Saturday, November 7, 2009

Dr. :cripes:love, Or: How I Learned To Hate Dominion

(NOTE: When I say 0.0 in this post assume I mean Conquerable, because there are several points that don't apply to NPC 0.0)

Ok so when I was in Iceland doing the whole EVE-TV thing for the Alliance Tournament at one point I said that people who say CCP doesn't play their own game are idiots and that they really do know what's up.

Apparently I was totally wrong, because I have read the latest Dominion Dev blog.

If you haven't read it, here's a link.

To summarize:
  • Cost of space ownership is calculated by per-day upkeep costs for what you have in said space.
  • Upkeep bills are paid every 2 weeks.
  • It is going to cost an absolute shitload to own any amount of systems over maybe half a dozen if they have any reasonable infrastructure.
  • If for whatever reason you do not/cannot pay your bill you lose sov.
  • Sov levels now run from 1 to 100 days to get from Level 1 to 5, and affect the upgrades you can put in your space
  • Upgrades are totally useless save one, which would quickly become useless.

First off, I feel like I should address a fundamental misunderstanding of why 0.0 alliances each control 1+ region. IT IS NOT JUST BECAUSE WE FEEL LIKE IT. Anybody who thinks this is an idiot who has never, ever had to run more than a single POS for a week. Running the Goonswarm POS behemoth costs billions of ISK per month and requires hours upon hours of labor to get the fuel moved. And that's in a pair of regions literally 1 jump out of Empire. We would love to be able to just live in 1 system, but it's totally impossible.

Why is there a little yellow dot in pretty much every system in Delve, even if there's naught but a small Gallente POS some guy uses as a safespot for his ratting Raven? Because CCP incentivized getting sov for even trivial bullshit. POSes with sov burn less fuel which means less costs and less logistics trips. That's why everybody has sov everywhere.

Why Can't 0.0 Alliances Live In One Constellation Each?

Because any 0.0 alliance has more than 4 people is the short answer. The long answer is that 0.0 space simply doesn't support more than a few people per solar system. Ratting is by far the most popular way to make money on an individual level in 0.0, and to make any reasonable ISK you need a system of about 8-10+ belts all to yourself for several hours. This is so that you can setup chains in the belts and actually make ISK rather than pull in 100k every time that triple BC spawn comes back in the one belt you get.

This is ignoring the inherent value differences between regions. In Delve and Fountain, all you need to look at is belt count for a system. Everywhere else you have to look at belt count and Truesec, a totally static value that pretty much singlehandedly determines system value. Truesec determines the maximum value of the belt rats which will spawn, which in turn determines the maximum amount of ISK per belt you can make. The Providence region has awful, awful truesec, which leads to awful rats. Regions such as Scalding Pass, Detorid and Feythabolis have systems that run the gamut from -1.0 (best Truesec) to -0.1 (worst Truesec.) There is no reason to ever rat in a system with terrible Truesec if you have access to better ones.

So Then Why Not Just Claim The Good Systems?

Because first of all, they can only hold a few people making money (more if you're mining but that's totally worthless and I'll address it later on.) Second, because they don't all have stations in them. Third, because you need to be able to move between them.

The first point means you need to hold enough systems to keep your members in ISK. Sure there are lots of ways to make ISK in EVE, but none have the same Effort:ISK ratio of ratting. It's just hop in ship, warp to belt, shoot things at stuff.

The second point is a strategic one. Say you have a constellation with 5 systems. 3 of them are Truesec -0.8, one is -1.0 and one is -0.1. Ideally, you'd just need to live in the non-0.1 system and roll around in your ISK and faction/officer modules. But wait! That -0.1 system has a station in it. You now must own that system. You must control that station so that you simple have a base to dock up and buy/sell things, and you need to deny that station to hostile entities who would love to move in and then come gank you mercilessly in your wonderful ratting systems. It's also worth noting that this constellation would be considered goddamned fantastic and people would love to live in it and I'm pretty sure nothing like this exists anywhere in EVE.

The third point is the constant thorn in the side of every 0.0 pilot, corporation and alliance: LOGISTICS. Yeah, your space is great and the rats keep self-destructing themselves as soon as you warp into a belt, but what happens when you run out of missiles? You need more, so you need to import more. How do you import more? You either buy them off of somebody else that imports them or you go to Empire and buy them yourself. Every single 0.0 Alliance wants to extend their space to the doorstep of Empire, because it makes life so. Much. Easier. For everybody. At the very least you need to be blue to the people between you and Empire, which is why Period Basis is such a terrible place to live if you're not on good terms with the people in Delve and Querious. To keep a good logistics network you need jump bridges linking major hubs of activity to the Empire entry point, necessitating taking sov in plenty of systems where the only towers in the system host the bridges themselves.

