Welcome to Jester's Trek.
I'm your host, Jester. I've been an EVE Online player for about six years. One of my four mains is Ripard Teg, pictured at left. Sadly, I've succumbed to "bittervet" disease, but I'm wandering the New Eden landscape (and from time to time, the MMO landscape) in search of a cure.
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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

So say we all

I apologize in advance.  This is a long post.

One of the most interesting changes hinted at in the CSM Summit Minutes is the proposed change to sentry guns, particularly in low-sec.  You'll find the relevant bits on page 95 of the Minutes:
CCP Greyscale moves on to explain his work on sentry guns. Sentry guns will now shoot anyone with a criminal flag, suspect or otherwise.  Sentry guns will also start with smaller amounts of damage, and ramp up with time.  Ideal tuning will be to where triage carriers will die at around 4 1/2 minutes.  This way, if you want to use triage carriers in lowsec on gates you can, but you must commit to the cycle for a length of time before starting your reps, if you want to deactivate triage before the sentry guns kill you and jump out.  CCP Greyscale also points out that another goal is to make it so that the first couple of hits won't kill an interceptor immediately, enabling a quick tackle, and then a warp out.
Needless to say, this proposed change is upsetting a lot of people, for a lot of different reasons.

For those not familiar with the mechanics of the new Crimewatch system, you'll be given a "suspect" flag when you do anything the game regards as "illegal."  The simple examples, of course, are things like non-war-dec tackles or combat in high- or low-sec.  Less obvious means of making yourself a suspect, though, will be can-flipping and neutral repping.  None of this is in-game yet... the Minutes specify that CCP will be trying for a December release but it seems likely that it'll be pushed back to 2013.

Your average can-flipper despises the idea of getting targeted by sentry guns for his favorite activity, obviously.  Can-flipping is often used for scamming new players into losing ships in fights they're not prepared for.  But Alekseyev Karrde points out in the Minutes that it's also occasionally used for legitimate 1v1 fights in high- and low-sec as well.  CCP is looking at changing the mechanics for such fights to make it more obvious what's about to happen.  The relentless march to make EVE safer for new and naive players continues.  Still, that's not what this post is about.  I'm much more interested in the implications of this change as it applies to low-sec.

I've spent significant amounts of time living in all five types of EVE space: high-sec, low-sec, NPC null, sov null, and w-space.  And despite the terror that low-sec prompts in the hearts of the bulk of players living in high-sec, low-sec might be the safest space in EVE.  Sure, you can get shot there.  But there are four things about low-sec space that make it a relatively safe place to hang out:
  • hardly anyone goes there, because most EVE players are paranoid about it;
  • those people that do go there are generally paranoid about it, and as such keep a close eye on Local and their directional scanner;
  • only ships that can take gate-gun fire generally bother even trying to tackle anyone in low-sec; and,
  • because of the first three factors, ships not already involved in low-sec activities are actually rarely targeted and destroyed there unless they do something dumb.
I've written about this before.  If you take a neutral ship into low-sec, sure there's a chance you might get shot at.  But if the ship is a low-value T1 frigate, destroyer, or the like, the chances are slim you'll get shot at even if you encounter a PvP fleet.  Lots of people flying through low-sec don't want to deal with the aggravation of gate-guns even if they can lock the frigate in time and even if they can tank them with no difficulty.  Quite often, it's just not worth the trouble.

And the relative dearth of people who are even in low-sec means that it's a simple matter to use a smaller T1 frigate or destroyer to scout for something as large as you like.  I routinely run battleships through low-sec with a frigate scout and have never had any problems.  If the frigate comes through a gate and finds a camp, the frig warps off somewhere, the battleship docks up in the system prior, and you wait for the camp to go away.  Simple.  But the risk of such a thing happening is pretty small because low-sec is so thinly populated these days.  If you stay out of faction warfare space, you can pass through dozens of low-sec systems without seeing more than one person in there to do a little ninja-missioning or mining.  Even in FW space, if you come into a system and there's a person or two there, they're probably running FW missions or sites and won't bother you.

The danger of low-sec is EVE's boogeyman, used to scare players that don't know much better.  Sure there are systems that are exceptions -- Rancer and Tama and Amamake, for instance -- but they're the exceptions, not the rule.

