13 1/2 years of EVE Online – Part II

The Interstellar Starbase Syndicate was an alliance that pursued a quite unique and in my opinion really cool goal in ’05 and ’06: to make nullsec accessible for anyone.

Nullsec space is an incredibly valuable commodity and always has been. Back then the most valuable moons, asteroids and hostile NPCs were exclusively found out there, so it’s no surprise that many corps and alliances tried to claim as much space for themselves as possible. I assume the term NBSI, “not blue, shoot it”, was penned around that time, because folks were fiercely protective of their territories (‘blue’ in EVE means flagged as a friend or ally).

The ISS wanted to tread a different path. They set out to create truly neutral areas of nullsec where anyone could come and go as they pleased to mine, rat, manufacture or just explore with impunity. To provide some infrastructure for players without the means to deploy their own POSes the ISS even strived to build public outposts. At the time building those was a pretty huge undertaking, hence there weren’t many of them around yet, and those that were usually didn’t allow anyone but their owners to dock.

An IPO was launched in September 2005 to acquire a cool 36 billion ISK for the construction of EVE’s first public player built outpost. It was the first IPO in an MMO ever. It succeeded, and one month later ISS Marginis opened its doors in KDF-GY in the Catch region.

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My first visit of what would become my home for a while

To defend construction endeavours and uphold law and order in ISS space a military arm, the ISS Navy, was formed. I figured this would be a perfect fit for me since I’d already dreamed of being a protector of innocent and law-abiding citizens back in Ultima Online – only it never came to pass because the Felucca/Trammel split had already happened and there wasn’t anyone left on Felucca to protect.

So I packed my stuff again (this will be a recurring theme and is pretty much the only thing in EVE I could really do without), moved into Marginis and joined the Navy.

In the weeks and months that followed I learned how to move and fight in a PvP fleet, what all the commands and abbreviations fleet commanders use mean, how different ships fill different roles, how to setup my overview properly and so forth. I especially learned a lot from an FC named Butter Dog (the name still cracks me up), an outspoken and upfront, but mostly friendly Brit who already had quite a lot of experience.

I also learned how to make and use warp-to-zero bookmarks. Whenever you warped anywhere back then your ship came out of warp 15 km shy, so you had to ‘slowboat’ to the gate, station or wherever you were actually trying to go. This made travelling exponentially more dangerous than it is today, so what you wanted to have was a bookmark created 15 km behind your destination, exactly in line with your respective point of origin. Folders of those bookmarks – once created by some poor sod with too much time on their hands – were sorted by region, copied and handed around. Depending on the amount of systems and stargates we’re talking about somewhere between 500 and 1000 bookmarks for a single region. All that saving and copying of bookmarks put so much strain on the servers that CCP finally gave us warp-to-zero a while later.

Doing our daily duty mainly meant roaming the space around KDF, blowing up or at least scaring away any would-be pirates. While we didn’t call it that our directive was pretty much today’s NRDS: not red, don’t shoot.

It’s been a long time and I’m fuzzy on the details, but I must have performed fairly well because I got promoted to Captain quickly.

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I even got a badge of sorts

Being Captain made me eligible to lead my own fleets – which I didn’t aspire to do to be honest – and take the role of Co-FC on bigger ops.

One such series of ops revolved around the next public outpost’s construction. When the IPO for this came around I invested 200 mil since Marginis seemed to generate nice profits, and I deemed it a project worthy of support in any case. If I remember correctly the shares were all sold within 24 hours, so production was soon to begin.

Huge quantities of resources had to be hauled to the target system, ZXIC-7. Freighters were the tool for that job, by far the slowest and least agile ships in EVE. Today everybody in low- and nullsec uses their jump-capable counterparts, but those weren’t in the game yet. Convoys were formed to carry all resources and parts from wherever they were mined or built to ZX, with all available Navy pilots escorting them.

