Come Fly With Us

If you've ever considered one day flying in an Alliance Tournament and making a run for the championship - maybe today is the day to finally take that step.

My Alliance, A Band Apart, is currently forming up our team for this year's Alliance Tournament run. We are practicing every week and getting ready for the big push after Fanfest. As always this time of year I write a blog post reminding people that if you want to play - now is the time to jump onboard. We don't know what the deadline will be this year but it is typically around May, so you only have a few weeks left to make your decision.

In my opinion that decision should be to come join our team. Especially if you come from a smaller Alliance or one that isn't planning on participating - or if you come from a larger Alliance and don't think you'll make your own team. I mean, there are only so many spots available. And not everyone is willing to give all pilots a chance. Those damn bitter vets man. That is not the way we build a team. Heck some of our pilots never did the things they did in the AT before they joined our team and started learning with us. FCs, Team Captains, Tackle, Logistics, all roles are constantly learning and practicing until they git gud.

It takes dedication, commitment and time to make the team. There are no shortcuts. But glory awaits those that take on the challenge. We came close to breaking into the final group last year and finished 11th. The year before we finished 14th. The year before that we lost both matches. Our intention is to do even better this year and maybe, with your help, break into the final four.

If you are interested in joining our team - send me an in-game mail about it and let's talk.

I can tell you this, there isn't anything else like it in New Eden. Flying with your teammates, winning the tough fight, the anticipation of your next match - it isn't like anything else you can do in Eve.

Think about it. Glory awaits.

Moon Pew Pew

Pirate Athanor
What won't I shoot at!?!
So let me get this straight, we have a gigantic laser mounted on a structure that can shoot a very large chunk out of a Moon and drag it into orbit? Oh yes please, sign me up.

I know this is old news for you Industry minded pilots out there, but remember we are Pirates and it takes time for new technology to filter down to our level. We don't get all the fancy state-of-the-art High Sec gear out in lawless space until a few months down the road and then it takes us time to cobble together enough stolen goods to pay for third-rate merch - but eventually we just have to try it.

So why would a bunch of Pirates have a Moon shooting thing? Same reason we have Citadels. To learn the mechanics it is best to use the mechanics yourself. And second, these things are content creators just by being in space. They have guns and you can fly them! And then lastly, they do provide revenue. Even though we are scum-sucking Pirates, we also need revenue.

There is literally no downside. And it is just cool.

Which is the best reason of all.

Amusing Alpha Accounts

Last Night

People are funny. And they only continue to get weirder and weirder. Now that you can play for free and essentially pay your way into almost any ship, without actually putting any time in - things are only getting weirder. Someone on Discord the other day pointed out the killboard of a young player who is 0-97 and all of the losses are what even a hardened vet would consider significant ships. Like a Rorqual pilot warping to a HS gate and then losing another Rorqual later the same day.

Unlike most people who are screaming "Eve is Dying" over on r/eve or somewhere, I personally find these people amusing and I wish we had more of them. Send more paramedics! (You may not get that reference) Look, let's be honest here. Eve is not for everyone in its current iteration. Lots of these people popping in and spending cash on get quick schemes are going to fail out. But a few will stick. Hopefully the churn will keep the wheels spinning. And in the meantime, they sure are a blast to run into in local.

Beyond killmails, these new players have added to the local flavor. While new players typically don't have a good grasp on Eve's history, some of these Alpha's take that idea to new heights. I've honestly never run into a player-stranger that didn't want to know anything before. I often offer advice or counseling to fellow pilots after a fight, the typical response is either cold silence or thoughtful banter. Lately though a new level of weird and completely unearned arrogance has appeared. A couple weeks ago I had a player with about 200 kills to his name berate me in local. And while that is certainly amusing, I also find it a bit troublesome. Yes, that used to happen, it isn't anything new. It is simply the frequency that seems to have changed.

Which isn't the same as people trying really hard to smack talk me in local. Sometimes when I'm bored I will play along with these attempts for my own amusement. But the quality has dropped a lot lately. Again, it has become more tiresome than amusing. Although I still find it funny when some random stranger thinks he is God's gift to smack talk. Seriously dude, you are the 147th person to use that line. And no my Corp of 319 Pirates is not intimidated by you or the three other pilots in your little Corporation.  Sorry.

News flash - you are not going to be able to smack talk me. It doesn't work. The Mittani has tried. Grath has tried. And pretty much every other asshole in Eve over the last decade has tried. You are not going to be better at it than they are.

