EVE was having a series of technical issues on Monday which made it difficult to get anything done, but it did give me time to figure out my next steps. Now that I was in wormhole central, it would be tempting to jump headfirst into using them as a launching point to rush off exploring once more in the more lucrative reaches of space. But first I wanted to make myself at home in my current surroundings, and for that task, wormhole scouting seemed like just the thing.
EVE is like glitter - it gets everywhere.
Even in these early stages, EVE seems to have a way of being bigger than even the game that contains it. For instance, I just got followed on Twitter by someone with 'Space Pirate' in their bio. They probably found my account through this blog which has been tweeted around a few times. Quite likely they were just interested in the read. But part of me began to think 'what if he's a Thera pirate following just in case I tweet something which gives away my position?'
Paranoid, I know, especially for small fry like me. But it's easy to see how someone with ships that took them thousands of hours to work towards start having to worry about OpSec both in and out of the game.
The other way in which the game extends beyond its borders is in the various tools provided by players. Even when I joined Signal Cartel, I was required to use the EVE website to generate the necessary API to expose certain kind of activities to various different webtools. While the in-game tools are robust, almost everyone seems to use web tools to help them plan their activities.
One such tool is provided by EvE-Scout, the parent alliance of Signal Cartel. The purpose is to keep track of and make public the information about the wormholes that are constantly popping up and disappearing in Thera. Most importantly, where in space they lead to.
People actually donate ISK to the alliance to ensure this service can keep running, since it relies on scouts being incentivised to go out, find and test these wormholes. And so here's a perfect example of how a tool that sits outside of the game is made profitable inside of the game.
If I were the developers, I'd seriously be looking into the feasibility of giving players the ability to develop in-game tools in the same way the web tools work. There's an in game web-browser, but I can imagine a world where I just subscribe to the Thera Wormholes app if I'm interested, and it becomes just another window in my interface.
I suspect such functionality has been debated long before it occured to me, and there may be technical reasons why it isn't currently feasible. But it would certainly be a natural evolution of how the players seem to shape the game.
Scanner scanner scanner scanner scanner chameeeleoooon
I'm happy to report that my first endeavours as a wormhole scout in my newly re-purchased covert vessel were a roaring success. The whole thing went off without a hitch, with the only slightly close call being a large fleet of around twenty ships jumping in through a wormhole about 2 minutes behind me - much to my alarm - before they warped off, unable to see my cloaked ship.
Logging the location and destination of a Thera wormhole is a simple matter of...
- Announcing intention to intention to investigate the signature in the scout intel channel (which has its own shorthand)
- Pinpointing its location with probes
- Approaching it
- Checking its type
- Creating a bookmark to it using the corp naming convention
- Logging the details on an app called Tripwire (pictured at the top)
- Entering the hole
- Bookmarking the corresponding hole on the other side
- Naming that one properly after figuring out which signature in this system corresponds (which isn't always immediately obvious)
- Adding the corresponding information to Tripwire
- Going back through the wormhole into Thera
- Putting the bookmarks into the corporate bookmark directory
- Checking the EvE-Scout website to make sure it all went through okay
- Announcing completion of the task in the scout intel channel
Hang on... let me catch my breath...
Oh, who am I kidding? It's not a simple matter.
It's a bit involved. You have to concentrate because it's very easy to make a mistake, and all the while make sure you're taking the usual necessary precautions to remain as safe as possible. It's easy to forget that part, because everything else about it feels much more like a job.
Because, remember, it's a service that runs on donations, the main motivation for pilots doing this must surely be as a way of making a bit of extra ISK. It's dealt out proportionally to how much logging a scout has done in a week. The system seems to work. I've regularly seen people report on their scanning activities, and it's clear there's a high demand for the information.
But still I mostly felt like I was doing admin, probably because that literally is the task, here. It feels even more so when apps have to sit outside the game instead of being fully integrated, and I found myself yearning for something in the in-game interface that would simplify the matter.
Yet... I'm probably going to do the same thing tomorrow.
That ISK reward has seemed to motivate me after all, and it's as gentle way as any to get me used to navigating back and forth around Thera. As I increase in confidence, I expect I'll tire of it, and start thinking about lingering at the other side of these wormholes, finding the more lucrative nullsec data and relic sites I've heard about.
Until then, why not take my time?