Archive for February, 2013

The Making of a Fighter Pilot

Posted: February 27, 2013 in EVE Related

Good morning, (Sub)Dredditors and (Sub)Dredditor friends!

It is with great pleasure this morning that I come to you and tell you that as of last night, I feel comfortable saying, “I am now a competent interceptor pilot.” It only took me three years of playing this freaking game to get to this point, but I know that I am finally here because of two fleets that happened over the course of the last two days.

Allow me to regale you with my tale…

It began on Monday evening with a call for a defense fleet in NOL-M9. Having not been in a fleet for a while, I was eager to see some action. It wasn’t too long before those who were causing us trouble (and the reason for the fleet forming) were gone, cowering from the combined might of TEST forces.

Still, with a fully formed fleet, people were restless to get some kills and as fortune would have it, our scout had found a fleet of neutral pilots in O-IOAI, just one jump over, who had apparently come through a wormhole. Tasting blood in the water, our fleet of around 37 jumped over to O-I to feast.

Knowing they didn’t stand a chance, the guys from Transmission Lost began to warp around to safe spots inside the system, hoping they could get away.

And here is where I had my first revelation that I no-longer suck at flying interceptors.

We had formed up on one of the gates in the O-I system, when I see on my overhead a stealth bomber uncloak. The FC calls for tackle to burn at him and get a point. Normally, I would have hit my orbit button (always at 500m when I’m flying a ceptor) and prayed I didn’t get blapped on my way to the target. I know this is not how you pilot an interceptor. I’ve known for a long time that they require manual piloting to be flown effectively. I know all about the “spiraling in” technique, and transversal and all that good stuff, I just had no idea how to do it correctly (it used to be a lot trickier when I first started flying interceptors).

Well, thanks to some new UI changes, I have learned that the spiraling technique is now incredibly easy, and I had spent a few days (well… a few minutes, but I figured I had it down) practicing for my next outing.

So of course the stealth bomber had uncloaked so he could drop a bomb. As soon as he uncloaked, I had begun my spiral towards him, and with my MWD on, it wasn’t going to take me long to get there… towards a bomb… with my MWD on. I’m sure you know why that’s a bad idea. I was already on my way when the bomb was unleashed, and I overhear comms light up with folks saying “oh no, you’re going to go splat” or something to that effect. “Shit,” I thought to myself, “here goes another interceptor.”

Well, I guess I was not the only tackle burning for this guy, because it wasn’t me to got hit by the bomb (and the person who did only lost their shields), and even better, because I had manually flown in, I was well clear of the explosion radius. No damage to me! Yay!

So, I dodged a bomb. That was my first inclination that my piloting skills had improved. Normally, bombs have been the bane of my frigate existence. Now, the stealth bomber cloaked back up and got away, but it wasn’t long until we flushed out his friends, and I even got on the kill mail for the Scythe that we caught in a bubble.

This excursion in and of itself had not totally convinced me of my competence, but was enough of a confidence booster to prepare me for the big show, which happened last night.

It was 9pm. I get up fairly early for work, so I normally try to get to bed around 9:30pm. I had finished my PI duties, and was about to wrap it up for the night when Demotress sends a ping out for a suicide frig swarm with special plans. I look at the clock. I look at the ping. Suicide frig swarm? How long could it last? I figured I could probably stay up until 10:30 or 11pm without too much trouble. No way a suicide frig swarm would last that long, right?

So I hop on mumble, join the fleet, and head to the staging POS with my Ares, Beautiful Muffin.

A quick note about Beautiful Muffin. I give ships I fly regularly a specific name, followed my a number to let me know how many of them have met their fate in the depths of space. For example, my solo pvp Maulus is currently “Slave IX.” Slave VIII met it’s untimely end at the hands of Goons. For a long time, I flew a taranis, lovingly called “Terroranis Wrex” (no rigs? WTF was wrong with me…). And of course, my special love, a viator called ” The Centurium Pidgeon 3″ (which has no killboard link because I haven’t lost a blockade runner in years). Since joining Dreddit, however, I’ve found that I’m much more useful as a fleet tackle, so I’ve switched it up to flying an Ares. This Ares has been good to me. But. I hadn’t thought about this change much when I made it, so I did not have a lot of time to think of a clever, yet fitting name. Beautiful Muffin was something my friends and I came up with in our teenage years as an insulting name for something that could trash you (in our case, a suped up Volkswagon Beetle, painted bright pink with a mural flowers, and enough horsepower to beat a Ferrari). The name is strictly so I can say;

“You have been vanquished by Beautiful Muffin.”

For some reason, I had gotten into a fleet at the beginning of the month in “Beautiful Muffin II,” which is odd because I normally go in order. Beautiful Muffin II had no part in the kills I linked about (that was all Beautiful Muffin I). I must have left the first one in another station. The second one, as you can see by that link right above, did not destroy a single ship, and met a fast end, once again at the hands of The Goons.

This is all important for what happens at the end.

After dealing with some station bubbles, the fleet is formed up on the NOL staging POS and ready to begin our super secret mission. Demotress, the FC, links out destination in fleet. VFK-IV. Capitol system of The Goons. Yes. Surely this could not last long.

We left NOL with close to 40 pilots, all frigs with a few destroyers for good measure. We burn with reckless abandon towards the Goon capitol. Despite a few obvious spais in the fleet, the trip there was surprisingly calm. Not once did anyone try and stop us, making the 30 something jump a fairly tedious affair.

But we made it, and wasted no time bubbling Mittanigrad. I was in the CFC myself for a few months, and remember friendly trips in and out of Mittanigrad. Now I had returned as an aggressor, a hungry aggressor who would be fed. Yes, Mittanigrad would feed me it’s morsels.

We actually had a few more kills in VFK from people undocking, but I was still getting used to working my MWD while guarding an undock, and would often shoot out of targeting range in my attempts to catch targets. We spent a good 30 minutes on the VFK undock hoping to catch more, but nothing much came of it except two Archons who wanted to play station games. There was also another problem…

We were still alive. We had figured this would be a suicide mission in tiny ships that would welp up against an unstoppable Goon defense fleet, and here we were, approaching 11pm and Beautiful Muffin hadn’t been touched.

With nothing but station games for us in VFK, Demotress decided we would roam into dangerous territory until we found an opponent worthy of blowing us up.

