Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Murphy's Law and Killmail "Whoring" Don't Mix

"I never had a slice of bread, Particularly large and wide, That did not fall upon the floor, And always on the buttered side." - Norwalk paper, 1841

I can only mentally exclaim "What the...!!" and shake my fist when I perused the Battleclinic killboard at work ( multitasking as usual). I had logged off early last night to catch some sleep after staying up late the night before to take care of some Coalition stragglers. Anyway, last night was a boring gate camp, and someone else had looted the faction fitted rapier that we killed an hour ago. So I figure I'd get some beauty sleep instead. As you know, my goal this year is to get capital ship kills. Guess what? Barely 30 minutes after I had logged, the roaming gang I had been in netted not one, but TWO carrier kills. Good job boys, but... ARGH!!!!

That really makes me hate having to be at work... C'mon, don't deny me my capital kills...

P.S.: And I missed a fricking
TITAN kill when I took a nap. *emoragequit* I tell ya.
P.P.S.: And it rained after I washed my car.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

A Brave New World (North)

Northern Coalition bandwagon count:
Razor, Morsus Mihi, PURE, Stella Polar, Majesta Empire, Mostly Harmless, IRON, Atlas, Firmus Ixion?, who else did I miss… et al.

Whelp! I give up blogging about battle frontline news, since it’s worse than trying to keep track of a hot potato. Entities come and go, titans multiply themselves by 8 or 9, bandwagons fill up and roll over,
epic e-drama ensues… Why do people watch TV when Eve is full of soap operas and cost less too, if you have fewer than 10 alts? If you live in empire then well… I hope you enjoy the seclusion.

There has been
wild speculations of Triumvirate planning blue standings with Insurgency to repel the efforts of the Coalition to oust us out of Branch. Who knows if that will even happen? If it does, however, and Tri decides to throw their supercaps into the warzone, I can guarantee lots of fun times (or lag) for all parties involved. It will be a good way for Tri to show that they are still a premier PVP alliance despite the internal strife. Imagine a new universe with four PVP superpowers working with each other: Band of Brothers, Mercenary Coalition, Insurgency, and Triumvirate. The Axis of “Evil”. One can certainly dream!

When the dust settles, it will be a completely different world up in the North end of the universe. Will Insurgency fall as Phoenix Allianz/RARE did? Will the Northern Coalition bandwagon, complete with everyone and their kitchen sinks and meat shield and dronelets, steamroll the “evil” power blocs or spill and run over everyone when it hits a stray pebble on the road? Truth to be told, I enjoy being on the dark side, fighting outnumbered against a disorganized blob. You may argue with me all you want, but when you throw the entire Northern Coalition of twenty plus alliances together along with FCs who speak only Russian or German or English, it is a recipe for failure at best. I’ve fought on both sides, and I can safely claim that the lack of organization when the Coalition was defending Phoenix space was appalling and made fleet work almost more boring than mining.

And that is why I am enjoying myself so much right now. Fantastic pew pew everyday – why did I deny myself of that by living in the drone regions? I apologize to my Ro3 friends who have joined the “good” guys, some of whom I have shot and podded (and vice versa) but still keep in touch with. It’s all good fun.

Hail… Long live Insurgency!

In other news: You may feel highly displeased as an empire dweller to find out that
CCP has taken out NPC sale orders for shuttles, but you will be very pleased as an investor/trader/manufacturer. Just pray that you don’t get podded in your +5 implants…

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

"Is that smoke coming out of the Z-K node server?!?!"

Node crash party, anyone? (For a detailed battle report and discussion, see here.)

Barring the failed blob attack by Morsus Mihi/Pure/Majesta Empire last weekend, they brought in an even bigger blob of 700-800 ships last night, comprising of pretty much everyone in the North save for Triumvirate. I knew something was up when I tried to log my main and alt in for a quick skill change before dinner and I was greeted with the black screen of death for over 30 minutes. So I logged my empire alt on and checked the map. 'Lo and behold, a huge red angry spot in Z-K showing about 470 players in system. Complaints of lag rose from empire space even.

This could bode well or really badly for Insurgency. If the node crashes, that's the end of the story. We will get overrun simply because they will have more trying to log in, and hence a higher success rate. I figure that I will bring my battleship out anyway for some fun. I don't build or buy ships that I can't frontline. Save Picasso artpieces for the museum gallery.

