CCP/CSM Should Plan/Discuss Balance Changes More Holistically, and Should be More Inclusive to Special Case Rules

(Tian Tian Tian) #1

From the Minutes, there seems to be lots of issues with what CCP/CSM thinks this game’s main problems are, and how to fix them. Here, I’ll talk about one problem regarding the latter. Even when we successfully identify a problem in Eve, how should CCP approach to fixing it?

Problem: Many balance patches actually make the game worse because they aren’t holistically planned.

At some point (after Incarna maybe?) CCP decided that they would do smaller and more frequent balance passes instead of big ones. However, this philosophy causes issues when the fix is applied to an item in a domain which is related to many other domains in Eve.

Some domains in Eve are independent and isolated. For example, everyone unanimously welcomes UI fixes, bug fixes, NPE improvements and so on. Let’s call these isolated domains. Frequent and small changes are most welcome in these domains. Many other domains are not that isolated. Once you touch them you have to consider a variety of other domains to not mess things up. For example, the reason why AFK cloaking haven’t been addressed for so long is that any change to fix it would also be really intrusive to other ways of cloaking. Let’s call these areas interrelated domains.

The problem is that CCP treats interrelated domains as isolated, and does not take the interrelations into account when discussing/making changes. This in turn often yields the opposite of what was intended with the change. Below are some such examples.

1. Ship Changes

One domain that easily illustrates my point is ship changes. Ships are used in different contexts such as solo, PvE, small fleet, large fleet, tidifest, non-consensual or consensual PvP, structure bashes and so on. Usually changes address or cater to one or two of these domains. And the interrelations of ships to different areas are mostly ignored.

1.1. HIC Balance:

One easy example is HIC changes and how it ignored the way wormholers used it. In that case the change didn’t even favor the majority usage of the ship, like it normally does. The way how CCP/CSM could even propose this to the playerbase is the indicator of how CCP/CSM ignores interrelational issues when making balance changes. Luckily this time sufficient outrage was achieved. We acquired our special case module.

1.2. T3Cs and Falcons:

Another is how T3C changes ignored worries with covert hunting (for a blops or a large fleet), and made it overall harder by making hunting ships less survivable. Yet another is how Falcon changes ignore jamming being one of the only counters for a subcap fleet vs. fighters. The thing is, when taken the entire Eve ecosystem into account, there being subcap counters to fighters and there being ways of killing PvE capitals is equally (if not more) important than all those domains and situations which CCP/CSM cared about (e.g. large fleet comps of T3Cs, solo/small fleet situations for jams) when discussing how these ships should be balanced (PS: to give credit to where its due, some CSM members did actually propose jamming changes should include a special case exclusion for fighters).

1.3. Citadels:

Citadels are designed non-holistically to directly cater for sov null and have been extremely suboptimal with respect to the flow of content in FW and wormholes. I won’t repeat all the arguments here as they are widely accepted.

1.4. The Takeaway/Suggestion: Special Case Rules Are Actually Good

There is a prejudice against such rules on CCP/CSM level. Perhaps it’s because of the complexity it brings to the casual player (or even vets). The thing is, there are already such rules. In wormholes there is no asset safety. Almost nobody kills a citadel in wormhole yet is surprised by all the assets dropping. HICs can go into small wormholes. Even if that might create a surprise in the new player, it’s not a huge deal for him to learn it. People do learn about special case rules and adapt to them.

This repulsion from special case rules is almost irrational given the benefits of having your cake and eating it too. Make jams still work vs. fighters. Don’t touch covert T3Cs even when nerfing their uses large fleet compositions. Citadel mechanics should be specialized to wormholes, hisec, nullsec and FW. If CCP/CSM is to pay due respect to the complexity of all emergent and valuable gameplays in Eve, one very legitimate way to non-intrusively get things better is special case rules.

2. Balances to ISKMaking Activities

To assess a method of ISKmaking, people care about different variables (isk/hour/account, AFK friendliness, investment, risk, etc.). But these assessments are always relative. If there is a better way to earn your ISK elsewhere, statistically speaking, people will go do that activity instead. So if you “fix” one ISKmaking method in one domain, without caring about the overall balance, acting like it is an isolated domain, you are effectively making decisions which will determine the next meta. It will drive people to or away from different playstyles. If you do these decisions badly, then you will kill the much-valuable variety and richness in the game. Below are some concrete examples of this phenomenon.

2.1 Moon Goo + Rorquals + Fozzie Anoms + SP Changes:

I can’t even talk about these changes one by one due to how interrelated they are.

