Thursday, February 26, 2009

EVE Online and the art of mining (Part 3)

In part 1 of this series we discussed the two principal methods of mining along with some criteria you might consider in choosing between the two methods. In part 2 we discussed some general techniques one should use in mining, and in part 3 we're going to discuss the second principal method of mining--Jettison Can (or jetcan for short)--in a little more detail.

If you have been following along in this series and have been using the solo mining method in a Frigate or a Destroyer you might be looking for something a little more efficient. Solo mining can become a little tedious with all the running back and forth, but you can make it a little more bearable. Switching to jetcan mining means you can skip most of the round-trips to the station to drop off loads of ore, but it also means you will lose some of your security and will need a "hauler". As you fill up your cargo hold with ore, instead of running back to the station to drop off you can open your hold and right click on the ore and select jettison. Doing that will place your ore in a temporary cargo can that free floats in space. Incidentally this can will only last one hour and then it and anything left inside of it will be destroyed. If you right click on the can and select "set name" and then name it, the can will last two hours instead of one. With the jetcan all you have to do is keep dropping your ore into the can when you fill your cargo hold, but there are some limitations to these cans, as you will undoubtedly notice. The first of which is that you have to be within 1500m of them to access them. If you are in a Frigate or Destroyer, you can move back and forth to it from where ever you're at though. Or if you are in a larger ship and have a tractor beam you can simply tow it along with you.

Once you fill up the can to whatever level you want or feel comfortable with, you can run back to the station and switch to your industrial. Then run out to your can (you bookmarked the cans location didn't you?), empty it, and take the load back into the station. Once the ore is dropped off switch back to your mining ship and repeat for as long as you care.

But know this; that can is completely unsecured. Anyone can go up to your can, open it, and take anything and everything from it without you being able to stop them. Anyone that does that however, will become flagged to you. If you mine for very long you will find that whatever system you are in, there will be people who do this intentionally hoping you will attack them. Don't do it. They'll usually do one of two things, either just scoop your can (called can-flipping), or by taking your can and then putting their own can out into space. This second method is probably the more common. They know that most miners won't attack them, but they are hoping you will take back your ore from their can, which flags you to them. And they will attack you. If you are new to EVE, do not be deceived by someone doing this in a small Frigate. They generally know what they are doing, though you will find the odd new player who takes the contents of your can out of ignorance. Can-flipping isn't something that happens hourly, but you will see and experience it if you jetcan mine where ever you are.

You might be thinking that doesn't seem all that safe. Believe it or not a lot of miners create alt accounts to be their haulers. If you can afford to pay for two accounts, create a second account and skill him up into industrial ships initially. An Itheron mk III with 3 x Cargo hold expander I's for example can hold a minimum of 9,000m3 ore, which is a pretty decent amount of ore for someone that is either mining in a Frigate/Destroyer or in a mining Cruiser at this point. The EVE client isn't all that large for as far as MMO clients go these days, so most mid-level computers should be able to run two clients simultaneously. I run two (my miner and my hauler) in window mode on my laptop with no problems (Duo core2 2.03ghz, Vista with 4GB of ram). Fleet up the two accounts, and then set your hauler to stay within 500m of your mining ship. As your miner fills his hold, jettison a can into space. From your hauler, open the jetcan and either grab the ore and move it into your cargo hold, or leave one ore in the jetcan to keep the can alive, and move the rest of the ore into your haulers hold. I prefer the second method myself, at which point the jetcan serves one purpose--as a momentary transfer point between the two ships. If someone tries to flip the can the most they should get is 1 ore. Lot safer.

Say you don't want to pay for two accounts though, but hate having to stop mining operations to haul your ore into a station and don't like the insecurity of jetcans. There is of course another method of jet-mining that is more secure, however it has it's own set of idiosyncrasies that you'll have to deal with. Giant Secure Containers (GSC) offer you the ability to jet-mine and be completely, and totally secure at the same time. A GSC won't hold anywhere near as much ore as a jetcan will, but you can password protect the GSC so no one else can open it, and you can anchor it in space, so that the GSC itself can not be scooped and stolen from you. The problem with using GSCs though is that you have to train Anchoring I to use them, they can't be used at all in 1.0-.8 space, and you can't anchor one within 5k meters within any other stationary object (asteroid or another GSC). Once anchored the GSC won't move, so if you think of the typical asteroid belt you would most likely want to anchor several of them along the asteroid belt for the best efficiency. In other words it would take planning on your part ahead of time to decide where you wanted to anchor them along the belt in question, and then you would need to purchase them; haul them to the belt and anchor them in the spots you determined.

From the size of the cans you can see you aren't going to be able to do that in a Frigate, so you'll need to haul them in your hauler. the idea is that as you mine and fill the cans along the belt, you would at some point jump into your hauler to come out to the cans to empty them and take the ore back to the station. You could also but double the amount of cans you needed. Fill your hold with the first set of cans and anchor them. Then go back and fill your hold with the second set of cans. When you head out to the belt to pick up the ore from the anchored cans you can simply unanchor them and replace them with the empty GSCs in your hold. Doesn't matter which method you use as long as the ore gets to the station from the GSCs that are anchored along the belt.

