Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Deferred Gratification


If you struggle with deferred gratification; have a distraction ready to go.  When a windfall occurs, use your distraction.

In WoW, it had been a long time since I needed to work at deferred gratification, having a routine that provides enough gold to buy a shiny I want.

In Eve, not having enough ISK, I become explicitly aware of it again,  I can have either of two wanted upgrades now, spending most of my ISK; or I can wait a week, and be able to afford both with ISK left over.  Of course by then I am likely to have found a new shiny

An example of deferred gratification in Eve?  

  • You have just finished a storyline mission and you get a new implant.  
  • Using it will improve one of your better stats by 1 (say from 24 to 25 or about 4%).  
  • You are cash poor at the moment, and need 3 times your current ISK for that shiny ship/book/upgrade, that will make you 10% better off at your preferred activity.  
  • Selling the implant will double your current cash balance.

Do you:
  1. Satisfy the craving for the instant reward (use the implant)?
  2. Sell the implant to a buy order for 1/2 its value?
  3. Place a sell order for (close to) its full value?
I have left the exact numbers of ISK and balance out; the same example applies if you are a newbie working on your first L1 implant (40k ISK) or an older hand working on your L5 (120M ISK) implants.

I have known lots of MMO players who would always go for  (1) : Use the implant.  They were always poor.  Unfortunately very few of them would read this (or any other gold/ISK making) blog.

Most of the wealthier players I know would do (3) : Place a sell order for it's full value.  There is discussion (often flame wars) about whether the full value is average value, 1 ISK undercut or somewhere between the current buy and sell orders; but that is largely irrelevant.  Instinctively wealthy players sell windfalls for 'full value.

The experiment

The trick is deferred gratification, and comes easily to some and seems impossible to others.  I was reading a study about kids and marshmallows; A child is asked:
  • to sit down in front of a variety of food treats, and asked what one they like best
  • The child will be left in a room with the preferred treat (in the example marshmallows)
  • The child is told that if the marshmallow is there when the researcher comes back - then the child will be given two marshmallows.
A follow up on these kids showed that for the few that could successfully wait 15 minutes for the second marshmallow, had higher SAT scores, and generally were more successful than kids that only waited 30 seconds.

At the time, psychologists assumed that children’s ability to wait depended on how badly they wanted the marshmallow. But it soon became obvious that every child craved the extra treat. What, then, determined self-control? ... the crucial skill was the “strategic allocation of attention.” Instead of getting obsessed with the marshmallow ... the patient children distracted themselves by covering their eyes, pretending to play hide-and-seek underneath the desk, or singing songs from “Sesame Street.” Their desire wasn’t defeated—it was merely forgotten. “If you’re thinking about the marshmallow and how delicious it is, then you’re going to eat it,” ... “The key is to avoid thinking about it in the first place.” 


If you struggle with deferred gratification; have a goal (or even distraction) ready. 
When a windfall (eg implant a little better than you have) occurs use this to get the better prize.

For me, while I am still farming standing: I will allow myself to equip the second of any give implant I get, using sell orders for the first.  My distraction is 'get more ISK for trading'.  I want the implant, but by doing this I get the benefit of the additional ISK for market trades when I need it, and will still have an implant 'soon'.

Monday, 28 May 2012

80/20 rule - or why I have many skills at level 4

In Eve, skills take longer to get the higher your skill level.  The game is designed so that even with 'perfect' allocations it still will take years to get all the skills you want; I have been playing for months.

From http://wiki.eveonline.com/en/wiki/Skill_training, we get the following list of how many skill points it takes to get a skill level:
  • level 1 - 250
  • level 2 - 1415
  • level 3 - 8000
  • level 4 - 45255
  • level 5 - 256000
There is a multiplier to this for skill difficulty, and the number of skill points you get per time unit is set by your attributes (adjusted by remapping and implants).

You get something like (Primary attribute + Secondary Attribute/2) points per minute.  As an example - take a standard '1x' difficulty skill, with 20 attribute points in it's primary and secondary abilities, and you get 30 points/minute; turning the above table into (very rounded):
  • level 1 ~ 10 minutes
  • level 2 ~ 1 hour
  • level 3 ~ 5 hours
  • level 4 ~ 1 day
  • level 5 ~ 1 week
In essence the 80/20 rule is that the you get 80% of effects from 20% of causes.  For most Eve skills, Level 4 is generally 80% of the benefit of Level 5, but only take 20% of the time.

