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.
You can follow along, if you want...

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Iterations

Like a tackler approaching a dangerous target, I'm going to spiral in on a topic.  Maybe I'll catch it, maybe it'll warp off.  Let's see.

First, go out and read "Balancing costs and benefits", a blog post by frequent Titan pilot and CSM member Seleene.  I'll wait.

Iteration (n), definition 2: a problem-solving or computational method in which a succession of approximations, each building on the one preceding, is used to achieve a desired degree of accuracy.
Take a small handful of pennies: a dozen or so will do to start.  Toss them on a large flat surface, like your dining room table.  Spread them out a bit, but not too far.  A dozen pennies in a square about a third of a meter on a side is good.  Now take a single dime and put it in the middle of the formation of pennies.  Now then, your job is to move the dime outside of the square that includes all the pennies.  But you have to move the dime so that at no point is it moving directly toward or directly away from any of the pennies.  Try it.  See if you can do it.

I'm betting you can't.

You've now just simulated the difficulty of a dictor pilot trying to tackle a group of Titans.  Even if you somehow survive to get in among the Titans (let's say you've got a warp in), chances are you're not getting back out.  One of those Titans is going to blap you.  They are carefully watching your radial velocity on their Overview and when that number drops below their gun tracking (which I assure you they have memorized), F1... boom.  You're dead.

This harkens back to what I posted the other day about guns having a 100% chance to hit a target if tracking is taken out of the equation, and the fact that they'll do at least 50% of base damage.  Base volley damage on an Avatar is 13,000+ HP... better than a alpha-fit Maelstrom.

Remember, the to-hit calculations are all chance-based.  "Titans are getting their tracking cut in half," you remind me, and yes, that's true.  When I play table-top war-games, I like to specialize in a skill that I think of as "double tap".  The best "to hit bonus" in the world is not as good as taking two dice rolls instead of one to hit the target.  I'd rather have two dice rolls than one high-bonus dice roll.  And Titans have six dice rolls, not two.  And twelve Titans have 72 dice rolls.  Even if you cut their "to hit" chance in half, someone's going to get lucky.

Next, remember what I said about proliferation.  Titans are becoming so common-place in the alliances that rely on them that we've got people dual-boxing Titans.  They're spreading like mad.  The problem with Titans isn't the one Titan you have tackled, it's the fact that this is going to come and try to rescue the Titan you have tackled:


Did I say your dime has to out-maneuver a dozen pennies?  I lied.  It has to out-maneuver double that.  Or triple.

CCP had to do something to combat this, and the solution they chose was to greatly reduce the scan resolution of Titans, to a 5mm base.  You can simulate this yourself in EFT if you like using a Phoenix dreadnought, a Tech 2 Siege Module, and two 'Halcyon' Warp Core Stabilizers.  If you do not assign a pilot, you'll find this "Titan lock-time simulator" has a 5mm scan res, just like Titans will have soon(tm).  Now fit a pair of officer sensor boosters with scan res scripts to our simulator, and put in a Quafe Zero.  You'll find that scan res increases to between 15 and 16mm.  That's sufficient to lock a carrier in 30 seconds, or a super carrier or Titan in 20-25 seconds.

Seleene describes this as a "troll" by CCP.  I describe it as "my Revelation", which locks targets of this size only a few seconds faster.

Is this the scan res nerf the perfect solution?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  Seleene, champion of iterations, describes it as "kicking the can down the road."  I describe it as an "iteration", but what do I know.  Perhaps when the Dominion sov system was being put into EVE, it shouldn't have been pushed out to Tranquility until every designed sov enhancement associated with it, such as treaties, were implemented all at the same time.  If the fact that "short term fixes have a nasty habit of turning into long term fixes", all I can say is you knew this when you put down your 60 or 70 billion for your "big toy".

Iteration, by definition, includes making changes, checking to see if they do anything approaching what was expected, and making changes again until you like the results.  You don't get to be the champion of only the iterations that you personally like.

But in my opinion, the high money tears aren't even about that, not really.  The simple fact is that Titans will now have to wait 100 seconds to lock up a dictor, or 80 seconds to lock up a hictor.  Therefore, they're going to have to rely on strong sub-cap support in order to attack those ships, and can't just blap them themselves.  They soon won't be able to just jump their super cap fleet into a fleet of sub-caps with impunity any more.  And this appears to terrify every Titan pilot in the game.

I find myself unsympathetic to say the least.

I'll have more to say about the cost side of the equation later in the week.  That deserves its own post.  But here's a hint: "expensive" and "invulnerable" have different definitions in the dictionary, I assure you.