Since you can only use GSCs in .7 or below space you will also begin to run into pirates. They're more common below .5 space but even in .7 space you will see them every now and again. So if you are intent on mining in .7 or below space in order to use GSCs then you will need to make sure you have some means of protecting yourself from the pirates. In my Exequror for example, I have a squad of Acolytes which can take care of any pirates I might run into above .5 space. But most Frigates and Destroyers can only hold or utilize one drone at a time. One drone can still do a good deal of damage, but if you are going to be mining in a smaller ship for some time yet you might consider skilling up in some drone skills to make your drone more powerful and might want to make sure you outfit your miner with a shield booster too.

Eventually you will get to a point in your skill progression where your miner can operate a mining barge. The barges--especially outfitted with cargo hold expanders--can hold a good deal of ore by themselves, but it still won't take a very long time to fill them. Because the GSCs are relatively small, and will be getting proportionally smaller as your mining yields increase, you will begin to outgrow GSC use which will leave you in the same relative position you were in at the beginning of your mining career. Which means running back into the station with each cargo hold load or getting a dedicated hauler.

My own plan, which might make sense to other serious miners that can afford to pay for an alt account, is to skill my hauler up into an Orca. The Orca will not only give me great mining bonuses but holds a very great deal of ore in its own right. It's designed as a mining support vessel so your hauler can park one in the middle of a belt and use its tractor beams to bring jetcans from your miner to it. No need for GSCs or the hassle of anchoring them, but of course an Orca will cost you somewhere in the neighborhood of 400-500 million ISK and will most likely take you a couple months to full train for anyway. While you train and save for that the best bet with a mining barge is to either haul your ore into the station solo-style, or use a dedicated hauler to do it. It won't take a very long time to fill an Itheron mk IV though, so either way you will be make a lot of round trips. Get the Orca once you can afford it. By the time you can afford it you will be at a point in your mining career where you can make it pay for itself in a short period of time anyway.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Blizzard removes dual-spec reagent requirement

A couple weeks ago I ranted about Blizzard's plan to tie the incoming dual-spec system to Inscriptionists. In order to change your spec you either had to run into town, or have an Inscriptionist in your group, but I am very please to see they reversed themselves today. It'll instead cost 1000 gold and take five seconds to switch between specs. Good news by any standard!

EVE Online and the art of mining (Part 2)

In part 1 we discussed the two principal methods of mining along with some criteria you might consider in choosing between the two methods. In part 2 we'll discuss some general techniques one should use in mining. I assume, for the sake of this article, that you are mining in a high-sec sector, and so won't cover ship fits that you most likely would want to use in low-sec mining.

If you are interested in mining as a long term money making operation, and plan on mining for longer than an hour or so at a time you will probably want to establish a mining route for yourself. In whatever system you like to hang out in, or would like to mine, right click out on empty space and mouse down to the Asteroid Belt menu. That menu will display all the available Asteroid belts in the system. Before beginning your mining tour I suggest you jump to each of the systems in turn and bookmark two or three asteroids in the belt. It isn't unusual for a warp point for the belt to be a considerable distance from the belt itself, and it is a waste of time to warp into the warp point, and then have to motor into the asteroids every time you visit. If you solo mine without jettisoning then you will be doing that quite a bit. If you bookmark several asteroids in the belt you can simply warp directly to that spot in space the next time you return. When making your bookmarks try to make one for the middle of the belt, as well as one on the extremes of it as well. That way you can choose to warp to whichever point along the belt you want to return to next trip and minimize the amount of time you will have to take to travel along the belt to get to particular asteroids. Asteroids will disappear as they are mined for all their ore, so being able to jump into specific parts of a belt saves a lot of time.

Once you get all your bookmarks made you can simply start at one end of your route and work your way through it. Depending on the time of day and the system in question, you can probably mine for a good period of time without seeing anyone else at all. Or very few in any regard. Less competition means more ore for you, and that is the reason for making a route to begin with. As the asteroids are mined you can simply move along the belt until they are all gone, and then move along to the next point in your route.

And as you are beginning your mining and are probably looking at different types of asteroids, you should be asking yourself which do you want to give preference over others in mining? First you need to know what types of ore can be found in which zones. Check out the "roid grid". If you are a beginning player the chances are that you are in 1.0 or .9 space so you will most likely only be seeing Veldspar or Scordite. Whatever you mine you will notice that some asteroids are regular (i.e. asteroid (veldspar)), or condensed (i.e. asteroid (condensed veldspar)), or dense (i.e. asteroid (dense veldspar)). The differences between these three variants is in the amount of refined mineral they will give you when refined. Condensed asteroids will give you +5% yield, and Dense asteroids will give you +10% yield, so you obviously want to give preference to Dense, then Condensed asteroids when mining. I'll move along an entire belt mining only the Dense and Condensed asteroids before I mine the regular ones. Time equals money after all. Check out the ore guide for what minerals refine from which ores.

