The Issue With Numbers

So we had another big battle, this time in HED.  The good news:  Numbers were great and the node didn’t crash.  The bad news:  Soul Crushing Lag.

Solving this problem has to happen.  I see three ways to do it, and I think all three should be implemented.

First I’m going to do the inane thing and talk about why real life battles don’t turn into the Command & Conquer blob of Mammoth Tanks overrunning the objectives.

First: there’s logistics.  EvE doesn’t worry too much about these, but in real life the supply “tail” behind a potent force in the field, or even a not-very-potent force is often as large, or larger, than the force actually in the field.  All the fuelers, armorers, maintenance, admin, command, supply, cooks, and medical personnel represent a much smaller wedge than in EvE.

Second: In real life you have to worry about area of effect weapons.  Especially if you are against us.  Whether it’s DPICM, JDAM, or any of the menu of cluster munitions NATO forces can use, putting a bunch of tanks within a 300m area… not smart.  Clustering infantry in the open?  The gunners are drooling.  Even the insurgents came up with some innovative ways to punish allied forces when they got too predictable.  EvE has smartbombs, but these only work well up to a certain point.  Really all they do is murder support, and even Battleships can usually escape to wreak havoc.  Not to mention the server lag caused by these tactics.

Third:  Economy of Force, there’s always competing objectives.  There’s a need to protect your own supply lines, your centers of power, strategic terrain that threatens your forces, if you stack up your entire force, the enemy can do massive damage to your own forces and or infrastructure without even engaging your combat elements.

One of these (Logistics/Divisional Wedge) doesn’t really apply in EvE.  Almost any nullbear can fly something useful in a fleet and isn’t busy running munitions, fuel, other supplies etc to the front.  Back in the dark ages you used to have to warp off grid to the logi tower where all the logis hugged up and topped up your armor and sent you back in.  Yes this was a thing.  Even that rudimentary tail has been eliminated (thankfully, I can’t IMAGINE how dull that must have been).

We’ll replace that one with hardware/software upgrades that bring CCP closer to being able to handle battles like this.  This won’t actually fix the problem, because as soon as it happens more players will fight in these battles and the problem comes right back, but we can keep running on the wheel a bit here.  This is also probably the most straightforward leg of the solution.

Area of Effect weapons that threaten overly concentrated fleets.  Whether it’s better smartbombs, nukes a la Battlestar Galactica, Dr. Device, or something similar, the solution to the blob is a weapon aimed at the blob.  Hell let titans script their doomsdays.  Maybe not the full grid demolishing AoE, but a smaller, more concentrated (say 20km) area of death.  Like 200k of damage death. Oh you have your whole fleet anchored up on one guy?  STBY brah.  Oh 20 carriers in one little cluster?  The titans just salvo’d them into structure for the support to finish off.  Good luck.  Sure this will cause spikes of lag on the server, but it will make FCs think twice about bringing every asshole who can only anchor up and F1.  It might force them to bring in fleets in waves.  They might find entirely different ways of operating.

Finally:  Competing objectives.  Make it possible for defenders to force additional objectives in that system or neighboring systems.  For example the TCU, IHUB and Station all have to be down at the same time, and all run on the same timers, rather than in sequence.  Or if you take a system in a constellation, you can only do it once a week/month, whatever, BUT you can take as many as you want as long as they come out of reinforced within 24 hours of each other.  Something to incentivize spreading out.

I'm using it every time I can

I’m using it every time I can


About Corelin

An Eve playing Fool who occasionally writes about the shenanigans he and his minions get up to.

Posted on January 20, 2014, in Meta, Nullsec, PvP. Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. On the topic of splitting forces – I’ve seen some good suggestions for preventing impossible-to-handle large fights from happening for every timer – to make solutions other than monster fleets the best options.

    It mostly boils down to making sov fights more like Faction Warfare mechanics. Instead of a timer revolving around a single point in single system, spread the timers out in a number of complex spawns – to create the illusion of ‘support line defense/attacks’, even spread those complexes around the target system’s constellation.

    Then set some size restrictions on those complexes so some parts of the sov fight would be frigate/destroyer/cruiser fights, and set them up so things need to happen at the same time. You split up fleets, spread them up, and call for different tactics, WHILE the cap-fleet fight is going on.

    Obviously the whole sov process and structure would have to change, but it feels like the best direction for (a) more manageable load (a LOT less multiboxing if a guy needs to fly a frigate, cruiser, and carrier at the same time) and (b) more interesting Sov gameplay.

