Boosting the SignalAshterothi
Like it or not, command boosts changes are coming, and the impacts of this change are widespread, and severe. While I have speculated and discussed the command boost changes previously, we now have the first in what appears to be a four part blog series laying out the boosting (burst) changes. There is a lot of crunch in this dev blog, and it is worth reading in it’s entirety. It also has a lot of things that can easily be missed. So let’s do walk-through together.
Please note: This is a early walkthrough of the first dev blog, things are bound to change, and may become clarified.
The blog begins by explaining the scope of the blog itself. The only really important information from this is a reminder it is coming in November. The interesting detail here is that the last dev blog will function as a wrapping up and final-explanation-with-all-the-changes-kind of dev blog, which is important given the mass confusion around the roll out of Citadel. It is very good to see the dev teams, and Five-0 in particular, iterating on their presentations. The fact that there is a final “clarification” dev blog prior to release ensures that when we discuss it and theorycraft, we have a solid foundation to work on, and are not scrounging up months-old and iterated upon changes.
The idea of supporting your team mates via boosts is interesting
Next, the blog moves onto the actual goals of the change, which are pretty straight forward. The idea of supporting your team mates via boosts is interesting and one many people would enjoy. However, the AFK gameplay of this role is not only bad for the people dedicating characters to the role, but also bad for the design of the game. The new goals are:
- Fleet boosting should represent a distinct and valuable support role that allows skilled players to shine
- Fleet boosting should allow counter-play by enemies and involve risk appropriate to its power
- Fleet boosting should provide clear feedback so all players involved can understand what’s happening
So with those goals in mind, they move on to the actual functionality of the new burst module. As mentioned previously, buffing command burst modules will no longer be tied to a specific buff, but rather a category of buff. Each module will have one of (currently) three ammo types which can be loaded into the command bursts and fired at a rate of once per minute. The ammo itself will be very small, and many will fit in the module, so it shouldn’t be a major inconvenience. Also, the buff can potentially last longer than one minute, however, the reload time of the module is also a minute (before skills reduce it). This means that if there is overlap between two buff timers, it will be very short, and extremely difficult to perform. Although the math is a bit tricky, it does seem that the best performing boosters will be able to double dip on their boosts for short periods of time, which is pretty cool. This level of performance will be outside of most players reach, but that’s OK because the overlap also gives some padding for players who slip up.
The range of the buff will be highly determined by the ship and the player’s skill. They also used this as an opportunity to bring new life to the old Fleet Command skills (one of the ‘unknowns’ answered in this blog). Having maximum fleet command skills will boost the range of the ship by 95%.
For visual feedback purposes, CCP has added a set of interesting and unique effects that come in three ways. First, there is a set wavy line effects that burst into a sphere at the buffs range. This is to give a clear indication pointing to the buffer, but also indicating the range of that buff. The second effect is a bright flair on every ship effected by the buff, this allows players to identify every single ship buffed by any given burst. Finally, there is a radiant effect that lasts on the ship for as long as it is boosted, informing players that people are still under the effects of boosts.
The one oddity is when people are under multiple boosts, or multiple boost types, how those effects will layer. Additionally, the color effects are somewhat similar, the shield and the information ones in particular. It would be nice to make the Information links a bit more “Gallente green” but I digress.
This vastly expands the functionality of battlecruisers
Another big change is the fact that boosts will no longer be related to fleet positions at all, and the fate of fleet positions is still unclear. However, one perk of this change is that boosters will no longer have to worry about who does or doesn’t get their boost. Additionally, ships can will be able bring boosts when flying solo, for example a battlecruiser can bring a shield hardening boost with them on solo missions. This vastly expands the functionality of battlecruisers, and creates a niche where some gangs can easily bring boosts of every flavor, and with redundancy to boot!
Additionally, there will also be a minor command ships (the T2 battlecruisers) tweak coming, but Fozzie promises to be “gentle”.
While it seems that most of the population is rather happy about the changes, there are three camps that are expressing extreme displeasure.
1 – FC’s such as Asher, who specialize in larger fleet warfare, are very unhappy that boosts will be difficult if not impossible with speed-centric fleets.
2 – Pilots who are angry about fleet boosters in general, feel that they are still too strong, and would rather the feature be removed completely.
3 – Rorqual pilots (and other miners) whose social orders are based on services such as 23/7 mining boosts
However, there are counterpoints to address each of these concerns. Some are stronger than others.
1 – The balance between having to work with the boosters vs. outstripping your potential is important for good game balance. We will have to see how it plays out, but new metas will always rise, and having to make meaningful decisions based on constraints arguably makes better gameplay, not worse.
2 – This vision is pretty close-minded. While they may need to be tuned, this system allows for very granular tuning. What it does do is create a whole new gameplay style for people. Removing it completely would just reduce the depth of the EVE combat system.
3 – This actually sucks a lot for them, and I discussed this in my last video. The value of attractive features for organizations such as mining boosts is important, but it doesn’t have to come from AFK ships. Hopefully the upcoming industry platforms will do something to fill that gap.
One of the biggest reveals was the implementation of Titan “Effect Generators”. These modules will fit onto titans and will burst an effect on all ships within the radius, friend or foe. This will function much like the wormhole effects, which are both positive and negative, and benefit specific fighting styles. How this will be balanced, and how these effects will layer is still unknown. There were two examples given (however they were referred to as “prototypes” so this is totally subject to change):
- Amarr Effect Generator: +Capacitor, -Speed, -EM Resistances, +Kinetic Resistances
- Minmatar Effect Generator: -Signature Radius, -Turret Optimal Range, -Explosive Resistances, +Thermal Resistances
The final thing that was touched on in the blog was the Rorqual changes, although almost nothing really new was stated, beyond the superweapon being named “PANIC”. One of the subsequent dev blogs will be centered around this ship and the other mining changes. It is a bit too early for me to really evaluate the impact yet.
In spite of the naysayers, and some edge case considerations to work through, the new boosting feature seems to be shaping up nicely. They are opening up their design space and taking an old, poorly implemented feature and reenvisioning it for the betterment of the game. As Kirith Kodachi said in his article “What’s Next”, this change comes as one of a long series of changes that have incrementally changed the face of EVE gameplay. While each change may seem challenging, and many times controversial, together they are creating a more dynamic and interesting game than we had a few short years ago.