Monday, May 28, 2007

Slow Buildup...

...that's what you could call it, I guess.

In reality, it's more that RL is just taking a dump on me right now terms of demands on my time and so, I'm playing whenever I get a little time. Regular readers may remember that not so long ago I had to take a short hiatus from posting here to prepare for a new RL position. Sadly, that position does not appear to be materializing at this time. However, an alternative or sudden resurrection are not impossible so nothing is carved in stone at this point. At this point, all options are open.

As a result, I'm going to have to devote more time to RL pursuits for a while, and I'm sure both my playing time and my blogging time will suffer as a result. Of course, the more I have to deal with in RL, the nicer it is to take a break with EVE when I'm able. On the other hand, if I'm successful in my RL pursuits, it'll change my life significantly...just how much remains to be seen.

I wish I had more time to write, but right now, I don't...more soon.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Another One Bites The Dust... it my fourth Myrmidon...or my fifth? I don't remember.

Still, a pretty simple matter to buy a new one since the insurance money currently not only provides enough to buy the ship but also refit it for the most part. The biggest PITA will be fitting the thing.

Ah well...I'll probably jump in-game for a while later, but I've got a lot of RL shit to do today...

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

All Fixed...Sorta...

What I ended up doing is was following Lucas' suggestion (see comments on the previous post). I podded myself back to Korsiki and then clone jumped back to Gallente space to do some mission running. Now, I'm back in my proper original clone with all those lovely implants and in about 23 hours or so I'll be able to jump back at will. In the meantime, I guess I'll just have to rack up as much mission running goodness as I can, I suppose...

I did manage to lose a Myrmidon earlier on a mission, but it was a simple matter to replace it this time around. Gotta be a little more careful. It always seems like just as I'm about to finally make some real headway, I lose another ship. Not an especially good pattern to find oneself in. I gotta stop doing that, too.

So, I think it's probably almost time to jump back in-game and have just a little more fun before bedtime...

Continuing To Be Bad...

...yeah, I really am.

Late last night, after checking Local repeatedly and finding it clear, I jumped in a shuttle and lit out for Gallente space. I took the faster route, which includes a few low-sec systems, and at one point found myself in the middle of a pitched battle between a couple of pilots who both had bad standing toward me (and toward each other, I suppose). Lucky me, they were so busy with each other that neither seemed to care about me and my little unarmed, empty shuttle.

Arriving at my current staging station in Gallente space, I did a couple of missions and then went to bed. This morning, I realized that since I actually flew the distance last night to Gallente space I have to fly back in order to restore my jump clone...or, I suppose I could fly to either Khanid Kingdom or a Federation Navy station to set another one, but at this point that seems kind of counterproductive since sooner or later I'd have to fly into Korsiki.

It's my own fault, of course. By now, I'd be able to clone jump back to Gallente space, but because I couldn't wait last night, I find myself in the interesting situation of having my medical clone in Korsiki and my jump clone in Gallente space. This is all because I had to get back to Gallente space I was willing to risk flying it, and now, because of that, the only way to fix it is by flying to Korsiki and then jumping back.

To be honest, I'm not yet sure what I'm going to do.

Monday, May 21, 2007

The Waiting...

Well, at least its a little more interesting than counting the number of lights inside a station.

I stood watch along with about 40 of my fellow E-Uni peeps for a couple of hours before I had to go. I'd have happily stayed a few more but I couldn't right then. I do plan to take a few later tonight though. In reality, I doubt anyone is going to see any action at all tonight...but then again, who knows?

Very weird. The interesting part was that is was something...people felt like they were doing something...and maybe some of us weren't, especially if, like me, they weren't in on the three MENTL kills earlier today.

Right now, I'm taking a break from the waiting. If I go back in, I couldn't clone jump again until tomorrow even if I wanted to, so it'll just be more guard duty...and I'm ok with that. They also serve, she who stands and protects...ok, so I made that one up, but it works... doesn't it?

Perhaps a nap and then I'll go babysit Korsiki for a while.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Still Being Bad...

...I suppose, anyway. I haven't been in-game yet today. Too many other things need doing before that happens today. In any case, though, I'm still in Gallente space, but I'm also ready to jump right back to Korsiki at a moment's notice if I'm needed.

This is my way of keeping the game fun for myself while at the same time making sure that I'm still in a position to fulfill what I see as my obligation to be there to help when help is needed. Still, a combination of RL responsibilities has conspired to keep me out of EVE thus far today...but not for all that much longer.

