Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Hyperion Wormhole Changes

As promised, I wanted to give a few thoughts about the new wormhole changes being launched in the Hyperion patch.

But first… CCP: can you please stop reusing the same names?  It’s really hard to have T3s and Tier 3s, Hyperion and Kronos the ships and Hyperion and Kronos the expansions… let’s be unique, shall we?

Anyways… There are a few changes which I think can safely pass without too much comment.  The adjustments to WH effects, for instance, will be quickly adapated to by the WH community – the only disruption we should see is a few lossmails from people who haven’t yet figured out exactly how much of an effect these changes will have.

Likewise, the new BM copying is a desperately overdue mechanic.  When I transferred bookmarks to my new character, it took an hour to fully pull everything over.  Ridiculous.  Anything that can be done to make what is essentially X:Y:Z coordinates in given systems load faster is overdue.

But those are the easy ones.  Slightly more controversial is the increase in spawn distance from the mouth of a wormhole.  I personally love this change.  I’ve written already how I foresee little change to how people roll wormholes.  Since rolling holes is already done in a single over-and-back jump anyways (otherwise, polarization), I don’t think this will do anything to reduce or slow rolling holes – and that’s a good thing.  Besides, it only seems fair that people jumping WHs should face the same risk as people using gates as they burn back to “safety” in case of attack.  Moreover, if you look at the physics of it, it only makes sense to be deposited beyond the gravity well of the wormhole. 

In fact, as I write this, I can think of an even more interesting mechanic… it’d actually be a nice addition if, when you come within 5,000 km of the WH, your ship will be pulled into it at an increasily rapid speed as you approach 0.  When you reach 0, you have no choice but to jump.  This would not only reflect the gravity well, but it’d also create some interesting gameplay mechanics as ships wouldn’t be able to sit at 0 on the other side of the wormhole (unless they were polarized already).  Did the enemy fleet spawn on the opposite side of the WH?  You better circle around it unless you want to be pulled through.

For a dissenting opinion, take a read at Interstellar Privateer’s interpretation of this change.  It’s a well-reasoned argument that WH space is something different, and should remain so.  Plus, he makes a good point on battles happening right on holes.  Being a null-sec based guy, I tend to think more of lightning raids than hole battles, so the linked argument is certainly deserving of your time for the opposite perspective.  One could even make a strong argument that the opinions of WH residents matter more than the opinions of WH visitors.

Anyways, back to the topic…

C4s are getting another static, which pretty much ensures two things: 1) everyone will hope their static has a C4 connection to serve as a junction system, and 2) no one will ever live in a C4 again.  Just look at real life.  Everyone wants to live near the freeway; no one wants to live on the freeway.

In WH space, “wormhole control” refers to being aware of and being able to regulate who passes through WHs to a given system.  For your home WH, you want to immediately close any WHs except for your static hole so there’s only one way in and out of your system.  If you find that your static isn’t particularly well-connected or isn’t interesting, you can roll it and another static will open within a minute or so.  If you face invasion, your forward scouts can be recalled and you can roll your static as well, cutting you off from attack.  When you’re invading another system, you first want to maintain control of the WH to ensure that no one is able to lock you out by rolling the static connecting you to their system.

Maintaining WH control is much more difficult when you have two statics to monitor; C4s generally have statics to other C4s, as well, so each link of the chain compounds the problem of being able to control who comes into your system.  With this change, the second C4 static (which hopefully varies in type from hole to hole) will increase this risk exponentially.  Don’t even think about going out in a C4 in a mining or ratting ship unless you thrive on absolute uncertainty or are baiting someone.

The final change ties into this same problem, to an unknown degree.  The smaller, regenerating WHs that have very low mass restrictions should provide some interesting gameplay options.  Being practically impossible to close (unless you have tremendous numbers, and WH corps/alliances generally don’t), these “capillary” WHs will add to the overall risk factor for living in WHs, particularly against interceptor gangs, which are still a thing despite my best efforts to stamp them out.  They’ll certainly make it more difficult to safely rat and mine in WH space, but they should also allow gangs to sneak into system much more effectively.

I’m not sure how effect those gangs can be in PvP, though.  Wormhole ratters tend to play with T3s or carriers – and officer-fit at that – so even large AF gangs will have a hard time fighting them successfully.  On the other hand, finding one of these capillaries would help with offensive operations – all you need is one prober in system to fish out the entire chain and provide multiple avenues for a friendly invasion force to access the hole. 

How much of an effect these new wormholes will have will depend on how frequently they spawn.  We hear “more holes”… does that mean 1 more hole every 4 hours, or that the average number of WHs spawning in each system will be 5-6?  Until we see that, we’re going to be missing a big chunk of the story.

I very much tend to think these changes are all peripheral changes to the core issue affecting WHs: the poor POS mechanics that force WH corps to both be highly selective (ie. exclusionary) and face constant awoxing and theft.  We need new POS mechanics, and these changes appear to be an attempt to toss some attention to the things that are working well enough already in the interest of appearing to “work on the problems”.  If this is the only attention WHs are going to get, we’re going to hear a collective groan and a few quiet sobs from the WH community.

I hope, though, that this is just the low-hanging fruit while the developers dig deeply into the underlying POS code.

I hope.  Maybe?

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