Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Day 45 : The Day of the Beast

Two things will happen by the end of play today. One, I’ll be able to fly the Mammoth class hauler. Two, I’ll reach two million skill points.

First the Mammoth. I’m going to call it The Beast. It is over a kilometre long and more importantly  It’s a jump of 5000 m3 in hauling capacity. I’d originally aimed at using it to cut travel time to and from asteroid belts during my expansion of mining. With the changes to mining barges coming on the 8th The Beast shouldn’t be needed for that. I will put it to good use before the 8th in that role before the ore and mineral markets take a temporary dive and ore hauling takes place in the barge you did it in. Afterwards The Beast will give me a decent bulk hauling capacity that may make trading decently profitable at lower margins in materials other than ore and should sustain me through any market crash that might result from mining changes to the foundations of the economy. I’m considering a system move at some point in the next few months and I’ll have a lot of stuff to haul around, The Beast will help with that.

Secondly the skill points. Two million skill points is something of a landmark, it is the first increment of skill points that you commonly see as a requirement in Corporate recruitment messages. It’s a way for corporations to verify that you have played for a set amount of time. I guess it is pretty near a month plus the initial 14 day trial so that it should indicate, boosting implants aside, that you are ready to head into further months worth of time. That you are dedicated, if not completely addicted, to EVE. I’m both of these but the results of my skill queue choices have scattered the 2 million points all over. Some of the choices would no doubt baffle any future employer. Fortunate then that for now I have my own corporation and don’t need to go applying to recruitment ads. As for the skill queue itself, I do have a plan to start refocusing my choices, whether it passes the test of time is yet to be seen. I’m moving back towards the fitting and combat skills I abandoned to shift into mining and refining. Higher fitting skills means stronger ships. Higher combat skills means a harder hitting ship. These improved ships open up rapid running of higher level missions which are my cash reserve should mining crash and my efforts at trading fail. My budding manufacturing efforts are too far away from being profitable to even plan for, and I need collateral to take advantage should the ore/mineral market hit ‘rock’ bottom. Hopefully with newbie miners in control, only ore should bottom out completely and I’ll be able to compete by buying and refining. Yeah, my understanding of economics is that bad.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Day 44 : Epic Arc

Trawling through EVE yesterday, thinking that I’d rather be somewhere else, was difficult. By the end of the day I’d had enough and decided to really get into something in EVE that I hadn’t before. Missions. It was either this or risk everything throwing myself into the teeth of low sec PVP’ers. I stopped myself at the last minute.

I decide to go and do the “epic arc” series of missions offered by the NPC organisation called the Sisters of EVE. Generally new players are pointed towards this series of missions after completing their first few days of training. The missions start with very easy tasks and comparatively high rewards. It would give a new player a lot of spending money and takes them on a tour of hi sec empire space.

It’s long enough that I continue it today, heading out in a destroyer called the ‘Constant Sorrow’  (my mood is not great), rolling through space checking out the bizarre yellow skies of Amarr space, the red lit vistas of Minmatar space and the usual black/green nebulas of Gallente space. There isn’t much Caldari space in the series, just a short segment in the border with Gallente space which is very familiar to me since I’ve been trading and mining there since about day 3.

I won’t give much away about the storyline in case someone reading hasn’t done it. A few tips won’t go amiss though. I discovered I had a lot of benefits from having played other games, and from being paranoid

1. At some point you’ll have to fight a hive of drones. There will be two obvious groups. Tempt them out one at a time and kite them to range and destroy them before they swarm you. Some of them will be packing webbing so make sure your afterburner is ready to maintain range for long enough to shoot back.

2. Near the end of the chain you’ll be asked to go hunt down someone called Kristan (or something like that). This was the first time I had to warp out, repair and go back. You’ll need to deal with an energy vampire weapon but if you get the tactics right it isn’t enough to warrant a specific fitting.

3. When you get to the end of the chain, killing some bad dude called Dagan, you are going to be shocked by his shield tank. It’s good. You may need some help. Don’t be afraid to ask around for it, the local system is full up with people that will help. As ever, it is EVE so be wary. I managed to down the guy solo in the Constant Sorrow. I did have a month worth of extra skills to dedicate to the task, even though I’ve gone the mining route,  than a new player might not. I could pour out 150 DPS at range. If you don’t like getting outside help then either fit your boat out as a blaster boat and get in under his range. With either short range or long range weapons consider using a web on him. Don’t be afraid to wipe out his bodyguards, warp and repair, then come back and kick ass.

You’ll earn at least 12-14 million over the entire arc as long as you don’t lose a ship, I took a Salvager and with no ship loss ended up at around 19 million profit. Slower than mining but a hell of a lot more entertaining.

The ‘Constant Sorrow’ - a rail fit Catalyst newbie PVE gun platform.

7x 125mm Compressed Coil Gun ( Antimatter ammo )
1x Salvager ( pack a mining laser too just in case a storyline mission crops up )

1x Experimental 1MN Afterburner
1x whatever you fancy. I fit a battery which came in handy a couple of times. I swapped this out for a Webifier a couple of times. I like slow targets. You’ll need to swap it out for a piece of equipment you are given at one point anyway.

1x Micro Auxiliary Power Unit
1x Small Inefficient Armour Repairer ( or better Meta level one if handy )
1x Damage Control I

I also had a Rig to boost hybrid weapon damage at the expense of rate of fire. I’d chained all my guns and the volley was taking down a lot of enemies in one shot.

I took along anything I thought I’d need - like a web and a Magnetic Stabilizer. I was lucky when a mining laser dropped but think ahead. Don’t waste cash by buying on the local market which is geared around people doing these quests. Haul your shit with you and leave it at the station if you are not using it on the current mission.

In conclusion : very enjoyable, if a little bit of a haul at times. There is one 23 jump trip at one point but that’s the worst by far . You do get to see the sights though. I didn’t think EVE had this level of PVE content to be honest, it was very enjoyable. Do it now if you have a spare day or so, the hardcore among you could run it all in less than 6-8 hours.

NOTE: once I finally finished and headed back to my usual base, I felt like I was coming home. Weird but true. I’d been away touring Empire space for over 24 hours and I was back in my usual system. Even so, how the hell have I become tied to an apparently anonymous place in space? I need to reach out some more.

Day 43 : For Whom The Bell Tolls

Actually it is wedding bells and thankfully they don’t toll for me but for my cousin. Wholehearted congratulations, but rather you than me. However, as it turns out I am still too ill to go. I couldn’t even survive the train journey in this state. Another day on bread and water when in fact I should be boozing it up and generally having a good old time at a wedding. F**k. I could spend all day watching the Olympics but the thought of watching super healthy people is sickening.

I’ll hide in EVE but by hearts not in it. I don’t want to be here. I want to be off doing something else, I’m just forced to be here. That takes all the enjoyment out of it. Even spending loads of dosh on new skills and learning them to level 1 doesn’t help, and that sense of progression usually makes me smile.

