Archive for the 'EVE Essays' Category

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I’m not a combat pilot.

If I’m in a fight, either (1) I screwed up and I’m trying to leave, or (2) I’m pretty sure I’m going to win, meaning, I’m pretty sure my ship can gank the other guy’s ship and be gone before the backup arrives. I’m not there for honor, glory, adrenaline, or “fair fights”. Either I think the guy’s ship will drop some salvage, or I think killing him will be to the political advantage of Ironfleet.

I like the way this EVE University director makes a similar point, howbeit he’s talking about having numbers on his side rather than (in my case) careful use of the rock-scissors-paper mechanics:

One war target took exception to my Scorpion, suggesting that I wasn’t playing “fairly”.

Let’s get this straight. The “fair” comes once a year, in the fall & features corny dogs & caramel apples. If I’m in a “fair” fight, then I’ve made a mistake. I want every engagement to be a 50 vs 1 insta-pop. CCP says that Eve features non-consensual combat. Fine. Those that would stoop to war dec’ing a training corp have no moral ground to cry for “fair” fights. They deliberately sought un-“fair” fights from the outset and cry out for “fair”-ness only when they are on the short end of the stick.

When you war dec the Uni, you must expect to fight overwhelming fleets of small ships piloted by the most bloodthirsty nOOb’s ever seen, backed by loads of electronic warfare and a few specialized big ships flown by the Uni’s most experienced pilots. Either that, or you must expect to stay docked.

Repeat after me, the fair comes once a year!

I spent much of yesterday visiting with an old and dear friend I’ve known since our college days. I played my first-ever game of Dungeons and Dragons with him, just to give you an idea, and we’ve enjoyed many of the same computer games over the years. He’s a responsible fellow these days, pursuing a respectable literary trade, and he takes care to avoid MMORPGs in the manner (he says) of an alcoholic who avoids taking his first drink of a promising new intoxicant.

So anyway, when he made inquiries about what I’ve been doing lately, the subject of Ironfleet and its recent EVE wars came up. And so I spent much time and enthusiasm (far more than was polite, I’m sure!) telling him all about it.

Today I get an email from him. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Sing, muse, of flaring wrath among the stars,
Hot passions in the dark and empty cold
Where vacuum waits with endless appetite
For any scrap that war will toss away.
In Ahynada Vryder’s Iteron died,
Flash-frozen wealth tumbling in stellar winds,
Its alloys scattered, its weapons free
For scavengers who scent the kill
And scan the dust for broken treasure.
Torpedo Ted had won a golden prize,
Had chased it from the Isaziwa belts
To Oiniken in his tiny Kestrel.
Rockets only, ancient rockets, fired
And fired again, as Torpedo Ted
Pursued his giant prey into Ahynada,
Rockets racing through the void, rockets piercing
Into the helpless, silent Iteron,
Which bleeds its oxygen into the night
Until the last triumphant, deadly flare
Seeds the void with blood-stained plunder.
Vryder lived to see the ship explode,
His tumbling pod a tiny hope of life
Against the infinite and empty night,
But he had mocked his enemies too much
And so the rockets came, and all was still.
Why came the Iteron to die
Unsuspecting in Ahynada?
Fleeing war, AC-ME sought to move
Away from Isaziwa, home to battle.
They packed their shining ships with wealth of worlds,
Marvels of design, improved with life after life
Of human genius, microscopic circuits
Wiser than prophets, and alloys stronger
Than ancient steel, and arms Hephaestos
Never saw as he shaped the mirror shield
Of all-conquering Achilles.
Ores too they brought, ready for the shaping
Into yet more marvels, and all they loaded
Into their ships and left for Rairomon,
Leaving Isaziwa a prey for war.
There lurked the patient Iron Fleet,
The shadow ships, that sought unguarded prizes,
Salvaging what others did not think was lost,
Jackal–like, who never challenged lions,
But whom the lions could not chase away.
There was wrathful Chebri, war’s beginner.
Unwitting tyrants are the worst of all,
For they will sacrifice not just themselves
But all around them. In righteous rage,
Believing they defend a universal law
That is nothing more than their own wills,
They bloodily impose their private dreams
Upon the world, and with the best intentions
They crush dissent for the cause of freedom.
The universe may freely give its wealth:
Its ores lie open, free to all who mine
The asteroids, but we are not so free.
Through years of guns and blood we carve out laws
To turn the open ore to private wealth.
But yet the best of human laws are gray.
If labor makes the right of ownership,
Does ore belong to those who carve it free
Or those who ship it home? The Iron Fleet
For years has wrenched a living from the void
Salvaging, and says that space-cold ore is free,
Unbound by mere intent of later claim.
Marlenus knows the letter of the law
And his Iron Fleet brings him wealth
And keeps the space-lanes clear of salvage.
But miners counting cans of wealth-to-be
When their haulers come, until the salvage
Claims their dreams and leaves their labor empty
Curse the Iron Fleet, and Chebri swore
That missiles should mend what law could not,
And AC-ME’s claim to private wealth extracted
From the public space should brook no rival.
There was no place for Iron Fleet in Chebri’s
Dreams, and so she armed for sudden war.
War she wanted, abrupt, bloody and bold,
Crisp combat and quick conquest, but
Space is too deep to force a single battle.
Though AC-ME and INDY besieged the Iron Fleet,
The ships slipped away, cloaked and concealed,
Lurking in the star-lanes silently,
Waiting for the moments the guard went down,
Then striking, turning, vanishing again.
Here Aeternus Kahn killed the Iron Mistress,
There Garrik lost a lonely mining barge,
As patient, silent war lurks in shadows,
Until in Ahynada the rockets rip open
Boastful Vryder’s dying Iteron.
Now come negotiations, and now comes peace,
If peace it is. Anger does not end,
When legal war is allowed to lapse,
The hope of wealth will lure ships back to Isaziwa,
To mine and salvage, to claim what is free.
The ore remains, unbleeding, while all around
The ships will fight and die and come again.
Marlenus and Torpedo Ted have won their names,
Vryder and Aeternus Kahn, and while this war
Is spoken of, the Kestrel’s kill is famous.
But in the cold infinity of space, more war
Will come, more names, more kills, more tumbling ruin.

