Friday, April 12, 2013

Should Orbitals be limited by Warpoints?

With Planetary Conquest on the horizon, we got to thinking about the role that EVE players will play. Simple question: If the Goons park twenty ships in the orbit of the planet I own in null sec, should their ability to fire on the surface be dependent on good ground forces? Think about it. Can the effectiveness of those ships be hampered by average or poor mercenaries? What if they have no ground forces and are just there to raze the planet? I realize the implications are scary for Dust mercenaries but we say NO. They should be limited by the presence of ship killing weapons, firing rate, ammunition costs and proper intel from the surface [so they aren't firing on allies, areas with no targets or their own assets] but not by War Points. Yeah we said it. We believe EVE players need a proper amount of respect and privilege for being the progenitors of New Eden and we believe it starts here. Where is 'here' exactly? Here is giving them an inherent advantage based on experience, currency and the best elevated position money can buy: Being In Space.

At its core New Eden is about the freedom from confines and limitations. Freedom can be unforgiving, but it is also the reason great things are possible in New Eden. EVE is a hardcore game with no hand holding. We support realistic balance and limitations in regards to EVE and Dust interactions but its our opinion that developers should err on the side of making EVE too strong rather than too weak.

The current mechanic has EVE pilots providing orbital support and sitting idly by as ground forces build up enough War Points for a strike. It seems like an awful lot of thumb fiddling to us. Recently we saw a tourney championship game where HBC controlled the skies over a planet but could only watch as the STB lost the engagement to the PFBHz. Should HBC with realistic limitations have been able to saturate the planet at will?

Something has to be done to not only make EVE players interested in Dust, but to challenge the 'Big Blue Donut' power blocs of non-aggression and make a dent in the ISK they possess that couldnt be spend in 100 Lifetimes. We asked a few community luminaries [Dennie Fleetfoot of Dust University, former CSM Hanz Jagerblitzen, and ZionShad of TCD] their opinions and their answers varied a great deal:

1. Should orbital strikes be expensive?
GNN: Absolutely. 2M ISK for a single round of orbital ammunition would make it something people would have to commit to. Also make it so capsuleers arent able to buy one strike. Sell orbital ammunition in amounts of no less than 100.
DF:  The actual cost as to the equipment and ammo use for the capsuleers should be as everything is in New Eden, entirely dependent on the market forces acting upon it. I'm opposed to 'artificial' controls on the supply, demand and price of these items. Having said that, I believe that there should be a cost as to the firing of the OB's by capsuleers. As us grunts on the floor know, OB's are devastating to ground forces and once friendly fire is a factor, as dangerous to those that call it in as it is to the other side. So I think an 'Insurance payout' should be made to the Dust Corp fighting for the corp or faction that instigate the OB. This will act as a further incentive to Dust Mercs to get the job done more effectively and as a reward to those Dust Corps that ensure that they work as a team to get those precious war points quickly for more OB's.
HJ: I think it some form of orbital strike - such as the tactical strike, should be extremely inexpensive. This is the pinnacle gameplay mechanism supporting cross-platform play – and a major selling point for the franchise. It needs to be accessible to everyone that picks up a controller or that buys an EVE account, not something they need to wait a month to use themselves. I'm fine with more expensive strikes costing more isk, but the idea of isk as a limiting mechanism in general is pretty hilarious, strikes would have to be absurdly expensive (hundreds of millions of isk) in order to slow down their usage. We could be talking Dust-only isk of course, but than we're back to ground-based limiters, and war points are working fine at the moment and are accessible to everyone who plays, unlike an arbitrary (and expensive) isk barrier.
ZS: Cost should depend on situation. Now if we are talking only on ammo then the pricing could be a bit higher.

