a bit of game breaking

•October 18, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Or at least that’s what they’ll have you believe, the old-timers. And in some ways they’re right. The “Old Way” isn’t going to stick around.

I haven’t played at the big end, but at the little end the idea of a dedicated healer is, well, it isn’t possible. The best you’ve got for frigates is spider tanking — think taking a warrior and giving each of them a healing wand that they use with some negatives. If every fighter pushes healing to everyone else, and on call focus on healing whoever’s taking, it’s almost as good. More or less. For PVE. And to a small degree PVP, but only if your opponents don’t have their acts together.

What’s going to change is the frigate healers. They’re as fragile as any other frigate, so “kill the priest” is still valid. But like having healers they’re really beneficial.

Numbers. The spider sacrifices one gun slot to throw 96 points of ‘healing’ (for shields) every 5 seconds, and the ships have to remain within 4 km of each other. The Burst (the shield healer) can be expected to throw up to 144 points per gun slot every five seconds. And since it’s not shooting it can fill three gun slots. 432 points of healing over 5 seconds, or 4.5 ‘warrior’ slots freed up. Let’s assume a spider of 5 ships each with 3 gun slots – 2 guns and one healing device. That’s 10 guns. We drop one fighter for a healer. We lose 0.5 healing and pick up 2 guns.

Oh, and I almost didn’t mention. The healer gets to sit 24 km from the fight. In a knife fight brawl with short range weapons that helps, a lot — and a lot of frigate fights are knife fights. In long range fights the healer just keeps the fighting frigates between it and the attackers – not because they can stop the attack, but because the extra range can still be “out of range”.

But that was an equal exchange. Where this is really going to make a difference is for duos and trios. A duo … 432 healpoints every five seconds neutralizes a hair over 86 dps. Good fits of T1 frigates do 200-250 — heck, Jester’s FOTW Thrasher only gets 300. Provided the supported frigate can stand the alpha strike, the healer cuts a third to half the DPS of the attack.

Caveat here that should be obvious: Tier 2 and 3 frigates can get a lot higher. But that, like today’s good healer ships, takes time to train and costs a lot of money. Right now you can pick up a Burst for under 70KISK. In case you don’t play, that means you can buy several after any one of the training missions. They aren’t quite gimme ships, but they’re close.

There will be a lot of tweaking, of course, but players should be completely unsurprised to see frigate gangs with a handful of healers making old-fashioned heavy-hitter gangs cry. If you’re a heal-oriented player, your opportunities to play have climbed significantly.

(before I go I’d also like to reference Jester’s Healing Scimitar. It’s a parallel – and to be honest the inspiration for this post – only at the cruiser level. Cruisers are also easy for new players to get into – certainly within the first couple of weeks – but it’ll take a month or so to be really good with the skills due to various frigate-level prerequisites. I’m going to guess that eventually the Big Healers – the T2 Logistics ships that need Logistics skills – are going to be eye-opening. At the same time heal-oriented players can learn the basics before they jump into the epic battles.

But it’s still going to change how things work. And that will bring tears to long-time player — well, some of them anyway.)

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More bits and pieces

•October 18, 2012 • Leave a Comment

I’ve taken a couple of additional runs at my little challenge. The most recent did very, very well. Unfortunately I think it is also about the best I’d be able to achieve. And it makes me frustrated.

See, I earned 420MISK by day 14 of the challenge. I intentionally cashed everything out, and then I put in a bid for a PLEX. When I first assembled this challenge, a mere two months ago, I’d have had my PLEX, activated the trial account, and started playing. Now, however, PLEX are running around 600MISK. And barring more luck than I got this time (and I did get a couple of breaks) I don’t see making 600MISK.

So I’ll put the idea on the shelf for a while. There are some major changes to EVE Online in the wind and they may include something that pops the PLEX bubble — if it’s a bubble. If that happens I’ll pop in a trial and aim for the challenge.

I will be talking about some of the changes later. I think the game’s going to have some rage-quitters, and at the same time may suddenly be a bit more fun for current non-players. (Thinking mainly of the people who, like me, drift to being healers first.)

Later, and have fun.

Another trial run

•September 21, 2012 • Leave a Comment

So I started another trial last week. I committed the unpardonable sin of posting while tired, and lost 2 million instead of gaining an estimated 20 million.

One of the things that really annoyed me this time was recognizing huge profits that I couldn’t touch. If I were a paying account I’d have been buying a lot of beginner freighters, contracting to have them taken to trade hubs, and selling them for about double the purchase price. Since trial accounts can’t have contracting and can’t directly exchange ISK with other players I had to leave all that money on the table.

It’s actually something I’ve seen available most times I’ve run the trial. As such I’m going to recommend it to beginning (paying) players looking for trade goods. Do enough to start buying the starting freighters and make deals to get them hauled.

Engaging brain

•September 13, 2012 • Leave a Comment

I’m looking at the word salad I posted this previous post and trying to figure out what the heck I mean. The least issue is there’s no connection from first half to second beyond the fact it’s all about skills.

