This is my first update to the blog since November, I never really meant to leave it so long but tme has flown and I never seem to get around to sitting down to type. I have wanted to give a few thoughts I’ve had in recent weeks and months though so as Fanfest is imminent now is probably the last chance before CCP unveil the next steps.
First off, I’ve got a little confession to make that I put off talking about. A big reason why I haven’t been writing recently is that I made the decision to let my subscription lapse back in December. I simply was not playing the game enough to justify paying for it. When I was logging in I wouldn’t really do anything then I’d log out again, so I decided it was time to bite the bullet and step away from trying to make myself play.
I have however been keeping an eye on the game and reading about the updates from CCP and in the occasional player blog, so I feel reasonably up to date on the game development and direction. The first thing I wanted to mention was the clearly improved attention to storyline. CCP Seagull promised that storyline would become a more important part of the game and it does seem to be happening (at last) with stuff like Caroline’s Star and the introduction of the Drifters.
It is great to see CCP weaving narrative into the game development and I feel that the more frequent releases do support that much better and dynamically than the old two expansions a year model. For awhile CCP used storyline as a marketing tool to build up the next releasewhich just meant that nothing at all happened for months on end. I am curious to see how far CCP go with the new Drifter threat arc and mechanics, NPC’s that hunt down your pod is interesting enough, them being of Jovian descent is even more curious. When CCP removed clone grades there was talk of future work being done to create new game mechanics around clones and implants so I wonder if that might be an offshoot of these developments.
I saw that work is under way on revamping corporations and alliance tools. I have been waiting for CCP to tackle that mess for a long, long time. I have been of the opinion that the sorry state of corp mechanics has been hampering the game for a long time and that the impact extends well beyond corp CEO’s and directors. In the past I ran a medium sized null sec corp that held parts of our key sov-holding infrastructure and ran into problems balancing the need for security with enabling the more junior members of my corp to run industrial activities by themselves. I ended up having to deny players the opportunity to engage with areas of the game they were interested in (running their own POS) because it exposed the alliance to having cyno jammers and the like offlined by infiltrators. It is a much needed overhaul and one I hope will enable corp leaders to find the solutions they need with a cleaner interface presenting better options and that in turn will allow for more players to just go do the stuff they want to do.
And then we have the big one; the Sovereignty overhaul. I can only imagine what is running through the heads of some people out there at the moment! It really is a huge undertaking and like the corp overhaul, sorely needed. I gave up on null sec years ago now, but I think CCP are aiming to bring back the sort of null sec I was happy to put so much time into back before massive coalitions slowly squeezed the life out of it. That is, quite simply, a null sec where a greater variety of smaller entities compete for control of much smaller volumes of space. I’m not sure how successful the proposed changes are going to be, but I do feel that they are well intentioned and worth trying.
I like that CCP are finally trying something other than structure shooting. Most people blame Dominion for introducing the structure grind with TCU’s and I-Hub’s, but the reality is that sovereignty was based on structure grinds well before that. Pre-Dominion sov holding was determined by whomever owned the largest number of POS control towers in a given system (weighted to the size of the towers present). In those days you could be battling over a system with [i]more than a hundred towers[/i] in it attempting to blow up the opposition’s while anchoring and on-lining more of your own. Rather than shooting at one I-Hub, you could be grinding your way through dozens of (hardened) control towers instead.
The goal of Dominion was to reduce that mess down to something more tangible and less reliant on sprawling spreadsheets (and often dodgy intel) on what towers were on which moons from day to day by doing away with all those towers (which constantly needed to be cleared out even after the fighting was done) so in place of all that we got the trinity of sov warfare grinding that is TCU > I-Hub > Outpost. Same principle, less mess.
At the same time, we also saw super capitals redesigned to be the future solution to grinding huge HP buffers and the seeds of our current stagnation sown in the form of the n+1 problem. With fewer but more monolithic targets, players simply resorted to bringing ever larger fleets in ever bigger ships to sledgehammer their way towards victory. It took time, but eventually the coalitions grew and grew forcing the little guys out and making everything very dull.
The hope has to be that a combination of the recent force projection nerf and the upcoming removal of structure shooting means that it is no longer as viable or in fact mechanically as important to bring massive sledgehammers to do every job. In time then players will start to use smaller forces in smaller ships to achieve more local goals and we begin to see the super coalitions downsize themselves as they cease trying to hold dominion over every last scrap of space. Will it work? I have no idea, but I can hope.
So here is what I like about the new system:
* No more structure grinding.
* Even better, no more structure repping! Have you ever found yourself beng one of the few people community minded enough to suffer through repping up the outpost while every other bugger desperately pretends to be AFK so they don’t have to sit through the tedium? It sucked and was never, ever fun. But someone has to do it, right?
* While sounding a bit contrived, the capturing distributed nodes thing does sound like it will encourage fleets to split up in order to achieve objectives and that should open up more interesting tactical opportunities than just ramming two large fleets together and pressing F1.
What I like less:
Simply, timezone mechanics. One of the flaws of the Dominion system was that by reducing the number of important fights down to TCU > Hub > Station it became easier for coalitions to choose their battles and bring everyone to that one key timer. I am concerned that the proposed system of sov only being vulnerable in a window of the defenders choosing will lead to alliances very strong in one timezone being difficult to dislodge even if they are weak outside of that timezone. This will need thinking about.
Ok time to wrap this up. Fanfest thoughts. I’ll be watching what I can but I definitely won’t be able to watch it all live this year. I looked over the schedule and two things came to mind. Firstly, I don’t think that CCP are going to unveil anything particularly huge and new that we don;t already know at least a bit about. If I am wrong then it will probably be announced very early on on the oddly open ended sounding presentation about the future of Virtual Reality at CCP. To me this implies that CCP are not just playing around with Valkyrie and might have some other thing to hype up.
The other thing that struck me was that there is no dedicated Dust514 keynote this year. The closest thing seems to be Thursday 13.00 in the Jita meeting room (the third largest space) for ‘DUST 514: Collected Learnings’. Dust514, and to a lesser extent maybe Valkyrie, don’t seem to be getting as much attention this year. I’m guessing this means that Project Legion is either still not under full development (likely) or is staying under wraps for now. Dust certainly isn’t appearing on the EVE TV schedule anyway. Hopefully someone attending will report back on any new announcements.
I have played a bit of Dust recently. Contrary to popular opinion, it still isn’t completely dead, which is nice. 😉