More Frisbees Please

The many expansions that have been released in the last couple years have done a lot for PvP. We have wormholes, the lowsec revamp, and more recently, things like the ESS, or the concerted ship rebalancing effort. CCP has an obviously huge stake in making this content as interesting as possible. Some people, myself included, view these as the best small gang changes CCP has made in those past years. The problem is they have a fundamental flaw in their design. They are forcing changes through mechanics instead of incentives. I would like to refer to an idea that was popularized by a popular internet personality and game developer:

He postulates that if you were making a game in which the goal is to hit a tree, there are fundamentally a couple different ways of going about it. First is you give the player a baseball. He is either able to throw the baseball and hit the tree, or not. Second, you give the player a frisbee, and he has license to develop an entire style around hitting the tree, so much so that it becomes part of the game itself. CCP has segmented their population into three strata of players, lowsec, nullsec, and wormholes, and is working to fix these in different manners. This might seem like an obvious statement, but it’s an important distinction, in that smart ideas or mechanics should have as broad a usefulness as possible. Certainly we can all appreciate what a good faction warfare revamp does for those players, but it can definitely be limiting. There should be incentives for each group to both form up for large timers and break down into smaller groups for harassment. One of the long standing problems with wormholes is the lack of in game incentives to form up for large timers, and one of the long standing problems with nullsec is the lack of in game incentives to break down into smaller gangs. Let’s explore CCP’s recent changes. Apocrypha is widely considered one of CCP’s best expansions in the last three years. There they created an entire new way to play the game. Their solution was to artificially lower the amount of ships that can be a part of a single fight through mass limitations. This creates all kinds of interesting gameplay choices for the players to make. Is it worth bringing a capital to a fight when it might be problematic to return? How best do we bring our entire force to bear on the target? Perhaps we store the largest ships in a carrier and jump pods through to increase our mass. Maybe we have to bring everything we can and worry about escape as a secondary objective, creating a kill or be killed environment unlike any other in Eve. Now, I don’t speak about this simply to wax lyrical about how amazing wormholes are (though they are). I bring up these options because of how illustrative it is of the choice to use mass as a limiting factor. Faction warfare plexes are a fantastic addition to lowsec. I doubt very many people would disagree, as they open up an entirely different way to engage in PvP. The problem is their narrow sighted viewpoint of what it means to create this method of gameplay. Your choices in plexes where ship hull is the limiting factor, is how many big ships do you bring, how many small ships, or nothing. They nicely create a defensive advantage in that the aggressive player always enters the grid around the same area, but offer little strategic choice outside the norm. It does was it was set out to accomplish, but little more. You isolate your pilots into manageable groups and you can make your crazy faction warfare loot. The ESS is a great addition to nullsec, in that it adds a component to encourage combat between smaller entities. But look at little deeper, what it does is place ISK in a container inside a warp disruption bubble. While this is certainly a way to make Eve players fight each other, it doesn’t allow for any use of tactics outside the norm, let alone clever ones. CCP Rise, as Kil2, was once concerned with the changes to ship balancing, as he thought they took away the ability for a pilot to surprise the opponent. What are the clear ways to surprise the opponent inside plexes, or using the ESS? In Kronos, they decided to increase the number of kspace to kspace connections in the game. This is by no means a poor change, but coming from someone who uses these connections daily, this is not helping lowsec mature. Why can battle reports like this and this happen over and over again? It is because these losses are sustainable. You can lose these fleets and moongo, escalations, and renting can make up the losses so that you are still profitable in the long haul. Lowsec needs more lowsec activity, not the ability to go roam nullsec easier, as welcome as it may be. eve-ess You might ask, why bother with this discussion? You, dear reader, are not a game designer. Well, we need to understand what makes Eve strong in order to make it stronger. We have a game developer that is willing to listen to its player base, and these changes are immensely more satisfying as part of Eve, where they can be used to their full potential, than another game that doesn’t allow the unparalleled freedom to experiment. We need to make sure to ask for frisbees. Imagine, instead of POS siphons, we were given proximity mines. Think of the strategic ability for an alliance to litter the field with these defensive structures, thereby making approaching a fleet or an IHUB more difficult. Think of the ability to harass the enemy by placing them on stations, or surrounding a POS that contained a bridging titan before a big operation and exploding the fleet as it warps in for the crucial bridge. It might also create a defensive advantage, making those who had greater strategic preparation have a huge advantage in a fight, if certain gates to a system had mines. Imagine noble highsec warriors systematically filling an entire region’s ice belts with mines. Imagine a waves of coordinated interceptor pilots making suicide runs to quickly clear a minefield so supercapitals could gain access to a structure. It would be a way to control territory, a way to harass, and a battlefield tactic, all in one. Siphons are baseballs. You put them on a POS, and they work. Mines are a frisbee.
Tags: ess, joran, lowsec, pos, wormholes

About the author

Joran Jackson

Joran has a new twitter account. Follow him @SyncheofGames. When he's not writing about games he's probably playing them.