Friday, October 26, 2012

When death knocks on your door

It's often said that capsuleers don't like to get their hands dirty. Or at least not physically dirty. In fact, apparently, most spend little time outside of their pods, even less interacting with baseliners. If you could call this, 'interacting.' I guess I was the exception. I liked getting dirty, doing things myself. It made me feel... connected. Like the effort I was putting in wasn't wasted. I leaned back in focused at the task at hand.

My knife was performing admirably. Cutting, no, that implied more effort than I was expending. Slipping was much more fitting. Slipping between the thin layer of skin, and that of the muscle and fat. Who knew those hunting trips down on the surface of Pator all those years ago would teach me such valuable skills? Or that this knife would remain sharp after so many cuts?

Fresh blood welled on parts of the exposed muscle, providing a slight, sweat like sheen. Severed nerve endings must be pumping an overload of sensation back to their host, speaking of... I looked back up at his face.

My eyes met his, just then a nearly inaudible, but imploring, groan left his lips. He had long since screamed himself functionally mute, but the drugs I had pumping through his system kept him awake enough to feel everything. His breaths pushed small drips of blood from his mouth, his tongue swollen now, pressing against his ragged teeth.

I went back to work on his body, a bit impressed he had lasted this long, but not impressed by his other failings. 'He' was the captain of a merchant ship in Amarr space, 'he' had operated for me in the Sasen Constellation. 'He' wasn't a capsuleer or this torture would have been largely irrelevant, but 'he' HAD committed a cardinal sin.

It wasn't every simple, a while back, perhaps a year or more ago, he started working for someone else before leaving my employ. Trying to double down on profits I suppose. His mistake was working with the very people I was having him spy on. Some Angel Cartel slavers, the very people I was using him to keep an eye on. Sometimes watching Angels was easier when you weren't doing so from a pod. Compounding that mistake, he had gotten caught by the otherwise inept Amarr customs navy, loaded down with small arms I was supplying certain cells on certain planets with, and a contraband load of slaves.

I didn't blame him for singing like a bird to the local authorities after his capture, singing a sweet deal indeed. I suppose he didn't think he would ever be found again, or he just hoped he would not. His real sin was singing a tune that revealed a well placed cell of anarchists. Endangering several more I had set in place years ago. Most of their number had been captured and lost to the Amarr system, likely never to be seen again.

It had taken a bit of asking around, sometimes more aggressively than others, but eventually Jasper, now in attendance, had been uncovered. Hours ago I watched the surprise cross his face, when he stepped out into his kitchen, surprised to find the Amarr guards, gone.

His face had gone from surprise to fear fairly quickly when I stepped towards him, probably some lingering childhood fears about a Bhaalgorn. I could almost detect a moment of relief when he saw my face in the deep hood and not that of a demon. His relief was short lived, I suppose, but it had been there all the same.

Now it was all winding down. I had some information I hadn't really asked for that had made this little trip more profitable than I expected. I'd anonymously tip the footage to some news outlets, maybe the local police. I hadn't looked at the feed since I started. Nor would I as I left. My face would not show, a small holographic inlay would present a black hole on the footage where my face would have been.

I barely heard him speak, his raspy voice still somehow triumphant, but it was as if the words he said locked my body in place while kicking my mind kicked into overdrive.

"Layette Friary."

It was a name, one I had been avoiding since an incident near a year and a half ago. I was never able to get any information about that name from the assassin who had muttered it with his dying breath. I had changed operational locations because of that name. Changed contacts, not to mention burned still more contacts and operatives in an attempt to kill a man. THAT little fiasco had led to me seeing my sister through a sniper's scope at the same time I saw the man I had until then, been determined to kill, and their child.

