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Thursday, March 18, 2010


Ok, Ok, I get that the Vagabond canonical fit does not involve missile launchers....

The statement was a generic one for all Minmatar cruiser sized ships. One thing you have to realize is that most Matari pilots (myself included) tend to develop our missile skills last. This leads to a self fulfilling prophesy where in we don't tend to fit launchers on any of our ships, even those that seem to be designed for split weapons fire. I'd like to point out that when you have one weapons skill that far outstrips the other, this will be the case no matter what. Of course missiles are not as good as guns - your missile skills suck.

As much as there are good arguments for concentration on a single weapon type when fitting out a ship for gank, and 90% of the time this is indeed the way to go. However, there are times where one must know when to break that rule. The thing is that unless you work on all your weapons skill, you'll never have the option to do so. Hence me working on my combat skills to get all 4 Matari weapons systems to the same level (yes target painters are a horribly underused and underestimated weapons system).

Mind you to a certain extent this represents the pattern of skill development in EVE in general. One starts off will few skills, one concentrates on getting some key ones up to snuff, and then one branches out, one branch at a time, each time adding more options to our pallet of ships to fly and things we're able to accomplish. The real kicker is that one must be careful of chasing the shiney. For example, if you've been reading this blog, you know my summer plan is diving into gettting: Large AC, Large Artillery, Torpedoes, Cruise Missiles, Heavy drones and sentries all up to T2 levels (get all the specialization skills involved to 4). After that there's plenty of other supporting skills I've worked on that I still need to get higher - and tanking skills and what not. The point here is that I've gotten all the frigate weapons skills to those equivalent levels already. I'm finishing off the cruiser weapons right now and I'm restraining myself from diving into BS weaponry until the cruiser stuff is completed to the level I'm aiming for.

Notice I didn't say finished - good lord there's a lot of skills to get to level 5 if I wanted to do that. But either way the point here is that I am making sure I can fly cruisers and battlecruisers properly BEFORE I head off and get the BS up to snuff. I've said it before and I'll say it again: It's better to fly a frigate very well than to get into a battleship before you have the skills to fly it correctly. Too many players go way too quickly into the larger ships. Usually to the detriment of their PvP abilities. Ask Cosmik, Teister or Quebnaric, At one point Coz's skills were WAY lower than most other pilots in BOZO, but from my understanding there were few pilots who were as good at tackle and frigate work. One of the major reasons? He stayed working on his frigate and general skills way longer than most pilots do. And once he did get into cruisers he had plenty of backing skills to slap the cruiser specific skills on and make those ships work.

One of the big problems with EVE is that for the most part PVE is way too easy at the various levels. They give you no clue that you're horribly under skilled in reality since they are so easy. About the only NPCs that provide a "skill check" are the sleepers. The reality is that the core game-play in EVE is PvP. Everything else is in support of this. There is also the problem that the AI on most PvE encounters is criminally stupid.

Suggestion that CCP will never go for:

How to improve the AI and make it more realistic and challenging:

1) design each encounter with a "breaking point" where the NPCs will try to get the fuck out of dodge. THIS NEEDS TO INCLUDE MISSION OBJECTIVE SHIPS!!!

2) give them the "squadron" AI of the sleepers. Make sure the AI does concentration of fire and knows to target the drones. This would solve a lot of those AFK Dominix macro issues.

3) Balancing this: Up the bounties a bit (scenario dependent) since depending on the design of the encounter some to a percentage of ships will be getting away.

The main reason for this is that one of the features of PvP is that when you do have the upper hand you need to make sure your targets don't escape. Current PvE does not reflect this reality. It bloody well should. This "breaking point" can be applied at the scenario level or at the NPC squadron level (when there are obviously different squadrons on the field). For advanced scenarios have 2 levels: "break off" and "flee". When a squadron hit "break off" level, any ship that comes under fire will warp off, but then warp back to another squadron member (if they can). When at "flee", they will leave the scenario never to come back. ex: squadron of 4 ships - after the first is killed, they go into "break off" mode, when there is only one ship left - it will flee the scenario not to come back.

Why they will never go for this: CCP see the PvE game play as simply a way to fund the PvP, not as a training ground for PvP. They don't want it to take too long or be too challenging. As such they are unlikely to want to make things more difficult (even if doing so would make things more difficult for the macro'ers).


Tom Hoffman said...

I would say that the successful addition of Sleeper AI makes it seem at least plausible that the regular rat AI would be raised to at least that level.

