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...

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Sow the wind

In looking at the cruiser re-balancing, I'm going to start with a bunch of seemingly unrelated statements, then tie them all together.  Stay with me.  This is one of those posts.

If there's one thing that EVE players of all stripes are obsessed with, it's DPS.  That's the first (and sometimes, the only) thing we want to know about our ships: how much DPS does it do?  When we build a new ship, first we maximize its DPS.  Then we look for ways to improve the range and time in which it projects DPS, or the likelihood it will apply DPS through tracking.  Then we add a bunch of drones to improve it still farther.  And usually only after all of this is done do we start to think about how we're going to tank the ship.

It's the pretty rare EVE ship where we start with a tank and then add the other stuff onto that.  Drakes.  Dominixes.  Fleet Command ships.  Capital ships.  The occasional bait ship.  But that's about it.  With the majority of players and ships, DPS far outweighs tank.  A lot of ship classes in EVE aren't flown at all either because they can't generate DPS or they can't sufficiently project it.  That's number one.

Second, I'll remind you of something that I said about the Ares FOTW last week: "Quite often, a beginner will be killed in a T1 frigate in a single volley without even realizing they've made a mistake or what that mistake was.  That makes learning from one's mistakes a lot tougher.  Sure, you can lose a dozen Rifters, Incursi, or Merlins casually, but if you don't learn why you lost them, you're not going to get better at the game."  Keep that in mind.  It's about to become important.

Number three: one of the nicest EVE players I ever played the game with was a guy in his mid-60s in LAWN.  He was retired... a relaxed, friendly guy who was apparently way ahead of his generation in terms of computer savvy.  Still, he admitted freely that his reflexes weren't what they used to be and he appreciated the fact that EVE was a game where one's reflexes were secondary to ones skills, tactics, and instincts.

Finally, compare and contrast that to some of the more recent EVE trailers, starting with the Dominion trailer through the Crucible and "I Was There" trailers.  Whenever CCP shows EVE from an individual pilot's perspective, there's generally some attempt to show the game as fast-paced when those of us who play it know that it's usually anything but.

Reading through the threads on the new "attack" cruisers and "EW" cruisers (and even the "existing destroyer re-balance" thread), the thing that has been striking me is how CCP is falling into line with how players look at their ships.  Virtually every weapon is seeing its grid requirements reduced and ships across the board are either getting additional grid, additional low-slots and CPU (which will invariably go to damage mods), or both.  Across a wide number of ships, utility bonuses are being dropped in favor of damage bonuses or damage projection bonuses.

Granted, we haven't seen the "combat" cruisers yet but the "combat" frigates provide some clues as to CCP's thinking.  And it's pretty consistent with what's above.  Way back in March when this journey started, we were told there would be "combat", "attack", and "bombardment" ships.  Later, "bombardment" went away but it seems to be making a come-back in a big way.  By the time CCP is done with it the Tristan, previously the premiere get-in-close-and-slug-it-out ship, is going to have exactly two turrets and a bigger drone bay than most cruisers.  "Stand off" and "skirmish" are replacing tank.  "You will also see that the direction we're going with these frigs means that our plans have changed somewhat since the dev blog a few months ago," CCP Fozzie says, rather blandly.

Yeah.  Got that, thanks.

"Shield-tanking Gallente ship" was a joke at Alliance Tournament IX.  But I strongly suspect the Thorax is going to be the most commonly shield-tanked ship in EVE by the time 2013 starts.  Those Thorax low-slots, meanwhile, are going to be damage and projection, projection and damage, DPS DPS DPS.  Armor tanking is for... well... someone.  Somewhere.  Go away and stop bothering me.  I'm trying to fit my ship here.

Net result of all of this?  With all of this new DPS, I think we're going to see this round of ship re-balancing start to deliver on that implied promise of EVE being a bit more action-packed and -- dare I say it -- twitchy.  "Good!" I can hear a lot of you saying out there and yeah, I don't suppose I disagree too much.  But one of the things that EVE's always had going for it is the tactical nature of play.  If you are primaried by an opposing fleet, you usually have some time to decide on the best course of action.  The amount of time you're going to have for that is going to be reduced now: the ships firing at you will be able to fit bigger guns, with more damage mods, firing at longer range and with better tracking.

The industrialists will be happy.  More stuff to build and replace.

