Improving High Sec II

Plus one.

Couple of years ago, I got in in my head to do L4 missions with my corpmates to encourage some team building and esprit d’corps with the new students. But while running around with 8 guys in cruisers, battlecruisers and battleships in L4s can be fast and fun, it’s not very challenging.

I believe that when L4 missions were created, the developers honestly thought that people would do them in groups. I remember doing L4 missions with my buddy Khorum in battlecruisers. They were challenging for a pair of dudes with only a couple of months in Eve. They are not challenging in an overtanked battlecruiser or battle ship. See, years ago, CCP underestimated the players base. The proliferation of battleships for solo mission running killed team based PvE until the Incursion expansion.

For us, we started doing L4 missions in frigates to increase the difficulty. Doing L4s in frigates requires that you fly your ship. With the addition of logisitics frigates, it evolved into a tool for training healers as well as training shooters to work broadcast for reps in between piloting their ships.

So here we are, a handful of PvP pilots, going into a L4 mission and we catch a Burner: a tough little NPC frigate mission. We know that these burner NPCs are tough, but can take him in T1 frigates After all, it’s a 5v1. We’ll just bring 3 damage dealers and a couple of healers.

How’d that work out for you?

It was hard. Real hard. We fought the Cruor mission. It was like fighting a mini Curse. He neuted hard. He hit hard. I spent probably 5 minutes alternating between not doing enough damage to break his active armor tank, and not to any damage at all, because I was capped out and hoping that the logi could keep me up.

Finally, after a 10 minute fight, this mean little NPC broke my past the reps and put me down. Hard. I was in my pod telling everyone to bail out. He grabbed a second guy and finished him off, too. The logi and one other damage dealer escaped intact. Wow. We spent the next half hour theory crafting on how to beat him, added another pilot, upgraded to T2 ships, one tackler and the rest kiting. In the end, we put him down like the rabid wolf he was.

Probably the best PvE I’ve ever enjoyed in Eve Online, since doing L4s with Khorum as newbs in undertanked BCs. Not the second fight, because we never were in danger during the second fight, since the high resists of my Vengeance made it trivial for the logi to keep me repped, my nosferatu allowing me to keep my scram on him the entire fight, letting the kiting ships deal damage to him at range.

But that first fight, and the theory crafting we had to do to beat him the second time, made it exciting. And the only problem with the final outcome was the reward. 5 million ISK, to divide between 6 people for what ended up as an hours work.

After losing 2 T1 frigates in the process, you probably didn’t break even.

True, but PvE in Eve needs more challenges like this, small ship missions where several players are required in order to complete a mission. The content needs to be challenging enough that you need more than one brain to complete the mission; if it can be completed by one person playing multiple accounts, it’s not hard enough. And if you need to have several real people to complete the mission, then you need to make the reward large enough to compete with solo L4 missioning in an overtanked BC or BS.

So some ship restricted PvE, where multiple players with individual pilot skill and tactics are required to beat it. Where the reward for an hours worth of team work in frigates is worth more than soloing a L4 in a Navy Scorpion.

Burners are a good template to work from. They’re instanced, repeatable and challenging. They just need to be a degree more challenging so they can’t be multi-boxed by a solo player, and rewarding enough to encourage people to run them with friends.

Minus one.

Three More Wishes

Plus one.

Two and a half years ago, I wrote a column where I made 3 wishes for some changes to Eve Online. Just Three Wishes that would have made life in New Eden a little bit better.

I wished for clone bay arrays so that we could remotely set our clones in space that didn’t have cloning facilities. I wished for a shortened jump clone timer. I wished for a medium sized hauler in the 100k to 200k range.

In the end, CCP did away with the need to use cloning facilities and let me set my clone to any station I could dock in. Cool for me, not so cool for wormholers. They didn’t give me the 12 hour clone jump refresh I wanted, but I can work with 19 hours.

