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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Monday, December 30, 2013

Drone assist needs to die (redux)

Actually, now that I think about it, I don't see much reason to be coy since the topic isn't NDA'ed and is being discussed broadly by EVE players. The CSM has started a thread on the CSM-CCP private forums about sentry drone assist, bringing up the issues we see with this mechanic and a few of our suggested solutions. As you can imagine, lots of CSM members have strong opinions on this subject gathered from EVE players right across the spectrum of New Eden.

"The opinions of Garth are not the opinions of Jester (unless they are)" goes the disclaimer on Garth posts, notably this one. But here's my opinion on this topic, taken straight from my post to the forums (slightly edited):
I've been thinking about this subject a lot and my overall position remains unchanged: drone assist needs to die.

In particular, trying to limit it by squads or ship types or whatever isn't going to do a thing. It just means that instead of one person per fleet needing to play EVE, one person per squad needs to. The rest -- the bulk -- can continue to go AFK. Players will still front load sentry damage by assisting it to a small number of fast-locking ships and this so-called "finger of God" tactic won't go anywhere. It will just mean that a few more people will need to follow primaries but nine out of ten will not.

Once drone assist is removed, a lot of the other issues go away. I have no particular problem with sentry drone damage -- I think it's more or less balanced with other equivalent damage. I have no particular problem with carrier profusion of drones; it only becomes an issue when carrier storage capability is mated to fast-locking platforms.

I'm also not overly concerned with the loss of drone assist in PvE. The mechanic was chosen because it was the most efficient way of dealing with certain problems -- notably, the jamming ships in incursion sites. Without drone assist, other solutions will very quickly manifest to deal with the same problems. They'll be 2% less efficient, I suppose, but the incursion-runners will have to muddle through.

That leaves the use of drone assist in small gang PvP and the major place where there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth is associated with assisting of light drones to deal with fast ships attempting to break through gate camps or crash back to gate. This bothers me even less than the PvE issue: again, if gate-campers are serious, they'll apply new tactics to deal with this issue.

Short version: drone assist needs to die and nobody has yet shown me a downside of it dying that overcomes the enormous upside of killing it.
I suppose some of you out there will accuse me of caving to the Goon position of claiming an in-game mechanic is broken because they can't figure out a way to break it. That's your right. But in this case, I stand by my position: people should not be playing EVE by landing on grid, launching drones, right click-left click-go AFK. I realize there's very slightly more to these tactics than that, but that's the gist. At least when I was in sov-war and I was getting blapped off the field by 250 Maelstroms, they all had to lock me first.

And God knows I do enjoy watching a particularly good incursion drone bunny work, but they'll figure out another method to take out jamming rats quickly in HQ sites and such. RLML Tengus might be an entertaining thing to try, for instance.

But hey, I'm more than happy to listen to more player feedback on this issue. Is there some upside to the drone assist mechanic that outweighs my urgent need to see a stake put through its heart?



  1. Hint: it's sentry drone tracking and range that is the problem, not drone assist mechanics. Just shave a few % points off the drone Omnidirectional Tracking Link or give it a more severe stacking penalty. Boom problem solved!

    Also RLML Tengu in pve....have fun with that 40 second ammo swap time.

    1. No, drone assist would still be a problem, even if tracking and range were put in line. If sentry fits did not excel so much, and were no longer the FOTM, and even if no-one used these doctrines, drone-assist would still be a bum mechanic.
      Un-fun, un-interesting, un-dynamic AFK fleet is the primary concern here. That it is powerful is merely what makes us notice the primary problems.

    2. "Un-fun, un-interesting, un-dynamic AFK fleet is the primary concern here."
      So what your saying is... you don't like flying this fleet style, so you don't want anyone else flying this fleet style?

    3. I still don't see how Drone Assist is broken. I mean all the downsides that come with drones there has to be an upside. That is how balance works right? You can have 3 sets of drones in a Dominix (the most common drone doctrine ship) once they are destroyed by bombs or otherwise your fleet is dead. So please tell me what possible reason would there be to keep using them once drone assist is gone? Right NON whatsoever.

    4. No anon, its all those uns to fly against as well.

  2. So fighting AFK is bad but camping AFK is good?

    Maybe the solution is not to nerf drone assist but to do something against running eve unattended.

    If you want to change drone assist I would limit the drones someone can get assisted. Maybe a ship can handle twice it's own bandwith or something like that. Let dualbox ratters still have their fun with their second drone boat.

  3. From a heated discussion on FHC about the drone assist mechanic, I learned that the "Eve Online-to-porn" ratio is a fundamental aspect of designing nullsec 10% TiDi doctrines...and sentry Archons are the big winners by a long shot.

    My stake in this is limited. I'm a lowsec pilot and can't remember the last time I used sentry drones in PvP. I am also a T2 manufacturer and would love to see a war breakout with massive losses on both sides to crank up my sales.

    Having tossed in my disclaimers, I think there's an imbalance here when it comes to cruisers being able to field a full set of sentries. Sentry drones are battleship sized weapons with commensurate damage, range and tracking as large turrets. With a cruiser hull you get a great deal more mobility than a battleship, notably drop the sentries and MWD around.

    PS: How about some oversized turret attack destroyers to round out the ship tree (3 BC's per BC skill, only 2 for Destroyers)?