  2. Still pondering this issue. Most of the proposed solutions I’ve seen rely on extremely contrived mechanics to in order to split the blob across a handful of neighboring systems. While some of them even might theoretically succeed, they’re all prone to producing extremely bizarre results (e.g. offensive mining CTAs).

    Second, I’d note that you’re drawing heavily on analogies to ground warfare. Warfare in Eve is only somewhat similar to real warfare, but I’d say it more closely resembles naval warfare. And in naval warfare, engagements are very concentrated. Dividing your forces if faced with a capable enemy fleet is rarely a good idea, even if you have multiple objectives you need to accomplish. Rather than split your own fleet and strike/defend multiple objectives and risk being defeated in detail, you (and your opponent) are likely to try and crush the enemy fleet with your whole strength before going on to complete your objectives unopposed.

  3. One property of EVE battles that IRL conflicts never have to consider is the almost instantaeous deployment of combatants. In Larry Niven’s short sci fi story entitled “Flash Crowd” the availability of instantaneous teleportation resulted in many social problems. IIRC, one of the solutions was to divert people to teleportation booths that were close to the desired destination. Maybe something similar could happen in EVE – you try to gate jump/cyno jump into a stressed system and you end up in one of several surrounding systems?

    The only draw back to this suggestion is that it would encourage pre-loading the target system to ensure victory.

  4. Actually you could defeat the blob and force tactical maneuvering with a variation of #2: “friendly fire”.
    tl;dr: if there’s another ship between your line of fire and your intended target, roll to hit the interloper first. If a shot misses its intended target, it continues on (out to optimal + 2x falloff), roll to hit any ship on the far side of the line of the missed shot.
    Missiles don’t have “avoidance” technology, so spamming missiles won’t be a good ‘quick-fix”. Drones would be the only weapon that would allow one to “blob up safely” without the risk of hitting your own guys.

    An on-the-ball frigate captain could have fun with a larger-hulled fleet by flying between their ships, forcing them to take damage from friendly missed-shots. That being a big “thing” in space combat movies and games, I have NO idea why it wasn’t implemented in EVE, except for…
    The One Downside: unless someone figures out a godlike-awesome code for the friendly-fire thing, soul-crushing lag will occur anytime more than 100 people are on-grid and fighting, and that’s on a reinforced node. :-/

    • Missiles actually used to do that. They took it out of the game for the lag you mentioned, but also because people figured out about 3 seconds later that you could Concorde Dmissile using mission runners in highsec very very easily.

  5. I wonder if the solution isn’t a constellation control model, incursion, FW etc… But also a justifiable and supportable rationale for limiting fleet sizes is to impose targeting delays on fleets based on the size of the fleet or maybe more effectively the number of ships on grid.

    I don’t know if appreciably slowing lock times based on the number of combatants would help or hurt the lag issue but I think it would make FCs think a little bit more on what they want to bring the fight.

    Finally I think Drone assist is broken and needs to be fixed. I’m not proposing removal, I think you make a skill for it and add 5 drones per level so a Level 5 drone assist character is limited to 25 Drones total including his own.

    Personally I think anything CCP does to hinder coalition size battles, organically not by hard limits, and spread things out is good for EVE null sec because it brings the fight back to the corporation level. I watched a great fraps on TMC showing INK Maelstroms and CFC Domis fighting over a POS. Local was at 350-400 the entire 20 minute clip and EVE handled it like it was nothing. Think about that, 400 people, more than my High School graduating class, shooting at each other. You don’t see that in any other MMO.

    Sometimes people forget how far this hobby has grown. So far that we get upset at lag with 4000 in a fight when five years ago getting 400 in fight without problems was difficult.

  6. Im still shocked ppl fight null blob fights what’s the point……we used to have a huge aoe weapon on titans…….the fights still got bigger and bigger even b4 the nerf. Tbh fighting in a blob is dull and really only 10% of eve players live in null so is assume the other 90% figured out these fights suck or just are high sec bears.really all thats left in null is large groups making a few people trillions what im saying is that if you are a null sec grunt u are basically a sucker in a smarter man’s scam. But keep that doughnut stronk guys. The funny thing is ccp shouldn’t have to discourage u from fighting in huge numbers cuz its already not worth it to the line grunt. At least I had infinite sanctums and officer complex’s to run when I was a nullibear. What do the hucksters dangle in front of u these days?

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