Citadel: Would I build one?

Once upon a time in a land far, far away I sat in a Frigate and watched as an egg was hatched and blossomed into an Outpost Station in Providence. It is an event that I have only witnessed twice in my years of playing Eve and I still remember it. I'll probably never forget it.

I suspect that such an event is increasingly rare. Only one Outpost Station can be built in each Sov Space system and they cannot be removed. This puts some serious limits on how many you need. I know we had too many in Providence.

But now CCP comes along and has the audacity to whoop ass on some totally new and kind of amazing structure possibilities. Along with drastic and game-changing changes to Sov mechanics - comes the first of Player built structures. Only the beginning of what seems to be an almost endless stream of new things. All of which most likely ends with us building our own Star Gates.

Wowzer. Color this old Pirate impressed.

Just yesterday I wrote a post in which I stated that one of the keys to being a Pirate in Eve is not owning anything static. Static ownership means defending, feeding, caring for and otherwise being tied down to something. That thing up there is certainly a static piece of property. And the really big ones are going to be super expensive. But, and here is the part where I lose my ever-loving mind, if we can build one... I want one.

It doesn't make any sense. I certainly don't need one. But it would just be so super awesome to have one! I admit it. And yes, I may lose my Pirate Card because of it, so be it. The whole idea is so cool it won't matter. And yes, most likely I'd have our Alliance build one and own it, so technically it wouldn't be "owned" by Stay Frosty. So we could keep our Pirate Cards. But still, that is just a technicality.

If you haven't guessed by now I really like the idea of players being able to build their own things. The more control players have in their hands the better it is for Eve. This is one of the foundational points upon which all of Eve is built. Player control. The more we have the more like a Sandbox Eve truly becomes. And that is good for everyone.

Of course we have a lot to learn about how this will all happen. But the first steps are already under way and next week we all take a giant step into a brave new world.

Plus, you can blow these things up!! Oh my God!! And they have weapons?!

It feels a little like Christmas doesn't it?




Yarr, what be Piracy?


I took three days off from blogging and what you see in the image above happened.

My esteemed fellow blogger Johnny Twelvebore recently wrote a post about what Piracy meant to him. For some strange reason human beings feel an odd need to label everything, as if all human activity, abilities, and essence needed to be packaged into neat little boxes. I have spent my entire life fighting such labels, both personally and professionally. And I'm here to tell you I have made zero progress. It is like beating your head against a brick wall. (You'll just have to trust me when I say I've been fighting this fight my entire life, those of you that know some of my history may appreciate the truth of this. I don't have the time to educate the rest of you right now.)

Inside of Eve, labels are just as silly. I personally cringe when someone tries to stick a post-it-note on my forehead inside of Eve. Or on anyone else. All we have a right to label is "actions", not intent. Actions are a provable element and represent data that can be shared almost immediately. I see a ship fitted with WCS and I immediately and with some justification, can make relevant observations regarding the user. These assumptions may be wrong-headed in the sum total of that person's existence, but they are legit observations in the moment. The ship did indeed have WCS fitted, so that person is someone that uses WCS in a combat based space simulation. Case closed. Beyond that I make no judgements, I'm sure they are nice to their Mom and love kittens in the real world.

People have been trying to label Pirates for years. And I've spent my fair share of time on this blog writing about what piracy means to me. As in real life, I've actually done something about it and started a Pirate Corporation based entirely on what I believe "piracy" is and isn't. Putting your money where your mouth is, in other words. So I'm going to tell you what I think Piracy is, and is not, inside of Eve. This will not make some people happy. I can't help that. Some people are going to disagree with me, and that is fine. I'm not trying to get everyone to agree with me, in order to do so means I would have to write crap that had no point-of-view and I refuse to do that. This is my opinion. My opinion is awesome, which is why I make the big bucks.

A Pirate lives by a Code. A Code that is first and foremost their own and that secondarily fits within a larger Code of the group to which they belong. In our case the Stay Frosty Code consists of only two elements, we honor all agreements (primarily 1v1s and Ransoms, but our word is our bond) and we take no action that harms our own. Pretty simple stuff, but inside of that context there are hundreds of individual codes that our players adhere to. Each to his or her own. A Pirate makes no judgements on how his fellow mates conduct themselves within the larger context of the group Code. Our pilots are free to load whatever goddamn ammo they want in their guns or missile bays. Or whatever else they feel like doing.

A Pirate fights against the odds. True pirates do not form large groups, this is anathema to the entire concept of piracy. Piracy is primarily a hit and run action that limits the exposure of assets to loss. A Pirate works hard for his or her isk and knows that protecting that investment is important - but it is not the primary consideration. Large fleets run contrary to that philosophy and a pirate avoids those. A Pirate is less concerned with "up-shipping" his target to death than he is about out-playing the target. Less isk invested means a larger return on that investment. Killing Cruisers with Frigates is a good investment. Killing Cruisers with Battleships is not. "Up-shipping" for the sake of a win is not piracy. It might be PvP, but even that is questionable. (In general terms "Fleet" based PvP means you are tied to investments beyond the individual, "ownership" is not piracy. Anyone that has static investments to protect cannot be considered a pirate. Tortuga can burn to the ground for all we care, we'll just base somewhere else thank you.)

