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The Past's Cracked Door

"Sugar," said the grizzled veteran as he leaned forward and eyed the hangar below. His heavy forarm was scarred and tattooed from finger tips to elbow. The other was cybernetic. I didn't know if it was choice or circumstance that had given him that synthetic arm. Capsuleer's can have odd tastes. But it was his voice, heavy with confidence and irritation that captured my attention. "You need to figure out a way to get real ships back in space." He looked at me for a moment, his eyes a startling bright silver under dark brows.
It was only a few weeks after I had been elected to the Council of Stellar Management. I was in a looking over a fleet of scared battleships in an atmospheric repair dock. It was not the first time that I had heard these words nor was this the more battle worn capsuleer I had heard it from. My own corporation was in system for repairs after a fight over one of ours mining starbases. That may have been what drew this veteran to come find me and deliver what he needed from me as a speaker on the Council. The only problem was...
One of the things that I do not think some people realize about my Jaguar fixation is that I chose to fly Jaguars. I chose to fly them to fill a particular need in the fleets that we flew in after Retribution nerfed the game of battlecruisers online. Before Retribution, Jaguar's were my belt ratting ship that I used to grind up security status. They were sturdy enough to take down a battleship and fast enough for me to run away from anyone that came to hunt me down.

The nerfing of battlecruisers came with the buff to cruisers and frigates and Eve as a game changed. Eve's meta changed and Eve's players changed, kinda.

The thing about people who are good at the game is that they are flexible enough to work with the changes of the game. Battlecruiser use decreased while cruiser usage increased. The rebalance of faction cruisers and T2 cruisers only accelerated that and battlecruisers fell to the wayside. Battleships started to see less use now that they were going up against cruiser packs. Counters, hard counters, and ISK are factors to a fight as well no matter how much I may like it or not. A cruiser gang could take out a battleship pack. Then with Rubicon came warp speed changes and battleships were sent back to the dock.

Now, this is a very loose history of my understanding of ship use in the low sec space where I lived. Molden Heath is not faction warfare low sec so these changes meant that cruisers became king. I selected the Jaguar because properly fit I sacrificed DPS for speed and tank. I possessed enough EHP to hold a tackle on a gate under gateguns. I once did that very same thing in a battlecruiser but now we were not facing battlecruisers and battleships but other cruisers and we needed to be faster.

I started to fly a frigate. Later, I moved into interceptors for more strategic off gate fights and null sec adventures. It was not until my CSM run that I started having people come to me and sigh about the swarms of 'shit ships' and the lack of 'real fights'.

While I was living in Molden Heath, over in Faction Warland the rebalanced had invigorated them as well. Mixed with some actual attention for faction warfare and depths of space became thick with frigate and destroyer packs. The rate of ship destruction in low sec accelerated and and the size of hull decreased across the entire spectrum. There were more fights, more explosions, and more destruction than ever before.

Move forward a year to my CSM run and the grizzled vetrins that I handed a saucer of tea to as they came to visit my hanger. With more kills and targets then ever I was meeting grumpy, angry, upset people who kept telling me that they where tired of people flying shit ships and they wanted real fights.
"What," I asked, "Is a real fight?"
"Battlecruisers. Battleships. Something that matters. A fight a man can get into and commit himself to. Everything is frigates. But people are tired of them. There should be places where only battlecruisers and up can go. You can let the T2 logistics in. Then we'd have real fights. Real fights that mattered." He wasn't looking at me anymore. I don't think he was even looking at the ships below us. He was looking at his own memories. But those memories...
How do you force mechanics? The most common suggestion that I have heard is for a restricted faction warfare complex. One that only allows battlecruisers and above and T2 ships. Real ships it seems cost a certain ISK value. If people want tackle they can allow T3s and recons in but they cannot have frigates.

What about exclusion? I've received some blank looks about that. In a game where we pride ourselves in horizontal gameplay when did we start slotting in vertical ladders? Can we beam in pride at the ability of a new player to get a few hours training and tackle something on field if we then tell them that they are not old enough/rich enough/fancy enough to come have this fight.

I don't care for exclusion. I understand that the core of the idea is to create the fight that the veteran used to have. It is not that they want to exclude new players but that they want people to fly something else. Something that is not a cheap, disposable frigate.

Now, I could dismiss them and for a while I was mostly shocked. However, as the topic kept coming back up and I started to listen a bit more I realized that they missed the past. In Eve's forward momentum it had left behind an era. It was an era that may not have been what CCP wished but it was an era of time where many current players grew up. And they have lost that and now have only memories.

 I've been told that everyone wants these new battlecruiser and expensive only ship restrictions. I have not found any basis for that outside of the circle that wishes for a particular type of combat. And, as with every type of combat out there we have a few problems.

  1. We cannot make people fly and fight in particular ways, we can only encourage it. 
  2. Sometimes some things do not exist in all types of space, equally. That includes our preferred types of fight.

One of the things that I miss most are the old blue explosions that ripped across your screen like a miniature super nova. They were gorgeous and the new golden puff swirls don't come close to the sheer brilliant instant of destruction that the old explosions once had. It is a little thing. Yet, over time, as little thing and little thing is whittled away we are left with a void full of intangible but fond memories and a reality of change accepted but not always loved.

