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, November 30, 2012

Plastic wrap all the things!

CCP Greyscale really is my least favorite person at CCP.

He singularly evidences all the bad habits CCP shows collectively from time to time: his unflinching belief in his own :excellence:, his frequent pushing through of changes apparently without checking them with anyone, a tendency toward "CCP lazy mode" programming (simply deleting troublesome features instead of fixing them), tone-deafness and arrogance in his forum posts and dev blogs, and a strong tendency to double down on bad policies when challenged on them.  He also has one aspect all his own: a desire to go "all or nothing" when it comes to making changes, a true irony in someone whose CCP name is... you know... Greyscale.  I'm sure he's a lovely guy in real life, but in terms of CCP tendencies he's the total package.

It probably doesn't help that until recently, he was in the middle of every controversial change that CCP was making.  So it was probably a relief for him when someone else got technetium alchemy and he started working on less controversial changes.  Except that Greyscale seems to be making them controversial because :Greyscale:.

The latest example are the changes being made to ship Corporate Hangars in Retribution, talked about in today's dev-blog, along with a couple of surprise changes that seem to have been thrown in last-second.

Now I've written about this before and in general I think the changes are probably -- overall -- a net positive.  They're going to be a short-term and continuing annoyance, particularly to triage pilots like myself.  But over time, I could probably get over my annoyance and go on with my life if I wasn't punched in the face with the insufferable arrogance this dev-blog displays in part.  About the impact to veteran triage carrier pilots and Orca pilots, Greyscale has this to say:
We acknowledge this, and we understand that the changeover will be frustrating for some people, but we need to get the complexity of EVE under control and doing so is going to require functionality downgrades in certain areas. This is annoying but unavoidable.
Oh... I see.  This isn't CCP lazy mode.  This is removing unnecessary complexity from EVE Online.

Greyscale, come here a second.  I have something really important to tell you.  Come closer.  It's OK.  I just want to whisper it in your ear.


What.  A load.  Of crap!  I am 100% in favor of reducing unnecessary complexity from EVE Online, but to couch this change in those terms is disingenuous at best and flat-out deceitful at worst.  If you want to eliminate unnecessary complexity from the game, how about deleting attributes?  How about rebuilding the skill trees?  How about deleting jump clone timers?  How about letting me trash a Station Container I have in my own freakin' hangar instead of forcing me to wait three weeks for the audit log to clear?  How about nuking the whole damned corp management interface and rebuilding it?  How about letting us buy whole ship fittings at once on the market instead of piece by piece?  How about fixing the 50 or 60 annoying complexities that all EVE players are dealing with every single day?

By the time a player gets to triage carriers and Orcas, unnecessary complexities in EVE are such a way of life that we veteran players put them to work and use them.  So if you're going to go after unnecessary complexity, how about taking on the ones that are driving off subscribers?

Cough.  Sorry about that.  But yes, I do feel better now, thanks for asking.

Anyway, the dev-blog itself is mostly full of the changes we're already aware of, with a couple of nice improvements:
  • Freighters will have most of their special-case restrictions removed: they will now be able to perform cargo operations in space, including moving items into and out of containers, moving things to and from containers in space, and jettisoning items
  • We're removing the restriction on simultaneous users for *all* ship fitting arrays, both on ships and on starbases: an unlimited number of pilots will be able to refit at a single ship or structure
I like those.  Those, you can classify as removing unnecessary complexity from the game.  I also like the changes to POS shield passwords and audit log containers.  Those also qualify.  And the little buttons for "allow fleet usage" and "allow corp usage" for Ship Maintenance Bays and Fleet Hangars are also going to be quite good, and quite useful new features.

But that brings me to the two changes which are not so good in the aggregate: Orcas will now be completely cargo-scannable, and Blockade Runners will now be completely cargo-un-scannable.  Let's talk about the latter first.

