Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Interruption of service.

For reasons that may not be entirely mysterious to the three of you familiar with my current locale, my internet access is fubar in extreme proportions these days.

This is mostly due to the local power grid being out of whack to such a point that continuity of power supply to telco routers in town can no longer be taken for granted… to give you an idea, our house is rigged tri-phased (aussie-style), and thus the nominal entry voltage at the meter (for everything to work smoothly) is expected to hover around 400v, while anything below 350v at the meter will prompt the whines of the UPSes in the office.

Right now, I get circa 320v at the meter, and rarely above 330v at any time close to local peak-consumption hours — it ain't good enuff for anything except laptops, which can somewhat surf this light air.
The laser printer/copier is useless, and so are the desktop computers unless you want to run them without a backup UPS (bad, bad idea). Even the wireless router/modem fails to milk enough juice from the wall socket to stay alive when the grid power is so low, thus our only hope is the diesel generator… which happens to have gone tits up every other day for the past month (replacement underway, but etatbd).

To sum up: an average of 3 power outages a day, at non-predictable hours, each lasting 2 to 5 hours (averaging 3h), sub-standard juice when the grid is not down, plus dead-ish generator  translate in me being offline most of the time, which means no EVE-ing of the in-game sort, and by association, a much decreased interest in EVE Offline™, too.

I'm still toying around with some new content for 'EVE is broken', but at back burner intensity, so don't hold your breath: it may last up to two months before I regain access to reliable inet.

Tomorrow is Xmas, luckily the oven and stoves here are gas-powered all, so we're looking at a feast, even if it's by candlelight: enjoy yours, too, if you're into that sort of thing.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

DevBlog #722 — Xmas Gift

Normally I wouldn't post about the yearly holiday gift, but I'm making an exception because: a)  this one is actually a cool gift as it has in-game purpose, which makes it both a collectible and a nice (eventually) rare in one's inventory ; b) it does look like almost like an actual spaceship could/would which is a nice surprise in itself ; and c) because I'm still working in the background and I really don't have much handy to fill this downtime.

The Zephyr does look so totally cool, it's not in the item db yet.

So, make sure to at least pretend to log in once on each account, sometime from December 18th to no later than January 6th, hit the Redeem Items button on the character selection screen (seriously, you don't even need to actually get in game), select which toon on the account you want to gratify with this goodie, et voila: your character of choice is now the proud owner of a NPC-invisible wormhole probe-ship (unless it's bugged, in which case you still got yourself a cool looking vanity frigate).

Monday, December 14, 2009


Updates have been few and far between the past few days, sorry about that: I'm working on a couple series, tidying up and putting things together in a less rambling format than the recent large ones.

Meanwhile, CCP is releasing patch 0.3 for Dominion, which apparently doesn't include fixes for the SBU glitch:

Due to an issue making outposts and infrastructure hubs vulnerable to attack without the attacker having adequate SBU units it is considered an exploit to attack if you do not have enough SBU units in the system, please see this forum thread for more information.

I don't really feel like going 'I told you so' about the current sovereignty mechanics woes, because predicting Dominion sov would be a mess deserves about as much credit as foreseeing the coming of night after dusk. …besides, there isn't much to observe just yet about the impact of this new design on the map: whatever effects we see so far result from the combo of bugs and post-expansion fever you'd expect of any rushed release, thus Dominion as a ruleset can't be fairly judged on track record for now.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Capital Ship Maintenance Bays

[Editor's note: I'm back after a few days off, sorry about the lack of advance notice, RL happens.]


As previously mentioned in the entry about supercapitals overhaul, and in the Canned Heroes series, one of the limiting factors to the adoption and use of (super)capitals as ship-carriers is how unwieldy Ship Maintenance Bays (SMB) are. This is also true of POS-bound Ship Maintenance Arrays (SMA), which suffer from most of the same restrictions.

What I'd like to propose here is rather simple: treat SMB and SMA much like stations' ship hangars, and whenever applicable, make the same features and services available.

Here's what one could expect to find in a SMB/SMA:
  1. Ability to park one's ship as-is, with all cargo, and secure it: within the limits of the bay/array capacity.
  2. Ability to board/debark: while inside the bay/array.
  3. Ability to fit/unfit: likewise, from within the bay/array.
  4. Ability to load/unload ships: that's cargo, ammo, fuel, drones, whatever — without having to launch first.
  5. Ability to unpack/pack ships: seriously…

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

CSM up, TQ down.

The 4th CSM has started.
…actually it has started about a week ago, but I only just noticed the news item on EVE-O today.

From what I can tell this isn't the worse coucil composition ever, although I'm a bit sorry Helen Highwater / Iain Compton didn't make it, and by a hair at that… knowing my fellow EVE players, there's reasonable hope one of the presently elected will be stupid enough to abuse his CSM seat *and* get caught.

The general turnout was pretty low at 7.36%, Finland stole the participation ribbon at a measly 13.32% turnout, from 3rd CSM election Bulgaria's 38.10%, itself following 1st (38.19%) and 2nd (40.5%) CSM Hungary's. Make of that what you want.

Don't hold your breath for the CSM minutes being published, btw: as far as I can tell, they're not yet done catching up with the CSM 3's as it is.

Meanwhile, Tranquility broke a new record last night, with 54,181 spacenerds logged simultaneously, which was celebrated with enough enthusiasm — and presumably booze of some kind — to see TQ repeatedly puke its db guts out, taking down the EVE API service with it (still not back up last time I checked).
This last bit didn't make the news, for some reason.

I don't know about you, but the weather is glorious today, so I'm out for a stroll.


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Cloning 2.0

[Editor's note: Wrapping up on the Canned Heroes series, I realized the obvious: not only is it a friggin Chinese wall'o'txt, but that kind of freewheeling exercise tends to bring up the best and most important bits at the end of the ride, so I hope this feature post will help you get through it with minimal pain. 
Enjoy, if you can.]

Cloning 2.0

…a.k.a Canned Heroes, is a series about new mechanics for clone management and especially cloning on ships, such as supercapital and rorqual medical bays enable — there is also a bit of Walking in Stations and capsules-centric fun in there, because why not.

I suggest you start with part 1 (uncanny !) to get the big picture, then skip ahead to the 4th (and final) episode to see how it should play out with Motherships, Titans and (to a slightly lesser extent) Rorquals.
Part 4 also includes some design notes at the end.
Part 2 and part 3 are worth reading if you're interested in the minutiae of game mechanics, or if you want further details on stuff brought up in the two main installments.

Future material related to Cloning will/would be listed below, and tagged thusly:

• Everything Cloning 2.0


Canned Heroes (part 4)

[Continued from part 3]

Cloning on ships.

Today's installment covers the issue that originally prompted my thinking about the whole Canned Heroes thing, namely the fact Clone Vat Bays in their current implementation are of very limited usefulness, due to the fact their cloning goodness is a one-shot feature.

The capacity of Clone Vat Bays on supercapitals as they are now is plenty (35 to 60 clones on a Mothership, 75 to 130 on a Titan, depending on Cloning Facility Operation skill), and doesn't need tweaking. The problem comes from the fact they are limited to jump cloning.

I don't know about you, but when I think Mothership plus Clone Vat Bay, I see this:

Mothership, served with prawns.

Monday, December 7, 2009


Hopefully last silent day.

Part 4 of the Canned Heroes series is almost done — I'll push it as soon as I'm done, possibly even before next downtime.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, December 6, 2009


Sorry, no post today.

I'm working on part 4 of the Canned Heroes series, which should be ready within a day or two at most.

Stay tuned.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Canned Heroes (part 3)

[Continued from part 2]

Understanding backup clones.

The four major changes in cloning 2.0 relative to medical/backup clones are:
  • You can no longer remotely spawn your medical clone in any station you've ever visited or your corp has an office in. To install a medical clone, you need at least proper standings with the medical facility owners (1.0 with most NPC corps), and to bring a CryoCanned clone on location.

  • Backup/medical clone are no longer different in nature from jump/generic clones. Any installed clone can potentially act as a backup clone by being bound to the character's mind-backup contract.

  • Backup clone contracts are now subject to a weekly fee proportional to the grade of your backup clone contract (about 1% base price) without which you'll enjoy only a reduced protection against skill point loss in case of podding — backup clone upgrades become less expensive, though.

