Welcome to Jester's Trek.
I'm your host, Jester. I've been an EVE Online player for about six years. One of my four mains is Ripard Teg, pictured at left. Sadly, I've succumbed to "bittervet" disease, but I'm wandering the New Eden landscape (and from time to time, the MMO landscape) in search of a cure.
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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Greyscale again

When I wrote my post the other day listing the features in Retribution 1.1 that surprised me, a number of people gave me grief for not mentioning the following two lines:
  • Active armor hardeners and shield hardeners no longer give a passive resistance bonus when not active.
  • Armor and shield compensation skills no longer give any bonus to active armor or shield hardeners.
Had I just not noticed those lines, they demanded to know?  Had I not seen the forum post from Greyscale defending these changes?

Sigh.

For the record, yes I did see this change coming, and yes I did see CCP Greyscale's post on the matter.  Here it is almost in its entirety:
This bonus came to the top of our work due to a defect, which prompted us to discuss whether we even wanted this feature in the first place. After fairly extensive discussion, we decided we would prefer to just remove it outright, for the following reasons:
  • We're not, in general and with exceptions, fans of multi-function modules. EVE fitting is about trade-offs, not about having your cake and eating it. In this particular case, it was making the decision to take an active hardener over a passive one easier than it otherwise would be, which isn't a particularly good thing.
  • The UX of this feature as implemented is pretty bad - there's two sets of resist attributes on the hardeners with very little explanation, the skill descriptions need to be unusually complicated to explain exactly what's going on, and it's not at all obvious from the modules that this feature even exists (see Liang's comment above).
He then posted essentially the same thing in the same thread the next day.

Sigh again.  Guys, I really don't want to be in the business of bashing Greyscale.  So yeah, I did notice it.  But I think I blocked it out.  ;-)  Obviously, this change has now been implemented, and there's only one further dev post in the thread, Greyscale doubling down.  That's it.  There's no other replies from Greyscale and no other replies from any other devs.  And of course, these changes are in the game now, and they're not coming out.

One of the reasons listed by Greyscale for making this change is that CCP are not "fans of multifunction modules."  This is such a silly justification that it's hard to believe it was written down.  EVE is full of multifunction modules, of course.  In the very same thread, EVE player Sinzor Aumer does a lovely job of listing most of them.  My particular favorite are Cap Batteries.  Until very recently, these were single-function modules.  Today, they're dual function: increased cap, and resistance to neuting and NOS'ing.  And that was a change that CCP implemented very recently!

As I said, there's no reply to Sinzor.

The second reason strikes me as much more telling.  Essentially, it's saying: "We were told about a possible bug in how these hardeners work and when we looked at the code we couldn't figure it out.  That prompted a philosophical discussion about whether active hardeners should have a passive mode."  And that strikes me as being much more likely to be closer to the true reason.  Call it "CCP lazy mode" if you must, but I feel like someone said "Fixing this is going to be hard... do I have to?"  But I've written enough about that sort of thing.  Let's ignore what prompted the philosophical discussion and jump instead to the philosophical discussion.

Should active hardeners have a passive mode?

The module I kept coming back to when I thought about this myself are the various forms of the Damage Control mod.  This mod is the ultimate multifunction module, having three functions (or even 12, if you prefer).  It's so useful in PvP that it's the very rare PvP ship that doesn't have one fitted.  And that's kind of where this philosophical discussion starts, isn't it?  Adaptive Invuls are so useful that it's incredibly rare to find a shield-tanking ship without one.  Whether they have a passive mode or not, you're going to keep using them.  Active shield hardening modules are so useful that I can only think of two ship fittings where I use a passive shield hardener instead and I only have one character with the passive shield hardening skills higher than Level III.

And I think if we were honest with ourselves, we'd probably come to the conclusion that this is a problem.

In addition, the situations in which players rely on the passive modes of active hardeners are so rare that honestly, it's just hard for me to get very excited about this change.  Now, it's totally fair to ask CCP if they're going to put a multifunction passive shield resistance amplifier into the game.  After all, there are both active and passive multifunction armor resistance amplifiers in the game today.  But I would want to ask a fair question back to you: if there were such a passive shield resistance module... would you use it?  After all, it wouldn't be as effective as the tried-and-true "Invul" and would take the same kind of slot.

