Monday 23 June 2014

Running multiple Eve Launchers - my solution

This post is way to technical, not quite fit for player consumption.  It is however fit for developer consumption, and I am publish this in the hopes that someone with a Windows scripting background runs with it.  If you do not have a scripting background, your eyes are liable to glaze over.

Once upon a very very long time ago, on a computer before the ones we are using now; when we wanted to run multiple concurrent eve clients, we made junctions of our Eve folders.  Each time we wanted to change a pilot, we had to enter a user name and password.

Once upon a time, but more recently than that, when we wanted to run multiple concurrent clients we called the Eve exe once per concurrent client.  Each time we wanted to change a pilot, we still had to enter the username and password.

Today, here and now, when you want to change pilots inside an account, we have this 'wonderful' Eve launcher that allows us to remember our accounts user name and password and access the Eve store, but ...  you must re-enter the username/password when you want to change pilots between accounts.

I find this frustrating; especially when resetting my PI.  Planetary Interaction is limited by the number of planets you have.  More alts with PI means more planets.  But using alts means more logging in.

My old method of resetting PI is :
  • Log onto every account, selecting the pilot that has been offline the longest.
  • Do PI.  At any time there is a break move onto the next account's pilot; Especially during the warp from POCO back to POS
  • When finished with a pilot log onto the next longest offline pilot on that account.
  • Whine about having to re-enter username/password when swapping accounts.  Sometimes get up and for some cheese.
When you do this on ... too many accounts it becomes tiresome.  There are some PI pilots I know with way more accounts than I run.  The same issues may apply for heavy research, manufacturing and market accounts.

An Eve folder contains the following files and folders
  • A launcher folder
  • Other folders include bin, bulkdata, lib, res and script
  • A whole series of files, including 
    • *.stuff files, containing textures, sounds and other in game resources
    • *.patch files, apparently can be deleted once applied
    • *.exe files, being the actual executables
    • *.ini files, containing various some configuration information
    • cacert.pem and ca-bundle.crt which I believe to do with encryption
    • debug.log, obvious file is obvious
    • code.ccp, manifest.dat, __access_check__; file names are indicative, but *shrug*

So I googled; and found lots of entries from before the 'new' launcher. 

I tried to copy the launcher folder itself and running the launcher.exe that is in it; no luck, it would not start a new launcher window.

What roughly worked was copying the entire eve folder.  This allowed me to have 2 Eve launchers concurrently, but copying 18GB of data takes a long time as well as a fair amount of disk space.  It also means that your system can't cache the same files; meaning lower overall system performance.  I wanted better.

What I am now using.

4 Launcher windows all open at the same time. 
Apart from cropping and obscuring the account name, these accounts are all active at the same time.

Each additional Eve instance takes 174MB
Again, cropping and obscuring personal information.

I have a script '' that takes an Eve folder, and replicates it
  • Copying the launcher folder as is, where is;  This obviously is copying stuff not needed (including old log and browser cache files), but is quick and small enough
  • For all other folders, junctions into the replicated folder back to the originals in the primary Eve folder.  These must be junctions, symbolic links did not work.
  • All files are hard linked into the replicated folder back to the original files in the primary Eve folder
All of this takes about 15 seconds per replicated folder,  at 1% of a full Eve installation.  This could be made smaller by working out what is needed out of the Eve installation; I suspect that a launcher/cache folder structure without files would save space, but so far have not been bothered adding that complexity to my script.  It also is very flexible in coping with future CCP changes. 
  • Update the 'master' normally with  the launcher.
  • re-run the script to blow away the existing replicated folders, and make new versions of them.

On my version of windows, the personal settings are in %localappdata%\CCP\EVE, with a new fresh set of files for every replicated folder.  I am contemplating changing my script to copy my primary installation's settings over to the replicated folders, but have not yet decided.  I like the idea of updating my overview once, and then automatically cloning it, but have not gotten that far yet.

My command prompt environment and scripting language, is a bash shell from cygwin ( ).  The script itself is available as a pastebin or google drive document.

