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The Gathering Gloom

Running around EQ2X this weekend and enjoying working on some tradeskills.  Crafting in EQ2 is one of the things EQ2 does a bit better (note I said a bit better because its far from ideal) than many MMOs.  There is a bit if a minigame to it, so perfect success is not guaranteed though there is little chance of real failure, the products are genuinely useful, there is quite a diversity of recipes across a broad range of professions, it doesn’t require the generation of many many useless/valueless items to make progress and its an entirely separate progression mechanism from the rest of the game.

Of course, all crafting requires inputs.  That means gathering.  Ugh.

No MMO seems to have done this part well.  So what has the last decade brought us on the gathering front?

Consider the Miner.

Random spawning, mailbox-sized chunks of “ore” that are curiously unevenly distributed in zones the difficulty of which correlates to their relative value.  How immersive.

I just looked over, and there it was...

How do we find this resource?  Mining radar of course.  Sort of Yukon Cornelius meets Aquaman.  And how is this oh so valuable ore actually gathered?  Take out your trusty pocket pick, give the ore pinata a few whacks and voila.  Paydirt.

Not exactly the picture of mining that I had in mind.  Why did they bother with Moria or Thorin’s Halls when the dwarves could have just skipped through the fields tapping rocks as they went?

Sure some games try to jazz up the immersion by actually having the nodes spawn in or near hills.  Others just don’t bother.  How the farmers in Kingsfell manage to plow their fields with all that rich iron popping up in their fields is beyond me.

I guess the Kings fell because they tripped over giant mining nodes...

Eve got it partially right.  Mining in Eve is a full-blown progression game in its own right and encourages group play.  Yes, its a bit boring with the waiting factor, but to me that is a question of how much, not whether it takes time.

Mining in Eve requires the development of various skills that increase proficiency (speed, mining yield, refining efficiency, etc.) as well as collaborative supporting activities (hauling, group management, even defense).

So why hasn’t any fantasy MMO bothered with truly fleshing out the gathering professions properly?  I for one would love to have to go prospecting for ore deposits and constructing a mining operation out in the wilds, alone or with others.  Then figure out how to haul it all back to town all the while defending your operation from marauding mobs.

A noob miner would have little but his pick, pan, a trusty pack mule and a bit of luck.  A journeyman could construct a proper mine that would yield more, a guild could construct and man a large mine, etc.  Like scouting asteroid belts in Eve, prospecting for a good site with lots of the desired ore (to justify construction of a mine, etc.) would be half the battle.  Imagine if prospecting was a bit like WoW’s archaeology?

Of course, one aspect that is key to the viability of Eve’s mining progression is the economy.  Even the lowliest of the low minerals (Tritanium) which comes from the most abundant asteroid in the game (Veldspar) is used in nearly everything constructed in the game.

Copper doesn’t cease being useful just because I can wear or wield iron or steel or mithril items.

The same paradigm can be applied to any of the other gathering professions as well:  hunting/trapping for hides and leather; farming for food and fiber (thank you LotRO, sort of); lumber mills (with depleting forests) for wood.

Did no one at Blizzard remember the resource gathering part of Warcraft when they designed WoW?

Was an entire civilization built solely on the basis of logs of weathered driftwood that washed up on a beach or random yew branches that the wind knocked down?  Did no one think to swing one of those enormous battle axes at an actual tree from time to time?

Even fishing never progresses beyond a string on a stick… No fish traps? No one invented the throw net let alone a fishing boat?

A beautiful thing, yes. But how about a net?

Of course, a key component to making a system like this work is dangerous transport.  Without some risk, there would be little excitement to the process and less value in the product.  Lets add some transportation for the poor gatherers.  Start with a big backpack, claw your way up to a donkey, add a cart, maybe an ox team and wagon…

And of course, a nice big slow transport full of valuable goods invites bandits…

Seriously, I’d do this all day.

