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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, March 13, 2012

Vindicator

So, call this the picture of the week:


Why are the Goons so smug this morning?  Because right after DT, CCP Greyscale wrote a post in the Ships and Modules section of the EVE-O forums, which I reproduce here in full(1):

Hi everyone,

We're not happy with the effectiveness of large groups of titans against subcapital ships, so we're making some adjustments to titans and to XL turrets.

This is a quick, surgical adjustment to solve a specific issue we have identified. It's not a general titan balance pass, and we don't consider titans "done" after this change. Titans will require significant further changes, and probably an overall adjustment in role, before they're in a place where we're really happy with them. This will require a reasonably significant amount of work, which we unfortunately don't have the spare resources for right now. In a similar vein, we're not making more extensive balance changes (or addressing this issue in a more technically complex way) because we're allocating the minimum resources needed to resolve the specific issue (titans performing excessively well against subcaps in certain circumstances) satisfactorily. If you have any further questions about this paragraph, please ask away Smile

For the immediate future and until such time as we have the resources available to do a comprehensive overhaul, we want to ensure that titans perform decently against other capitals, but do not represent a serious threat to subcaps. We want titans to have clear vulnerabilities, and as much as possible to have them acting in support of the main capital/subcap fleet rather than the other way round. We've already prevented doomsdays from being fired at subcaps, and this adjustment should continue that trend.

We have talked to the CSM about this, and we're comfortable going forward with these changes in light of that discussion. I'm not going to put words in their mouths, though.


Specific changes being made:


XL turret tracking halved, siege module tracking penalty removed

This should generally make titan performance against small targets significantly worse, without seriously impacting their effectiveness against larger targets, or negatively impacting dreadnaughts in their common use-case (ie, in siege mode).

Titans reduced to 3 maximum locked targets, and base scan resolution reduced to 5

This should make trying to engage smaller targets very inefficient, due to long lock-times and an inability to queue many targets at once. This reinforces the titan's MO as a slow-acting but hard-hitting platform (in line with the doomsday's huge damage and 10 minute RoF). The scan res number is balanced around multiple Cormack's sensor boosters, on the assumption that money is not a limiting factor for titan pilots, and therefore that people will shell out for officer SBs if that lets them continue do this kind of thing. Our understanding is that this isn't standard practice right now, but we have to balance for expected behavior after the change, and for worst-case scenarios.

Expected release schedule for these changes

These changes should hit TQ some time in April. If there is a sizable release in April then expect them to turn up then; if not then we'll announce deployment dates for these changes closer to the time.



Changes considered and discarded:

(I'm expecting at least three people to not read the word "discarded" and make angry posts about something in this section. C'est la vie.)

Titans can't lock subcaps at all

Guaranteed effective solution, but we considered it too hacky and restrictive.

Adding a "minimum sig radius" attribute to turrets, below which damage would fall off regardless of tracking

Too big a change and more technical work than we actually needed to solve the problem.

Changing the lock time formula

As it is, the lock time formula doesn't really scale in a nice way between battleships and capitals (the kink in the curve always happens around cruisers regardless of the scan res and sig radius), but again we decided we could solve the issue without resorting to this sort of technical work.

Changing XL missiles to match

While in a strictly regimented world we ought in principle to nerf XL missiles and remove the penalties from the siege module for them too, in practice they're not actually a problem due to the way missile damage scales against small targets. Leaving them unchanged also serves to differentiate missiles further from turrets, which might make them more useful on capitals under certain circumstances.


Do I need to say how I feel about this change?  I guess I don't.  But I'm going to anyway: I'm 100% in favor of these changes from start to finish.  Further, I don't think the changes go far enough, and it's great that CCP recognizes this.  The ability of Titans in large groups to alpha particularly dangerous sub-caps off the field is merely reduced somewhat, not eliminated.  This still means that a large enough fleet of Titans, spread widely enough, will still be able to alpha sub-caps: at least one of them will still get the killing shot in.  And make no mistake about it: Titans still exist in fleet-size quantities.  We're still going to see examples of it being done.  But this change is a good start.

