Quitting EVE Online – For real this time (question mark?)

I’ve been wanting to write this post for a while now. It’s been a fair few months since I canceled my main account’s subscription, although I admittedly hadn’t made any final decisions at that point yet. In a way CCP made that decision for me a bit later on, when they decided to raise their subscription price by a third back in May.

I know, I know, writing “I quit”-posts is lame and all that, but this is kind of a big deal for me. I created my main account and -character on December 22nd, 2005. Fricking two thousand and five! Yes, there were breaks in between, but I’ve played this game for a hell of a long time. I’ve seen – and been, at times, part of – empires rise and fall. I’ve been a manufacturer, trader, policeman, mercenary, pirate and lowly fleet grunt. Features came and went. Things changed, and we all adapted. This is truly a game like no other.

However, for me personally many of the changes CCP have made during the past couple of years resulted in a game that’s become less and less enjoyable to play, and along the way my willingness to adapt has all but vanished. EVE has always been a game you had to put work into in order to get to the enjoyable bits, and each and every time I took a break it was because the tedium had started to outweigh the fun. Well, by now the tedium has reached a point where I just don’t want to deal with it anymore at all, and the game’s become more expensive to boot. So, yeah.

Now, of course I could just leave it at that, but since this is my own personal platform I’m also gonna use it to tell anyone who’s willing to listen (well, read) which changes in specific made the game so much worse for me. Keep in mind though that I’m not saying reverting these changes would make the game better per se, I’m just saying it would make the game better for me.

    • The big Cyno change

Almost three years ago CCP drastically reduced the selection of ships a Cynosural Field Generator could be fitted on. Before that you could fit this device, used to provide a jumpdrive-destination for capital ships, to almost any vessel, which meant that even as a solo player you could move your capitals around with almost no financial risk (provided you didn’t make any mistakes, and making mistakes is very easy in EVE). Since the change you have to use at least a Force Recon Cruiser, which means that you’re forced to put upwards of 300 million ISK at risk – per jump.

Not even taking into account the fact that you also need to have your cyno alts trained up to the point where they can even fly these things, this change alone put a hard stop to any activity that would have required to move a capital ship on my own.

So no carrier ratting for me anymore – which I’d only just begun to do, goddammit – but even more importantly, no more moving all my shit without the safety of a whole fleet. Ever since then life in null sec has become a huge bother for Lakisa and myself, because we know that we absolutely can’t risk missing any move ops else we might get stuck. We also can’t get stuff into or out of null without using the services of a shipping company, and I’ve always liked to do these things myself (and it was cheaper that way too of course).

I know that this change has brought its upsides when looked at on a bigger scale, but for me as an individual it sucks big time.

    • The economic starvation plan

Not very long after the cyno change CCP began their assault on too much wealth and stuff and everything being too easily obtainable in the game (their opinion, not mine). In their usual way of sledgehammering every perceived problem into an unrecognizable pulp they heavily nerfed mining outputs, ratting payouts, the efficiency of the once strongest mining ship and probably some more stuff I can’t recall right now. The value of minerals soared to all-time highs, and naturally prices of ships and, well, most player-manufactured goods (which is almost everything) followed suit.

Now, it is true that out in nullsec it could feel, at times, like pretty much everybody had their army of Rorqual-alts as well as their own Supercarrier and/or Titan. However, I can assure you that such was not the case. I certainly didn’t have any of that, and a substantial percentage of any fleet’s regular grunts didn’t either.

Still, I’m not saying that they shouldn’t have done anything. Some kind of change probably was needed. The way I see it a better way would have been to somehow incentivize more usage of caps and supers, so more of that stuff would have gotten blown up. Their solution led to much less caps being fielded instead, because most people were too afraid to loose them all of a sudden.

Worse for me personally – and for many more I’m sure – is that the “little man”, as usual, got affected just as bad as the trillionaires, if not more. The fact that the nerfs were primarily aimed at capital ships, which are all Tech I hulls, meant that other Tech I ships got a lot more expensive too – only that those are actually supposed to be the “cheap stuff”. Suddenly flying battleships instead of Tech II cruisers wasn’t the much more affordable alternative it once was anymore. Aspiring to own one of the big toys some day, a daunting task even before all those changes, has become entirely unachievable for the average player.

As for income, since the cyno nerf effectively took carrier ratting away from me my modus operandi for ISK-making was pretty much back to “run level-4 missions in highsec”, and let me tell you, when that’s your only viable income stream you really don’t want to buy, let alone lose, anything of value. Yes, there are other things I could have done to earn some more ISK, but I didn’t want to do those things, simple as that. The game felt like a job at times even without any additional busywork.

CCP can argue that doing this was necessary all they want, it has made the game less fun, end of story. I don’t know about you, but in my opinion any change developers make to their game should make the game more fun, not less.

    • More focus on (and power to) the cash shop

You know what I dislike even more than seeing a beloved game getting worse and worse? Seeing that and also being bombarded with cash shop advertisements, every new “opportunity” being more pay to win than the last.

