Greetings industrious Capsuleers!
This is CCP Fozzie bringing you another dev blog covering our Nullsec and Sovereignty changes coming on July 14th. Today’s dev blog covers the July round of our planned changes to Nullsec PVE and system infrastructure upgrades. This is the fifth major dev blog for the Summer of Sov. We’ll have one more blog summarizing the new system so that people don’t need to dig through five other blogs to get all the information, but this is the last blog that is expected to contain a lot of newly revealed information before our July 14threlease date.
- Politics by Other Means
- Summer 2015 Nullsec and Sov Status Report
- New Details on July Sovereignty Release Schedule
- Sovereignty Transition and Deployment
- This blog!
- Final blog summarizing the new capture system in one place.
Unlike yesterday’s blog which covered quite a few disparate topics, today’s blog will be focused on changes to PVE and system upgrades. We’ll discuss the changes made earlier this year, the changes planned for the big deployment on July 14th, and begin some discussions on changes we’re working on for later this year.
- Looking back at the Mosaic changes
- Coming in July: Pirate Detection Array
- Coming in July: Survey Networks and Entrapment Array
- Coming in July: Nullsec and Lowsec Incursions
- Coming in July: Nullsec Wormhole Connections and the Quantum Flux Generator
- Looking to the future: More comprehensive Activity Defense Multipliers
- Looking to the future: Encounter Surveillance System
- Looking to the future: Dedicated group PVE from Infrastructure Upgrades
At Fanfest this year we announced the last round of Nullsec PVE and infrastructure updates, which were then deployed in our Mosaic release on April 28th.
These changes focused on the construction and deployment of infrastructure upgrades, as well as mining yields and values in Nullsec space.
We reduced the volumes of Infrastructure Hubs and their upgrades significantly to allow them to be deployed more easily, as well as enabling deployment of structures from fleet hangars. We also replaced NPC sell orders for Infrastructure Upgrades with blueprints that allowed capsuleer industrialists to produce the upgrades themselves, including producing them in their own Nullsec space for easier logistics.
We made three connected changes for Nullsec, Wormhole and Lowsec mining, doubling consumption of Zydrine and Megacyte, rebalancing the mineral content of the Nullsec and Lowsec ores, and completely revamping the content of the mining anomalies generated by the Ore Prospecting Array system upgrade.
We also made some tweaks to the rate of index accumulation for the Military and Industrial Sovereignty Indexes, in preparation for the Activity Defense Multipliers kicking in this July.
All the details of these Mosaic changes can be found in this previous dev blog.
We’re still keeping a close eye on mining rates and ore values in Nullsec, and the results so far are very promising. In the 10 weeks since Mosaic, approximately 20% more ore by volume has been mined in Nullsec than in the 10 weeks before Mosaic. In the same timeframe Lowsec mining has also risen by approximately 11%. So far prices for Nullsec ores are remaining robust and the Nullsec share of all mining done in EVE is approaching record levels.
At this stage it appears that these Mosaic updates have done a good job of improving the value of Nullsec mining gameplay and easing infrastructure logistics bottlenecks without causing serious problems in other areas of space. This is a balance that we are hoping to hit with our July changes as well.
COMING ON JULY 14TH
On July 14th we will be deploying the next big set of Nullsec and Sovereignty changes as the second part of the Aegis release. By now most of you will be familiar with the changes to the Sovereignty capture system that are coming on the 14th (if not, check out some of the handy dev blog links at the top of this blog). We’re now unveiling another set of changes to Nullsec PVE and infrastructure upgrades coming with this July 14th release.
By far the most important of the Sovereignty Infrastructure Upgrades is the Pirate Detection Array. This upgrade provides a constantly respawning supply of combat anomalies full of pirate NPCs to fight. These sites are a key part of the Nullsec economy, and form a huge part of the greater EVE economy. A very large proportion of the ISK that enters the EVE economy every day consists of the bounties obtained from these anomalies.
