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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Friday, January 20, 2012

Kill of the Week: Flycatchers

So, at the risk of annoying Seleene (and his Titan), I'm going to go with this for my KOTW.

Oh look.  A Titan without drones just solo killed a Flycatcher.

I've said it before, and this time, I'm going to write an entire blog post about it.  Titan guns are massively, stupidly, annoyingly, ridiculously over-powered.  One of my beefs with Perpetuum Online when I was writing about it here semi-regularly was the fact that larger robots targeted just as fast as smaller robots and they had many more mid-slots in which to fit the PO equivalent of Sensor Boosters.  So, the larger PO robots got the ability to double-dip: they had more guns to fire and they had the ability to target those guns more quickly than a smaller PO robot could counter-attack.  This was a dumb mechanic.  I haven't revisited PO to see if it's been fixed.

In the meantime, we have the same thing going on in EVE Online with Titan gun tracking.

I sometimes play a miniature war-game that involves man-size targets, vehicle-size targets, and warship-size targets all on the same battlefield.  In this game, when a vehicle attacks a man, it does so at a large penalty.  This happens despite the fact that the vehicles are presumably quite advanced, with excellent computer-controlled targeting systems.  When a warship-size target attacks a man-size target, the very large penalty is doubled, making a hit essentially impossible.

And let's be clear here: a Titan solo killing a dictor with its guns is roughly the equivalent of a battleship solo killing a Warrior II with its large guns.  Or a warship in the miniature war-game I play shooting a parrot off the shoulder of a man-size target.

I'm annoying Seleene here because when I pointed out this kind of kill to Seleene, he made a very large production number of the fact that while the Titans were applying DPS, it was allied Loki and Proteus strategic cruisers applying target painters and webs that made those kills possible.  And while this statement is factual, it isn't really true.  As super-capital ships, Erebus Titans have six mid-slots, equal to or more mid-slots than any other Gallente ship in the game.  And Erebus pilots fill those slots with Tracking Computers.  Oh my, do they ever.  An unbonused Titan gun tracks at 0.0067.  Slot four good quality Tracking Computers into those mid-slots, pop a Drop booster, and this rises to 0.022 or higher.

Or put another way, that's better tracking than my tracking enhanced Tornado and nearly as good as my tracking enhanced arty-fit Hurricane.

Dear Heaven, does this need to be fixed.

Oh, and just in case someone says "Jester, you tard.  That kill is a fluke.  That Flycatcher pilot was obviously doing something dumb.  It was just blind luck that that Titan soloed it."  Uh huh.  Right.  What were you saying?

I think the wrong ships in this game are being called fly-catchers.


  1. I am in agreement. No amount of squad boosters and Ewar should allow titan guns to have tracking like that.

    1. Yeah, I didn't even bother assuming Remote Tracking Links (the tracking was already stupidly high without one).

  2. First, given the fit on that dictor, I think it's reasonable to assume that the pilot wasn't using top-notch manual flying to maintain transversal as he moved. In fact, I'd be willing to bet he was either burning directly at the titan or sitting still. Idiots in bad fits dying in stupid ways don't have any implications for game balance one way or another.

    Second, the titan's guns have a signature resolution of 1000 whereas BS turrets have a sig res of 400, i.e. the BS guns have a built-in 2.5-fold tracking advantage* that isn't apparent if you just look at the rad/s values. Unfortunately, the word 'tracking' has two different meanings - there's the definition used in the tracking formula, which loosely equates to the speed at which the turret can be rotated, and there's the more general concept of tracking as "the ability to apply damage to a moving target." While a Titan may have similar tracking to a BS in the first sense, the difference in signature resolutions means that it is much, much worse in the second (and more important) sense.

    1. This same Titan pilot has solo kills on more than a dozen smaller ships: dictors, cruisers, and small-sig tier3 BCs. I find it difficult to believe that all of them are flying stupidly. It would also seem to indicate that he's not having a signature problem with his guns.

    2. Titans in combat use an overview ordered by transversal, meaning that the pilots flying stupidly or standing still appear at the top of the list. When you are faced with hundreds of hostile ships at a time on a regular basis, finding a few dozen badly flown targets over time isn't hard.

      By the way I do think that sig radius should be made more important in the tracking formula, and that nerfing titan damage projection would be one of several significant benefits of that change.

      I just disagree with how alarmist and weakly informed (compared to your generally high standard of posting) your statements on this issue are.

      The comparison to a battleship hitting a warrior II is apt, as long as you take into account that the battleship has no tank mods fit and the warrior II is MWDing towards it. (In which case I could easily blap warrior IIs all day in a geddon)

  3. Jester, there is a simple solution to the problem, the current tracking formula uses tranversal speed and signature radius as two inputs to create a single hit/miss result.

