Monday, 28 October 2013

Eris: King Of Orbitals

You may remember from my previous Interdictor blog that I mentioned the Eris could potentially be a great orbital bombardment ship if it gained some turret slots. It seems the idea of a split weapon ship that people will actually want to use was unlikely, so they have now changed it to 7 turret slots. The difference between 7 and 8 turret orbitals is minimal, so looking at the current ship options for supporting ground battles, the Eris is now King.

Doing some rough numbers leaves it with a strong tank (well over 13k ehp), a rack of 7 small rails, a micro warpdrive, along with a spare mid slot and high slot. I don't have access to a fitting tool with the updated stats yet, but I feel the following will be the cookie cutter Eris fit for small gun orbitals.

7x 75mm Gatling Rail II
1x <High>
1x Limited 1MN Microwarpdrive
1x <Mid>
1x Damage Contol II
2x Energized Adaptive Nano Membrane II
1x 400mm Reinforced Steel Plates II
1x Small Anti-Explosive Pump II
1x Small Trimark Armor Pump I

Sadly I remapped away from ship skill attributes today before these changes came out and have no skills in interdictors. I will be sure to have my friends who can fly them try this fit when the new faction warfare changes come in though.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Making Money From New Eden

So I got into a small argument on twitter earlier, but managed to stop myself after remembering that's a bad idea and I won't be responding through twitter about this. I should probably be doing other work, but I feel like few have voiced an opinion close to mine.

It's worth noting before I begin that I haven't followed all of this Adolf Somer Stalin drama as closely as some, but I have grasp on the basics. Somer Blink and others are giving rewards to those who use their referral link for buying PLEX. These are in the form of lottery credit or straight up ISK payments. Through this method, it's possible to exchange ISK for small amounts of real life money. Because of it's roundabout nature, this doesn't violate the rule against trading ISK and real world money.

A group of players have taken issue with this however. Since even though this is "technically" allowed, it's an obvious loophole to get around the rule that was supposed to prevent this. I've heard that this kind of behaviour breaks the sandbox, but so does PLEX and people seem fine with that. When it comes to PLEX, you might be buying ISK at a rate determined by the in-game market, but you're still buying ISK with money. Considering how high the turnover on PLEX is, it seems people have been fine with a broken sandbox for a long time.

The fact is that there are lots of legitimate ways to turn in game money into cash. and both pay their staff in ISK while making ad profits on their websites. make advertisement revenue from their tournament streams while paying out prizes in ISK and more companies are looking to do the same (ESL are getting into Dust 514). That's not even mentioning all the streamers, bloggers and other content creators who make money from what they do as well.

In the interest of being honest about conflicts of interest, I run adverts on my blog and a number of my Youtube videos. I've had a lot of positive feedback about both of these and complaints are almost entirely about the content I've made. I don't think anyone has ever come to me and said I should be banned for doing what I do. Hell, Nintendo tried to prevent people on Youtube making money from their content and had to change their stance after it turned into a PR nightmare. We live in a world where people make money by creating content around the games that they play and that isn't likely to change.

There's a second problem people have with Somer though. CCP decided to give their staff a number of unique ships in EVE as a reward for their work. This is the more serious issue because it's straight up giving certain players an advantage over others. Allowing people to move ISK around in the sandbox because of purchasable items is one thing, but straight up handing people billions of ISK in assets is straight up ignoring that the sandbox even exists. This wasn't the first time either, they also gave out the same ships to SCL staff too.

If CCP wants to reward fans who work for third party websites, they should give out of game assets. Things like clothing, posters or board games would be appreciated and wouldn't upset the game.

