Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Eve: Gateway to Free to Play?

I have a confession to make, though I suppose it won't be much of a surprise. About 5 months ago, my last injected PLEX ran out in Eve Online, and I didn't re-up. For a further 2 months I would look at the icon on my desktop from time to time and ask myself the question, "Do I want to log into Eve?" Another game won out every time, until finally I decided to re-purpose the hard drive space and uninstalled both the main and test clients. "It's not like I can't install it again later," I told myself. In one month, I will have matched my longest break from Eve since it launched in 2003.

I have kept up with the blogs, and the news sites, followed the rumblings on both twitter & reddit, and otherwise kept up with the game and the politics within, but the inspiration to return has not yet come. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, so they say, and so I wait, and watch, mostly quiet on the sidelines. Truth be told, there just hasn't been much to talk about lately concerning Eve outside of null politics, and which group is beating on which other group. Well, that is until today's announcement from CCP about the impending limited F2P.

I expect the news sites and blogs will be in a flurry of activity over the next couple weeks. Everyone's going to have an opinion about this. Eve is dying a slow death, subs and the PCU are creeping ever downward, and CCP has to do something to staunch the flow. The question has been on the board now for a couple years, and here we have CCP's answer, or at least what I hope is only the first part of that answer.

This change should really not be inferred to as a free to play change. Games like Neverwinter, Star Trek Online, or Lord of the Rings Online are free to play. Neverwinter I've gone pretty damn far and never given them a single cent. STO, I've cashed in some currency for a couple ships, but haven't paid for a sub in years. LOTRO gives you the choice to gain access for a monthly sub, or unlock pieces of the game permanently for a one time fee.

What is essentially happening here, is that we're going from a limited time trial in the game, to a limited progression trial, much like what WoW has done with their free experience, allowing people without subs to play up to lvl 20 for as long as they like. CCP isn't here to give away a bunch of free shit for no return. You get to taste things for free, undock, do some pew, and the hope is you're hooked and are now willing to pay for the full experience to progress from being a lamb, to a wolf, and keep paying to stay that way, or it's back to the kiddie pool for you. You can't unlock an extra 5 million SP, or certain skills permanently, or gain access to a second race, or anything else for a one time fee. You want access, you pays your sub.

Initially we'll see a spike in the PCU. Some people (like myself) logging back into seriously gimped high SP characters will long to use the OTHER 250 ships in our hangars, and pay up for the privilege. What about those guys trying the game for the first or fifth time that want to poke around for a while by themselves, or with a friend though? I'm not seeing any proposed changes to the NPE that has consistently failed to retain the vast numbers of players that try the game. Maybe CCP's gambit here is that taking away the time limited restraint, these guys will stick around longer, but with the average trial not making it past 2 hours, I have my doubts the 14 day trial limitation was the issue.

On the surface, the immediate beneficiaries of this new Alpha clone feature will be the large newbro friendly entities in the game. For the noobs that groups like Dreddit and Pandemic Horde are able to bring in I see a positive thing here... well, until they call for Caracal fleet and a large swath of alpha clone dudes aren't Caldari. So hey, more kitchen sinks! Those are always fun. Still a very positive change.

A huge gripe already for new players is the time it takes them to get into what they would consider to be meaningful gameplay. Alpha clones will train SP at a slower rate than Omegas, so there's one strike right off the bat. Allowing skill injection is one thing, but that kind of takes away from the whole free aspect of it.

CCP has the ability to fix this one easily. With Alpha's already limited to a single race, give them the basic skills they need to fly the frigates within that race immediately, and effectively. That means a new PVP pilot should already be able to fit tech 1 tackle and guns, be able to do basic shield or armor tanking, have the most basic skills for probing and exploration, and even remote repairs. Basically, if a veteran player were to start a new character, that character should have the skills at least to fit a basic t1 version of the ship they way most people who know what they're doing would fit it. Hell, maybe that very first noob ship they get comes with a full basic fit that takes advantages of its bonuses, you know, to give a newbro an idea of that a proper fit might look like.

The next bit of concern is coming from 2 directions. One the one hand, you can't have a bunch of freebie toons flying around Eve wrecking the game and the economy for people that are paying customers. I agree with this. On the other hand, if these freebie folk are gimped to the extent that they're no more than fodder for the paying customers, eventually they're in a position where it's time to shit (start paying) or get off the pot, with a 3rd, and likely less desirable option of just remaining gimped, which brings us back over to that whole retention thing.

