Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Freebooted Tech Gear Challenge: Caldari Missioning Battleships


Greenbeard is presenting his regular Tech Gear television show. The cameras are rolling.

Hello and welcome to this special edition of the Freebooted Tech Gear Challenge. Our producers received a letter from a pilot asking for some advice. It reads as follows:

Greenbeard produces a clearly fake 'viewers letter' and pretends to read from it.

Dear Freebooted,
I am a high-sec missioning carebear and a total muppet who can't even hold onto a battleship when fighting NPCs. I recently lost my actively-tanked Raven due to attempting to AFK a mission. However, I have more money than sense and was thinking of upgrading to a Raven Navy Issue or a Golem. Please could you give me some advice.
Yours sincerely, Stanley.

Greenbeard discards the letter and addresses the camera.

Well Stanley, despite the fact you are clearly a missile-throwing idiot we thought we'd look into it for you. We got the team together and drew straws on who would fly what. Naturally, I got the state-of-the-art Tech II Marauder, Long Jack took the Raven Navy Issue for a spin and nobody wanted to fly the Raven because it's shit, so we made new girl Kasmira Dufay do it.

Here's how it went.



Stationary Caldari battleships loom in the background being refitted by work-crews and drones. An annoyed Greenbeard, unaware that the cameras are rolling, is repeatedly kicking a mechanic. Long Jack stands nearby smirking and Kasmira Dufay maintains a dignified distance from them both.

GREENBEARD (shouting)
I don't care if I don't have the skills to fly these Caldari shit-buckets, how hard can it be? Just bloody make it happen.

Greenbeard realises the cameras are rolling, so he kicks the mechanic out of shot and addresses the camera.

Ahem. Well, due to some slight technical difficulties, it seems that field testing some of the ships in question is going to be more tricky than initially thought, so we'll go back to the studio and do some theorycrafting with our technical boffins instead.

Greenbeard notices the floored mechanic start to crawl away.

No, not you, I haven't finished with you yet.

Greenbeard pursues the mechanic out of shot. Long Jack unholsters his pistol and winks at the camera before following Greenbeard. Kasmira Dufay attempts to look professional and unphased.




Greenbeard is interviewing a nervous looking technician in front of a giant video screen showing graphs and statistics relevant to the topic of discussion.

This is Derek. At least that's what I've decided he's called. His name was something in Gallente but I just don't have enough phlegm in my throat to say anything in that ridiculous language, so Derek it is.

Derek is our expert on the graphs and dull facts that I am told are an important part of putting together a good missioning ship. He is now going to astound you with the science of hiding vast distances from your opponent whilst languidly throwing missiles at them. Take it away Derek.

DEREK (starting nervously)
This is a quick comparison of the Raven, Raven Navy Issue and the Golem in their performance of soloing high-security missions. It is worth noting that all three ships, correctly fitted, are more than adequate for the task. This is simply an examination of their differences.

GREENBEARD (looking at the display)
They don't look any different. They are in fact all equally, hideously ugly.

This is true, the cosmetic differences are only very slight. There are however, significant differences in performance and price.

Yes, the more you pay, the shitter the colour scheme.

Indeed. Firstly, in terms of price, the Raven caters for the budget end of the market and is available in all trade hubs for around 70 million isk, which is pretty reasonable for a basic tier-2 battleship.

The Raven Navy Issue is currently unavailable on the open market and can only be purchased by contract, although I believe this may soon be changing. Of the auctions that I saw, most buyout prices are around the 600 million mark, although one recently sold for 517 million.

The price of a Golem ranges from 550 million to 600 million in most high-sec trade hubs.

Hang on, that's ridiculous! The Tech Two Marauder is exactly the same price as a slightly souped-up tech one variant? I mean, I can appreciate that not many people would want to pay top dollar for the tech two version of an already ugly battleship that has been painted in a fetching shade of raw sewage and had it's go-faster stripe put on sideways, but still...