This makes the Pirate Detection Array one of the most powerful tools for adjusting Nullsec PVE opportunities, and also means that we must act with utmost caution when changing these upgrades.
For our July 14th release we are making a series of significant changes to the effects of the Pirate Detection Array upgrades, in the form of added anomaly spawns.
The goals of these changes are to:
- Increase potential population density of upgraded systems
- Compress the gap in system quality between higher and lower truesec systems so that lower value systems become more attractive than they are currently
- Ensuring that increases in ISK faucets stay within acceptable ranges for the overall EVE economy
- Ensuring that different quality levels of Nullsec systems remain distinct and that Alliances see value in attempting to take better space
This is a tricky balance, and we will need to watch the results of our changes very carefully and be ready to make adjustments as needed. We’ve also been consulting with CCP’s research and economics experts to make use of their expertise and give us the best chance of getting this right.
In this release, we are increasing the number of guaranteed anom spawns provided by each Pirate Detection Array level from 4 to 7. This means that a fully upgraded system will have 35 anomalies instead of the current 20 (a 75% increase). This allows more pilots to operate at their current levels within the same solar system, increasing potential population density.
The types of anomalies added serves as the method by which we are compressing the difference between higher truesec and lower truesec systems. The new anomalies added to the best systems will be of similar quality to the ones that already spawn there. However the new anomalies added to the lower quality systems will be significantly better on average than those available now.
As an example, a fully upgraded -1.0 system will gain the following 15 anomalies in addition to those that spawn there now:
+2 Sanctums, +3 Havens, +2 Forsaken Hubs, +4 Forsaken Rally Points, +2 Forlorn Hubs, +1 Hub, and +1 Forlorn Rally Point.
These additions allow for more players to engage in their PVE activity in the same system, but doesn’t significantly skew the average anom value.
In contrast, a fully upgraded -0.1 system would gain the following 15 anomalies in addition to those that already spawn there now:
+3 Havens, +1 Forsaken Hub, +3 Forsaken Rally Points, +2 Forlorn Hubs, +2 Hubs, +2 Forlorn Rally Points, +1 Port, and +1 Hidden Rally Point.
These new anomalies do not match the average quality of those available in the best systems, but that are much better than the average quality of the anomalies available in current -0.1 systems.
We believe that these changes have a good chance of hitting the correct balance for Nullsec without causing undue disruption to the economies in other areas of space.
Survey Networks and Entrapment Arrays are system upgrades of mid-low popularity under the current system, as their somewhat random nature makes them difficult to evaluate. Survey Networks increase the chance of Data and Relic sites spawning within their systems. Entrapment Arrays increase the chance of combat signatures (complexes) spawning within their systems.
Both of these upgrades are a bit below the curve nowadays, and so we’re making some fairly large changes to both. The spawn rates generated by all levels of Survey Networks and Entrapment Arrays will be doubled in the July 14th Sov update. We will be keeping a close eye on the results of these changes to ensure that we don’t flood the market with the drops from these sites, and we’ll step in and make more changes if needed. However we currently believe that these new spawn rates will be much closer to the ideal balance for these two system upgrades.
Back in the Hyperion release last year, we made some changes to Vanguard Incursion sites in Nullsec and Lowsec. We increased the maximum number of pilots allowed in the fleet before hitting diminishing returns by 50%. These changes were intended to help stimulate activity in Nullsec (and by association lowsec) incursions by allowing pilots in the more dangerous space to bring more DPS ships to compensate for their less blingy hardware. At the time we said that we’d be watching how those changes were received and re-evaluating down the road.
Well we’ve received positive feedback about that change from Nullsec and Lowsec Incursion runners, and we’re now ready to extend that same change to Assault, HQ and Mothership sites in Nullsec and Lowsec. This means that Nullsec Assault sites will take up to 30 players before diminishing returns, HQ sites will take up to 60 pilots, and Mothership sites will take up to 120.
We hope that these changes will be well received by Nullsec and Lowsec Incursion runners, and that more Nullsec and Lowsec pilots will give this challenging group PVE content a try.
