Archive for February, 2010

“You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy”.

Posted in Uncategorized on February 28, 2010 by cailais

I browse through the Jita Assembly Hall threads every now and then and came across this thread started by Rico Minali here, its an interesting post and has some similarities to a forum post I made back in 2007 – before the CSM had become a reality (the original thread)

I believed then, and I think it still applies in EVE today, that Low Security space has a lot more potential within itself and its interactions with the rest of the EVE Universe.  Now you might be thinking ‘bigger NPC rats, greater riches’ and all that sort of stuff – but that’s not what I am looking at here.  What could really benefit Low Sec is  far more immersion in terms of its style, theme or “look”.  Now you could argue that I’m just talking about random fluff that makes no real difference to the game – but I have to disagree; huge amounts of a games structure is basically just ‘fluff’, but it’s that fluffy stuff that draws our attention and pulls us in (so we can experience the meat of the game).

A quick example – compare S.T.A.L.K.E.R to MASS EFFECT.  Two very different games at first glance, but they’re still ‘shoot this, collect that’ games and so are far closer theme  than S.T.A.L.K.E.R and say Empire TOTAL WAR.  What separatedS.T.A.L.K.E.R and MASS EFFECT is a significant pile of fluff!

Just to draw attention to what I am rambling about.  Picture a Low Sec System, and a High Sec system: other than the players within it, and the presence of a few CONCORD ships on the gates what are the differences visually?  In fact, if youre not paying a great deal of attention you would be forgiven for not noticing the transition from High to Low Sec space.  We do of course see at least a moderate change when we transit from High Sec to Null Sec (the sudden sparsity of stations for example), or from High Sec to W-Space (no stations, different background nebulae, no asteroid belts and of course the Sleepers themselves).

If you’ll indulge me for a moment, now imagine a Low Sec System: – but now imagine that the stations are ruins, decayed and collapsing.  Lights across the stations burn dimly or flicker as they short out.  Debris swirls through the asteroid belts here, and thick gases thread through the tumbling rocks of veldspar.  Weird static and the faint hint of long lost screams permeates your audio.  This is part of a universe long forgotten and spinning resolutely downwards into criminality and degradation.

Back? Great! Once we have a Low Sec space that has a splash more immersion we can then look at what other actually game mechanics could apply.  A black market might sell such goods as not readily available elsewhere within EVE – and this might not mean modules and ammo: how about a market that sold data? Hacked codes that could damage a Territorial Claims Unit? A data trawl that reveals what that players Wallet value was on a given date? A detailed report on the current location of  a Corporations pilots (ALL of them) at a that time?

How would such commercially sensitive black market goods arrive at that station? Smuggling of course…..and so we continue to add to the depth of experience Low Sec could bring.  Great ideas for EVE Online don’t necessarily need to revolve around a hard mechanic or stat (“CCP should add 4 more turrets to the Minny Gargleblaster BS!!”) – & all to often that’s not a ‘new idea’ but a refinement of what already exists.

C.

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Boba Fetish

Posted in Uncategorized on February 25, 2010 by cailais

A recent forum post in the Features and Ideas forum caught my eye this week.  The post is from Lana Torrin, who seems to have got one of those forum reps – posting a lot of rubbish ideas I suppose.  But every now and then if you post enough you’ll probably hit the target once in a while, and I think this particular idea has some merit.

The basis of Lana’s idea then:

Bounty jobs work as follows. You go to the bounty office and request a job (or jobs). The bounty office randomly selects one pilot in the current region who has a bounty on his head and assigns him to you. At this point you get full kill/podding rights on that pilot. The ‘job’ will last for exactly 1 week (7 days) or until the bounty has been claimed (so he has no bounty left on his head). After the first day you can hand in the bounty job and request a new one (this is to prevent people continually asking for different jobs to get someone they know is an easy target, like an alt). Multiple bounty hunters can be given the same criminal (ie, its just random, it doesn’t need to check for this)

To claim the bounty you have to pod the pilot who has been assigned to you. This will give you 100% of the bounty outstanding on that pilot. IMPORTANT: ONLY THE PILOTS THAT HAVE A BOUNTY JOB FOR THAT CRIMINAL CAN CLAIM THE BOUNTY. Ship destruction but without a podding will give you 10% of the current bounty (cos podding in highsec is hard). All you have to do is get on the killmail, not put in the final blow (this is all assuming killmails GET FIXED!)”.

