Wednesday 29 August 2012

Day 73 : A Painful Lesson In Probing

It’s Bank Holiday Monday, morning of the free day. It’s time to take on Exploration skills. I've redone the Career Tutorial mission series. I've got a free Imicus exploration ship from that, a set of Scanner Probe I’s, a launcher. All I need now is the attitude. A day after the events, since I write with a bit of delay, I find the perfect description of how I develop this attitude. Taking Stabs ( description slightly out of context I have “resized my balls and re-positioned them". I'm going to get into a fight with this.

Firstly I watch a video. This has been recommended several times by fellow bloggers and also by The Tengu Dude in game. I’m not going to ignore any of these professional explorers but I am still worried that exploration is just something I won’t get, something that I have a mental block against, something that requires some spacial awareness that I just don't have. I get a cup of tea and a cigarette and sit down ready to grimace as I have my failings exposed.

Honestly CCP? A browser, but no video player in game? Make five to ten more of these videos at the same standard, put a video player in game and that's the famous learning curve graph ( kicked right between the axes. I’ve just sorted out 90% of my problems and it was totally painless. Ok, not totally painless - when I saw the probes being all selected and the scan range being changed for the group rather than individually I spilled hot tea on myself. How can I have missed this bit of interface work? It’s practically an I.T. standard use of lists by clicking using the CTRL or SHIFT keys. Perhaps I had a bad first experience, believed  it to be difficult, and so went on believing that was the way. EVE is hard, so I’d simply taken for granted that this was the way.

The list isn't the only thing I discover watching the video. I discover the SHIFT key used when moving all the probes will move them as one. At this point I've put the tea down and I’m staring at the screen like a fool. This is the reverse of an Out Of Context Problem, its an Out Of Context Solution. It’s like some hitherto undiscovered race of pacific islanders seeing a modern warship sail up to their island, pass them antibiotics and antimalarials and then bugger off leaving them in paradise with medicine.

Next up are the professionals. I’ve chosen two. First I go to read the Tiger Ears guide. If you read any Tiger Ears then you'll know that she is so good at scanning that she'll probably know your location in a Wormhole system before you do.

The what now? ALT key? Was that in the video? That could have been during the scalding hot tea moment. The lines in the circles are ranges?  

Finally I go and read Stabbed Up who pretty much excellently summarises what I've seen and in the process reminds me that I am one hell of a stupid bastard indeed.

There is some discussion here about techniques such as the number and positioning of probes. I particularly liked Tiger Ears use of a central probe with its range set lower than the others, just in case the increase in resolution over the suspected location ruled out the need for another scan to get 100%.

Since I’ve proved to be rubbish at this in the past, and working on the simplistic axiom that “less isn’t more, in fact generally more is more, keep pouring that stuff on”, I am going to use the maximum number of probes that I can. That is 7 at the moment, enough for one on the end of each positional axis and a single, central probe. Lets not muck around either. Sisters of EVE scanning gear is too expensive but the rigs for scanning are cheap. I stick a couple of the T1 scanning rigs on the Imicus. I've got Gallente Frigate IV so I am getting a decent bonus from the ship. I've got pinpointing and rangefinding skills. I should be ready.

What do I find? That shockingly for EVE it isn't that hard. Sure I'm using techniques written up by the pro's but it is still a Space Noob trying to employ them. Over the course of a few hours I find half a dozen wormholes, some mission sites and a couple of Gravimetrics sites. I fly on, not using any of them, simply practising the art of using the probes to minimise the time required.

Eventually I run one of the smaller sites with Rob and we catch a faction drop we slap on the market for the corp. If successfully sold then that’s the corp offices paid for the next two months.

Later on my own I scan down a DED site. With tip offs from Rob and others I find it is rated 3/10 and look up precisely what’s in there using Apparently there is the chance of T2 salvage. There are a lot of rats in there but I figure a rail fit Cat can handle them with a little bit of kiting. I'm busy clearing the site and am getting near the possible T2 salvage ship when I notice more drones than there should be. The Overview shows that an Ishkur has warped in. It clears out the place within a few minutes and warps off leaving me with the trash. I need to be able to blitz these places faster. It's a little disappointing but I've still got a buzz from "adapting to the probing". Next up, at some point, is refining my Dscan skills and using Combat Scanner Probes, but before that I am going to watch every CCP tutorial video I can get my browser on. If there are any.

