Sunday, 19 May 2019

Day 2531: Boring Rocky Sandbox Interlude

A slow Sunday. Warning. A fairly boring post follows. As much as anything else I'm trying to remind myself about the nature of playing.

Aside from the five minute high of claiming my 16th anniversary 1 million SP and blowing it on Salvaging V nothing much is going to get me moving today. I'm idly browsing the corp hangars and find a half completed project. It's a very noobish project, just the kind of thing for a slow Sunday. It means and achieves absolutely nothing of any consequence and yet involves planning, travel and a little danger.

It's the kind of thing I most like doing in games, apparently pointless tasks where all the fun is in the plan, the journey, and any emergent story. Any real material gain in money, skills, stats is irrelevant and likely incidental. Sandbox games encourage and thrive on similar behavior, though generally there is a material aim intended. Not with a Space Noob at the helm! Similar episodes have led me to climb mountains in Warcraft, build stupidly huge bridges in Subnautica, drag boats overland in Archeage, and all kinds of EVE journeys.

 I jump into my trusty Prospect. By this I mean I find I have spare Prospect hulls for some reason, and so unpack one, throw a cloak, a couple of mining lasers and some other junk onto it and then undock. Not before naming it Scent of a Rock mind you. I resist the temptation to name it "B8" in order to throw off nosy Dscanners.

 Fortunately, during some earlier adventure in Syndicate, on the other side of EVE from where I'm headed, I picked up the Mercoxit I need. That means I don't need a pair of Deep Core Miners and a Mobile Depot for refitting.

I zoom through hisec without a care in the world, just watching the scenery go by. I've a few intermediate low sec systems to traverse before hitting nullsec where I've sourced a -1.0 system that has pretty much all the remaining ore types I require. There's a group of wrecks on one gate, looks like I might have just missed trying to warp through a scrap. There are people in system, more than in the low sec systems I usually lurk in, but nothing worrying. Down into null and the population drops, even in those systems where sovereignty has been claimed. I pass an Eagle on a gate but I'm aligning and instantly cloaking so don't have a problem. It's handy living in London. A couple of systems have cynos lit and only one or two pilots around, I'm guessing it is a quiet time for everyone and these are logistics going on. I'm tempted to wait but how wrong could that go? So much for emergent story, the yellow stripe wins. In the final destination system I'm anticlimactically on my own.

A couple of hours or so later I am back in my home hisec station, fortunately still in the Prospect and not in a pod.

That's all I materially achieved. The mild levels of panic while journeying to A2V6-6 (thanks Dotlan), and while orbiting around the rocks there, are the real purpose here. In the end it was absurdly easy. I saw one player on gates and Angel rats are as half asleep as everyone else on Sundays.

It's nothing like the weeks I spent delving into the story and sights around the EVE Gate in terms of story. I need to think up some more plans. It was still an interesting diversion on a day when my brain simply wasn't up to the task of roaming low sec looking for trouble or even up to the task of my normal industry and trade activity.

Note that there are no rare 15% ores in the collection. I'm odd and tired, not insane. I'm not sure those ores really exist in the wild.... Now I'm going to have to look into it.

So, all in all, probably one of my dullest posts ever for you but an interesting, if short, trip for me and a useful revision of navigation skills in dodgy space. I'm thinking about some wormhole delving, fitting a Prospect for the gas equivalent of this run. I've got to use up this odd abundance of Prospect hulls and my scanning skills could use some work.

EVE Track of the Day

I spent the entire post laughing while listening to the podcast This Paranormal Life (available on iTunes, Soundcloud and Spotify at least). Maybe what I need is some kind of EVE conspiracy theory to investigate.

Saturday, 4 May 2019

Day 2514: Omega

A couple of months later in a galaxy far, far away...

Gibbering madly about EVE for free as I was it still didn't take long for me to slip CCP some dollars.

What was it? The lure of shiny ships? Well I had a ton of fun racing a shuttle as far as I could, "demonstrating the sandbox". T2 hulls are shiny and fun but I had fun in something that didn't even have guns. Delving the depths. There are customs offices still owned by Interbus down there.... To be fair T2 hulls did give me interdiction free travel again and the ability to go pick up some junk in NPC null and get it back to Jita for sale.