I’m not going to try and clean it up. That way every so often when I run through my archives I can remind myself I don’t have to push the publish button.

Here’s the basic. I have skills aimed at the money-making trade/industry, and I have skills aimed at flying a ship to help do that. I listed the former. Despite the quantity it’s going to take a surprisingly short time to train them.

In a later post I’ll list the skills for flying the ship I’m going to train over the rest of my first three days. And yes, this is basically my three day plan.

See, I figure my first three days will be setup. I’ve got the career tutorials which are going to take six to ten hours, which I will not get to do in one sitting. The third day will be getting my initial data – finding where the ground meets my plan and adjusting the latter. Day four is when I should probably be really taking off. Of course in an ideal world I’ll take off faster but, well, that remains to be seen.

a bit of skill thought

•September 13, 2012 • Leave a Comment

So I’m sitting here looking at a skill plan for my trial, both as 14 and as 21 day. I thought it would make a good meander.

Now, everyone who mentions skills points out that they continue to train even if you’re offline. You set up a queue and it’ll run that queue till it’s empty whether you get back online or not. You can only queue starts within 24 hours, but as long as that start is in time it can go any length. So if you’ve got something that takes four days it’s no problem. One of the things I’ve taken away in the past is that if I’m going offline for a day, try to make it so skills are almost done training when I come back.

Having said all that, I want to take a hard right turn. See, it’s important but insignificant to my present point. Instead, I’m looking at my skills in a different light.

I have 14 days (or maybe 21) to make over 500 MISK. My skills need to be aimed at doing that as soon as possible. Obviously this means money making skills are more important, but there are some others that can’t be ignored.

Before I go further I want to point out that all skills, or at least the first level of them all, fall into one of two large groups. Some are gateways – if you have the skill you can do the base activity, if you don’t you’re out of luck. An obvious example here is [race] frigate. If you don’t have that you can’t fly that race’s frigate. Everyone starts with the frigate skill of their race, but the other three must be obtained and trained to fly the ships.

The second large grouping is ‘polishing’ skill. It doesn’t so much let you do something as it lets you do the something better – more flexibility, more options, etc. An example here that’s specifically in my objectives is Accounting. I can buy and sell without the skill. Having the skill reduces my tax rate which increases my net profit (or lets me go to tighter trade margins).

So. To start I need trade, and I will need Retail early. Both let me have buy and sell orders on the market. Four per level for trade and eight per level for Retail. (For those who don’t know, levels cap at five, and each level takes significantly longer to train.) I start with level 1 Trade, will train level 2, and will get Retail during the career tutorials which I will also train to 2. 24 trades to start isn’t enough in the long run, but it’s quick.

I want social (which I get at start, I think), but it turns out that for the beginning the various things like connections don’t matter. The better the rating – the friendliness with which you’re held by the race (factor) and/or corporation that owns the base at which you’re trading – the lower your brokerage fees. You get these improved by doing things for the group or its friends. (doing things for their foes lowers the rating.) Social skill gives a bonus to the rating change. Connections and most of the rest of the social skills change the effective rating. However, for trading only the base, not effective, rating matters. (The effective matters for things like getting access to mission agents and for fees related to production, something that’ll probably be delayed by a week or two.)

So, social to 2, and maybe 3. Early, so as I finish the career tutorials the rating improvements I get are higher.

One skill I want that’s sorta both groups is marketing (and not much later procurement). That allows me to create sell (and buy) orders even when I’m not at a station. That in turn saves me a bit of time, but the big payoff comes with what it then allows.

Recall from earlier posts that it’s possible to find yourself in a bidding war. With marketing and procurement at level 2 I can add daytrading. Without it my choices are deal with the bidding or gather things to sell. With it I can change my bids while traveling. At level 2 I can’t do it from a great distance (level 2 is ‘only’ five jumps), but it’s still better than having to dock, deal, and undock.

One last skill in the Trade group is Margin trading. Just as the real world it’s simultaneously very risky and very profitable. Basically, when you put down a buy order you have to put the money in escrow. With margin trading you don’t have to put it all into the escrow. The assumption of the game is that you will have escrows on several things and none will pay out all at once. In the event you do burn through the escrow amount the buy orders end.

(This gives an opportunity for an existing scam. If you’re interested: here. I figure the scam hole is going to get modified if not closed, basically because unlike almost all other scams it’s possible to set it up without cueing the suckers that it might be a scam. If’n I’d been the one closing the hole I’d add a ‘margin call’, pulling from your account’s bank. More likely you’ll see a ‘margin trade’ flag. But that’s a guess.)

Anyway, that’s the big trade deals. I figure to have all but margin trading before the third day is complete and margin trading before the first week is done. Actually the listed training is a bit over 8 hours. But there’s another income production area I want to tag.