You know you’re making progress in EVE when people pop up boasting of having killed you. People, I should be clear, who haven’t actually killed me.

I was checking’s incoming links when I found this forum discussion. A nice link to a recent blog post got this response:

hahah….bill….do you know that Marlenus guy?

i popped on of his ships a while ago when he was trying to jet can ‘salvage’ from my corps.

it was the single most enjoyable experience i have had in an mmo :smile:

Kitted up an osprey for ‘mining’….had only one mining laser, the rest was combat stuff….warp scramble and a silent targeter….it was awesome! he didnt see it coming

There’s only one problem with this story: it almost certainly didn’t happen. Nice story, though.

Memories can be bad, so it’s theoretically possible I’m mistaken, that I’ve forgotten something that happened when I was still a noob. I do remember losing a Badger Mark I to a mining barge this way, back in the day, when I first discovered that warp scramblers existed in the game. After that, I was careful; paranoid even. And I’m pretty sure it never happened again.

I’ve checked my killmails going back to 2006.05.29 — there’s been no ship loss as described during the last nineteen and a half months. So if it did happened, it happened when I was less than six weeks old.

(That date — when I was six weeks old — was the date I lost my first cruiser, got podded for the first time, and learned that saving killmails is important. My revenge on Swiftness and Omae Gaw’d hasn’t ripened … yet.)

So … killmail or shut the fuck up?

It’s not that I resent the story — as described, that’s an honorable way for a jetcan salvager to die. It’s just that I’m proud of never falling for that particular trick. You can count the number of lasers an Osprey is firing, and if they’ve only got one, that’s kind of a red flag. In my pre-Crane days, I always used lots of stabs in the low slots of my ore-hauling ships, and I learned to time the grab so that I was out before anybody could get a lock. I used to love hauling repeated loads out from under the guns of a mining battleship.

I’m pretty good at this.

I’ll warn you all in advance, this post isn’t particularly entertaining. You may just want to skip it.

This blog serves several purposes for Ironfleet. Entertainment of the audience is surely one of them, but it’s only one.

Obviously it’s useful to have a propaganda arm where we can spin the Ironfleet side of the story and control the dialog — I expect and assume that goal is obvious to everyone. I aim for truth, because truth is persuasive, but obviously it’s truth the way we see things — for objective reporting, buy a newspaper. (Er, on second thought, good luck with that.)