I don’t give a damn whether it’s Pearl Abyss pulling the strings in this regard or not (because what difference does it make?), fact is that the cash shop is being shoved right in our face at every opportunity nowadays, and you can pretty much buy everything your heart desires. Yes, even skill points. Not that it matters much ever since the introduction of skill extractors, because PLEX is a thing and you could always sell that for ISK and then buy injectors with those.

As you know I generally don’t consider cash shops to be the spawn of the devil per se. But the bottom line is this: to me EVE Online in 2022 is a game that’s as unfun to play as it ever was since I started, has a higher subscription price than any other MMORPG on the market (as far as I know) and seemingly cares more about selling me shit I don’t need than entertaining, let alone humoring me as a player…nuff said I guess.

Of course the timing couldn’t be worse, what with Goons getting a new leadership just recently and declaring the time of stalemates to be over. There might be interesting times ahead.

Oh well, I guess from now on I’ll just be one of those guys who keep saying that watching the goings-on in EVE from the sidelines is a lot more fun than actually playing the game.

I’ve said that before though, so we’ll see.

Blaugust 2022 post count: 2

Games I’ve played for 500+ hours

The other day Wilhelm had a post up about games he has played for at least as long as the developers of Dying Light II claim it takes to play their game to 100% completion. It’s a good read, and thinking about it I realized that it might be interesting to have a look at my own gaming history from this angle too.

The difficulty here is that I’ve never actively tracked how much time I’ve spent with any particular game, so if I haven’t launched it through Steam and the game itself doesn’t have a /played function either I can basically only guess. Hence I will sort them into categories of differing certainty, like Wilhelm did.

So let’s see…

Definitely have played for 500+ hours

    • Everquest II

This one is a no-brainer. EQII is easily my most played game of all time. I was the most active between 2006 and 2008, when it was pretty much the only game I touched, and I tended to play very, very long hours more often than not. Additionally, even before and after that particular time period I’ve spent a lot of time with this game over the years, and I can prove it: EQ2U says I have clocked 1,959 hours on my Warlock alone, so…yeah.

    • EVE Online

I created my first account and main character in December 2005, and while I’ve taken numerous breaks over the years only one of those was actually long enough to say “I’m not playing that game anymore” – and even then I eventually returned to have my longest and most active streak yet. Consequently, even without having any hard evidence, I’m absolutely certain that I’ve played a lot more than 500 hours of EVE.

Most likely have played for 500+ hours

    • Diablo II

As I’ve said numerous times Diablo II is one of my all time favourite games period. I actually wasn’t quite as hooked and therefore didn’t play as extensively as I’d expected right at launch, but by the time I’d burned out on Ultima Online towards the end of 2001 the Lord of Destruction expansion had come out and improved the game in every respect. This time there was no stopping me. It then became and remained one of my most-played games up until about 2010 – in fact it’s one of the very few non-MMORPGs I’ve played at all during that time period. The recent release of Diablo II Resurrected added at least another 30-40 hours to the tally, so yeah, it’s highly likely that I’ve crossed the threshold here.

    • Ultima Online

Speaking of UO, hoo boy, was that game a revelation. My gateway drug into MMORPGs, if you will. Starting in June 2001 I was late to the party, but I more than made up for that by playing every waking moment (literally, except when I was at work) for the next six months or so. Unfortunately I was so into it that I couldn’t stop myself from trying to level up dozens of skills on multiple characters each and every day, so I burned out and bounced off of it pretty hard. I returned after a thorough break and played on and off until a little game called Star Wars Galaxies came out, and that was that. Regardless, in total I should be over 500 hours of playing time, though maybe not by much.

    • Star Wars: The Old Republic

Weirldy enough I almost forgot to include this, although I’ve assuredly played it for more than 500 hours. The thing about this game is, my itinial enthusiasm waned pretty quickly, and I most likely would have quit much sooner had it not been for the great guild we were in. Except for some really well designed and fun raids all good memories I have about the game have almost nothing to do with the game itself and everything with this group of people. Anyway, it makes the list easily.

Probably have played for 500+ hours

    • Star Wars Galaxies

Like UO this is another game I really loved but still didn’t play for as long as I initially thought I would. As much as I like sandbox MMOs, turns out activities like gathering, crafting, housing or (light) roleplaying alone can only entertain me for so long, and unfortunately SWG didn’t have much else to offer at the time (at least to me). Again, just like with UO I played very extensively during the first few months though, so I assume it just about makes the cut.

    • ArcheAge & ArcheAge Unchained

I’m lumping these together because, well, they’re basically the same game with different business models. I’ve played each iteration quite a lot for the better part of a year, so I’m actually pretty certain that it’s been well over 500 hours in total. However, in this case I have next to no “feel” for how long I’ve really played for some reason, and no way to verify it either, hence its appearance in this category.

