Friday, August 30, 2013

Fac War Fiction - Fall of the Outpost

Fiction Friday! On Wednesday I listed a few things that I think could help faction war by limiting LP farmers in their cloaked and warp core stabbed ships in Faction War. Here's the 'lore' behind some of the effects that I suggested such as the satellite must be targeted for the countdown to run and why you cannot cloak. The engagement that occurs actually happened to me recently. I was in the Thrasher of course. Trust in the rust!

There is an escape pod here to Vae Victis regarding the current state of drones if fiction makes you yawn!

Fall of the Outpost

Yanati sat at his console and ran the scan again. Whist the star system was generally busy there was nothing on short range scan from their Cormorant class destroyer. The ship was there to protect the small automated base from the marauding capsuleers who constantly threatened to capture the system. The tides of war had changed recently for the Caldari State, they were winning only a few months ago, but a massive push from the Gallente Militia had seen many systems fall. They still had control in this system, but the Gallente were getting a foothold.

"Still no sign of Heth."

Yanati look across at his colleague who was leant back in his chair with his feet upon the console reading a datapad.

"News says nobody knows even what region he's in. You'd have thought someone would have turned him in by now! The bounty that Mordu's Legion put on his head is still there. Lot of cash for simply turning in someone who is already wanted by the State."

"Hang on, a year ago you were Heths biggest fan boy! Anyway, he still has a lot of dodgy friends. He's probably hold up in a cave somewhere. You heard the rumours about his past. Probably in the same cave he used to live in when he was part of that terro...."

Whilst he was talking he was still running the scans. Yanati slammed a big red button next to his console.

"Destroyer on short range scan. Within 21 million K. Thrasher class, Matari origin. He's probably at the acceleration gate." he spoke calmly into his microphone.

Battlestations sounded on the Caldari destroyer.


The Thrasher class destroyer aligned alongside the massive acceleration gate that dwarfed the 271m long destroyer. Inside was a flurry of activity. Commands were being given by the capsuleer, both direct to the ships systems from his wet-wired pod and also to the various crew via a complex messaging system. No other capsuleer craft were on scan so he had ordered Titanium Sabot ammunition to be loaded. Whilst not as devastating as the more regularly used Republic Fleet EMP or phased plasma rounds, titanium sabot had a big kinetic kick and a long range. Caldari Navy ships had weak defences against such.

The capsuleer activated the acceleration gate and the ship was propelled at high-speed towards the outpost. The journey took only a few seconds.

On-board the Caldari Navy Cormorant orders were barked and the crew rushed around, although they realised they had no chance once the enemy Thrasher dropped out of warp. The capsuleer, wet-wired into his ships systems, was able to lock the Cormorant and fire two volleys from his powerful artillery cannons before the Navy ship, captained by a regular officer, could even achieve a target lock back. The battle was very one-sided and over quickly. The only good news for the Cormorants crew was the captain had given the order to abandon ship early seeing that the fight was pointless.

On board the Thrasher Ensign Petre worked the cryptology station on the bridge. The XO had stood behind her as they watched the capsuleer target the automated outpost.

"We have target lock sir. Initiating hack..... We're in. It'll take about 10 minutes to break through the firewall, another three minutes to isolate the command routines and then two minutes to upload the virus and capture the outpost."

"Excellent. Get to work Ensign."


On board the small two-man escape pod Yanati and his colleague sat strapped into their seats. Samo still had his datapad.

"Wow! I've still got a secure connection to the outpost on this. It is tracking the hostile. A Thrasher class destroyer piloted by a capsuleer. That's why we went down so fast. A fracking egger. Its Gallente Militia and they have established a lock on the outpost."

"Why lock the outpost? They cannot destroy it with that!" Yanati asked.

"They are hacking the systems. They need a target lock so they can interface with the computer. They are trying to turning the outpost against the State. Its all automated in there. These outposts serve as command and control relays for our system-wide forces. If they get through the firewall they can disable the command routines which will hurt our forces in the area. Finally they'll upload a virus which will take control of the outpost. Bang! The Gallente have a new outpost in the system and we lose our grip slightly."

Yanati unbuckled his belt and pushed off the chair towards a view-port. The tiny escape pod did not have artificial gravity so he was weightless. He peered out of the small window.

"Is they nothing we can do?"

"No." replied Samo glumly "The outpost will fight back in an electronic sense but these egger ships are too well equipped. They'll eventually swamp the firewall and take over. The only hope is that we get reinforcements. If they can break the Thrashers target lock or push the ship out of range during an engagement the systems will auto-repair over time. However, if they do not get uninterrupted, this outpost will be frog-side within 15 minutes."

Yanati continued to stare out of the window in silence.


"Sir. The capsuleer has ordered a change of ammunition." the weapons specialist on the bridge announced.

Everything went quiet. That could only mean one thing. He'd identified a threat on a short range scan.

"Ensign Jacque, what you got?" barked the XO.

The Ensign on the scanner console had already started review of the sensor logs. Unlike the capsuleer who was at one with the scanner systems, the Ensign needed to interpret the logs. There were always occasions when the capsuleer knew something was out there, but to the crew, the logs showed nothing.

"Sir. Confirmed. Two contacts. One Condor class frigate supported by a Talwar class destroyer. Sir, it looks like it might be a dual kite set-up!"

A dual kite set-up usually consisted of two ships that are fast an manoeuvrable with ranged weapons. The attack pattern usually involved a frigate with a warp disruptor and electronic warfare modules. Common ones included tracking disruptors or targeting range dampeners. The frigate would engage first and set up at range. Its warp disruptor would prevent the victim from being able to warp off and its electronic warfare systems would prevent the target from shooting back effectively by disrupting its turrets or scanners. Then the ship with the better damage would arrive and they both keep range from the victim who cannot fight back and was slowly destroy from range.

"Sir, thermal cut offs have been disabled on the 250mm artilleries!" came the report from the engineering station.

The XO knew what the capsuleer had in mind. The Destroyer stopped dead and the sound of the turrets turning resonated through the ship. It was time to fight. The 250mm 'scout' class artillary cannons had been loaded with EMP rounds supplied by the Republic Fleet. Against ships that relied on shields for defense they were deadly.

The Condor was indeed the first to arrive, propelled into the deadspace pocket by the same acceleration gate they had used a few minutes before. A sound like a clap of thunder vibrated through the ship as the seven cannons opened fire. The shields on the almost stationary Condor vanished. With the thermal cut-offs disabled the guns cycled quicker and another seven projectiles were loaded into the guns 20% faster than normal. This created a heat-build up inside the weapons system that would damage, and eventually disable the guns if left to continue. The Condor was just picking up speed trying to get way as the second volley ripped through its armour and it exploded in a fireball. 30 crew dying in an instant with no time to reach the escape pod. As the Condor exploded the Talwar landed. Usually the fast and manoeuvrable Condor class frigate would have got range and be using electronic warfare against the target which would allow the Talwar to get into position when he activated the gate a set time behind the Condor. Instead what greeted him was a fully functioning Thrasher with its guns trained directly at it. Three volleys later the Talwar erupted in flames and broke apart. Whilst the Talwar was able to return fire, its long ranged missiles scarified damaging power from the warhead for more fuel for increased range. At 10kms the Thrashers guns were significantly more powerful than the Talwars missiles. The fight was one-sided again.


Yanati and Samo watched the Talwar disintegrate from the small viewport. Samo looked back at his datapad.

"The outpost is still tracking the Thrasher. Those two militia pilots hardly scratched it."

Yanati pushed off the wall and floated back towards his seat.

"Firewall is down. The frogs are attacking the command and control subroutines now. Its all but over."

"Well, wake me when Navy search and rescue get here!" replied Yanati as he strapped himself back into his chair and closed his eyes.

The End

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Farmers Gonna Farm - NO!

Haters gonna hate and farmers gonna farm.

Come on CCP, lets have some action on these plex farmers that are hurting faction war. This week I managed to decloak several farmers inside a plex only to have they warp off (so the favoured cloak plus triple stabbed). I've lost count of those who are stabbed and just warp away. This is as close as a passive source of income as you can get in Eve currently. Come on! Lets swing the nerf hammer!

1. Plex timers roll back at 2x speed when nobody is there.
Flee out of the plex when you see someone on D-Scan? Well your hard work is being undone! I'm tempted to say 4x or even 8x. If you won't fight for your plex, you should not get any LP!

