Ghost fit and Skill Screens

The latest o7 show was released on last weekend.

If you want to go straight to the demonstrated in-game client changes, jump to 28 minutes 35 seconds for the new Ghost Fitting interface, and 39 minutes 15 seconds for the updated character sheet – how the skill variations for different clone types will be shown, and the merging of the skill queue with the skill information sheet.  Also of note were the positive comments from the CSM in regards the New Player Changes coming, although nothing specifically was shown.

(I know how to link to specific times in a YouTube video, but WordPress automatically converts them into preview / player mode which looks a bit silly with several links to the same video.  I’ll look through the options to see if I can stop that some other day.)

Unhappy

When I first started out in the online world some 25 years ago, it was with dial up bulletin board systems. By today’s standards they were archaic – 2 or 3 dial up lines, 50 to 100 regular users, maybe some simple online games, file downloads, chat boards and news feeds, all wrapped up in an artistically challenged ASCII interface.

Smarter people than I saw them as the vanguard of something much bigger, what would become the ever evolving Internet. They could see the disruption across commercial, social, political and illegal spectrums. I on the other side saw them as a great way to improve on who I was – learn new things and ideas, become less prejudiced, refine and improve on my knowledge and opinions. It was a hermit’s version of travelling the world without having to leave your house.

The harbinger of my online writing – my blogging here, were long debates written on BBS forums. I shudder to think at the number of words I’ve written down over the years. New and age old topics, current events and history, anything and everything you could think of and more you couldn’t have. I would just as often play devil’s advocate on a topic – not to be argumentative, but to challenge my own views and writing skills.

I remember one particular person I spared with often over many topics. In hindsight he would have had Oppositional Defiant Disorder and / or have been on the Autism Spectrum. He was clearly unhinged. You could however – with appropriate dexterity, reason with him. In fact – you could reason with just about every person you debated with. It was ok to agree to disagree, you would still come away with a better understanding of the opposite view, it was ok to change your mind or adjust your view in part, or have your view cemented even stronger.

I became a better person for those years.

On Facebook I have a very diverse array of connections. Family, friends, colleagues and acquaintances, smart and not so smart, wealthy and poor, young and old, wise and foolish, politically far left and far right, from yoga masters, teachers, company directors, spinsters, bachelors, married and polyamorous, religious and atheist, gay, straight, various different skin colours and so on. My news feed should be a melting pot of different opinions and ideas and experiences which I should be able to learn and grow from. Except it is not.

Almost everyone surrounds themselves with people having similar views and go to town on supporting and reinforcing each other, while hating on anyone who disagrees. In fact, over the years they are getting more and more hostile at people who are not just changing their minds to agree with them. There is no focus on becoming a better or more knowledgeable person, instead it is sprint to becoming more insular.

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Every couple of weeks, maybe nostalgic for the good old days, I will pick one out of the hundreds of blatantly toxic memes I see, and call the poster out on it. I’ll check the facts, or ask if they really think the message is right or appropriate. They will either attack me for questioning their opinion, or admit it isn’t important that it is factually wrong, because in the greater scheme it supports their view, which is correct.

I called out one particular meme on the weekend as blatantly rewriting a historical event to support a view – and asked why lie when there are more current and appropriate examples which would have done a much better job. One of the posters friends took umbrage to my opinion, and said because I was a White Male Christian I lived a life of privilege, so my opinion would be disregarded. I pointed out that I was not a Christian, and what did that colour of my skin and sex have to do with the validity of accepting demonstrable lies. Her response was that she was entitled to her opinion.  (Where as I was not.)

In context she was sexist, a racist complaining about racism, an anti-Christian complaining about Islamophobia. She was completely oblivious to the fact and irony that she was a closed minded bigot – exactly what she thought she was championing against. She had a number of people click like on her comments, supporting her.

This is now the norm. I rarely seem valuable debate any more online. You have people demanding tolerance with intolerance, education with ignorance, peace with hostility. Something seems seriously wrong with the society around me.

Over the last year there has been a real hostility across the EVE related media I follow – large echo chambers, vile attacks on others, a failure to listen to or consider other people’s views. It has died down a bit of late, but that seems more a result of less people bothering to offer up a dissenting opinion than any healing or resolution. I went to remark on it multiple times, but never finished a post.

I don’t really think it is an EVE problem. The western, democratic, capitalist society I am familiar with seems really unhappy within itself at the moment.

A higher wall with holes in it

I’m starting to hit the Tier 5 hulls in World of Warships, which has coincided with a string of consistent and often one-sided battle losses. I remarked that the step from Tier 3 to 4 took quite an adjustment, but here the change has been even more dramatic.