As I've mentioned a time or two, with the massive increase of DPS and volley damage over the years, industrial ships and haulers of all kinds are now woefully under-tanked.  As a matter of fact, a single meta-fit Tornado with the proper mid- and low slots has a nearly 100% chance of locking and killing virtually any Blockade Runner in a single volley unless the BR pilot does absolutely everything right every single jump.  The level of high-sec security is irrelevant.  Not only will the gank suceed, but in terms of ISK efficiency, if all the Tornado pilot wishes to do is cause grief, a gank on even an empty Blockade Runner will result in a net positive ISK efficiency for the Tornado pilot if the Tornado is fit properly.  Anything that the BR is carrying will be pure gravy in terms of the ISK efficiency of the kill.  A similar relationship exists between BRs and a sufficient number of Catalysts to destroy one.

The only reasons that Blockade Runners aren't volleyed off the field routinely as they try to ply their trades is two-fold:
  1. half of all BR runs are generally empty ships; and,
  2. most gankers aren't looking to cause pure grief: they want to trade their security status for profit.
The gankers I know are religious about scanning their targets.  If they're going to gank someone, they want it to be a profitable gank and more so they want to "spend" their security status secure in the knowledge that they're getting something useful for their "investment."  They gank for a few weeks, then return to null and rat their security status back down, then they return to high-sec and the cycle begins again.  Each gank is a loss of a precious renewable commodity, but the commodity is flat-out annoying to renew so they don't want to gank for no good reason.

Knowing this as I do, when I'm running empty I often run my personal BR uncloaked through dangerous systems like Niarja and Uedama, and even more often, I let my empty BR sit aligning outside the Jita undock for several seconds again allowing myself to be scanned.  This reduces the danger that my BR pilot will be in later on in the pipes.  I get yellow-boxed, I sense a little remote disappointment and when the yellow boxes disappear I'm on my way.  It saves me time, it saves them time.

Greyscale appears to be taking that away.  Blapping BRs will now become a game of roulette where sometimes there are winners and sometimes there are losers, but over time, only the house is going to win consistently.  BR pilots are going to have move even empty BRs assuming that they can be blapped at any time.  Orcas being unscannable was no big deal because it required a very significant investment to gank an Orca.  Only the most serious were likely to try it, and they'd probably only do it with good intel on what was being hauled.  But ganking a Blockade Runner only requires a 90 million ISK or so investment in a game where the most veteran players and alliances are fabulously rich and fabulously bored.

So you can probably expect to see a lot more BR ganks in the future, and a lot of those ganks will be empty ships.

On the flip-side, Orcas will now be scannable, but Greyscale's dev-blog includes this little caveat:
 (We're not making any changes to plastic wrap right now, but it has significant technical issues which will likely see it being reworked at some point down the line.)
So on the bad-news side, your Orca Fleet Hangar contents will be scannable.  On the good-news side, you can go ahead and start putting the "plastic wrap" code to work to make yourself unscannable again.  Greyscale, you won't mind if we spend the next few months putting a little bit more stress on that code, right?  Here's how:
  1. Buy a large stock of either "compressive" or "non-compressive" cans and store them permanently in your Orca.
  2. Whenever you want to move something in your Orca, place it in these cans.
  3. Set up a Courier contract for these cans to your destination, either to an alt or a corp that you control.
  4. The Courier contract will result in a "plastic wrap" that will appear as an available contract for that alt or corp.
  5. Have someone accept the contract and place the plastic-wrapped cans back in your Orca.
  6. Deliver them to their intended destination and have the alt or corp accept delivery by right-clicking the plastic wrap (or just break the contract if you don't care).
While en route, your Orca cargo in these plastic-wrapped cans will be unscannable same as it was before Retribution.  Have fun with it: plastic wrap all the things!


  1. I guess someone had to go all exploitative on the issue of cargo visibility, and it is good to get these things out in the open, but damn, you sure know how to hit hard on the sore spot.

  2. OR just put shiny loot in the cargo of (or fitted on) an assembled ship in the ship maintenance bay.

    1. You can only have ammo (charges market group) in ships in a ship maintenance bay

    2. Bear in mind that a ship can't go into an Orca's ship maintenance bay if it has anything other than ammunition in its cargo hold...