2. Cloaks do not work in plex'.
The 'button' targets them as they enter. Same effect as if a militia member enters enemy hi-sec. If, as a militia member, you try to cloak in enemy hi-sec you get the message - "You cannot use your cloaking device as the enemy Navy are tracking you". Have this inside faction war plex but rather than the navy, it is the satellite that is tracking you!

3. Increase PG requirement for warp core stabs limiting offensive and defensive power.
Even triple stabbed with cloak, most ships can kill the rat and get the LP. Increasing PG is going to hurt the DPS buy limiting turrets and launchers or tank.

4. You need to have the button locked for it to countdown
A favourite trick of the farmer is to position their ship just inside 30km from the button on the far side from the warp in. They then are 40km or so away from the enemy ships that warp in. Plenty of time for a leisurely align and warp out. If they have to target the button to get it to countdown, the stabs and cloaks gimping their lock range will mean they need to get closer to the button and therefore closer the warp in. No sitting 29.9km far side of the capture point! The RP reason for this is that your crew are hacking the systems on the satellite and need the lock to gain the connection.

5. The plex icon in space changes when someone is running the timer.
Enter a system, one war target in there and that small outpost has an icon above it meaning he's in there. KILL HIM! In fact why not have the plex timer showing on the outside? If it is running you not only know someone is in there (and which side they are on depending if its going up or down) but also how much time you have left to do something about it!

OK all, lets have a sing-song!

Stabbed through the hull,
And you're too lame,
You give Faction War a bad name.

A shootable target is what you sell,
You promise me pewpew, then put me through Hell,
Chains of rage got a hold on me,
When fitted with stabs, you can break free.

Oh, I've a loaded gun, yeah.
Oh, there's nowhere to run.
No one can save you.
The cockbaggin' will be done.

Stabbed through the hull,
And you're too lame,
You give Faction War a bad name (bad name)

I play my part and you play your game
You give faction war a bad name (bad name)
You give faction war, a bad name

Painted and pointed I have you now
But you're triple stabbed and I say "wow!"
A militia pilots dream, you act so shy
Your very first warp-in was your first goodbye

Oh, I've a loaded gun
Oh, there's nowhere to run
No one can save you
The cockbaggin' will be done. 

Stabbed through the hull,
And you're too lame
You give Faction War a bad name (bad name)

I play my part and you play your game
You give Faction War a bad name (bad name)
You give faction war, oh!

[Guitar Solo]

Stabbed through the hull,
And you're too lame
You give Faction War a bad name
I play my part and you play your game
You give Faction War a bad name (bad name)

Monday, August 26, 2013

Faction War Guide 2013

Its been over a year since my last Eve Online faction war guide so it might be time for an update. Some of the mechanics have changed and the old guide is now outdated in many respects so in need of a refresh. I am also getting a lot of search hits for "Faction War Guide 2013" so here you go! I've tried to keep the simple bits short and sweet!

PvP! The ability to shoot people in the face without getting GCC (yeah, yeah. It is a felon flag now, but it will always be GCC for me!), gate gun fire or those nasty security status hits in low-sec!

Sign Up!
As an individual, if you have 0.0 or better faction standing, you can join as an individual with the corresponding NPC corp:-

Amarr - 24th Imperial Crusade.
Gallente - Federal Defense Union.
Caldari - State Protectorate.
Minmatar - Tribal Liberation Force.

If you have bad standings then you can join an existing militia player corp. You can enlist your own corp into faction war providing the corp standing is 0.0 or above to the faction.You can enlist your alliance into faction war providing EVERY corp has 0.0 or better standing to the faction. If your standings drop below the requirements, you will be kicked from the militia.

When you join one militia, you become at war with another two. Caldari and Amarr are allies as are Minmatar and Gallente. Join the Minmatar, and the Caldari militia can shoot you as well as the Amarr!

Note, that doing things in Faction War will effect your standings to the Empires. As you capture plex you will get standings boosts to your faction, with a corresponding hit to your standings with the two enemy factions. The Gallente Federation love me, but I can never return to the Caldari State who hate me. Caldari space and notably Jita is closed to Drackarn!

Fight for Control!
Control of a system in the low-sec warzone is gained by running complexes know as plex. If your faction controls the system then you get bonus' and the ability to dock in stations there. If the system is controlled by the enemy, you cannot dock in any of the stations!

Entering a system and opening your probe scanner (you do not need probes!) and you will have a list of faction war complexes that the on board scanner has scanned when you entered the system. If any of them are already showing on your overview it means someone has already been there..... or still is in there.....

If the plex has not yet been visited, as soon as you select warp to it, it will appear on the overview to everyone in system. This is known as "popping a plex" as in it pops up on overview! You can initiate a warp and then cancel. That will still open the plex for all, but you won't warp there.

A quick note on warping to a plex, NEVER warp to 0KM at a gated plex. The acceleration gates are huge and you can get your ship caught up on them. If you select "warp to 10km" you will actually land at '0km' from the gate but won't get tangled up on the gate. This is the same mechanic as a docking ring on a station.

Each size of complex restricts what ships are allowed through the acceleration gate. It also indicates the time it takes to capture the plex.

  • Novice 'faction name' Outpost - T1 and faction frigates. 10 minutes.
  • Small 'faction name' Outpost - T2 frigates, destroyers and smaller. 15 minutes.
  • Medium 'faction name' Outpost - Cruiser and down including T2 cruisers. 20 minutes.

These are the standard three plex that will respawn again 30 minutes after someone completes them. They will change the contested level of the system by 0.6% each. The size does matter here. Therefore novice plex are actually the most efficient as they only take 10 minutes. There are also random plex that can spawn in any faction war system:-

  • Large 'faction name' Outpost - ALL THE THINGS (no gate)
  • 'Size' 'Faction' Stronghold
  • 'Size' 'Faction' Facility

Strongholds and Facilities are random plex that will have the same size modifier as the outposts. So you get Small Strongholds and Medium Facilities etc. There are a certain number of these each in each constellation. Sometimes multiple of these plex can stack up in a little used system as people run them in more popular systems. This is known as 'puddling'. Sometimes you can find a back-end system with over a dozen plex waiting to be captured.

Once inside the plex you will find a satellite some 10km from the warp in. You need to be within 30km of that beacon in order for the counter to start ticking down.

If you are in an enemy controlled system, the NPC Navy will spawn and attack you. If there is an enemy rat inside the plex, the counter will not start to countdown until you have killed the rat. This was implemented to stop the gunless farmers of the summer of 2012. The rat ships are sized depending on the plex and start from frigates in the novices to battlecruisers in the large.

If you are in a system controlled by your faction, the rats shouldn't shoot you (if they do, check your faction standings). Once the counter hits 0, your done! You should see how contested the system is on the bar in the top left of your screen. When it's 100% contested the iHub becomes vulnerable and you can shoot it. Get the iHub into structure and you take control of the system at next DT.

You get loyalty points for offensive plexing (however this is modified by warzone control level). The LP rewards for capturing plex are:-

  • Novice - 10,000 LP
  • Small - 17,500 LP
  • Medium - 25,000 LP
  • Large - 30,000 LP

If your militia already own the system, you can defensive plex. This lowers the contested level of the system and requires the enemy to capture additional plex to capture it. When defensive plexing the counter will run with the NPC rat in there as it is (or should be) friendly. You do get a lot less LP for it and the number goes down the less contested it is. If the system is 6% contested you will not get much LP. If it is 99% contested you'll get just under 75% of the normal value:-

  • LP Gain = Base value of plex * (Contested percentage of the system/100) * 0.75

So completing a small plex in a friendly system that is 10% contested, you will get 750 LP (at warzone control level 2, more on this in a moment).

You also get LP for killing enemy players!

  • LP= ([Market value of target ship] - [Max. Insurance market value] + [Fitted mods, rigs and subsystem market value] + [Transported items market value]) / 10000

A few examples (note these are based on average prices in 2012. Use as a rough idea how it works only):-

Abaddon with T2 mods: LP = ( 196m ISK – 161m ISK + 46m ISK + 0 ) / 10000 = 8,100 LP
Machariel with T2 mods: LP = (1.170m ISK – 95m ISK + 40m ISK + 0 ) / 10000 = 111,500 LP
Punisher with T1 fitting: LP = (450k ISK – 312k ISK + 100k ISK + 0) / 10000 = around 24 LP
Punisher with T2 fitting: LP = (450k ISK – 312k ISK + 7.8m ISK +) / 10000 = around 794 LP

Of course, with no insurance, a pod with good implants nets you a lot of LP!