Could I blame the lack of T2 covops? Despite the lure of jumpshock EVE, tootling around lowsec and darker venues while exploring in a T1 isn't all that relaxing. Yes, I play EVE to relax and experience fear. Don't ask, just think "hey this is some great game that can provide both ends of a spectrum". It wasn't the T2 covops. I made more ISK while racing around lowsec hunting Clone Soldiers and grabbing a couple of Garmur blueprints. I used a Fed Navy Comet, a fearsome hull that I think has a little too much drone bandwidth. I felt ready to take a fight even while orbiting under the point of a Clone Soldier.

Skills? They're limited but not so you'd notice with my level of faffing around. I suspect they came in handy while trying out Abyssal content but didn't stop me being surprised at how difficult it actually was and blowing 75 mill on the thing. I suspect I can also say goodbye to the Rupture, Omen and Caracal I have in waiting. Abyssal T2 was a near miss, something I'll try again. T3 abyssal in a T1 hull was like being spanked. Some people pay for it, but not me.

PVP? What would I know? I'm terrible at it anyway. I've had some great adventures in a brick tanked Punisher. 20k EHP in a 5M ISK frigate allows a lot of leeway in terms of time to learn. No more analysing 20 seconds of terror, more analysing a minute or so of utter confusion. I've been dropped by a Sin. I've crashed the gate on seeing a gatecamp and been chased across two systems by angry Russians. I've got bored of a system wide, DSCAN based, chase and triggered a medium FW trap, "nearly" bagging a kill and escaping pod intact with "gf" fired. I've even got a couple of kills, mainly thanks to local gate guns, but hey... I laid the trap. If you've ever tried PVP and thought I can't tell what's going on, it's too expensive to learn, then try wasting about 10 of these. I've still got about 6 of them fully fitted and ready to roll if I'm ever bored. I'm also done with my implants so not a care in the world. You probably won't kill anything but you'll learn a ton of things.

[Punisher, Brick Punisher]
400mm Rolled Tungsten Compact Plates
400mm Crystalline Carbonide Restrained Plates
Damage Control II

Energized Adaptive Nano Membrane II
Adaptive Nano Plating II

5MN Y-T8 Compact Microwarpdrive
J5b Enduring Warp Scrambler

150mm Light AutoCannon II
150mm Light AutoCannon II
150mm Light AutoCannon II
150mm Light AutoCannon II

Small Trimark Armor Pump I
Small Trimark Armor Pump I
Small Trimark Armor Pump I

It's about 3 UK pence a go. For some reason I'm not wary about spending 500 UK pence on a pint in London that lasts half an hour if I'm lucky, yet I'm wary about losing less than 1% of that in a scrap I lost that I'll be bending peoples ears about for years.

So really in the end, what was the driving factor?

I hated the lack of industry slots.

I really am that much of a carebear nerd. The collapse of the Faction Warfare and Low Sec market really annoyed me. I knew people still had to be making cash from industry. I knew I couldn't do it with so few slots as an Alpha. So I zipped around potential markets, settled on one, switched to Omega and relearned the whole T2 small scale industry thing.

Half the time I'm sure that effectively I'm just optimising the amount of space required to transport PI materials. The Robotics burn alone is killing me. Even after all these years I don't understand why Gatling Pulse Laser II's require 5 Robotics a unit. I might have to deconstruct the elaborate and time consuming hisec Nanite Repair Paste thing I have going and replace it with boring Consumer Electronics. I'm just about surfing my needs for Transmitters and Miniature Electronics.

In the end I made about 5 billion in profit in a month by hammering it. It's labour intensive in terms of PI and build. Way more effort per ISK than the arbitrage pursued by marketsforISK. I don't care. I like the feeling of being a small scale local gun maker. I like managing the small things. I'm halfway through an Django app designed to automate my build and invention choices but unfortunately I've done the fun ESI integration work and now I've got the "boring" database, algorithm and interface work to do. Yep. Not that boring. I'll be playing the game in Visual Studio Code for a while.

The aim, of course, is the purchase of more BPOs. I'm a collector...

I'm not all that bad, there are a pair of Leshaks purchased and awaiting skill queues. I'd like to try them out on a structure, especially since that was kind of my last rage quit trigger. That's going to require anchoring something in a world of easy wardecs. There is a Raitaru in my hangars. It's a sunk cost. I'll see what happens at some point down the line.