    • The Secret World

One of the truly great and unique MMORPGs, unfortunately underappreciated by many players and mishandled by Funcom, it never had a chance to reach its full potential. I loved it exactly like it was however, and consequently played it an awful lot.

    • Genshin Impact

My most played game from fall 2020 to summer 2021 by a wide margin, so yeah, pretty sure it’s been over 500 hours.

And there you have it. Which games did you ever play for 500+ hours?

Still dreaming of a white Christmas

We’re coming up on the eleventh Christmas in a row without even the slightest trace of snow where I live, so I’m once again going to accomodate myself – and you, if you like – by posting a bunch of winter-scenery screenshots as a consolation.

So put on your virtual mittens, it’s going to get cold.

I’ll start off with Black Desert Online once more, because damn, does snow look good in this game. I love how it even covers the appropriate parts of my character.

In the real world there is no ice or snow on Venus, but in Warframe there most certainly is. It’s not my favourite planet in the game by a longshot, but that’s mainly because of the enemy faction that’s residing there. The planet itself, especially the open world zone Orb Vallis, is gorgeous.

Space is always cold and dark? Cold yes, but definitely not dark, at least in EVE Online it ain’t.

I’m not certain whether this has something to do with the currently ongoing holiday event, or if metaliminal storms can look like this all year round, but seeing it basically snow in space was a sight I sure wasn’t expecting.

Dashing through the snow in ArcheAge. No sleigh though, just one horse.

Star Wars Battlefront wasn’t a very good game, but the graphics (and sound too) were pretty amazing. It really felt like being in the middle of a huge battle on Endor or, in this case, Hoth.

This is what a winter’s night in 14th century France looked like, at least according to A Plague Tale: Innocence. Really makes one crave for a hot mug of mead at the bonfire, doesn’t it?

Arknights has its share of winter stages too. I especially like how even the enemies’ clothing fits the theme.

My operators always look the same however – luckily for them this game isn’t one of those bent on skimpy outfits, as you can see. SilverAsh (the guy with grey hair and cane) even wears a coat with fur collar, so all is well.

One of the great things about Genshin Impact is that pretty much nothing you see is just a backdrop – if it’s there, chances are you can actually get to and set foot on it.

The same is true for the mountain you see in the background up there. You can even climb all the way up to the top. It’s not just a mountain either, it’s actually a whole region with its own quests, puzzles, treasures and enemies.

It’s also the only place on this list where the cold has an actual effect on the player: staying there and not being near a heat source fills up your cold meter. Once that’s full you continuously take damage and will die if you don’t act on it. I admittedly don’t like mechanics like that very much, but hey, at least the snow isn’t mere eye candy this once. Also, you can cook and eat goulash, which halves the rate at which your cold bar fills up for a while. I like goulash!

And there you have it. Merry Christmas, everyone!

EVE’s wretched hive of scum and villainy finally looks the part

If you’ve played EVE Online at any point during the past 15 or so years you’re well aware that the NPC station Caldari Navy Assembly Plant located at Planet IV Moon 4 of the Jita star system is the game’s major trade hub most players use to buy and sell their wares. And scam, and lie, and cheat, obviously. Hell, even if you’ve only heard or read about the game chances are “Jita 4-4” means something to you.

Despite its huge importance to the community the station looked like just another Caldari station for the longest time, on the inside as well as the outside.

Well, not anymore.

About half a year ago CCP completely remodeled the station’s exterior, and I think they did a pretty good job. It looks sprawling and busy, with electronic billboards plastered everywhere.

The thing is though, the station isn’t actually looked at much from the outside. As a matter of fact most arriving players dock as quickly as they can, and warp the hell off right after undocking when they leave again. The reason for this, of course, is the fear of suicide gankers.

The opposite is true for the station’s interior however. Thousands of characters basically live there. I assume more ship spinning happens in Jita 4-4 than any other station, so one might argue that in order to give players something nice to look at this should have been the priority.

Anyway, the wait is over now. A couple of days ago the station’s bowels followed suit at last. As I don’t log on my Jita alt often these days I’d probably missed it if not for Wilhelm. Which would’ve been a shame because I think it looks glorious.

Now, I know that there are much more important things CCP’s devs should be working on. Nevertheless I applaud that they took the time to do this because, for me, EVE isn’t just ‘spreadsheets in space’. It’s a virtual world, and while immersion doesn’t come easy in a game where I can’t run around and identify with an avatar, stuff like this definitely helps.

I’m sure the effect will wear off soon enough, but for now I’ll spin my ship in Jita 4-4 again from time to time, which I hadn’t done in quite a while.

Another Keepstar bites the dust

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Screenshot completely unrelated to the events depicted in this post

If you have so much as a passing interest in EVE Online you’re probably well aware that there’s a big war going on right now. While Wilhelm has posted quite a lot about his own involvement, all of it well worth a read, this is the first time I’m going to even mention it.