Not a terrible solution, as it would make it unlikely that a player could collect on their own bounty (unlikely but still possible if you got very lucky).

What I particularly liked about this idea was the idea of Bounty Hunting as a style of ‘mission’ albeit against a player rather than an NPC (which surely is a major attraction to the bounty hunter lifestyle).  Mix in a few skills that refine your ability to acquire a target, search over a wider range, or extend the window of opportunity to make that hit and we have the seeds of a ‘good’ idea.

I really hope that CCP do give this long lost profession another look as it really does epitomise everything that EVE Online should stand for: consequence for your actions in a cold, harsh universe where almost anyone is out to get you.

C.

Podded Podcast Uber Prize?!

Posted in Uncategorized on February 23, 2010 by cailais

Just listening in to the really pretty fine ‘Podded Podcast’  – you can find them at www.poddedpodcast.co.uk

Dillon and Warchilde put together a great show, pretty frequently and reliably – even more excitingly they’ve revealed their fort coming competition will have a singular prize of an entire YEARs worth of EVE Game Time!

Awesome stuff, drop  by their show (episode 25) to hear the details.

Tyrannisaurus Rex

Posted in Uncategorized on February 20, 2010 by cailais

OMG did you say all of the planets!?

That‘s right, you will finally be able to survey for juicy deposits of minerals and other goodies, build infrastructure to harvest them, store them, process them and launch them into space. Build complex networks of facilities and fine tune them for optimal production. All in a very massive single shard sandboxy way as only EVE can provide. And it‘s not just the terran planets. It‘s ALL OF THEM. The gas giants, the lava planets, the ice worlds, the water worlds and even the elusive plasma planets. Each type with their unique properties. Maintaining facilities on gruesomely hostile planets will be tougher and more demanding, but the rewards may be so much more “onturning.”” – CCP tOrfifrans

And so the first dev blog on the next expansion for EVE Online is revealed.  Well a little bit anyway!  As is the norm for most dev blogs the gloss is all there – it’s great marketing for sure, but there’s precious little detail.  Not that should stop us from speculating a little as to what Tyrannis has in store for us.  Certainly the expansions title suggests a chance for capsuleers to become self appointed Tyrants, enslaving whole worlds to their capricious whim.

I’m all up for a splash of tyrannizing, but the dev blog also makes it clear that we cant expect a full on ground war this time around, which leaves me wondering what the expansion can actually bring?  Prior to Dominion a screen shot was floating around showing what appeared to be supply lines / structures of some description leading down to the surface of the planet – and I think we can expect something of this nature.  But are we just looking at ‘Moon Mining II – the return of the goop”?

Extra stuffs for the industrialists across EVE is certainly a long time coming and if, as is suggested, individuals will be able to claim and manage their own fiefdoms EVEs complex universe could become very interesting indeed.  I would hope there is at least a smattering of ‘population management’ involved rather than just ‘drop probe, set up mining facility, profit’.  Managing a political infrastructure and a series of resources could be quite entertaining, especially during those long nights when essentially not much is going on.

What’s not clear is if this new expansion will encompass all of EVE or just restricted areas of it (such as 0.0).  The latter might add an increased incentive for high sec players to venture out beyond the cosy confines of Empire, but such an approach is likely to be unpopular and draw accusations that we just seeing another passive income cash cow for the mega alliances.

For me the crux will be how scalable the industrial process actually is: will we see small to increasingly larger ‘planet suckers’ put in place or just OMGHITPOINTS stations that encourage yet more blobbing to remove?  It seems almost certain that CCP are laying at least the ground work here for DUST 514, their much anticipated (but tragically console only) FPS title.