Let's talk a few specifics, too.  First specific: base Titan scan res right now is 45, so that's a nine-fold reduction in lock time.  Titans can currently lock eight targets; that's reduced to three.  My assumption here is that someone in CCP warped a Titan to a sanctum on Sisi and started blapping battleships while they calculated the amount of time needed to blap three battleships vis a vis locking more of them.  The net result, I suspect, is that Titans can kill rat battleships far faster than they can lock them now, setting a hard (and presumably low) upper limit on ISK/hour that can be made Titan ratting.  A ton of Titans in this game currently make back their own costs in a few months of Titan ratting.  That's one reason supers were becoming so ubiquitous in large sov-holding alliances.  I was hearing more and more stories about dual-boxing Titans!  It seems reasonably clear that the days of the ratting Titan will be ending not long after this change goes live.

On the one hand, this is a good thing.  On the other, though, this now represents a pretty clear dividing line in EVE's history.  "Don't fly what you can't afford to lose" is EVE law.  A lot of Titan pilots spend their spare time ratting in Titans so that they can follow that law: they want the ISK to replace their Titan should something happen to it.  There's now a flock of Titan pilots out there that can do that.  Given the low loss-rate on Titans, as a result, it's quite literally going to take years for this change to shake itself out.  A lot of Titans need to get blown up before the harm inflicted by ratting Titans is repaired.

Second thing: expect to see a lot more ratting Titans between now and when this change goes live as the rest of the Titan pilots realize this.  "Use it or lose it" is the order of the day, and hopefully, we'll see some fun ratting Titan kills between now and then.

Third thing: "money is not a limiting factor for titan pilots".  See above.  But just as interesting, expect the market for officer and faction Sebos to skyrocket now.  We've seen this happen with officer and faction Tracking Computers already.  Ironically, this might effectively represent a buff for Rags, given their seven mid slots.  I don't think people will be going out of their way to train for Rags to take advantage of this, though.  ;-)

Finally, what's most interesting to me of all is that CCP is apparently actually looking at the base code that drives this whole game.  We could see an inkling of that in the ship types dev-blog (which I'll be writing about this week).  When people first start playing this game, they tend to be a little bit dismissive of the tracking/sig radius calculations, thinking "Well, that's really complex, and I'll let tracking take care of itself.  I'll just get into range and hope I hit most of the time."  Later, you realize how critical these calculations can be.  The difference between an advanced PvPer in this game and a master PvPer is a fundamental, ingrained understanding of tracking, sig, and transversal (I'm not there yet).

So to hear a CCP dev talking about looking at and tweaking some of these calculations is interesting to say the least.  God knows that there are problems -- giant ones -- with the current math.  I won't scary math(tm) you in this post, but I'll give you one example and take my word for it: if you take tracking out of the equation, any firing platform at 0 speed will hit any defending platform that's in range 100% of the time.  Put another way, a stationary dreadnought has a 100% chance of hitting a pod either at 0 speed, or moving directly toward or directly away from the dreadnought, as long as the pod is in range.  Further, the math states that this dreadnought will do at least 50% of its base damage to that pod before sig radius is taken into effect.  That's 100% chance to hit, for at least 50% damage.  So yeah, there are definitely problems with the calculations.

As I said, hearing that CCP is considering looking at changing those calculations -- changing the bedrock principles upon which EVE rests -- is interesting to say the least!

Whew, this post went on a lot longer than I intended.  But yeah, overall, feeling very happy about this one.  CCP made the right move.

EDIT (13/Mar/2012): One final thought: I wonder how many Signal Amplifiers and Auto Targeters we're going to see fitted to Titans now in an attempt to side-step the limitation on number of targets?  A lot, I'm guessing.



(1) I wouldn't have bothered if this was a devblog, but for some reason, it isn't.  Kinda odd.

41 comments:

  1. Consider reading the Dust blog http://blog.us.playstation.com/2012/03/09/dust-514-new-vehicle-roles-and-characteristics/ when you are writing the ship-types blog, as I believe them to be similar.