  4. with drones retargeting much more now (since a few patches ago, or so) setting drones to both defend and assist are pretty much redundant...only in a few missions do rats do the old full aggro on only one target character the entire time.

    nowadays i use 'defend' only on the fly if one of my ships is under heavy EW by frigates/destroyers.
    I hardly ever used 'assist' cuz it just annoyed me in missions. never used it outside gatecamps (which i abhored in null sec alliance stuff)

    I'd happily call for it being removed since i consider it to be the forte of ishtar hordes in missions...or dominix. I really don't fly alot of gallente. hell, i've never actually jumped into a domi once in over a decade. lol

    As for incursions, all the friends i have that are into that find it too overrun by lazy russians...i'm not sure what that means, or if it's just slightly racist, but yeah, making it less of a breaze would help that minigame, yes?

    So...what's going to happen to fighters being assigned? i assume this falls under the same demand.

    1. Assigning fighters works differently than drone assist because fighters count for you max controlled drones. So any non-carrier (non guardian vexor) can only ever have 5 fighters assigned. And if they do have fighters assigned, they can't use any of their own drones they might have.

  5. I have no problem with an eventual changes to the drone assist "issue"... but the thing is when. It would make me(and a lot of people) unhappy at CCP if they would do this before the actual conflict/war/invasion ends.

  6. Speaking as a FC for tvp I can confidently say incursion communities that are worth anything have already moved on from relying on drones for jamming frigates. Drone assist is a mere convenience to us now.

    That being said I don't see why it needs to die. Someone will find a way to beat it. (Or just remove assist from carriers)

    1. A sufficiently effective way has not been found yet. Handwaving the problem off, to be assumed as solved via the reliability of time, is frankly an awful response.

    2. That said, having to send your drones after each new target will be a pain and likely show a significant slowing to the removal of the smallest Sanshas. Think how hard it is just to get our guys to deploy and assist drones for each ROOM, let alone every target.

  7. Can't argue with this one, sentry drones are fine, but drone assist is not and needs to die.

  8. How can I put this nicely...fuck you asshole.

    Armour incursion runners got hammered with the destruction of the Paladin and Kronos. Now you want to wreck their ability to control drones against frigs, one of the few ways to handle them well. Sorry to break it to you, but the hit to efficiency is way way over 2%, a number you pulled out of your ass.

    You want to trash some mechanic done to death by a small percent of the sub base (the blob-sec group), I can understand that. But not at the expense of so many others.

    Stop being a jerk and find another way. This only is a problem when thousand of players are on grid, and that is a blob-sec problem only. Don't make it out to be an Eve issue.

    1. I agree with Dinsdale, you Jester make up shit as you go.

    2. I dont normally agree with did he's right here tho. Fix bandwidth so u can't assign 100000 drones to 1 person. Problem solved and it doesn't even make carriers useless

    3. Ah, thank you Dinsdale for the hearty laugh of the day.

    4. This game is a PvP game. Balance of ships in PvP should be considered before and above any other activity. Period.

      Nulsec represents the portion of the eve population which pays CCPs bills. Slowing you lot down in incursions is a good thing. Making incursions less efficient is a good thing. Especially if this is a side effect of making PvP (you know, the part of the game you should be participating in...) more balanced.

    5. While I disagree with some of the words Dinsdale used, he has a point. The "solution" doesn't seem well thought out, and saying "they'll find a way" is a pretty shitty argument.
      As for the "AFK" part ... this is EVE ONLINE. I pity people with only one monitor, because if you don't have anything else to do while you wait (a major part of this game), you'll die of boredom. Not to mention 10% TiDi ...
      You want to nerf AFK gaming? Make EvE an interesting game to play all the time, not just when you CTRL + click and press F1.

    6. 10% of the players are null seccers, the other 90% play in highsec, low sec and wormholes so how exactly are nullseccers paying the bills for ccp?

  9. Drones are very peculiar creatures. They mostly got a mind of their own. I really like that gameplay. Two discrete situations make their ability to attack something you can't target very valuable. First is when you get jammed/dampened. You can then assign your drones to a buddy (or even guard them). Second is when in a mining ship while an npc BS is shooting your buddy from 40+km. You cannot attack it without using these mechanics.

    What is needed to die is the afk part. Make it so drones are always 'passive' when assigned. They won't attack unless you actively tell them to. So you can still guard others (but after killing target, they become passive again and need to be put on guard again for the next target).

    Anyway, just throwing out drone assist is making eve a lot less interesting. You might wanna get rid of mining, production and anything too complex for the average goon.

    Because whenever you agree with a goon on some game mechanic, you're sure you're spoiling the fun of a large part of eve-players...

  10. drone assist train works well to uncloak ships. But you are right the hole all for one thing makes most ppl go afk.

  11. If sentry drone assist is the problem why not limit the restriction to these type of drones?

  12. Drone mechanics need an overhaul. Should just start from the ground level a d rework the entire thing.

  13. This wasn't an issue until Goonswarm had to face it, rather than use it itself. I don't disagree that there's an issue, but you're doing a coalition's dirty work for them, a coalition that doesn't deserve it, by taking this issue now. I'm sure you won't think that a reason to refrain, that's your choice. Still, it's pretty disappointing for me to see.