In short, this new trial system I think is actually a step in the right direction for Eve, but it's not the answer on it's own. At some point, CCP needs to decide who their customer is, and make their game in that image. Even making the game completely free will do nothing to bring in the people on the PC Gamer-type sites that leave the comments bemoaning spreadsheets in space, and needing to put more time into Eve than their job. At the same time, the game as it stands does appeal to a select group of gamers, and though they are becoming fewer, dropping away due to boredom, or changing lives, etc. they are the ones paying the bills, and if you drive them away while failing to attract enough new customers to replace them... well, I think we all know the answer to that question.

I'm still here though, waiting for that spark of inspiration that brings me back in. I'm not sure this is quite it, but let's see what else is coming down the pipe.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Podcast: Reddit vs TMC Drama Special Edition

When we were setting forth our procedures for the new podcast, we included a special provision. Should anything of note happen in Eve, we would need to be able to jump in motion, get guests together, review the issue, and crank out a cast, start to finish, in under 24 hours. In 9 years of Eve Radio, I can count maybe a half dozen times where we had to break from routine to cover some major drama. While this week would not rank at the top of that notable list, we certainly didn't expect to have to test our rapid release provision before we even got to our 3rd episode.

For the download of this Special Edition I will point you over to the good folks at Eve-Radio that have graciously offered to host our cast and have solid enough bandwidth to handle a metric fuck ton of downloads.

You can download the podcast and read their introduction HERE.

In the cast, I promised to provide links, and an outline, so those following along could reference the conversations and articles mentioned in the cast. I'll paste that below in just a moment.

I want to finish this posting by pointing out that we did attempt to get Sion Kumitomo on with us to give us an Imperium perspective on happenings. He was out on the road today, and given the extreme short notice was unable to join us. Given that we did not really get to talk to anyone from that side of the fence directly, I feel it's only fair to extend an invitation for a one on one followup to this podcast so their side of things can also be aired. We did our best to find balance in our coverage, but definitely felt their presence lacking.

Week 3 Special Edition - Outline and Links 

  1. Introductions.
  2. Eve Reddit drama Bomb. Fountain War Book kickstarter has reached a boiling point. 11 days left, 703 backers as of this morning, 37,000 raised of $150,000 despite constant promotional efforts by TMC.
  3. Endie has “private” conversation with Xander Pheona of Crossing Zebras.
    1. Xander shares with Niden
    2. ???
    3. Conversation put up on pastebin then leaked to reddit.
    4. GG. Xander is very sorry, feels like a dickface.
    5. This is the article being discussed in the log:
  4. “Grey Market” RMT allegations against TMC as a result.
    1. Talking with Nosy on twitter, seems Endie just confirmed what “everyone already knew”. Concerns that Endie was trolling Xander, spoke to him specifically because he knew the convo would get leaked.
  5. CCP Falcon tells redditors CCP does not investigate RMT allegations posted on reddit threads. Please submit tickets!
  6. Sion writes a thing on TMC: Reddit sucks, stop abusing Jeff Edwards, you’re killing the game we’re trying to help! Reddit response if you dare to read:
  7. Is Sion/TMC burning bridges or is reddit? What is really going on here?

Sunday, November 15, 2015

The Return of... FunkyBacon & Friends

At the end of September, the co-hosts and I said goodbye to our regular show on Eve Radio and slipped into retirement after 9 years of weekly live broadcasts. We alluded that we may be back in some form or other at some point, and left it at that.

Behind the scenes I was in talks with the big boys at Gaming Radio Network (GRN, the folk that run Eve Radio and Subspace Radio) about shifting gears to something a little more portable and concentrated; in other words, a podcast. There were many reasons for this, such as all our regular co-hosts being Euro based, and having to stay up until 3am or 4am depending on which time zone they were in, and the fact that almost no one appreciated our odd taste in music.

GRN is in the process of some rebranding themselves, so our shift came at a perfect time. Sadly, not everything is done on their end for the new platform, so for now we're still being hosted through Eve Radio.

Without the need for music or live events, or new show can be expected to run between 20 and 40 minutes. Topics will always start with Eve related content, and we'll finish off with any pertinent topics from the larger gaming world (new AAA titles, major MMO updates, sci fi games, maybe a brief review here and there, and should anything be worth picking up in a steam sale, we'll try and mention it). The mix will of course depend on how busy a week Eve is having, and should something earth shattering drop, expect us to crank out a dedicated special for fast release on top of the regular weekly cast.

