15 December 2009

Names you learn as a child

Some time ago I was watching the video by DireLauthris, about Admiral Tovil-Toba and his defense of Caldari Prime. Wow, what an excellent video! Makes you proud to be a patriot, n'est-ce pas? All my Caldari friends were so full of themselves when it came out...

Anyway, it's because it is impressive! Go take a look, if you haven't yet...



I showed it to C. and he was very impressed. All the way until "to this day he is revered as a national hero and his name is one of the first things every Caldari child learns."

That's when I got an earful...

Anyhow, I was reminded about a story from RealLife(tm), of a XIX century war between the two Matari Tribes, shall we call them Chilestan and Peruvia. I already knew about it, but C, he went into excruciating detail.

It's story time!


--

Once upon a time there was a young naval officer, Captain Arturo of Chilestan, who was in charge of camping an enemy harbour. He had been left by his FC with strict instructions no to let anything through while the main fleet sailed away to some big battle. He had two wooden ships (T1 frigates, I kid you not!), badly fit and in worse shape, but that would suffice in a place where there was only civilian traffic to block.

Only there was not just civilian traffic.

The enemy was spotted by dawn. As usual, intelligence had sucked, they had crossed the main fleet in the dark and were fast approaching the port with two lean, mean hi-tech armour-plated ships. Captain Arturo was so screwed. Not able to call for reinforcements ('cause vent had not been invented yet), he roused his crew with a moving speech and they went to battle, intending to fight till the end. He was brave but he was also smart, fighting a gun battle inside the port against one of the iron ships -they were not his civilians being shot at port anyway- while his wingman took off distracting the other ship. When the enemy FC decided to ram his own ironclad into the wooden frigate, Captain Arturo did the unthinkable and took a small boarding party across. They all died as heroes. Shortly afterward, his ship broke in two and sank straight to the bottom.

The enemy had broken the camp.

But Captain Arturo became a rallying cry in Chilestan for the rest of the war, to this day he is revered as a national hero and his name is one of the first things every child learns.

Captain Arturo had not really meant to be a warrior; he was but a young lawyer who had left an even younger wife back home when he enlisted. He had not asked to be a hero. He just did what felt right.

--

Captain Miguel from Peruvia was a military genius, an officer and a gentleman. He had come back from a cushy retirement seat in Congress to fight the war, commanding the very same ship he had seen built to his specs fifteen years before by the Brutish, which he had then updated, refitted and rigged. As the FC, his mission was to harass and interdict the much bigger enemy fleet, a juggernaut that included wooden boats, ironclads, logistics, advanced ammo, some of the first battleships to ever exist and maybe the kitchen sink. His tools would not be brute force and firepower, but stealth, finesse and surprise.

Captain Miguel saw many successes breaking enemy camps, capturing transports, messing with enemy pets, bombing ports, sinking stuff. His small gang would appear from nowhere, strike and then vanish. At a certain battle, he rammed his ship into the enemy frigate once and again until it broke in two, sank straight to the bottom and, hear this, he then had all the survivors picked up from the water and carried to safety before x'ing back. And after the battle, he sat down to write a poignant note to the young widow of his adversary, which he sent the very same day with her dear husband's belongings and his deepest condolences.

A true gentleman if there ever was one.

Silly politicians back home wanted to promote him to Grand Admiral of All the Fleet, a honor he protested would not allow him to do what he did best, FC'ing from the front in their best command ship. So they compromised.

Rear Admiral Miguel met his fate at a fleet battle in high seas. As usual, politicians had sucked, ordering more raids and ignoring his calls for refit. Following orders and against his very own judgement, he would thus fall to an enemy BS gang rigged for gank, speed and devoted solely to hunting him down. He died in the gun battle and his legendary ship was captured. Losing the war had become a certainty.

But Admiral Miguel became a rallying cry in Peruvia for the rest of the war, to this day he is revered as a national hero and his name is one of the first things every child learns.

Admiral Miguel was a warrior, a genius and a gentleman. He left three loving widows: his wife, his ship and his country. He was probably always destined to be a hero, whether he asked or not.

--


You can't make these things up.

Both stories happened at the same time, over a hundred years ago. Every nation has a national hero but what is remarkable is that in this case is that two Heroes that fought in the same war and fought each other, ultimately became their own countries' greatest. Both died on the very same deck.

To date, people from Chilestan and Peruvia learn these names as the Hero and his Enemy, and vice-versa. To date, after more than a century, they are still taught to hate each other's guts. As children, no one is told about the flip side of the coin; as grownups, only a few wonder if there is a flip side at all.

Tools.

And there is a reason They teach you that stuff as a child in Real Life, so you don't question Them.

That keeps you a good patriot and a good tool.

The ugly face of patriotism, captured with such a simple phrase in Admiral Tovil-Toba's two-hundred year old story.

"To this day he is revered as a national hero and his name is one of the first things every Caldari child learns."


((Don't you just love it when they bring worlds to life, warts and all? ;) ))

08 December 2009

Racing Spy #3

December 109, ISGC Season 4,
Between Races 5 and 6


It had been weeks since my racing interceptor had been scanned at a training session, by a friend. Only problem was, this friend was the owner of a rival racing team, had scanned me and Kay unawares while on a friendly flight.

To mend our friendship, I had entrusted him with something of incredible value. To get even, I had asked him to promise the impossible.

I had offered him a miracle and a curse. He took them both.

Oh boy.


--

Races 4 and 5 went by and ISGC had lifted Ken's suspension from racing; he had already brought the ship I gave him to a race already and much to everyone's surprise.

The cynics thought it was just a rumour, that it could not really be my beloved Wing; others really believed it was -and it was, mind you- and chided me for being too kind with Ken, after what he did.

Maybe I was too kind. But I also wanted to get back at him.

Yin. Yang.

In spite of everything I still wanted to remain friends with Ken so, sometimes, I invited him to tag along when I explored in my Covops. The idea was, I would go in and find a radar site, Ken would then warp his Domi in and deal with the Sansha rats, and finally I would hack and salvage.

That's how we ended up in lowsec Sukanan.

It seemed such a good idea at the time.

Making a long story short, there was this radar site that took ages to pinpoint, we were a bit careless... and ended up with me hastily cloaking and Ken warping out in his pod. Before that, I had no idea you could be probed out so fast.

I know what you are thinking but, no, it was not my doing. Too crude and, besides, we were genuinely making up.

Afterwards, he gave me the chance to speak at the Fed Navy for the dedication of his replacement Domi.

As I prepared, I could not help but notice the irony. It was him that was being too kind to me. I did not deserve it.

Damit, he did not deserve it.

That was what I had in mind when, blinded by reflectors in my eyes, in front of the assembled crew of the Enduring Friendship (awww) I made my way to the podium and read a passage from one of my favorite poems.

If you can make a heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: 'Hold on!'


People must have thought those were tears of emotion.

They... were, but not quite the one they would expect.

--

As soon as I got back from the ceremony I called some files to my desk.

"Mirror, mirror, may I see the files tagged dagger and twist please?"

The nice synth baritone voice replied "Quin, I do not have anything to show. Additional files may be available to you if you plug in, would you like to try again?"

He can be so discreet. "Yes please."

I plugged. Two files were conjured and appeared as if hovering over my desk. Anybody else would have seen me stare into thin air.

I checked the dagger file carefully to make sure it was what I was looking for. Anonymous contract for a mercenary hit on an Executioner-class racing frigate.

Yes, that one.

Ken had promised to race to win and had also promised to bring my ship back. No one, not even Ken himself expected to... but it was still possible. Unless one made sure that, ah, expectations would be met.

The twist file was a draft of a personal note where I explained everything: "Ken, it was me all along..."

Drive the dagger home. Then twist it.

But there was no need for it anymore. "Cancel the contract, discard both files and please confirm no backups remain."

"Quin, all done and confirmed."

Sigh.

We were even already, my friend and I.

--

((OOC: Now again, who says that roleplay is dead in this game?

Anyhow if you are wondering, we only got halfway there. Eventually, Ken himself withdrew from the season, returned my ship safely and would not race ever again. In the meantime, he wrote some short pieces of fiction based on this, which I think were beautiful.

There is some difference between what I am willing to do in-game and out-of-game. Ken's player became more and more absorbed by RL and at some point in time I felt that going ahead and hurting him in game would hurt him in RL. That was a no-no, so I just dropped it. A few months later the Ken character died in his sleep and was biomassed. I am still friends with the player or at least I like to think that.

