As you probably know, voting opened yesterday for the fifteenth iteration of the CSM, an assembly of players who advise CCP on the pulse of the playerbase and on upcoming changes. Over the next couple of days, EN24 is going to spotlight as many CSM candidates as possible in order to help you — the player & voter — make up your mind about who to trust with the future of the game.
I sat down with Stitch Kaneland, a small-gang / solo PvPer and ship fitting theorycrafter in The Tuskers, to talk about his CSM candidacy, the state of low-sec PvP, and the current world of small-scale combat.
Twilight Winter: CSM 14 was a story of so close & yet so far for your campaign. What made you decide to run again for CSM 15?
Stitch Kaneland: I got close to being nominated for CSM 14 and I wanted to try again. The solo / small gang community didn’t have many candidates at the time and I wanted to provide an option for those groups to vote for to be represented.
TW: I understand you’ve put a lot of focus on ship balance, can you elaborate a bit on how/where you think you can help CCP to improve that area of the game?
SK: By providing an alternative perspective to CCP for ship balance. Previous ship balance passes didn’t touch on the root issues with certain ships, for example, the Caracal Navy Issue getting 25m3 of drone space, when it needs fitting and trait adjustments.
There is a high focus on balancing ships for the nullsec fleet meta, which is fine for fleet orientated ships, but there are plenty of other ships that also need adjustments that are not null fleet meta orientated. Such as Black Ops, diversifying Interdictors (Eris needs help), Navy Faction Battleships and Cruisers etc.
I’ve played EVE almost exclusively for the ship fitting and often fly off meta ships. This allows me to find their strengths and weaknesses, which provides good insight into area of improvement or potential niches they can fill. This doesn’t include only solo / small gang, but also fleet theorycrafting as well. I spend more time theorycrafting than I do playing the game sometimes, heh.
TW: Sounds like a lot of hours in PyFA and on SiSi. What drew you into the solo / small gang lifestyle, and how have the Surgical Strike changes worked out for pilots engaged in that playstyle?
SK: Lots of hours in EFT, PyFA and some testing on SiSi. I solo roam battleships a lot, the warp speed allows me to theorycraft even in the EVE fitting tool between warps, heh.
I started actual EVE (not highsec solo running missions) by joining a nullsec group (Apocalyptic Legion) and enjoying the nullsec life for a couple years. But then that corp died and nullsec really didn’t offer much for me afterwards. I started just playing on my own in lowsec and FW and did that for 3-4 years until citadels essentially killed FW content. That’s when I moved to wormholes with Tuskers and started adapting my fits to small gang, and experiencing life out of a wormhole and having people I can rely on. I try to find reasons to continue playing EVE and moving to different areas, instead of quitting. So each time a playstyle starts to die out, I move, instead of quit.
You’ll hear different things from different people depending on their playstyle. For example, resist nerfs affect wormhole brawling fleets a lot more than lets say nano gangs. Since most nano gangs don’t fit many (if any) resist modules, their resists remained relatively unchanged, meanwhile they now do more damage with T2 short range ammo. For actual brawling ships, a lot of changes buffed certain brawling mechanics (passive hull tanks for example), but nerfed others (active tanks).
Some of the changes were good (T2 ammo changes), others are mixed depending on your playstyle. The principle of the changes I feel were good, they were soft stat changes, which is what CCP should be balancing around, not gimmicks.
TW: The change to active tanks was something I twigged on very early. Do you think that was an unintended side-effect or something CCP intended to nerf?
SK: I think it was intentional. You can get some pretty absurd active tanks when you use faction modules and pirate implants. Even certain ships like Strategic Cruisers can get really high active tanks without much effort. Take for example the deadspace XLSB Loki. Becomes stable with a battery and a few cap mods. Hype[rion] is another good example.
I think a lot of changes overtime increased the survivability of ships and buffed their active tanks. The resist nerfs just set them back slightly to where they used to be.
TW: The other major impact, I guess, is to Logistics. What do you think of the current power level of Logistics cruisers and FAXes, if you don’t mind touching on those, and how do they affect smaller scale combat?
SK: Yes, logi was also a focus of the nerf. Probably the primary focus, with some trickle down to the others that CCP wasn’t too concerned about or also needed adjustment as mentioned previously.
Current logi power levels (excluding FAX) are reasonable. Granted this is from my perspective of small gang/solo. 1-2 logi isn’t a huge issue. People can be separated, logi can be jammed/neuted, and things can die. Its when you’re talking about a logi wing where it becomes impossible from a solo/small gang perspective, but that’s just how it is and there nothing really imbalanced there.
The current fleet meta is about critical mass of alpha (which has pretty much been the only fleet meta since I’ve played). This bypasses logi to an extent. Once you lose critical mass, people disengage. I suppose you could say this is because of logi being able to rep that much damage, but nerfing resists has a similar affect without directly affecting the logi ship’s ability on a smaller scale.
