Wednesday, September 29, 2010

EVE Blog Banter #21 - The Lure of the Wild

Welcome to the twenty-first installment of the EVE Blog Banter
, 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 to crazykinux@gmail.com. Check for other EVE Blog Banter articles at the bottom of this post!

This month topic comes to us from @ZoneGhost who a few month ago asked "Is Low Sec the forgotten part of EVE Online?" Is it? I'd like us to explore this even further. Is Low Sec being treated differently by CCP Games than Null Sec (Zero-Zero) or Empire space is? Can one successfully make a living in these unsecured systems where neither Alliance nor Concord roam to enforce their laws? What's needed? Or is everything fine as it is?


I am honored to be submitting my first post in the EVE Blog Banter. Unfortunately, as a noob to the game, I can't really answer any of these questions intelligently. However, I will address the topic of low sec in EVE from a new player's perspective.

Like most people, I had been told what a "dangerous place" low sec is in EVE. I decided, as a noob, that I would stay out of there, at least for now. So I did my tutorials and started missioning. Fortunately for me, I decided to participate in one of my corps PvP fleets. Flying with them has introduced me to low sec (in a "safe" group environment), and now I have a slightly different perspective on it.

First, if you're a new player afraid of low sec, do yourself a favor: find a fleet to fly with and try it out yourself. A good PvP fleet can teach you a lot about low sec--mainly, how to fly there safely (or at least as safely as you can). Perhaps in the future I will post a guide on this, but I don't feel I have enough experience with it to be giving advice at this point. The important point to take away here is you don't have to be afraid in low sec! You need to know some tricks of the trade, true, and you need to be alert at all times, but there's no reason you, as a new player can't venture into low sec.

Do yourself a favor. Find a group of friends who have some experience with PvP and low sec and fleet up. Take a frigate with a cheap fit. Put a couple warp stabilizers on it. Ask your friends to take you around low sec and give you some tips on how to fly there safely. They will teach you how to travel safely (no autopilot!). Hopefully they'll teach you the basics of using the directional scanner. Most importantly, you will gain some confidence and realize that you can do this.

Even though I feel I know the basics of traveling in low sec, I don't hang out there by myself. But if a mission requires me to dock up in a low sec station or travel through a low sec system, I'm not afraid to do it.

Does CCP need to give some more love to low sec? Again, I don't know personally, but from what I've seen the consensus within the community is yes. Hopefully they can make some changes so low sec isn't so empty. Low sec should be more than the place you travel through when going from high sec to null sec.

Fly smart.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

War Declaration Survival Guide

1) Communication is key. Read the forums. Get corp-mates to read the forums. Listen to chat and vent advice when given, and spread the word.

2) Stay alert and attentive. When you log off, always be docked. When you log on, check your contacts and local to see if any war declared players are online or in your area. This should be the first thing you do when the corp is at war. If they are in your area, proceed with caution. Newbs, just stay docked. Every time you jump to a new system, repeat this process.

3) Establish a watch system. Keep an eye on your corporation chat tab. It keeps you informed on any war declarations against us and tells you who made the declarations. When we get a war declaration, go to this page and add the corporation that declared war on us as a contact with Terrible Standing. Make sure to click the box that also adds them to your watch list, which will alert you every time they log on or off. This allows you to track any of the enemy corp’s members in the local chat window if they are in your system. Expand local chat in a separate window to make it easy to watch for them. Repeat this process for every alliance currently tied to this corp, so you have all the players that can attack you on your watch list.

4) Detect and report. When you detect any war declared players in your location, report them to your fellow corp members in corp chat and ventrillo, so they know to be cautious. Let them know your location and who is there.

5) Learn to use your directional scanner. There are many excellent guides to this online.

6) Always keep moving. When in space you should always be moving at at least ¾ speed. You should also be aligned to a celestial (preferably a planet) whenever possible. The reason for this is that before your ship can warp, it must be moving at ¾ speed and aligned to its destination. If you’re already at ¾ speed and aligned, you will enter warp almost instantly. Generally speaking, the bigger your ship is, the longer it will take it to align. Planets are a good safe spot to warp to because it’s less likely there will be enemies there (as opposed to a station, moon or stargate).

