Thursday, August 26, 2010

EVE's Manual

Did you know that there was a Manual for EVE. As in the kind of manual you would find in most other games giving a complete and comprehensive description of everything you need to know to use the game. Well by god there turns out to be a 400 page manual describing everything from the skill queue to mining to trading to turrets to the fitting screen. Bloody amazing.

Click here to go to download site - ISK 2.0

Of course it is not actually published by CCP, rather by a bunch of Hungarians with more time on their hands then they know what to do with. Great job guys! Amazing work that should be standard reading for all new players (and old ones).

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

RPS: CCP And The Wrath Of The Playerbase

Over at Rock Paper Shotgun (RPS) there is a great article CCP And The Wrath Of The Playerbase. RPS interviews CCP Zulu, the Senior Producer for EVE Online. It is a fascinating read. It clearly indicates that CCP Zulu is one of those clever marketing types with a silver tongue. I particularly like the following exchange...

RPS: Why can’t you commit any resources to the “core issues” raised for eighteen months?

Gylfason: This misunderstanding of 18 months comes up a lot and I’d like to correct it. We have for the past few years been very focused on adding new features to EVE Online. We added Factional Warfare, Wormhole exploration, Loyalty Points stores, Planetary Interaction and tech 3 ships to name a few. During this era of expanding the gameplay we shifted our focus somewhat away from iterating and refactoring on older game systems and features. What we’ve been doing for the past few months is move that focus back. Over the next months we will be increasing our focus on iteration up to the point where, 18 months or so from now, we are only doing work on existing gameplay.–both in terms of polish and general refactoring for scalability purposes. The EVE Development team counts around 140 people (closer to 200 when you count in developers contributing to deliver Incarna and our core technology group) now and the choice between iteration and new feature development isn’t a binary one, it’s more of a gradient scale and we’ve already started moving the needle on that towards iteration.

In other words this misunderstanding about 18 months is silly, blah blah new features blah blah farmville in space blah blah, and in 18 to 36 months we will be working on the core issues.

Great, I feel better already. :)

Now if you actually want to feel better go and read the exceptional devblog fixing lag: module lag - why not all bugfixes are a good idea. I will summarize it for you. The CSM described what has happening while under lag conditions. The developers managed to reproduce it. The developers quantified that it was a big issue. The developers identified the lines of code that were the problem. Although the bug is hard to solve the developers are working like mad to fix it, and not just give it a patch, but fixing the underlying cause of the bug.

There, now I do feel much better now.

Note to CCP: we are not idiots, don't give us marketingspeak from those MBA type ... give us details from the geek programmers instead.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Blog Banter #20 - EVE = Griefing

Welcome to the twentieth installment of the EVE Blog Banter, the monthly EVE Online blogging extravaganza created by CrazyKinux. The EVE Blog Banter involves an enthusiastic group of gaming bloggers, a common topic within the realm of EVE Online, and a week to post articles pertaining to the said topic. The resulting articles can either be short or quite extensive, either funny or dead serious, but are always a great fun to read! Any questions about the EVE Blog Banter should be directed to Check out other EVE Blog Banter articles at the bottom of this post!

With the recent completion of the 3rd installment of the Hulkageddon last month, @CyberinEVE, author of Hands Off, My Loots!, asks: "Griefing is a very big part of EVE. Ninja Salvaging, Suicide Ganking, Trolling, and Scamming are all a very large part of the game. What do you think about all these things? You can talk about one, or all...but just let us know your overall opinion on Griefing, and any recommendations you may have to change it if you think it's needed."

Not really understanding what a Griefer is or what Griefing means I, like any other citizen of the web, took a look at wikipedia for the authorative description. In the article there are a list of things that are considered 'Griefing;.

* Intentional friendly fire
* Using third-party hack programs
* Falsely accusing others of griefing behavior
* Written and/or verbal insults
* Exploitation of unintended game mechanics
* Stealing other players' items and/or experience (when done for the purpose of harassment, not self-gain)
* Spamming
* Spawn camping
* Twinking
* Acting out-of-character in a role-play setting
* Saying or doing something just to irritate, upset, or otherwise harass someone
* Creating multiple subscription accounts
* Purposely not assisting the team (e.g. "feeding" (deliberately helping the other team by getting "killed"), wasting key game elements)
* Collusion with the opposition
* Repeatedly trying to steal another player's kills so that their time is wasted.
* Blocking another player's way so they cannot move or get out of a particular area.
* Luring many monsters or one big one to chase the griefer and then rushing to where he wants to unleash them. The line of monsters in pursuit looks like a train, and hence this is sometimes called "Training."