Another thing I use the blog for, is to serve as a prosthetic memory. Months later, these accounts help refresh my memory of personalities and events. That’s saved my butt several times now.

Related to that, the blog tends to fix ephemeral behavior in amber, preserving and displaying it for history. So much of what we do in EVE is fleeting, and gone as soon as the screen changes. When my enemies behave in ways that do them no credit, it strikes me as a worthy project to document that here, in their own words, where the search engines (and their next set of enemies) can find it forever. To me, someone who treasures words, that seems a far better revenge than blowing up yet another soon-forgotten virtual spaceship.

And that, my friends, is why I’m bothering to reproduce the evemails that follow. In them, Chebri seems almost to plead for trust, demanding that she be believed because (she says) her word is good. And then, in bitter irony of which she seems totally unaware, she tries to justify failing to extend that same courtesy to others (namely me and my corpmates). She knows she’s truthful so we should believe her, but if we tell the truth the way we understand it, she disagrees so we must be liars. It’s like she lives in a black and white world in which she, and only she, can know the one truth. She’s obviously never heard of the parable of the blind men and the elephant:

Once upon a time there was a certain raja who called to his servant and said, ‘Come, good fellow, go and gather together in one place all the men of Savatthi who were born blind… and show them an elephant.’ ‘Very good, sire,’ replied the servant, and he did as he was told. He said to the blind men assembled there, ‘Here is an elephant,’ and to one man he presented the head of the elephant, to another its ears, to another a tusk, to another the trunk, the foot, back, tail, and tuft of the tail, saying to each one that that was the elephant.

“When the blind men had felt the elephant, the raja went to each of them and said to each, ‘Well, blind man, have you seen the elephant? Tell me, what sort of thing is an elephant?’

“Thereupon the men who were presented with the head answered, ‘Sire, an elephant is like a pot.’ And the men who had observed the ear replied, ‘An elephant is like a winnowing basket.’ Those who had been presented with a tusk said it was a ploughshare. Those who knew only the trunk said it was a plough; others said the body was a grainery; the foot, a pillar; the back, a mortar; the tail, a pestle, the tuft of the tail, a brush.

“Then they began to quarrel, shouting, ‘Yes it is!’ ‘No, it is not!’ ‘An elephant is not that!’ ‘Yes, it’s like that!’ and so on, till they came to blows over the matter.

Toward the end of the EVEmails that follow, the exchange bogs down in specifics, and gets very repetitive of the same factual disputes that have been hashed to death already in the comments on this blog. If you care enough and read that far (I don’t recommend it) you’ll see that Chebril still can’t seem to distinguish between facts (did an event happen?) and semantics (what the undisputed event should be called, how it should be characterized, what it should be named).


Two weeks and neither of us has lost a ship to the other. Good match! I enjoyed the challenge.

Shame you involved ACME though. They really never knew about it until it was started. They did eve mail me intel from time to time but for the most part I used my own locate agents.

I enjoyed the creativity of your blog and ‘role play’ of your character which is what drew me to you. However, when it became apparent that you were blurring fact and fiction to the point that it affected other players, I lost respect for your writing.



Hey, got your mail yesterday, but was just wondering whether all that past tense was intended to indicate that you were going to let the war lapse.

As for the rest, I’m not too concerned. Your respect for my literary talents isn’t exactly my top gaming priority, and your concern about ‘fiction” became hilarious to me when you kept labeling my honest opinions and intel estimates as lies and fiction. I DO thank you for the implied threat of a lawsuit, though — that was genuinely the most entertaining communication I’ve ever gotten in EVE.

See you in the spaceways, if one of us is unlucky —


Your twisted perception never ceases to amaze me. I say apple…you say orange and so it goes.


At least I can tell when I’m in Jita — TorpedoTed still swears he saw you in local, and I know the man personally, he’s very truthful.

— Marlenus

I swear, on my great grandmother’s grave (very personal here) that I never jumped the gate into Jita. There are a lot of pilots in Jita and I can see someone getting confused between red stars and red skull n crossbones.

I have been completely honest with all players in game and I hate to be accused of having done something (like get backing from ACME, etc.) that I haven’t done. Every time I tried to get the facts straight talking to you you twisted my words. Frustrating.

And yeah I figure two weeks with no points on either side is a draw.


With an equal level of sincerity and honesty, and leaving all gaming posture aside, I tell you that (a) that’s what he told me, and (b) that’s what he believes. Of course, he could be mistaken.

