Sunday, May 4, 2014

Fanfest from a Lowsec Perspective

The week was a rough one for me to cover fanfest. Real time just wasn't an option due to work commitments and not being able to watch almost anything live, but thankfully I had twitter, and a great Eve Media community to keep me abreast of the situation as it was developing and I don't think I missed many key developments.

The Good

I feel like I've been ragging on CCP a bit lately, so I'm going to start this post off with happy feelings.

One of CCP's teams that never seems to do any wrong is the art department, and holy balls did they come through this year. First and foremost on my list is the new Moa concept. I'd hate to think of myself as an overly vain person, but when it comes down to it one of the main reasons I don't fly the Moa is because it looks dumb. I prefer the Thorax as a cruiser gunboat in our zone due to tracking bonuses, but those shield resists would come in handy in some situations. I predict I'll actually have a few Moas in my hangar by the time that new ship model is rolled out. CCP's focus on adding warp animations to ships, like what they did with the Tristan recently, really adds to the visuals, and it looks like the Moa will be getting a good one as well.

The new Dominix concept is also of interest. The ship is on it's 3rd iteration right now (the launch brown potato, the Trinity Redesign, and a later reworking to fix some of the textures) and I still don't know where the drones get launched from. On it's 4th pass, it looks to be getting sleeker, and it'll now have a visible flight deck.

The Condor family of frigates wasn't particularly bad looking before, but the new model brings it from decent to bad ass.

A new typhoon was also unveiled. I have to say, I like where the art department is going with glowing Minmatar engines. It looks great on the Stabber line, and I think it will add a nice look to the Typhoon line as well.

Outside of art, I'm becoming more confident that CCP is thinking about lowsec in the upcoming industry changes. The mention of bringing in a lowsec only POS module to construct capital ship components at an especially high ME will be most welcome if it significantly closes the refinery gap we're seeing between null outposts and POS modules available to lowsec industry.

No one out here is too worried about the tech 1 ship market getting taken over by nullsec blocs with an 11% advantage on compressed ore yields. With the nerfs to jump fuel consumption, and a low volume market when compared to highsec, I don't see null blocs invading our markets with a flood of goods being sold for less than we can produce them for. As I mentioned before, that 11% margin on capital hulls will be a huge deal if not dealt with. The POS module will increase the risk of building those components, and if done right, could close the gap on manufacturing dreads and carriers enough to keep lowsec competitive with null in that market segment. I am very much looking forward to details and numbers to how that will work out.

Next up, I was quite pleased to see that high value ore anomalies will be coming to low sec instead of just being a null phenomenon. Paired with the announcement of a new t2 black ops capable mining frigate with twice the ore hold of the venture, this could be an excellent start to bringing some miners, and by proxy other industrialists to lowsec. I see this as being a healthy start, but it's just that: a start. More love is going to be needed to fully flesh this out, but CCP is making steps in the right direction at this point, and I'm happy with where we're going.

The new mining frigate itself I see as an especially high boon for null sec miners. With the ability to black ops bridge them in and out of a system, they're the first mining ship that has a reasonable chance of being able to circumvent a large chunk of travel risk in null sec, and they'll have a good chance of being able to escape danger if they're on their toes with a Black Ops ship cloaked in a safe to provide an exit bridge. For low sec, a cloaking frig offers even more travel protection than one with 2 built in stabs.

Lastly, the move to a 10 point release development cycle is something I see as an overall positive. The last 4 "expansions" we've had haven't been much more than content patches really. If Eve development is going to get away from expansions that deliver significant new game play elements in favor of releases that feature a small amount of new content mixed in with a large amount of balancing and fixes, point releases at 6 week intervals will deliver that experience better. This may also give CCP Masterplan and his team the time they need to finally revamp the POS code. Good luck with that buddy, you'll need it.

