Monday, June 15, 2015

“Accept Fleet Warp.” Not So Fast…

With CCP’s announcement that they’ll be limiting the ability of FCs and probers to warp fleets to only those destinations that fleet members could reach themselves, I’ve been thinking a lot about why this idea frustrates me so much.  And I think I have a couple answers to it.

Players and commentators have said CCP is trying to force players to think for themselves more, and to take a more active role in fleet battles.  The narrative expressed by these players is that CCP is upset about “F1 fleets” and wants to engage players more in large fleet fights.

Unfortunately, while this is a pretty theory, I have a hard time believing this is really CCP’s goal.  This change only has the effect of limiting overall tactical options without having any effect at all on player involvement.  CCP didn’t make the change so that individual fleet members have to actively and intentionally warp to, say, a probe scan result.  No, this change will permit no one to warp to the probe scan result except the prober.  This is a downright removal of warping fleets on top of an enemy fleet.

(Side note: yes, this is eliminating the option entirely.  The window for landing on an enemy fleet is frustratingly narrow, and the delay it takes for a prober to warp cloaked towards an enemy fleet, maneuver into position to allow his fleet to warp to him, then for the FC to initiate warp is ruinous and cuts out 90% of fleet warping opportunities.  Previously, a friendly fleet could be in warp about 12 seconds after probes hit dscan.  Now, the length will be closer to 30 seconds.  This is a stab to the heart of on-grid maneuvering as well; sell your Tornados now.)

A set of changes intended to increase activity of line members would be to allow probers to “broadcast” their scan results similar to a cyno, and force individual fleet members to manually warp to that broadcast.  This would preserve tactical options, but still require fleet members to be active and paying attention.  But this isn’t the route CCP took.  Instead, let’s just remove any tactical bouncing, warping on enemy fleets or tactical repositioning as a whole, m’kay?  Easier, and all.

Let’s look at who suffers the most from these changes… multi-corporation fleets (and if CCP finally gets around to introducing alliance bookmarks, it’ll be punishing only multi-alliance fleets)… sniper gangs… fleets warping on top of and repositioning themselves… “hunter” fleets trying to destroy an enemy fleet.  Who isn’t harmed?  Fleets that seek to control specific areas of space… defense fleets… slower, stationary fleets… armor fleets.

If anything, this change reduces the ability of a smaller fleet to take on a larger fleet, as those smaller fleets almost always need to rely on speed, quick repositioning, and precise, fast warp-ins to do their damage.  With all the changes to fleet warfare in FozzieSov, CCP looked poised to want to bring back small gang battles, yet this change completely undercuts that by eliminating agility and tactical positioning from the bank of available tools.  Why would they do this?

Further, this change is a direct attack on content enablers, the players who enable and amplify the experience of other players.  And, lest we forget, these players are in the group CCP Seagull stood up on stage and identified as the very players CCP wanted to help unleash.  Something has clearly been lost in translation here.

A few players have countered this concern by saying, “Well, it’ll force line players to learn and do more.”  But this is a deeply flawed argument that equates to, “Most players would rather let someone else do this work for X effort and Y value, so let’s push the enablers out and make the players do it for themselves for 2X effort for Y value!”  I don’t think that will happen, but maybe I failed algebra.  Oh, wait, I didn’t…

I’m all for “teach a man to fish”, but that model assumes one key component: that the person needs fish (food) to survive.  We aren’t in the real world, and every player has the option of starving – deciding to go elsewhere.

This change eliminates complex tactical and fleet positioning options without adding anything of value back.  If its goal is to make fleet members more active, I fail to see how this will happen.  The locations an FC can warp members to will be exactly the same as those a fleet member can warp him/herself to.

I confess I don’t understand why this is suddenly such an issue.  I’m also confused as to how eliminating the ability for a prober to relay probe results to a fleet via fleet warp, or for an FC to issue a command to warp an entire fleet to his personal bookmark, will help anything at all.  CCP is solving a problem that doesn’t exist.  That it also will drastically reduce the advantage of small nano gangs and effectively curtail the variety of tactical warp-ins is what really spoils it for me.

Maybe it’s me, but I’m seeing that concurrent user count continue to plummet in the USTZ when it should be peaking in anticipation for the opportunities FozzieSov will bring.


  1. I also had that "broadcast" idea you brought up to preserve tactical options. Even mailed the CSM about it. Got no reply. Your speculations might be on to something...

  2. Its just another stealth nerf to multiboxers.

  3. If they want players to be more engaged they should have removed fleet warp completely but allow broadcasting of bookmarks.

    Now they just made fleet warping slower.
    If getting into and dropping from warp wasn't so slow you could warp to a fleet member already in warp so you wouldn't have to warp that far the second time.

  4. You, as many others, seem to miss the point.
    Providing warpins is a very fun activity. but it is overshadowed by current fleetwarps and nearly useless as it is now.
    With the changes, an interceptor or cloaky frigate will be a very valuable asset.
    For a Pilot to help his fleet, he now needs low training time required and only 30mil for a a fitted fast ship.
    I dont say its easy, there is communication and other skills required. But Eve is hard. If its getting harder, well.... even better.
    I am predicting, that Corporations are going to need more pilots and not only SP-heavy scanning alts And that, i believe, is a good thing for the health of a game.

    1. EVE getting harder is a good thing only if harder also means more fun. This doesn't make PVP more fun just more tedious and makes the FC's job more annoying. This will reduce the number of FC's willing to lead fleets, which will reduce the amount of content being provided which will cause more people to leave the game from boredom. Thus... not a good thing for the health of the game.

