Friday, March 30, 2007

Back In The Saddle...Again!

I've pretty much spent the better part of the day in-game today...and damn, did I need it!

I've suddenly started to get some missions I've never seen before. The last one involved a force field that need to be taken down in order to reach the loot needed to complete the mission. This actually required some thinking through and strategy, though it wasn't especially difficult to figure out. I have to admit I liked the new missions. They were not impossible to complete, but fun and fairly lucrative...I've racked up about 4.5 mil ISK today...not bad for a few hours.

So, I guess I'm starting to see the Revelations 1.4 changes...and so far, I like. Right now, I need a high-interest diversion from RL and Eve has been exactly what I've needed. To be honest though, just sitting here writing about it is making me think about stuff that annoys me again so I'm going to go blow some more shit up now.

Til next time....

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Miss Me?


Yeah, I know it's been a while...longer than I'd anticipated, and it may be a while still before I'm again posting with the kind of regularity I started with. I can only plead an overwhelming amount of RL stuff to deal with. My new position still hasn't begun, though the launch is (hopefully) coming by the end of the month.

So, I finally had some time last night to fire up Eve and try to get back into it and pick up where I'd left off. This was fairly easy to do, and plus I had the added bonus of Drones V, Heavy Drones IV, and Battlecruisers IV, all of which I'd trained during my off-time. The one and only real advantage to having to take so much time off from Eve is that by the time I get back to it I'm more powerful and more capable than when I left.

During my off-time, Revelations 1.4 was deployed, as well as Eve Voice. To be honest, other than the lighter shade of grey of some of the information screens, I really haven't noticed the slightest difference thus far, but I've also just played for a couple of hours since the patch so I don't think it's really fair to judge that just yet.

Eve Voice, on the other hand, I do have something to say about. I think the idea of a built-in voice chat is a great idea, however, the way this has been offered to players frankly pisses me off. I've already invested over $150 in this game this year, and frankly, I think asking me and other players who make that level of investment in this game to then shell out even more for Eve Voice is not only unfair to players, but will ensure its failure.

After all, why should anyone shell out extra money for this when TeamSpeak is already in use in every alliance and once the server is paid for, is completely free to use? Where's the benefit here? Where's the incentive to switch? I wish someone would clue me in because right now I don't see any point in signing up for even a free trial of a voice chat system that few, if any, at least of those I've spoken with or read their thoughts in the forums on, have any intention of using.

The only way Eve Voice can possibly be successful is if everyone uses it, otherwise, no one will use it. In a nutshell, CCP is asking players to give up a free service that almost every corp or alliance which currently uses voice chat relies on, and instead take on a new, untried system that everyone will have to pay extra for. This thing is dead on arrival unless and until CCP realizes that most of the serious players of this game, the ones who continue to play (and pay) month after month and year after year, just aren't going to willingly shell out more money to replace a system that's not only already universally used in the game, but is free. Again, where's the incentive to switch, or even bother with a 30-day trial of a voice chat system most of their fellow players aren't going to be using when they go into battle because they've already got their TS servers up and running with easy and free access for every single member of their fleet? It just makes no sense for anyone who's really serious about this game to even bother with Eve Voice right now.

Eve Voice should be free, at minimum, to any player with six months or more paid time in the game (not actual chronological time playing, but paid up to that point or later). It's the only way it's even going to be seriously considered by any alliance now using TS or Ventrilio. No alliance leader with half a brain is going to risk using a new and relatively untested voice chat system in battle, especially one that requires players to pay extra for it. What would they do if some of their pilots flying ships critical to their fleets decide, for whatever reason, that they can't or don't want to pay for it? They'd be fucked and they know it, so they're just not going to risk it and will stick with the tried and true. That's just common sense and good leadership, and I'm frankly amazed that CCP apparently doesn't see that.

For myself and other players at my level, Eve Voice would serve no useful purpose other to facilitate casual voice chat at this point and that's just not a good enough reason to bother with it. I spend more than enough time behind a microphone in RL, thank you, and unless I've got a damn good reason, I'm probably not going to bother with in-game voice chat at all. Right now, I just don't see one. I'll save my 30-day free trial for when and if people actually start using this thing.

For a company that has invested such a high level of planning and forethought into this game, CCP certainly doesn't seem to have given Eve Voice and its impact on the game and its players anywhere near the same level of consideration, and that's really a pity.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Decision Made!