The Great

The 3 announced Mordu's Legion ships planned for release may end up becoming HUGE for lowsec PVE. I'm not sure at this point how we will be going about getting our hands on the blueprints, but the announcement that they will only be attainable in lowsec is a big big deal for us. These ships should give lowsec PVEers one more thing outside of Tags4Sec for a lowsec only export. I expect we'll see an influx, especially early on, of people seeking out these ships, and you can bet there will also be a surge of people hunting the people hunting for these BPCs. It could be glorious if done right.

Also on my great list was the new Eve Prophesy trailer. Amarr empire vs a capsuleer alliance building the first capsuleer built stargate in New Eden makes for an interesting story. Of course, this has nothing to do with reality in eve (the TiDi is conspicuously missing for one) but it's a badass trailer none the less, and shows us some of where CCP is going with the overarching story of Eve. Capsuleers are becoming more and more independent of the empires. As far as such 3-way battles are concerned between Eve, Dust/Legion, and Valkyrie, make no mistake that we are likely YEARS away from anything this epic, if it's ever realized at all.

The Mixed Bag

Some small changes were announced specific to FW.

First, Large complexes spawning as a regular part of the rotation, not just as rare and random spawns I see as a good thing. A portion of the community has asked for FW fighting to branch out beyond cruiser and down gameplay, and they'll be getting their wish. If you want to assault a home system, you're still going to need lots of frigs and dessies as large plexes will only account for 25% of the capturable assets, but this will give people who want to bring out the big guns a chance to do so. Of special note here is that even though you cannot light a cyno in the vicinity of a FW plex, you can light them elsewhere in system and warp caps into a large conventionally. I personally would not mind seeing a large plex fight escalate all the way to a cap fight, and that will now be a possibility.

The inability to cloak in a 30k proximity to a plex button is a bit of a mixed bag here. It sort of takes care of the the cloaky frig problem, but cloaks are a better defense for pilots paying attention to short scans, whereas stabs are the primary defense of pilots that are plexing AFK. The cloak nerf also kills one of the more successful tactics to hunt stabbed farmers, which is using a stealth bomber with multiple scrams to sneak up on, and snag a cloaky stabbed plex farmer. It also kills the bait and decloak recons gank method.

Stolen from Drakarn.
A far more effective way to combat cloaky stabbed farmers would be to nullify the effect of WCS inside of the 30k button radius, or to adjust stabs to make it VERY difficult to mount any kind of an offense if multiple mods are stacked on a frigate. What we need to be doing here is nerfing the ability to run FW plexes AFK. At this time, with stabs it is possible to sit in a plex with your client minimized, and simply warp off once you get that buzzer notification telling you your shields are about to drop. I don't think killing cloaks in plexes is going to solve this issue... at all.

Last up, and this one has me a bit worried, is respawns inside plexes. 2 years ago, we used to have huge NPC spawns and respawns inside FW plexes and they were a huge deterrent to engaging in any sort of PVP inside said plexes. Part of the reason for having the single spawn is so that the NPC can be dispatched, and then PVP can happen without the interference of NPCs.

Presumably, the point of these respawns is that someone who is plexing afk, will have to reopen the window periodically to kill another NPC before they can go AFK again. Fozzie has not told us how often the respawn will happen, and certainly hasn't mentioned if they have the ability to stop the spawn if there is actual PVP happening in the plex, but my guess is no, they can't. The NPCs offensively are relatively weak, but in a 1v1 situation, they put out enough DPS to tip the balance in an otherwise close fight.

As a PVPer, I don't like the idea of an NPC ship giving me an edge in a primarily PVP activity. Defense of systems is best left to the players, and what we NEED are mechanics in place that will prevent AFK farmers from being able to ply their trade with little to no risk. Anyone farming plexes and paying attention has the ability to watch their short scan and warp out of the plex before a hostile lands, or while a hostile is landing and hasn't fully exited warp yet. WCS allow someone who is not otherwise paying attention to run from fights, or to make bank if they are not disturbed.

WCS have a place for people traveling and moving ships or goods from one place to another in hostile territory, but they have no place as a means to enable AFK farming in an environment designed around PVP interactions. I am disappointed this part of the issue was not addressed at all, nor were timer rollbacks brought to the fore, which is something FW players have been asking for for years now.

