Saturday, December 11, 2010

Incursion Rocket improvements - An EFT Analysis of my Claw vs Flycatcher fight

So last night I had a run in with a Flycatcher. A while ago I solo'd a flycatcher with a Rifter, so I thought that my Claw would provide for a good fight, but one that I would win. I was wrong. In short, thanks to the rocket boost from Incursion, rockets are now significantly more powerful then before.

Fortunatly my enemy in that fight managed to loose his ship soon afterwords, and the loss was posted to, so I have his likely fit. Lets have a look:

[Flycatcher, hydra flycatcher]
Ballistic Control System II

Catalyzed Cold-Gas I Arcjet Thrusters
Medium Shield Extender II
Invulnerability Field II
Stasis Webifier II
Warp Scrambler II

75mm Gatling Rail II, Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge S
75mm Gatling Rail II, Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge S
Rocket Launcher II, Caldari Navy Thorn Rocket
Rocket Launcher II, Caldari Navy Thorn Rocket
Rocket Launcher II, Caldari Navy Thorn Rocket
Rocket Launcher II, Caldari Navy Thorn Rocket
Rocket Launcher II, Caldari Navy Thorn Rocket
Rocket Launcher II, Caldari Navy Thorn Rocket

Small Anti-EM Screen Reinforcer I
Small Warhead Calefaction Catalyst II

That is a nasty little ship! No wonder my Claw had difficulty. Tech II rigs even. Lets feed it into EFT and see what difference the new rocket boost made.

 Here is the image from EFT before the Incursion patch:
Here is the image from EFT after the Incursion patch with the boost to rockets:

As you can see we have gone from a firepower of 225 DPS to 235 DPS. Is that all? Did CCP fail again to provide a meaningful boost. Not quite. The problem with rockets was not their DPS, rather it was the fact that the velocity of the target could significantly affect their damage. In other words, they were least effective against the very same fast frigate sized ships they were targetting. The main change to rockets was a nearly two-fold increase in their explosion velocity, making them very effective against small fast ships like my Claw. Lets have a look.

Here is the damage graph for that fly-catcher before Incursion:
And here is the damage post-Incursion:

There is an increase from 132 DPS to 179 DPS!. That is 35% increase.

Once resistances against armour are taken into account there is a 91 DPS vs 67 DPS. Since my armour repairer can heal about 17 HP per second the net damage is 74 DPS vs 50 DPS. This means that effectively he was able to chew threw my armour buffer 50% faster than before.

So capsuleers beware of rocket Kestrals and Flycatchers. They no longer suck!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

During a fight: adapt to the enemy or die

Those who are able to adapt and change in accord with the enemy and achieve victory are called divine.
-Sun Tzu

Last night I had a very nice little solo fight. I was in my Claw and took on a Dramiel. After dancing with him for a bit I eventually engaged him on a gate. To be honest I didn't think I had much of a chance. A Dramiel is a deadly ship. Basically it embodies everything you could want in a frigate (tracking bonus, falloff bonus, damage bonus) and adds in three drones, a faction ship tank and un-godly speed. To even have a chance I figured I had to engage him at point-blank range and hope for the best. I loaded my best anti-shield ammo (RF Phased plasma as I had not brought along EMP) and hoped for the best.

As he power-approached me on a gate I knew the fight was on. Instantly I activated everything but my armour repper. Within seconds both of us had lost shields. This was a little odd. I figured that he would have a shield extender. But as he hit armour two things happened.. One, I stopped doing any damage. Two he started repping his armour. Rather than a shield buffer tanked ship I was against an active armour tank. Very interesting

This is where the title of the article comes in. No plan ever survives first contact with an enemy. Time for a new plan. After checking the icons on the overview it was apparent that he had a tracking disruptor on me messing with my tracking. Even my fast tracking 125mms autocannons were not able to keep up with a fast moving ship so my DPS had dropped to zero :(. Meanwhile he was still hitting me with his guns, and his three drones. There was no way my SAR (small armour repper) could keep up to that onslaught. I needed to cut the angular velocity between us and do it quick.

I aligned for the sun and started motoring in a straight line*. This gave him a harder target to try and orbit. Thanks to my scram his speed advantage was cut significantly. I soon started to pull a couple km of range on him and angular velocity fell. My guns started doing damage again. Things started to shut down on my ship as I started to run out of cap. We were both using NOS on each other to power the armour repper, but we were both likely dry at this point so it was no use. At this point he should have reacted to my change in tactics. His plan of track-disrupting me was no longer effective, but he still had an advantage of speed and range. He should have started to kite me at this point. His ship had a fall-off bonus, plus his drones work at range, plus he had a warp-disruptor, so he could have moved to 10km and just waited for me to pop.  At the very least he could have warped away (my scram had capped out and so had his disruptor). Instead I managed to keep him between 2000m and 3000m, well within both of our fall-off range. Quite likely however he was having similar cap problems as me so instead he continued to try and maximize angular velocity which played to my strengths.

I had a slight advantage of higher resists, a tech-2 repper (no cap though), and a larger buffer. He had more overall DPS (thanks to the drones) but was shooting RF EMP which was fighting against my highest resistances. In the end my choice of going with Phased Plasma because I had no EMP decided it. I was in 40% structure as he popped. GF all around I looted and then limped to high-sec to repair my burnt out afterburner.

The moral of the story is to have a plan at the start of a fight, but pay attention. When things change either adapt, or run. Look at the icons on the overview showing e-war effects and note what is being done to you. If they loose point, and you are about to loose a 100m isk ship... then run. There were lots of things I was ready to react to. For example. if he had tried to kite me at 15km, I would have switched to his drones.

*Note: The other option at this point would be to approach gate so that his orbit would crash into the gate, killing his velocity both transversal and angular.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Shameless plug ... Proposal in the assembly hall

I have put the first point from my 5 Things to improve the new player experience in the Assembly hall for the CSM to look at. Go and have a look at [Proposal] Every Race Needs a 'Rifter' and also a 'Thrasher'

I would appreciate it if people went and gave it a thumbs up (or thumbs down).


Thursday, December 2, 2010

New T2 Ammo Choices for Short Range

One of the big changes with the new expansion is the boost to the short range T2 ammo. Long range T2 ammo has always been popular. Barrage, Scorch, and to a lesser extent Null have all been used extensivelly to increase the range of short range weapons despite the fact that they deliver a significantly lower damage load to faction ammo. The short range T2 ammo does deliver the same punch as the faction ammo, however it came with many severe drawbacks to things like signature radius and cap recharge. This combined with lousy tracking made short range T2 ammo drastically inferior to faction ammo.

With Incursion this has changed. Short range T2 ammo is now boosted. Gone are the weird crippling side-effects. Reduced is the tracking penalty, and boosted is the damage so that it now hits significantly harder than faction ammo. Lets have a look start with Autocannons since I know most about them...


In the past when  going up against a ship that I believed was armour tanked I would load RF Fusion into my guns. I had barrage for the rare case when I wanted to kite, but usually I just wanted to get up close and personal. Now there is another option to choose from...

Hail S has delivers a combined load of 15.4 base damage. This is a full 12 % more then the equivalent RF Fusion ammo. While the optimal range is the same as RF fusion S, Hail has the additional drawback of 50% less falloff and 30% less tracking. In effect this means that against slow moving and/or large signature radius targets, if you can get to optimal range, Hail is what you want to use.

Lets imagine an example of two identically fit armour tanked Rifters engaging each other, both trying to get into point blank range. One has loaded Hail S and the other has Republic Fleet Fusion S. As they approach the RF Fusion Rifter is doing more damage. However once they are both at 500 metres, each being scrammed and webbed with a low transversal velocity, the Rifter with Hail S will be doing nearly 12% more damage. In the end the Rifter with Hail S will win. If the Rifter with RF Fusions S had instead tried to keep range at 5000 meters or so, then the ship firing Hail S would be deep into falloff and the Rifter firing R Fusion would win. However if the ship with Hail S had instead loaded Barrage S, then the tables would turn again.

In other words for a Rifter... at 1000 m

Hail > RF Fusion > Barrage

at 3000 m
RF Fusion > Hail > Barrage

at 5000 m

Barrage > RF Fusion > Hail

Interestingly, because of the tracking penalty

at 100 m or any situation where a combination of angular velocity and signature radius causes tracking issues to start...

RF Fusion > Hail > Barrage

I should also note that there is one case where Hail completely fails... shooting at drones. They are too fast / small. So don't go engaging that Ishkur with Hail S fitted.

Pulse Lasers

Pulse Lasers face a similar situation. Conflagration now has the same range as imperial Multi. However it has the following two drawbacks. Like Hail, tracking is 30% slower, it also consumes 25% more capacitor to fire. IOW it is the same as the old Conflagration but with less of a tracking penalty and 10% more damage. Since Lasers have a pretty decent range to start with, I think that this ammo is going to be pretty popular in slug-fests. Expect many a pilot to fit this ammo type along with scorch for when things get close.