No, things are changing, I think...perhaps just for some of the noober of the E-Uni noobs, or perhaps for a wider group of players than that. This is where I suspect a lot of pilots are finally beginning to understand the true level of difference between EVE and everything else out there. This is war, and war isn't always fact, it's usually pretty fucked up. "Ah,", but you say, "this isn't real war, it's EVE war and EVE war is supposed to be fun.". Absolutely true. Another absolute truth is that part of what makes this game engaging and immerssive for those of us who play it is it's depth. Any game this deep is going to have fast, exciting parts and slow, not so thrilling parts, just like RL does.

Again, it's easy for me to say all this while I'm not even actually in Korsiki at the moment but in Gallente space running missions, but I'd never be doing it with a well-placed jump clone and an acceptance of the risks involved. Since I did lose 3 ships to the Privateers, I know exactly what the risks are at this point and therefore was able to make an informed decision to clone jump out of lockdown.

I will admit to feeling just a little bit guilty about doing it...but not really all that much. I knew I could be back within minutes were I needed. I still can be. I will be.

Sigh...this war is just an annoyance. Feh.

Ok enough typing...for now.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Enough Is Enough...

...and that's where I am now.

Last night, I did it. I just couldn't take it anymore. I clone jumped out of Korsiki to where I'd parked my Myrmidon in Gallente space and ran my first Level 3 mission in a while. I know, I know...but the reality is that there was absolutely nothing going on at HQ. As was suggested by one of the more experienced E-Uni members while I was watching chat last night, I kept an eye on Local even in high-sec and just ran the mission as I normally would. You know what? In the process of doing that, I think I've discovered MENTL's one weakness.

As potent as they are as individual pilots (and they certainly are), they're not a very large group. They simply can't be everywhere. I came to this theory while checking the killboard and realizing that all of their kills in this war have happened in or close to Korsiki. The fact that seems to be escaping some is that while meeting up with one or more of these guys is probably almost certain death for the vast majority of noobs or perhaps even just pilots flying solo, the chances of having one find you outside of the area close to E-Uni HQ is not very high at all. Note that I did not say impossible. Anything is possible, especially in this game. However, given that they only have about twenty pilots in their corp and given that all of their E-Uni kills have been in Korsiki except for one which was in nearby Olo, the chance of running into one of these fuckers outside of the systems local to Korsiki is, in my opinion, highly unlikely.

So, I did it...I took yet another risk and clone jumped back to Gallente space for mission running. It's where I currently am, but by the time I'm able to go in-game for any length of time today the twenty-four hour time limit will have expired and I'll be able to respond to a call for E-Uni pilots for PvP or other ops within minutes. I' m already a bit over a million ISK richer than I was before I did it, but there's also one other important factor that I'd like to offer in the form of a friendly reminder to any E-Uni leader types who may be reading this:

It was fun...a hell of a lot of fun, as a matter of fact. I got to shoot up some NPC's in my shiny new tech2-fitted Myrmidon, made myself some ISK, and didn't see a war target during the entire time I was doing it...and believe me, I was watching. I really wasn't doing it because I need the ISK, even though more money in the wallet never hurts, I was doing it because it was the first real fun I've had playing this game in the last two days.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy hanging with my fellow E-Uni peeps and watching the discussion in corp chat, now and then even throwing in my own two cents, but the reality is that if that's all it is, it does start to get old after a while. I think perhaps our E-Uni leadership needs to remember that, and that if and when EVE stops being fun that's when players are going to tend to start rebelling and just doing whatever they want, regardless of the risks involved.

I hate to be one of those people who says "Do as I say, not as I do.", but the reality is that some common sense is definitely called for here. I can do this kind of thing and get away with it because I have a jump clone set in Gallente space where I keep my Myrmidon and one at HQ in Korsiki. Trying to do this while having to actually fly the distance between the two points would definitely come under the heading of "asking for it" and therefore is not something I'd recommend. If you're a noob and reading this, consider it an illustration of why training Informorph Psychology and having jump clones available when you need them is a very, very, good thing to do, perhaps even while you're locked down in Korsiki.

For now, it's really not an issue. I have a full day ahead in RL, so I doubt I'll be doing more than just briefly jumping in-game to check for new EVE-mails until late today. At that point, I'll decide what my next move is.


Friday, May 18, 2007


Basically there are just a few choices available: Members of E-Uni are currently under orders not to undock. One way to avoid this is to join TDROPS, the other is to go play on the test server. Not a great variety of alternatives.

