Friday, November 30, 2012

House Keeping

Part of going on vacation is setting up the house. The windows need to be opened and the house aired out. Dust covers need to be taken off of the furniture and then the cabinets and fridge stocked with food and drinks. It's a miniature move in. You unpack all of your bags into the closets and dressers, buy cleaning supplies and laundry detergent and set up a second home.

At our vacation station, I was staring at my items hanger in horror. Ender had jumped all of my stuff down for me. My ships were safely tucked into my hangers and various assets dropped in as well.

It was a complete mess.

I have used containers for so long that I had forgotten how messy a hanger is without them. Station containers, for those who have never used them, are containers that are to large to put into any ship. They are made for station organization. Due to their logs and ability to be locked down they are more for shared corporation hangers. This does not mean that one does not take them into the services they are suited for.

I discovered containers very early in the game. I was mining and I needed giant secure containers to hold my heaping mounds of ore that were making me rich. I was so excited to dive into my first .07 system so that I could anchor a can in a belt. Mmm. How I love those sweet early memories.

I also wound up using them to neaten my hanger. Later I found station containers and later after that things like station warehouses. Some of the access issues seem to have been cleaned up. The three week delay to deleting them is a bit irritating but I'm a home body who enjoys a neat place to live. I have a low sec home and a high sec home. I normally have a can at the major trade hubs that I buy and sell out of to hold the tons and tons of salvage.

Dear CCP, May we have some personal hanger tabs to keep our things organized?

So far CCP has said, “No.”

So many of us make do with containers for personal organization. This is also one reason why the inventory changes with Inferno broke so many souls. The concept of individual ‘boxes’ is deeply ingrained and it is how we organized. For a while CCP took away our ability to easily have and sort these boxes. Then they gave it back. It was a rough summer.

I also like to combine my ship and items tabs into my station service menu. With my containers it creates a nice neat screen. It's an option on the escape menu under general settings. I found it my first day and used it. I have met many people who did not even know such a thing was real. Because I use it, I didn't lose track of my main hanger window when the inventory changes happened during the spring.

Of course, now and then, when doing mass repackaging of items I repackage a container and it spews everything out all over the hanger.

The weirdest thing is that while writing this post and looking at my assets window (which is very neat and compact) I noticed that Sugar had an item in Dodixie (the Gallente trade hub). Sugar has never been to Dodixie. She is Minmatar, went to Derelik and then to Molden Heath. Then she got locked out of high sec and that was that. Yet, when I selected the station and looked I found out that I have a Retriever in Dodixie. Sugar can't fly mining barges. I have no idea where this ship came from or why I have it.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

All Done for Now

[Early Morning Edit: Fixed Where the story was not linking properly.]

My month of writing has come to and end. I'll start undocking my ship a bit more now.

When I saw the add for the Pod and Planet Fiction contest I was a bit obsessed with it. I'd wanted to try Eve fan fiction for a bit but I had no idea how it would be received. An official competition took the edge off of the 'fan fiction?' reaction.

I had to ask myself why was I doing this? I'm well known not to be competitive by nature. I'm more about the trip to get where I am going. I find that the obsessions over winning and losing mar the actual experience for me. But that is the type of person that I am and it is the type of story that I write.

I write about the people. They interest me more then anything else. I suck at mysteries because I don't care about the 'gasp, shock' ending. I want to consume all that is in between and beg for more.

My stories started out as reflections of what I saw around me. I aimed to take the game that I played on my monitor and convert it into a richly textured real world. I wasn't in it for the game lore. I wanted to read about the game of Eve that I played. And that was what I tried to write.

Story ideas are just a reflection of things that have caught my attention. I had several ideas written out. Some died by the wayside and some bloomed into little miniature snapshots of 'a day in the life' of a pod pilot.

I wanted to give the graphics the love that they deserved. I hope that I accomplished that. Eve is so stunning. It needs to be stunning in words as well. Part of the consumption is the graphics. As someone who has hers cranked all the way up and obsessively takes screen shots the graphics were very important to me.

The first four stories were easy enough. The fifth one really made me stick. The sixth was a bit of fun. A little bit of difference. I love first person stories. I wanted to see how flexible I could be and stay true to what I was doing.

So my last entry is named "Jita". I feel that I've explored a lot of the game as I wrote. Not every corner or every spot. But I wanted to reach out and touch the differences instead of writing the same thing a bit differently each time. I think I accomplished that some and mixed it with plenty of exploding space ships.

I like this character a lot. But then I am well known to like amusing assholes and I find him to be one. I focused him through some theme music that defined his personality for me.

I haven't been posting terrible pop music to compare to Eve online of lately and I miss it. Anyway, Natalie Imbruglia - Impressed (lyrics here) defined the charater for me. I finished and decided that I was done. Trying to cram in one more story before the deadline in 3 days would be silly. I'm not a creature of procrastination.

So I wrote six blocks of words for the contest. I never got to doing any of the lore but that was a vague secondary thing. I'm just glad that I got to participate and I hope that those who have read my stories have enjoyed them. The placing or winning part was never why I entered.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Jita

Jita. It's the center of the empire. Everything comes through here at some point but not everything leaves.
They call me Bizz. It fits well enough. Its easier to be named then to name yourself. Everyone knows it and remembers it.

What business? The ones that makes all the ISK. Minerals, ships, dancers I don't care. Whatever makes me the money is worth the money. Like my looks. I'm ridiculously good looking. Women throw themselves on me. Men to. I have to scrape them off. It's like a dance. Scraping them against the tables as I walk by. Shedding the useless weight while looking for what's worth it. Because that's what I do. I find what's worth it to find and then I sell it again.

When I entered this game I was all bright eyed and eager. I was soft. Immortality? Looks? It was worth it. But the real call was the money. I could hear the kredits sing when they rubbed together as a deal came through. I started at the Science and Trade Institute. I've fought my pirate gangs and supported the Caldari State. Now, Jita 4-4 is my home. I have no reason to leave and every reason to stay.

The first time I came to Jita was the last. I've never left. My corporation? I left them behind. The bar I was at overlooked 4-4's dock. Freighters stream off into the distance. The tugs can never keep up. Somewhere out there a flash of blue caused the view screens to darken for a moment. It wasn't safe out there. Between the corporation wars and the pirates the space around the station was a death trap. But the bait was so sweet that the possibilities were worth the risk.

Everything moved through Jita in the end. And I'd be here to make ISK off of it.

This contact was Amarr. He settled down at the table and didn't say anything. Is it an Amarr thing that they look like they smelt so many bad things all at once? Considering that someone that takes the pod life can look like anything they want, why they choose to look like they smelt something bad is beyond me. Maybe that's why they were so obsessed with hoods. If I looked like that I'd wear one as well. Instead, as I said, I chose to be devilishly handsome.

His hood pointed in my general direction. I wasn't going to start the conversation. He was the one that had asked for the meeting. Instead, I pulled out some rolled sweetleaf and lit up. My quafe arrived, spiced with a bit of synthetic mindflood. It did absolutely nothing for me in station but I'd acquired a taste for it.

I love sweetleaf. My first contact with it had been a shoddy contact decision on my part. I thought I could flip some random commodities for an exotics buyer. Turns out I got grabbed by some unfillable requests. The price of youth and all. I had wound up with a few tons of sweetleaf I couldn't flip. So I tried it out. Best decision I've made in a while. Sometimes things work out but you can't assume that it well. Those golden children? The ones that think that everything they do will succeed? They are the ones that you see heading out to new opportunities or screaming to the officials about new trade sanctions needed for idiots that don't read before they buy.

The Amarr pulled back his hood and glared at my smoke. He even had a head plate. I know fashion didn't matter to those that spent all of their time in their pods but this guy said he was a trader. Maybe he was. I'd never seen him before but that didn't mean much. The station is a big place with millions of residents. Even an immortal doesn't know all of them. Most aren't even worth knowing.

His glare didn't extinguish the sweetleaf. I took a few deep drags and ignored him to watch the light show on the undock. When I didn't say anything he finally pried his lips apart and asked, "You are Bizz?"

It was a dumb question. The type of dumb question that I expect but always wind up disappointed to hear. He had sent the request. He had named the time and place. Sure, I could be someone else but that would be irrelevant at this point. It was just so unoriginal. "Yes."

"I've been watching your sell orders."

"Uh huh."

"I don't get you. You are undercutting huge percentages."

"Yeah. I have stock to move."

"It's stupid. If you drop it by .01 ISK it keeps the margins up for everyone and it still sells. You are giving away ISK."

"Am I?"

"Yes."

"How?"

"They will pay. The isogen market is already insane right now. Miners have no idea how to make money. They dump to buy orders and bring it here where it is vanishing faster than anyone can see. People keep low balling and I just snatch them up and flip them. My entire stock cleared out the other day and I repurchased and sold again above what I had. I made two billion on six transitions. You are wasting money under cutting." He had a deep voice. It rumbled a bit and his hand gripped the table as he stared at me. I wished that he'd blink. His eyes looked dry.

I leaned back and blew smoke. “I'll explain something for you. While you are wallowing around in your .01 ISK wars fighting to drag yourself through the pits of the market I will walk in and slit your margins throat leaving you bleeding out with over cost merchandise while I off load mine, pocket another hundred billion and walk away as you starve in the streets. If you want to play trade games play trade games but if you think I’m going to quiver in fear over your three percent margin that you .01 ISK away you've never met real money. Well real money says ‘Hello’.”

I guess no one had ever talked back to him. I'm sure that he was known to be super rich. People had a terrible habit of kissing up to those that had money. As if the money is going to just rub off on them. It doesn't. "I try to be friendly and you insult me?"

"Friendly is not telling someone what to do with their own orders. You are trying to get everyone to play your little special game. I'm not playing. You are so obsessed with .01 ISK that you haven't even noticed that I've owned the market for months. You have been doing nothing but buying from me and selling back to me. Giving me your ISK as well as my own back. There are twenty traders on the market right now for Isogen and sixteen of them are me. The other four are buying from me or selling to me."

