Saturday, 3 September 2016

Alpha Clone thinky-thoughts

The new Alpha Clone free to play which is coming in November is, in my not too humble opinion, going to be good for the game overall.

I think, however, there's a few wrinkles to sort out.

Suicide Ganking
There's a LOT of people making the point about suicide ganking alts. If there's no limit to the number of instances of EVE you can start up (apart from, say, hardware and internet infrastructure) and its totally free to train up, and you have infinite skill queues to 5M SP (or whatever limit exists) then of course this is basically free gank alts.

This is being half brushed off by CCP. I think they have a half of a point - it's probably a risk, but it's not as severe as the panty-shredding and bodice-ripping hisec carebears are making out. I mean, yes, you could train a half dozen gank catalyst alts and people will, bbut the vast majority of people will only do it for a lark and get bored after a month, and EVE will settle back to a slightly more gank steady state equilibrium between lulsy freighter ganks and total boredom.

However, there's always going to be some neckbearded autist (probably from Hard Knocks farming community, tbh) whose life will magically transform into a factory for churning out free to play alts which he will trash and biomass when their security status drops.

Plus, there's economic disparity here as well. To date, you can be assured that you are losing your freighter by and large to people who are paying for the privilege of ganking you and are dedicated to the game as much as you are. Sure, they might be spooging into your eye and wiping their cock off on your cheeks, but they're in the same boat.

After could be losing your freighter to the same dedicated uber nerd but he's putting literally zero on the line. You're paying $15 a month to fly a giant space brick about hauling Fortizars for your alliance, and some cunt just sets up 10 accounts for free, sets them training for 3 months to get gank thoraxes or something, and then comes and fucks you over. Fair? You decide.

I am undecided as to whether locking an Alpha Clone to one particular race of skill progression is the best way forward. Part of EVE's appeal is the overabundance of ship options. Another consequence of locking an Alpha to one race is that all the pirate faction frigates and cruisers will be locked out.

Another thing is that the skill list which appears available to Alphas might have a few quirks that eed ironing out. For instance, cloaking is impossible, but anchoring isn't. You need anchoring to use basic equipment like the mobile tractor and the depot, but by the same token you also get to anchor POSs, citadels and warp disruption bubbles, d-scan inhibitors, MJD beacons, etc. This makes almost no sense, and needs sorting out.

Not being able to cloak will restrict wormhole usage of Alphas. However, it's not all bad, really. You can still sit your Alpha in a citadel and keep it there to monitor the situation, even if you can't leave it cloaked on a connection. Plus, even T1 frigates and cruisers are plenty capable of doing wormhole site up to C6'swith W-R's, or at least C3 W-R's and Cats with RR and some minimum modcum of piloting skill.

Cloaking also cuts Alphas out of bombers, BLOPs, etc. But it doesn't stop you from using a mob of Alphas in a Titan bridge hotdrop. See suicide ganking, above, for why this could be a problem.

Other than that, most tier one, tier two skills in EWAR are open to Alphas, so there's plenty of progression available for Alpha clone pilots to get into PVP. However, a 5M SP limit on training will restrict you to meta equipment.

This Alpha clone stuff is basically free hisec neutral logi for everyone. I mean, why not? You lose absolutely nothing and it doesn't cost you a PLEX or $15 a month to be a risk averse coward hiding behind a dozen RR alts on Dodi undock.

This will no doubt cause a bunch of gayness in hisec wardecs. More than at the moment, I mean. Like...the pros will basically have to morph into bot herders with a cloud of Scythe or Oneiros alts and remote SeBo griffins hugging gates with Phoboses and Broadswords. Fighting them will be pointless malarkey unless you bring a cloud of DPS catalysts yourself.

PVE Mecca
For PVE, it's entirely possible you can run an successful mining alt cloud, gassing operation, or solo low/null/wh hacking toon as an Alpha clone. In fact, without any limit on Alpha subs, you could easily make billions of ISK with a cloud of totes not botted up IS-Boxer retty alts in nullsec or a wormhole or wherever.

The current yield rate in ISK/hr vs subscription cost or PLEX cost will cease to apply. This means that even if your Alpha accounts make 250M a month mining in nullsec nett of being ganked a dozen times (like, who fucking cares?) six of them in six months can afford half a super.

With ratting, being restricted to cruiser hulls and, essentially, T1 weapons and tank, will make higher-end PVE (aside from Wolf Rayets) pretty difficult for solo layers. Missions up to level 3 are doable, just, but the content is fairly low shelf life and gets stale. Nullsec ratting in anomalies might be OK, if you stick to the Dens and Hubs. Enough to PLEX every month? Not sure.

I guess one change will be that with API's your recruiters won't be able, neccessarily, to weed out 'trial accounts' from other accounts. This is good and bad, of course; good for free-to-play Alpha players, bad for recruiters in corps that like to maintain 'active' members.

I think the best consequence of Free To play will, aside from the actual hypothetical boost in numbers, be the freeing of subscription from a recurrent fee. I'm happy to keep paying to play with the big toys, but certainly it will be good for people to be able to play with cheap ships for no money.

This suits, for instance, free public roams and Faction Warfare as much as it does nullsec alliance warfare or suicide ganking clubs of dick-grabbing reprobates. This is a cultural change more than anything; EVE needs to become less elitist, less exclusionary, to take advantage of FTP Alpha clones. That's well overdue IMO.

The problems and fixes
Realistically, EVE is a game that requires dual boxing. Going free-to-play is fine, and I welcome it, but the problems outlined above are all down to the current lack of a limit on the number of instances that can be opened by each IP address or real world human.

The larger problems of the past couple of years have also been related to this. Input multiplexing via IS Boxer or others, macro usage, etcetera, are all abused mostly by people who run up to 40 instances of the client.

Fixing this problem might require CCP to set an arbitrary cap. This might cause a few people grief who currently run, say, eight dread alts or something like that. Ten, twenty, fifty mackinaws, all subbed. They might spit the dummy that they can't faceroll 40 macks in a Collossal ore Cluster anymore, but the reality is there is a real risk that EVE won't grow actual player and payers, just that existing payers will exploit free DPS, RR and resource harvesting and destroy the game.

The fix to ganking might be as simple as Alpha clones can't set their safety red in highsec, full stop. This would block the use of Alphas for suicide gank mobbing.

Fixing the RR issue might be a bit different, but it could be as easy as Alpha clones not being able to train remote assistance skills, including RR drones. Harsh, but fair.

After all, if you are a genuine player trying out EVE now the pay wall has come down, you might see people doing all the hilarious and broken, frustrating gay shit...but unless you stump up a PLEX or $15, you don't get to use broken gay tactics. Simple.

1 comment:

  1. wasn't there a policy against recycling alts with a negative status?


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