Monday, January 28, 2013

Game harshness, death penalty, miners

"EVE is a harsh, dark universe" is all over the marketing. Why? Because here unconsensual PvP happens. "By undocking, you consent to PvP" they say.

My old WoW character reached 50000 kills in July 2011 and ended his career with 96000 kills, despite I shifted to EVE around 2012 spring. So in my last year I had around 4000 kills/month. Very few EVE players have so many kills. In WoW I was very far from being top PvP-er. So the "sweet fluffy WoW" is much more PvP-ish than EVE. Let's look at League of Legends and World of Tanks. These games are pure PvP, you can't advance your character without PvP. Every match is direct PvP. Yet these games are rather considered casual fun games than harsh and unforgiving. On the other hand the original X-com had no PvP but the mind-controlling aliens still haunt me. How?

The solution is that PvP itself don't make a game harsh. If you die in WoW, you resurrect in a few seconds without losses. Even if you are corpse-camped, you can talk to the spirit healer, take a 10 minutes debuff and pay a pitiful repair sum and you are out of PvP. WoW has very low death penalty.

Harshness = death_chance * death_penalty

PvP indeed increases death chance since you can always choose safe, overgeared PvE, but PvP finds you. However if death is meaningless, it doesn't matter. What is the death penalty in EVE? You lose your ship, maybe your pod too and also your cargo. Is that a high death penalty?

It depends on the cost of the ship and cargo. And this is where EVE is constantly nerfed. While PvP-ers are always worried about EVE is made "space WoW" by making PvP harder, and cry loud on every mechanics change that makes it harder to trick someone into PvP, they are fundamentally wrong as WoW already has more PvP than EVE. What they mean is making EVE just as loss-free as WoW, but they are ignoring the second part of the equation. Even worse, many prominent PvP-ers and even the self-defined griefer Goons are premiere supporters of nerfing losses.

The supercapital nerfs (and the ongoing cries of "supers are still too powerful") make the game fluffier than closing any loophole that allowed newbies to be tricked into PvP. The T1 cruiser rebalance removed more harshness from EVE than the imaginary "completely safe highsec" could ever do. Why? Because they allow players to be useful in ships they don't mind to lose. With the original doomsday you had to put your capitals to the line to stop an invasion as subcaps would be eliminated by a pair of titans. That was risky for both sides. Lolling around in Drakes (the epic ship of Goons) is safe. The nullseccers are just as risk-averse as the "carebear pubbies" they hate. They just recognized long ago that the key of safety isn't decreasing the chance of losing your ship, but decreasing the cost of the loss.

Since Retribution even the Drakes are history of the once harsh game, as battlecruisers are now considered expensive, "serious fleet" ships, the "fun PvP" is done in T1 cruisers that are pocket change even for a few weeks old newbie. Next patch will update T1 battlecruisers to further cheapen fleet battles. Flying anything that has a relevant price tag will be the territory of highsec missioners and Pandemic Legion.

The infamous exhumer rebalance was indeed a nerf to the harshness of EVE, but not because they got some extra HP. The real nerf is the increased ore hold that makes AFK mining easy. The easier mining is, the more mining will happen. The more mining, the cheaper minerals. Cheap minerals are cheap ships, less death penalty. CCP - just like every MMO developer - nerfs the game to cater the "casual" (read: bad) players. While the PvP-ers guard the "EVE-spirit" vehemently, protecting it from any limitations towards PvP, the nerfs of death cost is unnoticed or even celebrated. Cheap ships are good for all, right?

EVE will never be nerfed into a place where you can't kill another player. CCP is constantly nerfing it into the place where that other player won't care about the loss.

Against this nerf there is little player resistance. I've yet to see a single CSM opposing a change that makes a cheap ship stronger or ships generally cheaper. Practically only the New Order fights against diminishing death costs by destroying the farming machines (AFK-ers and bots).

So if you want EVE to be a harsh place (instead of Space WoW with dark marketing), you must:
  • Demand expensive ships to be strong and cheap ones to be weak, to force people risk expensive ships if they want to win in PvP.
  • Demand the removal of "insurance", giving welfare to those who lost their ships.
  • Resist every change that makes it easier to obtain materials needed for building ships.
Of course you can take matters to your own hand and blow up AFK miners. There is no point trying to blow up active ones, you'll either fail or only win using extreme amount of resources. AFK-ers on the other hand are both very easy target and may give up on their activities. They are AFK because they want ISK without effort. Defending their ship needs effort, it's easier for them to simply not mine when they don't play.


