Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Eve Online: being beaten is a steep learning curve

What I called "the inevitable" here happened today: I lost my drake battlecruiser. Here's how.

Earlier this evening, while I was doing some light ratting, one of our scouts reported an incoming fleet from Darkside. alliance, about 30 pilots strong. Now for a casual roaming gang, that's a bit too big.. They briefly touched on our gate, one pilot even jumped in, but the rest went on their merry way, apparently to C3N where IT has recently had their hands full. Our FC decided we should pursue, after all if these 30 men get into C3N, IT will be on hand to squash them! So the ten of us pursued.

At the C3N gate, we actually overtook one of the Darkside. guys, and before the FC's command to leave him alone and jump into C3N got through to me, I had already fired a missile at him. At that moment my fleet jumped, and a Darkside. fleet landed on the gate.. Suddenly I was surrounded by lots of ill tempered Russian neutrals! Because I had just fired a missile at a neutral, the gate wouldn't let me jump (aggro rules you must learn, young padawan) and I had to warp away as quick as I could - to any point but here, really - to survive. I was fast enough, and got out! My alliance mates however were not so lucky. At the other side of the gate, the enemy made short work of them.. IT alliance hadn't been aware soon enough of the skirmish that was about to begin, and IT's reinforcements were too late to prevent defeat. So, most of our first wave of responders made their way to our home system automatically, waking up in a fresh clone and an insurance note in their inbox after being podded in C3N! I briefly jumped back to the gate to assist a fleet mate, but warped out again when he told me he was lost anyway. Again I survived, just because I was fast enough.

A little while later, I traveled home, alone and unharmed, when the enemy overtook me and jumped into our home system. I waited for instructions from my FC, and finally made my way back in, warping straight to the battlefield, which was centered around one of our carriers - which should of course have been docked up a long time ago, given that the enemy was already in system.. From this point on, things went downhill fast. The Darkside. fleet had better logistiscs, repping their own pilots faster as we could, and we were unable to hold the field, much less defeat them. Slowly we continued to bleed ships (including my Drake), until after a while an IT alliance fleet came in to assist. Upon their arrival, Darkside. disengaged, left our home system and we were left to contemplate what had just happened.

For the first time, it seems we were a specific target for a well known pvp outfit. Helping IT alliance out does make you known here and there, apparently :) Personally, I think the whole initial manoeuver was a trap; we were lured out into the pursuit, and the enemy made sure the first responders were out of system and neutralized before entering our home system. At the same time, the lonely Darkside. pilot who went in our home system remained there, scouting out a juicy target - the Carrier - for his buddies to land on when they arrived. A sound strategy, executed with a balanced fleet - enough logistics - and good discipline. Did we learn a lesson tonight? You bet we have :-)

By the way - at least of the pilots involved in the Darkside. fleet appears in this Alliance Tournament movie: Darkside. vs RAZOR, so we were indeed confronted with some very experienced pvp pilots here..

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Eve Online: my son hates goons

Earlier this week we got word that IT alliance requested our assistance, for an operation this sunday afternoon. As we gathered today, we heard rumors about a battle being fought somewhere else; we were probably going to be bridged in to help IT.

When he noticed what was happening, my son, currently nine years of age, got very excited: he's been eager to see some large scale fleet battle. He has developed a bit of a habit: whenever we play Eve Online together, he gets us a bottle of coke and two glasses, and then sits next to me to watch. And even though he doesn't speak English, he grabs one of my earbuds to listen in on TeamSpeak :)

Our fleet was supposed to leave around 18.00; I logged in some ten minutes before that. There was a small delay, and then another one, and in the end we left around 18.30. It was a glorious sight, as around 40 of my fellow pilots warped through Querious space together! Or, against the backdrop of a barren planet, where we briefly held:
Eve Online: sunday CTA

Soon, we entered the target system, and joined the IT forces already there at a nearby Player Owned Station (POS). As more and more ships warped in, it got a bit crowded. And when the supercarriers arrived - including a Minmatar Hel and a buch of Gallente Nyxes, it got really impressive! My son however wasn't around to watch that anymore, as by now the operation had been going on for over an hour and there wasn't really happening much.. he had gotten bored and went away. I promised however to call him when the enemy would arrive.

Nothing continued to happen for a long time, however, while my son periodically, and with growing irritation, inquired as to if the enemy (GoonFleet alliance) had arrived yet. They never showed up; either too busy elsewhere or unwilling to face an IT fleet this size and strenght. We were also not bridged out to another battle as we originally thought, and so, after more than three hours, we were dismissed. Lady Scarlett spoke some kind words of appreciation, the fleet disbanded, and a bunch of us made our way home.. I was asked to FC that leg of our trip, but given what was happening at home - more on that below - and that I have no experience, I declined.. would have been a nice opportunity to try it out!

By now, my son was in tears, sobbing to his mother about the stupid Goonfleet enemy that didn't show up, the stupid hour he lost watching our fleet do conga lines in a pos, the stupid maker of Eve Online, why he'd even bothered to grab coke and glasses, my stupid computer which he was going to destroy with a large axe he wanted to buy first thing tomorrow morning.. He was sad and angry. He had been looking forward todoing a large fleet battle together with his dad, and nothing had happened! I really had to spend some time to explain what we did: we secured an important asset for IT alliance, and we'll get a nice reward. Some battles are not won by shooting, but simply by showing up and guarding your assets! He accepted the explanation, but still spoke harsh words of condemnation for the Goons that didn't show up.

So there you have it, Goons. You ruined my son's sunday evening, and probably his opinion of the entire game, simply by not showing up for a fight tonight. He really has it in for you now.. you have made a fierce enemy out of him. Just wait until he's old enough to go to nullsec ;-)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Eve Online: solo versus social and the joys of pvp

(It has become a bit of a long post, but I wanted to get some thoughts out on highsec, nullsec (0.0) and how I experience the transition from the former to the latter. For those unfamiliar with Eve Online system security statuses: here's a primer!)

