the ore hold), some faction war improvements (really?) and epic mission arcs.

For me, the only thing that really stood out with this expansion was the new rig sizes. Suddenly it was worth rigging smaller and cheaper hulls. This gave you more options and a bit more choice on how to fit ships you'd have never rigged when they was just one expensive price.


Dominion - December 2009
The main theme of Dominion was the overhaul in null sec sov mechanics. We also got new planet graphics and the new in-game browser. Titans had their AOE doomsday replaced with a single target weapon.

Obviously this had a huge impact on null sec. It got more expensive and more complex to capture and hold null-sec areas. For me it wasn't much of an expansion living in low sec. Planets were cool to look at and the fleet finder was useful, but other than that, it was an expansion for the 0.0'rs.


Tyrannis - May 2010
The spring of 2010 saw planetary interaction deployed. The Scorpion battleship got reskinned, landmarks were added to hundreds of systems and we got Eve Gate.

I tried PI for a few days. Not enough explosions. As a Scorpion pilot I loved the new skin and the "top spinny bit". Again, an expansion that didn't really do anything for me. I was starting to feel a little neglected as were the rest of my low-sec PvP brethren.


Incursion - November 2010
Cannot see that word without thinking of the pub crawl at Fanfest 2012 and shouts of "IIINNNNNCCCCUUUURRRRSSSSIIIIOOOOOOONNNNNNN!" in Reykjavik city centre. Incursion gave us, well Incursions, the new character creator, the Noctis, removal of learning skills and lots of updates.

The learning skills change was nice. Had a load of skill points to dump into some PvP skills. The character creator was awesome. Just a pity the clothes are all so..... well..... dull. I'm a pirate! I'm not sure I want to dress like Muryia Mordu but lets have something a bit more interesting.


XXXXXX - June 2011
The expansion that should never be mentioned. The expansion that brought us riots, bans and job loses.

What can I say about the "Walking in Stations a small room" that hasn't been said before? It was a disastrous expansion and a lot of people (and graphics cards) were sacrificed for that cock-up. 


Crucible - November 2011
The turn-around expansion. This was a make-or-break expansion for CCP. After the disasterours summer, they needed to turn things around. And they did. If I listed all the improvements here it would be a long blog. Basically, CCP looked at all the players moans, gripes and wish lists, added in tier 3 battlecrusiers and went to work. And work it did!

Obviously Crucible was going to be one hell of an expansion. Look at it's preprocessor, it could only get better. The tier 3 battlecrusiers are awesome fun and generally everything about this expansion was win.


Failure to Launch - March 2012
OK not an expansion but the launch of the Eve-O launcher. I had to mention it here as it really arsed me off. I was one of the 6,000 or so that had problems running the launcher. I had to get corp mates to export the patch, upload it to a file-share website and manually patch the client. 

Lot of hassle, CCP unhelpful (if we make the patch available as download we'll never fix the problem) and a lot of rage.

0/10 (as I couldn't play the game without a lot of hassle)

Inferno - May 2012
Another success. Faction War re-iteration, missile and launchers (oooooh so cool!), war dec overhaul. Come on, it was last week. You know what was in it!

I have been trying to get used to the Unified Inventory, and still dislike it. But there was so much good in this expansion it's still a "Win" in my book.

8/10 so far, still so much more to try.

So the pattern during my Eve life has been....
  • Success
  • Meh
  • Meh
  • Meh
  • Success
  • Utter Fail
  • Epic Win
  • Minor fail
  • Win
So what makes a good expansion? The thing is, ask several Eve players and you'll get a different set of answers to the above. What makes a good expansion to me, is stuff that improves what I like to do in game. Well durrrr!