When I first reported this, you IMMEDIATELY called it a lie. It wasn’t. It’s a true account of the data I have.

Don’t you see the irony in you expecting to be taken at your word, while shouting “LIAR’ at others?

You don’t seem to comprehend that other people see the world differently than you do. You don’t seem to understand that it’s possible for two people to look at the same data and reach different, HONESTLY different, conclusions.

I’ll send another email about the gaming matters. This is a different topic entirely.

— Marlenus

On the contrary. I do know that two people can observe a scene and have two different perceptions of what happened. However, there are also facts to be considered that are not subject to perception.

Fact (game logs to support) I never jumped to Jita.
Fact (game logs to support) I never got funding or support otherwise from ACME
Fact (game mechanics) ore theft is theft – not salvage

You toss accusations around without bothering to address the facts. That’s what I don’t have an appreciation for. Add to that the perception that others have that you seem to enjoy making miner’s lives miserable by stealing from them and yeah…I think you’re a lousy person. You enjoy hurting others. I have no respect for that.


OK, back in gaming mode.

You do know I saw you fleeted up with Sparkiec the first day of our war, and you were using him as a warp-to at a non-standard place outside my station, right? That’s support. I saw it with my own eyes. That’s backing. For that reason alone — and it’s only one of my many examples — I simply don’t believe your claims to have been acting alone. I saw it with my own eyes. Why should I believe otherwise?

And that has colored my willingness to believe other things you’ve said.

Without any desire to give offense, the credibility you want to have with me, is not present.

As for the draw, I agree — I’ve made no effort to hunt you, and you have failed to catch me. I never wanted war with you, remember? You could cancel it any time.

— Marlenus

As Cordus said on your blog, can you blame them for not being willing to provide information when you’ve stolen so much from their players? A few players helped from time to time. The CEO and directors had no idea what was going on until it had already happened. So you blame an entire alliance for the action of two players.

I don’t seek credibility with you. LOL I gave up on that. I was just trying to end the shooting amicably. I still have my credibility with people who matter.

Your war with ACME and their alliance is between you and them. I’ve no say in it as they’ve had no say in mine with you. I’ve asked the alliance leader if I was causing them problems and her reply was “do what you want – Ironfleet is just a blip on our screen.” LOL


all this and I’m still not clear — do you plan to end the shooting, or not?

— Marlenus

Doesn’t really matter what I say at this point, does it? I mean, you’re just going to assume that the opposite is true. Assumptions can be such a bitch. I’ll just let the facts speak for themselves.



There’s an old farmer’s saying that goes “Never try to teach a pig to sing. It just wastes your time, and annoys the pig.”

That’s how I feel about trying to talk about truth with Chebri. Note how it’s a “fact” if she saw it, but it’s a lie if me and mine saw it (TorpedoTed saw her face icon in Jita local. He just did.) She hates to be accused of doing something she says she hasn’t done (“like get backing from AC-ME”) but doesn’t mind accusing others of lying when they haven’t. Then when she admits she did do what she said she didn’t do (“A few players helped from time to time”) she tries to redefine “get backing” by saying “I never got funding”. Truth is a slippery thing indeed in her hands, and in classic human fashion she’s quick to accuse others of her own sins: “You toss accusations around without bothering to address the facts.”

Friends, I have addressed the facts. I have addressed them until I was blue in the face. I had to nail them down and chain them up, they were so tired of being addressed they were trying to sneak away for beer. (Yeah, they saw that’s where the audience went, and they were jealous.)

A waste of time for sure, and I apologize for boring you with it. But if this blog post saves just one person, ever, from making the mistake of trying to discuss truth with Chebri, it will have been worth my time.

And meanwhile, Chebri’s war is now in its third week. So what was all that “enjoyed the challenge” and “I figure [it’s] a draw” and “I was just trying to end the shooting amicably” stuff for? Unless I’ve counted my dates wrong, she paid her war bill before we started talking last night. I guess it’s more truth, Chebri style.

An anonymous commenter suggested (albeit with a question mark and a smile) that for me, EVE is about “screwing with the community.” To be honest, I find that a bizarre proposition.