Until recently, I was a typical highsec carebear – with one exception: I didn’t mine unless I really had to. All the fuss about nullsec alliance warfare was interesting but didn’t mean anything to me, really. PVP was just a nuisance, something those antisocial highsec griefers do to defenseless pve oriented carebears such as myself. And I considered Eve Online to be a social game, as it is an open sandbox universe with virtually limitless options, in terms of careers, development and things to do and achieve. Staying in nullsec for an extended period of time has altered some of these long held convictions, and reinforced others.

Expect the unexpected
Flying in nullsec adds a whole new level of depth to New Eden. In highsec, there’s pretty much nothing unexpected that will happen to you, if you stay in the right places and do the right things.. For instance running level 4 missions in Everyshore pretty much guarantees a modest but steady income of ISK without much surprises. In nullsec however, even in places considered relatively safe, there is always an awareness that anything might happen, at any time, in any place. A roaming gang of reds may attempt a surprise attack on your system; a lonely but very dangerous enemy stealth bomber suddenly appears out of nowhere and attacks; the large alliance you rent space from may urgently request your presence on a nearby battlefield, in five minutes thankyouverymuch. You need to be ever alert, ready to move, defend or attack. And making ISK isn’t a goal in itself, necessarily, but a tool to fund the ships and goods necessary for defense.

PVP, not so bad after all
This means my attitude towards PVP has changed as well. I still maintain that PVP between seasoned PVP characters and highsec carebears is too much of an uneven fight, but in nullsec it’s a very different game: it’s about protecting your assets. I have, to my own surprise, come to enjoy the clashes with roaming gangs and solo pvp pilots! These engagements can be entertaining and exciting, sometimes leading to extended fighting and long term feuds. So far I have been lucky only to have scored kills; I haven’t suffered a loss yet. I’m sure that moment will come – it’s inevitable – but for now my Querious stats are fine. And with the steady and much larger amount of ISK now flowing into my wallet, losing a ship isn’t that much of a problem anymore either.
One of the more fascinating things about fleet engagements and nullsec pvp in general, is the wealth of options and strategies that are available to the pilots. So many different ship types and ships, each with their own specific strengths and weaknesses, with innumerable ways to fit and use them! The level of detail and expertise that can be achieved continues to amaze me, and far outstrips anything highsec mission runners are used to.

Solo versus social
On the ‘social’ side, I must say nullsec beats highsec too. In highsec, most pilots work solo, incidentally joining forces for a mining op or a few rounds of lvl4’s. CCP is aware of this, and has been trying - for years - to get the highsec pilots to work together. With Incursion, CCP is even resorting to full blown Sansha invasions, in order to achieve this goal.
In nullsec, cooperation is the norm, rather than the exception. Some activities (ratting, easy complexes) can be done solo, but even mining often requires the presence of combat ships in order to ward off ‘belt rats’, the non player driven (NPC) enemies that spawn in asteroid belts from time to time. And higher level complexes are usually done in teams as well: much more effective and the rewards get spread over a larger number of pilots. Finally, given the constant threat of external violence, nullsec pilots are generaly forced to work together much more, in terms of exchanging intelligence, countering threats or achieving offensive goals.

Take fleets, for instance. In recent months, I have experieced two types of fleets. On the one hand, there’s the semi organized gathering of solo pilots who happen to share a chat channel. This is the type of fleets that highseccers are wont to create – chaotic, made up of whatever flies and whatever each individual likes. On the other hand, there’s the organized group of pilots, each with their own specific fleet role and orders, flying the specific ship types to match those roles, lead by an FC who knows his business (if you’re lucky of course). The first type of fleet is going to be massacred if they face a better trained enemy – no doubt about it. The second one however stands a chance against any adversary: in Eve Online, outnumbered but better organized and fc’d fleets have slaughtered numerical superior forces time and time again. As for our own alliance: we were definitely of the first, likely-to-get-massacred type not too long ago. We are currently of the second type, and we’re getting better at what we do with each engagement, and with passing week. And I'm enjoying each minute of it!

Eve Online: Conga!

Eve Online: Conga!
Last night we were called for a defensive operation in a nearby solar system. We were waiting for the enemy, but - they didn't show up. Finally, bored, our pilots lined up for a conga line in space.. when the first man started to 'approach' the last man, the circle was closed, and we rotated in space for several minutes like this :)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Eve Online: enemies defeated

One evening last week, upon returning from a meeting, I heard chatter erupting from my laptop earphone - a sure sign something was going on on TeamSpeak. Usually my alliance or corp mates leisurely talk about happenings in New Eden, but now there was a lot of excitement and urgency in the voices emanating from TS.

Instead of going to bed, I quickly logged in and switched my Drake Battlecruiser to the requested PVP alliance fit. Our fleet appeared to have gathered at an entry gate to our solar system so I swiftly headed over and positioned myself for a fight.

And a fight is what we got! The first enemy ship to jump in was a Broadsword; a heavy interdictor capable of warp scrambling other ships, preventing them to warp away. We tried to put as much damage on him as possible, but his tank held and soon he trapped several of our ships - amongst them one of our carriers, and my Drake. Our FC ordered a retreat to the station as other enemies arrived on the field. Unable to warp out I burned away from the Broadsword as fast as I could; I started taking damage from other incoming enemy ships and my shield started falling, slowly but steadily. With my shields 50% down, I got out of the Broadswords' warp scrambling range and without hesitation I warped to safety. The carrier got out as well, but a few other ships were lost.

At that moment, with our fleet in disarray and having lost several ships, I wasn't quite sure how to proceed. Our FC, however, did! He rallied the troops, explained the new strategy, quickly had several pilots switch into ships needed to execute the strategy - and as soon as we could we all warped back to the gate.

