Sunday, 30 December 2012

Day 196 : Space Noob P.I.

You have no idea how tempting it was to photoshop my characters head onto a picture of Magnum PI. I couldn't because this post isn't about me becoming a Space Detective and also because I'd have spent the whole time photoshopping perms and mustaches onto my character portrait and cackling like an imbecile. This post is instead about the much duller subject of Planetary Interaction. It is even less interesting than the fact that I don't have Adobe Photoshop and that photoshop has become a verb. I wonder if it is in the dictionary.

My quest for a regular source of income that mining supplements in an emergency rather than the other way around continues. The regular income is intended to get me being blown up more. It is intended to remove the time between losses rather than the negative impact of losses. The negative impact I want to retain, otherwise the fights won't feel as intense. This means the income doesn't have to be high. I'll be in cruisers with the odd BC at maximum. High sec Planetary Interaction is one such source. It requires minimal effort once set up and yet could yield a few cruisers a week if done right. Planned right it might also assist some basic T2 industry.

I finally got around to investigating PI last week. I had my alt trained up with the following skills which took a couple of days.

Command Center Upgrades III ( I was on II when I started and things got tricky)
Remote Sensing III
Planetology III
Interplanetary Consolidation III

(Update from Rhavas at who suggests getting Advanced Planetology to III at minimum, so do that if you have the time)

I put aside around 6 million. Experiments (or good mistakes) made this a little higher but I had just managed to sell my Christmas gift implants before the market crashed meaning I was a little flush at the time. I think I spent around 10 million. I made this money back but I can't tell you the exact rate as I funnelled some of the products into other purposes and made some more mistakes. After a week you should be generating around a million per planet per day (as long as it isn't just a factory planet but more on that later).

You'll also need to be able to haul a minimum of 1000m3

This allowed me to run three simple planets, none of them particularly efficient but enough to see what the whole thing was about. Whatever I read about PI it didn't seem clear to me what it actually was. Everything seemed to be a confusing mess of maps with circles on them, mentioning stuff while assuming I knew the basic concept. Assuming basic concepts are understood is a real failing in EVE.

DISCLAIMER : This is hi-sec PI. I haven't investigated low or null where resources are richer but taxes vary wildly. I may have made mistakes. This may be a better guide


PI makes stuff.


PI is a method of producing some of the items you see in the market that don't have a corresponding blueprint available and are still on the material component list of other blueprints. An example is Robotics. Look it up in the market. Now look up the blueprint for a Gallente Fuel Block. There is more than one PI produced component on there in addition to Robotics. Some PI produced items are easier to produce than others, there is a tier system that ranks them all. I'll get to this later.


Ah you mean that illusive basic concept? PI is a mini game. The nature of the game is I/O. Input/Output. You build a mine (aka Extractor) that produces raw material at a certain rate. This rate differs over time requiring your input at regular periods in order to restart the process before production drops off to nothing. The raw materials are consumed at a certain rate by factories and must be buffered in order that a fresh mine doesn't send stuff to a factory that can't accept it because it is at its processing limit. Excess is wasted without this buffer. The output of these factories can be combined in a different type of factory to produce more complex things at a certain rate. Your job is to design a system (aka Colony) where the rate of production from the factories is maximised by altering the extraction rate of the mines and by having enough factories. The number of things you can build is limited by the power and cpu supplied to the colony which is effectively your Command Center Upgrades skill. Clever designs can increase what you can fit into your colony. In areas other than hi sec you might have to balance the flow between buildings as output outstrips the ability to move it to the next stage. Variance in the location and concentration of raw materials on a planet provides the random element that ensures that there is no guaranteed layout but core concepts ensure some similarity.


A variable amount of time to grasp the concept, then set up your planets. Mine took me around four hours to do both but I've since tweaked the setups.  After that you'll need to regularly check up on each planet at an interval chosen by you. I've yet to determine the respawn mechanism for the raw materials but it looks like once per day, with a couple of minutes per planet should be fine. Eventually you'll have to collect the output which involves flying to the planet. Depending on the system you set up on a planet you might not have to fly to it for weeks at a time. So basically a single chunk of playing time and then some very small jobs every now and again.


No. It takes a basic investment to build your colony, and later to install upgrades. There are export taxes when removing produced stuff from a planet and then later import taxes if you move that to a planet that needs off world input (eg Planet A and Planet B produce stuff that you combine in a factory on Planet C)


Once set up it is a passive income stream with little effort can be kept up to date using very small segments of time. It won't make you rich in Hi Sec. Imagine 5 minutes over breakfast per day. Had I known that the barrier to several million a day was a 1000m3 hauler and 2 or 3 days skills I'd have done it from day one, seeding one planet at a time to pay for the next. If I ever have a third alt this will be it's first task. Lets say you have the basic skills above on all three characters on your account. It should be able to generate around 3 million a day, 9 million per account per day. With more planets and a second account it starts to look like PLEX money even in hi-sec although clicking around lots of planets every day is going to become highly monotonous and you'll have to research the market well. I am considering it given that I have a high boredom threshold (see earlier ability to mine). Normal mortals would be a drooling mess within days.

It is a very mild amount of fun at the start. Learning the concepts, planning of the set up of the colony and the greed of seeing loot accumulate for doing nothing. Not that much fun after that really, just simple logistics.

It can make you self sufficient in materials for more advanced industry cutting out some travel time and buy order costs.


Ok. This is a rough guide to setting up in hi sec. It won't earn much but hopefully should give some basic information on getting up to speed with PI. I learnt a couple of things while writing it so be careful that I haven't gone completely wrong somewhere.

1. The Products

Pick a product that you want to produce. You might want to produce it to sell or as the component for further industry. The product you pick will ultimately be composed of  raw materials whose source will be one or more types of planet. Certain raw materials are found on certain types of planet. For example gaseous material like Noble Gas will need a Gas planet in your set up somewhere.

Products vary in their complexity. Firstly there is the raw output of  your Extractors. These are "Raw Materials". It takes 3000 of these to produce 20 of the next type of material. These are "Processed Materials" and it takes 40 of two types of these to produce 5 of the next type of product. These are "Refined Commodities" and it takes 10 of two or three types of these to produce 3 of the next type of product. These are "Specialised Commodities" and Robotics is an example of them. There is another tier of products that I haven't investigated where the tiered nature of production isn't as clear. See the following link for the raw data :

My aim was Robotics which is made out of Mechanical Parts and Consumer Electronics.
Mechanical Parts are made out of Reactive Metals and Precious Metals (fuck knows why, maybe its like watches or something) which are in turn made from the Raw Materials "Base Metals" and "Noble Metals"
Consumer Electronics are made out of Toxic Metals and Chiral Structures which are in turn made out of the Raw Materials "Heavy Metals" and "Non CS Structures"

(Update from Rhavas at : try one product per planet in concert with Advanced Planetology for efficiency)

The Raw Materials govern your choice of Planet. This next paragraph is an example of how complex things can get when attempting to describe PI step by step. Read it and then ignore it until you get to the section on Extractors.

