Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Blog Banter 9: Who is Nibbling at My House?

Welcome to the ninth installment of the EVE Blog Banter and its first contest, 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 to crazykinux(at)gmail(dot)com. Check out other EVE Blog Banter articles at the bottom of this post!

I'm a bit notorious for not 'officially' being in on CK's blog banter; I see when the topic goes up on the day it's meant to and if the topic intrigues me I bang out a response by dinnertime. I'm not the only one, either.

This one, however, is a doozy. CK posted it publicly -- it's a contest, so as many people as possible have the chance to get in on it. I'm more interested in the challenge posed by the actual topic:
Which game mechanic would you most like to see removed completely from EVE and why? I can see this getting quite heated so lets keep it civil eh?
-- Keith Neilson/Jmarr Hyrgund

Oh my. See, that is throwing the white glove down and asking bloggers, 'How well do you know your game?' You can't just pick something at random and babble stream-of-consciousness style about it; it requires some actual deep consideration about how the game works. Everything that currently exists in Eve makes it what it is, and if you only suggest removing things which cause you grievance, then you're missing the point of Eve's deliberately dark, cruel atmosphere.

...Well, I assume it's meant to be dark and cruel. Highsec is starting to look like Care-A-Lot.

In terms of game mechanics, there are a few things that should probably be changed or removed in order to either streamline the system or help it make more sense. One thing which strikes me as needing a revamp is a mechanic that is relied upon more than any other: the Local channel.

Don't misunderstand me: I love Local. I love seeing who's in system, recognising old friends and foes and giving shoutouts and chatting with people. But it's difficult to tell the difference from highsec to lowsec to nullsec. In the beginning, Local wasn't intended to serve as the intel tool it's become.

I would recommend removing the features of Local channel that have made it thus:

Take away the channel tags that reflect friends, foes and allies. Those are perfectly fine in personal channels and on the overview, but the addition of tags to Local has made people lazy about scouting ('Three reds, two blues'? How about actually checking corp and alliance info? Try remembering allies' names?) The other side of that coin is that it would be possible to once again hide in the crowd and bring back the sneaky abilities of scouting spies.

In lowsec, change the way Local updates. Give it an update every, say, five minutes. It's lowsec, after all: the crews managing the comms relay stations are bored and underpaid and the tech need maintenance. So unless someone starts chatting the moment they enter a system, others won't know they've been there for the first couple minutes. No more Local spikes raising people's hackles -- at least, not til the fleet's been in there for a bit. It would totally alter the dynamics of operations in lowsec on all fronts: gangs would have more freedom of movement, scouting would be a bit tougher and require good scanning reflexes, and you might not notice that war-target till the bugger's right on top of you and whistling for backup.

For nullsec, remove Local updates altogether. I've been in w-space a couple times, and the simple removal of that feature really gave the impression of being out in the wild-lands as far from civilisation as you can get in Eve. There shouldn't be any comms relays in nullsec: it's just a standard, open broadband channel that everyone can use to communicate. All of a sudden, your cosy Sov-2 home isn't quite so secure. You'd need scouts and patrols and people constantly running system scans to ensure your base isn't being invaded. People holding space would have to work to hold it. In fact, let's do one better: in high-sov systems, alliances could add comms-relay towers to their bases and turn their Local channel into the lowsec-style system I suggested above. I realise that would be tricky to implement on the development end of things, but the gameplay aspects would totally be worth it.

Communication is one of the most important aspects of the game. It's easy to take for granted the system as it stands now; simply removing the ease with which intel is gathered via the Local channel would add depth to gameplay and be a constant reminder to players that they need to maintain situational awareness.