Faffing around with Disintegrators might have to wait. The quiet in Low Sec is getting to me and things seems to be on a cusp in null. It might be time to finally try that experiment. It looked interesting in a shuttle. Imagine the trouble I could cause in other kinds of hull? Life woes are beckoning and I need some place to go that isn't random TV ( GoT aside because a man might have no name but it turns out he can catch up by watching 70 hours of TV in a month ).

Track(s) of the Day:

It's too easy to become stuck in care bear land, fighting industry slots and not people, so something epic and current to keep me going.

The Avengers : Alan Silvestri

And a travelling song in honour of shuttle runs:

Lake Shore Drive : Aliotta Haynes Jeremiah

And finally one for my friend Tur who also found himself back in the black, and so turned this return into a recursion.

Blue Ridge Mountains : Fleet Foxes (that was about as close as I could get to Virginia, hoist the sails!)

Sunday, 10 March 2019

Day 2428 : Alpha

TLDR for Bittervets: \o/ get back in on Alpha and relive it all.

This post may be edited. I'm old, I'm tired, I've actually been playing EVE, kind of...

EVE. It's legendary for the Hotel California aspect of play. Once you've played for any amount of reasonable time, that's it. You're done. You can check out, but you can never leave. Long past the end of the game we'll all be sat in some space simulator crying that it's not complex enough; that it's not deadly enough; that there is no real world impact; where is the market? The irony is that if EVE does die then the sub reddit that has been predicting it since 2004, /r/eve, will go on long after it's death.

I came back to EVE this time by an odd route. I was looking for the same sense of loss and jump-scare that a full run through of Subnautica provided. Cool ships was a bonus. If you haven't played Subnautica to the end then just go do it.

A Google search picked up some EVE posts. I read and discovered Alpha. I could play for free? I could go back and see how those characters were doing for nothing? Tick, tick, tick, boom. I'm gone.

I'd been back in Warcraft after a long break, apart from submarine excursions, loving the landscape, hating the dungeon meta. That dungeon meta of running around. It's like every dungeon should have a Benny Hill soundtrack. Screw it. I'll save my sub for Classic in the summer. I reserve the right to climb mountains on my motorbike though.

I can't get too bitter about Warcraft. It saved me. I've spent years lurching from one disaster to another. Health wise, Crohns tried to do me in. Work tried to do me in. I spent years using alcohol to escape both. It shows in a lot of my posts. Alcohol not that unusual with Crohns victims but I got lucky and the meds kicked in, as awful as they are. At some point I figured I should give a "Relationship" a go. That really tried to do me in. Christ on a bike that was some level of hurt. Let's not do that again.

So fuck it, here I am, healthier than I've been in ten years despite the fags and the borderline alcoholism, better at work, and dedicated to celibacy and so full of free time. Warcraft. I played the hell out of that for four months. Plunged all my spare time into it and had a great old time, dungeons aside. Saved my life, but damn, it fades fast.

Dungeons and half a dozen internet television subs took their toll but Subnautica woke that itch. Crafting like crazy? Danger around every corner? Lusting over vehicles? Uh oh.

So, Alpha. Things have changed. There is no way I'm going to be able to convey how much.

Space is full of player made stations. They are simultaneously annoying and useful. I guess I'll go into that in some later post. Suffice to say players have an even more permanent way of stamping their genitals onto space. That's harsh. There are lots of themed names that are quite amusing. I recall flying around the prototypes using the first person camera. It's kind of impressive to see lots of them in one place. Go look at Perimeter.

EVE is even more gorgeous than it ever was. I can't tell if half of this is my upgraded PC or not. Stations blink and gleam with life. The PC upgrade can't cover the ship remodels. Too many discoveries to go into here but I even found myself lusting after the Caldari industrial models, the Badger and the Tayra, Just watching and spinning is a pleasure. Don't get me started about the Navitas. I wanna fly Logi. I'll leave you to discover the warp animations, remodels, and generally "art" for yourselves.

I was hooked almost immediately. Like I'd slid the monitor cable into a vein rather than the second monitor Google interface that's almost required. No in game browser anymore. Learning is external!

