On June 6th 2017 I wrote my first (and second) blog post(s). I had been reading fellow gamer’s blogs for quite a while and been thinking about writing myself more than once, but never got around to it until then.
I didn’t have a specific plan in mind, just that I wanted to write about things that interest me and occupy my thoughts. My target audience: myself, first and foremost. As I said in my first post, I want to capture and hold on to events that delighted, fascinated or just amused me. If anyone happens to stumble upon my musings and finds reading them worthwhile I’m all the happier of course.
The first year yielded 34 entries, almost one entry every ten days on average. This is of course much, much less than most bloggers produce. The main reason for that is my pretty high personal threshold for what’s interesting enough to be written about. While I like to read about fairly mundane things (if it’s done in an appealing way) I very often deem stuff that happens to myself not worthy to write down. I just can’t imagine myself or anyone else being interested in reading about how I did my dailies in Path of Exile for the umpteenth time or that yesterday’s EVE Online fleet went largely uneventful. But maybe I’m just not as capable an author as the good folks whose blogs I always like to read, no matter the contents.
If I do write about something I usually use a lot words though. If WordPress offers a total wordcount of all posts combined I can’t find it, but I’d estimate that I wrote about 800 – 900 words per entry on average, which would sum up to about 29.000 words. That’s not as much as it sounds (an average novel clocks in somewhere between 50k and 100k), but if you had asked me 15 months ago if I’d be willing to blog almost 30k words within a year I would probably have declined politely but decisively.
It seems that I don’t want to talk about stuff very often, but when I do want to talk I like to be thorough (Lakisa would probably use the word ‘exhaustive’).
I’m really glad to have started this blog. Writing is a lot of fun, lets me practice my English and, most importantly, preserves events and experiences I might forget about otherwise. A big Thank You to all bloggers who inspired me to do this, to Lakisa for reading it all and encouraging me, and to everyone who also takes the time to read it. Cheers!
The other day I was ganked for the first time in Black Desert Online.
The main quests had led me to Sausan Garrison, a popular grinding spot for leveling I had already read about.
I intended to kill just enough mobs for the quests I had and then be on my way again. Suddenly I took a whole lot of damage in a flurry of movement and effects, and before I had realized what was happening I lay dead on the ground.
Another player had obviously decided that I was contesting ‘his’ grinding spot and that losing a bunch of Karma was worth having it to himself again.
I respawned and, because I wanted to at least finish my quests in peace, switched to another channel (BDO has one huge server for each region, each with lots of seperate instances of the game world), which worked out just fine.
Was it a pleasant experience? Not exactly. But is the game worse for this even being possible? In my opinion, absolutely not!
I’ve talked about what my idea of a virtual world looks like. The more interaction between players and the environment as well as between players and other players a game allows the more alive and real the world feels to me. It also makes surprising and exciting things to happen more likely.
An example. When Lakisa, a friend of ours and I were about level 30 in ArcheAge our quests sent us to Cinderstone Moore, an area where PvP is allowed most of the time. The three of us as well as some other players in our level range were busy questing when a level 50 player ambushed and killed us all one by one. When we respawned and continued questing he did it again. Instead of giving up and leaving we teamed up with the other players and tried to take him down together. We didn’t actually manage to do so until another level 50 came in and helped us, but it was a really exciting game of one cat versus a bunch of very angry mice, and I had much more fun than mindlessly ticking off one quest after another would have brought me.
Now, of course there have to be restrictions to and/or severe consequences for doing nothing but killing other players all day long, else a handful of sociopaths can and will ruin a game for everybody else. If these mechanics hit the sweet spot between leeway and punishment, between allowing to gank freely and prohibiting it outright, then, and only then, this can not only work, but be actually great.
