Archive for the 'my god it's full of stars' Category


Live events

So, CCP is doing this thing where huge big battles happen between NPCs and everyone who wants to join in, tied in to the in-game backstories of various factions warring with each other. At the moment, these events feature the Sansha – creepy zombie slave people – arriving in huge fleets to abduct people from planets. If you’re around, and you can fight, and you feel like responding to the calls posted in Local begging people to come and help, there’s a big, big battle waiting for you.

(I realise there that I said the live events are just about combat, which I don’t know for sure, but I’m guessing is true because what else would they do? ‘Sansha invade Jita 4-4 and lower everyone’s buy orders by 0.04 isk!”)

Anyway, I wasn’t anywhere near the first few, and didn’t hear about them until long after they were over. But today, I was out doing courier missions with my hauler alt in Caldari space when someone in corp chat said something about a live event possibly happening in Halaima, five jumps away.

On the one hand: this is my hauler alt, with minimal skills, who can just about fly a cheap, poorly-fitted frigate, and rumour has it that live events include multiple battleships. Heading out there if there was a live event going on would, no doubt, be suicide.

On the other hand: oh come on, like I’m going to pass up the chance to see this.

I switched the hauler for a frigate and headed over to Halaima. Nothing obvious at the gate, nothing in local right then to indicate whether or not anything big was happening. Hmm. Sansha abduct people from planets, right? So if they’re here, they’ll be at a planet, right? It doesn’t take long to check every planet in a system, so I warped to Halaima I… and saw this:


Well hey there, Sansha!

By my (pretty hasty) reckoning, there were about 50 Sansha battleships on the field plus other smaller ships, maybe 20-odd players, and a lot of wrecks. Local was now going crazy – ‘official’ Sansha communications describing ‘115,000 souls liberated’, people roleplaying Sansha and furious victims, players typing “ASSIMILATE THIS” as they opened fire.

The Sansha were mostly flying Nightmares, a creepily fitting choice:


Of course, any one of them could probably take out my little frigate with a single shot, but I gambled on them being tied up with targeting the players in bigger ships and headed in regardless:


More people were arriving now (at least one of them typing ‘LLLEEEEEEERRRROOOOOOOYY JENKINS!!!!!” in Local as they warped in), and the Sansha battleships were taking a battering. I got down to structure, warped off to a station with my engines on fire, repaired the ship and immediately warped back. There are actually advantages to being in a little fast frigate, and the main one in this kind of situation is this: if you manage to get right up close to one of the big huge scary enemy battleships, and you get into a close orbit,  and you’ve got your afterburner running so you’re going pretty quick, then even when they are shooting at you, they’ll rarely be able to hit you often or effectively enough to cause much damage. Triumph! I joined in on several Sansha battleship kills that way.

As the number of players got greater, the number of Sansha ships started decreasing faster and faster as they exploded in a satisfying fiery boom. Soon we were down to six left… then four… two… one… and the field was clear. Congratulations! Cheering! For about four seconds, until the second wave of 50-odd Sansha battleships showed up.

And then CONCORD arrived in a huge fleet, and the Sansha vanished.

This is what the battlefield looked like right after that:


Every little triangle is a wreck, full of precious, precious salvage and loot. You have never seen a formerly unified force turn on each other as quickly as ours did in the next three seconds. Blue wrecks are abandoned and free for the taking; yellow wrecks belong to somebody, and stealing from one of those means the rightful owner is allowed to kill you without CONCORD intervention, and the more that happened the more wrecks there were, and on, and on, to the point of madness. I made about seven trips back-and-forth to one of the Halaima stations, grabbing what I could from blue wrecks and zooming back to the docking bay to drop it off.

Four million isk of loot, and one hell of a lot of fun.



Exploration sites are dotted all over the galaxy, lasting for three or four days before disappearing to respawn elsewhere. To find them – or at least, to find ones worth finding – you need the following:

a) A scanner probe launcher
b) Multiple scanner probes
c) Luck
d) A lot more in the way of trained skills and practice than the tutorial lets on, but anyway.

Scans turn up cosmic anomalies, little NPC pirate/drone hangouts which are easy to find, and cosmic signatures. Cosmic signatures are what you’re usually looking for – you, and the umpteen thousand other people trying to find the good ones first.

(Above: Cosmic signature heaven. Let’s all hear it for little backwater solar systems twenty-five jumps from anywhere interesting!)

