Thursday, September 19, 2013

Drone Assignment & Enabling Stupid

Today it is snowing in hell, because for the first time in recorded history, I have found myself nodding my head in agreement with something posted on Jester's Trek. Make no mistake, I read his blog all the time. I read lots of stuff written by people I don't agree with because I think it helps keep perspective on things. I just won't watch Fox News... I draw the line there.

Drone Assist!

So let's look at this particular "gameplay" mechanic for a moment. The more I think about it, the more I wonder why we even have it in eve. It's something that I think has always been there, even from the way back early days when drones had skynet-like intelligence and would shoot what they wanted to rather than the target you would designate for them. I can think of no other part of eve where I can allow another pilot to control or activate anything to do with my ship for me, except maybe the squad/wing/fleet warp mechanic... but even then, at least I still have to hit the jump button, or engage the target. I certainly can't get any kilmails from fleet warping afk except maybe my own.

The present controversy stems from a newly announced exploit whereby someone can assign sentry drones to another pilot, and then slip inside a POS shield. The pilot in question can then head off to the local pub for a pint while the fleet member they assigned drones to racks up kills for them. If I am to believe what I read on reddit, then we have Nulli Secunda to thank for bringing this tactic to light through over-use. Great job guys, see you in 319 station!

Why stop with just fixing the mechanic with regard to POS bubbles though? I'll be the first to admit, even I use drone assist from time to time, and I'll also admit, it's dumb. In the group I fly with, drone assist is used for 2 reasons only.
  1. To allow logi pilots to whore on kills more effectively.
  2. To compensate for incredibly stupid pilots that can't follow primaries. I fly in FW, there are a lot of people that fall in this category.
 #1 I can kind of get behind... really, logi shouldn't need to kill whore, they should get credit for kills for assisting pilots that score the kills, but I'm pretty sure that's a bit far down on CCP's priority features list. #2 has no place in Eve.

There is a 3rd reason for using drone assist of course, and I see it sometimes. Assign 50 Guard IIs to an insta locking ship and roll around on the floor laughing your ass off (ROFLMAO) while your killboard fills up faster than you can lock the shit you're getting kill credit for. It is my understanding that the CFC is attempting to come up with a tactic that will allow them to face stomp entire fleets doing this, hoping that if they succeed, CCP will kill this mechanic.

Why wait for the CFC to abuse this more than anyone else has to date? Can't we all agree that drone assist is a fairly lame mechanic that shouldn't be in the game in the first place? It's like assigning your turrets and launchers to your FC so they automatically fire on the same target he does at the same moment he does, and surely that would never be allowed. Would it?

I can't imagine removing the drone assist mechanic from the game would take much Dev time. Just remove the option from the drop down menu, and remove any hot key support. I doubt it would require anyone to  mess with the code. CCP Karkur could probably handle this one in less time than it takes to order a pizza.
Is there a legitimate reason for this mechanic to exist? Have I missed something in my 10 years of Eve where a mechanic like this is necessary or adds to gameplay in some meaningful and significant way aside from enabling stupid?

With this "new" exploit brought to light, CCP has a chance here to simply take the easy road for once that makes more sense than the difficult one. Ripard Teg has posted his feelings under his alter-ego Garth, which I am told suggests he's "hedging his bets" on this one. The guy doesn't like to be wrong, but it's not something I'm too afraid of. No alter-egos here. No fake names. I am FunkyBacon, and I would approve of this nerf wholeheartedly.


  1. Drone assist serves a purpose in that it simplifies a bunch of drones ganging up on single targets.

    If drone assist is removed, then some method of targeting the targets of people in your fleet should be created. Perhaps from the watchlist. Expand a player in the watchlist and see everybody that they are targetting. Thus you can sic drones on specific targets as directed by fleet commanders.

    The same ease of functionality is maintained, but players must control/target the drones themselves.

    I agree, drone assist must go, but not without allowing players to still mirror the same functionality on their own.

  2. This will blow your mind then, because what you ask for already exists.

    A member of your fleet is any command role can broadcast a target (hotkey X) and any member of fleet with broadcast window open and set properly can Ctrl+click said broadcast to target and then press F1. Even better is that several targets can be broadcast in order to allow people to pre-lock secondary and tertiary targets for easy F1 action.

    1. Broadcast is to everyone in fleet. Some fleets are broken into specific groups. Not everyone needs to receive the same broadcast. Some of these groups are on different channels.

      Not all groups watchlist the same fleet members. Thus allowing to see targets of watchlist members would be a valuable new UI addition.

    2. Broadcasting target only works on-grid, so only on-grid members would see it.
      Also, anyone can remove the the various groups of broadcasts (I know my logi-pilot does not see Target-broadcasts, but only "I need armor!!!" "I need cap!!!!" and "align/warp to this target!!!!!!!".
      You can even set so you only broadcast within wing, squad, fleet, etc.

    3. Calg's point is super irrelevant. And someone tell poetic there are "broadcast settings"

  3. The only time drone assist really gets out of hand is when it applies to sentries. Specifically the fact that sentrys activated by drone assist all fire instantly and at the same time with good alpha. So what can we do. Change the alpha for DPS and move the act of firing from the start of the cycle to the end.
    Sentry doctins still work, RRsynergy fleets still work and sentrys still get a nerf.

  4. We use it for the interceptor pilot in arty nanofleets. The inty drives the drones with fast locking on the target while the fleet handles range and alpha. Its a very fragile fleet based off of DPs and flying abilities.

    Drone assist is also used in Incursions as well.

    1. Your first example falls somewhere between #2 and #3. We run mono fleets at times as well, assigning drones to a small fast locker is easier, but is not necessary. Example being our nano Talos fleet. Sometimes it's necessary to have both a primary and a drone target. It's extra management to handle your own drones in these cases, but even a semi competent pilot can do it.

      For incursions, this will have more of an effect. It would require fleets to drop a battleship or two in favor of a couple extra t2/t3 cruisers. Good news is HACs got a pretty serious buff, should be up to the task and better than ever.

    2. Managing drones is not a hard task, no.

      Your tone is that this is a horrible mechanic only used by the inept and incapable.

      I will have to beg forgiveness in not understanding the world shattering brokenness of drone assist.

    3. In the case of #2 and #3 it is, absolutely, 100%. In fleets where your pilots are so incompetent that you have to assign hordes of sentries or other drones to one person to make sure they hit the target you want them to hit, it's just covering up ineptitude. The pilots in question really don't have to do anything except anchor up and go off to make a sammich.

      The angle I'm taking here, is that because there are these huge issues with the mechanic being abused, and it's removal while being a little inconvinient, will not break anyone else's gameplay, it should go.

      I'd be all for a reworking, but the way CCP has been lately that's an unrealistic expectation. It's all about how many little things can be crammed into a release. Anything that will actually take some serious dev time that can't be chipped away at in little pieces, is getting shoved away. So take the 10 minutes needed to remove the mechanic UI elements, and if it turns out it was a big mistake, nothing was actually removed, so just put them back later and maybe rework things.