Sep 2 2015

EVEShipInfo v1.6

EVE ShipInfo WordPress plugin

A new release of the EVEShipInfo WordPress plugin is available. I spent quite some time polishing big chunks of the backend, as well as integrate a simple modules database. When I started improving the EFT fittings manager, I quickly realized that it needed to know at least into which slot which module goes – throwing my simplistic approach of just using EFT fit strings out the window. I do not regret making the effort though: having a small modules database opens up a lot of other possibilities down the line, and makes the whole tool more reliable.

Frontend-wise there is not much new in this release yet, but the next release I am already working on will focus on that, namely several frontend styles to choose from and more.

New in this version:

  • Galatea data files
  • Improved EFT fittings manager
  • Screenshots for the new ships

Dowload it via the offical plugin website, or upgrade via WordPress.

Note: Upgrading via WordPress unfortunately deletes the screenshots package, so you will have to reinstall it afterwards. I am looking for ways to prevent this.

P.S.: Check out this crazy fit: Unkillable lolfit Load it up in EFT, and see what it does.


Jun 12 2015

Advanced Bookmarking

I was surprised lately to see that many people either do not know about insta-undock bookmarks, or do not bother to make them. I must admit that it seemed quite mystic to me at first when these bookmarks were mentioned in chat, so I decided to write up a small guide.

Version: 1.2, 13.06.2015

Table of contents:


What is an insta-undock bookmark?

In short, it is a bookmark that lets you warp away from a station almost instantly upon undocking. The main advantage is that it is a lot harder to catch your ship on undocking (almost impossible with fast ships), or to avoid getting tangled up in those writhing masses of ships you will find when undocking from crowded stations like Jita 4-4. This is especially handy in wartime.

It is worth mentioning here that insta-undock bookmarks are a nice tool to complement the existing invulnerability you have when undocking. To clarify, when you undock:

  • The session and invulnerability timers start
  • After 15 seconds: The session timer expires, you can re-dock or jump to a cyno.
  • After 30 seconds: The invulnerability timer expires

The invulnerability timer means you cannot be targeted during those 30 seconds, which gives you a good window in which to assess the situation. However, the moment you start doing something active like aligning to warp, activating a module or turning the ship the invulnerability timer will stop.

Hint: Pressing CTRL+Space to stop your ship does not break the invulnerability timer.

In the case of an insta-undock bookmark, the delay between the EVE server receiving the warp command and potential attackers being able to act means that it is virtually impossible to catch you – unless you have a bad bookmark that takes too long to align to.


How to create an undock bookmark?

When undocking, your ship is always ejected from the station from the same location, and your ship is already at escape velocity. You simply need a point in space straight ahead from this location to enable you to warp off instantly. Just follow these simple steps:

  1. Take a fast small ship, preferably with a Microwarpdrive (a shuttle will do with some patience)
  2. Undock with the ship, and fly as straight ahead from the station as you can
  3. Tip: use the tactical overlay to align your ship
  4. Go as far as a minimum of 300 km, I recommend going further out if you have the patience (600+ km)
  5. When you are ready, press CTRL+B to bookmark your current position.

Hint: alternatively, you can open the People & Places window and click the “Add location” button to add the bookmark.

Hint: in market hubs, try making an off-grid undock bookmark for when you haul precious cargo: 1000+ km from the station.

To illustrate:

 

undock-diagram-490

 

Next you can dock back at the station, and test your bookmark. How well it works depends on how straight in line of the undock location you managed to make it. If your ship has to turn a bit before warping, you may want to fine-tune the bookmark a bit. Especially larger ships will take longer to turn even that slight bit, which can be critical.