By that description, with the exception of using a Hack, pretty much everything that is considered griefing is a big part of EVE. In a sense EVE as a game has embraced griefing as a part of the game. One example of this has to be the effect that the SomethingAweful forums have had on EVE. These players join MMOs and then try and mess with them through griefing. In most games these players are hated by other players and especially by the developers. However, try as they might, they have failed to break EVE. Instead their CEO gets invited to the headquarters to be a commentator for the alliance tournament. Their spymaster gets invited to speek for CCP at major development conferences. EVE assimilates griefers and makes them EVE players.

Now imagine EVE where griefing wasn't allowed......

Monday, August 23, 2010

So you want to Solo PvP? (Part 1)

If you are looking for a little solo PvP action but don't know where to start, or are not having much luck, here is some advice for you...

When you get started you want to use a T1 frigate. In general the Rifter is considered the best option but a Punisher, Incursis, Tristan, Merlin or even a Griffin would also do if you are determined. Having said that you really want to be flying a Rifter since it has all the attributes that make it excellent as an effective solo ship.

This is generally how you want to fit your Rifter..

[Rifter, Intro Solo PvP Rifter]
400mm Reinforced Nanofiber Plates I
Damage Control I
Micro Auxiliary Power Core I

Cold-Gas I Arcjet Thrusters
J5b Phased Prototype Warp Scrambler I
'Langour' Drive Disruptor I

150mm Light Gallium I Machine Gun, Republic Fleet Phased Plasma S
150mm Light Gallium I Machine Gun, Republic Fleet Phased Plasma S
150mm Light Gallium I Machine Gun, Republic Fleet Phased Plasma S
'Malkuth' Rocket Launcher I, Caldari Navy Foxfire Rocket

Small Projectile Burst Aerator I
Small Projectile Collision Accelerator I
[empty rig slot]

You can easily come up with similar fits with the other race's frigate but the important points are the warp scrambler, the aferburner, the webifier and as big an armour buffer tank as you can fit. If insufficient mid-slots then drop the web.

Put together a half dozen of these and then go running around in NPC 0.0 or the Faction Warfare areas of Lowsec and you will certainly get in a fight. What you are looking for are pretty much any other individual ship, cruiser or smaller that you can get to within Scram-Web range. Once you have them held down, orbit at close range, unleash your weapons and hope for the best.

Do this a few times and you will learn about what can go wrong, and sometimes, what can go right. Just remember that every time you die, try and understand what went wrong and learn from the experience. Soon you will learn to be wary of gates (through which the enemies backup will as often as not arrive), be wary of anti-small ship cruisers (like the Arbitrator or an Assault Missile equipped Caracal) and other useful things.

Once you have done this a few times then it is time to start laying traps. In 0.0 this is called a bubble. Train the required skills to launch a small bubble. Find a nice system with some traffic, but not too much and place the bubble. The easiest way to position it is warp to the gate you want to catch from, then warp back to the gate where you want to place your bubble at 70km. Then drop your bubble right there. Once the bubble is up (takes two minutes) sit at the catch position (the point on the bubble where the enemy will land) and wait for something tasty to arrive.

Good Luck :)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Agony Builds a New Outpost

For various reasons Agony has decided to build a new outpost in our SI-I89 system. There were lots of reasons for it but number one had to be the new facilities.

Now a piece of Agony will be forever preserved in New Eden :)

Friday, August 13, 2010

Architecture of the EVE Cluster

For anyone interested in the technical aspects of EVE, I recommend they read the following Gamasutra article -Infinite Space: An Argument for Single-Sharded Architecture in MMOs. It gives what I believe is the most detailed yet description of how EVE works behind the scene.

Looking through the article I find the following very interesting.

