Wednesday, September 24, 2014

So... I have a Theory...

I have a theory when thinking about Eve game play. I consider human error to be a balancing point.

I didn't coalesce this into a theory until an argument about the medium micro jump drive happened where I felt it should have a distance of less than 100k and the other party said that breaking the distances down would make everything harder for the pilot. This was further exasperated by recent discussions about 'head shotting' fleet commanders and the subsequent end to the fight that it brings.

For anyone who does not know what head shotting a fleet commander (FC) means it is when the fleet commander is known or suspected and taken out at the start of the fight. The goal is to end the fight. Eve fleets are often controlled by one singular person. It is one of the many, many reasons that being a FC is stressful and being a good FC gives one a somewhat worshiped status. Some consider it poor sportsmanship while others point out that it is just another tactic when one is fighting a war to win vs fighting for fun.

My reaction when people suggest that something is introduced to stop or heavily discourage this mechanic tends to be incredulity. I understand the idea that when the FC goes down the fight is over and that is not fun but I put more than a little bit of the weight on the fleet. There should be more than one competent person in the fleet and if there is only one competent person then the FC is the fleets Achilles heel.

I'm a big believer in independent thought and action. Fleetwarp is a convenience not a necessity. I expect orders to be given and those orders followed. Is not that why we are in the fleet? If one chooses to not have independent abilities then one chooses to have that Achilles heel. If the desire is to have someone make the choices, think the thoughts, tell you what to do, with no input than simple button presses then one should also accept that if that person dies the entire operation goes down in flames.

I believe it to be an interesting balance measure. That if human interaction is required for an option to be used then automatically a certain amount of the time that interaction will fail and that option will not be used.

How many times have you forgotten to overheat? Or, a simpler case, forgotten to turn on a a damage control unit? How many times have we forgotten to turn off automation of Ancillary Armor or Shield boosters or undocked with the wrong modules fitted?

In many ways this wraps around my arguments over balancing for min/maxers when the majority of people will never be ether of these things. To stop Vov from Minmaxing would be to leave no content that I enjoy. There is another balance point outside of simple, raw numbers and that point is the nature of mankind.

Or so, my theory goes.

22 comments:

  1. I've always wondered why FCs kept flying in anything but cloaked ships.

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    1. Because if you're cloaked you can't lock up the primary/secondary and see if the opposing reps are holding or if your fleet are splitting dps or shooting the secondary early.

      To FC cloaked you need to delegate target calling to someone else and take a more strategic role.

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  2. Seems to me that FCs should either be cloaked up in an observation bookmark or have a designated chain of command. It's certainly a different situation but when I used to raid lead in WoW my guild wad always getting people practice on leading fights. This meant that if one of our main raid leaders was unable to log on the guild could still successfully raid. Spreading out leadership experience seems like it should be standard practice.

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    1. Raid? Guild?? Uh... we are talking about EVE Online bro...
      The WoW forums are that way -->... ok? (sheesh =]

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    2. Haha. I'm fairly new at this EVE thing and my MMO leadership experience is in "that other game". From what I've seen though this far is that the cat wrangling skill is pretty universal in trying to get people to do the same thing at the same time.

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    3. Now THAT is nothing but the truth... Cat herding stays the same, only the details change from game to game. =]

      We in EVE do however take some real pride in those differences... and it can grease the wheels a bit so to speak with many players if you avoid standard MMO speak and, as the saying should go...

      When in Rome call a corp a corp. =]

      Happy herding! and welcome to New Eden.

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  3. Given that being an FC, much less a good FC is not "easy" per se, but I have always wondered why thos e"good" FCs don't select a backup and work with him/her while the fleet is active. I have worked in middling largish Anoikis Merc fleets, say upwards of 50 guys... and we almost always had a Logi wing with it's own SC (Squad Commander) who worked with the Fleet FC.

    And I have experienced having our FC killed... and it usually went like this... "OK guys, I'm dead, somebody take over!!" (accompanied by hysterical laughter) at which point it turned into every man for himself with everyone's main goal to GTFO as quickly as possible and to hell with everyone else...
    you know, the ol' "I don't have to outrange the bad guys, I just have to outwarp my fleetmates." thing... =]

    Having a second in command (XO, Lt. Col or even a VP, Co-Director or Assistant Manager, etc.) who is ready, willing and able to jump in and take over command is a military (and hell, even a business) standard IRL... I never have understood why this is not so in EVE.

    And I agree, the Minmaxers are, I believe, not the majority of EVE players... but they are a very vocal minority it seems.

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    1. Eve Uni always designates a second and a third in command for every fight (in frigate roams the FC will often be taken out). I wonder why other corps don't do this.

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  4. That's the reason FCs tend to fly heavily tanked ships. "Go ahead, target me. We'll be killing you while you run into my brick."

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  5. I agree with your sentiment in general here. One of your examples, though, I take issue with: "Fleetwarp is a [convenience] not a necessity". Mechanically, this makes the fleet's faster ships warp more slowly to stay with the fleet. There's no human skill that can replace this. Not to mention, the ability to warp a fleet to a bookmark which only the FC has. I'd imagine there are more unique things about this. (I'd be fine if a fleet warp only took affect on fleet members who were already aligned--that would require coordination and discipline without nerfing the abilities I mentioned.)

