Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Tyrannis Minerapocalypse Dev Blog

CCP officially responded to the insurance changes with a dev blog, and I can say I feel pretty good about what I've seen so far.
  • The insurance rates will now be dynamic recomputed based upon market prices for the commodities used to build ships, the payout you get may change over the lifetime of the insurance contract (assuming your ship lives long enough)
  • A number of steps are being taken to reduce the supply of minerals from secondary sources, the loots tables will be getting tweaked to replace some Tech 1 loot with scrap metal and faction tags
  • Drone compounds are being rebalanced to return more low end minerals. Plush compound is now even more awesome for mineral compression than it was before with a 50:1 compression ratio. Shame there's no Plush Compound BPO....
  • Mid range asteroid ores which appear in lowsec are getting a boost to the production of low-end minerals, with the intention of balancing the spread of ores and making those midrange rocks worth mining again.
  • Insurance rates for different ship types are getting tweaked, T2 ships in general will be buffed while supercaps are going to find the default insurance rates dropped to <10%
There's a bit of speculation going on, particularly among Zydrine and Megacyte which have seen their values drop significantly in the last year. Personally I wish there were a mineral futures market because I could short sell those low ends minerals that are likely to drop in value even before the Tyrannis update drops.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Oh what a noob I was....

It's almost two years since I started playing Eve and while I now have something of a reputation regarding my broad knowledge of the game, but it's not something that happened overnight and while I did a few things right I made a lot of 'mistakes'.

.When illectroculus was created it was primarily because there was a special offer on steam that gave me a 21 day free trial and I'd seen the tv ads which had been playing during battlestar gallactica. I'd previously tried a 14 day trial but had been too busy with the kids to take it beyond the basic tutorial, so I signed up for the extended trial.

Mistake #1 was doing this on the same day as Empyrean Age was released (I guess that's why CCP PR had gone on the marketing blitz with TV commercials), so I couldn't even login, and my first 24 hours of account time were essentially spent trying to get logged in, but I didn't yet understand the skill training system so I wasn't all mad about missing all that training time.
Lesson Learned: Patchday = Downtime, Have a long Skill training.

When I created my pilot I had no idea how the races or attributes worked, so I pretty much chose a race and bloodline entirely on being able to create an avatar that looked like my real self - so a Caldari Civre Male. And at the time I chose the 'Prospector' background, the first step on a career in mining and industry. Until Apocrypha was released almost a year later I had 'experts' with Caldari-Achura avatars telling me I'd made a huge mistake..... not so much any more.

Mistake #2 was when I took those 5 customizable attribute points I had and use them to balance out my starting stats, leaving myself with the 8,8,8,8,7 starting attributes that pilots start with these days.
Lesson Learned: Use evemon or other character planners.

Mistake #3 was after I'd run the noob mining tutorial and had a shiny new Bantam frigate. I looked for some new missions and found an agent in a nearby system who gave me my first level 1 mission - 'Worlds Collide'. I set my bantam up with a Civilian Afterburner, Civilian Shield booster and a 75mm Railgun loaded with 100 rounds of lead ammo. Shortly after arriving and trying to run between the gates I received my first lossmail, so I can forever see how much of a noob I was.
Lesson Learned: Even easy missions can't be done in a failfit mining frigate.

Mistake #4, was when I looked at bigger and better ships, I 'upgraded' to a Cormorant destroyer because I thought it would be a good mining platform, with a larger cargo bay and more turret slots for mining lasers. I completely failed to understand ship bonuses and didn't appreciate that the bantam did an awesome job at sucking down ore (actually bantams are good at sucking at everything). I mined in that cormorant for a long time before I upgraded to an Osprey.
Lesson Learned: Ships have bonuses, learn to use them.
Mistake #5, was when I started training railgun skills to make that cormorant a decent mission runner. I ignored any missile training, after all, the ships I'd used were all turret based - the Ibis, Bantam, Cormorant, Osprey. I didn't train any missile skills seriously for a long time.
Lesson Learned: Missiles are a lot easier than guns.

Mistake #6, was buying a Ferox long before I was able to fly it with any serious ability, I tried a couple of level 2 missions in it and found that my Cormorant was vastly more effective (duh!). I still didn't have any drone skills so I was shooting at frigates with medium guns and the one missile launcher I'd put on to fill out that last slot. The Ferox got left in storage for a while....
Lesson Learned: Using a ship is not the same as being able to fly the ship.

Mistake #7, was using Giant Secure cans for mining without anchoring them first, which meant that another pilot came along in a hauler and stole my ore. So I used my Osprey's missile launcher to shoot at his badger and he warped off because I didn't have a warp disruptor. Figuring that I getter grab my ore I flew back to station and grabbed my badger and warped back to my cans, and to his Kestrel, which did in fact have a warp disruptor. The single gun on my badger didn't help me one bit. However, I did switch into a cormorant and come back with guns blazing, this time the fight went my w ay very quickly and he warped off to station, I gave chase and managed to kill his kestrel as he was waiting for his aggression timer to expire. So, my first PVP loss and kill happened, and I realised that PVP was thrilling in a way that I'd been missing.
Lesson Learned: Anchor Cans, PVP is exciting.
Mistake #8, having figured out how agents worked I'd been progressing up the corporate ladder and was running level 2 missions using my Cormorant, which was now quite capable of sniping those pesky pith pirates. I felt I could take on anything in this, and when I got offered 'Recon (1/3)', for the first time I felt my trusty destroyer would have no problem killing the rats for bonus points. It of course failed badly and taught me to read mission instructions with greater care. For good measure I also apparently had a mixed gun type setup and a Connections skillbook in in my cargo? At least I had the right kind of shield hardener for dealing with Guristas, I was clearly getting a little smarter. But for extra stupidiity points I still lost another couple of ships failing to run between gates and instead waited until downtime to let the enemies reset. I also remember running the toxic cloud in Recon 3/3 using the ferox with shield and armor tank, just for good measure.
Lesson Learned: Keep mission objectives in mind. Destroyers have paper thin tanks.
Mistake #9, the corp I'd join had had a couple of war decs already but I'd failed to have any direct contact with any of the aggressors, so when another came along it was business as usual. Business clearly being moving an empty hauler from my base in Lonetrek down to the new base in Tash-Murkon. The hauler was cheap, but the implants from the pod set me back 50million. Doh!
Lesson Learned: Autopilot during wardecs is a bad idea.

Mistake #10, took a short cut through lowsec in my Ferox, lost it to a gatecamp. I had a full rack of warp core stabs... in my hold.
Lesson Learned: never be in too much of a rush.

