Aiming for minuscule success

We get two common unsolicited phone calls to the house. The first is a scam pertaining to be from the Telstra Help desk (the biggest Telecommunication company in Australia) saying your computer is infected by viruses and that they need to remotely connect to fix it. The second is trying to sell you solar panels. We have got both types of calls up to 5 times a week for many years now. That is – literally – more than 1,000 times each.

I have been in Jita a bit of late, playing the 0.01 ISK wars against bots and no-lifers. I see the same old scams in local that I’ve been seeing for years. Most individual messages are repeated 30 odd times an hour, more than 1,000 times a day. Another area where EVE imitates real life I guess.

I know the argument is that they get a minuscule success rate which makes it worthwhile.  Surely the hit rate will increase however if they were just a little bit more creative?

As an aside – I have found the most relaxed way to conclude the Help desk scam calls is by advising them that I don’t own a computer, or a tablet, or a smart phone. They usually just quickly hang up.  On the rare time I get an incredulous query, I say I use Industrial cleaning equipment all day, and it leaves me with a high level of static electricity that resets electronic equipment when I touch them. While that is not true for me – it is something that impacts my Mother.

Still solo if you use mining drones?

I am still sporadically continuing the process to hermit build an Astrahus. By this I mean with just my main character, and not my main with an army of alts.

I haven’t progressed far – but it has had its own positive impact on my game. I had got into the habit of logging in, spinning the ship, then logging off. This back-burner goal has turned every second or third logon into some sort of undocked session.

It really puts into perspective the amount of effort required to solo build a Citadel as compared to the effort to solo kill one. In fact – from a solo / hermit point of view, I expect most things in the game require substantially more effort to build than it does to destroy. It is an equation I have always thought was heavily weighted against my style of play, yet from the complaints you would think it was the opposite in game.

As I continue my EVE career wind down (while I wait for something relevant and new), I have been on occasion progressing one of my other goals. That is to end up with just the one EVE character. A true Hermit. I’ve found once mothballed, I have never re-used my Alts, so I have returned to them one at a time to strip them bare and biomass them. Not maintaining multiple characters has been quite liberating, although it is not always easy to let go of them.

I’ve noticed this popping up – which I am not sure was there before.

I expect that means if you have to PLEX an account to get at any SP below 20M odd that it won’t be worth doing. I wonder if that is a money grab, or if CCP is hoping less people biomass their characters if they still have an enforced useful level of SP.

Crystal Ball

The EVE Online Updates page seems rather barren.

The EVE Online Forums for upcoming features is in a similar state.

There doesn’t seem to be anything we are not already aware of in the Test Server Feedback forum either.

In the pipeline we only have the Structure 2.0 updates, Heavy Assault Cruiser and Assault Frigate balancing, and the once off Faction Citadels arriving to replace Player Stations.

(As I had assumed, the Faction Citadel change is seeing Providence lose its space. I wouldn’t worry – it will be back in their hands once the wealth is taken by the already wealthy and powerful.)

Others have blogged about the bare state of the future roadmap recently, but it is not something I am particularly concerned about. We have the 15-year anniversary Fanfest coming in April, and CCP seem to understandably like the theatrics of being able to do big reveals. We should learn more then.

I expect however I wasn’t the only one to look carefully at the session list for the latest CSM summit in Iceland taking place this week.

There wasn’t much given away, although I wonder at why they are brainstorming content for Winter 2018, when I would have thought that sort of thing should have been set long ago. It also just seemed to be talking about all the same old stuff.

I don’t like the chances for Hermit players getting a strong look in, but it would be nice to be thrown a few crumbs.  Here’s hoping.


Maybe Dissociative Identity Disorder is the solution?

I’ve ran POS before in High Sec and Low Sec – both to live out of and for Industry. I found the mechanic suitable for Hermit play, with an acceptable risk / reward balance.

As we would all know, POS and Player Stations are in an extended process of being replaced in game with Structures. I have remarked several times that I don’t like key aspects of this newer mechanic, and haven’t used them. Specifically:

. Unlike POS, they won’t defend themselves unless manned

. Unlike POS, they have a 24-hour anchor and a 7-day un-anchoring process

I always armed my POS. I knew it only took a half organised group to destroy them – but the difference was they needed to make at least a small effort to counter the defenses. This happened even if I could not log in. Maybe it is just me – but that made a lot of difference in being willing to plant my hard-earnt ISK out in space.

Sven Viko wrote an interesting blog piece (as he is prone to doing) covering his year of killing Structures as a Solo player. While I’m distracted by how to defend them, he is distracted by how to destroy them.

It is an interesting read.

He remarks on the difficulty for solo attackers to get around the time zone tanking of the vulnerability windows. I complain about the difficult for a casual player who might not log in for a week to ensure they are online during vulnerability windows. CCP would probably just point out the discernable difference if you attack or defend in groups.

