Sunday, 16 August 2015

I feel meh in Citadel City

The latest two Citadel blogs are out. Oviously, if this post is in reference to them, you should read them.You should also read them anyway because you'll be interacting with them in some way in the future.

My opinion? Well, i guess I'd like to discuss how I see them influencing gameplay options and player behaviour, versus numbers and the like. I mean, there's precious few numbers, so we can't really begin arguing whether XL citadels have too much DPS.

Space Hobbits / Schadenfreunde
There's a fair amount of input and debate from the wormhole side of things about the item safety mechanics. This is predicated upon the whole "siege for phat loots" myth. But what it really is, given hardly anything ever drops or is looted from a POS that has been sieged, is "siege for teabag of enemies".

What I mean is, 90% of the time the defenders have way too many ships in the wormhole and end up self destructing them before your eyes, so you never get the phat loot. So, firstly, all the people carrying on about losing the phat loot are misguided; what they are losing is the schadenfreunde of watching a vanquished foe SD hundreds of ships before their eyes.

The proposed mechanic is terrible for sieging because what's at risk goes from "all your ships, all your items, all your mins, all your POS and POS guns, all your shit" down to "10% of your items, minerals and ships, plus 100% of whatever ship you are sitting in and maybe your pod, plus your Citadel".

The result of this may not in fact be a hearty defence of a Citadel by an outnumbered attacker. Let's say Sudden Buggery, due to the stellar pulchritude of its handsome and gregarious CEO who has called all of wormhole space a bunch of child-fondling mendicants, gets hardcore sieged in their Lowsec Citadel. Choice is to fight, bringing out ship after ship to die before the 120 T3's and 40 Guardians arrayed against the corp. Or you just sit in the Citadel, swap into a T1 frigate, and tell your attackers they should stop molesting babies, let it all get blown up around you, maybe get podded, wake up in hisec and 5 days later pay a small Space Hobbit Tax.

I mean, why would you even bother fighting? Also, this is way better way of moving out of an area. Lets say you have 100 members in an XL Citadel. Strip your ships of all modules, especially fancy pimp, load them into a blockade runner. Get your Citadel blown up, suddenly EVERYTHING you own is collated into one handy safe lowsec or hisec location in plastic wrap thanks to magic Space Hobbits. Far better than having to move 100 ships x 100 people X jumps, at 15-ish minutes per trip. That's 2,500 man-hours of boring ass logistics. If you game it right, 10% tax on 100 ships (average hull price 100M = 1B) can be recovered in no time at all at the incursion Rate Per Hour. For that corp, 2,500 man hours = 250 billion ISk in opportunity cost of ratting vs logistics.

The sensible option thanks to Space Hobbits is to actually let your Citadel get blown up. In almost all cases. Just plan ahead a bit, clean up the modules and pimp, empty the hangars a bit, job done. Hell, with no auto defences, just deploy troll ceptor alt and 6 days later you've cleaned up 250B ISK in ratting in your new space for the cost of, what, 15B ISK Citadel? Cheaps!

Trollceptors vs Alts
The lack of automatic defences is going to be a game changer. The vulnerability windows are actually small enough that you can, theoretically, game the system into protecting your Citadel most of the time by trollceptoring your own Citadel into RF Timer One. This then means that for a whole week, or so, you don't have to defend it. When the RF timer comes out, your corp all gets on, you undock two triage Archons and man all the guns, and take 10 minutes to turn your timer off. Easy peasy POS defeasy. Whatever, I'm bad at poetry.

The problem with this kind of defence really sheets home for small corps and single players. Krabbing operations in C5s are viable because you can use a small or medium tower with no hardeners, logging in your dreads once a week or whenever safe, scuttle out of POS to close yourself in and mainline a few sites then log off. People can attack your POS whenever they want but you get 40 hours advanced warning, it's cheap as fuck (seriously, 80M ISK plus fuel) and in essence utterly pointless to mess with.

Well, that's about to change. Krab operations will be subject to alts in trollceptors pushing timers, constantly. Miss a few and you lose your Citadel. Don't miss them, you still have to be around to Entosis your Citadel back, which exposes you to risks. The game has changed to "can your ship tank long enough for you to man te guns on your alt and shoot the attacker before he kills your defending link?". The answer for a solo player with one account only Small one or two member will be tetchy, to say the least. A semi-organised medium-sized attacker can field enough bombers to bomb your link ship to death easily, regardless of defences (which won't lock bombers fast enough).

So the upshot of Citadels with non-auto defences will be a purging of wormholes of their farmers, of all sizes. The Citadel mechanic really is penurious to the Krab or smallholding lifestyle which, really, is the backbone of wormhole ecology.