 
9 Comments

Posted by on April 24, 2011 in Eve Online, Everquest 2, LotRO, World of Warcraft

 

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The Rift Conundrum

…wherein I ramble on for a good bit and then sort of run out of steam but talk about tanks and surfing.

Wilhelm’s most recent post on Rift hit a note with me.  What got me was:

…, Rift doesn’t do anything about the things I don’t like about MMOs.

Servers for example.

Or shards, which is the term Trion Worlds has chosen.  But servers, shards, realms, or whatever, here is something that only EverQuest II Extended seems to have come close to solving.

There it was, open beta, and Trion already had a long list of shards, all of which were full, something which seems to indicate that the “I want to play with my friends, but they are on a different shard” issue is going to replay the way it always does.

And, of course, there is the whole level thing, the other great separator that keeps people from playing with their friends.

This.

This is not unique to Rift but perhaps its more acute because, frankly, Rift appears to be such an uncharacteristically strong offering in the genre.

It’s polished.  It’s evolutionary. It’s accretive. And, it appears to do nothing to solve the fundamental conflict that has plagued the entire genre of “persistant progression” games– I’m not even calling them MMORPGs.  If there’s a persistancy element to it, and a progression element to it, playing with your friends may be an issue.

Sure, many games have bolted on mechanisms to attempt to deal with this problem– mentoring, sidekicking, server transfers, etc..  A few have attempted to deal with it at the design level.  Eve is one of the few that come to mind where design consideration given to attempt to bridge that, but even with its skill based progression, which is in actuality time-based, it is difficult to mitigate the gap in progression that will inevitably creep in and impact collaborative efforts.  Guildwars certainly also attempted to do this by altering the progression mechanic with a low level cap.

This, my friends, is a tough nut to crack.

Think about all the ways that games prevent us from playing together.  Levels. Gear progression.  Content unlocks.  Separate Servers.

You’d think that a progression-based game was utterly irreconcilable with with idea that I should be able to play with my friends, regardless of disparities in progression, and still have a meaningful game experience.  Not in a charitable-I’m-helping-pimp-a-guildie sort of “meaningful” but a goddamn-we-all-had-a-great-and-rewarding-time-playing-together sort of way.

Eve seems to allow some of this with its purely skill-based approach, though time-based discrepancies inevitably creep in.  A noob tackler or miner may be able to make a meaningful contribution to fleet ops, but eventually the gap becomes unbridgeable.

Consider a very different game for a moment which I’ve been playing obsessively of late.  World of Tanks.  The matchmaking algorithm does a pretty decent job of creating a balanced match of tanks of different tiers on each team.

A brief example.  I had been progressing up the Soviet tree with aT-26 self propelled gun and pursuing the alternate path toward the fabled T-34 medium tank.  For fun, I decided to start working up the German and US trees as well.  Even though I may be reasonably advanced in the Soviet tree, switching to the US tree meant “starting over” in the lowly T-1 Cunningham.  But the matchmaking algorithm (and the game design) end up creating matches which pit a mix of higher and lower powered tanks against each other.

The “noob” or modestly progressed light tanks are lighter, faster and more maneuverable than the big guns.  Artillery is quite powerful, but slow, immobile and quite vulnerable to enemy fire.  The heavy tanks are slow, powerful and hard to kill.  So as a lowbie, I’m quite capable of applying my scissors to the paper of artillery or by spotting the enemy permitting the paper of artillery to cover the rock of the big tanks.  The result?  “weaker” units are in fact actually niche units in the game design and have a consistent and valuable role to play.

Granted, this is PvP and a “battleground” scenario.  Creating the same opportunity for collaborative play seem to particularly difficult to design.  Frankly its easy to call a match and see who shows up then simply divide the teams evenly based on perceived “progression”, “power” or “ability”.

