Friday, October 13, 2017

The Agency: Do No Harm

Since getting back home from EVE Vegas late Monday night I've spent a little time on Singularity looking at the upcoming version of The Agency. My main concern after attending the sessions in Las Vegas is that CCP would make The Agency a useful tool for hunters to track down prey. At this point, I don't think that is a major concern. Signatures and sites only appear in the system a player is in, which means hunters still need to roam. The only purpose of the functionality in my mind is that players can now effectively "see" more of the local system without having to undock.

I still have concerns that the new mining ledger functionality is too powerful, especially if connected to external websites.

I hear that CSM member Steve Ronuken is working on a site that potentially will prove extremely helpful to hunters, depending on the amount of miner buyin to the idea. That's right, if all goes according to plan, miners will provide the rope that hangs them. A very EVE-like idea that I plan to watch closely as time goes on. After all, I don't want to lose a ship just because someone else is dumb. I lose enough because I'm dumb.

I'll probably spend some more time on Singularity testing out Lifeblood content this weekend after I finish up my mining to make Gaze probes. I do want to test out my Warzone Extraction fits to see if they will work to run the Crimson Harvest sites in high sec. Since I have a little time, I might even take them into low sec, since I received some requests for that during the Warzone Extraction event. So I have a list of things to do in EVE this weekend. Maybe the writing will pick up again next week as I find more new things.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

EVE Vegas: Winning The Race Against Time

One of the long-running themes around EVE Online is, "EVE is Dying!!!" While the game has declined since its peak in 2013, the game is pretty active for a 14-year-old title. Of all the EVE killers to emerge, though, the biggest recent threat is Star Citizen. If the game had come out in the 2014-2016 timeframe as originally advertised, CCP as a company probably would have felt a lot of financial pain.

But beginning in 2015, CCP implemented financial moves to become a major player in the virtual reality market. In April 2015, CCP bought back $20 million in bonds two years early. That news was followed in November 2015 with the announcement that venture capitalists had invested $30 million USD into CCP for the purposes of developing virtual reality games. A week later, CCP's first VR game, EVE: Gunjack, released on the Gear VR, with releases on the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and Playstation VR occurring throughout 2016. EVE: Valkyrie also debuted on the three VR platforms in 2016, with a non-VR version releasing just last month. And at the end of August, Sparc released on the Playstation VR.

With the recent emphasis on the development of VR content, Hilmar's presentation on the first day of EVE Vegas, titled "CCP Presents", provided the surprise of focusing on non-VR games. The two games discussed were Project Nova, the followup to DUST 514, and Project Aurora, which promises to bring the EVE Online universe to mobile devices. Interestingly, CCP is not trying to develop the games alone. To develop the new first-person shooter, CCP is working with UK developer Sumo Digital. Doing some research after the presentation made me a lot less impressed with the developer than Hilmar made them sound from the stage, but I guess that's expected at this point. The developer working on Project Aurora is the Finnish studio Play Raven, who seems a good choice to work with as a mobile game studio. Play Raven co-founder and CEO Lasse Seppänen appeared on-stage, where he was roundly booed when he described Project Aurora as EVE Online with less spreadsheets. Yes, EVE players love their spreadsheets!

Now, despite Chris Roberts and Cloud Imperium Games doing their best Blizzard impersonation and announcing the release of Alpha 3.0 to the Evocati test group Friday morning, I think CCP is in good shape. By the time Star Citizen launches, probably in late 2019 or early 2020, CCP's product line should have diversified enough to withstand a hit caused by the release of a new game. Depending what I hear over the next two days, the promise exists that CCP's product line will prove superior to what CIG eventually produces. Two years ago, I thought Star Citizen could cause CCP problems. Now? Unless CIG has something they haven't shown the world, CCP is in good shape.

Friday, October 6, 2017

EVE Vegas 2017: The Most Meta Thing I'll See This Weekend

Walking around Las Vegas, I think I found the most meta concept I'll run across before registration for EVE Vegas even begins.

To me, Las Vegas is a rather escapist place. A city designed to part visitors with as much money as possible, Sin City offers the promise of a refuge from the reality of a mundane life, at least for a weekend. I find the illusion rather threadbear myself, which is why I find the presence of people selling virtual reality experiences so amusing. Even in Vegas, some people believe that the way to wealth is to provide an experience in a place away from the reality surrounding them.

I understand the lure of virtual reality equipment. I own an Oculus Rift and a Gear VR and last week finally purchased the Touch controllers. I still haven't played EVE: Valkyrie as I got sidetracked into playing a sci-fi themed tower defense game called Defense Grid 2. With your vision totally focused on the experience in front of you and headphones blocking out all outside sound, virtual reality offers an escape from everyday life without having to leave your home.

I think the trend of storefronts offering virtual reality experiences to people is a promising sign for the VR industry. Back in the 1980s and 1990s, the video arcade allowed those who could not afford to purchase game consoles a chance to play video games. Is it any wonder that as equipment became more affordable, video game revenue ($91 billion worldwide) surpassed movie industry ($38.6 billion) and music industry ($16.1 billion) revenue combined? According to the Venture Beat article, the first year of virtual reality was "sobering", with the industry only growing to $2.7 billion.

