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Hunting Content and Solutions

December 10, 2018

By Seraph IX Basarab

What if I told you many alliance leaders and fleet commanders are not very good at getting meaningful content? It’s not entirely their fault. The continued softening of Eve in an attempt to have a broader appeal is not helping. However they do still play a large role in poorly approaching the game. Not all content is equal. Chasing the elusive “gudfite” is not how you actually reach getting an actual good fight. Every fleet commander imagines a kind of ideal engagement where two sides meet on grid and exchange shots hopefully having their side win. They may be brilliant at it brandishing their best Muninn fleet and skillfully dispensing with their opponent. But if there is no strategic element to capitalize on its essentially meaningless beyond the short term satisfaction of kills on a killboard. If one wants the satisfaction of “kills” as a score, you can get that sense of satisfaction much easier playing games like PUBG or your favorite MOBA. The unique thing that sets Eve apart from those games is the long term consequence to such an engagement. I’ve never been a fan of “roams” or simply getting kills for the sake of making space explosions. Seeing different alliance leaders and fleet commanders clumsily trying to meet up for “gudfites” often leads to much time wasted. Leaders should seek to find strategic things to fight over. If something meaningful is fought over, the content generated is meaningful and your time commitment is more efficient. Hit the enemy where it hurts and you’re likely to see an actual good response. Otherwise you’re wasting your time and resources. A good analogy for this if you’ve ever tried to sword fight when you were a kid. Often kids try to hit each other’s swords in an attempt to create the fight. What often happens is they’ll clumsily miss and flail about. (Much like our eager but short sighted FCs.) However if you actually try to hit the other person, you soon naturally learn to parry and riposte into something that looks more like an actual fight.

Leaders might not be as good at finding this “content leverage points.” They might not have good advisors in their inner circle to help with that. However, part of the problem is also CCP’s design in wanting to keep things as safe as they are. For example, in the early days of Entosis mechanics you had a pretty cool feature where one could Entosis the station services of enemies turning off their clone bays or their fitting services. It wasn’t permanent and once the enemy left you could reverse it. But it worked well enough in drawing out your enemy for a fight. You could bubble an enemy station and simply push your opponent to fight. It wasn’t perfect as a mechanic but it was generally heading in a good direction. Anything that allows small groups of players to go out by themselves and do something without having to have a max numbers CTA, but still affecting the enemy in a meaningful way is good for the game. Now you cannot do that. Stations (citadels) are numerous. Fighting on grid with them will not end well for you unless you bring a sizable force. Even if you go through the multiple cycles to destroy even the cheapest variants, there are so many it’s essentially meaningless to destroy them. So you can’t really do anything meaningful to them as a small group, nor can a large group really get anything out of all the time and energy the put into things. Few suggestions to deal with this which all or some can be applied depending on how they are balanced:

1. Limit the number of citadels that can be anchored in a system. Perhaps only one per planet with industrial structures relegated to moons. Maybe there is a tier system (smalls on moons, mediums on planets, large only on sun.) This will make “system geography” actually matter again.

2. Do something with the timers. Every small structure takes way too long to do anything about.

3. Give people tools to harass defenders akin to the early days of Aegis sov. Perhaps citadel guns cannot be utilized unless the structure is reinforced thus allowing people to actually engage enemy ships on grid.

4. Give us more ways to hurt each other. Whatever happened to “farms and fields?” I want stuff to burn down and make people come after me. I want reasons and opportunities to be out in space. Players want this! Who wants to wait around for pings? Content should not be limited to meaningless roams or pings. There has to be some in between.

Some are quick to use the “Malcanis Law” which states “Whenever a mechanics change is proposed on behalf of ‘new players’ that change is always to the overwhelming advantage of richer, older players.” The term “law” is a bit presumptuous considering this is nonsense. I can give you plenty of examples where this is not the case. If you delete supercaps from the game, this will not hurt newer players one bit. If we delete Forts and Keepstars, this hurts newer players how? I’m not suggesting that we do any of those things but it’s very easy to see how easily the “law” is broken. It should probably be known as a “consideration” instead of a “law.” As in, “We should consider the possibility that this new change intended for helping newer players may instead benefit older richer players.” Fair enough. The reason I’m even knit picking over this is because a modified version of this rule is used by the usual propagandists over at INN. This version goes like this: “Whatever change is suggested in order to ‘nerf Goons’ actually benefits them instead.” The specific quote itself is, “Aryth loves to be right and to be seen as right. Time and again he has said, “Yeah, nerf Rorquals as it only helps The Imperium further.” In this he’s not wrong. For alliances with less industrial might, such a change to Rorquals would only serve to further the gap between those who have and those who have not.”

Either Aryth is trying to play some kind of reverse psychology game or he’s ignorant of Price’s Law which seems to be related to the Pareto principle. Price’s Law states that the square-root of the number of people in a domain do 50% of the work. If your corp has 10 people in it, half of the work is done by 3 of them. 100 members? 10 of them do 50% of the work. 10,000? 100 of them do 50% of the work. What this essentially means is that you get diminishing returns depending on how many people you have. Incompetence grows exponentially while competence grows linearly. The idea that “whatever hurts Goons hurts you guys more” or better said “whatever hurts big alliances hurts smaller alliances too” is nonsense. Larger groups are simply not going to have the same per capita efficiency as smaller groups. If anything one could argue that strong Rorquals make even your double digit IQ members artificially more useful and actually acts as a buffer against Price’s Law. In any case I’m not calling for a further Rorq nerf. The previous suggestions would be beneficial however. The point is simply to dispel this myth of “what hurts big groups hurts smaller groups more.”

Lastly to finish up I cannot help myself but to address these terrible suggestions made in the same INN article.

Suggestion 1: “Halve all space. This would increase player density within the remaining systems. The more dense the population then the greater opportunities for interaction: namely, conflict.”

Nothing strengthens customer confidence than halving the size of the player arena. Absolutely terrible idea and really shows the perspective of someone who has been limited to play in one style for most of their history. Maybe halve resources per system so people instead are forced to spread out because of resource scarcity.

Suggestion 2: “Nerf diplomacy and nerf it really hard. If Alliance A keeps turning up to shoot the same thing as Alliance B, then penalize them in-game. If a group has too many allies, then take something from them. Reduce bounty payouts or deplete resources, for example.”

Can you imagine an FC saying “sorry guys we can’t go to the fight today because if we do we’ll get penalized for helping our allies.” This is even a worse idea. Unnecessarily complicated, frustrating, and just plain unimaginative. You can’t nerf diplomacy. You should nerf resources and other mechanics so that people do not cluster together so much making them so safe.

Suggestion 3: “Loss of skill points from not logging in. Not wanting to hurt those who have real life commitments, I would also propose a mechanic for evading this. Perhaps a micro-transaction to prevent such loss of valuable skill points.”

Somehow the writer managed to top himself and came up with an even worse idea. Why would you punish your player base for not logging in. Eve is already a pretty effort requiring game. This only further makes the game feel “like a job.” I mean these are great ideas if you literally want to kill Eve. Personally I think I’d like to continue playing it.