Friday, August 14, 2015

... And Then It Got Worse

Boy, I can sure pick the times to be away from the game, can’t I?  Or rather, my laptop can (status update: still waiting on Best Buy, whereas Amazon got me my components in two days.  No wonder why BB is dying).

First, we had jump fatigue.  While we had some change aversion, it also brought very real frustration from logistics and industry pilots, as well as the penalty to subcap movement  when one wasn't needed.  And yet, it did accomplish the Balkanization of supercaps, which was a very good – and necessary – thing for the game.  Lowsec entities, in particular, cheered the changes.

Then, we had FozzieSov.  At first, the system was very bad, then it improved as CCP released revisions, and then it launched and sapped the soul right out of every defender.  The process as structured isn’t working as intended.  One of CCP’s stated goals – a noble one – was to make the results of sov battles more accurately reflect control of the grid.  CCP envisioned small gangs holding the line and killing cross-entosis ships, with ECM battles and a delicate interplay of various factors as forces jockeyed for control.  In reality, we got lone trolls and piles of nodes attackers never intended on contesting.  

And then, apparently the developers went on vacation right after releasing FozzieSov.

Now, I recognize the allure of a vacation after a long project, but I submit that it’s probably not wise to do so when you’re irrevocably changing one of your core offerings.  Please keep this in mind for the new AI methodology, or PvE players are going to throw a fit.

FozzieSov completely misread the situation on the ground.  Many of the alliances who had been pushed out of sov came back as members of the remaining coalitions.  Others moved on, spreading beyond the obligations of the sov game.  Many players also simply just left the game.  They tried it, and they were bludgeoned by those who could commit more time, were better organized, or more motivated.  There was no middle ground – either you’re the best, or you’re dead.  And when you fail utterly at something (or appear to), it tends to sour you to the prospect of it in the future.  The assumption that Eve had dozens of groups just yearning to commit themselves 24/7 to sov seems to have proven… well, let’s be polite and say, “optimistic”.  It’s all fine to compress empires, but you need bodies to step into the void, bodies willing to put themselves between those empires as punching bags.  Anyone?  Anyone?

These were miscalculations.  FozzieSov flopped from a few key product perspectives.  It decreased satisfaction among existing users (null players).  Poor word-of-mouth discouraged new users from adopting it.  Those who were engaged with the system were excited for engagement-negative reasons: they wanted to burn down someone else’s holdings out of passion, but had no intention of replacing those holdings with something of their own.  FozzieSov became an exposed weakness unique to those who had the courage to give the system a try, a punishment to those who gave it a shot.

But all of that can be fixed.  It’s certainly not too late, and I was happily seeing player counts increase again until my computer died last week.  CCP still has people’s attention, and that’s all that’s required to successfully introduce fixes.  Frustration represents passion thwarted.  So, just un-thwart it.

And then, the round table happened… and about a million posts on reddit expressing frustration about it.  Over on his blog, Endie nobly places blame on the CSM, of which he’s a part, for failing to set expectations properly.  I’m not sure that’s the issue.  I respect what the CSM tried to do by facilitating a conversation directly between the players and the developers.  That’s their role, and I’m not going to slam them for trying to fulfill it.  Good on you for giving it a shot.  Sure, they could have limited the comments about FozzieSov more, but that’s not really the point, is it?

The fault lies with having this conversation about a frustrating but manageable mechanic (it’s colloquially called “space AIDS”) a month after a colossally soul-sucking sov system was announced that has infuriated current null owners.  “Hey, guys, now that our team absolutely fell flat in the playoffs and several members gave the finger to the fans who dared to boo them, we’d like to have a round table fan discussion about this past year’s trade deadline strategy.”  I wonder how that conversation will go.

Why couldn’t this conversation happen two months ago?  From a Marketing perspective, it SHOULD have happened before Fozziesov to separate feelings about the two topics and prevent any spoiling of the well.  For it to happen now suggests – suggests, as I don’t believe it’s true! – that CCP is deaf to the frustration of sov players.

The Summer of Rage happened because CCP wasn’t making improvements to the players’ game, was adding new features that fell short of expectations, and was launching outrageously expensive glamour objects.  People flipped out even though their playing experience was exactly the same.