I think a lot of Hybrid weapons users are going to be very disappointed. Like Pulse Lasers, Blasters have an improvement to damage output and less of a penalty to tracking. The problem is that blasters are already cursed with close range and mediocre tracking that this ammo just magnifies it's weaknesses. I can see it being used in rare cases to squeeze out a more DPS in EFT, but in space this ammo just isn't going to cut it. I really wish CCP had decided to give this ammo the sort of boosts it needs to make blasters a more viable weapon type.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

No More Learning Skills

Someone at CCP finally got a clue.... NO MORE LEARNING SKILLS!!

This is a huge change for new players. It means that they can actually get on with playing the game, not messing around learning useless skills because they are worried that a year down the road they will fall behind in training relative to what they could be.

Thanks CCP... you make me happy long time :):):):)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

5 Things a NEW PLAYER can do to improve their PVP experience

Earlier I wrote an article describing 5 things I would like CCP to do to EVE to improve the experience. It got me thinking about what a new player can do to improve their PvP experience.

5. Take it easy on the learning skills
So many people say to train up learning skills and use implants. They are carebears. You want to kill stuff now, not wait a month to train up stuff that won't help you kill stuff now, and will take at least another year before they pay off. Filling your head with implants is even worse..... you PvP and you will get podded. Unless you have unlimited ISK having expensive implants will make PvP seem too expensive. Instead you should concentrate on gunnery, spaceship command and other skill that will help you blow stuff up. Don't completely ignore the learning skills, but don't concentrate on them either.
EDIT: That advise sure went out of date fast! In a couple of weeks there will be no more learning skills :)

4. Aspire to fly interceptors in fleet, not just another DPS boat
It has been said far too many times that one of the biggest mistakes a player can make is to rush too fast into larger ships. The next ship, after perhaps destroyers, that a new PvP player should go for is an interceptor. Inties are absolutely critical to any fleet. They are also one of the most active roles. Whether they are scouting up ahead, or racing to grab a point on an enemy at a belt, or just running with fleet as a tackler, the interceptor is what makes fleet PvP happen. Additionally, flying an interceptor is a great learning experience. All of the skills you learn flying an interceptor will be useful when flying other ships. Every race is blessed with a great fleet interceptor so train for them and fly them. (Note: the fleet interceptors are the ones with a bonus to warp disruption range)

3. Do some solo PvP using T1 Frigates
Start by reading The Altruists blog posting about 'Interceptor Fishing'. As mentioned before this blog posting covers a basic strategy of using a T1 frigate to bait, trap and kill a common T2 frigate. Following this strategy will accomplish several things. Firstly it demonstrates the basic strategy of grabbing someone, pinning them down, wailing on them with all you got, and hoping that your tank will outlast his. This may not be the most sophisticated strategy, but it does work. By flying solo a bunch of times, loosing lots of cheap ships that you can afford to loose, you will learn how to handle yourself in a fight. You will also learn what not to do when you yourself are flying a T2 Interceptor.

2. Join a corp that actually does PvP
I can't stress this enough. If you are not in a corp yet, or worse, in a corp that concentrates on Level 4 missions and wormholes, then leave. There are lots of PvP oriented corps out there that will take relatively new players with the right attitude. If you can't find one the easiest way IMHO is just do some solo PvP in a T1 frigate in NPC 0.0 or in low-sec. The guys who kill you.... talk to them about joining up.

1. Take an Agony Unleashed PVP-Basic course
I may be biased but if this class and the subsequent roam does not rock your world..... EVE may not be the game for you.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

New Blog from Fellow Agony Member Discusses 'Interceptor Fishing'

Just wanted to give a shout-out to Azual and his new blog The Altruist . He opens with a really great article about Solo PVP in 0.0, or the art of interceptor fishing. This is definitely worth a read for anyone new to PVP. Interceptor fishing is a common strategy we recommend to new pilots in Agony. In short it is an easy way to reliably kill expensive T2 interceptors with T1 frigates. Take a look ;)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

5 Things to improve the new player experience

Looking at the recent Quarterly Economic Report I am really stunned at the lousy performance of new players in PVP. Basically players with between 1 million and 5 million SP (about 4 months of play) have what seems to be a 30 to one death to final blow ratio. This is completely disheartening and remedying this should be the #1 priority for CCP on the next expansion. Here are 5 things that I can think of that they should do. Some should be easy for CCP to implement, some require some additional game design, but all of them are doable and would help new players get over the initial start in EVE.

1. Every Race Needs a 'Rifter' and also a 'Thrasher'

The Rifter and the Thrasher are pretty much the perfect T1 frigate and destroyer. As a result these are the perfect ship for a new player in the first couple of weeks of play. Fast, easy to fly, easy to fit, decent DPS, decent tank, not too expensive, what is not to like? None of the other races has a Tier-3 frigate or destroyer comes even close. Let look at them and figure out what could be changed to give players who are not Matari something to play with in the first month.

Amarr Punisher
The simple problem with the Punisher is that it lacks the midslots to actually tackle anything. I get it that Amarr ships are supposed to be armour tanked and slow, but combining that with having to choose between fitting either a propulsion mod or a webifier is not going to work. Move a low slot to a mid slot.

Amarr Coercer
If a Punisher is bad with two midslots, the Coercer is useless with only one. Again move one low-slot to a mid to give it at least a chance.

Caldari Merlin/Gallente Tristan
Split weapon layouts = bad. This is doubly true for new players as it is for experienced player. A new player climbing into one of these ships is going to quickly realize that they need to train a whole lot more to be proficient at both hybrids and missiles. This should be fixed. Give both ships a 3/3 turret/launcher hard-point configuration which ups the DPS and give more fitting options for low SP characters.

Gallente Catalyst
Is this ship is designed to get up nice and close to an enemy and pound on them with unholy DPS? Not really, it is too slow to get in range to take advantage of its tracking bonus, has a useless falloff bonus, and no damage bonus. What exactly is this ship supposed to do? Swapping the falloff bonus for a 5% per level damage bonus would be a start.

Caldari Cormorant
This ship really can fill one role, long range sniper with negligible DPS. In a pack of 30 this is useful, otherwise it is just pointless. I say return this ship to it's Caldari roots and give it 7 missile slots and the appropriate bonuses. With the up-coming rocket buff this might actually work as a awesome platform.

2. Areas that encourage small ship vs small ship PvP

A 50 million SP character flying a BS has about 10x the DPS and 20x the tank of a 1 million SP character flying a Rifter. However a 50 million SP character flying a T2 Frigate has about 2x the DPS and 2x tank of a 1 million SP character flying a T1 frigate. We need parts of space that restrict ship size to smaller ships. I know we already have a bit of that with wormholes and missions, but I am talking about whole constellations of NPC 0.0, low-sec and high-sec that have ship size restrictions.

I think areas like this would be very popular for both new and old players. It does not create artificial boundaries as to what players can do, nor does it create carebear safe-zones where PvP is impossible. Rather it would provide an environment where new players could PvP and actually have a chance against all of the ships they come up against, rather then be restricted to the role of tackler.

3. Injectable skill complete with training

You remember when you started playing EVE. Everything seemed to have soooooo much potential. And then you realized you would have to wait before getting to the next level. I understood that the skill-training by time thing made sense, however it sure was frustrating that no matter how many missions I did in the first few hours, it mattered not to my characters experience level. I was not going to get into a destroyer for another day and there was nothing I could do about it.

Wouldn't it have been nice if there was some experience point like reward for that first 12-hour marathon of playing. That there was something I could do to get over the initial bump and start flying ships with funky new things like afterburners and maybe even get into a Tier-3 frigate or a destroyer. Instead I was frustrated and considered quitting (many do at this point).

So what I suggest is that as a reward for some of the early missions have special skill-books that inject fully trained skills to Level 3 into the pod-pilots head. Just have enough of the core skills injectable this way. I am not talking about advanced skills, nor skill to a high level, but enough to shave off a few hours to the training time for the handful of skills that new players need to feel like they are getting somewhere in the game. Making isk and grinding faction standings are not enough.... they need to feel like they are getting something similar to exp as well.

4. Discount packs of skills

Another problem new characters have is isk. Asking them to spend a million or so on skillbooks is quite a stretch. There should be some sort of steep discount for buying a pack of skillbooks that are common for new characters. Say 200k isk for all of the skillbooks needed for basic level certificates for each race. This would go a long way to making it easier for new players to not get frustrated on the first couple of days.

5. NPC 0.0 needs a boost

For many pilots the search for where to PvP is a challenge. High-sec and low-sec have complicated rules of engagement that typically leave a bad taste in the mouth, and favour higher SP characters. After all, a Rifter tackling a Brutix on a low-sec gate gets insta-popped by gate guns, while a Brutix tacking a rifter has little trouble tanking the guns.

