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.


      Wednesday, November 18, 2009

      Paper tigers, roleplayers with fangs, the carebear paradox.

      [Editor's note: I'm well aware PvP in EVE goes beyond mere pew-pew, and extends to other fields that don't necessarily involve explosions. This entry is mostly about the ka-boomey kind of PvP, yet also about how it ties to the bigger picture, so there's something to love for everybody in there.]


      I wouldn't call myself a typical PvP'er, at least not in the sense most die-hard fighters in EVE understand it.

      My kind is coming from the ages of old-school, to-the-bone PvP: I'm a no-frills, permadeath roleplayer, of the sort who had to be explained that retiring his main and rolling a new toon after losing his first pod on a 2 years old character (in mid-2005 that made you a veteran) is *not* the way EVE is intended to be played.

      That's right, I find the death penalty too easy and forgiving, in a game that proudly claims to be home to the most obnoxious griefers and hardcore PvP scumbags in the history of gaming — this side of Ultima Online, that is. That puts me in a favorable position to look down my nose at the internet tough men gesticulations of so-called hardcore PvP'ers in EVE, because I know how easy we have it, what with cheap clones and insurance, and no XP loss unless you really demand it…

      On the plus side, if the death penalty is nothing worth quivering in my trendy-yet-affordable roleplayer boots, dramatic consequences can potentially hinge on the fate of a single ship, which occasionally makes for truly knuckle-whitening fights.

      The fact of EVE is a single boat's cargo bay can carry the hopes and future of an entire corporation or alliance, be it a stack of rare blueprints, a few cans of very expensive resupply of faction modules for your entire fleet, or the egg-shaped hulk of an outpost about to be launched.
      Thus, if and when the outcome of a PvP confrontation in EVE means srs bzns, it has everything to do with the bigger picture, all about what may (or won't) happen as a consequence of who lives or 'dies' through the battle, above and beyond the mere tally of killmails and corpses.

      And this, if you followed me thus far, shall lead you to the same shocking conclusion I've reached:

      The only 'true' PvPers in EVE-Online are carebears.

      Need help connecting those dots, do you ?
      Always happy to help…

      On a broad scale there are three kinds of PvP combat in EVE:

      • The contest of skill:
      Best seen in FPS and RTS games: players start on a relatively even playing field, and the best(s) win. This is competition in the sporting sense, where players go toe-to-toe and measure their skill against each other. This is rarely if ever to be seen in sandbox MMO*, due to limitations in game mechanics (PvE centric games) or to uneven matching of contestants (see The gank below).

      Also attempted in many PvE-centric MMOs that offer some kind of 'PvP arena', typically with moderate success (as player skills usually are less of a factor than the respective 00berness of the gear packed by competitors).

      • The gank:
      The most frequent kind of PvP encountered in freeform games such as EVE, where your average fight is grossly biased in favor of the attacker, while the other party qualifies more as a victim than a contestant. Happens as a natural side-effect of the freedom enjoyed by players to only seek the brand of trouble they know they easily can handle, and by the willingness/candor of some players who expose themselves to surprise rape. It is characterized by its own-sided nature, and the fact the 'winner' satisfaction doesn't come from besting a worthy foe, but merely from the thrill of inflicting PK-pain for its own sake.
      Although some consider this frequent imbalance a necessary price to pay for the unique excitement coming from a 'sandbox' PvP game, others call it institutionalized bullying — both views are arguably valid.

      • The carebear/roleplayer PvP:
      …a.k.a 'pew-pew with a cause'. This is the sort of PvP players engage in to further an objective of a larger order than the advance of a ranking on some killboard ladder, or the cheap thrills gained from licking the delicious tears of outrage of griefed noobs. These players don't play '4 teh LULz' or for 'easy killmails', they play with a plan. For them war is indeed the natural continuation of politics, and they get to experience the full available breadth of PvPness EVE has to offer.

