Category Archives: EVE Online

Fifteen Million Skill Points

One of the things I like about Wilhelm’s posts at the Ancient Gaming Noob is that they work very well for historical reference. For EVE, he has posted for years his skill point distribution at every 10-million milestone.

When I picked up EVE again 4 months ago, I was above the 10 million mark, and I didn’t even think of logging my skill points either. On the other hand, even at optimum training speed, it will take more than another two months before I hit the 20 million mark. So I’ll do an intermediate step and look at my skill point distribution when I hit 15 million skill points three weeks ago. Here we go, in decreasing order of points:

Engineering                  2,924,345
Spaceship Command            2,637,897
Missile Launcher Operation   1,664,365
Gunnery                      1,599,645
Trade                        1,338,235
Navigation                   1,117,391
Drones                         774,741
Electronics                    756,776
Industry                       690,204
Mechanics                      659,598
Leadership                     421,824
Science                        213,770
Social                         198,435
Corporation Management           1,000
Total                      ~15,000,000

A look at my current skills

The first thing you might notice is the large amount spent in Engineering, even more than Spaceship Command. This is mostly due to shield tanking skills that I trained mostly without playing during one of the previous 2-months-for-the-price-of-1 offers. It ties in really well with one of my favorite ships, the Drake, which I like to fly both in PvE and PvP. Another hefty contributor are capacitor skills – the “Core Capacitor” certificate is the only one I have at Elite level, actually.

The Harpy is the most recent ship I learned to fly on my way to 15 million SP. It’s a tough assault frigate (and the first T2 combat ship I can fly!). I really like flying Harpies, they can take a beating and dish them out. If only they were a bit faster… I can also fly their sister ship, the Hawks, but I don’t have appropriate rocket skills to make them worth it.

Next up, Spaceship command. Not a big surprise here. I’m still mostly invested into Caldari, which means I can fly everything T1 up to battleships, and currently branching into T2 frigates. At the point of that snapshot, I could fly Caldari assault frigates and was just about to finish training for interceptors. The odd-non-Caldari-out is Gallente Industrial, which I trained to V early on during my aborted industrial career. At least it means I can fly the largest T1 hauler there is.

Missile Launcher Operations: also not a big surprise, considering I was exclusively a PvEer until a short while ago. Most of these are missile support skills and the training for T2 heavy missiles. (for my Drake – maybe the fact that I have all the cool skills for it is the reason I like that ship so much?)

Gunnery would’ve been really interesting to watch since the 10 million mark. I’ll go out on a limb and claim that of the 5 million difference from 10 to 15, I spent half my skill points in gunnery. (Nevermind that this isn’t even possible because then I would’ve started at -900,000 skill points in that category. Details!) Until I joined the uni, I was all about missiles. There was no motivation for me to train guns, because missiles are just so much better in PvE. I started investing in gunnery support skills quite heavily recently though, and now can use T2 small hybrid weapons, and am now working towards T2 medium hybrids.

Trade: Of the 1.34 million skill points, 1.28 million are spent in Accounting and Broker Relations V. I trained those very early on, because I was looking into an industrial and trade career, and these meant more money made on trading. They are still kinda useful… I guess. I don’t expect to see any changes in that category any time soon.

Navigation: This is mostly support skills. Until I start using jump drives (read: not any time soon, potentially never), I don’t expect to invest a lot more points here. I got almost everything I want, except High Speed Maneuvering V. Oh. Right. Yeah. This one is really nice, but the train is soooooo long. I’ll get back to that at some point.

Drones: I can fly T2 light and medium drones of every race now, and I don’t have any plans to train up to T2 heavies any time soon. Takes so long. I really should get to work on my support skills in that category at some point, though. I’ve been very negligent there.

Electronics: I’m surprised how few points I have in that category, even though it felt to me like I trained many different things there. It’s probably because I trained almost nothing to level V, which is where the skill points ramp up.

Industry: Mostly from my early industrial days. Skills to get to perfect refining of minerals, which my alt would mine and I would pick up in my Iteron V.

Mechanics: Even though I know that my armor tanking skills suck, I’m still shocked at the low number of points invested here. I will really need to work on that soon. Only being able to fly shield tanked ships and no armor tanked ships restricts me a lot when fleets go out, because they often ask for a specific tank type.

Leadership: These were trained up in two surges. The first one occurred when I trained this character to become a competent mining foreman two years ago. The second time I touched skills in this category was recently, to be able to be a squad commander for Uni fleets, and pass on bonuses properly.

Science: I guess I’m not gud with ze science. Maybe I should reconsider my real-world occupation? I am very thankful I at least have an alt with all those scanning skills that I know I will need at some point.

Social: So not only am I too dumb for science, I’m also antisocial. Go me!

Corporation Management: I’m not even sure why I trained that. I guess I needed that one skill to anchor containers in space?

The Mandatory Titan Test

Every post with meaningless statistics needs an equally meaningless goal to measure progress to. Thankfully, Wilhelm already came up with one: How long does it take me, from my current point in time, to gather the skills to fly a Caldari Titan? EVEMon tells me it’s 118 days. So if I wanted, I could fly around in a Titan by Christmas. Well, and if I had the money. And a nullsec alliance that would allow me to fly around in a multi-billion ship without proper support skills.

