Monday, August 29, 2016

What's Next?

CCP finally announced more details about the changes to command links today and come November a major gaping wound in EVE's PvP gameplay will be addressed as links become a more interactive and dynamic mechanic.

Once this change is in place it will mark the end of the old era as part of a series of changes that have each modified how the game is played:

- tiericide - made swathes of previously useless ships earn a role in combat and codified the Combat, Attack, and Support designations
- micro jump drives and field generators - expanded the mobility of ships on the grid and opened up new attack vectors for fleets
- Phoebe jump changes - increased the prevalence of small capital operations as the threat of immediate hotdrop by superior forces diminished, plus the advent of capitals using gates gives more tactical options and interaction opportunities
- new modules - heavy stasis grapplers, ancillary shield boosters and armour repairers, reactive armour hardeners, etc
- new ships - Navy Ewar frigs, Tech I and II logi frigs, command destroyers

Indeed, over the last few years the game has slowly but radically changed. The big question is, what's the next big change to come to PvP on a grid near you?

Here are some of my ideas.

1) Static Deployable Defenses - deployables, like Mobile Scan Inhibitors and Cyno Jammers, give players some ability to alter the terrain of the battlefield, and I think CCP should concentrate more on similar temporary deployable that have more direct impact. Defense platforms with weapons or neutralizers or webbers or disruptors or Ewar...

2) Space Weather - I think we need some random elements that pilots need to take into account, liek meteor showers that randomly deplete armour, dust clouds that impact targeting range and speed, asteroids that block weapons fire, solar flares that impact shields, etc

3) Assault Carriers. No, I won't let it go.

What are your ideas for the future of the space battlefield?

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

On Grid Boosting - Anticipation

I'm looking forward to the advent this fall of on grid boosting. I've advocated the removal of off-grid boosting many times in the past. While I'm sympathetic to the coordination issues that the new mechanics are going to introduce over the current boost-and-forget method, I really think the change is for the best in the long term interests of the game.

I'm most excited to experiment with new fittings and fleet roles to see how we can more easily integrate boosting into our gangs and fleets. Already command destroyers feature quite prominently due to their dual boosting/micro jump field abilities and I hold out hope that the com and ships will get a serious rebalancing pass as part of the boosting changes, or soon after. At the very least, a boosting Myrmidon supporting a Vexor fleet would be awesome, but I look forward to the Megathron fleet supported by a fearsome Eos command ship.

Best of all, it leaves me hope that a Flag ship class could arrive, Tech II versions of the Rokh/Hyperion/Abaddon/Maelstrom, with extra bonuses to boosting range and duration perhaps. I'd buy that for a dollar! (Or a billion).

This fall and winter promise to be very interesting...

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Bigger Is Better

(... on the killboard at least.)

One of the advantages of joining in with larger Gallente Militia fleets is that we get to fly big battleships in fleets that have a chance to score some pretty sweet kills: Nagflar and a bunch of Megathrons and Rattlesnakes in July for example, or a Moros last weekend.

Aideron has often steered clear of using battleships in the past for several reasons. First, our recruitment welcomes lower skill point and newer players so the ability to fit and fly a battleship in a fleet can be hit or miss. Secondly, our numbers are in the mid teens most of the time which translates to about 8-9 battleships with logi, large enough to prompt a response but not large enough to appropriately handle the response our known enemies can muster. Third, we have almost zero capital experience so escalating a battleship fight to FAXes and dreads is questionable at best, doomed at worst. And fourth, we lack FCs with experience in battleship-capital-triage warfare.

So joining GalMil fleets solves all of those issues: our pilots that can fly battleships add to the fleet numbers while less skilled pilots fly suppport/tackle, the fleet is larger and more on par with enemy fleet sizes, they have experience using capitals, and FCs willing and able to handle that mess. Plus being in these fleets gives our pilots experience in this direction and perhaps more willingness to try these things out.

On that last point, my personal concern is figuring out how to manage yet another ball in the air in terms of capital assets and their status while still managing calling targets, maneuvering fleet, worrying about logi, watching for incoming enemy reinforcements (more DPS ships, EWAR, command destroyers, neut ships, etc). At some point delegation plays into the mix here, and I need to wrap my head around what needs to be delegated and what needs direct management. I *think* I know but I need to do to be sure I suspect, I just dread the thought of getting some capitals whelped in the process of learning.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Aideron Robotics Evolution

About 2 years ago Aideron Robotics moved from the then capital system of Gallente Militia, Nennamailia in Black Rise region, to Heydieles in Essence region (and later to next door to Fliet), to work on developing the corporation in terms of identity and membership.

Over the intervening time we've had some membership fluctuations, some wins, some losses, but overall we were successful in establishing a unique corp culture and relationship with the rest of Gallente Militia and other low sec entities.

When the Gallente Militia Civil War started this past year we were able to leverage that unique position to remain friendly with both sides and keep neutral, hopefully providing some use as a friendly go between for the two camps to remind them that Caldari Militia is always the ultimate threat.

This summer we looked at our current state and we felt we needed to expand beyond our comfort zone of frigates, destroyers, and cruisers and look into integrating with the larger Gallente Militia culture. Part of this is because our members have matured and want to explore larger fights against more dangerous enemies than we alone can face, and part is because the miltia has thinned down due to the stagnant state of faction warfare and our presence in bolstering fleets can be more acutely felt.

