CSM9: Week Three

One minor site related thing before diving into the update – I’ve got a submission page for topic requests. Nothing more to say about that, really.

So what’s new this week? Meetings. More meetings. Oh god, the meetings!

Actually, no, it’s a great thing, the meetings have been productive. As an added bonus we’ve figured out how to overcome one shortcoming of the meeting platform, allowing more of us to attend live on a regular basis. That includes myself – the vagaries of scheduling meetings involving people across five or six timezones and two continents means the “optimal” time falls in my commute hour or in the first hour of work. Fortunately, the efforts of CCP Leeloo (who we’ve decided must be a Genie) mean that recordings of the meetings are posted for any of us who missed them within a couple hours.

In the “newly posted features” department, Sugar Kyle and Xander Phoena have both done a good job covering that. I hate feeling like I’m just rehashing what they write, so I’m not going to belabor the point too much. Instead, I’ve got a few bits of my own to add to a couple things,

MMJD are removed from ABCs… for now. They are not ruled out for the future. Personally, I hope they come back for that application, although the slow fall from favor of the class in many of its old applications has its roots in things that go well beyond what just MMJDs would solve.

The Mordus NPCs currently on the Test Server are actually found in anomalies, not belts as was originally stated. That it explains why I had no success finding them the other day. Edit: No it doesn’t, the sites are the source of BPCs for the new modules and the like, belt rats remain source for the ships themselves. I just misattributed my bad luck.

And then Freighters. Last week it was rig slots, and after public feedback and plenty of internal debate, they now have low slots instead. Overall I’m a fan of the outcome here. The upsides are a little larger, though the downsides are as well, a fact that there’s no getting around; “freighters as they are with modules on top” was something that was never on the table to begin with. The ability to refit on the fly to suit the next hauling job does a lot to offset that, though, while the permanence of rigs only exacerbated the downsides.

The question I’m sure some people are asking, then, is why didn’t the CSM fight this before it was posted? The answer there, simply, is good ideas don’t always happen all at once. Just like anyone else, we see something, we look it over, we think about it. Reservations may manifest themselves immediately, as they did in this case. I was concerned about rig permanence eroding the supposed new flexibility, and the steep downsides to go one way or another was something everyone was concerned about.

Most of the time, though, “we’re concerned about this” isn’t enough. When I was growing up, one piece of advice I heard from my dad over and over was “When you have a boss, don’t just bring him a problem. That just makes you a problem. Instead, bring a problem and a solution, or better yet two or three.” In this case, we had the problem (our concerns), and even had a solution (“why not slots instead”) but part of a solution is being able to defend the solution. The solution had problems of its own as well – low slot modules are far more powerful than rigs, and so difficult to balance, as Sugar Kyle noted last week. And thus, Fozzie marched onward and took the changes public… as he well should have! More on that a bit later.

Internally, discussion continued. Low slots for freighters looked like a fun little design exercise, so I generated some numbers. Scroll down through that post and look at the base EHP numbers and EHP numbers for various fits, and you can see why Damage Controls were left out of the final design – while they’re arguably balanced, the swinginess and tradeoffs involved are ultimately far too large. Nevertheless, it demonstrated it was possible, and so we submitted the design, our strengthened verbal arguments, and (quite possibly most importantly) the support low slots had received in the feedback thread both before and after my post.

And so here we are.

I mentioned a bit earlier that Fozzie was absolutely right to press on and take the changes public. Why? If the CSM has reservations, no doubt the players will as well, and so why not wait and address them? A large part of that I already explained, the lack of a good argument defending concerns. Another major factor, though, is that the very reason things are released far in advance of a patch (sidenote: balancing existing ships is generally not very demanding on developer resources, so two and a half weeks before patch is pretty far in advance) is to give time for feedback from everyone. That does include us – we’re not banned from giving feedback once a feature is posted in F&ID, after all. And besides, often as not in such situations, our continued feedback will draw inspiration from yours.

