Thursday, September 20, 2012

Mission NPC changes = Fleet, New Players and Lowsec hit Hardest

There is a dev blog out as to changes in the mission AI. It has already wrung tears out of me. I have a lot of problems with the change. It is not that I think that there should not be change. I believe that this fix is not going to do it as people think it will. This is a lot of long reasons on why I don't see the aggression change as a fix to making PvE more engaging but a sideways nerf to fleets, lowsec, lotsa nullsec and new players.

This blog is called low sec lifestyle because I live in low sec. it is not called pewpew lifestyle because pewpew is not all I do. I live in low sec like people live in high sec. I do everything here but sell my goods. I am one of a small group of people that like here.

Of late low has had some interest n the areas. Improvement. It seemed like people were starting to care about the imbalances in the various areas. However, I fully believe at this time that a flat introduction of NPC mechanic changes as stated in the dev blog will only be a detriment to low sec and null sec.

Tthe changes to the NPC mission AI is geared towards making the NPCs change their targets. Tthis is already something that happens in incursion sites and sleeper sites in wormholes. Both of these things are considered high end gameplay .

This change will mean that normal mission NPCs, belt NPCs, exploration NPCs, DED site NPCs and anom NPCs will also change. I have a lot of problems with this.

let me state that there was an exploit not that long ago where someone set up a nice system of doinga particular set of missions afk. there are also setups that can handle most missions in an afk manner once agression has been spanwed. a lot of these changes are geared to fix that problem.

let me now say that these people are not everyone.

High Sec
When most people think missions they think the high sec mission runner. This person does endless nonchanging missions. If they max out they can make 100mil isk an hour. They are doing this solo. They have picked a ship and learned the missions. They do it textbook style. Changing the NPC aggression mechanics will not affect this person unless they are a Dominx pilot. Dominx are battleships that use drones. Drones are now going to be randomly targeted by NPCS. This also affects Rattlesnakes. Another ship with a massive tank and functionally all of its DPS from its drones. Any ship that shoots via its drones will now have its guns shot out from under it, randomly. This means recalling and redeploying the drones.

Management is good. It stops people from going AFK. However, once the drones are done the ship will have to leave the mission and buy more. I guess that qualifies as being out of ammo? Except you can't load your entire cargo hold full of drones to deploy over and over again. Your drone bay is your limit.

Level 4 mission runners are a well hated group. The ISK per hour is considered too good, too easy, to simple. The missions themselves are too predictable and to boring. This change means nothing for most of them. They stay exactly where they are. This will not making mission running more dynamic and more interesting for them except that their drones might get shot.

How about the next group of mission runners? Fleet mission runners. There come in several flavors. Often lower skill point characters combining their skills and abilities or corporations taking out lower level players and working through content with them. What normally happens is that the tank ships go in and get the aggression and the lesser ships go in and blow shit up. With randomly changing aggression mechanics every player will have to be able to have a certain about of well roundedness to it. So no more high DPS paper tank ships. I can deal with that. I am not worried about that.

I am worried about the lower level player in a destroyer. With random aggression changes he faces an incredibly high chance of popping for being in content that is 'above ' him. The balance for that should be the logistic ship. However the logistic ship is now considered a 'higher threat' and has an even higher chance of taking that aggression. That means we need two logistic ship just to keep a logistic ship on the grid to do... you know... logistics.

But, I'm not worried about high sec. I'm not. They don't have to deal with people trying to kill them as low sec/null sec does. Wormholes already have this system and wormhole content is not where you expect new players to spend all their time getting their feet. The content there isn't that hard. I feel that fleets being larger and socialization is a good thing. I suspect that less socialization will be the end result. People would prefer to solo then thin their ISK per hour even more amid a larger group. I'm worried about low sec and null sec.

Low Sec
I am worried that low sec and null sec content will become to exclusive for newer and lower skill point players.

Let's start with level 1-4 mission running in low sec. Very few people do them. The risk vs reward is not enough to replace the ships the pirates will destroy. Most of them do it solo. Changing the aggression mechanics will not change this.

However, when you leave this pocket and move to level 5 missions or ded sites that do not spawn in high sec everything changes. These sites are almost always group activities. Ships that can do them alone don't do them fast.

Why don't I see this as the answer?

So why am I whining? I am already doing the mission with several people.

