Observations about Phoebe

So I’ve been away from Eve lately, and this situation looks as though it will continue for a while. This is a bit dismaying, as so many exciting things are happening in the realm of sov that it would be nice to offer my two cents on some things. Unfortunately, though, just as I was getting a grip on some aspects of it I have had to cut out my Eve time for a while. I therefore haven’t written any blog posts about what’s on everybody’s mind lately. However, CCP did recently invite people to a roundtable about the Phoebe jump fatigue and capital jump range changes. Even being away, I had hoped to log in and participate. I didn’t make it, and had to read a few articles about it in order to get my info.

Now the impression I got from reading about things after the fact is that CCP generally thinks that the Phoebe changes are working as intended, but that major issues of overall gameplay weren’t really considered at a macro level, rather gameplay in terms of real time force projection was the sole focus. This dismayed me because this issue has nothing to do with the problems that I have with the Phoebe changes. Overall I am onboard with the direction that CCP has taken the game in and am usually supportive of changes, often in the area of specific details as well as general concept. I recognized the problem that teleporting carrier fleets were causing for Eve and think that the Phoebe changes were an elegant solution, all of which had been suggested by players. I still have problems with Phoebe changes in certain contexts, however. I don’t know why these contexts were not discussed at length at the round table. Perhaps it was attended by Imperium and Pandemic Legion big wigs who forced the issue toward getting their teleporting supercarriers back, I don’t know. But the people I know who hate Phoebe, and the people who I know like me who like Phoebe but still have some serious problems with it are upset about a whole different range of issues than I read about as being discussed at the round table. With this post I would like to frame those problems and offer some potential solutions. Of course the solutions will be presented in an environment of a soup of uncertainty, as looming capital ship changes (which may be as extreme as total redesign) are on the horizon as well as the new structures, which will play into some of my solutions. So this post is not so much about getting my solutions adopted as much as it is in getting more players and the more significant players to recognize the same problems that I see and start chirping solutions to these problems.

So first with some conceptual observations. Ever since Crius and before CCP has been tackling the brilliant observation that there is good complexity and bad complexity. It reared up after Crius with the removal of skill point losses/clone upgrades. It’s a fantastic way to think about fixing Eve. This sentiment will be crucial to analyzing what is wrong with capital ship travel. Before I even write further I am sure the readers can think of things about capital ship travel that everyone would agree is bad complexity. I’ll give an example anyway: are we to believe that 100,000 years into the future the various human races have not figured out a better way to move a capital ship from one safe station to another without buying an alt account, unlocking in a cyno ship, cynoing in your capital ship, and getting popped by a fail PvP wannabe? Yeah, we know that Eve is designed to contain tasks that were meant to be accomplished by multiple players, and that alts online was not a design intention but evolved naturally because a number of these tasks just did not work with the realities of playing an MMO. Capitals were designed to only be owned by large groups of players with people online to help each other out. Of course I have been in many such large groups and have had trouble finding cyan help. And small groups wanted capitals too. And the reality in Eve is that capitals are moved with cyan alts. A certain complexity has developed around moving capital ships that has nothing to do with force projection really, and this complexity is bad complexity.

The other form of bad complexity pertains to the logistics world. Yeah, fleet commanders want content, and originally transportation was meant to be a content provider with CCP envisioning grand escort convoys to defend freighters in nullsec and complete logistics corporations of players that do nothing but provide cony’s to JF pilots and all that. Again, this didn’t happen. Players found ways to do logistics and deny the PvPers content, and these ways were VERY annoying to do. Logistics is a bad complexity bonanza. Much of the community seems intent on destroying it altogether in favor of local production, but as we have seen, New Eden just won’t have it under the current industrial and economic system. For me, I don’t understand the hate. Advanced areas supplying primitive areas is a historical reality of earth and adds something to the game. This whole issue would be best discussed in a post of its own though. And I know CCP hates Jita, and I know how to fix the problem of one universal trade hub, but that will have to come in another post as well. (It’s actually been suggested before.) Suffice it to say, I don’t see the problem of all the bad complexity in logistics being solved with more hate on logistics, at least until major dimensions of the non-combat game are changed radically, which I hope is not done – I like industry and trade in Eve.

