Saturday, 30 June 2012

Day 15 : Can Flipper Mardi Gras

Up early again. Insomnia all damn week. I don't need to be getting up at 6.30am, after 5 hours sleep, on a Saturday.

Zombified, I launch the Vexor and go mining. I start it up and go make a cup of tea. When I get back I'm vaguely amused to see a cargo hauler has nipped in and made off with my first minute of ore. He jumps out before I can do anything. I've no weapons on the Vexor which is fully kitted for mining and before I can launch a ship he has left the system. A good job too.

I fit the Vexor with a gun to deter other flippers.

The second comes in later when I've got three minutes of ore in the cargo pod. I shoot back but one gun isn't going to cut it against a combat frigate geared for piracy. In fact I may be in trouble, I'm slow and lightly armed and taking some damage from the frigate. Luckily I have a warp stabiliser and so am able to warp out even though the frigate is attempting to jam my ability to do so. I'm mildly concerned by how fast the frigate was damaging my shields.

Returning to the station I lauch my destroyer. Its new and partially fitted since yesterdays accident in low sec space. Amusingly my can flipper friend is outside the station. I open up with the guns and a webifier and warp disrupter. The can flipper gets away but with all its shields and armour gone. It's a close thing and very nearly my first PVP kill. Against a player a year old too. Since the destoyer is an anti-frigate platform I'm not too boosted by it but I did manage the incoming damage better and I did get into combat better. I'm learning slowly but surely. One of these days I might actually get a kill. I spend a few minutes zipping across the system trying to find my enemy but space is big. I need combat probes for scanning down ships but the lauchers are CPU intensive and I'd have to manage that against the other stuff I am carrying. I need some safe points in the system to scan from too I think, somewhere to attack from. Something in between the regular warp points. More learning....

I spend the late morning and early afternoon faffing. A bit of mining, a bit of buying and go fetch stuff. The tennis on TV starts to distract me until I find out about

Apparently there is a tournament on in EVE and its streamed. I watch, after some technical delays on their part, and find myself too much of a noob to understand half of what is happening. Still it adds to the already packed summer sport schedule I am so enjoying! Some team just got pasted because they didn't plan for ECM, Electronic Counter Measures. These disrupt targetting and range and some speed up modifications. I don't know how you counter ECM, I guess you bring your own to the party and it evens out.

The whole of the fight is bewildering. Like watching a sport you know about but know none of the rules. Again I find out that there is tons to learn. Amusingly most of the fights remind me of the Battlestar Gallactica remake. This isn't the first time this has happened.

Anyway, my Rifter is now ready. I ran all over the place buying bits and bobs for it to equip it as a passively shield tanked (ie I don't have to click anything) raider. I undock ready to head to the 0.6 system Silvala which is a quiet lower sec system in which I've been mining some ore thats used in ship building but which I can't get in Gallente space.

I spend 20 minutes looking at the ship. How cool is this! A fast gun and missile toting frigate with rough looks and brutal orange engine jets. I've named it the General Lee. Turning the afterburner on brings ooohs and ahhhs of appreciation. I'm such a soft loser geek noob.

In Silvala I find things not so quiet. Half of the universe seems to have rocked up for large scale mining ops. The belts were always chock full of rocks compared to 0.9 space but this is ridiculous. Every belt has some operation going on with 3 or more large ships. Wrecks of computer controlled rats dot the area on my Overview. Fortunately there are a couple of rock belts that haven't yet been cleared and I spend a couple of minutes verifying that the Rifters lousy DPS doesn't reflect actual performance. Its a cool ship. It packs Minmatar weaponry which basically means big cannons and machine guns that look cool. It's also packing a missile launcher which makes for nice fireworks. Knowing EVE I'll probably lose the General Lee soon. Thats ok - I can build others thanks to my random acts the other night.

Over two weeks in and if anything the obsession with this game is growing. For the first time ever in playing a game I'm highly tempted to make a video.

Friday, 29 June 2012

Day 14 : Highs and Lows. Well, lows anyway

A couple of mistakes made before day 14 even gets started.

1) The nearest mining barge I can get isn't 38 million, its around 5 million. The Procurer is the baby brother of the other mining barges. Still able to equip a Strip Mining laser but smaller with less space for cargo and other, possibly life saving, mods. It'll take me four days to get the necessary skills to pilot one without the faffing around with Minmatar frigate piloting that I'll undoubtedly engage in anyway. It all sounds good right? Along the way to realising my mistake I also realised it would take over 45 DAYS to train the skills for the large mining barges. I'm going to be jet canning for a while.

2) During the break in the football last night I sent a shuttle down into Minmatar space where I've never been before. After the football I jumped it on manual through a couple of dodgy systems to a station where they were selling a blueprint for the Rifter, the Minmatar frigate I'm so interested in. I spent 2.5 million on this and then flew it back, in a shuttle, through the same dodgy systems like an idiot. I have no idea why I did this but in the middle of the night I woke up, felt sick and dizzy and threw up. I'm thinking the illness came first and made me do some odd things. I had better check yesterdays blog entry. The alternative theory, god forbid, is that doing something stupid in EVE causes me to throw up a few hours later. Worrying for both the level of involvement this would indicate and for the fact that I'm going to be throwing up a lot in future.

The bonus for the hairbrained trek across space was that one of the dodgy systems I ran through had a "Factional Warfare" status showing. I've got to look into it but it looks like I can get involved in the various wars between the four factions. Something for much later, maybe in a corporation. First of all I need to do some exploration and I don't want peoples navies shooting at me everytime I jump through a gate.

