Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

Exactly what the title says!

Let the problems of 2010 plague you no more, for the problems of 2011 are upon us!

Friday, December 24, 2010

I Got Butchered Again

And this time, it's serious.

See, this game is like Runescape in progression. It's not that hard until about halfway through.

For instance, in my 2 weeks of playing, I worked my way past the Frigate class, the Destroyer class and the Cruiser class. My corporation delivered to me my first Battlecruiser, the Drake. At this point, the only practical ship a player can expect to fly is Battleship or one of the Strategic Cruisers/Advanced Mining Vessels. Up from that are Capitals, which are mostly pipe dreams.

The Drake is a ship type which kinda has a love/hate following. Like Torag's armour. It's dirt cheap, all the new kids run for it as soon as possible, it's freakishly tough. I have minimum skills (yes, even EVE Online has skills) and I was able to use the Drake to take on over a dozen other Battlecruisers at the same time and win on my own. It's that kind of vessel.

The ship's main strength is its shield. The Drake can fit an obscenely powerful passive shield tank, which basically means your shields are so outrageously tough that they can shrug off most damage and recharge so quickly on their own that you never have to worry about that particular bar. The Runescape equivalent would be your character's health naturally regenerating so quickly that multiple enemies constantly damaging you can't keep up. The Drake has more defensive bonuses than many battleships and can still mount a good amount of damage alongside that.

So yesterday (or today, it's the 25th here already), I learned two things;

1. Fighting a powerful passive shield tank is hard. I would like to take this opportunity to apologise to every unfortunate NPC crewman, pilot or captain and their next of kin/families. Today, I went one-on-one with my first battleship. I'm in a shield-tanked Drake, so I'm pretty much unstoppable one-on-one. Thing is, I learned how obnoxious it was to fight someone just like me.

I was putting 7 Heavy Missiles into that stupid thing per salvo. One salvo every 13 seconds. That's over 28 gigantic missiles per minute into a single target. The bastard's shields kept recharging. Every time I pulled a piece off the shield bar, it recharged in the time I took to launch another salvo. I even dropped 8 million (the ship itself cost me 26 million) on upgrading the missile launchers and a control system and this bastard still didn't go down.

In the end, I gave up and lost the launchers, equipped salvagers and looted the battlefield. The battleship had lots of escorts, but I murdered them all before moving and failing against it, so I looted everyone whilst waiting for a corpmate to bail me out.

2. Losing a ship sucks. It's EVE Online, you expect death wherever you are, but somehow, my death was one of the most humiliating ever. Thing about the Drake is, I have 11k effective HP on me. That's 11k damage someone has to do to me to kill me in a single blow (excluding recharge/repairs). Approximately 5k of that was armour and hull, which were the second and third layers of defence. If I lost my shield, I still had enough of a window to run away.

So the only way to effectively kill me was to prevent my escape. Now, the most common way of escape is a Warp. When you go into Warp, it's over. They've lost, they can't possibly catch you. Problem is, warp requires that you be aligned to a destination AND be at 75% of your top speed. This can be troublesome for a slow ship with low acceleration, but they can usually take damage long enough to survive. Warp Scramblers prevent warp at all, thus preventing escape. Simple.

Problem is, I never got warp scrambled. The bastards who got me did so because when I aligned to my destination and started accelerating, I accelerated into a piece of the environment (a small station array and a floating warehouse). So I couldn't get speed and I was trapped between these two, while taking a pounding. The crappy AI tried to keep lining up but it's crappy, so my ship spun around on the spot hopelessly for several seconds before exploding. I lost most of my equipped modules and cargo contents (including the expensive upgrades).

Howsabout some perspective;

When I got my Drake, I had 60 million. I dropped 26 million into it (saved 2 million because the corp made it for me and didn't need much profit). I drained another 16 million to buy the fittings and kit it out for battle.