  • The potential loss of skill points on death without sufficient coverage is much harsher than it used to be — this is partly eased by new ways to help ensure your backup clone protection remains sufficient at all times.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Canned Heroes (part 2)

[Continued from part 1]

Generic clones vs Backup clones.

All clones are grown generic, and are exact replicas of their original at the time of cloning.

Whether a given clone is upgraded to the status of 'backup' clone depends solely on the arrangement between the pod-pilot and a specific medical facility to be the default recipient of the pilot's ultimate mind-scan after a freaky pod malfunction.
  • A 'blank' clone is a frozen clone (with or without implants), stored in a CryoCan or Pod.

  • A 'generic' clone (a.k.a Jump clone) is a 'blank' clone hooked up to a medical facility, ready to be thawed out on short notice.

  • A 'backup' clone (a.k.a Medical clone) is a 'generic' clone hooked up to a medical facility with whom owners the pod pilot has subscribed a 'backup' contract in the event of his death.
To prevent contestations over which medical facility claims the (often hefty) rebirthing fee, and the legal nightmarish complications of multiple freshly activated clones all claiming to be the legitimate 'self' concurrently, pilots are allowed only one such 'backup' contract with a unique station's medical facility at any one time — medical facilities on supercapital ships being a recent and largely outlaw-ish development fall in a grey area.

As long as the uniqueness of a pilot's body-mind association is maintained, the law sees no issue with keeping more than one spare clone handy:
  • Pod pilots are allowed to grow and store in CryoCans an unlimited amount of 'blank' generic clones.

  • Pod pilots are allowed to have a total of up to 6 ready-to-roll clones, including both 'generic' and 'backup' clones (based on Infomorph Psychology skill level).

  • Pod pilots are allowed a single 'backup' clone subscription with station-bound medical facilities at any one time.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Canned Heroes

[Editor's note: Wow, the wall'o'txt struck back, so I added a short version as intro, then you can dig in if you feel like more.]

Teh Skinny:

  • Clones become actual bodies (like corpses, but slightly less dead), which you can move around in coffins cryostatis containers. They are grown-on-demand in medical facilities for about 10% of the price of a matching medical clone, and it takes time to bake one (about a day).

  • MedClones and JumpClones are no longer different animals: a 'backup' clone is a regular clone that you bind to your brain-insurance.

  • Medical/backup clones can now be bound to Clone Vat Bay-capable ships, potentially turning those into your respawn point as long as they are in space, Clone Vat Bay active, and you have enough fresh clones in their medical bay.

  • Medical/backup clone contracts are now billed to you on a weekly basis, to the tune of roughly 1% of your medical clone grade price.

  • New death penalty for the uncaring: stuck in limbo !

  • You get to play in new and creative ways with your body(ies) — other people too.

See below for the non reading-averse version.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Real-time tactics

Here be everything about Tactical Maps, and general improvements to the UI and features relative to the management of real-time-tactics aspects of EVE

Everything Real-time Tactics:
Everything TacMaps

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Toll booths

[Editor's note: Well, TQ is dead by now, and the announced dt is to be at best 19h long… I'll go check how EVE looks in a couple days after the inevitable post-patch kinks are worked out.
No big posts until then, I'm afraid, as I'm doing non-EVE stuff in the next two days, unless I find time to spare to go for a full breakdown of the patch notes, which I've read and researched a bit by now, and I must say there is a majority of nice-smelling stuff in there — botched sovereignty mechanics aside.
In the meantime, I have this old bit of fodder I exhumed, and  which would fit nicely in the new pet-heavy resident-friendly landscape of Dominion sovereignty system.]

Jump Bridges 
 …are a cool feature,
and one of the few places where holding sovereignty actually makes a difference in the relationship one has to the environment, compared even to cyno-jammers, whose raison d'être is to help defend sovereignty, thus echoing the pre-Dominion circular joke of fuel discount on POSes that are deployed only to hold sov.


As interesting as the ability to basically create your own custom gate network may be, jumpbridges are also a royal pain to operate and maintain for their owners.

One of the main grudges logisticians and officers hold against bridges is the lack of control over who can use them: anyone with + standings and the knowledge of a unique shared password per bridge (ergo anyone with + standings, really) can jump through at will as long as the bridge has fuel in the tank.

Which brings us to the second and most frequently sore spot: fueling and attached costs and workload.

Long story short, only members of the alliance owning the POS/bridge can be allowed to top up a bridge fuel tank with Liquid Ozone, but since they have very little control over who can use the bridge, these tend to run out quick. This is made worse by the absence of any logs stored or relayed by the bridge about who jumped through when and in what ship class.

Toll booths.
Without even considering — for now — changing the access management system that rules over bridge use, simply add the option for the bridge to demand fuel before activating.
Either you have enough fuel, or you pay in ISK.

In practical terms, on right-clicking to jump through a bridge, you'll see a dialog pop up with a warning and two quotes, going roughly like this.

This installation needs fuel to displace
your ship through the magic spacetubes.

Do you want to allow this bridge to take Liquid Ozone
from your cargo bay, or do you prefer to pay in cash ?

Liquid Ozone required: {insert number} units
Cash price: {insert number} ISK

[Rape my bay !] [Rape my wallet !]

  • If you don't have enough LO or ISK at the ready, the number will be red-colored and the [Rape my…] button will be greyed-out.

  • Assuming you click on either available option while sitting in activation range, your cargo bay or wallet will be syphoned for the required amount of fuel or ISK, and you'll jump through.

  • If both buttons are greyed-out, you can't jump until you beg somebody for ISK, or get enough Liquid Ozone in your cargo bay.
The base ISK price per Liquid Ozone unit should be defined on a per-bridge basis, and a profit margin could discretionarily be added at the POS owners discretion, to compute the quote from ActualFuelRequirements+Margin(%).
Standings and alliance affiliation could be used to compute a discount or mitigate the overtax, much like is done on Outposts' station services.

Simple way to limit abuse of bridges, stop them from running dry, and maybe even make a buck on them to recoup the operation costs.

Happy expansion all !


Monday, November 30, 2009

Soft hat on.

No filler today, I'll be busy watching clouds.

If you have nothing better to do, go read the patch notes for Dominion, that should keep you awake at night until the expansion hits the fan.

See you after the bang.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

DevBlog #718 — New EVEmail in Dominion

This a Dev Blog, about EVEmail finally becoming usable. That's pretty much it.

OK, ok: that's a big deal, for we're coming a long way on this one. So here's the skinny:
The new EVEmail, barring overlooked bugs, will do what you'd have expected it to do from about day one of EVE, but not just that.
Through linking to API and client-side storage, it will make EVEmails, mail alerts and mailing lists a convenient enough exchange medium that we may actually use them.

It's like getting tap water versus a crank-and-bucket well  in the backyard: it's only a few paces closer to home, but that's a huge difference.

So, all together: Yay for new EVEmail !


Saturday, November 28, 2009

Drone herding

Droonies are the reason many a EVE player has found himself mumbling in his sleep or waking up in cold sweats, as they're probably the most fickle, hard to balance and messy factor in EVE combat, ever since mines and missile splash damage have been removed from the game.

Fighters epitomize the drone problem. They cost an arm, or at least a good cruiser worth of ISK and minerals, deal and soak about as much damage as a NPC cruiser, and have the AI of a 1980 digital alarm clock for brains, and yet, they're overpowered.

At the heart of the issue lies the fact a single pilot finds himself in command of a disproportionate total sum of firepower, not because drones are 'too good' as such, but because the drone paradigm has been 'One Ring nerd to bring them all and in the darkness bind them' since the beginnings of EVE.

This mixes badly with the nature and mythos behind Carriers and Motherships which call for the ability to deploy not one or two lonely drones, no matter how tough and full of teeth they are, but swarms of them.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Judgement day, or something.

This is it: the Dominion expansion page is up, and the official deployment news, too.

Not that's it a big surprise, obviously, but I'm curious about what will really make it through the initial release, or be held back at last minute, and you certainly can't trust the features page for that, since half the dev blogs linked there are obsolete already.

My plans ? I'm checking out the NPC sovereignty pockets in otherwise conquerable 0.0 regions, and I'm prepping to go all UO on the simpletons that will throw ISK at upgrading their space. EVE is taking a turn for the stupidest, and I shall embrace it as long as I bother to log in.