As someone who spends a lot of time thinking about video games and the surrounding issues, I could easily get caught up in an echo chamber that says that, while I might enjoy VR myself, the technology just isn't their. Sometimes, walking away from the keyboard and experiencing different places where I wouldn't normally travel, is necessary to bring a different point of view. To me, the early indications are that VR is at a point the video game industry was at 30-35 years ago. I may not live to see the day where VR becomes as ubiquitous as computers are today. But I'm pretty sure the day will arrive.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

EVE Vegas 2017: The Travel Day

I'm sitting somewhat comfortably in my room in The Linq on a beautiful Thursday morning typing out a blog post with a way-overpriced pumpkin latte and a bag of chips. Sorry, but when the untaxed price of a grande pumpkin spice latte is 23% higher than the price of the same product in Chicago's special taxing district covering the Loop after taxes, then you know the prices are jacked up. Then again, the fact that I couldn't use my Starbucks reward points to purchase said overpriced latte probably doesn't help my mood.

My first 24 hours on vacation was kind of like EVE. Sometimes great and sometimes frustrating. Despite a call from work, I was packed, garbage taken out, dishes washed, bed made, etc, a full 20 minutes before the pickup time. The limo service I use once again came through like a champ, arriving 10 minutes early, meaning after I finished fiddling around, I left exactly on time. The drive was smooth and fast, the American employees doing the curbside check-in had me processed in two minutes, and I breezed through the TSA check point. Time from leaving my house to clearing airport security: 45 minutes. Yes!

The American terminal at O'Hare International Airport is really nice and has a lot of eating choices. I wound up picking up a fish sandwich at McDonald's for lunch and a pumpkin spice latte at the Starbucks across the aisle from my gate a couple of hours later. The only bad thing that happened was I started to get a case of the sniffles right before boarding the flight. Well, something happened to American's computer system, but as I had a physical boarding pass, I wasn't affected.

The flight itself was pretty good. I spent a little extra money to get a seat with extra leg room, which I need due to getting a little older. As an additional perk, the middle seat in my row was empty, which was really nice. The flight did have to sit at the gate an extra ten minutes, which meant getting into Las Vegas 10 minutes late, but that's not a big deal. I spent the four-hour flight outlining a future blog post on my view of the Gallente Federation and listening to EVE Online parody songs. Oh, and the sniffles got worse.

Things started going really pear-shaped travelling from the airport to The Linq. Looking at Google Maps, the distance is 2.6 miles. The trip by shuttle bus took 70-75 minutes. By way of comparison, travelling from Keflavik International airport to a hotel in downtown Reykjavik when I travel to Iceland for Fanfest typically takes under an hour, with the Flybus typically covering the 50 kilometers from the airport to the bus terminal in 45 minutes.

The hotel itself I'm still up in the air about. I don't like the layout. I actually got lost for a bit as I went to the wrong elevator bank. I discovered I'm on the same floor as the spa and fitness center, which means I'll probably run into some of the folks from Fitfleet. I ran into J McClain walking out of the fitness center this morning while running down to Starbucks this morning.

I'm not the only one getting confused, either. I ran into Random McNally of the High Drag podcast and he said he found the layout a bit confusing also. But he also seems to like the place after getting acclimatized.

My first swag of the convention
Plans never survive contact with reality on the ground, and my meal plans are no different. Random recommended the Hash House. The restaurant is a little pricey, but the food is good and the portions are huge. Sounds like the place to go before going to the Open Comms show. So I'll go to the Hash House for a late lunch and hit up Holstein's in the Cosmopolitan after the OC. Hopefully I'll run into Crossing Zebras' writer Dire Necessity if he doesn't read this and let him know.

I did have one more problem in my room. Connecting to the hotel wi-fi. When I tried to connect, all I got was a connection to wi-fi, but no internet connectivity. That wouldn't do. So I went to call someone from my phone. No dial tone with the phone. Ugh! So I went down to the desk and found out I shouldn't need any instructions. I left frustrated and wasn't as nice as I should have been. After taking 15 steps, I ran into J McClain and his lovely wife and he asked me how things were going. He probably heard more than he wanted. Sorry J! Then, as usually happens when J stands in one place for any length of time, a crowd started to form, so I made my goodbyes and went back to my room.

The problem with the wi-fi? Apparently The Linq's site triggered something that required me to reconfirm my security settings in Windows 10. Once I performed that task, I had wi-fi and internet connectivity. I wonder if that's because I leave Cortana turned off as much as possible and the Microsoft programming makes life more difficult until you start using her. Hey, I think that's a perfectly reasonable piece of tinfoil!

As I finish up typing this post, local time is now after 11am, which means it's time to start exploring the city. Or at least the famous Vegas strip. I have my new camera I bought for Fanfest this year and I should go out and play tourist. Oh, and try to find out if Dirk MacGirk is still alive and find out where the Open Comms show is broadcasting from tonight.