You can donate your LP's into a systems iHub increasing the benefits to your faction in the system and giving your militia more influence in the warzone. Click the militia button and have a look around. It's fairly obvious how tier levels work. You score for every system you control plus extra for the upgrade level. The system upgrade level gives you bonus to clone costs, market order costs and factory/laboratory slots in stations in that system. The amount of LP's needed are:-

  • Level1: 40,000 LPs
  • Level2: 60,000 LPs
  • Level3: 90,000 LPs
  • Level4: 140,000 LPs
  • Level5: 200,000 LPs
  • Buffer: 300,000 LPs

The buffer is required as when you are capturing plex in enemy systems, when you receive LP's, 10% of that number of LP is removed from their iHub. So if you plex enough, the upgrade level of the system will fall affecting their 'warzone control level'. So if you get 25,000 LP for capturing a medium compound, 2,500 LP in the enemy iHub will be lost.

As previously mentioned captured systems and each level of upgrade count to your factions overall warzone control level.

At tier one all LP rewards are reduced to 50%. At tier 2 they are normal and from tier 3 you start getting a bonus. So for a small plex the LP gains by warzone control tier level are:-

  • Tier 1 - 8,750 LP
  • Tier 2 - 17,500 LP (base reward)
  • Tier 3 - 30,625 LP
  • Tier 4 - 43,750 LP
  • Tier 5 - 56,875 LP 

The equivalent ISK value of a LP varies by time, how the side is doing, etc. but as a rule of thumb many work on 800-1000 ISK per LP in faction war.

It should be noted that the faction war LP stores are also discounted. So you need less LP with Federal Defence Union to buy that Navy Brutix than you would need with Federation Navy.

Just Fight!
Plexs are good locations to get fights. Kill the rats, sit on the warp in, wait for enemy to show up. One issue we do have is with farmers coming in with warp core stabs and cloaks. If you do this, you should be ashamed of yourself!

Faction war is about PvP so get yourself a PvP fitted ship, leave the stabs and cloaks at home and lets rumble!

Fighting in T1 frigates, destroyers and cruisers is fun! None of this lock, press F1, see how it goes. These days there are multiple fits that all work well for the same hull. Is that Merlin shield, LM kite fit? Or is he armour tank with rockets? That Incursus, is he blaster or 150mm rails? That Tristan, is he neut or blaster or rails? These all generally need more skill to fight in than big fleets in big ships.

Take the neuting Tristan. You need to manage range, drones, cap injector, armour repper, capacitor levels and overheating. Faction war solo and small gang warfare can be easy or very complex!

Station Lock-Out
Its been mentioned above but I thought I'd highlight this again. If the enemy control the system, you cannot dock in the stations. This applies even if the station belongs to your militia. This is the case in Nisuwa. The station is State Protectorate, but as the Gallente have captured the system State Protectorate members are denied docking permission. A lot of pilots are caught out by this and warp to station. This even applies to capital pilots (check the ownership of the system before jumping your dreadnought to a station you cannot enter!)

Plex Grid Mechanics
Outside, you can warp to the acceleration gate at range, but you cannot warp on grid. This means you cannot warp to fleet members, cans, wrecks anything. I use this when fighting outnumbered. Lure the target well off gate and when his mates warp to him they'll find themselves landing at zero on the gate whilst we are 150km off. If you need to get to someone off gate see if there is a celestial like a station or planet in a good alignment. You can warp to that, warp back to the plex at 100km and then burn the rest of the way. Inside the plex its prop mod or GTFO. No warping inside the plex at all.

Hi-sec is not safe in faction war. You can enter the enemy's hi-sec, but an NPC Navy spawn will attack you. They do not point but they do web and in higher security systems neut heavily. The strength of the spawn relates to the security status of the system. In a 0.5 it is fairly week, in a 1.0 strong. The Navy can be tanked and kited so it is possible to enter the enemy's hi-sec and kill militia there when they think they are safely running missions/mining/hauling. CONCORD will not attack you if you fire on enemy militia in hi-sec. Being in militia is the same as being in a permanent war-dec.

You cannot cloak in enemy hi-sec when in militia (the Navy are tracking you)!

Do Not Attack Fellow Militia Members
Some times there is an asshat in local who is in the same militia as you that you really want to kill. Obvious spy, leeching LP or just smacking like a 6 year-old in a playground. DON'T. Massive standing penalties are given to people who attack fellow militia members. If you pod a fellow militia mate then your standings are going to be in the toilet. There are also the noobs flying around with bad overview settings and may attack those 'friendlies' who are security status challenged (aka pirate). Usually it is best not to have fellow militia on the overview..... but the turning off fellow militia members from the overview also turns off allied militia members which can be a problem.

Allies, or the Enemy of My Enemy is My Enemy or Maybe Friend, I Don't Fracking Know?
In faction war we are supposed to have an ally. It is supposed to be Gallente/Minmatar vs Caldari/Amarr. However there is no penalty for attacking members of the other militia. The Minmatar are supposed to be on our side but are full of anti-pirates. As a -10 player many Matari RP'rs don't like me and will attack. So now I have to consider all Matari potentially hostile (well we have some sensible Matari Militia corps set blue). It gets tricky in the warzone! General rule of thumb, just because the other pilot is in a supposedly allied militia doesn't mean he won't attack you.

When you join faction war you will have the "Militia" chat window pop open. This will be full of spies so do not for one second think it is a secure channel. The enemy has ears and eyes and probably other body parts in there too. All the militia have invite only intel channels. You'll need to prove you are not a filthy spai before getting invited to those. Best way to prove you are not a spia? Kill the enemy.... a lot.

Fleet Up!
As a new player it can be hard to get into some of the roaming fleets. FW is full of spai's remember! Keep an eye on militia chat, there will occasionally be fleet adverts posted. The thing with faction war is it is great for solo and small gang. Get a few of your mates together and fleet up and go for a roam. Faction war is about PvP. So go find someone to violence! Many FC's will look at killboards. If you have been actively killing the enemy you are more likely to be accepted into fleets.

So there you go, my rough faction war guide 2013. If it's pricked your interest have a search around and I'm sure you'll be able to find more in-depth guides. Or just join up and get violencing important internet spaceships! That's the easiest way to learn!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Last Night of Freedom

Fiction Friday. If you are not into Eve Online fiction I have your escape pod right here if you are a blogger and you would like/need a PLEX (work involved, its not free you know!)

Just a note on this piece. A 'stag party' is the British name for a Bachelor Party. I couldn't decide which to use. I wonder what they'll be called 20,000 years from now?

Last Night of Freedom

Jean-Luc rubbed his hands together. This could be his big break, an order of this magnitude could set him up for years. His wood-effect compact holoprojector business was hardly thriving. There was just too much competition in the market. The Empyrean War wasn't helping either. The Caldari certainly wouldn't trade with his Gallente business and, up to now, the Amarrians were hesitant. However all that had changed in the last few days when an Amarrian shipping company approach him wanting details of how a supply-chain could be set up. Two days later he received a communication that a small delegation was arriving to discuss terms for the supply of 500 custom preloaded holoprojector units. An order of that size was almost certainly a major hotel, probably with in Throne-worlds or a major trade hub. Moreover it would save his ailing business.

Most of the delegation arrived the previous night. He'd blown a substantial of his companies dwindling cash reserves in employing a professional hospitality company to meet them and welcome them to the station. Whilst Amarrian visitors were not massively common, the Gallente hospitality companies never missed a trick. They had a "Spiritual Package" to cater for Amarrians, he had read on their info-net site. He had called immediately and booked them on it. He also made a note of the "Matari Marauder Package". An evening of war games with simulated combat followed by a traditional Minmatar feast. With a sale of 500 units he'd treat his staff to some VR gaming and a drunken feast. They'd need some R&R not to mention buttering up after such a massive order.

He looked out of his office window at the small factory floor. It was fairly busy and he was pleased to see that all the 'girly' posters and calendars had been removed and replaced by pictures of scenery. The men had moaned when he asked for it to be done but soon complied when he said a 500 unit order that would keep them in business may rely on those pictures being removed for a couple of days.

A few minutes later there was a knock on the door and his secretary opened the door. Behind her was a tall man stood in robes. Jean-Luc jumped up to meet the Amarrian and showed him to his desk and offered him some Amarrian tea which he had got in specially.

"So, am I right in assuming the order is for a new hotel?" he asked after the Amarrian nodded and smiled, signaling his approval over the tea.