He paled. I finished my smoke and cleared my mouth with a drink. I did love the burn of mindflood. It's not meant to be consumed in a glass. Did I care? No. What was the worst that could happen? I hop into a new clone body when this one's digestive tract gave out? Across the table my drink date was still trying to process everything I had told him. I sighed and helped him out. "I don't play your little .01 ISK battles. I don't have to. You may make millions. Not bad. Good job. I make tens of billions. You don't interest me."
I left without paying the bill. He could consider it payment for the time he had wasted.

***

I am a creature of habit. I have my hangouts. Some people think that you want quiet spots to do business. Privacy screens, closed doors, all that stuff you read about makes no sense. Its only easier to find out what you are doing. Plus you look suspicious.

Sitting out in the open admiring the view in the heart of noise is a better screen than anything else can be. Plus, I like it. Peace and quiet is for the dead. Still, when an earnest kid dropped into the chair across from me and leaned forward to tell me that his name was, "Lorand Seimus Issal," I had to admit I hadn't expected the encounter. "I hear that you own most of the Quafe Zero around here."

He was direct. He was either an idiot or skilled. From the flush of his cheeks and the way he twitched at every sound I was going to go with idiot. "I have some." I had a lot if I was honest. I had cornered that market a long time ago and then left it to sit right about the time that the idiots blew up the only lab that had the facilities to make the stuff.

"I need to buy."

"I didn't mention having any for sale." I could sell the quafe zero. Everyone wanted it. However, I had found that it worked better as a lubricant. It was amazing what the gift of one can of the stuff could do to someones wallet and better business sense.

"I need to buy."

I looked at him then. Really looked at him and I know I didn't look friendly. "Pushy people get hurt."
He leaned forward and stared at me with bright eyes. "Going to come kill me?" I reassessed him to being a bit insane.

“I don’t kill people. The people I hire to kill people kill people. I’m non violent.” I squinted at him through my smoke. He was such an earnest one. All righteous anger and pouty lips. He hadn't liked my answer. That was not my problem. Angry Gallente were so adorable. Like confused, kicked puppies.

"My alliance, Organic Understanding supports the Gallente Federation." Oh. A patriot. He was definitely insane. I blocked the kid out. His sob story was one that I had heard before. It almost always came with begging. Financing. Cheap prices. Investment opportunities. Whatever. I had more interesting things on my plate.

There is a special list of names that I keep close to my heart. Contracts are public. I keep track of what is selling and who is buying it. A sample here and there pays for itself in the intel about who is hip deep in what market. Sometimes when someone is around you can offer them a deal. Convince was worth savings more often than not. And sometimes they had what I wanted.

Like now.

I hadn't seen Casiase's name pop up in a long time. I almost thought he was dead. His orders had flat lined. His transactions had stopped. I had pegged all of his alt corporations years ago. Only one stayed active. That one purchased three things. Ammunition. Spaceships. Minerals. It sold one thing. Moon Products. Those four simple things told me everything I needed to know about Casiase. He had, for some reason, moved out to sovereign null security space.

In the background the kid was winding down on his passionate speech. My body was on auto pilot. I smoked and I nodded. It was enough for him. He kept passionately talking. He wanted me to do something for his cause. Something that didn't involve making me money. Therefore, whatever it was that I was ignoring was not of interest.

I heard him say, "Everyone needs friends." He was so earnest. I wanted to pet him. But he was in my way and I had business to take care of. "People to keep you safe. Station trader or not. You anger people they will destroy you."

“No. Not a thing will happen to me. This is my station. You? You're just a transient. Enjoy losing your spaceship. I’ll have another one to sell you after you've dried your eyes.”

“If I’m transient what does that make you?”

“Me? I’m a trader. Your loss is my gain. Your gain is my gain. It's called Return on Investment. You are ISK to me.”

That made him angry. His eyes lit up and his nostrils flared. He bit his lower lip. Actually bit it before he took a deep breath. "I don't let my emotions get in my way. I'll buy the quafe anyway. I wanted to know if you were reasonable. You are not."

I built the contract. He was angry and tried not to show it. His eyes shone wet with tears he didn't want to let fall. Good thing for him that tears are not a tradable commodity. I'd have harvested a pretty penny from him. Instead, I sent him the contract. "I'll sell you your quafe."

His eyes widened. He accepted it fast. I wonder if he thought I'd cancel it before he could accept. A cruel joke. "Thanks." He walked off at that point. Too bad tears are not harvestable. It was only ten steps before he froze and turned back towards me. He'd probably have attacked if he could have. If there was anything that he could have done. Anyway that he could admit he wasn't ready for the level of game he was trying to play.

It really is hard sometimes. Reading. For some people at least. The contract gleamed bright green. Accepted. I hoped the kid enjoyed his quafe. It was what he had asked for after all. No one sold quafe zero at those prices. Not even for glorious cleansing of Caldari and pirate infested space. Maybe he would learn that predators were everywhere. Not just in space. I saluted him and walked off. I had more things to do. The market didn't sleep and I didn't see why I should either.

***

It took me two days to hunt down Casiase. I retreated to my quarters and my world became about account activity. He was moving through several accounts that he had reactivated. I spent billions doing sample purchases until I figured out what he was looking for. There was a randomness to the nature and at times the ties back were tenuous. But when I stepped back out of my quarters I was pleased.

Casiase was losing a war. He was broke. He was selling all of his assets. He was desperate.

It took two hundred and twenty six buy and sell orders to make his life a complete disaster. As I walked I emptied the market of everything he needed. And then I hoarded it all. In minutes the market spiked. Prices shot up. I thinned stock on the high turnover items and I held the rest. The news feeds started to explode as speculation went rampant. It was messy and it was far from delicate but I didn't care. I had a deal to make.
I'd never met Casiase. We'd traded in the same station for years but with no need to meet each other. I was surprised at how young he looked. Technically at least. In truth he looked like hell and twice as worn out. He also looked surprised. I guess I was the last delivery they expected at their corporate offices.

I never knew why people kept offices in Jita. It was expensive. Private trade contracts were fast and saved money. My corporations traded between themselves in heart beats. I guess for such a big group it had a point. Their corporation offices stretched on and on. Racks of unassembled ships and gear filled floor to ceiling. It was a hive of activity. Activity that meant opportunity.

Casiase's office was easy to find. It was at the center of everything. I settled down into a chair across from him and watched the action. Busy, busy, busy. "What do you want?" he finally asked me. "I want your Chimera." I could be blunt to when I wanted.

"You want what?" He looked up at me then and frowned.

"Your. Chimera." I said it slowly for him. In case he was stupid because he was tired and not because he was being stupid.

"What the hell is this, Bizz?"

It was kind of exciting that he knew me. I didn't want to admit it but Casiase had been something of an idol to me when he first started. Then he got obsessed with wasting all of his money in null sec so that people could stress him out all day long. I didn't get him at all. But he had what I wanted and he hadn't even thought about selling it until sixty seconds ago. "You need money. I am made out of money. I want your ship."

"You want my ship?" This time I could tell that he was rolling it around in his head. He didn't sound against it.  No pitch change. No shocked automatic refusal. I wondered if he even remembered he had it. Drowning in carriers out there and all one lonely one parked in Jita gathering dust could lose meaning to a guy like
Casiase.

"Yes." I then named a number that made his flunkies gasp a little bit. I didn't want them to know that I had spent more than that just to create this situation.

He thought about it. "It's not worth that," he finally said. I could see the gears flip on in his head. His trader side had resurfaced. He wanted to know what my game was. That was the best part. I had laid my game out and it was so clear that he couldn't see it. I had him trapped. All those people around him had heard my offer. If he turned me down he was turning hope down for all of them. I had removed the decision from him and handed it to the people that relied on him. It was beautiful.

"It's worth it in station." We both knew it. Carriers were no longer allowed in high security space. Even undocking them could be a disaster. I wanted it for nothing more than the fact that I wanted it. He had all the carriers flying around that he could handle down in null sec. I could only hope that that fact had dulled him to the rarity of the situation.

His jaw tensed. His little group hovered around me. I tilted back in my chair. The intimidation was adorable. It wasn't going to help them a bit. I had what they needed. He had what I wanted. It was as fair a trade as I'd ever made. "I don't trust you."

I loved when they didn't say no. "I don't blame you. I'd not trust me either. Sadly, I have to live with me so I'm kind of neutral about it. How about we do a little trust test?"

"Oh? Like?"

"I've currently tied up the market in tritanium, Abaddon's, Armageddons, Scimitars, Guardians, Blockade Units, and jump fuel to name a few. I own the market right now and I stand to make about six trillion before people realize I've dumped all the stocks that were there back there." His jaw tightened. He knew that I knew what he needed. Good. "Then you write a contract and get what you need to do what you need to do."

"Why?"

"I want it."

"You are wasting all that money on a useless ship. You could buy a dozen of them."

"None of them would be here. If I want one here I play the game."

His eyes bored into me. I dropped my chair back down and stared back. "You wouldn't."

Contract sent. I read the contract six times before I accepted. Green contract. "Thanks." I stood. "Good luck and all."

"Thanks."

I left him there spending my money. My path was straighter than normal. I had a certain hanger that I needed to visit.

Sunrise Sunset found me later that day. She and I get along. I was hanging over the edge of the cat walk smoking. She took a drag and joined me to admire the view. "I don't want to know how you got this."

"Would you believe me if I said it was a fair deal?"

"No."

I shrugged. It was Jita 4-4. It was the heart of the galaxy. I sucked down the smoke of the sweetleaf.
 Nothing was really fair here. That was okay by me.

Orca Achievement Unlocked

[Warning: To all of those that get hives and spontaneous bleeding from the eyes when reading about industry and mining avoid this post.]

A month or two ago I decided that I was going to build myself an Orca.