Well I believe a lot of that may be to do with the demand. The skills required to fly a Golem are significantly higher than to fly the Navy Issue. If you can fly a normal Raven and you're looking for an upgrade, you can already jump straight into the Navy Issue, whereas a significant investment of time is required to access Marauders. It's market forces.

Bah! So the basic Raven is already ahead by virtue of being affordably priced. I suppose the question we need to ask is, are either of the expensive ships worth the money?

Well the first thing we looked at was the tank. Being Caldari vessels, all three ships are shield tankers. At first glance, the Navy Issue appears the most solid, with base hitpoints to shield, armour and structure significantly outstripping the other two. The Navy Issue starts with an impressive 31,172hp to the Golem's 22,800 and the Raven's 20,782, unfitted.

So that's one-nil to the faction vessel over the marauder, meaning that the Raven and the Navy Issue are level-pegging with a point each.

So it would seem, however we need to bear in mind at this point that we are not taking into account key factors like improved tech two damage resistances and ship specific bonuses.

Are there any that will make much of a difference?

Yes. Significantly, the Golem benefits from a 7.5% bonus to shield boost amount per level of the pilot's Marauder skill. So we fitted all three vessels with an active tank to see how the figures stacked up. Our test pilot had good but not perfect fitting skills so it would be possible to improve upon these figures.


Our aim was to build a capacitor-stable permanently running active tank using tech 2 modules. Where possible, we fitted identically, however we adapted to the slot variations given that the Golem had one fewer low-slots and one additional medium slot and...

GREENBEARD (impatiently)
Blah, blah, module, toaster, gubbins-in-the-wotsits, whatever. What was the the result?

Well, the Raven and the Navy Issue were identical with the ability to 'perma-tank' 346 hit-points of damage per second. But the Golem was capable of withstanding an impressive 636hp DPS.

So the Golem redeems itself and draws level with the other two with the score at one a-piece. So they're all off the starting blocks. Which is surprising given that they are all built like starting blocks.

Although the basic Raven's shield tank is not without it's redeeming qualities. As our viewer 'Stanley' lost his ship by not maintaining his Raven's active tank, we thought we'd look at a low-maintenance passive tanking option for him.

Right, an idiot-proof "lol-fit". Interesting, how did that go?

The results were surprising. Due to a slightly better basic shield recharge rate, the standard Raven was passively tanking 321 DPS to the Navy Issue's 295 and the Golem's 289 DPS. So the Raven's ability to passively tank is almost as good as it's active perma-tank.

Well there you go. If you are a complete idiot and sometimes gets lost at your own keyboard then it is possible to fit your missioning Raven with the equivalent of safety padding and guard rails.

So looking at the scores, that means the plucky little Raven has clawed itself ahead of the big boys by a point.

Now we've looked at survivability, what about the all-important destruction. How well do these ships make other ships blow up?

We looked at this from two perspectives, the first being fitting for maximum damage output with no concern for range, the second variation was to go for an effective 'sniper-fit' with a view to optimising damage as much as possible. It is important to bear in mind that we did not concern ourselves with any kind of tank for this test.

Yes, I think now would be a good time to point out to the viewers at home that the Caldari combat mentality is to hit your opponent without him being able to hit back. This is generally achieved either through the filthy use of ECM or by hiding on the other side of the galaxy whilst throwing things in the general direction of the enemy. Many would say that Caldari combat is 'fighting in easy mode'.

Yes, well, be that as it may, in our first test we fitted as many Ballistic Control System IIs and Siege Missile Launcher IIs using Tech II ammunition as we could to each ship, gave them each a full flight of Hammerhead IIs and fitted whatever the optimum damage-inducing rigs were.

Both the Raven and the Navy Issue have identical damage-related bonuses in a 5% increase to rate-of-fire per Battleship skill level. The Raven can fit six launchers and the Navy Issue has seven hardpoints. The Golem is slightly different in that it gets a 100% bonus to torpedo and missile damage which offsets the fact that it can only has four launcher hardpoints, giving it the equivalent of eight launchers.