Our first episode just released today, and you can:


For a first show, it ran a little longer than normal. Now you can put us on a flash stick or your phone and play us in your car, pause us during your fleet op when you need to listen to FC, or really have whatever flexibility you need. We'll be recording sometime during the week, and the show will be released weekly by GRN (or Eve Radio for now) Sunday afternoons 18:00 GMT. If you follow this blog, you'll also see it on here.

It's nice to be back.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

CCP Weighs in on Twitch Streaming "Giveaways"

There's been some buzzing going on around Eve Media circles this week. With the recent resolution of the drama over at IWantISK, the topic has turned to a practice some twitch streamers have been turning to with increasing frequency. In a nutshell, certain streamers have been conducting "giveaways" of in game items, sometimes only to paying subscribers, and sometimes to anyone, but if you're a paying subscriber or have donated to them on patreon, you'll get an enhanced chance of winning something.

Let's Start With a History Lesson

There seems to be confusion among some streamers as to whether such practices constitute RMT. I popped on DJ Big Country's "Open Comms Show" this past week to see if I might be able to lend some clarity, being involved peripherally in the SOMERblink 1 scandal, and in the thick of SOMERblink 2.

Graphic I made illustrating SOMERblink's RMT
scheme back in 2013.
In the first instance, Somer was giving away 200 million ISK worth of "Blink Credit" to those who purchased a plex through his affiliate link to Markee Dragon. Blink credit wasn't an actual in-game item, it was akin to tickets for the gambling site, and gave players only a chance to win something. There was an, albeit laundered, source of real money being funneled to SOMERblink through the exchange of in game items of value, but CCP was in a tough spot when this was pointed out because certain Riot Devs who were working for CCP at the time had endorsed the site publicly as a legitimate service.

Once this particular RMT loophole was exposed, several players began to take advantage of it to cash out. CCP was again in a tough spot. It would be difficult to ban these players for RMT since they were exploiting the same loophole that a legitimately endorsed SOMERblink had been doing for years, but at the same time they couldn't allow every player with a few hundred billion ISK to cash out and walk away with tens of thousands of dollars. A cease and desist order was issued, and the loophole was closed.

As we all know, the second time SOMERblink tried to cash out ended badly for the site. He basically got "permission" to run a promotion from a member of the marketing team that wasn't familiar with crafty RMT schemes by presenting his proposal in a deceptive manner. When he was called on it by people who knew better, he decided to plaster CCP communications on his site without their permission in an attempt to defend himself, and then got banned and had his assets seized. I think officially he was banned for the communication leaks. Al Capone also went down for tax evasion. End result was the same.

Fast Forward to the Present

With the advent of monetization for people who play games on streams, it's inevitable that the line is going to be tested as to what constitutes RMT while streamers attempt to maximize revenues. My personal smell test for RMT is fairly simple:
Are you trading in game items, a chance at in game items, or giving an advantage to win in game items above and beyond others to people who hand you actual real life money? If there is a direct, or somewhat re-directed flow of cash and ISK, you've got some form of RMT.
Using what SOMERblink has taught us in the past, this would also include a situation where players purchase goods or services from a 3rd party and it's the 3rd party that is paying you.

Eve Radio is a prime example of how to do it "right". They accept donations and have a premium listener program. Paying money into either one does not grant those supporters any advantage on winning any contest where in-game assets are involved. Premium supporters ARE entered into a drawing every month for a free game on Steam, but that is not an in-game item or ISK.

By the same note, a twitch streamer could go onto CCP's shop and purchase (for real money) one of those insanely overpriced hoodies for $90. They could sell raffle tickets for that hoodie at $10 a pop on their stream and "give it away" to the lucky winner after 15 tickets are sold. Completely legit, though you might want to check with your country's gambling laws first.

In the above case we've got real world goods being exchanged for real world cash. Once actual money is exchanged and a Nyx changes ownership this would be RMT in some form or other. We could argue the rights and wrongs of RMT all day, but I'm not here to discuss the morality of it today, just pointing out what it is for those who seem confused.

Official CCP Response?

