Monday, 30 March 2009

Blog Banter #6 - One small chip changed the world

Welcome to the sixth installment of the EVE Blog Banter, the monthly EVE Online blogging extravaganza created by CrazyKinux. The EVE Blog Banter involves an enthusiastic group of gaming bloggers, a common topic within the realm of EVE Online, and a week to post articles pertaining to the said topic. The resulting articles can either be short or quite extensive, either funny or dead serious, but are always a great fun to read! Any questions about the EVE Blog Banter should be directed here. Check out other EVE Blog Banter articles at the bottom of this post!

This month's topic comes to us from Quintrala of Speed Fairy . She suggests to "write a short fiction story about the dissolution of the BoB alliance. It could be from BoB's point of view, the Goons', by neutrals in 0.0, civilians in Empire, NPCs or even rats. Write about before, during or after the coup; give us stories of market, war, people or love. In-character or roleplay. We want to know what happened, from those fictional characters that, in your mind, were part of it."

Personally I found this task hard - I don't usually do fiction. This is written over 2 days, please let me know your thoughts good and bad! Total fiction and the events told DO NOT represent the reality of the situation. Anyway lets begin:


Senx sat in the bar in the Federal Navy station in Algogille. He was sitting uncomfortably, at a bar stool by the edge of the bar, with a good view of both entrances to the bar. He was noticeably on edge, and was to any observer clearly nervous. He ordered another drink, a Fried-Marble - a strange multi-coloured beverage which resembled a Whiskey sour in taste, but not looks. He sat at the bar looking more and more concerned by the minutes passed.

A group of Caldari walked in the bar, and he looked up alertly. He quickly settled again as their arrival hadn't bothered Senx at all - They didn't have the swagger or confidence of immortal pod-pilots so he resumed waiting, and casually observed the new arrivals getting a drink and sitting down in the corner of the bar.

Senx was a industrial hauler pilot, and had been hired to travel some 35 jumps through high-security space to deliver a encrypted data chip, but was required to deliver the item in person. This was unusual, but such was the items value, it was not being trusted to any electronic means such as contracts - on the off-chance the data would be stolen in-view by hackers en-route. A strange hooded gentleman, naming himself "TheMitani" had handed over the chip, a 100mln deposit, and instructions to leave quickly. He had explained that hiring a private contractor to move the chip was required, as a shipping company would get less attention from moving the goods than a personal flight from one of his corporation's members or friends (who would be mostly known by the enemy) . He also explained the delivery method and the fact he would know Darius by the fact he would order a "SuperNova" from the bar Senx now found himself sat in.

At the time Senx left quickly rubbing his hands with glee, as carrying a simple datachip all this way was great news as it meant that Senx had an empty cargohold to fill. With glee he used the deposit monies to fill his hold with Zydrine, as he knew it would sell for way more money in Gallente space than it would locally in low-sec.

He thanked the local station staff for their help loading the piles of minerals, then undocked in his Iteron "The Badger Baiter". He had an uneventful journey - and didn't notice anyone following him.

He eventually made it to Algogille, where we resume the story:

Senx was inwardly concerned "Where is Darius" he muttered under his breath. Why is he late... He knew what he was carrying must be dynamite. The fact he was delivering the item to personally to the CEO of one of the largest Alliances in the Universe indicated the items value. The other item that indicated this was unusual was the fact he was being paid enough to retire comfortably or buy a brand new freighter and skills to pilot it - a figure around 2 billion ISK once his taxes had been accounted for. He inwardly was wondering what data chip could be worth all this hassle...

In the bar, a rather bedraggled man was sat in the corner, in the shadows, watching Senx out of the corner of his eye while pretending to be interested in the attractions of a female who was openly flirting with him. She was obviously a professional - but this didn't bother him. He knew that in this area, in this bar, being seen with a professional was the perfect cover for his trade. Professional girls were generally not looked at, and were not seen by people not looking for their trade - and thus were ignored out of social habit. This man was a pod-pilot, a assassin & a spy and was thus a man who very rarely was seen by anyone. He operated in the shadows, and was also watching one of the doors. It had been said in the past by others who knew his name and reputation that this killer worked for a "higher" power, but in truth, he was a merely a hired gun. No-one who hired him had ever seen his face, and he had never been caught. He merely was known by the moniker "The Don" to those who did know of his services. Although Senx did not know it, The Don was here to protect him from threats known and unknown.... and was in the employ of TheMitani.

