Saturday, April 6, 2013

The bad touch

Much has been made about the recent bumping campaign against miners. James315 and his New Order have gained some measure of internet fame for their actions. Since the official ruling from CCP was that bumping is not an exploit nor griefing, I suppose it was inevitable that we see proposals from players about how CCP should change the game to protect the miners. I've heard some hilariously bad ideas, but I found I felt was worth a blog post.

Mabrick, author of "Mabrick's Mumblings," recently made two posts about the possibility of bringing collision damage into the mix. You can find the posts in question here and here. To sum them up, Mabrick would like see collision damage implemented in such a way that ships take damage to their shields/armor/hull/mods depending on speed and mass calculations.

For the situation Mabrick chose to describe (Catalyst bumping Hulk), it starts off as a decent idea. The calculations of such an impact using real-world physics certainly make thing look bad for the Catalyst. Might the destroyer pilot put a dent in the exhumer? Certainly, but his Catalyst is likely to end up pancaked on the exterior of the Hulk in exchange.

The problem is with the narrowness of scope that Mabrick's proposal looks at. Let's up the class of ship ramming into the exhumer. Now we have a battleship doing more than 1000m/s. Let's make it a Typhoon for argument's sake. Loaded up with shield extenders, armor plates, and reinforced bulkheads to make sure it can handle the simultaneous shield/armor/hull damage Mabrick would like to see inflicted. The Typhoon's not going to need weapons, so all of its powergrid can go to loading up on armor plates. That's a lot of fast-moving hitpoints and mass.

I'm not going to bore anyone with math or facts, but I'm sure you get the idea. Some system in New Eden now has one less exhumer, and one slightly scratched battleship. That battleship's not in any danger though. He's got buddies. His buddies brought remote reps. It doesn't even have to be dedicated logistics ships either. That Typhoon has 8 empty high slots. Plenty of space to fit fun stuff like shield, armor, hull, and cap transfers. No PG after all those plates? Rep drones will work too, albiet slower. Two guys in Typhoons can clear out icebelts in no time at all. There's no more docking up to grab another Catalyst after every gank, all you have to do is point your battleship at the next target.

What about situations not involving mining ships? I run incursions from time to time for ISK. Like most fleets of any size, they have an anchor, one ship which other pilots orbit or keep at range so that they can concentrate on more important things, like who to shoot or who to rep. There's ALWAYS one guy in a Machariel who forgets to keep his anchor at range, and winds up slamming into the anchor while MWDing at top speed. The hull of most 'pro' incursion ships costs more than one billion, and with deadspace and faction fittings the norm, the cost of such a collision could easily reach multiple billions. That's a lot of tears.

How well would the massive null-sec fleets work without anchors? If you think there's not enough fights in null-sec now, wait until people start losing ships to the inevitable pinball effect in large fleets. SRPs will get kicked in the teeth, until fleets simply stop happening because of the senseless waste of money they cause. Dreadnaught pinball is amusing to watch now, but add in collision damage? Ooooooooh.* Much like the people who forget to keep their anchor at range, what about people who mistakenly hit approach and ram a titan or jump bridge? What about POS shields? Your ship might not exactly be usable after that.

Ever dropped out of warp a little too close to a stargate/station/acceleration gate/asteroid? You didn't want that ship anyways, right? Station undocks could become ship graveyards. A fair few people who had a similar idea commented on Mabrick's posts wondering what the Jita undock would look like. Freighters take up a lot of space, and I've bounced off more than a few of them while undocking from 4-4. Add in the guided missles that gank-tank battleships have become, and Burn Jita becomes a much more devastating Bump Jita.

Another aspect of the proposal is module damage. If you're implementing collision damage, why not make the bit and pieces on the outside of a ship feel the pain too? It's a fair point. Nanite Repair Paste prices might climb a bit, which for could good for Mabrick (he's been known to post about manufacturing NRP from time to time), but pilots who can't be bothered with the stuff can just dock and repair their mods without much ganking time lost.

So where's CONCORD to protect the innocents? Well, Mabrick doesn't think that bumping should cause you to be Concordokkened. Reading his reply to a comment asking about it, it sounds like Mabrick actually supports the idea of using collision damage as a weapon against miners. So where does that leave our Typhoon pilot? He's got a positive sec status. No more negative ten pilots having to drag the space police away between each attempted kill, and no flying between systems in pods. There's no more 'one ship = one gank attempt' for a griefing pilot. If he plans well, he might never need to buy a second ship for his activities.

Frankly, having CONCORD respond to any ship on ship contact would be disastrous for high-sec. Did you just tap my Abbadon with your freighter as you were undocking? Ram my Rifter with your freighter while auto-piloting to a gate? Even if bumping someone only earned you a flag, your freighter's dead as soon as my buddies see you start flashing. The best part? The freighter pilot is the one taking a security status hit. CONCORD would be the ultimate weapon in the ganker's arsenal.

Would collision damage make EVE more realistic? Yeah, sure. We have submarines in space instead of anything resembling Newtonian physics, but things slamming into each other usually causes some kind of damage. I can't disagree with Mabrick about that. My only counter-point is that for all the "EVE IS REAL" promos we've heard, we're playing a game, a game that is already hard and complex enough. Forcing the people who survive the undocking collision damage to constantly steer their ship manually is just cruel and unnecessary punishment. Pilots won't be able to warp to zero on anything on the off chance you smack into it, and that'd just be a pain in the behind.

I don't know whether Mabrick meant the proposal to benefit or harm miners, or if he just likes the idea of smacking ships together and watching them go boom. I'm a fan of watching ships (preferably not mine) go boom, but collision damage seems to be a game mechanic that would cause a whole lot of hassle for absolutely no benefit beyond realism. Given the fact that EVE is science fiction, I (and I imagine many other players) are happy to have CCP handwave the lack of collision damage as "emergency manouvering boosters" and "collision prevention sensors."

It's detrimental to people in fleets, it's detrimental to anyone who undocks from a trade hub, and it's detrimental to the miners who are complaining about being bumped under the current system. The people who benefit from collision damage? Gankers and griefers.

BRB, buying a Typhoon.

- Sam.

Also, I'm taking this chance to promote Mabrick's blog to the 5 or so of you who read mine. I learned 90% of what I know about industry (which, I admit, isn't a ton) from reading his blog. While I mostly disagreed with his views on collision damage, he's always worth reading. Once I figure out the Blogspot control panel, I'll start adding similar blogs to the side-bar.

* Your new (old) meta is spider-tanking Drakes. Enjoy.

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