Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Out of the fire into the frying pan

"What is the future of low sec and NPC null sec as the economic center of gravity shifts from high sec toward null sec?"
Blog Banter #56 - UPHEAVAL
With Kornos and the upcoming industry changes following 6 weeks behind it, things are set for a vast upheaval in the coming months. Before he packed his bags and left Mord Fiddle asked some interesting questions:
The common wisdom in EVE Online is that, beyond the odd high-value moon or Faction Warfare scam, there's little in low sec or NPC null sec to the attract ongoing attention of the big-dogs of null sec, with their large fleets and super cap doctrines. It's assumed that NPC space simply isn't worth the bother of controlling even if one could control it.
Is this about to change?
The shift in industrial inefficiencies from high sec to NPC low sec/null sec has begun, adding value to NPC space outside of high sec. In the recent B0TLRD accords CFC claimed two NPC null sec regions, Venal and Syndicate, as part of the CFC sphere of influence.
What is the future of low sec and NPC null sec as the economic center of gravity shifts from high sec toward null sec?
Also, you can take this banter as a chance to discuss the ramifications of the style of play in low sec and NPC null sec if it does happen that major industry shifts there.
With the departure of CCP Dr.EyjoG and Fiddler, i give you two quotes from both of them that will shed light on my trepidation about the cliff CCP is marching over to the tune of null sec.
But the development team still has to tweak things, and a trained analytical eye can be useful to that end. "My role is to ensure that there is a certain level of stability," concludes Gudmundsson, "and that no changes are made without understanding the economic impact. ~Gamasutra interview (2008)
"In order to realize their in game agenda, The Mittani® and company are pressing for changes to a number of foundational game mechanics.  While pitched primarily as attempts to 'fix' the self-inflicted paralysis in nullsec, the desired effect is quite the opposite.  The primary immediate beneficiaries of the desired changes are The Mittani® and company.  They are intended to make holding sov nullsec even more profitable than it already is, and allow nullsec's dominant entities to further lock in their control of that space.  Further, the proposed changes allow the lords of nullsec to gain a stranglehold on New Eden's means of production and key inputs thereto." ~The Icarus Agenda
Conversely, my trepidation is most likely tinfoil hattery. #1 - The economist most likely left for a prestigious posting, since if he's going to start afresh why not start completely fresh?  #2 - I never liked the old economy mechanic as a way to entice n00bs to enjoy the game. #3 - CCP cannot be blind to the fact the entire purpose of their game is to drive players to null sec in order to have more control, regardless of how truly clueless they are about the way the game is actually played by people forced to adapt to CCP's mechanics coded by people long gone.

So, with that out of the way, what's my take on what will happen in my neck of the woods? Well, there's not many industrial centers in low sec Fua (Amod SOE and Naguton SOE stations), Goinard to the north and not much until you get to Ami constellation's Ministry of Internal Order factories...although there are no laboratory services among the locations i just sketched other than Goinard's Impro station (the old home of VETO)
What do I think will change? Well, those stations i mentioned have always been the magnets for players anyways so it's not like the landscape will radically alter. I don't see the being dramatically different. In fact, i think the only thing this huge economic restructuring will result in is more profit margin for null sec - same price costs as high sec, just more profit for them...Would they attempt to undercut their high sec competition? possibly, but i doubt it since it'll still be the same 0.0001 game in Jita.

To me, Eve has always been a screensaver game with a built in chat function. Since those that play this game obviously realize this fact as well, therefore this myth of the high sec WoW wannabe carebear who're rabidly risk averse is about as prevalent as the naysayers who themselves are usually risk averse pvpers wanting easy targets. Assuming i'm correct, and the risk-averse are in everyone's imagination, the corollary is that I don't think there's many that will bother changing their ways if they're risk-averse...it is, after all, a game and people enjoy playing it at a lower efficiency all the time; Conversely, I seriously doubt null sec will reduce their market share just to undercut their high sec brethren (remember the cartels of old?)