UPDATE: The location of the Open Comms broadcast tonight.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Heading To EVE Vegas 2017

By this evening I should find myself unpacking a few things in a hotel room in Las Vegas. For the third year I'm travelling to Sin City in order to attend EVE Vegas. The city isn't a place I would normally travel to, but with the largest collection of EVE players in North America each year why not?

Today is a travel day. Normally, I wouldn't worry, but with President Trump visiting Las Vegas in the aftermath of Sunday's horrible shooting from Mandalay Bay, who knows what might happen. With my luck, I'll get stuck on the tarmac for an hour or two waiting for Air Force One to take off before anyone can depart. Perhaps I should just hope he stays overnight.

On Thursday I only have two planned events. The first is to walk over to the Cosmopolitan for lunch. One of the restaurants makes delicious alcohol-laced milkshakes. I'll need a big meal to prepare for the second event. At 6pm, Dirk MacGirk, Dreydan Trovirr, and a whole bunch of others will broadcast the Open Comms show on their old day. I'll have to find out where the broadcast will take place.

On Friday morning, I plan to attend the Talking In Stations breakfast. For those unfamiliar with TiS, it is a podcast that records live on the Imperium News Twitch stream on Saturday mornings. In the interest of full disclosure, I have appeared on the stream/podcast a few times. I'll need to locate the restaurant on Thursday because I have the feeling I might wake up late and need to rush in order to get seated with the group.

After breakfast, I think we are all going to go to the registration area and get our badges. Apparently we get some discounts at local bars and restaurants, so we will indeed need our wristbands and badges.

The first three events I think almost everyone will want to attend. The first session at 2pm is a welcome session hosted by CCP Guard and CCP Falcon. Next comes the EVE Online Keynote at 3pm which will give attendees a look at what's coming up in the Lifeblood expansion in 3 weeks. Of interest is who will give the keynote as Executive Producer CCP Seagull is on maternity leave. Closing out the day's presentations is a session called "CCP Presents". If the session is like the similarly named sessions at Fanfest, we'll get to hear all about CCP's upcoming virtual reality products. If we're really lucky, we might find out the future of CCP's planned follow-up to DUST 514. I remember seeing job postings for the Reykjavik studio that suggest CCP is working on a new game. Whether that game is a new FPS game or something else gives me something to look forward to hearing.

Saturday's lineup of events looks better than what I've seen at Fanfest the past couple of years. At 10am CCP Affinity and CCP Vertex will give a 30 minute presentation on Resource Wars, a feature coming in Lifeblood that I look forward to giving a try. At 10:30, Mike Azariah takes the stage to talk about why the end game of EVE is so elusive.

At 11am, CCP Burger will give an hour-long presentation titled "Shipyards & Future PVE". I get the shipyards part as CCP is still rolling out structures. But future PvE? My curiosity is peaked.

We don't break for lunch until 1pm, which means Matterall will give his talk on Continuum of War to a crowd that may want to eat something. The Talking in Stations host will cover warfare from the Battle of Asakai to today.

When I originally looked at the schedule, I considered not coming back for the afternoon sessions. But the 2pm session on Upwell Structures is one that could prove extremely interesting. The speakers are CCP Fozzie and CCP Nagual. We may get some more concrete timing on what CCP Burger discusses in the morning. If anything, the description of the talk mentions the structures roadmap. I think for that alone I need to attend.

I don't plan to go to the 3pm sessions, but I might go and listen to CCP Rise discuss balance issues at 4pm. The title apparently is a bit misleading.

On Sunday, I think I'll sleep in a little and make CCP Punkturis and CCP Sharq's presentation at 11pm the first one I attend. I do want to find out the future of The Agency, and the presence of CCP Punkturis suggests we will get a lot of information about an improved user interface. Also, pink cartoon cats.

At noon, Max Singularity (aka The Space Pope) will give another lecture on the physics of spaceflight in the EVE universe.. Max contributed to the Frigates of EVE book and will explain more about how ships are powered. Max's lectures are must attend events at EVE gatherings.

I might take a long lunch on Sunday. But if I don't, I'll show up at the EVE Lore Q&A. I do like the lore so hearing the lore hounds pepper CCP Falcon and CCP Affinity with questions could prove enlightening.

The next two sessions are player presentations running 30 minutes each. The first is by Emmaline Fera titles "Leadership Lessons From EVE Online". Considering Emmaline works in the tech business, listening to her insight might make me laugh. She can get just a little sarcastic.

The final session before the closing ceremony is Elise Randolph and Debes Sparre discussing how to build doctrines. I figure by the time 3:30pm rolls around on Sunday, I won't feel like getting up to go anyplace else.

For those interested in the event but unable to fly out to Las Vegas, CCP will stream all three days on Twitch. As usual, those at the event will probably know less of what's happening than those at home. Considering Las Vegas is one of the few places on earth more expensive than Reykjavik, the ability to order out while watching saves on money also. As for me, I plan on treating Las Vegas like Chicago this year and take a little extra care walking around. Not only do I plan to stay safe, I might wind up saving a little money at the same time.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Warzone Extractions: Final Thoughts

I finished the Warzone Extraction event in EVE Online Wednesday night and claimed the final Valkyrie Cerebral Accelerator for reaching 220 points. Next week is all about EVE Vegas, so today's the perfect day to give my final thoughts one the event.