Anonymous said...

100% Agree here Let. I'm living proof of the problems you've mentioned.

Being a fairly carebare-esque player (not necessarily by choice)my main source of income has always been mining and missioning. Being that as it may I needed to get to Level 4 missions, and their larger payout, sooner rather than later. Thus I trained up to fly a BS as quick as possible. This allowed me to tackle Lvl4's easily and I jumped into training all Shield Tank skills (Caldari pilot).

Yet if I were to fly in ANY PVP scenario, I'd be eaten alive. Precisely as you pointed out.

To remedy this I'm finishing up some advanced training skills and then jumping into "fixing" my frigate skills and will move up from there.

Great insight as always!

Unknown said...

While I agree that the Sleeper AI adds more challenge to the PvE encounters in WH space, and adding similar AI to empire space encounters would be a nice enhancement... I'm doing to disagree completely with having ships warp away when they're injured being at all desirable from a gameplay standpoint in missions.

PvE and PvP are fundamentally different directions in gameplay, and while some of the skills match up, PvE is not and should never be a 'training ground for PvP'. It's a different way to play the game, with different goals. And while Eve is fundamentally a great game because of its focus on PvP, it's not for everyone and alienating those folks who like to run missions for a variety of reasons just because 'I have to deal with people warping away when I do what I do, so should everyone' is BS.

Yes, we should make the game harder for macroers or otherwise find good ways to remove them from the game. But not at the expense of those players who enjoy the somewhat more relaxing experience that is PvE combat, and certainly not such that I have to get within warp disruptor range of everything I fight while I'm running missions. That sounds like a great way to increase the tedium of mission running to stupendous heights, all to train a skill you'll pick up in 30 seconds the first time you're winning a battle in PvP.

Letrange said...

@James based on fights I've been in with relatively competent FCs and what not, I beg to disagree There have been too many times where there was a failure to tackle. That if that "pick up in 30s" was true, that would not have been the case. People get lazy and it needs to be reinforced. Also one man's tedium is another man's challenge. I find that CCP set the bar too low in the PvE side of things altogether. Mind you I'm willing to recognize that this is one of those "different strokes for different folks" things and respect your opinion. We'll just have to agree to disagree on that point.

OkamiKurai said...

I basically agree with James. I like how many that play PvP exclusively seem as though (at least from different comments I have read in blogs) everyone else should play the way they do.

Doesn't that go against the sandbox freedom that attracts most all of us to the game in the first place??

I, as of now, run level 4s in a Myrmidon - hey I'm tryin' to save that isk. I can't remember the name of the mission where the objective ship to kill was an ubertanked (for a mission) Raven. I am trying to imagine now having to have someone else run with me now to tackle it. Or even worse, it now warping off just as I break its tank. That's not training, that's tedious as all hell.

Not that I don't like your idea at all. Missioning for me is, as for most, a way to support PvP. It does get boring.

Maybe just changing a few missions to be more of what you're talking about could be just the thing. That way, I can just decline if I am uninterested or just wanting to blitz a mission or two.

But honestly, does running a PvP setup in a mission alone make it PvP training?? I don't think so. No matter how good the AI is, nothing beats the unpredictability of playing other people (or at least potential unpredictability).

Letrange said...

I don't disagree that PvP is more challenging, I'm adressing the fact that the current PvE leaves player woefully unprepared for the real thing. Tutorials won't fix this. It's too soon - they should be for learning the game mechanics - not trying to teach someone to PvP. What I'm suggesting will at least do two things a) get people used to a fit closer to PvP than is currently aimed for in PvE (aim to be able to PvP badly instead of not at all). And b) get people used to the ebb and flow of a typical small gang PvP action.

Anonymous said...

Why not have a middle ground? PvE that's meant only to fund PvP, and then PvE that's meant to act as a training ground?

OkamiKurai said...

Ok I like both your comments...

Michael, in the end, I think because that would make the most sense and therefore just simply can't be done (it is too easy or obvious or both) ^_^

I actually really like the idea of a new set of missions set to be for PvP/PvP training.

Would that work for you, Letrange??

Toldain said...

Mission ships don't run away, but I've run into belt rats that have. It was quite a shocker, actually.

EVE is all about asymmetry. Asymmetric conflict. Mission runners don't fit tackle, instead, they fit for cap stability, or active tank (shield or armor, depending on race).