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Freighters and smaller haulers on the move

The riskiest part was the final construction. Even back then I didn’t know the exact mechanics, all I know is that the outpost could have been attacked and destroyed during its final assembly. Our job was to basically lock the whole system down and make sure that no stranger got in from about 8 AM to 1 PM my local time. Which wouldn’t have been so bad if I hadn’t worked the night shift and only gotten to bed around 6. No matter, I wanted to be there!

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Cargo and Navy ships circling the construction platform aka ‘the egg’

I was given command over one of the squads assigned to camp the system’s stargates. For that duty I boarded my Megathron class battleship, which I had acquired not too long beforehand, and took position at my guns’ optimal range from our assigned gate. During those hours only few ships came through. We tackled and politely asked them to leave the system the way they’d come, else we’d have no choice but to remove them by force. I remember that one pilot started a lenghty discussion about how we had no right to prevent them from passing through. Since they were surely aware that we actually were very forthcoming – anybody else would have blown them to pieces right away – my guess is they assumed we were roleplaying and decided to play along.

No one came to shoot the egg. When the server went down I finally got some much needed sleep, so I wasn’t there when it went up again, but later that day I logged back in and marveled at the work we’d done. Mission accomplished!

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A thing of beauty…well, I guess you had to be there

A couple weeks later I joined another construction defense fleet – we were churning them outposts out now – which was also successful. Shortly afterwards the ISS agreed to take over and manage an outpost someone else had built in EC-P8R, pretty much on the other side of the universe. It’s one of the relatively rare cases where nullsec and highsec are directly adjacent, and such systems are anything but safe to travel through. So most Navy pilots packed their stuff (sigh) and moved to Pure Blind for a while, where we unsurpsisingly had quite a bit more action compared to Catch.

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My Megathron in a mixed battleship fleet of ours

Unfortunately some territorial alliances grew more and more wary of the ISS at that time, and before long reasons were looked for and found to attack us in force.

We had some allies and even hired the Mercenary Coalition to help us defend the outposts, but it ultimately was a fight we could not win, what with being attacked by numerous strong alliances both in the north and in the south at the same time.

All outposts were lost – they couldn’t be destroyed back then, but they were taken over and barred from public use like all the others – and while the ISS didn’t shut down immediately the dream of a public nullsec was effectively over.

It was then that I took my first break from EVE, but the story is far from over yet.

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13 1/2 years of EVE Online – Part I

I didn’t play EVE much during the past six months or so. My relationship with the game has always been kinda on and off since I created my first character in December of 2005 – heck, is it really that long ago?

Anyway, after actively playing the game for a period of time my excitement always wanes and I start looking for greener pastures. But just as inevitably there’s always something that pulls me back in after a while. Sometimes it’s stories about galaxy-wide wars and huge battles, sometimes the announcement of an expansion or a much anticipated overhaul of existing features.

This time around it’s something else. Despite my inactivity I’m still a member of our long-time corp Holy Cookie, and last week our leadership informed us that sweeping changes are afoot. Unfortunately I can’t talk about those yet, but we’re very excited and I’ve been logged into the game every day since then.

As I can’t share that news today I’d like to look back upon my personal EVE history instead. The experiences I had, the people I’ve flown with, the changes the game went through. For EVE veterans there will undoubtedly be some ah, those were the times moments while newer players might find some insights as to what kinds of gameplay this vast sandbox has on offer. Since this will be a rather long tale I’ll split it into multiple parts.

Here goes.

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The second ever screenshot of my first ever frigate

Towards the end of 2005 a friend of mine had already played EVE for a while and tried to convince me and another pal to join him. He showed us a trailer – which looks terribly dated today, but amazed us back then – and some live gameplay. We were hooked.

Following his advice we both created Amarr characters. Lorewise I would have chosen Gallente or Minmatar for sure, but for some reason he believed that only Amarr characters would be able to join the corporation he was in. To my knowledge there never was such a restriction in the game, but by the time we realized that it was too late. Oh well, it’s not like I’ve ever roleplayed in EVE, nor have I ever been asked by anyone why I’ve chosen Amarr.

