Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Warship Wednesday - Goodbye Zuiho, Hello Ryujo

Click for weirdness.
I've been motoring along on my tier V Battleship (Kongo) and Carrier (Zuiho) and earning experience to the point where today I was finally able to unlock the tier VI Ryujo, a carrier I have fond memories of from Closed Beta.

I moved the captain up and demounted the one upgrade I had on the Zuiho so I could install it on the Ryujo, then sold the carrier that did me very well over the past few weeks.

The Zuiho has easily been my best ship since I purchased it. I was in 27 battles, 63% victory rate which is exceptionally high, and 43 warships destroyed. My next best, the Kongo, destroyed 35 ships in 38 battles. Experience wise it was always a big earner with an average of 1630 pts and a high score of 2909, my second best after an amazing game I had once in my Isokaze destroyer where I got over 3000.

The reason I am doing so well in the Zuiho is a number of factors. First off, I practiced the crap out of manual torpedo drops in Closed Beta and I've become pretty good at it now such that I'll manually drop on cruisers and destroyers and feel confident of a hit and/or kill. (Related note, manually dropping drops is fearsome deadly and probably should be scaled back a bit.) Secondly, at tier IV most captains are still not used to facing carriers and what they should do to protect themselves, i.e. remaining situationally aware and turning hard as soon as the planes are spotted heading your way. Thirdly, AA is terri-bad all over at tier IV, only marginally better at tier V. Its not until tier VI that cruisers start to shred planes... IF they are in the right position or the carrier commander is not careful.

Combined... yeah, its been seal clubbing. For example, in the last battle in my Zuiho there was an enemy Zuiho and we both went after each other right away as luck would have it. He did auto drop torps and got a couple hits which I easily survived. I manual dropped and sunk him with 5 hits. Practice that manual drop.

On the battleship side of things, I've been doing well in the Kongo and I've got about 2-3 more battles to go before I have the 47000 experience for unlocking the fearsome Fuso. I'll miss the Kongo, its a nice vessel overall and performs well with decent speed and AA.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Attribution

This month's blog banter is all about your attributes:

Attributes and Skills
Does Eve need attributes? It's been discussed a lot recently. Unlike other MMO's your characters attributes don't make a difference in day-to-day gameplay. They simply set how fast you train a skill. Is it time to remove attributes from the game or totally revamp their purpose? Do they add a level of complexity to the game that is not needed? If you really need to use a 3rd party application to get the most from it should it be in the game? Should they be repurposed with each attribute adding a modifier to your ship? Are attributes a relic from the past or are they an important part of Eve - You make your decision and deal with the consequences?
* * * * *

I couldn't tell you what my current attributes are on any of my characters. I can't remember the last time that I cared.

Early on in the typical career of an EVE pilot you tend to care a lot about your attributes and remapping them to maximize your skill training speed, many times to the point of making convoluted skill plans to maximize each 6 month portion. But its a perfect example of the Law of Diminishing Returns: at a certain point, no matter how fast I accrue skill points its just a tiny drop in the large bucket of my overall skill point total. Who cares if I gain 0.11% new skill points this month or 0.12%?

Its also very telling that the only time I really care how long a skill takes to train anymore is if its blocking me from a new module or ship I want to try out, and since I've cross trained every combat ship there is in the game the pressure to get the most skill points per hour definitely drops off. Medium Railgun Specialization V in 29 or 31 days, whatever!

But just because I don't make use of them doesn't mean other people don't spend many hours pouring over skill plans and trying to optimize the attributes and neural remaps. The question is: does it add positively to the game?

From a role playing perspective, I find the concept weird: I can get a neural remap and become more charismatic but have a poorer memory? I can be smarter but less perceptive? Does that actually carry over into anyone's roleplay?

From a gameplay perspective, it feels out of place in EVE. In a game that is very collaborative and competitive and interactive, its a component that is none of those things, instead its very insular, min-max power-gamer-ish, and pure number crunching. Other than how fast a number ticks over, attributes have no other bearing on the game.

Honestly, I don't see the long term value in attributes, they are left overs from a different gametype, and I think they should be removed, replaced with something more relevant to the reality of how we play that game now, not how it was first envisioned 12 or so years ago.

