I plan to write more on my thoughts on the broader Rubicon feature set, but the two devblogs CCP Fozzie published in the last two days deserve special attention and a post of their own. The first is about the deployable mobile structures for Rubicon. The second is on SMA loot drops, T3 refitting in space, and CSM crowdsourcing of little things.
Let’s be nice and start with the praise.
SMA Drops, T3 Refits, and the CSM
The SMA/T3/CSM blog is full of goodness, even if its contents could certainly be perceived as a bugfix (SMAs), a feature that should have always been there (T3 refitting) and some cheerleading (CSM). But I reject that cynical view for a couple of reasons. Specifically, as I have said elsewhere on this blog, having something like the CSM is an extreme rarity in this industry, to say nothing of a capability to crowdsource game design recommendations. If you want to split hairs, the CSM guided CCP not to decide what features to make, but decide what features to fix. That’s something that the playerbase, the CSM and CCP should all take pride in.
Especially when they’re fixing wormhole problems. 🙂
Deployable: Mobile Depot
Sadly, I can’t express the same happiness with the first devblog (mobile structures). In my initial preview of the announced Rubicon features, under “Things I’m Concerned About” I said:
Make it probeable, visible on D-Scan, destructable (and able to drop loot), unachorable by anyone when unfueled (or similar) and then I’ll be in favor. Don’t give us more permanently-anchored abandoned mini POS towers that we have to grind down and then never get anything for the effort except the ammo bill.
But sadly, that’s what we’re getting. Let’s go through Fozzie’s detailed comments in more depth.
The Mobile Depot is the most fundamental of Rubicon’s Mobile Structures. It is intended to provide a simple home base that can be placed anywhere in deep space and used for item storage and ship refitting. Depots will be the least expensive of all the Mobile Structures, falling well under 1 million isk worth of materials. They deploy with a one minute delay and require no skills to use. They also fit into almost all ships, taking only 50m3 of space when inside cargo holds.
Once deployed, the Mobile Depot provides 3000-4000m3 of cargo space and a fitting service…
So far, so good. Cheap, easy to haul out. The space in it is sizable but not ridiculous. Surely for a cheap, small thing it will be a great tool for tactical use, yet be easily destroyable so that it doesn’t become an overpowered every-nullsec-PVPer-carries-one deployable that can be used for days on end in a siege, but instead become conflict drivers in and of themselves due to risk of destruction? Surely with all the dead POSes littering wormhole space, CCP wouldn’t make these things in any way tough to add to the endless stream of space litter. Right? These are simultaneously going to be convenience items with short-term defense and then becoming loot pinatas, to benefit both PVP and PVE, to benefit both noob and veteran, both attacker and defender?
…both of which are only accessible to the pilot that owns the structure … Although it only has 17,500 effective hitpoints, the Depot is the only one of these four Mobile Structures to enjoy a reinforcement timer, and this reinforcement follows rules that are slightly different than other structures. When shot to 25% shield the Depot enters an invulnerable reinforced mode for exactly 48 hours, after which it once again becomes vulnerable. When it exits reinforced mode the Depot will have 0% shields. The shields will recharge naturally. As long as the shields remain below 25%, the Depot can be damaged into armor and then structure with no further reinforcement. If the shields reaches 25% charge, the Depot will once again be capable of entering reinforced mode. The twist is that at any time while reinforced the Depot can be scooped into cargo by its owner, allowing an active Depot owner to protect and move their Depot when it comes under attack. Scooping a Depot that contains items will cause those items to be first ejected in to a nearby can (this action is available regardless of the reinforcement state).
