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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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Shake the ant farm

Fanfest 2012 presentations are appearing more and more quickly on Youtube over the last week.  Not at all surprisingly, the Alliance Panel and Quiz Show aren't up.  But the CSM Panel is up now as well as virtually all of the major technical panels.

The larger venue at Harpa allowed CCP to greatly expand the number of technical presentations over what they did last year, and they took advantage of that.  That's definitely a net positive.  More information is always a good thing.  CCP's next goal should be to expand their stable of good technical presenters, both through recognition of natural talent and through training.  For a technical company, a good technical presenter is like gold.  In my opinion CCP Veritas currently holds the position as CCP's best technical presenter.  His presentations on lag and the efforts to fight it were funny, approachable, and presented solid technical information in a manner that was easy to understand.  Thumbs up.  More like this, please!

CCP should also address the how of their presentations.  Technical presentations before a large audience should focus on features and information with wide appeal, and less on theory.  CCP does a great job of this in their keynotes.  The DUST 514 keynote was particularly well done this year.  Ironically, the CCP Presents keynote on the final day was the weakest of the three keynotes.  It got mired early in too-theoretical discussions that would have been a better fit for the previous day's EVE keynote.  Next year, let David Reid open CCP Presents.  He did a fine job of getting the crowd fired up.  From his presentation on, CCP Presents had a lot more energy.

In general, theory should be saved for smaller round-table discussions with a smaller audience.  These are often the people that can both appreciate the underlying mechanics and can offer concrete suggestions on how to improve them.  It is perfectly acceptable during a presentation to a wide audience to explain what you're doing, and say that "if you want to understand why we did it this way, please join me in the round-table."

Finally, it's important to finish strong of course, but it's just as important to have strong points throughout your presentation to maintain audience interest throughout.  The DUST 514 keynote and the presentation on World of Darkness did the best job here.

Nowhere could these lessons have been put to better use than during the "Brave New Module" presentation.

God bless CCP SoniClover.  He really tried hard to present this material.  But he was obviously petrified, and he didn't put in nearly enough rehearsal time.  I don't know if he put together the presentation or if it was put together for him.  But either way, it was far too heavy in theory for a wide audience.  Even an audience as tech-savvy as EVE players.  ;-)  The combination of this dry material and a hesitant presenter made what could have been a very strong presentation feel weak.  Someone help this guy practice, because I feel like he could be a good presenter with more practice and better material.

As it is, most people that watch this video will just skip ahead to the 31 minute mark, and that's a real shame.

The central message of this presentation was fantastic: CCP wants to shake up the ant farm.  They recognize that ship fittings have calcified and hardened.  They recognize that it is often easy to determine which side is going to win a battle before the battle is even fought, simply based on fleet compositions.  They want to shake that up.  This is a good thing, and this information, presented right at the opening of the session, would have electrified the audience.

CCP also wants to shake up how modules are introduced to the game, with modules and BPCs for modules being found in LP stores, through invention, wormholes, incursions, exploration, et cetera.  Fantastic stuff!  Even more interesting, they want to introduce "seasonal modules"... a type of module would appear for a while, then would disappear from the game or become a lot more rare.  Also a great idea!  This would allow CCP to experiment with different modules without having to commit to them in case they were exploited.  Those that added additional game-play and balance could be retained and BPOs introduced for them over time.

All of this is really, really good stuff.  There were also a couple of off-the-wall modules talked about:
  • A "Target Breaker" module, a chance-based module that would break ALL target locks on you.  The more people that have you locked, the higher the chance the Target Breaker works.  An obvious anti-blob mechanic.  Jester likes.
  • A "resistance shifting hardener".  This one would measure the types of damage hitting you each cycle and change its resistances to be higher against that type of damage in exchange for being weaker against others.  This might drive game-play that would stop every single person from loading Fusion to attack the T1 armor-tanking ship.  Jester likes even more.
These are great ideas and show that this team is really thinking outside the box about the game, which is great.

