Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Ultimate Question - Survey Results

Last June I asked on my blog, and on some forums, for people to respond to a simple survey. The survey was designed around the concept called the "Net Promoter Score" that is a current fad in the corperate world.

Personally I am a huge fan of the survey and have seen it transform organizations. As a result I thought that I would try and apply it to EVE Online to see what people say. I also asked WOW players on what forums I knew about the same question. I had over 200 reponses from EVE players, and about 90 responses from WOW players.

So... without any further adieu... Here are the results

EVE Online NPS = 21
WOW NPS = 21

Interesting eh?

Here are some of the comments from the EVE Online 'Promoters' (score - comment):
9 - I enjoy the real consequences of pvp/pve and would like friends to play with me.
10 - It is a uniquely realistic depiction of a lawless society, also fun, lots of fun
10 - EVE allows a freedom unsurpassed in any other MMO, basically the sandboxiness is awesome. Also, you're flying SPACESHIPS, anyone who doesn't like that is probably a communist.
10 - It's vast and wonderfully complex, it has SPACESHIPS! And it makes you think... A lot.

And here is a 'special one'...
10 - player name - hahahahahaha Nice try.. Rule #1 Trust No One   

Here are some of the comments from the EVE Online 'Detractors':
0 - I love EVE, but it's a terrible game. It has a terrible community, and terrible customer support (GMs often seem "out to get you"). You need ISK for everything, but the only way to get ISK is to spend hours a day grinding. It's a terrible, terrible game, and I love it, but I wouldn't wish it upon my worst enemy.
2 - Too time consuming - I don't want to ruin a friend's life or marriage.
1- The player environment of Eve is not conductive to making new acquaintances you could actually play with, and few people pull it off. Paranoia levels in Eve among veteran players are so high, that the chance to find a non-solitary niche for a new player is fairly low, and new players drop out quickly and most importantly, together. (A solitary niche is not worth recommending in the first place.) Which means that if I introduce a friend or colleague to Eve, I will have to BE the core of their social environment and provide that niche myself if I wish them to stay. That, basically means that I'd be recommending them something they cannot possibly enjoy on their own without me. The only way that could work would be enticing many people to do that at once and support each other, forming a straight up corporation entirely from friends and colleagues. That is quite a tall order, which makes such a recommendation not impossible, but very unlikely.
2 - Goon shenanigans, especially as they impact the Market and the overall game economy and player attitude, has made any activity for the regular player meaningless. Also, player attitude is childish in the extreme, especially on Forums. It used to be fun till CCP got in bed with and praised Goons.

For comparison here are some WOW Promoters:
10 -   I love the game, there is so much to do, and most of the people are amazing!
9 -  It's a great game to play with friends.
9 -  This game is extremely fun. It's a game where you can spend time with friends and other people. I've connected with a lot of people through WoW and people have connected with me. This game is truly amazing and would recommend it to everyone who loves MMO's.9 - In spite of its issues, I've loved this game for a long time. But I would probably only recommend it to someone if I already knew they were an avid gamer, because there's always been a certain amount of social stigma around this game in particular.

 And here are some WOW Detractors:
3 -  The games long life cycle means there is no one I know who would like that hasn't already tried it. Meaning I would just be getting back into the game with the same old addicts.
0 = After playing for 8 years the thought of explaining the mechanics to someone new just seems like a huge task. Things that I think are trivial probably don't come easily. Relating to someone brand new would be an extremely challenging task. The best I can do is point you to this blog post on the Elitist Jerks forum. It essentially goes through what raiding at 60 was like, compared to raiding in wrath. The points still stand and even more so now with Cata being wrapped up and heading into Mists. The complexity I went through was seeing the changes unfold and adapting. Now that's not the case. It's understanding what were once pretty crazy ideas and adapting those without any background.
5 - Depends on the person... mostly I would like to because I love the game... but it can also be embarassing.

My Conclusions
Personally I find the results of the survey interesting. In both cases players love the game because of doing things with other people (duh! it is an MMO). WOW players loved the large amount of content, and EVE players loved the sanboxiness/lawlessness. In both cases players have concerns about new players not being able to enjoy it.

What CCP / Blizzard need to do to improve...
It seems that bot EVE and WOW should work on helping players interact more with other players more, especially when new. This seems to be the key to move them from detractors to promoters. The resistance to this in EVE is that new players are intimidated by veterans, and veterans are paranoid about new players. With WOW it sounds like there is no simply no motivation for older players to work with newer players and this results in a large amount of grinding upwards to get to be actually noticed by other players. Game mechanic changes to improve these areas would be welcome and contribute to the success of both games.