Was partway through making dinner when station finally loaded, switched into my Rokh to join the carnage. Turns out that our friendly neighbors, RAZOR Alliance, had anchored a small POS in one of our station systems earlier in the day. After diplomatic requests by our alliance leadership for RAZOR to remove their POS, they responded by replacing it with a faction deathstar. At that point, a decision was made to set them to -10, as they were previously blue. This seemed preplanned to me; everyone had been postulating that RAZOR would reset Insurgency like the other alliances in the NAPfest power bloc (i.e. set everyone blue so we can hug each other), and this seemed like the perfect excuse. There was insider intel floating around that RAZOR had planned this op for some time.

They quickly set up a gate camp in BKG, one of the neighboring systems to our own carrier camp in Z-K. As the evening goes on, local in BKG was reported to rise to 500+, including party crashers from Mostly Harmless (wait... you don't want us to buy titans from you anymore?), MM, Pure, ME, Stella Polar, Atlas, RoadKill, + everyone and his dog. Phalanx Alliance managed to "discourage" a 100man Hydra gang from joining them by the traditional method of ganking them on their way. No disrespect to Hydra FCs, but you simply do not logoffski a 100man fleet that has been aggressed. (
Ask the Russians, they know how to do it properly.)

Razor and MH split off to attack Insurgency in Z-K, at this point with 250 and multiple capital ships in fleet, from a backdoor system, in what is presumably called a pincer attack. Unfortunately when they warped to the BKG gate, they suffered the same problems as the fellas trying to jump in: Lag from grid loading. Local was at approximately 300 with 100 in our fleet. Someone commented about how BoB must've been enjoying a turkey shoot like this from defending Delve. As my luck always goes, I got instapopped in my Rokh (by warping into a bubble, cheers!), and promptly switched into my trusty crow. By this time the battle was almost over - the remnants of support chased down fleeing enemy battleships as the Coalition suffered massive losses and pulled out, after a 5 hour slug(lag)fest. I was surprised at how MM, so good at playing the lag game, fell into the trap themselves.

I didn't manage to get any good loot from the battlefield. =(

However, I did get about 40 kills this night, mostly from a bubble camp after the battle was over and when hostiles were trying to log back on, only to warp smack into the bubble. Being the killmail whore that I am, I fitted a sensor booster on my crow to send the poor sods back home more quickly. All in all, my kills far outweighed my expensive Rokh loss. One of the best gate camps I've ever been in, and I even stayed up til 2am to net some more kills at the risk of passing out at my desk at work the next day.

A glance at the star map (number of ships destroyed in the last 24 hours) showed a huge, blistering angry red pimple in Z-K, with over 480 ships destroyed that night. Ooh, perhaps some of my ships will sell faster?

I'm having the best time of my life in Eve!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Shall We Dance?

Today I’d like to share some handy tips and tricks that I have learnt on my journeys through 0.0 space. I’d like to warn the dear reader though: nothing teaches you faster about your mistakes than getting your ass ganked and podded. A fleet commander can learn all the theory he/she wants, but as a Chinese idiom goes… it’s “just talking about soldiers on a piece of paper”. Or a paper tiger, if you will. A frequent 0.0 dweller who has experienced fleet battles will understand the power of a well-executed gate dance.

Consider each stargate to be a choke point: if the enemy wishes to leave (without logoffski or cloaking) he will have to leave via the humble stargate. As such, stargates are one of the most common battlefields in Eve, as shown by the ever popular “gate camps with a campfire”. You are bound to catch someone coming in or out if it is a busy system in a pipeline – just take a look at how Morsus Mihi camps the Tribute entrance 23/7 near the black hole (Jita).

The law of the stargate is closely linked to the aggression timer. For the uninitiated, aggression timer is a 1 minute cooldown period where you cannot jump through any stargates. It is caused by the following actions:

- You aggress, i.e. shoot, at someone
- Your light or heavy dictor drops a bubble and an enemy tries to warp out of the bubble

Consider the following scenario. You see a hostile ship on your overview near a stargate. If you are:

1) solo hunting: See if the bugger jumps through the gate – if he does and you have a nanofag fast locker, jump after him and wait for him to decloak. If he doesn’t aggress, tough luck – trying to warp scram him will only make him jump through and leave a frustrated you behind. You could try bumping and webbing the poor fella, but warp to 0 makes that fairly difficult these days.