    1. That the terrible evil subhuman CFC has to face, and is compelled to utilize, a broken mechanic does not make the mechanic any less problematic. Your logic does not hold.

      Get over your tribalism. Random Team A is the same as Random Team B, they just sport a different letter.

  14. hidden underneath this whole "drone assist has to die" debate, there's another underlying issue that inadvertently people who agree with the removal of drone assist find themselves aligning with.

    the issue is simple, should a two thousand man fleet costing about 200billon ISK win against a 300 man fleet costing about 650billon 10 out of 10 times?

    a lot of people ask for the removal of drone assist (The mittani) because its seen as the last bastion of power multiplication. and some other people (PL and others) defend drone assist not because they thing its an "ok" mechanic, but because their game is a game of fighting overwhelming numbers with power multiplication.

    there's no "argument against the removal of drone assist", even the most hard headed of the capital pilots agrees its stupid, just like they agreed blapping was stupid. but there's a feeling that its a step in the wrong direction. its seems people are forgetting lately that the "enemy" in eve online is not TiDi, not the lag, node crashes, or even drone assist. the enemy is the Blob, the blob causes all if not most of those problems.

    and in the "war against the blob" you have power multiplication as our main weapon. and it currently has two forms, its either bombers, or drone assist.

    once drone assist is gone, we are left with a game of Bombers, and believe me, they will go after them as well. they will call them "unfair" "content destructors" or some other innocent looking label.

    the game they want is not a game where numbers are important, but a game where numbers are everything.

    CCP removes drone assist? ok, but give something back. even if something as feeble as a public acknowledgment that a "game of numbers" is not the game they want.

    maybe two years down the line, when they get to the capital rebalance, we will see something clever. capitals getting buffed the fuck out, but requiring a delicate and carefully planned logistic line to operate? opening the door to fighting a titan column with Blops, hot drops behind enemy lines, carefully selected gatecamps. breaking up the BloB by making the best tactical decision to hit in multiple systems, with smaller, more specialized fleets, instead of having two thousand trained monkeys hitting F1 on the broadcasted target while playing "cookie clicker" on the second monitor and trying to not fall asleep out of boredom.

    one can only dream.

    im not advocating for AoE DDs here, all im saying is, power multiplication is a valid way to encourage tactical gameplay. people seem to forget sometimes, this is a game.

    1. No, it's not. Multipliers inside of ship mechanics is not a good solution at all, because that edge goes both ways. The multiplier that you use is, or should be, also available to any given blob. What should stop them?

      Rather, we should be interested in mechanics that yield diminishing returns from uniform numbers. The goal ought to be mechanics that yield a benefit from diversification, more complicated fleet setups, more demanding leadership, experience, and training. Skill should be an acceptable response to a blob.

      Your proposition of another passive ship mechanic as a crutch does not support the utilization of skill, nor the limiting of power of overwhelming numbers.

  15. ugh....i can't think of a half decent alternative save for maybe disabling it for just sentries.

    its got a lot of benefits for other parts of eve.

    i have never personally had to deal with the problem, it just doesn't happen in lowsec all that often.

    and drone assist for me is a usefull tool for whoring drones on logi, i'd hate to lose that.

  16. I don't completely agree (squad level limitation sounds reasonable to me) but with a choice of no assist, or no change, no assist wins hands down.

    And my disagreement mostly comes from 'this is where drones are different', rather than anything reasoned out. The whole 'finger of god' thing had to die a death. Assisting drones messing with your lock times would deal with that a little, but not entirely.

    1. Only decent idea i've seen. added assisting drones drop scan resolution, by formula that would be Lock Time = (Resolution - (Drone Bandwith/level))

      So assisting 5 senties would drop you ships scan resolution by 125%.

      Now placing that formula Before or After modules (sensor booster, etc) would be up to CCP.

  17. It would be easy to balance drone assist, and there are several ways to do it. The most obvious way would be to give each ship a new stat that works in a similar way to drone bandwidth but only for assisted drones (drone assist bandwidth). For the sake of argument, lets say that it is equal to the drone bandwidth stat, and if the ship has no drone bandwidth, the drone assist bandwidth defaults to 25 Mbit/sec. This would drastically increase the number of people that have to pay attention in giant fleet fights, and doesn't gut the mechanic entirely.

    1. I like this idea. Drone based ships (like carriers, vexors, ishtar, prophecy, myrmidon, etc) would be able to handle a couple flights of larger drones or a horde of light drones. You can still have a light scout drone bunny in the form of an ishtar. You just can't put it all on an interceptor.

  18. Drone assists in huge fleets with carriers is indeed overpowered. Screaming goons is a clear sign for that.
    But if CCP touches the drone mechanic to remove some feature, they should start taking a serious look at it and revamp it all along and build something new into it. Just removing stuff is always bad. Handling different squads of drones with a fiddling right click menu is not funny and not intuitive.

    So yes, it needs some changes but please, don't just cut something out but rework it as a whole. A new intuitive Drone menu will reduce the screaming of drone lovers a lot and help improve the game.

  19. "I suppose some of you out there will accuse me of caving to the Goon position of claiming an in-game mechanic is broken because they can't figure out a way to break it"

    I'd just like to point out that goons are actually using it with their massive domi fleets, so it is helping them as much as us. I don't think either side particularly thinks it's good for the game, Mittens just happens to be more vocal.

