Thursday, October 23, 2014

Clearing the Cache

Let's talk more about the dark side of Phoebe and the jump changes.

First, let's state the problem that plagues all competitive multiplayer games but open ended games like EVE the most, the n+1 problem:
All else being equal, the side with n resources is at a disadvantage to the side with n+1 resources. 
In EVE, n can refer to the amount of ISK, skill points, friends, experience, etc. Basically, there is always an advantage to have more of things available to you than your opponents. This is a fact of gaming life. Games try to address some of this with caps on players, points, ship types, or diminishing returns on adding more of something, and so on as in tournaments so that what is being measured in the competition is player skill and ability as much as possible. But in the wild, so to speak, there are no effect limits on collecting these resources and hence why so much paper is spent discussing how to give "the little guy", i.e. the side on the lower end of the n+1 problem, the ability to punch up against the "big guy".

A common refrain out of null sec when new changes are announced that they don't like is always "this change benefits the big coalitions more than the little guys you want to balkanize null sec with because they have more of [insert specific resource here]". Well, no kidding! The larger and more organized group will ALWAYS have an advantage over the smaller and less organized groups unless the former choose not to take it. This is not a surprise. The goal of changes should be to give so many decisions and actions for large groups to take that they cannot press the advantage in all areas at the same time.

This is what the jump ship and fatigue changes in Phoebe are trying to do: limit power projection of all capital fleets AND force large coalitions to make choices about how they use their n+1 advantage to the best effect, hopefully leaving opportunities open for smaller groups to gain footholds in the game. Right now, there is no choice to be made when faced with the question of smashing a smaller group because of the ease of tactical and strategic deployment of capitals, or rather the only choice is "do I feel like it?" and that's not a good gameplay design.

So we get Phoebe. And one of the responses is "well, the large capital using coalitions will just put caches of capital ships all over the galaxy and use jump clones or interceptors to get to them when needed".

Yes, yes they will.

The groups we are talking about are some of the most organized and affluent in EVE's history, there is literally no mechanical solution to force projection they cannot buy and/or maneuvure around with enough effort. But that's the key word there, isn't it? Effort.

Yes, they will create stockpiles of capital ships in various NPC stations and POS around the cluster (easier with regular caps than with super caps). Yes they will be able to avoid the jump fatigue mechanic with interceptors and/or jump clones to get to the caches as they need them. Yes, they are still going to be able to throw their weight around considerably.

But hopefully the effort of making and maintaining these caches in an operational and ready to go state adds enough complexity to force projection to cause these large powerful groups to have to make decisions that leave gaps in the defenses. Hopefully Phoebe creates decision trees where all paths cannot be explored to the fullest for these large groups so that gaps occur where smaller groups can exploit and have content. Right now the decision tree is a single line back and forth across the map; there are no gaps, there is no fun content for the smaller groups.

Time will tell.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Head Spinning

When CCP announced last winter/spring that it was moving away from the biannual release cycle to 10 times a year (roughly every 6 weeks) I was pleased as I am a big Agile development fan and this has one of Agile's handprints all over it: frequent stable releases to respond to customer demands more often, i.e. making the development process more agile to the clients.

So since then we've had the Kronos, Cruis, Hyperion, and Oceanus releases with Pheobe release coming up quickly. Changes are coming so fast and often I find myself left with my head spinning.

At least when the releases were twice a year you got a chance to get used to the new order of things in New Eden and had time to develop all the appropriate habits and responses to how things work. There are times like this month where my playtime has been limited due to real life issues that I find myself just wishing the changes would stop so that things would be consistent long enough for me to get used to them!

I'm sure once I get back into the saddle this weekend that I'll feel better as I focus on my small slice of the cluster and get back to shooting things in the face, but the nerves about missing any time have only inceased in the post-Kronos EVE, a brave new world.

Side Note: Light blogging will end next week.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Tugging at the Edges

Another thing announced at EVE Vegas was a new ship code named a "Tug":
Then there was a new ship type announced, currently codenamed “Tug.”

