Tuesday, December 2, 2014

How to Fix Jump Clones

CCP is starting to look at the mechanics of clones, making a fantastic first step in removing clone grades--so no more skill loss, and no more clone updgrade fees.

I know for a fact that there are at least a few high skill point PVPers who will be PVPing more in null sec in cheap frigates after Rhea. The barrier for them has always been the fact that their clone fee costs more than their ship and implants together--a mechanic that encourages risk aversion and is long overdue for removal.

However, it is time CCP looked at jump clones as well. There are two things jump clones do, and these two roles are usually in conflict:

Role 1: Jump clones as a fast travel system.

Role 2: Jump clones as a system for swapping implant sets.

These two roles need to be separated. Completely.

I personally do not care what happens to jump clones as a fast travel system. It could be completely removed from the game, for all I care, as I do most of my travel through wormholes to other regions, or in interceptors. It is well known (e.g., from CCP posts in feedback threads) that with the nerf to jump range and frequency in Phoebe jump clones became the most powerful travel system in EVE and are the cornerstone of capital caches. On that basis, CCP has some good reasons for nerfing jump clones as fast travel systems.

However, there is another use for the jump clone mechanic, one typically at odds with the travel system, and that is simply that jumping is the only way to swap implant sets. This role of jump clones needs to be separated from its travel system somehow. Here's why: Many players (such as myself) have multiple clones in one system, with implant sets for different purposes. Skill training sets, specialized pirate implants (a slave set, a snake set, etc.), general purpose PVP, a "Geno" clone for the PG/CPU bonuses, and an empty or cheap clone for null sec PVP. Jumping into a clone in the same system essentially locks you into that play-style for the rest of the day, and the more specialized the clone is, the less options you have open for that day.

I have all of these clones and more in one system, and jumping between them shares the same timer as jumping 40LY away. That's completely inane by itself, but it also limits what I can do in a single play session / day. For instance, say I jump (into a station in the same system) into a slave set for PVPing in an armor fleet in LS. The fleet finishes, and I have 2 hours left to play. There's a fleet about to leave to roam null sec. I can't go, as even though my null sec clone is in the same system, I have to wait the full jump clone timer (20 hours or so). Such limitations are common, and if I could swap clones in the same system, I would likely PVP more in a single session (and likely roam null sec more).

Here's how to fix this fairly inane mechanic. There are lots of good potential solutions, so this is just one. Change clones so that they can be swapped if you are in the same station, and same-station swapping does not accrue the jump timer. Simple as that. Using jump clones for travel keeps its limitations, while using jump clones in a single system allows players to swap implant sets. Being able to swap implant sets allows players more flexibility and options in PVP as well as PVE. More options in EVE means more reasons to log on and be out in space.

Here are a bunch of other much-needed improvements to jump clones that many players have asked for:

-Multiple jump clones should be allowed in the same station. This is a no-brainer.

-Clones should be movable. I should be able to pack my clones up in a ship and move them all to a new locations, or make a courier contract for someone else to move them. This opens up the possibility of losing clones more frequently, which is fantastic.

-The jump clone timer should be based on how many light years are jumped. A 20LY jump should not have the same jump timer as a 1LY jump. (This would be another route to fixing the problem of conflicting roles for jump clones, as same-system or same-station jumping would give a trivial timer, if at all.)

-Probably, there should be a POS module which allows for storage of clones and for jumping to that POS. Maybe.

But really, these would be icing on the cake for me, so long as I can swap clones in the same system at least a few times during a play session.

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