The Fanfest structure presentations were visually satisfying, and promised gameplay that sounded good. Aside from difficulties anyone had understanding CCP Ytterbium through his french accent, it is good to see him on the CCP team. I was excited about the whole thing. Then I thought about it a bit, and I saw a problem that made me pretty angry. The current plan is to add mooring to the game, and sometime later to remove POS forcefields. Mooring is an excellent supplement to the POS forcefield, but is an abysmal failure as a total replacement.
There is an excellent article on structure changes including mooring here. The simple recap is that mooring is like docking but the ship stays visible outside of the structure and if the structure is conquered the ship is free for anyone to take. Losing your ship aside, this is a really nice addition. You can safely dock up for short periods of time with no risk of ship loss and do whatever you want with your super character. Making supers not be space coffins is a good thing. The problem with this, is that you LOSE YOUR CAPITAL SHIP IF THE STATION IS FLIPPED. Only an idiot would moor for more than a short period of time. A typical super character might reasonably: Log in -> Moor super -> Do stuff -> Unmoor super -> Safe log.
I have a lot to say about the consequences of removing POS shields and only providing mooring as an alternative. I need to cover one thing first—it would be totally unfair not to acknowledge how far out in the future that state of affairs actually is. We are talking about some structures by the end of the year, and removing POSs in some nebulous distant future. Anything CCP says about the future more than a year from now, I disregard. They have proven that speculation that far out is a useless waste of time. Things change and holding a path planned a year before is a recipe for failing to adapt. So what made me so angry if I don’t think this is likely to see the light of day? I was upset by the message CCP sent about supercapital quality of life.
In particular, I am talking about logging off. If you moor your ship, you are in danger of eventually losing it. In Fozziesov, a station can be lost in only a few days of sov war, much less than a week of combat. Say you have a vacation, or you have to put in overtime at work. Maybe one of your relatives dies. Maybe you go on military deployment. Real life happens. I see a 3:00 morning call from your best in-game buddy asking for your log-in details so he can get your capital ship safely out. If you say, ‘No, I will not break EULA,’ then you are minus one super.
Right now, you can log off in a POS. The POS may get destroyed and bubbled, but you still have your ship. With patience, good planning, and good piloting you might be able to make a daring escape. People get out of sticky situations all the time. Even if you die in a fire at least it happens while you are at the keyboard as a result of your actions. Live or die, you are playing the game.
Safe logging in open space is not a very good option compared to a POS. At least you cannot lose your super while you are logged off. When you are logged in… it gets tough. There are people who hunt supers in that kind of compromised situation. They can be very persistent. It is not a good place for a super pilot to find themselves in. However, it is still better than mooring. Having a bunch of assholes hunting you down and waiting a year to kill you when you log-in is preferable to watching them fly away in your twenty billion ISK ship while you are logged off. Either way, it is not a pleasant experience compared to the relative safety of a POS bubble.
It may make sense to safe log within mooring distance of an appropriate structure. With the current plan, after POS force fields are removed, that might be most prudent. If something goes wrong, hit the moor button. The biggest problem I see is some sniper taking a potshot once every 15 minutes preventing a safe logout. Let me introduce Hobo Jamming’s younger cousin, Logoff Denial. I do not like him. He forces pilots to moor, which we just established was awful, or go find a safe-spot—a slightly less appalling flavor of awful.
My philosophy is that while supers may be too strong, the correct way to balance them is not to make life worse for super pilots who are not even in combat. Lower their damage and hitpoints or do something more creative with CCP Nerfbat if they need to be weaker. The game is not a job. CCP does not get to demand that people treat it as one. Bad things happen shortly after that step. It is okay for stations, structure, and sov to burn in the absence of an AFK pilot. No one ever piloted a station into glory. It is not okay for the same to happen to someone’s ships. Those should be whelped in person by someone sitting at their keyboard. There may be the objection, “What about assets trapped in conquerable stations?” That is not the same thing as immediately losing possession of a ship. Those assets can be used, and you can always undock at least once. Assets can be evacuated by spies or a third-party hauling service with docking rights. At the very least, a fire-sale can be had. Making something stay dead-zoned over the long haul is a very difficult proposition. Ditching all these options to create an environment that favors only the most dedicated pilots is not good. “The people who are always on call are the only ones who can hold supers,” is not a desirable outcome.
CCP has a lot of time to figure this out. It is entirely possible that CCP Ytterbium has a perfectly good plan to replace POS force field functionality, but has not gotten around to telling people about it. Maybe structures will burn in a fire, and the plan will be aborted. Maybe some other CCP employee will have an amazing idea that changes everything in a more opportune way. At the very least the CSM will be reasonable. The point is that CCP needs to provide a minimal quality-of-life for their capital pilots. We should not be waiting for someone to figure this out, and a third party need not explain this to them. CCP needs to know in their gut that player quality-of-life is the key to continued success.
Tags: mooring, Mukk, structures, supercarrier, Titan