It's understandable. One look at the killboard and you know why...these MENTL guys are having us for lunch. They've taken out sixteen of our ships and we've taken out exactly one of theirs. It's not surprising our commanders have ordered a seems that just about any encounter with these guys is going to ends up with a significant number of E-Uni ships blown up, so our commanders are simply waiting this out. Probably the most sensible strategy at this point, even if not the most fun to deal with.

I just wish there was something to do, because TDROPS is looking better and better right now, but in all honesty, I really don't wanna do that again this that I've had at least some PvP training, it would feel like bailing out. Add to that the fact that I don't have the moral high horse to get on I did last time, and I'm really having a hard time rationalizing a move to TDROPS.

If only it wasn't so damn boring.


Look, I'm trying, ok? Really, I am. I just didn't think war was supposed to be this boring. Logged in a bit earlier and couldn't even find out if there was an op planned. I'm now considering just saying the heck with it and joining TDROPS for the duration of the war, or, alternatively, just jumping back to Gallente space for some mission running. Anything that lets me get back to actually playing EVE.

Yeah, I suppose I'll log in again in a little while and see if anything's going on. If there is, great, if not...well, I've got stuff to do, anyway. I've been asked to write a couple of is finished, the other I've had to throw away my original idea for and I've yet to settle on an alternative I'm happy with. Perhaps this "war" lull will allow me the time to sit back and focus on what I want to write about and then write it up. I can't argue that it's certainly allowed me the time to write this post. Of course, "allow" probably isn't the right term. There's no requirement that I play EVE as much as I do, only my own interest and desire...and of course, when my interest level wanes due to lack of anything diverting to do in-game, I immediately start seeking substitutes.

In EVE, of course, war is a temporary condition at best. I'd expect that when this week's wardec expires so will MENTL's interest in continuing to fight us. I'm looking forward to that day, anxiously.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

This War Is A Pain In The Ass...

...I mean really, it wouldn't be so bad if there were actually something to do, something to shoot, something...this though, this is just boring.

Waiting always is. The problem is that that's all the Uni seems to be doing, waiting. I guess one thing you can say about the Privateers is that at least there were some of them out there. I've actually seriously contemplated getting back into TDROPS again just so I can go back to doing something in-game besides listening to the conversation on Teamspeak.

I suppose I shouldn't complain. I was quick enough to bitch up a storm when the Privateers wardecced us over and over, but mainly my problem with them was their tactics and the cowardly way they went after ships already crippled from previous battles. It just seems to me that there should be a certain amount of honor among enemies, especially in a game like EVE, and that the Privateers, for the most part, just don't seem to have any. The Privs just offend my sense of honor and fair play, and it's because of that, more than anything else, that I refused to risk my ships or waste my time in battle against them. The corp that's wardecced us now, Mentally Unstable Enterprises, I really have no opinion of as yet, positive or negative, other than that by wardeccing a corp with as many more members then they have as we do, they certainly do live up to their name.

So, I'm more than happy to fight them, I just wish there were more of them to fight.


Here We Go Again...

...but not quite as big a problem as before.

Once again, Eve University has been wardecced. This time however, not only am I not refusing to fight, I'm looking forward to it.

It's actually kind of ridiculous. This corp with something like 21 members has wardecced us, so they're going up against a corp of something like, I don't know, maybe 100 times that number? I mean, how utterly stupid is this? Basically, I don't see this as war as much as potential sport, and that's just fine with me.

So what I did earlier today was do my first clone jump to Khanid Kingdom from Gallente space. I then flew a Velator back to where I'd parked my Thorax and flew that to Korsiki. So now I have my medical clone and my Thorax in Korsiki, my jump clone and my Myrmidon in Gallente space (now all fitted out and insured for missions), and three PvP-fitted frigs in Nonni. I'm also now registered on the E-Uni Teamspeak server as well.

Now, I'm all set up for just about anything. I've still got a nice chunk of change left over from fitting the Myrmidon because I decided to sell off a couple of beta implants and rake in about ten million. So I'm really in no rush to go back to running missions, I'm exactly where I need to be in order to available for ops and such, and should it be needed, the Myrmidon is just a clone jump and then about 20 jump gates away. Not bad for a few hours time spent in game today.

Funny, I feel completely different than I did when last we were wardecced. I mean, I know perfectly well that there's a fair chance that I'll get podded sooner or later during this war as I plan to be on the front lines this time around, but I also know that it's also possible that I'll be the one doing the podding this time. I kinda have that "Oh yeah? Bring it on!" sort of attitude now. I guess that can be a good thing as it gets me into the fray, but I have to be careful that it doesn't make me cocky or sloppy. I'm not prepared to risk my brand-new Myrmidon in this war, but I have made the decision to offer up my Thorax in defense of E-Uni as needed. It's the very least I can do for this corp, and I'm more than willing to do it. If that's not enough, I'm also happy to jump into one or more of my PvP fitted frigs I set up for the AU class and fly those into battle as well.

