Credit Where It's Due

Subject: Thank you
From: Ty Delaney
Sent: 2014.01.27 03:30
To: Miura Bull

You may not be able to tell, but this kill is all thanks to you.

Kill: Captain Sparro (Claw)

I've learned a lot by studying the ships you fly, how you fit them, and what you take them against. I'm not sure if this firetail is exactly the same as one you flew in the past (I usually change something, because I'm stupid), but the fitting in EFT is saved simply as "Miura" - let's at least assume you inspired it.

Anyway, thanks. I don't always have time or the luck for 1v1s these days - this fight pretty much made my day.
I'm sure if Miura ever gets the chance, he'll try to kill me (I'd be profoundly disappointed otherwise), but that doesn't mean I can't say thanks for providing some great inspiration.


The Unexpected Good

Given my family, busy home life, teaching, learning, recording an audiobook, writing another book (and recording that), writing another book, and... you know... a day job, I don't have a ton of time to play Eve.

I know, I know. Priorities, right?

Since I'm a little tight on time, I try to focus on activities that yield something positive within a fairly well-defined block of time.

Faction Warfare suits me right down to the ground, for example: log in, undock, and a couple jumps to a contested system for either LP payout, PvP, or both. Or, a few bomber missions. Either way, something positive.

Even if I lose a ship, at least something interesting happened.

Scheduled roams can sometimes (not always) work out well. I've had some good experiences with the fairly new Redemption Road roams, and I've mentioned the RvB Ganked roams many, many times. It isn't always a great experience, but most of the time it is, and I like practically everyone I haven't muted on Mumble.

Last weekend was RvB's 100th roam, for which they'd ironically (but earnestly) planned a stationary fight: lots of capital ships and giant "come at me bro" sign. I decided to attend, because as I said, I like the guys and I wanted to celebrate with them.

Unfortunately, it didn't end up being one of those times when a Ganked Roam resulted in a good experience. The two hour (!) fleet muster window ended up stretched to three hours, several ships died just getting through highsec to the target system (one of them the battleship I'd decided to bring - hardly surprising as I always lose ships before ganked fleets even start if I don't bring an interceptor) and, once we got in system, the TiDi was... well, TiDi.

That all this happened at the same time as the HED-GP meltdown at least demonstrated to us (via Twitch.tv) that things could have been worse, but with over 600 "friendly" pilots in system, most of whom were (a) criminally flagged and (b) not in the same fleet, it was a bit of a hot mess, and took a good six hours before I gave up and headed out.

The best fight that whole time?

I was reshipping in a nearby system, and undocked in my trusty Taranis, straight into a Caldari faction war target, flying a Catalyst. After a momentary pause, I thought "I can kill a Catalyst, I bet. Maybe. Possibly... Fuck it!" and broke undock invulnerability to charge his guns. Managed to get in close before he could lock me and took him out with flames trailing behind me. GF, GF.

That said, if the highlight of a 1200-pilot fight is a 1v1 between you and a tech1 destroyer, several jumps away, that probably wasn't time well spent.

Never let it be said, however, that I won't try something twice, just because it was bad the first time!

The next day, GG had a Redemption Roam scheduled, and I put together a few ships to tag along.

Things started out poorly. Flying an interceptor, I was dropped into the scout and skirmish wing and shot out into Curse, but pulled a particularly boneheaded maneuver when I warped to the only station in YKE4-3 from the only gate in YKE4-3, at 100 kilometers. The executioner sitting near the station didn't worry me, as both the character and his ship's name made him look like a cyno alt. He entered warp, and I figured he was leaving...

... nope. He dropped right on top of me at my painfully easy-to-predict location and took out my Ares. I'm so bad at this game.

Meanwhile, the main body of the fleet (armor tanked missile destroyers and interdictors) had completely flubbed an attempt to catch a fleet of bombers and lost about half our ships only four or five jumps into the roam. Whoops.

