Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Blog Banter 61: Chapter 1

Welcome to the continuing monthly EVE Blog Banters and our 61st edition! For more details about what the blog banters are visit the Blog Banter page.


TurAmarth asks this question: "What would we encourage ALL new players to do in their first month to get them to subscribe long term, if we had to give out one set of advice for everyone (which we do if we're giving general advice)?" 

To be honest, I expected writers to use this blog banter to promote their little niche of New Eden with. Not that I think it’s wrong to do so. Wormhole lords, null-sec barons and pirate commodores need new blood as much as the most genial mining foreman.

In fact, to show solidarity, I highly recommend Stay Frosty as being a great place to learn the ropes of pirating (perhaps after you've learnt the ropes in general). It’s friendly, welcoming, and has a strong focus on personal freedom, a genuine rarity in New Eden. Even if you’re a solo pilot just looking for a comm channel to fill the void, I strongly urge you to try it once. Not only that, but it’s headed up by the most notorious, gallant and cunning ebil scallywag to ply the stars.

I expect my cheque in the mail Rixx.
What's actually been written has been refreshingly realistic, and is focused more on general advice about the right kind of attitude to have as a fresh capsuleer. The ones I've read advocate trying everything. Great advice, if a little lacking in clear objectives.
So, no matter who you are, I have only one thing to recommend to new players, and something that I guarantee will keep you in space longer than any single activity:

Record the story.

Blog it, vlog it, personal diary entries, comic strips, kill boards, charts and graphs, tattoos showing how many ship kills you’ve gotten… anything to remember the story by. From spoken Captain’s logs to the humblest screenshot album, recording your personal story will keep you coming back.

New Eden is a canvas.

Some capsuleers will try to convince you that the market is the soul and centre of the galaxy. The majority will probably pontificate about the virtues of social corps, and the bonds of friendship. A little more will lure you into the trap of thinking of space as a massive gladiatorial arena. They are all right, but they do not have the whole story.

The EVE Gate led us to a wild frontier where all narratives are possible. A stardust sandbox, where kings are built grain by grain, battered by competition and blasted by misfortune.  Mighty sandcastles build upon thousands of capsules have been raised, and razed. All of these are fantastic stories, and most likely what brought you here in the first place.

So record it.
The one thing people can tell you about New Eden is how temporary everything is. That ship you slaved for, that horded wallet you ground out of space rock… all can vanish in a instant. Your cherished module, looted from an unsuspecting pirate, can crash in value at a moment’s notice. Even the Null-sec barons know how tenuous their empires are.

But your story can remain.

No matter where you end up, no matter how high you rise or how brilliant and destructive your fall, the one constant is your own impetus, and your continuing saga amongst the stars. That, and that alone, is safe from the galactic predators. Your story is something they can never take from you.

You owe it to yourself to have your chronicles made.

It doesn’t matter if they are never shared. It doesn’t even matter what the form is. Even the simplest kill-mail tracker or leader board is enough. The fact that you are aware of it, and are taking part in the crafting of your legacy is what will drive you. It is what will bring you back to hostile space and under fire, again and again.

So if you are starting off in New Eden: Record your story.

I look forward to seeing all of your Chapter 1s.


Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Slice of the Ol' Pirate Life

The stack of paper glared at me with the intensity that only ink and expectations can give.

I leaned back in my chair, rubbing my tired face with stained hands. The damned black stuff got everywhere, no matter how careful you were. It didn’t even seem to matter most of my work was done at the keyboard these days.

A cheery beep from my terminal reminded me of the half-dozen deadlines for tomorrow.

Take some time to appreciate the situation, I told myself. You’ve got a family to feed, and students who rely on you. And you wanted the shift from teaching language to hard science. Better prospects all around. All you need to do is push through these months of truly hard work, and everything will be better.

Don’t think about that government service job you applied for on a whim. Doesn’t matter you’re through to the second round. You have to think of a secure future.

