“We’ve always been each other’s greatest nemesises… uh, nemesee… wh-what’s the plural on that?”

One of the best parts of Champions Online has always been its Nemesis system.

Every hero has one.  Batman has the Joker.  Spider-Man has the Green Goblin.  Thor has Loki.  Superman has Lex Luthor.  And so on, and so on.  That one villain who is the bane of their existence.  But wait-honestly, it’s not so much that they have a single nemesis-they all have a rotating rogue’s gallery, a heap of villains.  Bats doesn’t just have the Joker; he’s got the Riddler and the Penguin and Ra’s al Ghul and Catwoman.  Spider-Man has Doctor Octopus and the Lizard and the Kingpin and Kraven the Hunter.

City of Heroes had never really been able to replicate that sort of thing, one of its few lingering faults in my opinion.  Mission Architect could help a little bit, but that required you to actually figure out how to make a mission from start to finish.  CO may have its faults, but their Nemesis system seemed to definitely be a winner, and it still stuns me after all these years how-outside of one endgame thing-they never bothered to iterate on it.  As in, at all.  It’s one of their prime attractions to that game, and they ignore it.  (I’ve spoken recently about how dumb the decision making at Cryptic is; this is just another example.)

Over my time in the game, I’ve managed to mess with this with a few heroes; one of them even managed to jail no less than two of his nemeses.  This probably demands a bit of explanation first before I get into them.

When you get to level 25, you can go to the police station in Millennium City and “reveal” a secret history to the cop there-about your Nemesis!  It’s a thinly veiled story lead-in to allow you to design your villain.  The villain has pretty much all the same costume options as the hero does (save for weapons, I believe).  You define a general power set for them, and assign henchmen-which have their own powerset.  Once you’ve done that-and an introductory mission for the Nemesis-then you can expect to occasionally be ambushed by the minions of the Nemesis while you’re out in the world beating bad guys.  If you defeat them (which, honestly, is rarely too hard-the hard part is if you’re fighting someone else at the same time.  This will happen-often), one will usually drop a clue that goes in your inventory; opening it starts a “Nemesis Mission”, which features something the Nemesis is doing or the minions are doing, which you get to foil.  Eventually, it all comes to a head and you may finally confront the Nemesis and defeat them, and put them in jail.  Except…you have the option of reactivating the Nemesis, which will start a new cycle with villain, or create a NEW Nemesis.  And when that cycle is done, you can choose to reactivate either of the old ones, or create yet another.  And so on, to a maximum of eighteen.  That’s not as easy as it sounds, because there is a cooldown timer limiting how often the minions ambush you-or more accurately, how often they drop clues.

There’s occasional bugs in the system; the Prison Break mission is infamous for having a bug that prevents you from completing the mission (I avoid it by just not saving any policemen, opening the cells, and making sure to defuse the bomb; I can’t be 100 percent certain that any of the above actually helps).  And there’s one mission involving a VIPER Draysha facility that doesn’t cooperate so well if you’re teamed up with other heroes.  So no, it isn’t perfect, and since CO is basically barely above maintenance mode (it still finds time for lockboxes), they probably won’t improve anyday soon.

That said, it’s still fun to have your hero occasionally get reminded by your Nemesis that they’re still out there.

So far, I’ve had four Nemeses (see?  I know the plural form!) for my characters, and they’re worth sharing.

Demons are NOT people too!

The first one was Fhtagath, a Nemesis for Runelord.  That character was a wizard sort of guy, so it made sense to make a demon sort of guy to fight him.  The name was derived a bit from Lovecraft; it sounded suitably horrific.  I’d gone with a savage personality with Infernal Supernatural powers, so he was a definite melee brute-a nasty counterpoint to my ranged based Grimoire character.  I used Ice Demons as his minions, but gave them fire powers; I liked the dichotomy.  He actually featured in the one bit of fiction I wrote for Runelord as the demon that killed his master, but in the service of its own master (who never, alas, was revealed).

Beautiful and deadly was also a consideration.

The good news for the good guys was, eventually, I managed to put him in jail (well, from a character standpoint, I banished him).  So I expanded Runelord’s gallery by introducing the Black Blade.  I made her a swordswoman-again with the melee!-and made her a thief of occult treasures and artifacts.  Since Runelord’s backstory included possession of a fairly potent artifact, it would be a fair hook for any future writing I did (alas!), as well as give him a villain who wasn’t necessarily focused on simply rending him apart.  Her minions were your traditional ninja; I’d not worked out why they worked for her, but I’m pretty sure I was leaning towards them being bound to the owner of the sword she used.

Why yes, she IS threatening you.

Gunfighter was another character who had a Nemesis available, and she was still at large; Mind Ripper was a telepath, and she came from the same program that had produced Gunfighter; the difference was that instead of being given tech to take advantage of exceptional skill, she had her very genetic structure remapped to produce telpathic powers-which drove her nuts.  Her minions were thugs-who also wielded telepathic powers.  My rationale was that she had effectively created a hive-mind with these thugs, so they no longer had any will of their own.  I’d given her a maniac personality; that’s something worth mentioning-each Nemesis could have one of three personality types:  mastermind, savage, or maniac.  It could lead to some dialogue that didn’t really make much sense, and three is just limiting-you’d think it wouldn’t be hard to add more types, but again, that would require developers to actually iterate on the system.

The hair alone should qualify him as “mad”.

The last Nemesis is the most recent, and is tied to my recent hero, Asteroid.  When I was working up a backstory for him, included a reference to a mad scientist who had owned the moon base that Asteroid now uses; Asteroid referred to him as “Doctor Whatsisface”.  So I decided it would be a good direction to go for his first nemesis.  Since I liked the humor I was putting into the character’s backstory, I decided to continue a bit of it for his Nemesis.  I decided that the name “Doctor Whatsisface” actually stuck, and that’s what the media started calling him.  So now you have a mad scientist who has put conquering the world as a secondary goal, with a primary goal of beating up and burying that alien buffoon who stuck him with that ludicrous nickname!  I gave him a gadgeteer powerset, which is pretty nasty as I hear it, and gave him insectoid minions with the power-armor powerset:  genetically engineered and heavily armed, I wanted to put the “mad science” into my mad scientist.  Given that I didn’t have a lab coat costume part to work with, I think he came out pretty good.

The Nemesis system may have its flaws-I’m sure the missions can become as repetitive as time goes on, but it’s still one of the better parts of CO.  And really, what’s the fun of making a hero if you can’t make a villain to go against him?  The only negative is having to get a character all the way to level 25 to do it, but given how deadly those villains can be, maybe that’s not such a bad thing.

The New Champion

Recently I’ve been feeling the urge to be super-heroic again.  So I’m visiting Champions Online again.

