Blog Banter #9 – Taking Things Slow

Welcome to the ninth installment of the EVE Blog Banter and its first contest, the monthly EVE Online blogging extravaganza created by CrazyKinux. The EVE Blog Banter involves an enthusiastic group of gaming bloggers, a common topic within the realm of EVE Online, and a week to post articles pertaining to the said topic. The resulting articles can either be short or quite extensive, either funny or dead serious, but are always a great fun to read! Any questions about the EVE Blog Banter should be directed here. Check out other EVE Blog Banter articles at the bottom of this post!

“Last month Ga’len asked us which game mechanic we would most like to see added to EVE. This month Keith “WebMandrill” Nielson proposes to reverse the question and ask what may be a controversial question: Which game mechanic would you most like to see removed completelyfrom EVE and why? I can see this getting quite heated so lets keep it civil eh?”

Ordinarily I like to write my blog banters in character. My topic for this month’s banter/contest doesn’t lend itself easily to that format.

Today I want to talk about scramming and webbing and why its current implementation should be removed from EVE Online.

Got your attention yet?

How many times have each of us had our hearts sink when we see the familiar “Scram,Web, boom!” of our ship? It’s often a game over mechanic employed by fleets of all sizes, and it works. The tacklers typically are thin and fast, rushing the established enemy primary target, locking them down, then hoping to hold out until help arrives. It allows for at least some diversity in these types of engagements.

But what about those not involved in those types of scenarios? What about solo PVPers? Or small ship combat? Or miners? Or industrialists? Etc, etc.

Some will say it’s all about proper fitting, and to a degree, I concur. Some will say it’s possible to have a ship that can be versatile all on its own, and personally, I have Rifters and other small ships that do just that.

For me, it’s just the underlying mechanic that is so bothersome.

A Rifter frigate is close to the size of a Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet. Now a jet flies in atmosphere, so there are some factors to be taken into consideration such as atmospheric drag, etc, etc… but for a moment, think of the sustained energy output required to forcibly halve the speed of a 747 jumbo jet. Have you ever seen it done? It would require a staggering amount of energy to slow down that considerable mass.

Now we all know EVE Online is set in the distant future, and that technology is well advanced, blah, blah. Irrelevant.

Look at Star Wars for a moment, if you will. Let’s talk Death Star vs Millenium Falcon. To me, that’s similar to Titan vs Frigate. I can see the Death Star having the energy grid needed to slap a web and scram on the Falcon indefinitely; no argument there. But could you imagine Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope if it worked by Eve’s Rules?

Death Star enroute to Moon IV – Yavin

COMPUTER VOICE: Death Star ETA, 12 minutes.

A look of dread crosses the faces of the Rebels trapped on the moon of Yavin IV. There is no escape. They pray their small group of fighters can destroy the Death Star, desperate as that may sound.

Suddenly, over the intercom…

HAN SOLO: I’ve got point! Death Star jammed too! Send me more frigates, your royal hawtness, and we’ll reduce it’s velocity to nearly null; that should give you time to send out some battleships to take it down!

Ludicrous to me, yet we accept it as players.

Frigates scramming Battleships, Interceptors webbing Battlecruisers. Puhlease.

It’s boring, repetitive, and flawed. As players, we’ve cried and begged for specialization on our ships in other ways, and CCP continually strives to give us such individualism while maintaining balance.

So why not adjust this fundamental combat mechanic?

Interdictor/ Heavy Interdictor – 99% energy grid reduction for use of warp disruptors, warp scramblers and webbifiers.

See what I did there? I just made things more interesting. A specialized ship whose primary role is interdiction.

That was easy.

If we continue to look at energy requirements as a larger contributing factor to interdicting calculations, we can safely say that even increasing it tenfold will yield more positive results:

  1. Larger ships will have much more effect on smaller ships.
  2. Smaller ships will be hard pressed to scram/web bigger ships.
  3. Specialized ships will be seen more in demand and as part of fleet activities
  4. PVP will be far more interesting in small gangs when scramming/webbing takes more consideration than just being your standard opening move.

Think about it for a moment. Frigate vs Frigate would still be entertaining as hell because neither would have the energy grid to sustain interdiction for a lengthy period of time given transfer velocity and the energy requirements to counter that. You would need to time your use of it wisely. Is the opponent nearly dead? Is now the time to web/scram? Crap, did they warp away too soon? Should I have done it earlier? Would my cap have held out?

So by now hopefully you’re realizing that what I am saying about webbing is true, but you’re thinking “Scramming and webbing are two different mechanics, Roc, and aren’t the same principle.” but they really are.

Sure, so far I’ve mostly been talking about webbing in practicality, sustaining a hold on an enemy ship fighting against that effect. Small ships can’t feasibly possess the energy grid to sustain prolonged usage of such a device given the other physics found in EVE, no matter how far advanced we think New Eden may be.

