Change is Good

CCP Games' Team Five 0 published the first of a series of dev blogs yesterday on the massive revisions to fleet boosting mechanics. Essentially, boosts will change from a passive activity to an active role in fleet operations, and from system-wide bonuses provided through a fleet's hierarchy to local area-of-effect bonuses provided to ships within range of the booster when special modules are activated.

I will not recap the already published analyses on the implications of these changes, some of which I recommend to you here:

And Cue the Whining...

Reaction to the dev blog has been generally positive, but a few have thrown up their hands in disgust and demanded full refunds of skill points for leadership skills, or announced their intention to give up the game.

Some people just don't handle change very well. I find this perplexing, for two reasons.

First, CCP has been very open and public about their intentions to make these kind of changes to fleet boosting for years, so there's no excuse for being surprised.

Second, we now have skill extractors, so if you think your dedicated fleet boost alt is no longer useful under the new mechanics, simply suck all their skill points out and sell them in the market - or even better, sell that character whole in the character bazaar.

I've little sympathy for these complainants. In classic EVE fashion, I can summarize my reaction to their objections in two statements: "HTFU!", and "Can I haz your stuffs?"

My Surprisingly Sudden PvP Conversion

Personally, I am delighted with the changes, and I can't wait to try them when they come out in November. I have every leadership skill trained to V on Neville, and also on an alt character, and now I can finally put them to good use. I'd trained all of these on Nev way back when I was in E-UNI, so I could help out with fleet ops. I also trained mining leadership skills on an alt to support my resource gathering needs, and then extended that investment over time to include all the other leadership skills, anticipating the eventual introduction of on-grid local boosts. Now my patience will pay off, and I admit I'm feeling particularly smug about my apparently good prescience.

Suddenly, I'm an enthusiastic space bard!

Suddenly, I'm an enthusiastic space bard!

Let me emphasize how radical these changes will be for a player like me. I am a mission-running, exploring, mining, manufacturing, 100% absolutely non-violent industrialist space hippie. I don't PvP, as a general rule. I understand why people like to PvP, but it's never been my primary activity of choice in EVE Online.

Now, along come the new fleet boosting mechanics, and I can't wait to hop into a battlecruiser or command ship and die gloriously in the middle of a fleet operation, satisfied in the knowledge that my boosts helped my fleetmates and made a tangible difference in the battle.

If a change like this can convert a peace-mongering carebear like me into a blood-thirsty space bard, eager to jump into the middle of a fight, then clearly CCP is doing something right.

One of the reasons that I avoided PvP was that the old warfare link mechanics tilted the odds so heavily away from casual players like myself. Too many players were sticking their boosting alts in some remote corner of a system, and then getting outrageous performance out of their combat ships, making it impossible for any lone, solo pilot to win. Why bother looking for fights, when so many others can simply squash you like a bug, because of their invisible off-grid boosting advantages?

The new mechanics change all of that forever, and make boosts both highly visible and local. It levels the playing field, and adds really interesting new dimensions of PvP choices, tactics and strategies. I'm seriously considering signing my alt up with a more combat-oriented corp, just so I can try out these exciting new changes. To my surprise and delight, the new fleet boosting might be the one thing that revitalizes and reinvigorates my passion for EVE Online.

Mining's Great Porpoise

A little gem that was included in the dev blog was the confirmation of a new "Porpoise-class industrial command ship." We'll get more details in the next dev blog, which will cover mining-related boosting, but I'm excited to see mining get a little love, for a change.

The Porpoise appears to be a "mini-Orca", which can fit two of the new Command Burst modules (compared to the Orca's three), and gives a +1% bonus to Mining Foreman Burst Strength and Duration per skill level (compared to the Orca's +3% bonus). It sounds like an interesting ship, though I'm not exactly sure what application it may be best suited for yet. I suspect this might be the boosting ship of choice for mining ops in dangerous space, but until we see the stats, it's not entirely clear yet.

As for the Orca, I am looking forward to flying mine as a regular fixture alongside barges and exhumers, instead of just passively broadcasting bonuses next to a station or inside a POS shield. I sometimes do this anyway, as it's so easy to just throw ore into the Orca holds instead of shuttling mining ships back and forth to stations or a POS tower.

This does mean that Orcas will die more often to ganking gangs, but I don't think that is a bad thing at all. It certainly will be more interesting than the current, dull boosting mechanics. And anything that makes mining more interesting is a very good thing indeed.

Hooray for Hats

Rixx Javix's long campaign to get head adornments as an official option in the game has finally paid off, apparently. Confirmed via Twitter by CCP Darwin, hats are being introduced into the game. The first options appear to be just simple berets and baseball caps, but it's a start.

How long until we see more ridiculous options like top hats and ski masks in the game? I expect this will be Rixx's next campaign, as I suspect CCP's persnickety art department will be loathe to introduce such options.

I remember sitting in a roundtable discussion at Fanfest a few years back, when someone from the (now defunct) Gentlemen's Agreement alliance asked CCP for top hats and monocles (not the high tech ones we have now, but the old fashioned lenses), so that everyone in their group could look like their silly alliance logo. Everyone laughed, except the CCP art crew. They just frowned disapprovingly. I don't think we'll see any truly silly headwear in EVE Online anytime soon.

Perhaps we will see a new skill tree introduced into EVE Online: Millinery? With Advanced Millinery and Millinery Specialization skills, as well? Millinery Industrial Arrays, anyone?

Still Waiting for Upwell

CCP Fozzie confirmed via Twitter this morning that the new industrial arrays will be part of the November update. I was worried that they were being pushed back, in lieu of other features like the new boosting mechanics. But they'll still be out in the "fall", as originally announced. Since the winter solstice is on December 21st, a November release is technically still in autumn, though I was hoping for something in September. I'm still itching to get my hands on the new arrays, and try them out.

Fozzie promises dev blogs coming "soon". I'm both eager and anxious about seeing the performance statistics on these new platforms. I hope they don't spell eventual doom for a solo, high-sec manufacturing option. Just in case, I'm cranking out as many Tech II modules and ships as I can with my current POS-based manufacturing operations. This may be my last gasp for building things for profit in EVE Online, if the new arrays don't prove to be a viable option.

Meanwhile, I continue to wait.

Change is Good

I'm glad summer vacation is finally over, and the devs at CCP are returning to work. The prospects for an interesting November in EVE Online are looking very good. I feel my optimism about the game beginning a resurgence.

I'm eager to attend EVE Vegas at the end of October now. I am confident we'll be hearing a lot more details about CCP's forthcoming release plans.

Change is good. It shakes things up, and opens up new opportunities. I think the holidays are going to be a very interesting time for me in New Eden.

Fly safe! o7