But as EVE players realize this, will we see even more risk aversion?  Will we see even more unwillingness to get into a fight because once you start to lose, you'll tend to keep losing, and keep losing even faster than before?  That's going to be a big question in 2013, I'm thinking.  We'll have to see what sort of whirlwind CCP reaps from sowing the wind.

Next up, Canes and Drakes.

34 comments:

  1. I don't know if I disagree or agree with what you're saying.
    But I believe we will see a surfeit of previously unflown ships in fleets or solo as people attempt to find that optimal configuration of hull and modules.

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    1. At first I wasn't too impressed by the planned change to Heavy Missiles, but then the result of this would be (fingers crossed) a bit more variety in what is flown around New Eden. At least until players figure out what's the new top fit =)

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  2. You know it's interesting how everyone in eve is seemingly hanging off Fozzie's every word right now and yet there was practically no discussion of frigate/cruiser rebalancing at the CSM summit. Are CSM's priorities right?

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    1. You seem to be under the impression that the CSM calls the shots. You are mistaken. The CSM provides feedback and input, ostensibly from the playerbase, to CCP when CCP asks for it. The CSM does not necessarily do what you think if does.

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    2. Hello there! Just wanted you to know I posted a reply to this question over on my blog here...

      http://hansshotfirst.blogspot.com/2012/09/call-me-maybe.html

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  3. In my experience, eve ship pvp has always been subtly "twitchy". Be it managing the approach on a brawl blaster boat vs a scram range kiter or what have you. But as the gentleman you cited, there's a tactical thought process that takes place in solo/small gang work, that tables can easily be upset by proper application of tactics.

    On to the ship changes, I think it's foolish to think of a ship soley in raw dps numbers (whether it's spiked with inappropriate ammo like void vs a frigate, or rage torps) and I believe most competent PvPers have an understanding of the mechanics to not fall into such a thought trap. For example, I used to fly the shield rifter a lot, more dakka right? Wrong. The lack of range control limited flexibility and targets to the point where I do not fly them anymore, save the full tackle shield firetail which I'm currently engaged in a love affair with.

    All that said, I'm happy to see unused hulls get some love and see them actively tossed into battle. No more crippling weaknesses due to tiers.

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  4. I wish that CPP would start realizing that eve is the anti-programming of games.

    It is not a twitch game. Thanks. Everyone else does that.

    It is not a pay to win game. Thanks. Everyone else does that.

    It is not a here today gone tomorrow game. Thanks. Everyone else does that.

    All they have to do. All they have to do. All they have to do in CPP is simply give us more sandboxes (more real places to play) and tweak it occasionally and they have what absolutely no-one else has, a stable moneymaker that will grow over time if they bother to pay attention to it.

    How rare is that?

    P

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    1. "All they have to do in CPP is ... and they have what absolutely no-one else has, a stable moneymaker that will grow over time if they bother to pay attention to it."

      Unfortunately, CCP actually went down this road first and, for the past 4-5 years, the sub rate has been virtually flat, despite heavy investment into substantial spaceship-based expansions, prior to Incarna.

      New subs have dropped off, and only the fact that older players have been subbing multiple accounts (Power of Two, et al) has kept the overall sub numbers from showing the large drop in new player interest.

      Eve is now a very badly dated game, in terms of PVP, developed in the days when online FPS games were an impossibility. Online players today are looking for "twitch" games, and not a "Press F1, then sit back and watch" game. DUST is the future; Eve is the past.

      But, I don't know why anyone feels badly about this fact. Eve has had a good run, and all such games eventually fade away, to be replaced by something newer, better, faster. Even WoW is showing similar signs of fatigue.

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    2. "badly dated"?

      uh huh. please tell me an alternative sci-fi space sim mmog that let's me mine asteroids and i'm there.
      http://tagn.wordpress.com/2008/01/17/is-there-hope-for-a-science-fiction-mmorpg/
      "Given this view, we’re utterly naive to hope for a good science fiction MMORPG to show up, and if it did show up, we might not even be equipped to recognize it. Brilliance and insight have been thwarted in the past by an uncomprehending public." ~The Ancient Gaming N00b

      the closest thing i've heard about is http://www.vendetta-online.com/

      I'm still unclear as the your concept of "dated"...you mean you want space to look like Skyrim?