I dunno... I've thought about it, and other than a few specialized Drake fits, I can't think of too many ships where I'd sacrifice higher resistances for more solid tanking under neut pressure.  If I'm that worried about neut pressure, I fit a Cap Booster of some type to my ship and call it good.

So all in all, if you ask me how I feel about this change... I'd say I'm extremely ambivalent about how it came to pass, not that concerned about the change on its own merits, and thoughtful about what the change means within the philosophy of the game.  So I guess this post wasn't about "Greyscale again" after all.  I'm sure he'll be relieved to hear it.

29 comments:

  1. "The Triage Module II now correctly prevents the user from docking while active."

    U FUCKING WUT m8!?!

    That is my favorite.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Greyscale's awful communication skills aside, Fozzie's comment was insightful and changed my mind about the nerf. He pointed out that the tendency of the past few ship revisions has been toward fewer utility highs, reducing the relevance of cap warfare. I think you've pointed out that DPS creep has had the same effect. All of this has amounted to a stealth buff to shield tanking. Yeah, maybe a nerf was in order.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, it's an interesting way of looking at it, for sure. That said, that does leave those few cap-warfare ships still out there as being effectively buffed. That's probably going to include the new Cyclone most of all.

      Delete
  3. Passive resists modules are good and well used in highsec as anti-gank. At first they don't need to be turned on so can be used on autopiloting haulers, for example:

    [Bustard, Autopilot]
    Expanded Cargohold II
    Expanded Cargohold II
    Expanded Cargohold II
    Expanded Cargohold II
    Expanded Cargohold II

    Large Shield Extender II
    EM Ward Amplifier II
    Large Shield Extender II

    [empty high slot]

    Medium Core Defense Field Extender I
    Medium Core Defense Field Extender I

    55K omni, while without passive resistor it would have 0% EM shield resist instead of 45.


    Passives also need no capacitor which isn't much in PvP (you mentioned cap boosters), but typically mining ships can't afford the cap of the invus while can greatly increase survival rate against gankers with an anti EM and anti thermal passives.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Another place a passive multi-resist shield module would be welcome is in capital ships. There just isn't a cap booster big enough to keep a capital ship capped-up, so if you expect neut pressure you won't want to use invulns from now on.

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  4. This is what I'm expecting of you as a CSM. When you're in Iceland or chatting on Skype with a dev and they try to feed you some line you know doesn't make any sense (such as, "we're not, in general and with exceptions, fans of multi-function modules"), that'll you'll call them on it. Why feed us obvious BS when they can just tell the truth? What's so terrible about the truth? Fixing it was hard, they didn't want to go that road. Done. They just end up digging themselves a bigger hole when they go the BS route.

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  5. Pretty much my thoughts.

    Reasonable change, BS reasoning.

    ReplyDelete
  6. "After all, there are both active and passive multifunction armor resistance amplifiers in the game today."

    What did I miss? Or do you count the dmg control as the active multifunction armor hardener?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The reactive armor hardener. Granted, it doesn't work exactly the same way the Invul does, nor should it.

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  7. Link to Fozzie's reply: https://forums.eveonline.com/default.aspx?g=posts&m=2616648#post2616648

    Also: This shield nerf affects shield capitals (if anyone would actually fly those) and pve passive fits (tengu, drake, rattlesnake in, for instance, lvl 5 missions where neuts are abundant).

    ReplyDelete
  8. The L5 mission fit Ishtar is designed for zero cap:

    High: 2 x drone link
    Meds: 3 Large II + 1 Large F-S9, 1 x Gistum C-Type Thermic Amp
    Low: 5 x Beta Shield Relay

    Prior to the AI "enhancement" I'd used in fumble around in L4 in this. Switched to this, because I was so used to a shield tanked Myrm. Also means I can fly dead drunk. Well, used to.

    Hardeners? We don't need no stinkin Hardeners.