So? Which is best? Which one gives you the biggest, most impressive 'explosifactionisation'?

With an effective range of 27 kilometres, going by damage-per-second, the Raven Navy Issue was the most effective with a DPS of 1453. More surprising was that the Raven beat the Golem with a DPS of 1270 to 1262.

Well, there's an upset. That's a point for the Navy Issue and I think I'll award the Raven one for outgunning the Golem...Hang on, a voice in my ear says I can't do that. Oh, who gives a crap about the integrity of the show, it's not like anyone's actually watching. If I was still CEO I wouldn't have to do this stupid...

...erm...Well the second test pretty much yielded the same results as the first, with Cruise Missile Launchers replacing the Sieges and Sensor Boosters being used to increase targeting range to match the uniform effective missile ranges of 227.8 kilometres. The Navy Issue DPS was 842 to the Raven's 745 and the Golem's 741.

GREENBEARD (regaining his composure)
So we're starting to see how the Raven Navy Issue's price can be justified against the Golem's.

Well, in part, yes, but that's not the full story. There are additional benefits to the Golem that make it more suited to the dedicated task of missions. It's 10% bonus to missile and torpedo velocity and 5% bonus to explosion velocity per level make it more effective against faster targets and the Marauder skill bonus of 7.5% increase in target painter effectiveness per level makes damaging small targets much easier. This coupled with drones would mean that nothing in the mission will last for very long irrespective of ship class, size or speed. On top of that, the 100% bonus to the range and velocity of tractor beams and a cargohold twice the size of the other vessels' enables the golem to make short work of any mission.

In short, they can all do it, but on balance, the Golem will probably do it quicker.

Okay, so that about wraps up our 'carebear' special. Thank you to our resident boffin, 'Derek'.

What have we learned? Well, the basic Raven stands up surprisingly well against it's bigger brothers, but if you've got more money than sense, buy a Raven Navy Issue. If you've got the patience to learn the skills, you have pots of cash and sense is still in short supply, buy a Golem. Although if money is still no object but you do have a modicum of sense and all you are ever going to do is mission whilst occasionally being absent-minded, buy a Rattlesnake: it has a passive tank that can stop planets and does enough DPS with it's drones that you can pop to the shops whilst they clear out the mission for you.

And on that bombshell, I've got to go talk Long Jack out of making a skincoat out of dead mechanics. Good night.


[More like this: Tech Gear Challenge New year Special - The Legend of SSS Stupid]

Monday, 22 November 2010

The Trouble with Clones

How do clones work?

Well clearly the concept is a simple one, but maybe not some of the EVE fiction written around it.
A genetic duplicate is constructed and stored in some way until it needs to be "activated".

Memories are transferred at some point so when activated it is a duplicate of the original (minus any physical wear and tear the original had suffered e.g scarring, injuries etc.).
So delving further in, lets think about the technologies required:
  • Human cloning (to a large degree already possible, though not at the accelerated growth rate clearly required).
  • Reading, copying and impressing memory (we are still in the realms of sci-fi here, at least for the moment).
  • Assorted other technologies that are not the focus of this article and don't create too big an issue, such as data transfer over distance (clone activation and memory transferral) and clone storage (conciousness suppression and life support).
So the issue starts to appear when we give some thought regarding to the fiction around it and the game mechanics. Apparently you can have only one clone active at a time (although one EVE novel had someone who could control multiple active clones. Apparently they didn't last long and caused mentral strain to the controller).


It's a copy, it's not linked in anyway to any central controller or other clones. A genetic copy with the up-to-date memories imprinted on it.

This is when other thoughts start to appear, it's not the same life-form as its predecessor and even if you believe in a soul (which I don't), clearly there's no way our technology is linked with such spiritual concepts. One life form dies, another, or potentially any number of duplicates, begins.

So what if it was linked to some central digital consciousness contoller, controlling a host of automatons but only capable of keeping one active at any time? Again, why would it need to be centralised? Memory space? Surely the clone doesn't constantly access a central memory bank just to work, it's a stand alone replica.