I don’t see what I do as screwing with anybody. Do we talk about pirates (who are a much rougher bunch doing a lot more damage than I ever have, while laughing at the misery they strew down their own wakes) as screwing with communities? Not really, they’re just considered a force of nature to be dealt with. People don’t like them, but their play choices are recognized as legitimate.

I know EVE’s not really a role-playing game, but people adopt minor roleplaying elements to enhance their enjoyment. And that’s the story of Ironfleet in a nutshell. When we started this game, folks were doing missions at the stargates and leaving vast “canstellations” of uncollected loot. Scooping that stuff up (often under the guns of the battleships that were still finishing the mission) was the funnest thing we found to do as complete noobs flying cheap frigates. Most of us have gone on to more normal professions, but I’m the die-hard hard core. I still enjoy prospecting for loose stuff, and then securing it and removing it. Flying exotically-fitted cargo ships, finding stuff that’s not nailed down, scooping stuff up (and dealing with all the fallout and consequences and diplomatic excitement that results) is still the most fun I’ve found in this game. There’s nothing in this game that compares, for me, with the satisfaction of finding a ton of unanchored Giant Secure Cans in a belt, coming out in my fully rigged and expanded Bustard, and scooping them ten at a time, peaceful as you please. If there’s a mining operation going on around me and a bunch of screaming people discovering for the first time that you have to anchor your giant secure cans to make them “secure”, that’s a bonus. But it’s not necessary to my fun, and it’s not why I do it. I do it because I want the cans, and whatever is in them. Taking them back to my hangar is how I, personally, feel I’m “winning at EVE”.

So, that’s what Ironfleet does. We’re not in it to mess with people, it’s just that sometimes people feel messed with because what we do is relatively rare and (at least the way we do it) unexpected.

The current war, like our previous ones, is just part of the process. We see the war fee against INDY as an investment in our future. People have to understand that they can’t get away with carrying on industrial operations normally, mining dumb fat and happy in unescorted mining barges, while spinning off a few combat pilots to “punish” Ironfleet while exposing no juicy assets to conflict.

On average I was pulling one shipload of ore out of an AC-ME mining operation every other day or so. It would have been much cheaper for them to have accepted the status quo, rather than sending Chebri after me. This war is intended to help them understand that, and it should accomplish that goal even if I don’t have a single combat success.

Famous (and famously even-tempered) pirate Tiller posted the following anecdote about a not-so-good day. His opponent made me laugh:

Ahh, can’t beat a gentle midday gate camp, what could go wrong?

No blobs, low traffic… smell of burnt noob filling my lungs.

Erm… not quite.

So there we are, hugging low sec gate, 1 Domi, 2 tackle Drakes, 1 Zealot… Geddon pops up on scanner. JUMPJUMPJUMP. We jump through to get in tackle position on other side of gate.

ERROR1: “He’s engaged me!” One of us fail to jump and sit there instead. Geddon aggros him.

ERROR2: “Scram him!” This now leaves our drake aggro’d, tackled and under sentry and geddon fire without support.

ERROR3: “Get back to gate and jump back to help!” But, we all head back one at a time and each in turn die. One of us even aggro a passing shuttle which prevents jump.

Our Domi is last to die, with the help of some passing falcon pilot….


Domi, Drake, Drake, Zealot all lost to a single Geddon.


Everyone has there ‘time’ to suck at eve, that was ours. YARRRR!!

Icing on the cake was some guy in local asked Geddon what he was doing.

Geddon man calmly replies:

“just killing some pirates”

“do you need help” he asks

“no I’m ok thanks”

If you’ve ever wondered why CCP seems unusually committed to reprimanding and banning folks who make real world threats (“I’m going to find out where you live in real life and come kill your pets!”), here’s why:

Mexican World of Warcraft player Bronco Carson reported to local police on Saturday that 3 men broke into his home and beat his arms with clubs and smashed his computer. It was supposedly in retaliation for Carson stalking and repeatedly killing one of the attackers wife’s character during computer video game play.

Carson admitted to police that he had been “making it hard for her to get far in the game.” He said that after repeated online threats from the woman, she sent her husband and friends over to his house to “take care of him.” Carson later said that he had made the mistake of telling her where he lived and “if her husband was man enough to just come meet me to settle this.”

2 weeks leading up to the assault he said he had been harassed by a few characters constantly during game play. “I knew that I might be messed with in the game but I didn’t really expect her husband to come looking for me. I couldn’t have been more wrong.”

