SIZE MATTERS: Bigger is not Better - for EVE

Started an opinion thread in General Disc, but then the ‘ideas’ generated while working on it seemed too long for GD so just thought I would post them here. Opinion thread:

Suggestions/ideas following from above (apologies for the extreme length, maybe I will break it up later or something):

Summarizing some key points from the Reddit thread, and my own responses:

Asher: “That gives us two goals: make owning the largest pile of supers less influential but keep the dream alive for players so that CCP’s bottom line isn’t greatly affected. As an aside I think a healthier overall game draws in new players and keeps old ones active and subbed so it’s a net benefit to make these kind of adjustments.”

Obviously, the goal would be to make overall combat more interesting and accessible, keep Caps+ as viable tools, but adjust them so they aren’t the only significant factor in Null. The only way to do that at this stage, IMO, is to use various tools to add the concept of “limited engagements with limited but worthwhile goals” to EVE. If implemented correctly it would mean you would have various mechanisms to deploy limited amounts of firepower in specific situations to achieve specific goals without being required to deal with “if we drop N, they’ll drop N+10, so we need to completely overwhelm anything they can drop or there’s no point”. N+1 kills most battles before they ever start because the organization, risk, cost, and TiDi/crash/length of the battle simply aren’t worth the goal that could be achieved.

Asher’s OP contained various suggestions, some good (Titans need to work differently so other ships are relevant), some bad (give Titans the ability to alpha volley structures into oblivion). More good than bad overall, but while they adjust the relative importance and functionality of various Caps+, they don’t actually change the N+1 meta very much.

One significant goal for any possible changes is that they would have to use systems close to what we already have in EVE. Anything radically new I honestly don’t have much confidence in CCP being able to implement. They should also give smaller, more nimble, more creative, more skilled, more geographically diverse groups at least a chance to effectively compete with the largest and most powerful blocs.

Tossing out some various ideas on mechanisms to create “limited engagements”. The concept of “worthwhile goals to achieve” with such engagements will be covered later or perhaps in another thread, but would be key to making the changes workable.

  • We have wormholes that limit both size and total mass of ships that can pass through. Objectives important to sovereignity/farming/null space could be accessed through wormhole-type entrances that allow multiple sides to jump a certain amount of forces in to lock down the objective. This would allow exclusion of some ship classes as well as a strategic choice of “Do I send 2 Titans, 3 supers and 100 subcaps, or send 1 Titan, 5 Supers and 10 Dreads?” (Masses, weapon systems and features would need to be adjusted/balanced in order to make such choices more impactful.)

  • We have deadspace gates that limit ship classes, so for instance it would be possible to set up objectives that limit the maximum size of ship allowed, or exclude specific classes (no FAX, etc.).

  • We have Abyssal space as a tool for setting up a combat zone that limits the number/type of participants, but also applies ‘battle conditions’ that alter the most appropriate ships for the job. Something that excludes DDs, or hampers fighter range, or affects targeting below a certain SIG size might be interesting.

Those are all ‘gateway’ methods of limiting the engagement. Additional possibilities would include altering combat mechanics as more ships are piled into a single engagement.

WARP SCATTER: It may be possible to implement a type of ‘warp scatter’ to an engagement, such that after one side warps X ships and/or X total mass into an engagment (ships on-grid), that subsequent warp-ins drop ships farther and farther from the warp point. (These are all new mechanics, not impossible but unsure if CCP has what they call ‘the technology’ and I call ‘3-5 competent programmers’ to implement it.) This would lead to varying situations where outlying ships could be picked off by hunter groups, or would be delayed reaching battle.

It could also involve having either side try to set up “warp focusers” (either ships or structures) on the battlefield that allow more or more accurate warp-ins. These in turn would become targets of the other force. It is possible that the default “warp limit” would be affected by structures you constuct in your sov space - so a group could limit the max size of initial warp-ins in their space by controlling the amount of “warp support” structures, and opposing groups could attack or introduce more warp support structures of their own (prior to even beginning a battle) to alter the battle limits to something more attractive. This could create mini-battles around the warp structures themselves.

