The Problem with the C.R.A.B

2021-10-13

Header Art by Cryo Huren

Later today (October 13), we will see an extended downtime for a patch deployment. The content of this patch has not been announced, but many suspect that we will see the launch of the CONCORD Rogue Analysis Beacon, AKA the C.R.A.B. This new deployable must be ‘powered’ by a capital ship, and will spawn waves of rogue drones for players to kill.

Unfortunately, this anchorable structure isn’t a good addition to EVE Online, and here’s why…

The Content

“You are, by design, spending at least 14 minutes doing nothing but waiting.”

These new beacon sites rival that of AFK ratting and high-sec Orca mining for their lack of required attention, but at least those are activities where you can put watch Netflix on another screen and relax whilst doing it. The C.R.A.B. is a ‘site’ where you need to be paying full attention for roaming hostiles, but also spend long periods of time in the site with absolutely nothing to shoot. As it stands, these sites send waves of between two and five rogue drones, on what appears to be a background timer that releases a new wave every 1-3 minutes. This respawn rate continues as long as some of the rogue drones in a wave have been killed, so if you clear a wave quickly, you could be spending a while waiting for the next.

Some dreadnoughts can run these sites very well – my testing has been focused on the Phoenix and Revelation. The sites take roughly 40 minutes, and most of that time is waiting; for the beacon to anchor, for the waves to respawn, for the countdown to slowly progress. Overall, the rewards are between 130 and 200 million, accounting for corporation tax and without any adjustment to either the Dynamic Bounty System or the final loot.

Carriers can complete these sites faster and with more activity to keep you engaged. Unfortunately, they run into serious issues trying to tank the rats, and fighters keep getting attacked by the rogue drones in the site, making these hulls borderline worthless. Force Auxiliaries are completely unable to link to the beacon, so are only going to be useful if someone manages to design a subcap fleet that can run these ‘sites’, using a Force Auxiliary for logistics. As for Supercarriers and Titans, unless CCP has some scaling feature planned for what you bring into the site that they are hiding – and if so, why is that not being tested to make sure it works before it goes live? – then just don’t bother.

Ironically, there is one ship that actually seems to be capable of these sites without major drawback. They use a very specialised fit, but are more engaging and a bit less of a “Come here and shoot me” beacon: Marauders. Yes, that’s right – the most optimal way to run the new capital content appears to be using a subcap.

The Payout

“Why would I risk an 8 bil dread when I could just run a high-sec incursion?”

I was originally going to avoid writing this, but after 60+ runs, and speaking to multiple people about the matter, I feel I need to. As it stands, the payout is just not worth it. As with the design of spending at least 15 minutes doing nothing, these mechanics gets very boring, very quickly. To make matters worse, the site pushes you to actively waste time on grid so you can get an increased payout, which ties back into spending time waiting for waves to spawn.

I will note that I do not fully understand the mechanics going on behind the scene. However, I do understand that there are some implications when running the site that allow you to game it to maximise income. The site seems to spawn waves of Rogue Drone rats on a set timer every 1-3 minutes as long as you are killing some of the rogue drones. You could end up with more rats than anticipated, or you could kill a wave and sit for minutes at a time waiting for the next spawn.

This means that bounty ticks are pretty much locked to 60-100 million and you cannot create a larger tick by running the site faster. This leaves you with two options; running the site as fast as possible and making 75 million per site when including loot (averaging 200 million ISK per hour), or gaming the site to maximise the amount of waves that spawn (averaging out to 240 million ISK per hour).

That said, those ISK/Hour figures are presuming a 100% Bounty Risk Modifier and that your ESS does not get stolen. Once the Bounty Risk Modifier hits its minimum possible value of 30%, you could end up making 60-75 million per hour at most.

The Solutions

“The concept is great, but the execution is not going to get capitals into space.”

1. Multiply the total wave DPS by 1.5x – 2x of current value to ensure that this is a capital ship site. This will help to push capitals into space (as long as dread prices come down), as opposed to players using dreads to start a site and then finishing it with subcaps.

2. Increase the amount of rats you see in each wave by 5-10x (but with the same total DPS). Give them the Triglavian AI, but modified for Rogue Drones; this would make the site more interesting by allowing the rats to move about on grid more freely, creating certain ships within waves that fulfill ewar and logistics roles, and position themselves appropriately.

3. Remove the final payout bonus altogether; replace it with some kind of bonus loot payout for every 10 minutes linked to the CRAB. This will keep people on the same grid and not trying to game the speed at which beacons are run. This method could also allow for hunters to steal the loot within the beacon, if they manage to scare away the site runner before the loot is claimed.

4. Remove the 5 minute spool up at the start. Ultimately all it achieves is wasting player time waiting for the site to begin.

5. Probably the most important one here, make the drone waves and payout scale based on the ship type and how many people present. This means solo carriers can run the beacons without getting swarmed and destroyed, but also allows for larger waves (Maybe also an infested capital or two) when you bring supers and titans, or several people in dreadnoughts.

6. I think CCP needs to look at Triglavian Werposts and Edencom Gunstars and the content for the response fleets that they have. This would provide a better idea of how to make these sites work; those actually keep you on your toes throughout the activity. While those NPC event sites can be repetitive after several months, they are lot better that the C.R.A.B. as it exists now.

