Flieger, grüß' mir die Sonne, grüß' mir die Sterne und grüß' mir den Mond. Dein Leben, das ist ein Schweben, durch die Ferne, die keiner bewohnt! - Hans Albers, F.P.1 antwortet nicht (Adaptation in the 80s: Extrabreit)

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Death and punishment

I left my last session pondering if and how I should continue my goal to fly every ship in beta, when the Lakon Type 9 costs 3.5 million Cr, but I just have 300.000 Cr and the best trade run so far nets me 60.000 Cr. I would need about 60 trade runs to get there. Not my cup of tea, too much of a grind if there is no complementary goal to achieve.

This session I start spontaneously and early, because I watched Frontier´s twitter channel as was announced here. Seeing this guy fly around in a Viper, I wonder if I can catch him and maybe give him a few friendly pads on the back, screw the "wanted"-status. If I can get into his same instance, that is. It is worth a try. So I hastily log in, buy a Viper and equip it with the best multicannons I can get: 2xC3-gimbals and 2xC1-gimbals. He is in Azeban when I start and then flies to Asellus Prime. However, on my way there, I feel a plucking and pulling on my arm. Looking down, my daughter smiles radiantly at me and wants me to come and draw a cat. Well, there are some real life priorities, I guess!

Some time later, I return to my Viper, the twitch channel has become silent in the meanwhile. So. A Viper, my pre-beta wet dream come true. Now I want to ride it into combat! Fortunately I found this video which pointed me towards the Federal distress signal close to Eranin 2. A perfect place to shoot things up without having to cruise for hours and be victim to a random generator! I choose the Eranin side because I assume that I can only exchange the bounty vouchers for killing Feds in this system, for killing Eranin I am not sure. Turns out to be the "right" side, because all those pesky Federation Fighters come in high numbers and are absolutely no match for the Viper but still yield proud 350 Credits per kill (the same as an Anaconda which I can find at the neighbouring high conflict zone beacon). Finally some income which is remotely comparable to trading!

- Viper. Couldn´t do a better screenshot myself!

I spend here my whole session and wonder why I never see other players. The complains in Alpha about being attacked by other players while just wanting to do some PvE here were many. Well, two times I spot a player ship on the "wrong" side and try to engage in some PvP. I know, stupid reflex, but occasions are rare and this is a battleground, after all! The first guy is in a Sidewinder, the second in a fat Anaconda. However, those players kind of vanish; I do not know whether they engaged silent running and made away, if they just jumped away, or if they switched sides to avoid PvP (but I did not spot them "in green", either). I just loose sight of them on the scanner, they are gone and that´s it.

In the next few hours, I try out different weapon setups. So far, I fitted weapons according to the "EVE dogma": Optimal dps for a given combat situation by having same weapons all. However, either the designers know EVE very well and intentionally designed Elite the other way, or it is just a side effect of the airplane-simulator-style: I came to realize quickly that my approach is wrong. The reason lies in the difference of where your ship´s nose is pointing and where the guns´ muzzles are pointing. The latter is represented by those little triangles in the targeting reticule, one triangle per weapon. All weapons have to and do slightly adjust their muzzle pointing, because they need to adapt to the distance I am firing at. Gimballed weapons do not only adapt but actually follow the target in a limited angle. However, in this system, apparently it is difficult for all weapons to point at the same point and distance all the time. The symptoms I see are clearest with the multicannons: The ammo count soon differs substantially between the C1 and the C3 types, with the C3s having much more ammo left, i.e. they fired less often. It turns out that the C4-mounts of the Viper are down and midship, while the C2-mounts are right in front of the cockpit. There is only a very small targeting area in front of your nose where all four weapons can fire, gimbals or not. Opposed to my "EVE dps dogma", it seems therefore rather more efficient to concentrate on dual-set up weapon types. Which is kind of good, because it allows for more variety with only little disadvantage.

(Insert Viper loadout picture here! Yay I remembered to do a screenshot with Alt+F10! However, pics are too big in size, have to downgrade them first. They should have an option to choose resolution)

Lots of words, I hope I could make clear what I mean. I try out different set ups before I in the end arrive at what I now consider a good setup:
- 2xC4 railguns: way too much overheating slows dps down substantially
- 2xfC2 pulse, C4 railgun: use railgun whenever a clear occasion/aim, else stick to pulse when overheated
- 2xC1-gimbal pulse, C4 railgun, C3-gimbal multicannon: gimbal, enough said; multicannon only as a back-up for well-armored ships.

The last setup works well. Having tried out earlier the burst lasers, I have the impression that the pulse laser is stronger than both beam and burst versions. Not sure if this is intended, but maybe I still do not understand how to use burst and beam lasers to their best ability. The railgun is a very handy joker-cannon, its damage sometimes even cause one shot kills (only when hitting cockpit or other vital systems, I guess) and at least accelerate the destruction substantially.

After four hours straight of shooting and tinkering on my weapon setups, I want some tougher targets than offered here. But not Anacondas, as in the other fixed "high conflict zone" beacon, which is very close to the Federal distress call; they take eternity and yield relative crappy bounties. So I go back to patroling unidentified signals. Soon, I find a Cobra with "wanted"-status and engage. The Cobra evades and runs, but the Viper can stick to it thanks to its superior speed. As the Cobra is down to 23%, it happens: Cobra surges away, I follow and have to boost to stay in range. Cobra slows down and turns 90 degree, perfect fire solution. However, the Viper is like a bullet which left the chamber when boosted. I cannot slow down fast enough, but at the same time I want to maintain firing position. The Cobra approaches crazingly fast in my view, and in my tunnel vision, my tiredness after four yours of play, I sit and stare like the famous bunny in the snake´s gaze, and crash right into it. At about 400 km/s. I do not know what happened to the Cobra, but my Viper instantly transforms into an expanding cloud of gas and debis. As an afterthought in the void, I wonder; is it "working as intended" if a Viper with full armor and shields dissolves when crashing into a Cobra which barely still holds together at 23% hull? (Much wondering also in forum thread here)

 - still life, part 2

After a brief loading sceen, my friendly insurance company informs me I have the choice between the following ships and layouts:
- Sidewinder (starter ship)

Great, where is my Viper? I knew about this bug. I try to quit, log out, tab-kill the game, but it seems my Viper is indeed gone forever. Sigh. Time to end this session, I guess. It is 1 am.

- I can now actually take part in bug hunting with the Devs, as they are exactly looking for cases like mine.
- Talking of bugs, I forgot to mention that I was stuck very frequently in the super cruise exit screen when I wanted to drop into the Federal distress signal. Had to force quit by killing the process via the task manager.
- For future reference, I can directly access the ticketing-website without using the launcher.

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