.Torchwood Archives
Torchwood Archives
24Nov/140

Welcome to EVE Online

It all started with a trailer

Last friday CCP published a new EVE Online trailer - one that was solely based on player comms. It's great and if you haven't seen it yet, I really recommend you do so now (please mind there are explicit words there)

If you are here because of that trailer, welcome! EVE Online is an amazing game with a huge world to explore, and multitude of things you can get involved with. The trailer is focused on player-versus-player combat, which is one of the most important features of EVE. But it's just one side of the medal. Where there is destruction, there must also be creation, like Yin and Yang, intertwined in an endless cycle of life.

Got an account yet?

Did you start your account yet? If not, you can use this link to create a 21-day free trial account (it's completely free of charge).

What should new players do in EVE once they start an account?

First off, familiarize yourself with the game and the interface. Do the initial tutorial. Once you're done with the tutorial, I really recommend you run at least some of the advanced tutorials called "Career Agents". These will show you some of the professions and game mechanics, once you've learned the basics. Remember: in EVE you are not bound or limited to any particular profession. If you like something, train the skills required and try it!

Skills in EVE are very much different from other games, because your character is training all the time, even when you are offline. There is also only five levels for each skill, which means that new players can quickly catch up with veteran players in a particular field. Yes, veteran players are experts at almost everything, but they don't use all their skills on a daily basis.

For combat-oriented pilots, the best place to start is Brave Newbies. It is an alliance in EVE Online, where newbies are not only welcome, but they are the base of their fleets. In EVE numbers are somewhat important, and a group of newbies can easily kill experienced solo players. In BRAVE you will jump into action right off the bat on day one.

Make sure to have voice comms installed (the program they use is  called Mumble - here's a link to the setup guide)

For players interested in EVE in general (not just destruction) the best place to start is still the famous EVE University:

EVE University is a neutral, non-profit training corporation in EVE Online that exists to train new players in the basics of life in New Eden. Founded on March 15, 2004 by Morning Maniac, the University continues to uphold a strong reputation through previous wars, robust management, knowledgeable graduates and instructors, and quality students. The heart of the corporation resides in teamwork through wars, events, and cooperative help in the chat channel.

New Eden is a dark and harsh world

Most players are generally friendly towards newcomers, but there will be also black sheep who'd rather kill you, knowing that as a new player you will not know how to properly defend yourself. EVE is a game where PVP combat is non-consensual. Everyone can attack everyone else, anywhere. Of course there are places more secure than others, but in EVE you are never truly safe. High sec areas (systems with Security Status between 0.5 and 1.0) have NPC police known as CONCORD, which will always kill the agressor. But they might not be able to kill the offender before he manages to pick off your ship.

Therefore heed these simple rules:

  • never fly something you can't afford to replace
  • avoid moving cargo worth more than the ship
  • stay vigilant and have your eyes open

There is more to EVE, than just EVE

First off, there is EVE forums. If you want to talk to the devs, this is the first place to look for them. Secondly, there is the #tweetfleet hashtag on Twitter. CCP Games devs are usually quite active here as well. Also make sure to look up the EVE community page for news and information. One of the things you'll find there is the upcoming changes in EVE, which will be delivered on December the 9th in Rhea release.

CCP Games also offers a special API access to their game servers, so players can write third party programs which integrate with the game. The APIs are read-only, so their main purpose is progress tracking, information sharing and coordination.

You can create and manage your API keys here, and then you can use the keys to run one of the mobile apps for EVE:

Further reading

There is many player written guides about EVE, one of them is this guide on the game wiki. There is many things you can do in EVE, and each activity has their own guide. One of the best player created guides to EVE is ISK the guide vol 3.

18Nov/140

New third party page: evelexicon.com

@Fuzzysteve (Steve Ronuken, member of CSM #9 and the guy behind the most popular SDE-to-MySQL and SQLite conversions) has surprised the community today with a very nice simple website:

What does it do? You've guessed it, it's a simple wiki-like vocabulary for EVE Online. Everyone is welcome to add new definitions to it. How do you log on? Simple: Eve Lexicon is using EVE SSO, so go on, log in using your EVE Online credentials, and add some definitions!