This will be a freighter sized ship that will be used for carrying around multiple fitted sub cap ships. A mock up of the ship was shown.
While this currently has no value to me in any of my activities right now, its something I can definitely see a need for in the world of rigged vessels that can't be repackaged. I was always a fan of the Orca's ability to carry ships around high sec but bemoaned its limited ship maintenance array that, at 400k m3, couldn't even carry a single battleship. This new tug is a nice counterpart to freighters which can carry everything but assembled ships with ease.

Now I'm wondering what its defenses will be like (i.e. how vulnerable it is to suicide ganking and I hope the answer is about the same as a freighter) and whether a tech II jumping version is ever going to be available, because that is what would interest me and my low sec shenanigans.

I Feel This Justifies My Earlier Position

During EVE Vegas it was announced that new Tech 3 Destroyers are coming to the game:
Each of the empires will get their version of the end result in the order in which they place… and what they are getting is Tech 3 Tactical destroyers.

Tech 3 Destroyers
The Amarr should get theirs as part of the Rhea expansion, which other races getting theirs with following expansion. There were even some mock-ups of potential models for the Amarr tactical destroyers shown.

Amarr tactical concepts
 I find it very interesting that these new ships are not using the Subsystem mechanic. I feel it justifies a position I took in a blog post two years ago titled "Strategic Cruisers are a Failure":
But the concept itself failed.
[...]
The concept is simple: you can pick what role / bonuses / slot layout your ship has AND you can change it whenever you want. The first part is part of the reason the ships are so ubiquitous but the second part has pretty much failed miserably. Most of the time, you use a tool like EFT or Pyfa to determine what setup you want for your Strat Cruiser including the 5 subsystems you want, and then you buy that setup, put it together, and most likely never change it again.

If you want a Strategic Cruiser for a different role, e.g. a probing cloaky ship instead or your sanctum running missile spammer, you are more likely to simply buy an entire second ship rather than just the mods to switch your current ship. My hanger, for example, has three Strategic cruisers in it: one for PvE, one for cloaky probing, and one for pure gank PvP.
Although a few commenters disagreed with me I have seen nothing in the past two years since I wrote the piece that convinces me I was wrong. And now with the new Tech 3 Destroyers ignoring the concept of subsystems entirely for a new mechanic, I feel vindicated in my opinion. Consider this: all the development effort to create the subsystem mechanic and support it since Apocrypha was disregarded for a new mechanic (or borrowed mechanic from siege mode, triage mode, etc) even though they are both Tech 3 ships. The only two Tech 3 things in the game, and they don't share the same mechanic that makes them special. Very telling.

All that being said, I'm super excited for these new ships and the gameplay they promise. More decisions to be made on the fly in the heat of battle? Excellent! More juicy targets trolling the space lanes of low sec? Sign me up.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Cross Training Dreadnoughts

Aideron Robotics is heavily focused on armour tanking at all doctrine sizes, from frigate to capital.

I recently cross trained into a Thanatos carrier and purchased one from Project Vulcan, and then proceeded to invest in the skill book for a Gallente Dreadnought, the fearsome Moros.

I've got the skills to fly and fit one excepting the Tech II version of the Siege Module. For all the skills to V that I want I have 153 days to go!

Capital Repair Systems V (32 days, 1 hour, 50 minutes, 42 seconds)
Capital Hybrid Turret IV ((none))
Gallente Dreadnought III (1 day, 10 hours, 48 minutes, 8 seconds)
Gallente Dreadnought IV (8 days, 17 hours, 53 minutes, 12 seconds)
Tactical Weapon Reconfiguration V (32 days, 23 hours, 31 minutes, 51 seconds)
Gallente Dreadnought V (49 days, 11 hours, 17 minutes, 46 seconds)
Capital Hybrid Turret V (28 days, 20 hours, 35 minutes, 22 seconds)

Of course, most of that is for the three level V skills at the end so more like 2.5 months to be acceptable levels. 

Ah EVE, you heartless monster.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

I Am Secretly CCP Fozzie

OK, that title is not true but somedays it feels like he is stealing ideas from my head!