"Actually no. I am head of a new monastery that is nearing completion. When it is built it will be the largest monastery in the Throne Worlds constellation. We will have nearly 500 brothers. The projectors are for our cells and are to be loaded with religious teachings and music. I have brought the recordings to be loaded with me just in case my fellow brothers and I are able to agree terms with you. We are looking for holoprojectors that can be made to look like they belong in a monks cell. Unfortunately the Caldari and Amarrian producers make ones that are to..... fancy. We saw some of the ones you have made with a wood finish, very unique. Hence the long trip for me and my brothers."

Jean-Luc smiled. He was sure after the special Amarrian package he put them on that they'd be in a giving mood today. The company-saving sale was all but a certainty.

"My new brothers who arrived here last night, where are they?"

Jean-Luc tried to maintain his smile although his stomach dropped.

"Were they not at the hotel this morning? We booked you all in together on the same floor."

"No. I went to their rooms but there was no answer. I had assumed they'd started early and had come here to inspect the facilities. I have to say I am a little worried."

Jean-Luc saw his company-saving order slipping away. If something bad had befallen the other brothers he would get the blame.

"I am sure they are fine. You said 'new' brothers? Have they not been with your order long?" he asked trying to deflect away from the question where they were.

"They haven't even visited the planet with the monastery yet. They are short term residents. Many of the more powerful families in the empire like to see their sons attend a monastery for a few years after graduating university. Many of these men will go on to be leaders and holders of the next generation and their time served in the monastery is thought to make them better men."

Jean-Luc now was very worried. These weren't just young monks, they belonged to powerful families. He held up a finger to the monk to indicate one minute as he picked up his communicator.


"10 nine-course banqueting covers that we're not going to get paid for! We're 450 credits down on that package sale now!" the big Gallente fumed. "The booking was for 50 people. Why did you book 60 at the restaurant?"

The skinny blond Gallente girl behind the reception desk just looked up and blew a bubble with her gum that popped noisily.

"Well I wrote 50 down when I took the order from the customer. I guess it looked a bit like a 60 when I'd wrote it. Between taking the package order and booking the restaurant a few days later I got a bit mixed up."

The man grabbed his hair and made a frustrated grunt. This was the 3rd time this month this useless girl had made a mistake that had cost his company, and therefore him, money.

"Can you give me one good reason why I shouldn't fire you right now for this third costly mistake in a month?" he had his palms on the front of her desk now and was leaning over.

The girl smiled, knelt on her office chair, leaning over the desk to look at the monitor. Her skirt road-up revealing the tops of her stockings.

She looked at the monitor for a few seconds and then turned her head over her shoulder and looked back at him lustfully.

"Well I could give you one. And I'm not talking about a reason." she purred.

The boss shook his head slowly. He knew he was defeated. He wasn't going to sack her and they both knew it. Over the past few months they'd been at it like rampant Furriers. She'd instigated it after the first cock-up cost him 1000 credits. Now, every time she made a bad mistake she'd jump his bones. And every time he'd willingly accept. After 30 years of stale marriage, an open-minded nubile nymphomaniac secretary half his age was hard to resist. Yes she cost the company a lot of money, yes she was only doing him to keep her job, but what he got in return made it hard for him to do anything against her.

She had just started to unbutton her shirt when the communicator sounded. The boss grabbed it and answered in the company name, scared his useless secretary may mess up another potential order.

"Oh yes sir, who are you this morning? Our guide said they had a great time....... No he didn't escort them back to their hotel, they wanted to stay longer at the final venue..... Sorry sir but we cannot force guests to leave public venues and apparently they were having a very good time....... a religious site? Well no sir, why do you think we're take them there?................... The Spiritual Package?.................. No sir, you booked the 'Special' Package................ Well sir, one might say it is the polar opposite of the Spiritual Package!........... Amarrian MONKS? No sir, you must not book monks on.... oh.... One moment sir! Please hold!"

The boss look down in absolute horror at the girl who has looking up at him with a questioning look on her face. He put his hand over the communicator mouthpiece.

"What have you done?" he whispered in horror.


"There appears to be a small mix up with the tour company I asked to look after your brothers. Don't worry, we'll soon have them here." Jean-Luc said trying to sound jolly and upbeat.

He quickly logged onto his datapad and ensured that the screen was not visible to the monk sat opposite. He got the hospitality's site up and went to the packages section. In the list of the hospitality company's range of pre-arranged packages, there, one place above 'The Spiritual Package', was 'The Special Package'. He chose the latter and felt his heart sink as the page loaded.

Last night of freedom?
Is your best mate hanging up his nuts and getting married?
Well as the Best Man it is your duty to give him the night of his life!

He looked up at the monk and smiled trying to hide the horror on his face.

Nobody does a last night of freedom like the Gallente.
We'll start with some real 'man food' and some of the strongest ales all served by the hottest women in the cluster.
We'll tour the best bars and clubs in the notorious party district of the station.
We'll finish at a special venue where all the group's fantasies will come true.
None of you will EVER forget this night!

Jean-Luc knew all was lost. Those idiots had taken the monks on a 'stag do' package! The cheesy hold music from the hospitality company still played in his ear.

"It would appear that your brothers were having a good time on the Spiritual Package I had booked for them. They will be late back as they missed the last shuttle. Perhaps I could leave you in the hands of my floor manager who will give you a tour of the facilities and I'll go and make sure they get here safely."

The monk smiled and nodded as Jean-Luc remained still on hold with the hospitality company.


"We're closed!" the vastly overweight man sweeping the floor bellowed.

Jean-Luc walked over and flashed a 20 credit note in front of him.

"I just want some information."

The man snatch the money and continued sweeping.

"What do you want to know?" he asked grumpily.

"I was told you had a party of four monks in here last night?"

"Yeah. Animals! Look at this place!"

For the first time since entering the eatery the hospitality company had directed him to, Jean-Luc looked around. It was a mess. It looked like there had been a wild party in here.

"What in Divinity's Edge happened here?"

"Your damn monks are what happened here. I assume they were in fancy dress for a stag party. Only stag parties behave like that. We brought them their meals and beer and after about two pints they suddenly got all rowdy."

Jean-Luc thought that Amarrian monks did not drink, it wouldn't take much to get them drunk.

"Anyways, a couple of the regulars didn't like them hogging the waitresses and the other girls..."

'Hogging the girls? The Monks?' Jean-Luc thought in surprise.

" a fight nearly breaks out. Lot of pushing and shoving before I get in the middle and have to throw those guys dressed as monks out."

"Any idea where they went?" Jean-Luc asked.

The man just stood there in deep thought. A bit of over-the-top acting was going on as if he was really struggling to think. Jean-Luc took the hint and produced another 20.

"Sinners Row I heard the Gallente guy who was leading them say."

Jean-Luc left with a groan.


Sinners Row was the local name for a promenade on the 35th floor of the station. It was also known locally as Drunk Alley or Clap Street. It was wall-to-wall drinking and entertainment establishments, of every conceivable type. Nobody did sex, drugs and rock and roll like the Gallente. The lift door opened and Jean-Luc stepped out. The promenade was long and filled with neon signs advertising everything from drinks to girls to chemical enhancements. He walked down the wide street not really knowing what he was looking for. Suddenly something caught his eye, a screen in a window was displaying images from a previous night. He wandered over and stared. Clearly some massive parties had been going on in this bar as he watched the images of young people partying hard flick by one by one. It was obviously an advertisement trying to entice passers by into the bar. Suddenly the picture that caught his eye originally cycled around. A man dressed as a monk wearing the same robes as the head of the order who was back at his factory. Although unlike the head monk, this monk had a bright blue glowing drink in one hand, and the derrière of a scantily clad Gallente woman in the other. The next was just as bad. Another of the order with drinks in both hands roaring at the camera open mouthed like a drunk zero-G football jock at a frat party. The next four pictures were all variations on the same theme, the monks, partying hard with booze and girls.

He went inside. Although most establishments on Sinners Row were open 24 hours this was mid-morning and the place was quiet..... and wrecked. Damaged furniture lay all over. There was a crunch of broken glass as he walked over to the bar were the lone barman was apparently asleep with his head on the bar. Jean-Luc cleared his throat. The man moaned and sat up, blinking his bleary eyes.

"What can I get you dude?" he asked strangely chirpy for a man who had been unconscious 10 seconds earlier.

"Information." Jean-Luc replied as he slid over a twenty. "You had four monks in here last night. What happened to them?"

The barman smiled and laughed.

"Dude! They were no monks, they were party animals! They were buying drinks and synth-boosters for everyone, especially the girls. It was wild man."

