Interceptors and Upwell Structures: Reintroduce opportunities for pilot error

Dear CCP:

As a fairly long term EVE player, it’s immensely frustrating how difficult you’ve made non-consensual PvP through your ship and structure changes. There are two serious pain-points right now that I’d love for you to address in a future patch:

  • Upwell Structure Placement
  • Nullified interceptors (really, any ship that combines nullification with a sub-tick align time)

INTERCEPTORS

I’m frankly shocked that we still have nullified interceptors in EVE in 2020. You guys officially announced a “data gathering” balance pass in 2017 where you stripped nullification from the DPS interceptors (https://www.eveonline.com/article/pf7gpi/october-balance-pass) to see if it would affect their utilization. That change immediately saw the prices of ships like Claws plummet to ~30% of their pre-patch value, and right now it feels like combat interceptors are a rarer sight in the wild than titans. Is the playerbase’s wholesale switch to the remaining “fleet” interceptors and their absolute ubiquity in space not evidence enough that it was the overpowered nullification attribute drawing people to inties rather than any other factor? Clearly these ships need a nerf-- either their align time needs to exceed 2 seconds so they can be locked by specialized ships, or they need to be vulnerable to bubbles: pick one.

EVE was much more balanced when covops and bombers were the scouting / travel ships of choice: at least it was possible (if difficult) to catch these ships some of the time with a skilled decloaker. The only way to kill a travel-ceptor is to pile half a billion ISK worth of smartbombing BS on a gate AND to hope the inty pilot is too lazy to bounce off another celestial or use a bookmark instead of warping directly between gates. If an inty pilot puts even the slightest bit of effort into what they’re doing, they are essentially impossible to destroy. Interceptors’ scouting ability is way overpowered (they essentially make it impossible to deny the enemy intelligence), as is the way they enable even the criminally-lazy to travel safely with zero effort. Their omnipresence in space is also oppressive to people who want to field larger ships, as anyone trying to use hit-and-run tactics in cruisers or larger quickly finds themselves swarmed by hordes of tiny tackling ships that they can’t hit, can’t outrun, and which can’t be screened away by bubbles.

UPWELL STRUCTURE PLACEMENT

Upwell structures need more restrictions on where they can be anchored. The ubiquity of these structures is straight-up toxic, as it has almost eliminated the need for prudence on the part of traveling pilots. Specifically, allowing the placement of structures on-grid with stargates is hugely frustrating:

  • By offering tethers, a gate-adjacent Upwell structure allows any ship to effectively scout gates and jump-bridges where an actual scouting-fit ship with a cloak would’ve been used previously.
  • Upwell structure spam on every gate multiplies exponentially the number of places any player can ping off of while traveling, essentially removing the value of tactical bookmarks and proper preparation for the defender and making it functionally-impractical and/or prohibitively expensive for interdictors or anchorable bubbles to be used to blockade gates (if you want to catch a traveler warping across a system, you now have a huge number of objects that need to be bubbled in order to catch them-- ieven if they have no bookmarks).
  • The ability to place Ansiblex gates on grid with both Upwell tether structures and stargates further compounds these issues, reducing the number of potential choke-points for interdiction to a single place-- the stargate.

For example, lets look at a typical travel scenario from pre-Upwell EVE and today’s game: I am a player trying to move from my alliance’s staging system to a nearby ratting pocket. Because the alliance has already installed an Ansiblex to a strategically-relevant system in our staging system, I need to first travel to an adjacent star system by gate, and then take a bridge to the ratting area.

First of all, if I have any sense, I’m just going to leave my fleet ships in the stager and a ratting ship in my ratting system and commute between the two in a travelceptor, thus eliminating travel risk entirely. But let’s assume for argument’s sake that I’m being intentionally-thick and choose to travel in something that isn’t a travel gimmick fit.

Old EVE: undock from traditional station --> warp to stargate on a different grid --> jump --> warp from stargate to jump bridge on a different grid --> take jump bridge.

