A Scientist's Life in Eve

You mean people don’t just shoot each other? CCP to investigate!

by on Jan.17, 2014, under Eve online

Please, everybody who reads this blog and everybody else you know – get them to complete the CCP survey about industry.

In the UK, we are known for having a rather invasive and tenacious newspaper industry.  Recently, our government has been trying to introduce laws to regulate the industry in the wake of a phone hacking scandal which resulted in one Sunday newspaper actually closing its doors.  The industry’s own regulator is perceived to have failed, and their own suggestion of a new regulator, not enshrined in law, has been rejected by the government, with the government’s proposal having been rejected by the press themselves.

So why am I sharing this completely non-Eve related information with you?  Well, despite all of the above, the Prime Minister yesterday described the UK’s press as the “linchpin of democracy”.

How does that work then?  Do the Government like the newspapers or dislike them?  Do they trust them?  Do they value them?

I’ll be honest that I, personally, strongly dislike the way some of the more “basic” newspapers sensationalise things to instil sometimes more extreme views in a relatively small section of society about a particular subject, decision or event.  I also find it quite amusing when a particular newspaper or TV news programme is obviously politically partisan, and then denies that it is when challenged with the plain facts.

Again, how does this relate to Eve?

Well, this is stretching the analogy a little far (even for me, somebody who lives for analogies!), but imagine that the government represents CCP, everyday people in the UK represent “normal” players in Eve, and the press represent industrial players in Eve.  I did warn you that this analogy was stretching things, but try to stick with me for a moment :)

So the industrialists haven’t regulated themselves very well: bots to mine ice/ore and to farm rats are known to be an issue; large alliances control the high end moon mining and have formed cartels to manipulate the market; the soft squishy Carebears have been too difficult to find and kill until more recently.

How have the industrialists (the press) reacted?  Some players have been incensed and have been very vocal, stirring up small parts of the player community.  Some players have tried to present reasoned opinion and have even tried to suggest their own solutions to the issues raised.

However, CCP don’t seem to like this and have started to impose their own regulation: gravitational sites no longer need to be scanned; interceptors can almost insta-warp even through bubbles almost before they’ve finished jumping through the gate;  new deployable modules are added to make it easier to disrupt the Carebears work.

Yet despite this, the recent CSM minutes acknowledge that most of the value in the game is due to manufacturing.  Just like the UK’s Prime Minister, CCP have effectively given the nod to say that they do know that Eve needs industry.

Wow – I’m really rambling on with this post. Time to end it with a little thought:

PvP players – how many accounts do you have? 2, maybe 3? One main PvP account with possibly a booster alt? Industry players – how many accounts do they have? Well, many multi-box miners will run between 6 and 10 accounts, all mining at the same time.  Pure manufacturing players might have between 4 and 6 accounts. Even professional mission runners will be running at least 2 if not 3 accounts to ensure that they are breezing through sites quickly, and cleaning up their mess behind them.

So, on average, each industry character will have 2 to 5 times as many active subscriptions as a PvP player.  That’s quite a lot of money in subscriptions to be ignoring or, even worse, changing the game to make their gameplay less enjoyable.

I encourage you once again to complete the survey linked at the top of the post.  If CCP are given enough feedback from enough players, just maybe something might happen.

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Alas poor wallet, I knew him well

by on Jan.16, 2014, under Eve online

Margin trading is brilliant – if well planned you can run a large scale operation without having to have all of your ISK tied up in escrow; if you correctly balance consumer demand and supplier availability you can use your sell orders to fund your buy orders.

Unfortunately, margin trading can also be a pain if you get things not quite right.  It was on this basis that I logged in a couple of days ago to find many things in my deliveries hanger, and just over 7 million ISK left in my trading wallet.  After checking my stock and work in progress, it was a fairly easy decision to stop buying stuff and wait for completion and sale of some of the things I’m building first.