In other words, the more social organization the less piracy.

A Pirate makes a significant portion of his or her isk from the act of piracy. Securing assets that did not originally belong to you is the basis of piracy. Loot in other words. The other day I ran out of Hobgoblins for the first time in over two years. I can't remember the last time I had to buy ammo, my enemies supply those things for me. Until recently all the faction mods I used in-game came from exploded assets. (Even I can't live 100% from loots however, the loot fairy just isn't that nice to us.) Asset acquisition is an important element of what makes a Pirate tick. A Pirate will often get into danger looting wrecks, or be exploded with a cargo full of loot. It is almost impossible in today's Eve to live like this exclusively, but a Pirate does the best that they can.

And finally the Element X of what makes a Pirate a Pirate. This one is harder to define, but it is what separates the pretenders from the adherents. A sense of daring-do, of rum infused fun, of black-humor, of death-defying feats, of ne'er-do-well tomfoolery, of good fights shared in local, of laughing in the face of danger, of rushing to a mates aid even when you know they are doomed, of helping an enemy learn from their mistakes, of saving the women and children, the extra thing that makes a Pirate different from the other PvPers in space. Pirates don't commit piracy because they are evil, and this is a common misconception. Pirates commit piracy because they can't live under the rules, because they've fallen on hard times, because they are fighting injustice, because they might very well be insane.

I just eliminated about 90% of the false Pirates in Eve. Maybe 75%, hard to say. But most of the groups that go by the label are not actually Pirates, it takes more than living in Low Sec to make you a Pirate. Heck, sometimes I'm not even a Pirate. But the majority of the time I am and have been for a long, long time. To the other groups, nothing wrong with being what you are. And I make no judgements either way. Carry on. I refuse to attempt to label you.

Yarr!



Misc

Just a few of the many projects I've been working on lately.
I recently re-designed the logo for Cap Stable.

A "Doodle" I did this morning in about ten minutes for the Slack Creatives Channel

Alliance logo designs for Chribba's two Alliances, approved by CCP


A Typhoon Contrast drawing I did for Nashh, he is going to add some graphics.

Still slowly working my way thru the ever growing pile of projects that need attention. If you are already on the list, please be patient and hang in there. I will eventually get to you.








Mrs Javix' Journal


Inspired by our recent trip to Iceland, and Eve Fanfest, my wife recently subbed her first account and began her journey to becoming an ebil pirate. Every so often she'll stop by and let us know how she is doing.


Why you should play EVE with your partner/why your partner should play EVE with you.

I wanted to take some time to point out some reasons why I think l you should be playing EVE with your significant other. Judging by comments on previous posts there are some folks on the fence, maybe others who have thought about it but just aren't there, and then those that well maybe it just ain't never gonna happen. I thought about playing EVE for a very long time before I actually committed to it. I knew after years of watching Rixx play that it is a huge investment of time, and then there is all of the so-called "drama", and I have witnessed all of that. But here's the thing, I believe it is worth it. Here's why:

1. There are tons of sources for information on how to play EVE, some really great sources. But IMO there is nothing better than asking someone you trust, face to face, what the heck is a Plex (or whatever)? Sometimes it's more helpful to have someone who knows you explain these things to you in person. This is also a good lesson for the more experienced players to think about their knowledge of the game. Maybe there are areas you never bothered to learn much about, maybe it is time to start thinking more about those areas and how they could improve your gameplay. The only downside to having Rixx around to ask, is sometimes he responds with: check out such and such post on my blog. Which is usually a good excuse for me to make an obscene gesture at him. I have the maturity of a child sometimes :)

2. It is an activity you can do together. I will be the first to admit that there have been times where EVE was holding certain things up and I wanted to bash the computer with a baseball bat. I have things I would like to be doing too ya know!!! But those feelings typically stemmed from other issues and not the game itself. For us, it's a continuum of crazy kids and a psycho ex-wife who will not let things go. So there have been times over the years where it was far easier to complain about time spent playing a game then it was to say I am super stressed about our lives and I want to be an optimist but holy crap this is impossible. So I joined EVE so that I could come home from work, do the stuff that needs doing, get kids to bed, so I can blow stuff up in space for a few hours at night. The best part of this has been that Rixx is so excited that I am playing EVE, it is so much easier to pull him away to carry a load of laundry, deal with some disgusting pet/kids mess, or drive a kid somewhere. If we pool our resources we can both play EVE tonight!!!

3. You can find your own in-game interests and still enjoy the same game together-ish. There are a multitude of options and journeys within the EVE world. So if you think that you might hate what your partner does, go find something else in-game to get involved with, heck maybe blow each other up! No, that's not a threat to blow up Rixx. (Or is it?)