In the old game, I was exposed through basically every step of this process. When I undock, I have a brief invuln timer after which I am vulnerable to attack. When I warp from the station to the stargate that’s located on a different grid, there’s an opportunity for an enterprising player with an anchorable bubble or interdictor to pull me off the gate and tackle me if I don’t use my d-scanner to scout. Assuming I make it to the stargate, there’s a chance to be engaged on the other side of the gate. If I manage to evade hostiles on that stargate, there’s another opportunity for me to be drag-bubbled when I warp from the stargate to the jump bridge if I don’t d-scan.

Compare this scenario to it’s present-day equivalent: undock from Upwell structure --> warp to stargate on same grid --> jump --> warp to Ansiblex gate on same grid.

In 2020, I am invulnerable indefinitely upon undocking thanks to tether (can’t even be be booshed off). Because Upwell structures can be anchored anywhere, I’m already on-grid with my destination stargate, which means if there are enemy players (or even a seemingly un-attended drag bubble with no hostiles in local), I can immediately see it and know that I shouldn’t warp to that gate. Unless I am blind or my overview is mis-configured, there is no opportunity for hostile players to drag bubble me. Assuming the gate is clear and I warp to the stargate and jump, hostile players now have one chance to catch me unawares with a gatecamp at zero on the other side of the gate. Again, as soon as I jump through the stargate I can physically see my next destination (the Ansiblex) which is located a few thousand km away on the same grid-- no opportunity for hostiles to catch me en-route to the Ansiblex. If I see hostile players or a bubble, I just don’t warp there.

The lack of restrictions on Upwell structure placement has created a scenario where only the most flagrantly ignorant or lazy pilot will ever be caught unawares while traveling. Upwell spam devalues player knowledge, skill and discipline by holding people’s hands and making it as difficult as possible for them to make a mistake: structure spam means they don’t need to bounce celestials or make bookmarks; co-location of structures means they don’t need to make use of d-scan, and tethers and structure weaponry make camping the station-ends of travel routes practically impossible. Like I said before: you’d have to be completely ignorant of all game mechanics, blind, or have some kind of bizarre overview loaded in order to have any chance of being caught by anything but a large, well-equipped enemy gatecamp positioned at zero on a stargate. Even if they camp the gate itself, unless hostiles are fielding an interdictor, specialized insta-locking scram and web ships, and ample DPS, odds are good that a player under attack at the one remaining ambush opportunity (jumping through the stargate) can simply burn back to the gate and jump out.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

TL;DR: as someone who has spent many years trying to fight the good fight in small teams against enemy groups with vastly superior numbers, the game has become depressingly oppressive. Any area of strategic importance that has been properly spammed with Upwell structures is almost impossible to harass effectively. It’s frankly offensive the amount of time, effort, and ISK that need to be invested in order to stand even a chance of killing things these days. I remember days when I’d be able to set up sneaky drag locations or even camp gates effectively using only my own characters. These days ambush opportunities are almost non-existent, and between forcing all interdiction attempts onto stargates and the ship meta’s heavy emphasis on flying small, fast ships, it’s become almost impossible to run a functional gatecamp with less than ten people due to the large number of specialized tackling ships and tremendous DPS required to prevent targets from simply re-approaching the gate.

I, for one, would like to see the game go back to a place where player skills and knowledge are actually rewarded instead of relying on dumbed-down game mechanics that make it almost impossible for players to make mistakes. It used to be the case that a well-prepared player with knowledge of game mechanics, a good collection of tactical bookmarks, and the prudence / patience to make use of them would be able to successfully navigate nullsec, while the unprepared or imprudent would find their corpses floating in space in short order. I remember scouting, moving slowly from system to system, making bookmarks, occasionally having to do things like intentionally deplete my ship’s capacitor so that I could warp towards a possibly-bubbled stargate but land a few AU short in order to do a d-scan. I remember both the cheek-clenching evasive maneuvering of running a bubble camp in a covops, and the triumphant feeling of successfully decloaking those scouts as a dictor pilot. These days, none of this applies. You can hand a one-day-old newbie a skill injector and a Stiletto and just tell the to free-burn to wherever and they’ll make it. Space is full of structures you can’t fight near, endless grids that can accommodate an alliance’s worth of infrastructure with every structure in-sight from one another, stargates you can’t stop people reapproaching, and jump bridges that are physically too large to be camped. It’s all fairly depressing.