Anonymous said...

You claim that nerfing supers was a nerf to harshness when in fact it was a nerf to a fundimentally unbalanced part of the game. Even super pilots would begrudgingly admit that having a single ship which can only be countered by a greater number of that same ship was overpowered in the extreme. No matter how many ships you put against supers, if they were not supers they were blended. Supers could carry a near unlimited number of drones, spit out dozens of them at a time and have enough of an EHP buffer to withstand a constant pounding from a subcap fleet of nearly any size. This is a broken game mechanic and it got the nerf it so richly deserved.

You also claim the T1 rebalance was a nerf to harshness, deliberately ignoring the fact that CCP are going to be rebalancing T2 in the near future as well. The idea will be T1 = generalist, T2 = specialist, T3 = high powered generalist. This is a sensible change and will allow those who focus on a particular skill to have a major tactical bonus when selecting their ships.

Your constant pandering to drake fleet as your go-to complaint about cheap ships being over powered compared to expensive ones shows you lack of understanding of the current 0.0 fleet meta.

Onto the exhumer rebalance. This was a nerf which was waiting to happen. It doesn't stop ganking but it does give the miners a chance. Prior to the rebalance no matter who you were, no matter what you were flying, no matter how "active" you were, you could be insta ganked with ease. This rebalance makes the game "harsher" for the gankers who now no longer get it all their own way.

As for a single CSM against the nerf - you obviously do not read the minutes, or read the forums. Various CSMs have come out at various times in the past to speak up about various nerfs and offer insight on how best to achieve balance without nerfing things into oblivion. You claim that the New Order is the only shining light of harshness in eve is ridiculous on the face of it.

And lastly - you claim that AFK miners are somehow different to active miners again. This old refrain which has been disproven in every post you've made about it continues be a source of amusement to me. There is no way you can tell the difference between an "AFK" miner and an "Active" one - save for perhaps after a gank. Their behaviour is exactly the same.

Gevlon said...

A 100B ship SHOULD be invincible by a hundred of 50M ships. Otherwise there is no reason to fly it, therefore the game will decrease to cheap crap brawls, which is a lolpvp game without consequences.

Anonymous said...

The original doomsday was nerfed shortly after Goonswarm demonstrated that they have enough titans to doomsday carriers.

From that point it was only a matter of time until anything on field smaller than a supercapital would have invariably died in the first seconds of the fight (which would have been hilarious as supercapitals can't tackle each other).

With current titan numbers even motherships might succumb to the aoe doomsday.

"A 100B ship SHOULD be invincible by a hundred of 50M ships."
... and we're back to pre-TEST Gevlon.

Actually coming to think of it that line is *exactly* what Hulk owners have demanded for years.

How can their 200m ISK ship be destroyed by a handful of lowly destroyers?

Shouldn't it take at least ~30 destroyers to kill a Hulk?

How come my 1.6b freighter can be killed by a war-target in a 30m Stabber (who bumps me away from the gate)?

And no matter how I fit my Phantasm, it will never be able to take on 4 SFIs which is what pirce parity would demand.

Gevlon said...

A Hulk and Freighter are industrial ships, so it's normal that they are weaker than combat ships. I'm talking about combat ships. A 100B titan shouldn't have problems destroying of 10B worth of whatever collection of ships in order to have consequences in the game.

Note: in most games there are no consequences, just "lol", so I'm not saying CCP is doing it wrong. I'm just saying that we are heading to the direction where WoW is: there is no difference between winning and losing in PvP in terms of in-game progression and wealth.

Anonymous said...

"A 100B titan shouldn't have problems destroying of 10B worth of whatever collection of ships in order to have consequences in the game."

10b worth of ships would be about 50 herocats which can deal 50*802dps = 40.100 dps and can neutralize 50 * 31.2 GJ/s = 1560 GJ/s.

