Welcome to Jester's Trek.
I'm your host, Jester. I've been an EVE Online player for about six years. One of my four mains is Ripard Teg, pictured at left. Sadly, I've succumbed to "bittervet" disease, but I'm wandering the New Eden landscape (and from time to time, the MMO landscape) in search of a cure.
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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Farms and fields

Out of absolutely nowhere, there's a new devblog out this morning.

I don't think anyone was given any warning about this.  I haven't heard any CSM members breathe a word about it.  I haven't heard CCP hint about it.  It wasn't in the list of features CCP Zulu told us we should expect from the winter expansion.  And yet, here we have a major expansion and alteration to Planetary Interaction, apparently near completion and ready for testing.  Even more interesting, it includes multiple changes in strategy that hint at some hugely positive developments coming in EVE's future.

I'd say I was rendered speechless, but yeah, that never happens.(1)  ;-)

Bravo, CCP!  I really starting to think we're going to collectively look back on October 2011 as the month you turned it all around.

First, let's get the obvious out of the way: anything that takes content out of the hands of NPCs and puts it into the hands of the players can only be a good thing.  And this does that, and does it in a big huge way.  As a driver of content and drama, this change is a beauty!  The bear community is probably going to freak out, of course.  We're sure to see some drama, particularly in the low- and null-sec systems that are one jump out of high-sec, as well as planets in class 1 and 2 wormholes that are easy to access.  People are going to lose beloved planets, some to others that truly want them, others to people who just want to grief them some bears.

But let's look at the basic positives, because there are a lot of them:
  • This adds the ability for single players to own planets.  Awesome.
  • This also adds the ability to blockade planets.  Hugely awesome.
  • You can control who you want to be able to do PI on your planet by standing, and you can set a tax rate for the facility.  Fantastic!
Want to be a land-lord on a planetary scale?  You can do that.  Want to hoard all of the resources on a planet for the use of only your characters?  You can do that too.  Want to prevent anyone at all from mining a planet just to grief them?  Also an option.  Or want to do it all at the same time, letting anyone who wants to use the planet, but charging them outrageous taxes to do so?  Yep, that option's there, too.

EDIT (18/Oct/2011): You can't completely block people from a planet you own.  Turns out you'll be able to farm planets without a Customs Office.  The CO will just make things more convenient.  See comments below.  I am "eh" about this.  I'd be all for the ability to blockade a planet.

I couldn't be more positive about these changes.  CCP Omen has also specified what the EHP will be for the new structures:
=HP specification=
* Customs Office Gantry
** Shield: 10,000,000
** Armor: 500,000
** Structure: 300,000

* Customs Office
** Shield: 10,000,000
** Armor: 2,500,000
** Structure: 2,000,000

Mike deVoid over on Failheap has done a terrific job of creating a table that shows off how long it will take to reinforce such a structure:


So, if you're using the POS bash Apocalypse fit that I posted a couple of months back, it will take you 16-18 minutes to reinforce the Customs Office if you have ten friends along, or 10-12 minutes if you have fifteen.  Or, if the enemy gang is 30 or more people, or is using dreads, it will take less than five minutes.  This strikes me as exactly the right balance.  If the force applied is overwhelming, you won't be able to respond to your Customs Office being reinforced.  If the force isn't overwhelming, though, there will be plenty of time to scout out the attacking gang and decide if you want to counter-attack then, or wait for the reinforcement timer.

Which brings us to the best feature of all, the reinforcement timer:


I love love love this.  Not only is this fantastic in and of itself, it speaks to a larger strategy that CCP is obviously looking at in terms of timing large gang fights.  Imagine, if you will, if other timers in the game -- POSs, TCUs, et cetera -- could be chosen like this!  This has many advantages, not the least of which being that CCP could strategically automate node reinforcement in null-sec!  No longer would reinforcement of nodes for large TCU fights be at the whim of players filling out a form.  Instead, a number of reinforced nodes could be handed off to be automatically distributed to reinforced structures based on the timers set by this dialog box by players.  Once the reinforced node is no longer needed, it's released back into the queue to be automatically applied to the next set of reinforcement timers.

