Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Of Titans and Pilots


Right after I posted about investigating Titan tracking last week CCP Greyscale announced an incoming nerf to Titans that include a drastic reduction of scan resolution to a base of 5, a limit to number of lockable targets to 3, and XL Turret tracking halved. The expected timeline is in mid April.

Seelene, of CSM 6 fame and a Titan pilot, responded on his blog that he didn't like the proposed changes, writing:
This path of action by CCP feels to me like a ‘race to the finish line’ for folks (both Devs and players) that just want the subject to go away. My perception is that it essentially shelves titans indefinitely in terms of iterative balancing while the design team works on things they would rather work on. Is just nerfing things really all there is left? Going for the easy win by nerfing the guns or whatever just seems a cheap way to go. What happened to using IMAGINATION to solve these kinds of problems?

Ripard Teg, always good for weighing in on any subject, wrote in rely to this proposed change and Seleene's post:
Seleene describes this as a "troll" by CCP.  I describe it as "my Revelation", which locks targets of this size only a few seconds faster.

Is this the scan res nerf the perfect solution?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  Seleene, champion of iterations, describes it as "kicking the can down the road."  I describe it as an "iteration", but what do I know.  Perhaps when the Dominion sov system was being put into EVE, it shouldn't have been pushed out to Tranquility until every designed sov enhancement associated with it, such as treaties, were implemented all at the same time.  If the fact that "short term fixes have a nasty habit of turning into long term fixes", all I can say is you knew this when you put down your 60 or 70 billion for your "big toy".

Iteration, by definition, includes making changes, checking to see if they do anything approaching what was expected, and making changes again until you like the results.  You don't get to be the champion of only the iterations that you personally like. 
Today I finished listening to the latest Voices from the Void podcast in which Seelene and uber-Titan pilot Elise Randolphgo over the proposed nerf and complain that "it won't really change anything except fewer hotdrops on roaming gangs [...] MWD Drakes and Maelstroms will still get blapped" and that a blap titan fleet is "so easy to get killed because the blap setup over a combat setup brings their effective hitpoints down so much [...] a fleet of suicide dreads could mess them up, or a fleet of combat titans would rip through them".

* * * * *

The podcast was good and I felt that Elise and Seelene presented their case well and had some good points, but it was really one sided without anyone there to argue that was not a sitting Titan character in an alliance with arguably the highest per capita of active Titan pilots. It would have been nice to be able to directly challenge some claims, and point out some contradictions. A comment post afterwards hardly seems worth it.

I'm reminded a lot of the Vagabond these days. You remember back in the day before speeds were rebalanced and a pilot with High Grade Snake set in a MWD Vagabond could go 6-8 km/sec? They were almost unkillable because nearly nothing could catch them. They might flit into range of points and webs (90% webifiers but before scrams killed MWDs) but the sheer momentum of the ship often took it oulf of range of the webs before they could be killed, essentially allowing the Vaga pilot to dictate all terms of an engagement.

People argued they should be nerfed and the Vaga pilots in these uber fast ships would say "we paid lots of ISK for the ships and implants and mods, we should be hard to kill!" and "a properly prepared fleet can catch them, they just need to be better and have a couple Huginns with long range webs". Replace a couple words in those debates and you almost the exact same discussion about these blap titan fleets (and make no mistake, it is about a fleet of these things and not singletons).

I don't know if CCP Greyscale's changes are enough to bring some sanity back to Titan fleets, I lack the experience as a Titan pilot or dictor pilot to comment. I sympathize with Seelene and Elise Randolph that this change feels like a band-aid and that it might put a full-scale capital/supercapital rebalancing off indefinitely, but at the same time I agree with Ripard Teg that some action (i.e. iteration) is at least better than no action as what happened with supercarrier overpoweredness and proliferation.

I'm kind of willing to be OK with blap Titans still being a threat to MWD Drake fleets and Maelstrom fleets because the entitiies throwing those fleets out usually have their own supercap fleets to capitalize on missteps. However, I don't buy at all the argument that blap titans are "glass cannons"; sure they may not have tens of millions of effective hit points but the people with suicide dreads to throw out on a fleet of these things successfully tends to overlap strongly with the people that have Titans and supercaps anyways. The rich and powerful able to kill the rich and powerful is of no help to the rest of us that are still helpless against both sides.

In the end I have to agree with the sentiment of Seelene's apocryphal titan brainstorming white board: "Fuck titans!"

1 comment:

  1. I agree with you on this Kirith. Fuck titans.

    I will also agree with you that the segment was rather one sided. I had hoped to get the opinion of a titan pilot that was pro-nerf, but none approached me after the open invitation was extended.

    I'm not sure if the nerfs will work. I don't think gate camping titans or sub cap countering titans are appropriate for game play. I do worry about the validity of titans on the field and I don't want to see them as POS ornaments. I do think this nerf is being rushed.

    What I would like to see is CCP to learn some patients and wait for their #1 ship balancing guy to come back from paternity leave. I think it would be better to let a ship balance expert handle it, rather then a great designer that has a lot on his plate and is trying to find a "quick fix." I think CCP Grayscale is a great guy, but he and quick fixes to the game rarely work out the way anyone wants.