On the bright side, it looks like I’m not clinically addicted to EVE. Remember the kids TV show “Why Don’t You?” (UK readers only). I want to go outside and do something less boring instead.


Day 42 : Droning on about Drones

I’m powering towards drone skill 5 when I am not interrupting the queue with stuff like the skills to fly huge transports. I’ve bought a Mammoth, thinking I was only only skill level away. In fact I’m two skill levels away so won’t get to fly it for three days instead of a few hours. I must pay more attention when playing EVE. All the great mistakes I’ve made are usually due to lack of attention brought on by booze, knackeredness (4 hours sleep in the last 2 days - woo!), illness, or my crap short term memory.

Drones at level 5 will bring the ability to learn another skill that lets me install a Drone control unit adding one more controllable drone to my swarm. I have a quick look at this. It is a massively expensive skill, and even more expensive is the add on it allows you to control. The blueprint is cheaper - I’ll run the calcs and make my own.

Hang on tho - it takes up a high power slot on the ship. Where would I use it? Not on a mining ship where the high slots are filled with miners. Not on a transport ship with no drone bay. The only place is on a dedicated drone boat. The Vexor is suited to such tasks but couldn’t even power it. Given the price of the unit I can’t afford to lose one in combat just yet. Having more than 5 drones will have to go on the back burner and I’ll line up the other skills that have opened up to me to increase the efficacy of the existing 5.

Word about mining drones and their lack of use: space for combat drones, travel time vs yield, always get attacked first by rats. I can optimise my drone use, particularly now they will be doing more damage. I can take one mining drone out and add it to the mining yield. See how it goes. If my advanced drone skills make rapid killers out of the combat scout drones then I can swap more out. It actually might start to make a difference to yield.

I tend not to use mining drones. I always have combat drones orbiting the ship waiting for the arrival of rats. This isn’t optimal mining but rats inevitably gun down mining drones if I don’t pay attention, which I frequently don’t. I could go into the figures and literally drone on about travel times to and from the rock but this post is incredibly boring enough as it is.

I find out today that everything to do with mining is changing anyway. I read this


via Mabrick, http://mabricksmumblings.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/barge-changes-now-on-sisi.html

who gets it from http://www.sobaseki.com/wordpress/

What effect will this have on me? Well - I’ll be able to stop using cans from the Retriever. You’ll see less of those chains of cans spread throughout a rock belt. The ore bays will make them obsolete, at least in the short term.

What effect on mining in general? I’m too inexperienced to give an accurate assessment but I think in the long term we can expect a crash in ore and mineral prices since it will be so much easier to mine. We’ll see a lot more AFK miners initially. The tank (effectively the amount of damage it can take) on the miners will make low sec mining viable for the solo player. Even the earliest mining barge, the Procurer, is now a decent ship and will get people out there quicker. Again the developers lean towards tempting us all out to low sec space. On the other hand there is the matter of Hulkageddon, the ongoing war against the hugest of mining ships. The tank will make this harder, and the specialised role of the Hulk will mean it will be seen less. What will the Hulkageddon organisers do? They won’t give up, they don’t sound like the type. They’ll develop new strategies for taking down these tough new miners, and possibly extend their choice of targets. It could suddenly become dangerous to be a miner and that might stabilise the ore and mineral prices. A self regulating system. EVE is that complex. Of course I’ve only been playing 44 days. Anything could happen. I need to make sure my income isn’t dependant on mining just in case.

Some other random stuff : an EVE noob advice thread I should have read before


I particularly like the “do one thing every day that scares you” and the advice to go to low sec and take risks. I need to get back into that sense of adventure. I’ve become too attached to my implants but if they go up in smoke my skill queue will slow down. Sod the skill queue.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Day 41 : Fleet Action

Just too damn ill to care today (this happens to me all the time - its a long and grim story). Day working from home but obviously I can’t AFK mine due to “space morals” and I’d have to pay attention to the Retriever too much. I can get work done instead which doesn’t make me feel like a lazy slacker. I can stay in chat however and occasionally check up on how the new crew are doing. Nothing much happens all day apart from me having a fight with some code I wrote that I am in too much pain to actually understand what the hell I wrote it like that for. The evening is a different matter. Painkillers and hot water bottles later (yes in this heat I did use a hot water bottle) :

1. My Refining Efficiency skills are good enough so that now it’s just the local tax based on my reputation that distracts from perfect refining. I've been getting ready for the rep' grind using mission running skills and yet I’ll find any opportunity I can to avoid them. Screw missions. If I wanted to "quest" I’d be back playing Warcraft.

2. Everybody is online at the same time tonight, all 4 of us doing our own thing chatting away, sharing mining tips. This is what I formed a corp' for, well this and the tax thing. It’s good to have everyone bantering away, swapping tactics and views. It is odd to be the stats guy, and the knowledge guy, usually I’m behind the curve when I play games.

3. I’m mining and chatting to one of my corp' mates when a large ship ambles into the belt. I pay attention. Its large, but small enough to be a suicide ganker if correctly fitted. I’m aligned to the station I need to run to so all I have to do is press D and, barring warp scrambles, I’m probably safe. I keep an eye on the range and yet all the guy does is wander round scavenging my wrecks. This releases any cargo that those wrecks may have had in them and yet doesn’t seem to flag him as an enemy. I watch on, bemused, as he clears the belt of wrecks. Generally I abandon them on my way out anyway, I’m considerate to salvagers because I’ve been there myself. I’ve never seen someone coolly and casually loot under the nose of someone who made the wrecks. It’s good to watch to be honest, I admire his courage.

4. I’m running two mining loads to market and the hauler is only just handling it. I need a bigger boat! I decide to go for the next Minmatar ship, the Mammoth. It’s over a kilometer long and, let’s face it, I really just want to fly a new ship.

5. While I’m down in highly populated, highest of the high sec space I hear that my corp mate has been can flipped. I start compiling an answer.  An Incursus attack ship is nearly made, only minutes away. I have guns, I have ammo. I have none of the other things I need. I will in future keep a PVP based ship on station. If anyone cries out, any noob, and I’m there, I am going to fleet up and help them. In the end I fly out to my corp’ mate and loiter while he mines. It’s perfect because I get to apply fleet mining bonuses for the first time. Even though I’m hanging there doing nothing, his mining is faster. I’m not proud about how I badger and generally growl at a newbie pilot who comes into the belt to mine. I’ve become too paranoid. I’m looking for a fight. Time to go home.

6. Back in the home system, chilling out and grinding some rock. There is another miner here and Rob reckons he is a bot. After Rob pokes him a bit with a battlecruiser I'm inclined to agree. The miner simply goes about his business. Either he is the coolest customer ever, or he is a bot. A bot is an automated player run by someone grinding out money in the game to sell on to other players outside it. They skew the economy and generally make things difficult for everyone else. There is a bit of chat in Local about it which Rob ignores and can flips the miner, dropping the loot as a free for all so he can claim it back. The miner ignores it. Bot. Soon after he this he warps out of system as the belt becomes crowded with us all having a look. Now I have to go look up on how to deal with bots. This is my system and no gold farming idiot is going to mess it up. It’s odd how it has become home. This is where I try to make it back to at the end of the day. This is where I’d rather be mining, despite some possibilities of greater rocks down in the neighbouring 0.5 system. Home. In space in a game? Weird.

