April 23, 2017

Looking back on Fanfest, with lots of pictures

Fanfest was a great experience.  It's one thing to hear people say that every Eve player should get to Fanfest or one of the other big events, but it is another thing to be there are surrounded by all of your fellow Eve players.

Kyonoke Inquest propaganda postings
Inquest attendees hard at work puzzling through the data

I was particularly impressed with the Kyonoke Inquest event, but I won't say more here since I wrote three articles about it for Crossing Zebras. (Will Eve Players RP?, Op Success?, and Wrap-up).  I even got a chance to talk about it on my first podcast appearance ever, Crossing Zebras 68: Fanfest.

I'll be looking for more on the Kyonoke Inquest and its consequences from The Discourse.  The actors from The Company P really adapted well and held the whole things together.

While I'm an (amateur) photography buff, I didn't end up taking a huge number of pictures of FanFest itself, and left my DSLR in my room.  My new iPhone was pretty nice for the casual shooting through.  One little thing I did involved a tiny stuffed animal, Oorg, that my daughter sent with me to keep me company.  On impulse I asked a few people to pose with Oorg and the results were great.  I only wish I'd done more of it.

Max Singularity and retinue
(I should have gotten their names too)

Ariel (amongst other names)

Cyrillian Voth.  I love his puzzled look.
Of course there were panels and presentations to attend
And of course wherever you go there are Eve Players, including as you walk around Reykjavik.

I think that in the end the presence of the community is what draws a lot of players back to FanFest.  Going to The Laundromat Cafe and sitting down with Eve players, or if you're not feeling so sociable, perhaps you just smile at the shirts and badges that you recognize.  I'm not sure if you can get this kind of density of Eve players in the other events (Eve Vegas, Eve Nottingham, Eve Down Under, Eve Amersterdam, etc.) like you can in Iceland.  For me seeing Iceland was astounding as well, and I'm looking to bringing my family one of these days... preferably when I can manage to get in another Fanfest.  Whoever is reading this, I hope I can see you there some day as well.

(Sorry for the layout - Blogger isn't exactly a sophisticated image presentation system.)

March 24, 2017

Preparing for Iceland and Fanfest

So my time and Eve has been shortened lately. And it's going to be even shorter over the next week as I prepare the final details of visiting Iceland for FanFest.  Appropriately enough as I finish up writing this, CCP Falcon has posted the Eve Fanfest 2017 Megablog.  So let's talk about seeing Iceland, and not just the inside of the Harpa and nearby pubs during Fanfest.

I'm going to be arriving early so I can do some sightseeing around the beautiful country. I am an amateur photographer so I am very much looking forward to the fantastic geography that Iceland provides. Honestly, the beautiful images I've seen are intimidating - the place looks so beautiful I would hate to take photos that don't do service to it.  I'm not going to be trying to haul too much in the way of gear.  I think that the real trick for packing will be getting the tripod along without having to pay for another bag just for it. 

From Brittannica.com: Aurora borealis over the Snaefellsnes peninsula, western Iceland, March 2013
We'll be just at the end of the time period for aurora borealis, as I understand it, but it would be a nice bonus.

For all that I've heard about Iceland being well ... icy ... it amuses me that it is warmer there than it is in my home right now near Boston Massachusetts.  Of course I've also heard that the Iceland climate is highly variable so it's best to plan for it to be colder.  I can only imagine what the wind coming in off the North Atlantic is like.  I've heard some negative comments about tourists trying to hike over glaciers in their jeans certainly so I'll make sure to bring some heavier clothes and snow pants.  A layer of thermals sounds like a good plan too.  If it is so cold that thermals, flannel lined pants, and snowpants doesn't cut it then I probably shouldn't be outside anyway.