Its much more difficult to do the same for PvE content.  How DOES one design content for the PvE player that is a challenge for both advanced and more novice players that provide the ever so elusive right amount of challenge to both without being susceptible to the problem of being utterly trivial to a group of highly progressed players or impossible to a group of lowbies?  By comparison, letting everyone play on the same server is trivial.

A while back, there was a discussion going on in the blogosphere about the “challenge” level of encounters and the skill of the player base.  What I came away from that discussion with was the idea that challenge was relative and that creating that challenge in a progression based game (whether that progression was fairly linear or wildly exponential is irrelevant) became increasingly difficult.

Once upon a time, I used to body surf and boogie board with a friend of mine in a spot near Half Moon Bay, California.  Nearby is a place a few people may have heard of:  “Mavericks“.  By all accounts, when the conditions are right, Mavericks is probably one of the toughest spots on the planet to surf.  People die there.  You have to be max level to attempt it and even then there is a gearcheck– you have to be towed into the wave by waverunner.

Raid Content

Mavericks is epic, raid quality, heroic level content.  The folks that surfed there were looking for the same thing I was looking for a few miles up the road on my wee 3 foot near beach break waves.  Give me something that is about X% just beyond my ability where I have a decent chance of success and a greater than zero chance of failure and I’ll run that all day long.  I don’t care if I wipe as long as I have a decent chance of success.

Being able to just catch that wave and then just be able to handle it, and occasionally hot dog it, was the essence of the PvE experience.  Progression just means the wave needs to get bigger and the mountain taller.

Facsimile woosin waves I used to "surf" (I have more hair btw)

But challenge is affirmed only in mastery, and after mastery, additional challenge requires progression and there in lies the rub.  How is the master challenged by the same content as the student?

I don’t have an answer, but the older I get, and the more demands I and my friends have on their time, means that gulf is exceedingly hard to bridge.  Still I refuse to believe that the only choices are to play only with people who have the same skill and/or time budget as you do or to “lower yourself” to playing only games that your time-constrained friends can meaningfully participate in.

As the first gamer generation ages– those that grew up both the PC and PC games– I’m hoping that the grey hairs among us come up with something to solve this fundamental problem.

 
3 Comments

Posted by on February 9, 2011 in Rift

 

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What I Did Last Summer

I can’t believe its been a full three months since posting.  Summer can be cruel.

Please Meet the New Eden, Same as the Old Eden

When last reported, I was hell bent on colonizing a wormhole in Eve which would be populated by my two accounts and a corp mate or two.  After an audacious start which involved lots of skill training and planning, I ended up with my entire POS staged and ready to deploy in that ideal wormhole system.

Despite my best efforts, that wormhole system just never showed up.  After weeks of searching nightly for an unpopulated Class 2 (even a Class 1, would have done) I was never able to find a suitable system at a time of day that would allow me to deploy the POS and get situated.  Nightly, I would surf about 10-20 systems in an ever increasing radius from my usual home system in Amarr only to find most were quite occupado.

Needless to say, it took some of the wind out of my sails, and being summer and all, I had a feeling that I started my assault on this personal Everest too late in the season for a bona fide summit attempt.  Eve it seems lends itself to the inclement and inhospitable weather of winter.  The long cold nights being a natural fit for the harsh realities in New Eden.

Somehow, fan on, windows open and the smell of barbeque wafting in is anathema to spending time in New Eden.  No doubt I’ll rekindle my interest AGAIN this winter.  I have a history of ramping up in winter/spring only to park Eve in the summer.

Azerothian Hiatus

As Wilhelm has been reporting, RL events disrupted our horde-side instance group work just as we were confronting the possibility of having to slog through Burning Crusade.  Divine Intervention it might have been, but I’m glad for the break which gave us a chance to return to…

Middle Earth, I Hardly Knew Ye

Yes, several of us returned to Lotro, partly in response to the announcement that it was going Free to Play in early September.  Wil has again been the scrivener and documented our exploits there.

