Links: Politics, Fleet Skills, & Piracy

Got another flurry of links I wanted to share. Not really a theme here, so I’ll just jump right in.

0.0 Politics Update

The 0.0 political updates written by Murr over at Kugutsumen are really phenomenally good. I know I linked to these last week, too, but since then he’s written another one. They’re super dense and might be overkill for non-players, but they’re well researched and detailed and give at least a flavor of the high level geopolitics that I don’t really see that well.

The chunk of the report about Providence is particularly interesting. Providence is a region owned by an alliance called CVA, and it’s run by role-players, and has a pretty solid role-playing base. This may seem like a sort of weird notion if you’re not familiar with it, but being a role-player in a world like EVE means you talk from the perspective of your player and strive to maintain the fiction of the world as much as possible. I have no idea how this works in practice. In World of Warcraft, role players get segregated onto their own servers, but in EVE’s single shard, role players have to coexist with everyone else. What complicates this role-playing perspective is that CVA is role playing racist, slave-owning, expansionist, religious zealots. Their stated goal is to annex all of the known EVE universe for their religious dynasty. We can only assume that the CVA leadership holds their meetings in-character, so playing the role of Hitler-denying-his-imminent-fall feels entirely appropriate.

They can’t expect their non-role-playing allies to put up with it though, and it looks like they’re hemorrhaging member corps faster than they’re losing systems.

Scouting and Fleet Communication

Very much enjoyed a pair of articles at A Scouts Domain this week. The first was about how to be an effective fleet commander over voice-chat. There’s a lot of practice advice there for people thinking about trying to FC. It’s also a window into what that role is like for people who don’t play.

The second article was a similar treatment of the role of the scout. Scouts are critical to a fleet’s success, and the article does a great job clearly deconstructing what a scout needs to do and how. More than most roles in fleets, scouts don’t rely on having a great ship. For scouts, it’s all about their skills and knowledge and instincts. It’s a tough and often thankless job, but a fascinating and challenging one.

“Asset Liberation”

Mynxee put together a wonderful story about a heist she pulled, stealing a freighter and command ship from an unsuspecting corporation who were storing them inside a player-owned-structure. It’s a great story, and she does a wonderful job of capturing the emotions and worries of these kinds of pseudo-criminal activities. She may well convert me to piracy yet.

Money Does Grow on Trees, Pt 1

Ratting at an anomaly in 0.0. Note bounty value in the upper right hand corner.

Ratting at an anomaly in 0.0. Note bounty value in the upper right hand corner.

Virtual worlds are driven by metaphor. In these new kinds of worlds, we need something to grab on to that helps us make sense of the world in terms of ideas we understand. From this we get notions like “tanking” (having lots of armor that lets you take lots of damage), “pulling” (attracting the attention of computer-controlled ships so they move towards you), and “farming” (doing some task repetitively to gain resources). I’ve been doing a lot of that last one recently, and it’s a surprisingly apt metaphor that I want to dig into a little bit.

After the panic and chaos of fighting Triumverate in Pure Blind, Morsus Mihi has settled back into Tribute, intent on rebuilding our coffers of ISK so we can fund our next big conflict. There are two basic ways that people extract value from 0.0 space: mining and ratting. In both cases, each solar system periodically generates stuff that has value. For miners, this means asteroids that can be mined for ore, which turns into minerals for item construction. For ratters, this means computer-controlled pirate ships (rats) that generate a “bounty” when you kill them (and sometimes drop valuable items). I’m going to focus on how the ratting side of things works, but it’s broadly similar for miners.

The first consideration is where to farm. For some complicated reasons I’ll go into this weekend, there are better and worse systems to do this. Some systems are better tended farms than others. These systems generate more rats per hour. These rats appear in asteroid belts (where asteroids appear, too) and cosmic anomalies (where asteroids are rarer / less valuable). The better the system is for farming, the more anomalies you have to choose from, and the higher value rats you’ll find in them. Battleship rats tend to be worth about 1M ISK in bounties each, battlecruisers are about 200k ISK, and cruisers are about 125k ISK. After you clear out an anomaly by killing all these rats, you have to wait for it to respawn with new pirates. Returning to the farming analogy, each anomaly is like a field on a farm. After you harvest it, you have to wait a little while for it to grow back. Plus, having more fields means more farmers can work simultaneously. A system being actively farmed at capacity can only support maybe 3-4 farmers simultaneously.

Map of Tribute, Colored by NPC Kills

Map of Tribute, with darker green / yellow / red systems the site of large number of rats killed.

This is not a super fun process, but it’s an extremely reliable way to make money. I log on pretty much every night and run one or two of these and make about 30-50M ISK/hour. I could make more if I had a nicer ship and better weapon skills which would let me deal more damage to kill pirates faster.

From a macro-economic perspective, farming is a big way that CCP injects money into the world. While miners have to sell their products to other players, money is basically created for me out of thin air. No other player cares if these pirates are alive or dead, CCP just invented this system to give combat-trained players a way to farm in 0.0 space where there aren’t (with some complicated exceptions) agents to give you missions to run. This is also part of how corporations make their money. Every time I blow up one of these rats, my corporation (The Graduates) takes 15% of the bounty in a tax. This goes directly into the corporation’s coffers and funds various corporation expenses, like reimbursing me when I lose my ships doing stupid things in fleet ops.

