Reversal of Fortune

EVE Online


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Locking Onto Your Story

EVERYONE LOVES A GOOD STORY

Take a moment and think about your favorite epic film battle. The one where even after watching it many times – you still are at the edge of your seat. Perhaps it was the spaceship fleet battle from ‘Star Wars: Return of the Jedi’ that you grew up with. Maybe the chaoticness of when the Alliance and Reavers clashed in ‘Serenity’. Maybe something much older and less spaceship like; ‘They Were Expendable’ and the hecticness of the pacific sea battles. ‘Lord of the Rings: Return of the King’ and the legendary battle that leaves the viewer in awe. ‘Braveheart’? Or maybe even the Battle of Blackwater Bay in ‘Game of Thrones’?

We sit back and reminisce the amazing stories and conflict within those battles. It is the many intertwined stories and personalities that when woven together, is an epic clash of violence we are left in awe that lasts for a lifetime. Stories that touched our very soul so much that when you meet someone who has not witnessed the glory of your favorite film battle you insist that they stop everything they are doing and watch said film. You even revel in the idea of watching it with them all the while stealing glances at them to see their reactions during the film. And after you are so eager to talk about what they just watched, hoping they love it as much as you.

The same excitement can be found when you try, in your own unworthy words, to describe the battle scenes. Explaining the motives for such a thing. The drive of all the key characters and why each individual’s actions lead up to an amazing conclusion of human emotion in the ultra raw form of battle. You paint a picture down to the finest detail of all the actions, and either by the characters design or fortune causes amazing ripple effects across the entire battle.

To either hear or tell; everyone loves a good story.

ONE STORY TO RULE THEM ALL

EVE Online has some very interesting stories no doubt. From the single player who becomes greedy and steals everything not nailed down, up to massive scale battles that make major gaming news sites take notice. While the single player deciding to make big waves by theft, betrayal or some other non-combat method is very compelling to hear about. There is a major problem with the story telling for battles in EVE, In my opinion it is catastrophic.

A critical difference between those stories from the films and books we love is that the battles for EVE  can be summed up with one or two stories, which in many ways are devoid of anything exciting or memorable. These stories are for the most part told from the fleet commanders or those in a leadership position. For the remaining 99% of the players involved, they are just watching and listening to someone else’s story unfold in real time – or in 10% TiDi. Where are their stories? If they speak; why do their stories mimic everyone else’s so much? You line them all up and it is all but impossible to determine whose is whose. A book with a generic preface and when you turn the page to chapter one – nothing.

The honest truth is for the 99%, the line members, there is not much of a compelling story to tell. Much less one that reminds you of your favorite film battles or those found in a treasured book you have lovingly returned to many times over the years. The story they would tell is one of very little decision making, very little control over even their own spaceships’ actions! “I mashed F1”, they would say. “At one point I assigned drones, but now, now F1 is all that is in my vocabulary”. The story they would tell is about as compelling and engaging as a professor droning on in a monotone voice, lights dimmed down with their archaic slide show projector showing things on the Smoot–Hawley Tariff Act of 1930.

The story that is told comes from the select few who are actually deciding who to shoot, what to fly, how to fly it and practically everything else involved in the battle. One decent story from hundreds and even thousands of players. To say we need more! we deserve more! Is the understatement of our lifetime.

THE PUSH AND PULL OF EVE COMBAT

It has been said several times from readers in comment sections, that EVE is more fun to read about than actually playing the game. We can take a large battle and dress it up with statistics of how much ISK was destroyed, how that translates to real life currency but in the end it’s just anything to help tell the story of how thousands pressed F1. Maybe spice it up with how some guy had his guns unstacked to kill mail whore so he pressed F1 through F8 without dropping his beer. What an amazing story. I completely didn’t notice the intermission or anything. Zzzzzzz.

When people hear those stories it really pushes them away from EVE. The story is bland and in a growing number of cases – meaningless. Battles for a good time now have been losing their distinction in the story of EVE, because the individual players are not telling their story. They want to, if they had one. Not only does the lack of individual storytelling keep new players from wanting to join in serious internet spaceship battles, but worse is more and more players are pulling the chain on the last bulb in the building and walking away from EVE.

When you talk to players and ask them why EVE? what pulled you into this game? They heard or read a story. On very rare cases saw a video or trailer of the game that told a story well enough to have them try it out. They came for the story. To interact with thousands of others and to not just help turn the page of the endless saga of EVE, but to create their own story. One they are excited to create and as importantly, share with others. While this has real possibility in regards to things outside of direct battles, it is a daunting talk to fashion a good yarn from the simplistic fleet fights. Orbit an anchor and then work your way down a list of targets someone else tells you to shoot. That most certainly does not pull anyone into wanting to play. Those who currently do it because it is the most efficient way to play decent sized battles and most certainly the large ones.

The line members stories of these battles are never told. It is a story from the fleet commanders and leadership. Everyone else is just an assigned sentry drone.

WHAT IS SPECIFICALLY MISSING IN THE STORY

A line members story is handed to them cannibalized of all the interesting parts. The parts that make their story interesting. Their individual decisions on what ship to bring, how to fit it, where on the battlefield to go and who to shoot and how. Just a bad cut scene with a script pulled out of a cereal box. Even the visuals are depressing to look at with nothing but tons of different colored square brackets and bubbles. We need the tools for players to tell their story, their individual story, to be given back to them.

Because the current mechanics you would be an absolute fool to not focus all firepower on a single ship from the enemy fleet and work your way down a list. It is razor efficient and allows for one person, a fleet commander, to make very sound decisions on who that should be. Because there is almost no environment in EVE and the absence of line of sight mechanics; it is very easy to do. One person decides who everyone should shoot, seconds later they are dead and the fleet commander points the death finger and the next person. Boom. Dead.

Also due to the previously mentioned lack of environment and line of sight mechanics, having the main force of your fleet flying identical ships makes it very easy for the fleet commander to have a finger over the pulse of their fleet. They know they engagement envelope of everyone in the fleet. Their speed, agility, tank, firepower – everything. As long as they for the most part do exactly what the fleet commander says, they are in full control and the only one deciding on the story to be told.