Future Plans

A short while ago, I used my first neural remap ever. I’m now set up with very high Perception and Willpower skills. This means that I am very fast at training Spaceship Command and Gunnery skills, but slower at a lot of other things. Most notably, training armor tanking skills will take longer than before. Maybe I should’ve thought of that before. Oh well. But with the remap the way it is, I expect to pick up skills for a lot more guns and ships in the next few million skill points. By the end of the year, I should be a competent pilot in several races’ ships and their preferred weapons. Though, it’s hard to plan that far ahead. If I decide to join a corp, they will probably ask me to train skills that benefit them or fit with their fleet doctrines. Which hopefully should still mean mostly Perc/Will skills, so I’m not too worried. My prediction for the 20 million skill point mark: Gunnery and Spaceship Command will see the most development, with Mechanics (for armor tanking) coming third. The rest will be a smattering here and there to round off stuff.

We’ll see how right or wrong I am in about 2-3 months.

My Life as an EVE Uni Undergraduate

Just to get going again, here one of those “what I did” posts.

It was actually quite fascinating. “Was” because I just was graduated last weekend. “Was graduated” instead of “graduated” because, in contrast to a real-world university, you don’t take exams on the way and write a thesis at the end as well-defined milestones. In EVE University, you rather rack up participation and show what is called “a general understanding of all things EVE”. So the graduation itself feels a bit like a passive process because you apply at some point and then wait. (In all fairness, it went quite fast for me, my wait was less than a week from application to graduation.)

Look mum, my first real medal!

So now that I graduated, this is a great chance to give you an overview of all the things I did in the last two months when I played:

Participation in classes: The UNI runs a nice class program. Older players give an overview over basic (shield or armor tanking, trading) or more advanced (interceptors, assault frigates in PvP) topics at pre-announced times to newer players. It’s a great system, it works surprisingly well, and quite a few people participate as part-time-teachers.

This shirt design explains what I like about the Uni.

Giving classes: To be fair, I’ve only given one class yet. It’s a topic I really like though (What is the EVE test server, and why would you want to play on it from time to time?), and I felt competent because it doesn’t involve a lot of detailed EVE knowledge, but also “common sense” from how development cycles work in other games. I’m looking into teaching more classes soon, but I’m not sure yet what I feel sufficiently competent about.

PvP: Oh yes, I did a lot of that. In fact, for a couple of days, I peaked at no. 27 (of a 2800+ member organization) for top kills on a 90-day moving window. For someone who never liked PvP before, this is an interesting turn of events. My doing PvP involved wrapping up the RvB war I talked about in the last post two months ago, moving full-time into the University’s Low-Sec camp (more about that in a second), and fighting in a whole bunch of other wars. The Low-Sec camp is a group of Uni people who (surprise!) spend most of their time in low-security space: less regimented areas of space in which you can’t expect much NPC help if you’re attacked, and therefore have to watch your own back. You tend to be able to earn a bit more money from the PvE parts of the game, but you have to make sure that this isn’t offset by being blown up by pirates.
Speaking of pirates, we had our fair share of run-ins. One problem that we had is that many pirates operate in small groups. The University’s credo is “strength in numbers” though. And like always in EVE, there are only two outcomes of a battle: if you win, you ridicule the other for being bad. If you lose, you complain about being “blobbed” (outnumbered, unfair fight!). Yes, I’m exaggerating for the sake of the argument. So the university wasn’t that well liked in some pockets of space.
At some point in late May or early June, a new patch was released that changed the war mechanics in a critical point. As an effect, it was now a lot cheaper to declare war on the Uni. And the war decs came in, mostly from pirate corps that then descended on PvEers that were not prepared to fight in (otherwise relatively safe) strongly-regimented high-sec space. Normally, if you attacked one of them, you would be blown up by CONCORD police forces (you might or might not take your target down with you if you did enough damage fast enough). With the officially declared war though, the police looked the other way. So the low-sec camp was in the line of fire from inside very fast, too, being accused of “drawing wardecs on us” by some members. It was decided to move a few systems over, but this didn’t work well, either. In fact, it worked out worse. News travel fast, and moving after being wardec’d left an impression. Within a week, we had no less than four war declarations from alliances at our new place. We fought it out for some time, while the university’s diplomats worked behind the scenes. In the end, we decided to move yet again, but managed to come up with an agreement with several of the alliances that made nobody lose face and ended the confrontation on amicable terms. Now the low-sec camp’s base of operations is at the other end of the universe, and I heard its nice, quiet, and so far war-dec free, but I haven’t had time to check it out myself yet because of the fourth thing I did:

PvE: I’ve been back to running missions for a bit. I started when the last move was announced, and I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. It was a long move to a far-away system, I didn’t know yet what the situation would be and whether we would have to move again within weeks (which is quite annoying because moving all your ships from one place to another is quite a logistic endeavor). So I started to run missions again, with the goal of improving my standing with some of the factions. I managed to increase my standings with the Ministry of Internal Order enough that I could start running the Amarr Epic Arc by last weekend. I’m currently working on that, and it will probably take me another day or two to finish, because the missions are quite long and also harder than the typical level-4 missions that I’ve run so far. It’s nice so far though, it’s a change of pace and you get a bit of story to boot, though I’m not yet sure what to make of it.

