Cloaks Hurt EVE—CCPLEASE

2020-11-17

Header art by Redline XIII.

Cloaking is breaking the EVE Online. Yeah, we’re going there. Hold onto your butts.

Information and the fog of war define military conflicts. All the way back in the 5th century BC, Sun Tzu was talking about knowing the enemy and yourself. Here’s a hint: he wasn’t talking about the enemy general’s hair color. A huge component of warfare consists of finding the enemy to discern the enemy’s strength and capabilities. Failure in reconnaissance can mean disastrous defeat. Success can bring victory.

Let Me Tell You What I Mean

In 217BC, the Romans were being invaded by Hannibal. Eager to punish the Alps-crossing, elephant-deploying general, a Roman army under the command of Consul Gaius Flaminius numbering 30 thousand failed to employ any reconnaissance units. In the ensuing battle at Lake Trasimene, the Carthagenians ambushed the Roman force, killing half and taking the rest captive.

In 1914, the Germans were steamrolling through France. The war was going great for the Kaisar; his front line divisions were moving to encircle Paris in a mere month. The French needed a miracle. They didn’t get one. They fell back on sound military tactics bolstered by new technology. Aerial reconnaissance found a gap in the German lines. In the resulting First Battle of the Marne, General Gallieni ferried troops from Paris via taxi cabs to the critical point and stopped the German attack, saving Paris. According to Generaloberst von Moltke (the Younger), that loss cost them the war.

On 21 May 1941 Pilot Officer Michael Suckling flew a reconnaissance mission in his Spitfire over Bergen. From 25 thousand feet, Suckling took pictures of a large ship in the port. Upon returning to England, the interpreters determined that the photographs were of Bismark. The photographs sent the British fleet into motion, and the resulting battle has became a legendary piece of naval history.

Information Warfare

In modern warfare, militaries have dedicated reconnaissance units. The United States Marine Corps has their recon and force recon units; the Russian forces have Spetsnaz. Every single officer learns the importance of reconnaissance in their schools. In the mission planning process for the Marine Corps, two of the steps involve reconnaissance. It is a critical component to military operations that EVE fleet commanders take for granted.

In EVE Online, information gathering is both simple and perfect. Right now in World War Bee, both sides, Mittens’ Kittens and Test Invasion Please Stand By, have deployed massive armies of alts to enemy systems, most on the same grid as important staging keepstars. All a player has to do is log in the alt, turn on the cloaking device, set up a stream, and go AFK until the server comes up the next day. Perfect information is available to commanders; this is a bad thing.

Even CCP recognizes that perfect information is a bad thing. Last year CCP implemented a Blackout. While millions of pixels were already spent writing and commenting on the Blackout, I should note that, despite the misguided chaotic intent and the poor implementation, the Blackout was trying to solve a real problem that exists.

Let me repeat that for emphasis: the Blackout was an attempt to solve a real problem.

Looking Back at Last Year

At the time, I criticized CCP for their attempts at a Chaos Era. To many, the Blackout felt like more of an attack on players than a change to try and solve the problem of perfect information.

Between the Drifter attack and the Blackout later, null sec players felt like CCP was attacking them, especially when key devs and the CEO were talking about how terrible EVE should be.

CCP can address the problem of perfect information in other ways that won’t divide the EVE community like the Red Sea. The first issue that CCP can address is cloaking.

EVE if up to me, would be a very harsh, dark, dystopian place where bad stuff happens.

EVE should be an absolute hellscape of terribleness.

-CCP Falcon

Cloaks Suck; They’re Too Good

Cloaking is utterly perfect. Once a ship has cloaked up, it is totally undetectable. Sure, they can be decloaked if something comes within 2 kilometers, but space is fucking huge. Dear reader, you should be able to tell how completely overpowered cloaking is by the amount of adverbs in this paragraph.

[Editor’s Note: There are precisely three adverbs in the first 750 words of this article. All three are in that paragraph.]

Cloaking is easy. All it takes is for the player to press the button. They will remain cloaked until the server goes down, or they press that button again. Cloaking doesn’t even take capacitor to use, unlike every other utility high slot.

Once a ship is in position, all the player has to do to keep their reconnaissance bot running for another day is press one button and set up a stream. And there’s not a damn thing the other side can do to stop it.

Limit this $&!#

The first thing CCP should change is the perpetuity of cloaking. Cloaking should be time limited somehow. The best way I see how to change this is to have a cloaking device use fuel a la cyno. Using fuel brings a complex play and counter-play into scouting. To keep reconnaissance pilots fueled up would require cycling them in and out, or for the supporting organizations to organize underway replenishment. Additionally, since cargo space is limited, pilots will have to choose whether to carry more cloaking fuel or liquid ozone for a cyno. The use of fuel would also allow pilots to predict when their cloak will expire and plan accordingly. In one step, CCP has made cloaky camping more complicated in a meaningful way, making those that run cloaky alts with competence and skill more valued to their organization.

Another simple way to manage limitless cloaking is to have the devices break in the same way as an overheated module. The basic T1 cloak module takes damage at the rate to where it is broken after some number of minutes of cycle. And yes, any change to cloaking would have to make the module a cycle module rather than a simple off/on switch. Better cloaking modules could last longer. This changes the mechanics somewhat. Refueling the Listening Post/Observation Post (LP/OP) cloakies is eliminated and instead forces them to refit with a new module, repair with nanite paste in space, or dock up to refit. This actually has the benefit of making cargo size irrelevant—a hauler with charges in the back has the same cloaking time as any other ship. 

