Agency

The latest in game event has gone live. This one is called The Agency.

https://community.eveonline.com/news/news-channels/eve-online-news/the-agency-welcome-to-the-next-eve-online-event/

The first thing you notice when you log in is that you get an Agency Speed Booster. It is a reward for, well, logging in. It provides a 3% Velocity Modifier for 30 minutes. If you have Biology V, it will last for 60 minutes. You can get one each 23-hours. I assume this is a sort of proof of concept test, or a reminder to people that they should think about boosters, as I don’t see how it would have any real impact on what people do in game or if they log in or not.

The event uses the format I prefer with these sorts of things. You are given a list of optional challenges to do various different things in game. As you complete them you are given points that earn tiered rewards.

The Challenges on initial appearance are similar to the previous ones. Lots of mine related to exploration sites. I guess they might change as the event goes on.

One of my Challenges ended up apparently bugged. I found and ran and completed a Combat Signature Site while flying a Tech III Cruiser, but it was not credited. Given the site did escalate, I ran and completed that, just in case. The Challenge was still not credited. I then waited until downtime, in case they would clear things up, but no.

Interestingly, once you complete a challenge, you have to wait 23 hours for that slot to be available again. If you get a challenge you don’t want, there doesn’t currently appear to be an option to drop or swap them. That might change with time. I don’t know.

The rewards are – putting it mildly, crap. Assuming you log in and earn 50 odd points a day, it will take you a couple days to get a single (3M ISK) PLEX. After four good days of effort you get a single booster (+3% repair rates for 30 minutes). Maybe 6 days to get 4 more PLEX, and finally after 8 days, an ok looking skin for a Tengu. The reality is you probably won’t put that sort of effort in, or will find you are not able to do all the challenges each day. If that happens, the end of the event will come around quickly on you.

Given how generous some recent Events have been, and how poor this one is, I am wondering if this reflects CCP’s mindset. Events that have open sites in space that encourage conflict are liberal with their rewards, Events that can more easily be done ignoring other players, minuscule loot.

The event did have me logged in today longer than I have been in probably months. I setup and flew around an Exploration Legion and an Exploration Gnosis trying to complete some of the challenges, and I happened unexpectedly across a Superior Sleeper Cache which I opened the initial can for and warped into before stopping to do a bit of research on what the hell I had just found, and deciding not to test my Pacifier on it.

I also found how annoyingly easy it is to keep recalling your probes when you actually want to use analyze. Stupid button moving crap.

I expect over the next couple weeks I might have a couple more game sessions targeting some of the challenges, but I won’t be bothering with targeting any of the rewards.

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.

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.

No horizons

Once I stopped doing the Serpentis Event I was still feeling inclined to do some long distance exploration based roaming. The basic idea is to open the Dotlan map and set off to Hi-Sec areas I haven’t spent much time in, visiting exploration and marked sites as I go without returning home.

I spent a couple of sessions in EFT trying to decide on what Ship I would fly. As you would expect I wanted one that basically could do it all without needing to change fit. It needed to scan, be able to fit both Data and Relic analyzers, do reasonable DPS against all NPC types and have a bit of a tank. I was also leaning towards lasers for their low volume requirement for ammo, and quick reloads / changes on the fly. That all limited the choices.

I started out by checking those new(ish) joint Data and Relic analyzers. I figured they might open up a few new ship types to try, but they were very expensive and the stats did not impress. In the end I looked at more than a dozen hulls before concentrating on the Confessor, Stratios and Legion. The Confessor is a little too easy to gank if I end up carrying large values of loot, so I discounted it in the end, and the Legion worked out stronger than the Stratios is most areas, particularly as I did not need it to be able to cloak.