If you look on the top of the this page you'll see that what I decided the correct answer to the question about what the name of this blog would be was "D. Another option I haven't thought of yet (please specify).". By the way, you'll note that while the title of this blog has changed, the URL hasn't, so no need to change your bookmarks.

It came to me last night, while I was attempting my first level 3 combat mission in the Myrmidon. Interestingly, I believe I drew the same mission I nearly got vaporized on when I tried to do it in the Thorax. This time, I did quite fact, I'm doing damage on this mission at much the same relative level as I was doing with level 2 missions in the Thorax. Once again, this game demonstrates how completely thought-out and well-planned each aspect of its gameplay is.

I just read about CCP's trip to the Game Developer's Convention. One thing that I found interesting was that they plan to hire over a hundred developers to fill out positions in the company. My brother is a computer graphic artist and developer (I know he did work some years ago for a game called "Evolution", which I never actually played, but the graphics demo sure looked nice), and so I know that this kind of thing, where a company suddenly announces they're hiring a bazillion technical people, is a fairly unusual thing. It's also a good indication that Eve is doing very well and, in contrast to the opinions of some of the doomsayers I've read on the official forums, not only isn't going anywhere, but will continue to develop, grow, and improve for a very long time to come. Struggling businesses don't hire a hundred new employees or acquire other companies, as CCP just did with White Wolf (a company that makes collectible card games (CCG's), similar to "Magic: The Gathering"). Yet another reason why I'm glad I made the investment in a full-year subscription to this game.

Also, I believe I was right when I said that as far as the BoB/Dev. thing goes, the game will fix itself. The incident has seemingly spurred what many are calling "The Great War", BoB and their allies versus pretty much the rest of the star cluster. Regardless of who wins (though it's my suspicion that this war will be raging for a while to come yet), there will almost certainly be a change in the balance of power among the major alliances in this game. That, I believe, is probably a good thing...but it's also possible that it might not be.

If BoB wins the war decisively, and maintains or increases the level of power and influence they have now, a lot of players will not be happy. Perhaps more importantly, if BoB becomes even more powerful and untouchable as a result of this war, a large portion of the player base will be furious and very likely a substantial number will decide that trying to be successful and potent in Eve is no longer an attainable goal for those not connected to BoB or one of their allies and just move on to other games.

Now, of course, from my perspective as a player at this point, it all means less than nothing. I've never even seen 0.0 yet. I do plan for the future with that move in mind, but I also believe that to try to make that move now, while I'm still learning and progressing and don't have a lot to fall back on should I get my ship blown up and/or myself podded, would be foolish in the extreme.

That said, it's also true that I have a battlecruiser now, a reasonably well-armed one, in fact, and I've been starting to think that maybe it's time I starting pushing the envelope a little bit more. I have to be careful because right now I really have no margin for error, but once I've got a little more ISK in my pocket I have a feeling I'll be getting that wanderlust...

And so, it's Monday, the day my big RL career move was supposed to happen, but it's been delayed a week to the 19th. It hardly thrills me to have to wait another week, but I did get at least some time to play Eve this weekend that I didn't expect to have. I didn't get a chance to finish that mission last night, but I might jump in later and try it again...we'll see. It'll be seven extra days before the big launch, but work somehow has a way of expanding to fill the time available, so nothing's carved in stone by any means.

Still, at least I've got that title thing worked out...

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Just a Girl and Her...Myrmidon?

I be honest, I'm still deciding.

Not about the Myrmidon itself, mind you. I've got it about 90% fitted enough the way I want it, enough to try taking on a level 3 mission and seeing how it goes. The components I had in the Thorax filled out the Myrmidon nicely for the most part. I had to buy a few things like a medium armor repper and a couple more guns, but I had the whole thing fitted to the point where I was comfortable taking it out of dock while spending only about a million or so ISK to do it.

Of course, then I had to insure the thing. I took the best I could afford, the Standard level insurance. It only pays 60% (24m ISK), but since I don't have a spare 20 mil lying around for the Platinum level insurance and I don't plan on doing level 2 missions in the Thorax for another two weeks to get it, it'll have to do. I probably shouldn't jinx it, but I haven't had a ship blown up on me in a couple of weeks now, so I'm hoping the streak continues at least until I can do some level 3 missions and bank some more ISK.

