EVE Online: PvP Guide Part II: Communication
MMORPG.com EVE Online Correspondent Andrew Wallace writes this guide to Pvp in the sci-fi sandbox game. In this part of his guide, he focuses on the importance of communication.
PVP Guide Part II
I'm here to tell you that, amongst other things, it's good to talk. Good communication is essential in fleet warfare; the ability to relay orders quickly and clearly between the pilots in your fleet will allow you to react faster and simply make you a much better fighting force. If I wanted to sound really fancy, I'd throw out a Sun Tzu quote right about now, that's how incredibly important it is. The default method for talking with other players in most MMOs, including EVE, is via text; and yet this is always the most inefficient way of communicating during hectic battles, or even casual conversation. This gives rise to voice communication programs, both internal and third party, which overcome that hurdle and allows players to accomplish feats in unison that would simply be too difficult to do through text alone. Grab your mic and let's get started.
Voice communication is easily one of the most essential requirements for group PVP. Broadcasts and chat channels have their place, but voice communication is unparalleled for being able to quickly relay information and orders; no one wants to be typing while they are dodging fire from an enemy fleet, and because of this access to a program like Ventrilo is usually a mandatory requirement of any serious PVP outfit. Well, that's not entirely true; you can possibly get by without having a microphone; as long as you aren't going to be scouting you can still listen in on what the fleet commander is saying, but still. There are three main types of voice communication software used in EVE: Teamspeak, Ventrilo, and EVE voice. The latter has the advantage of being completely free and lets you talk in any of the in-game channels, but it is tied to the EVE client; so if you disconnect from EVE, you disconnect from EVE voice. As for Ventrilo and Teamspeak, it's normally comes down to personal preference, with some corps favouring one over the other. Personally, I prefer Ventrilo; it doesn't have some of the flexibility of Teamspeak, but I find the better sound quality to be more helpful. The big issue with third party programs is that setting up a server costs money to run, which can vary depending on the size you want. However, as long as everyone is willing to pitch in to cover the costs, it's relatively cheap, even for a small corporation.
It's also important to keep some kind of order on your voice servers, and you will need to enforce some kind of rule system, or all you will get is chaos. If you're the FC, and you are trying to call targets for the fleet focus on, the last thing you need is one of your pilots screaming down their mic about how they are going into structure and are about die. Really, the only people who should be talking during a fleet operation are the scouts, and the fleet commanders. If they are doing their job then it's not necessary for half the fleet to simultaneously announce that they've seen a hostile enter local. What kind of rules you have in place are up to you, but I find it's always best to try and keep the channel clear of anything not relevant to the killing of the enemy, by you. Having more than one channel will help; third party voice programs will let you create various other channels that can be divided up into general chat and operation channels, as well as meeting rooms for the management for you to make use of.
One of the primary intel tools in the game, the local channel gives you the number of pilots in your current system, as well as the ability to see specific information on each one (such as security status and corp affiliation). This is the first thing you or your scouts will be checking as soon as they jump into a new system. Although it is difficult in busy systems, try to be aware of the current number of pilots, especially when you are engaging the enemy; a sudden rise just after the fighting starts might be a sign that reinforcements are on the way. While you are at war, the enemy corporations will be marked out as such next to their name in any of the chat channels, but for groups that you don't like but aren't at war with, such as pirates, there is a way of making them more visible in the local channel; standings. Usually referred to as "setting to red", using the standings tab in your corporation menu you can set your standings towards a specific corporation or alliance to a negative number; this then sets the appropriate tag next to the name of any of their pilots in any of the games chat channels (you can even make these tags visible on your overview, for easy identification in space).
It might seem odd, adding enemies to your buddies list, but this too can be an invaluable intel tool; before a war goes live my corp tries to gather a list of as many of the enemy corp members. We do this by checking out their killboards, websites, and even good old fashioned scouting in their home systems (to make it even easier to spot them you can create separate folders for your various foes). Then, even before the fighting starts, we can see just how many of them are online at any given time, as well as having a good idea of the types of ships they can fly. Knowing what pilots and ships they can bring to the fight can help you decide on specific tactics beforehand, and can be a massive advantage. Good ship types to watch out for are the Caldari Electronic Warfare ships; just one of them can easily swing the odds of a small scale fight in their favour, so knowing whether their Blackbird, or Falcon pilot is offline is essential information. That's it for this instalment; keep talking, make your enemies your friends, and always keep one eye on local.