Onward, to Venal! That was our plan. Surely we could find a fight there!

And that’s when it happened, the good fight we were waiting for. We freeburn towards our destination, and as I’m 5 jumps out of VFK, Demotress  excitedly chimes in over comms telling us all to get back into 3OAT-Q. We had caught some battleships.

I jump back into 3oA and warp to Demotress, where I see on grid 2 navy Dominix battleships, a scorpion, and at least 5 other cruiser sized ships (I forget what they were flying). Demotress was right next to them, so it didn’t take long before I was orbiting under the guns of our first target. I’ve got three points on him myself, with blasters shooting away and my small nos draining its cap. The other fleet is panicking to eliminate as many of us as possible. They had 3 battleships and at least 5 cruiser sized ships. We had lost people since we had first gotten to VFK, and our fleet was only sitting at around 25. We fully expected to lose this battle, but Demotress was determined to at least get the Navy Dominix I linked above.

The Domi goes down, and Demotress calls the next target as the scorpion. It was while we were whittling away at the scorpion’s shields the other side decided they couldn’t win, and began to evacuate while leaving their pointed buddies to burn. The scorpion goes down, and the final navy Domi is left on the battlefield.

After the Domi is called as primary, I see a yellow box start to flicker on my screen as I burn towards our final target. “Crap,” I thought,” guess this is how Beautiful Muffin ends.”

Bam!

Shields gone.

Bam!

30% armor.

Here we go.

Woosh!

Miss.

Woosh!

Miss.

I had made it under the guns, and was orbiting comfortably at 500 as I watched our final victim succumb to the combined fire of 20 other frigates. With 30% armor, Beautiful Muffin had survived the skirmish.

After much rejoicing about how what had just happened should not have happened, we moved on. We roamed around Venal a little, still looking for someone to kill us. We stopped in VG-6CH to kill this guy, but other than that there was no one to be found.

It was about 11:45 pm at this point, and with everyone tired, and still about 20 of us left, we made our way into low-sec where the others decided to have a thunderdome to make for a quick trip home.

But I just couldn’t do it. After everything I’ve been through with Beautiful Muffin, I could not just throw her away for the sake of a quick trip home.

So I docked up in station, where Beautiful Muffin is now, and will keep her at 30% armor as a reminder of this awesome roam. I’ll jump clone back to NOL this evening, but leave Beautiful Muffin in that low-sec station somewhere close to Vale of the Silent. I think she’s earned the right to retire. Maybe one day I’ll find myself up north in need of a reliable interceptor, but until that time, enjoy your retirement, you most Beautiful of Muffins.

Until next time,

Happy hunting, everyone!

– JRD

P.S. Oh! Also, someone was awesome enough to FRAPs this whole roam. You can find the video here. The fight with the battleships happens around 1 hour and 2 minutes in.

Boots on the Ground Episode 01

Posted: February 25, 2013 in Dust Related

Good morning, (Sub)Dredditors and (Sub)Dredditor friends!

As promised last week, Subdreddit media aficionado Starfire Revo lead the charge in producing some fan-made television for your entertainment consumption needs, with yours truly as one of the guests, along with some more Dust names that you may recognize. I was joined by Subdreddit Warlord and Fearless Leader, dent308 as well as Kane Spero, leader of The Imperfects, a highly regarded corp and current tournament champions. Fellow Subdredditor Horus Forge helped me rep the Subdreddit name, and Cerebral Wolf of Goonswarm joined with some great viewpoints on where we can expect the meta game to go. That’s enough of an intro, I think. We had a really great discussion on where we think Dust is heading, so I encourage everyone to give it a listen. Now, without further adieu, I give you…

BOOTS ON THE GROUND: S01E01

I’d actually like to take this opportunity to expand on a few ideas I threw out during the show, but if you haven’t watched it yet I’ll try and give some context. It’s been a while since I’ve been on a podcast, and as a writer I think it’s a tad easier for me to get my points across in text as opposed to an impromptu conversation.

So something that I brought up sparked a lot of conversation during the show, and I was quite surprised this was an idea that the others hadn’t been thinking of as a possibility. This is the idea of persistent battlegrounds (i.e. the districts we’ll be fighting over). I brought up the idea that mercs should be able to spawn in a district at any time, even if a battle is not going on, as long as their corp owns that district. Apparently, this was a new idea to many of my fellow guests, and I found this surprising because I always assumed Dust would have persistent maps we could run around on if we owned them.

Maybe it’s just my EVE way of thinking, but if we own a star system, we can go there at any time. More importantly, so can our enemies, if they can make it there. Dust being an MMOFPS, I just never imagined we’d be forever stuck in our quarters unless there were bads attacking our stuffs.

This is even more important for the idea of a “home-field advantage.” Our capital system of K-6 has one station in it above a barren planet. I don’t even remember what planet it is (number wise… we can’t name them in EVE). But when Dust is fully implemented and ready to go, I always imagined that the pilots would dock in the station above the planet, and our Dust bunnies would be in merc quarters stationed on the capital district of that planet. K-6 being our “capitol system,” with “K-6000 Pilots in Dreddit” being our “capitol station,” I don’t think it would be too far of a stretch for us to have a “capitol district” that would be just as familiar to Dust bunnies as Washington, DC is to USA armed service members. Heck, this would be a great way to begin the introduction of city building on planets, which I’ll get to in a moment with my PI thoughts.

Anyway, the important part of this whole thing is that any district owned by a corp that has CRUs or other clone services should allow corp members to spawn on it at any time as long as the defender limit isn’t reached. So, for the upcoming build that will allow for 24v24 matches, if nothing changes between now and the time we have districts in null (which I assume won’t be the case, but for simplicity’s sake, we’ll say this is the limit), you’d be able to spawn up to 24 individual players on a given district at any time you’d like.

This would be great for squads to practice tactics together, as well as for entire corps to get a feeling for the maps that they have important resources on. This will give them that home field advantage for when other corps or alliances begin to eye their precious resources and start dropping mercs in hopes of conquering their planets.

Which brings me to my next point. If you’ve been following my blog, you know that I dabble a bit in PI. PI, as it stands now, could be a way to “Seed the Universe” in an awesome, player generated way. We didn’t go into this much in the podcast, but I had a long drive to think about things after the show, and one of the things I came up with is PI system that heavily links Dust and EVE players.