Friday, 27 July 2012

Day 40 : Too Hot For Running To Plan

It's boiling out there. Everything has slowed down, so today a shorter post. If I keep on with the journal at this rate then short posts might become the norm. I'll try and make it to two months at least.

Last night I bumped my Connections skill. This enables me to jump to level 2 missions and soon to level 3 ones. That gives me time figure out how to chain them together to make money rather than doing one way trips all the time. I promptly don’t do this. It’s way too warm here and I have way too much to catch up on. Mining in the Diceman is a better way to spend my time when I am hacking in blog posts, trying to find niche markets and wondering if the Exequror cruiser would make a good blockade runner for high value materials out of low sec. Lets face it really I just want to fly a new ship. I’ve gone as far as to log my other character stationed in Jita to check out the sell prices there.

I’ve placed my second buy order. The first was an experiment and I forgot about it and refined the delivered ore without noticing.  What I actually wanted to do was compare my spreadsheet figures to a real buy order. I’ve posted the new one at a less optimal place but it should still be profit generating if it works. I think of it as an experiment but really it is a way to gain confidence in my calculations. Should it pay off, the collateral can go to work. The big problem is that I have no real idea how fast the market moves in this ore, in this place. I’ve undercut the local trade hubs but that means I’m reliant on someone who wants to sell right now, rather than ship ore a few jumps down. Trading on others laziness might work but I need a new strategy.

I heard today that the next Warcraft expansion release date has been set at the 25th September. Thats two months from today. Right now I don’t think I’ll be going back. I’m too intrigued by EVE at the moment and it just gets better and better. Maybe by September I’ll have skill queues so long and revenue streams strong enough, to allow me to have a few days off taking a look at it. That’s probably overly optimistic.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Day 39 : And Then There Were Four

Tatooine Sand Reclamation has grown! There are now four of us with the addition of a fellow miner and explorer I’ve met in my home system. Four people doing a tax dodge while learning the basics so that they can get out there and (l)earn more.

Various conversations I have today in the new corp indicate that we might be back to three or even two at some point in the next few days and weeks. The EVE experience has started to pale for my friends. I can understand this, it isn’t for everyone and to some the start can seem a like a bit of a grind. I didn’t notice any of that because I’d thrown myself headlong into figuring out what was going on. I then began making my own way through the game without the mission system, making my own story up as I went along.

The mission system is okay. It feels a bit spartan compared to other MMOs but it follows the same path. Go here and get this, kill all these angry dudes, come back and get reputation points and cash. Combat in low level missions can seem a little repetitive and the options for control of the ships can feel limited after playing other MMOs . This feeling faded quickly for me. In part I got used to ship control and felt I was getting enough out of it once I had the spacial awareness to recognise the advantages of moving where I wanted, and optimising my attack runs for the weapons I was carrying. It is more of a tactical and strategy approach compared to the personal  control of character provided by Warcraft and its clones. Once I'd been through a final mission in a series and had to really make some decisions about targets it was better. Yes, I am going to destroy cruise missile batteries before thinking about doing anything else.

In order to try looking at missions a bit more I’ve boosted my Connections skill which will allow me to instantly get the reputation to do level 2 missions. I took up a few Distribution missions to try and gauge the difficulty of the easiest type of mission. They were very easy and yet had very low return unless there was a mission going the same way or one on the return trip. On the up side I did end up hauling cows at one point which made me feel a little like Malcolm Reynolds in Firefly. Bonus!

I'm lagging behind on the blogging and hammering in these posts in the tiny amounts of free time I have between work and researching EVE, hence the lack of proof reading, grammar and any form of structure. Cheers to Steel for doing some proof reading! Anybody else, just let me know and I'll fix it. 

At some point I'll have to consider stopping blogging day by day but at the moment I feel like the journal format might have some benefit to other new players, should they discover it. At least they might feel less like a total Space Noob.

Day 38: Open for Business

Open by mining, close by mining. You know the score by now. It’s Monday. It’s been very hot. Who has the brain power to do anything else?

Actually I spend most of the time browsing the market trying to think my way into it. If I can visualise what the hell is going on, then I might be able to make not only my own trade routes but my own trade network. Currently I’m trying to understand some odd spiking in mineral prices while taking advantage of it. Reading that back to myself doesn’t make EVE sound like a game at all.

While I’m doing this I spend the time chatting to two friends I mentioned in an earlier post. This is more entertaining than spending all the time in the FNA basic corporation because the level of chat in there occasionally descends to “Barrens Chat” levels. And I haven’t forgiven them the tax rate either.

Both these facts make me wonder why I’m not in a Corporation, chatting with like minded pilots and paying tax towards something instead of into the EVE version of a gold sink. Actually the tax rate is another little shove by the game manufacturers at getting us all to branch out on our own, further out from high security starter areas of space. I could even start my own corporation quite easily and cover all the above quite easily. All it takes is one skill point and 1.5 million credits.

That’s how the corporation “Tatooine Sand Reclamation” is formed. It was nearly called “P. I. Staker Industries”. We’ve a lot of raw material and not much else. We’ve all played the latest online Star Wars game recently. Tax rate of zero and without even corporate hangars or an office. We are starting small.

Another reason for starting small is the amount of new stuff I have to learn about managing the thing. I seem to be constantly learning stuff in this game. Not for the first time, and probably not for the last, I am reminded of the learning queue of EVE when compared with other games:

It’ll take me a while to get it all figured out around my other commitments and interests (not real life ones, I’ll kick those aside) but I’ll get there. In the event of a declaration of war against it we can just break down the corporation and run for it. Till then, death to taxes!

Day 37 : Here Comes The Sun

I’ve mentioned before about the summer weather in Britain this year. Any and all moisture in the northern hemisphere has been over here shopping for trouble. Not so for today and the following week apparently. I’m getting out and about, off to see an old friend for a catch up and Sunday lunch in the pub. This doesn’t prevent the “morning mine” which is the tactic I increasingly use to wake up.

Being asleep while sitting up and playing EVE isn’t good. It makes me lazy so I habitually jet can mine when in fact I should have secure anchored cans in my normal mining locations. I’ve noticed Sunday mornings seem to be a favourite time of PVP roamers. I notice it this morning because one gets me in a drive by can flipping exercise. He’s flying a Jaguar so it’s really an invite to a fight I can’t win. I say goodbye to half an hours rock work and accept the richly deserved mocking for having jet canned in the first place. Half an hour later there is a string of secure cans anchored across the belt. It means I have to pay even more attention when mining. I feel oddly happy at this. It was becoming a boring routine of cash generation.

Even with being can flipped I’m feeling almost wealthy. I’m feeling good when I leave the house and spend the afternoon chilling out in a beer garden with a friend out in the countryside. Well, as near to the countryside as you can get using the Central Line.