SUGGESTIONS

I don’t have too much to say here since game design is your job, not mine, but we’re supposed to be constructive with our feedback, so here it goes:

  • Remove nullification from interceptors, and from all other ships that can be configured for a sub-2-second align time OR decrease the agility of all nullified ships so they cannot be fit for sub-2-second align times. I’m of the opinion that no ship in the game should be capable of the kind of zero-effort travel configurations that inties have right now, but if you absolutely insist on giving that capability to some ship type to allow people to travel with impunity, assign that role to shuttles so there’s no combat ability.

  • Restrict the placement of Upwell structures. Personally I’d probably opt to restrict Athanors and Tataras to moon grids, and the rest of the station-type structures to planet grids, with a limit of one station-type structure per celestial. You could also do it on a less-restrictive basis, allowing people to put structures anywhere they want within some limitations like: minimum distance between station-type structures or between station-like structures and stargates / Ansiblex gates ~insert some distance in KM or AU that ensures structures are not co-located on one grid~.

Anyway, just a thought from a bittervet. I really hope you’ll consider some kind of changes in this direction.

Why not make interceptors lose nullification if any offensive modules are fitted instead? That way, people can still haul billions around in their ceptors. Otherwise, you’re looking at the death of interceptors as a ship class

I know many pilots who no longer subscribe to Eve as a result of these changes.

It isn’t some huge number that would increase the stonks of CCP over night, but i feel like we were all removed from the game overnight, never to return.

I miss camping gates with those friends. :frowning:

Make cloaky camping great again! It doesnt have to be a roll back to what it once was, but a little consideration to our meta would be nice going forward.

Not everything has to be some huge FORBES ARTICLE WORTHY SPACE BATTLE!!11 and eve shouldn’t be homogenized into only producing that sort of content.

1 Like

Also, a lot of citadels can easily be cleared from gates in a 15 min bash now. Why shouldn’t gatecampers have to put in a little effort to have a gatecamp set up? Fueled gate structures are usually only in in big bloc territory, and even before citadels they had alliance pings set up

First of all, gatecamping in 2020 already ~is~ a lot of effort in and of itself. I used to gatecamp with only an interdictor, or sometimes even with just a cruiser. People used to fly-- on average-- much bigger, slower ships. There were times I’d just have a Cynabal parked on a gate, someone would come through in a cruiser or battlecruiser, and I’d be pointing them with a warp disruptor (can you imagine even locking a ship before it warps these days while flying a cruiser?) and physically bumping their ship to prevent them re-approaching the gate, and it was actually somewhat viable.

Those days are long gone. Today, the only things coming through gates that are slow enough to engage that way are bait. If you see a Gnosis, or a Dominix, or whatever, there’s like a 98% chance it’s there to bait for a gang of assault frigates and interceptors. The things people actually fly are travelceptors (seems like about 80-90% of gate traffic) and other small, fast ships: assault frigates, EAFs, navy frigate hulls, T3 destroyers, Kikimoras, and cloaky stuff (bombers, Asteros, covert+nullified T3 cruisers) etc. These kinds of targets require a large gang to kill simply because there are so many specialist roles that need to overlap to net a kill: you need a dictor to prevent an initial warp or cancel warp (for covert targets). You need instalocking long points, scrams, and webs to prevent people from burning away or burning back to gate. So you need at least a Daredevil, interceptor, and at least one remote sensorboosting alt. And even with all this tackle, if someone decides to crash the gate you still only get a few seconds in which to kill them, which means you need several people in specialized, fast-locking DPS ships as well (you can’t bring one, big DPS ship because they lock too slowly and large weapons don’t hit today’s small targets-- this means you need multiple, smaller ship for DPS).

The reality is this: I’m on gatecamps all the time where we’ll have as many as fifteen people on one gate, and while we are usually able to kill most non-interceptors, it’s often with absolutely zero time to spare. We’ll have a Stiletto, Daredevil, RSB alts, one or two dictors, and a bunch of guys in cruiser-sized DPS ships, and we’re still ending up with wrecks that are like 3km from the stargate. If any part of this equation is missing (fewer DPS ships, no Daredevil, etc) you’re missing kills constantly.

