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...

Thursday, September 13, 2012

REMF

There's been a ton of chit-chat on the various blogs lately about link alts, off-grid boosting, and boosting in general.  Virtually every major EVE blogger has covered the topic from Kirith Kodachi to Poetic Stanziel to freakin' TeaDaze, for Heaven's sake.  You'd be hard-pressed to find a blogger that hasn't covered it.

Well, except me.  I haven't covered it yet.

Here's another example where I demonstrate my unflinching ability to believe two incompatible things at once.

But let's start with the clear-cut case: off-grid boosting.  Off-grid boosting -- in general -- is a cancer on EVE that should be destroyed.  There's only one tiny little insignificant baby detail: it wouldn't make a damned bit of difference if it were.  And that's due to the highly variable definition of the word "grid".  Grid manipulation, the so-called "grid fu", has been a part of EVE for years.  There's even a dedicated manual defining how to do it.  In point of fact, I seriously doubt CCP's ability -- were they to abolish off-grid boosting -- to get on-grid boosting to work properly in every case.  It certainly doesn't work every single time today!

The simple fact is that EVE's grids are too easily manipulated and it's too easy for them to simply break for no discernible reason.  We've all encountered seriously broken grids in our travels.  Off-grid boosting might very well be the only practical solution to a problem that we all know is there, but just try not to acknowledge or talk about.

I am completely in favor of eliminating the practice of boosting from within a POS shield.  I suspect this practice is a one reason why CCP is trying to back away from POSes having shields.  That said, there should be a home field advantage conferred to pilots in a system with friendly Leadership pilots available.  I'd solve the problem by creating a new set of POS modules that would confer lesser versions of the current link bonuses as long as the Leadership pilot was using Starbase Defense Management skill to operate those modules.  People who live in a system and are willing to defend that system should get a tangible reward for doing so.

And sure, if off-grid boosting could be abolished and on-grid boosting made near-100% reliable, I'd also be completely in favor of that.

But you people whining that you think it's going to make a difference should reconsider, because it won't.  The only thing that's going to happen is that the off-grid booster will appear on your overview and keep his or her travels to the extreme end of the "grid", even assuming that the "grid" isn't a heavily-manipulated mess set up beforehand to keep the "on-grid" booster safe from you.  Gate camps and the like, in particular, aren't going to change at all.  There will be a booster, and he'll be too far away for you to do anything about.  Just be prepared to see a Loki or Tengu or Legion 200km (or 300km, or 500km) away doing its thing.

And because that's true, the crusade against off-grid boosting usually morphs into a crusade indicating that all boosting is over-powered.

And it's here that I have to part ways with the crusade... mostly.  It's kind of entertaining for me because most of the people who claim boosting is over-powered can't do it themselves.  As a result, they have no concept of the sacrifices that have to be made for boosting to work.  Let's start with the basic one: a good boost pilot has to devote several million SP to the requisite skills.  These are skills that have virtually nothing in common, attribute-wise, with any other skills in the game.

I understand the sacrifices because I do have boost pilots, two of them.  One of them is Ripard himself.(1)  Ripard has something like 12 million SP devoted to Leadership skills, and another several million devoted to the associated ship and racial subsystem skills to put them into play.  Most of those skills rely on the Charisma stat, which almost everyone reading this right now has set to its minimum value.  Training these skills took a year.  I wish I could say I was exaggerating, but I can't.  Because I'm not.  I spent a year of my life training these skills.

I invite you to contemplate that for a while because that year's worth of training is why there aren't more boost pilots in New Eden.  A lot of people see that implacable granite wall of time in front of them, shudder, back away...

...and then they immediately start to claim that those skills are over-powered.

Even beyond that, though, link ships are extremely expensive and all but completely useless for anything else.  I spend a lot of time flying Claymores and Damnations and Sleipnirs and link Lokis and link Tengus and lots and lots of battle cruisers with a single link installed.  You can take it from me: once you fit a link or two to most of them, those ships are no longer (with the exception of the Sleipnir) viable combat ships or (with the exception of the Damnation) viable tanky ships.  They're all but useless for DPS and the number of kill-mails you'll get in a link ship is half that you'll get in anything else... assuming you get any at all.