There is something for everyone in EVE. And if you both play you can probably buy yourself more EVE time, more understanding, and of course more fun. Now back to more skill training so I can blow up Rixx someday...


From Rixx:  I'd like to add that in the time since she wrote the above, and with a little over 2m skill points to her name, she has already participated in her first PvP kills with me. We are slowly moving her away from High Sec ratting and into the dark corners of Low Sec space. She's been dipping her toe in from time to time already, just to get the feel of the place and has been blobbed already. So it was time for her to experience the other side of that coin.

The other night as we were about to log off for the evening I spotted a Cyno ship on another station in Ish. So I quickly grabbed a big ship and warped over to get point and aggro on it. She was in a Merlin so I knew the station guns would shred it unless I was primary. So I had her warp over and explode the Ibis herself.  While that is a cheesy kill, it was a good first step and provided some much needed experience with certain aspects of the game. A good lesson.

Then, last night, I decided to start teaching her about Plex Mechanics and hunting prey. We spent some time traveling and making bookmarks, and then I used my Wife as bait. Yes, I have no shame. Blood and fire is the only way to learn. It took about 5 seconds for the first person to take the bait and soon we were both engaged by a Comet and an Enyo. It was a good fight and she even lived thru it!  For good measure we also managed to catch and dispatch a Thrasher before it got late.

And yes, my Wife had the shakes. I think she has the PvP bug bad.




Me & My Pony



Lately I've been working out some things here in these pages, openly, publicly, and with great debate. Often in the midst of a harsh word or two. All of which I enjoy immensely. But it does, at least from my perspective, tend to cast my readers into a narrow focus. Much like the horse in the image above this post. It is easy to become focused, to wear blinders, to stop seeing the forest for those damn trees.

A lot of this springs out of the very nature of what I do here. I write a lot. Almost every single day. It can often be challenging each morning, in the time between the first set of kids going off to school and the second set about forty minutes later - which is typically my post writing time of the day - to not only figure out "what" I'm going to write but also actually write it. Frankly I'm surprised, more than anyone, that I'm still doing it. That is a lot of words about Eve over the past six years.

The other challenge stems from the natural turn-over in readers. New people come along and long-time readers sometimes slide away. This is challenging for me. Not everyone is going to take the time to dig back thru the archives and catch up to the narrative I've been building on. Every once in awhile, like today, I have to stop and ponder a bit on the larger issues. To re-cast the narrative a bit. To help put things back into focus. To take the blinders off. At least to widen the view a tad more.

So let's do that today.

First of all I am Eve's biggest fan. I love this crazy game and the people that play it. I enjoy the larger community and being a part of the force that helps to drive interest in, activity for, and advocacy of Eve. No matter the haters, the thieves, the smack-talkers in local, the "know-betters", no matter what negativity might be thrown in my direction - I intend to keep at it. I fully and 110% support every single type of play-style that Eve has to offer and your right to play this game exactly the way you want to play it. I would never in a gazillion years try to dictate or force anyone to play Eve any other way, than the way they want. I have my play-style, developed over seven long years to be perfectly suited for me, and you have yours. Which is perfect.

But this is my platform. Other people can have their own platforms. I also encourage that and I have since day one. But here, on this platform, you are getting me and no one else. So I'm going to promote my own beliefs, my own opinions, my own thoughts, desires, challenges, my own story inside and outside of Eve -as it develops. That is all I can do. Sometimes I will even stir pots right here in front of you. I like to poke the ants nest and see what happens. I've always been like that and I'm not going to stop.

With that in mind I am Pro-Low Sec. More than that even, I am Pro Pirate. Pro Solo and Small Gang. Because that is the play-style that I choose to play. People often misunderstand that perspective and see it as a position that is in opposition to other play-styles. Nothing could be further from the truth. Nothing in Eve exists within a vacuum and, as I said above, all other forms of play within New Eden are equally important. To the game and to me. I truly do believe that. But honestly, the pirate play-style is the best one :)

Based on lessons learned during these years of playing Eve and flying all over New Eden, experiencing different places and play - over the last two years I've also worked my butt off building my own Corporation and Alliance. So, naturally, I tend to believe it is the best place to play in all of New Eden. I am the leader of Stay Frosty and A Band Apart and I am going to talk about them here in these pages. Promote them, discuss them, and generally be their biggest fan. Cause they are an amazing, awesome, and extremely great bunch of people to play Eve with.

And then, every once in awhile, you get a free wallpaper or other piece of art, video or whatnot. It is a pretty great deal when you think about it.

I work hard at this. I do it because I love it. Because it keeps me busy and I've always been like that, I have to stay busy. It is my nature. I can't stop. So I hope that helps cast things in a bit of perspective for you. I appreciate every single one of my readers, those that comment, and those that read and move along. I do this every day for you. And for me. And for Eve.