That said, I don't want to be dismissive of this change.  It's a major change to how a lot of players will operate in low-sec; I'll get to that in a second.  Players recognize that it's a big change.  And like any big sweeping change, this one's drawn more than its fair share of critics.(1)  But it is rather amusing in that it's drawn critics from both sides of EVE's great ideological divide.  How did it manage that?

Well, let's deal with the care-bears and the occasional non-PvP low-sec visitors first.  You know who you are.  This will change sentry guns so that interceptors and the like can get tackle on frigates passing through.  The escalating damage from the sentries will drive off the most blatant low-sec smart-bombing battleships and the like.  But the typical low-sec gate camp will not only not be banished, it will be improved by the arrival of these fast tacklers.  Today, a good low-sec gate-camp only rarely sits on the gate itself.  Instead, the ships doing the camping will sit just off-grid aligned toward the gate to avoid the sentries.  A scout (often an alt) in high-sec will report the arrival of a high-value target at the gate and only then will the campers warp down to the gate itself.  Adding an interceptor to this mix will only improve the likelihood that the camp will catch the target.  And frigs entering or just passing through low-sec will no longer be any safer than any other type of ship.

So the occasional low-sec visitor is aggravated by this change.  Say you want to take one of the new mining frigs or a fast Procurer into low-sec to do some ninja-mining.  How do you do it against an organized camp?  Hell, even null-sec players are a bit annoyed by it, because they occasionally have to move cyno ships and the like through low-sec.  So, the care-bears and the occasional low-sec visitors hate this change.

But the PvPers, if this is possible, hate it even more.

Already today, gate fights are fairly rare things in low-sec if factional warfare or the like isn't involved.  EVE players are risk averse by their nature, and neutrals do not want to give their opponents the gift of GCC if they aggress on gates.  The additional DPS provided by allied sentries is bad enough, but the potential to have a two-way fight turn into a three-way (with the new arrival usually just attacking those that are flashy or GCC'ed) often prevents low-sec gate fights before they start.  Now add the fact that the escalating damage off sentries will be blapping even ships that could previously tank the guns, and you have a recipe for the death of a lot of low-sec gate fights.

What you'll see instead are low-sec ganks and the occasional two- or three-minute fight, followed by a quick de-aggress if the fight even starts to go against you.  And that assumes you can find a fleet willing to risk the fire from these escalating damage sentries at all.  We'll see.

So the neutral roaming PvPers in low-sec are upset.  But they're not the only ones.

It's tempting to think that this change is aimed at low-sec gate campers and indeed a lot of people think this change is specifically targeted at people who just get their jollies from this activity.  Me, I'm not so sure.  I think the true target is hidden in plain sight.  Greyscale wants the damage to escalate to the point where triage carriers die in 4.5 minutes.  That says to me the true target of this change isn't campers at all... it's hot-droppers.  After all, that's the situation you usually use triage carriers in in a low-sec gate fight.  One side or the other baits, a cyno is lit, and soon you have a small cluster of triage carriers and perhaps even dreadnoughts blapping the baited side.

The untold statement here seems to be "Yeah, you can have those triage carriers, but the people you're baiting get a minute or so of free fire or the chance to de-aggress before you can use them."  Because if your carrier jumps in, enters triage, and reps your flagged bait battleship right away, the triage carrier draws a suspect flag itself and might not live to get out of triage.  It's an entertaining notion.  Even more entertaining, all the opposing fleet has to do to ensure that your triage carrier dies is make sure to get a point on him as he comes out of triage and keep it there.  The opposing fleet doesn't even need enough DPS to kill a triage carrier... they just have to hold the carrier and let the sentry guns do the work.

It opens up a new -- and to the hot-droppers, extremely unwelcome -- strategy for winning fights in low sec.

And that doesn't even count what happens if you dare drop supers in range of sentries.  If the sentries can kill a triage carrier in 4.5 minutes, how long to kill a Nyx or an Aeon?  Like I said, the hot-droppers aren't happy at all.

