Archive for February, 2009

Me, Myself, and I

Posted in EVE Blog Banter on February 26, 2009 by Erbo

Welcome to the fifth installment of the EVE Blog Banter, the monthly EVE Online blogging extravaganza created by CrazyKinux. The EVE Blog Banter involves an enthusiastic group of gaming bloggers, a common topic within the realm of EVE Online, and a week to post articles pertaining to the said topic. The resulting articles can either be short or quite extensive, either funny or dead serious, but are always a great fun to read! Any questions about the EVE Blog Banter should be directed here. Check out other EVE Blog Banter articles at the bottom of this post!

This month’s topic comes to us from Mynxee of Life in Low Sec. She asks “Alts and Metagaming: Is playing two accounts who are logged in at the same time and work together (hauler/miner, explorer/combat associate, trade alts in trade hubs) a form of metagaming that is “ruining the game”?

. . .

Erbo Evans, speaking for the Ralpha Dogs.

Alternate characters, or “alts,” form an important part of many MMO environments, and those of us that have come to EVE from Second Life, in particular, are no stranger to them.  I have two alts in SL myself, plus a third, “shared” alt that is primarily used for managing the collection of rent for our land business there.  Both Lexx and Selena have more than that. 🙂

Alts may be created for many reasons, both serious and frivolous, and, in fact, their raison d’etre may change over time.  One of my SL alts, for instance, was created to be a “third” in a land-ownership group (before Linden Lab changed groups to only require a minimum of 2 members, rather than 3), but has since evolved into a much different role.  Many of Selena’s alts represent different facets of her RL personality; one of them, in fact, was created to be my companion in SL, around the time we fell in love.  (That event is described here.)

On a practical level, the creation of alts can represent a substantial investment of resources.  Creating Selena’s “Erbo companion” alt in SL, for instance, required expending over L$10,000 (which is around US$37) to properly outfit her with all the goods required to give her the right image.  (For those of you who know SL, you know about all the stuff you need for your avatar.  For the rest of you, just take my word for it.)  In EVE Online, the main investment required in creating an alt is the time to train his/her skills up to the point where he/she is actually useful…and, to do so, one must either suspend training on one’s main character, due to CCP’s restrictions associated with multiple characters on the same account, or pay for a second account.  Most alt-creators in EVE, I’m given to understand, do the latter, as limiting your main for the sake of your alt is generally considered undesirable.

Then, too, in order to make effective use of an alt, you either have to run two instances of EVE on the same machine, or have a second machine capable of running EVE.  Again, the former is often a suboptimal solution, as it can cause unacceptable lag, so I gather many people opt for the latter.

But is it “ruining the game”?  I would argue that, if someone has the RL resources to invest in a solution like this, it’s not “cheating” per se, any more than my financing the Ralpha Dogs by dealing in GTCs/PLEXs is. (Of course, some people, such as Biomassed, do view GTC/PLEX dealing as “unfair,” to a degree. It’s a matter of opinion, I suppose, and made for a lively back-and-forth on Twitter.)  Does it give some people advantages other people don’t have?  Well, yes, but theoretically, the other person could do it, too.  And, if there’s one game whose philosophy is to let players do whatever the hell they want so long as they don’t exploit bugs to gain unfair advantages, it’s EVE.

That said, as far as I know, no member of the Ralpha Dogs currently uses an alt on a regular basis.  Some people with our friends the Hauling Hogs, however, do, and, in fact, I’ve supplied GTCs for those alts on occasion.  Would I, speaking for myself, do it?  If I had the resources, sure, I’d consider doing it.  Part of it is, I currently pay for two EVE accounts already (mine and Selena’s), plus supply GTCs for more ISK for the corp, and I don’t quite have the money to support an alt at this time.  I’d also have to come up with another computer that’s capable of running EVE, and since the only machines in the house that aren’t currently running EVE are Linux-only, that could be a problem…

But if someone else wants to use an alt, I wouldn’t want to stop them.  That’s not the EVE way.  The EVE way is to do the best you can with the resources you have to work with.  And we’re doing pretty well with our resources, I’d say.  One day, we may employ alts to do better still, but that is for the future to decide.

Wrought in deepest Hell, our vengeance is freedom!

. . .

Other articles published from around the EVE Blogosphere (links will be updated here as new posts are added):

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It All Sounds Like Some Bad Movie

Posted in He Said-She Said, Storyline on February 22, 2009 by Erbo

Erbo stared at Alaz Chaktaren, agent for the Amarr Imperial Navy, as if she’d suddenly sprouted three heads.  “You need us to fetch what?