Another amusing use for Alphas is the obvious Alt accounts. Last week we had a random player-stranger show up in local and start smack talking. That isn't unusual. Thing is, the longer they talked the more specific the smack got. Eventually it was obvious which former Corp pilot they were. The proof was when I called them out... the smack stopped and they left local.

Bless the Alphas and keep them. I want more people to play Eve and stick around. Eve is much better in the long haul and I'd like to see it stick around for many more years. Mostly so we can keep killing Rorquals and Faction fit Proteus'.

Eve is FREE to Play!!

Rorqual Death

Rorqual Death
Click to embiggen
So yesterday this happened.

I was coming back from being blobbed in my pod when I noticed this Rorqual sitting on our station. I quickly jumped into one of my Bhaalgorns and undocked, mostly just intending to have some fun trying to bump it off station. I also started yelling in Corp chat. This is Eve and one never knows what might happen next.

Instead of bumping him I noticed he was aligned... at the High Sec gate. Fellow SF Pilot Devlin also noticed this and warped to the gate in his Slasher (iirc). Either way the Rorqual actually warped to the HS gate, so I quickly aligned down myself. Well, as quickly as a BS can. As you all should know, Capitals cannot jump into HS. At this point we just assumed he had a cyno and was just trying to buy time. But then Devin reported that he landed 10k off the gate and that he already had scram. I was already in warp and landed at zero as intended. I heated my MWD, got point, webs, dropped drones, and aligned right back at the Rorqual. That first bump was legendary and he bumped clear back to 17k off the gate. My weapons and neuts and heavies were already shredding, but Rorquals can be tough and I figured this was going to take some time.

By this time Devlin had left to go grab his own BS and I had Logi on the field to help with gate guns. At this point the only real worry was potential traffic, but local remained relatively calm. The ship was dying quickly, too fast for a Rorqual, when the pilot eventually decided to self-destruct. Devlin managed to get his pod and the salvage.

Turns out it wasn't fit at all. I had noticed this ship docking in our station a week or so ago and told everyone to be on the lookout for it. I never thought this would happen.

I realize we are living in a new age here. And that there are people playing Eve who simply haven't gone thru the traditional learning cliff Hell that most of us had to endure. But on the other hand, there are so many more resources available now than ever in Eve's history. Videos, Guides, tutorials, blogs, forums, Slacks, Discords, the list of helpful and useful information is overwhelming. So how do you explain this?

I know I can't. 

But I do appreciate the kill. I won't forget it anytime soon.

I Have a Skin Disease

Imperial Dragons Garmur Convergence Murdock The Headhunter

These are just a few of the more recent skin purchases I've made. I admit I initially poo-poo'd skins in Eve. But lately I've become addicted to them. It helps that so many of these newer skins are freaking amazing.

I need more!

Coming Home

Coming Home
Click to embiggen
This is an unfinished idea I had for a full-scale piece awhile back and I thought I'd share it with you. This is the stage where I just throw ideas together in Photoshop and "sketch" them together to see if they are working. It's quick, but it helps work out any problems and get all the pieces the way I want them.

There are literally hundreds of unfinished projects lying around my studio, my computer, and in my brain. Someday I hope to get around to finishing more of them.

But, most likely, many of them will never be finished.

Such is the way of things.

NEW After Hours Podcast

The latest episode of After Hours is now available featuring my guest Mark726 of Eve Travel fame.

The episode is available on AudiBoom, iTunes, and Spotify. Be sure to like and rate it if you enjoy listening. Thanks!

Eve is Dying Form

The Eve Is Dying Report
Download for yourself

Yesterday morning I was grabbing some breakfast and noticed this paper on our refrigerator that I don't remember seeing before. Just some school notice or something, the front wasn't important - but the back was. It was some joke office complaint form and it sparked a thought. What if there was a form for reporting the constant and never-ending noise that is "Eve is Dying"?

I'm posting it here for archive purposes.

I still haven't figured out my schedule. There just doesn't seem to be time in the day to post regularly anymore. I will keep looking.