So, we'll see where this change goes, or if it goes anywhere.  Sayeth Greyscale:
This is a spitball idea that we shared with the CSM, not a final design.
In the meantime, the thread's up to 21 pages so far.

(1) And I remain, as ever, in bewildered awe that it's a guy whose name is Greyscale that seems to always be the one making such black-and-white changes.


  1. On top of all the reasons already mentioned, I will add another one, if smaller, that also upsets me. They keep saying Eve is more of a simulation than a game and all, unless... well, unless a dev decides it's not. Then they add whatever 5-minutes arbitrary change they can come up with.

    Greyscale is master on this: preventing others from in-space refitting by the mere act of locking them; a gun that increases damage over time (and, by the way, already ignores tracking); etc. These things just doesn't make any sense.

  2. Greyscale isn't the wall of unmitigated terrible I thought he was. Still as a customer my review is "Works well when under constant supervision and cornered like a rat in a trap."

  3. Good post. I guess it would seem that the only type of gatecamp affected would be the smartbombing variety (which is the only type I encounter at Amamake or Rancer.) I expect them, so I don't complain about them, and have been caught in them

    As for the carebear complaints ... did not consider the average non-smartbombing gatecamp will likely become more powerful through the use of tackling frigates on the gates.

  4. You have been watching too much BSG !

  5. A thought: What if the sentry guns adjusted their damage output to the ship type being targetted, so that no matter what ship, you always have 4.5 minutes after arriving on grid? (I'll be happy to handwave an RP lore explanation for this behavior!) In other words: even though the carrier next to you is about to explode, the gate guns will touch you only softly since you have just arrived on the grid.

    Another thought: What if the pool of the hardcore MMO players, who don't mind being ganked 7 minutes after they made an account, is limited? Based on that assumption, EVE needs to become nicer and friendlier towards new players, because all the hardcore players are already playing EVE, or have already moved on. I'm looking at it this way: lure new players in with a friendlier, more accessible gameplay; then teach them how EVE is meant to play. ...and then unleash them onto other games ;)

  6. I wonder what Greyscale means with "triage carrier. Cap recharge fit or burst tank fit? Slaved or not? A slaved bursttank Archon has about 1,965 million eHP. Even an unslaved cap-recharge Archon
    still has about 1 million eHP. Which means in the first 4 1/2 minutes, sentries will put out 3,7k - 7,2k average DPS. Considering that sentries will start with negligible dps, their dps around the 270sec mark will be significant higher, maybe something like 10k DPS if Greyscale wants to kill maxtank-Archons. And if you don't have triage, your fleet will be so screwed if a gatefight lasts longer than a couple of minutes. Because you'll need a hell lot of logis to rep against a few thousand sentry-dps and the dps of the enemy gang.

    But hey, Greyscale is lucky that there isn't something like a remote-repping eHP-heavy damage dealing carrier-doctrine, which can vastly outrep triage setups if gangsize increases and thus should have a lot less problems with Greyscale-sentries. Owait.

  7. A good software designer maybe a good game designer? Definitely not.

    I am not so sure this is a good trade-off.

  8. My own travels to lowsec tell me your assessment of the dangers there are wrong. Likewise, the gate-gun thing was clearly just something Greyscale was running up the flagpole to see who'd salute. When it was met with well-deserved criticism, it was taken off the table. NOTHING in those CSM minutes was written in stone, that much was made really clear. Fail. But take heart, you weren't the only one who failed to appreciate the spirit in which the gate-gun buff was offered.

  9. Woo... You're smart dude. I didn't manage to think those consequences through. Good thing the minutes tell us CCP/CSM actually reads ur stuff :-)

    There ARE other types of low sec life than the ones you list. It's pretty easy to "lay claim" to a low sec system, being that they're so loosely populated. I moved into Gerper, Mya is practially owned by The Establishment and the Basgerin Pirates. I think Elarel is the same. We get lots of noobs either having bewildered themselves in there more or less by accident or trying their luck at the higher rewards there. Sometimes a roaming small gang pops up and sometimes a WH opens where hoardes of big bad ships start running in and out. You can hunt and pop the easy targets, learn to live with your neighbours and make life sufficiently hard for random people entering system who you don't want to have stay there. Ratting anoms in between outsiders visiting keeps the ISK balance up.