Senx however had no clue of Don's presense in the room. He was almost pacing in his seat at the bar. The barman came over and was looking concerned - he'd seen this behaviour before, and he was aware it usually resulted in either a a fight or flight without paying the bill. He decided to present Senx with the tab. As he did so, he noticed that his customer noticeably relaxed as he saw a tall confident swaggering gentleman enter the bar and start walking towards the main bar area. Senx watched carefully as the barman walked to the other side of the bar to greet the tall gentleman.

The tall gentleman ordered a "Luminaire Frogian" and sat down. He also was keenly surveying the bar, and didn't take long to settle his gaze on Senx. In fact he stared disconcertingly at Senx for a good minute before breaking his stare to look at the paraphernalia from the ball-games situated behind the bar. He reached under his coat and camnly started screwing a silencer onto the barrel of the old fashioned projectile gun he held there. It was a classic weapon, designed to avoid the modern world and CONCORDs weapon checks in this high-security station. Before he could finish screwing the barrel on, he was disturbed and embarressed by "The Don" putting a hand on his sholder & injecting some neuron-toxin into his neck to paralyse and kill him instantly. The tall gentleman slumped on the bar looking in like a drunk to any casusal observer, and "The Don" grabbed his gun from under his coat to add to his personal stash. He then simply & quickly walked out of the bar giving a subtle nod to the table of Caldari.

Senx was unaware of all this occuring however, and was just finishing paying the bill that had been presented in front of him. A dark faced guy from the group of Caldari he had spotted earlier came over, sat next to him, and ordered a "Supernova". He quickly turned and said "I'm Darius, we better get this done quickly". Senx wondered why, and before he could voice the question he got the response "Look, you're unware of the trouble you were in here. See that chap by the bar? He was going to kill me and possibly you when we met if we had not anticipated the attempt and dealt with it. Here is your money, give me the chip, you don't need to know the contents - its safer if you just leave now". "Forget me, forget my face, and you were never even in this bar today".

With that he left. Senx was 2 Billion ISK richer. He was elated. He quickly got back in his Iteron hauler and flew the short trip to Oursulaert to stay in the most expensive orbital hotel he could while he awaited the order of the Obelisk he had ordered from a local vendor to be delivered.

The next morning in the hotel room, listening to his favourite morning DJ, FunkyBacon, he heard the news on the radio. BoB disbanded, taken out using insider knowledge and encryption keys Goonfleet had acquired apparently. Senx was elated, and dismayed simultanously - He now knew what that chip had contained and realised he had played a part in one of the biggest changes in the world of the 0.0 lawless space - but no-one could know. Senx knew he would be the most wanted man in the galaxy if anyone knew. He also felt sorry for the ordinary civilian residents in Delve, as he knew he had turned their life upside down - they had been used to the stability of Bob, and now faced all out war.



Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Deep space scanner probe strength reduction

Okay, according to the Patchnotes for tommorow - Apocrypha 1.0.2 has :
  • Deep Space Scanner Probe I and its variations have had their strength reduced.

Okay, this isn't good. If thats the case, it'll slow up my scans of systems?

Anyone else peeved by this - I think the strength personally is just right - 90% of the time you can get a stable warp in (with good skills) with deep space scanner probes - but 10% I need to resort to more specialized probes (core probes).

Be interested to see what this brings but I thought I'd bring it to attention of the bloggers.

Mineral price update

Its been months since I posted about minerals as they stand in Gallente/Mimmitar space (where I buy *most* of the minerals I use). This post is based on buy-order pricing.

I will however comment over average prices over time as I've seen it, over the 5 most common mineral types I use:
  1. Tritanium - last 3 months has fluctationed quite drastically. 4.22 is the record price I have paid for Trit about a month ago, but the most recent batch (20mln) was at 4.01. Considering only 9 months ago in 2008, Trit could be had easily for 2.5 to 3.0, thats some inflation. Weekly prices cannot be predicted, so have taken to keeping considerable holdings of trit (25 mln units in holding right now)
  2. Pyerite - Pretty constant - 3.8-4.2 as a general range - not really changed overall - but consistantly am finding Pyerite cheaper than Trit on the market
  3. Mexallon - Constant 24.0 pricing on average, no more, no less.
  4. Zydrine - "very" variable. 4000 used to be my benchmark in 2008, however was able to buy a 50k batch of Zyd for 1750 only a month ago.
  5. Megacyte - 5000 used to be my bechmark price, now can be had for 1800-2500 regularly.
Supply for Zydrine/Megacyte seems to be a lot better - now taking only 2-3 days to fill reasonable sized orders (25k upwards). The biggest mineral issue from my point of view is Mexallon - 3 mln can easily take a week to fill. Of course its far quicker with a regional sales order, or a order in a mission hub.

