Quick EVE update

It’s possible I may have been provided — very kindly too! — with a LOTRO F2P beta key* but aside from installing the client I’ve held off actually logging in. For one thing it can apparently take a few hours for your permissions to be correctly set and before that you won’t authenticate to log in. For another, I’m always like this. It’s like Christmas or birthdays or other anticipation-laden present days — what I really enjoy is knowing there’s a shiny something to unwrap and not touching it. Anticipation > fulfilment — hear that, you MMO-gobbling locust generation?

Also, it looks like I’ll only get to make one char, since I’ll be testing that whole lower-class non-paying pleb option — and it’s going to kill me just trying to decide what class to pick. I’d rather put off the agony. I’m a slow-puller not a sudden-ripper with band aids too, by the way.

But I digress.

Continue reading

The month in games – July 2010

One month, three games — that’s probably some sort of record for me.

When June ended I was playing Fallen Earth, and then from one day to the next I went back to EVE and shortly thereafter started Guild Wars. If you’d told me that four months ago, when I was still perfectly happily playing EQ2, I’d have snorted at you in disbelief.

Fallen Earth

Thanks to the frenzy surrounding layoffs at Icarus and the subsequent issue of 1000 (more?) free game codes, I was able to come back to Fallen Earth for the first time since my stint in the beta back in late 2008.

Fallen Earth is a lovely game and quite a lot of fun, but a couple of things did put me off. The factions stuff… eh. I wasn’t looking forward to having to putz about with that faction wheel, and I would have had to in order to do and get the stuff I wanted to do and get. On the bright side the whole faction system is being rethought and hopefully revamped, so we’ll see what’s what when they’ve had a chance to develop and implement that.

But at the end of the day — and I’m a little annoyed with myself about this — it was the trekking that did me in. Travelling around sector 1 isn’t much of a problem. Travelling around sector 2 isn’t much of a problem. But travelling from one Sector to another — even with a biodiesel bike (the Willie Nelson I) — it got a bit yawnsome. Again though, this is something that has already been addressed with the bus stop system.

Still. Part of me wants travel to be meaningful and I certainly understand why devs and designers want it to be meaningful — but 10-30 minutes of uninterrupted going from A to B along an empty road is not meaningful and it’s not interesting.

The other straw for this camel’s back was that if you wanted to be able to make the really good stuff for char/skill/level X, you had to get books and harvestables from way higher up the skill/level/whatever chain. Some of the recipe books for items that would primarily be used in sector 1 could only be obtained from vendors in sector 2, and that only after you’d obtained the requisite amount of faction (which admittedly isn’t much).

Which means MyChar1 would be in crap gear and using crap stuff but MyChars2-4 could be twinked out the wazoo thanks to MyChar1 being able to get the stuff.

Of course that’s the case in pretty much every MMO out there these days, and I have nothing against twinking per se — not at all, in fact I rather enjoy doing it myself up to a point — but for some reason in Fallen Earth it was like a little bit of salt rubbed in daily.

All that being said I don’t think there’s anything really wrong with Fallen Earth — it’s a fun game, it’s come a hell of a long way from beta that’s for sure, and it’s definitely worth the price of admission if you don’t object to the setting. (Just don’t think you can turn it into YAFMMO in your head. It’s not fantasy, even if the “orcs” can set you on fire.) I definitely recommend it — it’s just not the game for me right now, and as it’s subscription-based I have to be picky and choosy.

EVE Online

This was another freebie, at least as far as reactivation for a few days went. I first played EVE for a month or two waaaay back in 2004, but ended up moving on to something else for reasons I now can’t recall — probably the lure of another new shiny game and the unlure of my ongoing issues with EVE itself. I played again in 2006, also for only a month or two, this time with the spousal unit, and the big problem I had back then was that space makes me RL sick. There’s nothing quite like wanting to yack up your dinner when you’re playing to make you reconsider a subscription!

Anyway, since then we’d got new machines and much larger new monitors, so we figured we’d give it another go just for shits’n’giggles. The good news is that I don’t get quite so sick in space anymore, though moving the camera around too fast in space can still make me feel like Jimmy Stewart in Vertigo. Combat is still a bit of a problem, chunks-wise.

The bad news is that I’m just not cut out for full on world-PvP.

Back in 2006 you could stick to safe space and pretty much pretend there was no PvP, but these days it’s everywhere. People try to warp-scramble you just because they’re there and you’re there and what the hell, right? — And this in 0.9 space no less. I’m starting to think that finding a nice quiet corner of 0.0 is probably less of a pain in the ass than trying to navigate through the newbie systems.