It’s not that I haven’t been on any ops since the war started. I just hadn’t deemed anything I’ve been part of so far interesting enough to write about.

The northern front, which is where we (PanFam) are fighting, has not seen much resistance during the first weeks. I’ve been part of several fleets to reinforce or destroy enemy structures and added two more Keepstar-killmails to my personal tally in the process. Some of these ops were long, tedious undertakings, yet during almost none of them we encountered any opposition whatsoever. I might have just been unlucky however.

In any case, during the past two weeks or so the excitement has ramped up considerably. The more we advance towards the border between Fountain and Delve, the more serious the enemy gets about defending their stuff.

Their most important system in Fountain is Y-2ANO. They need that foothold in the region because the distance between it and the neighboring system in Delve is so huge that ships can’t use their jump drives or be bridged by a titan to get to the other side. We already tried to destroy their Keepstar there and had it reinforced once, but unfortunately we screwed up the armor timer and have to start over. We’re not going to make that mistake twice! I hope.

The Keepstar in O-PNSN didn’t fare that well. Both shield and armor had already been stripped away, so yesterday we set out to make it explode. It isn’t nearly as close to Delve as Y-2ANO, but word had it that they were going to defend it anyway. I sure hoped so.

I had my main ready to go in a Ferox, our subcap of choice for most structure fights, and my alt in a dreadnought, hoping for a chance to finally use it. The three-month-insurance’s expiry date is August 23rd, and I’ve yet to fire a single shot with that damned thing.

The subcaps were bridged into O-P, and as soon as the system loaded my overview went completely red. They were going to defend all right.

EVE_O-P2
Gathering at our Fortizar, looking at our target and its defenders

Our tactics didn’t differ much from that in Y-2ANO, only that this time we didn’t have a regional gate to lock down at the same time, hence our carrier pilots sent their fighters towards the Keepstar right away. Those and a fleet of Ravens would shoot the citadel while all other fleets, mostly Feroxes and Jackdaws, provided cover.

Goons and friends had a lot of stuff on the field. Rokhs, Feroxes, Praxises, bombers and ECM-bursting interceptors as well as the Keepstar itself tried to make life as hard as possible for us. Oh yeah, and heavy TiDi too, which goes without saying for this kind of battle.

Killah Bee was FCing our subcap fleet, and at first it looked like we’d be sitting tethered on our Fortizar all evening. But eventually he warped us onto some targets sitting right at the Keepstar.

EVE_O-P3
Aligning back out to our Fort in potato mode

We picked off some ships who weren’t tethered while not losing much ourselves – although our logi wing was pretty busy keeping our Jackdaws alive if I interpreted the cursing from the other side of the room correctly – then we warped back out.

We gathered at the Fort and chilled for a while, but before long we went in again. By now they had undocked a couple of dreadnoughts and FAXes, and of course we wanted those juicy kills.

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Dreads and lots of tiny subcaps inside a warp disruption bubble

We’d just started to shoot some targets of opportunity – the dreads were in siege mode and not going anywhere any time soon – when a wing of Praxises landed right on top of us and started cycling their smartbombs.

I was well in range of at least some of them and started taking damage. This is where TiDi becomes a really painful experience because that damage came in very slowly, but my efforts to turn away from them, fire up my microwarpdrive and overheat my hardeners came to fruition just as slowly, and I wasn’t sure whether I’d manage to get out of range in time or if I was just watching my demise in ultra-slow-motion. The fact that Ferox pilots were told not to broadcast for reps as our logi had their hands full with the Jackdaws again didn’t help either.

Just when my shields dipped below one third damage stopped coming in though. I’d finally made it out, phew. Once you’re out of its range there’s not much a smartbombing battleship can do to harm you, so we stayed on field for a while longer and destroyed three dreads, a FAX and lots of subcaps before returning to our Fortizar once more to regroup. Killah’s Monitor as well as one or two dozen other ships had been lost and their pilots had to be bridged into system again after reshipping.

All the while the fighters and Ravens kept shooting at the Keepstar, and it was slowly but surely going down. It was below 10% when our fleet went in a third time.

Not to be surprised by the Praxises again we started to spread out at full speed just after exiting warp, and sure enough they came in, right on top of Killah Bee. Due to our preemptive maneuvering almost no one took serious damage though, and we pretty much ignored them and shot at squishier targets instead.

Whenever we were actually able to target anything, that is. I mentioned ECM-bursting interceptors above, and those took run after run at us now, firing their AoE ECM right after landing and instantly warping away again. And guess who was piloting one of them…

EVE_O-P5
I can now say I’ve been burst-jammed by a fellow blogger, isn’t that nice

Man, that shit is so annoying in TiDi! Please don’t do that again! 😉

We still managed to kill some more targets, among them another FAX piloted by Grath Telkin, who is kind of a Goon celebrity as far as I know. Not quite as flashy as that one time when I got the final blow on Asher Elias – ratting in a Myrmidon no less, shame, shame – but you take what you can get, right?