What Does This Have To Do With Dominion?

Well, CCP explicitly stated that they want to shrink space Empires. Originally they said this would be achieved by making it so that alliances don't have to hold so much space to function. Right off the bat this would mean people would mainly move towards Empire (remember all that Logistics stuff I was talking about?) meaning that the outer reaches of 0.0 would be empty and nobody new could move in anyway because the Empire access would be locked down by the current occupants. But that last point is neither here nor there.

Lets look at how CCP plans to increase the capacity of your average 0.0 system. Here are the current upgrades that are mentioned in the dev blog:
  • Pirate Magnets - add two additional guaranteed anomalies per level to your solar system

  • Ore Prospecting Array - adds one additional guaranteed hidden asteroid site per level to your solar system

  • Entrapment - increase the chance significantly of a DED complex being located in the depths of your solar system

  • Survey Networks - increase the chance significantly of mini-profession sites being located within your solar system

  • Quantum Flux Generator - increase the chance significantly of a wormhole being discovered within your solar system to w-space.

Now let me give you a quick rundown of the relative worth of these upgrades:
  • Pirate Magnets - Totally worthless. Soundwave says that the higher end Anomalies are equal to an L4 mission, which may be true, but I'm yet to ever see one of these and the real worth of L4s is in the LP anyway, something CCP hasn't seemed to yet grasp.

  • Ore Prospecting Array - Yeah I'll mine in 0.0 sure.

  • Entrapment - This one is actually worth something. For 2 weeks, that is, before the market gets totally flooded with Plex loot driving the price through the floor and totally ruining it (sup Datacores.)

  • Survey Networks - Mini-profession sites are worth less than anomalies except in 1 or 2 exceedingly rare cases, which will become just as worthless if they start spawning more due to flooding the market.

  • Quantum Flux Generator - The prices of T3 stuff is dropping like a rock. The best way to make money in W-space is to gank somebody's officer fit Nightmare and sell the loot off.

So Where Does This Leave Everybody In Dominion?

What CCP is actually doing with Dominion as it stands is making Space Empires shrink by making it so totally economically unfeasible to hold them that people will have no choice but to prune off massive chunks of space.

At the same time they are making space exponentially more expensive to hold, they are cutting the main artery of Alliance income: R64s. Yes, they are massively unbalanced but they are a massive focal point for combat in every single 0.0 campaign. They're also how Alliances kept themselves solvent and provided for their members.

Could Goonswarm or AAA or Atlas continue to hold all of their space if everybody rats constantly and they set a 90% tax rate? Probably.

Would they have any members within a week? Probably not.

In addition, with CCP pushing people to look for exploration sites, they're further cutting off Alliance income because loot from Plexes and W-space and Anomalies cannot be taxed.

You Can't Fight In Here! This Is The War Room!

That header has nothing to do with this paragraph I just wanted another Strangelove reference. The point of this whole :words: post has been to try to explain how CCP still completely misunderstands why 0.0 Alliances operate the way they do, along with how to incentivize 0.0 space. What is especially alarming is that CCP are just releasing this Devblog now, a month before Dominion is supposed to hit, and seem to already have it in their minds that this is how it's going to be going forward, with practically no testing by actual players or 0.0 inhabitants.

That last bit is actually it's own post about SiSi that I'm thinking of writing in the next week or so.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Trzzope and Cahnge

Ok now for a substantive post about internet spaceship crap.

First off, since last cycle I've had my internet spaceship bona fides confirmed by CCP, as I was chosen to be an Expert commentator for the 7th Alliance Tournament. You can find all of the videos at CCP's Youtube channel. When I wasn't confusing Absolutions for Damnations and Thoraxes for Ruptures, I was busy talking shop with the fine people of CCP and I think even though we weren't there for the purpose of game changes, there was a good exchange of ideas between us and the Devs.

The timing of the elections this year is a little sub-optimal I'd say, because we don't know the specifics of Dominion, especially the Sov changes. As I said previously, and this hasn't changed, my focus is on 0.0 space and all that comes with it. While information has been becoming more and more available, especially since Fanfest and the SiSi mirrors, there are obviously going to be things introduced and tweaked that will need to be looked at again and changed.

