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Monthly Archives: March 2014

So, I have returned to EVE when there are two pieces of drama going on. The first of these is a change on how refining and reprocessing works that is due to occur in the summer expansion. I will probably write about that in due course, but in the main it is one of those semi-regular events in EVE when a forthcoming game mechanic change causes a bunch of folk to proclaim the imminent death of the game. Actually, the second kerfuffle also involves people proclaiming the end of the game. Such is EVE.

So, Ripard Teg made a post called “The Bonus Round” about a particular incident of scamming/harassment. Or rather, a particular incident that began as scam, and evolved into a very lengthy exercise in humiliation, which was then made public. I have not listened to the recording, but from all accounts things got fairly brutal. In due course a threadnaught occurred, there were quite a few subsequent blog posts, and generally lots of people talking, debating, arguing, and shouting to and at each other.

Ripard drew attention to, what even he admitted was an outlier of EVE behaviour, because he was concerned that the more public behaviour like this becomes the more likely it is to do damage to EVE Online, a game he cares for very deeply. Almost immediately, a load of people started clamouring in the other direction because they see pretty much any restriction on player behaviour as being inimical to the ethos of EVE.

Personally, I am on Ripard’s side in this particular issue, for a particular reason: seen it all before.

EVE thrives on its darker side. One of the great things about EVE is that it allows you to play the villain – in game. Those two last words are vital, and this is where I personally think that Erotica1 (the villain of this piece) went wrong. By taking things out of game (perhaps to try and avoid ToS or EULA issues) Erotica1 ceased to be a villain in a computer game, and became a villain in real life. There is precedent for this – The Mittani made the same mistake once as well on the stage of Fanfest.

There is also in EVE a continual tension between its darker side, one that is inherent to its sandbox nature. Being the sandbox that it is allows people to play the villain – it also allows people not to play the villain. It allows people to follow career paths that primary engage and ship pvp, and it allows people to follow career paths that primarily involve shooting nps and/or mining rocks/ice (plus lots of other possible variations). CCP as a company constantly tweaks the sandbox to try and keep that sandbox as a place where all sides can prosper. Put it another way, CCP tries to create an environment where the wolves have plenty of sheep to prey upon.

The wolves though have a tendency to go overboard now and then, and when they do there is sometimes a reaction. In reaction to the original Jihadswarms there were a number of changes which made suicide ganking a more costly affair. In reaction to some of the later Hulkageddons CCP actually made miners have the ability to fit decent tanks. The last change I particularly liked actually – previously one’s options to tank were rather limited, especially in anything but a Hulk. Now you have a genuine choice to go with tank or yield. To be sure, enough gankers can always bring a target down, but now the miner is not as powerless as they were.

In essence, this is where we are again. So long as Erotica1’s actions happened generally in a small circuit, CCP were happen to ignore them (if they even knew of them). Ripard however broke things open – but Ripard cannot be blamed for this. After all, no one forced Erotica1 to leave public evidence of his activities for all and sundry to see. Once things expanded outside the relatively small circle of hi-sec wolves that Erotica1 belonged to CCP was forced to take notice, and one thing CCP is very aware of is the weight of public opinion. So a restatement of the harassment rules, the apparent banning of Erotica1, and the clear determination that taking things to a TS server in an attempt to get around the EULA will not work.

Is this the end of scamming in EVE? Of course not. I personally think that the long-term effect of this is going to take quite some time to discern, but it is another iteration where out of game behaviour has an in-game impact, and that there is a line of bad behaviour that will have consequences. Better to keep things in-game, where the rules are clearer (almost anything goes). I am fairly sure events such as described in Ripard’s post will still continue to some extent, under the cover as it were. After all, from a certain point of Erotica1’s real offence was not what he did, it was getting caught and forcing CCP to take a stand.

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Two momentous events in my gaming life this week: Tier X and EVE. Gaming overall feels very exciting right now. Lots of possibilities stretching out ahead of me.

