Tuesday, September 27, 2011

EVE Missions - Or how I learned to stop worrying and love a good agent (especially the ones that say Y'aar)

As has been stated on this blog I have turned into a mission runner. Some might find it hard to believe that I would sink so low (myself included) but it has proved to exceed my very low expectations. Some aspects of mission running are awesome. If you like blowing up spaceships, missions certainly provide a volume approach to the act. At times, (say the Angels Extravaganza Bonus Room in a BS that can't really tank it) it can be very intense. At other times you wonder why you are paying $15 a month for this crap. Lets first cover the high points of missions:

The Good - Pirate Epic Arc Fun :)
If you haven't already tried the pirate epic arcs, then you really should. For once CCP actually implemented the feature intelligently. I am not going to bore you with the details of the missions, for that check out here and here for excellent guides.

First and foremost, these missions are actually fun. The mission text is better then the usual level 4 mission. The multiple choices make them feel a little less scripted. I really have to give CCP credit for making it so that you can do these Angel/Guristas missions using your empire faction standings. the rewards for the missions, especially the Angel Sound one, are very good. Between the two major item rewards, bounties and nice mission rewards, each arc should net in the neighborhood of 300 million isk for a few hours work. Personally I felt the missions themselves could be a bit harder, both my Jaguar and my Dramiel were able to make short work of the targets.

However what makes the missions challenging, and fun, is that they involve running around some very busy regions of 0.0 NPC space. I had to dodge three gate-camps, one of which was well run, in order to compete both arcs. The Angel mission, being in Curse, runs through some near perma-camped systems. The Guristas missions in Venal were not so heavily camped, but times change and space that is one-day empty can have a 200 man gate-camp the next day.

In addition to the gate-camps the locals are definitely interested in scanning you down and hunting you to extinction. While doting the Guristas arc, Sister's Combat Probes were seen a couple of times. Fortunately I was able to complete the mission before being dropped upon.

The biggest downside to the pirate arc missions is that you can only run them once every 3 months. This, plus there are only two arcs, one for the Angels and one for the Guristas. If they had another arc for each of the pirate factions that would have provided a lot more play-time. Unfortunatly CCP tends to forget about features as soon as they go live, so these two are probably all the arcs that we will see :(

While I did the Angel Sound Arc in a dual-prop Jaguar, I found that the following Dramiel to be pretty much a perfect ship for doing these. It is a little expensive (especially with the faction bling) but at less than 1/3 the rewards for the mission, a good investment:

[Dramiel, Mission Dram]
Damage Control II
Gyrostabilizer II
Nanofiber Internal Structure II

Gistii B-Type 1MN Afterburner
Medium F-S9 Regolith Shield Induction
Gistii B-Type Small Shield Booster
J5b Phased Prototype Warp Scrambler I

200mm AutoCannon II, EMP S
200mm AutoCannon II, EMP S
Rocket Launcher II, Gremlin Rocket

Small Ancillary Current Router I
Small Projectile Collision Accelerator I
Small Low Friction Nozzle Joints I

Hobgoblin II x3
Hobgoblin II x1

The Bad - Empire Level 4 Mission Running
It seems that throughout my entire EVE career Level 4 mission running has been the most loved by empire/hated by everyone else activity. In short, Level 4 missions are what EVE would be if it was a single player game. You are given a seemingly impossible task (take out 10 enemy BS + 40 support ships solo) and, through skill or just general personal brilliance, you succeed. Of course it does not really take much skill beyond finding Eve Survival. Thanks to lousy circa 2004 NPC AI, and a near total lack of variation in missions, it is surprisingly easy to take out an entire enemy fleet solo. Rather the challenge seems to be maximizing the ISK/hour ratio.

