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.

Fallen Earth – Head Shot, Baby!

It’s been ten days or so since the spousal unit and I started playing Fallen Earth, and it’s been engrossing enough so far that I haven’t logged in to anything else (read: EQ2) even once. I don’t think I’m abandoning EQ2, but in these last few days I’ve realised a couple of things: one, that I’ve missed games with more sandboxy elements; and two, that I’m a little overstuffed with fantasy MMO fare.

Which means Fallen Earth came along just at the right time — synchronicity, if you will.

Regular readers will know what a raging altoholic I am, and newer readers will just have to take it on faith. My name is Ysharros and I am an inveterate altoholic. This means my progress through games is generally much slower than most, and it also means that my concept of that progress itself isn’t really the norm. I don’t care about reaching the level cap. I don’t care about making a name for myself as El Grande Adventurer or El Mucho Raider. I do care about experiencing as many playstyles as a game will offer, which is partly why EQ2 has been such an enduring draw.

With respect to Fallen Earth it’s a little different. There aren’t a million different classes, for one, since there aren’t really any classes. The game is level- and skill-based, and is deceptively simple. You have attributes (Strength, Endurance, Charisma etc.) from which skills (rifle, armour use, cooking) are derived. Both are capped at a certain maximum value depending on your level. As you gain experience points you also gain Ability Points (AP) which can be spent to raise attributes and/or skills — and in fact should be.

Fallen Earth stats/skills - click to enlarge

So essentially the attributes and skills you choose to raise determine your “class” — if you put tons of points into rifles instead of pistols or melee, you’re a Rifleperson, and so on. The tough thing about that right now in Fallen Earth is that there’s no such thing as a respec*, so you have to decide fairly early on what your character is going to be when they grow up. If you’re a min/maxer this decision is life or death; if you’re a slacker like me it’s less of a headache, but even then I would prefer not to gimp my character into unplayability. (That said, my best Asheron’s Call memories come from my ridiculously gimped starting character and not from the zomgwtfbbquber character I made later on when I knew what I was doing. A little gimpitude builds character. (Geddit?))

Right now Ysharros — the designated smacketeer — is level 7. Altair — one of the crafters — is level 9 and not sure where she’s going, and Eloise — now the main crafter — is level 10. We realised something over the weekend, which is that if you can master all crafts on a single character (and you can, though it’s a lengthy process, since all crafting skills depend on the same 2 attributes) there’s no real need to have two or even *cough* three. Especially when your other half also has a crafter, and your old college friend who picked up a free key also has a crafter and you’re all in the same clan.

Oh yeah, we made a clan. Say hello to the South Burb Trading Company when you’re in Embry! (We might recruit. More anon.)

What this means for my chars is that, ahem, I have too many of them. Altair makes horses and food and languishes by the bank in Embry otherwise, having been pushed out of the top crafting spot by Eloise. (There was hair-pulling.) Ysharros is waiting for all this supposedly super-spanky gear the crafters can make her, except they keep offering her stuff she doesn’t have high enough skill for — though I’m really looking forward to using my new machete. And Spyder Leggz hasn’t even made it out of the tutorial yet.

Which reminds me — I apparently have a bloodthirsty sniper streak. Mort made Eloise (a crafter with rifle skills) a kickass rifle and she’s been shooting… well, just about everything that moves — in the head. Most of the time it doesn’t take more than a few shots. Pop-pop goes the air rifle, crumple goes the distant Blade Dancer. YEEHAH! goes the player at her keyboard. I think I’m going to want “Head shot baby!” on my Tombstone.

Resources have been an issue, but they’re fun to get if you can elbow your way past the crowds. Forget beaches — junkyards are where it’s at in post-apocalyptic Grand Canyon province! Scrap fasteners are used in everything from holding your pants up to holding your gun together. And ants have a really long aggro range.

Got crabs?

Last but not least – the clan. Mort and I almost always make a guild in games we play — assuming one of our older/larger guilds isn’t already present — and this time was no exception. It’s a friends and family guild, literally: there’s us, my old college buddy (and his significant other soon, or so I gather), and a couple of our oldest & best Asheron’s Call buddies. If you’re playing Fallen Earth and you want to join it you need to know a couple of things:

— Dickness won’t be tolerated unless your name actually is Dick.

— If you steal from the clan vaults (which have all the resources) or otherwise act in a dickish manner, we’ll hunt you down, cover you in honey (yes, there’s honey in FE) and feed you to the 3′ ants. Just sayin’.

— My decision is final. I get to be the Despot for this one and I’m going to make use of my Despot stick.

— If you’re a raging achiever you might not like this guild.

Oh and the socials window … isn’t. It consistently fails to notice when your friends are online, or even guildies for that matter. If you want to say hi in game it’s worth trying a tell just in case. Tell syntax is as follows: /tell Singlenamechar Blah blah — or /tell Two Namechar, {see the comma?} Blah blah. My characters are: Ysharros, Eloise Solclaim, Altair Jones and Spyder Leggz.