Jean-Luc groaned. Boosters as well? He was deep in shit and sinking deeper every minute.

"Any idea where they went?"

"Well I think two are in the clink. A fight broke out when some Matari guy caught one of them with his tongue down his girlfriends throat. Security came and carted them off to the drunk tank when fists started to fly. The other two left with their guide. Said they'd continue up the street."

Girls. Arrests. Could this get any worse Jean-Luc wondered?

He thanked the man and left. He retrieved his communicator and called the Hospitality Company. He spoke to the manager and told him bluntly to get down to the Sinners Row security office, get the two monks bailed from the cells and get them back to the hotel otherwise there would be hell to pay. He needed him to do that to give hime time to find the last two.


Jean-Luc neared the end of Sinners Row. Now it was mainly nightclubs and other more specialist venues. He scanned the surrounding area for any clues.

This end of the row was utterly dead. He knew it by reputation. Midnight to 6am this place would have been rocking. Now at 10am it was silent. He rounded a corner and stopped. A ghastly tacky building faced him painted bright pink. Two white marble statues of naked women flanked the door. Only they weren't naked currently, they were wearing monks robes that had been crudely draped over them. Bingo! Jean-Luc entered.

He stopped dead as he entered the main room. Ten minutes before he wondered if it could get any worse. It just did. Around him were tables with a few women in lingerie dotted her and there. The upper balcony that circled the main room was lined with doors. He saw a short, balding man leave one room. A beautiful black-haired girl emerged from behind him wearing next to nothing. She gave the man, who was probably twice her age, a peck on the cheek and waved him goodbye with a giggle. It was a cathouse.

A older woman approached Jean-Luc and smiled. Jean-Luc assumed manager as she was dressed in a smart skirt-suit.

"Welcome to Madame Yvette's House of Pleasure. Would you like a drink first or is there some fantasy I can make come true for you from our selection of lovely sexy girls here?" she purred seductively.

"Well yes, there is a fantasy I would like to come true. I would love to find the two missing Amarrian monks who's robes are drapped outside and get them back to their hotel before the head of the order finds them missing and starts a station-wide manhunt stroke diplomatic incident!"

The woman looked puzzled.

"Monks? Oh you mean the Amarrians on the stag party!"

"No" repleid Jean-Luc "I mean the real-life, 100% proper, true Armarrian monks, who belong to some ridiculously rich and powerful families at the top of the Amarrian Empire. They were given the wrong welcome package and clearly went out of control!"

The woman's face became worried. She beckoned him to follow as she walked up the stairs to the balcony. She stopped at a door entitled "Throne Room" and pushed it open. Jean-Luc stuck his head in.

Inside was a tacky recreation of the Amarrian throne room on Amarr Prime. Only with beds, cheap chandeliers and badly painted murals on the walls. Bottles of Gallente champagne littered the floor along side spilt booster pill bottles. He saw two men face down on the beds surrounded by no less than 6 'working ladies' in nothing more than stockings and high heels. All were very unconscious.

Jean-Luc closed the door quietly. He pulled out a card and wrote something on the back and passed it to the woman.

"I assume you have security guys here tucked away somewhere discretely. Get them to get those two monks back to this hotel room and get them freshened up. I need to keep the head of the order distracted. If he finds out about this we're both in the shit!"

Jean-Luc assumed the owner of the establishment would not want trouble and he was right. She nodded and smiled as he turned to leave.

"Certainly sir, happens all the time."

Jean-Luc did a double take at that with a 'Really?' look before heading out of the establishment.


Jean-Luc smiled as the head of the order pressed his thumb on the datapad to seal the contract. A few seconds later a message confirmed that the 50% advanced payment was transferred.

The head of the order thanked Jean-Luc for his hospitality and not to worry about the mix up with the shuttles. His monks had a wonderful time planet-side visiting some of the ancient ruins and learning more of the past religions in this region. He added that his brothers had enthused about the integrity and honesty of his company and had insisted that they placed the order for the holoprojectors with him alone.

As they left they shook hands one at a time before leaving his office. Each of the younger monks giving Jean-Luc a sly embarrassed grin, a wink or a silently mouthing 'thank you' after the head of the order had left.

After they had all gone he slumped into his chair. After the day he had he didn't know whether to laugh or cry. His company's fortunes had been reversed, but after the morning he had, he was worried his body might not last the day under the stress.

A few moments later his secretary stuck her head around the door. Sir, I have someone on line one enquiring about a large order. The call is from the system of Hek.

"Minmatar?" Jean-Luc thought "Surely they are going to be a piece of cake to deal with after the Amarrian monks!" and picked up his communicator.

The End

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Eve Valkyrie Development with Lessons From DUST

So yesterday CCP announced they are turning EV-R into a game.

Who'd have thought that! Well I bloody well called it...... twice! (warning, that second link is a piece of fiction I wrote for the games introduction/first mission. Eve Geek Level = EXTREME!)
Anyway, could this be a great game? Absolutely! Could it also be a monumental disappointment. Absolutely! I really want CCP to succeed with EV-R the game. It could be a return to the great days of Wing Commander! But lets set out some ground rules as we want Eve-like player numbers in Valkyrie, not DUST like. So......

1. Don't Make it Complicated.
You can have customisation without the levels of Eve or DUST. No skill tree needed and a simple method of swapping a limited choice of armaments and ships. Let the most taxing thing on the fitting screen be "should I go for friend-or-foe fire-and-forget missiles or high damage missiles that need a proper lock? If we want complicated fitting choices we'll boot up Eve Online and EFT. Not everything has to have Eve-like levels of complicatedness. Think Call of Duty over Eve Online. Beware of Eve Devs who think Eve-like!

2. It Doesn't Have to Be Meaningful
When I suggest EV-R the game I looked into ways of making PvP have an impact in Eve Online. In the end I said "forget it, bad idea". DUST is sold on that link but in reality it has little or no actual impact on the Eve Online universe. The impact perceived by the Eve-O players is it is even less than that. Lets not try and shoe-horn some connection between the two/three games that shifts focus off the important stuff like game-play, graphics and storyline!

3. PvP Should be In and Out.
Accessible is the name of the game here! "I've got 30 minutes before wife agro kicks in, what shall I do? Eve? Not enough time really. DUST? Well it all depends if the guys are on and there is a squad up as we all know what happens if you join a random battle solo. Ah! A quick blast on EV-R!". Eve Online is game you need to invest serious time in really. DUST, well to be effective you need to make arrangements. EVR should be a quick in and out. Set it apart from the current CCP time-sinks. If I want complex PvP, I'll log into Eve. EVR should be arcade sytle fun! You should be able to get your mates around to show off the headset and game. Get them suckered into the Eve-O universe gently!

4. No Pay2Win/Micro-Transactions
Sell the game, as a game. You know that old fashioned method where I give you cash and you give me a copy of the game to download. And before anyone says anything about cost. You need a VR headset to play the damn game! If you can afford a VR headset you can afford a bloody game! To be honest I'd be massively surprised if Oculus Rift were not backing the development of this game financially. The feedback at E3 has probably showed them that this is their 'Halo' or 'Sonic the Hedgehog'. This is the game that will sell their headsets. People might not want a headset as a matter of course, but they will want this awesome game.... which needs a headset. Therefore I'm guessing after CCP backed their Kickstarter, the tables have now turned and they are investing money into CCP! After all it is likely to get them hardware sales. Just look at this year, some really dumb people* spent their hard earnt cash to buy a brand-new PS3 just for DUST514!

5. Ensure a Gripping Single Player Campaign
This is a must if the game is going to get anywhere. Go read the reviews of DUST514, it is painful but many of the reviews point out that the lack of any sort of single player mode is an issue. PvP should be the bolt-on to the single player campaign. Take a long hard look at Wing Commander. Thats how to do it! You have the opportunity to make me feel like I'm in an epic sci-fi movie. I shudder to think what could be done with cut-scenes with that technology!

So come one CCP, put your game-face on and make a winner. No endless beta, no half-finished game that is release with a list of future promises, no over-the-top complicated systems that need an out-of-game spreadsheet to use properly. Lets not have another DUST514 please! My PS3 is sat gathering dust (pun intended) having been bought in January specifically for DUST514 and now sits unused after I gave up on DUST over the summer (see * above). I don't want the same to happen to an Oculus Rift headset on my desk!

