View Full Version : Fixing small scale spaceships (long)

June 7 2011, 09:44:39 PM
i. Introduction
ii. What works, what doesn't
iii. Suggestions
iv. Stuff I don't think is changeable, but still bad

i. Introduction

The Eve spaceships game is one that is more often decided on the fitting screen long before any one undocks and actual combat not uncommonly end in lock, orbit, all guns on+overheat and wait for something to explode and the most important decision of it all is aggress or run. The thing with boring ships in eve, which is quite common, is that they don't really require much thought or player input to be effective, so the player is just activating modules and waiting for something to happen (cue the drake) and that is why multiboxing is so common. Buffer DPS fight with no mobility or other tactical option is the strongest illustration of this in practice, but most other things are not that much better. Lets just see someone multibox a engaging real time game like IL-2, starcraft or street fighter......

Now, respecting server limits that prevents active flying like freespace becoming dominant, there is still a lot that can be done to make fighting more interesting.

So what do we want out of ships? I would be good if a ship's performance is heavily dependent on the input of the player, and in a relatively slow, lag heavy, destiny-ball game like eve this would have to be about making decisions as opposed to movement that much. It would be better if flying a ship in eve is more like playing the piano (with constant inputs) rather than f1 and alt-tab, and that means changing modules to be more involved.

ii.What works, what doesn't work
Before getting into new ideas, it is best to review what contribute to "player skill" and what doesn't in the existing eve environment.

The Good:
MWD, Drone bay, ammo types, capacitor management, overheat management, certain ewar, gun tracking

The bad:
Just about every other module, item and concept

The good items on the list allows a good pilot to differentiate himself from a bad one with skillful management of those factors. It requires real time decision making (as opposed to making it during fitting) to control those factors effectively against an unpredictable opponent. A good player can choose the right ammo, maintain capacitor while neuting the opponent out, and overheat right modules at useful times to win a fight (especially mids, which have diverse functions) and such.

Most of the other modules and items are completely passive and require zero player input and is thus, terrible. If you look at a standard drake fitting, outside the mwd there is no module that is not perma on during a fight and it is terrible design for such a fit to be the most effective one.

General principles on what is good
Players need options, and they need options that is a real trade off where one is better in other situation as opposed to another. One can additionally divide options into a few types:

1. Options that allows the player to be more effective against different opposition, which is defined as grid loads. For example, ammo selection is mainly dependent on what you are shooting at. This require some effort to evaluate, but does not consistently generate particularly exciting fights since they are known to experienced players.

2. Options which are responses to changing situation and enemy action during a fight
This is more interesting since players are more variable then fits and complex interactions can occur. However this is also uncommon in 1v1 in Eve, perhaps common only in countering drones, certain capacitor heavy fits and such, though it does happen a lot more more in gang fights as there is far more tactical options and situation changes there. It might be interesting if you could load rage missiles just as the opponent activate the MWD or manually cycle neuts so that the opponent just never have enough cap to run a cycle of his shield booster, but it doesn't really work well as is now.

I will seek to address to add to both kind of decisions:

1. Explore new activate modules with different optional trade offs
There is a massive number of possible combinations of bonus and penalties with the large number of ship and module properties, and the vast majority of them is unexplored. With scriptable modules one could cover many options at once, and a good trade off found when the optimal mode of operation in common tactical situation is not so clear on quick examination:

Example tradeoffs:
Signature <-> Max velocity *Microwarp Drive
Tracking <-> Damage *Ammo
Damage types <-> Damage types *Ammo
Resist types <-> Resist types
Signature <-> Resists
Point range <-> Max velocity
Missile Range <-> Missile Speed
Missile explosion velocity <-> Explosion radius
Resists <-> Raw HP gain (note stacking penalty on resists)
Remote Rep Cycle Time <-> Remote Rep Amount per second
Armor/Shield Rep amount of per second <-> Armor/Shield Rep cap use per hit point
Neutralizer bonuses <-> Main weapon bonuses
Drone bonuses <-> Main weapon bonuses

This is also a small slice of possible trade offs, mainly grouping offense and defense together in expectation that the person attacking and defending is not the same in "shoot primary" type fights. In 1v1 where the person attacking and defending is all the same, a larger set that trades offensive power and defense is useful.

Note that new Ewar mods can be built on these principles too, by applying selected penalties to the target. Add that to range/fallout/accuracy features and you can have very complicate system of ewar. If a set of relations is too limited for a new ewar mod, you can always bundle multiple sets with scripted modules.