Fine-tuning undock bookmarks

If your ship still has to align slightly to warp off, you can tweak the bookmark to make it better. In essence, you do it like this:

  1. Note the angle that your ship turns when aligning to the bookmark (a big, slow ship is best for this)
  2. Warp out to your bookmark
  3. Move your ship in the opposite direction of the angle you had to turn to warp
  4. Example: your ship aligns towards the top right on undock: you have to move to the bottom left to compensate
  5. Move ahead in that direction, creating several bookmarks along the way
  6. Dock back up, find out which of the bookmarks you created works best
  7. Repeat the process if necessary

It really sounds more difficult than it is, I think the only real issue here is patience. Personally I have come to enjoy my good undock bookmarks immensely, often cackling manically when I leave everyone slowboating away from the station.


Circumventing anti-undock bookmark techniques

Undocking from Jita 4-4 lately, I noticed an interesting mechanic gankers used to counter undock bookmarks: they set up a cordon of mobile depots in line with the undock location, straight ahead for 600+ kms. The logistics of this feat aside, the effect is that with a good undock bookmark, you end up right next to one of these mobile depots. If you have a ship with a cloak, it will not engage because of the proximity, and anyone can warp next to you using the mobile depot closest to you. A recipe for disaster or success, depending on which side you are.

The counter-countermeasure in this case is simply to create an undock bookmark that goes out further than they are prepared to build and maintain their mobile depots cordon, or to use a bookmark with a deliberate angle so you do not end up close to them, sacrificing a slight undock delay for safety out there. Obviously this is a market hub specialty – only in a hub will this gargantuan effort make sense.

Personally this brought home the fact that when in a hub, you should be even more observant than usual. Simply trusting your undock bookmark is not enough.


How to create docking bookmarks?

Now that we have covered undock bookmarks, how about making docking safer? For a while now, some people have specialized in catching ships in the short time it takes the docking procedure to be accepted when arriving at a station. This is further complicated by the fact that the warp-in landing position for some stations is too far away from the stations themselves. In the worst cases, you have to approach the station after leaving warp to be able to dock, which is less than ideal in, say, a freighter.

To create a docking bookmark, this is the simplest way:

  1. Warp to 0 to the target station
  2. Approach the station as closely as you can (use a small ship preferably)
  3. Press CTRL+B to bookmark your position

With this bookmark, you ensure that by warping to it, you will exit warp right on top of the station. Next, let’s see how to use it:

  1. Set the station as destination
  2. Warp to the bookmark
  3. During the warp, engage the autopilot

To explain: your bookmark will let you drop right on the station, but coming out of warp so close there is a good chance you will be bumped back away from it. By setting the autopilot, the command to dock will be processed on the EVE server before that, so that you will be effectively instadocked. Using this technique, even freighters can instadock and be virtually unassailable.


Tips for naming your bookmarks

This is open to much debate, and everyone will have his own system to name bookmarks, but with a lot of bookmarks having a system to categorize or tag them can help a lot.

Personally I like being verbose, and mostly just having one home station per system it will look like this for example:

Jita Hub
Jita Undock
Jita Dock

If you want a real naming system, I suggest having a look here:

http://www.evealtruist.com/2011/04/bookmarks-and-you.html

For the right-click menu in space, since the bookmarks are ordered alphabetically, it can make sense to name your docking bookmarks so they appear on top, by prepending characters that appear first (numbers and special characters).

A good alternative is just using folders: put all your undock bookmarks in a “Undock” folder, and all docking bookmarks in a “Docking” folder. That way, in the right-click menu you can use the appropriate folder. The only downside being that it may not be good to fiddle around with submenus when in a hurry.


Copying bookmarks

To share bookmarks with fleet buddies or to trade them in station:

  • Open People & Places, find your bookmark
  • Press and hold SHIFT
  • Drag the bookmark to your cargo hold or hangar

A copy of your bookmark will be created as a voucher item that you can trade or move around like a regular cargo item. To add it as a bookmark again, you simply drag this into the People & Places window. If you do not press the SHIFT key, the bookmark will be moved, not copied. Be careful with this, as it happened to many people before to lose bookmarks this way!

Hint: copying works between folders in People & Places as well.