Thanks for taking the time to read. I hope you keep coming back.




Combat Recons



So last night I sat down with Sard Caid and Bocci Sammich to discuss the current state of Combat Recons in Eve. Primarily from a Low Sec perspective. This discussion sprang out of yesterday's post and the subsequent back and forth on Tweetfleet.

For those of you that don't have the time to slogg thru an hour long discussion, I'm going to try and recap. Essentially we are all wondering, now that several months have passed, if the recent d-scan immunity change to the Combat Recon ships is working or not working. The Rook, the Curse, the Huginn and the Lachesis no longer show up on d-scan. This change has primarily resulted in them being used to hide inside of plex in Faction Warfare space and catch ships warping in on them.

Is this a good thing or not?

I'm just going to tell you what I think. The change feels tacked on, a desperate attempt to give a squeezed chip class a defining role without much thought given to the consequences. As I wrote on the day of the change, I had some reservations. Now, four months later, it seems my concerns were justified. Combat Recons haven't suddenly become a plague or anything, but they also haven't become an essential part of fleets either. Instead we are primarily seeing them parked inside Medium and Large Plex with a bait ship. Last weekend I saw three of these Recon Camps in three Systems. Last night someone had two of them set up in next door Systems.

Not the end of the world, as usual we'll all figure out a way to blow them up real good. That isn't the point. The point is, does the ship class deserve better? And what does any of this have to do with Reconnaissance?

Out of last night's discussion some good ideas came up:

• Warp Speed. If these are indeed Combat Recons why not give them a slight boost to Warp Speed? Right now they are right along side other Cruisers, a slight bump would allow them to arrive on field ahead of the fleet. Y'know, to recon.

• D-Scan Immunity Timer. What if the immunity to d-scan was a timer based action built into the ship? Subject to normal skill levels and counters from other players? Interesting idea, anything that adds an element of player control is a good thing in my opinion.

• Scanner Countermeasures. Instead of being invisible what if Combat Recons could scramble d-scanners and provide false intel to other players? I've also found it strange that our d-scanners are all knowing and instantly responsive tech without countermeasure. Maybe it is time to start thinking about ways we can affect them?

• Tandem Effects. Other than Mindlinks, right now we don't have any specific ship classes that work directly in tandem with other ship classes. What if Combat Recons worked in Tandem with BC and BS Classes to provide an immediate benefit when on grid together? This would be a new way to think about ships flying together, but it might be enough to give both ship classes a boost. Each race could have a different bonus for example.

As more and more ships get added to Eve more and more ships will be pushed to the boundary. Perhaps it is time to start thinking differently about some of the ships we already have, instead of adding more?  Despite years of balancing and re-balancing there remain ships that rarely see use. (I'd personally rather see more new ships AND a re-thinking of certain ship roles, why can't we have both?)

What are your thoughts?



Rough Weekend

Close Call Wallpaper
Click to download various sizes (1920x1080)

The above wallpaper is the first of the custom wallpapers requested by donors after Friday's post. In this case the donor wanted one featuring the Catalyst and Mega, "the rest is up to you" special. Which was funny since I already had the Catalyst done, it was one of three Cats I did back when I was trying to figure out the poster version. The donation offer still stands by the way, we've raised about 24b isk since Friday. So thanks again to all of our supporters. You are all much appreciated, as always. I have always considered myself extremely lucky to have such a great community support group behind me, you guys always come thru on events, specials, and other requests. I couldn't do nearly as much without you. And I know it. I never take you for granted is what I'm trying to say.

****

This weekend saw the fully-realized birth of a growing class of lazy PvP in Low Sec - the Recon Baiters. While I warned of this waaaay back when Recons were removed from d-scan, up until this weekend the use of this new mechanic was rather limited and sporadic. It is now a full-blown monkey, much like Instalock Gate Camps. Yesterday within a seven or eight jump radius of Ishomilken we had no less than three fully functioning lazy-ass Recon-Bait gangs up and running around us.

For those of you that do not yet have the pleasure, let me explain the concept. As you may know we have Novice, Small, Medium and Large FW Plexes. Each comes with its own various expectation regarding content, something you get used to the longer you work around them. Lately we've started to see T1 Frigates hanging out in Medium sized plex, often with others in local. This is typically a rare thing and a bit unusual. In a busy local, T1 Frigs tend to stay in Novice and Small plex for safety. So what's going on? Well they aren't alone in there obviously. They also have a Sebo'd Rook and a Curse waiting with them.

Now, don't get me wrong here. I've certainly used the invisibility of the Recons to my advantage as well. Often in an attempt to turn the tables on these PvP farmers, we almost got one of them on Saturday! So close. I'll also use Insta-Locking ships to catch targets, but I've never used it to Gate Camp. Same type of thing. If I'm in a plex with a Recon its only because I was chasing someone else and you have extremely bad timing. It happens.

So let's add yet another nail in the coffin of Solo.