And now we have FozzieSov and fatigue degrading the quality of the most organized group of players’ daily game experience, new features which serve to actually create more headaches for sov and asset owners (destructible stations), and dozens of new skins coming out to suck up more isk/aurum.  This time, the daily, individual experience of players is declining.

And that’s why you get reactions like you saw this week.  It’s not the CSM’s fault for failing to set expectations.  There’s a gulf between CCP’s perception that player frustration is ephemeral and null players’ increasing realization that the sov game isn’t worth participating in anymore.

Based on the number of comments I’ve seen – and continue to see – about how “FozzieSov is unfun”, I think it’s safe to say player frustration isn’t ephemeral, but endemic of the new sov system as it’s currently structured.  The only way it’s going to go away is by driving out players who would complain.  And that’s no real solution.

It can be tweaked.  Like a cyno, making the entosising ship immobile, yet able to still get reps.  Make it require a fleet to defend it as it does its work.  Give defenders the obligation to respond in force, yet also the promise of content once they engage.  Eliminate the incentives to be a troll and increase the incentives for roaming gangs to move together and actually “control the grid”.  Players want to know that they their response fleet arrives, it’ll see some action.  Give it to them.  Eliminate the soul-sucking.

Because without changing something, neither will the results.


  1. Or maybe, just maybe, make the null sec game one of true occupancy, like the lead architect of this mess suggested in his last blog post 9 months ago.

    But he would hate my idea. How that that null sec control system work? In the purest form. Simply remove sov completely from the game. You want to mine or rat in a system? No problem, just be prepared to defend your fleet of ships. You want to put up a station anywhere. OK, but when the big boys come calling, make sure you have the firepower and friends.

    In the real world, borders and resources are ultimately defined by the ability of the "sov holder" to defend their own territory, or have enough allies willing to help out. If "Eve is real", why should it be any different?

    If I want to ninja mine or rat or set up a POS in space the goons think they own, then goons had better have a group on Coast Guard duty.

    1. Worthwhile thought. 0% Sov security is better than the -50% Sov security we have now.

    2. There reason there is -50% sov security is obviously twofold. One has been addressed and I can agree with: Trolls in Entosis-Ceptors.
      The other is just the pure unwillingness that "some/many/just the whiners/insert reference to an amount of people here" have to actually play the role of a coast guard.

      I see two possible solutions to the second point; either A) you need to recruit people who WILL want to take on this role, or B) adapt a portion of your current membership to take on this role.
      How many people is really needed to take on a few trolls in ceptors anyway? It can't be that much....Meanwhile the rest of your members can be elsewhere doing what they find fun.

      Hopefully in the long term, these lone troll entosis attacks will turn into actual fleet assaults on sov. With or without intent to eventually take control of what you are attacking, these would likely be much more enjoyable forms of content for both the defender and the attacker.

      I think this is what CCP is trying to accomplish, and while I don't believe they are quite there yet, I think they are on the right track. The main barrier of course, will be the players. Will they adapt to the changes in the way that CCP has probably forseen and create the new content for themselves that is sorely needed? Or will they remain stuck in their old ways and eventually burn out?

      FozzieSov is clearly telling Nullsec alliances that they now need to find that balance between those who desire the pve content (indexes), those who desire to be the "stay-at-home defense", and those who wish to go on the offensive.

      With change in warfare, you either adapt or die. It doesn't get any simpler then that. FozzieSov has thrown 0.0 a curve ball. Time for 0.0 to decide whether they want try to hit the ball or be struck out. The first ones to do so will probably be the ones who come out on top, and have the most fun as a result.

    3. Here's the problem, though.Null players start deciding, in sequence, A) This really sucks. B) It looks like the other guys are having fun. C) I'd rather be the pigeon than the car.

      Then, they leave sov null entirely.

      We shouldn't be trying to convert people into different fundamental game behaviors. We should be creating mechanics that fulfill and enrich the behaviors we see. Why? Because it's just as likely those disaffected players will just quit the game.

      Babysitting ratters is frustrating. There's a reason it didn't happen under Dominion. Capable PvPers want content that will challenge them. When the best "adaptation" for capable PvPers is to leave, you end up with a talent drain away from sov null.

      That's not the sign of a healthy null-sec. That's not what I want to see.

    4. I agree, but there are some people who might actually enjoy that kind of gameplay. Some might even be ratters/industrialists until the enemy shows up to ruin the day, at which point they undock in pvp ships and chase the invaders out. I had seen it plenty of times when I lived in Providence. In fact I was one of these people. They are out there. They do exists. So why not recruit them?