[Legion, Roam v1]
Drone Damage Amplifier II
Heat Sink II
Heat Sink II
Corpum C-Type Energized Adaptive Nano Membrane
Corpum B-Type Medium Armor Repairer

Federation Navy 10MN Afterburner
Relic Analyzer II
Data Analyzer II
Sensor Booster II, Scan Resolution Script

Small Tractor Beam II
Salvager II
Focused Medium Beam Laser II, Imperial Navy Multifrequency M
Focused Medium Beam Laser II, Imperial Navy Multifrequency M
Focused Medium Beam Laser II, Imperial Navy Multifrequency M
Focused Medium Beam Laser II, Imperial Navy Multifrequency M
Sisters Expanded Probe Launcher, Sisters Core Scanner Probe

Medium Auxiliary Nano Pump I
Medium Energy Metastasis Adjuster II
Medium Energy Metastasis Adjuster II

Legion Defensive – Nanobot Injector
Legion Electronics – Emergent Locus Analyzer
Legion Engineering – Augmented Capacitor Reservoir
Legion Offensive – Drone Synthesis Projector
Legion Propulsion – Fuel Catalyst

Hobgoblin II x5

On paper it looks ok – but EFT statistics do not always give a clear indication of what a ship is like to fly. Tracking was one of the things I am going to have to get a feel for undocked. So far it seems to be able to hit destroyers and up fairly reliably, with Frigates ok out past 10km. Closer to that I can just use drones. I might be able to swap one or two of the tracking rigs out to see the impact it has.  Time to test.

Jita Shortcut

I’ve had a play around with the new D-Scan / Probe window.

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As I have said before, I prefer having the map and scan window separate. The D-Scan aspect of the tool is particularly good. I found it easier to use with much better visual ques.

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Turning on the Scan Cone option shows you the D-Scan range – although the colour really should be different so as not to clash with signatures.

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Turn on camera tracking on the HUD.

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Lower the scan angle to 5%. Now you can click on objects in the Scan window or on a suitable Overview Tab, and if they are within range, you can very quickly and accurately D-Scan them. Finding ships in sites or POS around moons is a breeze.

I know that was possible before – but as I said, it just works better. I can imagine newer players finding the concept easier to grasp and quicker to master.

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You can also use the option to “Align with Camera”, for a “look behind the cone” view of D-Scan. It is more useful where objects are above and below the horizon. If doesn’t work entirely as you might expect with Camera Tracking turned on. If you click on an object in the Scan window your ship view will swing around to align with it. If you just move the angle of your view around in the Scan window, your ship view will move, but will then keep trying to return to the last selected object. If you release your mouse, it will snap back. It doesn’t feel quite right.

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The probing aspect of the window works pretty much as it did before. It does highlight the arrows on the movement box when you are hovering in the right position, and the option to save layouts seems easier. I do not however like how little the signatures are once you start to get a hit on them. Above you can see a tiny red dot and a tiny yellow dot. They should be much bigger.

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This is in contrast to the strange large cones that appear as you are resizing and moving probes around.

There are some pretty specific bugs people have reported about the scan window. I found for general day to day use it worked, although with a caveat. It was at times glitchy. Sometimes I would go to click on a menu icon and it would not respond. I would have to click on something else and come back to find it working again. Sometimes the Directional Scan result window would update when you did not expect it to, and wouldn’t update when it should. You were not entirely able to trust the results – you basically had to re-scan every time you moved the camera angle.

Overall I am pleased, but it requires polish.

Otherwise, I spent a chunk of yesterday out in space. There was a Hi-Sec to Hi-Sec Wormhole in my home system. It had that telltale blue nebula colour. As luck would have it, when I poked my nose through I found a route to Jita half the length than usual, which also bypassed a couple of those more dangerous systems.

I then spent a lot of time ferrying loot, excess supplies, and a bunch of speculative items I had sat on for some time which were now well worth turning over for profit. My Alt’s Exequror hauler got quite a workout, often shuffling 1+B ISK worth at a time. It is likely that over its life that single hull has moved more than a Titan’s worth of value around space.

BB67 – I am CCP Hermit

BB 62 – There has been a catastrophic accident in the CCP Offices and you have found your player account has been upgraded to a senior CCP staffer! You are now CCP Hermit and have a team of developers eagerly awaiting your commands. So what are you going to have your team work on?

For obvious reasons if you follow this blog, I am going to focus on the niche of solo or small group exploration and nomadic movement.

I would like to dramatically increase the available exploration content, starting with the ideas in this list which are relatively easy and quick to implement before moving onto the harder options. They should fall into the category of sites or cosmic anomalies as appropriate.

