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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Friday, December 13, 2013

COTW: Three approaches

I got lots and lots of really good comments on my tent-pole post last week, Overwhelming Force. And I was really pleased that a lot of you just GOT it. The post was necessarily a little bit subtle -- well, as subtle as a post full of WWII references can be -- but a lot of the comments I've gotten particularly via EVE mail and on Skype, really got the heart of what I was trying to say. Darkwater wrote (and it's the comment of the week, edited slightly):
Perhaps Null should just be left alone for those who like to play that style of game. It sucks, but apparently a lot of people enjoy that type of gameplay.

The new space they plan to open up though, that might be a great way to introduce new and better mechanics to a section of EVE space for those who enjoy the type of tactical gameplay that you enjoy. There is absolutely no reason that CCP just just copy/paste systems and mechanics that already exist into the new space they are opening up. They could literally change all the rules when it comes to it, and invent lore to support it.

It's a golden opportunity for them to shake things up and open the game up to new and different play styles, require all players to relearn how things work, ect. Think of it almost as EVE 2.0, without actually making a brand new game.
And yeah, I have to admit there was a certain amount of "there's no fixing the current kid, so let's make sure the next kid is perfect" in my thinking. ;-)

Lots and lots of you brought up the idea of cool-down timers to try to fix the current kid -- er, rather to deal with the current ludicrous fleet mobility -- and it's something that I've wrestled with from time to time particularly when the cool-down timers are attached to ships. What's to prevent rich alliances from just switching supers/dreads/carriers/whatever like the Pony Express used to switch horses? So when these suggestions are thrown at me to reduce mobility, I always respond "Well, if it's a cool-down timer, how about putting the jump cool-down timer on the pod?" Nobody I've presented that to has been able to come up with a major downside to the idea. Can you?

But a comment that I really want to highlight is the alternative view, written by Abdiel Kavash of FCON. It's long -- really long, practically a blog post in itself! -- but if you're interested in this topic, it's worth your time. Call it the counter-point to my post. The whole thing is worth reading, but I want to focus on one particular bit:
...there is one coalition in the game that values strategic victories more than masturbating over killmails. That coalition is right now leading an offensive in no less than three distinct fronts in an effort to separate enemy fleets and lure their forces away from strategically important objectives by chasing killmails of some marginally relevant alliances. (Reminds you of something from the post?) How well this will work we will see in the following days and weeks.

That same coalition in not so distant past captured two regions by using nothing but fast stealth bombers, running in circles around enemy fleets and never putting our significant assets under the danger of enemy supercapital Overwhelming Force. This is pretty much the definition of guerrilla warfare taken to the extreme.

You mentioned logistics and supply lines. Some time ago, in the middle of a typical back-and-forth sovereignty struggle (I'm sorry, I'm bad at remembering details, I couldn't tell you which battle or which system this was in) a sudden call went out for one particular outpost timer. A broadcast storm so massive one would think VFK was under attack. Why was this timer so much more important than anything else in that war until then? Our spies found out that the enemy alliance was keeping all of their SRP replacement ships in one station. Dozens of billions of ships, now inaccessible due to our station capture and lockout. This was a turning point in that war, unable to replace lost ships the enemy quickly fell.
Now, dig into this wall of text and you -- or at least I -- realize that he's right. What IS the CFC southeastern campaign except a massive diversion of enemy forces away from where those enemy forces would rather be fighting? This gives an entirely different spin to the idea of overwhelming force. The classic horror of warfare is the idea of fighting on two major fronts simultaneously, but the CFC has now grown big enough that they can do it if they have to... but they can often prevent having to do it through diplomacy... simultaneously! It was a really interesting way to think about the on-going war.

"Nerf diplomacy" I believe the saying goes...

So thanks to everyone for all your comments! Really interesting stuff!


  1. The next kid will be worthless if it forces players to sell their soul to the gatekeeper.

    I'd rather buy a system in which you can access "new space" in two ways: through a gate that goes from point A to B, where A is homeland and B is assured to be worthy space, or by "supercharging" your "new space jumper" and randomly landing anywhere in new space. After the jump, If you can find a celestial on your own and use it as "lock", you may be able to return to that place from New Eden, with a +/- 1500 AU error margin. The way back, though, is always random and you can land litherally anywhere, as CONCORD scrambles all "locks" in known space (wormholes could be different, though). A consumable "new space jumper" would limit see-sawing back and forth for a safe landing in New Eden.

    Overall this concept would allow small guys access the new space through the back door, to say so, and they could stay hidden from the crushing blob unless they're actively chased or accidentally discovered, or just spied.

    But maybe that's the idea already and CCP Seagull doesn't really plan to spend 3 years developing a toy for the exclusive use of the nullsec blob.

  2. Well it's not so much "nerf diplomacy" as a matter of player choices. Test was sitting pretty early on and then left and alienated the CFC, bungled a declaration of war on the CFC, voluntarily gave up control of our coalition then decided to take out the new leader, Sort Dragon, in the most bluef*cking way possible instead of just saying to the other leaders we can't accept this dude.