Feeling secure about my EVE bank balance? Out drinking in the sunshine all day long? Get home feeling cocky? Oh look, I now own a new expensive ship.

Its not that bad. The new ship, a type of cruiser of the Thorax class, is very good looking and unlike my first cruiser, the Vexor class drone boat, it is a dedicated gun boat. I’ve a plan to take it and finally run some missions. Since I’m feeling a bit wobbly I’ll take it easy and run some level 1 distribution threads. It turns out there is a little more combat in one of them than I expect. It turns out that a rail gun fit Thorax with drones laughs at level 1 missions, no matter the amount of attackers contained in the encounter. It’s funny to pick them off one by one at 20km ranges.

Running missions could start to be profitable in this new ship. It will build reputation with the various local factions that offer missions. That will help kickstart my plans for Research in future. The reputation will also allow me to do higher level missions for lots more cash and I can’t see much under level 4 stopping the new ship.

Emboldened by this success and a few additional beers along the way, I buy another new ship that I actually have no use for, and can’t remember why I wanted. Ridiculous drunken spending gaffes. I’m the shopping version of the Mittani. Once I figure out what this ship is used for and what I can use it for, then I’ll write about it. I’ll have to do some reading up on it. There’s a surprise.

Day 36 : The Taxman Cometh

It’s a Saturday and it has been a long week. I’m going to sit here and win at Internet Spaceships 101. The cricket will be on the radio and I shall only move to procure alcohol or at the whim of basic bodily functions. Most of the latter being brought on later by too much of the former.

I start out by mining. Mining has two purposes. Firstly it provides an easy source of income. Secondly it is possible to educate yourself and research stuff while doing it. Having developed some kind of sense of “space morals” I no longer AFK mine. I don’t do real life stuff while mining, I research EVE based stuff. Skills and the skill queue debate, trade possibilities, things I haven’t looked into yet like Corporation management or Planetary Interaction, advanced mining techniques, fittings, scanning tips. The list goes on. I tend to include blogs and blogging in this list but it is a bit too hit and miss with the mining lasers needing watching every three minutes.

As  a source of income mining fills several purposes. I’m still so new that earning cash seems like a bit of a score. Yey! I have more internet points! It also provides me with a buffer against knockbacks. Should someone decide to suicide gank my mining ship for a laugh I’ll need at least ten million credits to safely buy a new one, replace the whole fitting and re-insure. Insurance won’t cover the fittings and I have a fear of being ganked back to day one. The cash is also intended to be a source of collateral. My pool of trading cash. Since I haven’t got trading off the ground yet this pool of cash is doing nothing.

After an hour mining, refining and running to market I decide to investigate trading a little more. I start investigating EVE Central (http://eve-central.com/home/), after reading http://wiki.eveuniversity.org/Using_EVE-Central_to_haul_profitably

EVE central is a site which works out trade routes and provides pricing information based on what EVE players upload via their cache file scanning application. Presumably this means nefarious users can poison data in EVE Central to their benefit. I don’t know if they do or not, it is just that paranoia is a healthy lifestyle in EVE. In addition to the threat of scams there is also the chance that the data may be out of date and just plain wrong. I may be heading across space to fill an order that was completed hours ago. Despite these drawbacks it is a fine tool. It is clever at planning routes and doing the math, saving me from making my third EVE based spreadsheet.

Remarkably it seems like my best bet as a starting trader are low priced commodities that appear to have little impact on the game. Who, for example, is using Frozen Foods? Can they be swapped in for ammo when you are in a pinch? That would see the gankers off, a cannon launched barrage of frozen chickens smashing up the shields of their Tier II tear harvesting monster ship.

Do do a few of these runs, shipping odd things like Carbon, Frozen Foods, Frozen seeds, and even Garbage and Tobacco. The returns aren’t great. Either I am doing it wrong or trading is harder than mining.

I’ve avoided the mining connection when trading until I realise that once again the volume of the goods is one of the most important factors in success. Minerals are small. I’ve been selling them and now I’m buying them. I make one run, carting a load across a fair distance in my slow hauler. I think I’ll make around 550-600K on this. I make something nearer 500K with a quick scan of my balance. Why? Broker fees at around 0.9%, Sales Tax at around 1.5% where has it gone? Somehow I’ve overlooked a whopping great 10% Corporation Tax on some earlier bounties and a mission or two. I need to have a look at this. I need to make sure it isn’t applied to trade. I mean, Corporation Tax! What is this? Real life? It’s not even a real corporation! The Federal Naval Academy is the default corporation for any new Gallente pilot. In EVE everyone is in a corporation. Some are run by the game (the naval academy, a news and media conglomerate) which provide flavour text, and some by other players. The default tax rate for the game corporations is, I think, 11% without skilling into reducing it.

Thinking time is needed and it is getting quite late. I go for my usual wander around, making sure I pass through a few low sec systems. Making sure I’m hardened to surprises from them and resistant to such surprises in future. Right now they seem less threatening than a huge tax bill.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Day 35: Knock and Run

I nearly bailed on EVE for the entire weekend.

Two things stop me. One, while the Raspberry Pi arrived and this normally would be the thing to make me bail and go nerdy all weekend in a different way I had completely forgotten it was arriving and so haven’t done a thing about getting all the doodads I need to run it. Somewhere there is a shopping list I’ve neglected. Two, when returning home from the pub last night I did something daft.

I got home and realised I was too knackered to do anything much but felt like a fly around for ten minutes or so. I flew to null sec. For a laugh. Idiot.

As I arrived in the minus 0.4 security system I knew I’d made a mistake. There were four giant floating bubbles indicating where someone had set up warp disruption fields designed to catch anything coming through the gate and stopping it from warping away. The area was crowded with drones. There was one ship on the overview, a Thorax, and from the amount of drones I am guessing more were either nearby in system or right there with cloaking devices on.

Fortunately I arrived in Slider, an Atron I’d kitted out simply for speeding through areas. I think this cheap tiny ship didn’t tempt the gate camping crew, or they were bemused by it, or they were too busy laughing. I dodged the bubbles and went on a tour of the system, praying that this wasn’t annoying the hell out of the locals.

Knackered as I was I didn’t pay much attention. I clocked some rats with even larger bounties than any I’d seen so far and thought that I had better head back. How to avoid the gate camp though. Simple. Don’t

I warped to the gate within about 20K. Nothing happened. With a sense of adventure and discovery I decided I’d try and warp to the gate THROUGH one of the warp bubbles. It slowed me down but the Atron is nippy and was through in a few seconds. Nothing was happening. No one was shooting. The locals hadn’t come to gun me down for running through their manor, making noise, leaving contrails, and generally poking my nose it where it probably wasn’t wanted. What a cool bunch of dudes. I think actually I was like a fly not worth swatting. I bet their ammo would be more expensive than this ship. Shooting me would be an economic loss. It’s my Atrons greatest defence. I might go say hi this weekend and see what they have got to say. Chewing the fat on the border of null sec. Prepared for a ship loss, it sounds like part of a fun plan for the weekend.

