Fleet Warps

For those who are going to just skim so they can be angry at me in the comments, here’s the tl;dr: Do I support the incoming fleet warp changes? Yes. Do I think they’re as refined as they need to be? No. Do I think they’d have a net positive on the game were they implemented as currently stated? Yes. Okay, now that’s done and I’m left with the three of you that want to read my spiel on the topic, let’s get down to it. CCP has proposed a plan to cease FCs warping their fleets to bookmarks and probe results. Unsurprisingly—for such a fundamentally game changing patch—people are up in arms. On the last episode of CZTV, a spirited discussion between Chessur and Dunk Dinkle—who are about as polar opposite as you can get in terms of gameplay style—occurred. Both of them brought up good points, as well as many members of the EVE community on reddit and the Eve-O forums. There have been a bunch of awful ideas, but that’s not really surprising either. As in my Navy Cruiser article, I’m not going to pretend to know a damn thing about PvE or the intricacies of wormhole space. Having listened to the soundcloud of the meet between CCP and some WH reps, and some discussion with my hole-loving capsuleer friends, it appears that the vast majority of the serious issues WH:ers face with these changes can be fixed by implementing alliance bookmarks. CCP has already stated they want to do that; so CCP, get on with it. CCP says that a significant motivation for this change is to make fleet members be more involved in what’s going on. With disclaimers and qualifications to cover my ass done, let’s talk about game design philosophy. On CZTV, Chessur represented the idea that EVE is for hardcore players. Those that are unwilling to put significant time and effort into the study and practice of basic flight mechanics of are not welcome in New Eden. He’d go as far as to remove orbit and approach commands. Chessur comes from a Brood War background, where mechanics, practice, and devotion to the study of the game were everything; positioning, reading your opponent, ekeing every last ounce of value from every action to defeat your opponent. It was a beautiful game and I genuinely would play an EVE where orbit/approach did not exist. It sounds like a lot of fun.
Dunk spoke for the line member; the “casual” player. The guy who gets home from work, helps his kids with their homework, then after they are off to bed just wants to relax by pewing spaceships for an hour or two before the end of the day to unwind. He stated that Chessur’s vision for EVE would effectively kill any hope of having these players play the game, that it’s these players who make up the vast majority of the subscription base, and without them EVE would curl up and die. Dunk is of the opinion that these changes would make EVE too difficult, make fleets take too long, too laborious and preclude our family man from playing. Me? I don’t think the changes directly affect the line member of fleets that much, if at all. FCs will still be able to warp their fleets to gates and to other fleet members. Travel in K-space will be largely unaffected. Personally, as a FC, I’ve rarely made use of the fact that I can warp my fleet anywhere. When I joined PL, people were expecting me to warp them about; I didn’t. They realised I don’t do fleet warps, and we got on with our lives. “But Apoth!” I hear you cry, “PL are elite spaceship pilots, experienced, full of ISK and SP. We’re talking about the newbros here!” Here’s the thing: the argument that these fleet warp changes kill the newbro are—in my opinion—completely baseless. It may be the case that BNI have their FCs drag their pilots around nullsec by the short and curlies, but that does not mean newbros cannot get on without them. I FC:ed in EVE University for upwards of 8 months. There, we don’t have bloc FCs like Blue Ice, and we didn’t have the SP to be in those command positions. I’m not saying fleet warps for general travel never happen, but we got by without it just fine. Newbros do not need to be warped from gate-to-gate like children being crocodile-lined between their primary school and the playing fields. Clearly say where you want them to warp, and after their first few times it becomes second nature. In terms of bookmarks, the same holds. Have your bookmarks clearly labelled in a well-thought out organisational system. If a right click drop-down menu for bookmarks is too difficult for a newbro to use, then I have no idea how they had sufficient cognitive ability to join any fleet, or even install the game in the first place. From-Kinakka-to-Asakai-layout1 What’s the bottom line? These changes mean line pilots need to do one or two extra clicks when they want to warp sometimes. If anything, it’ll make me more likely to not be alt-tabbing to reddit and instead paying attention to my spaceship. I do not think that the line member is affected that much by these changes. What they do affect are the tools that the fleet as an entity has to maneuver and engage. The effect individual pilots will see will not be inputting a wild amount of additional