Anyway, in line with official CCP policy, I’m working on two projects, called Project Purple and Project Polygon.  I didn’t want people to get confused by me using the same names CCP, so I spent a long time with a focus group brainstorming names, and after many hours and several bags of coffee, these were the names that scored highest in our target market polls.

Details of Project Purple should hopefully be released within the next month, and I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to make an announcement about Project Polygon in the near future.

As to other news, I’m very pleased with my experiments using public courier contracts as well as Red Frog Freight, and have decided to continue to use this way of moving things around for almost everything I do between market hubs and my production facilities.  If you haven’t tried this way of moving bulk items around, I recommend you give it a go.

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Time to use some of those untested skill points

by on Jan.06, 2014, under Eve online

So I’ve invested a reasonable number of skill points into combat type things with some of my characters.  One, for example, has completed the entire drone skill tree and can fly all tech 2 logistics ships with relevant skills all to level V (but has virtually no gunnery or missile skills).  Another character has completed the leadership skill tree and can fly all racial Battlecruisers (level V) and Command Ships (level V) with a very good level of proficiency in small and medium weapons.  A third is good with bombers and interceptors, and can fly a Tengu very nicely.

What all of these toons (and various others) do, though, is research, copy, invent, reverse engineer, manufacture and sell all kinds of things, mostly not leaving the confines of a station unless to mine or do some PI or moon related activities.  A waste? Maybe.

What I’m looking for is the opportunity to try out that black art called PvP.  I’m not talking about throwing billions of ISK at this as a project and flying Tengus or pimped out Damnations, but flying a frigate or cruiser, maybe an interceptor or assault frigate.  That would be something good to start with.  Now I could just grab 100 Rifters and go out and see what happens, but I think all I’d probably do is just lose 100 Rifters and learn precious little.  Now, flying with somebody else or a small group – that would be better.

No – I can’t drop a toon and put them into RvB. No – I’m not going to roll another toon and put them into RvB, as they’d be crap and I want to learn how to use the characters I already have, and understand what gaps to fill in their skill queues. No – I don’t mind if my sec status drops a bit, as long as I can fly in empire space still, I don’t mind – and I plan to counter with ratting and missioning to repair my status.

I was thinking on maybe one or two roams of about an hour or two a week. Again, perhaps I’m very wide of the mark here, but then you’re no doubt leet and I’m just a n00b carebear :P

So – suggestions? Offers? Pointing and laughing?

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Blog Banter 52: The other side

by on Jan.06, 2014, under Eve online

Go to the always useful EVE-Offline.net (http://eve-offline.net/?server=tranquility) and take a look at the All Time (weekly average) graph for concurrent accounts logged in.

Eve all time user count

For the past four and a half years, the graph has hovered around that 30,000 mark; it is, for all intents and purposes, a plateau. But everything must come to  an end sooner or later and that is what this blog banter is about.

What’s on the other side of that plateau?

Wow – for me that graph just doesn’t look very good right now.  Yes, at least it’s not really falling, but within those figures will be older players leaving and being replaced by new players, as well as a churn of new players starting and not being captured into the Eve universe.

Where is this going to go?  When I talked about this graph with a friend, he said that if you’re not growing then you’re dying. I didn’t really have the heart to show him the graphs for Dust 514, but that’s another story.

Do I think that numbers will steadily start to drop? So much depends on what happens next with Eve. The game itself is unique in so many ways: the way the sandbox works; the player driven economy; the PvP rich environment; the metagame. All of these together make Eve what it is now – incredibly difficult to learn unless you get into the social aspect of Eve and join a player run corporation.

The direction CCP take Eve over the next year or two will be absolutely critical to the survival of the game.  Sounding a bit dramatic there?  Well maybe yes but probably no.  When looking through the minutes of the late August 2013 summit between the CSM and CCP (which were only published on 2 January 2014… after the Winter Expansion that the majority of the minutes were dedicated to!), it’s both clear that manufacturing is a critical (and the single largest) part of the Eve economy, yet discussion about Industry matters are virtually non-existent within the minutes.  I will instantly concede that the Winter Expansion was not an industry expansion, and so the lack of column inches dedicated to it can be explained.

