The Issue With Numbers
Posted by Corelin
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.