I looked up again, but a small, bloody smile was all that greeted me. Jasper, was gone. Rage boiled up inside me, much deeper rage than the loss of a cell, no matter how well placed. I wanted to drive my fist through Jasper's chest, to stomp in impotent fury, assault his body with my knife, or better yet my bare hands, instead I stood there a moment, feeling defeat wash over me, a stark contrast to Jasper, who's skin was hanging off his body like stretched red rags.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Ahhh CW1, I knew you so well!

CCP just put out a new dev blog on the CW2 system aka the new Crime Watch system for Eve online, and boy will it be a welcome change. The notifications alone for WHAT you are flagged for will be a big and nice change for me.

Let's dive in a bit and give my take on the changes.

I'll get to logistics and neutral repping last because that is something I want to be sure I am interpreting correctly.

  • Bunch of new flag states... PvP flag, agression flag, Weapons flag, Legality flag (both Suspect and criminal), NPC flag (for shooting at NPC's and the like). A full chart of the flags and how they can be incurred is here.
  • most flags will be active for 15 minutes and will make specific things happen. Detailed here
Now here's some of the more nitty-gritty changes that will really shake things up.
  1. Shooting at NPC's will result in a 'NPC flag,' that will be active for 15 minutes after the last time you shot a NPC. Now this flag means that you will stay in space until the flag runs to zero if you log off. Just logging off to avoid getting killed by a roaming fleet or solo roamer isn't viable in nullsec or lowsec given fleets bring probes. I expect that probe ships will be mandatory fleet accompaniment again. Go-Go scanning skills. Also cloakies will be preferred again for nullsec NPC bears... that is if they ever went out of style, substitute one button click for another, but might give everyone a chance to get a few more kills if NPC's are aggroed on the NPCer, maybe even scramming them. A roamer might be able to lock em down before they can warp out and cloak... okay okay, it's a pipe-dream, but the small possibility of hope remains.
  2. Kill rights are somehow going to extend into the new bounty system, so I look forward to reading that. Coming soon(tm). Kill rights will generate from killing people illegally (ie not flagged people, currently called piracy) in lowsec.
  3. Can-flagging and container stealing with now give a global PvP flag instead of just to the person you are stealing from, both eliminating it as a form of 1v1's but ALSO nerfing the current form of can to can transfer traps, can baiting, and loot stealing since now anyone will be able to come kill you instead of just the involved party or corp. Still, expecting people to come to your rescue in a mission will be a small hope. Just there is now a way for people to plead for help.
  4. Only a 'Suspect flag' is given to ships attacking other ships in lowsec, instead of the broader reaching 'Criminal flag.' Suspect flag doesn't spawn CONCORD in highsec so you could jump into highsec with a suspect flag and be flagged for combat to everyone, but no CONCORDDOKEN!
  5. RR to a pirate in lowsec outside of combat won't be flagged, or rather will not transfer the combat flags, so no more having to wait 15 minutes to start repairing damage with your logi's in a safe spot or between fights, if you want to keep your logi unflagged.
  6. Sec status losses will be front loaded, meaning when you engage you get the entire sec loss for the fight, not sure how this is going to work for ship aggression vs ship kill sec loss?
  7. Criminal flag will only be granted vs pods, making killing pods an even bigger drawback as the criminal flag makes gate guns and police engage you for the entire 15 minute span. As an RP side note, funny that killing a single capsuleer pod, and the actual capsuleer survives with more or less no "harm" is punished harsher than killing the crew members of the ship that capsuleer was just flying.
  8. Neutral RR - According to all the charts, Neutral RR will get all the associated flags of the fellows they are helping in a combat situation, including what we would currently call "agression" preventing them from simply docking up at the first sign of trouble, or jumping out. When logi-chaining they will not be getting agression off their cap buddy, unless they are using combat drones or otherwise PvP flagged. Not-so giant nerf to neutral RR, as it is not clear if the PvP flags them make it possible for other people to engage the reppers or how that transfer of agression will work. To explain the lack of clarity let me expound a bit. Say wartarget A is engaging your buddy and losing, then neutral alt of wartarget A pops out of the station in a nice squishy t1 revamped logi cruiser and starts repping wartarget A... Theres no indication of if that person will then be flagged to the corp like they are involved in the war, as it currently works, only that they will be unable to dock back up. A clarification that I imagine CCP will be short in answering.
  9. There's no clarification of what flag you will get if you are -10.0 in lowsec, if it's the suspect flag then you can run into Empire and not get shot at by gate guns, but just by every player who wants some. If it is the Criminal flag then gate guns will engage you everywhere you go... I think the Suspect flag would be more appropriate, but also could be gamed by pirates to prey in highsec more often.
All in all the changes makes sense(to me), even though there are not much of a 'change' more of a redefining into a new system trying to keep as much intact as possible. I am really looking forward to being able to see some of the currently only implied flags. Lots of new pop-ups that's for sure...