Within the minutes, something complex is mentioned, but it didn’t make it into the Winter Expansion – details of that will hopefully be revealed soon.  Also, a “Project 2″ and “Project 3″ were mentioned but that’s as far as they got, all other details were completely expunged by the NDA filter. Things like this, when revealed, need to build upon the firm base that is the industry side of the game. Rather than scraps falling from the PvP and PvE tables, industry needs something solid to grab on to, and I don’t mean a few new PvP and PvE modules to get blueprints for and build – that does not count.

The problem with Eve is, however, quickly apparent when you go to the forums and see the various threads, comments and “feedback”.  If CCP do ever release an industry expansion, they cannot afford to sell it as such, as the vocal minority who are the PvP element will wave their arms around and cry out in despair, loudly proclaiming the death of Eve as becoming Farmville in space and accusing CCP of ignoring their main customers.  To release an industry expansion, CCP will, therefore, need to actually break it up into 3 or 4 parts and release it as a subset of new “awesome” PvP and PvE features.

Who will build and maintain the new player owned stargates when they are released? You’ll look to the n00b hi-sec carebears to provide you with the stuff in Jita so that bloke who has all the spreadsheets in the Alliance can make it for you.

But I digress – or do I? What I’m trying to get across here is that Eve tends to have players who are much more specialised in a trade, as unlike many other games you can actually just play the game as a specialist. With games like Rift for example, yes you can build things and sell them, but essentially you have to engage in large amounts of PvE (and never have to engage in PvP if you don’t want to) in order to achieve your goal.  In Eve, I can just roll a character, buy skill books and never have to leave a station if I don’t want to. I won’t have to undertake a single mission, blow up even one red + on my overview, and definitely not have to risk having my ship suicide ganked when I undock from even the safest of stations.

This is where CCP have their greatest advantage, and their biggest problem.  They’re trying to market a game like Rift, a PvE game where you can PvP or craft. They’re not marketing a game like World of Tanks where you only engage in PvP in very (literally) quick fire situations. They’re not even trying to market a game like Minecraft where you can build things. They’re trying to market a game where the player makes their own experience from the things available to them, and CCP need to work on all of those things at the same time to keep growing.

If you’ve played Eve for a while, you’ll remember the “Barbies in Space” edition with the Jita riots and the resultant destruction of the Jita monument.  In that expansion CCP tried to expand their game into yet another area, but not only did they release something that was largely incomplete, it was also something that literally melted some computer graphics cards.  CCP quickly backtracked and refocused on flying spaceships in space and managed to largely save the situation.

Were CCP wrong to try and do what they did? In my opinion… no!  Actually, if they’d released and expansion where not only did you have Captains Quarters (proper racial ones), but quarters you could actually rent with ISK and personalise and furnish with a mixture of ISK and AUR goods, places you could go to meet (Corp offices, which most Corps already rent) as well as bars and meeting areas to hold meetings, broker deals, play games, trade illicit goods like boosters etc.  If they’d just waited and released that in one go, not only would the player base have welcomed it with open arms, I am sure it would have brought in new players and also made the experience of some players (professional traders, scammers, manufacturers etc.) significantly better – assuming it didn’t melt your computer and assuming it was something that could be avoided as it currently can.

If CCP had simply have called Walking in Stations “Project 27″ or something similar, and kept it under NDA until it was ready to be released as a complete feature set, well Eve would be a very different place right now.  Will CCP dare to walk down this path again (pun intended)? Who knows, but I’d imagine that with Dust 514 not growing its playerbase quickly, and with Valkyrie on the horizon, the answer is sadly probably a “no”.