Sure, I could get my super-hero on with Marvel Heroes (and I still am, have no doubt; been working on the Silver Surfer there recent days, and waiting patiently for Star-Lord’s release), but the issue there is that I can’t play a hero of my own creation.  There’s only two MMOs out there that will allow THAT these days, and DC Universe Online just isn’t on my radar.

Which brings us to Champs again.

The first things I did was to resolve some lingering issues with older characters; the big one was getting the Silver Paladin character to level 40, mainly to open up a new character slot.  The character had been close when I set CO aside, and I wanted to get that done.  Which I did.  Then came the time to decide what to do next.  Being the altoholic that I am, I wasn’t going to just sit and muck with my level 40 characters; while I’m a fan of Runelord, Silver Paladin, and Gunfighter, I just couldn’t see a reason to play them again.  Plus, a couple of them are associated with one of my larger failures which had been one of the prompts that likely led to me leaving CO in the first place.  So I wanted a new start-and plus, I always enjoy coming up with interesting backstories for the characters, especially since that sort of thing makes it easier to do the RP thing if I should wind up in a situation like that; it’s a lot easier to RP a character if you have some idea about who they are, instead of trying to make stuff up on the fly.  Which I have done in the past once or twice….

So, I decided to make a character that was different than most of the ones I’ve made in various games.  Coreth Landwalker, Old Ranger, Walter Frost, Alcaran Rost, Stellar Protector, Zhaven Rel, Jenled Lar…all of these characters have a commonality in their traits.  Their backgrounds encourage drama.  Or melodrama, depending on how you look at it.  There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that-hell, the fact that I made all these characters should prove that.  But I decided that I wanted to make a FUN character; one who didn’t have the baggage of a doomity-doom past, a character who wasn’t serious all the time, and would be a far more personable character than any of the others I’ve made.  I was inspired by reading the trades of the comic The Incredible Hercules by Marvel, and I used that as a starting point for a personality.  Then I got creative.

The Asteroid Lands on Millennium City!

So I created…the Asteroid!  Is it a silly name for a hero?  Sure is!  But as the character might point out, “if your planet gets hit by an asteroid, that’s it!  All over!”  The character was designed to be an alien-why go mythological when you can mess with sci-fi?  His personality-the reason he fights villains?  He likes to hit bad guys!  Give him a desire to compete in an alien gladiatorial game, with the understanding that the CO setting has just such a one on the Moon, and have him appreciate humanity for its diversity (especially if you make his species one that tends to be stale and boring), and you get a possible winner.

His physical design was a bit trickier.  I didn’t want to make him TRULY alien; no insect heads or anything like that, but I did want to make it blatantly obvious that he wasn’t exactly human.  So I gave him the two-fingered hand, alien eyes with added glow to make them stand out, and a mohawk with black AND blood-red hairs.  The outfit is…well, not exactly a fashion disaster, but could be the kind you’d see off of someone who is trying to call attention to himself.  Finally, I set the character’s mood to “pleasant”, so that he’d always look like he had at least a half-smile on his face.

His power design was always gonna be the Might framework; on my character roster (several of which don’t actually have backgrounds yet until I get an urge to develope ‘em-that DOES happen), I have a martial artist, a telekinetic-sword fighter, a dual wielding axe hero, a heavy weapon user (for those absurdly sized swords), and a fighting-claw user.  Might-just sheer super strength-wasn’t one of the sets I’d focused on as of yet, and while I’d made a few attempts at it in the past, I’d always ended up scrapping them; they were designed more as “Superman” types.  Not having a definite concept behind them probably hurt them the most-this should not be a problem with Asteroid.  Strength was going to be the hallmark of the character, and his selection of powers and talents would be built around that.

I did make a last minute decision to tie in some of the growth powers.  I didn’t really envision him as someone who could grow bigger in a fight, but I decided “why not?”  It’s not easy for him to get to his current max height-it requires use of certain powers, and the effect can wear off pretty quickly, but my concept works with that sort of thing; if I wanted him huge to start with, I’d have gone with something other than a default height when he was created-I’d have maxed out that height slider.

So far, I’ve had some fun with the character.  One of the downsides for him is that his defensive abilities aren’t exactly well developed yet, so I find I need to suck down consumable healing packets for some fights, but he’s getting closer to where I’d like him to be.  He’s up to about 15th level right now, and I have to admit-there’s something just so RIGHT about lifting up cargo vans and chucking them at the bad guys.  I’m looking forward to seeing if I can get him to lift even heavier objects, like eighteen wheelers.  (What?  That’s not logically possible?  You wouldn’t go far in superhero MMOs, my friends!)  I don’t know how long this run will last-CO has failed in the past to keep my interest in the long term, and I suspect that may be the case again.  But then, with a new character slot opening with every level 40 and no SG stuff to lock me into any characters, it may work better this time than in the past.

Speaking of Exploration…

Recently, I felt it was time to do something in EVE Online that I’d been looking to do for a while now.  It was time to go wormhole diving!

This required a bit of prep first, though.  Wormholes are considered null-sec space, in a manner of speaking.  That manner of speaking would be “if it can see you, it can shoot you and laugh as the bits of your ship, your pod, and your corpse drift away in the cold unforgiving void”.  Obviously, this was not a situation where I wanted to take an expensive ship loaded with expensive tech.

No, this was something that called for “expendable”.  One of the truisms of EVE that you see quoted everywhere is “don’t fly anything you aren’t prepared to lose”.  So I made sure that I could afford to lose this one:  a simple Imicus frigate, with tech one cloaking devices, afterburners (found out I accidentally never trained microwarp drives on this guy-oops), and scan probe launchers.  An afterthought had me slap in a relic and data hacking module; just in case I found something interesting.

My skills for scanning (meaning, the character skills, not necessarily the player’s skills) are pretty good, so I wasn’t concerned about probe strength or anything like that.  I figured I had decent odds of finding a wormhole somewhere.  And then I expected to go in them.  My plan was to go as far into wormhole space as I could, or failing that, into space far, far, far away from home.  Wormholes can lead anywhere, after all-and a new wormhole in wormhole space could land me in the wilds of null-sec just as easily as hi-sec.

I was set-I had already taken the additional precaution of using one of my expendable jump-clones, without any implants.  So I had an expendable clone body flying an expendable ship equipped with expendable tech.  The cash it set me back could be made up in one, maybe two easy level 3 combat missions.  I didn’t bother insuring it; my expectation was that it was space-dust the moment I undocked, and if I got back with it intact, I’d call it a bonus.

