Life in Eve: Local is Fine, and Here's How to Fix It.

First, a brief background, for the non-EvE players:

Like most MMOs, Eve has a number of text-based chat channels built into its user interface. The ones likely to see the most use are whatever corporation and/or alliance you're part of, any player-made channels created for specific purposes or interests...

And Local.

Now, to the outsider, the concept of a "local channel" doesn't seem that big a deal: most games I've played have some version of this: a channel that can only be seen by the people currently visiting a particular city are common, for example (though there's usually some question about whether or not anyone pays attention to it).

In Eve, that Channel is called "Local." It's always on, always there, and always includes whomever is currently in the same solar system as you.

The reason this matters (for the purposes of this post), is that all the channels in Eve have a Member List displayed alongside the chat window.

Like so.

In some less-common situations, the member list only shows people who have actually spoken in that channel since you logged on, but in most cases, including Local in all of known space, the member list automatically updates to show everyone who's currently in the same solar system.

This means that, in Eve, within known space (wormholes work differently), the very second that anyone enters the same solar system you're in, you know, thanks to Local.

As a result, Local -- specifically, Local's member list -- is more often used as an intelligence gathering tool than it is a means to chat with the unwashed masses of whatever backwater shithole you happen to be flying through at the moment.

I actually shrink the window so that the member list is the only thing I see.

Not everyone likes this.

There have been great fiery debates about whether or not Local's member list should remain immediate (like it is now) or delayed (the way it works in Wormholes and some private channels, where no one knows you're there unless you say something).

Which led to this conversation today:

"Man," Em said. "I really wish we didn't have automatic local out in the war zone. It's so lame to have that much intel at your fingertips. It'd be so cool to see guys on directional scan in a complex and have NO idea of they were friendly or hostile -- no Local list to compare it to and say 'Well, I see three ships, and there are only two hostiles here and three friendlies, so it's probably friendlies.'"

"Sure," I replied. "Though it would suck for us as well if they changed it."

"We'd cope," Em said. "Hell, we already deal with that every day up in the wormhole."

"Definitely, but that's the wormhole. Things should work differently up there. I mean..." I pondered. "We're in low security space, but it's still Empire space, you know? The infrastructure is kind of messed up, but it's still functional."

"Empire?" Em replied. "Why would the Amarr or Minmatar or... hell, anybody provide intel about their own troop movements to anyone and everyone who can see the Local member list?"

"Well... they wouldn't," I said. "But I don't think it's really up to them -- that's just part of the deal with the technology. I don't think they control it." I shrugged. "Maybe CONCORD controls it." I frowned. "Actually, I think it's tied to the stargates somehow -- like they're relays or something -- which is why the member list breaks out by star system, and why there's other channels like one just for the local constellation of systems you're in, and why it works the same way in High sec and Low sec and Null sec -- all the same stargate technology." Finally, I added, "That'd be why it doesn't work that way in wormhole space -- no stargates."

Bringing people together in more ways than one.

There was a pause in the conversation. I turned back to the ship fitting I'd been assembling.

"You know what would be cool?" Em said, voice almost dreamy.

"I --"

"What would be cool," he continued, "is if Local didn't add you to the member list until you either used the channel... or used a Gate."

I stopped, turning that idea over, then offered my analysis. "Huh."

"I mean..." it didn't even seem as though he heard me. "If it's all attached to the stargate tech, and you didn't use a stargate to get there, then..." He shook his head. "MAN that would be cool."

"Wormholes," I said, picking up on the idea. "You could -- I mean, when you dropped out of a wormhole into a system in known space..."

"No one would know you were there," Em completed the thought. "It'd make all those shitty class two systems with exits to Null sec SO much more fun."

There's a hole in your sky...

"It'd be like having a black-ops drop capability for people who can't fly black-ops ships yet." I blinked. "Actually..."

"... black-ops jump bridges bypass gates." Em finished.

Widow likes the idea. (It's smiling - trust me.)

"Regular Titan bridges too," I said. "I mean --"

"-- you'd see the beacon go up, but--"

"-- you wouldn't know who came in, or how many, without more recon. You'd just know a jump bridge happened."

"Who left the door open?"

We were quiet for a while.

"Wow," I said.

"Not like wormholes," Em said, "still it's own thing, and for most people flying around, it's basically like nothing really changed, because as soon as you use a gate to jump into system, you're loaded into Local, but... better than it is now."

