Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Prediction: Project Nova Will Not See the Light of Day

When DUST 514 was cancelled CCP quickly announced it would replace the First Person Shooter with a new shooter called Project Nova:
Project Nova is the code name for CCP's free-to-play PC first-person shooter that's being shown to the press and fans for the first time at Fanfest in Iceland.
Unlike the recently canceled PlayStation 3 title Dust 514, which tied directly into Eve Online via interactions called orbital bombardment where players in one game could influence the battles in another, there are no direct ties between Eve Online and Project Nova outside of being set in the same universe.
The news since that April 2016 article has been thin on the ground out of CCP. This past April we got some more info:
And the fans in attendance or watching the Twitch livestream got just that during the EVE Fanfest 2017 Keynote from boss man Hilmar Veigar, who says they aren’t ready to show more of the game until they really have something to show, but I managed to get a few more hints from having a long chat with Jean-Charles Gaudechon, Managing Director CCP Shanghai.
“WE’RE STILL VERY MUCH COMMITTED”
Gaudechon joined CCP in 2013 and helped with DUST 514 and then Legion (which became Project Nova). There is no official title decided upon yet for what Project Nova will be called when it releases and it likely won’t be decided upon into the game is near done.
Methinks you protest too much.

Look, you've had a year and you can't show anything new? Or at all? That's a problem. That's a sign that you are not that committed because perhaps you realize that breaking into a market as competitive and filled with quality released is a lot harder than releasing a boundary pushing Virtual Reality space dogfight  game in a fledgling industry.

In fact, I suspect the unexpected and welcomed success of EVE Valkyrie has doomed the FPS division to also ran in CCP's leadership's eyes, and more resources and attention will be diverted to that market and that development division at the expense of Project Nova.

And in the end, that is why I'm predicting we will not see Project Nova on a PC near us ever.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Anger

CCP has been having a lot of missteps this past couple months and then they really stepped into it when they decided to give out ships for accounts that got fanfest tickets: a Pacifier frigate and for early ticket sales, an Enforcer cruiser. But not just to the account that purchased the ticket, oh no, but a free ship or two to every related account. For example had I been fortunate enough to go I would have gotten three of each total for my three accounts.

Combine that math with the ghost training exploit where some people were farming 20, 30, and more accounts, and they received a huge windfall.

Normally when the community is upset about something I tend to be more laid back about it all; after all, why get angry at a game? But then I nearly threw my phone through a window after a bad Clash Royale losing streak so who am I to judge...

The important thing is that I feel this time the anger is justified. CCP has seriously messed up and seems to be more interested in damage control, deflection, and circling the wagons rather than admitting the mistake and taking steps to rectify it. There is no doubt in my mind that one set of reward ships per ticket is the correct approach here, anything else is open to exploitation.

Will I be unsubbing over this? No, for me EVE is still just a game. But am I disappointed in CCP over this? Definitely.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Missing the Forest for the Trees

I'm going to try and avoid most of the tempest in the teacup over the fighter changes targeting the 1% reaping rewards in their carriers and supercarriers while ratting. Instead I'm going to point out something that should be obvious but seems to be ignored in all of this.

Capital ships should not be efficient platforms for ratting. Period.

What I mean by this is that it never made sense to me how rats never escalated or disengaged when faced with a superior force. Wormhole drifters at least were made smart enough to escalate when faced with capital ships forcing wormholers to invest more capitals in risky w-space to reap the rewards offered. And the new Blood Raiders shipyards also escalate to match the force arrayed against them. But regular anom rats? Plink away at ships orders of magnitudes larger with sub-caps while ignoring fighters ripping them to shreds.

One will argue, and often do, that the investment in a capital ship demands that ratting be easy and rewarding. The risk, they posit, comes from losing the ship to other players. Which is bullshit and we all know it. Null sec space with its intel networks, immediate local, and nearby allies means that ratting carriers dying is by far the exception and not the rule. Obviously if it was a real risk fewer players would be doing it so much and so successfully.

