Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Space Truckin'

I had a rather interesting adventure last night in my efforts to assist the final evacuation of Barleguet assets. A lot of folk left stuff behind thinking we would return and the logistics guys are now working overtime to shift all the contracts. I think I cleared ~20 contracts last night and more keep coming in. I actually quite enjoy stretching the legs of my Anshar. My plan is to keep going up until this weekend and then evaluate how big the backlog is. Most of my jumps went fairly routinely and I got a bit of a rhythm going. Occasionally my cyno characters would get popped but my JF was never in danger. Though, I did end up on a mini adventure.

My derpitude started on Monday when I was positioning my cyno alts. I had forgotten that my Anshar was still in Sendaya after moving all my usual alpha cynos away from there. Derp. So I quickly podded Bizar Raizen over and into position. "Skill point penalty". Oh shiiii.... My skill queue had JUST passed my current clone. So off goes Evasive Maneuvering 5 on a short holiday. Good thing I'm not flying interceptors too much right now. I was facepalming pretty hard at that point but there was work to be done so I soldiered on, got my Anshar back into Highsec and started making my way over to Stacmon. However, I also remembered that burn Jita could fire up at any time. So I logged on another character in high sec, got him in a Rifter and went over to web my Freighter for faster warps. I had never done this before. I thought that it would be possible to web someone whilst in their fleet without concord response. Unfortunately I was wrong... Another lesson learned.

Roll on Tuesday. With everything in position I started the ball rolling and blitzed through 10-15 contracts in just over an hour. Along the way I had a few... interesting encounters with my cyno characters. When I light a cyno I cycle it off, set station as destination and then turn autopilot on. This means that if the character survives the 10 minute cycle then it will dock on its own and I can focus on other stuff. If it dies and gets podded then I just end up inside the station in a new noobship. However, when minimised I still get sounds from that client (yes EVE has sound!). So should someone target me, for example, I hear the locking sound. I usually just ignore it and focus on my JF pilot making sure it is safe. Though sometimes I come back to the cyno to find them alive... and next to an enemy wreck. Yesterday I was able to add a Cruicifer to my tally of AFK kills with cyno characters. The other being a Nemesis which didn't even get through my shields. They were evein kind enough to leave 3 Hobgoblin IIs behind which I scooped up, adding insult to injury. Station guns are a cyno's best friend.

After my 15th or 16th contract I noticed someone looking for help moving stuff from a more obscure location in null sec within jump range of Barleguet. So I got in a chat with them and agreed to pick up the contract if they could get me a cyno out there. Once at the location, I go into the contracts menu to grab their contract. After accepting I look in my assets menu a little confused. I didn't have anything at the station I was docked in. I did however have stuff at an old null sec station Brave were working out of in Y-W6. Turns out I had accepted the wrong contract. Blargh. You see, I didn't really want to go out to Y-W6. I flirted with it on the Monday night since there were a few contracts there. I got a cyno alt in position, had modules donated by a nice Brave member who happened to have a cyno ship out there and then proceeded to light the cyno. Unfortunately, I had miscalculated the jump distance and was unable to actually make the jump from Stacmon (I forgot I only had JDC3 and needed JDC4). Before I could jump to Barleguet, which would have put me in range, the cyno ship got popped by some locals who didn't appreciate me lighting cynos on their doorstep. So I was a little hesitant to go back there for any more contracts.

However, now I was in a bit of a pickle. I was reluctant to toss the 200M collateral and the contract customer was not online. My only realistic choice was to get it done. I quickly grabbed the correct contract for my current location, delivered it and then made my way back to Barleguet. Fortunately, I was able to pod one of my cyno alts directly to the Y-W6 station. The next issue was locating a cyno generator and some ozone as there were none in the station. A quick look on the market showed that there were some 2 jumps away in TXW. Out I go in my pod without much to lose as it was an alpha clone. On my way there I find the TXW entry gate bubbled but no locals in system. I continue on, grab a cyno and some ozone and fit it onto a rookie ship. Okay, now to get back. I jump back into the bubble and suddenly realised that I was in a bit of a predicament. There were rats on the gate. Holding cloak I try and figure out what to do. Without much to lose I decide to make a beeline for the closest bubble edge. The rats start to lock me and a Breacher appears on grid, at the opposite side of the bubble. My heart skips a beat it as it starts to lock me too, then I realise it will be out of scram range. I click the next gate and start spamming warp. As soon as I exit the bubble I align out and warp before the red boxes appear. Phew, I could breathe a sigh of relief. Time to get my cyno sorted.