      And that's the bone of it: no matter how good one's kill/loss ratio looks, it doesn't amount to squat unless you really mean it.
      Players who set out to prey on easy targets for the win aren't PvP'ing more than people grinding lvl4 missions in Empire are PvP'ing the rats… By not fully committing to the fight, overly minimizing risks taken and potential consequences to live with, and by making sure one's prey is not threatening enough to be acknowledged as a real 'player' opponent, the majority of so-called PvPers are denying themselves the opportunity to fully engage in actual PvP play.

      The only people left to play 'serious PvP'… well, they are the roleplayers and carebears, the very groups our wimpy intarweb spacenerds posturing as hardened warriors love to scorn and paint as the opposite of PvPers.


      [This all started with a conversation I had yesterday with a fellow long-time EVE player.
      A self-proclaimed carebear, if not much of a roleplayer, he never got around to really jump into PvP and enjoy it, despite seeing the obvious attraction and the potential for meaningful PvP in EVE.
      I'll expand in the next downtime filler on why it is so many carebears hate PvP, and how to help it.]

      Tuesday, November 17, 2009

      Strategic Overview

      It just hit me that a sub-feature I envisioned for TacMaps could be implemented in today's EVE at very little cost, simply refactoring already available information in a different rendering.

      Strategic Overview would allow you to bring up a synthetic view of a Constellation of Solar system, in the spirit of Battlefield Intelligence.

      By selecting a Constellation, you would get a simple list of Systems within, with a few critical bits of information for each:
      • Sovereignty (FactionName, Abandoned), State (Controlled, Neutralized, Challenged), Outposts (number), Capital (yes/no), LastInfoUpdate.

      For a Solar system, you'd get a similar breakdown of Sun, Planets and Stargates, with color-coded icons to highlight their general state, and the same three bits of info:
       • Ownership (FactionName, Abandoned), State (Controlled, Neutralized, Challenged), LastInfoUpdate.

      Planets could be expanded to give you the same info for each Planet and its possible Outposts and POS-ed moons (again with a highlighted icon to tell you at a glance if one or more moons have POSes, and if there's a beef there, before you even expand the planet's moon cluster line).

      A marginally smarter version of this should be able to show you what the matter is by selecting a specific item, and show you what your Faction is missing to get a hold of it, skill requirements-style: for a Neutralized Planet, you could see instantly how many Stargates you (don't) Control, how many are needed before you can have a go at the DCC, etc.

      Strategic Overview could be implemented without much trouble under Apocrypha, easier even under the dumbed-down Dominion model, and would obviously make common sense under Exegesis.

      Just a thought…

      Monday, November 16, 2009

      DevBlog #707 — 3rd QEN

      Don't get me wrong, I can see the appeal of bringing a 'real' economist on board to help with the management of in-game economy, and I can see how my first move would be to reach out to economists I know… that is, provided they fit the bill.

      Instead, CCP went the way of CCP, and hired a cousin fanboi drinking buddy based on his credentials of downing Egils Sterkur and finding EVE awesome.

      On the plus side, that gets us this kind of gem:

      When large external events like these happen they of course impact relative prices within EVE but the robustness of the market quickly allows prices to reflect these changes or shocks to the market.  This might be a good lesson regarding our real life economies, showing that if we allow markets to adjust without intervention from governments they correct much quicker than when we try to steer prices to the "correct" level - given that the rules of the market are clear and that information flows relatively freely between agents on the market.

      That's coming from CCP's 'real' economist: Dr Eyjólfur Guðmundsson… of Iceland, the first western country since the 1970's to call on the IMF to save their hide from the boon of "free-flowing information" and "clear market rules".

      CSM 4th — my Dutch auction.

      As mentioned in a previous post, Dierdra Vaal [E-UNI] has started an interesting project to help players figure who can best represent them for CSM.
      Basically, it's a quiz you have to take as honestly as possible, which will then match it against the CSM candidates (who have previously answered the same questions). You can find it here.

