Incursion 1.6

Without much notice, CCP announced a 6 hour extended down time tonight for the Incursion 1.6 update.  The patch notes are sparse:

http://www.eveonline.com/updates/patchnotes.asp?patchlogID=227

… but this Dev Blog explains there have been some big changes under the hood, which we will see in affect once Incarna is released:

http://www.eveonline.com/devblog.asp?a=blog&bid=916

So a whole heap of changes to the underlying infrastructure – the one with overview bugs they haven’t been able to rectify for as long as I have played the game.  While CCP seemed to have done a good job of their recent object ID and inventory changes, I think I’ll just go set some very long training skills…

EVE History

Once a day or so I read through Kugutsumen’s EVE forums.

http://www.kugutsumen.com/forum.php

It is full of trolling, propaganda, inflated egos, derision, personal attacks, in jokes, hate, racism, sexism – actually, just about any sort of ‘ism you can think of. If your Mum knew you read such dribble, she would think much less of you.

But in amongst it all are glimpses of the battle reports, politics, internal dramas, and myriad of stories which all come together to become the history of EVE. They are told by the ignorant, those on the peripheral, the lowly grunts, the spies, the fleet commanders, the corporation and alliance leadership, and everyone else in between. You are given an insight into the epic battles, tactical brilliance and folly, the conquests and losses that ebb and flow across EVE. You hear the cheering of victors, and from those who are crushed and humiliated. Like possibly no other source, it gives you a window into what is happening in EVE, and what makes it such a special game.

Dawdling around Empire as I am, you can certainly explore and experience the majority of the mechanics of the game. You can also get involved in many forms of PVP. But you can’t stake a claim to a system which then shows up on sovereignty maps, and you can’t have a system and station taken from you. You generally won’t be involved in battles that involve hundreds of players. You generally don’t take part in what eventually makes EVE history.

Vanity Store

http://www.eveonline.com/devblog.asp?a=blog&bid=913

CCP released a DEV blog to discuss their planned introduction of a Vanity Store.  The suggestion is that you will be able to purchase clothing, ship coloring or logos, and station environment upgrades.  These will cost Aurum points, a new form of currency.  They can be purchased with PLEX, which in turn can be purchased for Cash or ISK.

In other games I have played that offer in game store purchases, the options come down to access to extra content or character options, mounts, guilds, homes, clothing, and boosts to your development speed or loot drops.  Here CCP is limiting it to vanity items – so you should not be able to gain an edge in game play.

Some would ask why bother – but there is obviously a market for such things (given their popularity elsewhere), and I can see how it might help some have a more immersive experience.  Mord had a much better financial reason that he discussed here – http://fiddlersedge.blogspot.com/2011/05/aur-and-super-carrier.html  – which is basically an ISK sink and extra profit for CCP.

Up until this point I thought it was interesting but easily ignored.  Then I read that these items could be traded between players.  Wow.  In other games store items tend to be locked to your character or account, and you often lose them if you upgrade an effected item.  I assume in the long run that forces people to spend more money, but here CCP is in effect allowing people to be wearing second, third, fourth hand clothing etc.

I assume you will buy an upgrade, and the clothing item or furniture for your quarters will be available in every station you dock at.  However – what if you can carry these upgrades in your ships?  I like the idea of such items dropping from wrecks – can you imagine the hodgepodge clothing a pirate might end up wearing in station?  A fallen 0.0 station might end up with contracts for shag pile carpets and Roman furniture at bargain basement prices.

I take a simple view – these changes might increase the number of players and CCP’s profits, which is a good thing to my mind.  Would I purchase vanity items?  That very much comes down to price or function.  If you are running a Corp and want a recruitment office open in a station, sprucing it up might be of value.  If there is a perfect accessory that just polishes off the image you have of your pilot that might be justifiable.  Unless they were brilliant however, I personally doubt I would spend more than the equivalent of $1 – $2 of real currency on an individual item.

PI.08

With the new character (Alt 4) coming up to her 1 month anniversary, I decided to sit down today and ensure she was in a position to start being useful.  She has less than two days to go on her PI training plan – which was basically rank IV across the PI skills and being able to fly and T1 fit a Mammoth.