Now, around this time I thought I might take some time off... say in november, I had heard about ghost training, and decided I could get Battleship V training before my account was suspended. It wasn't really a mistake so much as it was a case of unfortunate timing when CCP nerfed the ghost training days after I'd hatched this plan. I had Caldari battleship 3 by this point, and access to s ome level 4 agents, so I saved up and moved from a Ferox to a Rokh, not the best mission battleship by any means but it taught me the usefulness of drones, and how to warp around grid and snipe targets. So not really a mistake, but it highlights how I managed to become a railgun focussed Caldari pilot, the Ibis really needs to have missile hardpoints.

Mistake #11, I'd been moving some stuff back and forth between 0.0 and hi-sec and wanted a better hauler, I realised I had the pre-reqs for the Transport Ships skillbook that would let m e fly blockade runn ers. This was pre-Quantum Rise so they just had higher agility ad built in warp core strength. Nonetheless, I trained the skill, bought a Crane in Jita and then realised I needed to also have Caldari Industrial V to fly it. The upside was that the change to Blockade runners was announced soon afterwards and I was able to sell my ship for 150% of the price I paid for it when QR launched.
Lesson Learned: Some ships have multiple Pre-Requisites.

Mistake #12, lost a hulk mining inside a mission in lowsec, I still hadn't learned about probes or directional scan. I did a lot of AFK mining in a hulk and realised I was getting some nice drops from the pirate rats, so I figured the drops in lowsec would be more profitable. It worked for a couple of days, then I got scanned down....
Lesson Learned: 'Safe Spots' needs to be in quotes.

Mistake #13, undocked from a station in a covert ops when war targets were camping the station. Even frigates align time is long enough for an enemy to lock you when you're not turning from a standing start.
Lesson Learned: Instawarp bookmarks are a lifesaver.

Mistake #14, Jumped into a wormhole, watched exit collapse, ended up scanning a route back to normal space 30 jumps deep inside the drone regions.
Lession Learned: It's not just other players who you shouldn't trust.

Mistake #15, went on a roam with some very expensive faction & t2 battleships, I was the sole tackler in the fleet flying a raptor. I had a friend in fleet who would apply remote sensor boosters to help me lock targets. I missed several easy kills because I had autolock turned on and kept locking and scramming my friend while the red escaped.
Lesson Learned: Disable autolock... always.

Final Mistake Writing this.
No lesson learned here.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The GTFO Maneuver

One of the first things you should learn about combat in Eve is that the only guaranteed move that will keep you safe is the GTFO maneuver, warping off to a station or POS is the most reliable way to deal with a bad situation. Or just picking a random celestial and warping towards it will save your ship, especially if it's only NPC's that are laying the hurt on you since they won't give chase. Once you're in warp you're essentially untouchable, which means that a would be pirate wants to kill your ship then they have to stop you warping off to safety - hence the existence of an array of high tech gizmos designed to stop other ships from warping off. Warp Disruptors and Warp Scramblers are an essential tool for any PVP pilots, be they pirates, militia or warlords in 0.0.
  1. Dock At A Station, usually the one you just undocked from and realised that there's a bunch of hostiles waiting on the undock point. If you're unlucky the station will have already spat you out beyond docking radius, and you need to slowboat back into range. EIther way, you have to wait at least 30 seconds before you redock, and if you shoot at anyone then the docking manager will leave you outside until you stop shooting for 60 seconds.
  2. Jump Through A Nearby Gate it's pretty common that you'll get the OhShitIt'sAGateCamp feeling moments before you get the OhShitICan'tWarp experience. You'll have 30 seconds of cloak, and a gate that's 12km away which if frequently the fastest way out, but don't be impatient, the gate won't accept you right way because of session timers, so take a few deep breaths before gunning at the gate. Again there's also a 60 second aggression timer, so don't do anything other than gun for the gate.
  3. Warp Core Stabilizers are modules that take up low slots, these will counteract the effects of a warp disruptor, but you may need more than one of these depending on what the enemy is using, and they're completely ineffective against interdictors. However warp core stabilizers seriously nerf your ability to lock targets which really makes doing anything other than the GTFO maneuver a pain.
  4. Move beyond warp disruptor range, If you're faster than the enemy then you can try running, Warp scramblers are pretty short range, typically less than 10km, Disruptors are good out to 25km or more for some ships.
  5. Get Out Of Targeting Range and the enemy will be unable to keep you locked. There are very few cases where a warp disruptor will have longer range than a ships sensors, but applying sensor dampeners to an enemy can cut down their range quite significantly.
  6. ECM can be used to break the enemies lock on you completely, either in the form of directed ECM, an ECM burst or ECM drones, it might take a few cycles, but it will work eventually.
  7. Energy Neutralizers will suck the tackler's capacitor dry, leaving the enemy without power to keep their jamming equipment running, or maybe just shutting down their MWD for long enough to let you pull range.
  8. Kill the ship tackling you, or at least do enough damage to make them perform the GTFO maneuver themselves. This is the first option that occurs to young pilots, but it's also pretty unlikely to work, after all, it's what the enemy is expecting, and they wouldn't have committed to the attack unless they were expecting to prevail.
The reason I'm bringing this up is that this is not something you're going to be able to decide when it happens, odds are you're going to find yourself scrambled and feel helpless, and unless you have friends nearby to help extricate you from your predicament. Options 1 and 2 are frequently forgotten or messed up my pilots who don't know about the various timers that prevent you jumping or docking. Most of the other options require you to have special modules fitted on your ship, which requires a level of planning usually filed away under 'cunning' and #8 sucks because unless you're able to tackle the aggressor he'll run off and you'll miss out on a killmail regardless of how awesome your combat prowess was.
So yeah, there are many ways to try an extricate yourself, but odds are if an enemy has commited to battle you're at a disadvantage, get on the hotline, call in whatever support you can, overheat all your modules, and when your structure is failing you make sure you spam warp to get your pod to safety so you can spend your insurance payout on something other than a new clone and implants.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Ugly Truth About Learning Skills and Learning Skills

It's best summed up by the CCP dev who when asked about Learning Skills at Fanfest stated that he wished they'd never been put in the game, and that they've yet to come up with any viable idea for removing them from the game without pissing off large sections of the playerbase. So, everyone trains these skills because it increases the value of their gametime, even if it stalls the slow trickle of rewards afforded by training useful skills.

