Battlecruisers[1]

Boosting the Signal

 

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%.

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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.

CZ Avatar titan 2

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.

 

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Tags: Ashterothi, Command Boosts, command ships, dev blog, links

About the author

Ashterothi

Ashterothi has spent the last five years learning and teaching EVE Online. He is a host on the highly successful High Drag and Hydrostatic Podcast.

  • Rob Kaichin


    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.

    Sometimes, you don’t need more depth. When you’re down a well, for example.

    I agree with their view (that Links are too strong). I was hoping to see the removal of implants and the removal of the specialisation skills, which would thus provide the reduction in power I as hoping for.

    • Ashterothi

      Many people do. However, I would argue that “too strong” will need to be seen in application. We have decryed many things for being game breaking that later were fine or even ended up underwhelming.

      • Rob Kaichin

        I’m not sure I agree.

        As far as I can tell, the new links system apes the old in terms of buffs and strength of buffs. That means that we can examine the wealth of evidence of current events to analyse their strengths and weaknesses.

        First off, the skills themselves (with no links active) provide 1billions worth of implants, just for being in Fleet. I don’t see that as a good thing.

        Then we must move to the effectiveness of the links themselves. To gain the equivalent buffs, (and it is impossibly using implants), you would need 4 billion ISK. (And an enormous head.)

        Now, I know it’s easy to retreat to ‘balancing by cost is ridiculous’, but think of what this means: a command ship/titan provides advantages that simply cannot be gained elsewhere.

        So, links are powerful, you and I both know that. However, it’d be remiss of me to point out the comparison between a fleet with links and a fleet without one:

        A fleet with links will tank up to 50% more under the new changes, and will move, lock, and rep faster and better than a fleet without. The effects of links are so pronounced that fleets will not go out without links in a serious fight. More than one FC has said that they will go with links, or they will not go at all.

        Links are, in the current situation, incredibly powerful. They have a dominant effect on everything they touch.

        I think that that needs to change

        • Rob Kaichin

          And another post that should have been turned into an article.

        • Dirk MacGirk

          I wonder if we think links will be used more or less now (seriously just fishing for comments)? Or better yet, more by some and less by others, thus creating an even wider gap than potentially already exists.

          This is defintely another of those cases where balancing for the myriad of cases from the solo guy up to the fleets of 100 or more is quite the challenge. Not to mention the varying organizational and talent ranges among groups as you move up the scale.

          • JZ909

            I think they’ll be used a lot more now, if for no other reason than the reduced time it takes to train into them. I know I would toss a link on my Prophecy right now if I could use one.

        • Ashterothi

          The line between not worth bringing, and too strong is going to be very fine. It will obviously require aggressive monitoring to ensure it doesn’t go off the rails.

        • CarlGustav

          Im more worried about link fleets…..

          how do you cope with X amount of Command BC with ship running 1 link each?
          I mean just consider Sleipner fleet with every ship fitting a single link…..

          and the skill req for flying that makes it ridiculus (unless your an older player who got the skil before the skill changes)

          • Arro

            Fitting a command burst on top of an already relatively tight fit won’t be a walk in the park. How do you cope with 30 sleipnirs all running one link? Bring 30 sleipnirs, with only 4 running 1 link, and fit the other 26 for better performance. Keep the linking ones more toward the back of the pack, and they shouldn’t get primaried. Assuming everyone is getting linked anyway, a no-link fitted sleip will outperform a link fitted sleip

          • CarlGustav

            Well links will be more vulnerable in the new patch as you can easily see who is bursting. No need for a in fleet spy. Still I like the new system it makes boosting an activity. Only mining boosting that imho they need to do something about perhaps add a capital mining laser so the rorqual or orca can mine to.

        • Vargralor

          “A fleet with links will tank up to 50% more under the new changes, and will move, lock, and rep faster and better than a fleet without.”