All good points, I agreed with myself.

The stack of assignments and training plans shifted its glare to impatient gloating.

I need to get out for a while.

I left the sombre, confining office, and wandered out to the living area, my wife conspicuously absent. It wasn’t safe enough to bring her to Ardar yet. She was busy being pregnant with our first child back on Hek. Just a comm call away, but our schedules had fallen out of synch. She should be asleep by now.

I fled the empty, claustrophobic quarters, meandering aimlessly around my small section of the station. My corporation had a few levels rented out for members, but I was the only current occupant, footsteps clanging down the darkened hallways. Had to save power on the lighting bills these days.

I stopped abruptly outside my personal hangar. Three sets of key cards hung on the rack, each coded for a different frigate. Just two Rifters and the Prospect here. A fraction of the fleet gathering dust in Hek. Two Rifters.

I didn’t bother with the furtive glancing around. They were my ships, and if you can’t take your own damn ship out whenever you wanted to, what was the point in shelling out the ISK for it?

I grabbed the card for the Rhys Tai; a little project before I started training for my new job. Standard fitting, with plate and ancilliary repper, 200s and trinity tackle. The devil was in the details for this one. Two projectile ambit extensions instead of the standard nano-pumps.

I was of two minds about it. The nano-pumps were a nice, safe, and easily quantifiable advantage, based on the sound military principle of being on the positive side of damage in versus armour repaired.

The ambits, on top of the Rifter’s already impressive range, gave a much more incalculable advantage. Distance against hard firepower was always tricky, but I was confident the Rifter could exploit this advantage well.

Mostly confident.

Within moments the little Rifter prowled out into space. Its butch form was a fa├žade. This frigate needed a delicate touch, and a careful, considered mind. But still, by looks alone, it is one of the more empowering pod sheathes.  

I jumped a few systems, leaving the paperwork to glower in my ion wake. Just an hour or two away. To fly amongst the stars… And then I’ll be good. I’ll willingly press my face to the grindstone.

The various low-sec denizens fled before me, like startled pigeons. The pirate colours I fly tended to have that effect. I don’t begrudge them it. When I fly the Prospect, I act in the same way. Prudence over bravado is my usual running order.

Not today.

A Slicer on scan.

He who dares…

I warped to the complex gate, slightly changing my initial contact tactic. I tend to gamble on warping in on top of my opponent when using Rifters, a habit born from my early days of flying brawling frigates. Today I started 30km out.

The Slicer probably couldn’t believe his luck! A clapped out old Rifter, flown by a pilot so rusty he melded into the Matari penumbra, and right at his optimal range! Incredible!

Pulse fire came in stripping shields with ease, and chewing through armour with equal abandon. Reppers cycled, but the inevitable stream of fire began melting holes of vulnerability.

But it wasn’t going all his way. It wasn’t, in fact, going his way at all.

My own projectiles had punched through his shields, even as he orbited at 20km, the ambits casting the hail of radiated metal across the gulf between us. His micro-warpdrive made him an absolutely massive target, his signature bloomed out like a waiting flower, my own, Matari engineered radius needle thin in comparison.

I managed a text book slingshot manouver, something I’ve never been able to pull off before, and his incoming fire dropped to a trickle. I was neatly under his guns.

Victory was nearly mine when both my rocket launcher and auto-cannons burned out, melted to slag through over use. I made some efforts at escape, but the inevitable happened, and the Rhys Tai erupted into flames.

I set my pod back to Ardar. Just twenty minutes since I left.

It was… perfect.

Well, not the exploding part. But that was a minor set-back, caused by a little inattention to heat levels, and clumsy, out of practice hands at the controls.

The slingshot perfect. The theory behind the ambits verified, at least in this one test. The Rifter could easily match most mundane kiting frigates, and some navy specials, whilst still brawler fit.

I attacked the stack of papers with renewed vigour, its glare reduced to a morose stare.

Everyone needs a little slice of life every now and then.