 


Changelog:

1.2 – 13.06.2015
– Added keyboard shortcut for creating a bookmark
– Rewrote docking bookmarks section based on community feedback
– Added bookmark naming hints
– Added bookmark copying

1.1 – 12.06.2015
– Added undock invulnerability info

1.0 – 12.06.2015
– Initial version


Jun 6 2015

EveShipInfo WordPress plugin v1.5

EVE ShipInfo WordPress plugin

A new release of the EVEShipInfo WordPress plugin is available.

New in this version:

  • Carnyx data files
  • EFT fittings manager
  • Screenshots for the new ships

Dowload it via the offical plugin website, or upgrade via WordPress.

Note: Upgrading via WordPress unfortunately deleted the screenshots package, so you will have to reinstall it afterwards. I am looking for ways to prevent this.


Jan 5 2015

Day 3005: Nullsec trek

The stealth run

The itch to put Alea’s Nemesis‘ Interdiction Nullifier to the test prompted Aeon to dig up his old nullsec traveling plans again. He had not used the ship in quite a while, so the first step was to entirely review its fitting and adjust it to the task at hand. When Aeon was satisfied with the results, the next few days were spent doing trial runs to reawaken all the old reflexes that would be needed again after a longer stay in high security space. This included remembering how not panic, how to warp safely between gates and avoid bubbles (best to keep good practices even with the nullifier), how to gather intel on the activity in the systems on the route, how to evade pursuit and how not to panic (best to remember that twice).

The route itself was straightforward: a well used access pipeline into nullsec, and then a route through nullsec that would lead by a few notable locations in the same area (the wreck of Titan Steve being the main event), then exit through another pipeline at the end. To make the journey slightly safer, I waited for a day with a low pilot count on the server, combined with a usually quiet hour. Loreena scouted the access pipeline, which was comfortably quiet, then Aeon was on his way. He knew his choice of ship would make it more likely that he would be chased, but he’s stubborn like that. As I hoped, the systems on Aeon’s route were largely unpopulated, and the few people that were there did not pursue. When he reached the Steve system, there was a small fleet of about 8 people there. A quick investigation showed they were nowhere near the memorial itself, and surprisingly they kept to themselves while Aeon took some screenshots. Still, not one to play with fire longer than absolutely necessary, he did not linger. The only real encounter was a duo of interceptors that came to investigate while Aeon was visiting an abandoned caldari station. Luckily Aeon had already taken his screenshots and had cloaked up again. Loreena later argued that it was foolish to even uncloak to take a screenshot, but I can relate. No point in taking all these risks if you can’t even show off a little bit.

The next few sytems were empty, so Aeon could take in the impressive sight of a cluster of shattered planets without being disturbed at all. He stayed there for a cup of tea and two cookies, then made his way to the exit pipeline. Two systems there had bubbles and some apparently quite well organized gate camps, but luckily they were made to catch people coming in, not going out. Aeon did not bring anything back from this trip except the screenshots, but it was a first step in completing a plan that he made many years ago. It felt good to see him dust off old dreams like that, and I do not think he slacked his thirst for nullsec adventuring just yet. There are quite a number of locations still on his list, so Alea’s Nemesis is now safely parked in a high security space station until preparations for the next trek are done.

Of course all this would not have been possible at home with the satellite internet connection and its high latency: I had to do it in the office so I would be able to react in time to any situations that may arise. Being able to compare the latency to the regular DSL line in the office, I realized how much of a difference it can make: speed tests on sat vs office showed latencies of 719ms vs 31ms. Almost a full second delay when sending a command can very easily get you killed, even in a covert ops frigate. This made me wonder how high latency has to be to become a problem, since PvP fights are usually very short-lived, and small command delays can have big consequences.

