Thursday, November 27, 2008

Just an aside.... Not EVE related...

The LT's leave is up today. My wife & I drove from Dallas to Norman yesterday afternoon and then I went to the OKC airport at Zero Dark Thirty to start him on his way back to Iraq.

Wasn't any easier the second time.

If my emotions were soup, Emeril would call the flavor complex. Savory pride in this young man. Sweet because of the love he has for my daughter. A touch of acid regret that the life they have chosen demands such self sacrifice.

Salt from my own tears.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

QFT: Roc's Rule #67

"Swearing is but a crutch upon which uneducated people lean to express themselves." Roc's Rule #67

One of my pet peeves, as well.

There's nothing wrong with a little profanity every now and then. Linguistic salt & pepper, if you will.

But if you are using various derivations of "F" as noun, verb, adverb, adjective and imperative, all in the same sentence, then get a thesaurus and have some alone time.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Today's Lesson: Dark Plans and Thunderbolts

“Let your plans be dark and as impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt.” - Sun Tzu

The Uni normally flies in large fleets. We do that for many good reasons that have been clearly communicated before.

But sometimes, hidden amongst the fleet of 40 or 50, is a smaller strike team with a different agenda.

Here's the After Action Report:

Channelling H. Cosell : "Down Goes Sabre! Down Goes Saber!

(If you are of a certain age, you'll get the pop culture reference. If not, try ESPN Classic and catch Foreman/Frazier.)

The main fleet was forming up to head to Amarr & chase the Mercs. I had RL issues to deal with shortly, so I declined. WT AD had been in system for hours, not in station & not on scans or probes, so the conclusion was she was cloaked, probably observing HQ.

Just in case, I swapped my Falcon for a Scorp, fitted with less jamming than usual, but more tank & tackle. I undocked at HQ to provide cover for our guys joining the fleet.

A few minutes later, S logs in. I gang up Oli in his CovOp Scanner of Doom and Eyedoll slinging pure Amarr laser light love for DPS.

S plays snipe games for a bit. We almost have him a couple of times, but give the Devil his due, S is a slippery rascal & never quite stayed in one place long enough for us to get the drop on him.

S warps away from HQ toward the Osmon gate. Oli follows & call contact behind the gate (paying attention, here students? Behind the gate meant that there was no celestial for us to bounce off of and come in at range to our prober). Oil warped off grid to drop a probe and I move to safespot 16au from the Osmon gate.

Oli calls a hit & 'warp to me at zero'.

I'm on the way, Eyedoll is 80au out (Oh dear!).

I land basically on top of S's Cerb. Scram, web, 2x Neut 4X cruise and 2X Caldari jammers go to work.... I know I'm not going to take him down without Eyedoll and I'm wondering where A is....

A shows up first in a Rapier and engages me. No worries, drones out & last jammer on A.

Eyedoll drops on to grid and that pretty much is all she wrote. S down. A disengages. Oli docks up to repair (S was slinging FOF's). We loot the wreck and I'm getting ready to have it salvaged, when first A returns for a look (but doesn't stick) and then S comes back at range in a Raven. Having accomplished our goal, we left the wreck and retired from the field.

GF's exchanged in local.

Bravo Zulu to Oli, the Probe Master!

Melissa Dawn added her perspective on this engagement here.

Just for emphasis, let me quote just a small section of my reply to her:

However, this was not a solo action, but rather the co-ordinated effort of a small team that required the capabilities of three pilots of three different races, flying ships with three different roles. It should serve notice to our enemies that we have the capability and the willingness to engage in small unit fights. When they see three Uni pilots, they won’t know if our guys are scouts for a 30 man fleet, recons probing for weakness or a strike team prepared to take out the unwary. That uncertainty leads to hesitation and ‘he who hesitates, is lost”.


Friday, November 21, 2008

Today's Lesson: Lack of Movement = Getting Set Up

When my RL ex-attack pilot buddies talk about combat tactics, they never fail to include one of their truisms : "One pass, haul ass!". In context, they mean that sticking around for an extended period of time in an area where there are people who are trying to kill you is generally a bad idea.