Other Banters
  1. Diary of a Space Jockey -- Blog Banter: BE GONE!
  2. EVE Newb -- (EVE) Remove You
  3. Miner With Fangs -- Blog Banter - It's the Scotch
  4. The Eden Explorer -- Blog Banter: The Map! The Map!
  5. The Wandering Druid of Tranquility -- "Beacons, beacons, beacons, beacons, beacons, mushroom, MUSHROOM!!!"
  6. Inner Sanctum of the Ninveah -- Kill the Rats
  7. Mercspector @ EVE -- Scotty
  8. EVE's Weekend Warrior -- EVE Blog Banter #9
  9. A Merry Life and a Short One -- Eve Blog Banter #9: Why Won't You Die?
  10. Into the unknown with gun and camera -- Blog Banter – The Hokey Cokey
  11. The Flightless Geek -- EVE Blog Banter #9: Remove a Game Mechanic
  12. I Am Keith Neilson -- Eve Blog Banter #9 - F**k Da Police!
  13. One Man and His Spaceship -- Blog Banter 9: What could you do without?
  14. Life in Lowsec -- EVE Blog Banter #9: Stop Tarnishing My Halo
  15. Cle Demaari: Citizen -- Blog Banter #9: Training for all my men!
  16. A Mule in EvE -- He who giveth, also taketh away?
  17. Speed Fairy -- Blog Banter #9: Down with Downtime!
  18. Kyle Langdon's Journeys in EVE -- EVE Blog Banter #9: Titans? What's a Titan?
  19. Dense Veldspar -- Blog Banter 9
  20. Morphisat's Blog -- Blog Banter #9 - Randomness Be Gone!
  21. Facepalm's Blog -- Blog Banter #9: What a new pilot could do without
  22. Achernar -- The gates! The gates are down!
  23. Ripe Lacunae -- The UI... Where do I begin... (EVE Blog Banter #9)
  24. Clown Punchers -- EvE Blogs: Which game mechanic would you get rid of?
  25. Memoires of New Eden -- You're Fired
  26. Roc's Ramblings -- Blog Banter #9 - Taking Things Slow
  27. Estel Arador Corp Services -- You've Got Mail
  28. Epic Slant -- Let Mom and Pop Play: Eve Blog Banter #9
  29. DeafPlasma's EVE Musings -- Blog Banter #9 - Removal of Anchoring Delay of POS Modules
  30. Podded Once Again -- Blog Banter #9 - Do we really need to go AFK?
  31. Postcards From Eve -- 2009.
  32. Letrange's Blog -- Bye Bye Learning Skills
  33. Warp Scrammed -- Blog Banter 9 - Never Too Fast
  34. Harbinger Zero -- Blog Banter #9 - War Declarations and Sec Status
  35. Ecaf Ersa (Eve-Mag) -- Can a Tractor Tractor a Can?
  36. Thoughts fram an Accidental Minmatar Revolutionary -- EVE Blog Banter #9 - Aggression Timers, WTs and Stargates
  37. Mike Azariah -- I don't put much stock in it...
  38. Rettic's Log -- Blog Banter: Overview Overload
  39. A Sebiestor Scholar -- [OOC] EVE Blog Banter #9: Slaves
  40. Diary of a pod pilot -- [OOC] EVE blog banter #9: Because of Falcon
  41. The Gaming-Griefer -- EVE Sucks, But I Love It: The Memoir of a Masochist
  42. Lyietfinvar -- Remove that monopoly
  43. Sceadugenga -- Blog Banter #9
  44. Industrialist with Teeth -- EVE Blog Banter #9

Friday, 26 June 2009


The last couple weeks have been such a crazy rush, and there's not really been much to blog about because I've had other things that needed to be worked on. I have my visa sorted out, finally, and I've been busy looking for a job and trying to make my portfolio look good (big thanks to Jorge, Valarissa and my boyfriend Chu for help, suggestions and coding above and beyond the call of duty).

In a nutshell:

- The corp has been busy with new recruits and helping the newest members become more comfortable in the capsule, and they've been racking up the kills. We have some fine, budding pilots who are just beginning to realise their potential, and they make me proud to call them friends and corpmates.

- Our wardecs against GiS have been dropped in preparation for rejoining The Bastards. alliance alongside our mates in The Bastards corporation.

- I've been busy working on a massive story for Eve-Mag, so watch this space for the announcement of the posting of Part 1! (Yes. It's that long.)

- I was offered a duel by a guy who happened through a system I was in a couple days ago, but was too busy at the time to accept. He asked again the next day, and we met at a safespot, Caracal vs Thorax. It was a close fight, right down to the wire, and he was very nice about it. Lau's a solid guy and I'm glad I was able to make his day ^_^

- Recent news has been a flurry: KIA lost a titan, Razor got burgled, Michael Jackson forgot to keep his clone updated, and Hellcats made IGB headlines yesterday morning. Things went a bit crazy with convos popping up from people asking to give our info to their sisters/girlfriends/female friends who also play Eve, and a few invitations to join alliances. Mynxee has to deal with this sort of thing every day; I normally handle the bills, UK recruitment and corp hangars, so I was going a bit nuts trying to keep up with everything.

