Archive for June, 2012

Plodding Along

One of the most limiting aspects of EVE is the real-time acquisition of skill points.

One could argue that this is a good thing as it gives people a chance to learn the game and develop the “player skills” needed to make use of the “character skills” you learn. I actually rather like that you can’t jump in to a Titan with a 3 month old character and that if you want to fly a Gallente ship, you require Gallente skills. On the other hand, this method of progression has the effect that it can reduce your enjoyment of the game and I think I’m currently hitting that point.

Jezebelle is currently flying a Megathron Navy Issue the best fit I can field: Shadow Serpentis tank modules, Meta 4 guns and Tech 2 everywhere else. Without further training, if I want to increase my damage output options are fairly limited.

Matching hardeners to missions I can tank fairly reasonable damage. For example, last night I ran The Assault and at one point during the first room found myself tanking 8 battleships at once. Now you could say I was running the mission wrong if I pulled that much agro, but that’s not the point. (In reality, I shot the “passive” group 4 and the whole pocket agro’d on me including warp scramming frigates so I didn’t have a lot of choice.) The best option to increase my mission speed (and therefore my enjoyment) would seem to be increasing my damage. I have a couple of options I can consider to achieve this:

  • I could drop 2 hardeners for Tracking Enhancers. This would literally half the damage I can tank which is not acceptable and so isn’t an option.
  • I could upgrade my guns for a theoretical gain of  between 25 & 100dps. I’m 65 days away from having Tech 2 rails/blasters and while this is in the plan, it won’t help me now. Faction guns would help me now and give me around the same damage increase as Tech 2, but at a cost of ~1bil ISK for the set. I could afford this, but it would wipe out about half my funds. Officer guns, which give the biggest increase are even more expensive at upwards of 1bil ISK each.

Bottom line is that I’m pretty much at the limit of damage potential with the ship/skills I have. So the next obvious consideration is my choice of ship. I could switch, with no training, to a Dominix which, from what I’ve read, will probably just give me more tank and no real increase in gank. (Smaller guns, bigger drones).

Looking wider, the Machariel is widely considered to be one of the the best level 4 mission ships but they’re running about 1.2bil ISK at the moment. Achievable, especially if I trade in my Megathron but it requires around 2 weeks training to be viable (I have no skill points in projectile weapons and, to date, I’ve mostly been focused on training armour tanking skills whereas the Machariel is usually shield-tanked so I’d need to do some cross-training there.) All this considered, I would see around a 50% dps gain with an increased tank as to boot so maybe I’ll give this a try.

Another alternative is to consider training up Jhiqui’s combat skills some. I have a plan in EVEMon to train her to fly a Drake, which can be done in around the same time it will take Jez to train for a Machariel. So this is another avenue I could look in to.

 

I guess the biggest problem right now is that WoW is calling to me. A lot of my former guild-mates are drifting back to WoW and I do miss the social aspect of playing with them. I could join a corporation in EVE rather than sticking to my private one, but the biggest problem would be finding one that suits me; I don’t PVP and I don’t mine. I don’t relish the constantly having to look over your shoulder aspect of null sec. In high-sec I can minimise local and just focus on what I’m doing, if I did the same in null I have a feeling I’d be floating in my pod (or worse) within a day or two.

Curse you Blizzard for making one of the most addictive games in history!!

Rewarding Loyalty

In EVE I mostly run missions which reward you in (as best as I can tell) seven ways:

  1. ISK reward: You receive a fixed payment for successfully completing the mission and, if you complete the mission within the time limit, you’ll be given an additional bonus ISK reward. For level 4 missions the ISK rewards vary but are generally between one and three million combined (this can be increased with the Negotiation skill.
  2. Bounties: Most NPC ships you destroy (including Rogue Drones since Inferno) reward you with a bounty for killing them. This is in addition to any ISK payout for completing the mission it’s self and can range from a few thousand for frigate-class vessels up to several million for certain named mission rats. (eg; Anire Scarlet in “Dread Pirate Scarlet” rewards a 5m ISK bounty.)
  3. Modules: Killing NPC rats leaves wrecks which can contain valuable modules. A lot of what you get is worthless junk (ammo for example, though don’t underestimate the value Large Frequency Crystals) but occasionally you’ll get a really valuable item. For example, last week I picked up a Meta 4 missile launcher that sold for almost 10m ISK. (Pocket change to some I realise, but pocket change adds up to big bucks over time.)
  4. Salvage: Once you’ve looted the modules from wrecks you can salvage the wreck it’s self. If you’re running in high-sec, you’ll pretty much exclusively get Tech 1 salvage which is fairly low value. The best you can hope for is Armor Plates & Alloyed Tritanium Bars which sell for 150-250k each (Jita prices).
  5. Standings: Regular missions increase your standing with the Corporation offering them. Story Line missions reward standing with that Corporation’s faction. Killing the rats rewards security standings. All of these add up and give you access to better agents and rewards.
  6. Items: Certain missions, notably Story Line missions, reward items. This is usually something like an implant that can sell for up to 20m ISK.
  7. Loyalty Points: Lastly, and perhaps most importantly for this post, you receive loyalty points.
Factoring in 1-4 from the above a good mission, such as Mordus Headhunters, you can earn roughly:
  • 3m ISK rewards
  • ~15m ISK in bounties
  • Anything from 10-30m ISK in modules
  • ~4m ISK in salvage
  • Total: Anywhere from 30m to 50m ISK depending on how lucky you get with module drops.