Enjoy your last weekend of pre-arena EVE, folks: you'll want to hang on to the memories.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Supercapitals overhaul

[Editor's note: I'm going to try a new format today: I'm sparing you the usual wall'o'txt by boiling down this entry to the key changes… The important details you'll either have to trust are covered, ask about, or wait for followup entries to address.
That saves you headaches, and leaves me with stock material for next time I run dry on inspiration for the daily filler.]


Titans and Motherships are sexy on paper, everybody can see the shine of supercapital vessels in a space-op' — they're a standard feature of the genre.
Unfortunately CCP released those with nothing but very nice art to support their existence, and have since then been groping around like eggnog-plastered tweens haphazardly trying to reach second base during the carols on Xmas eve. The results have been predictably messy and embarrassing for all involved.

Defining Supercapitals:

To begin with, they must be huge: that's a given.
Part of being super is they must be rare, different, and exotic compared to more pedestrian merely-capital boats.
They are intended as GiantDicks, flagships for the pride of their fleet.

By nature, a flagship is a morale booster, a spectacular display of your fleet's confidence in its might, and a frightening wonder for the enemy to behold and quiver before. They should also, as the crown of the enemy's military might, be what your own admirals and fleet commanders look forward to topple, sending the signal to the troops under their fallen standard that this battle is lost to them.
Because there are, to date, only two classes of SuperCapitals, with no new ones in sight, it isn't too much to ask that each get their own unique-yet-complementary flavor, and aren't just large-and-superlarge variations on the same design, or on 'regular' capitals.
Another requisite of flagships is that they must make a difference in the battlefield, beyond just being ostentatiously large, yet must not put other ship classes out of a job by doing the same-stuff-only-more that non-super boats do.


Titans and Motherships must certainly help win battles, but not as main weapons. They will act as enablers to support conventional and capital vessels, and help make a better use of fleet ships.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Repair systems overhaul.

I know there are a lot of things in EVE gameverse that fail the basic common sense test, and I can live at peace with lore and backstory inconsistencies in a game where the most interesting stories are those the players write through their actions, rather than by roleplaying on a script. Some design misses however are enough to damage the gameplay, in addition to their being ridiculous.

…arise when major game mechanics simply fail internal consistency tests, and Repair systems are among the worst offenders.

If cheap tech 1 modules can readily convert energy from ships' capacitors into engineered matter (to remotely or locally repair structural damage suffered by armor and hull), and can restore a ship integrity without any source of raw materials, not only are we far past the point where technology is indistinguishable from magic (which could be OK), but one must wonder why industry still needs to bother with any raw materials, when ship reactors provide a readily-available, seemingly infinite and everlasting supply of energy-and-thus-matter at low cost.

Plainly said: magick matter-generators are cause for serious cognitive dissonance in the face of the need to mine asteroids.

…already there: it's called nanite paste, a NPC repairing material source, and a very nice ISK sink that can be reused in a myriad of interesting ways.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The action figure gap.

Through all the sources I skim/surf/browse/read on a daily basis about R-POWs and the making thereof, there is a constant divide I couldn't help but notice: any given writer, critic, academic, pontificating game designer or wannabee will refer to EVE-Online either very frequently or absolutely never.

I'm not talking about reviews of Marshmallow Cluedo Online™, the puzzle game, here. My eye is on bona fide MMO design discussion platforms, where you can read massive articles and opinion pieces about issues such as player-driven economy, dual-currency systems, or large scale PvP warfare without so much as a passing wink at EVE.

Conversely, many EVE-centric sites — and not just the fanboyish ones — will ignore a large selection of fairly well-known and significant titles when doing comparative analysis of features across MMO*.

At first, I chalked that on the widely shared preconception that PvE-oriented players and hardcore PvP nerds don't mix unless forced to, and plainly said, on the notion that each consider the other group as an aberration of nature not fit to mention in polite company.

But as even the blogs from well-know advocates of hardcore PvP in MMO*, famous for their massive rants in favor of unforgiving games that give players something chewy to bite on, manage to simply leave EVE out of the picture 99% of the time*, I must admit I got stumped for a while…
Then it hit me…

It's the avatar, stupid !

The great divide is not between hardcore PvP sandboxes and theme-parks railed rides, it's between men-in-tights and mechazoids. Some people will simply not acknowledge as part of the same ecosystem worlds where you run around with an action figure representation of your in-game self, and those where your game presence is embodied in a spaceship, giant mecha, or race car.

I'm not sure what it says about the meandering and crafty ways of immersion in game worlds, just yet, but I'm willing to bet the introduction of ragdolls in EVE online will make it more relatable overnight for the fraction of game designers and critics who up to then couldn't see it as a proper MMO*.


[* Yes, that's a grand total of 7 results on a search for "EVE Online" in entries between 2004 and now on Psychochild's blog, I'm not making this up…]

EVE is broken, yet…

With me being back in the proverbial armchair and buttocks-deep into game design again, I've come to remember how grateful I've been over the years for the very existence of EVE, and how I still should remain grateful for it to this day.

Sure, EVE has it wrong on a grocery list of levels, the gameplay is terrible (at least relative to its stated ambitions), the community is an embarrassment of Palin-esque proportions for the human species, and the public faces of CCP, through its developers and PR mouthpieces don't do much to help it, yet…

My perpetual concern that the failings of CCP are somehow poisoning the well for future PvP sandbox MMO* aside, EVE has one great feat going for itself and the genre: it exists, and is alive, profitable and steadily growing 6 years after public release — and that has to count for something.

Whenever one gets into a discussion about the viability of design concepts tied to the whole sandbox-PvP thing, EVE provides the likes of me with a simple point-and-smirk, one-click rebuttal to the boilerplate argument that 'PvP games are doomed to fail, period'.


My heartfelt thanks to the people @CCP for making, running, maintaining this game. For being a bunch of clueless monkeys and overall asshats griefer frattards, you're still family. Despite everything, you're the living proof we don't belong in museums just yet — we just are a bit slow to evolve.

With love,


Late to the party ?

A friend pointed me to this, which somehow had escaped my attention until now — thanks, B.

It's basically a starting EVE-like game, only with mechas, and on the ground, done by a Hungarian team.
This looks interesting, if only because it offers another, and fresh perspective on the same defining elements as EVE, which very few games have really tried to tackle, to date.

Also… mechas !

On a bright note, compared to EVE's, Perpetuum's gameverse and backstory make perfectly good sense, and earnestly avoid some of the most ridiculous non sequiturs clichés of space op'.
Not that it matters so much in a pew-pew game, but there's always that.

On the downside, the character's portraits should not be gazed upon if you have a weak stomach… they are uncannily (and not on purpose I suspect) disturbing.


Will Perpetuum make it ? I don't think so, unless it gets a massive injection of capital and/or talent to help it reach critical mass and differentiate from what is comparatively the 800 pound gorilla in that small niche.


Before you go all internet lawyery on those guys for the blatant ripoff of your favorite intarweb spaceship game, read this first, take a walk around the block breathing through your nose a  few times,  then go check your game design history (about UO and BattleMechs/Tech, notably) to get some perspective on how much of EVE is truly unique, original IP.


Monday, November 23, 2009

DevBlog #717 — Capital ships in Dominion.

Let's be fair, one can't bash CCP for coming up with utterly stupid designs they bullheadedly rush towards Tranquility, and not salute the comparatively sensible decision to put a pin in at least some of it, and go back to the drawing board.

So… watch me while I laud CCP Nozh for his feat of un-retardedness in Dev Blogging.

Yes, the very good news is: broken Motherships will not be replacing Apocrypha-era Titans as the WTFsoloPWNmachine 2.0 of Dominion (although there's a good chance they'll still be re-christened SuperCarriers, for the LULz).

The other good-looking news is: the re-balancing of  XL weapons seems sensible, at least on paper — Minnie dreads with their dual weaponry will probably remain slightly behind the DPS curve compared to their peers when sieged (although even that remains to be seen in the light of late/post-release fixes), but they enjoy a slight advantage in flexibility, compared at least to Amarr, when engaging moving targets.

