Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Holiday lull

Just when things were getting interesting, here I am stuck out of game until at least December 31st. For the holidays my ex and I have devised a special schedule and because I have the boys for only a few days, and also because at the time of the switch I was slightly hung over (shout-out to Ouzag, Montreal's culinary god) and a nice coat of ice was covering the landscape, I didn't feel like switching the computers around the way I usually do. This means no EVE for the time being, and no game requiring more than 512mb of RAM or a GF6200. At least rFactor and FS9 run, barely, but I have to use keyboard controls because if I didn't move the computers, I moved my steering wheel and FCS even less.

So while I'm stuck here listening to gobs of holiday specials, as well as the boys' regular favorites like Cars, Go Diego, Star Wars and Men in Black, Cozmik is currently finishing up the Large projectile specialization skills, which will then be followed by the polishing of all the support skills, especially in the shield and rigging departments, in preparation of the next two big things: Command Ships and Strategic Cruisers. Coz can already put his pod in a Loki, but with all the ship-related skills at one he can barely make a note, let alone make the ship sing. Once the skills are up there I could probably do a Vaga/Rapier-ish fit, but the flexibility of a T3 ship means I need to have all the options available before I start plopping down huge amounts of ISK on subsystems. And let's not forget I'm only one set of skillbooks away from the Proteus. Being specialized in two races means twice the expense on ships, but as I can't have everything I'll start by my Minmatar roots. The Dominion projectile buff does help make the choice!

And as for the command ships, Coz cannot sit in one just yet but I'm getting really close. I already bought and injected the Warfare Link Specialist skill, which needs to be at IV, and then the big one, Battlecruiser V. This will give me plenty of time to buy the Command Ship skillbook, and of course the Sleipnir itself. As I mentionned above, I could also get an Astarte (yes, and Eos and Claymore, but I don't fly in big gangs much), but let's just have one to brace myself for replacement. Not to mention that all those serious ships are worth the extra fitting love so I fully expect to fit T2 rigs on them (they're actually affordable compared to what they used to be), and here and there a Faction or Complex module may find its way on the fitting screen. Just for the hell of it I've done some EFT warfare and I have a Loki fit that can tank a sustained 1200 DPS without breaking a sweat, but the amount of ISK involved must be a good down payment on a Titan! I don't plan on going that crazy on Tranquility but as I've said, this is the level when ships start getting serious, even more than just T1 battleships.

So here I am, stuck out of game and dreaming of awesome ships. At least it's good to know that I'm not as burnt out on the game as I thought I was. Will I join another PvP corp soon? Mmmm, maybe not right away. I really love the freedom I have these days, with only my one student who I'll admit is not too bad as a noob. He's going at it slower than I did because he did not try to learn the game before installing it, and did not immerse himself into a pool of sharks, but he's catching on pretty quick. I'm letting him make the mistakes we all need to make, but once he makes them he usually doesn't repeat them... that's better than his teacher !!! Now let's get to Thursday real quick so I can get back on :)

Fly hard, fast and deadly


PS: @Cutter Isaacson... I hope you made it out of J134323 in one piece and with your implants. I'll give you a few W-space pointers if you want when I get back.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Drama on EVE Radio

Well, this was an interesting afternoon! As I do most of the time when I play EVE I was listening to EVE Radio, and of course participating in the very active channel in-game, when someone by the name of Cutter Isaacson pipes up saying "I just found my first wormhole!", so of course, everyone is giving him the gratz and throwing tons of information and questions about what his situation: "What's the system?", "Are there any people in there?", "What ship are you in?", etc. But the first thing that popped in my mind from past experiences was "BOOKMARK BOTH SIDES OF THE HOLE!". Cutter said OK and then we told him how to find the cosmic anomalies; since he was in his Zephyr he would be able to warp into the sites without waking up the big bad Sleepers. All this is great but then Cutter asked "Now, how do I get back to the wormhole?"... dread lands in the channel and everyone is asking "You did bookmark it, right?". He thought he had bookmarked it but he only did so at the entrance; he had warped off the wormhole before doing the second side. The drama begins.