I was disappointed with the fleet hanger incorporation to the Transport Ship. I still think there is a need for a hauler, in between the Transport Ship and the Jump Freighter capacities, closer to 200k m3. However, I’ll admit, I own 2 transport ships now and I’ve used them both in the last few months.

You hate them.

They are of limited use to me, but I’ve used them more than my Orca and I haven’t driven a Freighter since the warp speed changes. The only reason why I even keep a Freighter is on the small chance that a wormhole opens from our high sec staging area in Derelik direct to our null sec base in Curse, I’ll move everything I own in high sec to null and never go back.

Right.

Don’t judge me.

Anyway, I started to think about little cool features I’d like to see that wouldn’t be too hard to make happen, another 3 wishes to put on the list.

First, I’d like to see a T1 bomber. I know it’s not realistic, but I can’t help but think it would be awesome. Four new T1 frigate hulls able to fit a bomb launcher, no guns, no cloak. Something that doesn’t take a lot time to train, but something brand new pilot can jump in and be part of a coordinated wave that blows battleships away. Unable to warp cloaked, but able to pack a punch if flown in a group.

I don’t know whether to cheer or be horrified.

Second, I’m a support pilot, specifically EWAR. If it has Tracking Disruption, Target Painters, Sensor Dampers or Electronics Counter-measures, I fly it. I’ve got no reason to fly capitals until the make one that uses ECM. But there’s only one Disruption ship larger than a cruiser class. I’d like to see more three more battleship class EWAR ships, and the Scorpion fixed so it doesn’t get made into vaporware if you show up in one to a fleet fight.

The Caldari did get kind of screwed out of a third combat Battleship.

Finally, along with Force Auxiliaries, we’re going to be getting T2 Logistics Frigates. I guess they are looking for a ship in between T1 logistics frigates and logistics cruisers, capable to keep up with advanced frigate and T3D gangs. I’m not really a fan, since there are better gaps in the logistics line up that would be a better thing to fill.

Battlecruiser class logisitics comes to mind.

I’d rather save my third wish for something I would actually use. We really could use some Black Ops Logistics Ships. Using Strategic Cruisers for logi support in a BOPS gang really doesn’t cut it. The repair ranges are just not long enough to be effective and you shouldn’t have to spend half a billion ISK to fly a substandard logistics ship.

Interesting.

Just three more things I think will make Eve a little more cool.

I figure you’re going to be waiting for quite some time.

Who knows? I got kind of lucky last time.

Minus one.

Improving High Sec

Plus one.

I read a lot of blogs, I read 10 to 15 of them daily. One thing I’ve been noticing is a lot of people seem to have an idea of what CCP should do to fix high sec.

Let’s get the elements of this suggestion that are going to annoy folks out there right now. We have to reduce the viability of players living in high-sec their entire game lives.

Talvorian Dex – Target Caller

Okay, so I’m annoyed. The problem is, the most vocal of pilots in New Eden do not live in high sec. They live in null or low sec, and they PvP, and their suggestions all revolve on one thing:

Lack of people for them to shoot.

Yeah, it seems that there are a lot of folks in null sec and low that can’t find enough people to shoot at. There is just not enough action in the areas where pvp is allowed without restriction.

Lots of people in high sec that we can’t shoot. Make them move to null sec. Make it harder to make a living in high sec and the people there will gravitate to the rewards in low sec and null, where there is opportunity, but at the cost of increased risk.

Like I said, I read a lot of blogs, I don’t often reply on them. I did on Target Caller.

In real life, we see people who are living in war torn, unstable countries moving out for safety and opportunity.

In Eve, if you make high sec life harder, more risky, less stable, less rewarding, the people who Are satisfied with high sec now will not go to low sec or null for more rewards, because they have other options.

They dont have to move out of high sec for more content. They can just play another game.

Emphasis mine.