The idea is to increase variety and mix up the ship hull and fitting options people might use or carry around during exploration. It is not to homogenise space or making Hi-Sec so interesting that you don’t want to move. The rewards from these sites and the frequency they can be found should be balanced and scaled.

Now the site ideas:

. Upsized Rats – on occasion find a solo NPC Battleship with a bounty of 500K in High-Sec, 1000K in Low-Sec, or 1500K in Null Sec. Mix it up with occasional doubles or triples (more commonly out of Hi-Sec), and small support wings.

. Out of place Rats – on occasion find a small group of NPC ships out of their usual Regions, such as Guristas in Sansha space, or Serpentis in Blood Raider. You might just use their version of the standard cosmic anomaly.

. Entirely out of place Rats – on occasion find a small group of Sleepers or Incursion rats.  The later would just give a small number of LP as reward.  (I wouldn’t mind seeing solo options added to Incursions – for simplicity maybe just having clearing Incursion rats from belts giving you minor LP rewards when the incursion is finished.  The rewards would only be a small fraction of running the proper sites – this is more just for variety.)

. Out of place resources – on occasion find 1-3 Asteroids in a mini-field in an area where you would not normally find them – so a single Mercoxit or a couple small Arkonor asteroids in High Sec. Consider mini Gas sites.  These sites should be small and not worth a great deal – it is more for variety.

. NPC Convoy Ambushes – you warp in on an NPC hauler with a number of guards. Consider these to be like Hauler spawns but they carry a much wider range of goods. The difference here is that these Convoys will warp away. You need to quickly lock a ship and warp disrupt it, then force the guards off before you find what loot it might be carrying.  This mechanism (having to scramble rats) could be implemented in multiple areas.

. Burner NPC sites – in effect small exploration sites that mimic Burner Missions with very difficult rats.

. Hidden NPC structures doing moon harvesting or reactions which you can place siphon units on to steal small volumes of goods. You possibly need to remove defenders or defensive weaponry. Have them only last a day or two before they are pulled down by the NPCs.

. Hidden NPC structures that you need to use Entosis links on. I’m not sure on the specifics of these – maybe listening or scanning arrays that you need to put through a number of defended reinforcement stages and get a bounty from Concord if you destroy them.

. Have a rare COSMOS type site which drops COSMOS type ingredients

. Have a rare COSMOS agent. They offer up 3 or 4 quests to any pilot who asks. However only the first to hand in a quest gets the reward and that quest is dropped as an option from the agent. The Agent disappears once all their missions are done or completed. These could be tied into the current COSMOS sites or be new / different ingredients.

I expect there would be many more viable options.  It think the feeling of exploration would be increased if you had a lot more different sites to come across.

Next are movement ideas:

. Smuggler Gates – an old topic for me. These are temporary NPC gates you have to scan down. These should last longer than normal locations – a week give or take a day. Generally Hi-Sec Smuggler Gates will go to neighbouring Low Sec areas, and Low Sec to Null Sec. They will reliably only connect to bordering zones or regions – so if you search Derelik Low Sec you might find Smuggler gates into Great Wildlands, Curse or Providence. This is one way of bypassing normal Gate bottlenecks. Either you need to pay the pirates operating these gates to pass, or destroy the guards and sentries to pass, or use Hacking or Entosis modules. In addition – these Gates can also be destroyed via DPS. Find a Smuggler Gate into your Null Sec constellation? Drop a small fleet on it and blow it up.

. Introduce a new class of ships somewhere between a Nestor and Orca. These would be Mobile Exploration bases you take with you on long roams. I’m thinking a Ship Maintenance bay of around 150,000m3, a Fleet Hanger of 10,000m3, an Ore hold, no offensive modules aside a couple flights of drones, and remote repair bonuses. Maybe even a bonus to movement under cloak. An Explorer would move around with a small selection of ships they can swap in and out of to run different sites.

. Allow jump clones to be moved in ships and stored in the same locations. Either move them in a new class of ships, or simply have a container they can be stored in and carried as cargo. Allow a much shorter jump clone timer if you swap within the same station. Maybe give the Mobile exploration base above a clone hold and reduction bonuses to the time you have to wait between clone changes.

I expect that should keep my development team busy for a while.

Other posts can be found here.