Yes, now I have to add another logistic character into the mix. I now need two logis for any serious content so that they can keep themselves up. They are going to be seen as more of a threat. Logistic ships are cruiser sized. They are nice ships but they are not some awesome baller tanked creature. When a logistic ship is targeted it can go down qickly. The entire reason to take them is to have them repair. Now the NPCs are chasing them off grid. A fleet easily fail cascades.

By CCP Foxfour:

Logistics ships do generate a lot of threat as far as the NPC are concerned and will probably switch to them pretty quick. As for exactly how this will change your strategies, well that we shall have to wait and see.

So taking the proper fleet composition is now seen as more engaging content.

The next thing that it affects is newer players.

When I started missioning I missioned with an experienced player. I was in a caraylst and only a few weeks old. we went into level four missions. I was told to kill frigates while the big ships killed the big things. I felt like I did something.

When I got into low sec I was taken into level five missions. I killed NPCs and salvaged. speed and time were of the essence. people often tried to kill us. We spent a lot of time leaving missions and waiting for groups to pass. Learning to balance the mission and the living in low sec was part of the entire process.

When I got to doing exploration sites I did them with a DPS tanking ship and a covops ship. I've lost a dozen covops ships to NPC spawns. That ship was made out of paper. Many times I did the site by kiting NPCs and popping the containers and then bailing. This was a challenge to me.

As I got older I trained my own logistics ship. I was able to tank the rooms only with my logi. often times I still had to bail a few times.

Move forward to almost current time and I spend a lot of time doing the things that others did for me. I tank the rooms while my newest corpmates supports with frig and cruiser killing or he kills towers or he pops the cans. Often I can only stay because of my logistic ship. I have logi five trained to keep her cap stable. With NPCs changing their aggression he will have to wait until the site is cleared of NPCs. That means that kiting them and speed tanking them won't do anymore. I have to get htem far away from him, I have to have a logi with him, or kill them all first. I can function with that. Its harder and makes the fact that half the time you don't get anything even more frustrating but its doable.

My Biggest Worry is Exclusion of Low Skill Point Players

With the new changes bringing a new player into any type of serious DPS won't happen. Bringing a small ship in won't happen. They would have to at least be in an assault frig to have the time to get off the grid before they died. This creates an exclusion to lower skill point characters that is currently overcome with a properly balanced fleet. This is one of the major problems I am having.

My logistics ship would be heavily targeted. This means that a second logistics ship would have to be added to keep the first up. logistics ships are already weaponless. for a tough site I am running all of my high slots with repair modules. now my logi will have to leave as will my dps ship.

What is the point of this? Two logis on grid? Two of everything? No new players in anything that they cannot solo? No new players in low sec and null sec doing NPC missions? Or only if there are 2 or 3 logis on the field?

Not everyone solos their NPC experience. The world is not defined by the level four high sec mission runner. While there is a call to have engaging content the people that want to be engaged are the people that are less affected by the content change.

I cannot help but believe that this is a nerf to income not a buff to the pve experience. By slowing down PvE or flat out eliminating content from certain types of players the ISK faucet that is bounties will slow down.

Friends Equal Harder Content

Iit is a nerf to fleets. we spend endless amounts of time telling people that they matter. That they can come and assist in a mission. Now, unless they can fly this and fit that to damn bad because they will instantly pop if the aggression switches. Also, with the changes the fleet will need to be larger from the start which means people will go for the solo choice instead of the nerfed ISK choice. ISK per hour will dictate how people decide to play. They will figure out how to do some content solo faster than other content slower with less reward.

Players want to be engaged only when it is not a detriment to their rewards. Low sec calls for a higher risk due to people trying to kill you. Now you have harder content and people trying to kill you. By the way, it also nerfs the people trying to kill you because now they have to try to kill you and manage the aggression changes.

The Small Guy is Screwed

No more hero frigs tackling stupid carriers. Before assistance can arrive the NPCs will have popped the frig. The carrier sails free into the sunset to continue its solo derping everywhere.

No I don't just hate PvE

I cannot think that this is thought through. I am not saying that pve content has to suck but this is a quick fix to a problem that I feel is different from the one stated.

There is a little statement tossed in there about making pve more like pvp on the thread. This is why the NPCs need to switch targets and prioritize. Because then PvE is more like PvP. Of course. I'm sure that the NPCs will be taking down all the falcons and blackbirds jamming them. Just. Like. Pvp.