After a review I added an extra 7 days of training to get Cyno Field Theory III and Cloaking III (two skills which up the value of the character).

I then ensured she had the remaining skill books required to finish off the training, and set up a Mammoth to haul PI material & two Probe Frigates (one as a small cargo shuttle, the other as an emergency Cyno Ship).

At Rank III for Minmatar Frigate and with T2 Cargohold Expanders, her Hauling Probe can carry 598m3.  At Rank IV for Minmatar Industrial and also with T2 Cargohold Expanders, her Mammoth can carry 17,838m3.  Both are rather useful volumes for cheap ships without rigs and low SP requirements.

To keep things simple I am only planning on using her for gathering Processed PI Materials (the first step up from the raw materials you extract).  She will dump these into the PI Hanger, where Alt 2 will be able to grab them for input into the Refined and Specialized Commodity chains.

I then visited the 9 systems within 2 jumps of my home and manually surveyed the 82 planets within.  This seemed like a good idea at the start, but turned into quite a long chore.  Basically all planets of the same type within Empire are not equal, with some containing more sustainable deposits of the rarer materials than others.  With this reconnaissance done I will revisit Alt 2’s installations, and move or fine tune as required.  The last step will be to go back to Alt 4 and ensure I fill in any remaining material gaps.

While not constantly busy on this, Alt 4 was logged in for over 6 hours today as I worked on these tasks.  From an ISK perspective this effort won’t ever really be worthwhile in Empire.  I hope however the skills I hone here will make it easier and quicker to setup worthwhile chains in Low or Null Sec.

Multiple Accounts

I was disturbed to note on the weekend that this site was the WordPress EVE Online Tag featured blog.  I am somewhat embarrassed that my prolific posting caused that, so I will try to cut back.

Work and RL have limited my EVE time for the last few days.  Tonight however I have all three accounts logged in as I try to do some housekeeping.  I seem to find myself with dozens of notes left all over my desk, reminding me to do this, that or the other in game.  Most are inconsequential – but when you are trying to keep on top of 4 active characters, easy to forget.  I had an implant purchased for one character by another, sit forgotten in an Interceptor’s hold for months.  Another character had completed the prerequisites for a dozen different skills which I had neglected to actually buy.  The list goes on and on.  There really can be a lot of preparation required in this game.

It’s odd having all three accounts logged in together.  I used to do it all the time when I was in 0.0 – a Neutral Cyno alt in low sec, a scout on the Cyno beacon in our home systems, and the capital pilot jumping between them.  Moving up and down the empire pipes would usually involve two scouts being deployed.  I’ve even gone to the length of having one toon NPC’ing, another toon watching an in-bound gate, and the last sitting cloaked in a Falcon to provide a get out of Jail free card if called upon.  As I have said before, I tend to go out of my way to avoid nonconsensual PVP.

(I remember once uncloaking in the Falcon and jamming a red who was about to attack a hauler.  He swore at me in local for using EW as it wasn’t real PVP.  He didn’t seem to notice the irony in his own actions – which was to attack an Iteron V with a Vagabond.)

As useful as it is, it can take a bit to get used to running multiple accounts.  I had lots of near misses or oops moments where I lost track of which system I was in or what account I was using.  There were lots of ships left unattended on gates for minutes at a time, or even a hauler left on Autopilot through several 0.0 systems when I had mistakenly thought he had reached empire already.  Less dangerous were when you forgot to log off your Neutral Alt, and inadvertently caused all sorts of reports in the Intel Channels.

In one hostile system I had a red Titan try to DD an alt assuming they were sitting cloaked on the gate (back when it was an area effect).  I only realised this when I returned to the screen hours later and found a trail of agro in local from the red covert ops pilot who was inadvertently caught up in the DD fishing net.  What the Titan Pilot did not realise was that I never park an alt AFK on the same grid as anything NPC rats visit.  I don’t know if it still happens – but I found on rare but multiple occasions rat’s would slowly and unerringly cover hundreds of kilometers towards cloaked scouts on gates or within exploration sites.

