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...

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Point of no return

The name, I must admit, makes me a little nervous.  And no, it wasn't shared with the CSM in advance.

As a history buff, the phrase "crossing the Rubicon" very much invokes in me a feeling of passing a point of no return.  Had Gaius Julius Caesar not been victorious during his civil war, he would have been executed and the history of the world would have been very different.  And of course his victory changed the very tenor of a successful, slowly advancing and conservative Roman Republic into a vibrant, fast-growing, but chaotic Roman Empire.  So while I recognize that the name of the next EVE expansion is mostly an in-game lore conceit, it's hard not to see the subtle out-of-game message.

...if there is one.  I might be seeing something that isn't there, of course.

Anyway, the announcement of EVE Online: Rubicon was supposed to be a bit of a victory lap.  This is an expansion that CCP Seagull has quite literally signed her name to, the first expansion in a series of expansions to launch her long-term vision of space colonization and player ownership of space.  I felt rather bad to see it disrupted by the furor over the SOMER Blink.

Some wag even joked a little meanly that CCP would be announcing the expansion to be called EVE Online: Blink.  Whoops.


Anyway, this video stream came about partially because both at a meeting with Seagull a few weeks before the summit and at the summit itself, I and the rest of the CSM made a case for Seagull to get out in public a bit more.  This is something that CCP Unifex did to great success a few times as Executive Producer: he was at the center of a video dev-blog introducing the next expansion, talking about the overall sorts of things the expansion would include... that sort of thing.  It was always short, not much more than a quick appetizer, really.  But it did a great job of putting all of the follow-on dev-blogs into context and start to get players excited about the new expansion before it was released.  This was something that I and the rest of CSM8 urged Seagull to do and she agreed that it was a good idea.

Something to keep in mind which isn't NDA: in none of the past video dev-blogs was the whole story of the next expansion told.  They were just intended to let you know some of the things you'd be seeing, not all of them.  With the background stuff done, I wanted to chat a bit about the Rubicon features from what was presented.  In a couple of cases, I'll be writing full posts about these once the relevant dev-blogs are written.

New Anchorables: Siphon Array, Tractor Beam Platform, Depot, Cyno Jammer.  I love this one and a couple of them -- notably the Depot -- have the potential to be quite literal game-changers.  I was making arguments for the ability to push combat refitting down to the small-gang level back in 2012.  The Depot addresses the same problem but with a completely different and really clever mechanic.  Needless to say, I'm going to be carrying around one of these quite a bit and have been spending some time coming up with interesting use cases for them.  It's also tempting to think of the tractor platform as strictly a PvE conceit... until you remember that some of those PvP wreck fields are pretty big.  ;-)

Those of you who think of the new anchorables as the first step toward modular POSes are forgiven for doing so.

Ship Balance: interceptor, marauder, interdictors, EAFs.  The march continues.  I for one have been using CSM influence to make sure the re-balance train moves through the ship classes pretty rapidly because we still have a lot of really important classes to go...  Of the four classes, I'm most excited about the EAF changes so far.  It's been so long since I could reasonably fly my Kitsune or my Sentinel.  I'm personally least-excited about the marauder but that's because I was hoping for a real fast-attack PvP battleship and I don't think the marauders fit the bill.

Warp Acceleration Change.  I love love love this one.  And I might even get to take a certain small amount of credit for it.  There's a funny story about how I think this one got rolling: one of my first days in the CCP/CSM Skype stream, I offered a bottle of brandy to the dev that could make this change happen.  I've been thinking about it since all the way back in January, long before I knew I was gonna be on CSM8...
If I am elected to CSM8, know what the very first thing I'm going to mention to CCP Soundwave and/or CCP Fozzie and/or whomever will listen to me?  It's silly.  But it's just the first thing I'm going to mention: why do all ships accelerate to warp at the same rate?  17 times out of 20, this means that two ships that align and warp away from one gate to another gate will arrive within one or two seconds of each other.  Doesn't matter if one is a battleship and the other is an interceptor.  If the distance between gates is under 20AU or so, they'll arrive at the next gate at the same time, forcing the interceptor to keep up the chase in the next system.  This is silly to me, and easily fixable.
And so it was one of the first thing I mentioned.  ;-)  I'll wait to tell the rest of the story until after the dev in question gets to take credit in a dev-blog for his hard and awesome work.  And yes, I will absolutely be paying off during my winter trip to Iceland.

