What you can Afford

I am still plugging away slowly on my EveHermit Alt. I finished the New Player Experience, did the Career Agents, and am currently in the process of selling up and moving to a new area.

Overall this process is much better than it used to be, and you seem to come out of it with enough wealth to get properly started. It is however still nowhere near as complete and polished as it should be. I hit plenty of little roadblocks and confusing areas which I expect would frustrate new players and possibly put them off the game.

It has been refreshing to deal with the confines of low skill points and an empty wallet. I’ve enjoyed setting up ships with lots of meta 1 to 4 modules and having to make decisions based on price. Similarly, I’ve found it interesting to be exposed again to the chatter in Starter systems and NPC Corp. There is a wide spectrum of ignorance to be found – from the obnoxious to the earnest. There is lots of bravado and crap spoken, intermixed with the genuinely helpful. I even learnt something new about the game the other day that I had never come across before – although for the life of me, I now can’t remember what the hell it was.

I have however found myself viewing the Griefers and Gankers differently who make a point of feeding on the tears of the littlest of fish. My main character can afford to play the game with them. I can afford the losses if I ignore them. I can afford to buy whatever ship and fitting I want to lower the risk they pose. I can afford to skip over just what their behaviour represents in real life. It is much harder to do that when each barely fit ship you fly represents a large proportion of your in-game wealth.

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At the end of last year I applied a PLEX against my unsubscribed Alt account, to allow me to respond to the War Dec which ended up not requiring a response.

Aside throwing some Omega skills into the training queue, I effectively ignored the account for the rest of the month. I assumed after 30 days it would switch back to an Alpha state again.

Half way through February EVEMon started to warn me that I had less than one day training on that Alt account. It appeared that Transport Ship V had continued to train for a dozen odd days after my PLEX had expired.

I logged into the account – was told it was now in an Alpha Clone state, and the last 12 hours of Transport Ship V stopped.

I did a quick search on Google but didn’t find anything conclusive.

I then logged a bug report – but CCP’s response was to close the ticket without comment.

Free SP for me I guess.

The new and not so shiny

As luck would have it, my twelve month subscription on my main EVE account had almost expired. I grabbed another 12 months and was able to pick up the bonus 120 days of multiple character training that CCP is currently offering.

I’ve mentioned before – but I have previously had an unskilled Alt called EveHermit. I didn’t use the pilot, but it stopped anyone else impersonating me and gave me options if I wanted too. I unfortunately had to delete the Alt during a process of consolidating accounts, needing its slot to allow the transfer of other Alts.

As luck would have it, no one else had grabbed the free name. (I say that tongue in cheek.) After sculpturing a look and setting up version two of EveHermit, I was thrown into the new, New Player experience. This should be interesting.

I dutifully followed the instructions on looking at different objects, zooming in and out, and covering basic movement.

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Very early on during the process I was asked to loot a wreck. I was then asked to close the inventory window. I did – but it wasn’t acknowledged by Aura. I assume this was because I had already opened the inventory window before looting the wreck. I opened and closed the window a number of times but I couldn’t move forward with the tutorial.

I logged out of the game and restarted.

My starter Corvette dropped out of its emergency warp back into the site, and I was back at the start of the New Player Experience.

I started through the first steps again but then there was a loud bang and the entire site despawned.

Scratching my head I then noticed the Operations Info Panel now gave me an option to warp to another location, which I did.

I dropped out of warp into a new instant of the site – once again back at the start of the New Player Experience.

This was getting a little tiresome.

I started the process again and a few steps in, BOOM. The site despawned again. What the?

I was again given the option to warp to the third instance of the site, once again with the new player experience back at the start.

I went through the process again – thankfully without explosions, but once against got stuck with the game not accepting I had closed the inventory window. This time I had not opened it in advance. In fact, I was careful to do nothing but exactly what I was told to by the client.

Scratching my head again and thinking what the hell – the only thing I could think of was that I had moved the Inventory icon onto the Neocom, and was using that to open the Inventory Window. What would happen if I opened the Inventory Window via the Neocom menu instead? When I subsequently closed the Inventory window Aura acknowledged the task as complete and I was finally able to move on.

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I’ll have more thoughts on this later when / if I manage to finish the process.

WoWS – I finally reached mediocrity

It took almost 700 battles, but I have finally wrestled myself into the mediocrity of a 50% battle win rate in World of Warships. This was after languishing around 47% from battle 100 to 600.

