*tap* *tap*

Is this thing on?

Anybody there?

No?

Thought not.

Well, talking to oneself is a sign of madness. Casting one’s thoughts into an uncaring  internet is situation normal for bloggers.  So, an update.

It’s been 3 1/2 months since my last optimism filled post. Things didn’t work out quite as planned. Real life yet again intervened, and crippled my play time. Since then, the real-life concerns have slackened somewhat – but the desire to play Eve has not returned. I had three fun filled weeks settling in with Agony Unleashed before the break. I enjoyed them a lot. As ever with MMOs, it’s the people that make the game, and AU (like Eve-Uni) has some of the best. But, since my enforced break, I’ve not had the desire to log in, and I figure that when that’s the case, it’s probably time to move on, for now at least.

Luckily, for the undecided online gamer, this is a boom time. More and more games are offering free trials, and free-to-play. I’ve since tried Global Agenda, APB, LOTRO and DDO. None of them particularly grabbed me. They were all fun in their own way for a little, but there wasn’t that instant hook that kept me engaged and online for more time than I had, and made me want to keep coming back for more.

Then I read this article over at Massively. Like the author,  Anarchy Online was my first MMO. And I loved it. Really, only the gated content and the lack of easy assistance to progress in the Shadowlands caused me to quit in the first place. That was 6 years ago. So, why not, I thought. Why not give it another go?

You can now create a “froob” account. Free-to-play the basic game and its first booster pack, Notum Wars, but with still a massive amount of content to experience. So, I joined the ranks of the froobs.

The game was immediately familiar, and yet simultaneously confusing. It felt like returning to a city in which you used to live. The streets are in the same places, the buildings look the same – but the shops, bars, people and fashions are all entirely different. I remembered much of what I was seeing. But I had definitely forgotten quite how confusing the game can be. The help screens are minimal but annoyingly persistent (you seem able to turn them all off, but not tell one of them to never re-appear). The interface is cluttered and complicated. The game certainly isn’t inclined to hold your hand. It’s massively complicated, and makes no apology for this. Oh, and it’s looking pretty ugly. The graphics are those of a 2001 game, and boy does it show. Especially the character models.

But… it’s still as compelling as it once was. The community, though it must be smaller, is still vibrant and friendly. After you get the hang of it, the complexity is a boon not a badness. There’s always something to do, somewhere to see. And the world is gloriously well realised. Everyone always mentions the music, and with good reason. AO’s soundtrack is not just a superb piece of game music, it’s a superb piece of cinematic composition. I’d rate the soundtrack alongside anything that Williams, Elfman or Zimmer have produced. After a little while playing the game, you cease to notice the dated visuals, and become immersed in all that Rubi-ka has to offer.

One thing, though. The camera. Dear God, I hate that camera. It’s rubbish.

A few days into my return, and I was hankering to see some of the stuff that I couldn’t access. Not that I’d run out of things to do, far from it, but I hate missing out. So, an upgrade to the expansions that I was missing. And, well, if I was going to do that, well why not reactivate my old account. Once that was done, I couldn’t really go without re-joining the clan that I created – a clan that has prospered over the last 6 years.

So, I’m back in AO. The adventures of “Ailish”, “Psia” and “Chart” (amongst others) will continue. First Light is a truly wonderful home to have returned to, with a leadership team who have retained (and developed) the family feel that the clan was originally designed to engender. It feels good to be back.

And you never know… I might even get back to regular blogging!

The battle against ennui

Posted: July 13, 2010 in Eve Uni, Psia, PvP, Updates

It’s been a while hasn’t it?

My lack of activity here is somewhat analogous with my lack of activity in game.  There’s a bunch of reasons for my absence. My real life work has been very busy over the past few months, culminating in the announcement that I’m to be made redundant (along with all my colleagues) near the end of the year.  My family life plays an increasingly large part, my daughter sleeps less, and requires more looking after than she did before. And coming to the end of her first year of life, we’re getting out and about more and my social life is showing signs of recovery.

