Deployables Part 1: Failure to Anchor

A little while ago, CCP Fozzie put up a post asking for ideas on the next generation of personal deployables. I wish I could tell you all the posts in the thread are awesome, and the usual terrible, terrible drivel about wormhole stabilizers and decloakers is not there.

I sadly am unable to do that. The thread is loaded with repetition, much of it the same horrible ideas by multiple posters. But there are some real gems among the crap as well, and those are worth calling out.

I read 46 pages of EVE-O forum thread, 910 posts, so you wouldn’t have to (If you want a more blow-by-blow breakdown, CSM member Mike Azariah does a yeoman’s job of it: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4).

I had to break this into three parts myself. The one you’re reading now, which is the bad stuff. The next one, which is the good stuff. And the third one, which has my own contributions to the thread.

Fair warning, strong opinions follow. I’ll start with the misguided, the not so good, and the frankly horrible – good stuff in the next post. Here’s what I found.

What I’m Skipping

I don’t fly supercaps. Several commenters mentioned that they would like a supercap anchor. I don’t know if that’s good or bad, so I’ll leave that to others.

I am not in Faction War. So I can’t comment on Dust link items. I also can’t comment much on FW ideas except for this – nothing should make a FW PLEX safer. They’re already too overrun with stabbed frigates.

What CCP Just Needs to Fix

There are a handful of ideas that have their heart in the right place, but the ideas really are cobbled workarounds for problems with the existing game, not good fits for deployables. These are things like:

  • Warp Core Destabilizer.  I agree this is broken, but I don’t think an anchorable is a good solution to the problem. I think CCP needs to somehow “stacking penalize” WCS – my initial thought would be to impose a max of two per ship (we do single maxes with numerous items including DCUs).
  • Dead POS Remover/Hacker. Again, this is just broken. If it’s unfueled, no shield, no stront, it should be unanchorable by anyone with Anchoring V. That simple. Please just do this CCP and let the cleaners make the profit.
  • Agent Remote Completion Device. I don’t run a lot of missions. One of the reasons is the need to run back several jumps to station for combat missions. IIRC, hauler missions don’t require this. This again is not a great deployable, it’s just a fix that should be made.
  • Docking Blocker. I hate docking games. A lot. It’s one of the reasons I moved to w-space. But a lot of players love this. So be it – again this is a poor choice for an anchorable, it’s a mechanic that needs to either be blessed and ignored or fixed/rebalanced. I’m in the rebalance camp personally. But I don’t think it’s an anchorable.

A couple weeks ago I wrote a post about the existing anchorables. I think the Tractor is great, and I’ve been convinced by CCP Fozzie that the Cyno Blocker was never intended for the likes of me (more on that next post). As for the other two…

  • Depot. I would like to see CCP either officially declare “This is the future POS tower” or get rid of the majority of the reinforcement timer. Maybe an hour. Three at max. These should be temporary since they are cheap and recoverable. Drop, do your thing, pick up, log off.
  • Siphon. I like this as is with one exception – they need to be bookmarkable. Fozzie has stated this was an intentional design choice but stealing from it is a great spark for content (three way – POS owner, siphon owner, thief) and so I submit that it should be reconsidered.

Terrible Ideas

There’s really no way to sugar coat some of these. The good news is that they generally fall into a few broad categories that I can simply list. If you’ve played EVE for a year or more, these things should be common sense. They either horribly unbalance combat or the economy.

Malcanis’ Law Says: Death By Goon Squad. If you’re not familiar with CSM member Malcanis’ eponymous law, it states that anything made with younger or weaker players in mind will eventually end up helping only older, more organized PVP players, especially those in large groups.

The best reminders in the thread are by Goonswarm’s Gallows Callibrator who says things like: “Anything that engages in direct combat, ever, is probably going to be a bad idea. (Because someone (read: us) are going to abuse this to its fullest and turn entire grids into deathspheres).” (S)he is absolutely dead on right.

So let’s start by eliminating these. You will note that the chief danger of many of these are that they are not tied to a specific geography (i.e. moon, station or gate). This very mobility drives their threat impact.

