Flotsam and Jetsam on the Rubicon

Rubicon Storyhead

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).

(Emphasis mine)

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.

(Emphasis mine)

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.

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.

Sigh.

[UPDATE 1] Fozzie was kind enough to respond on Twitter.

Fozzie on Cynos

[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 medium large 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.

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13 Responses to Flotsam and Jetsam on the Rubicon

  1. Eciu says:

    Flotsam is a city in Witcher 2 game ;P

    • Rhavas says:

      Flotsam is: “floating wreckage of a ship or its cargo; broadly : floating debris” – Miriam Webster Dictionary. Or in this case, all the nigh invulnerable Depots that will be everywhere after Rubicon drops.

      • eciu says:

        There may be a lot of red marks in the system showing MD in RF mode.

        As to the point: to be honest i cannot find any other way of MD being a little bit safe and on the same moment being easy to remove than give this 48h RF timer and tiny tiny shield.

  2. sister_uta says:

    Once other scenario for the inhibitor. A small to medium sized corp with a small number of capital pilots can now safely deploy their caps for things like a structure rep/bash whereas previously the danger of getting them dropped was too high.

    So you drop a warp inhibitor, and at 1 minute 55 seconds light a cyno, and drop your pos bash dreads or carrier reps. It’s been said that the inhibitor will not disrupt cynos that are already up. Now an enemy has to drop off grid and warp their caps to you, which is plenty of time to react.

  3. Araziah says:

    Ah, good ‘ol Soul Takers. Pretty much any lone battlecruiser playing dumb around that area is bait for them. They’ve got so many random alts. The cyno inhibitor *would* actually have stopped that drop (if it were active at the time). They were black ops battleships, but they were jumping to a regular cyno. Harbingers can’t light covert cynos.

    The cyno inhibitor is kind of starting to look like the target spectrum breaker. It seems like it could be really cool, but there are hardly any practical uses for it. They cyno mechanic itself could use a bit of tweaking instead. Say instead of instantly being able to jump once the cyno’s lit, you’ve got a calibration time. So it take 5 seconds after being lit to be able to jump to a cyno, but the incoming ship might land anywhere within 100km. The range decreases to where at 20 or 30 seconds, you’ll land where you currently do right next to the cyno. Another idea could be to put a delay into the actual jump, depending on distance in light years. So longer jumps would have a longer window in which the cyno ship could be killed, causing the jumping ship to be dropped violently somewhere else in the system (which currently happens – but only during a very small window).

    I agree that mobile depots shouldn’t be as invulnerable as they are in their current form. Disruption is at the heart of what creates Eve’s identity. At the same time they’re trying to introduce disruption to a mechanic that has long been without it in a meaningful or easily accessible manner (moon goo and siphons), they’re creating a new mechanic that’s terribly difficult to disrupt. I like your proposed solution where it’s only invulnerable for the first 48 hours it’s deployed. Another solution would be to take the mechanic for POCO reinforcement, where the owner chooses a time slot, and it can’t be scooped until it’s out of reinforced and repped above 25% shield. This forces conflict, which is kind of the whole idea of reinforcement timers in the first place – allowing both the defender and attacker timer to muster forces at a common time and place. But instead of this, we get a reinforcement timer that simply prevents conflict by giving the defender everything and the attacker nothing. At the very least, they should be cargo scannable so attackers can know if it’s even worth their time. And the cargo should be locked inside until reinforcement is up. If the depot is scooped while in reinforced, its contents should be destroyed.

    • Rhavas says:

      Thanks for the comment Mike. Good point on the drop – I’ll have to edit that – it did have to be a regular cyno not only for that but because Archons can’t use coverts. I agree completely on the usage of the cyno, and I love your idea for either limiting it by time or range. I’m not sure I like the “dropped violently somewhere else” idea – that seems a bit too tilted in favor of the defender. But it’s gotten to stupid levels in Lowsec. The idea I’m going to list in Fozzie’s idea thread will be around a blocker that is much cheaper, can be scooped, but has far less HP and only lasts about 5-10 minutes per activation, only one of which can be active in a system at any time (that’s my starting idea anyhow, I’m sure there are other permutations). This would fend off the ORIGINAL drop, not subsequent ones.
      Regarding the Depot, you sum up my thoughts exactly: “But instead of this, we get a reinforcement timer that simply prevents conflict by giving the defender everything and the attacker nothing.” I really like the scannable idea too.
      Maybe what concerns me most is that, since you’re on the CSM, I assume you voiced these thoughts already, they didn’t break through, and change looks unlikely. 😦

      • Araziah says:

        I’m not Mike. Similar names is all (r and z are swapped). The whole “dropped violently somewhere else” idea is actually a current mechanic in the game. It’s just doesn’t happen that often since people generally jump to stable cynos.

        There’s a big hole with the 1 per system method. If you’re planning on dropping a cyno, you just drop your own cyno inhibitor somewhere else in system first.

        As far as seeing a change with the Rubicon release in 3 days, I don’t think it’ll happen. The patch notes are out which indicates that the build’s features are frozen and they’re just using the extra few days to test stability and bugs. Depending on how the structures are used, I’m pretty sure we’ll be seeing some changes in a month or two.

        • Rhavas says:

          Whoops, teach me to read more closely. And I agree, I don’t think anything will change. In another blow to my ideal cyno blocker it finally registered with me that these things need to be 75Km+ from a gate. So … useless to any Lowsec roamer. I wonder if we’ll see anyone other than (long-term) gatecampers and structure bashers/defenders use the things.

  4. Xmas says:

    The cyno disruptor will be good for low sec FW. It is hard enough to bash the system ihubs with enemy faction militia on the prowl. But when you get more than cruisers in your fleet, some dick fleet of pirate caps drops on you within minutes.

  5. Anonymous says:

    well, there are also the parts your forgetting about level 5 missions in low sec, or traps you can setup with this mobile inhibitor unit using all kinds of nice neat dumb stuff which i just wont share, but please, CCP does not want to just GIVE AWAY the secrets to how some of these things can and will be used, especially for an ex null sec pilot gone the ways of high sec due to blob fleets, but still have a few friends with me to do something stupid like enter low sec from time to time, or do incursions in systems we shouldn’t, or gas mine in systems we shouldn’t so yes, that mobile cyno inhibitor has many more applications than just the couple you put there. just saying man. but points / props for heading up a review on all of this.

    • Rhavas says:

      Thanks – you are right that certainly I haven’t thought of every edge use case. For pilots brave enough to run missions and incursions in hostile space they could definitely be useful since you have the necessary time to plan. My point was more about what they are not: A tool for roamers.

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