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There are excuses outside of just being a poor player, particularly in my preference towards using Cruisers. In reality however I was just not playing the game in an optimal way. Like Homer or Bart Simpson, I would repeat my failing tactics over and over. Not because I couldn’t see there were better ways, but because those better ways lead to a less satisfying game.

I didn’t relent and play differently, instead Wargaming changed the rules. They added some skills, tweaked some ship attributes, and I was able to mitigate some of the punishment from pushing forward earlier in the game. Instead of dying soon after first being detected, I now often get the chance to push, retreat, adjusting and push forward again a number of times over. That means I am more often a positive contributor to my team, and that seems to help with the average win rate.

Yes – I am cheering 50%.

BB79 – Go long

BB78Should CCP put effort in to reward long term loyal customers? Is this lack of gratitude towards loyal customers alienating? Do people wish for a change here? Is it too self-righteous to expect small signs of gratitude for being a loyal customer? Or is it just a case of there is no need and HTFU snowflake?

For quite a while l liked the idea of some special memento or similar to acknowledge in game the number of years someone has been playing EVE.

Nothing that can be monetarised. A POD or ship skin that is automatically injected, or medals you can choose to show or not, maybe access to some unique station without services or an unusual system that has no resources you can take. Some sort of official acknowledgement of the longevity with a cool novelty factor but otherwise no impact on the game.

When I first heard such suggestions it seemed to be readily supported. With time however now I hear just as many dissenters. It wouldn’t be fair on younger players, or new players; old players already have too many toys, we would need to ensure it only went to active players not just those who pay their subscriptions, and so on.

I must have missed the in-game release of the new Super Capital “EVE is Fair”.

Just make it very simple – add up the time an account is active (either paid or through PLEX), and when they reach milestone years give some sort of token to the highest SP character on the account. It doesn’t matter if they spent the entire time AFK, or constantly generated in game content, they have been around and financially contributing to the running of the game. Let them feel like a special little snowflake for a few minutes. Let them stop and reflect on how many years they have wasted.

Do I think this is really necessary?  No.  Do I think it might encourage people to stay subscribed for longer?  I doubt it.  Then why?  It is one more little bit of cool or interest added to the game, which some players will get a kick out of and enjoy.

Other Blog Banter posts on this topic can be found here.

WoWS – Flaming Ship

World of Warships regularly has time limited goal orientated tasks, under the guise of Events, Challengers, Combat Missions, Campaigns, Ranked Battles and what not.

For the first 600 odd of my battles in the game, I’ve almost totally ignored them. I play World of Warships in a very casual manner, without knowing when I might have free time, how long it might last, or if I will be interrupted or not. Time limited grinds don’t really fit into that.

With the continued positive impact on my battle experience from the Priority Target skill, I decided I would try to complete the Lunar New Year Marathon, which required you to earn 20,000 raw experience in Tier V or above ships for each of the Japanese, USA, German and Russian Navies.

This process helped trigger my move to multiple Tier VI ships, which for the most part have been better to play than their Tier V counterparts. I picked up the Fubuki, Aoba, Farragut, Cleveland, Budyonny, Nurnberg and Bayern in recent weeks.

I found it reasonably easy to grind the XP for the Russian and German lines. I like their guns and last stand torpedoes, and generally contribute in most battles. The US line took a little longer, but was helped a lot when I picked up the Cleveland. The Japan line however was a hard slog. I struggle doing much DPS with the Furutaka and Aoba in particular. I got over the line in the end when I picked up the Tier VI destroyer Fubuki. A nice mix of gun DPS and reasonable Torpedoes that suit my play style.

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The end result was getting this colorful ship in my port:

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Apparently in battle it just looks like its donor ship to all the other players – only you get to enjoy the flashy paint job. It is also in its own special navy type so you can’t use it to train up captains. It is however the first special ship I have picked up by myself in the game.

In the meantime, I have also been paying attention to the various combat missions and Campaigns running, working through those too.

I’ve had 100 battles now paying more attention to these little quests, and I’ve found it adds a positive element to the game.

I have always said about EVE that – if you don’t have a social impetus to log in, that you really need to ensure you have goals set for yourself. I’ve been struggling for quite a while now to find goals that I am really interested in. The smaller type quests that World of Warship provides work well. I know EVE has the Guardian’s Gala event coming soon. This type of thing was a step in the right direction, but from what has been said it seems to be more of the same of what we have already experienced. I’d like to see more simple and short goal options set by CCP, to help prod the casual player to log in more.

WoWS – Avoiding being a Priority

I fell out of the habit of playing World of Warships.