If you find all of the belts you normally mine are mined out another option for mining in that system is to run missions. You will normally find asteroids in the dead space zones where missions are run. Deal with the pirates (or whatever) and then find the asteroids. If you are going to attempt this, you obviously need to have some means of protecting yourself. Make sure you either have enough weapons equipped on your ship to deal with pirates, or make sure you can carry drones. If you are capable of carrying at least one drone, make sure it is the best combat drone you can handle. The better your drone skills, the better your drone will be, so don't neglect those if you intend to do this. You say you can't find any asteroids? Learn how to use your on board scanner (ctrl-f11). I use a residual survey scanner myself. In fact equipping one of those might be a good idea under normal circumstances because it will tell you which asteroids have the most ore in them.

If you are in a ship that is capable of handling two or more mining units you'll want to make sure you mine as many asteroids as you can at a time. Initially you will only be able to lock onto two asteroids, but if you train in Multi-tasking you can increase the number of objects you can target, up to the limit of the ship you are in. If your ship can carry two mining lasers then target two asteroids and assign a mining laser to each. You do this by targeting one, clicking on it after it's been targeted and then turning one of your mining lasers on. Rinse and repeat with the second mining laser. While you are a beginning miner it isn't important enough to train multitasking over other important skills. Add it in, if you feel like as some point, if you feel so inclined.

Lastly, if you are solo mining. Which means you will be mining and hauling your own ore into a station. And it also means you are probably planning on refining your own ore. If you are, it is very important that you increase your refining skills. The lower your refining skills, the more ore that will be lost in the process. Of course your security standing with the station you are refining at counts in this equation too. Regardless of anything else, work your refining skills in as early into your training plan as possible, and work on your security status with the station when you aren't mining.

EVE Blogs

I've found two terrific EVE Online blogs recently that I wanted to highlight. EVE Blogging seems to be sporadic but these two are high quality and quite interesting.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Mechwarrior meet EVE Online

My time in EVE Online this past week has, if nothing else, increased my desire to see a Mechwarrior Online MMO. In fact EVE has done more than just that, it's shown the light on a classless system that would fit perfectly into my ideal of what a Mechwarrior MMO should be like. If someone were to take EVE Online, and plunk down some development for planet side warfare with infantry and mech units and then melded it all together you'd probably have THE game of the decade.

In EVE you can seize and hold territories, which is exactly what I envision being able to do in Mechwarrior Online. However in EVE seizing territory seems to simply be about gaining access to raw materials. The best raw materials are in "low security" zones, which are the zones most fought over as you can imagine. In Mechwarrior online I'd like to see something a little more integrated. Factions should gain access to more raw resources as they gain more territory, but they should also attain strategic assets along with those territories as one would expect in real world combat. Taking a system that contains a particular foundry that offers access to a superior product with superior craftsmanship should have an impact on the overall war. Bring strategic thinking to MMO warfare and you will create a product that no MMO enthusiast can resist.

In previous writings I had envisioned a Mechwarrior MMO featuring a strong PVP and a strong PVE "end-game", but I think that might be a mistake now. Mechwarrior Online should be about PVP. That PVP should take the focus, as it does in the books, of internecine warfare between the factions and should give players the option to enlist in factional armies or in mercenary outfits.

There should also be a strong crafting and trade system, which I also look to EVE Online for as a model. A vibrant player controlled economy should be the very foundation of the game, from which the PVP and crafting and trade systems spring.

Of course a game of this nature would necessarily require a large gaming population. But what happens if you launch and find yourself with only 250,000 to 350,000 players? Is that enough that bring rea life to the war? In my view Mechwarrior online would also have to include strong NPC AI. The developer of Mechwarrior online should not fall into the same pit all previous PVP-centric MMOs have fallen into. And that is the boredom factor. PVP-centric MMOs are great in the beginning when there are lots of players. But they quickly grow stagnant and boring as players leave. The games were never designed to fill in for real players. Mechwarrior online should account for that. Players should be able to join existing battles being fought between NPCs and should be able to make real contributions to those battles. In short, a player interested in "PVP" should never go for want of it. Even if that "PVP" is actually against NPCs. Make the NPCs smart enough and he or she won't notice or care.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Tech III in fleet action

The first videos from the EVE Online test server are beginning to show up online, and Massively posted one earlier this evening that showed a terrific fleet engagement inside wormhole space. All I can say is if you want to wander around inside wormhole space you better bring a big stick.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

EVE Online and the art of mining

Closing in on one full week of EVE Online play now and I think I've disabused myself of a few notions in regards to mining. First and foremost there are two principal ways of mining; the first being solo mining, where you mine and then transport the ore to a facility for storage. The second is to mine and use a partner to haul your ore for you to a facility. Solo mining is obviously more secure in that you do not have to rely on anyone else. You take no chance with a partner absconding with your ore, and you needn't share your profits with the partner either. But its also slower because of the travel involved. The second method of mining, called "jet-can" mining (Jettison Can) is less secure in that you have to rely on someone else for your transport. It also erodes your profits, but it allows for superior on-station mining time. Once you start mining you don't have to travel, and will only move from asteroid to asteroid.