  3. Plastic wrap helps but unfortunately most players wont bother with plastic wrap if the contents are not worth ganking.


    Even though it might still be a gamble, if you see a plastic wrap Orca, it probably means the player has something valuable to hide.

    1. The plastic wrap scan immunity is going to be removed in a future release/patch.

      That is what Greyscale was referring to, in the devblog. He considers it to be an unintentional and buggy game mechanic.

  4. In :shudder: Greyscale's defense, I think he ment code complexity, not gameplay complexity.

    1. Yes, that is my understanding also. But, that does not make it any better - it only means "lazy mode enabled" for the developers.

    2. And that's exactly his problem.

  5. I personally believe that there is no CCP Greyscale at all, its just a fake account to publish all the bad things or false decisions that CCP needs to publish - like the removement of many valuable collectors items earlier this year.

    And I agree to Anonymous on the plastic wrap cover .. if someone uses it, its valuable ;D

  6. Damn Jester - stop pulling your punches and tell us what you really think. Just kidding of course, I really hope you run for CSM. We really need someone on that board that will tell it like it is and keep us informed...

  7. Grayscale is an idiot. He also probably wants to make highsec a Wow-esque themepark. I have a feeling that is exactly what it would be if he thought he could get away with it. This is CCP not listening to players AGAIN. I'm utterly convinced he has not a single clue about EVE and has never actually logged in to the game.

    1. Absolutely not true.

      Greyscale did log in once, back in 2007 (or maybe it was 2006).

  8. Again people confuse 'Blockade Runners' with 'Deep Space Transports'. Only the non-cloaky transports will be unscannable. Viators et all are still scannable.

    1. Again people confuse 'Blockade Runners' with 'Deep Space Transports'. Only the cloaky transports will be unscannable. Occators et all [sic] are still scannable.

  9. You can easily get a 73,000 EHP full-passive tank on a Bustard by sacrificing only one low slot for a damage control. A max-damage Tornado does about 11,000 alpha. So it'd take between three and seven Tornadoes to alpha a blockade runner, depending on sec status and whether the gank squad can get a second volley off before the Bustard warps off. Figure a 300M investment at minimum. An Impel can get over 100,000 EHP, but at the cost of all of its low slots; but that's why armor-tanked Transports are a terrible idea for moving expensive high-volume stuff.

    High-value low-volume cargo is best moved either via xFrog or a nullified tech-3 anyway, not via Orca. That hasn't changed, and probably won't change anytime soon. If anything, it shows that CCP are actually trying to do something with the Blockade Runner class.

    1. A Bustard is a Deep Space Transport, no Blockade Runner, as are Impel, Occator and Mastodon.

      Blockade Runners are the Crane, Prorator, Viator and Prowlern, and they are about as sturdy as a wet sheet of paper in the middle of a november storm. They can, however, fit CovertOps Cloaking Devices, while Deep SPace Transports have the in my opinion absolutely useless +2 warpstrength rolebonus.

    2. Then there's even less reason to complain. The cloaky haulers have the align time of a covert ops frigate or less, and are about as easy to catch. If you're getting locked in one of them, you're either awfully unlucky or utterly incompetent.

      I assumed that the changes were to the deep space transports, because making blockade runners unscannable is pointless. It shouldn't be getting scanned in the first place.

  10. As a moderator of oneof the Major Incursion channels I've had in our MOTD warnings about the ORCA becomming scanable. I've been challenged aboutit a few times & am glad this blog spells it out in plainer detail but I'm sure its still goingto escape the notice of many.

  11. They really did give the wrong ship the right bonus, deep space transports should be the ship to be unscannable. The blockade runner has the cloak to keep their cargo secure, all this change does is paint a bulls-eye on every BR undocking from jita or flying through highsec.

    If I was in the room with CCP when they announced that change I would have to take my pants off and wear them on my head to match the stupidity of that decision.