If your FC identifies a link ship in the fleet you're fighting, except for a few special cases, he'll almost immediately relegate it to the very bottom of the threat list. 

If the ships are over-powered, then why aren't they destroyed immediately when they are identified?  Where does all this hate come from?  That's easy.  A single link is responsible: the Skirmish Warfare Link - Interdiction Maneuvers link in both T1 and T2 varieties.  It kind of makes me smile.  Even in EVE, people are inherently biased against tactics that they regard as "unfair".  Getting blobbed is unfair.  Getting tricked into attacking bait is unfair.  Getting hot-dropped is unfair.

And getting pointed and webbed by a non-bonused ship from 40 or 50 kilometers away is unfair.

EVE players hate to lose ships and the entire reason for the existence of the Interdiction Maneuvers link is to make it more likely that EVE players will lose ships.  The hate is therefore totally understandable.  Here's the part where I simultaneously believe two incompatible things at once: I don't think boosting is over-powered.  But I do think that particular link is over-powered.  A Loki with an T2 Interdiction link makes it possible for the crudest battle cruiser pilot to keep a target pointed at more than 36km even before over-heating.  The ship and link confer more than a 50% bonus to point range.  It's more than double the bonus that's applied to the same battle cruiser from fitting a 120 million ISK Republic Fleet Warp Disruptor.

Very few people care if a ship's sensors are stronger, or that they get a few more percentage points to shield or armor resistance, or that their signature radius is much smaller.  But I myself nailed a Hawk with a Drake the other day that should in any kind of fair universe have been able to get away from me.  He should have been able to burn out of my point range.  He couldn't because I could keep him pointed at 42 kilometers which gave myself and a bunch of other crude BCs enough time to burn him down.

So yeah, that's a bit over-powered.  So dial that back somewhat, and eliminate POS boosting and I think much of the rage around this topic would die down.  If off-grid boosting is somehow removed, the rest of you should still get busy training scanning skills.  You're still going to need them when the booster is "on grid" with you, motoring away at its top speed hundreds of kilometers away.

But if CCP gets out their typical nerf sledgehammer for this, then I want a year of my life back.  ;-)


(1) The other is strictly a high-sec pilot that I used to use to boost mission- and incursion-runners.  But I don't usually hear too much rage about this use of boosts.

27 comments:

  1. Nailed it. The most desired boost in incursion fleets that I fly is T2 interdiction maneuvers with Skirmish Mindlink. Everything else is about survivability.

    Of course I expect that many of those people complaining about being permajammed in PvP are probably in the set of people who consider Information Warfare links to be useless. My fleets run Sensor Integrity links to reduce the frustration of jamming (more to do with Nightmare cap chains than anything else).

    Ships that are on-grid are visible if boosting. It doesn't matter that the solo PvPer's booster alts are 400km away, at least you know what you are up against, and that 40km point doesn't come by surprise.

    As for “home field advantage” — does the home team in any sport have a sniper in the bleachers? No? Do they have extra players on field? Nope. Are they more comfortable playing in a stadium where they practice every day? Yup. Home field advantage in EVE comes from having bookmarks, being comfortable that you are “home” and being close to supplies of ships and medical clones.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Regarding skirmish links, you're not even considering what effects they have on Recons... It's very common in fleets to have tackle with a range in excess of 60km, which is just plain ridiculous.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Its easily possible to get 60 km without boosting... Boosting puts it out to 100 with overload. Luv dat Recon 5 on an Arazu.

      Delete
  3. There have also been calls for an adjustment between tech3 and a fleet commands. The jack of all trades outplaying the master is a common theme. Would you still want that year back (half a year in my own experience) is there was a re-address of the 5% strat cruiser vs the CS 3%?

    Oh, while we're here - looking forward to a Eos FotW.

    MT

    ReplyDelete
  4. Having boosting limited to grid, even with manipulated larger grids as you describe would be an overall benefit, would it not?

    Not only would it make the linking ships less "risk-free" because they must be in plain sight to operate, it would also increase the demand of capable probers and/or sniper fits able to neutralize the linking ships at extreme ranges.


    A simple alternative would be instead to project the boost out from the boosting ship like a hictor bubble (visible or invisible). Friendly ships within the radius receive bonuses, those outside do not. This might also encourage flying in formations more than is seen presently.

