Saturday, 20 September 2014

Basic Skills Training for Blockade Runners

As you may have noticed if you follow this blog much, I really like Blockade Runners. Blockade Runners are awesome, they're small, fast, agile, can warp while cloaked and cannot be cargo scanned, all of which makes them fantastic for hauling valuable not too bulky cargo around quickly and in relative safety.

Technically speaking you can get into a BR with just under 1 month of training. But that's just to sit in it, to fit and fly it half decently you need closer to 2 months worth of skills.

The following is the basic BR training plan I follow on all my alts.

The training time near the bottom of this post is for a new character with the default attribute map, no implants and no skills pre-trained except social I and contracting I. Of course you can lower training time with implants and attribute remaps.

Minmatar Industrial I - V
Industry I - V
Transport Ships I

The above are the 3 skills you must have just to sit in a blockade runner. They take 29 days, 15 hours and 56 minutes to train. I fly Prowlers so I train Minmatar Industrial, naturally if you want to fly a different flavor of BR you'd have to train the applicable racial industrial ship skill for that ship.

Transport Ships II - III
CPU Management IV
Cloaking I - IV
Power Grid Management IV

These 4 skills are pretty much essential too. You need Cloaking IV to fit a Covert Ops Cloaking Device and if you're flying a BR without a covert cloak you need to have your head checked. CPU Management IV is a prereq for Cloaking, you'll need Transport Ships III for the 20% per level reduction to cloaking devices CPU requirement and you'll have problems fitting your BR properly unless you have Power Grid Management IV too.

The rest are what I consider bare minimum skills to fit and fly a BR half decently. While you can get by with even lower skills and you could even skip some of them altogether, I wouldn't recommend either. It only takes another 10 days to train them all anyhow.

Hull Upgrades I - II
Capacitor Management I - III
Capacitor Systems Operation I - III
Electronics Upgrades I - III
Energy Grid Upgrades I - III
Acceleration Control I - III
Evasive Maneuvering I - III
Afterburner I - III
High Speed Maneuvering I - III
Warp Drive Operation I - III
Mechanics III
Jury Rigging I - III
Astronautics Rigging I - III
Shield Management I - III
Shield Operation I - III
Shield Upgrades I - III
Tactical Shield Manipulation I - IV

23 unique skills, 68 skill levels; Total time: 49 days, 2 hours, 2 minutes, 28 seconds; Cost: 35,305,500
N.B. Skill costs are based on CCP's database and are indicative only

This is just a basic training plan. After it's finished if you're going to use your BR very much I highly recommend training every skill in the plan to at least IV and several to V. Evasive Maneuvering, Navigation (which isn't in the basic plan since you start with Navigation III anyhow) and Warp Drive Operation should be the first skills trained to V. In fact after completing the basic plan I usually train Evasive Maneuvering IV and V before anything else because it's so important for fast align times.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Crime and Punishment in Eve Online

Being a criminal is too easy. Besides being too easy, gate camping / station camping is about as lame as it gets. Conflict should be moved away from the gates and stations, out to the belts, moons and anomalies while travel between gates and stations (in hi sec anyhow) should be relatively safe.

After all you'd think the mighty empires of space would protect the trade routes that are the lifeblood of the economies that made them mighty. Gankers camping the station undock in Jita is comparable to fleets of pirates sitting right off the docks of London picking off merchant galleons in the 1700s or 1800s. Britain wouldn't tolerate it and neither should the Caldari.

There should be more meaningful consequences for ganking in hi sec. Like for starters losing docking privileges, having cargo confiscated when caught by police or in extreme cases involving the most hardened criminals (the ones with the worst security status) having other assets confiscated too.

That could all be done on a system by system and faction by faction basis based on both security status and faction standings. The lower the security status and/or faction standing the more severe and more widespread the repercussions.

It shouldn't be at all easy for gankers to repair faction standings either, especially not as more crimes have been committed and standings get lower. Once faction standing is low enough, they should be a free target for other players that increases their killer's standing with the same faction. Criminals with low standing should be kill on sight for faction police / concord who will see them (even when cloaked) if they go anywhere near a hi sec gate or station. Escaping police should be allowed but if they fire back on the police then concord comes.

The hard lines between hi, low and null should be more blurred too. For example as system security status gets lower the police (backed up by concord) would still protect the gates and stations but be less likely to respond to trouble out in the belts. Say 100% in 1.0, 80% in 0.7-0.9, 50% in 0.6 and 40% in 0.5.

As system security gets lower there'd be fewer police around too, it would take them longer to find a criminal, making it easier for criminals to evade them. And of course Concord would respond more slowly too, just like now.