I should add Nocx/Isogen havn't really moved - but I rarely need to buy these due to corporation holdings of these minerals being quite extensive for past few months.

I think I'm now "good" for minerals for a few months at least - having placed 175mln of buy-orders last night for the raw materials that fuel the industrial endeavours of the corporation - due to the poor state of the minerals hanger.

A question to other corporations - Have mineral prices been in your region been similar to the above picture? Where do you buy your tritanium?

Monday, 23 March 2009

The tale of 2 Escalations

Despite finding many wormholes over weekend, I was particularly lucky when doing Unknown combat sites - I had about 4 escalations. This is the tale of 2..

The first escalation was mostly high-sec and thus 100% safe - but final part it put me in a 0.3 low-sec system "Oulley" only one hop from the PF346 gate in Orvolle. My experience with Oulley told me I knew it was typically a pirate area and I knew I'd been chased and seen gatecamps in the area before. As such I was fretting about going in, and decided to just "do it" with only the Ishkur Assault Frigate (with no backup or salvage operations in forces. I didn't want to risk the salvager, as I didn't have a cloak handy nearby to fit to keep the salvager safe when not salvaging, nor was there one on market. Basically I hadn't expected the escalation to take me into low-sec. The Ishkur is setup for PVP and is reasonably fast - so if I did get jumped I did stand a chance of getting out alive.

Scanner up to monitor the local acceleration gate for hostiles, I warped to the escalation and completed it with little hassle - and I didn't appear to be probed out (or no-one wanted to PewPew my Ishkur as they were afriad). Then safely got back to Oursaulert to sell the loot. My mistakes: Taking a full implanted clone into low-sec. Next time I'll be taking a clean jump-clone. Overall though it did make me think more about a proper full 0.2/0.1 low-sec FOB (because with lower system security status it does mean more nicer exploration sites and escalations in theory.

Escalatation 2 is still ongoing - its called "Booster R&D" and is my first attempt at this:
1st phase was in Placid, 2nd was in Genesis, 3rd is in Verge Vendor!

1st Phase in low-sec, somewhere in Placid (forgot to note system name): Warped in, and actually had to warp the frigate out as the 6 frigates that greated my little Ishkur were doing me serious damage - so much so I only managed to pop one prior to warp out. On 2nd warp in, I managed to take the rest of the pack reasonably quickly due to sending my T1 disposable drones to take aggro initially so I could take a few of the ships out (while they shot at the drones) prior to them switching target to my own Ishkur, and sending the T2 drone fleet out. There was a few BC's and Cruisers here also - but they can't really trouble the Ishkur at all providing I'm not webbed. They quickly died.

2nd Phase - in high-sec in Tar: Warped in, amazing amount of ships in here, including two full 1.2 mln ISK bounty battleships and one overseer Cruiser(500K) + around 12 other 230K bounty cruisers + a few webifying and warp-scrambling frigates (thankfully only a few of the latter variety). Again concentrated on the large fleet of frigates 1st, which took a longer amount of time than I expected, and almost got me into structure. Thankfully I prevailed, and the repairer then recovered the armor safely. Once the 2 BS's were dispatched, another 2 appeared, along with another defense fleet. Again concentrated on these.

Loot so far is disappointing in this escalation -both in savage terms & raw loot - although the bounties have been nice. Since stopping doing missioning last year, I've missed the big bounties, so it's been nice to see the wallet blink more often.

Tonight I'll be completing the 3rd phase of the "Booster R&D". I wonder what ships I will encounter and whether the Ishkur will be up to the job. Overall this last escalation showed me just how good the Ishkur is - it easily handled a job that would have been potentially a problem for my Myrmidon.

My next job: 100% Training up for HAC's - as if the Ishkur is this good, will the Ishtar be awesome?

