Sunday, 24 January 2016

Every cloud...

I like to pretend I know what I am doing. That I have a plan and an objective. But sometimes I do wonder. The key thing I was planning on this weekend was to make some ISK. In an earlier post I described why and how I was going to do that. But then Eve happened. 

Flying my alt hauler/trader I was dipping into Lowsec from Hisec I got ganked by a gate camp. Lowsec has seemed more populated recently so perhaps I could have chosen my route with more care. But I would like to think it was them getting smarter rather than an error on my part. I've lost count of the number of gate camps I have cruised past in a blockade runner. For some reason, I wasn't able to cloak, I got instalocked and proceeded to die. PvP is a binary thing with a blockade runner. You slip past or you don't. The truth is actually I don't know why I failed this time but until there is a pattern I don't intend to put too much thought into it. I can improve the align time though so for you shipfitters out there I am now going to be running with this fit:

Nanofiber Internal Structure II
Nanofiber Internal Structure II
Damage Control II

50MN Cold-Gas Enduring Microwarpdrive
Adaptive Invulnerability Field II
Adaptive Invulnerability Field II

Covert Ops Cloaking Device II

Medium Low Friction Nozzle Joints II
Medium Low Friction Nozzle Joints II

Feel free to laugh. According to EFT, this gives me an align time of about 3.3 seconds which is a slight improvement on what I had before plus has the option of the MWD Cloak trick if I come across a Null/Wormhole bubble. There are a lot less hit points with this fit but if you are in the position of relying on hitpoints you are likely already dead as I found out. The Damage Contol unit is there for any smartbomb damage which has happened to me a couple of times in the past. There is scope to add a core probe scanner or festival launcher as appropriate.

All of this however is minor detail and inconvenience. The big picture was I was supposed to be making ISK and now I was down one blockade runner. Fortunately, I hadn't been entirely stupid and had unloaded the cargo before going to Lowsec but it still wasn't an auspicious start. 

So I need to buy a BR and originally aim to go to Jita to buy one thinking it would be the cheapest. It isn't. Not by a long way. But Amarr is. Too cheap infact. Someone is dumping them it seems. I need to get there fast. I really don't why but I decide too look at local Leopard prices because I heard they were fast somewhere. They are cheap too compared to Jita. I buy one. So now I am down some more ISK and still don't have a blockade runner. 

The journey to Amarr was quick and uneventful and I buy a lot of Prowlers. Mainly because they are cheap but I also need to have more in hand if I get ganked again. I then contracted Red Frog to carry them to Jita for 17million ISK (more expense!) and flew to Jita in the Leopard. I am beginning to think this could all go horribly wrong at this point so while waiting for the cargo to be delivered, I reluctantly sell the Leopard for a very good profit. The Prowlers duly arrive and I sell 4 of them in quick succession making a profit of nearly 50 million on each sale - basically the cost of 2 Prowlers I continued to sell more for a few hours and I ended up well ahead of where I planned to be.

All good things come to an end  and eventually, other traders caught on and the price dived. Having made the profit I needed I helped the price crash. It would be rude not to, So all in all a strange weekend, I got the right result I needed but it is hard to be smug because I couldn't have imagined I would have achieved it the way that I did. 

Monday, 18 January 2016

Skill Trading Because?

So CCP have faced the harsh reality that it really is a new year and have knuckled down to work. Today they got to "S" on the must do list. Skill Trading in New Eden. The dev blog doesn't offer much more in the way of changes from that proposed before Eve Vegas. A slight appeasement to the vets to allow them to monetise more of their brains and we also now know it is going to be released in February. 

What we also got was An update on the roadmap and the start of 2016 from CCP Seagull which is always refreshing to see. I'll come to that in a bit.

Now I am no fan of the Skill Trading proposition as I have said before. On a personal level I would actually benefit from it - insta cyno alt or something like that for example and I would probably be able to outbid a Newbie for the skill points, which kind of defeats one of the arguments put forward for this feature. So it is not as if I would feel disadvantaged by this being in the game. But that isn't really the point of discomfort I have about it. I'll try to explain why.