So I'm down to 28 million in my wallet. I dropped half of my entire cash pool one one vessel. Thankfully, I made a fair portion of it back. It was yesterday that I hit 32 million odd again, even after many, many expensive spare parts and upgrades. I was left at 26 million after selling some stuff and buying ship upgrades against that bastard Battleship.

Then it exploded. The stuff I salvaged was worth all of 5 million.

However, I insured the ship and the insurance payout was a solid 22 million and after corpmates killed everything at the mission, I looted the wrecks and made some cash. The corp leader generously handed everyone 10 million (Christmas gift <3).

In the end, I was left with 65 million.

Short version? These last 2 days of work have been worth exactly nothing. I'm back to the Cruiser I abandoned in my hangar. I'm back to leeching offa my corp mates in missions for income (missions are divided into levels. Higher levels = more payment and more difficulty. My Drake could perform most level 3's without much trouble. Level 4 is the highest). So for the first time ever, I was effectively independent and could make a steady, reasonable income without asking the corp for help every 10 minutes.

Then it blew up. Really. EVE Online is generous to the dedicated, strong player but it sucks ass when you lose.

There's my Christmas Eve (when typing that, I nearly typed 'Christmas EVE'. Signs I need a break). I wonder what joys Christmas day will bring me.

Regards, IVIilitarus

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Ultramarines Review

Fans of Warhammer 40000 be rejoicin' last year when news of a Warhammer 40000 film based on the Ultramarines would be released. 40k's a gritty sort of thing, lots of grimdark and deep fluff, so it's hard to turn it into something that translates well onscreen.

I like to think this movie isn't an introduction to the universe, but rather for established fans. It only introduces 2 out of 8 factions and plays out on exactly 1 planet and its orbit. Fans of the universe will most likely enjoy the action and grimdark the movie helps to convey through (flawed) CGI.

Characterisation and portrayals of tech are fully intact, thanks to Dan Abnett as writer. The film stays so true the tabletop game that the characters and equipment were modeled to tabletop specs, to the point where the Land Speeder's weaponry is as comically oversized here as on the tabletop.

Writing and character interactions are solid, conveying the holy duties of the Marines in a way which isn't particularly cheesy. The prayers, warcries and manner of speech stays true to the tone of the fluff, without turning into a hammy mess.

There's plenty of violence and a few thrills along the way, to flesh out the battles. Some people might have expected more action, sooner and others might like less of the grit and violence present; I sit in the middle, there's enough action along the way to the big twist and climax (yes, there is one) to keep viewers satisfied without hampering the story and turning it into a cheap action flick. Ultramarines is a sci-fi thriller at heart.

My only real beef with the film is the CGI, and that seems to be what everyone else is grinding on, too. Facial expressions and facial modeling are far from what I've come to expect in today's CGI films. Everything that wasn't a face was rendered rather well and meshed well with the environment. A few of the bloodier scenes are hampered by the flawed CGI and closeups of characters aren't quite what they could be.

The entire film itself feels like a game of Warhammer 40000 played out in CGI with fleshed out characters. The story of a squad of Space Marines led by 2 veterans who go to secure an ancient relic in the hands of Chaos and must then return it to the ship sounds like something that would be done on the tabletop by a pair of creative gamers.

I'd hand it 7/10, just for keeping true to the universe, good writing, gritty action and flawed CGI. It really does feel like those nerdy toys on your table came to life and started kicking ass.

Regards, IVIilitarus

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Mining Lasers on the Osprey Go Zzzt and Zzzt

Turns out, making friends in EVE is a damned good idea.

Joined a corp a few days ago (2 days, really) and found they were kinda like me. They stick to high security space (like real wimps), run missions against NPCs (like rich wimps) and accept new players (like real pro gamers, right there).

Basically in high-sec, you best source of money is mission-running or playing the market (which is hard), so most people mission run. Missions in EVE are repetitive affairs of 'take this to here' or 'go here and kill this' or 'go here and kill this and bring something from the kill to here'. Grind missions to get ISK (ingame currency also, amusingly, currency of Iceland) use ISK to buy stuff.