Friday, 20 March 2009

Hardware woes

I posted this in game last night and forgot to mention - I think my 2nd 17" monitor is going up the spout. It stopped working 100% last night while playing EVE. Luckily I was mostly finished and was on way to dock for the day at the time - but it had to happen in low-sec. Only joy was it was the covert ops ship that I lost on that screen temporarily and it was cloaked so no big deal in the short term..

I disconnected all cables/reconnected this am, and it fired up again thankfully. It's what must be a 6 year old IIyama 17" TFT - from the days when such a thing cost me over £400 (with DVI & VGA input). It's a piece of my computing history and it will be a shame when it finally dies, as many years of service were had from it...

If/when it completely fails, I'll need a new one ASAP - in good news I have another spare, but its VGA only cable wise. Problem as my dual-head card is dual-DVI. Still another 17" monitor would be excellent.

Other hardware issues showing up now with Premium-lite (2nd client) are that Premium does eat a lot more ram. Its not causing a huge problem right now (except when converting videos to PSP format & running 2 EVE clients simultaneously due to a running out of ram/swap like crazy issue) - but I'm thinking another 2Gb of ram would not go amiss soon. (And yes I know I won't get to use it all with a 32 bit OS).

I'm also thinking of a Macbook for EVE when travelling/my photography habit. Does Premium on Mac now work on the standard non-pro Macbooks? (with 9400M Nvidia card) (I *know* the pre-Aprocrapha client did work) Whats the performance like Mac-people?

Launch of "The Mighty Mouse"

A very expensive shopping trip, and I have one Helios Covert operations frigate named "The Mighty Mouse". This one won't be seeing low-sec (much) - but is fitted with lots of cool technology.... 2x Gravity Capacitor Upgrade 1 rigs for a start, so its not a cheap ship. I think all-in, it cost me around 60 mln ISK. An investment in my scanning/probing career for sure.

The good news is, the investment has proved worth it. I had a radar site probed out around 60 seconds after entering a system yesterday, and had "hacked" the nice Invention tools (50mln ISK) out after about 3 minutes - way better than the 15 mins minimum I'd got pre-Apocrypha. Several other bloggers have been reporting just how nice the "Deep Space Probe" and I can attest to this. Scan once at 4 or 8 AU, and then centre in at 2AU. That simple, and now I'm practiced with probes (and have way more scan strength) it allows a very quick evaluation/warp in point to a hit.

The downsides are other people appear to have found same trick - so much so that the entire constellation and the one next door quickly had had every single probe hit (cosmic signatures at least) well and truly finished - only hits being wormholes. I need to pick up some combat probes, if only so I can keep an eye on my back when in W-space. Is anyone else doing similar?

I also finally last night found my first two wormholes. I swear they were hiding from me before - as

Next plans are to have an extended low-sec roam on Sunday for possible locations for another FoB. People probably know I'm a 'bear' at heart, and I want a nice "safe-ish" place to stay and probe in low-sec, where the bounties are higher.... I think I'll be looking at my eve-maps book for possible locations soon. Myself/Jax had made a run to one potential site down in Amarr low-sec, which is a nice amount of jumps from high-sec (8-9), and low population.... The downsides being I am KOS in high-sec Amarr space so logistics may be a problem. If only I had a jump-drive ship. Logistics though are dealable.

On subject of Industry, well, was amazed yesterday. Some kind individual brought over 100mln ISK of items from DSTIC stores (this is normal tech-1 gear). Corp cash reserves (even with 50 mln in buy-orders) now stand at 400mln, with 250mln on market. Mineral stocks are also okay - but Mexallon is becoming a problem (down to 250k, with 3mln outstanding in buy-orders). The issue is just how quickly the buy-orders are being filled - they are not keeping up with module production for sales. Planning to spend cash on a corporation hauler or two (or three) - for movement of goods quicker - and some POS parts to get ready for POS operations in the medium term (I accept this is a high-risk endeavor, so will be going "cheap" at first.

I'm also considering getting the region-wide market skills sorted, so I can place remote-buy-orders, and alter existing orders. It should allow some interesting market manipulation without having to jump 20 hops.

The training plan for next two weeks is looking like:
Deafplasma: Iteron V (4 days left), Transport ships, Anchoring to V (about 10 days).
Deafturret: Rapid firing V (4 days), Weapon Upgrades V (6 days), Medium Blaster Specialization/Medium Railgun..

What I am missing though is other corporation members/friends to hit w-space/low-sec with - so either need to get recruiting or wait for Jax's return. As I've got most of Sat evening (UK time) to play EVE you should be able to contact me online if you're interested (character is Deafplasma). Corporation primarily based in Ours, but have operations in a few other areas....