Of course we also made sure to shoot the Keepstar to get on the killmail, and soon™, as in just over four hours after forming the fleet, it went boom.

EVE_O-P6
No explosion in potato mode, just a low-textured wreck

We stayed on the field a bit longer and killed off the last remaining stragglers, then took a bridge home.

EVE_O-P7

Going by the battle report losses were pretty even if you don’t count the Keepstar itself. Given the defending team’s rather big advantage that’s still a win for us, however we outnumbered them heavily, so there’s that.

Still, we won the objective and didn’t lose two hundred Ravens this time, so op success x2. More importantly though, despite having to chew through a metric ton of hitpoints during heavy TiDi it was quite a lot of fun – although, to be fair, our fleet wasn’t the one doing the chewing – so thanks to Goons for showing up, and please more of the same!

How about today? Still a bit of time left to blow up my dread before its insurance becomes void…

Going after Goons again – EVE Online

A couple of weeks ago NCDot and Pandemic Horde deployed to Pure Blind, which brought us relatively close to space currently owned by The Initiative. They belong to the Imperium and thus, no matter how much they like to talk up their independence, are nothing more than another Goon pet-alliance to us.

Fighting Goons is always a good thing, however this particular deployment has left me rather cold thus far, which is why I hadn’t posted about it yet despite having partaken in several fights already.

The thing is, I don’t quite understand what we’re after here. I know, I know, getting fights and blowing up Goons should be more than enough to make me happy. I like to have at least a vague idea about our strategic objectives though, and while the average line member obviously doesn’t ever learn all the details we usually get to know what our grand goal is.

When we went after GotG last year we clearly knew our goal: to eviscerate and wipe them off the map completely, which we did. Clear objective, clear win-condition. Felt good.

Doing the same to the Imperium is out of the question though, they’re just too large for that. Also, if this was supposed to be an all-out offensive the whole of PanFam would’ve deployed and we also would’ve brought our Titans and Supers along. However Pandemic Legion didn’t join us on this one and we left the big toys at home. So, really, I have no idea what we’re actually trying to achieve here.

Anyway, fleets are going out every day, and I’ve been on a bunch. This is also the first time I’ve brought my alt with his Dreadnought along, and for most fleets I had him logged in and ready to go.

F7C_1
Ferox battlecruiser on my left screen (zoomed in quite a bit), Revelation dreadnought on the right

Alas, I’ve yet to undock him as we haven’t actually commited our Dreads to a fight whenever I was around.

As is always the case in EVE, whatever does or doesn’t happen mostly depends on where and over what you’re fighting. If we stay in relative proximity of our staging system – meaning that we can drop Dreads and Carriers onto the enemy at a moment’s notice – and aren’t attacking something important like a Keepstar they mostly choose not to commit to a fight and let us shoot the thing uncontested, like these two Fortizar class citadels.

F7C_2
Another one bites the dust…

If we dare venture further south however we find ourselves in range of their Titans and Supers, which dramatically shifts the balance of power in their favour and makes bringing our caps to a fight a very risky move as we might well lose them all without actually accomplishing much.

Determined to get things done regardless we set out on Sunday to destroy an Ansiblex jump gate and a cyno beacon in F7C-H0, the very system in Cloud Ring that serves as Goon Expeditionary Force’s staging at the moment, which is their We’re not officially at war but some of us still want to do PvP-stuff sig.

Horde went with Hurricanes, we brought Feroxes. I’m pretty sure the cheaper battlecruiser-doctrines were chosen because this was regarded a suicide mission from the get-go. A second fleet for our caps was formed and ready to go too though, so we would’ve been able to escalate quickly had the fight looked promising for whatever reason.

It actually didn’t look too bad when we arrived. Goons had a Sacrilege fleet, Init brought a sizeable force of Abaddons and Bhaalgorns. We were outnumbered, yes, but we’ve seen worse. Also, TEST showed up too, obviously wanting a piece of the action, and while some of us were shot by them they seemed to be mostly focused on Goons. We’ll obviously take reinforcements, whether invited or not.

As usual when we face off Goons I wondered whether I would meet Wilhelm Arcturus on the battlefield this time around, and lo and behold, there he was amidst the Sac fleet, flying logi as usual.

F7C_3
Blue and purple: good. Red: bad! Grey…who knows?

He was never called primary by our fleet though, so I luckily didn’t have to shoot at him. He’s done his own report of the battle too, which is worth a read of course.

Anyway, the fight began with the usual dance where fleets circle each other looking for a good warp-in. It didn’t take long though, and once we warped right into Init’s fleet and bubbles went up all around us we knew that the slugfest was on!

F7C_4
An Abaddon dies, next target already locked up, drones shooting the Ansiblex

From our perspective it even looked quite good for a while as we destroyed one Abaddon after the other while not losing much ourselves. As it turned out, though, that was because Horde’s Hurricanes took the brunt of the enemy fire at first. Meanwhile what we’d feared from the start happened: Goons brought their Supers and Titans to the field. At that point the fight’s outcome was decided, the only question was whether any one of us would make it out alive at all.

