Posts Tagged ‘theory’

You say goodbye, and I say hello

Ok fair warning here, this post contains a lot of numbers and statistics. You know what they say about statistics right? This is all purely my own opinion (as always), and despite having numbers nothing in this post is concrete, just opinion. So with that out of the way, let’s go.

One of the most surprisingly interesting lectures at Fanfest was the “Retribution Roundup”. As a member of a (very small) SCRUM team, and having done extensive training in SCRUM with Microsoft, I found CCP a very interesting case study of SCRUM and its application within business. But that’s not what this is about. No today I want to try to dissect and extrapolate some of the numbers we got told during this presentation and apply them to another source of opinion.

Why? Retribution is a very important expansion, because it is, in CCP’s opinion (and in terms of numbers), the most successful expansion for eve yet. This means that in the near future, CCP are going to be working to replicate and refine the recipe which produced Retribution, to replicate its success in future expansion planning. Thus by looking at what made up Retribution, we can see what broad categories we might find in future expansions (and this does match with odyssey).

We know from the Roundup slides that retribution contained ~1500 Story points (~1700 minus ~ 200 which never made it to release). We also know how many story points each of the major parts of the expansion took:

  1. Combat overlay 95 points
  2. New ships 118 points
  3. Bounty hunting (main feature) 134 points
  4. Ship Balancing 154 points
  5. Crime watch system 264 points

Which adds up 765 SP leaving 725 for all the other features (labelled as 6. in the rest of this post). Now SP doesn’t equate directly to the size or value of the product, but instead to the amount of effort put into it. If we categories the sections we come out with the following:

  • ~6% of effort will go into UI improvements
  • ~8% of effort will go into New Ships
  • ~9% of effort will go into revamping old professions (or main features)
  • ~18% of effort will go into revamping old code
  • ~10% of effort will go into ship rebalancing
  • ~49% of effort will go into all other minor features
wtf?

wtf?

But that’s just effort, and only shows what CCP could be working on (effort), and not what we will see as players (value). It’s also true that CCP might be measuring the recipe using perceived value rather than the effort it took.

So let’s extract that for a second, using the CSM 7 development strategy as a basis for valuation. In this report the CSM defined features as a balance of Shiny vs. Iteration (new vs. repair). So let’s define the retribution features the same (again this is my opinion) using the same numbers/order as I did in my first list:

  1. 80% Iterative 20% Shine
  2. 100% Shine
  3. 80% Iterative 20% Shine
  4. 100% Iterative
  5. 100% Iterative
  6. 58% Iterative 42% Shine

This gives the whole release a balance of 70% Iterative and 30% Shine. This figure can be used to compare the CSM’s advice to CCP’s current “recipe”. This requires further extrapolation, taking CSM7’s definition of players (and their wants  in terms of a Shine to Iteration ratio as defined in the document:

  • Potentials — people who have never or only briefly subscribed. (90% Shiny, 10% Iteration)
  • Newbies — players with less than a year in the game. (70% Shiny, 30% Iteration)
  • Veterans — players with more than a year in the game. (10% Shiny, 90% Iteration)
  • Bittervets — unsubscribed veterans. (50% Shiny, 50% Iteration)

Just using this would assume that CSM7 believed there are equal numbers of each type of players, which obviously there are not. So instead, to get an idea of the ratio which CSM7 believes the player base consists of (or at least how much we should pander to each), we can look at the next section of the document. In this CSM7 define 5 pillars of an expansion, which are tailored to each placate at least two of the previously defined categories of players.

So here is what we do: take each player group and their ratio of Shiny to Iteration, times their ratio by the number of times they are a benefactor of a pillar. Next add all of these ratios together and bring them back down to a % ratio. I won’t say that this is CSM7’s recommendation of what an expansion should contain (that would be putting words in their mouths), but I will say this is what I perceive as CSM7’s recommendation:

58% Iteration to 42% Shiny, a pretty even balance leaning slightly towards the veteran player (just like the CSM’s past and present :P). Interestingly CCP in Retribution has leaned even further towards the veteran player with the Retribution ratio of 70% Iteration and 30% Shiny.