The EVE corollary is that sitting in one place allowing your OPFOR time to setup and bust you, even if you can see part of it happening, is not an optimal tactical solution.

One of our rising star FC's had a smallish fleet of about 15 next door to OPFOR's home system. In addition, we had a couple of Recon pilots keping an eye on OPFOR's home station. Couple of WT's in interceptors and a Rokh. One of the other Directors and I are in Korsiki, 15 jumps away. He & I discuss & decide that by the time we got there, anything that was going to happen would be history.

But... 5 minutes pass and no engagement.

So, Silent's alt grabs a Rapier & I roll out my trusty Falcon and we sprint down the pipe.

As we leave Korsiki, scouts report that one 'ceptor logged, but the other ' ceptor and the Rokh had warped to the the gate opposite of our fleet. The 'ceptor jumps through and heads out to an observation point 220+ KM from the gate with a clear view of our fleet sitting on the gate.

And they just sat there. Rokh about 20km off the gate, 'ceptor on the other side staring at our fleet.

They sat there long enough for a Rapier and 2 Falcons to make a 15 jump sprint and get set up with the two other Recons on the Rokh. Five recons? Overkill, you say? Psh. There is no such thing as overkill. There is only "Target!" and "Reloading!".

Rapier uncloaks & tackles. As soon as the Rokh aggresses, the rest of the recon gang uncloaks & starts frying eyeballs. FC jumps the fleet through and, as Grandpa would say, "It was all over, 'cept the shoutin'!".

So today's lesson is:

Sticking around the same spot, even if you are not technically 'still' is a bad idea. Someone is probably looking at you co-ordinating a party with you as the guest of honor. It's not paranoia if they're really out to get you...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Today's Lesson: Logoffsky = fail , m'kay?

The mercs that were hired to dec us have rapidly devolved to mostly staying docked up many jumps away from Korsiki. Understandable.

Yesterday, an OPFOR cruiser pilot made this mistake of warping to the same spot 100km off a Uni gate camp twice. After his cruiser goes pop, he immediately logged off. No prober was available, so it worked. This time.

Later, this same pilot returned to his home station in Amarr. I was in system providing overwatch and early warning as one of our student FC's formed a fleet in Korsiki, planning to travel to Amarr & at least show the flag. Other scouts were out and about in the area as well.

The OPFOR pilot in question undocks in a Harpy and proceeds to putter around the undock point. As some point, he must have flipped a can or somehow aggro'ed another corp, because about 1/2 dozen ships unloaded a can of industrial strength whup ass on the lone Harpy. I report this on our TS channel for the entertainment of the fleet forming.

The Harpy goes 'pop' and, lo and behold, the Harpy pilot logs in space and his pod warps away from the station. I report this in TS and one of our probers says that he is 4 jumps out, armed with a single Hobgoblin II and already inbound.

Seconds later "Probe Launched".... "Pod hit, warping".... "Drone Launched!"

I warped to our prober and arrived just in time to hear the 'squish' of a pod & "Tower, Ghostrider requesting a flyby!" from a solitary 'goblin II that was doing victory rolls!

So, boys & girls, today's lesson is about logging off with aggro:

- You are visible to all, not just those that you were aggro'ed with.
- Logging off in space with an aggro timer in a system with WT's who have demonstrated that they can and will probe you down is not going to get you a seat on the stage at graduation.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Uni gets some Massive love!

EVE Evolved: Beating the Learning Curve of EVE Online

It's always gratifying to see the efforts of the staff and students of Eve University recognized.

Be sure you click the graphic inside the story that shows the learning curve of various MMO's. The section presented doesn't do the artist's creation justice. I had a good laugh when I saw the whole thing.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

And they say romance is dead...

Just read it. If you don't laugh, send me Eve Mail & I'll send you 100 isk.

Friday, November 14, 2008

War dec and today's lesson...

We have been war dec'ed. It's a paid job for some mercenaries, which is really interesting...

In any event, we continue to do what we always do. :)

Ref: This morning

I logged on to check a couple of administrative matters & saw that only one WT was online. Intel report of him moving up the pipe in a frigate, so I grabbed my tackling Scorp & headed to the Osmon gate.