Play/Counterplay

The other main problem with cloaking is a total lack of counter play. If someone is cloaked in a system, all the system owners can do is grin and bear it. Even if someone knows that a ship is cloaked on a certain grid, space is all the synonyms of big. I’ll skip some of the math and say that the chances of finding a cloaked ship on a grid is somewhat less of a chance than CCP bringing back Empress Jamyl. (HA! It’s been awhile but that felt gooooood.) The chances of someone finding a cloaked ship somewhere out in space in a system is worse than my chances of becoming the queen of Saudi Arabia.

One way for Sov holders to deal with cloakies in their system would be for CCP to introduce a sov structure that can emit an anti-cloaking pulse when triggered. Obviously, this structure would need to have a decent cooldown time and a spool up time to keep it from imbalancing tactical engagements. The cooldown time should be measured in hours; the spool up time should be minutes or seconds.

If the cloaky pilot is at the controls, paying attention, it should not be too much of a problem for them. All they have to do is wait out the recloak timer and press the button again. They might want to relocate, but hey, I’m not going to tell anyone how to play. Offering a short prayer to their God that the scanners that will be trying to find them suck might also be in order. If the cloaky pilot is not at the controls, they get to learn a valuable lesson about going AFK in someone else’s space. 

As far as a tactical approach to decloaking, the balance between finding a solution that would be decent for finding cloakies on a certain grid and not breaking a tactical fight is rather difficult. Even a 200 kilometer radius decloak-ping on a ship would make finding a cloaked ship on a grid not that much easier, while the potential to impact fleet fights of such a module is incredible. I am, however, simply one writer. I have faith that the tens of thousands of players and CCP devs can come up with a solution.

Regardless, going forward, there has to be counterplay to cloaking. If the answer to a mechanic is to grin and bear it, that’s not a good mechanic. CCP has to put in counterplay to cloaking. Even if they do not change cloaking, CCP must add in counterplay. 

Value Added: Or How I learned to Stop Worrying About the Nerf Bat and Love the Carrots

If we’re going to fix cloaking by adding in counterplay and nerfing the way that cloaking works, then we’re (and by that I mean CCP) going to need to feed the playerbase some carrots. There’s not a lot that can be done to cloaking to make it better on a tactical basis. Blackops as a whole are an effective, if niche doctrine. That is not to say there are not some ways to improve cloaky ships. 

In Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, there was a Klingon bird of prey that could fire while cloaked. If it wasn’t so easy to warp off after shooting, firing while cloaked might be a decent mechanic. As it stands, drive-by, cloaked shootings would be imbalanced.  Adding that in would require some other mechanics overhauls. However, it could be cool if the other problems are fixed.

One of the best carrots to give cloaky ships and their pilots is to make cloaked ships’ pilots not show up in local chat. That’s right. If a pilot cloaks their ship, their name should be taken out of the local chat. So, a pilot flies their ship to their LP/OP, sets up, hits the cloak, and no one knows they are there. Of course, if someone is paying attention, they might know, as there’s always a short time where a pilot is not cloaked after gate cloak before they can activate the module: at least one server tick. 

This is the best for both worlds! Reconnaissance and counter-recon playing cat and mouse, each working to deny the other in a cosmic game of Spy v. Spy. Gate camps start to matter to keep enemy reconnaissance ships from entering their systems, as reconnaissance ships will be entering and leaving their LP/OPs on the regular for some kind of resupply. Most importantly, though, it gets pilots—players—out in space making things happen.

It won’t be easy, but it can be done.

Cloaking is broken. Cloaking has been broken since time immemorial. However, there are ways that CCP can fix cloaking to make it more engaging for players on both sides. CCP themselves have publicly recognized the problem and tried to fix it with the Blackout. That might not have worked, but if at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try, try again. 

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Comments

  • Basic Logic

    Easy fix. Just create one shiptype that is able to probe out cloaked ships. That would remove the problem.

    November 17, 2020 at 8:47 AM
    • Basic Logic Basic Logic

      Make the probe time something crazy like 5 minutes, so it is not effective in a fight, but can be used to combat the afk camper. It forces them to stay active.

      November 17, 2020 at 8:52 AM
      • Menaiya Basic Logic

        I am a fan of requiring Cloaks to use Capacitor. But instead of using a fuel, the cloak needs to be “charged” up. They get a charge for a certain amount of time. it can be augmented by cap boosters that are consumed. It has its own “capacitor meter”. Once the cloak is out of cap, it needs a reload time. Kind of like ancilliary shield boosters.

        I do like your idea. Perhaps a dedicated scan probe for cloaked ships. It takes a full minute to get results. I don’t mind cloaked eyes. I just hate the AFK Cloak camping.

        November 17, 2020 at 5:14 PM
    • Carvj94 Basic Logic

      I think adding another ship is a bit of a waste of time. Maybe an active high slot module that allows your combat probes to scan cloakies after a warm up period of a few minutes? That way cloaky hunters and scouts are still useful but not able to just sit around. Probably make this module only fit on Covert ops ships to balance it a bit and be lore friendly. Blah blah aligns your probes scanner frequency to your cloak blah blah to see other cloaked ships.