    Another avenue would be a boost jamming ship or module. Enemy ships on grid with or within range of such a ship/active module would be denied off-grid/on-grid boost bonuses.

    Skills, modules and/or scripts could be added that could boost these two effects, perhaps in the case of links w/scripts at the cost of effectiveness for increased range or vice-versa.

    A 3rd alternative could be a targeted long-range e-war module that has a % chance to block all leadership based bonuses projected or gained by the affected ship. Call it a comms scrambler. If the boosting ship is on grid, it can be neutralized. If it is not on grid, the primary target can have it's bonuses neutralised instead. It could even have the additional benefit of blocking or delaying fleet broadcasts while under it's effects just to mix things up a bit.

    Clearly this is a situation that should be tackled with a scalpel and not a hammer so as not to invalidate all of those alts and the time invested in skilling them, but I don't think the issue is insurmountable as some make it out to be.

    ReplyDelete
  5. "A lot of people see that implacable granite wall of time in front of them, shudder, back away...

    ...and then they immediately start to claim that those skills are over-powered."

    ...And that's why Titans with remote AOE DD are fine, LTP.

    I have to say that "it takes a lot of time/isk" isn't the most convincing argument for why everything is ok. Your only other argument seems to be "You can't do that, because nothing would change"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's a false comparison.

      And I said nothing will change if off-grid boosting is removed. Removing or severely nerfing boosting in general will have a lot of impacts on the game.

      Delete
  6. Agree completely. Given the investment of SP & ISK required to build an effective boost pilot/ship, boosting is certainly not overpowered.

    Might as well argue that logi pilots/ships need to be nerfed, as well, cause they give a gang/fleet too much of an advantage over a gang/fleet which doesn't have a logi pilot/ship.

    As for the T2 interdiction link, I put it in the same category as Falcon ECM. Annoying, but can be countered.

    The POS shield, however, is an archaic game feature. If you can't shoot, jam, or do anything else to a ship which is inside of a POS shield, then those ships should similarly be unable to do squat from inside of the shield.

    Rather than bother writing code to nerf POS boosting, however, I say just get rid of the POS shield, and allow ships - incl. super caps - to dock in a null sec POS, just like NPC stations. Also, get rid of the POS reinforced mode (another archaic feature, from the days when alliances were overly specific to certain time zones), allow them to fit XXL shield boosters & armor reppers - just like the current hardeners - and allow them to be remote repped.

    BTW - I noticed that you avoided the Rorqual issue, which several folks have been using as an excuse to defend POS boosting. IMO, that ship has always been a badly designed pinata from the start and needs a complete overhaul.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you removed POS reinforcement it would allow people to drop ~20 dreads on a tower and kill it before anyone has time to react. That's sort of lame.

      Delete
  7. Spend a year training skills that notify people they should avoid fighting you. Sounds like a good plan.

    ReplyDelete
  8. The bonuses inferred by some of the others aren't as blatantly obvious as skirmish links, but they should not be underestimated.

    The resist bonuses, in particular are strong enough to make or break an engagement. They are often the difference between pilots catching reps from logis or surviving well placed bombing runs. Skirmish links have their place in, well, skirmishes. They are named properly. But other links are much stronger over extended, large engagements.

    Anyone who has trained, and takes the time to set up a boosting ship deserves such advantages. The issue has never been ships being on grid. The issue is in POSes and in warp. Bonus links should have the properties of propulsion mods regarding warp and weapons regarding POSes. Giving them both would allow pressure on boosting ships. The counter to a skilled boosting pilot would be a skilled prober -not so difficult to implement.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Forgot about warps. Yeah, I agree, that is also ridiculous.

      Delete
    2. You can't boost during warp.

      Delete
  9. CCP better not touch OGB's until they fix the goddamned Wing Commanders so they finally get the correct boosts... c'on now Wing commander has been bugged for how many years now? WTF is it about the wing position thatis such a bitch for CCP's DEVs to address?
    Maybe it has never been touched because CCP DEVs never occupy the WC position & don't know how to command a fleet so think its umimportant?
    If they can't get this one little thing corrrect I doubt they'll get the off & on grid boosts nerfed w/o serious bugs TBH
    ~DN

    ReplyDelete
  10. A simple maximum range (100-ish km?) on boosting would solve most of the problem.