Eve-wise, I found that what little time I spent in game was becoming filed with firefighting to try and keep up to date with my Uni jobs. Eve mails to be replied to, Events to be organised and diplomatic convos to be had; the MMObligation was becoming too much for me. So, I resigned my posts in the Uni, and have taken some time to use Eve as a break from the pressures of everyday life. The trouble is, I’m goal driven, and without a firm goal my Eve time has become a little aimless (and not much fun). I’ve been logging on, spending some hours chatting to friends outside the Uni, perhaps running a few missions on my alt, and then logging off again. Nice enough, but not exactly exciting.

So, it was time for a change.

I have applied to join a PvP corp based in 0.0 and been accepted as a trial member. This is a step into the unknown for me. I’ve been to 0.0 a couple of times as a tourist; but the idea of living there is entirely alien to me. It’s not entirely outside my comfort zone; I’ve PvPed a fair amount, and the corp in question has a number of old uni friends within their ranks. But from the safe confines of empire and the uni, it’s very much into the unknown.

So, now there are the logistics to sort. I’ve posted my goodbyes to the Uni forums, dropped roles, and sometime this afternoon or evening, I’ll drop corp and apply in game for my new corp. Then there’s the great move – getting all my ships over to my new home; making a ton of bookmarks; and getting to know my new corpmates.

I feel a new optimism and enthusiasm for the game, and am looking forward to the new challenges that it will offer. After all, a change is most definitely as good as a rest.

Well, well, those Funcom guys have been more than a little busy. Secret World info is positively streaming out in the wake of GDC. Ysharros has a great round up of the key points – and in addition, there’s the new trailer and an interview with Ragnar over at Gametrailers.com

I have to say… I’m still pretty excited about this game. I know that its Funcom, and that they don’t have the best track record for delivering bug free games at launch. But I also know from my time in Anarchy online that their community commitment is second to none, and I see nothing that makes me believe that TSW will be any different. I was hoping for some indication of a release date, or a beta date… but nothing yet. I’m guessing it’ll be aimed for the end of this year, will miss its date and arrive sometime Q1 next year.

However it pans out… I’m very much looking forwards to it.

Happy Birthday E-Uni

Posted: March 15, 2010 in Eve Uni

Happy Birthday to us… lalalalala

http://www.eveonline.com/ingameboard.asp?a=topic&threadID=1285016

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?”

Yup – this one’s mine. And so I must participate. And so I shall…

This is going to come across like an advert. Mainly because it is.

I first played Eve in 2003, in the beta. I enjoyed myself mining, and, ummmm, mining. I mined some minerals, and then mined some more minerals. I then got bored, and wandered off to kill some more stuff in Anarchy Online.

The second time I played Eve was about a year later. I mined a bit more, got bored, confused and quit. The same with the third and fourth times (2006/2007). The problem was never the game itself, more it was getting to grips with the mechanics, and working out what to do. The much vaunted “learning curve”.

The last time I started to play, was little over a year ago. A vastly improved new player experience helped, but still, it was hard going, especially when I lost the new player help channel. Until I found Eve University.

Supportive. Enthusiastic. Generous.

Here was a corp that offered the answers to my n00b questions without the need to put up with the name calling in the NPC corp channels (really, guys, there are only so many ascii penises that you can see in a day before they become somewhat tedious). Every player in the university was there to learn. Every question answered (not always correctly at first, but then we are all learning). All this and free ships!

Not all things are perfect within the Uni. It was daunting at first to be in a channel with so many others, all keen to help, and seemingly much more knowledgeable than I – but I was soon allocated a mentor, who helped with some one on one tuition. The rules can seem harsh – and indeed they are harsh (no missioning, mining, flying about during war seems to be the one most struggle with) – but once you understand the reasons behind them they make sense. Many of the mechanisms in the Uni are less than perfect – but take a step back and admire the achievement… a nuturing home for learning, in a cut-throat winner takes all game, that’s existed purely voluntarily for 6 years; hell, most guilds in other games barely last 6 months, and they aren’t trying to swim against the tide of the game itself.