WT jumped into Korsiki & began to move from safespot to safespot... I swapped to Raptor.

Today's lesson, boys & girls: If you are deep safespotted in the OPFOR's home system with 40+ WT's online and an interceptor drops on grid, you can be sure of the following:

1. Your safespot has been probed out.
2. The 'ceptor is not going to be alone very long.
3. Now is a good time to either leave or swap to pod saver overview tab.

I'm just sayin'...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Patch Day Ponderings

While we are all waiting (you did set a 48 hr skill, right?), our recent corp theft launched a flurry of internal discussion far out of proportion to the deed itself.

The basic underlying question : "Is it reasonable to assume that the trustworthiness of a game character mirrors the trustworthiness of the RL person behind the keyboard?"

Now, before you go all emo on me, read the question carefully. It deals with trustworthiness, not morality. Many of my carebear brothers & sisters fail to make the distinction and start the flow of tears in situations where they are not warranted.

In the game, a pirate who catches you in low sec trying to ninja mine, offers or accepts an offer to ransom your ship and honors the ransom has demonstrated trustworthiness, just as a corpmate who hauls the ore from a co-op mining op and turns it all over at the conclusion of the op has done.

In a like manner, the pirate who neither gives nor asks quarter or ransom demonstrates trustworthiness, in that you can count on a certain course of action.

The disconnect is the person who tells you one thing, but does another. The person who drops a can in front of a starter station named "Free stuff. Take some!" and then pops the unsuspecting noob that does so. The pirate that offers ransom, takes the isk and blows you up anyway.

In my Eve time, I've found such disingenuous folks to be rare. Not unknown, just rare. I'm hopeful that is because Eve does mirror real life.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Corp hangar theft

Every now and then, some super sekret spiez haxxor wannabe decides to launch his 'career' by infiltrating Eve University, stealing the contents of the student hangars with a disposable alt and then flushing the alt as soon as the swag is traded to an accomplice.

This isn't really much of an accomplishment. Our mission leads us to be very open in recruitment. Our internal philosophy in dealing with new students is filled with generosity, logistical support and lots of free stuff. Free stuff is self service. Access is based on time in corp.

But management and staff aren't dimwits. Cans are logged. The logs are reviewed. Stock levels in the cans are managed to levels that balance the need to have things readily available vs the minimization of the inherent risk. The free stuff provided is valuable to a young character, but cheap to vets. Most of the time, our budding producers manufacture the items, using minerals that the mining students produce. We don't sell the stuff on the market, so it's not even an income stream hit.

The bottom line is that someone placed an alt inside Eve University for nine months in order to steal a sack of T1 frigates, meta 1/2 modules and starter skillbooks. The total value of the stack could have been earned in a weekend of team running missions or mining.

(slow golf clap) Whoopdee doopee doo. To the person who was at the keyboard behind Ambassador Maleth, I hope you are proud. I hope you tell all your Eve friends so that you will see how valued your activities are.

To our students I said:

Eve is a harsh and cold place. People will take advantage of those that try and help others. Get used to it.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Orca Updates...

Some changes to the Orca on the test server. All of them make sense and there are only a few more adjustments that I'd like to see, but all & all, I'd buy one with these stats right away.

The changes:

Added a 4th mid-slot. Allows for a 3 slot shield tank and a sensor booster. Swap tank for scanner, if you prefer.

Added 25 m3 to the drone bay and 25 to bandwidth. A flight of mediums and a flight of lights or 2 sentries and a flight of lights. More than enough, I think.

Added 10k m3 to the Corp hangar. 30k m3 was ok with me, so this is just gravy.

Mining Foreman III skill requirement changed to Mining Director I. Makes perfect sense.

BOM adjusted to include Corp Hangar Bay. The only component required that is not also used for carrier production is Cap Cargo Bays. Carrier producers will be able to shift production for the earlu adopters.

Can use 3 command links concurrently. This was bug fix, not a tweak.

In Action:

I've got some time on the test server with an Orca and a Hulk. So far, my initial thoughts about how the ship will be useful for me personally and for Uni have been confirmed.