As if our lives weren't difficult enough already, now we have to pause and wonder if that potential target is alone or not. And I say this with the caveat that I have yet to be caught by a single one of these traps. I've flown into a bunch, but always manage to get away before they lock me. So far. I know a lot of people that haven't been as lucky.

Nothing teaches you just how hard Solo is these days as trying to do it on a weekend. Links are everywhere, gangs are roaming, everyone is bringing out the bling, the weekend warriors are even more risk averse than normal and the pressure to put as much into a short play-time is high. Weekends are rough on Solo pilots.

Look, Solo is supposed to be hard. It is, possibly, the hardest thing there is. And that's fine with me. I enjoy the challenge and my play-style is entirely built around it. But I am a rare exception and I worry about others who may not be as lucky as I am. We shall have to wait and see what this Recon Baiting brings us as time moves along, but it has the potential to be a rather large blow to an already struggling niche.

Until then we will continue to hunt them down and make it difficult for them.



AT Title Sponsors & Custom Wallpapers

How can you get a custom illustrated wallpaper with your favorite ship featured?!?

A Band Apart intends to compete in this year's Alliance Tournament. This will be our first time competing as we are barely over a year old. As you all know competition is extremely expensive and for a young, non-Null based Alliance like ours, the commitment is extraordinary. And while we can probably manage on our own, numbers like 65b isk to participate are scary. Few of us manage to keep our wallets above zero most of the time.

So I thought, why not have some fun with this and offer my loyal readers a chance to not only help us and be part of our effort, but also get some cool one-of-a-kind custom swag? So for the duration of this effort anyone that donates more than 1b isk to Stay Frosty in-game and writes me an email at rixxjavix@gmail.com with confirmation and details regarding the ship they'd like to have made into a wallpaper (along with any specific requests to size, etc.) will receive their request as soon as possible.

The window for this opportunity will be open until the end of June. Depending on the response, please be patient, but all donations will be honored and each donator will receive a wallpaper if they request one.

In addition, anyone that donates 10b or more to Stay Frosty will become a Title Sponsor. Not only will you also receive a custom wallpaper, but your name or the name of your Corporation will be prominently mentioned in every AT oriented post between then and the end of the AT. Which, let's face it, will be a lot of posts. I'll probably even create an awesome graphic for it that will head each post. So be sure to also let me know how you'd like that support to read.

This opportunity is open to anyone. Limit one custom wallpaper per donation. Each donation will go specifically toward the AT Tournament and will be a huge step in helping our small Alliance compete. You'll also have my eternal gratitude and thanks, for whatever that might be worth.

This is a unique and one-time only offer, and a great way to feel a part of something. Thanks ahead of time, I know I speak for everyone in ABA when I say thank you for your continued support. It means a lot to us all.

Onward and Upward.

PS: And no, I can't give you print quality posters. Just wallpapers.



Again with the WCS

I'd like to point out that it isn't me this time. Kirith started up with the WCS talk and now gamerchick has posted a new write-up about it.

Even I am getting tired of this.

Let's go thru this step by step and I'll use numbers and make it bold, so it is easy to follow along:

1. Rixx doesn't care about WCS. Use them or don't use them, he doesn't care.

2. As a blogger I created the "Anti-WCS" campaign to shame those that choose to use them in Low Sec combat situations. And have fun at their expense. Cause they are funny. I'm going to keep doing that.

3. I never considered an actual "ban" of WCS as a module. I do believe they should only be used on transports and industrial non-combat ships, but that's me.

4. I love Faction Warfare and want it to be a great place for people to play Eve.

5. No one "needs" WCS. Like all of us, being aligned and using d-scan is the key to avoiding combat you don't want. Learn it. Live it. Use it.


So I hope that clears things up. I know it won't. But that is no reason for me to stop trying. Sanity and intelligence are my only defense against the horde. People tend to put you in a box and stop listening to what you are actually saying. I understand this, but it doesn't mean I won't keep trying.

And I have another piece of news I'll share, which I've also said before. Those CCP'ers I spoke to at Fanfest happen to agree with me. FW is currently not optimal and is in need of some adjustments. This will happen eventually, although probably not until after Null Sov is dealt with. Entosis links, Battlecruiser sized plex, and other changes are probably coming our way. Many of these changes will indeed affect FW, Pirates, and all of Low Sec. Including those people that use WCS on their combat ships. Masterplan and I specifically had a nice long intelligent chat about the module itself and changes that could easily be made to make it work more better. And not once during any of these conversations did I ask for them to be banned. Not once. Fozzie even made a joke about that.

Why? Because I don't want them to be banned. Duh.

Don't get me wrong, Eve would be so much better if they just disappeared. Poof, gonzo! Woot! But let's be realistic and admit that isn't going to happen, nor did I ever think it was. Although it should. Seriously. (This is a great example of my Pirate and my Blogger having a conversation.)