So that’s what I’ve done recently. What next? In-game, I’ll probably stay in the Uni for some more time as a post-graduate. There are currently some interesting things evolving (that I can maybe write about soon), and I’ll see whether that interests me and encourages me to stay for a long time. Otherwise, I’ll probably go and look for a sov-holding nullsec corp.

I think another post is in order to talk about what I’ve not done recently, although I had had plans for it…

Tales from the War

As I’ve mentioned a couple of days ago, Red vs. Blue declared war on EVE University, effective last Friday.

War, at least in the Uni, is weird. It’s a bit like EVE turned up to eleven: you sit around even more before anything happens, but then it all happens on much larger scales. For example, in the Uni, you are not allowed to undock during wartime if you’re on your own, you’re not allowed to fly certain expensive ships, you’re not allowed to engage in activities such as mining (although, with Hulkageddon going on, that’s hardly a limitation). So you sit in station waiting for things to happen. And wait. And wait.

And then, a fleet is formed, and you wait even more. And when you’re at the point where you think you won’t be able to take it any more soon, suddenly, you get moving. Finding a fleet, running away from a fleet, or sometimes, even engaging a fleet. Battles can be small or large, they can be even or lopsided. We’ve had it all in the last couple of days.

The war has been a mixed bag so far for both parties. We, the university, started it on a high note, scoring the first kill of the war, and winning the first few engagements. For those that do not know, winning or losing is typically measured by two things: a fleet can have a specific goal, such as driving enemies out of a system. More often though, like everything in EVE, it all comes down to cold hard numbers, in this case the “ISK efficiency”. Whoever loses more ISK worth of ships is considered the loser of an engagement.

As I said, the war started reasonably well, with the Uni being ahead with an efficiency of about 60%; meaning, 60% of all wartime losses in ISK were the enemy’s, and only 40% were ours – or, us being 50% more efficient (because 60% is 50% more than 40%. Wheeee, Math 101!). We typically lost more ships, but RvB lost the larger and more expensive ones. That shows the difference between the two corps well, too: my impression is that on average, Red vs. Blue has older and more experienced players, not to mention that they’re specifically a PvP corp, as opposed to the Uni. The Uni’s ways of engaging enemies is typically outnumbering them in huge blobs of cheap ships.

The problem with that difference is that those older players also were more eager and better able to reship – it seems their coffers are just better filled, or they’re more willing to throw money at the war. They also have more players, which makes the whole “outnumbering your enemy in huge blobs of cheap ships” point a bit moot. We definitely felt that over the weekend. We had several ugly losses, with whole fleets getting wiped out by battleship- and logistics-heavy RvB fleets. We seemed to have a ridiculous amount of spies in our ranks, with one fleet being destroyed after a five-person deep command chain was immediately killed at the beginning of the fight, and people panicking and losing coordination. By Sunday, our efficiency had come down to barely 40%. RvB also went into our home system and hit our player-owned starbase (POS) hard, driving the control tower into reinforce mode. That meant that our starbase was vulnerable, and another attack would probably mean the loss of our precious base.

Now, this is not a real problem from a financial point of view. A player-owned starbase isn’t cheap, but it’s also not hideously expensive. In fact, the initial cost of the modules isn’t even that large compared to the upkeep that you have to pay to keep them afloat. Hitting our PoS has several other effects:

  1. A POS is an absolutely safe area in space for the owner. Until the tower is destroyed, it projects a force field that makes everything inside it (except for the tower itself) untargetable and invincible. While it also isn’t possible for the owners to shoot the attackers from inside, a safe spot in space shouldn’t be underestimated in a game that otherwise is notoriously unsafe outside of NPC stations. In corporations that have fleets of capital ships (which the Uni doesn’t), POSs are also the only points where capital pilots can relax, because capital ships are too large to dock in NPC stations.
  2. A POS can make a great psychological focus. The enemy might want to take it down, you might want to defend it, with a fervor on both sides that far outweighs the economical and strategical importance.
  3. When a POS tower is forced into reinforcement, it creates a default point in time for two fleets to clash. Let me explain in a nutshell: a tower has an immense amount of shields and armor. If an enemy fleet drives the shields down to 25%, the tower enters reinforce mode for a certain amount of time, defined by its current fuel reserves. During reinforce mode, the tower is both invulnerable and unrepairable. The reinforce timer is publicly visible. The enemy fleet will want to hit the tower as soon as it comes out of reinforce. The defender fleet will want to repair the tower as soon as it comes out of reinforce. There is no better way to agree on a time to field large fleets to clash.

Calls went out. Everybody was urged to be there when the tower came out of reinforcement.

And come we did. We fielded half a dozen fleets with more than 400 pilots altogether. RvB brought a similar number. The battle was on.

And we won. We won in a battle that was immense both in numbers and in length. The whole encounter took more than 2 hours, with pilots who lost their ships trying to reship and rejoin the battle. I lost two EWAR blackbirds early on, then came back in a Drake and miraculously survived until the end of the battle. Because we’re still at war, I will only show a couple of screenshots that don’t show names. This is from the second half of the battle when many people already had lost their ships. (I’m really bad at hitting the Print Screen button when the really interesting stuff happens.) It should give you an idea of the chaos and sheer amount of shooting and killing going on:

Each icon is either a current or a deceased pilot.