This time, the roles were reversed. As the correct primary and secondary targets were called and destroyed, the enemy swiftly lost most of their fleet: their destroyed wrecks (and bodies..) littered the area around the gate. I got two of the kill mails, meaning I delivered the final blow that destroyed the ship; the Broadsword and a Hurricane battlecruiser are formally my kills.

With the last enemy either destroyed or chased out of our space, we stood down battlecomms - and celebrated a nice victory. A few weeks ago this enemy might have picked us apart, but no more.

Yet, in Eve Online's New Eden, a battle is only rarely just that - a single battle. Defeat often leads to rancor, hatred and a thirst for vengeance, and so most of the gang we destroyed last week, returned yesterday evening for another brawl. We knew they were coming, and when their first pilot entered our system, he was attacked from all sides. Missiles, lasers and drones hammered his Myrmidon battlecruiser and he jumped out again as fast as he could - unfortunately we were too late to stop him from exiting. After some deliberation and intelligence work, the fleet followed him on the way out; a few jumps from our home system, our fleet overtook the enemy and once again all of their ships were destroyed - again with minimal losses on our side. Unfortunately I missed that fight: I missed the FC's command to pursue, and by the time I got near the battlefield, it was already over. Next time..

Friday, November 12, 2010

Eve Online: Querious II

Just a quick note on my stay in Querious. This space is generally held by IT alliance and we're just one of the IT allies in the region. Well, allies.. I think the proper name is 'renter' or 'pet', not sure which one is applicable to us.

We've learned a lot in recent weeks. The alliance has begun to operate in organized fleets, with proper fc'ing. We have 'eyes' in the systems leading to our home system; we have intel on what's coming our way. If a roaming gang of enemies comes in, we try to have the necessary ships for the engagement we're about to have - based on incoming ships types of course. Usually it works out, we have most ship types ready and available. We are getting better at killing neutrals (my first solo kill!) or reds who enter our space uninvited. All in all, it's a very interesting process to witness, as a ragtag group of semi carebears adjusts to nullsec and tries to become an organized and effective unit.

Just a few days ago we had a roaming gang of enemies enter our home system. We had intel on them way before they got to us: we were prepared and ready. At the gate, we had a standoff, with both parties keeping their distance, about 120 kilometers. In the 10 minute engagement they killed http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.giftwo of us: one pilot who ignored the FC's order to maintain formation and went at it alone - he died quickly. The second one got caught in a bubble went up just after he had hit warp, so there was no way to prevent him getting caught and killed. In return we killed one of their stealth bombers, and that's when they decided to leave. We weren't an easy prey anymore..

I jumpcloned back to highsec earlier this week: boring. Glad I made the move to nullsec! I'm sure I'm going to regret it one day, when we get serious opposition or a full blown enemy fleet instead of these small roaming gangs and all my ships get blown to smithereens, but until that day - I'm not going back to highsec. And you shouldn't, too :)

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Eve Online: Querious

About a week ago, we finally moved out to a system in Querious, our new nullsec home. Of course I wasn't entirely clear about what to take with me, but a jumpfreigher service had been arranged so we could take plenty of stuff with us. But not everything: I had to fly my Drake battlecruiser there myself - 53 jumps - because it has a few rigs fitted. Fortunately most of the other nullsec systems along the way were deserted and I got my ship in one piece in our new home system. Corp member Dadellus was already there, and we quickly started ratting and running complexes.

But there's a lot of new stuff to get used to! For the first time I live in 'not blue, shoot it' space; anyone who's not explicitly your friend, is presumed an enemy and must be dealt with on sight. To facilitate the 'dealing with' part, all pilots must join the home fleet. In highsec you only join a fleet when you are planning on doing stuff together, but here it's a permanent.. Lots of new stuff to learn!

(forgot to publish this when I wrote it - sorry..)

Friday, October 22, 2010

New York!

Yesterday I wrote a short blog piece at Koinup about New York, which can be visited in Twinity as of today. Metaversum recreated a part of Manhattan, including parts of Central Park, Madison Avenue, 5th Avenue etcetera. It's a work in progress, but even so it's really worth a visit!
West 58th street
More snapshots - again - at Koinup.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Eve Online: changes coming

I've been in Eve Online for over two years. In most chat channels, that makes me a seasoned pilot - definitely not a n00b anymore. In these two years, I have mined, ran missions, fought a few PVP encounters, did some trading, did some diplomatic stuff.. and that's about it. And I have loved it! Yet, I wrote elsewhere:

"We are mission runners, miners and industrialists. We are carebears at heart, but still we're growing tired of the predictability of highsec. We have killed Kruul so many times we lost count; we probably looted enough of his DNA to rebuild him without using DNA sequencers. And having to bring that stupid damsel back time and time again.. it's getting a bit stale."

This is from a forum post, where we asked for a nice piece of quiet nullsec space to live. We were looking for change, excitement, nullsec ratting and plexing, high end mineral mining and exotic ores to mine! Even though we didn't get many usable offerhttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifs at the time, we now have found a new place.

A few members of the MPA alliance have joined to form a new corp (ticker: NOFAD) which has since joined the Saints amongst Sinners alliance (SAS), and we are currently packing our stuff for the long haul to Querious, where our new nullsec life awaits us.

The funny thing is - I'm feeling n00bish again! Nullsec ratting and pvp requires other ships and fits, other tactics. For the first time we are flying in an alliance that does *not* primarly consist of miners and industrialists. This really is a different experience, and I am anxious to see what will happen.

(before I forget - anyone interested in a 21-day free buddy Eve Online trial, contact me!)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Eve Online: if Bruce and Lance..

If Lance Armstrong and Bruce Willis were ever to have an illegitimate love child, it would look like this:

Eve Online: Lance ahttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifnd Bruces ...

