Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Gladiators of Eve & Arena Warfare

There has been a bit of buzz over the past week or so about finding good fights and the idea of arenas in Eve. One of the first things that struck me was a series of tweets by the Mittani:

"I withdraw any support for 'arenas' or 'battlegrounds' in , it already exists in RvB. Holy shit this owns. "

"Red vs Blue is one of the coolest things in , holy shit. Been riftering all day, can't stop. "

I think its cool that Mittani is checking out RvB. Its a great corp, and for the amount of play time I have right now, I think its an awesome place for some quick, fun pvp. The topic of getting good fights continued though. Over at Scram Web, Toterra wrote about the existing "arenas" in Eve, and its actually a nice little guide detailing some of the places you can get guaranteed fights against some pilots who really know their stuff. We're talking Amamake, Tama, Hevrice, the Syndicate region, etc. Its a pretty handy little run down.

The next day, there was a mini-guide posted over at Rifter Drifter on finding good fights. It actually mentions a lot of the same information, but Wensley also throws in some tactical information such as how to use the in-game and Dotlan maps among other things. Between the two of these articles, one would think you've got everything you need to find some combat, and you definitely can.

My argument is this: Eve is a great game as it stands, but I think there could definitely be an arena style of play that would be both incredibly fun and not detrimental to the rest of the game at large. Taking a look at the current Eve, there is nothing like this. In looking for a fair fight, you never know if that one pilot really is just one. Does he have friends? Is there a Loki booster alt around the corner? Is he packing a cyno for that Nyx in a Pos a few systems over? For the most part, this is what makes the game great. Every fight could escalate, and someone can always tip the scales in their favor via support or tactics. Wouldn't it be nice though if once in a while you could ensure a fair fight?

Right now, there is no mechanic to get a legitimately fair battle. Low/Null sec both always have the possibility of someone else lurking around you. RvB is perhaps close at times, especially when FC's arrange fights. The problem here is that you get yelled at for bringing anything bigger than a cruiser, and there is no strategy to the gangs. Its a bunch of Rifters, Punishers and Merlins versus another blob of Rifters, Punishers and Merlins. FC's pick targets at random, or at best they pick the more well known RvBers, and ships blow up. Approach, Orbit, Scram, Web, Guns, Overheat. Repeat til you blow up or they do. Its either that or the typical asymmetric warfare characterized by typical Eve combat. Don't get me wrong, I love RvB. Its just that its not the "arena" that Mittens and others claim it to be.

What I want is a mechanic that provides a system akin to the Alliance Tournament. Set up a few "stadiums" across New Eden (maybe 2-3 in each region). Once you get to a stadium, you can register your fleet (or open it to corp/alliance), and set your Rules of Engagement. If you want 5v5, any fleet composition, then you've got it. If you want 10v10 with full Alliance Tournament balancing rules, its yours. Once you set the preferences, you lock your ships in. Then, the contract for this fight is either open to the public or you can make it private in order to get a fight with a specific opposition. There could even be betting on the fight. The two entities could put up isk and pimped out ships and modules for prizes. Other pilots can see a beacon on the overview akin to a cyno when the fight begins, but they are not able to attack, repair, or pass bonuses to anyone in the fight.

I know a lot of people will flame because they say a mechanic like this will ruin Eve. But let's look at the facts. For one, some alliances in the Syndicate region already ran their own little Alliance Tournament, which shows some interest to begin with. Congratulations to Rote Kappelle on the victory for that one by the way. Details and a few great videos are available on Jester's Trek, of course. We have a chance to create the coliseum of New Eden, where each one of us is a gladiator to take part. No neutral boosting, repping or station games. Just a fair fight, rules laid out, and everyone is watching. I'm on board.

Friday, February 24, 2012

BB33 -- Eve Online: Top Gun

Blog Banter 33: The Capsuleer Experience

"...we want to make the first days, weeks and months in EVE enjoyable and not just something ‘you have to plough through in order to get to the good stuff’" and the newly formed Player Experience team will focus on "...where and why people lose interest in EVE...".

"We invite you to pour your heart (or guts) out and tell us what you think is good or bad with the current new player experience and what you think could be done about the problems."