I think we should replace attributes with skill categories, and let players take certain long-lasting boosters that assist with skill training in those categories. Make these new boosters manufacturable by players to create an economy, have different quality / strength levels, make the components hard to find or other found in certain parts of space (like low sec!), and its a gameplay that slides seamlessly into the current paradigm instead of hanging off the rest of the engine like a vestigial organ.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Short Overview Exploration Part 2 - Brackets

Earlier this week I had a post explaining parts of the overview and commenter Rob Kaichin responded:
Any chance of an explanation on brackets? They're the main fustration and mystery to me, especially when I'm flying logi. Can't see who I need to see without showing them all, and can't remove the ones I don't want without not showing them all. Similarly with moons in space, how do I get the brackets to show up?
*tears his hair out*
You're my only hope.
 I'll see what I can do, but I'm a little concerned I don't understand his request, or we are mixing up terminology here.

What CCP calls "brackets" merely refers to the icons of stuff in space. I don't know why they are called brackets, possibly an early version of EVE they were square brackets around an objects location and the term stuck, much like how CCP calls the space where missions take place dungeons.

If you're flying Logistics and doing repairs on fleet members during combat, brackets in space should be your LAST concern, you should be working off your watch list for smaller groups or broadcast history for larger groups.

But if you are trying to get celestial objects to show up without having them appear in the overview, well, then I think I can help.

Tabs 

We talked last time how the overview can have up to 5 tabs setup with each tab having its own rules for which objects appear in the overview based on their Type and pilot State.
Types tab
You make your selections for the rules to determine when something shows up in the overview for the tab and save it, in the image above we called it "general" for my all purpose see-most-things tab.

On the main tab before "Tab Presets" is the "Overview Tabs" tab. On that page you set up the five tabs with names and the specific "preset" to use in the first two columns:

The third column is used to decide which Preset rules to use for figuring out which icons (or brackets) to show on the objects in space. There is a "Show All Brackets" option in which all objects in space that can be seen will have their bracket show whether or not the current tab shows them in the overview.

In my overview I have two tabs, one called "Default" set to preset "general" which shows most things, and a second called "travel" set to preset "warpto" which shows only things like gates, planets, etc.

Here what it looks like in space on my current Default tab:
general preset, show all brackets

In space you can see all brackets, so icons for things like billboards and sentry guns that I have turned off in my "general" preset. If I change to my "travel" tab:

warpto preset, show all brackets
My icons in space have not changed because it still shows all brackets but my overview is simplified.

Now if I go back to my "Default" tab and change the Bracket Preset to "warpto" we see this:
general preset, warpto brackets
We see the overview itself shows what I expect from the selections in "general" presets, but in space I see very little as it applies the limited selection of "warpto" preset. Conversely, switching them in the "travel" tab we get the opposite:
warpto preset, general brackets
We see a limited selection in the overview, but a larger selection in space.

And that is how you control brackets in the overview. Its worth noting that there are short cut key strokes to toggle turning on or off all brackets:

To be honest, I don't know what "Toggle Special Bracket Display" means.

And that's the scoop on Brackets.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Warship Wednesday - Captain's Skills

Once you get to a certain point in your early World of Warships career you can start training your ship captains to have have certain abilities.

The abilities are categorized into 5 levels and you can't select an ability in a level until you have one ability in the previous level (excepting level 1 obviously). The abilities cost a number of skill points per their level (i.e. level 1 abilities cost 1 point, level 2 cost 2 pts, etc) and your captains earn points via experience gained in battles and each subsequent point requires more experience than the last.

What this all means is that its an ever increasing requirement of experience to get the next point, and skills in higher levels need so many points to open up skills in lower levels in order to make them even available. In other words, even in Closed Beta with its increased rewards to speed progression I never got and level 5 skills.

There are two extreme approaches you could take to gaining skills. The first approach is breadth first where you use your incoming skills to get all the level 1 skills, then all level 2 skills, etc. The second approach is depth first where you get one level 1 skill, then one level 2 skill, then one level 3 skill, etc. The advantage of the former is that you get lots of skills more quickly, but it means it will take you even longer to get to the higher level skills since each skill point takes more and more battles to earn. Another issue is that not all skills are very useful or even apply to every ship class, or even every ship in the class line. For example, while early USN cruisers have torpedo tubes later ones starting at tier VI do not so taking skills that work on torpedo loading would be wasted.