As always, too many words, not enough pretty pictures. I also suspect that for the majority of readers, this takes the prize for 'Driest Foo post ever'.   On top of that, I have based my scripts on my skillset; which is a Unix/Linux based scripting language in a Windows environment; so it is not yet even useful to the majority of you, at least not yet.  It is also likely useless for Mac users.

What I do know is that there are others with more Windows based scripting knowledge than I have, that could easily translate this into a Dos batch file, or failing that a Powershell script, so it is available to the wider Eve community. 

Assuming you have actually read this far, if you have something like this script that anyone can use, either based on this work or independently created, please leave a comment.  Similarly, if you are lacking in scripting skills and want something like this without the cygwin dependancy, also leave a comment.

Saturday 14 June 2014

Small industrial corporations : CCP induced Tears and a (idealistically) hopeful wishlist

The Foo corporations bring respectable industry to Wormhole Space.  Occasionally, Wormhole Space will have firm words to say to me about this travesty. 

Despite being small industry based corporations, we have very limited API checks; primarily to test that a pilot has the minimal skills required to do industry in our wormholes.  Our required skill list is 15 days training on an unmapped, no implant newbie.

We have POS, Pocos, knowledge and mutual self defence. 

Our POS are not only where we refit and store our well/ill gotten gains, but also where we do industry.  Sometimes this is research and manufacture based around cheap blueprints.  Raiders: Move along, no loot to see here. 

As someone who is paying a lot of attention the development of the next few releases; Industry now, and later Corporation roles, I have hopes.

But then : "Tax rate at a POS makes no sense, since you can only install corporation jobs that get paid from the corporation wallet, you would only be taxing yourself." CCP Nullarbor on [Crius] Starbase feedback

This post is my tears in response.


Today, I currently charge far too cheap taxes according to the following rules:
  • 10K/hour research slots.  This is where pilots put ISK into their own division, and then ISK is transferred to the master wallet by installing jobs.
  • 50m/month for exclusive division access.  One player per division (plus alts and first life friends). This is where player stuff is secured, at least until our POS are re-inforced.  This is organised by prior agreement, 'voluntary' player donations, JEveAssets to find those donations and an ugly spreadsheet.
  • PI tax according to one of the following:
    • 4% default POCO tax OR
    • 20M/month/pilot and 0% POCO tax based on standings with the POCO holding corporation. Again this is organised by ugly spreadsheets.
POS have risk; we might get blown up.  POS have costs, not only does a good POS cost 1B to put up, but they also cost 500M/month in fuel.  We are happy with these risks and costs; but someone has to pay the bill. 

When a corporation is 100% full, with busy PI pilots, I make about 20% profit over the cost of the POS fuel.  When a corp is 50% full, I make a loss.  I should be charging different taxes; but these are details.  For the time being I am happy that I can do this, even if I would prefer different tools.

The future

What CCP have to decide with the apparently Pro Industry/Pro Corporation changes is : Do you want to make it easier for small to medium industry corporations to grow?  Do you want to make it harder?

While I am what some would call a carebear, I still don't want everything to go in one direction.  I firmly believe that there should be 'interesting choices'.    Here is my wishlist for tools to allow me to grow my wormhole industry corporations.  

Revamp POS and corporation roles.  A POS revamp will cause CCP developer tears.  Have a tissue and a few months or maybe a few years or whenever we build our next type of station.  Let me build a (destroyable) station in wormhole space if necessary.

This is how I want CCP to revamp POS and corporation roles.

There should be two types of storage:
  • Larger communal storage.  This is where we put large bulky but cheap things.  Ore.  Unprocessed PI goo.  Way too many epithals.  T1 components.
  • Smaller secure storage that can contain expensive items.  This is where I put expensive things Blueprints, Battleships, T3 ships, Fully processed PI goo, Spare fuel.
When I add a storage array of either kind, it should simply add to the total available space for that kind.  Separate ship hangers from other hangers if you must.  Storage in individual arrays really should disappear.    I want to start jobs based on BP's and mats that I can access in the POS. 

While storage remains limited, (and I am happy that it does), I want to allocate a quota of storage to pilots or titles or some group. I want to tax pilots for access to this limited storage.