Guest Post: New Eden's Highwayman

New Eden's Trade Lanes Have Given Rise to an Old\New Profession

It is a common misconception by many to view empire space, in particular high security space, as “Safe”. While CCP Games had put many restrictions in that part of space to allow newer and older players relative safety, the reality is many players have found ways around these features, exploiting game mechanics to generate content for themselves, as well as a tidy profit. One such enterprising individual is Opec, a member of Hoover Inc. Pandemic Legion [-10.0]. Opec has been running a one man shakedown operation for several weeks, targeting the traffic that passes between major trade hubs located in high security space. His methods vary but their aim is all the same: Get as much money from unsuspecting travelers. In order to do so, Opec employs several tools, some of which had been used by high security space pirates for years. The most common shakedown method is bumping. Simply put, using a ship with sufficient mass and speed, a player crashes into another player’s ships, causing no damage but sending the two flying in opposite directions. Due to EVE Online’s unique physics, such mechanic is used by skilled players to push freighters and haulers off gates and out of alignment. Unable to align or jump back, a bumped ship cannot enter warp and escape, thus left to the mercy of the bumper who would often exact a heavy toll from his victim. Once the ransom is paid, the hauler is allowed to resume his or hers original course.

The second shakedown method is more nefarious. Using an alternate character, Opec offers his services to unsuspecting pilots who are in the process of being bumped off the gate. This usually come in the form of applying stasis webifiers which slow down a ship considerably. Since a slower speed allows a faster aligning time and entry into warp, many freighter pilots believe that such aid would help them escape the situation and readily accept. Suffice to say, such beliefs are unfounded in game mechanics.

Any act of aggression not sanctioned by a war declaration or a kill right in high security space would cause a CONCORD (NPC) fleet to spawn near the aggressor and proceed to blow him\her to smithereens. To get around that and to allow some limited warfare in high security space that is immediate and not costly, CCP Games had implemented a dueling system which allows two players to engage in consensual warfare. Both haulers and pirates quickly adopted the new mechanic in their line of work. Using a clean character, often fairly new with unblemished corporate history to offer aid in stasis webifying lowers the guard of many pilots who’d otherwise hesitate. Once a duel invitation is accepted, Opec’s character sheds its friendly fa├žade and proceeds to warp scramble the unfortunate individual. Unable to warp off thanks to the warp scrambler’s effect, the victim is forced off the gate using a secondary character. Unable to jump out or warp off, the hauler is forced to either pay a hefty ransom or be destroyed. Many prefer to pay up rather than lose their ship and cargo, something which also works to Opec’s advantage as less time is spent on dismantling the ship and possibly losing part or all the valuable cargo thanks to EVE Online’s loot drop mechanics.

Of course, many veteran freighter pilots often employ their own secondary characters in order to provide their own stasis webifiers. For those cases Opec has a trick up his sleeve. Using a cruiser fitted to tank a lot of damage, he applies warp scramblers to stop the freighters from warping. Though the ship is destroyed within a few moments, the application of warp scramblers often causes freighters to decelerate as they are unable to warp off momentarily. This gives Opec a large enough window of opportunity to use another character to bump off the freighter and force it to pay a ransom. Not everyone is willing to pay a ransom or accept a duel request. For such cases, Opec must call for help. Thankfully Opec operates within the sphere of influence of CODE. [CODE.]. The alliance has made a name for itself for suicide killing, or as is commonly known in the game as “Suicide ganking” freighters. A large, well oiled machine, CODE. calculates the exact number of cheap, throwaway, ships needed to destroy a freighter or a hauler and still turn a profit from its cargo. Thus Opec can rely on CODE. to supply the firepower needed to destroy ransom refusers. Whatever loot drops is often split between those who participated in the gank.

The Loot from One Successful Gank
In the few weeks of operating, Opec has managed to amass a small fortune from his illicit activities. From ransom money to loot drops, Opec has gained approximately 30 billion ISK, and that is not counting the share that went to accomplices and helpers along the way. What is more, Opec is not alone in this line of work. Across empire space, plenty of other individuals and groups are stalking the trade lanes of New Eden, looking for future victims and extorting ISK and blood from unsuspecting pilots. In a way, they have become New Eden’s highwaymen, brigands whose only interest is in shaking up traders and who operate with near impunity. Making the long haul to Jita and other trade hubs one of the most dangerous activities in the game.
Guest Article written by Salivan Harddin (@SalivanHarddin)

NEW After Hours Podcast

After Hours is also available on iTunes and is also now available on Spotify! So it is even easier to listen to your favorite podcast. Which is After Hours obviously. Ok fine, perhaps it is "one-of" your favorite podcasts.

I know I haven't been posting much lately, nothing to worry about. I'll be back at it again, just trying to figure out where exactly I left the time I need to write a blog. I know I left it around here somewhere! I'm sure it'll turn up eventually.

Until then, enjoy the podcast.

