Another go at the supercap solution

•November 9, 2012 • 1 Comment

So I’ve been wandering around the eve-blogs learning more about the supercapital problem. I’ve pretty much come to the conclusion that some form of superweapon or special ship isn’t the solution. Ugly as it is, the solution is probably a touch of the real world. It is an ugly word, despised in most game venues and somewhat misused in EVE. I’m speaking, of course, of logistics.

Once you put in logistics you start seeing why numbers of units get capped. You see why so many armies and navies have such large tail to tooth ratios.

Now the problem with really doing logistics is that it can ruin the fun. Make fuel a requirement and suddenly nobody travels. (On the other hand, it creates huge reasons for controlling certain locations – enter as fuel source or as critical junctions to reduce fuel burdens. Just a point.) Nobody really wants to track spare parts and wear and maintenance.

But if you don’t and you have fairly open ended production plus a bit of high end power creep you get the super blobs of Star Fleet Battles or the Supercaps of EVE.

I do not know EVE well enough to recommend a detail. But the general recommendation is fairly solid. Make larger ships – at least the supercaps – expensive to have as well as to build. More than the current relatively small fuel to move it. (yes, CCP tried. But it is basically too small.)

On the other hand logistics done without careful thought continues if not increases the alliance problem to which the maintenance-free supercaps are contributing. More pondering…

Breaking Big Revised

•November 5, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Boy, does actually looking help. EVE doesn’t need a new ship or a new weapon system. See, I’d never really looked at the bombers.

Now they’re not cheap, not like T1 frigates. But the stealth bomber carries the bomb launcher – just one, mind. Each bomb does 6400 points of damage. A stealth bomber carries only one or two bombs as they’re rather large. But, and there’s a big but here…

The EHP (Effective Hit Points) of the largest ships run into the millions. It would take more than 600 bombers to take down a fairly well done Titan, assuming all bombs hit soon enough that repair cycles didn’t get in the way. And this is why Drackar was speaking of such a radical system.

I’ll want to think further. My first reaction was to just want a specialized bomb – double the size, quadruple both the damage and the explosion radius. But that’s a bit ridiculous, first, and second it only cuts the number of bombers required in half. Bluntly, to effectively threaten megacorps I think a group of not more than 100 ships should be a viable threat — and depending on a number of factors I’ve not looked at in depth I can see the magic number being 50.

On the other hand I don’t think CCP or anyone else really wants to see Titans totally turned into white elephants. So no three-shot kill-groups or truly magic bullets.

The titan costs money and time to build. The threat should be as expensive in effort, though I’m willing to say a number of individuals acting cooperatively bringing particular toys and the skills to use them should suffice.

More thinking…

Breaking Big

•November 5, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Looking on EVE Online from the outside, one of the things I see happening is power creep. (It’s also a concern of several bloggers so I know I’m not out in left field on this.)

Specifically I’m talking of the plethora of HUGE ships, ships that are expensive and very large and at least nominally dominate the battlefield by their existence, much less presence. From my point of view, the existence of these ships is part of what’s driving the coalescence of player corps – another perceived problem in the game.

Inevitable digression time: there’s a lot of concern that the ‘exciting’ area of the game is turning into two huge alliances, and only where those two alliances edge against each other is the game interesting and ‘fun’. For PVP values of fun, of course. See, if you’re part of the alliance you really shouldn’t shoot at other alliance members, not unless you want the behemoth to crush you for being an annoyance. Anyway…

I had an idea I was mulling, and was staggered when I saw long-time player/blogger Drackarn post an article with the same basic idea. Torpedo Boats.

Now he’s been playing long enough he thought a battlecruiser was a good idea, but in my opinion that works against the basic idea. The basic idea being a specialized very cheap ship that does really nasty damage to the really big ships, but is otherwise extremely vulnerable. And as I posted in a comment, I think there’s a better way than building and balancing a specialized battlecruiser.

That’s to make a specialized launcher. See, there’s a missile that does really heavy damage to the capital ships but due to the mechanics of the game doesn’t do much to non-capitals. They’re called Capitals, and in particular Capital Torpedoes. The problem is that the normal launcher is huge and pretty much unavailable for anything smaller than a capital ship.

But a major reason for this is that it holds a lot of missiles, and can be reloaded from ship cargo, and a whole bunch of other things that… think rotary torpedo launcher on a modern warship to get the idea. Which in concert with the WWII torpedo boat idea gives a possible solution.

Make a specialized launcher. It carries one capital torpedo. Just one. It can’t be reloaded from the ship, but has to be done as a dockyard exercise. And because of these conditions it could be fit on a frigate in one of the launcher slots.