Eve players tend to get obsessed by skills and skillpoints, they're the only comoddity in the game for which there exists no real shortcut to acquiring, you can't buy skillpoints or exchange standing for skills. So anything that makes the acquisition of skills faster is generally considered to be of utmost importance to players, so much so that people make some really bad decisions in the name of maximizing skill training.
  • I've heard quite a few pilots invite their friends to a free trial, give them money for skillbooks and then say 'Don't bother playing until you've trained all these learning skills'. Result typically is that the new invitee doesn't play the game, doesn't sign up and then tells all their friends that the game sucks because you need to spend time training skills so you can train skills.
  • This thread on Scrapheap Challenge is from a player who created a new alt account and complained that he couldn't get his API key for 72hours (new players don't get website access immediately to limit spammers). As a result he couldn't load his details into EveMon to analyze the optimal plan, and fearful he might waste some of his 200% training bonus on sub optimal skills decided it would be better to let the account sit for 3 days with nothing training at all. Now, I've thrown a 5/4 learning plan into EveMon and no matter how hard I try I can't make a sub optimal plan that takes 3 days longer... This is a perfect case of analysis paralysis.
  • There are hordes of carebears who are terribly afraid of pvp because they might lose their expensive implants... but it gets worse, there are pilots who fly in 0.0 and resent jumping into a clone with no implants so they can PVP because they're end up having to train at a slower rate for at least 24 hours.
  • There are a ridiculous amount of Caldari-Achura pilots because prior to the release of Apocrypha these characters started off with the lowest Charisma attribute leaving more points in 'useful' attributes. Nowadays the curse of the Achura still lingers, with attribute remaps the Achura pilots are forced to raise their charisma so you find players that refuse to take advatage of remaps for fear of losing the one thing that justified their character choice years ago. IMHO Caldari Achura Males are also cursed with the worst character portraits, and so now you have a whole bunch of players regretting wishing they could change their looks (you can, for a fee, but you can't change race/bloodline, so it'd still be an ugly protrait).
The effort spent in training learning skills takes time to pay off, if you're just starting out, I'd recommend that you train some halfway useful skills first, you should start training your racial frigate skill to level 3 so that you can fly the combat frigate given to you during the tutorial missions and unlock access to the destroyers skill. Gallente should pick up a couple of levels of drone operation, and caldari/minmatar should get some missile training. Get all the upgrades skills at level 1 - Hull Upgrades, Shield Upgrades, Electronic Upgrades, Energy Grid Upgrades, Weapon Upgrades & Afterburner. That will give you access to modules that'll let you build decent ships. You should be able to do all this in 12 hours, and you should use the game's skill queue to manage this, make the 'long' frigate training your long term priority, and then push the shorter skills to the front of the queue so you can take advantage of them sooner. For the tutorials you'll probably have to train astrometrics, Industry and Propulsion Jamming depending on the path, and to be honest I recommend doing them all so that you gain practice and good loot.

Now.... if you feed all those skills into EveMon you'll find that you can take advantage of learning skills to make the Frigate training a little shorter, so go and buy the Iron Will and Spatial awareness skills, train them to level 1 so that your frigate skill comes faster. But forget training more until you can fly a Rifter/Incursus/Punisher/Kestrel, that'll let you run all the tutorial missions, and, you can even do the Sisters of Eve epic mission arc with just those basic skills. (Rookies might need help, but I've been able to solo the whole thing with <80,000sp
While you're running all these missions, making money and most of all having fun you'll be getting some learning skills to make your experience in the long term smoother.

If you feel that you need some new skills for more awesome gizmos then it really doesn't hurt you that much to train them, get some basic cruiser skills if you want to, it'll be the best ship you can fly until you sign up for a full account, and by the time you sign up for a full account you'll probably have a better grasp at the long term effects of the training system and you'll know just how much effort you can bear to expend on the whole learning skills ordeal.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Make Those Deep Safespot Now While You Still Can

Space is big, and so by extension, Eve is big. You may have heard about Other(tm) MMO's where you can walk around the world in under an hour, or if you're being nefarious, you can get some epic monster to chase you from their spawning grounds into some newbie zone and laugh as it tears up the unsuspecting kids before you get punished by GM who also thinks its funny, but is 'just doing his job'. This is not possible in Eve, but don't worry there are many more nefarious things to do in Eve that are full of amusing possibilities, and the GM's won't get mad at you either, unless of course it's been labelled an exploit.

You can travel around 'grid' at conventional speeds where most of the interesting action takes place, you can warp from one grid to another inside a solar system, and you can jump from one system to another via jump gates/portals/bridges or wormholes. In some situations you can fly from one location in system to another without warping depending on the distance, your ship's speed and your patience, it's quite possible to build ships that exceed 10km/sec without running out of cap, and there are some stations that are thousands of kilometers apart, there are occasionally reasons to do this kind of thing - generating bookmarks and some fancy grid-fu. However distances inside solar systems are generally measured in Astronomical Units, which in layman's terms is loosely defined as the distance from the Earth to the Sun, 1AU is roughly 150 million kilometers so you'd take a good 6 months to move this far in your speed setup.

So, warp drive is what we use, even the crappy rookie ships can travel around at 3AU/second, that's 1.6 billion billion kilometers per hour, 1500 times the speed of light, so you can cover most distances inside solar systems in under a minute, some ships are even faster than this, but it's rare that it makes a significant difference. The thing about warp drive is that you need a known destination, you can't just point your ship at the second star on the left and go straight on until morning, not least because 'morning' is a hugely subjective term when you're not tied down to the surface of a planet. The game let you warp to known celestials like planets, moons and asteroid belts, your agents will supply you with bookmarks for mission objectives, and you can scan down the locations of some things using probes. If you're part of a fleet you can warp to other pilots in the fleet, which can be a really bad idea if you don't check with them first and find yourself in the middle of a hostile battlefleet that your cloaked associate was observing.

I'm sure you know that you can make bookmarks any time for later use, and the traditional method of creating 'safe spots' is to make a bookmark when your warping between some planets. They're called safe spots because bad guys can't find you there by accident, they have to break out the probes and scan you down, and even then it's possible to cloak your ship or reduce it's scan signature enough to make it invisible to probes. This well known method lets you generate a hard to find spot inside the solar system, however, there's a technique which lets you exploit the emergency warp mechanics and get safe spots anywhere, and with enough effort you an generate a spot 1000+AU from the star.

These super deep safes are important strategic resources because moving capital ships around doesn't work using jump gates like everyone else, capital ships have their own jump drives that propel them instantaneously from one system to another. But such epic feats of navigation are not possible without a cynosuaral beacon, a device that sends a powerful signal that a capital ship can lock onto and jump to, unfortunately it's so powerful that everyone in that destination system sees it, and they can warp to it. Worse, the beacon when activated stays activated for several minutes, and immobilises the host ship making it a sitting duck with a huge flashing sign saying 'here's a sitting duck'. Capital ships are also not known for their agility, once they arrive at their destination they take a long time to get into warp, it's easy for a hostile force to respond to a cyno beacon and tackle whatever is coming through. Super deep safespots buy the incoming fleet time to warp off to another spot before any hostile forces can intercept which is generally considered 'a good thing (tm)'.