If CCP is not thinking in this direction, I hope they soon start.  In other news, I want this kind of reinforcement timer for my POS, please.  ;-)  I'll happily forgo several hours of stront if it means that my POS automatically chooses to come out of reinforced during my strongest TZ.

And that speaks to the largest issue of all: CCP's null-sec team has clearly taken the "farms and fields" argument that's being made to heart.  This isn't the whole book, of course.  PI is only a small part of the resources that are mined in low- and null-sec.  But it's a great first couple of chapters to that book.  This is a strategy that could theoretically be applied to moon-mining, cyno jammers, and jump bridges, in particular.  In the meantime, alliances looking to make trouble on other alliances can do it by interdicting their POS fuel sources or other PI worlds, and in this way, force fights over resources or threaten to have those resources cut off.

A couple of shorter notes, and I'm done.  The Customs Office Gantry is 9600m3.  This is a terrific size, and was surely chosen with tactics in mind.  It's the exact size of a cargo-fit blockade runner, meaning that if you're going to interdict enemy planets, that's the type of ship you'll be using once the enemy Customs Offices are destroyed.  Still, it also doesn't mean that you can block a lot of planets quickly, unless you're willing to commit  a lot of pilots to unarmed blockade runners.  Good show.

I also like the change of interface in the "import/export" dialog.  That always struck me as really clunky, and I hated the fact that I had to physically go visit a planet to break up blocks of material for import into easy-to-manage chunks.  This is a big deal with factory planets in particular.  As a result, I hope that shift-drag works on the new customs office dialog box!

One thing struck me as somewhat negative: Customs Offices appear to be corporation-owned, which was the right choice.  But there doesn't seem to be a mechanic in place for shared usage, which I think is a mistake.  There should have been a hangar functionality included, for personal PI products and corp-owned PI products.  Going back to the factory planet example, it would have been hugely helpful if corp members could drop materials into the corp PI hangar at the customs office for immediate import to the factory by someone with the proper roles.  Today, if one character creates materials for a second character's factory, it's a wonky process requiring both characters to fly to the factory planet (or some other shared location in the same system) to manage.  This is an aggravating weakness of running a factory planet, and it could have been easily corrected by giving the Customs Office a corp-owned hangar.  Hopefully, this will be added in a future version.

But that's it.  That's the only semi-negative thing I can think of.  The rest of this change strikes me as positive from start to finish.  I'd love to see the concepts from this devblog applied to a lot of other player-owned structures and mechanics, particularly in null.  These are farms and fields mechanics that I can get behind.


(1) Tangent: people who think I'm going to burn out on blogging or run out of things to write about make me smile.  There's just too much going on in New Eden not to have stuff to write about.  I've been in my new corp and alliance for two days now, but I can't get the post out about it because there's so many larger things going on that should be written about first.  ;-)

26 comments:

  1. It's my understanding that you can still mine a planet even if the corp that owns the customs office doesn't like you. The ownership is only over the customs office and not the whole planet. Not ideal, but still doable. At least until Dust comes along.

    Other than that, I agree with you on this. I like this change.

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  2. BTW the reinforcement timer system is essentially the same they've used on stations and ihubs since dominion.

    It would indeed be nice if they migrated it to POS but it's hardly a new occurance.

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  3. I think there needs to be an associated monthly fee to keep a customs office open, or it goes into RF if not paid. Partly to keep it from cheap easy grief, partly to force players to choose whether or not they want to stand up 5 10 or 20 of them, rather than always choose 20.

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  4. You can still use launchpads and bypass the customs office. It's just that the CO is much more convenient.

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  5. Where do you bypass to? What's going to be the pick-up point, if not the CO?

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  6. I would rather charge players with a bad standing 90% tax than simply not let them use it.

    Tax rates based on standings?

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  7. Jester said...
    "Where do you bypass to? What's going to be the pick-up point, if not the CO?"