Just to close this post off, what exactly qualifies as a strong argument, and why isn’t we’re concerned enough? CCP Greyscale had an unbelievably good post on the topic of giving feedback a couple weeks ago that delves into that. I’ll quote the bullet points and briefly explain them each in (mostly) my own words here, but go read the whole post too.
Be calm and reasonable. Rageposting (which needs no explanation), outlandish and/or hyperbolic claims (“this will absolutely kill X and everyone will quit”) and childish labels (“coward module” comes to mind, courtesy of the MMJD thread) are not convincing and generally will not get you anywhere but ignored.
Show your work. This is the why; your opinion is not enough, as a thread will often have multiple conflicting opinions. A side that can support its opinion is far more likely to be successful.
Be Specific. Numbers are fantastic. Demonstrating why something is too big or too small is much better than just stating that it is. To grab the easiest kind of example, you might feel a post-balance ship doesn’t have the CPU to fit a reasonable fit for a certain task. Your argument will be strengthened by saying “This is the fit I want to use, these are the compromises I have to make (meta modules, different tank choices, etc) to make it work, and these are fits similar ships in similar roles can use that don’t have to do that, for that reason this ship should have at least 30 more CPU.” Actual example, not saying who, what or when.
Consider the whole picture. Much as you might like to think so, you are not the only player in this game. The developers are going to consider all angles on feedback as it is. Demonstrate you’ve done so as well and you raise the odds of your suggestion being taken into consideration.
Start your post well. A clear, concise summary – an abstract, if you prefer – will grab attention. This is especially true when your feedback is, by virtue of topic, a wall of text.
Speaking of a wall of text (to take the bullet points out of order) make sure it’s readable. Break up your paragraphs, punctuate correctly, and perhaps include some wit.
Finally, be novel. This isn’t to say that the tenth or twentieth or hundredth “I agree with this idea” post isn’t useful, as it indicates that one idea or another is something players can get behind. But there’s nothing to +1 without succinct yet comprehensive posts laying out why something is a good or bad idea and how to fix it.

While he was speaking for himself, I virtually guarantee you that this goes for literally any developer in the company… and speaking for myself, a lot of it goes for me as well. I’m here, among other things, as a conduit for feedback from players back to the developers. Coming to me and saying “this is bad, fix it” isn’t very useful on its own; even if I already think its bad myself, your reasoning and explanation could well be the new insight needed to convince CCP.

Just a little bit of food for thought next time you’re writing a feedback post.

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A Dogmatic Future

This last Fanfest was the first one I’ve ever been to, and one thought that occurred to me was man, I wish roundtables were recorded, because occasionally some neat shit comes out in them.

I only actually made it to a couple of round tables, but one of them was the second ship balancing round table. It fits the bill, though. There was definitely some neat shit, and it’s neat shit that only about fifty players (if that) heard, that I’ve not really seen commented on anywhere else.

First thing’s first – Dogma. If you’re not aware, Dogma is the system in the game that handles your ship, its attributes, and how your skills modify those attributes. You’d think this is a simple and straightforward task. Take number, multiply number, viola! But as it turns out, it’s something more like this:

Yes, to my slight shame, I used to play WoW.

CCP Veritas gave a more in-depth explanation during his presentation at Fanfest, which was recorded and is available here. The part about Dogma is at 37:40, but really, take the time to watch the whole thing.

If you’ve watched the presentation, you might be wondering how, exactly, Dogma relates to ship balancing. In hindsight, it’s actually really obvious. Veritas even obliquely references it in the presentation, talking about how they want to “make the system more flexible for Game Design” and how “adding to their attributes table is something they’d like to do.” But I wasn’t at the Gridlock presentation, so it wasn’t until that ship balancing session that it all clicked together.

First thing’s first. When asked “What is your vision for Titans?” CCP Fozzie answered “To find a vision for Titans.” We’ll come back to that one.

From another player, “If you could snap your fingers and fix Command Ships and gang bonuses, what would your ideal solution be?” A likely direction, at least, apparently a module that generates a point-blank AOE effect, applying a temporary buff to any ship in gang. The boost would persist if you moved out of range, but you’d have to get back in to refresh it.

Unfortunately, it seems, such a thing isn’t really technically feasible. At least, not right now. Echoing what Veritas had said, Fozzie went on to note that it might be possible after Team Gridlock finishes the Dogma rewrite.

If you think about it, that’s not that surprising. Gang bonuses are nothing but a stat change after all, exactly what Dogma handles. Given how CCP Veritas cited session changes (during which all your stats have to be recalculated) as one huge factor in server load, it might not be entirely accurate to say that it’s technically infeasible. A more plausible scenario features CCP Fozzie proposing this mechanic, only to be told by Veritas (after he’d finished hyperventilating) that he would murder him in his sleep if he tried to implement it now.