Since I was new I had pursued the first principal method this past week following guides to mine with a Frigate until I could afford a Cruiser. The problem with the Frigate is that its cargo hold fills up so quickly--as does a Destroyers incidentally. It becomes tedious mining solo in either a Frigate or a Destroyer for anything longer than an hour or so and started looking for another alternative. What I discovered was I could mine with a level 1 industrial and avoid most of the travel all together.

Industrials are not mining vessels per se, and you won't be able to fit more than a single miner on any of them, but their cargo holds will hold a considerable amount of ore. You'll still produce roughly the same amount of ore per hour as with a Frigate or Destroyer with no breaks in between round-trips, but with a lot less running back and forth. Switching to the industrial gave me considerably more time to read, or watch a movie, or whatever while I made the same (and more) ISK per day. An industrial is, in my opinion, a good starter mining platform but not something that you will want to stick with over the long term. Ultimately what you should be training toward is a Mining Barge and an Exumer beyond that. Until you are able to purchase and properly outfit a Mining Barge you need to make a decision about which method of mining you really want to go with.

You can easily solo mine in high-sec space with a industrial, but it's boring work. It's also slow. By this point in your training you probably will only be able to fit a Mining I unit to your ship and can expect to mine around 430-440 units of ore per minute. Not a terribly good amount of ore, but for a beginner quite acceptible. Solo mining will mean you will fill up in about 70 minutes and will most likely be able to complete a trip to a station and back in less than a minute. It'll probably take you close to three weeks to train to the point where you can fly and properly outfit a mining barge. If you are fine with the boredom then by all means stick with the freighter. If you find that too boring; too slow; or want to do something a little more dangerous with your ship when not mining then you might consider using the second principal method of mining, at which point sticking with a industrial makes little sense.

The second method involves jettisoning your ore into space and having a partner pick it up and transport it to a station. If you are not in a Corporation and conducting mining for that Corporation, a partner will cost you ISK for the services rendered. You'll also have to contend with finding a hauler that is trustworthy. Ultimately once the ore is inside someone else's cargohold you have no control over what happens to it from there. If you do decide to take this route however, you will want to switch to a Cruiser at the very least. There are a a few Cruisers that are more or less designed for Mining or Cargo hauling and those are the Cruisers you should be looking into at this point. I for example, use a Gallente Exequror with Cargohold I expanders and four mining units. Every few minutes I jettison my cargo into a can. My hauler picks up the can every so often, and I rinse and repeat for as long as I feel like mining.

The second method of mining, as well as the better mining platform, will enable you to vastly increase your productivity and give you a ship that you can have some real fun with at other times as well.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

EVE economics

Massively posted a lengthy and interesting interview with EVE's lead economic advisor. I've mentioned previously how I loved SWG's trade and manufacturing system and EVE has an even more complex manufacturing system. So I read this with some interest. Especially the part where he comments about possibly adding in securities at some point.

What is your threshold of pain?

It's a very weird juxtaposition, but I prefer solo content in the MMORPGs I play. Many people will respond to the sentiment that MMORPGs are intended to be social and you are expected to play with others. In my view however, the "social" aspect of the game can mean many things. Just playing in a world with thousands of others, and interacting in any way with them is social. Social, in my view, does not mean that I have to work in concert with others all of the time in order to do anything meaningful or fun.

My first MMO was Star Wars Galaxies (SWG), which I played for three years. Having zero experience with any other MMO I didn't realize just how bad it was designed and implemented. I stuck with it though until the day the first Combat Upgrade (CU) went live in March 2005 when I switched to WoW. Toward the end of my time in SWG though I was beginning to get very annoyed because unlike WoW there was absolutely no endgame. SWG is based on "player created content", meaning PVP, crafting/trade, and politics. I had a crafting toon, but frankly that does get boring after a while if that is all you do. I also had a second account which I PVPed on. I would troll the major cities for hours just looking for combat which I would find all too inoften. Even in the evenings a group of us would go out and troll and all too often, find absolutely nothing. We also had bases to defend, but weeks would often go by before any attack was mounted against them. In short it got very boring. The CU was the last nail in the coffin, but my attitude toward the game had already begun to change as I realized there was literally nothing to do by oneself.

And that really is what I'm getting at with this blog entry. What is your threshold for boredom? I've been playing WoW since March 2005 and I love the game. That is I love playing WoW up to the end game. The problem is WoW really starts at the end game, but the endgame if fraught with drama and disappointments. I mentioned a couple weeks ago that a group of us split off our old guild over raid drama and formed our own guild. Our 10-man raid group was intact, but most of the team wanted to do 25-man content. And therein lies the problem. Recruiting has not been easy, and several people in the guild have not leveled to 80, or are not entirely dependable for current raiding plans. Such as last night. We had to cancel yet another raid because we had too many unexpected holes in the team.

I've been spending considerable time in EVE Online this week because I'm a little burned out with the end-game drama in WoW. And the fact there just isn't anything to do in WoW for me right now other than dailies, farming, and achievement chasing. Frankly I'm a little bored. I love to raid though, and raiding is really the only reason I still play WoW. I've nearly met my threshold for pain in WoW, so I will step back and seek my entertainment elsewhere while the raiding situation sorts itself out a bit.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Good things coming for that EVE Online learning curve

Wasn't I just mentioning over the past couple of days how hard it is to break into EVE as a new player? Sounds like some of these changes might just help with that.