    As for a passive shield omni resist. I already the despise a uniformity across the races which has come out of tiercide. Do we really want there to be no particular difference between armor and shields? Rock, Paper, Scissors will lose the appeal if anybody is just the rock.

    MT

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  9. Passive resist modules are common in mission running, where cap stability is important.

    The passive bonus on active modules, however, is only of value if you happen to believe that small percentages actually do frequently make the difference between winning and losing. The 1% passive bonus does add a bit more tank, when you are capped out - which can happen due to neuts, noz, or lack of cap boosters (which, ofc, never happens in real PVP, right?).

    If you don't buy into the small percentages concept, then a *lot* of EVE's game mechanics don't make sense, incl. hardwirings, specialized skill training, T2 vs meta modules, etc. You can't argue it both ways (although Greyscale usually does try to do so - two-faced bastard that he is).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. -two-faced bastard that he is-

      Once a Goon...

      Delete
    2. The passive bonus was 15% with maxed skills, not 1%. An invulnerability field II thus had half its resists when neuted. Rather useful.

      I suspect that most people that trained the skills did so for the backup resists on active modules. A month's training down the tubes.

      Delete
  10. Well maybe a passive shield amp wouldn't be so rare in frig pvp where fitting is so tight. I could see myself using them in place of an invul to save fitting requirements. But ya I'm fine with them removih the passive buffs but they should call it what it was (lazy codeing) and not make dumb blanket statements like we don't like multi function. If it is true that they really are trying to remove multi function from the game that's a scary prospect.

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  11. I don't really think this is that big a deal in the grand scheme of things, but I really wish they would do something else with the shield compensation skills. I realize not every skill is going to be equally balanced, but it just feels like the Armor comp skills should be something you always want to have when armor tanking, and the shield comp skills should be something you always want to have when shield tanking. That is more or less true for armor, but for shield, unless you have a specific reason, there isn't much cause to train them.

    It's fine that armor and shield tanking are different, but if that is the case, then these skills should either be changed or removed. Right now they feel like a trap skill for new players. Yeah, you might want EM compensation from time to time, and MAYBE some of the others (when you would ever want Explosive, I have no idea), and considering the improved and above shield tanking certificates list these skills as pre-reqs, that seems wrong. Make them affect cap use of hardners, or condense them down to 1 skill that affects all resists, but make it an x3 or 4 skill instead of x2, or do something totally different with them, it just doesn't make much sense to leave them as they are.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If they DID put in a shield version of the EANM, those shield comp skills would probably jump to the tops of a lot of people's training queues.

      Delete
    2. While that is true, I don't think it is a very good idea. Armor and shield yanking should be different, and if they are going to be different, why give them the same skills?

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  12. Both the armor comp skills and the mod descriptions were poorly done at best, they never should have made it to production in that state, but did and were not touched for years....

    I guess CCP has extra time to do some housekeeping these days.../roll eyes

    Heres an idea, leave little imprefections like these alone and focus on whats going to help this game attract new players and keep the old players comming back.

    Sounds to me like this was some stay busy work for the low-end dev team to appear productive.

    ReplyDelete
  13. The passive boost an active hardener are useful, as the module doesn't need to be activated for it to receive *some* benefit.

    This will affect hisec travel fits for haulers (to go for full passive fits as Gevlon highlighted above) and will affect some PVE fits.

    It will also increase the heartrate of those jumping t1 haulers through wormholes.

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  14. Let's see this from a programmer's perspective:

    I have a bug, I see it's cause in a feature that no one really uses. Now I can a) fix this bug or b) make a big construct around it so it never happens and/or doesn't change anything.
    CCP says a) wasn't possible fast enough or clean enough. So making a big workaround for a feature that never gets used, is overly complex and unnecessary ? This will impact the speed of the client or server for (almost) no gain at all? Why do it?

    About this overly complex thing:
    First - I (as a gamer) was really confused when I read the compensation skills. I had to reread the same sentence multiple times to grasp what it really does. And after wasting 5mins on this I thought: wayne? I'll never use an offline active hardener anyways!

    Second - the code for both the skill and the resist-calculation will be bloated because of this. Making it slower and more prone to bugs. Getting rid of it means, you can debug better and faster and you're client and/or server will be faster.
    Part of maintaining good code is getting rid of outdated and bloated features.