Fleets still need commanders, but the number of different and compelling stories should match closer to the number of players actually involved.

IDENTIFYING THE ROOT CAUSE

EVE Online has little to no environment that would create a battlefield that has hills, valleys, objects or anything that would create an environment that players would need to navigate during a fight. If a target is in lock range no matter the direction or orientation; they can be shot. It does not matter if the only two on the battlefield are you and the other capsuleer or there is over a million of you. It would be just as easy to shoot someone regardless of the population on the grid. There is no line of sight mechanics that come into play at all. No need to navigate around the thousand other ships in the fight. No need for the individual pilots to make their own decisions on how to fly or even who to shoot. Because of the simplistic nature of the mechanisms we march right off the cliff and free fall into zombie mode. We take all the decision making and hand it off to the fleet commander.

Due to mechanics such as broadcasting targets and orbiting anchor points; there is very little the average fleet member has to do. There is no hill to climb, no scary choke point to fly through. The thought of trying to get a clear shot on a target is non-existent. The vast majority of the players in these fleet fights is unwritten. There simply is nothing to write about.

I am well aware that fleet doctrines have been around for a long time. There is several advantages for having the main fleet fly the exact same ship. For the fleet commander it is extremely easy to know what the capabilities of his fleet are and with that information, can spend more time on all the details of the operation. From target calling to warp ins. The simpler the better. Not to be forgot is the Ship Replacement Program (SRP) that most all major alliances run. This involves pilots flying official sanctioned ships and setups. Anything that dies and does not fit the specific ship doctrine has their ship replacement denied. Individual imagination on what ship to bring and how to fit it is forbidden.

The reason why all of these aspects are held under tight control is because it is the most efficient way to win a fight. When you factor in things such as no line of sight mechanics, going down a list of names and having everyone shooting them at the exact same is the most efficient. After all, fifty ships in half armor or even hull are still just as powerful and maneuverability as fifty ships with full health. You would be a fool to not focus fire and work your way down a list. At least you will be removing incoming damage at a rate that is noticeable during the fight instead of see all the enemy ships explode at the very end of a long battle.

ALLOWING PLAYERS TO WRITE THEIR STORY

So how do we add dimension to the battlefield? Enough to break the mold without breaking the game? There has been talk over the years that it would be interesting if space had more anomaly stuff in it to help break up the mundane fights. Perhaps some clouds or debri that players would need to work around. Certainly would be more interesting than what we have now – nothing. But what about line of sight? If EVE had something that presented the challenges of avoiding friendly fire and or obstacles, it would shake things up enough where normal players can regain some of the control from the fleet commander.

While I’m going to avoid suggesting physical objects in space, I would like to address the line of sight part. I feel like if something could be done here, something to somewhat mimic the concept a bit, it would do the trick. No longer would everything be so simple that one person can fly around with effectively hundreds of drones assigned to them. I believe that it would go so far as to break away from the massive fleet doctrines. Perhaps we could finally touch upon what it is like to be in those massive battles we all love to hear, read and watch. The ones where it is not just one giant battle, but can be broken down into dozens and even hundreds of smaller battles going on within it.

The players will be allowed to tell their own story in their own way.

SENSOR IMPEDIMENT

The idea is rather simple really, but will have a very profound change on how we experience fleet battles in EVE. Especially the large scale ones. It should also be noted that this idea is not originally mine, but was suggested by someone from the old forums years ago. At a time before logistics could not fit large remote repair modules or even have the standard T2 resistance profile. Long before a thousand ships on a single grid trading blows was common place. Before super coalitions. I tried to dig up the poster several times, but alas I could never find the suggestion thread. I have however expanded on the idea and recruited a couple people to help with the formula and interactive graphs. Considering the range of reactions some of my articles receive and the extent some go to in order to express them; I am opting to leave their names out. They know who they are and I am grateful for their help. But I digress.

When a player goes to lock another ship, the time to lock will be determined by the current system of scan resolution and signature radius, but with an additional mechanic. There would also be a new UI addition to the overview that would effectively clue in the player how long it would take to lock the target if they chose to lock it. This could be hard numbers or preferably, a color scheme that can easily be determined how fast the target can be locked. Green for fast and red for slow. Not to be forgotten is the adding the ability to stop locking a target.

Let me dive into a few examples:

Currently a 250 man battleship fleet could all lock and fire on another single ship in just a few seconds at the exact same time. If they have enough, depending on the target and combined alpha, they destroy it. There wasn’t any effort or struggle as each one vied for position to get a clear shot. They had a clear line of sight the entire time with no interference. The target did not have the opportunity to fight off a few at a time or anything remotely interesting. One moment there and the next – erased. Out of the 250 involved in the destruction of that one ship, how many different stories were produced? You guess it, just one. One cookie cutter passage that perfectly describes the experience for everyone in that 250 man fleet.

Now let’s do that again with the Sensor Impediment mechanic

The 250 man battleship fleet are told to lock one guy, as the standard operation of current fleets by the fleet commander. Everyone starts to lock the same enemy ship. Now instead of achieving lock in just a few seconds, it takes everyone minutes to lock due to everyone deciding to go for the exact same enemy at the same time. Sure they can keep listening to the fleet commander as he continues to call targets one at a time, but this will take a very long time to do. There is of course, another option that would be far more efficient and dare I say – exciting for everyone.

What if instead of one person, the fleet commander, telling everyone who to shoot – they made their own choices? Crazy talk, I know. So these 250 individuals start locking and shooting whoever they think is the best target for them at the time. They are having to consider things they normally would not have to think about. They all start breaking off and going after all kinds of different targets. An insane amount of smaller battles erupt, all on the same giant battlefield. Why so many? Because everyone trying to focus on one target and work down a list is no longer the most optimal way to fight. Sure the first ship to explode might not happen for a little bit, but in the end far more damage was able to be applied faster than the old school target calling from the fleet commander.

