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[Feedback Wanted] Time Zone Mechanics Survey

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C C P Alliance
#1 - 2015-03-11 15:53:30 UTC  |  Edited by: CCP Fozzie
Hey everyone. Alongside our Fanfest prep, our team here in Iceland has been hard at work collecting initial feedback on the Sovereignty Update Dev Blog we released last week. We want to express a huge thanks to everyone who has provided constructive feedback so far.

One of the feedback areas that we would like to focus on at this early point is Sovereignty time zone mechanics and how we can build the best possible time zone safe system. So we've created a survey to help organize your feedback and let us get some new insights into your needs.

Time zone mechanics are a vital, and challenging, part of building game systems in a single shard worldwide universe like EVE.
Time zone safe game systems are those that allow players to determine the rough time period in which events can occur and their assets are in danger. They play two crucial roles in a game like EVE:

  • They prevent players from losing their stuff while they are unavoidably away from the game (work, sleep, etc). Nobody should feel the need to play the game 24/7 in order to compete.

  • They encourage players to show up at the same place at the same time, facilitating multiplayer gameplay. Playing with and outplaying other human beings is the core of EVE, and putting players in contact with each other is a big part of that. If people can fight over an asset without ever coming into contact with each other, we've lost something very valuable.



There have been a few methods used by EVE's game systems to provide this service:

  • Starbase strontium fueling and reinforcement mode was developed to allow players to build and maintain structures in space with reasonable levels of risk. When the starbase is attacked while fueled with Strontium Clathrates it enters a reinforced mode and becomes invulnerable for a period of time determined by the amount of Stront it is loaded with. This system had the downside of some fairly significant complexity, and was less predictable (and therefore higher risk for the structure owner) than the later systems, but led to some interesting gameplay around attacking starbases in unusual time zones and using careful application of damage to "kite" the timer.

  • Simpler reinforcement mechanics were introduced for dominion sovereignty and also used for player owned customs offices. In this system players set a target time for the reinforcement exit and the system would automatically choose a time within a random period around that choice when the structure is attacked. This system reduced complexity and was much easier to manage than fuel. These first two systems also allow the initial attack on a structure to happen at any time, but that is only viable in those systems because the initial attacks have a very significant cost in time and hitpoint grinding.

  • In our current proposal for Summer 2015 Sov Changes, we attempt to build upon the earlier designs and reduce the amount of player vs structure grinding gameplay. The initial stage of killing and dropping SBUs is removed, and instead alliances choose a prime time that doubles as the reinforcement exit period and the point of initial vulnerability. See the dev blog for more details.


We are very interested to hear from all of you to find out what kind of timezone system best fits your needs and desires. That's why we've put together this survey.

The initial questions in this survey are just to provide context, but the real meat comes at the end with the long form answers. We strongly encourage players to provide as much detail as possible. If you don't think the new proposal meets your needs, is it because of the inability to set each structure individually, or because of the removal of the SBU stage of attack and defense, or the 4 hour window for reinforcement exit being smaller than the current 6 hour one? If you expect less content, are you more worried about losing content on offense or defense? The more detail you can provide, the better we'll be able to address your concerns.

You can find the survey at:
timezones.questionpro.com


Russian and German versions of the survey can be found at:
timezones-loc.questionpro.com


Please share with your EVE friends and spread the word. The more people get involved, the more we'll be able to do to help improve the system.

Thanks!

Game Designer | Team Five-0

Twitter: @CCP_Fozzie
Twitch chat: ccp_fozzie

C C P Alliance
#2 - 2015-03-11 15:53:36 UTC
Reserved

Game Designer | Team Five-0

Twitter: @CCP_Fozzie
Twitch chat: ccp_fozzie

Pandemic Legion
#3 - 2015-03-13 13:59:36 UTC
FIRST

@BobmonEVE - BOBMON FOR CSM 12

Pandemic Legion
#4 - 2015-03-13 14:05:16 UTC
ok
WAFFLES.
#5 - 2015-03-13 14:07:24 UTC
Move russians and aussies to chinese servers.

problem solved
#6 - 2015-03-13 14:10:14 UTC
Good things to do a survey about it :) I will answer it right naow !
Greater D.U.S.K. Coalition
#7 - 2015-03-13 14:15:21 UTC
Dev post not showing up in dev post search also not in this week in eve.