The last point I'd like to go into is CCP promoting third parties. It's hard to criticize CCP for any kind of promotion of their fans. Mad Ani got a partnership on after a large amount of promotion by CCP. EVE radio (who make money via donations and premium services) will have CCP staff come on as guests and will see an increase in listeners when that happens. CCP have a program dedicated to promoting this and before this RMT drama, I never saw complaints about them promoting websites based around their game. It's weird to see quotes like this...
So to confirm, CCP give Somer huge advantages over their rivals such as prizes and promotion. They utilise an RMT loophole to make $$$. 
from someone who sells merchandise, has a history of interviewing CCP staff and has an article on CCP's website promoting his website.

I guess this entire situation is all a big mess though. CCP could close down this loophole, but other loopholes exist. Considering the amount of money involved here, it doesn't seem like the impact will be that much bigger compared to the sheer size of the PLEX system. Some players might cash out their hundreds of billions, but if that was all that was keeping them here, were they truly happy anyway?

For now though, the only people I see doing anything wrong here are CCP. Giving out unique rewards to groups of players outside of tournaments and events seems like a line they should avoid crossing. If the referral system starts to negatively impact the game, they can look into shutting that down too. For now, I'm going to go make some more videos though, before people come after those too.

Monday, 21 October 2013

New Faction Warfare: There Is No Grind

So with the new Faction Warfare announcements, one thing has been bothered some people. In order to reach the maximum level of standings with a faction, you will need to win over 1500 matches for said faction.

Already the complaints of "another thing to grind" are beginning to come in from people. But I might have the solution to this, something to make the grind not even be an issue.

Don't tell anyone what their standings are.

Well OK, you can give people a rough idea. But do we really need to tell people the nitty gritty details? Surely all anyone needs to know is whether they're in the green or the red. Lets say someone has won 50 matches and has no team kills, that person could be told they have "fair" standings with that faction. Push it up to 100 wins with no team kills and they're told they have "good" standings. Maybe use a medal system like in EVE and keep thing ambiguous.

So long as players have enough information to know whether they need to be careful with team killing or have some winning to do, they should be fine. Giving out exact details only serves to make it feel more like a grind. Players will feel a natural sense of progression without any kind of force to keep them going beyond what they find enjoyable.

These Faction Warfare changes are still months away, so it will be interesting to see where True Grit goes with this.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Dust 514 News And What EVE Players Should Know

Edit: There was a small mistake with this post. Planetary Conquest won't involve Sov, you can go blame Lt Royal.

So over the last 48 hours, a large amount of new Dust 514 content has been announced. While no items, vehicles or game modes were mentioned, we've been given a rough roadmap of the upcoming Dust-EVE linked content. By now, most Dusters that care know about these changes, so here's the important parts that EVE players will want to know about.

New Orbitals
  • Orbitals will be based on a king of the hill style system above planets. EVE pilots will have to run the timer down for their side to give Dust players the ability to call in orbitals for Faction Warfare and Planetary Conquest(?).
  • Kills from orbitals will give kill mails.
  • Faction Warfare pilots will gain loyal points from orbital bombardments.
Faction Warfare
  • Dust players will receive loyalty points for participating in Faction Warfare. Dust players who fight more for a side will increase standings and receive more loyalty points as a result.
  • Faction Warfare orbitals will be from EVE only, no more NPC strikes.
  • CREST will give data on Faction Warfare districts. This will allow EVE players to see the status of the ground war on websites like Dotlan.
  • It's still undecided if Dust players will ever be able to sign up to a single faction (like in EVE) and not just be mercenaries.
  • Expected to be rolled out over the next 3 or so months.
Planetary Conquest 2.0
  • All new PC system in the works. Will involve EVE players a lot more.
  • New EVE ship being added, the 'War Barge'. Will be required to start certain kinds of Dust battles in PC 2.0. Can only be flown by EVE pilots. Will be vulnerable to EVE pilots while travelling and vulnerable to Dust mercs during ground battles.
  • Will be involved with sovereignty mechanics in some way. (False info, sorry)
  • EVE developers already at work on this, so could be as soon as the next summer expansion?
  • Dust 514 getting a new market system that will allow trading between players. Another step towards EVE and Dust trading?

