Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Another Questionable Exploit

Another gray area example related to yesterday's post:

CCP Guard says:
Evading Concord is dodgy business. The GMs will make the call on whether this is an exploit or not, until then I'm locking the thread.
Uh huh.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Web Exploits

Yesterday Garmon attacked and killed a jump freighter while it was warping off a station just after undocking. His vessel (which was later retrieved by Pandemic Leagion) has 3 webs and no warp disruption. Curious, a thread popped up on Failheap asking about "web warp denial". It appears that a slow ship initiating warp while undocking from a station can be prevented from both warping and cancelling the warp (disallowing them to redock).

EVE News picked up the event, labeling it an exploit and testing it on Singularity.

it works on the principle that when you undock a ship, it is moving much faster than your maximum speed (especially in a freighter) if you hit warp, your ship tries to align while slowing down too (it is ESSENTIAL that your ship has to change alignment, [instant undock] will always work) this is when you slap it with triple webs.

once the triple webs hit, under normal conditions your top speed is reduced to 1.1m/s. But your speed is still like 100/200ms as in the kickout from the undock, you won’t be able to stop the warp, you cannot dock Either.

You never reach warp because your speed never reaches that low, you can’t eject, you cant [disconnect] because you are trying to initiate warp, you are ALWAYS going to die, we tested ALL of this just now.
 Garmon defended himself in the FHC thread:
This has been in the game for a very long time, for as long as I can remember, I died to it two years ago and I petitioned it incase it was a bug or an intended mechanic, it was the latter, I am 100% sure that a lot of people has been doing the same thing over the years, I don't think it's exploiting since CCP is aware of it, just bad game design I think
Well, with the thread and EVE News article explaining how to replicate this "intended mechanic", pirates came out in droves to see what they could catch. All the buzz and activity alerted CCP, and they made a pretty clear decision:
It has come to our attention that some players are making use of a broken game mechanic involving web modules preventing people from warping, for the purpose of killing them.  This is a clear exploit and anyone found abusing this will be dealt with accordingly.  Exploiting may result in a permanent suspension from the game. Our Game Design team will be working to deploy a fix for this issue in the near future.
This seems to be very typical of CCP: gray areas of the mechanic-exploit spectrum are interpreted by GMs differently, without ever asking/alerting game designers or managers. Then years later, someone with authority hears about it and either condemns or approves those involved.

EVE is all about clever use of game mechanics. I would label this as an exploit, but why is it OK to employ webs to let ships enter warp faster? Bumping ships out of POS force fields? Suicide ganking? Contract scamming? Ninja looting + Orca ship swapping? Cloaked MWD warp trick?

Some of those actions are exploitative, but nonetheless avoidable. Don't shoot at the loot thief, and he won't come back with a Tengu. Don't transport 3 billion ISK in an Iteron IV (or use a scout). What about having instant undock bookmarks from low sec stations, or stopping your jump freighter after undocking and then initiating warp? Do those qualify as preventive measures against the exploiter?

I guess not for CCP. Seems a bit arbitrary.

(This reminded me of another clever use of webs. A few months ago, Tiger Ears had a good post about pinning down two hulks with a single web and single point. Begin reading after the first image.)

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Thorax in a Mission

Another quick kill. I wish this guy put up more of a fight, but he was less than a month old. When I saw "Thorax" on my scanner, my eyes lit up, and I forgot to check his Employment History.

Thorax isn't a terrible ship, but it is a Tech 1 cruiser, which are pretty much the red-headed step-children of EVE. Faction cruisers (like my Stabber Fleet Issue) are better, but no where near the capabilities of Battlecruisers, pirate cruisers, and Tech 3 Strategic cruisers.

I found the Thorax in an empty system with a bunch of wrecks in the middle of nowhere. I went back to Gare to pick up my scanning ship, stayed near the gate uncloaked while landing a 100% reading on my first analysis. Recalled probes, warped home, and sat in my Stabber. The seat was still warm.

I warped to the bookmark I made of the Thorax's signature, and landed near an Acceleration gate. These gates are one-way entrances into little pockets of space called Deadspace. Players can only get there using the gates, but they can leave at any time by warping out the conventional way. Each pocket of space is called a "room". The first room of this mission was clear of anything hostile, so I approached the next Acceleration gate to enter the second room.