Eve Online day 3

I'm having a lot of fun with Eve Online, and I'm glad I decided to give it another try. It's amazing what a little reading can make in experience! Yesterday morning I was running a few missions in my Incursus and definitely noticed that the missions are getting harder. I was still getting through them, but I notice I'm taking a lot more damage than before and the missions themselves are taking significantly longer. Part of which might be that I'm not using drones yet and I understand that I probably should be. It's something I'll have to look into very soon. But the point I took away from those few missions was that I couldn't simply waltz into a mission and finish with my hands tied behind my back. It also meant that my ISK per hour was decreasing and my expenses were going to go up.

As I described yesterday I bought a Catalyst Destroyer and converted it to my mining effort. It cost me about 820k ISK, literally leaving me with a little over 2k ISK after the purchase. But by the time I logged off last night I had over 1.4 million ISK. I would undoubtedly have made much more but I was mining the slow way. That is with one single basic miner. I'm still in that period where I can claim noobness! So anyway, by the late afternoon I had figured out (with some more reading) that I should strip out the gun I also had fitted and add a second basic miner. At my level of training it's all my poor little CPU can handle right now, and also not impact my available cargo space. After all, that's why I bought the Destroyer in the first place. A lot of guides will tell you to but a mining Frigate and to use that until you can get a Cruiser, but with the rather limited cargo space of a Frigate you end up running back and forth to a space station all too often. With my Destroyers 430 m3 cargo hold I can at least hold 4000 m3 ore. With the two mining lasers it takes me 7 mins to fill that up, and less than a minute to travel back to the station and back. Which means I can make about 7 fully loaded trips in an hour, whereas I'd have to make about double that in a Frigate.

In any regard I more than made up for my investment yesterday alone and everything I make in the next several days will go toward the purchase of a Cruiser where I'll begin to make some serious money. I know there are different schools of thought on the best way for a beginning player to make money, but Mining seems to be the best way I can tell. In the next few weeks I'll work my way up to a Hulk and from there I'll buy the heavy combat equipment that I want for my combat fix.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

/rant Blizzcon 2009 announced

Surprise! Blizzcon 2009 is going to be in Anaheim!! Just seems like this week is my week to bitch about everything Blizzard. Not like New York or Washington DC aren't HUGE metropolitan areas where Blizzcon could be held. Sure would be nice to alternate years, with one year being on the West coast and one year being on the East coast. Sigh.

EVE Online noob

A year ago I took a swing at playing EVE Online based on entries I was reading from one of my favorite blogs (Mystic Worlds). I started up a trial account, but in all honesty I found EVE to be very complicated and really spent only a few days in game trying things out before I abandoned my account and headed back to WoW. It wasn't that EVE is beyond a new player to start in now, but rather that I wasn't willing to do the research necessary to understand just what was going on, and what I needed to do in the game to get anywhere.

Recently I had been thinking about giving EVE another go and I restarted my account back up yesterday morning. This time however, I have been doing a great deal of reading. EVE is a completely open game, which is something I haven't really experienced since my days in Star Wars Galaxies (SWG) from 2002-2005. But SWG was more simplistic than EVE, with extremely limited linear options open to any character. Not so in EVE Online, where there are literally dozens and dozens of paths--none of which is linear--available to a character. That complication both attracts me to EVE and dismays me at the same time. You create your character, but really have little idea of just what you want to do. Or rather have little information about what you really can do in EVE, and there is the crux of the problem for new players like me.

Even if you had a general idea of what you wanted to do, be it PVP, or miner, manufacturer, or what have you; how would you get there from the starter area? I haven't completed all the available tutorials yet but I certainly haven't found enough information that is terribly helpful in mapping out the various skills one would have to learn to be of any use. Some skills are rather obvious. If you want to be a miner, obviously mining skill is of great use, but what isn't so obvious is the ancillary skills that one needs in order to get the most of of a ship and mining operations. I'm still digging through all of that myself.

So there I was yesterday with a newly reopened account. There was my original character from a year ago (a Minmator) though I really didn't remember enough about the game to really do anything with him. So I created a new toon (a Gallente) and started working through the starter missions. Made some good money (about 850k ISK) in one day after expenses and a few purchases. Probably made close to 1 mil ISK including all that. But I then decided that what I really want to do is accumulate some serious money as I go along, and that, I think, requires mining. And that is what I have been doing all day. I bought myself a Destroyer that has a much larger cargo hold than either of my two Frigates, and have been running mining trips to one of the asteroid fields all day. While I embark of the training required to boost my mining skills and abilities will take over the next few days, I'll continue mining with my sub-optimal ship and equipment now and run some missions to make extra money and have some fun along the side.

By the weekend I should have a ship--although smaller--and equipment that is actually better at mining. From there I'll work up to a Cruiser that is optimized for mining. And from there I'll work up to a Battleship, which I can use to Mine and get into some serious PVE or PVP. I should be making enough money by this time in my training that I expect I can afford a real mining vessel. I'll decide where to go from there once I'm there.

