Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Operation Permafrost - I've Got Better Things To Do

Leading up to EVE Online's latest live event, Operation Permafrost, I was a bad blogger. Instead of hitting the Singularity test shard and testing the new content, I did things like check out the sales on Steam, watch YouTube videos of an interesting game called Command: Modern Air / Naval Operations, and play video games like Elder Scrolls Online and, of course, EVE. So I turned to other sources to get a preview of Operation Permafrost.

The first bit of information gleaned came from delonewolf, who ran the sites in a Praxis, rather unsuccessfully. No problem. From what I gathered from the video, I could dual box using a Maelstrom/Claymore combination, take out the battleships at range while cleaning up the cruisers as then came in close. Then I read an article on Imperium News about how the sites only spawned in one system per constellation. Ugh, travel time. But still, we've had events before where players had to cooperate and they worked fine. The killer, though, came from Twitter and Wilhelm Arcturus of The Ancient Gaming Noob.

No ore, no skill injectors. Still, I thought I should at least take a look at the sites. So I traveled from my favorite low sec system for mining and headed for my high sec base. My home constellation is a mix of high sec and low sec systems and, sure enough, the event was taking place in a low sec system. I'm not suicidal enough to dual box a Maelstrom and a Claymore in low sec, so I went back to mining in low sec.

I had a purpose for mining in low sec. I needed zydrine in order to build a Marshal. Yes, I'm still working on that project. Amazingly, though, I finally completed the task. Right now, the mineral bottleneck is I need tritanium and mexallon. A few hours of mining in high sec should take care of that need. Everything else I need I can buy off the market.

I do need to raise a little ISK to replace the money I will spend to purchase the materials. I think instead of running Operation Permafrost, I'll go ahead and run Wildfire, the Minmatar level 4 epic arc, on one of my two characters eligible to run the mission arc. I'm also thinking of restarting up my planetary interaction colonies to refill my corporation wallet. With some of the recent purchases in support of my Abyssal deadspace habit, I'm below 500 million ISK again. Time to get back to work.

I might eventually play some of the new content. But for now, re-running 10+ year old content (Wildfire), taking part in a mechanic most find dreary (planetary interaction) and partaking of an activity most find crazy, if not suicidal (low sec mining) is more appealing.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

The Death of Fort Knocks

Noizy: And give you enemy 500 billion to 1 trillion ISK in assets? That's not very EVE like

Null sec player: Who cares?

Fight like you give a shit.
Fight like you care about your comrades,
Fight like you want to defend your home.
Fight until they take it from your frozen broken pod.
Anything less is the coward's path.

Tuesday night, I watched a boosh Raven fleet from The Initiative. destroy the first keepstar ever built in EVE Online, Fort Knocks. The largest player-built object was built by Hard Knocks in their home system, a C5 wormhole known as Rage. The Imperium forces within Rage managed to keep control of the entrances to the wormhole for the most part, successfully repelling the major reinforcement attempt before the armor timer. After that, Hard Knocks basically conceded the destruction of Fort Knocks and began committing insurance fraud (self-destructing their ships) in an effort to minimize their losses.

The eviction effort was well executed. Over the course of several months, The Initiative.'s logistics team managed to seed Rage with enough ships and material to sustain the operation. The alliance's command team managed to keep the secret right up to the time their fleets entered wormhole space, catching Hard Knocks by surprise. The Initiative.'s theory crafters came up with fittings that made Executors more massive than Ravens, thus minimizing battleship losses to the keepstar's doomsday weapon. Notably, Hard Knocks had no answer to The Initiative.'s signature boosh Raven fleets. One of the more comical sights on the streams was watching the guided bombs launched from Fort Knocks endlessly chase the Raven fleet around the citadel. To top it all off, The Imperium came in with such numbers to discourage any defense not reinforced from the outside. A perfect bomb run by a Stuka fleet led by The Initiative.'s leader Sister Bliss ended those dreams.

Of course, we've seen the typical complaining about the losing side's conduct after a keepstar fight. Hard Knocks is not the first group defending a keepstar to not defend the final timer this year. From watching keepstar fights in null sec throughout 2018, I've come to the conclusion that if the defender loses the armor timer, then the defender will begin to evacuate the keepstar of ships and equipment needed in the short term and let the rest of the assets stored in the citadel go into asset safety. In practical terms, NPCs move the belongings of players still in a citadel to another station, charging a 15% moving fee.

In wormholes, though, if players want to salvage anything from their belongings from a citadel facing certain destruction, they have three options. The first is attempt a breakout of the wormhole. The second is get an alt into a cargo ship and manage to log out without the besiegers noticing. Then, wait a couple of months and reemerge into the game again. The third is to self-destruct ships and collect the insurance. Unlike null sec players, wormholers can't rely on asset safety to bail them out.