    ReplyDelete
  2. "I won't scary math(tm) you in this post"

    Please do, I am not afraid of anything!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kirith and I did scary math(tm) regarding Titan tracking. The trends shown on my post are for Titans vs a few other ships, but you'll see the general family of curves is the same.

      http://rollinseveride.blogspot.com/2012/03/thorough-titan-tracking-analysis.html

      Delete
  3. "...we have to balance for expected behavior after the change, and for worst-case scenarios."

    Since when has this been a CCP motto?

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  4. So this is a major buff to the CFC blob, which now has no counter...
    There needed to be a change, maybe a compound change, to atleast take us to a time before the blob, where strategy mastered.
    PS you just took aways raidens only hope of even surviving. If I had a super atm, I would just move into a wh, ccp has kinda raped nulsec

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    Replies
    1. More ships like SBs? They did say they are going to tweak T1 frigs and cruisers. Maybe this could slip in somehow.

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    2. Can't move supers into Wh's meight.

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    3. lol Raiden complaining about blobbing.

      The only difference between Team Tech blobs and CFC blobs is that the CFC's are slightly larger.

      Delete
    4. You are seriously retarded. There have been a fuckton of fights where Team tech subcaps won vs. CFC subcaps.

      Problem is, when you start losing fight (or it's very important strategic timer), you login all your titans and CFC has 0% chance of winning.

      Man up and wipe your tears.

      Delete
    5. Can't even build Supers in WHs ... can't anchor the construction hanger there.

      Delete
  5. I don't think there is a middle ground for supercaps.

    If the nerf is not enough, they will still be used and hardly killed. If the nerf is enough or too much, then nobody will field them and, again, they won't be killed.

    No solution of this kind will solve the proliferation, at most it will solve the improper use.

    "Put another way, a stationary dreadnought has a 100% chance of hitting a pod either at 0 speed, or moving directly toward or directly away from the dreadnought, as long as the pod is in range."

    I do agree this is a problem.

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    1. I'm confused. Why do we think that one stationary object should miss another in a fiction-less vacuum of space? If the guns don't need to track why should they miss? Saying them don't need to track is the same as saying they are already pointed at the target. You want an eve where you point a gun at a wall and shoot yourself in the foot? Someone explain the physics here?

      Delete
    2. That may be true with lasers, but guns have recoil, So they loose some aim after every shot.

      Moreover, every time a device measures something or makes a mechanical movement there is an inherent imprecision to that so you cannot have 100% precision in practice.

      You could probably improve the precision of a device by sacrificing some of its robustness, but XL weapon-mounts need to be very robust.

      Delete
  6. The counter to the CFC blob is a good bomber fleet. It doesn't take long at all to train for a bomber, so that particular counter is also much more "democratic," since it is available to even small alliances.

    Don't entirely understand why the current tracking formula is bad. Certainly, removing tracking from the equation leads to rather gamebreaking results, but that's not an argument for why the equation is bad.

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    Replies
    1. It's bad because if I put enough Titans on the field and you're trying to avoid them in your dictor, you're going to be at zero or near-zero transversal to one or two or three of them, no matter how well you fly.

      If you don't believe me, throw ten pennies on a table randomly, then put a dime in the center of the formation. Try to move the dime away from all the pennies without moving directly away from or toward any one of them.

      Halfing Titan tracking only somewhat addresses this problem.

      Delete
    2. The counter to the BLOB is never a fleet that cant hold the field mate. Its sov warfare we are talking about here.

      Delete
    3. At some point though, the penny example breaks down because it becomes an issue of formation and maneuver instead of tracking. Interceptors are supposed to go very fast and get up inside the guns of larger ships. This is what they are good at and they do their job well. The penny example shows that if you have enough BS spread out over an area, an interceptor will still get blapped by BS guns. I am not sure the pennies are an argument for nerfing L sized guns so that interceptors can more consistently evade their fire.

      I think the problem is not with Titan firepower but with Titan mobility. Large empires are not really large. When you are committing forces to one area you are only marginally taking them away from another. Titans are like a mobile Maginot Line. You cannot go around them, so you are stuck having to constantly slog it out with ridiculously fortified positions.

