Header art by Major Sniper
In a recent edition of Pando’s FC Chat, CCP Rise and CCP Signal sat down to answer questions about the upcoming Fleet Formations feature hinted at in the recent Reign Quadrant 1 Trailer. In addition to the Fleet Formation changes, a variety of other wide ranging topics related to EVE combat more generally came up, with CCP Rise and Signal firing off their thoughts about potential ways to improve long standing problems.
As a small time FC myself, my first thoughts on Fleet Formations were that they were a mainly cosmetic change that wouldn’t see much use in actual combat, but after listening to Pando and the CCP devs discuss the topic – as well as pointed questions from Isa Shana – I’ve changed my tune. Fleet formation warping definitely has the potential to add a wide variety of interesting opening plays to fleet fights.
The changes will deploy to the test server on Monday, February 22, and a follow up mass test will occur on the next day on Tuesday. The initial roll out focuses on four different formations – wall, plane, arrow, and point. There will also be an ability to set custom formations.
Simple sliders will allow an FC to pre-determine range and spacing for the ships to fill out, although the game logic will fill in ships as space is available, so incorrect spacing settings could result in ships being stacked on top of each other, or more spread out than intended. Another interesting space for theory crafting revolves around the effects of warp inhibition spheres. The ships will originate the formation relative to the FC; however, each individual ship will have its own calculated warp vector, meaning that some ships may be dragged into bubbles, for example, while others land at their intended destination.
CCP Rise also mentioned that due to the way fleet warping works at the core of EVE, FCs will get a slight hint as to how their warp turned out, as ships beginning to exit warp will start to arrange themselves as they land on grid. The example he gave was a wall formation landing on a bubble – the wall would bend around the bubble kind of like if a blanket were dropped on top of a beach ball.
The addition of formation warping has potential to be exciting, with commentators on the stream simultaneously exclaiming that it both made bombers useless and completely OP. Definitely check out the mass test to see what kinds of situations arise, as CCP can only test the formations with a limited number of ships by themselves due to technological limitations.
Mobile Cynos and “Difuse” Cynos
The conversation moved to the topic of cynos, specifically whether or not a “difuse” cyno would be desirable. CCP Rise was quick to state that they were not rolling anything out like this right now, since a major war rages and the some battles have hinged on cyno placement. Making changes now seemed inappropriate. The CSM has also, thus far, objected to anything like. CCP was interested in allowing for a module that behaves in this way, leaving it up to player agency as to which type of cyno they would prefer to light.
Problems around recon and industrial cynos were also mentioned. The issue: the expense of recons being appropriate for large scale fights, but punishing for small groups that are simply trying to move ships back and forth. It’s a tough issue for sure, as a “combat Ibis” cyno is clearly inappropriate; however, requiring small-to-mid-sized groups to sacrifice $500 million ISK recon every time seems unnecessary.
To work around this issue, CCP seems to think that moving cyno beacons off of ships entirely might be the answer. In the future, cynos could be a mobile deployable with a set cost and a fairly reasonable volume – say 250m3. Various edge cases were discussed, including how these new deployables would perform in the presence of mobile inhibitors or system wide jammers, as well as their appearance on the overview, DSCAN, etc. All in all, the changes CCP were describing seemed to make a great deal of sense and would generally work better for all involved.
Everybody flies the Munnin because the Munnin is too good. CCP hinted that while the Munnin has gone through balance changes in the past, and has another set on the way, unfortunately wider problems – with the way shields and guns work – mean that the meta would simply shift to another flavor of the month.
While CCP avoided getting into specifics, Advanced Damage Controls (ADCs), stasis webification bubbles (or wubbles), the potential for warp scrambling bubbles (scrubbles), as well as changes to shields and guns were also discussed as areas of improvement.
A wider discussion of shields and guns, and the implications for how they work in EVE combat, deserves its own article, not to mention how all that may be affected by the upcoming fleet formation warping. The problems essentially lie with the relationships between range, speed, and gun tracking, and probably no amount of shifting numbers around will change that state of affairs. This discussion definitely deserves further discussion – not to mention illustration – so I will only mention this aspect of the VOD in passing.
One bit of detail CCP Rise mentioned was the need for gun tiericide. He used projectile turrets as an example: there are approximately 120 variations of projectile turrets, but about 95% of all uses fall into a single module. Currently, the best option involves fitting the largest damage, highest range gun that ship fitting allows, which is exactly what all the players do. CCP would like change that so a wide variety of gun choices are perfectly valid in different situations. Clearly, this area needs improvement, and taken along with balances to shield HACs and fleet formation warping, these changes have a chance to shake up New Eden.
Check out the VOD!
Players who are interested should definitely check out Pando’s VOD here. At the least, it is reassuring the hear from game devs about the kinds of levels they consider before making changes, and all the problems that can arise in edge cases. They must strike a balance between giving players the tools to do cool things while also avoiding handing someone an obscene exploit. One interesting comment from CCP Rise was that he hopes the upcoming fleet formation changes make fleet combat more fun and interesting, but that he hopes it doesn’t turn combat into a super complex game of “400D chess.” Reality will fall somewhere in the middle. It is nice to see the devs working to make a fun addition to the game that goes beyond aesthetics.