Wednesday, December 31, 2008

My life in EVE - Part 13.

Yesterday was supposed to be my meeting with Roc, but he's come down with bronchitis so we'll reschedule in a week. Went home, logged on and decided to make use of my LP points and upgrade my implants to +4. So off I go to the closest Sebiestor Tribe station...

And I run into a 20-something WT gate camp in Magiko. I never had a chance, and I lost my Hurricane.

I've flown the CSF Hyboria for well over 7 months, and it's served me well. I've upgraded it to a near-full T2 fit, and I've developed a strong connection to her. My corp executor sent me cash to cover all the losses, but the biggest hit is emotional. I really loved that ship, and that feeling isn't something that you can replace easily.

A moment of silence please, for my dearly-departed CSF Hyboria.

...

I'll be playing the EVE hermit for a bit, as many do when faced with the same emotional situation. I'll be sending a JC down to Utopia when the corp says it's a good time, and as far as skills go my first objective is to set up for my Maelstrom in a strong way. I've managed to get a few +4 implants for my new clone, but not a full set yet. Other than that... Xbox360 for a while until my heart mends a bit.

I had a conversation about the walls between the Ushra'Khan and the Tribal Liberation Force. Apparently there's quite a bit of diplomatic effort being made to lure TLF members, which I think is extremely smart. Why don't we just join the TLF ourselves? Foremost is their complete lack of structure, and from there it's a lot of seemingly minor things. We'll need all the forces we can take in, since things in Catch are going to get VERY hairy by this weekend. Apparently the Northern Coalition has a bone to pick with -A-, who were allies about to give us a POS, so we're stuck in the middle.

We did take out a carrier last night though...

o7

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Novel Review: EVE - Empyrean Age

I didn't really get excited about the Empyrean Age expansion initially. I was still very new to the game and was still trying to assimilate. It drew interest only when the video teasers were made public. Now, I'm a big RP fan, and any game calling itself an RPG - online or otherwise - needed to have a solidly-built universe for me to learn about. I knew EVE had that, so the teasers really grabbed me.

The downtime events were gripping to me in a ZOMGWTF sort of way, and the promise of a novel adding detail and layers to these events was an easy sell. I waited only as long as it took to get to Amazon.ca.

After readily devouring the book, I can say that it's not only worthwhile for any EVE fan, but it's actually readable by any science fiction fan. This struck me as the most interesting feature of the work. One would expect many references to aspects of EVE that would require some time in-game or at least on the web, but whatever isn't explained elegantly can be digested as entry-level sci-fi elements. I can hand this off to my wife, mother and friends and not really have to worry about them calling me up with questions.

The book contains many interweaving stories revolving around many major and minor characters. Amarr Empresses with supernatural powers, seemingly-mystical Elders, perverted Chamberlains, honest Presidents and criminal salvagers. This may be seen as overly complex but it's done expertly and never strains one's understanding. The characters come from all 4 races of New Eden. The main story is that of Tibus Heth. Without spoiling too much, Heth's racial fanaticism is used by a shadowy character known only as "The Broker" to promote discord and personal profit. Heth rises from mid-level armour Forge worker to head of the Caldari State. From the moment The Broker takes Heth under his wing, it's clear a collision course with the Gallente Federation is unavoidable.

The book evokes many different emotions. Hate, fear, grief. The gritty darkness of this universe is stark and very much on-display. One-night stands, excessive drug-use, depraved fetishes and nerve-wracking pain. Death is common and even the immortal capsuleers have issues with it.

Many Kudos to Tony Gonzales. It's his first novel and he did a superb job with it. Rarely could I find the strength to put it down for more than a few minutes, going through a hundred pages before I realized I had not blinking in quite a while. I could not read it fast enough, and the feeling of being done was an odd combination of sad and content. That's the sign of a good author who needs to continue upon this path.

Get it.

o7

Monday, December 29, 2008

The sound you hear is that of my computer crashing...

... and that of my heart breaking.

Sunday morning @ 0912 EST is when Minmatar Battleship IV was to finish. 0844 of that same morning is when most of Southern Ontario experienced a massive blackout. After 5 hours of going bonkers over lost training time and the ruination of my near-perfect training record (only a few hours lost in almost one year of gameplay), I turned on my comp to find that I was apparently missing key config files. It was not a surge, just an improper shutdown due to a loss in power. I was pissed about losing a lot of rare porn and Alicia was in tears over the loss of a vast Wicca database she'd been compiling for months. Worst of all... no EVE, of which I've now missed more than 24 hours of training time.

It's our fault for not backing things up when we had the chance, but hindsight is usually 20/20...

I have a friend coming over tonight to help me give the comp a workover and see if a reformat and/or recovery is even possible. Kurtis is a friend who will drop everything for a good friend. I really cherish people like him. Pray we meet some semblance of success.

You really should be able to manage the basics of your character through the main website. I'm talking about skills and evemail, nothing more. Hopefully the new API functionality will include something like thatt, but I really wish I had some sort of option to affect my skills at this point.

In the meantime, we both have books to read (I'm reading a Steampunk anthology and she's on that Eragon series), plus we have our netbook and 360. I finished the EVE novel Saturday morning. Review tomorrow. In the meantime, I highly suggest you go pick it up.

The poll is coming to a close, and I'll be holding on to the two top choices for private vote for project members when we get this thing off the ground.

Meeting the Colonel tomorrow. Wednesday's post will be the next exciting issue of Prano's Journey, so look forward to that.

o7

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Nyx just crashed into Malkalen station.

I spent most of my workday reading. At about 3/4 through the 520-page small-print book, I'm very impressed. It's Tony Gonzales' first novel, and I can see that he has a lot of talent, and perhaps a bright future as a novelist. Full review soon, but expect it to be glowing.

A reminder that there's a poll up, so if you haven't voted yet, PLEASE DO!

I know a lot of people couldn't care less about the fictional news of New Eden, but THIS IS BIG!

I'll probably put in a good number of hours into missioning this weekend. Barry wants to borrow Dead Space, so I need to finish that sometime soon.

Asked for a Fedora for Christmas, and actually got one. I think it's the first time I actually got what I asked for.

Got back late last night and didn't have a chance to update my skill list, but I'll have a full overview for you Monday.

I have My brother-in-law coming over tonight for games. He has a Wii but he's very interested in less-casual titles, and yes, I'm going to show him EVE. I'm going to blow his mind. Pray he gets hooked.

Back to the book.

o7

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Mind-Bomb! Issue #2

Happy (INSERT EVERY SEASONAL FESTIVAL NAME HERE) You everyone on the series of tubes today. I'm at work, and my father was kind enough to give me a ride in this morning, since the wife and I slept over at their place.

Up at the soon-to-be brother-in-law's parents' place last night. It was fun, as I pwned everyone @ Wii Sports. Nobody ruined the evening, but my grandfather and Moses' father really gave it their best shot.

... yeah... like they were fish.

This is the first Christmas morning in my entire life I'm not spending with my family. I really feel awful about it, but there was little I could do. So I want everyone reading this to cherish their family and friends as much as possible to make up for me and everyone else who has to work today.

Now, if you're looking for something more technically useful... HERE.

All I got. Newsfeeds are very quiet today. Still, I hope it's useful.

Take care of yourselves and everyone around you.

o7

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

My life in EVE - Part 12.

I've got 186mill in my pocket and Minmatar battleship IV finishing Sunday morning. next I'll concentrate on getting Large Projectile up to IV, then drones and engineering. I need to get my Maelstrom ready to roll out.

I'm setting a goal for myself to be running lvl.4 missions in my Maelstrom by January's end. I took the CSF Convoy to my corp's armory in Asghatil (only 5 jumps away? I thought it was further...) and did a little pilfering. Mostly stuff for the Convoy herself and the "still officially unnamed" Maelstrom. I'll probably return most of it eventually. Nothing expensive or rare in any case.

I think the biggest change I'll have to deal with will be the switch from short-range autocannons to long-range artillery. Just never done it before. I'm a little more comfortable with drones, but I'm sure I'll pick up the nuances quickly.

I'm about one-fifth of the way through the novel, and I'm really enjoying it. It's actually 4 stories culminating into a final crescendo, which is awesome or read and difficult to write, so as a writer I appreciate it all the more. The characters have layers and have a gritty realism to them. The ethnicities of the 4 races are really out in the forefront, everyone acting and sounding like they should. I'm glad to see that none of my previous fiction has been in contradiction to what I've read thus far, the book being canon.