  • Anything that automatically shoots (other than a POS). Your carebear brain says “Defensive armament!” Sov null says, “Auto-attacking 1000 mass AFK artillery!”
  • Anything that automatically heals (outside a POS/station). You think “Heal me up after missions!” They think “Slowcats? How about PERMADREADS?”
  • Anything that automatically EWARs (web, neut, ECM, etc.) (other than a POS). You think “Safety! Efficiency!” They think “Efficiency!” New threadnaught: “Because of Falcon Towers”.
  • Any automatic AOE shield (they have these on a POS)
  • Any automatic AOE (group) cloak. If it wasn’t OP and grief-magnet enough of an idea, it effectively eliminates the need for most of the cloaky ships, and the effort, tactics and gameplay that go with them.
  • Interdiction Nullifier De-Nullifier. Does anyone really think any other bubbles would ever get used again? It’s a valid mechanic, and you have to make a lot of suboptimal choices if you decide to nullify.
  • Gate jammer. I really wish I could like this idea. As a roaming PVP type, I can think of all kinds of great situations I would have loved to have such a thing. But when you scale it up to Goon (or even to Faction War) it’s just too OP.
  • Changes to CONCORD response. There are requests to both make CONCORD not respond and to make them respond faster. Both are bad ideas. Imagine Jita with a pile of CONCORD non-responders. OMG.
  • Rat/pirate beacon. I actually liked this idea at first blush. I thought of it like I do us catching someone running a wormhole escalation. You drop in and team up with the rats to kill your prey. What if we could call rats to help us finish. And then I thought, what if 1000 Goons called 10,000 rats. And then it ended up here on the Terrible list.
  • Cyno trap. This redirects incoming cynos to a system to the trap rather than the cyno. As with the Gate Jammer and Pirate Beacon, I first went “Oooh!” and then went “Ugh”. Even if this was somehow magically, perfectly balanced, what it would do is kill use of cynos in a lot of places, reducing interaction and reducing fun. And the odds it would be perfectly balanced rather than a game-wide Pandemic Legion cyno suckhole? Not good.
  • “Orbital terraformer”. Yes, someone actually suggested a planet-blasting gun. That destroyed the planet for any PI purposes. So much for that part of the game. Sorry, kids, no more PI or anything built from it. Oops.

Making Terrible Mechanics Worse. There are some things that are already broken. Unbelievably, there are a number of posts that actually propose doubling down on these bad mechanics. Things like:

  • Ship-free boosting. As if off-grid ship boosting isn’t bad enough.
  • Grid-based “wormhole effects”. This is roughly the same as boosting, just flavored. It’s “bring your own mechanic” and is totally unbalancing, potentially even worse than ship boosting as it currently stands.
  • Deployables that either extend jump bridges or free them from a Titan. Excessive force projection is bad enough already. Making it worse and effectively consequence- and skill-free is worse for the game and effectively a declaration that Titans are dead and their pilots have wasted their time.

Things That Promote Spam And Make Other Things Useless. Some in Jita would argue that this has already happened with the Depot.

  • Local broadcaster. Some people suggested autospamming Local from a deployable. Seriously. Just stop.
  • Deployable monuments. This won’t end well. I suspect if implemented it would be removed when TEST “erects” a penis statue in Jita. Or 50.
  • Fake or Decoy Items. The thread has a lot of these ideas and at first blush they sound good. Fake ships, anoms etc. on dscan, the ultimate bait. Until half the ships in Local are fake and suddenly Dscan becomes utterly useless.

Making Easy Work Into AFK Work.

  • Autominers. Drop deployable, take a shower, haul to station. Return, have breakfast, haul to station. Shall we make people into bots and bots into uberbots? No.
  • Anything that makes Odyssey “easy mode” scanning even easier. There are several calls for a module you can drop, come back a while later, and have everything probed for you. This also includes ideas to “turn things from one type to another”. Scanning used to be one of the skills that took some actual human capability beyond the game mechanics. Odyssey dumbed it way down. If you’re going to dumb it even more, why not dispose with scannable sites all together and just put everything on the overview right out of the gate?

Reducing Chances of Interaction. EVE already has enough ways to hide. One of the problems I have with deployables is their potential to be a disincentive to play. The reinforcement timer on the Depot is a great example of this – it makes it almost impossible to kill so there’s really no point of anyone but the owner ever interacting with or around it.