The other encouraging news is the name shifting ‘EVE Gate’ (previoulsy COSMOS, and then ‘New Eden’) is also slated for the next expansion.  The chance to “be able to access your EVE Mail through a browser” is a much longed for feature for yours truly: EVE interaction at work? Yes please! Hopefully iphone type apps will swiftly follow.  The ‘holy grail’ of course would be to manage typical docked activities such as manufacturing and trade – which would almost certainly see me fired but at least with a grin on my face (and ISK in my wallet!).

So some nice flim flam from CCP and gratz to their marketing department but until we see some of this emerge onto Singularity all we can say for now is pure unleavened speculation.

C.

blob o’doom

Posted in EVE Online on February 20, 2010 by cailais

Blobs.

Often blobs are described as a blight on the surface of Eve, but are they really all that bad?

In my experience the majority of ‘blob solutions’ appear on the forums only when lag rears it’s ugly head and fleet fights start to turn into sludgey slide shows.

And yet most .0 players and a good number of low sec players will have tales of losing a ship to a ‘blob’ and will decry ‘blobing tactics’. But what really defines a blob? Is it 100 ships? 50? 10? What if it’s 10 frigates – is that a blob, or a swarm?

In my view a blob is really based on ratio and ship class. 20 Battleships vs 1 Frigate might be justly described as a ‘blob’ (at least by the frigate pilot); 20 Frigates vs 1 Battleship is more of a ‘swarm’.

The classification of a blob comes when you consider how likely it is that a given fleet will outnumber and out size anything else it meets in a given area of space. That sounds a bit odd, but a 20 man fleet of Battleships is a medium to small gang in .0 ( say vs a 200 cap ship fleet). Whereas in low sec it’s a fairly substantial force.

So blobs are a matter of perspective rather than a defined number of ships.

Why though do blobs form? Well most people will recognise the ‘strength in numbers’ concept; the more of you there are the more powerful you become, and the less risk posed to each individual ship.

Blobs are also, to an extent, a requirement to accomplish certain tasks – attacking a enemy POS or Sov object for example means that removing a large quantity of Hitpoints swiftly dictates the type of fleet you need. Ever seen a POS attack undertaken commonly using 3 or 4 cruisers? No?

Blobs are also a natural conclusion of a social game – after all what’s better than causing mayhem and destruction with ALL of your mates rather than just a handful?

So, on the face of it Blobs should be a welcome and much loved sight in Eve. But that isn’t always the case. You only need to browse the recruitment forum, or chat to a few players and the majority will point to their love of ‘small gang warfare’ and loathing of blobs.

Is this just a factor of EVEs structure creating unenjoyable lag fests when ‘blobing’ occurs? Partly. But equally I think a lot of players see Blobs as just inherently unfair and boring. As a fleet increases in size the chance of it getting a comparable opponent decreases. Even when 2 opposing fleets do end up reasonably close to each other it’s increasinlgy likely that they do NOT engage -as the risk of loss increases as well; simply put the stakes get higher.

Overall then blobs aren’t an issue in and of themselves but they can be detrimental to the fun of EVE if they are the only option, which, as more and more players become cap ship capable seems to be increasingly likely.

What we need then, to broaden EVEs appeal is not a counter to blobs per se, but a counter or more precisely an alternative to blobbing as a increasing tactical trend.

C.

The Art of War

Posted in Uncategorized on February 12, 2010 by cailais

“Be extremely subtle, even to the point of formlessness. Be extremely mysterious, even to the point of soundlessness”.  Sun Tzu

Sun Tzu is possibly the most over quoted ‘strategist’ of all time, but the irony of this statement as part of my Blog was too delicious to miss out!

One of my real interests in EVE is its unique rendition of warfare.  I’ll almost certainly come back to this topic time and time again so it’s probably worth my while laying down a few terms and what I mean by them.  Your interpretation is likely to be different, and I would hardly class myself as an expert on all things relating to the pursuit of warfare, so please drop in a comment if you have another perspective!

“The Ground”.

The ground is a term for the physical space where a conflict occurs, even if that’s actually on the water, or in the air.  You could liken it to a playing field for a sports pitch for example.  What the ground does is ‘shape’ the course of a conflict, just as the markings on a sports pitch direct how a game should be played and what rules should be adhered to.