Finally, Titans figure how to use those XLs gun slots that until now were shelved in favor of utility modules, with a hefty enough damage multiplier to warrant locking non-blues. Combined with the new death-ray superweapons replacing Doomsday devices, this turns titans into extremely expensive yet not entirely pointless gunboats with logistical superpowers, which isn't so bad a placeholder to wait until they get re-written for good, hopefully (optimist hat on).



Hello y'all… my name is Largely Irrelevant, and I am a pet-lover.
Phew… that sure feels good.
Ever since my early days in MU* and P&P RPGs, and through my time in CRPGs and MMO*, I've kept a fond spot for the critters.
Pets make for for cool player-toys and handy roleplay props, while GMs and writers can use them as crafty devices to steer back players on course in much less anvilicious ways than the insufferable NPC-in-party would allow.

[Featured articles linked at the end of this post]

Pets rock !
The appeal of semi-autonomous tools/toys/weapons/sidekicks is both obvious and subtle: pets extend the player's character reach, enable to probe and explore otherwise inaccessible or overly dangerous areas, and often are the ace up one's sleeve in combat, but just as importantly — if done right — they connect player characters to the environment and gameverse.

Pets are half-player, half-NPC by nature, and as such they can convey information and immersive clues a PC hardly could — without robbing the players from control over their in-game self, at least in part.
A pet can sense danger and refuse to advance further down a path way before players can spot the enemy, or rush for a waterhole after a long hike through desert terrain, leading you to feel your own character parched lips for a second… the list is endless.

They can also go horribly wrong in the blink of an eye if not kept on a short leash…
See what I did here ?

Moving on.
In computer games, and especially MMO*, pets have fantastic potential, but also open a huge can of worms, the kind that makes balancing PvP between ranged and melee characters look like a 'tie your shoes with your eyes open' sort of dare.

How pets are gained, lost, raised, healed, developed over time, their philosophical nature and the mathematical minutiae of their handling, all are nightmare fuel for designers and coders.
Make the pets too good, and their master player character soon vanishes behind its limited role as a remote-control interface for a CritterOfDoom™. Make the pet suck, and you'll see no end to the whine of people whose class is otherwise gimped to balance for a useless feat.

In short, pets in computer games, MMO especially, tend to file under awesome but impractical, and thus are often relegated to the vanity trinkets category, much like an epic mount that couldn't run and is afraid of crossing shallow creeks.

In EVE, believable pets are an exclusive of major 0.0 alliances, and mostly played in the metagame space. The closest to familiar critters we get would be with drones, the no-name, brain-damaged, cannon-fodder-lag-generating scourge of EVE.

Because I'm such a pet-lover, I still like drones quite a bit. In fact, my oldest EVE toon is/was a drone specialist, thanks to a happy coincidence of me rolling the toon based on the comical racial description for Intaki, and ending up with ridiculously high memory. Being a roleplayer and all, I figured it was a sign, and made my way to lvl 5 on every drone skill available over the years.

…are vermin.
Even though they're about the simplest form of pet one can imagine, EVE drones share many of the qualities and liabilities of their kind: mainly, they clog the server pipes while failing repeatedly to do what they're supposed to.
Meanwhile, they steal player jobs by filling roles suited for light ships, and easily eat enough processor cycles and bandwidth to support another session or two, but to the difference of a player multi-boxing, they don't bring another subscription revenue in the coffers to make up for it.

Why CCP bothers with them at all would be a mystery, if not for the aforementioned fact that pets (and thus drones) are inherently desirable and cool — end of story.

Making a niche for droonies.
For all their misfortunes, drones are a long standing feature of the EVE arsenal, and they even are a defining element for one of the 4 main racial playstyles. Entire classes of ships, not just Gallente, and ranging from frigates to SuperCarriers™ are built around the purpose of carrying and deploying drones.

Although the entire drone interface and control scheme is in dire need of a serious makeover, the worst issues with drones are found on the side of capital and supercapital ships built as drone-boats, namely Carriers and SuperCarriers.
Defining the exact role of those ships and balancing them has always been problematic: being drone-centric, they are automatically gimped or overpowered in direct proportion to the drones they pack, and the most obvious ways to make drones useful overlap with roles that coulda-oughta-shoulda been filled by player pilots.

In the posts linked below, you'll find proposals to make a niche for droonies and drone boats (of capital and regular size), and to improve both the gameplay and relevance of drone-shepherds in ways that don't put frigates and cruisers pilots out of employment.


Everything Droonies: all the articles tagged as Droonies-related, to date.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

DevBlog #714 — dominion upkeep and upgrades

Catching up on Dev Blogs, I found the mouth for Dominion's sovereignty overhaul has spoken again, although no cute flowcharts this time…
After the giant whinethread, the Upkeep costs have suffered a big hit of the nerfbat, in addition to a healthy boost granted to the weakest type of PvE upgrade (more mini-plexes spawns) both of which were obviously things to do, and arguably the right reaction (although it's still pouring fresh water down a leaking barrel, design-wise).

A welcome — if overdue — change is the announced reduced price of tier 2-3 upgrades for Outposts: the tier 3 are currently so stupidly pricey that spawning another tier 2-upgraded outpost is actually running cheaper than upgrading from tier 2 to tier 3, limiting the instances of tier 3 upgrades to a count of roughly 0 to date. Only question being: who'd want to sink more ISK in high end outposts when they basically can't be defensible anymore ?

Other changes are less enlightened: the halving of the online time of SBUs (from 6 to 3 hours) is not so bad, as it hastes a bit the pace of Stargate contests, but the reduction on the random factor variation applied to reinforcement timers (for Outposts and HUBs) fosters blobbery even more than before.

Where CCP designs smarts really shine however, is with the "Usage indices": now decoupled from the actual Infrastructure Upgrades that support the boosts on PvE/industry resources.
The intended goal of this significant change to the model is to allow the conquerors of a well-developed solar system to be able to readily deploy their own Infrastructure HUB and PvE upgrades to replace those they've just destroyed, as the Usage Indices that determine which PvE/Industry upgrades can be installed/onlined will persist for a little while (couple days at most) after the previous landlords's HUB has been wiped out.

This is… wait for it… awesome ! Broken™ !
Interestingly, assuming CCP goes for the option of not allowing capture of the 'Upgrade center' and instead decides to have it go poof on sovereignty shift, it may be more interesting for an invader to entirely ignore sovereignty and be content to focus on seizing outposts, leaving for the defender to pay Upkeep bills while the attackers milk the juicy NPCs and roids attracted by the now-homeless defenders' system upgrades.
Unless I missed something, this approach would remain entirely viable in this last revision.
Although the invaders have to somewhat 'suspend' sovereignty immunities in order to seize an Outpost (by spamming SBUs on 51% of the gates long enough for the Outposts to be captured) there is no indication (from the published Dev Blogs) this would magically destroy or disable the Defender's TCU or Infrastructure HUB permanently, until they actually get shot at.

There's a giant and obvious loophole here: it looks like it's perfectly practical to invade en masse, scare the lemmings away by stealing their outposts, but leave sovereignty and HUB alone, then for the squatters-conquerors to reap the benefits of the upgraded space at zero cost, while leaving for the evicted faction to pick up the tab of Upkeep Costs… Or did I miss something ?

Yes, I know there's this line in Seleene's previous Dev Blog:
Sovereignty is a requirement to have an Infrastructure Hub and it is not be possible to have a scenario where a system has an Infrastructure Hub and no sovereignty.
But unless the actual game mechanics support Abathur's statement, it's about as imperative and effective as asking ore-stealers to "Leave my cans alone !".

Assuming I fail reading comprehension, or it's just something that didn't make it into Dev Blogs, but really is addressed in the ruleset, that still leaves the possibility to invade a system with 800 peeps, not bother with capturing shit (maybe just screw a bit with gates and SBUs for dramatic effect), and mine / rat away at no Upkeep Costs, then head back home (say NPC 0.0 stations nearby).

I'm sure this is CCP's idea of 'dynamic, cerebral sovereignty warfare', and people will just jump at the irresistible opportunity to spend bazillions of ISK developing and maintaining infrastructure for others to (ab)use, when they could more easily go rape the small-alliance neighbours instead — because we know how kindhearted and caring blobbing alliances are.

Quoting myself once again:
Strong defensive and industrial benefits should come from developing high levels of sovereignty and infrastructure, which should incur heavy penalties for local PvE resources.