It's a real difficult one for CCP to get right. An expansion that I would love, as a -10 pirate, faction war, PvP player would be a terrible expansion for a carebear. Lets just look at my wish list......
  • GCC reduced to 5 minutes in low-sec
  • GCC flag only occurs in sight of gate or station guns (no GCC for aggressing at belts or planets)
  • Faction Destroyers
  • T3 Frigates
  • Further iteration to faction war
  • Overhaul the bounty system
  • New PvP mods and ammo
  • Stockings, suspenders and high heels in the ladies NeX store
Now that would make an AWESOME expansion, but how many Eve players would agree? How many would rate that expansion as a 1/10. It's almost impossible for CCP to make everyone happy with a single expansion. At Fanfest they spoke about cycles of development. This one is "Destruction", the next would be crafting and the final one harvesting before going back and starting the cycle again. May be that is the best way. This expansion is for Group A. Group B you'll be next.

So back to the original question. The worst expansion needs no pointing out does it? Any expansion that leads to the fallout out Incarna did has got to be the obvious low point.

The best? I'm not sure. I'm still settling into Inferno which I'm loving. I think it'll topple the other contender for top spot, Crucible eventually. However, time will tell.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Jita Ripper - Part 6 - Two's Company, Three's a Party

Inspector Avi was pondering over the star maps. He'd come so close. He had picked the right station last time, he'd just been too late. Whilst he was sat in the bar looking for the perp, a poor woman had probably been begging for her life as that sicko cut her to ribbons. Just 24 hours, if he'd been 24 hours earlier they'd have caught him and she needn't have died.

The perp was clearly using the Interbus shuttle network. There were three stations he might strike in next and the Inspector had officers in every bar matching the profile. This time they'd got ahead of him. This time they'd get him. He'd seconded attractive female officers from anywhere he could. Even from other forces. They were dressed to impress and told to work on anyone who looked like a capsuleer. Each bar had a SWAT team assigned to it. They would take him down before the officer was in any real danger.

Only one thing bothered him. The last victim was found in the garbage hold of the starship hanger. All the previous victims had been found in living quarters. Either their own or one rented by the perp. Why did he dump the last body in that fashion?

Inspector Avi went back to the lab results from the last victim that he was so close to saving. Something caught his eye. The blood-work showed elevated O2 content. He hit the comm channel for the lab.

"Hi Mike, this is Avi, got a sec"

"Sure Inspector. What do you need."

"The last victim. Her blood O2 level was up around 23%. That's not normal is it?"

"Well depends. Medical workers commonly have that after a day’s work if they have been working in O2 rich environments, however it usually drops after an hour. Also some starship crews will be up there. Oh and also welding crews using...."

"Sorry Mike, can I stop you there. You said some starship crews?"

"Yeah. Not your average industrial as they are usually lower O2 content than regular air. High performance ships have a higher O2 content with a slight reduction in atmospheric pressure. That gives the crew the boost of enriched air without the problems with O2 poisoning over a long period."

"O2 poisoning?"

"Yes, it’s not a common known fact but oxygen can be poisonous to humans. If you breathe too high an O2 content for too long at too high a partial pressure then it can poison your central nervous system. The high end ships that need crews on peak performance drop the atmospheric pressure and increase the O2 content. That stops any problems with CNS poisoning but still gives the crews the boost of enriched air"

"You said only on high end ships?"

"Yeah, you only get that sort of atmosphere processing on top flight Navy ships..... oh and the larger capsuleer vessels such as battlecruisers and battleships."

Avi was suddenly distracted, an alarm had gone off at his workstation. The alarm could only signify one thing. One of the bait officers had made contact.

"Sorry Mike, got to go" Avi aborted the call and rushed to his desk.


Marcus smiled as he sipped his drink in the crowded bar. This was going to be a good one.

"So what do you say we ditch this bar and head back to my vessel to really start the party? Would you like to see my enormous warship?"

The reply was just a very girly giggle.

Marcus signalled the waiter for the bill and prepared to leave the bar.


Inspector Avi sat transfixed at the comm station in his office. Given that there were multiple possible target stations he had stayed back at base in case he was at the wrong one. One of the bait officers had just pressed the warning button that was hidden in her purse. It signalled that she’d made contact and was leaving the bar.

"Tac Team 4 get in position. She's leaving the bar now with him. Security feed has eyes. They are heading your way Tac Team 4. Stand by."

They'd got him!