What am I doing tonight? Mining again of course! I was just getting comfortable again when I spent 2.5 million on something I didn't technically need, but that I just wanted. Maybe I'll branch out and try some low-sec mining. If I go armed there are bounties available on the rats in the asteroid belts. I've only just figured out how to track when these get paid to me, some payment history charts off the main wallet screen. It's not much but it more than pays for ammo. I'm also aiming at mining for particular minerals so I can use my expensive toy blueprint to actually build something. At least one of the minerals involved is going to involve a trip into low sec space, and probably a ship loss.

By the evening I need something keep me awake. I get bored of mining and go nosing around 0.4 space in search of interesting ore. I don't find any, I find a couple of rats and blow them out the skies. Then a battlecruiser pops out of nowhere and turns me into flying toast within about 20 seconds. It could have been minutes but compressed down by terror. At least I don't have to fly home - she has podded me too. Back to the backup clone. Sigh. Thanks Friday night. Well. At least I've been through the experience, and damn it was fast. Had my reactions been at normal levels I'd have still got a pasting, but I might have got in close enough to cause some trouble. Maybe. Well - thats the name of the game. At least I survived as long as I did!

I actually feel like I'm in EVE now. I've seen the brutality. I'll be staying out of low sec for a good long while though. This might be a bad overreaction on my part.

Oh yeah - and I'm in this game for the long run now. I have a favour to pay back. The bitch has a 40 million bounty on her head.

UPDATE: late on I got curious. It killed the cat, so I decide on an Atron class fighter I've never used before but happen to have a copy of. I stick a couple of spare guns on it, a speed increasing low power unit and a microwarp drive. I round it out with a shield and a repair unit just because that's all there is in my hangar. I jump back to the system where I saw the person who fragged me.

A couple of computer controlled opponents attack but it turns out they can't handle the Atron's speed and I zoom around them and kill them in a series of small bites. This is exhilarating but not as exhilarating as finding my opponent hanging in space 125km from the asteroid belt. I've bookmarked some safe warp locations and head back out to them, crisscrossing the asteroid field and she warps out. I think at first that she thinks I'm scouting or making a tempting target for a revenge squad.

She then warps back in using an Atron herself! At this point I play chicken again. I'd engage but I've stuck cheap shitty guns on. I dock at the local station. I'll be back and the Atron will be tooled up. In a bizzare turn of fate Spotify decides to play the Top Gun "Danger Zone" cheese track during the encounter. The Atron will be named "Maverick". I enjoyed that bit. I'll be back. Sporting of her, but I'm only 14 days old, and just not ready. /salute Saeline. As they say where I come from.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Day 13 : Hot or Not

"It's hot. Damn hot! Real hot! Hottest things is my shorts. I could cook things in it...."

First really hot day in London today. 28 degrees and air like soup strained through a sock.

It's also the first day I actually write something on the blog that is up to date. Its today today! I wonder if I can keep this up, will posts become stale and chore-like?

Anyway, back to the main theme. EVE. What have I done? Nowt. I went mining this morning. I can earn a million in half an hour by blasting the crap out of Plagioclase asteroids but I'm mining that fast that I keep having to have a look at it. See the screenshots.

Back in the evening, after work, I'm lethargic and sweaty. This morning I was so full of ideas I lost count of the lengths I'd swam in the pool. Ended up having to swim to a deadline. That's the problem with trying to swim forty lengths a day. Swimming is conductive to thinking. I've been thinking a lot. About EVE. It saves on thinking about crap that I should be thinking about like life, work, being single, trying to stop smoking.

I've lost the main theme but you know my character a bit by now. You know I'm anal about the bank balance. You know I haven't yet expended any energy on intelligence to earn cash through the market, yet. You know I've chickened out of PVP thinking "just one more skill". You know I'm going mining. Right?

On the other hand Italy are having a shocking time in defence against Germany, I might go watch that. I'm no big fan of Germany as a football team but you have to recognise class when you see it. Fingers crossed for a Pirlo miracle. I hope it doesn't go to penalties like last night ( though I did enjoy Ramos dinking his penalty, probably to show off after what Pirlo did against England ).

Not much EVE news here is there? You're going to have a few quiet days. The skills are still ticking over. Calm down. More soon.

PS - 40 mins later it's Super Mario's night

Day 12 : Skint

Its time to buy the Cruiser. The Gallente entry level cruiser is a model called the Vexor. I can pick one up for 7 million without shopping around, or ordering one from anyone building them. I've got nearly 9 million saved. I buy the Vexor. I've forgotten about insurance. I insure the Vexor. I now have only 200K. Starter money. I feel very very poor.

I see the Vexor has a mining bonus. Only 10% but it gives it some utility. It also has four hardpoints and space for as many drones as I can fly. Five minutes later I'm sat out in the asteroid belt with four mining lasers going at full tilt and 3 mining drones joining in. I'm having to empty the bay every 3 minutes or so. Fortunately Spain vs Portugal is not turning out to be the corker of a match I thought it would. I can safely turn away while Spain do a bad tactical job and Portugal fail to take advantage of it.

It looks like I can mine around a million ISK worth of ore in half an hour. I run this twice during the match. When extra time is over, I watch the penalties keenly. Its the most exciting part of the match. Thats not saying much though. I'm going to stick on an episode of Game of Thrones after it and get EVE to do some work that isn't mining for a change.

Remembering some browsing the market up in Jita I stick a packaged frigate in my Cargo Hauler and tell it to head to Jita on autopilot. I look up later and its there. Sure enough a 30K frigate ( that I can actually make myself ) is selling for 120K. Once again I'm reminded that I need a bigger hauler. Carrying one frigate at a time and coming back empty is about a hundred times slower at generating cash than mining. I need to look at the market for stuff I can haul in bulk now, rather than getting a bigger hauler and carrying big items.