It’s still going to take developing the skill tree to Capital Torpedo. But what this means is that a small corp can go on a raiding party with cheap frigates looking for Big Game.

Now, I’m not involved enough in the game to know if one missile is enough for concern. My guess is it isn’t — that even a half-dozen might not matter. It might be that for balance they need two or three per launcher. But the rest of the difficulty and limits block most of Drackarn’s concerns. A ship with one of these has sacrificed a ‘normal’ weapon slot. It is worthless against almost anything else, and as a frigate is an eggshell waiting to be smashed. (speed and size provide avoidance defenses, but if the hammer ever catches up the ship is dead.)

The most likely “abuse” I see is throwing these on cloaking ships. I find this doesn’t bother me all that much – it’s still one shot per launcher and then go find a base or a hangar that’ll refit another launcher.

My swag is that this launcher package would probably cost more than most of the frigates that might carry it. But that’s still a crapload less than the capital ships, and goes a long way toward reducing the need to be part of the mega-alliance.

Confirming assumptions.

•October 25, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Today, however, I was scrolling through CCP_Diagoras tweets. Lo and behold, back on May 10 of this year he had this gem:

John Turbefield ‏@CCP_Diagoras
Mining numbers! Average mined per day for the 7 days before escalation: High (2.7bn m3), Low (9.3m m3), Null (696m m3), WH (97.7m m3).

Wow.

For every m3 mined in Lo-sec we see over 10 come from wormholes, 77 come from null-space, and a whopping 300 come from hi-sec.

Now, I’ve read several EVE bloggers who complain about all the players who just play in hi-sec, never risking the PVP for which EVE is famous. And even though I’m a carebear myself, I agree. The nature of EVE is such that players should face risk. Heck, the nature of most MMO gaming is that they should face at least some risk.

However, there has to be reward to justify the risk. There has to be a reason for players who are highly vulnerable to put themselves out where they can be shot, where they have to learn at least how to avoid, evade, and escape unwanted attention.

At the same time, there’s a push by a lot of players to make hi-sec even safer — to create a true safe-haven. And a lot of players is a lot of money; they are not going to get ignored. My opinion, they SHOULDN’T be ignored. Just… not allowed to win every angle of the agreement.

Obviously this means I disagree with the players who say CCP should make hi-sec even less safe instead of safer. I’m not convinced roiling the waters will push players into rougher seas. Instead I think it’ll just push them out. As I said, I think the key is to pull instead of push.

There are some players who suggest making ores dependent on security levels. In some ways this is tempting. It pulls players out if they want anything but Veldspar. The downside is the stratification. And, in my opinion, the fact it doesn’t play hard enough on the greed button. It’s also a major disruption from what was to what is. Yes, this happens with every revision. But suddenly never having Veldspar in lowsec or nullspace? It’s a bit much, I think, to require SOVspace to pay for miners in high-sec just for the most used minerals.

My recommendation is to play the quasi-reality card. After all this time hi-sec mining is reaching a point of diminishing returns. Reduce the amount of ore that can come from any asteroid belt – “simply” change a number of hi-sec mineral asteroids to something else. Or extend the reset timer. Or reduce how much is available per asteroid. Or a mix and match of the above, with extras.

In simple keep Hi-Sec as safe as it is (or even safer) but reduce the potential for mining wealth. Make the real money, the real gains, in null, WH, but especially lo-sec space. I think the churn will be more fun for everyone in the long run.

Snicker, snort

•October 22, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Way back in the early days of playing WoW, a common complaint was the AV leeches (or AV campers). Alterac Valley was a fairly large battleground. Lots of effort, lots of dying. At some point (I don’t recall when and it doesn’t matter) Blizzard decided to give points just for being there. And thence came the leeches, the campers, who would enter the game, run to some out-of-the-way corner, and go afk for a while. AFK farming has always annoyed me — at least as much as bots, frankly. If you’re going to play, play. Anyway, Blizzard eventually, over several patches and upgrades, eliminated it. They did so with plenty of warning from the various patch notes.

Enter EVE. The AFK farming here is Faction Warfare (FW) farming. Pop into an area, your presence contributes to success, and you get lots of points that you can use to purchase niftiness. As with most economies, the flood of wealth moved the price of other popular things – like PLEXES (my particular issue) – upward. After all if everyone is buying the things, why not? (Inevitable digression – I’m not sure this is the only or even the main contributor to the rising PLEX prices. But it is a contributor.)

Anyway, CCP had a bit of fun. They announced today that they were killing the AFK farming. Basically you can’t just jump in and sit around while others do the killing. If you don’t at least damage the NPCs, you don’t get LPs. And the nature of the game, of course, is that once you shoot you will be hunted — afk is bad for survival. There are also a number of changes to how much you can buy with your accumulated LP points. Prices (for Points) are going up a lot.