All four of my necessary Raw Materials could be found on Plasma planets but there wasn't one nearby and I doubted that with my skills I'd have the power to run four extractors and the necessary factories. I think I could run less extractors and have them extract one material at a time and change that by the day (time consuming and needs cost weighting). Unfortunately I'd have to be lucky with the distribution of the raw materials on the planet and have the willpower to determine the placings correctly and then to micro manage the colony by changing the extracted raw material every now and again. It is easier to plan for, and allowed by the skills above, two types of Raw Material on each of two planets and combining these on a third. Single planet production of tier 3 "Specialised Commodities" is best left for higher skills and planets outside hi-sec which have higher deposits.

The types of planet where Raw Materials can be found are summarised here

2. The Command Center

This is where we get into the interface. The Command Center is bought from the market and transported to the planet by you. All the command center does is provide power and CPU to the colony which allow you to install other structures, much as you would fit modules to a ship. As far as I can tell the Command Center doesn't have to be linked into the rest of the colony to power it so we could place it anywhere and have it provide power and processing. However it has some minimal storage and export facilities that you might need later so its handy to position it as the focal point of the colony.

Command Centers are cheap, the cost comes after you position the center and then "upgrade" it which increases the amount of power it provides. The extent to which you can upgrade it is dependant upon your Command Center Upgrades skill.

Firstly scan a suitable planet. It's handy to set up a planet only Overview tab for speed when scanning the planets in system. You'll need the Customs Office around it later on but I dealt with that via bookmarks. You can scan planets in other systems at a distance governed by your Remote Sensing skill.

Right click the planet in the Overview, on screen, on the System info window, or whatever esoteric way you have of looking at planet entries. Select "View in Planet Mode". On the left of the screen you'll see the Viewing Planet Menus. The default mode is "Build" which just lists all the possible things you can build on the planet. You don't need them yet. Click "Scan".

You should be looking at a list of all the Raw Materials available on the planet. The component Raw Materials of your chosen final product should be on it. The graphs to the right of the name indicate the relative amount of deposits. Click on the lowest of your desired Raw Materials

The planet may not have changed in appearance since the default set up is to colour code the full range of deposit density. In hi sec this means that some of your desired deposits will be so low density that you'll have difficulty making out the colour range. The colours can be altered by the slider above the names of the Raw Materials. You should have a mess about with this right now and try the following

1. Increase the colour range of the high value deposits : move the right triangle to the left
2. Increase the colour range of the low value deposits : move the left triangle to the right
3. Alter the range of the scale : the whole set of colours is a slider and can be moved along the scale.

By now you'll have realised that you can get more accurate scans by compressing the slider and making the colour gradations a more precise indicator of deposit concentration.

You are looking for two things

1. The best deposit of the rarest of your desired Raw Materials.
2. A deposit of your other Raw Material(s) near to the first type of deposit.

UPDATE:  from Chirality Tisteloin ‏@ChiralityT

"@SpaceNoob1 look at other player's structures while surveying. PI is pretty pvp. Note compression isk/m^3 for higher tier commodities"

You can right click the planet and select "Show/Hide other characters networks". This will display other command centers you can click on to see if others are extracting nearby. I find the things very difficult to see.

How nearby the other deposits are is hard to describe, eventually the distance will eat available power when you start to link things up and I haven't found a useful metric to judge this visually. Let me know if you find one but until then know that the radius of planets differs so an arbitrary fraction of screen space on one planet will be more distance than the same amount of screen space on another planet. With Gas planets being so large this will come back to haunt you later on. As a rule of thumb zoom the planet so that you can see all of it on screen with as little space as possible around the edges. Try and make sure that your Raw Material deposits are no further than a third of the planet from each other. On Gas planets you might want to reduce this further. Of course you can get into the math based on the radius of the planet (the distance from the center to the edge when looking at it flat on) and the power and CPU required per km of link but for your first planet stick with "nearby". More on links later.

Once you have a set of deposits you like then place the command center near one of them. To do this you just fly to the planet, view it, select COMMAND CENTERS from the Build menu, click the entry that appears under that and then click on your desired location on the planet.

To make this permanent you'll need to click the Submit button that appears. This will appear when you make any major changes to a colony. If you've made a mistake you can click Cancel and not waste any money. You'll be clicking the Submit (or the Cancel) whenever you build or alter production.

You can "upgrade" a Command Center to make it provide more power and processing. Click on your newly placed command center and you'll see all the information on it. The button on the far bottom left of this window is the upgrade button. Click it and you'll see how far you can upgrade the center. It will cost money to do so and require a Submit. Don't do this until you get stopped from doing something you want to by running out of power or CPU capacity. While you are there looking at the upgrades check out the other buttons as they'll be used later. Don't worry about them though.

3. The Extractor - where the raw comes from

The next thing you want to build is an Extractor. This is more like the office at the top of a mine than the mine itself. All the mining is done by Extractor Head Units. You can make 10 of these per Extractor and spread them out all around the Extractor itself. Each Unit uses power so you'll start with 3 or 4 per Extractor and maybe increase this later when you upgrade the command center.

Extractors run for a set period of time. Longer periods mean a slower rate of extraction ( and therefore production) but mean you don't have to come back to look at it as often. I generally set the period of time to around 24 hours. The Extractor window will provide the average over time and the cycle rate of extraction (so you get enough out, fast enough to run the factories at the start).

Select EXTRACTOR CONTROL UNITS from the Build menu and then click near the edge of the first deposit you chose above.
Click on the placed Extractor and then click the "Survey for Deposits" button.
Select a Raw Material to mine from the icons in the top right of the resulting window. The planet should colour as if you were doing a scan. You can click back to the main Scan menu to alter this without dismissing  the window.
Click one of the circular buttons on the left of the Extractor window, under the title "Extractor Head Units"
A blue circle will have appeared on the planet. Move this around until it is in the densest area of Raw Materials.
Add a couple more and make sure they don't overlap, you'll get red warning indicators where they do. In some cases it might be profitable to overlap slightly so look at the figures change.
Alter the slider at the bottom of the window under "Extraction Area Size".

While you've been doing this you'll have noticed the graph and the "Program Output" (bottom right of the Extractor window) changing. This is the rate at which you'll mine during a set period of time governed by the
"Extraction area size". Changing the "Extraction area size" alters the full duration of your extraction. It also alters the size of the extractor heads so you might need to move them around a bit. You'll be juggling the number of heads and the extraction time with a low power colony so have a mess around and see how high you can get the figures. I tend to aim for multiples of 3000 per hour so I can judge what I am providing to a factory. 6000 per hour of each Raw Material would be ideal as a basic factory consumes this per hour but it might prove difficult to get that at the start, without further upgrades, depending on what you are extracting. Extraction rates vary overtime but the Extractor window displays the average as well as a graph indicating the varying rate.

4. Storage, Links and Routes over those Links.

All that stuff you are extracting has to go somewhere before it can be used. Once it is used the ouput of that factory has to go somewhere. That output may even go to another factory, the output of which also has to be stored. All this can happen with a single storage unit.