By the time I log in tomorrow, hostilities will have officially begun. Should be interesting, to say the least.

Stay tuned.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

New Horizons...

...and plenty of 'em.

I just got back to the staging system after my Agony Unleashed Basic PvP class a little while as I write this. Not only did I learn a lot, but I also had a hell of a lot of fun. I've now had, as our instructor put it, my 0.0 cherry popped. Our class didn't get to see a heck of a lot of PvP but we did have some and it was a lot of fun. One thing that wasn't very fun was the amount of lag I had to deal with. We had about thirty or so ships in our group and things like gang warping and similar stuff often slowed my screen to a crawl or worse at some points.

Even so, I'm a lot more confident as a pilot in general now that I know what I learned today, and I also know that a lot of what I learned will be applicable in any group or combat situation in EVE regardless of whether it's in 0.0 or not. Cool beans. Another nice thing about this class is that I can retake it free of charge whenever I like, and I'm sure I'll be doing exactly that sometime soon. Not only did I have a blast, but I also want to practice what I've learned. I could even have stayed later as many in the class continued with the instructor to look for more PvP, but a few quick but critical RL responsibilities demanded that I quit when the group was convenient to high-sec so I could go deal with them. Truth be told, I'd have loved to have rejoined them afterward, but I think I've had plenty for today.

A great bunch of guys, these AU folks. In all honesty, I'm not sure I'd want to formally join their corp as they are pure PvP'ers and right now, at least, I'm looking for a more well-rounded EVE education. Next, I expect I'll be looking to EVE University for classes on both the finer points of PvP and on other aspects of the game. Then again, who knows? Perhaps after I've had more experience and have a better idea of exactly how I want to play this game over the long haul, I might decide to apply to AU after all. One thing's for sure: If my experience today is any guide, I'm quite certain they'd be just a great a group both in terms of skill level and on a personal level to play EVE with as the E-Uni folks are. Given my experience with E-Uni, that's the highest compliment I can pay any player or group of players in this game.

I think what I'm going to do for now is just leave all three of the frigs I set up for this class right where they are. Since I know I'll be doing this class again sometime soon, it makes no sense to use them for other purposes other than perhaps in emergency situations. Also, since they're only about 11 jumps or so from E-Uni HQ they're handy enough should I need to jump in one to lend a hand on an op or something.

Another fun thing: While waiting for the class to start, I was trying to sell a few things I'd brought with me from Gallente space that should fetch a good price but no one was interested in there. While doing that, I managed to sell four units of Quafe Ultra Special Edition for a cool three million...a nice and very needed boost to the wallet, which had been depleted by my Myrmidon purchase.

And now, my thoughts fly toward the future. I expect I'll spend some more time, more than likely just a few more days at most, fitting and insuring my Myrmidon and building my wallet back up a bit. Once that's done, I'm going to be changing my base of operations to Korsiki and jumping back to Gallente space when I need to make some ISK quickly. When I'm ok in that department, I expect I'll be spending a lot of my in-game time with E-Uni, taking classes and participating in ops and events, and also beginning to build my standings in that area. As I've literally just begun learning Caldari ships, I definitely have a long way to go in that regard, but that's fine. I'm moving out there because I want to learn more, and that's going to take time.

Now that I've had my first taste of both true PvP and 0.0, neither are quite as scary as they were before. I may not yet really have a handle on exactly where I want to go in this game as yet, but I do think I've found some important signposts leading me in the right direction, toward new horizons, new battles, new challenges, and new experiences.

It just keeps getting better and better.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Pew-Pew Deja Vu?

So, I did, I bought myself another Myrmidon. It's not in space just yet. I got it at an excellent price, about 10 million ISK cheaper than the last one I bought. I saw it for about 34.5 million and jumped on it. I don't yet have enough to finish fitting and insuring it completely as yet, but I'm working on it.

It's interesting how I seem to have become a true expert when it comes to doing Level 2 missions in my Thorax. Even the formerly unbeatable "Blockade" mission is now merely time-consuming, but also highly lucrative. I zip through these quickly now, and I plan to continue doing so for a while, at least until I get the Myrmidon in space.