Through my missioning I’ve built up a small but growing stock of Loyalty Points which I’ve been trying to decide how best to spend. I’ve spent a couple of thousand here and there buying “navy issue” ammo (I generally use navy ammo vs battleships in missions to make things go faster) but that’s about it.  Initially I was planning to save my points and purchase Megathron Navy Issue hulls which sell for around the 450m ISK mark. However yesterday I decided to try and investigate some of the alternatives.

Implants sell well, big volume and reasonable return, but given that the Goons just dumped tens of thousands of these in to the market, the price is pretty low right now.

My next choice was to look at Federation Navy Magnetic Stabilisers. These sell for decent ISK (~90m each) and the LP cost is fairly low too. They looked pretty good, the catch however is that they also require you to provide a selection of dog tags which, when you have to buy them, reduce the potential return significantly.

What I’ve settled on is Federation Navy Comets. Since I crush most ammo and drones I loot I have a reasonable supply of minerals building up. I purchased two single run blueprints for LP and set up the industry jobs. If both sell, which they should, I’ll next ~75m ISK after sales tax. Not amazing, but pretty decent.

Shadows and Dust

Mists of PandariaI was talking to my wife the other day and we both decided that we miss playing WoW.

I started playing played when it was initially released. I played the beta, towards the end to be sure, but what I got to experience had me hooked. My wife started playing about a year in, while she was still living in the US

For the longest time, WoW was a significant part of our lives; we played together and we both enjoyed it. It gave us something to do together that was quite affordable, certainly cheaper than a lot of alternatives (have you seen the price of cinema tickets lately?!) Last October, we quit.

There were a number of reasons that we took the decision to cancel, the most obvious being that we were moving house and were going to be without internet access for a while. Additionally, as time progressed, we found that we had different “goals” we wanted to achieve in the game:

I like the end-game element and am happy to power through the levelling phase in the fastest, most efficient way I can. I love running dungeons (in fact, I levelled DK from 58-81 pretty much exclusively by tanking random dungeons via LDF). I like to theorycraft about how I can get the most out of my characters, which talents/abilities will benefit me the most and yes, I confess, I’m a bit of a loot whore.

My wife on the other hand is all about the levelling. She could quite happily spend her time creating alt after alt, exploring all the quest lines that the game as to offer and generally progressing at a leisurely pace, taking in the sights and sounds that side of the game offers.

Both are perfectly valid ways of playing the game and I don’t begrudge her in the least. We both have our preferred play-styles and that’s fine. I’ll happily quest with her and when we do, we’re actually extremely efficient. But for me questing is a means to an end, not the end it’s self. The problem comes when she tries to join in with my preferred aspects of the game. She freely admits that she doesn’t like to raid but, since I do, she does (did) on occasion jump in to raids with me. It was one such raid that was the proverbial nail in the coffin for her.

The raid wasn’t going well, tempers flared and comments were made to the effect of  “certain members of the group aren’t pulling their weight”. The raid fell apart, she logged out and immediately cancelled her subscription. After that, my own play-time dwindled back until I was pretty much only logging in to update my auctions so in the end, I cancelled my account as well.

 

So now the question is: How much do we really miss playing WoW?

Personally, I know that I could reactivate my subscription tomorrow and pick up playing pretty much were I left off. My DK still has 4 levels to go and I’d like to max her out before MoP. The same could be said for my Rogue & Mage and to a lesser extent my Warlock & Hunter.

MoP interests me, though I know that my wife is completely against the introduction of the Pandarian as a playable race. I’d probably give a Monk a try but to be honest, based on when I last played, I actually be tempted to focus on my Priest as my main this time around. I really enjoyed levelling her and was just starting to get in to healing. Our guild always struggled for healers so a full time Priest would be an asset there (saying this, a lot of the guild have quit WoW so this might be totally irrelevant anyway!)