effort to fly their ships in a fleet. They will, however, see some changes to how those fleets operate and what the fleets are capable of—thus a shift in meta and tactics. The only individual piloting changes I see would be that good interceptor (and interdictor) pilots in null become far more valuable in providing good warp-ins. I would love there to be more focus on tackle in all fleets; right now it’s just tank, DPS, and projection. I love any changes that will force tackle to be more important. It’s a role that can massively affect the effectiveness of a fleet, so requiring a heavier role that does this is great. Before we go into new and obsolete tactics with these changes, it’s worth mentioning what I think the skill level of the game should be on the Dunk-Chessur scale. Even though it makes me feel dirty, like a schoolteacher settling an argument, I agree with both Chessur and Dunk’s vision of who the game should be designed for, but without Dunk’s compromise for balancing for the “average” player. The “average” EVE player does not exist. I would make an assumption that the only average that even makes sense would be some modal class, probably line members of null-sec blocs, but designing the game around them would make people like FCs and alliance level logistics managers, who actually provide them the fun in the first place, quit the game. EVE should absolutely have content that the aforementioned family man can come home to and play, that anyone can just log on to and relax with their spaceship friends while playing and not putting too much effort in. However, EVE is a wonderful and beautiful game not only because of the sheer variety of things you can do, but also the variety of approaches you can take. EVE should absolutely be a game that has a high ceiling so players who do put the time and effort in can be rewarded for developing their skills and knowledge, and it should give them an advantage against the player who has not done that.
I won’t bother discussing creating room in EVE for sniping doctrines or “the bomber problem”, it’s covered well enough elsewhere. One of the consequences I haven’t seen discussed, but that in my opinion will be a big gamechanger, is the sudden defensive advantage for organised groups who share bookmarks. If you live in a space and produce bookmark packs (common practice already for a few), and a marauding group comes through your sphere of influence, you suddenly have a massive advantage of maneuverability over them. Without the ability to near-instantly warp onto your opponent, taking the time to create and distribute bookmarks will give fleets in their home space a huge advantage over roaming groups who will not have them. It will give the home team (not necessarily a PvP focused organisation) great potential for choosing how to engage, and provide a challenge for the roaming group (much more likely a PvP focused organisation) to surmount. It creates space for new doctrines and ideas, adds some asymmetry to the warfare, and rewards groups who organise. Current combat probing mechanics are so good that for all the skill in the world you might have, it takes one other guy to drop probes, hit scan, and he can endlessly warp fleets right onto you, in some cases while you’re still landing (see bombing runs). Because of this, it stifles a large array of tactics and styles of pewing spaceships. By making players so powerful, they’re actually made weaker and forced into a smaller box of option, reducing the room for creativity and good decision making, negating the ability for pilots and groups of pilots to have the skills to be a cut above the rest. Removing these tools will not suddenly make a ball of 200 Moas ineffective, but it will move us towards allowing another blob of 200 Moas, or whatever, to have the creative space to potentially outfly the first and be rewarded for playing the game more skillfully. The direction these changes would take the game is one where we don’t just have to focus on tank and DPS meat grinders, but to a positioning war as well, removing some of the need  for a critical mass of logi/DPS for FCs to even consider bothering to undock. All that having been said, the proposed changes reach far further than the positive of what I have discussed here. A more focused nerf to bombers and combat probing would deal with the vast majority of the issues that the PvP:ers supporting these changes are espousing, without causing the myriad of issues that everyone else is screaming about. Is this change perfect? No. Would I rather have it than nothing? Absolutely. It is my hope that CCP will do as they have shown to be doing so much more over the past few years, and that is to take the overwhelming community response and iterate on the ideas put forward. Fleet warps and combat probing are cancelling out the skill differential that skilled players should be able to show, and restricting a ton of interesting variance on the meta of spaceship violence. It is a fundamental mechanic that needs to be addressed, but let’s do it without screaming at each other.
Tags: apothne, fleet warp