Oh, I should mention that you can move captains from ship to ship and retrain them to the new ship either instantly using Doubloons (i.e. gold) or after getting so many experience points (the number depending on the number of skills he currently has) during which the skills' effectiveness are 50%. This allows your captain to develop and grow with more skill abilities as he progressed up the tech tree with you.

I tried both depth first and breadth first training in the Closed Beta while I was learning things and decided that I would concentrate on depth first to get the best skills and back fill later on.

(If you make major mistakes you can pay gold to re-allocate all the skill points, the more points to re-allocate the more gold it takes).

Whew! Got all that?

As I am working up four lines (IJN Battleships, Carriers, and Destroyers along with USN Cruisers) I have been working on the same four captains. The cruiser and battleship captains were with me at the start while I picked up new captains for the carrier and destroyer when they became unlocked. I'm going to go over the skills I've picked for my four captains and the reasons.

Battleship


The level one skill is to get the most out of my secondary batteries for fending off destroyers, torpedo bombers, and getting extra damage on enemy cruisers and battleships.


Second level skill I went with faster turret rotation, even though its only 0.7 degrees/sec more for the big guns, every bit helps with those suckers and makes it more possible to be 1/2 turning and still track.


I had some debates on level 3, but went with the extra repair for more hit points back in a pitched battle. 

And since my captain is close to have four points to spend, I've already picked my level four skill out:

This will work nicely with my level 1 skill to further power up my secondary batteries and AA defenses.

Cruiser

I just recently got my Omaha tier V cruiser, so the captain is still retraining.

Again, no other skill but improving the secondaries and AA guns appealed for the cruiser, and...

... Same with level 2. The turrets track really fast on the Phoenix and Omaha with this skill and make for excellent Destroyer hunting.

I didn't see a level 3 that would pay off in the long run for a cruiser captain in the USN line, maybe the extra consumables, but I decided to go for faster reload of the Damage Control party as the cruiser tends to get smacked around a lot in my experience.

Overall, not happy and *might* respec this captain later.

Destroyer

My Destroyer captain only has 2 skills, getting close for his third though.

I find this extremely helpful for telling me when to start turning and looking for cover or getting out of range. Destroyers are dead if targeted too long.

For a ship designed around delivered torpedoes, this skill comes in very handy.

Carrier

My tier V Zuiho carrier has some very different requirements!

First off he uses the Expert Rear Gunner to give torpedo and dive bombers some extra defense against fighters. I've killed a few over time and it helps keep them alive longer.

Again, torpedoes are key for carriers so reloading faster seems like the best option.

I agonized over the level 3 choice because I'm in a IJN carrier and they tend to be seen mostly without fighters and concentrate on damage and avoiding enemy planes, but there was not another skill in the level that appealed.

So there you have it! My current captains.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Short Overview Exploration

Over at High Drag podcast Random McNally was complaining that he didn't understand anything in the overview settings and how it worked. I'm going to take a short post to explain some of the most complicated tabs in the settings.

Tab Presets - Types

You can have up to 5 tabs in your overview and what is displayed in each can be different, but the appearance of what is displayed has to be the same. In the Tab Presents tab, you control what things are displayed per tab.

In the image below, you can see me looking at the Types tab for my "general" overview tab.

These are straight forward on/off check boxes where you select the things you want to see. Often when a new ship or deployable object is added to the game by CCP, you have to come here and make sure it is checked or you won't see it in space on your overview.

Tab Presets - States

Things get a little trickier in the States tab of Tab Presets.


There are many states which are not mutually exclusive  that an object or pilot in space can have in relation to you. For example a pilot can be a criminal, in your militia, at war with your corporation/alliance, have a bounty, and a security station below 0. This tab allows you to control whether or not they show up in your overview at all, but not what they will looks like if there (that's governed by the Appearance tab and we will get there).

