Previously, the “In its Wake Will Follow a Storm” article, reviewed events leading up to CCP’s announcement and predicted a storm of complaints would befall CCP. Indeed the storm followed, and delivered a torrent of feedback, just what CCP wanted. The comments section of the devblog is well over 150 pages so far. Articles on EN24 and other newsites garnered hundreds of comments, mostly ideas and misgivings. The whirlwind discussions are hopefully leading into FanFest where they can be discussed in front of panels of devs.

Lead on the changes is CCP Fozzie, who has only communicated once since the release of the devlog. When the controversial jump changes were announced last year, the lead on that mechanics change was (former) CCP Grayscale who was very responsive and seemed to relish out-thinking the player-base. In contrast, CCP Fozzie takes a very calm and cautious approach, as if he were trying to ease up and pet a lion with a thorn in it’s paw.

“Hey folks, thanks for the feedback so far… I want to reassure people… I can’t blame people for being cautious…There’s a lot of other areas where we’re seeing your concern…” – CCP Fozzie

Not to mention the amount of words dedicated to assuaging readers concerns in the devblogs, most of it indicating his understanding of player concerns. Considering the wide spread affect of sov mechanic changes, and the deeply invested veteran players it hits, CCP is listening to the feedback and writing notes without much of a defense of the mechanics.

CCP 2.O

CCP’s strident past had all the markings of a defiant young band of developers taking on the word and inviting the players to join them. EVE was an exciting place as devs delivered huge expansions, delivering loads of content to work towards. Dev’s were leaders and celebrities for the players, but CCP came to accept that piling more content on top of content was not the answer, since the real game was always the players competing against each other, even outside the game.

After CCP took a few years to fix some pain points, they hired and promoted, the very unlikely, CCP Seagull to lead the EVE developers. The quiet voiced, female, that practically whispered her way through presentations, was handed a game built by mainly Nordic men, that fostered a “Shoot’em in the face!” mentality by the mostly male players. The very unlikely Seagull, stood in sharp contrast to the virtual world she had been handed. Yet, she is a revered Executive Producer EVE , able to garner enough trust and goodwill to take EVE to a new level. Her quiet voice is eagerly anticipated, hushing crowds that are engaged with her in the direction EVE is going.

seagull

 Eco Systems

Seagull’s ego-light vision, to get CCP out of the way, and to focus on player’s and their relationships with each other, seems to be the basis for CCP’s new development as well. The traditional development ideas of creating new “thrones to conquer,” are being replaced by the creation of an eco systems (weather, terrain, lunar cycles). Both systems move players, but the former can eventually be solved by a king of the hill, while the latter can mutate into a different set of living conditions. CCP can use levers to manage null-sec sov like governments manage an economy, which fits nicely into their new role as custodians of New Eden, not creators of it.

This strategy was a part of goal number seven:

“We have intentionally built many aspects of the new system that can be easily adjusted and tweaked. This will allow us to incorporate the feedback from the community before release, respond to problems or stagnation after release, and replace specific parts of the design with new types of gameplay as they are released in the future.” – CCP Fozzie

Note “the details” missing from the sov devblog:

Fitting requirements for Entosis link module – will dictate the ships can be used, however big or small. We only know they discourage supers right now. If it needs to be a new sov ship that can easily be created to replace the module.

Invulnerably schedule – dictate how much sov can realistically be defended. If 1:100 structures go invuln in your 4 hour window you can control a lot of space, but if 50:100 structures are at risk, not so much.

Loot schedule for Drifter salvage – determines how pervasive the e-links get, which effects tactical strategies like how much you protect the link ships or how many you bring. R/K selection theory comes to mind.

These details were deliberately left off until after the players of New Eden had a chance to theory craft the new mechanics. After the feedback is in, CCP will probably err on the side of status quo, for a dev cycle before they carefully nerf as little as possible, much like the nerfs of recent months: a little at a time. With shorter release cycles CCP can keep the game tuned, and simmer null-sec steadily. The sov mechanics are a fluid framework that can be dialed in by CCP.

“So if problems show up in discussion and playtesting we’re happy to let players try to find a counter and then relatively easily step in if that counter doesn’t materialize.” – CCP Fozzie

Most of the issues players are objecting to can be dealt with by the players as they figure out how best to counter and counter-counter tactics. If at some point an imbalance arises, CCP will likely make adjustments using their levers (ratios, frequencies).

 ccpcustodian

Early Fears

Time Zones

For many years, alliances picked up corporations in different time zone to make sure they had 24 hour coverage. Australian time zone corporations were coveted because a lot structure timers were set to downtime (in Aussie TZ), hoping that the 30-60 minutes time-out would discourage fleet participation of the attackers. Alarm clock Ops were common in “time zone warfare.” The result was that an alliance had members from all over the world. The Prime Time mechanic may put a chill on that, segregating players into time zoned corporations and alliances.