Should CCP move out of Iceland?
I don't think it's a bad idea, considering the current financial situation in Iceland looks to only get more dire. They have offices in Austin and Shanghai, but it would be a personal dream-come-true if they moved to Canada. They could still call Fanfest the "Party at the top of the world", our ability to weather the global economic crisis is better than any other country's, we have a good IT infrastructure, and the same group that sets up E3 is looking to have a LARGE show in Canada soon.

I'm not sure how much time I'll have to play anything over the next few days, but I don't intend on not blogging at all. It may not be gripping, but I'll try and offer something.

o7

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Prano's Journey #1: Communique with A Colonel.

I live three lives.

The first is that of a COGNet Spacesystems Ltd. Capsuleer. COGN is a very small odd-jobs outfit that pays me reasonably well for my services, which is usually on contract from a larger corp. Everything from courier to garrison to pirate-popping. I'm not getting financially rich by any means, but I'm not a greedy man.

The second is a freedom fighter of the Ushra'Khan, of which COGNet is a member. This brings me into direct conflict with slavers among the less secure systems of New Eden. We find and kill them with extreme prejudice. We force them to stop inflicting suffering upon others, either through lethal or financial tactics. We free the slaves they seek to sell.

The third life often starts where the second one ends. You see, when the slaves are freed, they often are left with nowhere to go and ruined personas. The U'K often takes them in as part of our forces, but I try to help them rebuild themselves as true Minmatar. I help them find peace and purpose at a spiritual level through meditation and learning. I help them find enlightenment when things seem all but lost.

In ancient times, the Prano clan was the centre of the Minmatar's spiritual world. We led our people to a place of inner peace and deeper understanding, beyond the confines of their physical selves. The Amarr took all that away from us. I am the last.

Lately I've been trying to expand my efforts in my third life by traveling throughout the galaxy and seeking out disenfranchised souls. The poor, the ill, the broken. I help them as best I can, and some have begun to seek me out. I make no attempt to hide myself.

A few weeks ago, I decided that the Tribal Liberation Force, a militia created through the efforts of the Elders who trained me, needed to hear what I had to teach. I sent out a message to a prominent officer who would be the least likely to accept my words; the reason being that if I could convince him, others would be more receptive.

Last night, during a meditative session with a destitute Vherokior family I received a communique. Colonel Roc Wieler would hear me out.

the conversation was short and terse, as he made no attempt to hide the fact that he held me in a small amount of suspicion. After we set a time and location, I asked him why he was giving me this chance. he ended the conversation quickly without giving me an answer.

I have a week to prepare myself.

o7

Monday, December 22, 2008

CK's Blog Banter #3: Praise and kudos.

This month's EVE Blog Banter idea comes to us by Roc Wieler of Roc's Ramblings. Roc's asks us to "write a story about a fellow EVE Blogger, or an EVE player whom has inspired you or affected you in some tangible way. After your story, describe why you chose them, and any Holiday wish you have specifically for them".

I've been blogging on-and-off for a few years, and after a turbulent time in my life passed and I found myself with some semblance of stability, I decided to get back to it. Lucky for me I had plenty of stuff to write about, not the least of which was my return to EVE Online. Upon my return to the blogosphere I found MANY talented bloggers who wrote exclusively about EVE, and managed to insert myself into their virtual cult.

Even though there are hundreds of talented EVE bloggers, there are a handful that have made my time among them extra-enjoyable. I'd like to extend to them salutations, thanks and holiday goodwill. The reason I'm mentioning bloggers is because it's these people that made me feel like part of the larger EVE community; a sensation I hold close to my heart.

CrazyKinux could be seen as our leader, and indeed, when I think of what he may look like, I picture a green dude with a huge brain and machiavellian intent. I thank him for his unifying efforts and wish him much success in turning us into his loyal army.

Mynxee
, Shae are both Hellcats in title and attitude, and it really shows in their blogs. Pirates have a strong foothold in the blogosphere, but these two really are thee cream of the crop. Best of luck to their future evil endeavors.

Roc Wieler is a mostly in-character blogger, and I'm constantly amazed at how he can be so prolific and still keep the quality of his work so high. He's also part of several EVE-related side-projects that really should garner him more recognition than it does. Best of luck to him and his dealings. I'm looking forward to having a beer with him soon.

There are dozens more who deserve far more readership than they receive. That's why my blogroll is so long. There are pirates and industrialists and factional warriors. I urge you, gentle reader, in this holiday season to go and read and comment and link to your heart's content. Spread the blogging joy.

Happy Holidays!

Participants:

* CrazyKinux's Musing: Standing on the Shoulders of Giants
* The Wandering Druid of Tranquility: What will your verse be?…
* A Merry Life and A Short One: EVE Blog Banter #3: What Not To Do
* Mad Rant: My Hero
* The Ralpha Dogs: A Greeting Card
* Inner Sanctum of the Ninveah: The Station
* Roc's Ramblings: Blog Banter #3 - PyjamaSam
* Protosolus: EVE: Blog Banter 3 - A Piratical Legend
* Blogging from inside the Pod: The 'Jita Incident'
* Achernar: Citizen Zhang
* Cosmik R5's EVE Blog: Blog Banter: Tribute to an EVE player - Letrange
* Letrange's EVE Blog: Is it December Banter time already?
* Life in Low Sec: EVE Blog Banter #3: Reverend Book
* Sweet Little Bad Girl: Blog Banter #3
* Votrian's EVE Blog: EVE Blog Banter #3 - my influences
* Zen and the Art of Internet Spaceship Maintenance: Blog Banter #3 Ships that pass in the night
* A Mule in EVE: The reawakening
* Jinarre's New Eden: Blog Banter: Inspiration
* The House Theodoulos: EVE Blog Banter #3
* Flashfresh - The Pirate: EVE Blog Banter #3

o7

Friday, December 19, 2008

8.04!

I couldn't play EVE Wednesday night because Barry wanted to co-op on Rainbow 6, so last night I logged on and did as many missions as I could to get my Brutor standings up to 8, allowing me to use a Jump Clone. I had to stay up an extra hour but I finally got it done! Another milestone reached.

I won't be headed back to nullsec just yet. I have a plan on where I want my skills and wallet to be before I send a JC down. Not there yet. Soon. The corpmates and alliance trust me, and I'm feeding the war effort through my taxes without costing them a thing.

Bought the Thermodynamics skillbook @4.5m. Not sure if I'll know when is a good time to overheat a rack, but I guess it's just another skill a capsuleer needs to learn by doing.

Navigation V will be done Sunday night, with a few other smaller skills being trained in the meantime. I'll post an updated skill report this time next week. Not sure what I'll train next, but it'll probably be a longer training cycle, since my EVE time will probably be limited until after the new year. Suggestions?

Sunday also brings the next blog banter from CK and his cabal of loyal blogging zealots. I'll have to write it on Saturday and post it Sunday, since I have to work Sunday.

My hardcover copy of the Empyrean Age novel arrived yesterday, a full 10 days ahead of schedule. 520 pages of really small print. I came. Also bought a steampunk anthology called Extraordinary Engines, and a hardcover copy of FreakAngels vol.1.

Snow balls and launchers are back, but I don't plan on using them. Maybe I can sell them when I get home.

Tonight is more missions and some short-term skill training. As many as I can do before I pass out.

o7

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Douchebag Prayer

Found @ Something About Nano.

Dear Lord

Please bless the douchebag. He knows not what he does. As it is written, please watch out for him and his full sleeve tattoo that probably is written in a foreign language of which he has no linguistic grasp, yet he chooses to continuously tell people that it means something deep and spiritual because it defines who he is. We all know that in no way, shape, or form do the Japanese characters for Strength, Integrity, or Power apply to him but we?ll let him think that.

Oh your Holiness, who watches over us, please take care of our douchiest of douches and their ridiculously waxed eyebrows that make them look like extras in a Richard Greco lookalike contest. Forgive them for they know not what they do. Please redeem them as their false sense of self worth and determination to wear a pop-collared shirt at any expense overwhelms the majority of their thoughts.

Creator of creators, do not let them be judged too critically for the douchebag s love their Puka Shell necklaces, and their oversized Gucci belt buckles that they like to prominently display. Please be kind to them as they march through existence reeking of sleazy cologne and Eau du Date Rape.

