Thursday, November 25, 2010

No More Learning Skills

Someone at CCP finally got a clue.... NO MORE LEARNING SKILLS!!

This is a huge change for new players. It means that they can actually get on with playing the game, not messing around learning useless skills because they are worried that a year down the road they will fall behind in training relative to what they could be.

Thanks CCP... you make me happy long time :):):):)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

5 Things a NEW PLAYER can do to improve their PVP experience

Earlier I wrote an article describing 5 things I would like CCP to do to EVE to improve the experience. It got me thinking about what a new player can do to improve their PvP experience.

5. Take it easy on the learning skills
So many people say to train up learning skills and use implants. They are carebears. You want to kill stuff now, not wait a month to train up stuff that won't help you kill stuff now, and will take at least another year before they pay off. Filling your head with implants is even worse..... you PvP and you will get podded. Unless you have unlimited ISK having expensive implants will make PvP seem too expensive. Instead you should concentrate on gunnery, spaceship command and other skill that will help you blow stuff up. Don't completely ignore the learning skills, but don't concentrate on them either.
EDIT: That advise sure went out of date fast! In a couple of weeks there will be no more learning skills :)

4. Aspire to fly interceptors in fleet, not just another DPS boat
It has been said far too many times that one of the biggest mistakes a player can make is to rush too fast into larger ships. The next ship, after perhaps destroyers, that a new PvP player should go for is an interceptor. Inties are absolutely critical to any fleet. They are also one of the most active roles. Whether they are scouting up ahead, or racing to grab a point on an enemy at a belt, or just running with fleet as a tackler, the interceptor is what makes fleet PvP happen. Additionally, flying an interceptor is a great learning experience. All of the skills you learn flying an interceptor will be useful when flying other ships. Every race is blessed with a great fleet interceptor so train for them and fly them. (Note: the fleet interceptors are the ones with a bonus to warp disruption range)

3. Do some solo PvP using T1 Frigates
Start by reading The Altruists blog posting about 'Interceptor Fishing'. As mentioned before this blog posting covers a basic strategy of using a T1 frigate to bait, trap and kill a common T2 frigate. Following this strategy will accomplish several things. Firstly it demonstrates the basic strategy of grabbing someone, pinning them down, wailing on them with all you got, and hoping that your tank will outlast his. This may not be the most sophisticated strategy, but it does work. By flying solo a bunch of times, loosing lots of cheap ships that you can afford to loose, you will learn how to handle yourself in a fight. You will also learn what not to do when you yourself are flying a T2 Interceptor.

2. Join a corp that actually does PvP
I can't stress this enough. If you are not in a corp yet, or worse, in a corp that concentrates on Level 4 missions and wormholes, then leave. There are lots of PvP oriented corps out there that will take relatively new players with the right attitude. If you can't find one the easiest way IMHO is just do some solo PvP in a T1 frigate in NPC 0.0 or in low-sec. The guys who kill you.... talk to them about joining up.

1. Take an Agony Unleashed PVP-Basic course
I may be biased but if this class and the subsequent roam does not rock your world..... EVE may not be the game for you.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

New Blog from Fellow Agony Member Discusses 'Interceptor Fishing'

Just wanted to give a shout-out to Azual and his new blog The Altruist . He opens with a really great article about Solo PVP in 0.0, or the art of interceptor fishing. This is definitely worth a read for anyone new to PVP. Interceptor fishing is a common strategy we recommend to new pilots in Agony. In short it is an easy way to reliably kill expensive T2 interceptors with T1 frigates. Take a look ;)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

5 Things to improve the new player experience

Looking at the recent Quarterly Economic Report I am really stunned at the lousy performance of new players in PVP. Basically players with between 1 million and 5 million SP (about 4 months of play) have what seems to be a 30 to one death to final blow ratio. This is completely disheartening and remedying this should be the #1 priority for CCP on the next expansion. Here are 5 things that I can think of that they should do. Some should be easy for CCP to implement, some require some additional game design, but all of them are doable and would help new players get over the initial start in EVE.