As I said, things were looking bad. I was about to dock up and log out for the day when someone jumped onto comms and asked if our fleet of ~30 would be interested in a potential carrier kill in wormhole space.

I just want to pause here and reflect on the fact that someone decided to batphone a Redemption Road "RvB Ganked Hangover Fleet", because that was their best option. Wow.

Needless to day, we were interested. I and one other pilot made best speed for Rens (only a few jumps from the wormhole) and cobbled together a pair of Apocalypse battleships to make the carrier a slightly softer, energy-drained target. Once assembled, the SS iNeut set out for glory.

Considering how long mustering took the day before, the fact that everyone either reshipped into bigger stuff or flew 20+ jumps and was ready to attack inside 25 minutes was... refreshing.

We jumped into the wormhole, then over to the next wormhole, which would take us into the target system. Our scout got us a good warp-in, our tackle leap into motion, and a few seconds later I found myself in a lag-free, non-TiDi'd capital and battleship fight - my first time flying a neut/drone ship in anything over a six-pilot gang.

Everything exploded, we scattered back out to known space, I checked the clock, said my goodbyes, and logged.

Some days, what looks like the best event of all time turns out more than sub-optimal, and the best fight you get is a 1v1 with a war target somewhere far away from the main event.

Sometimes, you whelp most of the fleet and lose your scouting ship to a clever trap for stupid pilots... and turn around to get a nearly-flawless carrier kill.

You just never know.

That's why I love this game.

When an Apology Isn't About "I'm Sorry"

Mabrick is, as he likes to say, mumbling about CCP's apology to the participants in the HED-GP fight last weekend. He's disappointed in CCP's decision to apologize, and does a bit of math to illustrate his reasons.

In concept, I agree with Mabrick's point. Despite the size of the fight in HED-GP, it was a relatively small percentage of the total number of people who were logged into the game, and everyone else was pretty much fine (RvB TiDi notwithstanding).

In fact, in the past, I've made similar points - as much as Null likes to brag about how their wars churn the economy, even a casual glance at dotlan shows that just as many ships die in high sec, and on more predictable patterns. Yes, really.

If it were just about appeasing the existing player base, Mabrick's entirely correct in telling that lot to HTFU and organize fights that can actually be played within the technological restrictions of the game in which the fight takes place.

But it's not about player appeasement, of course. Not at all.

It's about marketing.

There's two things Mabrick either doesn't consider or chooses to ignore to make the point he wants to make.

1. The groups involved can generate a huge amount of press about the events in Eve, at will. The Goons in particular are well-documented masters of 'controlling their message', and as the Mittani has demonstrated dozens of times, when you control the vocal output of 10 thousand accounts and probably a couple thousand actual players, you can make a pretty loud noise.

2. Successful, glitch-free monster fights grow the playerbase. A large number of players started playing EVE because of the fight in Asakai - it not-so-indirectly lead to the creation of Brave Newbies, now one of the largest player corps in the game. (Was Asakai really a year ago? Huh.) It's free advertising of the best kind: word of mouth.

So... no. Nothing that CCP is saying publicly with regards to HED-GP is really about player appeasement. The apologies aren't to mollify anyone who plays the game.

It's marketing for the people who aren't playing the game.


Just a bit on the Problem of Soul-Crushing Lag

Lots of folks have already written about the current problems with very large fleet fights in Eve, prompted by the events in HED-GP over the weekend.

The short version: 3500ish pilots tried to pile into a single system and blow the hell out of each other and the servers simply couldn't handle it, producing an experience similar to the bad old days (tm) of three or more years ago.

CCP put a band-aid on the problem with time-dilation which, by reducing the speed of what's happening in heavily-loaded systems to as low as 10%, effectively made their servers ten times faster. Great, if the fleets never get any bigger.

But they would. Of course they would. Inevitably. With large, heavily-organized null security power blocs fleets will, as Trebor famously said, "expand to fill the lag available."