This is an example of a Gallente male, according to the new Eve Online character creation tool, which is available for public testing on CCP's Singularity test server. I am impressed with CCP's willingness to throw something so obviously in early beta stage to us, the wolves:

However, the assets and the technology is far from finished. Singularity is our test server. We put things there to see how they break. You will be able to play around with a total pre-release client full of temporary assets, clunky UI, strange behavior and slow loading. You will be able to create incredibly bad looking characters, dressed funny and posed silly. In a way it‘s a marketing faux pas, since the character creator on Singularity is far from being ready. This, however, is the way we roll. We publish unfinished stuff to our test server to allow you, the players to have a go at our new technology, to find defects, to have it tested on all kinds of different hardware configurations so that we in the end deliver a higher-quality product. With your feedback, we make the game better, but be warned, this is not the final product. Some avatars will look awful and ridiculous, with glaring visual artifacts and defects. Did I mention that some of them will look awful?

..And I'm sure the results will get better over time.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Eve Online: becoming more social

It must be about four years ago, that I first set foot in Second Life, to see for myself why IBM was making such a fuss about it. And while I have (obviously) enjoyed it, there was one thing bothering me: I didn't enjoy being in SL if I didn't have a clear goal. I need something to do, to see, to take care of.

Same with Twinity, which I first entered in early 2008. It is developing nicely, shaping up to be a nice social virtual world, but I need something to do. Chatting with Monica is always a good reason to be in Twinity, as are the mirrored cities and places. Those, and the community as a whole, keep me engaged.

I enjoy Eve Online because there's always something to do, but it's not a social world. It's a scifi themed sandbox universe, aimed at player versus player combat, player versus environment, industry, market manipulation. Large scale combat and politics between large player driven alliances color the eve online news. Yet the social connections are there, too; players meet in corporate and alliance chat channels or even in the local solar systems' channel. These connections are often quite meaningful, as corporations often have a core of seasoned players who've known each other for years.

But now space is about to become much more social, now that Incarna (also known as 'ambulation' and 'walking in stations' is finally announced for Eve Online's summer of 2011 expansion.

Finally, real avatars will be able to meet at a bar in a station and talk things over, do some games - it's not yet known what will be available in Incarna's initial release, but you get the idea. Especially in highsec trading hubs, I expect the social aspect of Eve Online to become more important.

A beautiful universe, with plenty to do and countless choices available - with meaningful, immersive, social structures in place. What's not to like!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Twinity update

At the Koinup blog, I have published a new update on Twinity. It's about real estate, shopping and gambling, as Twinity's first casino opened. Interesting times in the mirror world! Read about it here: Twinity: developing, shopping, gambling...

Friday, August 13, 2010

Eve Online: perspective is lagging

Much noise has been made, recently, over Eve Online and the way CCP deals with it's flagship product. One of the focal points of the emo rage directed at CCP, is the lag experienced in large fleet battles, which occur mostly in lowsec or nullsec space. This lag is a true issue as these kind of massive battles rank high amongst the features which make Eve Online an unique environment. Yet, what I'd like to point out, is that it's an issue that's not affecting everyone.

In my highsec industrialist corporation, I have not heard one single complaint about lag. It's simply not an issue we are confronted with, in our day to day gameplay - unless we visit Jita, which I try to avoid anyway. Part of our corp in in wormhole space, which is quiet by nature; some are mining in Gallente or Amarr space, where lag doesn't occur much either.

On page 14 of the recent Quarterly Economic Newsletter, we gather that most Eve Online pilots reside in highsec - over 88% actually. It is my guess that many of these players rarely, if ever, are affected by the much decried lag issues.

CCP should fix the lag issue (and they are working on it), as it is hurting one of their most important assets in terms of gameplay, and because it yields a lot of negative publicity at the moment. But in all the noise and bile directed at CCP, it wouldn't hurt to remind ourselves that for the majority of Eve pilots, fleet battle lag may not be 'the most pressing issue' after all.

Oh and while I'm on it: if you're technically inclined, do yourself a favor and read this Gamasutra article on sharding and the Eve Online infrastructure. A good read!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Eve Online: 500 pilots in local

Yesterday evening, CCP and more than 500 volunteers executed another mass test on the Eve Online test server Singularity. Participating was easy this time as no client patch was needed, just a copy of the current Eve Online client.

The test involved several phases, all in the Syndicate region. First, we gathered at the F6 jumpgate in MHC where the X and W fleets, each consisting of about 240 pilots, were formed; we jumped a few times, ending up in X-B, where we up a gatecamp. Finally, we had a few rounds of fleet battle. Between the test phases, CCP staff were busy tuning the system, testing certain fixes or settings, and evaluating the results as we went.

During the first mass test a few months ago, we couldn't even gather at the gate before crashing due to lag, but this time that went much better, although my corpmates reported an increase in lag upon the arrival of the Ragnarok.

Jumping to the next system with hundreds of pilots still yielded hilarious results, with pilots being stuck for minutes before they could jump. I, for instance, got a 2.38 mins waiting time warning from traffic control. And when we finally jumped, many ended up without anything on grid - or even completely off grid. Effectively I was unable to participate in any activity for about five minutes. It's frustrating to read the fleet chat about the battle raging around you, when all you see is a nice default starfield background..

Using drones in the fleet battles seemed to have a large negative impact as far as I'm concerned. Without drones but with 500+ pilots in system, I was able to participate in the fleet battle, even firing some shots at CCP staff member CCP Atlas. Unsurprisingly, the CCP's are among the hottest targets in fleet, and CCP Atlas quickly got relieved of his Abaddon battleship :)

Eve Online: Mass testing, 2010...