Anyway, other than the PvP the game does have quite a few elements to recommend it to me. The market/trading game is fascinating, though as with all trading you’ll make more money if you have more money to invest up-front — but it’s still possible to make money and indeed I have been (albeit modestly) this last month. The manufacturing game isn’t much of one at the moment, at least not at my newbie levels: ore and mineral prices seem to have dropped considerably since I last played and right now the profit margin on manufactured items is tiny — you’re almost better off just mining and selling the raw materials. I’ve experienced this in pretty much every MMO that has crafting based on harvested raw materials: sooner or later, the raws will be as valuable if not moreso than the stuff you can make with them.

Then there’s Planetary Interaction, which has been fun but is limited in the amount of playtime it takes. I’m further limited in my unwillingness to leave safe space — the chancier the system, the more likely you are to strike gold, so to speak. But again, it’s not impossible and I’m managing; I’m making a profit, just not as much and not as fast as I might be.

In EVE, the risk-reward ratio is very obvious — but even with minimal risk there is still a chance of getting some reward.

Right now the only reason I’m still subscribed is because Mort is playing and enjoying the game, and I figure that whatever money I can make can help fuel his more active ambitions in the game. He’s running missions, hopping around in low-sec space, getting stuff done — generally he’s just not as much of a chicken as I am.

Again, EVE is not a bad game at all. There have been a slew of improvements and the basic game itself is fun, for the right player. Hardcore you need to be, grasshopper, and prepared to overlook the godawful interface with its godawful font — but at least everyone else has to use the same godawful UI so in that sense it’s even.

I’m just not the right player. I keep telling myself I can hide in the corner in PvP games and still have fun, but at the end of the day it’s just too stressful for me. I don’t like adrenaline, you see. So people can tell me I’ll get to like it if I just get killed enough times — till they’re blue in the face — but it’ll never be true. Much though I would like to be a cool kid and more Die Hard than Disney, the fact is I’m Disney and always will be. Hell, I used to get stressed out playing Tomb Raider for cripes’ sake.

So yeah… I don’t see EVE lasting so well for me. I’ll probably stay subbed up a few months to do some training and work on my PIs but if Mort decides he’s had enough it’ll be about 3 seconds before I hit the unsub button. I’m not cut out for the Wild West and lurking from one safe-space station to the next doesn’t feel like I’m getting my money’s worth.

Guild Wars

Oh look, another freebie — well, no sub to playbie anyway.

I’ve been intrigued by GW for some time now, mostly thanks to comments by and conversations with people like (the still blog-less) @longasc and Dusty. (There are many more and apologies for not crediting you all. You’ll have to bask in the warm glow of knowing who you are.) This is another game I played briefly in beta, though only in the open beta phase, and the only thing I remember about it from back then is that it was pretty and that it didn’t quite work the way I expected. Limited skills! Instances! No jumping!!11oneone!

Which just goes to show that first impressions aren’t always as reliable as people like to think. As a long-time believer in the uselessness of first impressions, I should have known better.

Of the three games I’ve played this month this one seems to fit my playing requirements best right now, and there are several reasons for that.

It’s light — I can pick it up, play 15 minutes or 5 hours, and put it down. No lengthy inventory and bank sorting sessions. No massive amounts of things to craft or sell or craft-then-sell. Just log in, go somewhere with my trusty heroes/henchmen/pets/spousal unit, kill some shit, log out. That is such a relief — and one I’d not expected.

It’s pretty. Sure, some of the graphical elements are a little dated (like the faces on Prophecies chars), but for the most part it’s a really good-looking game. Many of the environments are colourful without being over-saturated (thanks Tesh!), and the brown environments are… not too bad. Besides, I have characters in every campaign so if post-Searing Ascalon gets too much for me I can just play someone in the jungles of Nightfall for a while and get my fill of palm trees and giant ferns.

It’s easy. The initial learning curve is a little weird, partly because one has to unlearn a few MMO habits, but it doesn’t take very long at all to be comfortable with the way the controls work. Learning the intricacies of skills and choices can take a little longer, but that’s part of the fun of the game.

NO TREADMILLS. That deserved capitalisation. From what I’ve seen so far, armour is something you’ll upgrade maybe 3 or 4 times and that’s it — any other sets you obtain will  be mostly for the looks. Yippee-frickin-kay-yay! There’s a little more variation in weapons but so far I haven’t seen The One Weapon To Rule Them All that I’d have to strive for like a hamster on a wheel. Double yay.