Check out the latest dev post about Stealth Bombers and this tidbit here:

New Anti-Capital Void Bomb:
This is the first toe dipped in the water for smaller AoE (and therefore more aiming required) dumb weapons, which we think have a lot of potential in the future. It's a void bomb with the following stats:
Armor HP: 600
Explosion Radius: 4000
Energy Neut Amount: 15,000
Flight Time: 15s
Velocity: 2000m/s
AoE Range: One Meter
This thing is most useful against very large ships, and has to detonate right on top of a target to have any effect. We don't expect it to take the world by storm but it should be a very good option for harassing capitals, especially with small numbers of bombers.
And now compare that to an idea I posted about in March of 2013:
5) Super Void Bombs
Currently Void bombs take away 1800 GJ of capacitor. Considering a Wyvern starts with 63750 GJ this weapon is nothing more than a light show. Change them to a percentage of cap neutralized, say... 75%? This would be crippling to cap fleets and subcap fleets and would be a viable weapon to countering them without taking much effort.
Now I realize that my posted idea is different from CCP Fozzie's idea but the end result is the same: an anti-capital weapon that allows a young pilot in a stealth bomber affect a veteran pilot in a capital or super capital. Unfortunately, you still can't use bombs in low sec so I don't foresee adding a stealth bomber to my hanger any time soon. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Suddenly, Real Life Appears and Attacks You!

Between Thanksgiving travels all weekend, sick kid and a sick wife yesterday, and a conference for work today, I've been a little tied up and haven't been blogging or playing EVE.

I'll be back on our regular schedule tomorrow if all goes well.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

The New Coming Reality

UPDATE: After I posted this there was this Dev Post update which bumps Jump Freighter range to 10 light years, completely obsoleting my musings about supplying Nennamailia. The hazards of running a blog.

This Great Jump Nerf of 2014 is the gift that keeps on giving. As the playerbase moves from resistance and/or shock at the coming change to acceptance we start to see people thinking about what the new reality is going to be.


For us in Aideron Robotics it means analyzing what the warzone will look like from the perspective of a capital projecting force, something we have been reluctant to commit to in the past due to the bigger players in low sec like Pandemic Legion, Shadow Cartel, Overload Everything, and others.

Fortunately, using DotLan maps is not out of the question! It turns out that if you use a supercarrier with Jump Drive Calibration set to 0 you get a range of exactly 5 light years! So I plugged in those values and took a look at what the neighbourhood of Fliet was like.


The bolded red squares and circles are low sec systems in range, squares for ones with stations.

The total is 43 low sec systems in range spread over 6 regions. Notably not in that list are other Gallente Militia strongholds Vlillier and Nennamailia. In fact, both of those are 3 jumps away from us! The warzone just got a lot bigger for capital operations.

Locally, its not surprising that Heydieles and Old Man Star are within range, but one jump gate more to Ladistier and you are out of range. As you can see from the image above, Fliet and its constellation are sort of in a gap between Gallente space and Caldari space, explaining the large coverage of regions it reaches. Let's look at Old Man Star's range:


Just two jumps from Fliet and the number of systems in range is still 43, but now limited down to 4 regions and in Black Rise there are just two regions at the limit in range. Expanses between regions will be very important going forward all over the place. Gallente regions are very dense, look at what the Gallente stronghold of Nennamailia in Black Rise has in 5 light year range:


Just 22 systems in range and only in Black Rise and Placid regions, and more importantly the only low sec system in range with a station and connection to contiguous high sec is Kinakka, a system frequented by all manner of hostile forces.

In other words, while a jump freighter with supplies destined for Nennamailia can jump from high sec to the system safely enough, getting out back to high sec involves running the gauntlet through stationless and frequently contested Akidagi next door, or jumping to pirate infested Kinakka and getting to high sec there.

"Amateurs talk about tactics, but professionals study logistics."
- Gen. Robert H. Barrow, USMC (Commandant of the Marine Corps) noted in 1980

The war is going to be very interesting when this change goes live.


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