Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Bob Barker's Revenge

The white Krikkit warship was parked among the stark gray crags of the asteroid, alternately flaring under arc lights or disappearing in shadow. The black shadows cast by the hard rocks danced together in wild choreography as the arc lights swept around them.
--Douglas Adams

Ripard Teg recently put up a post on Jester's Trek called The price is right discussing the recent increase of the price of ships in EVE.  If you haven't read that yet, go do so now.  Not only is it a good read, but the rest of this post isn't likely to make much sense without that context.  What the rest of this post is likely to do is respond to a question he posed there and include some arm-chair game designing on my part.

For those of you who can't be bothered to read his post in full, it ends with a question of how much a Drake should cost.  50m?  100m?  Some other amount?  I'm going to have to go with the 'some other amount' option on this one and answer that I think ship prices in general should cost much less than they do now.  Or rather, much less than they did before the rampant price increases started.  However, this decrease should be balanced by a drastic increase in module prices.  Allow me to explain.

The intended outcome of this change would be that with Hull prices reduced, but Modules prices increased to the point that total cost of a fully fit ship remained roughly the same, PvP for profit would become a more fiscally viable option.  The idea being that losing a ship in combat would still cost the same, but that destroying another ship in combat has the potential to gain much more than it does now in profit.  To anyone who regularly PvPs, this keeps you doing it much longer as every negative balance entry from the loss of a ship is more heavily offset by each positive entry from selling the loot dropped by the destruction of someone else's ship.  This could be accomplished over time by shifting the balance of mineral requirements from ship hulls to modules, but it doesn't really address the cause behind the current rise in mineral prices.

Jester (Or Ripard Teg, or whatever I should be calling about wearing too many hats) rightly attributes the rising prices to mineral scarcity set off by announced upcoming changes to EVE and recent actions taken by CCP against botting.  The natural answer to this scarcity is that, as mineral prices rise, more people will take up mining and eventually it will reach a new equilibrium.  The problem with that new equilibrium is that it may be found at a point that simply prices many players out of the equation.  I certainly won't be flying Battlecruisers if they cost 100m ISK and, as my stock of Assault Frigates begins to dwindle, buying more of them at 40m apiece is getting hard to justify too.

In order to see a drastic increase in supply, what we need are mining fleets.  The problem with a mining fleet is that it's basically a giant space pinata for any ships with guns attached to them.  Jester already goes over a number of a reasons that this doesn't work in EVE today, and I'm not going to just rehash that all here.  What I am going to take a look at is the proposed solution to build a better mining ship; something tankier or with the armaments to defend itself.

As someone who has destroyed or ransomed a number of Mining Barges myself, often in Frigates, I think this is a poor answer to the problem.  I think a mining ship should be relatively easy to kill if caught.  Ah yes, "if caught," noticed that bit didn't you?  My solution to the problem of the ease at which mining ships can be caught and killed is to introduce a new module; The Spaceship Parking Brake. (Clearly a terrible name, I leave any discussion of naming conventions or how this works in EVE's lore to those more qualified than myself.)

The premise behind the SPB is that it would be a midslot propulsion module that once activated reduces your ship's maximum velocity to at or below 1m/s.  To those wondering why anyone would want to do that to their ship, the simple answer lies in how ships aligning to warp work.  A ship equipped with a SPB would be able to remain aligned to a celestial to allow for an immediate warp out upon hostiles arriving without actually moving.  This gives mining ships the ability to mine while aligned without getting out of range of asteroids, cans, other ships, etc.  Anyone who is actively piloting their ship would be able to escape enemy ships in Null or Lowsec easily, while the slow and inattentive remain behind to die.  That's all I've ever asked really, that those practicing mining with poor player skills die, while those who are doing so intelligently are allowed to remain alive to continue mining.  

"But I'll still have to warp away anytime enemies show up."  Well, yes exactly.  Which is precisely what any mission/anom/plex runner has to do when an enemy fleet shows up where they are.  The difference being that a PvE fit ship in a mission can potentially be aligned and continue with their mission anytime hostiles are present in local, while a mining barge does not have that luxury.  This gives them the ability to be on equal ground with other PvE activities in EVE; not safe, but not suicidal.



Edit: Go check out @Gamerchick42 for some great additional insight into "EVE Market Crash 2012".


  1. You want to have mining fleets. You wrote "fleets" alright, just like Jester.

    So why introduce a mechanic on individual ship module basis ?! Make a FLEET mechanic. Or an ANCHORABLE which is helpful for a fleet of mining ships.

    You start out right : mining fleets. And then every one I read blogging about it goes back solving a /fleet/ question with /individual/ ship modules.