Oh gracious God, please look out for the douche as he and his trucker hat lend so much to our wonderful existence. We must thank the Douche for his never-ending need to ask how much bottle service is at bars, regardless of whether or not he is going to be buying a bottle.

Please ensure that their Ed hardy Jacket or Affliction Hoody does not get damaged when they inevitably utter the phrase, ?want to go!?? at the end of their evening. Oh Lord, please if you are kind let all of the douche bag?s frosted hair treatments go over well, so that we may behold hair so spiky that it could make a triceratops vagina jealous.

Dear Divine Creator, if you should so see fit please bless the Douche who is so Tanned, Crayola had to create a new colour called Douche Beige. Look after the douche as he hits on other men?s girlfriends in their weakest/drunkest state, with full acknowledgement that their boyfriends are not around.

Forgive the douche for quoting movies like Scarface, Donnie Brasco, Swingers and Borat to a level that makes one want to seek out and kill Al Pacino, Johnny Depp, / Vince Vaughn, and Sasha Baron Cohen respectively for ever agreeing to those scripts.

Please of heavenly father protect the douche for his heavy desire to inform everyone of his disturbingly deep, even sexual, attraction to terrible eastern European techno music. Please extend this protection to the act of the douche taking 3000 pictures of him and his douchebag girlfriend, hereafter referred to as a Douchegina (pronounced DOOSH-ji-NAH), and telling everybody how hot she is, when its clearly evident that albeit her fake breasts and wanton love of sex is admirable, she intellectually ranks right up there with a sea sponge, and early mammalian life.

Sweet forgiving Lord, please look past the fact that they make sure everyone see how much they tip, or that every once and a while they slip into their tongue of ancestry even if they have never lived there.

Please make sure that their ultra-tight Diesel Shirts NEVER rip, and continuously oh Lord protect the doucehbag?s overly groomed chinstrap beard that makes him look like you are a balding teddy bear, or a high-functioning Down?s syndrome case.

Lord Almighty, take care of the douche especially when he talks about that time he was in South East Asia for two months and how it changed him spiritually, even though we all know all he did was tip Thai Lady boys for seven dollar blowjobs.

Oh Creator extend your protection for the Douche?s action of pulling out their cell phone camera and posing with expensive hyper luxury cars on the side of the street and pretending it?s theirs.

Blessed Lord, please look past the douche bag?s excessive, if not overbearing usage of the word Bro and his need to put gaudy and unnecessary exhaust pipes on his already souped up intro-level sports car.

We ask you this in the name of the Lord

Amen.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Meme goodness.

Got tagged by Kane and Manasi, which makes me feel a little popular. Good thing too, since my ego really needed a little stroke (insert sexual context here).

Rules:
* Link to the original tagger(s), and list these rules on your blog.
* Share 7 facts about myself in the post - some random, some weird.
* Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names and the links to their blogs.
* Let them know they’ve been tagged by leaving a comment on their blogs and/or Twitter.

7 Facts about Me:

#1) I'm Canadian-Italian. First Canadian-born in my family. I'm probably the most patriotic about this country in my family.

#2) I've done some semi-pro journalism in the past, but considering the market and where the industry is going, I decided to keep my writing recreational until I can sell a book or something.

#3) I'm aiming for a career in law enforcement. I want to be part of the line between right and wrong.

#4) I talk about my wife often, but she's technically my fiance. The reason I say wife is because we've been living together for so long that it's really the same thing to us. Only reason we haven't tied the knot officially is lack of money.

#5) I play a lot of games, read a lot of books/comics/journals/manga/newspapers/magazines/blogs, watch a lot of movies/TV/anime/podcasts and listen to a lot of music/talk radio. This blog is about me, not just one aspect of me.

#6) I'm a Pluralist. I believe there are many things to learn from many religions.

#7) I've sought and received psychiatric help. Waste of time.

EXTRA EXTRA EXTRA! Since everyone's been tagged already, I'll give you more facts!

#8) I used to have no sense of humour and no confidence. Then I met Alicia.

#9) I'm a geek. I believe that means something positive and I'm trying to take back the word. When people call me a geek or something along those lines, I thank them for the compliment. The geek shall inherit the Earth.

#10) I love to cook, but I have a horribly small kitchen, so I often do it at my parents' suburb home.

#11) IMHO, professional gaming is a sport. The problems stem from no central leagues, mismanagement of young players and horrible advertisement and event practices.

#12) I can explain ANYTHING (even super robots) with science and make it sounds plausible.

#13) I'm a momma's boy.

#14) All I ever wanted to be is someone's hero.

o7

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Last Son of Prano - Chapter 10.

D-Day minus 1.

Venal
UTZ-7B
Y-4CFK – Planet 1 – Belt 1

“Prano. Is that name supposed to mean something? It's just another slave's name as far as I'm concerned. As for this datacore...” Karo said with a dominative chuckle as he turned his Pilgrim and locked on to Gigaer's Hurricane, “... you'll have to come and get it!”

Gigaer responded in kind by locking on to the Pilgrim and priming his combat systems. The Pilgrim could not match the Hurricane's offensive and defensive potentials, but the Pilgrim was made to cripple its target before pounding it into slag. Gigaer closed the distance between the two craft as quickly as possible so he could bring his 425mm autocannons to bare. Karo grinned. His repair systems had brought his electronic warfare systems back online and to full capacity. He felt like a spider allowing a fly to drift into its web.

The Pilgrim was rocked violently by Gigaer's opening salvos, and just as the Hurricane entered optimum ranges, a flood of exotic energies rushed out of the Pilgrim's emmiters and swallowed the Hurricane in deadly light. System after system malfunctioned and went offline, bringing the Hurricane's violent advance to a complete halt. Targeting systems overloaded and blew out the main relays, leaving him with manual control. Navigation and propulsion struggled futily to keep the ship at speed, but Gigaer was effectively stationary. Trying to reroute systems through each other only delayed the inevitable as his capacitor was being both crippled and sucked dry.

Gigaer's Hurricane was reduced to a floating can as the Pilgrim began its modest assault on the crippled vessel's shields. Normally such an attack would not succeed, but with Gigaer's power systems being put under so much strain, the shields were not recharging, and armour energizing systems were in a similar situation. If Gigaer could route power to his comms, he would have heard Karo cackling madly and proclaiming his Amarrian superiority over his Matari prey. Gigaer's shields began to buckle.

All Gigaer had was life-support, manual control over his turrets, optical sensors and shield emmiters. Gigaer linked his turrets to his sensors and set pointed those at the Pilgrim. Setting that aside for the moment, he routed his shield emmiters directly to his brain through his implants. Dropping into a trance, Gigaer felt the universe through his shields.

He could feel them shudder under the impacts of the Pilgrim's lasers and ripple as wave after wave of exotic energies and frequencies from the Pilgrim's electronic warfare systems distorted them. To Gigaer, it all sounded like two symphonies trying to impose their own sound over each other. Gigaer would have to orchestrate a new song to overcome Karo's overwhelming tune.

In his trance, Gigaer's mind danced among to waves of light and energy, trying to find a way to free himself. His mind raced as he manipulated his shields. It was all such a complex puzzle, and the Pilgrim's sound was becoming more and more deafening. What was left of his shields flickered and flashed as they complied with Gigaer's commands as best they could.

“I am Prano. I am the guiding light of my wayward people. I am the bridge to this world and what lies beyond, to this life and the next. I've come a long way, and I've trained myself hard. Many have sacrificed much so that I may bring my people back from the dark, and I will not let those efforts be in vain. I will not fail my mother, my father, my people and my destiny. Finally, and most certainly, I will not be defeated by the likes of you!”

Waves merged, frequencies coalesced and the sound of resilience boomed from Gigaer's shields, blasting away the dark tones of the Pilgrim and sent them crashing back at Karo. The Pilgrim's electronic warfare systems turned on themselves and began to rip the ship apart. Karo's laughter became seething rage and confusion as his systems began to self-destruct.

“What's happening? What have you done to my ship you mongrel?” Karo screamed over the comms.