It didn’t take me long to scan down a wormhole somewhere, and go right on in.  The interesting part about wormhole space is that it has no “Local” chat tab-or more precisely, that tab doesn’t tell you how many people are in that portion of space.  So if nobody sees my arrival, nobody knows I’m there.  Being the paranoid sort, though, I made sure to warp away from the wormhole and find a nice quiet spot to scan while under cloak.  Found another wormhole, it led to another wormhole system.  Found lots of other things on scan, too, but since this was effectively a probe/exploration ship, not a combat ship, it would be a really dumb thing for me to try to get to those site in wormhole space and deal with the NPC Sleeper ships which I’m told are pretty rough to start with.

The Other Side

In the second wormhole pocket, I found another wormhole-but it led to null-sec space.  Well, this was what I wanted, wasn’t it?  So I went into the wormhole, and appeared about fifty-some jumps away from my home space.

And it was empty.  Null-sec isn’t like wormhole space-you can see who’s in the area with you on the Local chat tab.  I was it.  I’d appeared in a dead-end system, one stargate in and out.  I still took precautions of creating a safe-spot and then cloaked up and scanned for stuff.  I found a data site, so I warped on over and hacked upon some of the containers there.  It wasn’t exactly huge profits, but it did introduce me to some twists to the hacking game that I hadn’t seen in hi-sec, like one of the nodes that strengthened other defensive nodes.  That made life rough until I caught onto what was going on.  I didn’t do badly, though.  I thought about returning home via the wormhole…but what’s the fun in that?  The whole point was to see what I could see, right?  So I warped out.

Hacker’s Paradise? Not Exactly.

This system was NOT uninhabited.  There were about eight other ships there, and they knew I was there as much as I knew they were there.  Not a word showed up on local, but my assumption was that they were all allied with each other-and they would be looking for me!  So I again went out of my way to find a safe spot-constantly moving and warping-and then cloaked up and scanned.  Unfortunately-or fortunately!-there really wasn’t much to speak of in the area.  Not even another wormhole.  So the next trick was to get out before they caught up with me.

That was where I made my first mistake.  I warped to a gate about 50km out, figuring to see if they’d set up any warp disruption bubbles or something similar to stop me from warping directly to the gate.  Of course, this would mean I would be exposed.  I can’t warp while cloaked in this set-up.  I saw there was no bubble, so I began flying toward it, afterburners blazing.  This was a mistake.  I was still about 30km out when I saw the first ship warp into the area.  Maybe I was scanned out, or maybe they were sending guards to all the gates, but I was spotted now.  Second mistake made at this point-and it was related to the first.  And that mistake was this:  I should have warped away back to a safespot-or really, ANYWHERE other than trying to get to the gate.  By the time I realized this mistake, reinforcements showed up and I was being scrambled-there would be no escape for me.

Boom.  Bye bye, Imicus starship.

But, amazingly, not bye bye pod!  I’d already managed to target another stargate so that the moment my pod ejected, I was warping it away-so I escaped death!  (Of course, I lost the stuff I’d hacked out, but it wasn’t exactly earth-shattering profits.)  So it was time to make my way back to home space-or perhaps near it.  I decided that this was as good a time as any to have a jump clone situated in Jita, the biggest marketplace system in EVE.  This did mean, though, that I’d need to get through a very lengthy stretch of null and low-sec space.

It actually wasn’t as hard as it sounded.  Once I’d evaded the guys who blew up my ship-they didn’t really pursue, since they had no idea where I’d gone by then-a large portion of null-sec was empty.  At least until I neared low-sec.  On one of my attempts to get out, I hit a warp disruption bubble-and there were active ships not far.  I’d reacted quickly enough, though, to get my pod out of the bubble and warping to one of the other objects in the system.  Checking my map, I worked out where to go to warp directly to the gate without intersecting the bubble-it’s HARD to cover all the access points to a gate-and warped directly to the gate from there.  I think I caught someone going “What the hell?!” as I blew through and warped out.  There may have been some pursuit briefly, but I was well positioned on the other side, and I continued my journey.

Ultimately, I did make it out, and I did make it to Jita.  It was a heck of a trip, and it’s something I’ll likely try again soon for the kicks.  I’d have liked to get deeper into wormhole space, but if I end up somewhere else…well, that’s the whole point of exploring, isn’t it?

No Longer Boldly Going….

There are two things you can rely on from the devs on Star Trek Online.

One:  their feature episodes are awesome.

Two:  their decision making stinks.

Given how rare feature episodes are, it’s not hard to figure that option two is the one that tends to get noticed more often.  And that’s what I’m going to address today.

Recently, the executive producer of STO announced season 9.5 (ah, those halfway publishes; I never understood why they bothered with that sort of thing.  Call it season 10 and be honest about it.  I’ve had this issue with other games, too.) which would contain a revamp to crafting.

This makes, what, the third time?  The fourth?

A part of this process includes closing the planet Memory Alpha, which means it’ll effectively no longer be in the game.  Yes, clearly it wasn’t enough for the devs to remove entire missions from the game (State of Q, anyone?); now they’re going to remove Memory Alpha entirely.  (Caveat:  it’s possible that things have changed since I last checked, but the last patch notes I saw for the test server sure said they were closing it.)  Memory Alpha, for those not in the know, was the crafting hub for Starfleet in the game, at least at one point.  With a crafting revamp, one could argue-and it seems this is the devs’ argument-that it no longer serves a purpose-so out it goes.

Closing Indefinitely

If THAT is their argument, might as well scrap Andoria, too-I mean, nothing happens THERE, either.  (Crap, I hope they aren’t reading this-they don’t need any more ideas.)

I’ve not seen much on the actual crafting process-I’ve never been big on crafting in STO, and I’d maxed out a character on that during the FIRST iteration of the crafting process.  I’ve not heard how the devs will treat folks who have done that-but I imagine it’ll be the “sucks to be you” sort of thing.  From what I’m reading from people who have been on the test server, though, there are a number of changes that are somewhat unimpressive-like a revamp of the duty officer interface, which didn’t really need revamping.  The unreplicatable materials are going away, as I hear it; folks who have burned Dilithium (remember, that’s the trade-in for Zen on the market, giving it actual cash value) to create those materials better use ‘em to craft stuff quick-I’ve heard of no compensation or refunds for those announced.  I’m not sure if Dilithium will be involved in the crafting process, but I’ll be shocked if it isn’t-Perfect World Entertainment is hardly one to pass up a chance to make a buck.  And the materials used in the old crafting system?  They’ll be able to be converted (probably at a loss) to the newer materials, although at the moment the procedure is tedious if you have a large volume of the stuff.  I’ll give the devs this much credit-they are supposedly looking to make that easier.

All that’s minor, though, in comparison with what I view as a bigger sin in a Star Trek game.  They’re also removing the Star Clusters from the game-the one portion of the game that had a stain of exploration to it.  If a Star Trek game without exploration sounds okay to you, it’s time to re-evaluate what Star Trek is actually about.

Here’s what one of the devs had to say about it.