I do not think I ever told him about the entire plan, I certainly did not warn him in advance of the RP angle. Yes Ken, I would have had my ship blown up from around you. Or maybe you would have surprised me, and I would have had to deal with the guilt. Real surprise gets you real emotions -> great RP. Now I can only wonder how this would have played.

What I do know is that by giving you the ship I loved the most, I did get to see some of the best RP I have seen, and most of it was actually for real.

In any case, if you are reading this I hope you can forgive me for being such an awful person. And enjoying it. Immensely. Thank you!))


Racing Series
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04 December 2009

Racing dev Blog

(Originally posted here)

I think we have learned a thing or two during the last couple of seasons... like, we are still too few racing and even fewer organizing, and that organizing does take a lot of time. That we need to keep the attention of spectators, sponsors and, if possible, of ISD (I wonder if that piece on Season 7 will ever be published?). We have learned that it is not good to race during holidays -wait... I think we knew that one already.

We also learned that we are not Gyra. We have been trying to do things Gyra-style and while she was good at that, we will never be as good as she was.

So we will change the rules.

We have been thinking about how to make ISRC-style racing more appealing to more racers, how to make it a bit less dependent on so few organizers, how to bring in and involve sponsors, how to make the calendar more flexible.

Finally, we have learned that sometimes good things in life come with dev blogs. A dev blog is a statement that says that what we are doing is not baked but under construction... under constant improvement, if you will. A dev blog says 'change!' and gives you the chance to prepare. A dev blog represents opportunity to change and the will to improve. It gives people (that's YOU) the chance to discuss what is on their mind and a forum to influence what kind of changes will come in the future.

So with this in mind, I give you the first ISRC dev blog.


Out of the comfort zone, shoo!

One of the issues that has plagued the ISGC first and then the ISRC have been related to the multiple-class racing format. I mean the part where ships of different classes like Interceptors, Frigates and AFS run on the same track at the same time.

One of the problems is that people tend to stick to the same classes so we would never truly know how great a racer is, for example the Frigates Champion vs. the Interceptors Champion? Also, there have been semi-deserted racing classes, first a destroyer class and then an AF class (with what, one race out of four having, you know, racers?). We have frigates and assault frigates overtake Interceptors because of team tactics, which is actually cool if you are on a good team, but maybe it lends lots of impact to team makeup. Finally, we have the same people winning the same classes season after season.

Based on the "Exhibition Race" concept that we have been running once in a while, it is actually fun when people step out of their comfort zone and race something different like Cruisers, Industrials or that little Frigate on the 0.0 rally. Also, we have found that more rookies tend to show up for exhibition races, maybe because the field is even, as opposed to season races where teams and scores are important.

So the idea is that now each race (or most of them) should be a single-class race. We would vary the class from race to race, but now everyone get to compete head-to-head with everyone else!

Update: Optional slowboating? KJ has suggested that we could allow out-of-class racers compete, as long as they fly a slower class. In other words, you could enter the Interceptors race on a T1 Frigate. It allows rookies to participate and gain experience, while keeping the competitiveness of the class race intact.


Roleplay Races

We will be giving each race a unique personality. Up to Season 7, we had ultimate bland "Race 1, Race 2, Race 3..."

Next season will see these, for example:

The Federation Grand Prix (Frigates)
The State Open (Interceptors - the Gariushi Cup?)
The Empire Championship (Assault Frigates)
The Republic Derby (Faction Frigates)

These would be our four big events. Each race will be held once yearly; 200M prize each one and, say, 2000 ISRC points to the winner (1200 to the 2nd place, etc, etc) . We go out there and get regional sponsorship and stuff, maybe local celebrities to host or race or just give it some flavour. Heavy ISRC publicity would be devoted to the race the region and the sponsors.

Then we could have the little ones: Interceptor races, Frigate races, AF races, 0.0 Rally, whatever races, worth 1000, 500 points and with varying prizes. Depending on the race and the score awarded, we could have the new hires (see the Organisation part) start out with the smaller races and earn the right to host the big ones. And if someday someone wants to scam us, like EBANK was, at least he would have to host a whole lot of races.

What changes with this?

Entry is easier. Anyone joining has a shot at a cup and a prize, no need to play the entire season.

Easier to skip races. We schedule the Grand Slams for dates no one has trouble with. We schedule little cups for conflicting dates. We could do this bi-weekly.

Vacant classes are no longer an issue. Everyone runs the same class on a given race. Or they can skip it if they do not like flying AF's or whatnot.

((At Roland Garros people either play on clay, or stay home.))

More Roleplay. Some of the ISRC executives, whom I am not going to name by name ;) , object to having races in the Amarr Empire. I feel this is a legitimate position to take... and I really look forward to working this out together. Maybe this is a challenge that the ISRC will have to meet?

Update: Militia? Eek. I thought I had no issues but then someone comes along and offers to sponsor in the name of a Government-sponsored Militia. I am not sure why, but I am not comfortable with that... we will see what happens.


Scoring

Did I mention score changes? We are currently thinking of having yearly scores. You add 52 weeks of scores back, and that is your ISRC ranking at any given time.

This has a couple of cool things. Someone may be the champion at any given time; at the same time, someone else may still be the unbeaten ace of the Republic Derby. Maybe winning all Grand Slams is an achievement worth looking forward to...

From an organisation perspective, this allows us to run stuff in a more flexible schedule too... as opposed to having two yearly seasons with weekly races that should not overlap summer nor holidays. We did not want to interrupt the season because of holidays, nor wanted to spend the best days of summer laying track no one would race. With the yearly thing, the pressure to keep going during holidays goes away. If you race, you are scored, as simple as that.

What do we lose? The seasonal aspect. Bye-bye Season 8, hello ISRC Circuit. There is some sense of loss there, maybe you guys have some comments about that?


No more remedial races

We tried this officially for Season 7: best 10 races out of 12 are scored. The result was people skipping races, less racers showing up, less competition and less excitement.

Well, no more remedial races.

That's why we are also setting up a handful of big races and many small ones, so the pros can skip small ones if they want, and the rookies may catch everything and still have a fighting chance. So you can still skip races if you are ahead enough...


More people and mini-professions

There has never been enough people organising. From Season 1 to 5 we had Gyra Rho and her many alts. That's one person -albeit with superpowers- organizing the entire thing for a full five seasons and then half of season 6.

Starting Season 6 and then 7, we had Killjoy Tseng organizing the races, with some help by myself on the PR side. But, we were not truly backing each other up, he was race host and I was racer. But now that I have retired, we are two.

I do not think that two is enough.

So for season 8 we are introducing the mini-professions "Race Host" and "Race Designer" for all of you to play with.

(Yah, we could have called these 'roles' but, if we are already stealing the devblog concept, why not go all the way and steal some more? Plus, mini-profession sounds cooler.)

Someone willing to help as a Race Host will have the opportunity to, well, host any of a number of races. In the host role, he or she will be present during race time (Sunday 20:00 usually), act as referee for that race, call the start, make judgement calls during the race (ohmygosh, the waypoint is not here!) and note the official times. Two hours of work in exchange for the princely sum of... well, we are thinking about that. Maybe 20 million, but don't quote me on that.

Someone willing to help as Race Designer will have the opportunity to design and lay the racetrack. This has a theory part which is easy and a practical part that sucks. First, think where the real and fake waypoints go, some fifteen minutes. Then, prepare the waypoint cans and go anchor them, some 3-4 hours. Again, there is money on this one but we are thinking how much and how.

Eventually we could put a tutorial up on EVElopedia about these aspects of organizing. And speaking of tutorials, we could have one for racers too (it is a profession after all, right?)


Points exchange

The racing community is more than just the ISRC. We have friends in the House Rigel races (hi Julius!) and would love to make more. With all these different leagues and racers, the wild thought is that maybe we could have some other races assign ISRC points on a per-race basis.

In this mode, owners of the race would organize and operate the race as usual, ISRC would do some checks to confirm the race adheres to our so very strict quality standards (Got track? Check. Got racers? Check. No cheating, mkay? Good to go.) There would be some cross-sponsorship and publicity, and racers would get points for the ISRC circuit. Maybe ISRC could help run the race if needed.