I am a PvPer. I started my life in New Eden in high sec and 2 months later, I was as a soldier fighting Atlas as a renter in Geminate. I’ve lived in NPC null sec camping bubbles with newbies. I have fought over plexes against the Gallente Federation in the hotspots of Black Rise. I’ve been a pilot in RvB (Blue Republic!) and roamed with Agony Unleashed (Sup Dybbuch!). I’ve sat on a titan dropped on newbies who preached that feeding others with kill mails was fun. I’ve flown interdictors for the most elite pvpers in Eve and been told to fly something more useful and get more kills.

I’ve been a soldier, a fleet commander, a teacher, a director, a diplomat and ultimately the executor of a insignificant hundred man alliance living in NPC space. I can tell you that High sec needs fixing, but not the fixing that PvP-centric null and low sec pilots would prefer.

High sec needs to be safer, which will grow it’s population, so that there is more competition for finite resources, and only then will the more ambitious players migrate to more dangerous space.

Right now, one of those resources is victims for high sec pvpers. More ships are destroyed in high sec than null and low sec combined. If you took away high sec pvp, everyone who wanted to blow stuff up would have to do it in Low or Null. Where people invariably shoot back.

That would increase the population for PvP areas, which is really why everyone who doesnt live peacefully in high sec wants to adjust high sec play.

There are people, the majority of players in Eve Online, who log in and do spaceships in the safety of high sec, chatting it up in NPC corp chat. No comms, no fleets. Soloing in a Navy Faction Battleship or Marauder, shooting red crosses, er, triangles. They love the game as much as any PvPer. They out number us 5 to 1. That they are content with the high sec game as it stands is not a bad thing. But CCP needs to make improvements to retain the carebear, the PvE-centric player, instead of trying to driving them into null or low sec space. Competing with other players in ship to ship combat is not for everyone.

We should all be encouraging CCP to make changes to increase retention. A bigger overall Eve Online population means that CCP has the money to develop cool features that ultimately all of us will enjoy. But if we PvP-centric players, the vocal minority, keep trying to encourage CCP to do something to high sec to make our PvP game better, we’re encouraging CCP to cut off their nose to spite their face.

Open University transitions dozens of carebears to killers every year. But they come to null sec by choice, not because someone is pushing them out here.

Make High sec a theme park. Scary, but generally safe. Make ganking painful for the gankers. Shorten wardecs. Let players pay CONCORD to be left alone. Eventually, some of those people will get bored and find their way out to low sec and null.

After all, we did.

Because ultimately, if you make living in high sec harder, they will just play another game.

Minus one.

Welcome to Curse

Plus one.

The other night I put my Stabber up and got in a Caracal instead. Traffic was light on prime time Eastern USTZ. We caught one frigate and one cruiser in what TuxedoMask calls “The Spider’s Web.”

I miss Tux.

After a couple of hours, I bid my good nights and log out. Of course, 15 minutes later, the fleet meets Zarvox Toral, flying through Curse, looking for a fight in his Vexor.

Now Zarvox had a little fight a few jumps earlier, versus a T1 cruiser, T3 cruiser and an interceptor but for some reason the guys he was skirmishing disengaged. In KQ, he finds a system full of reds and wonders aloud if TEST lives here. He soon realizes that he is in NPC space and the reds on his overview are the locals, A4D to be exact, who seem to be docked up. Resigned to wander, he jumps into CL-85V and with just a couple of neutrals in local, heads into 8G-MQV, which for the uninitiated is Open University of Celestial Hardship’s training system.

He finds reds in local, and couple of Assault Frigates, T3D, and a T1 Frigate on grid, camping on a warp disruptor bubble behind the gate. He aligns out. He notes that half of the people in local are not on his overview. He recalls that the last time he was here, he fought some T1 Frigates and they brought out a Falcon. One of the ships is burning down at him. He turns his ship around and decides to go for it anyway. He warps to the bubble.

As he goes to warp, a Griffin lands in the bubble. Zarvox starts cursing mightly: he knew that these bitches were going to have ECM. He turns his drones to aggressive and tries to target the Griffin before it’s too late, but he doesn’t make it. The frigates have him jammed, scrammed, webbed in short order. The missing pilots in local appear to be flying Recon Ships, with more ECM jams, tracking disruptors and capacitor neutralizers than necessary to take one T1 Cruiser. Zarvox remarks that ECM is terrible and it’s users have no balls.