    Also, being on-grid, even at long range would still allow warp-to, would it not?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. simple maximum range? although the idea is simple, the implementation of it would be anything but, even if the code was optimised to allow for such an operation, chances are it is not, so you would have to re-write entire sections of code, not to mention the lag you would add if every server tick the server has to determine is the module on, if yes, the distance of every ship on the grid from one another, whether or not the wing/squad commanders are within that distance to pass boosts on, a recheck of everyone's skills, which would have to be done to do that.

      As great as the idea is it won't be simple I'm afraid.

      Delete
    2. @Anon2:45AM

      The server already does most of these checks (I assume) for things like hictor bubbles.

      Number and repetition of checks could be reduced if instead of checking every tick, boosts were checked for each module cycle and received or not for the full duration of that cycle depending on the result of this check.

      The server is already calculating the distance of every ship on grid from one another, so that is nothing new there.

      @Benjamin

      You can only "warp to" on ships in your fleet (or other objects on grid like cans, wrecks, LCOs, asteroids etc.)not just to any ship you can see on grid.

      Delete
  11. "But if CCP gets out their typical nerf sledgehammer for this, then I want a year of my life back. ;-)"

    I know you were being ironic, but I see this comment crop up from time to time and it bothers me a bit.
    Change is constant, its one of the things that keeps life interesting, and as such, Eve also changes. When you decided to create and skill up that character you took a gamble (or buying that tracking Titan, or putting those expensive Cargohold rigs on your mining barge, or stockpiling all that Tech) and during the time from which you did it to the day it got changed, you took advantage of it. Which is fine.
    But then it gets changed, and everyone starts crying that they should get their things back. Sadly the world doesnt work that way. You bought a ton of stocks because they were going up, suddenly the company crashes and you are out cold. Will somebody give you your money back because the situation changed?

    Once again, Im not raging at you. I just had to get that out my system.

    ReplyDelete
  12. At first, giving +5% EHP via extra resistance isn't miniscule. For a 250 man fleet, that's 12 ship worth of EHP. Also, if the fleet is a SINGLE titan, that 5% EHP boost is in the range of millions. If the booster itself is a Leviathan or Erebus titan, it can give +20% more raw HP. An Avatar can give +37% cap recharge. Obviously 5% isn't worthy until you have 20 ships in the fleet.


    There is a safe solution for the grid mess: make boost effect work only within X range and make X in the reasonable fire distance of an enemy.

    The offgrid-boosting POS module is a great idea for home advantage.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A POS module that boosts fleets is a bad idea. There is enough home field advantage in having supplies, clones and bookmarks available for fights in that system or neighbourhood.

      Delete
    2. +1 Mara.

      An offgrid-boosting POS module is one of the more idiotic suggestions I've ever heard.

      Delete
  13. Let's face it we are discussing the problem as being the boosters so much and not the ships themselves.

    Why do people not bring boosting ships on grid, well in my experience there is two reasons.

    Reason one, My ship would explode if someone looks at it funny. This is the biggest problem. Command ships, they are low on the threat list as they can't tank, they can't hurt you, they don't provide the best boosts, etc. If they we're more durable, you may see them on grid, and yes I can see someone reaching for the I can get 200k EHP out of my Damnation card, ok, fine, how much did that cost you with your faction ENAM's and hardners, and what did you sacrifice on the ship to manage that? Was it worth it? No, considering the cost, and the size of our typical gangs (10-15), as an FC I would almost always request a command ship pilot get in another DPS ship, for no other reason then it's not worth losing a pair of boots on the ground to get the boosts (clearly not that overpowered then)

    Reason two, it's an alt, so I don't want to on-grid dual box. I get this.. At the end of the day, someone spent £150+ (12 month subscription, plus time effort, ISK etc) making a dedicated character on a second account to give themselves a strategic edge (mainly this use is aimed at PVE in my experience) but often ends up logged on for PVP as well. You know what, that isn't overpowered your feeling it's jealousy.