There are three different units that can provide storage. Command Centers can store 500m3. It isn't a lot so ignore it for now. Storage Facilities (see the Build menu) can store 12000m3. Launch pads can store 10000m3 and also export stuff. The Launchpad uses the same amount of power as a Storage Facility but a lot more CPU. The CPU amount may become an issue if your Extractor heads are far apart but the storage is likely enough for a hi-sec planet, so unless you have a need for multiple storage facilities (you won't on a hi sec planet) or you have a lot of distance between Raw Material deposits use a Launchpad for storage.

Use the Build menu to place a launchpad. Its under SPACEPORTS on the Build menu. Drop it between your two extractors.

You now need to provide a method of getting Raw Materials into the storage at the launchpad. This is done in two steps.

i) Linking. A link is a railroad between units in your colony. It eats up power and CPU depending on its length. To create one click PLANETARY LINKS in the build menu, select "Create Link", click on your Extractor and then (you should have a white line trailing the cursor by this point) click on the Launchpad. The two units are now linked. Complete this step for the other extractor.

ii) By itself the link does nothing. You must tell the factory to "route" its output to another unit. This routing will utilise the link. Click on the Extractor, then on the Products button, the second from the left along the bottom of the Extractor window. You should see your Raw Material with the words "Not Routed" in red. Click the Raw Material and then the resulting "Create Route" button at the bottom. Click on the Launchpad and then click the Create Route button again. You should see that the link now has an animation effect on one of the two lines making it up. Make sure you click the Submit button above the Build menu. Repeat for any other extractors.

Links have a capacity that, as far as I can tell, you just won't hit in hi-sec. If you do they can be upgraded to carry more but I've never had to do this.

5. Processing. The Factories

With Raw Materials now being extracted, routed to the Launchpad and stored there you now need to do something with them. You could just Export them (see below) but I've never run the math or done market research for how effective that is. Instead I use them to build something else.

Raw Materials are consumed at a rate of 6000m3 per hour by a Basic Industry Facility, ideally your extractors should be routing this (or more) into the Launchpad. Build a  Basic Industry Facility as close to the Launchpad as possible. They are under PROCESSORS on the Build menu. Build a Link between it and the Launchpad.

Click on the new Basic Industry Facility and in the new window click the Schematics button. Choose the product you want to make out of your Raw Material and click Install. The factory now knows what it wants to consume and produce.

Click the Products button and use the entry you see to create a route back to the launchpad.

You now need to route stored Raw Material from the Launchpad into this new factory. The Launchpad might not have any storage yet but so there will be nothing we can click in the storage section in order to create a route. Instead we use the Routes button on the Launchpad window. It will have the incoming route from the Extractor listed. Click on the material and a new Create Route button will appear. Use this to create a route to the factory.

By this point you should have Raw Materials routed into the Launchpad then out to the Basic Industry Facility and the results of that routed back into the Launchpad. Repeat this for any other Raw Material you are extracting.

If you have enough power left you can combine the output of two Basic Industry Facilities in an Advanced Industry Facility. The technique is the same as building a Basic Industry Facility. Build it, link it, choose the output Schematic, route the output, use the Launchpad routes list to route the required materials (the output of two Basic Industry Facilities) into the Advanced Industry Facility.

6000m3 each of two types of Raw Material is combined in a Basic Industry Facility to produce 20 units of Processed Material per half hour, or 40 units per hour. 40 units per hour of two or more types is the required input for an Advanced Industry Facility so this is what you want to aim for.

6. Export

After a couple of hours you'll have some final product. You either want to sell this or combine it on a planet that has another setup of factories. I've not got the skills or the hi-sec resources to have a single planet producing the next tier of product but I did use a dedicated colony of factories to combine two tier 2 products into Tier 3 products (Robotics in my case). This involved Exporting from two planets and Importing to a third. Once I have more upgrade skills I may experiment with the extra factory on one of the production planets, cutting out the need for one of the Export/Import steps. I need to have a think about how efficient this is against the saving because export and import cost money. How much more I could make by extracting more instead?

There are two methods of exporting.

You can launch stuff into space from a Command Center. I've only experimented with this. It costs 50% more than exporting to the orbiting Customs Office in hi sec and then you have to fly to pick it up, presuming someone else doesn't get there first. Such launches appear in the Planetary Launches tab of the Journal.

Launching from a Launchpad is the better way to get stuff off planet, at least in hi-sec. To do this you have to be in space. Click on the Launchpad to get the control window up, and then click on the Launch button. All you have to do then is to drag what you want transported from one side of the resulting window to the other and then click the transfer button.

If you want to pick this up then fly to the planets Customs Office and right click it. Select Access Storage and then drag the items from it into your ships cargo bay. You can also cause the launchpad to transfer material from the planet to the Customs Office via the Customs Office window. If you do this then don't forget the second drag step of transferring the result to your cargo bay. I've done this several times and had to fly back to pick up stuff I left in the Customs Office.

The price of export is based on a set base value for the type of material you are exporting. These values are:

Advanced Commodities: 1,350,000.00 ISK
Specialized Commodities: 70,000.00 ISK
Refined Commodities: 9,000.00 ISK
Basic commodities: 500.00 ISK
Planet Resources: 5.00 ISK

These values per unit are altered by the local tax rate. For hi sec this is 10%. So, for example, it costs 900 ISK to export 1 unit of a Refined Commodity (10% of 9000 ISK).

If you have a multi planet system of production you'll have to factor both this cost and the subsequent import cost into your profit margins. I need to look at this myself to see if it is cheaper in hi sec to have the third tier factory on one of the tier 2 production colonies. I'd have done this already if it wasn't the holidays. I can only think so much when I'm off work.

7. Import

Importing is the reverse of Exporting.

It too costs money, 50% of the Export cost (see above)

Fly to a planet with material in your hold, Access Storage on the Customs Office, drag the materials across, and then click the transfer button. If the planets Launchpad has routes set up then these materials will be instantly in use.

8. Examples

Two Extractors, two Basic Industrial facilities and a single Advanced Industry Facility. Produces Coolant for export.

Producing just Oxygen using a crowd of Basic Industry Facilities. This was before Command Center Upgrades III and needs another Extractor to be fully efficient with 5 Basic Industry facilities. 

Another 2/2/1 setup but where I ran out of power to have enough extractor heads for fully efficient use. Again waiting for a third Command Center upgrade.

    I have another planet on an alt which just has factories to produce Robotics but it needs cleaning up after being created with a useless storage unit. Think of it as a launchpad surrounded by factories and no extractors.

9. Further work

All this is just the result of a basic investigation one afternoon. I need to have more of a think about what I am producing and where I am producing it to see if more complex setups yield more ISK value. See the eveonline wiki entry in the References below for the 3 product planet example for another kind of colony I need to investigate.

9. References (aka better and non noobish descriptions) (thanks to Thighzen in the comments and a couple of other people who mentioned it)

EVE Track of the Day

Still Life - The Horrors

PS. Thank Fuck that's over.