Fundamentally, it is not clear to me Skill Trading is needed - or more specifically why this has been given such a priority. CCP_Seagul gave a passionate explanation about the reasoning for it at Eve Vegas which you could possibly accept at face value and leave it at that. But to my mind it didn't explain the priority given to it and the resources it must be consuming when there are so many big changes happening. What we are not hearing is Devs singing its praises and certainly players weren't clamouring for it before it was announced. It is hard to see it being a huge revenue stream, so the return on investment is also hard to see. You can only surmise this has to be a strategic decision coming from above for some unspoken purpose. What would that be?

I can only speculate so tinfoil caveat massively applies, but today's video, welcome as it was, did not describe anything beyond the end of April if you assume that is when the Citadel expansion lands. It wasn't a road map update. Just additional information to what is already known. Cynically I would say it was citadel eye candy plus some recent features to sweeten the Skill Trading message. Nice but begs the question what happens after April and why sweeten the message because the idea has not had universal disapproval by any stretch of the imagination. Put the two together and there must be a phase 2 to this Skill Trading feature later this year would be my thinking.

My guess is that Eve will adopt the free to play (F2P) model later this year. That would be the phase 2. It is the only thing that seems to make sense. Subbed/Plexed accounts will become premium accounts and F2P accounts will have to pay for training either though the market or Aurum would be my first guess. I have no way of verifying this obviously and could well be wrong. It is a big and likely controversial undertaking if it were to happen so the development silence would be appropriate. CCP does need to refresh its user base and it is an established business model so I am not necessarily against the idea (but I do have reservations). 

What I would be strongly against is CCP misleading people with one feature when in fact it was a precursor for another. People could make gameplay decisions based on the Skills Trading feature that might disadvantage them when the full enormity of a F2P came to pass. That would be switch and bait and wouldn't do wonders for the player trust they have built up recently Obviously, I could be totally misreading the tea leaves here. But then ask yourself why has CCP_Seaull pushed this so hard and why is next year's roadmap such a mystery? Interesting times perhaps. Anyway, back to the asylum... 

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Flotsam and Jetsam

It started as a light clean up of bits and pieces across the map. That was the idea anyway. I had splurged some ISK on some 'things' and my wallet was broadcasting for reps. It was time to top it up again by liquidating a few assets I have accumulated. You know, those really essential things I had to buy for a reason I cannot now remember. My Eve life seems to mirror my real life. I know exactly where everything is - or at least I do until Mrs Kong gets her mitts on them, but they aren't exactly in a reasonable place. "Where is the sun lotion?" "I left it in China darling" sort of thing. Now I have the Orca  it was time for it to earn its keep. In other words, scoop up my stuff and then flog it. 

Life in the Orca is slow compared with the other more nimbler things I fly. You get time to look at the scenery as you travel which is no bad thing. Eve is beautiful. You can have too much of a good thing though. Gawping at Caroline's Star for too long makes the tinfoil too strong to handle and  I convinced myself there is a letter-box in Caroline's Star now. No one else seems to share be delusion though so I guess I will have to live with my madness. Anyhow, here is a screenshot of my delusion:

Moving on... and then there are planets. They are also stunning, especially near a gate or a station but they tend to be the embarrassing relative we like to ignore in Eve. Apart from navigation, bombardment (yeah, quite), parking a POS (soon to be RIP) and planetary interaction (PI), you can safely ignore them. You can't hide behind them and there are no local effects for example. It's a bit of a shame in a way. And that is when I got diverted off plan. 