"They are heading for the elevator. We need this guy alive Tac Team 4. Don't make this personal. Remember he has a friendly with him. 50m from the corner. 25m, get ready, 5m!"

Officer Constance rounded the corridor corner with the man from the bar. As they turned she hiked up her cocktail dress to free her legs and dived to the side. The man stood there gobsmacked as five SWAT officers in intimidating tactical masks yelled at him to lay face down on the floor as the laser-sights from their carbine-blasters danced across his chest.

The man dropped to his knees, a look of sheer terror on his face. One of the Caldari SWAT team approached and pressed him face down onto the cold space station floor.

"This is Tac Team 4. Suspect apprehended!"


Elena started to come around. Her head was fuzzy and it felt like the room was spinning. She dare not open her eyes as she thought she might throw up. She thought back to the previous night. She'd been drinking, but not this much. Her and her friend had met a man, a capsuleer. He'd invited them both for drinks on-board his ship! They'd been so excited. They'd partied the night through in that ship. "Oh god" she thought as she remembered what had happened. “How am I going to face Yammi again after last night”? She recalled putting on a show for the capsuleer, her and her best friend together.

Her body felt numb but there was an ache in her arms. She tried to move them but she couldn't. Suddenly she felt a stabbing pain in her arm and sensations and feel flooded back as a stim-stick was injected into her. She suddenly realised she was hanging by her wrists. She opened her eyes and saw Yammi, also hanging by her wrists, staring back at her in sheer terror.

The ‘capsuleer’ suddenly appeared between them. He held a long serrated knife in his hand. He looked at both girls.

"Shall we REALLY get the party started ladies?"


"He's a wanna-be sir. A fake."

"Are you sure?" asked Inspector Avi

"100%" replied Officer Constance over the vid-call, she was still wearing the cocktail dress "The imitation implants are of a very low quality, the glue doesn't match our samples and he's got a rock solid alibi for the previous murders. He's a miner and his company has provided us movement tracking for him for the last two months at the colony he works. As he’s a rock jockey he’s surgically implanted with a locator-beacon in case of an accident so they can find him."

"Shit!" exclaimed Avi "What the frack was he doing?"

"Apparently he'd heard parts of the story on a pirate news station. He thought he could get some classy action above his station by pretending to be a capsuleer too. I doubt murder was on his mind, just bedding some hot woman who thought he was a pod jockey."

"You know, that’s the third this week" Avi sighed "Book him for wasting Police time and let’s move on"


Macrus lifted the lifeless head of Yammi by the chin so she was facing Elena.

"You know what? I think she's had too much fun for one night" Marcus laughed.

Elena was screaming, she'd been screaming for an hour straight as she'd been forced to watch him mutilate and kill her best friend. He’d spared her face, but her body was a mess. The only thing he had done to her head was to gouge out one of her eyeballs so she could “have a better view of what was happening down below”. The eye hung there on her cheek suspended by the optic nerve.

Marcus retrieved a jar with preservative and held it under the eye as he cut the optic nerve with the knife. The eyeball fell into the jar with a plop. Elena threw up again.

"Right she’s finished with. One down, one to go!" he said cheerily “So what should I take from you? May be an eye too? Oh don’t worry, I don’t have to decide now. We’ve got hours of fun together before I need to choose!”

Elena screamed at the top of her lungs as Marcus approached her with his bloodied knife held in front of him.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Kamela Incident and Eve Inferno - First Impressions

So after days of intense fighting to capture low-sec systems before the changes came in, the dust has settled over the low-sec war zone. Eve Online Inferno is here and I can relax some after a mad few days of last minute land-grab/defence. It's been a lot of late nights and early mornings ensuring that we held Nisuwa until the changes kicked in. It has taken it's toll, I'm tired, but happy that we have done well.

