Thursday, April 28, 2016

A Review of the Supercapital Changes

Pictured above: The stately Nyx, arguably EVE's most visually impressive ship. Countless players have been drawn in by their lure, only to discover how boring supercaps are.

Although supercaps are forbidden in my domain, I have a long history of analyzing and commenting upon titan and supercarrier mechanics. All the way back in May 2008, I became the first EVE player to suggest/prophecy that the titan doomsday weapon should be a supergun rather than an area of effect weapon. In July 2013, I wrote an article for TheMittani.com in which I made four proposals for changes to supercaps. TMC authors get to view a hit counter for everything published on the site each month; the article was by far the most popular. Its ideas were debated far and wide. There were a lot of comments in the vein of, "I hate James 315 and everything he stands for, and everything he says and does, but sort of agree with him on this."

As I explained in the article, the overall purpose of the four changes was to bring supercaps back into the mix with their fellow combat ships, rather than having them largely disengaged or aloof from normal fleet battles. Following the example of tier-3 battlecruisers, my idea was to make them glass cannons: capable of devastating firepower, but vulnerable enough to sub-capital ships to complete the rock-paper-scissors loop.

My four proposals were:
  • Make them killable by drastically slashing their EHP.
  • Make them disruptable by removing their ewar immunity.
  • Make them losable by reducing build cost, accommodating the nerfs.
  • Make them dockable.

With the Citadel expansion, CCP has unveiled its long-awaited supercap rebalance. I know what you're thinking, reader. Did CCP Fozzie use my article as a guide when redesigning the supercaps? Did he print out a copy and carry it around with him each day, and keep it on his bedside table as he slept each night? I can't say for certain, but the answer to both questions is probably yes.

Though on the surface it may appear that CCP implemented my vision, there are a number of differences that I'd like to touch upon.

Make them dockable. Let's get this one out of the way first. Supercarriers and titans can now dock at Citadels, freeing their pilots from the shackles of supercap warfare. I'd still prefer that supercaps could dock at regular stations also, giving players additional reasons to fight over them.

Make them killable. Supercaps got their EHP drastically cut, putting them somewhere around capital EHP, per my suggestion. The drop in EHP is somewhat mitigated by the introduction of new capital modules. However, CCP also took the step of increasing supercap killability by limiting their ability to benefit from remote reps (to avoid infinite spider-tanking).

Make them disruptable. Ewar immunity has been removed. Rather than having special ships or modules in the mold of the hictor, supercaps have a lot of warp strength and resistance to ECM, etc. The key here will be tinkering with the specific strength/resistance to achieve the right balance.

Make them losable. My idea was to match the supercap nerfs with a lowering of the build cost in order to encourage players to risk them: If players weren't willing to put supercap fleets in risky situations before they were killable, surely they'd be even more cautious afterward. My proposal was the subject of intense debate within CCP and its supercap focus group. (Assuming the CSM is still allowed to talk about EVE with CCP, they probably discussed it, too.) However, CCP ultimately decided against this part of my plan because they want big killmails.

This still left the question of how to encourage players to risk their more-vulnerable supercaps. Stepping outside of my outline, CCP's alternative was to give supercaps more kinds of weapons to use against sub-capital ships. Their logic was that if supercaps are really cool and useful against all types of ships, people will want to use them more.

There are two flaws in this argument. First, making supercaps effective against sub-caps goes against the rock-paper-scissors dynamic. (In effect, supercaps become the best weapon against sub-caps, caps, and other supercaps.) Secondly, it doesn't make sense for players to risk the loss of their supercaps in order to attack sub-caps, because they already have caps and other sub-caps for that job.

Again, the goal is not merely to get players to use supercaps, but to risk them. Pandemic Legion has always been happy to drop a pile of supercaps on a random, lonely Nyx, because there's no risk of loss. If supercaps are properly balanced, players will actually throw fleets into battle against each other, just as they do with sub-caps and caps. Despite the thousands of supercaps in the game, genuine supercap fleet battles almost never occur, because the cost of supercaps makes them so risky.