Instead players need a free-for all area where anything goes, and has station to dock in, get repairs, upgrade clone, etc. That is where NPC 0.0 comes in. Unfortunately with the Dominion patch these areas are mostly devoid of life. Since there is no sovereignty, there are no system upgrades. Without system upgrades their profitability relative to SOV 0.0 is greatly diminished. I say these systems should be upgradable. They are controlled by Pirates, I can't think of a better magnet than that. Anomalies of all types should abound providing players with equal isk opportunities as upgraded SOV space and lots of opportunities to Pew-Pew without interference.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Tidbits from the Quarterly Economic Report

The new Quarterly Economic Report is out and it contains quite a bit of interesting information. This is a 'MUST READ' document for every EVE player as it not only provides a nice summary of information that can be gleamed from in-game, but it also give some information that can not be gathered from any other source. This quarter, I can happily report, Dr. EnjoG is concentrating on PVP stuff so there are some nice little goodies in it. These are my comments on what is contained.

1. Eve Population Drop!
For years the EVE population grew steadily. However this trend seems to have stopped. Although the trend is still slow growth, the reality is that after each spike the population is dropping. With the recent disasterous Tyrannis expansion we now have it dropping to pre-expansion levels. No wonder CCP is finally listening to the CSM on what players want.

2. Skill points matter (new characters need not apply)
This I think is the most disturbing graph I have seen. Basically it shows that new characters with < 10m SP and even with < 20m have pretty much no chance in PvP. It shows that players with < 10m SP account for 24% of all ship losses, yet make up only 2% of all kills. Considering that 10m SP corresponds to around 9 months of play this is very disheartening. I can sort of understand the < 5m SP characters doing so poorly (but not as spectacularly poor as they seem to be), but if even characters with nearly 9 months of time devoted to the game can not really participate in PvP, then there is a problem. EVE really needs to do something to improve the PvP game-play for inexperienced players. I am not saying that they need to nerf SP, but rather they need to provide a mechanism (like making factional warfare not suck for instance) for new characters to actually have fun doing PvP.
3. Minmattar Rule ... Gallente Drool
Looking at the Measures of Success section we see the trends for PvP ships. What strikes me is that Matari ships have 5 (Hurricane, Vagabond, Sabre, Rifter, Thrasher) of the top 10 ships landing a final blow. Two of the other ships are pirate faction ships that are effectively Minmattar ships with added bonuses to Gallente skills. Also there is not a single Gallente ship in the the top 10.

4. The Rise of the Super-Carrier
It seems like Super-Carriers are getting a bit out of control. Ever since the Dominion patch boosted their effectiveness greatly, they are now the de-facto blunt instrument used by large rich alliances to steamroll their enemies. Their massive DPS with fighters and bombers means that they can decimate a field of ships from capitals on down. With a massive tank they can usually survive simply by logging off when caught unprepared. As a result the number of ships being produced greatly outnumbers then number of ships being destroyed by a ridiculous margin. In July, August and September about 45 super carriers were destroyed, and about 480 produced! I know personally for my alliance this may cause a lot of grief. No-one I know wants to play Super-Caps online, yet that is the direction Null-Sec may be heading.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

You know you have spent too much time on Ventrilo when...

Playing EVE a lot can lead to interesting manners on conference calls at work.

Makes sense in EVE:
Toterra has launched scan probes.

Does not make sense in RL:
Toterra is rebooting the database server. (followed by someone asking who is Toterra)

Makes sense in EVE:
BREAK BREAK ... Pandemic Legion Recon entering system

Does not make sense in RL
BREAK BREAK ... Microsoft Sales Rep is here.

Make sense in EVE:
That is a lot of ISK.

Does not make sense in RL:
That is a lot of ISK.

Anyone else have some embarrassing moments?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thank-you CSM/CCP/EVE Players for Delaying Incursion Until it is Ready.

I can only assume that it is thanks to the huge amount of lobbying from the CSM and EVE players that CCP has actually decided to go down the sane course of delaying the next expansion until it is ready. We all know that EVE promises two free expansions per year, but I think that we can all agree that we would prefer a complete and functional expansion over the crap that we got with Dominion and Tyrannis. Those two expansions were clearly rushed out the door to meet this arbitrary deadline that frankly, nobody cares about. Instead, for the upcoming Incursion expansion, they are going to release the easy stuff on time in November, but they are going to give the big, hard, possibly game-breaking stuff another layer or two of polish first and releasing them in complete form this January.

Bravo to CCP for seeing the light.
Bravo to the CSM for pressing so very hard.
Bravo to the player base for supporting the CSM.

Remembrance Day (Veteren's Day in the US)

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

-Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Shoutouts to Two new Podcasts

I guess a few people liked my top 5 article. I was mentioned on two new podcasts so I thought I would return the favour.

The EVE Report

EVE Commune

Both of these podcasts are really great and full of good information. So go and listen to them and show your support.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

See the fitting on a ship in your hanger without boarding - Now you can :)

After my and others moaning and complaining that you can't see what is fit on a ship that you are not in, CCP has, in one of the recent patches, given us that ability. Here is how to do it.

Right click on any ship in your hanger and select 'View Contents' like so:

You should now see the contents of the ship with information about what is fit.

Thanks CSM, this has made Toterra happy!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Top 5 Overpowered PVP Items in EVE (that no one ever uses)

You can't start playing EVE without hearing about all of the balance issues. "Nerf the Drake", "Give a 4th bonus to Assault Frigs", "Blasters Suck", etc. You get the impressions that EVE is full of balance issues so only a handful of popular items are ever seen. I have a different take on it. While some items do suck, I can never understand why so many OMFGPWN items are almost never seen. Here is my list of the top 5 seriously overpowered items in EVE, that you almost never see fitted.

5. Target Painters: One of these fitted on one ship in fleet increases the turret tracking for all ships in the fleet more than a scripted tracking computer, plus increases damage for all missiles, plus increases lock time for all ships.

4. Smart-Bombs: Always hits for full damage. Immune to ECM. Does not need to wait for a lock to fire. Hits every single target in range simultaneously. Hits missiles, bombs, drones.

3. Bombs from multiple bombers: One bomber by itself is pretty common, but also pretty useless. The fact is that 7 bombers firing at the same time can destroy most non-cap ships. And like smart-bombs (above) it is an AOE weapon so it hits all of the ships in range at the same time.

2. E-war Drones: The drone bay of a Rupture has can have effectively the same ECM strength as a T2 multi-spec ecm mounted on a blackbird. A large Tracking Disruptor drone has the same disruption capability as an unscripted T2 Tracking disruptor. This effectively turns your drone bay into extra mid-slots.

And the Number 1 overpowered item in EVE that almost nobody uses...

1. Destroyers: Take the Agony Wolfpack class if you want to know what these can do!

Retired bonus item: Anything that reduces signature radius. A year ago nobody cared about this, but as Armour HAC fleets have shown recently.... this is a critically important characteristic.

Edit: My point is not for these things to be nerfed, but rather the opposite.... go and try fits with these items.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Some Solo Rupture Fun in Curse and Catch

For my earlier post about the Rupture I had tried experimenting using a 800mm plate and fitting a bit more gank. The result was pretty unspectacular and I went back to using the 1600mm plate Rupture as described in the article. The problem with the 800mm is that the tank kept on running out just a little bit too soon, resulting in my own death instead of my enemies. So I thought to avenge my failures with a few solo roams.

For various reasons Providence right now is mostly set temporarily blue to Agony so I had to wander further and check out curse and catch. First blood was a satisfying Taranis kill in 9KOE-A. The Taranis has just dispatched a Pandemic Legion Dramiel (Very nice kill btw) when I showed up. He warped off when I appeared. I quickly bookmarked the wreck (it was quite a bit off gate) and warped off myself, so I could warp back to the wreck. I am not sure exactly what the Taranis pilot was thinking but I imagine when he saw me disappear off d-scan he felt safe enough to return to the wreck. I landed pretty much on him. Normally a Taranis is a pretty tough cookie, however once I locked him I saw that he was deep deep into structure (must have been a nice fight with the Dramiel) and was pretty much instapopped.

I got a nice deadspace afterburner from the Dramiel wreck. Nice! I returned home to drop off the loot.

The next night I returned to the same hunting grounds. Things were very quiet at first. Then I came upon a Manticore Stealth Bomber sitting uncloaked by a gate. Assuming it must be a tarp I checked the other side and found nothing. Quickly returning the Bomber was still there. 10 seconds later it was now a wreck. The pilot must have woken up as his ship exploded and his pod warped off. A quick check of the wreck provided for some more high priced goodies He was hauling some nice large T1 and small T2 rigs. I didn't want to haul the stuff back to friendly space so I docked in station and offered to sell him his loot back for 50m isk which he accepted.

A few jumps later I came across a couple of Goonswarm Ishkurs. This is where the Rupture really shines. In a Jaguar I would be very hesitant about engaging two assault frigates. However in the Rupture I went for it knowing that unless they had an unusual fit, I would be victorious. Sure enough I grabbed one, applied scram/web/neut and put the ecm drones on the other. The first went pretty quick and I switched to the other which also went down. I barely broke shields :).