One final set of changes that we are implementing in Aegis is a set of tweaks to Nullsec wormhole spawning and Quantum Flux Generator upgrades. Some members of the CSM (I’ll let them identify themselves if they wish) approached us in recent weeks with balance concerns about wormhole travel for Nullsec entities. We took a look at their concerns and decided to make some tweaks to help ease them.
The changes we are making are not intended to kill strategic wormhole travel. We believe that wormhole travel provides an exciting and somewhat unpredictable way to roam across long distances. We are beginning with a set of tweaks to Nullsec wormhole connections in Aegis, intended to ease some of the concerns around WH power projection without negatively impacting wormhole residents or eliminating the ability of Nullsec entities to roam through wormholes.
These changes consist of:
- A significant decrease in the spawn rate of direct Nullsec to Nullsec wormhole connections (which are not the primary method of WH roaming travel but are some of the hardest connections to counter with defensive play).
- Small decreases in the spawn rate of random Null -> C5 and C5 -> Null connections. This change does not affect static connections.
- A decrease in the lifetime of Nullsec WH connections to 16 hours (most were previously 24 hours).
We are also making some slight tweaks to the Quantum Flux Generator system upgrade in our July 14threlease. These are intended as a slight buff to anyone who uses Quantum Flux Generators for PVE daytripping, while also addressing concerns expressed by some CSM members. With these changes we still don’t expect that most alliances will find the Quantum Flux Generators to be extremely valuable, but hopefully their PVE value should increase somewhat.
All of the July 14th PVE changes are available for testing on our Duality test server right now! They’ve actually been there for a while but we felt it was a pretty safe assumption that nobody was going to spend their time ratting on the test server without being informed about the changes first.
As we have mentioned in the past, one of the highest priority areas for continued improvement beyond our main summer sov release is improvements to the Activity Defense Multiplier. The first iteration of the Defense Multiplier is completely tied to the old sov index values. These make a decent measure of the most common types of Nullsec PVE and greatly simplify the transition from the old system to the new. However there are a great many forms of local Nullsec activity that are not counted by these indexes and there is a great deal of room for improvement.
In upcoming releases we are planning to make significant updates to the Activity Defense Multipliers to make them more accurately reflect real system occupancy.
The biggest area of improvement would likely be in expanding what activities feed into the Defense Multiplier. Unfortunately there are some activities that cannot be made to powerfully influence the Multiplier without becoming exploitable (PVP kills and Manufacturing jobs are the classic examples). However we are investigating ways that some expanded activities such as Planetary Interaction and Data/Relic sites can contribute to the index, as well as keeping the option open of including manufacturing, trade and research in some limited capacity if they can be made to work.
We are also investigating options around allowing activity by members of the Sov owning Alliance to count more heavily than activity by others.
Another area where we see great potential for improvement is with the Encounter Surveillance System. This mobile deployable structure was introduced in Rubicon 1.1 as a way for Sov owners to increase their profits if they are willing to add risk of theft. They are still seeing some use, however we believe they can do much better. The basic concept is strong, but they are in need of iteration.
We are investigating an update pass on the ESS in which we would simplify its operation by converting it to use the Entosis Link for sharing and stealing, restrict its deployment locations somewhat, and increase the potential value to match the higher risk. The ESS has great potential for allowing Sov holders to choose the level of risk they are comfortable with and receive rewards that match. A revamped ESS also has potential to provide excellent content for roaming PVP forces as well.
Expect to hear more about potential ESS changes in the coming months, as we continue our investigations and solicit your feedback.
One other concept under investigation at the moment is a new Infrastructure Upgrade that would generate dedicated group content for Sovholders. We have never been particularly satisfied with how the majority of Sov upgrade PVE content tends to lean towards solo or multibox play. There is huge potential for reliable and interesting group PVE content in Nullsec. Team Five 0 is hoping to be able to take what we have learned from developing Burner Missions and combine it with the new NPCs and AI under development by Team Space Glitter to create some compelling new content that would only be available to groups of pilots working together within Sov Null. Our leading concepts at this point make use of an Incursion-like scaling payout based on character numbers. These designs are still at an early stage, but we expect to spend the next few months discussing these goals with you and working towards some exciting new content.
