Saturday, May 30, 2009

Eve Online: friendly pvp

Eve Online: friendly pvp, originally uploaded by seredwoollahra.

A few members of the Alien Ship Builders corporation gathered for a bit of friendly player versus player (pvp) fighting. Here, Calminer and Kallen Brack (foreground) go at it while we watch from a safe distance.

Disclaimer: no one was hurt during the making of this snapshot! More can be found at my Koinup page.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

New site for Alien Ship Builders

Our Eve Online corporation Alien Ship Builders (corp ticker: -ASB-) now has it's own website. We're still working on the content, but a nice start has been made! Visit our site here:

A year in space

It's been a little over a year since I signed up for the 14 day Eve Online trial (which is still available through the banner on the left), and it's a good moment to look back. What have I learned and achieved in the past year?

Eve Online is to me, in the end, more engaging than social worlds like Second Life. There are clear targets: goals to achieve, skills to train, ships to fly, missions to run, asteroids to mine, battles to be fought. There is just so much to do! And whenever you get bored by what you do now (mining, anyone?), just switch careers and become a mission runner, a pirate, an industrialist, a freighter.. Eve Online doesn't force strictly defined career paths down their players' throats. It's your future and your choice.

But it's a complicated universe: getting your character up to par, and getting a real appreciation of what Eve is, requires some time and effort. You can, as a very young player, already affect the course of things if you want to; you can fly big ships with powerful guns in short order, if you focus on that. But, usually it's best to invest a few months of broader skill training in a new character, in order to get the more advanced and useful skills; your in game experience will improve considerably.

As for achievements: I passed the 500 million ISK mark yesterday. Of course I could have been there some time ago, but I chose to invest in skills and ships instead. Still, it's a nice waypoint. I also fought and survived a few pvp engagements, did level 4 missions solo, participated in level 5 ones, been in a wormhole fighting sleepers, found another nice corp - and much more.

Still on my todo list: I have not been to 0.0 space. I live in high sec, empire space; incidentally I travel through 0.4 or 0.3, but that's about it. Lowsec doesn't appeal to me, and even though we have a friendly alliance in 0.0, I haven't made the trip yet, so that's one I'll have to tackle this year. Also still on the list, is training the skills for other races' battleships. I can fly all frigates, but as for cruisers and higher, it's only Gallente. This year I want to be able to fly other races' battleships as well. And: covert ops! Lots of skills to train for that one, but definitely worth it.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

CSM candidates: why I don't vote for you

Eve Online is developed and maintained by the Icelandic company CCP. For a while now they have had the CSM, the Council of Stellar Management: a council, comprised of democratically elected players, who represent the player base in discussions with CCP. Some say it's very effective and valuable; others say it's nothing of the kind. I don't really know, frankly, but I still vote as I think it's about the only way for me to add something to the discussion between CCP and us, the inhabitants of New Eden.

So, I'm about to vote for one of the candidates for CSM. But whom to vote for? There's forty candidates, and I don't know any of them.

So, before voting, I would like to know a bit about candidate. Who are they, what are their goals? First step: to their website or blog! Except, many of them don't have one. Even though the candidate page features a link to their website, and even though it takes - perhaps - five minutes to sign up for a free blog account somewhere, many of the candidates fail to list a website. Memo to candidates: I don't vote for you if I can't easily find who you are and what you're going to do for me once elected to the CSM.
Two of the candidates FAILed in a slightly different way. They created a website, but never updated it with content. Samples here and here. Tell me, why should I vote for someone who can't even manage to update their website on time?
Another candidate registered a myspace page, but never updated it after that, either; he's got '0 friends' listed. Not exactly a ringing endorsement isn't it? Perhaps you should have gone with a blog page instead, but I'm almost tempted to vote for you out of pity.
One of the candidates only has a French language website. Moi, je ne votez pour vous, as I can't understand a thing you're writing.

You might be surprised that almost half of the 40 candidates fail this first screening: they do not have a website, didn't bother to update it with meaningful content or failed to provide a link to CCP prior to the start of voting.

One candidate states he wants to "join the CSM to .. CCP" and proceeds to tell us how he likes to boss people around, being a CEO and all. Yeah right, that'll teach them! Oh and btw, I'm not voting for you.

A few candidates seem preoccupied with one single issue; I'm not voting for them, as their issues don't concern me.

Some candidates consistently fail at spelling certain in game words correctly; if you can't be bothered to get the in game stuff right, I don't vote for you.

Others represent parts of the player base I'm not a part of; I obviously don't vote for them either, but at least they are viable, legitimate candidates with a story to tell, even though it's not mine. They will probably get voted in the CSM by their constituencies (for instance alliance and corp mates) anyway.

This, finally, leaves me with a handful of candidates that have, so far, passed the first test. I'll have to check them out; one of them gets my vote!

Skill training commences

As a pilot in Eve Online, there's lots and lots of ships to fly. Frigates, cruisers, destroyers, battleships; miners, transport vessels and many more. They all come in several flavors and there are specific types for each race in New Eden: A Gallente pilot can't just hop into an Amarr frigate, and a Caldari can't fly anything Minmatar, unless they train for it.