The Kamela Incident

There is also the fallout with the "Kamela Incident" to deal with. Our enemy/allies/enemies/allies, Wolfsbrigade, were in danger of losing their system to the Minmatar. When we're not shooting at W-BR because they are Amarr Militia and we are Gallente, we're teaming up together to make an awesome fleet of awesome-sauce. You may have seen us working together to kill a PL titan or this nice little fight in Kedama. When we need to compete with the big NAPfest alliances, we join together. However, during our "day jobs" we shoot each other as good war targets should! The problem was if they got locked out of their home system the ability for us to work together would be diminished for some time. That wouldn't be good for us if some awesome fight presented itself and we needed to team up.
Therefore, we helped them defend their system from the Minmatar. We didn't shoot blues but we did rep W-BR and we did shoot non-blues (we said a while ago ***here*** that because several Minmatar corps set us red for being -10, Minmatar corps had to ask for blue status which they'd automatically get). Obviously that went down like a Gallente stripper on Amarr I, and the Minmatar are a tad upset with us. All good fun. Anyway I'm sure this will lead to interesting future blog posts, but for now.....

Inferno is here!!!

So what do we have? First the obvious stuff. Obviously these are just my first impressions...

Missiles and Missile Launchers.
Inferno brings us missile turrets mounted on our ships, new missile models, new missile trails, new missile flight paths, new missile explosions. Hang on, is there anything of the old missiles left?
OMG! These look great. I've always been a missile boy! There is something about your rod of death streaking towards the enemy and exploding in the distance. Now they look awesome! A picture just doesn't do it justice as a salvo of missiles streak to your target all with slightly different flight paths. And the new turrets! Awesome work!

Above is my Drake firing at a container, seven heavy missiles streaking past a plasma planet. The bottom one is the rocket launchers on my Hawk class Assault Frigate. Yes, the new missiles are VERY cool!

legs out of 10
Stealth Bombers
Fantastic. The new SB's look like ebil ships of destruction. They are the Empire to the Rebel Alliance. They are the Dominion to the Federation. They are the Reavers to the crew of Serenity. They are awesomesauce!
The stats are the same, just the models have changed. Rather than the plain old boring ships, now we have something that looks like what it is.... nasty!
 legs out of 10
Amarr V3 Skinning
Yeah, OK, fine. Not a big Amarr pilot myself, only really fly their battleships in specific fleets. For me it's nothing I'm bothered about. I am sure the Amarr boyz are happy.
I'm more looking forward to the Minmatar V3 re-skinning. I'm hoping for considerably more realistic rust :)
 legs out of 10

Unified Inventory
I was a bit worried about this feature. When I first heard about it I though great. I have a lot of cans in my hanger labeled up 1-Ammo, 2-Missiles, 3-Mods, 4-Rigs etc. I have about 10 in all, so something to make this easier sounded ideal. I am on a restricted bandwidth so don't use the test server as I cannot afford the download size (1gb I'm guessing?). But what I heard from people who did try it wasn't hugely encouraging. Initial reaction in game, in corp and on Twitter is not encouraging with many people disliking it.
So trying it for myself, my view is.................. I don't like it, but willing to give it a few days to see if I get used to it.
legs out of 10
Now the stuff under the bonnet......
War Decs and Kill Mails
The war dec mechanics have had a significant overhaul. The costs depend on the size of the enemy you are deccing. They can hire mercs to fight for them. Either side can negotiate surrender. The 24 hour voting period has been removed for corps.
We don't use war decs much. Either we're after faction war targets or we'll go pie. So doesn't make a huge difference to us. However the new changes do look cool.
The kill mails are obvious a massive improvement. They also show value of the stuff destroyed. Mmmmmm. If the code is there for that, may be the bounty hunting system where kills are rewarded from a pot as a percentage of value destroyed could be implemented in the future. Put a billion ISK bounty on a persons head and anyone killing them gets 80% of the value destroyed until the pot is depleted.
legs out of 10

Faction War
So here we are. The big thing for us and the reason I've been lacking sleep for the last week. I think it'll be a few weeks before the consequences of the changes are fulling known. The changes are major. Unable to dock in station unless you control that system. LP's for kills. LP's for offensive plexing. LP store items fluctuate depending on your sides performance in the war. Systems can be upgraded by donating LP's to the new iHub.
What effect this will have on Faction War overall nobody knows. I think we'll see over the coming few weeks as people recover from the last push in the run up to Inferno and start playing with the new mechanics. The Caldari and Amarr are on the ropes. Will they fight back? Will they die and the Minmatar and Gallente achieve Dominance.