“The spirits are punishing you for trying to kill their emissary. You've sinned against forces that make your god's wrath look like the cries of a tantrum-ridden child.” Gigaer responded as he manually aimed and fired his autocannons, still under the mind-expanding effects of the trance. The alpha strike from six massive turrets all hit home, ripping through nearly non-existent shields and thin golden plating, severing the capacitor from its conduits and housing. The Pilgrim lurched and went dark and still.

Gigaer took a few minutes to bring a few key systems online before he moved into range of Karo's ship. Using salvaging manipulators, Gigaer tore into the Pilgrim's hold and extracted the datacore. Gigaer set course towards the gate and warped away, listening to Karo's emergency assistance transmission, which was comprised mainly of raging Amarr curses and incomprehensible screams.

---

D-Day.

Heimatar
Ortner
Rens VII – Moon 17 – Brutor Tribe Bureau

The Hurricane had barely made it into Rens in one piece, having to be towed into dock and told his ship would cost more to repair than it was worth. He left it to the deck crews to strip the ship down for materials and usable components. He'd need a new ship later.

Caldari datacore in hand, Gigaer made his way across the promenade towards a local bar. The Serpent Lounge. His contact was the proprietor there. He'd hand off the datacore and hopefully the contact would have new information for him about what he should do next. Gigaer smiled as he went over his journey thus far. “A tale of four datacores, one from each major empire in the galaxy.” A small laugh escaped him at the thought of being sent after a Jove datacore next.

Gigaer entered the establishment and made his way to the bar. The place was crowded but oddly quiet. Most Minmatar bars were much more lively. He weaved himself passed patrons, who were mostly starring at overhanging vidscreens and talking in hushed tones as newscaster voices spoke loudly and gravely. Gigaer would have liked to know what all the fuss was about but he was far too occupied with finding his contact.

Seliah stood behind the bar, looking up at the screen and preparing a drink. Gigaer stood in front of her and rapped a knuckle on the bar. “It's a fine day for destiny.” he said. That was the first part of a code Gigaer was to use to identify himself to his contact. Seliah was to respond with -

“If you have the stomach for it.” She half-nodded to Gigaer. Seliah was a beautiful Matari woman whose eyes said she's seen far too much and preferred to not speak unless necessary. She was all business. Gigaer produced the datacore, but Seliah only looked at it and smiled grimly. “Good work, Gigaer. But the contents of that datacore no longer matter.”

Gigaer was confused. “Why is that?” he asked as he took back the datacore and placed it in his pack.

Seliah pointed towards the vidscreens, and Gigaer finally looked up to see what all the interest was. The sight of two massive fleets, one Minmatar bearing the insignias of Thukker and Elders, and the other Amarr, flying the flag of Jamyl Sarum, battling furiously over Mekhios, rocked him. Reporters franticly conveyed reports of chaos in all four corners of the galaxy, as well as an attack on CONCORD.

Gigaer would later check the contents of the datacore, and find the Elders plans for the very incursions that were now being executed. “You completed your mission and the plan went forward as expected. You are to be commended.” said Seliah as she handed Gigaer an data disk. Within Gigaer would find a dossier detailing his new life. He'd be a pilot of COGNet Spacesystems Ltd. under his assuming clan name. COGNet was actually a front for an organization known as the Ushra'Khan, an entity that acted outside the law to take down slavers and acted as a sort of dark conscious for the Republic populace, much like the Defiants acted for the Republic establishment.

“Welcome, brother. A new age is beginning.” said Seliah as she moved off to tend to her patrons. Gigaer could only look around to the other Minmatar in the bar. There were many faces that displayed unease and fear. The future was always an uncertain thing to them, but now the uncertainty was taking on the colour of blood.

These are my charges, handed to me by destiny. I must lead them through the dark times ahead and along the path to spiritual enlightenment and harmony. That is my duty and I accept it with all that I am.

Gigaer took a silent oath and walked out of the bar, leaving the newsfeeds and worried souls behind. Every step filled him with more conviction as he made his way to market. He needed a ship, and there was lifetimes of work to be done.

Monday, December 15, 2008

My life in EVE - Part 11.

Saturday 14 hours straight mission running with a little over 30 minutes break for food, bathroom and retina regeneration. I would have done something similar on Sunday, but I instead went with my family to enjoy my favorite yearly family activity: Cutting down the Christmas tree. I look forward to it all year because it's the simplest kind of fun. Much rough-housing to be had as well... still sore. Watched Dark Knight with the folks. My mom was disturbed but had a few geek-gasms during the Batmobile/Bat-Pod scene. I think it's probably my favorite movie of all time at this point.

Anywho, back to EVE.

I started early Saturday morning with about 62 million, and ended up with about 103 million with about another 6 million in sell orders. I'm told this is not a lot. It is a lot for me though, and I don't really care if others can make money faster mining or inventing or pirating. I make it as fast as I can, and the more I work at it the better I'll be in the long-run. I like earning a higher security status. I like earning LP. I like earning standings.

Speaking of standings, I'm inching closer and closer to the point that I'll be able to use a Jump Clone. I won't be sending the Hyboria to Curse though, and I'm using my (still officially unnamed) Maelstrom for lvl.4 missions, so I need a new ship. I want to leave empire with something I can use in both solo and gang ops effectively. I'm thinking T2. At this point I'm not sure how much isk I can spend on it and obviously much skill training is left to be done, but I'm happy to entertain suggestions.

Weapon Upgrades V finishes tonight. Not sure what I'll be training after it, but off the top of my head I'm thinking either navigation or drones.

Speaking of drones, if I want to use them in lvl.4 missions to take care of ships too small and fast for my arties to hit, should I be using large drones or medium?

Tomorrow is the final chapter of Last Son of Prano. I'm pleased to have finished a story, and I'm happy some have liked it. I'm not entirely happy with it, but if I procrastinated too long with it the whole project would have stalled. A writer needs to write. If you're not writing, you're not a writer. I'm not sure what I'll be writing next, but I do want to keep writing. My only regret is how little feedback I got. I get the feeling people are reading (the view counter on the U'K forum is currently at 664), but I find it hard to believe that they have no opinion about it. if you're reading me on Google Reader and don't feel like loading my page to drop a comment, PLEASE feel free to email me at psychediver@gmail.com!

If you'd like to RP with Gigaer live, find me on EVE-Bloggers in-game channel!

Bought my friend's copy of Burnout Paradise from my friend Ben, who's the worst kind of douche... a friendly and intelligent one. Not much time with it so far, but I can't get the song Paradise City out of my head since Saturday. Speaking of friends, I want to clear something up. My friend Barry is not as lame as I make him out to be. Sure, he's a total noob, but he's trying hard to become a trained noob. He has friends other than me, and he's a very skilled chef who makes a killer wonton soup. I look forward to him teaching me how to be a pro cook as I teach him to pwn. To that end, he grabbed a copy of Vegas 2. He's tried EVE before, and I'm trying to get him back into it. The wife is full engrossed in Fable 2 so I may have some good time in EVE during the week.

o7

Friday, December 12, 2008

My life in Eve - Part 10.

So everyone's going nuts about this 4-year moon-mining exploit debacle. The way I see it is:

- The exploits been fixed.
- The players responsible have been punished.
- The market will adapt.
- CCP should get more people looking at the industry-side of things.
- Most importantly... HOW CAN I PROFIT FROM THIS???

When I was thinking about upgrading the CTF Hyboria to T2, I went a little nuts buying mods. Now that I'm a little wiser and actually using the EFT, I know I won't be needing all of them.

The effect this event has on the market will have a ripple-like quality. First the materials in question will skyrocket in price, but eventually this rise in costs will effect the modules these materials are commonly used to create.

Now, I know nothing about moon-mining, but from what I understand the materials were used in all T2 mods, including the ones I now own. People will also be buying up the cheap T2 mods before the sellers get a chance to modify the prices, creating medium-term demand.

My plan is to keep a VERY close eye on the market value of these mods, and when the time is right, sell them for a profit. If I wait too long the market will adjust and I'll be left holding the bag (of mods), sell too soon and I won't make the profit I want. Even post sell orders right now would be a bad idea since it may tip off other sellers early.

I could be right, or I could be talking out of my ass. Again, when it comes to anything industry 'm effectively fucking retarded. Either way I already have the mods and I'm in desperate need of ISK (as usual). Worth a shot. I'll learn more when I know how to pew-pew properly.

Also a little EVE-related, I'm a twtter-er-er... *cough* anywho, you can find me @PsycheDiver.