The site is written in PHP with a tiny bit of JQuery to make it pretty. EVE SSO integrations are now possible thanks to the new Third Party Developers Portal. A sample SSO library for developers (also by @Fuzzysteve) is available at github.com.

18Nov/140

Mobile apps for EVE Online on Windows Phone

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» For iOS and Android apps please view this post «

About two years ago I've written a post about iOS and Android apps for EVE Online, but I didn't have any Windows Phone device at the time, so I had to skip this fledgling platform. Said post has become very popular and is one of my top post to the date. Few months ago I've become owner of Nokia Lumia running Windows Phone 8.1, so I am now able to test EVE apps on Windows Phone. Enjoy!

Windows Phone 8 apps

EVE Mail

EVE Mail is in-game mail client. Entering API Key is straightforward - simply press the plus sign on the first page. Once you've done that, your characters will appear on the front page. Each toon has their own set of mailboxes including "Inbox" (all mail), "Personal" (character mail), "Corporation" (corp mail) and "Alliance" (as name says). You also see your "Mail lists" and "Sent" which holds all messages you've sent. XML EVE API does not let messages to be sent from device, so this app is of course read-only.

Unfortunately the app does not have a Live Tile, which would utilize one of the most powerful features of Windows Phone. There is also no notifications when new mail arrives - you have to open the app to manually refresh the mails.

All in all, the app is still useful, because it gets the job done.

eve mail 1 eve mail 2 eve mail 3

Eve Mercenaries

This is an ultra simple reference app. Looking for a Mercenary? Download this app and you'll know who to talk to. Information is divided by space type (high sec, low sec, null and wh space).

While the app does contain some potentially useful information, it is very poorly designed. Readibility and formatting is well below acceptable level. There is not even an "About" screen, so I had to go back to Windows Store to find out who to blame. Sorry Team R Helix, I am no Windows Phone dev, but I can make a better looking app in under an hour.

eve mercenaries

Eve Mining Monitor

Now something well designed for a change (and quite useful, too). This is another reference app, this time for miners. It does exactly the same thing as LMeve Ore Chart: shows the ISK value per cubic meter of every ore and every ice in game. However, you have to make sure to update the prices before using the app, or the Ore chart will be inaccurate. Go to Settings and choose either Region or Trade Hub prices and then hit refresh. Good job, Vagus Malakhov!

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Eve Price

Another reference app, this time for market traders (but let's face it, everyone needs a Jita price check now and then). There is two lookup modes:

  • Quick - simply enter item name and system - app will try to guess what you mean and will provide a quick  drop down list with most relevant choices
  • Search - enter item name, choose region (and optionally system)

What I find useful about this app is that you can save your favourite searches on the "Favorites" page - so there is no need to enter item and system names every time.

All price data comes from eve-central.com.

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EVEision

First character tracker for Windows Phone in this test. It is very simple, but gets the job done.

  • "Details" page shows characater name and portrait, amount of ISK, character attributes and clone data. Note: no numer formatting on the ISK field. Can't see if I have 3 billion ISK or three hundred million.
  • "Now Training" page shows information and progress bar for the skill currently in training. You can add a reminder when the skill is trained.
  • "Queue" page shows the current skill queue. Note: on the small screen of my Lumia, the font used for the skill list seems a little too big.
  • "Skills" page shows all the skills currently trained by the character.
  • "Certificates" page currently shows nothing (bug?)

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EveLet

Another character progress tracker. This one allows one more thing, compared to EVEision: it shows market transactions. Unfortunately (again) has problems with number formatting. While ISK amounts look fine, training times are shown in a weird format: D.H:mm:ss

It does however support Start Tiles (not Live Tiles though, but still, it's better than no tiles support whatsoever). You can pin any of your characters to the start menu. Tapping the tile brings up EveLet showing this specific character. Neat!

  • Summary - shows corp, ship, ISK and SP amounts, Skill Queue and Market Transaction summary
  • Queue - shows current skill queue
  • Transactions - shows the list of last market transactions
  • Orders - shows the list of current market orders

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EVEMON 7

Yup, it's the same EVEMON you know from the "big" Windows and it's been developed by the same team of people.