If gang bonuses are just a beneficial stat change, then effects like webs are obviously negative ones. This is how Supercarrier and Titan balancing comes into play. If the Dogma re-write opens up more and new ways to apply stats, we’ve got a whole new realm to work within for those. What if instead of guns and a Doomsday, a Titan fielded giant targeted AOE webs instead?

Just an example, probably a bad one, and one very much born of thinking inside the box to boot. It’s easy to imagine the upsides for the purposes of supercapital balancing, though. Perhaps the largest is such an ability could easily be made to be stacking penalized. That would address what’s always been the largest difficulty in balancing them (“How do we do this without making 50 of them together too good? What about 100? 200?”) That in turn does something about the ever widening power gap between established and existing alliances and the currently mythical “newcomer little guy”. Such bonuses would also likely mandate the use of a support fleet of some kind, which is probably a desirable outcome as well.

Basically, if you’ve been wondering what’s been taking CCP so long to rebalance gang bonuses and Supercapitals, this might just be the answer.

There’s one last upside here as well. One complaint cropping up more and more lately (though still not too often, to be fair) is that as we add more and more ships to the game, they’re just crammed into the same niches, where they either obsolete their competition or are instantly useless. A bit melodramatic and generally incorrect, but there certainly is a kernel of truth there. Just think of the Mordus ships – the Garmur instantly compared to the Crow, the Orthrus to, well, any of your favorite skirmish ships, the Barghest to the Machariel. Given a limited number of roles to work with, it’s not all that surprising. But if – when? – the Dogma rewrite lets the game designers go off in completely new directions, create entirely new roles or radically redefine old ones? Well then – sky’s the limit.

CSM9: Week Two

And onward we march. CSM8’s term is officially over; that council has been dissolved permanently, their last remnants swept away forever. CSM9 have tags and forum access, granting direct controls over their territories. How and if they keep their local constituents in line, however, is up to them.

*ahem*

Anyway, that second “thing” from last week’s post is this week’s first thing – the announcement that the CCP will be taking advantage of their new expansion model (sidenote: If you’re not familiar with that new model, read that post) to allow them to delay the industry changes and push them back to the following release, July 22nd. Plenty of good feedback during and immediately after Fanfest prompted the decision; they want to ensure the revamp is as perfect as they can get it, and only having to delay six weeks instead of six months allows them to do that. Obviously everyone hopes CCP doesn’t make a habit of it, but having the option for a small delay when necessary to ensure a patch comes off the best way possible is a big, big deal.

The industry features were the largest part of Kronos and their delay certainly guts out the largest set of features for the patch. I’m still not entirely sure that there’s a comprehensive list of what was delayed, but in a nutshell, it’s everything from the series of six industry devblogs. Still, CCP has pivoted, and the theme of Kronos will be more pirate & lowsec oriented now, with a full feature list here. Well, mostly full. There may be still a few surprises in store ;)

Time from an interlude from patch discussion. CCP Dolan‘s departure is public knowledge if not official these days. When CSM8 was told he was leaving, to be replaced by CCP Leeloo, the news was met with a bit of trepidation. While many in the community are not fans of Dolan, to the CSM he was a known quantity who had (on the whole) done a pretty decent job. As a reuslt, it makes me extremely happy to say that CCP Leeloo has been proving herself right out of the gate. CSM9 has meetings scheduled with what I’m reasonably certain is every single development team in CCP over the next week and a half or so, a mini-summit of “get to know you’s”. That ought to save us a bit of time at the Summits, as first order of business with every new team has always been “who are you, what do you do.” So, kudos to CCP Leeloo. I think I speak for all five incumbents when I say you’ve erased any uncertainty we might have had.

To echo, just a touch, something Sugar Kyle talked about over in her blog, there have definitely been some heated arguments over new features. That shouldn’t really be any surprise, and hell, it’s actually a good thing. Going against a common opinion, I’ve argued more than a few times lately that any given CSM member isn’t there to represent the game as a whole. How can they? No one knows everything. We all work from our respective experiences with our preferred playstyle or styles, and do our best to convince everyone else our viewpoint is correct. Sometimes that’s not necessary because we actually agree despite diverging experiences, sometimes it’s not necessary because even though we don’t agree, it doesn’t actually matter because the change has little to no actual impact. But sometimes it does matter, and that’s where you want someone who can present their arguments well. And at this point I think I’ll cut this line of reasoning short before it turns into a post about what to look for in a CSM candidate. Back to this week!

