Zzzzzz

Still in NPC 0.0, still deathly quiet.

To keep myself amused, I put my Alt cloaked in an Arazu on one side of a Gate, and cloaked my main in a Sabre on the other side. The Intel channels were quiet, but I figured you never know your luck.

After a while my two year old ramped up into a major tantrum, and I had to walk away from the computer to help my wife. Returning 15 minutes later I caught sight of a neutral in a Cormorant, just about to jump into the Sabre’s system. I rushed to uncloak the Sabre, warp to the gate, and bubble – but he warped out a millisecond before the bubble went up.

Yep – should have known my luck.

Unlike Sov 0.0 in some regards, you do actually need to maintain a fairly consistent and partially effective presence in your home area in NPC 0.0. It is in this regard that there have been unofficial rumblings and demands from within the Alliance for more pilots to get out of Empire. As I have mentioned, my Corp has a philosophy of RL > EVE, and maximum variety. The Alliance also follows RL > EVE.

So how do you herd your members into a certain area of the game, even though they joined with the assumption there would be no such demands? As you can expect, a number take the age old approach of snide remarks on the killboard, frustrated hissy fits in Alliance Chat, and irritated criticisms posted on the forums.

The management however takes a more reasonable approach. They are advertising the fact they would prefer people to get down there as often as possible, and try to make it as easy, cheap and safe to do so. They offer scouting in, cloning services, cheap transportation of assets and ships, and local fitted ships on Corp and Alliance contracts. Once down there, there are frequently organised camps and roams.

It isn’t a bad sort of approach, and credit to them. It is just a pity that my most active play times – when I don’t have constant real life interruptions, are deathly, deathly quiet here.

Zzzzzz

Invention 10 and back visiting NPC 0.0

 

The price of Phenolic Composites was being manipulated in Amarr, so I flew an extra 20 jump round trip to buy them at more normal rates. From a time perspective I lost money doing this – but I just didn’t feel like feeding their excessive profits.

 

I cooked up the last of the required ingredients for the Buzzard Production, and gathered enough to do my first Crow. These are now in the oven, and should reach the market on Wednesday.

 

After a slight mess up on my skill selection, I still have 3 days to go before I can attempt to invent the Retribution Assault Frigate.

Next on my to-do list is to ensure I have the ingredients required to build some more of those Crows. I am also fast approaching the point where I will have achieved my initial T2 manufacturing goals – so will have to think about what to work towards next.

I am down in NPC 0.0 Space again – at the request of the Corporation.

I don’t find I actually achieve much when I am there – and have felt less inclined to visit than I thought I would.

Certainly the main issue remains the constant interruptions I face from real life when trying to play. I also seem to straddle active time zones, so when I am active not much is going on. But there is a little more to it than that – it just isn’t what I had expected.

I had assumed it would be a little more chaotic, with more opportunities for solo PVP. In our area it is instead relatively stable. Small to medium alliances hold sway over groups of systems, with allies and shared Intel channels. Intermingled across the area is a patchwork of reds. There are just not that many neutrals – and most people moving around solo are scouts or bait for much bigger groups, or of course the obligatory Cyno ships for hot droppers.

There are landscape changes – people come and go. It is just not as sharp and defining as it is in Sov 0.0. If things get too difficult, people just move quietly to some place nicer. There just seems to be less consequence to it all.

Blog Banter 33: “The Capsuleer Experience”

Like mana from Valhalla (yes I know I’m mixing my religious metaphors), the latest Dev Blog by CCP Legion asks questions which make for perfect Blog Bantering. To quote him “…we want to make the first days, weeks and months in EVE enjoyable and not just something ‘you have to plough through in order to get to the good stuff’” and the newly formed Player Experience team will focus on “…where and why people lose interest in EVE…”.

“We invite you to pour your heart (or guts) out and tell us what you think is good or bad with the current new player experience and what you think could be done about the problems.”

 

 

There is no real way for me to answer this properly. I’ve been playing EVE since 2006, and the last time I tried the new player experience was in 2009. Even if I gave it a run through again now, my perceptions would be tainted by the weight of my experience, and a preference towards how I play the game.