Actually they’ve warned for a while they were going to do it. What they announced today was that they were implementing this change two months early. To be specific, at the next server roll-over. Less than 24 hours (less than 8 as I write this). The farmers are going nuts. They thought they’d have plenty of time to load up on stuff then sell it when the prices changed. Now, they’re feeling short-changed.

Well, the ones who read the developer blogs. Or who pay attention to the change notices at start-up. Which, let’s face it, isn’t typical of most players much less those into AFK playing.

I’m giggling. I caught a couple of conversations, and I’m full of glee.

Good for you, CCP.

a bit of game breaking

•October 18, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Or at least that’s what they’ll have you believe, the old-timers. And in some ways they’re right. The “Old Way” isn’t going to stick around.

I haven’t played at the big end, but at the little end the idea of a dedicated healer is, well, it isn’t possible. The best you’ve got for frigates is spider tanking — think taking a warrior and giving each of them a healing wand that they use with some negatives. If every fighter pushes healing to everyone else, and on call focus on healing whoever’s taking, it’s almost as good. More or less. For PVE. And to a small degree PVP, but only if your opponents don’t have their acts together.

What’s going to change is the frigate healers. They’re as fragile as any other frigate, so “kill the priest” is still valid. But like having healers they’re really beneficial.

Numbers. The spider sacrifices one gun slot to throw 96 points of ‘healing’ (for shields) every 5 seconds, and the ships have to remain within 4 km of each other. The Burst (the shield healer) can be expected to throw up to 144 points per gun slot every five seconds. And since it’s not shooting it can fill three gun slots. 432 points of healing over 5 seconds, or 4.5 ‘warrior’ slots freed up. Let’s assume a spider of 5 ships each with 3 gun slots – 2 guns and one healing device. That’s 10 guns. We drop one fighter for a healer. We lose 0.5 healing and pick up 2 guns.

Oh, and I almost didn’t mention. The healer gets to sit 24 km from the fight. In a knife fight brawl with short range weapons that helps, a lot — and a lot of frigate fights are knife fights. In long range fights the healer just keeps the fighting frigates between it and the attackers – not because they can stop the attack, but because the extra range can still be “out of range”.

But that was an equal exchange. Where this is really going to make a difference is for duos and trios. A duo … 432 healpoints every five seconds neutralizes a hair over 86 dps. Good fits of T1 frigates do 200-250 — heck, Jester’s FOTW Thrasher only gets 300. Provided the supported frigate can stand the alpha strike, the healer cuts a third to half the DPS of the attack.

Caveat here that should be obvious: Tier 2 and 3 frigates can get a lot higher. But that, like today’s good healer ships, takes time to train and costs a lot of money. Right now you can pick up a Burst for under 70KISK. In case you don’t play, that means you can buy several after any one of the training missions. They aren’t quite gimme ships, but they’re close.

There will be a lot of tweaking, of course, but players should be completely unsurprised to see frigate gangs with a handful of healers making old-fashioned heavy-hitter gangs cry. If you’re a heal-oriented player, your opportunities to play have climbed significantly.

(before I go I’d also like to reference Jester’s Healing Scimitar. It’s a parallel – and to be honest the inspiration for this post – only at the cruiser level. Cruisers are also easy for new players to get into – certainly within the first couple of weeks – but it’ll take a month or so to be really good with the skills due to various frigate-level prerequisites. I’m going to guess that eventually the Big Healers – the T2 Logistics ships that need Logistics skills – are going to be eye-opening. At the same time heal-oriented players can learn the basics before they jump into the epic battles.

But it’s still going to change how things work. And that will bring tears to long-time player — well, some of them anyway.)

More bits and pieces

•October 18, 2012 • Leave a Comment

I’ve taken a couple of additional runs at my little challenge. The most recent did very, very well. Unfortunately I think it is also about the best I’d be able to achieve. And it makes me frustrated.

See, I earned 420MISK by day 14 of the challenge. I intentionally cashed everything out, and then I put in a bid for a PLEX. When I first assembled this challenge, a mere two months ago, I’d have had my PLEX, activated the trial account, and started playing. Now, however, PLEX are running around 600MISK. And barring more luck than I got this time (and I did get a couple of breaks) I don’t see making 600MISK.

So I’ll put the idea on the shelf for a while. There are some major changes to EVE Online in the wind and they may include something that pops the PLEX bubble — if it’s a bubble. If that happens I’ll pop in a trial and aim for the challenge.

I will be talking about some of the changes later. I think the game’s going to have some rage-quitters, and at the same time may suddenly be a bit more fun for current non-players. (Thinking mainly of the people who, like me, drift to being healers first.)

Later, and have fun.

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.