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Friday, October 3, 2014

EVE Online Jump Changes have Players Jumping Mad

It is true that you can't please everyone, but you sure can piss everyone off. Now, I don't for one second think that everyone sees the changes to the jump system in EVE Online as bad, but the forums are awash in tears. Here's but a few examples culled from the first four pages of comments. There are 298 more pages as of the publishing of this post - and counting! THREADNOUGHT!

[caption id="attachment_3805" align="aligncenter" width="800"]Negative Responses to Jump Changes in EVE Online Negative Responses to Jump Changes in EVE Online[/caption]

So, for those who don't have any idea what all this ire is about, my good friend TurAmarth ElRandir had an excellent summary of the changes on his post titled Let the Ships Fall Where They May. Here's the summary but you should go give the entire post a read,

"So effectively much shorter distances traveled per jump with increasingly longer wait times between jumps (per pilot) primarily for Warships… IE Jump Capable Caps and Titans.

As Black Ops are not part of the Force Projection issues in Null they are not having their range changed for now, but as Jump Capable ships they will get the timers. JFs and Rorqs will have a 90% reduction to "effective range jumped", for the purpose of calculating the new timers."


For those reading this who have never played EVE Online, there are some VERY large ships in the game that can only travel by making their own jump point. They cannot use the interstellar gates the rest of the ships use to get from star system to star system. This proposal limits how far they can jump in a single jump, and it places an additive cool-down timer to their ability to jump that grows the more jumps you make in a row. Make no mistake, this is a complicated formula, and just because pilots who've been doing it for years make it look easy in no way means it's an easy thing to do. It's also not an easy thing to adjust. But before I start talking about the adjusting, I need to inform you of the problem this is seeking to resolve.

The section of the galaxy EVE Online exists in is small when compared to the rest of the galaxy (see my post New Eden in Perspective for an actual map,) but space is a huge place. However, with the current jump mechanics, it is not unusual for player fleets to cross 100 light years in just a handful of minutes. If I had to come up with an analogy of how that works, think of this: what would it be like if the entire Battle of Jutland was fought in a bath tub? For those unfamiliar with World War I naval history, the Skagerrakschlacht (Germany's name for the battle) was the largest battleship on battleship engagement of the war, or even since the war. Though there were great naval battles in World War II, they were not fought with big steal. The only naval engagement of that war which even comes close is the Battle of Leyte Gulf, and that was still more air than sea power. But I digress. The point is, the 106 light year diameter of New Eden is a very small place when anyone with the appropriate skill can cross it in a matter of minutes. That means every capital ship from every corner of New Eden has the opportunity to participate in any battle anywhere in New Eden. At this stage of evolution in EVE Online, that is just too much. The servers can't handle the load. And to make matters worse, this version of mutually assured destruction has led to the big blue doughnut. No one is willing to fight anywhere because of the threat of total annihilation. Think about it. It's just like the height of the Cold War except it's virtual.

You know I'm right. Furthermore, it was no fun living through the real Cold War, and it's no fun playing in a virtual world suffering from the same military stand-off. I applaud CCP for understanding this and trying to change it, because nothing they do will be greeted with open arms. It changes the status quo and that scares the hell out of people every time. It takes courage to make changes that almost no one involved in the current military stand-off will like.

That does not mean I completely agree with what they are doing. I think the mechanic is fine. It will be fine tuned until it works pretty well without being the huge burden some are saying it will become. That's the way of these sorts of adjustments. It's just math. That said, I think they are making it too personal. By attaching the timers to the character, they are making it personal. It affects only a minority of the EVE Online population, and by definition that makes it discrimination. Yes, it is this population that is causing the overall malaise, but they are only doing so because the mechanic allows it. Now it's like they are getting their pee-pees slapped for doing what primates do - leverage the environment for every ounce of advantage they can get. And yeah, it hurts to get your pee-pee slapped so hard, so I understand the tears. That said, I have to share the best tears retort EVER.

"Because the tears will improve navigation through your stagnant pond of space. I predict enough that just riding the current of QQ will be faster than bridging." - Domanique Altares, Rifterlings, Point Blank Alliance


Hee! But on a more serious note, though this change may fix the stagnant null-sec problem, it also punishes those who do not live in null-sec. The collateral damage from this change is increased costs for Red/Blue/Black Frog logistics. They are not part of the problem but they will suffer from the solution even at a 90% reduction in part of the penalty. Then there are the low-sec only capital pilots, the worm-hole capital pilots and even Chribba. How unique is he going to be now? No, I don't think it's good to put a system in place that is a) discriminatory by definition and b) has a lot of collateral damage. The problem isn't the pilot, so don't bring the hurt down on him.

So let's back up and look at the real issue here. The real nature of the issue is spatial dimension. We have an 8400 square light year area and that seems huge. But to a toddler a 12' by 12' bedroom is huge. To me it's not all that big because my legs are longer. Now you may think that the only two solutions to this is to increase the size of the room (that's in the works) or to hobble the horse so to speak (the proposed solution.) But those are not the only solutions. In the real world those may be the only solution, but in a world where you control the laws of the universe there is another solution. Change the laws of the universe.