There are three options for a state:

Always Show - it will appear regardless of any other state it may have
Filter Out - it will not appear unless it also has a state which is set to Always Show
Show By Default - it will appear as long as it does not have a state which is set to Filter Out



This tab is useful for setting up overview tabs where you don't want to see "friendlies" in the overview so you only open fire on enemy ships, or the inverse if you are a logi pilot. Again, it does impact how the items will appear in the overview, only whether they are seen or not.

Appearance - Color Tag

The Appearance tab affects all tabs in your overview and allows you to tailor how an item in the overview is displayed assuming it was not filtered out by its Type or State in the Tab Presents rules.

The colortag is the little icon that gets attached to the overview icon in the overview and in space. Most familiar is the green and white icon for pilots in your corporation.


This is where things can get confusing. Let's say you are in space and a pilot arrives on grid with you who is in your militia, has terrible standing, and is a criminal. Which icon will he sport?

EVE figures it out by working down the list from the top and using the first matching one. This is the source of most "overview malfunctions" in Faction Warfare where a lot of pilots are a criminal from shooting neutral parties but are in your militia so should not be shot. This is addressed in this tab by dragging the "Pilot is in your militia" higher in the list above the "Pilot is a criminal".

Generally speaking, you want "Pilot is in your fleet" / corporation / alliance / militia to be highest on the list, followed by pilots at war and terrible / bad standing.

Appearance - Background 

The Background tab of the Appearance Tab is basically the exact same mechanism except its logic is for the background colour the row in the overview receives.


It has the same mechanic for picking the background (i.e. work down the list until it finds the first matching rule) and the same drag and drop for picking the priority.

The neat thing is that you can combine the tag and the background logic to do powerful things. For example, what I've done on my overview is have the colortag set show terrible standing higher than "Pilot is a criminal" or suspect or security status below -5, and the background has those higher. This way I can see on my overview easily neutrals I have bad standing with because I suspect they will attack, but also quickly tell at a glance when on grid whether or not I can engage them without getting sentry gun fire because their background flashes red. Prevents me from engaging neutrals with bad standing but high sec status and no criminal timer (usually).

That's it! There is my quick explanation of the overview setting's most confusing tabs.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Fun Per Hour

Brave Newbies is leaving null sec for a vacation in low sec to reorganize and gather themselves after a rough season. The topic is not about Brave per se, but more about fun in the various types of space.

First off, I'm defining fun purely from a combat PvP perspective as that is the most common type of fun people are looking for in EVE.

I've written about Brave and how null sec is fun until its not. If you are looking for raw fun per hour for your organization, null sec is not it. Null sec is about Empire Building and clash of cultures wars, and as such can have vast amounts of quiet time and build up followed by frantic explosive battles. Overall, fun per hour is low but the highs are higher and bigger and the satisfaction derived from control of systems / structures / empires is larger and deeper.

Wormhole space also runs low on the fun per hour ratio. Its more about stealthy-stealthy-ninja-surprise! fun which has many fans and definitely makes wormholes interesting for many people. But the hardships of logistics, living out of POSes, scanning down connections, looking for fights cuts into the sheer amount of fun that can be derived per hour of game time.

High sec is a virtual desert for any PvP outside of arranged wars like Red versus Blue, or groups that like constant suicide ganking. For a large group looking for fun dynamic PvP, high sec will not work out.

And then we come to low sec. I've written before that low sec is the best place for consistent and destructive PvP and I suspect the whole "Fun per Hour" concept that is susposed to be part of Brave's DNA comes from having gestated in low sec in the first place. Quite simply, low sec is the best area of the game to maximize fun per hour, and to highlight that I want to present this excellent article from Crossing Zebras portal called The Battle of Kehjari:
A handful of times each year, Factional Warfare erupts from restless simmer into a protracted bloodbath. Days on end of relentless slaughter leave space littered with wrecks in the thousands. These kinds of multi-day battles are unique to FW and are always an amazing thing to be a part of.
Such was the recent battle for Kehjari, a well known north-western system in the infamous Black Rise region. Unfortunately for me I was on a much needed vacation at the time. Fortunately for all of us, Epikurus (Mjolnir Bloc CEO) and Veratrix (Spaceship Bebop FC) saw fit to join forces and write the amazing report you see below. Get a hot cup of tea and sit comfortably, this tale spans four days of bloodshed. – Niden
I'm not going to quote the whole thing, but let me quote parts of it (emphasis mine):