The uni is what it is. But without it, there’d be one less player of Eve. One less blogger. And I bet I’m not alone.

So, my one piece of advice to the new player in Eve?

Join Eve University. Stay for a short time, or stay for a while; but give yourself a chance to get to grips with Eve in a corp that genuinely wants to help. It costs you nothing, and the rewards are near limitless.

Thank you for reading.

Disclaimer:

As Eve University Events Manager, I am biased. I am writing from an entirely slanted point of view; am part of the management; and so if there is a problem, I’m part of it. But… you should still join.

Post script:

I almost forgot… to join, go to http://www.eve-ivy.com/ and click “Apply to Eve University” and follow the instructions. You’ll not regret it.

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 The Chronofile: You Make EVE
  32. Diary of a Bored Spaceman: Past Imperfect
  33. Chocolate Heaven: Known Unknowns
  34. Victoria Aut Mors: Blog Banter #16
  35. Where the frack is my ship: If I knew then what I know now…

Well, the results are in, and I’m very proud to announce that I came third. Hooray!

The full list of winners is here... special congratulations to Lea at Wench with a Wrench, and Petter Martensson at Don’t fear the Mutant, for their first and second places.

For CrazyKinux’s benefit, my e-mail is chaintrap@gmail.com

Written as an entry for Crazykinux’s Blog Banter Special Edition: Why we love Eve Online contest. I hope that this illustrates amply why I love Eve. Without further ado, the entry:

—————————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

“…This is The Scope, and you’re listening to New Eden Today, with Jaqueline DeVries. Our top story this hour… as President Jacus Roden sets out his agenda to combat the “lurking corruption within the Gallente Federation”, a former Exotic Dancer claims that President Roden has had shady dealings with the notorious pleasure hub and casino owner, Kruul. Lindy Lovelips, now an “actress”, claims that Roden confessed his interest in the fellow to her, during a chance encounter…”

All the same, I thought, as I tuned out the latest report on yet another scumbag looking to lead. These politicians are a grimy bunch, for sure. Word is that this one’s a capsuleer. Not that that means anything, these days. It’s not like morality and long life sit well together. Immorality, and immortality. Better bedfellows by far. Still, some of us try to stay clean, to stay true to our word. Lies aren’t good for business, in the main. Not good at all.

I cast my eyes across the screen array, adjusting a buy order and a pair of sell orders. 0.01 isk. Again. The human mind struggles to comprehend more than a thousand of anything, they say. My augmented capsule-brain struggles to comprehend as little as 0.01 isk. Still, of such fractions are my profits made. Of such fractions is my empire made. I started with naught but a stipend from the university. A few small jobs later, I had the makings of my first mill. A couple of investments and a bit of margin trading, and my first bill approached. Now, who knows. Austin Enterprises has plenty, plenty enough for me. The markets of Dodixie, Rens, Hek and Jita have been kind.

The chirrup of an incoming convo focussed my mind. Arthur Miller. Bound to be a pseudonym. I answered nonetheless.

“Mr Austin, sorry to bother you. I was told that you could help. I need a ship and some modules quickly, and the markets have failed me.”

Straight to the point. It’s a good trait in business, bad in politics. I already liked this Miller.

“And what exactly are you looking for, Mr Miller?”

“A Pilgrim. I’ll link the fit I want.”

I scanned the info on the screen. Pricey, but easily sourced. Miller was in a hurry, and people in a hurry mean profit. Big profit.

“250 million isk, Mr Miller. And I’ll have it contracted to you at the hub of your choice within the hour.”

The Pilgrim Force Recon

“Thank you, Mr Austin. Hek, if you would.”

“My pleasure, Mr Miller. Austin Enterprises pride ourselves on our promptness. Have a nice day.”