Several things struck me about Lotro that I now realize that I had been missing badly in Azeroth.  Despite the convenience of the dungeon finder (particularly for old hacks like us who’ve been playing since release), Middle Earth is first and foremost a place.  It first struck me in beta that Turbine had indeed taken a vastly different approach to creating Middle Earth than most developers.

Middle Earth is very much a place and I find myself wandering quite a bit just to see what I can see and yes, there are things to see well off the beaten track.  With the expansiveness of Middle Earth, however, come some drawbacks.  ME, like much off our real worlds, is quite a bit filled up with bits that aren’t that interesting in a footstep by footstep way.

In previous lives, I recall several Vanishing Point quality road trips from California through the high desert of Nevada, over the Rockies and across the Great Plains.  And in a not entirely un-Kowalski like state, those journeys and the experiences of traveling those lands were best experienced “caffeinated” and through the windshield occasionally punctuated by bouts of extreme wierdness on a local level.

Middle Earth of course has yet to experience its Eisenhower and build its network of highspeed interstate highways.  Thus while I am continously enthralled by the feeling of place pervading Middle Earth, I find myself chafing a bit at having to travel quite so much.

I’ve long argued that sensible travel time is critical to creating both a sense of place and an opportunity for emergent gameplay.  However, what makes that travel interesting is the potential for interesting unpredictable outcomes.  Where that doesn’t exist yet the time factors does, you end up with something more akin to a time tax rather than the opportunity to reinforce the notion that you are resident in a vast untamed world.

Still, this time around I’m generally having a good time and even with our group of four, I’m looking forward to the advent of the F2P system with skirmishes available at level 20 to facilitate easy group play.

Return to Norrath

I might even be jumping the gun for Wilhelm’s annual Norrath Nostalgia fest that tends to arrive in the fall.  Exactly unlike Eve, the deepening golden twilight of shortening summer nights and the increasingly cooler winds which carry that slightly sweet sense of decay beckons to return to Norrath for perhaps, yes, one more turn on the nostalgia carousel.

Unlike many others, EQ2 has never been my “main” MMO.  Not that I don’t like it– au contraire.  In another universe, I could easily have spent the last 6 years in EQ2 rather than WoW.  Like Lotro, I’ve longed for the F2P option for EQ2.  This fall, they’ve decided to deliver.  Sort of.

This weekend (double xp weekend no less), I decided to drop into the EQ2 Extended “beta” (as Wil says, in a post-Google world, v 1.0 is “beta”– by that criteria, most of my life has been a beta– which is good because I can then think that I’ll correct all those mistakes on “release”….).

My overall assessment is positive.  If EQ2 has the potential to captivate you, EQ2 Extended could easily scratch that itch.  If you have deeper needs than that, you may run into what I call the EQ2/SOE dissonance, namely how can such a bunch of business asshats be responsible for the great game that is buried within EQ2?

I think Gordon from We Fly Spitfires has hit most of the issues and I can’t say I disagree with him.  Frankly, I woke up Sunday on a three day weekend and said, hrm… maybe I should check out the EQ2 Extended beta… I tend to try to pretend that I’m just a somebody seeing what its all about and what the “everyperson” experience would be like.

After reading WFS and Saylah’s posts over at Mystic Worlds, I decided to see whether Bronze (aka free cheap bastard) level would allow me to enjoy myself in game.  Races limited, classes limited, so I ended up with an Erudite Inquisitor to start.

Based on Saylah’s posts, I too decided to roll out in New Halas, mainly because I had never been there in any previous EQ2, but also because of the good things she said about the layout of the town and the housing.

With double XP weekend, I managed to rocket through to almost level 20 in a day, pick up the New Halas Courser noob mount and get to New Halas to start decorating my new apartment.