Just Problems

Suddenly, fleet requirements become like incursions. People have to post their fit and maybe they can come along otherwise they are going to die. where is the beauty in taking a lower skilled player under ones wing and letting them cut their teeth on things. Now they will die. They will die a lot.

I wonder if ccp knows their own content or have the wails of high sec mission running been so high that they are blinded. They are testing it themselves. I asked if they are trying to PvP each other. No they are not. Okay, then you are not testing anything but you doing missions in spawned stuff. The incursion nerf had the 'unexpected'(?) side effect of destroying the low and null sec incursion running fleets. The risk vs reward made it not worth it.

In low and null sec you are already engaging in pvp. People hunt you down. You hunt people down. taking NPC damage already has you at a disadvantage. We already do that when we take GCC. Oh yes, now jumping someone in a mission or exploration site means that hte attacker has to deal with NPC damage. No more small stealthy ships sneaking up on people and holding point. Now they are insta blapped by the NPCs.

No more people coming into missions and baiting the mission runners. Ninja salvaging is regulated to combat ships. It is certainty not for newer players anymore. No level 4 missions for them to come salvage in their little dessie. You can't scan down a wreck to go and salvage it. So salvaging as a profession now means you have to find a mission runner, run in, book mark, and bolt. How.. thrilling. I guess that is the engagement that the Ninja Salvagers have been flooding the forum for. I must have missed those threads.

No more Noctis on grid to get the field cleaned up before people come and kill you in low sec. Salvage is now consensual in general. Guess the guy who whined about ninja salvagers being an exploit has won with a backhanded fix.

I am reminded of when employers punish an entire department for the crimes of a few.

I will log into the test server this weekend and play. I hope I'm just angry and frustrated and totally wrong. But holes are being poked quickly. People are dancing. "Yay missions are more interesting!" How are missions more interesting for the average solo players? They are not. They are only harder for new players, fleets, and decrease the reward given in lower security space.

That's why I'm not onboard with this. I don't feel that it is a better way as things are currently structured. But it will, I believe, dry up some of the ISK faucet that is the bounty system and that is a more major player in this then is being spoken of. And I'd probably be angry but more understanding if they said, "We need to make it harder for the ISK to be earned" then saying, "This is more engaging for you." Because what I hear is, "New Players not allowed."

5 comments:

  1. What you seem to forget is that npcs will attack ships based on threat and especially SIG RADIUS. This means that a noob frig or dessie will not be targeted by big ships. With a proper mission fit small ship, the newb will be able to handle them. The logi is another thing and seems pretty balanced to me. Just my opinion. :)

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    1. People who like flying logi will deal. It will ether fustrate people more or Eve may do a thing that its good at and force people into logistic ships as a general requirement from corps. The cruiser re-balance could be good for this. That will give a larger pool of logistic ships to a group and hopefully mitigate the issue of the helpless ship trying to run off.

      I instantly made a cleric/healer in Aion. Its one reason my game isn't exactly easy to play in an easy game.

      Foxfour also states this to someone with the same worries as I have about newer players. Ships want to go after their own class.

      I know its all in testing still. Which is why I want to do my complaining, ranting, tears, rage, and whining now not when patch notes come out cuz I didn't pay attention.

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    2. Also here are a few level 5 missions.

      This one has 12 frigs and 10 destroyers on first spawn

      This one starts with 15 cruisers, then spawns 6 frigs, 6 frigs 4 cruisers

      And those are not the faction ones or that horrible broken jailbreak concord one.

      Just saying, this is the content that we use to help our new players. Players that we ask to plunge into low sec early on and learn it. I can't help but feel this will be heavily affected.

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  2. I am not fully sure what to think of these changes. On the one hand, they have the potential of making missions more interesting, especially when run in a group, and if the NPCs select their target based on ship class, even new players should be able to participate in higher-level missions.

    On the other hand you have good points regarding solo drops on unsuspecting mission runners (for whatever reason) - these will become quite harder. Ninja Salvagers might even be the least affected here, if they put a bit more tank on their ships.

    In the end, this is all speculation - we'll have to give the new system a shake out once it hits the test servers.

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    1. The biggest group that complains that missions are not interesting are solo mission runners and vets who want new content. Not players that already have to group up to do content a bit above them.

      But, shrug. If this is what people define as interesting then it is what people define as interesting.

      I didn't even get into the entire 'pve in pvp fit ships' argument that happens in low. Many players are already not fitting their ships to their missions in the same way a high sec player does.

      And yup, off to test it.

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