Just another night in EVE Online

I had quite the experience in EVE last night and I wanted to share. These are the kind of experiences that only happen in this game and it's one of the reasons I keep playing. This is a heavily edited version of what I published as an after action report for Kite Co. with as much jargon removed as possible. Sometimes this game has so much to offer in crazy experiences that you just have to write it down. Now, where Kite Co. lives, you can attack or be attacked at almost any time by almost anybody. That's what leads to things like this.

Kite Co. was out on a roam looking for trouble and it was getting late in the evening. I'm an old man at heart and I have have to wake up for work in about seven hours. We're 14 jumps away from our home system and you know... That's a long way in a hurricane. A hurricane isn’t particularly a small ship. I’ve never been much of a speed demon either. So I'm warping back through the catch region and there's a newbie following me back home in a Vexor(Cruiser class ship thats just smaller than mine). He’s the same newbie who we thought was insane or unmotivated because he tagged along on our fleet but never followed directions. Turns out he was super new and afraid to let anybody know. We offered to help him as long as he asked but he turned back towards home anyway. On my (our?) way back, I hit the gate at the same time as a Dramiel (really expensive but small ship) two jumps out of the Brave Collective staging system. I meant to stop my ship and let the Dramiel jump through while I waited for the innocent noob but I'm sleepy so the Dramiel and I went through at the same time.

Everyone else is still roaming so I warp ahead to the next gate to wait for my Vexor buddy to land. I don't think at this point he even knows we are buddies. He was a little slow but... God save the newbies, right? The Dramiel locks onto my ship me and orbits about 20k out. I'm unsure if he’s going to try to force me through the gate or not. I’m almost too big to be effective against smaller ships so I'm hesitant to aggress back. My Vexor buddy lands and I jump through with him. I hold my cloak and make a comment to him that is lost among the fleet chat. The Dramiel decloaks and so does a.. Crow? I'm not sure. It was a frigate and I knew it had a warp disruptor. That would make sure I’d be stuck here and forced to engage. "It's okay," I think.

The Vexor decloaks and I wait for him to have to fight the two hostiles that are eyeing him. “This can be a defining EVE moment for him," I think silently. I can drag him to another channel in our mumble server and we can maybe die together and he can learn something about the game in the process.

Then without so much as a word he silently warps into the distance leaving me alone on the gate. "Cool" Maybe those ships were never interested in him at all… I think I know what they were interested in, though… I decloak and am immediately warp disrupted. "No problem?" I think trying to reassure myself. My heart starts to pound. This is it. I convey my impending demise to my corp-mates. They knew it was coming and so did I. I’m roaming through hostile space in a big slow ship and unsupported. "Oh well." I’m gonna try to jump back through the gate I came in through and find a safe spot to log out on the other side. More frigates decloak and my view fills with hostiles. Rifters and some other stuff appear next to me. I'm kind of panicking." A Hurricane is fast. It’s okay." I think. A warp scrambler keeps me from turning on my microwarpdrive. That hurts my speed a bit. "It's okay. A hurricane is still fast without a propulsion mod." I think. I can crash this gate. The Crows on field help to put me in about 50% shield as a stasis webifier lands on me. That's a 50% reduction in speed. "Maybe I’m not so fast anymore... It’s okay..." I think as I resign myself to my fate. I keep telling myself that. "It's okay." "No problem." Maybe I've embraced death? Death is okay. The kill-mail will be embarrassing but I knew I was doing to die.

So let’s try to kill something, I guess. I start by taking potshots at the ships that are about 10 kilometers away from me. Autocannons might hit that. At this point there's maybe 7 enemies on field and all of them have me warp disrupted to some degree but one dude has me webbed. I launch drones and try to kill that asshole. I only really know him as the guy who's webbing me since the start. "Stop slowing me down." I think. His shield starts to dip and he runs away from the fight. This feels like some small moral victory.