So now I've explained all that I'm sure you want to know all about this exploit, well I'm not explaining it again, there's a whole bunch of other places that explain the tricks. The goons published a guide called 'project poseidon', although they recommend using an Anathema, I found that it's more efficient to use a Blockade runner with Hyperspatial Velocity Optimization rigs, and in friendly territory Hulks and Orcas are better still.

Anyway this is no longer the big secret it once was, CCP have decided to fix the 'problem' and so if you try to use the 'logging out in warp' trick on Singularity you'll find that the ship completes the regular warp cycle first before it initiates the emergency warp. No more shall you be able to create these bookmarks beyond the edge of the system. And now there's a question about the bookmarks that already exist, will CCP delete these? Or will they become something of a shadowy commodity increasingly valuable over time as old players leave and take their bookmarks with them?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Tyrannis Teaser Trailer

Didn't generate anything like the 'Spaecships!' level of excitement that the Dominion trailer did amongst my kids, but I'm now counting the days until the release in May.

Things CCP Could Do To Help The Mineral Markets And Keep Miners Happy

CCP Devs have confirmed that the changes to the insurance rates are indeed intentional and a Dev Blog will be forthcoming explaining this. Now most players aren't freaking out yet, even with all the forecasts of doom regarding the inevitable collapse of the mineral market, there's a definite feeling that the system is being heavily exploited and that the miners generating the oversupply of minerals are largely unaware of how much they're supported by insurance fraud.
Insurance isn't the only thing that's messing up the mineral market, and it isn't the only thing that could stand fixing. The people that are fuelling the epic mineralpocalypse threadnought are largely in agreement that the expected insurance changes would be a good thing if they were combined with some other changes to the system. Some even secretly hope that CCP have some of these changes planned for Tyrannis so that there's something to sustain those players who make mining their primary business.
So here's a short list of 'great ideas' that the devs could roll in with the next release.

Loot Refining Nerfs
Mission and ratting loot make up 40% of the mineral supply, the crappy modules get reprocessed and the minerals sold instead. This leads to an oversupply of mid range minerals which means that there's no ore in low-sec which is more profitable that the base ores in hi-sec.
  • Reduce Station refine rates for non-industrial NPC corporations: All those caldari Navy plants now only get 35% refine rate leading to a reduction in mineral output. Players can move loot to other stations for re-processing, but then they need high standings or they get hit with the 5% mineral tax. Besides most players are lazy and will just take the hit. Feasbility: Easy No real code changes, just a bunch of database entries.
  • Remove all T1 Loot: Plain Tech 1 items frequently refine into more minerals than the meta version, so only dropping meta 1-4 items would reduce the amount of minerals coming from missions. Feasability: Moderately Easy, Update all the loot tables.
  • Replace Meta Loot With Broken Items: to make a broken named item work you combine it with the Tech 1 item and blueprint. The broken items can't really be reprocessed into anything meaningful, so they're no longer a source of minerals, and manufacturing the named items generates more demand from the mineral market. Feasability: Complicated, needs new production paths for all tech 1 blueprints, and new items in the database corresponding to every meta item, and all the loot tables need updated.
  • Remove Perfect Refine Rates From Module Reprocessing: with good skills and a god station you can get every mineral out of a module that was put into making it. This could be adjusted so that it's no longer possible to recover everything, alternatively there could be different return rates for different components so that it's harder to recover high end minerals from modules. Feasability: Moderate, needs code changes and database updates to differentiate which items can be refined perfectly.
Anti Macro Measures
There's always a perception that there are a whole bunch of macro mining bots out there ruining the market for the honest players, ergo, any anti macro measure is particularly good for miners. (note that there are clearly plenty of isk farmers running courier bots in magnates around hi-sec, or macro-ratters in 0.0, mining isn't the only thing that easy to automate).
  • Fake Ores In Belts: We've seen Barren Asteroids and Fools Crokite in missions so extend these to belts and make them mineable for worthless ore. Have one false asteroid type for each real ore asteroid and they'll get mixed up on the overview. Unless the bot is smart enough to read the overview it will end up mining worthless ore, many bots simply repeat the same set of mouse actions in a loop. Alternatively, don't remove asteroids when they become 'barren' simply leave them there and let bots try and fail to mine these rocks. Feasability: Moderate, Need new objects for the worthless asteroids and ores, the existing asteroid models can still be used. Belts need to be re-seeded to include the fake rocks.
  • Nerf Respawn In Static Belts, Move More Mining Into Exploration Sites: Because the perception is that people running macros are too lazy to scan down sites, so the miners who work at it will be rewarded with bigger rocks. As an alternative to exploration, you could make asteroid locations available by talking to agents for mining corporations. You can't kill off static belts completely since they're used as locations for spawning npc pirates. Feasability: easyish, revert the respawn rate changes, add more exploration sites.
  • Even More Unholy Raging: ban them alll! Feasability: it's been done before, just keep doing it.
Give Miners Other Things To Do
  • Better Mining Missions: Mining missions tend to be interspersed with lots of courier and combat missions, and they tend to take as long as the equivalent level of combat missions but can't pay nearly as well because the loot and bounties aren't there. So, work on those mining missions a bit so that a mining character can essentially be an independent contractor to those dedicated mining corporations. Feasability: easy enough, but I imagine content creators don't dream about creating mining missions.
New Things to Build With The Minerals
All of these NPC manufactured items are cash sinks right now (well we're speculating about the new planetary interaction stuff),
  • POS Components: We get blueprints to transform those into the faction variants, how about seeding BPO's for building regular variants to give me something to do with those minerals. This is an established environment, so moving to player generated production wouldn't have to deal with any demand spike due to them being 'teh new hotness'.
  • Sov Structures: There's a lot of reasons that IHubs and similar were seeded on the market, there was going to be a huge demand on day one and no chance to ramp up production, plus there was the epic voyage of freighter convoys moving deep into 0.0 only to get hotdropped by Titan pilots playing with their new toys. Seeding blueprints for these would soak up excess minerals, but maybe with the restriction that they still need a special production facility that is only found in NPC stations so that we can still have those freighter convoys.
  • Planetary Interaction Widgets: they'll probably be seeded on the market on day one, simply because there'll be a huge demand, but, I can dream about building these things from blueprints so that the insurance floor dropping out doesn't mean dropping the whole mineral market with it. Since they're new there's an argument that this would be the most logical way to generate new mineral demand.
I sincerely doubt we'll see any of this in Tyrannis, everything we've seen on the test server points to a re-pricing of the mineral basket and nothing more. The biggest questions are still whether this is a static or dynamic re-pricing, and of course, whether prices will change rapidly enough to open a window for market speculators to make a real killing.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

How To Setup Your Noob Ships

Setting up ships can be intimidating, especially once it comes time to actually share them with the universe either by launching them into the face of hostile fire, or simply by pasting your design into the rookie help channel and getting 'critiqued' - so here's a setup for each of the rookie ships that provide some clues on how to build ships in eve and take advantage of strengths and weaknesses. While it's possible to use perfect skills and fancy gear to get crazy dps out of noobships these are actual practical fits that need minimal skill training and attempt to reflect the characteristics of the race.