2. Add new family of modules that can be activated and deactivated without 95% capacitor requirement and heavy cap use.

The idea is to allow ships to be "overfitted" that is over cpu/grid with many deactivated modules that are switched on the fly. So you could deactivate a row of guns to get that heavy neut online, or cut the plate to get MWD up and so on. It would take some effort to figure out how to make best use of the new fittings and flexibility which translates to more fun.

3. Add modules where:
I. There is a long cycle time
II. The bonus/penalty of the module does not apply for the full duration of the cycle.

For example a hardener that have 1 minute cycle time, and gives +45% resists across the board but only for the last 30 seconds part of the cycle.

This sort of module is interesting since a careful opponent may pick up its effect, and respond by overheating guns to hit the vulnerable timing. A damage-mod type module with similar effect would may "synchronizing" a important player skill and the defender may choose to manually cycle mods to counter, stagger hardener cycles or use other tricks to confuse the opponent on when to maximize his dps output.

You can in principle add this effect to any opponent effecting module in the game and make timing a important thing.

It would be kind of fun to figure out how to align different cycling time, weapons mod with rof mod, damage mod, and tracking/range mod together for massive damage especially for slow cycling weapons like artillery where the player may actually have to turn off the gun at times to maximize dps output while avoiding defender's own cycles, while defenders can try its own hand at avoiding damage and alpha strikes with timing module bonuses with timing getting on grid/jumping/getting in and out of range/prop mod cycles/rep cycles.

One might have to make special graphics effects or make it a visible ewar effect with icon on overview if it proves too hard to pick up during fights, but overall it should add to the number options available to players.

iv. Stuff I don't think is changeable, but still bad

The number of offensive options, in the world of not yet existing ewar, is huge, but the number of defense options is limited without a complete overhaul of a lot of things.

Buffer tanks is bad. The power of HP adding modules really close a lot of windows when it comes to design since it lacks anything to exploit or any interaction with any other ship system, unlike other defense concepts like active tank (cap), sig tank (velocity, geometry) and such. A natural counter to this kind of defense is "percentage of hp" type offense, but it is hard to make it work well in the scale free environment that is eve, where ship range from hundreds to millions of ehp, even with some more complicate formula playing (eg raw damage = 10%/ max[(signature/500,1)] ) that limits effects on larger things.

The other bad thing is the "singular tank type" like how ships are solely armor/shield tank and the "other type of hp" is for the most part irrelevant. What would be more interesting is that all three tanks have "some function" and ships change in defense strategy as it loses hp. Imagine, for example, a ship that have mods that either do both +shield resists, +signature or -signature. So it would be shield tanking and as it reaches armor it becomes signature tanking instead and the opponent would have to switch his offensive strategy. By giving mods different effects on different layer of defense a ship can transform as it fights and both sides would have to adapt. Just imagine how you would manage your ship if you have a shield hardener that can also be scripted to become a hull repairer or something. That said, that sort of mod is counter intuitive and just plain strange, so it probably is not going to get any votes for inclusion.

And of course, destiny balls with no gun arcs of any sort of geometry modeling, but that is due to developers as opposed to the player base.

Tony O
June 8 2011, 08:20:11 PM
Nice post, some interesting ideas and suggestions there.

I like your "overfitted" ship idea ("reconfigure on grid" seems a tad more descriptive.) It needs more in the way of drawbacks, vulnerabilities, and/or limitations though. EVE has suffered enough from mudflation as it is, the endless repetition of "new shinies are much more betterer than the shinies that came before" in MMOs is more than a little tedious.

Best idea in your whole post may be the EWAR suggestion. Opening up EWar to actual creativity would be a helluva breath of fresh air for this game. I'd love to see EWar subverting buffer tanks, to combine two of your ideas. And by subverting buffer tanks I mean in particular the ability to fuck up generic/universal shit like Shield Extenders, Invulnerability Fields, CDFEs, Armor Plates, ANPs, EANMs, and Trimarks.

In the various threads ranting against the soul-destroying evil that is the ECM mechanic, the question "what would Caldari get for EWar if they didn't have ECM?" has never seen a satisfactory answer. Well, imaigine effects like:
- Target's Invulnerability Fields afflicted with +300% sig radius and activation cost penalties, or
- Target's Trimark Armor Pumps afflicted with -20% kinetic resist penalty, or
- whatever

Having to make the other guy explode if you want him to stop shooting at you sounds like a recipe for fun to me.