Sure, there may be reputation or faction or something-else treadmills, but I can ignore those and not feel like I’m fighting sub-par. This is a joy beyond imagining for someone like me who isn’t particularly motivated by the chase for the next great gear-item.

Instant travel. This can be a double-edged sword but given how Guild Wars is built, anything else would have been idiotic in the extreme. You adventure in solo (or with friends) instances, and you do everything else in towns and outposts. Having you slog through multiple instances just to get back to a town/outpost would be truly irritating — this way you can jump into the action and jump back out of it just as fast when you’ve had enough or dinner’s ready or whatever. It works. I like it.

I’ve already got a slew of characters, not all of whom are likely to survive as I try out this profession and that one. My highest is currently a 14 Ranger/Paragon combo whose Paragon skills are sadly underused, but she’s fun all the same. The Necromancer/Ranger (see a theme here?) is stuck at 9 because I’m overdosing on post-Searing destro-Ascalon browniness.  I also just started a Mesmer/(currently)Necro combo to play with the spousal unit, and she’s a LOT of fun. There’s nothing like messing with mob minds from behind a sturdy meatshield.

I’m almost ashamed to admit this, but I’m glad there’s no crafting in Guild Wars. I’m tired of managing my inventories and having a million crafter alts. Maybe I’m just bloated from the bounteous crafting goodness that is EQ2 these days (largely thanks to its crafting dev, Domino) — there is, after all, such a thing as too much of a good thing.

And maybe in a month or three or six I’ll want to go back to that kind of crafting — and then I will. In the meantime, I’m (mostly) unshackled from monthly subscription fees and that, too, is quite a relief.

Long month, long post

And then there’s my self-challenge to post daily on this blog for the month of July, which I’ve mostly managed to do. I did give myself weekends off, partly for the sake of my sanity and partly because nobody reads weekend posts anyway — and while I do write mostly for myself, I guess I’m not entirely immune to what Rivs calls being an attention whore. Though I prefer to think of myself as an attention high-class-escort, thank you very much.

I shall make no promises for August, that’s for sure!

To Be Or Not To Be… an MMO

When is an MMO not an MMO? (Note that I’m going to leave the whole “RPG” suffix out of the present discussion as a whole ‘nuther kettle of fish. Note also that I’m not going to discuss this exhaustively or we’ll still be here in October.)

Guild Wars is an odd beast. It is an MMO, because it’s massive and has lots of players online all at once, and yet in many ways it doesn’t feel like the other MMOs I’ve been playing in the last, ahem, half-decade. Ironically though, it’s been reminding me more of the games I played in the half-decade before that  — Asheron’s Call in particular — than a lot of the other MMOs I’ve played more recently.

Asheron’s Call was, on the surface, utterly unlike Guild Wars. Nothing was instanced, for one, at least not in the way it’s done in GW; there were a lot of dungeons and other areas accessed through portals that were effectively instances, but none of them were private. Anyone who met the portal requirements could go in and would end up with everyone else who was also in there. Let’s call them public versus private instances. (It’s interesting that I never once thought of them as instances while I was playing AC — they were just a part of the greater world you had to use a whirly-purple portal to reach.)

And yet, in the last few days, I’ve been reminded of nothing so much as Asheron’s Call when I play Guild Wars. Part of it is the “town/outpost” system which, in Guild Wars, are the only public places where you can meet people who aren’t in your party; the only places, in effect, where you can interact freely with the rest of the player base. Asheron’s Call wasn’t like that at all but it did have several towns that served as player hubs; people would come out of the wilds or wherever they’d been and congregate in Glenden Woods, Eastham, Qala’bar and other places. The “in” town varied depending on fashion, player level and focus (PvP players tended to congregate elsewhere), but they were there and they were where you went to see other people.

I was no exception. I’d go off and do my thing, alone or with friends, and when I was laden down with stuff I wanted to sell or just wanted a dose of other people, I’d head off to whatever town was my base and hang for a while. In that sense, AC and GW aren’t that different at all. Even the landscapes are somehow reminding me of each other, though the Guild Wars graphics are a few light-years ahead of poor AC’s.

