Life in Eve: Jesus Wept

Tormentor, Inquisitor, Fed Navy Comet all in system. All in different complexes. All with the same ship name. Hmm.

Tormentor's complex is hell and gone away, so I warp over there, hit the gate, and engage. I figure I have time to respond if both his buddies come, and maybe just the inquisitor will come in and I can kill him quick. Or "maybe" he's a multiboxer and he'll mismanage his backup. Whatever. I just want a fight.

I land, close, lock, TD, warp scram, start shooting...

And he leaves. Nothing but warp stabilizers in his lows.

Because having remote rep support and additional DPS on hand wasn't enough of a security blanket against my big scary slasher -- let's make sure you can run as well.

The only thing that redeemed the roam for me was a punisher pilot who had the opportunity to run (55km away in open space), thought about it, and said "You know what? Fuck it, let's dance."

Good fight, you filthy slaver.


Life in Eve: Losing While Winning

This is one of those blog posts that says "I haven't been writing about playing Eve very much, because of how much I've been playing Eve."

So, yeah. Pretty much that. Despite Em being out of town and Shan being pretty busy and Dirk and me both dealing with the academic tsunami, the corp has stayed pretty active, and we've added a few new pilots -- many of them former wormhole pilots looking for something with a bit more 'instant-on' kind of gameplay. We've all been learning a lot (especially me).

It's a good time to be flying internet spaceships.

This isn't to say we aren't blowing up hilariously on a pretty regular basis, but given that we're flying basic frigates and destroyers right now, that hasn't actually been a very crippling issue -- when we look back at an evening's hijinx and see that any one of the enemy ships we destroyed represents twice the value of all the ships we lost, it's easy to feel productive. The corp has destroyed 50 billion isk worth of enemy ships since joining the war.

It can still be a little demoralizing to run through a lot of ships in a single night (I build my Slasher attack frigates in packs of 10 right now), but with a little practice you learn to deal with it and focus on the fun.

"Hey guys! I got a new ship! It's really swee--"

One of our pilots commented "I've killed more ships just in February, so far, than I did in the two years I played Eve up to this point."

Maybe that doesn't sound like fun to everyone, but it definitely is for us, the pilots we fly with, and (I assume) the pilots we fly against. Sometimes the explosions are ours. Sometimes theirs. Often, both. These things happen. Sorry you broke your ship.

Get in something cheap, and let's go again.


Eve Online: The Point of a Frigate

I don't much care about my character's (or my corp's) killboard (the term for API-powered websites that list and analyze your PvP combat statistics in Eve). It is (and I hope always will be), something that's inadvertently and unmindfully produced as a result of my play -- just something that happens, not something I play toward. I think that the day that those numbers (my kill/death ratios, efficiency, et cetera) alter my in-game decisions should be the day I stop playing.

That said, sometimes it kind of fun to use those boards to take a look at what I've done, even if I don't think it's a good way to see "how I'm doing."

For instance, here's a fun fact: I recently lost by 100th ship in the game (I'm currently at 123). Interesting? Perhaps.

More interesting: 93 of those ships (75% of the total) have been lost since joining Faction Warfare (many of them frigates). This might make faction warfare seems like a bad idea, maybe.


Depending on which killboard you look at (they all count things a bit differently) I've blown up somewhere between 261 and 321 enemy ships. I'm going to go with 261, since estimating low keeps me humble and I suspect some of those other 'kills' are actually structures I helped blow up.

So: of those 261 explosions, 235 of them (a whopping 90%) happened since joining faction warfare. (Most of them weren't frigates.)

Now, with that second bit of information in mind, how do those ship losses look? To me, they look like I'm getting more out than I'm putting in: I wish everything I invested my time in yielded a better than 2.5:1 reward ratio.

All of those deaths have been about having fun, enjoying my play, experiencing all that Eve has to offer and learning something new. Training skills, fitting ships, flying with your friends, getting into new ships, these are all important things. But risk is the ultimate reward in Eve.


-- Rixx Javix, Dying Over 400x

A few nights, ago, I was out and about in a cheap little frigate - a slicer - capturing a couple plexes in heavily contested systems. There was a war target in the system, so while I wasn't surprised to see a ship warp into the complex and come at me, I was a little surprised to see that it was a neutral pilot, unaffiliated with the war. More, he clearly wanted a fight, as he target locked me and started firing from long range.

Long story short, I engaged, managed to outmaneuver him and get in under his guns' ability to track me, and won. More of a surprise: he didn't have a pile of friends he called in once I'd committed to the fight. it was a proper 1 v 1. (Heartfelt salute to that pilot: o7.)

After his escape pod warped off, I took a look at the kill information and quietly send him the ISK value of the ship he'd lost. Between that and the insurance payout, he should be slightly ahead after losing his ship. Why did I bother? Because he gave me the chance to have more fun (a lot more fun) than I would have otherwise. I didn't have much time to play that night, and it was likely going to be nothing but me capturing a couple complexes, shooting a few NPCs, and logging out.