The battle was large enough that time dilation kicked in at several points, I think I saw the 50% mark at least once. Everybody playing EVE at that time should have had the chance to notice something big was going on:

If you set your universe map to show ship kills in the last hour, the hotspot was impossible to miss.

I made this screenshot about 20 minutes after the large battle, so the peak was already over, and it still showed more than 1000 ships destroyed in the last hour:

That sure left a mark on the map.

Even the older players commented that it was one of the largest, if not the largest, non-capital-ship battles they’ve ever witnessed. The total tally of destroyed assets was a mind-blowing (to me) 57 billion ISK. It’s not completely fair to do the conversion (because it doesn’t factor in things such as the pains of liquidating all the involved assets, and the fact that implants, which contributed a sizable amount to those numbers, cannot be resold at all), but at the current PLEX price of 490 million ISK, that’s almost 10 years of subscription time. Or more than €1500. That’s more than $2000, for you people with the green money. In less than 3 hours. That’s… a bit scary. On the other hand, with the numbers involved, that’s probably only about €2-3 per player on average. It still gave me a bit of perspective.

After the battle was over, we finally could tend to our control tower, and repaired the shields in about an hour.

After about an hour, the shields were restored to full. My lowly POSprey probably didn't contribute to any noticeable effect, but it's the thought that counts.

Of course, the war isn’t over. It will go for at least another 3 days, and potentially longer, if RvB renews the declaration (at a steadily increasing price, I was told). Now is probably the most dangerous time for us. I’ve seen it before in raiding guilds: your finally, after much work, kill a hard boss, you are feel like nothing can stop you… and next week you will have the worst performance in history. Overconfidence is most dangerous.

We’ll see how it goes. I haven’t had the chance yet to shoot at Cyndre, I think. Then again, how would I know? I don’t even know what name he goes by in EVE. I wonder whether he was there last night.

A Short Introduction Into EVE Class Composition

When it comes to game mechanics, EVE is just yet another MMORPG. It’s skill-based, not class-based, but it has distinct roles that you want to train up your skills for. The typical roles I know in other games are tank, damage, healer, buffer, and debuffer. EVE is quite similar. It lacks tanks, but adds tacklers. For anybody who doesn’t know much about EVE, I though I’d make a short overview of the “jobs”. I’ll try and look at the different roles from a fleet perspective. Of course, in very small groups, or if you’re on your own, you might want to fulfill several roles at once to be successful.


As I said, EVE doesn’t really have them. In PvP, tanks are useless. In PvE (missions etc.), you technically can try and get a ship with superior defense to “tank” damage for other ships, but there are no taunt mechanics or anything like that.


Typically done by the larger ships. For the fleets I fly in, this means battlecruisers and battleships. Above that, capital ships start, some of which can pack impressive firepower. In my case, I bought a couple of Drakes for the current UNI war. Drakes are battlecruisers that specialize in missile damage. For the most part, missiles are considered inferior in fleets, because they have a travel time to the target (whereas guns are modeled as having instant travel time for their projectiles), which means they sometimes simply might reach their target after it is actually down. The Drake is a very very capable mission runner ship though, and last time I picked up EVE, I had specialized in the two things Drakes do well: shoot missiles, and take a decent amount of damage before they go down. So Drakes it is for me. Besides, I can’t properly fly any battleships yet. I can fly around in them, but I’m not very effective at actually doing anything.


The “healer” ships in EVE are called logistics. They are typically highly sought after, because there are no really viable basic ships that do logistics well. You need to train into Tier 2 cruisers, which takes quite some time. (Or into carriers, which are capital ships, so obviously take even more time to train.) Logistics come in two flavors: shield healing and armor healing. Depending on whether the ships in your fleet specialized in increasing their shield or armor resistances, one or the other is more desirable, obviously. I can’t fly Logistics ships at the moment, hence I didn’t bother buying any. I did fit out a basic “POSprey” though. It’s a basic ship (the Osprey) that is fit to sacrifice all defenses for an at least acceptable amount of shield healing. The idea is to use it if a Player Owned Starbase is attacked: as long as the control tower of that station is up, it projects an invulnerability field around it. You can sit in the invulnerability field (hence no need for defenses) and help heal the shields of the control tower, hoping the POS will survive the attack.


There are several things you can do to help out other ships. First of all, you can transfer capacitor energy from your ship to another. This is a job that is also subsumed under “Logistics” in EVE. Capacitor could be considered the “mana” of EVE. Most modules that you fit onto your ship will need capacitor to do anything. I don’t have experience with these kinds of ships, but I assume they would fit modules that increase their own capacitor recharge speed, so they can then support other ships by beaming it over. Second, you can fit modules onto ships that directly buff stats of your whole fleet: movement speed, shield and armor amount, etc. They have ludicrous CPU requirements that mean they can only be used on ships that come with some sort of bonus (such as “99% reduced CPU need for warfare link modules”). These ships are capital command ships, and battlecruisers. As I said, I can fly the drake, a battlecruiser, but I don’t have the skills to use warfare link modules, so I can’t be a buffer yet.