Besides, investment should never be considered a strong balance factor because once the investment is paid, the payout and its duration over time far outstrips it. This has been true when super Dramiels with snake implants were untouchable, it was true when Svipuls were dominating, and it was true in any other case where time/ISK investment were far outweighed by the advantage gained.

If CCP is going to allow carriers and supercarriers to be used for ratting, I think they should make it as difficult as ratting in a battleship successfully. Have rats target fighters with prejudice; have deadly capital rats spawn with capital warp scrams; or have the rats run away from the carriers. Anything to make the reward scale appropriately with the risk.

And anyone complaining that the current reward from carrier ratting is matched by high sec incursion running, I'll point out another obvious fact: two wrongs don't make a right.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Hanger Cleanout

Over the past year I've been trying to slim down my hanger through attrition by using my Sunday Night Roaming fleet to use ships that otherwise don't fit into normal fleet doctrines and using them until they die.

Jan - Abaddon
Feb - Omen
Mar - Daredevil
May - Pair of comets and an Oracle I had forever

And last Sunday I broke out one of my oldest prize ships, a Vigilant cruiser, and lost it in a fight with Templis CALSF. We knew Stalence in his Megathron was bait but the night was quiet up until then and we were itching for a fight. At least we killed the bait.

At least the faction webber and warp scrambler (over 100 mil combined) both got destroyed in the explosion.


Friday, June 09, 2017

The Fine Line of Strategic Cruisers

I've been spending a lot of time thinking about Strategic Cruisers and how they fit into the meta going forward.

Currently they can perform in several roles better than the Tech II ships they emulate: heavy hitting cruiser with small signature better than a heavy assault cruiser, super tanky cloaky recon, super tanky e-war combat ship, etc. As well as being about to do other things like command boosting, nullification warping, fitting cloaks, and so on.

The idea was that the Strategic cruiser would be unable to do these roles as well as the dedicated Tech II versions for the same price magnitude but could be re-configured as needed by the owner. That didn't hold up so well as the prices fell and the risk-reward ratio for the tech III cruisers proved to be higher than the competing tech II versions.

What do I mean?

In EVE, a combat ship can be evaluated into a single number, a risk versus reward ratio. In other words, you want to maximize the reward side of the equation while minimizing the risk side.

For a pure combat ship like a Heavy Assault cruiser, this primarily comes down the the reward being its damage delivery potential on a target versus its risk of how likely it is it be caught and destroyed. While HACs have a higher reward value (i.e. more damage) than a strategic cruiser, the latter has superior signature and tank thus lowering its risk value by more, giving it a better overall ratio.

Cost plays into this ratio as well, increasing the risk as the price of the ship increases. But since a fully fit strategic cruiser is in the same price bracket as competing tech II ships, the ratio still evaluates better for the tech III ships.

In comparison, while the Tech III Destroyers easily outclass Tech I Destroyers, i.e. have much larger reward value, the risk part of the equation balances out the ratio because they are a different price bracket, and when compared to price-parity Tech II Destroyers we find they are in different roles and thus we do not need to worry about the risk-reward comparison.

CCP is faced with the question of how to balance Strategic Cruisers such a way that they are still good for pilots to own and use but don't replace Tech II cruisers in the same role. As I wrote last week, CCP have made or are going to make the changes required for Strategic Cruisers to actually be as flexible and strategic as they were originally envisioned to be, so there is a chance here for CCP to role-change the ship class out of competition with Tech II cruisers and into a new unfilled role of Multi-role Combat Cruiser.

Let's hope CCP gets it right!

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Time Limits

A lot of the games I've been playing lately have one thing in common.

I've been playing Overwatch and Dreadnought (now in open beta) on my PC, and Clash Royale on my phone, because they fit into my lifestyle where having more than 15 minutes to sit down and do something is increasingly rare. Thank god for my reserved EVE night.

Again this has me thinking about the missed opportunity here for EVE to provide some sort of simplistic built in arena game play. Have 6 or 8 ships with prefit modules of certain fleet archetypes, let people queue up, and let them loose in a closed arena. Almost like an EVE ship version of Valkyrie for crying out loud. I would play the shit out of that in my spare time.