I've also made my decision as far as moving. I'm going to do it, soon, but probably not immediately or completely right away. Since I'm well above the standing I need to set a jump clone with the Federation Navy, I'll probably move my main clone to Caldari space, set a second jump clone in Gallente space (my first is in Khanid Kingdom...nice to have, but currently useless), and have the best of both worlds...or both regions, anyway: I'll be able to take advantage of being local to EVE-Uni HQ and I'll be able to jump back to Gallente space to earn myself some ISK when I need to. Of course, all this will take place after tomorrow's class. I'll be flying myself out to the staging system for that either later tonight or early tomorrow. I've got actual RL plans tonight (yes, I do have something approaching an offline life...sometimes), so it'll all depend on how late I'm out and in what condition I find myself once I get home. It is, after all, Friday night.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Moderation Vs. Censorship

In the four months I've been playing EVE, this is about the saddest thing I've ever seen:

An excellent discussion thread about the possibility of having a regular "State of the EVE Universe" statement locked for being necromancy. Perhaps, had it A) not been interesting or relevant (in my opinion, it was and is both) or B) been old enough as to be no longer in concert with current reality, I could see it, but neither was the case here. In fact, the last post in the thread before the latest ones was just a mere five weeks old.

How very sad...but then, unnecessary censorship always is. This is what happens when you place power in the hands of too many increases the chances that someone is going to use that power simply because they can.

In my opinion, that's clearly the case here. There was just no valid reason to lock this thread. The discussion was good and positive, the topic fresh and relevant. Speaking as both a present and former forum moderator, if I ever tried to do something like this on the forums I've had mod status on for a reason this lame I'd have had my head handed to me and rightly so.

The purpose of any discussion forum, the sole purpose, should be to foster and facilitate quality discussion about the topic or set of topics the forum is designed to cover. If the discussion taking place is an interesting and productive one, there's no reason why chronological time should have any bearing on it at all. There are plenty of good reasons to lock a thread, not the least of which is the quality level of the discussion. Simply being a few weeks old just isn't one of them. It is at precisely this point that such an act is no longer that of a moderator and becomes that of a censor.

If that's what CCP wants on their forums, that's's their forum. However if that's the case, then they should be up front about that. Let them call these folks what they are, censors, not moderators, and be honest about the kind of sanitized content they want there. That way, those who prefer a less restrictive discussion environment will know up front that they need to look elsewhere for it.

Personally, I'm very disappointed. I was actually considering applying to ISD to become a moderator, but I've now reconsidered because I refuse to be a censor. I've got far better things to do with my time than look for ways to prevent my fellow pilots from talking freely, openly, and honestly about this game we all love.

I'm sure I'll continue to drop by to read announcements and such, but I doubt I'll be wasting my time composing posts there anymore. Frankly, it just seems pointless now. Anything I have to say I'll say here, unmoderated and uncensored, or in the relevant unofficial forums.

What a pity that a game that's as open to unconventional play and variety of playing style as EVE suffers under such antiquated and restrictive policies on their discussion forums.

How very sad indeed...

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

You Know You're An Eve Addict When... spend the first part of your 45th birthday on a 60-jump excursion to Khanid Kingdom to set a jump clone. Yep, that's exactly what I did earlier, and it gave me reason to pause, reflect, and maybe, just maybe, evolve a bit as a player.

It occurred to me as I was flying my way out across Gallente, Caldari, and, for the first time, Amarr space to set this jump clone that in just the last week I've reached a few milestones in this game:

1. I've now been to every major empire at least once, as well as Khanid Kingdom.

2. I've been on my first fleet op, which was also my first time playing EVE in concert with other players.

3. I've set my first jump clone.

4. I finally beat that goddam "Blockade" mission for the first time.

5. I've been within two jumps of 0.0 space.

On the way back to Gallente space, I did something that's been pretty out of character for me thus far in this game. Checking my map, I realized that I could save myself nine jumps if I went through five low-sec systems near the end of my trip. Three of these systems I'd already visited on missions, but two I hadn't...and the map indicated that one of those new systems had had five ships destroyed in it during the previous hour. I had to make a decision on which route to take before I started the trip. I decided to go for it.

I knew that even if I did get my Thorax destroyed and/or myself podded, I could afford to replace it. Therefore, I figured that with reasonable precautions and a cargo hold filled with plenty of ammo it was a risk worth taking. Funny thing is, I needn't have worried.

When I reached the gate to the first low-sec system, one of the ones I'd never been to, I set my chat window to Local and jumped into...nothing. There was only one other pilot in the system, one who was apparently neutral to me. I flew to the next gate, jumped into the other low-sec system I'd never been to...and again, nothing. I was the only one there. Jump, jump, jump, and I was back in Gallente high-sec. Big fucking deal.