    I'm going to be one people dislike for saying this, I think the best way to bring boosts onto grid and into the fights, is to buff on grid boosting rather then nerf off-grid boosting. This has 2 effects, the Command ship becomes desirable because the T3 can't tank if you gimp it's fit for command work, it also would negate so called home field advantage, as you would be incentivised to bring them into the fight to get the additional benefit.

    I also think that to make that poor pilot in my small fleet the chance to fly it, but to balance as you wouldn't want that level of boost going out to huge fleets, that I would the amount of boost needs to be dependant on the number of pilots in fleet, more players, the less boosts, kinda like you have a set boost amount and it has to be divided amongst the players. This might go some way to easing blob warfare too. People will say that all that would happen is goons will have 200 fleets of 20 pilots to get the better boosts, fine.... they will need 200 boosters minimum, and probably at least twice that as you would likely run at least one tank and one skirmish then won't they, and do you realise how much of a logistical nightmare that would be, they want to do that for an extra few percent, fair play to them.

    Interdiction makeovers is perhaps the only one that you certainly wouldn't want increased any further. Do you nerf that particular one, well maybe, but certainly not much, maybe that one you make that percentage the one you get on grid, and reduce it off grid.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I'm an avid reader of Jester's trek, and your posts invariably are either educating me about things I didn't already know or are expressing an opinion I agree with. On a few occasions (this is maybe the 3rd?) I think you get it dead wrong though, and a lot of this post falls into that category imho. The number of times I said "no" (to myself, but out loud) while reading this must have been in double digits.

    Eliminating off-grid boosting will mean you are visible as a booster to everyone in the fight; unless you hide in the pack (exposing yourself to tackle & explosions) everyone will see who you are, where you are and what you are flying.

    In small gang fights you can see whether it is a 4v4 or a 4v4+1, for example.

    On-grid, uncloaked and >150k from the fight? Combat probes.

    The idea that we shouldn't fix A (off-grid boosting) because B (fleet command hierarchy management) is broken is just laughable.

    The idea that off-grid boosting is somehow justified as a bonus for system residents is also quite silly, given that it is equally effective (and only a little less convenient) to have a (nearly) unprobable off-grid booster bouncing between safepoints.

    To end on a positive though, I agree that range boosts to points & webs are probably excessive.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Why does a group need/deserve any more "home field advantage" that the advantage conferred by fighting in a system where they should be able to refit and reship easily and have tons of bookmarks that give them greater tactical maneuverability than intruders? You don't really support that argument.

    Not to mention how badly boosts break the balance between ships (if you seriously think Interdiction Maneuvers is the only problematic link, you're mental).

    (And are you really pulling the "Don't change it because it won't change anything" defense? Grid-fu is non-trivial, and is highly unlikely to be employed by a gang that is actually roaming).

    ReplyDelete
  16. Seems like a solution looking for a problem.

    I can't figure out which portion of the eve community imagines command links are somehow unfair, it doesn't negatively affect 'bears since they use them for ratting and mining, it doesn't negatively affect PvP either since everyone is using them as intended.

    If somehow you're not benefiting from them, then your corp is too small or too low skilled and you need to change up.

    I personally don't yet have the skills yet but I intend to train them so that I can boost my alts/corp/alliance mates when we go into action. If everyone is using something because it works then it's balanced!

    So many other things need much more urgent attention, like the utter uselessness of pretty much ALL T1 cruisers, POS code implementation, issues ad infinitum

    Just because some idiot picked up the nerf bat doesn't mean we need to get them to start smashing random stuff up!

    ReplyDelete
  17. This is my first post here:
    First off, I love what your saying and completely agree with you Jester. I have two other ideas though to add to yours. Why not make boosting ships have a cyno field like mechanic meaning, when they are boosting, you get an overview notification and a warp to option. With the majority of booster ships having such strong tanks/buffers, it would force them to be directly involved in the fight. A known and destroyable contingent.

    My other thought I would love to see is a sensor boosting skill meaning: it would make the fleet harder to jam. In small gang warfare, it could provide a viable option over skirmish.


    Just some thoughts.

    ReplyDelete
  18. No obe talk about solo pvp? Seemed where the rage came from.
    Also how about forcing booster to target and activate boost modules on a fleet member like the FC to make bonus actives? If ccp cant code if someone is on ir off grid they can make so boost activate only if booster is on range of is targer.

    ReplyDelete

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.