A nice day? With a Pilgrim fit like that, I was certain that he would. Someone else, however, was going to have a rotten old day.

————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————-

“…and reports continue to flood in of unwarranted and lethal attacks on miners across New Eden, in what is being termed Hulkageddon. It seems that this “event” is being driven by several bands of notorious pirates, who seem to have stopped fighting one another, long enough to turn their malevolent eyes on the industrialists. For more analysis, we go to our piracy correspondent, Leo Theoronis… Leo, what do you have for us?..”

I flicked off the transmissions, as I approached the end of the warp. A fatty procurer and a slowbie retriever were already credited to me for Hulkageddon, but I was after bigger fish. Tommy the Cat is my name, and cats like fish. Yeah, fish! Mineral stuffed fish. Or something. Hey, don’t look at my metaphor funny! But big fish were my aim, so I’d set my sights on a Mackinaw. A big, lumbering exhumer, specialised for Ice ops, a Mack would look good on my killboard. Hence trawling the ice fields. These soft-as-butter mining pansies wouldn’t know what hit ’em!

I’d picked a Mack up on directional as soon as I’d jumped into the system. Pilot name ClaudiusV. Local told me that there were a few other in system with us, but I was banking on them being too chicken-livered to get in my way. The T-Cat’s got a rep, ya know. I figure a bounty of 20mil tells ’em all they need to know about the Cat. Cat’s on the prowl, and you keep outta his way, ya know!

As the warp shadows faded, I saw my fish. Hanging there, chewing ice like some space-stalled bottom feeder. Lovely Mack, the Cat’s got a present for you. I gunned the engines, turning my ‘rax towards him, and closed with a burn of the microwarpdrive. And ordered the ship’s ‘puter to get a lock. My hybrids heated up, ready to fry my fishie.

And then it all went dark. It took me a moment to see it. Hidden there between me and the ice. Silent, deadly. Pilgrim. I didn’t need to look to see what had happened. Neuts. Lots of them. And a ‘grim sat on my behind. Me? The Cat. Dead. In. The. Water.

Fish had a friend, you see. T-Cat had no friend. And soon, T-Cat had no ‘rax no more, neither. Torn to itty bitty space bits by the ‘grim’s Warriors. Damn drones. Damn cloaked ship. Damn.

But hey, ya know, plenty more fish in the sea.

———————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————

“…as State Executor Heth of the Caldari State responded to the attacks. “This continued violence against Caldari State interests will not be tolerated. Already we have dispatched forces to calm the unrest, and prevent it from spreading. Early information points to the action of Federation agitators stirring trouble, yet again. Lest we forget the actions of the Gallente at Malkalen…”

I stifled the urge to vomit, as Tibus Heth spewed his venom across the ether. A distasteful man, with hateful bigoted blood coursing through every one of his veins. As God is my witness, so I would open those veins and let his foul putrescence spill. But for now, his State is an ally to us; and the glory of the Empire was built upon the swallowing of the bile induced by such as he. Amarr Victor, may God send us victory. And may the lady be by his side. I know that one day there will be a reckoning, a weighing of the lady, Jamyl Sarum, and the faith. But for now, she is Empress, and God walks with her.

I roused myself from my interstellar theological musings, and pulled my focus back to the present. I had a job to do, and it was imperative that I have my wits fully about me. Miller needed to know what I had discovered, and delay would render the information valueless. I checked that the subspace transmissions were appropriately circuitously routed, and engaged the secure channel to him.

“Acturus, report”, Miller’s familiar style. To the point.

“Well, Mr Miller, it seems that the time is right. Our corporation will leave the alliance at exactly 18:00 tomorrow evening. At that time the TCU will go offline. That will leave the system open for you to move in.”

“Excellent, Acturus, excellent. How long will it take the alliance to move to secure the area?”

“I expect them to have their advance party in system within an hour or so, and then a main force to follow a couple of hours later. If you appear opportunistic and weak then they will commit a large proportion of their Caps to the field, in the hope that overwhelming force can be applied. They won’t want to let you take a foothold.”