      Of course the quiz must be reasonably short, or the tl;dr rule would kick in and make it pointless ; thus the selection of questions is critical, and I fear it's not as all-encompassing or devoid of inductive effects as it should/could be, but it's a worthy effort nonetheless.

      I took a bit of time to review this term's candidates over the last two weeks, and my Vote Match results didn't fall too far off from what I found by actually reading programs, looking up posting history and listening/reading interviews and propaganda.

      For what it's worth, here are the top 5 candidates Dierdra's Vote Match found for me (links go to the respective campaign websites):
      …and yes my many-although-less-than-a-year-ago alts voted en masse for somebody(s) in that lot.


      [Credit where credit is due: Serenity Steele, of EVE-maps fame, is hosting the Vote Match — and running for CSM, too — but she didn't break past 52% on my results.]

      Sunday, November 15, 2009

      Commandeering (part 1)

      At the core of Exegesis sovereignty mechanics sits FoF Tuning, a non-destructive PvP system that enables players to seize control of enemy assets, as opposed to ka-blooing them.

      FoF Tuning applications aren't limited to sovereignty contests, however: much like a TacMap would, they come in to fill ancient holes in the feature set of EVE, and today's "I could do that last century" segment is about:

      At heart, Commandeering is self-explanatory: it gives players the ability you hijack third-party ships and space assets for the benefit of their faction, corporation or self.

      The basic gameplay is straightforward, too: find a suitable target, apply FoF Tuner modules to it for a while, and the coveted thingy is yours. That's if nobody tries to stop you, of course.

      From a game mechanics standpoint, here's how it works:
      FoF Tuners are high-slot utility modules. They emit FoF Tuning signal to the specific frequency of a Faction, Corporation or Pilot. When aimed at an applicable target, this signal is either added to the target current tuning charge (if the emitter and target frequencies match) or subtracted from it (if they differ).
      Which of three possible frequencies a FoF Tuner is emitting can be selected automatically (default) or manually (with Scripts). [More on FoF Tuners]
      Most things found in space that belong to players (and some NPC stuff) are susceptible to Commandeering/FoF Tuning. That includes ships, anchorables and deployables, various can types, POS towers and modules, outposts, stargates… pretty much anything save corpses can potentially be snatched away or repossessed through Commandeering.

      Tuning states:

      The status of any space asset is decided over two key attributes: Ownership and Control.

      The process of Commandeering amounts to modifying a space asset's Tuning charge and frequency in such a way as to shift it it to a new Controller (and possibly Owner).

      Ownership can be Owned or Abandoned.
      • If Owned, an Owner is defined. The Owner can be a Faction, Corporation or Pilot (usually the Controller).
      Control can be Controlled, Neutralized, Challenged.
      • If Controlled, a Controller is defined. The Controller is the a Faction, Corporation or Pilot (in many cases the same as the Owner) that last brought the target to its Nominal Tuning Charge.

      • If Neutralized, a Contender may be defined. The Contender is a Faction, Corporation or Pilot in favor of which the target is currently holding a positive FoF Tuning charge, after the object has been brought to 0.0 Ts, and while it hasn't yet been tuned back up to its NTC.

      • If Challenged, a Challenger is defined. The Challenger is the Faction, Corporation or Pilot in favor of which the target is currently holding a positive (yet insufficient to gain Control) FoF Tuning charge, after the object has been tuned back up to its NTC from a Neutralized state by the  Contender.
      • Commandeering a target requires to feed it enough FoF Tuning signal to first bring its Tuning charge down to 0.00 Ts, at which point its Control flips to Neutralized ; then push some more signal to pump it to a positive charge in your favor, which switches its Control to Challenged, and makes you the Challenger. With another healthy helping of your FoF frequency signal, the tuning charge in your favor can be brought up to the target's Nominal Tuning Charge (NTC) threshold, which will gain you Controller status over the target — in many cases this will also grant Ownership to the Controller.
      • Reducing the Tuning Charge of a target by feeding it a different FoF Frequency (than its current Challenger/Controller's) is known as Neutralizing.