If it did however, the a central digital device would surely be capable of maintaining many active clones at once, also not forgetting that if that were the case then humans wouldn't be necessary at all, other than being drones of centralised computing functions.

So we have to return to sentient, fully autonomous, genetic duplicates. Why aren't there loads of copies wandering around in New Eden? Only if humanity purposely did not allow copies, but unless it was uniformly adhered to by all, which sounds improbable, this would rapidly be forgotten in an arms race of mass clone production.

Further thoughts to explore:

Do capsuleers age? Surely not, they can pick the age of their next clone and memory transfer away. If so, never dying, sanity, sociopathic tendencies and total memory storage capable by the unassisted human brain start becoming interesting topics of their own.

I know it's sci-fi and good fiction relies on suspension of disbelief, but the thing about sci-fi is, its a window into potential futures and where our technology will take us. In short sci-fi by it's very nature is often thought-provoking fiction.

It's not important, but once I started thinking about it, it had holes in it and it niggled me :-)

By Greenbeard

Monday, 8 November 2010

Writing is Hard Work

Late last month I discovered the National Novel Writing Month. Being one of those wannabe writer types who had recently found a rewarding outlet through blogging, I thought 'how hard can it be?'. 1,667 words per day, that's shorter than some of my blog articles. Easy.

Being new to this 'NaNoWriMo' thing I went in blind but, after seeing the way the NaNoWriMo website is designed, soon came to realise that part of the fun was in having fellow would-be-novelists to share encouragement with and provide a little friendly competition and motivation. Through the legendary communication hub that is the Tweetfleet, I found other EVE players who were also intending to participate. After all it was, for me at least, CCP_Fallout who had planted the seed in that very Twitter group.

I added all the Tweetfleeters I could find to my little gang of writers and off we all set on November 1st to pen our masterpieces. I don't know if the others had a clearer idea of the undertaking at hand, but according to the little word-count progress bars that every participant has, some of them clearly had the good sense to put down their quills and walk away before the starting pistol fired. Surely, it can't be that much of a challenge if you've got a general story idea in your head.

Oh no, my friends. Oh. No.

How over-confident was I? Those who chose not to start have cleverly avoided a listless month of too much caffeine, word blindness and broken sleep patterns. Unless you've got kids, in which case it's probably business as usual.

Personally, I'm finding it quite challenging to keep up with the average word requirement. When I say 'challenging', I mean, I'm just not. Well, not quite. I made great progress today (day 8) and managed to make up my steadily rising deficit with nearly 5,000 words in one day. But I'm drained now.

@Jaggedrain, writing as ArcanaMortis, has apparently given up on her 10,000 currently written words of EVE fiction and has started again with a zombie story. It sounds like NaNoWriMo suicide, but she did fire off over 4000 words in the first day so maybe she can pull it off.

Keith Neilson/Mandrill has made a start with 1,819 words, his story, 'Ashes to Dust' has an intriguing premise that reads like Nikita/The Manchurian Candidate set in New Eden (although I've got images of LeeLoo from the Fifth Element too). Unfortunately work seems to have petered out with a projected finish date of June 2011. What with CCP being very quiet too, it makes me wonder if the volcano has erupted and wiped everybody out over in Iceland.

Garheade did 200 words of his 'Finding New Eden' story about the fall of the EVE-gate several days ago, but we've seen nothing more since. I suspect he's been distracted by his EVE Commune podcast project. Congratulations on the four episodes so far. I especially recommend listening to the second discussion topic in episode 1. But what about the fiction?!

I tip my hat to CCP_Fallout who has led the pack throughout, steadily maintaining a daily word output and meeting target. Fallout's story is non-EVE fiction, a Cold War thriller called 'Project Delta'. But given the current total of 14,396 words written, there's not much info to go on. Very secretive.

As for myself, I'm just shy of 13,000 words at the moment, but that was only after a marathon day today which has brought me within shouting distance of being back on target. If only I hadn't stopped to write this blog, I'd be on even more.