There are other plans to be made. The morning mining run was made 2% more effective by flogging Tritanium en route, in Caldari space, and by running Carbon in bulk back the other way to avoid travelling with an empty hold. Normally I’d have ships or gear to shift but I’ve been lazy recently.

So, plans for the weekend include saying hello to some interesting neighbours, more angst about making cash too slowly, more angst about joining a corp before making one - to get the experience. Yet more ratting and mining. Watching the skill queue grind through the current day backlog and pondering the stat remap to make it go faster.

EVE Track Of The Day

Going Up The Country - The Kitty, Daisy and Lewis version rather than the original Canned Heat one.

Day 34 : Out of Office

Woken up by sunshine at 5am  would normally be a bad thing, especially if I thought I was going to sleep through and avoid the usual insomniacs checks and balances. This morning it is almost welcome. The UK is currently avoiding summer by the employing the neat tactic of throwing half the north Atlantic out of the sky at every available opportunity. Seeing sunshine is good. It’s a boost. Which I promptly waste by going out mining.

I know, I know. I should have found a better way of accumulating loot by now. Give me a break, I can’t even focus on the skill queue for more than five minutes without changing it. In fact mining gives me the opportunity to peruse the skill queue and its measuring system the Certifications.

Currently while mining I have to be prepared to move ore around at least once per three minutes. I can’t not focus on the game. Fortunately the game provides more than enough information on things I need to look into. It also has a built in web browser so that I don’t even have to ALT+TAB out of the game.

The Certification system is a way of measuring what kind of talents your skills are providing, above and beyond the simple facts of making money or being able to squeeze that last power hungry item into your latest ship fitting. For example there might be a Certificate for being a Drunken Space Noob and obtaining that would involve learning the skills Drinking V and Skill Queue Muppet IV. You can post these to your in game Bio’ but I’m not going to. I don’t want anyone, particularly an opponent, reading them and getting an advantage from it.

I’m not gaining many Certifications. I’m way too much of a dilettante. I need to plan and focus and get over the fact that a day without an announcement of a new skill level learning is a waste. I have a pathetic need to see that progress even if it is the result of the least optimal way to do things. I explain this away by describing myself as “interested in everything”. In fact I am interested in cash, and how this is going to help me fly more things better, and how they are going to reduce can flippers to molten hot wrecks.

I do some planning of the skill queue and make a few notes. I then totally invalidate it by deciding to make cash and by the skill used to operate cloaking devices and learn that. Some things never change. I had better do some planning this evening after work and sort it out.

What I actually do after a bitch of a day at work is go down the pub, feel even more knackered than normal, come home, write this and completely bail on EVE. I need to sit back, relax, not think about skill queues.  I could spend some time wondering where all the women I used to know have gone, or I could just watch the telly which feels way way more constructive because I channel hop less than I skill hop.

I really will have a plan I can tell you about at the weekend. Really. No, honest. Looking at the weather though, it’s going to be sunny out.....

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Day 33 : A Refined Error

Morning, knackered as usual, suffering from ailments as usual, and thanks to EVE not giving a damn about them. I'm pottering around. I've noticed this habit creeping in. All of a sudden I'll find myself having spent the last hour doing things with no sense of direction. First I'll start looking up guns and pondering the relative merits of cost vs the minor improvements that the "meta" classes of the guns bring. Then I'll go out mining for a bit. Then I'll fly around aimlessly for a couple of minutes. It's all about as aimless as my skill queue planning which tends towards whatever I'm enthused by on the day.

 When my pottering brings me to this skill plan I discover I've made a small error. I'm biting the bullet and learning Refining to level 5. The benefit this brings over level 4 Refining is minor but allows me to specialise a bit and learn other skills to reduce waste during the refining process. The bullet biting is the 4 day wait it takes to learn. All the other specialisation skills give minor improvements but when you are dealing with your major source of income it soon stacks up. Except I've just discovered I can learn these refining specialisations now, with Refining level 4 being the only prerequisite. These are bought and, as per usual with my dysfunctional approach to planning, pumped into the top of the skill training queue. I must learn to pay attention. I must get a proper plan.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Day 32 : Evil Influence

Two friends decide to join EVE to see what the fuss (or 31 days blogging) is about. I've just started chatting to one when the other logs in. G and Mince are old pals from Warcraft. It has yet to be seen whether they stick. One suddenly has loads of time on his hands and the other is on a mission to play every MMO under the sun.

 At the time they logged on I was faffing around planning ship construction. I no longer think the destroyer is going to be a valid PVP ship in any way, shape or form but I love flying the damn things. They'll be useful in future when I start running missions for reputation to get Research projects started. I think. My reading hasn't taken me much beyond figuring out I need to run missions and I have my own projects on the go.

 The arrival of my friends and the realisation about the destroyer in PVP prompts me to buy a blueprint for the Gallente combat frigate, the Incursus. With a bit of mining I should be able to produce them not only for myself but gift my pals a little run around combat ship. I need to get to a 'roid belt but it's been a long long day. I've also spent up today buying stuff all over the place so I need to make some money. At least I've done some reading on trading and hauling and I think I have a plan to do some of that. I can autopilot my initial loads - they won't be worth suicide ganking. If I do get ganked, then that was going to happen anyway. I don't know why but I find trading morally superior to AFK mining which I've swore not to do again.

 The Catalyst. The destroyer class ship model I love. I feel like I'm flying a WWII bomber. Technically an anti frigate platform, but in my case a loot pinata for low sec PVPers. I'll get over that one day. I will. Honest. One of these days I'll be able to fit out these with Tier 2 guns and go through frigate flying PVPers faster than bad fruit through a short grandmother.

 Till then - the rocks beckon. A man has to make collateral, especially if he is spending it as soon as he gets his hands on it.

EVE Track of the Day

Black Hole Sun - Soundgarden

Monday, 16 July 2012

Day 31 : The Last Day, The Somewhat Epic Summary

The last day of my first month in EVE, but not the end of my EVE experience I think. It's been more than good, it's been an education and a revelation. My oft spouted pub dream of an alternate world is right here. People are making it and doing their own thing.

 Sure, it's in space, it's easy, or easier, to provide the surroundings. No one is going to let John Carmack near a super computer and he wouldn't be using it for what I suggested if they did. I'd suggest taking the most high resolution scans of the Earth available, wiping out signs of civilisation from them ( or not if, like me, your tastes run to post apocalyptica ), building a basic engine to allow people to learn, build, fight, and what have you, and then dropping the players in at the start. You could spice it up by adding magic rules. Each server could have it's own flavour - some with magic, some without, some with infrastructure left in, some with nothing. I'd like to see the members of the Warcraft Barrens chat brigade dropped in there first. They'd still be in caves wearing skins when I arrived. Where would these caves come from though? Are there any scans of the earth that reveal caves? I bet there are. Not on satellites we are supposed to know about though. Anyway, there is my fantasy.