  • Anything dockable. Docking takes you out of interaction. To me the best deployables will replace what stations do. Then the only reason to dock up would be if CCP ever decided to revive WiS. Which doesn’t look to be on the near-term horizon at all. Find ways to make it safe without making it easy to hide.
  • Deadspace creation. The thread is littered with requests to be able to find a personal hiding space. The really bad ones have not only that, but that they want to build an acceleration gate “front door” to make sure you can’t warp directly to them. If they need this much protection, stay in highsec and use stations. They can be your personal safe spot.

Wormhole Things for People Who Don’t Get Wormholes. A lot of people think they understand what would make wormholes great. Often they’re experts because they live in nullsec and SUPER FIGHTS IN WORMHOLES WOULD BE AWESOME. Or they are industrialists and RATTING CARRIERS IN A CLASS 1 WOULD BE AWESOME. These people are deeply ignorant. Most wormholers either left nullsec, or never went there, in some part to avoid constant supers, cynos, CTAs and the “Press F1” mentality. No one who lives in a wormhole wants these things.

I’m going to clarify a couple of terms, for the sake of discussion and making sure everyone who comments or reads is thinking the same thing when I say certain things. There are four terms that are similar, but very different in gameplay and effect.

  1. Wormhole Stabilizer. This is the mother of all stupid wormhole ideas. It is distinguished from the others in that it alters the mass-limiting mechanics of wormholes, either by eliminating it all together (we would call that a “gate”) or by extending or expanding the mass, either total (all ships through) or per-ship. “This sounds amazing!” said no wormhole dweller ever. No, no, a thousand times no.
  2. Wormhole Crasher. Whether through speeding time to end of life or mass-smashing it closed, both have been proposed. While it’s romantic to think that this will be used mostly to crash invaders in and pick them off, it’s far more likely that this will be used as a zero-risk way to crash unwanted visitors out. That puts it squarely in the “reduced interactions” camp. W-space is not safe and should not be. If you want to mass-crash your hole, do it yourself. With ships.

The other two we’ll talk about in various forms in the next post, but here they are for the sake of completeness.

  1. Wormhole Extender. This extends the time-based collapse of a wormhole, but does not mess with the mass limits.
  2. Wormhole Generator. This creates a new wormhole where there was not one previously.

…And A Few Miscellaneous Bad Ideas. There are a few that don’t fit into the tidy categories above.

  • Decloakers. This is probably the #1 request. It also may be the stupidest one. There are a lot of variations on the theme, but the bottom line is this: there is only one reason to fear that AFK Cloaker, and that is a Covert Cyno. Cloaky ships are cloaky. Deal with it. They have a ton of other tradeoffs to give them this advantage, including terrible targeting, bad tanks, and bad DPS. I wrote a very large post on this subject a year or so ago that I will touch on again next post when we talk about Local. Go read it and check out the “black ops pulse” item in the Cynosural System Jammer section specifically. And quit whining about the rest.
  • Things that fake standings changes. The standings system is clunky enough as it is, let’s not add to it, m’kay?
  • Gates to other systems. Let’s wait for this until CCP’s “new space”, whatever it is. Right now the paths are balanced to give routes that drive conflict. I might make some tweaks here or there but a free for all of new gates is madness. It will make hunting impossible and render critical tools like Dotlan basically useless.

So there you go, the bad stuff.

The good news, if you’ve read this far, is that there is some good stuff too, and I in the spirit of contributing rather than just facepalming I’ll have a few ideas of my own – in the next two posts in the series.

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23 Responses to Deployables Part 1: Failure to Anchor

  1. Foo says:

    WCS are all or nothing. What happens when a 4 WCS ship meets a 5 points ship? 4 WCS ship dies.

    If you want to catch a WCS ship; fit sufficient points and win; and accept you will lose to a PVP fit ship.

    What you want is that a PVP fit ship should not have to sacrifice to catch a ship that simply wants to escape.

    Read (again)

    There are counters. You are choosing not to use them.

    • Rhavas says:

      I would also support limiting scram/point modules to two per ship.

      I do PI as my main source of non-corp income (as a sidebar, I did PI in PF-346, the most notorious camped system in Syndicate, in a Prowler for almost a year, with no WCS on the ship, and flying direct from POCO to POCO. That Prowler finally died to a nullsec gatecamp after 3 years of life just a week or so ago).

      Today in the hole, I fly Epithals on two characters. Both have only two WCS (and two nanos). I have two bait tackle ships. Both have only two point/scrams. This seems reasonable.