I normally laugh at the concept of bravery and cowardice in a video game. What type of bravery is it to risk a bunch of pixels in any game, much less one about internet spaceships? Is it really cowardice to look at a situation, decide you don't want to feed ships into a group of players a minimum of 3 to 5 times larger than yours (with the odds gradually increasing against you as the fight continues), and decide to salvage the most out of the situation you can? Is it really bravery to fight and lose ships you are about to lose anyway?

In EVE, we normally don't see leaders attempt to emulate King Leonidas at Thermopylae or William Travis at The Alamo. Instead, we see leaders caring about the survival of the organizations they lead, not the opinions of the unwashed masses. From The Mittani in the wake of The Casino War to Sort Dragon's deal with The Imperium this year, examples abound of alliance leaders who rejected the option of throwing both the wealth of their organizations and the assets of their line members away in a doomed gesture.

I'll just end with the thought that triggered this post. I get mocking people for not fighting, especially a group like Hard Knocks that for years won so many battles and did their fair share of criticizing their defeated foes. But to go so far as to disparage the character of people because they don't play a video game the way you think they should? I see enough people vilifying those who disagree with them in the real world. I play EVE to escape that type of behavior.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

CCP's War On Bots And Illicit RMT: Bot Bans, Gicodel, And Illinfrik

Over the past week or so I've engaged in a lot of different activities EVE Online. Mining in low sec belts. Running mining and distribution missions in low sec. Standings repair via the Sisters of EVE epic arc. But the EVE activity I engaged in that most people are interested in involved either sitting in stations or sitting on the undock in high sec. So here are my latest observations on CCP's War on Botting and Illicit RMT™.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Bots In Illinfrik

On Monday night I was surfing the forums and ran across a post discussing payouts for level 4 distribution missions. The post didn't give many details, so I decided to browse r/eve to see if any interesting. I found something right off. Bots in Illinfrik!

Okay, the Reddit poster saw a whole lot of activity on Dotlan, sat on a gate, saw a whole bunch of Wreathes and Badgers with cargoes indicating the pilots were running distribution missions, and said happy ganking. He also compiled a list of names. So I decided to investigate.

The first thing I did was make a brief detour in my trusty Cheetah to Hek and picked up a ship scanner, cargo scanner, and Sensor Booster II. I wanted to scan the fits and cargo to see if the ships were all fit the same. When I got to the Trust Partner station in Illinfrik about 25km off the undock and started scanning ships. The Wreathes were pretty much fit the same. Ship scanners aren't entirely accurate, but the Wreathes were all fit with a Large Shield Extender II and several Medium Shield Extender IIs along with Expanded Cargohold IIs in the lows, along with perhaps a warp core stabilizer. The rigs included one Hyperspatial Velocity Optimizer for extra speed and two Low Friction Nozzle Joints Is for additional agility. At least, that's what I remember. I thought I had more time to observe the bots than I had and failed to write down the fits.

Wreathes Undocking
After figuring out the fit, I then decided to dock up and look at the pilot info of the suspected bots. What I saw further convinced me I was witnessing some pretty blatant botting. The most blatant of the bots were all created on the same day, and left the newbie corp 6 days later for a corp named after themselves. But by the time I figured out what was happening, the time was after midnight locally and I needed to get some sleep. Besides, CCP wasn't going to ban the bots before Tuesday, right?

Since CCP went ahead and banned the bots before I could start taking names, I'm left to explain why botters would choose to operate in Illinfrik. The reason is that Trust Partners, a member of the Thukker Tribe, only has two level 4 distribution agents in high security space. The other high sec agent is located in Atgur, which is in a high sec island. So the only "safe" area to bot in to get those sweet, sweet Thukker loyalty points is Illinfrik.

Well, one more thing. In the Reddit post, the author claims that hundreds of bots were operating. I don't think the number was that high, unless bots were only used two hours a day and the bot operator had 12 sets of bots. From what I can tell, the bot farm generated approximately 600-700 additional jumps per hour going into an out of Illinfrik. Since each mission generates 2 jumps in Dotlan's map(one out of and a second into the system), that equates to the bots running approximately 300-350 missions every hour. Let's say that a Wreathe can run 8 to 10 distribution missions per hour, which based on my experience (and the frequency I saw the bots dock up to get new missions), that leads to a range of 30 to 45 bots running concurrently.

I plan to return to Illinfrik in a few days to see if our botter returns. Something tells me I'm not finished writing about this particular botter.

UPDATE: Someone else was observing as CCP removed the bots from the system.