So, the Myrmidon is now spaceworthy, and, presumably, missionworthy, even if there are a few tweaks I'd like to make once I have a bit more ISK to play with. Of course, at this point the missionworthy status is total supposition on my part...I spent a few hours flying it around Gallente space tonight acquiring a few things I needed, but I still haven't fired a single shot in combat with this ship yet.

And yet, I still have that most challenging of all Eve-related conundrums to answer: Should I change the name of this blog to fit what I'm flying now?

I've actually been giving this a lot of thought. I'm a writer (gee, could ya tell?) and to my writer's sensibility, "A Girl and Her Myrmidon" just doesn't seem to roll off the tongue (or the keyboard) the way "A Girl and Her Thorax" does. I dunno, maybe it's the extra syllable but it just seems "off" to me, if you know what I mean.

Of course, this is purely about aesthetics and has no bearing on what I write here or on my gameplay whatsoever, so I'm going to toss the question out to you.

Should I:

A. Change the name of the blog to fit the new ship and each successive new model ship I fly as I put them in space.

B. Change the name of the blog to fit the new ship this time, but reconsider the question each time I upgrade my ship.

C. Keep it "Just a Girl and Her Thorax" in perpetuity.

D. Another option I haven't thought of yet (please specify).

Please post your thoughts in the comments...thanks!

Right now, it's 7am eastern time, the beginning of the daily Eve downtime. The stress of preparing for this new position has been fucking with my sleep patterns, and so I find myself at the computer, as awake as ever, with a cup of hot coffee at my side after a sleepless night...and
I can't even load up Eve to jump in and play when it's still early enough that the phone won't start ringing for at least a few hours (lucky me, I'm in New Jersey, but the network's main studio and my boss are in LA...I generally don't have to start fielding calls and dealing with work-related issues directly until at least noon my time). Yes, there's a reason why after sparse and fairly short posts for the last few days you're suddenly getting this monstrosity.

So, perhaps in exactly fifty more minutes as I write this, I'll go do some more cruising in my new toy...and maybe break in that new fitting on some level 3 NPC's...

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Checkin' In...

So, I popped into Eve for about ten minutes last night to set my next skill training (on the advice of Lucas, I just finished training Drones V), and hey, big surprise, the launch of the network I'm going to be working for has been delayed a week, until the 19th (not really, this is like the fifth or sixth time it's been pushed back), but I doubt there will be any more delays after this. Still, it does give me a bit more breathing space...and possibly more Eve time in the coming days. Hell, I might just jump in for a while today!

It's only been a few days, but I'm already missing Eve and I'm anxious to get started on fitting my new ship. I've decided that what I'm going to do in order to make sure I can fully fit the Myrmidon and at least have something left over in order to insure it is that I'm going to buy everything I need (unless of course I've got it lying around somewhere) except for what I already have in the Thorax. Once I've done that and have everything in the same place, I'll strip the Thorax and use the components to finish fitting the Myrmidon. I've got some fairly nice stuff in there...four 250mm Compressed Coils and a tech II armor repper, for example...and if I tried to just purchase everything I need I'd probably pretty much wipe myself out financially.

I'll still have my fully-fitted Catalyst as a backup should I manage to get myself blown up again. Sure, it's not as good as having a fully-fitted Thorax available if I need it, but as time goes on I'll be able to afford to re-fit that ship as a backup as well.

So, as you can see, I've made my decision. Now, I'm anxious to get started on putting it into effect. Hopefully, that'll start later today.

And then, after all that, when the Thorax is stripped and the Myrmidon is finally ready to fly, I'll still have one more question to answer:

Should I change the name of this blog?

Thursday, March 8, 2007

A Temporary Diversion...

...yeah, that inconvenient ol' RL strikes again. It's just a few days before the start of a new professional situation, and the demands of preparing for that are seriously cutting into my Eve playing time. Actually, I haven't logged in for just over two days...there's just been too much to do to be able to take the time.

Honestly, it may be like this for the next several days, so if you don't see the same regularity of posts you've become used to, don't won't be forever. The fact that I also get the bonus of extra time to consider how I want to proceed on the fitting of my Myrmidon is a welcome benefit though.

This new RL position is a very new and exciting experience for me, and I'm taking the time to savor it and give it all the attention it requires, and it's where I expect my attentions will be chiefly focused over the next several days. Hopefully, I'll find some time to jump into Eve during this period, but right now, just four days before the big day, there's just no way to guarantee, or even just expect, that I'm going to have a lot of time for Eve over the next several days.