      Otherwise why not give me four Damage Controls? Why is that OP but 4 WCS is not?

      • Teg says:

        simple. 4x dc2 with concurrent stacking penalties within just that category would still be massively effective against any type of damage. 95%+ or better omni resists on your hull? and massive armor and shield resists, that take almost no cap to run? that counters everything. The problem people who want non consensual PVP have with the WCS is that they don’t consider it pvp. It is. PVP at the most basic is: Player x wants y, player b wants to keep x from y. Many times the y is to keep living 🙂 sometimes its blowing up ships. you want to blow up a ship, possibly a juicy industrial, the industrial wants to get away, and deny you that fun. the WCS is pvp. Want to win against teh stabbed industrial? bring a ship to dps/ alpha it down. there is your counter for the WCS, kill it before it escapes. Just think they might create a warp core stabilization deployable, +3 wcs to every ship in 1Au, with a 2 hour reinforce

        • Rhavas says:

          When it comes to real world play they are effectively equivalent. A warp core stab deployable is an even worse idea than a destabilizer deployable. I see numerous better approaches right here in these comments. Here’s another, since the bears love the “bring more ships” argument. Limit both stabs and points/scrams to 2 per ship and create a “remote core stabs” module ships could fit to stand by and free up your freighter or barge and take the hit instead.

  2. Koban Agalder says:

    Imho WH stabilizers in terms of LIFESPAN ONLY could be usefull, and wouldn’t break WH (anchor – WH gets some additional lifetime, so it can last max 48h and not 24h as today).

    • Rhavas says:

      I agree; that’ll be part of the next post. I also think generators would be good.

      • Makoto Priano says:

        I actually really like the idea of mass expanders, provided that: A) the deployable is one-use only and is destroyed when the hole detonates, B) mass expansion is capped per class (for instance, cruisers in C1s, BSs in 2s and 3s, a capital in a C4, etc), C) the anchorable is -friggin’- expensive, ideally using T3 materials to produce as it harnesses Sleeper wormhole tech. Something on the order of a 1b deployable would be so expensive it’d only see very specific use, and would be a high-value target.

        Also, I think CCP missed a beat with the meta mobile depots. My thought is that meta 0 MDs should anchor slowly to prevent combat useage (on the order of 2 or 3 minutes), with each stage of meta higher halving this. This prevents combat abuse of the basic module, and provides clear advantages for higher meta MDs that aren’t just that they’re harder to probe down– which is a non-issue to most capable probers, anyway.

        • Rhavas says:

          That is still a bad idea. Goons would just have to seed a scout, find the new route and drop another, jump the next cap. No mass changes.

          The depots definitely need another pass.

  3. Foo says:

    I see no problems with 4 damage controls 🙂

    Given there is a single module that provides 3 points; I see absolutely no need to limit ships to 2 points in either scram or WCS. Also WCS provide zero protection against bubbles and infinite points from whether from an interdictor; heavy interdictor, or even something that is launched.

    There are options.

    Now instead of calling the numbers 1,2,3,4 per ship; if you wanted to make both points and WCS subject to stacking penalties, so it was 1, 1.75; 2.25; 2.4 (with the current short range point being 1.75) I see no issues.

    And for your prowler flying poco to poco … well your gankers are just lazy 🙂

    • Rhavas says:

      I could get behind stacking penalties as well, it just feels weird since warp strength is an integer. Another way to do it would be to boost during requirements for WCS so that they are similar to those for points and scrams.

      • BlueFletch says:

        Because of the additive integer math, stacking penalties probably aren’t the best solution. If you want to impose limits, then WCS II should give +2 warp strength or something, as tackle already has an advantage with the ability to fit a scram, or even a dual scram as some anti-plexers do. The other option is to bring a friend who also has points. The defender doesn’t get that option. He has the warp core strength he has; no amount of friends can change that. The attackers can pile up more points for each attacker, and limiting the number of tackle modules wouldn’t stop that.

        I do find it interesting that fitting for bubble nullification is a good tactic, as it involves a gameplay decision, but fitting WCS is not. How does fitting a WCS not involve making a decision? Even for the specialized industrials. Who said it is the attacker’s right to be able to solo gank a Miasmos (for example) who sold out for warp core strength? Their EHP will still suck and their align time will suffer, at that point bump them off align and kill them.