A few minutes later we were all cleared to release and use drones, and that's when the lag really hit. Modules wouldn't cycle, guns wouldn't fire anymore, and for quite some time launching and using drones was virtually impossible too. By this time however, the number of pilots in local had dropped considerably - it was past midnight in Europe and many pilots got killed - so you would expect lag to lessen. But with drones out, it got significantly worse.

And then, suddenly, I got hit by something massive: I lost shields, armor and hull in one volley. Insurance email arrived, informing me that my Dominix had, unfortunately, been destroyed.. yet I still had my ship and modules on screen. The shields even started repairing themselves! Obviously some things were way out of sync by that time. Time to logoff and go to bed!

One thing I learned yesterday, is that large scale fleet battle is a unique activity in Eve Online, with it's own rules and language. Many volunteers - including me - were not that familiar with the ins and outs, leading to a lot of confusion, undisciplined behaviour (keep firing when the FC tells to CEASE &^%% FIR for instance) and general mayhem. It was a real chaos at times! But, a nice fleet battle practice run for pilots like me.

It will be interesting to see what CCP gets out of this test. I think they are making progress - and they really need to - so hopefully we'll see some improvements on Tranquility in the near future.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

OpenSim: the kids love it

Back in September 2007, I installed my first OpenSim instance, and my kids - and their nieces - have been experimenting with it on and off ever since. With the release of OpenSim 0.7, I decided to upgrade my installation, and keep it online for a while. Frankly, it was the kids who triggered that: they asked me to start 'our Second Life' again because they wanted to play.

And playing they did! For the past two days, they have been hard at work on a new camping site - probably inspired by the summer vacation season - and I am, once again, impressed with what they've made. It has everything: a reception, a terrace, shop, sanitary facilities and cabins to stay in. The cabins are decorated to each owners' taste, too.
OpenSim: the camping terrace

What really amazed me, is the quality of work these kids deliver, without any training. Sure, last year I tought them the basics, such as creating shapes from prims, linking them and using textures, but once they understood how that worked, they pretty much did the rest themselves. Today I got them started on using scripts, and that is again giving them a whole new area to play with. The first really usable chairs are appearing here and there, and my daughter is working on a revolving door! Of course they didn't write these scripts, they downloaded them from wikis, blogs and such. But, I am eager to see whether they'll get an interest in scripting in general.

Obviously, these are kids. There's plenty room for improvement in their work; especially aligning prims is sometimes hard to do. Frankly they often aren't that concerned when prim alignment is a bit off; for their play purpose it's usually good enough. Although my daughter deleted her entire shop today, as she wasn't satisfied with it anymore due to the walls and floors being aligned improperly!

I have never really worked with sculpted prims, and I'm not sure those render well in OpenSim - I think they do but I'm not sure. But after scripts, sculpties is probably the next thing I'll point them to. I wouldn't be surprised if they become more proficient with them than I was!

Many of my OpenSim snapshots at Koinup feature work created by this next generation of virtual world users. Take a look! OpenSim @ Koinup

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Twinity: Miami

Today Metaversum presented me with the opportunity to visit their virtual rendering of Miami Beach in Twinity, in advance of tomorrow's official opening. Of course I accepted, and I must say I'm pretty impressed with what they've achieved. More on my visit to Miami Beach is at the Koinup blog, where I am the resident Twinity blogger. Of course I have a lot of screenshots, also to be found @ Koinup!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Eve Online: nullsec adventures

As mentioned on this blog before, I am currently an alliance diplomat for the MPA alliance in Eve Online. When we were offered a chance to travel to nullsec - the dangerous, lawless, but most rewarding space in Eve Online's New Eden universe - some of our corporation took it with both hands. Most of our corporation and alliance members reside in the more safe highsec areas; some live in wormhole space, but we rarely venture into nullsec. Yet for many of New Eden's pilots, nullsec is the place to be. This is where the big space holding alliances reign, where epic battles involving hundreds or even thousands of players are being fought, where campaigns lasting weeks or months are being executed. It's also the place where each and every move is potentially dangerous: there is no safety in nullsec. Theoretically the same goes for highsec and lowsec (empire space) but still, nullsec is a different story.

So after all diplomatic hurdles had been taken care of (a process which went more smoothly than I could hope for) some of us embarked on the long trip to a hospitable system in Providence.

This region had just been conquered by two alliances, Ushra'khan and Atlas Alliance, who defeated the previous owners CVA and their holder alliances in a campaign that lasted for several weeks. For many neutral pilots, CVA's loss was bad news, as CVA and their holders regularly allowed these neutral outsiders to reside in their space. The new owners, however, quickly restored some of CVA's hospitality. Ushra'khan (ticker: UK) themselves declared they were adopting a 'Not Red, Don't Shoot' policy (NRDS), essentially allowing neutrals into UK space, and some of their allies followed suit. It was this policy that allowed us to go there, and enjoy the thrills and rewards of nullsec.

From the start, however, it was clear that Providence was still in a lot of turmoil. Hostile fleets roamed the systems and blocked routes, even in Ushra'khan space; it seemed UK wasn't able or willing to enforce their 'NRDS' policy. We resided in another system, but suffered a lot from these roaming gangs of hostiles, and we lost several ships. Pretty soon, we started to feel the financial pain of these losses, and it started to look like the rewards were not enough to cover the costs anymore. So, we contemplated a retreat from Providence back to highsec, and wait for another - perhaps better - shot at nullsec space later.

While we were discussing this, news broke that the Ushra'khan alliance had been dealt a deadly blow. An undercover agent infiltrated Ushra'khan, slowly working his way up through the alliances' hierarchy; after one year of patient roleplaying and plotting, he rose to such a powerful administrative position he was able to dismantle the alliance from within, simply by ejecting most member corporations from the alliance - and steal a lot of stuff in the process, too. As this agent is now the only one left in the Ushra'khan alliance with any power - he removed all others- there's no way UK can be restored to it's previous incarnation. Whether you like Ushra'khan or not: you have to admire that kind of dedication! It's stuff like this that makes Eve Online unique, in my opinion.