But leave it to an EVE player to see an unexpected downside:
CCP is killing bio breaks on long warps! This is outrageous!
gg, Sarmatiko, gg.  I laughed.

High-sec POCOs under player control.  I'm going to be watching this one closely in the coming months.  I'm a tiny bit concerned about certain large null-sec griefing alliances coming in and taking over all of the POCOs within a few jumps of the market systems, then "defending" them by hiding behind the enormous cost to war-dec their alliances.  I've raised this concern with CCP.  A representative from a certain large null-sec alliance who was sitting next to me at the time said that I was over-reacting.  We'll see.  ;-)

The SoE exploration frigate and cruiser.  I'll have more to say about these ships when stats are released.  For now though, you can rest assured that their resemblance to ships in certain other sci-fi properties was noted by the CSM during the Art team session in Iceland.  That said, they're not the first ships to resemble or flat-out copy great-looking ships from other properties, nor are they likely to be the last.

Certificate system revamp.  I think this one is important but it again will get its own post when the dev-blog is released.  At that point, I'll have lots and lots to say about it.

That's all for now, I think.  As the devs in question get their dev-blogs out, I'll write about each in turn and of course after the expansion is released I'll be giving my favorite and least favorite features for Rubicon from all of its features...

44 comments:

  1. " I'm a tiny bit concerned about certain large null-sec griefing alliances coming in and taking over all of the POCOs within a few jumps of the market systems"

    I think CCP may have made a misake here - unless they generate demand from nowhere it won't be worth taking over most highsec planets. So you get an initial orgy of destruction, followed by slow rot, as POCOs become disused (and the associated corps fail) and at the same time it's not worth it to replace them and all that's left is tumbleweed.

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  2. Any idea when the stats of the SoE ships will be released. I'm waiting anxiously!

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    1. All of these features are in Rubicon. So November.

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  3. Hi sec customs offices should not have the protection of the war system, suspect flag only same as low sec. The only part wars should play is letting you bash a poco without your fleet going suspect.

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  4. Funnily enough (and I blame my history background for this view) but I find the subtle-out-of-game message in Rubicon to be different but no less positive. You write that Caesar's victory changed what was "a successful, slowly advancing and conservative Roman Republic" when in reality it was anything but. From the time of the Brothers Gracchi all the way through Marius, Sulla, Cinna, Lepidus, Brutus, Catalina, and finally Caesar, the late Republican era is nothing but one tumultuous string of civil wars and demagogues running rampant.

    Could just be me, but I see it as a parallel to how Eve has been since Incursion. Hopefully now that Seagull and Co have the reins in hand the future is going to be different, and we are indeed going past the point of no return with Rubicon. Whether or not it's going to turn out well...that's the real question, isn't it?

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    1. You know, you raise a very interesting point. Nicely said.

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    2. Infact the crossing of the Rubicon is quite an hinge in history between the Republic and Empire. You're great for having picked up the potential for awesome unintented irony there.

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    3. That's an understatement. Roman Republic has had - what, a hundred years of civil unrest before Caesar? And yet, by 40 B.C., when Caesar finished his conquests, Rome already occupied the vast majority of its territories. It only expanded a little bit more for the next hundred years during the early Empire, yet at the same time, this was the single most stable period of the ancient world, the so-called "Pax Romana" that lasted over 200 years.

      Instead, what crossing the Rubicon actually symbolizes is literally a point of no return. Roman promagistrates lost their "imperium" (right to command) when they crossed into Italy proper. By still leading the troops, Caesar and ALL HIS TROOPS effectively became traitors to the Republic, a capital offense punishable by death. There was no returning from that, once he crossed that river, he and everyone under his command were either to be victorious or dead.

      In that sense, Rubicon is a similar line for EVE Universe - previously, capsuleers were powerful, but contained to their own space or living by the rules enforced on them by the Empires and the Concord. But with capsuleers wielding so much power, it was becoming increasingly hard to control them and the old order was crumbling for some time now. With Pocos in high sec, though, the point seems to finally be crossed where Concord can no longer keep Empyreans in check. From here on out, it's only a matter of time before the Empires either lose all their significance or begin trying to retake control.