Amod SOE station is one of those huge dockring caldari monsters just calling out to be a homebase for industrialists escaping the industry hubs close to mission centers. I'm sure cyno wrecks will be common place IF the doom and gloom "the end is nigh" drama queens are even half right. I seriously doubt it'll be a huge shift nor will any new work force teams gets hired on there. I just don't see the attraction of spending jump freighter fuel in order to undercut high sec producers...i really don't see it as a non-trivial event. I'd be shocked if Amod factories became busy with industrialists...Well, maybe a short trial period where the clueless carebears get ganked left and right until they slink back to high sec?

Will there be more targets in low sec? I hope so, since low is becoming alot more attractive to those that actually WANT to live there opposed to selfish greedy anti-social high sec denizens. Maybe i'll find more like minded industrialists flocking to my neck of the woods...that would be bad for competition but great for socialization and hopefully intel sharing. Yet, realistically speaking, there will be no real increase in population other than old veterans giving it a whirl or clueless folks getting ganked in the chokepoints.
But, you see, either way I welcome the changes as a positive thing and am actually excited about the Prospect. I'm excited about actually having fun in low sec now (not just the feeling i could do MUCH better in high sec)...In my eyes, a career choice of a low sec miner is viable and thus 'fun' because the ability of others to interrupt my gameplay is greater than high sec but no prohibitively so (if the prospect is that game changer, which i think it will be)
The question for myself is simple:  Do i want to spend all my time safe and snug in high sec mining ice or actually enjoy the short time i get each day to play eve? AFK play is rewarding knowing that i can do both chores IRL and play eve at the same time, but i really would like some excitement that i initiate sometimes...most times i'm busy investigating, exploring and/or surfing the web.

In my mind's eye i see those that really enjoy mining, without stupid botting hulk fleets silently sulking on depleted belts, making a living in low sec for the first time. Blops mining (a redeemer to keep the field clear of rats & wrecks, and everyone cloaking up when the roamers go by) will become a reality especially if miners can warp while cloaked.  The issue of giving links to such a fleet would need a strategic cruiser, yet that would tie up two pilots (blops and t3 linker with covert subsystem)...Personally, i'd set up shop with a BC (tech1 or 2) with links and a cloak just in case...or maybe a deepSS with ECCM out the wazoo to make it unprobable...that even possible with a ship that size? hmmm
Anyways, point is, i'm a miner for life. I love mining. I've also loved the idea of mining in low sec with pirates around to gank the unwary competition...A place where i don't have to be beholden to the local 'presence' if i felt like it. The prospect, and the new industry changes, actually makes a low sec existence viable (albeit probably not as lucrative as other careers) and therefore fun. 
I define 'fun' as being able to finance my losses and modest ambitions from my own virtual pocket, not plex via $$$. I've always, except a few short instances, been paying $ for my subscriptions. I'm fine with that...i don't need to prove anything beyond those requirements in the first sentence.

TL;DR - plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose...For myself it seems like i'm finally leaving the chaotic 'fire' of trying to jury rig ventures and procurers to cloak up and landing on a 'frying pan' of prospects and blops. It'll still be the same old low sec, just with a reason to leave my safe high sec ice belt and start living in low sec for real.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

the 100th monkey syndrome

never really paid attention to ECM before, after reading GamerChick42's latest blog entry, so this will seem completely random - although not out of character i suppose. I'm suggesting a change to how ECM works - to remove it's ability to negate locking ability and replace it with optimal/falloff range reduction instead.
"Like Kaeda touched on, small gang pilots in low-sec often employ strategies and a gameplay style where each member of their gang is important on an individual basis. This also means that the chance of having a member taken out of the fight by being tied down with ECM is an even more devastating prospect then it would be in a situation where you may be at risk of losing the firepower 1 of 30 Caracals, or etc.
It is for this reason that ECM seems to be disliked most by members of the low-sec community. In my experience, ECM is more or less an anti-conflict driver in small gang warfare, where you have very small numbers—such as less than a dozen pilots. The threat of ECM will often cause a fight to fizzle out and never begin, and the arrival of even a small amount of ECM on field will often cause one side to disengage and remove themselves from the situation."