Post-Searing Ascalon

Compared with other big-name MMOs, Guild Wars stands out by being different in so many ways it’s understandable that many don’t think it’s an MMO at all. Let me count the ways…

There aren’t that many kill 10 rats quests. You’re not forever striving after some insanely powerful item that will only be useful until the next expansion comes out and you have to strive after the new insanely powerful item. It’s more instanced than many players — myself most certainly included — are comfortable with, and while the world certainly is huge, the instancing makes it feel somewhat disjointed (especially at first glance). And worst of all, when you go off adventuring you’re in your own little world — meaning you’re not competing with 27 other players for those foozle tails, and if you’re not competing over scarce drops for mediocre rewards, how can it be a real MMO?

Even more heretically, Guild Wars doesn’t lock you into skills or builds. The only thing you’re locked into is your primary profession choice — after that, you can moosh your stats, skills and even secondary profession around as much as you like, as often as you like.

Doesn’t that sound weird? It certainly sounded weird and a little suspicious to me a week ago.  But you know what? It works.

Guild Wars doesn’t try to appeal to the hardcore raider/achiever type. I’m not quite sure what their core player profile is, but I do know that it makes a nice change from the endless (if varied) standard-MMO treadmills; including, believe it or not, the crafting treadmills. I do love my crafting, but not having to harvest stuff and not wanting to make stuff I’ll have to figure out how to sell… it’s a nice change of pace.

Right now I have some fun classes (professions) to explore and try out, fancy-looking gear to obtain (note that it’s more for looks than uberness), and places to explore. Best of all, if I suddenly stop wanting to play next week I won’t have the nagging feeling that I’m paying for something I’m not using, since I’m not actually paying.

Baby necro -- too cool to be cold!

After a decade of worrying about getting the most bang for my subscription buck, that’s more of a relief than I had expected. So I’m going to stop worrying about whether GW is or isn’t an MMO and just get on with having fun. Strange concept, eh?

(In the meantime, I’m still playing EVE but on a much more casual level that doesn’t involve leaving the safety of my comfy station very much. I buy stuff, I resell stuff, and my planetary installation — just one for now, but a different one than the one I started with — is doing relatively well and has almost paid for itself in under a week. The whole all-PvP all the time deal in these world PvP games is just way too stressful for me, so this is working out very nicely. I’m not uber, but that’s never been what I was after, and EVE is one of those weird games where you can sometimes get more for your subscription buck by logging in less.)

Innocence abroad

Harbinger Zero asked me to post my humiliation for all to see, so here it is.

This is how I got scammed in Jita, in EVE Online, a couple of days ago.

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The Setting

Non-EVErs should know that Jita is the Ironforge of the EVE universe — it’s permanently packed (1300+ people when I was there) and it’s permanently full of sales spam, smack talk, and of course scammers.

It’s actually a pretty short story, and one I should have known better than to fall for, both as a reasonably smart individual and as a 10+ year (argh!) MMO player.

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The Scam

Some player, let’s call them LadyMolo to avoid giving them publicity but still remain relatively true to the name, was claiming to be leaving the game for RL reasons and therefore wanted to give her money away.  If you come from a more recent MMO generation you might instantly think “Ohh right, one of those scams. What a crock!” But back in the day of walking uphill barefoot both ways in the snow to get our levels, people who left games often did give away their virtual-worldly goods. I’ve done it myself a time or two.

Anyway, LadyMolo kept spamming chat with “I”m leaving blah blah blah, send me X amount and I’ll send you back three times as much!” And here’s the kicker to rope in suckers like me: “Send a small amount first to test me!”

I was only in Jita to pick up some goods I could sell back home in Verge Vendor for twice the price, and I wanted to get in, get my shit, and get out again as fast as possible. I don’t like crowds much in RL and I don’t like crowds in virtual space either. (People either get that or they don’t. It bugs the hell out of me when someone stands in my face in an MMO, and I’ve had long debates with friends and acquaintances who just don’t get the concept of personal space when it’s virtual space. Maybe it’s a female thing. /end digression) Text that scrolls so fast you can barely read it — though 99.99% of it isn’t worth reading anyway — is a pain in the backside. And, generally, swimming in a tiny pool full of carnivorous fish ready to blast you just because they don’t like the cut of your jib — so not my thing.

Even so, in the short time it took me from entering the system to docking at the station with the goods I wanted, I saw enough of the scam to be intrigued. I checked my personal wallet and thought, Hrm, I could make a few million extra profit here!

Dollar signs went cha-ching in my eyes. I sent the person 2 million ISK (which is barely enough to get a cup of coffee at EVE-Starbucks these days).

