CCP Introduces Fleet Formation Warping, Hints at Further Changes

2021-02-21

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.

Fleet Formations

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.

Shield HACs

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.

Guns

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.

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Comments

  • chimpy

    I’d like to propose a possible link between fleet formations and a longer term goal that CCP has previously mentioned that would blow players minds if it turns out to be true. It
    would alter the game, especially in battles of scale in almost unimaginable ways CCP has previously talked about changing one of the laws of physics of the Eve universe. No longer being able to shoot through other ships to hit the target you are firing at. Currently your weapons will hit your target irrespective of if other ships get in between you and your target. CCP has at the very least mused publicly about when the ammunition leaves your guns what would happen if it hit the first thing that got in its way. If this was to happen there could be different effects per ammunition type e.g. beams would be very simple draw a between firing ship and target, first thing the beam hits is where it lands, a missile however has lots of room for variation from the beam model. CCP might choose to allow missiles a small attempt to maneouver around the blocking target and still hit the intended target. This might work with a small blocking object between source and destination, but fail with a larger object blocking the route. This would allow even more flavour to the different weapon types, and choice and conseqences is a staple of MMOs.
    Of course for a change this huge CCP couldn’t change the game overnight. It would need to be introduced slowly in parts. The end effects on the players would be too much in one go. You might for instance want to introduce FLEET SHAPES first to get players used to them before then altering the mechanic of where weapon fire hits. The two go hand in glove. Fleet shapes combined with weapon ray tracing ( for want of a better term sorry ) would alter Eve beyond imagination. The skill cap for FCs and large scale battles would be raised several orders of magnitude. Example imagine a fleet going into action in a three dimensional cone formation. Pointy end towards the enemy, combat ships forming the outer surface of the cone, logistics forming the centre of the cone. Logistics would be ( mostly? ) safe from fire from any enemy the cone was pointed towards as incoming fire would ( mostly? ) strike the outer surface of the cone.
    There’s a lot of issues that would need to be considered by CCP from a game point of view, friendly fire anyone? But what is already happening with fleet formations could be the first step in such a direction. Weapon ray tracing would necessitate fleet formations for the players to get better gameplay results from higher player skill. It would allow better FCs to defeat larger enemy numbers by using skill and tactics over the current N+1 ( or in papi’s case N squared ) meta. Interestingly the the effect it would have on gameplay would scale with numbers on the field. At small gang level it would make a lot less difference than large scale war engangement level. It could even be used by CCP in PvE content. CCP for the last year or two redone a lot of PvE content to be more like human players. I think CCP would enjoy sitting at their desks designing PvE content puzzles to fuck with players by giving NPC content formations and weapon ray tracing.
    Ok so it’s a tall tale and wild speculation, but if CCP were to give it a go in their current “try it in stages and see what happens, fix quickly where necessary” would begin with steps like the fleet formations that we are seeing right now. I think the path CCP would take would be like slowly building a house of cards. Place piece by piece into the game and see how the individual pieces stack up. If during the early stages the pieces fal,over too much then just stop, but if they can get fleet formation to work well and bring additional depth and player skill rewards to the table then my money is on them aiming in the future to couple it with weapon ray tracing.

    February 21, 2021 at 1:57 PM
    • Rammel Kas chimpy

      They do not use ray mechanics for general guns. It’s a simple action/reaction check. So you’re asking them to introduce MULTIPLE layers of server checks when we’re already seeing the servers creak under TIDI in these bloc fights? Really going there?

      February 21, 2021 at 3:25 PM
      • chimpy Rammel Kas

        I am not proposing this.CCP has publicly talked about it before. So no, to answer your question, I’m not asking them to do anything at all. I am speculating what if what CCP has just done is related to another thing CCP have themselves talked about in the past. I hope that makes it much clearer for you.

        February 21, 2021 at 10:41 PM
    • Garreth Vlox chimpy

      ” CCP has at the very least mused publicly about when the ammunition leaves your guns what would happen if it hit the first thing that got in its way. If this was to happen there could be different effects per ammunition type e.g. beams would be very simple draw a between firing ship and target, first thing the beam hits is where it lands,”

      And you thought TIDI was bad now with a few thousand nerds shooting each other under the current settings, imagine how crippled the server would be with just a few hundred people if it had to calculate the firing path of every single gun on every single ship and decided if the gun had LOS on the target or if it hit something along the way… Imagine the chaos that would ensue on the servers part if it had to do the same thing to a drone blob in an enemy fleet trying to shoot a single ship in the middle of the enemy fleet .