      Personally, though, the second part seems interesing. A New Eden civil war, with "Empire incursions"?

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  5. My vote on interbus CO bashes: you should be set to suspect while attacking them.

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  6. I want that depot so bad it hurts. Can't it just be point-released tomorrow?
    I'm looking forward to the Marauder rebalance only because I fly a Vargur for incursions; I'm gaining a web bonus and essentially two midslots from the T2 resists, plus the HORRID scanres and powergrid are being set at a sane level. It already works nicely up to that derp description it has, as with the huge cargo bay it can carry a truckload of ammo (consumed at half the rate) along with three other fits and replacement drones. Just unfortunate that it has to compete with the powerhouses that are Vindicators and Machs for slots; it may get to shine as a frigate killer once drone assist goes away and Incursioneers stop using them, though.

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  7. Let's be clear here. The organization that proudly boasts they control half of null sec is the the big winner here.

    And no one is surprised, given the huge amount of CSM members that gain their votes from then null sec cartels, and of course how many dev's started the game in the cartels (and still are in the cartels) .

    I have to laugh. You sit beside the great liar mynnna, and you have some concern, when he says "don't over-react"????? How about calling out goons and their lackeys within CCP for what this sham really is. But that get you banned from the cool kids' table, and you would be ostracized in Las Vegas, and in Iceland, and on Skype.

    I truly do hope that the goons crush high sec. I really do. Then the accountants will take over, fire all the null sec devs' and implement game mechanics that gut the RMT cartels. Because when goons are handed high sec, the sub rate will crash, completely opposite to what the null sec cartel propaganda team spouts off.

    Oh, and btw, that portable cyno jammer just guaranteed virtually complete safety for the goon and renter bots. You can bet that the vast vast majority of these changes will work out the opposite of anything CCP publicly states, and will only strengthen the goons.

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    1. http://fc05.deviantart.net/fs48/f/2009/181/4/0/ZALGO_by_Monation.jpg

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    2. You heard it here first - Dinsdale APPROVES of changes dictated by the nullsec cartels, as that's the only way our pocket devs will be ousted.

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    3. IDK how things will pan out in hi sec with this change. Who knows, the prospect of hi sec POCO ownership/defense might motivate small insular corps to amalgamate or form alliances prehaps? If this is the case and high sec residents can be reasonably successful at it, might this not be a good thing for encouraging co-operation and interaction within hi sec?

      AFAIK, the portable cyno jammer will not stop covert cynos from working. Small null sec pirate groups will continue to punish nullbears for their stupidity, rest assured ;-)

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  8. Don't you dare make CCP touch the SoE ships' models! They're one of the most beautiful ships to date imo. In fact, they decided my alt's skilling route in the coming months, even if their stats would be crap.

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  9. Yeah for Vulcan Science Ships :-P

    So, certain large null-sec alliance are not going to grieve CONSTANTLY High-Sec PI Players? So we have to wait for Pocogaddon 2014? xD

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    1. I always thought the Navitas looked a lot like the Vulcan Science ship.

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  10. "until you remember that some of those PvP wreck fields are pretty big. ;-)"
    looting/salvaging 15 minutes a battlefield after a fight or directly move home and fly anomalys for 15 minutes -> its both pve


    "The SoE exploration frigate and cruiser."
    the only problem i can see here is the combination of
    1. full combat able faction cruiser with covert op (with the combination of possibly heavy tanked + drones)
    2.mobile cynojammers that block everything except covert cynos

    since every ship that can fit a covert cloak can also open a covert cyno and jump through a black op bridge, that sounds to me like being able to drop an ishtar fleet through a covert cyno lit by a heavy tanked ship.

    wouldnt it be enough to give the ship a bonus like a black op to let it move very fastwhile cloakedwith a normal cloak?

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  11. I've seen CCP Seagull live once, during the fanfest presentation, and she looked scared to death. And you want to make her get out more? You bastards, you.

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    1. She gets progressively better as a public speaker each time she does it. ;-) But yeah, I wouldn't describe it as her first strength. Which is funny because she has such a GREAT message to deliver.