    I do not want to sound harsh. Just give me suggestions on a fleet level. Please. :)

    1. Well, that was a bit pedantic, don't you think?

      Perhaps you are simply unclear on the way fleets function in EVE. A PvP fleet commander doesn't get an option to jump his fleet, or lock targets for them, or activate their modules, these are all things required on an individual ship basis. If you want an entire fleet of mining ships to have the capability to insta-warp, then you must outfit the entire fleet with a module and the individual members of the fleet have to activate that module. Nothing really revolutionary there.

    2. I appreciate you took the time to respond. Let me elaborate:

      I led mining OPs - Barges, Orca, haulers, escort. But I'm not a min-maxer. We did mining excursions into low - not because it was profitable, but because it was fun.

      But I understand the need for mining OPs to match, let's say Incursions on an isk/h basis. I'm adding to that what I think is Jesters central position : Barges are too thin.

      Now, while I do not know how the perfect solution looks like, my "taste" is that giving Barges more HP on a ship basis is just too simple, too basic. This solution does not take into account well that you want to
      a) increase isk/h ( by either reducing risk or increasing turn out )
      b) do so for a fleet

      Why I do not like "buff this nerf that" on a ship basis is that it is not following the rock-paper-scissors triade IMHO. It is an equation of one Barge and its predator. Of course, you can extend that to having many on either side, but the basics is one-on-one.

      Why not Barge-Fleet-Predator ?

      What can be done on fleet level that reduces the risk for the Barges ? Or what can be done that is only logistically feasible on fleet level ? To give this balancing task three elements.

  2. No, I think making them tankier IS necessary.

    I find it absolutely ridiculous that something cruiser-BC sized has the EHP of a T2 frigate. And that's IF you fit it for a tank!
    Immodest proposal: barges, exhumers, indys, and transports, all fly as if they have 10 lowslots filled with reinforced bulkheads as it is. So give them a metric FUCK-TON of structure HP accordingly. As they're not "combat" vessels, they shouldn't have much shield or armor HP, but something that big and slow should probably have a healthy structure it's built upon.
    Now you have an option: fit for "MAX YIELD" and be slightly less squishy than you are now, or spend a lowslot and 30CPU to fit a DCII, and get at least high cruiser/low battlecruiser EHP (or mid-high cruiser EHP for indys).

    Also, there IS a way to (sorta) do what you're talking about already...well provided that everyone fleeted is in the same corp, that is. Ya get at least 1 mid, even on a Procurer or Retty, use it for a web. Long as there's an even number of ships in the op, ship 1 webs ship 2, ship 2 webs ship 1. Ship 3 and 4 join, and web each other.
    If you're dealing with exhumers, even easier as they can mount a couple webs each. ;-)

    It's not perfect, and actually requires a minimum of mental effort (which, I know, mining is not supposed to require that at all ohnoez)... but it would work better than nothing. ;-)

    1. I disagree that EHP is the answer, but appreciate that mine is not the only opinion out there. The real problem I see is that of scale; in order to give any mining ship a meaningful amount of EHP (an amount that allows them to call for backup and be saved by another ship) it needs a truly massive increase. Giving them BC EHP, say 50k or so, means a 10 man BC gang kills it in 10 seconds. That doesn't change anything at all really.

      And your web solution has a couple of fatal flaws in it. First, a single web reducing a miner's speed to ~40m/s means that by the end of their second cycle you're out of range of your Mining Laser. Not to mention the transfer distance of another ship to transfer minerals into. The second problem is that as soon as ship 1 warps away its webifier effect ends and ship 2's top speed more than doubles, leaving it as a sitting duck. So you'd get to save half your fleet, and the other half would just get left to die; not exactly an ideal solution.

    2. Admittedly, I don't know about your in-game identity. I fly with -A-. There's a reason nullsec fleet doctrines are focusing on Nados and Oracles right now: 10 Tornados can alpha a LOT of things off the field, including other BCs such as the standard whelpCane.
      Just arguing that "well 10 of x could alpha this, so the problem's not solved," is kinda weak, honestly. You can keep going and going: 10 gankfit Titans can alpha ANYTHING off the field, possibly even another that STILL doesn't solve the problem.

      My argument is twofold: 1) that "story" reasoning these things are cruiser+ sized at LEAST, and while not combat vessels, they should have a healthier bit of tank (especially if fitted for tank!) than a frigate! Even if it's just in structure, having that bit of survivability vs a couple dudes in 2) 5 Catalysts/Arty Thrashers should not be able to alpha a big ugly fat fucker like barges or indies off the field, PROVIDED the ship is actually fit for tank.
      Sure, if you want to go invest 90M per hull in 10 t3 BCs plus large guns for them, by all means, go right ahead. If you want to throw away a billion ISK to kill a single Hulk worth less than half of that, have fun. ;-) (for the record even with my "tankier" idea it should probably only take 5 high-damage Nados to kill it very quickly)

      The point is that currently the ships (particularly indys and T1 barges) are SO squishy that any random dude solo has a very good chance of killing one in a ship worth what? 1-2M ISK?
      You can kill anything with a proper fleet composition and numbers. That's not my point.