2. How often should ships with orbital ammunition be able to fire?
GNN: Here is where balance can shine. Perhaps orbital ammunition requires a three minute cooldown, Maybe its five minutes. Either way its best to have a system where strikes cant be spammed endlessly.
DF: I believe that the current mechanic of squad War Point accumulation for an OB shouldn't change. However, once squads go up to 6 and beyond (should the technological obstacles be overcome by CCP), then OB frequency in battle will increase. So careful monitoring of the WP ceiling should be done in the beta so that the ground based wet-work of a contract is performed by the Dust Mercs and not by the capsuleers who are paying them.
HJ: I think right now the timing is pretty good. A couple of strikes per team, per match. Here I see map size being the restriction more than anything. Double the size of the map and double the number of participants? Than matches can accomodate more strikes without the frequency becoming obnoxious. But for the time being, some design mechanism is needed in order to pace how many strikes are dropped in a typical match.
ZS: As often as situation and criteria allows them. Now I believe though that there should be other criteria that allows for the firing of OB’s outside of standard war points. I want EVE pilots to have the ability to fire on their own accord, but in order to do so they would need to meet certain circumstances and be able to see or know where they are firing.

Should their ability to fire on the surface be dependent on good ground forces?
GNN: Yes and No. We like limitations but we're hoping for an alternative to War Points. It shouldn't be the only way to gain the intel necessary for a strike from orbit.
HJ:  YES. The bottom line is that no matter how fun or "hardcore" or "sandboxy" or "EVE-like" unrestricted orbital drops sounds conceptually, it's simply terrible game design if we are talking anything outside of 0.0 space, and 0.0 space only. We can fantasize all we want, but if EVE players are handed the ability to shit all over Dustbunnies in any kind of unlimited fashion, that's exactly what they'll do. You think your spawning problems are bad now? Try spawning into matches where orbitals are already dropping. The result would be an unplayable game that is not going to attact new players, isn't going to be fun for veteran players, and a game that forces every single Dust player to have coordinated aerial superiority (not just presence) in order to achieve anything even remotely playable. And in low-sec, where we will first see planetary ownership, the ability to "control" space is even more limited than in 0.0. There are no bubbles, no bombs, no static gatecamps that can keep undesireables at bay. There is no limit to the size of fleets that you will see, and unlike 0.0, lowsec is extremely easy to traverse quickly in ships like destroyers. EVE players are extremely efficient at disseminating information quickly, and you'll quickly see planets being monitored for signs of activity and blobs of bored pilots terrorizing Dust matches given the capability to do so. A call from the ground is a mandatory design mechanism for most cases.

Can the effectiveness of those ships be hampered by average or poor mercenaries?
GNN: To an extent, yes. If they aren't alive long enough to gain a foothold the power of a huge fleet should be affected. But we don't want to see a fleet reduced to spectators as a result.
HJ: I certainly hope so. You shouldn't have to be loaded in order to defend yourself, and if you're seriously suggesting that players drop strikes anywhere, anytime, than poor mercenaries must ABSOLUTELY have access to an array of defense mechanisms against airborne attack.

3. What role should planetary weapons play?
GNN: If there is one sure way to limit certain behaviors its consequences. We are big fans of orbital weapons that do automatic damage when a ship is in range [but still have cooldowns]. This would add a necessary risk to attacking planets.
DF: I'm assuming you mean the weaponry systems that enable Mercs to fire back at the capsuleers. These should also be controlled by the WP system but not separate from OB's. The same WP pool should be used but with a higher ceiling for the firing back at Eve pilots. That way the Dust Corps have a further tactical decision. Call an OB in or save the WP to take out the enemy ability to take fire an OB on them? This will add more balance and also the Dust Corps that are able get WP's quickly enough to fire on your enemy in space are going to get a reputation as being the best and can charge accordingly.
HJ: Yes Please! These are very necessary.
ZS:  Informational, Electronic Warfare and pure raw fire power should all be the tools for war fare from these planets. Each of these and their effects should be given reasonable range and the ability to aid in space conflict.