It leaves me umming and ahhing about the next skill path to take. There is some crossover but in the end I go for mining. The next major ship buy should be a mining barge. I think the cheapest I've seen is 38 million or something crazy...

Day 11 : Constitutionalised

First day no play! Pub Club day. No EVE at all. Off for a night of sitting around with friends in the beer garden of the Constitution in Camden. EVE is good. But it is not that good.

Day 10 : Just Another Mining Monday

 I need seven million ISK. The best way to get this without expending any further cash on cargoes or ammo is the mining. I'm going to be mining tonight. The skills required for Cruiser piloting are nearly there so theres not much I can do about the training queue apart from worry that my skills are too widely spread. I think I should have specialised early on, and gone back to cover other skills later. Maybe that would have involved making a decision.

I already know I'm going to deviate from the skills plan soon. This is just so I can pilot the cool frigate class "Rifter". Its a Minmatar ship so I'll miss out on the 5% damage bonus per skill level because I'll be using Gallente weapons and not Minmatar ones. Who cares? The nearest Gallente equivalent requires me to use missles as well as my normal guns so I've already trained them. It looks cool too. Why a space ship would need huge intakes on the front of it I don't know, but it works. I've a suspicion I can make a trade out of selling them too when I get better cargo hauling skills.

Anyway. Back to mining. Its a choice between slow mining with no interactions and the danger of getting attacked for being an AFK miner, or faster mining with interaction every 4 or 5 minutes to transfer the contents of the cargo hold. I choose fast mining and find a way of sitting so I can watch the TV and yet have the cargo bay in my peripheral vision. I can flick the mouse to transfer cargo from here. I must get this installed on a laptop. At least I still have the Warcraft born grind mentality that I've discussed before. Its no problem compared to that. Might as well keep that mentality exercised in case I fall back into the WoW trap.

Day 9 : Space Hangover

I wake up at 1pm after getting in at 5am. One way to defeat insomnia refusing to give you 8 hours sleep is to get really, really drunk and stay awake for 23 hours. So drunk in fact that you don't notice you are that drunk until the rain starts hammering down on the way home and sobers you up. Luckily not so drunk that I don't pick up a couple of bottles of Irn Bru from the 24hr garage on the way home. Its time to drink these and play EVE.

There is an interlude here where in fact I am too hungover to get out of bed. I watch a couple of episodes of Stargate Universe on the PVR and go shopping to prove to myself that I've done at least one thing with my Sunday. This means I am allowed to do f*ck all with the rest of it.

Back in EVE I log into a Vent server (like Skype for gamers) and talk to my friend the old WoW guild leader who has given in and is trying the free trial I sent him. I didn't think it was his kind of thing apart from the prospect of the market which he does like playing in WoW and SWTOR. It entertains me for a couple of hours hearing him rant and shout at the built in tutorial. To be honest the initial tutorial mode is hell if you've played a game before. One jump forward beyond the tutorial instructions using your familiarity with gaming and you are lost. Best to pretend to be an MMO noob as well as an EVE noob. In the process of enjoying his rants I get to track him down and follow him from system to system which is handy navigation practice.

England are playing in Euro 2012 tonight. They'll be going out but I'm going to watch it anyway. It turns into the usual denial on penalties. This isn't a shock and it was almost worth it to see Andrea Pirlo's penalty chip shot.

All through the football there is the distant sound of a cargo hauler orbiting an asteroid with a single mining laser grinding me some cash. Screw the England football team. I need ISK!

Day 8 : Faffing on the Weekend

Up at 6 am. On a Saturday. I've got a party to go to tonight so I'm going to take it easy all day. You know what that means.

Initially, probably because of waking up at such a stupid time, I'm a bit jaded. I've done a whole week now, I've not had the guts to throw myself into PVP or anything. I'm still loitering around in hi-sec space learning stuff slowly and being a noob.

Cup of tea and a cigarette later I'm a bit more optimistic and start coming up with a list of things I'd like to do

  • Try PVP. I've got some spare basic frigates. I don't mind if they get destroyed
  • Aim for the next ship bracket - the Cruiser class. I'll need to re-order the skills I'm learning. Its about 7 million for the ship. I've got some work to do.
  • Trade and Manufacturing. I need to investigate these and try and figure out what makes a good trade route. First thing to do is to travel around and look at stuff. I could check one of the aggregator sites but I'm trying to do this thing from first principles.
  • Try low-sec space, try mining and maybe some of the PVE stuff there.
  • Join a corporation and get involved in whatever they are up to. I don't want to go cap-in-hand though. I'm also enjoying discovering and learning without constant prompts or the need to get a particular thing done.

  • Thinking of PVP I figure I can make the simple frigates if I get a ready supply of a certain type of mineral. It doesn't crop up in the region I'm in, but it does crop up just across the border. Just to make it more entertaining I choose a 0.6 system and move a destroyer and a hauler up there. I spend a few hours being amused at how easy this is. Additionally I have a Salvager unit fitted to the destroyer so I can scan the wrecks of the computer controlled ore pirates and maybe get something of value out of em.

    Around this time an odd ship warps into the asteroid field, empties my cargo cannister, and proceeds to circle me. He's now red flagged. I can attack him and the police won't bother me. He is highly confident though - floating closer and closer before orbiting round. Basically he is taunting me. I think this means he is either a) suicidal b) very good at what he does or c) has a bunch of cloaked pals just waiting to pop out and gank me. I back off. This kind of scrapping can be tried with a cheaper ship.

    Since its getting around lunchtime and I have a couple of other things to do, I set the autopilot for Jita then the ship can travel while I do stuff. Theres nothing low sec enough in the way to make this particularly dangerous. Once I get there I spend an hour or so gaping at the number, size and variety of ships. I see one huge Amarr transporter that looks like the Rebel troop transporters from Empire Strikes Back. Up close my ship is tiny.