This gives ISRC more people, more visibility, gives other races more visibility and staff, and bring the racing community together.

Update: Keeping it simple. Julius had told us it looks like a great idea but that we seem to be throwing too much complication into this. I guess there is only one way to find out...



The Official ISRC Pace Frigate

The Gallente Navy Comet has a blinky on top. That's our new official pace car.

We are withdrawing our petition for ISD to lend us some Polaris frigates. We did not want them anyway ;)

(Credit to Julius Rigel for having the same idea before we did and, no, we did not ask for Polaris frigates. Teleport feature on the Comet would be nice though. Killjoy must train Gallente Frig up to 3 now :P)



Live Race Tracker

It is an insanely cool idea of Killjoy's and coded by Takashi, this one: sometime in Season 7 we started testing a live tracker. Basically each racer opens a browser window to the Racer URL, this will update the racer's location as the race progresses. Meanwhile the Spectator URL has a list of all the racers and where they are, and constantly updates the overall location.

We would like to make the Racer URL mandatory now...

Early on, this means that the Race Host will have a picture of what is happening with the race. As he knows the track layout, this enables him to do... live commentary!

Eventually, if we do this right, this could result in a cool live tracker in NOHi-color for the general ticket-buying public ;)

Update: The dog ate my tracker! Really. We got word from some of our racers in Singularity that the tracker would no longer work and, sure enough, come Dominion it stopped working. It has something to do with session changes not being reported anymore.

So, bad Moondoggie, bad!

We will have to send the code back to Tak for fixing, or wait for Moondoggie to learn this trick, or have the Teleport ability added to the Comet (so we can track everyone, right?).


Racing bets

Some time ago there have been several efforts to run bets on the ISRC circuit. It has sort of worked but it has never been permanent. It would be nice to have it done on a more official/permanent basis.

Personally, I have absolutely no idea how betting works... so I would be asking the expert: Kazuo, what would it take to make the betting side of races permanent?


So these are our ideas for now... The floor is still open!

Cheers,

ISRC Quin

02 December 2009

Patch the patch



See patch download.

See patch fail. Why do I even bother anymore?

See Quin download the installer.

See installer crawl.

See install fail. Rinse, repeat.

See some creative use of digital camera memory sticks -I am such a junkie. Maybe I should upgrade some of my stuff.

See? We are finally good to go.


Wait... what do you mean there is another patch tomorrow?

01 December 2009

Racing Future?

Season 7 is over. So what happens now?

We start all over again.

With one little difference, mind you: I will not be racing. I am done, I quit.

No, no, I retire.

Wow. I look back at three years in space and this has been what I have been doing: racing.

Getting up on Wednesday to look at the next racing region, setting up spares and moving jump clones... bookmarks... spying on the locals... jumping into my race clone on Saturday afternoon so I am ready for race day on Sunday, to either clonejump during the race (ha, ha :P but it worked only twice out of maybe thirty I prepared) or right after the race, for flying free.

I feel as if pro racing has been a freaking job.

And I am so going to miss it.

Also, I have the feeling that I have done so much. I got blown up many times. I started my own racing team, recruited people into, and gently kept people off it. I have been racer on the track and manager off the track; spent so much time coming up with ways to outrun, outlast or simply outsmart. We went through a merger with the best of the best. And then, I won three championships, one for each class. Who's the Quin?

I had to train skills to build wonderfully weird ship fittings. Sure, speed in the low slots, tank in the middle and who cares about the highs. Shield-tanked badass-neut large-polycardboard cloaking racing Malediction anyone?

I have met many interesting people within, around and outside the racing circuit. Fostered friends and grapevine the size of half of Auvergne. Kept deadly secrets, and saw mine revealed.

It has been so much fun.

So, there. I am done because I feel that I have done everything now.

So what happens now?

I think I will have more time to write my racing memoirs... Season 4 still halfway, there is quite a bit of writing yet to be done.

I am sure that Kay will do a wonderful job running our team. Her team now. It feels funny to say that.

I will take up that part-time job at ISRC and help KillJoy with race organizing. I will probably get to write on the races from a sports commentator point of view -I never really liked Bouchard's style anyway.

Maybe I will have some free time to try stuff I have never done, outside of the races.

It feels like an entirely different game. I have some ideas...

It should be fun.
Racing Series
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18 November 2009

Chameleon




I picked up some new Caméléon tights yesterday while holiday shopping.

They have a store here in Clermont and we know each other well; my favourites are the black nanite Artémis. From a long pullover to a Devereaux gown, they can make any outfit kill rather than simply stun.

I love how nanite tights keep all the style of fabric and then bring it up to an entirely new level. Set the control to start at sheer, fishnets, lacy or opaque -whatever you feel like, actually- and then let the pattern slowly change, so subtly that will not notice at first but your legs never look exactly the same at second glance. Depending on the model, the playlist will fix, cycle, improvise or follow your mood during the evening, always hinting but naturally, never telling.

And turning heads is not all of it. Every step, every bit a star as you look outside, that is how you feel inside. Luxurious, daring, ready to walk on any edge. So very tired after an day on your feet? A nasty tear? Evening dancing? Don't worry, it will be alright -besides making stay-ups actually, you know, stay up, nanites know a couple of other tricks to make a girl feel like a billion or two.

Caméléons carry a stupid expensive pricetag for tights you use only once. But are absolutely worth it.

And stray hands, beware. Chameleons do bite.

-Q


Answering chat questions from readers...

Updated:
- Nanite tights: Made out of nanites, not fabric. They can change appearance and texture, but not colour.
- Caméléon: Gallentean luxury hosiery brand. They invented nanite tights and hold coyrights on pattern playlists.
- Caméléon black nanite Artémis: A model in the collection, my favourite...
- Stay-ups: sometimes do not. Unless with nanites, then they do stay. They'll even crawl up, which is creepy.

Updated, again:
- Of course they are not going to burn the boyfriend as they follow one's mood. He would feel something like a soft touch of fingertips. He will probably be surprised.
- Come to think of it, if you are mad at the BF, ouch. You had it coming, sweetie.
- I am not sure how much nanites would like the wash.

14 November 2009

Racing Finale

August 111, ISRC Season 7 Final, Race 12
The Bleak Lands

(You can also read this race from Kay's point of view)

It was the last race of the season and there were so many loose ends.

One of these was Ayre Rowan, our team rookie. She had been doing wonderfully during the season and this was her last shot, ever, to capture the rookie title. You can't be a rookie forever.

Then we had Demon Flir. He had been frigates champion once... and again, and this season he had again collected enough score to go home and have the cup shipped to him afterwards. But nooo, this time he did not want to just win: he wanted to bowl perfect.

Then there was me. The AF class had suddenly heated up, with Venture Racing Team planning to make a last push for the team AF title. And I was the designated AF driver for Scuderia Dragonstar.

Bad things happen on the last race.

Especially when there are loose ends...

--

Pre-race was livelier than usual. There had been this huge preparation and discussion, about where the track would go from the Bleaks. Would there be pirates? Would there be shooting among racers?

The plan involved lots of ammo, lots of drones. And lots of clones.

Ayre was uneasy. "Does this mean I can race safe? As long as I don't shoot anyone?"

Maybe it was all that talk about clones. We were all a little bit uneasy though, not about losing ships, but about losing time.

"Ayre you should run like the wind..."

So we had placed our team racers, four of them, at the starting line at Netsalakka. And then some seven spare ships across three or four regions.

I would start in a Jaguar.

It would be fun.

--

ISRC gave the starting signal and everyone but me undocked. As the slowest in my team, I held back and called gate - "First gate, Iesa, Iesa!" then dived the Feline Fatale into the undock blackout.

If you ever see space and you do not know where to warp, then you are falling behind. It was my job to set the course and make sure they knew. I slipped out just in time to see Takashi's Malediction warping away, chased by Demon, Kay and Ayre.

Have I mentioned we have such a kickass frigates team? They all fly like interceptors.

And now we knew who was racing. VRT had Tak in his Malediction and Koronakesh in a Retribution; this meant that Tak would fly slow to anchor Koro at the waypoints. And he could afford it, he was definitely getting his own interceptors cup shipped home regardless of what happened on this race.

There were also three independent racers, an Executioner and a couple of Rifters.

Waypoint one, Uusanen. Warp in, approach, wait, get the waypoint, warp out. Same old, same old.