Imagine this: You want to get started in the PI field, knowing that with the arrival of Dust, planetary districts have changed the mechanics a bit, and added new resources important to the production of Dust equipment. You’ve got yourself a few planetary command centers, and are scouring your local systems for a free spot (I’ll get that that in a moment). Finding a planet you’d like to set up operations on, you load up the planetary view we’re all familiar with.

Only this time, the scan option is not there. Instead, you see 17 different districts, 15 of which already have command centers on them, meaning you can’t place a command center on a district that already has one. Hey! PI suddenly got a little more competitive. Having people have to compete for a spot may even open up an incredibly deep meta game, where you support you colleagues openly, but you have your eyes set on a particularly lucrative district a friend of yours has (of course, we’d never do this to our Subdreddit bros). Your friend wonders to you openly about why he’s constantly having to deal mercs being contracted to target his system specifically. I can just imagine all the sweet sweet meta that would come from this.

Moving on.

You select one of the available districts to build on, and suddenly the planetary view zooms into the district and you are presented with an exact copy of the map that Dust bunnies would play on, if they were invading that district. No one has built anything here (obviously, that’s why you can now build here), so there are no structures, just a randomly generated terrain piece that CCP has been talking about in their whole “Seeding the Universe” idea.

However, now the scan tool is back, and instead of scanning the entire planet for resources, it scans this map and presents them in a similar fashion as when you’re scanning entire planets. All the resources a planet has should appear somewhere on the district when you go to scan for them (I suppose we could relegate specific resources across the planet as we do now, meaning some districts would have access to more resources than others… which would be even more interesting to the meta game).

Once you get an idea for where all the resources are, it’s time to start building. We’ve got command centers, resource extraction units, storage facilities, launch pads and factories already in PI. If we could get Dust models of these buildings, placing them would be just like placing them in PI now, except we’d be placing them directly on maps that Dust bunnies will be playing on. Perhaps important structures like factories become the “A, B, C” capture point objectives we see now on the maps. Not only should you be able to purchase these structures on the open market (instead of them currently just building themselves on planets), but we should also have access to CRUs, Supply Depots, turrets and other Dust structures. Mercs could spawn at either the command center, or a CRU, and you as the owner of the district could place certain restrictions on who can and can’t spawn there (your entire alliance, only those from your corp, only those you contract, etc…) You could freely place these structures anywhere you choose on the map. Here we are, having EVE players literally building the maps that Dust players will be battling over.

Honestly, this is how I always saw Dust going. It’s also how I kind of imagined CCPs vision panning out, but then I am not privy to the inner workings of CCP, so maybe they’re going in a different direction. Still, I think a system like this would not be terribly difficult to implement, given what we have now, and it could go a long way in not only giving the Dust mercs a sense of purpose, but also helping to fix null with the whole farms and fields idea.

Now, I know this is already really long, but there was one more point I wanted to touch on that got brought up during the talk show.

The War Barge.

On the show, we talked about the idea of being able to drop CRUs onto an enemy planet to allow your mercs to spawn there and make raids targeting enemy infrastructure. I also said I thought this should extend to the MCC, and the MCC should be an in game item that can be purchased and placed into a large hull (maybe a blockade runner being able to fit one), and launched onto a planet the same way you would launch a CRU, except the only limit to the clones in the MCC is how many you want to buy. This means the MCC can act as a mobile base for a full team of mercs to land on a district, then once that district is taken over, they can move the MCC to an adjacent district to continue their campaign. These battles would continue until the attacker has conquered however many districts they want, or until the defenders have successfully destroyed the MCC.

When talking about launching MCCs from space, Cerebral Wolf brought up the important point, “but that’s what the war barge is for.” To which I asked the question, “Yes, but how does the war barge interact with the EVE client?”

“That is the big question,” Cerebral agreed. Technically, the war barge is a Dust corp item. It’s the corp’s main base of operations, according to CCP, and it’s something that’s going to be flying around the systems of New Eden that will allow the Dust mercs to get from place to place.

But no one knows how it’s going to be flown. Will EVE pilots be able to interact (i.e. blow it up) with it? I don’t think you’ll find an EVE pilot who thinks we should have untargetable, unkillable, freighter sized ships zooming all over the place, so how can we handle and implement this war barge idea?

So, what I’m about to propose is probably fairly radical, and I’m eager to get some feedback from you, dear readers, on what you think about this.

Let’s scrap the war barge. We haven’t seen anything about it in months, and to be honest, with the work CCP is putting in on basic gameplay, I’m guessing there hasn’t been much developed on it. So let’s forget about a large ship in space that can be flown by Dust mercs. I think that’s just too much for us to deal with at the moment.

But let’s keep the idea of the war barge.

The idea being, “a large ship that’s constantly online and provides a mobile base from which merc corps can stage from.” Anybody else know of large ships that are constantly online (or… ok, never docked…)?

That’s right, capitals!

Let’s make capital ships the equivalent of war barges. Any capital ship will do. A corp can choose anything from a Nyx to an Avatar as their “flag ship.” The interiors, where the Dust bunnies will spend most of their time, can be different for each ship (and probably fun for the level designers to design around). Yes, this would require the Dust corp to have a capital pilot. In fact, they should probably have several, and have a rotating list of pilots so that no matter what time you’re on, there’s someone who can fly the capital to wherever you want to invade. Chances are, these “capital war barges” will spend most of their time safely inside of POS shields, but when it’s time to go to war, they’ll join the rest of the fleet in order to lead the ground invasion.

Yes, this requires more of a Dust / Eve connection. Yes, this means that if a corp wants to get a foothold in null, they’re going to need a capital. There’s the operative definition, the indefinite article *A,* capital. It’s a large investment for a Dust corp, but remember it’s only something you need if you’re playing the null game. An alliance who wants to play the null game must invest a massive amount of income on an entire capital fleet. I think it’s not too much of a stretch to require a single capital for a Dust corp to enter the null game.

Alright, I’m done. If you made it to the end of this post, many thinks for entertaining my silly ideas. It was great fun being on Boots on the Ground, and I hope to see you guys again on the show sometime soon!

Until next time,

Happy hunting, everyone!

– JRD

Why Am I so Bad?

Posted: February 20, 2013 in EVE Related

Good morning, (Sub)Dredditors and (Sub)Dredditor friends!

