Thursday, July 29, 2010

A Short Semi-Respite

We had a new and unexpected addition to the household yesterday, a little silver and black kitten I’ve named Jasmine, or Jazz for short. As you might imagine, the last twenty-four hours since she’s arrived have been a little busy, without much, if any, time for EVE. She’s becoming quite skilled at locating a comfortable spot on my lap and settling in while I’m at the computer, so I expect I’ll have a co-pilot on many of my upcoming explorations.

One interesting thing I did discover when I finished my last skill training and went looking for something useful to train was that I had one glaring omission from my curriculum from the last time around: Advanced Drone Interfacing.

Talk about a game-changer. Most of the damage I do to NPC’s is from my drones, but until the other day I could only field three Ogre II’s at a time despite being able to carry six in the Myrm’s drone bay. Eve-Mon tells me that Level 3 will finish training about 2pm tomorrow (eastern US time of course, says the Jersey girl), and once that happens I’ll be able to launch a full bay of Ogre II’s at my enemies. No doubt I’ll be having some serious fun with that ability.

Oh, and there is one other reason I haven’t spent any real time in EVE over the last couple of days. STO just got a major update so I’ve been spending a little time in there checking it out. Actually, I’ve probably spent more time with STO in the last day or so than in the last month or two before it, but that’s not an especially high hurdle. I will say that the solo mission I did was a lot of fun and I’m sure I’ll do more. At the same time, it’s a good thing that I have a lifetime sub to STO because now that I’m back in EVE I’m not sure I’d be willing to keep paying for STO over the long haul, at least not as the game has been since launch. There are supposedly big changes coming soon, so as a lifer I’m willing to see what’s just arrived and what’s coming soon before I make any final judgments. At this point, there’s really no reason not to.

In all honesty, I need a little break from EVE every now and then anyway. Both the skill training and STO’s update, not to my mention my new feline friend, are perfect excuses to take a day or two off. I want to keep it fresh and interesting and one good way to do that is to mix it up at least a little.

Til next time, fly safe.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

A Bizarre Expedition and a Visit To Lagland

Last night, a comment on my last post clued me in to why I couldn’t warp to the Gurista hideout I’d found. I had indeed been offered an expedition in my journal. By the time I saw it, though, there were only about seven hours left to get it done so I wasted no time moving both my ships along with all my exploration mods and ammo to the system my journal indicated.

When I got there, I went in with the Thorax and found plenty of enemies, and quickly realized I was overmatched. I warped out, went beck to my staging station, and came back with the Myrm, but when I did all of the enemies took off. Gone. Poof. All that time spent moving everything over and suddenly there was nothing to do there.

As luck would have it, though, I found myself with all my stuff in an area I hadn’t explored yet, so I’ve decided to make that system my new temporary base of operations while I check out the local systems. Those that I’ve checked out so far have yielded about a million ISK in cargo and salvage, but nothing especially great in terms of profits.

And maybe it’s because it’s a Sunday, but when I warped to many of the cosmic signatures I scanned down today I’d discovered that someone had beat me to it.

I also did something today that I probably haven’t done in about two and a half years, and for the very first time because I had an actual reason to do it, not just to go be a space tourist. Reviewing the loadout on my Myrm I realized that some of the drones I was using with it were really far beneath the level it was capable of handling. So, I unloaded a bunch of Hobgoblins and Hammerheads and realized I only had two Ogre II’s, which are my favorites to use with the Myrm.

I have to admit I laughed a little when I went to the Market screen to buy five more Ogre II’s and found that the best local price, by at least 50%, was in Jita. I’d been to Jita all of once in my EVE career, very early on when I’d just made a trek out there just to see what the heck was so special about the system that everyone seemed to talk about it constantly. As I remembered, it was entirely unremarkable, other than that there were well over a thousand people in Local and the lag getting in and out of the system was by far the worst I’ve ever experienced in this game. Since that was almost three years ago, I hoped that by now it would be better. I bought my Ogres and set off for Jita.

I didn’t really notice any problems until I got one jump outside of Jita. First, as soon as I arrived it was pretty obvious that just about every ship in the system was headed in the same direction, toward the gate to Jita. When I got to the gate, there was fortunately no waiting line to jump in like there was the last time I was there, but the lag was definitely noticeable.