    If you decouple these two inputs, and first use the speed to determine if a titan can follow with its gun a small ships like a interdictor, it makes a 2nd pass to see if its HUGE ammo size can actually hit squarely such a small target. Its been discussed to death on FHC btw

  4. The obvious explanation here is that IRC is terrible

  5. No. This is incorrect. Pretty much your entire post is incorrect. Sorry to say it.

    This kill was an instance of massive stupidity on the part of the flycatcher pilot, incredible luck on the part of the Titan pilot, or both.

    While you can get the nominal tracking of the guns above 0.02 and paint the shit out of the target, this doesn't mean that even cruiser-sized targets are easy to hit.

    Small, medium, large, and x-large guns all have this attribute, uniform across the entire size class, called Signature Resolution. For small guns, it's 40m; medium: 125m, large: 400m, and x-large: 1000m. This is the UNIT that the turret's tracking is measured by. When you look at a gun's tracking, its tracking ability is proportional to that number of radians of transversal per second AGAINST A TARGET WITH THAT SIGNATURE RADIUS. Essentially, a Hurricane with 720mm artillery, using Tremor ammunition, no tracking-enhancing modules, and no skills WHATSOEVER still tracks TWICE as well as a blaster-fit titan with the tracking speed you described.

    I reiterate: This is a very silly kill. Seleene was right. This is by no means an expected result, and you can by no means compare Titan tracking ability to that of a smaller ship unless that ship has as little tracking as you can possibly get. If you do in fact go full-retard with webs and painters, it is possible to get a Titan to hit relatively small targets, but it takes considerable doing as anyone who actually uses tracking titans can tell you.

    Oh, and as a final note, you may notice that the Lachesis has 7 mid slots, one more than the Erebus.

    1. Again, this same Titan pilot has more than a dozen solo kills against small sig targets. I find it difficult to believe that all of them were flying stupidly. And that's just one PL Titan pilot. I'd bet I'd find hundreds of Titan solo kills against small targets if I looked.

      Sure, ordering targets by transversal as Raivi points out above is one reason... but I find it hard to believe it's the sole reason.

      The simple fact is that Titans have no business gunning down small targets. You can justify the opposite as often as you like, but it doesn't change that simple fact. The USS MISSOURI's main battleship guns should not knock an attacking aircraft out of the sky except perhaps once in that ship's career, and that by stupid blind luck.

    2. You can't keep guns from killing something. If it's theoretically possible to use a really damn big gun to destroy something for cheap, someone's gonna figure out how to do it. You're getting overly worked up about something that really isn't a big deal, or even very surprising.

      I mean, for Pete's sake, this kill hardly occurred in a vacuum ( http://irc.eve-kill.net/?a=kill_related&kll_id=12174560 ). There were numerous supercapitals on the field, probably spread quite far apart, and if he's being careful and watching for it, it is completely feasible for him to pick them off when they're at range without transversal. It's damn near impossible to keep low transversal against everything on the field. Nor am I surprised that he's the only one on the mail; PL isn't known for firing on targets willy-nilly when they should be focusing on primaries.

      This is a pilot taking some initiative to pick off the tackle around his supercap buddies and the rest of his fleet when he has the opportunity, and I think you are vastly exaggerating and over-sensationalizing the whole thing. Until you actually do find "hundreds" of solo-kills of post-Crucible titans gunning down lone Sabres, Hawks, and Stilettos, I should think it's best you let this one lie.

  6. http://eve.battleclinic.com/killboard/killmail.php?id=14976780

    look at all of the related kills from this one.

    Essentially what you have is two tracking titans and an Onyx.

    And the titans do all the work... The onyx doesn't have any damage on a single kill.

    A scimitar got molested by the titan, and I know for a fact that A.) the pilot of the scimitar (despite being on the account of a not very good isk ratio toon) is a very good pilot and does not make egregious errors that would allow a titan to track and kill him. In addition, I know the pilot of the scimitar was running a BOOSTER dropping his sig radius down even further (I believe he said his sig radius was below 70 or 60 with the booster running).

    How does a titan hit that? There is something fundamentally wrong with Titan guns that can track that.

  7. We should do tests on the test server to get our answers. That way we could control the parameters. We'd know exactly in what case a Titan can or cannot shoot a flycatcher.

    While Jester's post by itself doesn't warrant a Titan nerf, it does bring attention to the problem. More testing is required to get an answer though. Lets not jump to conclusion.

  8. It isn't just titans that have a problem. Sieged dreads in wormholes can also hit small ships, and do so very effectively. There needs to be a *damage* penalty when big guns shoot small ships, IMHO

    1. That makes sense from a game design perspective, but not really from a logical perspective. Additionally, including a damage penalty based on sig radius makes guns more like missiles.

    2. Autonomous MonsterJanuary 20, 2012 at 4:43 PM

      Um. Well, theoretically, there already is a damage penalty. Shots have a damage multiplier that caps at hit% + 0.5.