He remarks that due to Asset Safety, his salvage and loot drops were well under 10% of the destroyed value. In fact, if not for a couple key module drops, the return would have been minuscule. I have sympathy for him here. He – and many others – made good ISK on cleaning up POS. I wouldn’t suggest Asset Safety need to be scrapped everywhere. It is a key part of CCP’s narrative about moving from indestructible to destructible Player Stations. I wonder however if there should be some mechanism where half the tax paid by pilots to get their stuff out of Asset Safety ends up in the pockets of the attackers? Like what they do to pay out bounties? Think of it as the proceeds of bribes paid by the removalists.

He remarks on the binary nature of the Citadel v Player mechanic. The attackers are either impervious to the defences, or it is very risky. I don’t like that either. If I am defending solo, I’d like to think if I used suitable fits and tactics, that I could make some sort of difference or extract some sort of cost. Again, CCP would probably just point out the discernable difference if you attack or defend in groups.

Last of all he remarks on the time taken as a solo player to destroyer Structures over 3 timers. I don’t really have an issue with the time he remarks on having taken to be honest. But – yet again – CCP would probably just point out the discernable difference if you attack in a group.

The POS mechanics were viable for Solo Players. The Structure Mechanics have issues for Solo players – with the solutions mostly being not to play Solo.

There has been a Structure 2.0 update announced – arriving some time soonish and making changes to the destruction mechanism. In particularly those structures not actively using fuel should be easier to kill. I don’t imagine that will make me any more inclined to use them!

As a Solo player – when it comes to placing stuff out in space, you must rely on stealth, compromise, and a bit of luck. I’ve anchored and un-anchored maybe a dozen POS over my EVE Career. By carefully picked locations and my timings I could mitigate some (but not all) of the risk. I felt I had some sort of influence on the success of the action.

The deployment of a Structure takes at least 24 hours plus 15 minutes. In High Sec – unless under War Dec or you get a War Dec in the first 15 minutes, the process is relatively safe. If I were to anchor a Structure in Wormhole space (something I had wanted to do), I must hope for 24 hours that none of the industrious wormhole mapping denizens happen across it. It is similar in Low or Null Sec. I can try picking a system that is very quiet, but it is just pure – and out of my control – luck if it anchors. I don’t find that good game play for the owner.

Un-anchoring a structure is even worse. It takes 7 days. While the un-anchoring time is not displayed, the structure is visible on overview for anyone to see. And see them they do:

The article is about the EVE Player Toni-anne Brinalle of the infamous Thieves’ Guild. There were several related articles – posted in the latter half of 2017. That player suggested they had stolen more than 500 Structures at the end of their un-anchoring process. How accurate that is I can’t say, but reading the various comments and things that were linked to at the time, there did seem to be an active and successful profession of identifying and in a timely manner scooping up Structures under the noses of their previous owners.

There is no skill as a Solo player that I can use to mitigate such a risk.

I get that things might be different for un-anchoring, if I played in a Group instead of playing Solo. I am almost seeing a pattern here. But – no.

The only solution I can think of for Solo player currently is to view Structures as ammunition.

BANG, 10 ISK gone, BANG, 10 ISK gone, BANG, 10 ISK gone, Anchor, 1 Billion ISK gone, BANG, 10 ISK gone.

I don’t like that mindset to be honest. Yes, only undock with what you can afford to lose, but you can moderate the risks you are exposed too through tactics and fitting and experience and knowledge. For Solo players I feel currently Structures don’t give you any real risk mitigating game play.

Anyway – once again I write about EVE and it ends up just sounding like a whinge!

The TLDR; my early concerns about the Structure Mechanics for Solo players remain. There is antidotal evidence my concerns are valid. I don’t see any changes in the pipeline to improve on this – aside a Solo attacker should find the destruction process easier after Structures 2.0 is released.

They will be broken

I remarked the other day that I would not be migrating some of my old and out of date EVE tools to my new PC.  I knew there would be a point where they would stop working for good.  That point has now been announced.

May 8th, 2018 – is when the old XML API / CREST will be turned off.  Only the ESI API will be supported going forward.

Armageddon day for some of our old favourites.

Out of game status update – Part 2

To summarise part one – took a break, unsuccessful job search, looked at business opportunities, went back to school.

I haven’t had the normal sort of impetus – like food and shelter – to get back to work as soon as possible. Despite two years of me being unemployed, financially the family is fine. When I finished at my last job the mortgage had already been paid off, we had no debt, and the bank balance was healthy. The situation has not changed, and we live reasonably comfortably on my wife’s wage.

The fairly logical and unrushed journey I’ve been able to take in working out what to do next in my career has been a relatively fortuitous luxury not afforded to most.

By taking primary responsibility for the kids, my wife was able to change jobs twice and rejuvenate her career. I am better at cooking, cleaning, washing, shopping and time management than my wife, so the house is better organised and runs smoother.

My wife has a pathological need to have our kids lives filled with organised activities – aside school five days a week there is soccer training and matches, swimming, karate, athletics, roller-skating lessons, Sunday school and professional appointments for our daughter. Since not working it has been a lot less stressful for us all trying to meet my wife’s overfull and complicated scheduling.