So what could help push Eve beyond the plateau and onwards and upwards with active players? Lots of things could be changed and altered to help with the new player experience, particularly with helping players to understand how important the social aspect is in continuing to learn, but also to understand more fully the different journeys that can be undertaken within the Eve experience.  Finding ways to connect Dust and even Valkyrie into the Eve universe as a whole will help to bring players into Eve itself.  Yes, some players will only want the quick PvE or PvP experience in a 30 minute gaming slot before they get bored and move onto another game, but if the link from that game to Eve is good enough, it may start to draw the player into investing time, and more importantly hard cash, into exploring Eve.

The most important single factor in turning the flat line into an upward trend is the playerbase itself. We as players can help by actively encouraging both our friends in other games, and obvious new players in Eve that we meet. Just killed the n00b in their Velator? Why not convo them, explain a bit about what they did right/wrong, shoot them a couple of million ISK and suggest a ship and fit that might help them do better next time.

CCP are gradually providing new and better tools to allow players to produce websites, videos and other things (such as live streaming) which can be used to promote Eve.  This needs to happen more with Dust 514 too.

When I look at that graph, I am worried for the future of Eve, but it also makes me hope that “Project 2″, “Project 3″ and the “complex” thing that didn’t make it into the Winter 2013 expansion will be something great which will not just be purely PvP or PvE focused.

Given my current health condition, I’m considering putting a bet down as to which will pass away first, me or Eve. Given that I have a less than 2% chance of lasting another 10 years, what chances would you give Eve? I’m hoping that Eve outlasts me – and I’d like to somehow help make that possible (and I don’t mean jumping off a bridge next week so that I lose my bet!).

Ask yourself the question – what could you do to help build the Eve playerbase?  I’m sitting here asking myself that question right now.

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CSM8 – Summit Minutes Published

by on Jan.06, 2014, under Eve online

Yes, it’s true. At 21:03 on the 2nd day of January in the year of Our Lord 2014, the minutes of the summit between the 8th Council of Stellar Management’s and CCP Games were published.  What makes these minutes so remarkable is that they comprise a 76 page behemoth which largely deals with things for the upcoming Winter Expansion.

So a headline only summary of the sections:

  1. CCP structure – team structure etc.
  2. How the CSM and CCP communicate… aka the Skype section
  3. The anti-RMT and anti-BOT campaign (not to be confused with The Marmite Collective’s anti-B0T campaign in and around Jita)
  4. Eve Economy part 1. “We then turned to a large collection of graphs”, none of which in the entire 76 pages of minutes were included.  Why not?!?!?! Although we do have a link to TenTonHammer.com to qualify what OTEC stands for. Priorities anybody?
  5. Eve Economy part 2. New player retention – interesting discussion here about grouping, and also details of how the CSM started playing Eve
  6. The art session – reported entirely in words with the exception of a picture of the CSM staring at two large screens, that we can’t see. Very helpful, especially as it talks about the possibility of Sisters of Eve ships becoming available
  7. Talking about rebalancing ships and modules, and apparently Jester needs to send CCP a bottle of brandy
  8. Very short as it clearly had lots of NDA stuff in
  9. Personal deployables – we now have 3 of the 12 possible modules, and no idea what any of the other 9 might be
  10. SMA’s don’t drop ships “to prevent server crushing lag” – Goons now aware of this issue
  11. I’m glad that this session, affectionately dubbed “Project 2″ has no further details.  One of CCP’s strengths has been that it actively seeks input from its playerbase on ideas and features, however this is also one of its major problems, as it is often the vocal minority who influence their ideas.  CCP – please try to “do your own thing” on this, having fully understood the lessons arising from the Walking in Stations episode
  12. Multi-character training will hopefully be in the Winter expansion, and the certificate system is being changed
  13. Hi-sec POCO’s are coming, as well as a personal deployable to disrupt moon harvesting… but don’t worry, there will be a method to detect if this is happening, possibly a POS module. Note – after release there are actually three methods: warping to the POS and looking; learning to use dscan to check from somewhere in system; and using an out of game method such as Eve Reactor and noticing that you have less in your silo than expected
  14. A new and complex feature, of which we have no details, is possibly going to be released in part or in whole sometime from January 2014 onwards.  Also discussions on the new character selector and PvE sites
  15. Due to be added in 2014 as the session was mostly NDA
  16. All about the excellent Collector’s Edition – I have one of these and they’re well worth getting, but I’ll do a separate post on that soon(TM)
  17. Corp logos on ships – maybe, Alliance logos – not likely. An Industry revamp was mentioned for the first, last, and only time… on page 52 of 76.
  18. Everything you ever needed to read about the CSM’s thoughts on PvE
  19. As with session 11, Project 3 is also not put on display – smart move again methinks
  20. All about what could be done with the UI
  21. Languages – presented in a conversational format
  22. The launcher and how players use it
  23. A brief chat with Hilmar and how Eve, Dust and Valkyrie are icebergs
  24. Valkyrie – the reason you will want to buy a VR headset