WHAAAAAAAAT? So it is to be cheap, skilless, and basically invulnerable to attack despite being able to be scanned down. No one, Fozzie, but no one is going to ever bother attacking one of these things for a 2-day timer. Especially one that can be renewed almost immediately [UPDATE: CCP Lebowski just posted that the shield will take 3.5h to get back to invulnerable (it was originally 10 minutes!). This helps, but doesn’t go nearly far enough.] and then plucked from the attacker’s grasp any time the defender wants. Why did you even bother making it attackable? There is no looting value here for that timer. It’s not like anyone’s going to store deadspace mods and capital BPOs in it. This will be used for two things: 1) An anchored can with extra defense via the reinforce timer, effectively eliminating jetcans and jetcan looters, and 2) a mobile refitter for the big PVPers to enforce Malcanis’ Law. I can tell you that that’s what I’ll be using it for – the Goons’ idea of Blopsing in a cloaky T3 and refitting for max damage. It will be a mobile refitting machine, not a “home”. Oh, and I will never, ever scan for or shoot at one unless someone plants it in the wormhole where I live. Not worth the ammo, since I won’t be back for it two days later.
In the interest of being somewhat constructive in my disappointment, here are a couple of approaches I would find more reasonable.
- Option 1: Make the timer more reasonable. Say, an hour. That way PVEers can get their job done, but it’s actually worth hunting one down and doing the equivalent of a “stront test”.
- Option 2: If that’s not defensive enough, then just make it invulnerable for 48 hours from the moment it is anchored. At 48:01 it becomes a paper-thin loot pinata with no timer. It must be re-anchored to regain its timer.
- Option 3: Make versions that are specialized. The ore and PI versions can be set up like the ones you’re planning to help noobs and industrialists. The one that holds “whatever” should look like one of my options.
- Option 4: If this thing has this reinforcement timer because your intent in the long term is to make it the core of the “future POS”, then I actually get it. Please say so, and then get rid of the timer until such time as it has dependent modules.
Enough on the Depot. Maybe I should be thankful it’s not dockable and not a mobile SMA.
Deployable: Mobile Cynosural Inhibitor
What’s almost worse is the Mobile Cynosural Inhibitor. It’s worse because I was so excited to get it, but the way Fozzie & co. have chosen to implement it renders it entirely worthless to me. I said in “Things I’m Excited For”:
Grid Cyno Jammer. This will be phenomenal, especially for Lowsec fleets. One of the most aggravating things about Lowsec is that most people are flying around in subcap fleets looking for the proverbial “good fights”. But there’s always got to be that one group of putzes who think it’s more entertaining to drop a supercap fleet on a lone Tengu (looking at you here, PL). I think that this item alone will drive more, and better, fights in Lowsec. I think limiting it to the grid also makes it well-balanced, especially since Black Ops fleets are immune.
Finally, a counter to PL drops on roaming gangs in Lowsec! Yes! Over to you, Fozzie:
The value of a disposable Mobile Cynosural Inhibitor will be immediately obvious to many pilots living in low security space. When deployed, this structure prevents all normal cynosural fields (but not covert cynosural fields) from activating within 100km. This allows groups of players to shield themselves from hotdrops, control how their opponents can deploy capital ships, and generally influence the low and nullsec battlefield in ways that have never been possible before.
The Mobile Cyno Inhibitor takes two minutes to activate … The Cynosural Inhibitor has been tuned to be most useful to small and medium gangs.
WHAAAAAAAAT? Fozzie, you know how this works, right? Let me lay it out for you. These are directly from my actual combat logs, and killboard. Let’s check the timestamps.
[ 2013.11.05 05:15:32 ] (None) Jumping from Murethand to Melmaniel
[ 2013.11.05 05:18:44 ] (notify) Rhavas: You have foolishly engaged in criminal activity within sight of sentry guns and must suffer the consequences.
[ 2013.11.05 05:18:44 ] (combat) Warp scramble attempt from you to (Harbinger)Tyhpoid ‘Harbinger’
[ 2013.11.05 05:19:45 ] (notify) External factors are preventing your warp drive from responding to this command.
[ 2013.11.05 05:20:05 ] (combat) Dism0[SLTK](Redeemer) – Dual Heavy Pulse Laser II – Grazes
[ 2013.11.05 05:20:14 ] (notify) You cannot do that while warping.
Let’s translate the timestamps so we can see what a reasonable timer would be for setting up a useful blocker.
- At 5:15:32 I jump into a 0.3 Lowsec system.
- 3 minutes 12 seconds later, I open fire on a Harbinger.
- 1 minute 1 second later, I try to bail out. This is because suddenly seven battleships and an Archon.