I was counseled against it. The general theme was that the time and materials would not be worth my time and if I just purchased one I'd save ISK. My response was that none of that would be me making my own Orca and all the pleasure and success and fun with building spaceships that comes along with doing it on my own.

The argument back was that I was wasting ISK. If I mined the minerals and sold them to buy the Orca I would be in a better position then if I just built the Orca. It would also take less time. The minerals that I mine and the time that it takes me to mine them are not 'free'.

I understand that. I really do. I don't care. It isn't how I play my game. My idle AFK mining in a 4th account window doesn't feel like burned time to me. That particular account can only mine, build things and play the market. I hate the market. I need minerals to build. So she mines the hours that I am logged in away acquiring a massive stockpile of Ore.

And its what I wanted to do. I wanted to build this not buy it. But this isn't about all the people that told me not to do what I want that I ignored. It is more about the process that I had to go to to build the actual ship.

It wasn't a cut and dry process. Industry in Eve is very much a thing. It is in depth, complex, and filled with many many parts.

When someone starts Eve, one of the tutorial chains has them build a few basic modules with blue prints provided by the training mission. You build some ammo, an after burner, you get a blue print copy to make a cheap and easy frigate and your base skills let you build one thing at a time. Mixed with the mining that is part of several of the tutorial missions building things seems like a simple and easy way to acquire things.

Oh, how innocent and simple the mission makes these things to be.

This is how Sugar built her own Orca against everyone's advice. Also, please note that this is a dedicated industry alt doing all of these tasks. During this time Sugar was learning Command Ship V and Gallente Cruiser V. And I am not an industry expert. Thankfully I am well versed at writing about my random efforts.

First: Skills

An Orca is a capital ship. Capital ships are not made out of minerals. Capital ships are made out of capital ship components. Those components are made out of minerals.

With a very basic blue print you get a blue print and it tells you that it wants X amount of various minerals. You gather these minerals together in your hanger with the blueprint. You are at a station that has industrial slots. You then make the blueprint and in a certain amount of time it will spit out a spaceship for you.

If you are going to be like me in this you are going to ignore every bit of sensible advice people give you and start mostly from the ground up. I'm not a purist

This is effected by the level of your personal skills. Several skills decrease the amount of minerals that you need to build something. One of the things that I did was to learn Production Efficiency to V. The description for Production Efficiency is "Skill at efficiently using factories. 5% reduction per skill level to the material requirements needed for production." This means that learning this skill creates a 25% decrease to the amount of materials required for each build. That is a shit ton and well worth the train.

Because I mine my own materials I needed to spend time learning Refining to V and Refinery Efficiency to V. Refining gives 2% reduction to the refinery waste per level. Refinery Efficiency gives a 4% reduction per level. This means more minerals per piece of Ore. Rather valuable skills.

But they are not all! Each Ore also has its own Processing skill that reduces the waste for processing that ore at 5% each level. I already had the various ore skills trained because they are a prerequesit to T2 (tech 2) mining crystals. Mining Crystals are loaded into strip miners and used to increase the amount of ore the strip miners pull in each cycle.

But, there is more! Capital ship parts require the skill capital ship construction to build. I had already learned Mechanics V (because my barges are tanked and I was not giving away a single bit of the 5% structure hit points per level that Mechanics gives).

I needed Industry Level V and Production Efficiency level V to learn Capital Ship Construction. That skill happens to cost 67.5 million on the market from NPC seeded skill book sales. Fortunately, both skills were already on my to do list. Industry V I finished a long time ago and Production Efficiency V was valuable for reasons already discussed.

Capital Ship Construction is what I call an unlocking skill. The level of the skill does not do anything towards improving your construction of capital ships. The levels give you access to bigger and bigger capital ships to build. The Orca only needs level 1.

Then: Ore, Minerals and Blue Prints

An Orca is a T1 (tech 1) ship. This means that components are made directly from minerals refined from ore. Most of the minerals are available in high security space minus Megacyte and Zydrine.

This has been my favorite ore to mineral chart since I started. It tells me that I am going to mine Plag forever to get the Nocxium that I need.

My Megacyte needs were all solved by Vov's Tornado Army. It is refined from an asteroid in null sec. It was a component I would have had to buy off the market. However, due to the guy running around with 100k of it in his cargo hold, I now have plenty. :)

My second hard to resources mineral was Zydrine. If I was a badass I'd stealth mine this stuff in low sec or null sec. However, I'm not. Instead, I follow the path of industry through piracy. Back ally deals for loot drops from ganked haulers filled my Zydrine needs nicely. No one will have to worry that those precious minerals went to waste or just lined some traders pockets. They are busy lining mine.

The system I mine in has Veldspar, Scordite, Omber and Plagioclase. This covers the bulk of my mineral needs except for Nocxium. Nocxium comes from Pyroxeres and Pyroxeres is most abundant in the back end of Empire High Security. Fortunately, I used to live there and knew exactly where to go. I set up shop two jumps out of the system I called home my first 2 months of the game. I got Ender to let me use the Roraqual for some jump clones and set myself up jump clones at my three major hubs. I then purchased and fit out a retriever and set up a little secondary base to mine Pyroxeres and only Pyroxeres for the Nocxium. Once I had enough I refined it all and shipped it up to my primary base via Red Frog Freight.

At my main station I mined afw as skills trained. I made book marks at all of the belts so that I can warp directly in and land on the ore and mine. When full I dump my cargo hold. In my other windows I play my other accounts and do things like write the blog and work on my contest entries. My drones are out and I kill the NPCs that shoot at me. I also collect the loot that drops and reprocess it for even more minerals. Sadly, the other day a Rifter came and stole my loot. I was deeply traumatized by the loss of scrap metal and low meta small modules to reprocess. I've even had another hauler spawn. This one I was able to chase down in my Mackinaw and scoop up the tritanium that dropped.

I was asked: Am I worried about James315 and his New Order over at Minerbumping.com? No. If they invade the systems I live in I will write up a few courier contracts and move.

And the ore fills my ore container bit by bit. I refine it now and then.

I was also given a gift of Nocxium by my ship building friend. He sat me down and we had a long conversation about the fact that I wanted to build my own things and not just buy from him forever. He was a bit sorrowful, scolded me for not buying my blue prints from him, and then gave me a ton of Nocxium. Also he often comes and mines with me and will give me Orca boosts during that time.

Now Making it All:

Building things in Eve require blue prints. Unlike games where you take ingredients and mix correct amounts to eat something Eve's science fiction aspect gives us technical things to make our game play work so we are all fancy and have blue prints.

Blue Prints start on the market as Blue Print Originals. There are basic tech one modules and ships and goodies seeded by NPCs. They cost various amounts. An Orca Blue Print Originals costs roughly a billion on the Jita market. Less I'm sure if you go to Ore space and buy them directly dealing with getting them back to Empire. Once this lovely thing is acquired it needs to be researched so that it does not cost so damn much to make it.

People make copies and sell the copies. Since the Orca is a capital ship it requires many pieces to make. Some kind copy folk make kits for capital ships. A kit can be purchased on contracts. They contain the needed blue prints to complete the ship. This is the route I went with my Orca. My kit cost around 190 million.

(this is my Charon kit as an example) Now I had a stack of well researched capital ship parts to make and then the Orca blue print itself to glue them all together into my ship. Kits are fast and convenient and yet another hallmark of way in which Eve Players can make their own income. I purchased my kits in Jita with my Jita alt. I then contracted them to Chella to run around in her Viator and drag them to my mining system.

At this point I needed to access more manufacturing slots. The basic task of just creating your character gives you the ability to have one manufacturing slot. Builders need more then that. The skill Mass Production gives you 1 manufacturing job per level. So at level 5 you can have 6. The skill Advanced Mass Production can be learned after Mass Production V is learned. This skill also gives 1 additional production slot per level. This means a single character can get up to 11 manufacturing jobs at a time. When building a lot of things this is very important.

Now, if I was good at this I'd have it set up that when one job stopped another started. However, I'm not good at it. Each of my capital ship blue prints had 5 runs. To make all 5 runs took me 14 hours at the levels that I had my skills at. With my work schedule I am only able to run one set of jobs per day. I didn't have Advanced Mass Production to V so I could only run six to seven jobs at a time. Not a big deal for me but a bigger deal for someone using this as their money maker.

Over the course of several days I fed job after job to the build. I forgot to look at what my Orca needed and wound up making more modules then I actually needed. Whoops. Fortunately they are all pertinent for my Charon which I will be building as my next major project.

I'm not max skilled and maxed anything but I'm very happy with the project and pleased with the results. Its kept me entertained for weeks.

The best part:

My alt spent so much time learning and gathering things to build the Orca that she can not yet fly it. Mining Foreman will finish two days after the Orca is finished.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

On Waiting: My Battle with Battleships

Today I quote Diz some. We were talking about skill training the other night. I'm now almost done with Gallente Cruiser V. I've been waiting to undock my Cynabal until it was learned after long discussions on skills for the ship before undocking the ship. I've had some conversations from people who do not feel that the wait was needed for Gallente Cruiser V.

Waiting isn't the easiest thing to do. It often seems counter intuitive in a video game. Yet, when discussing Eve with a new player one must often counsel them to patience. What Diz said was that I was taught to wait to skill fully into a ship. That I embraced that teaching and learned the reward of being maxed skilled into things. It may have made me a bit of a skill snob. I'm not sure. I don't think that every skill must be trained to level five. But sometimes they should be.

It was a very true discussion. From that view point of reward in waiting I give my advice and opinion on ships and fitting. Also, because of that embracement (and a some stubbornness) I don't yet fly battleships. I don't feel that I am ready to fly battleships. One is because I am not yet skilled into them. In this, skilled means T2 guns because I am fully T2 equipped in my tank and support modules. And ready itmeans to take into battle. Part of my life in low sec is knowing that all of my ships must be ready to fight or flee at any moment. My Noctis is meant to flee but any battleship that I settle my pod into in low sec better be the effective killing machine that it is meant to be.

