At fanfest CCP Fozzie proposed a potential new ship class. Let’s call it the fleet commander’s flagship for now. This is to try and prevent “FC Headshotting” where the opposing fleet knows who the FC is and alpha’s them off the field leaving the rest of the fleet in confusion and disarray. Fozzie mentioned a ship with a great tank but no offensive abilities. Is this a good idea? Is FC head-shotting a legitimate tactic? If CCP do go down the route of a “flagship” how might this work? Also is a new ship the answer or is there another way of giving an FC the ability not to be assassinated 12 seconds into the fight without letting players exploit it?Boy, this question only scratches the surface of the deeper issue beneath it. Too often, we as commentators choose to focus purely on raw numbers. How many players live in high-sec vs. null? What's out average PCU? What's your killboard efficiency?
We're taught to think with mathematical efficiency. In school, we're taught to quantify and substantiate with X number of proof points or number of paragraphs. And too often, we try to port this tendency over to rhetorical arguments as well.
Put simply, we make the mistake of believing that the purpose of the argument is to make the more logical argument. This, as anyone knows, is foolish. Logic has little to do with human nature and the current of human passion. And far more aspects of this game are based on emotion, perception, and narrative than any of these writers would like to believe.
Then again, maybe I'm more of an adherent to the German philosophers than they are. Our world is "will and idea" more than it is fact. Facts fail to capture all the really exciting parts of life that make it worth living, and very rarely does the optimal or ideal mathematical, factually predicted result occur.
And that's the foundation of my pretty strong position on this point.
I "grew up" reading players like Ripard Teg and Gevlon Goblin try to quantify the health of the game, the relative importance of one statistic over the other, etc. While their analysis was insightful, ultimately, I always found their attempts to quantify misguided. At my heart, I'm far more Roman than American - numbers don't matter as much as quality.
Is it better to have 50,000 players logged into the game spending all their time in high-sec or market trading in station, or 10,000 players flying around in low, null, and WH space serving as high-likelihood content for each other? I'd always opt for the latter.
Nor am I going to spend any time blathering on about this group or that group having X number of new players joining their ranks as a sign of their war supremacy. Grasping at that stat is a sign of desperation, not confidence. This just in... the winning side in an Eve war attracts a bunch of "dead weight" who want to benefit from null space without really contributing much.
Statistics can be twisted to any real purpose. To understand the reality of a thing, you need to get a feel for it and understand what really matters, then look at that. You want to know which area of space you should pay attention to? What do people talk about the most? If you see no chatter about a mechanic, there's a reason for it (hint; "those players just aren't social" ain't it...). If one side is losing all it's space, they're losing, pure and simple.
So, it's with that background that I say - as I've said in the past - that some players are more important to the gameworld than others. Philosophically, these players - FCs, alliance logistics teams, doctrine managers, diplomats, POS fuelers, industrialists - need to be cultivated and listened to more than others. While a random player (like me) is responsible for his/her own subscription(s), these content generators listed above not only own their own subscriptions, but also heavily enable others, which significantly influences their subscriptions too.
There's a reason Roman generals would get very upset at the loss of centurions, but not front line soldiers. There's a reason the captain, navigator, quatermaster, doctor, and carpenter received extra shares of booty on pirate ships. There's a reason executives make more money than specialists (sorry, 99%ers...).
Philosophically, it's important to ensure that these players can continue to exert their influence on the game, on their alliances, and even on battles. That argument supports the need for a flagship class in Eve. Headshotting puts an end to fleet battles, in some cases before they even begin, which stifles engagement, enjoyment, and the duration of fleet actions.
Now, this might sound like a frustrating tactic for a fleet when fighting a good FC. But I urge you to elevate your thinking to encompass both sides. Take yourself out of your one-fleet mentality and consider the overall engagement. Evenly matched wars are the most engaging ones, resulting in regular and frequent fleets, lots of destruction, satisfaction for all involved, and fun for a period of time. From CCP's perespective, they also keep players logged in, playing actively, and paying their subscriptions. One-sided slaughters tend to reduce overall logins, which hurts everyone.
So, from the perspective of considering an entire grid as a source of entertainment, it benefits everyone for those sources to be rich veins, not shallow outcroppings. Enhancing FC survivability does exactly that.
Yes, we'd have to keep the bonus to the ship (so the player is just another player when he/she flies as a fleet member), and we'd have to limit it to a single ship per fleet, or perhaps per alliance in space at one time (now that'd be grand!) as a way to prevent abuse. But consider what we'd gain - the ability for an alliance FC to maintain the same mobility as the rest of his fleet with the advantage of a huge ehp benefit, which would allow that FC to coordinate a very difficult job for longer.
The biggest downside is against groups who depend on headshotting, and even that downside will be mitigated by them being forced to improve.
But, will this ever truly come to pass?
For it to do so requires not only CCP, but the community to recognize and accept the fact that all players are not equal. That they don't equally contribute to the gameworld and that the differences in that contribution should warrant some consideration. That's a hard truth to accept in our modern age, despite the fact that it's obvious evidence. Perception, after all, creates reality, and we're very good and ignoring perceptions when they're inconvenient.
Now, I did mention that word multiple times... "philosophically". While I like the idea of helping improve the survivability of FCs, I can't say I've spent all my time thinking of ways it could be abused. What's to prevent a one-man fleet from fling a flagship into a FW plex and obliterating an entire fleet? Should there be a minimum fleet size requirement? If so, doesn't that counter the push towards smaller fleet sizes to allow smaller alliances to compete against the behemoths? How do you balance out all the factors to prevent their use in small gang action (or, do you?) or solo action, yet still make them viable in large fleets?
I don't know the answer to that, so I can't say I can fully endorse the application of the idea, even if the theory of the idea seems to make a lot of sense. But I have my doubts on whether it'll ever see Tranquility; it has too many implications that lead to uncomfortable places, and could potentially result in a lot of balance issues.