If i dont know something about EVE. I check https://wiki.eveonline.com/en/wiki/ISK_The_Guide

See you around the universe.

Affirmative.
#8 - 2015-03-13 14:22:54 UTC  |  Edited by: Greygal
Thanks for putting the survey up!

Have now answered the survey. I am sharing my answers below.

Please explain what you like the most about the system you rated the highest with as much detail as possible.

lol I already forgot which one I rated the highest :) However, I can say that the timer system I like the best currently is the system with the pocos. I set the reinforcement timer to come out at a time that is when we are most active (which happens to be Australian time zone). While the poco can be attacked at any time, the attackers (who 99% of the time are NOT Aussie TZ) have to alarm-clock it to complete attacking it when it comes out of reinforcement, which happens to be when we are able to field the best numbers to defend it. I also like that I can attack anyone's structures whenever I want to - which happens to be during the time zone most opponents are weakest at :) Sure, I'd likely have to alarm clock for when the structure exits reinforced mode to complete the attack, but at least I can attack when it is convenient for us.

Please explain what specific differences between the Dominion timer system and the new proposal that affect your rating. Please be as specific as possible.

The proposed new system GREATLY limits my offensive choices. As an Australian time zone player, right now, I can initiate an attack when I want to. With the new system, I can only initiate an attack when opponents are strongest. As the majority of null sec systems will have timers in the US/EU time zone window, this means that the possibility of my attacking other's sov structures is going to be extremely limited, as very few alliances will have their prime time windows set open during AU TZ. This means I will hardly ever have the opportunity to initiate an attack. Furthermore, it means that the entire AU TZ community will be limited to fighting over very few systems for ourselves, greatly reducing the possibility of owning sov space ourselves.

In essence, the AU TZ will be essentially locked out of any meaningful sov battles, relegated to clean-up duty chasing after nodes left behind by the prior time zones, have virtually no possibility of initiating attacks and/or starting major battles, and have little to no strategic benefit to larger alliances like we do now.

Are there any examples of time zone safe mechanics in games other than EVE Online that you find particularly helpful? Please explain.

I have not played any game other than Eve for years, so really cannot speak to this question.

If applicable, please describe the specific aspects of the new proposal that help it meet your needs more effectively.

The one thing that is nice about the new system is someone can only attack us four hours a day. Of course, that is also a downside... that means less content for us, assuming we actually manage to get sov in a system.

If applicable, please describe the specific aspects of the new proposal that prevent it from meeting your needs more effectively.

The prime time mechanic is a major hindrance to our ability to take sov in a system during the AU TZ, as hardly any systems at all will be available to us to attack. The few systems that likely will be available for us to attack will likely be shite systems.

What excited me most about the possibility of sov changes was the idea that maybe, just maybe, we'd be able to find a nice little system that was of little to no interest to the big boys. We'd be able to take it and maybe, just maybe, actually hold it for some time. We knew that the odds were high that CCP was planning on making changes to sov that would be smaller-alliance friendly, so we were hopeful that this could actually be a reality.

Most of the proposed sov changes are actually beneficial to smaller groups, especially small groups desiring space that really isn't used at all by the current big alliance owners.

The hard limit of a four hour prime time that applies to ALL systems owned by an alliance, a window that does not vary with actual usage of a system, and cannot be changed on a system or constellation-wide basis. With this prime time mechanic, the entirety of any sov-holding alliance's space can only be attacked four hours a day, even the systems they are not using. The spread-out holdings of the big alliances right now will, eventually, contract in on themselves some with these changes, but not much, and not for a while, because they don't have to worry about being attacked except for four hours a day. Any small alliance attacking them during those four hours a day will be easily dealt with, and any big alliance attacking them will be good fights, good fun, or just simply won't happen because the other big alliances will be busy swatting down and picking on the little alliances that dared to mess with their systems.