I would like to issue automated monthly bills to pilots in our corporation; and allow pilots to auto pay these bills if they desire to do so.  I want to be able to see outstanding bills that are owing to our corp.  This will allow me time in game running activities rather than time with my spreadsheets out of game.
Allow me to continue to tax on use of various modules.  I know module slot limits are going to disappear, but it is currently corp income; why remove this?  My question for corbexx (csm wormhole member) was : Find out how many corps currently charge for use of research/manufacture modules.  If corps are currently charging tax to members for slots; allow us to continue to do so.

I want to hide titles from the public.  Currently all you need to work out alts of many WH corporations is to look at their titles.  We use this against our enemies, they use it against us.  Pointless to use it against me.  Find a Foo in one of our corps and you have found me.  My spy alts are out of corp.

Give the CEO/directors access to personal hanger arrays.  When I pull a tower down due to an emergency, or even just because I want to change tower size or type, I want to at least know what I am about to destroy in absent pilots hangers; and preferably would like to be able to move stuff.

I want more than 7 discreet divisions per POS.  At least one division per title, but preferably unlimited 'divisions'. (a CEO can dream?).  Give me this and I will invite more pilots into wormhole space, because I can mix more untrusted newbies with paranoid veterans.  However, I can't even convince corbexx  why this is needed.  If you feel this is wanted, please leave a comment.  Similarly, if you feel this is a "Pants on head" idea, say so to.

Give us alliance bookmarks.  If this occurs, I will create alliances.  I have a pilot with Empire Control 5 waiting for an excuse to buy the Sovereignty skillbook.

In conclusion

I am adaptable; I will cope with whatever tools CCP gives us.  New 'tools' take time (and first life currency) to build.

If that means new POS and the corps to go with it; I will build new POS and corps.  There are however limits to the number of POS and corps that I am willing to build.  

Thursday 12 June 2014

Eve Beta client - Windows edition

  • Copy your Eve folder to another folder
  • Point your Eve executable at Singularity
  • Go and explore
  • Leave a comment on the right forums when you have issues.

A large part of Crius has been applied to Singularity - the Eve Beta Tester server.

By installing the Beta client, you get to actually see what we might be getting ahead of the rest.  I occasionally look at Beta tests so I can get a 'knowledge' advantage ahead of those that don't.  It is one thing sometimes to read patch notes, it is another to get hands on experience.

The Beta client is good for players who :
  • Want 'early access' to new changes;
  • Want a place they can do 'crazy expensive stuff you would never do in live'.  Most things are available from NPC seeded markets at 100 ISK/unit;
  • Are patient with many many updates on a regular basis;
  • Want to play Eve while the primary server is down
The Beta client is bad for players who :
  • Have limited internet quota; There are a lot of big downloads.
  • Like a polished game; This is a test server
  • Want to keep accomplishments; The test server is often blown away with live data
  • Are scared of computers.  Seriously, lots are and that's OK. My changes are relatively simple, but I am very comfortable with the insides of PC's (both software and to a degree - hardware)

I run windows 8.1, with a slightly different default program files directory, but the same process occurs regardless of what version of Windows you run.  For Linux/Mac users, I don't have personal experience.

With the instructions below, if at any stage you are asked to show hidden folders, or asked to confirm with administrator privileges, to follow these instructions, you will need to show/confirm.  

Open Windows Explorer, and go to "%ProgramFiles(x86)%"

For most of you this will take you to C:\Program Files (x86).  I have a slightly different folder structure.

From here navigate to CCP.  You will have a folder named 'Eve'.

Copy this Eve folder and rename the folder to something you will remember : I use EveBeta but the name does not matter.

In your copied folder, you will find a file eve.exe.  You need to make a 'shortcut' to this file.  Again rename the shortcut to something memorable. 

To do this on Windows 8, you will highlight the eve.exe file and right click to Create shortcut.
If my memory serves me, in earlier versions of MS Windows you will 'Copy' then 'Paste Shortcut'; again with a right click.

You also need to add "/server:Singularity" to your shortcut target.  On your shortcut - right mouse click - Properties and edit the target. 