      Here is an idea, make it so that supercaps can only use their jump drives much less frequently. This is a wild idea sure to piss everyone off, but does it really make sense to have drive-by doomsdays? The problem is not that Titans are powerful, but that they can consistently be brought to bear in almost any large engagement. Smaller forces are actually less nimble and maneuverable than the largest and slowest ships in the game.

      Delete
    4. "The counter to the BLOB is never a fleet that cant hold the field"

      It also works the other way around. Mind to enlighten us what is a counter to the supercap blob that can hold the field?

      And if such a counter really exists, why nobody was able to employ it yet?

      Delete
  7. This is terrible. I'm a 36M SP pilot, and I think this is a shit idea.

    I've got no issues with Titan Tracking. CFC brings 800 pilots in Draekes. Raiden brings 150 in Titans, support Moms, and various subcapital support ships. Raiden deserves to win for bringing the big balls and the expensive fleet to the table.

    CFC has the Supers and Titans to counter Raiden. They choose not to. That is there own problem.

    This Titan nerf reeks of the Mittani...

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    Replies
    1. And I suppose that CFC deserves to win for supplying and organising more active pilots to the game....

      Belief in "deserving" is a sense of entitlement and in an MMO this can only be a false sense.

      Delete
    2. Either this was copy-pasted from the threadnought in here, or the other way around. Can't be bothered to check, but try to write an original paragraph next time.

      Delete
  8. I understand the game idea that being able to hit a head on target could be bad for gameplay reasons. But in reality, why is it unrealistic for a target that is on a straight line, with no deviation, to be hit 100% of the time, as long as the target is in range of the weapon?

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    Replies
    1. Imagine trying to shoot a bumble bee that is flying directly at you with a 45 caliber. How many times would you expect to hit it? Suppose you have a firing mechanism that steadies the recoil and a super computer that calculates the firing solution. Are you still going to hit that bumble bee very often?

      Delete
  9. Jester: http://go-dl.eve-files.com/media/0910/eve-tracking101.swf
    This is a tracking guide I found both informative and interactive. Give it a try.

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  10. Is it possible that this fix is aimed more at balancing isk faucets? You alluded to it in the paragraph about Titan ratting. If its true that a Titan can pay for itself in a month of ratting, then Titan ratting is a far larger threat to the economy than incursions.

    Something else that CCP really has to address soon (peripherally related to Titans), is skill progression and skill ceilings. A lot of pilots are approaching that ceiling. Also, there are 100m sp characters on the market out there. What will we fly if we can all fly titans? Titans of course!

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    Replies
    1. it's important to note that there is no single thing that is a 'threat to the economy' that comes anywhere close to botting. everything ese, like incursions, titan ratting, and so forth, is a drop in the bucket compared to the deluge of botting.

      Delete
  11. Jester writes: "Further, I don't think the changes go far enough"

    Fair enough. I don't care either way, I'll never have the isk or SP to own one. But to all the whingers: instead of simply whining "nerf titan more", please propose what you believe a titan should be capable of doing.

    Don't give a lame-ass throwaway line like "oh, anti-capital ship", specify to what degree and HOW it would fulfill this. i.e Mention scenarios in which X Titans with Y support should be able to kill Z ships (X > 0, y >= 0, Z >= 0), and why this scenario is reasonable and acceptable for this type of ship. Develop your use cases first - only then is it reasonable to start talking about stats (HP, DPS, etc).

    Otherwise, if you just go widly screaming "nerf this and that" without comprehensively stating what the objective is or what the ship is supposed to be capable of doing, then you are no better than your typical MMO whinger. No better than the WoW player who wails "WTF paladins are so OP", and whom EVE players love to look down on so condescendingly.

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    1. I don't like cap ships, but I must agree with this comment wholeheartedly.

      I think this is particularly true of Supercaps. Seems like CCP threw the kitchen sink at Titans.

      I would like to see that Titans can choose a number of roles where it can master, ie, Super Weapons OR leadership platform OR combat fleet logistics.