I am reminded as I reminisce that for all its annoyances, instability, and problems, the stories you remember the most in game tend to happen in 0.0, and not in Empire.

Moving Along

I must say the BPO and BPC icon changes with Incursion 1.5 have been excellent – within a couple minutes I found 2 BPO in my BPC containers and 1 BPC in my BPO collection.

Account 1 – the Capital training on my Main is moving along well.  He can now use Capital Remote Armor Repair and Shield Transfer modules, and is working on the Cap Transfer one now.  While the skill levels are mostly at rank II or III, he can now cover off the standard sort of fits for the Amarr and Caldari Capitals.  In about a fortnight I am considering kicking off Minmatar or Gallente BS V.

Account 2 – I had only 5 days of training left planned on my Main Alt – he was just polishing off his mining and ice harvesting skills to compliment his new Exhumer skills.  I’ve added Gas Cloud Harvesting and being able to fit T2 crystals for all the Empire Ores now, stretching out his queue to 23 days.

Account 3 – Training of my new PI alt is progressing well.  Her skill plan is down to 9 days, with just 2 left for PI skills and then a smattering of ship skills to allow her to appropriately fit a Mammoth.  She doesn’t have any active planet installations yet – I will probably start that once her last PI skill finishes to rank IV.  When that is done I am contemplating switching over to training my Industry Alt to fly the Orca.  After all this effort I might consider one little solo mining op with two Hulks and an Orca.  Yep.. just the one.

In the coming weeks I plan on reviewing the impacts of the agent changes – and will likely move my mission bases (and all their ships and fittings) to closer locations.  I will probably keep working on improving my Minmatar standings by following suggestions in a forum thread which including taking their tutorial missions.  I also need to start clearing out my “To Sell” station container, which is where I dump mission loot and spare equipment destined for the market.  I don’t think I’ve cleared it in over a year.

Blood-Stained Stars 04

I finished up the Blood-Stained Stars EPIC arc.  Final rewards totaled 17.8 M ISK (12.4M mission rewards and 5.4M salvage, loot and bounties.)

The final chain of missions was more of the same – lots of moving around systems and some slightly add conversations.

Nearing the end I had a 20 jump diversion to run a Storyline mission for the Sisters of EVE Faction – so it is nice to see the jobs you do for each agent add towards the faction mission count.

Mission 48 was an interesting reminder not to get over confident.  The NPC target was in a Battlecruiser – so I just zoomed out on the overview, set an orbit and started shooting once I got within range.  I was not paying close attention however and suddenly my speed dropped to nothing, my shields disappeared, my cap disappeared and my modules started shutting down.  I had a momentary thought of “oh crap, I am going to have to blog about losing an Assault Frigate in a level 1 mission”.  Turns out I had got caught up inside a structure and the NPC was using neuts.  I extracted myself from that little mess and decided I should pay closer attention for the remainder of the missions.

There were two aspects of note during the final couple missions – the first was that your final target is rather well tanked.  It was taking me so long to wear him down in the Retribution that I resorted to overheating my guns to push things along quicker.  The second aspect is that you have to decide which of the four factions you want to support you in the final mission, which in turn influences what faction standings you earn at the end of the Arc.

I picked Minmatar, since I need to work on getting that out of the negatives.  Normally when you run a Storyline mission for one faction it influences your standings with the others.  An unrealistic example – if you do an Amarr Storyline mission your standings might be adjusted as so:

Amarr +2
Caldari +0.5
Galantee -0.5
Minmatar -1.0

Obviously if you only run missions for one faction, you can find yourself with a large negative standing for another and can be excluded from their space if things get too bad.

The Arc faction standing change however did not follow that sort of pattern.  I got a worthwhile boost to my Minmatar standing, but basically tiny and inconsequential changes to the rest of the factions.  It was almost a “free” standings boost, without the usual negative consequences.

I found the end of the Arc was a bit of an anticlimax to be honest – while the ISK rewards seem well balanced, especially for a new player, it would have been nice to see some drops from the end NPC’s that were at least interesting, an unusual trade good, a next to useless and cheap faction module, or something like that.  The faction standing change however – by itself, made the whole process well worthwhile.