"Yeah," I agreed. I shook my head, blinking. "You know what?"

"You're going to write about it." Em sounded amused.

"We need to tell people about this," I replied. "This is a good idea."

TL;DR: Wouldn't it be cool if, in known space, you stayed off the Local member list if you could manage to bypass the stargate when you entered the system? As soon as you use a gate (or talk in Local), you show up, but until then...

Not quite how it works now. Neither is it the way it works in wormholes. Provides a really neat way to work around the current system, in-character.

Dunno about you, but I like it.


Life in Eve: Gambit Roulette

Regardless of the game, I've never been particularly drawn to stealth classes. Rogues, Burglars, Assassins... you know the type. The long setup. The slow creep. The careful maneuvering. The final violent burst of action that was, for all that, almost anticlimax to the preparation that got you there.

I could do it well enough. I just didn't enjoy it all that much, or at least not as much as I did other possible options. I got my 'single bullet kill' achievements in Hitman II, but there were at least as many missions where I crashed the game because the engine couldn't render that many dead sprites at the same time. That one where you dress up as the fireman? With the axe?

Oh, bank lobby killing spree: you complete me.

Which brings me to wormholes.

About a year ago, I started to get... itchy, when it came to living in a wormhole full time (which I had been doing for roughly a year and a half). As interesting and inspiring as blogs like Tiger Ears were (and continue to be), I found myself increasingly dissatisfied.

To be fair, wormholes aren't for everyone. Wormhole living requires a lot of specialized knowledge about certain areas of Eve: the perpetual scanning; the living out of a player-owned-starbase that feels like camping full time out of twenty-year old modular tent with missing pieces; the ritual-and-requisite paranoia. No, it's not for everyone. It's not even for most.

But that wasn't really my problem. I'd just gotten tired of playing a stealth class.

There are certainly examples of other kinds of combat that happen in wormhole space, but day to day, for most pilots, that's the exception rather than the rule. In the life of a dedicated wormholer, pvp is about finding a target and, having found them, doing something with that knowledge before they know you're there.

The slow creep. The long step up. The careful maneuvering. The final burst of action. Stealthy stuff. It had taken me awhile to recognize it, but when I did it was a bit obvious.

So I left.

Well, Ty left, anyway, and CB decided to come with me. The wormhole stayed just as active as it had been, but we were off to explore other options, which led to Gambit Roulette: our foray into Faction Warfare.
Gambit Roulette: A convoluted plan that relies on events completely within the realm of chance yet comes off without a hitch.

If your first reaction to seeing the plan unfold is "There is no way you planned that!", then it's a gambit roulette.

The reason for giving the corp this name was straightforward: I didn't know what I was doing. Anything that looked like intentional success was obviously going to be, in truth, blind chance.

The first month of the corp's existence wasn't exactly draped in glory. I think we destroyed two enemy ships and lost seven.

I did a lot of solo flying in the months that followed, and managed to turn the kill/death ratio around, though never by any particularly stunning amount. 21:7. 18:4. Then right back down to a mediocre 11:9.

Through the early months, I was struck by the fact that, while there were obviously many groups flying around the warzone, I wasn't *in* them, and getting in -- becoming someone known and trusted -- was going to take time.

"How's that faction warfare thing going?" asked my buddies in the wormhole.

"Pretty good," I said, and it was true, for all that I mostly on my own. "There's always something to do."

"Nice," came the reply. "Maybe I'll bring an alt down and join you or something."

"Sounds cool," I said, because it did, but at the same time I thought: I need to pave the way for my friends -- to find the way into the good groups, and learn which are the bad groups -- so they don't have to do that slog work.

Something of a breakthrough came in that next month, as a veteran FW pilot I'd flown with a couple times invited me to a channel he seemed to use to sort out newer pilots he thought were worth the time.

He got me in my first fleet with the Order of the Black Daggers, a group of pilots who had fun, didn't get too riled up when things got hard, and (most importantly) had a good leader and times when they regularly and reliably "did stuff." I was happy - thrilled, really - to fly with them. Gambit Roulette ship losses per month increased by a factor of three; ship kills increased by a factor of six.

On fire, half dead, and limping away with the stuff off the other guy's wreck.

More importantly -- FAR more importantly -- I had found a group of good people to fly with. If my friends from the wormhole ever decided to check out this Faction Warfare thing (they did, and not on alts), I could simply say "these guys are with me," and that would be that. (And it was.)

