Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Crucibles: Pain and Growth

Erun gave a sigh of frustration as he closed the Neocom interface with his planetary production facilities.  He'd received an earful from an enraged Numen and an oddly edgy DD earlier in the day.  Both had raised concerns about the new tax rate being levied on their goods by the Customs offices.  After checking his own facilities in lowsec he understood their concerns.  When Concord relinquished control of all Customs Offices not within high security space, Interbus took control of them and made drastic changes to the base values of the production tiers, as well as the overall tax rate.  Now when Erun had moved his goods from the surface before, he was willing and able to pay a 100k ISK or so to offload a few days worth of materials.  Now he could expect to pay upwards of 1-2m ISK for the same amount of materials.  The only problem was that Erun understood that these prices made sense to Interbus, and he couldn't logically fault them.  When Interbus bought the offices from Concord it was with the knowledge that these offices resided within the most dangerous parts of space within and outside of New Eden.  No longer afforded the (assumed) protection of Concord fleets these offices would be vulnerable to capsuleer aggression and destruction. The capsuleers would do so in order for them to set up their own corp/alliance operated offices.  Thus, Interbus set the prices/taxes high to ensure they made a return on their investment before the inevitable destruction of their new holdings.  So while Erun may not have liked the new dip into his bottom line, he also knew that this would drive up the demand for those goods that could only be obtained planet-side; hopefully enough to drive profits into more acceptable margins.  His messages to Numen and DD had said as much, and while Numen had gone into a typical sullen rage, DD took it with his usual calm and thanked Erun for the advice. 

Erun's concerns about his planetary holdings slowly subsided as he took in the view around him.  The new visual interpretation software had been integrated into his capsule while he slept last night, providing the breathtaking view of the nebulae spread around him.  Numerous small changes had been made to make the interface with the world outside his ship more visually appealing.  His biggest concern had been the changes made to the Neocom UI, but once his personal settings had been restored, he had found the new look a definitive improvement over the old system.  As on of the developers of the software had remarked, "Readability of text in chat windows and context menus has been improved...  6G& now clearly reads as gibberish instead of the Mark of Satan."  Only Erun's prior knowledge of Ammarian scripture had allowed him to laugh at the joke, but it was funny nonetheless.  

Another reason for Erun to be happy was the roll-out of the changes to hybrid weapons and the ships that used them.  Improvements to both the Ion Pulse propulsion technology used by the Gallente, and the Magpulse Thrusters used by the Caldari, had allowed both races to upgrade their ships to be lower mass, and to attain higher velocities.  Both empires had also been conducting research to bring their weapons more in line with their counterparts in the Amarr and Minmatar naval forces.  Research into more efficient energy use meant that all hybrid weapons used up to a third less energy, and more efficient processing meant that each weapon also required less effort from ships' computers.  The Caldari had also submitted algorithms that allowed the tactical overlay of a ship's UI to display the range of a vessels missile loadout.  Overall Erun thought that these changes would be great for any Gallente or Caldari capsuleer with an inclination towards big guns and missiles.

Something that was making Erun inwardly giddy was the empires concerted effort to bring the destroyer class vessels a much needed upgrading.  Gone was the oft cursed penalty that kept destroyers from firing as often as they should.  Originally designed as a method to keep the vessels from tearing themselves apart when their numerous weapons were fired, new means to dampen recoil and heat stress meant that guns could fire just as often as they were designed to.  Changes to the on-board e-war suites meant that the destroyers would be much harder to hit by larger caliber weapons.  More efficient means of energy storage gave them an increased capacitor.  And better armor allocation and increased shield capacitance meant that they could take more of a beating than ever before.  

Erun was in a pleasant mood when he docked for the day after playing with his Viator's engine trails, (a minor side effect of the improved engines) despite the looming threat of loss of access to his planetary production.  The newest changes in New Eden had not come without some complaint, but Erun was content.  A few found certain parts of the UI unpleasant. Many of the more risk averse pilots were bemoaning the idea that their holdings in lowsec could be in jeopardy.  And most were unwilling to pay the exorbitant introduction pricing for the new third tier battle-cruisers released by the empires.  Erun was interested in them for sure, his elite level of training in battle-cruiser class vessels meant he was eager and willing to give them a try, just not to spend 200m ISK on a vessel that couldn't have cost more than 50m to build.  Despite the complaints, Erun was willing to wait and see what happened over the next few days and weeks, as New Eden passed through it's newest Crucible.

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