The Mordu’s Legion faction ships everyone already knows about from Fanfest, of course, but CCP Rise posted their stats on Monday. I already wrote about those, so I won’t belabor them too much other than to point out that they’re one of many Lowsec focused elements for Kronos. The main source of supply (hopefully!) will be belt rats found in Lowsec belts. More people in lowsec hunting valuables and getting in fights? One can only hope. Not much argument internally about these – we’re all as excited to get our hands on them as most everyone else is.
Continuing attention to lowsec, we’ve got more K-K wormholes. Low to highsec movement isn’t changed here, but low to null is increased a lot and low to low, a hell of a lot. Again, no arguments amongst ourselves here, and by this point I’m considering putting one of my spare PvP pilots out in lowsec just to take part in all the new action!Tooltips! Okay, general player reaction doesn’t actually warrant the “!” just yet, I think. There’s been a lot of backlash over them, and some of it is even warranted. CCP is working on it. I’m pretty positive on them overall, though, so if you’ve got suggestions to tweak and adjust them I’m all ears; if you want the CSM to push for their removal, look elsewhere.

Blockade Runners got their revamp posted, along with Deep Space Transports. Not a whole lot of argument over the former – they got exactly what they needed, with the nice bonus of a fat boost to warp speed on top. DSTs on the other hand, well… I’m less than impressed by them. I think their escape mechanics are a bit of a trap, which makes their tanking abilities overrated. Most of the rest of the CSM disagrees, though. I had a lively debate about their merits with Sugar Kyle, but at the end of the day this is one of those areas mentioned earlier where disagreeing doesn’t really matter. On the other hand, their weapon slots might make them fun to use as Q-Ships.

In conjunction with Deep Space Transports are Medium Micro Jump Drives, which have a lot of PvPers throwing a fit. You know what? Suck it up and adapt. Might help your case to stop being so hyperbolic in feedback, and trashing on the devs responsible isn’t really going to convince them either.

Last up is Freighters and Jump Freighters. CCP Fozzie nerfed several stats as well as introducing rigs, and so the net effect is that pilots can choose to do better than current in one area, at the cost of others. As most people no doubt expected to be able to buff all of their stats a little bit or one stat a lot with rigs, this is quite a surprise and most people aren’t happy. For my part, I like there being elements of choice involved in using the freighter, which in turn means that I like the fact that it’s not “okay your freighters are as-is except with rigs.” Where’s the choice there?

What I’m a great deal less certain about, having thought about it, is just how absolute it is. You can’t unfit rigs, so if you want to suit your ship to your task, you eat the cost of destroying them or maintain extra ships. While any other ship has that problem as well, any other ship also has fitting slots and so most of the time can perform with most of their efficiency, even with the wrong rigs. My other concern, which I’m less sure of is how all or nothing the corresponding nerfs make it. You can get to about 105% in one aspect and suffer greatly in all others, or mix and match and just kind of suck at everything due to the nerfs. At least, I think so – I desperately need to sit down and crunch out the numbers, but I do have an idea rolling around based on this concept. We’ll see where it goes.

That just about wraps it up for this week. Kronos is on SiSi and slated to launch June 3rd, so we’re getting close. That doesn’t mean, however, that all the changes are out – CCP still has a few things in store. Stay tuned!

Death to Tech II BPOs

Sensationalist title? Read on, then decide.

I can’t be assed to go out and look, but I suspect that since approximately “forever” (defined as in this case as “whenever Invention was implemented” anyway) CCP has been saying they’ll do something about Tech II BPOs. This occurred most recently at Fanfest and has started off a slew of panicked sales, matched by many vehement denials from the owners… as well as a few hilarious but misplaced and hastily dropped accusations of impropriety. A spate of trolling from fellows of yours truly eventually prompted this post from CCP Eterne.

There are currently no immediate plans to remove T2 BPOs from the game.

I’ve bolded the relevant qualifiers there, because “no immediate plans to remove” certainly does not mean “no immediate plans to nerf.” Quite the opposite, CCP Greyscale seems to have them squarely in his crosshairs.

First thing’s first is this post, which is quite long, so I’ve quoted the relevant part below.