The missions are not without their challenges. I remember fondly managing the cap and shields of my Maelstrom keeping both in the Max recharge range to successfully tank Angel Extravaganza. Since the missions are invariably one vs a whole army, this can lead to certain challenges. However what frustrates me is the repetition. Over the last month these are the Level 4 missions that I have done:

The Assault - 3 times
The Modus Headhunters - 4 times
Recon (1,2,3) - 5 times
Angel Extravaganza - 4 times
Damsel in Distress - 7 times
Stop the Thief - 4 times
Pirate Invasion - 2 times
Smuggler Interception - 5 times
Massive Attack - 2 times
The Score - 1 times
Cargo Delivery - 4 times
Rigth Hand of Zazzmatazz - 2 times
Intercept the Saboteurs - 3 times
Duo of Death - 2 times

Notice something.... that is all of the level 4 missions that they have. For reasons having to do with protecting faction standing, and refusing to waste time salvaging drones, the above list of 15 or so missions is all that there is. Understand this... most of the 300,000 or so players of EVE spend most of their time doing the same bloody 15 missions. I understand there are a few more missions from other agents, and I may have missed a couple, but this is pretty messed up. How much work is it for CCP to develop a mission? Considering the 5+ years they have been working on these, and the tens of millions of $$ that have been paid by active accounts running primarily doing missions, there should be a heck of a lot more then this.

So what to do?
The solution for Toterra, amazingly enough, is to just have it all. Toterra is now running missions in 0.0. Thanks to the pirate arcs providing a 37% boost to faction standings, I could access level 2 Guristas agents, which allowed me to quickly grind up in a day or two so that I could run Level 4 missions. Not bad :). Additionally, the missions are much more profitable thanks to their LP. I am no expert on the mechanics of LP reward sizes but where I was usually getting 5000 minmattar LP per level 4 mission, I am now getting 10,000 Guristas LP per level 4 mission. Multiply this by the far more lucrative LP store (Crystal Implants anyone) and the money is actually quite nice. I can avoid doing missions for empire factions easily enough and still make over 50 million ISK/hour.

But what makes it really good is that the missions are actually interesting. Not in the sense that the missions themselves are interesting, but because this is 0.0 other players are a distinct worry. Instead of lumbering along in a Maelstrom, I am racing around in an Ishkur, Daredevil or a Dramiel. Yes, these ships can do many level 4 missions. Just watch out for webs and sister probes.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The return of Ship Spinning...

fixing some things and moving forward

FINALLY! Hopefully they won't kill the GPU with this one.

And it also looks like they are fixing turret icons and changing the cyno effect.  Things are looking up :)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Is pirates the best race in Eve?

While checking out the new forums I noticed the following question in the EVE Trial Citizens Q&A forum. Is pirates the best race in Eve? Judging by the numerous responses to this possible troll question... this is a confusing topic.

So what is a pirate in EVE?

Their are two answers, one that a new player would give, and one that an experienced player would give.

New Players: For a new player a Pirate is a rat from a 'Pirate' NPC faction. Some of these like the Guristas have a back-story consistent with piracy. Others, like the Sansha, not so much but are still referred to as pirates by the game. In general players start by clearing the spacelanes of these threats to all that is good in the universe. Some players desire to join up with one of these factions, only to be thwarted by the discovery that the agents are out in 0.0 (oh noes doesn't that equate to instant death) and the lack of any real ability to join forces with these red crosses.

Non-new players
: For a non-new player these red crosses that we shoot at are not pirates. They are simply resources to be extracted, effectively asteroids that shoot back a little while being farmed. The truly ridiculous amount of carnage that even a single capsuleer can cause to even a massive Lv4 mission sized pirate fleet defies a RolePlaying explanation. Rather, for a player who has had a few months of game time, or even just a couple non-consensual PvP experiences, a pirate is another player that attempts to engage in non-consensual PvP. To be considered 'piracy' this PvP must take place in either low-sec or possibly as a suicide gank in empire space, and not part of a war-dec or a militia. Oddly enough PvP in 0.0 is usually not considered piracy. A player doing piracy will invariably suffer sec status hits and will usually be unable to even enter hi-sec without being shot at immediately. Often the trademark of a real pirate is the ransom demand. In an attempt to recover some of the cost of their destructive PvP activities a true pirate is more concerned about income from PvP then their killboard efficiency. Like the real pirates of old... EVE pirates do not fly the expensive and flashy ships, rather they fly efficient ships for their purposes.