"The frustration comes from not being able to make a counter play.
When you get tracking disrupted you can still affect whomever does it (with your own e-war or by piloting to counter the effect). When you get neuted you can still manage your capacitor by being selective about what models you cycle and when you cycle them, your capless mods work fine too. When you get damped you can pilot to counter the range effect and you don't necessarily lose existing locks. When you get webbed or scrammed you still have options too.
When you get ECM'd. Well you can leave (provided you're not tackled). The only exception is if you have drones which were set to aggressive *prior* to getting jammed. Or if you are one of those odd balls that carries auto-targeting missiles. Neither of those options allow you any control either though and rely entirely on luck (so you're still unable to make a counter play).
And in this ECM is different from all other e-war mechanics, it allows no counter play. It is also why I think it's fundamentally a bad game mechanic." 
Kaeda Maxwell

 I think the main point of the blogger was that ECM is really only good in small gang (Yet, what is the solution? It's all well and good to say something is bad, but what is better (without having the fix being worse)? All you're really accomplishing is a nerf, yet as Anon6:43 pointed out, sensor damps do just that - paper tiger ecm boats best defense is range.
So what could ECM do instead? certainly couldn't be an area affect weapon (say decloaking things or what have you...that would be silly. you'd have jump autocloak ganks all over new eden) since what attribute would it lower? targeting range and scan resolution are both taken (damps), as is signature radius (painting), and tracking speed & optimal range (disruptors)
What about falloff & target count: ECM had scripts for both lowering falloff or target management by a percentage?

OR how about going outside the box completely and deconstructing tracking disruptors? Why the HELL can a module actually lower the physical attributes of a turret rotating? seriously!
Firstly, If we're going to have an EW that hampers the actual turret on enemy ships by slowing it physically down, why not go all the way and say, "look, if we're physically going to fuck with turrets speed why not turn the disruptor into something that affects (via script) either turret speed or reload time...i mean, think about it for more than 5 milliseconds. Both are electromechanical devices...
Secondly, if you remove optimal range from disruptors you've got to think about the tracking computer as well...you'd have to fiddle with that too in order to replace the missing script option for optimal...

Thirdly, what do we have then to fill the gap? Since, modules that dealt with optimal AND falloff range are theorized, the gap would be the range modules. You'd now have a range disruptor/booster module combo to create or modify existing, yes? So a new module, or a change of an old one that drives people crazy currently?
Therefore, How about "ECM" to lower optimal/falloff (aka screwing with targeting chances to do damage)...i mean Caldari are missile based right? They'd want to fuck around with turrets, whereas Amarr do "Disruption" that could affect missile based weapons finally (reload times along with it's current electromechanical turret tracking 'disruption')

  • So "ECM" would be optimal/falloff affecting, 
  • "Disruption" would be tracking/reload, 
  • "Damps" would stay the same. 
  • "Target painters" would....well, increase just the signature radius?
  • "Sensor Boosters" would stay the same
  • "Targeting computers" would be tracking speed and reload boosting, 
  • "Range computers" would be optimal/falloff boosting.

So...what do you think?

Alternatively, what if ECM lowered the signature radius? instead of offensive, make it a defensive module like ECCM. It would be a bit harder to rationalize, and i like my previous suggestion, but hey if we're brainstorming anyways.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

CCP's vision - Hanlon's Razor

Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.  Hanlon's Razor
Ever run into the type of player who thinks he knows everything and can't be bothered with your friendly advice, or at least your attempts to figure out how much of eve's mysteries he's actually uncovered? The kind that always gets wardecced, or suicide ganked, or corp thieved, or scammed...or really any other sort of half-assed greedy lazy way to play this sci-fi mmog.  This is the sort of person who avoids risk and expects others to carry the ball. This also includes the type of amateur griefer who doesn't learn any finesse because the loopholes built into the game make his job so easy a retard with a potato gun could harm an equally amateurish corp.

It's funny that these people are so risk-averse, so blatantly dramatic about admitting their tactical mistakes (yet blind to their many strategic blindspots), yet their egos are so very overweened. Ironic i suppose.