When trying my first offensive plex I found the counter wasn't working. Tweeted that and within 10 minutes CCP Zulu was watching me plex in a Polaris frigate. Now THAT is customer service.

So far liking what I'm seeing with Faction War, but time will tell if this is a success for CCP.
legs out of 10.... so far.

Overall first impression of Inferno.

Win for CCP!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Eve Online Inferno - Temperature is Already Way Up!

Well that was an interesting weekend!

It's all looking very "explode-y" in the low-sec war zones! The Caldari were really gunning for our home system of Nisuwa. This resulted in some great fighting in and around there this weekend.

Reports like this shows that the Amarr/Minmatar war zone is also just as hot.


After Inferno launches, militia members will not be able to dock in stations that are in systems controlled by the enemy. So if the Caldari state took over Nisuwa, we in the Gallente Federation militia would not be able to dock there. Also under Inferno the minimum time it takes to capture a system is going up from 6/7 hours to over 40 hours. Plus the final structure that you need to bash is also getting a HP buff so will take longer. Therefore, on the run up to Inferno, everyone is looking to take as much space as possible as it'll be much more difficult to take it after Inferno.

This is good for war! Fighting has intensified, I'm only a few kills off my 2,500th real kill (excludes pods, shuttles and noob ships) and we are having fun!

Even those who have quit faction war are joining in. IB.S left faction war very recently as they wanted to try new things apparently but came back and agressed us as neutrals to try and help their former Caldari Militia mates take our home system. That didn't work very well, so the Caldari militia then got the local Russians involved. Who are next for the Caldari militia's pitiful cries for help? 

We are taking bets they'll be asking the Goons for assistance next!

Our alliance war dec'd I.BS so we could legally shoot them in case they tried that again, and they jumped back into faction war! See guys! You should never have left ;)

Sunday afternoon saw the most intense fighting. Given that we strongly believe "The best defense is a good offense" and to be honest, that's only because most people in our alliance are really offensive, we thought we'd take the fight to them. So rather than sit back an defend Nisuwa, we attacked Rakapas in force.

Every faction war complex that spawned resulted in a fight. We soon found we were at a disadvantage. We had three jumps required to reship, the squids just docked in top station and jumped in a new ship. So as we ran low on frigates and destroyers that can access the minor plexs we left.

Five minutes later a cyno went up on their home station and we arrive back in numerous carriers with ship maintenance bays full of ships. The rest of our guys arrived in pods and we carrier-pilots handed out ships to them as they arrived. From there on it was real a PvP slog-fest. Both sides able to reship in system. The squids called in the Russians again who came heavy. We kept getting "warp ins" on their BS fleet and snagging the slow ones before they could warp out. One particularly bright Tempest pilot thought it would be fund to agress on station, solo, with us all docked. You know mate, we can always undock you know!

However the rate of destruction of destroyers was hurting us. So we brought in a jump freighter loaded with hundreds of Thrasher hulls and cheap fittings plus ammo.

In the minor plex's we went with a "Thrasher Blob O'Doom", in the mediums we went with a..... "Thrasher Blob O'Doom" again as they are so fun to fly. Majors we did with T3's and logi. Snuffbox turned up in a heavy fleet looking to kill anything they could. This worked slightly to our advantage as we could use the Thrashers to get into the plex and camp the warp in, whilst SNUFF sat on the acceleration gate unable to get us with their fat-ass ships. Soon the squids fell back with only the occasional lemming trying to enter a plex with hostile fleets sat both on the warp in and on the acceleration gates.

We then went on "Thrasher Blobs O'Doom" roams hitting any squid plexers we could find, coming back to Rakapas when we heard that the squids had dared to stick their heads out of the station.

I logged off at this point after seven hours of PvP as it was past my bed time! From the killboard, just in Rakapas, we got 103 kills, 31 losses, a shade under 5bn destroyed against losses of just over 1bn. Obviously that doesn't include the earlier fights in Nisuwa and the roaming we did when the squids docked up. Apparently our primary FC was going straight since Sunday afternoon to Monday lunchtime! Mad props to him.