[caption id="attachment_3806" align="alignright" width="660"]Spacetime Curvature Spacetime Curvature[/caption]

Stick with me, this is going to get astrophysical. I hope you all at least read one article about the Higgs Boson. The Higgs Boson is responsible for giving mass to matter in our current understanding of the quantum universe. But how does it do that? I mean, as a subatomic particle it's not even the most massive. The Top Quark beats it by almost 50 GeV/c². So how does it convey mass? It's because it is the only particle that interacts directly with the Higgs Field. You know how Einstein envisioned space-time as a multi-dimensional grid where bodies with greater gravity pressed down on the fabric and created a deeper depression in it? Yeah, like the image to the right here. Now, imagine that curvature is the Higgs Field, and rather than a planet in the middle you have a particle of matter. Those particles with more Higgs Bosons in them make a deeper impression. To move them through the Higgs Field requires more energy. It's the difference between maneuvering those battleships during the Battle of Jutland and maneuvering the destroyers. There is a reason the destroyers are faster and more nimble. Just as there is a reason neutrinos ignore a Higgs Field. They have no Higgs Bosons in them.

So how do you allow battleships to be as maneuverable as destroyers? Well, you can add more engines, but that becomes a self-defeating engineering solution as the engines themselves come with mass. You may overcome some of the drag but you are soon displacing more water and thus increasing drag. The other option is you raise the battleship hulls above the water, like on a hydrofoil, and thus reduce the drag holding it back. The drag coefficient is still mostly the same (it depends somewhat on what the hydrofoil is made of,) but there is less surface area experiencing drag.

But in a virtual universe, there is yet another option. Simply decrease the coefficient of drag between steel plates and water. In the context of mass and direct interactions with the Higgs Field, simply change the value of the Higgs Field. EVE Online is, at its very core, a physics modeling system. The reason computer models exists is so we can see what happens when we change variables. So my solution to this issue is to just change the variable most interacted with by a ship's jump engines. And here's the really cool thing about computer models. You don't have to do it everywhere. You can selectively alter the laws of the universe when and where you like.

So if I were to develop a system for restraining the use of jump capable ships, I would look to spacetime for the answer. Relating to what I've experienced myself in EVE Online, I'd make a variable for each system that directly tracks the Cynosural Field value of a system. Each use of an unprotected Cynosural transfer, what we call a jump, damages the Cynosural Field. Jump Gates are really big for a reason. They eliminate the damage done to the Cynosural Field because two of them are linked together and the energy expenditure is transferred between the two rather than allowed to bleed into spacetime and damage the Cynosural  Field. ;-) However, a Cynosural Field Generator, or other such beacon, is no such transfer anchor. The energy that arrives when a ship jumps to the beacon bleeds directly into the spacetime continuum, thus damaging the Cynosural Field. As this damage increases, jumps into that system require more and more energy. Eventually, like a battleship that is just too heavy, no jump capable ship can generate enough energy to traverse the Cynosural Field in that system. After that, only the specially designed Jump Gates will work. And don't get me started on what Titan Bridges do to the Cynosural Field of a system. It's like training a fire hose on a sand pile!

Over time, the Cynosural Field can repair itself. But this could take a month or more. And who knows, if you try to jump too many ships, or leave a Titan Bridge open for too long, it might rupture the Cynosural Field, dispersing the ships to other nearby systems, and damaging the Cynosural Field in the original system so badly it could take YEARS to repair itself. That would effectively eliminate jump travel to that system for the foreseeable future. Now, clever as humans are, I am certain scientists could figure out a way to encourage Cynosural Field regeneration so years become months, months become weeks and weeks become days. But once a rupture happens, no one will be able to jump into the system for at least days. Could that be used as a weapon? Now there's an interesting thought. It's take a lot of planning as no one would be able to determine the exact strength of the Cynosural Field in a given system. It would be risky. But doesn't greater risk bring the promise of greater reward?

If a system by system Cynosural Field value is put in place, it does not single out specific capsuleers by putting timers on them like they've committed some crime. It simply alters the mechanic of getting into a specific system. It stops possible gaming by those who create jump alts specifically for using during large battles (you know it'll happen.) Causal play isn't affected. It doesn't prevent new bros from getting to their new corporations in null-sec. And rather than track the timer status of tens of thousands of capsuleers, CCP computers would only have to track the status of no more than 5500 star systems - depending on implementation - and this number would never change. Node load increases would be negligible under normal situations, calculated per system and spread across predictable nodes in abnormal situations. And space travel would remain relatively unchanged from the way it is today. Changes would not kick in until ships started to jump into a single system (or someone forgets to turn off their Titan Bridge :twisted: .) And if a big battle like B-R5RB were to be attempted, the resulting rupture of the Cynosural Field would spread the combatants randomly over an entire region. Now wouldn't that be interesting?