Unfortunately... it does not work :-( After entring API key it complains about the format of the Characters.xml.aspx endpoint, so it probably requires some compatibility work. I will review it again when (and if) it is properly updated.

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EVE Profiler

One more character tracker. And I must say I'm impressed, because it is very well designed. It looks both like a native Windows Phone app (puts emphasis on fonts, font sizes and minimalistic design), and an EVE Online themed app. Menu slides in from the left and looks similar to NEOCOM strip in game. Very good design, Mr Jeremy Shore!

Regarding features it is rather limited when compared to the other character trackers. It offers the following:

Character Summary page: corporation, when joined, security status, active ship

Eve Mail page - a very neat mail reader

Skills page - I was unable to load all the skills Lukas has :(

Unfortunately it is less stable than the other apps and crashed to start menu a few times. Maybe it is just my budget Lumia. I hope Jeremy updates his app soon, because it looks really great.

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EveWP

Probably the best character tracker for Windows Phone so far, it is both stable, good looking and has quite some features. Don't let that home brew icon fool you. After entering the API key, main menu is shown and it consist of:

  • pilot list
  • notifications
  • eve-news (several sources news reader, including eve news 24, tmc and official eve online feeds)

After choosing on of the characters, several pages worth of information are shown:

  • sheet - shows security status, currently piloted ship and location, ISK balance, SP amount, Clone grade, date of character creation and attributes
  • queue - shows skill queue
  • skills - displays currently trained skills. Note: it's the only app that has skills grouped like in game
  • notifications - like name says

And it supports Live Tiles on the start menu! I really recommend this app. Good job, 3rd Rock Studios!

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Mili: Damage

Another ultra simple reference app. Remember when everyone had damage dealt/weakness for all factions in their bio? Well, this is it.

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Ship Browser

This app is a ship database. It takes a while to load, but is packed with information, and can even display some of the ships in 3D. It looks very much like a show info window and contains the same st of information (ship stats, description, ship image). If you can't live without spinning ships on the go, this app is for you.

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17Nov/142

Inspired by Rixx Javix: Megathron Quafe Edition

Have you ever heard of Rixx Javix? I bet you have. Well, our famous blogger friend from Eveoganda has recently started drawing EVE Online ships in Adobe Illustrator in order to create high quality posters that you can then print out on A0 and put on your wall, so everyone knows that internet spaceships are your hobby. I really recommend you take some time, and have a look at his work here: Art Print Poster Series.

The series looks great, each ship is positioned in a way that presents it best, and is meticulously detailed, so even after printing at a very high resolution, it still looks amazing. I guessed the method Rixx used to create these (he later confirmed it on his blog), and - being inspired with his work - took my own attempt at recreating one of the most iconic ships in EVE - The Megathron - in a vector drawing. But it's not just any Megathron - it's Megathron Quafe Edition.

Rixx is using Adobe software to make his series, namely Illustrator and Photoshop. I have chosen to use open source software instead, so my poster was made with The GIMP and Inkscape. Both me and Rixx used The Amber's excellent ship viewer known as "Jeremy" at http://caldariprimeponyclub.com/ for reference.

Click to download 300dpi versionFeel free to download the vector SVG version here.

15Nov/140

New Blackbird & Incursus models in Rhea

Hi fellow pilots of EVE! In this post I have gathered screenshots from Singularity which show new and revisited ship models coming in Rhea. If you haven't read CCP Seagull's feature dev blog yet, I really recommend you do it now.

The revisited models include Incursus (all variants, both special edition and Tech II) and Blackbird (including Rook and Falcon). Moreover, Onyx and Eagle have been given a tiny facelift to make them look different from the Tech I variant.

While I realy like the new Incursus and it's Tech II versions (my favourite assault frigate, the Enyo), Blackbird and especially Falcon are IMHO overdone. There is so much antennas sticking out in all different places, that it looks like some kind of satellite instead of a spaceship. What I do like is the ramjet engine, which is opened when the ship goes to warp, giving the whole vessel a mantis-like look. This is of course my own opinion and I hope you guys will like it much more than I do ;-)

All the screenshots have been taken on singularity in the new PBR rendering mode, which makes all the reflections and light distribution look way more natural. Amarr ships look especially gorgeous now!

