Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Committing to a Date & Time

Edit: Renamed the title of this post. I think 'Competitive Gaming for the Grown Up Gamer' is a much bigger area than discussed here. Certainly much more involved than just "Clans can't organize themselves anymore, and it pisses me off"... which would probably make a great TL;DR; for this post.

The biggest problem you face as a clan organiser is making sure you have a core team that can all play at the same time. It becomes an even harder task when you're playing with a bunch of grown ups. All that pesky "real life stuff" going on. When gaming becomes a hobby and not a second job.

Back when we used to play Counter Strike as a clan, we dabbled in the competitive leagues. We'd be set against people from all over Europe; of varying age ranges; who lived in different time zones; who juggled different responsibilities.

"Our match day is Tuesday, practice at 8pm match at 9pm GMT."

Honestly, we weren't that busy with real life that we could only make one night a week - but as a 'skeleton team' of 5 it was about finding that 1 day where everyone would be online. The single night of the week where family got told, social life put on hold, where working late nights wasn't an option because "Tuesday night is gaming night."

So yeah, this actually happens. Your hobby is gaming & competitions are fun; you have a busy life yet you want to make the hobby work. So you set aside time to make it happen. Done. I think it's something perhaps the younger players don't worry about, nor the bigger clans with readily available replacements... but it's something we had to consider.

"The league's starting a new season and their match day is a Tuesday!"

Here's where I get to the point (thank goodness, eh). So Tuesday night comes around, we'd been practicing de_dust2 for an hour or so - their war arranger appears 30 minutes before the game:

"Sorry, we need to reschedule. Can you do tomorrow at 9?"

Now... I know stuff like this happens. Things come up. Unavoidable things. For all the "I'm busy Tuesday night!" claims in the world, if we were really needed - gaming is just a hobby. I get it. I do. You might call this common courtesy, or you might think I'm throwing away points - but if we don't have a team, I offer to forfeit the game. That's just what I do. Our screw up, our penalty.

Yet here's how the conversation unfolds:

"Sorry, we need to reschedule. Can you do tomorrow at 9?"
- Sorry, we can't play tomorrow. Tuesdays are our only gaming night.
"Ok, how about Saturday?"
- No really, the only night we can play is Tuesday. I can't guarantee we'll all be online any other night.
"Come on, stop being unreasonable and just reschedule it for another day!"

Suddenly we're unreasonable? My gut reaction, "Hang on, you little shit. I've cancelled a drinking session; he's taken wife aggro; and he's not eaten yet... just so we all make it online. Yet we're being unreasonable, after You want to reschedule?"

I keep my opinions to myself.

Worse, I know that this wasn't a one off incident, because it happened maybe 4 times in the first 6 weeks. I reached a point where I updated the Bio of our clan to specifically highlight that we can't play any other night than Tuesday.


It made no difference...

"But our LeagueABC match is on a Tuesday, we can't play both!"
- So play this one, and re-arrange your LeagueABC match.
"LeagueABC rules won't let us re-arrange, we'd have to postpone it to the end of season. You guys are really unreasonable..."

I can understand how it may seem... but we've joined a league specifically based on the nights advertised. This seemingly accepted culture of not playing on the nights advertised. The commonplace swapping out nights for other nights. Unreasonable for only being able to play when you're supposed to play.

So at least this is all in the past, right? Counter Strike ey, bunch of kids with no lives who can't organise their way out of a paper bag, right?

Last night...

"Hey guys, REALLY sorry to do this - but we can't play tonight. Could we re-schedule for another night?"
- Sorry, the only time we can get on is tonight...

Maybe I'll start up a new league, with strict play dates & zero reschedules. Just need an accurate way of tracking which clan turned up on the night. I'd play that.

Mneh. Maybe I'll stick to FIFA.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Plus Two-Hundred?

I've been in talks with an Alliance, they've invited Fates (Hey, that's my Corp!) to be a part of their plan. It brought up an interesting question...
"Just what do I need to know, before joining an Alliance?"

In fairness, they aren't the first Alliance to make a move. The way we play our game - aggravating people in null - it does attract attention. We are reasonably well known, within our little pocket of space; and we do get fairly regular invites to Ally with some of the bigger guys of the area.

But this time the invite is for a different reason. A real reason.

Onto current.  My other half has come back from iSeries and decided she wants to start playing EVE. Watched her mates playing and decided it looks like a lot of fun (more fun than when she watched me play, or when reading my blogs, apparently! Hah...)

