Opened Eyes

(One of the Non-EVE Posts I mentioned earlier.)

My son regularly tries to access Reddit. He is 12.

He has two iPads (one for school, one for home), an Xbox One S, and a Windows Gaming Desktop. On each I have set up restrictions around age, applications and store purchases, given him non-administration accounts, locked him into child friendly DNS, use Norton and Windows Family software and what not. I also keep a semi regular eye on what he is doing, reviewing his logs and history.

I must annoy him no end when I refuse to allow him to install lots of games his friends do – generally based on if they are too realistically gory or violent, or with concepts that are just too dark.

What I have done won’t protect him fully, but it helps, and it is why I’m aware of his interest in Reddit.

He loves gaming and wants to be a game developer after school. His wayward web searches have always been aboveboard, hunting down game and development tips and reviews and bug fixes. When blocked he knows just to move on and try the next link.

Some of my son’s peers have far more restricted access to the internet. One has an extremely technically minded father who has rewritten their modem’s firmware with all sorts of parental controls over access, times, length, sites visited and what not. A handful are simply not allowed to access the internet at all without their parent sitting with them.

The majority however – the vast, vast majority, have minimal or no restrictions or monitoring on their Internet use. In some cases, they have even circumvented the rudimentary controls that their non-technical parents had tried to implement, or have their older siblings do it for them.

I’m sure there are lots of healthy and useful areas in Reddit, but it really isn’t a platform I want my son to be familiar with at his age. The mind truly boggles at just what the majority of kids must be accessing on their devices, and from such a young age. My god that could mess up the minds of so many kids.

While I make an above average effort to protect my son, I don’t go to the extremes I am technically able to. I use it more as an opportunity to explain why some of the sites are blocked, and he uses it as a debating point on when or why he should have access. I hope the fact that it is something we openly communicate about helps him when he visits friends or sleeps over, and doesn’t have the same sorts of restrictions or protections in place.

Time Flies out the door

Aside a couple sessions working on T3 fittings, I’ve spent very little time playing EVE over the last few weeks. I have been reading about the current and approaching wars, but it all tends to come across as the same old story, just a different day. The style of propaganda probably doesn’t help much there. I think the August release is arriving today. I looked at the patch notes but not much stood out. There is a new event starting called Lucky Clash, a new Standings UI, and some updates to the map and scanning interfaces I’ll have to look at. One nice change is that scan results no longer clear on session changes.

I have been playing a bit of World of Warships, and try to fit in a couple battles each day. I actually feel like I am playing ok – not brilliantly, but regularly being in the top 3 or 4 experience earners in my team. This is not however reflected in my stats. My win rate for the last 3 months is sitting at around 40% from 215+ battles. I know it shouldn’t matter, but it does. It doesn’t make it a particularly satisfying game.

I am sailing a lot of Tier VII and VIII Cruisers at the moment, and often find myself bottom tier up against Tier IX and X ships. The Battleships just chew through you – the majority of your strikes just shatter, but every time one of their shells land, boom, 30 to 40% of your hits are gone. It only takes one or two salvos and you are out of the game. I say the same thing over and over – but it pretty much sums up my experience.

Recently I resorted to running a few Tier III/IV matches, up against a generally lower level of player. I am finding I am normally effective, sometimes enough to carry a match. It was a confidence boost I needed. The above battle was particularly memorable with the Murmansk captain well and truly outclassing everyone. I am pretty sure he came out with around half his hit points still. I did a lot of spotting and had many torpedo hits in that game – being untimely robbed of several kills. I cemented the win by soloing a Battleship parked in one of the Capture points, and then choosing not to engage the Murmansk and focus on ensuring a strategic point win. I have seen a lot of games lost by players focused just on drawing blood. It is an easily exploited tactic used in EVE.