Friday, 28 December 2012

Day 185 : Land of the Noobs

Rixx Javix posted something about the future of EVE and encouraging new player intake by getting them playing rather than the slowly-walking-barefoot-on-hot-coals trial-by-fire that the new game can be. He wasn't satisfied with the post and subsequently took it down. Not before I caught it via Google Reader, and not before it made me think. (NOTE: he subsequently rewrote and posted this version

My character is six months old now and a new expansion has just been released. I'm in a good position to look at that expansion and how it improves things for the new player because I still have clear memories (and an entire blogs worth of less clear memories) of being that new player. Maybe I am in a good position look at these improvements and suggest more that would benefit new players without being unfair to existing players. Maybe my perspective will be useful. Maybe I'm not in that position but I'm going to do it anyway because conversations leading up to this post revealed that leaving stuff in your head rather than writing about it causes headaches and other phenomena related to intellectual rot.

I can't summarise the entire of Retribution for two reasons. Firstly, did you see the patch notes? I had to have a rest in the middle of reading them and that wasn't because I was laughing after running them through Secondly I've been on a carebear kick recently so I'm wary of bias. I'm going to write as if that bias didn't exist, just to see what comes out and trust in the fact that my carebear activities are all mainly to do with being able to afford non-carebear activities in future.

1. Dscan, Complexity and Time

   Complexity was a draw. Difficulty was a draw. Yet some things were time consuming with no need. Some things need to be complex, but time is already a precious commodity in EVE and it shouldn't be part of the most basic tasks. The new camera tracking allows play and action without pointless faffing around. Sure some people will have become expert in it. I've practised it a lot myself. That doesn't mean it wasn't a pointless life drain on the gameplay. EVE is often compared to the tactical nature of submarine warfare. We want that intense tactical tension in the same form as a WWII film might provide it, not in the realistic sense of sitting in the middle of the ocean sweating for days on end. Complexity without time. If I had to point at a single genius idea of the entire expansion, camera tracking and the interaction with Dscan would be it.

2. Crimewatch and Simplicity

   Before crimewatch I had fights where I didn't consider what state I'd be in afterwards. This was mainly because I wasn't sure what that state would be. It wasn't clear enough in any documentation and the volume of reading defeated even my tolerance for reading in a browser while mining. Crimewatch has made the law of EVE simpler to interpret. It is still relatively complex compared to other MMOs which is a good thing, but it is no longer something that causes arguments akin to family Christmas feuds borne out of obscure boardgame rules. This means that. Determined cause and effect. Control. You no longer have no idea WHY.

3. Expansions and Populations
   The expansion brought people back. It must have. Populations went up. With higher populations there was more conflict. Conflict was easier given the new Crimewatch rules. Conflict is the source of EVE dynamism. That's the stuff that really goes on in the game, whether it is being done by you or to you, whether by NPCs or by PCs, spaceships that shoot at each other and go boom makes a game. It makes a game whether you are attempting to make them go boom or attempting to do something entirely different while not going boom. It feels like people are staying longer than I expected (or maybe there are even more mining concerns moving into my home system). I think the iterative process refreshed a lot of EVE rather than replacing the most focal part of it with something else.

 So what else could be done? I'll highlight an example of each and see if anyone else comes up with any more examples.

1. Complexity and Time

Invention is already complex enough to be intriguing. Sourcing the materials and fine tuning a research process is an exercise in logistics that not everyone would enjoy but I found it interesting. Not interesting enough to become a super industrialist but enough to dabble. If you have ever done Invention then you'll know about the cycle time being small and the number of clicks to submit an invention job being monotonously high. There should be some way to chain similar actions, for example submitting five invention jobs at a time rather than one. Perhaps there should be a way to automate the submission of such jobs but I'm uncomfortable thinking about the repercussions of such automation. It might lead to less people logging in as jobs complete by themselves.

2. Simplicity

I often Show Info on things to find out one row of detail from the attributes. It is commonly the meta level of items or the ME of a blueprint where I have multiple copies. It's a pain in the arse frankly. I think you should be able to configure an overlay for icons of simple information from that type of object. Imagine if you could have the meta level of an item in the top right corner of its icon, or the ME of a BPO there. The bottom right corner already shows the stack number which is presumably the hardest bit - the overlay code and the server based information. The overlay code must already be there and the configurable information should all be client side.

3. Populations

How do you retain a population between the peaks of expansions? To a certain extent things like the market, the invention process and PI cycles make it a requirement to log in every now and again but not to fly. You have to make people want to go out and try something, or to see something. Nothing is going to have the same effect as an expansion but form of regular changes might keep small spikes of population happening. That's how expansions draw people in : change. What could you change regularly while requiring limited developer time? CCP have already done this recently with their Live Events but what could you automate? Some ideas:

*  A single hi sec systems sun has an event lowering CONCORD response times and introducing fluctuating wormhole conditions.

* CONCORD abandons a particular system after a collapse of law. Drug running and all other illegal activities can be indulged in.

* CONCORD attempts to get a foothold in a low sec system, destruction isn't assured but there will be a response. Will industrialists attempt to take advantage of the extra safety?

* The death of a noted industrialist reveals a will requiring his wealth to be seeded randomly through EVE in cargo cannisters that must be scanned down. might require more developer time but you can imagine people flying to view it's progress and the inevitable scraps.

* A stable wormhole opens between two busy systems and it might last for the entire month. Constellation wide traffic patterns change. Perhaps the wormhole could open from hisec to the nearest low sec system near a far trade hub tempting traders to take the risky fast route.

* A situation causes the spawn rate of belt rats to dramatically increase in a particular constellation.

* A gas planet suffers a gravitational shift throwing PI raw materials into space where they can be scanned down and collected if your cargo bay is large enough.

One more idea before I go that is sourced from the difficulty of the first month of EVE. The crimewatch system makes for easier combat situations but the barrier to combat remains the price of loss. Give every new player who completes the tutorial missions a fitted frigate every two days, a frigate that you can't remove the modules from or sell on. It should be a frigate that the player can fly within a few days training and the fit should vary (buffer/active tank, long/short range, etc). A combat viable noob ship that exists only to be blown up.

I meant to post this before Christmas and failed due to holiday overload. It didn't turn out to be the article I thought it was going to be because it was written over a long time. I can't be arsed to make it focus properly. Any spare time over the holidays has been spent reading other blogs rather than writing this one and being lost in more carebeariness than I am happy with. The quest for an easy regular income to fund being blown up goes on and has been slightly extended by the discovery of T2 production and PI. Hopefully I'll have a Noob guide to each coming up soon. Once I've got that out of my system I should be back to getting my pod handed to me by the end of January. Any suggestions on a focus for getting blown up would be highly appreciated.

EVE Track of the Day

Heavyweight Champion of the World - Reverend And The Makers


Thursday, 13 December 2012

Day 181 : Don't You (Forget About Me)

It's been a while since I posted. This is partly thanks to the launch of Retribution, partly due to the real life chaotic business of December, and partly due the milestones I was yakking on about in the last post. I've decided to catch up by dumping a summary of the last twenty days in case anyone thought I'd vanished.