In BDO Karma builds up slowly by killing mobs and falls rapidly by killing players outside of Guild PvP or Node Wars. Having negative Karma means everyone can attack you anywhere without losing Karma themselves (I think), and if you die not only normal PvE-death penalties apply, there’s also a chance that a piece of gear loses an enchantment level (which can be outrageously expensive to regain). As long as you have positive Karma you suffer no penalties whatsoever when killed in PvP.
The fact that I got to level 57 before being attacked by someone for the first time shows that ganking is discouraged enough to not be a common occurrence while not being completely ruled out. Seems like working as intended to me.
In ArcheAge a track record of your misconducts is kept, and once you’re past a certain threshold your next death teleports you straight to court where five more or less randomly chosen players put you to trial.
The culprit’s criminal record is presented to the jury members who then get to choose a sentence, the minimum charge being Not Guilty, the maximum a certain duration of (online) jail time depending on the amount of transgressions.
My first trial was against a well known PK (player killer) named Kuroda. When there are ten pages of attacked and killed players to flip through you know someone’s been really naughty.
Because he was a repeat offender the other four jury members were obviously in favour of the maximum sentence though…
The ‘RIP Kuroda’ chants in trial chat went on for quite some time, while he already lingered in the prison’s courtyard unable to harm anyone.
In EVE Online there’s the distinction between high security space (abbreviated ‘high sec’), low sec and null sec, each with it’s own rules and punishments (or in case of null sec, no punishments) for PvP engagements.
My punishment for having shot at a lot of people in low sec is that I can’t enter any high sec system anymore without being attacked by police NPCs, and other players can shoot me without any penalties whatsoever even in high sec. Which restricts me pretty severely in moving around, getting lost ships replaced etc. I can work around much of that with the help of alt characters of course, but it’s still enough deterrent for many players to not choose this path. It took more than ten years until I dared trying it myself.
I think these three games handle non-consensual PvP in ways that, while still not perfect, work quite well, and for my taste they would be much less worth playing if they didn’t allow it at all.
Since my last entry I unsurprisingly played a lot of Black Desert and EVE Online again. My resolutions for 2018 notwithstanding I have some goals I’d like to achieve in both games besides just having fun. I’m not super serious about it though, so all is still good and relaxed.
My main character’s security status in EVE has tanked mightily since we joined Holy Cookie. When pretty much all you do is shoot people in low sec it’s inevitable. I have long passed the threshold beyond which anybody can attack me anywhere with impunity, and NPC Police forces attack me in every high sec system on sight.
Once you’ve gone that far you might as well wear your sec status like a badge of honor, which is what most pirates in EVE do. For that just any figure below -5 doesn’t cut it though. You want to get to -10, the worst sec status you can have. It isn’t easy, as the lower you get the more bad deeds are necessary to go any further. I was stuck at -9.99 for about three weeks. Then, finally…
Of course a Pod kill got me there. Normal ship kills hardly ever make a dent once you’re past -9 or so.
So I’m officially a really bad egg now. I have to be very serious about not shooting even a single NPC ever again though, which would bump up my sec status by a good bit in an instant.
In other news, our new monday night doctrine’s DPS ship happens to have a spare high slot, so we now bring a bunch of firework launchers to every fight.
In Black Desert I ignored gear upgrading for a while. I just wasn’t willing to tackle what lay ahead of me: enhancing my weapons to TRI, possibly (probably) having them fall from DUO to PRI in the process. The increase in power from DUO to TRI is pretty big though, so I knew that sooner or later I’d have to do it.
One evening a couple days ago I was about to log out and call it a night. I wasn’t all that sleepy though and decided that I’d play another half hour. I felt pretty relaxed and thought, what the hell, I’ll just go for it. Maybe I was sleepy after all.
I built enough failstacks for a shot at TRI, crossed my fingers and went for it on my Liverto gauntlet. It failed and fell to PRI, of course. So I built a lower amount of failstacks on another character and tried to bring it back to DUO. No luck after four tries! Now that character had also enough failstacks for a TRI-attempt, so I switched to yet another char and built some more failstacks. After a total of six tries the gauntlet finally went DUO again. I switched back to my main for a second attempt at TRI.