Carson suffered 2 broken fingers and a fractured wrist during the assault. They also destroyed his computer and entertainment center before leaving. No arrests have been made in connection with the assault.

OK, kiddies, what have we learned?

1) Even if you like to play aggressively, spread the love around. Focusing your gankage on one person is (a) being a dick and (b) earns you bad karma, which can come home to roost in unexpected ways.

2) Yeah, it’s only a game. Until you start stalking another man’s wife and insulting his manhood when he tries to defend her. Then it can get personal. Not to mention violent.

3) If you’re going to be an online dickhead who hides behind the safety and anonymity of the internet so that your asshole behavior doesn’t have real world consequences, then (for fuck’s sake!) don’t forget the “hiding” part. Giving your online victims your address and taunting them to come over and fight you? Survey says: STUPID!

4) It’s only a game. Until it gets serious. Which unhappy day may come for the other guy before it comes for you.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not arguing against gameplay that pisses people off and I’m not defending the real-world gank that Mr. Carson suffered. (Quite the contrary, those boys need some jail time.) But I do think it’s worth pointing out that to a very real extent, Mr. Carson appears to have been a victim of his own extreme griefing and smacktalking.

Inside most serious gamers is a frustrated game designer fighting to get out. Which is a nice way of saying, we all have strong opinions about how our favorite games could be improved.

I want to take a whack at “fixing” jet can mining. Don’t get me wrong, as a salvager I purely love jet cans, they are rich salvage opportunities. But everybody knows that they are a borderline exploit, in the sense that they were never intended to be used for mining.

And yet, as many a miner will tell you, the current alternatives to jet can mining are lacking. Best solution is a friend or a second account with a hauler, so you can mine and haul at the same time. But some people are short of friends, or have odd gaming hours, or don’t have the money for a second account, or don’t have a computer that will easily run two Eve session. And the two-accounts business has a hint of distasteful meta-gaming about it.

Another obvious fix would be larger secure containers. But (a) that’s a boring solution, and (b) any “fix” to mining that makes things notably easier for macro-ers and farmers is a non-starter.

So what’s needed is a “solution” that adds fun to the game. A way for the solo miner to mine without jet cans, but with greater efficiency than hauling with the mining vessel or mining into 3,900 cubic meter cans. Something that offers greater security from ore “thieves” (if you can truly steal that which has been freely jettisoned into vacuum) would be great, but it can’t be perfectly secure without enabling the macro/farmers too much. Ideally, it would also be something injects a coolness / fun factor into mining, and enriches the game environment for everybody.

What would such a thing look like? I submit it would look like a cheap, disposable “Solar Sail Ore Return Vehicle” or possibly “Ion Drive Ore Return Vehicle”.

Imagine the scene in the belts, if you will. Every so often, a mining ship releases an ore return vehicle. It pops out with large solar sail and slowly begins accelerating on a vector toward a nearby station. Although its acceleration is slow, it is continuous, so that by the time the ore return vehicle leaves the grid, it’s going faster than any ship in the game. Although the ore return vehicle never warps, it reaches a very fast top speed in normal space (I suggest about 1 AU per hour) until it reaches the destination station, where it is captured by station facilities and deposited in the owner’s hangar. (I suggest for ease of programming that the capture at station end be assumed and invisible, as we do *not* need the congestion of decelerating ore packages around busy stations. In role play terms, a big electromagnetic capture grid would do the job, and convert the kinetic energy of the return vehicles into useful industrial power in the process.)

Although there are numerous possible objections, they are all resolvable through balancing. What follows are some balancing suggestions and some open questions:

1) Ore in return vehicles should be insecure. While the return vehicle is accelerating out of the asteroid belt, it should be possible for folks to remove ore from them, just as they currently can remove it from jet cans, with the same agro / flagging results. Miners using this method should be prepared to defend their return vehicles during the launch phase, just as they currently defend their jet cans. However, each return vehicle will have a smaller amount of ore than a jet can, and it only needs to be defended until it reaches a speed faster than any ship that can catch it. I would suggest it should take about five minutes from launch until the ore return vehicle goes off-grid, which should also be (roughly speaking) when it’s going too fast to be vulnerable.