I'm still painfully disrupted and taking damage. At about 30% of my shield I remember I can overheat resistance modules. It may destroy them and turn them off completely but for now I could use extra tank. That helps a little. My heart is still racing and I really don’t want to die right now. So now it’s me versus quite a few interceptors (really fast frigates) and various frigates who are too close for my guns to track and hit them and some who are too far to hit with autocannons entirely. So it’s about this time I remember I have an energy neutralizer my ship. Ships need energy to run their modules and this guy sucks the life out of enemy capacitors. I neutralize the guy who's super close to me and assign drones. He takes damage and warps off. Or something. My thought processes get pretty hazy here. My mind just keeps looking at my overview and seeing warp disruptor effects next to the enemy ship names. "You know what? I got one too." I think to myself. So I start warp disrupting the frigates back. I notice a pod appear on my overview. Strange. I have no clue why thats there. I keep applying drones and damage based on whoever has the scrambled effect next to their name on the overview. It's like tunnel vision has kicked in and I'm just focusing on what I have to to keep alive. I keep doing this and Crows, Rifters, that Dramiel keep dancing around me. I can’t shake the enemies but at least my ship is pointed in the right direction to get out of there when I get the chance.

Then I notice another strange thing... I’m not taking nearly as much damage as I was before. There's also another pod on the field. It sinks in.. It’s okay... It’s actually okay. I'm not just not dying, but I'm kind of winning. These pods are the remnants of ships I’ve actually killed. I keep going and remember to stop overheating resist module before I fry everything else on my ship. It’s been a couple minutes and I speak back up in fleet. I'm alive. I'm actually alive. And did I just kill that Dramiel? I look back to the overview and the warp disruptors are gone. There's a single Rifter targeting me from near the gate. I won. I WON! I gotta get the fuck out of here. I take a pot shot at the Rifter as I run to safety.

Later that night I wanted to know what actually happened so I dug through the game logs and fed them into an analyzer. I wish I had been recording. It almost feels like it couldn't have happened.There were actually six ships that I fought against and a couple others that did not shoot me at me. It's was at least six on one and I killed three of them.

Kill: Cid IV (Stiletto)

Kill: Lerroy Jankins (Stiletto)

Kill: ShadowPewl (Dramiel)

What's an EVE article without some sort of spreadsheet?

My hands were shaking, my heart was racing, and I most certainly didn't die. I didn't do anything of the sort. Whoa. I rode that adrenaline rush for the next 2 hours. So much for going to bed on time and being responsible. Also, sometimes this game is pretty damn cool.


The Role of Mechanics in Games : Dwarf Fortress

I’ve been wanting to write a blog for some time about video games but it’s only recently that I pinned what really makes a game good or interesting to me. I would argue that a game is defined by the mechanics it employs. Dwarf Fortress is the entire embodiment of this argument as it is nothing but mechanics. In my humble opinion, the game is ugly, obtuse, and really just a pain to get into. I’ve bounced off it for that reason three or four times. It took Dave Fortress to get me willing to dive again and I have to say it’s one of the greatest games I’ve ever played.

If you have friends who talk about dwarf fortress you will hear cautionary tales about carp saying they kill dwarves, and warning you of your dwarves going insane and making a necklace out of the bones of the dwarf they once called their best friend. Its beyond me why people try to bill this game as the most confusing thing they have ever come across and that playing the game is sheer madness. It’s one of the most logical and straightforward game I’ve ever encountered.

He wants you dead, but not for the reason you might think

First, Why do carp kill dwarves? You have to understand some of the mechanics first. Dwarf Fortress has a fantastic sense of emergent gameplay that comes from the logical underpinnings of the game. For example, why would a wolf eat a rabbit? If I were the wolf, I would eat the rabbit because its smaller than me and I eat meaty things like rabbits. That same logic applies to our carp. He and the dwarf are roughly the same size (I can take him!) and the carp eats meaty things, like other fish. It just so happens that our dwarf is also a meaty thing. So, something on its face like a river carp drowning or eating a dwarf out of the blue can be silly and billed as unexpected but with a little understanding you might have seen it coming from a mile away. (let it be known, carp are less dangerous compared to what they once were).