The next night I was back in the area. After seeing almost nothing I spotted a Wolf and a Crow sitting on a gate. I engaged the wolf first, unfortunately I choose poorly for ammo types with Phased Plasma. It seemed to take forever to bust through his 400mm RT plate. Meanwhile a Stealth bomber uncloaks and starts pounding me with Torpedoes. Eventually I break through the Wolf's tank and then dispatch the Crow. As this is happening an Eris appears and bubbles us all in. With my Armour dropping below a third I start powering for an exit. I put my DPS on the Eris hoping to drive it away from me out of point range and succeed. I manage to warp to the sun just before hitting structure. As I land at the sun I find myself at 0 with the Eris again. LOL we both tried to escape to the same celestial. I start pounding on the Eris as I observe a Falcon uncloaking. I get jammed, but not before Eris explodes. Again I beat an hasty retreat and live to fight another day.

At this point I am feeling pretty cocky. For three nights in a row I have had some GF and made some good isk. In EVE cockiness is what gets you killed. The next night I set out again feeling quite invincible. Then in K-B2D3 with 4 in local I warp directly from gate to gate, only to land in a bubble camp. The Wolf and Rupture on the bubble would have made for a nice fight. With some lucky Jams from the ECM drones I might have been able to shut down the Rupture while killing the Wolf. Unfortunately a Blackbird 50km off made sure that this ship would never make it home.

All in all it was some great fights. It was a shame to finally loose the ship but it certainly delivered. I made about 100 mill in loot in exchange for a 10 million isk ship. It is nice to know that Solo PvP is alive and well in New Eden.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Amar gets the Nerf-bat on June 4 2011

It is official (not really) the Ammar Nerf happens on June 4th next year. Here is the proof. My new skill plan to finally start training Ammar. I am pretty sure once I am done them the Nerf-bat will hit nice and hard :(

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Plex for Remap - How I think it should be done

Many, many people have complained about CCPs apparent decision to offer PLEX for neural re-map. Some high profile players may have even quit EVE over it. The problem was not just how it was communicated (through an interview not through the CSM or a DEV Blog) but also that the idea sucks. My main complaint was that EVE is an expensive game and asking people to spend more money on the game is greedy and going to actually cost them in the end.

If I was CCP this is how I would do it:

First I would make neural re-map an in-game item. It could either be stand-alone or, better yet, something that can be manufactured from new and existing in-game items. The new items would drop rarely in low-sec space only from rats. By adjusting the drop-rate CCP can make the price of a remap hover around 350 million isk price point or so. This would have the added advantage of increasing players doing missions/ratting in low-sec.

In fact with a little bit of programming they could make the neural re-map a really dark and cool feature IMHO. This would be the list of items:

1. Sansha Neural conduit (illegal in hi-sec)
2. Gurista Neural Stimulant (illegal in hi-sec)
3. Angel reincarnation loop (illegal in hi-sec)
4. Blood Raider neuron extract (illegal in hi-sec)
5. 10 corpses of pilot to be remapped
6. 100 live 'humans' (Exotic dancers, marines etc you get the idea)

Reaction must take place in a lowsec station with the pilot docked in that station. Reaction does not have to be done by the pilot.

All items including 'humans' are consumed

Pilot gets a neural remap option.

Anyone have any thoughts on this? Would this be a possible CSM proposal?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Ships I Fly - The Rupture

For various reasons I have waited quite a while to discuss the Rupture. I have quite a love/hate relationship with this wonderful Minmattar cruiser.

Things I love:

- Although slow for a Matari Cruiser, the Rupture is still faster than cruisers from other races
- Lots of PG / CPU
- Nice Drone Bay
- Two Utility Slots

Things I don't love:
- Too slow to evade a gate-camp
- Less tank then other races Tier-3 Cruisers
- Anything a Rupture can do.... A hurricane can do better.

In other words, a Rupture is basically a glass cannon, or, as described by an enemy, "Primary".

Lets look at some fits. Like a Hurricane, a Rupture can be either Armour or Shield Tanked. Both of the below fits are T2 and cost between 10-15m isk. Cheapfits with T1 gear are also quite viable.

Here is an Armour Tanked Rupture:

[Rupture, New Setup 3]
1600mm Reinforced Rolled Tungsten Plates I
Energized Adaptive Nano Membrane II
Damage Control II
Gyrostabilizer II
Tracking Enhancer II

Y-T8 Overcharged Hydrocarbon I Microwarpdrive
J5b Phased Prototype Warp Scrambler I
X5 Prototype I Engine Enervator

Dual 180mm AutoCannon II, Republic Fleet EMP M
Dual 180mm AutoCannon II, Republic Fleet EMP M
Dual 180mm AutoCannon II, Republic Fleet EMP M
Dual 180mm AutoCannon II, Republic Fleet EMP M
Small Energy Neutralizer II
Small Energy Neutralizer II

Medium Projectile Burst Aerator I
Medium Projectile Collision Accelerator I

Vespa EC-600 x1
Hornet EC-300 x4

DPS: 317
EHP: 24,931
Speed: 1400

Here is a shield tanked Rupture:

[Rupture, Shield Rupture]
Gyrostabilizer II
Gyrostabilizer II
Gyrostabilizer II
Damage Control II
Tracking Enhancer II

Y-T8 Overcharged Hydrocarbon I Microwarpdrive
Large Shield Extender II
J5b Phased Prototype Warp Scrambler I

425mm AutoCannon II, Republic Fleet EMP M
425mm AutoCannon II, Republic Fleet EMP M
425mm AutoCannon II, Republic Fleet EMP M
425mm AutoCannon II, Republic Fleet EMP M
Medium Energy Neutralizer II
Small Energy Neutralizer II

Medium Core Defence Field Extender I
Medium Core Defence Field Extender I
Medium Core Defence Field Extender I

DPS: 397
EHP: 21,010
Speed: 1591

Vespa EC-600 x1
Hornet EC-300 x4

For both ships you can swap out a Tracking Enhancer for a nanofibre/Gyro as needed. You can also swap out the ECM drones for damage drones for an additional 100 dps or so. Personally I like to fit ECM drones since I feel it gives me a chance to escape when tackled, plus it can significantly reduce incoming DPS when the enemy is jammed. I like to bring along at least 2 types of close range republic fleet ammo plus barrage. RF ammo is good for DPS, barrage is good for range.

So what can you do with a Rupture?

In a small fleet a Rupture is both a significant DPS boat and heavy tackler. In general you want to get up close and personal, land a point/scram on a target and unleash hell while calling for reps from logistics. Obviously this role makes the Rupture an early primary, especially considering it's low EHP to DPS ratio.

For solo work the Rupture is very competitive when taking on Cruisers from another race. It's high damage/light tank makes for short intense fights. Since you are so fast, you should be able to outrun anything except a stabber / vagabond (don't engage Vagas if you can avoid it please) to escape an enemy if the fight goes south. Frigates sized ships are another issue however. Scram + web (if armour tanked) + neuts should make it possible to slow them down to be hit by the guns. The armour tank fit with smaller, faster tracking guns and a web obviously has an advantage here. If you are worried about frigates then fitting 6 warrior II drones instead of ECM may make sense.

I try to engage anything cruiser or smaller at near-close range if I can. 2000-6000m is ideal. There are some exceptions however. With a weak signal strength LADAR system and turreted weapon systems, a Rupture is vulnerable to both tracking disruptors and ECM. As a result an arbitrator or a blackbird (plus T2 variants) spells trouble. I have never successfully taken a Rupture against a Battle-cruiser or a Battleship but it should be possible under the right circumstances as many others have demonstrated.

Once you get familiar with a Rupture... try a Hurricane. It is sort of a Rupture on steroids, really really good steroids.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

My wishes for the next Alliance Tourney Prizes

Writing about the Freki last post made me think about the prizes needed for the next alliance tournament. To be frank, the prizes for the last two tournaments have been a little pointless. With the possible exception of the Freki that is usefull for alliance tournament combat and that is about it, they are hanger decorations. What I would like to see is prizes that are actually going to be used, and blown up. People do fly and loose expensive ships all the time. A Freki costs approximately the same (give or take) as a super-carrier or a pimped out mission ship. The problem is that none of the alliance tournament prizes can do anything of note. For someone to actually fly the ship it must:

1. Be the best ship for that purpose.
2. Have a good chance of making it back to the hanger.
3. Make a real difference in a fight PvP/PvE

So here is what I suggest. Both of these ships are awesome, but I also think both ships would actually leave station. The Naga would be seen running LV 4 missions in Empire. It would be tough to suicide gank, but not impossible. The Fly-Swatter would be a major asset to any alliances fleet operations. Worth risking in the field to get a drop on a Super-carrier or a Titan Fleet.