Waypoint two, Kamela. "Holy crap," came Demon's voice through vent.

He was point. Just in case you are wondering, no, a racing team point does not point people. It is the racer in front, pointing stuff out for the rest of the team coming behind.

"Four cans... four cans, five cans. Pedaling towards waypoint two."

"Kay going to two."

This place had containers marked as waypoints two, three and up to seven! Everyone dreads this in a race, a waypoint so confusing that no amount of experience or fitting will beat blind luck. If you make the right guesses, about which cans to open and which ones to ignore, you can make a podium finish. Go ahead, you have a full split-second to decide.

My second favourite behind blind luck is team tactics.

"Two is open, points to three in Lamaa, so the three here is fake. Pedaling waypoint four now."

"Kay going on to waypoint three."

"Quin approaching five."

Demon swiftly took the role unto himself to stay behind in Kamela, accessing every one of the five, while Kay sped ahead to Lamaa and other places; we would still figure the track out faster this way. Ayre had somehow dropped from vent but was still racing, and I was doing everything at AF speed.

Kamela, Lamaa, Kamela, Kourmonen, Kamela, Tannakan. We were racing in circles.

I reached waypoint five in Kourmonen. "Tak is here." He should not have been.

"Yeah, he is behind me," replied Demon "I'm still not sure what he is doing - is he waiting?"

"And he is gone. And Koronakesh is just warping in, he's just overtaken me!"

Crap. It did not matter how fast or how far ahead our frigates and interceptors were. If Tak could pull his AF team mate faster than I could go, they would win.

By waypoint nine, Kurniainen, Tak and Koro were slowly but surely overtaking our entire team when Demon called ten.

"Ten is Oyonata control bunker."

I was a minute behind, still two systems from nine and jumping into... Oyonata! I smiled, I would collect ten, then nine and -with any luck- I would be closer to eleven.

Now I was calling for the team: "Eleven is Gratesier, ha!"

See, that's why I love blind luck, that move put me a minute ahead of Demon.

"Anyone has eyes on Takashi?"

Kay was wondering where VRT was. The last we knew of them was Tak leaving everyone in the dust at nine, not to be seen again, with Koro in tow and thumbing his nose at our best. With any more luck -please?- Koro would slip and I would catch up.

Four jumps to Gratesier, then five to Archee. Somewhere in between I noticed this blue blip in my overview, so brief I could not see who he was. I jumped and, as I warped away, the blip reappeared on this side of the gate.

Takashi was gaining on me.

Excuse me? That does not really happen in real life? I was actually racing my AF ahead of the entire pack. I was in the lead!

Three to go and I could see reality catching up anyway. There was no way to keep that up. Tak, my team, the pack and Koro would all fly by me. I asked my team about Koro's position on the track again and again, while I tried to figure out how to keep him behind. Three to go, only three shots for Tak's flying to help; on the fourth one he would be docked.

In the meantime, Ayre had been cut off team vent and only on chat, which made her miss some of the Kamela waypoints. By the time she realised that... it had became such a long way back to the beginning of the track that she almost quit the race. Almost... but she pushed on.

Thirteen was Egghelende. We were so screwed.

Tak overtook me on the way there but at least he would be getting mugged before me. I arrived at Egghelende in third place, there was no one to bother us. Pirates must have been on a break.

The next waypoint was fourteen jumps away, Carrou. Jump, align, warp.

Maybe it was a short break. Kay's voice warned us "Oh, Koronakesh says Egg is being camped by pirates? I did not see anyone..."

Then my in-ship comms went crazy with our navigator suggesting a clone jump. Where to? There was no time. Jump, align, warp.

VRT had an impossible situation now. Tak was already past the Egghelende waypoint and Koro was blocked from it. He could keep staying close to Koro... or drop him to fend off by himself. He had fourteen jumps to make up his mind.

In the meantime I really needed to check, but you can't stop your ship in the middle of a race to check the map. And in space no one can hear you ask for directions. What to do?

Jump, align, warp.

Carrou was now eleven jumps off and geting closer. I had a spare and a jump clone at Jel, the same at Faurent. Jel was close to Carrou, right? Jump, align... dock.

"Oh whatever, I am docking."

A last look at the autopilot saved me from a stupid mistake: Faurent, not Jel, because it was on the way to Carrou. Doh.

The fit crew jumped on my ship as soon as it docked, extracted the pod and prepped me right there. No, I do not know how they do that and I doubt that we have a freaking racing-grade jump clone flash-freezer.

I jumped.

--

"Goodmorning everyone," I awoke to a bunch of unfamiliar crew in green jumpsuits.

I must have been racing.

They wasted no time briefing me on what was going on, what I had to do next and sending me on my way. There was no time for coffee or croissants, damit, and I would have to finish waking up on my way to -where had they said I had to go?- Carrou. They set me in a Ishkur and I undocked.

Kay updated me "I am now seven to destination, Takashi is... about to overtake me, it will take like, one jump maybe two for him to overtake me. I am lagged now, loading systems. Nice, Quin!"

I was one jump off the next waypoint and in the lead again!

"It's Crielere, right next door to Rancer," I said, calling waypoint.

"You did not post the next waypoint on chat, you know that?" complained Demon.

I warped out and then posted the full navi info. "Warp now, questions later," I would not let the lead slip away this close to finishing.

As I arrived in Crielere, Demon was being overtaken back in Carrou.

"Tak left, just as I was warping out. Slightly ahead of me now."

Apparently Takashi had made up his mind that there was no helping Koro. No matter how long he waited at Carrou, Koro would never catch up on the AF race. There was nothing to prevent Tak from going all-out.

I warped out as soon as my systems had locked onto the next waypoint, the finish line.

"Warping out. Ooooh, bad, bad, bad," I looked at my navi info "seven jumps to finish, I do not know if I can beat him."

Finish line at Stetille. The last seven jumps of the race, the last of the season. Last of my career.

Takashi is very good at long jump sequences. For all we know, he can gain five seconds on you on each system, and that is if you are racing the same ship. But his Interceptor vs. my Assault Frigate? Eeek. I only had a lead of four systems on him.

I docked at Stetille with a not-so-comfortable lead of 48 seconds.

Yup, I think I may have seen a blue blip in my overview.



--

After-race was livelier than ever.

We were all still feeling the adrenaline rush; everyone in the team had something to celebrate.

Ayre had survived the comms loss and finished the race to become the Rookie Frigates Champion, keeping in the finest Scuderia racing tradition. Demon had won frigates and scored a perfect season for the first time in history: every single race a win! Kay had risen from 3rd to 2nd place interceptors ranking thanks to this race and, although she had not won any championship for herself, she had led the team to our best season ever.

No one had been shot. We had used only one clone, mine.

And I? I had finished the race in first place and beaten the legendary Takashi Kurosawa, in an Assault Frigate! I had won the AF Team Cup for SDS, and the AF Pro Cup for myself.

And all those loose ends? Tied now, in a nice bow knot.




29 October 2009

First Kill

Sometimes you find yourself in a situation you never intended to. You may have done something terrible, hurt someone, disappointed people... What do you do in this situation? What do you do when you disappoint yourself?

You deny, of course.


--

My father's forehead has these deep wrinkles, telling wrinkles.

We talk once in a while, by holo. Last time, I was having breakfast at my place in Clermont and he was having his after-dinner brandy somewhere in Mies. There is something funny about having a guest sitting in an armchair, in your kitchen, eyes level.

Back to the wrinkles. I can read those, you know. No one can read his mind but I will settle for the closest thing, his forehead. You would imagine that after years, no, decades in the service he would have perfected his poker face.

Well, he did and it does work with most people... but not with me. I am dad's girl.

Right there, three horizontal. Question.

"You know I look at the killboards once in a while, Catherine," said his holo across the table, "and I must say I was surprised to find your nom de guerre on the killing side last week."

Oh, merde.

I just looked back at him while I munched on my granola. I did not want to lie and besides, he almost always caught me.

He can read me right back.

--

It was a 0.0 roam with NOX, the first for me in so many ways. First outing in months. First time flying a Taranis. First time in fleet with Redkiwi as FC and the first time I ever heard many of them on vent, although Loras was a voice I knew. First time I had gone looking for trouble.

In my defense, I thought I was only looking. I had wanted to bring a Covops.

I have so many more excuses like those, if you ever want to hear.

