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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Monday, November 7, 2011

Faulty towers

"Good News Monday" continues in EVE land with yet another devblog full of good news this Monday morning, this time about POSes.

Late last week, there was a drop-in in the latest video mentioning that POS fuel would be switching to a "fuel pellet", replacing the current eight POS fuels: five PI products, heavy water, liquid ozone, and a racial isotope.  I opined that there would be a blueprint that would combine seven of these elements to create the fuel pellet.  When you reached your POS, you'd add large numbers of these pellets, you'd add isotopes, and you'd be done.  This turned out to be three-quarters right.  The actual fuel pellet will require that the isotope be added as well, so there will be four racial fuel pellets instead of a standardized one.

And the fuel pellets will be fairly large at 50m3, making them fuel "blocks" instead.

For more than two years, until June of this year, I had a medium faction POS anchored in high-sec that I was using for blueprint research and copying/invention for T2 manufacturing.  I chose a faction POS for this work because I knew the POS would be up for months, if not years, and the fuel savings that I would realize over this long term would make the purchase and use of the faction POS worth the extra ISK I would pay for it.  Besides, I didn't really expect to lose the faction POS and figured that I could sell it when I was done with it (if I ever was).

As CCP's plans stand today, small POSs will consume one fuel block per hour, mediums will consume two, and larges will consume four.  And faction POSs will not receive a fuel use benefit at all.

It would have been the simplest thing in the world for CCP to declare that the blueprint, instead of creating four fuel blocks, will instead create 40 smaller fuel pellets.  Then it would have been equally simple for small POSs to consume 10 such pellets, mediums double that, and larges double that.  Then, faction towers could retain their fuel use bonus, and the sov fuel bonus for 0.0 towers could also be easily retained.  CCP Greyscale, in the devblog, says that this was considered but rejected "because dealing with small numbers of blocks makes starbases in general easier to use".

I feel the need to go back to a previous generation Internet meme to respond to this: "This is dumb and you are dumb."  ;-)

We've been doing linear algebra to fuel POSs for years now, Greyscale.  You're simplifying it down to 1+1=2, which is fine.  But, I think we can handle putting 28,000 fuel pellets into our POS instead of 2800.  ;-)  Please make it so, and give the faction towers their fuel use bonus back.  Lots of people like faction towers for this reason, and lots of wormhole residents like them for the reduced logistics need.

Still, in the grand scheme of things, this is a nit attached to a hugely positive change.

EDIT (8/Nov/2011): The suggested change above is being implemented.

There are two other changes in this devblog, both of which are also almost uniformly positive.

First, jump bridge passwords are going away.  If you have a positive standing with the owner of a jump bridge POS, you'll be able to use the attached jump bridge.  The most interesting thing about this change isn't so much that the passwords won't be necessary to use the jump bridges as it is that the passwords to all of these POSes will no longer be public.  Typically, you have to make jump bridge POS passwords public so that your allies can use them.  This leaves the interior of such POSes open to enemies and spies.

It's been a standard practice for years now when ambush hunting on an enemy's jump bridge that if you get into trouble, you can simply use their own password to slip inside their jump bridge POS shield to avoid destruction.  This is a retarded strategy -- practically an exploit -- and it's all to the good that it's being relegated to the dustbin of history.

In a similar way, the number of supercap kills that Pandemic Legion can brag will be going down.  They've practically made a business out of using an enemy's POS password to slip inside a jump bridge POS shield and bump out enemy supercaps.

The last change mentioned in the devblog is that most anchor/unanchor/online/offline timers are being greatly, greatly reduced.  The reason for this is simple: setting up a new POS is a painful experience.  Take my relatively simple medium faction research tower, for instance.  I wanted to anchor defenses around it to make it clear to any POS-gankers that I would defend the tower if it were attacked.  This resulted in roughly 50 or so modules that I had to anchor after the POS and its laboratories were up and running.

That turned anchoring the POS and its defenses into what was literally an all-evening project.  Without an anchoring queue, all I could do was put something on TV, and glance back at the EVE screen every few minutes all evening anchoring modules, one by one by one by one.  I can't even imagine what this would have been like in the old tower sov days.  One medium tower was enough for me.  ;-)

So, cutting these times to small fractions of their previous values is also hugely positive.