This is exactly the mindset of CCP. These people have a 'vision' and it's very very important everyone knows about it cuz that's their selling point, yet it's merely a trite platitude they believe in. They've never had a coherent vision for this game, and likely never will. Their incoherent vision for this game is to make griefing so easy, so prevalent, that anyone can do it without half trying.  I suppose that would be an okay thing for a mmog, if all things were equal. except, they're not. In fact, the very last thing you want to do is actively attract killer types.
By nurturing explorers using software means (ie. giving the game great depth or "mystique", or encouraging non-explorers to dabble for a while by regularly adding new areas and features), the overall population of explorers will gradually rise, and the killer population will be held in check by them. The killers who remain do exert an influence on the number of socialisers, sufficient to stop them from going into fast-breeder mode, but insufficient to initiate an exodus. Achievers are set upon by killers often enough to feel that their achievements in the game have meaning. This is perhaps the most balanced form of MUD, since players can change their position on the interest graph far more freely: achievers can become explorers, explorers can become socialisers, socialisers can become achievers - all without sacrificing stability. However, actually attaining that stability in the first place is very difficult indeed; it requires not only a level of game design beyond what most MUDs can draw on, but time and player management skills that aren't usually available to MUD administrators. Furthermore, the administrators need to recognise that they are aiming for a player mix of this kind in advance, because the chances of its occurring accidentally are slim. Richard Bartle
 Thankfully, i think it's more a case of CCP so incompetent at understanding the social aspects of eve (like, you know, how we as players learn to adapt to eve's inhospitable social engine) that i doubt it's deliberately ignored...The CSM has been dominated by null sec alliances all too happy to downplay this 'corporate' aspect of eve (i shudder to think what may come of that fanfest graphic flowchart)
eve fanfest 2014 keynote - fixing corporations

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Our Vision

Let's start with a timely evemail that arrived in my inbox before the dev blog did.

Chapter 1 - The BBD

Playing the game by yourself
Just finished the tutiorials, got some cash and a shiny new ship. lets see whats this is all about. pick a direction any direction, off i go, oh wait who is that convo'ing me.
"hi n00b, im mister recruiter and ive been looking for you. i heard a lot about how great you were in just your first week and thought id offer you the oppotunity of a life time, join us and all your dreams will come true"
Right, heard that before, "I'm from the government and i'm here to help you" block, align and warp, that away
A year later, after learning how to fit a ship and mine a belt and make some isk, our n00b is in the game, but lost asking that old question "is that all there is?"
After another year, hes still in the game, expert at fitting a ship and learning to fit implants
Then learning how to optimize playing with jump clones
Still, is that all there is, i've got 100% refining, enough isk to buy what ever i want,  oh cool orcas!
Now our pilot knows how to optimize an orca for a mission with its fit plus ships inside with there fits, complexity rules, there is more to this than i thought. i think i'll play for another year
Alts! now i can have a corp and fit multiple players with complex implants selections and jump clones and pick a ship, any ship, plans and this is really changing so i think ill stay another year
At some point the question will be asked again, "Is this all there is?" at some point, playing solo, the answer will be yes

chapter 2 - Social Diseases

Bar hop till you drop
So mister recruiter gets his man, signs him up hands him over and gets his bonus, rinse and repeat. our n00b this time goes right to the rock pile with a weekly pay check, which he becomes dependent on because he has all these friends now and he has to buy things to impress them. he learns his job well, maybe gets a small promotion now and then.
But then the day comes when the question is asked "is this all there is?, i think i'll call in sick. next log on, hes out of his comfort zone and in the npc corp with only what was in his personal hanger. now what!
Join another corp, leave, another, leave, boy that's a long employment list, what are you go for again?
Goonie for a year and then gone, for good
Just because you're in a corp doesn't mean it means anything. roids, missions wormhole corps, it don't mean a thing if it ain't got... something
But what, new expansion comes out next week, lets hang around and see, just one more time