Man, housing in New Halas is WAY better than the ghettos of Qeynos.  Thats a big plus.  The basic noob apartment with the various bonus items from previous purchases and the many housing item quest rewards from the starting quests definitely had my new diggs looking fairly spiff.  And the EQ2 housing seems pretty much quite a step up from Runes of Magic.

Of course, with Bronze level, there are some glaring omissions which may or may not be a complete pain in the ass. First, I was jazzed to get a Legendary quality cloak item as a quest reward.  To bad that Bronze cheap bastards can’t equip anything north of mastercrafted.

Likewise, Bronze cheap bastards are limited to basically no storage.  This wouldn’t be that big of a deal if it simply meant that I had to grind gold to buy bags/boxes/bankslots.  But that would be too simple.  Bronze, of course, can’t access the broker (aka auction house) without purchasing broker tokens in the cash shop.

Now that sucks.  The kind of F2P model I like is agnostic as between time and dollars.  In my world, everything in the cash shop should be available for some expenditure of gold.  Eve, in my view, has got this figured out.  Plex can be purchased for in game currency via the market or for cash.  Players who have more time than money can choose accordingly and vice versa.

Unfortunately, I haven’t seen anyway short of an upgrade to solve the access to the broker problem.  And the truly unfettered access to the broker appears to only come at Gold (aka subscription minus) level access.

I think this is a huge mistake.  Frankly, one of the thing that is a big draw to EQ2 is the depth of its crafting system.  And, more importantly, its balance with the rest of the economy, i.e., crafted gear is quite desirable throughout much of the game.

At a MINIMUM, everyone should be able to participate in the consumptive economy.  A game’s economy via the time shifted purchasing and selling of items is really the heart and soul of a virtual world.  In it are buried the sum total of the populations varied and sundry activities, across experience levels, across time zones, etc.

Maybe I’m a noob, but quite often I’ll see something on the broker or auction house and wonder “holy crap, where did they get that?” and the pursuit of such an item then fuels further adventures in the wide world.  By locking out Bronze and Silver, I think SOE is missing a huge hook to get players to commit.

On the plus side, I see that crafting raws are available via the cash shop.  Whether the price is right is a matter of debate, but the concept is simply time versus money and with gathering, I tend to agree to that.  I enjoy crafting as a progression game in itself and gathering time is often merely a tax in time or gold.  This solves both.  I was amazed briefly when as a wee member of Jaye’s Revelry and Honor they’re gathering bots in the vast guild hall was able to provide raws as needed (within reason) to allow people to play the game they wanted to play.  Having mats in the cash shop is a reasonable subsitute IMHO.  I can choose time or money as desired.

I’ve got to say, there is simply something about EQ2 that either grabs you or it doesn’t.  What grabs you (me at least) tends to be something that doesn’t lend itself to lists like the many things that bug me or downright piss me off.  Nonetheless, I’m pretty jazzed that there is a F2P way to play EQ2 now.

The Future

I’m sure we’ll reconvene as a group for Cataclysm whenever that arrives.  In the mean time, I suspect our of time in investment in Lotro will keep us headed toward Moria.  No promises whether we make it to Mordor.

A backup plan for the group might be to roll on F2P in EQ2 Extended.  I know at least 3 of our 5 group would dig it, and the last two might be convinced particularly if the cash shop could smooth out some of our disparities in play time budgets, etc.

What I’m really looking forward to is Guildwars 2 though… but that’s another post.

 
 

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No Queue for you!

CCP has a pretty decent record of continuous improvement in Eve over the years.  Notwithstanding the ahem recurring ahem problems incident to an expansion, the new features and tweaks are generally well thought out and move the ball forward.

The skill queue is such a beast.  Even having a limited 24 hour window to automatically queue skills to start training while offline meant many good things.  For one, it took some of the pain out of broadening your skill set without losing precious training time.

With the training queue came the great feature to “inject” a skill which was basically consuming the skill book without actually starting the training.  A great innovation so you could start an entirely new course of training while offline.  Since levels one through 3 of a skill are generally short, this is ideal.  Queue up a bunch of short skills, cap it with a long one (just in case you can’t log on when you might expect to) and you’re golden.