Now some skills have pre-requisites; for example Wholesale needs Retail 5.  If I want to have Wholesale at any level I must spend the time to get retail 5; but then the decision happens again - huge benefit/training time for (eg Wholesale) Level 1 skills, and marginal benefit/training time for level 5.

I can tweak the values of attributes moderately; getting anywhere between mid 20's points/minute up to mid 40's points per minute. Doubling my training by choosing where to allocate my attributes is useful; Choosing what to (not) train has an nearly an order of magnitude of difference.  For the time to take a single Level 5 skill, starting toons have a choice of:
  • 20 different Level 3 skills OR
  • 5 different Level 4 skills OR
  • a single Level 5 skill.
I have chosen Trade, Social and Science as areas to work on my skills.  I am currently working on skills to get research missions as I think they will be important for me in the future.  In the meantime I have a lot of skills at Level 4.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Low level missions and standing

I occasionally run an L1 or L2 mission.

Low level missions (L1 and L2) are awful in what they pay - ISK, standing gains and Loyalty points.  I understand that if you have been 'bad' then L1 missions are 'better' than nothing, but they still are undesirable.

I currently have access to L4 missions and for distribution missions these are very easy; My ship has enough cargo for 2-3 of these concurrently (Iteron IV with cargo extenders).  The ISK is not as good as trading from buy orders; but even with Margin Trading 4, I am running out of ISK for buy orders before running out of buy slots.  As I want standing with lots of corporations (at least for buying and refining ore), Mission running L4's is a good fallback activity.

L4 distribution missions pay - lets call it 200,000 ISK + the same in bonus.  L2 missions pay - lets call it 20,000 ISK + the same in bonus.  Similar order of magnitude differences occur on both Loyalty points and Standing gain.  So why bother with poor rewards? 

Connections 4.  This skill raises a 0.01 standing to roughly 1.6.  It has absolutely no effect on a corporation that has a standing of 0 or lower.   This is enough standing to make a difference for refining (my current 'preferred' activity) of roughly 1.3%.  On a 10 Million ISK refining of Veldspar, that is roughly 130,000 ISK. 

A single L1 or L2 mission of any kind successfully completed gives me the difference between a zero raw standing and a non-zero raw standing, allowing the Connections  to do it's 'magic'.

I expect to be refining well into the future at a lot of different systems.  If I am at a system collecting ore and I don't yet have any standing with them - I look to see if I can do any missions for them.  I might not get a full 'L4' mission bonus out of them this time, but the chances are that if I bought ore here once, I am likely to be back here later buying ore from the same miners.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Server maintenance part 3 : pried from your cold dead fingers

You can have my downtime when you pry it from my cold dead fingers. 

Your proposal is acceptable. 
(misquoting Men In Black).

TL:DR; Instead of a uniform shutdown determined by CCP; PVP actions determine when any given game area is shutdown.

Sales pitch

For most players in Europe or the America's, the current downtime suits you.  You don't want the downtime to change.

To the EU and US pirates online around downtime : How many juicy targets do you have around downtime?  Are the few online targets scattered all over the place?  Would you like all those mission runners and traders to be concentrated in just a few regions at the most quiet times?

For Australian carebears : Are you tired of completing missions around downtime and just miss out on handing them in.  How much of a pain do you find it to have to lodge a help request to reset the mission - or simply abandon it?

Help Desk: How would you like those calls to go away (Ok I admit - I probably will make different problems for you at least at first).

CCP: Would you like to improve the participation by Australians?

Possible currencies

I am using the term 'vote' below, whether it is gained by a soap box, ballot box or ammo box; and the more ammo expended the greater the acceptability in an Eve universe.
  • Faction war has Occupancy.  Rewards for victory could include a 'vote' to shift a region to a new timezone.
  • Null sec has Sovereignty Mechanics.  A vote for these could be a majority of controlled systems.
  • Territorial control units even in low or highsec could be counted as a vote. You could even make it so that anyone placing one of these becomes gankable without concord interference, and vulnerable/target-able similar to when placing Cynosural fields.
  • Loyalty Points (I'm important to my NPC), ISK (NPC bribes) and Plex (CCP bribes) (or any mix) could also be counted as votes.
My personal preference is the currency easiest for me to accumulate (ISK).  That said, I PVP currency (probably in the form of control units) would be more acceptable to the wider population.