I land about 20 km from the cruiser, who is casually shooting the rats for his mission. My microwarp drive closes the distance very quickly, and even if he were paying attention to his overview, I doubt he had enough time to align and warp.

I launch my drones to add some firepower, but it's overkill. The SFI moves too fast for his long-range railguns to track. At least he saves his pod.

He could have seen my probes when I was scanning him. He could have been watching directional scanner with short range to indicate when I entered his mission deadspace. He could have been pre-aligned and ready to warp at the first sign of danger.

I have a video because I actually remembered to start the recording, but it isn't all that impressive.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Clean Kill

Myrmidon bouncing around Gare. He's in the middle of space, 8 AU from the gate toward a planet cluster. Swap to a scan ship. 100% on first scan. Tell corpmate the location; he warps in and snags him. I arrive to offer some bullets and get the killmail.

So clean. So professional.

This is why "safe" spots aren't really safe ;D

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Bad Habits

Grinding Security Status is painfully slow. The gains are awarded based on the highest bounty NPC killed in a system every 15 minutes. But each system has its own 15 minute counter. If a player wants to be efficient about it, they typically fit a Stealth Bomber, plot a loop through null/low sec, and pop a single battleship NPC in each system.

Gare is along a nice loop through Placid and Syndicate: we see a decent amount of traffic.

Every now and again we find evidence of Stealth Bombers killing battleship rats. Some of them make a habit out of it, continuously warping to the same asteroid belt over and over, killing the respawned battleship over and over.

When you become predictable, you die.

The amazing part of this story is that we passed each other at a belt. I had intel that he was frequenting a particular location, so when I saw him in system, I immediately warped there. The pack of mobs had either been killed or despawned, so there was no battleship for this Hound to kill. He entered warp to another belt when I landed--he definitely saw me. And yet he still decided it was safe to fight rats.

I land a few km from him. He's locked by the rats, preventing his cloak. Fight is over. I scram him no problem and make quick work of the fragile frigate. 

Too predictable; ignored danger. 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A Fool's Errand

Not everyone in EVE is a hardened, soulless griefer. Many people don't play all that intelligently, and their mistakes can be exploited.

Several nights ago, I'm idling in station in our home system, just monitoring traffic. If I notice someone hanging around a bit longer than they should, I pop my head outside and see if they are at an asteroid belt or cosmic signature.

I have some scouting bookmarks in the system which let me quickly scan popular destinations with minimal warping. I pick up an Iteron Mark IV industrial ship on my directional scanner, pin-pointing him at a collection of stations and planets. A few seconds later he disappears from my eye, so I widen the angle back out to 360 degrees. He's still in range, and I infer that he is warping to the jump gate which is in my periphery.

I immediately warp to the gate and jump through, hoping to snag him when he jumps into the system.

When you enter a system through a jump gate, your ship appears at a location 15 km away from a random point on the gate model. If you imagine a sphere enveloping the gate (it's really closer to an ellipsoid), ships spawn on some random point on the surface. For small gates, the diameter is usually close to 30 km. For larger gates (gates between regions), the diameter can be higher.

I move to shed the jump cloak, pre-overheat my warp scrambler, and turn on my damage control. Gate flashes, and he appears 28 km from me. I approach with a MicroWarp Drive propulsion module, and begin locking him. I need to get about 10 km away to be in range of my overheated scrambler. I can't burn the distance in time, and he warps off.

Oh well. I go back to my system and dock up.

Thirty minutes later he is back. I undock, spot him on scan: Iteron Mark IV. I don't believe it.

I jump through the gate, this time getting in a better position right near the center of the gate. Flash. He's only about 12 km from me, and by the time I lock, I'm in range of my scram.

Your security status has been lowered.

I make quick work of the Iteron in my Stabber Fleet Issue, and I'm tanking the gate guns with my armor repairers. I immediately begin targeting the escape pod, acquiring a lock before he warps. A quick ping with my guns, and he wakes up in a cloning vat.

I inspect the wreck: nothing of value. I leave it there and warp to a spot in the middle of nowhere to wait out my Criminal Countdown and inspect the kill mails. Worthless 1.7 mil Iteron, but what do we have here: a 300 mil clone. Not a bad way to pad my efficiency stats, ha!