Planetary interaction is also going to be the next big thing in EVE, and as it's still in the preliminary planning stages, player input is going to be crucial to getting it to a point where people like it and want to take part in the wholesale strip mining of planets.

Aside from that, I'm going to bring up the points from my last run that still haven't been addressed:
  • As always, Assault Frigates are still by and large useless. They're relegated to gimmick ships for rich people to fuck around in, and maybe it's just the GoonFleet in me, but I like to see Frigates out there doing useful things. They should at least get a clearly defined role. If they're meant for PvE give them some kind of tanking bonuses aside from the resistances, etc. An Afterburner speed boost bonus has been proposed for AFs, but it may actually make them too good (madness!) so I'd like to explore the issue some more.
  • Every Race should get a Sniping Battleship. I would propose it be the Megathron for Gallente and either the Maelstrom or Tempest for Minmatar. I'd like to see the Mega lose the Tracking and Tempest lose the ROF bonuses in favor of 10% optimal. You can already see that T2 sniping fleets are going very, very hard towards being pretty much only Apocs and Rokhs, and as CCP constantly says, that's boring and boring is the enemy of good gaming. At the very least the Tempest needs something, which brings me to...
  • Minmatar Battleships need a very serious looking over. I'm not a Minmatar BS pilot, but there's a reason for that. The Typhoon is probably alright, although I think it should be given a little more focus in terms of weapons and slots and whatnot. The Tempest and Maelstrom need serious reconsidering though. If the Tempest got an Optimal bonus, I'd like to see the Maelstrom get a little bit of a mass reduction or speed increase to make it a more viable AC boat, bringing it more in line with the Hyperion. If the Maelstrom got an Optimal bonus in lieu of the Shield Boost bonus, I think it would greatly help the Minmatar BS selection with just that one simple change. CCP has said they are changing Projectile weapons, but even with the proposed changes, I think Minmatar BSes could still use some love.
  • POS Setup is a useless time sink that is unreasonably stupid. There is a whole plethora of logistics related stuff to bring up, but this is one that affects potentially everybody. There's no reason that you shouldn't let one person anchor/online one module each, or at least let a POS handle anchoring one mod and online another at the same time. Cutting the time for mods to anchor/online/offline/unanchor was a step in the right direction, but there is still more to be done.
  • Minmatar and Gallente Recon Ships is one I almost forgot because I gave up on them after the speed nerf. They really need something. I'd like to see a role bonus for the Minmatar ones that made them webbing death machines again, and I'd like to see the Arazu/Lachesis dampening bonuses turned up so that ECM isn't the only form of EW being used (which is what the ECM nerf was explicitly looking to do away with.) At Fanfest these issues were specifically brought up, so they are certainly on CCP's radar. Now it's just a matter of getting it done. NOTE: I would not push for nor accept another ECM nerf as a solution to this problem.
  • The Eos needs another look too. Right now, given the drone bandwidth it has, the Drone Bay size bonus is pointless. I'd like to see it turned into a heavy drone boat again, at the expense of turrets. This would bring it more in line with the other Gallente T2 ships, which are split between Turret-based and Drone-based. This is a rather low-priority issue, but a lot of Gallente pilots seem to feel passionate about it (probably because of the stacks of Eos they bought back in the day.)
  • A fresh look at the Bounty system. I read somewhere the idea that CONCORD could sell "Bounty Hunter Licenses" which would allow people to shoot those with bounties even in hi-sec. I think this is a fantastic idea, and the system for administering them could be borrowed from the way wardecs work. There has been no progress on this that I've heard about.
One issue that I said last cycle was a "piddling" little gripe I'm upgrading to "this needs to be fixed" because I've heard a lot of people bitching about it:

  • Asteroid hit detection is totally screwed. The bounding box for asteroids is enormous, much bigger than the actual model and it makes navigating asteroid fields almost impossible without running into an invisible wall and bouncing around until you find the magical path back out. I actually assumed this would have been fixed long ago, but the problem is still there and it's still a stupid problem.
My last pet issue which is still piddling in the larger sense but is nonetheless very important:
  • The Zealot should be red. Seriously, imagine that, it would be awesome. Seriously.
That's all for now. I've been playing on SiSi a good amount over the past couple of weeks, so I'm hoping to stay abreast of the changes they're still patching in. Also getting together with other GF Directors and alphaing Titans is great fun. Even if you do it to an ISD Titan and get your ass teleported to Cobalt Edge.