Time spent. I spent a lot more time on Warzone Extractions than a normal event. Hearing that the NPCs were tougher than normal, I spent 8-10 hours on Singularity testing out various fits. I went a little overboard, but I did get a blog post out of the experience. I then spent approximately one hour a night for 9 nights running the event sites on Tranquility once the event went live. I know a lot of people worry about ISK/hour. Does one calculate the actual time on Tranquility, or include the research time on Singularity? I'll count the actual time on Tranquility for any calculations, as the payoff for my time on the test server was the knowledge gained about how to fit ships.

Looks are no substitute for DPS. After running the event, perhaps an Arbitrator was not the best choice. Yes, the Amarr ewar cruiser is better looking than the Vexor. The Arbitrator also has the advantage of a bigger drone bay, which means for those wanting to salvage, replacing 2 medium drones from my standard fit with 4 salvage drones made better sense. But the split weapon systems in the high slots combined with the reduced firepower of 5 Hammerhead IIs vs a Vexor's 3 Ogre IIs, meant running the sites took a little more time. First, I didn't always get clean kills on the frigates at the beginning of fights due to the damage not always landing at the same time. At the end of fights, killing battleships, especially the Safeguards, took way too long. Still, the Arbitrator performed better than the Drake in my testing, so the ship wasn't a bad choice, just not as optimal as the Gallente drone boat.

The other consideration is what do I do with the ship afterwards. The Vexor fit I came up with is a valid PvE fit even after the event. The Arbitrator, on the other hand, doesn't fit the ship's intended purpose as an ewar cruiser. Still, I don't regret the 64 million ISK I sunk into the ship and mobile tractor unit I used to collect up wrecks. Tooling around the sites watching others in Gilas, Drakes, Tengus and Dominix run them made me smile.

The content. Besides preparing to go to Las Vegas next week, the other reason for not running the content anymore is that the sites became stale. Fly from wreck to wreck to spawn a corrupted relic and Sleepers, kill the small stuff while managing your drones, then lock onto the big stuff and go AFK and get a drink refill. Rinse and repeat. For keeping the content fresh, perhaps visiting the test server as long as I did was perhaps not the best idea in the world.

The rewards. A lot of people aren't into knowledge or just flying around having a good time. They want phat loot. I think those that finish the event will leave satisfied. For those acquiring 220 event points, one receives 2 Valkyrie Cerebral Accelerators that grant boosted training ranging from 24-48 hours, and three full sets of Agency Damage, Speed, and Tank boosters. Depending on the level of the booster, damage boosters grant either a 3%, 5%, or 7% boost to turret and missile damage for 30 minutes. The speed boosters grant a 3%, 5%, or 7% boost to ship speed. The tank boosters grant a 3%, 5%, or 7% boost to armor and shield repair amounts.

In addition, the NPCs in the event sites dropped blue loot, which one sells back to NPC vendors located conveniently (and sometimes not so conveniently) around New Eden. During my travels, I picked up, after taxes, 116 million ISK in blue loot. In addition, 33 boosters of various flavors dropped. I didn't have a valuation for the boosters, so I'll just list the total number of boosters I acquired throughout the event.

10 x Agency Damage Booster I
5 x Agency Damage Booster II
3 x Agency Damage Booxter III

12 x Agency Speed Booster I
4 x Agency Speed Booster II
5 x Agency Speed Booster III

11 x Agency Tank Booster I
7 x Agency Tank Booster II
3 x Agency Tank Booster III

But, that's not all. Valkyrie Cerebral Accelerators also dropped from event NPCs. I picked up two from wrecks, bringing in my haul to 4 training boosts. As I have Biology trained to V, that means 8 days of accelerated training.

Finally, I can't really address the value of salvage. While I did salvage after one fight, I wanted to get to 220 points more than I did scrape up an extra few million ISK by unleashing the salvage drones. Still, for that one fight, the ingame tool tip informed me I picked up 300,000 ISK in Sleeper salvage and scrap metal.

So what was the ISK/hour? The blue loot total comes out to 13 million ISK/hour. I couldn't get a total from the market, but the tool tips showing me the value of the boosters showed a value greater than that of the blue loot. Let's use a conservative valuation and assume the value of the boosters equals the value of the blue loot. That puts the ISK/hour up to 26 million ISK. Then add in the value of 4 accelerators. The UI displayed a value of 152 million ISK, but my local market in a backwater system showed prices in the 60 million ISK range. Going with the lower valuation, that still doubles the value of the loot. To make the numbers round, I'll call the payout 50 million ISK/hour. Not bad for tooling around high sec.