    Even without it, sentries are a touch OP at the moment. They were always awesome just for allowing a full set of Utility highs (this is how the first WH's were ran efficiently), but back then there was only sentry damage rigs.

    Now we have drone tracking and damage mods that have had a little too much power creep it's a different story.

    The bottom line is sitting in a drone assist slowcat is BORING. Especially in 10% tidi. F1 is all that kept us going! Without that there is even greater risk of burn-out on the n3 side and Goons will win. Getting rid of it is better for everybody, incursion runners will always adapt.

  20. Drone assist isn't the problem, it's the symptom.

    The problem is that large-fleet PvP is "lock up primary and press F1", and this is best done by scripted drones.

    By removing the drone assist, you merely condemn humans to be the drones.

    The solution would be changing the fleet combat mechanics in a way that no one WANTS to use drone assist. In other words, make fleet pilots more than F1-pushing drones.

    1. we're talking about a change to drones gevlon, not a complete overhaul of combat mechanics

    2. Math of a blob:

      1) Radius of a blob grows proportionally only to the 3rd root of the number of ships.
      2) Weapon-range is well above the average blob radius.
      => everyone hitting F1 on the same primary is the best way.
      => efficiency scales well with blob size

      If you do not want it to be that way, you would have to change game-design so that:
      blob-radius / weapon-range > 1
      Then, the primary, if outside the blue blob, cannont be hit by the pilots on the far-end of the blob and thus making more deverse maneuvering and/or target-calling necessary.

      You know what countermeasure scales well with increasing ship-density?
      => AOE damage
      The only noteworthy AOE damage comes from bombers, which aparently is not enough.
      But you would need more diverse AOE means, that scale well against ship densities (blob-radius / weapon-range < 1)

      This is all hypothetic though, since I don't bother with fleets this big these days.

      * F1 monkey / drone assist = most efficient for ship-densities (blob-radius / weapon-range < 1)
      * Possible counter: AOE(Area of effect) damage that scales well against blob-densities of (blob-radius / weapon-range < 1)


    3. The AOE weapon idea is really interesting. Think of a BS-sized bomb launcher that has a (max) 90km range that allows you to right-click and set a "fuse time" to adjust the range at which the bomb detonates. Fit a target spectrum breaker on the same ship, and things might get even more interesting.

    4. Human Drones... lol Humans make mistakes and create content... nuff said. The F1 key size is inversely proportional to the blood alcohol level and mistakes will ultimately be made.

      Drones are an issue, but embedded into the game so deeply you upset an entire community by simply ending their tools. With Drone Assist you must end:
      Drone Guard
      Drone Assist
      Auto Aggressive
      ALL the things that make the drones unique as a weapons system.

      Start there and work backwards, hell to follow


  21. I an just thinking act it froma lag perspective. 6v was grinding to a halt, and a ten thousand drone army wasn't helping. As far as the afk bit, f1 mashing is marginally better, lock times are the only big difference.

    But if it dies, nothing changes, CFC still lives on, and no one can get into sov without cozying up.

    The only reason I can see keeping it is that at least you need to be in a group to use it, can't solo drone assist.

  22. cannot do anything else but completely agree....drone assist needs to die....

    however afaik, drone assist came with the release of fighters (xl drones), and the option of carrier-pilots to assign them to their fellow fleet members....even following them in warp around the system.

    I think some level of tweaking will need to be done to carrier locking speed eventually if all drone assist options are removed.

  23. I kind of think drone assist is *interesting*, and my gut feel is that an outright removal of it is throwing the baby out with the bathwater. The mechanic is being abused. You don't fix that by just removing the mechanic. There needs to be additional balance added to prevent the "finger of god"... such as for instance, a drop in scan res for the ship receiving the assist - exponentially applied (so giant fleets these things relying on a single guy is going to basically never be able to lock things - at least not without gimping the targeting ship's fit).... Or some other penalty on assisted drones to reduce their effectiveness.

    I get why the current situation is bad, but completely nuking a mechanic and along with it a handful of interesting fleet doctrines. In fact you don't need to. Right now you have a whole bunch of AFK pilots using drone assist mechanics because it is most efficient to do so. All you need to do is drop its effectiveness enough that it is no longer the most effective way of applying damage and its ubiquity will drop off.

  24. I think if you capped drone assign at 5 drones per asignee, that would be better.

    One major advantage of drones over other weapon systems, in small gang pvp, is resistance to ewar via assign. You get damped, so you assign your drones to someone who isnt. With 5 drone max, you could preserve this ability of drones, while removing the perfectly synchronized alpha of mass afk droneboats.

    1. You hit the nail right on the head, as a small scale pvp player, assisting and assigning drones is the best counter to ewar. Removing that makes it near impossible to fight an ewar ship at range. I would definitely be in favour of having a maximum amount of assisted drones be 5 or 10. Keep it small.

  25. Hell, add a new drone skill to accept assigned drones. 1/level, could even do an advanced skill for another 1/level if you wanted to max at 10.

    1. This is the best suggestion I have seen, in combination with an "assist bandwidth" stat on ships, perhaps even modules that increase said bandwidth.