“So you’re going to see us asking a lot of questions in a number of different areas to the players who have opinions on the way we handle time zones in Sov. The goal is to get to the core of the concerns people are expressing about these mechanics, figure out what player needs we are missing in this draft, and see if we can’t design a system that meets more of those needs more effectively. I don’t expect we’re going to make everybody happy, as time zone mechanics are one of the stickiest design issues in a worldwide single shard MMO. However we do think it’s likely that your feedback can help get us to a better design than what we have right now.”- CCP Fozzie

oldsov

Defending Space: Empires in Constant Decay

Most incumbent sov holders (CFC and N3) are troubled by the harassment they will receive, since the attackers can reinforce on a whim, or blitz your holdings and cause a huge mess. This, day after day, even when most people are away on RL vacations.

Sov holders have a false sense of entitlement to be whole and should get comfortable with always having some structures in reinforce mode. The UI insures that defensive strike force leaders can see where the real trouble spots are and send a team, like a fire department putting out actual fires. Trying to prevent reinforcements should be reserved for slow days. Empires in constant decay, just like RL.

That hyper vigilance lasts four hours and when prime time closes everything is saved that was not contested. Any griefer without real intent will have his bluff called when the Prime Time window closes. Now it’s time to go on the offensive.

dust-eve

Sidelined Capital Ships

Pheobe’s jump drive nerfs and fatigue were a fix for TIDI, which was a fix for slow servers, a reality of a single shared server. The nerf was pushed by an exiting dev, and definitely complicated matters for sov holders, but it didn’t shift the map, nor did it stop big fights initially. What it did do was allow large sov holders to kill solo unaffiliated capital pilots in their areas, usually while they were preparing to sell the ship.

before-after-sov1

Phase two has very little to do with jump changes. They appear to have been born of two different strategies. The jump changes were a nerf to force projection reach, but the new sov system made them irrelevant to sov, thus making jump changes practically obsolete. In fact, jump fatigue works against the “defenders advantage” when using alliance jump gates.

Even if super capitals are needed to meet another super capital force, the supers and dreads are too slow to move around the constellation as a group, and they are too vulnerable outside of a group. Super capital fleets will still be used to capture and hold moons, which is where they will be used until those structures eventually change to the new system. By then, supers will probably have a different role which integrates into the sov game.

Independence

Once the novelty of having the alliance name on the map faded, all that was left was the wealth you could extract from it. When an alliance hit it’s natural limit, it stopped growing. Then high end alliances figured out how to “rent” sov by putting up dummy alliances that the renting corps joined. The result was the top 4 of 5 alliances were renters, ruining the ranking leader boards. All vanity was out, it was all about the ISK.

Now that Territorial Claim Units are simple flags, big alliances may allow renting corps to form their own alliances and plant their own flags. Big alliances may focus on defending Stations and Infrastructure Hubs only. CCP will likely introduce new sov structures in the future as the sov system grows.

Wealth

Owning sov has the same benefits, but is potentially a lot more trouble now. The return on investment may not be worth the lifestyle so new metas on making ISK off sov may emerge. Renting space may invert to extortion rackets on neighboring sov holders as the big alliances will show up for stations Capture Events if nothing else.

Phase three will probably incentivize sov holding and ultimately destroy the rental concept by taking a note from EVE’s Planetary Interaction system, and slowly migrating a new value layer over all of nullsec. Alliances will need to be driven out of their walled cities by famine, plague, NPC locusts, and lured to other people’s space in pursuit of vast wealth. All in one large eco-system that is dialed in by the custodians of New Eden.

locus

It seems the whole concept of sovereignty is in flux. The CCP 2.o may be creating EVE 2.0, a dynamic, if not organic, environment worthy of being coveted by the ageing MMO genre.

 

—–

***Updated:  Fozzie addresses good questions on “EVE Down Under” Essential listening 🙂

Fozzie break big news:

  • Supers become some kind of force multiplier giving wormhole like bonus’s to fleet or system or allies. They will not be damage ships anymore
  • Delayed local in nullsec !!  Heavy hint. (AFK cloakers will never be nerfed, now everyone will be one, ha)
  • Might nerf PVP probing – to require second warp-in point, instead of being able to warpin in on target (bomber nerf)
  • Goal of removing fleet warp
  • Mechanics will stand – maybe some adjustments letting AU timeszone in on more action, but he didn’t sound too convinced.
  • Incentives to own sov area already there – anom ISK generate tons of wealth
  • In space activity and that can be disrupted will determine sov bonus always – not anything that can gamed, like turning ISK into bonuses.