That makes dwarf fortress fascinating. It’s like The Sims and Majesty. It’s your duty to make sure Bob Newbie doesn’t drown in the pool except you can’t take over his brain and tell him to stop swimming and go to sleep. It’s a god game where you play on the base needs of your dwarves and hope they follow your orders when they get around to it. What makes the game so difficult is how uncompromising it is. If dwarfypants has a pet ox that he takes in the cave with him, it will die. It will die because it will starve because there’s no grass in a cave. His pet dying will make him sad, and if he’s sad already it may be the breaking point and he might go insane in a number of ways. (You will pray that he just takes off his clothes and runs around naked instead of slaughtering everything in his path until he is cut down without mercy)

It’s a mechanics based game. The only story you get is literally “Seven dwarves leave their mountain home and go to set up a new one”. If you haven’t read it yet or arent keeping up I encourage you to read The Story of Shimmeroiled which, at the time of my writing, is still ongoing. There are so many ways to succeed and fail in this game and it’s all based on systems within systems. Your dwarves can starve, get dehydrated, go insane, be slaughtered by mythical beasts, be slaughtered by greedy goblin raiders after your gold laden hills, or any number of things. There is no set story except that you will start, and you will die. The mechanics work together so well that a story gets created out of thin air.

I could list off all the mechanics in play like, animal breeding, crafting, and butchery but that would take hours of your time to read and isn’t the point of this post. The point is that a game with no story to speak of, ugly utilitarian graphics, a confusing UI, and a steep learning curve can be an amazing game that makes up for the deficiencies in every other department just by mechanics alone. That is why I argue that mechanics are most important part of any game. From this point on I intend to pick out singular game mechanics from my favorite games and go into detail on why I think they make a compelling or enjoyable game.


A Brief History of (my) Gaming

I can't remember how old I was but I remember some things very clearly about the start of my gaming. I remember the christmas I got a Super NES. I think i was five. I couldn't have been much older. I remember the first level of Super Mario World and the multiple deaths that befell me trying to jump a 2 block wide gap (You know, the one that fills in when you hit the yellow switch). That was long before I had any sense of hand eye coordination. It's funny to me that one of my first memories with video games is of total failure. I woke up at 6 AM every morning to play the SNES since nobody wanted the TV at that time. I was totally hooked.

Another early one was the gameboy and The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening. I swear I saw something like a kneeling link or something. I swear! … I digress. I remember breaking that game in a way I've never heard it broken before. For those of you curious, I know, I have no followers so none of you may be curious. Gotta at least act like you have an audience, right? Theres a cheat that involved pressing select as the screen transitioned. This allowed you to skip straight to the other side. Well if you fished out the pond out completely, the man tells you to go fish in the ocean. If you use the select trick when heading down off that screen, the fisherman ends up standing in a tree. Ask to fish again and you get transported to a strange world where floors are water and shopkeepers are goblins. Oh, you can also walk through walls. Its pretty trippy. If you have the game, you should give it a try!

I remember the first time I cried over a game. This game might have defined me more as a gamer than any other game I've ever played. Take a guess. Maybe look at my profile background. Harvest Moon for the GameBoy. It ate hours of my time. I owned every item except for some of the game clear ones(I'll get to that). I had sprawling farms and was richer than any young child had a right to be. Then, one fateful day, I turned on the game to find no save file. I cried. My mother and I called Natsume customer support. They sent me a new cartridge. I played another full year from scratch before it was deleted again. I think Natsume wanted me to become jaded.

To rein this in a little... If you are going to decide to follow me and read what I write, I want to invest in you as much as you invest in me. Giant Bomb is successful because its a site of personalities. Without knowing a little about me my opinions are just noise in an already noisy room. I've changed a lot as a gamer over the years and it took watching my girlfriend play games to notice what really makes me excited about video games. After watching her play story heavy games I realized, no matter how strong the story, I love game mechanics. Its what makes the games for me. I've never been a blogger but theres just something about this community that makes me want to give sharing a shot. My first blogs are going to focus on a single mechanic that I think makes games great OR a mechanic that makes games bad. Until I get bored with that or come up with another idea that will be what you can expect. I hope you'll follow along with me, chat with me, even argue with me.