Hooks

I’m now an expert in World of Warships.

I’ve played 25 battles (9 ending in my sinking), with a positive destruction ratio (I sink half as much as my enemies do) and a high team victory rates.  I have millions in credit – which seems to be thrown at you each time you level up, and I had no problem quickly and easily researching the first few ship tiers and their modules.

But of course I am not an expert – and never will be. I just don’t play games that way. No – what Wargaming (the publishers of World of Warships / Tanks / Warplanes) seems to be doing is manipulating my experiences to hook me into the game.

Some steps are obvious – giving you enough cash that you can thoughtlessly buy all the initial upgrades and initial ships as you research them. It ensures the game doesn’t start out feeling like a big grind, even on a non-premium account. From reading other articles, I also expect the game’s match making system might help make you feel like a winner in the very early stages of playing. I know that will change dramatically moving forward.

What does EVE do to hook you in? I’ve played the game for almost 10 years now – and even if I roll up a new Alt I won’t ever have a truly new player experience again. I know new players get more ship hulls and ISK at the start now. I get the gist there is an effort to get people to accede inevitable loss from the start – sort of making you accept feeling like a loser instead of a winner.

The initial fitting options and path in World of Warships is limited, simple, and easy to follow.  There is a learning curve, but it doesn’t feel particularly daunting.  EVE’s initial fitting options is just so much richer, although constrained by the need for knowledge, skill training and ISK. I wouldn’t want to lose that, but it might be useful for early tutorials to step players through the options more.

One random example. Get a new player to fly a frigate with no propulsion module, then an Afterburner, then a Microwarp Drive, to compare the results. Next give them the challenge of getting their frigate to fly above a certain speed. Maybe make it a multiple level mission – start out with a speed they can meet with a MWD, then a higher speed they need upgrade modules for, then a higher speed again they might need to rig for and have certain skills trained.

I also like some of the tool tips in World of Warships.  You can see the impact of an upgraded module or hull just by hovering over them.

It might be my natural level of cynicism, but I know most of the more popular games I’ve played in recent years have very obvious hooks. They entertain you, let you feel like you are progressing, let you win more than lose, show you interesting upgrades, entice you to spend money, and once they have you hooked – they switch to keeping you playing and paying for as long as possible.  It will be interesting to see what CCP do with their new player experience moving forward.

Second Step

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I took my second step in World Of Warships – my first all player battle.  I felt somewhat conspicuous towards the end as the numbers dwindled – assuming people were more than likely spectating on my ship.  (I’m not sure what happens if you quit a battle early – do you get your rewards?  Do you have to wait around for the end as I have been to get them?)  Some reasonable tactical decisions, unusually straight shooting and plenty of luck saw me come out as the last man standing.

That battle was rather exciting – although not with the same PVP shakes I tend to get in EVE.  I think that comes down to feeling like you have more situational awareness and more time to think.  It also doesn’t really cost you anything of note.  I know my underlying goal at this point is just not embarrassing myself.  I don’t say that flippantly, I mean it.  It is the source of much of my anxiety.

I’ll probably talk about the game for a bit – but reflecting on it in comparison to EVE and what I might, or might not learn from it.

First Step

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After months of watching YouTube videos I finally installed World of Warships yesterday.  This was my very first battle with other players (against NPCs).  A good start – but it went comfortable down from there.  (Literally with ships sinking.)  I’ve had 7 matches and only sunk one other ship since.  It has taken a little while to adjust settings to stop some client stuttering and freezes – not that those caused my demises.  The tactics used by the other players are different than the more skilled players I’ve been watching on YouTube.  Most seem to take the most direct routes in a mad bunch and get into manic brawls.  I flank and carefully pick where I will thread through islands – but that means both missing much of the action and running solo into the NPC ships also flanking, which have tended to be much heavier hulls.  If I am not stopped I have managed to do plenty of the capturing.  Most pleasingly I haven’t managed to damage another player yet or run into an Island.  That will come…

Go towards the light

Using the Stratios in Hi-sec is substantially more rewarding financially than the Legion.  Being able to access most of the combat sites makes a big difference.