Yesterday evening, the wifey was quite deeply involved in the homeworks (ah, the joys of going back to school… so glad it’s not me) in the living room, so I retreated to the bedroom and the computer so as not to disturb her srs bsns. So there’s not much here for you Dust Bunnies specifically, but for those of you who are interested in exactly how bad I am at this space ship, I have some EVE activities to report.

I’m sure most of you (our enemies included) are aware that we’ve moved shop from our home system of K-6 to a more Delve centrally located system so as to faster respond to the invasions we’ve been seeing since the whole fiasco with the CFC. Now, at 15 million SP, Cawfield is not in a position to fly any of the doctrine battleships. I’m quite close, only 8 days from a T1 Foxcat Apocalypse, but still 29 days out from a T1 Rokhtrain doctrine. That’s fine, though because I’m totally space poor and I prefer to fly interceptors in our fleets anyway (might as well take advantage of the low cost clones while I can, right?)

There was a jabber ping for a fleet that went up, and since I hadn’t been in a fleet in a while I was eager to join. I hopped on Mumble as the fleet was getting set up and start up the EVE client.

Oh crap. It’s patch day.

So by the time I finish downloading and applying the patch, the fleet is already doing it’s thing, and my interceptor is still in K-6. Our staging system is technically only two or three jumps from K-6 thanks to jump bridges, but Goons have been camping the D-3 gate (the direction you need to go for the short way) on an almost constant basis it seems, so that was not an option.

Everyone moved their ships in fleet ops over a week ago, while I was busy shooting folks in the face on the planets below our systems (or so I wish… more like planets in random pointless high sec systems, but I digress…). It’s not a huge deal, because interceptors are incredibly difficult to catch, and seeing as how I’m flying an Ares now, there aren’t too many ships that can get a hold of me. Though, 40+ man gate camps with similar types of interceptors, bubbles, and destroyers would still ruin my day, so I had to take the back way around (something like 11 jumps ish).

Obviously it was too late to join the fleet by the time I got to our staging system, so once I got there I made the decision to install a jump clone and then hop back to K-6 to set up more industry stuff. I’m not a carebare so much as I just hate ratting and need some kind of income coming in. Though, admittedly, I’m really bad at industry, too. This is probably why my wallet is now sitting at 200,000,000 (it was 300,000,000 but I spent a lot last night, and I’ll tell you why soon).

Turns out there’s not a whole lot for me to do back in K-6 either, but at least I’ve got the jump clone in our staging system, so next time a fleet goes up, I can just jump over there and hop in.

Now, with the new ship balances in place, I have developed a new found love for the Maulus frigate. The Maulus has to be my favorite ship model in the game. Being a huge Boba Fett fanboy when I was younger (who wasn’t, really?) the similarities with his Slave I are uncanny. The Maulus totally looks like a Gallente-fied Slave I, and though I’ve never heard the designers mention it (for legal reasons, I’m sure… I’m looking at you Lucas Arts….), it’s fairly obvious, I think, where the inspiration has come from.

It also helps that the Maulus has become a pretty effective solo pvp platform (or so I’ve been told). This is good, I think, because I have never soloed before, and it seems to me that if I want to get better at the whole combat thing, there’s only one way to do it… go out and get blown up.

And man, have I been getting blown up.

In honor of Boba Fett, I name all my Maulus’s Slave (#). This is also helpful because it lets me know how many times I have failed utterly. Yesterday evening, Slave VII met its demise at the hands of the Goon gate camp. You’ll notice it was me, in my T1 Maulus, verses 4 T2 frigates. Given my set up (long range kiter / drone boat, with a long point to hold them in place while my Hobgoblin 2s go at it), this is obviously not an ideal situation, and had I seen this going in, I would not have engaged (duh).

So this is how it went down. I had hopped into Slave VII because K-6 had both neuts and Goons running around, normally with only 1 or 2 in the system at a time. I was hoping I could catch someone by themselves and get my first solo kill. I warp to my perch off the D-3 gate, because that’s where all the bads come in, and I watch as Rad Lalaxen is dropping core sister probes in his Helios about 100km off the gate. He cloaks up when he sees me, and I see the probes disappear.

“Core probes?” I thought, “Not combat? Hrm… why is this Goon probing my system?” I call him out in local, but sadly Rad is not a chit chatter like myself. I figured he had warped cloaked off to a safe spot to bookmark signatures for future gangking or something like that. I continue my guard duties, warping around the system looking for bads.

It’s obvious now, that Rad never warped off, and seeing where my perch was, must have uncloaked and burned for it while I was checking the other gates, because he was at least a good 300km away from it when he cloaked up.

This didn’t scare me in the least, as I have a Helios of my own, and I am quite aware that they are not combat ships (though, from my own perspective my skills at fitting them are negligible, so mine are pretty much only for probing).

So I warp back to my perch, and it isn’t too long before I see Rad uncloak not 2km from my position. In retrospect, I should have immediately warped off, because my whole set up is designed to approach from 120km away, and move in on the target without them being able to target me. But, “It’s a Helios,” I thought, and he’s in blaster range (which I normally only reserve for fending off drones that are after me), “I can take him.”

I forgot the first PvP lesson I ever learned in EVE, waaaaay back when I first started in the Winter of 2009. I was in a small low-sec alliance in Aridia when the original Goonswarm was disbanded and lost all sovereignty of Delve. They were migrating through our space from Delve to… Syndicate? maybe… wherever they moved to, they moved through our space. That’s when I learned, “Goons never travel alone.”

Also the giant gate camp on the other side of the D-3 gate should have tipped me off.

In any case, the Helios points me, and I point the Helios. He launches a drone, and I launch my 4 hobgoblin IIs. I totally think I can win this fight.

Then I watch as my overview points out 3 new bads on grid. That would be the two interceptors and the assault frigate you see on the killboard link. Seeing as how there was no warping off, that was pretty much all she wrote. Interceptors by themselves are one of the few ships I won’t engage with the Maulus because their speed trumps my fit, and as you can see, being close range with an assault frigate also causes me to have a bad time.

I was able to warp back to station in my pod, thankfully, but it was the last Maulus I had saved up, and K-6 had been dry of that hull for a long time. Luckily, someone had brought in about 10 hulls recently, so I bought up 5 more and the modules to fit them. I am determined to get a solo kill now, damn it!