Until then there is the sandbox of EVE. To those who might read this and not grasp the concept I'd say this:

"I've played a month and haven't done a mission provided by an NPC since day three"

I've been too busy constructing my own narrative in the world provided to me. I even know that I haven't even scratched the surface. I'm just building a base from which to go out and find out about the rest of it. Sure, I can easily realise that the particular flavour of this isn't to every ones taste. It is to mine. Do the trial. If you don't like it then leave and say "not for me". For gods sake don't leave and do the MMO forum whinger classic of saying it's crap just because you don't like it. Frankly it's amazing, even though I doubt my ability to continue indefinitely. I think it might be too much of a brain drain for me. I could easily lose myself in here for years.

 What would I be doing in two or three years time? Political machinations down in null sec, making war like an idiot as a mercenary for hire, a blockade running trader with a reputation, a trade trillionaire, or maybe just still a lone wolf with a private fund, watching over other noobs and protecting them as they venture out and run into what Mord Fiddle eloquently calls the "small gang PvP elite who ply the lowsec roads to nullsec" ( http://fiddlersedge.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/fiddlers-war.html ). I like the story described by the latter but it'd be a hard road in EVE. Whatever I choose, I might even still be blogging it all.

 So what beckons in month two, and what have I achieved? Well my plans involve  the following stuff.

  • Upping Refining skills and making money from mining rather than grinding it.
  • Investigating Hauling as a career.
  • Investigating manufacture of ships as a career, or at least making a start on it.
  • Investigation of trade as a career.
  • Improving my PVP skills. 
  • Pushing through low sec and going for a nose around null sec.
  • Beginning to help other noobs as and when I see them for more noobish than I. I might leave this till month six.
  • Enjoying life in the home system I've chosen until such time as I need to move on.
  • Wealth. Yes it's a shame but it is still a score of sorts.
  • Flying different ships. I want to be able to fly everything. This is going to take years but all the above will probably turn out to be a way to fund both this and the visceral thrill of combat
  • Create a corporation of my own. Preferably after joining a pre-existing corp' out there. It would be great to connect to with a bunch of like minded, experienced players but I do like the element of learning by myself with all the trial, error and massive setbacks that it entails.
  • Investigate the web API and the assorted available resources to build my own tools. Yes there are equivalents out there to the things I might build but the enjoyment comes from building my own. When I first found out they had such resources I muttered to myself "it has a web API" in much the same tone as Sean Bean delivered the line "they have a cave troll".
  • Exploration.

What have I achieved?

  • A full months worth of sheer entertainment for a tenner and being forced to employ my intellect to do so. 
  • Finally writing a blog, at least it is some form of writing visible to others. Shame about the spelling, grammar and construction. Some externalisation of thought that doesn't involve me spouting random witticisms down the pub.
  • 50 million in the bank ( not counting the 50 million I was sent and refuse to employ)
  • A horde of different ships and various resources scattered from high to low sec systems.
  • Adventure.
  • Excitement.
  • I guess I'm not a Jedi after all.

What now for the last day of the month? The 31st day? Well, it's a Monday. I might take a well earned break and watch some telly, sure in the knowledge that my planned skills are ticking over in Internet land. I can do that. In EVE you make your own story. Maybe I'll just log in and chat to the ever more familiar faces in the home system. Just for a bit. Maybe.

A few quick shout outs to those who helped along the way.

Alec - ever since he did the trial years ago it's been on my mind and then the video of Burn Jita broke said mind.

G. - For discussing it and trying it even though you hated it and generally being my MMO foil and pal. To the podcast cave Batman!

Robbo, Krill and the Captain - for being around and reminding me that EVE is not all adversarial, and there are others like me out there. Maybe less noobish, but fine chaps nonetheless.

Beth - for giving me the encouragement to write it down, and for reading it when I did, even though half of it must be incomprehensible.

Mabrick  and Mord Fiddle  for telling it like it is and introducing me, with the unknowing or unwilling help of The Mittani , to an epic, player made, story arc. Not an artificial story, not a product of imagination, but a chain of real events that created an enjoyable narrative. I salute all three.

My cousin Andrew who sent me all that cash I didn't need. It's the thought that counts and I might have needed it. Might still need it.

Finally, anyone else who I raved on at about this game during the last month, anyone who dragged me away for the computer for some real time. Thanks for the patience. I'll shut up now. DISCLAIMER: I will probably not shut up now.

Day 30 : The Return to Low Sec

How to get back in the mindset of not hiding in 0.9 space? I need to get back to my preferred home system and staging post for low sec. In 0.6 I have to deal with rats but I can handle them using drone ships. Why am I mining here in boring 0.9 space. I'm a little bruised and battered but I came up with a plan.

First of all I move stuff around, reactivating my old Caldari space mining expedition that I used to use to get minerals unavailable to me in Gallente space. This will take time to perfect but it's part of the plan. I'll get this up and running properly over the next few days. I don't need much so I won't be there for extended periods of time.

I then spend about 20% of my current cash on a blueprint for the type of Destroyer I was flying into low sec. It's possibly the wrong choice of ship for PVP but as a killer of large rats it has the fire power to do the job in the time available. It'll cost me more to build myself in minerals than it would to actually buy a pre-made one by some better industrialist. Not by much, but it is on my mind. So why? Well, I can take a cut from my mining and refining which will only get better and deposit that in a station with free assembly lines, then whenever I go there and the stock is up enough I can build a new destroyer. That way whenever I get ganked in low sec I already have a replacement ship waiting and the insurance on the last ship just goes to equip it. I can work ahead of this pattern and have pre-made ships ready to go. This will cut out the delay between me getting back into low sec, and will cut down on the sense of loss. I'm starting a production line in  supporting myself getting ganked continuously. Why this idiotic decision? I'm learning from every time I go there, both in the art of low sec behaviour, more experience of PVP, more experience adapting to the loss of ships, and finding more out about the game by rummaging through the assorted random loot that low sec rats leave behind when I finish them off. I've already upped by cargo haulers capacity to heights I'd not thought possible by fitting cargo bay extenders I looted of dead rats.

Once all this is done, I move my main mining ship back to it's old location and do a little mining to cover the costs of setting up all the stuff above. With my refining skills starting to give decent results I can ship minerals around instead of bulk ore. With the hauler now able to move a serious amount I don't have to spend much time running around. I watch some TV while I mine, keeping half an eye on the overview and cargo bays. occasionally laughing at rats trying to deal with my swarm of drones. It's good to be back.

It doesn't take long at all to cover the investment I put in, so I have to use it. I head back to low sec in a new Destroyer. It's oddly quiet and I make quite a lot of cash. I'm finding I can reprocess half the junk the rats drop and get minerals, some of which I couldn't mine myself yet. It's another form of mining! Only with guns. It all goes back into the production line of gankery that I've set up. It's starting to fulfil itself. Some months in future I might even be able to make a business out of it.