About the author


Apothne is a proud member of Sniggerdly and an experienced roaming FC. He is a Guest FC and Lecturer for EVE University and anyone who invites him to ramble on their comms for a few hours. He is currently one of the most active and experienced player commentators for EVE Tournaments, including hosting and casting AT XII-XV and all #EVE_NT leagues, as well as the Amarr Championships on stage at Fanfest 2016.

  • Dunk Dinkle

    Nice post. What do you think are the benefits of the fleet warp changes?

  • Insidious Sainthood

    Excellent post.

  • PB J

    “Fleet warps and combat probing are cancelling out the skill differential
    that skilled players should be able to show, and restricting a ton of
    interesting variance on the meta of spaceship violence.” You hit the nail on the head right there m8. Great post.

  • MuonNeutrino

    “What’s the bottom line? These changes mean line pilots need to do one or two extra clicks when they want to warp sometimes.”

    Thing is, this presumes that the fleet members all have the ability to warp themselves to wherever the FC was trying to warp them to. Within a corp, that’d be true, barring running out of space for corp bookmarks. Within an alliance or coalition, that’s only true if they’ve gone through the laborious task of sharing bookmark packs (which is a good example of fighting the interface rather than other players).

    But what about within an NPSI fleet? Impossible. And that makes me sad, because that’s 90% of my fleet time, and it’s a playstyle that I absolutely love and think has been good for the game. For all of the things that a group with shared bookmarks can do individually, an NPSI fleet will now have to laboriously push pre-arranged scouts forward and then fleetwarp to them. Ironically, in this case the changes increase the individual fleet members’ participation by exactly zero, since without shared bookmarks the only things they’ll be able to warp themselves to the FC will already be able to warp the fleet to. It’ll just make NPSI fleets slower, clumsier, and more frustrating both for the members and organizers.

    Perhaps the restriction in overall fleet tactics will be good for the metagame. All I know is that it’s going to kinda suck when we have to wait for scouts every system to provide gate tac warpins.

    • Netheran

      NPSI pick up grouping is the death of EVE.
      No context content that has no demand of its population besides logging in whenever they feel like it a knell of doom to a persistent universe that survives primarily off people feeling committed and like they have a stake in what they’re doing.

      Take away the reason to have a stake in anything, and you lose everything that makes EVE unique.

      NPSI has made EVE easy to pick up and drop. That doesnt benefit your ingame relationships, it doesnt benefit fostering a story, it doesnt benefit any that EVE is in its original self.
      The only thing it benefits is a no commitment playstyle.

      Thats fine if thats what you want, but remember that everyone else is truly being the ones that create the context in which you’re indulging in free content.

      Its like dipping out of your buddies ketchip with your fries. Sure he probably wont give a shit at first and will laugh saying go ahead.
      Then his ketchup is gone because of you, and you just asked him to put more on his plate so you can eat it.
      Excuse me while I plunge your throat with the bottle.

      • MuonNeutrino

        “NPSI pick up grouping is the death of EVE.”

        Bullshit. By CCP’s own figures, the overwhelming majority of eve players live permanently in hisec and never take part in those player-driven narratives to start with. Relative to that, NPSI fleets are a *gateway* – they get people out of that comfort zone.

        And realistically, if someone feels like NPSI fleets fit best with what they want in a game (namely, the ‘no commitment playstyle’ boogeyman), then taking that option away isn’t going to magically push them in the direction you want. It’s the same fallacy the music/movie industry makes when they count every download as a lost sale and ignore the fact that the vast majority of those would never have purchased anything to start with. Different people want different things, and taking away their options isn’t going to change what they want, it’ll just push them away.

        And finally, totally apart from that, ‘content’ is not a one-way street. If an NPSI fleet is getting ‘free content’ from going out and roaming, so are whoever they run into. I’d think that people would be happy to have content delivered onto their front doorstep without having to worry about said content trying to take their space.

      • Saint Michael’s Soul

        Wot? This is one of the most illogical “Eve is dying” posts I’ve ever read. +1 for madness.

        NPSI is often the first entry into group PvP for many new players. Most people who try it then get a taste for it. NPSI fleets are full of people from all kinds of organisations; You turn up and are effective a few times in a row, you’ll get all kinds of organisational invites.

        In my case NPSI roams were my only option to keep my hand in with larger fleets, due to my corp only being small and living in a WH (at the time).

        Your ketchup analogy is way off; In your case you and your friend seem to be ignoring the fact that there is a ketchup dispenser about 4 foot away on the counter – If you could be bothered to move, you wouldn’t have a content (sorry Ketchup) supply issue. Content in eve is not finite; its infinite – but you have to go and make the effort to generate it. NPSI is a form of content.