But scrambling a warp drive? Isn’t that simply disabling the appropriate system (obviously handled automatically in EVE by Aura as we can’t target subsystems).

Hmmm, interesting. Let’s look at wormholes. Does mass factor into wormholes? Yes, yes it does. Do you think mass factors into the necessary capacity of a warp drive for a given ship? Yes, yes it does. Have you ever tried flying a Titan with a 1MN MWD?

Again, energy requirements should be a considerable factor. A Titan must have a massive warp system that a mere frigate should not be able to knock out. Could several dozen frigates accomplish it? Maybe, but how long could they keep it tackled? Would make things far more interesting and specialized though.

I know, I’m kind of all over the place with this article, and for that I apologize. It’s just something I feel very strongly about for consistency within the rich and fantastic EVE mythology we have that needs addressing, and I’m typing my thoughts as they come to mind.

I hope you can at least get a feel for my passion on this topic.

So is it truly a removal? Perhaps not. I suppose it’s just a rework, removing the existing flawed mechanic and creating something far better.

  1. Diary of a Space Jockey, Blog Banter: BE GONE!
  2. EVE Newb, (EVE) Remove You
  3. Miner With Fangs, Blog Banter – It’s the Scotch
  4. The Eden Explorer, Blog Banter: The Map! The Map!
  5. The Wandering Druid of Tranquility, “Beacons, beacons, beacons, beacons, beacons, mushroom, MUSHROOM!!!”
  6. Inner Sanctum of the Ninveah, Kill the Rats
  7. Mercspector @ EVE, Scotty
  8. EVE’s Weekend Warrior, EVE Blog Banter #9
  9. Miner with Fangs, Blog Banter – It’s the Scotch
  10. A Merry Life and a Short One, Eve Blog Banter #9: Why Won’t You Die?
  11. Into the unknown with gun and camera, Blog Banter – The Hokey Cokey
  12. The Flightless Geek, EVE Blog Banter #9: Remove a Game Mechanic
  13. Sweet Little Bad Girl, Blog Banter 9: Who is Nibbling at My House?
  14. One Man and His Spaceship, Blog Banter 9: What could you do without?
  15. Life in Low Sec, EVE Blog Banter #9: Stop Tarnishing My Halo
  16. Cle Demaari: Citizen, Blog Banter #9: Training for all my men!
  17. A Mule in EVE, He who giveth, also taketh away?
  18. More as they are posted!

10 responses to “Blog Banter #9 – Taking Things Slow

  1. Hmmm. Interesting to think about. I’m not sure I agree that scramming and webbing are quite the same. It makes sense to me that a projected effect to disable the formation of the warp bubble would not require the same energy output as a webber. As an analogy, you can prevent someone from starting their car by sealing off the ignition keyhole, but you’d need quite a set-up to grapple their moving car to slow them down.

    Your point that the size for the target ship should be a factor is well taken. It makes sense that a dreadnought’s warp drive would require a stronger scrammer to disable it than a battleship, which would require more than a cruiser, etc. That would seem to be an extension of the disrupter “points” in use now so that larger ships need more points to hold them in place than they do now.

    I see what you’re saying about webbers. To actually slow a ship down, especially a bigger ship would require an opposing force greater than what the target’s engines produce. That’s basic physics. So how could an inty bring a bigger ship to a dead crawl with out expending more energy that the inty can produce? Webbers should have a bigger cap hit than they do.

    This discussion reminds me of something that has bothered me about Eve’s navigation system – maximum speed in space. But I’ll leave that for a blog post of my own.

    Given how ubiquitous webbers and disrupters are to Eve combat, I’ll bet that the kinds of changes you’ve suggested have about a snowball’s change in hell. But it’s definitely a thought-provoking post.

    • Not actually trying to say they are the same, just that the same principle can be applied to both.

      I do like your wording better than mine though.

      As for implmentation, would it really be that hard? We already know the velocity and mass of any given ship. Use that in a calculation that features a new maximum mass capacity on each relevant item, and that should easily determine whether or not you can do what you are trying to do, namely, point a ship.

      It also opens up an entirely new market for T2 and T3 items. Perhaps some scrams and webs can perform overmass capacity at the cost of some other functionality, like top speed, or signature radius.

      Really, I don’t think it would be a radical rewrite, but yeah, probably not going to ever happen.

      Thanks for the input. I hope the dialogue continues.

  2. I think the idea has merit, but it will have one unintended side effect, and that is the alienation of new players. I went on fleet actions for my corp within the first month, flying a frigate with tackling gear. What use would I have been to them with these new mechanics? And what about the interceptor class, that I trained to fly from those first great experiences? What do you change it into to keep it from being useless?