We are currently of a mind to shift invented BPCs so they have positive (or at worst 0) ME and TE figures. This a) prevents the removal of extra materials giving invention an extra-hard kick, and in particular b) prevents every invented T2 item from requiring two of the relevant T1 items (due to always rounding up materials). This will probably put all invented BPCs in the 1-5% ME/2-10% TE range, with decryptors adjusted to match. We may adjust T2 build costs upwards across the board to put the net T2 resource usage roughly where it is currently, so we don’t end up nerfing the demand for T2 components. (This obviously also serves to close the gap somewhat between invention and T2 BPOs; this is not a goal here but it’s an acceptable side-effect.)

It’s easy to read that and go “It’s just a nice buff to invention, how does that nerf Tech II BPOs”, so I’ll explain. The first thing to keep in mind is that one point of negative ME is a much bigger penalty than one point of positive ME is a gain. In fact, each point increases waste by 10% of the base build value; by comparison, getting a BPO to its perfect research level only saves 10% total. Nevertheless, the throughput of a Tech II BPO or even every single Tech II BPO of a given type is extremely limited, and so despite the cost advantage, Invention dictates the price on most things.

To illustrate, consider a Zealot. At ME0 the build cost is about 112m isk; with a month of research, that’s 104.5m isk. Another month to ME10 buys another million isk in savings, which is a bit hard to justify. The optimal invention cost, on the other hand, is either 130m isk (one run, ME-1) or 135m isk (two runs, ME-2) depending on Decryptor choice. Jita sale price, on the other hand, is 148m isk at time of writing. That considerable profit margin is where a Tech II derives its value… though it’s worth noting that the collective delusion that they’d always go up means that when they do get sold, the asking price is on the wrong side of farcical. The last Zealot BPO offered for sale was part of a 179 BPO collection and was clearly posted as a dickwaving thing – the seller turned down every single offer, including a 160b isk (around 13 years of profit) bid for the Zealot print.

But I digress. With Greyscale’s proposal, those invented blueprints would no longer come out at ME-1 or ME-2, but ME3 or ME2, with a build cost falling between 105m-106m isk. Throw in 4-8m isk for the Invention materials themselves and round the result of to 115m isk, because round numbers are fun. It should be obvious here that Zealot prices would fall, with 125-130m being a safe bet. That doesn’t change the inventors profit margins all that much, but the profit the BPO holder is making on each run suddenly dropped by almost half.

Astute observers may note I ignored both the material changes Greyscale referenced and the material changes already promised in the Research devblog. This is to keep the explanation simple, but I’ve checked the numbers with those changes and the outcome is basically the same. And, besides, other less tangible factors such as a shift in decryptor preferences (that +9 run decryptor looks real nice when it no longer obliges you to build at ME-6, which may or may not explain the recent rise in demand for them) and easier access to research facilities may well push the price down even further by increasing supply to the market.

So that’s strike one. It is worth noting, however, that it’s a change which largely affects ships. Most modules are unaffected, either because they use so few components and materials that the difference between ME-4 and ME100 is negligible, or because invention time is so “lossy” that the market is constantly undersupplied. What do I mean by lossy? Invention jobs for many modules run in just a few hours. If you plug in jobs before you go to work, you’re missing the vast majority of your potential output during the day; likewise when you sleep or do anything but regularly babysit the jobs. Once you’ve got the print its not so bad, since even frigate modules take hours to build and the prints start at ten runs. The Invention process itself is the bottleneck, and it’s why Heat Sink IIs sell for 840k when the cost to invent & build at ME-4 is around 460k. Same for 1MN MWD II (1.7m invent & build, 2.4m sale), Wasp II (738k vs an even 1m), and so on.

But don’t worry, Greyscale’s out for those BPOs as well. As detailed in this post, he’s thinking about increasing the max run counts on invented BPOs, and scaling up the length of the job to match. Numbers (and I suppose “even happening at all”) are still up in the air, but nevertheless, the effect would be to diminish the lost time factor in Invention, which would increase overall throughput and bring prices down.

And all this, strictly speaking, is before we’ve even gotten to actual Invention reworks; according to the first Industry devblog, those “are pushed to be done next in line, mainly for fall and/or winter.” Makes a lot more sense why BPO owners are rushing to sell now, doesn’t it?

Mordus Legion: First Look at Fittings

Namamai has updated EFT with the brand new Mordus ships, which means you’re able to play around with them now and wish they weren’t still a month off. If you don’t know where to find them, here you go. Download, extract the files into the Data folder in your EFT folder, overwrite the existing files.

