Friday, 20 November 2009

Migrating from Hi-Sec

Some months ago we moved the Freebooter's base of operations into low security space, seeking opportunity and violence. It sort of worked. Although if the truth be known, our inexperience has largely led us to provide others with the opportunity to inflict violence. But at least we can say that we are no longer inexperienced.

Despite claims in our bios that we were sinister piratey types, we had spent longer than we'd care to admit following the 'carebear' path. Fortunately, Greenbeard had some contacts which allowed us to make use of the security channel used by the friendly locals in the systems surrounding our new HQ. However, during our relocation, I still managed to lose an industrial to a pirate gate-camp I attempted to blockade-run one too many times. Amusingly, their failed attempts to warp-scramble me on three previous cargo runs (due to the four stabilisers I had fitted) prompted one of my killers to refit and rename his ship the Warp Disruptor 9000. It certainly did what it said on the tin.

Once we'd moved in, it was down to us to make ourselves useful to the local friendlies. Given that everyone else was flying around in bigger, scarier ships than us and knew what they were doing, the only contribution we could make was providing information in the security channel when required. Simple in principle, although there were a couple of barriers; the seemingly inpenetrable use of coded language and my inability to gather and convey the required information. Knowing who was 'red' and who wasn't was a prerequisite, and our corp standings were obviously not in line with those of the security channel pilots. On several occasions I was chastised for mis-calling a target and once I spent the time auto-linking the names only to be told the links were wrong. But I think we're pretty up to speed now.

As well as being PvP novices, financially we weren't really in a position to get involved in the active defence of the system. However, immediately after the release of Apocrypha, we hatched a cunning plan. We pooled all our limited resources and threw everything into manufacturing Probe Launchers, which we managed to sell effectively in multiple regions for a ridiculous mark-up for the first few days after Apocrypha's release. This served to get us the financial foot-up we needed to fund our survival in low-sec.

Next on the list was the honing of our PvP skills. Although still very much a work in progress, setting up a stockpile of disposable Tech 1 frigates on the borders of nearby Factional Warfare space gave us the opportunity to engage in frequent death-by-blob activities. At first it was a painful education, but more recently we have managed to successfully wolf-pack around and pick off a few stragglers. The low cost of our lost ships has already been easily offset by the sale of loot acquired from these engagements. Finally PvP was starting to reap rewards. Now we just need to replicate this success in "proper" PvP in low-sec.

Ultimately, moving to null-sec would be interesting I think, but we've still got some 'carebear' habits to shake off. I would imagine that, if all goes to CCP's post-Dominion plan, many more hi-sec dwellers will be having similar experiences in the future as they are lured by the promise of riches and excitement beckon. But so much is dependent on how they are received by the current denizens.

Friday, 6 November 2009

2003-2009: The EVE-olution

Although we have been playing EVE for just over a year, my corpmates and I originally began playing back in 2003, attracted by the huge potential of the game. As I recall, the only ships available in game then were Tech I frigates, cruisers and industrials (and possibly battleships - I can't quite remember, but if they were, they were certainly a rarity).

The player-base and available features were much thinner on the ground then, but the open-ended thrill was still there. I recall the spacelanes being terrorised by the pirate corps back in the day; 'm0o' and 'RUS'. Lord Zzap was one of the most feared pirates in the universe and I was furious and sick to the stomach when I was podded by him in high-sec shortly after purchasing my first cruiser which I had worked so hard for. I'd never played a game that could trigger such an unsolicited rush of adrenaline. I think, at the time of my podding, I spat my dummy out and refused to play the game for a week afterwards.

When I did return, I was incensed by the ability of some pilots to terrorise the high-sec dwellers and set about organising a coalition of corporations who would contribute to a defence fleet to prevent further random acts of terrorism. In doing so I discovered that others had had similar ideas and there were alliances springing up all around the galaxy. There was no in-game mechanic for this at the time and the administrative effort required to make it happen was enormous.

Ultimately though, despite being enamoured by the concept of EVE, our interest waned. Due in part perhaps to the infamous learning cliff, but also because we're a fickle bunch and probably got lured away by some other shiny new MMO.

In nearly fifteen years of MMO-playing, I cannot recall ever having been lured back to a game. But EVE was different and had somehow always stuck in my mind as a concept that, if it survived the harsh and competitive MMO climate and had the opportunity to evolve it could become truly exceptional. My corpmates and I returned late last year, having heard rumours of the imminent expansion (Apocrypha) including Ambulation. Obviously we were wrong about that, but so much else had changed it almost didn't matter.

A whole host of new ships, Tech II stuff, full alliance functionality, in-game voice-coms, fancy new graphics, the list is probably pretty endless. Whilst we were catching up, they hit us with Apocrypha and we got wormholes and Tech III and the spoofy new skill queue. Although they still haven't given us the ambulation that was part of the reason for our return, we now know it's coming in the shape of Incarna. And with the advent of planetary interaction and a pioneering multi-platform universe with Dominion and Dust 514 respectively, I am so glad that we returned.

Having dug a little deeper, another remarkable aspect of EVE is the community; endless in-game channels, a thriving forum, a network of informative blogs, regular amusing and professional podcasts and even an opportunity for players to interact with the developers in the shape of the EVE Fanfests and the Council of Stellar Management.

There is so much going on, we are probably never going to get up to speed, and I like that. EVE is enjoyably bewildering, endlessly deep, seductively terrifying and it doesn't wait for you.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Knocked-off Implants Make You Stupid

My name is Seismic Stan and for some reason I am the CEO of Greenbeard's Freebooters. Not that Greenbeard has gone anywhere; he left me in charge whilst he went off on a jolly around the galaxy before coming back with plans that only he is privy to. Which seems to include leaving me to do all the paperwork.

Now we've relocated to an area of low-security space claimed by the Curatores Veritatis Alliance where we are attempting to carve ourselves a niche. With his return, Greenbeard has obtained a couple of shady goons in the shapes of Long Jack and Karpov Katyusha, who always seem to be skulking nearby.

I'm not sure what part they, or indeed I, play in the machinations of my former CEO, but in an effort to increase my chances of survival, I've changed the batteries in my implants to get the grey matter working again. That's had the added advantage of reminding me how to read and write, so I'm going to write it all down so once the dust has settled, the backs have been stabbed and the blood has dried, we'll know who to blame.