Thank you for joining us today for this dev blog. We are very excited to be releasing the new Sov system for all of you this week, alongside these PVE and Infrastructure updates. Huge thanks to everyone who has provided us feedback all throughout this process, and to everyone who has joined the community discussions that provide us with such a great source of inspiration.
From all of us here at Team Five 0 and the whole of EVE Development, good hunting!
Combat Milestone Powers: The Knight
The time has come to start talking about the powers we have been building for the archetypes! As usual the standard caveats apply: We are still building this system, so things are liable to change. In fact, they are almost guaranteed to change!
Before we start, let’s cover a few of the basics.
Our Approach: Minimum Viable Powers
We have been building each archetype with what we think would be a ‘minimum viable power’ kit for that archetype to be useful and fun in combat. This means that the current list isn’t final, and some of the powers might even jump to other archetypes (or be cut entirely!) as we continue development.
You’ll also notice that this is just our first iteration of the combat user interface (UI). As such, we are also leaving ourselves room on the powers tray for the player to eventually slot additional combat powers (i.e. the ones that the player will acquire via disciplines, advantages, or class promotions). We also assume there will be another non-combat related power bar when we start building those systems.
In other words, don’t freak out about the interface!
The first round of powers was selected for a dual purpose: to build a set of cool, functional powers (obviously) and also to test the limits of the PhysX simulation in Unity. Each power often had a set of new (and different) components that would be useful not only in the construction of that particular power, but would also open up a new area of design discovery. The goal is to build reusable elements that we can repurpose in other powers.
For example, in order to build the Knight’s Shield Slam power, we defined what we needed first. This power should:
- Use a hold-to-charge-up mechanic to activate,
- Deal more damage the longer it is charged,
- Allow the player to rotate their facing while charging up,
- Display a small screen shake visual effect at each charge level,
- Guarantee a critical hit if charged over a threshold value,
- Stop charging at some point (a max charge level),
- Have a maximum hold time at max charge level and, lastly,
- Send an email to any player who gets hit by a fully-charged power to inform them that they are a bad player and need to get better (no, not really).
That’s a lot of new features needed to make this power work! Rather than hardcode it as a single feature, we want to build it in components so that we can mix them and match them, then reuse them to create other powers (for other archetypes and disciplines).
The payoff for this, eventually, is that our toolbox of features will become bigger and more varied, and it will become easier (and much cheaper) for us to build new powers.
On to the Knight!
Mechanically, the Knight uses mana to fuel any power in the 1-0 position. His left click primary attack not only deals damage, it also restores his mana in large chunks… the further into the combo chain the more mana is restored. The third power in this chain also applies a short duration snare to the target. Periodically, the Knight will have to return to the primary attacks to regain his mana and/or keep his target snared.
His right click active shield block power does a LOT of different things. It reduces incoming damage for the Knight, and for any friendly players standing behind him. This power is fueled by the stamina bar, which drains slowly over time. In addition, whenever he is hit, his stamina is reduced in proportion to the hit.
Players who engage a blocking Knight will also have a chance to be knocked down when they hit the Knight with a front-facing melee attack, and ranged magical attacks can reflect instant damage back to the caster.
Finally, blocking increases the Knight’s mass and reduces his drag values, which means he is less likely to be pushed around by impulses and falls quicker when in the air.
(Note that we still have more work to do on block to introduce directionality, projectile reflection and linking shields, but will get to those features as we build more components.)
We are constantly tweaking with this power, as we think of it as a keystone ability for the Knight… we want it to feel somewhat punishing to hit a blocking Knight. To counter this effect, we will at some point build block-breaker powers for some of the other archetypes.