One example of this would be when we use "read uncommitted" when loading a solar system configuration, knowing there won't be any inserts or updates to the data we are reading so we can allow ourselves to read with no locking. Another trick would be that we most often only need to allow the user to filter data within a day. For example, we do not need to allow a user to select all records from the player journal between 14:00 and 15:35; it is sufficient to allow filtering by only a date. In that case we simply need to keep track of the clustered key at 00:00 every day and use that in our queries. This means we don't need to index on date/time columns in every nook and cranny, making things faster and slimmer.
The reason that this is interesting is that it implies that they are doing some rather odd things to improve performance. The stuff about "read uncommitted" is a way of getting around some of the limitations of older (pre-2005) versions of SQL Server. Often database performance problems are related to locking and not due to actual speed issues. Using "read uncommitted" is basically saying we are going to ignore locks for this transaction and get data faster, even if there is going to be faulty data. Things that keep DBAs up at night like 'Ghost records' are often the result.

It is particularly interesting since SQL server since 2005 has supported a different isolation model called Read committed snapshot. This model uses row versions in a similar way to how Oracle handles locking. That they are not using this model implies that they are either too scared to try it, or that they have tried it and consider the performance hit it entails (there is some) unacceptable.

The other thing they mention is the Clustered Key on the date. This is interesting because it really stresses just how transaction oriented the database must be. The solution they have is the sort of solution you need if you want extremely high transaction loads. By using a clustered index (what I assume that they mean) you can save a lot on the update speeds if done correctly. Since SQL server uses a simpler method for storing and organizing data records than Oracle (I won't bore you with the details) this implies that SQL Server is in fact the ideal solution for EVE despite what many on the forums have said.

Anyways I am a database geek so this sort of information is like crack for me.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Solo PvP Dead???

Rixx Javix in his Evoganda blog asks ... Is Solo PvP Really Dead?

Personally I don't think so. The reality is that in EVE getting into a fight is always harder then the actual fighting. At least if you want to get into a fight where you can win. Anyone can take a frigate, head towards the nearest null-sec boarder and suicide against a gate-camp. However doing so is not what PvP is about. PvP in EVE (for solo or small gangs) is more like hunting. It starts when you undock as you choose your ship and fittings. Then the roam starts where you have to:
  • Avoid targets that can kill you.
  • Successfully track down targets that you can kill.
  • Engage targets that you can kill in situations where they can't escape.
  • Kill the targets before any of their friends arrive.
To do this requires a lot of skill and more then a little bit of luck. When I fly I run from far more then I pursue. Sometimes I miss opportunities. More than once I have fled from a lone Incursis on a gate, jumping through to check what was on the other side only to find an empty system. Other times I have taken the chance and been blown to oblivion by a trap. The most satisfying is seeing the trap, yet engaging, killing the target and then escaping just before their backup lands.

Because it is such a chance based endeavor sometimes you will not find anything. I have done whole roams solo through Providence and Catch with not a target to be found. Other times I have to skip opportunities as I head back to base needing more ammo and repairs.

Personally I think this is part of the whole fun of PvP in EVE. You really never know what exactly is going to happen when you undock. The trailer from last summer with a 'Lone Wolf' is a really accurate (although somewhat stylized) depiction of what it is like. You could come home empty, or you could start a galactic war, literally anything could happen. If things were always predictable, as in you undock and there are always a couple of guys waiting for agreed upon 1v1s with predictable ship fittings, it would be fun at first, but get boring fast.

Anyways, I am not really sure what the whole point of my article is, however since my week and a half old daughter is on a growth spurt and wakes me up every hour.... it is amazing I am able to put together complete sentences.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Gunnery Skills to V

With the very recent birth of my child I am taking a minor break from Eve. I just don't have the ability for the next couple of months to dedicate 100% of my concentration to what is happening on screen. Any attempts at PvP would just end up with me changing my daughters diaper as my ship hangs motionless while being pummeled.