There were also more concrete ideas about things that are coming to the game sooner:
  • Salvage drones!
  • Small and medium web drones!
  • CPU rigs!
  • Specialty rigs!
  • Tracking disruptors are going to become "weapon disruptors" and disrupt missile damage!
  • A drone damage mod!
  • Buffs for ECCM and Capacitor Batteries!
And finally, a "micro jump drive" that would have a long cycle time but would jump the ship it was fitted to 100km directly forward.

All of this stuff is very, very cool.  I'd love to see some of this stuff introduced in time for Alliance Tournament X.  It'd be fascinating to see how EVE's theory-crafters could put some of these items to work.

So, needless to say, I'm looking forward to these changes and we'll see how things develop.  If you've been warned away from the module presentation, go ahead and devote some time to watching it.  It really shows off how much CCP has internally accepted that they're working on a spaceship game again and thought about what that means.  It's a step in the right direction, and shows that the game's modules aren't the only ant farm that's getting a shake.


  1. Eve has been going many years, but Magic:The Gathering has been going strong since the '90s.

    The key is

    a) systematic planning for the future
    b) always shaking things up by creating new cards and rotating others out of the tournament scene.

    (b) is what CCP can easily do with modules. heck, there's even interviews where they admit they modelled ship fitting on a Magic deck.

    The interesting thing about new modules is that they can keep things fresh by the timing they release stuff in. Wizards of the Coast already know what's going in the next few expansion sets, but releasing a few dozen cards every three months creates four separate card pools every year, instead of one big release and then stagnation for the rest of the year.

  2. FIX SUPERCAPITAL TACKLE AND EWAR for fucks sake, stop wasting time with all this nonsense. Unholly fuck!

  3. "a "micro jump drive" that would have a long cycle time but would jump the ship it was fitted to 100km directly forward."

    I can already imagine the lols of its bad usage during alliance tournaments.

  4. >A "resistance shifting hardener". This one would measure the types of damage hitting you each cycle and change its resistances to be higher against that type of damage in exchange for being weaker against others.

    ...what, another stealth Minnie buff? I can't see how this is anything other than a great big "fuck you" to those of us who are locked into our damage types. :/

    1. If anything it's a nerf to selectable damage types.

  5. I had a good nap during the module presentation. So did cerui. He snores btw :)

    But good stuff and good changes!

  6. Slightly concerned about the micro-jump. I can scram a MWD, what's going to be the counter to a MJD? Not saying CCP won't make one, just bringing it up before they forget ;)

    1. Warp disruptors and scramblers prevent people from using micro jump drives.

    2. I know there is an AOE MJD disruptor planned (like a bubbles)

      Unknown if the warp point system will disable MJD's as well (ie if points/scrams will hold ships in place)

  7. Slightly leery about TDs becoming "weapon disruptors" - I'd rather see them fix the existing anti-missile counter (defenders) so that they do not require ridiculous levels of micro-management.

    That's without considering whether missiles are already "weak" in PvP outside specialist situations.

    CPU rigs will be interesting, as there are a lot of fits that previously required implants or sacrificing lows for CPU upgrades that will now become viable.

    1. With the new missile graphics, I think CCP is going to treat missiles like all other damage in its application. The 'weapon disruptor' will facilitate this and allow them to remove missiles from the client server coms and lag equations.

  8. Is it possible that CCP is giving up on the idea of ship balancing and introducing enough variety that ship balancing is unnecessary? Seems a lot easier than rearranging the skill tree.

    1. Not likely, considering CCP Ytterbium's panel presentation, where he strongly reaffirmed the direction outlined in his ship balancing devblog.

    2. I think with ship balancing and a move to lines instead of tiers, what you're seeing is the hulls becoming a blank canvas for modules. All role ships will more or less be similar, with much more minor racial variation across each line. All tankie ships for instance, will become rather bland versions of each other. Instead balance will be put toward modules.