I can answer this succinctly without touching on the rest of the thread yet – The Star Cluster missions were really out of date and a generally awful game experience for any new players who stumbled upon them. While those of us who are veterans of the game were able to accept them as their own thing and do them only when we wanted to, new players would (with moderate frequency) enter a star cluster mission, get lost or get blocked on an unclear objective, and then quit and never return.

Additionally, the Star Cluster missions took up a sizable portion of the game’s install size. This also negatively impacts new players, as the longer it takes to download and install the game, the less likely they are to actually complete the process and give it a shot. So the very existence of Star Cluster missions was essentially dinging our player retention at least twice for each new player.

We recognize that removing them has removed a feeling of exploration from the game, and we know that the feeling of exploration is important to the Star Trek vision and feel – we’ll want to rectify that. However, the presence of the Star Cluster missions in the game just provided so many negatives that they outweighed the positive of holding on to that feel of exploration.

We’re looking in to modifying the Exploration Accolades so that they’re still obtainable.

I should probably look at this paragraph by paragraph.

I can concede easily that the exploration clusters are out of date and boring and repetitive-and worse still, sometimes they made no sense whatsoever.  Ask someone about the Borg Dynasties, for example, just for a laugh.  People quitting missions happens all the time; it’s nothing new.  How they get lost is beyond me; people were doing the missions just fine before they made them easier by including the ability to scan for objectives.  Some objectives got blocked solely because of problems with map geometry, where sometimes enemies and boffs would literally fall through the ground and continue the fight out of sight.  Those missions became more rare as devs fixed those.  The only way that I can see people “becoming lost” would be if they didn’t know how to scan for stuff; and gosh!  Wouldn’t that be a smart thing to have included in a TUTORIAL?!  So I view paragraph one above as garbage.

Install size?  Seriously?  They’re saying folks decide not to do the game because of install size?  In this day and age?  Seriously?  Paragraph two is even more garbage.

Bringing us to paragraph three.  At least he acknowledges that Star Trek is about exploration at its base-although again, most of the negatives he pointed out is garbage.  Worse still is the implication that they haven’t even started to work out what to put in its place.  They’re removing the one exploration-related bit of gameplay from the game and leaving nothing in its place.  I won’t say it’s unforgivable…but it’s pretty damned stupid.  Now, maybe the big expansion will bring on an entirely new and better exploration system-but of course, since nobody will say anything about that expansion, that just leaves it a mystery-and in the meantime, the very core of what Star Trek is about is cut away.

I don’t know what it is with these devs, sometimes; I have no problem with them trying to improve systems and the like; they may be failing in some cases, but they are trying.  But when they just cut out parts of a game for no good reasons….

It’s not hard to see why I spend less and less time in STO.

Won’t be seeing you anymore….

Send In The Clones

The last time I wrote on EVE, I’d mentioned the joys of grinding standings.  I’d been slowly but surely developing my Sisters of EVE standing by running a lot of courier missions.  And by a lot, I mean “Oh-My-God-This-Is-Killing-My-Soul”.  Combat missions might’ve made the process go faster, but my experience in the last level 4 combat mission I’d done made me somewhat wary.  Still, it was getting done, and I was creeping up closer to my target standing; I wanted to get to a standing of 8.0 or above, and I was sitting a little over 7.5.  That was when a new storyline mission popped.

Things have changed a wee bit since that ugly encounter.  The time had been well spent in continuing to skill up combat skills; I could upgrade a fair chunk of my Megathron battleship to tech-2 equipment.  Not the guns, naturally-that would’ve been too easy.  But the armor hardeners that upped my resistance to various types of attack, the armor plates, and my capacitor rechargers that-in theory-would mean I could fight longer…all that I was now able to use.  I was also able to use a tech 2 armor repairer, but the problem with that was powergrid issues; couldn’t get it fit.  The differences were marginal enough-at least at first glance-to make me feel that I could live without that.

I believed that a successful level 4 storyline combat mission could get me a lot closer to that magic 8.0.  And this time, I did my due diligence.  I hopped on the web and reserached the mission, and found out that it would feature drone attackers-not the drones like players use, but frigates, cruisers, and battleships controlled by AI.  This meant that EM weaponry would probably be best.  Of course, last time around, I’d mentioned that hybrid turrets didn’t exactly give you flexibility when choosing damage; it was thermal and kinetic damage and nothing else.  I still hadn’t trained up other weapons of large size (pretty much required for battleships), and I’m not sure I’d have switched even if I had; the Megathron has enough bonuses to large hybrid turrets that I’m not sure I wanted to go without.

My own drones were a different story.  I loaded up five EM damage-dealing medium drones, and three light drones of the same, rounding it off with two light thermal damage drones.  I’d basically used tech-1 versions that I’d looted from other combat missions.  My strategy was going to be fairly simple:  drones to deal with frigates and cruisers, and the guns for battleships.  This time, I’d loaded up with iridium ammo for range, and antimatter for damage.  My guns were still the long-range railguns; in hindsight, I probably should’ve considered blasters, which are shorter range but lots more damage.  This is what happens when you ignore the numbers.

Now that I was armed for bear-in theory-and making sure I had enough time for the night’s festivities, I flew into the encounter.  Right off the bat, I knew I might have issues; unlike some missions, which could allow you to warp in much further away (which would’ve been nice for a rails-equipped ship), this was “warp to encounter’; there would be little breathing room.  My ship warped in, and the attack began.  Things got ugly fast; my light drones made fast work of the frigates, and my medium ones had taken out one of the cruisers; but I was taking damage a lot faster than I’d figured.  Looking at one of my armor hardeners-a reactive hardener-I could see that it was putting its efforts into dealing with explosive and EM damage.  Naturally, my ship was using armor hardeners that dealt with thermal and kinetic.  Oops.  I recalled my drones, and warped out-but not before the attackers began chewing into my structure.

I repaired the armor damage with my armor repairer, warped to a station, docked to recharge shields and capacitor-and to fit the EM and explosive hardeners.  Why take more abuse if you don’t have to?  Then I returned to the field of battle.  And my reactive armor hardener began applying mostly to thermal and kinetic.  Well, the intel had told me to expect “all damage types”.  I just didn’t expect to have them adjust on the fly like that.  Well, what’s good for the goose….

I cleared out all of the cruisers before warping out again-and this time, more of my structure was getting hammered.  Structure is expensive to repair; I could see my profit margins going down fast in this fight-especially since drones tend to drop pretty much nothing as far as loot goes, and I could tell I wasn’t going to have the time to do a salvage job later.  At this point, I began to consider new tactics.  When I warped back in, the first thing I did was hit the afterburners.  I’d installed them on the ship for situations like this-when I’d need to put distance between my attackers and me.  Distance was my friend; I could hit targets fairly reliably from 70km away, and still hit fairly hard.  The damage of my attackers became less reliable, and the accuracy hurt too.  In short, the enemy was apparently set up for close range fighting-and I wasn’t.  It was time to fight on my terms, not theirs.