Once in the system, I docked and picked up my Ogres without much trouble, scanned through the offers in Local just to see if there was anything interesting, and then headed back to the gate to get back where I was exploring. When I clicked the button to jump out though, I didn’t go anywhere for several seconds, and then the screen went black and stayed that way. After nearly a minute, the phone rang and I stepped out of the room for a few minutes. When I returned, I found myself on the other side of the gate and headed back toward my staging system.

Y’know, maybe it’s just me, but I seem to remember CCP swearing up and down a while back that they were going to do something about the lag in Jita. Certainly, I have to say it’s better than the last time I was there, but by no means is it what could be called good. A black screen for well over a minute at minimum just to exit the system doesn’t indicate to me that CCP has finally got a handle on this issue.

Now, to be honest, I haven’t really given a shit one way or the other since I’ve only been there twice and I’ll probably never go back unless I have a really good reason like I did today, but nevertheless it would be nice if CCP could figure out a way to deal with the issue and make the trip a nicer and faster one for everyone who has to go there.

Gettin’ Experienced…

…but slowly, so very, very, slowly.

It may be just that it’s been a busy Saturday on TQ. Today it seemed especially hard to track down cosmic signatures, though I did run across and scan down my first magnometric signature. Big frakking deal. A few thousand worth of salvage for all the time it took to scan it down. Feh.

I’ve never been especially big on mining, so when I’ve scanned down a signature far enough to discover it’s gravimetric I give up on it and move on. At the same time, though, I know there’s a lot of ISK to be made at those sites so I’m reconsidering that. I dunno…I know there’s ISK to be made there, but boredom is also a factor.

Right now, I’m just playing “High-Sec Hit and Miss”, which is to say that basically I’m just picking a direction toward systems I’ve never been to or haven’t been to in a while and heading out to see what I can find. Most of the time this method seems to work pretty well and I find at least enough stuff to keep me interested and engaged, with a decent payout at the end. Today, not so much, but it’s really the first time since I came back to EVE and started exploring that I haven’t been happy with my daily take.

Another thing I ran into for the first time today was a signature that didn’t indicate a type once I’d scanned it down to 100%. Following this led me to an acceleration gate that sent me to a second room with a few enemies and another gate. I took out the enemies, gathered the few paltry items from the wrecks, then hit the next gate. This room had several more enemies, and during the battle I was notified that three Guristas had fled but my ship’s computer had determined their most likely hiding spot in case I wanted to go chase them. After I’d dealt with the room, I attempted to pursue, but was notified that natural phenomena prevented me from warping there. Interestingly, this did not prevent me from warping elsewhere. Quite bizarre, and not really worth the time and effort invested. Oh well.

So, I think I’m gonna go check out another system or two or three or…before bed.

Til next time, fly safe.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Thorax Flies Again

Sometimes, I think I’m too damned creative for my own good.

Tonight, I was scanning down a radar site that was a little tougher than than most so I thought it would help if I added a couple of extra probes to the five I already had out there. It helped a little at first, but the reality was that it made it a lot harder to keep the rest of the probes aligned. After a while, I got rid of the two extras and went back to a five-probe scan pattern. Once I did that I was able to scan it down in just a couple of tries. There are times when simpler really is better.

Before I found this little three million ISK treasure trove, though, I’d done another run through my assets and discovered that I own not one, but three Thoraxes. Since two of them are out in 0.0 where I’ll almost certainly never see them again, I decided to go get the one I had in high-sec, just a quick thirteen jumps from where I was.

I flew the Magnate out there, stripped it down, threw the parts in the Thorax’s cargo hold and headed back to where I’ve been exploring. Once back at my current staging station, I refitted one of the Thorax’s high slots with my Core Probe Launcher I, stuck a Codebreaker I in one of the mid slots, loaded up with ammo and probes, and off I went.

Once I’d successfully scanned down the radar site, I flew the Thorax in, took out the few guards there, and hacked and looted the containers and wrecks, all without having to go back and get the Myrm to finish the job. I like.

Hell of a way to make a living, but a lot easier than running missions, that’s for sure.

Friday, July 23, 2010


So today I went out and scanned down several more cosmic signatures, bookmarked some anomalies to go check out with the Myrm later, and found one radar site which brought me a few million in loot after I went in with the Myrm and took care of the NPCs. Not bad for an afternoon.