      • Increasing the Tuning Charge of a target by feeding it the same FoF Frequency as its current Contender/Challenger/Controller is known as Tuning Up.

      • Successfully tuning a target up to its NTC and gaining Control over it is known as Commandeering.
      The typical states a target goes through in the course of Commandeering are as follows:
      1. Owned/Controlled: Tuning charge remains positive for the Controller ever since it reached NTC.
      2. Owned/Neutralized: Attackers have brought the object Tuning charge down to 0.00 Ts.
      3. Owned/Challenged: the Contender FoF frequency has successfully charged the object up to its NTC, switching its state to Challenged (and resetting its tuning charge to 25% NTC), and is now tuning it positively again, but still below NTC.
      4. Owned/Controlled: the target Tuning charge has hit NTC from a Challenged state, granting Control  to the Challenger, thus making it the (new ?) Owner.
      This sequence is the most commonplace and applies to ships and the majority of non-sovereignty-bound objects under usual circumstances.
      Some special targets may become Abandoned immediately around phase 3, when they become Challenged (ex: Dungeons Control Centers, POS), while others will see their Ownership remain unaffected by a change of Controller in phase 4 (ex: 'rescued' ships, or Dungeon Mass Drivers).
      [It is worth noting that reaching phase 2 or moving to phase 3-4 against Sovereignty Structures may present significantly different challenges, but since this article focuses primarily on Commandeering ships, we'll get back to that later.]

      Tuning Charge:

      All space assets susceptible of being Commandeered can hold a positive Tuning charge of a single FoF frequency at any one time. A few important factors in the level of this charge are worth knowing.

      • Nominal Tuning Charge (NTC): This is the required level an item must be charged up to, in order to Commandeer it.
        Its base value is set by the item TypeID, and can be increased  by Sovereignty modifiers, Tuning Amplifiers Rigs (for ships only), Tuning Amplifiers Arrays (POS and Outposts) to compute the ETC.

      • Effective Tuning Capacity (ETC): the maximum charge the item can currently hold, based on NTC plus modifiers such as FoF Tuning skill level (on ships), sovereignty benefits, etc.
        ETC is almost always higher than NTC, and increases the asset's defensive buffer against Neutralization attempts (but not Commandeering proper, which is based on NTC).

      • Passive Tuning Recharge (PTR): The ability for a space asset to regenerate lost Tuning charge over time,  up to its ETC. Many space assets can enjoy this benefit, although it may be dependent on sovereignty modifiers/prerequisites to work properly.
        Ships have a built-in PTR that's always on as long as there's a pilot aboard, and which can be boosted by the FoF Tuning skill and by sovereignty  modifiers.
        Outposts, POS, Stargates, deployable defenses, DMD and DCC also have a PTR (subject to sovereignty conditions/modifiers).
        Cans, secure cans, anchorable bubbles, construction platforms don't benefit from PTR.

        • Of note: ships left floating in space Abandoned (even inside a friendly forcefield) will suffer a 'negative PTR' of sorts, as their Tuning charge will slowly start to decay toward Neutralized.

      Who can Commandeer what, and in whose name ?

      Any pilot with the skills and FoF Modules fitted can attempt Commandeering, but some targets such as POS and sovereignty-bound structures can only be Commandeered in the name of a Player Corporation or Faction, and as such are off-limits for players in NPC 'noob' corps.

      Player-controlled ships and drones are always fair targets for everyone (although Commandeering a Capital ship with a single cruiser may prove impractical), and select NPC ships can also fall prey to FoF tuners (mostly in the context of epic/special missions).

      • Pilots in NPC corps can only use Tuners set to their personal frequency, and can't Commandeer for Corp or Faction. Likewise their ships are always Owned in personal name. [Doesn't apply to FW militias/corps, see below.]

      • FW militias, both NPC corporations and enlisted player corps are not considered NPC and are treated like 'real' corporations for the purposes of Commandeering rules.

      Commandeering Ships.