I am still doing a DDO Session every week or so with friends. They use the one night I join them to do loot runs, primarily in EPIC level quests. They all have characters with many reincarnations and highly optimised set ups and equipment. They run these quests solo, and in groups they move mindlessly at breakneck speeds. There is no such thing as stopping to smell the roses. Often, I spend the entire session running to catch up, struggling to even just target opponents before they are swiftly killed by the others. It doesn’t tend to be fun. I had to put aside all but one of my highest-level characters as they just fell too far behind. I am down to just using my original Cleric now, and while I often pull my weight in the kill count, it is just a handful of crowd control tactics used over and over and over again. I just don’t have the time – or the inclination – to spend the months required to partially catch up. The reality is I should stop playing.

Speaking of stopping, I’ve pretty much stopped playing all my iPad games – with just the occasional glance at them with weeks or months between. Interesting how none of them have really been able to hold my interest like EVE had.

All told my gaming time has dropped by more than 50% over the last year. I should have a bit of spare time on my hands, maybe to tackle something new. Real life however energetically vacuums any of that time up. Mostly it sees me taxiing kids around to their silly number of activities and events. I am struggling a bit with the lack of escapist downtime.

I have written various more personal blog entries that I never posted. I might throw one or two of them up for the other middle-aged gamers with kids to nodded their heads at and mumble yep.

An Unsure Bargain

CCP has had a 15% off sale on Subscriptions, which ends today (25th).

I expect I am wrong, but I don’t recall seeing 15% off before.  Normally I thought it was 10%, with the occasional 5% thrown in to underwhelm you.

Anyway – after seeing the ads over and over again in my social media feeds and through services like YouTube, and also reading that the Australian Dollar is in a bit of an uptick against the US Dollar (thanks Mr Trump), I ended up extending my subscription for another 12 months.  I am not sure if that was a good idea or not.  Elmis will be in Omega for at least 500 more days.

While spending money I renewed my WordPress upgrades, so you don’t have to look at Ad’s and what not.  (If you hadn’t noticed I thoughtfully removed ads, best just keep it to yourself.)

World of Warships has constant sales.  Recently they advertised a week of massive savings on Premium Battleships.  Intrigued I went to look, only to find the exact same 20% off they provided every week to selected ships.  Why call it massive when it is the same sale they always do?  At least they do have 50% sales once or twice a year.

Just Jeans here in Australia sends out an email about a sale, extend it, hypes up the fact it is finishing, then immediately when it finished start up the exact same sale again.  Rinse and repeat week after week, month after month.

That sort of thing makes me LESS likely to spend.

With the T3 revamp the other day my unsubscribed main Alt picked up 750K SP.  (My main got 1.2M.)  I can not use them however as you can’t apply them to Omega skills while in an Alpha State.

The person who first got me into EVE is back playing – for a little while anyway.  They got a good deal on a subscription (better than 15%) to try again.  I notice him online at times, but he’s been pretty quiet.  He complained in an email today that he was disappointed that he could no longer mine in Empire.  It turned out he aggressed an Auththysian Lancer in a belt with an unhappy result.  I suggested he leave those alone while in a Barge and he should be fine.  A bit of a gotcha for new or returning players.  I’ve been a little surprised how quiet he has been – keeping to himself as far as EVE is concerned.  I probably sound like a bit of a dick, but I’ve wondered if he is put off by where I sit with in game experience, SP and Wealth.  Until he finished up playing some years ago, he always had an edge on me in SP and wealth.  That is certainly no longer the case.

I had one more EVE session related to the Agency event, but then not bothered to keep at it.  As I said, the rewards are just too underwhelming.  I am still finding Caldari space far less enjoyable to be undocked in.  There is a lot more contesting of sites that, frankly, gets tiresome after a while.

To add some colour to this post – here is a screen capture of me undocked for the Agency event.


The latest in game event has gone live. This one is called The Agency.

The first thing you notice when you log in is that you get an Agency Speed Booster. It is a reward for, well, logging in. It provides a 3% Velocity Modifier for 30 minutes. If you have Biology V, it will last for 60 minutes. You can get one each 23-hours. I assume this is a sort of proof of concept test, or a reminder to people that they should think about boosters, as I don’t see how it would have any real impact on what people do in game or if they log in or not.

