Life in the Space Lane

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Once Upon a Time in Black Rise, part 2

For those of you who haven’t read the first part of this article, you can find it here.

So, I’d been playing EVE for about a month before most of my corp folded, leaving just me and the CEO.  I’d been playing for four months before the CEO—a veteran industrialist in his own right—decided to let his pilot’s license lapse so he could pursue his hobbies of weed and DJing.  In those four months, I’d received little help or guidance, so I had had to learn everything for myself.  In true Hatchet fashion, I had read every wiki and guide I could find, without going out and actually learning through experience.  To put it in EVE terms, my theoretical knowledge was millions of skillpoints above my apparent newb status.  Even if you had put me in a Drake, I’d probably have been rolled by a couple of Guristas frigates.  I couldn’t fight my way out of a wet paper Brutix.

On one of many solo high-sec mining trips, after my corp had dissolved, I was out in my dear old Badger Mk.II with a Miner II on the one turret hardpoint.  I figured low yield and high cargo space would allow me to just “AFK mine” for a half hour or so while I tried to divine my path.  At least there would still be some ISK coming in while I trawled databases and guides.

Where do I go from here?  Should I put my hardly used alt into a PvP training corp and start working my way up toward fleet and factional warfare?  Should I start wormholing?  What kind of ships and fittings would I need for that?  Should I manufacture stuff from the few BPCs I had lying around and flog it at Jita?  Should I this, should I that?

As the Croissant II dropped out of warp into an asteroid belt—the poor old original Croissant had been lost to pirates about a week prior—I saw a Retriever pilot about fifty clicks off my starboard beam.  As always, while the targeting systems did their twenty-second-long crawl of a locking sequence, I checked through the pilot’s records and those of his corp.  On standings, they were both completely neutral.  Now, I don’t normally trust people when I can’t see their faces, so I figured I’d best keep an eye on him.  As I mined away, I kept one eye on my overview, eyeing the distance reading on the Retriever, glad to see that he was moving further away as he worked along the belt.

Half an hour later and I had done some research on Planetary Interaction and potentially lucrative moon-mining operations.  The Croissant’s arched belly was full and the mining laser switched itself off, so I warped home to dump the goods and buy some planetary control towers for later.  Once I’d done that, I headed back out and picked a different belt to work.  As soon as I dropped out of warp, I saw three things: an Orca, that same Retriever, and the wrecks of a couple of Guristas frigates.  Seeing that they’d at least gone to some effort to secure the belt for themselves, I hailed them in local to ask permission to mine in the area.  I forget exactly what I said, but it was something like:

Croissant II to mining operators in Uchomida Belt VII, come in please.

Trust me to get all prim and proper about it.  I’m surprised I didn’t go and use proper maritime RATEL procedures on them, and if I’d been on voice comms with them, I probably would have; I used to work with boats a lot in real life, still got the operator license.   I cut my thrusters and hung dead in space, a couple of hundred klicks out from the belt, and waited for a reply.

Hi, can we help you?

This was first contact: the first time I’d established some sort of conversation with another player that wasn’t sitting in the same room as me.  These pilots could have been at terminals halfway around the world or halfway down the street.  My palms were slick on my mouse and keyboard, not for fear of a blobbing or anything, but because if I remember correctly I had just recently seen that “Causality” trailer, and shit felt like it was going down kinda similar.  All I could think about was “I am sooooo not ready for factional warfare”.  If anyone had mentioned “Drekar Alliance”, I probably would have bolted.  Does the Drekar Alliance even exist?  Or was this whole thing a thinly-veiled RSF/BoB reference:

 

 

To keep local clear, I quickly struck up a private conversation with the Orca driver, who, it turned out, was his corp’s Director of Industry.  Figuring (correctly) that I was a bit of a noob, he offered me the Orca’s gang bonuses and the protection of his his huge swarm of drones while we worked.  I learned more in those couple of hours talking to him than I had in the five months that I’d been playing.  Granted, I only log in maybe once or twice a week, but when I do I spend hours and hours up to my metaphorical balls in the weird and wonderful ways of New Eden.

Just like in the video, I soon joined the ranks of this mining corp, and have been there since.  If you’re desperate, you can usually find us cutting and grinding somewhere in the Aokinen and Kurala constellations.  Drop by and come mine with us sometime, we’re friendly enough if you keep your hands above the table  ; )

 

— Hatchet xoxo

 

 

P.S. Here’s how it’s really done, for those of you who are curious:

“Hello All Stations in Uchomida Belt Seven, All Stations Uchomida Belt Seven, this is UNTF Croissant II, UNTF Croissant II, to All Stations in Uchomida Belt Seven, over.”

The correct response would have been:

“UNTF Croissant II, UNTF Croissant II, this is [insert vessel ident and name], [repeat vessel ident and name], go ahead, over.”