This is a term you probably aren’t familiar with, so let’s define it. iFrame powers, on activation, typically remove the player from the physics simulation and render them invulnerable to damage while performing the power (a very short duration, obviously). This means if you use a physics impulse on a character performing an iFrame power, they won’t get pushed around. We are putting all attacks we designate as aniFrame power on the C key for now.
We generally try to associate powers that use this property with those powers that send a player into the air. We are also limiting both use and availability of these powers, since they step outside the simulation. In other words, we only plan on giving some of the archetypes access to these powers.
In the case of the Knight, his Leap Slam is an iFrame that launches him into the air and creates a physics pull (small pull on large characters, large pull on normal/small characters) on his ascent, pulling nearby players into a sort of ‘localized gravity well’. As he crashes back into the ground, he deals damage within a small radius (i.e. the characters that he pulled).
Next, we go to his passive powers. Supporting these required our engineering team to build procedural (proc) effects, and the corresponding reactive proc effects, before we could make passives actually do anything. This opens up a HUGE new area of design space.
Each character has an archetype-specific Retaliate passive power that can only be used when they are knocked down. This power, when activated, will leap the character back to their feet from a knocked down state and will then deal damage to everyone in the area.
Retaliate is treated like a hidden combo, so the player never sees it on their bar, it only appears when you are knocked down. This tech is incredibly exciting; it sounds simple but the implications are enormous. The cooldown on Retaliate is lengthy, so you might have to eat a full knockdown in some cases, if crowd control immunity hasn’t kicked in yet on you.
The other passive on the Knight is a hit point buff to his companions. (The functionality isn’t all in yet, so for now it just provides the benefit to the Knight… but that’s fine, for our first combat milestone.)
Sprint is technically a passive, but we don’t display it on the power bar. Depressing the shift key will increase the speed of the character (currently, by 40%) and rapidly drains the stamina bar. Knights have to be careful when using Sprint, as it could potentially leave them unable to use block at a crucial time.
The Powers Bar
Let’s look at the powers bar in detail.
The first power in the active power tray is Shield Lunge, this instant power moves the Knight a large distance over a short time.
Shield Slam, as mentioned before, is a charged power which has the capacity to deal a guaranteed critical hit if charged long enough. The player can spin their camera as they are charging up, we call this turret mode. Charged powers can only be charged for so long before they auto-release.
Shield Spin is a quick one-two punch with a stun component on the number two power in the combo.
The Onslaught combo series is really five powers in one. To build it, we had to support branching Combo Trees. Internally, we call the left side of a combo tree the A-line and the right side the B-line. In the case of Onslaught, the A-line deals damage and ends in a knockdown on the third power. The Onslaught B-line is all about bleeds and the third power has an AoE bleed component.
The next power, Of Noble Blood looks simple on the surface; it’s an AoE shout. Designing this one has been a bit tricky, however. It somehow keeps ending up with an AoE debuff on it, but then we play it and remember, “Oh yeah, debuffs are primarily a support role thing.” We pull it off and make it into an AoE buff. Then we go, “Oh yeah, AoE buffs are primarily a support role thing,” and move it back to an AoE debuff.
You can see the loop we are caught in. It did spend some time as a self-attack power buff, with a corresponding self-armor debuff, but we didn’t love that, either. We aren’t exactly sure where this one will land. We are pretty sure of the name, however, which we took from the original Crowfall class design where characters would promote from Noble to Knight. (Easter egg!)
Chain Attack is the Knight’s Get-Over-Here! power which enables the Knight to pull a player, or any rigid body object like a barrel or a rock, towards them. The power applies a reverse velocity to what is in the direction of the Knight’s crosshairs. This power is really cool, and fun to use, but early testing told us pretty quickly that it is really hard to use this power to grab a fleeing target in a non-tab target system. So in the latest iteration, we’ve gone from using a raycast (straight line) from the crosshairs to a larger volume for targeting purposes. It’s a bit more forgiving, and works a lot better as a result.
