Archive for July, 2010

A Surreal Event :: Two T3 Pilots With A Deathwish

Posted in Roaming on July 30, 2010 by Easley Thames

Coming home from a short roam with a 7-man gang in tow, I got word of some neutral ratters in a nearby Delve constellation. One of the reported characters was piloting a Loki. Worth checking out, I decided, not expecting to catch them in time.

Skipping ahead in the story, I jumped into the system where the Loki had been reported and found the correct belt on the first try. I was in a minmatar recon, and had no worries about holding him if I made the tackle. Unfortunately, I landed a full 80km away! I bookmarked a wreck near him and aligned out to attempt to warp-back on top of him but he warped off-field quickly.

At this point, I assumed that he would go to a PoS or cloak in a safe-spot. I was wrong.

I stopped my ship and scanned in the direction he had warped, deciding to pursue to the second belt. As I entered warp, he landed back in the first belt! I was already at warp-speed and could not stop. Damn! Missed a great chance there, I thought to myself.

Then it occurred to me for the first time, he’s not afraid of engaging me! At this time, a second pilot from his corp entered system. In my belt, the first ship to land was a Proteus! That’s two T3’s willing to throw-down – what a lucky day!

I locked the Proteus and quickly set a wide orbit (blasters are nasty up close). He locked me faster than expected and was able to apply a scram just after I hit my MWD to gain distance. It was clear to me now that this ship was PvP-fit! I took  significant damage, but managed to get outside scram range thanks to my dual-webs and superior base speed. If I had pulsed my MWD half a second earlier, I could have avoided more of the damage, but I was more focused on the tackle than my own survival at this point.

As I exited his blaster range, the dps dropped off, but he still had drones on me. Despite the incomming dps, I was tanking easily and my gang had been called in. Surely I’d have this in the bag, right? That was when someone on voice-comms notified me that they were  2 out, not 1 out, due to my previous orders. That’s what happens when you’re flying around at 4 AM. This mistake in my communication (I wanted them 1 out) would come haunt me later.

The Proteus was joined by the Loki we had come to kill originally, and I soon was webbed, but I continued to maintain a 15+km orbit on the Proteus. Sadly, the Loki’s auto-cannon fire and the drones from both vessels brought me down to 10% shields rather quickly. The web was a significant detrimental effect on my ability to speed-tank drones. With only 1.5k armor and 1.3k structure (or something close to that) I couldn’t stay much longer. I was aligned out to a celestial and my disruptor was overloaded to keep a point on the Proteus.

That’s when a friendly inty landed and tackled the Loki! Woot, at least we’ll get one! At this point, I didn’t feel so bad about saving my own skin, so I warped with the intention to come right back into the fray.

Friendlies were streaming into the system now and the inty had a point, but with two T3 on-field it was a difficult situation for the crusader (scram-fit in this case) and he ended up losing his point before the cavalry landed. That’s 3 errors on our part by this point, and we deserved what came next. The Proteus and Loki warped just as our backup arrived, including a HIC and several close-range BCs with tackle, leaving us all in disbelief for a moment at the sheer “fail” that this moment represented.

It wasn’t that these pilots out-gamed us or hero-tanked our gang while killing tackle, we were our own worst enemy at every turn last night, and that’s why these missed kills affected us so much. The two T3’s escaping shocked us, and we took way too long to get a prober into system. The two T3 logged and escaped us in the end. To sum things up:

We were all very hard  on ourselves, and I was personally in a foul mood all morning today thinking back on that engagement. With many recent T3 kills, some of which were difficult to orchestrate, having two of them willingly engage was a dream come true and we squandered the opportunity.

In truth, the mistakes we made were due to fatigue, if I was more awake I would have double-checked the location of my gang and I might have kited the T3 cruisers better. We’d been out all day, off-and-on, and we were all tired at this late hour.

Overall, this has been a good week. My first few days back since being inactive have seen some nice kills including a Goon Hel and an expensive-loot-carrying T3. We can’t be lucky every time,  and you can bet we’re looking for those guys regularly now. If we ever get a second chance, we’ll make sure to pop them both.

Fixing The Eve UI :: A Few Personal Wishes

Posted in CCP, User Interface on July 28, 2010 by Easley Thames

It’s no secret to anyone with experience playing other MMOs that Eve suffers from one of the most awkward interfaces of any online game.

We are all aware that part of the problem is that the game-play in Eve is fundamentally different from the action-bar-centric games where you control an avatar in worlds with gravity to keep you on the ground (or at least near to it so you have a fixed point of reference).