If Caldari hosts it ( I will do Amarr at a later time )

1st place - 20x The Naga BPC - Field Command Ship (Ultimate Mission Ship)

Based on the Hull of the Drake the Naga represents the ultimate in missile platform technology. Pirates run in fear at the thought of one of these unloading a volley of hell on a target. Containing a unique shield defense core extracted from an archealogy site deep in wormhole space, its shield systems are the best to be found in New Eden.

BattleCruiser Skill Bonus:

* 20% bonus to assault missile, heavy assault missile and heavy missile damage per level
* 20% bonus to shield recharge rate per level

Special Ability:

* 25% bonus to assault missile, heavy assault missile and heavy missile velocity flight time and precision
* 25% bonus to shield resists

Role Bonus: 99% reduction in Warfare Link Module CPU Need

Powergrid 1000MW
CPU 1000TF
High Slots: 8
Medium Slots 6
Low Slots 5
Turrets 1
launchers 8
RigSlots 2

Shield HP 5400
ArmourHP 3400
Max Velocity 160 m/s
Shield Recharge time: 1250 sec

Drone Capacity: 25m3

2nd Place - 20 x Fly-Swatter BPC - Interdictor (ultimate bubbler)

A secret, heavily funded, experimental project commissioned by Caldari leadership created the Fly-Swatter. Unfortunately the design of this vessel was left incomplete after an a raid by Sansha forces. Despite this from the wreckage of the shipyard, enough was gleamed to create 20 copies of an experimental prototype of this vessel. Incorporating components developed from sleeper sites, and technology developed by the Crielere Project, no other ship in the universe can come in without detection, plant an interdiction bubble, and warp out at the same time.

Destroyer Skill Bonus: 5% bonus to speed per level
Interdictor Skill Bonus: 20% bonus to Interdiction Sphere Launcher rate of fire per level

Role Bonus
- Interdiction Sphere Launchers and covert ops cloaks require 99% less CPU when fitted on this ship

Note 1: can fit covert ops cloaks and Interdiction Sphere Launchers
Note 2: Immunity to non-targeted interdiction

High Slots: 3
Medium Slots: 3
Low Slots: 2
Shield HP 351
Armour HP 300
Max velocity 315m/s

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Blake Lotto and How to win a Freki

If there is one ship in Eve that I would desire above all others it would have to be the Freki. 50 were given out to the 2nd place winners of the VII alliance tournament and no more will be produced. In short these ships are pure winsauce. Basically they created sort of a super-Jaguar and combined it with a super-Hyena. The end result is pretty much perfection. Oddly enough, the first place prize, the Mimir, kindof sucks eggs.

Anyways, the point of this post is to mention a lottery that a corp-mate of mine is running with a Freki as the main prize. Here is the main thread for details. I am not sure if there ever will be another chance to win one of these 25 billion ships again.

So while thinking about it, watch this match from AT VIII where circle of two fielded three of these awesome ships to win a second round match.

Edit... Lotto is sold out now. I didn't win :(

3 types of fleets in null-sec

I have been planning for a while to discuss the latest FOTM fleets that dominate Null-sec right now, but it appears that Kirith Kodachi of the Inner Sactum of the Ninveah has written a better article (Fall of the Sniper BS) than I would. Have a look. It is a great read.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

WTF is this..... EVE Commissioned Officer Edition

Check it out on Massively

To quote the WTF part...

On October 19th in North America, the studio is releasing a new boxed edition of the game, titled EVE Online: Commissioned Officer Edition. The "commissioned officer" refers to an exclusive in-game item that comes with the package, a Cerebral Accelerator implant that will give a significant boost to new pilot skill development for the first 30 days.

EDIT: Here is the official press release from CCP.

Where are the gate-camps?

A year and a half ago I first ventured into 0.0. It was exciting and I felt like I was moving into a very dangerous part of the universe. One of the things that really impressed me was the way that entrances into 0.0 tended to be more or less perma-camped. Once in 0.0 it was pretty empty, but the boarders between 0.0 and empire space were bubbled up death zones not to be risked without intel.

This does not seem to be true any more. Over the last month or two I have been going on long solo roams, passing between 0.0 and empire in Delve, Querious, Providence, Catch, Great Wildlands and the like, and I have yet to come across a serious gate camp.

Is it just me or has something changed?

EDIT: That was tempting fate. 12 hours after posting this while I was headed to do some exploration stuff ... Suffice it to say that a plated Wolf is too slow for a pirate gate camp :(

Listener: Toterra
Session started: 2010.10.13 01:39:04
[ 2010.10.13 01:39:18 ] (notify) Warping to Stargate (Onanam)
[ 2010.10.13 01:39:21 ] (notify) Rostro: You have foolishly engaged in criminal activity within sight of sentry guns and must suffer the consequences.
[ 2010.10.13 01:39:24 ] (combat) Dual 150mm Railgun II belonging to Rostro misses you completely.
[ 2010.10.13 01:39:24 ] (notify) Ravow: You have foolishly engaged in criminal activity within sight of sentry guns and must suffer the consequences.
[ 2010.10.13 01:39:25 ] (notify) Rostro [QPIC]<FWA>(Lachesis) has started trying to warp scramble you!
[ 2010.10.13 01:39:25 ] (combat) Dual 150mm Railgun II belonging to Rostro misses you completely.
[ 2010.10.13 01:39:25 ] (combat) 425mm AutoCannon II belonging to Ravow misses you completely.
[ 2010.10.13 01:39:25 ] (combat) 425mm AutoCannon II belonging to Ravow hits you, doing 52.6 damage.
[ 2010.10.13 01:39:25 ] (combat) 425mm AutoCannon II belonging to Ravow barely scratches you, causing 31.5 damage.
[ 2010.10.13 01:39:25 ] (combat) 425mm AutoCannon II belonging to Ravow lightly hits you, doing 38.6 damage.
[ 2010.10.13 01:39:25 ] (combat) 425mm AutoCannon II belonging to Ravow hits you, doing 49.0 damage.
[ 2010.10.13 01:39:26 ] (combat) Havoc Fury Heavy Missile belonging to Rostro hits you, doing 65.3 damage.
[ 2010.10.13 01:39:27 ] (combat) Dual 150mm Railgun II belonging to Rostro hits you, doing 40.9 damage.
[ 2010.10.13 01:39:27 ] (notify) Nex loci: You have foolishly engaged in criminal activity within sight of sentry guns and must suffer the consequences.
[ 2010.10.13 01:39:28 ] (notify) Ravow [QPIC]<FWA>(Broadsword) has started trying to warp scramble you!
[ 2010.10.13 01:39:28 ] (combat) 425mm AutoCannon II belonging to Nex loci hits you, doing 303.6 damage.
[ 2010.10.13 01:39:28 ] (combat) 425mm AutoCannon II belonging to Ravow lightly hits you, doing 27.5 damage.
[ 2010.10.13 01:39:28 ] (combat) 425mm AutoCannon II belonging to Ravow heavily hits you, inflicting 42.2 damage.
[ 2010.10.13 01:39:28 ] (combat) 425mm AutoCannon II belonging to Ravow misses you completely.
[ 2010.10.13 01:39:28 ] (combat) 425mm AutoCannon II belonging to Ravow heavily hits you, inflicting 45.8 damage.
[ 2010.10.13 01:39:28 ] (combat) 425mm AutoCannon II belonging to Ravow misses you completely.
[ 2010.10.13 01:39:28 ] (notify) Darmoreth: You have foolishly engaged in criminal activity within sight of sentry guns and must suffer the consequences.
[ 2010.10.13 01:39:29 ] (combat) Darmoreth [QPIC]<FWA>(Hurricane) lightly hits you, doing 370.9 damage.
[ 2010.10.13 01:39:29 ] (notify) 5GT P3PP3R: You have foolishly engaged in criminal activity within sight of sentry guns and must suffer the consequences.
[ 2010.10.13 01:39:30 ] (combat) Heavy Pulse Laser II belonging to 5GT P3PP3R hits you, doing 119.6 damage.
[ 2010.10.13 01:39:30 ] (combat) Dual 150mm Railgun II belonging to Rostro places an excellent hit on you, inflicting 84.8 damage.
[ 2010.10.13 01:39:31 ] (combat) 425mm AutoCannon II belonging to Ravow heavily hits you, inflicting 48.7 damage.
[ 2010.10.13 01:39:31 ] (combat) 425mm AutoCannon II belonging to Ravow misses you completely.
[ 2010.10.13 01:39:31 ] (combat) 425mm AutoCannon II belonging to Nex loci lightly hits you, doing 330.3 damage.
[ 2010.10.13 01:39:31 ] (combat) 425mm AutoCannon II belonging to Ravow barely scratches you, causing 23.1 damage.
[ 2010.10.13 01:39:31 ] (combat) 425mm AutoCannon II belonging to Ravow barely scratches you, causing 20.9 damage.
[ 2010.10.13 01:39:31 ] (combat) 425mm AutoCannon II belonging to Ravow misses you completely.
[ 2010.10.13 01:39:32 ] (notify) Ghostryker: You have foolishly engaged in criminal activity within sight of sentry guns and must suffer the consequences.
[ 2010.10.13 01:39:32 ] (combat) Scourge Heavy Missile belonging to Nex loci hits you, doing 50.4 damage.
[ 2010.10.13 01:39:32 ] (combat) Havoc Fury Heavy Missile belonging to Rostro hits you, doing 94.4 damage.
[ 2010.10.13 01:39:32 ] (combat) Darmoreth [QPIC]<FWA>(Hurricane) hits you, doing 414.9 damage.
[ 2010.10.13 01:39:33 ] (notify) Rostro: You have foolishly engaged in criminal activity within sight of sentry guns and must suffer the consequences.
[ 2010.10.13 01:39:33 ] (combat) Heavy Pulse Laser II belonging to 5GT P3PP3R hits you, doing 406.9 damage.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Whoooaaa CCP.... don't tread on me

Interesting bombshell(to say the least) hinden in an interview in Eurogamer ... EVE: CCP Gives A Damn. Basically EVE players will soon be able to trade PLEXes for a Neural re-map. By itself this is not all that significant, but it does go against what they have been saying (linky). It is only a short road from there to more microtransactions (plex for sp seems to be the obvious direction that they will go in).