To start with I am finding myself on new and unfamiliar maps, which puts me at a distinct disadvantage. I am also finding myself bottom tier in matches with tier 6 and 7 ships, which completely outrange, outgun, and out skill me.

The tactics have also changed – I’ve had matches where everyone just dives for the nearest favourite island and sits behind it sniping. My more aggressive way of playing is often severely punished in such matches. Even when I am playing at my very best, I struggle to get into range of the opponents, to hit them when I do, or to make any sort of difference to capturing.

It would be a very demoralizing brick wall to run into – if not for the holes. These are the Tier 4 to 5 matches you thankfully still get, which provide you the wins, experience, and frankly the fun required to move forward with the game.

The chatter has ramped up a bit more in the higher tier matches – or should I say, the complainers. So far I find around 5% of players say something productive or nice, 10% are immature wankers, and the 85% remaining don’t say a word.

In the 260 PVP battles I’ve played, I’ve typed in chat three times. I said “Stick together” – on a 2v2 match I had, “No” in response to if I was detected, and “Sorry for that” when I almost torpedoed a team mate. (Although in my defence, his ship was 18 knots faster than mine so he had closed quicker than I had anticipated).

I am still unsure on the longevity in the game. As I step up through each Tier I can’t say the game suddenly gets more fun. I can see from the experience needed to buy higher level upgrades and ship hulls that there will be a real grind required. It is at least giving me a distraction while waiting to see where EVE is going.

225 and big but soon to be forgotten moments

I’m up over 225 World of Warships battles now. I have come to the conclusion that so far I am relatively mediocre at it. The statistics in asia.warships.today agree with me, along with my win rate that is languishing at around 47%.

Failure can however be a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you find yourself doing well in a ship and positively contributing towards the team you tend to win more, giving you more experience points. This means you progress faster through all the upgrades and into the next ship tier. If you don’t do well in a ship and don’t contribute as much to the team, then you tend to lose more. That gives you much lower experience points, which means you have to do more battles in those poor performing ships to reach the next tier.

For example, it took 16 matches for me to research all the upgrades and the next ship in line with the Russian Tier 4 Cruiser Svietlana. I had a 62% win-rate with that ship, doing on average 22,180 points of damage and surviving 31% of the time. It took me 27 matches to fully research and move on from the US Tier 4 Cruiser Phoenix, with only a 32% win-rate, doing on average 16,436 points of damage and surviving only 21% of the time.

In my defence, 65% of my battles so far have been with Cruisers, which I have found in the lower tiers sit uneasy and less effectively between Battleships and Destroyers. I also tend to play – surprisingly, a bit more aggressively. I don’t just sit behind Islands or at the back of the map – I am always looking for ways forward, which means I tend to die earlier than more cautious players. Last of all I am playing a lot of different ships – instead of just focusing on one branch and one style of play.

I can see improvements in my game. I am getting much better at moving in and around islands to my benefit, the amount of damage I do on average is continuing to increase, and I am contributing in ways the game currently doesn’t always reward you for, such as deliberately positioning yourself to spot the enemy ships, or sacrificing yourself for the greater good – like holding off the enemy from an otherwise undefended base, giving time for others to get back in range.

I still do not however particularly feel like I am a master of my own destiny in the game. While my skill level obviously needs to improve, I can’t help but feel my results are just as much the result of the vagaries of the random battle match ups.  Take the Phoenix for example. Because it is quick you tend to run into the enemy vanguard first. In some battles I can throw the ship around like a Destroyer – twist and turn and circle and duck and weave until I break the enemies focused fire and, still reasonably healthy, can reposition myself to move forward again. In other battles however everyone is painfully accurate and I die within seconds of first being detected under withering fire.  I can not overstate the huge differences between the accuracy of the players you come up against.  One match you can avoid the raining shells of half a dozen opponents in open water, the next a Battleship on the opposite side of the map can two or three salvo you off the field as you deliberately twist and turn and try to avoid him in amongst islands.  Even my own accuracy seems to change dramatically between matches – in one I don’t seem to be able to miss, the very next match, same ship, same type of scenarios, I don’t seem to be able to hit the side of a barn.

I am however having great moments in World of Warships.

I recently had a battle in the Tier 4 Russian Cruiser Svietlana that stood out for me. It was in standard mode on the Big Race map. I started out in the south east heading north. I was joined by two other Cruisers and two Battleships. The enemy flotilla we ran into heading in the opposing direction consisted of two Cruisers and two Battleships.