Right now I have ~2.5 months of EVE game time paid for so I’m going to keep playing that until it runs out before I decide anything, but you never know… I might be back. (The simple fact that I’m writing this tells me that it’s a strong possibility, unless something significant happens in the next couple of months!)

Random Salvage

Last night I was running a few lower level missions on Jhiqui to get her Gallente standings up.

On one trip back to my mission hub there was a cargo container floating outside the station tagged as “free salvage bookmark”, the container was yellow so looting it would flag me with the person that dropped it so I figured that it was probably a honey trap. Then again, maybe it wasn’t and since Jez was sitting in the dock doing nothing I undocked her, grabbed the bookmark, redocked and traded it to Jhiqui. This way I could pay the bookmarked location a visit without risking being flagged for combat. (Sneeky, no?)

So, I switch to the Noctis and head off to the location to find a whole mess of wrecks. Judging by the number and type of wrecks someone had completed Mordus Headhunters lvl4 and just left everything, wrecks, loot, the lot. Happy days!

Only not so much… The field was spread over 100km, everything was yellow (no tractor beams & looting would flag me to the owner) and the wrecks were starting to despawn around me, bad times.

I did a quick search for the owner of the cargo container that had flagged Jez and checked out his corp too. Neither he, nor any corp mates were in system so, keeping one eye on my scanner, I set about clearing as much of the field as I could, focusing on the large wrecks first and working my way down. In the end, I managed to scoop about 15mil worth of loot and salvage in 5 minutes. Not too bad for no real effort on my part.

 

Moral of the story? Not everything in EVE is a trap, though you should probably treat it as such. Also, if you’re gonna leave a stack of wrecks like that, please abandon them so I can tractor them!

Item Quality

The quality of the gear/equipment you use makes a notable difference to how well you’re able to perform in a great many tasks and MMOs are no exception to this rule.

In WoW you have “Item Level” (iLevel/ilvl) and “Item Quality”.

Item Level is pretty simple to understand; it’s a number which every bit of gear in the game has on it. While there are a number of complex calculations that explain exactly how iLevels work, it’s generally safe to assume that a higher iLevel equates to a better item.

Item Quality is a little less obvious to new players (though you can pick it up pretty fast) as it is indicated by the colour of the text used to display the item’s name:

  • Grey – Has no use and is purely there to give you something to sell to vendors for gold (I’ve always wondered what they do with all those greys players sell them!)
  • White – Items of some value, includes craft materials and quest items
  • Green -“Common: Dropped by anything and everything. Often used while levelling up or as a source of enchanting materials
  • Blue – Uncommon: Mainly dropped by dungeon bosses. Give a reasonable bonus over a green item of the same iLevel
  • Purple – Epic: Mainly dropped in heroic dungeons and raids. Gives a significant bonus over both green and blue items.
  • Orange – Legendary: Very rare items that usually require the user to have completed some quest chain to earn. Usually the most powerful item available in a given tier of content (possibly lasting several tiers due to the bonuses they give) they also carry a certain amount of prestige given the effort involved in obtaining them.

 

EVE has a similar model with Meta Levels and a “Quality” of sorts (Tech Level).

Meta Levels begin at zero and apply to basic items produced by players, for example Expanded Cargohold I. From there you have Meta 1 to Meta 4 which give progressive improvements to the bonuses afforded and/or reduced fitting requirements. All items up to Meta 4 can be considered “Tech I”. Critically, Tech I items have very forgiving skill requirements, meaning that a character with low skill points still has an upgrade path when funds allow but skills do not. Using a Tech I items with a higher meta level also has the benefit of increasing the chances of success when performing invention.

When the meta level reaches “Meta 5” the item is classed as “Tech II”. These items (usually) give a bigger bonus than Tech I items of the same family, but have higher fitting and skill requirements.

Meta 6 to 9 items are classed as either “Storyline” or “Faction”. They give similar (sometimes better) bonuses as Tech II items but with fitting & skill requirements closer to Tech I items. This, combined with the increased rarity of these items, means that they have a significantly higher price tag.

Meta 10 (and higher) items are either dropped by NPC officer spawns (found in low-sec space) or in Deadspace complexes (the closest WoW analogue for a complex would be an outdoor raid boss). Both offer even bigger bonuses than Tech II & Faction items with fitting requirements usually somewhere in the middle. They are very powerful and are amongst some of the most expensive items in the game costing hundreds of millions of ISK and beyond.

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