It'd be nice if there was a chance (even a small one, perhaps requiring a high level of criminal activity) of concord responding to trouble on the other side of a hi to low/null gate too. And once there, they'd stick around for a while too. Setting up a camp at chokepoints like EC-P8R, Auenenen or Gondista would suddenly be just a little bit riskier.


1. This started out as a comment I made on another blog that I figured was worth fleshing out a bit more and making a post out of.

2. With one exception (the other side of hi to low/null gates) all of this would apply to hi sec and hi sec only. Low and null would be another story.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

More Market History Shenanigans

Just the other day I posted this screenshot, showing market history for PLEX in the Forge.

While that post was about history numbers for the 14th, the screenshot also shows numbers for the 15th early in the day. Note the low price for the 15th was 755.6 million ISK and change. I checked market history several more times throughout the day and the low number didn't change.

Then the next day (today, the 16th) I checked prices again only to find this

The low number for the 15th had changed. Now it's higher, at 783 million and change.

Also note the low price for today (the 16th) is only 497 million. That had to be due to the way CCP's brain-dead order filling code works when someone makes a mistake entering a sell order otherwise it never would have sold that low with so many full regional range buy orders up at much higher prices (including my own full regional buy order).

No doubt that number will disappear after maintenance on the 17th and the edited low price for the day will magically wind up around 780 mil yet again.

Sure removing extreme outliers makes sense or better yet fix the brain-dead order filling code and most of those extreme outliers will go away. But 755 mil is not an extreme outlier, in fact it's within 5% of the reported average price of well under 793 mil.

I'll say it again. Fix the order filling code and most of the extreme outliers will disappear like magic, especially for high volume items in busy markets like The Forge.

One more time because it's fundamental, it's important and it would be extremely easy to do. Fix the brain-dead order filling code!

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Market History Lies

As I've said before, market history does NOT always reflect what really happens in the market.

Here's some more proof.

PLEX prices in The Forge (screenshot taken at Jita 4-4)

First off, according to market history there were 0 PLEX sold in The Forge on 2014-09-14. I know that for a fact that's completely out to lunch since I logged in several times throughout the day for the sole purpose of checking the price of PLEX on Jita.

Second, as recorded in my wallet transactions, I bought 5 PLEX myself on 2014-09-14. I'm also certain a bunch more sold to a large blocking order even lower than my own buy order since the stack size of that blocking order (which I've been watching quite closely) went down by at least 16 since earlier on the same day.

Third, I paid 33 million (and change) less for each of those 5 than market history says was the lowest price for the day. Yet history reports the low price for the very next day (the 15th) is even lower (by just 3 ISK). No, this isn't due to GMT time differences since both times are in game time (in fact it's still the 14th here in Canada as I'm writing this).

Fourth, how do you get non-zero low, high and avg numbers if there were no sales? That's something I see often with rare, low volume items that sell maybe 1 a week, month, or even less frequently. On those kind of items you'll see a whole bunch of 0 sales to 0 orders days with the occasional sale of 1 or 2 usually at a much lower price than the so called low, high and average prices.

I'd guess there was some kind of server error leading to the loss or corruption of market data for yesterday's PLEX sales and when that happens it defaults to numbers for the last day or average numbers for the last week/month or whatever. Not a big deal with high volume items like PLEX but a bad practice for more rare items that don't usually sell even 1 a week far less every day.

Obviously when there are no sales CCP must be substituting high/low/avg numbers derived from history in leiu of actual real data. In some cases it even looks like they might be using listed prices of items priced so high they are not selling and just sit there not selling for months. If they are using listed prices they should stop because not only is that very misleading, it's also highly subject to manipulation.

BTW, during the hour after I started writing this post, I sold 4 PLEX at 791 million each and bought another 3. After taxes and broker fees that's a little under 20 million profit per PLEX or about 2.5% profit at roughly 4.7% margin. Typical numbers for me in PLEX markets on the main hubs though I usually make at least 4-5%, sometimes as much as 10% or even a bit more in other places.

Considering I made nearly 80 million in an hour from PLEX alone on just one trader *without camping I have to wonder just how much ISK I could make per hour camping PLEX + a few other items on Jita during weekend prime time. Especially if I ground faction standings to chop another 1% off combined taxes and fees. It'd be interesting to find out but I hate camping and grinding.

Edit: After a short unscheduled server downtime now there is market history data for the 14th.

But the low price is still 27 million higher than I paid.

PLEX Price

For quite some time I've been saying the price of PLEX is bound to drop eventually. It's a bubble being pushed higher and higher by speculation and manipulation but that can't go on forever. Eventually it will drop and the higher it goes before dropping the further it will drop.

