The Coming March Update in New Eden


CCP is pretty good about telegraphing what they are going to do with their expansions and updates.  They have a long history of dev blogs and forum posts about proposed features and have shown themselves to be responsive to feedback.  Of course, the latter is always a hazard, because if CCP bows to somebody’s logic then somebody else with a different view of things will start crying “foul!” or “favoritism” or “fake news!” or whatever the term du jour is.

I tend to believe CCP operates in good faith, in part because changing your mind in front of a live studio audience tends to be a painful experience and, as noted, makes people mad.  It would be much easier to do this in a smoke filled back room and announce the results as edicts not up for discussion. It works for Blizzard.

Anyway, in the grand scheme of things now, CCP has month updates which tend to tune a few things and maybe add a feature, and expansions, which are the vehicle for big changes and spanking new features.  Citadels and Alpha accounts go with expansions, ship re-balancing and in-game events and changes to how you blow up a citadel go with updates.

But now I am looking at the mounting number of things planned for the March update and it seems like a lot.  There isn’t any single item that seems out of scope for the above rules.  Rather, there are so many things with such impact that it is starting to feel like more than an update.

First there was a dev blog about ship balance changes that opened with these two points that came out of the recent CSM summit:

  1. More change is better, even if it’s small
  2. The meta is feeling stagnant, particularly around Feroxes and the Marchariel

So, yes, both the Mach and the Ferox are taking a hit.  I always feel a bit sad for the Ferox when it gets knocked down as it was, for a long stretch, completely nonviable in the fleet meta where Drakes and Hurricanes ruled back in the day.  But now it is on the decline.

Meanwhile CCP has been trying to beat down the Mach for a while now, reducing the blueprint copy drops and boosting the cost to make them.  But the Russians have been farming those blueprints for so long that the supply is effectively endless.  As for raising the cost to make… do you even read the monthly economic report bro?  So CCP is now set to clip its wings a bit hoping to push this faction battleship back towards being a rare bling-mobile rather than its current status as a ship of the line for nearly every major coalition.

There were other ships getting specific tweaks while tech 1 battleships got an across the board boost:

  • +25% to cargo capacity
  • +20% to maximum lock range

Because why not I guess.

The dev blog also introduced the Flag cruiser concept, a hardened FC ship, in response to the ongoing drone about FC headshotting. (A topic covered for Blog Banter 76 a couple years back.)

The Monitor Flag Cruiser concept

You can see the proposed stats, as well as the community response, in this forum thread.   The debate is heated and one common item that keeps coming up is the lack of a way for an FC on this ship to get on kill mails.  We shall see where this ends up.  Right now it seems like a niche ship for very specific circumstances.

While that was still in the air another note came from CCP about removing the built-in voice chat from EVE Online.  This is apparently another item in the way of a 64-bit client.  Built-in voice chat was very much the thing a decade back and CCP, like SOE and a few others, went to Vivox for an integration. (I found out at GDC that the Vivox people came from the same speech/voice corner of tech I have dwelt in for most of my career.)  EVE Voice came in with the Revelations expansion back in November 2006 (high level list of features on the EVE Uni Wiki, but the actual Revelations 1.0 patch notes for the release went missing with the update to the community site) and has been lightly used ever since, with CCP declaring that only 0.4% of the players giving it a shot.  Of course, we’re finding out now who depends on it, but for the most part you were more likely to use the captain’s quarters than EVE Voice.

Then there was word of a new chat back end coming with the March update.  CCP will move to a centralized independent chat service that should make things better for somebody.  Currently one of the ways to improve your client performance in a big fleet fight is to close Local, even when TEST isn’t involved.  Maybe this will help with that, though it sounds like it won’t change anything you dislike about the in-game part of the chat system.

Then a huge dev blog dropped… huge if you’re in null sec at least… about changes to entosis, tethering, and a 95% reduction in jump fatigue.  This was greeted with both cheers and speculation as to whether or not all of CCP had been replaced by pod people or something, this being a heady and unexpected change.

The jump fatigue change, a game mechanic introduced with the Phoebe update in late 2014 because null sec was stagnant and needed a change, will drop the cap for overall fatigue (blue timer) from 4 days to 5 hours and the jump clock (orange timer) from a maximum of 9.6 hours to 30 minutes… because, no doubt, null sec is stagnant and needs a change.

Will 30 minutes be enough of a roadblock to keep titan fleets from ranging across the map, moving from citadel to citadel in great packs?  Or will the jump range limitations that came in with jump fatigue be enough?  As I tend to say, we shall see.

Finally, in what I suspect is the final package of things for the March release, there was also a forum post of “little things” to be addressed.  The list, as it stands right now:

  • Color coding in Fleet watchlist window
  • Targeting bracket on Fleet mates is purple (the fleet color) rather than yellow
  • Text for broadcasts for reps now include what ship type the broadcast came from
  • Fleet tags are now displayed on the targets in the target bar
  • It’s now possible to remove a Fleet tags (from whatever was tagged before)
  • The results from ship scans are now organized by slots
  • The Show Info window for a solar system now has a special tab for structures in the system. Please note that like before, it only lists those structures you have docking access at.
  • The HQ listed in Show Info windows for corporation will now be a link
  • A tooltip has been added to the standing icon in the show info window to show what that icon is based on (player to player, player to corp, alliance to corp etc).
  • If your security status is -2 or lower, the tooltip on your security status in the Character sheet will tell you in which systems the faction police will attack
  • There’s now an option to have the Compare tool only list those attributes that differ for the items currently being compared
  • The height of the “Duration” drop down in market orders have been increased, so all entries fit without scrolling
  • The Salvage option for salvage drones has been moved to the top of the right click menu
  • Volume information has been added to the “material input” and “output” tooltips in the Industry window
  • The right click options that have been categorized as potentially especially destructive will now have a red ! in front of them. Among other things, we hope this helps to make it easier to differentiate between “Reprocess” and “Repackage”.

My favorite on the list is the ability to see the ship type that broadcasts for reps.  It isn’t that I don’t love you support frigates in the fleet, but I really need to keep DPS, my fellow logi, and the FC alive, after which I might have time to spare a couple of rep cycles for you.

Color coding the watch list will be good as well.  Currently I have a stack order for FC, main anchor, snowflakes, logi anchor, and cap chain partners that can get a little mixed up when things go sideways.

Anyway, as I was getting at a thousand words or so back, this seems like a lot for a monthly update.  It lacks a big anchor feature to make it an expansion, but for an update it has a lot of chewy goodness packed in.

Finally, I suspect that these updates coming now, after the winter CSM summit, are not a coincidence.  Good job CSM12!  I suspect that this update will feature in a few re-election campaigns.  But my real question is, does this mean having Sort Dragon speak up constantly during meetings is a good thing?  His name comes up a lot in the minutes.

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