EVE_History2
Since 2011 I at least don’t have to look like a grumpy old man anymore. Still grumpy though.

That little corp went by the name Tetragrammaton and already owned a little network of player owned stations (POSes) for moon mining, production and ratting. Their main system was N-8BZ6 in the Catch region. So I took what little stuff I had and moved out to nullsec, mere weeks after my first steps into the game.

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Two ships of mine, calmly floating in space with POS modules in the background

Once there I earned a ridiculously low amount of ISK by ratting in a Brutix class battlecruiser, the larger ship seen above. It’s not bad, but with Tech I fittings, Tech I ammo and skill levels at 2 or 3 I was in way over my head. Luckily my corpmates took me along when they manned their battleships and went to clear a nearby level 6/10 NPC complex, which were static at the time and respawned only after the daily server restart. Now that was much more lucrative.

Only a year or so later it would’ve been unthinkable for a meager six-man corp to ‘own’ such a complex. As the playerbase grew competition became increasingly fierce, and eventually the only thing CCP could do to prevent the large alliances from taking all good plexes for themselves was to remove the static ones and replace them with random spawns all over New Eden. In early 2006 though we had that one plex mostly for ourselves.

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At first I even ‘escorted’ their huge battleships in my tiny frigate

Much more interesting and even more lucrative were the industrial activities. The guys had decided to build and sell Hypersynaptic Fibers, an intermediate resource needed for all kinds of Tech II production. We had a couple moon mining POSes running, did some active mining – I just hauled the mined ore to the station in a Bestower because I hadn’t any mining skills – and had to keep the POSes fueled and the reactors running.

During that time I also learned the hard lessons that most EVE players have to learn sooner or later. Lessons like: you will lose a fully loaded hauler at the hands of pirates at some point, even if you’re cautious and warp core stabbed. While something like that isn’t fun for the player on the receiving end I managed to accept that it’s just part of the game, and from then on it felt all the more satisfying whenever I managed to slip through their grasp.

Unfortunately we couldn’t mine one of the required resources ourselves: Dysprosium. Those moons were among the rarest and most lucrative, and there was no way in hell for us to get our hands on one. So we had to buy the stuff on the market. It went pretty well for a while, but after a couple of months the ever rising Dysprosium price cut too deep into our margins, so we stopped production, sold the remaining ores as well as the towers and started to look for new enterprises. It was a great run though, and all told I earned somewhere between 600 and 800 million ISK, which was a fortune at the time, at least for me.

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My trusty Mammoth hauler safely docked up

It actually wasn’t a bad point in time for me to cease the industrial efforts, quite the contrary. I now had considerable seed capital at my disposal, and my character’s skills started to shape up as well. I felt ready and eager to finally engage in PvP!

Next time I’ll talk about how this led to me becoming a member of the Interstellar Starbase Syndicate and earning my first stripes as a space policeman.

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It even kinda looks like a police station, doesn’t it?

2018 in review

My only gaming-related resolution for this year was to stop playing stuff when it isn’t fun anymore, and I adhered to that. Looking back I can say that, yes, I indeed had more fun and less headaches with gaming overall due to that, so mission accomplished.

One consequence was that I alternated between games even more than I did in the past. While that’s not an inherently bad thing it means that I still haven’t found a proper home game.

That being said, for the last two and a half weeks I’ve played the heck out of Black Desert Online again after shelving it in April, and I’m having tremendous fun right now.

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To boldly go…where I hadn’t gone before. More on that soonish.

But let’s start from the beginning, shall we?

From January to April I played mostly Black Desert and EVE Online. In BDO I was very excited about the adventures that I had, and also about gathering, cooking and crafting. In EVE we had some great fights and participated in moon mining for the first time.

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But mostly we just kept shooting stuff

I also mused about randomness, player made music  and non-consensual PvP in MMOs.

In April I started to play Path of Exile again, which absolutely dominated my playtime until mid-August. I talked about how much fun I have playing summoner characters, playing the Incursion challenge league and things that I love about the game in general.

