Archive for May, 2009

The Travels of Erbo

Posted in General, Meme Propagation on May 28, 2009 by Erbo

the-travels-of-erboIn response to the new meme started by Kirith Kodachi, over at Inner Sanctum of the Ninveah, this is a representation of where I’ve traveled in New Eden.

The first major “hot spot” on this map is in Minmatar space (Metropolis and Heimatar), where Lexx and I operated, first as part of Chilled Solutions, then when we founded the Ralpha Dogs.  (The big glowing area there would be, generally, the area between Hek and Ogoten, with Vilur as its center point.)  The second is in Amarr space (Tash-Murkon and Domain), where we’ve spent most of our time in recent months.

The red area on the left is mainly the trail between Metropolis and Domain/Tash-Murkon, through Gallente and Caldari space, with a side trail up to Umokka (where Tony hangs out; we’ve done some business in the past).  The yellow trail on the far left leads to the New Eden system itself, where Selena and I visited once.  The yellow blob at upper left is the area around Cistuvaert, my starting system, which I left early on to travel to Ogoten and join my friends.  There’s one tiny blip into nullsec you can see, otherwise, not really anything outside of Empire.

Of course, you can’t see wormhole systems on this map, either. 🙂

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Surprise!

Posted in Storyline on May 28, 2009 by Erbo

Though they stumbled down the corridor leading to the hangar observation gallery, it wasn’t due to injury or intoxication.  Erbo just had a tough time keeping his hand over Selena’s eyes and guiding her as they walked, and Selena, of course, was trying to walk without seeing.

“This better be good,” she said, “or I’m gonna smack you one!”

“Relax,” responded Erbo.  “We’re here.” He gently guided her to the window-wall of the observation gallery, and then removed his hand from her eyes.

A little tough to gift-wrap.

A little difficult to gift-wrap.

Below them, in the hangar, lay a large, bluish metallic vessel, rectangular in dimensions and massive in size.  Antenna masts protruded from one end; on the other, a large, winged tower structure rose up, and a double row of massive engines could be seen aimed along the vessel’s centerline.  Selena, of course, recognized it immediately as an Orca-class industrial command ship, the latest commercial design from Outer Ring Excavations Corporation, combining various racial technologies into a vessel fit to oversee any mining operation.  That sight led her to make an assumption.

“What are you showing me the Janne Wirman for?” she asked.  “I know what it looks like.”

“Um, sweetie,” said Erbo, “better look again.  That’s not the Wirman.”

Selena squinted…and made out the letters painted on the bow of the massive ship, which must have been five meters in height but were dwarfed by the ship’s sheer dimensions:

SELENA’S GIFT

“You didn’t!” she said.

“Check your NeoCom,” said Erbo.  “You’ll be able to verify it.”

She brought up the NeoCom, keying in an inquiry on the ship.

CONCORD REGISTRY CXRS-225890128832
VESSEL NAME: SELENA’S GIFT
VESSEL TYPE: ORCA (INDUSTRIAL COMMAND SHIP)
REGISTERED TO: SELENALORE EVANS, RALPHA DOGS INC

“Oh, honey…” she said, turning away from the window-wall to face Erbo.  “You didn’t have to!”

“I know how much you’ve wanted one,” said Erbo.  “And we’ve been doing so well on wormhole salvage recently, we’ve more than paid for this ship.  Besides, I picked up a good deal at Amarr.”  He smiled, recalling how he’d carefully slipped away in a Minmatar shuttlecraft, traveling several jumps to pick up the vessel and its fittings from the brokers at the Emperor Family Academy station.

As Selena turned to look down at the ship again, he brought up his own NeoCom, displaying a block diagram of the ship fitting.  “The fit is based on the Wirman, but I modified the shield modules so you’d have the skill to fly her.  The important parts, like the mining links and the survey scanner, are all the same.  I loaded up the drone bay with Hammerhead II’s, ‘cos I know those are your favorite.” He grinned.  “She’s fully insured and ready to fly.  Of course, you don’t have to keep the name, you can change it if you want…”

He was interrupted by Selena launching herself at him, her momentum propelling him against the back wall of the observation gallery as her lips met his in a long kiss.

From the side of the gallery, a passing Gallente hangar technician paused just long enough to get a good view of the liplocked pair.  He chuckled to himself as he strolled on.  “Crazy capsuleers…”

Greed Is Good, Greed Works

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

Welcome to the eighth 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 Ga’len at The Wandering Druid of Tranquility.  He asks: “What new game mechanic or mechanics would you like to see created and brought into the EVE Online universe and how would this be incorporated into the current game universe?  Be specific and give details, this is not meant to be a ‘nerf this, boost my game play’ post like we see on the EVE forums.”