First, we were two.

Then another guy joined us. A stranger, though someone who'd read the blog, started in a wormhole, and wanted to try something else.

"If he wants in the wormhole," CB said, "hell no. But if he wants to come out here? Sure. Blood for the blood god."

Then our old corp mates joined us. Em and Div and Shan and the rest, with a few particularly dangerous souls staying behind to keep the lights on back in Anoikis and destroy the unwary.

We joined Daggers in their alliance - Ushra'Khan - and joined the fight for the Eugidi constellation: the first time the war really felt like a war and not a roaming free for all.

After days of fruitless efforts to find an Amarr opponent, Em got a fight with a neutral pilot in a complex -- a guy who just wanted a fight; wanted to try something new in the game.

"Recruit him," I said.

"Already talking it over with him," he replied. "Going to get his buddy in here too."

That recruited pilot got in on a Titan kill a few weeks later.

We have our up months and down months. January was quiet, with many of us traveling.

February, which saw two new pilots join -- former wormholers looking for something different -- was not quiet. Record number of ship losses, and if the number of kills didn't spike by quite as much, we'll chalk that up to the learning curve. We still destroyed as many enemy assets as I did the month I started flying with Daggers.

More importantly -- far more importantly -- we'd found more pilots we really clicked with.

And suddenly it's now, nine months since this thing started, and we are the small group of pilots "doing stuff" on most nights.

This month, halfway through, we've nearly doubled the value of destroyed enemy assets from last month, with half the losses. Ignoring that crazy titan kill, it's already our second most productive month, behind only the Eugidi war.

And best of all, it's fun. It's fast.

And we rarely need a cloaking device.

The five-character Corp ticker for Gambit Roulette is IMPRV.

Some people read that as "Improv" and assume we're just making things up as we go.

Some people read it as "Improve" and think we're all about trying to learn and get better.

I think: Why not both?


Life in Eve: Tys R Us, now open in Sinq Laison and all points East

So about a month ago, it became evident that the pilots in our corp would need to get into replacement ships often, and probably in a hurry.

It also seemed as though, while all the pilots were pretty smart at building interesting ships, sometimes we didn't need 'interesting' as much as we needed 'good and effective'. There was nothing wrong with the ships we were flying, but there was some functionality I often wished we had in the fleet that simply wasn't occurring to anyone.

At the same time, I wasn't (and never will) hand down some kind of 'directive' on what people can and can't fly.

So, with all that in mind, I flew over to a market hub and spent most of an afternoon and evening buying the parts for about 50 ships, hauling them a few jumps away from the warzone, putting them together, and setting them up on corporation-only contracts, at cost.

The goal was two-fold:

1. Make it quick, easy, and cheap to get back into the action if you lost a ship.
2. Increase the odds someone would be flying one of those go-to ships I often wished we had.

And at the same time, if someone wanted to do their own thing, then no problem: this was in no way stopping them.

I got everything all set up, and Ty sent out a corp-wide message informing everyone that the storefront was open.

I probably shouldn't have used the word "storefront."

I also probably shouldn't have left the default name (mine) on every one of the ships I'd assembled.

Because this happened:

Our pilots love their terrible puns.

I'd like to say it stopped there, but of course it didn't.

I have a habit (I think it's a good one) of reminding everyone to turn on their Damage Control modules as we drop cloak and warp toward a fight. Mostly, I'm reminding myself, but if it saves someone else's ship, then all to the good.

Apparently, I say it often enough to be noticed.

And it's not always about me. The most recent addition to the advertising campaign celebrates how March has been going.

Personally, I like the duck.

I also like that it doesn't specify whether it will be our ships or the opponent's that will blow up -- whether the Slasher pictured is more deadly to the target or the pilot. This is what's known as "Truth in Advertising."

Nice work, Div.

Life in Eve: In Like a Lion

I want to say the month really got going when we got the escape pod with a set of low-grade Slave implants. Don't get me wrong, it was a nice surprise, but it's not as though that was a particularly tough fight. It's pretty hard to catch a pod in low-sec -- the guy clearly wasn't paying attention.

I kind of want to say the month started with Xyn and Ty taking down a Dramiel (and his Merlin partner) in a pair of Slashers. That was pretty sweet.