Critically, experienced HECON and Templis FCs were able to start effective defensive operations and to begin trying to slow the assault down. For four hours, from 1600 to 2000, the CalMil Coalition forces under allied command prevented any further gains. However, as Gallente numbers increased again in EU prime, the contested level started rising again. EU prime saw 3-4 hours of heavy fighting with GalMil being overwhelmingly victorious, and their numerical advantage only increased during the transition to US prime.
[...]
By 0500 eve time on Saturday morning, the situation looked very bleak indeed for the Caldari defenders. The initial Gallente assault had pushed Kehjari up to 75% in its first 24 hours, sweeping aside most resistance. However, GalMil was now moving into a timezone during which the Caldari Militia has recently dominated. Whilst GalMil had complete AU dominance during their sweep of the warzone last year, the return of The Church of Awesome, a highly experienced and dedicated AU corp, in the early months of 2015 had changed the equation dramatically. This allowed the Caldari Militia Coalition to maintain 20-man fleets on the field throughout the period up to and immediately following downtime. Gallente planners took this imbalance into account and hoped additional pilots would stay up late and get on early to try to keep things even in this timezone. The tactic paid off on Saturday morning. Gallente fleets held the contested level steady for most of the AUTZ though CalMil forces were able to pull back 10% in one sustained burst.
[...]
In the face of ferocious fighting, the Gallente managed to make slow but steady gains over the next 10 hours, hanging another 12% on the system by midnight, averaging an advantage of one-and-a-half plexes per hour. Exploiting their generally higher skill point levels, GalMil deployed its Zealot/Guardian fleet to dominate the medium and the large plexes, constraining Caldari efforts to the smaller plex sizes. In response to this, Caldari State Naval Operations [CSNO], the primary EU corp in HECON, redeployed their stocks of Guardians and faction cruisers across the warzone to Kehjari, generously handing them out for free to defending pilots. After some skirmishing, though, the Caldari fleet was defeated in one of the more notable pitched battles of the weekend.
[...]
This fight was symptomatic of a new ‘environmental factor’ in Kehjari. The large numbers of kills started to draw in third parties from across the map. Most notable among these were the enthusiastic local posters of Pandemic Horde [THXFC]. The Horde brought fleets of 30-40 pilots on a regular basis during EU and US timezones throughout the rest of the battle, causing problems for both sides. They generally avoided pitched fights with the Caldari and Gallente fleets, opting to camp the station and plex gates as well as gunning for solo and small gang plexers who were detached from the main militia fleets. On those occasions that they did engage directly, the Horde tended to be comprehensively defeated by the hardened militia pilots, but their ongoing harassment remained a significant irritant throughout the rest of the weekend.
[...]
Affecting the concerns about the supply situation was the fact that the fighting in Kehjari only got more intense as the day wore on, reaching a peak of violence with a gruelling non-stop fight that began at 1834 between two 30-man fleets with large logistics wings rolled on until 1848. After 14 minutes of intense and constant destroyer and frigate PvP, the remaining fleets had become kitchen sinks of whatever the pilots could find nearby and 98 wrecks sat gathered around the button in the plex. The ship losses were 60/40 in favour of the Gallente, but the tide had turned at the end with GalMil out of instantly available reshipsl. When it was clear that the fight was unwinnable, they warped out, conceding the plex to the Caldari.
Read the whole article, sure parts of it can be dry but its an excellent read about an intense battle for a single system in low sec. Sure, these battles don't happen very often but smaller versions of these battles for control of a system here and there are common enough and the entire area is constantly inundated of small to largish groups roaming and looking for fights, militas, pirates, and visitors.

If you are looking to maximize fun per hour, if its part of your corporate DNA, then you should strongly think about whether or not you want to live in null sec.

By the way, if you want a preview of what CCP wants from Fozzie Sov, read that article and imagine it writ large across null sec in multiple battles at any one time. Let's hope it works.

AddThis button