Currently an Erebus has a peak capacitor recharge rate of 69.4 GJ/s when unfitted and a recharge rate of 264.9 GJ/s with a full rack of T2 cap rechargers.
Granted, with a full rack of Chelm/Draclira's cap rechargers you'd get 1011 GJ/s but I'm pretty certain that you'd have a hard time acquiring enough of these to fit even one titan, nvm a whole fleet of them.

Currently an actively tanked Erebus (2 capital armor reps) could tank around 5-6.000 dps.

So to be "balanced" a titan's active tank would have to be increased sixfold and its capacitor recharge (after modules) between 1.5 - 5x depending on how much you want it to rely on officer modules.

At that point it would be barely "invincible" against 10b worth of subcaps.

Then TEST comes by with a fleet of welpcanes (which are probably more cost-efficient than herocats) and throws over all our calculations...

Debra Tao said...

I don't see the reasoning behind "A 100B ship SHOULD be invincible by a hundred of 50M ships."

Titans are strategic tools, not straight up brawling ships and it's good that way. Eve cannot be build around a strict linear progression between the cost of a ship and its power, that's utterly stupid in a game where goons, test have been so successful. That's against the spirit of EVE.

Also pvper pvp, they don't trade nor farm a lot and they are happy that way. I don't want the first rich kid to come and become extremely powerful against experienced and talented people just because he can buy the most expensive toy. I think that you may be frustrated by that fact that money in EVE isn't everything...

Also your argumentation about supers is really... well i will try to stay polite. Can you fit a super ? Do you know how to fit one ? What's the metagame ? Very few people in all eve know these things, it's just not the kind of knowledge that's easy to acquire and knowing how to fit a super is basically being worthy of flying one. I don't think you have that kind of knowledge, you don't even pvp on a regular basis with subcaps, i don't have that kind of knowledge neither so when Shadoo says that supers need to be nerf i follow him.

You do have a point though, goons, test and their pets prefer to field T1 ships and cheap doctrines. I think there are several reasons for that (disclaimer, i am in NCdot) :
1- they are bad at pvp and don't want to risk too much
2- it's easier to win the isk war with these ships, and that matters a lot.
3- their FCs, appart from a few coalition level FCs, are bad. In a coalition that views "elite pvp" as despicable that's not surprising at all. And basically T2 ships are extremely specialized, winning with a fleet of munnins for instance require a good placement and some skills.

Also, PL aren't the only ones using expensive ships, i roam every day with a gank of cynas/vagas... and we meet PL sometimes. PL are good at pvp, but not as good as most people think.

Hivemind said...

@ Gevlon

"The infamous exhumer rebalance was indeed a nerf to the harshness of EVE, but not because they got some extra HP. The real nerf is the increased ore hold that makes AFK mining easy. The easier mining is, the more mining will happen. The more mining, the cheaper minerals. Cheap minerals are cheap ships, less death penalty. CCP - just like every MMO developer - nerfs the game to cater the "casual" (read: bad) players."

Except that prices for minerals have been higher since before the Exhumer rebalance than they have been for the rest of EVE's existence thanks to CCP removing a major source of minerals from the game when they removed NPC meta 0 loot and all the drone alloys as drops. I'm not sure why you're choosing to ignore that since I know you're aware of it; I remember you mentioning it in blog posts last year. So, acknowledging that CCP have in fact buffed "the harshness of EVE" as you put it, and the changes that you're referring to as nerfs haven't pushed prices to where they were before, what does that say for your claims?

Your complaints about the rebalancing seem like the same thing to me - you're deliberately ignoring that t1 frigate and cruiser roams have been the choice for casual low-investment PvP since long before their respective rebalances and that the rebalances themselves haven't had a big change on the performance of the best PvP frigates and cruisers, rather they've elevated the other frigates/cruisers to a similar level and added in a lot more gameplay options. Cruisers as a ship class are neither punching harder or tanking more than they used to, it's just that the number of cruisers that can punch and tank at that level have increased.

"Demand expensive ships to be strong and cheap ones to be weak, to force people risk expensive ships if they want to win in PvP." seems to miss the point that this is still the case now; the rebalances have closed the distance between T1 and T2 ships, especially with the introduction of things like T1 logistics, but you're the only person I've seen arguing that the gap no longer exists. A T2 cruiser fleet will still have no problems killing a fleet made up of their T1 counterparts, likewise a lone T2 ship isn't likely to have difficulty taking out a lone T1 equivalent. The difference in performance doesn't match the difference in price, but that is absolutely nothing new - T2s have always offered far less performance per ISK than T1 ships, but come with the benefit of better performance per pilot.