23 comments:

  1. I think that both of you are correct. I like this nerf in the short term, but I still think Titans and supers need a full rework. They still don't have a clearly defined role that doesn't tread on the role of other ships. I share Shadoo's worry about "kicking the can down the road", but this fix is definitely necessary. The cost of a super isn't just its monetary cost, it's also locking a character into that ship, which is ridiculous. CCP needs to sit down, choose sensible roles for these ships, and completely rework them.

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    1. As I said in my "Vindicator" post a few days ago, I agree with this. Titans need a full rework. But Seleene is arguing that this change shouldn't have been made until the full rework was done. That's like saying that Dominion sov shouldn't have been done until everything that went in next to it was done.

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    2. I just hope they don't leave it the way it is like they did with Dominion sov. I agree with the pattern Seleene is arguing exists, but I disagree with his assessment of this particular nerf. I also think Dominion sov probably could have waited a month or two while the additional features were added. Of course, knowing CCP, to add those features would have taken a year or two... sigh...

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  2. If expense doesn't buy power then what do you get? A monocle? At what point are Titans no longer worth the expense?

    These are not troll questions because at some point a pilot has to consider whether they would rather have one golden death wang, or quite possibly hundreds of subcaps.

    I think the answer to that question depends on what one considers a titans role. Is a floating jump portal generator worth tens of billions of isk? Possibly.

    A related question, should there be weapons of mass destruction in EVE?

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    1. Supers are TOO powerful relative to the expense. Go back and reread my post that talks about what a 3 billion ISK Bhaalgorn should be able to do if it compared to a Armageddon the same way a super carrier compares to a carrier. Hint: just for starters, the Bhaalgorn would have eight times the tank of an Armageddon.

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    2. Oh, and there already are weapons of mass destruction in EVE: bombs and smart bombs.

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    3. Regarding your Bhaalgorn/Carrier example, it is not obvious why stats should linearly increase with isk. We do not compare Tengus with Condors.

      Also, bombs and smart bombs are not weapons of mass destruction. They are area of effect weapons sure, but they are not in the same league as something like the old AOE Dooms Day.

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    4. No, I have to agree with Karbox. Conventional bombs and smart bombs do not qualify as weapons of mass destruction, even when I have to admit that bomber bombs are close.

      Imho the problem with titans is: Even Titans do not qualify as weapons of mass destruction. They are just heavy ships, very heavy indeed, but are a conventional weapon.

      There are no MAD scenarios with them, their is no reason to actually not use them, they are no danger to your own fleet and they are no assured destruction for the enemy either. And the risk in using them is minimal. Which is all wrong in my opinion as they SHOULD be weapons of mass destruction. Something that can change the whole battlefield, but if the enemy counters you by the same means mutual destruction is assured. Something people want to ban from the battlefields because actually using it would endanger survival of alliances.

      Maybe their doomsday should be cable of killing outposts? Or their doomsday should be require siege mode and charging up on targets for minutes but kills anything in one shot IF it stays on grid (including other titans). Whatever the solution for the titan problem is, I have no idea. They just seem currently like big battleships which seems wrong.

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  3. Personally, I have never seen a fight involving titans that did not as a bare minimum involve a good portion of subcaps in support of said titans. T3s, ceptors/faction frigs, recons, dictors, hictors, command ships, and what have you. Triage carriers was also almost always present.

    I dont see this change one bit. The big titan holding alliances are going to adapt and overcome this nerf, and not much will change. What Seleene is saying is that CCP should get their head out of their ass and do it properly, instead of just kicking the can down the road. A point of view I think history will show that has a lot more merit than the current knee jerk from CCP.

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  4. A somewhat random, but fitting, model to use for an explanation.

    I'd have to agree with all of your arguments.

    But you touch upon the point of supercapital proliferation.

    Whats the point of taking down a single titan in a fight if there are three dozen more ready to take its place?

    Do you feel that ccp should be taking a look at limiting proliferation, rather than nerfing a titan's combat abilities?

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  5. Apparently CCP doesn't read your blog, since CCP Soundwave claims that there is no way to adjust damage based on target size.

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  6. "Apparently CCP doesn't read your blog, since CCP Soundwave claims that there is no way to adjust damage based on target size."

    Wtf? change the * between sig/sig res and rad vel/tracking in the to hit formula to a + . Put a min {1, sig/sig res} in there so rifters don't do >9000 dps to a titan. There i fixed it.

    (This would in no way be a good fix as it would seriously unbalance shit/quite possibly make small ships op/need a shitload of additional balancing/etc, but claiming it's impossible is rather ridiculous.)

