Thursday, 25 March 2010

TREADing New Ground in our Freeboots


Odd as it may seem, despite our corporation being nearly seven years old we've never been part of an alliance, even though I'm still convinced I invented alliances back in early 2004. However, this has finally changed and I can proudly announce that Greenbeard's Freebooters are now members of the TREAD alliance. We applied to TREAD for many reasons, but mainly for the potential for bad footwear-related puns. "TREAD" and "Freebooters", oh the comedy that I'll be able to lace into my writing. See what I did there? I won't tire of this for weeks.

Rubbish jokes aside, I'm very excited about how being part of TREAD will affect our EVE experience. In our first twenty-four hours things have already been far more busy than our usual EVE sessions. Although some of this has been administrative, such as getting access to alliance resources like forums, wikis and intelligence channels, even that has been a real eye-opener. The level of information and organisation is phenomenal. Alliance membership really has the potential to entirely change the way we play EVE and will certainly make it more sociable and enjoyable.

To a small independent corp like us, alliances were always mysterious, nebulous organisations of players of which we had no real understanding. They never really factored into our gameplay style. However, a couple of years ago we made the decision to move our assets into low security space with the intention of gaining an understanding of that part of the game. Despite this bold move by our titular founder, we never really embraced the low-sec way of life, only occasionally flirting with PvP in Faction Warfare and (rarely) a militia-organised POS attack. Now we've finally put the boot (I can't help it) into our "carebearishness" and taken the big step.

Our first day in TREAD has seen us taking part in an ad-hoc low-sec/null-sec roam which saw Long Jack thrown in at the deep end as the primary scout. It was a great opportunity to meet some of our fellow TREADies and even resulted in a Raven kill. After that we got involved in some ninja-ratting in Ushra'khan's territory as we came across a True Sansha's Mutant Lord at a gate. He was worth six million isk and dropped some impressive loot. So thanks to all the guys in our first ever alliance fleet op, I'd mention you all by name but I'm not sure what security compromises that entails.

After the roam, one of the senior alliance leaders showcased some interesting web-based software he is working on that essentially creates a mission agent system within the alliance, with alliance leaders acting as the agents. It seems like an interesting idea that offers some structure to inter-corporation co-operation and I'm keen to see how that pans out.

My next task is to get onto the alliance forums to introduce ourselves. I've got a hell of a lot of reading to do to work my way through all the information there. I need to figure out how Greenbeard's Freebooters can be of best use to the Alliance and how we can get the best out of our membership.

So I'd best get over there and take our first steps as we tread a bold new path.

Sorry.


P.S. My one concern is the fact that since joining TREAD, over 50% of the EVE-Bloggers channel is now red to me. Oh dear.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Pimp Your Pod - Sale Now On

Roll up, roll up, have we got an offer for you.

Are you tired of looking at the inside of your pod? Is the morale of your Caldari battleship crew being affected by endless grey bulkheads? Are there health and safety issues with exposed wiring in your Minmatar cruiser? Do the golden alloys of your Amarrian floor-panelling constantly tarnish? Are you having trouble controlling an undisciplined Gallente crew?

What your vessel needs is a makeover.

Here at Freeboot & Green Customisation and Modification, our expert interior design specialists will work with you to come up with a bespoke design that will make you the envy of your corporation. Contact us or come visit our showrooms for more information. See below for our exclusive Capsuleer special design offers.


THE DEUS EX MACHINA

Make crew recruitment a thing of the past with the Deus Ex Machina total conversion. State-of-the-art drone technology is employed to fully automate all ship processes from ammunition loading to cargo management. High-tech robotics and stylish designs are combined to make your vessel a technological dream-boat for you to enjoy alone.

Optional Extras: Robot butler, Heuristically programmed ALgorithmic computer, 'silver twin' special (male customers only).