Being a rookie in Eve ain't easy. In fact, its down right hard. I still remember on my first day, I couldn't figure out for the life of me how to get to the next system over. I didn't know what a stargate was, let alone how to get to it or even use it. Its been a while since I've rolled a new character, but the experience is distinctly different for a brand new player versus one who is just making a new character. Legitimately learning the ropes can be tough. I personally had a great time. I was so impressed by the scale of the universe, all of the ships available, and how much you could do in space. I must admit though, I had some friends who were already playing the game, and that softened the learning curve quite a bit.  The tutorials are good, but they still aren't where they need to be. From my perspective, they're missing the heart of the game: player versus player combat.

When a new pilot goes through the tutorials, he sees all kinds of things. PVE content is a big focus. There are a ton of missions to run, and they introduce you to the various professions of Eve. This is all well and good, but what about the personality analysis on the homepage?  Where's the pirate tutorial? How about fleet commander? I've been thinking for a while about how to correctly implement this, and I still haven't reached a perfect conclusion. This is what I came up with though. First, Aura can take players through a little crash course on how fighting capsuleers is different. Call this course Advanced Tactics, or even Top Gun. If that doesn't sound appealing to a rookie, I don't know what would. Top Gun works like this:

  • A quick fitting primer  
    • Armor or Shield, not both. Buffer or active, not both. These aren't absolutes, but general rules of thumb. Show a couple example fittings, link to other races.
    • Fit the same size & type of weapons. No one wants to see a killmail of some noob running around with a blaster and two different sized railguns on his first Incursus.
    • Propulsion - Break down both Afterburners and MWD's.
    • Warp Scramblers/Disruptors - Necessity for solo or small gang. Webs don't hurt either.
  • Trials against more advanced AI computers -- Lesson Oriented
    • If the noob doesn't fit a scram, have the NPC warp off if it is about to explode. Explain both how and why it happened.
    • Gradually introduce electronic warfare into computer based AI. If a rookie gets fried by the NPC's energy neutralizer, explain it to them and how to combat it by either Nosferatu's, capacitor boosters, or other capacitor mods. Same goes for jamming, tracking disrupting, all of it. 
After graduation, the new capsuleer could read about the various routes they could go down, and what the implications would be. This should all directly tie into the personality analysis on the main site. If you get all excited about becoming a freedom fighter on the front page, you should be pointed in the right direction towards Faction Warfare after graduation. It only makes sense.

This is all technology CCP has right now, except for perhaps the responsive feedback part (Neuts really killed you, here's why). This could be so much more immersive. One would actually feel ties to the Federal Navy Academy or Republic Military School. They would also feel like they really got something out of it, as opposed to a bunch of random mods, some isk, and a couple T1 ships.  Lastly, the new pilots would also be much more prepared, more interested and less frustrated. Sounds like subscriber retention to me, CCP.

Now here's where people may want to burn me at the stake. I'm kind of partial to a little 1v1 arena setup within each of the respective training academy schools. Restrict it to pilots with SP below an Alpha clone (900k SP) to keep it relatively fair. This gives pilots the ability to test out skills in a fairly innocuous environment, but they get kicked out and have to get their combat fix elsewhere pretty darn quick. Again, getting the boot from the training league would bring up the references to the various professions, and the pilot would have to find their own way. This would require a significantly larger investment from CCP developers, but what better way to learn PvP than to actually take part (in a semi-controlled environment)? It lets the rookies duke it out without being blobbed to death by a Tengu fleet when they can barely avoid the Rifter they have. There will surely be the sharks that have 899,999 skill points, all as maxed out as a rookie pilot can be and looking for easy prey. Oh well. Let's be honest, everyone sucks when they have little enough SP to keep an Alpha clone, and the new pilots have to learn how to lose ships some time anyway.

I know the latter part will almost certainly never happen, but I like the idea. In the military, everyone does training exercises to gear up for the real event. Hell, even the Harry Potter kids had duels with real spells (If Jester can make HP references, I can too). It's the perfect level of training before the newest class of capsuleers hits new Eden.