Many people wind up in Battleships pretty early on in the game. It is a natural progression with mission running which is a primary source of income for many new characters.

I went that route as well. With Chella, not Sugar. I had a Dominix by the end of my first month and I was excited. I was so excited. I was going to make ISK and run level 4 missions. This amazing ship would help me because I sucked in my Myrmadon. But the Myrm was only a battlecruiser and the Domi was a battleship. It would be better. It would be a thousand times better. I'd be able to tank damage and deal DPS and my T2 drones would devastate the hoards of NPC pirates that stood between me and my ISK filled future.

I was so proud. However, the first time I took it out I realized that I wasn't ready for it. I couldn't finish a mission and my fit was terrible. I had drone mods and small guns to kill frigates and cruisers. I had no gun skills to speak of so my damage was minimal and pathetic. I had been told to do things and fit things but I had not had skills explained to me and the importance of support skills emphasized.

It was terrible. I sold it a few weeks later after flying it twice, talking to some different people, finding out that my fit was so terrible that it was painful, and deciding to stick to doing what I was enjoying doing and not rush into doing things because everyone else can. It was a very big eye opener for me about the difference between sitting in a ship and flying a ship.

Not everyone has a negative experience with their first battleship. While battleships are skillpoint intensive they are also very forgiving because they are so powerful. The forgiving nature of the ship filling in some of the lack of the player causes the player to feel that they are better fit for the ship then they are. It is situational. A poorly skilled battleship may struggle through a mission faster then a battlecruiser

It gives a sense of accomplishment. I spent a lot of the start of this year bemoaning what felt like my utter lack of ability due to my skill plan. I was still being productive and making ISK but I was not doing it on the common path of missions running levels 1 to 2 to 3 to 4 flying frigs to cruisers to battlecruisers to battleships.

At the start, when Eve is a constant battle of hurdles and the player still has a taste for immediate rewards this is understandable. It takes a while for the difference in support skills and secondary skills to be felt. What the person is doing in game matters. Someone who is running missions and someone who is PvPing regularly will have two different experience and thought process because of the differences in game play.

And ready is one of the key phrases here. While the motto may be, "Don't fly what you can't afford to lose," I think it should also cover "Don't fly what you can't fit properly" and "Don't fly what you can't fly properly."

But those are hard choices to make. They can be game breaking choices as well. Because of it, I have a filter for high sec mission running battleships. I try to find that balance between 'good idea' and 'fun game play'. Not everyone moves or wants to move to low sec or null with a corp to nurture and teach them and give them the support that they need. Because we want players to play and feel successful enough to stick with the game concessions need to be made somewhere. It is such a touchy point in Eve. Where does 'proper' and 'fun' meet at a crossroad? Many people will find more satisfaction in getting the ship that they want right now over waiting what may be several months to get into the ship later but better.

It is when they bring those ships out of high sec or when they do not understand game mechanics and lose them or when they bling them out that they lose them. It is easy for me to say "Don't do it!" It is a lot harder to give people a reason to do so before they meet the reason itself.

This is why I think that people should not push anyone into battleships before they are ready. Eve supports social interactions where players can focus on their properly skilled ship and contribute. In Player vs Environmental and in Player vs Player. My personal feeling is that it is a detriment to encourage someone to fly a ship that they are currently poorly suited for in an effort to mold them into a stop gap. Eve has so many options and niches that instead of sending everyone down the path of Missions for Isk expanding their options. Although I could not do missions I had more ISK and more assets then many of my age peers doing missions because Eve is full of lucrative opportunies.

It is very easy to forget that an effective mission battleship is well skilled ship that can blitz missions. A well skilled battleship is an amazing thing. The T2 vs T1 fit discussion rolls around to the fact that the support skills that it takes to get into a T2 fit ship.

And that opens its own war. The fight over Tech 2 guns vs Meta 4 guns vs Faction Guns. That Meta 4 guns are okay or Faction guns do as much damage as T2 guns. I will point out that each person makes their own choice. If guns are going to be used then high meta is better. Eve is a game about multipliers. It is not just the module being at the level of T2 it is the skills that it takes to fit the T2 weapon, to paraphrase Ender. Those skills are what force multiply the module into its predestined level of badassery.

Battleships are very romantic. They are big. They are powerful. They are battleships. Most of them look amazing. The Mega may show the fact that a rifter broke into the lab and spread its seed all over the design plans (my opinion) but its still awesome looking. The urge to fly a battleship hits very early. Eve doesn't punish the player for ignoring, avoiding or just not being interested in liner power progression. Battleships worst enemies are frigates.

Part of a PvP discussion I had with someone today pointed out the fact that solo PvP is a challenge because Eve's ship progression is not linear. It is not a matter of skilling into the biggest spaceship to kill everyone and only worrying about those who may have a bigger spaceship then you have. While some may be obsessed with the biggest spaceship the entire game is engineered around the fact that all of the ships matter and a fleet is a balanced organism.

And then there is my stubbornness. I have a terrible habit of getting angry and digging my heels in when people try to push me into situations I am uncomfortable in. Then, once fully entrenched I can become unreasonable and just start saying "No" because I turn into a two year old. Such has become a personal struggle with battleships. I now have to get over my own stubbornness and wander back into the reasonable land of ready vs not ready.

But it will be a while yet. If anything lures me into giving in and shipping up it will be some of the fleets that have been put together that I can not join. Nor the normal corp roam fleets but the more specialized fleets where there is a fleet doctrine and an actual purpose to the fleets activities beyond the enjoyment of pewpew.

I was also posed with a question about the value learning Battleship V. Chella learned in preparation for her carrier only to find out that CCP will be reducing the requirement down to Battleship IV. I am still sulking over that and whining that I have no use for Battleship V. I was asked:


"What about Marauders?"
"What about them?" was my response.
"Don't you want to fly them?"
"No. Why would I? I don't want to fly battleships."

But I was given deep, sage wisdom a bit later while bitching about it.

"You should fly them so that you can steal them from wormhole corps." That... well that is an incredibly valid reason.

Monday, November 26, 2012

I say its Ganking

I wound up in a mild disagreement upon language use when it came to labeling an action a "gank".

The person I was speaking with was sitting on a gate in a thrasher grabbing pods and shuttles for war targets and outlaws. I did not disapprove of the activity. I did say that he was ganking them with amusement.

"I'm not ganking them!"
"You are in an instalock Thrasher on a gate killing pods and shuttles," I pointed out. "They can't fight back."
"But they are flashy red."
"That doesn't mean it's not a gank. I think we define what a gank is differently."

And it turns out we did. He sees the war targets and outlaws to be non-innocents so except from being ganked. I see anyone in a situation where they are over powered and rendered helpless a ganked target. I told him that I did not think that he was doing anything wrong. He is not a pirate and he operates under a different moral compass then I do. I'm pretty sure my words of reassurance did nothing but I did try.

I decided to go look it up.

I'll use the very well renowened Urban Dictionary to define Gank:

Ganking

It is a word commonly used in online video games, usually used in an MMORPG. Ganking is the process in which a group of characters gang up on one or more players that do not have a chance to defend themselves, Or when one high level player does the same action to a player way below his or her own level

This is a Procurer being ganked. He and his friend were in a belt in low sec. They aligned and tried to warp off. However he got caught on an asteroid. I also bounced off of a few of the larger asteroids when I was visually quite far away from them.

We got together a little fleet. Stabber Fleet Issue x3, Vigilant and a Sacrilege. On our way out the scout found two Procurer's mining. We sent Razor into the belt where he tackled the unfortunate barge. There was a hope that the other people in system would come assist. They did not. We gave them a few moments. Razor ungrouped his guns so that he wouldn't kill it to fast. The fleet jumped in and we popped it. If I have to say there is one benefit for the new mining barge changes it is that barges are back in low sec as a thing. I picked up a strip miner 1.

We continued on our way. The scout found a Proteus and a Brutix running around. We tried to figure out where they were going and split our fleet across the gates. Then they vanished. Then we found them again sitting on a gate to high sec.

We sent Fried in there to shake his flashy red ass. They ignored him. He aligned back towards the gate we were at. They ignored him. He started to bump them off the gate. They ignored that. He targeted them. They targeted back. The decision was made to kill the Brutix. He'd have the lesser tank between him and the Proteus. Our one non-flashy member jumped the gate and reapproched from the other side to back up Fried in his Stabber Fleet Issue once he started to shoot.

Fried started to shoot them. With a little bit of a delay they started to shoot back. We gave it a count of ten. His primary back up jumped in and then the fleet jumped in. Fried had to deaggress and start burning away. He was in 40% armor. He then warped off and the fleet landed, reacquired tackle and started to kill the Brutix.

The Brutix was rep fit and managed some reps in structure. He soaked up a nice bit of damage. He still died. I had tossed my web and scram on the Proteus just in case he decided to warp off. With the Brutix gone and the Proteus still there we went for bumps. Diz landed a beautiful bump and knocked him a clean 7k off the gate.

Webbed to hell (a state I am very familiar with quite recently) he didn't have many options. Then he just started to melt. Diz told us to hold our fire so that Fried could come back and help finish what he started.

Fried landed. I have no idea if this Proteus was shooting anyone. He was in structure and he exploded. It was way to easy and per the damage report on the kill mail he only tanked around 18.5k of damage. Very sad for a ship that can tank like a Proteus can tank.

The death of the Brutix and Proteus is also a gank situation. Our fleet was not something that they should have engaged. There was plenty of time to deagress and jump into high sec. They did not take GCC we did. Sitting like bowling pins for us to knock out of jump distance from the gate was also very silly. These ships would have done better if the situation had been handled differently.

We scooped it up and the loot fairy rewarded us with some goodies. We then warped off the gate, got ourselves situated and bounced into the next system to dock and repair while we waited out our GCC. When we looked at the kill mail we were amused that the Proteus had died faster than the Brutix contrary to our original opinion on the possible direction of the fight.