      At the moment it's a bit of a dogs breakfast of bonuses.

      Supercaps and Titans need to be simultaneously less of a problem for the game at large and more rewarding for individuals and organisations.

      Delete
    2. Warpto0.blogspot.com/2012/02/titans-and-supercaps.html

      That has my idea and a link to another idea for ways to change SCs and Titans that are not just "nerf pls thx".

      Delete
  12. Hey Jester,

    I don't really know how to get a hold of you any other way, so sorry for an off topic comment.

    Today is the day of New Noobships, and to mark the occasion we killed a loki.

    http://rvbeve.com/blue/?a=kill_detail&kll_id=167378

    This is a totally legit fight too. Poor guy took range off of a gate and we webbed and scramed him.

    Cheers!

    -Chris

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    Replies
    1. He really does need a better way to contact and feed him leads.

      Delete
  13. Did anyone ever fought in a Titan in the current mass fights? Anyone?

    Calculate how long you need to target your doomsday device. Satisfied? Long time yes?

    Now assume its 10% Tidi.

    Yes.Half an hour targeting time for your doomsday you can fire every 10 minutes - oh wait 100 minutes. Sorry, thats laughable.

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  14. I for one welcome our new titan pilot underlings!

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  15. CCP should spend the time and resource and just deny super cap's the ability to target sub-capitals. scrap the tracking and locking nerf.

    At the moment, I do almost feel slightly sorry for titan pilots that are now effectively having their fits forcefully chosen for them, which kinda goes against the general principles of eve of multiple fit types. I do feel slightly sorry for shield tanking titans as this is going to further limit their use, as they are now expected to field 3 officer sebo's

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  16. About the math, few days earlier my corp did some custom office pawning. My choice of ship was a gank fit tornado, and here comes the interesting stuff:in every 4th or 5th shoot some of my 800mm ac MISSED the friccking custom. I was at 5km completly standing still. How do you explain this?
    Before anyone starts to bitch the case was the same when i was at 0 km. Something is realy wrong with the math

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  17. Sorry Jester I have to disagree with your approval of the Titan nerf. I can understand and appreciate why you think it's a good idea, however I just think that the way it is being approached is wrong, and it just hasn't been thought through by CCP beyond Mittens representations.

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  18. I'm not a master PVPer, and even I can see that this won't have the desired effect. Sorry Jester. This should be more of a worrisome action than a welcome one – CCP cant' figure out what to do so they just sort of guess, and do a couple things, and throw the "we'll iterate" BS on the devblog.

    If they can't be bothered to fix Titans correctly, leave them alone until they can, or take them out of the game completely.

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  19. Nerf is to hard, nerf is too weak, in my opinion it doesn't hit the right spot. Titans are the largest ships ever build and should resemble state of the art technology. Nerfing there sensors and only the capability of having 3 targets is not really state of the art.

    If ccp finally gets to the legacy code for there chance to hit formula they hopefully manage to bring real size into it. Even if your tracking is ridiculous good, your gun always should have some inaccuracy. The larger your gun, the larger gets that penalty. Your gun could hit up to 40km, thats fine but no matter how accurate your tracking is it will still hit only somewhere on lets say a 10 m² spot. If your target don't delivers the "real size" of 10 m² your chance to hit it reduce.

    It is absolutely legit that a titan is able to hit battleships and rip them off the field with little effort. There real size is big enough to be hit by the largest guns. BC will be hard and Cruisers will drop down very low. You may still hit them on occasion and if you do they will most likely die (getting hit by a slug that rips a hole in a hull 10% of your overall hull area will do serious damage to anything in your ship, you should be lucky that you don't get instant poded by a small chance).

    Titans should be powerful platforms but they should also supply your troops at the front line. I would like to the titans having the ability to install medical clones and allow reshipping of lets say 100 BS pilots. That would give them a huge logistic advantage so you can reship much faster and sustain a fight much longer without covering much jumps. The mobility of titans still should be reduced somehow to reduce the power projection they deliver.

    ReplyDelete