Personally I think this is really crap and here is why. Eve is already a very expensive game. $15*12 = $180 a year. That makes playing Eve cost as much as purchasing 3-4 other video games. Now they want even more money from players if they want to get ahead. It would be one thing if EVE was a PVE game like WOW or LOTRO, but in EVE we are not playing the computer so much as other people. Loosing a ship just because they have more money than you is not fun and is total crap. For example lots of people are playing starcraft II. If Blizzard had a special thing where you could spend another $100 and get +10% hp to all your soldiers, or some other special advantage, it would completely break the game. No thanks.

I understand that EVE currently has PLEXes which do give players with RL cash an advantage already. However the stated goal of the PLEXes was to stymie the illegitimate RMT traders, not to act as a cash cow for CCP. In other words the purpose was reduce the effect of RL money in the game, not increase it. This proposed feature would do the exact opposite.

So go out there and support your local CSM rep who are totally (as I understand) pissed about this and make posts on the CCP forums saying your opinions.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

No job for me at CCP

Like many EVE players my interest was peaked by an notice on the start-up screen talking about open positions at CCP. Being a programmer I have always wanted to work for a game company, and what better company than the one that produced my favourite game. In fact, ever since I have started playing EVE, I have wanted to get an inside look into the EVE database schema. There is no porn for me like database porn.

For most of the last 10 years I have been a professional database developer. My experience is split more or less evenly between SQL Server (wonderful database used by EVE) and Oracle (evil crap database used by most businesses). When I saw that one of the open positions was for a database developer, and that they use SQL Server, I took the plunge and applied.

What happened after that gave me very little faith in CCP.

Soon afterwords I received an e-mail from CCP saying that they had my application and wanted me to perform a technical test before proceeding in the interview. This is pretty common in the industry. When I interview people I always make them write a bit of code to show that they do more than talk good.

On Saturday at an agreed upon time the test arrived and as I started reading through it my heart sank. This test was crap for the position I applied for.

This is the CCP programming test. The entire test consists of three questions. Each question requires you to write code to solve a short problem. We expect the test to take two to four hours on average, but you may take additional time if necessary. Please read each question carefully and answer each to the best of your ability. Your solutions will be evaluated for completeness and correctness. While these questions are of a limited scope, please answer them as if they were production code. Your answers will ultimately answer the question, “Do we want this person contributing to our code base?”

You may provide answers in any language.

The use of a compiler is highly recommended to verify the correctness of your answers, but a compiler is not required. All code and algorithms must be your own; however you may use resources as a quick reference for formulas or syntax.

Good luck!

The job I applied to was for a database development position. This was a test for a 3-D programmer, or for a UI programmer, or for some other programmer that you would never want withing 100 lines of code of the database. The questions were pretty simple but totally irrelevant. The first was a geometry question. I thought about writing the answer in TRANSACT-SQL (sql servers main programing language) but it was written in such a way that I couldn't really do that. I quickly put together a bit of code in C# that performed the required task.

The next question however was downright absurd. It wanted me to move nodes around a linked list. I haven't done this sort of stuff in 15 years. A quick search on the internet and the complete solution was downloaded and ready. I suspect that this is what 99% of applicants do.

The third question involved writing a small text game. Of all the questions this was the most interesting since the game had to be written in such a way that the computer cheated, but tried to hide that fact. Again I through together some C# code that covered the basics. My solution was not very imaginative but it worked (certified as working on my computer).

In the end I decided that sending in the answer to the second question was cheating so I simply dropped it and sent my response back explaining that the test was totally irrelevant to the job I applied for. Not surprisingly I soon heard back that I was rejected :(.

I guess that my annoyance is more that this whole process reeked of massive fail. This was the case of simply filtering out unsuitable candidates rather than trying to get the best programmers they could. This is the sort of thing I would expect from the large IT departments of corporations trying to be just good enough not to get the CIO fired, not of cool boutique development studios on the cutting edge. EVE is a hard challenge. It needs really smart people who can do wonders with software. This position needs to be filled by someone who can rip data out of the multi-TB database with the minimal possible load. This interview process will give them run-of-the mill crap who when asked to do a filter will code a routine that loads an entire table into memory as a singly linked list using code copied off the internet, and then runs through it row at a time. And then they will wonder why they are having memory problems.

For those who are not familiar with databases, they are very different to program than conventional programs. Most coding in C++ or Python is explicit. You tell the computer to do one thing, and then another, and then another. With databases you program it using set theory. You tell the database what you want, and it does it for you. Unfortunately to do this requires a completely different way of thinking, especially for large databases where you need fast performance.

And yes, I am bitter, my current job uses Oracle and I HATE ORACLE! PLEASE CCP HIRE ME SO I DON'T HAVE TO USE ORACLE ANY MORE.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Shameless plug - Claw fit on Battleclinic

I put up the Claw fit that I described earlier onto There were some very similar fits up there, but nothing quite the same. If you like it please give it a +1 rating.

Standard Solo PvP Claw

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Rusty Roam

I know it has been quite a while since I last posted. TBH with a new baby playtime has been very limited which has meant that I just haven't had the inspiration to write anything. Skill training online is far from exciting.

However, yesterday I had a bit of time for a nice roam. I grabbed a Claw and headed out into the wild blue yonder. Unfortunately targets were light to say the least. After racing through Curse I decided to check out the land of major alliances and paid a visit to first Querious and then Delve. Expecting to find some big blobs (this is the land of thousand vs thousand battles is it not) I ended up finding almost nothing. Eventually in NPC controlled Delve a Harpy and an Armageddon started acting interesting. Figuring that with a bit of luck I could isolate the Harpy I managed to engage it at a distant planet.

A Harpy is an interesting Assault ship. With as much as a 50% damage bonus to four hybrid turrets, it can deal one hell of a punch. I believe that it is the highest dps AF in the game. On the downside it doesn't tank as well as a Jaguar or an Ishkur. Still, to my claw, it represented quite a threat.

I choose to try and get nice and close and get under his guns. Probably a foolish idea (a webber would have pretty much fracked this plan up too much). As I started my orbit fighting for transversal it was a little scary seeing my shields blasted off within seconds. I consoled myself that I had an armour tank so the shields didn't matter as much. In anticipation I cranked on the armour repper before the shields even dropped. Armour reppers act at the end of the cycle so I was confident by then I would need the repair. Fortunately his fit was unconventional. Instead of a webber he was dual prop. As a result I slid under his guns nicely, and once there his DPS dropped to a trickle. Meanwhile my tracking bonused 150mm AC II were pummeling him.

At this point I have to admit to an embarrassing mistake. For some reason seeing a Harpy I thought harpy = blasters = gallente = armour tank = woops. As a result I was shooting RF fusion ammo, far from ideal against a shield tanked ship. However once his shields finally did crack his armour and structure were obliterated in moments.

Picking up the loot I docked in a nearby station. I placed everything up for sale cheap (This ship was not coming home) and headed out again to see what more trouble I could get in.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Solo PvP Dead??? - Epic Solo Roam by Corpmate

So after my last post about solo PvP I thought I would try and prove that it is all alive and good. Unfortunately my 3-week old baby is not cooperating in me playing so I decided to enlist the help of my corp. I created a small contest awarding 100m isk to the best Solo PvP kill between August 15th and September 15th. Well the contest is not over but it is all but decided. One of Agony's best Solo PvPers is a guy named Altaieere. Although barely even a year old he is the terror of the space lanes. What makes Altaieere so good is his knowledge is his situational awareness. I have often flown with him in fleets and he always knows where our enemies are hanging out, and seems to be able to predict their actions ahead of time. Usually flying a amour tanked / repping Rifter he has taken down everything up to and including battlecruisers. A few days ago he decided to go on a little roam in something a bit more fierce than a Rifter.... a Claw.