BEAUTIFUL CHAOS AND EVERYTHING IT SPAWNS

Now that the battlefield has been broken up into many smaller scale fights, this kicks open many other doors. If ships are not having to be super brick tanked in an attempt to withstand the alpha of hundreds of other ships focusing fire, it means a ton of other ships can enter the battlefield and be useful. Not only a variety of ships, but the gold standard of buffer tank and tons of logistics is no longer the only way to fly and fit. Behold, local repairing ships now become an option. They were doomed before because you went buffer tank with logi backbone or was sent home in a pine box.

Logistics still have a useful role in fleets, but it is no longer the huge keystone we have now. Perhaps one is assigned to fly alongside a specific squad, maybe in addition a local repair. There is a lot of different things. A duo could retro fit a couple Oneiros to fly in tandem with each other sporting combat drones and blasters and use the remote repair bonus to help each other out. Crazy stuff.

Maybe you are a solo pilot and you jump through a gate and are greeted with a 30 man gate camp. Currently facing such a situation normally results in a gank. You never stood a chance at killing any of them before you woke up in a station. But now, with the Sensor Impediment mechanic, all of them mass locking you buys you some time. Perhaps you moonwalk out via the gate, warp off or even something more bold. You engage one of the soft targets and actually kill it before the rest of them finally lock you? The point is the gap between the vastly outnumbered and the blob just changed. No more engaging someone only to see a hundred logistics instantly erase any damage you did to the target in the blink of an eye.

Some ships feel balanced in very small numbers, but scale very badly. So much so that they become completely broken in mass numbers. EVE players are smart and quick to figure out what ships and setups take advantage of these. Everything from spider tanking Archons to navy Apocalypse to even mass numbers of Celestris. Now imagine these same fleet doctrines operating on their own, individually. Having to decide what is the best target for them and how to fly? Imagine one getting low into health and then broadcasting for repairs? Do you really think a massive amount of logistics will be able to save them in a couple seconds? Nope.

In almost all large fights, if you are unable to break the logi reps (cause more damage than the enemy logistics can repair) you have pretty much lost the battle. This is so prevalent that running the napkin math to find out of you can engage another fleet is common practice. If you know ahead of time your fleet will not be able to break the logi tank, you simply don’t fight. No stories written. Nothing exciting at all.

CCP could even add the scan resolution to all drones. Judging from the signature radius of a Garde II, I took a guess at what the scan resolution would be and placed it at 100 to plug it into the formula and see what the numbers would be. What would it be like for a massive Ishtar fleet or Slowcat fleet trying to operate under the same focus fire on the fleet commanders target we see today? 100 Ishtars trying to lock a single frigate at the same time would take a very long time. At first it sounds crazy right? But, if you think about the amount of ships and sentries – all trying to get a clear shot on this single frigate zipping around without accidentally blowing holes into someone in their fleet; things start to make more sense.

THE FORMULA

The currently the lock time formula:

Lock Time = 40000 / X * (ArcSinh y)^2

  • x = scan resolution
  • y = signature radius

Because there is no line of sight or anything that resembles obstacles an individual pilot has to make their decisions; we have severely reduced several things. If you can’t alpha a target, the enemy logistics will save it. The tank setup on ships is reduced to anything to give it the most effective hit points to compliment the logistics. Bombers can then easily obliterate these planet sized signature radius due to the plates and extenders. Flying small ships such as frigates ensures an early grave if the entire enemy fleet focuses fire on you in the blink of an eye. Jumping through a gate is an immediate loss mail if there is a massive gate camp. Many things that just don’t lend itself to enhancing the individual players experience.

Now if we alter the formula slightly to take into consideration everything targeting and or locked on that player, we get something like this:

Lock Time = 40000 / X * ArchSinh (y/n)^2

  • x = scan resolution
  • y = signature radius
  • n = number of ships locked and or targeting

By making this change to the lock time formula we are introducing the next best thing to real line of sight targeting. Large boring fleet fights are a thing of the past. Only a handful of acceptable ships allowed is also out the window. Finally, each pilot is actually having a meaningful impact on the battlefield in their own way. Every decision they make, no matter how small, will be putting ink to paper and weave a story as unique as they are.

GATHER AROUND THE CAMPFIRE

It is the stories that we remember. That we retell, relive as we dream and try to capture in a bottle like several fireflies hovering around. All the while you watch intensely wondering how this is possible. The stories of EVE battles will become robust and full of excitement. Not from just a select few, but countless players as they experience the unknown, grow as a pilot and ultimately become more than just a tiny cog is some ominous war machine. More than just some assigned drone. They will become the characters they grew up loving to watch. Fly around in a setting of endless conflict set in the vastness of New Eden. And each time they are asked what was it like. They will motion for everyone to gather around the fire and get comfortable. People will grab some popcorn and listen intently.

Because in the end – we are all storytellers.

INTERACTIVE GRAPHS

Below is each ship class with formulas based on average signature radius and scan resolutions. Keep in mind ideas and suggestions, even if welcomed with open arms, is always subject to balancing. If you would like a direct link to the Google Doc, click HERE.


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Public Auction for Which Region to Probe Next

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After receiving so many different suggestions on which region to probe next, I decided to have an auction to let the public decide which one should be next. I have created a character named Moon Mineral Surveyor. In addition to this I created an API pull that tracks wallet journal entries and a Google Chart to track it.

The idea is rather simple. At approximately 00:00 on 07-12-2014; the region with the most player donations becomes the next region to be probed and the results becoming public for all. I need that time to finish another project before I start probing again. Players just need to list under the reason box a +/- and the region name. Example: + Kor-Azor

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I’m allowing players to influence specific regions negatively should they have an interest in a specific region(s) to not be probed as opposed to splitting the amount across the other regions. Due to the API being public one should consider using an alt if they wish to do this anonymously.

I will only be probing the moons and listing the results. Taking the time to note things like who has the moon towered, jump bridges and CSAA just makes the process take longer. Time that I can spend probing more moons. Hopefully I will be able to release the information I find daily until the region is complete instead of waiting until the very end. It will just depend on how things go. I will also not be probing high sec moons for obvious reasons.

As much as I would love to walk away with untold riches, donating large amounts is not necessary to have the region you want probed. Just pay attention the total amount and chart to see which region is in the lead. So don’t get too crazy. Again, make sure you send the probing donation to the character name ‘Moon Mineral Surveyor’ only with the reason box with a + or – and the region name, watch the API feed and or check the totals to make sure you are in on the loop. The chart and totals are available on this public Google Chart HERE.