Since I am not playing so much I can concentrate on some of those long skills that I always wanted to train. In particular I am going to spend the next couple of months working on my gunnery skills. Things like...
  • Motion Prediction (5% bonus to tracking speed)
  • Rapid Firing (4% bonus to rate of fire)
  • Sharpshooter (5% bonus to optimal)
  • Surgical Strike (3% bonus to damage)
  • Trajectory Analysis (5% bonus to falloff).
I trained all of these skills early on to Level 4 but no further. I am taking this opportunity to bump them up to level 5 across the board. Nice thing about these skills is that they benefit all classes of ships. It improves Frigate and Battleship alike. It also will be helpful once I start to cross train to Lasers/Hybrids. These skills will help there as well.

How much difference does they make? He is my usual Jaguar fit with my current skills...

And here it is with all of the support Gunnery Skills to LV 5...

All of those attributes, better tracking, better range, better falloff and better damage all add up to a much more effective ship. Especially in a 1v1 the slight advantages often are the difference between victory and defeat. Skills aren't everything in this game... but sometimes a whole bunch of little bits add up to a lot.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Alliance Tournament 8 Match 2 Commentary - Agony Empire vs Hydra Reloaded

Here is the second alternative audio commentaries. This is a very interesting match where the meta-game rears it's ugly head. All is not as it seems in the Alliance tournament that is for sure. Anyways as before, hit play on the podcast at the same time as you hit play on the video.

Download this episode (right click and save)

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Projectile Ammo - Choices other than EMP

If you look on the Jita market for projectile Ammo, one thing really jumps out as odd.... EMP is by far the most popular ammo type. Most days twice as much Republic Fleet (RF) EMP ammo is bought and sold than RF Phased Plasma and RF Fusion combined. This does not really make logical sense. It did make sense before the Dominion Expansion last fall. Back then RF EMP did more damage any of the other ammo types. However with Dominion that changed. Here is the new base damage for short range projectile ammo:

* Short Range (0.5 range modifier - 12 damage)
o EMP - 9 em / 2 explosive / 1 kinetic
o Phased Plasma - 10 thermal / 2 kinetic
o Fusion - 10 explosive / 2 kinetic

Ever since last fall all three types of short range ammo now have the same range and deal the same amount of damage. The only difference is the damage type. In general I always carry all three types of ammo and try to tailor what I am shooting to what I am shooting at. If I am going up against an armour tanked ship (say a taranis) then I load up the fusion, if I am going up against a shield tanked ship (say a Drake) then I load up the EMP. Otherwise I use Phased Plasma since it does good damage to both shield and armour.

So don't just load up EMP because that is what you are used to... try out the other projectile short range ammo, especially against armour tanked ships you won't be sorry.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Hydra Reloaded and Providence Take 3

'I didn't really want that Alliance anyway'.

So now it seems that Hydra is bored with providence and going somewhere else. They simply gave UK back to the old members and are on their way to do other things. Disappointing in that we were hoping for a few more good fights, but good in that it save everyone from a couple of weeks of grinding sovereignty. The most satisfying part of the whole thing however is CVA getting f*cked. Now that Agony has taken the last CVA held station system in Providence, CVA has officially lost all docking rights. You gotta love the following exchange between Aralis (of CVA) and Tarac Nor (of HYDRA) ...

[ 2010.08.02 10:54:31 ] Aralis > You barred us from your stations?
[ 2010.08.02 10:56:02 ] Tarac Nor > no i didnt
[ 2010.08.02 10:56:07 ] Tarac Nor > i gave the alliance back
[ 2010.08.02 10:56:33 ] Aralis > You gave the alliance back to UK with the stations?
[ 2010.08.02 10:56:48 ] Tarac Nor > sure, no one else wanted them
[ 2010.08.02 10:56:57 ] Aralis > Not the point.
[ 2010.08.02 10:57:15 ] Aralis > Thought this would hurt them a good bit more yet that is disappointing.
[ 2010.08.02 10:59:22 ] Aralis > Wow you really don't care about anythign do you.
[ 2010.08.02 10:59:34 ] Tarac Nor > i care for me
[ 2010.08.02 10:59:44 ] Tarac Nor > i make this game about me
[ 2010.08.02 10:59:52 ] Tarac Nor > everyone gotta have a hobbie
[ 2010.08.02 10:59:58 ] Aralis > So I gathered. Sad.

I am not sure how this is going to pan out for UK. Are they going to re-assemble or stay with CO2? Time will tell. As long as this keeps providence a bloody battleground all is good.