I nearly made a Blog Banter 41 post. Owing to the direction my thoughts took about representing aspects of capsuleer pod clones I ended up with the Quantum Leap theme music stuck in my head. I had to try all kinds of things to get it out of there and I couldn't even go near the blog without reinforcing it. It was the worst case  of tune-stuck-in-the-head that I have ever had. Even now I can hear it echoing in the far reaches of my brain, trying to inspire wacky EVE based spin offs of said TV show. In the end BB41 was superceeded by the BB42 premise (I will also attempt and fail to answer this) and I crept back. I ended up getting rid of Quantum Leap by replacing it with Don't You (Forget About Me) by Simple Minds thanks to it appearing in two films I watched in the same week. That's playing right now. Don't ask. I'm left with a lingering habit of trying to convert any movie or TV show I watch into an EVE based equivalent. I saw Seven Psycho's at the weekend. That worked quite well.

Anyway, back to EVE and all that stuff I've been doing when not suffering the whims of nerd mind.

The Milestones

1. Invention

I managed to get an Invention run to succeed for T2 Hobgoblins on the third or fourth attempt. Typically the next three also succeeded. Invention is like buses. At least I've done that now and can just stockpile them until I decide to use them which won't happen until I've put more work into reading about T2 materials and Planetary Interaction production chains. I've put one of the BPCs into an auction contract which will fail and will be cycled until I find the price that they do move at.

Along the way I learned that Invention appears complex but in fact isn't once you bite the bullet and have a go. Some tips for fellow Noobs:

Datacores are generally cheap. I've a zero cost source of one type from a Research agent but the others are so cheap that if you are poor then a trip round the local system belts in hi sec will get you enough to  buy what you want. I was expecting datacore prices to be more extreme and I guess the cost mounts when inventing larger items like ships.

Meta level 0 items, normal versions, have no effect on Invention chance. I didn't notice this at first and its a boon not because you don't have the cost of the item but because there IS A FUCKING SHIT CACHING THING GOING ON WHEN FINDING THE BASE ITEM WHEN BUILDING AT A POS. Sorry. Had to get that out of my system. After dropping the base item in place (either at the POS or a corp hangar) the Invention dialog window still couldn't find it. This generated some classic internet nerd rage. I even threw something across the room and turned the TV on simply to have some faces to swear at.

2. Dough

I made my billion. Within a few hours a quarter of it had gone, then some more, then 100 mill pushed into my  next level of Industry experiments. It turns out that in EVE, as in RL, money is a lot easier to spend than it is to accrue. I was left with a huge gap in my finances and not even one new ship to show for it. I was rescued by in game events. I'll come to that in a bit.

3. POS

I managed to set up a research POS. It happened a day later than I eventually expected because I'd missed a single role checkbox in the Corp Management interface. I had to kick everyone from the corp to give the corp enough standings after the daily reboot to allow me to anchor the POS in the first place. You can only kick people twenty four hours after their roles have been removed. Thus missing one checkbox lost me twenty four hours when I realised I couldn't kick one of our members.

Before I forget : Thanks to Jax, AJ, and Dave for putting up with the kick/invite thing while I sorted this out.

Currently the POS only has a single lab anchored to it and doesn't really make financial sense in terms of running costs. The costs don't matter, it is nice to have completed the milestone and worked through the process of anchoring and fueling it. Let's face it, it is also a great feeling to have my own bubble space tower in a game. The best thing about it is escaping the infernal queues for high sec NPC research slots. I've managed to use it to kick off a couple of industrial experiments.

During the process of anchoring the POS I ran across a couple of damaged POS gun modules hanging in space damaged with no parent POS in sight. When I had time I went back and AFK repaired them, the first with a battleship and the second with a Retribution boosted Exequoror and drones. It took a while but I was watching TV for the most part. The worst bit was where I trusted the rollover figures which claimed 100% structure when in fact there was a tiny sliver of red on the target readout. I had to return with hull repairers before I could unanchor the things. The best bit? The look of my cruiser and five repair drones washing the broken gun with their armour repping aurora borealis.


I had a lot of plans for Retribution, mainly involving drone ships. I was going to experiment with the Tristan as a 5 drone frigate. I was going to try a comedy Tristan fit that involved dropping a sentry drone, orbiting it and repairing it. I was going to try out the new drone based destroyer the Algos. Greed got in the way.

On the day of launch the server was up faster than expected. I patched and logged in from work during lunch, grabbed copies of various new blueprints and put them straight into manufacture. When I returned home I flew the result to Dodixie and dropped them into the market at something over 2000% profit. They sold like hot cakes. I was selling the new Corax destroyer for 28 million. I was selling the Salvage drone for 1.7 million PER DRONE (somewhere in the region of 30 times its production cost). As supply increased and demand was sated the price began to fall but I'm still making a profix on the odd Corax hull nine days after launch.

Around this time my next industrial experiment reached the point where it I'd finished gathering materials from buy orders. I gathered up the purchased materials and put them into build. I ended up with 100 Small Ancillary Current Routers. Given the rush to fit all the rebalanced ships I couldn't have picked a better time. At one point they were selling for 2.5 million in Dodixie. Small rigs. I kid you not.

I've been branching out and researching more markets as I go along. Industry is going to be my mains background source of cash while PI and mining remain on the alt. Hopefully I'll be able to bring them together to push some form of T2 production, even if only for my own supply.

I feel oddly guilty about all this industry experimentation but it is all designed to get me into combat ships more often in the New Year. I have done some flying. Well I've done some exploding anyway. I went grave robbing in Old Man Star after missing the CCP fleet. I think I came away after two ship losses with about 14 million in profit. I didn't kill anything of note, just one guy in a noob ship whose character name annoyed me into activating the guns.

Money, money, money. I'm fISKated. At one point I found myself hanging outside a trade hub scooping up  the drones after fights and running away. I reckon there are millions to be made there on a busy night. I'll be trying it again. Given the tactics look out for a ship called Kingfisher or, more likely, Magpie.

Abandoning the lust for cash I tried out the Algos. I scanned down an easy  Serpentis site and warped in with my alt who could mine the area out. I found the site already active. Oddly though the pilots involved were just mining out the first room and had ignored the second. I sent my alt back and went to test out the drones in PVE. I'd heard some bad things about the AI upgrade. Sure enough the drones took a lot of aggro and I had to return one of them which was taking a pounding but I managed to clear the area. I then cleaned up by dropping a full group of salvage drones and cleaned out the place in record time. As a bonus a rare Serpentis ship spawned (not that I noticed at the time, I was managing drone combat) and dropped a Low Grade Snake Beta implant. I managed to sell the implant for 33 million. More dosh. Speaking of salvage drones, take one with you instead of one of your combat drones when hisec mining, you won't regret it.

Why am I going on and on about cash? It kept me busy, my own greed for pixel pennies seems to entertain me, and even more amusingly I was doing nothing you couldn't have done with a character that was a month or two old. No extreme combat, I've only got Production Efficiency IV, and you can start making a profit out of building rigs with some very basic trade skills and no material research at all if you pick the right ones.

