Tuesday, October 16, 2018

The War on War Declarations

I've never liked the War Declaration mechanic in EVE.

I mean, I understand the original intent behind war declarations. CCP wanted players to have the ability to fight over resources in the tightly controlled space of high sec so they gave corporations the ability to declare war on each other, removing the obstacles of CONCORD or sentry gun interference and removing any potential security status penalties.

CCP had visions of groups with roughly equal size and skills clashing in battles over moons and asteroid belts.

And this can still happen! But its vastly in the minority. Instead what the players use the mechanic for is basically extortion and seal clubbing.
Groups of veteran PvP players go around and declare war on groups of carebears, asking them for ISK or lose their ships / structures / etc, and if they have the nerve to stand up and try and fight, are bashed in the head via station games, blingy PvP ships, and more experience.

Not to mention the groups of players that just war dec everything they can and sit in trade hubs camping gates all day, using the mechanic as a way to bypass high sec rules.

Its a shitty mechanic that allows the experienced and strong players to prey on the newer and weaker players without consent or reasonable recourse and it sucks and I think it drives players away.

And now we have evidence from CCP indicating that it's true:

CCP Larrikin pulls up activity data for players of corporations that have wars declared against them and it shows considerable activity drops in all activities during the war. They also show that the low activity continues after the war ends. Brisc Rubal noted that the numbers here were so stark, it would justify immediately removing war decs as a mechanic and promising a fix after the fact. The CSM in general were surprised at how stark the numbers were and noted it was clear this mechanic was having a significant impact on player recruitment and retention.
A comment was made in that summit that perhaps those numbers suggest removing war decs immediately. I wholeheartedly agree.

The concept is flawed, built for a style of gameplay and environment that no longer exists. Get rid of it.

* * * * *

OK, now that its gone and the wailing and gnashing of teeth has died down, the game does need some mechanic to deal with competition over the actual things worth fighting over in high sec that should not have absolute safety. Not asteroid fields or trade hub jump gates (both of which already contend with suicide ganks), but rather structures.

I propose that once declaring war against corporations is gone, we replace it with the ability to bribe the NPC government agencies to look the other way while a structure is attacked. The owners of the structure can be attacked too, but only in that system. This would give casual / noobie / pacifist corps an option besides the "hire mercs or learn how to fight" (which really is "watch you get scammed or die horribly to experienced PvPers"). Or of course, what they do now, which is log out and stop playing.

Now that proposal is not fleshed out, its an off-the-cuff idea thrown out to show that I think a radical rethinking of high sec PvP needs to be done, and radical actions need to be taken. EVE desperately needs something.

Time is running out.

Monday, October 01, 2018

A Month In Stay Frosty

I'm really sorry for the lack of blogging lately, I'm still playing and EVE news is interesting, I've just been lazy :)

September is over and so is my first full month in Stay Frosty, running Sunday Night Roams in small kitchen sink gangs and seeing what we can turn up. Its been decent:

Nothing like the heyday of low sec and faction warfare, but not completely without action. Some excitement does not register on the killboard, like last night when I entered a FW plex to engage a Rifter (Scout/Tackle FC best FC) in my trusty dual rep Incursus only to find myself counter-tackled and a Chremoas alliance tournament ship uncloaking 50 klicks away.

Ho ho, a trap. My fleet comes in and the enemy flees (I lost my point barely on the Rifter) so no losses, but I did comment that I found that tactic is a pathetic use for an AT prize ship, baiting in almost perfect safety where there is not even a chance someone might land on you from warp and uncloak you accidentally.

Of course, some might point out that going around in a gang and ganking solo or duo ships is not very sporting either, but at least our initial tackle ships put it on the line and there is a chance the enemy might spring a trap with more or bigger ships and a pitched battle occurs. Sitting deep in a plex with a covert ops cloak and running at the first sign of a challenge is not the same thing.

But whatever, caring is the path to madness.