As my last point, I'd like to repeat my closer from last CSM cycle: I'm very good at taking input, filtering out the chaff and building on good ideas. EVE has an enormous playerbase and obviously not everybody will want to be on the CSM. That doesn't mean they don't have a fantastic idea that will revolutionize the way we play the game. If I were on the CSM I would look at as much of the player input as I could and help to develop good ideas and give them the time and energy they require.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

It's that time of year again

I'm putting myself in the running again. I haven't really put together a concrete platform yet, I'll make that post within a week probably.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

An EVE Mail I Just Recieved

Title: an idea

2009.04.28 14:08
Religion in EVE?

Well, that sounds weird when you first hear it, doesn't it? But the more I think about it, the more I think that this is a great idea.

First you should forget what you consider as religion. For I am not talking about something that makes you believe stuff that you don’t want to. Or “do goody good”-religion.

No. What I mean is massive space religions, with bloody sacrifices to gods whom are merciless rulers of the galaxy, and religious leaders who have more power than those who lead the Empires. And all this run by players.

Religion made as everyday as checking the prices in the market. When starting to your daily tasks, you would first make a sacrifice, before going to war, or mining, or whatever. Immense sacrifices made by alliances to guarantee victory over one another, and of course religious wars.

This would be never seen before in any other game, and it would bring totally new politics to the Eve-universe.
Lady D
My question to Lady D is, how is this different from Alliances already?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Trouble With Minmatar

In my original platform post I said that Minmatar BSes need a serious looking over, and I'd like to expand that now to also include the Naglfar.

What's wrong with the Naglfar?

Well, let me lay out its current stats:

High Slots: 5
Mid Slots: 5
Low Slots: 6

Turret Slots: 2
Launcher Slots: 2

Power Output: 625000 MW (781250 with Engineering V)
CPU Output: 700 tf (875 with Electronics V)

For comparison, the Raven has a CPU Output of 700 tf, and the Phoenix of 875 tf.

Ok, so already you should be able to identify some issues here. The Naglfar has split weapon systems, meaning that you need twice as many lows for damage mods as the other dreads do. If you want to use 2 mods for each weapon type, you're only left with 2 lows, which forces you to shield tank. But now you have only 5 mids and 2 lows to fit said tank, meaning unless you use expensive faction stuff, you're filling those 2 spare lows with Co-Processor IIs to get enough CPU. Remember, you've got the same CPU as a BS but need to fit capital-sized gear on it.

So now you have all of your lows filled and 5 slots for a shield tank. Since you're in a T1 Minmatar ship you don't get the awesome base shield resists, so you need to fit an EM Hardener, so you have 3 slots left to beef up your tank with (remember you also need to fit the booster.) In the end, you tank about 2205 dps (EFT sustained) with all skills at V, and you do it for 2m 29s (assuming 3x CCC I rigs.) A Phoenix with an identical midslot layout tanks 4722 dps (EFT sustained) for 3m 41s, while also dealing roughly 3200 dps.

With 2 of each damage mod you do 3670 dps using EMP XL ammo, limiting your optimal to 40km. The DPS drops to around 2500 if you armor tank since you're losing your damage mods.

Armor tanking, you can perma-tank 7235 dps, which is actually respectable, and more than an identically fit Moros. However, that Moros does almost 1000 more DPS than you (assuming Bouncer I sentry drones, which for the purposes of this comparison is reasonable.) It also only tanks 200 less dps, and if it drops its damage mod for another tanking mod, will out-tank your Naglfar by over 1000 dps and still dealing over 200 dps more.

tl;dr: The Naglfar as a shield tanking Dread is, to put it mildly, underwhelming. While the DPS is respectable (that is to say, in line with other turret Dreads), its tank leaves much to be desired. When Armor tanking, the Naglfar can put up a rather stiff, sustainable tank, but its DPS becomes rather anemic. To put it succintly, the Naglfar has to decide between DPS or Tank, and whiever it chooses will still be lacking. No other racial Dreadnought (especially not the Phoenix) has to make the same decision.

How to fix it:

First of all, I think that the Naglfar should be a shield-tanking ship. I think CCP made a mistake by turing the Nidhoggur into an armor-tanking ship because it leaves the Chimera as the only shield-tanking carrier. Turning the Naglfar into a proper shield tanking ship only requires a couple of things:
  • More CPU
  • More Mid Slots
The easiest "fix" would be to change the Naglfar's slot layout to 5/7/5 and boost the CPU to something closer to 875. This would allow it to fit a tank similar to the Phoenix, able to tank closer to 3000 dps rather than 2000.

