Toldain Talks

Because reading me sure beats working!


Toldain started as an Everquest character. I've played him in EQ2, WoW, Vanguard, LOTRO, and Zork Online. And then EVE Online, where I'm 3 million years old, rather than my usual 3000. Currently I'm mostly playing DDO. But I still have fabulous red hair. In RL, I am a software developer who has worked on networked games, but not MMORPGS.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

We Interrupt this War for a Brief Reboot

We gathered in a station in preparation for an assault. We weren't told what or where, at least I wasn't. I figure that's for operational security. I'm new to the alliance, and I don't have a need to know. What I do know is that our alliance and our allies have told us to be ready. This is a Call To Arms, a CTA. Anyone who is online should be part of it. It seems to promise a large fleet action, which is one of the reasons I accepted the invitation to Skyforger, my corp, and TNT, my alliance, so I am there.

This is a collaboration with our landlord the Tau Ceti Federation (TCF), so we had to get onto Teamspeak 3. We have a lot of Europeans in our alliance, but operational communication for our alliance is generally in English. We just had someone come on to the channel and say a few things in Russian. Best comeback award goes to TwomtNW for "You know, I said that just last week".

There are many stragglers. We've had warning, though not as to date and time of this for about a week, including the fact that they need to download TS3 and get onto it. But now they are doing it. I've seen this kind of thing over and over in MMO's, people showing up late and unprepared. It's a game, sure, which is played in one's spare time. Still, I derive satisfaction from being ready on time. So I don't really get it.

We got our alliance's fleet formed up and moved to a POS (Player-owned station). "Station" isn't really a good name for them since the basic model consists mostly of a spherical shield and defenses. The ability to dock ships is an add-on. In any case, there was a Titan (shown above) there to generate a jump bridge for us, also known as a cynosural field or "cyno". We were forming a fleet with two other client alliances in our Region. They are late, or maybe we were called early and they warped to us and the POS we were at engaged them, which is to say, shot at them. SNAFU. That was fixed.

Two hours after the form up call, the FC calls "jumping in 30 seconds". In order to jump, we had to be within 2000m of the Titan, which made me feel very small in my Incursus. I am a tackler. I race to things and try to disrupt their engines to keep them from running away. I'm flying a cheap ship and I'm very, very expendable.

We jump through and wait for the capital ships that TCF, our landlord is bringing. We are in Pure Blind now, in a system controlled by The Servant Sisters of Eve, of all things.

Our fleet was then reorganized into a larger fleet, commanded by a FC from TCF. TCF is mostly, if not all French. The FC speaks good English though, and does so when he needs to tell us stuff. However, there appears to be an ongoing operation in which most of the ships are carriers which are in system but not with us. And the pilots of which are French, so he commands them in French.

They are repairing POS'es which had been attacked the day before. Taking out installations like this is a slow dance. They must be attacked and enough damage dealt to them that they enter "reinforced" mode. In this mode, the damage dealt remains, but they cannot be harmed. They will stay in this mode for a period of time predetermined by the defenders, but which is roughly 24 hours. Once that finished, the carriers and perhaps other ships have started repair operations on them. We are on standby at another POS in case we are attacked by our enemies, The Triumvirate (TRI) and allies.

They also serve who only stand and wait, and that describes us. We are on standby, and we are a deterrence. My alliance started this op at 11:00am my time. At 3:20, a conga line forms. Battleships form a line, orbiting the central tower of the pos. An enemy covert ops comments on it in local chat. We are bored and impatient.

The arc of ships is the conga line. Looking closely, you can also see that the Milk Board has apparently paid TCF for advertising space, since their defensive batteries are anchored to spell out "LAIT" -- French for "milk".

Meanwhile, other parts of the field are active. We hear that a fleet from Mostly Harmless consisting of 70 stealth bombers has engaged and destroyed an enemy fleet with 80 battleships with no losses. A subsequent look at Mostly Harmless' killboard shows this to be only a slight exaggeration. However it is just about this time that EVE crashes. Not our node, the entire game. Slowly we are booted out of the client. "Welcome to Dominion," says the FC. We wonder if the bombing attack was responsible, or whether the enemies will get their battleships back.

So, we sit on Teamspeak waiting for the server to come back up. Someone asks if anyone knows a good song. The reply is this:

The wheels on the bus go round and round,
round and round,
round and round.
The wheels on the bus go round and round,
all the way to the POS.

This unleashes a round of the "Who can play the crudest song on Teamspeak?" game. Eventually, we get back in the game. CCP says that the SQL server crashed. My best guess is that the enemies did not get their battleships back, and the only hard intel is that, but there are rumors to the contrary. Logging back in is painfully slow, and we've lost some numbers from our fleet during the crash.

Once I'm back in, there are onscreen messages of the form:
"Traffic Advisory: officials have closed the stargates and undocking ramps due to heavy congestion in the system... Travellers are advised to seek alternate routes."

There is one of these messages for each system in the game, I think. Including wormholes. These messages continued for about 40 minutes after logging back in.

At last the congestion clears, and the FC calls, "Ok, guys, we have some work to do." We are going to put an enemy POS into reinforced mode. We are told to to jump and "stick the gate"-don't jump through.

Moving giant fleets around is an exercise in cat herding even with highly alert pilots, which they may have been 4 hours ago, but it's approaching midnight in Europe, where many of our pilots live. And courvosier was mentioned during the downtime, as well as Jack Daniels. In any case, once we were gathered at the gate, we all jumped through and got down to business. All the difficulties give me new appreciation for why real militaries spend so much time on things like marching drill. You aren't paid to think, you need to just pay attention, follow orders, and "hurry up and wait".

The larger ships warped to the enemy POS and started firing at it. I was in "support", so I was at a system gate ready to watch and tackle anything red or neut that came through it.

Red had a larger group of ships than we did about a half dozen jumps away. They also had two ships in our system, so they could have opened a jump portal and dropped those ships on us. However, our FC said that our advantage was that we would be "on the grid" already, his meaning being that changing to another system can get very laggy when 600 ships are doing it all at once, which would work to our advantage, since we weren't the ones doing the jumping. Red decided not to engage, the POS was put into reinforced mode, and we called it a day, after gathering at the gate to leave.

So, success for the fleet, but no action for me. This is both good and bad. The good part is that I didn't get killed, which is very likely if there's action. I'm sure there will be more to come.



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