  12. I don't really understand CCP's reasoning behind making BR's unscannable. They are already quite excellent ships. Their ugly, read-headed stepbrothers, the Deep Space Transports, are however in dire need of a buff. And unlike BR's they can be quite tanky (you can have an Impeal with 100k eHP if you want to, and I know at least one person who owned a slaved Impel, making it 146k eHP), so that gankers must put :effort: in their ganks.

    But hey, it's CCP "Combat refitting is EVIL!" Greyscale

  13. Ship high value small size stuff in an Orca?

    You're becoming such a veteran you're behind the times Ripard.

    Four words; Cloaky armour tanked Proteus.
    The amount of gankers that can organize enough fire power quickly to alpha one isn't that high, 260ishK EHP with 45ishK raw armour with silly resist (if you keep it fully passive and only t2), cloakywarp and considerably cheaper then an Orca to boot.

  14. ... On the flip-side, Orcas will now be unscannable ...

    Unscannable has to be scannable.

    ... then return to null and rat their security status back down ..

    You can only rat your security status up, not down.

  15. Just like a Frat boy at a Sorority Pledge dance DOUBLE WRAP YOUR THINGIES before going thru her Udema!!!

  16. Another very observant post by you sir.

    I think one of your statements is very telling and should be re-iterated: "in a game where the most veteran players and alliances are fabulously rich and fabulously bored."

    Now that goons have stood down from their last null sec make-work project, I can't even begin to fathom how much griefing is being ramped up in high sec with all the changes next week.

    We have not had a Burn Jita moment, or an ice interdiction for a few months. I am just imagining how every Red Frog freighter pilot will be bountied, how there will be fleets of Tornados and Coraxes sitting on the Jita undock nailing every BR coming and going.

    Yes, CCP really thinks through all their changes to game mechanics before implementing them.



  18. "... ganking a Blockade Runner only requires a 90 million ISK or so investment..."

    Er, I don't think so. A BR is pretty shoddy, tank-wise. Most BR fits (typically, with cargo expanders and rigs) can be easily ganked with a single dessie.

    And, I don't mean a 90M ISK dessie.... :)

  19. So, the devblog comment thread is loaded with posts suggesting that the unscannable feature belongs on the DST, rather than the BR.

    Yet, Greyscale has again chosen to ignore the players and is not responding at all to those posts.

    Yep, feels like we're back to the bad old CCP again....

  20. Blockade Runner change is just ridiculous. It makes playing Eve more tedious and a hassle. Same goes for the changes to the corp. hangars.

    I also loved Greyscale's response to a well thought out post giving examples of how this new corp hangar system sucked for cap pilots. He said "yeah sorry".

    His tone reminds me of how Zulu used to be before the community spanked him.

    Petition: change CCP Greyscale's name to CCP Tedious

  21. Jester...

    Jester wrote... "On the flip-side, Orcas will now be unscannable, but Greyscale's dev-blog includes this little caveat:"

    Don't you mean "Orcas will now be scannable," ?

    And I've met Greyscale. I'm not sure I would call him lovely. Pleasant is better. But sadly the dress you described does fit him.

  22. So, uh.... with all modules turned off, it has 16k EHP. 13.7k vs EMP, 19 vs Quake. All with a toon that has no shield skills (not even the skills necessary to fit it). That's well out of range of a solo Tornado. It's also easy to fit (I fit it up for an alt who doesn't need to waste SP on shield skills).

    Turn the modules on, and it's well out of range of 2 nados, and iffy for 3 (30.2k EHP vs EMP).

    Add Heat, and it's even better.

    I'm surprised at you Jester, you're making the same mistake the Miners did when they were whining about being killed by Solo catalysts.

    [Viator, Viator fit]
    Beta Reactor Control: Diagnostic System I
    Beta Reactor Control: Diagnostic System I
    Internal Force Field Array I

    Large Shield Extender II
    Adaptive Invulnerability Field II
    Domination EM Ward Field

    Covert Ops Cloaking Device II

    Medium Core Defense Field Extender I
    Medium Core Defense Field Extender I


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