Long story short, this process would repeat itself another two times. On the fourth attempt starting at DUO I was “lucky”.
This would have been my last attempt in any case too, since I would’ve had to use up my last weapon upgrade stones for getting to DUO yet another time. I have more than enough silver to buy some more stones of course, but I wouldn’t have bothered in that situation.
I have no idea how much the whole process has cost me, but it sure ain’t pretty. I do realize that four attempts should be about average for TRI though, so I wasn’t particularly unlucky. Which verifies what I had already known going in: I don’t like systems like this. I would’ve happily invested the same amount of resources if it were a fixed price, sparing me the disappointment of failing three times and the aggravation of having to work and spend more just to get to where I had already been before.
Anyway, I’m glad that this upgrade gave me a quite noticable bump in killing power, so it was worth it in the end. If I’ll have it in me to stomach more of this I’m not sure though. Maybe I’ll follow the advice forums and guides give to anybody who hates RNG-upgrading and try to earn enough silver and buy already upgraded items from other players.
I also explored some more of the game world. East of Mediah lies the very dry region of Valencia. It’s center is a large desert. Here monsters aren’t the only dangers that await. By day you need an ample supply of clean water to avoid sun stroke, by night you need star anise tea to combat hypothermia. Both conditions make you lose health regularly and rapidly. I almost died while fighting some mobs for a while and not realizing that I was losing health not just due to damage from them. I saved myself by riding back to Altinova as fast as I could while using health potions regularly. Now I always have water and tea with me.
Another time I visited Calpheon right before dusk, which gave me the opportunity for some beautiful screenshots.
I still love the game despite it’s less than ideal upgrade system. There’s nothing quite like it out there.
My next ventures are going to be the production of gathering tools and life skill clothing. I’m anxious to see how that goes.
Last Monday’s public fleet was the last hurrah for our Wolf doctrine, at least for now. CCP has reworked Assault Frigates and we will do some testing with different boats during the next couple of weeks.
Hence Captain Cean was more than willing to take us into a big fight should the opportunity arise. Why let all those Wolves gather dust in our hangars when they could die in a blaze of glory instead.
After our Scouts caught a lone Arbitrator and an Algos for our first kills of the evening it looked like our wish would be granted. We spotted a mixed gang of Cruisers, Battlecruisers and even an Armageddon supported by two Guardians near Nennamaila. Unfortunately I didn’t save the D-Scan, but I think they were about 20 pilots. We were pretty sure that they’d be willing to fight us.
Alas, for some reason they were not. Before we could catch them at the gate through which they arrived in our system they warped off to the NPC station and docked up. What the hell? We weren’t willing to give up just yet though. We positioned ourselves right at the station’s exit and waited for anyone to undock and hopefully break their invulnerability before docking up again.
When someone undocks they are invulnerable as long as they don’t do anything (like lock someone, stop their ship or change direction for example). If they don’t stop they keep flying in a straight line though, until they eventually leave docking range. Which means that they have only so much time to decide what to do. Checking if someone’s still invulnerable is as easy as trying to lock them. If you can lock them, they’re fair game.
Some of their pilots would poke out their head for a moment to check the situation every now and then, but they were smart enough to dock up again while still invulnerable.
That is, until a Cerberus undocked that we hadn’t seen before. He seemingly wasn’t part of that fleet and had no idea that we were there. He obviously didn’t know what to think or expect of our presence, or he just panicked, either way he became lockable. Cean fired his jump field generator right away. Whatever the pilot had done to break his invulnerability couldn’t save him, and he found himself 100km off station surrounded by an angry swarm of frigates and destroyers. As sadly is often the case the loot fairy said no, but a nice kill anyway.