That really never bothered me, until recently. A corp member offered a Caldari ship up for sale, and I really liked it - but I had to pass as I couldn't fly it. Shortly thereafter, an alliance member loaned me his salvaging frigate, which was fitted with many handy modules I couldn't use.

That's when I decided to spend some serious money on skillbooks (in game skillbooks, game items necessary to train the skills) and train up. Until now I mostly focused my skill training time on typical Gallente stuff: armor tanking, drone skills.. but there are dozens of very usefull skills I neglected, and it's high time I make up for that. I need to branch out, broaden the scope of my skillset!

So how do I determine which new skills to buy and train? Most pilots automatically turn to EveMon, which is a great tool indeed. But so far, the in game certificate planner has been helpful enough; it has pointed me to many skills I didn't know existed, but should have trained long ago.

So I am training frigates for Caldari, Minmatar and Amarr to level 3, and shield hardening and upgrade skills, gunnery, energy systems, engineering, missiles and rocketry, warfare and more to at least level 2. Many of these skills will save energy usage on certain modules, which is very useful. When you're tanking a lot of damage and you need to run repair modules and afterburner, you tend to run out of energy pretty quick. Saving 5, 10% here or 20% there (fuel conservation skill, level 2) should help a lot! The next step is to get these all up to level 3, and the most important ones to 4, but that's going to take some time.

Training that many new skills, by the way, would have been very hard to do, if it weren't for the skill training queue implemented with the latest expansion. Really a great addition! It allows me to train many skills to level 1 or 2 in one day, as this snapshot shows.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The state of my virtual economy

Ok, I'll skip the mandatory talk about 'worldwide economic recession' and 'banking crisis' and go right to the important bit: how are my Second Life land holdings doing? And how much ISK do I make in Eve Online?

My Second Life land tier is due in two days, and I am happy to report that, yes, my SL rentals are still turning a profit. It's not much, but it's real! In four months time, I have made enough L$ to create a useful reserve: I could, right now, pay two months' worth of tier and still keep a positive U$ balance. Part of this success is, without doubt, due to the efforts of my business partner Zena Silverstar and her team of Tropical Beach Rentals, who do the day to day management of my land. TBR does an excellent job! Another factor may be the growth of SL itself which seems to be picking up in recent months.

The space based Eve Online business is doing well, too. I've just crossed the 450 million ISK line; a significant amount of money for a casual player like me. I could buy myself some game time, thus saving real world Euros, but that would quickly drain out those ISKs, and I'd rather spend them on new shiny modules or ships! For now the goal is to get up to half a billion ISK as soon as possible; I'd better not lose any ships, let alone get podded, until then. The last time I lost a Dominix battleship, I lost a couple of Tech 1 modules and some low level implants. That was bad enough at the time, but if the same were to happen now, I would loose more advanced Tech 2 stuff and much more expensive implants too. I'd be set back more ISK than I care to calculate.. Better be careful out there.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Second Life and Eve Online both turn six

This year, both Eve Online and Second Life turn six. Yesterday was the big day for Eve Online; Second Life marks the momentous occassion on June 23.

There's a few similarities between the two, apart from their age. Both are persistent single shard, sandbox environments: all inhabitants live in the same instance of the world (or galaxy)and both let inhabitants make their own choices, let them determine their own in world fate. Both environments have a pretty interesting economy: Second Life's stats are freely available here, and CCP even employs an economist to keep track of Eve's money and trade.

Second Life went through some pretty turbulent times, hyped to the sky but also written off, derided and mocked. These six years have been a roller coaster ride! Eve Online's history isn't like that at all, it flew under the radar for quite some time, as it has a reputation of a tough MMO to get a grip on. This, by the way, is improved significantly with the latest Apocrypha expansion.

There's more differences. Second Life counts it's subscribers in the millions, even though the bulk of those are inactive basic (free) accounts; day to day concurrency for Second Life is usually a bit over 70.000 residents. Eve Online's concurrency record stands at 53.000, out of 300.000 active subscriptions. Eve Online does not know free accounts other than the 14 days trial, and according to Massively, CCP doesn't include trial accounts in the 'active accounts' number. This means that 300.000 active accounts really means these are all paid for.

On most evenings, more than 40.000 pilots are active in Eve Online. But, how many of these are individual players isn't clear: it is said that a significant number of players have two or more paid accounts in order to play with several characters at the same time. For instance, the main characters mines asteroids, and an alt transports the mined ore to nearby space stations for selling or processing. In other words, Eve Online's concurrency number isn't necessarily equal to the number of individuals playing. Second Life has somewhat similar issues, mostly with campers and bots (avatars not used by real humans), intended to boost visitor numbers and hence ranking/visibility for shops or clubs in world.

Another difference: CCP celebrates the sixth birthday of it's flagship product with a short blog post and a few gifts for a lottery; Linden Labs throws a big theme party on 20 regions of virtual land. CCP could learn something from Linden Labs in this regard!

In any case, I wish both worlds well. Congratulations, and here's to the next six years!

Caledon Skies

slSnapshot_003, originally uploaded by seredwoollahra.

Even though I spend most of my time in Eve Online's New Eden space, it's still nice to fly the dark Caledon skies every now and then!