You can also copy this shortcut to your desktop.

The very first time you want to use the test server, expect to download a large patch.  In fact, every time you connect to the test server, expect to download patches, and be pleasantly surprised if you don't.

If you are a wormhole pilot; I have some sad news for you.  Your POS is gone on Singularity.  You might have been copied over while not in a scanning ship.  In which case this might mean exploding your pod.  It's OK, its only test.  ISK is not an issue.

If you find my instructions a little confusing (and that's OK), the Eve wiki has a similar set of instructions:

Feedly DDOS and short term alternatives

Feedly, a significant source of readers to many blogs, is down; as per due to a distributed denial of service attack.

As a short term way to get your Eve blog fix, please read :
Both of these sites have over 100 Eve blogs syndicated, to keep you up with your Eve fix while you can't be in game.

Edit: Feedly is back up.

Just in case, I have taken a backup of my feeds as an OPML file.  For those interested in what I really read, you can use

Thursday 5 June 2014

T1 scanning ships - Home system

One of our corp members lost a scanner recently while setting up bookmarks.  This post is to inform others about how I do most of my scanning, using T1 ships.

The T1 scanning frigates are Heron, Magnate, Probe and Imicus.  It really does not matter what frigate you use, so simply use the one you have highest racial frigate for.

While a T2 scanning frigate  (Anathema, Buzzard, Helios, Cheetah) are a superior scanning ship, a lot of our scanning is done in alts.  We are a series of Wormhole PI farming corps, and not all of us have access to our well skilled mains are off doing their thing.  Often it is our basic skilled alts left at 'home'.

The goals is efficient scanning and efficient bookmarking (including tacs).  Not losing your ship is part of efficient scanning.  My personal fitting preference is that a ship be good at a primary role, with any secondary duties (eg dps) very much a secondary consideration.

An example of what to fly

[Heron, BasicScanner]

Nanofiber Internal Structure I
Nanofiber Internal Structure I

1MN Microwarpdrive I
Scan Acquisition Array I
Scan Pinpointing Array I
Scan Pinpointing Array I
Scan Rangefinding Array I

Prototype Cloaking Device I
Core Probe Launcher I, Core Scanner Probe I
Light Ion Blaster I, Iron Charge S

Small Gravity Capacitor Upgrade I
Small Gravity Capacitor Upgrade I
[Empty Rig slot]

Hornet EC-300 x3
Acolyte TD-300 x3
Warrior I x1

The core of this fit is:
  • Probe Launcher and probes
  • 2 rig upgrades
  • Prototype cloak
The probe launcher and probes are obvious, you can't scan without something here.  Sister probes and launcher or maybe the T2 launcher has some marginal value, where either you have a low skilled alt or you are in a combat situation (eg blockade).  The rigs are there as a performance improvement as well.  Keep one or 2 sets of probes as spares.  I have occasionally lost launched probes due to a DC, and even a reconnect didn't work. Also spare probes can be reload while you are scanning.

The prototype cloak is for when you are scanning away from home.  If you are scanning it is easier if you don't also have to concentrate on bouncing between planets; making and using safe spots.
The MWD is for making tac bookmarks (more later). Also mildly useful to pulse then cloak if you find yourself having jumped through a WH into trouble, at a cost of additional align time.
Semi optional are the 3 Scan Arrays, ... I think.  Rumour has it that mid slot scanning arrays might becoming 'active' modules in an upcoming patch.  This rumour is still unconfirmed. If this change does go ahead, you will not be able to cloak and still use them.  If you are in a system that you have a POS, they have benefits.  If you are in dangerous space and don't have access to a POS forcefield, they become situational; i.e. when scanning fast is more urgent than staying alive.

The gun, drones and nanofibre are optional.  These are merely options that might make a difference if you get caught.  If you need them, you are most likely toast anyway.  They might make a difference, but I doubt it.  WCS are an option for lowslots, increasing your align time from 2.96s to 3.84s (perfect skills) but giving you another option.  I prefer the faster align time.

Another option is some cap recharge for the MWD for low skilled pilots.