You can find all this mentioned during their EVE Vegas talk (starts around 4h 15m) and on the Dust forums.  

Friday, 18 October 2013

Heroes Of The Storm and Blizzcon 2011

A friend of mine was talking to me about the newly named DotA-like game by Blizzard, "Heroes Of The Storm". He wasn't overly fond of DotA but enjoyed a similar Warcraft 3 map called "Eve of the Apocalypse". Most notable for it's support of different maps and team sizes, EotA was pretty damn fun, but lived under the shadow of DotA.

Anyway, he told me just now that depending on the game's mechanics, he might be interested in giving Stormy Heroes a try. There was a talk by the team working on it at Blizzard back in 2011 which you can find below. I told my friend that I would list a few of the big differences for him to read on his lunch break.

  • Multiple maps and a serious effort to move away from the exact same map that every other DotA-like game uses.
  • Removal of mechanics such as last hitting in favour of certain creeps dropping health globes. This is probably to encourage more aggressive play styles over people sitting in lanes and farming.
  • Kill stats are based around the team and not around the individual. No more claims of people stealing each others kills.
  • A simplified item tree to prevent newer players being overwhelmed.
  • A number of mechanics that allow early game pushes to be extremely effective. Including heroes with strong pushing power and an ammo limit on towers with a slow restock time.
  • Something about having mounts instead of boots.
  • Killing the big neutral boss brings him to your side, forcing the enemy team to react or lose to the boss destroying their base. 

Whether all these make it into Stormy Heroes is anyone's guess, but we'll likely find out more at Blizzcon this year.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

A Merc's Thoughts On The Interdictor Changes

So while I'm at home with the family for a few days, I won't be able to play any Dust and very limited amounts of EVE. I still have time to write on my laptop though, so I'll be able to get a couple blogs done while I'm here.

Anyway, the new Interdictor changes coming in Rubicon were announced and since destroyers are still the primary means for planetary bombardment, the tech 2 variant is important to anyone looking to shoot up some districts.

Lets get the Flycatcher and the Heretic out of the way first. If either of these ships used turrets they would be the kings of small turret orbitals. The Flycatcher has the highest potential hp of it's hull size and would most likely have made an amazing rail boat. The Heretic has a great slot layout to support both a tank and a scram/web combo. Along with it's resist bonus and naturally great Amarr resist profile, a 6 or 7 laser Heretic could have been the best solo planet bomber in the game.

Both of those ships can still serve as good support vessels for any small bombing fleet though. The Flycatcher has a whopping 5 mid slots and the Heretic gets 2 utility mids as well. There's still a chance these ships might be changed before the expansion hits, but it's doubtful they will suddenly become turret ships in this balance pass.

The Eris is interesting to say the least. The potential from it's 4 low slots gives it a chance at running dual plates with a resist mod and a rack of small rails. It's problem comes in that it only gets 4 turret slots (and 4 launcher slots). A 4 turret orbital might be viable when the new mechanics come in, but for now it has to compete with the precision strike. Is a 4 turret hybrid strike worth it over a precision? Probably not and certainly not enough to justify risking a tech 2 destroyer over. With the new mechanics it could potential work as a solo kiter and being able to simultaneously fight people with missiles while bombing has it's merits, but there are better options.

There's a large amount of people against the split weapon system idea, so CCP may yet back down on it and go for a 6, 7 or even 8 turret version (a man can hope). If that becomes the case, the Eris will be the best planetary bomber in the game.

The future king of planetary bombardment is looking to be this next ship, the Sabre. With it's 4 mid slots and 7 turrets, it can fit 2 medium shield extenders and an adaptive hardner for an amazing tank (which also regens on it's own). The problem however, is that it uses projectile weapons. Tactical EMP S is often referred to as the "fluffy cloud orbital" because of it's complete lack of killing power (as well as looking like fluffy clouds). It could be used in clearing large areas of equipment or throwing down on a battle while armour based infantry and vehicles charge in. Sadly those are niche situations and have less application than the alternatives that can murder vehicles and clear swathes of infantry.