Of course, the inject/queue feature fails to address one scenario: beginning to learn a new skill which requires the completion of a prerequisite skill.  Until you’ve fully completed the prerequisites, you can’t inject the skill which means you can’t queue the prerequisite and then the desired skill in sequence.

Such is the situation I find myself in past my bedtime.  My dread level V prerequisite (Anchoring V needed for Starbase Defense Management) was due to complete in a short but not nearly short enough time.  So, I whine, I blog and I wait it out.

I can live with the 24 hour queue window, even if I would rather it be maybe a week long.  But its tough that a prerequisite acts as a block to queuing through a training plan.  How about a conditional that would allow you to queue the new skill if you had the skill book in your cargohold?  If you sold it or left it in a station, too bad.  The risk of losing a potentially expensive skill book should more than counterbalance the convenience factor…

All in all a small annoyance, but since I had to wait, I thought I’d share my pain.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on June 2, 2010 in Eve Online

 

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No Room at the Inn

Wormhole diving and habitation seems to have gotten reasonably popular.  Mostly I’ve been trying to acquire what I think are some of the requisite skills to make a go of it with my two accounts.  While I’ve been acquiring all those ancillary skills that would allow me to be fairly independent (as well as able to defend my territory), I’ve been doing some wormhole diving getting my routine down.

For a mostly-mission runner rock miner player like myself, its been a bit of change of style.  Fortunately, my primary explorer character has covert ops which makes exploration fairly painless, though not without its occasional moments of terror.

After experimenting a bit, I seem to have struck a good balance using 4 Sisters Core Scanner Probes in my expanded probe launcher.  I’m using the Tech II Buzzard with Gravity Capacitor Upgrade rigs so resolving targets with my mostly all 4 scanner skills isn’t too time consuming.  I tried using 5 and 7 but I found it to take a bit more time than managing and moving 4.  Wormholes tend to be fairly strong signals as it is, so I seldom have to reduce the scan radius below 1 au to get to 100% scan strength.

Wormhole diving has forced me to work on my remedial directional scanner education (something that high sec miners and mission runners can successfully avoid almost entirely after the tutorial).  I’m getting fairly efficient in D-scanning down POSes I find in wormholes.  With the 14 au limit on the D-scanner, I’m getting used to checking out the layout of a w-space system as soon as I enter it to see if there are inhabitant.

Most of the time (but not always), the entry wormhole pops you relatively near the inner solar system.  Hence, a quick 360 degree D-scan tends to cover most of the system and lets you know if there are any ships or POSes in the system.

Of course, if the system is a bit far flung or your entry point is askew, a quick visit to the far sides and a D-scan will let me know if there are inhabitants.  And inhabitants (and former inhabitants) a-plenty there are.

Over the course of the last (casual) week, on my scanning runs, I’ve probably scanned down probably 20 wormholes.  Of those, most have been Class 1 or Class 2 (my desired target).  But of those 20, I’ve probably only seen 2 or 3 uninhabited systems.  In addition, I’ve come across three abandoned POSes.

On my last scan for the night, I also came across a vertiable wormhole city in J163138.  Its understandable why too.  That Class 2 system has a pulsar effect that adds 44% to shields.  Caldari shield tank heaven.  As soon as I warped in, I saw my shield “deficit” begin to fill up.  44% is an ENORMOUS boost.  No wonder there were several towers, ship manufacturing arrays, many many hangars, etc.  I didn’t stay long.

Initially, when I would see a Control Tower show up on the D-scan, I usually just exited the wormhole and looked for the next one.  Like a noob, when I saw a Control Tower on the D-scanner, I immediately assumed “inhabited” and bailed out.  Of course, if you don’t see “force field” on the scanner, then its abandoned or out of fuel.