      November 21, 2020 at 7:24 AM
  • Garreth Vlox

    They can’t touch cloaks without unfucking the cyno situation since a cloak is the only thing keeping your cyno boat from being insta primaried right now.

    November 17, 2020 at 9:30 AM
  • Winston Archer

    Don’t forget the US Navy’s use of the PBY aircraft to spot the Japanese strike force in the battle of Midway. Midway was a defeat that the Japanese could never recover from.

    November 17, 2020 at 11:12 AM
    • While true, there was a metric sh!tton of luck involved with the US even finding the fleet.

      November 17, 2020 at 9:03 PM
  • chimpy

    All sides of a conflict in Eve have access to cloakies. I don’t think you made much of a case as to why cloakies are bad beyond “perfect information”. I agree that in Eve perfect information is generally bad, but I think in the context of the current war you need to make a stronger case.There’s so much else that is shrouded by the fog of war that as a whole even infinite cloakies would leave plenty of fog for shenanigans. A smart commander could even try to use hostile cloakies to his own advantage. Examples:
    Use the hostile cloakies to feed disinformation to the enemy. History is littered with military examples of feeding disinformation to an adversary that hugely impacts the conflict e.g. Operation Mincemeat.
    Encourage the enemy to become relliant on cloakies for all of their information. It’s “perfect” after all right? Let them see your every move and become complacent. They know exactly what you are up to every single moment right? Right up until that moment when your shit hits their fans at terminal velocity because they thought they knew exactly what you were up to and grew complacent, only they didn’t know quite as much as they thought they knew.
    As your adversary relies more and more on cloakies “perfect information” they rely less on other intel method like spies. Let them get all the intel they want easily from cloakies so it becomes the low hanging fruit they rely on.
    Gather intel from the cloakies distribution. Even if you can’t decloak them their presence is telling you what your adversary is interested in. How many are there/ Where are they? There’s a great old cold war spy movie that for the life of I can’t remember the name of. The Russians dangle a defector to the Brits ( or Americans? ) To verify that the defector is real the Brits provide a list of ( 50? ) questions for a British agent to go to Russia ( or East Germany? ) and ask the defector. The whole thing is a Russian setup. They want the list of questions the Brits want to ask the defector because that will give them a good idea of what the Brits are interested in. The very questions themselves are valuable intel.
    I think for a good leader with a cunning mind enemy cloakies could be turned into an asset to be used and abused.
    Just feedback on your writing style, I don’t mean this in a mean way but I found a few times this article struck me as slighly condescending to the reader dear writer. The impression I got was that you didn’t expect the reader to appreciate just how right your argument was. Don’t make assumptions about the reader, make a better argument. One thing that I notice about articles here that advocate for game mechnic changes is very rarely do they really make a good solid job of fully justifying the need for change in the first place. That’s the starting point. Everything after stands or falls on that foundation. I always appreciate free content and the hard work that you put into the article, so I thank you for the article. I did enjoy your Dr Strangelove reference.

    November 17, 2020 at 1:45 PM
    • Arrendis chimpy

      One of the biggest problems with trying to get an enemy to be 100% reliant on cloaky scouts for intel is… they won’t. They don’t need to, and you’re not going to change that. When fleet pings go out, everyone on all sides gets everyone else’s pings. Hell, there’s probably at least 2 groups able to spy on me as I type this, before I hit ‘post’.

      And right there, through intel sources outside the client, the cloaky is no longer 100% of the intelligence stream. Misinformation about what’s forming? Not anymore, they saw the pings. They got someone in fleet. Cloakies give access to perfect information streams. That doesn’t mean anyone is going to limit themselves to just the one stream. The intel might be perfect, but it’s still limited in its scope.

      November 17, 2020 at 8:40 PM
      • Moomin Amatin Arrendis

        “trust but verify”.

        November 18, 2020 at 3:37 AM
    • Carvj94 chimpy

      The problem with your argument is that cloaks are almost useless to defenders. For attackers it’s used for offense and scouting. For defenders it’s only good for scouting.

      November 18, 2020 at 3:25 AM
  • Moomin Amatin

    I think you are right in stating that the reason cloaks are broken, well one of them, is that there is no counter play. That is the only thing wrong with cloaking at this time in my opinion. Having some sort of specialised module/system that can de-cloak an AFK/streaming scout is to my mind by far the best solution. The cloaked ship should then have a chance to perform actions to evade capture. This could be the basis for some nice cat and mouse typed play. Equally there is also the chance for counter play to that. More options is better than fewer.

    Your other points are good reading but there are many other forms of “perfect intel” available. I should also note that I made a point of scouting hostile stagers and fleets in a T1 frigate with no cloak, alpha only. It is harder for certain but still very possible. Following fleets gets a bit trickier as well. Spies are a thing and arguably one of the best perfect intel tools in the game is the d-scan function.

    My main concern in this is that if any action were taken it may adversly effect styles of gameplay that rely on cloaks. Just think of large bomber fleets in big battles or ganking a super. The smart bombing tactics used in “pipe-bombs” could also suffer. These are all good and interesting things and I would hate for them to leave the game.

    November 17, 2020 at 2:53 PM
    • Rammel Kas Moomin Amatin

      I would like a kind of counter play like sub hunting in real life. You start with a vague trace, have to narrow it down as you get closer and potentially force the guy to vacate his campsite or lose the ship.