Also a shout out for the Caldari. They brought the fight again and again and again. Some they won, some they lost. Over the course of the afternoon and evening, it was epic fighting!

If CCP wanted to start a fight with Inferno, it's mission successful..... and that is before the expansion has even launched!

It is war in low-sec! And it's faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan-flipping-tastic!

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Jita Ripper - Part 5 - The Trap

The space station's corridors were brightly lit. In a world where there was no night or day, the intensity of the lighting in the corridors gave residents an indication of time. In a few hours they would be dimmer, indicating it was evening.

"Do you really think this will work Inspector?" the head of station security asked. "I mean no disrespect, but, well, the police force isn't known for it's beautiful women. Surely hiring some models or, ahem, professional ladies, would be a better idea. I mean they would work better as bait?"

Avi was getting another headache and they still had four residential quarters to visit plus all the paperwork to fill out. So much paperwork. He knew they were still behind the killer, but so far no reported missing persons or victims had turned up here. May be they were in time to stop him? There were four bars on this station that fit the profile and he needed them all staked out. The trail had led him here to this station, he was sure this is where the perp would strike next.

"This man likes to take his time and kill women in some of the most horrific ways I've seen in my 35 years on the force. If you think I'm setting any woman up as bait who isn't licenced to carry, and knows how to handle a piece, then you are very much mistaken!" Avi said.

They arrived at a door and he pressed the call button.

"Yes, but it's all going to be pointless if he's not interested in them. This man goes for beautiful and provocatively dressed gold-diggers. Hairy, butch women aren't his thing!"

Avi was sick of the guys whining, but he needed him with him currently. The case the man carried was the reason why he was there. In it were four H-Type Caldari Navy Issue blaster pistols. These weapons were strictly controlled. As well as being small and easy to conceal, they were made of special alloys and components that hid them from even the most advanced weapons sensors. Not even the Police were allowed to carry them under normal circumstances. Each weapon had to be handed to the officer directly and thumb-print authorisation obtained by the head of station security. Avi needed them issuing to his "bait" officers. Weapon alarms going off every five minutes might give the killer a hint something was amiss with his potential victim.

"Hello" a female voice sounded through the intercom.

"Hello Detective Mila, it's Inspector Avi. I'm here with your new temporary side-arm and a guy who thinks we're wasting our time as all female CNP officers look like the back ends of Slaver Hounds!"

The face of the head of security dropped in shock, his cheeks turning crimson.

Mila giggled and the door buzzed, signifying it was unlocked. Avi hit the open button and stepped inside followed by the red faced head of station security.

Inspector Avi moved to one side and the other man saw Mila standing in front of him, dressed ready to head up to the higher deck bars.

"So...... still think this won't work?"

The head of security was speechless.

"Looking good Mila. Now get tooled up and head to Bar Morphite. Make sure that blaster is accessible. You know what this guy is capable of. Here is your communications package, ensure you keep an open comm line continuously. I need you up there in 20 minutes." Avi knew time was not on their side.


Marcus looked up at the immense battlecruiser hanging there. He gave the hand he was holding a gentle squeeze. The woman looked at him and smiled. The hover-platform jerked as it freed itself from the dock-deck and started to ferry them over to the Drake.

"I've added you as a guest to the manifest" said the woman affixing a badge to his jacket "Nobody should bother you. Just wait in the reception room for ten minutes and then take the lift to deck 34. Go to corridor 18 and room 18425, that's my quarters. Don't let anyone see you enter. If there is anyone in the corridor, just walk past and double back. Most are on shore-leave so it's likely to be empty."

Marcus thought of the dangers. The women he usually picked up had quarters on the station. This time he'd got someone who crewed on a battlecruiser. He had thought about skipping, but then he thought that a battlecrusiers crew quarters weren't probably much different to a stations. Probably not as well sound insulated, he'd just have to gag her better.

He smiled at his future victim and she smiled back.


"Inspector, this is control, I think we need to stand down for the night. He's not coming."