A few minutes later I get a conversation request from him. I accept.

He says nothing. I send a "hello". This is his reply:
Jamie TaoLei > yes gee thanks you kiled me haluling Pl mats you destroyed my +5 implants im at odds with my own corp im in ty you gave me a reason to quit spending 15$ a month
Right after that, he asks to add me as a friend contact. Seems a bit crazy to me, but I don't care what he does. We talk for the next hour, and he tells me how awful his life is, how he is "giving up on EVE", and all sorts of depressing nonsense. The character is from 2007, yet I managed to "destroy all his wealth". I'm pretty sure he was trying to scam me into sending him ISK, which I certainly did not do.

But forget the tears, this guy made some major mistakes. Ignore that he was transporting things in a hauler without a cloak. He:

  1. Saw me try to catch him 30 minutes ago.
  2. Didn't fit Warp Core Stabilizers.
  3. Didn't warp his pod off when he had plenty of time to do so (I lock a pod in 7.5 seconds, but they align and warp near-instantly).
Those are some pretty bad choices. A fool and his money are soon parted.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


No one reads this, but I'm still here!

Past couple months I set up three secondary characters to do Tech2 Invention and Manufacturing in order to make ISK. I bought a couple PLEX to active the accounts and fund the initial capital (and even won a third from SOMER Blink). My original intention was to get the ball rolling and log in with the characters about twice a month and collect a check. This was far from reality.

I had a small tower set up in high sec, and established the Copy, Invent, & Manufacture pipeline--from blueprint to item took about 3 days. But in order to maximize my profits, I was logging in every day for an hour or more. I had to run to Jita to buy more materials daily, and then I had to monitor my sell orders constantly just to fight in undercutting wars. It was a real nuisance and was taking significant time away from pew pew.

I closed up shop after 2 months or so. I made back the money I spent on PLEX and even turned a billion in profit. It was good to see how Invention and industry work, so I'm glad I did it, but never again.

My current money making scheme is to do Incursions. I have an extra character on a friend's account which he barely uses, yet still pays for. He is trained for level 4 missions, so after some minor skilling and refitting, I get him into HQ Incursion fleets as a sniper. HQ fleets aren't the milk and honey you hear about in tales--they make between 35 and 50 mil an hour. And then there are all the annoying people in fleet. So yeah; with my bank, I'm shelving the HQs, training the character into a Nightmare, and waiting to run Vanguards, which will be more profitable and hopefully less irritating.

And HQ sites are terribly boring. This is "fun":

Hasugo's skill plan took a bit of a detour. Since I like flying nimble ships, I decided to max some of my Navigation skills. I couldn't fit some basic t2 modules like webs and medium neuts, so I trained the respective skills. Since gate guns hurt, I trained relevant Hurricane skills to 4 so that I can be more effective in our tiny gangs.

During one of these fights, I was beating the piss out of another 'cane, a Daredevil, and a Zealot 3v1. I stupidly switched targets from the Hurricane to the Daredevil mid-fight, and thus ended up dying just as my fleet landed, but I fell in love with the Hurricane. Both the 'cane and DD were in structure when I popped, so I could have walked away the victor in a 3v1 (the Zealot warped as soon my fleet entered the system) if I hadn't switched targets.

After that awesome fight, I decided to train Battlecruiser to level 5, adding an amazing 50 DPS to my Hurricane. I'm also taking advantage of Cruiser 5 with a Stabber Fleet Issue. Vagabond is likely up next when I decide to work on Heavy Assault Cruiser. I'm still interested in the Cynabal, it's just taking a little longer :P

The SFI is fun to fly; I like the dual-propulsion modules. I also get to use an active armor tank with it, and thus I spent some time on my drug skills. I can pop an Exile booster in a pinch.

All-in-all I'm having fun and think this is the best MMO on the market. Every now and then there are quiet nights (like tonight) that appear uneventful. But as I said before, even some simple cat and mouse is exciting--we tried to catch a Viator through several gates, but no luck.

Ship loses don't phase me much anymore, but the adrenalin still pumps when locking someone up.

I gotta remember to run Fraps too. It's really helpful for After Action Review.