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All Fountain Moon Minerals Mapped and Public

All Fountain Moon Minerals Mapped and Public

I will keep this rather short. I have personally probed every single moon in the Fountain region. The one that has been nicknamed the ‘Crown Jewel’ of moon goo income. So rather than hold onto the information, I have decided to give all the details out for free. Every last moon mineral including all the new high end moons seeded by CCP not long ago. You will not find a more complete map of the moons than right here. I also am including some bonus information like what corporations and alliances have the moons towered. Even jump bridges, cyno jammers/beacons and CSAAs.

LINK FOR ALL FOUNTAIN MOONS

I hope you use the information well. o7


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Bridging the Gap: War Mechanics

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INTRODUCTION AND CURRENT ISSUES

War is a way of life and of course – death. For EVE Online, war is weaved into the very ships we fly. Armed to the teeth and never built for destruction. We are the pinnacle of what it means to go to war.

Not long ago the war declaration mechanic saw an overhaul. While a better system than the previous one; it still is not where it should be. The most notable aspect war declarations are lacking is the ability to scale how deep one entity can legally engage another in empire space. On one end of the spectrum, wretched peace where you are not allowed to legally engage each other outside of kill rights and low security status. Then on the opposite end of the spectrum is all out war across all empire space, legally allowed to engage anything belonging to the enemy. There is also no legal way to target specific players or corporations outside of the entire corporation/alliance they belong to. You either go for the entire corporation/alliance, every ship class across all of New Eden, coughing up an enormous amount of money. Or – you do nothing.

The lack of options is crippling!

There are even issues with defending groups closing their corporation then reforming it rendering the war obsolete, wasting the ISK of those who declared the war. Corporation hopping to alt corps, running back to a Non-Player Corporation (NPC); all of these things and more invalidate the mechanic completely.

THE FALLOUT OF POOR WORDING

Before we dive deep into the changes I have in mind, it is important to take a few moments to mention some smaller things that need to be addressed. One being the notification that a war is about to start or end.

While the mails and notifications of a war declaration do their job, the one notifying that the war is coming to an end is worded very poorly. For veteran players we know there are still 24 hours people can legally fight after that second to last notification, but for younger players; it is confusing. I spent some time talking to groups who spend a great deal of their time taking part in war declarations. They brought up the confusion of the final notification and how many new players are killed during that 24 hours thinking the war was indeed over. Here is an example of such a notification:

CONCORD invalidates war declared by The Pursuit of Happiness against Northern Coalition.

From: CONCORD

Sent: 2014.05.04 20:36

CONCORD has declared this war invalid as it breaches one or more articles in the Yulai Convention. The war will be declared as being over after approximately 24 hours.

If you take away the very end part, in bold, and read it again; it says the war is over at that very moment the mail/notification was sent. The header plainly says Concord has invalidated the war, but only at the very end does it say in 24 hours it will be over. I understand EVE doesn’t need to be turned into some theme park game, but things like this need to be reworded and have better interaction with the players when a war starts and ends. Changing the notification wording is a start, but we can go further to improve the player experience. There should be more visual indications, especially with the changes I am suggesting. There should also be helpful indications and a User Interface (UI) on the game map. I’ll explain why this is needed a bit later in the article.

At the very least the notification/mail should start with, “In 24 hours the war will end…”

REAL VICTORY CONDITIONS

There is a victory condition in place now. The issue is that even after a surrender is agreed upon; there will still be 24 hours of war. Fighting can still take place and in fact does. This flaw becomes even more apparent for a group who has several wars and is not easily able to determine who is who on the overview. A group surrenders and is still being shot up regardless. The end effect is the mechanic is rarely used and if so only for a bit of extra cash to milk from the target. It echos the same reason why ransoms never really work. Anyone who pays is killed regardless and is out additional Interstellar Kredit (ISK) for nothing.

Perhaps the intent is so it cannot be used to grief smaller groups, but in the end it is broken. This needs to be iterated on badly. Not just changing the war to stop completely once a side surrenders, but also look into the possibility of other victory conditions outside of one side cutting a check. Introduce a variety of conditions that could be met.

SCALING

Instead of declaring war against an entire alliance across all of empire space; I want to see more scaling of the scope. The ability to not just pick an entire alliance, but the option to go after a specific corporation or even a single individual. As you scale down the list of targets, the price would drop as well. In addition, the ability to scale down on where these legal conflicts can take place. From the entirety of empire space (high and low) down to regions, constellations and even a single system. Again, the cost would scale down along with it. Finally the ability to scale on ship classes.

With these three customizable sliders on the war declaration mechanic we are able to change the scope of the conflict to things that would fall under blockades, sanctions and even personal vendettas. This would kick open the door for smaller entities to actually be able to affect the ultra large alliances. Instead of having to declare war on the entire alliance, spending up to 500 million ISK a week and only having a select few legal targets to go after; you can be a bit more thrifty with your money and go after the actual targets that will be empire space.

 

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WHO, WHAT AND WHERE

There are three sliders to adjust. Target, location and ship class. Each category has several variations that dictate the impact the war will be. Because it has many options calling it a war declaration is not entirely fitting anymore. Things start to act more towards sanctions, blockades and if on a single person scale, something like bounty hunting.

The only limit on who, what and where would come down to your wallet. The possibilities of the type of legal combat becomes limitless. You could do an empire wide scale against an entire alliance for capital class ships. Then add another in a specific constellation for battle-cruisers and larger against a specific corporation in the same alliance. Or maybe you just want to go after freighters in Jita only. Sure it would be very cheap, but you need to remember we are talking just the one ship class in one system. They could easily use haulers in that system to bypass being a legal target in Jita, move the goods to the next system and then board a freighter and go about their way. So these things would need to be taken into consideration.

The important thing is both sides have options for how far they want to go with the war and how they can work around it. Instead of the current all or nothing we have now.

UNNECESSARY COSTS

How much does a war declaration cost? It costs 50 million ISK, plus an additional cost for each member in the target corporation/alliance above 51. It will now start to increase with the 51st member and reach the ceiling of 500 million ISK at 2000 members.