THE GOD-POD

Why keep your capsule tucked away in a hidden chamber when you can revel in the adoration of your minions. An elegant dias is the centrepiece of the bridge chamber, whereupon your newly engraved capsule rests. Sweeping Amarrian architecture of the grandest design provides a regal and awe-inspiring setting to motivate your bridge-crew. Innovative use of planck generators and lighting techniques creates a deceptively cavernous space for that cathedral effect.

Optional Extras: Classically trained Amarrian choir, authentic pipe organ, crew incinerators.


THE JAVIX 'SOFT-TOP' DELUXE

Care about your crew and want to spend more time with them? Find one-to-one contact with your elite staff creates that special bond? Or just want the opportunity to hold a gun to their heads? Using ground-breaking capsuleer technology we can install an 'open-pod' system that allows greater interaction with your bridge crew without compromising safety.

Optional Extras: Crew mind-links, 'Podchute' crew escape system, hot-tub/jacuzzi capsule controls.




MINMATIDY PLUS

No longer will you live in fear of losing an eye on an errant support strut, opening an artery on a particularly poorly-edged doorway or tripping on some uninsulated power-cables. The Minmatidy Plus system includes rubber gromits, cable-ties, and an angle-grinder to help make your unfinished ship a safe environment for the whole tribe.

Optional Extras: Limited edition storage chest, passenger insurance waiver pack, first aid kit. Now with coloured duct-tape.


Many more designs are available, suited for both capsuleer and regular captains. Please visit our holo-showrooms or leave a design request in the form below.

Monday, 22 March 2010

The Null-Sec Cherry


The fiction in my previous post was inspired by our first ever deliberate foray into null-sec, detailed later in this post.


The Future of the Freebooters?

Since the departure of Greenbeard from Greenbeard's Freebooters (and indeed the world of New Eden), we remaining Freebooters have been a little rudderless. Although I'm listed as the CEO, we always roleplayed the situation as Greenbeard being the puppetmaster, pulling the strings whilst taking none of the responsibility. To an extent, this was also true in gameplay terms. Greenbeard would often be the one to organise an EVE night, texting and ringing to rally the troops. He'd research the locations and manufacture the equipment and we'd all log on and reap the benefits of his labours. Little wonder he got tired of it in the end.

In this post Greenbeard era, I decided that I didn't want to suffer from the same burnout that he did, but at the same time didn't want to disrupt the insular little bubble that is Greenbeard's Freebooters. We want to get more involved in EVE events, be able to indulge in PvP and explore null-sec and wormhole space. But with three active players we would struggle to achieve that alone. Faction Warfare, which we have now abandoned, tended to be an endless and dull blob-dodging exercise, although it did give us some PvP experience. The answer to our woes seemed simple, we needed more reliable allies. We need to join an alliance.

Now we have an application pending and we're looking forward to being able to take part in larger-scale activities than we're used to. I have some trepidation about the process, we're hoping we can have a meaningful contribution to our chosen alliance, but at the same time I'm hoping it's not just going to create a whole host of joyless duties. I don't think so though, having dealt with some of the alliance members before. It should be good fun, assuming they'll have us.


Virgin Roam

Anyway, on Friday night, Long Jack and I decided to do something we'd often talked about, both to get our eye in on the PvP front and to explore what could become our new stomping ground. We were going to fly as deep into 0.0 as we could until we were killed. So we each fitted a tech I frigate out for a suicidal roam across the Providence and Catch regions. Long Jack chose a Punisher and I was in a Kestrel.

We had a little explore in low-sec first, checking out the locality of our potential new alliance. Then I plotted a route to the far side of Catch and couldn't help but grin nervously at the systems that appeared on the autopilot list. Despite being the characterless alpha-numerical designations often found in null-sec, the likes of G-5EN2, 9-FOB2, 9UY4-H and D-GTMI have all gained notoriety by playing host to critical battles during the recent assaults into CVA territory by Against All Authorities, Ushra'Khan and co. HED-GP, on the other hand, has always been a gate-campers paradise as I recall. Surely, with all those hostilities taking place, our suicides were inevitable.