As for my Sunday Night Fleets, I've noticed once again that consistency is the key: putting the fleet up at the same time and night every week slowly brings in more pilots and we have more options on what we can engage as a result, getting more excitement and luring in more pilots. First couple weeks was just a handful of us, last couple weeks we started to peak around 10. That's the sweet spot, 10 to 15 pilots. Enough to cover all the roles of scout, tackle, damage, and a logi bro or two.

Good times! I highly recommend the Stay Frosty Retirement Program for aging low sec PvPers.

Friday, September 21, 2018

I Am Writing Fiction Again

Long time ago I used to write fiction on Fridays and ended up writing a heck of a lot of stuff (most set in EVE universe) which you can find in the Fiction tab. I won a couple EVE short story contests and always felt I had the potential to actually write a novel (or series of novels) if I just put my mind to it and found the time.

Life is funny. As the kids get older (twins are now 10 and little surprise is 8) and the can occupy themselves more often and their bedtime moved from 8 to 8:30, I am finding myself with some free time in the evening that was not there before.

Shocked, I'm sure.

So I've decided to try and write about an idea that has been rolling around in my brain for the better part of 5 years.

God, its hard. Writing a short story in the EVE universe is liberating because you have do not have to build a world and you can to cut right to the point. But writing a story that is going to require you to build a world in the process and decide how that world works and what living in it would be like is daunting.

But I'm not getting any younger, and now is the time to try.

Wish me luck.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

ECM - Here We Go Again

Oh look, a new dev blog about balance changes (EVE still does those?):
Everyone's favorite form of E-war has been due for an update for a very long time.
As a victim, watching your ship die while jammed without anything you can do about it feels bad. As an ECM user the system doesn’t feel great either when you get unlucky and miss a lot of jams. We would love to improve both sides of this coin by giving ECM more consistent behavior while also toning down the helplessness that comes with being jammed.
At the same time, we feel it's important to preserve and even improve the role ECM plays as one of few disruption tactics for logistics and other forms of support.
Ugh. ECM up again? Ok, let's see what they try this time...
To start us on a path towards a healthier balance for ECM, we are making one critical change to its mechanics: while jammed, you can always lock the ship that is jamming you.
This change will dramatically increase the feeling of agency and control for the victim. Rather than sitting helplessly while jammed, you will always have the option of fighting back. It will be up the ECM user to stay out of range, abuse tracking, or otherwise avoid retaliation.
The downside here is that in the short term, balance for ships focused on ECM may be a bit out of whack. We are looking at some small buffs to fitting and tank for ECM ships with this release to help them survive against return fire, and long term we hope to be able to increase jam strength to make ECM more consistent across the board. Your feedback will be critical in ironing out those changes going forward.
To give credit where it is due, this is an interesting take on the old beast. It will give pilots something at least to do while that 20 second timer is counting down and shooting at the ECM ship seems like a decent action option.

Of course, the value of that option varies dramatically depending on your engagement envelop versus the ship jamming you, and gives an inadvertent nerf to short range and/or fragile jamming ships. Poor Kitsune.

But its still a chance based mechanic which really doesn't fit well with a lot of the rest of EVE's ship mechanics.

If I were given control, I'd argue for breaking remote sensor dampeners into two, the current remote sensor dampener that reduces lock range when range scripted, and move the lock time increase mechanic to ECM modules, perhaps making them break lock when first activated and then while on the target it makes the target's lock time longer. You could even increase the effect the close it is to optimal. No randomness, no restricting of options, just causing disruption.

I'd also consider getting rid of stupid racial variants (talk about complexity for the sake of complexity only) but if that would not fly, you could increase or decrease the effect based on whether its a matching racial type or not.

Anyways, we'll see how CCP's milquetoast approach goes.

Thursday, September 06, 2018

Wholly Owned Independent Subsidiary

A bombshell dropped by CCP last night announcing the company being bought "by Pearl Abyss, Korean developers of the gorgeous hit open-world action-MMO Black Desert Online."