When downtime starts should not change easily.  It is currently outside of a player's ability to influence.  I want the ability for newbies, carebears and gankers alike to fight to play when they want.   

Downtime change

In my musings I have considered that a region would have the same downtime.  However, the minimum size of the area 'contained' within a downtime could be a system, constellation, region or all faction dominated regions.  To change a system's downtime would be much easier than changing a faction's downtime.

Lets say for arguments sake - you need 75% of votes with a minimum quorum to change downtime for a region.  There should be visibility to at any time where there is an attempt to change, and possibly a 'local chat' message of the day when the vote exceeds certain thresholds.  There could also be a (1 week?) timer initiated when a vote is cast allowing those that disagree to fight to maintain the status quo.

Ideally there would be a carebear driven starter system (and surrounds) with an alternative downtime; and possibly the character selection screen could provide a recommendation of race and faction based on character creation time.  I expect that there would be sufficient carebears in our timezone that would devote time to obtaining votes.

Similarly, I expect that there would be timezone based corporations prepared to carve out a losec region.

Those that want a different downtime are likely to band together;  Those that maintain the current uniform downtime are likely to be too apathetic to worry about it, especially if the 'different downtime' group avoid high population areas like Jita.

CCP could give slight guidance by providing a small (say 5% of votes) bonus from NPC's in regions with a lesser population to shift to an alternative downtime.

Meta Gaming

There was a comment to a previous post "Your enemy lives in region X and has a roaming party or mining fleet out of that region? Hit them when their home region is down so they can't call for reinforcements."

My initial thoughts are 'so what?'.  So are my subsequent ones.  Having a home ground advantage and away from home disadvantage seems to me to be a good thing.  Of course the same applies in reverse: If I am away from home doing some mining and the locals decide to gank me; if I don't have support pre-organised, then I either run away or lose my ships.  This occurs regardless of timezones.  If no-one wants to gank me then I don't have a problem.


  • Sever restarts are required
  • It is technically possible to have some servers down and other servers up
  • In game 'integrity' will be maintained (i.e. not allow account theft or in game duplication)
  • Some players are inconvenienced by current state of uniform shutdowns.
  • Different players will be inconvenienced by a non-uniform shutdowns.
  • Chat servers will have high availability - though not necessarily 100%

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

In favour of region wide buy orders

I had a question on my last post :  For region wide buy orders how will you deal with minerals in low sec stations?

I am currently using region wide buy orders for veldspar (and expanding into other high sec ore), refining the results, and hauling the minerals back to somewhere with demand for them.

I do not mind occasionally getting ore in lowsec stations:
  • I don't play when the pirates play.  For all my whining about having shutdown during my peak game play time, I collect orders when the majority of players (including pirates) are not on.  
  • I don't play where the pirates play.  What is the number 1 trade center? Jita.  If I was a lowsec camping pirate, I would chose the border worlds of a Jita to lowsec route.  I simply don't play there.
  • My collections are ad-hoc; small orders are left for later; moderate size for when I am in the area, with only large orders being collected with any urgency.  Large generally means more than 50% of my largest ship's cargo hold (Iteron IV).  You would be a very dedicated camper to pick when I am heading to lowsec.
  • Only fly what you can afford to lose.  My Iteron IV costs about 900K ISK in Dodixie.  3 Expanded Cargohold II's @ 750K each.  A few other negligible cost modules, and I have a ship costing about 3,200K ISK.  My losec hauler has replaceable implants and a clone with sufficient skill points.  Using a cheaper ship or modules reduces this even further but has reduced cargo space.
  • Not many Velspar miners operate in lowsec.  It happens, but not often.
  • Fly to low sec when the risk is worth it.  Buying cheap Veldspar, refining and turning it into a cargo load of Tritanium to sell at average prices nets me about the same in profit as the ship is worth.
  • Never fly lowsec away from keyboard or with autopilot.
One day my time will be worth more than hauling and I will use a hauling company.  I am not there yet.

Losing a ship on the way to picking up my cargo would be annoying.  I will be a sad hauler when I am ganked with a full cargo load of Tritanium on my return leg.  I am certain it will happen.

Given that I am yet to even see another ship in the lowsec systems I am flying in, at the times I am hauling, I am prepared to take these risks.