The minmatar rookie ship gets a 5% speed bonus per level of frigate skill. Minmatar ships use projectile weapons and speed, so the setup I advise for those first practice missions agains Angel pirates is....

High Slots: 2x 125mm Gatling Autocannon, loaded with Fusion S
Mid Slot:
1mn Afterburner
Low Slot: Nanofiber Internal Structure
Skills Needed: Afterburner 1, Hull Upgrades 1
Optional: Add Warrior Drone to drone bay, Needs Drones 1 & Scout Drones 1
Rookie ships are hugely challenged when it comes to power grid, they get 12.65 MW with starting skills, they're mainly supposed to fit civilian modules and the civilian afterburner only uses 1MW of that grid leaving plenty of room for guns. However, at some point pirates stopped dropping civilian afterburners and now they're pretty expensive (500,000 isk is a lot for a new pilot). So instead we go for uber speed and fit a full on 1MN afterburner that takes the top speed up to over 800m/s, and add the Nanofiber Structure for extra speed and agility at the expense of making your ship a little more fragile. The good news is that projectile guns don't take much power to run, so there's still room for a pair of autocannons. Flying this is all about moving in fast and orbiting quickly to kill the target whil ebeing hard to hit, one good hit will probably kill you.

The gallente rookie ship gets a 5% per level bonus to hybrid damage and a drone bay with room for 2 drones... so train those drone skills
High Slots: 2xLight Electron Blaster, Antimatter Charge S
Mid Slots: Stasis Webifier
Low Slots: Magnetic Field Stabilizer
Drone Bay: 2x Hobgoblin I
Skills Needed: Weapon Upgrades 1, Propulsion Jamming 1, Scout Drone Operation 1, Drones 2
Gallente's preference for close ranged blasters is hurt by the fact that I can't use a civilian afterburner due to it's expense, so I substitute a stasis web that will slow down a targeted ship and let me get in range to deliver the hurt from those blasters. However the real advantage comes from the drones which can engage most things at range, leaving the blasters in reserve for fast ships that get too close. It's eminently possible to run level 1 DED plexes in this if you keep your distance.

The caldari Ibis gets a 10% bonus to the range of Hybrid turrets, as such it doesn't do a perfect job of reflecting caldari combat tactics since it lacks missile hardpoints, instead it's closer to their railgun snipers.
High Slots: 125mm Railgun, Uranium Charge S
75mm Railgun, Tungsten Charge S
Mid Slots: Civilian Shield Booster
Low Slots: Magnetic Field Stabilizer
Skills Needed: Weapon Upgrades 1
Optional: Add Hobgoblin drone, Needs Drones 1 & Scout Drones 1 skills
This of course commits the fitting sin of using multiple weapons with differing ranges, but the alternative is one large gun for more range, or 2 smaller guns - both options deliver less damage so this mixed gun setup wins. Note the different ammo types to keep the optimal ranges roughly about 10km, and you can hit all the way out to 20km if you switch ammo types. Keep targets at range and pick them apart. The shield booster is of course the classic caldari shield tank, the only active tanking module that can reasonably fit on a rookie ship to be honest.

The amarrian rookie ship gets a 10% reduction to energy turret capacitor use.. so that's not really much of a bonus, it's hard to put enough lasers on this ship to make it need that bonus.
High Slots: 2x Gatling Pulse Laser, Multifrequency S
Mid Slot: Stasis Webifier
Low Slot: Damage Control
Skills Needed: Hull Upgrades 1, Propulsion Jamming 1
Optional: Hobgoblin Drone, Needs Drones 1, Scout Drone Operation 1
Actually, that optional section really is necessary, the impairor is easily the suckiest noobship because lasers take a lot of powergrid compared to other weapons, so you pretty much have to fit the weakest, shortest range ones, and even then you don't have room for much else. The capacitor bonus is a bit of a joke to be honest. This design does have the biggest tank, with 50% more hitpoints that the reaper, but it pretty much requires the enemy ships to come close enough that you can web them and then melt them with your short range lasers.
Don't feel too put out by having a sucky noobship, once you're in battleships you'll be king of the battlefield (the Apocalypse is easily the most common Battleship in fleet warfare).

From writing this article I've learned
  • Civilian afterburners and Armor repair units need to be more available to give noobs a chance to learn about them.
  • Caldari rookie ship really needs missile hardpoints.
  • Velator is overpowered, switch the Hybrid damage bonus to a drone damage bonus.
  • Impairor is weak, mostly because it lacks powergrid, civilian reps and afterburners would help, and maybe switching the bonus from the somewhat useless cap bonus to an armor resist bonus.
  • The reaper is a lot of fun.
  • Setting up noobships is like playing binary sudoku.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Comes The Mineralocalypse?

The next release of Eve, Tyrannis, is now running on 'Singularity' AKA 'SiSi' the test server where all the new code gets a semi public test first. It gives some smart people access to updated gameplay elements and lets them dissect them prior to launch in the real game universe, which can sometimes lead to market speculation such as the mass acquisition of items that are expected to get more valuable while dumping items that are expected to drop in price. With the Dominion release the construction requirements of Tech 2 ships were modified in an attempt to re-balance the value of moon minerals, and sure enough the likes of promethium dropped in price, while Techetinium rose. However speculation is far from foolproof, many pilots took the rebalancing of moon minerals as an indication that Tech 2 ships would be cheaper after Dominion and sold off stocks as quickly as possible only to be shocked when the disruption to the T2 production lines caused a huge spike in the price of t2 ships.
Anyway, some people have noticed that the insurance payouts for ships have all changed on SiSi, they've mostly dropped by about 30%. They've run linear equation solvers on the mineral/payout equations to see if they can figure out the exact base values for the basic minerals and there's a bunch of speculation as to whether the new base values are static or dynamic, based on jita prices based on region prices etc etc. There's a bunch of crying and finger pointing at Suicide gank squads and statements like 'PVP should cost' and of course frequent invocation of the magic crystal ball....