    All in All: It's a nerf yes, but I doubt it's severe enough that anybody will notice it in a real-life (errrm internet spaceships) scenario.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Jester, I guess this post is as good as any ask the question. Do you think the restrictions on CCP employees on what they can do in game is too restrictive? Sometimes, I feel like decisions are made because once former players become CCP Employees, they stop being allowed to do things in EvE that make them so attractive to CCP in the first place. I think CCP should lay out some ground rules but allow them to be playing the game on Teamspeak/Mumble/Vent as known CCP employees (if they want or discovered) who can't talk about work but really want to blow this other dude in spaceship up. This "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" thing does not seem to be working for some employees.

    For example, Kil2 has to stop making videos because he's becoming CCP employee. This is a loss to community and I'm not sure why this is required. Let me him continue as "known" CCP Employee and understand IA will be watching him and any transgressions will lead to termination. Letting Soundwave and such become combat line soldiers in various Null Sec alliances and even possibly become FC would be a win for CCP overall.

    CSM was in part to T20 incident to watch CCP. Let them partly take that role back and maybe get developers more involved in the game.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. CCP employee rules regarding in-game activities are not overly restrictive, but are simply intended to prevent employees from providing any specific players with an unfair advantage - or giving the impression that the possibility of such unfair advantage may exist. There is already enough of a "taint" when well-known players end up becoming CCP employees.

      Most employees (wisely) tend to err on the conservative side, in order to avoid risking their job. You won't see them playing the game, using their old toons, in their old corps/alliances. This does not mean, however, that they don't play the game, nor that they do not belong to corps/alliances, albeit anonymously via alts.

      Delete
    2. In my opinion, New Eden is still too small a universe for CCP employees to be given much power in it. The most well-meaning CCP employee in the world could hardly help making changes to their play style based on what they learn in Reyk. It's just human nature.

      So no, I don't think the current limitations on CCP employees playing the game are too restrictive.

      Delete
  16. Call it "CCP lazy mode" if you must, but I feel like someone said "Fixing this is going to be hard... do I have to?"

    This sounds like the same justification for the removal of corp hangars to the orca and caps.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Jester, if you win a seat on CSM and end up going to iceland, please inform greyscale that a large portion of the playerbase thinks he is an idiot and would appreciate it if he stopped trying to dumb the game down and make it simple.

    Thanks and good luck to you!

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  18. There's three reasons why I care about this particular swing of the Nerf bat:

    1) (least important) This IS going to impact the way I HAVE TO fit my ships, since the minimal resistances at least gave me a modicum of protection from gankers. Jester, you yourself have posted about the risks of undocking with a massive EM hole (Friday, July 13, 2012: Kill of the Week: Buffer). If one wishes to avoid getting insta-popped, one must certainly fit accordingly, but this change reduces the options I have as to what that fit needs to include.

    2) (Annoying) This nerf cost me about $15. Between the 4 shield compensation skills, it took me about a month to train all to level V. For the purposes that I trained it for, that time investment is now time wasted. As any Eve player should know, time is money; especially when CCP is charging for every second of it. PLEX or subscription, someone paid about $15 for that month of training time, and CCP has just said that that month is now useless to me. Can I get my $15 back then? ... Didn't think so.

    3) (The main irritant) WTF is with the stealth nerf? You just try to sneak it in under the radar, get called out, then mumble some s**t about multifunction modules and double down on it instead of having the open communication, feedback and response that we as players have been promised? When is CCP in general (and :Greyscale: in particular) going to make it a policy to talk straight to their customers? I know it's their product and they have the right to make whatever changes they deem necessary, but do they really have to try to steamroll me AGAIN?

    Posting anon since I'm at work...

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    Replies
    1. You raise good points. I've brought up #2 myself a couple of times in relation to other nerfs. CCP's response is usually "you had fun with it while you had it, right?"

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    2. #3 is my favorite. Greyscale seems to be incapable of talking straight on any issue. His lame ass weak excuses always make CCP look bad and pisses off players. Just bad PR.

      Delete