To cut short a long story…it took a fair chunk of time, but in the end, there were a lot of broken drone ships, and my ship had come out on top.  The only downside-well, in addition to structure damage-was the fact that I was so relieved it was over that I warped out-and forgot to pick up my medium drones.  Oops.  Well, it’s not like I can’t find more.  Heck, I’ve swiped unattended drones by scanning them down on occasion.  Drones aren’t an issue, especially since they were all tech-1 drones.

The standing jump put me well above 8.0.

So now things open up a bit.  I immediately created a jump clone at the SOE station, flew my battleship back to its home dock, then jumped into that clone.  Then I installed another jump clone.  (If I remember right, I should be able to install another later for a total of four clones-my “original” and 3 jump clones.)  So that puts me pretty much where I want to be for my big goals.

A truism of EVE is that you should never fly anything you aren’t prepared to lose.  EVE is still very much a PvP game, and if a player thinks he can gain by blowing you up in hi-sec, even the punishing CONCORD retaliation won’t save your ship.  In lower security regions, players don’t even have to worry about that-they’ll blow you up just because you might do the same to them.  Or for the laughs-it’s hard to tell sometimes.  Add to that null security space, and the major player alliances and all of that…and you can see where the problems can come into play.  Add to that the fact that my clone-until now-had a heap of implants improving attributes, which allow me to train some skills a tad faster.  That mades getting my pod killed dangerous-in other wordes, I wasn’t prepared to lose the implants, so even my pod was something I couldn’t afford to lose, in my mind.

That situation no longer exists.  With the jump clones, I now have two clones which have no implants; it slows training time, but it frees me up to do fairly suicidal things.  Which is, amusingly, the next step.

Way back, CCP introduced wormholes to their game, where you could go into strange space where there was no protection, but also no set gates to guard.  The only ways in and out of wormhole space were-duh!-wormholes.  And those regions of space always had wormholes, often to other regions of space-even other, deeper levels of wormhole space.  They could wind up putting you anywhere.  This has appealed to me a great deal, but aside from short visits, I’ve been reluctant to explore them fully.  Mainly because if you got your ship killed, you had an excellent chance of being stranded in wormhole space so you’d have to pod-kill yourself to get out.  And I already mentioned the implant issue.

Not an issue anymore.  So in the not too distant future, my plans are fairly simple:  get a fairly cheap frigate with cloaking device and cheap scan probes, find a wormhole (which isn’t too hard, especially since I’d sharpened my scanning skills a long time ago), and see how far down the rabbit hole I can go.  It won’t get me any money-the “rats” in wormhole space are way too dangerous for the ship build here-and it won’t get me anything special, but that’s not the point.  The point is to get out of my nice, comfortable hi-sec nest and go somewhere new.  It may be boring as hell; it may be the wrong kind of exciting (“Ooo, look at the tech-3 cruiser shooting at me!  Oops!  I’ve been podded!”).  It might strand me deep into low-sec or null-sec space.  But it’ll be fun-and since I’m not tricking out the ship (not like I’m taking a tech-2 ship or something like that), it’ll be easily replaceable.  And when I get back to my home space, whenever that is, I’ll have a tale to tell.  At least, that’s the hope.

Soon, my friend.  Soon...

Soon, my friend. Soon…

Bad Reputation

I’ve held off on posting on this one-even though it’s been Live for a while now-because I wasn’t quite sure how I felt about it.  But at the least, it’s worth commenting on, so here goes.  I’m going to talk about the Reputation system-and its recent changes in Star Trek Online.

The origin of the whole thing can be found in the Fleet system, when the game introduced Fleet Holdings.  A fleet could build its own starbase-and later, other holdings like an embassy on New Romulus.  However, to build it up, you had to complete Fleet Projects, and a lot of them.  The cost was usually in a special currency called Fleet Marks-which you could gain from fleet actions-in addition to items of various types which you could buy for energy credits, and of course, heaps of Dilithium (which, as players of STO know, is the currency which you can effectively buy for real money as well as grind for).  Naturally, the requirements got higher and higher with each tier of the holding.

The developers liked this so much, apparently, that they introduced the Reputation system, basing it hard on the Fleet Projects.  For MMO players, it’s not really anything new.  The requirements aren’t so ugly for the Reputation Projects as they are for Fleet Projects, but that’s because the Fleet Projects are meant to be done by an entire Fleet, while the Reputation Projects are single character.  And this wasn’t all that different from, say, faction grinding over in World of Warcraft, for example.  As you got higher in Reputation with a faction-which, at this time, includes Omega (Borg), Romulan, Nukara (Tholian), Dyson (Voth), and Counter-Command (Undine).  I’ll leave out the special Event Reputation at the moment, since that’s a different sort of grind and isn’t impacted by recent changes.

The Repuation Project screen

The Repuation Project screen

Now, each of these Reputations have various tiers.  Originally, as you completed each tier, you opened up the ability to purchase specialized equipment (for Dilithium, naturally), or start a new project that created even more specialized equipment (like starship equipment sets), which cost Dilithium and more.  Also available upon finishing a tier was the choice between two passive abilities; depending on the tier, it would be two space traits or two ground traits.  The top tier was a special one, though, because it opened up a new active power you could use.

Mathematically, you can see where this is going.  For each reputation, you would get four special traits and a new power.  Going on as things have, you could conceivably have 20 new traits, 10 each of ground and space, and 5 active abilities.  (Okay, technically 16 and 4, because the Counter-Command Rep came about with the changes in place.)  And each new Reputation added-and there will be more, because the devs love adding Reputations like mice love cheese-you would be getting four new traits, and a new active ability.  To say that this might be unbalancing probably doesn’t do it justice.

So the devs decided to do something about it.  It’s worth noting that in another game, Cryptic did something similar once, which really drove the players bats.  They called it the Global Defense Nerf, in City of Heroes, because the Defense traits were just TOO good.  But it made a lot of people very unhappy, and I understand that there was a definite migration of people out of the game at that time.  (It was before my time in CoH, so I never knew life before it.)  I don’t know that this is on the same scale, but it’s hard to see it as anything but a nerf-but at the same time, it’s made things more…interesting.

The Change

The Change

Now, instead of having all those traits as passives, you have to choose which ones are actually active.  In other words:  where you might’ve had sixteen traits to work with, you now have eight:  four space traits, four ground traits.  For active powers, you can choose to have four active; no real change there, since there were only four active traits until the new publish with these changes which adds a fifth.  (The screen above shows the “regular” traits that were revamped a ways back, and don’t really enter into this post.)