Many Eve players like insurance because it gives them cash to buy a new ship when things go wrong, they see it as a safety net that protects against mistakes, bad luck, other players or all of the above. Some players don't like insurance, Miners in Hi-sec have been complaining that it enables cheap suicide ganking of their expensive Hulks, those pilots are idiots for many reasons. You see miners in hi-sec have benefited great from insurance's double life as an artificial price floor on the mineral basket.
A 'what'?
Eve's economy may be the most detailed and interesting in any virtual world, but it still has a bunch of artificial brokenness, money can enter and leave the economy via external entities which have no limit on their bank accounts. And in recent months many industrialists have realised that it's possible to make money directly from building ships, insuring them and then collecting the insurance by getting them destroyed, or simply self destructing them.
When there's an oversupply of minerals their prices drop, if they drop enough then it becomes financially viable to build battleships and collect their insurance value. The excess minerals on the market get soaked up by the insurance 'industry' until the price rise sufficiently that no profit can be made. Moreover, the value is actually determined across a basket of minerals used to build tech 1 ships, if the price of one mineral drops then the others rise until the value of the basket is in equilibrium with the insurance floor.
Since Apocrypha added high end asteroids in w-Space and Dominion added grav sites in upgraded systems the amount of high end minerals coming from Arkonor, Bistot and Crokite has increased, pushing the prices of Megacyte and Zydrine down. As a result Tritanium and Pyerite have increased to provide parity with the insurance floor, so those pilots whining about insurance enabling suicide gankers have been making way more money because their low-end minerals have been very much in demand to feed the battleship destruction lines.
If insurance rates are rebalanced then mineral value will drop - and a lot of people sitting on large stockpiles of minerals know this and may decide to dump them ahead of the release of dominion.
Or they might simply build a lot of battleships and self destruct them.

Friday, March 12, 2010

How Many Hitpoints....

A rough guide regarding how tough things are in eve...

20 - The training drone in the tutorial mission
50 - The wimpiest pirate frigates you're likely to meet in Deadspace
150 - The Asteroid belt versions of those wimpy pirate frigates
500 - Typical low level asteroid belt NPC pirates.
500 - Pod
600 - Rookieships
700 - NPC Destroyers
2,000 - light combat frigates
2,000 - 'Elite' NPC Frigates
3,000 - Retriever Mining Barge
3,500 - Combat frigates (pvp setup)
4,500 - NPC Cruisers
5,000 - Mining Cruiser (Osprey/Scythe)
6,000 - NPC Battlecruisers
6,000 - Covetor Mining Barge
11,000 - Hulk 'optimized' for mining
14,000 - 'Elite' NPC Cruisers
16,000 - Mission Running Cruiser
20,000 - Hulk with anti-gank buffer tank
25,000 - NPC Battleships
30,000 - Mission Battlecruiser
35,000 - PVP Cruiser
40,000 - Heavy Assault Cruiser
55,000 - PVP Battlecruiser
60,000 - Mission Battleship
65,000 - Orca
70,000 - Tanky Tech 3 Cruisers
90,000 - Epic Bait Cruiser Fits
100,000 - Secure container
120,000 - Fleet Battleship
150,000 - Heavy Interdictor Buffer Tanked
180,000 - Freighter
230,000 - Bait Faction Battleship
250,000 - Orca, Bait tank setup
325,000 - Jump Freighter
400,000 - Small POS Guns
800,000 - Medium POS Guns
1,000,000 - Ridiculous, lolworthy, EFT Warrior T3 Bait Setup
1,000,000 - Carriers
1,600,000 - Large POS Guns
2,000,000 - Dreadnoughts
3,200,000 - Large Faction POS Guns
6,000,000 - Supercarriers/Motherships
15,000,000 - Small Control Tower, No Defences
15,000,000 - Repair and Reprocessing Services on Player outposts
16,000,000 - Cynojammer Arrays
21,000,000 - Territorial Claim Units & Sovereignty Blockade Units
30,000,000 - Medium Control Tower, No Defences
40,000,000 - Lab & factory services on Player O
50,000,000 - Titans
54,000,000 - Cloning Service on Player Outposts
60,000,000 - Large Control Tower, No Defences
72,000,000 - Large Faction Control Tower, No Defences
81,000,000 - Fitting Service on Player Outposts
192,000,000 - Infrastructure Hub
300,000,000 - Large Faction Control Tower Setup For Boring Attackers Into Submission
350,000,000 - Outpost

Now, obviously this is hugely inaccurate and should not be trusted, for one, it doesn't account for sustained tank boosting/repair/recharge which needs to be 'broken' before you start breaking into the buffer. Mission setups favour sustained tank over buffer so that the incoming damage from all the NPC ships can be soaked up in a managed faship. PVP setups concentrate on maximizing the total damage buffer, in fleets it's highly likely that all the enemy ships will be concentrating on one ship at a time and whoever is picked is going to die, so maximizing the buffer is the best way to slow them down. A mission Dominix might repair 500dps, but only have 60,000 ehp, but a PVP buffer Domi might have no local repair, but 140,000 ehp.

Your little rookie ship with a civilian gun can put out 2 dps, but with good skills and well selected gear it's possible to get almost 150dps from these free ships, with battleships optimized with close range high damage weapons can do over 1000 hp per second damage. To kill Outposts and other non-moving targets you roll in the dreadnoughts and put them in siege mode which renders them immobile while boosting their damage output, even then, capturing stations takes hours and hours.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Things To Do In Eve With (almost) No Skilltraining

Do the Rookie Missions: They pay pretty well, mainly because they give you some starter ships and skills, there are 5 sets of rookie missions for each race and 3 sets of agents per race giving you 12 tutorial systems in total. You can run all of them with only a couple of extra skills required. While you're at it, the Sisters of Eve arc is pretty profitable for a starting pilot, 10million isk from all the rewards plus the loot. After all those missions are done you can consider level 1 missions from your favourite faction, but don't expect the rewads to be nearly so good.

Mine: don't bother, unless you're going to be AFK for a while, there's better ways to make money. A noobship with a full hold of veldspar will make you 10,000 isk if you're lucky.