You will note everything on this ship is T1, and the only even partially expensive item is the cloak.  I don't want to lose any ship; but if I lose this one so be it.  I don't think I have ever seen a scenario where meta modules fits would have made any difference to one of my T1 scanners.   Any pilot with the skills to use T2 scanning modules can probably fly a covops frigate anyway.

The specifics of the fit are less important.  Nothing is sacred in the above fit, and many pilots will tell you that it is 'fail' for so many different reasons.  I sometimes like to get 2 pilots with strongly held fitting ideas into the same conversation and enjoy the popcorn. 

How to fly them

We generally make tactical bookmarks around choke points.  The most obvious of these is the wormhole entrance itself.  We want this more than 150k away from the wormhole, and my preference is on grid, so generally less than 250k. 

The 'paranoid' method of scanning at home is:
  1. Warp to nearby but offgrid safespot.
  2. Lauch probes
  3. Warp back to POS
  4. Scan until you have found the WH's you were looking for. (All WH's will be within 8AU of a planet; most are within 4 AU)
  5. If the WH is not within Dscan
    • Warp to a safespot or 70/100 k from a nearby POCO, Moon, or Planet.  If you lose your ship by flying into a hostile POS in your home system, consider the lost ship a valuable lesson.
  6. Dscan, looking for bubbles/ships.  If you see unknown ships or bubbles, let your corp members know.  For us that is via an intel mailing list as well as in game chat.  Whatever works for your corp is fine too.
  7. Warp 100K to the wormhole. Bookmark the wormhole from your overview (exact) NOT from your scanning window (within 5k).
  8. If overview has ships or bubbles on it either cloak or run away.  Decide quickly; either answer is fine.
  9. Assuming you did not run away, fly either up or down until you are at least 160k from the wormhole.  
    • If your overview and dscan remains clear, use MWD
    • If your overview or dscan has neutral or known hostiles, but no combat probes on dscan, MWD, cloak or warp away
    • If you see combat probes, even on dscan, the MWD is not enough.  In this case either cloak or run away.
  10. Once you get at least 160k from the wormhole; roughly either above or below it, bookmark that spot (from people/places)
As an alternative to step 9 above, while you are still 100K from the wormhole:
  • Warp  to a safe spot or celestial that is away from the wormhole but not on a direct line to your POS.
  • Warp to 100K from this intermediate bookmark.  If you are within about 160k, rinse and repeat.

The bookmark is not in a direct line from your standard approach, assisting in avoiding to avoid bubbles.  It is either up or down so that orbiting ships won't de-cloak you if you decide to cloak.

I use the 160k bookmark as a base of what I fly my industrials to.  Often to 50/70/100k from that bookmark.  From this bookmark, you can see what is on the wormhole, yet still be able to warp to it.  I don't know of any ship that can point you at 160k, there are few enough camping ships that can lock at that range.

The reason I prefer at least 160k is you often coast a little when coming out of warp and I want at least a small distance buffer.  Any distance between 160k and about 250k works easily.  Much more than 250k and you risk being off grid; still valuable in their own right but not what I generally use.

The above method is paranoid and a little longer than simply flying to a wormhole.  9 times in 10, there will be no-one on the WH when you first scan in your home system, especially if you have only the expected number of wh's scanned (2 for C2's, 1 everywhere else).   You could decide to simply eat the few ship losses by not bothering with this.

However, the cost of losing a ship is more than just the ISK value; but also the possible loss of a scanning pilot for an unknown duration.  You might be podded. It might be the start of an extended camp or even worse, an eviction.

I don't know that I can get my pod away on the loss of a ship. I don't know when I will be able to get home after a podding. I would rather not lose a ship in the first place, and will generally perform all/most/some of the 'paranoid' steps above.

Where I have lost scanning ships is by simply not paying sufficient attention.  Being called AFK while warping to a wormhole, especially when deciding you can warp directly to a wormhole, is not always the safest of activities.

The reference to 'Home System' is because this article is long enough and I intend to write an 'away system' post soon(tm).

Nothing in Eve is perfectly safe, nor do I want it to be.  I have been on grid with neutrals, and escaped in these ships, with this method.  That is good enough for me.