The Ugly

A lot of dick moves have happened in Eve over the years, but rarely has one been done by CCP itself in such a direct way as what happened with the Dust players at their keynote this year. here you have a number of people who likely paid thousands of dollars (or Euros, or whatever their currency is) to come to Iceland to celebrate your game with CCP and other fans, and are then (quite publicly I might add) punched in the dick while the successor to their game dominates the Dust514 keynote.

If I was a Dust player I'd be beyond bullshit. There is a time and a place to announce the sunsetting of  a CCP game in favor of the next big thing, but in Iceland, during Fanfest, at the keynote for that game that people have paid thousands to attend is not that time or place. The worst part of it is that CCP doesn't seem to have seen this reaction coming. Surely, even if Dust's devs are too dense to see how this would play out, they at least ran this plan by their CPM and got feedback about this possible scenario happening before going ahead and doing it anyway... right?

I'm not a Dust player myself, but I know quite a few people who are. The goodwill CCP burned this week by pulling this stunt at fanfest, and then not being ready to answer the most obvious questions that came as a result of this announcement, is huge. There apparently aren't a ton of Dust players as it stands now, but how many of those did CCP lose as a result of this? How many of the Dust players spending all that money to attend fanfest, or pay to watch the HD stream, are also their biggest whales in their cash shop and won't be spending quite so much money moving forward?

There have been a lot of dick moves done by game developers over the years, but this one might make the top 10 all time list. It's a certain kind of special.


  1. Why should/would CCP care if they lose what few DUST players they have. Legion will be for PC as their leaving the console market. Most likely most DUST players aren't going to go buy a PC capable of running it since most DUST players are die hard console gamers, which is part of the reason most of them seem to be upset.

  2. One thing that could shake up FW and deadspace combat in general would be to give acceleration gates a recharge time, rather than hard restrictions. Very simply, a couple of lighter hulls could use the gate in rapid succession, but with a longer wait for larger hulls.

  3. The only positive bullet point of the FW changes is the spawn mechanic change for large plexes. The other proposed changes will change NOTHING on the current farming situation, they might make it even worse.

    I am wondering if anybody brought timer resets up at the FW roundtable, since if they would implement them they could even remove the NPCs all together since it would fix the problem at its root - no freaking workarounds needed.

    1. A timer reset is an interesting idea. That would certainly kill the isk/hr for people not willing to fight for their plex. Would need to have safeguards so that if you're fighting and it takes you outside the 30k range of the button the timer doesn't reset in the process. It's worth weighing this against the other 2 main timer options that have been proposed to see which would work best, and then see if it's something we can actually push for with CCP.

  4. Fozzie basically said in the roundtable not to expect any major changes in FW in the near future since we got "all of 2012 dedicated to Faction Warfare". At first I thought the decloak was a good idea but after reading your blog I agree it's a bad idea. People can still sit at 29.9km and then cloak up almost instantly so it does just make life harder for the person who wants to sit cloaked and hunt people. The NPC respawn is actually intended to address the AFK farming. It keeps the DPS check in place so players can't use an alt to clear the plex and then sit in it with the stabbed ship. Fozzie said the respawn is 90 to 300 seconds in the roundtable.

  5. Attacker leaves plex -> Plex timer gets reseted and starts at a higher number next time. Just for some numbers, first time 5 minutes, second time 7 minutes, third 10 minutes fourth 15 min... and so on.
    Either you have the power to take the system or you don't. If you can't conquer the plex, call in friends, have some battle with the defender. Isn't it that, what FW should be about?

  6. first info about fw i was able to find , thx for that FunkyBacon, glad i voted you ;)
    hope you keep us informed

    ad plexes: seems like there's many easy solutions how to stop those isk farmers but doesnt seem like ccp want to change that, anyone else got similar feelings?

  7. Hey Funkie get this, I was almost buying a PS4 over the XboxOne lat CHristmas because the PS4 had DUST. Imagine what my horror would have been like!