07

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Mind-Bomb! Issue #1

Welcome to the first installment of Mind-Bomb, a semi-regular collection of news, events and other items I'm reading about. During the course of my day I try to absorb as much news and (educated) opinion as I can. This will be my attempt to share some of what I find interesting with you.

The Thundercats movie is looking to be in good hands. I have high hopes.

Nootropics are going to be a VERY big deal in the coming years, and I think we should have a good set of legal ones we can take alongside our vitamins. What do you think?


It's not the final season yet, but a Battlestar Galactica freak like me can't ignore this fraking awesome content. Maybe a movement should be started to get "frak" used more often in EVE.

As far as indie comics go, I'm really only reading Atomic Robo, which rocks. I should get the guys at One Million Comix to get this in.

Ignatieff should have won this before Dion had a chance to fuck up an already fucked-up party. Let's see where he goes from here. And FYI, suspending parliament to avoid a vote is just as undemocratic as forming a coalition right after an election.


Troy Dixon (T-Bag) from Pure Pwnage died in a car crash last Saturday. I really liked his character and I think it added a lot to the show. I had the good fortune to be in his premiere episode. My heart goes out to his friends, family and fans. R.I.P. Troy.

07

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Last Son of Prano - Chapter 9.

Chapter 9.

D-Day minus 2.

Venal
UTZ-7B
Y-4CFK – 0.5 AUs above star's northern magnetic pole.

The details were quite simple. A Gurista data-thief by the name of Jaynis managed to decrypt some transmissions belonging to the Elders that he came across while scouring the net. He sent a message to an assistant to Shobhena Yoonareyd (Chief of Surveillance at the Ministry of War) named Karo. Jaynis and Karo have had dealings in the past, and Gigaer suspected both were double-agents at some level. Jaynis had somehow managed to convince Karo to meet him at the Gurista Testing Facilities here to make an exchange. One would get information that would make his career, while the other would come into money few Guristas dare dream about.

Gigaer had spent 29 days painstakingly tracking Jaynis' movements, looking for an opportunity to reweave him of his burden. However, Jaynis consumed a large quantity and variety of narcotics on a daily basis and his extreme degrees and variations of psychosis (such as paranoia) served him well, as his security measures were always solid. After all this time stalking, Gigaer was forced to his last option: the day of the deal. He would have to wait until Karo exited the station and moved into another region, then pounce on him and take the information. This added the task of returning soon after and killing Jaynis, due the the possibility he would have made a copy of the data for himself.

Gigaer waited near the magnetic pole of the system's parent star, which obstructed the Guristas' system-wide sensor sweeps from seeing him, but a tight-beam scan directed at the station's port offered him a satisfactory view. The ship he was looking for, a Pilgrim, should pop itself out and head for the gates, beginning its long trek back to Amarr space with all due haste.

Sure enough, after nearly 20 hours of waiting, out came the Pilgrim. Gigaer was about to activate his warp navigation systems to follow when he noticed the Pilgrim was not alone, and was not heading for the gate, but for the one asteroid belt near Y-4CFK I. The companion ship was a Gila, and Gigaer knew it had to be Jaynis. His paranoia must have gotten the better of him again and he decided the station was too crowded a place for such an important deal to be brokered. Better to make the trade where nobody else would be watching. Once they arrived at the belt and settled near a large rock, Gigaer realigned his sensors towards the two craft. At this range, picking up a wide-cast transmission was easy, and Jaynis was probably too tweaked to take that small detail into account.

“Are you finally satisfied? The deal was that I come alone, and I did. All I have to do is wire the funds to any account you want and let you walk away, right? That was the deal we made. All I want is this information you say will make my career. Can we finally make this transfer so I can get out of this God-forsaken place?” spoke the pilot of the Pilgrim. Karo sounded like he was suppressing some frustration, and Gigaer guessed that Jaynis had begun to get on his nerves.

“Only when I'm satisfied you really intend on letting me live. You could have dozens of cloaked ships watching us right now, waiting to kill me once you have what you want.” said the pilot of the Gila, who Gigaer recognized instantly. The nasal, jittery voice of a man constantly about to fly off the handle and into a drug-induced craze. Jaynis didn't cope with stressful situations well, especially when he couldn't just kill the source of his fear.

Gigaer gave his micro warp drive a quick burst then shut everything down that could be easily detected at range. Only his life-support and passive sensors remained active. His Hurricane drifted towards them as Gigaer prepped his systems for a quick restart. Without a cloak, he would drift dark and frictionless towards them, then once he was close enough, reactivate his systems and have them at an instant tactical disadvantage.

“You probably think I'm easy to manipulate, don't you? You think you can just lure me out here so you can kill me and take what's mine?” Jaynis yelled over the comms. His breathing was getting shallower and Gigaer could tell he was about to go into his panic-induced frenzies. Gigaer had witnessed these before during his stalking of the man. Jaynis would pull a weapon and kill everyone around him if his stress-level rose too high, wielding near-superhuman abilities on account of the near-lethal cocktail running through his veins. He'd actually be quite well-off financially, if he didn't have to constantly pay people off when they come looking for compensation for a wrecked establishment or vengeance of some sort. Jaynis' Gila lurched in the direction of the station, attempting to align for warp. At the same time he fired a few random rounds at Karo. Jaynis had not bothered to target the pilgrim, but at this super-close range and zero motion the shots still did moderate damage to Karo's shields. Karo acted quickly and locked down the Gila with a webber and scrambler. The Gila slowed as energy shimmered around its hull as a warp field futilely attempted to form. Jaynis continued to fire but the Pilgrim's shields were too strong for him to punch through.

“You're not going anywhere, Gurista heathen. I won't suffer because you can't control your emotions or your habits. Hand over the data at once or I'll destroy you.” yelled Karo. Jaynis' panic attack was reaching its heights and the only thing coming in over the comms was a lot of unintelligible screaming, moaning and crying. The shimmering around the Gila became more violent as the screaming increased. Gigaer and Karo realized Jaynis was trying to overload his warp drive in a suicidal effort to break free. Gigaer quickly restarted the Hurricane's systems, as Karo would be far too concerned with what was going on in front of him to notice another ship coming in from his flank.

The Gila bucked as its engines were pushed far beyond their limits. Karo dumped extra energy into his restriction systems as his emitters overheated. He continued to yell Amarrian curses as his systems glitches due to feedback, releasing and sending the Gila sprawling into empty space. Seconds later internal explosions tore through Jaynis and his ship, transforming the Gila into a smoldering wreck. Obscenities continued to pour out of the Pilgrim as Karo tried to mitigate the damage done to his own vessel, unaware that the he was still transmitting.

Gigaer was about to remove himself from the scene, satisfied that the data had gone to hell with Jaynis when he noticed a small tractor beam stab into the Gila wreck from the Pilgrim. After a few minutes it pulled out an object the size of a human skull, and Gigaer considered this Amarrian may have odd habits of his own, before he looked closer. A Caldari datacore. No doubt it held the information that brought these three capsuleers together, and now Karo had it. Gigaer could not avoid a confrontation any longer.

Karo was about to head for the station when a voice he didn't recognize came in over his comms, transmitting from a Hurricane bearing down on him at full speed and targeting him with plenty of firepower. “My name is Gigaer, of the clan Prano. You have something that belongs to me.”

Monday, December 8, 2008

My life in Eve - Part 9

I spent pretty much the entire weekend on EVE, expect for sleep and when I needed to visit a friend, which cost me six hours but I got to fart into his kareoke machine with some cool effects... so that was fun.

I ran as many missions as I could. I probably did around 20, and very few gave me much trouble. By trouble I mean being forced to retreat to a station to rep and charge. My Hurricane has a lot of problems hitting frigates-sized targets when it gets webbed, but that's not surprising. Finally got Weapon Upgrades up to the point where I can now run all 6 T2 425mm autocannons, so I grouped them to give me a better alpha and grouped my two Limos heavy launchers as well. I'm starting to see how my missiles have been effected by the speed changes. Heavy missiles can hit small and fast targets, but the damage is close to halved. Maybe I should use those two high slots for vamps instead to improve my cap situation. All in all I made some good money. Mission running can be profitable if you want it to be.