The result this summer has been a few instances where Aideron pilots have joined a forming Gallente Militia fleet and doubled its size, allowing some amazing fights against Cal Mil and pirates that otherwise would not have happened with battlecruisers and battleships. These victories and experience work into a positive feedback loop where our pilots want to join more fleets and increase enthusiasm for other pilots.

The next step for Aideron is to develop our own Fleet Commanders in these larger doctrines and work with the leadership of the larger Gal Mil to support and lead more fleets. That involves me getting out of my small fleet comfort zone and getting more bold but I feel up to the challenge.

In other news, Aideron Robotics is recruiting so if you are interested in PvP in low sec as part of Gallente Militia, check us out on the web and in game in the "Aideron Robotics" public channel.

Monday, August 15, 2016

My Problem With the Alliance Tournament

I was back from my vacation in the Canadian Wilderness last night and ran a very enjoyable fleet in EVE, followed by a quick game of Overwatch before bed. I bring that up because I've been thinking about the two games a lot recently.

I picked up a single Overwatch podcast to listen to, Overchat, and I enjoy it even though it spends a lot of time talking about the E-sports scene and the teams that compete. Meanwhile in EVE podcasts there have been discussions about the upcoming alliance tournament and the teams and rule sets and etc... and I couldn't care less.

"What's wrong with me?" I asked. My casual play in both games means I will never participate at the level of either the Alliance tournament in EVE or Overwatch tournaments, yet discussions of the former bores me to tears while the latter I can enjoy.

After some pondering I hit upon the answer.

In the Overwatch if someone describes a high level competitive match to me I know what they are talking about because although I play the same game at a lower casual level it has overall the same basic mechanics and strategies for the most part. I can never be that good but I can appreciate what they are doing that is so good.

In EVE, the Alliance tournament is divorced from the gameplay we experience on a daily basis. In almost 10 years of playing I've never encountered a perfectly balanced 10 v 10 battle with matching ship points and restrictions and bans and an equal start with opponents that don't try to flee. The Alliance tournament setup is not EVE, its an arena game using EVE mechanics. Since I don't have personal experience with that gameplay, I have trouble following its descriptions in podcasts and visualizing it and thus caring about it. On the other hand, someone describing an normal engagement is far more enjoyable because I've been in plenty of small and medium and large scale combat.

Since the tournament use CCP only tools and environments, players can only approximate the tournaments themselves and then only with large amounts of effort. Because of this, I'll probably never get to dip my toe in and a facet of EVE gameplay is lost to me and others like me.

I've argued for CCP developing some sort of arena gameplay for EVE in the past and I still think its true, but I understand this is my problem with interest in the Alliance Tournament and CCP has decided to not pursue that avenue.

Thursday, August 04, 2016

Moving Cap Production to On Demand

The recent slowdown in Moros sales took a lot of enthusiasm out of my cap production efforts, especially after I saw how easy and profitable Astrahus production was in comparison. If cap production could be done in high sec, the effort would be a fraction of it currently is with it requiring multiple jump freighter jumps into low sec per cap.

With that in mind, I decided to close down Ostingele operations and move all the blueprints and ships closer to home in Essence region where I only plan to build caps on demand for friends and allies for the time being. Astrahus production has also slowed due to the market being flooded with the damn thing and making selling them difficult, albeit still pretty profitable.

The main focus of Project Vulcan is to sit back and prepare for the Industrial arrays that are coming in the winter (hopefully). I'm projecting that the blueprint original costs for the smallest one will be comparable to the Astrahus citadel blueprint and that the production costs of the array will be similar as well. I made a very nice profit on the Astrahus in that first week so I think I can repeat that performance and do even better this time.

The big losers in this re-focusing are my investors who are not seeing the usual dividends flowing in from sales. I hope they can understand that some projects take time to bear fruit, and they can always sell the shares back to me if they want to reinvest somewhere else; I'm easy that way.

* * * * *

Blog Housekeeping Note: I will be on vacation next week so the blog will have its usual summer shutdown from now until I get back on August 15th.

Fly safe!

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

The Demotion of Carriers

Recently its become a thing where carriers are going out with sub cap fleets for smaller scale operations, acting as extra muscle in fights. Sometimes the fights escalate into Dreadnoughts and FAX machines, but many times the carriers are mostly unsupported except for the usual Logistic cruisers and the rest of the fleet. I wanted to get in on the action so I took my Thanatos out in a GalMil fleet and while I didn't get to use my fighters I did apply some energy neutralizers to one lone Ferox caught out of position.

I find it very interesting stepping back and looking at this evolution of Carriers. They used to represent a massive jump in power and cost over battleships but now the jump is definitely a lot less severe. With the right fitting and rigs carriers approach heavily tanked battleships in align time and warp speed, and since they can use stargates they can travel with the sub caps and not slow the fleet down appreciably. In exchange, they provide long range heavy hitting firepower.

Indeed, even in space the models of the carriers are barely a few percentage points larger than the battleships they now find themselves in the company of. It feels like CCP took the backdoor to the Assault Carrier idea I've floated a couple times.

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