- 29 seconds later my ship explodes and I warp my pod out.
Soooo, I could drop right away – that would have prevented the hotdrop in Melmaniel. In this case, since the cyno jammer is a 1-use item, the Harby jumps through the gate, and we waste the jammer. At 25 million a pop, that would be kind of stupid and wasteful, so we wouldn’t do that. So maybe we have to bring two? OK, so that’s good for one target. Do we have to bring 40 of these for a 20 jump roam?
Next potential choice, we could drop it as we open fire. 1 minute 30 seconds later, the cyno blocker still hasn’t anchored, and the BitterBlob has still exploded my ship.
Fozzie, if you want this to be viable for roaming – for small gangs as you say – it needs a 30-second deploy timer at max. Instant would be better.
Instead, this becomes another Malcanis’ Law handout. It will be used in nullsec prior to structure shoots, where 2 minutes is no big deal. In Lowsec you know who will use it? Standing gatecamps. Congratulations, you just gave The United another tool to ensure they can keep popping noobs in Rancer without interruption.
[UPDATE 1] Fozzie was kind enough to respond on Twitter.
[UPDATE 2] I don’t know how I missed this in the original text of this post, but the Cyno Inhibitor can only be placed 75Km or further from a gate! The entire world of the basic Lowsec roam is within 15Km of a gate. Even if it was insta-deploy, this would render it worthless for roamers.
OK, so I get the design now. This isn’t a design problem, it’s a marketing problem. In short, what this does is that it provides a tool for nullsec armadas and large-scale (NOT small scale) groups in Lowsec to control the flow of escalating capital battles. This explains both the timer and the really high pricetag. It gives The Barbarians (who counterdrop) a chance against The BitterBlob (click here for definitions). In short, I, and other actual small gang groups who don’t have cynos and capitals at the ready in Lowsec, am not the target user of the thing. Let me rewrite a bit of Fozzie’s blog:
The Cynosural Inhibitor has been tuned to be most useful to
small and mediumlarge gangs, counterdroppers, structure shoot participants and gatecampers. However, we are balancing this by having the vast majority of its 160,000 effective hitpoints come from structure rather than shield or armor. This ensures that large fleets of logistics or capital ships cannot keep the structure alive under large scale fire.
There. Now the marketing matches the reality.
In short, this update simply cements my disappointment. A tool to prevent the initial drop is sorely needed. I’ll be posting a “Temporary Hotdrop Blocker” idea in Fozzie’s suggestion thread that is designed to address a typical 5-minute gate fight, not the drop/counterdrop escalation or structure shoots or gatecamps.
OK, I’m done ranting now. Let’s talk about the other two structures.
Deployable: Mobile Siphon Unit & Mobile Tractor Unit
I think Fozzie got these two spot on. He says of the Tractor:
The Mobile Tractor Unit is a simple device that nonetheless will have very significant implications for many EVE players. When deployed it automatically uses a built in tractor beam to retrieve wrecks and cargo containers within 125km and collect their contents into its gigantic 27,000m3 cargo hold. The Tractor Unit only takes 10 seconds to deploy, and takes up 100m3 of space when stored in cargo.
OK, that’s awesome. And suggests that a mobile salvager is a great next thing to build (since Fozzie has also asked for suggestions).
The Tractor Unit has 50,000 hitpoints, and does drop loot when destroyed so vigilance is advised while using it.
All of them should be this way!!!
The speed of tractoring has been tuned to ensure that a friend in a Noctis or Orca is still both more effective than the structure, in addition to providing more stimulating conversation.
…and well balanced to boot. Very nice.
The Siphon is similarly nicely setup. It goes up fast, can be stolen from, and is nicely balanced relative to volume and staying power.
A Final Note of Gratitude
So Fozzie, after that bit of ranting it might surprise you that I want to thank you.
Thanks for being a great, regular communicator with really thick skin.
Thanks for writing two devblogs with useful detail and explanation.
Thanks for supporting the CSM.
Thanks for fixing SMAs and T3 reconfig.
Thanks for the Tractor and the Siphon.
Now please, please fix the Depot and the Cyno Inhibitor. There’s still time.