Nullsec wise, and lowsec, there's also a lot of moon goo operations which will be subject to constant trolling, regardless of the vulnerability window. Pull off one successful Entosis cycle on a moon goo Citadel (or whatever it is; could in fact be a different M or L sized mining array) and you cost the defender 1.5B a week on a Tc moon. So you need alts stationed in the Citadels mining the moon goo or running the supercap builds or, well, anywhere, able to dock up and run some guns to deter casual attacks.

Timezone Warfare Got Real
The worst factor in the proposed system is the vulnerability window. We have been moved away from a system where a little bit of smarts and a small amount of ISK deters casual attacks, a moderate amount of ISK deters reasonably serious attacks, and a large amount of ISk deters basically every attacker who doesn't really want you gone. Instead, now we have a system where people on the opposite side of the world can literally coexist in the same space indefinitely, because their assets are utterly invulnerable to one another's attacks due to timezone firewalls.

For example, it has taken us 2 weeks to flip all our POCOs because our previous residents, even though completely evicted, had their POCO timers set to come out at between 1 a.m. and four a.m. AU TZ. We had to lean on some US friends and US corpies and an insomniac to flip almost all of them on weekends at 3p.m. US timezone because we Aussies couldn't do it, at all. That's poor game design. The POS system has problems, but the 40 hour stront timer can be gamed. There is no gaming the vulnerability window, at all, ever.

By gaming I don't mean exploiting, hacking, or otherwise breaking or abusing anything. I mean, this is a game. it has rules. In chess you use the rules of the gae, with strategy, to maneuver your pieces into position to cause check mate. in EVE you take a simple 40 hour stront timer, maneuver your attack time (taking into account the work required to RF shit) and forward-calculate when the POS will exit reinforcement, and you arrange it to suit your attack. It may not suit the defender. That's the defender's problem.

The vulnerability window only suits the defender. In fact, it very mch suits the defender because it cannot be gamed. It can't be shifted. It can't be lengthened by defeating or degrading the Citadel in any way. it can't be circumvented, moved, left open and completed later so it then pops out in the attacker's timezone. Nada. Nothing. Nil.

It is BAD GAMEPLAY because it is not a game. It's just set and forget total protection from off timezone harassment, attacks, anything.

This is bad for Aussies vs Russians and vice versa. it's bad for Aussies vs Euros. Pick two timezones and assume people don't want alarm clock ops, and you could live in a wormhole alongside your foes for years, unable to evict or push or even reinforce one another's Citadels. Utterly daft.

Utter Hisec Safety
24 hour warning comes with a war declaration.
You go to your Citadel, fly everything to station, unanchor it, store it up, log off for a week.
War expires.

Attention Warfare
At its most basic, this attention mechanic / entosis gameplay is killing EVE and will really kill wormholes. We have discussed it, and we can easily do an M Citadel in our wormhole and probably will. Having to be around for 2 hours a night around downtime when we already play? No big deal. Entosis ships are welcome to come troll us, we don't care.

But what i do care about is a system in the game which is washing away the problems of DPS vs EHP gameplay and replacing it with laser-tag bullshit attention gameplay. People will not play a game that demands they put attention into it that they cannot give. If the kabs and smallholders leave wormholes there is no one left.

Let me tell you, it's getting very hard to find people in wormholes. It's fucking deserted in lowsec. Like, eerily deserted, in almost all of lowsec. There's highsec systems where there would always be 8-15 miners chugging away. Now empty.

people are voting with their credit cards, time, efforts and feet and they are thoroughly disliking the new game. perhaps the issue isn't that DPS vs EHP is good and Entosis is bad, or vice versa; the issue is that you get a thrill out of flying a gigantic space cock affirmation dildo around (dread, carrier, super) feeling like king shit. Now? You don't give a FUCK about flying a goddamn pissy little fucking cruiser with a flashlight, flipping systems in minutes or hours, with no risk. There's no feeling of doing violence to the enemy, at al, by just turning up on grid and sitting out a motherfucking goddamn flashlight timer.

I mean, realy. That's not engrossing gameplay. Neither is shining a light on someone's XL Citadel for 30 minutes and it magically blows up, pods them maybe, and forces all their shit to some magic fairy netherspace and/or back to highsec all safe and sound.

Seriously? We are meant to give a shit about this fucking game, when that is the peak violent act you can do? Is that a game, or is it some politically correct goddamn sop to whining fucking carebears who can't get over the fact the game is risky and want their cocks sucked by a pliant, desperate company seeing the writing on the wall and are assuming people want boring, meaningless pap to fill their nights with? Where's the adrenaline rush, where's the fucking incintive to fight like bearcats when all your crap magically gets teleported to safety and you can go run Incursions for 5 days instead?

Daft. Fucking goddamn daft.

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