As it is now, Ushra'khan still does exist, but it's no longer a meaningful entity. The corporations who used to make up Ushra'khan membership are still active and of course keep defending their space, but obviously they suffered a severe blow to morale and organization. As was to be expected, hostile alliances like Hydra Reloaded and Razor alliance are now trying to profit off the confusion, to gain sovereignty over parts of space currently owned by former Ushra'khan members. In other words: more battle, more turmoil.

Luckily I succeeded in getting my clone and most important gear (Drake battlecruiser, T2 drones, loot and some ammo) out of Providence, earlier today; it is now safe in highsec empire space. We will continue to watch the situation, which is highly interesting in itself. But it probably means we'll have to look for another, preferrably more peaceful part of nullsec to continue our exploration. A nice task for a diplomat..

Twinity update

Again, it's time for a Twinity update. Upon returning from holidays, I must say Twinity is developing rather fast these days. Concurrency numbers are clearly up, and the welcome areas have daily visitor numbers unheard of a few months ago. More on that in my Koinup blog entry: Twinity: busy in here.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


I've been neglecting this blog for far too long! Much has happened between the end of april and today. We've had some turbulent times in real life, which has taken a toll on gaming time. Yet, in those few hours I've had, significant stuff has happened.

As for Eve Online, I have become an alliance diplomat. Our alliance, MPA, has an invitation to join a few old friends in nullsec, which is great! But getting there is not as easy as flying through highsec, obviously; we need to work our way through several systems occupied by other alliances. So, our diplomatic team is assessing routes and neighbours, determining the best routes. The good news is: we need to cross Ushra'khan space, and UK has just declared a 'NRDS' policy: Not Red, Don't Shoot. This means that only enemies of UK will be shot at; others may freely pass (most of nullsec is 'NBSI': Not Blue, Shoot It, in which case only known friends are safe). This means at least one diplomatic obstacle removed, and we're working on the others.

Twinity is on the move. Lots of good stuff happening there, and I have written about that on the Koinup blog. Check it out, and give Twinity a try if you're not a member yet; the world can use the extra members.

Second Life is a bit of an enigma at the moment. Now that Linden labs is offering prefab houses to premium members, the rental market it taking a bit of a beating and my rentals are barely paying for themselves at the moment. Of course I'm not going to pull out, but a few extra renters would be welcome. Occupancy is too low at the moment!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Eve Online: Planetary Interaction

Yesterday evening, our alliance spent some time on the Eve Online test system Singularity to explore the upcoming feature Planetary Interaction. When the next Eve expansion, Tyrannis, is released in a few weeks time, planets will become an exploitable resource, containing all sorts of ore and raw materials, to be used in building goods. It's not yet clear what those goods will be, but stuff like POS fuel and skill books have been mentioned. Here's a short summary of what we learned yesterday.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Eve Online : Planets

With the release of the Dominion expansion in 2009, the planets of New Eden got a facelift. The next expansion, Tyrannis (eta may 2010) will turn them into valuable sources of raw materials, to be mined from space. And the new game Dust 514 will bring mercenaries to their surface, probably to fight over the installations and resources belonging to Eve pilots. For now I'll contend myself with a few snapshots every now and then.
Eve Online: Shadows
Idly drifting near a planets' ring. The planet casts a shadow over the thin rings; you can even see the stars through them.

Eve Online: Inhospitable
Come Tyrannis, the next Eve Online expansion, this planet may become a rich resource for the miners of New Eden. And come Dust 514, CCP's new game set in the same universe, it may even become the scene of fierce fights between Dust 514 mercenaries. But today, seen from space, it just looks inhospitable and cold.

Eve Online: Red
This planet made me think of our own planet Mars. It probably doesn't have an atmosphere; it looks like it's been dead for a long while.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Eve Online: what's in my hangar

Eve Online pilots sometimes spend a lot of time to find the precise ship and fitting they need for a certain job, and as there are a lot of different jobs, most pilots tend to have a lot of ships. So Rixx Javix at Eveoaganda asks: what ships are in your hangar, and how are they named?

Looking around in my hangar I see a nice stack of Gallente ships: Incursus frigate (for doing small incursions into lowsec), a Helios covops (same), a Catalyst Destroyer used for running plexes, a Vexor cruiser (same), a Brutix battlecruiser for low level missions, and two battleships: the Dominix droneboat and the Megathron. And an Iteron mark III. Oh and the Zephyr of course! I once bought a Drake but it got destroyed at a lowsec gatecamp and I didn't buy a new one - yet.

My ships are all named after Dutch WWII era naval ships, such as the Flores and Soemba, who earned the nickname 'Terrible Twins from the British:

"Another British officer said: "These Dutchmen have the right fighting spirit. Nothing will stop them, and they won't cease firing. The only rest they had during the nights of unceasing bombardments was when they ran out of ammunition, and then they returned, reshelled and refuelled, and were off again. They will take on anything. [...] We could not make out where the firing came from until someone said 'It 's those damned Dutchmen again; you can't keep them out of anything!' And he was right."

I have attempted to find fitting names for each ship, meaning the Iteron is named after a freighter, the Dominix after one of our primitive aircraft carriers, the Incursus after a frigate etcetera. I like a sense of history and think such a naming scheme fits Eve Online just fine.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Twinity: skating!

Last week, Twinizens enjoyed the usage of an in world vehicle for the very first time, with the introduction of the skateboard. I've had a lot of fun with it already! It's way easier to explore cities and the potential for competetive fun is obvious.
Twinity: at Marius skate shop

For more on the Twinity skateboard, see my Koinup blog items: Twinity: Skateboard fun and Skateboarding through Twinity London.

