Wednesday, August 8, 2012



Or why the proposed gate gun change would be bad.

A few disclaimers...
1. I know the CCP is still in the design/engineering phase of the gate gun changes
2. I know that they are looking at the forum thread and responding in there (it's here)

The argument for changing the way gateguns work, is to increase their DPS/Volley and make gates and stations "safer" for commerce, potentially drawing more people into lowsec because they will not face immediate change of death on jump into their first lowsec system. This change is heralded by some as "needed" and "fixing a long standing issue." Because apparently CCP doesn't like gatecamps. Probably similar to the way they don't like station games.

Let me explain how monkeying with gate guns causes several very specific problems with current gameplay.

Let's just set a baseline, let's assume gate gun DPS and volley is now set to scale, for the first 1 minute on the gate Frigates can operate under gate gun fire, out to 2 minutes cruisers can operate under gate gun fire, out to 3 minutes BC's and out to four minutes battleships. By this I mean solo-tanking or light buffer tanks. By 6 minutes the gate guns are so intense that they start volley fire killing BC's and become very dangerous to non-logi supported Battleships. By 7 minutes even BS can't just hang around, and the only thing that could be left would be capitals. By 10 minutes a triage carrier would need to leave the field as well. This is some orders of magnitude less extreme than the CSM minutes proposed changes so I'll roll with this approximation. Gate gun ranges are the same, that is, they can hit out to 150km from the gate, but then stop. They fire at suspect flagged ships and red-flashy people with a sec status of below -5.01.

Let's get some other relevant background. As discussed in my earlier post and the associated links, the Crimewatch refactoring will allow a pilot to kill all the ships they want to and will end up at a maximum of -5.0, it will require pod-killing to drop below -5. Suspect flags will wear off with time and eventually drop, let's assume 5-15 minutes.

Back to gate guns, the assumption is that the changes will address gate camping. Now just spitballing, let me count the ways why it won't matter.

A. Inties will now be able to sit on gates, and instant tackle anyone coming through, currently that's not possible because frigate hulls get 2-4 shot right off the gate by gate guns. This change will let inties set right on top of the gate.
B. Tier 3 BC's will still be able to sit at 151km and alpha through anything their attendant inties can tackle. Scale this as needed per target, 
C. None of this will solve the current tech 3 remote sensor boosted (RSB) cruisers from siting on the gate, and waiting for likely targets. Maybe they become more selective, but this hardly stops the gate camp. Even more so in conjunction with other players sitting at range in tier 3 BC's or even in a nearby safe spot. Find and tackle a target, BC's warp in to help with the kill, everyone warps off, next tackle tech 3 takes the position, rinse and repeat.

So the intended fix doesn't actually "fix" the problem at all, it just makes it easier for pirates to operate frigates close to the gates, for longer. Any AF can kill any industrial and easily tackle any battleship, battlecruiser, cruiser or destroyer that jumps into them. It becomes exactly like 0.0 entry choke points pre-dictors and large t2 bubbles.

Additional effects of this change.

Gate guns will now engage but not immediately destroy frigates, I've already outlined why this is bad, but at least frigates will be able to 'fight' on a gate now, and tackled people will just have to hope the frigate dies before backup arrives. This provides some "protection" from ebil pirates in Lowsec, supposedly unsafe space.

Large fleet fights of pirates vs anti-pirates or hell anyone non-faction warfare will cease entirely both on gate and on station. Why? Who is going to show up for a fight where 5-6 minutes into it past the initial agression, ships are just getting gate gun killed? This just re-enforces blobbing being good. ie, in order to engage on gate or on station; you need to have a decisive numbers advantage, so the fight will be decided before he gate guns start making a difference. It even reenforces the use of undocking carriers early in a fight to tip the balance decisively at the start of the fight vice the current "slow" escalation.

Roaming fights, or off gate fights will also die out pretty quickly, unless of course they are decisive engagements. For the same reason as stated above, it just will not be safe or smart to jump through and engage a target on the far side of a gate, as sometimes currently happens, especially not if your chosen target isn't red-flashy. The gate gun damage will scale to the point where all your opponent need do is keep you in place and let the gate guns do the rest of the work.


So while I think that the current idea lacks some finesse and some careful thought, what would a good suggestion for this?

If the goal is to truly eliminate gate camping in lowsec, which seems like a really bad idea, and completely "high-sec" driven, then that's not something I can even hint at a solution for.

If the goal is to improve gate guns to some useful measure, to deter all but the most organized gangs, then the following changes should be considered.

Gate guns need to have sleeper level AI. This means instead of slowly cycling from target to target, they identify weaker tanked ships, focus fire on Logistics and generally act smarter than a level 4 mission rat.

Gate gun damage needs to scale, and additionally needs to have "low level" and a "high level" cap. In continuing with sleepers, gate gun damage could scale dependent on the ship classes on the field. I think it's a bad idea for Frigates in general to get any extended time of "tankable" damage from gate guns, so the current gate gun damage is an acceptable "low level."

To that end if frigates are part of a fleet and engage something on a gate, the gate guns will instantly cycle to the frigates instead of first shooting at a more tanked, bigger target.

The "high level" should do at least 1k to 1100 DPS, with a volley in the range of a tempest with 1400mm's or like 9-12k. It should take around 10 minutes or so to slowly scale to that kind of damage. Don't eliminate a playstyle, just make it that much harder to tank, and that much smarter.

Additionally, gate guns should get buffed to be able to hit universally out to 250km, this way people can't just sit barely out of gate gun range and still be able to influence a fight on a gate. If you don't know the hard cap on lock range is 250km.

In short, gate guns need much more damage over time so they don't become a moot point in a fight, however, they need to scale slowly so they don't completely removing fighting from gateside and stationside as an option. It will be a tricky balance, and only achieved properly if CCP works with those players who have the most experience with gate guns.

Here's a little hint, it's not the people in the thread who live in highsec.

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