With reasonable skills, you'll be able to fit/rig for more than 135k m3 in total cargo space (cargo + corp hangar). Solo mining in my Hulk, I can fill that in less than an hour and that fits my style of mining for about an hour at a time. No can flipper worries. Command links give me plenty of range so I should never have to move during that hour. If I want to mine in a system where I don't have good standings, it's much more convenient now. I can fly an interceptor to escort/web sling Kaye in the Orca with Hulk, salvage dessie & HAC or HIC in the ship hangar. When my mining session is over, a quick swap to the dessie allows for wreck clean up. Nasties can be discouraged by the cruiser size hulls, if need be.

In gang situations, the Orca will act as the warp in point for the haulers. Buffer space provided in the cargo bay and the haulers can access the corp hangar (with appropriate rights and with the hangar configured to allow it). Orca pilot tractors the cans and keeps the corp hangar full. Ship hangar holds support ships as required.

What I'd Change:

I don't think most folks are going to run 3 command links. Range & cycle time links plus tractor will be the default hi-slot fit, I think. A 4th hi-slot would allow a 2nd tractor or a salvager.

I still think that requiring Mining Barge V on a ship that can't fit any kind of mining laser is a bit odd. The Mining Director requirement is logical, as would be a requirement for Command Ships. I'm sorry, but the "It's a T1 ship! You can't have a T2 skill requirement!" holds no water with me. It's. A. Command.Ship. A T1 ship doesn't have the inherent ability to use 3 command links concurrently. Command ships do. Accept the fact that the Orca is a hybrid. It's T1.5 and get over it.

Just an aside...

Look at the ship model closely. Notice how the main hull is made of three modular sections with the superstructure sitting on top of the aft two sections. Now look at the ship models for an Ity III, Ity IV and Ity V. I'm just sayin'.... :)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

I/O Overload!

Quantum Rise Release date set for 11 Nov

QR Feature Set

CCP Zulupark's Ask Anything Responses

Also changes on the test server to Orca that I'll discuss separately....

Zulupark's Live Dev Blog answers were very, very interesting. Lots of nuggets of info and hints about things to be released at Fanfest.

Looks like we will shortly see:

- T3 ships
- non-static 'roid belts
- fuel bay added to Black Op ships
- Stealth local (at least in 0.0)

Of all of the comments/observations that Zulupark made the one that sparked the most volume and heat was this:

eKuivocal wrote:

5.) In short will hi-sec ever be nerfed? It seems crazy to me that you can chill in hi-sec and make just as much money running level 4's as risking your nuts in 0.0 ratting. Risk and reward between security systems should be rebalanced IMHO.

CCP Zulupark wrote:
High-sec nerfed:
Personally I'd like to see more lvl4 agents move more to low-sec, but that's just my personal opinion. This is a very delicate system and any kind of interference with it needs careful consideration. So far we haven't looked at it in any seriousness.

Our internal forums are alive with the debate about the desirability/implications of moving most/all L4 agents to low-sec, despite the huge disclaimer at the end of Zulupack's comment.

The argument for moving most/all L4 agents to low-sec goes like this:
  • Eve is predicated on non-consensual combat (Risk)
  • For a greater level of risk, there should be a greater level of reward
  • Therefore, the greatest isk rewards should be available to those players that play in the riskiest areas
  • Running L4 agents in Empire removes players from high levels of risk, but provides very high levels of rewards
  • Therefore, moving L4 agents to low-sec is desirable because it balances the risk/reward equation
The response runs like this:
  • Eve is a sandbox game. Forcing players to choose between lowering their standard of living or adopting a PvP playstyle is fundamentally inconstant with that design philosophy.
  • This is the latest whine from pirates who feel that target density is too low and the existing targets are too skilled to be profitably engaged.
  • Moving L4 agents to lowsec will only result in mission runners concentrating on high quality L3 agents. Mission runners understand that their PvE optimized ships are not viable for PvP.
  • What about other professions? Trading/production/invention all can earn significant isk, with low/no risk. Will you also propose moving all of these professions to low/null sec?
At least on the Uni boards, this issue has stirred up pages of comments.

But, there's nothing coming soon, m'kay?