7) Set safe spots. You should always have a safe spot you can warp to. There are many excellent guides on the internet on how to do this.

8) If you’re hanging out by a stargate, always orbit at 500 meters. This way you are close enough to the gate that you can jump through the gate instantly if you’re attacked. When you come through a gate, you will be cloaked for around 30 seconds. Take time to assess your surroundings (use your directional scanner) before you move and lose your cloak. Realize that when you first come through a gate, you will be too far away to use it. If you’re going to hang out by the gate you just came through, you want to burn back to 500 meters from the gate and orbit.

9) Escaping through a stargate. If you’re attacked, you can go to a jump gate and jump out, and the aggressor cannot follow you for 30 seconds. This is a nice trick for getting away. Be careful here, because you don't want to shoot back if you are using this to get away. Don't panic if all they are doing is targeting you. Go by the gate, orbit at 500 meters, and wait for them to shoot before jumping. Be aware there are mind games that they can play, and it’s all just a ploy to get you to do something without thinking.

10) Don't fly anything you can’t afford to lose.

11) Try not to fly alone if you can avoid it. Especially if flying something that's an easy target (anything larger than a frigate, really). Avoid flying rare and/or expensive ships and fits. Loosing such a ship is hard on you, and is a great prize for our enemies, which will only encourage more hostile actions on their part.

12) Situational awareness. If mining or missioning, keep your eye on local chat, keep aligned to a station, and keep an eye out for combat scanner probes in the directional scanner.

Fly smart.

Quickie: What I Learned Last Night


I just thought I'd do a quick post and share a couple things I learned last night. Yes, I know, my noobishness is showing.

I've learned what I call my EVE Golden Rule:

If you're doing a mission (or whatever) and it seems unusually hard, there's probably a better way to do it. Stop beating your head against the wall and do some research!

Some solutions I've found putting this into practice:

Sometimes you just need a better fit.

In some missions you can achieve the objective without killing everyone (blitzing). For instance missions where you have to loot a specific item. Just take out the one target you have to, loot it, and get out if it's too hard.

In some missions ships keep respawning until you take out a specific target(s). If ships keep respawning, do some research and find out which target you need to take out. If the info isn't available (it happens, happened to me last night), look for a ship that is the only one of its type. "One of these things is not like the other....."


Salvaging during missions is dumb. Do your mission, bookmark the rooms, then turn it in and return with a salvaging ship (multiple salvagers, MWD, tractors).

I know people have told me this before, but for some reason it didn't sink in until last night. I had a mission with something like 50 wrecks to salvage. Glad I used this tip (finally).

Fly smart.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Big 3 in EVE: EveMon, EFT, & Battleclinic

By now you've made your character and done the tutorial missions. The next important tools in your EVE toolbox are what I like to call "The Big 3." These are:

EVEMon

EFT (EVE Fitting Tool)

Battleclinic Loadouts


EVEMon

You will want to start using EVEMon right away. EVEMon is a skill planner. There are a LOT of skills in EVE, and without a tool like this, it can get a little overwhelming. Many tools in EVE have prerequisites—skills you need to know at a certain level before you can learn the new skill. EVEMon makes planning your skills easy.

Here is a great guide on using EVEMon.

Here is a great guide on using EVEMon to make the most of your ship.


The guides are pretty self-explanatory, and EVEMon is easy enough to figure out on your own if you’re savvy. I will just point out a few things. There are three basic ways I use to add skills to my training plan.

1) Adding a particular skill. Once you’ve opened a training plan (or created a new one), you can go to the Skill Browser tab to enter a specific skill. You can either type in the name of the skill in the search field (the one with the binoculars), or you can find it in the skill trees. When you click on a skill, it will give you a description of the skill, and it will show you all the prerequisites in a tree format. To add the skill to your plan, right click on it, select Plan To… and pick the level you want to train it too.