Now we all try to help him scanning down the wormhole again from the other side; it does help that in the system map there is an arrow saying "unstable wormhole" so scanning it down shouldn't be too hard, but Cutter has only minimal astrometric skills and he can only scan it down to 99% so he can't warp to anything. Just as panic is starting to set in, I give him the options he has: he can keep scanning until he finds either his wormhole or another one (hopefully leading out of W-space), he can self-destruct himself, losing both the ship and the set of +4 implants in his head, or we can scan the wormhole from the outside once we know his entrance system. I was the first to volunteer for the rescue mission (Kalcharr and some others, I salute you!) and as luck has it, his entrance was Eystur, 4 jumps away from my location. As soon as I have the system's name I undock my Vagabond and make best speed to it and then to one of the planets. The news isn't good though: there aren't any more wormholes in Eystur. The hole either died of old age or collapsed under the weight of a passing ship, which I find hard to believe because a Zephyr is tiny. What then followed was a frantic effort to find system J134323, a Class 2 Wolf-Rayet system with apparently nothing in it but a lost capsuleer. As 3 or 4 of us started looking for wormholes on the outside, on the off chance the hole had moved somewhere near, Cutter was doing his best to find a hole from inside the system, but I also know from experience how hard that can be when your astro skills are low, and when there's dozens of cosmic signatures cluttering up the scanner, not to mention double and triple hits.

As it is right now as I'm writing this Cutter has logged off at a safespot, and he's to try again with the scanning when he gets back on. I personnally have things to do tonight but when I get back I will try looking for wormholes now that I have the system to look for. I'll do what I can to help him with what has been a pretty traumatic first experience of W-space. Let's hope he can find his way intact.

This is the wonder of EVE. in a galaxy full of people ready to gank the next ship, there's always people ready to go through the trouble of helping out another capsuleer. I mean, one day I'm podding a newbie for being afk in W-space, and 2 days later I'm scanning down entire constellations in search of one wormhole, the proverbial "needle in a haystack", just to save a not-so newbie who just learned a very hard lesson: never forget to leave bread crumbs when flying off into the unknown!

Fly safer than he did


Thursday, December 24, 2009

Duel at Frarn I

And so this is Christmas, and what have I done...? Well, with my girlfriend on her way to her mom's place in Haute Gaspesie, Cap-Chat to be exact, and my boys being with their mom in her family, this was one of those very quiet Christmases where I didn't do much more than play EVE. I took things very easy by first doing some trade alt stuff, picking up the buy orders that had come in and magically sell them at a much higher price in a trade hub, therefore creating some very decent profit. This is all good but I quickly got on my main to see the universe in a better ship.

As I was busy with getting up to date with the various EVE podcasts, surfing here and there, and having my ex interrupt me a few times for help with Xmas gifts and getting the boys in the car I didn't want to do anything too serious like W-space ops (well, more on that later) or a roam to Low-sec or 0.0, so some missioning was in order. A bit more ISK is never bad! I did a couple ones and then realized I could now talk to the in-space agent giving away the Epic Arc missions. So I said to myself sure, why not. The first one was rather easy; well, I didn't go through the whole exploring part of it and simply bought what i needed to complete the mission and voila, mission complete. The second mission was a lot harder and I didn't complete it, but Epic Arc missions have this fun little feature: they don't expire. So I can get another shot at it whenever I want. Getting spanked in that mission meant I needed something else to do. In goes the Tempest and out goes the 'Cane of Exploration.

This was funny cuz the exploration trip was short yet successful, but had to be cut short just as fast. In the span of about 30 minutes I had scanned down a Class 2 wormhole right in Rens, got in to see a lone Probe (the ship) on scan, tried a site only to find out the second spawn was too heavy for a 'Cane, warped back to the exit wormhole only to see the Probe 10km away, with probes out, immobile. So I taught this day-old newbie the lesson of "never go afk in 0.0" by blowing him up and podding him. I didn't get a convo or eve-mail so he must still be wondering what the hell happened. I went back to Rens to re-ship to my Broadsword to see what I could catch, but when I saw a Muninn land at the edge of my bubble I decided I wanted to keep my HIC a bit longer. Maybe I could have out-tanked him, but maybe he had buddies. So I went back to Frarn to do another mission or two, and this is where the fun really started.