These are typically called “EWAR” (electronic warfare) in EVE. Debuffs come in four categories. Tracking disruptors make it harder for the debuffed ship to properly shoot enemies. Target painters make it easier to hit a target. This can be especially useful because larger ships have a hard time hitting smaller ships with their larger weapons (due to, for example, slower tracking speed – you see how the two belong together?). Sensor dampeners reduce the lock-on range for ships (you need to lock onto targets before you can shoot/debuff/buff them). ECM (electronic countermeasures) make the target completely lose all locks and unable to lock onto new targets.

That sounds very overpowered, and it would be, if not for a small detail: while the other debuffs are applied to a target and do their job 100% of the time, ECM only has a chance of working. Every 20 seconds, the attacker rolls a random number based on their ECM strength, and the attacked rolls a number based on their ship sensor strength (which is based on the ship type – larger ships typically have stronger sensors – and can be further boosted by certain modules). I have halfway decent skills for ECM, so I bought a couple of Blackbirds, which are dedicated ECM cruiser-class ships.


These fill one of the idiosyncratic EVE niches. In EVE, it is very easy to get away from fights. You hit your warp drive button, warp far far away, dock up in a station, and that’s it, you’re safe. To actually make people stay when the fight is not going their way, you need to deactivate their warp drivers by means of warp disruptors or scramblers (I won’t go into the details of the differences between them). Many larger ships fit at least one warp disruptor module, but larger ships are typically slow, so it’s hard for them to get into range and apply their modules. This is where the small ships, frigates specifically, come into play. They are fast, they are cheap, and they need very few skills to fly. The typical role of a new player in fleets is to fly a tackle frigate, a fast, lightly tanked ship that has one or several warp disruptor modules (typically complemented by a “webber” or two, which slows down ships that it gets applied to). The hope of a frigate pilot is that he’ll be able to dive in fast, stay close to its target, and orbit around it at high speed, so the enemy’s weapons won’t be able to hit it.

That often doesn’t work, especially if you’re new to the job. So the next best thing is to dive in fast, apply a tackle and simply survive long enough that others can come in and help tackling down the enemy ship. Tackle frigate pilots die. A lot. My personal opinion is that flying a tackle frigate as a new player is both a blessing and a curse. The ships are cheap, so you don’t lose much when you get blown up. On the other hand, you will get blown up, often very early, and you don’t have much margin for error. I am not that good at flying tackle frigates, I often die early enough that I won’t see much of the actual fight at all. Nevertheless, I bought a few frigates just to have them around in case we really need more people to fly them. Did I mention they are cheap enough I don’t really care?


You could argue that this list lacks several roles, either because I don’t have much experience with them (travel time decrease: some ships can put up jump portals that allow fleets to quickly jump to systems several normal stargate jumps away), or I’m not sure I’d consider them a full-fledged role instead of a sub-role (scouts). Furthermore, I am still new to many EVE mechanics, so I probably got several things wrong, and forgot a bunch of interesting details. So be careful with that information, and you’re welcome to point out mistakes so I can correct them. The main reason of this post is: I realized that it is really hard for people, even other RPG players, to follow things you say and write about EVE, because many things work so differently in the game – or work similarly, but have totally different names.

Suddenly, War

I haven’t written much about my EVE adventures recently. I spent most of my time at Low-Sec Camp, which means impromptu fleets and fun fights with pirates. In fact, I had enough fun that I rather played than wrote about it. I didn’t even mention the event where we killed two capital ships worth 2 billion ISK (and therefore 4 months of subscription time on the market) each. Some people have too much money… I also didn’t mention the dedicated PvP Drake I had bought just the other day, then nearly lost in a surprise gate camp. All’s well that end ends well, though; we got out unscathed.

I already had nice plans for the weekend (mostly involving shooting pirates), but you know how it goes when you plan ahead. When I came home last night, I found a notification in my inbox that told all alliance members that another alliance had just declared war on us. That sets into motion a 24-hour period until the war goes “hot”, at which point the members of the two alliances are allowed to shoot at each other everywhere, even safe high-sec.

Incidentally, that will also mean shopping for ships will get a lot harder. Coupled with the fact that I also might lose more ships, I went on a shopping spree last night and spend almost a quarter of a billion ISK on a bunch of blackbirds, drakes and a few frigates. Figured we’d probably have many pilots with fewer skill points that would fill the frigate roles on most fleets.

Oh yeah, the warmongering alliance in question is Red vs. Blue.  It’s the roof alliance for two corporations that are constantly at war with each other to learn and practice PvP in high-sec. (Though I assume they ended the war with each other before declaring it on us.)  The war declaration letter was a bit weird, I would’ve expected this to sound more like friendly banter between two training corporations, but oh well. Not quite Mittani level at least. I think Cyndre just said he joined the Blues of Red vs. Blue. I wonder whether I’ll get to shoot at him. Or, definitely just as probably, whether he’ll get to shoot at me.

Pilgrimage to the EVE Gate

There are games rich in lore. The richest is without a doubt LotRO, because it can tap into back story filling tens of thousands of pages. Games that have been running for some time also tend to collect quite a bit of lore over the years. I was told Everquest has an impressive amount, but I’m not knowledgeable enough about that game.