So how does this match up to Odyssey then? Well I went through the bullet points listed on the Odyssey home page and gave them the same treatment, I came up the expansion ratio of 37% Iteration to 63% Shiny (which explains why Odyssey doesn’t blow my socks off). Quite a difference, and leaning this time towards the Newer and Potential players. How about if we consider the balance over the full year (i.e. the 12 month cycle the CSM referred too, albeit expecting more linking the two expansions together)… ok, quick time out here. I am doing all these sums in excel as I write this. I have not doctored these numbers, nor did I ever expect to get this result. I write this on the second to final edit run, and I am somewhat stunned:

If you take the last 12 months’ worth of expansions (Retribution & Odyssey), and look at my opinion of features released Shininess vs. Iteration using the methods described above you get: 58% Iteration to 42% Shiny… Exactly what I read the CSM’s recommended release balance to be.

Is it fair to consider the expansions together? Has CCP mixed up the recipe? Are they doing one expansion for vets and one for newbies? Am I talking out of my arse? Was CCP still trying to make it up to the Veteran players in Retribution for Incarna? Should we expect more New/Potential Player Expansions? All this and more, left for your too decided.

What do you think?

Fly like Disraeli,

Hark

Large fleets, impressive but stagnant?

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.
The Grid

The Grid

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...

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”]

Chat Log: Local Spike

##LOG BEGINGS##

Arian > hate the mittani atm for the april fools local being removed >_<

Hark > lmao

Arian > they are mean

Arian > stupid thing is all the arguments were valid >_<

Hark > I’m still not sure how I feel on the Local issue

Hark > I agree intel should be split from chat, just not sure that hidden completely is a great idea

Hark > I agree that at the moment it’s too easy for the “defender”, but removing local makes it too easy for the attacker

Hark > Its from one extreme to another

Arian > i don’t disagree

Hark > I would really like to see it decoupled from chat though

Hark > I also like the idea of linking intel into sov

Hark > perhaps some kind of threat warning based in [my skill] + [number of active alliance members in home space] + [Sov level of system] vs [his skill] + [number of attackers]

Hark > 1 guy in an atron flying into barely used alliance space with one guy ratting = dead ratter

Hark > a fleet of hostiles flying into heavily populated space = instant invasion alerts

Arian > I would argue a totally different but extreme change

Hark > do go on?

Arian > all lvl 4, low sec and null sec npc’s become capsuleer npcs and fit and act more like us, ie tackle etc, reduce number of ships per spawn to compensate but this will mean people will have to use “pvp” fits to rat.

Hark > agree totally so far

Arian > people will then not need to run for new ships to fight, will learn proper piloting skills both real and in their skill queue

Hark > yup

Arian > I would also stop npc’s showing as red crosses

Hark > hmm marginal, I think it would be too easy to hide in a group of NPCs but go on

Arian > that’s my point

Arian > think about it

Arian > make npc’s and players scannable

Arian > increase bounty on these better npc’s

Hark > As a PvP player I want to kill Players, to be tricked into PvE

Hark > NPC’s imo should play no major part in PvP

Hark > to do so muddies the waters

Arian > yeah but that is because the ai is so crap and there fits are so bad

Hark > no, i disagree, it’s because there is no raging nerd at the other end of the keyboard

Hark > I don’t want to kill computer controlled chars no matter how good the AI

Hark > I want to pitch my skill against another human

Arian > yup

Arian > i want there to be ways to spot players, but you have to work for it

Arian > works both for the attacker and defender

Hark > I don’t agree on that I am afraid

Hark > I just want to fight people not play hide and seek

Arian > it would work for your lone atron pilot 😉

Arian > sneaking around belts

Arian > oooooh!

Arian > how about a skill that could briefly disguise you as a npc

Arian > ?

Hark > urg

Hark > I’m sorry but I really strongly disagree on that

Arian > if you hadn’t noticed I am now in full brainstorm argue any point of view mode atm

Arian > not necessarily pov’s i feel

Hark > that’s fine

Hark > But Player Vs Player should not be Player & NPC vs Player & NPC with added confusion

Hark > I think were straying for the core point of how intel should be though

Hark > NPC disguises for people is a side point

##Break while Arian Loses a Hookbill##

Arian > my problem is how do you decouple a local chat and intel?

Hark > My view is that chat should become a delayed chat as per wormholes

Arian > other than how it’s done in wh’s?

Hark > and maybe even expand to constellation chat

Hark > then you add in some sensing skills

Hark > i.e. passive sonar

Hark > along with sonar modules for POS’s

Arian > yeah but constellation chat still says “looky shit has changed” for no effort

Hark > you also add skills for hiding from scans

Hark > (not directional)

Arian > do we need more than the player created chat channels? seriously?