So adding to these difficulties, the real big annoyance of Phoebe is, for me, repositioning capitals outside of realtime combat gameplay. This is also the big annoyance of pretty much every player or group I have been around. I am sure PL and the Imps have more to complain about, but overall I think the majority of groups are satisfied with the situation created by Phoebe that caps have a regional range in most realtime combat situations, and with a bit of gate travel or a midpoint can get to an oddly placed constellation or adjacent region with some risk and some tactics. This is overall a good situation as my own GCLUB is learning now with -A- doing some interesting feint maneuvers in Tenerferis to take some heat off Catch. I am sure Chucky and Toucher are annoyed they can’t just teleport around, but warfare involves some frustration and I think they’d admit that there are some cool tactics at play and that their situation is not an indication that Eve is broke. However, when relocating capital ships from Catch to Fountain when I was in Brave, the 15-jump trip that took days and days definitely had everyone crying about how much they hated Phoebe. For me, I just wouldn’t have it. I left my Phoenix in Derelik and built another dread for fountain. When I got booted from brave and joined GCLUB I was thrilled that I still had that Phoenix in Derelik to move to Immensea. Of course when I saw that I was going to have to move it up through Molden health for a 15-jump trip I just sold the damned thing and got a Moros for nullsec. Broke my heart. I had that Phoenix for two years and never got popped. The whole situation about moving capitals for staging and positioning outside of realtime gameplay has now been added to logistics and popped cyan alts as pure annoying bad complexity.

Moving toward possible solutions, I think its important that we recognize the issue of force projection in the context of real time combat gameplay from the annoyances of moving capital ships at all, which is where tons of bad complexity gameplay occurs. Therefore my proposed solutions will actually not involve adjusting Phoebe mechanics in any case except one, that of jump bridges, which is the only aspect of real time combat gameplay that I personally would like to see adjusted, and only a bit, and with the understanding that this whole world can be tailored to taste with the new gate structures coming up. So with this in mind, I’ll list a couple of changes as examples of things that can be implemented, in some cases with reflection of how they may or may not impact real time combat force projection.

Jump Bowhead: this is not hard to imagine. Tech 2. Range and fatigue like a JF. Carriers have been eliminated as methods of moving fitted ships long distances. Now we simply break them down and JF them. Bad complexity and unnecessary annoyance. Allowing the Jump Bowhead would not really accomplish anything that can’t be accomplished now with a JF, but would just avoid expense and annoyance. Impact on realtime combat force projection would be extremely limited.

Higgs Boson Quantum Reconfigurator: A high slot active capital module that be fit only to capital ships and supers other than JFs. The module will have a large volume like other capital modules. Nice and pricey. When activated, range is doubled to 10 LY and jump fatigue range distance is reduced by 90% like a JF or jump fatigue is eliminated altogether. When activated, a 4-hour timer is started. After each jump, the timer is reset to four hours. While the timer is running, the ship cannot activate any module or launch or control drones. Logging off has no effect on the timer.

Cyno Stations and Structures: NPC stations can just be jumped to as if there is a cyan there. Player citadels can be fitted with modules or rigs that allow this capability. Now this one is the trickiest as I am sure there are millions of abuses possible that players and dev will discover. I am only including it as a suggestion because I believe that a radical “buff” needs to be given to the mechanics of jumping caps in order to reduce the whole cyno alt world. Better suggestions are of course welcome, but let’s give credence to the notion that moving caps around should be something that individual players can do with little risk, seeing as individual players are already moving caps around with little risk, just with the stupid and annoying method of using alt accounts.

Jump Bridges: this is my only desired change to realtime combat force projection. Just give them a bit of fatigue range reduction. I think 50% like the cloak ships would be fine. Yeah, this whole world will change with the new structures and is not exactly a priority. But we can see from how black ops fleets work that giving the subcap bridging world a bit of an easement wouldn’t break anything.

So this is my post with which I will end the summer given my absence from Eve for the time being. Yes, Phoebe is working as intended and has had the desired effect of regionalizing capital ship realtime combat force projection and gameplay. However, moving capital ships has always been a bitch, and Phoebe made a lot of aspects of it worse in areas that have nothing to do with combat force projection. I’ve listed some changes above that would help reduce the bad complexity of moving capital ships without significantly impacting combat force projection or even tinkering with existing Phoebe mechanics. Other suggestions like these will do. The most important thing I am trying to get across with this post is that Phoebe is working as intended but screwed up an already unpleasant aspect of Eve, and these screw ups can be redressed without abandoning the way Phoebe works or undoing the good that Phoebe did.