      • Manned Ships:

      Can technically be Neutralized, Tuned Up and Commandeered anywhere, but doing so can be an Aggression/Criminal Act, with potentially ka-bloo-ey consequences in lawful space.
      • Manned ships are immune to FoF Tuning while their structural integrity is not compromised. They become vulnerable while their structure is damaged to 95% or below, provided their shields and armor remain under 15%.

      • While its Control is in a Challenged state, a ship is largely disabled: the pilot retains control of steering and the ability to warp, dock, or jump/accelerate through a gate/portal, but can't activate modules or drive-jump under her ship's own power.
        Ejecting and activating self-destruction of the ship both remain possible at any time.

      • If the Challenger(s) manage(s) to gain Control over the ship and the ship's Owner changes as a result, the pilot is forcibly ejected, leaving the ship vulnerable to boarding by the new Owner(s).
      • Unmanned ships: 

      Unmanned ships floating in space (in or out of forcefields) retain their tuning charge and Controller for at least a while if left alone, but their Ownership status changes to Abandoned after three minutes without a Pilot aboard.
      A Pilot member of a Faction can board any ship Owned or Controlled by her Corporation, Faction, or self, but not a ship Owned by another Corporation in same Faction (unless her Faction is the Controller).
      • Boarding a ship that is Abandoned requires its Control to be either Neutral, or Challenged/Controlled in favor of the boarding Pilot personal/Corp/Faction FoF frequency.

      • On boarding, an Abandoned ship's Owner attribute will automatically change to its new Pilot (if Control was Neutral before), or match the current Challenger/Controller.

      • Abandonned ships can be Neutralized or Tuned up without the requirement to first bring them down into structure — if nobody's home, the boat is up for grabs and won't resist on its own.

      • Unmanned-yet-still-Owned ships can only be boarded by the ship's Owner(s) or Controllers:
      • A ship Owned by a Faction can be boarded by any member of said Faction, or a member of the Controller entity.

      • A ship Owned by a Corporation can only be boarded by a member of said Corporation, or a member of the Controller entity.

      • A ship Owned privately by a pilot can only be boarded by its Owner, or by a member of the Controller entity.

      The fine print:

      Generally, Commandeering a foreign ship results in the Controller change triggering an Owner change to match, but Owner and Controller of a ship don't always have to be the same inside a Corporation or Faction, with amusing ramifications.
      • Commandeering a Corp-Owned ship within an alliance using the Faction's FoF Frequency will not change the Owner to Faction.
        Thus, a Neutralized/Challenged ship, while Owned by an allied Faction/Corporation can be 'rescued' by  members of a different Corporation in same Faction, provided they tune the ship to the Faction's FoF frequency. Control in this case will be gained by the Faction, but the Ownership will be retained by the same Owner (Corp or Faction), leaving the pilot in the cockpit (unless the ship was previously Owned in Pilot's name, who would then be ejected by the Ownership change).

      • A Neutralized/Challenged ship, while Owned in personal name by a Pilot can be 'carjacked' by  members of her Corporation or Faction, provided they tune the ship to the Corporation/Faction's FoF frequency. Control in this case will be gained by the Corporation/Faction, triggering an Ownership change (to Corp or Faction) that will forcibly eject the Pilot. [Note that the ejected pilot may still end up with proper rights to board the ship again… right after the session change delay.]

      • Commandeering a Faction or Corp-Owned ship using a (different) Corporation FoF frequency (even if belonging to the same Faction) will trigger an Ownership change (to Corp) that will forcibly eject the Pilot (if any).

      Tuning ship settings:

      • Pilots can manually change the Ownership and Control settings of their active ship, either in station (requires access to the Fitting service) or in space (near a Carrier/Ship Maintenance Bay).

      • Corporation officers can edit the O/C settings of assembled ships directly from the Corporate Hangars (requires access to the Fitting Service, or a Maintenance Bay in range if on a POS). 