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14Nov/140

Ore value chart – Arkonor and Omber at the bottom

Hello industrial-minded pilots! Today we will be talking mining. Many players consider it boring, but it is one of the ways to play EVE, and no one would be able fly any ships if not for the fearless miners, who keep drilling asteroids, despite being ganked left and right.

Some time ago, to help my corp members, I have created an "Ore value chart", which shows which ore is worth most ISK, and thus is the best to be mined at any given time. Since I don't mine myself very often, I don't often check the chart.

I had a look at the ore chart today and was quite surprised

ore-values

Why? Because Arkonor is, besides Omber, one of the worst ores to mine right now (ISK-wise). The king of all ores, the "A" in the famous ABC, has reached the bottom. At the same time, three high sec ores made it to the top ten! Players who engage in mining and industry will be quick to respond "This is because of the supply and demand laws". And they will be mostly correct. when EVE was first designed, some assumptions were made regarding ore value and mineral prices. The whole industry system was designed around the concept of risk vs reward:

  • high sec offers least risk, nullsec on the other hand is most risky

thus

  • ores in null sec should be worth most, so they offer the highest reward

Moreover, to promote player trading between regions, high sec ores were not distributed evenly. Instead, some high sec ores like Kernite or Pyroxeres only appear in specific regions of space.

CCP probably assumed, that only a handful of miners will be bold (or powerful) enough to mine in null, so the supply of high end minerals will guarantee their high price. In order to further reinforce this system, blueprint mineral requirements were set accordingly.

From theoretical point of view (hi Game Theory!), this made a very well designed crafting system: it offered meaningful choices (where and what to mine, and how much to risk) and also promoted player interaction by the means of trading.

All this was working well ten years ago

But no more. What was impossible to predict, was player behaviour. Firstly, game designers couldn't predict which blueprints will be utilized the most. Each blueprint has a specific material list, and the global production affects global demand for specific minerals, for example Mexallon. Secondly, right now mining in nullsec is most often safer than mining in high sec (hi, James!), which affects the supply. All these small reasons ultimately affect the prices of the minerals and cause shifts in the table. High demand for Mexallon is what moved Kernite and Plagioclase to the top ten. In the end, this is good for EVE, because it makes mining a viable profession. I know people who easily PLEX their accounts, and they do nothing else but mining and occasional manufacturing.

But Can I haz the Ore Value Chart?

I left the best for the end. If you are a miner, and always want to know which ores pays best, you have two choices:

  • Install and run your own instance of LMeve, which has the Ore Value Chart built in (check under "Database" tab)
  • Go to LMeve Database, which is publicly available and check the Ore Value Chart right away without installing anything

That's it for today! Fly safe o7

13Nov/140

LMeve dev blog: Catching up with Phoebe. Bonus: setting up SSO

Good news! Last monday I had a day off, so I finally caught up with all outstanding tasks, including making LMeve Phoebe-compatible. In the meantime, I started tinkering with the following features:

Vagrantfile, bootstrap.sh

These two files make it easier to set up a host for any app. Trent Bartlem suggested to me on Github to include these files back in August. While the files themselves are pretty straightforward to prepare, I have to install LMeve from scratch somewhere to make sure I included all the necessary packages required to run LMeve. It's on my to do list, and it should happen sooner than soon™.

Page Caching

Another idea I have is to make the longest loading pages cached (and maybe - just maybe - refreshed in the background, for example by the poller). Code to make this kind of caching possible is already written, and two sample pages (Inventory, Profit Chart) have been added as well. I use AJAX call to request the cached page, and if  cached version is not available (or has expired) I display a "Loading..." sign and prepare a refreshed version of the page. I was thinking about adding a "Force refresh" button, so users can force LMeve to refresh a cached page.

I still evaluate how this improves performance, but it looks pretty good and should become public soon.

PoCo module

lmeve-pocoLast one on the To Do list is expanding PoCo module. It has been recently revamped with features such as displaying last month's income and current month income prediction. Judging by the talk I had with Dracoth Simertet from RvB (they have a huge PoCo network) and CCP FoxFour, there is a demand for a tool for managing PoCo networks. But what features would you need to monitor your PoCos?