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    3. Not true. Eve was expanding it's playership, the numbers were going up until the space pants free to play expansion was shoved down the players throats. It won so many awards in 2010 before that and had great buzz and traction.

      This post sounds like the same herd marketing mentality that put blinders on and pronounced "PC Gaming is Dead" a few years back and now it's growing and consoles are not. Point is when all of marketing is screaming one thing it's time to do the other, right now they are screaming free to play and twitch games is the only way. At the very least attempt a hybrid if one has to for eve rather than full free to play.

      Twitch FPS are the tired and terribly competitive genre not eve. With a population growing older don't you think having one non twitch game strategic game might be smart?

      We feel badly because there is no other game like this game and it it's only risk is marketing herd menality.

      As far as no noobs in the game, hmmm in spite of CPP's best efforts to neglect this game we still have blobs of newbs that evryone complains about in goons and test. Go figure.

      Please leave the tired old "can't think beyond the herd to save your life" marketing approach and think. This game is a wonderful cult game with no competition. How stupid is it to neglect it and chase competitive markets that have peaked, like fps twitch games?

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    4. Descent(1995),Quake(1996), Half Life(1998) and all it's associated mods...Ringing any bells here?

      EVE released in 2003. Seeing any issues with your timeline yet?

      Online FPS has probably been around longer than you.

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    5. "pc gaming is dead" ~anon
      oh god, lol. i do so remember that thinking, wtf?

      long ago it's been documented that veterans only have a limited shelf life before they fade away. the key to retention is to frustrate them. That's the research. mmog developers are taught to breed bittervets because those are the type that aren't retention risks.

      there's always n00bs. please explain to me how there's no n00bs and i'll show you the career agent systems with n00bs floundering ad infinitum.

      So, yeah, i'm completely happy with the state of things because we're not bleeding numbers. how the heck can we become like wow anyways? like that "ancient gaming n00b" article i posted about how he shows fantasy to be more popular than sci-fi, it's probably impossible to raise our server population any higher without some externality like DUST.

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  5. "I think we're going to see this round of ship re-balancing start to deliver on that implied promise of EVE being a bit more action-packed and -- dare I say it -- twitchy."

    Surely you don't mean _twitchy_ as in, like an FPS gamer? <-- yes, I'm calling you Shirley. Deal.

    And IF we're going to go that route....why not just make it a 1st person game and put you in a "cockpit's"-eye view? I used to be pretty fucking bad-ass at Wing Commander (kill ALL the Kilrathi ... then ALL the Nephilim too!), so that'd be a big buff to my KB stats! ;-)

    Also, on a semi-related note: I thought everything in game was supposed to have a counter, that wasn't technically specifically an "opposing module" (a la ECCM opposes ECM)...? So someone mounts a tracking disruptor and fucks up gun DPS? Great, get missiles and drones and fuck his world up. That was supposed to be the "counter" to a TD, right, besides the obvious "TE/TC" counter? :-/

    Also +1 to paper-thin ships with massive DPS, cause that's how every sci-fi :spaceships: show except Star Trek plays it: get hit dead-on, POOF.

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    1. Ha nice reference there with FPS thing and "Shirley" but you'd think missile disruption would make more sense right? Since missiles tend to run on internal guidance? All you do is lock the target and boom goes the dynamite!

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    2. Even the Star Trek universe has plenty of critical hit POOF, so long as it was not a leading characters ship.
      the difference here is that in your ship you are the leading character. I firmly believe CCP has missed a trick by making hulls a skin to be easily discarded.

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    3. I mean twitchy as in FPS territory, yes. Make one mistake, even if you don't realize it, poof you're dead.

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  6. Talking about twitchiness, and FPS, and not mentioning Dust 514? One could make an argument that Dust is an FPS with Eve bits, so making Eve more twitchy would make sense if CCP hopes to get players crossing from one to the other.

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    1. DUST is the future of Eve.

      You can soon say farewell to the obsolete Eve PVP UI, in favor of one that is more interactive, and more FPS in nature. Players will actually need to fly their ships, rather than just click Orbit, followed by F1, followed by a trip to the WC.

      I'm looking forward to the massive whining from the old fart Eve players, who don't have the reflexes, manual dexterity, and hand/eye coordination of the younger players, who grew up with an FPS game in their crib instead of a baby rattle.