Wait... Hang on. My girlfriend... wants to play EVE? Very happy Dan!

"I can't wait til I can shoot you! Hahahahaha."

Argh... Not so happy Dan.

This does not end well - you can imagine how the scene unfolds. She turns up in some ship with a few months of SPs, I take her down relatively easily, I'm an evil bastard, blah. Or worse, she kicks my ass and I never live it down (not happening).

So talks began for us to "be friends" in game, which naturally leads to the suggestion of moving Fates into their Alliance.

Problem is, you're putting a permanent mark on your Corp's history. You have to make sure it's the right move. If the Alliance turns out to have a bad reputation, you can't dismiss your involvement with them. It's there for all to see.

"Yeah I only joined them cos my girlfriend knows them IRL, LoLz."

No.

Soooo, I have to responsible. It's not so much looking after our members (there really aren't enough to worry) it's about looking after The Name.

Here are the questions I've asked so far:

  1. What's the primary focus of your Alliance, are you PvE or PvP? Do you operate in High, Low, Null or Wormhole?
  2. Do you have any sort of Call To Action rules or Minimum Play Times that we'll have to abide by or are we free to log on as we please?
  3. Are you Enemies or Allies with any Corps or Alliances?
  4. Do you get War Dec'd at all? How often & who by?
  5. Is there a monthly fee to be paid for being in the Alliance?
I feel like their answers have given me an excellent understanding of the sort of guys we'll be dealing with. Certainly glad I asked. I'm very aware that the main motivator for the move is to avoid girlfriend aggro - so now I need to make sure I'm not being selfish; mull over their answers with my fellow corp mates; and hopefully come to a mutual decision.

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Quick Reinvigoration

I've been feeling pretty down about EVE PvP this past week - partly because I've been getting disheartened losing so many bubbles to faction cruisers; partly because my preliminary attempts to "change my game" (stop camping, go solo roaming) has ended in a lot of relatively expensive ship losses.

With that in mind, I've been neglecting EVE for the past week really. Favouring more care bear games, traditional MMOs where death is an inconvenience at worst. But I do enjoy playing around downtime & I've got a few hours to kill before the football starts.

I lost a bubble to yet another faction fit cruiser. Sometimes, I really do get fed up - but I suppose, the guys who land in my bubble feel the same way about me!

That said, it's amazing how much a simple thing can have a massive impact...

15 minutes before downtime, I put up another bubble. See if anyone's being careless in a bid to leave null before the restart. Turns out they where! My kill. A buzzard, carrying a sister's probe launcher and a few hundred million in loot!

Happy Dan.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Free To Play MMOs

There's a plethora of F2P MMOs out there - I reckon I've tried most of them. Some of them have shoddy models, some of them good.

I think the worst I played was a Samurai based MMO (can't remember the name, sorry) which let me download the 8Gb installer & make my character - before telling me mid-tutorial "You have 4 hours to trial this game before you must buy a..."

Uninstall.

Don't get me wrong, I like the F2P model. If a game does it well (and some do) they can be fun. But if I feel like a game is trying to force me to pay - under the pretense of being F2P - I won't waste the disk space. On the other hand, if I'm enjoying a F2P game and I see myself playing it for a few months, I have no problems paying a bit of money to get a slightly enhanced version.

I'm not talking Pay2Win (by my own rules, I would've already uninstalled that game), I mean the trivial things like a bigger bag, extra costume, XP boost. Supporting the developers to gain a bit of convenience. I have strange morals. I'm a bit of a cheap skate when it comes to things like music or apps, but games are different.

Some of the F2P games that I've enjoyed enough to support the developers:

  • Path of Exile (not an MMO, but an excellent game)
  • Star Wars the Old Republic
  • Ragnarok Online 2
  • Neverwinter
  • RIFT
I started back on RIFT a few weeks ago after years of absence. It's a great game, it really is. They've done so much with it. So polished now, and here's the great bit: there's still a tonne of people playing it!

For those unfamiliar - the whole selling point of RIFT was the random encounters. So we're just questing around the newbie area and this invasion starts. Everyone in the area manages to clear all 40 of the random invasions, then the big boss gets pissed off and tries to take us out!

The video shows the boss encounter (starts after a few minutes) - it's an easy enough fight, but I do have three healers on me. Notice how at the start we're doubting about 2-manning the boss, but when we reach him there are loads of players there helping out.