Make it so!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Killing, In Very High Resolution

Regular readers may recall that last weekend I had a bit of a problem. Kitteh mk III aka Evie was attacked by one of the older cats. During the high-speed pursuit a cup of tea was launched from the desk with sufficient quantity going through the mesh top of my gaming rig to blow it up. 'Thankfully' the only thing that got fried was my trusty GTX 670 graphics card. A bit of messing around, ripping out the fried graphics card and installing of drivers and I had Eve back up and running using the on-board graphics. Obviously the raw power of Intel HD 2500 hasn't got a lot of.... well, raw power, so all last week I was playing Eve in minimum settings at low resolution. Horrific!

Now, if you'd said to me how important are graphics in Eve at the start of the month I'd have said "ish". What makes Eve great is the game play, the community, the mechanics, the lore and background, meaningful PvP, player driven sandbox etc etc. Graphics are just the fluff. Then I had a week in low resolution. Horrible! I hated it which really took me by surprise. Poor textures, low resolution, no effects. It was really bad and I didn't enjoy playing it as much. I am very surprised at this revelation that the poor graphics actually significantly reduced my enjoyment of Eve. It also made playing a bit harder too!

"Drack! Is he a smartbomber?"
"I dunno!"
"Well look to see if he has any turrets fitted!"
"I've got turrets turned off... and particles... and engine trails.... and explosions... and drones.... and...."

Then this weekend I went up to the big city and to a mall that specialises in just computer shops. Thankfully there was a good choice of graphics cards, providing I was happy with the two manufacturers available, Gigabyte or Asus. There was a good selection of different GPUs from the old GeForce 2xx series all the way up to the 780 and even the Titan. In the end I opted for a 2gb GTX 760. Didn't want to go silly!

I got home, installed the card (painless), bunged the CD in, installed the drivers. All sorted Grumpy Cat?

W....T.....F? Why is there a blue/red haze over everything?

I gave a shout out to the #tweetfleet and soon was told it was a known issue with that version of the nvidea drivers. I was pointed to a forum post that showed that having high shader quality settings made the nvidea driver at the time go a funny blue/red! A quick change in shader quality to medium was an interim fix. Thankfully that was an old issue, long since resolved. Therefore the next job, download the latest graphics card drivers from nvidea's website.

177 MEGABYTES? FOR DRIVERS? I'm on restricted bandwidth over here!

Anyway, once installed, Eve was back to the max!

I was able to crank all settings up to maximum and the game ran great at a steady 60fps. No problems and it looked amazing again.

It was around this time whilst I'm still messing about with the PC that I hear on comms that someone has a Slepnier tackled two jumps away. We have a few frigates in the area but nothing thats going to make much of a dent in the shield tanking monster that is a Slepnier. Time to "Trust in The Rust". I jump into my ancient Tempest and undock.

Did I say its great to have max graphics again!

I high-tail it over to Pyne where the fight is slowly moving off a faction war plex acceleration gate. Now there is a consideration to take on board with faction war plexs. You cannot warp to a player on grid at the plex gate or inside. You will automatically land at the gate. Back when I was in SoTF we had some fun with a Goon fleet who didn't know this. We'd set up with snipers off a gate, wait for them to probe us down, and when their fleet landed at 0 on the acceleration gate we'd pop a few and warp off. It took a few goes for them to realise it wasn't the prober or the person doing the fleet warp who was making a mistake.

I asked for an alignment after they said they were 150km off the gate, and bounced to planet three before warping to the plex at 100km. This is the best you can do. You can warp to the plex at a range, but you cannot warp to a player. By the time I landed they were 300km off the gate and 200km from me. Thankfully someone got a scram on the Slepnier and he drops from 2.1k m/sec down to something more reasonable. I activate my MWD and start the long crawl to catch up. At last I get in range and the minor damage from the frigate drones and small guns are joined by a full rack of T2 1400's with Rebublic Fleet EMP. BOOM!

The Slepnier kills the scramming frigate and burns towards me. However, a flight of ECM drones keeps his damage down. Problem being his speed is greater than mine so he is able to negate some of my damage. Thankfully I have a couple of neuts and I am able to get some range after a while.

During this, reports are coming in of a Caldari Militia cruiser gang entering system. My lone battleship plus a few frigates verses a cruiser fleet with ECM support and logistics? Oh dear! But as we are still around 300km from the gate there is no immediate worry. The enemy gang lands but are not a concern as they are over 300km away.

The Slepnier finally enters armour and a single volley from my BFG's pop him just as the squid interceptors start to burn for us.

As our 'fleet' is now, after the earlier loss, one battleship and three frigates (Maulus, Kestrel and Harpy), I can take a wild stab in the dark who they are looking to tackle. I'm not overly concerned. If the Interceptor did catch me, his fleet members cannot warp to him due to the 'natural phenonema' so my drones and fleet mates would have time to deal with him.

In the end it is not an issue as the three kill-hungry frigate guys with me, who have already tasted blood, head towards the approaching interceptor who has been joined by a war target Atron coming in for hero tackle. They are quickly shown why the CCP video 'I was there' does not apply to fighting on faction war gates! Both of the enemy ships are dispatched whilst the flashy fleet is slowly making its way over towards me. The three others are talking about popping the support as I warp my fat ass to a safe before making my way home once I know the way is clear from a bit of D-Scanning. I'll be no help to them and a dozen cruisers on me will not end well for me!

So as I logged I had a shiny new graphics and a 600m+ ISK command ship kill. I'm happy now. Eve is back to Megan-Fox-in-stockings levels of gorgeousness!

And that ladies and gentlemen, is bloody gorgeous!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Fiction - EV-R The Game: The First Mission

Fiction Friday! A while ago I did a blog post on how EV-R could be turned into a full game al la Wing Commander. Here is how I imagine the game starting.

If fiction is not your thing, escape pod here to some sad news or here to where the lovely Sindell Pellion needs some help moving shit for The Angel Project.

EV-R The Game. First Mission.

The space station slowly orbited the red planet below. The start blue-grey construct with its straight lines and sharp angles was in traditional Caldari style. Nearby several ships manoeuvred around, undocking and docking in the cavernous ship hanger.

A small shuttle left the main bay and swung around to head to a hulking carrier positioned off the station.

The design of the Chimera class carrier had not significantly changed since the first Caldari-Gallente war. Originally a bulk water freighter designed for moving large quantities of water to colonies on planets with scarce water supply, it had been retro-fitted to serve as a combat carrier. Rather than billions of litres of water in its hold, it now held racks of deadly attack fighter craft. Unlike the capsuleer equivalent, this Navy version had several different types of fighter ranging from scouts to heavy attack fighters to bombers. The top-of-the-line Dragonfly fighters were reserved for the best pilots. A one-man craft capable of unleashing massive fire-power at its enemies.

The shuttle slowly approached the carrier and entered through the pulsing forcefield into the main hanger bay. Seconds later it was touching down and its passenger doors opened.

Slowly the passengers started to disembark. They were dressed in identical Caldari Navy uniforms with a dufflebag slung over each shoulder.

Ensign Blair* started down the stairs whilst trying to take in all his surroundings. The hanger bay was full of fighter craft, ordinance, supplies and people. Techs were working hard repairing damaged ships and rearming others. It was clear the ship had seen action recently. He continued onto the deck and grouped with the others. Other smaller cargo crafter where unloading their goods and MTACs emerged from the holds carrying huge cargo crates. He received a sharp jab to the ribs.

"Hey dude! Look over there!" his friend through navy pilot training, Aki pointed to the far end of the hanger. A line of 12 Dragonfly fighters gleamed in the bright overhead lights.

"Can you imagine flying one of those. I hear they have been fitted with the new Lia Dai Mark 18 engines. Man, what I wouldn't do to get in one of them."

Blair just looked and nodded. He knew they'd never let a rookie like them near one of their top flight fighters. He glanced across to the battered row of Cobra fighters that he assumed would be their first ship. Slower, less manoeuvrable and packing much less of a punch then the Dragonfly, these fighters were in plentiful supply.

"OFFICER ON DECK!" one of the recruits shouted and the others span around to see a man in an officers uniform striding towards them. They quickly formed up in a line and stood to attention. The officer stood in front of them and slowly looked down the line.

"At ease! Welcome to the Shamaso. You are no longer trainees. You are rookies. You will be flying multi-million credit ships at an enemy who wants to kill you. And you volunteered for this. Which either makes your brave or mad. Which you are doesn't matter to me. The State needs both in this war. I am Wing Commander Chan. You have been assigned quarters and the details have been sent to your datapads. You do not have much time. Your first briefing is at 1900 ship time. Dismissed!"

