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Saturday, October 29, 2011

What Eve really needs to make it real - Part 2

Speaking of unreal elements within Eve Online, another thing that has always broken my belief suspension is the manner in which ships take damage. I can't think of a single instance in real naval combat where a ship functioned perfectly right up to the moment it blew up (HMS Hood not withstanding.) The Bismarck, allegedly, never had its main armor belts pierced by the British. Salvo after salvo and torpedo after torpedo failed to sink the mighty Bismarck.The ship was, however, doomed by a "lucky" torpedo drop that damaged its rudder. The Germans had to scuttle it in the end.

In Eve, our ships go through three phases of damage - shields, armor and structure. Yet our heads up display functions perfectly up until the moment our pod pops out - and even after that. We have target locks until the bitter end. The computer connections between processor and display never fail. Hell, we can even warp out unless actively prevented no matter how much damage the ship's sustained. That's not very realistic. Why can't we have system failures as our armor gets blown off bit by bit?

It certainly would add an interesting bit of realism to the 1x1 PvPs where the victor limps away with 10% structure. Wouldn't it be exciting if his tactical display went out half way through the fight and he had no idea if the pilot he'd just vanquished had friends on the way? What if his navigation computer was knocked offline and he had no idea where the gate or nearest station was? The Bismarck had no choice but to make straight (pun intended) for Brest though every bit of armament on that battle-wagon still functioned perfectly.

Why doesn't this happen in EVE? It would make everyone think twice about attacking someone else. If there was a risk that they might not get home with their loot, even if they were successful, would they still choose to engage? Sure, pilots can overheat modules risking a burnout but the pilot chooses to overheat. He accepts the risk. What if the risk was there whether she wanted it or not? Would that not be more real?

This would revolutionize game play in a way that more cap and less mass ever will. What's the real difference between an armor and a shield tank? One melts fast early and one melts fast later. That's all, a big fat nothing in reality terms. Sure, shields regenerate on their own and armor doesn't but BFD. Armor tanks get extra allotments for armor repairers. Their designed for it. Now, if damage to armor and structure cause component failures the whole game changes.

Shield tanks might have less of a chance of loosing components so long as their buffer holds. This makes them superior early in a fight. However, once they dip into armor the failures come fast and furious. Armor tanks may loose components relatively early in the fight, but not at as high a rate as shield tanks and probably not the most critical systems. Also, armor reppers could have a chance of repairing a damaged component. It'd change the basic nature of both tank types in ways that would make combat more real. Shield tanks would have to have hull reppers for battlefield repairs. Some damage should only be repairable by hull reppers regardless of tank. The useless becomes useful if properly employed. Hull reppers might be the difference in a fleet staying in space and winning the day...

...or limping back to space dock with their slagged components between their legs.

Regardless of how it's done, there will be an emotional satisfaction that can only come from believing you were in a real spaceship with real problems to solve. There would be no "best" fit. Every situation would dictate whether your fit passes muster or not. Chance would ensure your honesty. Even the baddest ass Super-Cap fleet could succumb to fate. Even a Titan could lose it's ability to maneuver and wouldn't that be something?

Eve must become more real to survive. They need to not only scrub the art and the mechanics of space travel, CCP also needs to add Murphy back into the game. No fleet fight should ever be a sure thing. No POS bash should ever be a simple matter of calculator and timing. No 1x1 should ever be predictable regardless of what is flown or the experience of the pilot. It's easy for a pilot to know his ship's capabilities. It's real when she doesn't know if those capabilities will be there when she needs them most.

Lastly, with Murphy back in the game, nerfs become unnecessary except in the most extreme cases. Balance is achieved through fate, not programming. Nerfs are like scientific discoveries. For every question answered, two more arise. For every ship balanced, another takes its place. Drake fleets, HAC gangs, Super-cap fleets, Dramiels and the list goes on and on and never ends. Next up are the tier 3 battle-cruisers.  That's cool, but it's not the answer CCP. Eve needs a real element of chance.

What do you think could be done to make Eve combat more real?

Fly Careful.


  1. As it currently stands, once a shield tank is broken, the fight is over for them. They'd have already lost by the time they noticed any failures. Doesn't seem terribly balanced if it's done thai way

  2. I've considered this, especially since it's a mechanic that is seen in most games - units work perfectly until they blow up.

    My line of thinking is that hull damage would be reflected in component damage - the same damage as done by overheating. I understand that armor starts taking damage when the shields are at 25% (with some skills to modify), and perhaps this could also be applied to components and armor - at 25% armor, components start taking damage. If you added some "virtual" components, such as navigation, hud and warp drive, this could have visible effects as described. These virtual components would be considered the source of salvage components.

    However, a side effect of this is that looted/dropped components would be of lower value, as they'd need repairing before sale. Also it would increase the cost of repairing the ship after a close encounter.

    The downside with using random chance in games, and I think the reason it's not done more often, is that despite being statistically fair, players who are unlucky will feel that it was unfair. This is different to feeling hard - random damage is completely out of their hands, while hard is if they'd done better. This random damage would become the new lag.

  3. I completely agree and can honestly say this is one of the reasons I left EVE.
    Taking damage to components, even if slightly random, can generate a reality and urgency about a game that EVE sometimes lacks.
    Take another game for example where this is implemented. The Mechwarrior series, particularly Mechwarrior II. One of the things that made this game such fun is that going into the same fight twice was never the same. You could end up with a different arm blown off or a different weapon damaged. Or a crippled leg would slow you down and cause you to fail the mission because you couldnt acheive the objectives on time even if you could defeat all the opposing mechs.
    Another big mistake in Eve is that the shield is mostly inpenetrable (until the mentioned 25%) and so is armour. To make it more realisic I would add a penetration value to weapons so that, for example, a Battleship sized laser will penetrate through a shield and cause armour and hull damage to a frigate, because in essence a frigate shield is not solid enough to completely stop a direct hit. The shield would not be completely knocked down just reduce like normal (think Starteck, some damage usually gets through even though shield is not completely down). Same with armour. Think of all the classic board games such as Warhammer 40k. A huge laser hit on a tank will not strip off all its armour, but it sure will penetrate and cause internal component damage to a particular location. How much damage it causes would be limited by the amount of armour it had to go through.
    When I was at school we played the old Games Workshop board game Space Fleet.
    That game also had a chance to penetrate shields and cause internal damage if the dice that hit the ship also rolled a 6. That game was so much fun because often ships were put out of action not by destroying the hull to 0, but by knocing out most of the systems such as laser batteries, engines, turning ability, etc. Thats how EVE should be as well. It should be difficult and take a long time to completely reduce a ship's hull to zero, most of the time it would be 'destroyed' by taking out all the guns, targeting systems, reactors, the pilot, etc.
    Also there should be a possibility like with Hood of a catastrophic lucky hit in the reactor, or ammo magazines for projectile armed ships.
    All these things would make a game much more fun.
    In Mechwarrior II, the best feeling after a victory over a group of mechs was when you had to limp home with weapons missing, systems almost crippled, you really felt like you won a hard fight. Eve lacks this.


Be civil, be responsible and most of all be kind. I will not tolerate poor form. There will be no James Hooks here. We are all better than that.