. . .

Erbo Evans, speaking for the Ralpha Dogs and crediting Cain Jacobi with the idea for this post.

With as rich and dynamic a game element as EVE’s player-driven market is–complete with CCP’s own Ph.D. economist, “Dr. EjyoG,” to keep tabs on it–there are a few elements that could make it even more rich and dynamic.  To wit: The concept of financial services.

Start with banks.  We already have a number of player-run banking organizations, such as EBANK; is there any reason why NPCs couldn’t get in on the action as well?  There are currently several NPC corporations that are described as “banks,” namely the Bank of Luminaire (Gallente), Garoun Investment Bank (Gallente), Intaki Bank (Syndicate), and the State and Region Bank (Caldari).  What if these corporations, and possibly others, had a “banking agent,” where you could go to create deposit accounts, or negotiate with them for a loan for that new battleship you’ve had your eye on?  In the latter case, what if the chances of a loan approval, and/or your interest rate, depended on the standing you (or your corporation, if you’re negotiating on behalf of them) had with that agent, or the corporation, or the associated faction?  What if defaulting on a payment lowered your standing, and became another way to “turn outlaw”?  (Yeah, some people might try to “game the system” in this respect.  But people “game the system” all the time in real life, too.)  A banking system that was “guaranteed safe” might motivate players to make more use of it than they do of the existing player-run banks…which you can never be sure aren’t scams.  Would player-run banks have to “compete” for business by offering greater return in exchange for the (perceived) greater risk?

Beyond that…We have this concept of “shares” in a corporation, but we have no mechanism where they can be traded openly, on the market or through contracts.  What if we had an actual stock market as part of the existing market, where shares of corps could be listed?  A corporation that had been engaging in successful business for awhile could float an “initial public offering” of stock to raise money, and thereafter other players could invest in corps that were known to be successful.  This could provide the basis for whole new levels of gaming and metagaming within EVE, offering opportunities for, not just moneymaking, but skulduggery of all sorts.  Imagine, for instance, people investing in Goonfleet as a “solid investment,” then someone managing to enlist a group of Goonfleet investors in a “proxy fight” to wrest control of the corp from Darius JOHNSON?  If it sounds farfetched…well, did the infiltration and dissolution of the Band of Brothers Alliance sound any less farfetched, before it actually happened?  In actual practice, Goonfleet might choose to remain closely held, forming a number of “daughter” corporations for various purposes and unloading the minor interest in each to gain funds…but perhaps opening the daughter corporations up to influence from others opposed to the parent corp’s mission.  Naturally, there’s tradeoffs everywhere.

From here, you could extrapolate the whole financial system we have in the modern-day world, including a number of things that have gotten people and companies in trouble: derivative securities, subordinated debentures, venture capital, hedge funds, collateralized debt obligations, credit default swaps, and all manner of things that would make Gordon Gekko and his ilk rub their hands with glee.  But I think that’s quite enough for one day.

“The point is, ladies and gentlemen, that greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right. Greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms – greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge – has marked the upward surge of mankind…”

. . .

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

Talking A Corpmate Down

Posted in General on May 22, 2009 by Erbo

An exchange between me and Cassius, via Twitter DM, the day after he ventured into lowsec and got a Drake shot out from under him by pirates (certain details redacted):

Erbo: [Pirate corp] has your killmail up: [killmail link]

Cassius: oh for real? That sucks… well…. there goes my day encompassed by my humiliating defeat

Cassius: can we go to war with them?

Erbo: I would advise against it. They’d probably make mincemeat out of us.

Cassius: grrrrr….. I want their heads on a flippin silver platter . . .

Cassius: first they attack me when I am engaged in combat then they have the nerve to do this? It is humiliating

Erbo: Well, ALL corps who do PvP regularly have killboards. If we did PvP, we’d have one, too.

Erbo: And as for going after them, they have numbers and they have PvP experience. We have neither.

Erbo: Wardec them? We might as well tape bacon to our heads and walk into a tiger pit…*

Erbo: [Pirate] later lost the [fancy faction cruiser] she killed you with, but it took *5 guys* to bring her down: [killmail link]

Cassius: gah sorry… just not happy with the way things have gone…

* Thanks to John Scalzi for this evocative phrase.