I thought I’d do a “search” on the document for words to see how important they appear to be in the eyes of the CSM and CCP:

  • The word “Industry” is only mentioned 7 times, with manufacturing mentioned 3 times – yet Dr EyjoG is clear that most of the value in game is manufacturing, with the Gross User Product’s biggest factor being manufacturing, followed by NPC tax and bounties
  • PvE makes 41 appearances
  • PvP only appears 20 times
  • Dust appears 41 times
  • Agreed is there 49 times
  • Disagreed is only there 3 times
  • Success/Succeeded only made it into the document 8 times…
  • …but has a 2:1 ratio over fail which is only there 4 times
  • Eve is mentioned 129 times
  • Finally, Ripard (aka Jester) outdoes all of the above, being the most listed person in the minutes with 154 mentions (ok, CCP is mentioned 261 times, but I decided to leave that out for dramatic impact)

Do you know what I think? I think that CCP should actually employ a professional secretary to do these minutes.  One week to transcribe and organise the minutes, followed by three sets of two day engagements over a 2 week period to finalise the amendments (and NDA removed bits).  The minutes could then be published within 4 weeks of the summit ending, and actually be relevant and timely, rather than what is largely now an anecdotal account of something that was planning something that has already happened.

I may sound harsh – I’m certainly not wanting to be a CSM member in any form, but this sort of delay is just counter-productive and disappointing.  I know that CCP can do better, and I hope that the CSM want to do better, so spend a bit of money and be smart about it – get somebody to do the job who has the time, ability and experience, rather than a group of people who are busy playing the game and living their real (probably incredibly busy) lives too.

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Overlooking the obvious

by on Jan.01, 2014, under Eve online

Wow what a start to 2014.  My first post and I’ve overlooked the obvious.

After I hit publish, I had this nagging feeling that I’d missed something, and after re-reading a friend’s post on Zero Gravity Geology, I’m going to give Red Frog a try to see how that works out.  I think I’ll try them for maybe a week or two and, if it works out ok, I’ll go from there and use my time more productively.

Hooray for other bloggers!

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Not quite under the radar

by on Jan.01, 2014, under Eve online

One of the things I had intended to do when I moved to a separate corp was to try and operate mostly under the radar.  I suppose setting up my moon mining to include two Cadmium moons was probably a little bit hopeful, and so it proved over the last couple of days.

On Sunday I logged off having emptied the silos of product, and on Monday I logged back on to find the towers on the two Cadmium moons reinforced.  Not exactly what I had hoped for.  I warped to the towers to have a look, and also checked the notification emails.  It looks like they had taken less than 30 minutes per tower to reinforce the large Caldari control towers with a little bit of extra shield resistance.

Knowing the aggressors from a previous home, I contacted a diplo to see what the reasons were – I’d checked the other relevant moons in the system and they were now also in their control.  As expected, it was nothing personal, purely business.

In the real world, many governments repeat the mantra “we do not negotiate with terrorists”, however I think we’re all realistic and understand that sometimes you do have to sit down and chat with the man in the mask.  In this case, I had a relatively friendly chat and I think we have an agreement where I can take my towers down at an agreed time for them to put up their own towers.