Overall, the above article was on target. The old way of building EVE is over:

“Fuck HP based objectives… They push people into requiring larger fleets… I’m very glad we get an opportunity to remove that cancer from EVE.”

Like supers, massive dps ships, were ok when they were out of reach for most people, but it’s been years and now there are too many. The “legacy design debt” is being crushed under its own weight. Their previous design concepts of bigger, taller mountains to climb cannot resist the sleeper hive-like collective of EVE players, especially after years 11 years.

  • Sov expenses were supposed to be too expensive to rule all of EVE
  • Battleships were to be rare.
  • Wormeholes were to be to hostile to live in

The second decade will be different than the first, with (eco) systems in place that they can simply tweak to dial in a fast and fun game experience.

We have a lot of tools, thanks to the way we make modules in EVE, we have, essentially, gotten very good at being able to adjust There a lot of effects we can put on them, there a lot of different attributes of ships we can play with, so if anything gets our of control, it’s very easy for us to adjust it…to get good game play.

As for the fears the theorycrafters have expressed about being menaced by small fast ships taking sov:

Our core goal is, to win an objective with an entosis link, the victory should go to whoever has reasonable dominance of that location, whoever has military control in real terms. (on adjustments) The goal is to use as light of a touch as possible, but as strong of a touch as we need. Go with the minimum amount of interference on what people can fly. “

Phase 3

Phase 3 doesn’t exist like phase 1 or 2. It will be all the other little changes that happen in the future. So phase 3 will have its own phases and won’t be expansion leading.

CCP Fozzie says the incentives to owning Sov are already there so nothing new is coming to make people want to have sov.

“We can see how much money people are making in nullsec and it is, a gigantic amount, a shit-ton… in null sec anomalies. “

This means renting or extorting people in other space will still be a goal for coalitions that cannot use all the space themselves.

supers

Supercapitals

There isn’t enough compelling roles for them and some of the specific roles… they are too strong and that’s not the kind of balance we want.

Capital Ships are a class that is getting weaker with these changes … capitals have not been in a good balance place for some time … in some places they are too strong. Moving in a direction of wanting to shift them in the direction of wanting to shift them towards active, on grid, but non damaging effects. have the kind of things that act as force muiltipliers, the kind of thing you want to have in your fleet but that dont just blap people.

Somethings like the T3 Balance are higher priority. We are very aware that this set of changes make the urgency higher for it.

..Bring these things on to the field where they really matter, where they have defenses but they are also big vulnerable assets that the other side wants to kill, and they do cool things that dont just involve blowing people up. Things like building upon the ability that the super has now with the projected ecm burst into some more interscene effects like that things like on grid strong effects like Wormhole effects that affect everyone, things that reflect mobility a bit more to build upon that kind of foundation of the titan bridge, maybe some more in system mobility ….”

 

CCP is moving supers to being on grid force multipliers – much like enhanced bonus ships. Where they are a few per battle to affect the grid – like ECM bursts, wormhole type effects, in system mobility (like micro jump bridges), etc. They may still do damage but without high HP objectives in the game, they may not need as much dps as they have now.

Currently supers are used for a few things, structure grinds, counter drops, and intimidating, other than that they are parked in the garage.  CCP wants to see more oppertunities for pilots to use them as perhaps centerpeices to fleets of all sizes.

Love for AU time zone

Interestingly, CCP Fozzie has chosen “EVE Down Under” to, not only answer detailed questions, but also to break news, with the future of supercapitals and null-sec delayed local possibilities.  Fozzie also was the guest speaker in EVE Down Under’s player gathering in 2013 (CCP Rise and Mimic attended last year).

It was a good will gesture to the players in the Australian time zone., who already put up with downtime and now have to deal with the issue of “prime time” being primarily US and EU time zone based.

Conclusion

Considering what CCP Fozzie was doing – asking for input from the hardest hit AU time zone players and to use their show to give out very important information, it is hard to accuse CCP of ignore their players.

With their recent track record of delivering on promised features, and being daring enough to take out features that complicate gameplay (Indy Teams), the conclusion players should reach is: CCP won’t let gameplay break, and will dial in what is needed to make EVE engaging.  There are way too many days before these changes hit to worry about how they will change the game.

Most sov holders are on the record, fully supporting the changes to sov and (some) even on the later changes: This “EVE Down Under” podcast, The Mittani’s “Meta Show,” Crossing Zebras podcast featuring Grath (PL) and ProgodLegend (CSM/Nulli), and other sources show that these changes are very welcomed.

 

 

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