      Even allowing something like 3/level is fine and incursion runners wouldn't suffer if assist was limited to 30 drones. Better than the >2500 we have at present!

    2. No, not a new skill. Double it up with an existing skill, but not a new one.

      For us high SP characters a new skill doesn't mean anything. I keep seeing people ask for new skills for us to train, but in the grand scheme of things another skill is nothing to us. It's just another SP sink we'll polish off in a month's time and then be wanting more to train afterwards.

      But to a new player, every time we add a new skill that's one more thing they have to train to be competitive. And at this point in my Eve career, I care more about not piling onto new players than I care about just about anything else. Eve gets ever more complex, that's the nature of the game, but it doesn't mean we need to add insult to injury.

    3. BeBopAReBop RhubarbPieJanuary 2, 2014 at 1:22 PM

      Totally agree. Drones are already a painful train for new players because Drones V is required for even the most basic trains on any ship that uses them, even if they don't plan on using the full 5 drones. Interfacing is such a huge damage boost that level 5 is practically required on it too. Adding yet another essential drone skill sounds bad, especially at anything other than a x1 train.

  26. Outside of heavy tidi you really can't be afk. You'll have to scoop drones/re-assign because of bomb runs, fleet repositioning, trigger getting killed.

    The Domis need some work as with the right mix of drones/fits, enough numbers, they are damn hard to counter outside of caps and the "daisy cutter" bomb meta that also needs to get fixed.

    Carriers are the real problem as they can carry Shitloads of drones and have massive HPs and Rep power.

  27. Fully agreed. Even though I have and do use this for ISK making and gate/wh camping the time has come for this lazy mechanic to die.

  28. I agree completely

  29. Jester, when was the last time (if ever) you yourself have been in a fleet using Drone Assist functionality? I think if you had recently you would remove the "and go afk" part out of your argument, because it make you look silly and disconnected with the reality of the fleet.

    What about logi ships assigning drones to fleet members to get on kill mails?

    What about the load of solo PVE players who two and three box sentry boats using small scale drone assist?

    Why does it need to die, why cant we add more game mechanics that more easily counter the use of over-used drone assist fleets?

    Finally, its not like these fleets are tipping the balance of the game and Null-Sec Sov itself...the CFC who is mostly using domi drone assist (only btw to try and show that its broken) is not by any means mopping the floor with enemy fleets.

    Do not remove a function in the game. Create a new one that will create that balance. It adds to the games depth and fosters creative and healthy habits for players to be innovative and strategic.

  30. Clearly is something wrong with drone sentry assist, first thing i've noticed as a new player.. either the damage is too high or .. I mean sometimes logi is useless on the field. and then im not even talking about 250 archons chained together.

  31. "people should not be playing EVE by landing on grid, launching drones, right click-left click-go AFK"

    ... and this is why drone assist is great. Hell, I wish the FC could control my ship in all cases so I can sit back and watch the fight or go do something else. Unless CCP comes up with something better then 30 minute fights taking 5 hours because of TiDi, and having to stare at the god awful overview to pick targets then drone assist is great.

    Please don't break the PvE aspects of the game and make them more tedious to force people to stare nonstop at dull blob fights over SOV.

    1. Endless CTA's are what put a bad taste in my mouth about SOV holding alliances. And it lets really good FC's to emerge as...really good FC's. I'd rather watch the fight then have to endure 2 hours of la any day.

  32. Seems to me that even the most frothingly vitrolic haters of drone assist would have trouble believing Jester "caved to the goon position", but hey, what do I know.

    1. Actually Jester is almost always pro goon position if you watch his posts and even more consistently anti PL because they are in the way of Rote Kapelle having a shot at the tournament top.

    2. Hear that, mynnna? I'm almost always pro Goon! Phbbbt!

  33. My main like of this method is all the drone destruction it causes. If a group of carriers wants to pack a truck load of drones to all get destroyed over the course of the battle all the better.

    It isn't as if we'll start seeing folks trade in carriers for interceptors. I think we will still have all the carriers and just a complete lack of damage after a change.

    From a balance point sure you're right, from an economic point I think it is great.

  34. Derp, I wish they did go afk a good bomb run on drones and then you can clear the field at your leasiure. However thats not what happens (so much for the afk bullshit your spouting) instead once one group of drones is off the field they launch another group, and another if you have the bombers for them.

    But lets take your point at face value: You don't like drone assist because people launch drones and go afk, right? So erm I don't recall you saying anything about cloaky campers who don't even do as much as an afk snake pilot does. Consider the three primary afk activities: Mining, Camping and Drone assist. Of them Camping is the least "playing eve" activity wouldn't you agree?

  35. What if drones had to target lock to shoot?

  36. The more comments I read here, the more I think passifying (pun there ;) ) drones is the way to go. By making people have to reclick everytime the drones kill something when assisted/on guard duty, at least one of the main arguments of drone assist is gone.

    So: whenever a drone gets assisted, it'll be that way until it gains a target. After that target it drops to passive mode/previous target/returns to owner.

    That way the function essentially remains, but people need to rightclick/click/select/click (instead of control-click/press f1).

  37. It would make sense if drones had to target when assisting, and sentry drones could have battleship like locking times. If you already had a lock they wouldn't have to lock so it doesn't affect normal play, and medium/light drones could have really fast locking times so it doesn't hurt incursion runners(?).