Another Destroyer appears when I'm halfway through a fight. I stay calm, ignore the rat and activate the warp to a pre-prepared safe point. I'm out, and free! My shields are all gone, my armour is mostly gone. Two or three more seconds and that would have been it. I ran away instead. I'm not sure that this is a victory but it feels like one. As I leave the system my would be killer asks me to come back for a Destroyer vs Destroyer fight. It's tempting but I have a full cargo hold that I don't want to lose and I don't think he's realised I'm only a month old and can't match his ship, let alone his weapons which are far superior to mine.

At least I'm back. I've mastered running away. The next ship might be called the Brave Sir Robin. Now I have to master shooting back.

Day 29 : Learnin' from Burnin'

 Today I'm going to get killed a lot (well my ego said it was a lot) and try and learn from it. That's not the plan. That just what happens.

 After yesterdays adventures in low sec I'm ready to go again, and find out just what can be done. I fit out a Destroyer as a short range blaster platform, just the thing that slow, over-armed, rat battlecruisers don't like. It's a fair cost to get a fit I'm happy with. It is a little low on defence but I have to boost the power output to power so many guns, using up a fitting slot in the process.

 Warping into the system I proceed to clear out rats. It's harder to find the big kills today compared to yesterday but I'm getting a decent rate of return in both bounties and loot. The cruiser groups are the hardest, these guys can still hit me when I'm up close at speed. Still, I can handle a couple of them and their pals easily.

 I'm in the middle of destroying one such batch when someone else warps into the system. Its a familiar face from yesterday. I dither about running or finishing my kill off and that's enough time for him to reach me, slow my speed with a Webifier and prevent warp with a Scrambler. By the time I've locked onto him and unlocked the weapons from the rat I'm toast. Podded again. This guy goes onto the watch list of contacts with a bad rep. One day I may be good enough to pay the favour back.

 So - lesson one learned. Don't dither. Do something in low sec if a player enters the local area. Forget the rat. It takes me another experience of being killed a coupe of hours later to get this into my thick skull. At least this time I shot back and did enough damage to clear his shields. Still, that's a lot of destroyers and equipment for someone so new. The bounties I picked up cover some of it but the loss seems to stay with me.

 I retreat to mining. I'm shaken but don't realise it yet. Mining while plotting in my head for better PVP tactics and ship fittings. It takes me a few hours to realise just why I've moved my miner down to a 0.9 security system. There aren't even any rats here. I compulsively check the overview of the local area for ships, monitor local system chat for potential thieves and gankers, and worry about the cost of the mining barge I'm in. Basically I'm suffering from some kind of psychological impact of being, so easily, ganked in space. Adrenaline withdrawal of some kind maybe. I'm not having that. I have a plan. I have some cash. I now have the will. I shall return! Bugger this pansying around in hi sec.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Day 28 : Foolhardy

Lack of sleep AGAIN. What the hell is wrong with me? It's Friday and I'll be too knackered to go out tonight. You know where I'll be. If it's another insomnia night I'm just going to break a rule and get out of bed and play through the night.

Anyway, I'm sitting up, coming round to the fact that I need to get out of the house. I'm not thinking straight when I remember the ore from yesterday. I've never mined that stuff I saw in low sec. I should go after it and add it to the ore samples at least. Yeah, writing this later, I don't know what I was thinking either. I warp into one of the belts. At least I'm relatively tooled up in a Destroyer class ship. I see the usual rats. One of them.... one of them is a fucking BATTLESHIP! Now I am awake, now I am running. That was scary. I've never faced one before. They can pour out major damage from a distance.

Maybe I'm not that awake. I think something along the lines of "in EVE nothing ventured nothing gained". I can afford to lose this ship. I've obeyed the rules,  I've thought about it. I've thought about it with an insomnia adjusted IQ of about 5 but I've thought about it. No damn battleship is going to scare me on a Friday morning and get away with it. They are probably momentary fodder for the EVE hardcore. Yeah, thats right Space Noob, psyche yourself into oblivion.

I warp in. They have frigates racing at me. I'm in an anti-frigate platform you fools. I waste these on the way through and launch the drone. I'm heading in and over the top of the battleship. I'm a little worried that the vicinity of rocks is going to slow me to a stop. At that point I'm cannon fodder. All there really is between me and going home in a pod is speed. Burn Afterburner, damn you, burn! I settle into a looping orbit without much damage, the damage control unit indicator rotating slowly like it didn't have a care in the world. Something weird happens then. Slowly, and oddly to my mind, I start to pulverise the ship. Stray shots are zooming all around me. I'm like the lead in a Hollywood western, the shots just go wide. It's now, when I'm laughing at my invulnerability and yet expecting one clean shot to reduce me to rubble, that I notice the bounty price on the ship. It's 600k. 600K. With a big K! I'm used to rats with a bounty of 10k tops. Now I'm nervous again.

After a long time of this, the damn things are tough, my enemy explodes and leaves behind a skeletal wreck. Since I'm cheeky I've not employed all my hardpoints to use weapons. I have a Salvager on board. I loot any cargo they might have had first, then salvage the wreck. It comes to more than the bounty. I'm going to have to get better at mining, thats all I can say. Lets have another bash at this. I warp to another belt and find an even slower battleship. As it turns out I play for an hour, not even concentrating, and add around 20% to my bank balance ( not including the infamous 50 mil from http://diaries-of-a-space-noob.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/day-five-renumeration-fixation.html )

So there you go. I think some quiet nipping through low sec might be in order. Time to properly plan a ship fitting that will clear it in better time. If it hadn't been morning I bet I would have had some upset visitors and had to run away.

Later on, after a LONG day at work, I kit out a ship suited to the kind of ratting I think I'm in for. I'm awake now, surely it should go even better. After fitting out the ship I send in Maverick to scout the system beforehand. There is a red flagged player in there and sure enough, third belt in, he warp scrambles me and blows me to hell. This is amusing. I've scouted the system and this guy has blown my scout out of the water. I'm in EVE! I'm not mining! I'm getting turned into toast!. He pod kills me too which is a little petulant. I don't think I'd pod kill someone now I know what it's all about. I'm not sure what the morals of the situation are, or even if there are any in EVE.

I think my best PVP ship might have to be called the Jack Burton, or maybe the Pork Chop Express. Full nerd points to anyone who recognises the quote.

Just remember what old Jack Burton does when the earth quakes, the poison arrows fall from the sky, and the pillars of Heaven shake. Yeah, Jack Burton just looks that big old storm right in the eye and says "Give me your best shot. I can take it."

EVE track of the day

Shoot to Thrill - AC/DC

Friday, 13 July 2012

Day 27 : Low Sec Speeding

After a night with hardly any sleep thanks to yesterdays dental work it's a surprise I log on today at all. Actually it isn't. I can't keep my hands off this game.