Conclusion. In the end, I have to say that the Warzone Extractions event was the most interesting of the Agency events pushed to Tranquility to so far. The NPCs were challenging to the point I learned something new about fitting passive shield regeneration PvE ships in order to run the content. I did have to roam around a lot, but that is a staple of events like this. The payout was good, and I especially like the lure of the accelerated training. I'll take eight days of accelerated training over purchasing skill injectors any time. So, for me, I think the event was good. Hopefully the event gave us a taste of what is to come with the Pirate Forward Operating Bases and Resource Wars coming in the Lifeblood expansion next month. In about seven more days we'll find out if that's the case after the keynote speech at EVE Vegas.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Warzone Extractions: Revamping the Arbitrator Fit

I guess I should give an update on my experience running the Warzone Extraction sites in EVE Online given how popular my T1 cruiser fittings post for the event turned out. For those wondering, I am flying an Arbitrator through the sites and with my skills, the only problems I encounter are with the battleships, as they kite at the edge of falloff range of my autocannons using Depleted Uranium M.

The Arbitrator fit using Depleted Uranium M

The reason for using autocannon is to kill off the frigates quickly. Once the frigates are off the field, the drones (and thus the ship's DPS) are safe. Experience both on Tranquility and Singularity show that the frigates will try to pull range to around 5km-6km, which means artillery should track well enough to contribute to the damage. Here is what I intend to fly over the weekend.

An Artillery Arbitrator fit using Phased Plasma

On paper, the tech 2 autocannon fit using Depleted Uranium M still has a 1 damage per second advantage over an Arbitrator using tech 1 artillery. Don't let pyfa fool you. The damage totals displayed don't reflect reality in space. Taking into account falloff, the artillery fit should actually outperform the autocannon fit. The Sleeper battleships have the ability to kite a player at 14km-16km. What is extreme falloff range for an autocannon is only 3km-5km into the artillery's 22km falloff range.

But what about killing the frigates at the beginning of a fight? While I haven't tested the new Arbitrator fit, I did test a Vexor fit with tech 1 artillery on the Singularity test server and I found the Gallente cruiser performed well.

A Vexor Artillery Fit
One good thing about using 650mm Medium Gallium Cannon is that they are cheap, running only a few tens of thousands of ISK each. I may even still have a few in one of my hangars. Also, artillery goes through a lot less ammunition, which means I can roam longer without stopping to pick up more ammunition. I perhaps should have included artillery options in my original post, but I ran out of time.

While the Vexor is better on paper, the Arbitrator still has the intangibles going for it. I get a kick out of these people flying around in Dominix and Tengus landing on grid watching an electronics warfare cruiser running the site. And as long as I can pay off the purchase price of the Arbitrator (which if it already hasn't happened, will happen tonight), I'm happy.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Tech 1 Cruiser Fits For Warzone Extraction

Today, CCP celebrates the launch of the EVE: Valkyrie - Warzone with an event in EVE Online. Running one week before the launch of the expansion of the first person spaceship shooter and one week after, the Warzone Extraction should prove the most challenging of The Agency events yet launched on Tranquility. Players unprepared for the content could face a rude surprise.

The setting for the event is fairly simple. A mysterious NPC named The Quartermaster has hired The Agency to find trinary wrecks among the wrecks of Drifter battleships. Players warp to an acceleration gate where they find The Quartermaster in a Viator, the Gallente blockade runner. The player then uses the acceleration gate to warp into a dungeon with 5 Drifter battleship and one station wreck. Players then investigate (i.e. bump into) each wreck until they find the goal, a container holding Corrupted Trinay Relics. If the player fails to find the container after investigating a maximum of three battleship wrecks, a message appears in local chat informing the player where to find the container. Once the Corrputed Trinary Relics are retrieved, players then use the acceleration gate to return to The Quartermaster to hand over the item and receive credit with The Agency for completing the site. The reward was not listed on the Singularity test server.

To make the event more interesting, the site is guarded by Sleepers. According to the EVE University Wiki:
The Sleepers are (or were?) a presumably extinct human race which lived thousands of years before the playable EVE races. Their remaining installations and automated defence systems can be found throughout W-Space. They were far more advanced, technologically, than the current human races, and their drones, which still guard their former bases and systems, can overcome any unprepared explorer easily. Sleeper drones should not be confused with Drifters.
I identified 6 ship types in the high sec sites I tested. The Defenders and Preservers are frigates that web, scam, and neut. The Wardens are logistics ships that can repair the armor of the frigates in one repair cycle. I don't know how effective they are when repairing battleships as I always killed the Wardens before attacking the battleships. The last three ships, Upholders, Sentinels, and Safeguards, are all battleships that can web, scram, and neut. Image a Bhaalgorn with officer neuts. That's right. Expect to have your capacitor drained in short order.

The presence of the Sleepers isn't all bad. While salvage only resulted in scrap metal when I tried, the NPCs drop boosters as well as blue loot normally only seen in wormholes. Bringing a mobile depot unit is highly recommended.

When fitting a ship to run the high sec Warzone Extraction sites, make four assumptions.

1. Unless running a site in a system with a 1.0 security status, plan on facing cap pressure. If you see a battleship, assume you will run out of capacitor in short order. Plan accordingly.

2. Assume your ship needs to output 300 damage per second. The applied damage is probably a little less, but I couldn't calculate the exact amount.