I’ll leave you with this somewhat disturbing image of Eloise doing the /breakdance emote. There’s a ton of silly dance emotes including /timewarp, /chickendance, /disco, /thriller and many many more. Hours of mindless entertainment! Any game that takes the time to do silly emotes has an edge over the “I’m too fucking serious to do emotes!” ones.

Embry's a tough crowd. Nobody cares about breakdancing!

* There is a respec item for chars created prior to the 1.4 patch, which substantially changed the way buffs and mutations worked. But in general and right now — no do-overs. Get it right the first time, noob!

EQ2: The Provisioner That Ate Sheboygan

Typically, I didn’t find my screenshot key in time and missed out on the “You are now level BlahBlah” popup message and pretty light show, though I expect I’ll live. So, obligatory bragging screenie:

Aside from the bragging, I wanted to share with the other EQ2 crafting types out there that the 80-90 road wasn’t nearly as awfully grindy as I expected it to be — though it’s possible I have a different definition of “grind” than some when it comes to crafting.

It is worth noting that I would never have been able to level Fair this quickly (quick for me) if it hadn’t been for Halasian Empire’s spiffy guild harvesting NPCs: if I’d had to harvest all the stuff I needed myself it would have involved a lot more time and a great many more deaths, though I was glad to notice that Tier 9 harvesting isn’t impossible even if one isn’t max adventuring level. It just requires a bit more patience and a lot more cunning with respect to aggro ranges, and I saw several spots where harvesting was entirely safe.

While I ran out of crafting vitality (think rest xp) rather quickly, and don’t yet have access to the lovely lovely 6-year veteran reward that refills one’s crafting vitality once a week per char, I did still have a bunch of veteran-reward xp potions which gave Fair +55% xp for an hour each. I think I sucked down 6 or 8 of them in the course of getting to 90, mostly because I’m a slacker and keep running off AFK only to remember 15 minutes later that the precious potion is busily ticking down.

The first couple of levels came from doing crafting quests in and around Paineel — I haven’t finished those quest lines, since I haven’t even met the Panda People (aka Hua Mein) yet, but I got tired of having to ride those little platforms over great gulphing nothingness as I went from pillar to post, so eventually I stopped doing those and just went home to the guild hall to do crafting writs. That had two benefits: 1) A lot less crafting lag than I was experiencing in the new zones, and 2) a fair bit of guild xp, which is always nice to get.

It might interest other provisioners to know that the expansion is nicer to us than previous tiers have been. For one thing we get a dozen recipes each level rather than the measly 4 or so we used to get — that adds up nicely over the course of 10 levels, and it’s just plain better to have more stuff to make when you level up. Secondly, provisioner crafting has been fixed to bring it in line with other professions: flubbing an event counter now hurts (somewhat), but countering correctly also restores power, which it never used to do and which was a pain in my crafting backside in the lower levels. Sure, you can palliate that with power regen items like totems, but it always irked me that we weren’t coherent with other professions, with the exception of alchemists who (I think) are still shafted in the power-returning events department.

So all in all, getting Fairuza to 90 wasn’t nearly as painful as I was expecting. Like I said though, I don’t particularly mind doing a crapton (27 this morning, for instance) crafting writs; they provide enough xp, guild xp and personal status to keep me entertained and feeling like I’m being rewarded. Other people’s mileage may vary — I know I’ve heard a lot of people complain about how awful provisioning is, though I’ve never seen it myself. (Obviously, or I wouldn’t have levelled 2 of them on different accounts.)

The best thing of all — and the main reason I was prepared to chain all those writs like a maniac — is that my other characters on that account now have their xp bonus back for having a max-level character. It’s only 10% right now, but it all adds up; the next person I get to 90 will raise that bonus to 20%, and so on up to a max of 50% which really does make those levels fly by. It’s like free t-shirts — no gamer can refuse an xp bonus.

Good luck to anyone else out there levelling crafters in the expansion. And if you’re levelling adventurers, more power to you. I doubt any of mine will ever get to 90 adventuring before the next expansion comes out!

EQ2 Crafting, Part IV: Tips and Tricks

This is likely to be the penultimate installment in the series, with the last article covering harvesting. Previous articles:

Part I — Generalities

Part II — Getting ready to Make Stuff

Part III — The Crafting Process

Today’s article is a catch-all for what I may have forgotten to mention in previous articles, and also for what others mentioned in their comments, many of which were extremely useful. Thanks & blanket credit are due to all those who weighed in. Continue reading

EQ2 – 560 levels of leet

So, despite being burdened by parental visitation, I did manage to get my last character on Account 1 to 80 crafting the other day — 80 is currently max level in EQ2, though that’s only going to last till next Spring or whenever the next expansion comes out.