I’ve decided that I need to upgrade the ship I use to do my system-to-system exploring in. The Magnate I got for finishing the exploration course just ain’t cutting it and it’s not like I can’t afford it, so I think that’s going to be my next in-game project. Hmmm, I think I may just happen to have a spare Thorax lying around here somewhere…

Out of game, I realized the other day that I still haven’t read “The Burning Life” so I think I’m going to get that for my Kindle after I’m done with the Star Trek novel I’m reading now. Yes, when I jump back into this game, it’s generally with both feet.

And hey it’s nice to see CCP finally taking an interest in updating its fan site page. I like the idea of EVE Gate/Spacebook too. I used it to send a message to someone in-game the other night just to try it out and it seems to work pretty well. The one thing they’re going to have to be careful about is information control, who can see what, etc. I can see a real concern with EVE Gate being players wondering if their information is secure enough to have it in there and not have to worry if the right people are able to see it. Not everyone wants a site where anyone can go and see where they’re currently located and other vital information they may or may not want to share.

Oh yeah, and I when I went into that radar site, I found myself up against a pretty fair amount of Guristas but my Myrm handled them pretty easily. Damn, I love that thing.

It’s really amazing how easily it all comes back. I was a bit concerned that I’d forget to do something or massively screw up in some other way in combat and cost myself my battlecruiser, but no…at least, not yet. This site had by far the most enemies I’ve faced since coming back to the game, but I just fell into that rhythm you get into when you’re being attacked by NPCs. You know what I mean, that “…lock, lock, lock, lock, lock, approach, engage drones, orbit, engage, approach next target, lock new target, engage drones, orbit, engage, approach next target…” thing you get into when you don’t really have time to think or do anything other than keep up with the masses of incoming enemies.

The short version is I’m having a pretty good time with exploration so far, and its getting progressively better as I continue to train up the relevant skills. I don’t know how long I’ll be doing it for or how often in the future, but right now I’m having a blast so who knows?

Until next time, fly safe.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

This Ain't So Bad

I went out and did some more exploring today. Most of my attempts were pretty fruitless, except for one.

I managed to scan down a radar signature, but this time I remembered to bookmark it and then came back with my Myrm. I took out the couple of guards and then brought my Magnate back in to codebreak the containers and collect the loot. I scored about 15 million ISK for that little adventure, not too shabby.

I just can't escape it. I'm having a blast with EVE all over again. Earlier today I officially reactivated my account because I already know that whether I do it today or tomorrow, I'm gonna do it. One day, I'll learn.

In the meantime, I'm liking the income from exploration so far, and it's fun. I think I'm going to do a little more tonight. I'm enjoying it, but I clearly still need more practice before I can consider myself proficient.

See ya out there.

Space, The Final Frontier

A couple of nights ago, I finished the exploration career intro missions with my newly-created alt, but instead of taking her out for a spin, I decided to log in as Bekka Jae and see how feasible it would be to have her do the training as well.

Of course the last place I played as Bekka was out in the wilds of 0.0, and I quickly discovered that the corp I used to belong to had moved on and I was in what is now a hostile station. It was a slightly expensive if not difficult decision to leave all the ships and other stuff I had in that station behind to clone jump out of there and back into high-sec.

Once back in high-sec, I called up my Assets window and took a quick inventory. Aside from the realization that I'll probably never want for a Velator as I seem to have dozens of them scattered all over known space, I also discovered a few interesting things I had just lying around and gathering dust, such as a Tech II tricked out, combat and mission-ready Myrmidon. In all honesty, it had been so long since I'd used it that I'd forgotten I had it. I'd been running missions with it before I moved to 0.0 and I'd left it there, ready to fly, as a "just in case I need it one day" thing. Apparently, a smart move on my part.

As nice as it is to find myself in possession of a fully-fit and combat-ready battlecruiser, it's even better because it happens to fit perfectly with another decision I made the other night. Over the last couple of days, I completed the exploration career path missions with Bekka Jae. For some reason, even though Bekka is Gallente I was directed to an Amarr agent out in Kor-Azor and ended up flying a Tormentor (or "The Cosmic Shrimp" as I like to call it) to complete the missions.

Once I was done with that, I got my first refresher lesson in why you can't just go out there and play EVE like you do other games. I started scanning down cosmic signatures in systems near where my Myrm is, knowing that if I ran into something I couldn't handle in my Magnate, which I'd been given after completing the exploration course, I could always come back with the Myrm and (theoretically) deal with it. I did scan down and check out a few wormholes, but aside from one that lead to a system in the far reaches of Amarr space, all of these led to unclaimable void areas of 0.0. Since there was nothing in those places really worth investigating as far as I could tell, I'd jump back through after just a short time and move on.