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I also killed Queen Atziri for the first time…only 4 1/2 years late

In June I celebrated my blog’s first birthday.

In August two things happened. One: the venerable Belghast revived Blaugust, and I signed up intending to reach the goal of posting every day during that month, which I managed to do. Two: I returned to Everquest II after a break of almost seven years. I fell in love with it again and wrote quite a bunch of posts about it since then.

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The terrific ‘Crafting Epic 2.0’ netted me this sweet mount a couple weeks ago

During Blaugust I also talked about playing American Football, our participation in EVE’s Alliance Tournament and some more MMO-related stuff like level scaling, soloing and faction grinds.

In November International Picture Posting Month came along, and I posted a couple of themed screenshot collections.

During the year I also expanded my fledgeling columns Memorable Moments, where I share gaming related adventures I had that are special to me, and Stay awhile and listen, thoughts about music that I like.

As I said in the beginning I recently picked up Black Desert again, but I also still play EQII and EVE regularly.

The gaming industry in general and MMO industry in particular gave us a crapton of headscratchers and serious fuckups this year, I think more so than in any other year before. I don’t want to talk about that though, this is supposed to be a positive post after all.

Ok, well, I’ll just say this: yes, Blizzard, I indeed do have a phone, but that’s none of your goddamn business because in my opinion quality games and fucking phones don’t have anything to do with each other!

Anyway. I don’t really have any resolutions for 2019 except continuing to have fun doing what I love, and I feel exceptionally blessed that, barring any disasters happening to me, I’ll be able to do just that.

I wish you all a happy and above all healthy year 2019!

Trying out Co-Op PvE in EVE Online

Last month EVE’s Onslaught update – one might call it a mini-expansion – went live and brought a couple new features with it. The one most interesting to Lakisa and myself is the addition of Abyssal PvE sites designed for up to three pilots working together.

Before this there really wasn’t any type of PvE that worked well for duos or small groups. Sure, technically you can run sites or missions together, but why share the spoils when you can solo everything easily as long as you bring the right ship and setup? For example, my mission running alt handles every level 4 mission currently in the game with ease, and while bringing along another player would speed things up a bit it wouldn’t cut the time in half, so it’s more effective if both players do their own missions by themselves. We’d like to do stuff together though. Also, mission running is boring, no matter if you do it alone or in a group.

So how do Abyssal sites work? You basically open a portal anywhere in space which can be entered by up to three frigate sized ships. This teleports you and your friends into an instance not accessible by other players. Each site consists of three pockets that have to be cleared of all NPCs before you can proceed, and some loot containers. After 20 minutes the whole site collapses, and any ship still inside is destroyed along with its pilot’s pod.

Considering the risk I cooked up some cheap Tech I frig fits for starters, two of which should be able to run tier 1 sites successfully going by early reports. Not wanting to go in completely unprepared I also looked up a bit of info on EVE University’s Wiki on the matter, then off we went.

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My Kestrel heading into the fray

The very first thing you notice is how much more is going on visually than anywhere else in New Eden. It’s quite beautiful. You don’t have much time to marvel at the sights though, because the NPCs are all over you in an instant and the clock’s ticking.

Turns out tier 1 sites really aren’t all that hard, and we didn’t have much problems disposing of the enemies while zipping from one loot cache to the next.

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Passing by a destroyed cache, picking up the goods

There’s not just enemy ships though. Nebulae give penalties to various ship systems if you fly through them, and automated towers have similar effects. There’s even one that attacks drones and missiles when in range.

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Defense tower all guns blazing

All of this doesn’t only affect players, the NPCs also get every bonus and penalty, so you can actually use it to your advantage.

Even with the info we had going in we still needed to learn some things on our own. For instance, Lakisa used a Tristan at first, but her drones missed their targets very often. A bit of research revealed that the penalty “Dark” sites apply to turret optimal range and falloff not only applies to player and NPC ships, but also to drones. So she uses a Kestrel too now when we run Dark sites.

