January 9, 2013

Rebalancing leaving you ship hurt?

So you may have heard about the new battlecruiser rebalancing that has been proposed.  There are posts about it on Eve Altruist, Jester’s Trek, Noisy Gamer, and probably lots more.  There is a massive threadnaught on the Eve Online forums of course.

TL;DR version of my opinion: Too many people think of their ship like a WOW character class, when in reality they can easily cross-train (and in the cases of most bittervets, already have).  As a result the tears and whines are really overstated.  If people free themselves from the “I am my ship” self-image they may well find even more to love about the game.

Since when I’m PVE-ing I am currently a Gallente Battlecruiser pilot my first reaction is “Woo Brutix low slot!”  I hear Jester’s point that making all of the ships have an equal number of slots seems a bit arbitrary - though it does seem like a pretty good starting point.  I could how people might consider a massive drone bay to be as good as another slot.  And does it make sense that ships that fire cap-less weapons have as much capacitor as those which are capacitor thirsty?  But how do you balance something as complicated as a Eve warship, anyway?  (This post is getting long enough that I think that will have to be a separate post)

We’re probably all used to the metaphor that ships are like character classes in other MMOs.  In your typical fantasy MMO designers balance off five or six character classes, with the additional twist of a handful of races.  Let’s call the modules similar to powers: are you going to punch the button that fires the 425mm Railgun or the Divine Fireball?  You can’t compare levels to ship classes, as you won’t ever see a level 2 fighter doing anything worth mentioning to impede a level 20 fighter: they might as well be in different worlds.  But a fast tackler frigate may be exactly what brings down a battleship in Eve.  So what CCP Fozzie and team is facing is pretty monumental compared to what his peers in WoW or GW2 have to look at.  On the other side is that players can pretty smoothly move from ship to ship if they get nerfed, unlike in your typical MMO where your character is fundamentally and irretrievably their class.

I think this attitude is carrying over to Eve players, as much as they want to think of themselves as very different from WOW players.  Too many think of their characters as being “the PVP Hurricane pilot” or the “the Nyx pilot.”  They lock themselves into a class like they were in WOW, even when so many have multiple races and weapon systems trained to V.

If anything, I ought to be ones of the most concerned about changes.  I’m a new pilot only trained on Gallente ships, hybrid guns, and drones.  If the new Meta shifted strongly away from Gallente then I’d have a training slog to get there.  But I’m not even a year old year and I’m already heading in that direction anyway.  CCP Fozzie is clearly communicating his ideas now for something that we probably won’t see until late Summer.  By that time even I could pick another faction - as an example let's just hypothetically say that the new Meta was going to make Gallente suck and Minmatar rule (again).  Looking at NeoCom I see that I’m only 18 days away from having the skills to fit and use 720mm Autocannon IIs plus another 19 days to get up to Minmatar Cruiser V.  I have minimal shield skills now (as I discussed in my 2013 plan) but that’s only another 17 days.  So I could do that multiple times over between now and Summer if I was really worried about rebalancing.  It does assume that you’ve already done the faction skill prep that CCP has warned already about - which everyone paying attention has already done, right?

I get that the skill queues are worse as you go up - I’ve got a long slog in front of me for Battleship level skills which I’ll probably put off in favor of more flexibility.  If you have a character you spun up to fly a Titan of one faction then if that Titan was nerfed compared to others then it might be truly painful.  But I also don't have as much sympathy for the people who have so much ISK and longevity in game that they're using PLEX to keep four concurrent accounts maxed to twelve pilots that specialize in all sorts of arcane things.  You built yourself into that corner.

I don’t buy any argument for financial strain either. I've heard newbs get advice that they aren't serious players until they have a billion ISK in cash, but here we have people complaining that their favorite 50M ISK hull might need swapping.  I can understand that when Hurricane and Drake were clearly overpowered compared to other BCs many people did nothing but those two, but you can afford to try something new if it means that now we'll have eight worthwhile BCs.  The success of Retribution's frigates and cruiser rebalancing prove this is the right move for Eve.


  1. I see your point but I disagree with you a bit.

    I think that when you do have more options you will find that you tend to favor certain things for certain reasons. A lot of the change is muting the individual flavors of the ships. Eve is a lot about specialization and spends much of its time punishing people for spreading out in to broad a manner.

