Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Law of Diminishing Returns

Ripard Teg said something in his latest post that I would like to expand upon.

Fozzie also presented the interesting idea that what's happening to the T1 cruisers is a conscious, deliberate choice on CCP's part. They deliberately want to narrow the gap between T1 and T2 ships so that the improvement from one to the other isn't quite so dramatic. This is kind of a nerf to veteran players -- something I suspect the CSM is going to call them on in a couple of weeks. That said, I've got some ideas about where CCP is going with this that I'll share in a few days. In the meantime, if you've got the idea in your head that "if Thoraxes are this good now, I can't wait for the new Deimos!", you might want to stop thinking along those lines so as not to be disappointed later.
This thought, that Tech 2 ships are not going to see a huge improvement like the Tech 1 ships have, has crossed my mind more than a few times the past two months.

Prior to the tiericide efforts started earlier this year, the jump from Tech 1 frigates to Tech 2 frigates was huge, especially after assault frigates finally got their due. The only reason one would downgrade to a tech 1 frigate was for plex and DED gates that restricted ship size. The faction frigates had a niche in between the two major designation but were costly enough to limit their use.

Sure, Tech 2 cost a lot more than their Tech 1 counterparts but it was no contest in terms of performance; a Tech 2 ship costing more than 10 times their Tech 1 version had pretty much a 100% chance at victory.

This creates an imbalance; newer player see that they are outclassed by veteran players that can not only afford the Tech 2 versions but fly them almost exclusively, thereby they either quit in disgust when faced with the long training times required or slog it out to the Tech 2 ships and never look back, thus contributing to the imbalance.

When faced with this massive stable of ships that are ignored and unused except by the most ignorant or masochistic, CCP was faced with only two options: allow the imbalance to continue and focus solely on the ships people did fly consistently (which was modus operandi for years) or re-baseline the entire ship line from top to bottom to create a more gradual improvement as players jumped into Tech 2 ships from Tech 1. Which is exactly what tiericide is: a re-base-lining of all ships in Eve. Eve 2.0 if you will.

The upshot of this overhaul is exactly as Ripard hinted at: Tech 2 ships will no longer be obviously superior to their Tech 1 counterparts in the general use case. In fact, I'm beginning to suspect that CCP's goal for Tech 2 ships is to make them very powerful in one area only, and comparable to Tech 1 ships in all others. For example, Tech 2 command ships will be able to mount multiple bonused warfare link modules, but their combat effectiveness (tank and gank) may not be all that superior to Tech 1 battlecruisers at the end of the day. Perhaps some improvement to account for the increased price, but not overwhelmingly superior.

Another example we can look at is the assault frigates which are recent enough to be considered close if not at the point CCP wants them, and the Tech 1 Combat Frigates. Can a Harpy take a Merlin in a straight up fight? Probably, yes. Is the outcome definite? Nowhere near as much as it was in the past.

So what can we except for the other Tech 2 ships? I anticipate that we'll see the same pattern. The Diemos will be superior to the Thorax in the fast attack combat role, but not overwhelmingly so. The Scimitar will have better repair amounts ship than the Scythe but not an order of magnitude more. The Rook will fight better than the Blackbird, but be on equal terms in jamming.

The super specialized Tech 2 ships will continue to have unique advantages over their Tech 1 counterparts. After all, the Interdictors, Heavy Interdictors, Stealth Bombers, Covert Ops, Black Ops and Recons all have qualities that no Tech 1 ship has. As a result, I do not expect that combat-wise they will be superior in any regard after the re-balancing looks at them.

The real outstanding question is what is CCP going to do about the extreme end of the ship balance curve: capitals and super capitals.

1 comment:

  1. Capital ship balancing? Didn't our beloved (Null/supercap heavy) say it wasn't a problem anymore...just like tech?