    A word here about nationalities. I was going to say "space nationalities" but thats the solution from every failure of imagination sci-fi script ever. Put "space" in front of it. "Space flu", "space goats", "space zombies", "space nazis", "space Y fronts", etc, etc, etc.

    There seem to be four main nationalities you can choose from that have their own distinctive ship styles, right down to engine exhaust and weapon preferences. Gallente have organic looking ships, Minmatar have cool ships that look like they were cobbled together in a rust belt warehouse, Caldari ships are brutal purposeful looking heavy metal, Amarr ships all look like they are related to woodlice.

    From: - also a good read.

    I quickly come to the conclusion that the Caldari, who run this Jita place, are "space nazis". I know, I know, I said I wouldn't do that. I don't like em. I think I'm being soft. While we are at it, I don't like the Amarr either, mainly because their flavour text mentions they are an empire and they are slave traders, and their people have no freedom. They are "space anal-retentives". I did it again.

    Back to Gallente (cool, democratic, and care bear enough for my EVE wimpiness) space. I should have played Minmatar who basically boil down to "space Mad Max".

    Mucking around in a safe system, practicing scanning (manipulating a 3D map of objects in a 2D medium takes some practice - more on scanning when I get better at it) I find a wormhole. A wormhole is a hole in space linking one system to another. The other system could be far far away. Wormholes are prone to shutting down after so much traffic has been through them. The people in the "Rookie" chat channel advise two things. 1) Don't go in it and 2) if you do - bookmark the exit. I'm not having any of (1) after backing down from PVP this morning. I use my smallest, cheapest ship and jump through the wormhole. I find myself in a system with only an alphanumeric designation, no human parsed name. I sit there for a few minutes to see if anything happens. Nothing does. This is more worrying than the alternative. Theres not much I can achieve in a small ship so I go back to get a larger craft. When I return the wormhole has vanished, so I probably only just saved myself a long long trip home.

    Now its getting to the evening and I'm heading to the pub and later a party. Not a "space pub" or a "space party" thank god.

    Wednesday, 27 June 2012

    Day Six : Knackered Logistics

    Thanks to yesterdays insomnia I am so tired it is painful. I can't be arsed doing much. I send out the Hot Dog to mine and have a nap and wait for the footie to come on TV

    When I've woken up again I've thought two things

    1) I'm never in the Couster system yet most of my ships are. I need to bring them all one jump down to Algogille. How?

    2) The Hot Dog is the most rubbish mining ship ever. No drone space, one space for a mining laser and no bonuses.

    For the moving of ships I figure I can buy a cheap shuttle, use it to get to Couster and either just leave it or reprocess it. I have a second Iteron class cargo hauler there so I could bring all the shuttles back at the end - the cargo hauler could take 9 of them with some boosted cargo space.

    I don't like the thought of buying shuttles all the time. So I check the blueprint in the market, find out I've got enough minerals to make loads of them. I could make more by mining and refining for five minutes. I buy the blueprint and get the local station making me some shuttles. Once thats done I spend 20 minutes zipping back and forth till all my assets are in one station. I go back once for all the shuttles. Move done.

    Once thats done I check out the original frigate type - the Navitas class. It looks like a cross between a futuristic motorbike and a fish. It does have space for one drone and two hardpoints where I can place weapons or mining lasers. I've learned the skill of running mining drones and my mining skill is higher than it was a couple of days ago. The Navitas class of ship also gives you a bonus to mining yields (20% for every cycle of the laser). It has less than 10% of the cargo hold space as the hauler though. Time to try "jet canning".

    I equip the Navitas with two mining lasers and a mining drone. I fly out to an asteroid field. Its fairly quiet so there are valuable rocks that no one else is mining. PVP is all I have to worry about, no game generated pirates will appear in 0.9 security space. PVP probably won't happen since the cops would descend like a ton of bricks on anyone starting it. 

    I lock onto a rock with the highest cash ore. I train the drone and the two lasers on it. Within minutes the cargo hold is full. I'm mining at least 5 times faster than in the Hot Dog.

    Instead of going back and forth to the station I jettison the ore. This makes it appear in a cargo container that will vanish in a couple of hours if I don't do anything with it. I mine the rock again. As the cargo hold on the frigate fills up I just transfer it to the cargo container. The container can hold stupid amounts. Once it is holding what the Hot Dog can haul I bookmark the location of the container, warp back to the station, switch to the Hot Dog, launch it, and use the bookmark to warp directly back to the location of the container. Thankfully no one has robbed me. I transfer the contents to the Hot Dog, warp back to the station and flog the ore. 700,000 credits in half an hour or so. The penalty being that you need to manually transfer the ore to the container (as far as I can see - I need to investigate more) so you can't just let it run and sod off and do real life stuff as I did the other morning.

    Flushed with profit I buy a new Destroyer that I'm going to try mining with somewhere more dodgy (and yet still fairly safe). Its a few jumps down the line to pick it up. The shuttle can't hold much but it can hold enough for two cargo bay extensions. I fly the shuttle to where the new Destroyer is, activate the Destroyer and fit it with the cargo pods. It can now just about hold a packaged shuttle. I store the shuttle in the Destroyer and fly it back. I name the new Destroyer "Rockbitch" in honour of its intended task.

    Day 6 done. I'm too knackered to do much in the morning still so in a fit of evil I send invites to 21 day free trials to three friends. Just before the weekend. Evil. Maybe EVE is getting under my skin.

