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.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Chillin'

So earlier this month I left Aideron Robotics.

It was not a decision I made lightly or off the cuff, nor one I made without reservations about what I was deciding to do.

I felt that the corporation and the alliance it was part of was moving in a direction that left me feeling adrift. My role back when we were keeping the lights on in Aideron during the dark days and during the rebuilding had been to run the weekly roam and keep some group content flowing and that role is no longer needed in the busy and bustling alliance and the coalition it is part of.

I also feel like FEDUP and the larger Gal Mil coalition are extremely focused on null sec holdings and content and I'm not interested in that content. In null sec your space owns you, not the other way around. Besides, low sec is where my heart is. While no one said that my weekly low sec roam was prohibited (indeed, it was even welcome) there was often enough content generated by other FCs and fleets that it was not needed.

But the final straw came when we became allies with the Goons. I gave that a try once long ago, wasn't too my liking.

I decided I needed a change.

I considered joining another Gal Mil group less entangled with null sec and its politics, but let's face it; CCP has left Faction Warfare to wither and die.

I thought about going solo and running open public roams, but really, that seems like more work than I have time for.

So what to do?

I decided to give Stay Frosty corporation a try. Low sec PvP? Check. No null sec entanglements? Check. Rixx Javix? Double check.

I plan to start up a Sunday Night fleet roaming low sec again and we'll see if there is still some life in me and low sec.


Monday, August 20, 2018

For Faction Warfare, It Was Too Little Too Late

In the last 24 hours, two of the largest and most active alliances in the Caldari Militia have announced their withdrawal from faction warfare:

Link

And:
In response, prominent Gallente Militia leader Julianus Soter wrote a piece bemoaning Cal Mil's failure to step up to the latest Federation offensive launched this summer:

The Caldari Militia’s response was again largely passive. And I will levy the vast majority of the blame at the Templis CALSF and The Bloc leadership team.
Whether they were misguided, unmotivated, or ill informed, the choice to passively lay down while we conducted the offensive has caused catastrophic harm to their organizations. Each week, fewer of their active PVP’ers participate. Major defense fleet operations they form have withered, to the point where they are overwhelmingly outnumbered by Galmil, and are often forced to stand down while structures are killed.
The facts are quite clear at this stage that the inaction of Calmil leadership has led to a steep decline in activity by their players, at all timezones. And a counterattack has still not come.
When the offensives at Eha began, I was utterly astonished to see how little resistance was offered by the Caldari Militia. Over four days, the system went from 0% to full conquest for the Gallente. There were fights every hour of the day for the last few days, however, the Caldari were consistently overmatched and simply didn’t have manpower to support any serious defense.
This comes down to a failure to properly recruit and motivate younger and moderately skilled characters to participate in these kinds of fleets. And even if they had a higher skill player base, they could have conducted guerilla warfare with higher skilled ships such as Omen Navy Issues, or other fast faction ships, to whittle down the Gallente blob. But the same tired tactics of the past were rehashed over and over. Navy Hookbills. Catalysts. Cormorants. Punishers. Over and over again. The result is now clear for all to see.
Going into the way back machine, back to April of 2018, I wrote something:
Without intervention, Faction Warfare is going to wither and die. Right now its quickly becoming only a farming mechanic with some jostling over tier levels and no strong desire for open direct conflict outside of meaningless good fights. Far more engaging is the emergent play over structures like POCOs, citadels, and engineering complexes as well as the refineries and moon politics next year, none of which has any hook into faction warfare. You might as well not be in a militia unless you roleplay or your members need the mechanic to make money. And that's sad.
It is often said that Faction Warfare suffers from "good enough" syndrome in CCP, but at some point we need to tell CCP loudly that FW is no longer good enough but is indeed dying. Do they want to save it? 
I believe that CCP is letting Faction Warfare die. A year and almost a half later, there has been no large effort to reinvigorate the feature and we see the end result of the dominoes falling since before that time. As the players in the militias aged and gained wealth and experience and security, without new blood to freshen the content , it was only a matter of time before one side would come to dominate and force the other side out. Gal Mil got lucky with the expedition to Cloud Ring being so successful and setting up the content to drive their alliances and coaltion forward while Cal Mil Alliances languished. As Gal Mil forged new deals with null sec power blocs, the allies of Cal Mil withered away. When a strong and unified (mostly) Gal Mil decided to move on the warzone, Cal Mil could only watch their homes burn.

And CCP allowed it to happen by standing by and letting the process play out. Many things could have been tried to spice up the warzone, there were no shortage of ideas. CCP lacked the will to try.

I wish my old Caldari foes good fortune in whatever new arenas they go towards. Hopefully Faction Warfare will get some real love in the future to bring you back.

Friday, August 03, 2018

2 Week Hiatus

I'm taking a two week hiatus from blogging... I know, how can you tell? Right?

My vacation from work is overdue and I'm out of steam for everything, including blogging. I'm still building and selling so I'm still in game, just recharging my batteries for everything else.

I will be back after my vacation is over.

In the meantime, here are some pictures from a game of Twilight Imperium 4th edition I had last month.

Setup

The board is ready, I'm the Warsun race, Embers of Muat.

Love the new warsun model in 4th ed.

My neighbour.

Inital moves.

5 player games suck when you are in the 5th position, crunched for space and four measly trade goods to make up for it.

Yellow expanding.

Black and green getting frisky for VPs.

Gah, no fucking room!

As usual, if the Jol-nar player is left alone, he runs away in the tech race.

Second warsun, be afraid!

Score.

Green's flagship takes Mecatol Rex and starts growing new units. (they are the plant race)

Political tensions rise close to home.

Lots of ships, not a lot of fighting...

I make my assault with my upgraded warsuns and destroy a yellow fleet!

TI takes a lot of space.

Purple swoops into the lightly defended black homeworld for more victory points, his tech giving him the advantage.

Final battle.
Yeah, Jol-nar won by a huge margin because he was not aggressively attack. Part of that was my fault but my hands were tied, my race's main strategy is sit back and get strong for late game push, and this game ended before we even got into the late game. 
Oh well, next time.

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