Forgotten Treasure

A couple years ago Stay Frosty moved from Ishomilken in the north of Black Rise, to our current home base on the southern border of Black Rise in Verge Vendor. The move, for me at least, was a nightmare. At the time my personal life was slightly stressful (to say the least) and I had to move not only my own holdings, but those of the Corporation as well. Even with help it was chaotic, stressful, and time-consuming.

In all of that back and forth I never got around to moving my alt's Archon. Despite many back and forth transport trips, the Carrier landed in Isho and managed to stay there. Any time I thought about bringing it down a war would break out, or something else would come up. A Carrier in Low Sec is not a super high priority, so it just kept getting pushed down the priority list.

Skip ahead a couple years.

Anytime I'd look at it in my assets windows all I'd see would be an Archon in a hangar with some fuel and a bunch of T1 Frigates and some random mods. Last week I happened to mention this situation to Devlin and he has an alt that can fly Archons. So we agreed to finally bring her down to our staging system. It turns out that she was FULL of things!

Fully fit ships mostly. Imagine my surprise when I opened the hangar and discovered fully fit ancient ships that had been long forgotten. A fully fit Bhaalgorn and Phantasm. A weirdly fit Proteus. A time-capsule to another time with a 100MN AB HAM Tengu! Remember when those were all the rage? A Gila fitted with HAMS. Heck some of these ships had lost entire slots in the intervening years. A few couldn't undock because they had more drones inside their drone bays than you could have. lolz.

I've admitted before that I tend to hoard ships. Not to keep, but to have on hand for any fight that comes along. I love spaceships and I like having them at-hand when needed. On the one hand I am very protective of my ships all while often throwing them at things for a good fight. I have no problem exploding anything I own, but I'd rather explode the other guy's ships instead. But this discovery was like opening up a time-capsule to another time. It is hard to remember what some of these fits were even for? But being a poor Pirate who likes to have several hundred ships ready to undock means I can't just throw away fully fitted ships. It causes me pain to destroy a rig once it is attached to a ship. Last weekend I flew an Arty Shield Sleipnir into battle even though it still had a armor rig on it! That poor Sleipnir had been re-fitted so many times it got confused. I could have destroyed that rig, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it.

So I spent some time trying to update these old-timey ships. Luckily the T3's can switch rigs without destroying them, which is awesome. I even re-figured the platforms a bit, especially on the Proteus. It is still a weird ship, but it is less weird now. The rest just needed minor adjustments and changes in modules.

This was like finding buried treasure. And now all of these ships are marked as slightly more expendable than regular ships. I already recklessly used the Bhaalgorn to kill a Megathron the other day. Having been lost for two years they already feel like they need to stretch their legs a bit. And if they explode? Well then, isn't that what spaceships are for?

Eve is Fifteen Wallpaper

Eve is 15 Anniversary Wallpaper
Click to download various sizes for your desktop
I waited  two weeks to release the wallpaper version, just wanted to give it time. I've also updated the original post to include this wallpaper link and a alternative link to a slightly lower resolution of the full size poster. A few people had asked for that as their chosen printers couldn't handle files bigger than 200Mb. The new file size is around 136Mb I believe.

This has been an insanely busy week and I haven't been posting much lately. Finishing up some community projects, some freelance work, and being extremely busy at work. There are some potentially exciting projects in the early early stages of development, but I can't really talk about those right now. They may or may not amount to anything, so we'll see how it goes.

Until next time.

Stay Frosty 100,000 Kills

After 56 months of extremely active operation Stay Frosty passed a significant milestone this week by registering our 100,000th kill. According to zKill we passed that mark on Tuesday. Several weeks ago I had announced to the Corp that I would be awarding the pilot responsible for the 100k kill 100 T1 Frigates (and a few surprises). My only stipulation was that the final kill couldn't be a Pod/Rookie Ship/Alt - essentially nothing "lame". Our bloodthirsty band took to the challenge and we had a record-breaking day on Tuesday.

Privately I had decided weeks ago that I would most likely award the prize to two pilots, the actual 100k kill and the one immediately after it which broke the 100k barrier. If they happened close enough to each other. Which is what happened.

Vala Azar killed a Comet with a Tormentor. And Fire Bush killed a half-fit Rifter with an Omen Navy Issue. Both of which perfectly encapsulate the spirit of old-school low sec piracy that Stay Frosty has stood for since day one. And so both pilots will split the prizes, which should be delivered this weekend. Congratulation to them both. And to every pilot that contributed to this achievement, both currently and in the past.

If you are curious, the very first Stay Frosty kill was registered on May 7, 2013 when I solo'd a Kestrel in my own Kestrel. That was kill number one.