I was happily chewing away on some Angels when another Probe appears not too far from me, with the distintive yellow cross-bones tag, and not only that but he's clearly looking for a fight as he turns red. Fully knowing what may happen after I say "fuck it" and give him a volley that sends him in half armor and he warps off. All is quiet until a few minutes later a red Cyclone appears on my overview, and settles about 50km away from me. Just enough time to recall my drones and dock up for a PvP ship; good thing I came to Frarn in my Vagabond!

Right away I headed for Frarn I at a bit farther than zero and issued my challenge in Local. Sure enough the Cyclone came, but as I put the burn on to start my death spiral he noticed he wasn't dealing with the usual average mission runner and he made himself scarce. Hrmph... disappointed I was, and made him know in Local I did. I toured the planets looking for him but to no avail. I gave him another challenge at Frarn I and this time he commited himself and the Dance of Death started. He had arrived very close to me and I was afraid he might have a web fitted, but apparently not as I was able to get to my ranged orbit without any trouble. So out went the drones and the autocannons started to sing. As per a Cyclone's bonuses he had a shield-boosting setup that my guns and drones had a hard time to crack, but he was having just as hard a time because I was flying at the edge of Barrage and disruptor range. Next thing he did was to NOS and neut my Warrior IIs and set his own drones on killing 'em. Well, knowing that those drones would be on me once their task was done I switched my overview to my drones tab and started killing his more dangerous Hammerhead IIs from a safe distance. When he noticed that he set his drones on me at first, but then reconsidered and returned 'em to bay. He did have to deal with my own drones so he had to pull 'em out, and each time he did he popped a few of mine and I popped a few of his, until it came down to guns. And the only thing that allowed me to break his active tank was to overheat my guns. The good part was he wasn't hitting me as hard as I was hitting him so eventually something was going to have to break. And after some careful overheating to make sure the guns wouldn't just die, I finally got his armor and now my shots were really hurting him, while his couldn't get rid of my shields. After what seemed like an eternity (13 minutes in reality) the inevitable finally happened, and Packard Goose was victorious.

This epic duel left both of us drunk on excitement at the ups and downs and we had a good chat in the aftermath, and of course all the banter that preceded the battle was put aside. Yarr wanted to recruit me to his corp, as a PvP instructor of all things! I told him about my reluctance to join a corp just yet, plus he has a bit more piracy in mind than I do; I mean I'm not into can flipping to look for a fight. I also told him about my BOZO past and he seemed to be interested. I pointed him towards the website and the in-game recruitment channel but after that it's up to them.

So all in all, I couldn't have asked for a better way to spend Christmas Eve in EVE. I made some good money, did some exploration and got a kill out of it, picked up the glove someone had slapped me with and showed that I was the wrong pilot to flip a can on. An awesome boost of confidence this is!

Merry Christmas, fly safe, but become dangerous when the time comes


Monday, December 21, 2009

'Tis the season to be jolly

Even though I don't fly with 'em anymore, I still see it as a duty to pimp the craziest podcast ever...

Smack that link in local weather PvPing, buying stuff in Jita (no worries, I got Rens covered!), or mining a big fat chunk of veldspar.

PS: Dante, if by any chance you're reading this, you may want to stay away. I've been told that this podcast is a huge hentai tentacle sex monster.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Learning Cliff

OK, back to EVE Online now. Yesterday I gave myself some time to do some trade alt stuff as well as add a skill to Cozmik's skill queue. I have finally finished a lengthy PvE skill; Salvaging V was a bitch but it's out of the way forever. I know I didn't really have to push it that far because it is used only on Sleeper battleships in the deeper wormhole systems, but as there is a possibility that I may go back there I wanted it done. And now that it is done it's back to the meat and potatoes of a combat pilot, moar gunnery skills! Next in line is Sharpshooter V so I can get my T2 Large Artillery guns (already have autocannons), and then on to T2 Large Hybrids with a sprinkling of support skills; this will be followed by the purchase of a Megathron and/or Hyperion of course.