      In the World of Warships title they have a skill called Radio Position Finding which gives you an arc indicator of where the closest hostile ship is approximately in increments of about 15degrees. The closer you get to them of course the sooner that arc will change it’s moment relative to you and then you know you’re almost at them. Then of course once you’re in the detection radius of the ship you get eyes on them.

      They could at the same time increase the decloaking radius proportional to the time they have not touched any in game keys. But I know some of the Passpi crowd use login server stacks like Lolmeca and Marshy did. So I wonder if they won’t just add that to their automated routines.

      November 18, 2020 at 8:22 AM
  • PigusDickus

    Sooooo, when the doughnut used to permacamp (for weeks at some point)
    ratting/mining bears in smaller alliances, everything was ok. Now that goons are feeling the heat upon them, cloaking is terribad.

    November 17, 2020 at 4:00 PM
    • Guilford Australis PigusDickus

      INN writers have their own opinions, but the position here and on The Meta Show for several years has pretty consistently been that cloaky camping, interdiction nullification, and other comorbidities are garbage and should be thrown out like garbage.

      November 17, 2020 at 4:04 PM
    • Moomin Amatin PigusDickus

      About three years on the Meta show cloaks were spoken about. It is not a new issue at all. For me personally, things as they are make my life easier. So if anyone does not want change for this it is me. But even I can at least see the fact that there is no effective counter play to what I do.

      November 17, 2020 at 4:38 PM
    • Arrendis PigusDickus

      Nope, cloaking was bad then, too. But—much like supercapitals, rental empires, structure spam, and nuclear weapons—when you’re in a military or economic arms race, you use the tools you need to use, regardless of how much you think that tool goes against the greater good.

      November 17, 2020 at 7:26 PM
  • Guilford Australis

    I agree with the broad strokes.

    CCP can’t market the game on the notoriety of nullsec and J-space being “lawless space” where anything goes, bubbles abound, and pilots need to look over their shoulders constantly because bad guys will stab them between the ribs the second they look away from the monitor… but then allow nullified interceptors and T3Cs, covert ops cloaks (particularly when combined with the throwaway cost of stealth bombers), zero-commitment AFK cloaky camping, and other cheap cop-outs to enable virtually risk-free gameplay in “lawless space.”

    (Ironically, it always seems to be the mouth-breathers who claim EVE is supposed to be “dangerous” farting around all day in cloaky nullified Tengus).

    November 17, 2020 at 4:15 PM
    • Without nullification what is the counter-play to bubbles?

      November 17, 2020 at 9:02 PM
      • I guess I know my next article.

        November 17, 2020 at 10:18 PM
      • Guilford Australis Noob

        Fighting.

        November 17, 2020 at 10:53 PM
        • Fair point, to be sure. But an n+1 hellcamp in a bubbled gate really doesn’t have a counter.

          Maybe wormholes?

          November 18, 2020 at 1:46 AM
  • Bumpy Dog

    As an ex member of Signal Cartel, and long time wander and explorer of the EvE universe, there is a whole style of gameplay that Nul Sec have absolutely no idea about. From the big Nul block point of view cloaking might be broken, but there is a whole other slice of EvE that relies on cloaking. CCP need to balance the needs of all the players, not just PAPI and Goonswarm.

    November 17, 2020 at 6:37 PM
    • Guilford Australis Bumpy Dog

      I think it’s fair to observe that the Signal Cartel style of gameplay is about as niche as it gets – and it’s not even dependent on the current cloaking mechanics. You’ll see comments below from Imperium members who acknowledge that changes to cloaking would make their lives more difficult but be better overall for the game.

      November 17, 2020 at 6:41 PM
      • Bumpy Dog Guilford Australis

        That you think exploration of the EvE universe is a “niche” play style proves my point.

        November 17, 2020 at 7:59 PM
        • Arrendis Bumpy Dog

          Well, except for where he specified Signal Cartel’s specific narrow band of ‘exploration’. Exploration’s a fairly large chunk of the game, sure, and in some areas, it definitely does rely on cloaky mechanics.

          It doesn’t, however, rely on the ability to sit cloaked up for hours on end without any need to pay attention to the client. You can’t exactly run an exploration site while AFK, or map j-space routes without being at the keys. And let’s look at the things suggested in the article:

          Cloaking in perpetuity.
          No real counterplay.

          So, how would ‘you need to restart your cloak after X time’ be seriously detrimental to exploration? How long do you normally remain cloaked without any interruption to say, hack a site, loot a can, take a wormhole, etc?

          How would ‘there is a way to counter cloaks’ be excessively hurtful to exploration? Do you often try to hang around cloaked near hostiles while exploring?

          November 17, 2020 at 8:09 PM
          • GoldenPSP Arrendis

            It doesn’t, however, rely on the ability to sit cloaked up for hours on end without any need to pay attention to the client. You can’t exactly run an exploration site while AFK, or map j-space routes without being at the keys

            Do you often try to hang around cloaked near hostiles while exploring?

            I have had many times where I’ve ended up in a very active and hostile system, especially in J-space, where the only chance of survival was to “out wait” my hunters. This meant cloaking up for several hours. And yes I would walk away because ya know, I have RL things to do in the meantime. This is not uncommon for explorers.