3. The payout for the sites isn't worth using faction or tech 2 ammunition.

4. Bring a prop mod. Spawning and retrieving the Corrupted Trinary Relics may require traveling 60-90 km.

I decided to fit one tech one cruiser of each race and test them on the Singularity test server. I only had time to test in high sec. As the sites get tougher the lower the security status of the system, I won't vouch that the first two ships would survive a low sec site. I'll present the ships in order of preference. I'd say effectiveness, but my top choice may surprise people.

4. Caldari Caracal

The Caracal is the ship I tested with the largest natural shield tank, which meant I could devote more slots to offense in relation to the other three ships. However, the damage is lacking, which results in having to perform certain tactics to win.

Due to the crippling neut pressure in the more profitable sites, each ship fits a shield regeneration tank, sometimes referred to as a permatank. The mid slots hold 2 Large Shield Extender IIs, which allows for fitting a Medium Ancillary Current Router I instead of a third shield rig. The rest of the mids hold a EM Ward Amplifier II and Thermal Dissipation Amplifier II to plug the EM and thermal holes in the shield tank inherent in all the tech 1 hulls. The final mid slot holds a 10MN Monopropellant Enduring Afterburner, because cap is precious and the module uses the least cap of the afterburners.

The lows contain a Damage Control II to enhance the ship's resistances, a Shield Power Relay II for additional shield regeneration, and two Ballistic Control System IIs for enhanced missile damage.

The rigs hold two Medium Core Defense Field Purger Is to add to the shield regeneration rate as well as the aforementioned power grid rig. Using the power grid rig allows for fitting a full rack of Heavy Assault Missile Launcher IIs in the high slots.

Even with all the skimping on the tank in order to improve missile damage, the Caracal cannot break the tank of either a Defender or Preserver receiving Warden reps without overheating the missile launchers. So as soon as the Sleepers show up on grid, lock up a Warden and destroy it as fast as possible. Even then, the battleships can keep you webbed down and screened from the Wardens. As I mentioned before, I don't know if the Wardens will remote repair the battleships, but why take the chance?

3. Minmatar Rupture

The Rupture came in third based on its ability to destroy the Sleeper frigates through Warden reps. However, the unbonused drones the Rupture carries, along with the limited drone bay, means careful drone management is required to not lose any damage. Also, the short range of the autocannons comes into play when killing the battleships. The battleships like to kite at 15 km using their webs and neuts, just out of falloff range of short-ranged ammunition like Phased Plasma M. I carried Depleted Uranium M for this situation, but the destruction of the battleships took a long time.

In addition to four 425mm AutoCannon IIs, the utility slot is filled by a Heavy Assault Missile Launcher II. The HAM launcher, with a range of 20 km, is a welcome addition when attacking the battleships at the end of a fight.

The mid slots are fit with a Large Shield Extender II for buffer, an EM Ward Amplifier II and Thermal Dissipation Amplifier II to shore up the weakest resists, and a 10MN Monopropellant Enduring Afterburner for scooting around the site.

The low slots hold three tank modules and two damage modules. A Damage Control II increases the resists further while 2 Shield Power Relay IIs add to the shield regeneration. Finally, two Gyrostabilizer IIs add to the damage output of the autocannons.

Finally, the rigs are filled with Medium Core Defense Field Purger Is to provide the required shield regeneration to withstand the fire of the Sleepers. With this fit, my shields never dipped below 60%.

2. Gallente Vexor

A lot of people think the Vexor is overpowered. The Gallente drone boat is definitely a dominant ship even if one has to use tech 1 autocannon, or even tech 1 artillery in the high slots to supplement the damage of the drones. The only worry really is making sure the NPCs don't kill your valuable drones. The safest way to use the drones is to go after the frigates first, because the Vexor has enough damage to kill frigates before the Warden reps land. After the frigates are gone, kill the Wardens so reducing the battleships to slag doesn't take as long. Then switch to the Ogres and mop up the battleships.

Since the Sleepers bring a lot of neut pressure, I fit four 425mm AutoCannon IIs in the high slots. Just remember to bring Phased Plasma to use during the frigate fight and switch to Depleted Uranium to take down the kiting battleships.

The mid slots are fit exactly like the Rupture fit above, and for the same reasons. The lows are fit with a Damage Control II for the resists, three Shield Power Relay IIs for the shield regeneraton, and a Drone Damage Amplifier II for additional drone damage.

Finally, the rigs are filled with two Medium Core Defense Field Purger Is to bring up the shield regeneration to a safe level and a Medium Core Defense Field Extender I for additional buffer.

1. Amarr Arbitrator

For purposes of the Warzone Extraction event, the Arbitrator is almost the same ship as the Vexor. The only difference in the modules used in the fits is the Arbitrator, due to its split weapons layout, has two HAM launchers and two 425mm Autocannon IIs in the highs instead of four autocannons. For drones, due to bandwith limitations, the Arbitrator carries 2 full flights of light drones and 2 flights of medium drones compared to the Vexor's 2 flights of light drones and 3 heavy drones.

Fly the Arbitrator exactly the same way as the Vexor in the site. Upon landing, start firing on the frigates and launch the drones, making sure the drones always attack the same target. Afterwards, kill the Wardens, then switch to the medium drones to finish off the battleships. While the medium drones do less damage, the heavy assault missiles help make up for the damage deficit with their greater damage application. Just remember to swap out the Phased Plasma M for Depleted Uranium M if the battleship is kiting beyond 13 km.