      Saying "EVE is harder GOOD" is a bit like wearing blinders while playing with grenades.

    2. Well said. Too often, the "L337 sKILLz" group wants an increased difficulty to give themselves a better advantage, but that strategy only results in fewer pilots to shoot and fewer players.

      I snapped a screenshot of sub-18,989 logged in users on the start screen yesterday at 10:00 pm Eastern time. That concerns me.

    3. "sub-18,989 logged in users"... and?

      What exactly is concerning about that level of players?

      You're throwing out a 'concerning' statistic. Where has EVE been previously? Last year's peak concurrent users was 57k. It happened in February. On the same day (roughly) in 2015, it was 43k. I'm not sure that Eastern time is peak hours for EVE.

      My point is: Summer has come. People are getting out and doing other stuff, even EVE nerds :P

      Finally, I saw that you linked this 'concerning' statistic in Sugar's blog with the idea that people preparing for Pheobe have gone inactive. I have some news: that preparation is already done! The main force of 'people moving up and around' is finished.

      If you had CCP's internal numbers of 'active' and 'engaged' players, and they had slumped, I'd be more welcome to listen to you. As it is, throwing out a number and pronouncing doom makes you look like a maniac than an oracle.

      Rob K.

    4. I'll address this in another blog post, since the response will be too long for a comment. Great questions.

  5. I agree with your points. I think NPSI groups will be hard hit with this. The broadcast idea people have suggested seems to address the issue CCP wants to fix without breaking fleets as you point out.

  6. You really have no idea what you're talking about if you think small nano gangs ever use fleet warps, ever. Another article written by a guy that's never flown in half the fleets he talks about.

    Small nano gangs are flown independently, and will not be effected by this change. In fact, I would say it helps them, as they will almost certainly be able to catch more stragglers that aren't quick with the warp button.

    1. I'm not really going to point out my credentials, but here are two effective uses of fleet warp in small gang: 1) taking advantage of your faster speed to probe down perch points on a gate, warp your fleet to it, and quickly apply DPS to kill the target. 2) exploiting your speed advantage to separate indvidual members from a larger fleet and warp on top of them using probes and fleet warp, both when on-grid (drawing out tackle that can't quite keep up, so you can warp back to the heavier, slower ships) and off-grid (getting the tackle to chase you, then warping back on select targets as a group, rapidly applying your DPS, and getting off before the enemy tackle returns.

      Both tactics have netted me kills personally, and are effective for doing what small gangs do best - strike like lightning and get out before back-up arrives.

      And this change does nothing to cause "stragglers that aren't quick with the warp button". It doesn't force players to warp themselves at all; FCs can still warp pilots to all the places those pilots can warp themselves to. The objective of this change is not met by the content of this change.

    2. On-grid warps have also strangled entire categories of metas, confining beam lasers and cruise missiles to PVE (except for beams on small ships, and that only recently) and Rokhs to sitting in hangars. One of the reasons for the absolute dominance of Scorch in laser boats is that it is as good or better than beam lasers at <150km ranges, and the superior range of beams beyond that is irrelevant if you can warp a pile of blaster boats, or worse, bombers, on top of them within seconds.

      The word "content" is poison, because it flattens all possible outcomes to "hey, something blew up!" Fine, but at what cost to the overall game?

    3. That's a good point, that we're reacting to what exists today and what may happen tomorrow based on these changes. It's easy to forget about all the valuable gameplay that was left on the side of the road miles back. We can't forget the good things that we've lost, and should look to recover them.

      On the other hand, we have to be careful that the "purity of the game" is still engaging. But you raise a very good point.

    4. I think the 'meta-effects' of this change are the big over-looked factor here.

      This change brings back sniper tier 3 battlecruisers after everyone stopped using them after the warp acceleration/inty changes.

      It also nerfs bombers.

      It also encourages interceptor pilots who can do warp-ins.

      I agree that there should be something for people who use bookmarks as a way of life, such as wormholers. For those people this is a major quality of life change and there should be a tweak to reduce that.

  7. None of your arguments are convincing to me. This one in particular is strange:
    "If anything, this change reduces the ability of a smaller fleet to take on a larger fleet, as those smaller fleets almost always need to rely on speed, quick repositioning, and precise, fast warp-ins to do their damage." First of all, the same need for mobility applies to larger fleets. On the current system, though, small and large fleets have no difference in mobility due to the fact that fleet warp allows one player to control the mobility of X other players. The ability to warp fleets to any location means that mobility comes down primarily to the responsiveness of the FC. This means that even if the small gang is filled with 10 AT pilots, while the enemy fleet is filled with 99 less experienced players but 1 good FC with a scanning alt, those 10 small gang pilots no longer have the advantage of mobility on the 100 due to the fact that the FC can in one major way actually pilot all 99 of his/her fleet members' ships, warping everyone on grid or off grid to the location of the 10. In fact, this means CCP should remove fleet warp altogether. An FC cannot align his/her fleet for them, or activate their guns for them, or activate gate for them, etc., so why should a single person be able to control X other players when it comes to warping?

    1. I'm all for eliminating fleet warp entirely, provided that individuals gain the ability to warp to 1) scan results broadcasted by probers, 2) bookmarks broadcasted by FCs or others in an appropriate role (Squad 2 could warp to Squad 2 Commander's BMs, Wing 2 cannot warp to Wing 1 Commander's bookmarks, etc.).

      By all means, require player action to comply with FC commands... but don't eliminate vital tools from the FC's playbook to do it.