Balance:
ISK a beginning of weekend – 127mill
ISK a end of weekend - 54mill

Expenditures:
115mill for Maelstrom

Bought the Maelstrom from corp, which saved me about 4mill. It's my first Battleship and I can't even fly it yet with my skills, but I'm in no rush. I'm not about to take it out of dock without the skills to back it up. It'll probably be around a month since I want my drones skills up to par for support. This brings me a big step forward in my plans to return to nullsec. Once I got my Strom comfortably running missions I can send a JC back to CL and be a viable asset to my alliance.

Big thanx to Mallagar for the Maelstrom build and Tito for getting it to Empire for me.

Skill-wise, I took the time to copy them all down so I could share them. I'm currently 8 days away from Weapon Upgrades V, which will finally put me over 10 million points. I know there's a lot of work left to be done but if you think something should take priority of if something critical is missing, let me know.

Corporation Management:
Corporation Management Rank 1

Drones:
Amarr Drone Specialization Rank 1
Caldari Drone Specialization Rank 1
Combat Drone Operation Rank 3
Drone Durability Rank 2
Drone Interfacing Rank 2
Drone Navigation Rank 3
Drone Sharpshooting Rank 2
Drones Rank 5
Gallente Drone Specialization Rank 1
Heavy Drone Operation Rank 1
Minmatar Drone Specialization Rank 1
Scout Drone Operation Rank 3

Electronics:
Cloaking Rank 1
Electronic Warfare Rank 2
Electronics Rank 5
Electronics Upgrades Rank 2
Frequency Modulation Rank 1
Long Range Targeting Rank 3
Propulsion Jamming Rank 3
Sensor Linking Rank 1
Signature Analysis Rank 3
Survey Rank 2
Target Painting Rank 1
Targeting Rank 4
Weapon Disruption Rank 1

Engineering:
EM Shield Compensation Rank 2
Energy Emission Systems Rank 3
Energy Grid Upgrades Rank 2
Energy Management Rank 4
Energy Systems Operation Rank 5
Engineering Rank 5
Explosive Shield Compensation Rank 2
Kinetic Shield Compensation Rank 2
Shield Compensation Rank 4
Shield Emission Systems Rank 2
Shield Management Rank 4
Shield Operation Rank 4
Shield Upgrades Rank 3
Tactical Shield Manipulation Rank 3
Thermic Shield Compensation Rank 2

Gunnery:
Controlled Bursts Rank 1
Gunnery Rank 5
Large Projectile Turret Rank 1
Medium Artillery Specialization Rank 2
Medium Autocannon Specialization Rank 3
Medium Projectile Turret Rank 5
Motion Prediction Rank 5
Rapid Firing Rank 4
Sharpshooter Rank 4
Small Artillery Specialization Rank 4
Small Autocannon Specialization Rank 4
Small Hybrid Turret Rank 2
Small Projectile Turret Rank 5
Surgical Strike Rank 3
Trajectory Analysis Rank 4
Weapon Upgrades Rank 4

Industry:
Mining Rank 1

Leadership:
Armoured Warfare Rank 1
Information Warfare Rank 1
Leadership Rank 1
Siege Warfare Rank 1
Skirmish Warfare Rank 1

Learning:
Analytical Mind Rank 5
Clarity Rank 4
Eidetic Memory Rank 4
Empathy Rank 5
Focus Rank 4
Instant Recall Rank 5
Iron Will Rank 5
Learning Rank 5
Logic Rank 4
Presence Rank 4

Mechanic:
Armour Rigging Rank 2
Drones Rigging Rank 1
EM Armour Compensation Rank 2
Explosive Armour Compensation Rank 2
Hull Upgrades Rank 5
Jury Rigging Rank 3
Kinetic Armour Compensation Rank 3
Launcher Rigging Rank 1
Mechanic Rank 5
Projectile Weapon Rigging Rank 1
Remote Armour Repair Systems Rank 2
Repair Systems Rank 5
Shield Rigging Rank 1
Thermic Armour Compensation Rank 3

Missile Launcher Operation:
Heavy Assault Missiles Rank 2
Heavy Missiles Rank 4
Missile Bombardment Rank 3
Missile Launcher Operation Rank 2
Rapid Launch Rank 3
Rockets Rank 3
Standard Missiles Rank 3
Target Navigation Prediction Rank 3
Warhead Upgrades Rank 4

Navigation:
Acceleration Control Rank 4
Afterburner Rank 4
Evasive Maneuvering Rank 4
Fuel Conservation Rank 4
High Speed Maneuvering Rank 3
Navigation Rank 4
Warp Drive Operation Rank 4

Science:
Astrometrics Rank 1
Biology Rank 2
Cybernetics Rank 2
Infomorph Psychology Rank 2
Science Rank 3
Signal Acquisition Rank 1

Social:
Connections Rank 4
Criminal Connections Rank 1
Diplomacy Rank 2
Fast Talk Rank 2
Negotiation Rank 2
Social Rank 4

Spaceship Command:
Battlecruisers Rank 4
Caldari Frigate Rank 1
Destroyers Rank 1
Gallente Frigate Rank 3
Minmatar Battleship Rank 2
Minmatar Cruiser Rank 4
Minmatar Frigate Rank 4
Spaceship Command Rank 5

Trade:
Trade Rank 2


Skillbooks Pending Training:
Interceptors
Astrometric Triangulation
Electronic Attack Ships
Guided Missile Precision
Heavy Missile Specialization
Long Distance Jamming
Covert Ops
Multitasking
Astrometric Pinpointing
Assault Ships
Rocket Specialization
Heavy Assault Ships
Heavy Assault Missile Specialization
Standard Missile Specialization

I'm going to try and keep this momentum up. I don't want ISK to be an issue when I go back to CL, so prep now makes a big difference later. I'm using all of my sell slots and hopefully I'll find a few sales have been made by the time I get home. I'm pretty happy with mineral orders right now so breaking down modules that aren't selling well is a pretty decent option for me at the moment. Doing so helps create a rarity in certain modules, which drives prices up and makes selling better in the future. Simple supply and demand.

07

Friday, December 5, 2008

Comic Impressions - To infinity and beyond.

Warning: This post contains extensive use of the word "douche" and its tangents. You may have an adverse reaction to this post if you are, in fact, a douche. If you experience a reaction, stop reading. If problems persist, consult your physician about getting an acid enema, the removal of that embedded stick or implantation of a spine.

NEW POLL SO VOTE!

I like where Guardians of the Galaxy is going. A few "shocks" and "twists" here and there - mostly for cliffhanger effect - but it's mostly a well-written classic space romp with some great characters and a minimum of existentialism. The last story arc ended with the team fragmenting and going off in smaller groups to pursue their own personal quests. It's an easy and fun read with good quality, but mostly it's trying to be what it is and not what it's not, which is a problem a lot of comics fall into.

Nova continues to grow the relationship between Rider and the Overmind, while putting them both into interesting situations. Richard's emotional state and his duty as Nova Prime has come front and centre as the Overmind begins to rebuild the corp without Richard's consent or consultation. Both are right in their actions, but both are wrong at the same time. I'm interested in where this will go in the next few issues. Hopefully at some point I'll be able to write a good comparison between the Nova Corps and the various DC Lantern Corps, though at the moment there's not enough info. One thing I wish they'd done before starting the reformation of the Novas... change those gods-aweful uniforms.

I'm usually a big fan of the X-titles (even though I cut in and out when the writing gets weak), and I'm really loving X-Force right now, but one thing that's never been right with me is the Cyclops character. Simply put, he's a douche. He used to be a bigger douchebag because he was trying to live in the shadow of Professor X, a truly massive douche-nozzle in his own right. Now Xavier is gone to regain all his douchy memories and Scott is stuck with (what he thinks) is sole custodianship of mutantkind. One would think he's stop being such a douchelord with Xavier gone, but he's douche potentials have only gone up. Compared to his, Emma Frost (TEH HOTNESS!) and even some of the bigger villains come off as people you'd rather have a beer with. That being said, I've always liked Magneto, who I know is going to up to some awesome shit when he returns to the fore. Problem is it'll only make Cyclops that much more of a douche.

I haven't been paying much attention to the Secret Invasion event, and that's to say I'm not paying as much attention as I should. I'm not adverse to large events, but when there are so many titles affected I'd rather just wait for the trades to come out and save myself the hassle. It's not a lack of interest. It's a lack of time and money. I'm sure I'll get around to it. From what I've heard though, it's a really complicated event... perhaps too complicated.