  3. I agree with your mentality that the scramblers and webbers are a bit flawed. However, how often do you hear older players pressing upon younger players their usefullness just for this “specialized” job within a fleet? Poor newbies would be left in the dirt until they got up some skill to fly the more specialized ships, aka more skill intensive ships. It would also seriously demoralize the pvp’ers, especially pirates, when their small frigates become absolutely worthless against larger ships.

    That being said, I think perhaps a better method to rebalance this issue is to make scrams/webbers/disrupters more along the lines of like ECMs. Chance based. Specialized ships would get stronger bonuses like the Falcon has for ECM. The larger the ship, the less chance a frigate or other smaller ship has of scramming it. Throw more frigates at it and bam. More chance of it being scrammed. Aka, more expendable newbs needed. 🙂 And the modules already available would maintain their current state, keeping in relation to ECCM of increasing your ability to resist against such devices.

  4. I suppose we can disagree. I actually think new players would become more valuable.

    Currently, a lot of new players are put off by the entire concept of webbing/scramming because it’s such a “game over” move, as I mentioned.

    Interceptors would still be valuable in large fleets. Let’s say we give a Titan something like 12 points to keep it scrammed. And interceptor can easily outmaneuver any other ship, hopefully able to draw off an enemy pointer, allowing the big ship to get away.

    New players and frigates still have the same value as they do now: ships are equally effective against similar sized ships. If anything, it brings more tactics into play for figuring when and how long to keep your point on. I would think that would be of value to a new player.

    I also like the ECM implementation idea. Nice one Selina.

    • Meh, maybe you’re right Sard. One of the things I most enjoy about Eve is the level of complexity. I think it’s what draws many to New Eden.

      For me, the more complex, the better. It’s when things get too dumbed down that we stop being unique as a gaming community.

      • Sure, but there are certain mechanics which make this world go around. One of them is sentry turrets in low and highsec, which Hallan did an excellent post on recently. Altering them, or the way points/webs work would cause an awesome shift in game meta & gameplay.

        ” 1. Larger ships will have much more effect on smaller ships.
        2. Smaller ships will be hard pressed to scram/web bigger ships.
        3. Specialized ships will be seen more in demand and as part of fleet activities
        4. PVP will be far more interesting in small gangs when scramming/webbing takes more consideration than just being your standard opening move.”

        Once upon a time, webifiers reduced speed by 90%. Due to this, big ship eat little ship was very much alive in EVE, and in fact allowing monsters like battleships to track agile craft like frigates. Devs didn’t like this.

        Devs reduced the effect of webs, then altered how scramblers/disrupters work. Now there’s a reason to fit Afterburners. Now having a webifier thrown on you isn’t certain maneuverability-death. Now the play of transversal, tracking & range is more important than ever.

        Ignore what *makes sense* from a RL or IG standpoint. Take it from a gaming mechanic standpoint. Frigates have their role as speedy attack vessels able to halt opponents while allies fly into position. It’s a valid, engaging and satisfying role to take on. It’s often the first form of PvP newer players are exposed to, and perhaps the most exhilarating task in a gang.

        Who cares that a ship many dozen, or even hundred times less in size is able to affect massive disruption in drives with casual is. That same ship being tackle can sick a flight of robot drones, empty the frigate’s energy reserves with a single activation of an energy neutralizer, or simple call in his *own* frigates to counter the enemy frigate.

  5. This is a good post, though I think I generally agree with Sard. The idea is there though. TBH I always envisioned the functions fulfilled by webs, scrams, tracking disruptors, etc. as stuff that ought to derive from one’s hacking skill, and their effects ought to be related to the CPU of your opponent’s ship and their counter hacking ability. If it’s shutting down my systems I want to have a way to minimize damage.

    I like the Selina’s chance idea, but wouldn’t want it to actually be a die roll whenever I tried to scram someone (or vice versa).

    Anyone play the old X-Wing games, where you could divert power from your shields to your engines if you needed to GTFO. Something like that might be interesting.

  6. A lot of food for thought here, and I’m not entirely convinced that you aren’t right.

    I do worry about the already mentioned effect upon the n00b community – tackling is an essential skill for involving newer players in fights, and as someone in a corp with many many new players, I’d hate to see them lose relevance.

    However, it seems that the answer is simple. there is already a numerical value associated with scrambling, why not with webbing too? Then give higher mass ships a higher warp drive value, which must be exceeded to scram, point or web them. So that carrier requires 20 points of web to stop, which is 20 frigates at longer range, or 10 at close range, or 5 cruisers at close range, etc… Not only do you offset your mass issues, but you get more tacklers involved not less. And you can give interdictors a big points advantage to make them more relevant.

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