Saturday, 17 August 2013

Sometimes it's just not your night

So much red on my kill board :(
I managed to lose a tech 2 frigate, three faction frigates, and two pods carrying a set of standards & a set of basics, in return for a single Nemesis. It was not a good night. Read on for more...

I've been meaning to try out some new stuff in EVE.

  1. Firstly, I wanted to get out off the bubble, just for a few hours, check if I can find some viable PvP roaming around in a frigate.
  2. Secondly, I wanted to experiment with another ship rather than the Harpy.

Pro Tip: Don't try out two new things at the same time.

That's not strictly what happened. I got myself an Algos and a Merlin in FW space already! Still, I would hardly call myself proficient.

I set out in my Harpy towards more FW space. I wouldn't necessarily say I was trying to lose my Harpy - but there was a definite attitude of "once I lose this ship, I'm trying something else".

Self fulfilling prophecies suck. In fairness, it was a good fight. The Thrasher kept range on me while the Ishkur was pure tackle. I couldn't make a dent in it's armour despite my Blaster Harpy with Void. I did manage to switch out to the Thrasher, took some of his shields, but ultimately I was dead from first scram.

Time to test out a new ship: CN Hookbills. They're cheap enough, like 15 million each. I wanted to try a faction frigate & I wanted it to be Caldari for near max skills. So here we go. Brand new ship, reasonably new territory, what could possibly go wrong!?

...

Fight One

Totally screw up the range on this fight. My inexperience blatant. By the time I settled into orbit I was at 20% armor, hung around for a bit, but another few volleys took me into hull - so I bailed. I call it a draw.

Fight Two

An Incursus - who appeared to just decide he'd had enough and warped away when the going got tough. I read a lot about people fitting stabs to their FW ships, I believe I've just encountered my first one.

Fight Three

My first ship loss! Against two assault frigates. It's not an encounter I would've chosen, but that's my inexperience of FW hunting showing through. Despite the fail, I got on the kill mail for the hawk's future death, although I seriously doubt how much I helped from my pod.

Fight Four

A fellow CN Hookbill at an acceleration gate. He accelerated, I thought "Why not"

Notice how I didn't think "Now Dan, you're inexperienced in this ship - you've already lost one. Find another fight until you're feeling more proficient."

So Yeah, "Why not". I followed him in warp. He had a Merlin friend waiting for him - not of the same corp. I panicked. Majorly. I managed to Disrupt and Scram the Hookbill, then Dual Web the Merlin. It was a glorious fail.

Then something shitty happened. I lost my pod in Jita. I don't even know how, but regardless of the reason - a very fast locking Tornado popped me as I got the "Docking Request Accepted" notification. Just goes to show, you're never safe.

...

I took a breather. I needed one. I agreed that I liked the Hookbill, but if I was to continue flying it - I would be back at a bubble in null sec learning how to properly kill. Honestly that worked. I got myself a Nemesis and pod. That helped the pain go away a little bit. Plus (no offense at all to TEST, they're lovely guys) but it was TEST - that makes it taste even better.

This should be where the night ended, really. Or at least the story. Me, sat at my bubble, doing what I do.

Except.

It's a Friday night, isn't it. So daft old me, listening to EVE Radio, having fun, decides to go on a bit of a mini adventure! Up over to the CCP area where all the Goon guys hang out. It's not a roam, I'm taking a bubble - I just want to get a liiitle bit closer to the action. I got close to the action. So did my pod.

Sometimes, you just need to learn when to call it quits for the night.

Friday, 16 August 2013

I'm a Terrible FC

"Life in a Wormhole" is a collection of blog posts documenting my adventures in EVE Online. Together with a small group of real life friends we will attempt to survive in the harshest of space EVE has to offer.

I've never really had to be in charge during my time in EVE - not properly anyway. I can call out targets, "engage" or "run away" when bubble camping. I can communicate to them with calmness; clarity; and with enough time for them to react. However the actual micro management... if their ship doesn't fly the same way as mine, my brain doesn't appear to be able to multi-task the two scenarios.

Not yet, at least. I plan on working on it. Hell I'll have to work on it. I have a fleet to look after!

I've spent the last few days familiarizing myself with the area: making safes, making pings. I'm now comfortable making the trip from our 0.0 base up to Jita - so when Blayzer jumps into fleet, I'm keen to show him the easier route up to high sec.

"If you're missing a ping spot at any of the gates, we can make them as we go along."

Three jumps in, he warps directly to gate.