Obviously this is not really ideal, as I’ll now have lost the two Cadmium moons, but when it’s basically just me against a PvP corp with over 60 members, in a game like Eve it’s all about investment and return for me.  Due to a bit of luck with the time they attacked, the towers came out of reinforced mode at around 23:00 Eve time yesterday… that’s right, New Year’s Eve.  This helped I would think so that I could safely rep things up and get out of reinforced mode regardless, and so I’ve now managed to strip the towers of things and, as per my agreement with the PvP corp, I have just my blank towers up waiting for an agreed time to “swap”.

In reality I’ll probably actually end up buying the Cadmium from them, which will certainly be a bit strange, but as I’ll be running fewer towers things don’t work out too badly after all.

As far as developing my industrial base, I now run somewhere between 60 and 100 inventions a day, as well as some reverse engineering.  I run up to 70 manufacturing jobs concurrently and because of that end up traveling to and from trade hubs a bit more than I’d like.  The next thing to look into would be whether I could justify the cost of using a courier service instead of handling the logistics myself, but I really want to settle down my manufacturing lines a bit more first before I look in to that.

My current thinking is to be producing two types of T2 module alongside a spread of T2 ships and T3 subsystems.  This should hopefully keep my exposure to market oddities at a minimum, and since I’m producing some of the moon goo for the T2 production myself, that also helps.

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More mouths to feed on the ship

by on Nov.24, 2013, under Eve online

Colin waited for the transport tube to finish its journey to the dock, trying to look at the unusually large number of people sharing the journey with him today.  On Tuesdays, it was usually pretty quiet, yet today there were over 20 other people in the tube with him.

As the doors opened he stepped out onto the dock and then froze. It was a complete mess. There were literally thousands of people scurrying around the huge docking area between the various ships, with huge crates of equipment stacked before each ship. He took out his datapad and scanned through for any kind of notice or message that might explain the scene before him, but there was nothing.

He set off for his assigned ship, constantly having to push past groups of people and almost being knocked over four or five times by engineers running one way or another. He approached the huge Gallente Anshar class jump freighter where he worked, the ID chip embedded beneath the skin on his left arm automatically registering his arrival and allowing him access to the crew loading platform. Again surprised, there were at least 50 others on the platform with him as it silently floated across to the ship and guided them into the crew onboarding facility.

Walking through the ships corridors towards his bunk, the ship was literally full of people.  Usually a ship this size would be crewed by a few hundred people and, of course, the capsuleer, but this time there were easily over a thousand people on board.

As he dropped his small luggage holdall onto his bunk, the chimes signifying undocking rang out through the ship’s intercom system. He made his way to his station within the cargo area where he would be responsible for monitoring the ship’s contents during the jumping process. When he arrived the area was packed with people, all wearing Core Complexion Space Exploration suits. The First Mate appeared on a projection towards the front and silence descended.

“Right, you know what you have to do – now’s the time, so get out there and earn your credits.”

Colin tapped the suited woman beside him on the shoulder – “What’s going on? Why are you all here?”. Rolling her eyes, her explanation would have been laughed at in any other situation “Well since Concord came along and replaced all of the engines in the space ships, the boss has become annoyed at the extra time it takes this thing to get where it’s going in warp, so that’s why we’re all here.”

By this time Colin was ready for about any explanation “Here to do what?” he asked. “All of us here have spacesuits with manoeuvring thrusters. We’re here to get out and push!”

 Inspired by the new warp acceleration and deceleration changes, where an interceptor can be en route to a grav site at 20 AU before it’s even finished decloaking from the jump gate, and where freighters seem to be about to stop short of their destination, only to slow boat and finally get there.