Meanwhile though some pilots of the other fleet seized the opportunity to undock and warp off. In the course of the next 45 minutes we chased them around the neighborhood. We were going to get our fights, whether they wanted or not.
First we caught a Myrmidon and his pretty expensive pod, a Caracal was next, then a Gila and an Oracle. During these events we used our jump fields in ways we hadn’t used them before (at least I hadn’t), sometimes to great effect. Whenever we chase someone who manages to warp away just in time we try to see where he went and warp after him. But did he warp to zero? Or to 100km or something in between? Normally we all warp at different ranges so that hopefully at least some of us land within tackling distance. This time around we all warped to 100km a couple of times, and when we saw that our target had warped to zero we used a jump field to jump us right on top within seconds. Pretty effective.
The Caracal kill was especially cool. When we arrived at the combat site he was in he had already pulled about 150km range from the beacon and still kept burning out full speed ahead. Cean and I aligned to him and fired our jump fields in relay, as we have done numerous times before. Between aligning and spooling up both jump drives this took about 10 seconds total. Which meant that by the time our second jump was finished he had burned another 40 or so kilometers and more or less bumped right into us when we landed. Even he had to laugh about that.
By now we had a good bit of loot in our cargo holds and it was time for a bio break anyway, so we docked up in a freeport Astrahus in Hikkoken.
We weren’t satisfied yet though. Next up we caught a VNI, then a Devoter, a Brutix and one of the Guardians (loot fairy still didn’t like us).
Then an EVE University fleet of Catalysts and Griffins crossed our path. I guess we were in total-carnage-mode by then because we didn’t even think twice about taking prisoners. Three Catalysts, two Griffins and a couple pods fell quickly. Sorry guys!
Things quieted down a bit after that, until Spike reported a Daredevil that he might be able to tackle. He was two jumps out from us, but Cean told him to go for it and we gave chase. Our second scout, Waleri, was in between and would arrive ahead of us.
Indeed Spike got him and managed to stay out of webbing range at first. His task was to not let the guy escape until we arrived while staying alive himself. A Stiletto is no match for a Daredevil in a one versus one fight. The Daredevil pilot knew his stuff though, and maneuvered himself into web range after a few moments. Bad news. As feared he killed Spike shortly after, but by then Waleri was almost there, and the rest of us close behind.
He managed to warp off, but made the mistake to warp to a medium site where we could all follow. Finally Waleri hard tackled him and our fleet caught up. With several logis on the field there was no way he could be a threat to us anymore, so we just held him down. We wanted Spike to reship, return to us and get in on the kill. Suitable vengeance.
The guy didn’t want to wait that long and initiated self destruction though. Unsportsmanlike conduct, 15 yards penalty! Ahem. Spike didn’t make it back within two minutes. Fortunately he’s still on the kill mail since the Daredevil didn’t leave system after their encounter, so all is good. Finally the loot fairy decided to be on our side for once too, probably to reward our great camaraderie. Almost a hundred million ISK dropped, more than twice the cost of our lost Stiletto.
The evening still wasn’t over. We killed some more small stuff, and, our last kill of the evening, another Brutix. Spike tackled him sitting right at a gate. He hadn’t seen the rest of our fleet, yet decided not to jump to (assumed) safety after Spike aggressed him. Instead he started shooting back. Of course we all jumped through and killed him. A few minutes later a friend of his convoed one of us. He stated that the Brutix had been quite expensive and he deemed it unfair that a bunch of “unskill people” in “crap rifters” killed him. And that we should “repay his ship”.
I’ll leave you with the sound of our reaction to that and a closeup of my Magus and a couple fleet members.
The formup for Monday’s public fleet looked promising. Not only did we have quite a lot of Wolves, our mainline DPS ship of the day, and enough Deacons for reps, we also had three Command Destroyers, two Hyenas and a Keres for support. I joked that when our fleet looks this good we probably won’t find any targets to kill at all.