1. Every Race Needs a 'Rifter' and also a 'Thrasher'

The Rifter and the Thrasher are pretty much the perfect T1 frigate and destroyer. As a result these are the perfect ship for a new player in the first couple of weeks of play. Fast, easy to fly, easy to fit, decent DPS, decent tank, not too expensive, what is not to like? None of the other races has a Tier-3 frigate or destroyer comes even close. Let look at them and figure out what could be changed to give players who are not Matari something to play with in the first month.

Amarr Punisher
The simple problem with the Punisher is that it lacks the midslots to actually tackle anything. I get it that Amarr ships are supposed to be armour tanked and slow, but combining that with having to choose between fitting either a propulsion mod or a webifier is not going to work. Move a low slot to a mid slot.

Amarr Coercer
If a Punisher is bad with two midslots, the Coercer is useless with only one. Again move one low-slot to a mid to give it at least a chance.

Caldari Merlin/Gallente Tristan
Split weapon layouts = bad. This is doubly true for new players as it is for experienced player. A new player climbing into one of these ships is going to quickly realize that they need to train a whole lot more to be proficient at both hybrids and missiles. This should be fixed. Give both ships a 3/3 turret/launcher hard-point configuration which ups the DPS and give more fitting options for low SP characters.

Gallente Catalyst
Is this ship is designed to get up nice and close to an enemy and pound on them with unholy DPS? Not really, it is too slow to get in range to take advantage of its tracking bonus, has a useless falloff bonus, and no damage bonus. What exactly is this ship supposed to do? Swapping the falloff bonus for a 5% per level damage bonus would be a start.

Caldari Cormorant
This ship really can fill one role, long range sniper with negligible DPS. In a pack of 30 this is useful, otherwise it is just pointless. I say return this ship to it's Caldari roots and give it 7 missile slots and the appropriate bonuses. With the up-coming rocket buff this might actually work as a awesome platform.

2. Areas that encourage small ship vs small ship PvP

A 50 million SP character flying a BS has about 10x the DPS and 20x the tank of a 1 million SP character flying a Rifter. However a 50 million SP character flying a T2 Frigate has about 2x the DPS and 2x tank of a 1 million SP character flying a T1 frigate. We need parts of space that restrict ship size to smaller ships. I know we already have a bit of that with wormholes and missions, but I am talking about whole constellations of NPC 0.0, low-sec and high-sec that have ship size restrictions.

I think areas like this would be very popular for both new and old players. It does not create artificial boundaries as to what players can do, nor does it create carebear safe-zones where PvP is impossible. Rather it would provide an environment where new players could PvP and actually have a chance against all of the ships they come up against, rather then be restricted to the role of tackler.

3. Injectable skill complete with training

You remember when you started playing EVE. Everything seemed to have soooooo much potential. And then you realized you would have to wait before getting to the next level. I understood that the skill-training by time thing made sense, however it sure was frustrating that no matter how many missions I did in the first few hours, it mattered not to my characters experience level. I was not going to get into a destroyer for another day and there was nothing I could do about it.

Wouldn't it have been nice if there was some experience point like reward for that first 12-hour marathon of playing. That there was something I could do to get over the initial bump and start flying ships with funky new things like afterburners and maybe even get into a Tier-3 frigate or a destroyer. Instead I was frustrated and considered quitting (many do at this point).

So what I suggest is that as a reward for some of the early missions have special skill-books that inject fully trained skills to Level 3 into the pod-pilots head. Just have enough of the core skills injectable this way. I am not talking about advanced skills, nor skill to a high level, but enough to shave off a few hours to the training time for the handful of skills that new players need to feel like they are getting somewhere in the game. Making isk and grinding faction standings are not enough.... they need to feel like they are getting something similar to exp as well.