    Day Five : The Renumeration Fixation

    So - day 5 and I don't have much time at home. I'm grabbing something to eat and going round a friends house for a couple of hours.

    I jump into EVE and rename the large long Iteron class cargo hauler. Its now called "Hot Dog". I jump out from Couster (the backwater safe system you start doing missions in - there is only one jump gate out) to Algogille a safe 0.9 system that isn't that crowded and sits on the border with the Caldari zones. I'm a "Gallente", there are two other nation state equivalents.- 

    All my raw materials for manufacturing are already at Algogille. I send the Hot Dog out mining while I cook and eat tea. I grab and sell the ore. Before I go I take a look at ship I haven't really found a use for yet. A Frigate of the Tristan class, small but with more medium and high power slots than the other frigates I have. It turns out 2 of the high power slots can't take guns - they are launcher hardpoints. For a laugh I learn missle skills and kit it out with a missle launcher. The launchers look cool on the ship, it now looks more like a gunship. Missle performance is comedy at best but is different to firing guns at stuff. The Tristan class looks suited to a plan I haven't got to yet - exploring and scanning stuff and then scavenging what I can. Archaeology skill book being 900k has delayed this.

    Heres the Tristan class frigate (aka "The Fat Man"):

    Imagine it with two massive banks of missles on the two lower struts

    Eventually I name it the "Boss Hogg"

    Before I head out - I take a gamble. I send the Hot Dog out mining, orbiting an asteroid then minimize EVE and turn the monitor off. Its insured so the maximum I can lose is about 80k including the insurance cost.

    Two or so hours later : the ship is still there and there is 500K worth of ore in it. It'd be worth more refined if I had decent refining skills. Which I don't.

    I sell the ore and check my wallet. I have around 52 MILLION credits. I also have an in game email from my cousin who I told not to send me money. He said the game was hard enough without having no cash. I'd been thinking that was part of the thrill. Unlike say WoW where no cash at the start is irritating, no cash at the start of EVE is scary. Scary is good.

    I go to bed a bit deflated by this windfall.

    By morning my plans and schemes have been rebooted thanks to insomnia making me stare at the ceiling for 3 hours during the night. Who cares about the 50 mill? I was basically going to grind that as I learnt new skills (you queue them and learn them over time, even when logged out). The WoW mentality of grinding is still with me. I can still do that and refine the minerals for the crafting I've got planned! In the end I decide to keep the 50 million but never spend it unless I'm gunned down to zero cash at some point and can't face restarting all over. From now on I'll leave it out of my calculations.

    I razz the 800K I made yesterday on skill books and queue them up. I've so many plans I'm turning into an all rounder. I might as well get as many skills to level 1 as I can. I'm tempted by 900k Archaeology simply because I want it. It brings me close to the 50 million that I now think of as something between venture capital funds and an emergency fund. Basic skillbooks, the items that allow you to start learning a particular skill, are cheaper back in the Couster system at the naval training academy. Presumably this is because everyone starts there and the market is big. Once I get all the basics I need to move my ships one by one (packed into a cargo hauler) to the next system down, Algogille. It has more links via jump gates. Theres a 0.6 security system only 3 jumps from it, thanks to it sitting next to the border maybe. Mining and exploration there will be the next experiment.

    Plans for the weekend:

    Earn 900k mining while watching Game of Thrones. Buy Archaeology and other exploration skills and head out in the Boss Hogg. Possibly in lower security space.

    Try "jet canning". Thats basically mining with a fast miner that has no cargo space and storing ore in a floating cannister. You then run to the station and come back with a hauler and pick it up. Someone might have nicked it though.....

    Build the frigates from the blueprint I have and send one of them to Jita, to have a look at this famous trade hub that go so blitzed I ended up playing this damn game.

    Possibly start a blog - say "Diaries of a Space Noob" ....

    Day Four

    After dreaming about it all night I caved and spent the tenner I saved yesterday by watching the England game at home and signed up for a full account. I had to pay a one off activation fee, the equivalent of buying the hardcopy of the game I suppose. SWTOR was about fifty quid. EVE was three quid. I kid you not.

    That was this morning and I had stuff to do so couldn't really go and do a lot with my brand new non-trial account. However since in EVE loads of stuff can just carry on without you I did the following:

    a) Learnt the skill for flying the cargo hauler I'd got. You can't learn this skill on a trial account. I had a shower while it was being learnt. It takes about twenty minutes for the first level of it, which is enough for now. Higher levels mean bigger versions of cargo haulers and access to other industrial skills.

    b) I insured the cargo hauler. This insures the ship, not the contents of the hold or anything it is fitted with afterwards. It just makes sure you can buy back a copy of the same ship should you "lose" it. I stuck a basic mining laser on it, a shield booster, a mining scanner and some extra cargo space. I jumped one system down and flew out to an asteroid field. I set the ship to orbit the best asteroid I could find using the scanner. The best asteroid at the moment being the one whose type of ore sells for the most. I turned the mining laser on, turned the sound up on the shield warning alarm. Then back in real life I buggered off and had breakfast and got sorted out for coming into work. When I was ready to leave I warped back to a station and flogged the ore. 400,000K ain't much but its a start! More scheming over the weeks to come.

    If you lose a ship its gone, and anything it is carrying. I think theres a chance some of the stuff it is carrying will survive so if you can get back to the location quickly, and avoid whatever gunned you down in the first place, I think you might be able to recover something. I'll probably have ample opportunities to find out. Mind you, my original enemy causing the problem would probably still be there.

    Technically the ship isn't your avatar. You can have loads of ships but you can only fly one at once so I guess out in space the ship is in reality kind of an avatar. Your avatar/character is actually some kind of uber clone that you sort out at the start of the game and that provides a face for forums and the mini thumbnail in some of the interaction windows.

