Thursday, May 7, 2015

Why Do Players Enjoy Massive Fleet Fights?

I am an equal-opportunity player, in that I can recognize the value or enjoyment in every play style. I understand the fearless solo PVPer--they find enjoyment in fighting against the odds, playing EVE on "hard mode." I understand the tournament player. They refine small gang tournament skills to fly in an extremely competitive PVP environment. I understand the mission runner and even the miner--they find PVE activities relaxing and work toward goals of improving their isk per hour. I understand the CODE. players and other gankers, who wreck havoc on high security space inhabitants. Etc.

However, there is one play style in EVE I do not understand. I do not understand how players can enjoy flying in large fleets. I am referring to fleets where players must simply press "F1" to sufficiently play their role, hence the derogatory term "F1-monkey."  I suppose I can understand flying as tackle or logistics or Fleet Commander in these fleets, given that these roles, when done correctly, take significant experience and skill to perform well. However, the average "line member" seems to play a role that requires little skill besides (as a Brave advertisement eloquently puts it) a pulse. I do understand why new players fly in large fleets--such as massive Brave fleets. However, I do not understand how veterans of the game, in coalitions like the (former) CFC, can enjoy being line members in large fleets. If you've played EVE for more than a year, yet continue to participate in large fleet fights, I would like to know what value or enjoyment you find in this activity. I legitimately want to know, because it is the one activity in EVE I find completely boring and valueless.

As a solo player, I am sometimes killed by such large fleets. I often wonder what value they get out of being 1 among dozens on a kill. Is it fun? If they purely want killmails, why don't they just join a high security space war-dec group or RVB?  If kill mails and killboard were removed from EVE, would we still see the average line member logging in?

CCP's move toward making null security space sov warfare spread over multiple systems is a step toward de-emphasizing the 1000 player versus 1000 player fights and a step toward emphasizing skill-based game play, where coordination and tactical thinking win fights, not n+1 pilots pressing a single button while they play league on another monitor. This is partly due to the fact that large fights severely tax CCP's servers. It is also due to the fact, though, that such game play will not take EVE into a third decade, because after 10+ years now it has proven too boring to sustain a growing number of subscriptions.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Sometimes EVE Just Breaks

So last night I had some time to do some solo PVP. I had some interceptors fit up and ready, and headed out to Brave's new home in fountain.

At first, it seemed like the game was being extremely unresponsive. I would try to manually pilot and the client was hearing none of it. I was watching some PVP streamers on twitch and they seemed to be having similar issues--maybe just the server acting up, I thought.

However, I noticed later on the forums that others were experiencing a similar issue, and CCP confirmed it as a bug and are currently working on a fix. It appears that spamming buttons while changing state (e.g., going into warp) causes the client to not respond to input from the player, such as hitting "jump" on a gate or manually piloting. CCP stated that:

"We have been able to track down the issue, and it has to do with spam clicking a button that is changing state, that is going from inactive to active. We are working on a fix and can hopefully deploy it soon."

It isn't often CCP acknowledges bugs on the forums, so you know this is a legitimate and serious bug. Unfortunately, I died at least 2 times, potentially 3, as a result of this bug, all 2-3 times in an interceptor in Fountain. In the first fight, after killing a merlin in a claw and running from a BRAVE fleet I was unable to warp or manually pilot away. In the second fight, I warped 100km off a Black Legion cyno, from which dozens of tengus poured. I hit warp, I tried to manually pilot, I tried to stop my ship, but it was as if my mouse and keyboard had suddenly disconnected, and I flew directly into the BL. fleet. The third fight was pretty much the same as the first, though I am not as sure it was due to the bug. In all three of these losses, though, I at least killed someone before dying, so all was not lost.

This acknowledged bug got me thinking, though: What is the error rate in EVE's processing? In other words, how many errors really do occur on CCP's side? I often feel that the servers do not receive 10% of my inputs--module activation or manual piloting clicks or the like. I think many other players have the same intuition, when you see them spamming every button and spamming clicks in space when manually piloting. I think many players have the sense that EVE sometimes just does not receive your inputs. Sometimes, cap boosters do not reload. Sometimes, even though you click reload on some modules, the game seems to ignore it. Sometimes, the game seems to take a 1 minute smoke break.

But there are other bugs beneath the surface as well. How many losses, I wonder, are due to bugs or problems on CCP's side? I know for sure I have died at least 5 times when CCP servers have crashed, insofar as they publicly announce server problems. I would estimate that 2-5% of my 530 losses (or, around 5-25) were due to bugs or problems on the server's side. There are less bugs in EVE, I think, than in any other MMO I have ever played or researched. However, I think EVE has its fair share of bugs lurking beneath 11+ years of old code...

Okay, the real point of this post...

In light of this information LET IT HERE BE KNOWN THAT THESE 3 DEATHS ON MY KILLBOARD WERE DUE TO BUGS, NOT BAD PILOTING. other 525 losses? well, probably just bad piloting...