We made it back home. Fried had to log out at the station but Diz did a good job of keeping the roam to about an hour and producing pewpew for us. Me. I was happy to have a chance to go out after missing several delicious roams with good fights in them over the weekend.

I don't have issue with ganking. But ganking is ganking even if the targets are in your defines of evil.

The moral of the story is also: When a Stabber Fleet Issue lands on you, aligns out and then starts bumping you away from the gate, don't ignore it.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Looking Into the Neighbor's Yard


[Wherein Sugar:
Talks about something she doesn’t know anything about
Discusses things she vaugly under stands.
Asks if WoW can learn from Eve
Debates topics from another gamers blog unrelated to Eve
Bad posts
Overdoses on Koolaid]

There is a lot of comparison about games. There is a lot of Ego as well. As an Eve player I have drunken heavily of the CCP drugged Kool-Aid. I know that Eve is amazing and I must be amazing for playing Eve. I have this incredible world view that is achieved only by playing the most amazing game ever.

Or, perhaps not. I do happen to love Eve and I make sure to keep my glass of Kool-Aid topped off. But, I am not a gaming expert. I’ve never played WoW. Not because I have a problem with Wow. I don’t. I never played it because I was angry at Blizzard that WoW was a MMO and not a RTS like the original World of Warcraft. That’s all. Nothing deep just me sulking because at the time, when I first started playing games the only things I played and truly enjoyed were RTS and I felt that Blizzard had mocked me by taking away what I wanted and replacing it with something else.

I was reading the MMO Melting Pot. I like the site a lot. I’ve never played many of these games and I have little interest in changing that fact. However, the difference in viewpoints combined with the passion for their game play is refreshing. It’s nice to know that Eve bloggers are not the only ones obsessed with their game. Do I still think Eve is amazing and special? Yes. My glass is very full. I’m going to take a quick sip to refresh myself before I continue.

A lot of the games are also similar when it comes to the theme of people being people. However, I feel that the MMO Melting Pot doesn’t pay enough attention to Eve. Sometimes, I’m reading articles about things they point out and I go… but that’s like erryday in Eve why is it some noteworthy thing here? And that’s when I sip from my full glass (always full) of Kool-Aid and note that what is normal for Eve is not always normal in other games.

Can WoW Guilds learn from Eve Corporations?

The article that caught my attention was one in which the blogger discusses giving supplies to guild members and how self sufficient guild members tend to perform better then ones that receive guild handouts. The over arching question is what is the personal responsibility of the player and the functional responsibility of the guild?

Matticus titles his blog post: "Where Personal Responsibility Begins and Guild Responsibility Ends"

Hello life in the corporation structure (cuz we don’t have guilds, yo) of Eve. This question surprised me because it didn't occur to me that anyone would ask it. That is because I play Eve and those questions are as intertwined with the game play as the fact that the ship spin counter changes color every thousand spins.

I wonder, can WoW Guilds learn from Eve Corporations and Alliances? I am on the outside looking in. Never having played WoW I will lay out the fact that I may be completely and totally wrong and these concepts can never possibly port over in any way what so ever. Now, with that out of the way onward the musing of social structures in video games and the pros and cons of working with people.

Matticus says, in relation to Wow:

"My theory is that the more inclined a player is of maxing their character’s stats, the more inclined they are to maximize their play. It seems to help instill a sense of discipline. They’re spending thousands of their own gold to augment their character. Why not spend some more time referencing the information needed to play better? It shows me that they are heavily invested in their character and they’re not willing to wait around because they need to have that super awesome enchant right now."

I look at that and think, how does that compare to Eve? It reminds me of the average, successful Eve corporation and the player that they seek.

Most corps are relatively small. The individuals may work as a cohesive whole but individual self sufficiency and independence is the relative norm. There is a lot of me and I in the small corporation. I may not have anyone logged in to assist me at any given time. I have to be able to take care of myself to some extent. I need to be able to gather my own resources and meet my own needs because when the group comes together as a whole we are often looking for group activities to do. In Eve, these group activities are often destructive (to others and/or to ourselves).

But, the support of others makes everything better. A new player is often advised, "Find a corp." Then, if the situation does not improve the advice becomes find a better corp but rarely will one be told to not have a corp. There are specialized situations for that but they are specialized and not the meandering tracks of the mainstream Eve player.

The Individual

My summary of what Matticus says is that a Wow Guild Member is expected to take care of things like basic stuff to make the consumables they need (I’ll equate this to our ammo needs and basic module needs) or the parts to make it (such as giving ore to someone to refine it at max yield and build at max productivity). And preparation for whatever preplanned activities there are.

I would think that this is a basic need of any average player. To get stuff one must go to get stuff. Does WoW foster a player that just lays in the grass and has things dropped on their head? Or is this the result of the ‘ theme park’ aspect of the game and the hand holding that is accused of happening in such a system. Is the nature of WoW’s game play such that it does not create an independent player?

I do not know. I've never played it. "Go back to WoW" is a common eve war cry to those that struggle. But I would believe that the average player does their own thing at their own pace. The game may not merit punishments as Eve does and may contain more hand-holding and points to the right direction but it would seem that a player would advance. In fact that advancement seems to be the problem.

An Eve player has to learn the game. There is no floating through it. Without focus, goals and some type of base education there will be little to no success. The upward curve of improvement is not guaranteed. Even with all of the skills in the game someone who has not learned the technical aspect of ships to fly, fits to put on the ships and how to then fly that fit ship will fail. They will fail spectacularly because Eve does not guaranty power through levels, time, or equipment without game play knowledge as well.

So, Matticus may be looking for an average successful Eve player but someone motivated by personal achievement in WoW.

The Organization

He continues with how a Wow Guild would then cover things like repairs, some shiny gear build needs, and some money reimbursement. I've summarized as per my understanding.

Eve’s two largest alliances (both over 10 thousand players strong) both have such large, complex and important finical plans that they are obsessed over. They are even made public. Their members can study their finical plans and cash flow. The public then combs through them and looks for errors and lies. They look for mistakes and possible weaknesses. Some look for strategies and future competitions. And then some just look onto the Eve player base and go, “You all are insane. It’s a finical spreadsheet!” Of course we shush them and explain how very important our fianc├ęs are to us. And they are. My own corporation is small and our finical goals simple yet they are deeply, deeply important to us.

We embark upon business ventures and make investments. This is fun game play to those of us that play Eve. Fun, fascinating game play. I am currently discussing how to properly share and split assets vs labor with someone for a possible business venture. This is very exciting to me in my video game. I also consider this normal. Finances. In a game. Yet we love it to pieces and our virtual video game economy gets studied by people.

Sov Null is the best example but Worm Holes are a strong secondary for where Eve’s corporation structure, in a very base aspect of game play takes a 90 degree turn and heads away from player groups in many games. And if WoW considers giving basic compensations and assistance a possible form of socialism instead of a natural part of encouraging and supporting its members to bring more to the guild and everyone's playing experience what must they think of our largest Alliances?

But our large alliances work. They are highly successful machines. Sometimes they fail but they are run by people and people are people and Eve is a video game. It does not negate the success that they have but in a game where one is challenging other people and not just the game itself failure has different rules.

Is it Socialism?


1 - : any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods


2 - a : a system of society or group living in which there is no private property
b : a system or condition of society in which the means of production are owned and controlled by the state

3 - : a stage of society in Marxist theory transitional between capitalism and communism and distinguished by unequal distribution of goods and pay according to work done

The end statement is, "One would say that some of these policies are socialist."

There are many socialist factors to Eve corporations. Eve is not a single player game. Yes, one can play it alone. One can even play it without alts and try to never interact with others in a non-business manner. We’ll ignore the player run part of the market for the sake of span. It’s possible and I’m sure there are people who will pop up and say it's fun and that is how they always play. I nod to them and continue on because that is not how the vast majority (almost all) of the players play.

It would seem that any organization where the organization was meant to benefit others would have socialist policies. But what I started to wonder was do socialist policies benefit WoW?

I took some time to do some reading about WoW. In no way did I feel that WoW harbors a secret wish to create socialist structures. I was rather startled at how irritated many players were when it came to playing with other people. Min/Max is not a concept I have personally developed yet the constant trek towards the best/fastest/most powerful/only way was something I stumbled upon quite often. People seem to get irritated with people very quickly for not having the best stuff. It all seems rather vicious. People who are not X are bad for you and helping others seems to detriment or be considered detrimental.

It makes me ask if WoW could support a complex interconnected social structure like Eve does. Where the players have value regardless of their shiny things. I ponder that it may not because WoW isn't set up to reward people for working together with those who are not as 'powerful'. The leveling system gets in the way at this point.

Giving people stuff out in Sov null becomes a different deal. The corporation and alliance is the reason that the player is playing. The corporation and alliance needs the player where in Empire there is a reverse in that the player benefits from the cohesion of the corporation. Null, as much as people seem to hate it, is about numbers. Each group is competing against each other for the most basic resource. The player. This leads to the fantastic and complex systems of corporation reimbursement, ship reward, ship replacement, Fleet commander payouts, capital ship fleets and many other things that would strain the resources of an individual player to gather in the quantity and at the speed that it takes to feed a war machine.

Because the sov null alliances are war machines. Their players are their troops, their units, their battalions. They have war generals, they have logistic teams. They have diplomats, spies, scouts, and specialists. They function on a level where the individual becomes a highly specialized part of a cohesive whole. The individual no longer has the time or access to support themselves, individually at a level that the alliance needs to burn those resources. A group can ask their pilots to individual fund all of their own resources but it comes with a high potential to cause degradation in the overall performance of the group.

Compared to WoW, is this strange? Continuing to read about WoW it seems that it is.

In a way, Eve’s little quirk of destroying the very things that you work so hard to earn seems that it would make people more selfish, not less. Less trusting (then we already are) not more. But, yesterday, I contracted my Poohbear (newest Sleipbear) to one of our carrier pilots to transfer for our Vacation. The very sociopath tendencies that its players are accused of seem to foster an environment of corporation and mutual support.