Unfortunately, and I could be wrong about this but it includes characters that belong to an account no longer subscribed. Basically making the attacker pay for additional targets they will never have the chance to engage. To a degree the same can be said about characters in a group that serve as nothing more than cyno alts, Player Owned Structure (POS) stront alts and things like that. More targets that the attacker will never be able to have as a target. War fees should never take into consideration players who are not subscribed.

With this new system you could single out targets you know can be a legitimate target and pay for that. Perhaps the logistics corporation of an alliance. Maybe it is simply 20 players who will actually be in empire space. The fee for a corporation of 20 would be vastly smaller than eating the cost to declare war against 10,000 players – of whom most will never be in empire space during the entire war.

FROM GRIEFER TO TEACHER

What I am proposing is ⅓ of the war declaration fee be directly deposited from the attacker to the defenders wallet. I know, it sounds completely insane. Why on earth would an attacker pay the defender anything? Allow me to explain and try to have an open mind.

Making ISK for a new player is actually pretty rough. Outside of scamming or some other uncommon thing; they will be counting every single ISK. Sure they can stay with the NPC and farm missions, but they decide to broaden their game-play. Perhaps they are with some other friends that are new to the game. Basically they are new blood. Something the game desperately needs.

Enter the griefer group. Basically players who have tons of skill points, experience and most likely billions upon billions of ISK to fund themselves as they look for easy prey. They are too cowardly to look for combat in low sec or even faction warfare, because they might actually be shot at. Essentially, in my opinion, a cancer to the game. A cancer because every action they take with that mindset does a tremendous amount of damage to the game without ever adding anything positive to it. Again, cancerous cowards.

So this griefer group targets the new players and using a variety of tools is able to track down all the new players and keep them from actually undocking from the game. From adding them to a watch list to search agents, the new players don’t stand a remote of a chance against the griefers. They don’t have the skill points, the knowledge of game mechanics, the ISK, the ships and most likely not even the same number of pilots to even remotely compete against the griefers. They have no chance.

Now when you factor in the ⅓ war declaration fee income things change drastically. Now this small corporation of new players have a sizable amount of income. Which can be used to replace their tech 1 ships and maybe even hire some mercenaries to aid them. Combine that with the varying stipulations of the war declaration; they can decide to scale down on the ship they want to fly with and not be a legal target. Even relocate to areas that are not part of the war declaration. They now have options. Even if they decide to fight the griefers and lose, the ⅓ fee income will help supplement them.

Now this new player corporation is learning combat. Learning mechanics and not being griefed back to an NPC or deciding to leave the game completely. The once waste of space griefer group have actually funded the new players’ learning process. They still get to go after easy targets, but the degree of damage they want to inflict will dictate how much they are funding the defending group. Are they really griefing if the new players are becoming more experienced, learning and even making a profit? Something to think about for a group looking to grief only.

I’m sure some of you are still scratching your head in confusion, but hopefully the longer you think about it you will agree it helps. Even if it does not make sense in any real world environment. If it squares the circle, so be it – no matter how odd.

SOMETHING TO FIGHT FOR

As I mention earlier, there is very little to fight over. The only two things that fit this category is a POS and Player Owned Customs Office (POCO). These two things can easily be attacked in low security space without having to issue a war declaration, so it really only comes into play for high security space. There needs to be more goals/objectives during the war declaration period so that the declaration fee does not cost as much as the goal/objective itself.

Regarding a POS in high sec; there is another problem. If the defending side thinks they will not be able to successfully defend the tower; they unanchor everything and pack it up leaving nothing. I’m not implying a defender should risk everything, but there needs to be some risk in losing assets. Even if that means increasing the benefit of risking those assets in war.

Perhaps there could be some things that could not be removed. Maybe something in relation to where a group has their headquarters and offices. Something that can be interacted with if a group decides to not fight at all. The POCO has a decently high risk when you consider extremely large groups already have a monopoly on almost all the good planets. We need some entry level objectives to battle over.

There are many possibilities that this could entail and would help bridge the gap between existing in high security space compared to the rest of the game. It doesn’t need to be crippling to the side that decides not to fight for it, but offers a bit of an incentive to do something instead of sitting on one’s hands.

NO – THE COST OF SHIP CLASSES IS NOT BACKWARDS

It does look backwards when you consider the value of each class, but it is by design. With it scaling this way a group always has options of scaling down to a ship class to mitigate the war. Players start with the skill to fly frigates and the learning process takes them through the other ship classes as they scale up. This also makes it more costly for griefer groups to prey on new players. To reach a level of ships new players are flying, they will be paying a good amount of ISK to do it. ISK that will seem like a fortune to the new players. ⅓ going to their wallet. Something to keep in mind.

If it were the other way around it would be ultra cheap to lock out new players and be dramatically in favor of players who scale up to larger ship classes to escape the war declaration conditions. It also allows players the option to keep doing missions as they can choose lower level missions to do with their smaller ships. So they are not entirely locked out of making income. When you think about it this way, I assure you it makes sense.

NPC NO LONGER 100% SAFE

Right now it is impossible to have any legal action taken against players in a non-player corporation. One of the main reasons is to keep griefers in check a bit. One of the side effects is NPC is very commonly used by null alliances for empire logistics. Even when the alliance is under a war declaration, the logistics remains 100% safe behind the NPC – avoiding all risk. This needs to be addressed.

One of the great things about a new war mechanic is the ability to target NPC players. As much as I would love to allow all NPC ship classes to qualify, I think the only one allowed to be selected is the capital class for now. Perhaps in the future with enough balancing on the cost of the war declaration it could be extended to include more if not all ship classes. This is thanks to the ⅓ fee going towards the defenders. Going after a new player for all of empire space would be very costly and the whole time the new player is being showered with ISK. You begin to ask at what point are you going from being a threat to being an angel showering them with that amount of ISK? I also believe the sooner players are involved with combat with other players the better. But it needs to allow the ability for them to mitigate it to a degree instead of the 100% everything anywhere mechanic it is now.

There is a way to become involved in a war while in NPC beyond capital ships, which I will explain next.