A few seconds later, I get 6 million back. And that of course is how the suckers are hooked and landed.

Fortunately, gullible though I may be, I’m not entirely idiotic. I just sent back the 6 mill I’d got. And waited. And waited. And waited — along with an increasingly vocal group of other marks. A few minutes later LadyMolo logged off, never to be seen again.

Surprise!

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The Mark

Being scammed isn’t humiliating — but standing up for the scammer certainly is. And I did. I bought not only the scam but the story, and defended the scammer to others. Aieee.

But while my MMO persona is humiliated and vowing never to fall for anything ever again, my RL persona doesn’t really mind. For one thing, I didn’t “invest” (positive spin, see?) anything I couldn’t afford to lose. Sure, Ysharros’ personal wallet is pretty flat now but you can pretty much spit and make a couple of mill in EVE even without combat, so it’s not such a big deal.

If anything — like with the almost-got-killed incident — I’m amused at my own perpetual gullibility and at the cleverness of the scam. It was just believable enough for some of us to get conned. It was the usual “put in a little, get out a lot, do it  again sucker!” con that anyone who’s been following financial news in the last couple of decades will be aware of — myself included. But reading about a scam and thinking how you’d never get taken in, and being the mark of a scam are two entirely different things.

At the end of the day, as I’ve said before, I don’t mind being gullible. Being cynical is only a veneer for me, and if I were a cynical old cow to the core I’d probably be unhappier. Miserable and rich isn’t something I particularly aspire to, in games or in life.

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Lessons learned

1. I still hate Jita. I’d only been there once in my previous EVE stints, and I don’t intend to go back if I can possibly help it. For the record, I loathed Ironforge too.

2. Never invest what you can’t afford to lose. EVE and other PvP games are pretty much all about those rules if you don’t want to get horribly burned and be scarred forever more. I didn’t hand over much, I didn’t get taken for more than I initially handed over, so it wasn’t too painful or costly a lesson. (A few marks sent over 100-200 million ISK — to me that’s a ginormous fortune, though I know people regularly deal with billions in EVE these days, probably including the not-nearly-so-gullible Stabs.)

3. Quit while you’re ahead. This is why I don’t gamble.

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Sountrack: It’s yer money I’m after baby — The Wonder Stuff. (NME will even let you see a video… provided you’re not in the US.)

* Yes, I know I’m misquoting my title. See what I did thar?

L2Search the internet, EVE noob!

This is how much of a noob I am. I’d never have found this amazing resource if a kind commenter, Latrodanes, hadn’t pointed it out to me. Speaking of which, thanks to everyone who’s stopped by with help, comments, advice, L2Pnub, and anything else on this game that I’ve supposedly already played twice but still don’t really know at all. It’s much appreciated. Just don’t taunt me a second time.

I’m proud of calling myself a perma-noob, because there’s always something new to be learned no matter how long you’ve played a game, but missing such a seminal info site is pretty noobish even for a noob. Especially one who prides herself on her Google-fu.

Shiny new site! With MAPS! I love, love, loooooooove maps. Stuff is clickable to show more targetted information and boy the amount of info! And realtime too (well mostly). Sweeeeeeeeeeeeeeet!

Am going to explore.

I may be some time.*

Is this cool or what?

* See what I did there?

PS — this is my second post today. I reserve the right to have it count for tomorrow on the Great Post-A-Day Endeavour.

EVE – Where was the kaboom?

It had to happen sooner or later, but I kinda thought it would be much later considering my general chickenitude and reluctance to go below 0.7 sec space if I can help it.

I got podded yesterday.

{{ EDIT — Ah, so I guess HULKAGEDDON is still going on. I thought it was just a weekend thing. That probably explains a lot, although it doesn’t explain the guy’s disingenuity. If you’re going to gank me at least have the grace to admit to it, no? Why play innocent after the fact?  }}

For normal people, that’s where your crunchy outer shell (the ship) gets blown away, leaving you in this teeny little space-raft. Said raft can also be destroyed, incidentally, giving rise to the term “pod-killed” — and if that happens to you, you lose a bunch of implants (stat and skill boosts) and possibly some skill points if you haven’t kept your clone data up to date. It happens a lot, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it or seek it out.

Actually, to be fair and admit my pettiness, I podded myself — I chose to self-destruct my ship before someone else could do it for me, then I scrambled like mad to get my pod the hell out of there and back to a station (which worked).