Oh well, my Hell Hath was scout for the fleet and had just landed on the gate at the same time as a neutral Rifter. I was alone, two systems away from the nearest friendly and unsure about what to do. I was sure he was looking at me and I just looked back at him for a moment... Not wanting to shoot, I burned towards him and started orbiting.

What was I supposed to do?

He decided to lock me and that is when I freaked out. I am not sure who fired first, I simply flipped every single module I had and then waited for a quick death. Did I mention he targeted me first? He did.

And then it was over... as quickly as it had begun.

His ship had exploded, I found myself in half armour, my MWD turned off and warping away on instinct.

A minute later, I was warping back to the scene of the crime, to the sight of the NOX fleet inspecting the wreck and the sound of their voices cheering my kill. Again, a first in so many ways.

My first kill.

My first solo kill.

I felt great.

--

I felt awful.

You get some perspective when the rush is over. A week had passed and I was not done having a guilt trip. Lots. Of. Perspective.

Dad's holo was looking at me. What was I supposed to say? Sorry, Papa, it was an accident? I freaked out and shot the guy? He was threatening me?

Oops?

Sometimes, maybe it is best not to answer. "I think it speaks for itself, Papa."

Wrinkles again, two vertical. A frown of concern... annoyance? Yes, you will have to take it from me.

"I am not saying you did anything wrong, I just want to understand what you were doing in 0.0 and flying with Atlas. I know you realise that by taking sides -any side- you are closing doors to yourself in the future, so I will not try to..."

Uh, say what? Something did not fit there...

He went on "... red to CVA, the Empire and possibly also..."

"Wait, did you say Atlas? I do not think the guy I shot was from Atlas..."

Wait... busted. It took him ten seconds and a freaking mindtrick. Yes, so I did shoot someone.

But he did not expect me to be genuinely confused. To be honest, neither did I.

"No, no... that is not what I am saying. Ah, take a look at this, Catherine. Help me understand it."

He made an off-holo movement and a two-month old killmail popped up and hovered over my table. Sure enough, Atlas had killed a Thrasher in N-RAEL.

Somehow I was listed as the top damage dealer. Was it a joke? WTF?

"Oh, what? I had no idea," I replied, which was completely true. "N-RAEL? I remember two months ago, this guy podded me at a bubble camp there. I was on my way back from an expedition with Amarrian acquaintances, if that makes you happy. Of course I shot back! I wish I had got him, at least... are you telling me I did?"

"It was self-defence, of course," he asked-without-asking, "Do you need any help? We stand behind you, all the way."

"You bet it was. I woke up on a clone half a cluster away. Maybe this bozo managed to get himself killed by Atlas later. So yah, I am glad I shot him up, at least a little."

I was still surprised about having that kill and about not knowing for months. And I was angry.

How did that idiot dare to get killed? I had perfectly clean hands, no kills in almost three years of flying. I had just wanted to get away but, no, he had to go and get me on a killmail. Come to think about it, it was his fault and not mine that my record was ruined now. Once CONCORD has you on a killmail, eveyone knows. His fault.

And then there was Dad, subtly running damage control. Wondering if I had ruined my career. Or his contacts. Or his expectations? I did not even want to know.

Oh, I was angry and upset allright.

So upset in fact, that Dad had the tact to not ask about the Rifter kill. Nor about the Broadsword kill after that. And he would not know of that Dominix, because the stupid killmail never arrived.

Three, maybe four kills. A freaking spree.

What am I supposed to do?

--

In the end, it turns out that you can get away with a terrible deed. You just deny it and may even be able to fool some people, some of the time. But there is someone that already knows, the one person that really counts. Yourself. Can you pretend not to know?

And for just how long do you think you can try to fool yourself?

27 October 2009

Ghosts of Banters Past

Old IOU´s...

EVE Blog Banter #10: Voting with your feet

xiphos83 of A Misguided Adventurer asks the following: "Victor Davis Hanson argues that western culture, comprising of ideals such as freedom, debate, capitalism, and consensual government, are what make western society so successful at waging war. These ideologies create a warrior who's direct participation in government, ability to think freely, and desire to remain free, fights harder and is willing to suffer more than his conscripted foe. Though a military must remain a structured oligarchy to fight a war effectively, why in a world where military conflict is as familiar as breathing are there so few alliances that embrace these ideologies when governing their members?"

I do not think there are any conscript alliances out there. How do you keep someone in against his will?

In EVE people vote with their feet, so everything still feels sort of like a democracy. If you do not like the alliance boss then you pick up your stuff and get a new one, elsewhere. You shop for leadership. That's democracy.

See? Not that democracy in the age of jump gates and warp speed needs to be about space, it's about people wanting to stick together.


EVE Blog Banter #11: T3 Frigates

Joe Brusati, a long time reader of CrazyKinux's Musing, asks the following: "CCP states that T3 Strategic Cruisers are just the start for the T3 line-up. In future Eve expansions what would you like to see as the next T3 ship type. Please be specific on details about what role this ship would play, cost of manufacturing, and the different modules that would be available for it, and of course you must give your T3 ship a name!"

T3 frigates! And these should be roughly 1/5 the size of a cruiser, and would fit a single cruiser module. Any module. Mwahahaha...

Role? I do not think you can peg "a role" to anything T3 but, of course, I would like to see them able to race ;)


EVE Blog Banter #12: Sorry boss, it's an offworld call I have to take

CrazyKinux himself asks the following: "First there was the MMO on the PC, and now with the recent announcement of DUST 514, EVE will soon be moving onto consoles. But what about mobile? Allow your imagination to run wild for a second and describe how you would see EVE being ported to mobile devices, whether the iPhone/iPod touch, Blackberrys or Android-based devices. Dream the impossible for us!"

OK... I spy, with my little eye... a world where mobile devices act as a window into the game, but do not directly play against the main thing.

Say for example: the iTouch acting as a neocom, looking and changing skills, showing me the money, inventory, lab jobs, reading blogs, sending evemail, strategic maps, FW stuff, online chat, EVEMon and EFT for mobile.

Most definitely *not* doing market nor contracts. I'm sure the moment macro-miners and real money traders have those we will have Maddoff's droids running the market for us. Forget about making any ISK yourself unless you have a planetside fund with Garoun Investment, UBS or BNP Paribas.

So, make it able to see but not able to compete with the game...



There. I'm up to date now :)

-Q

26 October 2009

[OOC] Witness Relocation

The last couple of months have been an unbelievably harsh time in Real Life and I have had to take a step away from so many things. For me in EVE this has meant no flying, no blogging, no bantering, chatting just barely enough, while the world goes upside-down. Accepting, adapting to Real Life changes and... arranging for things to happen.

Relocation stress.

Maybe this is how it must feel like being a mafia wife. You keep away from the family business... but when it is time to go, you definitely notice. Everything changes around you.

And you just jump, hoping to land on your feet.

-Q

18 August 2009

Racing Challenge

August 111, ISRC Season 7, Race 11
Metropolis


This is going to mess all the right order in the racing reports that I have not filled yet... but the race last Sunday was so much fun I just need to!

You may remember that I started the season racing the Assault Frigate class. Although I won that one, by Race 2 I found myself bringing my Jaguar to the starting line and no one to race her against -maybe because AFs have never been the most popular class to race- so I switched back to interceptors, where all the action is. After nine more interceptor races and no one showing up to race AFs, funny, I was about become AF champion after winning just a single race. Talk about minimal effort...

It turns out some people had different ideas. Takashi, after securing an unassailable scoreboard place as Interceptors Champion, devised a cunning plan to make a play for MY AF TITLE. MINE.

Out of the blue, he showed up for Race 11 with two new racers: DeVinces and JinJup Han. One of them was even seen docking an AF at the starting line. We were prepared so I had registered to fly my AF just in case. Making things more interesting, both Kay and Ayre were busy planetside. With no interceptors, demon in his Firetail would be my warp anchor -now it all depended on demon's frig going as fast as Tak's inty, and on Tak having to slow down to pull his AF teammates. Possible, barely...

This race would be made or broken before even starting, just a mater of having the right people racing the right stuff. Oh, how I love racing tactics ;)

Only there was one additional surprise: upon starting, Tak undocked a racing-fitted Wolf AF himself!