I'm gonna primarily do mission-running for money but, I got bored today so I mined.

See, I ground up a lotta cash today from missioning with friends (more like leeching; they kill everything for me and I still get a portion of the rewards). I actually doubled my wallet total. Used a bit of the cash to buy a new ship and start mining.

I found to my dismay that mining in EVE is depressingly similar to mining in Runescape and is only slightly less tedious.

It follows the same formula of go to asteroids (rocks), finding one and locking it as target (looking for an empty rock), turning on your mining lasers (the actual mining), waiting (waiting), letting your cargo hold fill up (letting you inventory fill up) and then warping back to station to drop the ore off (teleporting to the bank to drop the ore off).

Hell, once you're done mining, you even have to refine the ore into valuable minerals used in production. Right; production. That's where you turn the stuff you mined into stuff you can use to make stuff you can use. Like Smithing. EVE Online's economy is about as close to a fully-player driven economy as you get. If you buy a Tech I (average quality) ship, it was sure's hell player made. Vast majority of average hulls are player made and sold on the market. So's most of the equipment that doesn't drop often from NPCs.

I say mining in EVE Online is only slightly less mind-numbing than Runescape because f a few simple things;

Rocks don't disappear. You can mine a single rock for hours and hours and not have it deplete. Because of that, you don't have to check back every few seconds to switch rocks. No fighting over rocks, either.

There's no obnoxious 'tik tik tik' sound when I'm in another window. In EVE, most sound is muted when you switch windows or minimize. Oh, sure, there's a zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzt sound, but you can switch that off without impeding yourself.

You're mining in a spaceship with lasers. If you had to choose between a career of mining in clothes/armour with a pickaxe and mining in a spaceship with lasers, what would you choose?

Storage is easier. I don't have to click all the time on the map to get somewhere. I right click on my destination station and press 'Dock'. That's it. Game takes care of the rest and I just have to drag my ore into the hangar.

Making a difference. Most players in Runescape can only mine up to mithril or adamant. Most players on Runescape don't even bother using mithril or adamant the way it was intended to. We don't make weapons for combat use, we make stuff to grind our skills. In EVE, every single mineral, even the most basic has uses. The most basic mineral is Tritanium. It's the most common, but is also the one needed most when manufacturing. I've maybe mined less than 5 hours in my entire EVE Online career and I'm making a difference for my corp-mates.

Mining in EVE is still only slightly nicer than grinding skills on Runescape. It's still a grind and it's about as bad as it gets in EVE, in terms of boring. It's still boring.

I miss mission running. The other guys in the corp are too busy doing other things and I'm stuck out of an income. ;-;

Regards, IVIilitarus

Saturday, December 18, 2010

I Got Butchered

Not as active as I used to be. Stellar Dawn forums are sinking fast under a combo of inactive smart people (and, to a lesser extent, Jagex) as well as active stupid people. I've been playing EVE Online.

A few hours before this posting, I joined in some fleet action with my alliance (in EVE, a corporation is a clan. A bunch of corps under one banner is an Alliance). We camped gates (stood at an entrance and shot whatever walked in), waited around (because the guys we were hunting didn't wanna die) and roamed a bit, (because our targets wouldn't fucking sit still).

I caught a rather nice picture of the fleet. If you look closely right in the middle, there is a very small ship the shape of a caltrop amidst the big guys. That's me.

Nice thing about EVE Online is detail.

Like, when you get killed, the your ship fitting is shown in detail with a picture of the ship. Location, exact date and time as well as amount of money lost during that event and amount of damage you took is also saved. Both you and your killer's names are noted, the corporations you served in are written down and even the weapon used against you us remembered. It gets down to the point where what was in my cargo hold is listed, as well as what portion of the cargo was destroyed in the explosion.