    You could go bonkers on the Trade stuff. As soon as I went beyond a trial account it opened up not just the auctions on the market (I think these were available before) where its possible to do anything, but also "Contracts". Contracts are like giving other players missions - making stuff, mining stuff, transporting stuff. Its bloody insane. You can get scammed here as well if you are not careful. I don't think I'm even scratching the surface either.

    More tales soon. I'll probably be bored to death of it in a month!

    Day Three

    In which I complete the last of the EVE tutorials and am left to fend for myself in the dark dark world of EVE.

    EVE has an initial set of missions designed to teach you the basics of the basic lifestyles in EVE. Combat, ship control, mining, courier runs, and industry. At the same time you get used to the format of PVE missions in EVE and dealing with the Agents who offer such missions.

    I've already run into problems with these in the first two days. Attempting to complete the military missions chain without the basic gunnery mission chain led to a pathetically equipped Destroyer. The birth of the good ship Revenge, so there is an upside. I've since spent a lot of time preparing myself for the eventual demise of the Revenge too. I can sense the nature of this game. It is unforgiving, and the players in it hardened by this fact. I'm as likely to lose that ship owing to actions by a player reading this blog as by messing up in a PVE mission again. Hey ho.

    The final mission ends with being asked to build a ship for someone. There is a bonus reward for doing it in under six hours. Unfortunately all the manufacturing assembly lines in the base I'm currently docked at, and am calling 'home', are booked up for days. 

    If I go and build this ship somewhere else then I have no ship big enough to transport it back. I do have a ship, an Iteron class cargo hauler, that could transport it but I can't use it on a trial account (or I can't learn the skill to use it on a trial account anyway).  

    Then I discover that I can unfit all the elements of a ship and "package" it for transport even if I've used it before (this answers some of the question : how the hell do I move my ships to a different system). 

    I could buy a cheap shuttle and fly to the system where assembly lines are available, build one ship, fly it back, strip it and repackage it. I end up with a shuttle at the other port but what the hell right? Luckily from one of the earlier tutorials I have an extra copy of the ship type I need to build. I unfit and repackage it and complete the tutorial in 10 seconds. I now have a blueprint I can use to build 5 copies of the same type of ship in future. Thanks to the mission reward giving me another Iteron class ship I also have 2 industrial cargo haulers that I can't use. 

    I have a destroyer I can kit out with extra cargo holds and mining lasers in addition to guns to do mining in more dangerous systems. Each system in EVE has a security rating. It ranges from 1.0 down to 0.0 or even negative for all I know. Right now I'm not venturing lower than 0.5. Lower than that and there are no police ships. I could be attacked by any player who decides its a good idea and they won't have to pay the consequences. I'm still wary of PVP. I have no way of judging how it will go. I need to fit a cheap ship out for it, one I can afford to lose, and try it to at least have some frame of reference. Maybe later...

    I have a frigate that seems suited to fast combat and a frigate that seems suited to low level mining. I've a shuttle and (somewhere) my original tiny ship. I've enough cash to buy an extra destroyer so I can have one tooled up for mining and one for combat if I can't be bothered refitting every time. 

    I haven't even got into shield vs armour "tanking" methods for combat. I've found out that you can get remote repair systems and train in them - effectively making yourself a healer I think. A role from other MMO's that I'm familiar with. I'll avoid doing that here. 

    I need to go mining in lower security space to get the rarer ores to refine to get the minerals to make the frigates in the blueprint I just got. 

    haven't even joined a Corporation yet. A Corporation is like a guild in other MMO's except, typically in EVE, way more complex. 

    I'm thinking of paying a tenner to get a full account, learning how to pilot my cargo hauler, fitting a single mining laser on it, and leaving it mining while I watch the footie tonight (and keeping my fingers crossed it doesn't get blown out of the sky). There has to be an easy way to make initial amounts of cash for a mining barge, huge ships specialised in mining carrying mining equipment.

    I'm feeling flush with over 2 million credits and being able to afford a second Destroyer if I wish. Then I look at some ship prices. Then I hear that you can build outposts and capital ships that cost in the billions and take months to build....

    NOTE: this post, the last, and the next few have been grabbed wholesale from gibbering emails rapidly hammered out in the mornings before work and then sent to a few friends who also play MMO games. I'll try to improve on grammar and spelling once I get the backlog out. That's "try" as in "probably not".

    Tuesday, 26 June 2012

    Day One

    Day One originally happened on the 16th and 17th  June 2012. This blog is catching up. The following posts are as it happened.

    Saturday. The day after the first England game in Euro 2012 and, well, it was a Friday yesterday. I have an extreme hangover. Owing to my intermittent and varied expressions of insomnia I am up and about at 6am. Six pints on an empty stomach the night before have not made me feel any better about this.

     Slowly drinking tea that might make me feel better and having a cigarette that won't make me feel better but will enable me to enjoy the misery some more, I decide that I need to do something. I need to get my brain running. I've some coding projects I could get back into but lets face it, I'd be hard pressed to write my own name at the moment, let alone code. I decide to log into SWTOR and give it one last go. I log in. I go to Hoth. I log out. It's going to be a long day. There is something that has been on my mind for weeks that might cause some brain cells to come out from hiding. I flick to the browser, head to , fill in the details for the free 14 day trial, start the 4 Gig download and go back to bed.

    Several hours later, still massively hungover, I write a note to my friend and old WoW guild leader.