"Damn it, one more hour, tell the others I'll personally authorise the overtime. He'll be here!”


Marcus looked around the room. There was nowhere to hide the body. He'd placed his souvenirs into his case and was ready to leave, but leaving the quarters like this meant the first person to enter would raise the alarm. His shuttle wasn’t leaving until the afternoon. He needed time.

The girl’s body was still on the bed, her wrists and ankles bound together making her into one big loop. Her body was a patchwork of cuts from the serrated Minmatar blade. She'd lasted nearly 90 minutes which Marcus was impressed with given her small frame. He'd expected her to last less than that.

In the end he realised he had no choice. He left the room and secured the door with her own personal passcode which he’d already extracted from her to ensure his escape from the Drake. He added a "Do not disturb" command to the door lock. He easily retraced his steps and soon was back on the hover platform heading back to the hanger dock. He could see two men waiting at the platform landing bay. He became worried, until he noticed they were crew, probably coming back after a night of partying. Even from this distance, he could see they were drunk. That would work in his favour in case anyone asked them if they'd seen a strange face that day.

"Alright mate!" one of the drunks greeted him as the hover platform docked. Marcus just smiled and nodded as he walked past. Suddenly a blinding pain hit him in the back and he blacked out.


"Inspector, its 4am station time"

Avi checked his watch. Shaking his head in disappointment.

"OK, OK. Everyone can stand down. Get some sleep people, we start again at 7pm tonight!"


Marcus woke in a dimly lit room. He was cuffed to a metal chair. A hologram appeared in front of him.

"Hello Marcus. Do you know why you are here?"

Marcus swallowed hard. He tried to think of something to say.

"Well, let me show you this…" the hologram of the man melted away and was replaced by the scene of Marcus in the woman’s quarters. A high-definition holographic projection showed him slowly and methodically working on the woman.

"That...... that's....... that's not me!" Marcus stammered. The image morphed back into that of the man who started laughing.

"Is that the best you can come up with? That holo-recording could be used in any court of the four Empires. In fact, I could ask anyone one of the multiple Caldari Navy Police officers who are currently sat in every bar on Deck 13 of this station. I assume they are here looking for you"

Marcus began to sob, he knew he'd been caught red-handed.

"Oh man up! For a serial killer, you are a whiney little thing aren't you? You’d make a good hi-sec carebear!"

Marcus looked up at the hologram.

"Who are you?"

"I'm the capsuleer of this ship. To be honest with you, you got very unlucky. I was testing some fits and was in my capsule as you were working on one of my crew. We capsuleers know everything that's happening in our ships when we are hooked up."

Marcus suddenly started to wonder. If he was watching, why didn't he try and stop him? Why didn't he send security straight to his location? Why the underhand take-down at the hover platform so long after the event?

"So, what now?" Marcus asked.

"Well that is up to you. I have the room number of Inspector Avi of the CN Police Force who is here heading up the operation to capture you. I could just hand you in. I'm sure my standings with the Caldari Navy would improve with that"

"You said it's up to me. Therefore I assume there is another option?"

"Well yes in fact there is. I could send maintenance drones to Steffi's quarters to scrub it clean and remove the body. Then I could flag her as a deserter and assign some executive quarters to you as a guest on the ship"

Marcus was speechless. He just gapped at the hologram.

"Why would you do that?"

"I have my reasons. You'd get access to random and remote stations to continue your, shall we say 'hobby', with your quarters specially equipped for 'entertaining'. You'll have better opportunities and a lot more protection. The Police almost have you; you should know that by now. They are tracking you effectively. On this ship, they won’t be able to anymore"

"What do you want in return" Marcus asked?

"To do what I did last time. To watch from afar." was the capsuleers answer.


It was the early hours of the next morning as Inspector Avi stared out of the bars viewport. He'd been nursing the same drink for over an hour keeping an eye on Mila sat in the opposite corner. A Drake class battlecruiser caught his eye as it undocked, a welcome distraction from the boring haulers he kept seeing. He admired the enormous warship bristling with heavy missile launchers as it aligned and slipped into warp, vanishing into the blackness of space.