However, there are many changes that could be made to improve the user experience without requiring a fundamental re-design of the game.

1 – Scanning Changes: There are many ways to improve this system, which is currently a very awkward “drag the camera and click” method.

<> My personal pet-peeve is that un-piloted ships (even those behind a POS forcefield) CANNOT be filtered off the scan results. This makes hunting far more complicated than it should  in certain systems where a moon is directly in-line with belts you will be scanning from your in-gate.

<> Add a “scan angle overlay” option, possibly as part of the tactical HUD we already have in-game. It’s silly that I have to teach new players to use their own ship as an imprecise marker for the center of there scan, and we need a better graphical representation.

<> We need an active scan option that pulses regularly if we are ever going to get local removed. Even if they DO keep local as-is, this would still be useful. Something like a 10-second cycle wouldn’t be as good as a human-operator mashing “scan,” so this puts it in-line with the philosophy of autopilot. Namely, that automated piloting options are acceptable as long as they are less effective than manual operation.

<> Key-bindings for widening/narrowing the scan area. Currently, you need to shift the camera and then mouse over to the scan button (or change the angle, which also initiates a scan). I think there could be bound scan options, such as “scan 360, scan ahead 90 degrees, etc.”

<> Remove the damned scan delay!  Being able to scan more times while in warp is very useful to me and I am annoyed at the loss of functionality. Was the impact on game performance really THAT bad? How about a shorter reduction? I would settle for a .25 or .5 second delay.

2- Hangar Changes: For anyone with many of the same ship in one hangar, it can get confusing as to the fitting of any particular vessel. Short of naming each ship (which can’t be done without climbing inside) with its exact fit using some arcane code, there is no  method to do what I want to do (look at the setup without a session change). There are many other frustrations, even with the advent of the saved fittings.

<> Please let me look at the fitting of any ship in my hangar in a new window, without requiring me to pilot it. You can call this option “view fitting” when it appears on the over-used drop-down menu of doom.

<> I wouldn’t mind being able to rename ships without jumping inside, but this is a lesser issue to me.

<> Allow us to remotely strip the fittings off ships. This often causes issues when contracting items to a courier, since damaged items cannot be packaged.

3- Overview Changes: The overview is something unique to Eve (well… barring Perpetuum which is more or less a direct transplant of Eve game-play mechanics into a planetary-bound mecha game). The problems with the overview range from the size of the window and difficulty of setting it up tabs as a new-player into more complex concerns such as being unable to set a variety of pre-configured orbits and “keep-at’s” for use in tense situations.

<> Please let me save a variety of orbit ranges that I frequently use. It costs precious seconds to continually type in numbers for “orbit at” or to keep using the drop down menu in combat. This needs to be handled more seamlessly. Pre-set orbit ranges would help somewhat, possibly in button form. I think the window with buttons for “approach,” “orbit,” “keep at range” and many other maneuvers needs work and should be integrated into a re-design of how we interact with the overview.

<>Simplify the creation of overview states and tabs. It’s just too complex for a newbie and even I sometimes face frustration when, with the creation of a new patch, I have to add various ships or objects back into my saved overview configurations.

<> Bloated size and the high-cost of adding additional columns. It can really, really get out of hand when you incorporate corp + alliance tickers, velocity, angular speed (the number that matches your tracking without doing any mental math) and various other essentials. A more elegant solution must exist. One suggestion I have is to offer the option to integrate the angular speed, transverseal and standard velocity into a single column.

<> I want the option to have two or more overviews open at once, each with different information. I would also like to be able to apply different filters on each one. Having a single interface for targeting ships while another displays celestial objects of my choosing would be very useful in combat. For those with multiple-monitors, this change would be even more empowering.

4- Local Changes: I am going to set aside the issue of local functioning as an intelligence tool in this post, simply because that’s a topic that deserves many posts in-itself. However, with local functioning as-is, I think there is a need for a few optimizations that would improve the game-play experience for everyone in Eve.

<> Allow me to turn on or off a  “local standings count” of hostile, neutral and friendly pilots. It’s so stupid that in the distant future, my ship’s computer can only display the raw number of pilots in my system, but is incapable of allowing me to view a simply summary of the pilots under red, grey and blue tags. In the status quo, standings are already visible in local, but we have to manually count the numbers to determine this information. In busy systems, such as high-sec trading  hubs, it can also be infuriating trying to keep track of the number of war targets. This is not just a 0.0 issue!

<> Allow me to link a click-able list of all pilots in local to any other channel, so that scouts don’t have to drag and drop every hostile manually when sharing intel with a gang.