Kill NPC Pirates (Rats) in Asteroid Belts: Strap some guns on your ship and go to an 0.5 security status system, the rats are easy and get you 7000-13000 isk each. The loot the drop is mostly crap but can be awesome, pay attention to anything dropping a tag, tags can be worth millions, especially copper tags that tend to get ignored by mission farmers because they're in frigates. Also pay attention for commander spawns - Dread Guristas, True Sanshas, Domination, Shadow Serpentis and Dark Blood - these can sometimes drop epic loot like pirate implants worth 100million isk.

Run 1/1 Plexes: You'll see these on your overview, "Sanshas Military Outpost", "Old Meanie Cultivation Center" and similar, they're always in the same places and contain a whole bunch of weak targets that respawn once an hour. In the final room you'll find something that drops awesome 'deadspace' loot, it might be a can, a ship, or a structure, and you'll get things like 'Centii C-Type Small Armor Repairer' which can sell for 10million on contracts. You'll most likely find that someone has beaten you to it maybe 75% of the time, so just keep moving and go from one place to another picking up the fancy modules. It's pretty easy to pull down 100million in modules in a couple of hours using a pilot with only 12 hours of training to fly a combat frigate.

Do all of the above in low-sec/0.0: Because you have no skillpoints and a basic ship, you have very little to lose, just be sure you learn the magic 'spam warp button' trick to escape if you get tackled and killed. And, insure your ships of course. I took a noob character into Delve when the Goons were kicking out BOB and lost about 60 noob ships, which cost me nothing in the long run, except for crappy killboard stats.

PVP With 'Friends': Train the 'propulsion jamming' skill and you can be an asset to a PVP gang, solo pvp isn't going to happen unless you're ridiculously lucky and find someone in a defenceless ship away from sentry guns. Stick a warp disruptor on a rookie ship and you can stop victims from escaping while your friends kill them. With a little more training you can get in a combat frigate with a microwarp drive and kill things as part of a team, there's a great video showing 2 pilots with less than 150,000 skillpoints flying around 0.0 and killing the locals with great success. Or you can just join Red vs Blue and die lots while getting on the occasional killmail.

Trade: Setup in your local trade hub and watch the markets, buy low, sell high, maybe move the odd pile of gear to or from the hub. The more money you have in the market the faster you'll make money from the market, you can train a few trade skills for more order slots but no training is required to get started.

Take advantage of other people's Hard Work
: Profit from other people's wrecks, you'll find them all over belts, especially around Hulks which are AFK with drones out killing the local rats. They'll get kill rights on you, but only for 15 minutes, and it's highly unlikely anyone in hi-sec will have warp disruptors, so just warp out as soon as you get shot at. Do it in a rookieship and then getting killed won't cost you anything.
Many of the best wrecks in hi-sec are in missions, so train astrometrics 1 and you can scan down battleships running missions.If you're really lucky it'll be some multi room mission and the pilot will be dealing with enemies deeper in the mission and therefore no threat.
Train up the salvaging skill (about 4 hours for a noob to get the pre-requisites) and you can instead just salvage the wrecks and the pilot won't get kill rights, he might get mad but he can't do anything unless you steal stuff from inside wrecks.

Take Advantage of other pilots Misfortune
: There's always wars going on and if you sit outside a trade hub, or even at some hi-sec gates you'll see other pilots getting losing their ships, again, steal from this and make a mad dash to station with your loot. If you have the salvage skill pay attention to any 'elite' wrecks, these yield tech 2 salvage components which can be worth a lot.

Take Advantage of Dumb Players: Scam contracts (doesn't work on trial), I could write a book on scams, suffice to say if you're in Jita and you see a contract posted it's probably a scam, and you should open it up and try to figure out what the scam is just so you don't fall into it, and can perhaps exploit this later. I've seen people successfully sell a piece of Carbon for the price of a Charon freighter.

Carve Your Own Path: because there's always new things to discover.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Why Can't I Fly My Spaceship With A Joystick?

One of the more annoying questions that gets asked repeatedly, usually the person asking has already established that ship control in Eve is limited to double clicking in the direction you want to go, or selecting 'orbit this thing while my guns kill it'. There's a very good techincal reason for this heavy limitation on direct control, and it's all about making the game playable for pilots regardless of how slow and laggy your connection is. You see the clients and servers of Eve all run a simulation of everything in space near your ship, this is referred to as 'the grid'. The trick is to keep everything on grid moving as smoothly as possible while sending the absolute minimum amount of data between your computer and the server.

So, when you arrive at an asteroid belt the server sends you information on all the asteroids on grid, their locations, sizes and types, and after that it doesn't need to send your computer any more information, unless one gets mined out and disappears. Those rocks aren't going anywhere and you can't bump them about or change their location, even if you ram them in a titan you'll just bounce off. If there's any ships on grid they'll get loaded too, but ships are different they fly about, so the ships come with extra information describing their flight pattern, whether they're sitting still, flying in a straight line or orbiting a target. Your computer can keep track of these basic ship motions by extrapolating out from the start point, the only time updates need to be sent is when the pilot of a ship decides to change their flight pattern.

Now, this is also broadly resistant to lag, if the updates arrive a little late because you're on some dodgy wi-fi connection your computer maintain the local grid simulation and still figure out where everything is. So while your rifter is cutting an elegant arc of death around that doomed hauler there's almost no flight updates needing to be sent between the client and server, this leaves room for more important things like weapons fire and things going boom. On the other hand that joystick you use for MS Flight Simulator is sending updates to the software 50 times a second, detailed updates too, when you bump your desk and that joystick wobbles a little that wobble is carefully encoded into a bunch of x-y measurements and forced into the computer, and in a networked game all those measurments need to be forwarded to the server. That's a whole lot more data which adds to the network and server load for everyone involved.

But it's more than just this deluge of data, it's about a fair playing field regardless of your ping time, if you've ever played FPS games there'll be some 13 year old whining that he keeps getting killed because his cable connection has a terrible ping time. Ping is a measure of how long messages take to get from your computer to the server and back, and if this takes too long then it effectively slows your reaction time down so some people get a edge over others. In Eve the simulation is split into timeslices of about 1 second long (I don't know the exact length, but that's what it feels like when there's no lag), so when you click your mouse to approach and target someone that event gets sent to the server and then the actions get applied in the next timeslice. This applies to everyone's actions, so even if you've got a ping time of 300milliseconds you still have plenty of time to react.

Besides, would you really want to try steering a Battleship like you would steer a fighter jet? No you're the captain of this million ton death dealing monstrosity, you command your helmsman to approach the target while calling Scotty in the engine room to overheat the engines to get best possible speed.... when was the last time you saw Captain Kirk take the helm of a starship?

