Thursday, January 28, 2016

BB71 - Analysis Paralysis

Too Many Ships Spoil the Sandpit?
We all like important internet spaceships right? The more spaceships the better right? Or are we getting too many to be easily to remember them all. A Mastodon on scan? That the hell is that and what does it do? Oh! Never mind!
Are we getting too many ships. Is it too complicated to remember them all and what their traits are? Do FC's these days need an encyclopedic knowledge of ship types unless they want their fleet to DIAF. With more and more ships being released each year will we ever reach "too many" or do you think there can never be too many important internet spaceship types?
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There was a time in EVE's past where the number of effective combat ships one might run into was pretty low.  Rifter and Merlins for frigs, Thorax and Rupture, Hurricanes and Drakes, etc. Sure, you'd run into the occasional newb in a Condor or Vexor but overall the meta was pretty static, enough that I can't remember during that time if I ever saw more than one Bellicose in space.

It was not a great situation. It was too static and predictable, too stratified against newer players, and wasted numerous hulls that were lower tiers and passed over so easily with quick skill trains.

Tiericide was the process to rationalize the ships, especially tech 1 ships, and bring about more defined roles other than "Combat" and "More Combat", introduce tech I logistics ships (remember the Osprey/Exeq/etc were originally mining cruisers!), and generally make the progression from frigates to battleships more intuitive and balance out the vast gulf of difference between tech II and tech I.

It was widely regarded as a success and the number of ships you could run into in space on a regular basis bloomed three or four times.

But as part of the Crucible era atonement CCP hit upon the fact that players loved their ships, LOVED them! And always a big hit with players was adding more ships. Tier III Battlecruisers, Faction Battlecruisers, Mordu's Legion pirate ships, Navy Faction frigates, Tactical Destroyers, Command Destroyers, Sisters of EVE ships, ORE mining frigates, not to mention an ever-growing list of Alliance Tournament prizes, gift ships, Tech II Logistics frigates... did I miss anything?

Now in PvP situations many of these ships are rarely seen due to unsuitability with combat roles or simple rarity but the fact remains that the number of ships a player must know the basics of in order to make decisions on a consistent basis in PvP has grown three fold if not more in this time. And there are more on the way in the form of the new Force Auxiliary capitals.

That's the current situation. The question is if we have reached the limit of too many ships for an average player / Fleet Commander to keep them all straight in the head now, or if we are close to hitting that wall in the future.

No and yes.

No in the sense that an experienced and competent Fleet Commander should be able keep track of the basic abilities and threat levels of all possible combat ships with the notable exception of Alliance tournament ships which are rarely seen in space. As new ship types get added its expected that the current FC cohort consumes the new data and integrates it into their OODA loop. Similarly, experienced pilots should also do the same to make sure they are up to date on the possible battlefield conditions.

However, I say yes in the sense that for a new player and new aspiring Fleet commander, the current array of possible ship names, classes, and threat levels to assess is staggering and daunting. I have concerns that this is going to recreate the stratification effect we had to begin with and make it difficult for new players to get into PvP or commanding fleets.

The new overview with icons per hull class help a little bit, but only a little. You can tell a frigate from a cruiser, for example, but you can't tell a combat frigate from an exploration frigate from an assault frigate without knowing the ship names and their classes intimately.

What I think should be added is a one click button on the overview to get a ship info card (not the whole Show Info window) that gives the basic information on a ship: its image, Faction, size, role/class, and if applicable main weapon types. That would help a lot for newer players and even older players that got rusty (or are just bad).

One thing is for sure, more ships in the future is probably the rule of the land.

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