If you ask me, that was a mistake. Big one. No one is faster than Tak, he had decided to handicap himself racing a slow boat and relying on his inty mate to pull ahead? Why him, was it the lure of the cup? Hmm... Me, on the other hand, I was not as fast but now I had the fastest, most experienced friggy racer to warp to on every waypoint, scout for me and show me the way.

Gues what... Handicap, my ass. Takashi still beat his interceptor anchor to the finish line, it was a good gamble.

But at the end of the race, our frigate slowing down turned out to be an even better gamble and we beat him handily! :)

I was fuming, waiting for him at the flight deck when he docked. What nerve! How dare he? To switch class at the last possible moment, unannounced? This close to the end of the season? Since when had he been planning this? I had not seen anything like this since Season 5, and it was... it was fun! OMG, it had been fun! It was a surprisingly fun race, one of the best of this season - the feeling that you have teams trying to outrun each other on the track, and to outsmart each other out of the track, all the maneuvering, tactics, ideas and practice. Kudos for a great challenge, Takashi. Thanks!

After the ceremonies, he made some remarks to the crown, er, crowd, I mean crowd:

I guess I wanted the AF title so much my subconscious wanted Quin to be in her usual Malediction. Grats on that title, Q - it does feel better now, doesn't it, when you've earned it in more than one race?


Sweetie, you bet it does :) Individual AF title, yay!

And you know what? It is going to feel even better next Sunday when we take the Team AF title for SDS.

See you on the track!

-Q

Sand in my pod

Don't ask me how it got there. In my hair, on my feet... my podsuit? I swear, I have no clue.

You don't just take your flip-flops off and dive into a pod, there are steps to follow, showers, chemicals, checks, plugs... people to make sure everything is allright before you go. And I could swear everything was.

Yet there is sand in my pod.

They found it during pre-flight and now they will not let me go like this. So I wait. It is going to take some time to fix, maybe a couple of hours. Just enough time to pause and think. Oh, I do not know how the sand got there but I think I know where it comes from...

I blame it on the sunshine :)

It is good to be back...

06 July 2009

Fair Play

It began like this...

Oops.



Act 1: Teh typoe

Rigs are expensive.

Generally, the price of rigs goes from high to ridiculously high... I think it has to do with the expertise involved in modifying a ship and the materials, of course. Rather than spend all that money, I have learned to shop around for the best regions for materials and prices, to set up clever buy orders, bring all the stuff in and let my fit crew do the work themselves. It has been years since they learned the trade from Prof. Jalvon Ryder at UC, and that 3-run T2 polycardboard BPC he brought; since then they have become rather good at inventing new variations.

Anyway, having rigged my racing ships, I still like to collect the materials so these accumulate in the hangar -just in case I have to ever build a replacement. Occasionally we will take all that stuff, build a rig and put it for sale. So Tuesday a couple of weeks ago, late at night the rig came out of the oven, I gingerly took it to Dodixie and checked market prices. There were a couple of people buying but, who cares, it's not like I sell stuff a buy order price...

Just before going away to sleep, I set my sell order. Looking back, I think I may have made a typo. Or three.

Click.

"Yes, I am sure." Click.

"Wait a minute, I take that back. Can I take that back? Oh..."

Four hundred million ISK.

Do you have any idea how much time it takes to save that money? And how much fun you could actually have spending it? Imagine the kinds of ships and fittings, maybe even faction... several times over. How many fully-fit cruisers? How much time to fly, I don't know, as militia or pirate or anything, because, you know, you can afford to lose your ship?

Well, I think it is like a small fleet worth of money. I had just given away a small fleet.

Hissy fit.


Act 2: Talk to the man

Having come back from my walk, I apologized to those around I upset with all that yelling and, with a fresh dose of caffeine by my side, looked at my screen. The holo smirked back at me.

The rig had sold, of course, immediately. And because it was a sell order at basically one thousandth of its price -as opposed to, say, a direct sale to the best buyer- the system had dutifully sold it at my price. Right, the one I typed in myself. Not at 50%, not at 1%, but at 0.1% of market value.

May I say, this does not exactly feel like leaving a good tip.

And, how frustrating of course, there was nothing I could do to take it back. Rewind time? Undo my mistake? I don't know, raise the price, anything? Nothing! To! Do!

So I did the next best thing and I shared my feelings with the happy winner.

2009.06.23 21:39
Grr... I should not play this late at night..

Enjoy you rig :)

He had done nothing wrong, he just was there at the right place and the right time to win Quin's Stupid Typo Lottery. I just let him know how upset I was for having done something while sleepwalking.

I thought he would laugh all the way to the bank. Instead, he replied two days afterwards...

2009.06.25 21:05
I put buy orders up for t2 rigs mostly to keep the scammers buy orders from working. I base my prices on current jita buy order prices. My point is - even tho you may not have gotten what you could have using a sell order, you didn't get scammed and you got jita fair market value for your rig. If you were tired and not paying attention the result could have been much worse, you'd have sold it for 451k instead of 340mil w/o my buy order up to prevent it.

Now, now, he thought I was accusing him of scamming (I was not), politely pointed out he was buying at a fair price (he was) and that, had I been scammed, it could have been worse.

But... how come I did not even get scam price?

Wait a minute...

All I got was my lousy price. Was he telling me he'd paid 340M to someone?

I replied telling him I was not blaming anyone but myself. By the way, could he please double-check that he had paid all that money?

2009.06.25 23:16
No, no... I am not blaming you, I'm blaming me. Just wanted you to know why :) I really felt awful when I realized I had sold it and at how much, and thought "this guy is going to think I am stupid." Nah... just way too sleepy. It was a three-figure typo. Okay, it was stupid.

But not a scam.

Yes, I saw there was an order for 300M or more and that made it all worse, 'cause I did not even get a million.

By the way, could you check again how much money you paid? Because in my log, the rig went at 444K -that was my sell order price. I know the buy order was yours, but did it really take 340M from you wallet?

Oh... had he sent all that money, that I did not receive? If he was right, then hundreds of millions of ISK had just gone poof. Suddenly it was not just my money, it could also be his money that was missing in the trading system. Our money. And if something was missing, maybe we could get something back. (Some NPC was probably pocketing them. I have lived in the Republic, you know, and I recognize the fishy smell of government corruption - I just did not expect the same from the SCC. Someone would have to explain this. Petition! Lawsuit! Death by a thousand papercuts!)

So, first step in a corruption case: get the receipts.

At least we had moved on from "lost all that money" to "maybe will get some of it back."


Act 3: Surprise, surprise!

I came back next day to find an evemail.

2009.06.26 09:32
Ah!!

I didn't think to check my wallet transactions. I have no problem correcting the situation for you. :)

It turns out there was no need to petition, the money had not disappeared. He had paid my price originally but genuinely thought he had paid his price so he really thought he was poorer. He was actually sitting on a pile of money and just had not noticed.

Then I checked my wallet:

Fair Play


He had transfered the difference over to my account!

I am impressed. I mean, it was a stupid mistake on my part and maybe he had no obligation to help me fix it, other than what he thought would be fair. And he thought it would be fair... to pay the buy price! I also have my own theory about this, I think that if you are nice and polite to people, people tend to be nice and polite to you -but then again, I am reminded that "asking nicely" is not the the fix for "stupid mistake."

At the end of he day, I am actually happier it all turned out this way. This means that not everyone out there is out to scam, backstab, burglarize, gank or grief you, that there is genuinely good people that do care whether someone else is having a rough time or made a mistake. Or maybe it means that being nice to other people really takes you places -charisma tanking FTW. Maybe I was just lucky.

And the difference between sale price and buy price? I think that is the best money I have ever spent. 'cause a ship can be killed, even a small fleet can disappear in the blink of an eye (doh), but the feeling -no, the certainty- that there are strangers in the cluster capable of a random act of fairness, well, that is so much harder to kill.

So here is to Ballistic Mystic, thank you so very much!

I am setting you +11 blue forever. Maybe we will meet again...

-Q

30 June 2009

EVE Blog Banter #9: Down with Downtime!

Welcome to the ninth installment of the EVE Blog Banter and its first contest, the monthly EVE Online blogging extravaganza created by CrazyKinux. The EVE Blog Banter involves an enthusiastic group of gaming bloggers, a common topic within the realm of EVE Online, and a week to post articles pertaining to the said topic. The resulting articles can either be short or quite extensive, either funny or dead serious, but are always a great fun to read! Any questions about the EVE Blog Banter should be directed here . Check out other EVE Blog Banter articles at the bottom of this post!