            November 22, 2020 at 2:40 PM
          • I’m writing up a follow up to this piece, but I am going to say that hiding for several hours and going to do other things whilst utterly immune to being found isn’t good game play at all.

            November 22, 2020 at 4:07 PM
          • GoldenPSP Alizabeth

            Well if it is on par with this gem it will be, well something. And that is your opinion. If I roll into a highly active wormhole with combat probes out. Sabre’s at every exit, I should just relegate myself to dying? Outlasting your attackers is a valid strategy, it always has been. And I should be able to step away over a period of hours to stretch my legs, go to the bathroom, deal with kids etc if I’m in a situation that I cannot safely log off

            November 22, 2020 at 4:37 PM
          • Arrendis GoldenPSP

            Ok, and you didn’t safe log while you were afk because….?

            I mean, where’s the harm in saying ‘ok, so if you’re going to be afk, just safelog. It’s the ultimate cloak’?

            November 27, 2020 at 4:38 AM
          • GoldenPSP Arrendis

            Because in these times (which I have had several) I was being actively hunted in system. That meant Sabres ready to try and catch me if I left system, and active combat probes on scan. Sure I could attempt a safe log, but when trying in the past it generally just mean I blew a safespot as the probers would lock and start warping to me before I logged.

            November 27, 2020 at 2:30 PM
          • Arrendis GoldenPSP

            It’s 30 seconds. You keep moving while you’re cloaked, and you hit safe log as soon as you decloak. Unless they already have your safe scanned down, it’s going to take 10-15s just to get the probe result, and even then, by the time they land, you’re gone, and they don’t know if you’ve recloaked and are moving off, if you’ve got a covops cloak, or if they got a lucky result on you while you were in warp.

            And then you’re right back to out-waiting them. Walk away for a few hours. They’ll find something else to do after the first 90 minutes. Change the name of your ship when you’re e-warping in, so they can’t be sure it’s the same person, if you want a little extra doubt on your side.

            November 28, 2020 at 10:06 AM
  • What would be better is if CCP could find a way to deal with alts. Alts are what should not be a thing moreso than cloaks. Unfortunately I have no idea how CCP could actually prevent alts– even if it weren’t in their financial best-interest to enable them. I think we can assume we’re stuck with alts, so lets talk about cloaking ships themselves.

    Let me begin by saying that I’ve been working extensively with cloaked ships for a ~*long time*~: like, since 2007 or 2008. I’m gonna make an argument here that I’m not sure you’ll like, but here it goes: cloaks are not the problem– it’s the adjacent, connected abilities and game mechanics that are causing serious problems for EVE.

    Your example of intel streams is one example: streaming simply wasn’t a thing when cloaks were originally implemented. If you wanted intel from a cloaky scout, that person by definition had to be at-keyboard, because otherwise there was nobody to narrate the happenings of whatever faraway system they’d been assigned to.

    Another example is nullified ships. Prior to the introduction of interdiction nullification, scouting– even with a covert-cloaking ship– required some degree of skill and presented opportunities for counter-play. If a group wanted to prevent cloaked ships from recon-ing a system of particular strategic importance, they could simply stick a hell-camp on the relevant gate. Since any scouts would need to run that gatecamp in a bomber, covops, or recon ship, there’s a good chance that a competent camp could decloak and kill their ship on entry. Today, by contrast, it’s trivially easy for players to simply fit a cloak on a travelceptor or shell out for a nullified, covert T3C. By flying either of these ships, they immediately render themselves immune to the vast majority of gatecamps (they can still be tackled by RSB’ed interceptors flown by certain pilots located in Europe with favorable internet connections but that’s a whole different stinking shit-pile of a game mechanic that feels extremely exploit-y and also needs to change).

    The third problem is blackops bridges. Again, I’ve migrated to a gameplay style that essentially revolves entirely around blackops-bridging, but hey: there’s a hotdrop arms-race going on and I’m not about to forgo powerful tools that my enemies are gonna use on the basis of some kind of moral objection. Blackops bridges are broken A/F and have been for a long time. There’s no way players should be able to use a blackops bridge to field combat-focused ships like stealth bombers and covert-T3Cs. The fact that you can easily teleport tens of thousands of DPS– provided in the form of cheap, disposable frigate hulls– onto whoever you want, while also benefitting from extremely good range and lack of aids-accumulation is broken. Like, completely and utterly disgustingly broken. The covert hotdrop meta has completely destroyed so many aspects of the nullsec ship meta. It’s changed the way we rat, it’s mandated the use of cap / supercap umbrellas, and it renders the geography of space totally irrelevant. Bomber drops are difficult to effectively counter, trivially inexpensive for the attacker to lose in the event that they actually are obliterated by some smartbomb autist, and criminally overpowered. Hell, it’s barely even possible to catch the bridging BS provided the pilot isn’t completely incompetent.

    I’m not sure what to do about AFK intel-stream alts. I personally find it disgusting the way alt-armies are being utilized in today’s EVE, but that applies to so many areas of gameplay. For a single human player to have two, three, four, or even five active accounts that they use in a normal way doesn’t bother me so much, but when you see these people running fifty characters, all in minimal-SP, barebones cyno bomber alts that allow them to fish entire regions solo, it’s pretty gross. The same goes for people’s personal farming-armies. CCP should probably find some way of dealing with it.