<> Allow me to sort the list of pilots in local with a number of filters (standings and war-target or militia status being the most important among all possibilities).

This is not a comprehensive laundry-list of problems with the game’s interface, but I think that these changes would result in a much more enjoyable and less-tedious experience for me and many other pilots.

Furthermore, I realize that some of the flawed features I pointed out, particularly those related to local chat, may have been purposefully left obtuse and hard to operate to offer protection to various play-styles in-game. However, I am strongly opposed to hamstringing the user interface and making it less user-friendly  simply to balance perceived in-game risks against a particular group of players.

What The Hel??

Posted in IT Alliance on July 27, 2010 by Easley Thames

After coming home from work, I logged-in to add a skill to my training queue before forming up a roam. At least, that was the plan. My plans changed quickly when Hasra Azmat announced to the alliance that he was “sitting on top of a Goon Hel” in a nearby Delve system.

It would be an understatement to say that this report caught my attention. At first I expected to hear, “oh damn he got out,” but we were able to get a dictor on-scene quickly and the reality set-in that we had a good shot at killing this guy.

Perseus moved a cyno into position while I burned at full-speed in a snipe-fit HAC. The Hel pilot logged shortly after being tackled, but our alliance showed how quickly we can respond to a threat at home by quickly forming a respectable showing of caps, super-caps and support.

The Hel was destroyed less than 1 minute after we cyno’d in the caps, and his loot was quickly snatched by all involved. On the topic of loot, I’m rather jealous of whoever picked up the officer cloak.

It’s also curious that he had so many shield books in his hold… is there a chance this guy was under-skilled for a super carrier? No way to know for sure, but according to battle clinic he hasn’t been active in any PvP in 9 months.

My theory is that the pilot just came back from being inactive, expecting to log into friendly space, only to find that the POS he logged in is now a hostile tower. It was unlucky for him that our pilot was on-the-ball and immediately seized this unique opportunity for a supercap kill in our own backyard. Mad props to you sir.

First Night Back :: A Roam and More

Posted in Against All Authorities, Roaming on July 23, 2010 by Easley Thames

I’ve been inactive most of June and July due to real life constraints on my time, but starting now I should be flying regularly again. It goes without saying that this means I’ll have blog-worthy material once again.

Tonight, after logging in, I got caught up with various pilots from are all over the map (both politically and geographically).  Seeing boxes pop up with convo-requests from old friends is always a good feeling.

Among those who greeted me were my fellow corp-mates.  Perseus and other officers wanted me to take out a roam, and so we did. After adding some new bookmarks to my collection (the Delve jump bridge network has really improved in a noticeable way since I was last active) we made best speed for Catch.

On the way over, we missed a couple ratting AAA Citizens, but we did score a high-value  -A- Tengu kill on a Burn Eden pilot. He was carrying some excellent loot including T2 salvage, dead-space modules, faction ammo and many skill books. The Caldari Navy launchers alone were a very nice drop. The Tengu pilot didn’t take anyone down with him, but he did leave us with a message of defiance by re-naming his ship something colorful before it exploded!

With the recent addition of Burn Eden and Outbreak, -A- has strengthened its already active base of small-gang roamers and it was surprising for us to see the Tengu pilot caught so simply (without a bubble or bait). However, with a dual-web rapier and his very slow reaction time, we managed to prevent him from getting back to the gate.

It was observed that he may have even been afk, since he took so long to begin moving to the gate after de-cloaking, but he had been active in the previous system and it seems unlikely to me that he would afk on a gate with neutral pilots in system. The world may never know, but it was surely a great way to come back into roaming.

In any case, we are very happy to have so many targets set neutral nearby. You can say the two hemispheres in this game are identical, but I really feel that the most action for small gang roams right now is in the South. After scoring the Tengu kill we engaged a few ships on a nearby station but did not manage to kill either of them before they de-aggressed and docked. Onto Curse, I decided, for reasons that will become apparent soon.

In Curse, I was able to pickup some stranded loot and move around ships. This achieved my second goal for the day, which was to sort out part of my logistics mess. We then took the loot from the Tengu and some other faction kills (left in Curse from previous ops) into empire where an alt will sell it and transfer the funds at a later date.

It was very late when we started, and everyone had enjoyed themselves thus far, so we decided to head home. In summary: No losses, 1 quality kill, several scraps with our neighbors and a decent amount of isk to be made from the loot we scored. I couldn’t ask for a better late-night op to pick up the game again.