In contrast, EVE Online’s back story is paper-thin. At some point, people developed interstellar space travel, by through a wormhole that opened close enough to earth. It was called the EVE Gate, and it led into the New Eden system. (As far as I can tell, the EVE Gate wasn’t a stargate in the game terminology, but rather a wormhole). At some point, the wormhole collapsed, took most of the New Eden System with it, and left the humans on that side stranded. From that point, the factions started to develop.

The remains of the EVE Gate.

Or something like that. It all seems a bit hazy to me.

Anyway, I had spent a week in the Uni’s Low-Sec Camp (LSC), practicing PvP in small ships. I managed to offset my embarrassing loss of an Industrial hauler with many kills of small and large vessels. What I missed though was large fleet travel. The LSC is mostly about small skirmishes, rarely more than 10 people. So the event last weekend came as a welcome change. The Uni organized a trip to the New Eden system in Low-Sec. The tradition is, once you’re there, to burn away from the entry stargate towards the collapsed wormhole as far as possible. You can never reach it because the object doesn’t actually exist, it’s merely a background texture. Once you think you’ve gone far enough, you anchor a can with a personal message at that point. (The anchoring means it’ll stay there for a couple of weeks instead of hours before it goes poof.)

[More text and pictures after the cut.] Continue reading Pilgrimage to the EVE Gate

Post-Easter Rollercoaster Ride

No, not that one, though the fair is in town.

I’ve been slacking a bit on my updates about EVE. When I last wrote about it, I had just gotten accepted into EVE University under the new and much simpler ruleset, and spent a lot of time setting myself up. After which I spent some time in the mining camp and made a decent amount of money. I should probably do that more often, especially with the expected rise in mineral prices that will happen after the next patch (when they’ll remove mineral drops from most of the NPC enemies). But, to be honest, while I like mining, it can get boring after a couple of days. I was looking for other things to do.

How I Got My Egg Basket Blown Up

How’s that for an Easter analogy? (Alright, alright, a Euro into the pun jar.)

I returned home from a family weekend on Sunday evening, just in time to catch a class. “Low-Sec Hauling”. Ooooh! The great outdoors! Running through the equivalent of countryside a couple of centuries ago, mostly empty and peaceful, but with the occasional highwaymen. That sounded interesting. We got taught a couple of the important basics (use a cheap ship until you know what you’re doing, fit it with warp core stabilizers so you’ll be able to get away from many gate camps, etc.), and off I went. I spent Sunday and much of Monday running back and forth between regulated high-sec and lawless low-sec, leaving pirates in the dust several times. I was invincible!

You know what happens after such delusions of grandeur take grip. You’ll be humbled, big time.

I started my Tuesday evening in Jita (the main trade hub of the EVE universe) with my low-sec hauling ship. I had gotten some good deals on courier contracts the day before, coming from Hek (a secondary trade hub). I was looking for something worthwhile to transport back there. Sure enough, I found a decent courier contract, and filled the rest of my cargo space with some commodities. I programmed the flight computer to get a route, and got going. I jumped, and jumped, and jumped. Jita, Sobaseki, Iyen-Oursta, … my after-work slump was setting in, but I was in the flow of hauling. Space Trucking, baby! Ambeke gate, warp&jump. Criele gate, warp&jump. Rancer gate, warp&… wait a second. Rancer? Rancer?!

… Oh crap.

Now for those of you who don’t know, Rancer is a well-known system in EVE. It is one of the maybe 15 or 20 I can properly spell, even though I’ve never been there. In fact, I know it well because I’ve never been there. Rancer is an infamous pirate system. It probably is the most infested system in all of EVE. You never go there, unless you bring a lot of guns, and friends with even more guns. How on Earth did I end up here?

  1. It is a low-sec system, so I typically have the autopilot set up to avoid them altogether. Flying a low-sec hauler, I of course disabled that safeguard.
  2. You can configure the autopilot with a handful of systems that it is to always avoid. I was absolutely positive that I had put Rancer onto that list. It should be the very first system on that list, right? Well, yeah.
  3. I had foolishly assumed that routes would be symmetric. I hadn’t flown through any dangerous low-sec areas from Hek to Jita the day before, so it should be the same reasonably-safe route back, right? Guess I learned that the autopilot doesn’t work that way. (Though I’m still not sure why.)
  4. I typically check where I’m jumping to. The last failure in the chain of events was clicking before reading.

When I realized mid-warp that I was about to jump into the pirate capital of the universe, I frantically clicked buttons… Abort, abort, jump to somewhere else, do anything! But to no avail. I dropped out of warp right next to the gate, and immediately jumped through before any of the other commands registered.

Sure enough, I was greeted by almost a dozen pirates on the other side. They were too many, so they scrambled my warp drive before I could get away, then played around a bit with my ship before blowing it up.

Ouch. I will not link the killmail, it’s rather embarrassing. I lost more than half of the money I had saved up with that mistake. I cannot really blame anybody but myself though. The loss was the result of a chain of stupid mistakes on my side. It’s not like the pirates came out of their system to gank me in high-sec. I probably would’ve been annoyed in that case. No, I jumped right into their backyard to say hello. It’s mostly annoying because I lost a large percentage of my ISK. I’m not that rich though, so if I want, I can just go and buy two PLEX for about what I would spend for a decent dinner, and end up with more than I had.

I guess “be careful” isn’t a lesson you learn by reading, but rather by doing.