      In the long game what will probably happen is CCP will decide on a base module "deck", and everything else will be phased out, including some of the modules in play now. Those will be reworked to more useful versions of themselves, and then create seasons with drop rates. A module set will come into rotation, for a few months at a low drop rate for BPCs or whatever, this allows them to see how its working before it goes into.. prime rotation, drop rates of that module set are at its peak for a few months, and then it starts to slowly go away again as reserves of the new BPC cash expire. And everything goes in 3 stage rotations. Everything is cycling in and out in those 3 stages, but a base module pool always remains the same. And by sets I mean 2 modules, not large sets. A module and its counter module. With everything staggered so stuff is constantly going in and out of use to combat flavor of the months.

      It may take years to build up a large enough module pool, but that's probably what we're heading towards. A nice self sustaining system that doesn't need balanced constantly because as soon as people start getting used to it, it's gone. No yells or calls of "nerf blah blah blah" because it'll be gone in a month and may not be back for a year or more. Over powered modules can even be billed as events. "The return of X!!". Everyone will be happy it comes back because they may not have gotten to play with it the first time, or a new module is in prime rotation right now and they wanna see how it stacks up. It'll keep things interesting.

      But, that's long term.

  9. Sounds like a very big Gallente buff.
    Especially all the drone related changes and the MJD.

  10. It's very nice to read that you're so positive about CCP as a company, Jester.

  11. web drones =/

    brb fitting all my kiting ships with smartbombs...

  12. I was thinking about how this would work with the seasonal modules. What if, those modules took a certain specific resource to make. Some new mineral or something. Now, obviously it wouldn't make sense for a new mineral to just 'appear' and 'disappear' from the belts, but what if (if/when) they implement comet/whatever mining you could easily have a changing source of these rare 'specialty' minerals.

    Although I'm not sure if that would work given people's proclivities for hoarding things.

  13. 1) "Target Breakers" -- already one in the game. "ECM Burst", anyone? All they have to do is bump the effective range out a lil further, and watch the hilarity ensue when the primary not only jams the guy targeting him, but all of the people tackling the guy targeting him, and half the logis... oh the FC raeg! that will occur over that one. ;-)
    An "ECM burst" that "only works on people targeting me"? Yeah, kinda unrealistic. \o/ more :coolideas:

    2) "Resistance shifting hardener": is actually NOT a bad idea, though should be very CPU-intensive for obvious reasons. However can still be overcome by a small gang, even, by the tackler getting a point starting to shoot the target with say, EM or explo ammo, then the "big guns" warp in with blasters and slam the target with shit-tons of un-resisted kin/therm damage before the hardener can switch resist profiles the next cycle. POP.
    Sure, why not? I'd +1 that idea. And never, ever fit one. ;-)
    Well, might be a good idea for hisec missioning/plexing.

    3) "micro jump drive" ... ok that name in and of itself just reeks of :coolidea:, add in the obviously "WTF?" idea behind it... ok so I "jump" 100km and am now at 25% capacitor. WTF do I do with THAT? Warp off, that's about it. But supposedly being in a bubble or pointed would shut down the MJD too, so it would only work in situations where I could warp off in the first place, right? :-/ Hell, if you're going to make it "jump" on-grid, at least put it 200-300km out, you know, a useful distance? 100km doesn't buy you shit. Your fleetmates can't even warp to you as a tactical ping unless you're at least 150km out.
    I just have to shake my head and *facepalm* over this lil gem of stupidity.

    1. The point of the target breaker is to stop one FC primaring any one ship off the battlefield, as described its effectiveness rises as the number of ships locking a target goes up. This will force battle groups onto battlefield with several FC's all running their own teams. Its an elegant solution to the blob. As described it breaks locks on one ship and just forces the ships to re lock, it is not a remote ECM burst.

  14. I disagree that theory should be pushed in the background. Theory reveals thought process used by CCP designers and is by itself much more telling about how will game develop in the long run then any specific design feature.


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