      • Carrier/Motherships/Titans pilots can modify Owner/Controller settings on the ships stored in their Maintenance Bay if they so choose, which will otherwise remain as they were when they got loaded in.
      • Player-Corporation members have a choice of setting their ship Owner and/or Controller to either 'me' or 'Corporation'.

      • Alliance (and FW) pilots have a choice of setting their ship Owner and/or Controller to either 'me', 'Corporation', or 'Faction'.
      Ownership/Control settings don't have to always match, within limits ('me' as Owner is not compatible with 'Faction' as Controller, for ex).

      As a player corp pilot, setting your ship to 'Corp'/'Corp' is usually the way to go: it gives you maximum flexibility by allowing you to easily swap ships in space with corpmates, and to defend each other against Commandeering attempts while preserving a possible corp-subscribed insurance on your ship.

      If you're member of an alliance 'Corp/Faction' grants you the same level of flexibility without voiding a possible corp insurance on your ship.

      The only sensible reason to fly a ship with Controller/Owner set to 'me' is if you just took advantage of Kill Rights to 'repossess' a ship in space, or if you have to leave your empty ship floating in a POS and don't trust your alliance/corp mates to leave it alone (note that it could still be scooped or easily ejected from the POS after if becomes Abandoned).
      • Packaged ships have no Owner/Controller attributes set, being generic item types and all, while newly-assembled ships will default to Owner: 'PilotName' Controller: 'PilotName' (if assembled in personal hangar), or Owner: 'CorpName' Controller: 'CorpName' if assembled in a Corporate hangar (POS or station).

      • Ships you take from Corporate hangars (including Deliveries), or that are dropped in your personal hangar from/by corporation officers will come with default settings of 'Corp'/'Corp' unless they have been set otherwise by corp officers.

      • Assembled ships received through direct trade or corp/alliance contracts keep their O/C attributes until you board them, at which point you can manually change them.

      • If you're in a NPC corporation, your ship comes pre-set to Owner: you, Controller: you, and you can't change those yourself (except by ejecting, which will reset the Owner to Abandoned after 3 minutes).

      Commandeering and Insurance.

      Contrary to what happens when you contract or repackage your ship, losing it to Commandeering doesn't void your policy, but the beancounters tend to look cross at such claims, and as a rule of thumb you'll get only about 25% of the payout you'd be entitled to on a 'clean' loss.

      Warning: changing the Owner on a ship will void any active Insurance contract previously taken by the former Owner of the ship — keep it in mind when receiving 'corp ships' that may already be insured.

      Commandeering and Kill stats.

      Simply put, being forcibly ejected from your ship in the process of a Commandeering qualifies as a ship loss. Even though the insurance people won't like it, when it comes to Kill Rights, Kill Stats, Kill Boards, Kill Whatever, it counts as such.
      People participating in a successful Commandeering will get credit for any target whose Controller changes as a result of FoF tuning, which means the same ship will ding twice before it (doesn't) change hands in a FoF Tuning contest: once when it becomes Challenged, and once when Control is (re)taken.
      This is intended so rescuers of a distressed ship can get credit for their bloodless achivement.

      Commandeering, as seen by the Space Police:

      Tuning up (or Neutralizing) a target using the exact same FoF frequency as its current Owner is not considered Aggression, but Assist, and falls under the same applicable rules a remote-boost would.
      Neutralizing or Tuning up a target using a different Pilot/Corp/Faction FoF frequency from its current Controller's is always an aggression, but not a Criminal Act if the FoF Frequency used on the target is that of the Owner's Corporation or Faction (or if the Tuner(s) and target are at war, benefit from Kill Rights, etc).
      Members of NPC corporations (except FW Militias against valid FW/war targets) will always be 'perps' when Commandeering a target: NPC corp membership doesn't allow one to Commandeer a 'corpmate' boat more than it makes legal to shoot them.

      Beyond CONCORD, Commandeering can also get you in trouble with NPC Navies and FW Militias, if by chance you're attempting to hijack a stargate in NPC-controlled space


      [In part 2 of this series, we'll have a look at other potential targets for Commandeering, besides ships]