For reasons I thought were sensible at the time, I decided to move my PI colonies to a different location. I originally set them up ages ago and after a few months forgot about them. They were slightly profitable but the income was not sufficient to invest a lot of time in compared with some of the other things I was doing at the time. Now if and or when I set up a wormhole, PI would be a useful line as it is more profitable there and if organised properly should be a good passive income stream. Time to take PI seriously I decided. First problem. I had completely forgotten how to do it. After several youtubes and blogs later, I figured out how to open planet view. Progress Second problem. What to make. This is somewhat easier if you ever read Foo's Eve blog. He does the spreadsheets so you don't have to bless him. Third problem, choosing the right  planet with reasonable POCO tax is very time consuming. PI really is horrible So there went my weekend, and I have succeeded in scattering my worldly goods even further across New Eden. But at least I enjoyed the view and know where my new productive colonies are now residing. But that might not be entirely helpful.

Saturday, 9 January 2016

Yay Orca

This is not my comfort zone. I am going to actually talk about a spaceship for once. So for balance:
“Nearly one-quarter of all orcas captured for display during the late sixties and early seventies showed signs of bullet wounds. Royal Canadian fighter pilots used to bomb orcas during practice runs, and in 1960, private fishing lodges on Vancouver Island persuaded the Canadian government to install a machine gun at Campbell River to cull the orca population.” ― David Kirby, Death at SeaWorld: Shamu and the Dark Side of Killer Whales in Captivity
It was something like this sentence I had in the back of my mind when way back god knows when I started training to be a Orca pilot. Basic training only takes 2 or 3 weeks. This by all accounts allows you to become a black and yellow pinata ripe for the beating by those Hisec bad boys and girls. Its an expensive pinata too. 700 million ISK expensive. So to narrow the odds I have done a whole load more training.  This allows me to fly the following fit for travelling:

[Orca, Travel]
Reinforced Bulkheads II
Damage Control II

Adaptive Invulnerability Field II
500MN Y-T8 Compact Microwarpdrive
Cap Recharger II
Cap Recharger II

Improved Cloaking Device II
[empty high slot]
[empty high slot]

Large Transverse Bulkhead II
Large Transverse Bulkhead II
Large Transverse Bulkhead II

This is basically Gevlon Goblin's hauler fit plus the addition of an Improved Cloaking Device II. The cloakiness is something I will need in the future and having that skill will allow the pilot to fly other things if required. If you discount the Gallente Target Management Skills and the Medium Drone Skills then I am at Mastery III and about 20 days away from Mastery IV. I am never sure that means much but the Shield Tanking and Navigation Skills are good.

Of course if I was solely intending on using the Orca as a hauler then there are probably better alternatives. Although for now that is precisely what it will be doing, in the future I am hoping it will have a more fruitful role in wormholes (hence the cloak). For the moment it will be doing the short  paper round collecting bits and pieces from my fulfilled orders around Hisec for example. I will avoid the interhub and low/nullsec runs and use either Prowlers or Tengus for that, or Redfrog for the bulky stuff.

Well I said I would avoid the inter trade hub runs... but first I had to get it out of Jita. Jita was of course being Jita. That was fun. Remember this was a new character so I hadn't set up the overview or anything. Being bombarded with achieved opportunities, windows all over the place, camera shudder, explosions and no insta warp was a tad distracting and possibly not the best idea I ever had. Once I had loaded SaraShawa while on the hoof and remembered to turn on the Adaptive Invulnerability Field and then remembered to pulse the Microwarp Drive, my heartbeat returned to clinically responsible levels. The Orca aligns and warps in around 10 seconds if you use the MWD trick - much better than the 50 seconds which seem an eternity without the MWD.

Anyway, I somehow managed to arrive at my destination without completely embarrassing myself so another step on the journey. Hopefully I can avoid the Royal Canadian Air Force as I travel in future.

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

New Track: The Learning Cliff

Over the holiday break I had a bit of spare time so took the opportunity to make a new Eve related music track. I decided to make it a bit of an old school EDM number to reflect the age of the game. I borrowed a few Aura clips naturally. I called it the Learning Cliff so I guess in a way the music represents that journey. Anyway, it was good to be able to get the chance to make this. Time is such a short commodity right now. If you have the time you can give it a listen if you want :-)