Lastly "A 100B ship SHOULD be invincible by a hundred of 50M ships" really needs some explanation for why this is the case; aside from early supercaps EVE design has always favoured several players in cheaper ships over a single player in an expensive one - whether you're comparing T1 to T2 or looking at a 200mil battleship being killed by 20 5 mil frigates or 10 15 mil cruisers. More expensive ships offer maximum performance per pilot but not maximum performance per ISK. "Otherwise there is no reason to fly it, therefore the game will decrease to cheap crap brawls" seems evidently false given that the removal of AoE doomsdays was quite a long time ago now and yet supercaps remain a major part of nullsec sovereignty even though they can be killed by a far less expensive force.

Maxim Preobrazhenskiy said...

Out of curiosity, do Eve fleets fly extreme amounts of single type of ships, or do they rely in any way on compositions of ships that compensate for each other's deficiencies?

Coming from a competitive RTS background, i know that extremely expensive "motherships" might not even be able to handle a single cheap anti-air figher one on one, but still have a place in the game through providing some manner of important invaluable support. It may be artillery support (softening enemy fleets before fight even happens), space control support (preventing flanks, escapes and other tactics that can really turn the tide of battle), refueling support (allowing the rest of the fleet more mobility), scouting support, tanking support, support through elimination of critical targets, or whatever other support you can think of.

However, to be sure, in RTS price differences between units in same composition rarely exceed a maximum of two orders of magnitude. For example, the most expensive ship in Starcraft 2 costs ~800 total resource units, while the cheapest combat unit costs ~25. The expensive unit provides force multiplication by ability to temporarily disable a huge chunk of enemy fleet, particularily the hardest hitting units, so that the swarm of cheaper units is able to overwhelm the rest numerically and destroy them completely with significantly fewer losses.

The notion of balancing a 100B ship versus a 50M ship, with the understanding that the encounter should be fun for both the 100B pilor and 50M pilot, feels pretty ludicrous. The support power of a properly balanced 100B ship would effectively be an I-WIN button, and we know how fun and deep are those.

Gevlon said...

@Debra Tao: since you can't lose experience in PvP, just ships, if money is meaningless, we are in space Counterstrike or space StarCraft: a skill-game with no consequences. These are good games, but not harsh or unforgiving. It's not "bad", just against the marketing.

@Hivemind: indeed the meta0 drops and the alloy removal made the game harsher, but I'm afraid it will be overcompensated soon by mining. After all meta0 loots needed a player to kill and loot. Mining just needs a computer.

I ignore previous frigate and cruiser roams before they were ignorable. There is nothing wrong with having low-cost lolpvp. The problem arises when a low-cost fleet can have impact on the game.

The gap constantly decreases between cheap and expensive, therefore the number limit needed to "outblob" them decreases. Previously (guessed number) 200 T1 ships could kill 100 T2, now 150. So the option to win via having better ships is shrinking, therefore there is less and less point to risk such ships. If your corp/alliance can't keep up the numbers race, you'll be defeated. The winners will fly in cheap crap forever making the once harsh PvP game into a permanent lolfrig nonsense.

The reason while more expensive ships has to be more powerful is to give a reason to people to fly - therefore risk - them. While there will always be fools like the 20B Tengu missioner or Dabigredboat who wastes expensive ships, you can't design the games signature feature on the hopes that idiots will be idiots.

Or maybe you can.

Debra Tao said...

I think that you misunderstand the kind of advantages that T2 ships should have. And to be blunt, i think that you cannot experience that without some pvp experience.

T2 ships aren't usually "worth" their cost in a pure dps/ehp point of view. If you consider the vagabond for instance it's not better than a cane for the dps and the ehp is about the same. The thing is that T2 ships rely a lot on the skill of the pilot and the FC. You are not allowed to make mistakes. T2 ships have advantages : no holes in resist, higher agility, more PG/CPU allowing for strong fits... But these advantages aren't at all worth the cost if you aren't good at pvp. That's actually similar to T3 ships...