"Last month Ga'len asked us which game mechanic we would most like to see added to EVE. This month Keith "WebMandrill" Nielson proposes to reverse the question and ask what may be a controversial question: Which game mechanic would you most like to see *removed completely* from EVE and why? I can see this getting quite heated so lets keep it civil eh?"



Two minutes - Molden Heath - Occator-class Transport Carillon

The ship shook as another missile hit.

Without looking away from his tactical display, the Captain barked orders. "Damage control, status!"

"Sir! Armor at 27%, we are overheating resists up, repair unit is offline, repeat, offline."

"Capacitor?"

"Zero, or close to," reported Engineering, "they are neutralizing as fast as we can generate, but I think I can keep the hardeners going."

Competent, he thought, shame she would have signed up right before this hauling mission. The pirates had ambushed them on the last low-sec gate of the return trip, before entering warp. Now the pack of frigates was slowly taking the ship apart... but there was a small window of opportunity and he would jump through it or die trying.

"Helm, keep trying to align to any celestial out there and warp to it."

"We are being bumped, captain, cannot align.""

"Align, damn it! Just keep trying again and again. Engineering, buy us all the time you can get!"

--

One minute - Tash-Murkon - Exploration vessel Voilà

"Nothing on scan, ma'am. Shall I scan again?"

Fire at will!, she thought, and smiled at the prospect of a silvery trail of scan probes abandoned in space. Oh, what was the point... there was nothing in this system... nothing in this region. There was probably nothing left in the entire cluster. She looked at the time in the display. Less than a minute.

"Yes please. Move pattern, then scan once more."

The point was practice. To keep skills sharp.

--

45 seconds - Essence, 25th FDU Defensive Patrol 1000h
(Graveyard Shift)

They had been flying for the entire shift and spotted no targets.

"So I says 'careful, that's not one of ours' just as he realizes he's trying to dock at the wrong station. Sentry guns almost get him good, warped out in half structure, har, har, har..."

The squadron had a clean record. Not impeccable, but clean. No kills, no loses, no action, no nothing. They came out at 1000 hours every day, patrolled until 1100 and handed over to the next shift.

The banter on comms was interrupted by the flight leader's voice "Ladies, cut the chatter. Time's over, dock up and get some sleep. See you guys tomorrow."

One by one, the squadron aligned and docked at a friendly station. All but one.

"Sir, Beaucheff here. What if we overstay shift?"

The militia flight leader started to reply a string of obscenities, then thought better. It was actually amusing. "You know what, Bo? That is the best damn idea I have heard in some time. But we seem to be all docked up so, why don't you do just that, overstay. We meet afterwards and then you tell us all about how it went, mkay? By the way, you keep your clone updated, don't you?"

--

30 seconds - Tash-Murkon - Voilà

"Thank you, that would be enough. Retrieve scan probes."

--

15 seconds - Molden Heath - Carillon

"Sir! Hull integrity 50%, I do not think she will take it!"

"She can, and she will."

The PA system blared "all hands brace for emergency warp, all hands brace for emergency warp."

--

DOWNTIME - Essence - in the dark

Lieutenant Beaucheff saw his flight systems shut down, then everything went dark.

--

DOWNTIME - Tash-Murkon - in the dark

"Latte, as usual?"

"Yes, a small one please."

--

DOWNTIME - Molden Heath - in the dark

The transport hung half-dead in space, far away from gates, celestials, pirate ships or anything else. All alone. Inside it was pitch-black, the incessant hum of a living ship having been interrupted.

But it was not quiet.

There was the cheering sound of a living crew.

--

DOWNTIME - Essence - in the dark

Beaucheff tried again to bring the systems back to life.

"Come on, 600 seconds to cluster restart? You have to be kidding me..."

It would take time.

--

30 seconds - Molden Heath - Carillon

The transport came out of emergency warp and immediately started aligning to the high-sec gate. The hull breaches were not visible anymore as armies of nanites worked furiously to patch the armour up, powered by newly-restored capacitor.

The small pirate gang, returning from their own emergency warp dispersed and disorganized, was too slow to react in time.

Their quarry had escaped.

--

One minute - Tash-Murkon - Voilà

"Ma'am, readings confirm the presence of kernite, jaspet and, whoa, hedbergite? Here? We're rich!"

She smiled. "Please inform base of the find, and make sure they send an Orca with the miners. We are only rich if we can mine all that before anyone else, you know."

"Aye, Ma'am. Woohoo! Will you look at the size of that rock!"

--

Two minutes - Essence - FDU Defensive Patrol

Beaucheff went for a last tour of the constellation. He had crossed paths with the Offensive Alpha Shift as they were heading for their own patrol, and had briefly talked to them. It was almost funny how the voices on the other side sounded worn out, nervous and jumpy in a way that no one from his shift ever did. He did not want to imagine how they would sound by the time the shift ended. Maybe it had to do with all those bunkers open for business now, and the enemy fleets roaming.

Anyway, would have loved to stay and chat but it was time to go home. His autopilot warped him to the last gate.

Right in front of him, the gate activated. Local spiked.

"Oh, sweet mother..."



DOWNTIME: that time of day, every day, when everything stops in space. No matter how important the battle is, how close you were to docking, how many zillions you have at stake in the market, everything blacks out at 11:00. Ships disperse and warp away, resources appear, conquered areas are to be contested again. A tired universe is made anew, during downtime.

In any case, here is why I think that aspects of downtime are bad: lots of stuff is generated at the same time. Asteroids, bunkers, exploration sites. Opportunities. Not that opportunities are bad, no, no, but having everything generated in one go is sort of unbalancing.

This gives people who fly right after downtime, more opportunities than the people who fly long afterwards.

So what are the chances that downtime is going to go away? Not many, I think. And what can be done about it? Well, downtime is not going to go away by itself overnight. Maybe it needs to be gradual. Maybe some of the stuff that happens at downtime should be replaced by new mechanics. So:
  • Stop doing all of it in one go.
  • Re-spawn some stuff spontaneously during the day.
  • Eventually, re-spawn everything spontaneously during the day.
  • Do away with the need for daily downtime.
I do not think that downtime will go tomorrow or next next week, there may be reasons why it's necessary. In the meantime, maybe we can start walking (ha, ha, walking) away from it. And I will still enjoy my downtime coffee.


Go visit the other participants of the EVE Blog Banter:
  1. Diary of a Space Jockey, Blog Banter: BE GONE!
  2. EVE Newb, (EVE) Remove You
  3. Miner With Fangs, Blog Banter - It's the Scotch
  4. The Eden Explorer, Blog Banter: The Map! The Map!
  5. The Wandering Druid of Tranquility, "Beacons, beacons, beacons, beacons, beacons, mushroom, MUSHROOM!!!"
  6. Inner Sanctum of the Ninveah, Kill the Rats
  7. Mercspector @ EVE, Scotty
  8. EVE's Weekend Warrior, EVE Blog Banter #9
  9. A Merry Life and a Short One, Eve Blog Banter #9: Why Won't You Die?
  10. Into the unknown with gun and camera, Blog Banter – The Hokey Cokey
  11. The Flightless Geek, EVE Blog Banter #9: Remove a Game Mechanic
  12. Sweet Little Bad Girl, Blog Banter 9: Who is Nibbling at My House?
  13. One Man and His Spaceship, Blog Banter 9: What could you do without?
  14. Life in Low Sec, EVE Blog Banter #9: Stop Tarnishing My Halo
  15. Cle Demaari: Citizen, Blog Banter #9: Training for all my men!
  16. A Mule in EVE, He who giveth, also taketh away?
  17. Dense Veldspar, Blog Banter 9
  18. Morphisat’s Blog, Blog Banter #9 – Randomness Be Gone !
  19. Facepalm's Blog, EVE Blog Banter #9: What a new pilot could do without
  20. Memoires of New Eden, You're Fired
  21. Kyle Langdon's Journeys in EVE, EVE Blog Banter #9 Titans? What's a Titan?
  22. Achernar, The gates! The gates are down!
  23. Speed Fairy, EVE Blog Banter #9: Down with Downtime!
  24. I am Keith Neilson, EVE Blog Banter #9-F**K Da Police
  25. Ripe Lacunae, The UI… Where do I begin… (Eve Blog Banter #9)
  26. Clown Punchers, EvE Blogs: What game mechanic would you get rid of?
  27. Estel Arador Corp Services, You've got mail
  28. Epic Slant, Let Mom and Pop Play: EVE Blog Banter #9
  29. Deaf Plasma's EVE Musings, Blog Banter #9 - Removal of Anchoring Delay of POS modules
  30. Podded Once Again, Blog Banter #9 - Do we really need to go AFK?
  31. Postcards from EVE, 2009.07.02.00.29.06
  32. Harbinger Zero, Blog Banter #9 – War Declarations & Sec Status
  33. Warp Scrammed, Blog Banter 9 – Never Too Fast
  34. Ecaf Ersa (EVE Mag), Can a Tractor Tractor a Can?
  35. Thoughts from an Accidental Minmatar Revolutionary, EVE Blog Banter #9 - Aggression timers, WTs and Stargates
  36. Mike Azariah, I don't put much stock in it...
  37. Rettic's Log, Blog Banter: Overview Overload
  38. A Sebiestor Scholar, [OOC] EVE Blog Banter #9: Slaves
  39. Diary of a pod pilot, [OOC] EVE blog banter #9: Because of Falcon
  40. Roc's Ramblings, Blog Banter #9 – Taking Things Slow
  41. The Gaming-Griefer, EVE Sucks, But I Love It: The Memoir of a Masochist
  42. Letrange's EVE Blog, Blog Banter #9: Bye Bye Learning Skills
  43. Lyietfinvar, Remove that monopoly
  44. Sceadugenga, Blog Banter #9
  45. Industrialist with Teeth, EVE Blog Banter #9