      February 21, 2021 at 9:21 PM
      • chimpy Garreth Vlox

        Yes it would be difficult. For instance a fast moving object that could possibly cross the stream of fire would be a right pain in the arse. But already we have things like carrier fighters that take a disproportionate amount of computing time. As I said to the reply above, I am not proposing this change or championing it. I’m asking WHAT IF what CCP has just done with fleet formations is one step towards a possible larger goal CCP themselves have previously mused about publicly?

        February 21, 2021 at 10:45 PM
        • Garreth Vlox chimpy

          ” I’m asking WHAT IF what CCP has just done with fleet formations is one step towards a possible larger goal CCP themselves have previously mused about publicly?”

          larger goals in general sure, LOS changes like what you theorized specifically? Not without a massive hardware upgrade to handle the astrominical increase in the number of calculations required to make that system work.

          February 22, 2021 at 3:10 AM
  • Alaric Faelen

    I am not in favor of more AoE systems like Wubbles or Scrubbles. Targeted systems serve the game play much more than ‘press a button then forget’ type weapons. AoE also renders several skills obsolete for targeting and tracking as well as further erodes the value of EWAR both for offense and defense. I’m generally not in favor of littering space with more ‘stuff’ to bog down a fight.

    February 21, 2021 at 2:45 PM
    • Undeadenemy Alaric Faelen

      I can see your point of view, I think though the scrubble might be worth a bit of further explanation. I didn’t go into this in the article as I didn’t want it to bog down, but what they mentioned in the stream was something that maybe shuts down the MWD for 1 server tick. So maybe something more like a bomb than a field aoe affect you have to vacate. This would serve to kind of knee cap some of the shield kiting meta so long as you could keep hitting them with it, which would leave them more vulnerable to other forms of assault.

      I do get your point though, just thought the scrubble could use a bit of extra explanation. I’d recommend watching the stream though to get the full details of what all they sort of theory crafted on there.

      February 21, 2021 at 3:34 PM
  • Guilford Australis

    CCP: “Yeah, you’ve had to deal with universally despised garbage mechanics like FozzieSov and citadels for the past five years, but you’ll be pleased to know that we’re working on some tweaks to fleet warp that no one asked for or cares about.”

    Okay.

    February 21, 2021 at 3:58 PM
    • EbilFairy Guilford Australis

      Pretty much sums up most of what they do lately.

      February 21, 2021 at 8:05 PM
      • phuzz EbilFairy

        Eve Is Dying ™

        February 22, 2021 at 9:35 AM
    • kwnyupstate . Guilford Australis

      Like many companies they think they need to change things constantly to keep people logging in. They should balance things and let it be.

      February 21, 2021 at 9:51 PM
  • kwnyupstate .

    First the FCs need to herd the players into the formations to begin with which will take about 5 hours.

    February 21, 2021 at 8:03 PM
  • Carvj94

    As unnecessary as the fleet warp changes might be I think we can all agree it’ll be kind of fun to see a maxed out fleet dropping out of warp in wall formation.

    February 22, 2021 at 7:25 PM
  • Dear CCP:

    BUBBLES AND TACKLING WERE FINE BEFORE YOU MADE THE META REVOLVE EXCLUSIVELY AROUND SMALL FAST SHIPS.

    Why can’t those dense-ass lumps figure out EVE is not a game that plays well with fast-paced action. It has a shitty 1hz tick rate as a baseline for the simulation and many users additionally have to contend with relatively shitty ping times to the server due to the single-shard nature of the game. Instead of diving into an endless shit-storm of new modules and charges and tactics why don’t we just un-fuck the ship meta by restoring a more linear relationship between ship size/maneuverability and stats? The game worked so much better when fleet combat centered around battleships instead of nano-cruisers– suddenly everything would make sense again.

    I’m literally so fucking sick of dealing with insta-warp shit and HAC fleets that nobody can tackle because they can haze anything fast enough to keep up with them and outrun anything that can tank them, not to mention the borderline exploity shit like nullified, insta-warp ceptors that can burst-jam and then the counter-exploity crap like stacking 50 skybreakers on a gate to insta-gib anything waping to gate while it’s mid-warp. Literally all of this garbage is so dumb. Just make frigates and destroyers and cruisers weaker again, and leave actual interactable ships like BCs and BS to do the heavy lifting. Nobody needed wubbles or scrubbles to tackle battleships because frigates and dictors could do that just fine without instantly evaporating the second they land on grid and break their untargetability.

    Its almost as if EVE’s ships were originally balanced with the game’s technical limitations in mind, and that some newcomers have just failed to understand the most basic things about how the game is played and how it would be played if certain things were changed. No more 700 DPS insta-warp t3ds. No more HACs. No more fucking instaceptors. Make people fly big ships again if they want to be able to accomplish things.

    February 22, 2021 at 11:55 PM