    It puts a rocket in space. Journal -> Planetary Launches gives you a BM to the can.

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  8. FYI this change was known by Failheap posters on October 6.

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  9. I completely missed it. Thread link?

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  10. Aye, launch pads will fire a rocket up into orbit if you want. However it has a (comparably) very small capacity and can only be launched every once in a while. They actually look rather neat. However, it could be interesting if those rockets in orbit waiting to be picked up could be detected by combat probes...

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  11. There is a disadvantage to allowing the defender (or really the attacker either) to choose when the timer is, like we already have with stations and iHubs and TCU's. It allows - even promotes - use of Time Zone to avoid fights, and in a way the attacker can't do anything about. The one good thing about POS warfare is that the attacker does have a couple of options to try and get a decent timer by either blitzing the POS at an odd time so that the timer comes out differently than the owner had planned. Or, to get the shield below 50% and then kite it for a few hours - which is painful work - but gives the attacker an option to influence the timer. With hard set timers (with a up to 3 hour +/- randomly added on) the attacker has little hope of getting decent timer. Looking at how Dominion Sov changes have worked I don't think defenders need more advantages. A guaranteed "will come out on my time zone of choice so it pretty safe" doesn't promote fights. This doesn't apply if your foe has the same TZ coverage as you, but often it matters a lot.

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  12. What will happen when you die? Are you going to be blogging from Heaven? From Hell? Or are you going to be the first blogging zombie/vampire/werewolf/ artificial intelligence i.e. Eliza!

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  13. "This adds the ability for single players to own planets." I call bull shit. If this were true, I'd be all for it. But a single player will not be able to claim and defend a planet. He'll lose his CO to the first corp that wants it, and he won't be able to evict a hostile CO. No, single players are evicted from low/null-sec PI.

    I see alliance politics potentially coming to low-sec. They'll start to claim low-sec space to control the planetary resources. Own the COs and you own the planets (rocket launch recovery is way too lame to be viable on any reasonable scale). PI bots anyone?

    I foresee reduced PI activity overall (in terms of numbers of player participating). Higher risk PI in low/null sec will reduce the participation there and higher taxes on PI in high sec (where the yields are lower) will chase players away there too.

    PI was one way for high-sec players to dip a toe in low-sec. But now that the COs are not CONCORD owned, the risk will be too high to use PI to experiment in low-sec. This is Eve - would you trust the owner of the CO if it wasn't you? Didn't think so.

    This may be good for user-driven content (PvP), but it's not so good for PI in general. PI was a nice sideline with an alt, some extra isk and a change of pace. I'm likely totally out of it now. Think I'll petition CCP for reimbursement of my PI infrastructure that gets orphaned behind someone else's CO.

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  14. The problem with the rocket launch system is that it can only be done from your Command Centre which has a capacity of 500m3. That's 333 P2 units.

    You may be ok if you empty it every day.

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  15. once again CCP is kicking carebears in the balls doubling customs taxes in hisec...yup we carebears are all about the isk, and hitting us there is going to force us into losec and nullsec, where we can freely setup our own customs stations without worrying about being bothered by any other players...gee the Goons won't want to control all the customs stations will they....f**k why do I play this game

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  16. Launch modules currently survive for 4 days so you don't need to pick up every day. Maybe a problem with P1 volumes but should be OK to leave P2 volumes stack up on the ground until almost full, then start shooting them into space. Maybe I have crappy planets, but I usually collect a bunch of cans about every 5 to 8 days.

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  17. @Anon2024: Eh, don't take it so hard. Actually, I think you'll come out ahead. Taxes are doubling, true, but links will be hugely bigger. I don't see how any high-sec link will ever need to be upgraded, which will give you room for another extractor head here and there.

    Overall, I think high-sec PI'ers will come out very slightly ahead.

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  18. Nice to see this, there could be hope for the future of EvE yet. A good sized Blops gang could do a lot of damage to an opponents POS fuel production over a large area in a short time.

    Long live a potential new age of guerrilla warfare in New Eden.