So instead I’ll throw out a couple of thoughts and ideas, some based around the various blogs I read, some from my own vague memories. Quite plausibly and embarrassingly – some of these might already be in place.

I think new player retention would be helped if they are given better tools to picture the size and scope of the New Eden environment, and their location within it, an easier way to focus on long term skill plans, and more education and some tweaked partial protection from the griefers and scammers.

Specifically..

. The in game star maps do not do a good enough job of conveying where you are in the universe, or where you can go. Even now I remember feeling somewhat lost when I first started the game. It wasn’t until I first laid eyes on Ombey’s excellent maps that I “got it”. The star maps could be improved, or new players pointed at resources like Dotlan or Ombey.

. In the early days it was easy to lose focus when it came to planning for your character. While the certificate planner goes part of the way, EVE still lacks an EVEMon like skill planner. Once I started using EVEMon my goals in game stretched out much further into the future.

. When I pass through starter systems I am often appalled by the number of griefers hassling the new Players. In many respects there is no skill, challenge or profit to be made from what they are doing. How do you even describe them – without eliciting some bizarre smug smile upon their face? While I don’t really want some artificially protected environment just for new players, there are ways in which CCP might make life a little easier for them –

– Encourage or allow new players to move their tutorial training to quieter systems

– I am not sure if it is possible or not, but it would be nice to see EVE keep track of pilots who kill new players, and have a pop up warning “This character has killed x new players in the last month. Are you sure you want to interact with their can?”

– Much clearer and easier to understand aggression mechanics

– Very cheap discounted insurance in the first month

– I am not sure what warnings are given to new players about scams – but I would like to think they are given the sort of information provided in a post I linked to back in November – http://eveprincessbride.wordpress.com/2011/11/21/walkthroughs-of-some-common-local-channel-scams/

– In the first few weeks or so, give them an automated Price check when they are buying or selling something, a pop up warning such as “This price is 50% higher than the Jita market average, are you sure you want to proceed with the purchase?”

– Within the first month, allow them to do a single skill re-spec – where they can take a skill they trained but now realise wasn’t want they wanted or needed, and reverse it for the SP.

The idea of this hodgepodge of suggestions is for some better education, some automatic warnings for the more silly things they might do, and a slight safety net with cheap insurance and a skill reversal.

The only thing I would say about the idea of new player retention, and it was touched on in one of my recent posts, is that you do not actually want to retain all new players. It is ok to allow a level of natural culling for those who are simply unsuited to the game. It is not for everyone. You just want to try and keep those who could fit in long term, but who fail to get over that very hard initial hurdle of their new player experience.

 

A list of participants (that will be updated by the owner as time permits) can be found here:

http://freebooted.blogspot.com.au/2012/02/blog-banter-33-capsuleer-experience.html

Recent Dev Blogs

Over the last month, CCP has continued their relatively good work. The somewhat confusing EVE Online website has been rebuilt and restructured.

The main portal is now targeted towards new players –

http://www.eveonline.com/

 

It doesn’t quite hit the mark for me, but is certainly a great improvement.

For existing players, we now have a community portal –

http://community.eveonline.com/

 

Again this is easier to navigate than the old – particularly with the useful drop down menu in the top right of the pages.

 

I might have missed it, but I didn’t notice a link to the eveisreal website. I’d have thought they might direct possible new players in that direction, to see what current subscribers are able to create in the game.

There have been a few new Dev Blogs related to the CSM, which I am ignoring somewhat. This election seems a little more heated and personal, and not particularly enjoyable to read about.

 

CCP Diagoras continues providing interesting EVE statistics –

http://community.eveonline.com/devblog.asp?a=blog&nbid=3407

 

There was also a Dev Blog with graphs on the impact of Time Dilation. I have not experienced it myself, but almost everything I have read on it by players has been positive towards it (once they understand and get used to it. The only provisos I have noticed is that off reinforced nodes, the response has been a little less positive.

http://community.eveonline.com/devblog.asp?a=blog&nbid=3412

 

Crucible 1.2 was released with (so far) relatively few complaints. I was somewhat surprised, given it was focused on UI optimisations, an area CCP has messed up plenty of times previously.

http://community.eveonline.com/devblog.asp?a=blog&nbid=3417

The most obvious thing about this update is that the overview font is now smaller. I let out a small cheer when I realised, I reduced the amount of screen real estate it required. I don’t know if it is related, but the Corporate Hanger and Asset windows also seem to be quicker. I hope that is the case.

