Greedy Goblin

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The purpose of FozzieSov

I know that MoA report and ratting report should be there, but I've just read this post and it seeded an idea. The main point of the post is that players have an in-game "day-job" (fueling towers, managing an organization, following orders) and then unwind from this job in ganking events, NPSI fleets and lowsec alts, playing a game within the game. The author blames it on the Imperium meta-gaming that perfected in-game jobs, but I disagree. The game-job feeling was a necessity and the Imperium is merely on the top of that, in their absence someone else would do it. I believe the problem wasn't with Dominion Sov, but FozzieSov is still a great patch for it. The problem could be described by three points:
  1. Due to structure HPs, Sov warfare was only possible by large fleets.
  2. Due to general combat mechanics, the optimal way of fighting a fleet battle is quasi-multiboxing: the fleet members anchor up and shoot/rep the primary. The better an individual player mimic a drone under the control the FC, the more valuable he is. The best fleet buddy is an ISBox-alt (hence it's banned).
  3. Nullsec ratting is repetitive but rewarding, it's best done by a bot or an AFK drone ship.
The general "wars are no fun" statement comes from the fact that the optimal way of both fleet PvP and PvE is roleplaying a bot and wars force optimal play. Outside of wars you are allowed to play sub-optimally, fooling around in a frigate and skipping PvE sessions. The Imperium merely found an evil but working solution for the problem: they are in a forever-war with the "carebear pubbie shitlords", an imaginary enemy that isn't fighting back and unaware of him being the enemy of the largest coalition until he gets ganked or scammed. In the meantime they avoid every wars that doesn't come to their doorstep.

Of course the optimal solution for this design problems is making fleet warfare and PvE engaging, making a skilled pilot flying his own ship much more effective than an F1 drone, an AFK Ishtar or a literal bot. However this needs extreme dev time, something CCP clearly doesn't have or would have fixed these problems years ago.

While FozzieSov doesn't address the real problems, it's still a great patch, because it makes bot-roleplay sub-optimal for Sov warfare. The old way of "dock up if enemy comes, join the fleet and do as the FC says" leads to very frustrating chasing of ghosts. The optimal Sov gameplay in FozzieSov is the home-defending ratter/miner. He rats/mines in his system, but when a sole intruder arrives and starts entosising, he grabs his own ship and fights/scares him off alone or with other locals, waiting for no FC. A one week old noob who is ready to undock a Griffin and break the lock of the trollceptor is more valuable for Sov-holding than a ratting bot or a perfect F1 drone. Of course the plan isn't trollceptor vs Griffin "fights", the plan is that after Griffins made Sov-trolling impossible, attackers come in small gangs that can kill off local defenders who need to call nearby defenders to fight them off. In next phase the attackers will come prepared to drop serious fleet reinforcements which prompt supercapital counterdrop from locals. Before you know, you have supers fighting next to an IHUB!

Of course there is a long way from there, since most current sov-players - especially in the Imperium which optimized for this play - are completely unable to undock a Griffin, due to being bots and morons who can only AFK-rat and press F1 when told. Coalitions - especially the Imperium - recruited especially such players: botters and obedient morons. Having a brain was discouraged: if you had a good killboard to prove your PvP prowess, you could expect nothing but merciless trolling if you mentioned them on an Imperium forum. Raging Ducks, which did the most PvP compared to its size in Goonswarm in 2014 was kicked for not PvP-ing (meaning: doing small gang PvP instead of F1-droneship). Holding Sov will need almost complete replacement of players in your roster. Botters and morons who can only act on command are worthless and must be kicked to make place for those who are ready and able to fight on their own.

Please note that the fundamental problems of #2 and #3 aren't fixed, merely circumvented: obeying an FC is still better than individual flying, however it's impossible to place a competent FC into every system, so players need to fly as they can due to lack of an FC. Bot- and AFK-ratting are still preferable for PvE, but PvE will be often interrupted by PvP where bots and AFK-ers can't perform, so players must do it.

PS: talking about small gangs and good piloting, this battle shows how much better MoA pilots fly their ships than the minions of Evil. This one is no different, the skilled pilots of MoA bested the Bastion defenders.

PS2: again I'd like to write that NC. is the new -A-, but I feel it would be unfair for -A-.


maxim said...

Decent analysis
I have but a minor comment - making Eve fleet combat individually engaging is not a question of devtime, but rather a question of complete overhaul of current fleet system. At the moment, i am not aware of even any real concept of such individualising overhaul. Until such concept is formulated (which takes a flash of inspiration, but very little dev time), no progress in this direction can be made.

Well, correction - i can suggest a few concepts myself that make fleets altogether useless, because a pack of skilled people would be able to easily pick any fleet apart. But making fleets altogether useless is not really a solution i'd want to see in Eve, which has massive fleet battles as a major selling point.

Which, incidentally, ties back into your article, because usefulness of FCs is the same as usefulness of fleets. Saying that people grouping under FCs is a problem is saying fleets themselves are a problem that needs to be solved and not a selling point that the system needs to be built around.

Gevlon said...

The purpose isn't to make small gangs stronger than fleets or make fleets useless. It is to make a fleet of 10 players stronger than a 10-pilot multibox of a single player. To make individually positioning and differently fit ships stronger than clones.

Kobeathris said...

If there were real friendly fire in Eve, as in, if a friendly is between you and your target, when you pull the trigger, you hit your friend instead of the target, that would probably make skilled piloting more useful than a bigger blob. Unfortunately, Eve doesn't appear to be remotely architectured to do something like that.

maxim said...

Well, yeah, and i honestly can't think of a way to make this possible without introducing completely new systems to the current Eve engine.
Kind of a shared problem in all modern MMORPGs, really.