Chapter 3 - WTF

Wow, i didnt know that
 This time our n00b lands in a system and hooks up with the bitter vets. they teach him and teach him well. every session somebody says what the fuck, i didn't know that. this is really complex, i couldn't do this without you guys.
But bitter vets being the players they are have very long term views and drift in and out. sometimes it seems like nothing is happening, but only because it happens so slow.
N00b isn't a n00b anymore, and hes seen things that players 3, 4 years older haven't
Then the question get asked, "Is this all there is?"
Think i'll wander around for a while guys, maybe circumnavigate the galaxy, try some can art, maybe get famous.
We hear from our corp mate now and then but after a while, nothing. that's all there is

chapter 4 (i think)

cha·os  [key-os]
a state of utter confusion or disorder; a total lack of organization or order.
Well this time n00b is getting recruited and something completely out of the ordinary happens, a ceo from day zero shows up and rescues n00b.
Look son , here's the plan. just like you can plug modules into you ship for different missions, i can plug pilots into my corp for different expeditions. pick a profession, any one you like, theres a place for you with us.
But you're a mining corp, i don't want to mine all day, is that all you've got.
No, we have a plan to conquer chaos.
But chaos cant be conquered
Yep, i know that, the plan is the thing, not the conquering, we're like vikings, mostly sit at home tending the belts and training, lots of training and planning. in the spring we set out to see what we can do. most people think we're after the loot, because we get lots of it, but thats not what it all about. anybody can steal all of your wine, we celebrate stealing all of the wine, without spilling a drop or waking anybody up. when somebody ask "How do you do that", we say "Very well!" thats what they remember us for.
Come play with us and you *will* be remembered
Tell me more, please
Ok one time we organized our selves into divisions, navigation, communications, security, resourse extraction, survey parties... really detailed stuff, a plan to overcome chaos. we had pilots trained in null sec covert ops and then spend weeks looking for the right systems to raid. we had planning sessions where we brainstormed how to get in and out again, what the break even was risk and reward ratios, you name it we tried to prepare for it. lots of fun, everybody had something useful to say. and we caught spies too, that was fun, at least for us
After the system, actually a whole constellation, had been locked in, forward parties went out, logistics started placing supplies, war parties suited up. another 2 weeks went buy before we finally rolled. the pre show tension was great, maybe the best part of the whole thing. first thing we did was take the gates, nobody got in and out again, i personally saw 5 ships webbed at the same time and the pilots forced to exit and jump out of the system, we're not murders you know, though we're good at fighting and killing, we took all of their ships and parked them at a safe spot and emailed the owners after we'd left with the bookmarks
Then the fun began, once all ingress and egress was controlled by us, the rorqs cynoed in and the orcas showed up full of ventures with greed fits and leathal war birds. pilots clone jumped to the rorqs in each system and started taking out the roids and ice, others burned all of the rats out and another team flew salvage, sucking up everything. blocade runners haulled every thing out on a continuios basis and stealth bombers flew escort.
It was the most complex raid i'd ever seen. we got away with everything in the system, without killing anyone or loosing a single ship. tons and tons of stuff, null sec resourses. and we got all of it like ninjas and were back home before the war decs even started.
We faced chaos and beat it. we out planned it and we out trained it. and we excuted it like a ballet. you can ask around, people still talk about it, we're legends
The one day old n00b with his jaw hanging open just has to ask "But Is that all there is?"
Eleven year old ceo and master of eve says no, that's not all there is, next year we're planning something bigger, want to join us?
N00b just says yes, for life
Author: Eitheror Andorian
Devblog the day after outlining a ship that enables the dreams i had about mining in dangerous areas of space...the very areas i feel most at home. Where ore isn't mined out by greedy afk botting morons day in day out. Where you can usually interact with players who pay attention to local chat. Where the regulars will get to know your reputation and visa-versa, including your bad habits. Where i've always experimented with cloaked miners of some ilk, for it seems the ability to sit there mining in low sec and just cloak up and wait for the enemy to leave to start up mining again. Where i've always hoped i could refine ore into all the minerals i'll ever need to build stuff (aka the missing megacyte)

Does the tech2 mining frigate actually rival high sec mining?
seeing as how my venture skills are lackluster i'm training the skill on my alts in the test server. stay tuned