Most citadels cannot be removed from gates by a small gang. Maybe in some backwater area, but certainly not anywhere owned by any kind of relevant alliance. Anywhere strategically relevant, it’s going to be Fortizars or Keepstars that are on grid with these stargates and jump bridges: I defy you to do anything about those with a small gang. I’m also not advocating for a structure or sov system that lets small gangs destroy structures easily-- that is what strategic fleets are for, and no defender should be forced to tolerate a system where a few random attackers in cruisers can roll around blapping major structures.

Alliance bookmarks, while frustrating, could be mitigated somewhat by bringing a prober along: sit there with probes out for a day collecting hostile perches and soon you’d have most of their bookmarks. At minimum it let you fling tacklers on top of bigger targets in real-time. By contrast, Upwell structures are absolute cancer: there can be multiple structures on each gate. If you anchor bubbles off all of them, people will just roll a 50-man gang through and kill all the bubbles. If you want to actively bubble them, you now need another dedicated interdictor pilot assigned to each one. If you don’t bubble them, anyone in literally any ship can just warp over and turn invincible indefinitely, allowing them to wait you out and provide real-time intel on what you’re doing to their friends. This was obviously possible in the past as well, but at least someone would need a scouting ship to do it or you’d need to be active-aligned and constantly paying attention ready to warp to a safespot. Now you can do it in anything just by sitting there. You can’t even be bumped off tether if you’re smart enough to drop a bookmark near the structure model and set your ship to approach it.

You seem to think harassing a numerically-superior group of hostiles is easy, but all I can say is go and try it. I think you’ll find it’s more than “a little effort.”

Like I said, I personally don’t see why there needs to be any ship in the game that lets you move around with complete impunity. Before nullification, people flew around with billions in interceptors, bombers, covops frigates, blockade runners, etc. There will always be people making questionable decisions. That said, if CCP are absolutely dead-set on keeping a “taxi” ship in the game, it really should be a ship with no combat utility. I say they just give that role to the humble shuttle if that’s the case.

Why exactly should it be easy? Will CCP cater to the 10000 subscribers in the megabloc, or the 30 people in the small gang trying to camp a gate?
Of course you should need to put in more effort to camp gates.
Abandoned astras can be taken out if you bring bashing battleships, it’s not like you’re not allowed to bring them.
Harassing large blocs SHOULD more difficult than taking out abandoned astras in null and camping some backwater gate nobody uses. You get more traffic, and as a result more kills, in large bloc space so therefore you need to put more effort into camping that system

The shuttle doesn’t have enough cargo space, or tank. Plus, when combat ceptors lost their nullification people stopped using them. If you also take it away from fleet ceptors, nobody will use those either.

Or a cloak?

So you basically want trillions of isk invested into fortifications useless against your smallgang worth under a billion?

Not true.




Your claim "at least it was possible (if difficult) to catch these ships also works for travel ceptors.

Oh, skill you say? The above ceptors were caught with skill. What you want are easy ways to lock down constellations and areas of space in order to make it as hard as possible to interfere with the activities there. If you insist on removing interdiction nullification from ceptors, I insist on the removal of supers and titans from EVE as they allow the low effort and relatively risk free maintenance of huge swaths of space.

Having a friend who happens to live on the right global network node to have a 10ms ping to Tranquility so they can ~sometimes~ catch travelceptors is not skill-- it’s luck at best and horrifically geographically-biased. We’ve all had that once a week thing where the planets are aligned funny and our friend from continental Europe is able to tackle a travelceptor, but you’ve got to admit its very much the exception, not the rule.

You’re preaching to the choir on supers and titans: they’re dumb and CCP have repeatedly failed to find a role for them that’s balanced. I also think jump freighters are bad game design.

  1. That’s exactly the point: interceptors are not primarily used for their intended role right now as evidenced by the fact that the interceptors that lost nullification were immediately discarded. Interceptors are supposed to be fast tacklers, not invulnerable cargo ships for moving your PLEX and titan BPO collection. You’re right: if CCP took nullification away from fleet interceptors, their utilization will go way down-- the only people using them will be people who need them as tackle ships, which is their intended role.