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  19. Sorry Jester, on this occassion I have to mostly disagree with you.

    I've put a sort of counter viewpoint up on my blog, but essentially I see the impact of this will be to strip out most of the production from the "casual" or smaller producer from the hi-sec market. PI in low-sec or 0.0 is certainly free from risk already, and this is going to allow griefers / Alliances to effectly cut-off supplies from these players unless they continue to operate PI in hi-sec which is largely pointless, although the expected massive increase in prices of PI materials might just make it worthwhile trying.

    The RF timer is nice though :P

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  20. Nice write up, also confirming that you can shift drag between planet and customs office on the new UI.

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  21. And here is another one to disagree with you Jester.

    Quote:
    "Overall, I think high-sec PI'ers will come out very slightly ahead."

    Have you tried high-sec PI? Have you seen the yields in high-sec? Do you know that even in low-sec I struggle to get more than 3 days of continuous operation?

    These changes, if they go live, will put an end to the PI for very small/one-man corporations for 2 reasons:
    1. You might get blocked from/overtaxed by using another corporation's CO. And the rocket launches do what vacuum cleaners do, with their 500 m3 cargo.
    2. Paying around 80M for a CO (BPC + materials, not to mention production time), which can be destroyed easily is not worth it.

    One of the options is to boost the high-sec planet yield, which I highly doubt will be done, to give us industrialists an exit option.
    The other option is to put more thought into the idea of making COs non-NPC. And it will do CCP good to probe opinions and not just announce "We are doing something to you and turn your world upside-down, mwa-ha-ha".

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  22. I'm currently producing 17 mil isk worth of coolant every day in a wormhole. I transfer all P1 to a manufacturing planet to produce the P2. With all that, I spend only 55k in transfer tax. It's such a small amount compared to my total production.

    However, if I have to buy 5 CO at probably 70mil each, it will take me a month of PI to reimburse the CO investment, and the isk I save from not paying transfer tax is minimal.

    I really hope the Co can be unanchored, otherwise this will be a major drain on Wormhole PI. I like the change, but I feel like the initial investment is far too steep.

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  23. @Afandi: yep, all my PI is currently being done in high-sec (though I'll be wrapping up my high-sec PI shortly since two characters that I'm doing it with are moving back to null). Remember, COs won't have to be built or paid for in high-sec. I stand by my statement: not having to upgrade links will probably give you enough additional grid for 1-2 additional extractor heads per planet, which will make up the ISK lost from doubled taxes.

    @Tahna: you've hit on exactly why COs WILL be required in WH space. The ISK being made there is too high, too easy to start up and shut down at a whim, and too risk-free. Still, I suspect there will be enough ignored C1 planets that you won't have much trouble making back the investment from a CO purchase even if it does eventually get destroyed.

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  24. CO's will be very easy to reinforce.

    @LumpyGristle

    We've already got a dubstep gang planned with two BLops BS, 20 Stealth Bombers, 4 blockade runners, and 6 recons (A combination of Falcons and Pilgrims).

    Carry the new CO's in the Blockade Runners, plus the fuel for the BLops BS, and any extra torps for the Stealth Bombers. Hop from system to system reinforcing the customs offices of your big alliances in 10 minutes with a gang of 20 Stealth Bombers. Really screw with their production.

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  25. Jester, you seem to forget how impossible it will be do defend your COs without controlling the system they are in.

    They are destroyed brought into reinformance within minutes, you have to have many, many COs to make it really worth, which means you have many, many targets. Try to defend against hit and run attackers just a dozen planets. Think bigger, try to defend a dozen of dozens. Now remember that those COs ain´t cheap if you keep losing them on a regular base.

    PI prices will rise over this, and high sec carebears and huge null alliances will profit most from it. Again there seems a problem with risk vs rewards, at least to me the risk seems not worth the trouble, which is bad.

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  26. Jester....talk to your Hi-Sec friends and see how they like the kick in the balls that the tax man is giving them to pick up PI products. Double tax? All I can say is Icelands idea of double is way far from what double means to most people.

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