Surprisingly, Providence was as quiet as a grave. Occasionally there were pilots in various systems, but rarely on the gates. It was noteworthy that many pilots resident in those systems were listed as members of NPC corporations - almost certainly alts keeping a watchful eye across the battlefield. Long Jack and I had our first experience of interdictor bubbles and soon learned that it is unwise to take the direct route between jumpgates. Fortunately, the ones we encountered were unguarded.

It wasn't until we were deep into Catch that we stumbled across several wrecks at a gate. Three were NPC wrecks and were still full, the only empty one was the remains of a player vessel. We deduced that the victim had been fighting the NPC ships when he was caught and killed by parties unknown. We were still gate-cloaked when an Ushra'khan Stabber warped in at 250km. It was getting late and we still hadn't had a fight, so we did our best to look like a weak, easy kill to entice him closer. Not a hard task as we were essentially weak, easy kills.

I broke cloak and innocently made my way toward a wreck, making out that I was obliviously looting. The Stabber took the bait and warped straight at me, at which moment I sped away from the wrecks and took up an orbit at 25km. The Stabber had locked me and was firing with autocannons and heavy assault missiles, but I'd sped out of range quickly enough to avoid any significant damage. Meanwhile Long Jack uncloaked and charged in with his short-range disco lights and warp scrambled the enemy.

In all honesty I expected a stalemate at best, but most likely a crushing defeat from our maiden voyage into null-sec. So when the Stabber exploded I was as surprised as I was pleased. We grabbed what survived of the tech II and named tech I loot and got out quickly, fully expecting enemy reinforcements to appear. But we got away clean.

With a potential profit to be had if we could get our loot to market, plans for suicide were put on hold and we made our way toward high-sec. A brief interdictor bubble mishap later, fortunately only witnessed by a lone covert ops frigate (and briefly the pod or our victim, Elemental Flame) and we blasted through to HED-GP, skipping through a sizeable gatecamp and to safety.

It was a very enjoyable way to earn our null-sec stripes and I hope to do it regularly from now on, although I'm sure we won't get that lucky again. Thanks must go out to Elemental Flame who was a gracious foe in whose honour I have named my Kestrel. Here's the Battleclinic Report.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

The Final Blow


Long Jack leered with satisfaction as he watched the cruiser's ravaged skin finally succumb to the raking heat of his laser blasts. The puncture wound cut deep into the reactor housing, causing flickers of energy to spew forth and dance across the aft of the dying Minmatar hull. Catastrophic reactions within the superstructure began to buckle and tear, sending debris spinning off into the dark void. Long Jack guided his sleek Punisher frigate closer still, revelling in the tragic majesty of the larger vessel's final moments.

A sudden shockwave rocked the crumbling Stabber, smashing open the forward decks and exploding in a brief flash of white-hot light as the fragile atmosphere within ignited. The cause was a missile strike from the distantly orbiting Kestrel frigate piloted by Long Jack's ally, Seismic Stan. As the darkness returned, the alloy carcass drifted, ripped in twain and enshrouded in a million twinkling fragments from the now shattered solar fins.

As his victim's tomb settled into the lazy, drifting tumble of endless death, Long Jack exhaled in triumph, allowing himself to enjoy the oily sensation of the amniotic fluid passing through his airways. He stretched out in his liquid-filled capsule, allowing the surplus adrenaline to course through his body. It was the ecstasy of the kill and the inherent natural highs that the Sebiestor lived for. Unlike his approaching wingman who had been known to introduce narcotics into his capsule life-support for his amusement.

He idly observed Seismic Stan's Kestrel sliding into view as they both activated sensors to scan the wreckage for recoverable equipment. Not much had survived but what had was quickly loaded aboard, both pilots mindful of the possibility of more incoming hostiles. The Providence region was not known for it's hospitality.