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Dust vs other games – how did it do?

by on Nov.17, 2013, under Dust 514

Having played Dust 514 now since April, I thought it would be a good idea to try out some of the competition to see how it fared.  Dust does have some problems (in my opinion), and those are:

  • ARWIN – If you want to win in most situations, it boils down to using a medium frame (usually Caldari or Minmatar), and fitting an Assault Rifle.  It’s that simple really unfortunately
  • SRWIN – This is simply ARWIN but using an Assault Scrambler Rifle, although you’re not quite as effective as an Assault Rifle in some situations
  • Automatic Sniper Rifle – see ARWIN above
  • Scotty – Seriously Scotty… it’s just me and a friend, why put us up against a squad of UPS and WTF and think that us two and the other 14 random players are likely to stand a chance
  • TTK – Time To Kill was not something I had heard of until the last “patch” was applied to Dust. Hit detection was improved, and suddenly ARWIN got a serious boost.  Really????  Why CCP… why? What probably needs to happen now is the removal of the recent 10% damage boost to Assault Rifles and Scrambler Rifles
  • ISK making opportunities – unless you’re one of the few people who get selected to be allowed entry to Planetary Conquest battles, ISK making can be more difficult than it probably needs to be. See Scotty above, as he regularly throws you into matches where you need to use proto gear to compete with their proto gear, and then the 7 deaths you suffered aren’t compensated by the 200k ISK you receive

So which games did I try to see what Dust 514 might be losing players to or trying to get players from?  Could Dust learn anything from these games?

PlanetSide 2

This was an obvious game to try, and it’s one I’m still exploring a little.  Looking at it while it was downloading, it seemed to promise some things Dust was missing.  Once it had downloaded and installed, I went through the character creation process and selected a server to play on.  I presumed that this was because of the sheer number of players that they had online at any one time.

The tutorial was very straightforward, I learnt how to run, jump, duck and hack a point. I looked on the map and was quite excited to see that I could have an impact on the continental struggle for power.  I selected a drop point in a well populated sector (over 20 on each side) and dropped into battle.

This was when things started to go wrong. Believe it or not I actually found it difficult to work out who to shoot and who not to shoot to start off with.  Yes – friendly fire is always on, and actually I really liked that as it demanded more skill rather than just using my gun as a water hose.  After a not too short amount of time I ended up working out it seemed to be anybody without a tag.

The next problem was that I felt like I was in a scout suit using a hand gun, while everybody else was in an Amarr Heavy suit using a Duvolle Assault Rifle.  I will freely admit that I’m not really very good at FPS, but this was simply crazy.

To my dismay, you can’t move characters between servers, so when my friend in the US of A signed up too in order to assist me, we had a few minutes of deleting and creating characters until we were on the same server.

So what did I like about this game?

  • I liked that friendly fire was on all the time, and that if you shot somebody on your team, you were flagged as a griefer and were stopped from shooting for a period of time
  • I also liked some of the little things like having a quad bike to get around on (no gun, just road kill opportunities)
  • I liked some of the other ideas such as having a jet-pack on certain suits – could be used on a type of scout suit for getting up to places defended by snipers / forge gunners maybe?
  • I liked that you couldn’t spam drop uplinks, but thought that they had gone too far the other way
  • I loved that you could change the keyboard mapping

However, there was something that was just stopping me enjoying the game and becoming invested in it.  It simply didn’t feel like a FPS, it more felt like an RPG. My friend summed it up when he said it was almost like Final Fantasy with an assault rifle.

It just didn’t feel right.  It didn’t feel grown up.  It was incredibly difficult to find targets at times, and the server population was pretty hopeless at anything apart from peak times.

Oh, and no option for open comms in the game – you have to press a button to speak.  Sometimes it’s just nice to not have to push to talk.

After about an hour of playing it, I just wanted to uninstall it and play something else, so my friend and I both loaded up….

World of Tanks

This is actually a really well done game for rapid fire PvP. I’ve been playing WoT for around a month now.  I usually play a sniper in a FPS game as I accept that I’m just not as good in 1v1 situations as many others are.  Therefore in WoT I quickly got into self propelled guns (SPG’s), and got to a Tier V SPG quite quickly.  However, unusually for me I’m actually having more fun playing as either a light or medium tank, and am just about to get a Tier V Churchill medium tank to play with.