The tl;dr of the new time zone mechanics for me are simple:

- All of your sov structures safe from attack for 20 hours a day seems really contrary to what Eve is all about.

- The hard, inflexible window of vulnerability to attack effectively shuts out AU TZ players from meaningful engagement in sov warfare.

- The lack of any sort of mitigation on vulnerability in systems that are hardly used at all by owners. There needs to be some sort of use-it-or-lose-it aspect to the new sov system, that way unused systems open up to for small alliances to take a shot at (regardless of their time zone), such as my suggestion during the EDU radio show of systems with little/no usage having ever-increasing windows of vulnerability.

- EDIT: Also, AU TZ won't have the full 4 hour primetime window due to downtime hitting us.

There are many other concerns about the prime time window already well-expressed in the original blog post thread.

I hope this helps. Again, thank you for taking the time to consider our concerns.

GG

What you do for yourself dies with you, what you do for others is immortal.

Free weekly public roams & monthly NewBro new player roams!

Visit Redemption Road or join mailing list REDEMPTION ROAMS for information

Goonswarm Federation
#9 - 2015-03-13 14:34:36 UTC
Any system by which players from one timezone are told "you can only affect this territory at 4am, set your alarm clocks or don't bother" is failing those players fundamentally. There should always be SOMETHING to do to attack or defend space, even if the core vulnerability window remains there has to be some form of secondary objectives for out-of-timezone players to play a part.

One idea I've been thinking of putting forward is to include some form of deployable structures along the lines of the ESS which could be used by attackers and defenders to gradually degrade or supplement the defences of a contested system as long as they remained online, and deactivated by use of the Entosis module. That way a group of players outside of the designated window of attack can still affect the outcome of an invasion by their efforts to keep their own deployables running and/or clearing out those of the enemy, whilst also adding some depth to what is currently a fairly simplistic game mechanic.

Every time you post a WiS thread, Hilmar strangles a kitten.

Ghost Legion.
#10 - 2015-03-13 14:37:56 UTC
Eh, answered the survey, but tbh I don't expect it will change much and CCP will push the current proposal or some variation of it. Will enjoy trolling people with reinforce timers tho.
#11 - 2015-03-13 14:50:33 UTC
Fozzie,

What about doing something like flipping the times around.

So, the holder could say - we're sleeping/working from like late NA to mid EU. Any other time is good.
Goonswarm Federation
#12 - 2015-03-13 14:50:39 UTC
Completed the survey, hope my 2p helps.
#13 - 2015-03-13 14:55:57 UTC
Scatim Helicon wrote:
Any system by which players from one timezone are told "you can only affect this territory at 4am, set your alarm clocks or don't bother" is failing those players fundamentally. There should always be SOMETHING to do to attack or defend space, even if the core vulnerability window remains there has to be some form of secondary objectives for out-of-timezone players to play a part.

pretty much the nail on the head there.

outside of the 4 hour window there's NO way to participate in sov warfare (and no, station services aren't participating in sov warfare)
Caldari State
#14 - 2015-03-13 15:02:06 UTC  |  Edited by: Schluffi Schluffelsen
Thanks for the survey.

Here would be my tweaks on the system:

- switch from an alliance-wide timer to a constellation based timer
- up the 4h window to 6h
- tie the prime time to indices - 5/5/5 gives the lowest timer of 6h, less "occupied" systems have a larger window (let's say up to 12h, for example - just a number though)

This way you could hit more alliances and unloved space is ripe for taking by different TZ alliances, strongholds have defensive boni and a tighter window.
Goonswarm Federation
#15 - 2015-03-13 15:08:58 UTC  |  Edited by: Coelomate
Thanks for the survey!

cross-posting thoughts from reddit -

I really like the prime time mechanic - I think it's a shot of necessary pain that will push the nullsec equilibrium in a good direction. CCP cannot bend space time - outside of edge-case timers and the particularly caffeine-addled, players in Australia will never be able to directly fight players in America. If there were no timer mechanic, sov would become impossible to hold except by large global coalitions.