2) Adding a certificate. Certificates are a great feature in EVE and an easy way to figure out which skills you need to learn. A certificate I recommend for every player to use as a starting point is Core Competancy Basic. To add skills by certificates, go to the Certificates tab in the Skill Planner window. Find the certificate you want, right-click on it, select Plan To… and pick the level you want. EVEMon will add all the appropriate skills to your Plan Queue.

3) Adding requisite skills for a ship. Go to the Ship Browser tab in the Skill Planner window. Find the ship you want to fly. Once you’ve selected a ship, you’ll see two relevant areas on the bottom right of the screen: Recommended Certificates and Required Skills. You can add each skill/certificate individually in each area by right clicking on them, or you can add all the skills or all the certificates at once by clicking the relevant Add All To Plan button (you have to click both buttons to add all the skills and certificates). The Required Skills are the minimum skills you need to fly that ship. However, I recommend training the Recommended Certificates as well, or you won’t do much good in that ship.


Attribute Remapping. EVEMon also helps you with your attribute remapping. EVE allows you to remap (redistribute) your attributes twice in the first year you play, and once per year thereafter. This will optimize your training time. To get EVEMon’s suggested attributes, click the button at the top of your screen that says Optimize Attributes. Then click the button that says Attributes that would be best for the first year of this plan. EVEMon will give you the best attributes for that plan. You will then have to go into the game and remap the attributes. You can do that from your character sheet.

A word of advice about remapping: Don’t worry about this until you’ve got a good idea what you want to do in EVE (or at least want you want to do for the first year).

EFT (EVE Fitting Tool)

This tool helps you to fit your ships. With EFT you can experiment with different fits and see how they work without having to buy a bunch of expensive modules in game. The tool wills show you your ship’s hit points, dps (damage per second), volley damage, and much more.

Here is a good EFT guide.


Battleclinic Loadouts

On the Battleclinic website you can find fits that other people have come up with for your ship. People are able to vote fits up or down. Browse the fits, and make sure to read the comments. You can learn a lot here. Just a word of advice: just because a fit has a high rating (a lot of positive votes) doesn’t mean it’s the fit for you. Feel free to experiment.

You can export fits from this page directly to EFT. Above the loadout, you will see a horizontal row of “buttons”. The first on the left is Browse, followed by Create, My Loadouts, etc. Click on the one that says EFT Export. You will get a pop-up with the fit in a text format. Highlight the text and hit Control+C (or right-click and select copy from the contextual menu) to copy the text to your clipboard. Now load EFT. It will ask you if you want to import the fit.


In addition to the Battleclinic, you can find some great fits on EVE University’s pages. (I actually prefer many of their fits to the Battleclinic ones.) They have a guide for each race, giving all the ships by class in a very well-organized format. Not only do they give multiple fits for each ship (PvE, PvP, etc.), but they also give advice on how to use the ship with each particular fit. Check them out, you’ll be glad you did.

EVE University’s Amarr Basic Ship and Skill Guide

EVE University’s Caldari Basic Ship and Skill Guide

EVE University’s Gallente Basic Ship and Skill Guide

EVE University’s Minmatar Basic Ship and Skill Guide


EVEMon, EFT and Battleclinic work together to enrich your experience in EVE (and make it a hell of a lot easier!). Play with them and have fun. I hope you find this guide useful.

Fly smart.

Your First Hours in EVE

EVE is well known for its steep learning curve (or learning cliff). The game is very complex, but once you get your bearings, it's that very complexity that will keep you coming back for more. There is a lot to learn in EVE, true, but once you learn the basics, it flows fairly organicly. Just remember--there is always more to learn in EVE. Don't grow complacent. No matter how long you've played, there's more to learn.


EVE can seem rather daunting to the new initiate. However, with the proper tools, it's definitely doable. Believe me, it's more than worth the time you will spend in the beginning figuring things out. In this episode, I will provide you with many of the tools you'll need as a new pilot to succeed in New Eden.


First, a word of advice: Do the tutorials. When you load your character the first time, you are going to get pop-up windows asking you to do tutorials. Do them. I know, I know, those pop-ups get annoying as hell after a while, but they're a resource there to help you. Use them. Your first tutorials will show you very basic things in the game--how to control your ship, docking and undocking, that sort of thing. You will want to start with the Crash Course tutorial. This will show you the very basics.