Because of the potential size of the corporation and the lack of numerical limits to its members people who want to resource gather (farm as I understand it’s called) or resource assist (logistics) add to the pool overall and help to pull the weight off of others. I know that I may be missing what the game itself can provide to the player and what the player has to make from the game at this point. I am now very used to Eve where (almost) everything is player made.

And from the small bit of reading I have done and the deep pool of ignorance that I have about WoW, it seems that the game itself does not support a system where the Guild and the members create a fluid exchange that benefits through corporation based upon peoples interests. WoW seems to be a sandbox that you wander through but you will still meander along a predestined path. The problem with the path is that it is completely focused on constant increases in personal power.

I don't think that this stops the possibility of emergency game play in WoW. Perhaps the players are so seeped in the culture of self improvement being the best improvement that it is not a correctable situation without a massive push through some social force. But, because of the split shard server nature of WoW such a massive push would be nearly impossible on a macro level. Otherwise the comment of socialism would not have come up. Something about it seems to grate at the larger culture of the game.

So it looks from my comfortable seat in this house over here. I've never been in the neighbors house, just looked through the windows and admired their decorations and like suggesting how they might want to arrange their furniture instead of what they have.

And Eve... well Eve is a game about playing with other people.

My favorite flavor of Kool-Aid is fruit punch.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Vacation Time

It was murmured about a few weeks ago but Ender took the time (truly shocking stuff trust me) to write a corp mail that we are going on vacation so contract ships to the haulers.

While THC2 is a rather static presence in Molden Heath, occasionally they (and now we) do leave. It seems to be a once a year thing for a few weeks to maybe a month. We'll roll out to one of our secondary bases and bother the natives for a while.

I'll miss red space. It is currently home in a way no other place in the game is. Still, a new backdrop and some new experiences will be welcome. I don't know how long we will stay. A few weeks a month or two? As long as we find it interesting and the homesickness stays at bay.

I've packed some ships and some frigs. We're gonna play in null more. I packed PoohBear the secondary Sleip, leaving Sleipbear at home. Ammo is a go, Scimi is on the way. Should be interesting times.

I cooked a Cynabal as well. Sugar has Gallente Cruiser V in 5 days and will add them to her ship list. I fit it up (minus two rigs I need to pick up with my next ammo run) and then all the ships got contracted over to the carrier pilots.

Next Vacation I'll be able to move my own things. Nice thought for the future. Snowflake the Thanatos will be undocking soon enough (months still but lets pretend).

Friday, November 23, 2012

Enter Eve

I was looking forward to Blog Banter #41 after my abysmal failure to produce something that was not a ten page rant about how much I hate sports in #40. Then I read the subject matter, put my head on my desk and sighed.

The topic is:

BB41: Director's Cut The universe of EVE is not without its drama and epic stories, both in and out of game. Imagine a publisher, movie studio or television network asked you to prepare a pitch for a new brand of EVE-flavoured entertainment. This could be your big break, what would be your synopsis to bring New Eden to the wider audience?

The problem is that I don’t watch TV. I rarely go t see movies (I think its been two years). I was caught up in those two for several days so I missed the part about a publisher. At some point I decided to revisit the topic and see if I could figure something better out. Then I saw the publisher bit and I was still like... blargh. Words I can work with. I can understand a publisher but even that needs to be something short and concise. I don't really think i know what short and concise means.

Which led to my first problem and its solution. Eve is not short and concise. The very concept of wrapping it up into a bite sized flavor to lure someone in the game doesn't work for me. But I am terrible at business and terrible at advertising things. If I want something I will go looking for it, research it and decide on if it is what I do or do not want. While I can write praises about Eve and seek to tell others to give it a try I cannot do it in a short, snappy clip to grab the attention at others.

So I won’t. Instead, I will write about the game as I would advertise it to someone who was looking to know about the game. Eve’s game play is more than the interaction of screen clicks and spaceships against space.

Intro New Eden

(Let me take you by the wrist and run away and take you to a land that is so far, far away.)

In the serious world of internet spaceships internet spaceships are serious business. Eve Online is a game where Real Time Strategy meets Puzzles mixed with a three dimensional Environment and is multiplied by a fraction of true time. Your body is a spaceship and you’ll like it that way. Your personality can have more power than your skills and the ache of loss is a real pain.

Your Avatar is whatever Spaceship you decide to fly. Your gear is the pieces that you install upon your spaceship to forward your goal. Your goal is something only you can decide upon. Intangible or immediate the universe is a pool that you step into to adapt or plunge into to get over the initial shock.

Eve is a game about shattering loss and impossible gain. The yellow brick road must be laid before it can be followed. The other players will hold your hand only as long as you put it out to be held. Even then, eventually, they will toss you from the nest because your spaceship has wings and starships were meant to fly.

It is a land where personal value can hold more weight hen money but money runs the universe as a lubricant instead of power. People will sacrifice their most prized possessions for the greater emotional importance of friendship and loyalty while shattering all the hopes and dreams of another person with a cold viciousness that reflects the void we fly into.

Beauty will always be in the eye of the beholder. Personal taste can sometimes be stronger than reality but reality is based upon facts. Yet, manipulation of the universe is possible if one is cautious and thoughtful in their actions. The game rewards intelligence with success and stupidity with boredom. But the game will never lead you by the hand and it will render you uninterested and unsubscribed if you do not possess deep pools of self motivation.

Eve is a game of tools where the restrictions on those tools have been removed. Yet tool use has consequences. A consequence can be good or it can be bad. In a game with only one server who you are matters and many people never realize that until they have burned their own identify into the ground. Yet, the phoenix can still rise from the ash and a new start can began because in this world you are only one person affecting one part and the rise and fall of greatness continues in its unrelenting path.

But it is also a place of beauty and splendor. I can only comment the cool joy of the depths of space, or the sparkling beautiful of a pulsar in a wormhole. The moments when you zoom away from your ship to suck in the beautiful backdrops of space are endless. To see flare of a ships engines or sit in the quiet active company of one’s fleet of drones. And to watch the backdrop of a planet, as ships pour in and out of a system. The gritty, street market feel of Jita or the nonstop bickering one on one fights in Hek are all things that are meant to be experienced for one to know what they are.

Eve has no story because it is a world. It has a past and it has a future but there is no story for each player to enter and repeat over and over again. History is kept with a tender care. That time has come and gone and only the unknown new is ahead. The world will always move forward regardless of the players interaction. One can ride, one can push or one can pull the story along. It is all about choice and those that have a taste for consequences. It is about the people that are there and the person that you are. The only one that can mold your game is yourself.

And in those times when you feel alone look around and remember that every ship on that screen is another person. In the same world with you. Go interact with them. Enjoy.

And then when you are tired, visit Eve off line. The forums, the wikis, the blogs, the news sites, the dev blogs, the jabber accounts, and sending text messages to your new corpmates while tweeting your first success will drag you in and drown you in the richness of this game.

If you want this you can have it but you have to take it.

Welcome to Eve.

Of course, since that sounded almost sane and I was avoiding doing productive things at work...

Or Blog Banter #41 Interpreted with Bad Poetry (this is best read with manic hyperactivity mode set to:On)


Welcome to this bit of space,
Where a Thanatos and a Machariel shall race,
There are lights along the star ship gates,
Where we mine and mine at a frantic pace!
It’s a place of loss and a land of fear,
It is everything that someone once held dear,
And its full of fear but sometimes its just,
Lots of stuff and a bit of Dust.
If you leave can I has your stuff?
There is no hero quest for you to win,
No special tasks but for ship spins,
Can you accept that there is no end game to win,
And just enjoy the game with in.
And the first time you lose your ship,
Don’t quiver your lower lip,
Instead go reship,
The universe is within your grip.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Intangible Creations

Today was full of intangibles. Thoughts and successes that hold meaning to me. I had two accomplishments and to some silly things. Often the discussion about what one chooses to do revolves around what is the 'best' way to do something based off of a predefined idea of best.

Even in writing this happens. I have the terrible habit of becoming wrapped up in my little imagined scenes. I'll wander by when struggling and ask people random questions. In this, as I sought out others to help me understand what I wanted to write, I accidently spurred conversations and arguments in my wake.

When I first composed The Cog's Pieces I had a vague idea that I wanted to flush to the surface. In some ways I was over optimistic about accomplishing this. Not being familiar with null I found the composure much harder and more strenuous then the other stories that I have worked on this past month. And then it feels funny to write about how 'hard' it can be to write. I wrote the outline for this story almost two weeks ago and I've spent most of the time since then staring at empty space in a word document with the occasional black splash of letters to mar the surface. Now I am done with it and walking away from it with the hope that it accomplishes what I created it to do. Entertain someone and capture a moment in time.

The other entries so far for the competition are here. I have ten days left to focus on this and produce something else perhaps. Then my hiatus will be over and I'll go back to more in game focused things while flying my new Cynabal (Gallente Cruiser V has 6 days left).

The end result I'm not sure of. Everyone sees something different in it. I'm sure sure that I accomplished my original goal with the story. Yet, as I swirl the various opinions about and eye the mixture that they create I am seeing that personal experience carries a heavy weight in this review. At first I wondered if I had gotten my point across properly. Then I realized that I had except I did not realize it myself. The point was to provide a handful of moments into another's life. The conclusions brought from it would always be individual.

I'm just glad its done.

Also, on my list of finishing things is that a long skill I've been sidelined on and delayed for my industry alt finished. Today I can build capital ships. This is a major step for me. The first pieces of my Orca have gone into the oven.

It also opened up the entire thing of "I can build these things wow cool."

My industrial character has a long road ahead of her. but then, so do all of my characters. Even as I am approaching the milestone of twenty million skill points I do not feel well skilled or very experienced. When people speak of the game not having depth I am amazed. I look across the four accounts that I run, each with their own progressive path mapped out 1-2 years in advance with no overlap and I wonder how people don't find something to do here.