Monday, October 1, 2012

Breaking news : Ancillary Shield boosters causing uncounted crew deaths

"... And this just in. On call we have a Professor of applied shielding and engineering at the School of Applied Knowledge, as well  as a crew member from a Caldari Merlin Frigate piloted by an undisclosed capsuleer." Both men nod, the professor's circular glasses glinting in a in the reflected studio lights. The crewman looks around a bit nervously, the light glinting off a deep puckered scar along his cheek. The Anchor turns to the audience, smiling and steeping his fingers. "To get you caught up, it appears the despite all the so-called safety precautions deployed with newer systems into the," he raises his hands, quoting, " exclusive capsuleer market, there still remains some defects." He lowers his hands, turning back to regard the two men to his right.

"Now, reports are coming in from various crews that the new module line called," He consults his notes for a second before looking back up. "The Ancillary Shield booster or, in capsuleer slang, the 'ASB,' class of shield repair systems, are not working as intended and have been the root cause for more than one crew death since they have been used, over the last few months."

The Professor couldn't keep his silence and burst into the conversation, his slightly nasal voice fitting his scholarly look perfectly. "These are nothing but rumors. These modules are used on a day to day basis elsewhere, besides on capsuleer ships. They operate well within normal parameters even under extreme stress. Their effectiveness has been proven time and again even with their short deployment time. It's not like we just released these modules without testing them." His fingers tapped a staccato beat into the wooden desk of the Anchor, staring intently out at the camera's. Apparently completely oblivious to the crewman's growing agitation next to him.

The anchor nodded, continuing, "Well apparently these modules aren't as reliable as you make out. For instance, just this past week, we received this video from an anonymous source. This is from another capsuleer Merlin frigate, apparently fit with not one but two of the ASB modules." The video feed cuts to the inside of the frigate, a single man hunched over the control console of the ASB, while warning alarms went off through the ship, the faint sound of discharging blasters color the scene. The Anchor continues, in voice overlay of the video. The Professor tries to interject a few times but is muted out over the voice overlay, his instance that even fitting 8 ASB wouldn't cause a catastrophic falure, left unheard.

"The ship was apparently under attack by an Enyo class Gallente frigate" The Anchor's voice sneers out the name of the Gallente ship, doesn't attempt to keep his opinion of that race silent. "Now the interesting part is coming up, apparently the Merlin's two ASB, seen in to the right of the engineer were set into overload by the capsuleer in a defiant attempt to keep his ship alive." Previously inactive circuits light up on the screen to the right of the engineer, his back to the video stream. The capsuleer commands overrode the safety parameters of the ship, squeezing out a few more precent from each booster.

"Now everything seems to be okay, but if you look at the lower right side of the engineer..." A small yellow box highlights a power transformer built into each ASB that moves the power between the loaded capacitor boosters and the shield boosting device. "The transfer bus operating under the strain will begin to show signs of wear." Both transfer bus appear to heat, with small lightning like arcs connecting with the floor close to the engineer. The Engineer spins around to see the module begin to fail. "Now here is where we see catastrophic failure in both modules, quite frankly the following scene is not pretty, please pay attention."