With the brief distraction gone, Inspector Avi went back to scanning the room, looking for his suspect.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Eve = Crack?

I've been playing MMOG's for well over a decade. I started with Everquest at the start of the Millennium, in fact I think I was playing EQ back in 1999 (although back then it was called Neverquest thanks to the stability of the servers). Then there was Star Wars Galaxies. Next up, World of Warcraft. Then Age of Conan I think. Bit of Warhammer Online after that. WoW was the one that kept plodding along in the background though. And like all games, I'd blast them from a couple of months and then go AFK and do something else for a few weeks or a few months. In fact, it appears I was well known for this cycle of game playing, particularly as I followed some friends who also hopped between these games.
I was told a while ago that one of those friends said to my first CEO when I joined Eve Online I would "....get bored after a few months, go afk a few weeks and come back refreshed".
Looking back, he was right...... before Eve Online. That was my traditional pattern of gaming. Play, burn-out, do something else, play, burn-out, do something else......
I was having a chat to a mate last weekend (an Eve-made one, not one of those I knew before) who pointed out that basically I've not had a break from Eve...... ever!
To be honest I'd not thought about that, and he's right. Over the last four years, the longest time I've gone without logging into Eve is two weeks. And each of those times it's been because I was on holiday somewhere hot with good scuba diving. I can recall texting from the poolside in the Dominican Republic to my CEO and tbh, that's a bit sad and geeky! I play almost every day and usually 6 nights a week!
So why did Eve Online break my usual cycle of play/burn-out/play/burn-out? What is different about this game?
To get the best out of Eve, you need to play it with people. It's a game to enjoy with friends, have a laugh. I do enjoy fleet fights and gangs, but I also enjoy solo. 1v1's are some of the best fights and really get the blood pumping. But when I'm solo'ing I'm not alone. I'm on voice comms. Whether if it's our resident Greek player being trolled by the Germans over their finances, two ship fitting "experts" telling each other they know FA, our CEO telling us why it's not good to have naked piggy-back riding with the female rugby team after 8 hours in the bar whilst his father-in-law is there or simply tales of apricot scrub or Scandinavian doors, there is usually something interesting going on.
Now don't get me wrong. Given the choice between being down the bar with the lads or being online doesn't compare. But on an online sense, Eve is the closest I've got to an "online bar".

OK, it very much depends what you do in game. Mine all the time, then no, you're not getting a lot of variety. However, PvP is very varied. Compare that to doing dungeons/raids in other MMOG's that are the same enemies, doing the same thing, in the same place, using the same AI. Surprises like 4 super carriers being dropped on your head, and then surprising them with 25 dreadnoughts? They don't come in many other games. Fight the same guy, but different ships, different fight. The sandbox offers you a hundred different "careers" and if you get bored of one, you can try another.
Play-driven Story Lines
The big stories in Eve aren't created by the developers, they are created by the players. Several times this year our "little faction war alliance" has hit the news. Some times it's just blogs, sometimes its Eve news sites like EveNews24 and best of all, sometimes CCP even mention our antics. With some of these a couple of hundred people will read about us, a few articles will have thousands and the rare one will have tens of thousands reading about what you did the night before.
I've always been a fan of Sci-Fi, why are these so few MMOG set in a sci-fi universe? Warp engines, laser cannons, tractor beams, cloaking devices. I love that shit!

So I guess I'll be playing Eve for some time more by the look of things. Diablo III is out (although who knows when it'll hit the shelves here in the desert, and no, with restricted bandwidth downloading it is not an option) which might cause a very minor blip to my Eve playing. The re imagination of-XCOM: Enemy Unknown later this year might cause a bigger blip (I bloody loved the original) and may be, who knows, DUST might also be a blip. However I'm waiting for the finished game and reviews before I buy a PS3 just for a single game.
Why has Eve pulled me in where no other game has? I really don't think the above explains it fully. How can this game suck you in and devour you. May be there are subliminal suggestions in "Below the Asteroids".
But what ever it is that keeps me coming back for more, it keeps me happy!