Also fun to do: creating movies in Twinity using the Wegame utility, which is actually quite easy. This is one of the trial runs:

<a href="http://www.koinup.com/SeredWoollahra/work/243522/">Twinity Skateboarding: Museuminsel ...</a> - a <a href="http://www.koinup.com/in-twinity/on-videos/">Twinity Machinima</a> by <a href="http://www.koinup.com/SeredWoollahra/">SeredWoollahra</a> on <a href="http://www.koinup.com">Koinup</a>

My Twinity Machinima - together with lots of others, often better than mine - can be found on the Twinity Koinup machinima page. Do pay a visit!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Eve Online: mass testing on Sisi

Ever since the Dominion expansion hit Eve Online, lag issues have been playing up. Especially during large fleet battles, the kind of battles that tend to take place in nullsec space between the larger space holding alliances, lag has been a real blight, even becoming a battle deciding factor at times. I am not living in nullsec space and not a member of such an alliance; in other words, I have never been in a large fleet battle, but that doesn't mean I wouldn't like to participate in one! Large scale nullsec warfare is completely different from my usual gameplay, as it includes ships and technology rarely (if ever) seen in highsec and employs radically different tactics. Stuff I'd like to see and experience!

Mass Test
So how does a lowly mission runner and parttime trader work his way into a massive fleet fight between the capital ships of New Eden? Simple, I participated in the March 20th mass test on Singularity, Eve Online's test environment! CCP is working hard to fix the lag issue infecting the currently deployed code, and they wanted to test some of the possible fixes on the test system Singularity (Sisi) first. So, yesterday evening, several hundreds of pilots logged on to Sisi instead of Tranquility (the 'normal' Eve Online game environment) in order to help CCP and, ultimately, themselves. For me it was not only a matter of helping, but also a chance to participate in such a fleet and see the cap ships in action.

After logging in and fitting my Megathron battleship, I found myself a long way from where the test would be executed. On Singularity, there's an easy solution to that: I logged on to the in game Moveme channel, and got transported, in an instant, to a station in the FD-MLJ system in the Syndicate region. The testing was supposed to take place in the neighbouring system X-BV98; we would gather there and mass jump to Poitot (yet another neighbouring system) to see what would happen. There would be siege warfare and quite possible a nice battle to top things off. The good thing about battle on Singularity is, that any losses incurred are limited to the test environment and have no repercussions in the normal Eve Online environment. In other words: risk free battle!

Fleet, lag
After chatting a bit in the in game MassTesting channel, I joined CCP Stillman's fleet, left the station and set out for X-BV98, which would normally be one easy jump. The vast amounts of ships that had to move through the system, however, meant that there was indeed an enormous amount of lag. FPS (frames per second) dropped to 'average 0.1' at one time, effectively rendering the game unplayable. I decided to relog; that helped a lot and I was able to jump to X-BV98 and travel to the Poitot stargate, where an impressive fleet was gathering:

Eve Online: Mass testing

More pictures available: Mass Testing on Koinup.

Cyno beacons were lit, more and more ships arrived at the gate and I again joined the CCP Stillman fleet. The lag, however, became terrible again; joining a fleet seems to have a very negative impact on the performance.

Operation aborted
Unfortunately, this is where it stopped for me. Family duties interrupted unexpectedly; I had to log off. When I came back an hour later, battle was raging, but it was 17 jumps away. With no moveme channel available to drop me at the scene of the battle (and noticing many testers logging off) I parked my ship, left nullsec Singularity and headed for the less epic world of empire, high sec space on Tranquility. I missed my large fleet battle, but it was a good experience nonetheless. Next mass test I hope to be there again!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Twinity update

I just published an update on Twinity at the Koinup blog. Main topics: Therians welcome to Twinity, an expansion to virtual Berlin, a visit to the Pergamon museum and this mornings' new release.

The Pergamon Museum, Twinity Berlin:
Twinity Berlin: Pergamon Museu...

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Eve Online: arms dealer

In Eve Online, there's a never ending demand for stuff. Pilots need space ships, modules to fit them with, and ammunition - all the time, because ships get destroyed and ammo gets spent in an endless grind that only stops during downtime. Industrialists make a nice living based on this continuous demand, but they are not the only ones. There's also quite a bit of interregional trade going on, and for the past few weeks I have become involved in this part of Eve Online as well.

A while ago I needed a couple of 250mm Compressed Coil Guns: a type of medium sized rail guns which I often use on my mission running ships. On my way to a corp event a dozen jumps out of my home system, I crossed a region boundary, and while checking the local market prices I noticed these railguns were a lot cheaper here than in my home region. Immediately I saw an opportunity for making a profit, and so, on a whim, I became an arms dealer! In this neighbouring region, I bought almost all of these guns I could find for a very decent price, and started to sell them in my home region at a nice profit. After a while I ran out of cheap guns with prices in the neighbouring region rising as well, so I have had to travel further and further to get the guns at a worthwhile price.

Yesterday I found myself scouring through obscure systems, buying a few guns here and some there, creating a small stock to trade with, and that's when I realised this wasn't the way to go, I was wasting my time on petty trade! If I want to be a trader, even if it's a side job, I need to have ample supplies of the item I'm trying to profit off. I need more guns to sell! Yesterday evening, I decided to take my trusted Iteron transport vessel "Daf 95" to Jita and do some serious shopping there. Prices, while not as low as the initial stock I acquired in the neighbour system, are still favourable, so I stockpiled almost a thousand guns. I have since planted them here and there in regional trade hubs, spread over several regions. My prices are reasonable, but my profits still range from 50%-100% per gun if I succeed in selling them at these prices. The top left picture here shows, that this is definitely not a given.

Traveling to Jita, by the way, proved dangerous: on two occasions I was targeted by gate campers, in high sec no less. In both cases I was quick enough to get away before any of them could lock on to me. Afk travel to Jita is definitely not the way to go, that's for sure.. Jump through a gate, align to next gate, and warp away as fast as you can.