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REAL RISK FOR NEUTRAL ASSISTING

One of the biggest problems with empire war declaration is neutral assistance. This can be in the form of gang links and logistics giving a group a tremendous advantage. So much that it is not uncommon for the majority of characters involved in a war to be outside of the actual groups who are legally part of the war.

Sure anyone who provides assistance via a module like remote armor or sensor boosting becomes suspect flagged allowing anyone to engage them, but the flag only lasts for 15 minutes and most likely involves so many that if someone were to attack one of these it would just result in other alts or buddies of the target remote repairing your target. Which of course means if you are doing this on a station they could easily dock and grab a combat ship. Then undock and engage you back. Except they have an army of logistics propping them up and most likely – you do not. Thus forcing you to drag along alts and or friends to perform logistics on you as well, resulting in some odd stalemate. Hardly compelling game-play.

So how does one increase the risk of neutral assistance without flat out disallowing it? The best way is to simply include them into the war situation when they do assist. If their wallet does not have the ISK needed to do so whatever module that would be doing the assist does not activate.

Let’s say you are a Guardian and your friend is in an assault frigate engaging one of their war targets in a battle-cruiser. You decide to be ‘that guy’ and start to remote repair your friend.

You will automatically issue a war declaration against your friends target. The extent of this new war declaration is for the system you are currently in, against your friends target and anyone else in the associated war declaration with them. Also taking into consideration the smallest ship involved in the engagement. The smallest ship being used in this engagement being used is your friend in an assault frigate. So the ship class your instant war declaration will be for frigates and larger.

So for that specific situation your wallet will be automatically charged whatever that specific war declaration would be for the location, person involved and ship size. Just like a normal war declaration, this new one will last for a week. If you do not have enough ISK to cover this, you will not be able to use any assistance module to aid them. This also includes links.

So whilst it is still possible to call on your friends for help, it really only can be done once for that specific system and will not be for free. Just as stated above, ⅓ of that fee will be going towards the target entity. You are either neutral or assisting; impossible to be both.

A TWO WAY STREET

Whatever conditions the attacker picks, the thing to remember it is very much a two way street. Here is an example:

Flameburst corporation declares a sanction (war) against Talon corporation. The conditions:

  • Location: Coriault constellation
  • Target: Talon corporation which is part of Eagle alliance
  • Ship Type: Battle-cruiser

Even though the Talon corporation is part of an alliance, it does not mean the rest of the alliance can legally attack Flameburst. Sure they could provide assistance via remote repairs or gang links, but it would fall under the neutral assistance rules as described earlier.

Flameburst could fly around the Coriault constellation in cruisers and smaller ships. If they come across a member of the Talon corporation in a battleship, they can choose to engage them. Remember the ship type selected also includes any larger ship classes. So they can legally attack the Talon corporations battleship while in the Coriault constellation. Remember that even though Flameburst was the initiator of the war declaration, it means the situation could easily be reversed with the Talon corporation flying in Dodixie with heavy assault cruisers finding and attacking a Flameburst Raven in a mission.

If both corporations are flying cruisers and smaller, neither can legally attack each other. If both find each other in battle-cruisers they both can legally engage at will. Back to the previous situation where one is in a heavy assault ship and finds the other in a battleship; the battleship will have to wait for the heavy assault ship to attack it before it can defend itself.

BOUNTY HUNTING AND INCENTIVES

On a previous article, I touched on changing the bounty payouts on ships if they were war targets and if they were on the most wanted list. I want to emphasize that again:

An additional 10% bounty is paid if it is a war target and or an additional 10% if they are the most wanted list. This means that if the target falls under both – the total bounty payout is 40% of the kill value.

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So with that change and the new war declaration change you can finally become a real bounty hunter. Browse the most wanted list searching for new targets and then specifically go after that player with a smaller fee compared to digging deep to include their entire corporation or alliance. Crowd Control Productions (CCP) can of course increase the number of most wanted from 10 to say 20 or even 50 if they like so it falls under the +10% bounty bonus.

A significant boost to hunting those with a price on their head.

CONCLUSION

This section of the sandbox needs some serious iteration. While the specific changes I have proposed is not the only way to fix it, something similar that offers the players a variety of options to engage each other is needed. Not just how to go about war declarations, but how to mitigate it if so desired.

The formula used to determine how much the war fee is really up to balance team at CCP. Perhaps security status would affect the amount? Other aspects? It really depends on how far they want to take it. I thought about an option to adjust how long the war declaration could be, but decided not to include a fourth slider. A week still feels about right.

I believe the key to helping new players want to stay in the game involves a few aspects that need work. I have mentioned in the past how terrible things like missions are. Constantly teaching players to be awful at PvP. Another one is the war declaration mechanics. When they are introduced to them, it usually involves a situation where they have no control or time to learn. I believe these changes would help tremendously.

Finally I would like to remind you that reading all of this gives an initial impression this system would be complicated. It actually would be rather simple on the player end. After all you are just deciding who, what and where. Perhaps adjusting to a new overlay for the map that shows where wars are and the conditions, but I think that is a good thing and the opportunity to revamp the map system at the same time would be nice.

Edited by: Stoseph Stuarts


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New POS Module: Skynet

There will be a new POS module coming with the Kronos release for EVE Online – Skynet. While it comes in all four race variations, the one we will be focusing on is the Gallente version.

Customization

Floating just outside the POS shield, this monster has a variety of options. It can be fitted to withstand a sizable assault for those brave enough to attack it directly. By far the most common load out will most likely be one that provides the most firepower.

For the best damage per second and solid tracking without breaking the bank; you will see this pump out almost 3,500  damage per second. Just imagine two Skynets on your POS. It will be like having two Vindicators flying with you! What is even more incredible is the range – the entire solar system. It does however require it to be manned. So forget about it obliterating your enemies while you are sleeping like other POS weapons. On grid use only requires one pilot, but for system wide range you need more. I recommend four per Skynet module.

This can be great for assisting patrols in your system, guarding key locations such as gates and even helping other pilots with PvE content. The only thing your fellow fleet members have to do is lock a target and tell Skynet to engage.