      Also, I'm aware of the web thing, just saying it's a semi-sorta half-ass "current" work-around that does pretty much the same thing.'s a BARGE, man. You were a Marine. How well does a deuce and a half handle on the road vs a Hummer? Hummer vs a Miata? Bigger, slower, bulkier shit handles worse than sports cars, but sports cars can't haul a ton of stuff or people, and likewise would probably end up as a smear on the grill of a deuce n a half.

      Doesn't really matter anyways, pretty soon hisec will be totally safe, either consentual PvP only, or just no PvP period. Then a barge can have 1 shield, armor, and hull HP each, and take an hour to align and warp out, won't make a difference.

  3. Very interesting issue, however I think you are missing the point, which is that the sandbox(tm) has consequences. Ganking miners drives up the prices of things.

    The problem is one of our own making, if you gank mining ships you contribute to higher prices :-p

    This is only going to get worse now that even more modules will come solely from player industrialists.

    And I am not a miner by the way, just a realist. No matter what module or tactic you come up with, the Miners are going to be multiboxing, or playing with half attention (since mining is boring) and the gankers will be on full alert and will come up with a brilliant counter for anything devised. The advantage will always be with the attackers.

    1. The irony of your statement is that the current situation has nothing to do with the actions of the sandbox. What we're seeing is the hand of god reaching in and making changes to the game, sparking rampant market speculation. A completely laissez-faire approach to the EVE market does not exist, and never has.

      We're not looking at something where player action has caused this outcome. The way I see the current price spikes are "CCP has caused this, CCP needs to fix this." Otherwise we may well be looking at a very unhealthy market future, risking the future of EVE itself.

    2. Actually it is the actions of the sandbox. These are changes that should've happened a long time ago, which CCP are finally getting around to.

      The current spikes/increases are purely player-driven based on speculation, as yet CCP has changed noting in the game - therefore nothing in the current price changes is really down to something CCP has done.

      When the market finally settles - it'll be exactly at the point where it would've been had there never been mineral supply through Rogue Drone goo and reprocessing T1M0 loot.

  4. Perhaps this has been mentioned in other locations (too busy to look, sorry if so), but what about a new module that would generate something akin to a POS shield, or maybe deployable like a bubble. Make it so that it can be only equipped to an Orca by giving it high reqs and then a new ship bonus to the Orca so it, and only it, can use it. The shield that is generated could stand up to incoming damage for a limited time (enough for non-afk people to take notice of attackers, align, and warp out), but still be destroyed if a large enough group was attacking in short order. This would only be viable in a fleet mining op, solo miners would still run the risk of a suicide gank. CCP would have to build in such mechanics for the module that it cannot be used in non-mining circumstances (such as some protection during PVP activities), can only lock asteroids for example. Let the criticisms about this idea begin.

    1. This is more along the lines I have been thinking about strengthening mining fleets. Add an new element to the equation of the ever-going EHP battle one individual ships.

      The "protective bubble" could also be a kind of siege mode of Orcas and Rorqals, if not a deployable.

      I agree that mining ships are very weak. I just do not want to stay on that road of calling for ship buffs. Instead, invent a buff that a group can apply -- but that may not be economic to use for one individual.

  5. I also think the mining ships + orca should have better tanks. The mining barges are like BC, the hulk like a BS, the orca a capital ship, yet none of them matches the combat ships and they have only 2 things going on, cargo space and defense.

    Have you read the description of the hulk ? "They are also far more resilient, better able to handle the dangers of deep space"
    Yeah right, and don't tell me the hulk can tank 3 BS NPC cause I don't care, it's a PVP game and what matters is how many real players it can tank...

    For your module idea, i'd prefer a high slot module that decreases the signature radius big time, of course all mining ships would get an extra high slot to fit this new module. If the miner is aware of its surrounding, he activates it and locking time *could* save his life. This module would only work on industrial ships and maybe a 5-10 min cooldown is in order.

  6. I think your Parking Brake, or Inertial Stasis Modifier, is an interesting idea. I also think it is fleet friendly as current Fleet mechanics already allow the Squad, Wing, or Fleet Commanders to warp groups of ships. I agree that the Sandbox has consequences. I also believe vigilance should have it's rewards.