On the bright side, all I lost was a ship I’d forgotten I had until 2 or 3 days ago: a Celestis, which so far reminds me of nothing so much as a train engine missing some wagons and which has all the grace of a drunk hippo. Well, and the modules on said ship but they were just a few miners and cargo expanders, nothing un-expendable.

Which is why Rule of EVEisition #1 is: don’t fly anything you can’t afford to lose.

I didn’t. I got a million back on the insurance, so that wasn’t bad, and I didn’t like that ship anyway.

Now here’s the weird part. The guy shows up in this 0.8 security asteroid belt, in an fairly busy system — for non-EVE folk, space goes from 1.0 (yay!) to 0.0 (eek!) so 0.8 is pretty safe, more like Times Square at 7pm rather than… well, somewhere really dangerous that I wouldn’t know where it is because I’m a chicken. He’s red, which — when I look it up — tells me he’s an outlaw. And indeed, his security rating is -2.0, so he’s not all sunshine and roses.

To be quite honest though *cough* I’m not sure who fired first. My finger might have slipped on the missile launcher button right after he launched a jetcan named “YOU” in my general vicinity and target-locked me. From where I stand, target-locking isn’t a friendly clap on the shoulder, but maybe I’m behind on EVE social etiquette.

At that point I got warp scrambled, which also didn’t seem like the actions of someone who simply wanted to visit with me and have tea and scones. Then he started shooting and I started squawking and dithering and wondering what buttons I should be mashing. All I had was the missile launcher, which was only on there to deal with the NPC pirates that show up now and then in asteroid belts.

So yeah… I self-destructed before he could do it for me, sitting duck that I was. (Warp Core Stabilisers are now my new best friends!) Also, I didn’t want to lose my implants and I could read where this was going. I’m pretty sure he’d have podkilled me and got the hell out in the 30 seconds one has before CONCORD (the NPC cavalry) shows up to ineffectually slap you on the wrist.

Oh and in the meantime I did get Yseult away in her worse-than-drunk-hippo Iteron, and she was the one carrying all the swag loot ore that we’d mined.

Now here’s the interesting part. I get back to the station, put on some new clothes (ship), and mention casually on local chat that miners might want to watch their backs. I name names. At which point said Named Name goes all self-righteous, claims he was only “working on faction” (WTF, that still works?), and that he’d never done anything aggressive to me at all.

Yeah, cuz shooting out my shields then my armour and chewing on my ship’s hull points is a sign of deep affection. And cuz negative security ratings just sort of happen by themselves.

There follows a long private conversation where he keeps assuring me there was absolutely no aggressive intent on his part, blah, blah, blah.

Riiiiiight.

A quick perusal of this guy’s info also reveals that his corporation is something-something Goon and was once part of the GoonSwarm Alliance. If you know GoonSquad, you’ll know why I was skeptical.

So I don’t buy it, even though I’m probably THE most gullible person in the EVE universe or in this one. When he told me he wasn’t aggroing me, I actually bought it — at least in part — because, well, I tend to believe what people tell me even after they stop me from running away and start firing at me. I also rather expected him to go “HA! HA! I KILLED YOU! L2P NUB!” and other such mustachio-twirling tauntery, rather than acting all wounded.

Seriously. There’s no way that was some sort of accident, unless a whole load of fingers slipped on a whole load of buttons — my side and his — entirely without anyone’s conscious control. Uh huh.

Anyway, I thought I would be crushed, irate, and madly upset. Instead I’m mildly amused, both at my own gullibility and at the fact that, even if he did defeat me, I blew up my shit and he got bubkes. That pleases me.

As does the big fat bounty I placed on his head.

If he’d only read my in-game bio, he might have seen that he could have ransomed me instead and actually made some money out of the “kill”. Instead, I can wait and see when my money gets paid out, and be pettily pleased I got the last laugh. Money > guns, bucko.

~

Oh, and Vive la République! to anyone else out there who might celebrate today. I don’t really, but I’m never as patriotic as when I’m 3000 miles away from my birth country.

EVE – The people down there look like ants!

As promised, my extremely noobish PI — Planetary Interaction — setup in EVE.

There are written and video tutorials in various places — here and here — that aren’t bad at getting you started, though nothing substitutes for a solid bit of in-game market research. You’re going to be producing stuff so it pays to decide what stuff, which depends on demand, ease of production, and whether you intend to refine (and do more with) your raws or whether you’re just going to sell the raw materials.