TLDR, EVE is a game for people that do not necessarily want immediate gratification. EVE Online is a game that requires someone to make long term plans and realize rewards over weeks or months. It's a completely non-linear game which has a fairly steep learning curve, and features player created content foremost, with limited developer content to fill in holes.

Here's to my next million ISK!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Love was not in the air for all

Well, it's over. As of 6am EST this morning the world event called "Love is in the air" ended and many people were unable to finish the meta achievement because they were unable to loot at least one of the items that only drops from the gift of adoration. And you only get that once every 60 minutes. For the second year in a row I was unable to get the perma-peddlefoot, though I was able to complete the Love is in the Air meta achievement on Saturday. I was one of the lucky ones I suppose. Of course it helped considerably that I was able to play vastly more hours than the average person.

I think I have been fairly forthcoming with my distaste for this type of achievement construction. Blizzard has stated several times they are "fine" with the level of luck some of the achievements require, but I think that shows a level of arrogance they may come to regret one day. I don't truly believe anyone is asking for achievements to be "easy", but it's something again entirely when you create achievements that are completely random chance. Those achievements favor people who can play more because of probability. Yet there were plenty of examples of people posting on the official forums that had looted 70+ gifts of adoration and were still unable to complete the candy achievement, or get a peddlefoot.

I want achievements that reward perseverance rather than luck. I want achievements that require me to think, rather than one that makes me log in every hour on the hour for an RNG check. Somehow I think Blizzard has the know how and talent to make this happen. So why aren't they?

Friday, February 13, 2009

Dual Spec... Say what??

Blizzard finally released a little more information regarding the upcoming dual-spec system--a lot of which we already knew about from previous communications. However there was one new tidbit of information that I think surprised a lot of us. And that was that in order to access the dual-spec system you have to either use a Lexicon of Power in a major city, or have an Inscriptor in your group who will summon one (like Warlocks summon summoning stones now) for the group to use.

when I read that I just shook my head. Why does Blizzard take every opportunity to implement something new in the worst possible way? If there is even the slightest ability to implement something and make it just a little more difficult, trust that Blizzard will take that route rather than just do what everyone is clamoring for. Instead of just making a strait up system that allows everyone that wants to switch back and forth between specs (outside of combat), you will now have to make sure you have an inscriptor in the group. No word on what cool down will be introduced along with the new summonable Lexicon of Power either.

Blizzard, for the love of all that is holy. Just implement that damn system. Stop screwing around, and stop making my fun dependent on others. There is absolutely no reason why anyone should have to group up to change their specs, nor to travel back to a major city to do it either. Pull your head out please!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Chicken or the Egg for Eve Online on Linux?

Sad news was released yesterday regarding CCP's discontinuation of development for a Linux client. Though I haven't played Eve Online in quite a while, I am a very enthusiastic Linux user. so whenever I hear about, or read about circumstance such as this it makes me a bit sad. I have felt for a long time that one of the greatest strengths in the Linux community is also one of its greatest weaknesses. Though Linus disagrees with me, recently stating multiple distributions were absolutely essential, I would rather see more people working on less, than more, open source technologies. In my view what has held back Linux from taking over the "desktop" is that we as a development community are too spread out. In a commercial company, like Microsoft, development is tightly controlled and directed. Not so in most open source projects, where developmental energy is fragmented across multiple duplicate projects.

While CCP will instead let Linux support come from Codeweavers, that is really a workaround and can never be as fast as a native client. It's why I play WoW on Windows, and leads to opinions in public at large that Linux is not a good alternative to Windows. It's a vicious circle that is true in a sense because clearly the development that is needed to truly make Linux a desktop rival to Microsoft Windows is not being done fast enough. Yet it's false in a sense because Linux is very much a better operating system than "Windows". CCP's announcement is just another admission that we as a development community are letting opportunities slip through our fingers.

Love is in the air

Yes folks, it's time for another world event full of achievements! Except this one is probably one of the more difficult meta achievements to complete because it requires several items that are "rare" drops, or items that can only be looted once every 60 minutes. Which means those who have less time to play than others are going to be at a severe disadvantage to those with more time to play. Despite some fairly loud complaints on the official Achievements board, all Blizzard did to rectify the situation was to remove the "Perma-Peddlefoot" achievement from the meta achievement, and called it a day.

Since this world event is only five and a half days long, I suggest that anyone wanting to complete all the individual achievements for the meta, and perhaps still get the Perma-Peddlefoot pet not wait too long to start. And when you do start, do not miss any opportunity to get the gifts of Adoration. Only from those--earnable only once per hour, can you loot the Perma-Peddlefoot, the black dress, and some of the other items needed for the other achievements.

For Blizzards part, they had ample opportunity to change these achievements so everyone had an equal chance at completing them, and in my view they have let a lot of people down.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Patch 3.0.9 released today

We got about a 24-hour notice from none other than MMO-Champion on this one, because Blizzard sure didn't say anything about it. in fact the official patch notes page on the official web site still shows the 3.0.8 patch notes as the most recent. I'd love to log in and test some things out but the lag is through the roof (as usual) and I'm a little over it. So here are the patch notes, I'm off to get some virtualization running on my Linux laptop.