I prefer sailing Cruisers, but once I hit Tier 5 I found them especially frustrating. I’ve already remarked on how I had changed my style of play. I couldn’t be too aggressive as I died too quickly, I couldn’t be too defensive as while I might live longer, I would not do enough damage to have an impact on the game. I got better at using islands for cover, maneuvering to make myself harder to hit, angling my ship against incoming fire, thinking where my route through the islands would leave me positioned many turns ahead, being very mindful of the alignment of my guns and so on. I tried to remember the basic strength and weaknesses of the ships I was opposed to, I looked at the alignment of their guns through binoculars, I tried to logically think ahead about their likely course and behaviour. I watched YouTube video after video, and captained Battleships against Cruisers to better understand what tactics worked and what did not, and made a real effort to improve my play.

The outcome was failure.

Any time I made the slightest of mistakes I always seemed to be punished severely for it. Two Battleship volleys was all it took to take me out of the game. Bang, 100 to 50% health, bang, 50 to 0% health. Multiple times I’ve been sunk on the very first volley of the match – despite taking evasive action the moment I was detected. I would have had to move directly into the path of initially errant shots.

Maybe it was because I always seemed to be bottom tier in my matches? Maybe I needed to push through to higher tier Cruisers? I looked at the stats of Tier 6 and 7 ships and they didn’t actually look that much better. Sometimes on paper they looked worse. (Subsequently I’ve realised the upgrade slots is what lets them shine.)

Maybe it was because I did not have any maximised Captains? Maybe some of those top tier skills make all the difference?

Maybe it is because I don’t use any mods?

This is not just a short run of bad luck – I’ve been playing for 5 months, and over 300 of my 600 matches have been in Cruisers. I had to put up my hand and admit – with embarrassment, that despite my efforts I was frankly just no good at the game. It wasn’t a deliberate decision to stop playing, but I had.

I logged back into the game when update 0.6.0 was released, some 11 days ago.  I still had premium time on the account so I thought I would have a look around.  There has been a lot of displeasure about some aspects of this update, but without a deep investment in the game none of it really worried me.

After updating Captain Skills, I grabbed a few cruisers and took them out for a spin.

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Obviously, I have taken this screen capture at a nice point in time and I expect things to return to their normal pair shape, but I’ve had 80+ matches since the update and it has been like a different game for me.

In reality, there is often only one person, or a small division of 2 or 3 people who actually decide each match and carry the rest of their team. I am not that person. I see them at the top of the result boards on each win. Since this last update however I have been close to the top of the results board, behind those people who carry the game, providing a useful contribution. When that person is not in my team and we lose, then I am finding myself in the top couple of the losers. I am not skilled enough to carry the team, but usually get something out of the game.

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There have been a couple mechanical reasons for the change.

Because of my Graphic Card upgrade I am now playing the game in full window mode at 3832×2085. There are aspects of the UI I wish I could upscale, but the full screen view seems to help with immersion, improving my situational awareness and allowed an extra level of finesse to my control inputs.

I have also moved away from firing by math (where you mentally calculate the lead based on time to target, estimated speed, direction of travel and what not), and moved back more to firing by feel. “That feels about right”. It is easier to do this with Cruisers as you can fire single spotting rounds, then walk the main salvo in on the target. Once zeroed in like that, you tend to be able to constantly rain shells down on them without over thinking.

Both these have made a difference. The biggest impact by far however has been the one point “Priority Target” skill.

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I have found it invaluable in a Destroyer or Cruiser. In the past evasive manoeuvring started as soon as you were detected, then ramped up when you saw shells coming your way. Such manoeuvring slows you down, throws your guns off the optimal bearings, takes you off your planned route, and often delays your arrival behind cover.

Now if you are spotted but no one is aiming at you, you can continue (torpedo awareness aside) towards your waypoint. If you know that one opponent aiming at you is that Battleship, you have 20+ seconds between each salvo were evasion doesn’t have to be your highest priority. If you have only one opponent aiming and you know it must be a Destroyer, you can respond differently than if you have Five opponents aiming at you. I still get one shot of the map at times, but I have found it far easier to place my ship more optimally, am staying alive longer on average, and having more of an impact on the game.

It is not perfect. I’ve already noticed that people can salvo you without the target indicator showing. I expect from the map that they were tracking another target in the same direction and switched over to me without specifically keying the UI to update. Once they fire however the indicator tends to come on soon after.

I expect this short flurry of win’s will die away as others work out the best offensive and defensive use of Targeting Priority, but in the meanwhile I’ve felt unusually almost competent, which has made the game much more enjoyable.