      'course, it clearly isn't sufficient to purpose. :p

      Could (just brainstorming here):

      • Reduce minimum damage (from 50% base to, say, 5%?). Problems: will fuck with like-on-like battles, especially at the lower sizes where transversal is a bigger factor. Actually, I think the effect will be so asymmetric across size classes it's be a nightmare to balance properly.
      • Add another, independant, damage mod (sigrad/sigres post-multiplier, capped at 1.0?). Problems: Kind of a blunt instrument. Feels a bit static. Also blurs the line between turrets and missiles, but I don't really think the two systems are close enough for us to risk screwing the poodle here.
      • Rejig the turret formula. Something like H = 0.5^((ωp/ts)^2 + (pr/as)^2 + (max(0, r - o) / f)^2) (ω = ang velocity, p = sig res, t = tracking, s = sig rad, a = some coefficient, r = range to target, o = optimal, f = falloff), perhaps. Problems: Complicated. Difficult. Probably a huge number of unforseen consequences in every area of the game. Side benefits: we finally disentangle tracking from signature, so that "I can hit fast things" is not coterminous with "I can hit small things".

      Honestly, I think we need to ask ourselves first whether we have a problem with tracking in general or just with XL guns, because if it's the latter all we need to do is increase their sig res by a few orders of magnitude (and adjust capital sig res accordingly ;)). Target painters/tracking links are stacking penalised, right?

    3. No, dude. Besides the fact that it seems you might not have the firmest grasp on the way turrets work now, this is a terrible idea. You seem to be asking simply that all tracking equations be squared, or that all turrets be turned into missiles, in equations that don't even make sense when you think about them. The current turret equations actually make sense, as a basic simulation of guns tracking and hitting moving objects more or less directly.

      You could always just call for titan tracking to be nerfed.

    4. Autonomous MonsterJanuary 21, 2012 at 3:56 AM

      Please go on. I'll take notes. :)

  9. My understanding here is that there are two issues: first, there's the game design issue of "should a titan be able to hit something cruiser-sized or smaller, ever", second there's the attitude of "that's how it works, dumbass."

    What I see in these comments is people jumping straight on to the "that's how it works, dumbass" issue before bothering to think that Jester's actually trying to address the "should this be possible, from a game design point of view."

    There's not denying that Titans are currently capable of shooting frigate-sized objects out of the sky. The question is: should this even be possible from a game design perspective?

    Note that applying an inverse-square reduction of damage based on the difference between weapon sig resolution versus target size isn't really going to help: one round of antimatter charge XL from an Erebus is going to do somewhere in the order of 1000 damage in the first place, and the Erebus has 6 of those. If the Erebus can hit you at all, that Flycatcher is going to be taking significant damage.

    There's a sister issue to the "should it be possible" which is "how possible". If an Erebus can hit a Flycatcher or Scimitar, should it be able to apply a significant amount of damage?

    With a signature resolution of 1000m and a target size of about 100m, the damage should be reduced by about a factor of 100: this is the ratio (1000m)^2 / (100m)^2

    Perhaps the tracking formula needs to be tweaked too: rather than simply dividing the two numbers, the inverse square needs to be applied.

  10. I reiterate how PL was able to camp in an Alliance into a station using only two Titans, a mobile bubble anchored on said Titans, and an Interdictor. Sure, the reason a big fleet didn't form was due to the high probability of every PL character showing up the second it undocked, but those two Titans killed just about everything that undocked and didn't properly redock.

    Honestly, I don't understand why Titan guns need any tracking. Sure, they're supposed to be able to shoot "small" capitals like carriers and dreads, but that's like shooting rockets at icebergs. Make them choose; damage-fit for structure bashing, and this "tracking fit" to bring their tracking up high enough to hit a carrier in transversal and pretty much nothing else.

  11. Time to move EVE to ray cast hit detection?


  12. Titans should be great at Structure Bashing. Should be great at shooting Supercarriers, Dreadnaughts, Carriers.
    Titans fit with a tracking mod should be good at hitting battleships.
    Titans fit with 2-3 tracking mods should be ok-good hitting battlecruisers.
    A 4th tracking mod makes them consistently hit battlecruisers. Anything beyond the 4th tracking mod should give no extra bonus. A titan with 4 meta-14 tracking mods should only be able to hit a cruiser at speed about 1/25 times. 20 Cruisers with logistics should be a threat to kill a Titan that has little to no support. The titan should not be able to have a field day.

  13. There is a tiny piece of information that you forgot to include in your math Jester, and that is that an XL gun will track as good as you mentioned - against an XL target. EVE tracking formula 101 you know? An XL gun tracking a small target will have abyssmal tracking and nowhere close to your numbers. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WT8VqVcLDqc from about 5:00 :)


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