- Because of the convo overload, I spent most of today docked up and making a template of our corp logo which could then be used to print the design onto a shirt (I've been very disappointed with the quality that CafePress offers). The results are rewarding, to say the least, and totally worth the pain in my hands from cutting out the stencil:

- And just as I was about to log for the night (putting it loosely -- I've become noctournal) my mailbox flashed. You'll love this:
2009.06.26 03:54
GoonSwarm has declared war on Hellcats.
Within 24 hours fighting can legally occur between those involved.
It seems the twenty of us are worth spending half a billion ISK on, just to give us a little attention. Considering the difference in numbers, we've got to be the luckiest gamer-girls in the world, but all this honey in one place was bound to draw a few bees ~_^ See you in the clone-vats, boys!

Friday, 19 June 2009


Ashen steel gleamed dully under the harsh hangar lighting, insectoid carapace and wickedly-curved stabiliser arms refracting rays into the gloom of the cavernous space.

I paced the docking-ring below as the hangar techs installed the turrets I'd ordered. They looked odd: brushed silver tritanium alloy flecked with glowing sea-green against the darker hull and golden running lights. It wasn't a Gallentean design; the organic lines had a more menacing aspect and the systems' low resting hum had more in common with a thoughtful bee than the contented purr I was accustomed to.

You couldn't call her beautiful. It would be akin to calling a professional dominatrix 'cute'.

Roc Weiler had given the ship to me ages ago, back when I think he was trying to tame the wild women of the Hellcats into a faction-fighting force. Like that was going to work. This particular hull had sat in a hangar in highsec for months, waiting for me to decide the time was right to have her brought in and used for her proper purpose: to fuck people's shit up.

It amused me a bit, to know the ship Roc had wanted me to fly securing Minmatar compounds would instead be used for what she was intended. The Daredevil was not designed by the Serpentis to be a peacekeeper: she was a pirate through and through, hull to core, and it would be disrespectful to treat her as anything else.

Thursday, 11 June 2009


...They can be pulled up, and put down, but they should never be forgotten.

I stepped out of the shower, feeling refreshed, the rush of combat adrenalin rinsed away. We'd just had an incredibly successful run with The Bastards, at Flashfresh's invitation, and desipte the misgivings RoninData had initially voiced -- that the long-established pirate force might not feel they could be themselves with the two of us around -- after the last week or so of intermittent association,things seemed to be running smoothly.

Flash met me at the hangar entrance. 'You and Mynx coming to the pub?'

I shrugged and said, 'Well, I hadn't really made any plans...'

'Come have a drink with us. First fleet since the afterburner standardisation regs went out and we take down three battleships? Ronin's called for a little party.'

We found Mynxee and headed up to the bar which sat in the centre and above the space-dock, unimaginitively named 'The Hub'. The revelry was only just starting, and I shouldered my way amongst the taller pilots towards the bar to order drinks while Mynxee looked for a table on the lower level.

As I waited, I realised I was elbow to elbow with one of the other pilots we'd flown with. Offering a smile, I said, 'Hi there.'

The Khanid man started; it was hard to tell where he was looking with the solid hood pulled low over his face. 'Uh, h-hi.'

Shy, huh? I studied him. 'You were the Vengeance pilot, right?'

'Yeah,' he said shortly. His drink arrived and he hurried off with it without another word.

Someone tapped my shoulder; San Rintu, one of the Bastards' few women pilots, said, 'That's Jorge. He doesn't tend to socialise a lot. Drinks lke a fish, though. Weird boy.'

'No shit. Oh well, long as he doesn't turn turtle on an op...'

'Nah, he focusses well enough.' The taller Achuran woman wrapped her arm around my shoulders. 'So are you guys going to be sticking around a bit? It's kind of nice to have some more ladies to hang out with in the testosterone pool.'

I smiled. 'Dunno. We've been discussing setting up a base here, but we're still a part of Doom Armada.'