     !!!!!!!!!!!!!!DO NOT TRY EVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!
     You are not as much of a hard sci-fi space nerd as me so it
    might not grab you. However you are a cash generating nerd and EVE
    has a real economy with a massive real market where EVERYTHING is
    made by players from the raw materials up. Any kind of gathering,
    trading or manufacturing approach is in there. It is that
    complex. Do not get involved. The story below doesn't even mention
    me investigating things like flying to another system because
    there were free assembly lines in one of the stations factories so
    I could produce.... well. I will stop there. Read the tale of woe.

    A Cautionary Tale 

    1.  It is statistical and detail nerd paradise. You can get sucked in too fast. 
    2.  Once you are flying it looks amazing. If you are a bit of a space geek like me then you love it. Then you start to hate it because you can't really fly manually - its basically flying mainly by menu options. Then you find you can point and double click. Then you discover warping, then you discover afterburners. Around this time you "undiscover" that you hate it, and yet you still hate it enough to make it interesting. 
    3.  Sucked in by scenery and ship detail (particularly intelligently animated cannon mounts). Again. 
    4.  Get new type of ship. Sucked in by graphics that you don't have much control over so are basically scenery. Again. 
    5.  Don't read enough, and skim too fast (basically not reading the manual) during the tutorial missions and during the last of a series of missions I turn up to a fight in a third new ship (some ace 'Destroyer' class thing that I am thinking is way cool) with a couple of guns that have served well until now but it turns out have such a low range that I can't even shoot the enemy. Ship gets destroyed. THERE IS NO WAY OF GETTING IT BACK FROM THE QUEST GIVER. And this is PVE. It wasn't even a PVP incident. I learn the first rule of EVE: "Never fly anything you can't afford to lose" 
    6.  Next morning : too ill to do much so decide to get even. I investigate another tutorial mission set. It teaches me stuff about guns and drones I wish I'd knew in situation number 5. My basic frigate is now less puny but still really puny. 
    7.  I get mad. Figure out mining (little knowing there is a tutorial set of missions I'd missed that would have easily taught me it all) and more about skills (already knew a bit) and head out into space. Making enough cash to buy a new Destroyer in a few hours while essentially reading a book and watching some TV. I love the way mining looks. Also it involves sitting there doing nowt for five minutes which means I can watch TV/read/look at the internet. 
    8.  In the process of fitting out the new Destroyer I use the market a lot more. Scope of the economy scares the hell out of me. 
    9.  Take the new Destroyer (now named 'Revenge' - literally. You can name your ships) on a test run using a combat tutorial mission. A player character is lying in wait in the mission/quest area and is obviously there to kill noobs (he is red flagged and with a bounty on him and is named after Feyd Rautha from Dune, and his). I leg it down an accelerator gate through warp to the next area. He FOLLOWS ME AND STARTS RACING TOWARD ME. I crap myself and bug out. I go back later and go through the same process. Repeat until the ganker gets bored of following me. Note down the name as this mission gives me a new ship of a type that might be good for pirate hunting. 
    10.  Realise that the visceral terror invovled in the above incident, and the huge possibility for loss is about as truly excited as I've been playing a game since I first tried Arena games in WoW. I laugh when I enter the asteroid belt and see a cargo pod labelled "Free stuff for noobs" 
    11.  In the process of equipping the Revenge to go back and complete the mission that first caused the loss I accidentally buy a ship component ( a Warp Disrupter) on a station in a more dodgy (and yet still fairly "safe" area of space. Cue long 15 minute journey through Stargates and systems where instead of leaving the autopilot to it I am constantly ready to stop it and run for home. While doing this I see more epic scenery such as warping into a system where the sun was going behind a huge planet with a Saturn like ring system above my head. Sucked in a little more. 
    12.  Dreading the upcoming mission, I instead complete the Trade mission tutorials. Get a huge cargo hauler (well huge in respect to my other ships) that would have been perfect for mining. Then I find out I can't learn to use the skill use ships this large on a free trial account. Am annoyed and tempted in equal measure. Thats a lie. I'm more tempted than annoyed. Job done owners of EVE. I resist though. 
    13.  Its time for what I now call the "run of the Revenge". I can put it off no longer. First time : Destroyer class ship with Webifier and Warp Disrupter and two small Ion Cannons with a 500m range. Second time : As above, except a speed boosting unit, 2 armour repairer units, 3 Gatling gun mounts with a range of around 6000m before drop off, 2 Rail Guns with a range of 12000m. A standard Light Scout drone in the drone bay called a Hobgoblin. Here we go. I am crapping it. Warp in. Launch drone. Lock onto leader and one of his two bodyguards. Drone is already attacking one bodyguard by the time I've webbed and warp disrupted the leader and opened up with the long range rail guns. I get to within 7500m of the leader and open up with the three gatling guns as I get closer. Even with reduced effect at range they tear him to shreds in around 10 seconds. I lock the second bodyguard while switching Rail guns to finish bodyguard one. Bodyguard two has obviously decided to chase the drone. This is why I get really close before setting all 7 guns on him at once. He is dead in less than a tenth of a second. Then I loot the sad wrecks of their ships and laugh like an idiot. Then I consider the game and my recent laughter and think - uh oh........ 


    Infuriating, boring, exciting, fascinating, geeky, beautiful and terrifying all mixed in. I may be in trouble


    Just in case you're not a nerd, geek, gamer, or other internetophile this post will be a glossary of terms and acronyms that I'll try and keep up to date as I go along. If you read onwards as I hope you will, you'll see this is supposed to be a journal about EVE and there won't be any EVE content in this post. To solve that let me say that I started this post on day 9 of my EVE experience. In the background I can hear the faint noise of a mining laser that I fitted to a cargo hauler. I've sent it out slowly mining while I do other stuff. I don't have to pay attention to it. Technically it could get "suicide ganked" though it wouldn't be worth it. Now we are on topic. See below.