Regardless, I think a PvP crash course is essential for the New Player Experience. The current experience is largely very good. It teaches the player about many aspects of the game and even begins to provide them with ships, modules and skillbooks necessary to get on their way. They're redesigning the Rookie Ships too! That's also a huge step up. At the end of the day though, it comes down to getting people involved in the part of Eve that keeps people around, and that is player versus player combat. That is what will take the new player experience to the next level. Its time to start sending New Eden's newest pilots to Top Gun.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Inferno Dev Blog Teaser

Just when it seemed like Dev Blogs had all but settled down, CCP Unifex posts one releasing the name and some core concepts for the summer expansion. Its mostly a lot of nothing, but he does hint at some interesting concepts.
  • "Reinvigorating Concord-sanctioned warfare" - Redesign of the War Dec mechanic, clearly. Should be interesting to see. This should have an interesting impact on CSM campaigns, especially Kelduum Revaan who has made this a key part of his platform. Given that it'll be done before he even could take office, that can't really be a major selling point anymore (besides revising it if CCP messes this one up). 
  • "Looking to introduce many new things which will mix up all forms of combat in a way not seen for a long time" - If anyone has even the slightest clue what this means, please post in comments immediately.
  • "Factional Warfare will be seeing changes to make it more relevant and fun by giving real reasons to fight for your faction" - This sounds somewhat encouraging. FW has been a growing interest of mine recently, and it sounds like it needs a boost pretty significantly. I hope Mittani hasn't convinced CCP to make Faction Warfare "Nullsec Lite" though.
  • "Revealing more concrete steps in the link between Eve and DUST 514" - Pretty straight forward here. Just please don't mess up Eve too much.
 The Dev Blog mostly seems like a lot of nothing, and Unifex admits that. It definitely is intriguing however. It sounds like there will be a series of small releases over the coming months, and the full Inferno will be released in the May-June time frame ("Just before the summer"). I think the big positive to take away from this is that there doesn't seem to be much fluff. CCP is apparently still operating along the same general philosophy as Crucible, but with the increased time they can roll out some bigger features as well. Its going to be quite the spring season with the CSM elections and all of the hopefully awesome Dev Blogs coming out.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Weekend Review 2/20

Happy Monday, capsuleers! Sorry, I know that wasn't funny. Anyway, not too much going on here, but wanted to get an update out as a few minor things this weekend. First of all, the interview with Kelduum and Hans Jagerblitzen is now up on the Voices From the Void Podcast. I haven't had a chance to get to listen to it yet, as RL is fairly busy this week. I'm hoping to find some time for it tonight though. I'm particularly looking forward to hearing more from Hans; I hope the V and V crew gave him some tough ones.

Wasn't able to log on a ton this weekend, but I still managed to get a couple good fights. I hopped in fleet yesterday evening, and the Red fleet was pretty quiet. A Vexor jumped into our fleet that was sitting on the Hageken gate, and I managed to get the killing blow, which is always nice. Other than that, it was a lot of hurry up and wait. We did manage to get into a fight with some war targets though. A scout relayed that they had tried to take cover in a dead end system, so we camped them in for a while. A Harbinger came out, quickly followed by a Guardian. The Harbinger was humping the gate, and so he eventually disengaged and jumped, but we made pretty quick work of the heavily webbed Guardian, and he dropped almost instantly. Its a shame none of his faction mods dropped. No big deal though. As it turns out, my trade alt climbed over 10 billion isk over the weekend! I may have to take out some more shiny ships and have some fun. Or maybe a little birthday present to myself (early March, take note of course). Perhaps a pimped Daredevil or something? I'm certainly open to suggestions!

Look for a review of Kelduum and Hans as I get a chance to listen to the V&V podcast later. Fly safe everyone.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Hey Look! Jack Dant Fixed Lowsec!

Okay, if you haven't yet seen Jack Dant's proposal for lowsec changes, go read here. Don't worry, I'll wait.

I'm going to say it up front -- I think this proposal is damn near perfect. Right now, lowsec seems to be the heart of small gang and solo pvp. I'm hardly an expert on the area, but as I've traveled through, I rarely see gangs larger than 10-15 pilots. Its not hard to find solo pilots, or least smaller gangs of 2-4 pilots. I can't speak for all of New Eden, but I love the idea of having this part of the pvp spectrum available. Nullsec seems to be more of an "all-or-nothing" situation, where vast swathes are empty until you hit an alliance hub with greater than 200 in local. Low security space has small groupings of pilots who don't want anything to do with sovereignty or CTA's. These pilots just want their Fight Club, as Hans Jagerblitzen is describing it.