Industry and mining are all very well but trying to stay alert while doing something that dull isn't for me today. I have to do something else, something little riskier than my activities of late. In EVE risk is constant and yet that is the thrill. Death here isn't a momentary inconvenience as in many other MMOs. Ship loss, even clone loss in PVP, can be a costly incident. Even in the highest of high sec someone might be out suicide ganking. I've been more aware of it recently while out mining in the tub of a Retriever that I call The Diceman. It's why I've chosen the slow route into EVE, building up an initial buffer against being blown back to square one. Time to spice it up take a run into low sec and see what happens. No police there. Chances are, from what I've heard, that I won't last much longer than a few minutes.

Some kind of EVE instinct kicks in at this point. A little nagging voice asking me if I really want to take an expensive ship down there for a few minutes fun and wake up tomorrow and feel the pinch. It wouldn't be that bad surely? I could take a destroyer. I can almost afford to lose those now? They are slowish though and I do have a fondness for speed. I check out my Atron from the local station. The class of ships I've decided, embarrassingly enough, to name after call signs from Top Gun. Today, Maverick might bite the dust. I should have called this one Goose. I do have that need for speed though....

Warping into the system I slam down on the afterburner and zoom off into space. Damn but the place is bright. All around me are the starlit arcs of a massive nebula. The place is gorgeous for all that it's dangerous. It's also dead as a doornail. Seriously, there is no one here. I click the controls to swing round and  approach the gate I just came in from, and then hit full stop. It's about the closest thing I can do to an indignant handbrake turn. I bob quietly for a second in my puny fighter, admiring the scenery. Four people in system and no one to be seen. Maybe there are some rats in the belts. I head out.

Third belt out, I find one. Until now the most interesting thing has been the pristine state of the belts and the fact that they contain a type of ore I've never mined before. This belt though, I'm in luck. A single rat, flying the same class of ship as me. An even contest for a noob in his first low sec trip. I zoom in high overhead and chase down to a close orbit. He is emplying similar tactics. It becomes a war of attrition that he is slowly winning. Our weapons are puny low weight, low damage things. Our relative velocities are so high it makes tracking hard and shots are missing constantly. I try blipping the afterburner and racing straight at him for a second before pulling out into an orbiting pattern again. It seems to work a bit but I'm still beginning to lose. Thats when I notice I've got the orbit set to 500m. I don't need to be in that close and my railguns (perhaps I should be packing short range blasters) could be further out. I warp out and get repaired and the single local Gallente station. This is where I find the populace of the system hiding away. Does it have a good bar or something? I'm back out to try new tactics.

With the orbit distance set to something a bit more suited to my ill equipped weaponry, the little scrap with my evil NPC twin goes better. It's still very long for a fight with an NPC rat but it's also lots of time to practice movement and balencing the energy needs of shield boosters, afterburners and damage control systems. Even against an NPC rat it is good practice for later in my EVE life when I actually start to figure out what the hell is going on. It certainly beats mining where the excitement is the dread of being a sitting duck. Well, it beats mining when I'm feeling like this anyway. I still like mining and I still have plans for it.

Other than that my time today is limited. I'm coming up on the months end too, I should be going for gold. I think I realise I'm in for the long haul and going for gold is just about the most pointless thing I could do. Better to sit back, relax and learn Electronics to boost my CPU capacity. While I do this, I do a little research into other EVE blogs. I've been holding off a bit because I want to learn EVE with as little outside help as possible. Even so I've been looking at the odd website or ten when I've had trouble grasping something in game. Denying myself blogs is pointless, in the sandbox world of EVE human drama is being played out via the medium of space. These other bloggers are seeing it, reporting it and shaping it. The best of the ones I find I'll add to the blog list on the side of mine. Be warned. These guys are NOT noobs but if you can bypass the EVE jargon then there are golden stories in here. With a little bit of archaeology a whole story about an event months back begins to appear. I'll try and cover it later in the blog when I'm a little more sure of myself. Till then try out http://fiddlersedge.blogspot.co.uk and http://mabricksmumblings.blogspot.co.uk

(embarrassing Top Gun reference) EVE track of the day

Danger Zone by Kenny Loggins

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Day 26 : The Spreadsheet Game

I'm working from home today around an appointment for severe dental work. Annoying but it means AFK mining in a hauler that can just sit there for hours. I run EVE on my laptop and plug it into the big TV. All day in the background is a gigantic hauler orbiting a rock.

After work, once the jaw ache and tooth ache and head ache have faded to manageable amounts, I start thinking about mining and refining. My skills in Refining have just gone up so there is a job I can no longer put off.

Here's how mining works from the perspective of a total noob. You fly out to an asteroid belt and hit rocks with lasers that give you so many cubic metres of ore a minute. The ore you get back is measured in units. Each different type of ore takes up a different amount of space. So you have to calculate what you can carry versus the price. It gets worse. You can refine ore at a station that provides that service. You get units of minerals back. These take up way less space than raw ore so at the moment I'm not interested in their volume, I'm interested in the amount I get back and what it is worth. Is it worth more than the raw ore? Why would it be? Well, the refining process is altered by the facilities you use, your own skills in refining, and your relationship with whoever owns the station. Bad refining skills mean more waste and the station takes a cut. Each different type of ore produces varying amounts of one or more types of mineral. So there may be good refiners out there buying up cheap ore, refining it with mind boggling efficiency and selling it on. I have rubbish skills in refining and already some quick calculations in my head are making it look good. It looks even better when you realise you cut down on hauling time.

With varying prices and lots of types of ore with their own mineral yields doing the calculations in my head is going to prove a pain. I've talked about EVE insulted as a spreadsheet game by someone who uses spreadsheets in other games. I'm about to do my first MMO spreadsheet. Following a suggestion from a work colleague I'm going to look at Google Docs as I haven't got round to doing so yet. Trying something new will make me feel better about using my spare time to write spreadsheets. My initial effort is linked below. It is simplistic but gets me to a better understanding. It doesn't take into account hauling time to the best priced location or contracting out that hauling when I could have used the time to mine more.

Ore calculations if sold at the best price in Essence. Transport not included. Refine at Caslemon

To have any hope of being accurate I'd have to plug it into some live prices and factor in hauling to market. I'd probably have to factor in hauling to dangerous markets. It is a start though and unless I've got the calculations wrong then I've been mining the wrong ore and in certain cases I should have been refining. Refining is only going to get better and the reduction in haulage is going to add to it. Time is money.

So it turns out it is a spreadsheet game, and I've been mining the wrong ore, and selling ore instead of refined minerals. Thank Geoff for spreadsheets! The best ore so far is one of the simplest. Why? Probably because it provides the mineral used in bulk for creating pretty much everything in the game.

EVE track of the day

For a Few Dollars More - Ennio Morricone


I've purchased three large storage containers that I can use to provide separate space for ore samples. Ore samples.... I ask you. I even went out and gathered them in a Navitas. I was the space equivalent of a geologist with a hammer. The containers store a stack of the minimum amount of each type of ore that you need to refine. Not only do the containers keep the ore samples apart from my usual stacks of stuff, they mean I can easily load the samples onto a ship and cart them to a new area. This will make it quicker to figure out local prices and refining amounts. Ore samples.... What the hell is this game?