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

I've got a Iceland pass

Somehow, somehow, I've persuaded the g/f that going to Fanfest is a good way to spend part of my summer holiday monies. And she's agreed I can go (without her!). Now all I need is CCP to confirm the dates and prices via IcelandAir (hopefully they are as I blogged about in my previous post) - so I can book!. I'm hoping the link from previous post is right in that it doesn't clash with the wedding I am attending in Vegas and thus I don't get stopped attending by mere unlucky scheduling!

Great great news and was pretty much a good week due to this...

Unfortunately my time in game has been non-existent apart from skill training and Industry for past few days - though thats to be made up for this weekend as I *will* be online for a good portion of Saturday and Sunday (although may miss Sunday night).... even during the day. Once the chores are done anyhow. Plans are to sort Industrial activities and the market out by Saturday evening, then travel up to the FoB again. Whats great is I'll be bringing the new covert operations ship with me, and should have use of the Covert Ops Cloak & improved scan strength by then! I will also be buying a Gravity Capacity upgrade rig or 2... However this is NOT the ship I'll typically be hauling from low->high sec in for the pirates reading this - its purely a scan ship for use to find signatures, and thus will 99.9% of the time remain cloaked in the low-sec areas surrounding one of my 2 FoB's. I will be buying a 2nd Covert Ops hull + Cloak shortly that will be purely for use in ferrying high-value items and skills from A->B...

Ref: Fit for Covert Ops ship I take it I should fit as below:
High: Core Probe launhcer + Covert ops Cloak
Med: MWD + whatever shield extenders I can get (or harderners maybe, as I think shield extenders increase sig radius and thus easier to lock?)
Low: Inertia stabilisers - or should I fit nanofibre internal structures? + the usual DCU 2...
Rigs: 2x Gravity rigs for additional scan strength.

Ideas on fittings would be welcomed by me if the above isn't optimal.

Industry wise:
Made some huge profits last week with the demand for certain items post-patch being huge. As the majority of my industrial efforts are T1 focussed - the influx of new players rapidly devouring ships and equipment have also lead to quick profit. So much so, the corporation had 400mln last weekend in its coffers in cold hard cash.

Since the above we've spent 100mln to restock some low minerals in the hanger, but now have considerable reserves.

So now we have a choice, go BPO shopping, or start to consider a POS (or both). Such exciting times.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Apocrypha is here

My first login was on Wednesday - as patching took my client all of Tuesday.

Due to a massive migraine on Wednesday I didn't get much chance to play though - until late in day after a sleep and the headache subsided.

Once in, however, I was actually pretty amazed. Prior to patching the lag on market operations was extremely noticeable and sometimes annoying. This lag had gone and thus on Industry operations for me at least, the game improved no end. This however was replaced by severe module and in-space lag for me when playing the game. Ship jumping around and saying it was at gate on client, then suddenly appearing in warp, then at gate again. Like client/server were completely desynchronized. This is on a system where I was only person present!

Once I had dealt with the Industry side of DSTIC's business (making a quick 50mln from a set of trades), I decided to move my implanted clones down to my exploration Forward Base, so I could experiment with the new scanning mechanics - but not actually enter a wormhole. I also wanted to test my improved drone skills (Drone Interfacing 5 had finished in last 2 weeks meaning my Drone skills were 20% improved). 20% is a huge improvement, and the tech-2 light drones now eat frigates & cruisers for breakfast. Dealing with the lag was not fun, so decided to limit exploration to the one site. The drone skills have made a huge impact on my DPS - so much so that a battleship that took an 15 mins to die from Assault frigate fire last month - and the same type took 3 mins last night - showing the skill gains in both gunnery and drones have greatly improved the amount of damage dealt.

I luckily hit on some modules (2x corelum c-type drops and one shadow serpentis) , which combined will sell for well over 150mln isk, so with the bounties, the total haul was around 156mln. Not bad for an hours work.