As the two frigates aligned to resume their cross-region journey, warp drives beginning to rumble into life, Long Jack established a connection to Galnet. He was keen to ensure that CONCORD had registered his kill. In his mind's eye, he sifted through data, homing in on the records of the vanquished cruiser. Incredibly, the kill had been logged but not accredited to him. Long Jack's brow furrowed with frustration as the combat log ended with the words "The final blow was laid by Seismic Stan."

Long Jack could well imagine the smugness on the face of the hapless Freebooter's CEO. Not content with abandoning the corporation's agreement to participate in ongoing Amarrian conflicts and instead attempting to plunge them into an unwinnable rout in support of desperate local forces, the idiot Brutor was now resorting to kill-stealing. In an effort to quell the rising feeling of injustice, Long Jack considered locking and destroying the the frigate beside his but, before the command could be given, both ships punched into warp.

In his liquid coccoon, the Sebiestor belched a bubble of impotent fury. The next conflict would have to wait.

Monday, 15 March 2010

EVE Blog Banter #16: Beyond the Shortcuts

Welcome to the sixteenth installment of the EVE Blog Banter, the monthly EVE Online blogging extravaganza created by CrazyKinux. The EVE Blog Banter involves an enthusiastic group of gaming bloggers, a common topic within the realm of EVE Online, and a week to post articles pertaining to the said topic. The resulting articles can either be short or quite extensive, either funny or dead serious, but are always a great fun to read! Any questions about the EVE Blog Banter should be directed to crazykinux@gmail.com. Check out other EVE Blog Banter articles at the bottom of this post!

The third Blog Banter of 2010 comes to us from ChainTrap of the Into the unknown with gun and camera EVE Blog. He asks us: "Eve University turns six years old on March 15th; six years spent helping the new pilots of New Eden gain experience and understanding in a supportive environment. Eve is clearly a complicated game, with a ton to learn, so much that you never stop learning. So, the question is; What do you wish that someone had taken the time to tell you when you were first starting out? Or what have you learned in the interim that you'd like to share with the wider Eve community?"

I believe that the state of mind with which you approach EVE is the critical thing to develop. It is easy for the new player to begin playing the game with inaccurate expectations and misconceptions that will just lead to disappointment. EVE is a strange creature in the general gaming landscape and does not quite fit any conventional template. If you've ever tried to explain the concept of EVE to someone who has never played it, you'll understand how challenging it is.

The well-used mantra "don't fly what you can't afford to lose" is the essence of the mindset required, but there is much more to it than that. New Eden can seem like a harsh and unforgiving place to those unprepared for it. However, with the right approach and armed with the appropriate knowledge, new players will find New Eden is indeed unforgiving and harsh. They just won't mind as much.

The brutally honest but intimidating statement made on the forums by an EVE player by the name of Sin Meng sums EVE up thusly;

"EVE is like a sandbox with landmines, deal with it."

With all this in mind, what follows are several basic tenets that I believe any new player would do well to consider.



Tabula Rasa [The philosophical concept, not the failed MMO.]
"You must unlearn what you have learned." - Yoda

Leave your preconceptions at the door. At a fundamental level EVE operates differently to other games. Your game experience will be so much better if you allow yourself to learn the nature and behaviour of the EVE universe rather than becoming frustrated when it behaves in a way you did not expect. Many conventional games are shallow and ordinary by comparison, EVE offers a unique experience. You need to be prepared for that.


Patience
"He that can have patience can have what he will." - Benjamin Franklin

In New Eden, although some things appear to happen with lightning speed, you can be sure that there was much slow-paced planning and thought that led up to that lightning strike. EVE is not a game of instant gratification, but the rewards are much greater for that very reason. Even the most bloodthirsty PVPers have to exercise patience at the gate-camp or on the roam for victims.

On a broader level, just because there's something you can't do in-game at the moment, doesn't mean it's not coming. EVE has the ability to evolve and continues to grow from strength to strength. In the first year of release, I became frustrated with the amount of work involved in maintaining a multi-corporation organisation and eventually buckled under the workload, ultimately cancelling my account. Less than a year later, the Alliance mechanic was introduced. If only I'd been a little more patient...