Garmur

This thing is undoubtedly the most relatively powerful of the ships. At 3789m/s it’s just a touch slower than the Daredevil (3891m/s). Its got a 3s align time which, while beat by both the Dramiel and Daredevil, matches the Condor and beats any other missile frigate by a wide margin. More significantly, the available fitting is quite generous, so you can do something like this without much trouble:

That also works with a Medium ASB if you’re feeling like an active tank; just replace the ACR with a Tech I CPU rig. Setup that way you’ve still got a solid 4300 EHP and 105 DPS tanked. It’s everything that makes the MASB Merlin fits attractive, without that pesky part where they don’t get an MWD.

On the missile front, there’s the obligatory souped up Condor.
Something like that, I guess?

Long story short is you’ve got a lot of fitting space that affords a lot of flexibility. I expect these will be a common sight in lowsec, and might replace or supplement the Crows and Maledictions in roaming interceptor gangs. Or, for that matter, be used as a counter to said gangs?

Orthrus

Of course, if you want an interceptor counter, perhaps you should be looking up one ship size. With Rapid Light launchers and a couple BCS II, the Orthrus volleys for about 1600 damage every 3.5 seconds. The typical roaming interceptor has well under 3,000 EHP, so you can do the math on that one.
Dip into the wallet a bit and you can make an XLASB fit work, but someone else came up with it; I’ll let them post it if they want.

In the less specialized realm of fits, there’s the utterly obvious HAM skirmisher.
I should credit Namamai for this particular fit, since I stole it from him more or less outright… but on the other hand, it is the utterly obvious thing to do. A third BCS II fits, but the Nanofiber gives you the speed to keep up with nearly any cruiser in the game, which is worth far more than a little bit more DPS on top of what is already an exceptionally respectable number.

Barghest

Let’s get the obvious out of the way first: No, it’s not really a PvE boat. You can do it, it’s got “highest missile DPS of any missile battleship” as a point in it’s favor, it’s able to field a perfectly respectable tank (you can even tank upwards of 600 DPS passively against the right damage profile), and the velocity bonus means you’ll waste fewer missiles. Use a Golem or Navy Raven anyway – their bonuses to damage application more than make up for the slightly lower paper damage.

With that out of the way, the obvious question then is how to use the thing for PvP.
May as well get that out of the way first, though I’m really not sure that labeling it “comedy” is actually fair… aside from the officer Scrambler, anyway. That might be a bit much. But, the missile velocity bonus is just begging to be used that way – blow everything, kill, neut or jam off tackle, bail. Shed the over the top officer Scrambler and you can fit Cruise Missiles instead, which might just be the better option anyway.

This could be fun, if we didn’t live in a world where it would just be expensive bomber bait instead.
Anyone care to place bets whether it’s even possible to firewall 20km/s cruise missiles?

The Verdict

I will freely admit that theorycrafting fits isn’t my foremost talent and so I may well have overlooked something here.

Meh.

The Garmur is the best of the bunch here, hands down. I said it twice for a reason. The Orthrus is no slouch either, though, and it’s not hard to imagine that it’ll squeeze out the Vagabond, Cynabal, and… everything, really… in the “expensive roaming toy” department.

Biggest loser, then, is the Barghest. I call back again to the previous “theorycrafting isn’t my strong suite” line and admit I’m not really sure if it’s just not that strong, or if it’s actually pretty decent and is just outshone by its smaller bretheren. Either way, it’ll be the least popular of the trio.

 

Edit: I saw this on twitter shortly after publication, which I have to say takes the cake in the “Comedy Option” department.

CSM9: Week One

The first observation here is that it was difficult to write any CSM8 weekly updates with the likes of Jester around. Xander is doing a fine job of continuing the tradition. Hate ’em or love ’em, they’re both quite loquacious, which makes writing anything without feeling like I’m just regurgitating what’s been written elsewhere difficult. But hey, it is what it is. Hopefully as we proceed through the term, the fast pace imposed by the new release cycle will open up gaps for different coverage and viewpoints… or conflicting coverage of the same thing, which might make for a more interesting read!

Anyway.

Big news of the week, of course, is that we opted to eliminate officer positions in favor of forming an autonomous collective, to borrow the words of one FHC poster. As has been detailed elsewhere, people will pick up the work as necessary. One person might assume charge of driving the minutes process, for example, another (or two or three or four, if CSM8 was any indication) might take notes during meetings, and so forth. In short, the extra responsibilities of the old officer positions will be picked up voluntarily, and since those responsibilities were the foremost reasons for the positions, why keep them around?