    EDIT (14/08/2012 ) : A fellow blogger has a much more comprehensive list up, including many things you'll need in game. So if you are a player and not just a blog reader I suggest going to TurAmarths' site

    AFK : Away From Keyboard. Meaning I'm not sat there staring, glassy eyed, into an infinity full of dangerous people with armed starships. Usually for me this means I've put the hauler on orbit round a rock and turned a mining laser on.

    fit or fitting : each ship in eve has a number of powered slots, some high, some medium, some low power. These can hold different kinds of equipment. A medium slot might hold a shield booster, a low power slot a cargo hold booster, a high power slot might hold a weapon. Weapons are also limited by "hardpoints", locations on the ships hull where they could be mounted, presumably this avoids ships falling apart under the load, ships that look like hedgehogs made out of guns, and ships that are constantly shooting themselves in the face.

    grind : A series of actions performed in game, such as running the same mission over and over again, with the eventual aim of some kind of profit. The less human intervention the better. Eg "I'm grinding Mining but it's ok, I'm watching reading a book while I do it."

    MMO : Massively Multiplayer Online. Generally short for MMORPG

    MMORPG : Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game. A computer game where many players at once can interact in the same game world.

    noob : From "newbie" meaning person new to a game who doesn't understand all the tactics, rules and mechanics. Noob is generally employed mockingly or insultingly.

    NPC : Non Player Character. A computer generated and controlled entity in the game.

    PVE : Player Vs Environment. Part of the game where you compete against computer controlled opponents.

    PVP : Player Vs Player. Part of the game where you are competing against something controlled by a human opponent playing over the internet. In EVE its seems like PvP can be market based more easily than in other MMOs. That's not to say there aren't a lot of people out there blowing the crap out of each others ships.

    rat : An NPC opponent, generally very angry about something, generally cannon fodder. Lootable corpses.

    space : The Final Frontier. Come on, keep up.

    suicide ganking : in EVE Online an action where a player controlled ship will destroy another players ship while knowing full well they will be destroyed in turn by the police. Various tactics can make this profitable. 
    In EVE the action might not even be motivated by money.

    SWTOR : Star Wars : The Old Republic. An online game, an MMO, with a Star Wars milieu

    WoW : World of Warcraft. An online game, an MMO, with a fantasy milieu.

    If I've made any mistakes or omissions then let me know.


    I played World of Warcraft for years and for the most part I found it hugely enjoyable. By the end of the Cataclysm expansion however, I was becoming burned out. This is a regular occurrence for a lot of WoW players. You take some downtime, you don't log in for a few weeks or restrict yourself to light content. Generally you get over it.

    Something was different this time. I'd been raiding with my guild and feeling more and more jaded. Guild members were the only thing keeping me logging in. I'd massive amounts of respect for the guild leader had achieved in setting the guild up, he is a friend in real life, and I didn't want to let anyone else down as we pushed to complete the current raid content. I was one of the healers. Not an awe inspiring healer but better than average (I think), even if I only raided once or twice a week.

    Once that raid content was done and we started Heroics it was clear I didn't even want to raid. The only reason I'd log in was to talk to people I knew. On top of this the news about the next expansion indicated it was orientated around Pandas and contained a battle system for the vanity pets. Kung Fu Panda Pokemon expansion wasn't grabbing my imagination. Time to move on.

    Narrowly avoiding Skyrim, I tried out Star Wars: The Old Republic. At first this was an amazing experience. I'm a Star Wars fan. I still have my cinema ticket from 1978. The game had done a great job with the feel of the world. It was Star Wars. Everything from the music and sound effects to the look of Tatooine, to the  lightsabre graphics. They even had some cool offline crafting missions. I liked the feeling that my characters were doing something while I wasn't logged in. There was a sense of planning beyond what I'd seen in WoW

    Unfortunately the servers were empty. Hardly  anyone was doing the same missions as I was, and once people moved on to the next world there wasn't much reason to go back. There are also loading screens and  intermediate areas between the trade hubs and the planets. These break up the feeling of immersion I had in WoW where you can ride the entire length of a continent without a loading screen. Underneath Star Wars The Old Republic was Warcraft. A Warcraft that provided less of a sense of place.

    I'd hoped that the server merges bringing higher populations would fix the lack of this sense of place, this lack of immersion in a living world but they were a little late. I'd already begun to stop logging in as much, watching more TV and films from my Love Film account.

    Around this time I read something on the internet about the nature of EVE Online and its real economy. Apparently the world, a slice of space big enough for hundreds of stars, was a "sandbox". The developers made the basic rules, game systems, the items you could eventually make and trade, and then they just threw the players in at the deep end. You were supposed to make of it what you could. There was a mission system of sorts and you could run these like quests and raids in other MMOs but the real focus was Player vs Player whether ship to ship or in the market. This sounded like a world (or worlds) I should take a look at one day. I promptly did nothing about it all.

    A month or so later someone pointed out You Tube footage of the "Burn Jita" event where a player run organisation had blockaded the games major trade hub. Blown away by the concept of this and subsequently reading around it I noticed a mention of the skills system where, instead of experience and levelling as in other MMOs, you planned your own career path picking skills and learning them over time, even when logged off, and tracking their purpose through some kind of certification mapping. EVE Online was once again at on my mind. I have a cousin who played it in the past. I wondered about asking him about the game. Once again I did nothing about it. This time however it was constantly on my mind. It had the kind of world I'd been looking for. I was constantly reminded about Elite, a space trading and combat game from the 1980's, that thousands of people are still fond of. EVE sounded like a Elite players dream.

    Something was going to give.

    Above: footage of the "Burn Jita" incident.

    Above: even more "Burn Jita" footage. This time with a cool soundtrack.