To be fair, if I could afford a VR headset and new video card, I'd be playing Valkyrie.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Strategic Post

One of my favourite things to do for blogging these days is to notice some announcement of a change from CCP or someone saying something, and then dig up an old post of mine where I say the exact same thing.

The latest entry to this hobby is this dev blog on Strategic Cruiser changes:

The short version of the plan is that we want to address a few key issues with the current Strategic Cruiser design:
- Rigs in their current state lock T3 hulls into a specific set of bonuses and prevent T3 Cruisers from achieving the goal of a “strategic” ship that you can adjust from day to day to meet your needs by changing subsystems
- T3 Cruisers overlap too much with other ships (especially Heavy Assault Cruisers and Recon Ships) and their dominance can reduce ship variety
- Many of the subsystems and subsystem combinations are underpowered and rarely used
- The current state of T3 Cruisers is unsustainable from a technical graphics perspective
To solve some of these issues we are currently working in the following directions:
- Condense the available subsystems into a smaller number of more powerful and useful choices.
- - The current plan is to have four subsystem slots with three choices in each slot
- A general rebalance of the T3 Cruiser class which would include (among other things):
- - New faction-specific build components sourced from WH space
- - Dual tank bonuses for the Loki
- - Some power reductions to long range combat alongside the nullification subsystem
- - An increase in signature radius and mass
- Allowing rigs to be freely removed from Strategic Cruisers without destroying them
So way back in May of 2012 I wrote a post titled "Strategic Cruisers Are A Failure" in which I pointed out that the concept of Strategic Cruisers had 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.
What is the reason for the failure of the ship class to live up to its potential? There are several:
1) Rigs. When you put three rigs on a ship, they are usually to compliment its main role or main method of tanking (or sometimes both). However, changing the subsystems of a strat cruiser can vastly change its role and/or optimal tanking method, most likely making the installed rigs sub-optimal or useless. Since you can't just remove rigs, only destroy them, it makes players committed to a single setup once the rigs are installed.
2) In Game, Setting Up Ships is Tedious. While some big improvements to fitting a ship in game have been made over the years, the fact of the matter is that it is downright tedious and intensive to explore ship setups and tweak it to how you want. There is no easy way to compare stats of two ship setups, removed mods are assembled so don't stack and litter up your hanger, your hanger modules are not in a nice tree to browse like they are in the market, and unless your hanger is well stocked or you are in a market hub sometimes you just don't have the modules or charges you need for a quick setup change.While out of game tools help a lot with some of these deficiencies, the fact of the matter is that its easier to setup a new ship with brand new purchased items than it is to swap out subsystems and modules of an existing setup unless you don't want to use that setup ever again.
3) Too Limited. Many of the scenarios where having the ability to change the capabilities of your current ship on the fly would be useful are the same scenarios where you do not have the ability of swapping subsystems and modules: deep in enemy space, wormholes, during a long roam, etc, any time you are far from your home base. Even if you have the subsystems and modules available, since you have to be docked at a station you still can't use a POS hanger or capital ship maintenance bay to to the switch anyways. So no jumping from Sleeper-farming PvE ship to hostile-fighting PvP ship in wormholes and no switching from forward-scouting recon ship to damage-dealing tackle ship during an offensive in null sec.
* * * * *
So what is the answer to make Strategic Cruisers live up to their full potential? Easy; address these three problems in some manner and you will go a long ways to getting there. Introduce a method for removing rigs (i.e. only in station and for a cost), introduce more ship-building-theory tools and module hanger organization tools into the game client, and allow swapping of subsystems outside of station environments.
 So what has changed in the 5 years since I posted that?

Well, in reverse order, citadels and mobile depots and even POS structures have been added/changed to allow Strategic Cruisers the ability to change sub systems so those inaccessible systems where swapping was impossible no longer exist. The ability to save fits and apply them with a click of a button have made changing ship setups trivial (and throw in multi-buy and multi-fit as important quality of life changes as well). And now as of this change posted in the dev blog, rigs can be removed without destroying them.

All three of my reasons of failure have been or are being addressed. We'll have to see if the ship class becomes more strategic with this rebalance.

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