Anyway, that’s why I’m out 100 mil now. I reeeeally like this set up, and I think it can be effective once I learn the basics of solo pvp (I learned with Slave VI that once I start to get in point range, I need to turn the MWD off, because if I accidently fall in range, especially against a destroyer, I’m insta-popped). In this situation, I learned that I shouldn’t sit still on my perch.

So, lessons learned last night. Now I’ve got Slaves VIII, IX, X, XI, & XII all ready to go to learn more cold and harsh lessons in a cold and harsh universe.

Until next time,

Happy hunting, everyone!

– JRD

The Times Are a Changin’

Posted: February 19, 2013 in Dust Related, EVE Related

Good morning, (Sub)Dredditors and (Sub)Dredditor friends!

My title for today’s post is probably a little melodramatic. It’s not like today’s going to change things too drastically. For those who don’t know (maybe many of my Dust Bunny friends), today is patch day and the release of Retribution 1.1. With it comes some ship balancing, but more importantly we’re getting a new module for ships specifically targeted to you armor tankers out there.

The ancillary armor repair (AAR) module has dropped, and many people (such as myself) have shifted their PI efforts to produce the nanite repair paste (NRP) that the AAR is going to use for fuel. This has caused the cost of NRP to skyrocket in anticipation of the increased demand, and many in the EVE economic discussion board believe this to be a bubble. Over the past month, the cost of NRP has gone from it’s normal 22,000 ISK per unit, up to as high as 40,000 ISK. The folks who are saying it’s a bubble point out the fact that Jita prices have dropped to about 35,000 as of the time of me writing this blog, and who knows, they might be right. I’ve seen some claim that the AAR hasn’t been terribly useful on the test server, so perhaps the AAR will not see the use I’m hoping it will.

But then, I think the people on the market board bluff a lot.

I wish I could find the blog (I read most of them, if you’re on Eve Bloggers, I probably read you) I read last week, but a quick Google search isn’t coming up with much (and I actually have some work to do today, so I’m a tad short on time to find it), but the gist of it was that the AAR module allows for some absolutely ridiculous DPS tanking. Something like an incursus being able to tank over 1,000 DPS. The author of said particular post basically made the case for it being OP. I hope he’s right. If not, meh, I’ll just go back to producing coolant. I only use two of my five planets to make NRP (those two used to produce coolant), and the other three are still chugging along making mechanical parts. I figure it’s always safe to have a diverse portfolio.

While my EVE activities this weekend were focused on gettin’ that skrilla, Dust provided for a welcome release from number crunching.

Subdreddit has been super active lately as we work on integrating our newbros into this new and complex shooter. We, as a corp, have been producing some great content (if I do say so myself) over at Subdreddit.com in the form of videos and tutorials and such. We’ve got that website and this blog going to keep our people up to date on what’s been happening.

Another cool thing you can look forward to is Subdreddit’s new Dust talk show! Multimedia mastermind Starfire Revo has offered to host this talk show, and while we were hoping to film the first one this weekend, a few schedules couldn’t line up so we’ve postponed it for this coming Saturday at 2pm EST (I think there were talks about having it live streamed… that would be pretty fun). Starfire will be your host, and for the first episode you can expect our Fearless Leader Dent, Corp Officers and Morale Instigators Talos Alomar and Horus Forge, Dropship Pilot Extraordinaire Baal Roo, and myself, the blog guy (someone suggested the title Propaganda Master… I like it.)

I’m not sure where we’re hosting it at the moment, but you can be sure that come next Monday, I’ll have a link to it in my post.

Now, for a little action report.

Yesterday evening I had the pleasure of squading up with Rynx Sinfar, a beta vet and prolific Subdredditor, along with some new folks I hadn’t met, Knarf Black and Friendly Woodsman. Woodsman and myself were both logibros, but I have to admit… he’s got a more approachable name for a Dust Doctor.

“Excuse me sir, it seems I’ve happened to have gotten my arm blown off in the most recent artillery barrage. Could you point me in the direction of our doctors?”

“Of course, my good man! We have two available at the moment, would you rather see the Friendly Woodsman, or the Doomprofit?”

It’s kind of a no-brainer.

Rynx is a spectacular heavy, and he had brought our big guns to the action, while Knarf rounded out our combat capabilities in an assault suit (and also did a fantastic job as squad leader). Besides the fact that my corp mates are great at what they do in and of themselves, I think this mix of dropsuits is particularly effective. We were constantly in the top spots on our team, and we didn’t lose a single match (even when we came up against a SVER True Blood Madrugar… you guys love those things, don’t you?)

This mix works out well for a number of reasons. When we were all together, Woodsman and myself could keep both our reps on Rynx the heavy, allowing him to step into the forefront and soak up a massive amount of damage, while Knarf covered the rear and called out squad orders. There was a great moment when the entire enemy team spawned on a CRU because it was their only option available, and while they were all rallying up around it, Knarf called down an orbital, decimating at least 75% of their team, while flushing the rest out and into the path of Rynx’s heavy machine gun. I think we as a squad made their whole team respawn in a matter of about 10 seconds. Nice work, dudes!

Another reason I really like this mix is that it allowed us to be a little more flexible in what points we wanted to capture. I’m sure most of us are no strangers to the schizophrenic nature of blueberries, so tactical decisions fell onto our shoulders. With our setup, we were able to comfortable split the team in two, with one logi following our assault guy, and one logi following our heavy guy. If necessary, we could easily split up and take two objectives at a time, making sure our more combat focused brethren were constantly repped, repaired and resupplied.

This was so effective, in fact, that at one point in the previously mentioned matched, the entire enemy team decided we needed to be taken out. Delta was the only blue letter, and us four were hunkered down around it determined not to let it fall into enemy hands. This was actually a few minutes after that orbital I talked about, and the enemy had spawned on Charlie with the intent of bringing their entire team down on our last letter.

Not only were we able to maintain control of Delta from the onslaught of enemy spawns, but we distracted them so much that a few blueberries were able to capture Alpha and Bravo with ease due to lack of anyone guarding them.

All in all, I’d say it was a good game.

Until next time, faithful followers

Happy hunting!

Gettin’ ‘Round Town

Posted: February 15, 2013 in Dust Related

Good morning, (Sub)Dredditors, and (Sub)Dredditor friends!

Yesterday evening I was able to listen to a bit of the Podside Podcast, a welcome respite from the commotion of the D.C. metro system.