      The problem many of the current sov dwellers, at least the vocal ones, is that they are like you. They just want to undock and get into a fight. Now there is nothing wrong with this inherently, but change is happening whether they like it or not, and it is time to either adapt or find new ways to have their fun, like you did.

      Look at what you've done. You moved to lowsec and you're having fun. Nothing wrong with that. In fact I hope for more of your post about fights that excited you. That was a great read. If more people do this, then lowsec would become very lively indeed. Would this mean that sov space would become more and more empty? Maybe. But is that really a bad thing? Eventually someone new will come along with asperations to try sov. And you know what, they'll have the option to do so as space will be available.

      And who knows, maybe more and more people moving to lowsec or npc nullsec will cause CCP to revisit their changes. It's to early to tell exactly what the final outcome of all of this will be, as the changes haven't finished occuring yet. The only certainty is that change is going to happen. There is lots to do in this game. Lots of ways to be entertained. The old sov system wasn't for everyone, and the new one isn't either. But that is ok, because players will always find a way to create content, regardless of where they live.

  2. First, I know that nothing I say will change anyones mind, this is just my .02. I'm also saddened that the incessant whining and criticizing does NOTHING to make EVE better or to bring new players in.

    You think that CCP should continue to pander to the bittervets who log in 2x weekly, afk rat for a few hours while watching OITNB, pocket a couple billion isk, then log off... seriously? "Eliminate the incentives to be a troll"... but only in Nullsec? Gib me eezy monies and ping me if anything is going on.
    Why do players believe that Null is sacred ground of some sort? Vast areas of space controlled by people who rarely even jump through the region, and complained often and loudly that they were bored?
    I'm happy to see CCP leveling the Null playing field. Those who have been reaping vast rewards for years suddenly have to put a little effort into it. Oh, the horror. Open the unused space to those who will use it. Sov shouldn't be easy, it should require great effort and expense to maintain. As the frantic whining fades with time, I have no doubt that the trolls will recede and organized efforts will be more common. The idea is already there, it just needs time to germinate. It will start the same way that PL, BL, Goons, and all the others started - with a small group testing the waters, then venturing in deeper and deeper, and growing, until one day they are contenders. I'll be there and I know we will have content.
    No game "owes" it's subscribers anything. Play as long as you want, quit when you want and the game will continue. One day, the game will go away. It's inevitable. Those of us who love this game will play as long as we're able, until life forces changes that take us in different directions. I've been there before, but I'm back now. Change is also inevitable.

    1. I'm not disagreeing with anything you've said. However, consider this:

      Right now, to play the lowsec game, you can day-trip to any other area of space. You can even be gone for a week or so, yet still be as dominant in that part of the game.

      In WH space, groups tend to hunt by exploring thier chains for all kinds of exits - low, null, and WH - looking for targets. They can interact with all areas of space as they still engage in their primary playstyle.

      In both cases, those attacking your resources need to commit significant resources (fleets) or time (seeding capitals covertly into your WH) to attack you.

      And yet, with FozzieSov, null alliances are forced to spend all their time in that single, small patch of space. Even a roam 20 jumps through enemy space can leave your force unable to defend yourself. You have no choice but to stay around your space all the time to be ready to repel any possible entosis attempt. For, if you fail, you have to deal with a bunch of capture events, which further locks you in that area of space.

      In all other areas of space, you may need to spend 70% in your home. In null, it's not 99% (with the other 1% logistics pilots supplying the rest).

      I'm all for vulnerability. I'm not for locking players in a few specific systems if they have any desire to hold it. Why? Because the natural decision will be to give up that sov and enjoy themselves instead. And that's not a good system.

  3. 1) Even if activating an Entosis operates similar to a Cyno, you will see trollceptors get up to full speed right before the range, activate it, drift out of range, and continue their trolling. Until CCP learns how to stop this drift (make the ship stop on a dime, literally) this tactic will be abused. On this, I have no hope, as the ship can still just be bumped away by a friend too. If they can figure out how to make something stop on a dime, then the remote rep thing will become a fleet of slowcats (or the threat of said slowcats) slowly bulldozing someone's sov.