As I once advised some new players who were ratting in a belt when I pounded in and blew them away, when there is another player on the field... the NPC ships, no matter how many or how large, are not the real threat anymore. Just because the pirate is in a Rifter and you are blowing up NPC Cynabals and Macharials means nothing. That pirate in the Rifter is the danger.

So is pirates the best race? Sort of a meaningless question. Is piracy the best thing to be doing then the answer is, like most things, it depends. Toterra tried the pirate life briefly and found it frustrating taking a major sec-status hit. However pirates do seem to have among the higest ration of doing that most desirable EVE PvP activity, small gang warfare so I understand the attraction. Maybe in some future expansion CCP will get it right and make piracy an easier activity to get into. We can only hope.

TL;DR - Pirates are players, not NPC ships.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Mitani and the CSM Realize They Have Been Played

First off, an apology for this negative anti-CCP article. Since monoclegate I have tried to avoid using this blog to bitch about negative things... but I just can't stop (sort of like I can't stop playing EVE).

I wrote a while back during the follow up to monoclegate that I felt that the Mitanni had done a marvelous job as CCPs public relations manager. The outcome of the summit, especially the video interview, brilliantly defused what for CCP was a potentially company ending catastrophe.

Now The Mitanni, and the rest of the CSM, realize that they were played. The issue... the minutes from that very summit. It appears that CCP and the CSM are at odds as to the contents of the minutes. Whatever 'accord' between the CSM and CCP appears to have broken down.

This is very discouraging. I had quit EVE over the issue of the door and the crap that was Incarna (yes I know I am back.... but that is another story). Every EVE player is hoping for one thing.. for CCP to realize just how good the game they have accidentally produced is, and how great they could make it if they just gave it a chance. Instead all we hear from CCP is how great some new game-breaking features like the NEX store are, how cool their console game is going to be because it interacts with the EVE players, and then a bunch of broken promises about EVE development.

I don't blame the CSM for trying to work with CCP. Many of them campaigned on taking a cooperative approach with CCP to prevent the breakdown that occurred with CSM 5. But now they realize that CSM 6 has been played. CCP used them for PR and now feels that they can be ignored since they have binding NDAs that prevent them from saying anything that CCP does not want them to say.

Edit: And the Mitanni has now declared war... The mittani declares war. On one hand you have CCP armed with the threat of banning a character and an NDA .... on the other hand you have a retired lawyer with a massive ego and who has a powerful influence over 7000 (goonswarm) accounts and entrenched himself into the gaming media (columnist at ten ton hammer).

In the spirit of the protest here are links to gaming magazine websites that are covering this (basically they all are)..

http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2011-09-05-eve-csm-chairman-breaks-the-peace – This site scooped the story, and caused all this.
http://www.pcgamer.com/2011/09/05/eve-online-stellar-council-head-hits-out-at-ccp PCgamer
http://gamers.5starhot.info/news-eve-csm-chair-mittani-breaks-the-peace GamerZone.
http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2011/09/06/eves-csm-fight-back-and-some-thoughtsRock Paper Shotgun- This one is particularly good. Get it everywhere.

Edit2: And another bang on commentary from former CCP Game Designer and current CSM representative Seleen

Friday, September 2, 2011

Wardecs and Eve Who

The carebear corp I am in was wardec'ed. One of the first things a corp should do when wardec'ed is to get a member list. Adding the members to your contact list means you can see who is online and who is not. Also allows the use of locator agents to find out where they are at any moment. In the past I would use battleclinic and look at kills/losses. This usually got most of the members but not quite all.

However last night I found this... http://evewho.com/

Fracken brilliant.