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    2. She didn't look scared at all to me. I'd rather say she looked passionate about her work in quite a moving way.

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  12. Do you have anything you can say about when the dev blogs are coming out? :p
    (I'll live with "soon" or "no", but I'm really excited to see the details on these things.)

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  13. "A representative from a certain large null-sec alliance who was sitting next to me at the time said that I was over-reacting. We'll see. ;-)"

    Hahaha... Thats not "over-reacting" more like a jugment based on experience.

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  14. I like the direction this expansion is heading to. After 7 Years of playing this game I have seen many things come and go. If CCP can focus on a 3 to 5 year road map (and I expect it is continued) large features can be forged over time without the pressure to release in 6 Month.

    I specially like the "steel from POS" structure. Will be interesting to get the details of it. But it comes a bit late IMO. Even Goons started to rent space to get money instead of relying on moon goo.
    Depending on the cost of that module it might still be worth the effort. But to disrupt enemy income we will also need ways to "harm" ratters / miners and what not.

    Hacking the I-Hub is an idea I still like to "imagine" for a coming expansion. Forcing space keepers to defend it or loose X% of Bounty generated in that system to those filthy raiders. If the renter can't do his job because his system isn't defended, he may decide to leave. Lowering the value of that space.

    And with this Yurts coming, Mining Rigs that are anchored in space and can be raided aren't that far off the line either. "Imagine ..." and "lets dream about ..." is what seagull encouraged to. I like to hear where her imagination is leading to.

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  15. Are you sure that we'll need a war declaration to destroy POCOs? I think they mentioned that shooting one would only give you a suspect flag; otherwise you'd need a war dec to kill those in low sec without loss of standings which is not the case, I seem to remember. That would be consistent with the way Interbus and Concord CO are removed.

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  16. So the warp thing... you get nearly .5 to 2 second more time to get ships that don't want to fight instead of looking for a system to make fighting more appealing to players. And by the way you make the life of those who have to flight 80 or more jumps more misserable flying those slow ships even more slower...

    Yeah forgive some of us for not jumping up and down dude.

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    1. Nothing is slowing down, but faster ships are speeding up.

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  17. Hello, Jester!

    I'm reading your blog more than a year now, and I want to thank you on doing such a great work. I was even a fan of your team on AT11 despite my alliance had its own :)

    It's interesting to me whether CCP plans some rebalance in cloaking mechanic in this expansion.

    The cloaking is good thing itself, but harassing nullsec carebears by hanging cloaked 24/7 with tens of characters simultaneously for getting a ransom is too easy, I think.

    But even if they will plan this, it would be NDAed so I cannot expect getting a definite answer on this.

    It would be very interesting for me to hear any thoughts on this from you, even if you don't think there is imbalance at all.

    Thanks anyway :)

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    1. Yes it is, but don't you think that a one man with 30-40 cloaked alts sitting in a half of region 24/7 and providing a constant threat to dozens of local residents is a little imbalanced being compared to efforts that needed to counter that threat?

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  18. I still stand by what I said, you know. The cost to dec us is capped at "only" 500m a week, and it will be well worth it to anyone who thinks they're able to pay that to take them from us... provided we manage to take them ourselves in the first place. We'll be defending them with fire and blood, as will anyone else who manages to take any of the POCOs in prime real estate.

    Ironically, if they're rendered unusable - say, interdicted - it's far more likely to be from them constantly being in reinforced mode from being warred over than anything else. ;)

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    1. On his blog Malbrick has done quite a detailed analysis of how much cash you are going to be raking in. Granted, it is a wide wide range, but if you take the average, you are going to be adding 1 trillion isk / month to the null sec coffers. Assuming goons only take half, that is 500 billion more per month directly into your wallet. At 15 bucks/billion, that is another 7500 dollars / month into the pockets of your cabal.

      That was one impressive negotiation you had with your dev's. BTW, when does your propaganda team start screaming for nerfs to mission and incursion income to balance out the inflationary pressures of turning this isk sink into an isk transfer to goons?