Mainly, it was practice for what I want to do in EVE for a while, explore. Late last night, on my last scanning attempt before bed, I scanned down my first actual radar site. When I went in, I found pirates there and instinctively warped out immediately, knowing I had nothing on the ship I was in to defend myself with, but I forgot to bookmark the location before I left, nor did I take the time to see what kind of ships I was dealing with. Also, I realized that I hadn't yet installed a codebreaker so there was pretty much no way I'd get anything useful out of that site other than location and enemy force information until I did.

When I got back to my staging station, I bought what I needed and realized that I needed to train a prerequisite skill before even installing the codebreaker. I took the half hour to do this, then I went out signal hunting again. After successfully scanning down another wormhole that led to the void, I decided to pack it in for the night.

Exploration is hard and often frustrating, but it's also a lot of fun. I'll be jumping in a little later to do a little more. Should be interesting...

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Damn, That Was Fast

It happens every time.

Whenever I've gotten bored with the games I've been playing, I eventually end up dropping by the EVE website just to catch up a bit on what's going on with the game. I've made it a point to never stay very long, knowing that if I did I'd find myself nostalgic for an experience which real life just wouldn't allow me to take the time to enjoy. Still, I couldn't help dropping by now and when, just to keep semi-updated.

After a few of these occasional visits, one of those "Come Back..." emails inevitably arrives and I end up taking the offer. It's just for a quick look to see how the game's changed since I left, I tell myself each time I click on the link and reactivate my account once again, thereby rationalizing to myself the start of what I already know is coming. I download the client once again, knowing that there's only one possible way this will end.

Within an hour, maybe two at most, it's like I never left. It all comes back pretty easily, and after a while I find myself as immersed in this game as I've ever been. I've tried blogging about other games, but none of them have ever fired my interest as a player or writer like EVE has.

This blog has been in existence since early 2007, soon after I began playing for the first time, and I've kept it current during the times I've been a player. For me, blogging has become an integral part of the EVE experience, almost as much as actually playing the game. It's not a coincidence that I've already got two new blog posts up and I haven't even converted the five-day trial back into a full subscription yet.

One day I'll learn. This is my game. When one way of playing it isn't working, there are plenty of alternatives. I've decided it's time to explore another one, and I'll talk about that in my next post.

So yeah, I'm back. More to come.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

I'm Baaack...Sorta

So I got one of those "Come Back For Five Days Free" emails about a few weeks ago. Usually I just hit the delete key and move on, but this time I paused.

I left EvE back in January because there was just too much going on in my life to devote enough time to the game to make it worthwhile. I'd made it to 0.0 and then discovered that there really wasn't a whole lot to do out there for someone who had trouble making appointment gameplay sessions. To exacerbate matters, a few of my non-gaming-related articles had been picked up by major media at the same time, requiring me to devote virtually every free moment to capitalizing on that for several weeks.

I didn't want to give up MMO gaming, but I did want a game that fit into my life better and I thought I'd found it in Star Trek Online. I bought a lifetime subscription and spent the first couple of months completely engrossed in the game when I had the time for it. Most of the early content was soloable and many missions could be completed in just an hour or two. For that period of time, STO was pretty close to perfect in terms of fitting into my life, as I'd expected it would be. Then, things changed.

Once I maxed out my rank (level), it quickly became clear that most of the higher-end content was going to be a team-up affair. That wasn't necessarily a problem in and of itself, but when I tried grouping with players I didn't know to do missions in STO, I'd never manage to finish any of them because my teammates would always become bored or get a better offer and bail out on the mission long before the end, often leaving me alone to face fairly instantaneous death in the middle of an intense firefight I could not possibly win by myself.

When I wasn't being left alone to die it was because there weren't enough available players to form a team in the first place. During first several weeks of STO, the spaceways of Alpha Quadrant were pretty crowded and it was easy to find teammates, but those numbers seem to have decreased significantly in recent weeks and now when I go in there's rarely even half the apparent numbers of players on as there were during those first few heady weeks of the game.

Over the last couple of months, I've entered the game maybe a total of six or seven times, just to see what updates have brought or if there's any new soloable missions that might be worth trying. Each time, it's been same: Sparse numbers of players in the sectors and stations, often fruitlessly trying to create teams to take on multiplayer missions. After a few minutes of this, I get bored and start looking for something else to do.

