Revamping and Revitalizing Drone Ships and Combat

I’ve been working with drones a lot, flying ships that use drones as a primary or supplemental source of damage. I’m also old, and the systems for drones are largely the same as when I started this game - simple but one-note, requiring absolute minimum input, and sometimes, giving far more than is warranted for such little effort.

Drones have always been an interesting subject for me, because I love the idea of controlling lots of little worker bees like an RTS game. The power fantasy of being a carrier pilot still appeals to me, but drones are in such a weird place in EVE right now. I think it’s time they got a bit of a touchup, and here is my suggestion.

Drone Control Interface
A new high slot module. Can only be fit to certain ships.
Only one may be fitted per ship.
The Drone Control Interface requires training in Drones. The tech 2 version requires Drones V.
While active, this module works similarly to Bastion Modules, Industrial Cores, and other mode-switching features on ships. Your ship’s velocity and agility are reduced. Your ship’s other weapon systems either cannot be activated or are significantly reduced in effectiveness. Your ship’s drones receive bonuses to their speed, tracking, hit points, and damage, and you can control drones from much farther (effectively eliminating passive drone link augmentors and changing how passive drone modules work). While active, your drones have reduced priority from NPC enemies and they take reduced damage from AOE affects such as smartbombs.

All ships designated Drone Ships can fit a DCI. All other ships cannot, and any ship that is not a “Drone Ship” has their Drone Bay reduced to 25 m3 total. This allows for utility drones like salvagers, miners, EW, and light logi drones to be used by any ship. However, combat drones and new support-type drones are solely the territory of Drone Ships that can fit the Drone Control Interface, alongside other modules.

Drone Flights and Controls
No more passive drones. Drones cannot be set to auto-engage, will not switch targets automatically, and must be commanded to target enemies like any other weapon system.

In order to provide a slight education curve from Drone Ships to Carriers, Drones will now be assigned to “Drone Flights.” These are essentially drone groups that you can assign to hotkeys such as 1, 2, and 3, and issue individual orders to. Selecting your ship’s capacitor allows you to control your ship, selecting the Drone Flight on the UI or pressing your hotkeys allows you to select that group. This is important because…

More Than 5 Drones
Through the use of other modules, likely high slot modules that require an active Drone Control Interface (similar to compressors and an Industrial Core), players may be able to control more than 5 drones. Perhaps the Drone Control Interface allows +1 active combat drone per level of Drones, but each “Drone Flight” can only have 5 drones in it at once. This means that you could have a flight of lights and a flight of mediums. Support drones may also go above the combat drone limit, but would require their own support module, as suggested in my next point.

New Drone Types
“Support Drones” could be singular drones that each require a module to be deployed, such as the aforementioned “Support Drone Controller.” They could vary in type and function, such as a support drone that pulses shield restoration to your other drones (not ships) in space, or perhaps target paints a specific target to provide bonuses. Only one of these drones could be deployed per “Controller” fit, but they could be deployed in addition to combat drones, meaning you could control more than 5 total drones at once.

Other New Drone-Specific Modules
Other new modules could include something like the Support Drone Controller which allows you to launch 1 additional drone in the “support” category. You could update Drone Navigation Links and make it so that tracking computers or other modifiers are now Drone-specific bonuses, preventing people from doubling up on benefits for drones and turrets. These modules can only be activated if there is an active Drone Control Interface.

New Hull Bonuses
It could be possible to keep hull bonuses relatively the same or adjust as necessary. However, it may be preferable to move hard bonuses like “50% drone hit points and damage” off of hulls and instead put them onto the Drone Control Interface, or new modules entirely. It would likely be better to encourage what types of drones a specific ship can fly - light, medium, heavy, sentry, logi, etc. - by manipulating these bonuses on the hull.

New Fitting Options
With the changes proposed above, all sorts of new modules specific to drones and Drone Ships would be available. This shakes up the meta for Drone Boats themselves a bit - perhaps target painting could also be more beneficial to drones, encouraging them to be used as more than aggro management? Maybe the fitting requirements for drone-boosting modules requires sacrificing speed or a tank, so that these ships are vulnerable once you get past their web of drones or allies?

Won’t This Just Cause More AFK Ishtars?
Before you come in here talking about the “AFK Botters” problem, consider this: AFK Botters will always find new ways to AFK bot. CCP taking away interesting player options and interactivity because “botters will use this” only hurts we who actively play the game. Also, people still AFK rat in Ishtars, maybe if we made drone gameplay more interactive it would require them to be at their computers.

Also. All drones should be normalized, except for damage types and base hull values. All drones should have the same speed, tracking, and damage multiplier at each tech level, with the potential that all faction drones might have more HP, ‘augmented’ drones do more damage, and tech 2 drones have higher stats overall, or whatever - but the only difference between Amarr, Minmatar, Caldari, and Galente drones should now be the type of damage they deal.

Anyway. This essay brought to you by a supremely tired drone lover who wants drones to be actually kinda cool.


no ! drone ships are fine and strong as they are ! they dont need any changes !

btw … way to much text ! maybe a tl:dr would be good !

I’d also add:

  1. Fixing AI behaviour of drones when main ship is already aggressed by NPC, the deployed drones won’t fight back unless directly commanded to. Now they attack target only if deployed BEFORE NPC agression.

  2. Fixing AI behaviour of drones when they don’t focus fire even if the checkbox is ticked (FOCUS FIRE)

  3. REMOVE abundant knobs/ui elements which placed directly upon drone list and their HP bars. They are being pressed by accident just too much!