I love picturing lowsec as Fight Club, except with current mechanics, I'd be out of highsec pretty darn quick. I'm already sitting at -0.4 from the occasional Hulk or pod gank, so it wouldn't be long before I hit -2.0, where you first start getting locked out of highsec systems. This isn't super appealing to me. I love being able to travel freely in highsec, and being held out of trade hubs for blowing up a few unfortunate pilots in lowsec doesn't leave a good taste in my mouth. Like almost everyone else at this point, I have alts that could help run logistics, but it can just be a pain in the ass sometimes to go through the hoops for the ship you need that's only two jumps away in a 0.7 security system.

The Dant proposal allows the casual combatant to still maintain travel rights, so long as he doesn't pod (in lowsec or highsec) or gank people in highsec. Also, no GCC for aggression towards anyone with a negative sec status is beautiful. I'd still push for a lower GCC timer in general, but let's let pilots fight  denizens without any trouble. The other great part about the proposal is that anyone who wants to go full "-10" still has the option, and they should. I understand why people would want to go pirate, whether its RP or to just be a general bad ass, and there definitely should still be ways to do so. It's just not personally for me at this point because it seems like it would take too long to grind back up to even -5.0 security status, and its just not something I want to go through at this point.

So where does that leave us? Well I think it comes round about to the CSM 7 discussion again. I think at this point I'm becoming fairly certain that my vote is heading towards Hans Jagerblitzen. Hans has the Dant Proposal as part of his campaign platform, and in general, he seems to have a good head on his shoulders about all things empire. He wants to foster empire space in terms of casual pvp, and as a member of Autocannons Anonymous, he is a part of one of the better FW corporations for the Minmatar Republic. Overall, Hans is one of the better candidates out there, he's not from a power bloc, and he supports sensible changes to the areas I've flown in the most over the past year. I'm on board, and here's two votes for you Hans!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Eve Blog a Day Pair: CSM 7 Banter and My Eve Persona

I try to keep up with Eve Blogs as best I can (and as much as I'm interested, of course), but sadly most of that is done over my iPhone. I tend to read via the Leaky Capsule app, which maintains an outdated Eve Blog Pack that updates in application. As an aside, the Leaky Capsule app is awesome for iPhone users. Its not as clunky as iClone, and still gives you characters, skills training and a blog outlet. Anyway, I tend not to keep up with too much else outside of this as I'm not in front of a computer screen too much recently. I did manage to check in at Poetic Stanziel's blog today though, and I really like the concept of the Eve Blog a Day. I probably wont keep up with all of them, but the most recent two have interested me.

Eve Blog a Day #019: Who Are You Voting For?
Well I suppose I could (and probably will) write a whole post about this one. At the end of the day, I haven't quite decided yet though. The CSM elections are interesting because it is a small enough scale that your vote could actually matter. I still vote in elections in the US, but I'd be lying if I didn't admit that it seems a bit pointless sometimes. Regardless, this influences my CSM voting philosophy. For example, I think its pointless for me to vote for The Mittani. He's going to get elected regardless of my vote due to just how large GSF is. I personally think that Mittens has done a great job on the CSM, even if he can be a bit biased perhaps. He does seem to do quite a bit of posturing, but overall I think that he and the other CSM reps from CSM 6 have been great representatives of what the playerbase needed over the past year. Regardless though, I will not be voting for any representative of the major power blocks because I feel that that throws away a vote for one of the smaller scale candidates who stands a chance at getting in.

That said, I've still got plenty of research to do. I've got a few thoughts so far, but nothing is set in stone. Its easier for me to say who I don't like. Two quick ones are Kelduum Revaan and Riverini of Eve University and Eve News respectively. Both strike me as a bit disingenuous and self centered.

To me, Kelduum just seems a bit fake. In the recent RVB vs Eve Uni war, Kelduum couldn't undock with his troops. Now in all fairness, it seems like few of the current CSM 6 members have seen any pvp action on their main characters in a simliar time frame (The Mittani, Seleene, Two Step, Meissa, any of them really), but there's really no reason not fight RVB in this case at least. Both organizations are in favor of good, clean pvp even if it can be a bit blobby among other things.