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  7. One of the things I loved about the original ELITE was the jarring cacophony of destruction as shields and equipment were progressively mauled to destruction. EVE ships of every class I've flown don't capture the same sense of survivability. Your modules stay in-tact right up to the boom.
    sure overheating puts a dent in your mods, but you have 'control' over that. I'd love to see all hulls survive longer and shield to armour then amour to modules, finally modules, to structure bleed out slowly in a satisfying protracted struggle to survive / main and kill. In my EVE universe, rigs would be flaky sensitive contraptions that get knocked offline if squinted at wrong.
    There must be a reason why the devs have not gone in this direction, but I sure don't know what it is.

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    1. never played elite. I did play wingcommander:privateer back in the 90's
      goddamn that was a fun game (and the same cacophony of destruction happened too)

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  8. I don't like too much dps. If it gets too much DPS there won't be the time for decision making. Comparing the gun size to the ships the ships should be able to deal with several hits.

    Longer fights would provide much more tactical options. from changes in fleet transversal to reenforcement management and hit and run tactics. Looking at something like andromeda where the ship is almost ripped apart but still holds together after several volleys, holes in it and hull breaches and still able to fight... (and able to get rescued).

    I don't like one click deaths. If i would I can play diablo or similar games to kill one enemy with one click.

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    1. Unfortunately, EVE's accuracy calculation doesn't factor in range, so many tactics such as hit and run are meaningless.

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    2. Sure it does.

      The deeper your target is into your falloff, the harder it is to land a good hit.

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    3. Unfortunately, EVE's entire hit calculation mechanism is bogus, so most tactics - other than lock, shoot, switch target - don't work.

      For example, orbiting a target should vastly improve your tracking, but it does not. In EVE, the tracking on the orbiting ship and the orbited ship is exactly the same.

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    4. i think i need a few more beers before this whole subthread makes any sense

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    5. 1) Orbiting and tracking have absolutely nothing to do with your initial statement regarding range not affecting accuracy. You may as well have stated that EVE space acts as a fluid instead of a vacuum as evidence backing your initial claim.

      2)Orbiting would only improve your ability to track a target at specific speeds and distances. Modeling for these specific instances would be largely a waste of time, as it would be almost impossible for a player to purposefully generate these conditions in gameplay given the limited tools a player has to control orbital speed and distance vs. a wide range of potential targets moving in a nearly limitless variety of directions at varying speeds.

      Furthermore requiring the server to keep track (no pun intended) of each individual turrets current facing, which would be required in order to implement said "orbital advantage", would needlessly tax the servers for very little real benefit to gameplay and realism.

      In short, This is a video game, not a reality simulator. Don't be ridiculous.

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    6. Anon1015 - Don't know much math, do you? Maybe you should have spent more time in school and less time playing games.

      Regardless of speed and distance, a ship which is orbiting a target requires no tracking on its guns. This was a standard tactic used in the days when you had fixed weapons, attached to a moving platform.

      A ship which is being orbited by the target must rotate its guns, or the entire ship, at the same rad/sec of the target's orbit. The faster the target is moving and the closer the target is to the ship, the greater the required rad/sec, ie. tracking.

      The actual math involved is rather simple - and not any more computationally intensive than missile paths.

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    7. Actually I do know quite a bit of "the maths". I have a Certificate of Applied Science, essentially the first 2 years completed of a Bachelor of Engineering degree. But please, continue with your personal attacks, they really do a lot to support your argument.

      In a perfectly circular orbit around a stationary target, yes, you are correct. A fixed gun facing the central point of the orbit would always be pointed there. You can easily demonstrate this using any form of drafting compass or similar tool. If you take any point along this circle and draw a line tangential to the curve at this point, you have a representation of the current direction of travel of the ship at this point in its orbit. Draw a line perpendicular to this tangential line and you will see it points directly at the center of the circle.

      But we don't very often have perfectly circular orbits in EVE now do we. The target is moving, maybe accelerating or decelerating, as is the attacker. You wind up with at best an elliptical orbit. If we look at an ellipse, and then do as described above with tangential lines at specific points along the orbit with perpendicular lines radiating inward, we see that these perpendicular lines representing the firing path of fixed turrets do NOT always point toward the target. Now we need to represent tracking. Now we need to know the weapons current facing, and how far it needs to turn in order to fire upon its target. Now consider that for parts of each orbit some component of the targets velocity will be traveling counter to the attackers velocity, further increasing the need for the turrets to be able to change facing rapidly.