Why do guns and defenses still take two minutes to online?  About a week ago, a Rote Kapelle scout detected someone setting up a large POS very close to our home system in Syndicate.  This is not something we felt like taking lying down, so we immediately mobilized to remove this POS.  Lacking sov, we didn't get immediate warning of the POS being anchored, so by the time we arrived, we found a large Amarr tower up and on-line, already surrounded by a fair number of guns and jammers.  However, most of the guns and jammers were off-line.  Inside the POS was an Anshar and a Thanatos, plus the pilots of both of these ships managing the anchoring of additional modules.  We moved in, took out the Warp Disruption Batteries (which were online), then turned our attention to the other online modules.

The player inside responded by onlining additional mods, one by one.  He then went into POS gunner mode to use his onlined modules against us.  Fortunately, he couldn't online them quickly or all at once, or our small initial response fleet would have been overwhelmed.  And once the immediate danger was past, I brought in a blockade runner carrying a pair of large mobile bubbles to prepare to lock his carrier and jump freighter in.  Once he saw the first bubble launched, he anticipated my next move, reboarded his jump-capable ships, and evacuated the area in haste.  ;-)  That left the POS undefended and we finished the job of removing it.

So, don't expect weapons and defenses to receive an online buff for scenarios just like this one.  Cyno-related modules are not getting their timers buffed by and large for similar reasons.

Finally, one last bit of very good news.  In the comments thread associated with these very positive changes, several devs make it clear that these changes are interim changes while they finally take on the POS code itself with an eye toward a complete revamp.  CCP's fast work this autumn aside, we shouldn't expect to see all-new POSes before next year -- probably late next year -- but it's nice that this work will finally, finally be started.


  1. Polly! Whatever you do, don't mention the War!

    -Fawlty Towers

  2. After doing he math, I've determined that this is going to mean more hauling and more prep-effort for our WH corp.

    Doesn't matter, really: wormholes are harder than other places, but they're still better.

    Just irritates me to see CCP tout it as a universally easier thing when it's actually going to make me arse around with fuel at least as much as I currently do.

  3. Jester, faction tower have either +25% or +50% larger fuel base to compensate for fuel bonus.


  4. @Anon1504: Yes, I understand that. And that increases their times between fueling, but not their maintenance cost. The amount of fuel per day will not be changing, nor will the tower receive any other benefit for being faction.

    The ability to go 43 days between refuelings is not sufficient benefit for the cost of a faction tower. In many ways, it's a disadvantage because it increases the potential loss should the tower be attacked while fully fueled.

  5. Omigoshomigoshomigoshomigoshomigoshomigoshomigosh they're finally rewriting the POS code!

    Also, yeah, the faction tower thing's a little stupid. Especially with small numbers making things easier, I have several spreadsheets that I used to manage my old highsec amarr large tower for fuel and it was already decently easy. Having large numbers of fuel pellets wouldn't really be that bad.

  6. This is really only going to make it easier for folks who buy their POS fuel and those that have to load the final fuel in the towers. For everyone else it's going to mean more work. One more step in the manufacturing process and likely more mining if you don't run your POS's at 100% now.

    Just the bump to the amount of HW/LO alone will force me out of POS ownership, or make me constantly mine just to keep up with one small POS. That's two accounts (mining and manufacturing) that I can pretty much cancel, and likely will, since I won't need them any more.

  7. As I posted on FHC (and you did here too) smaller pellets would solve the problem:

    Pellet BPC produces 20x as many pellets as currently planned (Input cost remains the same. Pellet size 20x smaller)
    Non-faction tower fuel usage get 20x bigger to 20/40/80 pellets per hour (small/med/large)

    Now you can take into account 10%, 15% and 25% reductions for all tower sizes.

    (If I have a figure wrong here, feel free to adjust the multiplier.)

  8. Also, the pellet BPC is currently planned to produce 4 pellets not 1. Most people seem to miss that element.

  9. I have mixed feeling regarding the use of standings in lieue of password. First is that if using standing then all the meta gaming / spies to get the password is gone! And the use of the word exploit is not relevant in this case. How it can be exploit if they have your pos password? If they work hard then they earn your password and stop making simple password that are retarded easy to guess.
    There are time and place where password is proper or where an automatic blue standing is not feasible like the pos where you anchor your CSAA . Have more thought but I'm on my iPhone typing this.

