Thursday, February 10, 2011

Let Me Count the Ways

For instance, on the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much—the wheel, New York, wars and so on—whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man—for precisely the same reasons.
--Douglas Adams

I don't make any attempts to hide the fact that I despise nullsec.  Everything about its play style is anathema to the way I approach EVE.  Now, I'm sure that some of you reading this may have a very different opinion of 0.0 space.  So please, allow me to illustrate where my distaste comes from.

For those of you who would like a look at some of the method behind the madness of this blog, allow me to explain the process.

1.  I have a concept I'd like to post about, or a story I want to tell.

2.  Based on the idea in my head, I come up with a title for the blog post.

3.  I then begin typing.

4.  I run out of things to type.

5.  I save my post as a draft and then go about my day.

6  Sometime after I've slept, I come back and re-read what I've wrote making edits to infuse more awesome.

7.  I search the internet for a quote from Douglas Adams that matches some part of the blog.

8.  I schedule the post for the next Monday/Thursday that needs a post, or in rare instances post it immediately.

Why am I telling you this?  Because this post didn't follow that formula.  It derailed at step 7, when the quote I found influenced what I wanted to say.  This caused me to go back to step 6.  It leads us into the following introduction to this post, which was originally much shorter.  Enjoy.

I really think the page quote captures an idea about the dynamic between lowsec and nullsec in EVE Online that had been rattling around in my head, but I didn't quite know how to voice.  I've seen plenty of people argue from both sides.  It's sort of the grass is always greener on your own side of the fence.  I've seen people argue that 400 man fleets are real PvP and others argue that the only real PvP is solo or small gang.  I feel like I've had a sort of epiphany in seeing the nullsec alliances as those saying, "Look at all the wonderful meaningful things we've done while all you do is muck about in lowsec," while the Pirates are the Dolphins just in it for the fun.  We've both got a valid point, just differing points of view.  So, without further ado, I bring you what I was originally going to post about...

My first journey into 0.0 is something I will never forgot.  It lasted about 2 seconds and was over before I knew it.  Sounds like some other firsts, but I digress.  I was maybe a week old at the time, but had been told how scary everything beyond highsec was, but just had to see it for myself.  I was based out of Torrinos at the time, and what easier way to see if 0.0 was really as dangerous as they said it was than to pass through the Torrinos-EC gate.

Now, this wasn't quite as dumb as it sounds at first.  I was only taking a Rookie ship to see how far I could get.  Although, I certainly expected to get at least a little farther than I did.  The camp that I jumped into had jet cans spread at regular intervals around the gate ensuring anything that came through instantly decloaked and received a healthy dose of gate lag as it tried to load the grid.  I realize now that the second part of that technique may constitute a petitionable game exploit, but I didn't know that at the time and all I lost was a Rookie Ship.  I never even got to see my screen load the system before I was back in my home station in a new clone though.  As it turns out, I don't think I was missing much.  I felt it only fitting to talk about the first time I ventured into nullsec before telling you about the most recent time I was there.

The Blood Money Cartel was getting settled into its new home in lowsec and had decided to go on a roam to familiarize everyone with some neighboring nullsec and see just how many intel channels we could show up on.  I normally don't tag along on our nullsec ops, but this one had no ship restrictions and so I thought I'd give it a go in my trusty Punisher.

Having spent a couple hours roaming through systems with names that looked like someone's cat had walked on their keyboard, we had come up with not a single target.  Deciding it was time to call it a night, we had already begun our approach back to lowsec space when we jumped through a gate only to find a Scimitar on the other side.  Taking a moment to receive intel from our scout that no one was in the next system, we were quick to bubble and open fire upon our first target of the night.  What our scout wasn't able to see was the fleet coming from the system we were just in.

I never even got within range of my Punisher's small turrets before local spiked from just our gang of a dozen or so ships to more than forty.  As soon as I saw the opposing gang arrive in local I started looking to get myself to the nearest celestial my fingers could find, but quickly found that our Phobos's warp disruption field was working a little too well.  About this time, the enemy gang began dropping cloaks all around us.  Setting course instead for the gate that I had just come through, I was lucky that no one bothers to primary the Punisher when more dangerous ships are on the field. Too bad it wouldn't matter.

As you can imagine, a frigate with a 400mm plate and an Afterburner isn't breaking any speed records anytime soon, but what was probably only twenty seconds or so felt like an eternity to get within jump range of the gate.  I couldn't help but breath a sigh of relief when I finally made it and hit the jump button.  My relief was short lived, however, when my ship didn't jump, but continued on its approach and bumped into the gate.  