Any way you look at it, that’s a pretty hefty nerf.  But things get a little more interesting, though; after all, if that was all the devs did, it would be pretty hard to motivate anyone to do any more Rep grinds.  So what they have done is eliminate the choice:  where before you had to choose one trait from two choices per tier, you now have access to both.  And you can swap out traits for free-so instead of having sixteen passives, for example, you have a pool of sixteen traits of which you can select the eight best suited for your current needs:  four for space, four for ground.  So you’ve received flexibility to compensate for power.

Is it a good tradeoff?  That’s a good question.  After the initial uproar about it on the forums, I don’t see nearly as much posts about it.  It’s possible that people have accepted that an ever-increasing number of passive traits active all at once wouldn’t be good for the game; it’s also possible that they’ve found something else to be angry about (STO excels at that sort of thing).  I’m not entirely sure that it’s done the Reputation system much good, though; I’ve found myself less motivated to do the Counter-Command rep since a) there doesn’t seem to be any story behind it like the Romulan and Dyson reps as you achieve each tier, b) I’m not horribly impressed with the traits that I’d replace the ones I’ve got active now with the new ones, and c) the top tier doesn’t have much to motivate me.  The second one is the biggest obstacle for the Reputation system, going forward:  if the traits aren’t as good or better than the ones available from previous Reputations, why would someone bother putting in the effort for it.  The equipment offered during the Reputations will have similar issues:  if they aren’t better, or suit a specific playstyle, why would someone bother with it?

The dev rationale for all of these changes was to curb the power-creep (at least keep it from being worse than it is with their constant lottery-ship releases-guess they want you to pay for power-creep).  But I feel that this will only cause the power-creep to adapt, because players won’t do something in the game if they don’t see any benefit to their characters for it.  If existing stuff is better than the new stuff, and there’s nothing else to it, why bother?  And so the power-creep will continue…just in a new form.

It’s Not The Fall That Kills You…

One of the things I like to do when developing characters in MMOs is to go against type.  Star Wars: The Old Republic is an area that’s ripe for that sort of thing.  When I played my Imperial Agent, I didn’t make him a monster, but also didn’t make him entirely a “yes-man” to the Sith.  (To be fair, I think a lot of players probably went that way with Agents.)  When I played my Sith Warrior, I had him mostly wind up Light Side instead of Dark Side; my view was a guy who just didn’t work with the idea of “there is no emotion” while he was bang-up for “there is no peace-there is only passion”.

But, y’know, the fact is…it really should go the other way, too.  But it hasn’t.  My Jedi Knight was everything you’d figure a Jedi would be; my Smuggler was the soft touch, even if he did tend to be on the greedy side.  Even my Trooper was the noble soldier, defying orders if he saw a better way to save lives.  I haven’t really played against type there.

So I started looking at the last character whose class story I haven’t advanced:  the Jedi Counselor.  And I thought to myself, “Wouldn’t this be an interesting class to go through a Fall From Grace?  Why not have this guy fall to the Dark Side-and revel in it?”

He's certainly dressing the part....

He’s certainly dressing the part….

Because I wanted to get a little bit away from straight-human characters, I went with a Miralukan character for my Counselor.  This way, I can unlock another species when I go on my inevitable “2nd Advanced Class Spree”.  (I’ve already unlocked Cyborg, Chiss, Twi’lek, and Zabrak.)  And so far, I’ve played him straight-well, mostly.  I’ve made a few Dark Side choices so far, but relatively minor ones-nothing that really causes real issues.  The key phrase, of course, is “so far”.  I’m currently dealing with his Chapter One storyline on Alderaan, but I’m watching and waiting for something that seems like a good spot for him to just…snap.  I almost did it on Tatooine, but I figured that rescuing a native’s “Loved Ones” would be a really wacky thing to have him slip to the Dark Side; if I were doing this as a comedy, sure, but not for this.  Players familiar with the stories on Tatooine Republic-side will probably know exactly the mission I mean.

It’s inevitable that sooner or later, my character will encounter a situation where he will have to make a choice between Light and Dark, and I figure it’ll happen reasonably soon-if he gets past Chapter One without hitting my mental trigger, I’ll be surprised.  Once that happens, I’ll finally start to see what happens when one of the nominal “good guys” of the Old Republic’s story decides that the Jedi Code is for suckers.  How dark can he get?  We’ll find out pretty soon.

On an unrelated note, I ran my Smuggler through two new Flashpoints recently-the first part of the “big storyline” that will go throughout the year.  Personally, I think that this is a mistake, in a way; feels too impersonal as group content to advance the game’s story (which features hard hits to the worlds of Tython and Korriban, the starter worlds for Jedi and Sith).  Still, they were pretty fun as far as combats go, and I freely admit I did them solely to get the HK customization-although I’d have really liked to get the Imperial version for an Imperial character, because I like its look better than the Republic one.  Oh well.  I’d sort of like to run my Operative through the Flashpoints, too, but I’ve felt for a long time that his survivability was iffy even in better circumstances; I might wind up looking at one of my other Imperials to do them at some point.


I never thought I’d be arguing this case.  In fact, I’ve often argued the exact opposite.  But recently I’ve been doing some thinking, and I’ve come around to the other side of the argument.  The argument involves the eternal question in Star Trek Online:  why not a top-tier Constitution-class cruiser?

Before I get started, a caveat:  the license holder, CBS, said no.  Ultimately, that trumps any argument a fan of the game can make.  I’m not out to convince anyone to actually do the deed; that ship has sailed unless/until the decision makers higher up the food chain agree.  What I want to do is put down my thoughts on the subject, including blowing holes in my own arguments from the past.

Shall we begin?

Let’s start this with a minor history lesson.  Once upon a time, the ship tiers were pure.  This would be, “when the game began”.  You started out in a Miranda-class light cruiser (or if you were one of the ones with certain pre-orders, an Original Series version of the Constitution), at the Lieutenant level.  Made sense-you were newly promoted to the position via battlefield commission, and you were hardly going to be given a ship of the line right off the bat.  As you advanced in rank, new ships became available to the player.  The Lieutenant Commander tier held the Constitution class, which was pretty respectable for the level (and if you were willing to go nuts like I had, could even get through the Commander level missions at that time; of course, I imagine it’s even easier now).  That tier also opened up the various styles of ship:  tactical escorts and science ships as well as the cruisers.  At Commander, you moved beyond the Constitution and its contemporaries to the ships like the Stargazer class (based on the ship Picard commanded before he got that OTHER significant Starfleet ship).  Finally, at Captain, you got access to the Next Generation era biggies:  the Galaxy, the Defiant, and the Intrepid, the headliner ships of TNG, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager.  (Okay, not “finally”; you could get to the Rear Admiral level at the time and access the Sovereign-class ship and other newer styles; the Sov, of course, being the class of the Enterprise-E.)