If you take a look at the Venal/Tribute war NCdot was able to smash the cfc repeatedly because it's not like you say " 200 T1 ships could kill 100 T2, now 150" it's 200 T1 ships that aren't in range of the enemy fleet.

Anonymous said...

@Gevlon T3 ships do lose experience if they are lost, and if your pod is not up to date, you can also lose skills. The pod can be avoided, but losing skills when you lose a T3 cannot be.

If you want to look at excess isk income, mining is the soft target...I don't see you calling for ganking of incursion players, even those multiboxing, and incursions are hardly tricky (lets face it, PvE is an afterthought in Eve).

"Mining just needs a computer"...what sort of statement is that? Especially when prefaced by "After all meta0 loots needed a player to kill and loot." AFK domi/drake/insert other ship into mission, activate drones/tank, come back a bit later, tractor stuff in.

Its nice you have bought into the propaganda, in a way which even the others in New Order haven't:

"I am a professional bumper and the Father of the New Order. I was elected Supreme Protector of Halaima and Kamio, two highsec ice mining systems near Jita. I require miners to follow the New Halaima Code of Conduct, which--among other things--calls for a 10 million isk mining fee to be paid each year. If miners fail to pay, they risk being bumped out of range and losing their ability to mine. Now that the pleasantries are out of the way, have some links"

So, as you know, and even as the code states, it is not about AFKing..there is 1 line in "The Code" about AFKing, which states

"No AFK mining allowed. All miners are expected to remain at their keyboards at all times, and are required to prove their presence by responding in local when requested by the Supreme Protector or one of his Agents."

The rest of the lines are similar to:
"New Order territory is a safe space for suicide gankers. Miners are required to put aside their prejudices and treat gankers with respect.

- Upon being suicide ganked, a miner should congratulate the ganker on his success. A "good fight" or "gf" in local is customary."

So, it is sweet that you pretend it is about AFKing, I am not sure if it is because you have an aversion to thinking of yourself as a ganker, and so need it to fulfil some higher purpose, but most other people who do these sorts of things (myself included in the past), know exactly what it is we are doing. You might select your target so that you know they will come out and fight, but even so, we are still shooting fish in a barrel.

Hivemind said...

@ Maxim

Generally EVE alliances will have a few fleet doctrines that their pilots can fly and will have ships for. They choose which doctrine to use based on what the op is for and what they expect to fight. Doctrines are usually built around a one ship or ship type. Each fleet will also have ships that do things like repair the fleet, slow down and pin down enemies, counter enemy ships doing that to them and so on. You don't normally see fleets that combine, say, ships with long-range guns and ships with short-range guns as fleets will focus on getting to and staying at a single range. On the other hand it's not unheard of for large organizations to field multiple fleets that work together like a close-range brawler fleet that can soak up punishment while holding up enemies plus a long-range sniper fleet.

There is a case of tactical rock-paper-scissors with fleets in EVE as each composition has vulnerabilities that can be exploited. Supercaps fit in as counters to other supercaps and to large numbers of caps as well as structures - basically anything large and slow-moving or stationary. Provided you can prevent them from running they are vulnerable to large numbers of small ships; the 100 50 million ISK ships Gevlon is talking about.

Hivemind said...

@ Gevlon

"I'm afraid it will be overcompensated soon by mining."

The mineral changes happened 9 months ago, the barge rebalance 4 or 5 months ago. Mineral prices remain consistently higher than a year ago with no indication that they are going back. What evidence do you have that overcompensation is happening?

"The problem arises when a low-cost fleet can have impact on the game."

And can it? BC, BS and T2 remain the staples for Nullsec combat; I've not heard about alliances fielding T1 cruiser fleets for sov war. T1 logistics cruisers add in a force multiplier that T1 fleets didn't have before but other than that their combat envelope remains the same - the amount of DPS a good combat cruiser can take or deliver hasn't changed much, what has changed is that there are a lot more cruisers that can achieve those amounts. T1 cruisers weren't a viable sov force because they didn't offer enough performance per pilot, that hasn't changed yet.

"Previously (guessed number) 200 T1 ships could kill 100 T2, now 150."

Guessed? If you have evidence, present it. If you have numbers, show them. If all you have to support your claims is "I'm guessing that I'm right", that doesn't go far.