2) in a small gang without a dictor: Slightly better luck, but still a tough partner. Hopefully you have enough tacklers to camp both sides of the gate. Get an inty of some sort to jump before him into the next system, and get one of the other tacklers on the same side to “push him through”, i.e. warp scram him and make him jump. Then, get the inty to point the fella when he decloaks. Webbers are paramount in any gang for this reason.

3) in a large fleet with dictors: Win. An inevitable end for the victim if he lands on a stargate, when properly executed. Get your dictor pilot to jump through and drop a bubble on the gate. Then, get half of your fleet to jump through. Proceed as per point 2) and you will have a tasty meal, unless the bugger is in a recon or cov ops. If so, try to decloak him with drones and fast little inties when he appears on the overview.

Good luck traveler – may we dance when I see you in space?

In other news: I am so impressed by LordChaos' hax Abaddon, that I plan to finish up training Caldari Cruiser V and all the goodies that lead to the Falcon/Cerb/Onyx, then proceed to cross-train Amarr Battleships and T2 lasers. You can see his videos of pwnage here.

Friday, April 4, 2008

New Home, New Plans

Just joined the Insurgency alliance and moved to Branch within the last week or so. At the risk of sounding like a Drone Regions bumpkin, all I can say is Wow!! It’s like moving from Springfield to Chicago. You can buy stuff from people around the corner, there are specialty shops set up by master carebears (alts I say…), and you get shot by random, angry people. Local and alliance chat are always buzzing with drunken humor. The entire place is filled with highly talented FCs and pvpers. Sure, there's your share of assholes, but I'm amazed by how helpful people were (being a girl helps). Did I already mention my fantastic shopping experience? It’s an awesome feeling despite knowing only a few in the alliance thus far – maybe I’m a city gal after all!

The only problem is that I can’t fly a proper fleet BS. Fo’ shizzle. I can fit a sniper Raven with cruise launchers and T2 armor tank, and I have a 80% success rate of running away from POS fire, but I get laughed at. I’d be lucky if I could target the primaries and secondaries in time, fire off a volley, and watch as 30 seconds later the missiles hit space dust. That, and I’ve been working on my support and leadership skills, so I haven’t had time to look into buffing my main for better ships. My belief is that if you can’t fit a ship properly with T2 mods, then it’s really not worth flying them.

I foresee staying in 0.0 pvp alliances for a long time to come (just my playing style), so I’m starting training for a full T2 fit battleship. The problem is, my main is Caldari and you know the saying for Caldari pvp success rates. The only viable Caldari BS platform for pvp is the Rokh. Scorpions get primaried so fast that it’s not even funny, especially in a laggy battle. Ravens… well… I personally hate flying them for fleet ops, but that’s all I can fly properly at the moment.

The problem is that Rokhs must have been designed by a male engineer who was half-Caldari and half-Gallente. First of all, it’s actually symmetrical in shape (and phallic-shaped as usual. Gawd CCP needs to incorporate some women into their ship design team!) Secondly, it’s built on a hybrid turret weapon system. I have a decent amount of skillpoints in missile launcher systems, but my gunnery absolutely stinks. Someone tell me if I’m missing anything in my planned training tree for a sniper Rokh:

- Gunnery V
- Large Hybrid Turret V (and all prerequisites)
- Large Railgun Specialization III/IV
- Trajectory Analysis IV
- Motion Prediction IV
- Caldari Battleship IV
- Blaster specialization for later

Total training time: 90 days

It would take me a good 3 months just to train up the T2 large railguns and basic gunnery support skills. Then I’d need to train up Caldari Battleship V, which takes another month or so. I could just train the gunnery skills first and slap on T1 best named guns for the time being...

Sigh… In comparison, I could get a Rorqual in 66 days. Or a badass T2 fit Apocalypse in 130 days. That, and I wanted to train up for the Nighthawk/Falcon, which follows a completely different training path. I could pimp my main for industry and my alt as a pure pvp character, but I am greedy and want all the killmails on my main…

What to do? Choices, choices…

Edit: OMG I just got publicly flamed on Vent for flying the only raven in fleet. TWICE! x_x That's worse than flying a drake. Guess Rokh is the way to go!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Our Online Lives

My apologies to my avid readers for not updating as frequently as I’d like. Been fairly busy with RL work and friends lately.