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  7. Just a thought, but wouldn't an auto targeter in high slot fix a lot of the Titan's problems in regards to locking up small stuff?

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  8. Jester, you are completely ignoring where I said that the only part about this change which I thought was a bit ham handed was the scan res bit. OF COURSE they needed to do something. I never argued that FFS.

    You can talk about pennies and word games all you want, but CCP very much IS kicking the can down the road. At present they have no definitive timeline for EVER doing a proper role-revamp of titans. THAT is what my frustration is. They aren't even talking about it in any form.

    This change? It took CCP Greyscale less than 10 minutes to do before handing it off to QA. This change was done with no solicitation of information by either the CSM or the community, it was literally booshed out with minimal notice. Compared to the last changes done by CCP Tallest, where there was some back and forth and an exchange of ideas, this was a joke.

    You describe me as a 'frequent titan pilot and CSM member'. Well, you got one of them right at least. If you really want your casual reader to understand my stance on this (which it doesn't appear you do), then you should also be explaining why my stance on this is not focused on such simple things as playing with numbers. Or just continue to focus on trying to generate bend perceptions based on the most warped perception of my intentions possible. v0v

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    1. I directly linked to your post on the matter. I'm not sure what else you'd like me to do.

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    2. My point is that you are still talking about and analyzing these things (titans) in the most narrow possible vision whereas I am trying to start a conversation about what ELSE they could possibly do. I'm grumpy because I see so many people wasting their time on rage and looking for silver bullet solutions when what is really needed is a complete re-think of the class.

      This change is a 'troll' because many of us assumed that CCP was going to be giving them a proper look at, not just spend 10 minutes on a few numbers so the task could be finished before the end of a sprint. :(

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    3. As I said in my "Vindicator" post, I am completely open to a full review of what the Titan's battlefield role should be and how to get it there.

      In the meantime, I feel this kind of change is both needed and long overdue. As I said in this post, I feel it's a valid iteration.

      Given that it's the second recent Titan iteration and more are promised, aren't you and Shadoo being a little premature thinking that Titans are going to be this way forever? Aren't we going to have a CSM that pushes further iteration and ship balancing?

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  9. I have to ask. Why doesn't your Revelation have a sensor booster fit?

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  10. i read on eve o-forum that the locking time wouldn't be that long for small ships, as the formulae is not proportional, but exponential, are you sure about your 80-100sec lock time for cruiser/destro ?

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    1. Basing those times on the "Titan lock-time simulator" I mention in this post. Put it into EFT yourself and try it. I have no reason to suspect the numbers are wrong.

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  11. There's old footage of a Q&A session with CCP that goes something like:

    "Titans aren't cost effective"
    "they're not supposed to be cost effective. It's a giant dick."

    "I think the argument can be made that a giant dick IS cost effective."

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  12. The idea of changes may be right but the tools used aren't the right one. But as you say Jester, it is just one (of hopefully many) iterations to come. This is a "fast" solution (more a quick fix).

    In order to tackle the problem of hitting by luck ccp needs to come up with a new formula. Take a current Battleship (RL) cannon, if you shoot at a large building you will do decent damage and will hit it relatively easy. But if you are trying to hit the rabbit hopping around this building you will have damn hard time. Chances are like 1% or lower. With a lot of luck you get this rabbit, and it is ok if it can't survive this hit.

    In current Titan to Dictor mechanic the luck you need is way to small. Your chance to hit it is only calculated with tracking. Considering you don't have collateral damage like hitting the ground next to the rabbit in space, how big is your chance to hit a pinhead with a gun that is build to hit a Dreadnought or at least BS size. Even if the Signature of a ship is blooming like hell it makes locking the target much easier yes, but the chance to hit needs do correlate with the real size of the target as well.
    Just because my sensors SEE this pinhead bright and clear does not mean my guns are made to hit it.

    As a new role for Titans (beside the "mobile jump bridge") i would like to see a mobile staging "station". Including med. Clone and reshipment for are decent fleet of subcaps. Reshipping in the same system would reduce time to get back to fight.

    Short version: right direction, wrong tools. More work is needed and (hopefully) will come to this topic. New roles would be good.

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  13. What bothers me most about Seleene's post is an argument reminiscent of the 99% vs the 1% is the US economy. Cost/Benefit analysis has to also take into account how many people it benefits. While titans are plentiful, they still are a minority of pilots in the game. Just because they have more skill points doesn't make them more important to CCP.

    This change, while certainly not a perfect solution, goes a LONG way towards a better balance, and benefits many more pilots in nullsec than it hurts.

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