We lost all of our fleet boosters first, then they proceeded to decimate our logi wing. At that point the order came for everyone to align to the Alsavoinon gate and overheat our microwarpdrives. As Alsavoinon is a lowsec system no warp disruption bubbles can be launched there, so making it through that gate would probably mean getting home in one piece.

Only that we were still up to here in bubbles, and the still pretty strong Abaddon fleet was right in front of us…

F7C_5
My Ferox heading almost straight towards all those baddies

Every time we got halfway near the edge of the last bubble a Goon interdictor landed right at that edge and dropped a new one, lengthening our path to safety by another 20-25 km. To conserve capacitor and keep the MWD running as long as possible I’d already disabled my shield hardeners a while ago, but no one aimed their guns at me yet. Others weren’t so lucky, and Lakisa was one of our last Basilisks to go.

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The bubble’s edge, so close and yet so far away

And then no more dictors came and some endless moments later I was free. I frantically hammered the warp-button until my client finally got the message that I indeed had entered warp. My sigh of relief was cut short however as the gate wasn’t far away and heavily bubbled too. Of course. Another 40 km to go, with an enemy fleet sitting right at the gate. Again I set my course and overheated the MWD, convinced that those ships would soon start to blink first yellow then red, heralding my demise. No one even locked me though, and soon enough I was in range and hit the jump-button. I was too excited to pay attention to alliance tickers at that point, but in hindsight I assume that fleet must’ve been TEST’s Zealots, which would explain (more or less) why they didn’t blow us to pieces.

So yeah, I truly survived and returned to our staging with a nearly burnt-out MWD but otherwise unscathed not long after. I guess that particular Ferox is my lucky charm as it wasn’t the first time I made it out of dire straits while piloting it. Astonishingly almost half of our fleet reached our safe haven intact, but, again, the enemy had probably just been too busy picking Horde’s fleet apart.

The funny thing is, although we took a severe beating Goons didn’t actually commit their big guns quickly enough to save their structures, and both the cyno beacon and the Ansiblex went boom. So, op success! Ha! Kind of, anyway. They obviously anchored new ones right after the fight was over, and the battle report shows, unsurprisingly, that they won the ISK battle by a fair margin.

So I guess in the end everyone won. Ain’t too bad of an outcome, really.

Time flies when you’re having fun

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As per tradition: moar cake!

Hard to believe, but today marks this here blog’s third birthday.

Had you asked me back then whether I thought I’d still be writing blog posts three years down the road…I really don’t know what my answer would have been.

One thing I do know for sure though. Had you told me at the time that I would publish 187 posts with a total of 156 thousand words, and still no end in sight, I’d called you crazy. But here we are.

The main reason, of course, is that it is a lot of fun. Much more so than I would have imagined. It’s also an ongoing learning experience. When I compare my first couple dozen posts with more recent ones it’s almost as if someone else had written the former. It’s remarkable how quickly human beings can learn stuff that’s rather alien to them and become at least somewhat proficient just by doing it over and over.

Along the way I’ve even learned a bit of HTML-code – I didn’t want to, but WordPress made me – which may come in handy…or not.

What didn’t happen was blogging becoming my true love and/or main driving force. Towards the end of Blapril Bhagpuss said that he’d rather write about games than actually play them, at least at the moment. To me actually playing the games is still much more important, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. After all the desire to chronicle my gaming adventures was and remains far and away the main purpose of this blog.

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Speaking of which, this third year has indeed been quite an adventurous one, not least due to the release of ArcheAge Unchained in October. Sucker for sandboxes that I am I’ve been deep-sea fishing, building a family empire with friends, trading, making music and generally goofing around quite a lot since then.

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Warframe was last year’s new addition to my gaming library, and a really great one. While it’s obviously neither an MMORPG nor a sandbox it has a surprising number of gameplay elements on offer that aren’t just about killing stuff. I’ve built a custom gun, went mining and fishing, composed deadly tunes, played Guitar Hero In Space and tried myself at parcours.

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The third game I’ve spent a lot of time with was EVE Online. I went back to nullsec, experienced my first Keepstar-kill, saw a faction Fortizar blow up and went to fight inside wormhole space. In April we would have finally made a trip to Iceland and attended the EVE fanfest too, but of course that didn’t happen. Maybe next year.

Finally, about a week ago Lakisa asked me, quite unexpectedly, about an MMORPG we hadn’t been playing for a couple of years. Honestly, I’d had heavy-heartedly made my peace with the fact that I’d never play it again some time ago, what with the reboot it got in 2017 that, in my opinion, was totally uncalled-for and ‘improved’ an outstanding game very much for the worse. Turns out, though, that the original version can still be played and even has a couple handful of players.

So yeah, we’re back.