  38. Yes you are of course caving in to the goon position as usual. Reason I left the game is I don't want to spend my free time and money simply to make some ex lawyer Goon space dictator rich. It's not my idea of fun. Game will collapse as more and more players give up and leave like me.

  39. Will you also be pushing to remove FC initiated fleet actions, such as wing warps? If not, why not?

  40. You could do something simple.

    ECM Bursts/Remote ECM Bursts break drone locks and drone assist/defend assignments.
    Remote Sensor Damps lower drone control range.
    Tracking Disruptors lower the ships drone's tracking speed and optimal/fall-off range.
    Regular ECM...maybe stops drone assist...maybe not.

    You could do some trickier things, like limit total fleet drone bandwidth based on the Fleet/Wing/Squad commanders skills. Add in FC implants and command modules to improve things. This wouldn't hurt Incursion folks too much, as they don't fly 200+ man fleets. And it would force Fleet commanders to choose between drone bandwidth or other implants and command modules.

    A bit more tricky, you could have light and medium drones set to have an "anti-drone" mode. Though the CPU load for something like that may be a bit much.

  41. I like drone assist - period. It's part of the game now, and should remain so for a long while. Just because someone can put together a blob fleet and use the "finger of god" to change the balance of a fight does not mean that the opposing fleet is prevented from doing the same. Nobody is exploiting any mechanic that was not intended to be used. Too many players use drone assist outside of blob fleet to make it way to valuable of a mechanic for you to say it must die, and make it so.
    I, for one, want the drone assist to stay as is - no changes. Learn to fight a different fight if the drones are a problem, or bring your own blob fleet and blob fight yourself.

    It's in the game now, and I want it to stay as is - period. I do not need to provide a counter argument to your failed logic of "I can't win, so nerf nerf nerf" to prove that my point is more valid than yours or trivialize anything I say. Point is that the mechanic is in the game and has been for quite some time and that drone assist is used by many more pilots out of blob warfare than in it.
    Find another way to push back on the "finger of god," or someone will simply come up with another mechanic to replace it, and we will be right back here listening you you bitch about nerfing something else.

  42. What if drone assist worked only once? That is, you assign your drones to a fleet member, and when he/she activates a hostile module, the drone aggresses the target of the very same module, and shoots at it until it dies. To change the target of a drone, you can either manually command it to shoot a different target, or re-assist the drone to someone (maybe even the same person) and wait for them to activate a hostile module.

    This approach solves the AFK aspect of sentry drone assist fleets, as members will have to constantly re-assist their drones. Furthermore, this does not interfere with the incursion community ability to quickly eliminate jamming targets; there are very few such targets in each wave, and it isn't hard to quickly re-assign your drones after each one dies, then manually command them for the remainder of the wave.

  43. Please consider a change which has minimal impact on small gang pve or PvP. There are valid applications for drone assist... even sentries (ratting, mining, etc). The issue is with large fleet afk battles. Perhaps limit assist bandwidth or require fleet to reassist every few targets.

  44. when has EVE pvp ever been about skillful player interaction? Drone assist fits perfectly within the context of EVE pvp.

  45. Surely just the removal of sentry drone assist would solve this issue.

    Light drones are not the issue perfect alpha is.

  46. Drone assist should go away completely.

    Any arguments to the contrary simply beg the question: why then can't I just assign my guns/launchers to another player as well?

    The answer to which is simple: Because it would be an incredibly stupid thing to do.

    A large part of the "skill" in managing a fleet or gang is multiplayer coordination. If you can simply have the computer do all or most of the work, by assigning control over aspects of the other players' activities to a single player, you've severely dumbed down the whole concept of multiplayer cooperation.

  47. Anything the Goons want should be opposed out of Principle.

    The Goons adopted the Domi fleet doctrine for what now, three months. Their stated goal was to provide proof that the drone assist was over powered. Tell me Jester - do you think that the Goons have met this goal? In what battle or system can you cite that the Goons have overwhelming success with drone assist.

    Just saying that something is overpowered does not make it so. And even less so from the directive of a self-admitted scammer and villain.

    Putting aside the tinfoil. I can accuse you of a vested interest here Jester. Drone assist was a prime mechanic in the Alliance Tournament.

    [quote] Is there some upside to the drone assist mechanic that outweighs my urgent need to see a stake put through its heart?[/quote]

    The upside is that this is apparently keeping the Blue Donut in check. Which outweighs any possible negative attachment. Almost 40k accounts now answer to one voice. I have played online long enough to see the end game. (17 years) There are some players who just prefer to be on the winning team. It results in a cascade of stacking until the game ends. The meta game has so far made light of the Blue Donut but how much of the of the former HBC migrated to the CFC? (looking at you Malcanis).

    I would suggest you put a bit more thought into what is said by Mynnna over Skype. This worthy who said in response to Siphons: that one player should not be able to shut down a system, but told renters to HTFU when they were shut down by one player in system. (afk cloaker). An amusing bit of self interest goes a long way.

    Why is suddenly AFK a bother to you Jester? Will you also address afk cloaking or afk mining? (disable auto cycle of strips if you dare push for that!).