Now that all that cash grinding is done, it is time to start fitting some ships and getting into some scraps. Retribution has raised the number of active pilots online (100+ in Algogille is no longer unusual for example) and caused them to fight more. The new Crimewatch is excellent. The new graphics are excellent. The camera control is excellent (and takes the hassle out of dscan, OMG the dscan ease). T1 ships are excellent. It's basically all good. Over the next couple of weeks I should build up an array of frigates, destroyers and cruisers to be very, very bad at PVP in, hopefully including a couple of the odd ideas I had before the expansion came out.

EVE Track of the Day

None. Don't talk to me about tunes stuck in my head all day. Ok?

Friday, 30 November 2012

Day 160 : Milestones & Millstones

I got an in game mail the other day from a pilot named E’dyn. Apparently the blog had inspired him to “get of his lazy ass and start doing things myself”. It’s great to hear that someone actually reads (and enjoys) the stuff I pour out but in this case it was doubly welcome because I realised that I too had once again been sat on my lazy ass.

Again I'd fallen into the "future trap" where either the skill queue or long term plans caused me to pause any other activities I wanted to pursue. Looking for the cause my suspicion fell instantly on my old foe the skill queue, particularly when I’m involved in managing the grind to escape the Noob Tax (see day 157). When I thought about it further I realised that it wasn’t just the skill queue, but actual plans that were underway and another trap I’ve invented for myself, the Milestone.

I’ve done this before in games where I think “If I can just do X then I can mark that off as doable in future if I need to”. The main milestone I had in mind was reaching that figure of a billion ISK. This is a hilariously bad milestone partly since my easiest source of income stems from mining so I end up doing a lot of that, and msly because all the ISK building up could be in the market working for me and I’m not doing that. I don’t mind mining, I tend to get a lot done both in game and reading outside the game while doing it. Multiple monitors is a must since T2 strip miners are going to need a target swap on most runs and I find ALT-TABing around multiple screens to be annoying. I end up planning a lot while mining, so it becomes a kind of milestone feedback loop, generally adding new plans or further milestones to an already stupid one. For example: the cost/benefit analysis, after the Retribution launch, of running with a couple of salvage drones vs a couple of mining drones and leaving defence to just three scout drones. It depends on the spawn rate of rats and how many mining drones you lose (since the favourite meal of a rat is apparently a mining drone).

Another milestone was invention. I want to produce a T2 blueprint by myself. This would probably end up being uneconomic for actual production with my current skills but I wanted to produce it nonetheless. This became entwined with yet another milestone: setting up a research POS. The POS wouldn’t be necessary for a one of invention job, its easy enough to find hi sec slots for both this and blueprint copying. Being an obsessive however means that I like to do things myself and in this case add some sweet, sweet Material Efficiency into the mix. If you've ever tried to do ME research on a blueprint, you'll have seen the queues for the NPC station slots. Need I say more? Ok. I wanted my own space station. It doesn't have to do anything, it just has to be there.
All this led to a standings grind to 6.0 so I could anchor a POS in 0.6 space. 

At one point during this grind I decided an easy gain would be to repeat the Sisters of EVE Epic Arc, which you can do once every three months. This would be a) less boring that hammering level III distribution missions, b) safer than level 4 security missions and c) fast d) full of easy rewards and e) cheaper than buying the more expensive Serpentis tags. In the end I sped through the entire arc without really following the story. Most of the opponents were alpha’d from a full rack meta 4 rail fit Catalyst. Until the last mission, I hardly had to move once in deadspace. It was a waste since I treated the entire thing as a grind which when playing a game for enjoyment is equivalent to doing nothing at all.

Yet another milestone involved with standings grinds involves getting to 8.0 with someone so they’ll allow me to store a jump clone. A jump clone would take my mind off losing any implants if I went on another RvB ganked roam or spent a weekend roaming around low sec. I’ve been delaying PVP until I get it. Massive error. Since I only have +3 implants, and only two of those due to the Perception/Willpower focus following Noob Tax, the loss wouldn’t be that much at all. Certainly not enough to stop me doing things as I have. Idiot.

So can I escape these milestones turned to millstones around my neck? Not really. It’s in my nature to plan ahead like this and EVE as a game encourages you to do so. I enjoy reaching the milestones so why should I stop, however uneconomical or pointless? The real answer is to enjoy the journey, look around, do stuff on the way there, spend a little more time getting there in order to make the trip more interesting. Basically I need to go out and shoot stuff more, in ever crazier fit ships.

Plans for the future then :

  • Convert rocks into oodles of ISK
  • Invent a T2 blueprint
  • Anchor a POS
  • Get a jump clone
  • Ignore all the above and lurk in low sec in northern Essence looking for easy kills. Come say hi.  Preferably in a really badly fit and fragile ship.

To this I’m adding :

  • Visit the EVE Gate
  • More exploration (both the seeing stuff type, and the “probe then hack that can and run” type)
  • Start Planetary Interaction trial runs on the alt instead of just thinking about it.
  • Try Ice Mining (also uneconomical for me at the moment and even duller than rock mining but it has to be tried at least once.)
  • I may also try some ninja salvaging. I want to try this with salvaging drones after the 4th but that would just mean I’ve found another reason to put off something I can do now.

Along with my long running “scheme”:

Making stuff. Half of this is just the achievement of building things myself, collecting  BPO’s (my addiction), and marshalling the materials through the market (mining currently just being treated as raw ISK input). I like doing this but the way I feel about it has been covered recently, and more entertainingly, here I’m a long way from making my own Orca but I’ll get there. I build my own frigates and destroyers. I am looking forward to building the new destroyers in Retribution and maybe even speculating on some useful modules to do with a couple of those destroyers and one of those frigates.

Finally, as you can tell from the above, I have a bag load of little plans and schemes to do with Retribution because when you’ve learned your lesson about sitting around waiting for the fruition of future plans what you really want to be doing is making more plans for an expansion that you can sit down and have a good wait for.

I’d be interested to hear of other plan style traps anyone else has fallen into. If it turns out that it is just me that does this then I can crawl back under my rock and never talk about planning ahead again.

EVE Track of the Day

The Importance of Being Idle - Oasis

NOTE : This is day 160 written from 169. It’s been a busy old time and I need to catch up on the blogging.

PS. For future reference when I say “planning ahead” with reference to myself it probably means “Don’t do today what you could put off until tomorrow or indeed so far away it won’t fit on a calendar”.

PPS.  Cheers to E’dyn for returning the favour of provoking the getting off of lazy asses.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Day 157 : It's The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)

TL;DR : I had to say something, it wouldn’t get out of my damn head.

I commonly spend lunchtimes reading around the internet. Actually I used to spend lunchtimes reading around the internet. Now I spend lunchtimes keeping up with EVE blogs. I start out with the blog list I keep on this blog and then whenever there is spare time I try to follow a link to a blog I don’t know about. This has swiftly got out of control and I’m having to actively speed read and even skip posts I feel might not have any relevance to me. I even skipped the entire Blog Banter on e-sports because I had no real opinion on it so it saved a lot of time. I skimmed the entries but still couldn’t form enough of an opinion for a post.