Hark > yeah we do

Hark > because it’s an MMO

Hark > you don’t get to pick who you talk to

Hark > it’s called interaction outside of your friends list

Hark > but any way

Arian > yeah but we have the ability to create them at will

Arian > i mean keep militia, corp alliance etc

Hark > without local you can pick who you talk to

Hark > if someone isn’t in your militia, and not in your corp

Hark > if you don’t have local you don’t have to talk to them

Hark > and you should

Hark > because it’s an MMO

Hark > how would you exchange GF’s?

Arian > yeah but with alli and corp and the newb chats you can’t choose it

Hark > yup

Hark > and local is the same

Hark > again you’re getting past the point

Arian > yeah but local is now impacting interactions beyond chatting, ie the game 😉

Hark > this is an MMO and should encourage social interaction, anything that removes that is a bad

Arian > hmmmm

Hark > I’m fine with removing local showing who is in system

Hark > widen it to constellation and remove the who is about bit

Hark > fine

Arian > ditto

Hark > that’s not a problem

Hark > but it should exist

Arian > ah i see

Arian > yeah that makes sense, just a name list, its for you to scroll through and check there bio etc

Hark > but then the advantage is too much with the attacker

Hark > so you need some way for the defender to have a chance of spotting someone before using a direction scanner

Arian > why?

Arian > if they were in pvp ships instead of crappy pve would they?

Hark > I feel so

Arian > okay, just throwing questions out, feeling around the problem 😉

Hark > I feel that if an alliance owns space they should have a slight advantage in detecting enemies

Hark > I think invisible local is a thing for wormholes

Hark > it makes them unique

Hark > and shouldn’t be copied everywhere

Arian > yeah, i agree, but i like the idea of removing colour tagging

Hark > so we have a Constellation chat and only people who talk are shown in it, ala wormholes…

Hark > agreed?

Arian > so far

Hark > now we add a UI point with three traffic lights

Hark > 1 is alliance space 2 is constellation 3 is system

Hark > the traffic lights go from green to red depending on what is detected in those areas

Hark > if someone attacks an alliance mate 15 jumps out “Alliance Area” goes red

Hark > if someone spots a gate activation in the constellation that goes Amber

Hark > if a scout sees an enemy in system that goes Amber

Arian > hmmm, not sure about that way easy to automate for the bot fleets

Hark > I get that but it’s still better than now

Arian > oh i am not being critical, tis better than what’s been bought up so far, just still trying to define the shape of the “missing piece”

Hark > so we could make it skill and chance based

Hark > that what it isn’t 100% infallible

Hark > and it isn’t 100% fool proof (or bot proof)

Hark > bots are repetitive

Hark > if you found one you just jump in and out of system a few times till you get lucky and don’t get detected

Hark > yup makes sense

Hark > I’m thinking something like a base of

Hark > on grid 80% change of an alert | direction scanner 50% chance of an alert | passive in system 5% chance of an alert

Hark > maybe with a POS mod which does a passive scan every 1 min with a 60% chance of an alert

Hark > add onto that player skills and alliance skills which can vary that by +-10% with a maximum of 90% chance of detection

Arian > hmmm okay, and effected by number of peeps

Arian > hostiles

Hark > yeah thou as the % calculation happens per person that happens more or less automatically

Hark > double the people double the chance for detection

Hark > encourages fleets to spread out and act like a hunting party too

Hark > I think he percentages are debatable and could be a LOT lower to give say upto 5 man fleets a lesser chance of being detected

Arian > also reduce it for… shock horror ship type…frigs low, covert ops low, hunking great bs high etc

Hark > agreed

Hark > but that’s detail

##END OF LOG##

Improving Logistics: The Pocket Carrier (NEME)