On a sidenote™:

I mentioned a while ago that I started a third (still undisclosed) character, which I wanted to use for experimenting with playstyles I had not tried so far. Plans were mainly to try out nullsec life in a big alliance and factional warfare. As all good plans, they failed utterly :) Nullsec life turned out to be as evasive as I expected it to be, not because of nullsec itself (which is pretty cool) but because of the way I play EVE. I cannot use voice comms because I either play semi-afk in the office where that is just not done, or at home where I have to be attentive to things outside of the game. Despite quite some efforts I ended up being pretty useless to the corp I joined, and that is just too frustrating. After that fiasco, I did not even try factional warfare anymore. I know for a fact by now that I do not have the time to learn how to PvP properly, and I did not want to join up just to be useless yet again.

Still, after all this I did not regret starting a third character. Aeon and Loreena are both so tied up in their own roles that there are many things I will not do with them anymore. I realize that sounds a bit sad, but it really isn’t. I like where they both are after slowly growing into their respective roles, and I definitely want them to stay there. This third character is more of a sandbox to try out things (except unlawful stuff, that is still where I draw the line) without having to worry about anything, and once I am done exploring I should not have any trouble to let go of it (I hope). Any new things I learn I can then translate back to Aeon and Loreena. Right now the highlight is that I can fly a Vargur with it, which actually managed to make Aeon envious. I must say, that is one hell of a ship. Aeon never trained projectiles far enough to use the tech II variants, and seeing what the ship delivers I think Aeon will want to train up a bit after all.

Mastery levels and skills

Speaking of the Vargur: While training up for it, I found the ship mastery levels actually quite helpful – up to level IV. Level V is just silly. After three years more or less beelining for the Vargur, my third character has reached mastery level IV of the ship. According to the ingame previsions, it would take another 360+ days for mastery level V – I believe that to be a tad excessive. Aeon himself has reached mastery level V of the Armageddon a few months back for some weird reason, and has just recently unlocked quite a few more battleships by training the Armor Layering skill to V. In his case it is utterly useless, since he does not use any armor plates. Then again, why bother unlocking mastery levels at all? As an EVE veteran, I know I do not need some of those skills… Except that I have to admit seeing those golden badges in ISIS feels good. I could hit myself for falling into the trap, but I cannot help it 😛

Roleplaying

An unexpected side effect of starting the third character was testdriving some roleplaying corps and channels. Eventually I settled on the Intergalactic Summit channel, wich has some very good content at times. If you feel inspired and want to discuss current game events or even simply EVE-related things, it is often enough to post something to spark a conversation. With the current sleeper activity, there were some really good conversations going on. I had a lot of fun participating there, which gave me some insights into a community I wanted to have a look at for a long time. I think what I enjoyed even more than some good conversation though was that everyone was polite. No smacktalk, no trolling… very uncharacteristic for EVE.

Eye Candy!

This time in double screen format, since I had spread the EVE window over two screens. It’s a thoroughly weird format, since it was one 16:9 ratio screen and one 16:10, so I had to resize accordingly. Still, it was fun to have such a large view for once. It gives the game a whole new depth. New item for the 2015 wishlist: a second screen with a matching aspect ratio.

The Wreck Of Titan Steve
Shattered Planets
Abandoned Caldari Outpost
Inspecting The Abadoned Station
Ringed Planet Flyby
Classic EVE Space Scenery
Legion Exploration
Starting The Nullsec Trek


Dec 7 2014

The Ships of EVE 2014

Back in 2010, I built a first Ships of EVE poster. With the new version of my EVE ships database tool, I was able to make an updated version of the poster.

It’s quite interesting to compare the two posters: in 4 years, the number of ships increased from 240 to 482. This is mostly due to the new ship skins, but there are quite a few new additions in there as well. Visually, the big update is the fact that every ship has a background matching its race, which makes for a much more colorful layout. I ordered the ships by race so it does not look like a giant patchwork.

the_ships_of_eve_online_poster_2014_preview

Alternatively, I made separate posters for each race:

the_ships_of_eve_2014_banner_amarr

the_ships_of_eve_2014_banner_caldari

the_ships_of_eve_2014_banner_gallente

the_ships_of_eve_2014_banner_minmatar

Sadly there are no tools (that I know of) which could automate taking the ship screenshots, so it’s a manual screenshot-extravaganza to get it all together, taking them and cropping them all manually. It was worth it though, both for the WordPress plugin and the poster.