    On the main point, depth of leadership is absolutely valuable and if one side doesn't have it then they are at a disadvantage. Shame on anyone for thinking otherwise.

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    1. True. The most obvious way of redoing this would be to let players throttle their warp drive (down, not up). Of course, maybe we could add fun by being able to drop out of warp at will, and then change interdiction to have the ability for bubbles (anchored or otherwise) to pull people out mid-warp.

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  6. Regarding the position of FC: it depends.

    I have been in fleets of experienced pilots who did take over as (un-appointed) backup FC when the primary FC got killed. Similar, if you're fighting a declared enemy, and need every tactical advantage you can get, primarying a known FC is a valid tactic.

    It's a different situation if you face a fleet of kitchen-sink pilots with no strategic purpose, and you know that none of the rank pilots could replace their FC - what's the point of head shotting their FC then? You don't have fun, they don't have fun, everybody knows that you were killboard padding, and ultimately your people might wander off in search for real challenges.

    Not all fights are created the same, and this is only a game after all. Close calls are more interesting than slam dunks.

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  7. Ever read Ender's game? I've often wondered what would happen if people actually fought closer to what the game mechanics seem to encourage: multiple commands in a tiered structure. If people actually coordinated well enough and used their radios skillfully, could you actually have a full fleet be 5-10 places at once and be effective? We already knows this happens with competent block leadership over fleets where the battle is spread over multiple systems.

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    1. Kneejerk reply…

      :effort: but also, if not more-so :killboard green:

      EvE's PvP does not endear itself to "lets try this" FCs: too real are the losses. At minimum, the stand-in FC will blame herself for making their fleet member grind for ships again - even if none of the fleet member's really minded.

      Ender and his comrades had the advantage that they could discover and develop their respective abilities in environments where no actual harm was done, and where they did not occur actual losses; and if you remember the point of the book, one reason why Ender was able to win the war was the fact that (spoiler!) he didn't know what he was actually doing.

      Compare that with EVE. There is no training dome. Even when just practicing, you might lose actual value[1]. And I also bet that more than one alliance is operating on the principle that any combat loss is bad and needs to be punished; discouraging creative resistance even further.

      I think the successful corporations/alliances in EvE are the ones who can look beyond the immediate results, and can ask "What did you learn from it?" And can hand out replacement ships for those who deserve them, even if those lose the individual battle.

      [1] Yes, there's Sisi. But it always felt like cheating to me. If you play an immersive persistent game, why should you have to take your practices out of the game itself?

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    2. Agree across the board on this one. And I hate Sisi... never ever felt like I was actually playing EVE...

      So frakkin weird to log onto a 'verse so like New Eden and yet so completely devoid of people... and all wormholes devoid of any POSes... effin creepy.

      The lack of people kinda freaks me out a bit actually... (and this from a wormholer... go figger huh?)

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  8. Sjaandi HyShan: Yes. I've been in fleets where we did this. In some w-space operations we would have up to 4 groups operating independently. One group bashing a tower down. One group combat scanning and chasing down/attempting to drag bubble (with a hic) the enemy fleet that was attempting to land and alpha out logi off field. One group camping our entrance in and one group continually ragerolling the static to prevent them from even trying to bring in reinforcements. It was hectic and crazy honestly only existed because of the nature of w-space: No cyno's in and few towers with hundreds of billions in loot.

    I've seen plenty of fleets that had back-up FC's but I think it's important to distinguish between real/objective based fights and roaming. If it's a timer fight, a merc contract or similar objective based fights most groups will have a chain of command/cloaked ships (I've even heard of people livestreaming the fightto a cloaked FC from a few other ships to make it more difficult to block a specific FC from leading). The objective (if the group actually cares about it) provides focus and usually makes it easier to teach a backup FC what to do. In a roam situation the FC's job of listening to intel, deciding direction and warps and what engagements to take/avoid/run from/dock up and logoff to avoid is far more nebulous and more difficult to teach. Add in the fact that most roams are held together more by charisma/force of will than any other factor and you begin to understand why headshoting a fleet allows the shooting side to pick off a bunch of low risk kills.

    Like so much else I think force projection makes this worse for many groups.

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    1. charisma / force of will ...there is much truth in this... Most of the good FCs I have known had just that and it seems it is a somewhat rare commodity...

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  9. If losing one member of your fleet will decapitate it then you deserve it. This seems to be part of the corrosive EVE mentality where some players are the 'content creators' and the rest are consumers who get given a doctrine-fit ship, told where to go and what to shoot. I imagine that a lot of them don't even log into the game unless they're told that something interesting is happening on Jabber.

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  10. When we fly, we have secondary and tertiary FCs identified even for gang with less than10 ships.

    You may not finish the fight with the FC you wanted, you will have an effective FC on the field when it ends.

    I cannot imagine being in a gang, small fleet, or large fleet without redundancy in any position, let alone an FC. Also, by rotating FCs (which we do when on our small-mid size fleet roams) we make it harder for the fleet to be headshotted.

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  11. We fly with a secondary FC most of the time, very rarely do we not have someone in fleet who can take over if the FC gets popped.

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  12. This is why in military units, you have a chain of command established right down to the very last man. If any individual is lost, everyone knows who is supposed to take over that role, and the hole is immediately filled.

    In a game like EVE, the advantage goes to the players who utilize these sorts of tactics.

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