In bloom

22nd March 2010 – 5.35 pm

Scanning of the neighbouring system is already complete. There are two towers set up, with a Cheetah covert operations boat, Arazu force recon ship, and Ishtar heavy assault ship visible in the shields. If the occupying capsuleers can leave those ships lying around they are capable of defending themselves, at least from a mostly carebear fleet. By the time we manage to rustle up enough pilots to hit a site of specific Sleeper interest the neighbouring system appears empty, the inhabitants maybe having gone to plunder a different system. But even if they simply fell asleep it is probably wise not to try to sneak in to steal their anomalies, in case the occupiers come back and take offence.

It is probably best today to stay in our own system, particularly as our combined fleet time is short. At least we have a few anomalies to investigate for Sleeper activity, and we head in to one of them. As the battleships close to engage the Sleepers, the secondary Guardian pilot and myself crawl along behind. Although it is only occasionally that our DPS boats get out of range of our heavily bonused systems, we still need to take care that it doesn't happen. And my companion Guardian pilot has worked out why our paired ship speeds are different, something that was confusing us recently. My armour rigging skill is slightly higher than his, negating the rig velocity drawback a little. That's a good catch, as we scratched our heads a bit comparing skills previously.

Sleeper combat is smooth enough. Sometimes we roll along like a well-oiled machine, although some grit gets in to the workings in other ways. Whilst the module activation glow works well in the murky inkiness of space, the contrasting glow highlighting which modules are currently activated most effectively, it is not quite as obvious when flying deep in the overly bright bloom of an anomaly. It may not matter too much to ships picking the primary target and shooting, but when the remote repair modules of the Guardian and ECM of the Scorpion need to be actively switched between targets it can make a difference. The bloom can easily swamp the module activation glow, making it difficult to tell which and how many identical modules are active or not.

I draw my viewpoint back tens of kilometres until the glow of the anomaly no longer interacts with the modules on my HUD, but doing so dissociates me from combat rather. It could be possible to include a separate border to each module, but I think I would prefer more dully lit pockets of space, as the sharp contrast between Sleeper anomalies and the rest of space is rather like staring at a sun. The brightness also upsets the impressive nature of ship explosions, masking the colours and smoke of the incandescent debris hurtling in multiple directions. I don't know how I am supposed to grab some good pictures if the whole vista is glowing white.

Whilst mentioning explosions, I think it would be neat if the final ship in any PvE site exploded more cinematically than the others. Little puffs of smoke here and there for frigates is fine and dandy, and battleship explosions can be big and satisfying, but the last ship could signal the end of the engagement with several chained explosions of increasing magnitude. It's the perfect time to be able to sit back in your pod and enjoy the fruits of your firepower. Having the last ship disappear in a puff of smoke that looks no more impressive than breathing out on a cold day is a little anticlimactic. At least I have some salvaging to do! It doesn't take long to loot and salvage the dozen or so wrecks, and we only have time for the one anomaly this evening. We return to the tower to rest for the night.

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