Diligence
"The Law of the Seven Ps: Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents Piss-Poor Performance." - British Military saying.

The developers, CCP, have poured a lot of resources into the New Player Experience and I'm sure the in-game tutorials available will give an invaluable grounding in the basic mechanics of the game. However, the sheer volume of content in EVE and the way it has developed over the last seven years means that official documentation is often hard to find, cryptic, out-of-date or just non-existent. I think it is intended that way, it's part of EVE's charm.

EVE's 'learning cliff' is well-documented, however it can be circumvented by taking your time and not being afraid of a bit of reading. There's no shame in feeling a bit bewildered - that's pretty much the status quo for most players. No-one playing this game knows everything about it even after years of playing. I wonder if now there is even a CCP developer who can make that claim. EVE has an award-winning community who are prolific producers of guides, discussions, blogs, web/phone applications and just about any other resource you could hope for. If you need to know how to do something in EVE, the information is out there somewhere.

Welcome to the meta-game.


Fortitude
"The man who never made a mistake never made anything." - David Gemmell

The oft-quoted EVE saying "don't fly what you can't afford to lose" also applies here, but don't let that be a deterrent for getting stuck in. EVE is a game, games are fun. If you're not having fun you're not playing it right. Once you've got enough cash to replace your losses, an adequate clone and some insurance, there's no reason not to afford yourself a bit of recklessness. Go and try something that will probably get you killed. See if you were right. If you were then see if you can think your way around the problem (most likely by not doing it again). Maybe you'll come up with something that others don't know about.

In EVE suicide is painless, providing you're prepared for it.


Restraint
"Don't play with time you can't afford to waste."

EVE is a time-hungry beast. Anything you can achieve in two hours you can achieve at least twice as much of in four, right? Whilst mathematically a sound concept, bear in mind the possibility of a creeping invasion into your real life. Keep things in perspective because, given the opportunity, EVE will consume more time than you can give whilst convincing you that there really is nothing more important to do. Exercise some discipline, both with the amount of time and how you use it. Your game experience will benefit.


---oo0O0oo---


In conclusion, I think it's all about understanding the nature of the beast. In entertainment terms, EVE is like playing a game of chess against a stock market analyst whilst reading a good book and trying to watching The Top 100 Space Battles playing on television in the background. It's all there to do but you probably shouldn't do it all at once. Pace yourself, learn to enjoy EVE a little bit at a time. There's no rush, The future is endless.

Happy 6th birthday to EVE University.


Here's what others have said on the subject of Blog Banter #16:

List of Participants
  1. CrazyKinux: The Three Pillars of Wisdom
  2. The Elitist: Helping the new guy/gal
  3. Hands Off, My Loots: Nothing Needed
  4. Rantuket: Blog Banter 16
  5. EVE Opportunist: Nooby Cluey
  6. Into the Unknown With Gun and Camera: EVE University
  7. Zero Kelvin: We’re the young ones!
  8. I am Keith Neilson: Set Your Destination
  9. Prano's Journey: Just Like the Very First Time
  10. A Merry Life and a Short One: No Seriously
  11. Yarrbear Tales: Nublet 101
  12. A Mule In EVE: If I only knew
  13. The Planet Risk Show: Dared to be Bold
  14. Diary of a Space Jockey: WTH did I get myself into?!
  15. EVOGANDA: Why?
  16. A Memoir From Space: 16th Blog Banter
  17. Death’s Sweetest Kiss: Who What When Where Why How??
  18. Freebooted: Beyond the Shortcuts
  19. Learning to Fly: Noobing
  20. Caldari Outcast: My First Blog Banter Post!
  21. Roc's Ramblings: Financial Survival
  22. Diary of a Pod Pilot: Free Knowledge Inside
  23. Nullsec Carebear: I could've been less of an idiot
  24. Facepalm's Ramblings: Something Smells Fishy
  25. Kirith Darkblade: Do you wish to know more?
  26. Autopilot Disabled: I'm still starting...
  27. Finders & Keepers: Relax
  28. Confounded Capsuleer: What have you got to loose?
  29. Clan Oriana: Sixteen
  30. Flashfresh: EVE Blog Banter #16
  31. Rettic's Log: The Chronofile: You Make EVE
  32. More to come soon...