With that the officer turned and strode away as quickly as he had arrived. Leaving the new recruits in a state of bewilderment.

"Come on! Lets see if the bunk rooms are any better than the academy!" Aki said dragging Blair by the arm as he continued to stare over at the fighters.


Two hours later the new pilots were sat in the briefing room staring at the huge starchart on the back wall. The room was full of pilots hhey hadn't met yet all in their flight-suits. Wing Commander Chen strode in and took the podium. The pilots stood to attention.

"At ease!" and the pilots sat back down.

"Right, we have some fresh meat from the Naval Academy and fresh supplies. Unfortunately this was just a pit stop, no time for RnR." a groan emanated from the pilots "We are jumping in sixty minutes back into the shit. The Gallente are still putting up considerable resistance and we are looking to secure the system of Hirri in the Black Rise region. Capsuleer forces are battling there currently but we intend to stay out of their way. Once we have jumped into the system we will launch six patrol wings of two fighters each. We'll be pairing a rookie up with one of our more seasoned pilots. Now this is for you rookies, you obey the orders of your wingman. We've lost far too many pilots who are fresh out of the academy and think they are the next big thing. Then on their first mission go do something stupid and I'm sending home their personal belongs with a letter about what a great citizen you were and how your sacrifice was for the good of the State. I HATE writing letters! Do not make me do that! Your patrol route and wingman assignments are now on your datapad. Get down the hanger, prep your ship and get ready. We are jumping into the shit, so stay frosty and come back in one piece. Dismissed!"

Blair watched the wing commander leave and looked back at the massive star chart. Suddenly his vision was blocked. He looked up to see a woman standing in front of him, he looked into her eyes a second too long. He shot upright to attention on seeing the Squadron Commander insignia.

"At ease Ensign." she smiled.

"I am Squadron Commander Mila and I am your wingman for the mission."

Blair nodded. The officer in front of him was stunning. Dark back hair and a hint of Intaki about her. She looked mid-20's which was young for a squadron commander.

"Shall we?" she asked.


Blair breathed slowly and deeply. He was sat in the cockpit of his Cobra class fighter. All systems were green and all he needed to do was to wait for the launch order. His heart was racing. Over the last few years he'd racked-up hundreds of hours in ships like this. But it had always been against other rookies or AI controlled drones. The missiles and gun fire had always been simulated. Now he was going to launch on a patrol where he could encounter enemy forces that would not fire simulated charges at him. This was the real deal.

"Ensign, calm down otherwise we'll have to give you the callsign of 'Rave' and you don't want that." Squadron Commander Mila spoke over the headset.

"Yes Ma'am. Sorry Ma'am. Rave?"

There was laughter in his helmet.

"Yes. As your heart is doing 160 beats per minute. I can see your heart-rate monitor and it looks like the base from a Matari dance track. And when we're in the cockpit you use my callsign, 'Siren'. You are 'Blair' until we senior officers have chosen a, shall we say 'suitable' callsign for you!"

"Yes marm, sorry, I mean Siren."

Red lights started to pulsate around the hanger and a klaxon sounded. It was the prepare for jump alarm. A few seconds later the Chimera carrier vanished in a flash of light as its jump drive created an artificial wormhole.

A few more seconds later Blair felt the acceleration as the fighter was launched from the hanger bay by tractor beams. As soon as the fighter cleared the forcefield that held the atmosphere in the bay the acceleration vanished as it was no longer within the artificial gravity field of the carrier.

His fighter shot out of the hanger and he was confronted by strange space. The Caldari nebula was distant and the green glow of the Gallente nebula was closer than he'd ever seen it.

"How you doing Blair?"

"I'm ready to roll Siren. Aligned to waypoint one and awaiting your call."

"Acknowledged. Squad warp in 3, 2, 1..."

Blair looked out of the side of the cockpit to see other pairs of fighters aligning in the distance. A loud hum brought his vision back to the front as his ships drive spun up and slipped into warp."


For the fourth time in the patrol Blair's Cobra class fighter dropped out of warp near to an asteroid field. He immediately activated his scanner.

"I've got something. Two signatures at 340 mark 270" Siren's voice broke the radio static.

"Confirmed. I see them too. I'm not sure what they are, too much interference from..... oh no." Blairs voice trailed off as the scanner suddenly got a positive lock as the craft broke through the asteroid field. Two Federation Firbolg fighters were in an intercept course. The Firbolg was similar to the Caldari Dragonfly, their top-of-the-line fighter craft.

"Align out, we need to get back to the carrier. Damn, they've got me. Get out! Warp away. Tell them it was a trap!"

Blair hovered over the warp command. The two fighters had locked onto Siren and had engaged. Wing Commander Chen's words from the briefing ran through his head, 'You obey the orders of your wingman'.

Decision made. Blair swung his ship around and locked the nearest fighter. His heads up display showed Siren's shields were dropping fast.

"Ensign! I gave you a direct order. Get the frack out of here! We cannot take two Firblog's. We'll both die."

Blair's targeting computer achieved lock and he fired two missiles at the first enemy ship.

"Sorry Siren, say again, the comms are all HISSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS." Blair hissed down the microphone as he concentrated on the second ship. He knew his missiles would not be enough to destroy the first ship but they had achieved their goal. The first fighter had taken evasive manoeuvres and swerved out of the way. Blair swapped to the neutron blaster cannons and bared down on the second ship. The antimatter charges slammed into the Gallente ship and tore down the shields. Just before the two ships were about to collide Blair pulled up sharply whilst firing two missiles. At that close range the Firbolg didn't have time to react. The missile impacted against its hull and tore it apart.

His console showed Siren was in big trouble and her ship was not far from disabled. The remaining enemy ship had taken shield damage from Blairs first salvo but was closing back in on Siren for the kill. Two missiles streaked from its green hull towards the heavily damaged Cobra. Siren watched the missiles approach knowing she could not avoid them in her damaged ship. Her lateral thrusters were down and she was barely moving with her heavily damaged engines. She stared the missiles down refusing to close her eyes. Suddenly her field of vision was obscured by the belly of Blair's Cobra as he flew past her. The two missiles struck the top of his ships shields and exploded.

Blair struggled to keep control of the ship as the shock-wave pounded him. Alarms went off informing him his shields were down and armour damage had been detected. Blair didn't think twice, he launched his last two pre-locked missiles and spun his ship around. Seeing his two missiles, Siren launched her last two. The remaining Firbolg had nowhere to run as the first missile took down the little shield it had remaining and the other three tore it apart.


Wing Commander Chen was stood on the flight deck as the two Cobra fighters limped into the hanger and started landing procedures. He'd seen the battle, the flight recorder data had been transmitted ten minutes ago when the fighters were back in communications range.

The two Cobras were beat up. One was severely damaged, the other had less, but still significant damage. However the Wing Commander was impressed that they had taken down two Federation Firbolgs in the mass-produced low-grade fighters.

First job would be to tear a strip off that rookie for disobeying orders. Then he would need to consider how he was going to use that rookies tremendous skills in the coming campaign.

The End

* see what I did there ;)

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

LP For Killing Player Pirates?

Low-Sec still has issues with its risk verses reward. In some respects it is more dangerous than sov-holding null-sec but the rewards are not much better than high-sec. So why bother with low-sec? CCP has done a few things over the last few years to improve things. The DED sites bring in the PVE farmers, as does the Tags4Sec. But still, I'd like to see more opportunity to draw people into low-sec so they may explore Eve further and try to blow me up.

Actually why not reward people directly for blowing me up?

If a Caldari or Amarr Militia pilot blows my ship up, then they get loyalty points to spend in the discounted militia store. The actual amount of LP depends on my ship value plus the destroyed modules and cargo value, its max insurance worth and the estimated current value of a Loyalty Point as calculated by CCP. This is carefully monitored to ensure nobody can make a profit by making an alt in the opposing militia and blowing them up repeatedly for profit*. In a decent fitted ship this LP payout can easily be over a few thousand LP. A good pod (no ship value and no insurance value) can make even more if they have good implants.

Now this only applies to faction war. If you are not Amarr or Caldari miltia you'll normally get nothing for blowing me up. I don't know why, its weird, but for some reason I don't get bounties placed on me that often. Guess I need to smack more in local or something.

However, I am not only a Gallente Militia pilot, I am also a -10 pirate. I say pirate, but the reality is I don't gank neutrals on stargates or at stations, or hunt them down. However, if a neutral turns up at my faction war plex, well he's not there for sight seeing is he? Also if you are in an asteroid belt then you are asking for it!