I arrive back at the Y-W6 station and dock up, noticing a Hurricane sitting on the undock. Balls, that might slow me down a bit. I undock anyway and start moving towards a reasonable cyno position, ready to dock back up if needed. Just as I look over to my other screen to prep my Anshar the Hurricane pops me. I was about ready to give up at this point until I noticed that the cyno generator and ozone both dropped! Quickly I get in my new fresh rookie ship, undock, loot my wreck (which was still directly on the undock) and dock back up again. At least I wouldn't have to go on another shopping trip yet. Evaluating my options, I decide to log off that character for 10 minutes and grab a drink in the hope that the Hurricane would get bored waiting. Logging back on, I find it still sitting on the undock. Being impatient, and probably a little stupid, I decide to try again anyway. I undock and creep into a good cyno position. The Hurricane doesn't lock me this time. I get my Anshar on the Barle undock ready to go. I light the cyno and look back over to my Anshar pilots screen. I right click the capacitor and get to the jump to button and hold for 5 seconds while I check the cyno isn't locked up. Things look good. I jump and I dock. Great success! So I load up my Anshar and get ready for the jump home. Interestingly the Hurricane still hasn't killed the cyno yet. As I undock my Anshar it looks like the Hurricane has woken up. He locks me up and takes a chunk out of my shield as I jump out. Safely back in Barleguet I breathe a sigh of relief as I watch the Hurricane pop my cyno ship. I don't think I'll go back to Y-W anytime soon. The locals aren't very hospitable.

Monday, 7 April 2014

The shakes and my first solo PvP kill(s)

Last night I experienced the shakes for the first time whilst playing EVE. I've been in plenty of fleets. I've undocked plenty of times but I've never really experienced the shakes that a lot of players have described before. Sure, I've been shocked, surprised or excited and left annoyed or happy at times (like my first Viator loss) but never had that "buzzing" feeling people describe that they get after a significant fight in EVE. I think I finally found it.

It is a sensation that I haven't felt in a long time whilst gaming. In essence it is an adrenaline rush. It is strange to equate adrenaline rush and video games. Imagine the feeling you get from a thrilling rollercoaster ride and the buzz that endures afterwards. Now imagine that whilst sitting playing a video game. Hard to imagine. It is quite a pure sensation given the lack of physical activity that would usually stimulate it. EVE has given me that feeling back whilst gaming.

The last time I remember such a sensation is in my early days playing competitive Counter Strike. I played at a reasonably high level in some great teams and participated in a number of tournaments, both online and offline. Often, when I first started playing, I would get the shakes. When everything was on the line, when every single shot fired could change the game, the pressure would be immense. There are plays I made over 5 years ago that I remember in great detail to this very day. I can play them out in slow motion in my head because they had such an emotional impact. I remember the adrenaline rush that they gave me and the shakes that persisted afterwards. Unfortunately the feeling did start to fade over time as I became a more experienced player. Arguably it made me a better player as my decision making would come to the front rather than playing from instinct. Hopefully it doesn't fade too quickly with EVE.

So what elicited this magnificent feeling? A simple solo bombing run. The third bomb I've ever launched to be precise.  However, it wasn't a particularly standard bombing run. A standard bombing run would usually involve setting up near a group of relatively stationary targets clumped within a bombs explosion radius. This was a little different. HERO is currently taking more sovereignty and we are shooting structures in siege bombers. Often small fleets will show up to harass us such as Crows which will circle the fleet and pick off bombers around the edges, seriously hindering operations. This time we were harassed by a small kestrel gang. Initially there were ~10 in the gang. One of our veteran bombers noticed they were constantly running their MWDs, causing their sig radius bloom making them a juicy bomb target. He managed to set up off the fleet and let a bomb rip directly towards them as they approached the fleet destroying 8/9 of them solo! Naturally I was inspired.

About 30 minutes later 5 members of the previous gang returned, again in Kestrels. This time they were a bit hesitant to close range on us. Holding a wide orbit they stalked the perimeter for stragglers. Carefully I watched and realised that they were anchored to a Kestrel which would take the lead. This allowed me to predict their movements. I also noticed that their wide orbit would eventually come close to one of my perches off the structure. This was my opportunity. I warped to the perch cloaked putting me ~100km off the gang. Tracking their movement I realised they would swing past me at ~60km so I set off to try and intercept that position. This is quite tricky, they were doing ~2km/s which meant that I would have to lead the bomb ~20km in front of them. As I got to ~70km they started to make a sharp turn directly towards me. Panicking I quickly aligned to the lead kestrel, decloaked and launched my bomb. I hesitated for a split second checking that the bomb launched and then start my warp out as fast as possible. This gave the kestrels time to lock. "Manticore no, no, no" came over mumble followed by the FC realising I launched a bomb: "Oh... Oh... Ooo... OOOOO ... BOOOOM". I warp out to my safe in 7% armor leaving 3 wrecks and a damaged kestrel in my wake. Cheers erupted over mumble as members of the support fleet warp to my last position, finishing off the last 2 kestrels. Buzzing with excitement I sat back in my chair contemplating what I had just done. Yesterday was a good day.

PS: I actually caught the whole thing on Fraps and put it on YouTube in a hurry. However, a concerned commenter noticed some OpSec in the video so I took it down. At some point I will edit it when I get clear guidelines on what needs to be removed.