While you could directly target logi ship bonuses, I think it’s better to shift the meta by balancing the DPS ships, tanks or providing alternative counters/support ships.
As far as FAX goes, my opinion is they have no business repping subcaps. If you want to logi subcaps, bring subcap logi. Capitals shouldn’t be a replacement for subcaps, they should provide support/boosts to subcaps, but shouldn’t be inherent replacements to specialized subcap hulls.
TW: You might have just lost the C5 wormhole vote with that one, but in general I agree, they’re pretty oppressive in subcap fights. Speaking more to the e-war point, what do you think of where jams find themselves now?
SK: Current ECM/Jam mechanics are balanced now. They provide counterplay, unlike before. People have said “just fit SeBo’s”, and I’ve fit SeBo’s to navy battleships (achieving 70+ sensor strength) and even used HG sensor strength implants, and you still can get jammed.
To completely remove lock with no counterplay was a bad game mechanic. Now, you do have counterplay (shoot the ship jamming you). However, with this change, it has essentially turned jamming ships into cliche MMO “taunts”, but most ECM ships lack the tank to actually be anything more than an easy killmail.
I do believe some ECM ships could use a tank bonus (Widow is a good example) to fulfil their role. There is also an interesting idea of making ECM modules a high slot. This would allow ECM ships to utilize their mids for tanking — this comes with the implication that they would also lose some mids, so you can’t have max jam, 150k EHP falcons for example. Even if they weren’t moved to high slots, addressing tank options would be good for ECM ships.
TW: Definitely one I’ve heard from people who like(d) the Griffin Navy Issue. A short-range taunt without a tank isn’t the greatest combo. How would you look to change that ship?
SK: Going against most Caldari flavor, it should get a small signature. Basically make it really hard to hit, serves a similar function as a tank bonus. It currently gets a pretty healthy tank (for a frigate) with 1 jam (think its around 11-12k EHP last time i checked). Paired with frigate logi, it could actually be really mean to shutdown a target that wasn’t fit with application.
TW: Interesting. Going back to lowsec more generally, what do you think could be done to bring players into lowsec and FW, and drive more content in that area of space?
SK: Addressing citadels bypassing FW mechanics and actually allowing FW to have impact again would be a good start.
There are numerous things that need to be addressed in FW. Without going into too much detail, those would include rebalancing faction LP stores, rebalance/remove FW Missions, create “beach heads” on border systems in FW where LP gain is increased but there will be much more fighting.
Bots/[Warp Core] Stabs also need addressing. FW needs an overhaul essentially, in 2012-2014, FW was a ton of fun, the content is there and people would come back if CCP would just iterate on it.
For general lowsec, I’d like to see removing pirate battleship BPC’s from DEDs and moving them to lowsec belts for the corresponding faction. Such as Angel space dropping Machariel BPCs in belts, Sansha dropping Nightmare etc. This provides value to lowsec systems with lots of belts and a reason for people to live in and fight over those systems.
It also helps address pirate battleship scarcity, because all the people and bots running anoms and piling up escalations has made pirate battleship prices far to cheap, which makes navy battleships hard to balance when pirate battleships are the same price or cheaper. Additional lowsec options would include rebalancing the besiege sites so they can be run in lower tier ships, instead of essentially requiring a pirate faction cruiser, T3 or a well skilled battleship to run. This would open them up to newer players to run to provide additional income in those areas.
I’d also like to see the idea of besiege sites expanded upon as they provide decent ISK and risk to generate fights. Having more variety of the sites with differing loot tables would be another interesting thing to see. Some exploration changes could also benefit lowsec and nullsec by allowing faction module BPC drops and COSMOS BPCs and material drops.
TW: Citadels seem to be a recurring issue whether I’m talking to people about lowsec, nullsec, or wormholes. What changes would you like to see to them?
SK: Citadels in FW space should be registered with a militia or militia can only dock in citadels that are owned by their militia — not neutral citadels — in FW space. Maybe this is heavy handed, but FW space should be limited to those who actually participate in it.
Pitates are free to have a neutral citadel and continue doing their thing, but FW players shouldn’t be able to dock in them to bypass being locked out of a system due to FW mechanics.
Let’s say for example that Amarr have a citadel in Vard and Vard gets captured by Minmatar. That Citadel should now go into a low powered state, or potentially abandoned state, in 1-2 days. Force it to jettison / remove fuel. Can chalk it up as “the enemy militia has infiltrated your Citadel and sabotaged it”. There should be a sense of loss when losing a system again.
If you’re talking about Citadels in general, the biggest things I’d like to see are a mechanic where Citadels can’t instantly shoot things on their grid without either going into a Siege mode or taking damage. Alternatively, having structure services attackable again would be nice to generate content.