Once you've finished the Crash Course, you will want to do the Career Agent Tutorials. There are many possible careers in EVE (ways that you will make money, ISK). These tutorials will introduce you to a few of them. Even more importantly, they will teach you the basics of the game. It is in your best interest to do these tutorials. They will show you how to run missions, which is one of the many ways of making ISK in EVE.


As you do the missions in the tutorials, the Career Agents will give you ships, modules, and skill books. I suggest that you don't buy anything in the game until you've completed all of the Career Agent missions. By the time you've done them all, you will have much of what you need. Nothing is more annoying than buying a skill book, and then having your agent give it to you for free during the next mission.


As you do the Career Agent tutorial missions, you will have situational tutorials popping up occasionally. I recommend you do these (yeah, I know they're annoying, but they really will help you). Also, in the beginning, when you open an interface, you will have an informational window overlaying it. Read these over. It's important in the beginning to resist the temptation to speed through things. Take your time, learn the game. You will have plenty of time in the future to blow up pirates and run missions. For now, focus on learning the game. You'll be glad you did.


At any time you can access the various tutorials by clicking the Help button on your Neocom or pressing F12. The window that comes up will also have a button that will take you to your Career Tutorial Agents.


Here are some helpful tools you will need to begin learning the basics of EVE:

Evelopedia's Eve Basics. This is a great place to start. Everything from creating a character to choosing your race. Evelopedia is a great resource for EVE information. Spend lots of time here.

Industrial Sized Knowldedgebase. This is an unofficial "players' guide" for EVE. Download it, read it. You'll be glad you did. This book will teach you much of what you'll want to know as a new player of EVE, including: some of the lore of EVE, different types of missions and mission agents, what kinds of agents give what types of missions (combat, courier, mining, etc.), and information on trading, mining, exploration, manufacturing and much more.

Guide to Skill Learning in EVE. This is an excellent introduction to skills in EVE. It explains how skills work and introduces you to Implants.

EVE Career Guide. You may have read this already, as CCP sends you a link to it in your introductory email. If you haven't, check it out.

EVE University's How to Earn ISK. This is an excellent introduction to many of the career paths in EVE. ISK is the currency in EVE (Interstellar Kredits). You will need ISK to buy ships, buy modules for your ships, and buy books to learn new skills, among many other things. Doing the career agents' missions will give you some ideas of the possibilities in EVE (and which you may enjoy). This resource will tell you about still more. As a side note, EVE University is an excellent resource for a new pilot in EVE. Peruse their wiki; there's a lot of good information there.

EVE in 2D. Here you can download .pdf maps of the different regions in EVE. Very nice to have.

EVE Survival: Mission Reports. This site gives an alphabetized lists of the missions in EVE. These guides will tell you what to expect in a particular mission and how to be successful in it. You probably won't need it to do level 1 missions, but come back when the missions start becoming more challenging.

Varius Arcturus' Overview Guide. A properly configured overview (the main UI element of EVE) is the difference between life and death in EVE. You won't need to worry about this so much while doing the tutorials, but once you're done with those, follow the steps detailed here to properly configure your overview.

If you have any resources you feel should be included here, feel free to email me. I hope you find these guides as useful as I have.

Fly smart.

Choosing Your Race

The first choice a new player to EVE must make is which race you are going to play. Unless you’re really into the roleplaying aspect of EVE, this choice is going to be centered around the ships you want to fly (although this may change with the future Incarna expansion). Here is a good place to learn about the four player races in EVE—the Amarr, the Caldari, the Gallente and the Minmatar. Each race also has bloodlines and ancestries that you will choose. Beyond roleplaying value, these choices have no real impact in the game other than determining your starting star system.

Your race will determine the ships you are able to fly when you start the game. Each race’s ships have their own distinctive focus. If you are a min-maxer type of player, then you’re going to want to delve into the general strengths and weaknesses of each race’s ships. There is no “best race” in EVE, just as there is no “best ship”. Each ship has a purpose in the game. You will fly many ships throughout your career as an EVE pilot, and if you follow this guide, you will have a few ships to choose from a few hours into play.