Once all NPCs in a pocket are killed the gate is unlocked and you can proceed to the next, or, if you’re in the third pocket already, back to the spot in normal space where you started.

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Unlocked gate waiting for us to jump through, with another defense tower next to it

You have to be aware that the entrance/exit is visible on D-scan in normal space and can be scanned down by combat probes, so other players could be waiting for you and your loot. In high sec chances for that happening are slim, if you run the sites in low or null sec though – which we have to because high sec’s NPC police doesn’t like us – you should choose your point of entry wisely.

So what’s the early verdict then?

The first couple of sites we ran were tremendously thrilling and fun. No surprise really; it’s new, it’s shiny, it’s quite a bit more unpredictable than other types of PvE, and you’re racing against time. Once you get used to it the effect starts to wear off, unsurpsisingly. Still, it’s much more engaging and exciting than the alternatives. And we’ve just scratched the surface. We’ll take a shot at tier 2 sites soon and work our way from there.

It’s not the Holy Grail of PvE by any stretch of the imagination, but in my opinion that’s not what you play EVE for anyway. For us it’s a way to play together while there’s no PvP going on and earn some ISK in the process, and it’s doing that job pretty well.

IntPiPoMo – Bugs, glitches and other funnies

If you’ve played video games, especially MMOs, for any lenght of time you’ve probably encountered your fair share of things that didn’t work as intended. Getting stuck, falling through the world, physics going crazy, wrong or missing translation, what have you.

Sometimes it’s funny when stuff like that happens, but it can also be a bit annoying if it impedes your ability to, say, progress a quest or even continue to play at all.

Fortunately you don’t have to deal with such consequences if you just look at screenshots of those things happening to me. Yes, I went through all kinds of hardships so you don’t have to. You’re welcome.

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1998 called, it wants its graphics back

This happened to me regularly when I played longer stretches of ArcheAge. I don’t know if it was due to my graphics memory overflowing or whatever, but it looked funny. It kind of felt as if the game had spontaneously transformed into a retro version of itself.

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So this is what pushing up daisies actually looks like

Another one from ArcheAge, this time the old ‘falling through the world’ classic. After I’d dropped through an invisible hole in the ground I was treated to this rather surrealist view. I had to swim quite a stretch to reach solid ground again, but at least I could do so under my own power and didn’t need to wait until a GM got me out of there.

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Again…?

Different game, same drill. This time Everquest II didn’t want me to walk on firm ground anymore and had me literally sink into nothingness.

Over in Path of Exile I tried to complete a couple of league-specific challenges while playing its Incursion League. Whenever you manage to tick one off you get an on-screen notification informing you about it. One day though, I got this:

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Yes. No! Maybe… I don’t know. Can you repeat the question?

In 2010 my EVE Online client occasionally produced the weirdest glitches. The first time it happened I was convinced that my graphics card had just imploded.

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Proof that drugs and gaming don’t mix well after all

Whatever the problem was, it looked completely different every time. I can’t remember if I reinstalled the client or if a patch came out to fix it, but until then I was treated to some really strange sights.

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Holy crap, that’s Matrix code! I knew it!!!

I don’t remember the exact circumstances leading to the next one, but after some kind of teleport or other scripted movement in one of SWTOR’s operations (raid zones) my character remained in this pose. I had to /stuck myself to get out of it. Until then my guildmates had their laughs at my expense of course.

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Guys, lend me a hand, will ya? Guys???

Lastly I have two shots for you that technically don’t belong here because they don’t show a bug or something like that. I’m including them anyway because I think they’re just really funny.

Behold my Final Fantasy XIV Dire Wolf mount.

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If you can unhinge your jaw like that go see your orthodontist right away

I was taking screenshots of my surroundings while my guild assembled for a raid in Everquest II when our Necromancer’s pet suddenly decided to photobomb me without warning.

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OH HI THERE!!

I don’t know about you, but unscripted, hilarious stuff like that is the main reason why I love playing video games.