World of Warcraft Client Patch 3.0.9

The latest test realm patch notes can always be found at

The latest patch notes can always be found at

Druid (Skills List / Talent + Glyph Calc.)
  • Ferocious Bite: This ability now only uses up to 30 energy in addition to its base cost.

Hunter (Skills List / Talent + Glyph Calc.)
  • Kindred Spirits (Beast Mastery): This talent now grants 20% pet damage at max rank.
  • Serpent’s Swiftness (Beast Mastery): This talent now grants 20% pet attack speed at max rank.

  • Lava Breath now reduces the target's casting speed by 25%, down from 50%.
  • Poison Spit now reduces the target's casting speed by 25%, down from 50%.

Mage (Skills List / Talent + Glyph Calc.)
  • Arcane Power now increases damage and mana cost by 10%, cooldown reduced to 1 minute. (Note: The spell is actually different in game and increases damage and mana costs by 20% with a 2 minutes cooldown. However it would probably be better to wait until servers are online to confirm that.)
  • Arcane Power and Presence of Mind now share a category cooldown. Arcane Power causes a 15 second cooldown. Presence of Mind, once consumed, causes a 1.5 second cooldown.
  • Arcane Flows now reduces the cooldown of Presence of Mind, Arcane Power and Invisibility by 15/30%.
  • Presence of Mind: The cooldown has been reduced to 2 minutes, (down from 3.)
  • Slow (Arcane): now increases cast time by 30%, down from 60%.Glyphs
  • Glyph of Arcane Missiles -- Increases the critical strike damage bonus of Arcane Missiles by 25%. (Old - Increases the range of Arcane Missiles by 5 yards.)
  • Glyph of Mana Gem -- Increases the mana recieved from using a mana gem by 40%. (Up from 10%)
  • Glyph of Arcane Blast -- Increases the damage from your Arcane Blast buff by 3%. (Down from 5%)

Paladin (Skills List / Talent + Glyph Calc.)
  • The duration on all Seals has been increased to 30 minutes and can no longer dispelled.
  • Divine Plea: The amount healed by your spells is reduced by 50% (up from 20%) but the effect can no longer be dispelled.
  • Sanctified Seals: This talent no longer affects dispel resistance, but continues to affect crit chance.Glyphs
  • Glyph of Holy Light -- Your Holy Light grants 10% of its heal amount to up to 5 friendly targets within 8 yards of the initial target. (Down from 20 yards, Tooltip text fix, was already hotfixed to 8 yards in game)
  • Glyph of Seal of Righteousness -- Increases the damage done by Seal of Righteousness by 10%. (Old - Reduces the cost of your Judgement spells by 10% while Seal of Righteousness is active.)

Priest (Skills List / Talent + Glyph Calc.)
  • Inner Fire duration has been increased to 30 minutes and can no longer dispelled.

Rogue (Skills List / Talent + Glyph Calc.)
  • Hunger for Blood (Assassination): Now increases damage 5% per stack, (up from 3%.)
  • Mind Numbing Poison now reduces cast time by 30%, down from 60%.
  • Mutilate damage will now do 20% increased damage against poisoned targets, down from 50%.
  • Slice and Dice: This ability now increases melee attack speed by 40%, up from 30%.

Shaman (Skills List / Talent + Glyph Calc.)
  • Glyph of Windfury Weapon -- Increases the chance per swing for Windfury Weapon to trigger by 2%. (Down from 5%)

Warlock (Skills List / Talent + Glyph Calc.)
  • Curse of Tongues: Now increases the casting time of all spells by 25% (Rank 1) and 30% (Rank 2), down from 50% and 60%.

Dungeons and Raids
The Obsidian Sanctum
Changed the color of the fissure in the Obsidian Sanctum to be more visually distinct.
User Interface
  • The “GM wishes to speak with you” alert/button, at the top of the screen, has been changed so that addons do not obscure it.
  • A clickable chat message has been added that duplicates the GM alert/button.
  • When a GM wishes to speak with you the Help Request minibar button will glow.
  • For additional notes on Lua and XML changes please visit the UI & Macros forum .g Fixes
  • Fixed an issue where players using nVidia 3D glasses were unable to see spell cooldowns.
  • Fixed a software mouse cursor bug that was causing the mouse curser to disappear from view when over certain UI elements.
  • Fixed a player movement error in which other players were appearing to move erratically when traveling beside them.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Thoughts on patch 3.0.8

As patch go Patch 3.0.8 was a little on the hefty side. Especially considering it added no new content to the game. What it did do was change a tremendous amount of talents, game mechanics, items, and instances. Most of which I think were very positive, but some are downright frustrating. Many of the changes to Death Knights are strictly PVP related, which is something I have always found to be quite onerous. I do not Arena, and I don't like changes that are Arena driven to force changes in my PVE play. I'm referring to the changes in the Anti-Magic shell and Gargoyle as examples of some of these.