Should neutrals get some automatic payout for shooting such scourge of low sec as myself? Don't CONCORD want a more safe low-sec? Why do they have gate-guns and issue security status hits if they don't. I would think CONCORD would love to see law-abiding citizens dispensing justice in those areas they cannot.

So, how about CONCORD LP for killing capsuleer (player) pirates?

Surely capsuleer pirates are more of a threat than those of the Guristas or the Angel Cartel? Take the level 4 missions Worlds Collide or Angle Extravaganza. How many ships do you kill in those missions? How much are you outnumbered? 50 to 1? 100 to 1? CONCORD pay bounties in ISK for these run-of-the-mill NPC pirates. I think they'd reward players better for taking down the much more powerful capsuleer pirates.

Why not expand the faction war LP system for player kills to giving all pilots LP points for killing pirate players in low-sec? There needs to be a few ground rules:-

1. The victim must be a full pirate, at least -5.0 sec status or worse.
2. The person collecting the bounty must be positive sec status. No LP for pirate-on-pirate or wannabe-on-pirate.
3. Payout is only applicable in low-sec systems.

The mechanism should be exactly the same as the faction war mechanic. The value of the destroyed ship, module and cargo that is lost plus the maximum insurance payout is taken into account and is compared. The estimated value of a CONCORD LP is calculated and a suitable pot of LP given out to the person getting the final blow and those in his fleet that are on-grid.

This is to make sure that people cannot farm LP and make a profit. The value of the destroyed items must always be greater than the value of the gained LP.

Of course one of the benefits of being in faction war is we get a discounted LP store. A Vexor Navy Issue from the FDU store is significantly cheaper than the Federation Navy store. Could this we done with CONCORD? Could corporations and alliance sign up the DED? Every member needs to be positive security status in the same way standings are used in militia when signing up? May be this is a step too far for the moment?

However I think the LP for pirate kills could really work. How good could that be? Suddenly we have got people looking to farm us pirates!

* Yes, when this first came out the Goons worked out they could fill the cargo bay with little used items, inflate the market prices of those items artificially and make a fortune. This is an exploit and I know a few people to be perma-banned for this "printing of ISK".

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Killing, in Very Low Resolution

As normal on a Saturday morning I'm up well before the wife, so time for some Eve-O.

I get a few T1 frigate kills including this absolute gem.

Yes that is a triple stabbed Merlin with a cloak. A sad reflection on the state of the Caldari Militia these days! I then found a Caldari Navy Hookbill in a plex. Now I have found these fitted with stabs too lately, but I have to assume he's going to fight. Also I'm in a 10mn AC Thrasher, if he's rocket fit and on the warp in, he would get under my guns and I'd be dead. Then again a lot of Caldari in this area just fly 'kitey' ships so they can run away when needed. Mmmmmmmm.

Oh well, fortune favours the bold!

Oh dear. He was at zero. Oh dear, he was be dual web. Bugger I was in trouble. Only one thing for it!

I overheated my guns and my AB and aligned trying to put some distance between us. He was winning but I was able to get a couple of kilometres between us and my guns start grazing his shields. I was dropping fast through shields and soon into armour. The damage control unit slowed my armour loss but he still had the upper hand. I could see one of us was going to die before the guns or AB burn out so I left them overheated. I was soon in low armour when a good volley puts him into structure. I entered structure and got another good volley which assploded him.

My Thrasher was in hull and my guns were 90% damaged. But the Hookbill is dead. I swing around towards the wreck as two random Gallente enter the plex. Too late boys! Time to loot the....


What the......? Oh the itteh bitteh kitteh has been found by one of the older cats in the corner of the computer room. They still are not 'integrated' so we do still get cat fights. Anyway there is a white fluffy blur as the kitten races around the room pursued by the big tabby which is about three times her size. She races over the bed and then jumps onto the computer desk at speed..... straight into my full cup of steaming tea..... that is then propelled across the desk.... with the contents landing on top of the PC case.... that happens to be a gaming case...... and has a grill in the top with fan. This is great for keeping the case cool, not so for keeping popular british beverages out.

My monitors go blank, the hum of the high speed fans dies instantly, the PC is dead. Ganked by a cup of Twinnings English Breakfast Tea fired from a six month old kitten. The sudden silence of the room is broken by a Vader-esque NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

The wife, who is now up, comes running in to see what disaster has befallen me. She realises the gravity of the situation when I say the kitten has killed my gaming PC and quickly rescues it before it becomes a spicy kebab.

I quickly unplug it (the computer, not the kitteh), take the side covers off and inspect. It appears to be dry inside but there is clearly a problem as the spilt tea killed it. So I strip the cables from the back and take it outside and leave it half an hour. As a desert dweller, it is over 41oC out there so I'm pretty sure that within 30 minutes any rogue tea will have dried. Back in the computer room I attached the power cable and try to start it up. When I press the on button I see a brief milli-second of fan 'spinage' on the GPU cooler but that is it, nothing from the MoBo or any of the other fans or coolers. I disconnect the PSU from the MoBo and everything else and use a paperclip to hotwire it. You can do this by linking pins in the big plug that goes normally into the MoBo. I attach the power cable for the water cooler to test. Turning on the PSU shows that the PSU is fine and the watercooler is churning like a good 'un. So its not the PSU that has died. I take a step back and look at the case. The graphics card is big. In fact it is likely to have acted as 'tea umbrella'. So I pull that from the board, reconnect all the PSU cables back to the MoBo and hit the power switch.

Whir! BEEP!

So it is at least posting and it would appear the graphics card is fried and was stopping the PC booting. My MoBo has on-board graphics, so I take it back to the desk and reconnect everything back up. I get back into Windows with it looking like we're back in 95 with a terribad resolution. Of course! The on-board graphics have never been used and therefore never set up. So I try and download drivers. Of course I haven't plugged all the cables back into the exact same USB slots so the damn thing is not recognising my USB modem now. After swapping it twice I find a USB port that it likes (why do some USB devices do that???) and get online. A 90mb download later and I'm back onto 1920x1080 dual screen goodness (it technically was dual screen before on the generic VGA drivers but one screen simply duplicated the other).

So the big question is, will Eve Online run on integrated graphics on this motherboard? A sad thought that 90 minutes ago I was on a 2gb overclocked GTX670. I fire up Eve and it works, but is 'clunky'. I reduce all settings from maximum to minimum and also reduce my Windows resolution from 1920 down to 1600. Eve appears to be more playable now even if its looking a bit like Minecraft!

Surprisingly the wreck of that Hookbill is still there so I scoop the loot and dock up. At this point it was time to meet the gang down the bar for an afternoon session so I closed everything down, scowled at the kitten (no kittehs were harmed during this nerd rage) and went for a well deserved pint slightly happier than I was an hour ago.

Five hours later and I'm back home and back in new Eden. I log on to hear there is a Tristan plexing in the dead-end system nextdoor. An ideal test to see how Eve PvP runs on the 'power' of Intel HD 2500 graphics. I stick my Cockbag Thrasher on the stargate and a few minutes he is chased out. BANG! BANG! A Tristan plus a nice 200m+ ISK pod to celebrate my introduction to low-sec-low-res PvP. That was OK, but I think I need a real challenge. I swap the Cockbag to my repaired 10mn Thrasher, and head to Hirri, a favorite system for Caldari Militia, pirates and pirate-hunting neuts.

After about 5 minutes I get a Thrasher on short scan. I load RF EMP and wait (yes I took a gamble). A neutral Thrasher enters the plex. If they are entering a faction war plex then they are probably anything but neutral. Especially with me being -10. I open fire first as he's not blue. He is AC/MWD fit and is hitting me but I'm hitting him harder. He gets back up a few seconds later in a second Thrasher. The first Thrasher starts making range as he hits armour and his mate takes over. I swap to the new Thrasher as I myself start to enter armour. My guns start stripping the new guy of his shields as his mate burnt out to 45km away. The fleeing Thrasher swings back around and starts heading back. I overheat the guns and swing around trying to close range, but trying to also keep the second guy at optimals. It works and the second Thrasher goes down and I overheat my point and AB and grab the original Thrasher. My artilleries are OK at this long range but his autocannons are useless. I manage to take him down in a couple of long range volleys.

So a successful 2v1 Thrasher-threesome. Eve might look pants running on intergrated graphics, but plays just as great as always.

Plus now I get a trip up to the big city at the weekend to buy a new graphics card! Wife's idea not mine!