So what do you do?

Get better hardware? Unfortunately, computers aren't getting better in directions that benefit Eve's code base very much.

Make the code more efficient? They're working on that, but even if the work done is outstanding, it just puts the same kind of timer on the situation as the time-dilation fix: if the servers and/or code can handle more pilots in big fights, so those fights will inevitably grow til they hit the new crash/freeze barrier, and we're right back where we started.

Don't get me wrong: I think optimizing the code is good and valuable work, but it doesn't fix the main problem, which is that bringing more ships is always the best option if you want to win a fight

The trick to creating a truly long-term solution to this isn't to support the current best option - it's to make other options better and/or necessary.

Competing Objectives

Corelin used this phrase, and I like it. The basic idea is to create a new normal for sovereignty battles where, to put it simply, fights and other ship-based activities need to happen in multiple locations at the same time. Corelin gave the example of having the system's the TCU, IHUB, and Station all run on the same timers, rather than in sequence, so they all have to be fought over at the same time.

Personally, I'd take it further, and in directions that let you simulate the real-world factors of terrain and supply and support chains. There have been some good suggestions along these lines, but the best of them basically boil down to making sovereignty contests more like the current Faction Warfare mechanics. Instead of a single timer revolving around a single point in single system, spread those timers out to a number of locations, with the majority of those sites within size-restricted complexes. And I really do mean spread them out: to create the illusion of ‘defending and attacking supply and support lines,' you might even consider scattering those complexes all around the target system’s constellation - attackers ignore them at their peril, a properly defended complex might set the entire offensive back by resetting vulnerability timers or removing vulnerability altogether.

The size restrictions on those complexes are worth talking about as well. Size restrictions mean that some critical parts of the sov fight would be frigate, destroyer, cruiser, 'all sub-caps' fights, set up so those complexes need to be handled at the same time as each other and/or at the same time as the 'main' battle. This means that the meta of the game changes to effectively split up fleets, spread them out, and call for different tactics (and make multiboxing to get more ships on the field far less effective, since multiboxing a frigate, a cruiser, and a carrier in three different fights/fleets/systems isn't going to appeal to many people).

Obviously the whole sov process would have to change, perhaps incrementally, but it feels like the best direction for (a) more manageable per-system, per-fight load and (b) more interesting Sov gameplay.


Roaming Redemption Road

Had a gap in the residency schedule, so decided not to do the smart thing (take a nap) in favor of the dumb-but-fun thing (go on a Redemption Roam with Mangala as FC).

I don't often go on Ganked or Ganked-related roams, because I generally prefer solo and very small gangs, but that doesn't mean I won't go if it's the most easily accessible fun to be had - they're a good group of guys, and I'm a long ways from home, getting online via my lovely but not-exactly-gaming-grade Macbook Air, so a roam with a few extra pilots around to attract enemy fire appealed to me.

It played out very well. Granted, my lag+slower machine meant I missed out on (quite) a few fights (sixty pilots in frigates means a lot of stuff dies before you can lock it), but I contributed meaningfully to most of the fights I got in on. I was particularly proud of chasing down and getting a critical scram/web combo on a Omen Navy Issue in my little DCU-tanked brawling Taranis. That fight left me trailing flames out the back of my ship for the rest of the roam (hello structure damage), but it was *totally* worth it.

And, for a final laugh, I stumbled back to my seat during a break and fumbled my mic back on to say "Why did I just hear my name?"

It seems Greygal and been randomly awarding some prize ships donated to Redemption Road. My number had come up for the final prize ship of the day.

A Thanatos carrier.

I think I'll call it the SS WTF.

I honestly don't know what I'm going to do with the thing. Both I and my carrier alt can fly it (Ty only technically - he's not really capable) but...

Well, I dunno. We'll see. Maybe I'll blow it up at the RvB Ganked 100th roam celebration.

Seems only fitting.