As I was mentionning in my latest post, and also telling my noob corpmate, I didn't feel like doing missions and I miss The PvP a little, so I said alright, let's do a basic PvP lesson. I'm not exactly great at lecturing and didn't have time to go too deep into the subject, but I wanted to cover some of the things that PvP veterans (which I still don't consider myself as) take for granted, like making bookmarks and safespots, high transversal speed approaches, scrambler vs disruptor, the effects of tracking, AB vs MWD, overview settings, that kind of stuff. In showing him the tackling approaches Si expressed the same wish I have and will always pray for even if it never makes it into the game: direct control over the ship instead of double-clicking all over the screen while turning the view. When I approached him from a 70 km distance to start a spiral that would end at my Taranis' optimal he overheard the clickfest I made over Skype and immediately asked me what the hell I was doing. When I told him what I did between the time I came out of warp to the time where the target is fucked, his only answer was "dude, I'm still learning the damn UI!". Yeah... I remember that feeling.

Not quite two years ago I was basically at the same point Si is in his career, but I had the advantage of a couple months of preparation for the monster that is EVE Online, and right off the bat I was thrown into a lion cage, and that cage got dumped into a pool of sharks, with frikkin' lazor beams I might add. The first roams I did I just couldn't shut up on Ventrilo because I had questions about everything, and at the same time receiving orders in broken english by some icelandic dude (hey Cerui!). When a target was called it was usually dead when I started approaching it, same thing with looting, and fleet engagements were usually a giant mess. But only two things helped me get better and that's time and practice.

But there's more than just practice to the learning cliff. A few days ago Si discovered the dangers of flying in Low-sec; he had bought a skillbook in a Pator Tech School, but the station wasn't in the system he thought. His brain was saying "Pator", but reality and the killmail say "Amamake"! For the record I will say that it was a pretty cheap kill though; a Harbinger was parked at the station undock point and was insta-popping frigs and destroyers coming out. Woo, big challenge there. I'm sure the pirate types reading this blog are better than this. But this lead into a discussion of fitting his next Thrasher... and OMFG that was scary. I know that Si is working towards my type of Minmatar/Gallente skill set, but this ship gave me the willies; when you hear "railgun", "heat sink", and "CPU usage rigs" while talking about the Minmatar destroyer, blood curdles and goosebumps appear. I'm happy to announce that this fit did not receive my approbation and the ship got the artillery treatment right away. But yes, I will need to have a beer with Si and do a good lecture on the wonderful tool that is EFT, and maybe show him Sisi so he can blow stuff up without consequence. Most probably this weekend.

Despite all the hardships of the learning cliff, Si Gong still has the will to go on and learn more about this great universe. I will keep on doing my best to keep him from hanging himself on that cliff, and avoiding that bulldozer pushing dead bodies off of it. When he started playing the game Si told me that he was never really big into reading forums and guides and stuff, but he's quickly discovering that EVE is not exactly like any other game he's played before. Let's hope I can make a scholar gamer out of him :)

Fly dangerous, and station games is for faggots.


PS: if you aren't familiar with the MMORPG Learning Curve, Google exactly those words.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Canyon Run

Yes I know, I've been out of EVE a lot lately. Like it always has, missioning does get to me and I have to stop doing it for a while, even if the ISK is good now. But this time I didn't get away from it by doing PvP or doing something else in EVE. I needed to get away from mouse-click space flight altogether, and turned back to flying real-life simulated aircraft through real-life simulated terrain. And when I say through, I really mean through:

I mentioned a few times before that I was a VWE Red Planet master pilot, and since that game is either dead or impossible to play (the closest Tesla pod to Montreal must be about 2000 miles away) the only way I could get the same kind of challenge was in flight simulators. The idea to go Ludicrous Speed at river level from Grand Canyon West airport to Page Municipal airport, with an obligatory victory roll over Glen Canyon Dam of course, came to me as I was reading some Flight Sim forums and some guy was posting shots of low flying in the canyon to show off some nice textures he had added along with a near perfect terrain mesh. All this was nice but he was flying something safe and carebearish like a Piper Cub or a Cessna 172 or something. Well shit... maybe I didn't have the fancy looking terrain but I decided that it sure wouldn't matter if I was whizzing by at Mach 1.2 in something a bit more ballsy than a prop plane.