And you though your FC knew what he was doing. Hah! :D and finally, an RL example of a short-range call I once almost used on a ferry that almost wiped out the open-hulled speedboat I was piloting (only reason I didn’t say it was ‘cos the radio was damaged):

“MV Kurilpa, MV Kurilpa, this is Charlie-Echo-Fower-Fife-Eight-Quebec Jolly Roger, kindly keep your propwash to a minimum when passing within three metres of a craft one-tenth of your size.  I’m not in the mood for swimming, over.”

Yeah, actually, that reminds me why I left that job…  Heh.  — H.

By The Pricking Of My Thumbs…

Dear me, it’s been a hell of a week for the community, huh?

I’m not going to rehash the story, you all know it by now.  If you don’t, there are plenty of articles about it on far better blogs than this one.  Go forth and be enlightened, capsuleer.

Hearing about the unfortunate termination of beloved figures like CCP Fallout and others from the community management team and many other departments strikes a painful blow, but at least they are staying active within the community.  Yes, they have lost their official status, but we have not lost them.

I think the lovely Jester (a.k.a. Ripard Teg), from Jester’s Trek, put it best when he said:

A closer examination of the financials in that June statement confirmed it: CCP had a burn rate of between 7 and 8.5 million USD per year.  They needed to be at 6: [their loan was for] 12 million USD over two years.  Therefore, they were burning cash higher than the rate supportable by the loan.  Therefore, what they were doing was not sustainable unless that investment started returning a profit before the two years were over.

That made what happened yesterday at CCP inevitable.  Hilmar had to show his investors that he was serious about making his business sustainable.  In the longer term, CCP could repay that loan.  But the ability to repay the loan isn’t what this was about.  This was about demonstrating that CCP had a sustainable business model that could fit within their burn rate and maintain liquidity.  DUST still isn’t out [meaning that EVE is CCP’s the only thing making them any money], which means that Hilmar needed to have that liquidity loan renewed by his investors.  And that meant that he had to show his investors that he was serious about fitting his business within the burn rate for the next two years.

— by Jester, article “Burn Rate”, 20 Oct 2011. [article]

Yes, they are gone.  Yes, it bloody sucks.  Sorry, that’s business: you lose some, you lose some more.  It’s not easy getting fired, but I don’t envy a man who has to choose from among a team that he’s spent years building and pick one out of every five to get the chop (no, not that kind of ‘chop’).

They were not released because somebody had a whinge to CEO Hilmar Pétursson about them, or filed a suit against them, or simply because Pétursson himself didn’t like them.  They were downsized: CCP couldn’t afford to keep them.  Yes, I’m rehashing, even though I said I wouldn’t.

I don’t care if you didn’t like Jester’s article on the subject; he said some things that the close-minded among us may consider inflammatory, but I appreciate his simple honesty.  Read it anyway, and look past your emotions to see the simple truth in his words.

Let me relate a brief story, for those of you who may whinge about CCP’s actions, or worse, those who discredit or belittle Mr Pétursson’s open letter to the community:

As I was finishing the last jumps of a recent cargo haul from Domain to Black Rise, I was reading along in corp chat as one of my colleages conferred with our Director of Industry on quantities and prices of materials needed to build a Brutix battlecruiser.  She did the sums, and found that she was a few million ISK short.  Without hesitation, I sent 5 million to her.  After her initial shock, she gladly agreed to pay it back when she was able.  I didn’t expect to see the money back for a few weeks, and that was fine by me.  I also flew 26 systems to Minmatar space to help transport the materials and guide her home, then flew them all the way back, even having to duck through a couple of firefights near the Gallente-Caldari Border Zone.  When we returned to our Forward Operating Base in Ichoriya, she managed to repay me on the spot with double the amount I’d originally given her, citing “bonuses” with a big ol’ smiley face on the end.  Needless to say, making 5 mil off an hour or so of cargo hauling kept me grinning well into the night (like this pic of Hatchet’s RL face!).

If you’re wondering what that story has to do with the whingers or the grouches, let me put it in the most simple terms I can:

Someone I know had a problem.  They could have worked it out, given time, but I supported them, without being asked and expecting no reward.  Thanks to my support, that someone was able to not only solve their problem but also repay my solidarity faster and to a greater degree than I had expected.

CCP has some problems, and they know it.  They have voiced these problems, and many people have given them grief for it.  I’m not saying people aren’t supporting them, but among the hundreds of thousands of us capsuleers there are definitely some people who are very vocal in their lack of support.

I’m not saying that CCP will pay us 5 million ISK if we silently support them, and if that’s what you thought I meant by that, you may be the kind of person who will try to find the secrets of the universe encoded in this.

What I’m getting at is that CCP knows they dun’ goofed.  In my psuedo-professional opinion, they are quite within their rights to ignore the pestering masses, in order to focus on correcting the errors they’ve already acknowledged they made.  Pestering is not helping.  Slander is not a solution.

I’m Hatchet.  You’re on notice.

(nah, I love you guys, really.)