Part of my basic routine, after ALWAYS BOOKMARKING THE EXIT WORMHOLE (which I’m sad to say I don’t remember to do 100% of the time) is generally to locate and visit any POSes which might be in the system.  Caveat, I do this in a T2 covert ops ship cloaked so there is relatively little danger.  So far I’ve only run into (literally) one warp bubble and there was nothing to decloak me nearby, so I just motorboated away and went about my business.

Seems I’m not the only one confused about POS design….  Clandestinely visiting all these POSes is certainly giving me a bit of perspective.  Given the wide range in organization and sophistication (or lack thereof), I’m feeling more comfortable about my general approach.

Still, I’m realizing that the hardest part of wormhole habitation may be actually finding one to live in!  I nearly pulled the trigger today even though I’m not entirely ready with skills and materials.  My goal for initial deployment is to try to find a wormhole to live in with an entrance within one or two jumps of my primary staging system to facilitate logistics.  Taking the advice of other bloggers, I’ve also been looking for a wormhole within a wormhole rather than one directly accessible to hi sec in hopes of finding one unpopulated, but alas, I only seem to find them during the week and past my bedtime….

I had scanned down about a dozen wormholes on Saturday (admittedly not a good day to find solitude in W-space) and finally found a fairly toothsome Class 1.  I wasn’t planning on Class 1 for a number of reasons.  First, you can’t get anything bigger than a battlecruiser through the entrance.  Second, the loot isn’t that good.  Class 1 meant no Orca which means major logistics and lower mining efficiency.

Still, a week or two in a Class 1 would let me get my feet wet in the shallow end of the pool.  Of course, I had planned everything for an Orca-enabled initial deployment (and no corp mates were online of course) so I decided to reorganize to fit everything in ordinary haulers.

Just as I was about to start loading up my hauler alt who was frantically running around the station trying to fit his hauler for stealth and gather bits, a battlecruiser gang showed up in the Class 1 system.  Of course, I could have just tried to dodge them and get the POS set up, but since I don’t REALLY know what I’m doing, I decided there were probably less foolish ways to throw away a few hundred million isk…

So, lessons learned.  I’m now reasonably prepared to deploy in a Class 1 if I need to.  I should probably not even consider it during the weekend because of the risk.  The more diving I do, the more comfortable I am in navigating W-space, looking over my shoulder, etc.  I was telling my wife, its a bit like swimming in the ocean.  At first it can be terrifying when you consider there might be sharks, but the more frequently you do it, the more aware of your surroundings you become and while not risk free, it certainly become much less terrifying as you become acclimatized.

 
5 Comments

Posted by on May 23, 2010 in Eve Online

 

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Placement of POS Defenses

So I Google, and I read, and I Google some more and I read some more… The topic of POS defense placement seems to be either so well understood that noobs like me just need to L2P or is such a closely guarded strategic secret as to be nearly impossible to find online.

To avoid confusion, POS Defense theory is rampant.  Plenty of suggested builds for different locations and uses (hardeners/no hardeners, dickstar/deathstar, etc.) but scant little information about where to actually place said defenses (and more importantly why).  There are plenty of helpful hints like “gun placement matters” and “spread them out”.  Useful stuff when you’re dealing with a sphere.

Not much to go on really, so I’m interested in feedback on where to locate POS defenses.  Part of the confusion/problem stems from the fact that people tend to use rather imprecise language when discussing the topic (see above).  So let’s go with a few consistent terms based on this handy chart:

For reference to places along a parallel or meridian lets use the old “o’clock” system:

Email me for the joke with the punch line "when the big hand is on the little hand"

After much discussion with a few friends and consultation with various online sources, the discussion seemed to come down to two different issues– (1) how much distance between units is advisable and (2) whether to array longitudinally along meridians or latitudinally (generally along the equator).  All approaches recommended units at the North and South Poles (although differing in views on the distance between units).