Seek and Destroy

Another amazing feature of Skynet is the ability to seek and destroy enemies who manage to warp away. Even if the enemy manages to warp off to a safe spot and cloak, like a pack of vicious bloodhounds Skynet’s fighters will find them. The fighters will drop out of warp within about 15-25 kms of the target and wait. They know the prey is close and will wait. Assigning fighters can only be done in a 0.3 and lower security system.

You could even probe down the fighters to find the location of the safe spot. Bring in other fleet members to drop bubbles and drag light drones around the fighters to decloak and smoke them out.

Dangers of Null

One of the downside of Skynet and especially customizing it for maximum firepower, is of course those brave enough to perform a direct assault on it. If you are in null security space, this will most likely come in the form of a Titan’s Doomsday. This is why I strongly recommend positioning Skynet barely outside the POS shield. Should a ship decloak on grid and light a cynosural field – approach the tower immediately.

Doomsdays cannot be fired in low security space which is a good thing for Skynet users. However I still recommend only being barely outside the POS shield. A cynosural field still could go up and Supercarriers and other nasty things could come pouring in to decimate the Skynet very quickly.

If you are still worried about a direct assault you can customize the Skynet for maximum tank buffer. This should buy you enough time to duck inside the safety of the POS shield. Having a Skynet is not cheap and will run about 2 billion ISK each. Although you can easily remove it and store it safely inside a station, I strongly suggest you consider the cost to make sure the juice is worth the squeeze.

Class Cannon

If you are not worried about the Skynet being hot dropped and want the absolute most it has in firepower; here is a fit I recommend:

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[Thanatos, Skynet]

Drone Damage Amplifier II

Drone Damage Amplifier II

Drone Damage Amplifier II

Drone Damage Amplifier II

Drone Damage Amplifier II

Damage Control II

 

Omnidirectional Tracking Link II, Tracking Speed Script

Omnidirectional Tracking Link II, Tracking Speed Script

Omnidirectional Tracking Link II, Tracking Speed Script

Omnidirectional Tracking Link II, Tracking Speed Script

Omnidirectional Tracking Link II, Tracking Speed Script

 

Drone Control Unit I

Drone Control Unit I

Drone Control Unit I

Drone Control Unit I

Drone Control Unit I

 

Capital Drone Speed Augmentor I

Capital Drone Speed Augmentor I

Capital Drone Speed Augmentor I

 

Firbolg x15

Firbolg x5

 

DPS: 3,415 – Optimal: 1875 km – Falloff: 3,500 – Tracking: 0.21487 – Velocity: 3554.5 m/s

If you are worried about fighter survivability there is also drone rigs that will increase its overall hit points.

In Closing

This entire piece is meant to be humorous, but after the upcoming Kronos release; expect to see an increase in assigned fighters now that drone upgrades affect them. I would like to take the opportunity now to give anyone who will lose these a pre-lol in their general direction. ♥

 


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Bridging The Gap: Space Police

The Lawful and Outlaws

It is something that has been around forever. The good guys chasing the bad guys. Good versus evil. Right and wrong. In high security space, a lot of what is classified as wrong is handled appropriately by non player characters dishing out justice. A criminal act is dealt with by Concord warping in and blowing up that players ship. In almost all cases an actually human player can’t do anything but ninja on the killmail. Any action they take towards the would be criminal prior to the act results in them becoming the victim of Concord.

There is the ultra rare cases where the outlaw actually has a security status low enough where another player can engage them prior to any crimes being committed. But, most of the time the outlaw uses insta-out bookmarks from stations and Orcas at safe spots safely storing their suicide ganking ship until the time comes. Also the faction navy makes a point to engage these outlaws making them not eager to stay in one spot very long.

In the end there is little to nothing for a law abiding citizen to do. Enforcing the law is for the most part completely handled by the computer controlled non player characters.

Empire Only

Right now security status can go up and down in empire space depending on your actions. The odd part is how in null security space functions. Null space is essentially the Wild West. There is no law. Any actions that normally would be considered criminal never results in a security status penalty. It is lawless space.

The odd part is that any actions resulting in a positive security status increase remains intact. One of the side effects of this system; is players performing heinous crimes in empire space, lurking back to the darkest depths of null space only to reappear a time later with a repaired security status to make them untouchable for past crimes.

This is simply broken. While I believe security status should be able to be repaired via Concord tokens buying your way back or manually going about killing the NPC pirates; these actions should all take place in empire space. The first part of this proposal is:

Security status can only be altered while in empire space. (high and low)

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Job Openings for the Police

Currently an outlaw in a system is determined by the system’s security status as well as the player’s security status. Example being a player with a -4.5 or worse security status means they can be legally attacked by players. It also means that the faction police will attack them the entire time they are in system. Which means the only time they spend in that system is just to travel through it, usually being webbed by the police speeding the process up. The second change is:

NPC police no longer attacks a player if their security status is too low.

The outlaw will still be attacked and killed if they perform a criminal act, just like right now. So nothing changes in that aspect. They of course will still be flashy and can legally be attacked, just like right now. The difference is there is no longer the NPC police helping to kill them. It will be 100% up to the players to fulfil the role of stopping outlaws if they want.

  • Players with -2.0 or worse can be attacked in 1.0 systems
  • Players with -2.5 or worse can be attacked in 0.9 systems
  • Players with -3.0 or worse can be attacked in 0.8 systems
  • Players with -3.5 or worse can be attacked in 0.7 systems
  • Players with -4.0 or worse can be attacked in 0.6 systems
  • Players with -4.5 or worse can be attacked in 0.5 systems

So in theory it is entirely possible for a -10 security status player to get in their Raven, pull a level 4 mission in Dodixie and run the mission – just like a legal citizen. Even gain the security status boost killing the NPC rats and such, just like a legal citizen. The question is; will other players find them and attack?

Aggressing an outlaw would of course start a limited engagement timer, which the outlaw can shoot back if they choose to. Concord does not respond to limited engagements. So be sure you are prepared when attempting to apprehend an outlaw.

Assisting an Outlaw

One of the most common and despised tactics in high security space is the use of gang links, remote repair and other mechanics to tip the balance dramatically in a fight. While I want to see these still remain an option, there will be a penalty for using them with regard to outlaws.