    And since you want things to raise with CPP, you might want to have a think about this. CCP Seagull has presented a future to the game were players build stargates. Really?! Think about that for a moment - then realise that these things will be attractive than CSAA for some "content generation". So who would put together the industry might to build this when industry largely an anathema to null sec?

    1. Honestly last fight i was in where goons vs N3 was fought one side fielded a carrier fleet using "Sentry drones" and the other using Domies with Sentry drones ... and that mass using Carriers with a single fast locking T3 cruiser that act as a target coordinator shooting for everyone is making the game retarded. and increases Lag in fights as drones are beeing targeted and killed more frequently and drones are beeing used more frequently.

      and saying everything Goons say must be opposed is very very stupid.

    2. Let's see the infamous "not out to ruin The Game, just out to ruin your game". So, this is a player driven content game. So you need to realise then you when then ruin a player, it still a loss to the game. Competition yes, but acting out of mere spite?! To me that is worth opposing.

      The promise was domis will be used to demonstrate drone assist is OP. Well former lawyer - the burden of proof is outstanding. Case dismissed?

  48. How about adding a new type of EWar that disrupts drone usage? Or maybe a new bomb or new type of missile. Either way it'd go something like this:

    - Two fleets clash, one is using drone assist.
    - Second fleet sees this and deploys drone disruptors
    - Drone disruptors cause drones to become disconnected from their parent ships, so that they have to reconnect with drones. This way anyone not paying attention will cost the fleet effectiveness.

    Something to think about anyway =)
    -Baljos Arnjak

  49. The tide must be turning against Mittens. Queue CCP nerf of whatever the other side needs or uses.This game is so predictable. Yawn.

  50. A few ships dying at gate camps isn't the problem. Its large groups of carriers with sentries being able to 1 shot anything on the field from the single attack command of one player.

    Coordinating large fleets and attack targets is another challenge of Eve, and one that is completely bypassed by drone assists.

    Agree with Jester... kill it.

    1. This is the right way to make the argument. The "pilot assists and goes AFK" argument becomes entirely unpersuasive once you throw a couple of neuts or remote reps on your fit, or you have to maneuver at all.

  51. Conventia UnderkingDecember 31, 2013 at 5:25 PM

    I agree completely, it should simply die.

    Some people claim that drone assist isn't the issue because there is some higher level problem that should be fixed. Yes, there are problems, like large fleet warfare, etc. But the simple fact is, if you are playing Eve, you should be playing it, even if that means you're engaged enough to not be able to watch porn too and therefore, you log off and watch porn instead. At least that would help solve the large fleet issue slightly.

  52. I can see that there is an issue with drone assist, in terms of the ability to afk with it in some circumstances.

    However, the real problem as I see it, is alpha strike. Every doctrine surrounding the concept is basically about removing as much individual skill from the equation as possible. So whether you assign drones or are an F1 monkey, it adds up essentially to the same thing.

    As fleet sizes continue to get larger, this problem just gets worse. Players are getting pushed into increasing larger EHP ships in order to survive alpha strike, to the point now that it really is cap ships online, unlike the old joke from time immemorial. Larger EHP doctrines just encourage the opposition to bring even more alpha to bear, and the cycle feeds itself indefinitely.

    CCP need to figure out a way to limit alpha strike in some really creative way, that can't be gamed too much. Hopefully the result of which will be that a lot more individual pilot skill is required in large fleets, or at least a much larger portion of the fleet must be more skilled in order to operate efficiently.

    A damage stacking penalty might be the simplest way, but actually implementing it could prove to be problematic. Exactly who's damage would be picked out to be penalized and by how much is not an easy problem I don't think.

    High slot module targeting might work. Add a new ammo type for all weapon systems that are basically Star Wars Ion cannons.. they damage/disable subsystems. In this case, high slot modules. They would essentially add heat small amounts of heat damage, so the mechanism for damage and repair (nanite paste) already exists. Balancing it right would be a chore but it might put some skill back into play if it is effective enough so that it is optimal to have say squad commanders calling individual targets for disruption instead of just everyone in the entire fleet shooting the one primary.

  53. Just want to restate what other have said as well: if the 'afk' part is the problem, then you should go after AFK cloaky camping before anything else. It is a risk free kind of 'gameplay' that by it's very nature allows the pilot to go AFK for extended periods of time, paralysing PVE activities without having to do anything. The last part is the problem: it's a kind of gameplay where the aggressor holds all the cards, even when he's AFK for 23 hours of the day. The aggressed has no real options to do anything against the aggressor.

    My own experiences with drone assist are not really positive. I scored killmails without even knowing which guy I was shooting at, and the experience left a sour taste in my mouth.

    That said, if we want Eve to survive for another few years, there needs to be a counter to the huge number of pilots the CFC is able to field. Removing an effective counter to the blue donut blob at this point, would benefit the CFC hugely. I can see why people accuse you of caving in to Goons.

  54. As a longterm Logipilot, assisting a flight of warriors used to be my choice to get onto killmails. EC-300s (and EWAR drones in general) cannot be assisted, disqualifying them for that luxury.

    So I believe that the assistmechanic and their negative side-effects, mostly the absurd coordinated alpha dished out by a bigger swarm of sentryships, is the core issue, not the drone-assist in general.