Yes, I know, this is what you've been waiting for. I could, after all, talk about what is, and is not RMT until I'm blue, but it doesn't mean much because Eve isn't my game, and I don't make the rules. Long time friend and compatriot at Eve Radio, DJ Wiggles, one upped me on this one and had the clever idea of asking CCP what they thought, then went over the response with Nosy Gamer on Wiggles' new Mini Podcast, New Eden Update, this past Friday.
Hi just dropping you guys a petition as the topic came up on my radio show I do each week on Eve-Radio and the question was "what is the legal standpoint of player created sites doing giveaways for in game items" this is in regards to player/fan sites giving either a) subscribers (via Twitch/Pateron/etc.) an extra chance at winning the items in game or b) a subscriber only give away that they can win in game items. -DJ Wiggles
Simple, direct. Wish I'd have thought of it first. Now, normally we're not allowed to share CCP responses to petitions except in extremely rare cases. One of those instances would be when the GM in question gives permission. Emphasis mine:
CCP's policy on monetization of videos can be read at the following website:

While the exact scenario you mentioned isn't explicitly covered in the above policy, it sounds too close to RMT for us to sanction. My take on this is that it's essentially not really a "giveaway" if the user has to pay real money in some fashion (subscription, donations) to be eligible, that sounds more like RMT than an actual giveaway.

My advice to Twitch/Youtube users would be to stick to advertisement monetization instead of tying giveaways into donations. Those that want to do giveaways are welcome to do so as long as any viewer is eligible and no payment in real life currency is asked for.

You are welcome to share this with your listeners.

Best regards,
Lead GM Lelouch
CCP Customer Support | EVE Online | DUST 514
GM Lelouch was careful to use the terms "My take" and "My advice" in his response for those who want to split hairs. That would make the above statement something slightly less than official CCP policy. That also doesn't mean it's ok to go out and start selling dollar tickets to your next Twitch Giveaway either. If a streamer is petitioned, the GMs will just have to make the call, possibly with input from team security, as to whether you're engaging in RMT or not. That's not a gamble I'd take with my Eve account.

Also, that official policy isn't written on a stone tablet, and it can change fairly easily. Should a specific streamer get petitioned, it very well may come down to GM interpretation of RMT. If this becomes and epidemic, I would expect the official rules will eventually be amended to clear up any "confusion".

At the very least, what we have at the moment are some instances of RMT. Illicit RMT? In some cases, perhaps. Unsanctioned RMT? Well, without a direct CCP endorsement as what happened with SOMERblink in 2013, ANY form of RMT, illicit or not, is unsanctioned. It's just a question of how far people get before the hammer drops. *MY* advice to streamers is to be very careful with these giveaways. I wouldn't allow money and in game items to brush up against one another, no matter how cleverly you think you've disguised it.

Friday, June 19, 2015

FW Pilots and the Null Sec Bubble Dilema

The other day I published a piece about a couple of topics near and dear to my heart in Eve lately, and one of those topics mentioned a certain development style that has taken CCP by storm in the last year or so: Delete Key Game Development. It is the removal of features or functionality in the game client in an attempt to fix issues or improve the experience.

Images today from
Industry teams not working the way they were envisioned? Remove them, stating the possibility to revisit and fix them properly later. Clone costs too high for nullsec/WH veterans to justify flying cheap ships? Get rid of them. Bombers able to probe and warp to targets too quickly? Remove a bunch of fleet warp mechanics!

I know I come off as if this is a terrible way to do things, and in some cases it can be. Present issues aside, however, deletion of some game functionality could have a positive effect.

While still a lowsec resident, I'm no longer a part of Factional Warfare. I still communicate with a few old friends in the business, and one concern that has come up is an issue that complicates things considerably for FW groups wanting to play in Null space.

While it would be cool to be able to take the credit for the following, I can't. The issues were raised initially towards the end of CSM9's term by a group of concerned FW citizens and presented to CCP. I know Sugar Kyle has brought this to CCP's attention once or twice over the course of CSMX's term, but there appears to be little traction being made thus far, so it might be time for a spotlight.


Bubbles are a big part of combat in null sec, and for a FW group, deploying bubbles in nullsec can be a tricky endeavor.