But no. For me, the month started with the very first time I undocked. I was starting late, and everyone else had already set out. There were enough pilots that they'd split into two smaller groups, both of which were kind of far away, so I set out on my own: hopped in a Slasher and headed into the warzone.

Right off the entry star gate, I see a Merlin. I want a fight. So does he. We go at it. I dock up afterwards, repair, and head back out.

Next up, I find a Rifter tucked into a complex. Good fight, good fight, and then got an Incursus on the way back home.

Not that any of these fights were easy (well, okay: the pod-kill was easy). All the real fights are close, heart-pounding things. Whether I'm solo or in a small gang of corp mates, someone has to re-ship or repair when the smoke clears: that's just how it works when you're in a bunch of frigates: even if you win, you're probably on fire.

Frigate Combat: I'm on fire? That just means I'll do more damage!

I'm not good at this. I forget basic stuff in the middle of a fight. I burn out modules I desperately need, or forget to turn them on. Or I get out-piloted, pure and simple. Or I try to fight stuff I should really leave the hell alone.

Sometimes I get lucky.

The pilots in my corp are pretty much same.

Sometimes we're in the zone.

Like an eight on eight fight where we were outgunned, outshipped, took down all targets, and only lost a single frigate.

... and sometimes something that looks fine goes horribly wrong.

Even so, it's been a pretty damn good month so far.


Life in Eve: Post-February Grab Bag


No time or inclination to put up an organized post, so instead you get a bunch of random stuff I've been meaning to share.

We did a lot of shooting this month.

February was our corp's second-highest kill total since the corp was formed. Only December (when we were part of Ushra'Khan and involved in many fleets violently and constantly clashing over the Eugidi constellation) was higher, and only barely. February was also (no surprise, really) highest in terms of ship losses, though we still came out well ahead in the end.

FNGs: We've brought in quite a few new pilots - mostly guys recovering from post-boredom wormhole syndrome - and they have taken to Faction Warfare like ducks to water.

Shark-ducks, swimming in bloody, chum-filled water.

Anyway: welcome to the corp and quit making the rest of us look like we're fucking afk. Jesus.

Our monthly combat efficiency would be better if we hadn't lost a bunch of pods early in the month (I was certainly not immune, and I have the newly-retrained Battlecruisers 5 to prove it :( ). That got a lot better in the second half the month, so I'm going to chalk that up to a string of bad luck and smart-bombs.

My dislike of ECM system has been replaced by the broken mechanics around off-grid boosting alts. It's getting harder and harder to find a fight with anyone who doesn't first "need" to get their their half-billion-isk tech3 cruiser in-system to hide at a safe spot and provide ridiculous boosts to a pack of shitty little frigates.

You seriously need your armor booster alt following around to support your solo punisher roam?

The guys in our corp could do off-grid boosting -- we certainly have the skills required -- but we don't because off-grid boosting is (in terms of risk to reward) broken, and I don't like using broken mechanics.

Following a particularly ridiculous fight with whatever I.LAW is calling itself this month, Em and I have established a new policy with regard to boosters: if you want them on the field, great. If you bring them in system and hide them off-grid, you are not going to get a fight. Period. Full-stop. No exceptions.

So: if your goal is to have everyone avoid you and have nothing to do, then congratulations - you win. If your goal is to actually play a PvP game and doing PvP things within that game...

You will have to find your entertainment elsewhere.

One way of looking at this is that it's just good target selection. To quote a certain FC: "If I see a fight, and know we have no chance of winning why should I fight?"

But it's not really about that, it's about rewarding certain kinds of behavior. To go back to my playground analogy, if you're trying to organize a dodgeball game, but you always bring a medicine ball and the flubber-enhanced sneakers, no one's going to play with you. Sure, it's legal. Yes, it's currently 'working as intended.' Fine.

But it's not behavior I intend to encourage. Sometimes, I censure my kids' behavior by simply walking out of the room -- if they want to be fucking annoying, that's fine: they're 2 and 7, their brain chemistry is ridiculous at that age, and maybe they can't help it. But I don't need to subject myself to it, and I'm not going to. I find the same sort of response is the easiest option for me in Eve as well; there are people who don't roll with off-grid boosting bullshit every day, and I can easily go and find them. Denying known off-grid booster addicts a fight doesn't hurt my game at all.

You want to leave the medicine ball at home, you're welcome to rejoin the rest of us. Until then, you can pound sand.

... and that's it.

We now return you to the regularly scheduled warzone, already in progress.