And the primary change is really only to how the initial assault comes - I don't buy the argument that ATUZ derives significant joy from dropping SBUs mostly uncontested while the actual fight timers tick away for EU/US TZ. After the initial reinforcement, the old and new sov systems allow the defender to choose their strongest time relative to the attacker.

The new timer mechanics strongly incentivize grouping with - and attacking - players that are online at the same time you're online. Which will make coalitions less optimal - but not kill them outright. It will make it more realistic for groups to silo off without facing immediate destruction, increasing the ability for the equilibrium to shift towards balkanization and away from mega coalition (especially alongside occupancy bonuses and jump drive nerfs). That will be painful to the existing order, but great for the health of the game.

Love,

~Coelomate

#16 - 2015-03-13 15:09:56 UTC  |  Edited by: Anthar Thebess
Answered.
Simple suggestion.
Combine TZ safe mechanic and pos reinforce mechanic.

So reinforced structures BURN Stront. Something that is heavy , and hard to move.
You not only need to win reinforce timer, but also BEFORE next TZ window you need to bring back stront in order to get next reinforce timer.
This way you win the timer, structure becomes invulnerable till the end of the current window, and you have next 20hours to bring and refill strontium.

For example ( strontium used per reinforce timer/ total capacity of strontium bay):
- TCU use 5k / 10k
- Ihub 10k / 50k
- Station 10k / 250k

(in case of TCU and Ihub, excessive strontium is destroyed when you loose the timer)

This way you add very important aspect in terms of overarching your sov holdings.
Without ability to resupply strontium , structures will be capture able without any reinforce timer.

Of course stations will not be captured but just enter freeport mode.

Stront can also be filled only by people owning specific structure.
Avoxers/ spy ?
Something interesting , but can be easily solved ( if you consider this as an issue) by only giving ability to put more stront without ability to pull it from those structures.
#17 - 2015-03-13 15:10:57 UTC  |  Edited by: FT Diomedes
There are three primary problems with the proposed sovereignty system and one major advantage. The biggest problem with the proposed system is that it favors the attacker too much. While it is always dangerous to put real world examples into Eve, in the real world there is a rule of thumb that the offense requires a 3:1 advantage in numbers against a prepared defender. The second problem is that for most players, I believe that a four hour window is too long on weekdays and too short on weekends. The third problem is that the time zone system disadvantages alliances that span time zones. The primary advantage of the system is that if I have a timer get attacked during USTZ, I can count on it coming out during USTZ (no more EUTZ getting all the killmails and USTZ doing all the reinforcing, or vice versa).

First, If I am a defender holding only a single station system, I have three structures I must defend. As Frederick the Great said, "He who defends everywhere, defends nowhere." If the defender tries to hold his space against an attacker, he requires three times the number of pilots to defend on even terms. Thus, the new system automatically fails on defense, except for the largest alliances. The problems only get worse when you own more than one system. While I get to choose the time zone, the offense gets to choose the date and the place. The system as it is currently set up favors a mobile offense, hitting the defense wherever he leaves a gap (and he has to leave a gap, unless he has overwhelming numbers).

The defender should be able to prepare a defense. People complain about walls, whether of HP or bubbles, but that is what empires have traditionally used to defend their space. The Roman Empire set out their famous limes along natural geographic choke points and barriers. The Chinese built the Great Wall. Neither was 100% impermeable, but both raised the bar for an invader to get through. And once an invader did get through, they faced walled cities, which were the centers of culture and industry. Control of key terrain needs to matter in Eve. The offense should have to bring siege weapons to do the Eve equivalent of sacking cities. Skirmish tactics should not be able to take space. Taking space should require a significant investment of time and resources. Either you starve them out or you assault them.