The first part of the "canyon learning" process was to find the right aircraft for the job. This being a simulation I stayed away from safer and slower aircraft so I could get the feel of canyon wall evasion right away. The first plane that went down there was the Avro CF-105 Arrow; again, may John Diefenbaker roast in a nasty part of Hell for killing this plane in the egg. But as beautiful and powerful as the Arrow is, it is just too powerful for some of the more technical parts of the canyon; going over Mach 2 is way too easy in this plane and slowing down with precision with rock walls 100 feet away was almost impossible. I had to "chicken out" a few times and climb out of the canyon, and of course had a few nasty slams (for the record, the only unrealistic thing about my flying is fuel consumption... simulation is awesome!). I tried many other aircraft: the MiG-31 Firefox from the movie of the same name had potential, but I wanted something from Real Life so I ruled it out, as well as some Star Wars and BSG fighters. As I expected, the really fast aircraft such as MiGs 21 and 25, the F-104 Starfighter, the F-15 and F-22 had a fat turning radius and because I wanted to hug the river those couldn't work. The smaller jets pointed the right way though: my first successful complete run was in a BAE Hawk, but this plane is not supersonic. My first run with supersonic stretches was done in a Northrop F-5B but I couldn't stay over Mach 1 very long and had to slow way down for the tight meanders west of Grand Canyon Intl airport. but I was on to something.

At that point I knew the "road" so to speak and had narrowed down the choice of aircraft to 3 models: the F-16 Falcon, the experimental YF-23, and the EFA Typhoon. The Falcon was the first step into Ludicrous territory, but it was very tricky to fly; if I had to do a quick correction to avoid a crash I could send the plane into an unrecoverable wobble which would end in either a crash or a pull-out. The YF-23 showed a lot of promise but something is messed up with the freeware aircraft file; after a few hard maneuvers the engines go nuts and even when you cut the throttle the plane goes over Mach 4... ya, not gonna work. If I ever find a better modeled YF-23 I will give it another shot. But the Typhoon though... ZOMG! Having nothing in common with its far-future Minmatar namesake, the Real Life 'Phoon is sleek and agile, maneuverable yet controllable, and all the time blinding fast. The best part: this plane is a dream to fly. High-speed corrections do not turn the plane into a death trap, and it shines even in slow flight as it's super easy to land where other fighter jets have to be almost run into the ground (the Arrow also had that feature. Keep burning Johnny...).

And today, it all came together. I've done many runs both successful and not before today but this one was worth writing about. Hell, some parts of it will be worth Fraps-ing. It will take time to do the video editing job but I saved the flight in FS Recorder so I have all the time in the world. Some stats about the flight: the recorded time is 1375 seconds (just over 22 minutes) and that includes the take-off from Grand Canyon West to landing and taxiing at Page Municipal, a 252.46 mile trip from the point where I dive into the canyon to the Glen Canyon Dam. Yes, I'm forever a nanofag! The slowest part of the trip was around 550 KIAS (knots, indicated air speed), and the screenshot above is on the fastest leg, where I was able to reach and hold Mach 1.5. I came close to hitting the ground or the Colorado river a few times but never did; I'd like to see the effect of the sonic shock wave though :)

So if you're like me and are into Flight Sims and speed, do yourself a favor and try this. It's the only way to fly!

Fly most unsafe


Edit: This post had to be done three times... I don't know what Blogger.com did to break the posting of pictures but it sucks the bags.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Happy Birthday BOZO!

I may have been struck with what you guys might call a terminal case of faggotry, but I'll never forget that I started playing this game seriously with you guys lighting the way.

I wish BOZO many more years of ass-kicking and face-raping.

Keep on flying deadly


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Dominion has arrived!

What I love:

  • Awesome looking planets, moons and backgrounds.
  • The new in-game browser and all the people on the forums yelling "OMGOMGOMG I'm posting from the IGB!"
  • The new and improved Fleet interface.
  • The new and improved EVE-mail.
  • The new look of the UI which is a lot easier on the eyes, IMHO.
  • An arty-fit Tempest with meta3 guns hitting for over 10000 HP damage O_O
  • A faction-fit/rigged Dramiel going 9850 m/s.
  • Seeing tons of people in some of my usually quiet channels and actually chatting for a change.
  • The fact that as the new sovereignty system takes hold there will be more people out mining and ratting in 0.0 than ever before..... >:)

The only thing that bugs me:

The Jukebox. Yes you can now play your own playlists, but getting to them is a bitch (no browse button). And anyway, I'm sure CCP wasted a lot of time there that could have been spent elsewhere.

But all in all a very good expansion. Thanks CCP for your great work!