Of course, it certainly could have been different, but it wasn't. I took a risk and it paid off. Chances are, I'll probably take more in the future. The truth is, though, I took the risk because I knew I could afford the worst possible result. I was, in fact, flying something I could afford to lose, so I took the risk. Would I have done it had I been flying a Myrmidon or Brutix instead of a Thorax? In all honesty, I don't know. Would I do it now? Maybe, maybe not, but I'd probably consider it a lot more seriously that I would have before this morning's excursion.

So, while it may be at a slower pace than some, I'm definitely making progress in EVE, in assets, in experience, in skills, and in courage. My perception of this game and my place in it is changing rapidly, seemingly almost every time I log in. The AU PvP class on Saturday will be another milestone, one I suspect will lead to even more changes in how I play this game.

All of this points up to me, yet again, how different this game is from any other I've ever played, and why I enjoy it as much as I do. It's been called a "sandbox" in terms of the way it's structured. I suppose that's accurate in some ways, but it's also so much more. Never in my gaming career have the risks been so high, the rewards so great, the learning curve so high, the content so engrossing, or the experience so satisfying. It's for all these reasons and more that I celebrate my own birthday, just days after the game's own, by playing EVE.

Damn, I just love this game.

Monday, May 7, 2007

The Wide Open Spaces Of Eve...

...seem just a little wider and a little more open today.

Last night, I flew my first fleet op in EVE, as part of a freighter escort for an EVE University transport. We saw no combat at all, flying all the way to and from our destination deep in an area of empire space I'd never been to before. I never fired a shot, and yet, it was one of the most enjoyable experiences I've ever had in this game.

The call went out mid-evening for combat pilots who wanted to participate in an op. Normally, I don't respond to these things. As I'm based in Gallente space for now, by the time I'd get to E-UNI HQ in Korsiki, usually anywhere from a 20 to 25 jump trip, where these things generally start from, they'd be long gone. This time, I just happened to be already halfway there, so I flew directly to the staging system for my Agony Unleashed class this Saturday which happened to be nearby, dropped off my Thorax, jumped in one of my PvP-fitted Tristans and headed for Korsiki.

When I was almost there, I realized that I hadn't yet installed Teamspeak. I'd used Ventrilo when I tried to attend the last AU class, but I hadn't had a reason to install TS...until then. So, upon my arrival in Korsiki, I immediately docked, logged out, installed TS and quickly logged back in. I thought I was going to be too late, but fortunately I discovered that I wasn't the only participant in this op who needed a few minutes to get ready for it. As it turned out, I wasn't even the last pilot to signal my readiness to go.

In all honesty, I had really no clue what the hell I was doing or what the op was about. It was my very first time flying as part of a fleet, and I'm sure it showed. Fortunately, the E-UNI instructors are very good at what they do, not only technically but also as teachers of noobs. We flew under the command of E-UNI Fleet Admiral Silentbrick, and for me, this was a truly unique experience.

I was literally learning as we went along...I do think I need a lot more practice in getting myself aligned in preparation for gang warping, but all in all, I think I did pretty damn well considering I hadn't had a lick of instruction in how to fly as part of a fleet before I actually did it. From my own perspective on this op, the best thing I can say about it and the pilots I flew with is that next time I'm asked to help provide an escort I'll have a much better idea of what I'm doing, why I'm doing it, and how to best perform my own part in it...and, not inconsequentially, I had a hell of a lot of fun doing it. Not only all that, but it didn't even cost me a ship to do it, which I fully expected it to. Not too shabby.

Just as importantly, flying this op illustrated for me where some of the gaps in my knowledge are, what I need to research, work on, maybe even take a class in. While I've decided against taking any "official" E-UNI classes until I do the AU Basic PvP class this Saturday, at the same time I'm also planning to spend some of my time doing some research. Among the things I'm going to be spending some time on is becoming more familiar and adept with both Teamspeak and Ventrilo.

I've actually had a bit of minor previous experience with Vent, having investigated the possibility of using it to connect my producer and I during my radio show. It didn't work for that purpose (the delay was just too much to use for talk radio), but at least I knew how to connect to a server, activate my mic, and other basic functions. I'd never used TS before last night, and while I did manage to log in and was able hear Silentbrick and others give commands to the fleet, I still have some reading to do on the finer points of using this program.