        But none of this should be affected by deployables, so I’m with you there.

        • Rhavas says:

          I’m not arguing for elimination (as noted, I for two in my Epithals), but for balance. I consider stabs (and most modules without attacking penalties) to be OP when piled up.

          As for nullifiers, only two ship tips can be nullified (T3s and Interceptors). I would also be OK if CCP made it so 1-2 WCS could be fit on any ship but only one or two ships could break that limit as a feature.

          Also thanks for remembering this post is about deployables. 😉

        • BlueFletch says:

          Making the WCS an active module is an interesting idea. I kind of like it. It would theoretically make the fitting more difficult as well, with potential for increased powergrid and cap usage.

          To briefly continue the off topic: I understood what you were arguing, but I am arguing that it is already pretty balanced. As it stands, a defender needs to fit 2 low slots vs. 1 mid if the attacker is using a scram. If someone fills their lows with WCS to be able to run away from 1 attacker, he should be able to run away at least some of the time. The counter is that an attacker can fill their mids with scrams or bring a friend. Two dual-scram frigates can out-point full-load WCS ships of cruiser/industrial size and below, as iirc the highest number of lows in those categories is 7.

          Also, the interceptors get nullification. No decision there beyond choosing the interceptor itself.

        • Rhavas says:

          We’ll agree to disagree on this one. Thanks for commenting. 🙂

      • How about just making WCS an active module rather than a passive one? Want the defense from it? Activate the goddamn module.

        Oops, you forgot to turn it on when you decloaked and got tackled? Well shit bro, turn it on and maybe you’ll escape… if your utter failure didn’t allow other tacklers on grid to get more points on you.

  4. Marc Callan says:

    There is one other metagame-esque threat from AFK cloakies that will become even more prevalent with Twitch integration: intel cams. You park a cloakie off an enemy station, turn on Twitch, and leave it running, and you’ve got an unprobable, nigh-unkillable feed on what your enemy puts into space, and the only thing guaranteed to shut it down is downtime.

    I know, I know, the counter is to head out and try to decloak the thing, but unless you’ve got something like a hundred-ship blob, a natural decloak isn’t going to work, smartbombers don’t have the coverage to “plow the road”, and the last time I tried to zero in on a cam-cloakie, I got black-ops hot-dropped for my trouble.

    • Rhavas says:

      You raise a really good point, especially since I like a lot of the intel and camera ideas in the thread. This use is going to be very tricky. Maybe a Twitch scrambler (if it’s integrated, Eve should affect Twitch too! )?

      Sadly that is probably unrealistic though. Good food for thought as I write the next post. Thanks.

  5. pjharvey says:

    I think the Tractor is great

    Doesn’t the mobile tractor unit ‘Make Easy Work Into AFK Work’ somewhat? I used to enjoy salvaging in a destroyer, which needed some skill to be efficient. Then came the Noctis, which only needs some skill training to let it sit in the middle of the field and cycle its modules occasionally. Now the mobile tractor comes along and you can just dump it, have everything clump together, and come back to collect everything at once.

    And that also ‘Reduces Chances of Interaction’, as salvaging simplified even further. Granted, you can aim for the tractor unit, but shouldn’t we be promoting pilot-pilot interaction, and not pilot-structure?

    • Rhavas says:

      You definitely have a point. I honestly like that it is attackable and destructible. Maybe I’m just thrilled it doesn’t have a reinforcement timer.

      I do think that given a choice I would go back to the “old way” but it’s hard to put a genie back in the bottle.

      Since we also already have salvage drones and we have the tractor unit, might as well make it salvage too.

      I actually l love that they tractored their owner’s weeks too for a tidy pickup package. With these stationary targets one could argue that they will draw fights. Some of my corpies popped one of these fun little loot pinatas last week.

      • pjharvey says:

        I haven’t come across one yet, but I’m not sure I would like how the tractor unit loots everything, if it then cannot be looted by everyone.

        As Von Keigai found out, blowing up the salvager only to have to blow up the tractor unit, if you’re not close or quick enough to loot immediately, forces two rolls of the loot fairy dice. That seems like an unintended consequence to me.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Changing the WCS just makes it easier for people to not interact. I’m not talking about the about the farmers, I’m talking about the PVPers. It working as intended, but people are to focused on solo PvP … bring a friend and call it a day

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