WHAT COMICS ARE YOU READING? HAVE YOU EVER BEEN A FAN OF COMICS? WHAT DID YOU LIKE/NOT LIKE ABOOUT THEM?

Not sure what the weekend brings. EVE-wise, Mechanic V finishes in a little under 14 hours from now and I'll start another base skill right away. I'll probably be running missions if I have any gaming time. Taking a break from Fable 2 and Fallout 3 while I wait for patches. I've been neglecting EVE for a while and I should really get back. Got the wife to read over chapter 10 and it's met her approval. All I need to do is take a final look at it for flow. Maybe a little Gears 2.

I want to post something about the current political situation here in Canada this weekend as well. May take the first steps towards designing the blog's new look, assuming the wife has time. Ordering a few books from Amazon, including the Empyrean Age hardcover and a few Dune hardcovers. I'll post my list of purchases. I like buying from Amazon in large orders because you save on shipping.

Ja.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Fable 2: My Return to Albion

I had the first Fable, and like many of my gaming fellows I was disappointed with the experiencce. It was far too short and not nearly as engaging as a half-decent RPG should be. I had no motivation to advance.

Peter Molyneux
really talked up the first game, which blew up in his face. When he started doing the same for the sequel I reacted with disdain. Why should I be listening to him now? His answer: a dog.

Fable 2 is much like Fable 1, but a few small differences has made it a little more palatable. The story and characters are more engaging now and to some degree that makes you want to progress. Production values have improved in accordance to the current generation's standards, and the dumbness of the first game's mechanics have gotten a little better balanced, though not any deeper.

The dog acts as an interesting companion and can help you in treasure-hunting, missions and combat, but definitely does not induce the kind of heart-swelling that Peter hoped it would. I find it cute when you run and it scampers to keep up though...

The voice of Zoe Wanamaker as Theresa was pretty good, and the rest was decent, though if you can't stand heavy English accents, you will be put off.

All that said, it's a glitchy release, with slowdowns and malfunctioning events almost common (though a patch is supposedly in its final phases).

The combat is extremely simple and not very intuitive. You have 3 paths to combat, Strength (melee, also controls HP), Skill (ranged, controls speed and evasion), and Will (magic, boring because there are far too many spells that do exactly the same thing). Any decent RPGer could figure out how to min-max a character in 5 minutes of reviewing the numbers and getting into a few fights. There's very little in the way of weaknesses and resistences, and what you wear has no armour effect.

There are things like renown (how popular you are), purity (good or evil) and fatness, but while they're all core elements they don't seem to demand your attention at all. Social aspects are front-and-centre, and you can marry, have sex, build a family, own property and busniesses, which is all fine. What I didn't like is how everyone seemed to be bisexual, even when their profiles said otherwise. Trying to seduce the girl in front of me usually had some random male NPC behind me becoming enamored at the same time. Annoying.

Unlike the first game, the style the game world takes this time is very much like the European pioneer eras, complete with flintlocks being the ranged weapon of choice. My problem was that (IMHO) fashion and items were really ugly back then. I would have either stayed fantasy or gone steampunk.

The game is still brutally short, and you can probably completely wreck this game in under 40 hours, which is pathetic for an RPG.

All-in-all it's not a game I'd recommend unless you're a VERY casual gamer, and taking that into account such a gamer would be better off playing something else. RPG-wise, try the .hack//G.U. series.

Unless Fable 3 makes some serious changes, I won't even give it a look.

Ja.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Impressions - Gears of War: Aspho Fields

I'm not just a fan of the Gears of War game series, I'm a fan of the fiction behind it. I like the gritty look and sounds and feel of it. It's not pew, it's grind, and a loud, blood-splattery one at that. I knew eventually they'd expand on it in novel form, but my interest really shot through the roof when I read an interview about the then-just-announced author, Karen Traviss. What stood out was an obvious passion for the game universe and thoughts on how hard it must be to field-strip a lancer (cleaning out the chainsaw bayonet must be a bitch).

I got exactly what I wanted and more. What I wanted was gritty realism, frantic brutality and detailing of the world. What was more was the fact that it almost reads like a World War 2 or Vietnam war book. At no point are you allowed to forget that war is hard and if you want to survive it you have to be harder, which is nearly humanly impossible, so either you shed your humanity or suffer the ever escalating and numbing pain of losing everyone and everything you care about.

The book shifts between two time periods. One is set between the first and second game and has to do with the aftermath of the Lightmass Bomb detonation, a supposed lull in Locust activity and the prospect of rebuilding humanity from almost nothing. The other story has to do with Marcus, Dom and Carlos (Dom's older brother) meeting in school, growing up together and becoming Gears. Together they take part in arguably the most important and historic mission of the Pendulum Wars; Operation Leveler at Aspho Point.

The book switches between stories from chapter to chapter, and by learning of one you add depth to the other, and therefore the game. A new character, Bernie Mataki, who's a great addition and really should be in the next game. She was just as hard (maybe harder) as the rest, but she really epitomized the pain and suffering one must endure in war by adding a sort of female reaction. There were some points where she says "sweetheart" when she drops her emotional armour a little, and she almost comes off as a motherly figure when dealing with Carlos and Delta Squad. I loved her sweetheart moments.

I wrote to Karen Traviss about this and my assumption that Bernie was a reflection on her. She corrected me, saying she gets that a lot from male readers because there are not a lot of women writing warfare fiction, but Bernie is not Karen. I'm not sure if that makes me 100% wrong, but in any case I really appreciate the character and what she adds to the story.

There's also the issue of the Stranded. The games are pretty vague about it but the book brings that situation into stark focus. There are some good lessons to be learned from them.

I cried. I won't tell you at what points, but I will tell you I'm not a crier. I have cried before but it's pretty rare. This book may be fiction, but there's a LOT people can learn about what it takes to be a soldier from this book. I actually feel a little shame that I don't have the personal fortitude to serve, which Karen says is unreasonable of me since I'm on the path to becoming a police officer and that's not something many can do.

If I had one negative opinion the book (and I'm struggling to think of one), it is probably the fact that the wide range of weapons in the games was not really utilized. It was mostly about Lancers (and even there we had no chainsaw duels) and sniper rifles. While we did see a rocket launcher and some new vehicles, I wanted a little more. I think the reason was that there was very little combat with the Locust, and even then it was 99% drones, they wouldn't come across the other weapons.

All in all, it's a great book for all the right reasons and more. It's not a video game book, and you need only look at a synopsis of the first game's story for a few minutes to know everything you need to know. I could recommend this book to anyone, and I'm recommending it to you. I originally thought that the book would cover Marcus' Court-Martial and why he was left in the Slab, but after some thought it will probably be in the third game.

A novel is a great holiday gift.

Ja.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Last Son of Prano - Chapter 8.

Chapter 8.

D-Day minus 31.

He could spend the rest of his life reading, and some part of him admitted he would be content with that.

The room was octangular and very large. It was almost impossible to think that it was in the original plans for this station, as the shape was very irregular compared to the rest of the instillation's design. The floor was white with a vast array of tribal designs, which he learned were there to optimize the occupant's energy flow. The walls were covered in scrolls, each one it its own wooden slot in a vast grid of knowledge that surrounded the space. At the centre of the room was a low round table made of simple wood. There was no chair and the table was so low you had to sit cross-legged on the floor.

Gigaer spent much of his time in this room, absorbing scroll after ancient scroll. Many of his directed lessons were combined with either personal or ship combat. His skill with the kandjal was nearly unmatchable by anyone, and his abilities as a capsuleer were growing rapidly. Admittedly, deducing the finer points of philosophy while trying to keep your shields intact or your head attached was almost impossible at first, but the point was to help Gigaer think along multiple, simultaneous tangents. It was working, but he still enjoyed his time in the library.

There was very rarely anyone else who used the room, and distractions where nowhere to be found. Gigaer had spent entire days in deep study, and sometimes only stopped when someone came to see if he'd eaten or slept in the last 24 hours. Gigaer now wore robes similar to the ones the Elders adorned themselves with, though his were far less dramatic. A white loose-fitting robe and pants held together by a simple cloth belt. He thought it made him look like a cross between a monk and a martial artist. His kandjal displayed traditionally at his side, in a sheath hanging from his belt, decorated with the insignias of his clan, masters and status.