WoT does lots of things right.  They have friendly fire on and identify and punish griefers. They have a matchmaking system which seems to get things right much more often than not.  The also have the very cool feature that, if your tank gets blown up in a battle, you can exit that battle, choose another tank in your garage and go straight into a different fight which the other tank sits on the field waiting for the first battle to end.

The user count certainly seems to support the recent Golden Joystick award, and I do find it fun to dip in, have a few games and then continue with what I was doing somewhere else.

What could Dust learn from this? Well again it comes to friendly fire. This is available in Planetary Conquest battles, but in public battles it isn’t, and that’s probably a good thing in quite a few cases.

WoT is fun for quick fire PvP, but after a while again I started to get bored.  If I got blown up quickly then I either watched the rest of the match from others’ perspective, or got into another battle, but Dust allows me to stay the course and keep coming back, changing my suit and tactics if I feel the need, to try and make an impact on the game.

Conclusion

So, after playing a couple of other games that might sap players from Dust’s playerbase, I ended up wanting to play Dust again at the end of it.  That’s a good sign, but why was it that both games had a significantly higher number of players online at any one time?

I think CCP need to fix a some gun balance issues urgently, and then they need to do something about the matchmaking system.  They could look at introducing a couple of other vehicles or increasing the player count to 24v24 maybe.  Above all, I think the main thing that CCP need to do is to get Dust out there more – they need to get more players playing it, as I’ve got a horrible suspicion that the average concurrent active playerbase is reducing, not increasing.

Other than that, the game can continue to evolve as it should – different game modes perhaps.  Some way for the public players to get more involved with higher ISK reward situations perhaps.  Variations on vehicles maybe?

Despite all the problems, I still wanted to play Dust over the other games.

CCP has created something with so much potential.  At the moment it’s pretty much still like a beta version of the game, considering what they need to do to move it forward.

If they need any help or advice – I’m free and will gladly give my time without charge to offer my noobish FPS, but more involved Eve related opinion on things :)

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Drones FTW

by on Nov.17, 2013, under Eve online

So my Archon pilot completed the drone skill tree a couple of days ago, even including training salvage and mining drones to V. He’s also my logistics pilot, so can fly all four logi ships with level V’s in all the right areas. Logical training for him now? Gallente Battleship V so the Dominix can be used to its full potential, and I’ll then probably get into an Ishtar for a laugh too.

As for my other operations, I have various alts training up science and manufacturing skills so I can make the most of my blueprint collection.  Currently I’m setting up some T2 manufacturing lines split between T2 ships and T2 modules, with some T3 subsystems thrown in as fillers.

As far as Rubicon is concerned, about the only useful part I’m looking to take advantage of is the fact that the Command Ships will be split to the different hull types, so I can imagine quite a few people wanting to be flying a T2 Hurricane or Harbinger etc.

When I say that I’m setting up a T2 manufacturing line, what I mean is that I work through logistics of blueprint copying, invention statistics and slots required, T1 and T2 manufacturing requirements, and finally I bring it all together to look at working capital required to set up and run the line.

Maybe I’m overthinking some things, but I like to run things from my spreadsheets, as it also then allows me to spot where I can try to fill a short term “FOTM” opportunity by breaking into a production line.

Moon mining is blissfully quiet and efficient at the moment, although I can see some speculators working the Jita markets on occasions, which often makes me wonder at the level of ISK they’re playing with.  I’m not really worried about the siphon units, as it states that it only takes from raw mining or simple reactions, and then only from the end of a chain, so that will only potentially expose me on two moons with low-grade moon goo.  I also check my POS daily and have guns at my toon’s disposal to play with :)

My only other preparation for Rubicon is to make sure that my skill queues will all have long skills in them just in case CCP doesn’t quite get it right.

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