          Sure, that’s true. But it is like saying that a fleet with Logi or ECM can tank more than a fleet without. Or a fleet with remote sebos can lock faster. The fact that they link ships are on grid and can now be targeted and/or mjd’d away is a huge change to how it works now and brings links much more inline with how things like Logi work.

          We are moving further towards an EVE where a fleet consisting of a mix of different ships in different roles will perform better than an equivalently sized fleet of cookie-cutter DPS ships. Personally I see this as a very good thing.

          • Rob Kaichin

            I sort of agree.

            The issue is that a Links ship provides all of those bonuses in one package, whereas a Logi or ECM ship only provides a a small addition to the fleet.

  • DireNecessity

    The full import of the 4th ‘clarification’ devblog escaped me on initial read. Anytime CCP uncorks a ‘lessons learned’ culture change it’s actually a pretty bid deal. Nice catch Ashterothi.

  • Nim

    Can you boost a little your grammar in the meantime, pretty please?

    • Niden

      Hey, don’t blame Ash, I edited it in a rush. But if you want to point out what irks you so, I’d be happy to correct it.

    • luobote kong

      Only if you boost yours 🙂

    • Arro

      Calling out someone else’s grammar, when your own grammar is less-than-perfect is a bold move.

  • If your AOE range calculation is correct, it makes it even worst than I thought and will limit fleet tactics to FC anchoring, and blobbing around a FC… This is terrible for the game, as those groups that teach their pilots to be independent will have no benefit from the boosters. The AOE range with max skills and without the ships bonuses needs to reach around 80 to 100km.

    • Arro

      As long as the boosters cruise around within about 28km~ of the rest of the gang, you’ll be fine. Absolutely no need to anchor and blob, nor is there any need for the blob to be around the FC. Your short-sightedness just leads me to believe any group you try to lead will fall by the way-side as other groups adapt and succeed. You know, the way eve works.

  • Really?

    CCP, I fix for you.

    -Refund skills. If people want to keep them they can re-apply them to those same skills. Otherwise, you are charging us three times for those skills. Once to train them initially, again to buy your skill extractor, and a third time with the points lost re-injecting them into most of the characters they will be taken from. Greed is still not a good look on you, CCP.

    -Give suspect timers. This is as much remote assistance as logi reps.

    -Nix the weapon timer. It just leads to fleets sitting around waiting a minute at a time for one guy. This is boring. Boring is bad.

    -Boosts not lasting through stargates or docking/tethering is great. Let’s make sure that also applies to going through wormholes, accel gates, and jumps/bridges.

    -Increase the range. A titan with full skills should be able to boost everything on the new grid size. Scale down from there.

    • Arro

      “-Refund skills. If people want to keep them they can re-apply them to those same skills. Otherwise, you are charging us three times for those skills. Once to train them initially, again to buy your skill extractor, and a third time with the points lost re-injecting them into most of the characters they will be taken from. Greed is still not a good look on you, CCP.”

      The skills are still perfectly useful. We’re being charged only once, because the skills are just as good as they were before.

      “-Increase the range. A titan with full skills should be able to boost everything on the new grid size. Scale down from there.”

      HORRIBLE idea. Increasing the range any would enable boosters to not have to be in the gang, and instead allow them to skirt back at the back of the fleet in safety. Fleet boosters would be just as safe as before, but just visible now.

  • JZ909

    This is a big boost to small gangs of battlecruisers. With 9 combat battlecruisers, or 5 command ships, you’ll be able to max out information, skirmish and your primary tank’s links, for almost no tradeoff. I’m a bit concerned that these may end up overshadowing battleships.

    • Arro

      you won’t be able to max them out unless each booster pilot has decent skills, and the mindlink. You’re also quickly approaching not-small gang size when it’s 9 link oriented bcs, unless you can also get your tacklers and heavy hitters in that group too, without risking the wellbeing of your gang by say, putting your tank resist links at knife-range.

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