Dec 3 2014

EVE ShipsInfo wordpress plugin

Have you ever wanted to just show some nice inline ship information in your blog posts, or simply display a thematic list of ships? Like, say, the top 20 fastest warping frigates in EVE?

Here, let me… there’s a shortcode for that.

NameWarp speedRaceGroup
Cockroach20.00 AU/SGallenteFrigate
Crow8.00 AU/SCaldariInterceptor
Crusader8.00 AU/SAmarrInterceptor
Malediction8.00 AU/SAmarrInterceptor
Chremoas8.00 AU/SMinmatarCovert Ops
Buzzard8.00 AU/SCaldariCovert Ops
Helios8.00 AU/SGallenteCovert Ops
Cheetah8.00 AU/SMinmatarCovert Ops
Anathema8.00 AU/SAmarrCovert Ops
Claw8.00 AU/SMinmatarInterceptor
Raptor8.00 AU/SCaldariInterceptor
Whiptail8.00 AU/SCaldariInterceptor
Stiletto8.00 AU/SMinmatarInterceptor
Ares8.00 AU/SGallenteInterceptor
Taranis8.00 AU/SGallenteInterceptor
Dramiel7.50 AU/SMinmatarFrigate
Harpy5.50 AU/SCaldariAssault Frigate
Gatherer5.50 AU/SAmarrAssault Frigate
Retribution5.50 AU/SAmarrAssault Frigate
Jaguar5.50 AU/SMinmatarAssault Frigate

If you click on a ship name, you get a popup with a view of the ship, as well as all essential ship attributes.

Tables are cool, but personally I live for the eye candy – which is why there’s a shortcode to build galleries. Let’s try, say, all battlecruiser hulls with 6 or more high slots and 6 or more lowslots:

This is all made possible with a WordPress plugin I built, called EVE ShipInfo. It’s an evolution of an older similar script I had built quite some time ago. In essence it adds a portable EVE Online ships database to your WordPress blog, complete with front and side screenshots for for all 418 ship hulls (at the time of writing, with the Phoebe release). There is still a lot to be improved, but making it better is the fun part now that the core works :)

If you have an EVE-related blog, I invite you to check it out, and feedback is always appreciated. For developers the easy to use API can be interesting as well if you want to query the database from one of your own plugins.

To learn more and download it, check out the EVE ShipInfo plugin homepage.


Sep 9 2014

Aeon’s portraits collection

I introduced the collection a while ago, and since then it has grown quite a bit. There are 137 portraits in total now, and I weeded out a few. On top of this, I added different display sizes and a sorting mode by weight, which orders the list by my subjective preference.

Aeon's Portraits Collection - Updated


Sep 8 2014

One playstyle down the drain

build_t2_drone_damage_amplifierFor the past six months or so, Loreena has been working to get back into industry. To support these efforts, I built a custom industry tool tailored to the size of her operation, which consisted mainly of inventing and building T2 modules and drones. Once she had the logistics and know-how mastered, it started being fun and for the first time in her EVE career, her industry undertaking actually gave a benefit. Nothing transcendental, but enough to keep her motivated.

With the industry overhaul, my biggest fear was that her casual highsec manufacturing venture would not be able to compete with low/null manufacturing. At first though, prices stayed relatively stable and she went on building happily. Then the industry community at large really caught on to the new system.

As it stands, many of the modules Loreena used to build are for sale on market for prices way below those she can offer, for some up to 300k ISK per item. Even buying materials at below market value, she cannot compete with the current prices. In practice, as my casual playstyle does not allow for a life in lowsec (I tried several times, it’s just not fun for me), it means one playstyle less in Loreena’s book.