So we had a progression.  And naturally, fans of the individual ships started screaming the day the tiers were announced.  I won’t go into detail on the shouts the Akira-class fans went into when they found out their ship was under the Defiant in tier, or the Galaxy-class ones who insisted they should be at the top tier.  And even as far back as this period, there were people who wanted the Constitution-class at the top tier as well.  At the time, I shook my head and dismissed them.  Of course, I’m not a fortune-teller; I couldn’t see what was coming.

What I didn’t anticipate was that Cryptic/Atari would start putting ships on the C-Store.  And two of the earliest offerings laid the groundwork for future arguments.  First came the Excelsior-class ship.  This kicked the hell out of the tier system, because they offered two versions.  One version was the Commander version (which made a certain amount of sense; the Excelsior was supposed to eventually replace the Constitution, and apparently had, as it showed up in a number of early TNG episodes).  But the second version was a top-tier version, which matched the most advanced ships in the fleet-and was superior to many.  The second was the Vulcan D’kyr science vessel, a ship that was also at the Rear Admiral level; the kicker on this one is that this ship was based on the ones seen on the show “Enterprise”-which took place decades before TOS.  In other words, one of the oldest ship designs was a match for the newest science ships in the fleet.

Eventually, the whole retrofit/refit thing became an ongoing thing.  We got top tier Galaxy variants along with the Defiant and Intrepid versions.  Another old ENT design came into play with the Andorian Kumari-and this one was released as a “three-pack”, three different variants with the same basic appearance.  During one feature episode period, we even got a top tier Ambassador-class, the type of ship that included the Enterprise-C.

Which brings me back to the Constitution-class.

From a lore standpoint, there’s no reason it can’t serve as a top-tier ship.  You can’t point to its age; the Kumari and D’Kyr put lie to that.  If they can be upgraded to top-tier technologies, the Constitution should also be doable-even easier, one would expect, since at least it’s been using Starfleet designs instead of planetary militia designs.  You can’t say it’s because it’s too small; it’s larger than the Defiant-class, which operates at a top-tier level.  So age and size have been ruled out.  From a game standpoint, there’s no reason it can’t serve as a top-tier ship.  An upgrade would probably include a special console of some kind (because just about every new ship has one nowadays; maybe something to buff warp cores?  Dunno; I’m not going to speculate), an increase in bridge officers and type (based off of Engineering, since cruisers go that way) and an increase in consoles, and that would pretty much take you where you want to go.  And in a game where you have Jem’Hadar, Cardassian, Undine, Tholian, and even Temporal vessels available via lockboxes-which effectively means the galaxy is littered with them-it’s silly to say that all of those are acceptable, but a top-tier Constitution is not.

It’s all moot, of course.  As I’ve said above, there are reasons beyond the lore and the game development side of things that prevent this from becoming real.  The dangers of licensing an intellectual property is that the license holder gets the final word on things.  It’s one of the reasons why we don’t have a Star Wars Galaxies anymore (well, in part, anyway; the NGE helped), and that’s why we don’t see a top-tier Constitution vessel in the game.  Someday, perhaps, one of the business people over there will decide, “Hey, we can rake in cash from those TOS fans if we put it in a lockbox” or some abomination like that, and that’ll override any feelings of keeping the IP pure.  But hey:  its purity went to hell when we got top-tier Excelsiors and D’Kyrs, so why not?

Blown Away

It had been in the game since Day One, and I had never done it before.

It’s a fixture on the world of Tatooine in the setting of Star Wars: The Old Republic.  It hangs in the sky, slowly traversing the areas around the Jundland Wastes and the Dune Sea-a Jawa balloon.  You see it, and wonder what the view must be like from way up there.  Then you hear that there is a place where you can get on board, and if you stick with it, it will take you to a pair of datacrons-one that will increase your Strength stat, and one that will give you a matrix shard (which has its own unique attributes when combined with others).

But I never got around to actually doing the research and taking the ride.  Too busy leveling, too busy seeing the various class stories or accumulating credits or trying other stuff.  But finally, very recently, I decided to make the time.

On Approach

On Approach

The embarkation point is in the southwestern part of the Dune Sea, upon a sandcrawler-which is ironic, since the destination is also a sandcrawler.  Jawas need to take better care of their transports-but then, as scavengers, I suppose that it should be considered a miracle they operate as well as they do.  For this journey, I chose my Jedi Knight-I figured if I was going to get access to a Strength boost, I might as well use someone who will actually benefit from it.  So it was going to be him or my Sith Warrior, and I was in a Jedi frame of mind, since I had been doing work on my Jedi Counselor.

The whole circuit of the balloon is a time-consuming thing; I think I read that it takes about 40 minutes for a round trip.  That’s not exactly an insignificant amount of time.  So I sat and waited.  I had the bad luck of arriving not long after it had begun its cycle, so I kicked back and ran my companions through lots and lots of crafting.  An Imperial Agent showed up at one point, but after a while, he decided to log out, which was a pity since the balloon returned to sight on its approach a few minutes later.  The balloon came up slowly, painfully slowly, and as it seemed like it was about to reach the sandcrawler-it vanished!

That was a wee bit irritating.  I did some reading, and it seems there’s a bug that occasionally vanishes the balloon.  So that was it for the grand attempt.

Until my next one.  I logged at the sandcrawler, so I wouldn’t have to run back when I made the second attempt.  This attempt was better in every possible way.  I was already in position, for starters.  Secondly, the balloon was already on approach when I logged in.  And most importantly-it didn’t disappear.  As it got to its closest point, I hopped in.  (I could’ve waited-it actually paused for embarkation.  I didn’t expect that.)

And then off to the races!  Well, metaphorically speaking:  the balloon is not exactly the speediest way of travel.  But the view is pretty good, and I had a great deal of fun taking screenshots of the distant vistas.  I was surprised, however, that the trip stayed in the Dune Sea-this heavily implied that the balloon I saw in the Jundland Wastes was not the same as the one I was riding.  I’ve no idea of that one can take passengers, but it’s worth poking around to see one day….

Cruising on along.

Cruising on along.

Finally, after about twenty-ish minutes, the second sandcrawler was in sight.  From reading about the datacrons, I knew that I’d have to jump off of the balloon and down to the ‘crawler, and hope I didn’t miss.  And of course, the speed of the balloon, being as slow as it was, tended to add to the tension.  If I messed up, it would be a long, long, long wait to try again.  (Well, okay, effectively forty minutes; but all things considered…)

I didn’t miss.  And I got to the datacrons.  And I could scratch another line off the list of things I wanted to do in TOR.

Saying goodbye.

Saying goodbye.

Every Action Has A Reaction

Time for a thrilling story of actions and consequences in EVE Online!