'Oh, of course. But, I mean...' She took a drink from her pint. 'We work well together. And you have a lot more roaming space out here than you do in a pocket lowsec like Decon.'

'We're considering it, San. That's about it for now.'

The bartender slid Mynxee's and my drinks onto the counter, and I carried them carefully down the wide spiral stair to the lower part of the bar. Down here, the walls were filled with windows overlooking the space-dock, an upturned hemisphere with dozens of individual hangars stepped and honeycombed together around the docking lanes. The far walls were almost indistinct through the thin haze of moisture and exhaust clouds.

Mynx had picked a table tucked into one of the wide bays, looking out with her chin cupped in one hand. 'I was thinking we should maybe move a few more ships out here, Shae,' she mused as I handed her drink over. 'It'd be easier to join the guys if we had more flexibility in what we're flying.'

I was nodding. 'I've been meaning to get a Myrmidon brought in... I have a lot of stuff still sitting in Arnon from when I first joined the corp. Maybe we should just open a corp office here so we can manage a communal hangar for ammo.'

'Makes sense.' She took a swig of her drink and hmmmmed thoughtfully. 'I hope Sicks doesn't mind. I love the guys in D-Gen, but it's kinda fun flying with the Bastards, too.'

'Hope they don't feel we're "cheating" on them in some way...'

Mynx snorted. 'Cheating, my ass! We're an independent corporation, and we already have a side-base in Vitrauze anyway. We're a part of the alliance, not sleeping with them!'

We cracked up laughing and touched the rims of our glasses together.

'I'll get on moving the Myrm in. My hauler's been busy with her own stuff, I may just take a chance and run the lowsec route.'

'I'll set up a corp office tomorrow. Make Evati our little home away from home.' She grinned. 'This could be fun.'

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Half a Sleip

It's an accepted fact that drinking coffee to stay awake is both unhealthy for you and a sign of heavy caffeine addiction. Good thing I only drink it for the taste, right?

But it was extraordinarily late for me to be up and in The Hub cursing my inability to make the three-dimensional graphic modelling program on my tablet computer do what I wanted, and while I'd lost track of how many refills I'd had, I knew the bartender was going to be cutting me off soon.

Someone slipped up behind me and began to rub my shoulders. I let myself relax into it for a second, then tilted my head back.

'I thought it might be you.'

Sard Caid grinned, hugged me briefly, then pulled up a chair and swung his leg over to sit backwards in it. We'd been friends for so long, I couldn't actually remember when we'd met or how we'd started talking.

He folded his arms on the back of his chair and hunched forward to rest his chin on them. 'We have a sexy fleet going. It'd be even sexier if you hopped in a ship and came with us.' Sard was giving me That Look, the mischievous one from under his brows that told me he'd never let me forget it if I turned him down.

A quick check of the time made me cringe. 'I know I asked you to grab me for some action tonight, but I think I also said something about "not too late"?'

'Pssh.' He flapped his hand at me. 'You know you'll be up late anyway. Come on. Have some fun.'

Looking from the other pirate to my computer to the bartender -- who crossed his arms over his chest and arched his eyebrows at me -- I sighed. 'Thorax be alright?'

'Sure!' Sard was probably happy he didn't have to twist my arm about it. He bounced to his feet. 'Mynxee's on her way back here, so we have a few minutes to chill. See you in space!'

The boy has too much energy, I thought. I wrapped up what I was working on, returned my empty cup to the bar, and made my way to my hangar, lost in that floaty fugue-state that working too hard too late normally leaves me in.

This is going to be an interesting roam.

When we headed out, the gang consisted of me, Mynxee in her Wolf, Sard in a Huginn and Vasavia in a Rifter. Sard and Vas had made the tactical choice of maintaining a not-quite-outlaw security status so they could better choose their fights, and scouted ahead. A few jumps up the line, Zeasier popped onto comms and asked if he could join in an Incursus. It took him a few jumps to catch us up, by which point we were being danced around by an Absolution which appeared to be nano-fit, considering how quickly it eluded us.

I don't even remember where we were by then; I was so tired, I was content to let others scout and tell me where to warp to and when to jump. Not the best state to be roaming in, to be perfectly honest, but it was pleasantly relaxing and I chatted on the side with Valarissa and Mynxee in corp chat, until--

'Ooh, there's a Sleipnir in here.' Sard directed us to various belts in our search to pin the command ship down.