A problem region wide buy order is that your orders may be filled in an 'out of your way' system, and has a significant opportunity cost.  My opportunity cost worries my more than the ganking that is yet to happen.

Monday, 21 May 2012

These are not the standings you are looking for

Woo hoo - I have my standing at 5 for both Gallante and Minmatar.  I wasn't quick, but despite spending a fair amount of time in Eve, a lot is /afk (away from keyboard) due to out of Eve priorities.  In terms of time in front of a keyboard it was quick enough.
  • Social 4 (standing increase per mission completed), 
  • Connections 4 (effective standing improvement for friendly NPC factions, corps, and agents)
  • Starter Career agents - up to 10 missions / agent; 5 per system; 3 systems / faction; 2 allied factions; (I think? I have one more starter career system that I can do - not sure)
  • Lost that bet mission series
  • 1 level 2 storyline mission
  • Data center missions :
    • 4 graduate certificate missions
    • 3 x copper tag missions
    • 3 other tag missions
With the exception of the exploration chain the starter career agent missions are quick enough to do.  For the exploration chain once you have found the cosmic signature sites; get enough certificates for as many exploration missions as you are likely to want to do (3 of each for a faction; another 3 for an allied faction; plus more if you want to run your opposing faction / alts).  Also buy up and reprocess any starter reward ships being sold for less than their reprocessed mineral value.

After all of this, I was at standing 5.1 with Gallante, and 5.0 for Minmatar;  should be enough to get a significant discount on my refining (6.67 standing and you no longer lose minerals to the refining stations - depending on refining skill and station level). Umm.   No.

Maybe I was told and didn't understand it.  Maybe I didn't understand what I was reading.  Just because a faction loves you, doesn't mean that their corporations will give you a discount on refining.  Faction standing gives you nice things, but not a refining/reprocessing bonus.  Corporation standing gives the refining bonus.

Corporation missions gives corporation standing.  Faction standing gives you better quality agents (hence better corporation missions).  For an agent to give you a mission; it appears that you must have, with the agent, corporation or faction the following standing:
  • Anyone who can get into a station can do level 1 agent missions.
  • 1.0 standing allows level 2 agent missions. 
  • 3.0 allows level 3 agent missions.
  • 5.0 allows level 4 agent missions.
  • 7.0 allows level 5 agent missions.
Finding definitive answers to what standings are required was harder than I expected - it appears that there was a standing rules re-write making some older websites obsolete (either that or I am totally lost).  However http://wiki.eveuniversity.org/Missions had an explicit table.

The missions I have completed are not wasted; they have given me 4+ standing for some corporations that I wanted anyway, and I now have access to about 80 level 4 distribution agents.

I can not chain the L4 distribution missions as easily.  My Iteron IV can only hold the cargo for 2-3 L4 missions and the agents are not that close to each other.  I will most likely play with chaining L3 distribution missions and compare it to doing single L4 distribution missions.  Gut feel says L4 is better but I should confirm it.

For the record I have been told that you can tag along with some else's L4 missions, but for frequent AFK play - it doesn't work so well for either party.  Plus a lot of players have a mild preference for solo play.

My research was faulty and I did not get the 'reward' (cheap refining faction wide) that I was looking for.  As a consolation I do have access to L3 & L4 distribution missions and cheaper refining at a few stations.

At the moment I am choosing less traveled regions (i.e. not Jita), placing dirt cheap region wide buy orders on minerals until I spend most of my ISK.  I am part way through training 'margin trading', allowing me to have more in 'buy' orders than I can cover in one hit, relying on ongoing sales to replenish ISK. 

p.s. part 3 of server maintenance is not forgotten - just coming soon.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Server maintenance part 2 - technical fix

My last post whined about server shutdowns.  My game time is interrupted enough by real life; so I don't want the server to have it's own interruptions.

'Come back in a few minutes' message at least leaves anticipation.  You are still in the real world and can do real world things. 'Good bye' in the middle of a gaming session throws you out of your immersive experience, throwing you back into the real world; often ending your day's play on a sour note.

On a conceptual level - Eve shutdowns do more than just annoy us.  They really are the equivalent of a maintenance for your car.  It's annoying to be without your car, and it costs time and money to do.  CCP (or any other game company) would not have server shutdowns if there was an easy way around it.