  • Last month income per PoCo (currently only a sum for entire corp is displayed)
  • Planet type the PoCo is orbiting
  • Number of interactions
  • Client list per PoCo (by corp, by char)
  • Reinforced status
  • Do you have more ideas? Please leave a comment if you do!
    • We are only limited with what's available in the API

SSO integration

I have mentioned a few times already that LMeve can benefit from EVE SSO, but some players were not sure how to set it up. Don't worry! I've got you covered! Here's a quick guide.

  • Secondly, click "Create new application"
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  • Fill in the form. Application Name can be for example "LMeve - <your corporation name here>"
  • Now make sure to fill in Callback URL field correctly. If your LMeve address is https://myhostname.com/lmeve/, then the correct callback will be https://myhostname.com/lmeve/ssologin.php
  • Save the changes.

Once the application has been created, open it again by clicking the "View application" button, and write down these two values:

  • Client ID
  • Secret Key

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they will be required to complete setup on the LMeve side.

  • Log in to your web server host, open up config/config.php in your LMeve directory.
  • Find these variables, enter your callback URL and the values written down in previous step:
//use EVE SSO - see https://wiki.eveonline.com/en/wiki/EVE_SSO_Documentation
$SSOENABLED=TRUE; 
$SSO_REDIRECT_URL='https://myhostname.com/ssologin.php';
$SSO_CLIENT_ID='sso_client_id';
$SSO_CLIENT_SECRET='sso_client_secret';
//Auth server can be either login.eveonline.com for Tranquility, or sisilogin.testeveonline.com when trying to use Sisi.
$SSO_AUTH_SERVER='login.testeveonline.com';
  • Make sure characters are connected to LMeve usernames. This is crucial for the SSO to work!
    • Go to "Characters" module in LMeve and check if your characters are there.

lmeve-sso

Now you are ready to use EVE SSO to login to your LMeve instance!

5Nov/142

LMeve dev blog: Phoebe support delayed

I have a very quick announcement today. CCP has changed a few things in Phoebe release, namely the way successful invention jobs are handled in XML API, and Blueprints.yaml structure in Static Data Dump. As a result, current version of LMeve can neither load Phoebe Static Data, nor correctly show successful invention jobs.

I should be able to write a patch to support both changes until mid next week.

developers-portalWhy I haven't done this sooner? Two reason really. Firstly, CCP has "commercially" started their Developer Portal recently - see it at https://developers.eveonline.com/. You can also set up shared secret required for EVE SSO there - feel free to use SSO in your own instance of LMeve! As a side effect, dev blogs regarding API and Static Data no longer appear on the Community page, and I simply missed the information about Static Data changes :-(

Secondly, there was a lot happening IRL recently and I simply didn't have the time to look at the Developers portal, start the game or develop LMeve.

Patch is coming, so stay tuned!

23Oct/141

LMeve dev blog: tuning SQL performance and EVE SSO

Hello industry moguls and third party devs of EVE o7

First off, I'd like to say I respect Rixx Javix greatly for his last post about EVE industrialists and his respect towards them. Much appreciated, dear sir! But today's dev blog post will be about three other things. First is a solution to the performance problems that Aideron Technologies instance of LMeve was having recently. Second is an announcement of a new feature, which thanks to @CCP_FoxFour will soon become widely available: ability to log in to LMeve using your EVE Online credentials (EVE SSO). Last but not least, I've added the new Blueprints.xml API endpoint.

Ohnoes, LMeve slows down!