“The daughter of a prominent Holder,” responded the haughty Amarrian.  “She is attempting to elope with a Gallente holo star.  This is unacceptable to her family or to the True Faith, as she has already been betrothed to a young Amarrian man of proper social standing.  We need you to bring her back, by any means necessary.”  She leaned closer to Erbo, who caught a whiff of some unsavory Amarr cuisine on her breath.  “And, if her swain can be properly ‘neutralized’…so much the better.”  She laughed, a throaty laugh that gave Erbo the creeps.

Erbo briefly considered turning down the mission.  After all, who was he to get in the way of true love?  And he didn’t relish the thought of taking on ships and soldiers of his own kind.  But they, and the Ralpha Dogs, desperately needed to raise their standing with the Amarr, if only to avoid getting blasted out of the sky when trying to operate near their own corporate headquarters.  Frack it, he thought to himself.

“You can count on us, ma’am,” he responded.  “We’ll get her.”

“Excellent,” said Chaktaren.  “Go, and may God be with you.”

Depends on which God you mean, thought Erbo as he exited the office.

. . . . .

Docking control released the two Myrmidon battle cruisers, Syria Planum and Mystic Nightmare II, and they began drifting down and away from the Youl logistics station.

“I don’t much like the sound of this,” said Selenalore, over the private comm channel.  “We’re going against our own kind again; how’s that gonna affect our standings with them?”

“Probably not enough to worry about,” said Erbo offhandedly.  “Now, let’s go.  Prepare for warp.” He triggered the command that started both ships warping, away from the Amarr station and towards the “Rent-A-Dream Pleasure Gardens,” a Gallente facility operating under franchise in local space.

“We’ve got company,” he said as they came out of warp.  “Remember, try to target the destroyers in each wave last, as they send the signal for the next wave.”

“I’ll do my best, but I ain’t gonna be able to stop it if my drones decide to shoot,” said Selena.

“Do the best you can,” responded Erbo.  “Three targets, inbound.  Engage.”

The railguns on both battle cruisers spit fire as two swarms of drones rushed to the attack.  In short order, those three ships fell, as did another group of four ships that appeared immediately thereafter.  As the second destroyer flared and died, another ship warped in.  Erbo recognized it immediately as a luxury model of Gallente cruiser–exactly what a famous holo star would be flying.

“There they are,” he said.  “Target that ship and fire!

As the iridium slugs began striking the shields of the cruiser, the general frequency began crackling to life.  “Please…stop! Cease fire!” cried a feminine voice over the comm systems.  “You can’t take me back there! I’m pregnant! The baby’s his! You–“

“What?” came Selena’s voice over their comm channel.

“Disregard that transmission,” ordered Erbo. “Continue firing.”

The cruiser flared as its shields died under the unceasing impact and its armor was ripped away.  Finally, succumbing to the onslaught, it was ripped apart by a fireball.  A standard cargo container popped free of the wreckage and drifted some five thousand meters away from the attackers.

“I’ve got the container,” called Erbo, locking target on it and engaging the tractor beam to bring it in to his ship.  The container contained another, smaller container…a suspended-animation capsule, in which a young Amarrian woman slept, her face frozen into a look of anguish.  Probably for the best, thought Erbo.

“No life signs from the cruiser,” reported Selena.  “I think her boyfriend is dead.  Boy, the Gallenteans are gonna be pissed.”

“Probably not,” said Erbo, “You know those holo stars; most of them tend to think with their dicks.  I expect it’ll make a nice juicy splash of scandal on the tabloid news channels, and then they’ll forget it.”

As they moved to salvage the wrecks of the Gallente vessels, as was their usual practice, Erbo spoke again.  “So…the silly little bitch was pregnant.  With his child, no less.  Selena, this is starting to sound like one of your romance holonovels.”

A cynical laugh came over the channel.  “Well…not all of those stories can have happy endings.” The channel didn’t show it, but Erbo suspected Selena was looking daggers at him; her taste for cheap Gallente romance holonovels was legion.

“I dunno,” Erbo said.  “They’ll probably kill her, for all I know.  Do you know if the Amarr practice honor killings?”

“I have no way of knowing,” came the response.  “But you never can tell with the Amarr.  We can’t really understand them.  We’re Gallentean, after all.”

Some days, thought Erbo as they prepared to warp back to the Amarr station, I wonder how much that really means these days.

. . . . .

“We’ve brought the girl back,” said Erbo, once again standing before the desk of Alaz Chaktaren.  “She’s in suspended animation.”

“Outstanding,” responded Chaktaren. “You are indeed a faithful Amarr; your reputation will only benefit from the work you have done.”

“Um…” replied Erbo. “Begging your pardon, ma’am, but we’re actually Gallente by origin.”