When making moon goo changes, CCP/CSM was talking about how much of a content-deny offline ISKmaking was. When Rorquals were being introduced, CCP/CSM anticipated how much extra content people would be getting. When Fozzie Anoms were introduced, CCP/CSM talked about how it will help the little guy to carve his space in nullsec by shrinking mega empires. When SP changes were introduced, we were being told how someone could merely buy the character from the bazaar and it is the same thing. All these arguments sounded good. Except they weren’t holistically thought. They didn’t take interactions of all these domains with others into account. And the results were the opposite of what was intended.

With all those changes holistically combined, they overvalidated the vertical farming playstyle. In contrast, the playstyle of selectively recruiting skilled PvP-oriented players was invalidated. Moon goo is directly taken away from them. Rental income is invalidated because with Fozzie anomalies the rental model is now outdated. They can’t even operate supercap trade hubs because they’ll get curbstomped. If you don’t want your Keepstars at the mercy of Goons, the only legitimate empire model that is left is their vertical farming. So if you don’t want to play together with any mouthbreathing miner you can get, constantly providing safe crabbing spaces for them, you are already out of luck.

But even if you wanted the Goon model that’s not accessible to alliances with smaller capital umbrellas. So instead, every one of those join their ranks. At this point it is highly unlikely for an alliance to duplicate the Goon model. Because they’ll be Goons’ first target. That’s what happened with GOTG. That will happen if another rival intends to replicate the model. I expect Aryth and Goon leadership turn on TEST once they run out of all other content and much needed enemies, as TEST is the most successful competitor in the vertical farming model thanks to their blue status. When all non-blue Keepstars are dead, Goons will realize they can’t play Ultra Safe Capital PvE Online.

So what kind of results did these changes achieve? They pushed 1/2 of all economic activity, 1/3 of all PvE capitals, and 1/5 of all nullsec characters crammed in the same region. And these accounts their activities under immense safety provided by an uncontestable supercap umbrella. Small alliances can’t meaningfully exist on their own but have to join mega blobs. And they extinguished several valuable playstyles, which is one of the prime causes why the amount of real people playing Eve is much lower now (even compared to the decline in subs from 500k to 300k since 2013). There barely is any solo blopsing anymore. Almost nobody rolls high class wormholes for content. Even wars are reduced to the bashing of a few structures. Selective recruiting is dead. Many others I forgot to list there. All these were actually valuable playstyles which kept people playing.

And there is actually less content due to the umbrella mechanics. Having almost ½ of all farm done, Delve loses only about %3-4 of that value as content. In comparison, this ratio is about %25 in regions like Malpais. %15 in Fountain and Querious. %14 in Esoteria. %13 in Vale. You might see numerically more PvE supers and Rorquals dying. But the fact is a lesser amount of nullsec farm converts to content now thanks to extensive use of umbrellas.

So we have strayed so far away from the initial goals of all those singular changes. We don’t have less blobbing but more. We don’t have more content but less. We don’t have more variation of playstyles but less. That’s because CCP/CSM discussed all these changes in isolation with each other, and didn’t try sufficiently to predict their overall interactional results.

2.2. Wormholes ISKmaking

Wormholers wonder why wormholes are stale. Escalation balance pass was another domain which CCP/CSM had all the good arguments about how OP it was in isolation. But now the vertical farming model is relatively so superior, most wormholers do their PvE in nullsec. My wormholer buddies have Delve Rorqual alts. Others rent systems in null. People like HK/Lazers had to carve their nullsec sov. All these people, who would otherwise become clusters of content in wormholes, are gone to nullsec because the superiority of the AFK ultra safe farm from Rorquals model. So the staleness in wormholes is never only a wormholes problem. It is a holistic problem about interrelations between all spaces.

2.3. FW Missions

So now the same arguments are being made about FW missions. How mission runners devalue LP and the only thing they care about is farm. That’s entirely true in isolation. It just ignores how this too is an alternative way to vertical farming. Once you kill FW missions, you’ll force these farmers into null as well.

2.4. The Takeaway/Suggestion: Balance All ISKmaking Methods Holistically with Respect To Each Other

The takeaway is that CCP/CSM should never talk about one way of moneymaking in isolation from others. CCP shouldn’t discuss FW missions only in a session regarding FW, or WH escalations in a session regarding wormholes. They should also have categories such as ISKmaking and compare overall viability of each common ways of moneymaking with respect to the other, and consider a balance between them. Further examples of such categories should include “ecosystem” (how much content people are getting, how to keep them playing the game, and what can be done to drive further content).