    Rather than abandonning drone assist right away, I'd be very happy to hear sentries not being assignable anymore, instead of flat-out removing assist-mechanics. For once, I'm pro-band-aid! (Reasoning aswell being the limited locks on Vexors/Navy Vexors, where you earlier could assign heavy drones to your Rapier/Vigilant/Ashimmu and be a fully concentrated logipilot)

  55. It just isn't a problem in 90% of eve. It provides a nice counter to ewar in small and medium gang pvp. It adds variety and depth to eve combat. Most applications of the assist mechanic do not have people going afk from the game.

    The truth is one group of players wants combat simple and for large numbers in cheap ships to be an iwin

  56. Who would have thought the suggestion that players fire their own weapons would be such a controversial topic? Drone assist drove me into logistics ships because I personally find them massively dull to pilot. For all the talk of ‘F1 bashing monkeys’ drone assist seems to diminish the most important aspect of the game for me; people working together. Drone assist gives the fleet perfect alpha not because all the players are working together as a team but all through a single proxy.

  57. There are varying levels of AFK in this game. Mining seems like an AFK activity until you do it on ten accounts. Being an off-grid booster is, so long as nobody probes you out. Cyno alts are largely AFK until needed.

    So a couple thoughts: AFK activities increase CCP revenue. Because they allow for multiple characters to be involved in the same process before the amount of human bandwidth is consumed, they help keep the lights on. So before we talk about eliminating AFK activities, remember that CCP will need to decide if they will get more subscribers from new players who see an engaging and fun game to counterbalance the old accounts being unsubbed because you can't handle that many accounts at once any more.

    Secondly, how AFK is drone assist anyway? Don't carriers still keep giant rep/cap chain balls going during a fight? I have not flown many drone carriers, but I have flown in many domi balls. Between motion, keeping reps up, using mids for targeted anti-ewar, and babying my drones PVP never felt like an AFK activity in a Dominix.

    I use drone assist quite heavily in incursions (where it isn't strictly necessary) and when using my on-grid salvager in wspace. It lets me dual box an Ishtar and drone/salvage Proteus, assisting my drones and concentrating on salvaging. I'd be sad to see it go.

    Ishtar and Dominix metas have not been overwhelming in nullsec. They work, but because of their limited EHP and drone bays they have to move or else are very vulnerable to being volleyed off the field, which means they are not in mutual support range with their very vulnerable sentries. The carrier meta neatly sidesteps this with large EHP that is less vulnerable to alpha, and enough drone bay space so that their drones are less precious. So really, this is a carrier problem, not a drone assist problem.

    Some form of AOE, even low-grade or with a very slow explosion velocity, would do wonders to kill the drone blob meta in large fights without changing small fights much. You would need to be sure that it didn't make disabling all the mods on a POS absurdly easy, but that could be accomplished by making the AOE ship a capital so that it couldn't get into low-class wspace/highsec where towers still have some teeth.

  58. Since we're on this subject... a few years ago when they did the back end missile mechanic rework CCP Veritas released a dev blog with lots of nice graphs on lag caused by missiles. What sort of lag does the new drone doctrines being used in Null now days cause?

    Because really, that's what my opinion will be shaped by more than anything. I understand The Finger of God is bad, but I also understand that after TiDi went in fleets were cheering that the slowdown of the system allowed near perfect alphas every time from the F1 crowd. Or if not near perfect, at least a level of perfection that was unheard of before TiDi.

    So really, to me, if it'd help the TiDi situation for it to go away.. I'll pick that option.

  59. I vote for plex for standings.
    Every alliance has 25 standing slots if they want 5 more they have to pay a plex, fock all the standing list :)
    Lets go pay to have privileges.

  60. Sigh... Shoot the Finger. Bomb the drones.

    Which other weapon system has that big a disadvantage?

    Instead of all this "Nerf it to death!!! RAWR!!!" How about a little indicator on the overview or next to the target that shows who is getting the assist? A little situational awareness and the Finger is primary. Drone runners have to scramble to reassign.

  61. Has anyone suggested requiring assisting drones to lock the target?

    It would make some sense. It would be a fair compromise. Sentries and smaller drones could have their lock times adjusted for balancing.

  62. So CFC can't win against the N3 super blobs. So time to nerf drone assists.

    Jester when did you become a CFC pet ?

  63. How about sitting AFK on a Titan and right clicking to wtfpwn some random ship that their scout comes across?

    Or an off grid boosting Tengu sitting AFK in a system and providing bonus's?

    Or AFK cloaking in a hostile system for weeks on end?

    I think all AFK issues need to be reviewed, not just the one that you currently don't agree with.

  64. Why don't we just remove drone assist from sentry drones?

  65. Exactly why I stopped playing this dren of a game.
    Changing the rules of a game after they are established is generally seen as cheating.
    Sorry games 10+ years old add new content stop changing mechanics.

    People literally spend years creating characters to be effective in combat to have the idiot devs change the rules on them over and over.

    Let me know when this dren goes FTP [FREE TO PLAY] I wont ever pay ccp a dime again.

  66. There is a fundamental flaw in the whole concept behind this post.
    First of all, in pvp, people don't go AFK - if they do they'll most likely die. The only difference is who is pressing F1 which isn't all that much of a difference - one key.
    Second, in Pve people don't go AFK because - guess - they (or their drones) will die.


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