I gave the jump command again, "Session change already in progress" came my reply.  OK...I hit it again.  And again.  And again. get the idea.  In all, I must have hit the jump button twenty times, each press met with the same annoying buzz and completely unhelpful message.  Finally giving up on the idea of jumping through, I noticed that our Phobos was no longer on the field.  When he left, I can't be sure, but with 40 ships on your overview it's hard to keep track of the ones that aren't trying to kill you.  

Giving the warp command, I watched as my ship began the slow process of aligning to a celestial.  I also watched as I finally did get primaried by the opposing fleet.  It's truly a disheartening sight to watch that many people start locking your ship all at once and knowing there's nothing you can do about it.  Comforting myself with the knowledge that there were no bubbles up around the gate, I started spamming the warp button hoping to get my pod away safely.  As my ship exploded, I expected to see my pod safely warping away.  Instead, my screen went black.

In those few seconds of darkness I had already managed to cycle completely through the Five Stages of Grief.  Denial, "This can't be happening to me."  Anger, "Those bastards killmail whoring a frigate!"  Bargaining, "What I wouldn't give to go back in time just five minutes..." Depression, "I can't believe I got podded."  Acceptance, "Oh well, it's only a game."  Then suddenly, I was introduced to a sixth stage: Confusion.

Namely, the confusion that surrounds being completely prepared to see your pod spinning in a station only to be looking at it cloaked on the other side of the gate you had given up on jumping through.  The confusion attached to why my pod suddenly decided to jump instead of warp and why my ship was incapable of doing the same thing.  Finally, the confusion of how the hell I, now separated from my gangmates by a fleet of 40 ships, was going to get back home.

It didn't take long before half of that opposing fleet had followed me into the system and spread out to camp every gate out of it, which brings me to another thing I don't like about nullsec.  I don't understand how people can be upset over a 15 minute GCC taking valuable time away from their game when you can effectively get trapped in a nullsec system.  I spent over 30 minutes waiting for that gang to give up on probing me down and about an hour to finally make it back to my home station in lowsec.  At least when you die in lowsec, but manage to escape in your pod, you're all but invulnerable while you pilot home.

I have no idea what happened that caused that strange jump behavior.  Lag?  Bug?  Screwy things happen when 40 people load a grid all at once?  Who knows; certainly not me.  I'll probably never know what caused it to happen, but I do know one thing.  Nothing remotely like it has ever happened to me in lowsec.  Perhaps it was a sign from the nullsec gods that I wasn't welcome there.  Well, nullsec gods, I can take a hint.  I won't be back for a very long time...




  1. Hmm, it doesn't sound like it was a case of the one minute aggression timer (basically if you shoot someone or apply ewar to someone it takes a full minute before you can go through a gate again) because it usually gives a message like "Due to your act of aggression..." 40 people on a grid is not unusual and normally wouldn't cause the behavior you are describing.

    I am surprised they bothered spending 30minutes to camp and probe a pod, probably bored.

    I wouldn't let two experiences sour you completely to 0.0 there are still good fights at reasonable numbers (small gang or solo) to be had especially in the NPC 0.0 regions; but if you have found a place to be happy (lowsec) and can get fights there, sounds like you are where you should be :)

  2. That message usually comes up when you get a lag spike as you're trying to jump out. The server decides you're jumping (which gives you a session change timer), but for some reason it hasn't actually processed the jump right away. For some reason it seems things can still happen to you (like your ship dying) when you're in this state, which makes no sense but that's Eve for you I guess. It's not something that's unique to nullsec, but large gangs appearing on grid (which happens a lot in nullsec) are usually a factor in causing it.

    On the topic of game mechanics, you can't actually be decloaked after going through a gate, no matter where enemy ships or cans are - you're both invisible and invulnerable for 1 minute as long as you don't do anything. The reason for the cans is usually to decloak covops etc who try to fly out of bubbles using their covert ops cloak.

    Your assessment of nullsec vs lowsec seems pretty sound - nullsec definitely has its downsides and as someone who likes small gang and solo I definitely feel those. The main reason I like nullsec though is that there are no gate guns, meaning frigates can actually tackle on gates and stations without being popped immediately by the guns. Since I fly frigates most of the time, this is a big advantage - suddenly you have a lot more options!

    As Aelana said, the npc nullsec regions tend to be much better than sov areas for this kind of stuff, although like anywhere levels of activity can vary. Regions like Syndicate and Great Wildlands tend to be good for smaller gangs, at least in my experience.