IntPiPoMo picture count: 9 (this post); 36 (total)

IntPiPoMo – putting the ‘Massive’ into MMOs

It’s been a highly debated question amongst gamers since the dawn of MMOs – when exactly has a multiplayer game earned the right to actually call itself ‘Massively Multiplayer’?

Personally I don’t care much, as long as the game is fun to play. Yet there’s no denying that there are games wearing the MMO moniker where in reality you hardly ever meet another player.

Today I’m going to share some gaming moments that truly put the Massive into the experience, for better or worse. As always, click to enlarge.

IntPiPoMo_TSW1

The Secret World is (or rather was) one of those MMOs where encountering large amounts of players was common pretty much only in it’s hub areas, like Agartha seen above. As long as you were out in the world you’d only rarely meet another soul. In my mind this was actually beneficial to it’s great, gloomy atmosphere, and I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way while questing.

Thankfully though, that loneliness went out the window whenever there were world bosses to fight.

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What do you mean, ‘unfair’?

What looks like total mayhem…was exactly that. Shouts would go out in event chat when a boss had spawned (or was about to get summoned by players) and people would pile into the instance until it couldn’t hold any more. The fights itself were mostly a dance of doing as much damage as possible while continuously dodging the boss’s AoE attacks, many of which would one-shot you. I had to dial down my graphics to potato mode and still had a hard time to dodge or execute my rotations properly, but it was so much fun nonetheless. These were world bosses done right as far as I’m concerned.

IntPiPoMo_APB

Here a couple of clans had arranged a big racing event in APB Reloaded. I had participated in some races organized by my own clan before, which already were a lot of fun. In terms of player numbers this one beat everything else though, and the ensuing chaos was just terrific. My own car is somewhere in there, but I have no idea where exactly.

The rules and race course weren’t as clear and well thought out as they had been for our own races, and most of the time I just tried to tail other drivers who seemed to know where they were going.

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And this is how you dispose of your car when all is said and done

I had an absolute blast and wish such events would occur more often.

As it also doesn’t happen often that we have this many clan members online at the same time we also did a posing session of course.

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Say cheese…no, wait, you gotta look badass! No smiling!

Whenever EVE Online gets big headlines in gaming press it’s either because someone pulled a giant scam or theft, or a massive battle took place.

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Here you see the biggest fight Lakisa and I found ourselves in the middle of so far. It wasn’t nearly as big as those headline battles, which had the upside of the server being more than capable of handling it without time-dilation or hiccups. Still, if I remember correctly there were well over 500 players in system and on grid, so compared to other games it was more than massive.

IntPiPoMo_Aion

Aion is one of the few MMOs I played on release day, and this is the first screenshot I took, right after logging in. All those players shared the experience with me, which unfortunately wasn’t all that pleasant. Somewhere in there an NPC is waiting to give players their first tasks, only that it took him minutes (!) to actually respond when you hailed him due to server strain. When I finally got the quest I couldn’t find even a single specimen of the creatures I ought to kill. It wasn’t a bug or somesuch, there were just too many players for far too few mobs, and it took ages to tag enough for getting the first quests done, even if you grouped up for it. Not fun.

So here we have three instances of many players being in the same place at the same time which, to me, were really great, and one where the high player density actually was to everyone’s detriment. What were your experiences with massive player numbers?

IntPiPoMo picture count: 7 (this post); 14 (total)

150 million skill points and counting

I haven’t played much EVE Online recently. When I decided to finally participate in a fleet roam again last week I was in for a surprise: my main character had just surpassed 150 million skill points, something akin to a round birthday. Seems like a good opportunity to have a look at how I got to that number and what I use those skillpoints for.

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Still a bad egg, but a highly skilled one.

I created the character on December 22nd 2005. At the time characters started with less skills prelearned than they get today, so I couldn’t do a whole lot of anything at first. Since EVE is a very complex game and I was content learning the controls and systems by doing easy low-level missions for a while that didn’t really discourage me though.