North South East West Who Knows Which Way is Best

The three general approaches are represented below with the help of a golf ball (the POS force field boundary) and cartoonish WWII era fighter planes and/or whimsical beatles (representing the placement of generic defenses, regardless of type).

Equatorial Configuration (Not to Scale)

Meridian Configuration (Not to Scale)

Spread out configuration (Not to Scale)

Dubious Truths for Which I need Guidance

I’m told that

  • its necessary to spread out the units all over the sphere because although the units can “see through” the POS force field, they cannot hit units.
  • if you don’t defend your ewar units with guns, they will go down.
  • if you place your defensive units too closely together (<10km), they will be susceptible to bombers.
  • its essential to place your units OFF the equatorial plane or your vulnerable.
  • its essential to place your units ON the equatorial plane since that is where the vast majority of attackers will approach.

A final piece to the puzzle.  POS defenses can only be placed in a band between 5km and 15km outside the force field.  With a large tower, that means between a band between 35km and 45km (Ewar is shown here by whimsical tools while guns are represented by cartoonish WWII fighter planes).

POS Placement Radius

“Conventional wisdom” suggests that ewar units should be near the inner 5km boundary and guns near the outer 15km boundary– which would conveniently give one about 10km between units even if they were located at the same “o’clock” position (whether equatorial, meridinal or otherwise).

Now, wise Eve community, what are the collective merits of these (or other) approaches?  My general idea for a WH POS was to adopt a deathstar approach similar to one of the ones that BoB use(d) to protect its Titans:

The Closest I'll Ever Get to Seeing a Titan

Namely, an equatorial approach (with N and S polar units) but generally concentrated at 8 points along the equatorial plane (12, 1:30, 3, 4:30, 6, etc.).

Is this POS defense set up a POS?

What am I missing?  Am I being too AR?

I’m sympathetic to the “spread out approach” but I’m not so sure that longitudinal gives you much more than equatorial. OTOH, I’m concerned that the spread out approach leaves ewar units more vulnerable than if they were closer together.

Help!

 
10 Comments

Posted by on May 16, 2010 in Eve Online

 

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Plenty of Free Parking

So there I was, minding my own business practicing my seven probe scanning in high sec and I was able to lock down a nice wormhole in my system.  I warp in cloaked to 10km off the WH in my Buzzard to see if there is any activity.


All quiet at this end, no significant disruption by ships so, I call back my probes, reload and hop through.  A quick check of the system on Dotlan Eve Maps (and/or Wormhole Explorer) tells me its a nice Class 2 hole.

I bookmarked the exit and start slow boating away from the hole cloaked while I get my bearings.  Before I drop any probes, I pop open the D-Scanner and this is what I see:

This place needs a valet

Man, that’s a lot of ship maintenance arrays!

I’ve scanned down and visited a few inhabited wormholes and most seem to have fairly pedestrian facilities.  Another class 2 I visited the day before had a large tower, a few defenses sort of hap hazardly deployed and a medium intensive refining array, a Corporate Hangar Array and one Ship Maintenance Array.  Now, each SMA can hold 20 million m3 of assembled ships and drones so thats 180 million m3 of ship storage.

For reference, an Orca has a volume of 10.25 million m3, a Hulk only 200k, a Drake only 252k m3 and a Raven only 486k m3.  Hell, even an Obelisk only occupies 17.5 million m3.  Even Carriers and Dreadnoughts are even under 1.5 million.

They only had three corporate hangar arrays (1.4 million m3 storage each).  Even if they consciously violated Letrange’s sage advice, that still seems a bit excessive for a class 2 wormhole.

Being a complete POS and WH habitation noob, I’m sure I’m missing something.  Someone please enlighten me why you’d need space to store the equivalent of 370 battleships in a class 2 wormhole system.

 
8 Comments

Posted by on May 14, 2010 in Eve Online

 

Tags: , ,

 
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