Keep true-sec as it is, significantly boost base wealth in conquerable null-sec, make loot/spawn tables adjust dynamically (downward) based on local infrastructure, average population, local and surrounding sovereignty 'score' (which conversely boost and enable industry/defense perks), and you have a system that gives the edge to small-medium alliances built on a well-coordinated mix of PvPers and industrialists over sprawling herds of PvE hunter-gatherers, while forcing codependency between both styles, and creating interesting friction areas in the interstitial, richer wild lands.

Funny-in-a-sad way, how easily this doomed race against design cracks could have been avoided by simply having local PvE resources adjust the other way around relative to player sovereignty and infrastructure, but have no fear: slapping patch after patch over leaky pipes is a proven way to make spaceships fly happily forevah.

Madness, baby, madness.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


I didn't really fluke yesterday… I was sort of late to begin with — which I saw coming a mile away — then… this happened.

Even the most devious compulsive spacenerds among the five of you shall admit that's enough eye-bleeding content for two dowmtimes, at least ?

*sinks hands in bowl of ice chips*

Friday, November 20, 2009

Commandeering (part 2)

In part 1, I covered the essentials of Commandeering and FoF Tuning mechanics, the various states Of Ownership (Owned, Abandoned) and Tuning (Controlled, Neutralized, Challenged), and delved into some specifics about Ship Commandeering, which the main use most players would have for this feature.

This entry is about understanding how Tuning contests are resolved, complete with some examples of the typical targets for Commandeering. If you haven't read part 1 of Commandeering, now may be a good time, and likewise you may want to have a glance at the FoF Tuners article, or at least keep it handy in case things get too hairy.

Anatomy of a target.

  • Tuning Strength Modifier (TSM): It modifies the base NTC (to compute ETC), boosts Passive Tuning Recharge (if available) and increases the output of FoF Tuner modules.
    Defaults to x1.00, can be increased by skills, sovereignty benefits, special rigs and upgrades, etc.
    TSM suffers from no stacking penalties of various sources applying to the same object.
All potential targets for Commandeering share a base set of attributes, many of which are subject to TSM.
  • Nominal Tuning Charge (NTC): Expressed in Tuning signal points (Ts), it is defined by the item type and can't be modified. NTC is used as base score to compute the ETC below and sets the threshold that must be reached to Challenge or gain Control over an object.

  • Effective Tuning Capacity (ETC): Basically the NTC plus applicable Tuning Strength Modifiers, this is the maximum charge the object can hold while Controlled — default value is equal to NTC.
    Formula: ETC=NTC*TSM

  • Base Passive Tuning Recharge (bPTR): Expressed as n% of the NTC,  with n defined by item type, it is used as base value to compute the PTR below.

  • Passive Tuning Recharge Rate (PTRr or PTR): expressed in % of the object ETC or in absolute Ts/cycle, it indicates how much an object will self-recharge per PTR cycle while between 0.0 Ts and ETC.
    Its value in absolute Tuning Charge output is indirectly modified by Tuning Strength modifiers as they increase the object ETC (constant percentile of a larger quantity), and directly as they increase the % value (higher fraction at constant quantity).
    PTR may be activated or inhibited by the Sovereignty/Ownership/Control status of the object.  
    Formula: PTRr(ETC%)=bPTR*(ETC/NTC)*TSM (or bPTR*TSM^2)
    Formula: PTR(Ts/cycle)=bPTR*ETC*TSM (or bPTR*NTC*TSM^2)

  • Passive Tuning Recharge Cycle (PTRc): expressed in seconds, it is set by the item type and can't be modified.
    PTRc is used to resolve the Control state of an object, in addition to the potential change in Tuning charge from PTR.
    [Note: since PTR(r) is a per-cycle value, PTRc directly affects its Ts/sec output, which is calculated thus: PTR/PTRc=PTR/s]
PTR boost is applied at the beginning of each cycle, while the Control state check of an object and the effect of FoF Tuners apply at the end of their respective cycles. This means if an object reaches its NTC (or is brought to 0.00 Ts) within its cycle, the Control state change will kick in right before the beginning of the next PTR cycle, possibly canceling (or enabling) Passive Tuning Recharge for the new cycle.

Control state changes.

The Control states of an object reflect which (if any) entity currently is in position to use it, and possibly Own it.
There are three possible Control states (Controlled, Neutralized, Challenged), and three potential contest types allowing to transition between Control states.

As can be seen above, it is possible to transition between any two Control states both ways, except between Challenged and Controlled.
Moving from a Challenged state to a Controlled one can be done through a single transition/contest,  but a move from a Controlled state to a Challenged one will require a first transition to a Neutralized state, then another from Neutralized to Challenged.

From a Neutralized state, the current Defender/Owner of the object (if any) may regain Control through a single transition/contest, while a Contender must first tune up the target to its NTC once to Challenge it (which resets the target's tuning charge to 25% NTC), then up again to change its state from Challenged to Controlled for the Challenger's benefit.

Here's the breakdown of transitions:
  • Controlled => Neutralized: reduce the target's tuning charge to -0.00 Ts (any party but Controller)

  • Neutralized => Controlled: tune up the target to NTC (Defender/Owner only)

  • Neutralized => Challenged: tune up the target to NTC (current Contender only) — resets the charge to 25% NTC in favor of the new Challenger.

  • Challenged => Neutralized: reduce the target's tuning charge to -0.00 Ts (any party but Challenger)

  • Challenged => Controlled: tune up the target to NTC (Challenger only)
From a practical standpoint, Commandeering a currently foreign-Controlled target requires to feed it roughly 3-4 times its NTC worth of FoF Tuning signal of your frequency (not accounting for PTR, and assuming no active interference from other parties): 1x to 2x NTC to Neutralize it (depending on applicable TSM), then 1x NTC to Challenge it, and finally 0.75x NTC to win the challenge and takeover Control.

For the Defender of an object under attack, successfully tuning the object up to its NTC once while still Controlled or Neutralized will be enough  to regain full Control over it. Once the object is Challenged however, the Defender (if Ownership hasn't been lost already) will first have to change its state back to Neutralized before attempting to re-claim it, typically without the help of PTR (disabled by the Challenged Control state).

Commandeering Targets.

[Editor's note: NTC for many structures are expressed in xDreadnoughts NTC as an indicator. Those are provisional numbers meant to give a rough feel of relative NTCs, and are very much still in the air at this stage.]


  • Vulnerable:

    • Defender FoF Frequency: always.
    • Attacker FoF Frequency: anywhere, while Structure≤95%, Shields<15%, Armor<15%;

  • State changes: Ownership inherited from Controller, with provisions (see The fine Print).

    • Abandoned: after 3min without a pilot.
    • Challenged: disables modules and jump drive (if any).

  • NTC: Based on ship class, variation between classes roughly proportional to Capacitor size.

    • ETC: NTC*TSM

  • PTR: always on, except while in a Challenged or Abandoned state, set to the current ship Defender FoF frequency.

    • PTRr: 3 to 15% ETC/cycle, based on ship class, further modified by TSM.
    • PTRc: Frigs, Dessie, Cruiser (T1, T2, Fc): 20s. BC, BS (T1,T2, Fc): 30s. T3 Cruisers: 30s. Freighters (T1/T2): 45s. Capitals: 60s. Supercaps: 90s.
    • -PTR: While Abandoned, -0.1% NTC/cycle.

  • TSM: affect ETC and PTR.

    • FoF Tuning skill: +5% per level.
    • Sovereignty: all sovereignty TSM apply.
    • Rigs: yes, tbd.

    POS control Towers

    • Vulnerable:

      • POS Defender FoF Frequency: always but while Reinforced.
      • Neutralization: while Shields<50%, post-Reinforced mode. Requires to be Planetary Defender or for the Planet to be Abandoned.
      • Commandeering: While Structure≤95%, Shields<50%, Armor<15%, post-Reinforced mode. Requires to be Planetary Defender, or Solar Defender (if the Planet is Abandoned). If both Planet and Solar are Abandoned, Commandeering is FFA. 
      • NPC space: Requires the POS Defender to be a valid War Target of the Attackers to lift sovereignty immunities. Rest is similar to 0.0 POS.

    • State changes: Ownership inherited from Controller, with provisions.