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Butcher's Bill

I am sure everyone has heard by now of the huge fight in Asakai. 3000+ players are involved in a huge furball between two large coalitions with losses approaching one trillion isk makes for rather spectacular news. CCP must be all smiles knowing the huge publicity that this is giving them. There is literally no other game on the market that can create such an epic event.

Despite the headline grabbing nature of the fight I think it is important for players to understand what this all means without the hyperbole. Lets look at the facts as I see them.

1. The EVE-Online server can handle a fight of over 3000 players!
In and of itself this is a huge development. While there have been other similarly sized fights in the past, they were characterized by crippling lag, client crashes and complaints of players unable to load grid resulting in losses. While lag was enormous during this fight, with time dilation likely far worse than the 10% being reported by the client, it seems that most were happy with the ability of the server to give them a viable gaming experience. Considering that this was apparently on a non-reinforced node using older hardware (low-sec gets the old stuff apparently) this was all the more satisfying. Good Job CCP! This will actually encourage more of these sorts of fights in the future.

2. Super-Capitals are very hard to hold down and kill.
Hard to say this after such huge super-capital losses, but considering that there were reportedly 27 Titans on grid at one point, and countless more super-carriers, it is surprising how few were actually lost. The whole focus of this fight was to destroy super-capitals, and both sides effectively going 'all-in', yet most of them for both sides managed to escape. It is almost impossible to keep Heavy Interdictors (HIC) alive during these fights due to the massive DPS. Since HICs are the only ships that can point a super-capital this meant that loses were actually lower for the super-capitals than for support ships.

3. Given a chance to kill a CFC super, PL will engage.
The whole instigator of this fight was Pandemic legion having a chance at killing a CFC Titan. They had the chance and they jumped at it. This was not just an opportunity presented under the current political climate, they had apparently been working on this plan for months.

4. Given a chance to kill a PL super(s), CFC will escalate.
Once PL dropped in, the CFC responded with the full force of their coalition. Whatever the diplomatic situation, a chance to kill a super is a chance to kill a super and super-cedes everything else.

5. Without the help from TEST Alliance PL would have lost.
With a massive capital fleet, and a massive sub-cap fleet, the CFC had the numbers needed to obliterate PL's super capital fleet. While PL has a lot of heavy stuff, they needed other alliances to provide sub-cap support to save them. Top of this list was of course TEST. While PL is clearly the heavyweights of the HBC coalition, without support from TEST they can not stand up to the CFC. (PL < CFC < PL + Test)

6. OTEC is still alive and kicking
None of this had anything to do with Tech moons. Although relations are being strained, the steady supply of isk coming from the tech moon printing machine is not in play. Neither PL nor the CFC have any interest in breaking OTEC. The only caveat to this is TEST. As I understand it TEST does not have nearly the Tech moon resources of either PL or the CFC. Considering TEST military strength at this point, they are going to be making requests soon and something is going to have to give. Think Germany in 1900.

tl;dr: big fight, nothing much changed.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Retribution T1 Cruisers - Part 8 - The Omen

Part 8 -Omen
As many an Amarr player have complained over the years, the Omen never really worked all that well. It just couldn't fit the things it needed to fit to be an effective player. Now as a new 'Attack Cruiser' it has an extra low-slot, much more fitting space and a general bump in all other characteristics. Even the drone bay has been significantly boosted. Lets see how it does...

Here is an Armour Omen:
[Omen, Armour Omen]
Damage Control II
1600mm Reinforced Rolled Tungsten Plates I
Energized Adaptive Nano Membrane II
Adaptive Nano Plating II
Heat Sink II
Tracking Enhancer II

Experimental 10MN MicroWarpdrive I
Warp Disruptor II
Small Capacitor Booster II, Navy Cap Booster 400

Focused Medium Pulse Laser II, Scorch M
Focused Medium Pulse Laser II, Scorch M
Focused Medium Pulse Laser II, Scorch M
Focused Medium Pulse Laser II, Scorch M
Focused Medium Pulse Laser II, Scorch M

Medium Ancillary Current Router I
Medium Trimark Armor Pump I
Medium Trimark Armor Pump I