    For the rest of us who field sane numbers of characters, I think CCP could eliminate most of the negative consequences of cloaking by simply adjusting the host ships and their abilities:

    – Make the covert jump bridge only sling covops frigates, blockade runners, and force-recons– none of these ships are as good at insta-tackling as bombers, nor do they do appreciable DPS or scale well with large numbers. These are ships that are actually designed for recon rather than combat– they’re a good fit for the bridge, contributing intel and logistical capabilities that can augment a combat effort, without prosecuting an engagement directly. No more bombers. No more covert T3Cs or Stratii.

    – Rework the tech 2 battleships: put covert cloaks on the ships known as Blackops while retaining their current logistics capabilities (Bridge modules, big fuel bay, etc. Maybe throw them a fitting service and a scan-probe bonus, to boost their utility?). Rework Marauders to fit the role that “combat blackops” are currently shoe-horned into: a ship with weird T1 cloak bonuses that drops via covert cyno and brawls. If people want to drop big DPS ships via covert cyno, let them do it in their tech 2 BS hulls like real men– this at least offers some risk and opportunities for big baiting plays on the part of the “targets.”

    – Remove interdiction nullification from the game. Full stop. It’s a toxic, garbage mechanic. Kill it with fire.

    I feel like these sorts of changes would go a long way towards alleviating the oppressive impact of today’s covert meta. Just eliminating the perpetual threat of bomber / T3C hotdrop would revitalize whole classes of ships and modes of gameplay that have been hunted to extinction. Killing interdiction nullification would actually demand some level of skill and attention from scouts, while also giving defenders a shot at preventing enemy scouts from accessing key locations. Forcing people to risk some assets if they want DPS to pour out of a covert cyno would balance the risk:reward for covert hunting while providing opportunities for clever defenders to land some appreciable counter-dunks.

    I’m not a fan of the idea of killing AFK cloaking entirely. “Perfect intel” cuts both ways– if I’m in hostile space, yes– I can sit “invulnerable” in a safespot with my cloak running until downtime. But the perfect intel situation is mutual: I know you’re there, but you also know that I’m there. Defending players are free to sit in stations or on tether all day, observing whatever they want. They can field cloaked ships too. The old truism remains applicable: an AFK, cloaked ship is not a threat 😛

    With covert bridge mechanics adjusted, a cloaked ship floating around in local no longer poses the constant threat of twenty-five thousand DPS-worth of bombers spontaneously appearing at any moment. With nullification gone, keeping cloakers out of your space by policing your stargates becomes feasible.

    We tried blackout. Removing local (or removing cloaked users from local) is clearly not a viable solution to the intel problem. Blackout failed miserably by tanking PCU, and that was an “even” deprivation of intel– neither the defending nor attacking parties could see each other in local. If people un-subbed over blackout (mutual blindness), surely the prospect of ~*only the attacker*~ being removed from local via a change to cloak behavior would be even less palatable to the average EVE player– even if that ability had a time-limit. Remember– it’s the *at-keyboard* cloaker you have to worry about– not the AFK one.

    IDK– TL;DR: I think cloaking has to stay as long as local stays (which evidence from Blackout suggest that it should). If CCP adjust the capabilities of the host ships, the cloaking itself can be made less-problematic. Alt armies are disgusting but I don’t see how (or why) CCP could choose to deal with it effectively (and where would you draw the line in terms of acceptable numbers of alts?).

    November 17, 2020 at 8:18 PM
    • I feel like you should have done your own article.

      November 17, 2020 at 10:39 PM
      • I feel like I accidentally did 😛

        Doesn’t really matter: you can persuade whoever you want of whatever you want– CCP’s game design team will just do some other dumb fucking thing that doesn’t solve the problem and probably creates new ones. They can’t figure out what to do because they have no idea what they want.

        November 17, 2020 at 11:19 PM
    • Michael Ward Ganthrithor

      Fuck I like the blops marauder idea oh I want to hot drop my Kronos soooo bad now.

      November 21, 2020 at 6:59 AM
  • Carvj94

    Making a cloak use fuel is just an annoyance and making it use cap still keeps it practically infinite. The best solution following your line of thinking would be making cloaks have a limited charge that can only be refilled by docking.

    November 18, 2020 at 3:23 AM
  • Troy Browning

    Work as hard at getting good as you do at finding shit to cry about and you won’t have to cry about cloaks anymore.

    This article was fucking stupid and you should apologize for writing it.

    November 18, 2020 at 6:33 AM
    • I will not.

      November 18, 2020 at 6:44 AM
    • J Moravia Troy Browning

      The INCREDIBLE irony of this comment is that it is not even possible for a person to “get good” against cloaky campers, because cloaking has no counter-play. That’s how broken the mechanic is in its current form: “getting good” is literally not an option.

      It’s not often that a person proves the opposite of their point, but you just did, so congratulations.

      November 20, 2020 at 5:44 PM
      • Troy Browning J Moravia

        Real irony is being so bad that you think there’s no counter to cloaks… get good, scrub.

        November 20, 2020 at 5:57 PM
        • J Moravia Troy Browning

          …he said, while sitting cloaked in someone else’s space, secure in the knowledge that it was not in fact possible for anyone to do anything about his presence there.