The inane will continue to accuse me of trying to "force" them to play Eve the way I want them to play. This is the furthest thing from the actual truth. Please feel free to play the way you want, I can't force you to do anything. Nor would I want to. However you feel, you must also face the facts. Eve is a game. A game with rules. Rules that we must all follow. The only people who can force you to play and follow those rules is CCP. No matter how many drums I beat, I'lll never have that kind of power. Sorry. I wish it was different. (Not really)

The funny thing is, Kirith and Susan and everyone else I've talked to about this - actually agree. I can't begin to tell you how many conversations at Fanfest ended the same way, with agreement. So many people started with the assumption that I wanted to ban WCS and by the end realized that we really all agree on the basic tenets of the argument. How about that?

Things are broken. Things need fixed. See how easy that was?



UltraHD Slicer Wallpaper

UltraNAKED-Slicer
click to download various sizes

Over the past week or so I've been designing what I hope will be the next four posters in the Art Print Series line. (Fingers crossed that the first set sells well enough to warrant more!) In light of that I've been trying to get back into the swing of things with the recent Crucifier, Crow and now the Slicer drawings. I'm never satisfied with my work and always want to keep improving and doing better at it. I'm trying new things, introducing some additional details and shadings in an attempt to make these even more better than before.

A huge shout-out to my friend t'amber who has provided some much needed tools that allow me to get the kind and variety of reference material I desperately need to make these drawings happen. Without him these would take much, much longer to produce and there are parts of ships that I might never even see.

In the meantime, here is another free wallpaper you can add to your collection. Enjoy!



AT Tournament

A Band Apart is only a tad over a year old, this time last year we had only recently formed and participation in the Alliance Tournament seemed like a little too much to soon. I've yet to be in an AT even though this will be the 13th running and my 7th year of playing. And that ain't right. So we've decided that this will be our first year of participation in the AT. Or, at least, that is the plan.

Deciding to participate is a huge commitment. For us it is rather monumental. I'd say we are right on the cusp of it being insanely impossible. Let's be realistic here. We're barely over a year old and we are primarily composed of crazy, independent-minded, pirates. We do not have a sturdy infrastructure built on a tax-based, moon-goo, POCO owning, Cap Building, system of Ship Replacement Programs and high-energy returns on investment programs. We don't got that. Our tax base is zero. We also don't have thousands of players that can help support such an effort. We also don't got that neither.

Our experience in such things is rather limited to say the least. We did win one match in the last NEO Tournament. Which, you have to admit, was memorable to say the least:




I still have a hard time watching my Mach explode. If you are curious about what happened, which I believe I've said before, two things led to its loss. The first was that, despite what Fozzie says in the video, it was taking drone damage and cruise missile damage the entire time. And second, I simply ran out of charges. My cargo bay was crammed with as many charges and ammo as possible when we started and I simply ran out. Nothing much more to it than that, constant damage and suddenly running out of cap charges. It was so close, one more cap charge would have saved it. Sigh.

So, do I think we have a shot at winning the AT? lolz. We are incredible long-shots by any measure. Obviously. But you have to start somewhere and while our goal is to win, why else play, more importantly our desire has to simply be to do well and have as good of a showing as we can. To be prepared, have fun and see what happens.

Should be interesting.



5,000 Kills


Yesterday according to Battleclinic, which I know is closer to being accurate of my totals than the other kill-boards, I passed 5,000 kills. 5,006 as of this morning. Truthfully who knows for sure? The various kill-boards vary by as much as several hundred kills, or more in the case of zKill (since they went bizarre and invalidated years worth of data, apparently I spent years in Null Sec doing nothing).  Whatever, as I've said many times before I don't play for kill-board stats - they are simply a journal of activity. So we'll go with the one that remembers those years spent in Null.

I decided to go "throwback" yesterday and fly the ship I started the game with back in late 2008 - the Merlin. The Merlin lasted one fight before exploding under me, so that was 4,999. I then decided to mark the milestone by flying the ship I enjoy more than any other, so I recorded the 5,000th kill flying the Daredevil. I sent the guy 5,000 isk to mark  the event. And a Vexor with my Garmur. After that I flew the Cormorant for awhile and killed an Algos with it. Then, feeling rather silly, I decided to jump into a Battle Venture and have some fun. Believe it or not people still ran away from me in a Venture!! But I did manage to catch a Kestrel and solo'd it. All in all a rather memorable evening of Yarrr!!

For some people 5,000 kills is nothing. My Corpmate Cervantes is closing in on 10,000 kills. I never claimed to be great at Eve, over the years my play-time has varied greatly. For years I never even played on weekends. (For the first two years of this blog I rarely even posted on weekends.) No excuses. Five thousand may be less than some but it is also more than most. It is telling that almost half of my kills have come in the last two years of being in Stay Frosty.

Eve is a game without a destination. It is the journey that truly matters and I've been on a rather remarkable journey over these years. And I look forward to what stories will be told by the next five thousand explosions I help to make happen.