The new Apocrypha skill-training queue has been excellent - I now can fly my covert operations ship, but not fully fit it with the Covert operations cloak yet. That however will be fixed in a couple of days, and my "high value" courier ship will be ready for business. This is vital as I've got a lot of modules now stuck in low-sec - and carrying a billion ISK in the cargo hold is not something I want (neither do I want to carry 500mln). Once this is done, its back to skilling up for the Iteron mk 5, enabling transport ships for the low-sec transport duties we will *need* soon for hauling of minerals & items in both directions. After this it's onto basic mining skills so that ice mining is possible, followed by invention. I was hoping to be able to invent a lot sooner, but the reality is I have a lot of work before that is possible - one hurdle being the skills needed, another being the standings needed to get to being able to use L4 research agents. Basically I may have to buy datacores for a while even once I have skills.

Next plan is to get ready for a T2 cruiser of some description - along with getting basic skills for Battleships ready. Right now I can only use T2 small blasters/rails, and need to be able to use T2 large rails and large drones at the least before I consider the battleship as a weapons platform (even with a tech-1 hull). Right now I can use neither and thus the usefulness of a battleship platform for me at least does not exist.

Tech-3 for me is a long-off aim, and not one I'm particularly hurried about reaching.

Wormholes however, I'm planning my first (solo) trips into W-space with a multi-role destroyer (salvage + hacking + archaeology + tractor + probe) and assault frigate combination to see just how deadly sleepers are for myself. I know probing will be more difficult without the bonuses from the "survey" ships.... question will be how difficult... . If that fails, I have a reasonably fit Myrmidon that will be used to test next.

I just wish that EVE did have a proper native multi-role Survey ship available. Maybe the T3 ships will allow this... I do wonder.

My ideal ship for surveying would have (in addition to probe strength bonus and a reasonable cargohold of 800m3 base):
High: 3 tractor, 3 salvage, core probe launcher, cloak
Medium : hacking module, analyser-1 and a afterburner/MWD
Low: Cargohold expanders + cap recharge mods

Ie, a destroyer type survey ship - without the gun bonus but with scan strength.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

EVE Fanfest 2009 dates *may* have been released

Now its not official - ie not on EVE online homepage, but their partners in IcelandAir may have just released the dates. If the IcelandAir people are to be believed anyhow!

Its in October this year people, on 1st-3rd October 2009.

This is most excellent news for me - as technically I *could* go as it doesn't clash with anything. The issue will more be breaking the fact "I'm going to Iceland to hang out with EVE people" to my g/f. Still she's getting two holidays this year, so I'm wondering if I can just about blag a holiday for me... (She's off to a hen-weekend next month for 4 days over Easter)... I wonder if I can wrangle it to her :)

Fingers crossed people, fingers crossed.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Industrial/weekly update

Characters skills update:
Had to take a small diversion caused by a lack of market slots. I've got items stacked up waiting to sell, but no slots to use to do so...! Overall about 20 days until Deep Space Transports and thus hauling large quantities becoming possible from low-sec to high sec and vice versa with a lessened pirate risk.

Overall the corporation is doing reasonably despite my lack of attention. No new members and no sign of Jax for a week or so. Can't wait to keep playing, and its looking like I'll have a full weekend of hardcore EVE-time gameplaying coming up this month (Saturday 21 March -> Sun 22 evening). Perfect given launch of the new expansion on 10th March (which btw, I can't wait for!).

Corp Marketplace stats:
  • 375mln ISK of items for sale on market in 48 lines of business in one station. This isn't growing as quick as I'd like as finding market opportunities in tech-1 manufacture appear limited. Going to have to bring forward T2 manufacturing I think from being a "would be nice" to being a must-have.
  • 250mln in bank - this is going to have to be spent on datacore/decryptors I think.. or new BPO's for research.
Once the transport ship is ready am thinking of setting up a new corporation shop near low-sec (or even IN low-sec if preferred) full of items piratey types need but usually need to fly to Ours/a major hub to get. Mynxee/other trustworthy pirates - would this be useful to you? - if so, shout what you need to fly to empire for most of time in a comment and I'll start the process up of starting a new corporate hub for this reason - though will expect NAP or similar for my corporations ships in exchange for this.

This week expecting to be online on Wed, Sunday only (when not gardening) due to fact I'm away again over weekend, visiting a friend all day Sat and not arriving home until late Sunday...

Monday, 2 March 2009

Blog Banter #5: Alts & me!

Note : Apologies for lateness of this post - I've been away since last week on secret squirrel work activities.