      The flash at http://www.mathopenref.com/ellipsetangent.html demonstrates this effect perfectly. Be sure to click the "show perpendicular" check box. The more elongated the ellipse, the more off target your guns will be facing. You can make the ellipse a circle by dragging one of the dots within the ellipse atop the other. You can elongate the ellipse by dragging them farther apart.

      Now consider that we are actually orbiting in 3 dimensional space, with any number of other factors (webs, prop mods, obstacles, sudden course or speed changes by the target) and our orbit becomes a lot more complex. There might now be many more points along your orbit where your guns are not aligned (or conversely ARE aligned). Making your desired change to tracking is a lot more complex than adding a simple "if, then" statement where if the attacker has clicked the orbit button all attacks hit.

      Your reference to fixed weapon platforms I can only assume is a reference to naval ships firing black powder cannons. I think you'll find if you think about it this example isn't a very good one. For one thing, a ships cannons weren't fired cyclically as an EVE ships weapons are. They were instead fired at points on the ships path where it was determined the most cannons possible (or at least an adequate number) were aligned with their target.

      As for your final point, turret computations are currently quite a lot easier on the servers than missiles. Missiles make the server want to DIAF. Increasing turrets to the same level as missiles would not be good.

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  9. "will we see more risk aversion?"

    uhm...maybe it's just me, but i believe 95% of eve players enjoy the element of risk in a game you can't reload a save point (like say wow, right? never played it)

    it's the 5% ferociously loud minority who also tend to loath any kind of risk to themselves but have no empathy for the risk they're asking everyone else to be burdened with for their greedy little selves. I'm talking about the griefers and carebears in mmogs.

    so, yeah, i'm sure things will continue to be the same as they were before.
    plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose

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    1. It's tricky to get an equal size fleet to engage you these days. Most people won't engage unless they outnumber you, usually massively.

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    2. If things are more twitchy, wouldn't smaller gangs have a better chance against sluggish unruly blobs?

      anyways, wasn't the game mechanics nerfed years ago to make fights last longer? remember that uproar? i don't think blobs were a new discover right after that, i'm sure of that one.

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    3. WoW, despite it's other flaws, does not have reloadable save points, or save points of any kind.

      Yes, if you die, you are resurrected at a specific location (just as in EVE), generally one conveniently close to your place of death, but your death is not without consequences (money loss via equipment damage, temporary stat decrease or an often lengthy walk to retrieve your corpse to avoid it) just because it is not permanent. You do not get to just reload at a save point and pretend you didn't die like a single player RPG.

      Are the penalties for death potentially more serious in EVE than in WoW? Yes. That doesn't make them non-existant and it doesn't make death itself any less frustrating.

      Maybe before you use a game as an example of some sort of reviled game mechanic, you should have some knowledge of the game actually using the mechanic in question?

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  10. If the changes will indeed have a significant impact on the average dps output of ships across the board, I disagree that it will cause a whole new revolution of fleet doctrines to arise. If we look at pve'rs then I'd imagine more dps is unequivocally BETTER because it translates directly into faster completion rates and more isk. As well more slots would help newer pve'rs do bigger sites by allowing them to put a tad more tank which is the biggest barrier for newer players who are unable of buying a kiting tengu or a marauder but rely on basic cruiser and bcs.

    From a pvp standpoint, even if average dps output increases by as much as 30 %, I doubt it will have a big effect on the twitchiness of the combat. For example we all often repeat to new players that there's no point in cap stability in pvp. That's because the combat is usually over in under a minute right? Well if dps is increases by a third and presumably the fight time is reduced by a third were looking at 40 seconds instead of a minute, we lose 20 second in the middle because the dps will not change the engaging process, or the escape/ pod escape process, but will cut down that time in the middle where ur grinding ur target and are ready to either target his pod, or getting ready to get ur own to safety.

    As for the overall changes it will cause I the way we fly, I think it will translate into an even larger use of buffer tanks instead of active tanks, if any tank is used, so that ships can brawl for a longer period of time, I also think this increase of dps will make logis work more difficult as people will be forced to put buffer where there were resist mods before.

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