Any member of your own militia that wanders into a bubble you deploy counts as an act of aggression, and comes with a lovely standings hit. That's bad. Worse is if any of those guys lose their pods in the scuffle, because a bad standings hit gets multiplied several times over. Losing a single rank in FW comes with a nasty faction hit to the empire you fly for, one that can't be regained by simply ranking up again. Half a dozen pod kills can net SEVERAL demotions, causing standing hits so severe they can get you, your corp, and even your alliance kicked from FW. Aside from the prospect of losing several billion ISK in implants, this is pretty big on the list of why FW groups often avoid nullsec.

There is some real hope in that there is a relatively easy solution to this problem, and it doesn't even involve making any changes to bubbles.

To put it simply, all that needs to be removed from the game to solve this dilemma is NPC standings hits for aggression in Null Sec and WH space. Of course, that would mean that FW groups could engage "friendlies" at will in null security space and wormholes with no consequences to their standings, but after talking with several people still in FW, no one seems to see this as being an issue. After all, there are no FW objectives in null sec or WH space, just a few good fights, and maybe a chance to try out Fozzie Sov, something that would be very difficult with the way standings hits currently work.

Monday, June 15, 2015

IWantRMT plus Proposed Fleet Warp Changes

Hello friends! It's been an interesting last few days in Eve. It's also been a couple of months since the last blog post, but really there hasn't been much to say that couldn't be tackled on the weekly radio show.


Before I get to the meat of today's posting, I think it's only fair to touch on the IWantISK situation. I've known about the site for some time, but haven't really cared one way or another. My primary form of gambling in Eve is in PVP, and that loses me enough money these days without the benefit of FW LP to make up losses. I had a brief stint at EOHPoker, lost a few hundred million, and came to the determination that I suck at Poker. I also tried betting on some AT matches on Eve Bet lost some money there too. Basically, gambling is bad for me.

Eve's meta is kind of unique in the land of modern day MMO's. I don't know of any sites where you can bet your WoW gold playing poker or bet on real life sporting events, nor where it can be used to gamble on lotteries for in game items run by players. In fact, off the top of my head I can't think of ANY other MMO that allows this, which is kind of a pity, because I suspect there are a lot of people paying subs right now in Eve that may not be if it weren't for the meta game.

So that brings us to the temptation that hits guys like Somerset Mahm when their meta game gets a little too good, and they start seeing opportunities to turn it into real money. IWantISK has apparently been doing well, and when the site was black listed from the in game browser a while back, it was fairly obvious that something was afoot. Supporters of the site were calling for calm, the guy that runs it was asking why, and anyone with a level head on their shoulders had a pretty good feeling someone, or more than one person got caught with their hands in the RMT cookie jar.

So much shit was posted in the wake of the black listing, it's hard to separate the bullshit from anything that might have been substantiated, but we've come away with 2 facts at this point. 1: Some of the bankers for IWantISK were dirty. 2: the more the IWantISK guy opens his mouth to speak, the more I'm convinced he's either a clueless idiot, or he knows more than he's let on.

The thing that eats me on this stuff is just how unnecessary it all is. EOHpoker and Eve-Bet have been operating for years without this stuff happening. Maybe they're not raking it in to the point where the temptation is too great to pass up, or they're just honest dudes trying to make money in game creatively, I don't know. One thing I do know is that you might gamble and do ok, but if you keep playing long enough, the house always wins. In this case, it looks like the house is CCP, and they've called in their chips.

Nosy did a great writeup on what he's collected to date. If you don't know him, he's THE guy when it comes to blogging about RMT stuff in Eve, and should be on your reading list.

Lazy Game Development Part Deux

Over the last couple months I've been working hard to curb my inner bittervet. I got out of FW, I've been playing Eve more, and I've been having fun doing it. I've even had some positive things to say about CCP and Eve on the weekly Eve Radio Show! I'd been making some real progress, then someone brought the o7 show from this past week to my attention and I think I'm having a relapse.

When I saw the fleet warp change announcement on the o7 show my initial reaction was "WTF?!" The more I've read about it since and come to figure out exactly what is changing, I'm even more confused. Warping your fleet to 0 or range on a stargate or celestial or fleet member is fine, but it's lazy piloting to fleet warp to a bookmarked tactical? Are you effing kidding me?

I have linked the relevant section of the show below, it should start right when the fleet warp discussion begins. 

 "We want to encourage more specialized play!" In a word, bullshit. I kept waiting for a Feel, Felt, Found sales pitch somewhere in there which thankfully never came.