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In a recent exploration run I picked up 150M ISK in just over 30 minutes across three sites.  While that is unusually good for Hi-Sec, if I was in the Legion (or any other T3) none of it would have been accessible.

Corsair K95 RGB keyboard mini-review

I’ve used a Logitech 710+ keyboard for almost 3 years. It is mechanical with Cherry MX Brown switches and has 6 programmable keys along its left edge, which I used day to day for things such as closing windows or moving forward and backwards between browser tabs, and options such as select all for in EVE. It is probably the longest I have ever used a keyboard, but it was starting to show its age with a glitch here and there and a couple loose keys.

I recently looked around for a replacement, but Logitech did not offer anything exactly the same and neither did the myriad of other brands. I ended up getting a Corsair K95 RGB keyboard – also with Cheery MX Brown switches but with 18 programmable keys along its left edge.

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The K95 is a very solid weighty keyboard which doesn’t flex or readily move in normal use. The lack of flex was its first negative. I use a 15 year old desk with a return. There is a very slight height variation between them – a fraction of a millimeter. I could straddle the Logitech keyboard across this, but the stiffer Corsair rocks slightly when used in the same position.

A little surprisingly, the Corsair keyboard fits within the same footprint of the Logitech, so does not use extra desk space. It fits 2 extra columns of keys into that footprint, which makes it feel a little squishy in comparison to the Logitech. I am still not used to this after two weeks, so my typing accuracy still suffers, and my hands are more likely to ache after a long day of typing.

I do like the design of how the keys sit on the back plate. It makes it much easier to clean away crumbs and what not. Having said that, the matt surface on the keys tends to show up your finger prints more.

The keys themselves are louder and feel heavier than the Logitech, but some of that might just be due to the age of the older keyboard.

While I did not need 18 programmable keys, I figured I would set them up like the old Razer Nostromo Game Pad I still used for Dungeon and Dragons Online. While it certainly works functionally, its smaller size means my hand tends to get cramped and sore after an hour of gaming.

I’ve used programmable keyboards for years now, and am very comfortable with the Logitech, Steelseries and Razor software. While the Corsair Gaming software covers everything I would expect, I have not found it as straight forward to use. It was very odd that there was not a default solid-lighting effect, you had to create one. While I like the option of saving the profiles to the keyboard, the way you do this should be more obvious.  The setup of Macros / Assignments wasn’t as nice.  There were also odd colour assignment issues. If I assigned a colour to the predefined key combinations – All keys, Arrow Keys, G-Keys or WASD, and then assigned the same colour to a single key – it would not appear the same. In the photo above you can see All keys were assigned red. The WASD keys were then assigned the same red colour individually – yet were clearly a different colour.

Now despite this all I don’t regret the purchase. (Probably lucky given its price.) There seemed to be few other options. I also know some of my issues relate to my age and I suspect a level of RSI in my hands from 20 years of excessive technology use. I know some might view the macro keys as a gimmick, but when you get the right combinations setup and the finger memory to use them automatically, they can really work well. I’ve used keys besides each other for such things as All Drones Engage, or All Drones Return to Bay. I might move forward and backwards through targets, or have two keys to resize the Probe Scan Size and Refresh the Probe Scan results. Some would also think the keyboard colour adjustment is even more of a gimmick. Some comes down to appearance – being able to match your mouse and keyboard colours for example, but if set up right, I find it useful to have different layouts for different games, with important keys highlighted in a different colour than the rest of the layout.

So all told, you can configure the keyboard in lots of useful ways, but it requires a bit more effort than it should.

An Oops Side-track

I had an hour spare so I logged into the Stratios. I thought with the end of the Serpentis Event that there would be more Explorers about, but that doesn’t seem to have transpired immediately. I am finding plenty of sites and little competition, so I haven’t roamed far and am still in Everyshore.