With this in mind, it's possible that a 75mm rail Sabre could be brought in since you mostly want it for the tank. Rails can hit out quite far with Spike, giving it a small amount of combat utility between bombings and being able to obliterate decent sized areas on the ground that it's aimed at. I guess the hardest part will be explaining the kill mail of a Sabre with 7 small rails, 3 tank mods in it's mids, a 1mn afterburner, a damage control and a magstab.

But hey, maybe they'll change their mind on the other 3 ships.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Please don't argue about balance on twitter

Last couple days, my twitter feed has been full of messages with 3-5 people tagged while said people try to argue their point. Because twitter only has 140 characters (including @ mentions), you're left with something like 70-100 characters to make your point. When it comes down to discussing anything, 70-100 words normally isn't enough to make a valid point, let alone 70-100 characters.

If you want to discuss balance, there are far more platforms that suit it better. Blogs are a great way to write a detailed explanation about something for example. Reddit is a good way to have a lengthy discussion while allowing people to downvote off-topic posts and fallacies. Chat locations such as IRC or private Skype groups are a good way to get a quick back and forth going. Hell, even the forums can be reasonable sometimes when people put the effort into their posts and ignore the trolls.

Twitter is inferior to all of these when it comes to any kind of discussion. Twitter is great for promotion, reporting problems, dick jokes and talking about what you just ate. It is not good for lengthy discussions where people need space to make a point.

I've spent the last 2 days watching my twitter feed be filled with people who all actually agree on the same thing (more spread out objectives). Due to the nature of twitter however, it's devolved into ad hominems and strawman arguments. What's funny is that talking about this on Skype with a group resulted in a paragraph that put the entire argument to rest.
Tower camping is only an issue when they can lock down half the map, including points. And blap anything that tries to get up there are take them off (bar a sniper. And snipers can't always get great angles in-map.. coz the mountains that go high enough are in the redline.
-Black Jackal

So can we keep this off twitter in the future? I'd greatly appreciate it and I don't want to have to unfollow people who otherwise tweet useful things I want to read.

The October 2013 Faction Warfare Event In Review

So credit where it's due, CCP have been trying new things when it comes to events. There's the standard double and triple XP events of course. There's also the grind X for items type too. The recent faction warfare event could be labelled as such, but the tie in with faction warfare is a new angle. Unlike the Caldari Prime event, the game now supports players choosing sides and there are actual benefits to the player for participating.

The Good

The event was announced weeks ahead of time, giving players some time to prepare. It's possible to get everyone in your corp/alliance to fight together on a single side, so queue-syncing is much easier to pull off. The rewards require effort to acquire and it's possible for the average player to reach the 20 match minimum.

The event also got people to really put time into faction warfare and it seems like many groups will continue to play it. Dust and EVE players are also reaching out to each other to work together. The rise of faction warfare as a much more competitive environment has allowed players to go full blast without the guilt of proto stomping. Anyone going into the warzone knows what they're in for.

The Bad

With no long term consequences, there's no reason for anyone to be loyal to any side. By itself, this wouldn't be so bad. In conjunction with the prize system however, you've got some real problems.

So each reward tier requires a certain win rate to obtain the prototype level gear. This alone would be fine, but with the game's current meta favouring certain suits/weapons/equipment, the strongest people will naturally gravitate towards the best rewards. In this case, most of the top players went Amarr. So what did everyone else with no loyalties also do? Joined Amarr.

I suppose it's my own fault for picking Minmatar, but the repair tools and mass drivers looked so nice. There were a number of groups playing Minmatar with some success, but why would the average corp pick the losing side when only winners are rewarded? CCP tout the "you're a mercenary" line when it comes to loyalty, but it's almost silly how one sided this all became. How CCP use the data from this event will be as interesting as how the playerbase interacts with faction warfare going forward.