Al Claw is a nasty little ship. Faster and tougher than a Rifter it also packs a bit more of a punch. The only downside (and it is a biggy) is only having two midslots. Here is a typical Claw fit for solo work...

So anyways, this Altaieere kid started a nice little solo roam around Providence leaving death in his wake. According to the killboards he started with killing a Crusader in H-GKI6. Nice but nothing special. Then he moved on to F-YH5B where he found an Ishtar (Gallente Armour HAC) at a Haven which he quickly dispatched followed almost immediatly by engaging a Taranis which he also killed! He had to deal with a Sabre as well but managed to get away from that one.

Here are his comments on that kill:

killed the ishtar at a haven saw this taranis and sabre on scan, i warped they landed, they chased... I needed time to rep and had to split them up by warping to celestials at dif ranges.
once repped i warped to a 100 off one, sabre landed 100 off taranis landed near meh, fight engaged kited him a bit i bled into structure, he popped i warped!

Very Nice but he is just getting warmed up...

Moving on into 6-OQJV he found a Nice Tengu and a Raven. Now personally I would not even think of engaging both a T3 cruiser and a BS with a single interceptor, but I am not as crazy as my corp-mate. Here are his words:
found them at a haven... scrammed tengu (who i checked had aggro) raven warped off, i started killing tengu, raven warped back.. Tengu popped , overheated scram got raven we shared agro and i got him


Half an hour later he is in GA9P-0 taking down two Crusaders (first, second) and another in H9-J8N. Here are the comments about the GA9P fight:
this fight was toughest, 2 crusaders, vengance and arazu on top of me... No webs meant i can get away at the end of the fight... i was in 50% structure and then drake tengu landed so i decided to bug

So to recap... a one year old character in an interceptor manages to kill 4 interceptors, a HAC, a T3 Strategic Cruiser and a Battleship over a 3 hour long period. Amazing!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

EVE's Manual

Did you know that there was a Manual for EVE. As in the kind of manual you would find in most other games giving a complete and comprehensive description of everything you need to know to use the game. Well by god there turns out to be a 400 page manual describing everything from the skill queue to mining to trading to turrets to the fitting screen. Bloody amazing.

Click here to go to download site - ISK 2.0

Of course it is not actually published by CCP, rather by a bunch of Hungarians with more time on their hands then they know what to do with. Great job guys! Amazing work that should be standard reading for all new players (and old ones).

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

RPS: CCP And The Wrath Of The Playerbase

Over at Rock Paper Shotgun (RPS) there is a great article CCP And The Wrath Of The Playerbase. RPS interviews CCP Zulu, the Senior Producer for EVE Online. It is a fascinating read. It clearly indicates that CCP Zulu is one of those clever marketing types with a silver tongue. I particularly like the following exchange...

RPS: Why can’t you commit any resources to the “core issues” raised for eighteen months?

Gylfason: This misunderstanding of 18 months comes up a lot and I’d like to correct it. We have for the past few years been very focused on adding new features to EVE Online. We added Factional Warfare, Wormhole exploration, Loyalty Points stores, Planetary Interaction and tech 3 ships to name a few. During this era of expanding the gameplay we shifted our focus somewhat away from iterating and refactoring on older game systems and features. What we’ve been doing for the past few months is move that focus back. Over the next months we will be increasing our focus on iteration up to the point where, 18 months or so from now, we are only doing work on existing gameplay.–both in terms of polish and general refactoring for scalability purposes. The EVE Development team counts around 140 people (closer to 200 when you count in developers contributing to deliver Incarna and our core technology group) now and the choice between iteration and new feature development isn’t a binary one, it’s more of a gradient scale and we’ve already started moving the needle on that towards iteration.

In other words this misunderstanding about 18 months is silly, blah blah new features blah blah farmville in space blah blah, and in 18 to 36 months we will be working on the core issues.

Great, I feel better already. :)

Now if you actually want to feel better go and read the exceptional devblog fixing lag: module lag - why not all bugfixes are a good idea. I will summarize it for you. The CSM described what has happening while under lag conditions. The developers managed to reproduce it. The developers quantified that it was a big issue. The developers identified the lines of code that were the problem. Although the bug is hard to solve the developers are working like mad to fix it, and not just give it a patch, but fixing the underlying cause of the bug.

There, now I do feel much better now.

Note to CCP: we are not idiots, don't give us marketingspeak from those MBA type ... give us details from the geek programmers instead.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Blog Banter #20 - EVE = Griefing

Welcome to the twentieth 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 to Check out other EVE Blog Banter articles at the bottom of this post!

With the recent completion of the 3rd installment of the Hulkageddon last month, @CyberinEVE, author of Hands Off, My Loots!, asks: "Griefing is a very big part of EVE. Ninja Salvaging, Suicide Ganking, Trolling, and Scamming are all a very large part of the game. What do you think about all these things? You can talk about one, or all...but just let us know your overall opinion on Griefing, and any recommendations you may have to change it if you think it's needed."

Not really understanding what a Griefer is or what Griefing means I, like any other citizen of the web, took a look at wikipedia for the authorative description. In the article there are a list of things that are considered 'Griefing;.

* Intentional friendly fire
* Using third-party hack programs
* Falsely accusing others of griefing behavior
* Written and/or verbal insults
* Exploitation of unintended game mechanics
* Stealing other players' items and/or experience (when done for the purpose of harassment, not self-gain)
* Spamming
* Spawn camping
* Twinking
* Acting out-of-character in a role-play setting
* Saying or doing something just to irritate, upset, or otherwise harass someone
* Creating multiple subscription accounts
* Purposely not assisting the team (e.g. "feeding" (deliberately helping the other team by getting "killed"), wasting key game elements)
* Collusion with the opposition
* Repeatedly trying to steal another player's kills so that their time is wasted.
* Blocking another player's way so they cannot move or get out of a particular area.
* Luring many monsters or one big one to chase the griefer and then rushing to where he wants to unleash them. The line of monsters in pursuit looks like a train, and hence this is sometimes called "Training."

By that description, with the exception of using a Hack, pretty much everything that is considered griefing is a big part of EVE. In a sense EVE as a game has embraced griefing as a part of the game. One example of this has to be the effect that the SomethingAweful forums have had on EVE. These players join MMOs and then try and mess with them through griefing. In most games these players are hated by other players and especially by the developers. However, try as they might, they have failed to break EVE. Instead their CEO gets invited to the headquarters to be a commentator for the alliance tournament. Their spymaster gets invited to speek for CCP at major development conferences. EVE assimilates griefers and makes them EVE players.

Now imagine EVE where griefing wasn't allowed......

Monday, August 23, 2010

So you want to Solo PvP? (Part 1)

If you are looking for a little solo PvP action but don't know where to start, or are not having much luck, here is some advice for you...

When you get started you want to use a T1 frigate. In general the Rifter is considered the best option but a Punisher, Incursis, Tristan, Merlin or even a Griffin would also do if you are determined. Having said that you really want to be flying a Rifter since it has all the attributes that make it excellent as an effective solo ship.

This is generally how you want to fit your Rifter..

[Rifter, Intro Solo PvP Rifter]
400mm Reinforced Nanofiber Plates I
Damage Control I
Micro Auxiliary Power Core I

Cold-Gas I Arcjet Thrusters
J5b Phased Prototype Warp Scrambler I
'Langour' Drive Disruptor I

150mm Light Gallium I Machine Gun, Republic Fleet Phased Plasma S
150mm Light Gallium I Machine Gun, Republic Fleet Phased Plasma S
150mm Light Gallium I Machine Gun, Republic Fleet Phased Plasma S
'Malkuth' Rocket Launcher I, Caldari Navy Foxfire Rocket

Small Projectile Burst Aerator I
Small Projectile Collision Accelerator I
[empty rig slot]

You can easily come up with similar fits with the other race's frigate but the important points are the warp scrambler, the aferburner, the webifier and as big an armour buffer tank as you can fit. If insufficient mid-slots then drop the web.

Put together a half dozen of these and then go running around in NPC 0.0 or the Faction Warfare areas of Lowsec and you will certainly get in a fight. What you are looking for are pretty much any other individual ship, cruiser or smaller that you can get to within Scram-Web range. Once you have them held down, orbit at close range, unleash your weapons and hope for the best.

Do this a few times and you will learn about what can go wrong, and sometimes, what can go right. Just remember that every time you die, try and understand what went wrong and learn from the experience. Soon you will learn to be wary of gates (through which the enemies backup will as often as not arrive), be wary of anti-small ship cruisers (like the Arbitrator or an Assault Missile equipped Caracal) and other useful things.

Once you have done this a few times then it is time to start laying traps. In 0.0 this is called a bubble. Train the required skills to launch a small bubble. Find a nice system with some traffic, but not too much and place the bubble. The easiest way to position it is warp to the gate you want to catch from, then warp back to the gate where you want to place your bubble at 70km. Then drop your bubble right there. Once the bubble is up (takes two minutes) sit at the catch position (the point on the bubble where the enemy will land) and wait for something tasty to arrive.