          November 20, 2020 at 8:06 PM
          • Troy Browning J Moravia

            Nice try cookie… I don’t even remember the last time I flew a cloak, or died to a cloaky camper.

            Cry a little more though, these tears are refreshing.

            November 21, 2020 at 7:49 AM
        • Carvj94 Troy Browning

          Alright bud. So how do you find a cloaky camper out in space?

          November 21, 2020 at 7:27 AM
          • Troy Browning Carvj94

            What’s the matter bruh, scary cloaky guy ruining your l33t mining session?

            November 21, 2020 at 7:52 AM
          • Carvj94 Troy Browning

            Nope. In wormholes the only people ruining my mining are uncloaked. I asked you a question that you think has an obvious answer. So answer it.

            November 21, 2020 at 8:10 AM
          • Troy Browning Carvj94

            No, you asked me a question that you think has no answer because you’re trash at the game and would rather cry than fight. Poor lil carebear…

            November 21, 2020 at 8:56 AM
          • J Moravia Troy Browning

            I’ll give you a challenge. Load 1000 PLEX and a handful of BPOs into your favorite nullified interceptor. Fly it into the null system of your choosing, any coalition’s space, cloak up, and leave for the day. Will you, at ANY point during the day, worry about your ship being lost? If not, then cloaking is broken, because it means cloaking is an activity that involves no risk – which only demonstrates further how ridiculous it is that you’re defending a zero-risk activity while telling OTHER people to get good. On the other hand, if you are worried about your ship being lost, then what precise mechanic do you think the natives could use to find you?

            November 21, 2020 at 1:32 PM
          • Troy Browning J Moravia

            I’ll give you a challenge… be less of pussy who cries about shit in a video game and learn to play around it. Or better yet, be less afraid of nullified inty’s packed with plex and bpo’s cloaking in a system near you.

            Honestly, of all the Eve sookery I’ve heard over the years, this is the most pusillanimous bunch of bullshit you babies have come up with yet.

            November 21, 2020 at 3:46 PM
          • Carvj94 Troy Browning

            Cool. So how do you find someone who’s cloaked?

            November 21, 2020 at 5:54 PM
          • Troy Browning Carvj94

            Why do you find someone who’s cloaked… go play your game and quit being a lil bitch.

            November 21, 2020 at 8:37 PM
          • Carvj94 Troy Browning

            I’m just asking how you find cloaked ships since you made fun of people for not knowing how. If you don’t answer soon people might think your full of s#*t. You wouldn’t want that would you?

            November 21, 2020 at 9:11 PM
          • Troy Browning Carvj94

            That’s a weird way to say you have kindergarten level reading comprehension. I guess Eve isn’t the only thing you’re terrible at…

            November 21, 2020 at 9:18 PM
          • Carvj94 Troy Browning

            “No, you asked me a question that you think has no answer because you’re trash at the game”

            My reading comprehension is just fine. You implied that you know how to find cloaky campers and insulted me for not knowing.

            November 21, 2020 at 9:48 PM
          • Troy Browning Carvj94

            Aww, that’s adorable… you take shit out of context because your comprehension is so bad you don’t comprehend meaning.

            You forgot the bit about “and would rather cry than fight”

            See, your problem is you’re a pusillanimous lil carebear afraid of a fight so you presume the answer is to hunt down a non threatening ship that could potentially locate you without you knowing… when the real answer is to hope he finds you and brings the fight to you.

            Like I said, get good… stop being a scared little bitch. Be the trap instead of being afraid of the trap. Problem solved.

            … and nobody insulted you, I just accurately summarized your level of ability.

            November 21, 2020 at 9:57 PM
          • Carvj94 Troy Browning

            So in other words your answer is to sit around and do nothing? It’s a wonder nobody has thought of that before now. /s

            You clearly don’t understand the problem of risk free Intel. Also next time you wanna brag about being a pro pilot to someone who’s kill board you can’t see how about you use your screen name so people can look you up on zkill. With your poor communication skills and poor advice I doubt you’ve killed anything outside of gangs where you’ve been told repeatedly to shut up and follow the leader on comms.

            November 21, 2020 at 10:34 PM
  • bubbaphet

    Are you new to eve? I feel like you must be new, otherwise you wouldn’t be trying to rehash the same argument people have had for years. And the reason why we got the storms.

    Every fc I have flown with wants a d-scan of the enemy comp. Not a local count. Having a live feed really doesn’t help anything except having eyes on a fleet setup on the other side of the gate.

    Besides that spies are so prevalent fleet comp, number and even ship fitting are already known.

    November 18, 2020 at 1:46 PM
    • Arrendis bubbaphet

      Yep. She’s so new she’s been at this more’n a decade. Just because things have been said before doesn’t mean they aren’t worth looking at again, especially when CCP has the institutional memory of a brain-damaged goldfish.

      November 19, 2020 at 12:19 AM
      • bubbaphet Arrendis

        Apparently ccp isn’t the only one with the memory of a gold fish. She couldn’t even seem to remember to acknowledge metaliminal storms and how they impact campers.

        November 21, 2020 at 3:26 PM
        • Space weather is too random and spread to be considered a fix. It’s also limited to null sec. Frankly, Triangle Weather has me unimpressed.