So, there you have it in a nutshell, the current slate of the Knight’s basic power kit. This initial kit gives him a few physics powers, very useful single opponent control, methods to avoid damage, and some fun combos. Combined with his baseline tank role stats, this should make him quite durable on the battlefield. Our goal is for Knights to use their bodies as obstacles on the battlefield, creating a forward line which you have to get around to deal with the squishy heavy-hitters nuking from behind. Even then, the knight has peeling and lockdown capabilities forcing you to deal with him before swerving around.
We hope this gives the basic Knight a good kit of potentially fun toys to play with and plenty of room left to customize! As always, excited to hear your thoughts and ideas!
1. Are you planning to host Alpha-/Beta Tests in different time frames so Europeans might test as well as NA?
JTC Alpha is a little different than beta. For beta, absolutely. We will have a dedicated server for Europe. Alpha, we’ll certainly try, but we haven’t set a particular schedule yet for our testing windows.
2. Will we be able to customize building/structures in our EK in terms of floor plans as well as decoration?
JTC Yes. Stronghold parcels have designated “buildable areas” in which buildings can be placed. Anyone who has been given administrative rights can place buildings within those designated areas. Exterior decorations (statues, etc.) work the same as buildings. We don’t have a plan in place yet for furniture, but we are designing the system to support it and hope to add it later.
3. Would you be so kind and explain us whether the adjustments by placing resource parcels are working as a multiplayer to increase or lower tax rates?
JTC Yes, tax rates are calculated based on the resource parcels in adjacent cells — so if I place a tax free parcel, my neighbor may very well the benefit of it, as well. This was done on purposes, as it is another reason for players to work together (or potentially disagree, I suppose!).
4. Old posts in the official forum – will you archive and make them inaccessible or are you letting it live as it is part of the story we are going through with Crowfall?
JTC I don’t think we have a plan for this yet.
5. When can we expect a more detailed information about the origin of backers?
JTC Kickstarter only sends country information on packages with shipping included, but they did give us our percentages outside of North America as follows:
- 31.8% backers are not from the US or CA
- 30.4% $ pledged from those backers
Our Website Stats
- 30% $ pledged not from the USA or CA
These percentages are really close to our web traffic stats. We also determined of the higher level backers on Kickstarter, 8% of them were from Asia. That’s what we have to share stat-wise.
6. Will you have ACE customer support for foreign languages or do you plan on outsourcing them?
JTC We will have localized customer support at launch, and it’s likely to be outsourced or done by a regional distribution partner. (This totally depends on the territory and how we’re handling it, which has not yet been determined.)
7. As a crowd-funded project, how much community involvement into development decisions are you willing to take?
JTC We listen to all ideas, and we aren’t afraid to throw out old ideas when a better one presents itself (as long as we can afford to make those changes!)
BUT, that said, we have a vision for what we want this game to be, and that vision is not going to change.
8. How wide ranged will your set of emotes be in the game? (talking about /dance and stuff)
JTC We haven’t spent any time on the design for this system yet. We’ll see what we can afford from an animation standpoint, but it’s definitely secondary to core systems (combat, stealth, etc.)
9. We are pretty sure you have plans on implementing Banners and Emblems for Guilds maybe even EKs – Can you tell us something about it?
JTC Yes. Players can create guilds in the game, and use a “crest creator” to generate a guild crest by combining symbols (from a library) with background and foreground colors.
We also offer a guild package in our store, which will allow guilds to select from an expanded set of symbols and colors.
Lastly, we have a “premium guild bundle”, which guilds can use to create custom guild crests, with unique symbols of their choosing (subject to ACE approval, of course.)
10. Will Crowfall have an Achievement-System and if so, character or account based?
JTC We don’t have a traditional quest system (kill 5/5 skeletons) but we may include a badges/achievements system. That said, it’s not core to the experience, so it will be lower on our development priority list compared to things like Campaign Rules, combat, crafting, seasons and siege mechanics.