I am better at dealing with our daughter – who is on the high functioning end of the Autism spectrum. Over the last two years we have been able to work with her Paediatrician, Psychologist, Speech Therapist and Teachers to better understand her, and have got her out of control tantrums from happening 15 to 25 days a month down to 3 or 4.

It is not all happy days though.

My wife is supportive – almost always, mostly, sort of. For much of the first year she was keen on me not working as it made it much easier with her job changes. She understands the journey I have gone through, the decisions I have made, and says it all makes sense to her. On the surface I have a great deal to be thankful for.

But – my wife avoids confrontation like the plague and is passive aggressive. The occasional jibe, under breath utterance, and attitude shift suggests she isn’t entirely happy. She expresses annoyance at not being able to spend as much money on the things she wants – travel and entertainment. She jealously remarks on how she would love to be the stay at home parent – while indicating she wouldn’t make anywhere near the effort I do or wangle the kids half as well, so I’d be expected to still cover off lots of that stuff. I’m left with the underlying impression that while she is thankful and happy with my contributions, she thinks a little less of me, and if she was to be completely honest, she would prefer I do all that I do – and earn a good wage at the same time.  She would like to have her cake, and eat it too.

My wife and I have always been very good at making long term plans. We haven’t really been able to since not knowing where my career will go.

Personally, I have found it very hard to quantify my self-worth in the Stay at Home Dad role. A monthly salary was an easily defined contribution to the family. A male keeping the house orderly, the fridge full, the kids in clean clothes, putting a hot meal on the table as your wife walks in through the door – society either assumes I am not doing it, or it is dismissed.

We likely both sound ungrateful – but understanding and meeting your own, your families, and societies expectations in this area has been trickier than expected.

So back to concise context – not working has left me busier than before, there have been real benefits for my family, but it has been tricky to navigate, and leaves aspects of life on hold.

So that is life out of game. Now back to the normal sporadic updates.

Out of game status update – Part 1

This isn’t about EVE. It is background context and an update on topics I have mentioned before.

I’ve been unemployed for two years now. A less than auspicious accomplishment that plays on my mind.

I’ve tried to remark on this before, but I never seem to be able to explain the situation in a succinct enough manner.

I left my last job because it was obvious the organisation was in its’ death throes. It started shutting down just months later. Credit where credit is due – the last remaining Senior Manager was the Accountant, and he handled the process in a very orderly manner. As far as I had heard, no one lost any of their entitlements.

Not long after that, the US Parent company went into Administration and was sold, with the Shareholders losing all their money. The last CEO had in a couple short years taken a large successful international business and ruined it with his Dilbert like jargon and hot air.

A hollow vindication I guess of my initial decision.

I spent about four months just tackling the To-Do list around home. I never really made a dent in it however – as quickly as I accomplished something, two more items would be added.

When I started looking around seriously for work I found there was none. I’d been warned for years by colleagues that this was the reality. Knowing it, and seeing it however are two different things. Of the few jobs that did pop up, I was handicapped by not being able to travel (I had to do the school runs), and by a conscious and considered decision to specialise in a way that was now no longer particularly marketable.

I caught up with many of the people in my professional network, I had my resume reviewed, I looked for options to step sideways into other technologies, I tried to be creative in broadened my job search, but I found myself pigeonholed back into a career that was no longer open to me.

It is a very odd feeling to no longer be able to do the work you enjoy and are good at. Your self-worth takes a knock, you feel grief, embarrassment. It is hard to explain.

After 4 or 5 months I started looking seriously into buying a franchise. There is a romantic notion to being your own boss. I did some online courses and a crap load of research, and had long discussions with several groups. In the end however, while I found a number of Franchisors I really liked, and some products and services I could get enthused about, I did not find them combined. What I ended up with was a very long list of what I would steer away from – any Franchisors who were public companies or run by investment organisations, any franchise less than 5 years old, any pyramid franchises where you reported to a franchised area manager who reported to a franchised regional manager who reported to a franchised state manager and so on. I still get the emails and read the magazines, but currently I don’t have any prospects I am chasing.

Meanwhile I had always remarked that I could just get a lawn mowing business to bring in some money while the kids where still young. I earnt pocket money during High School gardening for half a dozen elderly clients. It was something I was and remained good at. Friends of ours suggested I could start on cleaning up their property, to see how I went. They lived on a large and very steep block that was overgrown with weeds and covered with blackberries. For the last year, for half a day a week, I’ve been doing their gardening. It has been a mammoth, heavy task, but our friends have been genuinely delighted with the results. It did however show me that I could not physically do such a job full time. My fall back option was not an option after all.

So – for the last 6 months I did a lot of research, enrolled and have undertaken study. The particular course I took provides a qualification related to training adults. The thought is to get into corporate IT training or the like. I had very good feedback from the other students and the instructor, who has gone out of her way to look for opportunities for me. That should all be finished by the end of January.

I don’t know if it will provide a solution for my unemployment, but it gives me options. It has also been a reminder, like the gardening, that I can be quite accomplished at what I set my mind to. I’ll have to set my mind in a similar way to finding work in the new year.