"Gah. Remember mate, got to use your ping spots. Someone could've been..."
- But the system was empty.
"But..."

It's a fair point - but this is about forging habits. There might have been a bubble already setup, someone could've jumped through while he was mid-warp. Even slow boating the 100km after getting caught is enough of a reason...

But I start to doubt myself. I wonder if I'm being too cautious.

I fold. I tell myself he wants to fly harshly then he'll make mistakes faster, learn faster. It could be beneficial. Each jump I wait for him to appear in system before I warp. Each warp, I warp fleet to a ping spot.

... and that's all. I don't try to reinforce the importance of ping spots. I was taught their necessity but I learnt through trial & error. Lose enough ships, you start to take notice. Am I being a bad fleet commander right now? Sadly, I think so.

We make it into Low Sec...
"You don't need to worry about bubbles now, they aren't allowed to anchor them here."

We pass a Manticore at one of the gates.
"Remember, even though you can attack people here - don't do it next to a gate; because the gate guns will start shooting at you."

Then Blayzer meets a Drake. He's +1 system.
- There's a Drake here. Should we take him?

"ERM."
My first mistake. I should've just told him to carry on warping to the next gate. He's in a newbie fit frigate, he doesn't stand a chance. But that's not how my brain works. My brain only thinks what I would do against a Drake:

  • Hold at the gate, wait for him to target me. 
  • Start orbiting the gate within 2.5km.
  • See how much damage he's doing to me, insta-jump if he's hurting.
  • See how much damage he's taking from the gate guns.
  • Evaluate if he's kill-able with the gate gun's assistance.
  • Fight or Flight.
I'm not necessarily saying that's the best attitude to take when faced with a Drake - at the gate - in Low Sec - in a frigate. There's a really strong chance he can tank the gate gun damage, I'm not adding much DPS to the fight, he'll have T2 drones. The odds are stacked against me.

Yet there's no danger. So that's what I do. Moments later, Blayzer tells me he's being shot at. I jump through to his system to get a better understanding of what's happening.

"Don't attack him - warp away or jump back through the gate."
- I can't warp.
"No, I figured - jump back through the gate."
- Ok...

At this point, Blayzer's stood still, with a flight of drones on him, and reaching 0% shields. He's acknowledged the need to GTFO - except he's 15km away from the gate; because he doesn't know how this whole gate mechanics thing works yet; because I've not taught him yet.

- I didn't think he would attack me because of the gate guns?
A reminder that I'm only providing half-arsed information.

- I know I shouldn't have been stood still, but he took me out in like 3 hits - surely that's not right?
I really must remember to go over speed tanking in full.

- That's twice now I've died without fighting back. The next time someone attacks me I'm gonna just go for them.
I can't see that ending well, but again, perhaps it's a learning experience.

Sorry Blayzer, I'm a Terrible FC.

I'm reminded that Blayzer is new - new to EVE - not to PvP. When I started to PvP I'd already had years of PvE: trying to kill frigates in a bigger ship. I already knew about velocity and speed tanking, target painters and webs. So when it came to teach me the fine print I already had a decent foundation. He hasn't.

So I've set this up, it's my show. I need to find a way to make it work. I don't think Blayzer would flourish well in a training corporation. His sketchy online times probably means it'd take him months to complete the training. 

I'm not sure. It might be worth a conversation. But for now, it's something I need to get a lot better at - very quickly.



Thursday, 15 August 2013

Few Interesting Articles

I know that most of you reading this blog will have come from a blog list & that by that logic: you have access to exactly the same articles that I have. Despite that, I feel these few posts deserved a special mention.

First there's a post from Low Sec Lifestyle discussing the ideas of piracy being taken personally. When you take out another players ship and instead of taking it as "losing a ship in PvP" they some how feel like you were out to get them - them - not their ship. It's a good read. One that I'm feeling particularly empathic towards since I've become more active in local chat before & after my fights.

Next up a post from Loadout Optional exploring the future of eSports. I particularly enjoyed his ideas about how spectator sports are generational.  Today's spectators are yesterday's participants - eSports may not take off fully until our generation is no longer able to dedicate the time to playing their hobby, choosing to watch it instead.

Finally a post from the Art of War Alliance describing a recent roam. A great story about opportunity, the cost of flying unfamiliar fits & just generally about how successful you can be when you take a chance and go hunting in otherwise occupied space. Plus they took this crazy kill board away from the encounter!