In addition, I've also come to realize that I thought I understood how jump clones work but I clearly don't have a clue. That's an E-UNI class I'd have taken if I'd known about it before it was held. That one's totally my fault. They scheduled it, they announced it on the forums, and I missed it because I didn't check the Ivy League forums in time. Bad Bekka...not a mistake I'll be making again, though. While I wait for that class to be offered again, however, I'll definitely be doing some research in that area as well.

So, an E-UNI op that might have been pretty mundane for more experienced pilots was one of the single best learning experiences I've ever had in this game so far, and it's got me thinking. If I hadn't been within reasonable distance of E-UNI HQ when the call went out, I'd have missed it. I've often heard it suggested that in order to get maximum benefit from E-UNI and what it offers, it's best to be based within close distance to E-UNI HQ in Korsiki.

I've toyed with the idea of moving out there, deep into Caldari space, but so far have resisted the idea since I know that because I've been making my ISK running missions, as opposed to mining which can be done almost anywhere, chances are I'd have to start essentially from scratch again, working my way back up through the levels to get to where I already am in Gallente space. That's really where the decision I have to make is focused: While there are significant benefits to doing it, there's definitely a price to be paid for such a I want to pay it, and, assuming I do, do I want to pay it sooner rather than later?

On the other hand, an interesting thing I discovered last night is that there are many ultra-low-level agents scattered about that will offer me missions out there. Sure, I'd have to seek them out, but now I at least know they're out there. I'm also quite sure I could depend on some of my fellow pilots for help in locating these agents and getting started on this, perhaps without setting myself almost completely back to Day One as a mission runner.

In reality, while I do enjoy running missions, I want to do more, I want variety, and I'm not getting it doing what I do now. I want to spend more time in low-sec, I want to see 0.0, I want to see the Eve Gate, I want to be and do more, and start to really experience the aspects of this game I haven't short, I want more from EVE than I'm getting right now and I'm less and less convinced that can happen on the path I'm currently on.

I've resolved that I'm not going to make a decision on this until after Saturday's class at minimum. I do need to build my nestegg a bit so I'm going to spend the rest of my in-game time this week doing that in Gallente space, where I can earn the most ISK right now. After that, all options are on the table.

All thoughts on this are most welcome...more than ever, this is a question that I need to answer, and soon.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Four Years Is A Long Time...

...a heck of a lot longer than I've been playing EVE, that's for sure. Four years ago, I don't think I even knew what an MMOG was, much less that I might be interested in playing one.

It's funny how, looking back now, my concept of video games was so different. I was still in the mindset that such a game had a beginning, a middle, and an end, much like an interactive book or movie that allows the player to participate in, but not dictate, what happens next. I played things like sports sims, games based on movies like Spider-Man, LOTR, and Star Trek (yes, I admit it, dyed in the wool Trekkie here), and silly little games like solitaire and online poker.

Really, it was Everquest which changed my perception of what a video game could be. I was (and still am) extremely interactive online in other aspects of my life, so discovering a game that combined these two things was quite a find for me. In addition, the idea of a game that didn't really end, even though EQ did have content that one played through before moving on, was also quite new to me.

I lasted about six months with Everquest, but grew tired of it after a while. In all honesty, it was a few things that led to my losing interest and eventually canceling my account:

1. Grind, grind, at first, boring later. Once I'd reached a point where I had to keep repeating the same content over and over in order to accomplish certain goals, I'd also reached the point where I started becoming disenchanted with EQ as a game in general.

2. The people. Some were terrific folks, others, not so much. I discovered that I dislike playing with children...or, at least, those who act like children. While that's certainly something likely to be found in most MMOG's, some apparently have it worse than others. Eventually, I just got tired of playing with people who acted like it was middle school recess in the schoolyard.

3. The content. Sure, much of it was interesting, but I've never been that big a fan of a medieval swords and sorcery kind of theme, and this game was clearly Dungeons and Dragons brought to life in video. Fun for a while, but only for a while.

4. The price. Just too damn expensive. Not only do these people bang you for a monthly fee, but they make you pay again every time they create a new content expansion for the game. After paying for two expansions over the six months I played, I just refused to shell out any more money, and it bothered me that despite all the money I'd paid into this game, I still didn't have access to all of it. While that may be standard operating procedure for most of these games, to me it just felt like a ripoff.

5. The game in concept as a whole. It just always seemed to me that there were parts of the game I'd never see without years of preparation and literally hundreds of friends to help me get there. It really seemed like there was a distinct line between those who would have access to such content and those who'd never see it regardless of how well they personally did in the game as individual players. You can guess, I'm sure, which group I felt myself to belong to. I just couldn't realistically see myself investing the hours necessary to reach that point, and even if I did, there was no guarantee that I'd be able to join a guild that would be capable of taking it on.