Indeed our roam started pretty underwhelming. Within the first hour we only caught one lone Stabber.
Desperate for a fight our FC, Captain Cean, contacted our friends at EVE University. When I say friends I mean that we like and respect what they do, and when we meet one of their fleets by chance we normally only engage them when we feel that they have at least a fighting chance. We are pirates, but we are also fully aware that EVE’s biggest problems with player retention are it’s steep learning curve and it’s sometimes pretty hostile environment. Chasing newbros away from the game by mercilessly slaughtering them time and again doesn’t help anyone.
From time to time we arrange scrimmages so that they can have a fleet fight at more or less even odds. It’s good training for them and additional content for us.
This time they had a Caracal fleet already going and were willing to meet and fight us. We turned around and headed for the rendezvous system, eagerly anticipating the fight.
After a couple jumps our scout suddenly reported a neutral gang just one system ahead of us. They had a fleet composition very similar to ours. Since some Caldari Militia pilots were among them we suspected this might be our arch enemy Chichou again. Cean didn’t hesitate for even a second, we gave chase full speed ahead.
We caught up with them at the Oicx gate in Vlillirier. Some had jumped already, about ten still sat at the gate. Cean fired his Jump Field Generator as soon as we landed in hopes of booshing at least some of them off the gate with us.
What looked like some easy kills at first turned into a serious slugfest as the overview filled with more and more hostiles quickly. Their fleet was much bigger than what we had seen, and our position 100km off the gate didn’t slow their reinforcements down much. They probably used their own Command Destroyers to jump right on top of us, I honestly wasn’t able to pay attention to everything that was going on. Chichou was indeed among them.
Despite our early kills the tide began to turn. They outnumbered us a good bit and still had six of their seven logis left on the field. We switched targets often but had a hard time breaking our primaries, each kill took quite a while. Meanwhile we lost four Wolves, one Hyena and the Keres in the course of less than three minutes.
When we also lost one of our Deacons it sure looked like we were going to get wiped out.
Suddenly another group of neutrals appeared on grid. More reinforcements for Chichou or a third party looking for easy kills?
As it turned out Cean had kept Uni’s FC in the loop. And why wouldn’t he? After all they were waiting for us to come and fight them, and were about to get robbed of that opportunity. So they decided to give us a helping hand. Cheers guys!
With their help we gained the upper hand again and made short work of the remaining enemy forces. Some managed to get away, but we made very sure their General wouldn’t be able to.
We saved him for last. Unfortunately his pod escaped, but it felt really good anyway. Cean and I were especially pleased, because he got top damage and I got the final blow.
As expected we didn’t have to go without a hefty dose of salt from him either. While we looted the field he ranted in local about us having set a trap for him and bringing the perfect counter for his doctrine. Yeah, right. Never mind the fact that we did nothing of the sort, or that he started using ‘his’ Wolf doctrine only after seeing us use it effectively, accusations like that are really grand when they come from someone who never takes a fight if he doesn’t have the clear advantage.
Besides, the Battle Report shows that even with EVE Uni’s and our fleets combined we didn’t quite match the numbers he had. Again.
Which makes us the clear winners of a relatively even fight. Thank you EVE Uni for being the cool guys you are! Thank you Chichou for…not running away quickly enough this time, I guess. Be sure we’ll hunt you down whenever we get the opportunity.
Wrapping things up here’s a screenshot of the fight with the UI turned off and zoomed in a good bit. Unfortunately it’s still hard to make out any details, but at least it looks pretty.
Yesterday we met up again to mine some ore. Since last week I got the Mining Director and Industrial Command Ships skills to level 4 each, so the fleet boosts I applied were a bit stronger this time around. The biggest chunks of training are still to come though, since learning a skill from level 4 to 5 takes substantially longer than levels 1 through 4 combined.
I made sure to be in the right system at the right citadel in time as I wanted to keep my promise to deliver screenshots of a chunk of moon being blown up.
