September 30, 2013

Rubicon and Mercenaries

Everyone's talking about Rubicon. I feel like it's getting more attention than many of the recent expansions, even. For good reason too; some really nifty additions and changes that are coming with this expansion are posed to shake up the norm in many regards.  We're all working off of the broad outlines of the announcement, of course, and CCP will let more detailed information leak through as mid November draws nearer, but there's been some pretty good analysis of what's to come already.  I'd like to focus on what Rubicon means for mercenaries, specifically for how I envision Noir. taking advantage of these things.

Being a mercenary in EVE is not an easy way to play the game, especially if you have a mind to start a corporation up from scratch.  Take a look at the Crime & Punishment forum and you'll see a half dozen or so new mercenary threads each day, with pretty varying degrees of reception.  It's not hard to figure out why. Most mercenary corporations start out in high sec, war deccing whoever they're paid to . . . and war deccing anyone they can when they're not paid to.  As a mercenary group gets 'better' they move into other space, low, null, or WH.  Generally. Luckily for Noir., we've made a name for ourselves, and we're hired quite often, but even we have our slow times.  How's Rubicon going to affect that?


Well, for starters the new deployables are going to be great for us, both for contracts and non-contract times.  One of our most popular contract type has us living out of our ships in deep null with no base of operation. If you lose a ship, you have to bring another one out from high sec some 30-40 jumps out. The "space yurt", as Ali calls it, is perfect for these types of contracts.  Using one of these, our options just got exponentially greater, allowing us to bring much more to the table and react to the situation.  If this was the only deployable added, we'd be in heaven.  A mercenary corporation that lives behind enemy lines should use these at all opportunities. But there's more.

The siphon is another incredible feature for mercenaries.  Asset Denial is an incredibly common contract type, where we do what it sounds like - deny the target any and all assets from his space that we possibly can, whether it's ratting, complexes, mining, or whatever.  Now, we're able to take directly from their passive incomes without having to go toe-to-toe in a battle over a POS. Often, we're outnumbered in our contracts, and we don't have the option of contesting our targets over their large assets. This changes that, allowing small groups, like mercenaries, to hit a target harder, in an area that was previously well-protected, and do it on our terms. This little gem also gives us a lot of opportunity for income when not on contract, and that can be a real lifesaver for a small mercenary group. This is another really attractive feature for mercenaries.

Customs Offices

Another nice addition is the high sec customs offices.  There's going to be a mad grab for these initially, and while Noir. rarely operates in high sec, there may be some potential for new contracts in this area. I see this as a terrific opportunity for budding mercenary corporations to really spread their wings and branch out, though. These are great money makers for the owners, and if your organization is known for doing these well, don't be surprised if your mailbox gets flooded with requests to take these down far into the future.

Ship Changes

The ship changes are a bit more nebulous in their use and attractiveness from a mercenary standpoint. The benefits really apply to everyone, but I'm personally most excited about the changes to the interceptors and interdictors. Being able to ignore warp bubbles in an interceptor, coupled with the warp speed changes, means a small, hard-hitting roaming fleet has more chances to disrupt larger, unorganized fleets. Again, fighting outnumbered a lot of times, this is something that we'll be sharpening up on. I think the interdictors will really excel in this regard too, beating targets to the warp-to point and snagging a kill for the fleet, making those hard-to-pin-down roaming fleets a lot more successful.

All in all, Rubicon looks like a very attractive expansion from a mercenary's point of view.  There are some things that don't really come into consideration at all - mainly the tractor-beam deployable, but also who can say whether the Sisters of Eve ships will be worth using or not for us yet? - but overall, I think this is going to add a few tricks for our bag, opening a few new doors as well as opening others a bit wider.
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September 24, 2013

Will CCP Embrace Steam OS?

It's old news that Valve announced Steam OS yesterday to pretty much universal applause.  Valve's the little engine that could, growing from a good developer to a gaming behemoth before our eyes. We feel like we've watched it happen, been a part of it, stood behind them the whole way. Everyone cheers for them. Well, there are a few people who are anti-DRM that renounce Steam as the devil, but they're pretty few in number.  And honestly, so far Valve has done very little, if anything, to earn anything but positive responses. They're the white, shining knights of the gaming world. Steam OS represents a burgeoning new horizon, one that Valve will be at the forefront of, pushing gaming boundaries further than ever before, reaching new places (and the words 'free forever' don't hurt either).  So how can CCP take advantage?

Let's be honest: CCP makes decisions based on what is going to make profits. While personally I believe that, for the most part, they are a very fan-focused company and really do hold our overall thoughts and concerns in high regard (when compared to many other companies, at least), nothing's going to happen if it represents a negative income. So CCP, like the rest of us, saw the Steam OS announcement. But unlike the rest of us, some of them weren't thinking, "Oh man! I gotta get one of those!" They were thinking, "Oh man, how can we use this to bring in more money?" Well, it's simple really. Bring back Linux support.

CCP officially ended supporting Linux back on March 10, 2009.  The official support only lasted about two years. As any Linux user will know, you can still play EVE after jumping through a few hoops, but as any Linux user will know, hoops are jumped to do just about anything. That's part of Linux's charm, after all. Of course, the major charm to Linux is that it's free, it's open source, and it comes in a lot of flavors. It's also one of the reasons that it's a fairly niche group of people that call themselves power Linux users - those that barely, if ever, use other operating systems. After all, why develop your game for Linux if most Linux users also have a Windows machine? But Steam OS is going to change that. You're going to get people who don't care anything about Grubs and Sudo commands and terminals with Linux right in their living rooms soon. It's going to proliferate like never before, all because of Valve's backing.

As of right now, Steam is only supported on Ubuntu and soon-to-be Steam OS.  That's not really a problem for CCP, as Ubuntu and Steam OS are obviously going to be closely linked so that making something work for Ubuntu's Steam will work for SOS's Steam.  That's going to allow for EVE to become accessible where EVE has never gone before: TVs all over the world, not to mention all those Linux users that had been left out in the cold, more or less.

Sure, it's possible to run EVE, like I said, jumping through a few hoops - but what about the Linux users who aren't power users? The ones that don't have all the terminal commands memorizes and prefer GUIs to interface with their machine? Even if we're talking about a small number of people here, it's basically a moot point because it's free people. It's people that basically would get to ride the coattails of all the new Steam OS users. Not to mention that the average Linux user would make a perfect fit for EVE. Linux has its own learning curve, and it appeals to certain types of people - people who like to tinker, who like to take things apart and see how they work, people who like to do things the hard way, and do it themselves. EVE is perfect for those types of people.

Any way you slice it, adding Linux support back into EVE would be a great thing now. You'd get to take a cut from two pies: the Steam OS users and the Linux users.  If what Valve says about Left 4 Dead 2 running better on Linux than any other platform is true for other games, what's to stop the future of Linux games? I'd love for EVE to be a part of that movement.
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September 22, 2013

ArmA 3 Review for the EVE Player

I travel around the USA a lot for work. I stay in a location for 30-45 days, working 7 days a week, and then get about 14 days off before heading out again. Unfortunately, my last two assignments have had dial-up speed or less Internet. Which means that I've had basically no ability to play EVE for quite a while now. Luckily, I downloaded a few games before I left - one of which was ArmA 3.  I've been wanting to write something  for a while now, but having no access to EVE, I wasn't sure what to do. I came up with this idea, to write a review for a game geared towards the average EVE player (or at least, what I think the average EVE player is). Let me know what you think - if there's any benefit to this or not - in the comments.
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