I've got numerous complaints from my corp members recently about LMeve being slow and unresponsive. It was apparent on many subpages, so at first it was hard to pinpoint. Our database has grown over the past two years, and I thought this performance hit was caused by the amount of records we have accumulated:

lmeve-db

When you look at it, there is a few hundred thousands records there. But usually we only need to display the current month, and the rest has to be filtered out:

lmeve-graphs-1

This prompted me to have a look at how I filter out data by dates to show the current month only:

SELECT (...) FROM (...)
WHERE date_format(beginProductionTime, '%Y%m') = '${year}${month}'
AND (...);

At first glance it looks completely logical (and it actually works). I know the current month and year, so I only select records that have their year and month equal to the current one. But look closely what I've done there. I convert a DATETIME field "beginProductionTime" to a string which shows year and month in YYYYMM format, and then I compare this string with another string. As you probably know, comparing strings is much slower than comparing numbers (it's why in databases you use indexes on text fields that need comparison). But I made it even worse; besides comparing strings, I converted DATETIME, and I did that for each and every record encountered by the query!

Here's a piece of advice when you write an SQL query that sifts through a lot of data:

  • don't run unnecessary functions or conversions on database fields that you use in WHERE clause
  • create indexes on TEXT and VARCHAR fields if you have to compare them

Each function which you put in there will have to execute for every record in the table, which will adversely affect performance.

When you take the two rules above into account, fixing my queries was pretty simple and straightforward. Instead of converting DATETIME values to string, I converted the compared string into a DATETIME:

SELECT (...) FROM (...)
WHERE beginProductionTime BETWEEN '${year}-${month}-01' AND LAST_DAY('${year}-${month}-01')
AND (...);

See? The values I compare beginProductionTime against are only evaluated once, instead of for every record, which means the whole SQL executes way faster than before.

Results:

Old query execution time: 37.4 seconds

New query execution time: 0.87 seconds

Op success! o7

Damn, I forgot my LMeve password again

lmeve-ssoWell, this kind of excuse will not be possible anymore, because thanks to @CCP_FoxFour and the limited EVE SSO trial, LMeve can now benefit from the SSO mechanism. CCP FoxFour explained SSO in detail in his dev blog here. How does this work?

  • LMeve redirects user to SSO at https://login.eveonline.com/
  • User logs in with his EVE Online login details and chooses one of the characters
  • EVE SSO redirects user back to LMeve
  • LMeve confirms with the SSO server that the login is valid
  • LMeve accesses the character name and ID and checks if that character is allowed to use LMeve (character must belong to the corporation configured in LMeve, and that character must also be linked to an LMeve account on "Characters" page. Users can do it on their own using their API keys.)

This is of course simplified exchange, because special token and secret values are also exchanged to make sure that nothing got spoofed on the way.

SSO feature for LMeve has already been developed and tested, but to set it up in your own instance of LMeve, you will need a special "client_id" and "secret" values. These values are similar to API keys, and you will be able to generate them  on the new 3rd party developer page (beta of this page working with Singularity server is already available).

New API endpoint

The last feature is the addition of Blueprints.xml API endpoint, which returns data about all the blueprints owned by a corporation, both originals and copies. Information retrieved from it contains ME and TE levels. Previously LMeve users had to input ME and TE manually for each blueprint owned by the corporation. With this new endpoint LMeve does all this automatically. This way all cost predictions made by LMeve always use up to date ME levels.

That's all for today!

You can download the latest LMeve version from GitHub.

15Oct/143

(Un)intended game mechanics

EVE is not the only game where unintended game mechanics emerge, but it is a great example of how creative players can be.

Map OPC1 in Quake 3 ArenaFor example, have you ever heard of "strafe jumping" in Quake 3 Arena or other games on Quake's engine? It's a technique which allows players to move around the map much faster than originally intended by the developers. A whole "trick jumping" community emerged around this unintended gameplay, where players would learn and share creative ways how to move from point A to point B on original or custom Quake maps.

Reading forums I stumbled upon a post, which complains about Incursion mothership sites being closed "prematurely" by a group of players and how this is "griefing" the whole incursion community. Players who claim to know EVE and its game mechanics quickly replied that this way of playing incursions is in fact the orignal way intended by the developers. The question arises: is it really? And what should game designers do when players use game mechanics in an emergent and unintended way?

