Thursday, October 23, 2014

Clearing the Cache

Let's talk more about the dark side of Phoebe and the jump changes.

First, let's state the problem that plagues all competitive multiplayer games but open ended games like EVE the most, the n+1 problem:
All else being equal, the side with n resources is at a disadvantage to the side with n+1 resources. 
In EVE, n can refer to the amount of ISK, skill points, friends, experience, etc. Basically, there is always an advantage to have more of things available to you than your opponents. This is a fact of gaming life. Games try to address some of this with caps on players, points, ship types, or diminishing returns on adding more of something, and so on as in tournaments so that what is being measured in the competition is player skill and ability as much as possible. But in the wild, so to speak, there are no effect limits on collecting these resources and hence why so much paper is spent discussing how to give "the little guy", i.e. the side on the lower end of the n+1 problem, the ability to punch up against the "big guy".

A common refrain out of null sec when new changes are announced that they don't like is always "this change benefits the big coalitions more than the little guys you want to balkanize null sec with because they have more of [insert specific resource here]". Well, no kidding! The larger and more organized group will ALWAYS have an advantage over the smaller and less organized groups unless the former choose not to take it. This is not a surprise. The goal of changes should be to give so many decisions and actions for large groups to take that they cannot press the advantage in all areas at the same time.

This is what the jump ship and fatigue changes in Phoebe are trying to do: limit power projection of all capital fleets AND force large coalitions to make choices about how they use their n+1 advantage to the best effect, hopefully leaving opportunities open for smaller groups to gain footholds in the game. Right now, there is no choice to be made when faced with the question of smashing a smaller group because of the ease of tactical and strategic deployment of capitals, or rather the only choice is "do I feel like it?" and that's not a good gameplay design.

So we get Phoebe. And one of the responses is "well, the large capital using coalitions will just put caches of capital ships all over the galaxy and use jump clones or interceptors to get to them when needed".

Yes, yes they will.

The groups we are talking about are some of the most organized and affluent in EVE's history, there is literally no mechanical solution to force projection they cannot buy and/or maneuvure around with enough effort. But that's the key word there, isn't it? Effort.

Yes, they will create stockpiles of capital ships in various NPC stations and POS around the cluster (easier with regular caps than with super caps). Yes they will be able to avoid the jump fatigue mechanic with interceptors and/or jump clones to get to the caches as they need them. Yes, they are still going to be able to throw their weight around considerably.

But hopefully the effort of making and maintaining these caches in an operational and ready to go state adds enough complexity to force projection to cause these large powerful groups to have to make decisions that leave gaps in the defenses. Hopefully Phoebe creates decision trees where all paths cannot be explored to the fullest for these large groups so that gaps occur where smaller groups can exploit and have content. Right now the decision tree is a single line back and forth across the map; there are no gaps, there is no fun content for the smaller groups.

Time will tell.

1 comment:

  1. I'd like to see a general degradation over time in the case of supercaps, with the ability to put them into mothballs (and to take them out again - with timer) to prevent that occurring.

    Use 'em or lose 'em. Will assist a smaller alliance that is active, and help mitigate the stockpiling by the bigger ones.