World of Tanks

The big news of course is that I have acquired my first Tier X, and I have now also played my first game  – a victory at that. The credit grind continues however, as I have a number of purchases coming up. The first of these is simple enough: moving the crew of my Panther onto the Panther II and commencing playing on that tank. I also now have a number of Tier V tanks I wish to get: The Type T-34, Bishop, AT 2, ELC AMX and Pz Sfl IVc. I also wish to get the Tiger II, the M36 Jackson will very soon be researched (I have about 5k exp to go to elite the M4A3E8 Sherman) and I am chugging away quite merrily towards the T32.

All in all this reflects what is going to be my biggest restraint moving forward: credits. I imagine this is going to see me playing my premiums a little more often – which is not a hardship.

Talking of premiums I have had a great deal of fun recently in the T14. It is currently one of my favourite premium tanks. While it suffers a little in firepower, it has a very bouncy front and a generous health pool, which allows it to be very effective in Tier V and Tier VI matches (it has preferential matchmaking so no Tier VIIs).

I have also continued to have some good success in the M5A1 Stuart. Not consistently, but far more regularly than ever was the case. Indeed just last night I had a wonderful Tier VIII match which saw me to over 2k spotting damage and kill a Tier VII arty, and be alive at the end of the match.

World of Warplanes

I played around on Monday for a time – but it was not a terribly successful session. I cannot really claim to have achieved very much, in particular I only modestly increased my credits.

Kerbal Space Program

The Mun and Minmus are being plundered for all the science that they are worth. Indeed, I am quite confident I could complete all the available research from just using my current basic rocket design.

This means I have slowly leaving behind the realm of game-given objectives (get Science) to more personal, sandbox play again. Top item on this list is to rescue Jebidiah Kerman, still stuck on the Mün. Second item is probably something like getting a Kerbonaut safely to and from another planet – probably Duna.

EVE Online

Oh much has changed, and much has stayed the same. Currently I am really just mucking around. Hacking mechanics have changed since I last played, so I spent an evening running around trying to find Data and Relic sites. I have some idea how this works now. Various ships have changed, and I am still getting a handle on that. Some new ships and modules have been introduced as well. At some point I will need to go through my BPO collection and find out where the gaps are.

The real question is what do I want to do in EVE? Well, I think it will take a little while to answer that. I will probably mostly be hi-sec based, though if other elements align I would like to do some poking around low-sec now and then. I do want to get some small-scale industrial stuff sorted out, hopefully setup in a way that will allow it to build up. I need to decide on a system for that. All in all I am intending to take things slow for a further while, and see where the journey takes me.

 

 

The IS-4 is mine. Mine I say. All mine! Mwahahahahaha … oops, Waffenträger E-100 – ouch.

Actually, the above hasn’t quite happened yet. I have now purchased the IS-4, but have not actually taken out into battle as yet. Last night I thought I had about 400k credits to go, but in reality I had about 660k credits to go. Fallible memory and all that. So I went at it – and generally had a very good evening with some nicely profitable games (if a couple of a donkey-games as well). I earned easily enough to acquire the tank itself, but was a little short to get the upgraded gun and do the necessary crew transfer and skill reset, not to mention the initial ammo costs. All told I reckon I probably need about another 400k or so before I can take the tank out.

Which is tonight’s aim.

KSP_top_of_minmus

Last night in Kerbal Space Program I intended to do another return trip to Minmus. I got distracted.

The trip out was easy enough, but as I arrived at Minmus I realised I had a nearly perfect polar orbit. When I landed things were even better – I was less than 3 degrees away from the pole. So, after taking samples and planting my flag, I took brave Keldos Kerman, and went to find the pole.

The screenshot above shows me at longitude 90 degrees. Success! Actually it was rather tricky at the end – there were various weird camera angle effects at play and the actual spot was very tiny. I probably spent the better part of an hour getting there, and I so chuffed I did. Sometimes computer games give very … ah … “individual” thrills. 😀

As it happened my original landing was only about 2.4km away from the pole. Pretty good for a totally manual landing.

Arrived so fast I almost missed it.

Today is my two-year anniversary in World of Tanks – and what a journey it has been. I have over 8000 battles now under my belt, within a few hundred thousand of getting my first Tier X, and am playing this game as good as I have ever done. I have also joined a Clan and started to get to know some really nice people.