But for industry. I was amused to see that I had over a billion in estimated value (per the inventory calculator) worth of minerals in my inventory. Go me! There was a time when that number would have staggered me. Now, I'm pleased with it. The length of time it took to mine it was longer then it takes me to earn a billion doing other activities.

So why don't I just buy the minerals? Because I don't want to. That is my reason. I want to mine it and build it from the ground up because it is what I want to do. Along the way I'm learning lots of useful skills and having a lovely experience playing Eve. I don't care about equations of time and market and value. I am doing what I am doing simply because I want to do it and it makes me happy. Intangible but true this is me enjoying my game of Eve.

The Cog's Pieces

The Rhea shifted closer to the hangar array. Delicate adjustments to the thrusters maneuvered the massive freighter closer to the tower. Thrusters, enormous on smaller ships, poured out minute amounts of energy. The ship, a behemoth in its own right drifted towards the tower. There was an odd grace to it. Its hull was silver against the deep black of space where it drifted with a refined dignity. Lash eased it down and the Rhea slowed to a stop. Coupling hoses snaked from the tower to connect to the dozens of closed ports along the jump freighter's side.

The dock lights pinged green. Relieved he relaxed as the tower’s automated systems begin their transfers. He was a meticulous man, Lash. Even as he waited for the subroutines he had built to do their job one eye made sure that the fuel blocks were taken from the proper bay. With the other eye he read the status checks for the strontium clathrates levels, leery of degradation of the important reinforcement molecule. According to all reports the tower purred away at its job needing only to be fed a steady diet of fuel blocks and its silos emptied. He noted the supply levels of munitions and entered a note for the team that handled the ammunition restocking.

Flawless. Effective. Everything was timed. The layout of the silos allowed for minimal moving of the freighter.  It took a handful of minutes to complete what could have taken hours. Lash called to the next stop on his route even as the last bit of loading and unloading finished.

“System is clear,” said Citron. “The cyno is up.” A beacon flared as a golden arrow on his HUD as Citron activated his cynosural generator.

The last hose snaked away from the Rhea. The tower was fueled and its silo's empty. Lash activated the jump drive. Unlike its sister ship the Charon, the Rhea had sacrificed a large amount of its cargo space for a massive jump drive generator. Deep in its guts a pool of nitrogen isotopes reacted with the jump drive. An artificial wormhole ripped open space as red bands of energy crackled around the freighter. The entire ship shuddered and them it stepped out of normal space and slipped into its own corridor to travel an incredible distance, wrapped in bands of searing red energy.

The jump drive was limited as to the distance it could travel. Lash had no need to push it. His journey was only to the opposite end of the cluster. Another tower needed to be fed. The simple process might consume a large amount of time but it gave greater rewards. As fuel left the Rhea minerals mined on the cold surfaces of the planets took its place. Complex chemical reactions, to dangerous to be performed on planet or station created stable compounds needed to feed the thirst of the ship yards.

The outpost was his true pride. The bulbous shape swept out and around, accented by the rich luster of the plasma planet it orbited. Massive refineries churned inside of its guts as it refined ore. His people tended the belts and fueled the refinery. Every moon was inhabited by a laboratories, refiners, reaction units, and mining arrays. It was beautiful and they had built it from nothing in a place where no one wanted to put the time and effort into cultivation the systems potential.

The Rhea docked to be restocked and offloaded. The process was not quite as fast here. More needed to happen and the fuel bays needed to be reloaded. Along with calculations for the various needs of the moons under his care. The teams were not back from empire just yet so he had a pause in his schedule. One, long enough for him to go visit his true source of joy.

Settling into the shuttle after the Rhea caused a bit of disorientation. Twin fins flared to the side like miniature fins. The shuttle swam more then flew, the void its natural habitat. Freed of the ponderous weight of the Rhea, Lash relaxed as he approached the capital ship assembly array. The shuttle slipped through the keyhole opening and entered a world of activity.

Suspended in the center of the chamber was the almost complete form of a Nyx. The massive super carrier stretched the length of the array, its ends vanishing into shadowed depths. Lights illuminated the skeletal structure where teams bound hull plates against the flared ribs. Lash maneuvered through the struts that supported the Nyx. A highway flowed through the center composed of a trail of cargo containers as they moved materials to and from the processors.

Across one curved edge of the ring the hull was complete and armor plates were being installed. The silver-green panels slid into place. Kilometers of armor plating waited as each one, preformed to fit, hovered above their place of installation. The project was on time. This Nyx, their first built, was to become Triad Squared's flagship and announcement of their supercarrier production capabilities. This was why he had moved his corporation out into nullsec and accepted the position as Outward Alliance's logistics wing.
It was beautiful and somehow delicate.

His alliance com chimed. "How is the build coming along, Lash?"

There was only one build that everyone cared about. This one. "Fine, Illyan. Things are moving along smoothly." Lash knew that he sounded smug. Well he was. It was a major undertaking to build a super carrier. The resources alone would stagger most people. His had taken it in stride and then pushed those limits to prove that they could accomplish what they had come to complete.

"Silver Star and Woven Spectrum have made a push towards our jump bridges. We need full mobilization to repel them. Outward Alliance is not helpless and we need to make that clear now before they think that we are weak."

"I've supplied all of the towers. Ammunition is in the alliance hangers. The bridges are fueled and ready."
"And your people?"

"My people are building as fast as they can."

"You don't understand. We need them to give real value to the defense of the system. They cannot just live here and expect people to lose ships while they hide in the outpost. Everyone has to fight."

Lash's throat tightened. "They are noncombatants," he squeezed out. They also keep your entire alliance supplied, he managed not to say. "Triad Squared handles all of the alliances logistics needs." He pulled up the alliance contract list. "We have sixty alliance contracts that we are in the process of filling or have filled in the last forty-eight hours. Between that and our manufacturing goals my people are stretched very thin."

"Then import ships instead of wasting your time building them. I want everyone on the field to crush those who tread on my space." His space? Lash bit his tongue until salty blood filled his mouth. He was about to speak when Illyan continued. "I'm not Corvith. He was voted out as alliance head for a reason."

"I spoke to him yesterday."

Illyan cut him off."And things have changed. Not everyone has the luxury of twisting and twirling every decision for weeks before a commitment. An alliance leadership must be hard and decisive. Corvith understood that and stepped down when the decision was placed before him. Outward has invested to much in Triad Squared for you not to give back. This is a Call To Arms. Unlike Corvith, I will not allow you to ignore them. I have sent you the fleet composition that I expect you to field. Note that I have taken pains to work it around the limited range of options your corporation has."


***
"I have taken pains..." Illyan's voice still mocked him. Lash had gathered fifty-seven people who could fly a combat ship and shoved them into Drakes. Ten people he managed to plug into Scimitars for logistics. The additional twenty were in various fast frigates. The rest were hauling supplies and reshipments. The general mood was resigned with a handful of excited and a few that had not said a word to him since he had put out the orders.

Now his people huddled in a tight ball just off the flared front of an Avatar. The titan was tucked safely in the heart of a force field. It had taken two jump bridges to reach the staging system at the outer edge of Outward Alliance's space. The titan would turn itself into the last bridge to reach a system that that sat squarely on the edge of contested space. Now his fleet huddled so close together that he feared for the interceptors.

"Don't bump the Titan!" A Rokh who was in warp to late and not paying enough attention in the first place dropped out of warp and slid through the force screen. Over one hundred million kilos of mass slammed into the stationary Titan. Kinetic energy transferred as the shields absorbed and diverted the power. The Avatar spun on its own axis as the Rokh halt stopped with enough force to stun its pilot deep in the fluid filled recesses of his pod.

The battleships were a backup. They would come in last. The Naga fleet floated at the other end of the titan. A hundred strong, their duel barrels were a whispered promise of the violence to come later. Lash could feel the excitement crackle about the fleet as the commanders arrived. A drake dropped neatly out of warp and slid into the center of his fleet without bumping one of the interceptors from his path. "Zag Zee is your warpin. Snipers will be behind you. We need them pushed back. I am your anchor, Nissen Rue. Welcome to the fight." Murmurs of welcome and thanks rolled up and back down the assembled drakes. Nissen Rue was well known and better liked.

"I know that your group is well experienced with jumping. The titan is no different. Don't be scared of her. When the bridge is up the coordinate is broadcasted. Accept and make the jump. Nothing like a good shortcut to start the day. Just be ready because we are all set and then things get fast."

The titan shimmered. The massive drives, powered by kilometers of power and support made the entire ship shudder. The structure shivered as massive forced arced around it. The ship became a jump gate. Its engines spun up and diverted its power in as a portal was ripped into space and held open. "Bridge is up!"

The fleet jumped. Even with the power of the titan behind it the portal could only be held open for scant seconds. Seconds that were long enough for the drake fleet to draw upon that power and transcend distance and logic to travel.

Lash unclenched his jaw as his fleet displayed green. Everyone had made the jump. "Zag Zee?" Nissen was asking. "Status?"

"Ready Sir."

"Fleet, align." The ships turned. Drakes with their ponderous grace, forms arched and strange and studded with turrets. On a planet, none of these ships would exist. The Scimitar both fragile and sleek, the interceptors all angular lines and shark detail as they streaked ahead of the fleet like hounds seeking the scent. When the last ship had turned, Nissen took over the control. The fleet commander sent coordinates to each ship. In one unit they leap forward and entered warp as a whole.

Space stretched and then it contracted again. The fleet dropped out of warp and Nissen hissed in surprise. A cloud of frigates and cruisers were only twenty kilometers away. "Interceptors go," he snapped. Their own interceptors, brave souls that they were burned for the enemy fleet. Bright pinpoints of lights, small enough to be mistaken for stars, flashed across the short distance. "We can recover. Anchor on me and start following your broadcasts. I will start a slow burn moving us back. The Naga's will give cover fire. Tackle, do your thing and try to slow the interdictors."