I am simplifying concepts when I can.  There will be specifics that I get wrong; but it is the big picture that I am looking for.  I am showing I 'get' the problems; establishing my credentials to show I also 'get' solutions.  Simplifications include but are not limited to:
  • Program includes procedure, function, and system calls.
  • Computer resources includes memory, disk space, semaphores.
  • Server includes physical machines, virtual machines, and services.

The problem

Programs use computer resources (mostly memory but others too).  They grab resources when they want to do something, and are meant to release them when finished.   However not every program is as well written as you would like - and those resources are not always released when a program finishes.  Then there are the programs that crash part way through, never even having the opportunity to clean up.  These are very easy to clean up as part of a restart; and very hard to clean up at any other time.

We all want to get our data quickly.  Your data might be your skill list, your inventory list, a market, or even how much damage your weapons do.  These are stored in databases (or structured lists of items).  Now imagine you have a notepad listing all your inventory.  At first you add the data in a date received order, and cross out anything you sell or destroy.  After a while it gets painful to find your widget x, so you copy it to an alphabetical list and leave blank space for new inventory.  Then even that gets painful.  Now imagine you are managing this list for not just your inventory but for every player, every mail, inventory, skill, market in the game.  This is the the database problemIndexes speed the search but insertions and deletions cause trouble.  It is easiest to clean up an index when no-one is using the system.

Frequently, the server software changes.  It is much easier to install new software when no-one else is using it.  Sometimes the client software changes.  Having servers to cope with two (sometimes incompatible) client versions is a pain.  Server shutdowns allow a clean break between old and new, making things simpler.

A solution

There are ways to do all of the above without shutting a server down regularly.  Nuclear power plants, life support equipment all do so.  Generally this involves having a complete copy of your system, and switching your software over so quickly that the end user doesn't see anything more than a blip.  Of course you do want your game fees to double don't you?  No?  Then live with shutdowns.

But you can have staggered shutdowns; not all the servers shutdown all at the same time.  With the strategy below - you will always be able to do something on one of your characters, even if the total disruption time is longer.  It is about ensuring you can do most activities in most locations (almost) all of the time. (The default current situation is that you can do all activities in all locations most of the time).

There will be servers to process:
  • User login
  • In game mail - both sending and receiving
  • In game chat
  • Markets (we already know these are divided by region)
  • Inventory (probably has live characters active, with offline characters stored away).
  • System movement and combat (we already know these are system based, and can be dynamically allocated according to system load).
Where a game client update is required - then everyone is booted out at normal maintenance times.  (There are ways to work around this requirement but lets get the easier to fix issues done first)

Restart each region individually.   Some regions go down early and come back up early, most go down normally and come back up normally.  Some regions go down late and come back up late.
  • You can not move into a region that is down (or possibly is about to go down).  
  • If you are active in a region that is down - then you get disconnected from that character but not from the character selection screen.
  • You can only work a market for a region that is up.

There would still be a maximum single session login time.  Currently this is a little less than 24 hours; and could remain.  There will be (at least) 2 inventory servers. When you login, and when you change regions your current inventory/stats/standings etc (for most purposes 'you') are allocated to an inventory server. Offline character data maintenance can be done whenever.

While the mail servers are down, you can not send a mail and you won't get new mail.  However it may be possible to allow you to see existing mail (depending on the mail implementation).

Split the chat software up into multiple parts; local; player to player; and general.  Local chat would retart during regional server restarts.  Player to player and general chat channels would restart on different timers.
When the login server is down - you obviously can't login , but would have no other impact.  If there was one server you would make high availability (i.e. extra redundancy) this would be it.

As far as I know, one or more system movement and combat servers are allocated to systems.  These could be restarted when the relevant region is restarted.

The player experience.

The ideal player experience is one where a player does not have to deal with server shutdowns.  The next best thing is one where you can do what you want 'somewhere' even if you can't do it everywhere whenever you want.

With the outline above, apart from when the actual login authentication servers are down, users will be able to logon to the game and play somewhere (unless they have all 3 alts in one the same game timezone).  When a shutdown is about to start, instead of being told that you are about to be booted, instead you are told that this region is about to be rebooted and be told where you can play instead. 