There are various types of cosmic signature, indistinguishable from each other until you start scanning them down individually, and the gods of EVE have seen it fit to arrange things such that you’ll always get seven of the kind you’re not looking for and none of the kind you are. In decreasing order of undesirability (from my perspective; I’m sure someone out there loves ladar sites):

Wormholes. Wormholes are shiny hypnotic death. Not exclusively, because you can make a lot of money in there if you know what you’re doing and you have a lot of friends and there’s nobody else already in there waiting for you and you take the right equipment in and you manage to get it out without incident and you know how to watch the directional scanner like your life depends on it and you really, really know how things work in there, but, yeah, enough.

Ladar sites. Gas clouds to harvest! If you have a gas cloud harvester, for which the skillbook alone costs 20-something million isk, which I don’t so moving on.

Combat sites. Like mission sites without the mission. You shoot stuff, stuff shoots you.

Gravimetric sites. Hidden asteroid belts, usually with rarer asteroids than you can usually find in that part of space.

Magnetometric sites. Archaeology and salvage sites. I know several people who’ve found good stuff here – skillbooks, blueprints copies – but all I ever get is cheap salvage, bah.

Radar sites. Oh, sweet wonderful radar sites.

I found my first radar site last week, taking an exploration jaunt down to Kor-Azor, one of the quieter Amarrian suburbs. I had 3 million isk beforehand – and then I had 3 million isk plus this:


The positron cords weren’t hugely valuable, and sold for 999.90 isk each at a station on my way home. The Sacred Manifestos, on the other hand, went for 4 million each at Jita, wretched hive of scammers and villainy and the galaxy’s main trade hub. Oh happy day.

The next radar site, found the day after, made me 500,000 with a couple of datacores. The one after that, 2 million. And the one I found a few hours later, scanning a really busy system on an off-chance, was… occupied by rats that nearly shot my flimsy little scanning frigate down in a big ball of flame.

Hmm. Never mind. Retreat to Hek, the trade hub one system over, where I’d left one of my Rifters. Fit the codebreaker hacking module needed for radar sites to the Rifter, check guns and ammo, warp into radar site, and… again, nearly get shot down in a big ball of flame.


Warp out, dock, shields regenerate, undock, warp back in, kill one rat, warp out, dock, shields regenerate, undock, warp back in, find a new spawn of rats triggered by the first shooting, realise am now outnumbered 12 to 1, with the info shards that hide the radar site goodies glimmering tantalisingly just out of reach. Dammit.

By this point, three things occur to me:

1) It is going to take me forever to do this in a Rifter.
2) And this is a really busy system; someone else is bound to find this site before long.
3) And if the easy radar sites are worth up to 8 million, and this is a hard radar site, this is probably worth… an amount I would quite like to get for myself.

I hit the directional scanner. It shows at least one other scanning ship in the system. ARGH.

My Rupture, the cruiser which could easy wipe out the rats at the radar site, was back at home 12 jumps away. I set destination and set off like my engines were on fire (easy to impersonate, since they actually had been after my first warp-in to the site). Hit jump gate – jump – warp to next one – jump – warp to next… and next… and next, yelling ‘FASTER DAMMIT’ the entire way. Get back to Aldrat, dock, unfit codebreaker, select the Rupture, shriek in frustration at Scotty the docking manager saying I have 24 seconds before I can change ships, bite fingernails, 23… 22… 21…, eventually switch to Rupture, fit codebreaker, set destination for solar system with radar site, set off. In a ship which is oh so very much not built for speed. By this point, I was picturing riches beyond imagination at that radar site – my radar site – currently being gobbled up by someone who’d had a better ship closer to hand, and getting frustrated enough to gnaw off my own hand with every jumpgate as my Rupture slowly, slooooooowly aligned to the next.

Warp back into radar site. Empty except for me and the rats, o happy day. Shoot all the rats (why not, eh?), hack open the info shards, retrieve loot, ask in corp chat for a price check in other regions, and shriek in glee at the screen.

One trip to Jita and 31 million isk later, I could afford a brand new ship:


And the rats at the next radar site had better watch the hell out.


Field trip!

Player organisations – clans, guilds, whatever you’re used to – are ‘corporations’ in EVE. (Which tells you a lot about the game, really.) The corp I’m in at the moment is EVE University, an organisation set up by experienced players to train new players. For free. As an act of charity. If EVE’s learning curve is a near-vertical mountain face covered in hidden crevasses and sudden avalanches (and oh, it is, it is), E-UNI are the group of experienced climbers who saunter over while you’re staring at it in blinking horrified awe, to lend you maps, give you climbing lessons, offer to show you the route they’ve been using for years, hold impromptu Q&As on best crampon techniques, and hey, were you wondering how to get all your oxygen tanks up there? Here’s a free yak. E-UNI might well be the only thing in this game that seems too good to be true and yet isn’t a scam, and I can’t rate them highly enough.