And finally, for the love of God it is time to do something about vertical farming. If it keeps its privileged lucrativeness over other playstyles for 2 more years, this game will be too far gone. 1/5 of all accounts and ½ of all farming moving into a single nullsec region is already horrible for the Eve’s ecosystem in many ways I can’t cover here. In CSM minutes people are talking about Rorqual safety. Statistically, Rorquals are safe only because of vertical farming. And no, you won’t fix it with PANIC module reduction. There is no reason for PANIC to be that long, but the reduction won’t change much. If you want to fix Rorqual safety or vertical farming, you’ll need input from people who actually hunt them on a daily basis. Not empire builders. You’ll need to talk to Penifsmash, or whoever FCs NC whaling fleets, or Outlaws, or Bombers Bar FCs, or other wormholer whalers who roam null UNDER capital umbrellas that they can’t contest/intimidate. And then you’ll need to do something about supercaps as well. A good start is rethinking cyno inhibition. The reduction to 1 minute will only marginally help.

“Frequent but small changes” philosophy can still be maintained for isolated domains. For interrelated domains, small changes can still come one after another. But they need to be planned and discussed holistically. And special case rules should be used to preserve valuable and non-harmful playstyles.

TLDR: The Title.

(Al Nomadi) #2

If, and I stress that ‘if’, anyone will read this wall of text (which will mean certain level of autismus or game taken too seriously) he will find out, that OP desire CCP and CSM to achieve impossible task : to make everyone and his grandma happy.

(Fluffy Moe) #3


you know a lot about it, that means you read it right ?


(bigsteve) #5

Allsounds like goon bashing to me,
Must of been a recent victim of a campaign.

(Nicolai Serkanner) #6

What a surprise. It is still the same rubbish as the Reddit topic.

(Neuntausend) #7

I think that planning things through to the end may not be possible with a game as complex as Eve. I believe frequent small balance passes are the right approach to this problem, as they allow CCP to see how a change actually plays out before they make further adjustments. Of course, they could try and calculate everything through before making a change. But the problem with that is, that it will likely not turn out the way they planned, regardless of how much time they spent theorycrafting.

This method of making small balance passes however has a downside: It does not work if the devs constantly get distracted by a new SKIN or a new event or pretty butterflies or a new feature that nobody asked for and forget right away that there was something they wanted to keep an eye on and make further adjustments to.

With this approach, they can’t just change something and then rebalance everything else for a year or two before coming back to it.

I doubt, but also hope that they will keep track of the ECM situation as well as the Wormholers, and deploy fixes as required during the next couple of weeks.

(Sugar Smacks) #8

I just have to say I started laughing when I read that CCP finally realized that wars are having a problem with new player retention. Also that they are a very apparent factor to people logging off and not logging back on.

I am like REALLY CCP? You just figured this out?

Did you ever bother looking before now? Or is player retention only important when you start running out of players?

(NotTheSmartestCookie) #9

Best thing that ever happened for the game. The game now depends on logging in and motivating people to show up for a fight rather than having the biggest rental/botting empire.
What you call “elite PvPers” is just a bunch of extremely risk adverse players that have forgotten the adrenaline rush of a decent fight. It is beautiful to see how they are withdrawing their supers from the danger zone. With the ECM changes the Widow is no longer the “avoid all risk for free” solution.

There is still a lot of stuff that CCP gets wrong, and their execution is horrible, but moving to farms & fields is a huge success content-wise. Adapt or die.

(Ncc 1709) #10

how is roaming 70 jumps of empty space to be blobbed by an umbrella content?

you want content, you end arranging things with people, or you head to places you know wont blob the crap out of you, or will fight irregardless of the outcome, which is harder and harder to find.

2 year ago, i could sit in a system, and get more kills with other people roaming around into me than a roam going out could get.

today, either get blobbed by super ganks, or nothing for days. there is very little middle ground, and it keeps getting smaller. cloaky camper’s just exaggerate the issue. they cause people to log off. which means less targets in space meaning less content. you go through a camped region and you might catch a carrier or a vni.
find an active region that isnt, and every system will have ratters and miners available to pick on, which will usually escalate into a good fight.

(Mina Sebiestar) #11

You want to CCP do what against nullsec?
You must be new here.
CSM should be dropped like a waste of time and space they are.

(Fluffy Moe) #12

Yea, its a lot of stuff actually like that. I was reading that CSM minutes thing and what was said actually made sense but there is one thing I did not agree with CCP upon. But that is just one issue, rest of it seemed legit.