Here's yet another thing I love about this game: I can do exactly what I'm doing now, not play regularly or at all for a while, but I can come back, log on, and pick up right where I left off. I don't feel like I'm hurting my character or missing out on anything by having to take a few days off. And, because I'm able to focus on what I need to focus on right now, without having to worry about regularly logging in or playing to "maintain" my character (other than making sure my skill trainings are set), I'll be able to enjoy the playtime I will have available even more. For me, this is just one more reason why Eve is the perfect game.

So, you might not see another post here for a few days...or you might. I don't know...everything depends on time...

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Taking the Plunge...

...yep, I finally just got tired of waiting and just did it: Last night, I bought my Myrmidon.

That's all I've done so far, mind you. After buying the ship, I have a little more than 7 million ISK left, so I'm currently deciding whether to purchase a full fitting of guns and other modules for the Myrmidon from scratch or to strip my Thorax of all that expensive ordinance I have in there and use it to hopefully help me to conserve enough of that 7 mil to buy the best stuff I can run in all those extra slots I now have to play with. Of course, there's always the other option, which is to just keep running missions in the Thorax as I slowly but surely fit my Myrmidon the way I want it, piece by piece.

I'm really not sure what I'm going to do here. I haven't even logged in yet today, mainly because I know that in order to get anything done I need to decide what I'm doing next...and y'know, I just realized that I never bothered to check and see how much it's going to cost to insure this thing. Hmmm...maybe some more Thorax mission running is in order before the Myrmidon sees space? Clearly, I have more research to do.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

What's So Great About Eve Anyway?

Recently, I was on a radio show (actually I was hosting it) talking about MMOG's and one of the things I said on the air was that I believe that the Eve playerbase is generally more mature, and therefore probably less prone to certain negative aspects of player socialization. In addition, though, I also think there's more to it than just a chronological age difference.

Eve, as everyone who plays it seriously knows, is not an especially easy or a particularly accessible game, not if you really want to get to what most players consider "the good stuff". Getting to that point takes a lot of time and hard work, and that's something that a lot of younger MMOG players, more seeking a thrill of the moment rather than a hard-won victory, just aren't going to be willing to do. In a way, this is a bad thing for CCP and Eve, for no other reason than simple economics: the less people who find Eve accessible and compelling, the less subscription income for CCP, and thus, the less money is available to be invested back into the game itself as opposed to into the company to keep it running. At the same time, however, it's a great thing for both the game and the playerbase. Those who do stick around are serious, hardcore, and loyal, including many like myself, who've just fallen in love with the game and are far less wrapped up in actually being able to rule the New Eden star cluster than they are in just having a great time trying.

My own experience with this game and its players clearly bears this theory out. I've met some pretty terrific people in this game in just the couple of months I've been playing it. The friendliness, generosity, and kindness of the vast majority of the people I've encountered in Eve thus far is overwhelming, and quite a bit more positive than in other games and other social circles. Even when there's been disagreement the tone has remained civil and reasoned.

It all seems to fit with the generally higher-than-average positive tone of player interaction that
just seems to be a part of the overall personality of the community of Eve players. World of Warcraft has about a bazillion times more players than Eve does, but one thing I doubt it'll ever have is the high quality of its playerbase and player interactions.

Now of course, I've never played World of Warcraft, but I have heard plenty about it and I have played Everquest. Having done my bit with medieval sword-slashing and magic-casting in that game, I've really felt no need since to repeat the experience. And now, why would I? I've found my game.

Funny how things work out, isn't it? The first time I played Eve, I played for a few days and then I moved took a year until I decided to take another look and was hooked the second time. I've always wondered how many players came or came back to Eve after trying and becoming bored with another MMOG first...

What's so great about Eve? Two things:

1. The game.

2. The people who play it.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Decisions, Decisions...

Yesterday when I logged in, Lucas Malbranque found me and asked if I'd like some help on my mission...he had a newly fitted ship he wanted to try. Together, we took on the last part of "Human Cattle", easing through it with nary a problem. Best of all was the great conversation...Lucas really knows Eve and his advice is invaluable to me. And, on top of all that, he left me enough ISK as a parting gift to easily purchase my Myrmidon!

Afterward I quickly called up the market panel to see the current prices, but as I was checking and discovering that yes, I could buy a Myrmidon now if I wanted to, it might be smarter to invest in the advanced learning skillbooks Lucas recommended I get first. On the other hand, were I to buy both of the books he recommended, I'd be only able to afford to buy, but not properly fit or insure, a Myrmidon. Hmmm....what to do, what to do?