I will admit that I'm a little out of touch where large nullsec fights are concerned. I typically fly in small to medium gangs, hardly ever more than 20 people. We rarely probe, but when we do, we always send a cloaked guy in first because if someone is sitting there aligned we NEED to make sure our tackle lands at the right range with as little time to get away as possible.

We do, however, maintain an extensive list of tacticals in many of the systems we routinely operate in. Gate perches, off grid pounces, instant dock and undock bookmarks are a few examples.

In lowsec, we're lucky because the stuff we bookmark tends to not move around, and I have few enough people I fly with that if I can remember how to copy my bookmark sets, I'll only have to copy a couple hundred BMs to pass around. It'll be a complete pain in the ass, but maybe not as bad as a null FC that would need to pass them around to a few hundred people.

There was a time when the mass copying of bookmarks had a really negative effect on the server performance, which is how we ended up with warp to 0 (warping to something used to land you 15k away, our autopilot is a legacy of that system). If this ends up becoming a thing again for fleet ops, I'm wondering if CCP has considered whether this will rear it's ugly head again.

That all aside, I don't even want to think about the guys in WH space. From the rumblings I'm hearing, if this change goes through, CCP is hitting those guys with the big purple dong. Fortunately, CCP has come out and said they'll look into ways to not screw WH guys over quite so much, but that also reeks of "Wow, we only thought of the one area of the game we were trying to make more 'interesting' and didn't even consider what that would mean to you guys over there." Here's an idea: Mention something like this to your CSM first, and consider the WH guy's feedback before the "Big Announcement"

So, what exactly is CCP trying to fix with this change? Well, they've talked about flying "mostly afk" and warping fleets to probe results (specifically bombers?). Bookmarks it seems weren't the real target, but got caught in the collateral damage category because you can bookmark your scan results. I'm not buying the mostly afk thing, because if that was the case it would make more sense to remove the entire fleet warp mechanic... of course maybe they wanted to, but then thought the tsunami of tears would be too strong and decided to baby step this instead.

That being said, lazy here begets lazy. It strikes me as an FC that if a bomb drop was a legitimate concern of mine, I'd spread my fleet out a little bit. Maybe a tweak to the explosion size of a bomb is in order if fleets are getting hit too easily?

Further, in a non stealth bomber situation, fleet warping your interceptors and tackle with the bulk of a fleet seems kind of dumb, since all ships will warp at the speed of the slowest ship in the fleet warp. Maybe by wing or squad, but then wouldn't you need a prober in every squad or wing leader position to pull this off? Surely no FC would warp an entire mixed fleet at battleship speed right?

So again, I'm a little confused.

If the issue is warping a fleet onto a probed target and the speed at which that can be accomplished, why aren't we tweaking probing? The most likely reason I can come up with is the coding behind it, and the fact that it's easier to remove functionality from the client than edit existing code. In a nutshell, that means looking for the fastest, easiest way to tackle a problem and determining whether any collateral damage is worth it. That's why the teams feature got pulled from industry, too much of a pain to fix vs just removing them entirely. You may also recall a certain heated incident during my term on the CSM last year where removing intra-corp aggression entirely came up at the summer summit, followed by a complete removal of clone costs with "plans" to replace the risk with something else later down the road that I don't think we'll ever see. Pluck, pluck, pluck, meaningful changes made to the game with the Delete key.

This wasn't brought up on the o7 show, but another casualty of this change is the time honored tactic of inviting someone undocking to your fleet, and if they accept, fleet warping them to a nice, good old fashioned, passionate ass whupping at an insta a few hundred km off the undock. Recalling a few.... impassioned discussions I've had with one of the people present for this change's unveiling, I would not be surprised if the protection of "players who don't fully understand game mechanics" getting taken advantage of (ie: noobs and/or dumbasses in capital or other blingy ships) did not come into play at all here.

In Summary

There are a few issues going on here, and looking at the proposed change from the angles I just don't see what's being "fixed" outweighing what's getting broken. I don't think CCP Fozzie and Larrikin are telling the whole story. This seems like a poorly thought out change, or a change for the sake of change. There's no quality of life improvement, nor does it make the game any more fun or intuitive.

One could argue that it would make the game harder for some people, which in itself might not be terrible, but I'm grasping at air when I look at the given "reason" for the change being "We want transfer more responsibility for the success of a fleet from its FC to its members." Fozzie has stated that he feels this is a good outcome for bomber fleets, but the bigger picture makes this look like a change meant to kill a fly with a bazooka. There is far too much collateral damage if the act of fleet warping itself is not the perceived issue.