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Looking stylish as ever…

Don’t be surprised to read some stories about a supposedly dead game around here in the near future. Year number four, here I come.

Op success…more or less

After all that preparation it was finally time for our attack to commence on Thursday evening. The system’s residents used a Fortizar class citadel as their main base, which we set out to reinforce (by depleting its shields) first, in hopes that the armor timer would come up on Friday, and the critical structure timer on Sunday.

We warped over to the Fort, anchored up and opened fire.

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Of course our incursion hadn’t gone unnoticed by now, but the home team didn’t come out to play. At least one of them manned the Fortizar’s gunner seat and pestered us with bombs and ECM bursts, but that slowed us down by just a bit. Reinforcing citadels without capital ships or a huge subcap fleet takes quite a while, but we got the job done.

Unfortunately it turned out that we had been a bit too late to set the armor timer for Friday, instead it was to come out on Saturday evening. Which also meant that the final timer, should it come to that, was going to be on Monday. With many of us grounded due to the pandemic we hoped that enough people would be able to make it though.

We proceeded to reinforce an Astrahus and an Athanor, then we were basically done for the night. Our next opportunities for combat would be our own Astrahus hitting its pre-anchor vulnerability window on Friday evening, and their Fort’s armor timer on Saturday.

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Astrahus under heavy fire

That didn’t mean that there wasn’t anything to do until then though. Probably the most important factor when fighting over w-space is who controls the routes in and out of the system. It’s what EVE players call ‘hole control’. Now that I type it out I realize how…weird…that actually sounds.

Anyway, they who control the entrance- and exit-wormholes basically control the system because the opponent can get neither reinforcements in nor their stuff out to safety.

In k-space this would mean camping the stargates, and we did camp the wormholes from time to time.

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Our gang from one of our battleships’ point of view, sitting at a wormhole

Even more important is regularly ‘rolling’ the holes we don’t want or need to control though, which means making them collapse by sending more ship-mass through than it can bear. Of course you don’t want to get any of your ships stuck on the wrong side, and it’s quite a science to get it right. The process involves high-mass battleships as well as heavy interdictors, the latter of which can fit modules that, when activated, reduce the ship’s mass to almost zero.

Like I said, all of this was pretty new for most of us, and mistakes were made. None of those proved to be critical though, and we had things under control for most of the weekend. Our targets helped quite a lot with that though because, unfortunately, they didn’t seem willing or able to defend their home.

They didn’t show up on Friday, so our Astrahus went online uncontested, and we reinforced another couple of their citadels.

Of course we had high hopes for a fight over their Fortizar’s armor timer on Saturday. They did show up this time, but all they brought to bear was a gang of about 15 Jackdaws. Those shouldn’t have been a threat to us at all, but they actually managed to destroy one of our Guardians because its pilot didn’t have his shortcuts for broadcasting set up correctly. We scared them off after that though, and the Fort’s armor melted pretty quickly under our fire.

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Not least thanks to our Leshaks’ insane DPS

Sunday was a rather uneventful day with us bringing some latecomers and ammo replenishments in and continuing to uphold our control over the system.

Attendance for the final timer on Monday was ok, although we were a bit shorter on logi pilots than before. It didn’t really matter because the defenders didn’t show again. The Fortizar went boom and that was that.

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Unlike citadels in k-spcace those anchored in a wormhole don’t have the luxury of asset safety, so everything that hadn’t been snuck out dropped for us to pick up. There wasn’t much of worth, but at least the Fort’s salvage netted us a nice sum.

On Tuesday we got everything and everyone out, back to highsec.

Quite an anti-climax after all that build-up, wasn’t it? Sorry about that. Not quite what we had imagined for sure. But, as I said, it was still pretty exciting. This wormhole stuff is so different, it’s hardly the same game.

Lakisa and I are definitely looking forward to our next deployment.

Blapril 2020 post count: 3

Well begun is half done?

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Preparations for a normal fleetfight in EVE Online’s nullsec-space are usually very simple. Log in, join fleet, read MOTD, hop into your doctrine ship of choice and wait for further instructions. If you don’t have one for whatever reason, chances are the contract market is well stocked with fully fitted ships and you just need to buy one.

The ramp-up for our new SIG‘s first deployment looked quite different. While nullsec alliances are used to tackle every problem by throwing more bodies at it, wormholers, out of necessity, very much operate under a ‘quality over quantity’ mantra. Since we weren’t planning to bring the whole alliance – where would have been the fun in that? – we knew we’d have to bring our A-game to stand a chance.

The first huge distinction awaited us before we even knew which ships we’d be going to pilot: implants. Capsuleers have a wide variety of cybernetic augments to choose from. The catch is that, once plugged in, they can’t be removed anymore from that particular clone, and if your pod is destroyed while using that clone, so are all implants.

Since the target system applies a hefty bonus to armor hitpoints to all ships in it the decision was made that every combat pilot needed to have a full set of at least mid-grade Amulet implants, which give another considerable boost to a ship’s armor HP.