      •  Controlled: Enables Strategic Modules (subject to sov requisistes).
      • Abandoned: triggered on entering Challenged Control state.
      • Challenged: disables (Offlines) Strategic Modules (if any).

    • NTC: ≈ 10x Dreadnought NTC.

      • ETC: NTC*TSM

    • PTR: always on, except while in a Challenged/Reinforced state, set to the current POS Defender FoF frequency.

      • PTRr: 1% to 3% ETC/cycle, based on Tower Type, further modified by TSM.
      • PTRc: 300s.

    • TSM: affect ETC and PTR.

      • Sovereignty: requires Planetary Sovereignty to enable Sovereignty TSM from other tiers.
      • Tuning Array: +20% TSM

      POS Modules

      • Vulnerable:

        • POS Defender FoF Frequency: always but while Reinforced.
        • Neutralization: while Modules Shields<50%, Armor<50%, or anytime while the POS tower is Abandoned, offline or destroyed.
        • Commandeering: While Modules Shields<50%, Armor<50%, post-Reinforced mode.
          If the POS tower is destroyed, offline or Abandoned, Commandeering is FFA. 
        • NPC space: Requires the POS Defender to be a valid War Target of the Attackers to lift sovereignty immunities. Rest is similar to 0.0 POS.

      • State changes: Ownership inherited from POS control tower.

        •  Controlled: Allows to use/access/take the module and its contents, as if rightfully Owned.
        •  Owned: Allows to use/access/take the module and its contents, while not Controlled by a third-party.
        • Challenged: disables (Offline) if the module is of a Strategic type (tied to Sovereignty), or simply denies use/access/take to everyone.

      • NTC: ≈ 1-8x Dreadnought NTC (depends on type).

        • ETC: NTC*TSM

      • PTR: status inherited from control tower if present. Disabled if tower is offline, Abandoned or Destroyed, or if the module itself is offline or incapacitated.

        • PTRr: 1% to 5% ETC/cycle, based on module Type, further modified by TSM.
        • PTRc: 100s.

      • TSM: affect ETC and PTR.

        • Sovereignty: requires Planetary Sovereignty to enable Sovereignty TSM from other tiers.
        • Tuning Array: +20% TSM


      • Vulnerable:

        • Neutralization: always. A Stargate doesn't require to be damaged for any party to Neutralize it.
        • Commandeering: Requires the sister gate on the other side of the jump to be either  Neutralized (and fed the same  FoF Frequency) or positively charged (for the same FoF frequency) for Tuning Up to work on the target Stargate, unless one is the Owner of the target Stargate, in which case the sister gate being in any state but Controlled by a third-party is enough.
          A Stargate doesn't require to be damaged for any party to Commandeer it.
        • NPC space: Requires the Stargate Owner to be a valid War Target of the Attackers to lift sovereignty immunities. Rest is similar to 0.0.

      • State changes: Ownership inherited from Solar/Constellar Sovereign, with provisions.

        • Controlled: Builds Occupancy requirements, also enables TacticalDataStreams for the Controller, and modifies the Stargate PTR.
        • Neutralized: Disables SearchlightEffect for the Defender.
        • Challenged: Denies all Occupancy/Ownership benefits to the Owner.

      • NTC: ≈ 10x Dreadnought NTC.

        • ETC: NTC*TSM

      • PTR: requires  Solar sovereignty to benefit the Stargate Controller, or Constellation Sovereignty  (if the Solar is Abandoned) — PTR depends on Ownership. PTR is also disabled while the Stargate is Challenged, and halved while it is Controlled by another Faction than the DCC Defender.

        • PTRr: 1% ETC/cycle, based on Tower Type, further modified by TSM.
        • PTRc: 90s.

      • TSM: affect ETC and PTR.

        • Sovereignty: System Sovereignty is required to receive other Sovereignty TSM, or Constellation Sovereignty with Neighborhood rules active if the System is Abandoned.

      Dungeon Control Centers (Planetary/Solar)

      • Vulnerable:

        • Neutralization: while Occupancy requisites are met, barring Sovereignty immunities.
          A DCC doesn't require to be damaged for any party to Neutralize it.
        • Commandeering: while Occupancy requisites are met, barring Sovereignty immunities.
          A DCC doesn't require to be damaged for any party to Commandeer it.
        • NPC space: Requires the Dungeon Defender to be a valid Factional War Target of the Attackers. Rest is similar to 0.0.

      • State changes: Ownership is decided by Controller of the Dungeon Control Center.

        • Controlled: Grants DCC and Dungeon Ownership, with attached benefits.
        • Owned: Grants Planetary or Solar sovereignty, respectively. 
          Planetary Ownership reduces Occupancy requirements to Neutralize or Commandeer the local Outpost  while the DCC is Controlled by its Owner, and grants an exclusive to the DCC Owner on Commandeering the Oupost while the DCC remains Controlled or Neutralized.
          Ownership allows to access/take/manage the DCC, and may also tame local NPC drones (with sufficient sovereignty benefits).
        • Neutralized: Planetary DCC, while Neutralized, open their respective Outpost to Neutralization by attackers (barring Capital Sovereignty Immunity). Neutralizing a  DCC also disables SearchlightEffect for its Defender.
        • Challenged: Lifts DCC, Dungeon and Planetary or Solar Ownership/Sovereignty and attached benefits, switching the respective Ownership/Sovereignty to Abandoned.
        • Abandoned: Allows any party to vie for sovereignty on equal Occupancy footing.
          An Abandoned Planetary DCC opens the local outpost to Neutralization/Commandeering by any party that meets Occupancy requirements minus Planetary Sovereignty.

      • NTC: ≈ 10x/20x Dreadnought NTC (Planetary/Solar).

        • ETC: NTC*TSM

      • PTR: PTR is active while the DCC is Owned plus Controlled or Neutralized,  and disabled while the DCC is Challenged or Abandoned.

        • PTRr: 2% (Planetary), 1% (Solar)  ETC/cycle, modified by TSM.
        • PTRc: 300s.

      • TSM: affect ETC and PTR.

        • Sovereignty: requires Dungeon Ownership to enable Sovereignty TSM from other tiers.

      Dungeon Mass Drivers (Planetary/Solar)

      • Vulnerable:

        • Neutralization: while Occupancy requisites are met, barring Sovereignty immunities.
          A DMD doesn't require to be damaged for any party to Neutralize it.
        • Commandeering: while Occupancy requisites are met, barring Sovereignty immunities.
          A DMD doesn't require to be damaged for any party to Commandeer it.
        • NPC space: Requires the Dungeon Defender to be a valid Factional War Target of the Attackers. Rest is similar to 0.0.

      • State changes: Ownership inherited from Dungeon Control Center.

        •  Controlled: Allows to use the DMD as if rightfully Owned but at the expense of its Tuning charge (based on mass) if not the Owner (subject to ship class restrictions based on possible Sovereignty Immunities). Also renders the attached Defensive structures susceptible to Commandeering by the Controller if not also the Owner.
        • Owned: Allows to use the DMD at all times at no cost and without restrictions, may also tame local NPC drones (with sufficient sovereignty benefits), and allows to Tune Up or Neutralize attached Defensive structures.
        • Challenged: disables TacticalDataStreams, and prevents manual control of the attached Defensive structures by the Defender (but not their FoF Tuning).

      • NTC: ≈ 5x/10x Dreadnought NTC (Planetary/Solar).

        • ETC: NTC*TSM

      • PTR: status partly inherited from Dungeon Control Center. PTR is disabled while the DMD is Challenged, or Abandoned (as a result of the DCC being lost), and halved while the DMD is Controlled by another Faction than the DCC Defender.

        • PTRr: 2% (Planetary), 1% (Solar)  ETC/cycle, further modified by TSM.
        • PTRc: 300s.

      • TSM: affect ETC and PTR.

        • Sovereignty: requires Dungeon Ownership to enable Sovereignty TSM from other tiers.

      Dungeon Defensive Structures

      • Vulnerable:

        • Neutralization: By any  faction while Modules Shields<50%, Armor<50%, or while the structure itself is Abandoned, or the DMD/DCC it's attached to is Abandoned (or destroyed).
          By the Dungeon Defender at any time, while charged positively for a foreign Faction FoF frequency. 
        • Commandeering: By the Controller of their DMD/DCC — a Commandeered DSS will revert to Neutralized if the state of the DMD it's attached to changes to Neutralized, Challenged or Abandoned.
          DDS don't require to be damaged for any party to Commandeer them.
        • NPC space: Requires the Dungeon Defender to be a valid Factional War Target of the Attackers. Rest is similar to 0.0, except DDS can't be stolen.