Moving Ansiblex gates off citadel grids so you can camp or interact with them would also be nice to generate fights / content — or just make it so you can’t jump back through an Ansiblex if pointed, or so as far as if you HIC point an Ansiblex it shuts it off, forcing a response.
I personally don’t like damage caps, and while CCP seems to be pointing capitals back at anti-structure roles, i have no idea how they plan to do that while keeping damage caps. Maybe if they bring back structure services, you could remove damage caps on them?
I’m not sure, but I think we can mostly agree that entosising is not a fun mechanic from any perspective. Everyone should be able to participate in fleet, not just the token sov wand guy.
TW: Yeah, when it comes to jumping when pointed I can see that argument. I know CCP like to say Ansiblex gates work like any other gate, but any other gate I can follow you through it. Do you have any ideas for how to improve the sov system?
SK: Personally, i haven’t done sov stuff since probably 2014-2015ish, just before Aegis Sov. So, I won’t pretend to know how to change it for the better. I’m sure there will be plenty of candidates available that provide better options/insight to CCP for balancing sov mechanics.
TW: Fair enough, what about new player retention? What do you think would improve that?
SK: Well, for one thing, CCP needs to go through their missions and stop having L1s through L3s send them to lowsec. Something brought to my attention recently from a player was that he was seeing more newbros show up in Amamake due to missions.
When he chatted with them, they told him it was because they were doing L1-L3 missions. Amamake is certain death for a newbro, CCP needs to pull those missions and keep them in L4s at the minimum. I get it, we want some missions to be risky, but the kicker is those missions don’t even payout that great to begin with. There’s no reward in them and all that happens is that newbros aren’t aware of the danger and get thrown into the meat grinder of certain high camped/high activity lowsec systems.
Outside of that, Epic Arcs need rebalancing. Some are really grindy and the payout really isn’t that great. Yeah, a newbro might think 15-20m is a lot, but it barely even covers the cost of their ships (especially after mineral rebalace). From a PvP perspective, you generally want to have around 150-500m saved up before you start diving in with PvP frigates. I think the Epic Arcs could help facilitate this by providing much higher rewards to provide newbros with a good “starting balance” to explore other areas of the game.
I don’t think funnelling newbros into nullsec groups and telling them to train this ship for this doctrine or this ship for ratting is really enticing to a lot of people and they’ll get burned out because they keep dying to roamers without understanding why. Or they’ll finally train a doctrine ship, that they may have never wanted to fly in the first place. But, everyone is different, some people enjoy that, others may not. Basically, what i’m getting at is there should be options.
Newbro finished the epic arcs, now he has a choice with the money earned: he can go to nullsec, continue advancing the agent misions, go to lowsec and dabble in pvp, or have some starting income for trading/industry.
TW: The part about funneling newbros into nullsec groups is actually something we’ve touched on in the past on EN24. There are newbros who do really well in the big null bloc groups, but I wonder if others are simply quitting because it doesn’t cater to them. Do you think there’s more that could be done to help players find the right people to socialize and band up with?
SK: It’s hard to say without making it seem intrusive. A lot of people play games because they are maybe less social than others, or just want to unwind from the day (where they may have potentially been socializing all day). So, its hard to say we should intrude on their time by saying “You must join a social corp to enjoy EVE”.
Don’t get me wrong, corps in EVE are important and do help retain players. At the same time though, we don’t want to push away players who may not be interested by constantly reminding them. Another issue is that there are a lot of new player corps that pretend to be good for them, but are just scams to milk them via taxes, so thats another obstacle we face.
I suppose as a start, the recruitment UI/interface could be a bit better in general. Also, like fittings where CCP provided some “entry level fits”, maybe something similar could be done with some kind of “verified” corp that newbro’s could join. But, tbh it still sounds kind of messy and in the end, the player may never seek those corps.
I think its better that we focus the attention of the new player on “what exactly do you want to do in EVE?” From there, the game can offer tips and options on how to expand what they want to do and help filter them into corporations to allow them to grow that role.
Not necessarily tell them “join this corp”, but say “to improve your industry, you’ll need access to a citadel, please check the recruitment area to find a corp that fits you for industry”.
TW: So less focus on corps, and more on trying to help them find a niche they’ll enjoy in game?
SK: Correct. Then once their niche is found, more options can be expanded upon, which will eventually lead them into a corp.
TW: Great, I think that covers most of what we wanted to cover. Finally, I’d like to give you the opportunity to sum up your platform and why our readers should vote for you.
I’m an actual voice for the “little guy” or casual player that just wants to login and enjoy spaceships, in whatever playstyle that may include. I’m focused on solo, small gang, Lowsec (FW and non FW), WH space, ship balance and exploration.
While I represent those areas, I’m not one dimensional and have experienced all parts of EVE and understand each playstyle should be allowed to flourish.
I’m easily reachable and will listen to any concerns you may have and can help narrow down the root concerns which I can relay to CCP.
TW: Thanks for your time, and best of luck with your candidacy.