So, if the Arbitrator is just as good as the Vexor, why fly the Arbitrator? Three reasons, none of which will appeal to the min/maxers out there. The first is I already own an Arbitrator and I've never flown a Vexor on Tranquility. The next is that I just like the idea of tooling around these sites in a ship everyone will think is weird. The final reason is I just like the looks of the ship more. If the choice is a coin flip, then why not fly around New Eden in style?

UPDATE: After experiencing the content for a few days on Tranquility, I've posted artillery fits for the Arbitrator and Vexor that may work better, depending on your skills.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Did The Judge Really Pull Off The Biggest Heist In EVE Online History?

In the early morning hours of Tuesday, 12 September, Circle of Two's head diplomat, The Judge, pulled off a stunning robbery, emptying alliance wallets and selling citadels, including Co2's keepstar in 68FT-6, to the tune of at least 1.5 trillion ISK. In terms of raw numbers, The Judge pulled in higher numbers than the previous record held by Eddie Lampert and Mordor Exuel and their 1 trillion ISK Phaser Inc. ponzi investment scheme. But in terms of value, did The Judge set a record?

Back in 2012, I converted the ISK value of some of EVE's biggest events into their PLEX values. While ISK changes in value, 30 days of game time will always be 30 days of game time.
Two of the biggest scams in the history of the game, the Phaser Inc. ponzi scheme and the Titans4U investment scam, were worth 2,953 PLEX and 2,575 PLEX respectively. Converting the old-style PLEX into modern PLEX, the Phaser Inc. scheme netted 1,476,500 nuPLEX and Bad Bobby's Titans4U scam raked in 1,287,500 nuPLEX. In comparison, the 1.5 trillion ISK to 2 trillion ISK The Judge stole will convert into between 500,000 to 666,667 nuPLEX. In other words, while in raw numbers The Judge comes out on top, the value of his theft will most likely be 50% of what Lampert and Exuel gained through their ponzi scheme.

Leaving the two financial scams aside, surely The Judge pulled off the biggest corp/alliance theft in EVE history? Not so fast. What about the famous strike by the Guiding Hand Social Club against Ubiqua Seraph and the assassination of its CEO, Mirial?

At first glance, comparing the GHSC's 20-30 billion ISK take seems ludicrous. But the event did occur in 2005, and the value of ISK definitely dropped over the ensuing 12 years. Also, since PLEX did not exist in 2005, doing the conversion of the GHSC numbers to 2017 ISK would require some knowledge of black market ISK numbers in EVE Online. Fortunately, I possess the required knowledge.

The black market price is given in the PC Gamer article linked to above. The author used the price available at RMT giant IGE (now out of business), which was $550 USD per billion ISK. I'm pretty sure in those days ISK was sold in millions, but in order to match up with today's pricing, I converted the units to billions. Looking at my data from Player Auctions for the month of September so far along with the pricing from some ISK-selling websites, the current price of one billion ISK is $5 USD. The result is that 1 billion ISK in 2005 is 110 billion ISK in constant 2017 ISK. Or in other words, the GHSC heist in 2005 was worth between 2.2 trillion ISK and 3.3 trillion ISK in constant 2017 ISK. Quite a bit higher than the estimated 1.5 trillion - 2 trillion ISK The Judge is estimated to have gained yesterday.

Up until now, I have used a range when describing the value of the Guiding Hand Social Club's actions. For the below table, I'll use the commonly used figure of 30 billion ISK for the heist to perform the conversion of constant 2017 ISK into PLEX using today's prices.

My post isn't meant to denigrate the scale of what The Judge pulled off. Getting a minimum of 83 years of game time isn't anything to sneeze at. But the people that came before him did pretty well themselves. Sometimes taking a second look lets us appreciate the scale of what they did.

Monday, September 11, 2017

A Fitting Weekend

I spent a lot of time reading and listening to news about the release of the CSM summit minutes Friday. Over on the INN Twitch channel, The Open Comms Show, Talking In Stations (available on Soundcloud), and the Whiskey Gaming Show all tackled the subject, with CSM members Jin'taan and Noobman appearing on the first two shows. I also appeared on the Naked Trading in Albion show yesterday with Roedyn and Caleb Ayrania discussing real money trading. Add in some mining in low sec and I spent a lot of time involved with video games this weekend.

The most significant time, though, involved reviewing and updating fittings on three ships. I recently had the computer that had all my pyfa fits stored on it die and I'm in the process of recreating the fits based on how my ships are currently fit. Two of the ship fittings I hadn't reviewed in years. The other ship I found shuffled to the back of a hangar and may wind up using it for a project I'm working on.

The first ship is one I fly all the time: the Prowler. When something works, even if sub-optimal, people tend to leave things alone. But as I put the fit into pyfa, the mids just bugged me.