      • State changes: Ownership inherited from Dungeon Control Center.

        • Controlled: Allows to use/access/take the DDS as if rightfully Owned, burning the DCC fuel reserves all the while. If the DSS Controller is not the Dungeon Defender, it will only attack in self-defense unless manually operated by a Pilot. 
        • Owned: Allows to use the DDS in automatic mode, or manually operated by a  Pilot, while the DDS is Controlled (or Neutralized) by its Owner.
        • Challenged: disables TacticalDataStreams, and prevents manual control of the DDS  by the Defender (but not their FoF Tuning). The DDS will still operate in automatic mode for the Owner benefit while Challenged, however.
        • Abandoned: Can only happen as a result of the DCC being lost and brings the structure offline. The DCC can then be Neutralized and Commandeered by any party, and subsequently unanchored, or re-onlined for the new Dungen Defender's benefit.

      • NTC: ≈ 1-8x Dreadnought NTC (depends on type).

        • ETC: NTC*TSM

      • PTR: status partly inherited from Dungeon Control Center. DDS' PTR is disabled while their DMD is Challenged, or Abandoned (as a result of the DCC being lost), and halved while the DMD is Controlled by another Faction than the DCC Defender.

        • PTRr: 1% to 5% ETC/cycle, based on module Type, further modified by TSM.
        • PTRc: 100s.

      • TSM: affect ETC and PTR.

        • Sovereignty: requires Dungeon Ownership to enable Sovereignty TSM from other tiers.


      Include: Anchorable Bubbles, Secure Cans, Freighter Cans, Construction and Upgrade Platforms
      • Vulnerable:

        • Neutralization: By any  party while Structure≤95%, Shields<15%, Armor<15%.
          By the current Controller/Owner at any time, or by anyone while Abandoned, both regardless of damaged state. 
        • Commandeering: By any  party while Structure≤95%, Shields<15%, Armor<15%.
          By the current Controller/Owner at any time, or by anyone while Abandoned, both regardless of damaged state. 
        • NPC space: Is a Criminal Act unless the object Defender is a valid (Factional )War Target , falls under Kill Rights, or belongs to the same Corp/Faction as the FoF Tuning frequency applied. Legality is generally the same as for ships Commandeering.

      • State changes: Ownership set by Control state.

        • Controlled: Grants Ownership to the Controller, unless the last Owner was a Corporation belonging to the Faction that Commandeered the Anchorable, in which case Ownership is left intact. 
        • Owned: Allows to Neutralize a foreign FoF Tuning, or Tune Up the object at all times.
        • Challenged: Lifts Ownership under the same rules as Control does grant it (see above) resulting either in conservation of Ownership or Abandonment of the object.
        • Abandoned: Allows anyone to Neutralize or Commandeer the object.

      • NTC: ≈ varies wildly (depends on type).

        • ETC: NTC*TSM

      • PTR: Special — Misc.Anchorables can't benefit from PTR, but indefinitely conserve their tuning, Ownership and Control state unless Abandoned.

        • PTRc: 100s.
        • -PTR: While Abandoned, -0.1% NTC/cycle, exempt from TSM modifiers.

      • TSM: affect ETC.

        • Sovereignty: any Sovereignty TSM that applies to ships applies to Misc.Anchorables belonging to that Faction.


      I left out Outposts from this one, because: it's already an insane wall'o'text  and me fingers hurt ; Outposts call for diagramms (you got one today already, and I hate making those) ; I am the starving.
      So this will be for Part 3, with other stuff I may have forgot/left out.

      Lunch out.

      There will be a filler today, but due to me lunching out, it may be closer to the end of pre-Dominion temp downtime than to the usual 11.00 UTC, so hang on, or use the dt to take that weekly shower, you need it.


      [Update 2009/11/20 —23.00h:
      Better late than never, I guess… it's there, and ma'am, I don't know how to put it in a way that won't scare you away, but… it's a whale !
      Be strong, now.]

      Thursday, November 19, 2009

      Sturgeon, Warring Pandas and Carrion Poultry.

      What makes you tough is not how much hurt you can inflict: that makes you threatening, maybe dangerous, but not tough.
      What makes you tough is how much you can endure before you quit trying.

      The same way packing heat may sometimes deter aggressors, but doesn't actually protect (unless you're a deity-level marksman, and can stop bullets by shooting them mid-flight), there's a world of difference between being ready to impose pain on others and being prepared to personally pay the equivalent price in blood — even virtual.

      Which is why, as hinted in a previous entry, most pretend-warriors in EVE are really chicken-hawks, who croak at carebears to toughen up !, while themselves making sure their metaphorical balls are safely stored in a locked drawer before they log in.

      The problem with carebears is not that they lack the toughness, or need to grow a pair ; it's that they — as the name implies — don't shy away from caring, and do put their balls on the line in their gaming.

      "C'mon, it's just a game…"

      It is just a game indeed, yet the oft-uttered zinger above is no less of a cop out for it.
      No joke is truly innocent, and pretend games only work as long as the participants are willing to buy in the fiction that this broom really is a white stallion, the pop-cap gun really is a gunslinger's six-shots, and cousin Lucy with a mop for a wig makes a convincing Redcoat lieutenant.

      Roleplayers and carebears buy in, and that's what makes their game engaging and meaningful.
      It's also what makes some of them obnoxious D&D nerds when they take the game too seriously, but there's plenty of wiggle room between the Diablo-esque chicken-hawks bullies and the guy who writes an infuriated 3-page rant about some non-canon bit of Amarr empire lore in the latest EVE Chronicle.

      Not really meaning to make a case for roleplaying in EVE, which would be a bit disingenuous of me, I still contend the space-thingie theme is more than mere dressing for game mechanics, or we wouldn't care about the shiney and eye-candy in EVE: I know I'm not alone to think a fantastic PvP sandbox game could be released tomorrow and I still wouldn't go anywhere near it, if it involved elves in tights. But I digress, as a matter of course…

      To sum up, we need to somewhat believe in the game premises to relate and enjoy the experience, and that implies to care at least a little: if you don't care, you're not playing pretend games, you're pretending to play, which makes you a pitiable kind of spacenerd.

      So, why is it most carebears hate PvP ?

      The unique attraction of PvP'ing in sandbox R-POWs revolves around the fact it has meaningful consequences, and is directly tied to the potential for high-stakes battles. Unless you're competing in a world championship or play money on it, winning or losing a round of Quake or Counter-Strike can be fun, but is ultimately inconsequential for all involved. Not such in games like EVE, where a relatively poor action game can provide rare thrills and tension, thanks to the meta-context provided by the larger game goals.

      That many among the ill-defined carebear/RP crowd are very keenly aware of the meta-context of their gaming sharpens the multi-pronged blade in their backs when it comes to PvP.
      • They obviously care 'more' about anything happening, which means PvP can be both a better and worse experience for them than for a player who's less engaged in the fiction — if things go wrong at first, they'll feel the burn, hard, and may not willingly come back for seconds.  

      • Because they believe 'more' in the gameverse, they're more likely to spend a lot of time early on delving in stuff like PvE, exploration, and cooperative gameplay, and only later-if-ever get around to try their hand at PvP, which makes many of them 3-years-in-game n00bs when it comes to combat — being in a n00b without realizing it makes it this much harder to cope with the steep learning curve involved in mastering the basics of PvP in EVE.

      • PvE in EVE basically teaches people to suck at PvP. Arguably true of any MMO on the market today, but less of an issue in those where PvP is entirely optional and/or non-consequential.
      The first two points may not be obvious if you're not a carebear yourself, but they're self-explanatory. The third warrants a little 'splaining, though.