Any assist mechanic used on an outlaw will result in being suspect flagged and a security status hit. The severity of the security status penalty will depend on the outlaw it benefits. The lower it is, the more severe the penalty.

It is still entirely possible to have some super tanked up command ship hugging a station, but the difference between now and the change is they can legally be attacked just like someone using remote repairs on an outlaw. I strongly suggest using a bumping Machariel to get them off the station/gate first before you engage.

Bounty Incentives

Right now there is no incentive to actively hunt specific targets. If an entity has a bounty it pays out 20% no matter what. Another change I want to see is war targets paying more along with any entity in the top ten most wanted in the Bounty Office.

An additional 10% bounty is paid if it is a war target and or an additional 10% if they are the top 10 most wanted. This means that if the target falls under both – the total bounty payout is 40% of the kill value.

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More Content

The idea for these changes is to bridge the gap a bit between low security space and high security space. Now there is a bit of a blend and outlaw players are no longer cut off from things like market hubs and missions. There will still be those who choose not to go to high sec and have others ship supplies to them in low sec, but there is always the option if they want it.

More importantly is a much sought after play style becoming possible. Anti-pirates or more officially – the Space Police in high sec. While there is no official faction for the police, they will function in the same regard as pirates. You never really know who they are. They may ignore you and fly right by or when you least expect it – attack!

So in closing for this section of Bridging The Gap we have four changes:

  • Security status can only be altered while in empire space. (high and low)
  • NPC police no longer attacks a player if their security status is too low.
  • Any assist mechanic used on an outlaw will result in being suspect flagged and a security status hit.
  • An additional 10% bounty is paid if it is a war target and/or an additional 10% if they are the top 10 most wanted.

WOOP WOOP! That’s the sound of the player run space police.


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Coalition Sovereignty Mapping

The Goal

The simple fact is there is no such thing as truly independent sov holder in todays null sec. Everyone, either by choice or by need, has a list of blues to help them. Looking at a map of alliance sov is outright impractical. Just like you can’t specifically target a corporation in an alliance and go to war; you can’t target just an alliance in a coalition. You take on the entire thing, or you do not. With that being the case a new level of map is needed to navigate the game. Therefore; a coalition map is born.

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Those For and Against

The response to coalition mapping has generally been positive. It does make it easier to visually see what is actually happening as far as coalition control. There is of course, some who expressed a dislike of such a map. At first I was surprised, but after talking to them it became obvious why. There is a real loss of identity, especially for the smaller alliances. With an alliance level map they can point and proclaim, “Look! We are something. We matter. We are – relevant.”

This of course is meaningless on a coalition level. I don’t mean that spitefully, just truthfully. This is the current state of the game. No alliance is holding any sovereignty in null sec without having blues or as an official term – a coalition to back them up. So for most players, they see null at this level. Nothing against those who are demanding their alliance be somehow shown as some independent entity, but until an alliance takes a sov system without belonging to a coalition, there is no point in singling them out as such. Maybe in the future the days of an alliance controlling sov without needing to join a coalition will return. Until then; the coalition map will stay.

And of course, there are those who flat out state having a coalition map is some form of evil propaganda. Information is power and some will do whatever it takes to maintain the status quo we now live in – to keep the masses in the dark. That is something I can not abide by.

Collecting Data

One of the biggest challenges of creating this kind of map is due to having to gather the information on who is aligned with who. Who are their feeder alliances, their renters, their pets; all of these things. This is done by checking recent standings via eveskunk.com, failheap-challenge.com, using spies from across the coalitions, talking to the powerhouse alliance leaders and even dredging through trash such like k.com.

After a while you start to put the pieces together. There is of course semi-official lists of who is in each coalition, but if you just map out those alliances you end up with half with sov unassigned. Some are easier to place due to them being advertised as renters such as Brothers of Tangra and Greater Western Co-Prosperity Sphere.

Charts

Of course with all this data a few pie charts are easily made. Right now I am only tracking the breakdown of systems and member count for alliances that own sov. I may start including stations owned, but they don’t have an impact on coalition tracking. The map will be the main focus. In the meantime you can find the suitable tabs on the Google Doc to see the system and member count breakdown.

coalitionpiechart

Effort to Update

With Verite Renditions coalition influence map now automated and updating daily and I will do my best to keep it current. It still needs to be updated from time to time as things change. At minimum it will be updated once a week up and every other day if time permits. If you see anything that is incorrect or otherwise, mail me in game to let me know. The most recent map and data can be found HERE on Failheap Challenge.

Live Coalition Map

Recently Matril, Pink Fuzz and SmallFatCat created a live version of a coalition map found HERE. Just press the Get Data at the top and give it a moment to process.

It is still in a beta testing phase, but it is already looking pretty great. It pulls data from the API when the page is loaded and is based off the assignments of the data I collect for placing alliances who have sov. If you have feedback or want to report a bug, send a mail to SmallFatCat. Not to be forgot, is a great battle report fixer that has been growing in popularity. You can find it HERE.

Terrible Sovereignty System

Looking at the different maps, on a coalition level, over time has a different feel than on an alliance level. This move much slower and of course far less colors. If anything it speaks loudly how terrible the sovereignty system is and the extremely high bar on what it takes to hold sovereignty. Over the last month of tracking the alliances, the only new face in null to take sovereignty that was not already part of an existing coalition or remnants of an alliance collapse has been the Brave Collective, TEST and Spaceship Samurai. Then again, they both along with Nexus Fleet (who has since consolidated to a single corp and joined Nulli Secunda) had formed their own coalition – H.E.R.O.

Like it or not, the fact is that coalitions are the minimum requirement to take and hold sovereignty in EVE.

Public Standings

Perhaps it would be revealing too much in a mostly secretless game to have standings be public knowledge. I would find it interesting if they were, not only to help me with tracking alliances for the coalition map, but in the drama and content it would create. Then again, it might have a negative effect causing more risk averse behavior as groups wouldn’t engage another group if they see one of their blues is nearby. Either way, I hope this map helps those who are not in the loop and of course those who are.