If you’re not as concerned with in-game statistics, you may want to choose you race based on the look of your race’s ships. Each race has a distinct style to their ship design. Likely at least one of them will appeal to you.

When you begin the game, you will be flying frigate class ships. Frigates are small, fast and maneuverable. Don't fall into the trap of thinking that frigates are “noob ships”. Frigates serve many purposes in the game, and some of the coolest ships in the game are frigates. If you want to fly covert ops ships or interceptors, for instance, those are all frigates. Here is a good place to see what the different frigates for each race are.

As you advance your skills in EVE you will learn to fly bigger ships. Some of the early classes of ships you’ll fly are (in order you’ll learn them) frigates, destroyers, cruisers, battlecruisers, and battleships. If you look over these ships, you will have a good idea of the ships you’ll be flying in the game. Here is a place you can explore the different classes of ships, and here is a site where you can see numerous pictures of each ship.

One of the best things about EVE is that, unlike many other MMO’s, you’re not limited in what you can do by your race or by a class. Any character can learn any skill in EVE. If you want, you can learn to fly any ship in the game, not just your race’s ships. Just keep in mind, it takes time to learn skills. So I recommend finding the race that has the most ships you like, and playing that race. It will save you some time training skills in the future.

Good luck in choosing your race! My next post will help you out with your first hours in EVE. I will provide you with a lot of resources to help you.

Fly smart.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Welcome to EVE A to Z

Welcome to EVE A to Z, the newest EVE blog. I am very excited to present this blog to you. We’ve got quite a trip ahead of us, and we’re undocking now. So strap in, hold on, and enjoy the ride!

I’ve been playing video games since there’ve been video games to play. I still remember the first night my dad brought Pac Man home. I’d never seen a video game, never seen a computer. There was a magic to video games in those days, days when people still played Monopoly and UNO. Somewhere along the line, that magic faded away. I thought it had been lost forever until the first time I played EVE.

In those early days I had a favorite video game—everyone did. Most people in those days either played video games in arcades, or, if they were really lucky, they had an Atari console at home (remember those?). Well, in a way, I was even more lucky. We didn’t have an Atari console; we had an Atari computer! An 800XL. This computer played video games too; it had its own cartridges. And at least at the time, it seemed the computer games were superior to the console games in graphics (they were, but someone with today’s eyes might not even notice the difference, it was so small).

My favorite game was called Star Raiders. I don’t know if games didn’t come with instruction manuals in those days, or if ours had just disappeared. What I do know is all I had was the cartridge, and I had to figure out how to play the game on my own. The Atari 800XL could use two joysticks—the classic Atari black joystick with one red button. In the game you flew a starship.

Almost every button on the keyboard did something—and it took me a while to figure out what they all did. You could change your speeds, raise and lower shields, fire photons (which were bursts of pixels), go to warp. The game was so basic. The graphics were laughable. But I loved it. I played that game every chance I got.

In those days, playing a video game was like reading a book—you had to inject a lot of your own imagination into it. The graphics sucked, the options were extremely limited, and there was no story. There were no voice actors, they had crappy digitronic “music”, and there were no in-game cinematics. I lived whole adventures in my mind, while I flew my ship around fighting the “bad guys”.

Even now, decades later, that first love affair with a video game has stuck with me. My inner dream has always been to find a game that was as immersive and inspiring in reality as that game was in my mind.

To me, a quantum leap in gaming occurred when I played my first MMORPG—Everquest. I’d gotten into playing roleplaying games in high school (D&D, Vampire: the Masquerade, Changeling: the Dreaming, Star Wars). Here was a video game that blended an RPG with a virtual digital world. Again I was hooked.

That love affair was short-lived; it didn’t last nearly as long as my relationship with Star Raiders. Everquest had a lot of problems; the MMORPG was a new creation; there were a lot of bugs to work out. It was light years better than MUD’s and MUSH’s (which I’d never been able to get into), but ultimately I found it frustrating to play. In the end, it was vastly inferior to tabletop roleplaying, and definitely not worth $15 a month to play.