TARGET FLUX: As more ships (numerical, per side) pile onto a battlefield, targeting could become more and more difficult. This should preferentially favor small ships over large, and should affect lock times as well as damage application. This would have several beneficial effects: a force of smaller but more effective ships would have an advantage over a numerically superior opponent; sides wouldn’t be so quick to simply throw in everything they have lest they disadvantage themselves, and smaller ships would experience a combat advantage over larger.

This would potentially also lead to a situation where you could ‘lose the battle, but win the war’: if you can field smaller groups of more effective ships against a numerically superior foe, and cost them relatively more each battle than it costs you, you could apply economic leverage to their forces.

SHIP DISABLING: This is a bit of an odd duck, not sure how it would work but it has potential. Based on this reply in the thread:
HamUndBacon: “one way to change mechanics would be to go Hollywood style and make it so that to destroy the big things is to destroy smaller things on them. So what if Supers and Titans had targetable functions that only subcaps could destroy”. Ham’s notion was to have the destroyed functions knock off part of the EHP pool, but I was wondering what if smaller ships could damage a Carrier/Supercarr’s ability to control it’s fighters or range? Affect a Titan’s DD damage potential, spool time or recharge? Focus a ships warp engines so it couldn’t warp out without repairs? There were some interesting mechanics of this type in the old Star Wars: Rebellion(Supremacy) game.

STEALTH NUKERS: from a reply by magicbd: “Would be great to get new classes of stealth bombers. Maybe something like;
Frigate bomber > battleship,
Cruiser bomber > dreadnought,
Battleship bomber > supercapital (edit: I would prob go BC bomber but whatever works)
That way with enough battleship bombers and a perfectly coordinated strike, any Corp will be able to take down a titan.
If they are too op, then introduce a new interceptor support class of drones or ships to protect titans

Different classes of bombs with different ‘minimum target sizes’. They would apply progressively less damage to ships below their target class. These might also be used to improve the process of structure-bashing. Personally I’m not sure they need ‘stealth’ as a feature. SB’s need it mostly because of their extreme fragility. Larger ships focused on anti-cap/supe/structure warfare could likely be less stealthy and more sturdy.

DAMAGE LOGISTICS: I’ve never been a fan of infinite magical repairs (in sci-fi or fantasy). It creates too many situations where things become unkillable and the only solution is to have them up against overwhelming numbers and DPS. Perhaps alter EVE repair systems in two ways: make self-repairs require a consumable, like nanite paste or whatever. Hold sizes or special holds, the volume of the material etc. could be adjusted. Patching your armor endlessly out of thin air just seems odd to me.

Then you alter ‘remote repairs’ so that again, they aren’t creating armor and hull out of thin air from 100km away. It might be possible to ‘replenish’ shields remotely since it’s effectively a power field, but it would be better to just have local repairs (and drone repairs, which are semi-local) actually ‘repair’ armor/hull, and have remote repairs give a smaller shield replenish effect, and a stronger ‘resistance level’ effect. Thus logistics would become a matter of everyone needing some ability to repair themselves, logistics ships would increase their resistance (with diminishing returns, or perhaps very high initial resistances which diminish over time) to give them (and drone repair ships) time to react, and once local repair resources were exhausted the ship would inevitably begin to go down. This would actually shake up a lot of stale, perma-tanking gameplay.

SIZE MATTERS: This is a change to the ‘bigger alliance = better’ meta rather than ship combat per se. Give corps and alliances stats, bonuses, taxes and penalties based on how efficient/effective/active their ‘average’ player is. Then it would be less attractive to simply pile on more numbers, and corps would have an interest in improving the efficiency and activity of all their members. This would have the unfortunate side effect of making ‘poor quality’ players less likely to be recruited or retained. On the other hand, it would also provide incentive for those poor quality/less engaged players to get better, and for corps to help train them to do so. It would also provide incentive for corporate member raiding which might shake up the status quo between major blocs a little.