If you’re as much of a noob as me but interested in the basics, here they are. At base a planet installation needs:

  1. A command center. The name is fairly self-explanatory and without one you can’t do squat. They come in different planetary-type flavours (temperate, barren, ice, gaseous, etc) and also different goodness levels. A basic command center will set you back less than 100k, at least in my region, and that’s peanuts; on the downside the center’s powergrid and CPU values aren’t great, so you won’t be able to run a gigantic empire off one basic CC. Better CCs start to cost more, obviously. I stuck with the basic CC not only because that’s all I can use right now but also because it would keep my expenses in check. Better to spend only a small amount if I was about to discover I hate Planetary Interaction and want nothing to do with it.
  2. Extractors. These also come in various flavours depending on the resource you want to extract.
  3. Processing plants. Not strictly necessary if you don’t intend to process the base raw materials you’re extracting — but refining smushes stuff down in terms of volume, and volume is a big consideration in EVE when you have to haul everything around yourself in ships whose cargo holds are defined by the volume of goods they can carry.
  4. Storage units and other nice-but-non-essential-goodies.

So, you put down a CC, plop a few harvesters down, process or not, and grab your resources for sale at the other end. It’s a little more fiddly than that, but that’s the basic idea.

What you see above is as follows: Command Centre on the far left, leading to a storage unit (dark blue in middle). The Blue circles with arrows on them are extractors, of which there are 3. The orangey icon is the processing centre that turns my aqueous liquid into sellable water. (The aqueous liquid is sellable too, but in my estimate wasn’t as cost/benefit effective.)

It’s a rather messy setup because I wasn’t zoomed in far enough to begin with and so my various installations are further away from each other than they should really be — this is nibbling me in the ass (as opposed to biting) because time and distance are both money in this game. I also read halfway through that it was more efficient to route raws to a storehouse and then to a processing plant, but by then my buildings were plopped so I had to play a bit fast and loose with the routes. (You LINK buildings together for power and whatnot, and you ROUTE products from one linked place to another.) I’m also not sure why it’s more efficient, but it sort of makes sense so I’ll take the author’s word for it. I’m not sure it’s actually making a bit of difference in my low-volume, noobish setup, but it’s worth being aware of for later.

But I’m getting a little ahead of myself. To begin with, I decided to keep things really simple. I checked out first-step processed resources that are in reasonable demand for decent prices. There were a few decent candidates (among them water and toxic metals), and once I had those noted down I picked a relatively safe, relatively isolated (i.e. less people setting up PIs) system and went to check out its planets. I expected to have to check out several systems before I found something that fit the bill; I therefore didn’t shell out on a command centre until I had some idea what kind of planet I’d want to rape exploit use for resources.

Having found a temperate planet with pretty good concentrations of Aqueous Liquids, I got myself a CC and spent the next hour muddling about. Tutorials are all well and good but they can never replace the experience you get screwing up in practice. As it turns out my setup isn’t disastrously bad, and in any case it didn’t cost me all that much (~400k I think). Now I’m watching my little extractors suck up water — err, aqueous liquids, that I then turn into water. The water itself is slowly piling up in the command center, and when there’s enough of it I’ll shoot it up into orbit and go scoop up my goodies.

I can imagine that this will be fun, once I have the experience — and more importantly in-game skills — to run more than one of these / more complex / more powerful Planetary Installations. Of course, one can always extend one’s potential by using alts, too, but EVE is one game where I’m not at all sure I want to have any alts. I’ll no doubt end up with some, but I’m going to try and put that off for a while even if it makes me less competitive.

And that’s one of the problems I have with EVE. It’s an extremely competitive game where everyone is constantly measuring themselves against everyone else — in which I suppose it’s not that different from most MMOs. The difficulty for me is resisting the idea that I’m somehow sub-par by not wanting to buy in to the Achievers’ paradise. I just want to do my thing, have fun (which atm is actually debatable with respect to EVE), and maybe make a bit of money to fund whatever other fun stuff I want to do.

Another problem I have with EVE is that it’s definitely not a theme park type game. I like that — especially intellectually — but now I feel like many players do when they try something like EQ2: there are so many shiny interesting and ZOMFG QQ complicated things to do in EVE, I’m paralysed by my inability to choose. It’s the beauty and the curse of sandbox games: they can be hard to grasp and it can be extremely difficult to find your own bliss in them, so to speak.

RL encroachements may be impacting my mood, too — in fact they almost certainly are. I’ve written before that when I’m not having fun in a game, it’s not usually because of the game but because of the out-of-game baggage I’m carrying at that moment. Couple that with a MUNDUNGOUS and very, very complex game and you end up with confused, directionless, crabby me. YSH SMASH!