Riverini is just terribad. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate EN24 to some extent, and at least by killboard stats, he seems to be a decent pilot. But anyone who has read EN24 for more than a week or so know its biased as hell, and that Riverini is the guy who at least considered bringing us the How To on Botting. Plus, the other thing is that I don't think you want the politicians running the news papers or vice versa. Overall, Riverini just doesn't seem to have much of a platform, and the bias and lack of direction makes me think that this is just an egotistical push at E-fame. I'll pass. Plus, there's now a thread of why not to like Riverini, although its mostly just for the lolz.

So anyway, I'm still searching, and I have a lot of research to do. A not-so-small part of me still wishes Ripard Teg would run for CSM 7. I think my only reservation would be that it would slow down his blogging/play time, and that would mean less enjoyment for all. Oh well, that's the way life is. Anyway, I'll keep everyone posted and update as I make a decision.

Eve Blog a Day #020: What's Your Eve Persona?
First of all, a quick kudos to the Eve team for the new website. As I said before, it makes Eve feel new again, and that is a great thing. I took the Personality test, and here's the result:

Pirate was followed by freedom fighter and bounty hunter respectively. So it sounds pretty clear that I should be in lowsec soon, right? Well, yes actually. I'm still very much enjoying RVB, and in fact this weekend was quite a busy one for me. At the end of the day though, RVB can still sometimes be too constructed, and too many are afraid to get off station or out of the 10-25 man standard fleet composition of frigates, cruisers and BCs. I'd really like to get more into lowsec pvp for a few reasons. For one, in generally seems less blob-oriented. There is a lot of solo and small gang pvp to be had from what I've seen. Also, the ease of mobility is a plus. I can run to or from high sec without much problem to reship/resupply and there are no bubbles or anything in the way. That's definitely appealing to me. So we'll see where it goes. My goals in Eve can change quite a bit, but I know its certainly aligned with some sort of pvp for the rest of my career. 

A big thanks to Poetic Stanziel for the Blog a Day initiative!

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Places You Will Go

I've decided to do a post very much akin to Rixx Javix's "Getting Around the Neighborhood" series. I'm a big fan of statistics and infographics, so I figured I'd throw this one out there. Let's start right off with the graphic.

Although its still pretty condensed, this was actually year of pretty high mobility for me. With 0uch, I got out to the Ammatar and Curse regions for the first time. RVB has had me get to know the Lonetrek area pretty well, and its arguably become my home for the larger part of the year. Lastly, my brief time with MV put me into AAA space, including my first trip through HED-GP into Catch. I even got my first ride on a Titan. I saved over that picture (doh!), but I do have the first friendly Nyx I've interacted with.

Overall its been a pretty good year. I've hardly become one of the space elite, but I'm still enjoying the ride, going into almost my 4th year!

Eve's End Game & the Hunt

I've been considering for a while what Eve's End Game is, and I think the question even bounced around the blogosphere for a bit over the past couple months. I was a bit surprised to see that the overwhelming majority of people believed it to be null sec fleet combat. I can't say I really blame them that much though, given the focus that CCP puts on it and the narrative surrounding it. I just can't seem to wrap my head around it though. Being a part of a 300+ man fleet is cool for the sake of sheer magnitude, but I can't honestly say that following an FC's barking orders is how I want to spend my time.

As cool as it is to ride a Titan bridge and get into an absolute slug fest with Supercaps et al, I can't really see much skill in it. You spend months skilling up for the FOTM, fit the FOTM as per alliance mandate, make a few jumps, engage opposition and head home. I suppose if you're the one scouting and doing intel, its great, but to just be one of the hoard seems a bit dull to me.

To me, the end game of Eve is being the hunter. If you step into my system, I want to be able to methodically find you, trap you and kill you. I want the rush of the hunt and the thrill of victory. The only places where I can see this mentality occurring currently are lowsec and perhaps NPC null. Even in RVB, the tendency is rare for corp members of either side to stray from 10-25 man fleets. I feel like the most interesting and exciting fights in New Eden come from well organized small gang warfare or even solo fights. Its for these reasons I love the Alliance Tournament as well. What's better than evenly matched, crafted teams going at it to the death (except for the Hydra/0utbreak match, of course)?

As a result of all of this thinking, I'm making a concerted effort to get more into lowsec adventures. The Syndicate region still seems to be calling my name as well, but I'll figure it all out. For some reason, Eve feels new again. And I like it.