4. Is Friendly Fire on ground forces a factor?
GNN: It better be. If we see another strike that kills enemies while friendlies walk through unaffected we'll scream. That must be some sunscreen theyre wearing.
DF: Absolutely. In Pub matches keep it turned off. Until the Training Room's come online this is the way that most corps practice together. However, for corp matches, in high, low or null-sec, it should be turned on and as soon as possible. There are number of tactics being used in Corp battles that take advantage of the lack of friendly fire, by Corps who's only goal is to win. That is not thinking long term. The continued use of such tactics is going to put a lot of Corps who use them at a major disadvantage once friendly fire is on because they won't know any other way of winning. In DUST University we've been drumming into our players implants to think where your squad mates are and to not get in their line of sight. This kind of thinking is going to give those that train with us a major advantage once they leave us to find gainful employment. Friendly fire should also be severely punished with the removal of War Points gained in a battle. If you get 50 for a kill, then you lose 250 for every friendly kill. Team killers are going to cost you the ability to call in OB's and firing on Eve pilots. Eve pilots that fire on friendly's should also be flagged by Crime-watch in Eve as having suspect status, opening them up to attack. This will further discourage friendly fire in Dust Corps. Which Eve corp is going to pay for the privilege of being flagged as a suspect by the incompetence of a Dust Corp? As a side note it also allows for the possibility of betrayal and the consequences in the sand box. Bribery should be an option available to players.
HJ: It should be, for any matches involving "SRS bizness" warfare. Planetary conquest battles, possible Faction Warfare, certainly 0.0 stuff when it finally arrives. But for public matches? Friendly Fire becomes more of a nuisance than a tool to force tactical choice, and no amount of vote/kick system will prevent it from needing to be used frequently enough to not be obnoxious for the casual gamer.
ZS: Very much because pub matches and Corp battles are in all accounts reckless. How often do you see a scout/shotgunner run through a barrage of Heavy HMG gun fire from his team mate as he goes in to a crowd of reds and gets clean up kill’s. Friendly Fire brings reality to these battles and I welcome it. Tactic and training will mean more and you will start to see more use of fire lines and less run-n-gun micro duals. 

What if they have no ground forces and are just here to shower the planet?
GNN: This is the million question. Do you allow this? We say yes. But this is where your planetary weapons come into play. making them unable to be targeted from orbit provides a deterrent rather than simply blocking certain behavior. The threat of losing ships without inflicting damage on the enemy could be a great element of balance.
HJ: Well, than they're not really looking to "play" the game between the two games, now are they? One-sided attacks without having anything at stake on the ground or anything to gain (and little to risk in the process) aren't gameplay, they're griefplay. And while this may be acceptable in the context of a single game like EVE, at least mining fleets can organize and defend themselves, or warp away. Dust players cannot, and so "scorched earth" play must be extremely limited and reserved for areas where organizations have access to a full array of defense options against enemy fleet activity in the area. Additionally, "scorched earth" strikes need to be reserved for a situation where there is some strategic advantage to ending the match in a suicidal manner. If the advanced metagame isn't developed enough to provide reasons to use "The Only Way to be Sure", than I don't want Titan bombardments added just for epeen waving and tear collecting.