One of the enemy Cruisers overextended himself – I expect in order to fire Torpedoes, allowing us all to focus fire on him. Their second Cruiser was overly cautious and broke contact and circled back too soon. This allowed us to dispatch the first ship without loss. As we rounded the north east of the map there was an old fashioned brawl which saw the remaining enemy Cruiser and two Battleships sunk, with the loss of our two other Cruisers. During this battle I had to dodge the attack of two flights of Torpedo bombers.

At this point we had glimpses of one of the enemy Carriers, so a race began with myself and the two Battleships trying to get to it before the main enemy fleet (we could see on the mini map) returned to save it.

While the Svietlana is not a particularly fast Cruiser, I was out in front spotting for the two slower Battleships behind me. A Tier 5 Japanese Furutaka Cruiser popped out from between some islands, but soon dove back into cover under our combined fire. I then again had to dodge the attacks of a couple flights of Torpedo bombers.

As I straighten out towards the last known position of the Carrier I noticed a blip of an enemy Destroyer on the mini-map, detected by a flight of fighters sent from one of our Carriers. He had literally 1 hit point left, and was making his way in the opposite direction to us at the extreme of my main gun range. It took a while for my guns to swing around in the right direction, by which time he was no longer visible again. I had been tracking his position in my mind and fired off one salvo, quickly moving my guns back towards where I knew the Furutaka would be waiting. As luck would have it a shell landed and I had a lucky Destroyer kill.

I had just got the enemy Carrier spotted when I came into view of the Furutaka again. While the Battleships went for the Carrier I was left with the enemy Cruiser, his torpedoes and another two flights of Torpedo bombers. While the cruiser was a tier higher and I had taken one Torpedo, he managed to ground himself and was outgunned. He was down to 86 hit points with my last Salvo about to land when the kill was taken by another person on my team, pushing up from the south.

I swung around to the carrier but it was dispatched as my guns came to bear. At this point the second carrier came into view – on the opposite side of the now arriving enemy fleet. I had the choice to turn and run, or to keep the carrier spotted for our encroaching and numerically superior fleet. I decided to fight it out – and was rewarded by spotting a very low health enemy Cruiser trying to escape. I fired one Salvo before having to take evasive action as an enemy Battleship rounded an island right in front of me. I frantically fired off Torpedoes and guns into the side of the Battleship under the crescendo of critical damage and fire messages and the noise of secondary battery fire. I just had time to register my second kill pop up – meaning my salvo on the Cruiser had been effective, before my Torpedoes stuck. In the space of seconds, I took the Battleship from three quarters health to almost zero. Just as I was about to fire one last salvo to claim the kill someone else on my team landed a hit and took the prize.

With only a sliver of health left and under the focused fire of the remaining enemy I literally fired a salvo off at the first ship my guns swung across before being sunk. As I sat there watching the battle finishing I suddenly had my third kill. My last salvo had started a fire on a ship, which had then been taken down to low health by a Battleship, with my burning fire then doing the last few points of damage. I had deserved three kills for that battle – just none of the ones I ended up with.

The nature of the game however is you tend to forget all these sorts of battles.  They just blur into one and another after a short period of time.

I see white ships

I am not particularly enamored by the Purity of the Throne event sites. They are obviously popular – more than 80% I warp in to are already being run. That means however I am flying through 8 to 10 Hi-Sec systems for each empty site. Given there is nothing particularly special about them I ended up using the market to sell and buy until I had collected the 9 skins I was interested in, still coming out with a profit. That moved me from 8 to 17 permanent skins applied – only a small fraction of skins available. I hadn’t realised I was being so discerning about my use of skins.

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I am going to have to pay more attention though – I am going to lose an expensive ship one day to forgetting to turn on my repairers when moving through systems hunting for event sites.

I was worried to see that the EVE Fitting Tool (EFT) hasn’t been updated in four months now. Gripen has been slow to push out releases before, but it is a reminder about the risk CCP takes leaving necessary core game functionality to third party developers. I know they are meant to be working on an in-client version of EFT, but the skeptic in me thinks it might be like their in-client version of DOTLAN EVE maps.

I’ve now downloaded the latest version of the Python Fitting Assistant (Pyfa). I have never been entirely sold on Pyfa, but credit due for the continued and active updating.

10 years and 1 day

While I have mentioned it a number of times over the last few months and it has been at the back of my mind, I managed to forget that yesterday was my 10-year EVE Anniversary. I don’t think I even logged in.

It must have been a good few months for EVE around a decade ago – a number of Bloggers I follow have also recently hit the 10-year mark.

I find it extraordinary to think a computer game has managed to hold my interest for such a long time. Up until the last few months I have played fairly consistently. I guess that is the power of a good MMO – above and beyond what most PC, Console or Mobile games are able to achieve.

