Back in space

7th July 2008 – 8.58 am

I resisted temptation no longer and subscribed to EVE Online over the weekend, after having enjoyed the two-week trial period. Even though I am already playing World of Warcraft and City of Villains I was drawn to being a space cadet and the skill-based system that EVE Online offers. I logged back in to find that my week-long absence had got my Spaceship Command rank 5 skill trained, which had taken over six days to complete, and started some new skill training before I made myself familiar with the controls again. I picked up a mission from an agent and hunted some rats just to get back in to the swing of space combat before settling down to immerse myself in the galaxy.

I had previously wondered how to keep track of everything I own, what with moving from system to system and having to pick up items bought on the market personally from their place of manufacture. When I tried to open my electronic wallet and misclicked I accidentally found the 'assets' tab, which handily shows all the sytems where you have items stored, and lists the items along with showing a count of how many items are in each area. Everything is kept track of automatically. Through discovering this feature I found that I apparently have four Ibis rookie ships in various stations in the sector. Quite how I came to own so many is uncertain.

Despite being a complete newbie I managed to help someone. They were having trouble selling some Gallente navy tags, which they must have looted from some rats, saying that they could find no option to put the tags on to the market. I asked if he had taken the tags out of his ship's cargo hold and put them in to his item storage in the station, because items cannot be sold directly from a ship's hold. That turned out to be the cause of the problem and once the tags were moved he could put them on to the market as normal. He had accidentally helped me at the same time. I had some Gallente navy tags in my inventory that I had noted were useful to someone, from their information text, but didn't know to whom. By putting them on to the market I saw that there was a buyer available, and that the buyer's order was good for hundreds of days probably meant it was an NPC. Sure enough, selling them showed the transaction in my wallet to be to the Caldari navy.

I decided to play around with ships and equipment a bit. I bought a Merlin for its turret hardpoints that allow for guns to be installed so that I could try out some lasers I had salvaged. Before I could fit the lasers I had to pick up the Merlin from the shipyard, which brought me back to my problem of moving ships around. I didn't want to travel in my unprotected and unarmed pod, because space is pretty dangerous, but if I travelled in a ship I would switch between ships at my destination and necessarily leave one behind, and I haven't got a ship with enough cargo space to hold a packaged ship to pick it up and bring it back to my nominal base.

That is, I didn't have a ship with a big enough hold until I bought the Badger. I trained in how to pilot Caldari Industrial ships, which is needed for the Badger, and bought one that just happened to be manufactured in the same station I was in. I put a few defences on it, as well as a mining laser, then flew out to the other system. I docked, threw the Merlin in to the hold using one of those neat Aliens-esque loaders (in my mind!), and sauntered back to my base system. I then made a second trip to pick up one of my many Ibis ships scattered around that I thought may be handy to have around as a gopher, although I think the Badger will now fulfil that role quite nicely.

On the way back from picking up the ships I stopped at an asteroid field to do some mining. I am interested in finding out how manufacturing works, even if I am skilled in flying attack ships and tactical combat, and will probably invest a bit of time in to that. The Badger certainly has a much larger hold than any of my frigates, and so can carry a great deal more mined ore. However, it only has a single high slot, high slots being needed for a mining lasers, meaning it gathers ore at a quarter the speed of my mining frigate. I found a suitable asteroid, started mining, went to watch an episode of The IT Crowd, and came back to find the hold just about full. Considering I had just over half the hold occupied with a packaged ship to start with it seems that I need to find a way to make mining more efficient.

I could perhaps take my mining frigate out to mine more quickly, then jettison the ore for the Badger to pick up once enough has accumulated, but I think getting better mining lasers is probably safer and easier. I am a little reluctant to leave my Badger for extended periods mining at asteroids whilst I surf for lolcats or go out to buy doughnuts, but that seems like a possibility too. Maybe I can take Magnet Magnetson out on a quick mission whilst Penny mines.

The Badger was more a means to an end, though. I picked up my Merlin and equipped it with some of the salvage I picked up. I have been flying my Kestrel a lot, with its all-missile payload, but now I could put lasers to some use. I fitted dual pulse lasers with ultraviolet crystals, along with a single missile launcher for backup. With an afterburner for escaping and a shield recharger to boost my survival rate, I was not able to install a second missile launcher. After I train some more skills I may be able to manage the power requirements of my ship to the point where I can squeeze a bit more out of the grid and equip a bit more.

I picked up a mission to take care of some rats in a nearby system and warped in. I locked on to the targets, moved in to firing range and powered up the lasers. The benefits I found for lasers include a fast firing time, which also allows for quicker switching of targets, and there being no need to reload ammunition. The need to get much closer than missiles resulted in my taking much more damage than previous missile-only excursions, even if the shield soaked it up and the recharger got the shield back to full. Recharging the shield soaked up my capacitor's charge a bit too quickly, and I lost power a couple of times during the relatively simple engagement. At one point I engaged the afterburner to get some distance between the rats and my ship to allow some capacitor charge to build up and my shield to recharge.

The close combat fighting with lasers resulted in more involved fighting, because of the need to balance capacitor use with firing lasers and recharging the shield, and whilst it is interesting to be more involved it is also more dangerous. I'll experiment further, but may go back to the Kestrel whilst I continue to pilot frigates. Another reason to pilot the Kestrel over the Merlin was shown when I tried to grab anything still working in the wrecks after the fight. The Merlin's cargo hold is tiny, and I couldn't fit half the equipment in there. I had to go back to the station, drop everything off and, well, I changed to the Kestrel and its significantly larger hold before heading back to deadspace to loot the rest of the wrecks. It's possible to make the same switch after combat to sweep the battlefied with a larger ship but it doesn't strike me as being either particularly quick or safe.

I had a good time getting back to being a space cadet, and will no doubt enjoy many more sorties to come. My current objectives are to fit a salvager that I found, which involves training a few skills, one of which will see me spend almost a million ISK on the book, and to find a new agent so that I can make my money back more quickly through their higher mission rewards. What with buying a Merlin and a Badger, as well as a skill book or two, my ISK account took some mighty hits. Although I never dropped below 1.5 million ISK I had still yet to have more than 3 million ISK in my account. It looks like I could be heading to Jita to get a better quality agent, so that my wringing my hands over a few pesky million ISK will one day seem like worrying over the cost of a cup of coffee. I am a little cautious about heading over to Jita because of the horrible lag I suffered there previously, although it wasn't noticeable over the weekend so I may happily set myself up in a new base.

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