Now what they finally admit and what they know, doesn’t mean they will be willing to do what is needed to correct the situation, primarily, because they fear offending Goons. I have a distinct feeling the more documents like that I see, the bigger that impression becomes. So rest of us get screwed and the whole game becomes worse off because of it.

There are some things I particularly liked, liek what they said about the Abyss and lowering the entry ceiling for T4s and T5s for example and I do like the upcoming patch that will increase the building material drops. As one of the people that actually farmed them and built my own stuff and tried to sell and make a bit of ISK on it, I am very aware of the issues brought up. In addition I not only build the stuff for sale but also for personal use. So I am extremely keenly aware of teh costs and surrounding issues.

(NotTheSmartestCookie) #13

There just have been two enormous wars, and various other conflicts are brewing. I can understand if you don’t like that play style, but in that case, don’t hide in the biggest blue blob in the game. Try for something more daring than roaming empty rental regions for ratters and miners.

(Sugar Smacks) #14

I would for one appreciate CCP finally coming out and admitting the mechanics that everyone claims they wanted or especially the vast peer pressure they have collapsed to under previous ownership, have had a notoriously horrible impact on player retention.

Furthermore, this policy of appeasing the ruling playerbase, or appeasing the angry players about changing game mechanics to “preserve EvEs atmosphere” so they can have easy targets is not only detrimental to the bottom line of EvE Online, but especially detrimental on the retention of new players.

I personally cant believe it took this ■■■■■■■ long for CCP to grow common sense about this subject and do a formal study about something so debated, and to find out the numbers are so ■■■■■■■ bad they don’t even want to release them.

I always hear people try to compare EvE Online to old Ultima Online, before the introduction of Trammel. Hey, have you heard how many players were simply run off before that and told to harden the ■■■■ up? Or how about people that would just constantly harass you until you quit because it made them feel better. Think that improved Ultima Online? Think that grew the game and made the publisher more money?
Holy ■■■■ your just realizing this?

Please insert house fire meme with man saying “everythings fine”.

(Neuntausend) #15

Yes. There were ragequitters, that just would have needed to HTFU like there are in this game as well.

It’s debatable if that’s what happened and if that’s why they did it. But yes - there were carebears that could not take a beating.

Considering that UO is pretty much dead, and the only people that really remember it seem to be the ones who played it pre-rennaissance - yes. What’s your point?

(Sugar Smacks) #16

There is no argument anymore, it is proven by their own studies that hisec war decs are horrible on new player retention.

Honestly I don’t know who made a mechanic that the logical way to counter it is to “not log in”, but if they aren’t gone by now, it should be seriously reconsidered.

(Ima Wreckyou) #17


(NotTheSmartestCookie) #18

“Grr Goons. My elite alliance/coalition just got its sh*t pushed in by a couple of noob alliances and it is not fair.”

(Whitehound) #19

He disagrees with many changes and believes there is one, single method to fix it all. His solution: make better changes.

(Neuntausend) #20

Highsec Wardecs are ridiculously broken in all sorts of ways, yes. And they are a very good example for this topic: CCP removed the watchlist for reasons that had nothing to do with highsec wardecs, and thereby broke them even more than they already were. In my opinion, this would have been fine, had they monitored the situation and kept tweaking. Yet, they didn’t do that. They pretty much started noticing that they accidentally broke something some 2 years after it had happened, and they have to this day not done anything about it.

I do not think they could possibly have foreseen every consequence of removing the watchlist, but they should have assumed that it will have consequences besides their expectations, and they should have been looking out for those.

By the way - could you link that study? I’d like to have a look at that. I missed a couple of things in the past few years.

(Sugar Smacks) #21

I don’t think the watchlist aka “stalker list”, is what broke hisec wars.

Hisec wars have always been broken due to several factors including but not limited too.

  1. corporations looking to pad killboards or simply trying to achieve the easiest kills possible easpecially targeting new players with any form of structures.
  2. a) a dumb mechanic of advertising existing wars, thereby creating a pile on effect to say hey look I found an easy kill, and therefore multiple corporations all piling on the same target.
    b) the also very public killboards that further create the piling on effect because If its easy to find an easy target, well that’s what everyone is all about.
    c) the further ridiculous notion of showing everyones corporation history to everyone so finding an easy target is just one step above stupidity.
  3. CCP in general removing all the good loot possibilities from any corp with an IQ of stupidity.

And that’s just the obvious ones.