Numbers are what numbers are. Make of them what you will. I play Eve my own way for my own reasons. And I enjoy it tremendously. And I'm not going to change. I rarely fly with drugs or links, I take fights I shouldn't take, I take chances I shouldn't take, I fly solo a lot when the meta is grossly over-balanced against it, and I fly to have fun primarily. Winning at all costs is not part of my game. I prefer to take a longer-view and win on my own terms. And lose on them as well.

Mostly I enjoy flying with my friends in Stay Frosty and ABA. Of being a part of a great community and watching Eve continue to grow and evolve. I am a very lucky man to be as involved in that experience as I am, and I appreciate that tremendously. To me those things are much more important than any number could be.

Although I will admit I do get a chuckle whenever local empties out when I enter. Or when some loud-mouth in local wants to prove his mettle by fighting me, or chasing me seven jumps in his linked Garmur. And then demand I blue his alts so he'll leave me alone. (True story, happened just last night.) Yeah. Those are the moments when numbers don't matter and when reputation is all you have.

Here's to the next five thousand.



Crow UltraHD Wallpaper

Crow UltraHD Wallpaper
Click to download various sizes

It's Monday and I have nothing to talk about. I had very little Eve time this weekend so I thought I'd just post another piece of art I've been working on. This and the Crucifier are the latest ship illustrations in the pipeline, mostly I was working out some new techniques with them to see how they worked. I'm very pleased with the results so far.

I'm hopeful that we can continue to expand the offerings beyond just posters and develop some additional products. I have several ideas along those lines. Last week I posted a quick mock-up of one of them, laptop stickers.

In case you missed it or are not on Tweetfleet:




I have a feeling these would be very popular. Again, this is just a quick mock-up that I threw together. But I imagine the Tristan over the glow of the Apple logo would be pretty Boss.

I have other ideas as well, but one thing at a time.

Fingers crossed.




Flashback Sunday

Art Wallpaper: Brutix Born

This has to be one of the weirdest and most conceptually "out-there" wallpapers I've ever done. Which doesn't mean I don't like it. I'm just not sure I would even think of doing something like it again. I must have been in a very specific place when I thought of it.

From April 2011.




Top Ten Ships

Sacrilege Signature Wallpaper

Eight kills away from my 5,000th and I thought I'd take a moment and look at the Top Ten ships that I've used to explode people with. I've registered at least one kill with 138 different ships in Eve, at least according to one kill-board (I haven't looked at them all and they don't all keep track anyway), so I obviously enjoy variety.  But what are the Top Ten?

Number 10: Dramiel (90 Kills, 22 Losses)
The Dramiel remains one of my favorite ships in Eve. And while it has gone in and out of favor more times than John Travolta, it has always been a consistently beautiful, deadly and versatile little death machine. A bugger to fly right and a challenge to fit, the Dram nevertheless achieves a good balance between other ships in the same class. The only reason I don't fly it more is the same reason I don't fly the Daredevil more - it is hard to get good fights in it. Flying one is like wearing a "kick me" sticker on your back. Which, even so, is fun to do sometimes. I especially enjoy the dual prop version.

Number 9: Hawk (93 Kills, 19 Losses)
I imagine most of these kills most have happened awhile ago, since me and the Hawk are not friends right now. I don't know why exactly, but we tend to let each other down a lot in fights. This is probably more about me than him, perhaps our styles don't match as well as they should? I'll keep trying, but for some reason I feel I should do better in this ship than I end up doing. This may be unfair.

Number 8: Hurricane (94 Kills, 14 Losses)
I started my Eve career as Caldari, which used to mean more than it does these days. So the Drake was my primary BC back in my Null days. I didn't start flying the Cane until more towards the tail end of that phase, so much of these kills happened in NPC space and the early start of my Low Sec career. I love the Cane and just flew one again last week until it got caught coming home in a gate camp. I believe that Cane was over two years old. It is the only ship on this list that I do not have at least one fitted right now in my hangar. I'll be fixing that as soon as I go shopping again.

Number 7: Daredevil (110 Kills, 27 Losses)
My favorite ship in Eve. If I was forced to fly only one ship it would be the Daredevil. The only reason I don't fly it more often, as I said above, is the challenge of getting good fights in it. Nothing clears local out faster than me popping on-grid in one of these (ok maybe the Sentinel lol). I had a good run in one yesterday until I forgot to rep and went into a fight with a blaster Comet already damaged, close fight, but I really needed that extra damage back.

Number 6: Kestrel (115 Kills, 32 Losses)
I bet almost all of these kills occurred in a very short period of time. There was a time, almost two years ago now, when you saw a lot of Kessies in Low Sec. You don't see as many today and it really isn't the ships fault, but things have moved away from them a little. Today is more about extremes and the Kessie is not an extreme kind of ship. Its day will come around again.