Now, Zarvox gets his pod out, warps to the sun and lands in a warp disruptor bubble. His assailants land moments later and warp dsrupt his capsule. He starts his self destruct sequence as they cover it with EWAR so they can all share in the mail.

“Art of War Alliance?” he laments, “more like Art of Bitch. My Vexor is probably the most expensive thing they have killed in months.” A few momments later, he self destructs and returns to his home station.

Zarvox Toral is is an Australian and has been playing Eve since 2011. He does solo pvp and he was streaming when he found us.

Pics or it never happened, dude.

I’ve watched the videos of excellent solo and small gang combat pilots over the years. Guys like Kil2, Prometheus Exenthal and Sard Caid (smooches Sard!). All dudes who grew up someplace like Molden Heath or Syndicate. They would come to Curse solo in cruisers, HACs, battlecruisers and sometimes even battle ships and as often as not, leave Curse without them, victim of a small gang. Eventually they just don’t come to visit anymore.

I can recall a conversation several years ago between Prom and Kil2 on the Bring Solo Back podcast. Both of them were adament that Curse was a terrible place to solo pvp.

Don’t go to Curse!

I pretty much agreed with them. When I moved to Curse from Geminate in 6 years ago, it was like being a tough kid from Jersey City suddenly dropped into Compton. I tried to go solo. I ran into gangs. I lost more ships in one months than I had in the previous six. I didn’t even speak the same language as these guys who were shooting at me.

‘Sup, homes? What set you from? OUCH? Never heard of them. Dawg, you in Curse now. You either down or you out, and you definitely ain’t down. Nah son, I don’t believe it. Look at you. Your ship’s not even Faction! You can’t be riding around out here in a hooptie all by yourself. Let me help you out that Kestrel and – Damn! That’s T1 fit! You effed up, son! Maybe you should go back to wherever your punk ass came from?

The Curse culture is small gang. There are guys in Curse who do roam solo, typically in kiting ships, Scyth Fleets, Stabber Fleets, Cynabals and now Orthuses. In frigates, we used to see a lot of Dramiels and Daredevils, which transitioned into Imperial Navy Slicers before almost disappearing entirely. You might find a solo fight in systems where locals undock when they notice strangers loitering in their home system.

Mostly though, you’re going to find small gangs, patrolling space, camping gates, cutting off traffic. In Curse, people tend to travel in packs and fight with partners by their side. This is a direct reflection of Curse as a major travel route to between high sec Derelik and Sovereighty space in the south east. Larger corporations and alliances generally roll through in larger groups. The locals can tell the fleets seeking military targets, in their single ship doctrine fleets with logi support, from those traveling between empire and SOV, in the proverbial kitchen sink fleets. Either fleet will engage a solo target of opportunity. The locals have learned to fleet up to take them on.

Or at least, trip and beat up a fat kid.

Everyone loves a good fight, preferably one that they win. How many people do you know who will pass up the low hanging fruit when it’s there to grab.

Zarvox’s video of our one sided battle was very entertaining, but he has us pegged all wrong. Open University of Celestial Hardship flies mostly frigates. We use EWAR to control the fight in order to beat people flying ships with considerably more tank and firepower than what we fly. Since our EWAR pilots are not alts, when you come at us solo you’re going to be the unlucky recipient of all our collective attention.

I’m still trying to figure out why we’re set red to him. I mean, we didn’t do anything.

Zarvox was one guy in a Tech 1 Cruiser, all by himself, looking for a good fight. Unfortunately, he found Art of War Alliance. He assessed the risks, decided to engage, and was welcomed to to the neighborhood in the usual manner.

See, in Curse, like in Compton, if you know that those guys standing on the corner are giving out ass beatings, you don’t cross the street.

You keep walking, hope they don’t follow you and try, ever so carefully, not to trip over your big balls.

Minus one.