    Many ships were useless and that was a problem. However, this focus towards everything being the same flavor in a different hull shape/color is not particularly appealing.

    To many niches are bad. To many unused ships are bad. The overuse to only one or two types of ship is also bad. It is indeed a huge task that they are undertaking and we will deal with the results.

    But it is a more then "I am a hurricane". Many, many play styles are being restricted. With the changes, If I want to fly a Minmatar battlecruiser my choices will now be, missiles, medium projectiles, or large projectiles. The hurricane was popular because it was flexibility and that flexibility is being cut out of it, leaving it kinda flat and simple.

    Missiles are a complete platform that you have to train for as is gunnery. We all know how long gunnery specializations take but now if you have focused on projectiles, surprise you spend how long learning to fly a cyclone properly?

    T2 large guns are not exactly a short train.

    It is what it is. People will adjust and adapt. We're Eve players it is what we do. Still, there are many unpleasant aspects to what is happening.

    Also remember that 50 mil ISK hull may only be 50mil ISK but it has that again in fittings. My last Hurricane loss is estimated at 89mil. I tend to have 3-6 fully fit versions of whatever I fly due to PvP. Setting up new ships easily rolls into the billions, add in various ammo types, drones, all the different damage mods and the ISK starts to add up rather quickly. I'm not pleading finical strain but I am pointing out that the ISK often burns faster then it is made.

    1. Oh, I'm very familiar on T2 large gun training, I'm in the midst of that direction now (though I currently plan to leave it at IV and focus on smaller ships outside of L4ing for ISK).

      On the cost of the BC - I agree that the hull&rigs is only a portion, but the modules, drones and ammo can move to other ships or be sold.

      But to the center of your post - is it the flexibility of the Hurricane that people are really missing? I could get that, but I think game balance wise that if you have a ship that is flexible then the tradeoff for that would be that it would not perform as well as a specialist, right?

      Thanks for your post, I'm a fan of your blog.

    2. The hurricane did give things up for flexibility but the flexibility is what made it worth giving things up for. With the grid nerfs the flexibility has been greatly reduced and it is becoming a different type of ship.

      One of its great powers was that it was a shield ship or an armor ship. It was not the best at either of these tasks. The nerf bat of Retribution made it a much harder armor ship to fit and changed the way it was fit for shields. This new bat will knock out most fitting options and change the ship. With the Cyclone becoming a missile boat the hurricane is the only battlecruiser option that is not a tier3.

      Before the changes that would not have been as bad because it could be flown like two separate ships depending on the choices one wanted to make. Now that ability is being further reduced. Yes it brings other ships into the light to be used but should that be done by removing a ships usability? Instead of being able to do these normal tasks in a Minmatar ship I *have* to go to Gallente or Amarr or just accept that I am outclassed as Minmatar unless I invest myself here as well and if I do that I might as well go to another race. Its just frustrating and its a side effect of the usage of the ship. But flavor of the month is flavor of the month and we are already seeing that.

      Tier3's are a specialized platform already.

      Ammo can not be moved between weapon classes :P That whole argument is that it builds up and it builds up fast. I've been reading your blog but I am not sure how far you are in and out of high sec to low/null/wormholes. The value/usage of a ship changes. Even accessing ships can be very hard and you wind up with them scattered everywhere because moving ships can suck when space is busy.

      Its not a win win situation anyway when things are being rebalanced and repurposed. People will be unhappy. I will be unhappy. New ways of playing and new options will be learned. I'm just attempting to point out that (to me) the negative reactions are not as shallow as they may first appear.

    3. Thanks, I think I understand a lot better now. You've convinced me there is a role (rather than a class) being lost from the flexibility of the Hurricane being eliminated. I hope that can come through in the rebalancing discussions.

      As for me, I'm mostly in highsec now. I need more skills until I can get into the WH corps I've looked at. So I do some missioning (and industrial via an alt) and then take a break to run off an PVP and blow all of the ISK I just earned. Now that FrigFest is over I'm back to having no ISK while I figure out how to get started on L4s without being blown out of space.