A couple of weeks ago I noted this anniversary was coming up, and had various plans for a big post. None of these came to fruition. Time flies.

Except when it crawls, and two years also casts a long shadow.

I started to play World of Tanks in the main because I was looking for a more casual game. It was clear that my primary game of the previous years (EVE Online) would not be something I would want to actively continue with the arrival of my daughter. In due course I stopped playing EVE, and pretty also pretty much stopped playing LOTRO (I became a bit disillusioned over the course LOTRO seemed to be taking). I had also mostly stopped playing my major offline games – the various Paradox Interactive titles.

Wind forward two years. Life is different now. My daughter is older for one thing, and being a father is an adventure in its own right. However, some of the reasons why I wanted to play a casual game have now abated somewhat. Melian sleeps a good deal better than she did, meaning my evening gaming is relatively rarely interrupted. Also, although I am still prone to go absolutely giddy and gushing over how great my daughter is, I am no longer as emotionally overwhelmed. That is not quite right. Being married, and becoming a father, remain huge events in my life. It is not that their place has shrunk – it that I have grown, meaning I feel now to have more headspace for other things.

This can be seen perhaps in the last year or so with my playing of Kerbal Space Program, a game that is definitely more intellectually demanding, or my hopes to get playing Crusader Kings II once the new expansion launches this Tuesday.

Another aspect of this might be though in that I am starting to look for something other than tanks. I still very much wish to keep on playing World of Tanks. I have a great deal of fun, and I do not want to lose that. All the same, I am starting to want something more.

This weekend, I logged into EVE.

Well, I have obviously not managed to write any further blogposts this week. I think that is a partial side effect of getting back into the swing of things at work. Amongst other things this has meant me getting slowly more and more tired, to the extent I actually had an early night yesterday – which was a very good decision.

World of Tanks

I was uncertain whether or not to get the Tiger II in last week’s special. Eventually I decided not to, and in effect to downgrade the priority of acquiring the tank. Instead I spent some credits on bits and pieces of equipment, ground out the wins to complete the Tier VIII mission and its 350k award, and credits more generally. That was also basically the theme of the rest of the week. I now have just under three million credits, so with a bit of luck that IS-4 will be mine this weekend.

I also managed to elite the AMX 40 and M5A1 Stuart. In the latter I continue to have some increased success in the scout tank role. I really do want to have regular scout tank games, as I can feel the improvement now and I don’t want it to go all to waste. Plus I feel it will help make me a better tank driver in general. I have almost finished eliting the Valentine as well – one more game should do it. I will probably then proceed to concentrate on the Alecto as my next Tier IV to do. I am also intending to start work on one of the many Tier Vs I have hanging around – probably the T49 so I can work towards the fabled Hellcat.

My other longer grinds continue as they do. I am beginning to feel more comfortable in the IS-3, and have now had a First Class game. Mostly though these grinds are still at fairly early stages. With my IS-4 crew grind now reaching its end, however, I have decided to train up the crew I currently have in my VK3601H a bit. This crew I think I will stick into the VK4502P Ausf. A, but again I want the first crew skill to be well advanced, if not actually to 100% before I transfer it over.

Once I have gotten the IS-4 it will need a few hundred thousand credits to be able to fit it out properly. After that I will also look into getting the Panther II up to spec and the crew there transferred over. After that I am likely to start concentrating on acquiring a number of new Tier V tanks and below that I have unlocked recently.

Kerbal Space Program

This has been my go-to game this week when not tanking, in part because I have gotten on a roll. My new rocket design has successfully landed in over half of the Mün’s biomes now, gathering lots of lovely science data. I now have (I think) all the scientific instruments researched, so I am going to make a small revision to the design and start sending missions to Minmus. A couple of those should hopefully get me enough Science to unlock the technologies I want before I start doing things like sending out probes and landers to other planets.

I am very pleased to report that matters on the health front are much improved. Two weeks of rest (mandated by the doctor) plus a course of antibiotics appear to have gotten rid of the chest infection I was suffering from. I still tire easier than normal, but even that is improving as well.