During the discussion, the topic of how Dust mercenaries would actually travel around New Eden came up, and it’s really got me thinking on how CCP plans to implement this system. I am not a game designer myself, so I don’t have any notion that whatever I may suggest is a good idea at all, but as a player of the game I have come up with a few ideas I would like to see put into it.

Much has been said about the idea of the “War Barge,” that it would be a Dust corps base of operations, and where they staged from. Honestly, I can kind of see this being the equivalent of a null sec station. Stations are where pilots stage out of, and it’s an alliance (or large corp) asset that requires many people working together to actually create. I suppose the big difference here is that the war barges are supposed to be mobile.

The thing about that is, how on earth will it be implemented? These war barges are going to be hopping around our systems, in space. Who will be the pilot? How will it move? What about those on the war barge? If it’s attacked, they can do nothing but sit, watch, and then die in a bubble along with all the stuff they keep on the war barge (which, if it’s like a station, could be a significant amount of assets).

The war barge should also be piloted by Dust mercs, it just makes sense. The barges are their babies, like the stations are ours. But does the PS3 even have the capabilities to have a ship flying around in an Eve client? I really have no idea, but it sounds like such a monumental task, I just can’t foresee us having actual control of our Dust barges any time real soon. It may be a thing that can only be handled on the new PS4, and seeing as how I just bought a PS3 for Dust, I don’t know how long it will be before I really want to throw down on that new PS4 (plus, it’s not coming out until later this year at the earliest). I imagine something like the war barge may have to wait until Dust has fully moved to the PS4, meaning the PS3 users are going to have to account for less than 1% of all total Dust mercs.

Who knows how long that’s going to take.

So I’ve come up with some ideas for moving Dust mercs around, specifically for null sec operations, that won’t require a war barge, but still gives us a sense of place and distance that is currently lacking in the Dust build. This idea also hinges on the other idea I had that the districts we’re fighting over in low and null have to be persistent. Given the opportunity (through CRUs or other means), you should be able to spawn on any district, at any time no matter what the situation is (as long as the number of defenders haven’t capped, so, going by current games of 16 vs 16, if there are 16 corp members spawned on a district, you wouldn’t be able to spawn there). Maps can’t be like they are now, where they are only activated when a fight is going on. There’s just no way we’re going to be able to get a sense of place if that’s the only way to spawn on a map.

Assuming planetary districts are persistent areas we can interact with and build on whether there is a fight going on or not, I’ve got some ideas for foot troop movement that I hope aren’t too terribly difficult to implement.

I know a lot has been said about keeping both Eve and Dust as separate games,  playable on their own without having to rely very heavily on each other, but I think we need to be honest with ourselves about this. If we really want true consequences for our actions in interfering with each other between games, at least in null sec, I think the two games should have some strong connections. If two alliances go to war with each other, and one alliance chooses to use Dust Bunnies, and the other does not, the alliance who chose to use mercenaries should win every time (without some truly miraculous events, either stupid mistakes or ingenious tactics).

So, in order to have real troop movement, we need two things, both of which are already currently working already in both Eve and Dust. The first thing we need is a piece of equipment that will allow your mercs to spawn where you want them to. Right now, we call these pieces of equipment CRUs. There is also another piece of equipment that allows spawning and is mobile called the MCC, which currently is what our skirmish games revolve around.

The second thing we need is a delivery system, which is also already in the game. Eve pilots have been delivering hot molten death to their enemies all month!

The system I’m envisioning utilizes both of these things, and can provide two different kinds of invasions.

The first kind of invasion is more focused on smaller corps, who favor hit and run tactics. What you would do, is buy a bunch of CRUs and place them into the cargo hold of your favorite covert ops ship (any ship, really, but let’s think tactically here). Yesterday, I did some quick calculations (I was an English major, so they’re probably wrong) and came up with the idea that a CRU is, in reality, about 12 cubic meters. My blockade runner, The Centurion Pigeon 3, can fit 3,750 cubic meters of cargo when it’s fit for null sec travel. That means I could put 312 CRUs in it’s cargo hold.

That’s probably too much. So the volume of CRUs would have to be inflated to balance how many CRUs a cargo hold can carry.

So now I’ve got a cargo hold full of CRUs in the Centurion Pigeon, let’s say 15 of them are in there. Doing what a blockade runner does best, I’m able to infiltrate past enemy gate camps and deep into their territory. We’ve chosen a tactically advantageous system to invade, and The Centurion Pigeon 3 is hiding cloaked up in said system, which is deserted. And then begins the invasion.

If I have 15 CRUs, that’s at least 15 districts I can warp to and then drop the CRUs from orbit. I can place one in each district, or I can put 2 or 3 on a district to make sure my foot troops will be able to spawn and attack the district, with the idea of taking it over. Let’s say that, while there are no enemy spaceships in the system, the evil spais in TEST have relayed the intel back to enemy alliance command that Dreddit plans an foot invasion in a system, so they’ve got their own mercs (maybe hired?) already there and waiting. When the CRUs are dropped from orbit, they can see them hurtling down from the sky (like they do now), to give them an idea as to where the CRUs landed (remember, if you don’t control the CRU, it doesn’t show up on your map).

Now, another quick caveat. No more red zones. At least not in null districts. We’ve all zoomed out to see how big these maps actually are, and I imagine these maps are supposed to represent an entire district. If you get to the edge of the map, you should still have the option of going further, but what happens is you would load the next map that represents the planetary district adjacent to the one you were in. It’d be kind of like loading a new zone, for those of you who ever played Everquest (oh my God… that was so long ago…). If there is no district adjacent in that direction, then I’m fine with an invisible wall.

So the invasion is on, and we’ve decided on a particular planet in this system that needs conquering (or, perhaps this kind of invasion would not allow for the capturing of enemy buildings and resources, just their destruction, and in order to capture it, you’d need your MCC, which I’ll get to in a moment). Because the drops are random (hey, shooting from orbit is difficult, we’re lucky to hit the right district!), we want to drop 3 CRUs in each district, just in case the defenders are able to get to one or two of them and hack them, just as they currently work. However, as soon as the friendly CRUs are online, our army of already ready mercs sees the option to spawn there from their merc quarters (this would need some kind of interface), and can then join the battle instantly. Assuming I’m able to drop all 15 CRUs across, say, 5 districts, we’ve now got 80 Subdredditors causing havoc on the planet below. Sounds like fun.