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    2. The problem, mynna, is that the only groups organized, with enough numbers, enough isk and proficient enough to take them from you are other null sec coalitions which doesn't make anything easier for the non null sec dwelling subscriber. I'm a low sec resident, but this change scares the hell out of me as it holds the potential to make a lot of stuff in game much more expensive and enriches goons further, causing further stagnation in null sec which isn't good for the game overall. if this works out as I expect, I'll play until I'm priced out of common t2 modules with my limited low sec income and then move on to something else. Like many things in this game, it's a great idea, but no way to implement it so that having 10000 people available makes it impossible for anyone else.

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    3. Why even have those 500m per week? High-Sec POCOs should be like cans. Give players a suspect tag for attacking them, lets see how many players are willing to risk their ship for 15 minutes when attacking null-sec alliances.
      A war dec is far to much commitment for high-sec players and only promotes this bad habit of alts for risk aversion.

      A suspect tag is more than enough, it benefits players and corporations who actually live in the systems where their POCOs are placed and should be a far better source for conflict with persistent consequences than forcing players into full scale war (or exploiting the war mechanics via the use of alts).
      As well it fits far better the guerilla war theme, giving smaller groups ways to annoy the hell out of bigger entities.

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  19. I think the concern over null sec alliances taking over high sec POCOs is overblown. One of the problems of the game currently is the ability to project power into the far reaches of nullsec thanks to cynos. Without the cyno mechanic in high sec the null bears will have to sit around in a local system or log an alt off in the vicinity of any POCOs that they need to defend. I just can't see that happening. Hopefully this illustrates why the cyno mechanic in the game needs to be changed or limited if CCP's goal is to generate conflict. Perhaps the portable jammer is their way of testing the idea.

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    1. Given that players now can have 10 jump clones on a 19 hour timer, leaving one or two in systems to guard POCOs in case of emergency isn't out of the question. Mabrick's last post lists some numbers that suggest it would be worthwhile to do so. And the huge null sec alliances have the most bodies to maintain that defense. Combine that with the cost of war decs, and you've just likely pushed small and medium corporations out of the running for them. The rich just get richer.

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    2. As far as force projection goes, a portable cyno jammer doesn't do much. Since it's range limited, all it does is simply not allow you to hot drop directly on top of a certain location. It forces you to either drop a cyno 150+km away on grid or just off grid and warp to where you wanted to land anyway.

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    3. It really doesn't require a lot of tin foil to wonder at how shorter jump clone timers and more jump clones came into the game immediately before it becomes hugely useful for null sec alliances to have members immediately in high sec. Considering players have been asking for this for ages and it suddenly became a priority is a bit strange.

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  20. So! Just an idea, but: my worry is that the SOE ships will replace Cov Ops/T3s for general exploration fare, invalidating one or perhaps two classes of ships. Pirate ships, per the devs, are generally super-charged...

    So, seeing as these are new ships, why not put them in as Destroyer and Battlecruiser class, respectively? Provided that they can't use cov ops cynos and are less maneuverable than cov ops and T3s respectively due to mass, they'll have a clear exploration niche, but also have a harder time slipping past blockades.

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    1. CovOps will be cheaper (the Daredevil and Dramiel don't put assault frigs out of a role) and T3s already have plenty of roles; especially since I'm betting a T3 will be much better suited to combat scanning while the SoE ships will be geared toward core scanning. But we won't know that until the threads go up.

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  21. Dead on with the high sec POCOs. Just another asset for the monopoly, might as well not code it.

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  22. Don't suppose there can be a yurt which does on the spot ore refining? Ninja into low or WH and try to blitz for Megacyte or Zydrine.

    As for poco?! I will run PI upto the week prior to the release. If I continue it all, it will be to merely to deny resources from other players. I wonder attempting to defend the interbus poco will have the shelter of concord? (assuming that the concord is exchanged to interbus?!)

    - hisec poco plus 4 hr ice anoms

    Expect nanite paste and pos fuel to set new records as the casual player is edged out of these industries. As well as fringe tech2 manufacture. And no, I enjoy my independence too much and casual game access to herd up for convenience.

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  23. So if this is the start of the "rise of the capsuleers" over the empires, how will that impact faction warfare? We all basically role play as privateers working to hold space for our respective factions and if they start to crumble, how will that work out? Just hoping if you guys on the CSM get a chance, something is brought up about that seeing as none of you are FW players.

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