20 June 2009

Going places

Come on babe
Why don't we paint the town?
And all that Lag!

-Jita, the Musical.



Remember way back, when Kirith Kodachi came up with this meme, about posting the map with the places you have been? I think I may be a bit late... but anyway, here it goes:


Town, painted


Funny, I did not expect that. It actually does look like I have been around most of Empire. Come to think of it, it has been over two years in space and, with the racing scene, you do get to see places.

I am not a good shot, see, but that is not the same as being a scared shy little mouse that will stick to hi-sec only and pray she does not come across the cat.

I go places.

I still pray I don't see the cat. And if I do, I run like hell!

So, let's look a bit closer...



The interesting bit is realizing that I used to stick to familiar places because of friends and missions, and all that changed when I began racing.

Of course, a racetrack will send you through high and low-sec. That would be the obvious one.

But there is more than the obvious. Did you know that some of us move spare equipment into the race region prior to the race? Paint some more. Also, speed rigs are needed; we had to build our own when we started... that meant shopping for the best prices and hauling stuff out of lowsec. More red paint. And once you had your rigs, why not make some more and sell them? Haul it across the cluster. Or, getting the best racing implants, which in my mind happens to be the Nomad set, go mission in 0.0 for them Thukkers.

A little bit of everything, a little bit of everywhere.

Out of all this, some memories close to my heart would be:
  • Tash-Murkon, God bless them space-billies who would buy anything shiny at retail.
  • That line is my trade run through low-sec, from Metro/Heimatar/Molden (home of polycardboard) to Tash (space-billies).
  • Providence and the Great 0.0 Rally Race.
  • More 0.0, working for the Thukker tribe over at Syndicate/Placid.
  • Exploration in Sukanan.
  • Sinq Laison, home sweet home.
  • The EVE gate.

I guess then, that next stop would have to be deeper into 0.0...

07 June 2009

Racing Cookie

June 111, ISRC Season 7, Race 6
Black Rise, After-race party




That's a racing spec cookie.

  • Triple-chocolate cookie (choco cookie, choco chips, white choco chips)
  • The size of my open hand
  • Yummy

I always buy one on the morning of a race day, at a café close to home. It becomes that day's lucky cookie until after the race, when it becomes... history.

Not that it has been helping much lately, Takashi seems to beat us, cookie or no cookie.

Maybe it needs more chocolate...

03 June 2009

Sniper

I wait, motionless.

I breathe deeply, just like I have been taught, and concentrate.

I hope.

My hands feel around for the edge of the camo blanket and, finding it, pull it aside.

I still harbor hope.

I open my eyes and there are my tools: a scope and a railgun. I was really hoping these would not be there.

But I find, in front of me, tools of destruction. All mine.

How did I end up doing this? Talking, as usual. This time, I let someone talk me in.

I still have some hope that the decision will not be mine, that something will go wrong and I will have to go back. "Oui monsieur," I would say, "I did everything I could. The weapon was damaged when I got it."

Click. But the pieces fit together perfectly. So much for hope.

I plug in. Breathe in, out, concentrate and calm down my pounding heart... the railgun welcomes my mind, senses my pulse, my breathing reflex and starts learning; it comes alive, starts breathing and pulsating by itself, its -his?- movement compensating my own before starting to learn those of the wind.

I lie down and wait with my eyes closed. I can see through my tools.

And I wait, motionless.

Commotion, someone is approaching down there, in the distance. The object of my attention is flanked by people in shades -rather, Evil Things that look like shades, I remind myself. They move with precision and professional cool, yet there is a certain twitchyness about them that almost reminds me of birds scanning for danger, blinking and looking around. Agility implants, surely; they just look nervous but I know they are not. I know I am. One of them looks in my direction and -I shudder to think- right through me. Those shades, they freak me out. Do they know I am here?

My covops suit keeps me safe and hidden but, yes, they know I am here. They must know. They always do.

This means I have only one chance.

But I don't want to take it. I don't want to kill. Ah, but there is a reason they talked me into this. It's because it is the right thing to do.

Apparently.

The gun knows where to deliver its message way, way better than I do; it is a matter of physics. It knows better, so much better in fact, that I am not allowed to aim. Just watch. Ah, but I do know things my gun does not know, I know the best time to shoot: when they are looking the other way, when they have checked, double checked everything, when they have made sure. When they feel safe. When they least expect it. It's a matter of people. That's why the gun is not allowed to shoot. Just aim.

Together, my railgun and I. We know where, we know when.

It feels horrible. Cold. How can killing someone be the right thing? There is always an alternative. I should have quit. One can always not do it. Walk away, just like that.

But I wait.

Just like he told me... how did I allow him to talk me into this? I hate it. I hate the waiting, because it gives me time to think about what I am doing. This is not right.

No... this is right.

Only it does not feel right. Never mind, the feeling will go away.

The birds are calming down. They still look around, protecting the nest, but now they have turned their attention to other corners of their world. Away from me and away from my invisible touch. They start walking away, turning their backs to me. Just a little bit more.

An opening.

In my mind, I gently squeeze the ball to nothing, careful not to disturb the gun.

And we let the charge fly home...

Two men tumble, one of them my target, the other one some poor soul whose job was just to take a bullet for him. Good boy, job well done. Yet behind him, my mark still flops down. Watchful birds are startled and nervously look around for the shooter, guns drawn. They will not find me.

I am invisible.

I might as well, I have just killed someone. I want to crawl under a rock.

I have just shot Tibus Heth, the leader of the State. I have saved the Federation, the State and New Eden. It does feel weirdly right yet totally wrong. Ends should not justify means. Look at what we achieved! Yah, but look at me, look at ourselves now... we are just like them.

A few minutes later my comms confirm that he is not dead, just badly hurt. So badly that he will be sipping his food through an IV drip from now on. Anyway, he will not be causing any more harm.

I whisper a reply in my thoughts, letting my contact know that I am fine and will join him at rendezvous.

I stand up.

A chime -what is that noise at my back? I spin... he is right behind me, wait, what is HE doing here and what is he is raising in my direc... BLAM


--

GAME OVER.


602 POINTS.

At least I took Heth.

But he? He bagged Foiritan. After that he went for Blaque and, after him, was working his way down the Supreme Court for like a zillion points, before getting bored and deciding to take me out.

I put the pointer down in front of the console. Some rifle.

"Is this supposed to be fun? Killing pretend people?"

"Well, actually it gets boring rather quickly. That's why you want to kill other players -that never gets old."

"You griefer. I do not want to play anymore... it's sick. And cheesy, with the covops suit, there is no such thing as a covops suit. And it sucks."

"Do you have anything else in mind?" he asked, still grinning.

"You promised to take me out. Please tell me this was not it," I sniped back.