5. So what do War Points symbolize for ships in orbit, then?
GNN: To us they signify intel in a sense. Your troops are succeeding on the battlefield and are collecting the proper information to tell your orbital forces where the enemy is.
 DF: To me, War Points symbolise how well your Corp is doing against others in the leader-boards but only as an approximation. I know that there are changes coming to the leader-boards and soon there going to be other criteria by which a Corp is judged. What is the point of having a 10% war point lead in the tables against the corp below you, only for you to be burning through twice the amount of ISK and Aur as they do. To a Eve corporation, looking to employ a Merc Corp on a long term basis, how efficient you are in your job is going to be a major factor, particularly if it comes (as I suspect it will) that they have to foot the bill for the merc gear to fight those battles.
HJ: Oh, I have no idea really. They are what they are, an arbitrary (and who knows, possibly temporary) design mechanism that limits the rate of skill accumulation and orbital strikes that can be called. I don't really think they need to have a real-world explanation for their existence any more than the concept of a "killstreak" does in other games. There's a few backwards elements to the concept that irk me – Why would a highly skilled, successful team that is performing well in a battle need the additional support of an orbital drop? If you think about it, the current design is more akin to rubbing salt in the enemy's wound – not something that pulls you out of a tight spot.
However, I do think there's some other more counterintuitive ways that the design team could explore point accumulation for orbital strikes. Anyone familar with "limit breaks" from the Final Fantasy games? These are special attacks built up after taking a beating – an idea that has a lot of potential for creating interesting strike circumstances that turn the tide of a battle and do more than simply allow a winning team to win harder.
ZS: Sometimes just a waste of time. You’re in low sec and in times without a fleet waiting for the opportunity that may never come to fire down on a planet. This brings me back to allowing circumstances that can be met by and EVE player to grant an OB to the team he is supporting. Awarding only the team that is already winning the ability to rain more destruction is unbalanced. In some situation where you’re losing, one OB could turn the tide of battle, like to takeout that one tank ripping through your vehicles or the ability to take out that advancing platoon giving you enough time to regroup and make that final heroic push towards an objective. War points only symbolize a gamble to EVE pilots and I look forward to change.

6. Should ground troops have the ability to mark targets?
GNN: Well of course, but this can't be something as simple as a button press that unleashes hell. here's an asset one of our writers dreamt up.
 DF: If you mean specific targets for OB's, then no. OB's should remain an area effect weapon only. Tank, LAV and dropship pilots should be given the chance to escape the blast area of an OB when that noise is heard. Whats the point of putting skill points into the speed of their vehicle if there is no possible escape in an OB. The skill in OB is not just in getting the WP's to unleash them in the first place, but also timing the impact to do the most damage.
HJ: Yup, and that's what our squad leaders are doing everytime we call down a strike. I don't know if a physical markerlight is needed at this point, its so far in the future I think some sort of digital map coordinates should suffice. What I think is needed here isn't as much more target marking tools as much as fixes to the scanning system. If those mechanics were functioning well, attractive, and easy to understand, the scout class would really come into its own as being the eyes of the battlefield and the key
component in landing strikes that deliver the most pain.

7. What are the benefits of free-flowing orbital strikes?
 GNN: Providing realistic limitations to orbitals keeps the EVE standard of hardcore, open gameplay alive.
 DF: The benefits of OB are an obvious and tangible link between the games and the chance to iterate and build on that link. Who knows what CCP have planned for this in the next 5 years? I imagine corp only lounges on the PS3, like the one on PS Home now, but where Capsuleers and Mercs can mingle in real time and discuss all sorts of shady deals.

8. Describe the disadvantages of orbital strike freedom:
 GNN: We don't see any. Null sec is a harsh place and gameplay shouldnt nerf EVE players just to make console players safe.
 DF: The only disadvantage I can see is the continued stroking of the Capsuleer ego. This will be tempered in time when Merc's can infiltrate their Dreadnoughts, Carriers and Titan's, eject their pod and sell the sell the ship to the highest bidder. Whats the good of having massive ship based weapons firing out, when the enemy is inside your ship?

9. But arent planets too big for ships to fire blind?
GNN: Sure they are. Firing blind onto a planet from orbit should have zero chance of hitting an intended target. Ships should require target intel, now whether it is obtained discreetly by a scouting mission, orbital designator or in an all out assault by planetary forces is up to the antagonist.
DF:  A planet is huge so they should easily hit it easily enough. But hitting where it's needed, that needs intel, boots on the ground. Dust should be no different. If it was, then why the need to make Dust 514 in the first place?
ZS: Yes and that is why they would need to see an over head map much like the one we have in Dust today. This would come with the risk of not seeing what is going on in the space around you, but at the same time give you eyes on the planet to hit your desired target. Blind fire will never happen in New Eden.

As always, we'll continue to attempt to help promote and publish ideas that help establish, enhance and grow the Dust 514 community as much as we can. Have any ideas that need sharing? Would you like to join our staff as a writer? Be sure to contact us at


  1. give me access to planetary weapons that can shoot down eve ships and they can attack all they like.