The future is change and the past is behind us. Do we want to encourage people into bigger ships? I watched a four month old player plan his Vindicator purchase today for a PvP environment. To encourage larger ship usage through forced PvP game mechanics will only increase those types of situations. That is not a fight but a meat grinder of incapable pilots. If that satisfies the itch then I may not understand what a real ship is.

Fortunately, while I knew few who will say no to the meat grinder slaughter of poorly trained piloting, I do not think that is the over arcing goal of the requests that I have received. At the same time, I don't think they are fully fleshed out ideas insomuch as voiced desires and laments of change.

There is also a cost factor that I almost skipped. A few months ago I read a blog post that has sat in the back of my mind since then. The author was going to high sec to kill high sec players who did not expect it and destroy their corporations so that he could feel as if he had actual implact. Null sec. Low sec. Wormholes... all of those places expected loss and he gained no satisfaction from his opponents casual acceptance. In that I began to understand that expense, for ISK efficiency in combat is a much spoken upon topic, had become a measure. People were no longer hurt by simply losing they wanted to feel the destruction and gasp a bit when the loss totals slammed into their wallet.

But can we ever go home again? Back to the time when all loss hurt and all fights caused our hands to skitter across the keyboard? When the booming thud of capitals landing on grid echoed in the tunnel that our vision had become during combat? Can game mechanics ever bring that back?

In the end it does bring forward the fact that some ships are remarkably undesirable to pull out and fight in in low sec space. It may be balancing or environment, the meta or the market, but the rise of the cruiser and frigate hull has happened and they reign over our memories past.

Comments

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  2. (Del'ed and editing 'cause I kant spel... sheesh...)

    With what looks like concurrent user and sub numbers dropping it seems to me that CCPs attention has turned strongly to attracting and retaining new players... I see the current Frigate/Cruiser focused ship/mechanic iterations as being very NPE/NPR driven.

    BCs and BSs are, as you stated, not noob ships, and right now noobs are in CCPs crosshairs. Whether or not this swing back to more BC/BS centric gameplay will probably be determined by sub/user numbers.

    If CCP can make the numbers begin to climb again... or they accept that the games playerbase has plateaued and is as large as it's going to get without radically changing the nature of this very niche of niche MMOs... then we may see a normal cycle of balancing from large to small to large etc. etc. ...

    CCP has shown they are at least trying to work hard to keep us from getting complacent... or at least, once they do recognize that (1) a mechanic or set of them has become too static and (b) they can schedule time/effort on them, they are trying to come up with iterations, balancing and changes to existing mechanics and/or create new mechanics and gameplay to keep us constantly interested and excited in the game...

    Your 'grizzled vetrins' are, IMHO as you say pining for their 'good ol days'... what they don't realize is that one day, today's noobs will be pining for their good ol days' when the Frigate was King...

    Change is the ONLY constant, in both the the real world and in our virtual 'verse... =]

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  3. I find it interesting that I meet new players in my newbie Corp that have always 2 wishes: a) I wanna flight that shiny pirate faction BS on day 1! b) I don't want to ever ever loose my ship!

    Now we have those veterans who ask for real fights and they mean they want to fight big shiny ships. So a) they have in common with the newbies. But when you dig deeper you find that it's not about the size of the ship or the quality of the fight, it's about collecting tears. Frigate losses don't hurt enough. So fundamentally the opposite to the interest b) of newbies.

    Well, it seems to me they want two contradicting things. Either you have lots of fights and people become good through that process hence you have interesting fights - you then buy these fights with the fact that people will use cheap ships because it doesn't hurt to loose them. That's what we have now and imho that's good for newbies and veterans as well. OR you force people to use expensive ships, then it will hurt badly and people will stop fighting thus you will get LESS fights and with that significantly less people giving you a GOOD battle because they don't have enough ISK to invest in getting the experience they need to become good. That would be a loss for everyone. If it really was about the size of the ships, you could make them more affordable ... but the vets have already exposed themselves: it's not about the ships, it's about tears.

    I see no sense in this. This has nothing to do with doing something for the veterans. I'd always support doing something for the existing player base. But doing something against the player base just because they THINK that's they want? Get your thoughts consistent, then we can talk.

    I'm glad that you process all opinions, Sugar, but still have your own clear mind.

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  4. Few people understand more the wish of these veterans than me. I positively hate frigate PvP, because it's *not* a fight. You can't win, nor you can lose, since neither party gives a damn about a frig loss.

    However he is wrong to cry to CCP as CCP already answered our cries: they gave us RLML, Caracal Navy issue, Orthrus, these are the tools that you need to clear up frigate trash.

    Hell, when I was shooting Goon POCOs and they came to tackle my grinding Taloses in interceptors, I warped in a 8 RLML *Navy Drake*. They first tackled me as "omg noob brought shiny". Then you should have seen them running like cockroaches after the first salvo. I couldn't kill one, but they didn't come back in their crap.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Gev you are such an ubervet... I sit in awe...