Chaktaren looked more closely at Erbo, her eyebrow lifted. “Indeed? So I see.” She tapped some keys on her console. “It matters not.  You are doing the work of the Lord, and you shall be duly rewarded for it.  In this life, as well as in the next.”

Indeed, the reward was substantial, as Erbo later found out, not only in ISK, but in added standing with the Amarr.  Still, he felt a little dirty for earning those rewards in such a manner.

For the good of the corporation, he thought to himself, heading back towards the docking bays.  That’s why we do it.

But he was less than comforted.

EVE is Down…

Posted in Downtime, Expansions, General on February 18, 2009 by Erbo

And poor Selenalore is at a loss for what to do with herself. 🙂

So, while we wait, have a look at this rough cut of the new intro movie that will be in the EVE client as of Apocrypha, which is made out of 100% Pure Grade-A Certified Mil-Spec AWESOME:

Two words: Boo. Yah.

Real Money Dealings

Posted in General on February 15, 2009 by Erbo

One of the ways I help out the Ralpha Dogs’ corporate finances, as well as my own, is by buying EVE Game Time Codes, for money, and reselling them in EVE, for ISK.  Some may consider this “cheating,” but CCP clearly doesn’t, directly supporting it through the Secure Time Code Exchange facility of the Web site, and, more recently, through the PLEX 30-day license objects in-game.  Doing it this way, no one gets cheated, and everyone gets fair value for value received, including CCP.

I’ve dealt on the open market, including using the PLEX system (which works well enough), but my main customers are members of the Hauling Hogs, a corp with which we’ve been friendly all our existence.  I sell to them at a discount from market rates; it benefits both them and us.  Besides, Shuckstar, the CEO of the Hogs, is nice to us in a bunch of other ways.  If we ever found an alliance, it’ll be our two corps at the core of it; neither I nor Lexx would have it any other way.

My GTC supplier is EVETimeCode.com, one of the big GTC sellers out there.  I tried another company first, but they balked at approving my initial order.  The EVETimeCode people have never failed me, not even the first time.  Recommended to anyone who needs GTCs.

Different MMO environments have different attitudes towards real-money trading.  Some, like EverQuest and World of Warcraft, flatly ban it and stomp on it whereever it occurs.  At the other end of the spectrum, Linden Dollars from Second Life have pretty much always been freely convertible to and from real-world currency.  CCP has taken a middle-of-the-road approach here that works out pretty well for everyone.  Oh, it’s a truism that “every general prohibition creates its bootleggers,” and there are any number of people that sell MMO items and currencies outside the rules, including in EVE; cruise through any major trade hub while the ISK-selling spammers are out in force to see for yourself.  Me, I jump for the “Block” command whenever I see one of those guys.

If you’ve got the money, GTC dealing can be an effective way to finance your corp’s, or your personal, operations in EVE.  Happy trading!

Missions and More Missions

Posted in He Said-She Said, Storyline on February 11, 2009 by selenalore

[… speaks and the computer recorder kicks on and starts recording the voice of  Selenalore …]

“Eve Log – date 2009.02.11 – Year 106 of New Eden”

[… as Selenalore starts to speak, you can hear old music of Paula Abdul in the background …]

I know it’s been a while since I’ve recorded anything, but there’s a reason for that. [.. laughs softly ..]

We’ve been doing missions for both Caldari and Amarr recently, to help get our standings up with them so that we don’t wind up getting shot out of the sky in Amarr space where our HQ is located now.  We’ve been going through a number of Amarr Corporations and one Caldari Corporation.

Of the Amarr, we’ve been doing missions for the Tash-Murkon family, and just recently started doing missions for the Amarr Navy Logistics Corp., and as for the Caldari, we’ve been doing some missions for the CBD and the KK Corps.  Once we had our diplomacy up to a five, we were finally able to start doing the missions for the Amarr.

[… there’s a brief silence with Paula playing in the background as Selenalore moves around …]

The missions we understand are repeated, but there were some new ones we hadn’t done, and we’d been sticking to administration missions and such, and eventually we moved on to legal and finally to command.  The command missions I like better, I don’t know about Erbo though, you’ll have to find out from him. [.. laughs softly again ..]

Anyways, there isn’t much I can talk about since there isn’t much we’ve been doing, except missions and training.  I’m now able to fly Retrievers, and I’m now training to be able to fly a Hulk.  The training is going slow, but it’s better then doing nothing else.  I’ll eventually be getting into the training for the Orca, and such.

Anyways, that’s all from me for now, and I hope all have a wonderful time.  I’ll be around again and will start working on more recordings eventually.  Take care and clear skies everyone. [… sounds of Paula Abdul’s “Opposites Attract” is heard and then silence and the recording stops …]