Instead, an exciting 1 v 1 brawl.  We sometimes forget that half of the people we 'play' with every night aren't the guys on comms, but the dudes shooting at us - just as a chess match or poker game or a board game fails without opponents, so too goes Eve; in a lot of ways, it's much more like a typical game than most MMOs, because most games are player vs. player.

The only big difference is the adrenaline rush -- I was amped for at least a half hour after that fight. I've never had that kind of experience from any other game.

Now, maybe he didn't have as much fun. Maybe he was looking for a win and was really pissed he lost a ship. He's a long-time player, but he hasn't gotten many kills lately. Bad luck, maybe, or getting used to the new/old ships.

I don't want him to have a bad time. I want him to keep playing. So: a little donation. I've got the ISK, and it's just the cost of a frigate.

"It's just a frigate." I hear that a lot.

Frigates in Eve are like healing potions in other games, as far as I'm concerned: if you're not using them up periodically, you aren't really playing hard enough.

Make sure to show up for the fight with sufficient consumables.

We bring a lot of pilots into faction warfare from other areas of the game. Null sec. Wormholes. High sec. They like to make jokes about frigates -- shake their head in disbelief that they're flying such a cheap little ship. They miss their carriers, their Tengu strategic cruisers, their blinged-out Kronos marauders.

Here's the thing, though. I can fly a strategic cruiser. I've got... three of them? I think? Maybe four. Any one of them costs 100 times more than that slasher I was flying.

And there's just no way I'm going to get 100 times more fun out of one.

I mean, I fly LOTS of different stuff, but love jumping in a frigate. They've given me the freedom to try crazy stuff. To blow up 93 times. To blow up 235 other guys. To have fun.

Which is really the point of a game.


Life in Eve: Heavy Hangs the Head

This bit of reflection came out of a (sadly) half-finished conversation with Dave and Margie, where we were talking about my time with Faction Warfare in Eve, and their time playing Ingress.

The Minmatar/Amarr faction war zone has been a little crazy the last few months. Amarr units have been on an organized tear, capturing a sizable chunk of territory -- more than I'd ever seen them take over, actually -- enough to have a clear advantage in terms of system control. More, they've held onto it for quite some time.

Disconcerting, but also (weirdly) a bit of a relief. The last few months prior to that push, our group had been involved in occupying and defending a constellation of systems that, to be honest, we just didn't have quite enough people to manage, especially in the face of the previously mentioned Amarr offensive. We held on fairly well, and even managed to push our side's war zone control back up to tier 4 (out of five) for awhile, but it was exhausting, and eventually we just wore out and retreated to an area where we had more allies and fewer systems to worry about.

Now, with the pressure to hold ground gone, we're left fighting roving battles across a landscape that, thanks to Amarr taking a bunch of systems, suddenly presents many more targets of opportunity. This, like the rest, is a new experience for me. I came into the war at a time of Minmatar dominance (selecting Minmatar over Gallente primarily because I wanted to shoot slavers more than I wanted to shoot corpo-fascists), and often had to wander over to the Gallente/Caldari war zone and fight with my allies, because with the Amarr holed up in fewer than five systems (out of ~70), there just wasn't much to do. Things have changed: with half the war zone in Amarr hands, the question isn't what to do, but what to do first.

The current situation has given us many opportunities for spirited autocannon debate.

And in some cases, "what to do" ends up being "recapture lost systems." This opportunity arises because (as we've learned and the Amarr presumably are now discovering) holding big chunks of territory is kind of... wearying, and that seems to be by design.

See, a lot of the 'draw' of being on the winning side in a conflict is the idea that you'll reap nice benefits. This is true in faction warfare... to a point. It turns out dominating the whole war zone isn't really a good use of anyone's time. As you approach high levels of war zone control, it becomes far more difficult to hold it and/or capitalize on advantage. The costs of system upgrades increase exponentially, until you get to a point where holding the highest tiers of control cost more than you're making -- you're better off dropping down to a less resource-intensive, easier-to-maintain, albeit slightly less profitable level.

In short, achieving total dominance is a hollow victory: it's costly to keep up, the rewards gleaned at the highest levels don't justify the effort, and if you're just logging in for some quick and easy fun, the fact you pretty much own everything means (thanks to little enemy territory and a demoralized foe) you have no options for entertainment... which is rather the point of a game.

Conversely, now that the Minmatar are behind the Amarr in terms of war zone control, we have lots to do, but still have a good resource base to work with. It doesn't hurt that many of the main Amarr groups don't seem to have much patience for the slog of territory ownership -- the lure of a good fight usually prevails, and it feels to me as though they're getting bored with the drudgery of being on top.

That's okay: we'll seesaw our way to the top, if they're sick of it, then they can take it back, and on and on in perpetual, bloody, entertaining motion. I've seen far worse designs.

CCP has struggled to achieve this balance for a long time in Faction Warfare -- as my friend Dave has observed, it's not a problem unique to Eve -- and they've made more than a few slips and trips on the way, but it seems to me as though they've finally hit very near a sweet-spot that reminds a bit of Conan:  Lots of fun and rewards in the midst of struggle, but heavy hangs the head that wears the crown, and how willing the king becomes to throw down scepter and rejoin the fray.

I can't imagine CCP could wish for much more.