Now I haven’t quite settled on how actively I will be blogging again at this point, but I do have a post or two in mind and wanted to slide in a bit of a comment about Force Auxiliaries. This post is going to be a kind of a knee jerk post, not informed by any sort of information other than what I have garnered as any old player of Eve. I am not involved in the Capital Focus group and other than an occasional eve mail to Steve about this or that industry chart I don’t cavort with any CSM or luminary players. I think, though, that a situation has arisen that might call for just any old someone to suggest something because there just might be some metagaming going on that might need to be nipped in the bud. So I’ll say at the outset that the ONLY information I am going on are the Force Auxiliary skill player feedback thread, the dev blogs about the Force Auxiliaries, and a few reddit posts discussing them, notably the one that just turned up today with pictures of FAX information on SISI. Now that last bit of info contains pictures of FAX that will quite obviously be changed before they hit TQ. However, the notion of drone boat FAX following on the heels of the poor skill implementation has me upset, so I just want to jerk my knee.
The issue that concerns me is the common skill that will apply to the FAX and carriers alike as well as the appearance of some pretty intense drone bays on the FAX in the recently released photos. I am not a fan of either of these developments. Concerning the skills, I’ve posted on the reddit a few times that the common skill for carriers and FAX is a useless cave to player whining. I’ve been something of a CCP fanboy since Seagull moved up and Fozzie stepped forward, and I’ve long made the player base the butt of many jokes. However, reading the reactions that I have read from the players, quite a bit of the negative reaction has been pretty reasonable. Yes, the original implementation of forcing players to choose which skill they will have in the future to be able to fly one of the two ships that will cover down on what is accomplished by one ship now would actually be the first time a player would have been expected to train in order to be able to do in the future what he can already do now. In this case, up to a couple of months of training. Capital pilots, though, are generally veteran players for whom a couple of months would not really be the end of the world, and I wasn’t going to put up any complaints. However, you add to this that players would be forced to inject a 500 million ISK skill book. Yet again, capital pilots usually have tons and tons of ISK. So again I’d have just bit the bullet and bought the book without complaining. But then you add to this all the cap toons that are babysitting space coffins. So in addition to the strictly metrical annoyance of paying time for a skill and paying ISK for a skill book, many players will have to endure the less tangible annoyance of having to do something with their supers while they fly their mains and sitters around getting skills books. And yes, super pilots have multiple toons to take care of their ships, and getting the skills injected is certainly doable, just annoying. But finally, there was the method used of some really complicated system where if you have such and such a skill injected and have such and such a ship or something then so and so skill points would be refunded for such and such. I’m sure I’m not accurate with the exact system, but here I am just illustrating that is was complicated and won’t be able to be taken advantage of by players currently on break from the game. Overall, my impression of the original implementation of the FAX skill issue was that it was indeed doable, and yeah, players will whine about anything they can, but frankly, it seemed to me to be a pretty bad implementation. Like if that had actually happened, I would not have rage quit or unsubbed like many threatened too, but I did think to myself, “there has just got to be a better way. This just isn’t the quality implementation that I’ve seen from CCP over the last couple of years.”
So then I see the proposed way currently. Carriers and FAX will use the same skill. I completely hated this idea. Historically, when there’s a rebalance, CCP does a pretty good job of designing things to look like they had always been that way. I can’t think of many features of the game, at least concerning skills and ships and all, where something looks like it is the way it is because of the way things used to be. Ideally, if Eve has carriers and FAX, the game should look like it has always had carriers and FAX. Carriers and FAX really have nothing in common that I can see. Yes, we are going to have these support fighters, but my assumption is that they will be added to squadrons to improve defensive capabilities of squadrons. I did not envision these things being used on FAX or anything. I still assume that’s the case. But then I see these FAX photos from SISI with these things having enormous drone bandwidth. Now obviously the numbers shown are preliminary and will be changed, and this gives me hope that it’s not too late to change these drone bays. AFK carrier ratting needs to go away, not be rebranded AFK FAX ratting. Returning to dev blogs for a second, the wording was that the carrier skill would be renamed at a later date, as if finding some sort of sensible common ground between carriers and FAX was just impossible at the time of writing. Carriers seem as though they are going to be anti-subcap ships in common with the dreadnoughts using the high-angle guns. I do not know if the support fighters will be loaded into logi squadrons to provide carriers with remote rep capability similar to what FAX do. Again, I assume they won’t. Even if they are, though, carriers won’t have more in common with FAX than they do with dreads. Giving FAX and carriers a common skill just doesn’t make sense thematically, and would make the game look like its current form is merely the result of a past form, unless the FAX are given drone capabilities in order to resemble carriers in some way.