Anyway, I was reading aroud when I came across Marc Scaurus post on  describing how the EVE Blog Pack ( and the blogging award called the Eeebees ( had come to be  neglected due to time constraints. The post was entitled “The Future of the Community” and outlined what a useful resource the blog pack was and yet how it needed constant input to remain valid. I’ve an interest in this since the EVE Blog Pack was both an inspiration and a launch point for my reading and writing about EVE. I’d like to see it survive.

A conversation in the comments of the post above led to a typically entertaining explosively styled blog post by Rixx Javix on EVEOGANDA. This claimed that had killed the EVE community, highlighting recent drops in blog entries and some other long term blogs going dark. It’s a great style for getting a discussion started, it energises people into getting involved when they might otherwise have passed over a dry approach of the topic. It’s like using a forest fire to promote new growth but that once out of control just burns the entire place down. Rixx’s premise drew on Marc’s role as a writer for to get started. Marc took opposition and fired back. Blog war. Kind of sad to see two excellent writers knocking chunks out of each other. Hang on. I think they are both great but pass the popcorn.

Seismic Stan over on Freebooted has a summary of all the posts culminating both Rixx and Marc on in the Podside cast.

So why I am posting about this? Shit that wouldn’t get out of my head that’s why. Brain dump time.

Community : as a youngling noob I have to say the EVE community is vibrant and amazing. It’s a struggle to play the actual game sometimes given the amount I spend reading blog posts, forums, dev posts, and Twitter. If it is in trouble now, what the hell was the community like before?

Bias : somewhere in the dim and distant past I picked up a degree in Medieval History and Archaeology. Yes. I have forgotten most of it. One of the few memories from studying history that doesn’t involve gigantic amounts of cheap lager was the lesson of assuming bias on the part of every writer. Bias doesn’t imply a conscious agenda but you must critically read everything. It’s all too hard to remember this given the fast paced, ephemeral nature of writing on the internet. I do it all the time. Accept bias and appreciate it, it’s at the core of any discussion. Read what you want and think what you want about it once you consider how the writer started thinking about it. : Accept the bias. It’s pretty good. There are some excellent articles on there, some very much so. Read with bias in mind. Competition is healthy too. It looks like the EN24 facelift was due to the launch of themittani. Mind you, I still can’t read EN24 in case I see the comments and despair for humanity. Once themittani
put the RSS feed link into the page headers instead of just as a link on the page I'll stick it in my blog reading list. Actually I'm just sore that I posted the html for doing this in a comment on Jesters Trek and it got ignored. It's trivial. I've never even used Drupal and I bet I could sort it out in next to no time. All right. Enough of my I.T. based ranting.

Blogs and other EVE metagame sources : However you can link the ones you like. Share. Comment. Add your opinion. The more channels out there spreading the word, the better. Even the Google algorithm prizes links appearing on more than one site than it does on a single site. They don’t call it the “web” for nothing. The more things to argue about, the better.

Expert opinion :  I’ll look forward to the future of a crowd sourced evebloggers and/or blog pack. I understand some people were wary of its nature as a source where the positions and awards were given out by a selected few. Anyone who ever said EVE was complicated can’t complain about this. You can ignore it as you see fit but I’ll look to experience when I am starting out in something. I’ll learn then move on from there under my own power once I’ve learned. I'll come back to the source to pick up even more. You don’t need to hold fast to its recommendations but it’s a great resource for those starting out on their first steps along the EVE web. Perhaps crowd sourced it will become something else, perhaps even drowned by certain null sec concerns. Support it if you can. Support it if you know stuff about EVE.

Finally I then read of a new plan by an old maintainer of the blog pack, a fascinating idea for a tool to enhance the community further. I read it as a kind of “Podbook”, an EVE dedicated version of the likes of facebook or twitter where all the links and chat would be gloriously EVE related. It turned out that the author had something more in mind when I commented on the entry.

Me? I’m an idiot and bloody minded enough to stay outside such a project just because I’ve been told that it will render me irrelevant. Consider me an independent and as a famous Independant once said “This is how it is. Anybody doesn't wanna fly with me any more, this is your port of harbor. There's a lot of fine ways to die. I ain't waiting for the Alliance to choose mine.“

Gosh. That was dull. I nearly didn’t write it but the thing has been giving me writers block and I had to keep coming back. Apologies for any boredom caused and apologies if the writing is a little patchy and ill-thought out. I basically had to get this stuff out of my head as fast as I could.

Resuming normal service (once I finish listening to the Podside cast).

EVE Track of the Day

It's The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine) - R.E.M.

Honestly, it was going to be Shiny Happy People, but this is EVE.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Day 150 : Noob Tax

I sometimes think that MMO players love to be victims, in particular victims of “nerfs”. By “nerfs” I mean anything that lessens their in game character in any way; rule changes, buffing of opponents or rivals, removal of income sources, and for some simply other people being better at the game than they are. It gives the player a chance to rant cathartic. To over dramatically let go the inner reservoir of tears before the dam gives way and they end up posting publicly about how things should be changed to restore them to an earlier god-like status. Don’t get me wrong, I do it too. I've done it before and I've only just done it again. I prefer to think of it as catharsis and have a laugh about it later. My favourites include the, usually drunken, WoW topic of conversation “which class to nerf into oblivion because they annoy me” and the schadenfreude following the nerf of some other class. I'd still be playing whatever game nerfed me, and I’d generally forget the rage within a short period of time and deal with it.

I've had my first experience of this MMO experience staple in EVE. Like everything with EVE it was more intense than with any other game and I’d like now, before I go on, to apologise to CCP Fozzie for telling Rixx Javix ( not to “feed the bear” on Twitter. I was laughing when I did it, but it had the ring of mania about it. I’m not apologising for the crack about the forums being 90% of Statler and Waldorf alts because I’ll need proof that this isn’t true first. So, soz Fozz’. I owe the bear a beer.

So what was it that caused this blaze of rage? It’s something I referred to in several places as a “noob tax”. It is the incoming change to Destroyer and Battlecruiser skills that will split them into four racial equivalents. I didn’t realise I had a  problem when I first heard of it, nor did I realise that the change wouldn’t happen on the 4th, with the expansion, but at some point soon after the launch.

I think I was pondering the future of my character, perhaps a stint in null further down the line, when I realised I’d have to have way more skills in ships to adapt to any fleet doctrines. It was then that I realised that on my current skill plan I was going to end up with at least seventy to eighty extra days skill learning to max out just Battlecruiser skills for the other three races. I’d of ended up with Gallente Battlecruiser V at best. You can add almost another month if I hadn’t learned Destroyers to maximum though in truth I’d have probably got to this before any change anyway. That’s a lot of time to consider when you it’s greater than 50% of your current characters entire life.  Hence the “noob tax” label and why I didn’t care that it made sense considering all the other types of ships were split along racial lines.

In the end though I’d found out from CCP way before it happened. There was an explicit warning to begin training up now if you didn’t want to lose out. I could only pretend to despair for my future skill plan since really I change it more often than I change my underwear. The only solution was to tool up and face the problem.