The module bursts, shooting shrapnel through the compartment, several pieces hitting, passing through, the already retreating Engineer, arcs of electricity following in their wake as the cap charges continue to discharge into the interior of the room. The arcs catch the engineer just above his rib cage, sending him flying to into a nearby chair, toppling it. The Engineer tries to push himself up, a black scorch mark the size of a fist on his chest. His other wounds are bleeding now, turning his uniform red. He collapses, just as other crew charge into the now dead quiet room. The video cuts as the other crew reach him...

The Professor has gone a whole new shade of sickly greeny pale at the grisly images. His mouth working soundlessly as he attempts to process the information, refute it somehow. The crewman leans forward, his face red with anger, nodding, looking away from the feed. "That's not even a bad overload. These modules are rated to be used in overload settings for quite some time before burning out and everything the manuals say indicates they will burn out to an inoperable state just like the rest of the modules that those eggers can use." His voice raising as he talks, overcoming his fear of speaking. "Not just EXPLODE because they are under some stress." He looks at the camera, his eyes red and partly tear filled, his story coming out in a quick burst. "I was on a Maelstrom down in Molden Heath, when our dual X-Large ASB's failed the resultant explosion killed 9 people including the engineer and disabled other critical systems." He trails off, his haunted eyes re-living the carnage. "I wasn't able to get clear either, I lost a chunk of my left leg and" His hands move up to the scar on his face. "And this, for my service." He shakes his head, looking down.

The Anchor saw his chance and took it. "Now if I'm not mistaken CONCORD and the manufacturers are supposed to set the safety limits on new devices, pass basic and advanced load testing to make sure things like this don't happen on our ships let alone capsuleer ships..." The Engineer glared at the anchor, knowing he was getting baited, but unable to stop his reply.

"Yeah fat lot of good those bastards are doing. These modules are killing people all the time, capsuleers don't care and the manufacturers always blame the engineers for some faulty process!" The crewman's knuckles are white, gripping his knee's. "It's utter bullshit, these things are dangerous, we inspected our ASB upon delivery, and even the chief engineer didn't like how they looked. Their construction is set in a way to maximize the power gained from each charge, but at the expense of crew safety in every way." He was shouting at the end, leaning forward towards the Anchor who just sat there with the same mute smile on his lips. "They have no shunt to safely ground failures, and in the case of an emergency, they have no power overrides or shut downs built in. These things would reduce the effectiveness of each module, and it's not like the capsuleers want that! Hell they double up on the modules, flipping them both on at the same time, doubling their inductance issues, it's no WONDER they explode!"

The Anchor interrupts, being sent new information via the teleprompter. "It seems as if these modules are still undergoing CONCORD testing, and they are finding some of the same problems, including catastrophic failures." The Professor is leaning back in his chair now, watching the conversation with some interest. A new graphic fills the screen showing a percent chance the modules critically fail with testing being done by CONCORD, the percent is 3%. The Anchor leans forward more, capturing the attention of the audience as the camera switches back to him, focused now so the Crewman and professor can't be seen in the shot. "CONCORD estimates they will have a fix in line by sometime around December this year, that's more than 2 months from now! How many more lives will be lost to these modules in the meantime?" The camera shifts quickly over to the crewman as he surges to his feet.

"I'm for damn sure not going to wait for those CONCORD fools to fix this for me. I'll never go back out on one of those damned capsuleer death-traps, I'd rather be a slave than killed by my own equipment! I'll stick to crewing a nice armor ship or a mining barge, somewhere that I can at least trust the ships equipment to run properly!"

The crewman looks poised to say more but the Anchor, upstaged, nods once and the feed cuts to a new starsi commercial. A small link appears beneath the commercial in the typical "would you like to know more style.

Would you like to know more? ((CCP is planning to nerf the ASB in the upcoming patch for winter, the provided link gives more information on the planned nerf.))