“Topography”

Topography is obviously the nature of the terrain apon which protagonists might fight – by this I mean the folds in the earth, valleys, ditches, mountains and plains.  EVE’s topography is pretty ‘flat’ for the most part; by which I mean there is precious little ‘terrain’ that protagonists can use to their advantage.

“Nodal”

Im not referring here to the server ‘nodes’ upon which EVE runs on, but rather to the structure of the universe.  Each System is a ‘node’, a single point, which is variously interconnected to other Systems by way of Stargates.  Within each System we have a series of other ‘nodes’ –  planets, stations, asteroid belts and so forth.  These are static points that you can navigate between.

“Concentration of Force”

Remember the old ‘Red Alert’ games where you could ‘tank rush’ your enemy at one point with as much stuff as you could muster? Well that’s concentration of force (or rather the result of it).  In EVE we have the ubiquitous ‘blob’.

“Manoeuvre warfare”

When we use the term ‘manoeuvre warfare” we’re not just talking about the physical movement of force around the battlefield in space and time. Manoeuvre warfare is something that is slightly harder to describe but essentially means utilising your force efficiently and striking at the weakest point of your adversary – that might mean physically manoeuvring your force but you could equally do so through propaganda or bribery! It’s more an overall philosophy than anything else – and its direct opposite is “Attrition Warfare” whereby two opponents make no attempt to conduct any sort of manoeuvre at all and simply repeatedly hit each other until one exhausts the other.

“Guerilla Warfare”

Again this term is interpreted by different people in various ways.  At its core is the use of small units, typically under the guise of a civilian population, to strike an opponent.  Often employed by a protagonist who cannot, or will not, mass a larger force for more ‘conventional’ warfare the ‘Guerilla’ aims to avoid a battle of attrition at all costs.  More recently this term has been subsumed by the concept of Insurgency based warfare.

“Asymmetric Warfare”

In days gone by warfare was characterised by two forces facing off against each other on the battlefield.  Asymmetric Warfare is the polar opposite to this meaning that the ‘enemy front line’ is everywhere, 360 degrees around your force and even within your own ‘front line’.  The closest approximation in EVE is probably the ‘corp spy’ who’s busy passing intelligence  to your adversary or stealing your stuff.

Note : “IRL” comparisons with EVE always break down at some point, but its hard to avoid them when we’re discussing the nature of warfare in EVE, but as long as we remember that such analogies can only ever be approximate it should be ok.

Next time – “The Blob!!”

C.

An Introduction.

Posted in Uncategorized on February 12, 2010 by cailais

Welcome to ‘the hydrostatic capsule’ which I hope will be a selection of my thoughts and musings on that most excellent of MMOs – EVE Online.

I’ve played EVE for several years now, and have stuck with the same main character ‘Cailais’ throughout that time.  My primary interests within EVE will probably bubble to the surface of this Blog over time – it’s probably enough to say here that I enjoy but fail epically at PVP, enjoy exploration whilst roaming through the depths of space and have a secret fascination with the mysteries of ‘invention and industry’.

What I do spend a great deal of time mulling over (as I’m sure many other’s do) is how CCP could work towards improving EVE, and so I’m more likely to be found reading the ‘Features and Ideas’ forum than ‘COAD’ or ‘Ships & Modules’.

To kick start most of my blog posts here I’ll dip into and link subjects from EVE-O http://www.eveonline.com from time to time.  I know EVE-O isn’t necessarily representative of the whole player base, or even a fraction of it (and there are other worthy fan sites like SHC I could use), but the “official” forums are as good a place as any to trawl for inspiration!

Oh, and Twitter…and Facebook…and of course other Blogs….  In fact there’s a constant hum of data spooling forth about EVE onto the interwebs every minute of every hour.  I guess that begs the question as to whether we really need another Blog on the topic?  Well, as I was once told; ‘variety is the spice of life’   – so provided I can make my blog just that little bit different to others out there I hope it will be of interest.

C.