    All of this was based off a certain impetus towards drama and a drive for conflict which the CFC, in the main, lacks. 90% of the CFC, it seems is quite happy to rat and mine until the once yearly Deadly Threat arises then it's all hands to the pumps for a month then back to ratting.

    Meanwhile those nullsec alliances that like conflict are drawn to each other rather than the boring-to-fight CFC, They understand diplomacy presumably they just don't use it and don't see it as a tool towards their goal of finding conflict.

  3. "Nerf diplomacy" is a valid thing to say up to a point. One of the things facilitating the existence and growth of coalitions is the ability to reliably support allies on the other side of the game. If you think greater fragmentation is better, reducing that ability will help quite a bit.
    Abdiel Kavash's first post has a somewhat dubious interpretation of events. Several of his examples are bass ackwards and imply that clever tactics were used to circumvent long odds when the way they're described indicates the opposite. (e.g. grinding down Fountain in bombers is not guerrilla warfare. It indicates you have such overwhelming numerical superiority that you can afford extremely conservative, inefficient tactics. Not to mention the large number of fleet actions during that war.)

    Plus, frankly, a several of the examples are notable because they're anomalous. Eve is very much a game that is strategically poor. Not in the sense that strategy doesn't matter, because it does, but in that the varieties of strategy are quite limited.

  4. I dunno. I see two nested problems. Not just that mobility is so high, but that it's getting easier every year to build and hold coalitions together through the use of out of game tools.

    Mobility by itself isn't bad. Numbers by themselves aren't bad. It's mobility with numbers that's bad. And I don't see a jump timer on the pod fixing that because of the way Eve's economy works. If you add a jump timer it's only a matter of time till coalitions have jump clone networks setup around null with a full (super)capital fleet ready to go at each front. It's short sighted.

    I'd rather see something approach both sides of the problems at once. But what that is I have no idea.

    On a broader view.

    I'm starting to think it seems like CCP is using the wrong metrics to judge how healthy nullsec is. Member count out there is rather large, and coalitions and alliances have only gotten bigger, which is growth of a sort. But from an outside observer they all look the same. Same revenue models(renting), same fleet compositions(sentry), same tactics. Only on a broader strategic front do you see differences in the coalitions. I don't think is healthy for it to be so homogenized.

    I really do wonder if anyone at CCP looks at null and thinks the same thing. Because whenever I read or hear something from them it's always mechanics they don't like or systems they think are under performing. Not a broader view of how they want Null to behave. If we're going to have the talk you started with the Overwhelming Force post, I feel that's a conversation that should be had first.

    Sorry if a bit long winded.

  5. So how big is the CFC now?

    37,000? 40,000?

    The only logical reason anyone would manage such an organization, which requires huge huge amounts of time, is for a real life payoff.

    Congrats, mittens. You have won Eve.You have proven that you are the best at managing the meta-game of anyone in Eve, given the game mechanics you are presented with.

    Now it's time to totally re-work those game mechanics, destroying your RMT empire, and instituting game mechanics that never again allow one group to so thoroughly dominate Eve, no matter how good they are at the meta-game.

    1. I have to agree with the logic. There is no logical reason that one would dedicate that much time and effort to managing a video 'game' empire unless:

      1. You are the developer and it's your cash cow
      2. You work for the developer and you need to feed your family
      3. You are a player making real life money off the game itself.

      All other reasons (i.e. bragging rights, king of space, etc...) are not logical nor reasonable to believe.

    2. Oh, I think there are a bunch of us agreeing with the logic, but there's not much we can do about it.

  6. You guys are both right in a way, because you talk about different levels of war. At the strategic level, this game is far from only a numbers game. Strategy matters, as the CFC has proven time and again. At the operational level too, descisions are beeing made as to which system to atttack when with what composition, and even here - before battle is joined - EVE is not only about numbers. Meaningful descisions that will affect the outcome is made here. At the tactical level though, once a battle has been decided upon, numbers are very important, and to a large extent decisive. Fighting outnumbered and win is still possible to some degree, but there is no room for real tactics because there are really no command and control to focus on. A bit simplified, command and control in EVE at the tactical Level is the FC calling targets and everyone else pushing F1.
    What you could do, is introduce multiple objectives that need to be taken and held simultaneosly to flip a system. Such simple change could potentially change tactics, because the attacker would need to split up, while the defender could disrupt the flip while staying concentrated. However, you are right in the observation that movement in EVE destroys tactics, and it does so because it destroys the advandage traditionally enjoyed by achieving surprise (this "surprise-nullifying" applies both to in-system movement as well as operational deployments of supercaps).

  7. Mike Azariah has gone through the mobile structure suggestions thread and compiled a list on his blog. One of which "might" be a interesting, to say the least, idea for a whole region of space.

    "45) Someone expanded on 35 with a relative ship disruption. A structure which disables the functions “keep at range”, “orbit”, “approach”, “assign drones” to other ships so that everyone has to fly on its own like it should be and not anchoring up on one person who will move everyone and go afk. Add fleet wing and squad warp to that list. Man that would be the first thing to go if put on a field."

    You could add broadcasts to that and make it even more extreme.

    Could large fleets function effectively in such an environment? It would certainly be a way to introduce a region of space that favours pilot skill and knowledge over numbers.


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