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I start out with coming across a Wormhole to Thera, which I think is the second time I have stumbled across one. I also had an Escalation from an Anomaly, which seems to have been very rare of late. After running that I had just selected to warp out to a gate when I realised I had not recalled my 5 T2 Hammerhead drones. I tried to cancel the warp but it was too late, and without a bookmark I could not get back to them in a now despawned site.

I was able to fit an Expanded Probe Launcher on the Legion so could have just scanned the Drones down, but I was only able to fit the Core Probe Launcher on the Stratios. While still sitting on the outbound gate I spent a few minutes looking at EFT and the regional market. 15 minutes, a dozen jumps, 40M ISK and half my offensive modules offline, I was back in the system with a Sisters Expanded Probe Launcher and a couple T2 Scan Rangefinders fitted and was able to scan down and retrieve my 4M ISK of drones.

I figured I would likely forget drones again, so I will carry the extra probe launcher around with me.

Sometimes it is just little things like that which make the game interesting.

Also – I actually have something positive to say about Citadels! There seem to be lots of them around now so other people are obviously embracing them. I’m not sure if I have mentioned it yet, but I am finding the tethering to be very useful. It is common for my Drones to get armor damage. Now all I need to do is warp to the nearest Citadel, have my ship, cap and drones automatically repaired while I am tethered outside, then continue on my way. The only issue I have found so far is the Drone damage bar indications don’t seem to update to show the repair while you are tethered, but it is done.

The Feels

I flew the Legion over to Everyshore and started my exploration roam in Quier. This was simply because it wasn’t an area I was particularly familiar with.

I had several reasonable length sessions doing all Exploration sites, scanning down all signatures, and visiting all named locations as I crisscrossed the constellations.

It gave me a reasonable feel for the hull.

The Legion cost 775M ISK to setup. At this point in my EVE Career I don’t care too much about ISK reward verse risk ratios and what not, I fly things based on fun. It is not however a cheap option for Hi-Sec exploration.

It doesn’t have a great buffer on it – 25K EHP, which could put you at risk of grievers. I did not however really feel uncomfortable flying it.

The hull felt a little slower than what I would have preferred. The 7 second align time meant it just didn’t feel as snappy as you want when visiting large numbers of systems and sites in a session.

Warp speed at 3au is what you expect of a Cruiser, but I’d consider swapping one of the two tracking rigs for a Hyperspatial Velocity rig instead, if the guns still worked ok against the NPCs.

The 740m/s speed under Afterburner also felt a bit too slow when running Data and Relic sites. I’d go for a Mircowarp drive if the fitting options allowed.

It was still all workable to fly around in, but could have done with some tweaking.

The locking speed with a 560mm sensor resolution was ok, but only just. Only being able to lock 5 targets was also a bit of a limitation.

The Focused Medium Beam setup concentrating on tracking didn’t work out quite right in practice. The Legion I fly for Events does not have drones, so the tracking is boosted up to 0.153 to it hits most things, with a webifier to ensure it.  The Exploration hull’s Beams had tracking of 0.067. It was certainly effective enough against anything but Frigates/Drones under 5km – but I had drones of my own for anything too close. Based on my experience with this and other laser hulls, it would have worked out better to go rigs / a setup for longer optimal range (was 13km with multifrequency crystals with a 7.5km fall off) or higher DPS.

Again the setup was workable as is, but could do with adjustment.

The 300m3 cargo space was limiting. I carried two small secure containers, one for loot, one for spares. You had to be selective on what you picked up. Again, it was workable.

It was nice having a tractor beam. It meant you were able to salvage / check out cans as you cleared sites. The 200m3 drone bay also meant you had plenty of choices about what you carried. I had no issue with scanning times, or running the analyzers, or Cap, or tank.

So – again, workable, but with room to tweak.

But – as you can probably tell by my tone, I am not flying the ship any more. The T3 hull simply locks you out of too many combat sites.  (Possibly all of them I would guess, as I did not scan down a normal combat dead space I could access.)

Taking the lessons learnt (and most of the fit) I’ve replaced the Legion with a Stratios.  I will have to see how that pans out.