P.S. This video sounds pretty much like how I feel about the downsizing. Listen to it without feeling a little sad, I dare you.  — H xo

 

P.P.S. Yeah, I know that’s not my real face. — H

Something Something Sundays – “Below the Asteroids”

To help flesh out the content here, and because it’s a Sunday afternoon and I’m a little bored, I think I’ll start doing short stories under the heading of “Something Something Sundays”.  The stories will be whatever I come up with, so don’t expect prize-winning literature.  Most of it will be fiction, but all good fiction contains a grain or two of truth.  Below is the first such story, cobbled together and dumped onto the internet like so many stories before it.  Enjoy  :)

— Hatchet xo

 

 

“Below the Asteroids”

Two Matari vessels came to rest in one of the densest parts of Belt Four.  The Rifter-class frigate stood watch over the little Burst-class miner, hanging silently among the rocks a few klicks away.  The miner pilot, a Caldari woman, set her targeting computer on a few of the closest asteroids.  The brief descriptions that came back were more than enough.  Veldspar, Azure Plagioclase, Kernite, all in plentiful supply.  She thought a command, and the ship’s computers responded immediately, spooling up the mining lasers and beginning to chew into two of the ‘roids she had targeted.

“Looks like we’re going to be up to our balls in mexallon soon, Touch,” she laughed.

The pilot of the escort frigate, a hulking Brutor with a sleek pompadour hairstyle, chuckled more to himself than her, but the disembodied sound resonated through his companion’s head anyway.  The ‘baseliner’ crews on the two ships had no idea of the conversations between the capsuleers as the two starships worked silently in the vacuum.  The escort ship scanned the area for hundreds of klicks in all directions, the pilot keeping his eyes and ears peeled.  The miner stripped and stowed ore and mineral from each rock it touched.  Every time the cargo hold filled, the crew would transfer the ores to a container drifting a hundred metres behind the little Burst, freeing up room for more.

The two pilots, safely cocooned in their egg-shaped capsules, didn’t need windows or lights to know what was going on outside.  For them, it was as though their ships were just extensions of their bodies.  Firing a weapon was like throwing a ball.  Taking a round to the armour plating was like being slugged with a steel bar.  They could see and feel everything in their minds.

Half an hour passed calmly, almost serenely.  Both of them felt something, tens or maybe hundreds of kilometres away.  Two ships, moving fast toward them.

“Guristas,” said Touch calmly.  “Hold still, Hatch.”

“Sure thing,” she said, voice taking on an adrenaline-fuelled edge.  “Go get ’em, big guy.”

Touch swung his sleek ship around to point straight at the pirates.  They closed in, and at about thirty klicks out they began pinging their targeting computers at Hatchet’s miner.  Both Touch and Hatchet felt the targeting locks, like cold fingers reaching out from the two aggressors.

“Don’t worry, they’re just underlings,” said Touch.  “Back in a sec.”

Inside his caspule, the Matari stretched his neck and rolled his shoulders, preparing himself for a fight.  The Rifter launched itself forward, gathering speed rapidly as its afterburners kicked in.  The gap narrowed fast, and he cut the afterburners as he swung into an orbit around the lead pirate boat.  He ensnared it in a stasis web and pounded it with his autocannons.  Two volleys was enough to wipe out each pirate, leaving only two small clusters of wreckage spreading out through space.  He looted a few sundry items and returned to his companion.

“All good?”

“All good,” she said, nodding to herself.  “We’re about done here.  Back soon.”

“Sure thing.”

Hatchet jettisoned the last load of ore and aligned herself with the Ichoriya stargate.  The warp bubble formed fast, and she streaked off toward the gate, leaving Touch to guard the canister.  She hopped to the next system over and flew to a factory station belonging to the Kaalakiota Corporation, a major Caldari shipbuilder and arms manufacturer.  They were using the ‘KK’ factory as a temporary base of operations, and all of Hatchet’s ships and materials were hangared there.  She stowed the rusty, trusty Burst in the hangar and fetched her beloved Badger-class cargo ship.  I really should install a mining laser on this old crate so I don’t have to make two trips, she thought as the hauler undocked.  She was towed along an exit channel, where she engaged her thrusters and hit top speed as she was ejected into space again among the other ships being hurled out all around her.  She cruised away from the station for a minute, giving herself some elbow room while she reached out with her sensors and found the stargate she wanted.  The trip back was about as interesting as an empty Quafe can, but soon enough she was dropping back out of warp.  Touch was about ten klicks away, still babysitting the can.  A quick pulse on her micro-warp drive got her there in seconds, and the can yielded its contents willingly.

“No trouble?” she asked.

“Nothing.  Guristas won’t come back this way ’til we’re gone anyway.”

The empty canister self-destructed, and she fired up her warp drive again.  As the big-bellied hauler aligned slowly with the Ichoriya gate, she relaxed in her cocoon.  The stars were out, as always, and it was just beautiful out among the rocks.  Uchomida shone dully through a nebula, and the red-shifted light glinted off the hulls of the two friends as they rocketed off into the distance.

“Race you home, Touch.”

“You’re on.”