If you're considering getting some sightseeing in while you're at Fanfest, and not just the CCP scheduled Sisters of Eve tour, I'd recommend checking out the blog I Heart Reykjavik.  It has a nice sense of humor about it along with some very practical, non-salesy information.  There are a lot of options for seeing Reykjavik and Iceland, particularly since tourism has been a huge part of Iceland's recovery from the banking crash that practically took out the country.  Unfortunately it sounds like tourism has been so popular that there is a bit of backlash (see "Is Iceland Overcrowded with Tourists").  If you've ever lived in a tourist spot, you probably know how they feel.  So, my fellow Fanfest attendees, please represent yourself, your country, and Eve players by treating Iceland and it's people well while you're there!

I'll be arriving on Saturday 01 April (no joke!) and then leaving on Sunday 09 April.  I'll be renting a little 4x4 from Cars Iceland for the touring part of the vacation prior to Fanfest.  The first day I've got a walking tour of Reykjavik lined up with I Heart Reykjavik, and i'll be catching How To Become Icelandic at the Harpa at night, which sounds hillarious.  Then it's off to the south coast to Vik, then Hof (note: not the same as Höfn - made that mistake during planning at one point), and the Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon.

Image from theplanetd.com

Wow, right?  All of these places are theoretically only two hours or so apart from one another on the highway.  (yeah, "the" singular highway)  However, there are so many cool things along the way that it's going to be slow forward progress really.  Add to that the possibility of weather issues.  Check out this google map of places to see on a southern route, courtesy of I Heart Reykjavik.  I'm really back and forth between a tendency to want to plan all my details of each place and playing it by ear.  The fact that work has been really busy has helped discourage me from too much overplanning though.

If you're planning on sightseeing prior to Fanfest, feel free to drop me a line.  I'm fully planning on enjoying doing this solo as a decompression prior to the chaos of Fanfest, but I'm all for sharing notes or getting together for a coffee / beer / brennivin.

March 13, 2017

CSM 12 - That snuck up on me

I'm not sure if the period from the opening of candidacy for CSM to the actual voting opening was any different this time, but it sure felt that way.  Most of that is how busy my RL has been, but it's also because my podcast feed wasn't full of CapStable interviews.  Crossing Zebras has taken a shot at it between Ashterothi's interviews and the Declaration of War panels (yes, the tags on CZ weren't consistently applied, so just look around), but it's definitely no replacement for the massive amount of work that the CapStable guys put into this in the past - and which probably burned them out from doing it again this time.  A big thanks to all of the media folks who got CSM interview information out there.

By the time I realized it was well underway I wasn't going to do my usual summary of the candidates (all 64 of them), particularly since information was spread over the meta.  I don't have as complete a picture of the candidates at all, but it's time to get that voting in.  I hate being under-informed about this, but I realized this was going to have to be a time-boxed exercise.  So here are my top five candidates - arguments are welcome and may sway my vote by the time I get around to plugging them into the interface.

Scylus Black: I'm glad to see him getting out the word about factional warfare.  Even if FW isn't coming up soon on the roadmap, having someone to advocate should help CCP understand the impact of their new features on FW.  Perhaps it will even help get FW on a  future roadmap.  I'll be at Fanfest, hoping to hear good news.

Steve Ronuken:  Look, does anyone ever doubt this guy should stay on CSM as long as he can stand it?  He's probably the one CSM everyone agrees on.

Commander Aze: I didn't rate him highly last time around, but he's stuck with it and has been improving his message.  I'm also feeling a lot of sympathy for the highsec folks, while feeling the nullsec bloc folks don't need my vote.

Jin'taan: The exception to that preceding sentence.  I've been hugely impressed by his work to improve the communication coming out of the CSM.  As a members of the Declarations of War podcast he has consistently asked candidates what they will do to make the CSM better.  This is the change in mindset that we need and I'm hoping he'll continue to help make happen.

Suitonia: He's clearly got a great understanding of the details of ships used in small gang work (which is where I like to play).  Having at least one such CSM is probably good, though it sounds like he's been able to make a lot of contributions via direct contact from CCP as well as the focus groups.  One note though - if you're going to link your blog from your candidate page, it's probably best if you've actually posted within the past twelve months.