For my part, I’m a fan.

Xander commented on the number of channels that the new members were admitted to after signing the NDA. Unfortunately, there are still more! While the various CSM8 channels will go away, we do have CSM Alumni (just what it sounds like), the CSM/CCP joint channel (likewise) and the CSM9 private channel (again, likewise). But over the next week or so I hope to see new serious business channels for each individual feature team. The CSM/CCP joint channel, after all, is very much a general bullshit channel, particularly in the evening EVE time when most of CCP is asleep but all the USTZ CSM members are still around. Individual team channels offer a no-nonsense place to discuss the features being worked on by that team. While they’re normally quiet, they’ve proven their worth over the course of CSM8, and are likely to be even more valuable under the new release tempo.

Both CSMs got together with Team Five-0 for a brief sprint review. This one was fairly low key, although what Xander referred to as “not to exciting” was this, and it’s easy to see how players might have what we’ll delicately call a mixed reaction to it.

Two other notables outside the sprint review. We’ve gotten to see the first iteration of stats for the Mordus Legion faction ships, and all I can say is I’m excited to get my hands on them. The stats and racial bonuses are very solid and fit the ships’ roles exceptionally well, and the role bonus is exceptionally interesting. While I suspect it’ll be under-appreciated at first, it certainly sets the ships apart and compliments their role nicely. I’ll have more to say on them once they get posted.

Finally, another “thing” for the upcoming release, which definitely sparked a lively debate amongst both ourselves and between us and CCP. It’ll be interesting to see how it’s received by the players at large, although like Xander I think it’s a positive.

In other news, the new site layout is probably hard to miss. I’ve setup a new page with CSM9 member’s blogs, as well as links and RSS feeds for each member on  Eve-o. One thing in particular to note is the ability to search for CSM posts as a whole, which is either brand new or merely something I’ve never noticed; not sure which. Since that exists, though, perhaps we can get “jump to CSM post” functionality in forum threads as well?

Last but not least, CSM9 results, including the ballot files in the comment thread. I’m still digging into these in a bit more detail. In the meantime, Jester and Rhavas (who gets “a little ranty”) both have posts on the subject.

Interceptors – Quick Thoughts

It’s been a long day, so here’s a quick topic to chew on.

Like it or love it the new role bonus for Interceptors – bubble immunity, in case you’ve been living under a rock – is probably here to stay.

That’s not to say that interceptors might not see some balancing. Historically, CCP’s balancing efforts have always hinged on how widely used a ship is relative to similar options. In the case of interceptors, I’d probably lay money that the Crow and Malediction are dominating in that department. While any of the ‘Fleet interceptors’ (defined as such by their bonus to Warp Scrambler and Warp Disruptor range) work just fine in support to gangs large and small, those two are undisputed kings of the interceptor roam. Bubble immune with a fast align time, 30km point and no need to decelerate from their high MWD velocity to apply damage, why wouldn’t they be? Piss poor DPS, sure, but a couple of them working in concert can kill off ratters without much issue and packs of them can handle a lot of other things.

At some point, if I’m right about the usage, they’re going to get revisited. So, here’s some food for thought for a novel approach.

First, split the ‘Combat’ and ‘Fleet’ interceptors a little more broadly. The Tech II specialization or theme of the class is “Mobility”, but that need not mean a class-wide bonus. Fleet interceptors keep the bubble immunity, as it’s an excellent bonus for pursuing fleeing targets and moving about an incumbered battlefield. Combat interceptors, on the other hand, could replace it with a bonus allowing short-range engagement and disengagement at will. The idea would be to differentiate them from Assault Frigates, whose low sig radius and generally robust tank lets them hang in close and pound their target. Imagine, if you will, a bonus that conferred immunity to webs, or scramblers… or both.

Edit: It’s already caused some confusion, so I should point out that when I say “immunity to scramblers” I’m thinking specifically of ignoring the “shuts down MWDs” part, not the warp disruption effect.

Probably a dramatically overpowered example, but you get the idea of the theme.

Second, give the ‘Fleet Interceptor’ role to the Crusader and Raptor, respectively, rather than Malediction & Crow, and given that, change up the other bonuses a little to suit.

The end result would be just a little bit more thought necessary when it comes to choosing your interceptor, especially for roaming.