My First Fleet, And How I Nearly Saw A Carrier For The First Time

The whole encounter left me with a bit of sour aftertaste. I decided the best to make out of that was to fit another low-sec hauler right away and get started again, to offset the bad experience with some more good ones. I did a couple of low-sec runs, but ended up in another heavily populated low-sec system. I was really happy when I managed to get out of there without any issues. I felt like I maybe needed a day or two to relax and not risk as much. The ship isn’t too expensive, but buying all the modules to refit it is annoying, and I tend to have expensive implants in my pilot that aid skill learning speed, but are lost when you get blown up. Thankfully, a class came by that evening that talked about fleet mechanics, with an extended practical part. So I jumped into the prepared implant-less PvP clone, bought a cheap frigate and fitted it with some even cheaper tackling modules, and joined the class. Blow up, get blown up, it doesn’t matter if all you lose is a million ISK or two.

There hadn’t been a lot of fleets out of the EVE University’s home station for some time. A lot of the more PvP-inclined people have moved into a special low-sec camp recently, so there was little going on in safer space. In no time, we had almost 50 people. It took a lot of time to get the fleet together, mostly because the professor went through all the steps of forming a fleet in great detail. I can’t say I followed all of that, because I was missing some basics, but I think I got the gist of it.

Then it was time to undock. Off went our kitchen sink fleet (no specific setup, everything was welcome except the proverbial kitchen sink). Some of us learned our first valuable lessons: the difference between an “offensive” and a “defensive” gate camp (never had heard of that before), and that “warping to a gate” is not the same as “jumping through the gate” (I got that right and didn’t jump early! Yay me!)

The EVE University Educational Kitchen Sink Fleet sitting at a warp gate. Well, at least the part that didn't jump through instead of warp to it...

After two jumps, our scout reported unusually high activity in the low-sec system we wanted to visit as part of the training. Ooooh, pirates! We gotta shoot pirates?

Sadly, no. It turned out that, while we weren’t quite sure what exactly was going on, it was definitely a size or two too large for our fleet. There were a carrier, another capital ship, and a lot of support gathered in that system. It seemed they were quite nervous when they realized there was a 45-people fleet sitting one system over – we got the occasional scouts checking in on what the hell we were doing sitting at that gate.

Our Fleet Commander made his discussions with the Scouts public to the whole fleet (not something that happens every time, I was told), and the way they went about figuring out who was in that system at which time, and why, was pretty impressive. Most of that went over my head at first, but our Fleet Commander did a really good job of explaining to us how they went about gathering the intelligence.

This is were we sat for almost an hour, listening to the class in space.

So, in the end, no shot was fired, but it was a nice first experience. Our Fleet Commander / class lecturer, Turhan Bey, was a very nice person, and my hope is that I’ll fly in fleets with such people for the most part. He was definitely the antithesis to the “ugly EVE griefer” stereotype.

I think I should read up a bit more on the introductory Fleet classes, to be prepared for the next time I might have a chance to fly around in a fun edu fleet.

In which I work through long todo-lists and fly around in space a lot without actually doing much

After some more waiting on Sunday, my EVE University invite went through, together with what seems a large bunch of other people. I was proud of myself because I had been smart enough to haul (most of) my belongings the 24 jump from Isanamo to Aldrat already. Which takes time in a hauler. But I had saved that time at least. Or so I thought…

First Things First

Getting accepted into a new group of people always leaves me with this “and now what?” feeling. You might get a lot of “welcome!”s (I did, the Uni is a friendly place, from what I’ve seen so far, very refreshing after all these disturbing news about EVE the last week), but then you’re left to your own devices. Not that I can blame everybody. You see people joining constantly, you can’t throw a party for everybody.

So I started to work through the new member todo-list. First thing was setting up your UI to be at least only useless if you ever get stuck in PvP, and not actively harmful because you can’t see what’s going on. That wiki guide has an impressive 48 subsections. Took me about 20 minutes to work through it. Thankfully, you can then save your setup and import it on alts and such. (As I later found out, not everything gets exported, which means you still have to do some of the manual work multiple times. Cue rant about EVE’s horrible UI here.)

Then I decided it would be a good idea to get a jump clone. Jump clones in EVE are “copies” of you. You can jump between them once ever 24 hours. They serve two main roles: fast travel (you can jump from one clone to another one at the other end of the universe), and cutting your losses. You can put implants in your body to boost the speed at which you are learning new skills, and they can be very expensive. If you get killed in PvP, gone are the implants. So a lot of people jump into a cheaper clone for PvP.

It would make sense to have both clones at our main EVE University base. But, it’s not that easy! See, you can only create jump clones in bases that belong to corporations that really love you. (Strangely enough, once they’re created, you can store them wherever you want). Like NPC faction reputations in other games. And the nearest base I could do that in was…. 1 jump next to Isanamo, where I originally started from. Grrreeeat. So, I had to 1) fly 25 jumps back (this time, in a shuttle though, so it was a lot faster), 2) create my jump clone and fly back to Aldrat, and 3) jump into the the new jump clone (ending up in Isakano again) and flying the 25 jump AGAIN in a different shuttle. That’s traversing 75 solar systems, in case you lost track.

And what now?