A more drastic "fix" would be to turn the Naglfar into a one-weapon type Dread, but I think this would make them pretty boring.

Disclaimer: I have never flown a Dread, so my numbers may be way off because they are based on hideous fits. If you see that everything here is way off, let me know.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

New New ECM Changes

Apparently, due to the public outcry, CCP has once again changed their ECM changes. From CCP Chronotis:

The skill bonuses and other changes to the caldari recons will then look like this:

Caldari Cruiser Skill Bonus:
  • 5% Bonus to Light & Heavy Missile Velocity per level
  • 10% reduction in ECM Target Jammer capacitor use per Level

Recon Ships Skill Bonus:
  • 25% bonus to ECM Target Jammer strength per level
  • 5% bonus to heavy and light missile kinetic damage per level

Attribute Changes:
+25m3 drone bay
+25mbit drone bandwidth

Caldari Cruiser Skill Bonus:
  • 20% Bonus to ECM Target Jammer Optimal Range per level
  • 5% Bonus to Medium Hybrid Optimal Range per level

Recon Ships Skill Bonus:
  • 20% bonus to ECM Target Jammer strength per level
  • -96% to -100% reduction in Cloaking Device CPU use per level

Attribute Changes:
+1 turret hardpoint / -1 launcher hardpoint

The scorpion remains unchanged from the original suggestion for now. Whilst this change would make them less usual at long range jamming, they can still jam out to ~140km using their falloff (setup for ECM range) so whilst their role in the long range scenario is reduced, their new short range scenario is much better.

The Widow:
Forgot to mention it would be getting an increase in ECM strength bonus same as the scorpion. Will make a separate post on black ops themselves.

I am pretty alright with these changes as laid out, although I would still like to see the Scorpion retain some kind of range bonus.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

New Issues

Patch notes for Apocrypha 1.02 include the following, thankfully:
  • Updated the capital ship collision mechanic to lessen bumping issues currently being experienced by some players.
Hopefully this means an actual fix, and not just a lessening effect (80km instead of 100km is still broken.)

There's also this post by CCP Chronotis dealing with ECM. It's awful.

The proposed changes are:

Summary Falcon changes
  • ECM Strength Bonus increased from 20 to 25% per level
  • ECM Optimal Range Bonus removed (52km optimal / 81km falloff w/ 2*SDA IIs)
  • Increase in general manoeuvrability (might give agility bonus to it to replace the ECM optimal range bonus)
Summary Rook Changes
  • ECM strength bonus decreased to 15% per level
  • ECM Optimal Range bonus decreased to 15% per level (92km optimal / 81km falloff)
  • 5% Heavy/Heavy Assault missile velocity per recon ship level added (105km range with heavy missiles at max skills)
  • 25m3 drone bay / 25 mbit bandwidth added
Summary Scorpion Changes
  • Removed the ECM optimal range bonus
  • Increased the ECM strength bonus to 20% per level
  • Added a 5% RoF bonus to cruise & siege missile launchers per level.

Cutting the (unrigged) optimal for the Falcon and Scorpion to 50km will mean they simply will not be used outside of small gangs, and even there you will probably see them being dropped for Rooks. Chronotis also proposes that the Falcon changes will make it "
similar to the pilgrim in its role as a ECM brawler at shorter ranges." which ignores the fact that the Falcon does atrociously bad DPS, as compared to the Pilgrim which gets a drone damage bonus and have the unique ability to completely shut down any type of active tank. There's also the fact that Pilgrims are very seldom used now precisely because they need to get so close to their targets.

I do understand the rationale behind the change, as it brings the range on the Falcon/Rook more into line with the E-War bonused ranges of the other Recon ships, but as I said in my first posting outlining my platform, a hefty nerf to ECM is not the way to go about balancing E-War.

In all honesty I don't think that this change would horribly cripple the game, but I feel like it's another case of CCP going too far on a nerf, and not even considering buffing related options instead. They seem to be overlooking the fact that ECM is so prevalent because the other forms of E-War are so useless, as well as the fact that Caldari are the only race who get a T1 ship with E-War bonuses (Target Painting doesn't count because seriously, Target Painting.)

I'm not even going to really touch the Stealth Bomber "buff" laid out in this thread because nobody flies them and this change won't make any difference in that. In fact, I could see it being final nail in the Stealth Bomber's coffin.