      Oh and yes you CAN lose or win a frig fight you dolt... ship exploded is ship exploded, podded is podded...

      You and those other vets don't give a damn about a frig loss because you don't feel it was a great enough ISK loss to actually count and that just shows how very little you remember what it was like to be a noob...

      Only bitttervets value ISK before the fun and excitement of simply flying a ship in any fight. Some of the most pure fun PvP I ever had was in RvBs daily frig fests. And ask Rixx Javix if frig fights are not real fights...

      Delete
    2. Actually, being a vet I give no fucks about ISK Tur ;-)
      Not that I agree with Herr Gevlon, but I'd have to lose like several hundred blinged out Battleships to go bankrupt. Losing one of those is just as meaningless ISK-wise as a Frigate.

      ISK is poor measure of anything in EVE because of how much of it there is. Economic loss means nothing anymore to anybody but the very newest of players (and then only if they're not in a SPR alliance).

      I'm not even sure it's a bad thing. I hate risk aversion much more then people not feeling their losses.

      Delete
  5. What this essentially means is "I want to fly my big shiny, but I don't want to lose it to a T1 cruiser fleet."

    There is a real problem hidden behind that complaint, which is that the power of T1 ships, combined with the strongly encouraged tendency of EVE players toward risk management, combined with the warp speed changes, mean collectively that only PVE players have much of a ship progression beyond max-skilling their Vexor--which, admittedly, takes a long time. Basically, after cruisers, you have T2 frigates, HACs, LOL T3s, and then relatively distant targets like Orcas and Command Ships that are mostly flown by alts anyway. And the downside of the PVE ship progression is that it encourages a theme park mentality that bigger is better.

    As far as new player retention goes, CCP's current ship balancing is in a place where new players can feel useful very quickly, but they have little to look forward to beyond cruisers--except in PVE, but there's not much to look forward to there until CCP rolls out the new system. (Has anyone at CCP considered throwing out the whole small->large ship progression and starting over?)

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  6. Personally, what I'd like is a bit more variety. In null, we mostly see interceptors, with regular large AF fleets coming through. Oh, and of course the Ishtar flotillas that come through just about nightly. The occasional faction cruiser (solo or in gangs of 4-5) is a relief from the monotony. Even fleets of t1 cruisers would be a nice change, but that won't happen - they're too bombable, not nullified, and the warp speed changes have made them seem sluggish.

    This isn't about me wanting to fly shiny, or big, it's just that I'd like to spend less time in a gimmick ship whose only purpose is to combat the nullified, 2 second warping meta. As a small entity, we're probably doomed to spend a lot of time in whatever rock will break the current meta's scissors, but at this point that meta seems awfully one-dimensional.

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  7. If you want real or interesting pvp, surprise eat the blue doughnut agreements you have.

    Interesting. People that don't or wont understand frig pvp or think it's trash are as closed minded as I am about large ships.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I have to admit, I miss the days when battlecruisers were thing of majestic beauty, and fire-breathing Hurricanes were roaming the space lanes.

    Yet I enjoy the current age of small T1-ship PvP. Frigates, Destroyers and Cruisers are challenging to fly, finally competitive, actually feel like space ships, and are comparatively cheap.

    Cheapness is a factor for me, because I have thoroughly tired of the ISK grind. Apart from sporadic PI infusions, I am still living off the ISK savings I accumulated in my previous life as industrialist. For me, even frigate losses hurt (which in turn means that for me, every fight matters).

    That is not to say that BCs and BSs should not find a new role in commonplace PvP again. It would be nice to see them more often again - not to replace small ship combat, but to enhance it, complement it, to add variety.

    And for the adrenaline junkies, to add to the thrill of potential loss.

    ReplyDelete
  9. It's a crap argument from the vets, many frigates I fly cost more then Battlecruisers I used to fly back when did. After the insurance return they cost less for sure*.
    You don't even have to bling an AF much, 20 mil for an AF hull, 35 mil for a DED space prop mod, 20 mil for 2 T2 rigs, another 10-20 mil for the rest of the fit.
    And presto you're flying 80-100 mil in hardware even if it is a frigate.

    The real complaint is I suspect that a a couple of these 100 mil AF's will shred a 1.5 billion+ Machariel if the frig pilots are competent.

    Anyway further plex limitations are *imho* a bad idea it just balkanizes PvP even more.

    *The insurance argument also applies heavily to non-pirate T1 battleships, because the insurance payout is based on mineral cost, T1 battleships are comparatively cheap to PvP in the actual loss tends to be around ~100-150 mil after insurance payout. So that's only 50-70 million more then a mildly blinged AF fit.

    ReplyDelete
  10. "I was in a looking over a fleet of scared battleships in an atmospheric repair dock."

    Sorry to nitpick, but that sentence needs some work. I'll presume "I was in a looking over" was intended to be "I was looking over". And unless you're not referring to their state of damage but are instead implying that the ships are actually experiencing fear, I believe the word you are looking for is "scarred".

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'd say the "in a" is just an older sentence fragment surviving the editing process; and while you may be right about the scared/scarred, I like the image of frightened battleships huddling together for safety :)

      Delete

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