  10. The setup times are an absolute great thing ... the ability to tear down and reconfigure the industry modules on the fly is awesome as well... the fuel thing for faction towers tells me CCP doesn't even understand what large faction towers are used for --- almost uniformly in stable 0.0 regions for moon mining towers to reduce the long term maintenance cost and boost your profits --- the time between fueling the things is entirely irrelevant. No one is going to let there R64 run out of fuel ... Every faction tower ought to just be changed to a regular one with the corp owner getting a refund.

  11. @Z1igy: "Work hard"? Please. 95% of the time, the only work involved in getting a JB password is typing "[alliance] jump bridge password" into Google.

  12. I'm more glad of the secondary bug being workaround-ed that CCP always refused to acknowledge; if you typed in the POS password, scooted inside the shields, then scooted back out, the tower would no longer see you as a target. This meant anything from a single pilot to a fleet could sit on a jumpbridge and nuke people going either direction with bubbles.

    Sure, I suppose that could make sense as "hacking the tower" or something, but really, a tower shouldn't see a bunch of reds sitting there and go "oh, lol, they have the password, so let them aggress all they want." Still think it needs to be fixed all the way...we'll see if it quietly is after the fact, I suppose.

  13. All faction towers and POS modules should be converted to regular towers and modules. There should only be one fuel type - no more isotopes - and you should only need to refuel the tower once per month. Right now, POS is too complicated and too much work for new players. CCP needs to make the game easier for new players - I think I read this somewhere.

    But, POS shield bubbles and passwords are silly, too. The bubble should go away, so that supercaps cannot hide inside them. Instead, supercaps would have to be protected by fleets all of the time, or get blown up - which is more realistic. The idea of needing to "bump" ships out of a POS bubble is really, really silly, if you think about it.

    Grinding a POS is one of the most boring things to do in the game. No one likes to do it, esp. new players. POS should be as easy to kill as a battleship, but able to be remote repped, too. This would make 0.0 more dynamic and exciting, since smaller alliances/corps would be able to more realistically cause strategic economic damage to the larger alliances/corps. More explosions and tears, too.

    Crazy? Yeah, I know, but, less boring, too.

  14. [Quote]

    I'm more glad of the secondary bug being workaround-ed that CCP always refused to acknowledge; if you typed in the POS password, scooted inside the shields, then scooted back out, the tower would no longer see you as a target. This meant anything from a single pilot to a fleet could sit on a jumpbridge and nuke people going either direction with bubbles.[/Quote]

    That doesn't seem to be true any more, at least about 2 Weeks back a Tower still shot me after doing what you described. (But they had only 1 gun loaded with ammo so it didn't make a difference in the end)

  15. I agree completely with Jester and Mike deVoid. One thing that I would like to point out is that in the dev blog they state:

    "...We talked to some large-scale starbase operators about this, and they told us that the main bonus of faction towers for them is actually that they last longer between fuel cycles...."

    Large scale POS operators in nullsec probably do not "own" the POS's, nor do they realistically believe the POS's will exist in 3 years time. Highsec and Wormhole residence do cost/benefit or "when will it pay for itself" calculations. One man corporation in Highsec doesn't spend over a billion on a faction large tower because it holds more fuel.

    Why would these implied small-scale starbase operators now want their faction towers if they will never pay for themselves?

  16. As encouraging as it is to see CCP take on things they could not be arsed to take on for years (knowing full well they had to), I'm still a little torn about how they take on things.

    It all strikes me as something barely above the patchwork level of affairs they went by for the past few years. Engaging on something is good, but it strikes me as taking on something between shortcuts and low cost investments of resources.

    I'm with CCP PrismX on the POS topic, time to end the love/hate affair: replace the construct, phase out the old.

  17. Part 1
    When looking at game mechanics changes, it is important to separate design principles from interest. Having fewer fuel blocks does make the math simpler, and having one fuel consumption rate for a POS of a particular size also makes it easier. You do add some complexity to the system by breaking the blocks into smaller units for granularity which you then use to give certain POS's fuel consumption benefits. Not saying it makes it too complex, but it does increase the complexity that players will have to deal with.