Gigaer's Planeswalker training was nearing completion, to the amazement of his tutors, who insisted that he'd accomplished in less then a year what should have taken five. After learning about the thousands of different spirits and deities, it was merely a matter of focused meditation. Knowledge unlocked all doors for Gigaer, and there was much to learn in this place. Unfortunately Gigaer's new found senses told him the serenity of this place would be gone soon. The storm that Vakor had mentioned in that meeting nearly a year ago, Gigaer could sense it on the horizon. A wall of churning black clouds that obscured his vision. The storm was unavoidable and it was almost upon them. A part of Gigaer feared it, though he could not understand why. He cleared his mind and returned to the scroll before him, sipping at some nearby tea.

The door, which lay directly ahead of Gigaer, opened silently and in shuffled one of Gigaer's attendants. Gigaer had several to see to his needs so he may stay focused on his studies. This one was a young girl who was very slight and usually silent. Gigaer could not remember a time where she looked him in the eyes, though he had done everything he could to make her feel at ease. She closed the door behind her and dropped to her knees, awaiting Gigaer's signal that she may enter and interrupt him. She floated silently over to his right side and whispered into Gigaer's ear a message, then retreated 2 feet from him, again on her knees, expecting instructions. Vakor wished to seem him immediately. Gigaer had not seen Vakor in months, probably due to escalating preparations for whatever the Elders were planning. Gigaer motioned for the attendant girl to put away the small mountain of scrolls he always seemed to create during these sessions. She nodded and began diligently as she always did.

Gigaer arose and shuffled out the door, where Rogi and Vani waited to escort him. They guarded him nearly every minute of every day, and Gigaer had to wonder when they ate or slept. Of course they refused to speak to him or look him in the eye, though unlike the others Gigaer thought these two genuinely feared him, as though he would cast a curse on them if slighted. Gigaer had become used to this prevailing attitude, though it was not easy. Unlike everywhere else in the galaxy, these people knew what the name Prano meant, and they feared and revered it. Gigaer did not acknowledge them or break stride, heading straight for the location Vakor knew he'd want to meet him.

Gigaer entered the room, expecting the same wooden table that had been there for months. Many of Gigaer's academic lessons took place in this room, and Gigaer had become comfortable here. It had become the centre of this station in his mind. This time, however, the table was gone and the shutters on the windows were closed. Gigaer entered and looked around. The lights were dimmed and the walls were covered in shadow. He focused on them and sensed out a familiar aura.

“Come out Eyes. I know you're there.”

Eyes stepped out, arms crossed and smiling in satisfaction. “I heard you could do things like that, but I had to see it for myself.”

Gigaer clasped Eyes' outstretched hand in greeting. Eyes had been teaching him the arts of stealth and subterfuge. Gigaer would never be as good as Eyes, but it was almost impossible to lie to Gigaer anymore. “What's going on here? I expected Vakor.” questioned Gigaer.

Eyes held the smile and led Gigaer to the windows. They opened to reveal a sight that caused a gasp to escape Gigaer's mouth. The ships were gone. The yards were deserted. Gigaer looked at Eyes for answers.

“Plans that were years in the making have been set into motion. Those ships were built for a purpose, and they have set out to perform their duty. Vakor and the rest of the Elders have gone with them to see it done.”

“See what done?”

“I can't tell you that. I'm here only to administer your final test. A mission of the utmost importance. Vakor needs you to retrieve an item and deliver it to his contact.”

Gigaer walked slowly away from the window, trying to calm his raging emotions and focus himself on the reality of his situation. He would probably never see this place or the Elders ever again, and while his training was more or less complete, he was unsure about his path from this point. Still, his master had given him a mission and his honour would not allow him to fail or decline. He looked back at Eyes, waiting for details.

“There's a Caldari spy that has learned of the Elders and their plans. He's a capsuleer with the Guristas and is looking to cash in on his information at a swap with a Amarr Navy Admiral. There's a Hurricane-class Battlecruiser still docked. All the details are in its databanks. If the Amarr get a hold of the Elder's plans, years of effort will be for nothing. It must be stopped.”

Gigaer could always read volumes from Eyes' silence. No words would need be exchanged. They hoped they would encounter each other again, but the future was becoming increasingly turbulent, and neither could say what tomorrow held. They respected each other, and with a quick shared nod, Gigaer ran out of the room towards the docks.

The halls were empty. Every person and piece of equipment had disappeared. The station was lifeless now when it was usually packed with activity and it sent a small chill down Gigaer's spine. This had been his home, after all. Passing the library he was in just recently, he saw the door open and the room bare. The Elders wouldn't have been so rash as to leave such precious items behind. Reaching the docks, Gigaer was shocked that the only two ships left were Gigaer's Hurricane and a Gallente Ares that must belong to Eyes. He ran into the pod bay and stepped into the capsuleer loading chamber. The automated systems here would get him into a pod and the pod into the ship.

Ten minutes later and Gigaer was through pre-flight and away. Gigaer didn't jump to warp right away, as he wanted to say goodbye to his home. He was almost half an AU away when he saw the Ares take off and jump to warp. Seconds later a series of massive explosions began to tear through the deep-space complex, finally coalescing into a mini-nova, vaporizing it. A huge shockwave raced out in all directions, and Gigaer barely had enough time to jump to warp before he was caught in it. His shields were drained to nil just by being too close to the wave.

Gigaer set course for the nearest stargate and began to review the details of his mission. Leaving another home behind him, he wondered if he'd ever find another.

Monday, December 1, 2008

From Albion to Apocolypse, and everything in between.

I was a bad boy again...

I was downtown with Barry and he drifted into a crowded HMV. My stomach began to turn. I could have just told him I'd wait outside but that would have been rude, so I took a deep breath and went in. He browsed and bought nothing. I took the opportunity to keep a promise and grabbed a copy of Fable 2 for the wifey-wife.

I would have stopped then and there but I glimpsed a special edition of Fallout 3, which comes with a bobblehead, artbook and making-of DVD, all in an awesome metal lunchbox. Well worth the extra $10 for a collector of geekdom like me. I also saw the CE for Fable 2, which for the same extra cash comes only with a making-of DVD.

A good indicator if even that could be worth the price is to look at how prominently it's advertised on the packaging. In this case it was almost tucked away, which told be it was not worth it. I'll usually grab a CE just because it's a CE, these days I'm starting to demand more. And no, I never got a chance to buy the Mass Effect CE, and it haunts me to this day.

I've been playing both as much as I could on the weekend, and you'll have my thoughts on them when I've had a few more hours with each. I didn't get to play much EVE, mostly because I was not home much and I had some new games to drool over. I did get some good skill-training done though, and Mechanic V is set to be done a little before midnight Friday night, which should open up a lot for me.

I explained to the wife that I need to get all my "base skills" V'ed out. What i mean by that is all the skills that act as a base within that skill group. I'm sure there's another name for them, but that's what I call them. You know, like the Mechanic skill in the Mechanic section, and Gunnery under Gunnery.

Big shout-out and congrats to Black Claw, who managed to get himself into the vaunted CK Blog Pack. I hope to join him at some point, though I'm worried that since my blog isn't 100% about EVE, I may never make it. I do hope that everyone who's following my blog that also have their own have a link to my blog on their page via that "blogs I'm following" gadget or some other function. I display all the blogs I'm following in an effort to spread the love as best I can.

Tomorrow is the next chapter of Last Son of Prano, and I'm going to ask the wife to read over my draft of chapter 10 and let me know what she thinks. As a non-EVEer but someone loosely familiar with the mythos, she's perfect for keeping this story grounded in solid story-telling.

I was unable to get Intron Depot 3 back from Kurtis because I was too strapped for time, but I managed to pull up some scans on the net for her to start with. She's already grabbing some new Photoshop tools.

Finished the Gears of War novel. GREAT book. Reads like a World War story. I enjoyed it so much I'm writing an e-mail to the author today. I think people are being a little hard on the script in Gears 2, but these are soldiers, not poets. They're hard and tired, and it should show. It could have been a lot better, but I don't think it was terrible in general. Reading the book really helps to fill in a lot of the blanks and adds MANY layers to the characters. I look forward to more. I'll give you my full impressions Wednesday, and some comic book thoughts Thursday. Thoughts on Fable 2 and Fallout 3 on Friday. Also need to figure a new poll topic.

Ja.