While I was at Fanfest I had the fortune to actually be seated on the front row during the ship balancing round tables, watching the interaction between CCP fozzie, CCP Rise and CCP Ytterbium, was great, each of them are very different people with differing opinions, the three of them together I feel are going to give us the most well thought out ship balancing I think eve has seen.
I could go on for some time about the many topics that came up but one particular area interested me: Fleet Boosters. I should say from the outset that I am pro boosting ships being on grid, I feel that no role should be so dull or easy that it should be done effectively afk. I suspect this will get me flack from the many people who like to fight solo (even though they are fighting with at least two ships); I even enjoy flying solo myself, but Eve at its heart is a mmo, if you want to fly solo that’s great, but in general flying with friends is what makes this good game great.
That personal opinion aside one of the ideas that was floated was that boosting ships could be changed so that they effectively boost ships within a sphere around them (kind of like a hictor bubble), this would mean that the pilots of these ships would require actual flying skills to place themselves in the correct places and large fleets may even require multiple boosting ships, it would also mean that your average grunt would need to check their position relevant to the boosters as well as the logistics.
This to me sounds like if it was implemented that we may actually end up in much more dynamic mobile fleets where actual flying skill would be needed. It would mean that highly skilled pilots (or budding pilots) would be able to aspire to roles within fleets that could make or break an engagement, reliant on their flying skills.
This however started my evil mind turning and led me to have a conversation with the CCP devs after the meeting finished and here I will outline where my evil thoughts went…
Boosting Radiance Ships? Maybe not…
As some people who have read my posts before may have noticed I do not understand why most random events in eve are positives, some of the most interesting stories are about when an unforeseen event has occurred and how people have managed (or not) to cope with them. All this talk of ships creating bubbles of “ship boosts” had me wondering, would it not be fair to have ships that do the opposite?
My thought was if CCP want more people flying command ships and for it to be a much more active and responsive role then surely the obvious way to make this happen was for there to be something for them to have to actively counter? At the moment there is a class of ships post tiercide that only has a single ship in it: The Battleship disruption line, and in it the scorpion. This currently has a bonus to ECM burst modules, what if this ship was changed to create a Hic like bubble of effect around it with an ECM effect and balanced against sensor strength boosting command ships? Suddenly you would have pilots of these two ships attempting to counter each others effects, the command ship defensively while the disruptor would be attempting to fly his ship so he didn’t impact his own fleet but not so far forward he was out of range of his own support, suddenly fleet and even individual positioning within a fleet become more complex, dynamic, responsive and even rewarding of flying skill, not just skill points.
At this point you can expand on the idea, if you stick with current racial ewars then a how about an area effect tracking disrupting Amarr ship? A area effect sensor damping Galente ship? ( think of the effect on logi) How about an area effect target painting Minmatar? (that could mess with AHacs).
I think that if you gave people the opportunity to fly these ships that could negatively impact enemy fleets you would actually reward pilots with the experience and ability to fly well with a whole new class of ships that would really bring something new to fleet combat and that would then have the knock on effect of making command ships much more interesting, responsive and fleet combat much more dynamic. Each Disrupting ship would require a different command ship to counter.
And this idea carries on again, currently bombers have only two forms of ewar covered “lockbreaker” and “void” seems to me that some are missing here but I think you can all follow that idea on to a logical conclusion, I suppose here is the point to say what the devs had to say about the suggestion.
Press F1 for help
The idea was met I feel with guarded interest and support, it appears that the main issue that is holding up what they want to do with command ships (and by effect potential disruption ships) is a system issue. Currently bubbles are a problem, interdiction bubbles work because when a ship attempts to enter warp a single check is made by that ship “am I in a bubble?” if the answer is yes warp fails. currently ecm burst, lockbreaker and void bombs send out a single pulse and ships in the area are effected once. The problem with what they want to do with “boost bubbles” is that the server would need to know which ships at any given time were being effected by positive (or even negative) effects from one moment to the next and as fleets get larger the number of checks on this gets larger as well and can rapidly become a large resource hog, it is something they are looking at a solution for apparently but they could not say anymore at this time.
Personally I am very pleased that they are even looking in this direction and I am hopeful that they will find an elegant solution so that soon we will see much more interesting fleets flying in elegant shoals of death responding to each other in much more dynamic ways than the current “everyone anchor on x at 10km, follow targets and hit f1 in time. I can but hope. [Editors note: even worse. “Every one stop your ships and assign drones to XXXXX”]