And that brings us back to a modus operandi that seems to have taken increased hold at CCP over the last few years: putting more emphasis on getting things done the easy way, not necessarily the right way.

The changes to POSs and space structures appear to be an exception to this, and I have to say I'm very excited for what I've seen so far on that front, but I'm still left shaking my head with some of these "Delete key" changes.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Lowsec Combat Fits: The Heretic

I used to call these features FW Fits, but with our departure from FW a couple weeks ago that term no longer seems like it would apply. That being said, there's certainly nothing stopping someone in FW from using any of the concoctions coming out of FunkyBacon labs these days, I'm just no longer using a FW plex fight as the measuring stick for a ship's effectiveness. As always, individual results may vary!

Today I'm going to write about a fairly rare ship class for lowsec, Interdictors, and more specifically, the Heretic.
Amarr Destroyer skill bonus per level:
10% bonus to Rocket and Light Missile Velocity
5% bonus to Rocket and Light Missile launcher rate of fire

Interdictors skill bonus per level:
4% bonus to armor resistances
10% reduction in microwarpdrive signature radius penalty

Role Bonus:
Can fit Interdiction Sphere Launchers
Immediately we can forget about the role bonus on Interdictors. The illegality of bubbles in lowsec might be a primary reason these ships don't see much action out here, however with a T2 resist profile, improved warp speed over regular destroyers and even frigates, and a solid speed improvement over their T1 counterparts, Dictors have been impressing me lately as extremely good skirmish boats.

Let's take a look at one possible fit. Full disclosure; I usually operate with Genolution CA-1/CA-2 implants along with a 3% base speed implant and a Zor's Custom for 5% MWD speed boost.
[Heretic, NX-522]
Damage Control II
Small Ancillary Armor Repairer
Ballistic Control System II
Limited 1MN Microwarpdrive I
Warp Disruptor II
F-90 Positional Sensor Subroutines
Light Missile Launcher II x7
E5 Prototype Energy Vampire
Small Hydraulic Bay Thrusters I
Small Rocket Fuel Cache Partition I
At current prices, this ship and fit should run in the 60 million ISK range.

With this fit and relevant skills maxed out, you can expect to do 170 DPS with navy light missiles at 83k (200 DPS with heat) and upwards of 230 DPS at 62k with Fury. You'll have a rate of fire of just over 5.5 seconds and an alpha just over 1000 with navy, and 1300 with fury. The damage is a bit less than a Flycather with kinetic missiles, but unlike the Flycather, you've got your choice of damage and will be doing more DPS with any other damage type. Also, with an 8-3-3 fitting layout, you have more versatility than the Flycatcher's 8-5-1 fitting.

Speed wise you should expect somewhere in the 2600 range, slower than most frigates, faster than other destroyers, and about on Par with many cruisers. With appropriate links (love or hate them, they are prevalent in lowsec, and if you want to be competitive you'll sometimes need them) you'll get up in the 3300 range for speed. If you're willing to drop the Nos I'm using as a heat sink in the highs, the ship should fit without the Genolutions, and you could go crazy with a snake set.

The point of this fit isn't to chase so much as it is to keep a respectable distance. With just the small armor rep, you'll be able to hold yourself together against some long range plinks, or a few light drones, but if you get caught in a brawl you're pretty much toast. With the range and speed of your missiles, even most Garmurs will be forced to keep a respectable distance, giving you opportunity to sling shot out if tackled. For the rest, you'll have to use judgement on what distance to keep, but generally if it's slower than you that would be just outside its effective range where you can dictate the fight.

In small gangs we've been using the Heretic as long range bombardment, usually supported by 1 or 2 interceptors tackling while the heretic provides added fire support from long range. A larger flight of these ships would be absolutely devastating to most small craft gangs that are all the rage in FW lowsec these days.

In practice, most pilots I've run into while flying my Heretic haven't been too keen on getting in close. With a yellow box at 120k, and a rain of missiles long before they can get in tackle range, most small ships have backed off fairly quickly, and most cruisers don't have the speed to close range on the heretic in a respectable period of time. Cynabals and Orthuss should be avoided unless piloted poorly. My only Heretic loss so far this month? A Svipul that I let get too close, which I can chalk up to cockiness and pilot error on my part.... and maybe a little bit of "Svipul is OP". :)