Every fleet Pilot knows how important Logistics are. Every Fleet Pilot worth his salt has at some point had his arse saved by a Logistics Pilot and typed something along the lines “Thanks logi”. Yet as always there is always a shortage of Logi Pilots whenever a fleet is forming. Why? This isn’t World of Warcraft, it’s not like were all stuck in one role. With just 2 months of training any pilot can make a huge contribution to a Logistics team. So why don’t more pilots do so?
I’m actually in the midst of writing a guide for logistics at the moment, and this is a question that I keep hitting up against. The only answers I can find are:
 1. Too complex
 2. Too skill intensive
 3. Too boring
 4. Too expensive
 5. No kill mails
 1-3 are complete crap and oh so much misinformation. Flying logi does not need a PhD (I can do it for Christ sake). Flying Logi is easy to train into, base line Logi takes around 2 months. Flying Logi is not boring when it hits the fan you are going to have more fun than you can handle; you’re also the only active people during repping operations!
4 is a fair point if your fleets run Battle Cruisers or below, but as soon as you hit BS and T2 ships, you’re actually cheaper than the Ships of the Line. Most Alliances worth their weight will also have a ship replacement core in place for Logistics pilots; some even allow Logi pilots to make money out of the deal.
So the only solid reason I can see for not flying the Logi, is the lack of kill mails. Now I think that’s a succinct summery for a deeper issue; people like to feel directly involved in the battle. The kill mail is just the visual evidence of that. Pilots like to kill things, and don’t feel involved in the battle, unless they are doing damage.
Many have stated that the solution is simply to put repping ships on kill mails, and this is a rather interesting, if uninventive solution, it also appears to have been easier said than done. Here is an alternative; Pocket Carriers.
Pocket Carriers have been bandied about for a while now, but have never actually been officially acknowledged. I’m suggesting they should be added as a balanced alternative to Logistics. The class uses Tier 3 battleship hulls (Rokh, Abbadon, Hyperion and Maelstrom) and should require the following skills to fly:
            – Battleship 5
            – NEME Ships (Nanobot Electrical and Mechanical Engineering) 1
                        Logistics 4
                        Drone Interfacing V
           
You might note the new skill called NEME ships in there. Yeah it’s a crappy acronym, but it’s based on the British Army core dedicated to Electrical and Mechanical Engineering (REME), which seems a good fit for a repair ship.
I really don’t like having to have Bs5 in the pre-reqs, but the CCP mould says T2 ships must always require LVL5 in the hull type, so I guess there is no real choice. This means that training will take around 3 months, an extra month on top of Logi skilling. My hope is that the awesomeness of these ships will draw people into them, gaining Logi on the way.
The NEMEs are balanced between each other in a very similar way to the Logistics ships, although for fun I suggest we switch around the chain/solo types to the opposite of the Logistics counterpart. I.e. Amarr & Caldari work solo; whereas Galente & Minmatar Chain. They also use the same high slot layouts as Logistics:
                        Chain – 2 Energy Transfers | 4 Racial Remote Reppers
                        Solo     – 4 Racial Remote Reppers
I should add that as these ships have NO hard points for guns or missiles, pilots have no choice to but fit utility highs. Right now your probably thinking “But Hark, these are just maxi size Logistics, why would I want to fly that!?” Here is where the big difference comes. NEME ships are also heavy drone users. With a bay size around 225m3 they can fit a full flight of Heavy, Medium and light drones, and still have space for ewar drones. They also have a far bigger tank than Logistics with a maxed out tank of around 100-120k ehp (in eve hq).
I can hear your cries again now “Hark you’ve gone too far the other way! Now no one will ever fly the old Logistics!”. Oh my ever unsatisfied reader, let’s look at my suggested Bonuses:
            (Per level battleship)
            250% bonus to ETA range
            250% bonus to RARS range
            6% to done damage
           
            (Per level of NEME skill)
            % reduction in capacitor usage to make the ship stable when running full reps/energy transfer with an AB + about 1-2 cap mods (inc rigs)
           
            (Role bonus)
            % bonus to CPU/PG needs of remote transfers to balance
            -20% repair amount transferred
 So what does this mean? Well the reps can now go further than Logistics (105k @L5 compared to 63K). You should also notice the negative bonus to repair amount (yeah that’s not a typo); this means that on a NEME Ship, a T2 remote repair module will be slightly less effective than the Meta 4 on the Logi.
 To summarise the NEME/Logi Comparison looks as follows:
            Both fit similarly
            NEME rep further but less
            NEME tank more, but can’t sig tank
            NEME can actually put damage on the field (about 390-440DPS), but costs a bit more (aim for 300M hull)
It’s just a rough draft for discussion, and I’m sure there are holes that need filling and tweaks that could help. But it’s worth a thought. Doubt it will go anywhere, but you never know.