After I get through those five I'm not really finding many other candidates on the list that compelling.  Maybe Vic Jefferson (3rd time running, not much new info from my negative review last time)?  Maybe Kalen Tsero (he wants to support lowsec but doesn't know FW mechanics and people?)  Who else am I missing?

March 3, 2017

BB80: Is it feasible to have a FW representative on CSM 12?

BB80 asks if CSM12 will be dominated by null-sec with no voice for hi-sec, low-sec, and WH players.  I think there’s a chance for low-sec this time around if FW can show that it pulls together and votes in a candidate such as Scylus Black. But how good is that chance?

CCP Seagull encourages you to get involved in CSM12 and put your name forward to be a Space-Politician. On his blog Neville Smit noted that CSM11 had done a good job with minimum of drama. However he said he’d not be covering CSM12 like he has in previous years as he sees no point. The power-blocs will vote on who they want and unless Steve Ronuken manages to get on CSM12 it is almost certainly going to have every seat taken by the big null-sec blocs.
Is Neville right? Is the CSM moving more and more into just a voice for 0.0? Is this a bad thing? Are the hi-sec, low-sec and WH players going to lose out badly or is it really not an issue as it's the same game? Could a totally null-sec dominated CSM 12 give a balanced voice for everyone?
I’d like to agree with Kirith that it is possible for a FW candidate to make it onto the CSM.  Let’s take a quick look at the numbers.  According to some analysis from Fuzzy Steve the threshold for getting on the CSM is at #voters divided by seats plus one, plus one.  If we have about the same number of voters as CSM 10 (i.e. before the big disappointment of that CSM), that threshold is about 3364. If we stay at the historically low number of voters that voted in CSM 11 then that threshold is about 2045. So how many Faction Warfare players are there that are engaged enough to vote?

I’m going to stick my neck out and say that if you’re in FW but you aren’t active enough to be considered an active PVPer by zkillboard, then you’re probably someone’s farming alt or not engaged enough to vote.

Total 3,936

Ouch on those numbers for the Minmatar.

So that’s not terribly promising.  We have enough people in Faction Warfare that if all of the active PVPers voted their #1 slot for the same FW candidate (such as Scylus Black) then they’d get on the CSM, assuming turnout numbers like CSM X.  On top of that, we have to discount those numbers by how many people in Faction Warfare are Alphas, and thus ineligible to vote.  If turnout was down to CSM 11 numbers, then we probably should discount our raw player counts for the same reason. We could hope that FW players have more than one active account (and thus more votes) but that may means they have more than one active PVPer in our counts as well. Those are some pretty big IFs.

That tells me that Scylus Black not only needs to make the rounds with all of the Factional Warfare corps, but also needs to broaden his pitch to include other lowsec residents (aka pirates).  The good news is that we in FW are already pretty well acquainted with them via the vigorous pew pew that happens every night.

But he’s got his work cut out for him.

January 20, 2017

Stratios Vacation: Part 2

When last we left the tale of my Stratios Vacation I had decided not to head home but instead to log off in Cloud Ring.  I logged back in and indeed the WH to Lasleinur is gone.  I did have a momentary panic because I hadn't reloaded my probe launcher before I logged, and it occurred to me that I might have left my probes out to expire.  The changes made a while back that auto-retrieve your probes means that it is probably hard to actually lose them nowadays, but just in case that's probably a good point for other explorers: make sure you have a spare set of core probes on board.  I probe down the new single new signature - it's one of those low sig sites, but by the time I get to 0.5 AU it comes up as a Gas Site.  Nevermind that.

Moving from system to system I found that the area was strikingly absent of signatures.  Enough that I wondered if the locals make a point of running/rolling them, though I can't imagine they can be bothered to roll wormholes in such space.  Eventually I find a Relic Site and actually successfully run it to find about 7M worth of material.  As I start to move to the next can someone enters local, so I aim away from the can, hit the MWD to get range and go for the cloak - just as a Helios lands, with the charming pilot name of "SpaceSlut 3000" - definitely classy.  Anyway, the key question was "did he see me?"  I circle back towards him under cloak.  He's 24km away, so quite a bit more than my scram.  And he's off before I can make any other decision.  Musta saw me.