Hobgoblin II x2
Hammerhead II x3

Like the Maller, scorch gives the Omen the ability to do good dps out to the edge of warp disruptor range, and beyond. Not the heaviest hitter, but this extra range gives it great flexibility. Fitting is still a little tough with the 1600mm plate, requiring a single fitting rig, but otherwise this ship now works far better than before. Even the speed is great for an Armour tanked cruiser. Omen is a great small gang ship now. Basically zoom around trying to keep from being tackled while using scorch ammo to lay damage from medium range. If you like the Omen Navy Issue, you will love the new Omen at one quarter the fitted price :)

With only three midslots, a shield setup really does not work IMHO. There are better options if you are going that way.

tl;dr: Omen is now a viable option for Amarr pilots. Fast, tough, and flexible engagement envelope.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Differences Between Level 4 Skills and Level 5

One thing players, especially new players often hear is that they shouldn't worry about skills because a skill at level 4  is usually only 5% less effective then level 5. In fact, often the difference is much less. It sounds good, but it is not really true. What people often forget is that skills multiply. A 5% rate of fire decrease, and a 5% damage bonus, gives a 10% bonus. Having multiple skills at level 5 vs another player with level 4 skills, adds up quickly to be overwhelming. Lets look at a Rifter as an example.

Below is the quintessential rifter fit with all level 5 skills.

Here is the same fit with all level 4* skills:

* Note: Having all skills at level 4 is actually impossible since some skills (like small projectile specialization) require other skills to be at level 5.

As you can see there is a huge difference. A 19% drop is DPS is nothing to ignore. But that is not all. Since skills such as fall-off, range and tracking are also impacted if you look at the DPS graph with one ship going at full speed, the difference is even more extreme.

Here you can see at even the best range for the level 4 skilled ship, the DPS is dropped by fully 22%. Hardly the 5% difference that is often claimed. The level 5 player will not even be in structure when the level 4 player is popped.

While it is very true that skills are not a simple 'I Win' button; tactics, positioning, picking fights, understanding mechanics and all that do matter more; they do matter a lot. Don't discount them.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Retribution T1 Cruisers - Part 7 - The Caracal

Part 7 - The Caracal
The old Caracal was mostly used as an anti frigate platform. Fitted with Assault Missile Launchers (Now called rapid light missile launchers) it could clean the floor with frigates who assumed that it was fitted with heavy missiles. However since the heavy missile variety was so rare.... neither was regularly seen. With retribution bonuses are slightly improved to cover all damage types, but major improvements in fitting space slots and most importantly, mobility make this a very different bird. Lets have a look

Here is a Shield Caracal:
[Caracal, Shield Caracal]
Damage Control II
Ballistic Control System II
Ballistic Control System II
Reactor Control Unit II

Experimental 10MN MicroWarpdrive I
Large Shield Extender II
Large F-S9 Regolith Shield Induction
Adaptive Invulnerability Field II
Warp Disruptor II

Heavy Assault Missile Launcher II, Caldari Navy Mjolnir Heavy Assault Missile
Heavy Assault Missile Launcher II, Caldari Navy Mjolnir Heavy Assault Missile
Heavy Assault Missile Launcher II, Caldari Navy Mjolnir Heavy Assault Missile
Heavy Assault Missile Launcher II, Caldari Navy Mjolnir Heavy Assault Missile
Heavy Assault Missile Launcher II, Caldari Navy Mjolnir Heavy Assault Missile

Medium Anti-EM Screen Reinforcer II
Medium Core Defense Field Extender I
Medium Core Defense Field Extender I

Hobgoblin II x2

Huge difference! As an attack cruiser the Caracal has needed speed to keep at range, firepower to do great damage out to the edge of warp disruptor range, and a full tank to keep safe if it gets into trouble. Kil2 and others (with different fits) have already created videos showing the utility of this ship in small packs. In the past the Heavy Assault Missiles could not benefit from several missile skills, now they can so hitting moving targets is now possible. Besides, the missile effects look truly bad-ass. In fleet the basic strategy is to keep about 20km from enemy targets to keep point, and reduce incoming damage. Keep outside of web/scram range of anything likely to be fitting them. Be prepared to turn on and probably overload the MWD to get out of dodge if primaried, but have the MWD off whenever possible to conserve cap. If solo, keep out about 25 to 30 km, and only move in on the kill once enough damage has been done to the enemy to be assured of victory.

tl;dr: Fast, tough, hits hard out to warp disruptor ranges, the new Caracal delivers,

Stay tuned, next post I will discuss the Omen.