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."


"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.
  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


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.


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




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.