Outside of a few of those instances I think Blizzard did fairly well. You can definitely see the trend of balancing similar abilities across class, like all taunts now having a 30-yard range and damage mitigation or avoidance abilities being equalized. From that we can see they haven't backed off their assertion regarding classes -- "Bring the player, not the class", though it still isn't quite correct. If you look at Rogues right now for example, they are no where near the top of the DPS hierarchy raid wise. Which is surprising considering where they were at the end of the Burning Crusade. As a raid leader, Rogues are probably the last DPS class I would want to bring now. So I think Blizz still has a little work cut out for them.

In summary, I think I'd give Blizzard an 8 out of 10 on this patch. Some very nice changes and additions, but I think they made a few that falling into the annoying category too.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Musings from the previous few weeks

Unfortunately I was just really busy, and sick the past few weeks and didn't get much of a chance to blog. So let me catch you up on what has been taking up the lions share of my time recently. I had commented previously that my guild had started to hit Naaxramus hard, however that started off somewhat rocky. Myself and a couple other friends then started a mostly static 10-man raiding group and we were actually the first group in the guild to clear Naax. And we continued to have good success raiding it twice a week.

It seems our little raiding group was the topic of considerable conversation in the guild amongst the officer corp however. And from what I had heard, none of it very good. It seems most of the officers didn't like what we were doing and were taking the opportunity to cast stones our way, unfortunately without realizing the irony in their opinions.

I had been in this guild for about three years, and had actually been the main tank (MT) on my Druid throughout most of the Burning Crusade (BC). Yet despite the effort and dedication that took I never really broke into the "clique". The guild had originally been formed by five family members and a few close friends. Its only natural that these people would be a little more close to one another than anyone else you just meet on the Internet. But others that came over from their previous guild and had close ties to them were also included in this "clique", though many of them are some of the nicest people one could imagine.

Decisions were made regarding raiding--everything from the DKP system, to who was queued to raids, to what was to be raided on a given week--were made by the "officers" without any input from the rest of the team. And people I had brought into the guild to fill holes the guild had were treated shabbily in my opinion. One of those was a tank that I worked with and was one of the tanks in a successful raiding guild on a PVP server. He actually transferred his Protection Warrior and hunter from that server to come raid with us when we were in desperate need for more tanks. Despite that knowledge, the guild ended up continuing to recruit more tanks and we ended up with a glut of tanks again. And my friend ended up getting the short end of that stick. And two other friends that I worked with who had joined the guild also were treated in a similar manner. None of them ever received a static or even semi-static raid spot. My tank friend was often asked to raid on Gruul, but only on the King fight for instance. Then he was asked to leave so a DPS could replace him. I can certainly sympathize because that entire dungeon was just badly planned, but to have to undergo this treatment week after week is inexcusable. Other tanks were not asked to rotate so that each of them would get a chance to actually complete the raid and get some gear. And ultimately he left the guild and transferred back to his old server in disgust. And frankly I was very upset about his treatment, as well as the treatment the others I had brought in were being given. Particularly when a small number of others that were recruited by key members of the "clique" were given static spots on the raid team after only being in the guild as short as two weeks.

You see that is just an example of how the guild has operated and been managed for the past three years, and those sorts of issues have greatly upset many people other than myself. And many people have left the guild including a handful of well known and liked people within the past few months. And when these things flare up, the officers act surprised and dumbfounded as to why people could possibly get upset enough to leave. Yet when the issues are clearly communicated to them they act indignant, deny the message, or gloss over the entire episode entirely.

And such is what we have been going through in the guild yet again for the past few weeks. There are a few 10-man raiding groups that are running--largely independent of one another for weeks now. But the guild started up active 25-man raiding a few weeks ago. Completely unsurprisingly most of the raid spots went to "clique" members, including to some who weren't even ready for raiding when it started. They ended up allowing others to fill those spots, and then displaced those people when the "clique" members were ready. Because we're a casual raiding guild, there are more people in the guild than available raiding spots, so outside of of the handful of spots that are open for people to apply for every week everyone is largely on their own for raiding. And so it was with our little 10-man group that was happily clearing Naax every week with no fuss, no muss, and absolutely no drama.

That was until it was decided by the majority of the group that they wanted to bump up to running 25-man content. I won't get into the nitty gritty details, but one of the members of our group took it upon himself to open up a line of communication with the Officers and began to "make sure the officers were on board" with it all. I have no idea what someone would feel it necessary to do this, because none of us felt we needed permission to raid on our own. But it opened the can of worms again and comments that we were causing problems in the guild were thrown around. How ironic.

Ultimately the Guild Master told us that we would not be allowed to run any 25-man content unless the officers were in control and we followed their rules. Needless to say we did not agree and our raid leader was asked to leave the guild. A bunch of us followed. In fact it was the largest exodus of people from the guild at one time I have witnessed in the three years I was there. Yet two days later one of the "clique" posts in the raid forum that "good things were happening (in the guild)". She painted a completely rosy picture of what just happened, and it illustrated precisely how out of touch they all are with the rank and file in the guild. Truly sad. We of course started our own guild and should be resuming 25-man raiding next week.

Outside of all that I have been very busy lately with achievement chasing. You'd never know my Death Knight is only two months old.