4. Discount packs of skills

Another problem new characters have is isk. Asking them to spend a million or so on skillbooks is quite a stretch. There should be some sort of steep discount for buying a pack of skillbooks that are common for new characters. Say 200k isk for all of the skillbooks needed for basic level certificates for each race. This would go a long way to making it easier for new players to not get frustrated on the first couple of days.

5. NPC 0.0 needs a boost

For many pilots the search for where to PvP is a challenge. High-sec and low-sec have complicated rules of engagement that typically leave a bad taste in the mouth, and favour higher SP characters. After all, a Rifter tackling a Brutix on a low-sec gate gets insta-popped by gate guns, while a Brutix tacking a rifter has little trouble tanking the guns.

Instead players need a free-for all area where anything goes, and has station to dock in, get repairs, upgrade clone, etc. That is where NPC 0.0 comes in. Unfortunately with the Dominion patch these areas are mostly devoid of life. Since there is no sovereignty, there are no system upgrades. Without system upgrades their profitability relative to SOV 0.0 is greatly diminished. I say these systems should be upgradable. They are controlled by Pirates, I can't think of a better magnet than that. Anomalies of all types should abound providing players with equal isk opportunities as upgraded SOV space and lots of opportunities to Pew-Pew without interference.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Tidbits from the Quarterly Economic Report

The new Quarterly Economic Report is out and it contains quite a bit of interesting information. This is a 'MUST READ' document for every EVE player as it not only provides a nice summary of information that can be gleamed from in-game, but it also give some information that can not be gathered from any other source. This quarter, I can happily report, Dr. EnjoG is concentrating on PVP stuff so there are some nice little goodies in it. These are my comments on what is contained.

1. Eve Population Drop!
For years the EVE population grew steadily. However this trend seems to have stopped. Although the trend is still slow growth, the reality is that after each spike the population is dropping. With the recent disasterous Tyrannis expansion we now have it dropping to pre-expansion levels. No wonder CCP is finally listening to the CSM on what players want.

2. Skill points matter (new characters need not apply)
This I think is the most disturbing graph I have seen. Basically it shows that new characters with < 10m SP and even with < 20m have pretty much no chance in PvP. It shows that players with < 10m SP account for 24% of all ship losses, yet make up only 2% of all kills. Considering that 10m SP corresponds to around 9 months of play this is very disheartening. I can sort of understand the < 5m SP characters doing so poorly (but not as spectacularly poor as they seem to be), but if even characters with nearly 9 months of time devoted to the game can not really participate in PvP, then there is a problem. EVE really needs to do something to improve the PvP game-play for inexperienced players. I am not saying that they need to nerf SP, but rather they need to provide a mechanism (like making factional warfare not suck for instance) for new characters to actually have fun doing PvP.
3. Minmattar Rule ... Gallente Drool
Looking at the Measures of Success section we see the trends for PvP ships. What strikes me is that Matari ships have 5 (Hurricane, Vagabond, Sabre, Rifter, Thrasher) of the top 10 ships landing a final blow. Two of the other ships are pirate faction ships that are effectively Minmattar ships with added bonuses to Gallente skills. Also there is not a single Gallente ship in the the top 10.

4. The Rise of the Super-Carrier
It seems like Super-Carriers are getting a bit out of control. Ever since the Dominion patch boosted their effectiveness greatly, they are now the de-facto blunt instrument used by large rich alliances to steamroll their enemies. Their massive DPS with fighters and bombers means that they can decimate a field of ships from capitals on down. With a massive tank they can usually survive simply by logging off when caught unprepared. As a result the number of ships being produced greatly outnumbers then number of ships being destroyed by a ridiculous margin. In July, August and September about 45 super carriers were destroyed, and about 480 produced! I know personally for my alliance this may cause a lot of grief. No-one I know wants to play Super-Caps online, yet that is the direction Null-Sec may be heading.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

You know you have spent too much time on Ventrilo when...