 

Last of all on this light weight post, I made a small adjustment to how I stack some of my windows after seeing it done on an EVE related Youtube video.

I now anchor the Asset, Corporation, Wallet, Science, Contract etc windows together at the top of the screen, and minimise / restore using the standard double click on the header method.

 

 

This was prompted by how the new neocomm handles minimised windows, which makes it hard to keep track of what windows you have open.

A screen capture from my alt is shown below

 

I used to do that for chat channels, but not for most of the others windows. Not sure why I haven’t done this earlier, it works quite well.

Invention 09

Just a short update. As mentioned, the skill training for my Crow invention completed on the weekend.

I’ve run 21 invention attempts. Based on my skills, an average result would have been 7 or 8 successes, but unfortunately I only had 5.

Initial calculations on build cost and sale prices indicate a profit margin of around 20-25%. That looks ok on paper, but it requires a fair amount of effort to achieve – including some market manipulation to clear away the really cheap stocks up for sale.

I missed one moon related ingredient on my last shopping trip, so the actual manufacturing of my first Buzzard and Crow are on hold, waiting for me to find some free time.  I have about 1 more week or training to go before I can try to invent a Retribution.

Harder to get stuck in the hole than expected

 

So let’s try again. I undock in the Loki and check the local system. There are 6 signatures to scan down, which takes a bit over 15 minutes. It was good practise.

There are 2 Radar, 1 Mag, 1 Grav, 1 Combat and 1 Wormhole. I grab the Retribution to run some of them for the amusement value. I clear one Radar and notice probes on scan. I move to the second Radar site, and half way through have a Heron and a Drake warp in.

I’d have assumed the polite thing would have been for them to warp away since someone had beaten them too it, but instead they start shooting at the rats. I make a point of burning over to the last can and scan / open it before they could approach. I wonder if that is the norm now. When last I was into scanning people would generally not crash the sites you were already in.

I then do the combat site, ignore the Mag (since I didn’t have the appropriate module nearby), and finally grab the Loki and head for the wormhole. A641 – what does that mean? I look it up and find it leads to Hi-Sec… Damn, it just isn’t my day. Oh well, I jump through and start my Journey.

I’m in a backwater in Metropolis. Nice Nebula. There are 5 Sites in this system, 3 to scan down. It takes me 10 minutes as I am distracted by the kids. I find a hidden belt, the wormhole I came though, and a combat site.

I move into the next system and find 9 sites, with only 1 to scan. There are more distractions from the family, but 5 minutes later I have another wormhole. It is labeled K162 – so now I can finally start my journey.

I check local, but there are only two toons, neither with reference to wormholes in their Corp or Alliance Bios. One of them is mining. I jump through and find myself in wormhole space.

There is nothing on scan, so I bookmark the entrance and warp off. A quick check of the POCO in the hole show that 5 are owned by the same Corp. Interestingly enough, one of the pilots I checked in Hi Sec was also in the same Corp. I watch the wormhole bookmark on a 5% d-scan, and sure enough within a couple minutes a broadsword, two hurricanes and a drake show up on it.

It is not a big Corp or Alliance, but 4 or 5 active pilots is too much for the Loki, so I leave them to it and go looking for their POS. It is a big system, and unsurprisingly I find the POS on Moon 4 on the outer most Planet. There are bubbles on scan, so I don’t warp directly to the POS from the planet, or moon 3 or 5. Instead I make a safe between two other moons and try to warp to it out of any celestial alignment. Either I was unlucky, or didn’t get my angles right, because I landed in one of the bubbles. I slow boat out while cloaked, and set up a bookmark 300km off.

The entrance was still being camped, so I dropped probes more than 15AU from the pilots and checked what else was in the system. I had read about scanning a system while keeping your probes out of d-scan range of a location, which seemed to work. (I kept my own d-scan cycling 2AU off the camp, to ensure I couldn’t see my own probes)

There were two unknown sites in the hole, 1 obviously the entrance I came through. I moved the probes carefully around the outskirts of the system, but the second unknown site was within 15AU of the first, so I couldn’t scan for it without alerting the other pilots. I recalled my probes and waited.