      PvE trains you to work under three basic assumptions:
      • you choose when to get in a fight with NPCs,  
      • you know (more or less) what you'll be faced with, ahead of time, and can prepare accordingly, 
      • you can (in most cases) opt out, if things don't look like they're going to go your way.
      Compare to PvP… yeah, symmetry is beautiful.
      PvP is likely to be the exact opposite of PvE, unless you play The gank (as described in  yesterday's filler), which is basically the equivalent of ratting harmless players. As luck would have it, and as hinted above, most carebears early experience with PvP happens to be in the role of the gankee, which shows them how much it sucks to be a belt NPC, and hammers in the lesson that being on the losing end of PvP (gank really, but that's all they know at this stage) also sucks immensely.

      Why would they make such a big deal of losing a ship to a couple lowsec pirates jumping them in the middle of a mission ? Hmm, let's see:
      • Maybe because they've entered the mission with a mind set to optimize a run through deadspace in the cleanest, most efficient and bump-less way, with every angle covered and complete information about the situation they get in, something all their PvE experience has taught them to do very well, while un-preparing them for the unexpected, which is therefore perceived not as an exciting opportunity for some good spirited skirmish, but as a nuisance akin to patent griefing.
        This is the common root of the "Why wouldn't they leave me alone ?" syndrome, and of the absolute lack of mutual empathy between many pirates and carebears.

      • Or maybe, because of the aforementioned flawed assumption that they should be reasonably safe from interference (as a result of them not interfering with anyone) they boarded their very best (and most expensive) T2 or faction BS, rigged with the best gear l00t and ISK can afford, and they just lost the raw equivalent of a small capital fleet to a pair of '09ers T1 cruisers — it's certainly part of the beauty of EVE that such a feat is at all possible, but if you look at it from the wrong perspective, it can really seem ugly.

      • Or maybe, because once the reds showed up on overview it was over in a few agonizing seconds, just long enough to fully measure how defenseless and irrelevant the prey is to how this is going to end.  Yes, that's why some of them just log off in disgust with half-shields still up.
        Losing is one thing, being denied the ability to play is another, and for most PvE-bred players, PvP, from experience, is a strictly one-sided game where only the aggressors get to play, which is the absolute zero degree of fun for the guy on the receiving end of the bashing.

      Are carebears really sad pandas ?
       …to be protected and segregated in natural parks where they would be left alone to chew roids and bamboo ?

      Obviously not, but they're not a species of sheep either, only meant to feed the self-proclaimed wolves of EVE, most of whom really are more carrion-pecking poultry than super-predators to begin with.

      I'm a carebear who digs PvP, most of the best and brightest FCs and combat spacenerds I've met in over 5 years in EVE are either carebears, roleplayers or competitive-sports types who're unlikely to be found ganking a mining op (unless repeatedly asked to), yet almost any of those have harassed 0.0 complex-runners at a point or another… so where's the difference ?

      Context is: they did so in order to deny the enemy the ISK that would otherwise fund their capital fleet, and to remove the perceived incentive for clinging to a specific portion of space — and if you got to steal ph4t l00t from expensive ships' wrecks in the process, all the better.

      For those with a problem discerning the obvious: this is not mere post-facto rationalization for piracy (which needs no apologizing anyway), this is PvP with meaning, and believe it or not, many carebears will jump into that kind of stuff with two feet, the moment they realize they can actually participate.

      There is a world of difference between going only after random easy prey because that's all your inadequate e-cojones will let you, versus targeting the weak spots of a formidable opponent because that's a part of how to win a war. This may be putting too fine a point for some, but that subtlety isn't lost on warring pandas.

      Panning for fangs.

      Do I really believe all Empire carebears are beasts-of-war waiting to happen, and anyone with a positive kill/loss ratio is a cowardly shithead not worth the carbon expense ? Naah. Just let me find my Sturgeon abacus and you'll see why I seem to favor the fluffy ones: it'll all make sense in a minute.

      [For the sake of argument, I'll assume the actual hot bodies/accounts ratio is sensibly the same on either side  of the PvP—carebear divide (almost all PvPers have reason to own 'safe' alts for practical purposes, and many PvE activities lend themselves to easy multiboxing).]

      Pulling stats out of thin air, I can make a (very conservative) bet that people who  currently avoid  PvP combat (if given the choice) outnumber other EVE players at least 3 to 1, but just to be safe, I'll go with 2-to-1, and assume 1/4 of EVE playerbase will never leave a station, or quit the game altogether before they have to enter a fight against anything remotely sentient.

      That gives us (again, conservatively) something like 150k accounts controlled by actively-non-PvPing players, 75k dead-for-the-pool accounts that are beyond salvaging, and 75k actively-PvPing (anywhere from occasional to primary playstyle).

      By Sturgeon Law, that's about 7.5k players/accounts who engage in what I'd call interesting PvP combat, focusing on challenging/dangerous targets as a rule (the sportsman described in yesterday's filler), and/or whose pew-pew fits a higher purpose than raking stats, and is  directly informed by a strategic take on the game (that doesn't apply to faceless grunts forced into blobs as the price to keep their ratting/mining privileges in alliances, btw, only the fraction who willingly plays the wargame, regardless of role).
      It also translates in at least 15k players who are not currently engaging in PvP combat as a significant part of their playstyle, yet aren't in EVE because they took a wrong turn and thought it was WoW, only in spaace.

      If even half of that untapped reserve of potential werebears could be successfully converted, we'd  double the population of PvPers worth the name. That's a prospect I find exciting, and so should you — if you like your fights interesting.

      Sending out a calling.

      PvErs are used to play low-risk/high stakes, and their natural drive to high stakes plays a large part in keeping them away from PvP, where the lack of control they have over chances mixes badly with their tendency to always bet big.

      The first step in learning PvP is that you can't control the risk but you can mitigate its consequences by being smart about how much you put on the line. A common saying in EVE is "Don't fly what you can't afford to lose", and for once that piece of common wisdom is not just posturing bullshit.
      Translated for carebears it should be understood as "Don't fly what you aren't prepared to lose".

      Once you've got that part down, all you need to do is practice living at higher risk. Go, dare, die, you'll be surprised to find you have more balls attached than most -10 retards you run into.

      At some point, it'll get mildly boring… that just means you're finally ready to up the ante to high-risk/high-stakes PvP: the part of the game less than 4% of the playerbase, and less than one in ten 'PvPers' will ever dare experience — it simply pwns.
      Congratulations: a Warring Panda is you.

      Parting words of dubious wisdom.

      • If you're a carebear reading this, take my word for it:
      I'm one of you, and I know there is more fun and sense of accomplishment for you to gain from  interesting PvP combat than you'll ever get mastering the subtleties of the perfect run through a lvl 5 mission.
      Also make your peace with the fact you don't know jack about PvP yet, that none of your PvE experience and 00ber gear really translates into making you combat-ready.
      Enroll in some PvP classes, start your baby-piewate alt corp and go out looking for trouble in T1 kits, die a lot, try to kill something with guns and half a brain fitted while you do… Play high risks but low-stakes for a bit — I know it's counter-intuitive for you, but that's how you start in a new game, and PvP is another game entirely.

      • If you're a pirate or PvP corp looking for a challenge and new blood to add to your crew, unlock the drawer, put on your e-balls, and go after big game.
      You may die more than you kill, at least for a while, but you'll get thrills like you never felt since your first fights. Also consider spreading the love: run PvP classes, answer the convo of the guy you just killed, and if he's not smacking, take a moment to explain how you trapped him and what he could do better next time. In short, try and play in ways that lead you to care more, you'll thank me later.

      • If you're running an Empire carebear corp, think about going on low/nullsec hikes in expendable ships, once in a while.
      Don't be afraid of it blowing back. Nullsec alliances won't bother  retaliating with  empire wars against another no-name piratic band roaming through their space: it keeps their miners and patrols on their toes, which is only healthy.
      You have no idea of the effect sharing the thrill of battle can have on your carebears' cohesion and loyalty until you try.

      • If you're a dev at CCP, a CSM, or anyone with the will and time to lobby for changes in the game:
      Help CCP make PvE less of a brainwashing machine towards victimhood.
      Have it teach players to deal with the unexpected as par for the course, upgrade rats so they chase players who run away, and break engagement when kited. We all know AIs don't have to suck so much, they come pre-nerfed to make things easy on the lazy and dim-witted, and those aren't helping EVE get any better.
      You may lose a few lemmings to WoW, but you'll attract  and breed fanged bears, and those will make EVE a much more exciting PvP sandbox than the hordes of part-time sociopathic brats who currently make the bulk of your PvP l33t.