I would recommend that at least one newbie system has a different restart time than the others; Newbie retention is the hardest part of the game, and you would much prefer it to be as available as possible.  Newbies would be 'suggested' by the game to start in timezones that fit their preferences (either implicit by when they login or explicit as part of account creation)

When newbies and veterans of differing experience learn what parts of the universe are available at different times, they will gravitate towards the areas that are up when they are, minimizing their gaming disruption.

Game availability - while not entirely zero-sum is still a winners and losers game.  Given all other things remain equal; for me to have access to a patch of the universe when I am awake probably means that others do not have access to that same patch when they are.

Fortunately Eve lends itself to player determination very well.  What timezones get access to what parts of the universe is a topic for another post.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Server Maintenance part 1 (aka the whine)

One of the reasons I avoided EVE for so long was the daily server maintenance. 

My natural gaming availability is 8:45pm to about 10:30pm, and ad-hoc times apart from that.  I might log in; tinker; get called away; come back again.  Timing has also restricted my WoW raiding, with the family resigning to be largely one member less on a Friday night for my raid.   In a game without a pause button, one thing that does lend itself well to ad-hoc playing is crafting and auctioning.  I think that is where my I started my goldmaking career - finding an activity to suit my availability.

EVE's scheduled shutdown starts at 9pm local time (Australian Eastern Standard time).  Having a scheduled 1/2 hour every night not being able to play during my peak game time put me off.

I find it annoying being kicked off when I want to play; but the actual downtime is rarely the full half hour; with this evening being more like 15 minutes.  I have in part rescheduled some of my available time to fit into the game time.  It isn't as disrupting as I feared, but it is disrupting.

One thing that MMO's do is encourage you to log in regularly, and give you things to do to stay logged in.  Server maintenance disrupts that.  Eve gives players in our timezone a disadvantage.  Then when Daylight savings comes around, it disadvantages a different set of players.  (There are also advantages but today I am whining)

Imagine you were an MMO player who has a preferred playtime was during WoW's regular shutdown - you simply would choose a different game other than WoW.  In Eve: for the adults on the Australian eastern seaboard; the players in Hong Kong (and probably the teenagers in Western Australia New Zealand), we are encouraged to choose a different game. (edit: it helps if I get my east and west and what that means for timezones sorted)

Now I work in I.T.  I fully understand the requirement for restarting servers, and in theory understand some of what they do during shutdown.   I also dislike whining for the sake of it.

Today's post describes what my problem is.  Future posts (coming soon) describe:
  • technically what happens during a (generic) shutdown, and how to work around it; and 
  • how to sell it to an Eve population.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Claim your gifts

Thanks to the goblinworks channel in Eve for heads up on this one.  (It might be in the Eve loading screen but if so, I missed it.)

Login to the community website http://community.eveonline.com/devblog.asp?a=blog&nbid=28620, and choose one of these sets.
  • Fire All Lasers (with Dignity) - Omen and Maller (Cruisers) + Medium Energy Turret and Amarr Cruisers (Skill Books)
  • Duty, Honor, State (and Missiles) - Caracal and Moa (Cruisers) + Assault Missiles, Medium Hybrid Turret, Heavy Missiles, Caldari Cruiser (Skill Books)
  • Deadly Elegance (Drones Extra) - Vexor and Thorax (Cruisers) + Medium Hybrid Turret and Gallente Cruisers (Skill Books)
  • Heavy Iron (Rusted) - Stabber and Rupture (Cruisers) + Assault Missiles, Medium Projectile Turret, Heavy Missiles, Minmatar Cruiser (Skill Books)
  • Plug and Play - Full set of +2 Attribute Implants (Limited Ocular Filter Beta, Limited Neural Boost Beta...etc...)
  • Refine Your Skills - Memory Augmentation Standard and Cybernetic Subprocessor Standard (Implants) + Scrapmetal, Ice and all other ore Processing (Skillbooks)
  • Drill Bits - 10x each ore mining crystal I's (10x Arkonor Mining Crystal I, 10x Bistot Mining Crystal I...etc...10 x Veldspar Mining Crystal I)
  • A Paxist Treasure - Pax Ammaria - Collector's Item

After you have selected your gift, you will get a new 'Redeem Item' option on the character selection screen the next time you login.

I am always somewhat ambivalent about in game freebies (I had been making some ISK selling some of the above - a market that is temporarily squashed), but that won't stop me taking some advantage of the above.  Failing anything else, you can sit on your choice (and possibly pick up some with cheap buy orders) and sell it later.