One thing I would also like, but can’t figure out how to balance, would be to have the vehicles be possible to intercept in deep space though probing or just being in the right place at the right time. But it’s got to be hard enough to be rarely done and only barely worth the trouble. And I can’t figure out how to make it possible at all if the top speed of the return vehicles is high enough to get them to station in a few hours.

2) Attackability of Ore Return Vehicles. As a sort of hybrid between ship and drone, the ore return vehicle should be fully attackable. In addition to being openable as it accelerates toward its destination (like a can), it should be able to be locked, webbed, bumped, shot, etc. Just as with anything else, in secure space hostile acts earn a Concord response. Otherwise, the cans should be fairly fragile; and if they die, they (option a) poof like a mining drone or (option b) leave a wreck which may or may not have its cargo inside.

3) Total time to return ore: This method should not be for people in a hurry. I think the return vehicles should require a period of hours to make the average belt-to-station journey.

4) Expense: This method should *not* be without cost for the miner. It should be an option, but strongly NOT the most efficient mining method in the game. There are a couple of ways of handling this. Make the return vehicles go *poof* during the ore-capture-at-station process and set the price of vehicles accordingly; or (harder) make the return vehicles re-useable (they accumulate in the station hangar) but have the station charge a percentage fee (appropriately faction-adjusted) for the capture process. I like the latter idea better, because then it would also be possible to have an “ore return vehicle capturing array” module for POS’s, enabling more widespread use of this technology in 0.0 space.

5) Variability: There’s no reason not to have a wide variety of ore return vehicles with differing prices, capacities, speeds, security levels, and special abilities. At different cost they could have various sizes, initial acceleration capability, some could be secure (either absolutely secure like a GSC or partially secure but vulnerable to hacking), and there could even be a line of militarized ones that look normal from outside but, upon being opened, explode like a mine, explode with a webbing effect, explode with a warp scrambling effect, launch a pod of combat drones to respond to the agro that the tinkerer just earned, or … you get the idea. (This is why I like the idea of reuseability; a miner could launch a certain percentage of dummy militarized ore return vehicles to get a “leave my ore alone” reputation, but they could be re-used if they get “home” without being molested.

6) Deployment: How many can a mining ship carry and what does it take to launch them? This offers the biggest scope for balancing. I’d like this tech to be available to every Bantam-mining new miner peon, at a low level of efficiency; but I’d also like it to be something that can be fruitfully used by a serious miner in a covetor or hulk. I think the return vehicles themselves should be, in packaged form, 25 cubic meters or so, enough that a frigate miner could go out with four or six and mine for quite awhile, while a barge can go out with dozens and mine, well, also for quite awhile. At the low end, I think they should carry five hundred or a thousand cubic meters of ore (which means a frigate miner will still need to use jet cans a bit to load one, if it works like that) up to perhaps four thousand cubic meters for barge boys who are willing to pay the price in isk and skills.

Launch procedure is another matter. There has to be an activation process (so the owner can specify which station or capture array in system the return vehicle is going to) and to me that suggests a high slot module. That’s no big deal for a mining destroyer or cruiser, but it’s brutal on frigates and barges. Perhaps, given the essential interaction with the cargo holds, this should be a low slot module? Push the button, a window pops up allowing you to choose the destination, and boom! The vehicle launches (sucking a load of ore from the cargo hold) and begins sailing away in the appropriate direction. Wherever it sits, the module should use packaged return vehicles as ammo (and, potentially, could even have an ammo capacity of one or more vehicles, reloadable from the cargo hold as usual).

It’s also possible that this whole technology, with much larger ore return vehicle sizes, should be added as one of the capacities of the capital mining/industrial vessel that is supposed to be coming. In that case, though, I think the capital version of the ore return vehicle should be able to carry anything (not just ore) and should have the ability to use at least one jump gate (albeit with slow acceleration away from the gate giving another chance for theft).


Ore return vehicles would add visual richness and coolness factor to mining and to asteroid belts, offer a more secure alternative to jetcan mining at the cost of some efficiency, and improve the mining experience for everyone. At the same time, it avoids offering any perfectly-secure mechanisms that would inevitably be abused by macro-ers and farmers, and ensures that miners will not be able to fully opt out of the PvP experience they currently “enjoy”. I submit that this would be a reasonably-simple-to-implement, easy-to-balance, worthy addition to the game.

Update: I also posted this in the Features And Ideas Discussion forum on Eve-Online. You can find it here if you want to add any feedback. Thanks!