In the coming weeks it will become clear if I stand to profit from my first concerted effort at trade. It's a whole new game with new rules!

Yet another Twinity post at Koinup

Now that I am the Koinup blogger covering Twinity, I'm spending much more time on the virtual mirror world. It has been a rewarding experience! Even though I'm following Twinity for over two years now, I must admit: there's more to write about Twinity than I thought. For instance, the new ability to design your own shirts: Twinity Shirt, Koinup style. Fashion design, creating outfits is a very important part of social virtual worlds like Second Life, and it's good something like that is emerging in Twinity as well.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Twinity surfaces in Google Earth.

I have just published another Twinity blog item on the Koinup blog, this time about artist Marco Manray and his mixing of the real and virtual world, using Twinity, Panoramio and Google Earth. A fascinating concept!
Twinity in Google Earth

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Twinity: Dardo Photography Gallery opens

I have just published my second guest blog post at the Koinup blog: Dardo Photography Opens. Tomorrows' opening of Dardo Photography Gallery was a nice opportunity to highlight a few interesting aspects of Twinity: the way Metaversum and the Twinizens are doing events, and the fact that Twinity is a good venue for certain types of art display. Your comments are, as always, welcome.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Second Life: 2.0 beta viewer experiments

The first public beta of the Second Life 2.0 viewer sports some nice improvements. For me the most interesting part, is definitely the Shared Media part.

Back in 2006, 2007 when we were investigating Second Life as a business tool, we sorely missed the ability to easily work with HTML on a prim. Documents, presentations, dynamic content: it was impossible or very nearly so. A few years ago 'HTML on a prim' finally became a reality. A step forward, but it could really only be used to display a static website.

The new 'Shared Media' implementation in the 2.0 beta viewer is much more powerful. As a matter of fact, the viewerr sports a full implementation of WebKit, the open source browser engine. It allows the 2.0 beta viewer to display pretty much anything the average browser can, and as dynamic as the browser too. HTML, flash movies and games, it's all possible.

The media are placed on a specific face of a prim. I created a simple prim, and put a Google Docs presentation on it:
SL2.0: experimenting with Goog...

So far it works fine. I can login to Google Docs and work with the documents available to me. If only this had been possible a few years ago!

I have noticed that access credentials to content in a shared media texture, are stored in Webkit; they are not connected to the prim the media texture is on.
First, I created a prim with a media texture containing a Google Document for my RL Google account; I logged in and used it. Then I deleted the prim, created a new one, and put a Google document for my Sered Woollahra Google account on it. Upon saving it, the message on the media texture said my RL Google account wasn't allowed to view Google Documents owned by Sered Woollahra! I had to logoff and login back to SL to be able to use the other credentials.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Eve Online Tyrannis: a whole universe

CCP surprised most of it's userbase, earlier this week, with the announcement of Eve Online's next expansion: Tyrannis. Slated to be released around the summer, Tyrannis will bring a whole new dimension to Eve Online: planetary exploration. We will be able to survey all those thousands of planets in New Eden, we will exploit the minerals and other treasures to be found through infrastructures we will build. And this will happen not only on the earthlike planets, but on all of them, including the lava planets and the gas giants.

So why is this exciting? Because planetary exploration is a missing link in the current incarnation of the New Eden universe. The planets got a visual upgrade in the Dominion expansion, and they sure look great, but they are at the moment little more than eye candy. How strange, really, that in a simulated universe like Eve Online, you can't do anything to or with a planet! Most of todays' SciFi movies, books or series would be meaningless without functioning planets. Eve Online, so far, has done without, but not for much longer.

Eve Online: Dominion planets

There's precious little concrete information in the Tyrannis devblog but it seems we won't be able to walk on our planets just yet: Incarnation, formerly known as "walking in stations" will have to wait (again) until a later expansion. But Tyrannis is definitely a first step to prepare New Eden for planet bound combat as projected to happen with the new CCP game Dust 514:

In future expansions you will be able to project military force for attack and defense of planetary installations. That will be where DUST 514 will connect with EVE. But DUST 514 will not be coming out at the same time as Tyrannis, so that is at a later date.

A New Eden with functioning, meaningful planets, spotted with industrial complexes owned by Eve Online pilots, and occasionally raided by either Dust 514 mercenaries or rivaling Eve Online corporations, is a much more complete, whole universe than the New Eden we've been enjoying for the past few years. It is more realistic too - insofar something like that can be said from any internet spaceship game.

Add Incarna to the mix, and it gets even better. I can hardly wait to pilot a shuttle through a gas giants' atmosphere, dock up at our refinery station floating there, pop out of the spaceship and head for the bar where a few corp mates are enjoying a well earned drink. Tyrannis lays the groundwork for future expansions where this might very well become possible. Exiting times for an explorer like me!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Twinity releases new version

I am doing a bit of Twinity guestblogging at the Koinup blog, and have just published my first article there: Twinity releases new version. I haven't guest blogged before, it's going to be interesting to see how this works out! Any feedback is welcome, either here or at the Koinup blog.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Second Life's antique beanstalk

After reading Hamlet's item about the Beanstalk, the oldest user created content in Second Life, I decided to pay a visit. In SL you never know for sure whether something will still be there tomorrow, and this is definitely something I wanted to see before it would vanish.

The land the Beanstalk is on, was claimed in 2003 and is group owned. For all group members, the last login date is 'unknown'. Whether the user who created the beanstalk, Steller Sunshine, is still an active SL user I don't know. Pay the beanstalk a visit while it's still there!

Isn't amazing that we consider something created in 2003 to be ancient? Be it a beanstalk in SL or a character in Eve Online: 2003 is prehistoric, almost awe inspiring. And yet it's not even a decade old!