So I gave up on MMORPG’s and video games altogether, figuring it was time to “grow up” anyway. But I still played my tabletop RPG’s (I was almost always the storyteller).

I had a buddy who played WoW when it came out, and he played EVE too. I had no desire to play WoW. My experiences with Everquest had scarred me. EVE looked cool, but I didn’t want to get into it. I was devoting a lot of time to my Changeling, D&D, and Vampire adventures (which I ran). I still considered a video game inferior. Deep down, I think I was afraid of EVE disappointing me, so I never tried it.

About two years ago, I installed a trial account of WoW out of sheer boredom. I had no intention of ever playing it for real, but I had a buzz on a Saturday night, with nothing to do, and I thought it might be a fun diversion. I ended up enjoying it more than I thought I would. I found a lot of the problems I’d had with Everquest had been fixed. I found a great guild and played WoW for about a year, and had quite a bit of fun with it.

Then I hit level 80. It took me a while because I had a few characters I played—a warlock, priest, mage, and paladin. I had fun being level 80 for about two weeks, and then the heroic grind got really boring. I watched some YouTube videos of raids, thinking maybe that would be fun to get into. It didn’t look remotely fun to me. Doing the same fights over and over and over, just to get some new piece of gear. Stupid.

About that time a lot of people in my WoW guild were trying EVE, so I figured, what the hell? Again I installed a trial, thinking I’d probably never play it for real. Again I was wrong, and I was hooked. For real this time.

EVE is superior to WoW in so many ways, I won’t even go into it here. Maybe I’ll do a post on it in the future. EVE is the game I always wanted Star Raiders to be—immersive, complicated, fun, beautiful.

I have been playing EVE a little over a month now. I guess you’d say I’m a noob, but don’t hold that against me! I’ve been reading everything about EVE I can get my hands on. I am a sponge when it comes to learning. I read fast, have great reading comprehension, and my hunger for knowledge is never satiated. EVE is a game I can really sink my teeth into. In my mind, WoW seemed very much a “kids’ game.” EVE is for adults.

I’ve been wanting to do a blog for a while now. I’ve just been waiting for the right idea for a theme to hit me. Now it has.

This is an EVE blog. I call it EVE A to Z because, like me and my experience in the game, this blog will grow and evolve over time. The blog is going to be divided into series (or seasons if you prefer). Each series will have a particular theme.

This first series will, among other things, be a guide to the new EVE player. There is a LOT to learn in this game, and even now, there are new players every day. There’s a lot of great information out there, and I don’t intend to reinvent the wheel here. I will be sharing with you what I learn about EVE, as I learn it. I will be sharing all the wonderful resources I find along the way. Expect to find lots of links in this blog! If there’s something you want to know how to do in EVE, and if you find a post on it in this blog, you will find links to the best material I could find on the net.

My intent is to publish at least one “episode” a week. In the beginning, at least, there will likely be more than one episode most weeks. However, one episode a week is my commitment to you. I will do my best to keep it.

I have some ideas for the following series, but I don’t want to get too ahead of myself. I already have lots of ideas for series one. However, I am always open to suggestions. If there’s a topic you’d like to see in this blog, please email me. If I was already planning to do that topic, I will move it ahead in the queue and cover it sooner if I get requests for it.

Please feel free to email me with comments, or you can contact me in-game if you like what you see here. If you contact me in-game, I suggest you send me an EVE-mail as opposed to trying to convo me. I don’t always accept convo’s from people I don’t know, but if you EVE-mail me, I will get back to you. Once I know you, I will accept convo’s. Please try to keep your comments constructive. If you have an issue with something I say, or how I’m doing things, please let me know. Just do it constructively. Respect and courtesy are key. I am very open to constructive criticism, but no one wants to listen to nastiness.

Comments are moderated on this blog just to avoid spam. I have no intention of blocking legitimate comments, and I will try to post them in a timely manner. That said, however, I do have a real life, so please keep that in mind.

I will get the first real post up soon. Until then,

Fly smart.