I’m pretty sure EVE is fun. I just need to find my bearings.

PS — I’m not looking for pats on the back or advice. I’m not overwhelmed to the extent that I have no idea what I’m doing (I have a small idea what I’m doing), I’m just overwhelmed by choices and possibilities. And crabby. More to the point, I like to do things my own way and in my own time, so if you want to tell me how and what to do, do so at your own risk. You Have Been Warned.

EDIT — for those of you who do play EVE and find it hard to see much of anything with that #)(*@)(*#)(* {many expletives deleted} font they use, which appears to be designed on purpose so that people with astigmatism can’t focus on it, try this. It might help. Note that I may be especially affected — I have one near-sighted and one far-sighted eye, which runs in the family, and the soft contact lens I (sometimes remember to) use doesn’t compensate very well for astigmatism.  All that option really does is expand the font, which can’t be changed, but it did help me quite a bit when I discovered this a few days ago. It’s still very eye-strainy especially at higher resolutions, but it’s not YSH SMASH LCD-SCREEN bad, unless I’m in a crabby mood like today.

Events, EVE, nothing much

I did promise to post every day in July (though you may recall I also rather qualified that promise), but we’ve had a pretty eventful morning IRL so you’ll have to make do with a screenie.

First we got stuck in the jam behind an accident on the way down the mountain on I-40, which looked very nasty (overturned RV among other things), though either everyone involved was okay and standing by the side of the road, or they’d already evacuated the hurt people out by the time we got to pass. A mere 3 police cars and a tow truck involved in that one.

Blah blah errands blah blah — and then we had to hit Kirtland Air Force Base for a few bits and pieces (the spousal unit is ex-Navy) at about the same time as some frothloony was busy shooting almost a dozen people — himself included — at a business not far outside the base. As a result Kirtland got pretty well locked down for a while. Turns out the guy was apparently alone, but when something like that breaks right next to a large military installation it’s not too surprising they go into mega-paranoid mode. One of the things we saw as we sat in the line of cars waiting to get out was a passing convoy of 2 police cars, 2 currently-repurposed school buses, and then 3 more police (or sheriff) cars. Given that it turned out to be a lone gunman and not even on the base, your guess is as good as mine as to what that little caravan may have been about.

We weren’t really anywhere near it, but the ripples spread pretty wide and we were in the area an hour or so after it happened, at which point everyone was still on high alert.

Weird day all round so far, so all you’re going to get today is a screenshot. Treasure it, because you won’t see Ysharros doing much in the way of missions in EVE; I think that one is from one of the intro missions. I’ve finally finished all 5 intro tutors and — aside from marvelling at all the crap you get given as a newb these days, including a Catalyst pretty much just for showing up — I have to say it’s a much better starting experience than it used to be, given the learning curve that game has. As a set of refresher tutorials/missions it was just about perfect; I can’t judge what it would be like for a total newb.

I’ve also started my very first Planetary Installation, but we’ll get into that tomorrow when I have more energy and fewer distractions.

Click for bigger pic

Oh yeah, and {/Columbo voice} one more thing. I’m doing my best to give my ships Culture-like names, because they’re just excellent and Iain M Banks was one of my absolute favourite authors at one point, though not so much in the last few years. So far I’ve got:

— Chain Reaction

— Not So Fast, Bucko

— South Beach My Ass (that would be my Iteron Mark III; they’re not renowned for their slender nimbleness)

— Not In These Heels (a mining ship)

— Poxy Doxy (not a Culture name – it’s a reference from a long, long-ago tabletop ArsMagica game; you had to be there)

… and a few others I can’t recall at the moment. It’s a challenge coming up with good names because you’re only allowed something like 20 or 25 characters, and those go quickly when you’re trying to sound Culture-ish. But I’m damned if I’m going to fly around in “Ysharros Eilat’s Catalyst” or whatever — how ridiculously boring is that? Sad to say… most everyone else I meet is exactly that boring, but I haven’t really left the newb areas yet. Maybe it gets better. Or maybe people lose ships so often they don’t plan on getting attached.

If you play any games where you have to name ships or vehicles, how do you pick? What names have you used? What names would you use? Maybe I can steal some of the better ones. 😉

(EDIT – apologies if there’s RSS freakiness. I hit “publish” by mistake instead of preview and it wasn’t quite ready. My post-fu is weak today!)