If you like this concept and have more to add, please lend your voice in the comments below. This is the roughest of drafts and could use the help. Bloggers, fell free to link this post. But to the EVE Online news aggregating sites out there, this post is a creative commons licensed post. You must get my permission before re-posting, and that includes EN24 with whom I've had a previous relationship. There will be no reprints, partial or in full, without my approval. Besides, this may be a shit idea and not implementable for some reason within the EVE Online code base with which I'm not familiar. But after reading what CCP suggests concerning capsuleer jump timers, I find that hard to fathom.

7 comments:

  1. My first immediate concern: if you set the system up to wear out on bridge or cyno in, that seems like it's a perfect setup for the kind of old-school lag tactics that people generally implied were exploitative at best, where whoever jumps in first has an advantage because they got all their people in whereas whoever is second gets hosed when the system falls apart altogether. Also, with sufficient effort, you could effectively cyno-jam a system in a way that cannot be counteracted: just have a titan repeatedly bridge to (or from? You could have two bridging people back and forth between two POS-anchored beacons.) there until your geographically-important system is broken in half. You can assault a cyno jammer at your leisure, even if it takes a lot of assets. You can't assault GSOL jumping ships in and out of a system repeatedly until it can't take cynos anymore unless you catch them in the act.

    I dunno. I think screwing up the geography is more likely than the CCP-proposed alternative to lead to the kind of degenerate "if I stab my hand with a knife enough times I get an advantage over my enemy" gameplay that successful EVE organizations will find a way to do. Also, these timers are probably going to affect basically everyone in sovnull. I live in Catch. Catch is going to get a lot bigger if I can't regularly use jump bridges, and I already think the other end of Catch is farther away than I'd like. Under the current math, taking two jump bridges in a row leaves you with a timer that takes six hours to tick down. The third bridge you take will set a timer giving you a hard lock-out from all bridges for half an hour, and the soft timer after doing so will take a day and a half to tick down. The current "safe" way to get from one end to the other of Catch involves four jump bridges if you're going from 4-07 (1J from Querious) to ERVK. Getting to HED-GP (2J from another Providence entry, which is frequently camped) is only two bridges, admittedly, but to get around that camp requires going the safe way.

    Besides, I think they want it to hit personally. This is a restriction on moving assets, not a restriction on everyone piling into a system if they want to.

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  2. Sorry buddy, too open to exploit. If I was a blue donuter I'd simply degrade the cyno field value of the systems I held.

    The planned implementation has to include low sec because the blue donut peeps would stage there in much the dame way PL uses Ammamake.

    Imho, CCP's implementation is less exploitable & this fact alone may explain all the QQ from the blue donut crowd.

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  3. Sorry buddy, this is just a troll. If you're going to make a statement like "too open to exploit," then you must provide details on why you think so - in detail. Otherwise you're just wasting electrons. Nobody really cares what you think unless you can back it up with valid points. So how about it? Would you like to put more thought into it and make some of those valid points?

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  4. Interesting approach, but I don't think it'll work. Ranamar makes two good points (first ones into a system can lock out pursuers; and people will also find ways to deliberately push the Cyno field in a system close to or beyond the breaking point, through patient experimentation); in addition your idea would do about nothing against the hot-dropping of small sub-cap gangs in random systems by bored super-cap pilots from across the galaxy. Those gangs are usually in a random system, where you can expect the Cyno field to be almost if not completely healthy, and for such purposes you don't need to bring many supers, so the whole hot-drop posse is likely to arrive intact.

    Another thing which just occurred to me: market hubs in 0.0 would be become nearly impossible because the repeated JF jumps would permanently poison the cyno fields.

    No, I think CCPs approach of decreasing the travel speed is the right one, even if the mechanic of 'Jump Fatigue' feels forced to me. In RL, battleships have fallen out of active duty because they are big, lumbering hunks which take ages to get to their destinations, and then easily fall prey to superior numbers of smaller, lighter vessels. Aircraft carriers are big and lumbering as well, but at least they can bring numbers of smaller, lighter vessels with them. But even aircraft carriers are not sent from one end of the globe to the other willy-nilly - the travel takes time, they can be intercepted en-route, and if the carrier is sent over-there, something else has to step in to do the carrier's former job here.

    I think it's appropriate that CCP looks at EVE capitals like RL looks at real capital ships: a strategic force whose deployment should require real need and planning.

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  5. Bad idea. It's too easy to exploit. Sov holders would intentionally make it so nobody can use a cyno in their systems... EVER.

    That'd just make it even easier for the sov holder, especially if their jump bridges are unaffected allowing them to jump into the system while nobody else can.

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  6. […] Eve Online Jump Changes, in which Mabrick suggests tweaking the laws of spacetime in Eve as an alternative solution. […]

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  7. I like the point that the proposed mechanic does not punish the player.

    Put simply its like the mass limit on wormholes in WH space.

    We've gotten used to WH players deliberately overloading their wormholes for system defence, so to have a similar jump mechanic does sound feasible.

    They key thing is it would prevent the blob hot drop and force fleet staging tactics to be more creative. You would have smaller fights through jumps or bigger fights at gates.

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