And you know, that's really my core problem with Star Trek Online. I just don't care anymore, not in the way I did in those first few weeks. Even though I know that as a lifer I can play STO whenever I feel the urge as long as the game exists, I'm just not really all that motivated to play. And so, I've been looking for something new.

I've done single-player games. I finished Borderlands (but got screwed by D2D by ordering one of the DLC's which has faulty serial verification and can't be unlocked so no more of that) and I'm currently making my way through Far Cry 2.

I've tried other MMO's. I bought APB, which is a shitload of fun, but really just a glorified version of "Cops and Robbers". I'm sure I'll use up the 50 hours of game time that comes with the software purchase, but there's just not enough real meat there for me to see it as a long-term solution. I joined the beta of free-to-play LotRO, too. It's a decent enough game, but as I'm not a huge fan of the genre just in general there's really not a whole lot for me there long-term either. Add to that the annoying way these "free-to-play" games nickel-and-dime you to death in order to make money and I just don't see myself getting into LotRO enough to bother shelling out actual money or continue with it past the beta.

And then a few weeks ago, the "Come Back..." email from EvE showed up. I didn't do anything at the time, neither clicking on the link to reactivate my account nor deleting it. At that time, I still wasn't ready to consider returning to EvE, but I knew it would be smart to keep it open as an option so when a second email from CCP arrived about a week ago reminding me that it wasn't too late to reactivate for five days free, I saved that one too.

Last night, after I'd spent a few hours trying out LotRO and had come to the conclusion that it's just not what I'm looking for over the long haul, I remembered those CCP emails and dug out the most recent one. I didn't do anything right away, mind you, I just stared at it, wondering if I really wanted to insert myself back into a game that I'd already had to extract myself from twice because it proved to be too intense and time-consuming.

Things are different now, though. The wave of interest in my writing has ebbed for the moment, and while of course I hope that will change in time, that and the economy have conspired to provide me with substantially more free time now than I've had in a while. Much of that extra time is devoted to promoting my work and creating more of it, but I still find myself looking to fill some of that extra time with a game I can really sink my teeth into. For me, there's only one game that has really fit that bill in all of the time I've been an MMO player.

EvE is the only game that's managed to draw me in and keep me in over the long haul. Nothing else has even come close. It's the MMO I understand the best, even though there are aspects of the game which I really don't understand at all and probably never will. There's always something new for me in EvE, always something I've never tried or somewhere I've never been, and it matters to me in a way that other games never have. I'm willing to devote a level of time and attention to it that no other game has inspired me to.

In reference to the title above, whether I'm back to stay or just for a visit will depend on a lot of things, not the least of which is how my schedule plays out over the upcoming months. Also, I've decided that if I am going to re-enter EvE, I'm not going to make the same mistake I did last time. For me, war and battle is a lot of fun, but exploration is even more fun, and probably more consistent with my RL lifestyle. War is by it's nature a team event that must be coordinated and executed in concert with others, while many aspects of exploration can be done solo, even though in order to really profit from it will likely require a team effort to effectively plunder any riches you find if nothing else.

I've created a new alt and I've set her upon the exploration career path. This is really little more than an experiment at this point, just to see if I like it. So far I've yet to successfully scan down my first cosmic signature (though I have pegged a few anomalies), but I'll be jumping in later today to try again, after I do a little more research.

If I decide I do like exploration (and even if not), I'll then have some choices to make: Do I like it enough to resubscribe to EvE and try to get back into it long-term? Do I do this path with my newly-created character basically from scratch, or do I go retrieve my far more established and skilled Bekka Jae toon from 0.0 to take on this new venture?

On the one hand, I must admit I'm enjoying taking the beginner route again. I finished the tutorial last night, downloaded and set up EvEMon for the alt, and basically got her ready to go out there and take on New Eden (once she learns how to reliably scan down a cosmic signature, of course).

On the other hand, I'm also very much aware that I'd be giving up a lot by going with the new alt. I have literally over a year's worth of skill training invested in Bekka Jae as well as a fair amount of property and it seems a shame to willingly give all that up. It's also the toon name that's linked to this blog and I've enjoyed encountering people in-game who read and enjoy it and recognize me in-game. For me, that's part of the fun of blogging about EvE.

So, I guess we'll see. Obviously, I'm leaning toward returning but I think I'll take advantage of the full five days to think about it, and of course, to figure out how to position those damned probes correctly.

Until next time, fly safe.