All in all, a bit of a result. Two things learned.

1) Scanning isn’t that hard.

2) Wear long trousers when watching explanatory videos.


  1. Love your blog, I'm kind of in the same place you are as far as exploration. I just started a couple of days ago, found a wormhole in my high-sec home system and got a nice rush popping in and zooming around a little. Lucky for me it was deserted at the time :) My main is mostly a miner, I'm realizing that I need to bulk up my pvp skills for doing exploration, etc. It's a lot of fun, more fun than grinding rocks.

    I've also been trying out ice mining. It's a very easy way to spend some low-attention time. Point the ice miners at the big block, and an hour later I have 35 units of ice in my Mackinaw's ore hold. Drop off and repeat.

    1. Thanks!

      Wormholes : careful in there - and always bookmark the exit!

      PVP : My advice would be to have a go before the skills kick in, all the trained skill queue stuff in the world isn't going to save you if you haven't seen it before. Put some cash aside and mark it as "expendable" then go get blown up in a T1 - you never know. Its good fun! Don't let the skill queue hold you back from having an experience. I've done too much of that myself!

  2. I think you've made an awesome start and you've certainly got into doing this much quicker than I did.

    I don't think you need to self-deprecate. Just be being able to do this at all you are in the top 5% of Eve players regarding explorers. I'm playing in null sec at the moment and hardly anyone can scan, it almost feels like cheating to use my cov ops.

    If you move into wormholes you'll be appreciated for not being completely new, if you do other sorts of pvp FCs will adore you for helping them hunt out kills.

    1. 5%! Well that's a bit of a boost. I was so bad at it the first time around, and got so many offers of good advice that I assumed it was just me. I think it is a another step up to interpreting combat probe information in a useful way, doing it quickly and doing it safely. I've had a quick go but will be doing some more practice in hi sec first. Hopefully I won't scare too many miners.

  3. Sounds like you did a good job for your first real shot at exploring. I really wish I knew about the alt and shift functions when I first started.

    I've got an expedition to run today which I picked up from an escalation in a serpentis site. We can run it together if you're going to be on at about 12:00 utc.

  4. Explorer Logs by JohnnyPew on Youtube are short vids as well covers some sites...Feels like I am getting a feed from Star Trek. I started a second account for exploring, and set my son out running around in hi sec and within 7 sites made 120 million in modules and tech2 salvage. Was like WTF every time I tried Exploration I got nuthing.....even when I did a a couple of complexes when i was in null.... Its so Random. But then thats the dayyou open that box and "YESSSSSSSSSSSSS"

  5. I came across an old e-mail recently, from when our corp had recently moved in to w-space. Paraphrasing, I told our director that 'I tried scanning, and I'm fecking useless'. But, as you have discovered, it gets easier with practice.

    The alt-drag modifier is a relatively recent introduction, and was added in a patch and not the expansion that changed exploration. It made a huge difference in moving probes around quickly but it is something that is easily missed by people. Continue to spread the word.

    Stabs is spot on about more probes giving better results, and if you can use that many you really ought to. I stick with five because my skills, ship, and modules give me good results with five, I can move them around more easily, and it lets me launch twice without reloading the expanded launcher. I won't claim it gives me better results than seven, though.

    When you move to combat probes, you will need to set up a filter or two for the scan results. You should filter out structures, so that you don't get cluttered with every POS and defence module anchored to it, and perhaps one that filters everything but signatures for when you're scanning in high-sec and only looking for sites. Miners and mission runners can really clog up the results.

    Finally, once you're comfortable with general scanning and want to start trying getting the jump on ships without them noticing, I've written a guide about hunting with d-scan too.

  6. Not exactly a probing guide but since wormholes and scanning are inextricably linked I thought I would toss this out just in case anyone is interested. It's a series of video blogs on wormhole space subjects.

  7. Probing (and I include d-scan here) as such isn't hard, but RL skill comes into play when you are facing dozens of signatures at once, and you have to sort them quickly into important/unimporant. Similar, if you're tasked to provide a warp-in to a hostile in one of your systems without the hostile noticing, skill is paramount.

    And given the advantages, Sister's gear is very much worth-while - at minimum, get the Sisters' probes.