I brought out the skill planner in EVEMon and messed around with my plan for a while. I then created a new “emergency” plan and faffed around with that for a while. Finally I abandoned those plans and looked at just Battlecruisers. I picked its two SP contributing attributes, Perception and Willpower, and filtered all the skills in the Skill browser tab by this. I had decided that I would remap to learn Battlecruisers, and then use the specialised time to train whatever else I found under those attributes. I can only fit +3 implants, +4s are too expensive for my noobtastic loss rate anyway, but I do have three attribute remaps left.

When I looked at what EVEMon was suggesting it was kind of like a slow version of this


So in fact the "Noob Tax" is a massive excuse for me to specialise in training weaponry and, incidentally my favourite thing about the game, ships. Oh, the hardship, the pain. I should go pour some tears into the forums. Embarrassment is, like, totally OP, man. (EVEMon is also OP but don’t nerf that because it works for me..... Sound familiar?)

I'm still in a race. I might end up with all racial Battlecruisers at IV depending on how soon after the 4th the change comes in. I have a faint hope that CCP might reduce the Skill Rank of Battlecruisers and Cruisers by one each. On the upside, my skill plans are finally coming into focus. That focus is on guns, lots and lots of guns. If I don’t make it for the 4th then, well, I probably won’t notice all that much after all :

  • Salvage drones
  • New bounty system
  • Non labyrinthine Crimewatch system
  • Dead Orcas littering Uedama for months and months (I’ll get emailed by the WWF now)
  • New ship skins
  • New targeting and HUD revamp
  • Camera Tracking feature (goodbye camera spin migraine)
  • Frigate logistics
  • New mining frigate (possible upcoming post : how much trouble noobs can get into using a mining frigate)
  • New sound effects
  • 4 new Destroyers, one of which looks like a U-boat.

There is probably stuff I've missed. If I don’t make it to BC V across the board then I’ll be too busy enjoying myself to care.

TL;DR : noob rages, thinks, says sorry, starts arms race instead.

For those of you of a mind to read something epic that isn’t an epic rant by a noob then you should go and read TurAmarths summation of Blog Banter 39

I’m not just telling you because he has immortalised my immortal as it were. The imagination, dedication and flat out work that a summary of this length, quality and enthusiasm must have taken makes it a must read. o7 Tur’

EVE Track of the Day

Don’t Look Back in Anger - Oasis

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Day 142 : Gardes! Gardes!

Time today to launch into another attempt to do level 4 missions. I'd been flying around earlier completing the third set of career missions as a cheap and cheerful standings gain. I completed them all in an Atron and it was simple. I wish I had another set, I could complete them in a Velator. Full of this false confidence I picked up a level 4 mission and quickly prepped my Space Potato, the good ship "The Big Lebowski", for flight.

Mods : Check
Guns : Check
Ammo : Check
Sobriety : Amber warning light.... hmmm. Looks like the alcohol levels are low. Fuck it. I'll top up in flight.
Balls to toast 100 millions worth of ship on PVE content : Check (note : metaphorical ball checking)
Drones : Ch...  Shit.

I have an addiction to blueprints. After the first Dominix level 4 mission experiment and the ensuing conversations in the comments I became convinced that Sentry drones were the business. I had mental images of the Dominix sitting in the centre of these static drones, running its reppers and toasting everything apocalyptically automatically. These dreams were enough to justify purchasing the BPO for each type of Sentry drone. Quite a lot of cash but not the worst justification for buying a blueprint I ever had. I ran off 5 of each type and promptly left them somewhere that wasn't the drone hold of my Dominix. 

If you aren't a noob then you might want to look away now.

After picking them up I looked at the mission run down on eve-survival, noted that the required damage was EM or Thermal and stocked up with a range of Gallente drones, including the sentries called Gardes. Along with assuming that sentry drones were some PVE panacea I blindly assumed that all sentry drones were roughly equivalent bar the racial damage. It turns out that nothing could be further from the truth. 

NameDamage TypeDamage ModifierTrackingOptimalFalloffMain Defence
Bouncer IExplosive1.40.0140km35kmShield
Curator IEM1.30.0235km20kmArmour
Garde IThermal1.60.0320km10kmArmour
Warden IKinetic1.20.0150km25kmShield

The rest of the stats are pretty much the same, hopefully. Not sure why I've included the Main Defence since I've not worked out whether or not they'll pick up any mitigation from my skills.

Firstly look at the tracking. Its low. It's even worse if you realise my noob fit Space Potato doesn't have any Omnidirectional Tracking links fitted since I swap out drone types for enemy types. Basically without modding you are looking at tracking enough to take out BC/BS equivalents, maybe cruisers. Frigates are going to slip under your tracking and eat you alive, like mosquitoes on a fat bloke sun bathing.

Secondly look at range, particularly the Garde range. So much for always having a blaster at your side. Damn Gallente and their blaster addiction. Once you glance at the stats it's easy to see where the various sentry drone roles are and that there are cases where you aren't going to be able to use them at all. It boils down to simple range/target speed trade offs and keeping your fingers crossed that that particular damage type isn't heavily resisted.

I was lucky that I realised this within a minute of deploying Gardes which by then had commenced to do absolutely zero damage. I started to shout for them. Nothing. I started to shout at them. Still nothing. I named them for characters in the book "Guards! Guards!". Nothing, nowt, zip, sweet FA. Luckily the faithful Space Potato (that ship is getting renamed) laughed off the damage. I could have read the book "Guards! Guards!" while the ship sat there. Drones getting out gunned by my shoddy Large Hybrid Turret III skills. The shame. I realised my error and unshipped some "spritely" Ogres, later swapping those out for Hammerheads which were a lot less dull to fly around and could still handle the content.

Later a situation arose where my sentries would actually be handy. Dropped into the right situation they are indeed pretty devastating. I can imagine that the longer range sentries would have been amazing in my first level 4 mission where I had BC and BS maintaining 30-60k ranges. I am sort of glad I didn't have them, it might have been too easy and so, too boring. I'll stick with a mix of drones and fly heavy drones when I am unsure. At least I don't have to go running after them to pick them up.

So it looks as if Sentries aren't the be all and end all of slow boat PVE clearance. In the end I am just glad I figured it out and got another lesson about pre-flight prep. Read, Know, Then Go. From my response to flying Ogres around I am glad sentry drones don't fit all roles. It looks like my boredom threshold can't cope with minimal interaction mission running, neither can it cope with the headache of shepherding NPC enemies around strategically placed sentries and then having to go back to collect said sentries.

I went on with the level 4 missions since it turned out to be a chain of 5. I was bored by the end of the fourth which I found you could decline and get a courier job in place of it to still complete the chain. I make that six level 4's completed now. So far the most entertaining has been the first which I've described elsewhere and the third here which involved blowing up drone mines. Each time you gunned one down they'd explode, damaging everything in a wide radius and then spit out four cruiser level drones. I knew about the explosion so I didn't lose any small drones and later in the mission it was a laugh just to start filling the area with drones and seeing how many I could take on. I ran out of mines.

Back to level 3 missions for a while I think, I've forgotten when my next storyline is turning up and I don't want to be handed some low sec level 4 that isn't completed by shouting "come on in and gank me!" in Local.