Before anyone accuses me of achieverism, I should point out that all the characters on that account were created in 2005, and were in fact somewhere around level 30-50 crafting when we stopped playing in 2006 (a couple were even higher). So 7 level 80 characters in 4 years is probably about right for my slackerish ass.

It was sort of a milestone, but I never felt compelled to get there other than to be able to make all the recipes I could get access to — or rather all the recipes I could get access to without a long-ass, chew-your-own-arm-off faction grind. I’ll eventually get most of them their epic thingy and their Master Crafter status, more to be useful to various friends and guilds than for the achievement itself.

And if you’re asking what next — well, there are 9 crafter classes in EQ2 (not counting the red-headed tinkering and transmuting step-children), and I’ve only got 7 chars on the old account, so I’m slowly working on the last two on the second account.

What keeps sort of boggling my mind is how I’ll get asked “But how can you bear to do that? It’s CRAFTING!? Clearly you don’t mind ultimate tedium and relentless grinding!” — By the same people who will stop at nothing to get all their adventuring characters maxed. Where, exactly, is the difference?

Sad fact is, if you get it you get it. If you don’t, then no amount of explaining on my part will convince you that the way I play is fun for me. And I’d better stop before this turns into another playstyle rant.


EQ2 Crafting, Part II: Getting Ready to Make Stuff

Let’s see if I can’t keep this from weighing in at over 10lbs of pure wordage.

Part I is here. This part will deal with the actual process of making things in EQ2. (Actually, having hit the 1800-word mark, this part will deal with preparing to make stuff. The actual making part comes next. I’m doing this to save your sanity and mine!) It is aimed very much at the novice, and I doubt seasoned EQ2 crafting vets will get much from it. So don’t even read it; go on, shoo! Oh, okay, you can stay. But be quiet in the back row there.

Continue reading

EQ2 Crafting, Part I: Generalities

Just about any crafting guide in any game is likely to become longer than the tl;dr crowd can stand, and this one is no exception, even with my skill for brevity and conciseitude (©Stylishcorpse, 2009). I’m therefore going to break this one down into parts, and since I’m adding stuff in as I go along, I’m not sure how many parts it will be. At least two, since I guess a crafting guide really should include information on how to actually craft — especially in EQ2, since it’s not a push-button-and-wait kind of crafting.

Continue reading

Epic crafter is epic

There’s something the EQ2 team have understood that very few other games have: exploring, crafting, lore-chasing and other non-combat activities are playstyles in their own right. Most other games seem to assume there’s only one playstyle: end-game focused, raid-focused, achiever playstyle, and that anything else is just an amusing but temporary side-trek.

Now, before you tell me that combat is what these games are all about and all these games will ever be about — STFU. That’s a failure of imagination and not a failure of the games themselves. Look at oh, I dunno, Hello Kitty Online. I bet that’s not all about fighting. And if it is, I guess I’ll drink my own cup of STFU and raise ya a keg of Puzzle Pirates. Games are contests of some kind, sure, even if they’re only with oneself or against the game itself. Still, contest does not have to equal conflict does not have to equal combat; starting with the same letter is no logical reason either.

Continue reading

Not a free t-shirt (EQ2)

Two posts in one day?! Don’t get used to it.

I’ve been umming and ahhing about doing a crafting how-to for EQ2, mostly aimed at newer players, for the last few weeks. Thing is I know myself, and I’m incapable of being concise even when I’m trying really hard. So I know it’d be a ton of work, and I’m not sure it’d be worth it since there are quite a few very good EQ2 crafting guides already out there.

Like this one — which is more of an OMG Crafter Heaven site than a crafting guide, though it has that too

Or this one — which is part of an all-round indispensable source of EQ2 info. If it’s not in the wiki, it doesn’t exist!

There are far more guides, lists, cheat-sheets and screenshot sites than I could ever list, but I tend to assume that knowing how to use a search engine has become a pretty ubiquitous skill these days, especially among MMO players (it’s not like we’re talking about my technophobic mum here!). The hard part with EQ2 crafting isn’t finding tons of information, it’s finding tons of really basic information that will let you get started.

There’s a crafting tutorial, of course, though how you get to it and at what point in the newbie experience can vary. The tutorial is… well-intentioned, let’s say; I don’t happen to think it’s all that good, but it’s hard to judge that kind of thing when you’re working on your 5th level 80 crafter and have gone round the level 1-10 block about 20 times.

Anyway, I figured I’d leave it up to fickle fate (read: you lot) to decide for me whether I should bother doing a guide, and how in-depth it should be. Besides, don’t we all love polls? They’re almost as good as free t-shirts.

And no, I will not add an I LIKE PIE option. I want this poll to be vaguely meaningful and besides, pie-liking is mandatory. Even for me, and I don’t even like pie all that much.

{YSHARROS exits stage left, pursued by a bear and ravening pie-loving blog readers}