When I started this back then I hoped that it would last. That we'd somehow manage to make it work despite the odds, the complications, the competition and everything else stacked against us. It was a rough start, but from the very beginning we attracted people of great character who accepted the challenge. Not all of those players are still with us almost five years later, but many are. Along the way a few betrayed us, a few stole from us, a few disappointed us, but the vast majority rose to the challenges they faced. Challenges we all faced together. And despite my own personal horrors these past few years, we still managed to thrive. And survive. All of which is a testament to the 305 pilots that currently call Stay Frosty home. And to the nearly 2,000 other players that have passed thru our always open doors over the years. To all of them I say Thank You. This has been a great adventure.

Next? We have a couple of Low Sec groups to pass.

6,000 Kills

Killboard Numbers since 2012
I waited a few days to post again so that everyone had a chance to see the FREE Eve 15th Anniversary poster in the post below this one. If you missed it scroll down and download your own copy.

Back in the early days of Eve we didn't have the awesome API linked kill/loss reporting that we have today. Posting kills that you were not the Final Blow on was often tricky and difficult. I have two Titan kills and a whole bunch of Capital kills missing, along with about 400 or so other kills (that I know of) that are probably missing forever. The problems with the old system are legendary, my Son actually used to be an admin on BattleClinic, and the fake killmails would roll in constantly. The new system is far superior, so if that means about 400 kills (and to be fair, about 75 losses) are lost to time - then so be it. To make things easier we just don't talk about the past and pretend everything is ok.

So, according to zKill this week I finally scored my 6,000th kill in Eve. As you can see it took me about 2.5 years to get 700, which is what happens when your life is in ruins and you essentially take 2 years off.

My 6,000th kill was this Corax.

Nothing super special, just another workman like day for the Pirate Lord of Low Sec. To me my killboard is simply a journal of my adventures in New Eden over the past decade. I have a lot less kills than some (like my good friend Cerv in Stay Frosty who has over 15,000) but also far more than most. I do try to keep my efficiency around 75%, but that isn't something I really think about all that much. I take pride in being CEO of Stay Frosty and all that brings with it, along with my own visibility in local. It is what it is. And it is part of the fun.

I'm far more interested in our 100,000th kill as a Corporation, which is coming up here shortly. In a few days.

10,000 was always a goal that I would like to reach. Will I? Let's see, I promise to keep undocking and derping around.

FREE EVE 15th Anniversary Poster

This is a low resolution preview version
Eve is Fifteen by Bryan Ward/Rixx Javix is a full resolution movie poster (27x40) sized digital painting/illustration that I created in honor of Eve Online's 15th Anniversary. Originally intended to be given away as prints at Fanfest this year, I have decided to avoid any drama with CCP and instead give it away for FREE Digital Download direct from my own DropBox. So you'll have the opportunity to have it printed yourself and hang it in your game room at full size. If you so desire of course.

If it is not completely obvious the theme here is entirely sexual. Eve is constant birth and death, from the origin story all the way thru to modern times, the theme of Eve itself is manifested in the life cycle. My goal with this piece was to capture that theme and to also represent the four Empires and the scope of the game. And also have a nude woman in it. I know my audience. Every element of this piece was created by hand over a period of three weeks, except for the two Cynabals which were created last year as part of my Perspective series, which was given away as part of a 4 piece series of postcards at Fanfest last year.

The version above is a low resolution preview image which you can embiggen by clicking on it, but do not print that version. I have also made a half-resolution version available on my Flickr portfolio if all you want is a large digital version to have. However, if you want to have a full-size movie poster version printed, follow the instructions below.

Download the full resolution (230Mb - RGB - 300dpi - 27"x40"(with bleed) Poster HERE.

There are tons of places both on-line or in real life that will be able to print the poster for you. I personally use Uprinting for my postcards and posters, and a movie poster sized print will cost you around $40US to have made. Which is not bad. Obviously those of you overseas may have to find your own sources.

If you have it printed and framed please share photos with me. I really enjoy seeing my work on your walls. I'm getting my own printed shortly for my own game room walls. Obviously this is a limited-edition and only exists if you have one printed for yourself. So I hope you enjoy it.

This was a labor of love for me and I'm proud that I can share this with you. Enjoy.

Stay Frosty my friends.

UPDATE: Now a wallpaper version is also available.

UPDATE 2: For those you need a slightly smaller version of the full-size poster, you can download a 136Mb version here. Same size, just slightly less resolution, which shouldn't matter for most printers.