Second, the four hour window needs to be adjustable. I am sure CCP has good statistics on this already, and the survey should shed more light on it, but Eve players are, I believe, on average older players. We have dogs, kids, jobs, etc. I personally cannot devote four hours every day to Eve. If I abandon my wife and children, I can get away with two hours every week night, and a few hours on the weekends. Personally, I think a system whereby the alliance could designate a minimum of two 2-hour blocks per day for vulnerability would be better. This narrows the amount of time that a defender has to be on high alert, ready to respond to a potential attack (remember, the offense always gets to pick the date and the place to strike). This also means that more than one time zone gets to help share the burden of defending space. My recommendation is to do one of the following:

(1) Let the space owner set the vulnerability windows per system or constellation, rather than one for the whole alliance. Or,
(2) Let the space owner designate multiple windows, not less than two hours in length, for their vulnerability. Two hours is a realistic amount of time that a person with a life can devote to playing on a consistent basis. A single four hour window is just too much. Additionally, let the defender set vulnerability in excess of four hours daily, but give him a direct and tangible benefit for doing that.

Three, I have already touched on this some, but one of the things that makes Eve such a rich game is that I have been able to meet and interact with people all over the world. I've got friends all over Europe and scattered across the United States (with a few along the Pacific rim). On the weekends, we can all work together towards a common goal, but this time zone nonsense means that one time zone is going to be pulling four hour guard shifts and the other will be either doing all offense, or ratting their happy little socks off. Neither is going to be good for morale. This time zone thing threatens to fragment existing multinational alliances.

Four, the one thing I dislike about about Dominion sovereignty is that if I reinforce a structure, I rarely get on the killmail for it - it always seems to come out 1D, 16H from when we hit it. The biggest advantage of the new system is that if I hit a structure on Monday, it will come out sometime during my normal playing window on Wednesday.

CCP should add more NPC 0.0 space to open it up and liven things up: the Stepping Stones project.

#18 - 2015-03-13 15:12:59 UTC
FT Diomedes wrote:
Let the space owner set the vulnerability windows per constellation, rather than one for the whole alliance.

Let the space owner designate multiple windows, not less than two hours in length, for their vulnerability. Two hours is a realistic amount of time that a person with a life can devote to playing on a consistent basis. A single four hour window is just too much.

No this will ruin the whole idea.
Gallente Federation
#19 - 2015-03-13 15:22:08 UTC
Every group has a 4hr "primetime" TZ that they choose, then for the rest of the 19.5hrs structures have a very small chance of randomly becoming vulnerable. This chance increases with the size of an alliance and/or with the size of the space they hold.

This means an alliance doesn't need to worry about losing all their space overnight, but other alliances can participate in sov warfare on a smaller scale outside of the enemy primetime (would also reduce gaming the TZ system). Non-"Prime" players can participate in defending their sov along with the standard ratting/mining to grind up the indices. Any other alliance can go on a roam with expectations of disrupting the ratting/mining and capturing some sov.

Also, allow groups to voluntarily increase the size of that 4hr window and receive larger reward bonuses.
#20 - 2015-03-13 15:23:28 UTC
Nice to see CCP trolling people who want to give thorough detailed answers to the survey by including a 90 minute timeout and reset.

Thanks for that, an hour and a half down the pan.

id recommend people write out their answers to the questions prior to starting the survey.

questions being:

  1. Please explain what you like the most about the system you rated the highest with as much detail as possible.
  2. Please explain what specific differences between the Dominion timer system and the new proposal that affect your rating. Please be as specific as possible.
  3. Are there any examples of time zone safe mechanics in games other than EVE Online that you find particularly helpful? Please explain.
  4. If applicable, please describe the specific aspects of the new proposal that help it meet your needs more effectively.
  5. If applicable, please describe the specific aspects of the new proposal that prevent it from meeting your needs more effectively.
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