But CRU’s are weak, and easily hacked to transfer ownership to the other team. That’s why this kind of invasion should be used more to disrupt the industry and day to day workings of your enemy alliance. Chances are, if the defenders are smart, their whole strategy revolves around getting to those CRUs and hacking them. If there are no more friendly CRUs in the district, that part of the invasion is over, and the defenders have won (for today…).

Now, how about a full blown Sov war? Instead of a stealthy covert ops deploying CRUs behind enemy lines, now we’ve got a whole fleet of 500 battleships, battle cruisers, and all sorts of other fun ships one finds in a giant fleet. We’re truly at war now, and war requires taking of the enemy systems and resources.

Enter, the MCC. I am not sure exactly how big the MCC is, in comparison to Eve ships (ugh, no sites put the axis info up?), but the delivery system would be similar to the CRUs, except it would requiring being fit to a specialized ship. I’m not sure which ships this would best be suited for (Blockade Runner? =D), but I’m sure it would require a bit of discussion.

I’m sure everyone remembers that really awesome cinematic trailer from last year’s fan fest, that also happens to be the intro movie that plays every time we start up the game. Remember when the Amarr ship was being shot at by a bunch of rifters, then it drops off this kind of… drop ship into the atmosphere where 6 heavies come flying out to activate their inertia dampeners and looks super badass?

I imagine the MCC delivery system to be really similar to that.

Now! The MCC is a whole different story from the war barge. The war barge needs to interact directly with Eve ships while it is in control by Dust folks. That’s a difficult thing.

MCCs, on the other hand, shouldn’t. Like CRUs, while in space they would be at the mercy of the pilot carrying them, but once deployed on planet, then it would be awesome if someone in a command dropsuit were able to control the movement of the MCC, where it drops cover fire (because it should have some weapons to help out its invasion force), and what command centers it docks with in order to take control of the district.

Because the MCC cannot be hacked, like a CRU, and is much more difficult to destroy, this is the piece of equipment you bring when you expect to be taking control of the planet.

So there you have it. This was what I was kicking around in my head for the last few days. And, if you just scrolled to the bottom because you didn’t feel like reading all the words I bled for you, you’re a horrible person.

But here’s the TL;DR.

TL;DR: MCCs and SRUs should be Eve assets that Eve pilots can place on planetary districts, and it is these items that Dust Bunnies spawn from in order to move from place to place in greater New Eden.

Until next time, happy hunting everyone!

– JRD

Why We Fight

Posted: February 13, 2013 in Dust Related

So an interesting little discussion popped up in the Subdreddit subreddit on Reddit (yay. tongue twisters!) yesterday after my post, and it’s something that got me thinking… (the whole conversation can be viewed here)

Why are we fighting?

Esteemed Subdreddit merc, Atticus Vandolius, made a note of the comments I made in regards to the ISK grind on yesterday’s post. He is in much the same situation as me, having possession of, and the ability to use more advanced equipment, yet is pretty much ending up at an ISK lost on almost every battle. It’s the same for me if I end up dying more than 3 or 4 times in a single battle.

The difference that Atticus points out, is that when we play EVE, and get access to more advanced modules, those modules and hulls normally keep us from dying in action. That’s kind of the trade off. You pay a whole lot of a cash to get equipment that will keep you alive. If you’re dumb, and get yourself into a situation where your new fancy ship with it’s new fancy modules cannot handle the situation they’ve been placed in (PvP in a PvE ship, for example), well, that’s your own fault. You should be aware of the limitations and capabilities of your ship. Same goes for us in our drop suits.

The thing about it is, if you are smart, and you use your ship wisely, it will not end up being salvaged by your enemy. The same cannot be said for Dust.

No matter how much ISK you pour into your fitting, chances are you’re going to die at least once during the match. Now, yes, I have seen quite a few heavies go 25/1 or 28/0, but these are not regular humans, and should not be the standard. Plus, a good heavy with a good logi backing them up shouldn’t be going down anyway. Now, a good logi, on the other hand, is quite a prime target. This is what I blame most of my ISK loss on, anyway.

So, with how one acquires ISK in this game at the moment, we’re seeing the development of a whole new kind of grind (which Atticus pointed out was something CCP is trying to eliminate), where players need to suit up into less enjoyable fits so they can farm ISK for the “important corp battles.”

Dropship pilot extraordinaire, Baal Roo then chimes in with a bit of common sense. Currently, we’re playing a beta. What we’re playing right now could be seen as the equivalent to high sec, and the basics of the game. This is what the new players will be doing when they first start, but we’ll have moved on to whatever FW or null sov has us doing. This is a good point, and it made me think a little more…

What is the purpose of fighting over districts?

Ok. I know. Long term plan is that they will influence the sov mechanics, so obviously the fights will be important to me as an Eve pilot. But what about the mercs?

See, I’m hoping it’s going to get to the point where we can simply spawn on whatever districts we own, and then run around free roam, even if there isn’t a battle going on. I don’t know if this is something the code can handle, because so far matches only load when there’s a full team on both sides (or close to it). But what happens when these districts and planets become real places of interest?

Wouldn’t it make sense that we as an alliance should know the terrain of the planets that we own? Even if it’s just for that “home field advantage” of knowing your own terrain. But later on, it would be awesome to see the Dust mercs build infrastructure on the districts that they helped to conquer. Structures would be a totally awesome addition, with different ones having different effects on the whole district.

Maybe a headquaters building would be a special building that can only be placed on one district per system, and it would give special benefits for the administration of the corp. They already have a few placements like this, one of which is the CRU (which I’m sure we’re all familiar with). What if, as long as a district had a CRU on it, you could spawn your merc in that district as long as it hasn’t reached it’s “defender limit” which would be half of the number of people that district could support.

I think this could bring about a whole lot of really cool possibilities, and give us mercs a reason to get familiar with and attached to our “home systems.” I could see this tying in very intimately with Planetary Interaction, which has needed some iteration since it was released with Tyrannis. As a bit of a PI guy myself, I could see having to put contracts out to get my extractor units and factories built on the planet, or at least to protect them from outside invasion. Though, if this kind of interaction is going to be implemented, I’d like to see the PI resources be a little more instrumental to the whole Eve economy. Right now, it’s pretty much used just for POS fuel, but I’d love to see the resources pulled off of planets going into T1 and T2 production of some kind. I think this would also go a long way to increase the importance of planets.