The Big Sleep

Posted in Storyline on May 22, 2009 by Erbo
Amarath following Mozart, System J163743

Amaranth following Mozart, System J163743

Planet I, Star System J100640 – Location: UNKNOWN

The orange sunlight of the system glinted off Amaranth‘s hull as Erbo waited at the “rally point.”  One by one, other Ralpha Dogs pilots cruised into high orbit around the planet with him…Selenalore in Mozart, Cassius flying the CSS Katana, and Cain Jacobi in the Halcyon.  His survey of the detectable anomalies in the star system was complete; now it remained only to have a look.

The previous night, they had all (save Cain, who had been busy elsewhere) explored System J163743, taking on Sleeper frigates and cruisers.  The three encounters had yielded much in the way of loot and salvage, all of it unrecognizable by the standards of known space…and all of it valuable.  That star system, according to an intelligence database Erbo had acquired, had been designated as “minimal threat”; the one they were currently in was rated as “minimal-to-moderate” on the threat scale.

The week before, in another wormhole system, they had tried to take down the Sleepers, only to be confronted with a battleship-sized vessel that made short work of two battlecruisers.  Erbo, who had had a Myrmidon shot out from under him, wasn’t anxious to repeat the experience.  But they were better prepared now, with intelligence, equipment and skill.

A style not seen for a thousand generations.

A style not seen for a thousand generations.

The fleet warped, first, to the wormholes present in this system.  One of course, led back where they had come from; of the others, one led into high-security space in the Genesis region, and the other led to another unknown star system cataloged as “dangerous.”  Erbo noted these on his chart of the region, then, at Cain’s suggestion, the fleet warped to the two asteroid belts in the system.

As they dropped out of warp, Erbo could hear an audible gasp over the communications net.

“Would you look at these rocks!” said Cain, who hadn’t personally seen one of these belts before.  Erbo grinned, noting the presence of a number of rare ores, including the “ABC” group of the rarest three, arkonor, bistot, and crokite.  He hoped they’d have the time for a mining run later.

In the second belt, they found they were not alone.  Five Sleeper frigates awaited unwary visitors, and Erbo suddenly realized that Amaranth was uncloaked, and could not cloak because the other ships were too close–and he was being targeted!

“Bugging out!” he yelled over the com, triggering warp drive to get back to the wormhole entrance.  He succeeded, though not before being hit with a pair of hefty volleys, blowing through his shields and scorching off some of the armor plate.  Behind him, he could hear the sounds of battle coordination over the com channel, as the three battlecruisers began taking down the frigates.

Erbo raced back to the station where they’d opened an office, getting Amaranth repaired and jumping in a battlecruiser of his own, Cydonia Mensae, but, by the time he could get back to J100640 and the asteroid belt, the battle was over, and even the wrecks had mostly been salvaged by Selena.  Now, though, she and Cassius were eager for real combat.

“Ralpha Dogs, listen up,” said Erbo.  “We’re heading for a perimeter outpost.  Give me a Go-NoGo for warp.  Selena!”

“Go!” reported Selena.

“Cassius!”

“Go!”

“Cain!”

“Go!”

“And I’m Go.  Stand by for warp.”

He activated the fleet warp, and the Ralpha Dogs streaked towards the ancient site.  Was it his imagination, or did he hear an unearthly scream over the com systems?

Beautiful but deadly.

Beautiful but deadly.

The guardians on duty included two cruisers and a pair of heavy sentry guns.  The guns targeted Erbo as he quickly designated them on the tactical display. “Gun Alpha is primary. Gun Alpha is primary.”

The ships opened fire, and the space was soon alive with railgun slugs, laser beams, and flying missiles.  Nimble drones, Hammerheads and Valkyries, flew forth from Erbo’s and Selena’s ships to do battle.  The gun exploded…and then a new blip appeared on the threat display.

A big, fat blip.

“Sleeper battleship!” he called.  “Bug out!”

“We can take him!” called Cassius.

“I’m hurt!” reported Selena.

“Bug out!” repeated Erbo, as his own shields and armor were quickly assaulted by the battleship’s mighty weapons.  He and Selena managed to reach warp, returning to the “rally point.”  A short time later, Cassius and Cain joined them.

“I got most of the escorts,” reported Cain.  “As soon as we’re ready, we can take out that battleship.”

“We’ve got to try,” said Erbo, keeping an eye on his shield levels and capacitor.  He knew Selena would be doing the same.  Cassius reported his own shields charged back to 100% long before his display reported even as high as 90%.