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Getting Acquainted with the Blog Mob

Hardly breaking news, but CrazyKinux's Blog Pack has just absorbed lots of new blogs, including this one. Now it's more of a Blog Mob, but in a good way rather than pitchforks-and-torches kind of way or even an organised crime kind of way. Although now I think about it, I have heard CrazyKinux referred to as the Blogfather, so perhaps I should watch what I say.

Given my recent return from a holiday abroad, I felt that I ought to read all outstanding posts (mostly using Capsuleer for convenience), however the increase in membership has understandably boosted the volume of reading material and I'm struggling to keep up. I've whittled 150+ blog posts down to 73, but I haven't refreshed for a couple of days. I almost daren't.

I've been trying to get acquainted with all of the new blogs, attempting to get a sense of what each one is about. However it's difficult to get a balanced view based only on those posts that have been written since the Blog Pack update. What I really want to do is delve into each blog's back catalogue to get a broader sense of the content.

I noticed a few new members have helpfully posted a (re-)introduction to their blogs, which led me to an idea: How about a bit of shameless self-publicising and indulgent reminiscing with every blog pack member posting a brief description of what they have blogged about/intend to blog about and links to their best three examples from their own archives. A showcase if you will.

It'd certainly be a great introduction for new readers and would give us all the opportunity to catch up on the best articles written before the Blog Pack evolution. Perhaps CK might even consider presenting it as a Blog Banter concept.

Although if everyone does do that, it's not going to help my unread blog count. But at least now I'm a Made Man.

You bloggin' at me?

Monday, 8 March 2010

What a Time to Take a Break!

I've been back from holiday for over twenty-four hours and thus far I've managed to resist logging into EVE. It's not that I don't want to, it's just that I've decided to use my EVE-time as more of a reward after finishing more mundane duties, rather than my excuse for not doing them. Plus I've got a fair bit of real-life admin to catch up on.

Despite this, I have to say my curiosity to investigate the state of all things EVE is steadily building. I've been suffering from an almost complete media blackout (a friend brought a couple of copies of E-ON with him) as foolishly, despite being abroad I thought I might be able to keep tentative contact with New Eden and it's denizens through surreptitious use of my iPhone. But "data-roaming" in foreign climes can cost up to £3 ($4.54) per minute, so I couldn't do any internet browsing, use my twitter app or check the headlines on Capsuleer.

EVE-related events immediately prior to my departure were very interesting. Being the CEO of a neutral corporation in low-sec CVA militia space, my final nervous few hours before leaving were spent packing up our POS due to reports of Against All Authorities and Ushra'khan incursions into low-sec destroying easy POS targets (a low-sec POS six jumps away was getting hammered at the time I recall). They were also mustering a frighteningly large super-capital fleet only two jumps away right on our usual POS supply line. Word had spread that they were building for renewed assaults against the CVA and this certainly seemed to evidence this. I would've loved to have stuck around to see what happened, but there was little sense in leaving a poorly defended POS for them to chew through in our absence (both other active corp members were on the same holiday).

It's all old news to you, I'm sure, but I've not got a clue what I'll log in to find. Will I find my home system crawling with unfriendlies? Will a successful militia defense have been organised? Will -A-, U'K and their allies have concentrated exclusively on null-sec and things will be relatively normal?

Also, the CrazyKinux Blogpack/Capsuleer Headlines furore was in full swing and the community was awaiting a resolution. One of the first things I did when arriving back on home soil was fire up Capsuleer and download the week's headlines. All 150 of them! I'll get around to reading them all soon and hopefully I'll be a little more up to speed on current EVE affairs.

Then maybe I'll let myself log in.