    And regarding travel through low sec in light of the proposed changes, 3-4 of the good ol' Warp Core Stabs still oughta leave very decent gtfo chances (making sure to fly something that aligns faster than your average scripted HIC locks). Refit in station once you've arrived at your designated target system.

  10. im in a corp that often fights on gates, with or without GCC
    and i actually mean fight and not gank
    this change doesnt really worry me for my own sake, we will find other ways, we always do


    banning actual fights and encouraging ganks....
    well done....

    while i hate being hotdropped as much as the next guy this is not a good way to get rid of them
    i really do hope they think this over a couple more times

  11. Not keen on this as a can flippee. If I grab my ore back, I get flagged to everyone, not just the flipper and their corp, AND have to deal with gate guns.

    1. Unless they make it 'ok' to steal from suspects. But you probably have a valid point.

  12. Both sides complaining? Then its probably a change for the better. Certainly looks good to me, much better than the current system. Will result in gatecamps being a lot more rounded, rather than relying on smartbombing battleships.

  13. This change will murder FW for a similar reason towhat you described about triage carriers. Most FW pilots are -5, so the logi takes GCC/"Suspect" when they remote-repair. Today, they take gate guns, which is annoying but acceptable. Under the new system, the logi won't be able to tank the guns for more than a minute or so which is way too short for the fight. This means FW fleets essentially will no longer be able to use logi.

    1. True. But go further in the thought process.

      Why do you need logi?
      Cuz they have logi.
      If neither of you can have Logi, then why do you need Logi?

      Stop thinking about what you can't use and rejoice at the fact that those of us that can fly Logi won't be forced to anymore. Our LOGI CHAINS ARE BROKEN (Guardian/Basi joke intended). We are free.

  14. You're wrong about people not getting blown up in low sec. Everything, even complete noob figates with one day old pilots and no cargo gets blown up in gatecamps and random encounters.

    You are however right about the probability of meeting anyone being low as long as you stay out of FW and border systems.

    I mean, gatecamps are always set up on relatively popular routes and if you avoid those jumps, stay out of FW and popular mission systems then you'll probably never meet anyone in low-sec.

    But if you do meet someone, you're going to be attacked 95% of the times.

  15. i think this was a lead balloon the minute they brought it up. can you see this happening at all? I mean think of the opportunities to point a pirate on a gate and keep them pointed juuuuust long enough for the gate guns to pop him.

    Oh, and i think your "EVE players are risk averse by their nature" comment paints are rather cynical picture. you know, we're not ALL whiny carebears or griefers. I think you've hung around the forums too much. Be like us and only read blogs. lol

  16. as for the can flipping...now that the patch has arrived for barges with internal jetcans we'll see less interest from the carebears and more focus on 'can baiting' (and the rather rare instances of "1v1" where logi pilots are a dime a dozen in hub systems)

    it'll be interesting to see the changes...i'll be VERY interested if RR now means aggression flag (preventing jump.)
    I'm fascinated by the mechanic that allows me, as a logi pilot, to continue to rep people engaged in combat - who themselves cannot jump while their pvp timer prevents that - but i can jump any darn time i feel like it as long as i keep my combat/ew drones. (yes, i know if they rep GCC, logi will share the gcc)

  17. To me, this looks like CCP wanted to tick the box "We did something for low sec.". Even the way it was described in the minutes sounds more like putting an idea on the table to see who cares about it.
    Hopefully this was just a way to see who's interested in low sec.

  18. When I think of all those goodfights we've had with the militia's, that we just would not be able to have going forward, I can't help but hate on this idea.

    Lowsec is terrible, this would just make it worse.

    Now, if we want to fight, we jump into their fleet, and I guess warp to planet 1. Maybe then set our pvp flag? Gee Eff.

  19. I've lived in lowsec for the last 3 years straight and I can tell you 90%+ fights happen at the gate, only fights that don't are the accaisional missioners getting screwed and frigate 1v1's.

    Also how do you kill a freighter in a 5 man BC gang in 4.5 minutes?? Put simple you can't, they will be massively invulnerable, terrible terrible idea from greyfail


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