Finally, after what seemed an agonizing wait, they went back.  The battleship was still there.

Four targeting computers locked onto it.  Four ships opened fire.

The Sleeper vessel seemed confused, switching back and forth between targets.  Erbo moved closer to Selena, using his remote armor repair system to support her armor tank, as weapons continued to fire and the damage indicators on the Sleeper crept upward.

“He’s in structure, he’s in structure!” called Erbo. “Stay with him! Stay with him!”

Finally, the combined onslaught of laser beams, rail guns, Havoc and Thunderbolt missiles, and ten T2 drones was just too much for the battleship.  It exploded in a shower of sparks.

“Battleship DOWN!” called Erbo, as jubilant war cries echoed across the com circuit.  The remaining two cruiser-sized escorts and sentry gun held out for awhile before they, too, fell, and Erbo was finally able to sound the all-clear.

. . .

There was good luck to be had in the next two encounters as well.  Cain had to drop out of the fleet and head for base, pleading fatigue, but the other three continued the fight, destroying a second battleship in the next area.

In the third, just as one battleship was destroyed, a second appeared on the scene.  The three had to withdraw to the rally point and regroup again.  CSS Katana had sustained armor damage that round, so Erbo gave it a boost with the remote repper to get it back to 100%.

When Erbo finally called a halt to the operation so the three of them could sleep, they had cleared three areas and destroyed a total of four battleships, along with an untold number of cruisers and frigates.  And he was sure the loot and salvage from this operation would prove just as valuable as that from the previous night, if not more so.

“Well done, everyone!” he called over the com channel.

Cydonia Mensae slid into dock, and he made sure everything was taken care of–loot unloaded, drones repaired, ammunition and cap charges topped off–before finding Selena and heading back to their quarters.

Greetings From Sunny J104626

Posted in Storyline on May 3, 2009 by Erbo

Star System Designated: J104626 – Location: UNKNOWN

The wormhole flared briefly as the Amaranth emerged from it, fresh from the Riramia system in Tash-Murkon space.  Erbo looked around, thinking, For all I know, I am the first human to lay eyes on this system…at least, since the Times of the Ancients. It was awe-inspiring, if a little scary.

Short-range omni-scan indicated that there were no other vessels or structures in his vicinity, so he engaged the command to warp to an orbit around one of the system’s central planets.  Once there, he launched four probes in quick succession, deploying them in a cruciform scanning configuration, while he activated Amaranth‘s powerful cloaking device.

Wish you were here...NOT!

Wish you were here...NOT!

Almost immediately, the probes reported back several sites…four hard target locks, five that would require further scanning.  Erbo quickly fell into the routine of isolating and localizing each of the unknown signals, as he had been doing back in “real” space.

The first site he found was an asteroid belt, and, prospector by nature that he was, Erbo warped to it to have a look.  The sight astounded him…there were asteroid ores here he’d never seen.  Hemorphite…gneiss…dark ochre…crokite…arkonor!  He briefly wished that he’d brought the Hulk, Tourmaline King, now sitting in his hangar back in Jarzalad.

From the belt, he adjusted the probes, setting them to scan down the other signatures.  The next three turned out to be wormholes, one of which looked like it was the one he’d entered through.  The last one returned a magnetometric signature, indicating a site for archaeological exploration.  Perhaps the new analyzer module he’d fitted earlier that day would see some use…

He retrieved the probes, turned off the map display…and realized he was not alone.  Three unknown vessels had entered the belt, and were close–dangerously close!  He warped away from the belt with mere seconds to spare, heading for the archaeological site.  That site, originally built by the Talocans, turned out to be heavily guarded, by at least two cruiser-class Sleeper drones and a number of frigate-class drones, so he left without uncloaking.

Erbo next investigated the three wormholes.  One of these was the one he’d come through, as he had suspected.  The other two led back into “real” space as well, one to star system RQ9-OZ in the Venal region, the other to Halmah, a low-security system in the Devoid region of Amarr space.

It’s a pity this knowledge won’t be useful much longer, he thought to himself, heading back for the initial wormhole and returning to Riramia system.  That wormhole will probably have collapsed by tomorrow, most likely taking this whole system with it.  Still, it’s served a useful purpose; I’ve now completely surveyed a wormhole system…and laid the groundwork for a longer stay, someday.

He lined up on the gate to Pimsu and triggered warp, heading back for a well-deserved rest.