So I have to ask myself, are there voices in the community that are trying to manipulate CCP into making FAX some kind of a drone boat, using the skill implementation problem as a pretext to keep AFK carrier ratting alive via AFK FAX ratting? The FAX themselves were created to address a balance problem. Yet if you look at the history of Eve, specifically the shieldtar, the foxcat, the potato, and the Tristan, all you need to do in order to create a balance problem in Eve is say, “drones.” The intended goal of the FAX is to isolate triage and capital sized remote reps to a platform that limits capital remote reps to triage and provides only triage. So why these drone bays? CCPLEASE do not make FAX drone ships. And please do not make them drone ships just so you can justify fly flying them with carrier skills.
So again, the second method of implementing the FAX skills, of having them just use the same skill as carriers, is certainly doable, but can’t there be a better way? Now this is the part where I inject a suggestion completely devoid of any internal discussion or inside knowledge. Back in 2013, I think the Odyssey expansion, but I’m not going to look it up, CCP turned the Destroyers skill into Amarr Destroyers, Caldari Destroyers, Gallente Destroyers, and Minmatar Destroyers, and they did the same thing with battlecruisers. Everyone who had a racial frigate or cruiser at 3 got that race’s Destroyers and Battlecruisers skill at whatever level he had Destroyers and Battlecruisers at. I have not seen it suggested that anyone with the Carriers skill who has Tactical Logistics Reconfiguration also be given the FAX skill at whatever level they have the Carrier skill at. It is absolutely inconceivable to me that someone at CCP or the capital focus group did not suggest this, and I am certain that it was shot down for some reason. This suggestion would solve the problem of buying extra skill books. It would keep the philosophy that if you could fly it before, you can fly it now. This option would be more advantageous to players than CCP’s first attempt with letting players choose which skill they have. I doubt that CCP would have been hostile to this decision. The only thing that I can think of is that CCP or someone suggested it and it was shot down by someone on the player side. I did notice that CCP is adding some Citadel defense skills but that they were sure to add that these skills would be very low rank because they are afraid of mass player riots if the players can’t gun citadels with 2-week old toons (as if gunning a Citadel is something that a newbro will be doing).
So in the event that this tried and true and successful way of addressing the implementation is not good enough for people, it would to me represent CCP caving to the players not being willing to make even the slightest adjustment at all. I have many friends who don’t have all their frigate skills or cruiser skills to 5 but they have all destroyer and BC skills at 5 because they trained them all up before the patch. Everyone was happy to get free skill points. The world turned. There were no riots. This would mean that there are players would would be angry because they only have carrier at 4 and don’t want to bother training to 5 before the patch and get free skill points. Or they haven’t bothered to get all racial carriers to 5 and they won’t have time to get them all to 5 before the patch. This sort of demand on the game by said players sounds to me unreasonable. To me these most elite players, who insist on a short route to getting all racial carriers and FAX at 5 even though they are the most veteran players in the game, are truly making an unreasonable demand. And I wouldn’t be surprised if it were some sort of ploy to get the FAX made into drone boats so they can still AFK rat like they currently do.
So I would like to stand up and say that the best way to implement the FAX skill wise is to keep two skills, one for each racial carrier and one for each racial FAX, and give current carrier pilots the FAX skill for each race at the same level that they have the carrier skill for this race. Hell, don’t even require them to be able to triage to do it, if it will make people happy. And PLEASE don’t put drones, of any sort, on FAX. Nothing good will come of it.