The future use of supercaps will depend on how the remote-rep nerf shakes out. If an inferior force can charge suicidally into battle and kill an enemy titan or two--perhaps winning the isk war in the process--then maybe FCs will decide not to field them in battle at all. If supercaps largely remain safe within an apex force of the biggest coalition of supercaps in EVE, then maybe the apex force bounces around killing all kinds of targets at will, while everyone else's supercaps remain docked or logged out. Both are bad outcomes.

Pictured above: Some dumb mining ship. No one in his right mind joins EVE to fly one of these things, yet by the end of the year they'll probably be buffed again.

Although I respect and appreciate CCP's efforts to improve the game, there's still room for some real talk here. It took them nearly three years to do this stuff after my article was written. Wouldn't it have been easier and more rewarding for all involved if they simply handed me total control of game design decisions? We'd have a better version of the current system, and we'd have had it three years ago.

Not trying to be pushy, only helpful.

21 comments:

  1. "Pictured above: Some dumb mining ship. No one in his right mind joins EVE to fly one of these things, yet by the end of the year they'll probably be buffed again."

    James knows we come fo the satire. Once again he delivers.

    I also think supercaps still need some tweaking. Close CCP, but no cigar. If CCP would lift the silly hisec restrictions i would gladly suicide one on a hisec carebear.

    Also:

    Hisec carebears
    Get a permit
    Or get rekt

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "Get a permit"

      yea...no thanks

      Delete
    2. No 100% compliance, CODE. fails again!!


      -Galaxy pig

      Delete
  2. Not pushy at all, Supreme Protector.

    CCP's wheels turn very slowly, I've noticed. Unlike The New Order, they haven't the confidence born of being right, displayed in today's blog.

    We shall eventually see some form of capital-sized non-industrial/hauler ship in Highsec, I feel sure of it. And yes, it looks as if CCP is ready to land another barge-buff on us.

    Heigh-Ho, and a-ganking we shall go!

    ReplyDelete
  3. lol he still logs in to fail.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Our Supreme Protector keepin' it real, with some Real Talk!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I LOVE IT when the Savior says "I TOLD YOU SO"!

    BRAVO SAVIOUR

    ReplyDelete
  6. Supreme Protector,

    Small amounts of capitals can now wipe out entire subcapital fleets. The balance is that bad.

    The only saving grace is that without apex force warfare, there are hardly any situations where subcapitals will be forced to engaged supercaps.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sub-caps are still viable, just bring ewar.

      Delete
    2. Big G, hope you're doing well! =) o7

      Delete
    3. There..... No more of that crap. Alana, I'm doing fine.

      Delete
    4. I see, I was too slow to reserve my name from Google, so at least 3 other shitposter took advantage of that. I did know the risks, but did not care. Go ahead and have you cheap fun, there is nothing you can do really. I only said "hey Alana" once, and that was not in this post. But like this fake Big G said earlier, I'm fine EVEn with there copycats around.

      Delete
  7. Antiganking is still failing hard

    ReplyDelete
  8. This is a story my grandchildren want to hear!!

    ReplyDelete
  9. James 315 once again shows his readers that he is not only a very good writer, but that he also has a good understanding of the game. One of the reasons why I read this blog all the time.

    To be more on topic, I believe that the reason CCP is keeping the cost of the supers are because they want more ISK-sinks, and they are too lazy to come up with something new.

    And finally I want to reveal my new theory, wich is that James 315 is in a metalcore band and is using EvE Online as a platform to gain more fans by using subliminal messages. Proof can be found here:
    http://shop.season-of-mist.com/catalogsearch/result/?q=terror+code

    ReplyDelete
  10. The caption to the second picture caused Pepsi Max to explode onto my screen and keyboard. Just for good measure the final paragraph did the same.

    My employer would like to know if the supreme protector has some kind of SRP-like scheme for his blog readers IT systems?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Another explosion, had to change my pants too. Should have gotten home early. What a shitty day... literally.

      Delete
    2. Hello fake Roche Pso, you need to work a bit harder on your humour, but feel free to try again, i'll check back here later

      Delete

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