So CCP has decided to point the finger at drones for HED. Maybe not the whole finger, but a big part of, shall we say… a central one?
Seriously, drones have been a problem for a while, and it’s not news to most EvE grognards. Drones have become the new missiles. The system that stands out as a huge problem. I’m pretty sure I know what the solution will be. Drones will be launched and operate as a single element. Ships will only be able to carry full drone groups. These drones will do, and take damage as single elements, and have capabilities based on what are now full groups.
This would have a lot of ramifications. An absolute ton. The 75m3 mixed group would be… interesting to say the least. Drone cycling, where you swap out singlets that are taking damage for ones that are undamaged, would go away completely. Ships with multiple drone groups could consider it, but as is, the somewhat irritating. In cap fights the wings of fighters and bombers can cause staggering amounts of lag. Compressing these huge groups from dozens per ship, quickly scaling to thousands in the large null battles, to 1 per ship would be a huge boon to the poor, long-suffering hamsters trying frantically to keep up with the fleets of New Eden.
This will change a lot of things. It will dumb down the game. It will change how a lot of modules work. Especially on carriers and supercarriers. Smartbombing drones will have to be done very differently. The drones skill itself will change a lot, as you will either be able to launch a full flight, or no drones.
I don’t actually have too many problems with this, in some ways it’s dumbing down the game, but I suspect that it can be used to bring new players into drone combat faster, letting them launch flights of T1 light drones pretty quickly, where I see the most trouble is figuring out a way to keep DCUs useful. Brute force could be used, just adding a damage bonus that gets the stacking penalty for other DCUs, but not for DDAs. I do like the simplification that this change would represent, not only would it clean up the overview, (and formations of drones/fighters flying around could offer a really neat visual should CCP try that) but it would dramatically simplify the back end of large battles. Rather than calculating the position of thousands and thousands of drones you just calculate a max of one drone flight / ship on the field. This would cut the contribution to lag by a huge amount for each drone boat, and even more for carriers and supers.
This isn’t a panacea. This will not fix every issue currently plaguing large battles in EvE. It does remove some gameplay elements; but I, personally, don’t think that those elements are hugely important to the game, and their removal in the name of streamlining what has become partly responsible for the catastrophic lag in large battles, with thousands of players involved.
I suspect that this is getting a long look in Iceland, and I wouldn’t be surprised to find the CSM had been consulted on this idea. Even as a complete off-the-cuff issue.