Welcome to another installment of the EVE Blog Banter, a monthly EVE Online blogging extravaganza created by CrazyKinux. The EVE Blog Banter invites enthusiastic EVE bloggers to address a common topic for a period of one week. Posts run the gamut: short, long, funny, serious, and everywhere in between, but always fun to read! This month's topic comes to us from Mynxee of Life in Low Sec. She asks "Alts and Metagaming: Is playing two accounts who are logged in at the same time and work together (hauler/miner, explorer/combat associate, trade alts in trade hubs) a form of metagaming that is "ruining the game"?"

Direct questions about the EVE Blog Banter to CrazyKinux. Links to other EVE Blog Banter articles will be listed at the end of this post as they become available.

Well, my views are simple - No it isn't ruining the game! I'll explain my reasoning below.

EVE is a team-game for sure, but with the vast diversity of play - anyone joining the game right now has to be specialised to a specific career choice really - or wait a while to get their jack-of-all-trades character up to speed. Basically the metagaming aspect in my opinion allows a new player to get productive quicker.

In my case I made the decision last summer when I started re-playing the game to roll 2 brand new characters - one for combat activities and one as a support industrial type character - before they were too generally skilled to be useful at any one item (and were specialized in completely the wrong areas for what I wanted, such that re rolling resulted in quicker start to my aims).. Would playing one character have greatly reduced my fun in EVE - the answer is probably. Right now, 7 months in, the team is working well. I now have a scouting alt with CovOps ability/scanning ability, and industrial activities turning over hundreds of millions of isk a week (of which a lot is pure profit). I also now have a formidable combat character.... flying tech-2 ships/fittings instead of a peashooting Drake pilot.

The alternative to playing multiple characters is to join a trustworthy corporation and work as a team. When I first played EVE back in 2004, I had one account only and never really got "Industry". I would say I didn't need the 2nd account until I fully understood the game.... and I've been playing 2 full accounts from Jan 2008. Joining a corp back in those days did help me learn to play and filled in the missing link in my knowledge. I don't think I'd have brought the 2nd account without this experience.

The sharing of resource between 2 alt's that you control in the trader/hauler alt is essential for logistics, in fact the game's design leads to this. Jump drives anyone? With the need for a alt-to light a cyno field, it basically means you need 2 accounts just to get to go places in your carrier if on your own.

There are many other uses for Alts than the ones I use right now - the legit long-term Spy? Everyone knows the metagaming aspects - and I seriously can't believe any big alliance doesn't have a "covert operations" pot for use in alts to infiltrate rivals. With fact you can buy timecards/codes via ISK now ingame via the pilots license extenions - this is only going to increase in my opinion. EVE is also less-cpu-intensive to run multiple instances than many other games so keeping.. Metagaming in spy's and defectors makes EVE more like real life - no "hand holding", which I think is in the aim of the game. If you are stupid enough to give access to the corporate crown jewels to a newbie don't go crying to CCP when they are stolen. The real world is a dangerous place, and as such so is trading in EVE. Trading items in low-sec is aiming to be double crossed and stuff stolen. I have heard through grapevine of a few pirates using industrial alts to er, lure characters into low-sec to buy an item and camping gate on way out so to get the money and the loot.

The other alt use is in a hauling alt/Orca pilot for mining - increasing yield, and amount that can be hauled in a single run - and saving the annoying fly back to station scenario which is all-too-boring when mining.

The corporation I used to belong to with my old-characters was actually only 7 people, but together we had around 30 accounts. My experience is with EVE is that most longer-term players who have player for > 1 year will typically have 2 or more accounts. Why such a small corp having so many accounts - same as above - basically to increase time played, and specialize more. It also allowed for belt-destroying mining operations....

Other games also have similar aspects - back in the days I played Everquest - and multi-boxing was a common occurrence amongst the hardcore players. However with Everquest I couldn't personally see the benefit. Its actually a testament to CCP that with EVE I'll feel the need for and pay for 2 accounts - as will many others. Its also the game that made me go multi-monitor so I could play both clients simultaneously.

CCP profit from alts after all this - and they almost give it their blessing... Would we have "Power of 2" promotions yearly (or more frequently) if CCP did not see this need?

In fact the only reason I can think of for this being bad is it may be keeping some people more insular than they should be really in-game - thus stopping people from having human interaction with other humans. But some people do like playing like that - so why should we be judgmental and say this is a bad thing?

Overall, good for CCP, good for some players playstyles, and essential for espionage, I'd say the use of alt's is basically part and parcel of EVE universe, and I'm glad!