Anyhow, I have been doing a lot of reading lately regarding the manner of online interactions, particularly in the realm of MMORPGs, as I sit at my lab bench waiting patiently for data to roll in from finicky equipment (i.e. me swearing at it and smacking its side hoping for the read-out to stop flickering). My post this time will not be directly related to my adventures in Eve - rather, it is my increasing understanding and musing about the nature of gameplay that characterizes the most infamous MMOs, such as WoW, Star War Galaxies, and Everquest.

Step back for a moment here from your game. Have you ever wondered if people truly behaved the same way online as they did in real life? The answer can range from a strong yes to a strong no, but for most people it lies somewhere in between. That said, I don’t doubt that there are a lot of stupid people who get easily scammed (Jita scams anyone?).

I have seen the worst in people that I knew, friends who used their online persona in the game to make highly defamatory and childish remarks about me – as a result, our RL friendship has been damaged beyond repair. I shall not name these acquaintances, and we had never gotten along well in real life due to personality clashes (he seems to enjoy putting me down for his own ego inflation - he has this "I-art-holier-than-thou" attitude that nobody took very well), but the mask of a computer screen seems to bring out the darkest sides in many individuals. This certain group has been griefing me about my stance on pirating, and somehow came up with a conspiracy theory that I manipulated leadership to make their lives hell.

Of course, Eve also brings out the best in some people. I have worked with maligned leaders who tirelessly worked their asses off for improving corp logistics, pvp, cohesion, funds, to the extent that they did not get sleep for 2 days in a row. In general, everyone is willing to take greater risks, make bolder statements, take on alignments (good or evil) that they would never dare to otherwise, due to the harsh consequences in our society for law-breakers. So, I can claim that our online personae are manifestations of our deeper desires and beliefs.

Eve is notorious for its scams, conspiracy, deceit. It is well-known that CCP actively does not pursue any petitions related to corp thefts or the likes, in order to encourage a more “realistic” setting. Let us examine the relation of game characters to real, breathing individuals in the world.

I have been working for almost 2 years now and have witnessed a great deal of skullduggery that goes on within the workplace, particularly in large companies and the financial industry. Managers treat employees as 'disposable assets'. Water-cooler office politics, then ass-kissing when the victim of backstabbing appears. Long hours without compensation time. Disgruntlement at management. The list goes on and on. Isn't that oh so similar to what we witness in Eve, albeit in a much more subtle and deadly form? I mean, you may have your Mothership stolen by someone you thought was trustable, or you got assassinated by a member of the Guiding Hands Social Club, or you may have been the subject of much smack in local. But can you imagine losing your source of income when you are targeted by a particularly vindictive supervisor, for example? I have seen that happen with my very own eyes - someone who had been working for 10 years got fired because his ex-boss was offended by his way of doing things. Or when a large renowned pharmaceutical firm decided to cut their operating losses by firing tens of thousands of real workers. My point is, the worst losses in Eve are nothing compared to losing your actual paycheck. Hell, without real money you can’t even play Eve!

So perhaps, our online lives are a pale reflection of what happens in reality.

People will continue playing MMORPGs. They offer much adrenaline, gratification when you kill someone or level up, and perceived social interaction. I say perceived, because most of the 'best' friends you made in Eve would not come visit you in the hospital should you get run over by a truck. As the saying goes, it's just a game. For those who live and breathe it more than they should, I understand the rush that comes from in-game accomplishments, but don’t lose your soul in them. As for myself, I will play just as people continue to watch television as a relaxing activity after a long day. Many people seem to take the game too seriously (including myself at one point - but I stopped abruptly and laughed at my silliness after reading this blog), and it is taking a toll on their real lives.

In other news: Since I won’t pay for a game that is 99% work and 1% fun, I moved to a new home with talented and eager 0.0 pvpers/FCs. It should be a nice change of scenery. I ended on a good note in my old alliance by leading an epic fight which doesn't come often in our space – I daresay that system has never seen such a blob (160+ in local) before, which explains the horrendous lag and node crashes afterwards. I am fairly proud of my achievement, as it dispelled any notion that I "comletely suck" as an FC (guess who said it), but I believe we could've fought better against that massive influx of badly fitted ships.

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