I’d mentioned previously that one of my longer term goals was to pick up a Sisters of EVE Stratios cruiser; it’s an exploration type of cruiser, and as that’s the sort of thing I want to mess around with more, I’d had that on my list of long term plans.  While originally I ran a bunch of Sisters of EVE missions to get enough Loyalty Points to purchase one, I came to the conclusion that I was far more likely to have earned the cash to buy one off the market outright before I got enough LPs.

So you’d think that would be a reason to stop running the SOE missions, right?  Well, not quite.  See, I realized that in the process of doing this, I was gaining in standings with them, and having a high standing with them would eventually allow me to create a Jump Clone; for the uninitiated, this would be a clone of my character that I could “jump” my consciousness to, no matter where it happened to be at a given time.  There’s a cooldown-a day, maybe less if you train up a skill, but it’s close enough to a day that I’ll stick with that.  But this could allow a guy to, for example, have a clone in the trade system of Jita, and jump to a new one all the way to null-sec space.  It also allows you to be a bit more free with risky behavior, because your “main” clone probably has all those implants giving all kinds of bonuses you’d hate to lose if, say, you wandered into low-sec space and got blown up.  Jump clones are clean, so they don’t have any implants to lose (well, unless you put them in).  You can have more than one of these, too, based on training up a skill to allow it.  Still only one transfer a day, though.

Okay, so that’s the backstory.

I’d mentioned in the comments of a recent post that I didn’t quite have the skills to handle a Level 4 mission for the Sisters.  I had the ship-

-Let me interrupt myself for a minute.  I’d done the drone battleship thing with an alternate character, and I decided that repeating myself-while comfortable-wasn’t the way to go.  So I picked up a Gallente Megathron battleship.  This is a ship meant to shoot stuff.  I slapped on a bunch of long-range railguns, fitted it with a pretty decent tank; at least for tech 1 equipment.  That was a big deal; I was still skilling up what I’d need to fly competently, much less fit tech 2 equipment (which is a significant jump in…well, everything).  So the key here was “disposable”-

-but I was still in the process of getting the character set with the support skills to make it work.  Now, every sixteen missions or thereabouts, an agent offers a “storyline mission”; this is a big deal, because that gives factional approval instead of corporation approval.  The SOE is a corporation in the Servant Sisters of Eve.  If I gain faction with the SSOE, I gain a jump for the SOE.  Blowing this mission, though, can give a hit to the factional standings, and thus to the corporate standings.  Now, I’d been doing distribution missions, which tended to be “haul this somewhere”.  But this storyline mission was a level 4 combat mission.  Well, this was what I’d been preparing for; with visions of moving closer to the magic standing number to make jump clones, I delayed the mission, hoping to buy more time-I still couldn’t load up the large turrets on the Mega yet.  Then I bought more time by accepting the mission some days later; my training time would get me to where I needed to be by the end date, and I didn’t care about the bonus reward anyway.

Heading on a date...with DESTINY!!

Heading on a date…with DESTINY!!

The day came, and I set out in my Megathron to destiny!  Destiny, however, isn’t necessarily a good thing.  The good news:  my ship didn’t die.  The mission killed some of my strategies immediately; my intent was to blow up battleships at long range, while cruisers and frigates that got close would be taken out by my drones.  But the mission included a constant pulse of damage that more or less demolished drones, which meant I was in serious trouble.  I had to rely on distance and my guns to deal with the small fry, which was no easy task.  Then came the battleships.

Mistake One:  flying a Gallente ship, and going off of Gallente bonuses for that ship, I tended to use hybrid turrets.  Hybrid turrets deal thermal and kinetic damage (the amount varying on ammo type).  The targets didn’t have a particular weakness for that damage type.  So I wasn’t exactly applying strength to weakness.  My armor, on the other hand, was set to deal with what they could dish out-so as long as my capacitor didn’t drain dry, survival wouldn’t really be an issue-as long as I bugged out when it did.  Hit and run tactics are certainly viable, especially if you need to work with range.  Maybe I should’ve loaded up energy turrets instead-but I’m not sure how much of a hit I’d have taken using those (plus, y’know, I’d have to train up large energy turrets…).  Mistake Two:  ammo type matters, too.  I was using Iridium charges, which had the benefit of having range bonuses, at the cost of lower damage.  The fun part:  the range exceeded my targeting range.  I probably could have put in ammo that had a range penalty and been able to still hit the targets, and get more damage out of it too.  That’s what inexperience will do for you.

Still, I did manage after a long bout of hit and run, to wipe out the defenders of my target!  At last, I rubbed my hands together, aimed the guns, and opened fire.

Then another wave of battleships appeared to defend it.

I looked at the numbers.  Looked at my clock, and figured how much time I had left that evening.  Looked at how much damage I’d inflicted on my target-not much at all-and shrugged.  It had been a nice try-maybe I just wasn’t prepared yet.  Maybe another week or two of training would’ve done good-or longer to get some of the tech 2 gear fit.  Reluctantly but firmly, I quit the mission.

And my standings went right through the floor.  My SSOE standings went from “Good” to “Bad” in no time.  My SOE standings took such a hard hit that I had gone from being able to approach level 4 mission agents to barely being able to do level 2 mission agents.  The only bright spot to it all was that the agent I’d been using-the one whose missions had opened up that storyline mission-was still hanging on at giving me level 4 missions.  But the standing hit was so bad that I couldn’t see how I could stand putting all the effort into getting back to where I was in standings, much less pushing to get jump clones.

Note to self:  never accept a storyline mission you don’t think you can finish.  Ever.

Harsh lesson, but EVE is a harsh place.  I slunk back to my normal area of space and started running missions for the Gallente Federation Navy, since mission agents are plentiful and it would give me more time to learn how to use the Mega-and more time to train up skills to do better stuff with it.  And of course, combat missions DO tend to pay better, which isn’t exactly something to ignore.

There is a happy ending to this, of sorts, though.  Recently I headed back to the SOE agent (mainly because I’d left my hauler in that station), and ran a couple of courier missions just to kill time.  To my shock, after the second one I got offered another storyline mission!  I realized that I must have spent so much time running regular missions between when I was offered the last one and when I actually did it that these two runs had opened up a new storyline mission.  And better yet, it was a courier mission!  So I had my hauler make a couple of trips with a whole lot of cargo and finished that mission, and the standings gain very nearly put me back to where I was before the disaster-and suddenly, SOE looks like a decent prospect at pushing to jump clone standings after all.  So now I run the distro missions for SOE until I get a mission that sends me to places I really don’t plan to go in a tech 1 Industrial; then I head back and do the Fed Navy stuff for fun and profit.  It’ll be amusing to see which one gets me to the standings needed to start cranking out jump clones first.

EVE Online is a setting where choices have consequences; but sometimes, even if you make a wrong choice, you can still turn it around-even if it’s just by accident.