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Believe it or not, we actually managed to dry up Jita’s supply of mid-grades and had to substitute with high- or low grade. That’s just shy of two billion ISK worth of implants I have in my head there. It’s a pretty weird feeling to undock knowing how expensive that pod is, let me tell you.

At least that last implant wasn’t new to me, as I was chosen to fulfill a role I’ve been in a lot during our time in Holy Cookie: fleet booster. Our ship of choice for the armor- and information-boosts was the Damnation.

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Is it a bird? If so it really needs to change its diet…

I won’t go too much into detail about the rest of our fleet’s composition for obvious reasons. Let’s just say the ship fittings had to match the implants’ quality. Where the Tech II variant of many modules almost always suffices for a nullsec fleet, we used at least faction mods, with some deadspace items thrown in there too. Man, that shit is expensive.

Once we were all set the train left Jita, headed towards the first of a route of wormholes that led into the target system at that point in time. I’m still really bad and slow at probing for wormhole routes, hence I hadn’t volunteered to do that kind of stuff on our first deployment. Of course some folks are very good at it already, and those heroes had spent a good chunk of the afternoon to map out that route.

Another thing to consider was how we were going to operate while in the hostile system. There are no neutral stations in w-space, and the normal practice to let a freighter or jump freighter haul construction kits for a citadel or two wasn’t going to work. Enter deep space transports.

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How did that tower fit in there? Err…space magic!

Those things are specifically designed to haul cargo through hostile space, and they are small and fast enough to take the route of wormholes along with our fleet. A couple of those were enough to carry materials for a good old POS and an Astrahus class citadel into the target system. The POS was to serve as our base of operations during the 24 hours it takes for an Astra to anchor.

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Our temporary shelter in an otherwise hostile environment

Once the citadel was placed and the POS finished anchoring we were finally set for action. Up to this point the operation had already been much more exciting than what we normally do, and we all couldn’t wait for the next phase of our plan to begin.

Blapril 2020 post count: 2

Breaking new grounds in EVE Online

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Reading Wilhelm’s tales about the various special interest groups (SIGs) he’s been in over the years as a member of The Imperium has always made me feel a little bit envious.

Instead of always doing stuff at alliance- or even coalition-level those groups are a bit more specialized, which, I imagined, can give their members a somewhat greater sense of purpose. They are also smaller, naturally, so people get to know each other better and possibly become more of a close-knit group and thus a more efficient fighting force.

Of course you can’t really compare Goons to NCDot – or any other alliance for that matter – but I always thought it would be cool if we had that kind of thing too.

Now, we do have regular activities on corp-level in Blank Space. Those are mostly done in cooperation with some out-of-alliance entities though, which unfortunately makes them feel even more anonymous to me than basic alliance stuff.

Lo and behold, as if someone had read my mind, about two weeks ago the founding of a SIG was announced, open to all NCDot-members. Conceived and led by Killah Bee the idea is to give interested pilots access to an exciting and, for many of us, new type of content: fighting over wormhole-space (w-space).

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A wormhole daring us to jump into the unknown

Wormholes have been a part of New Eden for many years now, but I think it’s safe to say that the majority of players has only ever utilized them as a faster means of travel, if that.

The thing is, if low- and nullsec are EVE’s wild west, w-space is basically hell’s precipice.

Systems in w-space are not accessible by normal means of travel, namely via stargates or jump drives. They can only be entered or left through a wormhole – hence the name. Inconveniently those things aren’t always at the same place though, and they don’t always lead to the same destination either. After a certain total mass of ships has gone through in either direction a wormhole collapses, and even if left alone they vanish after a certain amount of time.

Wormholes also don’t show up on your overview unless you’re already on grid with them, so if you don’t have one bookmarked you have to use scan probes to find it. No probe launcher equipped? Well, good luck getting back to known space (k-space) again.

Yes, you can actually get stuck in w-space. If you can’t get out by yourself and don’t have help you might be forced to self-destruct. It’s an option that always remains, but depending on your ship’s and pod’s value that might hurt quite a lot.

On the other hand, if there’s a fight going on in there and someone else destroys your pod you’ll wake up in k-space too and might not be able to get back in to help your mates.

It’s a complicated matter to say the least. As usual EVE Uni has an extensive guide if you’d like to know more.

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Due to all this life in w-space is a wholly different beast than anywhere else in New Eden. Nullsec-residents like us and ‘wormholers’ have pretty much nothing in common, which is what our new SIG is all about: getting fights on a smaller scale while using completely different ships, fittings and tactics than those we’re all so very used to.

This past weekend we had our first deployment. A 100-odd strong corporation living in a C4 w-system was chosen as our target, and our goal was to evict them from that system and loot all their stuff. Such is life in New Eden, no?

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Our main object of desire, not yet knowing what was to come

Stay tuned for debriefing.

Blapril 2020 post count: 1