Number 5: Tristan (174 Kills, 114 Losses)
I love the fact that I have so many losses in this ship, it speaks so well to the incredible versatility of the Tristan. I bet that about half of those losses came from attacking ships that I had no business attacking with a Tristan. It does such a good job of Hero Tackle against bigger, meaner ships like Battleships and Battlecruisers and others. I can remember many times taking it in to hold targets for our gangs, holding out just long enough for someone else to get point. Such a great little ship. My favorite T1 Frigate right now. So versatile.

Number 4: Drake (338 Kills, 42 Losses)
I have 4 fitted Drakes in my hangar right now that haven't seen action in a long long time. Almost all of these kills came from my days in Null when the Drake was my go-to ship in many fleets. This was right at the start of the Drake Swarms, during the time when "can I bring a Drake" was a joke. It is sad what has become of it since those glory days, but it remains in my hangar waiting for its revival. I may fly some just for old-times sake this week.

Number 3: Slicer (351 Kills, 83 Losses)
The Slicer and the next ship on this list are my work horses these days. I love flying them both and they represent the two sides of that extreme balance I was talking about earlier. The Slicer represents the speed and distance side of the equation, a versatile and adaptable speedster that is surprisingly tough when it needs to be. The Slicer is an amazing ship and I love flying them. So much fun.

Number 2: Comet (402 Kills, 95 Losses)
And the Comet is the other side of that equation. Tough, dependable, versatile, a typically close-range fighter with the ability to project death at distance if need be. Fitted with blasters or rails the Comet is a beast that fits into a wide variety of situations and target selections. This is why it is so reliable a choice to undock in, because the target window is so wide. Whenever I feel the need to just get some fights, the Comet is typically my choice.

Number 1: Sacrilege (412 Kills, 17 Losses)
The Beast. Most of these kills came from a short period of time when I camped an entire system in Low Sec with this ship. I was on the verge of quitting Eve and my play-time was extremely limited, so I would log on for very short bursts of time and attack everything that was in that system with me. At stations, on gates, in belts, in missions, wherever and whoever was there I attacked them. Despite the fact that certain people thought I fitted it poorly, it sure racked up a lot of kills and died surprisingly seldom. Which is all that really matters. Funny, that stretch of time and the reaction of certain people to it, was ultimately what brought about Stay Frosty.

It won't be long and the Sac and the Drake will slip from this list. As they should. Who knows what other ships will take their place among the top ten during the next 5,000 explosions?

Just for yucks, here is the remaining list of ships in order of total kills: Condor (85), Astero (82), Crow (82), Broadsword (82), Nightmare (72), Caracal (71), Atron (68), Tormentor (68), Vagabond (65), Sentinel (63), Firetail (55), Manticore (54), Rokh (52), Stabber Fleet Issue (49), Breacher (48), Taranis (47), Enyo (44), Harpy (42), Merlin (42), Thorax (41), Slasher (41), Incursus (40), Hookbill (39), Worm (38), Rapier (38), Vengeance (36), Ares (35), Tempest (35), Zealot (35), Rifter (34), Moa (32), Wolf (32), Brutix (29), Svipul (28), Algos (28), Jaguar (28), Executioner (28), Sleipnir (27), Exequror (26), Sabre (25), Scorpion (25), Rook (24), Abaddon (24), Harbinger (23), Thrasher (22), Punisher (22), Ishkur (22), Devoter (19), Tornado (19), Vexor (18), Garmur (17), Corax (17), Flycatcher (15), Coercer (15), Myrmidon (14), Curse (14), Tengu (14), Cyclone (13), Succubus (13), Cynabal (13), Maller (11), Pilgrim (10), Retribution (10), Venture (10), Maulus (9), Osprey Navy (9), Nighthawk (9), Blackbird (9), and then a whole bunch with less than 10 kills each. Pretty much every ship below BS in Eve I've gotten at least one kill with. Except for the Crucifier and the Omen, which have yet to register a kill to one loss. Weird.




Crucifier UltraHD Wallpaper

UltraNAKED-Crucifier

Click the image to download.

I took a rather long break from drawing spaceships, with Fanfest and everything else going on it seemed like a good time to slow down a little. I also had some ideas forming on how to make my work even better, a few ideas that had been percolating around my brain pan for months. Despite my attempts to describe my technique and process, the truth is that it is constantly in flux and evolution. I constantly try new things, new combinations and new processes. Results are what I am after and, as a weirdly open perfectionist, I am honestly never really satisfied.

The image above is available in UltraHD 3840x2160 and other smaller sizes from my Flickr album. Consider it a thank you for this past week, the release of the four posters and all of the positive feedback from the community. I know the shipping issue overseas is horrendous and all I can tell you is what I know, that CCP Spitfire is aware of it and is hard at work on a viable solution. The rest is really out of my hands.

From my end I'll keep producing my art and sharing what I can with you. It is my sincere hope that the posters sell insanely well and that we can keep bringing you new affordable products based on this incredible game. That has always been my goal.

Keep the courage.