I hope these suggestions are addressed, because the concept of these new beacons is positive in theory. Unfortunately, they suffer in their current format.

Have you run these sites on SiSi? Do you disagree with our assessment of these PvE sites? Let us know in the comments below.

 

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Comments

  • Garreth Vlox

    These sites will be used very little if at all given that you are required to risk a 5-8 billion isk hull for for a possible 60-75 mill payout in safe~ish space. That’s like using a super car to drive people around for uber or lyft, it’s just not going to happen.

    October 13, 2021 at 7:46 AM
    • Sirhan Blixt Garreth Vlox

      The replacement cost of capitals is academic while nobody is building them. They are essentially irreplaceable and therefore priceless, at least so long as the bizarre Feldustry bottlenecks remain a barrier to manufacturing replacements.

      Anybody selling you a dreadnaught for 5-8 billion ISK is doing so from a stockpile or because they are quitting Eve Online.

      October 13, 2021 at 6:05 PM
  • Rammel Kas

    The sisi tests were concept tests, and CCP have said that the rewards and several other features were not final yet.

    October 13, 2021 at 8:47 AM
    • Garreth Vlox Rammel Kas

      They said the same thing about the ESS changes, they went live in mostly the same way they were available on SISI.

      October 13, 2021 at 8:33 PM
  • Guilford Australis

    I think we have two basic problems.

    (1). EVE is already an incredibly tedious game, universally acknowledged for its unimaginative and unrewarding PVE experience. Yet every time CCP introduces new PVE mechanics, the developers seem to be searching for ways to make an already tedious and unrewarding game more tedious and less rewarding. Between the Bounty Risk Modifier, the possibility of ESS theft, and the cost of capitals, these sites seem designed to be as unappealing as possible.

    (2). If CCP adjusts the rewards for CRAB sites upward to compensate for the things mentioned above, we’ll just get the same complaint we’ve always gotten from envious Reddit warriors who think nullsec blocs get to print ISK in perfect safety while everyone else is left to scavenge for crumbs. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned about CCP over the past five years I’ve played EVE, it’s that envious Reddit warriors are the only people they seem to listen to.

    October 13, 2021 at 1:57 PM
    • Bardghost_Isu Guilford Australis

      Yeah, can’t disagree on that one, however I do think that if they made the content within the sites at least somewhat more enjoyable they could mitigate some of the payout issues.

      I’m willing to overlook low isk/hour if I’m having fun, but if it is monotonous and tedious then I want good payout or I will go elsewhere for my enjoyment.

      October 13, 2021 at 3:11 PM
  • Confine combat-based PvE missions and “sites” to empire space as a brand-new-player activity only.

    Re-imagine Nullsec “rat” encounters: make them rarer, open-world occurrences that are less predictable, with decent risk posed to the player and decent loot (only loot) as a reward for killing the things.

    Make “ratting” more like the officer hunting of old– a niche occupation where you’d have to search around to find them. Make the combat difficulty worthy of fitting up a decent ship and bringing a friend or two to make things happen. Make them do omni-damage and have flexible application and realistic behavior (warping out at low health, using tactics) so that there’s no big incentive for players hunting them to run heavily min-maxed PvE-exclusive fits that can’t engage in PvP.

    I’m not saying make them diamond rats that will escalate until they frag your PvE-fit capital ship (and give metal scraps for loot), but put some spice in, make it worth people’s time loot-wise, and reduce the incidence so that it’s not an activity that can be farmed in a single place by min-maxed, risk-averse dudes flying PvE fits. Use it as a carrot to get people out in space, flying around, maybe even ~*gasp*~ traveling!

    I guarantee this sort of an approach would be better for the game than any static-site garbage gameplay variations: it could cut out the game’s biggest problematic ISK-fountain (effectively no more bounties, excepting small new-player oriented payouts in highsec and maybe lowsec), it could get more people flying around in space, and it could lead to more PvP encounters as people poke around searching for rats, gunning for kills, and then trying to hold the field to protect their kills. I mean jesus just look at faction / officer spawns: they sometimes even get blues to shoot at each other. Would be much more fun than CCP’s current implementation of static sites run by ships that can’t PvP, while would be “raiders” rock up to ESSes and either take shit out un-contested or get blobbed out by 50 dudes because everything happens on a fixed, public countdown timer.

    The more CCP try to micro-manage the way things happen, the more unsatisfying the results tend to be. Take things back to an open-world oriented concept. Death to static content. Death to risk-averse, PvE-oriented min-maxing. Make space dynamic again.

    Oh, and please shoot subcap hotdrop-based gameplay in the head while we’re at it. Hotdropping should be for fancy spaceships, not 50 guys in disposable bombers. Ick.

    October 14, 2021 at 6:53 AM
  • Nate Hunter

    Some ideas to make the CRAB better: Increase alpha damage of rats to force capital usage. Remove frigate rats from the site. Include carrier/dread/supercarrier/titan rats as common to rare occurrences. Make the beacon last for 30 min flat no more no less, as soon as a wave is destroyed the next wave warps in so the downtime between waves is just a handful of seconds. Every rat should drop tags like sleepers so that the faster you kill the NPCs the more income you can get.

    October 14, 2021 at 7:20 PM