  4. Add more options to set attacking priorities for drones:

    • targets with smaller signature radius first
    • targets with bigger signature radius first
    • targets with higher speed first
    • targets with active ewar/tackle effects first
    • targets are drones first

the actual mechanic is good ! otherwise you could be more afk … and more afk is bad for game so no ! i would say, lets get rid of the aggressive mode that you need to attack with drones manual !

or you use them manualy and you never have split aggro from your drones ! simply no …

i never hit any of these buttons but yes, if your window is small then some buttons overlapping your drone HP !

btw … if you use your drone window to agress and recall then youre doing it wrong ! use hotkeys and your way faster, way better and way happier !

or just dont add all this afk modifiers ! play active and you can choose your targets as you want !

as i said, drones are fine !

For the brainstorm of ‘could we add more to drones?’

Sure, let’s put it on the table and see what comes up.

Add, the Tractor drone that was mentioned in another thread.

I like the drone window interface concept… but it could be tweaked.
I wish EWar drones actually had a little bite to them.
Since we all have powerful computers now, with more than windows 7, maybe looking at adding more drones is an option… 6? 10?.. even more…?
I down vote the ‘normalize’ drones… I think even more differences.

Drone warfare is a hot topic in military circles currently. Maybe, we should game some of those use.

Especially with Vanguard due to release shortly.

I have considered “this” and came to the conclusion that your idea would simply lead to even more afk drone boat botters.

Drones as a weapon system are balanced completely okay, some even say they still are too strong (T2 drones are not allowed in the Alliance Tournament for a reason). No changes to the game should be made that allow a higher performance of droneboats unless drone auto-aggro is disabled at the same time (means: the owner needs to send them manually to their next target, just like he would have to activate a gun or missile launcher).

You can just stop commenting on my posts if you’re not going to engage in good faith. I get it, you hate drones, you have nothing to add.

I would love to have more options for drones. People talk about “drone control” but the only options we have are “deployed,” “in the bay,” “idle,” “attacking.” Imagine if you could actually set your drones to “Orbit at 5km and engage any target that gets within.” Maybe you could set target prios like you suggest, with small-to-large or what-have-you. I think using control groups would help, too, so splitting your drones is user-friendly and viable.

So, while I don’t disagree that more variety is good, I think the problem we run into is that giving drones different tracking speeds, movement speeds, and damage types all at once means there’s absolutely one, single, optimal drone to use in every situation. Warriors are PVP drones. Hobgoblins are PVE drones. Acolytes are for the EM hole rats. Unless we want to make Drone Ships have large enough bays to carry every drone for every situation, it would be better in my mind to allow the ship to customize its modifiers (such as tracking speed, etc.) and have the combat drones just be damage types, like ammo.

That said, more kinds of drones to do more interesting things would be great.

Sure, let’s do it. No more auto-attack, no more autonomous drone AI. Change it to an active system with control groups, modules, and things you have to actually be there to do, like a carrier does. AFK botting completely solved, call the press.

youre ideas will lead to drone botting ! so its stupid ! and drone botting is ■■■■ !

more options ? this whole idea brings only major improvement to botting !

thats pure ■■■■■■■■ xD there are no difference for PvE or PvP ! you using the drones that fit the most for your usage !
have you be an active member to any drone ship fleets ? ishtar or gila fleets ? no ? i don wonder …

sure … why not improve all drone holds to 5000m³ that you can have all drones with you ? oO
thats pure idioticy ! you can choose your drone layout before you undock and if you know what youre ding then you can choose the best setup !

One of the issues is that in the war against AFK and bots they are making the game worse for actual players. So the intentions may be good but the results are not. Something to think about i guess.

I agree that drones aspect of the game need to be brought up to speed. Drones are kind of like an afterthought at the moment, particularly the UI.

I for one would love to see drones and drone groups able to be dragged and dropped to the hotbar and commanded to engage with F1 etc. And i would love for the game to play a warning sound when a drone first start taking damage + more

its only an issue for afk ppl and botter … its not a problem for the rest of eve xD

you can do pretty much the same by using hotkeys oO so why wanna have stuff adding to the game which are already implementet but th lazy ppl dont know about it Oo

that you can be more afk ? no … denied ! you have a drone window which shows you when your drones take damage ! and as an indicator you can see if the rats are only yellowboxing you !

you want to change things they are working pretty well only that you can continue and improve YOUR lazy gameplay …

Very interesting points

Please just ignore that person, they are basically just accusing people of being AFK botters for wanting more active drone mechanics that require you to be at your computer


proofe me wrong and bring valid reasons why CCP need to change drones that it can be more afk …
unles you dont proof a valid point then your just a lazy afk ishtar pilot or a botter ! nobody else would cry about this

What if you could assign a Hotkey to group’s’ of drones instead of just a favorite…? Something like F1 = Lt Drones, F2 Mediums, F3 Sentries, … or maybe an individual drone to a hot key…?

I am deaf, so SFX…? meh! but maybe it could flash my keyboard…?

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yeah this would be a QoL improvement … nothing we realy need but it could be a nice to have ! would like to see this !
btw … you can have a hotkey to launch your drones ! i never did this because if i have more then one drone group i dont know which drones the hotkey would launch ( maybe you can set 1 launch group ? ) and its easy to pull them out with your drone window.
everything else like start agressing, come back and come back to drone bay you can easy set with a hotkey !

only as an opt in function … i wouldnt like any flash …

you set a favorite group. That is who the launch keys work for. Once in space those keys are for any drones.

nice, already lerned something new :wink:

but still wont use is because its to simple to use your drone window.

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