Friday, January 30, 2009

Are you talkin' ta ME?!

Reading through the new NPC AI dev blog CCP Gangleri responded to a player comment thusly (emphasis mine)
Originally by: Gamer4liff
Not to beat a horse to death but please tell me there is still a place for solo players in this content? Or at least those who like to be self-sufficient. I wouldn't want to get too many corpmates involved in my suicidal wormhole exploration adventures. I'd really like to base my advancement using this system on my schedule, and not have to worry about other people's.

Some people solo lvl5 missions even though it is less profitable than doing lvl4 when measured in ISK per hour, those missions were never meant for solo play. But some people still do it. There simply comes a time when having more people is more efficient, and rightfully so, cooperation should be more efficient in most cases.

Our goal for the Sleepers was to make each encounter more like a PvP battle, so if you bring a solo BS against a gang of Sleepers you are going to lose, hard. Unless you are that good, guess we'll have to see.

In current game mechanics, there is no belt rat encounter that I feel I could not handle in a properly setup battleship. Maybe some 0.0 Officer spawns are different, but the length and breadth of 0.0 space I've ratted in has demonstrated to me that I can handle them easily. But this dev makes it sound like solo play is out of the question.

But there is more; CCP Ytterbium states:
Concerning the solo concerns for W-space: we took into consideration all player styles during the Sleeper design process. That means soloing is possible for the easiest situations you will face, but as mentionned CCP Gangleri, it will be challenging to do so. For fighting against Sleepers ourselves, we can tell you not to expect the current "shoot and loot" approach toward existing NPCs.

On more difficult situations, a proper small/medium gang made of versatile ship classes and roles will be recommended. Again, depending player skill and experience, this can vary greatly as it may be possible to do so in less numbers, like the level5 mentionned example, but that falls into a question of how much efficient would it be to do that.

In all cases, remember that W-space remains an unknown, hazardous area and as such teaming up with other players even on situations meant to be solotable will increase your chances significantly.
Ok, so a step back from the original dev statement, but still seeming to indicate that w-space rats are going to be much harder to take on.

Of course, some questions arise:

1) Are they refering to belt rats and exploration complex groups as a whole?

Right now in 0.0 scanning down a simple complex can prove to give a challenge to a good solo battleship. So if the dev responses are taking w-space complexes into account then it just might be that group play is required for taking on the exploration content while belt ratting is still vulnerable to a well piloted battleship. Which leads to the next question...

2) What level of pilot are they talking to?

A pilot with 5 million skillpoints in a battleship is not the same as a 20 million or 40 million skill point pilot. True, most of that 40 million probably does not apply to a particular battleship setup but it is indictitive of the quality of the support skills. A Tech II tank, Tech II large weapons, Tech II drones, Tech II support skills, and overheating go a long way to improving the ability of a pilot in a battleship.

So when the devs claim that a solo battleship will "lose, hard" against a gang of Sleepers, are they talking to a pilot with medium skills or elite skills. Because it makes a difference in my opinion.

3) Will HACs and Command Ships fare better? I.e. Why are the Sleepers better?

Is it a matter of higher speeds, better resists, varying damage types in which case a more agile and elite ratting ship would do better than your typical belt Raven or Domi? Or are these new rats actually smarter and employ Electronic (not Electrical :P ) Warfare intelligently?

If the former, than experienced pilots in a Nighthawk or Ishtar might be able to burn through anyways. From all indications, its the latter but the key word is "intelligently". Any newb can throw a NOS on a target, but is it the right target at the right time? We shall have to wait and see.

To summarize, despite Dev statements saying solo play will be limited in w-space it remains to be seen what the actual conditions are going to be. To that end, I've set up a test client and logged successfully into Sisi test server; when the new content goes on I'll be there with my camera and notepad.

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