The first time I tried EVE, just before I signed up for EQ, I really wasn't all that impressed with many aspects of it. While I loved the concept and the theme, it just seemed like it was too hard to progress, too easy to die, and too hard to recover once you did die. I signed up for the free trial, but only lasted about a week before I became frustrated with it, seemingly just getting blown away by gatecampers over and over be honest, after a week of this it just wasn't lot of fun. Still, there were certain aspects to EVE that I absolutely loved, if only...

So, I signed up and did my six months with EQ. I really don't regret it because the experience helped me to understand what I like and don't like about MMOG's, what's important to me as a player, what isn't, and what I wanted more of, enough that I was willing to pay for it.

I know myself well enough to know exactly the point when I determined for certain that my time as an EQ player was coming to an end. It was right after EQ released yet another expansion to great fanfare, and I realized I just couldn't afford to buy another one. I resolved to play what I had, that the original game plus two paid expansions should be plenty to keep me occupied for at least a while. The problem was that all roads seemed to lead to this new expansion and the new gameplay features that came with it. The marketing push was quite heavy and I found myself resenting it. By the time my next monthly EQ payment became due, I'd already decided I was done with the game and was actively looking for something else to play.

I didn't come back to EVE right away. Instead I played dumb but fairly fun little games like solitaire, poker, and even a sword and sorcery Java thing called Adventure Quest for a few months. None of the other MMOG's I checked out fired my interest enough to bother even trying them. I found myself purchasing games like "Rise of Nations", "Civilization", and "Runaway", but none of these held my interest long. And then, one day, I was leafing through a video game magazine and saw an ad for EVE.

It was like the proverbial light bulb winked on. I remembered how I'd loved the concept, the graphics, and the gameplay, but kept getting my ass kicked. I also remembered that I'd made some colossally huge mistakes during my first time playing and that, thanks to major fines levied by CONCORD for transporting contraband, my original character was several million ISK in the hole. I decided that the best way to try EVE again would be to do the free trial again with a brand-new character and just completely start over from scratch.

In all honesty, I was still wary. Remembering my first experience, I expected to be blown away with regularity again, but I figured that since I knew it was likely to happen perhaps I could at least prevent it from happening as frequently. The first thing I decided to do, before I even signed up and created a character, was read...everything. I read the entire 300+ page collected backstory, then the entire player guide. I went to the forums and read plenty there as well, especially the stuff intended for new players, where I discovered Eve University. Armed with all this mostly new knowledge, I then signed up for the free trial and created a new character.

I noticed the difference right away. The gatecampers were gone. I discovered that this was probably due to the introduction of "Warp to 0", which had been one of the many improvements implemented while I was gone. After screwing around for a few days, mainly just checking things out and watching the conversation in the "Rookie" chat, I decided to join E-Uni and get started on really getting good at playing this game. I've never looked back since.

It's been around four months now, and I've never regretted my decision to sign up for an entire year after only a couple of weeks of playing. Sure, I've had issues with certain corps (one in particular ;)) and their play styles, but never with being a player of this game. It's been tough, even frustrating at times, but never boring and always fun. Unlike EQ, I've never not wanted more.

That's really the best thing about EVE, the thing I tell people when they ask me why I play this game. It always keeps me interested, engaged, and wanting more. When you think about it, that's really the best compliment you can pay to any entertainment media: It keeps you wanting more.

And speaking of wanting more, it's time to go change my skill training and maybe take on a few more missions...

Happy 4th birthday, EVE.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Ramping Up...'s actually getting easier.

Using some of the techniques I've learned in the reading for the Agony Unleashed Basic PvP Class, I've significantly increased speed and the number of the NPC mission ships I've been taking out. Of course, not all of these methods translate as effectively to PvE as they do to PvP, but many do and I've definitely noticed a difference. I've still got well over a week before my class, but I have a feeling (read: hope) that I'll be back to flying a battlecruiser and Level 3 missions before then.

Also, in a few hours, I'll finish training Medium Hybrid Turret V. This is a good thing as it not only gives me a little more advantage in combat just in general but also opens other skills I've wanted to train, such as those that will enable me to use Advanced ammo.

Right now, though, I will admit that I'm having a lot more fun flying Level 2 missions in a Thorax again than I expected to, even though I am looking forward to getting back to where I was a few weeks ago. I guess it's always more fun when you kick more ass and I seem to be doing that more and more all the time now. It just seems to be getting more and more fun to play this game.