All that, of course, only postponed the question of what to do next. I browsed the Uni’s forums, and found some information about an ongoing long-term mining operation. That sounded like my kind of thing!

Mining is one of the occupations in EVE that attracts more ridicules than most others. Maybe that’s because it doesn’t involve shooting stuff into pieces. It sure is a laid-back way of earning ISK. Fly your mining ship to an asteroid belt, set the lasers to “lick”, and let your cargo bay fill up.

There was just one problem with this. All my mining skills were concentrated on my alt, who was still sitting in Isanamo. If you now say “I know what’s coming! Another 24 jumps!”, you’re almost right. Just that it wasn’t 24 jumps. Because, see, the mining operation isn’t based in the University’s home system, but quite a bunch of jumps away. It was around that time I lost track of how much I traveled. But let’s say it was about 35 jumps from Isanamo. In a mining barge. Which is very good at mining, but also very slow and about as agile as an elephant with a heart condition and two legs in a cast. And the trunk too, for no other reason than that it would look funny.

Mandatory space picture: My mining barge during one of the countless warps. The ship looks surprisingly sleek for something that's designed for mining, isn't it?

And, of course, I needed to get my main over there too, because he’s the one that can fly haulers, and I needed to ferry equipment over and means to transport ore. When I finally reached our mining base, my second evening in EVE University was almost over. But tomorrow, I’ll be actually able to do something worthwhile, I’m sure!

Did I mention before that things take a lot of time in EVE?

Impeccable Timing – I don’t have it

EVE is a slow game. You can spend weeks training a single level of a single skill. Combat (the PvE side, I’ve never done any PvP) can be drawn out, and you rarely go down in seconds, it’s more drawn-out battles of shield attrition. So it didn’t come as a huge surprise to me when I learned that joining a guild (I mean, corp! It’s corp in EVE, because it’s all about the money, right?) could take a long time too. After answering that long questionnaire, I patiently waited in the queue for two weeks to get my recruitment info with EVE University.

And then, I waited some more, though less and less patiently. Especially since I was number 1 in the queue (of all applicants logged in at that point) several times during the week, only to lose my spot to applicants who had waited even longer. Yesterday marked day 20 in the application queue for me. Yikes. In the meantime, a lot of unsavory things happened in the game, what with the leader of EVE’s most vocal and obnoxious alliance publicly inciting people to harass someone into suicide, being kicked out of the players’ representative council in response, and then learning that there are also disgusting fellows among his enemies, who don’t mind threatening his wife.

I am set on at least giving the game a chance though. There are horrible players in any MMO, plus, my subscription hasn’t run out yet, so I might as well look for decent people in the game until then. So yesterday, I was sitting in the queue again, finally hitting spot 1 again, when an announcement came through:

Eve University is changing its recruitment process.  This may result in you being accepted without actually being interviewed.  At this time unless you have been told to queue for an SPO, do not queue.

My invite came about 10 minutes later. Well, boo. That’s what I waited for in the queue for almost 3 weeks? I was actually looking forward to telling you about how the interview went. And now I won’t even be able to sit in the university, waving my walking stick and tell kids to get off my lawn, and that they have it so easy these days, because in my time, you needed to walk uphill both ways, through the snow, to your interview, and could only pray you wouldn’t get rejected.

I said I got an invite. That is true. I’m still not a member, though. You see, I have this private corp I was talking about before. I had officer rights in that. Turns out, you cannot just leave a corp if you have those. No, you need to resign your rights, and then you are in a 24-hour stasis period, during which you can’t leave the corp. So, the invite bounced, and now I have to wait until tonight to get my invite. Hopefully. If anybody is on that can do invites. So no EVE for me this weekend. Because I’m bored to tears of mission running by now, and solo mining is getting monotonous, too.

It’s the story of EVE and me, in a nutshell: I will always find a way to allow the game to screw me over.

edit: just in case (because I was asked), no, this post doesn’t contain any April fools shenanigans.

What’s Taking Them So Long?

I’ve now been waiting for my interview with EVE university for more than a week. Today, I checked my queue position again (between 9 and 11 early in the evening), and found a talkative PO (interviewer) in the public E-UNI channel, who I proceeded to ask for some stats about the workload. Here’s what I got:

Qvar Dar’Zanar > Interview average duration: 20-30 min
Average interviews amount per day: 20-25
Average interviews amount per week: 150-200
Average number of new applications per day: 50-150
Amount of applicants being rejected: around 10%
Tabala Raschidis > wow
Tabala Raschidis > awesome, thanks 🙂
Mekkai Nabali > And this is split between how many galley slaves…er, POs?
Qvar Dar’Zanar > I don’t know… If i had to guess, I would say 20

(I’m Tabala Raschidis, btw)

Wow. That is pretty impressive. I hate recruiting, it’s the one job I always managed to avoid in other guilds. 200 interviews a week?!

You can also see in those numbers that a lot more people apply than are interviewed. I guess many people lose their patience eventually. At the moment, the queue is about 2 weeks long. I would say the waiting time is self-regulating: if more people apply, the queue gets longer, you’ll have to wait longer for you interview, which leads to more dropouts before that, which reduces queue waiting time. So 2 weeks probably is some sort of “sweet spot”. EVE is a slower kind of MMO, alright.

I’ll survive the waiting. I got more long-running skills to train anyway!