Actually, I need to do one “odd” skill before I go to ship time. Cybernetics. This allows plugins. Plugins – think cybernetic expert systems. They are general (attribute) and specific (skills). I get two level 1 plugins for free during the career tutorials. Increasing the attributes decreases training time for skills. The fun thing is that skill level one will allow installation of up to +3 plugs. To get +4 you need level 4 skill. I’ll wait. And I’ll pick up level 1 plugs, level 3 when I can afford them.

Anyway, another area of money making will be reprocessing. That is, taking stuff and breaking it down to components to sell. I’ll only do this if I can’t sell the object for more than the resulting components. Thing is, with the frigate (and later cruiser) I’ll be using there are a lot of things I can’t carry. In that case I may – no, make that Will – be able to break them down for some profit. Sure, getting them to a better market would be more profitable, but some beats none.

Now you can do the reprocess with zero skills. So everything being added for this is to increase the profit: reduce waste, cut fees, cut taxes. I’ve already mentioned standing, and here the modified standing can matter a lot. It’s time to grab two levels of connections. Add Refining to level two to reduce waste. Advanced refining would be good but it’s for further down the road – it needs refining level 5 first. Probably not going to happen during this phase.

Most of what you read – and my limited experience supports this – says production isn’t much good till your skills are at least level 3. That’s industry 3, and a start on both mass production (allowing more than one job) and production efficiency (reducing waste). Unless I find a great thing to produce this is probably happening after ship skills, but it’s only 7 hours for the basic package.

That’s it for the main money skills. It’s just under 16 hours, which means I’m still going to want some long term stuff laid in for over-nighting the schedule.

This is getting long, so I’ll save the ship skills for the next post.

Have fun.

An attempt, and thoughts thereon

•September 11, 2012 • Leave a Comment

So I’ve spent the last week and a half making a trial run at the game. I don’t think I can leverage what I’ve got into the necessary amount in the remaining three days of the fourteen day trial. On the other hand, I got a very long ways toward the goal. Some lessons I learned to this point:

1) I might be able to do it in 14 days. I can definitely do it in 21 days.

2) I need to time my start to get two Sundays, and even better a holiday that’ll see gamers playing.

3) I need to concentrate on the trading. I got tempted to play just a bit with a corp that I thought might help (didn’t), and I tried to make some money cleaning complexes while trade was waiting the next action. The only ‘downtime’ things I should do are missions that improve ratings at my trading station.

4) Speaking of trading station, it’s getting fairly simple. I tried Jita. There was a lot of gain due to opportunity. On the other hand I spent a lot of time dealing with undercutters. One of my problems is that I want a life outside the game. Having to get on every half hour or so to adjust my prices was too much work – and the day I couldn’t put me way behind the curve.

On top of this I figured out I can’t do station trading only. Again I did ok, but it needs a bigger buffer than I had to close the deal — especially at Jita. This means transport. This in turn means I need the largest cargo capacity I can manage. And due to trial restrictions this puts me in one of two ships: the Amarr Augoror and the Gallente Exquror. The latter starts with the largest base cargo, and after development of various skills still has the largest. The Augoror, however, has enough option slots that with basic skills it has a larger effective cargo space. Hitting my other interests, both ships are intended as low level healers – none of which applies to me at this time but worth noting nonetheless.

Bottom line, I’m going into either Amarr or Gallente.

5) I need to pre-load a lot of planning. I need to plan my initial skills progression. I need to plan my ship and gear. And as much as possible I need to research my trade plan.

That last will tell you what you’re going to see in a couple of posts. I just have to do the grunt work.

Frigate Healers

•August 29, 2012 • Leave a Comment

EVE Online is in the midst of a major revamp of skills and ships. I’m not really going to bore you with that background, just note that what you see if you take a trial right now is going to be significantly different next year.

There is, however, one small piece I want to discuss – because it’s near and dear to my typical play in most games. As a low level player I can now still be a healer.

In EO healing ships are called logistics ships. As of this instant you have to have cruisers – specialty cruisers – and to actually get practice in the game you need to have built up a lot of skills. Basically, if you want to play a healer you have to spend three to six months NOT playing a healer, then you start as a newbie in that ability. Picture, oh WoW players, having to be a level 40 fighter before you can change to being a healer. Tank and DSP Druids till level 40 is another example. And when you change, you’re at level 1. Yeah, it’s that unappetizing.

So among all the changes is the introduction of healer, sorry, logistic frigates for every race. You could start playing with them in practical fashion while still on a trial account. Oh, you wouldn’t be great (at first, though with time and experience and skill points I expect them to have small advantages). But you can learn how to do the job as a relative beginner.

Now I won’t be jumping in during my trial period. Again, this attempt’s goal will be seeing if I can earn a PLEX in a 21 day trial, thus having a long-term “free to play” game. But my favorite concept is now sitting ready if/when I accomplish that goal.

Or more accurately it will be ready. These are changes due this winter – six to eight months from now. If I don’t succeed in my trial challenge I still may be purchasing entry to the game at that time – they finally hit my niche.