I have managed to get a reasonable amount of gaming in, mostly as a result of resting so much – though I did overdo things one day this week and barely managed three games of World of Tanks before giving in and retiring to bed. Next week I will be back at work, and I am semi-expecting to require a lot more rest than usual once I get back home to begin with, as I get back into the swing of things. Hopefully however I will manage to start posting more regularly here as well.

World of Tanks

I have made a real effort to concentrate on three Tier IV grinds this week – the M5A1 Stuart, the Valentine, and the AMX 40. Three very different tanks. In all three I expect to elite the tanks over the course of the weekend, or early in the week. I have had some reasonable success with the AMX 40, but there is no doubt it is a tricky vehicle to play and sometimes simply too slow to get much action. The Valentine also suffers from slowness, but has much better firepower. I am proudest though of my successes in the M5A1. This is a scout tank, and I finally feel I have managed to have a run of games where I have done some reasonable scout-play, including spotting, countering enemy lights, and arty-hunting.

I finally have the top gun of the Ferdinand, and it certainly makes the tank a lot more fun to play. It packs quite a punch! Along with the IS-3, T29, and GW Panther I now have several longer grinds ahead of me to unlock the next vehicles on those respective trees. I am also slowly ticking over on the M4A3E8 Sherman, but it feels a bit like I am struggling there.

I have also played a reasonable amount on my premiums, including my first game on the Excelsior, and quite a few games on the T14. I am very much liking the T14. The front is fairly bouncy, and if the gun is underpowered usually I am able to apply damage. The grind for the IS-4 crew continues as well – they are now well in the 70% range for the second crew skill.

Speaking of which, the IS-4 is going to be the Top of the Tree discount for the second half of March. Hurray! No longer will I require six million credits, but four million. Yippee! However, there is something else to consider. The special this weekend has all Tier VIII vehicles on a 15% discount, and the Tiger II is on my shopping list. I currently have just over 2.5 million credits, having purchased the Panther II on the previous Top of the Tree sale. So, do I get the Tiger II now, and then hope I can make the required credits over the course of the next fortnight, or do I play it safe and put off the Tiger II. If I get the game time in getting the credits is certainly possible – my ST-I and KV-4 will benefit from a 30% earnings bonus and there are some credit-earning missions available. I will probably see how things are going by the end of the current special.

World of Warplanes

Not much in all truth, just a handful of games keeping things ticking over. The Bristol 146 is now fully upgraded, so starting the first grind of any length to research the first Spitfire. I did get two pieces of equipment on last weekend’s special offer. I just now have to decide as to the third. Essentially I am credit-grinding at the moment, saving up for that third piece of equipment, and another Tier II and another Tier III.

Skyrim

The Pale has been restored to the Empire. Next up The Rift. I have also plundered the High Gate Ruins, and picked up another Word of Power.

I am feeling I might be putting Skyrim on the backburner again soon however. I suspect depending on when the next instalment of Crusader Kings II is released.

Age of Empires II

Acquired cheaply on the Steam Sale in a fit of nostalgia. Played through the tutorial campaign and just a random battle. Good fun from days gone by.

Kerbal Space Program

I tinkered a bit more with my rocket design, and ended up stranding Jebidiah K on the Mün on purpose. Then I decided to send a probe lander on a one-way trip, just to gather some science, using a completely different rocket design. Only, I realised that the vehicle I used, after landing on the Mün had enough fuel left to get back to Kerbin. I redesigned the lander section slightly to include a Kerbal and some parachutes, and made a successful return trip.

My design is, if anything, more crude than what I was trying to do. Rather than have a separate orbiting craft and lander, which subsequently redocks to the orbiter, I did away with the orbiter. I used the remainder of my final stage to descent onto the Münar surface, meaning that the lander ends up on the surface with nearly its entire fuel – more than enough to get back.

I am intending now to do several missions to both the Mün and Minmus, doing investigations in various biomes, which should allow me to get enough researched to allow me to build better interplanetary rockets.