I move on to the next system and find seven signatures waiting for me (see what I get for complaining?).  After a couple gas sites, my classy Helios pilot enters system, accompanied by a Stilletto.  Meta 0 core probes drop, and the Helios stays on scan.  Our SpaceSlut is apparently only four months old, and doesn't have cloaking skills yet.  But he (no, I can't imagine the player of such a character is female) does have a friend (or a main, as the Stilleto pilot is from 2010) that can keep an eye out for them.  Good combination, I'm not interested in trying my luck there.

So time to move on - which brings me into the region of Fade.  Hey, I can see Deklein from here!  As I come into system, there's another null resident I happened to be in system with.  Right as our charmingly named pilot comes back into system, he apparently gets nervous.
Is that for me or the classy pilot? Who knows.

I moved along and got to a much more populated system (8W-OSE).  As soon as I cleared the gate, I was greeted in local chat, along with a posted image

This is more like what I've heard of nullsec residents keeps an eye out for intruders, and probably a bit more attention than I'd like.  In a Stratios I expect I can clear most gatecamps but, there's always a risk of an instalocker or a spread of wrecks/cans.  I also have seen the same toon appear in system about 66% of the time after I enter, so I'm starting to wonder if that's chance or if he's keeping an eye on the neutral.

I double back towards Cloud Ring.  In warping through I notice warp disruption bubbles.  They aren't in quite the right place to block my warp, but it's a good reminder.  I moved on back and there doesn't appear to be any pursuit.  Things quiet down and empty out as a I move away, so I get to a safe and put out some probes to check out the signatures. In the middle of scanning local shows the arrival of a new pilot, so I hit d-scan and see a Gnosis.  A check on the new pilot shows that it's a new character, started about when Alpha pilots became possible.  Hmm, a Gnosis is a logical ship for taking on bigger rats or even scanning for an Alpha pilot... but it's also a very well known hull for baiting.

Okay, so d-scan down the Gnosis.  I'm trying to use the d-scan by range trick that I've heard people describe rather than the more intuitive angle-scan approach.  Basically if you go to 360 degree scan and start reducing your range, you'll probably find that there's only one celestial at the range where the target disappears.  If you go by angle you'll have to do the sector by angle and then reduce range.  In any case, if the Gnosis shows up at a belt or an Anom then I'm going for it I figure, counting on my better character skills compared to the greater size of the battlecruiser.  Instead, it turns up near a gate.  That's a flag, but I warp over under cloak to check it out.

The Gnosis is orbiting the gate at range and I don't recognize the turrets definitively, but they look like they might be Rapid Lights, which would be good for dispatching light tackle.  The lazy wide orbit of a gate only seems to make sense as bait to me, so I warp away rather than try my luck.  If he had gone to the belt nearest the gate and shot a rat I might have gone for it, and the way I've see Gnosis set for bait I bet he could have tanked me until his buddies showed up.  The only trick might have been whether he could have kept tackle.  Given that I had a scram and neuts I would have been in range to be scrammed and webbed down, and if the Gnosis had a cap booster then it could have kept point on me despite the neuts.  But no.

Instead, I check out the signatures.  This area is feeling pretty responsive to neutral presence, and not terribly interesting for solo hunting, so when I find a wormhole to a C5 I decide to move on in.  That leads to a C2.  Googling shows someone on the forums once lived here and then was trying to buy a path back after accidentally rolling themself out.  The C2 has a static C4 and static high, so that could be interesting.  I log off here for the night, figuring I can use this as a good point to find something new next time I log in.

Good night, sweet wormhole! Good night, cloaked Proteus!