The event uses the format I prefer with these sorts of things. You are given a list of optional challenges to do various different things in game. As you complete them you are given points that earn tiered rewards.

The Challenges on initial appearance are similar to the previous ones. Lots of mine related to exploration sites. I guess they might change as the event goes on.

One of my Challenges ended up apparently bugged. I found and ran and completed a Combat Signature Site while flying a Tech III Cruiser, but it was not credited. Given the site did escalate, I ran and completed that, just in case. The Challenge was still not credited. I then waited until downtime, in case they would clear things up, but no.

Interestingly, once you complete a challenge, you have to wait 23 hours for that slot to be available again. If you get a challenge you don’t want, there doesn’t currently appear to be an option to drop or swap them. That might change with time. I don’t know.

The rewards are – putting it mildly, crap. Assuming you log in and earn 50 odd points a day, it will take you a couple days to get a single (3M ISK) PLEX. After four good days of effort you get a single booster (+3% repair rates for 30 minutes). Maybe 6 days to get 4 more PLEX, and finally after 8 days, an ok looking skin for a Tengu. The reality is you probably won’t put that sort of effort in, or will find you are not able to do all the challenges each day. If that happens, the end of the event will come around quickly on you.

Given how generous some recent Events have been, and how poor this one is, I am wondering if this reflects CCP’s mindset. Events that have open sites in space that encourage conflict are liberal with their rewards, Events that can more easily be done ignoring other players, minuscule loot.

The event did have me logged in today longer than I have been in probably months. I setup and flew around an Exploration Legion and an Exploration Gnosis trying to complete some of the challenges, and I happened unexpectedly across a Superior Sleeper Cache which I opened the initial can for and warped into before stopping to do a bit of research on what the hell I had just found, and deciding not to test my Pacifier on it.

I also found how annoyingly easy it is to keep recalling your probes when you actually want to use analyze. Stupid button moving crap.

I expect over the next couple weeks I might have a couple more game sessions targeting some of the challenges, but I won’t be bothering with targeting any of the rewards.

Proof Reading

While I make an effort with my writing here on the blog, I am not a natural wordsmith.

I have a very large document on my PC (290 pages / 72,510 words as of a minute ago) that contains all my blog notes.  There are post ideas, game play notes, rule change notes, and a very large number of draft posts, most of which won’t ever see the light of day.

I will often draft and redraft a post multiple times across a couple of days.  If it reaches a solid enough state I make an effort to finish it off.  When I am finally happy enough with it I will read it out aloud (or more often quietly under my breath) to try and pick up any last mistakes.  I will then cut and paste the entry into WordPress, where I will add any media, ensure the links are configured, and do one more read.  When happy with all that I will hit publish, then immediately read the uploaded post.  After, I remove the post from my document, and finally do one last check read when the post happens into my RSS Reader.

I don’t do this because I love to read what I write.  In part I take care because obvious spelling and grammatical mistakes distract from whatever message you are trying to convey.  In part it is because I take a bit of pride in my work.  In part it relates to those Anxieties I mentioned in my last post, not wanting to embarrass myself too much I guess.

Despite my care, I can not tell you how often I find obvious mistakes after I have published a post!  Tonight one of them was using the term peripherals instead of peripheries in the last post.

Some days however, I will see an obvious mistake after I have published a post and think – fuck it – the mistake stays.

I am not sure how many mistakes will be in this post – it went straight into WordPress.  To amuse myself I won’t correct any after I hit publish.

(Also, I won’t post any more today.. not sure what came over me.)

Never Empty

I am sure I have mentioned before that I have Anxiety. Not the anxiety that almost everyone has – that one that reduces unnecessary death through a healthy level of caution and fear, but the unhealthy Anxiety with a capital A.

It is a condition I am well aware of. I’ve watched its notable impact on my father’s life, am keenly aware of how it influences me, and have had both my children diagnosed with it, one who has already had years of ongoing treatment.