Lets face it, do you want to be Captain Kirk or Sulu?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Frigate Taxonomy

There are a total of 20 basic tech 1 frigates in the game, 5 for each race each designed with a role in mind, There are also 4 basic rookie ships that are broadly similar to frigates, so I'm including them here.

Racial Frigate I
  • Rookie Ships: Impairor, Ibis, Velator, Reaper - frigate sized so I'm including them on the list, their main role is to give you a free thing to fly whenever you arrive at station in a pod. They come free with a (crappy) civilian gun and mining laser.
  • Mining Frigates: Tormentor, Bantam, Navitas, Burst - get bonuses to mining yields and cargo space, great until you can get in a cruiser or mining barge.
Racial Frigate II:
  • Light Combat Frigates: Executioner, Condor, Atron, Slasher - fast combat ships, useful interceptors because they're faster than other frigates, but they can't fit enough of a tank to survive for long.
  • Exploration Frigates: Magnate, Heron, Imicus, Probe - Get bonuses to exploration probes and usually some extra drone space. The Imicus can field 3 light drones and gets a bonus to control range.
  • EWAR Frigate: Crucifier, Griffin, Maulus, Vigil - Designed to support other ships with electronic warfare. The Vigil is especially notable because it gets a speed bonus which is as rare as hens teeth these days.

Racial Frigate III:
  • Combat Frigate: Punisher, Merlin, Incursus, Rifter - Get to mount bigger and more guns, and more room for defenses and utility modules, these will be the staple of your Eve ship diet because they form the backbone of low level missions and tacklers in PVP. 
  • Missile Frigate: Inquisitor, Kestrel, Tristan, Breacher - Favour missiles over guns, in the case of the Kestrel this is pure win and Caldari pilots favour their missile frigate over the gun oriented Merlin. The gallente Tristan however rather unloved because there's very few other gallente ships with missile launchers.

Beyond these basic ships there are a plethora of faction combat frigates, these are generally very expensive, but significantly faster and tougher and meaner than the plain old tech 1 versions on which they're based.

The 4 Empire faction frigates are the Imperial Navy Slicer, Caldari Navy Hookbill, Federation Navy Comet & Republic Fleet Firetail - they all need the relevant racial frigate skill at level 3.

The Pirate factions have their own ships too, all of these represent a merging of 2 races ship characteristics and thus need the pilot to be proficient in flying ships from both races. They are the Dramiel (angels), Cruor (Blood Raiders), Word (Guristas), Succubus (Sansha) & Daredevil (Serpentis) - and they're even more exclusive, and expensive, than the empire faction versions.

Finally, there's the Tech 2 versions of most of the basic ships, the tech 2 versions need multiple level 5 skills before you can fly them, but they are vastly more effective than the Tech 1 versions.
  •  Interceptors are derived from the light combat ships, these are generally the fasted ships in the game and designed to catch and lock down enemy ships and stop them escaping
  • Covert Ops are derived from the probe ships, they get the ability to warp around while cloaked and even better bonuses to probing.
  • Electronic Attack Ships are derived from the EWAR frigates and gain more bonuses to a wider range of electronic warfare.
  • Assault Ships take the combat frigates and make them even tougher, these can shrug off attacks and dish it out when needed.
  • Stealth Bombers are the tech 2 versions of the missile frigate, these are greatly loved in 0.0 because they can sneak around cloaked and then drop bombs or attack large ships with torpedos, but, one good shot will kill them.
So, I think that's them all, I hope to follow up on this with some tried and tested fits, tactics and warnings about how to use these.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

How Do I Keep My Ship Alive?

The universe is full of hazards that are just waiting to turn your ship into a wreck, there are many ways to counter this threat and still come home in time for dinner.

Shields vs Armor vs Structure
* Armor has the best resists, but is still weak against explosive and kinetic damage, shields are weak against Electromagnetic and Thermal damage, Structure is weak against everything.
* Shields regenerate slowly over time and automaticly repair at stations, armor and structure only get repaired if you use the station's repair services (if the station has such services, and they're not usually free).
* Shield modules use mid slots, armor and structure modules use low slots.
* Shield modules sometimes make you a bigger target and easier to hit, armour and structure modules sometimes slow you down and make you easier to hit.
* When structure takes damage, your modules might also get damaged, using structure as your primary defence is not advised.

The general rule is that Caldari ships are all about shields, Amarr and Gallente use armor, and Minmatar ships vary depending on the ship type.

For example the Rupture has 5 low slots and 3 mid slots and slightly more armor, so it's generally going to be toughest if your fit it for armor. However the Thrasher has more mids and more armor so it's better off with a shield tank.
The Stabber is one of the few ships in the game that gets a speed bonus, it's clearly designed for speed, so any armour plates you put on it will slow it down, so it's best to try and buff its shields using its midslots....
Those mid and low slots aren't solely the domain of things that make your ship tough, most ships will dedicate at least one mid-slot to an afterburner or microwarp drive, and those low slots are where your damage boosting modules go.  Electronic warfare goes in the mid-slots including the all important Warp Disruptor that's essential to stop your target from running away. As a result some ships may find themselves tanked differently depending on their role - my favorite example being the Rifter.
For PVP a rifter is generally finds its midslots filled with a microwarp drive, warp distruptor and stasis web so the tank goes in the low slots and buffs the armour. However for PVE the web and disruptor is unnecessary, which means you can fit a shield booster and hardener and leaving the lows for gyrostabilizers to increase your damage and nanofiber structures to increase your speed and agility. Either way the rifter's best defence is actually its speed and ability to get in under the guns of bigger ships and so regardless of fit you need to be bold and fly this fast and close to your targets.

'Speed Tank'
Speed tank is basicly reducing incoming damage by avoiding enemy fire, you can evade turret weapons by moving perpendicular to the target, that's what the orbit button does. It's the angular speed that matters, so travelling at 1000m/s in a 10km orbit is equivalent to travelling at 500m/s in a 5km orbit or 2000m/s in a 20km orbit.  The bigger the guns the slower the tracking, so just like the X-Wings attacking the death star could avoid the primary defences your little frigates can run circles around battleships with relative immunity. For missile weapons the damage formula is slightly different, but generaly, speed keeps you alive. 

For new pilots with relatively few skills the speed tank is universal, set your ship up with an afterburner (one of the first skills a noob should train) and short range weapons. Orbit your targets as closely as you can and they'll have a hard time hitting you, it's easy and effective, but many new pilots prefer to fight at range due to unfamiliarity with the mechanics. I'll tell you though that my 5 year old daughter has killed hundreds of npc targets this way without losing a ship yet, so have faith in the speed of our small ships and you will prosper.