Originally, I had a 10MN Afterburner II and 2 Adaptive Invulnerability Field IIs in the mid slots. One of the weaknesses of my fit was if I landed short of a station, slowboating into docking range was a bit slow and irritating. So I replaced the afterburner with a microwarpdrive. I also replaced the active invulnerability fields with two passive modules, the Explosive Deflection Amplifier II and Kinetic Deflection Amplifier II. If someone attacks, I no longer have to worry about turning on modules, I just have to fly the ship. Besides, blockade runners depend on their speed and cloak for protection. A ship with a 12.1 AU/second warp speed, a regular speed of 2287 m/second with the MWD turned on, and a 3.5 second align time should do well.

The next ship is the Orca. I hadn't touched the ship since CCP added three high slots to the ship awhile back. I realize part of the meta revolves around using the ship to mine with drones while granting yourself boosts. But I decided to go with a more traditional fit that can both grant boosts in a belt or move cargo around New Eden.

For the boosts, I chose the charges that improve mining lasers' and strip miners' range and rate of operation in order to end the pain of mining as quickly as possible. The Shield Command Burst II is present in order to improve the resists of all the ships in the fleet, just in case something happens.

The remainder of the high slots include a Small Tractor Beam II and Salvager II to gather up loot from NPC wrecks. In high sec, the drones from an Orca can pretty much take care of any belt rats, leaving the mining ships in the fleet free to deploy mining drones. The Improved Cloaking Device II is fit to use the MWD/Cloak trick in case travel through low or null is required.

The mid slots are fit with what I hope is an adequate tank, 2 Adaptive Invulnerability Field IIs and 2
Large Shield Extender IIs. When combined with the Shield Harmonizing Charge, the fit has over 300 thousand effective hit points. The last slot in the mids holds a 500MN Y-T8 Compact Microwarpdrive. The calculation in pyfa is incorrect, as the Orca can reach a speed of 436 m/second when using the MWD. Also, the judicious use of the MWD can reduce the align time of the ship in some situations from 30.6 seconds down to 10.

The lows contain the almost mandatory Damage Control II and a Reactor Control Unit II. The reactor control unit is required to fit the microwarpdrive. For those wishing more defenses, replace the MWD and Reactor Control Unit II with a 100MN afterburner and a Reinforced Bulkheads II.

The part of the fit I am still unsure of is the rigs. The Large Anti-EM Screen Reinforcer I is required to plug the EM hold in the shield tank. What I don't know about is whether I should use one hyperspatial rig or two. When combined with the WS-615 implant, the fit currently has a warp speed of 2.76 AU/second. With two hyperspatial rigs, the speed increases to 3.24 AU/second. I think the rig selection is just a matter of taste, and I may wind up replacing the agility rig with the warp speed rig.

The ship I found in my hangar was a Stratios. I remember an old Johnny Pew video that stated the secret to surviving the explosion of a Ghost Site was to fit a buffer tank, so I decided to go with an armor tank. I also wanted to switch from running data and relic sites to combat sites with a minimum of fuss, which definitely left out trying to develop a shield fit.

The high slots contain what I hope is a fairly standard fit for an exploration Stratios. The Covert Ops Cloaking Device II and Sisters Core Probe Launcher are standard on any of my cloaky exploration ships. The Focused Medium Beam Laser IIs with tech 1 crystals are present to hopefully draw fire away from drones when I deploy them. I'm using tech 1 crystals because they never wear out.

The mid slots once again are fairly standard, I think. The Data Analyzer II and Relic Analyzer II are present because I run both types of sites. Also, in a Ghost Site, I hear that either module works. I use the PL-0 Scoped Cargo Scanner due to the modules increased range which could come in handy when deciding which cans to hack when running a Ghost Site. The Ghost Sites are timed and will blow up in your face, so picking out which cans have the best stuff is important. The microwarpdrive is necessary to travel between the cans as fast as possible. And the Scan Rangefinding Array II, when combined with the AR-810 implant, gives the probes a strength of 124, which should prove sufficient to probe down any site.

The low slots contain a slight twist. The Damage Control II, Medium Armor Repairer II and Reactive Armor Hardener are pretty standard for an armor tank. But for the buffer, I chose to use Federation Navy 1600mm Steel Plates. I normally don't use faction gear, but not only do the armor plates offer more protection against a Ghost Site explosion, but I was able to get the align time under 4 seconds, which is pretty good. I finished up by fitting a Drone Damage Amplifier II. When using Curator IIs, the ship puts out a theoretical maximum 427 damage per second.

The fitting is completed with three rigs, with another choice that once again is unusual for one of my fits. For the first time I'm using a tech 2 rig, a Medium Low Friction Nozzle Joints II. The agility rig also helps the ship get the ship under a 4 second align time. After experimentation, the Medium Anti-Explosive I offered the best choice to improve the armor tank. Finally, a Medium Ancillary Current Router I was required to increase the power grid.

When running combat sites, I plan to replace the analyzers and the cargo scanner with 2 Omnidirectional Tracking Link IIs to improve the performance of the sentry drones I plan to use as well as a Cap Recharger II to increase the capacitor recharge rate for a few seconds longer.

I realize I'm not a great theory crafter, but putting down the rationale for my fits seems to help. I'm pretty sure I made a mistake somewhere. I just hope I don't find out what in a fiery ball of flame.