Huge amounts of my industrial corp stuff was crippled by limits and extra taxes, but to be fair Faction Warfare is fairly dead and so too my small T2 module border markets. Hey ho. Something to research.

Half of the Interceptors aren't interdiction nullified anymore so you can't run gatecamps with them and so they're worth half as much. Don't worry though, you can't fly T2 hulls as an Alpha! Yeah. That's gonna suck you back in. I want my Magnum PI style, ruby red, Ares.

I can't really tell you everything in a succinct post. I've started to babble. I'll list some stuff. Maybe you can vibe off that.

  • Why do I have a freighter? I don't recall even buying it. It's cool. It's surely way too scary to fly. 
  • SKINS: I'd like to hate the real money grab but I've already bought half a dozen... There are LOADS of them now.
  • Tristan: looks good in any SKIN
  • How come my indy alts have that much cash? They've been paying station office bills for years and it's not even made a dent.
  • WHY FACTION WARFARE? WHY? Low sec is quiet as quiet can be. 
  • Overview learning is hard. Just give up and download one of the nullsec recommended ones as a start and then add the stuff you need.
  • If you see NPC miners in a belt and there is some "Pirate" base nearby then align out, like, right now. They ain't joking with new AI based NPCs.
It all feels at once familiar and yet full of changes. I'm not even covering the new ships and weapon systems that you can't access as an Alpha.

Eventually I calm down and decide to do some PVE and see what happens. Practicing Dscan reveals some Salvage drones. I jump into a hard fit Expanded Probe Launcher T1 scanner hull and manage to get to them, abandoned by some fellow noob. I can't use them because they, like so many hulls and ships, are behind the Omega paywall.

Flush with confidence over scanning I roll out and attempt some sites I can find. Check out the "Agency" thing.  I'm scalped a couple of times by a Stratios stealing the final loot but get an escalation.

At one point I have to pass through low sec into a high sec pocket in Placid and run across two Goons camping the gate in Oulley. One of them gets a long point on me (is that the right term? I’ve forgotten). Shields are stripped in half before I squeak away thanks to a single warp core stab. More of those need fitting in travel. I avoid Oulley on the way back, taking three quieter low sec systems and the long way round hisec to the next encounter, thinking how right I was that those kills in the last hour stats on the map were surprisingly high. Long dormant instincts are coming back.

In the end it nets me some drone related crap. I dimly remember this kind of stuff as worthless. I’m wrong. One drop is 44 million worth of capillary fluid. The other stuff fills the gaps. So much for being cheap hauling around my hull and armor reppers. You can park at player stations and get free repair while "tethering" these days anyway.

The last encounter gets a tad tasty, I’m down to half hull but its got a repper on it and I’m a hull tanking mobile kennel here, 8K tank in a cheap destroyer, whipping out drones while Black Sabbath Iron Man plays in the background. The hull is wrecked and I sit outside a station calming down while it all repairs itself.

About 800K for the hull, 2 million for the fit ( if that ), and about 4 mill in drones (overkill since no drone gets even slightly damaged) and ammo. I flog all the crap at buyout prices in TEST's new Perimeter trading hub, because why not dock there?

Overall about 50 million profit for a couple of hours work, as an Alpha, in a fit you could buy for hi sec ratting money or a couple of filled Venture ore holds ( hey, you can't fly any other mining ships). I guess this ignores the fact that I had a Heron to do the initial scanning and the vague memories of having scanned down stuff before. I’d of got carried away and done more but Six Nations rugby on TV is too much of a distraction.

There are many, many things not mentioned here, I’ve re-learned less than a tenth of  the mechanics of a complex game in the odd hour or two over a week. Essentially though, if you are a bitter vet of any kind and haven’t been back in years, it’s worth a dangerously free visit. You’ll make more of it than me I’m sure. Back in the day I effectively rage quit about not being able to two man a customs office takedown. Sure I was drunk, on horrid combinations of drugs and generally pissed off  but what the hell? Really I spent most of my time playing EVE like Stardew Valley. Hello again Spaceship Valley. Can I resist the attempt to PLEX for ISK so I can ship spin in my own space home?

Second TLDR: Come take a look for free, don't fly angry, more worth it than the best solo game on a PC I ever played.

Track of the Day:

Hotel California - The Eagles.

Then stop it halfway through and put on this instead

Raiders March - John Williams