  2. this is a horrible idea, what's to stop someone just having a fleet of EvE ships even with the cool down they will be able to fire an orbital every 60 seconds and all they would need to do that is one guy keeping tabs on the other team and one guy calling them all in.

    your solution would put all the power in the EvE pilots court and make it easy for them to break the game in anywhere but high-sec.

    1. did u even read it? obv not cuz it says nothing about spamming orbitals.


    2. 2. How often should ships with orbital ammunition be able to fire?
      GNN: Here is where balance can shine. Perhaps orbital ammunition requires a three minute cooldown, Maybe its five minutes. Either way its best to have a system where strikes cant be spammed endlessly

      now sir if you read my post which you clearly didnt you would see that i said if they have a fleet of ships. you wouldnt even need a fleet if you were fighting a corp with no eve support.

      get 5 eve pilots of your own and you would be able to fire an orbital a minute (with a 5 min cool-down) if you had 6 ships and a 3-min cool down that's an orbital every thirty seconds. do you seriously think that this would be a good idea?

    3. ur forgetting shield bases, planetary weaponry. firing orbs is a process. no eve player is gonna risk his ship getting blown out the sky. the fact that THEY CANT TARGET YOU by themselves is huge. as it says above, planets are big. if their forces suck they cant spam strikes all they want, they wont hit anything.

  3. But those planetary will need a mechanic for being taken by hostile ground forces. You cant shoot anything down if your planetary weapons arent active or are in enemy hands.

    1. hell will freeze over long before pc players log into dust and take us down with a controller.

    2. better get your mittens out because it is planned your ships are no longer safe from planets :D

    3. Well its a good thing the PC players can use a Keyboard and Mouse to play DUST on the PS3 then.
      I guess Hell has frozen over though. I know (and am) EVE players playing DUST.

  4. near constant orbitals would make capturing impossible, ccp has already stated that dust players will not have to work with eve guys and vice versa, yes working with eve should hive advantages but what you are proposing isn't just giving a slight advantage it would make it impossible to win if you don't have a fleet of your own. how could dust stand on its own legs if its entire concept of pcq revolved around who won the fight in EvE? 2 corps both go for a district with eve support ones eve side wins and proceeds to shoot off ob's so that the others dust side wont be able to even spawn in without dying.

    1. we dont believe in constant orbitals either. instead we support realistic limitations rather than WPs that have EVE players press the orbital button every 30 minutes. Thats boring, not cooperative in the least bit and does a poor job of fostering a relationship between the two games.

    2. but by the logic you expressed in your "story" every eve pilot you have in a fleet with ob capabilities will cut down the time between strikes in half.
      you don't see how this will be horribly exploited? its fine as it is there are many other issues that definitely require immediate attention

    3. i'm confused. how would they spam you without target intel showing them where to fire?

  5. mmmm a raven using it's tractor beams on the mercs, the ultimate savage collector is here!

  6. Maybe all these ISK generating structures and installations should have hit points to add more depth to the game. Do you try to assimilate the enemy's resources as much as possible? Or will you go with a slash and burn strategy?

    This would actually also make sabotage and surprise bombing runs even more relevant and so far. Of course, some simply enjoy blowing up the property of other players because some men aren't looking for money, they can't be bought or bullied, some men... Just want to watch the world burn...

  7. LOL. Didn't post my reply even after asking for it.

    More Proof Dustmercs only print what suits them.

  8. If a corp is fast enough to collect WP and call an orbital strike, well, they don't even need the orbital strike as they are obviously already winning.
    Basically OBs are for griefing the weakest team (which is already losing) and making sure they can't possibly win.
    If eve players were decisive in a fight, then dust players and eve players would cooperate much more. For us EVE players the current mechanic is just boring and stupid. If we are limited so much in performing an OB, and risk our ships in order to perform it, we just won't be bothered with DUST.