Playing EVE a lot can lead to interesting manners on conference calls at work.

Makes sense in EVE:
Toterra has launched scan probes.

Does not make sense in RL:
Toterra is rebooting the database server. (followed by someone asking who is Toterra)

Makes sense in EVE:
BREAK BREAK ... Pandemic Legion Recon entering system

Does not make sense in RL
BREAK BREAK ... Microsoft Sales Rep is here.

Make sense in EVE:
That is a lot of ISK.

Does not make sense in RL:
That is a lot of ISK.

Anyone else have some embarrassing moments?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thank-you CSM/CCP/EVE Players for Delaying Incursion Until it is Ready.

I can only assume that it is thanks to the huge amount of lobbying from the CSM and EVE players that CCP has actually decided to go down the sane course of delaying the next expansion until it is ready. We all know that EVE promises two free expansions per year, but I think that we can all agree that we would prefer a complete and functional expansion over the crap that we got with Dominion and Tyrannis. Those two expansions were clearly rushed out the door to meet this arbitrary deadline that frankly, nobody cares about. Instead, for the upcoming Incursion expansion, they are going to release the easy stuff on time in November, but they are going to give the big, hard, possibly game-breaking stuff another layer or two of polish first and releasing them in complete form this January.

Bravo to CCP for seeing the light.
Bravo to the CSM for pressing so very hard.
Bravo to the player base for supporting the CSM.

Remembrance Day (Veteren's Day in the US)

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

-Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Shoutouts to Two new Podcasts

I guess a few people liked my top 5 article. I was mentioned on two new podcasts so I thought I would return the favour.

The EVE Report

EVE Commune

Both of these podcasts are really great and full of good information. So go and listen to them and show your support.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

See the fitting on a ship in your hanger without boarding - Now you can :)

After my and others moaning and complaining that you can't see what is fit on a ship that you are not in, CCP has, in one of the recent patches, given us that ability. Here is how to do it.

Right click on any ship in your hanger and select 'View Contents' like so:

You should now see the contents of the ship with information about what is fit.

Thanks CSM, this has made Toterra happy!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Top 5 Overpowered PVP Items in EVE (that no one ever uses)

You can't start playing EVE without hearing about all of the balance issues. "Nerf the Drake", "Give a 4th bonus to Assault Frigs", "Blasters Suck", etc. You get the impressions that EVE is full of balance issues so only a handful of popular items are ever seen. I have a different take on it. While some items do suck, I can never understand why so many OMFGPWN items are almost never seen. Here is my list of the top 5 seriously overpowered items in EVE, that you almost never see fitted.

5. Target Painters: One of these fitted on one ship in fleet increases the turret tracking for all ships in the fleet more than a scripted tracking computer, plus increases damage for all missiles, plus increases lock time for all ships.

4. Smart-Bombs: Always hits for full damage. Immune to ECM. Does not need to wait for a lock to fire. Hits every single target in range simultaneously. Hits missiles, bombs, drones.

3. Bombs from multiple bombers: One bomber by itself is pretty common, but also pretty useless. The fact is that 7 bombers firing at the same time can destroy most non-cap ships. And like smart-bombs (above) it is an AOE weapon so it hits all of the ships in range at the same time.

2. E-war Drones: The drone bay of a Rupture has can have effectively the same ECM strength as a T2 multi-spec ecm mounted on a blackbird. A large Tracking Disruptor drone has the same disruption capability as an unscripted T2 Tracking disruptor. This effectively turns your drone bay into extra mid-slots.

And the Number 1 overpowered item in EVE that almost nobody uses...

1. Destroyers: Take the Agony Wolfpack class if you want to know what these can do!

Retired bonus item: Anything that reduces signature radius. A year ago nobody cared about this, but as Armour HAC fleets have shown recently.... this is a critically important characteristic.