The fleet formed in a swirling mass around Nissen's drake. Even as they began to move back the members of Silver Star and Woven Spectrum began to land. Their Armageddons headed the fleet. Long, golden hatchets their sharp prows arced towards the fleet. The dozen Guardians illuminated the group as they spun around in triangular patterns interconnected to each other. The Apocalypses sat behind the Armageddons. It would have been beautiful if space didn't erupt in a brilliant wash of laser fire as the fire of the drake fleet disintegrate before the Scimitar's could assist.

"Broadcast if you are locked," Nissen bellowed calmly. "Scimitar's start reps early. We are in these bricks for a reason. keep moving people, anchor on me." Between the two fleets the frigates were locked in a deadly battle that looked to be more firefly dance. Tiny shapes burned and flared as they collided and died. The interceptors pushed through. The drakes moved away and then the first interdictor bubble went up. The fleet was now trapped but that had been expected.

Lash calmed himself. This was part of everything else. Nissen continued to move and the drakes vomited missiles into the darkness. An Apocalypse exploded. Brilliant blue cast the golden hulls a deep, startling green for an instant as its fleet mates reflected its death off of forty some different hulls.

"Where is the Naga fleet?" Nissen snarled across the operational channel. Lash felt cold nausea curl up in his stomach. There was a desperate harshness in Nissen's voice.

Armal North, Naga Fleet Commander responded. "Kim Supp is reported to be in or near the system."
"And?"

"She is a known bomber fleet leader. The Naga fleet will be eaten alive. They are just waiting for us."

"We have people on the field dying. Run if you see them you are Naga for gods sakes."

"You are drakes. We're not going to lose over a hundred Naga to bombers."

"You aren't going to come because there might be bombers?" Nissen's incredulity was cut off as his drake vanished. The anchor lost, the drakes started to collide with each other even before the scattered fragments of Nissan's ship cooled. An interceptor snatched up and destroyed his pod even as another drake went down. It descended into chaos. Malformed and confused the drakes tried to reform. It was long minutes and two more ships lost before Lash could rally up his people around himself. They were trapped in a wave of interdiction bubbles. Even as the first Scimitar died their position was clearly futile. With no backup and the Scimitar's now the primary focus of the fleet they started to die. Unfocused flares of missiles breached the darkness. Each time they were answered with purple fire that flashed across the distance and snuffed out another signature in the darkness.

Lash was not sure if being one of the last to die was a curse or not. He watched his fleet die one by one. Most without understanding what had happened. Yet, they knew they had been abandoned. The other fleet ad been at the Titan as well. But now, there was only darkness except for the flares of their ships as they died one by one. Later, when he asked what had happened Illyan's response had been, "Reship your people.  We has a POS coming out of reinforcement in six hours. I want your fleet ready in four." Then he had disconnected and Lash had stared at his empty screen his mouth full of questions he was not able to ask.


***
Five names were all that were left. Five people out of two hundred souls that had left the security of empire space to follow him into null and fight for sovereignty under Outward Alliance's banner. He had helped to evacuate every single person that was now gone. The shadows of their energy could still be felt but the outpost was cold and almost abandoned.

Lash could remember Bangrath's embarrassment as the pilot said that he could not do it anymore. "I have nothing left," he said. "I didn't come out here for them to waste my effort. I've never received assistance from the logistics fleet. We have been abandoned on the battlefield dozens of times. I wanted to be here but I never wanted to be wasted. No one did."

"I know," had been his only answer. "We will get you out. Everyone who wants to go will be evacuated." What else could he do for them? For months they had been loyal. They had continued to run the logistics chains and report for battle after battle as Illyan had 'skirmishes' that often wound up with Triad Squard's fleet decimated and few other losses for either side.

Now he was mostly alone. The other four were in empire, waiting. Another call to arms notification started to flash. He ignored it and set his coffee down. He rubbed his own face and then stared at the blinking notification. Illyan had bled his people dry. And for what? The objectives were vague fuzzy things where many words were used to explain that destroying fleet after fleet of Triad Squard's ships proved that Outward Alliance was not weak. What the constant destruction of the alliance's logistics wing proved he was not sure. They lost no space but they gained no space. He had been told that his losses did not matter enough for anyone to keep true count. Illyan waxed poetical over the efficiency of his fleet compositions. Nothing was said of the confused group that were willing but had lost the reason for why they were willing. And what could he tell them? To keep it up? The reimbursements had drained the corporations wallet. The constant operations had shattered their neat and efficient logistic chains. The message indicator flickered in the corner of his eye still. It mocked him with its simply worded call to arms. Its endless thirst for things he no longer had. He ignored it and palmed open his communications link to a name he had held onto for a long, long time.

"Shorn."

Lash leaned forward. "It's Lash Tyel. You once made me an offer..."


***
Lash's shuttle skimmed past the waiting fleet. He had handed them the password to the force field earlier. Now Drakes and Tengu swirled around the towers anchor. His shuttle was a tiny mote as it wove its way through the assembles cruisers and battlecruisers on a path to the capital ship assembly array that houses the recently completed Nyx.

"We won't let them take this CSAA," Illyan told him. "They think because it is under a logical corporation such as yourselves that they can steam roll over you. Outward Alliance takes care of its own. The capital ships we are producing will make us a solid power."

We. Triad Squared no longer had the ability to produce capitals. He could scrape together a few battleships, perhaps, if he ignored everything else. He might also have felt better if he was not handing over the sovereignty to Septus, Illyan's corporation. That had been explained to him as an important part of protecting the array due to Triad Squard's lack of ability to form a defense fleet.

Only a handful of struts supported the Nyx in its cradle. The super carrier was finished. The last checks had been run before Ralli, head of manufacturing, had left. That had been their gift and final thank you to him. They had completed his hope and dream. He drank in the circular structure, elegant instead of awkward, as his shuttle skimmed down the length of it.

The pod detached from the shuttle. Empty, the shuttle sought one of the docks where it folded its wings and nestled into a cradle. Maybe someone would remember it was there one day. Lash tasted bitter amusement as his pod anchored into the Nyx. If there had been anyone left to feed to the fight before Illyan took it he would have seen another example of the excellent care Outward Alliance took of its own. He would have watched his people burn while the rest of the fleet sat behind them with no support. Oh yes, the tender care would over whelm him.

The assembly array's doors flared open with the delicacy of a newly born butterfly's first wing strokes. Light pierced the darkness of the Nyx's chamber and reflected off of the sleek form. Lash nudged the ship forward. The remaining hoses decoupled with a pressurized hiss. For the first time since the array doors had been closed, the ship was on its own. Millions of pieces twined together to create an impressive whole. Over three kilometers in length, its form both graceful and great, the Nyx slide from its cradle into space.
It was not the birth that he had envisioned for his ship. None of the members of the production team remained. Triad Squared was a shell of what it had once been. "Where did the Nyx come from?"
"The array must have automatically ejected upon completion. The project had been going faster than anticipated." Lash was proud of how calm he sounded as he lied. It might have been because he was too distracted telling the tower to shut down. Or it may have been that he no longer cared.

Eighty Drakes and fifty Tengu found themselves unexpectedly exposed. The tower force field flickered off. The Scimitar fleet swirled to a stop as their commander was the first to notice. A single Lachesis warped off. Lash ignored it.

It was amazing how beautiful cynosural fields were. The swirling ball of red energy pulsed almost pure white in the center. For its power, it was innocuous in its size. The generator that Lash had jury rigged to the Nyx soaked up all of the massive ships power. It was of no importance. Even as the questions raged across communication channels and demands were made that he ignored space exploded in rippling red waves of energy as Point and Reload's fleet dropped onto Outward Alliance's confused forces.

The most amusing part of it, he mused as he keyed in the self destruct sequence for the Nyx. Lasers streaked across the blackness. They seared the Nyx's hide as they passed. Drakes vanished. Tengu tried to turn but all were trapped in interdiction spheres.

His ship was a full minute into the self destruct when the capital ship fleet warped in to support the drake and Tengus that were being snuffed out faster than one could blink. The first Abaddon exploded. Cheers erupted across Outward Alliance's communications channels. More Abaddons exploded and then an Armageddon shattered into jagged, mismatched pieces. The Guardian fleet became hard pressed to counter the damage. The Drakes and Tengu rallied, invigorated by the change.
Lash ignored all communication attempts.

Forty-five seconds into the count down before space erupted in light again. Lasers and plasma spewed across the void as the two fleets fought. A hole had entered the center of Point and Reload's fleet. A hole that was filled by the appearance of a super capital fleet surrounding the deadly bloom of a cynosural field.
The first doomsday device ripped across the sky. Space tore in the path of the destructive energies. A Thanatos vanished, the glitter of its fragmentation the only memory that it had been there. As the Nyx's engines overloaded, Lash was pleased to see Illyan's Tengu burn. The illuminated blue mist of the explosion splashed across the Nyx's hide even as silver-green metal plates exploded outwards and slammed into the ragged remains of Illyan's fleet. The explosion caused the ship to ripple as forces buckled structures and tore through supports. The super carrier's discus shape arched and then from the center out it was torn apart.
The explosion that followed consumed the super carrier spun his pod out into the interdiction sphere as his Nyx vanished, destroyed by its own maker. It was naught but a moment before a Lachesis snared his pod. Lash did not try to run. His last sight was the burning pieces of an Aeon falling through the sky.


***
The tower was silent. The fuel bay was empty. The force field generator spun down. The opaque field flickered and vanished. In the darkness the tower cooled and went offline. Around it, scattered like fallen petals, the silos and arrays went dark. The automated defenses drifted into a forced sleep as the tower sat alone, the reflected light of the moon cool against its side.

Like bright blooms caught in a sudden frost the jump bridges shut down. From the edge to the center they flickered and went cold and dark. On dozens of moons tower force fields winked off. Communication lines died. Confused echos fell upon deaf sensors as bit by bit the entire cluster went dark.