January 16, 2017

Fanfest 2017 Ticket Contest

Are you thinking about Fanfest 2017, but you haven't gotten tickets yet?  Let me help you make up your mind.  CCP has given fansites an extra ticket to give away, so here goes.  The contest is simple: comment on this post about what you like to see in Eve fansite blogs (as opposed to full-blown media sites like CZ, EN24, IN, etc).  I'd appreciate it if you can point out if my blog here has ever covered what you want, but if you're just honest and say "I never read your blog until this contest" then that's fine too.

I'll choose a random comment that fits that description on Friday and have CCP send you the ticket. Make sure you include some way for me to contact me in your post!

CCP legalese-type notes: Tickets are only for admission for Fanfest itself. This ticket does not include any extra events that require separate tickets, and CCP is not offering to pay for your hotel or flights. CCP will not be able to send goodie bags to those that can’t attend in person.

On that last point, I'd be pretty annoyed if the winner of the ticket didn't go, so please don't enter if you don't think there's a decent chance you'll go.  To help incentize that, I'll throw in a free drink for the contest winner if we can get together at some point during Fanfest.

Good luck!

January 11, 2017

Stratios Vacation: Part 1

On New Year's Day I decided it was time for something a little different - particularly since the family is away visiting my wife's best friend.  A change of pace from the usual FW play, though as I noted in the last blog there certainly has been a good bit of content there lately.  So I packed up a Stratios and headed out into the great unknown.  This entry (and some coming up) will be the tale of how that little vacation went.  I'm also going to try to get back to my "Lessons Learned" bit that I used to include regularly in the blog.

Note: I'm trying some things I'm decidedly not an expert at, so don't try this at home kids!  Oh, and advice on what I did wrong is quite welcome.

Setting Out. I decided not to post the fit right off the bat since as of this moment the hull hasn't been lost and I'm not good enough at this game to give up too much info.  The general plan though is that I want to be able to PVP when the opportunity arises, but I have a mobile depot to swap things out.  I even have relic and data analyzers in the cargo, though the last time I did hacking was back when the cans would spew out all over the place.  I figure there's a very good chance this Stratios is going to die, so insurance is bought and it's time to undock!

Probing: I always use the pinpoint pattern.  As far as I know you would only use the spread pattern if you're trying to quickly figure out how many items of interest are in the area, without immediate need to resolve them to 100% and warp.  Perhaps the combat probe experts might have something more to say about that.  Another trick that newer folks might not know is that sites/WHs are always going to be within 4 AU of a planetary body, so you can save a pass at 8 AU in many cases where the red sphere of uncertainty is off-center of that planet.

I see a corpmate has already found and bookmarked a wormhole to a C3 right here in Suj, but there's also another WH sig that hasn't been investigated, so I scan that down and warp to 20 km, which is my usual safe distance to be able to check it out without being so close as to bump into someone (or the WH) and lose cloak, but still be within range to burn in and go through a WH easily enough.  It's a lowsec hole, so that sounds like potential fun.

Lasleinur (0.2, Metropolis, Minmatar held).  There are 7 in local, and I'm seeing frigs and dessies on d-scan.  I don't want to get caught up in a fight with a bunch of those.  There are 10 signatures, so I start working them down, looking only for WHs as this system is too busy to try hacking or a combat site.  My general practice is that if I scan down a WH I'll warp to it to check it out while I move the probes on to the next sig.  I forgot I had left myself cloaked off a C6 hole, and then got a surprise when I heard the wormhole splash sound.  I panicked for a moment that I'd been decloaked as I switched back from the probing window just in time to see it was a Cheetah passing through and I was still cloaked.

Along the way I found a tiny, hard to scan signature.  When you're at 1AU and only 12% or so, it's something unusual.  If it had been a hole to a shattered WH system then I might have turned around and gone back to Suj to reship to check it out.  But instead, Relic Site. :(

I'm finding it distracting as corpmates post juicy kills on the corp channel, but I stick with it.  Time for a vacation, right, gotta stick to the plan.

My general practice is to decloak and reload the probe launcher as I'm burning for the wormhole, so that it's loaded when I come out the other side.  I wonder if that's what other people do?