Looking at the API information on my Main Account, it has logged in 6,414 times for 8,849 hours. That equates to 1.75 logins and 2.4 hours of play per day across a decade.

That is noteworthy even without considering that I’ve had up to three Alt accounts active. My main Alt Account for example has been logged in 3,362 times for 2,414 hours. Even assuming the majority would have been concurrent with my main, it paints the picture of a considerable time investment put into playing EVE.

On top of that would have been a substantial number of hours spent reading, writing, listening and watching EVE related media across all the different sorts of online platforms you find it upon. That would add up to a, well – shocking amount of time.

What the hell have I been doing? What might I have achieved in life if I had not invested so much in an imaginary world? Remind me never to mention these statistics to my wife – I am sure there would be grounds for a divorce in amongst them.

EVE has given me three things. First is entertainment – a distraction and downtime from the stresses of life. The second has been – even as a solo focused player, a community. A common shared interest with thousands and thousands of other people. The last is a little more difficult to explain – it has given me a platform to learn more about myself and people in general. That probably comes across as too cerebral, but as I have written about on this blog, there are many interesting aspects to how we interact with and through this game.

So what does a 10-year-old, unfocused, jack of all trades master of none EVE character look like?

You can see it for yourself here:

http://eveboard.com/pilot/Elmis

194 odd Million Skill points across 399 skills – 204 at level V.

I am not sure what the future holds. A nice round 200M SP for starters.

Searching to Contribute

I was caught out by my Null Sec Base office rental steadily increasing without me noticing. I had to send my main Alt down there via Clone jump to clean it out and close up. I’ll reopen when the price drops.

It took me a while to try out the new event sites. I noticed initial complaints about them erroneously impacting Amarr standings, so left them be. That all seems to have been resolved, so I ran a few this weekend.

I haven’t done any research into them, but so far they only seem to drop one of a wide variety of white Amarr ship skins. I’ll run them if I see them in the local system, but I don’t plan to go hunting for them.

I’ve passed 170 battles in World of Warships. I hit a real roadblock with the Tier IV Cruisers – all of them, not just the Japanese Kuma I was talking about before.

I found I struggled to hit anything and suddenly seemed to be paper thin, dying far too quickly and easily. I was always languishing around the bottom of the battle rankings.

Some of this related to the configuration of the new hulls, such as losing some of the main guns to be replaced by rarely useful Torpedoes, slower turret traversal, and starting out without the upgrades. Having to partially retain the Captains also impacts your initial effectiveness.

Some related to the quality of opposition, which seemed to take a bit of a step up at that level.

Some related to how I was trying to play the game.

One of the more obvious and important tactics in World of Warships is to focus fire – just as it is in EVE. It was around the point where I stepped from Tier III to IV ships that I made more of an effort to group up with other players.

I initially started out by focusing on giving the Destroyers support – but more often than not I just ate a hull full of torpedoes without contributing.

Then I tried hanging back with the Battleships, but that left me out of range and often the primary target of incoming fire. Once again I contributed little.

Last I tried to hang in between the main group of Destroyers and Battleships – which improved my Battle ranks from dismal too mediocre, but it was still rather unsatisfying.

Finally, I’ve stuck with that type of play – but focused more on my positioning around islands. Ducking in and out of cover, changing targets as you move around, capturing or assisting if you have the opportunity but being more willing to break engagements and temporarily retreat, pushing destroyers away when you see them, and stay on the lookout for targets on lower health or the obvious focus of others on your team – all the while being mindful of the strategic goal of the battle itself.

It is a sort of team focused individual game. Obvious when you stop to think about it. It took a bit of patience, but I am now regularly in the lower top half of the battle rankings, which means I am tending to contribute, which I am ok with.

I find the destroyers much easier to play – although have to be in the mood for them.  As was said recently in a comment, they are a hero or zero type ship to play. You are either dead quickly and at the bottom of the battle rankings, or you sink ships and capture zones and find yourself with lots of experience earned.

Last of all I have started out playing Battleships, which are a whole different sort of game play. I had not planned on trying them until I felt I had mastered Destroyers and Cruisers more. Interestingly, instead of distracting me, it has helped me better understand how to use the smaller hulls.  In a Battleship you love when Cruisers hang out in the open, and you hate when Destroyers ambush you around Islands.

I have a rough budget of $30 a month for online games I am getting a lot out of. In the first month of World of Warships I paid for 30 days premium and a small number of doubloons. Nearing the start of my second month, I have now paid for another 30 days premium and picked up a Murmansk premium ship. I am enjoying testing out the various aspects of the game.