The FAX Affair


February 9th has been looming down upon capital pilots for some time now. In late January the skillbooks for the new Force Auxiliary class capital ship were added to the Singularity test server. The capital focus group stumbled back into action again, with the majority of the chatter directed at CCP staff asking for information on the skill based transition between triage carriers and FAX. Naturally, the community also had those very same questions, and they went to people they knew on the focus group with them, but we had no answers to give. Personally, I was only able to provide my best guess, given all of the information I’ve seen, and what we’ve discussed as a focus group with developers present. You can read the logs from our discussion as part of the focus group here.

Essentially, we were all waiting on a devblog to come out. As it turned out, that devblog wasn’t ready for Tuesday 9th (patch day), and CCP presumably knew that they couldn’t just throw these new skills onto Tranquility, having said absolutely nothing about the transition. Hence we were greeted with a forum post.

Any character with Tactical Logistics Reconfiguration, a Carrier and Force Auxiliary skill (of the same race) injected when the citadels expansion launches, will have the racial carrier skillpoints refunded as unallocated skillpoints. These skillpoints can be reallocated instantly as the player desires.’

Unfortunately, this was contradictory when compared to the statement made at EVE Vegas, where the community was reassured that ‘If you can do it before the patch, you’ll be able to do it after the patch too.’

Here are the logs from our discussion as part of the focus group immediately after the forum post went up, and our communal notes directly relating to FAX implementation, dating from early December.

So, what does this actually mean for capital pilots? Let’s consider an ingame example: a character with Amarr and Caldari carrier skills trained to level 5, complimented by Tactical Logistics Reconfiguration, Remote Repair and fighter/drone support skills would be able to fly a Chimera or an Archon either as a fighter-carrier or as a triage carrier. This means that the individual who trained that character chose to invest training time, ISK, and real life currency (via subscription) in order to give that character its current level of functionality.

Post patch, said carrier pilot would have to spend the 1 billion ISK to buy Amarr and Caldari Force Auxiliary skillbooks, and choose whether he/she wanted to fly a Carrier, or a Force Auxiliary well, or both of them to a lesser standard. To train the skills to reach the level of pre-patch functionality would require ~60 days per race of ship or the injection of 3.5 million SP. For a character with over 80 million skillpoints, this requires 24 Skill Injectors, which at current prices is approximately 18 billion ISK per racial skill. Effectively, someone who has already weighed up the investment costs of capital training will now have to pay almost the same costs for a second time.

Possibly the worst part about it is that if you for example choose to ditch the carrier books, and just train for the FAX to perform the triage role. Your Fighters V and the majority of your drone support skills just became completely useless. Go the other route and go for a combat/EWAR support carrier? You’d have to consider buying extractors and cut out your Capital Remote Armor/Shield/Energy transfer and Tactical Logistics Reconfiguration (triage) skills.


So, why would CCP take this route?

Firstly, they are likely concerned that announcing that the racial carrier skills would be ‘duped’ into the new FAX skillbooks would cause players to ‘game’ the patch. This means everyone would immediately begin training carrier skills, knowing the skillpoints they were training would effectively be doubled, ultimately causing SP bloat on all characters with racial carrier skills and triage pre-requisites.

The obvious consequence of this is relatively recent. The introduction of Skill Extractors could be used to take advantage of skillpoint duplication that takes place during a patch. Personally, I consider this outlook somewhat flawed. Triage and carrier skills are considered ‘useful’ and people don’t train them by accident, or out of ignorance when they’re new (hi to everyone with defender missiles at level 5). It’s not really much more likely that people would extract these new ‘duplicated’ skills than any other. Certainly less likely than all of the former high-sec miners turned null-bears unplugging their Exhumers 5 skillpoints, or the hundreds of people unplugging leadership skills having already trained the command ships skillbook.

Skill Injectors also encourage lower-skillpoint focused characters, which means the idea of being able to do ‘all the things’ simply isn’t supported by their implementation. In the worst case scenario a character has all four racial carrier skills at level 5. It would cost ~70bil to retain the character’s current level of functionality – for which one could easily buy, four lesser skillpoint characters to fly each FAX instead.

You could argue that ship has sailed already, they’re here and it’s too late. More senior players knew very well that SP extraction/injection would favour younger characters, but none of us ever envisioned this happening, because we trusted in what we were told at EVE Vegas. There hasn’t been a devblog yet, so maybe we’re jumping the gun – but at this point I’m certainly concerned as to what direction this will take.

Skill Injectors themselves were initially met with skepticism by the community, though in general found support as the discussion progressed. This was mainly because Skill Injectors offer a benefit to newer players – which helps the game grow, and makes combat more accessible for those individuals. That’s good for EVE, and good for everyone.

However, the combination of Skill Extractors and their connection with that one small forum post that means all us carrier pilots will now have to train for 60 days to ensure we can still fly carriers, and can also do ‘Triage Carrier Version 2’, has led to a noticeable explosion within the community, most notably on reddit and Tweetfleet Slack.

It is certainly a very hot topic right now; a combination of poor timing with the release of Skill Injectors coupled with a lack of devblog-like information regarding upcoming changes has resulted in a wealth of criticism from many capital pilots. In honesty, right now the community is split in two. Those who feel they know enough to make an informed decision, and those who don’t. Personally I’ve heard enough to be unhappy; but I should probably just take my own advice and wait for the dev blog.

This evening, CCP Larrikin tweeted and posted on the official Eve Online forums, stating that they have heard the community’s feedback and are rethinking the Force Auxiliary skill transition plan. The community made that possible, one reddit thread in particular by Loroseco Kross (Hard Knocks Inc.) stands out. Framed as a ‘tears’ post, it presents a logical argument as to why the current proposal is flawed, and providing a platform for many others to comment and share their opinions on.

Constructive and logical posts are extremely useful to CCP. It is true that with thousands of players, one of the community will likely think of something the developer team hasn’t. But, whilst they’re obviously willing to listen to our thoughts and concerns – we should definitely leave our pitchforks in the garage!

Tags: Force Auxiliaries, Rocket X, Skill Extractors, Skill Injectors

About the author

Rocket X

Pandemic Legion FC, supercapital hunter, capital focus group member and casual smug-poster.