It might even crash hard, maybe even comparable to the real life gold crash of 1980.

The pundits keep telling me I'm wrong, the price of PLEX will always go up, any downswings are temporary and caused by the latest PLEX sale.

Yet I continue to see indications PLEX prices are on the way down.

The screenshot above shows the history graph of PLEX prices for the last 6 months on the Jita market. It's obvious the price has plateaued and dropped somewhat since early July. There have been a few price rallies but each rally has soon been followed by another drop. The price keeps going down.

I've also noticed particular orders that seemed to be there strictly for the purpose of price manipulation (keeping the buy price high that is) have been slowly disappearing. If they ever all disappear, particularly on Jita and the other main hubs, the price of PLEX will start dropping faster.

As an example, here are my PLEX purchases over a 6 hour period last night.

Both buy orders were completely filled (one for 6, the other for 5). I just wish I'd made them larger, particularly the one at 704 mil.

As far as I can tell someone big who was manipulating the price of PLEX to keep it high seems to be dropping out of that game. My guess is that someone is Somer.

Sure someone else could and very well might step up and start doing the same thing. The question is, is there anyone else with a big enough vested interest in keeping the price of PLEX high to sink trillions of ISK into doing it for little or no profit?

Somer undoubtedly had plenty of reason to keep the price high, *even if doing so cost them ISK. In fact the scheme that got them shut down in the end proved beyond a doubt they were perfectly willing to do that.

But who else has both the resources and the motivation to do the same?

Nobody I can think of, except maybe some of the largest corporations and alliances with huge memberships and PLEX sales affiliate links of their own. But I don't think any of them could generate anywhere near the number of affiliate link clicks and subsequent volume of PLEX sales that Somer could.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Dead Goons - A Token of support for their killers

I've decided to throw a little support behind one of Gevlon's Goon killing projects. I've made a small donation to Mordus Angels in support of their rebellion against the evil empire.

Here's a link to the Mordus Angels donation board for anyone else wanting to do the same.

It's a great cause so lend your support. Maybe one of you can bounce me out of the number 1 spot on the donation board.

UT 2014 News - Gameplay Video

The original Unreal Tournament (often referred to as UT99) was the first FPS game I really liked. I'd tried Quake, Quake 2 and 3 but I didn't much care for them. The first time I played UT I was hooked.

UT99 finally gave me a reason to put my beloved old Amiga 4000 to rest and buy my first PC clone.

I played UT99 until UT2k3 came out. I never liked 2k3 for a number of reasons but by far the biggest reason was double jumping. I hated double jumping. UT2k4 promised a return to a more UT99 style of gameplay but failed to deliver. Though 2k4 was an improvement in many ways it still had double jumping and I still hated double jumping.

When UT3 came out I wasn't going to be fooled again. This time my mind was made up beforehand, if double jumping was in the game I wouldn't be buying it. I could have lived with it being a mod like it was in UT99, or even an option as long as the default was off and most maps were designed to be played without double jumping. But double jump was in, on by default and all the maps were made for it and so I was out.

Then earlier this year the news broke that Epic was going to start developing a new version, UT 2014, only this time in conjunction with community developers (mappers, modders, etc.) and asking for input from the public on everything. I was quite skeptical but there was a nice looking artistic concept screenshot plus they had some very interesting things to say that caught my interest in spite of my skepticism and gave me reason to think they just might get it right this time. I made a post about that here.

Since then pre-alpha builds of the game have been released periodically. These builds are available to anyone for gameplay testing. Keep in mind these are very early builds (hence the pre-alpha designation) with pretty much everything subject to change. The maps are just basic BSP layouts without any texturing, static meshes, fancy lighting, or other atmospheric touches. Right now it's all about nailing down basic gameplay mechanics, the fancy stuff will come later.

Here's a link to Epic's official thread for downloading the latest pre-alpha build

Note you do have to register with Epic's forums in order to download the pre-alpha.

A gameplay video has also been released showing legendary Quake player Fatal1ty playing a couple different maps.

After watching the video I have to say gameplay looks extremely good at this point. I was especially pleased to note that double jumping doesn't seem to be in the game at all so far (YEA!!).

I hope it stays that way, if it does I'll definitely be checking it out once development is a little further along.

But if they put double jumping back in, my interest in UT 2014 will end right then and there. I'm pretty sure most UT99 fans will feel the same way too.

Finally there's a UT Movement Mechanics Design thread over at Epic's forums. This is the place for all us UT99 fans to make our voices heard and let Epic know just how badly double jumping ruined our game.