Greedy Goblin

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Fleet commander quality and corp size

Fleet commanders are the most important experts in EVE Online. They are much more important than WoW raid leaders due to very limited personal skill requirement in EVE. The average line member just anchors up, targets the called one and presses F1. The WoW equivalent would be /follow the raid leader and do nothing else than targeting the skull and spam one, instant cast, 6 sec CD spell. While the WoW raid lies on everyones back and the failure of one can doom the whole raid, in EVE the FC more or less plays an RTS game with the enemy FC where the units are for some reason players. Clearly, a good FC can make or break an alliance.

However there is a nasty twist in EVE: in WoW if you want gear and achievement (before next patch when everyone will get it AFK), you must join the raid. The raid leader has something the players want, therefore can make demands. On the other hand an EVE fleet gives absolutely no in-game rewards to the players. Even in case of perfect victory, the reward will be some dropped modules worth less than spending the fleet time mining veldspar. The fleet might succeed capturing a star system that can be utilized later, but it will be available for every member of the corporation/alliance/coalition, including those who never-ever flied in any fleets. Therefore in EVE we have an awkward situation: the fleet (therefore its commander) is crucial for victory, yet totally unneeded by individual members.

So in EVE the fleet commander must win the fleet members and not the other way. This is an universal truth coming from EVE design and no player can change that, no matter how unfair it is. They can merely acknowledge and obey this truth or try to pee against the wind with the expected results. The easiest way to obey this rule is the no-call-to-arms approach. No member is required to fly in any fleets he doesn't like. The alternative - forcing them to spend their time with something they don't like without any rewards - will simply end up them going inactive or quiting the group. The no-CTA approach allows members to pick their FC, the one whose style, goal and results fits the player. For example I join sov-taking fleets whenever my time allows it, but avoid roams like the plague, very much prefer battleship fleets over smaller hulls and hate idiotic chatter by the FC (the rest are non-issue as can be muted).

As you can see, this is a point where we can't avoid using the hated f-word: the performance of FCs can't be measured only by success/defeat ratio or loss rate. To have pilots, the FC must provide a fun environment to the line members to join. Since EVE fleets are won by numbers, the quality of the FC is mostly defined as "how many pilots can he get". Of course it's not unconnected to actual FC-ing skill, notorious failures will be avoided by most. As usual, "fun" is different for everyone, what is considered a great joke by some can make others go an extra mile to get rid of. The no-CTA, free FC selection is the best way to handle this. Open market for FCs, everyone picks according to his taste.

So far, so good, but how does it connects to corporation sizes? Because to let this open market exist, we need numbers. In a 50-men corp you can't have multiple fleets. Actually you have to pre-arrange to have any fleet. With only one fleet available, there can only be one FC and he will probably be the corp leader or someone he picks. The members - even if there is no CTA - can only choose to join this FC or skip the fleet. But skipping doesn't help as tomorrow the same FC will form a fleet. If you don't like the corp FC, your true options are leaving the corp or be a full-time industrialist. Even if the fleets are on the alliance level, if the corp leadership prefers one they can "persuade" members to join him. If you don't, you skip on spending time with your corp, you lock yourself out of socialization and sooner or later gain negative attention. In a small-corp setting the FC market is always virtual.

In a large corp like Dreddit you not only need multiple FCs to keep up with the people, but also lack both the ability and the motive of being passive-aggressive on people who don't like your FC-ing. I mean the roaming FCs don't need to cancel their fleets due to low numbers (there will be enough wannabe roamers), so they have no reason to bug me to join or hate me when I refuse.

CCP should really do something about freighter ganking in highsec. Yesterday I listed some kills and here are some more (1, 2, 3, 4, 5 just from Tuesday). I mean the amount of ISK destroyed in high-security space is over the line and CCP must intervene. For example by locking racial industrial 5 and to unlock it one must go to the official site, fill out an IQ test and score over 80.


Sugar Kyle said...

For your null fleets maybe. Our normal fleets are three to five and sometimes up to seven. We get excited at ten. Normally 70-90% of the fleet members can also FC well. If the FC goes down someone instantly takes over. Also members are expected to have independent thought.

Not all PvP is f1 pushing anchor orbiting. I didn't even know what orbit anchoring was until I started incursions because I have been taught to fly my ships.

Debra Tao said...

I actually never anchor the FC in fleet because i prefer to stay away of the massive number of people, it's actually a very good technique to avoid bubbles and be able to warp out and come back if needed.

Anonymous said...

I wish you had more philosophy posts. They may not increase readership as much, but they are the greater impact by FAR. Anti-social philosophy from gaming is a niche, but just posts about EvE? For example, spend more time on the idea of people being required to pass IQ tests in order to be able to make a lot of money.