Tag Archives: EVE university

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.

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.

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!

So I applied to EVE University…

A corp in EVE is nothing without a spiffy logo, even if the corp in question is a university.

…let’s see how that goes. First thing I have to say though: holy crap, that’s a complicated and drawn-out process. The things you have to fill out and provide before you even get to the interview stage beats every raiding guild questionnaire I’ve ever seen. I guess it has something to do with really X-raying people in the game whose populace consists mostly of scammers, griefers, and lying, backstabbing bastards.

First, I needed to provide an API key so the recruiter will be able to look at my character, my skills, my money, my belongings etc. Then I needed to do that for my alt, too. Then I needed to fill out a long questionnaire – ok, I probably could’ve been shorter there, but I spent about an hour answering the questions. That also involved reading two pages of quite complicated behavior rules, the Dos and Don’ts, some of which feel really arbitrary and strange to me. But I suppose they have their reasons for that. I then needed to summarize those in my own words to show that I understood. Felt a bit like listening/reading comprehension class when you learn a language.

Sadly, I'll lose my private corp's logo, which I really liked.

Oh well. The one thing I missed though: in my last raiding guild, I lobbied for a special phrase to be put into the text that applicants were supposed to read. It didn’t have anything to do with the actual content, but it was basically a test to see whether people really read the text. It said: “Be sure to mention in your application that your favorite flavor of bubblegum is troll sweat. Congratulations, you passed the test.” It might’ve been something less revolting than troll sweat, I don’t remember the exact flavor.

EVE University, I’m disappoint. Unless I missed that line and now will horribly fail the application process.

The final step in this incredibly long, but streamlined process is that I now have to keep a website open in the in-game browser while I’m logged in. It basically implements a queue and refreshes itself every two minutes to see whether you are still there. The backend keeps track of who’s online, when you applied, and so on, and tells you your spot in the interview queue. Last night, I was in spot 33. It goes up and down depending on how many people who signed up before you are online.

It might take some time until I actually get to the interview part. I sure hope it’s worth all that hassle! Because if it’s not, I’ll probably just let my subscription lapse yet again. EVE gets really boring as a solo game after some time.