It is not an official term, but I probably most comfortably fit into a category of having High-Functioning Social Anxiety. Being a hermit is a little more than just a choice.

One aspect of my Anxiety is that my mind is always racing. To be honest I thought it was normal, but I remember being quite surprised when I first learnt my wife was able to sit with a completely empty mind and think of nothing. I see from the chatter of some of my “alternative’ Facebook acquaintances that having a truly empty mind is a thing. It sounds relaxing.

The problem with an ever-busy anxious mind is that unchecked it can both get very tiring, and run you off in what can become very unhealthy directions. As such you have to make a point of giving your mind downtime, and trying to moderate what fills it.

EVE has long played a role in being part of my self-medicating tool box for Anxiety. I could get caught up in hauling, or trading goods, or running missions, or mining, or trying out new ship fittings – which required enough effort to push out all other thoughts, while not being particularly taxing of themselves. Sure, you had to be careful to avoid the drama at times and be aware of other players, but it wasn’t that difficult. It is not technically having an empty mind, but it worked as such for me.

I understand and accept my reduced interest in EVE. It is just the reality of unchanged mechanics having a finite lifespan for holding your attention. Almost all of us will have a point where the repetitive stops being comfortable and starts to turn unpleasant. I really can’t complain about how long a run I did get from EVE. I, and my Anxiety, are however missing the EVE downtime.

I haven’t really found its replacement as yet. The closest tends to be watching YouTube clips of people sailing around the world.

While I still wait around in the peripheries for game changes to enthuse me, I wonder if EVE will ever truly provide the same sort of mind downtime as it did in the past. The vibe of the game just seems more hostile. CCP might be pleased to hear this, given their conflict focus, but EVE doesn’t feel as relaxed and distracting as it used to. People seem far more inclined to grief, troll, preach. In the old days, I’d regularly notice chatter in local, most of it pleasant. Now, the rare time I see chatter outside of the trade hubs, it is generally unpleasant.  A consequence maybe of having so many long term players?  Just a reflection of life in general?  Maybe I just need to move further away from Jita.


Maybe more Strategic

The changes to the Strategic Cruisers are interesting.

One of the standard setups I have spent plenty of time on in the past have been probing / cloaking hulls with tackle and an attempt at DPS and Tank. They were geared towards solo day trips through Wormhole Space. I found it took a lot of effort to get past their drawbacks and make these somewhat workable, particularly without spending a lot of ISK on them.

The new subsystems make it far easier to do a Probe / Cloak / Tackle / DPS / EW hunting ship, that appear on paper to be quite workable. Tank can tend to be a problem on some of the hulls, as are slots for weapon upgrades. As CCP’s documentation suggests however, you are meant to overheat to get some of these areas up to par.

The first draft fit across the four racial ships sees the following basic stats, all with Expanded Probe Launcher, Covert Ops Cloak, Boosted AB, tackle and an initial mostly T2 fit:

Loki – 62K EHP (Shield), 619 DPS (Auto Canon / Drones / Light Missile), Sensor Booster
Legion – 53K EHP (Armor), Ancillary Repairer, 434 DPS (Beam), Neut, Sensor Booster
Tengu – 31K EHP (Armor), 382 DPS (Blaster), 3xECM, Sensor Booster
Proteus – 26K EHP (Armor), Repairer, 531 DPS (Drone / Rail)

On paper, they are all better than the old T3 versions. The Loki and Legion in particular stand out as very workable for what I want. I will have to do several more drafts, adding faction gear and looking at replacing the boosted AB with MWD and the Interdiction Nullifier subsystem.  I skipped that on the first draft as it tended to have a very big impact on tank.  My Loki for example went from cap stable / 932ms overheated / 62K EHP; to 6 minutes cap / 1,996ms overheated / 35K EHP.

Nice to have EVE providing some relaxed distraction again – even if it hasn’t been undocked, or even logged in for that matter.