U65-CN (-0.1, Cloud Ring).  I see this is listed as -0.01, which if I understand right means it's terrible for ratting and such. It does show 142 jumps in the last 24 hours, so I'm guessing people pass through it on their way elsewhere since it looks pipe-ish, but it's empty now. I kill some belt rats as I scan, as I can use the security bump. I'm at -6.3 and have been annoyed recently at that keeping me at a disadvantage with gate guns and out of travelling shallow highsec shortcuts.

Lets try hacking: Central Serpentis Sparking Transmitter. I fail hacking the first mainframe, and after failing the next datacom unit I decide either this one is too hard for me or I need to watch some videos on how to do hacking.  It feels like some things have changed since this first came out, and I'm not sure what. There are little numbers that appear in the nodes when you click on them, so there must be some data there I'm not getting.

I make up for it by shooting some rats in belts, though I was really hoping to find one of the special type of rat (like a Shadow Serpentis).  No luck though, and I come to realize that Wardens were a terrible choice of Sentry since their optimal is longer than my drone control range in this Stratios.

It's now an hour in and I certainly haven't been moving as fast as I could.  I'm pretty happy with trying out things here in null. Since this area of null looks like it could be good, I decide to duck back and get a better drone loadout to match the rats.

On my way, I get distracted by the fact that Lasleinur has a DED Security station. I've been meaning to trade tags for security status lately.  So, 48M ISK and many of my stored up tags later, I'm a reformed citizen, from -6.3 to -1.3.  Good enough to get me into highsec systems again.

Back to U65-CN, at least after I made myself some lunch

Lets try ratting. I refit for PVE and ran a small site (Serpentis Hidden Rally Point) while eating lunch.  Actually, it took longer to run the site than eat my lunch, hanging out at 50km or so with Gardes boosted by my Omnidirectional tuned for Optimal Range.  That's just inside one falloff, so then they charge towards optimal.  If I wanted to really rat I suppose I need to be ready to refit to three DDAs.  This is something I remember hating about rating like this.  It takes forever and just when you think you're done there is one more wave.  So eventually I said "forget this" and warped off.  Two people had come into the system and while I couldn't see them on d-scan, and there weren't any probes out, it could be easy enough for one of them to be approaching under cloak or in a recon.  So back to my safe, refit back for PvP and time to move on.

Except - there's a new signature showing.  I scan it down, and find it's a relic site.  Still in my PvP configuration, I head over to take a look at it.  As I arrive I hit d-scan and see core probes ... but I've already pulled mine.  The two people I'd seen in local earlier are gone and now there's a new person.  Hmm... what are the chances he'll want to come run this relic site and I can be waiting for him.  Still under cloak I slowboat to about 20km off of the cans and wait while I do other things around the house, peeking at the screen and hitting d-scan regularly to see if anything had changed. (Is this what Cloaky Bastard does?)

As I check back I see now there are combat probes out.  I double-check to make sure I didn't somehow bump something and lose my cloak (whew, all set).  But the combat probes tell me that that the local isn't happy with the intruder in space.  That works out okay since the family is just about home, so I move off to a safe and then safe-log.

No going home (yet): I didn't head back through the WHs to home station.  I expect that one of those WHs will be gone by the next time I log in, even if it's just later tonight.  Now that I've gotten my security status up, I feel better about wandering about without a way home.  It won't be that terribly hard to find a place to dock in lowsec or highsec and clone-jump back to Suj if there's something important I want to be a part of.  That wasn't really possible with my old security status.  Now as a Gallente FW member I'm not welcome in Amarr or Caldari space, so there is still a lot blocked off, but at least I can get into Gallente and Minmatar highsec.

The first session of the Stratios vacation hasn't resulted in any kills, and the ratting was not great from an ISK perspective (6.8M/tick) compared to what I hear of valuable null areas, but I'm enjoying the new space and trying to new things. There's no backup out here if things go wrong.

And maybe that's really part of the excitement of it, after all.