Meanwhile the camp kept dropping and gaining one member. I had at first thought they might have been warping around to check for probes in the system, but the more obvious cause was soon apparent – they closed the hole. Then probes were out on scan, followed shortly later by a couple anchored bubbles and the same ships all together on d-scan in a different location. My guess was that they were camping the new entrance.

I was in no rush, so I waited. They were rather persistent, so I assume their scout saw I was in a loki, had added me to their contact list, so knew I had not logged off. Patience would be required.

I logged on my alt and did some industry stuff. I found I had only 1 success from 5 attempts at inventing the crow BPC. Not a good start. I went and had tea. I watched the cricket on TV. Every so often I would hit scan and see them still about. Finally after a couple hours they dropped off scan, and I watched at least 1 log off within their POS shields. I gave it more time, before scanning down the only unknown site, and exiting via a N110 – back to Empire.

I just can’t seem to get lost in wormholes! Now I am out in the Citadel. I moved a few systems and docked up. I’ll go back another day.

It was a learning experience:

. Two out of three wormholes I have found so far had scouts on the Hi-Sec side

. POCO’s are the first thing to check on overview to get an idea of who you might be dealing with

. My probing and D-Scan skills are adequate enough so far

. My reading and research into the mechanics used in wormholes has been worthwhile. I felt I had a reasonable understanding of what was happening around me, and what I should be doing

. You need to be on the ball with managing your bookmarks and contact lists

. Patience will be required

So was this actually fun? Kind of, sort of, partially.

Carebear Hat

I completed my first full PI run in a number of weeks. There hasn’t been much urgency given sales have been almost non-existent for over a month now. I’ve already re-tooled some of my planets for T2 manufacturing ingredients. When I have the inclination I will have to check prices in the trade hubs – I might have to change what I am producing for profit.

I’ve finished the research of my Fuel block BPO’s. I’ve begun the conversion of my POS fuel stockpiles, but need to source some extra Heavy Water and Coolant.

Trading volumes seem very subdued at the moment. This was made worse by new entrants to the 0.01 ISK buy battles in some of the areas I operate. After a couple of weeks however they seem to have moved on. A common occurrence actually – not many preserve with the low volumes.

My training for Caldari Interceptor Invention finally finished yesterday. I’ve put my first half dozen attempts in the lab. I had not realised they would take a day each. I should see the results in a few hours’ time. I am now working on the skills to manufacture the components for those Buzzards. I assume the Crow will require similar extra training to produce.

Even though things are obviously quiet from an Industry point of view, there are still more pilots around my local area than before Crucible. The game itself seems busier,which is good to see.

The Loki Suicide is still on the cards. I made an attempt to get myself lost the other day and undocked the ship. I quickly scanned down a wormhole in my home system and warp cloaked to it at 10km. Unfortunately there was a Cormorant sitting at the entrance. A check of the pilot shows they were from a 400 man Alliance who lives out of a wormhole. Not a great idea to jump through under the eyes of a scout.

I moved to the next system over, but found probes out already. Move to the next system over. No wormholes but a couple of sites which offer the possibility of faction drops and escalations. I swapped into the Retribution and quickly run them, just getting some faction tag and ammo loot.

The business of getting lost is taking it’s time.

Meanwhile a friend who has been unsubscribed for a year has decided to remove their EVE client and stop playing forever more. They basically originally gave up after being suicide ganked – carrying T2 invention supplies on autopilot. They used the free time CCP offered up on occasion, but usually complained about some minor annoyance or another and soon stopped logging in. He was the sort of player who stubbornly wanted to play EVE his way – and had a string of losses on his killboard because of it.

I was thinking a safe Empire might have left him playing for a few more years – but then the reality of that hit me. In such a cocoon, he would generate next to no content or value to the overall game environment. The issue isn’t that EVE needed to be changed to suit him, but that he wasn’t really suited to the game.

I guess unsurprisingly, for someone who was generally focused on themselves in the game, he didn’t think to offer me all his stuff!