"If your corp/alliance can't keep up the numbers race, you'll be defeated."

Even your guess disagrees; you've said that a small number of T2s can still beat a larger number of T1s.

"The winners will fly in cheap crap forever making the once harsh PvP game into a permanent lolfrig nonsense."

Did you know that in DPS per ISK the Catalyst may be the most efficient ship? Yet it's relegated to suicide ganking and even then gankers use Tornados to kill larger targets. I'm bringing that up to show the difference between efficiency and performance - while ships like the Catalyst have great efficiency they have very poor performance per pilot and the one area they excel at (DPS) comes at the cost of weaknesses in most other areas. This is the case with a lot of the smaller ships and it's what you pay ISK to avoid when buying larger or higher tech ships; they either get increased performance, reduced weaknesses or both, which act to increase the performance of your fleet.

The key to cost-effective PvP isn't using the cheapest ships, it's finding the balance between performance and ISK that will fulfil your objectives. For small gangs T1 cruisers may be that balance but for nullsec sovereignty the numbers involved means that balance comes higher up the price ladder.

"The reason while more expensive ships has to be more powerful is to give a reason to people to fly - therefore risk - them."

Yes, which is why they are more powerful. Nobody has suggested that they should not be. There is a difference between "more powerful than a cheap ship" and "more powerful and more ISK efficient than a cheap ship", which is what you're asking for.

gallego said...

How do you propose to have newer players enter the game if you want to force them to have to fly very expensive ships to make a difference in fights? Your plan to have a harsh eve at the top end needs a mechanic for people to grow towards there and be able to enjoy the game along the way to that place.

Also you plan to make multiple cheap ships unable to take out an expensive ship kinda put a full stop end to the new order. If a bunch of cheap catalysts can't take out an expensive ship then that kills the new order dead in its tracks.

Geometric cost for a linear gain is a long established game design fundamental.

gallego said...

The other thing you're forgetting in the equation is the value of the victory. If there's increased value in winning the fight (via sov mechanics, faction warfare, etc. etc.) then more expensive ships and modules will be risked to get that extra edge.

If all that is to be gained in a "GF" in local then yeah you won't see that arms race happen.

Dersen Lowery said...

Oh, dear.

Last thing first: You actually believe that meta 0 drops "need a player?" You aren't aware that the drone regions were chock full of bot Tengus gun mining? Shooty PVE in EVE is so easy that you can build a *legal, in game* bot to run it: the RR sentry Dominix.

Then, you hold up the New Order as the only force upholding the harshness of EVE, which you have defined as the cost of loss. This would be the same New Order that roam high security space in shiny faction ships, bumping miners with the full protection of CONCORD behind them? If anything, the New Order is a brilliantly risk-averse profit-making scheme. They even recruit miners to gank other miners instead of doing it themselves--in T1 destroyers, of course, because those are the ultimate in cost/DPS.

Not only did you fail to account for the fact that moving mineral acquisition from gun mining to barge mining has buffed mineral prices and *reduced* botting, you also fail to account for the fact that all those newly useful, formerly tier 1 cruisers had their mineral requirements raised substantially, which is also keeping mineral prices up, while the newfound desirability of T1 ships is a straight nerf to tech.

Also, it's apparently never occurred to you that people who are semi-AFK in a mining barge are not only indistinguishable from those who aren't, they're often ATK in a nullsec fleet, or engaged in market PVP, or otherwise very much in the game. And their barge is out in the game providing you content, instead of being docked up.

Anonymous said...

Your formula is flawed. What makes games feel 'harsh' is the amount of control one has over the loss x the value of the loss.

Harsness = lack_of_control * loss_value

This is why high-sec ganks of miners are harsher than killing the same miners in nullsec. The frequency whuch you can be suddenly, unexpectedly and unfairly affected by a negative stimulus determines the games harshness.

This is why losing your Vindicator while solo-ing in low-sec isn't harsh, but losing it to NPCs while DC-ing during a mission in high-sec is.

Coming back to the game and finding out all your assets are now locked inside a station conquered by the enemy is harsh.

The old aggro-system was harsh. You could die to Concord unexpectedly, or be tricked by convoluted timer abuses.

You are looking to increase harsness in some of the wrong places.

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