“You’re sure they won’t suspect anything?”

“Absolutely. I already have the argument set up, our leaving will be seen as a fit of pique, not as a political powerplay. I will make sure that there are no jammers left in system. Have faith, Mr Miller; God will see us victorious.”

“Your God, Arcturus. Not mine. Still, I trust that all will be well. I shall see you when all this is over.”

“Just be sure that you honour our agreement, Miller. It would not do to cross us.”

“Have faith, Arcturus. Goodbye.”

I shook my head slightly as the communication was cut. A deal with the Devil in the name of God. May we be preserved…

——————————————————————————————————————————————————————-

“…and in other news, Rassus Ratchet was crowned winner of the latest ISRC series, after a clean sweep of the last 4 races. The Minmatar pilots was “overjoyed and ecstatic to have shown all New Eden my racing prowess” and stated his intent to defend his title in the next series. In entertainment news…”

I shut the thing up. I have a soft spot for racing, but could care less which talentless synth-breasted harpy had won “Molden Heath’s got talent”. The Scope broadcasts kept me entertained during these times, but it was inevitable that they’d play some of the winner’s performance, and I feared for the cleanliness of my pod fluid.

Almost time. I was waiting for their fleet to assemble. They’d realised that we’d made a move on the system pretty quickly, and as Arcturus has said, their advance party had arrived pretty quickly. They’d cleared the system of our pilots; some of my friends were back at their med clones, where conveniently they had proper ships waiting for them. Their SBUs were online and they were gathering forces to reclaim the system. I understood that Arcturus’ argument had gone exactly to plan. They’d not suspected a thing.

So here I was, sat at a deep safe spot, all cloaked and waiting. the word would come, and then we’d rain hell down on them. And about time too, this lot had been a thorn in our side for eighteen months. We’d been losing. Pretty badly. Well, this’d show them.

And there was the word. Barking through my comms, goading me to action. I engaged my warp drive, heading for the spot just above the station that I had been assigned. The fleet interface crackled to life, as my fellows joined me. The station was clear as we arrived, and I kicked the cyno generator into action. I saw a number of my comrades de-cloak and begin their field generation too.

The next five minutes felt as an eternity, as I sat helplessly watching events unfold around me. The enemy arrived, alerted by the lighting of so many beacons, but we were already too many for them. Our bombers and the fighters from the newly arrived carriers ripped into their hulls. We lost a couple of the recons, but we had a fortnight’s supply of them from the trade hubs. The blue ice that Claudius had mined fuelled the Erebus that now jumped through my cynosaural field. I cheered every one of our ships that arrived; I cheered every one of theirs that was destroyed; and I cheered for our plan was working. I was as a child, the Miller-cool act dropped in the excitement of the moment.

After 5 minutes, my field collapsed, and control of the Pilgrim was returned to me. I drifted it away from the fleet, and re-engaged the cloak. I was going to watch the endgame.

Sure enough, the plan worked. They were outgunned, out-flown, and most of all out-thought. They lost 5 cap ships that evening. We lost none. They lost the system, and we gained it. Total victory.

As I turned for home, I let my mind wander. It dreamed of the next plan, and of the next victory.

——————————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

“Cromeaux Inc. – Who would you like to be today? Cromeaux are New Eden’s foremost suppliers of high quality clones. When it’s your mind in the balance, settle for nothing less! Our cloning facilities have been designed from the ground up with quality in mind, and we offer premium cloning services. Wouldn’t you like the opportunity to be whomever you’d like. A trader? A pilot for a major alliance? A racing pilot? Even a pirate or a spy? You owe it to yourself to take care of your mind, and offer it the opportunities it deserves. Gain immortality and the chance to realise your dreams with a Cromeaux clone. Who would you like to be today?”

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Please take a few moments out to read the other entries, all listed at:

http://www.crazykinux.com/2010/02/why-we-love-eve-online-contest-list-of.html