It’s a shame really, since the new UI works really well and made industry noticeably more fun. I can understand CCP’s desire to attract more people to low and nullsec, but I think that industry is not where it should be applied. So far, any additions to the game designed to make pilots flock to lowsec never really conflicted with my casual playstyle: At worst, I am missing out on some juicy or exciting content, but I can live with that. These new changes however break the pattern, and create a disparity that you can only respond to by moving to lowsec.

I know Loreena and Aeon are only small fish, and perhaps my playstyle is not the norm – but I wonder where CCP being this hell bent on forcing people to low/null will lead us. Loreena and Aeon both still have enough material to have fun, but for a game as friendly to casual gamers as EVE I see this as a bad choice indeed. Especially since they did such a terrific job with the new UI.


Aug 20 2014

Circumventing Customs Offices

Customs OfficeOne of the drawbacks of player owned customs offices is that they often change hands, or that the current owners try to milk everyone for everything they are worth. I had a case like that lately, where the tax was at 20% despite having the Customs Code Expertise skill at V.

I am fine with reasonable taxes, after all maintaining (defending) a customs office is worth something. In this case however, I began looking for alternatives. Dialogue with the customs office owner lead nowhere, as they were a highsec griefer corp who had simply found another way to, well, grief anyone willing to fall into their trap.

I was not going to pay those prices, but I needed an alternative until their spot could be vacated and replaced with someone more reasonable. I did not want to move planets because of them either. I knew that you can use the command center to make launches, so I had a look at that again.

To use the command center you have to link it to your storage, and make an expedited transfer of the things you want to launch. The good news is that you only pay the NPC launch tax then. The bad news is that the command center has only 500 m3 cargo capacity, so launching your products will take a few launches.

Let’s take my planet making Enriched Uranium as example: it produces around 1600 units per week, and the command center can hold 333 units. That’s 5 launches, which isn’t too bad! However, the expedited transfer to the command center had a really high cooldown, with over 20 minutes. That’s almost 2 hours to launch everything, so not really a good solution.

A few searches later, I learned that you have to upgrade the link to the command center to reduce the cooldown (explanation). I was able to reduce the cooldown to 5 minutes, which makes this a viable solution. If you do your launches while restarting the extraction on your colony, it will not be that much of a bother.

While it is far from ideal and does not work for all use cases, it is a great way to circumvent high taxes. For high-end products it may even be a better solution than the launchpad, where the volumes are much smaller to begin with.


Aug 8 2014

Working with PI on Gas planets

The most troublesome planetary colonies that Aeon has had to manage so far have always been on gas planets. And for good reason: these planets are a lot bigger than their solid matter based counterparts. This means that distances when placing structures are not what they seem: that extractor one centimetre away from your main base in the planetary user interface is actually thousands of kilometres away, much farther than that same centimetre represents on, say, a barren planet. This is due to the fact that the user interface does not convey the dimensions of the planets at all.

Technical blurb aside, fact is that links to extractors far away from your main base are just way too expensive on gas planets. The solution is simply to make do without linking your extractors. To illustrate how this works, I have created an explanation sheet:

PI on Gas Planets

So to sum this up:

  1. Build your main consisting of only the spaceport and the advanced industry facilities.
  2. For each material you wish to extract, create independent secondary bases.
  3. Each secondary base has an extractor, a storage unit and basic factories to process the materials.
  4. When the extractors finish their cycle, decommission the secondary bases except for the storage.
  5. Create links from the spaceport to the storage units (made possible by the power and CPU freed up).
  6. Transfer the processed materials to the spaceport, so the advanced industry can start.
  7. Decommission the leftover storage units.
  8. Rinse and repeat: rebuild the secondary bases in new material hotspots.

Obviously this works best if you use longer extraction cycles, so you do not have to do a wild clickfest every few hours to rebuild the secondary bases.