Good Luck :)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Agony Builds a New Outpost

For various reasons Agony has decided to build a new outpost in our SI-I89 system. There were lots of reasons for it but number one had to be the new facilities.

Now a piece of Agony will be forever preserved in New Eden :)

Friday, August 13, 2010

Architecture of the EVE Cluster

For anyone interested in the technical aspects of EVE, I recommend they read the following Gamasutra article -Infinite Space: An Argument for Single-Sharded Architecture in MMOs. It gives what I believe is the most detailed yet description of how EVE works behind the scene.

Looking through the article I find the following very interesting.

One example of this would be when we use "read uncommitted" when loading a solar system configuration, knowing there won't be any inserts or updates to the data we are reading so we can allow ourselves to read with no locking. Another trick would be that we most often only need to allow the user to filter data within a day. For example, we do not need to allow a user to select all records from the player journal between 14:00 and 15:35; it is sufficient to allow filtering by only a date. In that case we simply need to keep track of the clustered key at 00:00 every day and use that in our queries. This means we don't need to index on date/time columns in every nook and cranny, making things faster and slimmer.
The reason that this is interesting is that it implies that they are doing some rather odd things to improve performance. The stuff about "read uncommitted" is a way of getting around some of the limitations of older (pre-2005) versions of SQL Server. Often database performance problems are related to locking and not due to actual speed issues. Using "read uncommitted" is basically saying we are going to ignore locks for this transaction and get data faster, even if there is going to be faulty data. Things that keep DBAs up at night like 'Ghost records' are often the result.

It is particularly interesting since SQL server since 2005 has supported a different isolation model called Read committed snapshot. This model uses row versions in a similar way to how Oracle handles locking. That they are not using this model implies that they are either too scared to try it, or that they have tried it and consider the performance hit it entails (there is some) unacceptable.

The other thing they mention is the Clustered Key on the date. This is interesting because it really stresses just how transaction oriented the database must be. The solution they have is the sort of solution you need if you want extremely high transaction loads. By using a clustered index (what I assume that they mean) you can save a lot on the update speeds if done correctly. Since SQL server uses a simpler method for storing and organizing data records than Oracle (I won't bore you with the details) this implies that SQL Server is in fact the ideal solution for EVE despite what many on the forums have said.

Anyways I am a database geek so this sort of information is like crack for me.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Solo PvP Dead???

Rixx Javix in his Evoganda blog asks ... Is Solo PvP Really Dead?

Personally I don't think so. The reality is that in EVE getting into a fight is always harder then the actual fighting. At least if you want to get into a fight where you can win. Anyone can take a frigate, head towards the nearest null-sec boarder and suicide against a gate-camp. However doing so is not what PvP is about. PvP in EVE (for solo or small gangs) is more like hunting. It starts when you undock as you choose your ship and fittings. Then the roam starts where you have to:
  • Avoid targets that can kill you.
  • Successfully track down targets that you can kill.
  • Engage targets that you can kill in situations where they can't escape.
  • Kill the targets before any of their friends arrive.
To do this requires a lot of skill and more then a little bit of luck. When I fly I run from far more then I pursue. Sometimes I miss opportunities. More than once I have fled from a lone Incursis on a gate, jumping through to check what was on the other side only to find an empty system. Other times I have taken the chance and been blown to oblivion by a trap. The most satisfying is seeing the trap, yet engaging, killing the target and then escaping just before their backup lands.

Because it is such a chance based endeavor sometimes you will not find anything. I have done whole roams solo through Providence and Catch with not a target to be found. Other times I have to skip opportunities as I head back to base needing more ammo and repairs.

Personally I think this is part of the whole fun of PvP in EVE. You really never know what exactly is going to happen when you undock. The trailer from last summer with a 'Lone Wolf' is a really accurate (although somewhat stylized) depiction of what it is like. You could come home empty, or you could start a galactic war, literally anything could happen. If things were always predictable, as in you undock and there are always a couple of guys waiting for agreed upon 1v1s with predictable ship fittings, it would be fun at first, but get boring fast.

Anyways, I am not really sure what the whole point of my article is, however since my week and a half old daughter is on a growth spurt and wakes me up every hour.... it is amazing I am able to put together complete sentences.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Gunnery Skills to V

With the very recent birth of my child I am taking a minor break from Eve. I just don't have the ability for the next couple of months to dedicate 100% of my concentration to what is happening on screen. Any attempts at PvP would just end up with me changing my daughters diaper as my ship hangs motionless while being pummeled.

Since I am not playing so much I can concentrate on some of those long skills that I always wanted to train. In particular I am going to spend the next couple of months working on my gunnery skills. Things like...
  • Motion Prediction (5% bonus to tracking speed)
  • Rapid Firing (4% bonus to rate of fire)
  • Sharpshooter (5% bonus to optimal)
  • Surgical Strike (3% bonus to damage)
  • Trajectory Analysis (5% bonus to falloff).
I trained all of these skills early on to Level 4 but no further. I am taking this opportunity to bump them up to level 5 across the board. Nice thing about these skills is that they benefit all classes of ships. It improves Frigate and Battleship alike. It also will be helpful once I start to cross train to Lasers/Hybrids. These skills will help there as well.

How much difference does they make? He is my usual Jaguar fit with my current skills...

And here it is with all of the support Gunnery Skills to LV 5...

All of those attributes, better tracking, better range, better falloff and better damage all add up to a much more effective ship. Especially in a 1v1 the slight advantages often are the difference between victory and defeat. Skills aren't everything in this game... but sometimes a whole bunch of little bits add up to a lot.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Alliance Tournament 8 Match 2 Commentary - Agony Empire vs Hydra Reloaded

Here is the second alternative audio commentaries. This is a very interesting match where the meta-game rears it's ugly head. All is not as it seems in the Alliance tournament that is for sure. Anyways as before, hit play on the podcast at the same time as you hit play on the video.

Download this episode (right click and save)

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Projectile Ammo - Choices other than EMP

If you look on the Jita market for projectile Ammo, one thing really jumps out as odd.... EMP is by far the most popular ammo type. Most days twice as much Republic Fleet (RF) EMP ammo is bought and sold than RF Phased Plasma and RF Fusion combined. This does not really make logical sense. It did make sense before the Dominion Expansion last fall. Back then RF EMP did more damage any of the other ammo types. However with Dominion that changed. Here is the new base damage for short range projectile ammo:

* Short Range (0.5 range modifier - 12 damage)
o EMP - 9 em / 2 explosive / 1 kinetic
o Phased Plasma - 10 thermal / 2 kinetic
o Fusion - 10 explosive / 2 kinetic

Ever since last fall all three types of short range ammo now have the same range and deal the same amount of damage. The only difference is the damage type. In general I always carry all three types of ammo and try to tailor what I am shooting to what I am shooting at. If I am going up against an armour tanked ship (say a taranis) then I load up the fusion, if I am going up against a shield tanked ship (say a Drake) then I load up the EMP. Otherwise I use Phased Plasma since it does good damage to both shield and armour.

So don't just load up EMP because that is what you are used to... try out the other projectile short range ammo, especially against armour tanked ships you won't be sorry.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Hydra Reloaded and Providence Take 3

'I didn't really want that Alliance anyway'.

So now it seems that Hydra is bored with providence and going somewhere else. They simply gave UK back to the old members and are on their way to do other things. Disappointing in that we were hoping for a few more good fights, but good in that it save everyone from a couple of weeks of grinding sovereignty. The most satisfying part of the whole thing however is CVA getting f*cked. Now that Agony has taken the last CVA held station system in Providence, CVA has officially lost all docking rights. You gotta love the following exchange between Aralis (of CVA) and Tarac Nor (of HYDRA) ...

[ 2010.08.02 10:54:31 ] Aralis > You barred us from your stations?
[ 2010.08.02 10:56:02 ] Tarac Nor > no i didnt
[ 2010.08.02 10:56:07 ] Tarac Nor > i gave the alliance back
[ 2010.08.02 10:56:33 ] Aralis > You gave the alliance back to UK with the stations?
[ 2010.08.02 10:56:48 ] Tarac Nor > sure, no one else wanted them
[ 2010.08.02 10:56:57 ] Aralis > Not the point.
[ 2010.08.02 10:57:15 ] Aralis > Thought this would hurt them a good bit more yet that is disappointing.
[ 2010.08.02 10:59:22 ] Aralis > Wow you really don't care about anythign do you.
[ 2010.08.02 10:59:34 ] Tarac Nor > i care for me
[ 2010.08.02 10:59:44 ] Tarac Nor > i make this game about me
[ 2010.08.02 10:59:52 ] Tarac Nor > everyone gotta have a hobbie
[ 2010.08.02 10:59:58 ] Aralis > So I gathered. Sad.

I am not sure how this is going to pan out for UK. Are they going to re-assemble or stay with CO2? Time will tell. As long as this keeps providence a bloody battleground all is good.