Here is the critical information in the fluff of the post:

Right now, CCP is owned by a group of three big financial investors. They have been with us on this journey for over a decade with all our ups and downs and as is the business of financial investors, selling their shares at some point is part of the plan. Being acquired by Pearl Abyss means that we will be bringing a videogames company on board as well as a new long-term home for CCP. This will be important for the years to come as partnering up with another MMO developer means that we have an even greater shared depth of experience to pull from and can tackle even more (and bigger) long-term mutual goals. If there is anything I have learned from EVE Online it’s that good things take time and great things take even longer.
In business terms, CCP Games will continue to operate as a wholly owned independent subsidiary, with studios in Reykjav√≠k, London and Shanghai, and we’ll integrate our development and publishing expertise into Pearl Abyss’ operations for all current and future projects. 
The term "wholly owned independent subsidiary" required me to google what exactly that means. From the website Investopedia:

The difference between a subsidiary and a wholly owned subsidiary is the amount of control held by the parent company.
A regular subsidiary company has over 50% of its voting stock (it can be half, plus one share more) controlled by another company, though for liability, tax and regulatory reasons, the subsidiary and parent companies remain separate legal entities. The parent company is typically a larger business that often has control over more than one subsidiary. Parent companies may be more or less active concerning their subsidiaries, but they always hold a controlling interest to some degree. The amount of control the parent company chooses to exercise usually depends on the level of managing control the parent company awards to the subsidiary company management staff.
A subsidiary company is considered wholly owned when all of the common stock is owned by another company, the parent company. There are no minority shareholders. The subsidiary's stock is not traded publicly. But it remains an independent legal body, a corporation with its own organized framework and administration. Its day-to-day operations are likely directed entirely by the parent company, however.
Emphasis mine. 

What does it all mean? It means that CCP no longer solely determines the direction of EVE Online. Yes, it had owners before, the three "big financial investors" and I'm sure that had some affect on decisions made in the game about what was developed and pushed and what was not, but its vastly different managing the expectations and demands of three non-gaming owning entities than is it having one owner who is itself a game developing company. If you think CCP and EVE are not going to be impacted by the philosophies and inclinations of Pearl Abyss in the medium and long term, you are deluding yourselves. They did not make a major investment in another game development studio to do nothing at all with it.

The interesting question is what form that influence / interference will take. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

First Stay Frosty Roam

I started up my Sunday Night Roam in Stay Frosty on Sunday evening and 6 of us headed out into the black (including the illustrious Rixx Javix himself) in some Tech III Destroyers, a Cormorant, a Slasher and myself in a Navy Slicer.

Here's how it worked out:

Yeah, we ran into Twitch streamer Damassys Kadesh in a Abaddon looking for fresh meat and we provided in spades. I think my reliance on Aideron Robotics logi bros made me a little over confident in this engagement and our T3 dessies were picked off one at a time. Interesting note is that he used webbing and target painting drones to aid his laser fire, and if we had not had to deal with sentry guns (i.e. warping out and in to clear them) we might have coordinated enough to take them out and get our tracking disruptor on him to negate his damage.

Oh well, lesson learned and shook off some rust in the process. Next time!

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Trying To Shake off the Rust

My mom had a 65th birthday/retirement party on last weekend so I didn't get online until Monday night. I decided to just roam around alone and see what trouble I could get into, using my trusty Ishkur assault frigate.

In Renarelle I came across a lone Enyo pilot and after a few warps and missed connections we engaged in a duel. It was close and we were both in low structure when I blew up. If only I had switched my ammo from null to void... oh well.

Back in another Ishkur I was flying through the wilds of Black Rise and avoiding Thorax fleets when I came across Mad Ani, a long time EVE Online Twitch streamer, flying a Stiletto. There were lots of other ships floating around but I thought maybe the streamer was alone and looking for a challenge so I warped to a complex in Hikkoken and waited for him. He showed up indeed... along with friends. I died.

I had a chuckle at that ten million ISK deposited in my wallet. I appreciate the gesture.

Hope I have better luck next week.

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