    IE: Fozziesov has a deep flaw that there is no real way of fixing besides gutting the system or replacing it.

    1. I don't see how that would be an issue. Change the entosis link so you you must remain within range for it to have any effect. Change it so you have to be within 50% of your range when you activate it. Or make it stop on a dime. There's a lot of things they can do.

  4. I completely agree with you. What is potentially worse than fatigue now is their new destructible citadels... You are now a lot more penalized if you are strickly based off of 1-2 key systems in null. We can now imagine the new meta for blocks will be to headshot the 1-2 key staging systems and pop their citadels so alliance members will have a fair amount of ships stuck in this (warp to NPC or haul from can) situation. On the flip side, it will force big entities to seed multiple citadels in those key systems so big ships don't get blocked out.

    Again a mechanic that pisses off people. We want you to stay in null but we make your life a misery. It encourages you to stay in your home systems to protect your citadels and grind your indexes or else you lose it all...

    If everyone stays in their hole, how is that helping generate "local" content. MOA and the few entities in Thera alone can't cover everyone's need for content.

    1. I still need to digest those changes before I want to share an opinion, but "podded while you sleep" does disturb me. The natural counter to that is logging in space... but why even have a station if you have to log off in space?

      Right now, all my personal possessions I care about are in low-sec. I see nothing to suggest I'll be moving any back out to null any time soon. That's a problem.

  5. I really, really don't like any idea that involves making entosis link ships able to take outside assistance. The best thing that siege and triage modules do is that they put a cap on the scaling where, if you have enough logi, anything short of an alpha strike achieves nothing, whereas, if you don't have enough, you lose everything.

    On top of that, it feels like it functionally turns a ship into an SBU. It doesn't matter, really, what the entosiser does anymore, only that there's a backup fleet big enough to keep it alive long enough. I thought a major point of the new sov system was to get away from HP-based stuff being relevant for sov.

    1. I think we need some clarity from CCP about their goals. I always felt their goal was to make control of the grid the necessary component. If you have enough logi to prevent an alpha strike, then you're looking at a sizeable fleet with the freedom to protect that ship and position logi effectively. That sound like grid control to me.

      Besides, you don't have to kill the entosis ship to thwart it. You just need to disrupt its target lock at some point within that 10-50 minute cycle.

    2. *tin foil that you don't have to let post if you don't want*

      CCP's goal is to clear out the current people in nullsec through sheer emotional rage. They don't care if they go somewhere else in game or quit. This is just another 'churn' event like incursions were. If you look carefully at the game mechanics, there is very few things that have you stay put for a period longer than a few months.

      Null sec got stagnant with the current people there, CCP shakes the ant colony and sees how it turns out. Not the first time they've done this either.

  6. I'm against the idea of making entosis ships stationary, it's not the fix the system needs. The system needs defense, repair, and reward mechanics.

    Attackers need to stake something more than a ship on their assault, and that something should be consumed on success or claimed by defenders should they protect their space.

    As long as there's no reward for cleaning up the mess of nodes left by a reinforce the system is always going to be unsatisfying for defenders.

  7. I feel the biggest problem with Fozziesov is the fact that the control nodes spawn throughout the constellation, giving no incentive to fight, when you can be safe in a different system with nothing but trollceptors grabbing the nodes. I think they should be contained to a single system, with only one or 2 at a time, to try and force fights more, and make defense more active against an enemy

    1. This was something they didn't want in this new system, because it tended to cause tidi which wasn't fun either.

    2. I can see that as being a problem. At the same time, fights in tidi are better than no fights and trolling

  8. You wrote:

    "Many of the alliances who had been pushed out of sov came back as members of the remaining coalitions. Others moved on, spreading beyond the obligations of the sov game. Many players also simply just left the game. They tried it, and they were bludgeoned by those who could commit more time, were better organized, or more motivated. There was no middle ground – either you’re the best, or you’re dead. And when you fail utterly at something (or appear to), it tends to sour you to the prospect of it in the future."

    When was this ever not true? Certainly it was true under Dominion sov. The masters of the game, sitting on countless trillions in cash and assets, identify potential threats early, infiltrate them, and cripple them to the extent possible before they even have a chance.

    To understand what CCP is trying to do, go back to something CCP Seagull said right at the beginning: The game treats enablers like shit. There are only a handful of people in sov null who actually played the game, and then there were tens of thousands of people who logged in when they were told to, played CoD in space, and then logged off.