INCURSION STYLE SOV WARFARE: At the moment, defenders have a significant advantage (it seems to me) in the Sov struggle. Make it so attackers could (at considerable expense) deploy something like a Mothership to affect certain aspects of the local Sov owner. Possibly harm their farming/ISK earning capacity (or taxes), or reduce by a certain amount their combat effectiveness. This would require the local owner to hunt down and terminate the Motherbase, and in the meantime the attacker could take actions based on the effects they applied.

(I’m a little more iffy on this one, it came up in a conversation some years ago and I’ve lost the notes on it. Seems like it has potential but also seems like it would most benefit whoever was biggest and could afford to drop the most Motherstructures and attackes on other entities.)

At any rate, those are some notions on limiting the effectiveness of “Bigger is Better” by putting direct counters or consequences to simply fielding larger forces than anyone else. Yes, being the biggest should be an advantage, but it shouldn’t be the one and ONLY advantage.

For any of these notions to improve gameplay, there would likely also need to be some adjustments made to ship mechanics. Caps and Supers shouldn’t be the ‘do-all’ ships that make other ships irrelevant. As mentioned by roboticWanderor: “If you just remove the ability for supercaps to do anything to subcaps, it solves a lot of problems.
A subcap fleet can easily swarm a supercap fleet if the supers have no way of killing the subs. Its when the subcaps have to dodge bosons and defang fighters and somehow tank HAW guns that they are unassailable.
To asher’s point the discussion shouldn’t be “they have a bigger supercap fleet so we can’t win” it should be "they have more/better subcap fleets so we can’t win”.

Some other closing thoughts from the thread that I felt were important:

Mineus64: “The act of making war is so soul-crushingly tedious, with boring entosis mechanics, endless monotonous structure bashes, and painful ADM grinds, that it’s more fun for the average line member to not even bother.”

TestAllianceOfficial: “Balancing around these massive fights that happen once every 2 years to the detriment of the rest of the game is a mistake.”

Submitten: “The issue is despite a game that relies on stacking penalties there is no downside to bringing more members. Fleet capacity should be limited across the board in general. But for Supercaps there needs to be something that causes masses of them to have issues. Call it something about gravitational wells in the lore and have them start sapping cap or resistances from each other when close by.”

Ali_Houssa: “My personal thoughts: - gap between subcaps and capitals is too wide - combined arms of carriers, supers and titans make subcaps obsolete - faxes were a mistake, deeming dreadbombs ineffective, ■■■■ should die when shot - haws on titans shouldnt be a thing - there is nothing to fight for when resources are infinite - there is no profit to reap from wars - you cannot force enemy to fight back because no objectives matter anymore in asset safety/already replaced era - sandcastles implemented by ccp are more like concrete blocks menacing with ewar and guns, easy to deploy and hard to remove - supercap umbrellas killed most of guerilla warfare possibilities
Idk how ccp made fighting people so unenjoyable in pvp game”

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Definitely an in-depth write up about a topic that I have little knowledge of and no experience with whatsoever.

However I do recognize that the underlying theme with your thread is about balance, something that this game sorely needs in all areas.

:+1:

Agreed, this is a good write up.

My concerns with ‘gateways’ would be that the concept is generally incompatible with the PvP sandbox. Most mechanics around this idea come into complications when considering out-of-game organisation like coalition allies, 3rd party invaders or players finding a way to block the opposing side from entering.

WARP SCATTER:

TARGET FLUX:

Same concern as above. The server does not recognise what a ‘side’ is outside of corp/alliance/ fleet. So coalitions consisting of several alliances can all warp in separately with no penalties from eachother.

SHIP DISABLING :
If someone can figure out how the UI on this would work without majorly destroying the flow of the game i’d be interested.

STEALTH NUKERS :
Perhaps the most simple and intuitive.

DAMAGE LOGISTICS :
I agree that infinite magic repairs takes away more from the game than it gives. Consumable idea might be worth pursuing. Make RASB’s and RAAR’s the norm for logistic bonused ships (would the guardian/basi cap chain need nerfing?). Large groups may counter that by simply taking MOAR logistics and alternating reps however.