Something that did suck were ‘Learning Skills’. Putting in the time to train those did nothing but improve your attributes, which in turn have no other purpose than determining how fast you train your skills. You had to choose between ignoring them, knowing full well that you’d hurt yourself in the long run by doing so, or training them early on, forcing you to wait for days – weeks even – before you’d finally train skills again that enabled you to actually do stuff like fly bigger ships and such. I hope that whoever had that idea isn’t working in game development anymore, because it was pretty much the antithesis of fun.

Fortunately I was intrigued enough by the game to stick through that. I indeed pushed the advanced learning skills up to level 4 very early on and hence trained relatively efficiently going forward. I also started to use attribute-enhancing implants as soon as I got my first ones as mission rewards.

Skill training nowadays can be done more efficiently than ever before. You can redistribute your base attributes once per year, which thankfully are much higher overall since they’ve axed learning skills, and citadels enable you to jump back and forth between clones at your leisure, enabling you to use a full set of +5 attribute implants whenever you’re safely docked up and switching to an appropriate combat clone before an op.

Had my account been active without timeouts I’d have surpassed the 200 million mark by now. I’m not complaining though, with those 150 mil I can do a great many things at a high performance level already.

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Like fly very tiny ships…
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…as well as pretty huge ones.

Let’s have a look at how my skillpoints are distributed by category:

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With the exception of Fleet Support I’d wager that at least 90% of combat pilots have about the same categories in their top ten, more or less in the same order. In a game mainly about internet spaceships shooting each other it’s no surprise really.

A couple of things about my own skills did surprise me though.

There’s a bigger discrepancy between Armor and Shields than I would have thought since I consider both categories as ‘finished’ for my purposes. The explanation lies in the fact that passive armor hardeners, which boost your resistances without having to activate them, are very important for most if not all armor tanked ships, while shield setups pretty much exclusively use active hardeners. Hence I trained the four skills which raise the effectiveness of passive armor hardeners to level 5, while the corresponding shield skills remain at levels 2 or 3. That’s a difference of about two million skillpoints right there.

I couldn’t quite remember having trained Scanning skills on this character at all, but somewhere along the way I obviously did. I think I went on an exploration trip once or twice after I’d researched about activities in the game I’d never tried yet and continued to train those skills for a while. In the end Lakisa liked the feature more than I did, and I completely forgot about having those skills.

I’ve done my fair share of mission running in high sec with this character prior to his pirating days, quite a lot actually, so I definitely should’ve trained his Social skills a good bit higher to maximize profits. I thought that I had, but apparently I always had more important stuff to train.

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It’s all about the connections, man!

When I began preparations for getting my first capital ship, a carrier, I decided to train those skills on this character instead of an alt like most people do. The reason being that I don’t like dual-boxing very much in general, much less in combat situations. In hindsight that was a mistake for various reasons. Capitals just aren’t ships you fly with your main. Because of this he has another couple million skillpoints in skills he doesn’t use, the biggest bunch of it in Navigation. I won’t extract those skills though.

Actually I’ve neither injected nor extracted any skillpoints to or from this character, and I never will. This is ‘me’ in EVE. The character has grown with me, every decision to train certain skills at a certain time was deliberate and has contributed to his adventures one way or another. I’m not going to mess around with that.

Overall I still like this progression system a lot. It came at a perfect time for me back in ’05 when I was seriously burnt out from trying to power-level to the cap in EQII. You need to have patience, sure. It’s also true that a new player will never be able to catch up to my skill total (without using injectors) as long as I don’t stop adding to it. I don’t see either as a problem though.

People tend to forget that the importance of a character’s skills in EVE is greatly surpassed by the importance of strenght in numbers as well as individual player skill. You can contribute to many types of fleet fights with a freshly created character right away simply because you’re not on your own, and a 10 million skillpoint character could (and probably would) beat me in a 1vs1 because I just plain suck at that.

Anyway, here’s to the next 50 million.