Discretion, I've decided, is the better part of common sense in this case. I scrolled all the way down the panel and found the Clarity skillbook, priced at a little over four million ISK, and bought it. I've now just finished training that up to Level 3, and after I log in later I'll go buy and start training the other one (I can't think of the actual name of the skill just now. :/). I look at it this way: Since these skills allow me to train other skills faster, that's gotta be a useful advantage when I'm ready to move up to a Battlecruiser. It's worth the extra time running missions in a Cruiser to help ensure that I won't have to worry about it later.

Given how time is so artfully used to control progress in Eve, it's not a far stretch to imagine that a good rule of thumb to follow is that the longer you take to prepare for something in this game, the more likely you are to be successful at it. Therefore, I'm taking the more time-consuming but probably safer route of training these skills up and then recouping the ISK I'm spending to get them by just continuing to do what I've been doing for the last few days, before I take that plunge and get my Myrmidon.

In any case, this is now an entirely different prospect than it was just a day or two ago...I suspect things will begin to get more interesting in this game for me starting very soon.

Friday, March 2, 2007


Yeah, I'm still making a pile on those level two missions, inching ever closer to that Myrmidon price tag...

I played some yesterday, but it was also a very big day for me RL careerwise. It was just officially announced that a new online media venture I'm a part of is getting ready to launch in about a week and a half. It's going to mean that I'm finally going to be taking something I've been doing as an amateur for about five years and beginning to do it professionally. This is a classic "big break" situation, and of course I'm very excited. This announcement also means that my workload will be increasing significantly in the very near future, and as it does, I'll likely have at least a little less time for Eve, at least for a while, until the newness wears off and everyone involved finds their own niche in doing their part to make this thing work. Very exciting, but also quite irrelevant to playing Eve other than its demands on my free time, so let's move on.

I pulled in something in the neighborhood of 2.5 million ISK yesterday running missions, and if I'd forced myself to stay awake another half hour I probably could have upped that by close to another mil, but sleep once again overwhelmed greed, so I'll finish what I was doing when I log in later, but I know I've missed the time bonus. Oh well...better than pushing it too far and dozing off at an inopportune moment.

I know I shouldn't jinx it by saying anything, but I haven't lost a ship in a while....not since I started using armor hardeners the way the BoB guys showed me. I've come fairly close a few times, but never so close that I didn't have the time to warp out safely. Part of it is the armor hardeners, and part of it is also that I'm improving in terms of keeping everything moving along...maneuvering, targeting ships, launching drones (I still forget sometimes, but I'm getting better), keeping the right modules active, all that stuff...and so I'm getting through these Level 2 missions more and more quickly.

Also, by the time I finally get my Myrmidon and have her fitted out and ready to fly, I'll have plenty of Level 3 agents at all levels available to me. I trained up my social skills a while ago, so certain corps that I have a high standing with are already offering me high-level Level 3 agents...needless to say, right now I just put them in People and Places and move on. Considering how much trouble I had with a mission from a -17 Level 3 agent, I'm guessing that taking on one from a +16 probably wouldn't be the smartest move while I'm still flying a it a hunch. ;)

The next few weeks will be interesting ones for me, both in and out of Eve. Funny how it seems like just as I'm heading toward entering a new level of play in this game, I'm also entering a new level in my RL career. Of course, certain aspects just don't compare. I've been playing Eve for all of two months, but I've been working toward this RL career move for about five years.

It's also interesting how both this career move and my progress in Eve seem to call up the same emotions within me, like that the anxious nervousness of not knowing what's around the next corner but desperately wanting to find out or the determination to succeed. It seems that Eve's corollaries to real life don't end at just the obvious, what you have to actually do in order to succeed, but also include, for me at least, how it makes you feel doing it.

Of course, there's the big difference, the one that truly matters above all others: One is a game, the other is reality. Still, both cause the mind to fly toward the future, to a place where all the hard work begins to pay off, a place where new opportunities and new adventures beckon. It's a place I've been heading towards for a while, a place which now doesn't seem quite as far away as it used to.

Ok, clearly I'm having difficulty separating my musings on Eve from my musings on RL events right now, so I'm just going to bag it for today, probably get some play time in later, and try posting again tomorrow or the day after.

In some ways, this game can be just a little too realistic...