Then all of it is instantly posted onto the internet, without input from either side. Right, so I'm Nytoxias and I got shot to bits.

The moment I notified my corp members of my unfortunate demise, they found the page detailing my death before I even undocked from the hangar, now halfway across the galaxy. It's that kind of attention to detail which makes the game so much fun.

Want me to go into part two?

It's called a killmail.

When you are killed, you and the person who dealt the finishing blow each receive a mail which is stored in your character sheet (no, you can't delete it). Your character sheet has your list of kills and losses and these mails can be viewed any time.

The mail looks something like this;

I scrolled down in the mail because the first part was who took part, what they flew and basically everything on the killboard. The cargo manifest and stuff I lost is the more interesting bit. I'm amazed they keep track of it all.

So no. I bear no ill will to my attacker and if you ever read this, I wish you well in your future piracy and newbie harassment attempts.

If this were Runescape, I'd tear my hair out and whine, and whine and whine. But it isn't. Death is all too common in EVE. Second rule of EVE is "Don't fly anything you can't afford to lose." because in EVE, there is no place outside of a station that someone cannot theoretically kill you at. If you're in space, you can potentially be killed. It's just how much risk the attacker is willing to take.

I smiled when I died, not out of defiance or denial, but because it's a nice moment. I got my first Loss killmail. Got podkilled for the first time (that's when he blows your escape pod to bits as well and kills your body for good). In fact, earlier when I bought and fitted that ship, I said into the chat, "I just blew today's income fitting out a ship I'll probably lose anyway." one of the veterans replied with, "Welcome to EVE."

I love EVE Online already.

Also to Lady Dragon, I only got the idea to stalk Jagex with that thread because I saw how quickly posts in it were usually locked. I only realised it when I looked into the recent posts out of curiosity.

Regards, IVIilitarus

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Thoughts on EVE Online

Absent because EVE Online worked!

Me complying with the title of my blog, I dove straight for the Caldari (the railgun and missile guys who are non-nonsense practical types <3) and kitted out a railgun Destroyer ASAP. I'm actually doing better in a railgun equipped ship than I did in the recommended ship using missiles.

Also, Stellar Dawn Forums being saturated in new, stupid people who revive dead threads, start dumb discussions, post stupid things and in general, don't know how to type.

Jagex nowhere to be found. It's one week away from being a month since they appeared to have dropped us.

Regards, IVIilitarus

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Stellar Dawn Forums be Dead and Jagex be Stupid

All Jagex forums have a Change/Move/Lock Requests thread. I only use it to stalk Jagex. See, when someone is done with the chore of doing what we incompetent players forgot about at first, they have to hide the post.

It's been over 2 weeks since a post was hidden. Jagex isn't even looking anymore.

Sucks, don't it?

On a stranger note, the forums have recently seen a rise in players who can't type and have no clue as to what the hell is going on.

Regards, IVIilitarus

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Stupid EVE Online. Stupid CCP

Reason I haven't been posting is that I've been trying to get EVE Online working.

Problem is, those idiots at CCP can't put out a useful client if Iceland's economy was threatened by even worse things. More than 5 failed downloads so far, on most available methods. It kinda sucks.

During that mess, I've been mostly reading up on EVE and waiting. What a waste.

Regards, IVIilitarus

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Behind the Scenes Says: SNOWBALL FIGHTS! =D

New Behind the Scenes is nice and all, with a life-changing modification to Defence which will reshape combat and a long-awaited update that we've been wanting for years in the form of a Dragon Defender (it's like a Rune defender, but more betterer)

My favourite?

Snowball fights.

This Christmas, I can finally relive those lovely memories of that 2007 Christmas Event, the first time Runescape got a taste of permanent snowballs. I even wrote a guide about it on my dead bloggy blog that got featured on Vaskor's. I think that was the first time I ever got on to Runescape Reader's Digest.

If you're a Runescaper, read the Digest sometime, it's awesome.

Regards, IVIilitarus