Yesterday, the uni took a field trip to the EVE Gate. This was an awesome experience of a) galactic sightseeing; b) being part of a fleet; and c) specifically, being part of a massive fleet made up of enthusiastic bloodthirsty newbies zooming around in T1 frigates through low security space, kept in line by a very patient fleet commander (thanks, Brakoo).


This is a little bit of that fleet, with my Rifter in the foreground. I wub my Rifter. They’re small ships, don’t require much training to fly, and are handy enough that some people stick with them for advanced PVP activities.


And this is what the fleet looks like from a bit further back, gathering at the first jump gate. Our name is Legion, for we are many. We are also, at this point, getting overexcited about the possibility of running into pirates in lowsec, in a combination of “wow, it’ll suck to replace all these implants if I get blown up” and “I hear they have a Thanatos out there waiting for us CAN WE SHOOT IT CAN WE SHOOT IT PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE?” (Answer: no.) The ‘they’ in question would be miscellaneous pirate fleets who knew we were coming and wanted some easy kills from clueless newbies. EXCITEMENT!


32 jumps later, this was our first stop: the black monolith in the Dead End system. We only saw one pirate the whole way, and he was moving through in a shuttle, so nobody got shot. Good luck? Good timing? Good choice of a battle fleet of experienced E-UNI members breaking up gatecamps and clearing a safe path for us? Yeah, my money’s on option c) there. Thanks, guys :)


The obelisk is pretty impressive up close. We orbited going ‘oooo’ for a while.


And then, after about five seconds, we worked out that you could warp scramble it, webify it, and shoot it. (Warb scrambling and webifying are used on enemies to stop them getting away; yeah, that inanimate black rectangle was going NOWHERE with us around, believe me.) The monolith was totally immune to our puny efforts.


The EVE gate was pretty impressive. (It’s traditional to anchor a small container out there, which is what’s going on at the bottom right of the screen.) Our Fleet Commander wanted a group photo, so this is everyone gathering around to mug at the camera in traditional school-photo way. (Entirely incidental: at my primary school, our photographer used to try to get people to smile by telling us to “say Manchester United!” I’m sure this would have worked in some times and places, but his was near Manchester in the 1980s, when United were the sell-out it’s-not-even-about-the-football-these-days-tsch team of the moment, and supporting them would get you seriously mocked on the playground. There was some high-quality scowling on those school photos, I tell you.)


Impromptu conga line.

And after accidentally horrifying some passing pilots who saw the whole fleet suddenly appear next to us at the gate (the comments in #local were both unrepeatable and hilarious), it was time to go home…


And we even got storytime before bed.


EVE is big

One of the best things about this game is, undoubtedly, that it’s huge. This hugeness can be measured in many ways – complexity, possibilities, the sure and certain knowledge that you’ll never, ever learn everything there is to learn in this game, not if you play it for twenty years – but for me, it’s the sheer size of the galaxy that sums it up.

To illustrate, here’s my current map showing the solar systems I’ve visited in the game so far. Red/yellow/orange dots indicate systems I’ve visited; little white pinpricks indicate systems I haven’t seen yet.

Eve is big, 1

You can see that Metropolis, my current region, is where I’ve spent most of my time, but I’ve also been to quite a few places in Heimatar (in the lower right part of the map) and taken a couple of excursions through Sinq Laison to Everyshore (centre left). And there’s also a few areas towards the bottom of the map there that I’ve never been to at all, and that’s quite lot of black space showing that even in the regions where I’ve spent a lot of time, I still haven’t visited anywhere near every system. And that’s, what, maybe a hundred visited systems there? A lot, with a lot still to go.

Okay? Okay. Now, let’s zoom out.

Eve is big, 2

Suddenly there’s a whole lot more space there, space that I not only haven’t visited but that haven’t even gone near. Places with names like ‘City of God’ and ‘Great Wildlands’ and ‘Point of No Return’. Things are happening out there, even as I’m typing, because EVE players aren’t split into different shards on different servers; everyone’s in the same universe as everyone else. Newbies are getting started out there, pirates are ransoming people’s ships, huge corporations are bracing themselves for expansions and wars; I picked up some gossip in Local last night about somebody recently seeing a fleet from one of the biggest corporations on the move, many many jumps away from anywhere I’ve ever been. And all this affects me, as it affects everyone else in the game. Trade routes get disrupted, mineral prices change, markets jump and fall again. It’s all out there.

Okay? Okay. Now, let’s zoom out again.

Eve is big, 3

EVE is big.


A new EVE Online player comes to term with spreadsheets, spaceships and the steepest learning curve in MMO history. (SPACESHIPS, you guys!)


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