Before we answer these questions, let's have a look at one more example: jetcan mining. New players might not realize, but Mining Barges didn't always have such spacy cargoholds as they do now. One or two cycles of Strip Miners was enough to fill them completely. Bah, Mining Barges in fact didn't even exist initially. Normal combat ships were used for mining, and because of their limited cargo space, players had to dump their ore rather often. Secure Containers (with up to 3900m3 of capacity) could be safely anchored in space and used as temporary 2005.12.27.22.02.58buffers before hauler pilots could pick the ore up and transport it to the nearest station. Each ship can however eject a jettison container, which has a capacity of 27,500 m3, which is far more than anchorable containers. Guess what miners started to do? They used jetcans as their temporary ore buffers. The downside of this was that anyone could take ore from jetcans, but back then it wasn't very common to harass miners - the world of EVE was so big and there was many things to do more interesting than ganking mining ships.

Was this mechanic intended? Now we know that clearly it was not. But back then you had an alternative: either anchor a Secure Container, which you had to pay for first, and then spend 60 seconds on anchoring it, or simply right click and choose Jettison and get nearly 10 times as much cargo space for free. It doesn't take a genious to realize it was (kind of) a design flaw, used by the players. Jetcans high capacity was intended for completely other purpose - to preserve all the cargo which survived the ship explosion, or when you wanted to transfer cargo between ships in space.

What could the game designers do if the mechanic of jetcan mining wasn't intended?

First and easiest, they could simply accept the emergent gameplay and conisder it a valid use case. Secondly they could add bigger anchorable containers to game, so use of a jetcan would simply become less favorable thing to do. Unfortunately, this would break other game systems. Secure containers are "compressors" of sorts. They are bigger inside than they are on the outside by a factor of 1.3x. But if CCP added containers bigger than jetcans, there would be no ships in game that could carry such a big container. The first thought that comes to mind is "if containers are already bigger on the inside, let's just increase their compression ratio, so they are bigger than jetcan but still fit in cargohold". This however would affect hauling, making logistics a bit too easy.
"Well" you could say "Let's just increase the cargo space of the mining ships then". Which again is bad design decision if you look at it, because Mining Barges with huge cargoholds would simply be more favorable to fly than Industrial ships, making the latter obsolete.
"Wait" I hear you say "But mining barges in the end did get cargoholds bigger than jetcans". Yes and no. Mining ships has got "Ore holds" which can only hold Ore, and cannot be used for any other types of cargo. This way Barges didn't obsolete Industrials and Transports, which have general purpose cargoholds. But such specialized cargobays didn't exist in game back in 2005, so game designers couldn't use them to solve the unintended jetcan mining mechanic then.

Let's get back to incursions. How are they supposed to work?

  • incursion consists of a constellation filled with random sites, which have varying tiers of difficulty
  • all systems affected by incursion have NPC induced debuffs
  • NPCs are tuned in such a way which prevents to complete it solo
  • with each completed site NPC imposed debuffs become slightly weaker
  • once players complete a specific amount of lower tier sites, a boss site spawns
  • to encourage players to complete sites, each participant gets the same amount of ISK after the site is completed.

2011.02.19.15.47.35Where's the unintended part? The rewards for completing lower tier incursion sites is high enough to make it the best ISK-making activity in high sec space. Players have no intent on completing the boss site, because farming Vanguard sites simply pays better. Now we're back to the original forum post I mentioned at the beginning. Is completing incursions griefing? Or is it just playing the game the way it was intended to be played?

I am not the game designer, so honestly, I can't know for sure. In most games farming is not desired, because it devaluates the rewards for the more casual players, who can't invest the same amount of time (it would be ISK and Concord LP in incursions case).

If I were the game designer, how would I make sure low level incursion sites are not farmed?

There could be a couple of solutions, starting with a simple rule: If enough lower tier sites have been completed to spawn the boss site, I would reduce the rewards for completing the lower tier sites (even down to zero). This way I would make it undesirable for players to keep running lower tier sites instead of completing the boss site. If instead of a hard cut it was a gradual decrease, it would work even better.

One more approach would be to keep lower tier sites from respawning once the boss site has been spawned. Increasing reqrds for boss sites would be risky, because no one would attempt low sec or null sec incursions, if high sec mothership sites dropped the Revenant BPCs.

As you can see, solutions that would stop people from farming lower tier sites are simple. The fact that CCP didn't do anything against incursion farmers means that this kind of player behaviour is not entirely unwanted.