Droning Away

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.

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 26, 2014, in CCP Hijinx, Things I think I think. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. Dinsdale Pirannha

    Oh yeah. I forgot. Blob-sec fights drive every change in the game. If CCP does what you say, and I reasonably certain that they will, that means people running missions with small drone bays are totally fucked, as they will have to pull in what is left of a wing, if one gets destroyed, and launch a new wing. And of course, as you say, non-homogenous sets o drones are highly problematic, and will likely be phased out. That won’t slow down mission runners at all, not not at all.

    Yeah, that will be brilliant game design.

    You fucking blob-seccer’s are ruining the game. Rather, your whining and CCP catering to your every whim ruins the game.

    Fuck you and your kind.

    • If you look in game I’m part of a small low sec alliance. And you can’t destroy part of a wing anymore than you can destroy part of a drone now.

    • Core, don’t you know that the only people who ever write about EVE are from nullsec? 😉
      I mean, I’ve met that Mark726 guy in real life — he is in no way, shape, or form a hisec carebear archivist at all! >;-D

  2. That jives with a presentation they made on UI improvements at Vegas 2011… they showed an experimental drone interface that basically looked like a module, and apparently seemed to work almost the same way, with a variation of the now-popular radial button. 🙂

    So yes, it’s fairly safe to say, barring major complications, that’s probably the route they’re going with it.

  3. Technically, implementing game optimizations to better handle homogenous groups of drones (which wouldn’t need to be of a set size, as long as they as the drones are all the same) would not force people to bring homogenous groups: the game could ‘auto-collapse’ the homogenous flights, unless the player gives instructions to the opposite. But since drone management is already painful enough that people don’t bother with mixed setups (for starters, you can’t group them), so I don’t think the combat meta would change much.

    Just keep non-homogenous flights possible (for example for miners with four combat and one salvage drone), and people will be happy.

  4. I think you might be overestimating the degree to which grouping drones would actually affect launching drones in some ways. Going with the missile analogy, take a CNR (8 launchers) for example. The launched missiles are only actually grouped if the launchers themselves are; if you group them in 4/4 and fire at the same target they’ll behave as two separate entities and do damage separately. Change it to 6/2 and all that’s changed is that one group will do three times as much damage as the other. Also note that you can’t group different types of launcher, same with turrets, so the same thing would happen if you used a mix of torps, cruises and RHML like a baws.

    Grouping them in this way means you can just calculate the damage of one shot and multiply it by the number of grouped launchers without having to worry about different launch times and therefore possible different velocities (or angular for turrets), damage types/amounts etc.

    I think the same thing would apply to drones. Take the 75m^3 group for example, the two heavies would be grouped, as would the mediums, but the light would be on its own, which would allow for each group’s speed/positioning to be calculated separately, along with tracking, damage types etc. DCUs and the drones skill would probably still work the same as before, since as I mentioned with the launchers, you would just add one to the damage multiplier.

    The issues with drone cycling could also be dealt with in a not-too-bad way. Treating the entire group as a single entity for terms of positioning and damage application against it, but keeping HP separate and simply damaging the top one in the group (AOE damages them all) would be a decent compromise imo. The interface would remain exactly the same as it is now for the drone user and when they see one getting damaged they could still recall it, at which point it’d simply be ungrouped and act independently.

    There are still a few issues with this though, namely what to do after the drone’s been ungrouped; would you keep the lock on the separate drone or the group? Also what happens once you’ve launched another drone to replace the damaged one in terms of grouping? I think in that case they could be regrouped once the drone arrives back at the target for simplicity, sure the other person might decide to try and shoot it on its way over and then lose that lock, but you’ve gotta step on some toes with a change like this.

    There’s still a problem with sentries in this case, suppose you move a bit before dropping a replacement, in that case I think the replacement would have to remain ungrouped to avoid abuse (drop 5 at 150k, recall 4, MJD, drop 4, lol).

    The only other problem I could see is that against drone boats you wouldn’t be able to lock them all up and try and alpha the lot at once with ungrouped guns, but again, I think it’s safe to say “deal with it” since I can’t imagine that happening too often anyway.

  5. Robyn, I don’t have the time to dig up the original post, but I distinctly recall CCP stating on several occasions that module grouping doesn’t affect the damage calculation. The server will still calculate damage independently for each missile or turret in a group. The client displays the damage as a single unit, and probably receives the information as a single unit to reduce network congestion and server load, but the calculation doesn’t change.

    Condensing drones into a single ‘flight’ object might be interesting, but it could substantially change how drones behave, for good or ill. I doubt that the pricing or the health of the condensed flights would be identical to current flights of drones. More likely the condensed flights will have less than half the total HP of five current drones of the same size. This would keep smartbombing and shooting drones a viable tactic. That’s because when you smartbomb or bomb drones, you’re hitting several or all of them at once, so scaling HP directly would be a huge buff to drones.

    If CCP chooses this route, I wonder if they won’t create three ‘flights’ of drones — solo, trio, and quintet. To incentivize use of larger flights, they could make higher flights deal more damage than a combination of smaller flights. Thus a trio would deal more damage than three solos; a quintet would deal more damage than a trio and two solos. That would allow CCP to preserve drone bandwidth as a means of balancing between ships.

    That said, they could alternatively create new distinctions by limiting the size of drones which can fit into a ship. Thus, heavy drones would be restricted to certain ships, much as supercarriers cannot fit regular drones into their drone bays. That would allow them to have a single ‘flight’ of drones for each size, more or less equal to five current drones in damage output, and reduced-damage solo drones. The Drones skill could then be reworked to either increase damage, or sublight speed, or some other such. Solo drones pretty much have to be a thing, at least for light scout drones, because frigate hulls don’t generally have the bandwidth to launch more than one or two drones. Allowing frigates to launch a full flight of light drones would mess with balance in a bad way; removing drones from frigates would make the game more boring.

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