    • Apothne

      If you have a dedicated +1 then you don’t need to wait. It’s a very old fleet practice, and I’ve actually FCed quite a few NPSI fleets and have not relied upon the the fleetwarp to bookmark/probe mechanic in them just fine.

  • Bob

    The only thing what the change will make easier is … avoiding fights. If both parties want to fight, there is no difference. I’m opposing every mechanic change giving players more options to hide from a fight. Effective combat probing is the only existing counter for that atm. I’m really wondering why players who actually want to fight, welcome nerfs to combat probing.

  • Lich Reaper

    lol chessur, might as well make guns stop stacking and every module set on auto-cycle off.

    remove approach, orbit and keep at range… yea ok lets all manually pilot our space submarines with 1-tick server rate and our mouse.

    fucking retard

  • The Observer

    OK, so I agree that combat probing needs to change. I just don’t understand why CCP is changing ‘warp to’ mechanics instead of probing mechanics. Why fix the symptom when you can fix the actual problem?

  • JolietJake

    You’re missing the point here. Yes, you’re right people can and will adapt. OK, great. But the change ISN’T actually accomplishing CCP’s goal of getting more player involvement in fleets. The scout that was doing the combat probing (whether it be the FC or another member) is not gaining any noticeable participation except ‘warp to results and wait for fleet to warp to you.’ I think most people want changes that create more participation. This change doesn’t do that, but instead creates unnecessary tedium and more drawn out kiting/running before a fleet engagement occurs.

  • JZ909

    The best thing CCP could do to increase player participation is something they’re already doing: Fozziesov. Lack of player participation is a problem unique to large, sphere of death blob fleets. When Fozziesov is fully implemented, these will get less common as they won’t be agile enough to go after all the vulnerable points quickly enough which means smaller fleets. Smaller fleets equal greater participation, or at least reward that participation a lot more. Small gangs and wormhole corps don’t have this problem at all, there just aren’t enough people to get away with damage dealers that can’t tackle and mitigate damage on their own. CCP is reducing their quality of life dramaticly to deal with a null problem that they’ve already addressed.

  • JZ909

    I think the real issue is that with the current meta, there really aren’t a lot of interesting roles for players in big fleets. You need a couple scouts, you need a couple interdictors, you need an FC and then you need a giant blob of DPS with great tanks and a giant blob of logistics.

    As soon as capitals arrive, dedicated EWAR is pretty useless, and sniping fleets wreck them anyway, so it’s generally a waste of pilots to bring dedicated EWAR to a fight. 5 interdictors with a couple spare ships each is better than 100 tacklers, so there’s no need to put tackle on the DPS. Nuets are a valid thing to bring to brawl, because EWAR immunity doesn’t reduce the effectiveness of nuets, but that’s the only variation I can think of.

    Small gangs don’t have this problem, since they don’t have the luxury of bringing 5 of every specialized role to every fleet. Ships have to perform multiple roles, or nothing will perform the role at all, or will leave them 1 deep and very vulnerable.

    I see the problem, but in my opinion, this does nothing to address it and is a quality of life reduction for everyone.

  • Saint Michael’s Soul

    Perhaps 1 in 50 players are actually hardcore enough to fall into Chessur’s “acceptable standard” of piloting quality. If you remove every quality of life part of the game, just to suit the Chessurs of this world, you have a game that won’t be as able to attract new players, has an even higher learning curve than currently and as a result space would become even more empty than it is now. We want busy space, because that’s our content.

    HTFU is a valid viewpoint but removing things like “orbit” just because Chessur can click in space like a boss, doesn’t mean that it should be done. Being able to manually pilot well gives a solid advantage over those who just use their orbit buttons, let’s not take this away from those who AREN’T lazy by forcing lazy people down this route too.

    Fleet warp changes = good idea. Removing every quality of life option to do with piloting = bad idea.

  • Seb Ferraro

    Just one point I have Apoth. What about NPSI noob fleets that make use of such bookmarks to fleet warp. Spectre/Agony/Bombers Bar too, all use the FC’s bookmarks at some points. How do you think that will play out now?