    Whether you, as a CCP game designer, want Faction towers to have a fuel consumption bonus is also a design decision. Is that an advantage of faction POS's you want players to be attracted to? Or are there other advantages of faction POS's that you want to focus their attention on? What is the future of faction POS's - they are now difficult to acquire, do you want to continue to encourage their use in industry/manufacturing or do you want to move them into more of a combat/security setting where their increased HP and PG for guns are the attractions? This would tend to move the supply of faction POS's out of high sec and into the more dangerous parts of space. So, what is the role that faction POS play in the game?

    The complaints on the forums about fuel usage rates and killed profit margins have nothing to do with game design. They are based on player self-interest. A change has been proposed that will mess up a profit scheme that they currently make use of. They will be harmed by the change, so oppose it and ask for changes to be made so their interests are protected - i.e. their profit margins. This is completely legitimate for players to do, indeed CCP should (and currently is) encouraging this type of feedback.

  18. Part 2
    However, game designers need to keep in mind this type of player feedback isn't a game design question, more of a "how much disruption of the status quo/pain to current users are you going to inflict to achieve a design outcome" question. All changes in Eve hurt someone, sometimes LOTS of someone's. The super cap changes are going to hurt people who have invested HUGE amounts of effort/resources into their super cap fleets. It will help other people - especially those who are foes of the people with lots of super caps but have fewer of them themselves. It will also hurt the market for and manufacturing of super caps for profit. The nerf to the Dramiel will hurt those who hunt using them and those that make isk acquiring the BPC's from the Angel's and selling them.

    Are the changes worth the pain? Is the game design simplicity more important than a temporary disruption to the industrial POS world (it might be permanent to a individual case, but at the system level everyone will adapt, redo their calculations, and move on manufacturing). Tar-Palantir won't pass judgement on that balance, but that is what CCP should be keeping in mind.

    To sin, a quick real world example. A tax code with a few simple rules and no exceptions is very simple, easy to understand, and easy to administer. However, it lacks granularity and makes it harder to encourage certain behaviors by providing benefits for those behaviors. It also lacks benefits for a lot of people who like the current tax exception/loophole that they have. Most of those who currently benefit will argue that it is essential that their exception be left in for reason X, Y, or Z. But that is mostly their self-interest speaking, not a grand vision of how the tax system should be designed.

    You have survived the essay, you can now kill the author.

  19. @Anonymous

    People buy many things in EVE expecting profit. That profit can be actual, eventual, or possible.

    For example, people buy T2 BPO's knowing they can turn an Eventual profit if they continue using the BPO for long enough. Combined with the fact its Possible they could flip the item for the initial investment... Actual profit could be fairly substantial over a years worth of ownership. Of course, this considers constant use, and finding a good buyer.

    So also for Faction towers. What real benefit exists in a way that justifies their price? The dev blog changes doubly hurt the people owning faction towers. Using them won't give a net savings in fuel anymore, and the announcement will likely cause a reduction in market value of the towers. Both combined cause a significant level of "hurt".

    What realistically justifies this hurt? Is there a reason this needed to be done? Super Capitals had a "need" for change of some kind. The change to faction towers was not for balance, it was mostly due to ignorance.

  20. Was the change to faction towers ignorant or an intentional move to increase the cost and consumption of fuel in Eve? I feel strongly that it is the second. On the off chance that this is not the case I propose the following solution. Increase the time it takes a faction POS to consume a fuel block. Currently it takes a small POS 60min to consume one block. Increase that time to say 80min. 33% fuel consumption reduction.

  21. It was ignorant. They looked at balancing faction tower fuel bays in the same way they might look at a jump fuel bay on a ship. 25% less fuel used per jump? Why not just give 25% more jump fuel bay space? They both give the ship the same range out of one full bay, right?

    Its worth noting that if they made the faction super carrier have only a 25% larger fuel bay and 10% more base EHP then a Wyvern, people would have been outraged. From the Dominix Navy Issue to the Domination Status Webifier Array, from Navy Comets to Sisters Probes.... faction gives a benefit for the extra price.

    That or they go the way of most storyline items and fade into obscurity as useless curios. 1600mm Syndicate Plates anyone?


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