Vas got lucky, landing on top of the ship before Sard even finished his instructions. 'Got a point on him, he's got drones on me.'

Mynx and I reached the belt just as Vasavia's Rifter exploded, but Sard and Zeasier were already there taking fire. I was so tired, I actually had trouble remembering which sort of drones I'd released to tell the guys to not shoot them out. For a minute, it seemed the pilot's shields would be able to absorb the damage, but then something seemed to fail and the rest of his buffer disappeared surprisingly quickly. The pilot didn't stick around to see what would happen if we caught his pod.

When we took a look at the killmail, we discovered why the ship melted so quickly. Incredulous giggles filled the comms as we scooped what survived from the wrecks of the command ship and our ill-fated tackler. The Sleipnir was full of gear looted from the local Raiders ships, most of it not worth much. The turrets should sell well, but I'd have expected a better fitting from a pilot who's been in the capsule as long as him.

By that point, I was in danger of passing out in my pod, so we waited out our timers chatting about independent comics series we follow, and then Mynx and I docked up in the system's only station for the night while Sard and Zeas roamed their way back to Evati.

Monday, 1 June 2009

Interior Design for the Discerning Corporation

When Medals were introduced in Eve last year, I looked at the cost of the damn things and thought, 'As if there aren't enough ISK-sinks in this game already!' Five mil just to create one is a lot. An extra five mil every time one is awarded just gets silly, especially if it's something which every corp member receives. I do maintain an alt-corp as well as being a director in the Hellcats, and even though I'd love to hand around a few baubles to my mates' alts for giggles, the cost involved makes me cringe.

The Hellcats, however, doesn't suffer from poverty the way my alt-corp does. Quite the contrary: we're active, self-sufficient, and large-scale piracy pays a lot better than you might think. Unlike the alt-corp, where everyone largely keeps to themselves and does their own thing, the Hellcats spend a lot of time working on piloting skills, building trust and learning how to work together as a cohesive unit.

...Or as Larkonis called it, an 'epic oestrogen-fuelled killsquad'.

For us, Medals are more than just a fun thing to display on our character info. The decorations the Hellcats issue celebrate both personal and group development. We try to encourage our pilots to get out there, shoot stuff, work together and help each other, and the decorations we award are in recognition of this.

The first award any Hellcat can receive is the First Blood award in recognition of their first kill in the corp, usually closely followed by the Egg-Breaker decoration for first podkill. 'Strength in Numbers' celebrates a gang kill of a larger ship, while the 'Silver Panther' is given in recognition of a solo kill of a larger ship. In this way, we try to encourage progression of skills, particularly since so many of our pilots are quite new to the game.

Beyond that are decorations which are harder to achieve. The War Heroine award is specifically for the solo kill of a pilot whose corporation we are at war with. While the Silver Panther is possible purely because we tend to run in smaller ships and single targets are plentiful, war targets frequently roam in gangs, use ewar, and like to lay Obvious Bait traps which would make Inspector Clouseau cry (I'm not pointing fingers, here; I've done my share of highsec wardecs, and they all kind of blur together in the end). The award is not just for a solo kill but for having the ovaries to take the risk in the first place.

On top of all the killmail-whoring, we like to encourage our more experienced players to help the newer ones. The Guiding Star is given to members who have dedicated a lot of time and energy to pilot development, whether through offering lessons, putting together guides, leading instructive ops or assisting newer players whilst roaming with the Bastards.

And every corp has to offer something to really aspire to. I took a look at our killboard the other day, realised there were some epic fights in there which will never be shared except as numbers and stats, and thought it would be great to encourage our corpies to use Fraps more often. The 'Action Heroine!' is meant to be the most difficult decoration to achieve: it requires ten proper combat kills in one day (according to the killboard), at least one of which has to have been recorded and shared on the Eve-O forums. It encourages our members to take a little initiative and generates publicity for the corp -- always a plus. And we already have members saying they want to be the first to get this one, so keep your eyes on the forums!

Medals can be a big ISK-sink just for lulz, or they can help deveop teamwork and personal development within your corporation and bring your members together. Decorate wisely!