    The point of having so many attacks that are so easy on systems that are densely occupied is to get everyone in space playing the game. You aren't just there to make ISK. You aren't just there for a strat op. All the planning and all the decisions haven't been made for you in advance. If you're ratting and there's a threat in your system, reship and do something about it. Learn the ships. Learn the fittings. Learn the strategy. Learn the game. Then the same half-dozen people will no longer have to do all the work.

    1. This argument pretty much comes down to, "Let's make a system where people can learn to do for themselves." And that'd be noble, but let me ask you this: do you see a surplus of people wanting to lead sov alliances and FC and "enable"? I don't really, but that could just be my perspective; I can't do it myself because of RL priorities.

      If that "n" value is sufficient, then this system will work. If n is too low, it's doomed to fail. Case in point: there are many, many systems with nodes spawned, yet no one actively trying to take them or clear them. This indiciates a) the defenders can't be arsed to care about these systems, and b) there are no attackers who want to take them. That tells me we have more systems than we have interested owners.

  9. We cheered Seagul's vision and have been making REAL suggestions to help the game get there. Unfortunately just as soon as they make inroads, they just as quickly remove the some of the bitterness called change to appease those who are risk and change adverse. I higly suggest the Derson's comment is linked on EVERY site that is running stories on FozzSOV ... this is EXACTLY what people who actually want to fix nullsec have been saying and the vocal minority/entitlement players do not want to hear. None of this is a surprise to people who want pilots in null creating content.

    1. Out of curiosity, which alliance are you in and how has your activity changed since FozzieSov?

  10. I disagree with a lot of this, although I don't claim the system is perfect I think the things you are highlighting are what make it an improvement for a lot of us who actually live in 0.0 space.

    A lot of your main thrust here seems to be 'if I leave my space someone will take it'. Correct, if you are under attack you must defend your space. You cannot go on extended deployments without thinking about how you will defend your space. You can no longer rely on high HP structures preventing all but the most dedicated, largest or high SP groups from taking your space whilst you spend weeks elsewhere grinding someone else's sov.

    In some ways I'm heartened to hear some of these complaints as for me this means the new Sov system is having the desired consequences.

    The one area where I think the playing field needs evening a little is the ability for bubble immune ships to fit entosis links.

    1. It's not that "If I leave my space someone will take it", but rather, "If I'm not chained to my space, someone will take it." I'm not talking about deployments; I'm talking about roams. If your effective fighting force for a night goes on a 25-jump roam, by the time you get back you could see all your systems on fire.

      One day can see things get out of hand for the chief type of alliance we want to see take sov: small alliances unaffiliated with a coalition. The new system is an albatross around the neck of any alliance that goes looking for content.

      I love a lot of what FozzieSov intended to do. I just don't think they hit the mark with this application of those principles.

    2. Ok that's a different experience to mine and I can understand how that would be frustrating.

      I think the CFC (and any other large, generally disliked sov holding organisation) will have to get used to the fact that this is going to happen.

      Worst case scenario is you have to go cap the nodes when they spawn. Best case CCP change the mechanic so that if the nodes are uncontested after x time the structure comes out of reinforced mode.

    3. That's why I'm not posting my support of xxDeath's protest. I feel they're trying to turn back the clock. Dominion wasn't good, and needed to change. We can't try to make FozzieSov into Dominion Sov; that'd result in a watered down failure. We need to make FozzieSov work.

  11. I do like the idea of uncontested nodes resetting themselves after a set amount of time. That would partially cut down on the ability of trolls to grief Sov holders. Taking it a step further is creating an actual consequence for the attacker who is making a frivolous attack. Imagine if we eliminated the T1 entosis and only left the T2, then changed the T2 to be burnt out after each use (cannot be repaired) on an initial reinforcement (but can be used multiple times for the recapture event). In this scenario how many active trolls would we have left?

    1. I kind of like that concept. I don't know if I would go as far as saying that that each link is burnt out during a reinforcement but maybe some sort of delay like this. Either A) Have the link take heat damage always, B) Consume more stront during its activation, C) Cause some kind of temporary pyschosis where the pilot starts to lose control of their ship or D) Decrease their agility somehow. SOMETHING has to happen while your mind is linked not only with your ship but also some other structure that you're 'hacking'.