Overall the event had some cool ideas and a good effort:reward balance, but favoured those who picked the winning side. It was interesting to watch play out, but I hope they try something different in future events.

p.s. Some more heavy rewards would be nice in the future.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Boots On The Ground S01E19

We go over Uprising 1.5, the new Squad cups, CCP Rouge and the faction warfare event.

Audio version on the right ->

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Dust 514 Community Helps Raise Over $8000 For Family In Need

For those not already familiar with this, the family of community member Jason "Quickgloves" Selby was recently struck with tragedy when his son Weston was born prematurely. Since then, he has been staying at the hospital with his wife and child, praying for Weston's recovery. While doing so however, he has been unable to work and would be unable to pay for their stay near the hospital.

Looking to support their friends, Christina Lockerd and Kimberly Bullock set up some fundraisers to help support Jason so he could stay by his child's side. News quickly reached the Dust community and a thread was stickied with details on donating. Donations started coming in along with a large amount of well wishes.

Shortly after, a fundraiser event was announced by drunk night organizer "DS 10". Donations of money to the fundraiser gave people a chance to win in game currency (ISK) for both EVE and Dust from a lottery. Billions of ISK were given out to those helped raise around $3000 in just a few days and the overall amount of money has now passed the $8000 mark.

It seems so surreal that I was talking to Jason a few weeks ago about he and his wife Amanda playing Diablo 3 together. I can't imagine what it's been like since then and I can only hope it all works out. I've already donated what I can, but the fundraisers and forum threads are both still open if anyone wants to send him some support.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Amarr Hold The Ground and Push The Sky

So in a strange twist, the past couple of days have seen the Amarr take every ground district in the warzone. What was previously a Gallente/Minmatar domination of the ground has changed completely over the last 48 hours. I also saw a post on the EVE subreddit today called "Amarr FW is in tier 2!" It seems the guys up in the stars are flipping systems and pushing back against the Minnies as well. I guess this is one of the best examples of the "One Universe One War" tag line playing out the way CCP intended.

So why the sudden change on the ground? On Tuesday, a faction warfare event started offering rewards to mercs who participated and won a certain % of their matches for a single faction. The rewards are varied by which faction you fight for, so looking at the current meta on the ground, a large amount of players are fighting for the Amarr because they offer the "best" rewards. The Minmatar rewards are nice too and I've personally been fighting for them, but the evidence suggests heavily that people want those drop uplinks more than they want the repair tools.

The bizarre thing about all this though is that while the rewards are nice, they aren't that nice. You're talking somewhere in the region of 5 million ISK on the Dust side to just buy them off the market. I've seen people throwing tanks close to that value into matches in order to keep their win ratio up. It's bizarre, but with not much else to do, I guess it makes sense that people will be going all out to get their rewards.

The event lasts until the 15th, so whether or not the Amarr will continue to hold everything past then is still unknown. It's possible we might see podsicles and bunnies start talking to each other to set something up going forward. There are a large number of mercs looking for work and with orbitals being a bit more commonplace now, the possibility of joint operations for a common cause exist. There's also methods of paying mercs across the games if you're willing, although the exchange rate heavily favours Dust right now (8:1 EVE:Dust).

Funny how a small carrot on a stick can impact so many.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Streaming On The 8th October

With the patch coming out on Tuesday, I'll be doing an all day stream (aiming for 8 hours minimum) to try out the new patch. During this, I'll be running open squads for people who want to fight for the Minmitar during the next event, so feel free to join in.

You can find my stream over on twitch. I'll likely start shortly after downtime ends.

Boots On The Ground S01E17+18

Forgot to do one of these last week, so here's both the new episodes. The past few weeks has been good in that I'm learning what direction to take the show and what to avoid. I was fairly unhappy with how episode 18 turned out, but 17 was well received.

Audio versions are on the right as usual.