It’s quite a sight. After numerous engine upgrades over the years the game looks pretty great, explosions are no exception. Too bad the game is played with the camera zoomed out very far most of the time. It’s necessary to keep track of everything that’s happening, but it’s a shame nonetheless.
We weren’t as many people as last time, so it took a good bit longer to mine everything of worth. Every now and then someone would join Teamspeak in hopes of some PvP happening. We had some laughs as every ensuing conversation went like this: “Hey guys, what’s happening?” “We’re mining, mate.” “Uhhh…I gotta go.”
We hung in there until the end. I played a bit of Black Desert, read some blogs and prepared this piece on the second monitor while keeping a half eye on the EVE client, changing position when rocks were depleted or watching the scanners when a neutral showed up in local. A low-excitement activity for sure, but also very low-maintenance.
In the end I had mined minerals worth about 150 million ISK. Considering that the Porpoise has but a fraction of a Procurer’s or Retriever’s mining capabilities, especially because I can’t use Tech II mining drones yet, that’s not too shabby in my book.
Even so I look forward to blow stuff up again during tomorrow’s public fleet. In the end it’s all about the pew pew!
I started playing EVE Online on December 22nd, 2005. Since then I had used a mining laser to extract ore from an asteroid exactly once, and even that was just two years ago when I made a new alt and tried the revised New Player Experience, which included learning how to mine.
I had never actually mined for real, is what I’m saying. This changed last Friday.
In October 2017 CCP launched the Lifeblood expansion, which included a drastic overhaul of moon mining. Instead of collecting the ore passively the new player owned structures blow a chunk out of the moon in question and blast that into many smaller pieces, essentially creating an asteroid belt that has to be actively mined by players.
We placed a couple of Athanor refinieries at moons in our region of space, and to reap the benefits we now have to form mining fleets regularly. Some pirates we are, eh?
A proper mining fleet needs fleet boosts, just as a combat fleet does. The sub-capital ship for that purpose is the Porpoise Industrial Command Ship. Since I already had all non-mining related fleet boost skills maxed out I thought what the hell, I’ll learn those skills too and contribute to our mining efforts.
I managed to get the Industrial Command Ship skill as well as the Mining Director skill each to level 3 ahead of Friday, allowing me to fly the ship with reasonable stats and use the Tech II version of the mining command burst modules.
We met in tethering range of our Athanor and waited for the citadel’s pilot to push the button and blow the asteroid to pieces. I had the game’s UI turned off and my finger hovering over the print screen button. Alas, there was nothing to be seen, although the chatter on Teamspeak suggested that it should have been. As it turned out I was sitting all alone at the wrong citadel. Doh! I’ll make sure to take screenshots of it next time and post them here.
When I finally met up with the fleet the asteroid belt was already waiting for us.
Since we had two Porpoises we split up into two groups with one booster each and warped to seperate clusters of valuable ore. Boosts were applied, and mining lasers and drones began their work.
Granted, the process isn’t the most exciting or engaging. Asteroids are mined until depleted, then the fleet moves on to the next batch of rocks. When a ship’s ore hold is full it warps to the citadel, unloads and warps back in. This repeats until we have scooped up all valuable ore. We also have some defenses in place of course, which I won’t disclose here.
It isn’t nearly as boring as I would have thought though. The main reason is of course that we do it as a group, chattering about whatever is on our minds and keeping ourselves entertained. As long as at least some people keep watch we can even play something else or watch videos in the meantime.
I really didn’t think that the day might come, but, yeah, I’m mining in EVE Online. Well, moon mining to be precise. In my opinion it’s a fun group activity that rewards a nice sum of ISK for your corporation and/or individual pilots. I wouldn’t want to do it every day, but enjoyed in moderation it’s a neat and rewarding variation of the standard routines.
I’ll continue to train the related skills until they’re maxed out, and I’m looking forward to our next op.