 To join the goblinworks channel, right click on the chat icon open channels and search for it.

The current Goblinworks message of the day follows:

Monday, 7 May 2012


There is a lot of ISK to be made selling flavour of the month weaponry and their consumables.  I have made a lot of (WoW) gold catering to those markets. Knowing what players are equipping and when those recommendations change is valuable.

I am not in a position (yet) to seriously chase equipment and supplies sales as I am still on my faction standing grind, but I did find the dev blog's article about the Jita burn event.

It was an interesting read.  I could never imagine Blizzard encouraging the loss of the undereducated's battles (e.g. the breaking of WGClean).  An unnamed CCP senior producer's response was "f*cking brilliant" (direct quote from the dev blog article above).  This isn't carebear school anymore.

But the most valuable item for me to read was the section titled Metrics; listing the top 20 damage done and shots fired.  Sure, I have found recommendations about equipment at Battleclinic; but seeing what was actually consumed was good.  Established PVP'ers would generally already know this information.  As someone who is unlikely to fire many PVP shots, this took "I think" and turned it into "This happened"

Friday, 4 May 2012

Standing up

Do a google search for "eve grind faction standing", and you receive a lot of advice; mostly about grinding missions and storyline missions.  Do 16 missions of a certain level and you get a faction's storyline mission giving you faction standing.

I was trying to follow this advice with L2 distribution missions.  I have received better advice, both in game, and as a comment on this blog; especially for a newbie player with low standing.

Is what you are doing earning a decent standing with your required faction, corporation or agent?  Character Sheet -> Standings -> right click and show transactions for who you are trying to raise standing with.

Data Centers

Data center missions can be found at http://wiki.eveonline.com/en/wiki/Data_Centers.
Per faction, there are 3 graduate certificate missions, and a series of Keeping Crime in Check missions requiring you to gather pirate tags.  You can do all 3 graduate certificate missions, and one follow up series.  From the previous link - Caution: Farming 10 tags can take over a week. Do not accept the mission unless you have enough money to buy the tags.  Personally I would recommend not even talking to these agents until you have your tags.

The starting agents are in space.  I had been trained to look for agents in stations and spent some time not even finding a station.  Warp to the data center and then you can find your agents.

Place buy orders for tags when you realise you might do the missions.  There appears to be a very wide spread between buy and sell prices.  You also may do better buying tags outside the zones (e.g. Serpentis copper tags were being sold for 400,000 in Galente regions, but 40,000 in Minmatar regions)

Edit: Despite there being 3 copper tags missions; it appears you can only hand them in once per faction.  Also the copper tag missions require 3 tags, the rest require 20 tags.

Cosmos Agents. 

Doing the data center missions above you have started some Cosmos agent missions; but there are more.  Eve wiki has pages for each faction's cosmos agents.

Starter missions

You should have completed these once already.  I let a couple of mine lapse thinking starter missions can't be worth that much.  The starter ISK is useful; the standing boost is fantastic.  There are 3 of these per faction.

A list of starter missions, their rewards,  and the source systems is at http://wiki.eveuniversity.org/Tutorial_and_Career_Agents_in_Eve

Also, just in case - if a mission calls for a civilian widget and you have a real widget; strip your real one and put the civilian one in.  On one of the missions (sorry I don't remember which one), I could not scan? decrypt? salvage? with the real unit and had to dock and fit the civilian equivalent.  For all subsequent missions - I just use the civilian options where available.

For newbie ISK, place low bid orders for the rewards (also on the link above).  Many players (including newbies) will sell to the most convenient seller.  I have purchased many ships well below unskilled reprocessed value.

These missions are also much easier to do in a Destroyer than a Frigate; the additional high slots help.

Allied Faction

Do the missions for your allied faction (eg Gallante/Minmatar); there is derived standing gain from doing your allied faction's missions.  For me currently this is about 60% but the number is changing based on something  - but there are slowly diminishing returns. 

When doing the starter missions for your allied faction - either learn Frigate 2 for that faction, or take a couple of surplus frigates with you; some missions want you to blow up your current ship.  You may also want to take some Velspar, Tritanium, Cap Booster 25, Mining lasers, weapons and ammunition.   My original Gallante starter system was well supplied on the Market.  My first Minmatar starter mission system was far less so.


I  still spend to long per faction standing point, but playing smarter not harder has worked.