Edit: My point is not for these things to be nerfed, but rather the opposite.... go and try fits with these items.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Some Solo Rupture Fun in Curse and Catch

For my earlier post about the Rupture I had tried experimenting using a 800mm plate and fitting a bit more gank. The result was pretty unspectacular and I went back to using the 1600mm plate Rupture as described in the article. The problem with the 800mm is that the tank kept on running out just a little bit too soon, resulting in my own death instead of my enemies. So I thought to avenge my failures with a few solo roams.

For various reasons Providence right now is mostly set temporarily blue to Agony so I had to wander further and check out curse and catch. First blood was a satisfying Taranis kill in 9KOE-A. The Taranis has just dispatched a Pandemic Legion Dramiel (Very nice kill btw) when I showed up. He warped off when I appeared. I quickly bookmarked the wreck (it was quite a bit off gate) and warped off myself, so I could warp back to the wreck. I am not sure exactly what the Taranis pilot was thinking but I imagine when he saw me disappear off d-scan he felt safe enough to return to the wreck. I landed pretty much on him. Normally a Taranis is a pretty tough cookie, however once I locked him I saw that he was deep deep into structure (must have been a nice fight with the Dramiel) and was pretty much instapopped.

I got a nice deadspace afterburner from the Dramiel wreck. Nice! I returned home to drop off the loot.

The next night I returned to the same hunting grounds. Things were very quiet at first. Then I came upon a Manticore Stealth Bomber sitting uncloaked by a gate. Assuming it must be a tarp I checked the other side and found nothing. Quickly returning the Bomber was still there. 10 seconds later it was now a wreck. The pilot must have woken up as his ship exploded and his pod warped off. A quick check of the wreck provided for some more high priced goodies He was hauling some nice large T1 and small T2 rigs. I didn't want to haul the stuff back to friendly space so I docked in station and offered to sell him his loot back for 50m isk which he accepted.

A few jumps later I came across a couple of Goonswarm Ishkurs. This is where the Rupture really shines. In a Jaguar I would be very hesitant about engaging two assault frigates. However in the Rupture I went for it knowing that unless they had an unusual fit, I would be victorious. Sure enough I grabbed one, applied scram/web/neut and put the ecm drones on the other. The first went pretty quick and I switched to the other which also went down. I barely broke shields :).

The next night I was back in the area. After seeing almost nothing I spotted a Wolf and a Crow sitting on a gate. I engaged the wolf first, unfortunately I choose poorly for ammo types with Phased Plasma. It seemed to take forever to bust through his 400mm RT plate. Meanwhile a Stealth bomber uncloaks and starts pounding me with Torpedoes. Eventually I break through the Wolf's tank and then dispatch the Crow. As this is happening an Eris appears and bubbles us all in. With my Armour dropping below a third I start powering for an exit. I put my DPS on the Eris hoping to drive it away from me out of point range and succeed. I manage to warp to the sun just before hitting structure. As I land at the sun I find myself at 0 with the Eris again. LOL we both tried to escape to the same celestial. I start pounding on the Eris as I observe a Falcon uncloaking. I get jammed, but not before Eris explodes. Again I beat an hasty retreat and live to fight another day.

At this point I am feeling pretty cocky. For three nights in a row I have had some GF and made some good isk. In EVE cockiness is what gets you killed. The next night I set out again feeling quite invincible. Then in K-B2D3 with 4 in local I warp directly from gate to gate, only to land in a bubble camp. The Wolf and Rupture on the bubble would have made for a nice fight. With some lucky Jams from the ECM drones I might have been able to shut down the Rupture while killing the Wolf. Unfortunately a Blackbird 50km off made sure that this ship would never make it home.

All in all it was some great fights. It was a shame to finally loose the ship but it certainly delivered. I made about 100 mill in loot in exchange for a 10 million isk ship. It is nice to know that Solo PvP is alive and well in New Eden.