  2. Yes, I mean without citadel spam you’d need to fit a cloak or be active-aligned to scout. That is what I mean. Cloaking is what I mean by, “a scouting ship.” It means you intentionally fit a ship for intelligence gathering, rather than just showing up in whatever you brought and having the tether magically convert that ship into an invulnerable intelligence gathering tool.

  3. Fortifications should act as a force-multiplier for defenders when the time comes for strategic conflict. They should not be a magic button you can press to prevent harassment of your individual alliance members. By your logic I should just be able to spend ISK on an ihub upgrade that increases all friendly ships’ shield resistances to 100%. Nobody is saying a small gang should be able to directly attack fortifications: just that the presence of fortifications should not preclude attackers from blowing up people’s spaceships.

Your problem is not that non-consensual PvP is difficult, your problem is that you are using outdated methods in order to get fights. I used to enjoy the kind of solo camping that you described, but EvE has long since moved past that. The meta has evolved, solo PvP doesn’t work like it used to. It’s something I lament as well, but the solution isn’t to try to force the game back into your outdated style of play, it’s to adapt your style of play to keep pace with the game.

Having said that though, I do agree that the use of Upwell-Fu is a bit…oppressive. Having Upwell structures on-grid with a stargate/station does offer a whole slew of tactical benefits to those who can tether to the station. I think it might be worthwhile considering increasing the minimum distance between an Upwell structure and celestials, or at least stargates and stations.

I guess I should’ve been clearer: I’m not still trying to camp in a solo cruiser hull (it was just an example of how much the meta has changed in ten years), and we’ve absolutely found ways to keep killing things. I’m just saying that it’s not ideal the way CCP seem hellbent on reducing as much as possible the number of opportunities there are to kill stuff. Ship metas obviously shift around, but the taxiceptors and Upwell spam both seem like really blatant cases of poor game design or game design intended to hold people’s hands and keep them safe without demanding anything from the player. It doesn’t fit well with the premise of nullsec being a dangerous environment.

Not all ships have to be relatively prevalent across classes or even uniformly prevalent within the same class, but if non-nullified interceptors are outperformed by other ships at their intended function and/or their niche is too narrow to be as prevalent as they could be, their stats could be adjusted to make them more worthwhile. I do feel the gap offense/defense and even (especially?) tackle gap could be widened between the two subclasses so as to make the non-nullified hulls worth using even with the simultaneous existence of nullified hulls.

Serious question: does the ship HAVE to be caught? (esp. since they can’t light cynos)

What is wrong with the existence of a ship such that - outside of its intended optimal fit configuration - it can be fitted for fast/safe travel and be useless otherwise?

A determined enemy is always going to slip by, so this isn’t going to change much. When you operate on the assumption that the enemy knows everything you are doing and planning, it is a pleasant surprise when you find out they don’t.

Agreed

:thinking:

A travelceptor is paper thin and is at most equipped with a peashooter (though usually not even so as to not sacrifice tank), so I personally don’t see the need to create a separate class of ships when the existing class coincidentally serves both functions, though I’m not going to lie: the concept of a “T2 Shuttle” that is nullified is amusing and not implausible. Not only that, but it would make it easier to rebalance the interceptors if CCP knew they didn’t have to “ensure” half of the interceptors could double their roles.

Yesssss

The whole point is to be nullified and combative at the same time. It would be better to introduce a T2 shuttle series of ships than to introduce an arbitrary mechanism such as this. Arbitrary mechanics are a hard no.

:face_with_monocle:
I cannot comment for you specifically, but for the majority of players and in the majority of contexts, gate camping is “weak gameplay”, and is the kind of gameplay that should generally be discouraged via emergent behaviors stemming from high-level changes to the game. There are plenty of times where it’s meaningful and, more importantly, purposeful, but for most players and in most instances it is neither, and I don’t have much sympathy for them (not commenting on you specifically).

:point_up_2:

You’re automatically wrong for failing to start your thread with :red_circle:. But on a serious note: the exception doesn’t make the rule, so it’s not worth bringing up.