Anyway, I’m not terribly familiar with the Unreal engine, so I’m not sure if something like this is possible, but man it would be awesome to see. I guess we’ll just have to wait until Fan Fest for more detailed information as to where Dust is going, but I’m crossing my fingers that it’ll involve some kind of free roam.

Until next time, happy hunting, everyone!

– JRD

Back into the Swing

Posted: February 12, 2013 in Dust Related, EVE Related

I was a tad busy this weekend, and didn’t find much time for either Eve or Dust, but last night I did a little catching up in both, and holy crap what a difference a weekend makes.

As far as executive (pilot) business goes, I’ve moved my home base from our Delve fortress of K-6 over to C3N, a little hub a few constellations over. It’s still only 2 jumps from K-6, so in the event of a strat op, or a short notice roam, fleeting up with everyone won’t be an issue (yay, jump bridges!). This also affords me the opportunity to rat in space that’s a little more peaceful. I dislike ratting enough as it is, so the fewer interruptions, the better.

So now most of my PvE stuff is in C3N, you denizens of the OK-FEM constellation will be seeing me cruising around more often. I’m pretty sure not nearly enough people read this blog for this to make me a target, right?

My Dust adventures last night happened to be a tad more eventful, as they often are. There’s not a whole lot to do in Dust at the moment besides throw yourself into some action, which is exactly what I did when I got home last night.

Working for the Government has it’s advantages. One of those advantages is being able to get off a little earlier than the normal 9-5 rush (though, I do get up earlier I’ve been finding myself more of a morning person as age begins to rear its gaze towards myself and my hair line). This generally means there aren’t a whole lot of people in corp when I sign on, which is how I started yesterday. I put myself into a few solo matches to begin my skill point grind.

I had some solo adventures with a few blueberries, but nothing totally spectacular. One thing that did happen during this solo bout was I found myself on the opposing team of another Subdredditor (*gasp!*). Of course, this meant I had to target him. =P

I actually didn’t do that, and ended up just playing the game. But holy crap, we were both awesome. My team won that match, just barely, but the whole time I was number one on my team, while my Subdreddit cohort, Corvus Descartes, was number 1 on his side (at the very end, I think one of his blueberries got a bunch of extra WP and barely slipped ahead). All in all, it was a pretty good show for the name of Subdreddit.

I did eventually end up finding myself in a squad with my favorite tank driver / fellow logibro, Kelesie. We picked up Bear Beets, who ran heavy, and p4rkway, who ran assault (my apologies, dudes if I misspelled your handles, I totally forgot to write them down while we were laying waste to our enemies).

After getting ourselves situated, we dove headfirst into a few ambush matches. A squad of 2 logis, a heavy and an assault is an awesome combination for ambush matches. Kalesie brought the uplinks, while I brought the nanohives, and between us we were able to keep Bear and p4rkway repped and ressed through most of our matches. We were able to claim the tabletop (that’s the term we’re using for that overhang in between where Bravo and Charlie normally are, right?) for at least two games, giving us a tremendous positional advantage.

I have noticed I’m getting a tad poorer, though. This is probably because I’m always running with my best gear, which ends up costing me about 56,000 ISK every time I drop. If I’m in a bad game, and end up dying 10 times (generally the max), that’s like half a million down the drain (well, a quarter anyway, because I’m sure I’ll earn at least 250,000). The thing is, these tools are so helpful, it hurts my heart to go back to my inferior, 0-ISK fits. I’ve got the triage repair tool, that has a bonus for dropsuit repair, a gauge nanohive set, which allows me to put down 3 nanohives at a time, and a NIN nanoinjector, which brings my fallen comrades back up with 50% armor.

To give an example of how awesome this is, I present you with a scenario that occurred yesterday evening. During one particularly tough ambush (we were facing another corp with a well organized squad), we were being pushed off the tabletop pretty effectively. I look down and see Bear Beets in her heavy suit and HMG getting into a little 1v1 with another heavy and his HMG, though by the looks of both of their health, it’s obvious BB is not going to win this fight. I leap off the tabletop, gritting my teeth as my shields take the impact damage, and hit the ground running towards the firefight as bullets zing over my head.

Whipping out my triage repair tool, I get into range just as BB is around 10% armor. Sweet sweet reps ensue, but it’s still not enough to mitigate the damage coming from the enemy HMG, and while I kept her up a little longer, she still went down. This was, however, enough to deplete the enemy HMG, and as soon as BB is down, the heavy retreats to cover so he can reload.

His mistake.

I quickly switch to the NIN-Nanoinjector, and BB is up at 50% armor. In conjunction with my triage repair tool, she’s sitting comfortable at about 75% armor before the enemy heavy even has time to finish reloading. BB was quick to get back into the action, and it wasn’t a few moments later we merrily trotted over the fallen corpse of what used to be an enemy heavy.

Not too shabby.

So, as you can see, this is why my wallet is slowly depleting (it’s my fault, I know, I could run a few matches strictly for the ISK). It’s so hard to go back to the old tools when the new ones are so much better. Even in random matches where I’m with a whole team of blueberries, I think it’s my use of the more expensive stuff that keeps me at the top of the boards (because really, I’m not that good).

In any case, I had another successful corp squad that I unfortunately had to leave early. I wish I could have stayed so we could have tried out a skirmish or two, but it was certainly fun cleaning up those ambushes. Bear Beets and p4rkway are both awesome squadmates, p4rkway being one of our few primarily assault dudes. If you see these two “LFS” in corp, you should grab them. Do it. Or I will.

Kalesie is off limits, though. He’s mine, I tell you! I hereby claim a permanent spot in any squad he’s running, so if you’re in a full squad with him, and I’m not there, remember someone is keeping my seat warm…

No, no. I kid, I kid.

But srsly.

Kalesie has been playing for a long time, and has a whole wealth of knowledge for those of you who are new to the game. I especially encourage our newbies to squad up with him (among others, we’ve got a great bunch of  vets from the closed beta, and from what I’ve seen, they are incredibly eager to help those of us who are new and would like to learn).

(By the way Kalesie, I sent you an Evemail to your character from Cawfield the other day, I keep forgetting to tell you).

Until next time, (Sub)Dredditors, and (Sub)Dredditor friends,

Happy hunting!