          November 21, 2020 at 9:39 PM
        • Arrendis bubbaphet

          You mean how one storm that moves at a rate of 1 system every 1-2 days impacts them? Yeah, that’s not a form of counterplay or a significant consideration except for the 7-system-wide envelope that one storm sits in.

          November 21, 2020 at 10:00 PM
  • Captain Jeep-Eep

    Just add homeworld style proximity sensors that will reveal those pricks.

    November 19, 2020 at 4:19 PM
  • Buddhamakessense

    Just think of it like a nuclear submarine, which could potentially stay under for months. Messing around with fuel mechanics is just silly and annoying. Instead, distinguish between passive and active sensors, and only allow passive ones while cloaked. Severely gimping sensors and communications would be a lot simpler, and more in line with the stealth weapons of reality. No tactical overlay, and only limited information in the overview like an object’s size and velocity with the exception of the sun/planets/moons etc.

    November 20, 2020 at 6:32 AM
  • Logan Lee

    I don’t know about burnout of the modules, there are definitely “lifestyles” in this game that rely on cloaking to survive many of which don’t have 24/7 access to a station, but I do agree that decloaking others ships should be possible, and they should be scannable, just not possible to warp to. A cloaked ship should show up on a Dscan which would allow you to gather your intel without making cloaks pointless entirely.

    November 20, 2020 at 1:37 PM
  • J Moravia

    The fact that *any* game mechanic has no counter-play is a serious problem and should always be fixed immediately. The only people who would get mad at “adding counter-play to a mechanic that lacks one” are the very people who are exploiting that mechanic for their own benefit, so their opinions don’t matter.

    There’s a simpler solution than fuel. A cloaking device, when activated, should begin a countdown timer just like reloading missiles. (It could be a long timer, say an hour or two.) But at the end of that cycle, it doesn’t auto-cycle; the user has to push the cloak button again to start a new cycle. Even if there remains no way to detect a cloaked ship, this creates two excellent wrinkles: 1) the few seconds of visibility (and showing up on D-scan) in between one cycle ending and a new one beginning, and 2) the possibility that an AFK user would fail to re-cloak, allowing his/her ship to be hunted. Everybody wins, except the cloaky campers, and I believe I’ve already said what I think about their opinions.

    November 20, 2020 at 5:50 PM
    • Carvj94 J Moravia

      I’d say 10 minutes or so is more than enough time for a cloak. Plenty of time for an active scout or a hunter looking for prey. An hour or more makes it sorta easy for someone to just set a timer to come back, reposition then go do something else for another hour.

      November 21, 2020 at 7:32 AM
  • Michael Ward

    The major problem with working on cloaks is in fact their use.
    For null they are a pain to the point that many would like to see them gone entirely.
    But then for wormholers it’s not just a small part of the life it is your life. Every ship you fly has a cloak fitted or in the cargo because cloaks are life in wormholes.

    I do agree cloaks are obviously a problem in area’s of the game but most of the idea’s in this article would be terrible for wormholers and fuck them over yet again and thus why it is so difficult to balance them.

    I did like the idea below though of the bridge rebalance taking bombers off of it as dps and making Marauders the blops dps LET ME HOT DROP MY KRONOS!!!!

    November 21, 2020 at 7:04 AM
    • Carvj94 Michael Ward

      Right but wormholers actively use their cloaks for scouting and hunting. Usually for short periods of time. So they should be unaffected by changes meant to end cloaky camping.

      November 21, 2020 at 7:29 AM
  • Carvj94

    Making cloaks have a cycle time and cause low heat buildup, a very very small ammount, is an interesting thought too. Eventually it’d burn out and you’d need to dock or stay uncloaked long enough to repair it. Plus cloaky hunters would be going into a fight with damaged weapons and a lot of high slot heat if they took too long or traveled far.

    November 21, 2020 at 7:36 AM
  • Adriaan Du Plessis

    The best option for cloaking is simple. Make all cloaks operate like mining crystal or laser crystals (not just covert cloaks, yes all cloaks). The cloak burns out, destroyed and removed from the game in 6 hours of cloaking (or depending on some type of skill). The damage is not repairable nor can a person reprocess the module. It removes isk from the game as well. And also promotes lots of indy jobs all over the galaxy (more resource usage). If you think about it. Cloaking that bends all frequencies of the electromagnetic spectrum must be generating a lot of heat and use a lot of power. So much that the equipment in question can not survive it’s own operations. The other thing CCP can do is cloak failing. That cloaking device has 30 % chance of failing to cloak depending on the module grade. And also for every several minutes a ship remains cloaked the cloak failure shifts to a greater chance of the cloaking device deactivating and/or burning out while cloaked. Promoting hunters to scan down and killing them and also to stop cloaky campers from just cloaking up in hostile system going to their job for several hours and then returning home uncontested. They will have to sit at their computers constantly.

    November 21, 2020 at 5:02 PM
  • ScorpionKong

    So you guys camp us for years and use the tactic all the time and when it starts to hurt you, you want it gone well sorry but it’s what you did too us.

    November 21, 2020 at 5:33 PM
  • Bill

    Wow. What’s hilarious about this is that Imperium has been on the other side of the argument for years. The exact same arguments about perpetual cloaking, cloaks using fuel, etc. As long as cloaky camping was to your benefit, you were quick with a HTFU response. Why should anyone say anything but HTFU to you now that you’re the one whining about it?

    November 28, 2020 at 5:45 AM