My transaction history after ratting.

My transaction history after ratting. Note corporate taxation entries

Farming also requires a certain amount of geopolitical stability. I’ll write more about that side of things over the weekend, but suffice to say that having lots of enemy fleets moving through the systems you’re farming in drastically disrupts the process. (Tribute is pretty quiet these days, but you can still kinda see this in the player-deaths map compared to the npc-deaths map.) So while we have a few moments of peace before the rumored upcoming hostilities between the North and the South, I need to build up a nice reserve of ISK to fund my increasingly expensive war habits. Swords to plough-shares and back again.

This topic is continued in Part 2 of this article. Check it out to see how this mechanic forms the foundation for economic warfare in 0.0 territorial fights!

Links: Politics, Alliances & Essays

Over the weekend I ran across a bunch of EVE-related links that I wanted to pass along. This might become a thing in the future — we’ll see. Also, I finally got around to making a Twitter account for just EVE stuff, so you can now follow @jumponcontact for EVE-related tweeting, conversation, and posts about new posts and projects. If you’ve been following my non-EVE account, @drewwww, now might be a good time to switch over. I feel kinda bad about spamming my non-EVE-playing-friends with EVE stuff, and so am going to cut back on the EVE tweeting there, except for big project announcements.

So, back to links:

0.0 Political Updates

As far as I can tell, most of the really great reportage about what’s going on in 0.0 happens in the EVE forum ecosystem. This post has a really fantastic summary of what’s going on around New Eden and a healthy dose of interpretation and speculation. It’s some of the most readable 0.0 politics writing I’ve read in a while, although it does assume some history knowledge.

Alliance Social Network Diagram

Also over at Kugutsumen, a poster maintains a list of Alliances that are affiliated with each other through mutual non-aggression pacts – so-called “blue lists”. Basically, all organizations in EVE have the ability to set “standings” with other organizations. These standings are numbers that range from -10 to +10. In past posts, you’ve seen screenshots with people shown as different colors – these are graphical representations of the relationship between my alliance and the alliance the other person is in. Blue means they’re friendly and I shouldn’t shoot them, red means they’re enemies and I should shoot them. This is a map of people who agree to set each other as blue. You can see in the upper right hand corner there’s the tightly linked Northern Coalition. On the left are the murky politics of the southern bloc. I’m working with the original author of this visualization to produce some more complicated ones that more clearly show who are renters, which alliances are the major power brokers and (mayyyyybe) who’s actively attacking who these days. Found this via Manasi at A Mule In EVE.

Update: Great link in the comments to an influence map at EVE fail showing which alliances historically work together. See also, this perspective from NC: that’s a whole lot of people who don’t like us very much.

Essays for New Players

One of the commenters in the Metafilter article about Jump On Contact was inspired to publish a series of emails he wrote to a friend who was just starting out in EVE. They’re a great read, and cover a lot of the really basic stuff that new players care about. If you’re thinking about playing yourself, it’s a great place to start. The author covers a bunch of specific topics (low-sec space, for example) that I haven’t talked about much. All in all, I think it’s a really nice complement to my blog.

Welcome New Readers!

This past week has brought a bunch of attention to Jump On Contact. On Monday, the blog was announced as a new member of the long running and prestigious EVE blog pack managed by CrazyKinux. I’m really thrilled to be included. When I was first thinking about starting an EVE blog, I spent a lot of time reading blog pack members in Capsuleer (an iPhone EVE app, which includes a handy RSS reader for EVE blogs), trying to get a sense of how people wrote, what kinds of topics might be interesting. It’s crazy that only a few months later I can read my own blog in Capsuleer. We’ve also been recently the subject of a Metafilter post, and another Massively post. It’s been a fun week.

So I’d just like to welcome new readers and point out some of my favorite bits from the archives that you might not otherwise discover. First off, this is kind of a different EVE blog. I think of it more as a documentary project than a diary. I’m trying to capture perspectives on how and why the world works, and what it means to be part of it. There’s more on my larger goals and perspective in the introduction.

As part of my documentary mission, I do a bunch of different kinds of posts. There are some story-like articles describing a particular event or task like my first combat experience or liquidation of Empire-based assets. There are posts explaining fundamental game mechanics like death or the organization of the galaxy. I also keep up with current events, and try to explain how an alliance failing to pay its bills is likely to change my life halfway across the galaxy. From time to time I do larger-scale projects like explanatory videos of how fleets communicate or a visualization of how much common ships cost and what they do. I’m also pretty proud of my first pass at trying to describe why I love EVE, not in spite of its tediousness, but because of it.

Thanks for reading! Please do feel free to ask questions or leave comments. I’m still figuring out what’s interesting to people, so pointers or suggestions about stuff that you want to hear more or less about are always welcome. Perhaps at some point getting an industrialist to pitch in and cover that side of the world would be a useful compliment to my more-combat-focused experiences?