Active tank doesn't work in PvP, it's too easy to get your tank taken out by a neut. And nobody worries about cap stability, the fights aren't generally going to last long enough.

Which means that the pve'ers are fitted in a way that gives them a disadvantage when fighting PvP. But they can kill rats, or mission ships, all day. It's a scissors, paper rock thing.

Letrange said...

@OkamiKurai: nope, wouldn't bother me at all. So long as rewards scale with difficulty - Level 4s as they currently are are just way too rewarding for the low level of difficulty.

@Toldain: the other thing is that by making sure that the PvE pilots are not fit for PvP combat it provides a steady stream of easy targets for the PvP'ers. This is probably intentional and by design.

Timothy Roy said...

Lot of discussion on this one. I was going to leave a monster message, but I turned it into a blog. *Gasp*

It can be found here:

The tl;dr version is, "Don't change things that aren't what you think is perfect in EVE, add something NEW in that you think IS perfect."

After-all, isn't that what the sandbox is good for?

Logan Fyreite said...

I think PvP and PvE are too disjointed to be connected in any current form. The idea of instanced combat or combat zones as put forth my Minuit has some merit, but I would hate to see instanced combat like that put in place in eve.

Tackling rats would make sense if everyone just wanted to pvp. As it stands now, not even Sleepers warp out. I think the PvE route goes from highsec NPCs and mission NPCs out to Sleepers in WH's. PvP doesn't follow that paradigm, and just like a noob running missions a noob pvper has to be taught by someone. Expecting a training path without human interaction is leading down a bad road. Things could be even worse when players come out to pvp from learning how to pve, and thinking they know what the hell they are doing in combat from the pve, only to find out that PvP is radically different. It always would be.

tl:dr -> Fail tackle is fail and needs more training, it is up to us and our crew to take these aspiring PvPers under our wings, like carebears do with their mini-bears and teach them the tricks of the trade. Include accountability, so when they miss the tackle they know they did something wrong and make them understand the ridicule they get for that is their punishment.

Benoit CozmikR5 Gauthier said...

Wow! Thanks for the shout-out :)

Yeah, to make things in perspective, there were people getting into battleships and my cruiser skills weren't quite up to snuff, but on the other hand I could fly a mean interceptor. and even before I got comfy in those I blew up a LOT of Rifters!

The way I see it, you have to make a ship sing before you get into something bigger.

And as for PvP mission mechanics, yeah, we need those day before yesterday. Sitting in space tanking while killing mindless rats does little to show what the ships of EVE can do.

Unknown said...

@COZMIK: "The way I see it, you have to make a ship sing before you get into something bigger." Been trying to get this across to two noobs in militia recently /me facepalms

@LETRANGE: Talking about fail tackle, when your harbinger pilots are fitting 3 sensor boosters in fleets then you know something is wrong.

I agree, PVE does need a shakeup and Sleeper AI is a possible solution, allowing MWD usage in all locations would also help, granted mid-slot and speed tankers would have some issues with tackle fits but PVE needs to, at some point help players HTFU, if they're serious about learning skills associated with PVP.

I'll leave the details to the people in the know, but do look forward to a day when a pilot joins fleet and knows how to tackle well despite his age.

Mat Westhorpe said...

I'm pretty sure I recall an Apocrypha-related devblog stating that they intended to start allowing the then new Sleeper AI to creep across into standard mission NPC behaviour. On some occasions I have seen an increased focus on drones, but I'm uncertain if it was hard-coded into the mission.

Unknown said...

From my early days, as a drone specialist, I can't in good conscience endorse the suggestions made in your blog. Drone aggro is the single most annoying mission obstacle for a droner. Rats don't always behave in the way you expect. They shift aggro at times and new spawns almost always go after your boys. Imagine if your target could shoot your projectiles out of the vacuum before impact, a la defender missiles. How frustrating would that be? Gallente already don't get much love in the PvP arena. I would be forever troubled to see the Domi, Myrm, Ishtar, and Vexor some of the most reviled ships in the game. I'm actually one of those crazies that have been asking for more drone mods beyond the DLA, Sentry Drone Optimization and Omni Tracking, specifically a low slot that enhances damage like the Magstab.

I do agree that training cadets for PvP is a must to have in any alliance. The most successful ones have a starter corp that will train the new flyboys, not only telling them what skills they need, but how to listen and use fleet comms. This is ultimately from where the instruction of the nuances of the game must come. AI code cannot impart the knowledge and instinct required for fleet warfare, both small and large.