One thing i like about the consumable idea is that it means the new logistic implants aren’t so powerful.

I didn’t fully grasp the 2nd proposed change to how shield and armour logi works sorry.

SIZE MATTERS:
I dislike the concept of boosts based on average members skill/performance. It encourages pushing out weak (and more than likely new) players. Vets will likely have boosts that new players don’t and it will be a different brand of killboard shaming.

If benefits are measured by PvP skill/deaths it encourages the behaviour of not engaging unless victory is certain or using kitey doctrines and buckets of logi/e-war. Discourages going out with a bang/brawley doctrines.

If its measured by activity it penalises those with real life obligations and is a boost to botters.

INCURSION STYLE SOV WARFARE :

Fun concept but will we see larger groups spamming them faster than they can be destroyed in the same way goons spam astrahus citadels during an invasion?

‘Make them really expensive!’ - so only the biggest groups can effectively deploy them?

That is the problem with so many “counters and offsets” suggested and implemented. They make it harder for the little guy.

The thing I don’t agree with the entire conversation is that there seems to be a bigger is naturally bad assumption.

IMHO bigger is awesome, its the big goal, but there has to be space for smaller and that is what EVE lacks right now. We never discuss it but everything is “per capita”.

Of course the standing mentality is most of EVE is empty, so there will never be more space.

Thank you for your insightful reply.

I should point out that Null/mega-blocs/TiDi wars is not in any way an area I can give good, concrete suggestions for, because I am for the most part only indirectly familiar with it. Any notions I put forth are there to provide an example of “how a game can alter a mechanic like a N+1 meta, where the biggest group with the most and strongest ships always has the advantage”.

It would be up to people who know these matters in intricate detail to take any ideas as inspiration and say “Hey that might not work as-is, but we could alter it such-and-so and maybe have something interesting”. I would also say that “this concept could be abused” and/or “this isn’t a perfect solution” doesn’t appear a show-stopper to me… because the current systems are far from perfect, and are widely abused.

The main goal of anything that might arise from this discussion would be “Is this interesting? Does it provide more opportunity for interaction? Might it lead to more groups doing more things than currently?” It’s the Chaos Era, they need to experiment to find some things that work. They certainly can’t do much worse than Blackout, and even that had a lot of proponents.

To the best of my knowledge, EVE has the blue donut, and can identify forces that are hostile to you. Even if it just measured it on a fleet by fleet basis, that would have some effect (even if that was only to cause people to make smaller fleets). It also seems to me that players finding ways around things using allies, 3rd parties or blocking other people from entering is exactly what we refer to when we talk about “emergent gameplay”.

It certainly has consequences, some of which I outlined in the OP. We either have mega-blocs which suck up everyone they can and declare everyone else they aren’t at war with to be blue, or we have some sort of size limiting factor. A size limiting factor encourages smaller groups, which implies that group has the chance of developing it’s own identity or goals and fracturing away from or betraying the larger group.

Put whatever size constraints/parameters/costs/consequences you want in place. The key point is to make so it that “always more and bigger” isn’t the best answer to everything. The current system penalizes the whole game, so I don’t really see “this might penalize some players” as a big barrier.

Apologies, I assumed Motherships/Incursion style were singular entities. They could spam them in different regions of course, but each region would only allow one. I also said “at considerable expense”, which just means they become an ISK sink and aren’t thrown out casually for nuisance value. That doesn’t mean that any decent sized operation couldn’t afford one. After all, they can afford Titans.

The notion was simply to give a smaller scale objective that you could use to mess with someone else’s Sov space, that would be sure to provoke a response, but wouldn’t require a full scale invasion. It could also be used as a way to prepare for an actual invasion, or perhaps as a distraction from an invasion somewhere else.

That said, the specific implementation isn’t key. The idea of “smaller but interesting objectives other than full-scale territorial invasion” is the focus. People with more Null knowledge than I could come up with better, I’m sure.

At any rate, appreciate the thoughts. Let’s hope it triggers a new notion for somebody who talks to somebody who tweets to an EVE guy who actually comes up with an interesting idea before management shuts him down.

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