My friend TurAmarth and I agree on many things, but not this time. In his latest blog post, Slowest Kid in the Class FTW!!, he blasts CCP’s changes to probe management as the stupidest thing CCP has ever done. I couldn’t disagree more. I think it is brilliant.
The first thing I want to say about this is actually throwing something back at Tur. In a comment on my post about corporate economics last week, he said this:
“You need to read and then relate this to Ripard’s Magic Box post…
Fascinating Intricacy or Useless Complexity?”
Tur, you need to go read Ripard’s Magic Box post again. Probe mechanics as they are now is a useless complexity. In a civilization as advanced as New Eden’s, why in gods’ name can’t we program an auto-return subroutine into our probes? If the probes are smart enough to identify ships from cosmic signatures, don’t they have enough computing capacity to know when they are almost out of fuel? And since they are constantly communicating with the ship they came from, don’t they know when that ship is preparing to jump?
Maybe that last’s a bit of a stretch for the probe to sense, but the ship knows. With the things the ship must do to get ready to jump, can’t one of those hundreds of checklist items be, “recall all probes?” I am sure there are hundreds of adjustments the ship must make, hell, just stowing the guns would require dozens of adjustments. Calling probes back is simple by comparison. They do most of the work. If I were programming a scanning system, I sure as hell would make that a priority. Why must the capsuleer waste his time doing such a mundane task? These are the types of tasks which are best automated, like stowing the damn guns.
I think having truly automated probes lends MORE immersion to the game. It does so from two perspectives. The first perspective is the, “we are so advanced our probes can almost think for themselves” view. You know, like our ships. Aura already can think for herself. It’s in the lore. She’s an AI. Wouldn’t it be immersive if she said, “Preparing to jump. Recalling probes. Stowing guns. Jump drive engaged!” The second point of view is that this change allows the player to concentrate on exploring rather than probe management. What is more immersive than looking out your screen at the beauty that is New Eden rather than constantly checking a probe timer? Let Aura do that. It’s what she’s there for.
I’ve also run through a bunch of the new mini-game puzzles that come with exploration now. It is easy to forget you have probes deployed when you start working these little puzzles. Losing probes because you’re immersed in the mini-game would be the stupid mechanic in my opinion. Every new bro that loses probes because they were playing the mini-game will hate it for distracting them. This doesn’t include the concentration needed now to grab the loot. It would have nothing but negative affects on their desire to continue playing the game if they lost their probes for playing the game.
Because frankly, exploration is a new bro activity. It is one of the carebear play-styles players can start straight away. It was the thing my son wanted to do after coming back to Eve Online. He loves the idea of discovering things while flying around in his Internet spaceship.That is immersion for him and it’s what keeps him in the game this second time. The first time he tried Eve Online he choose Amarr, which put him on the opposite side of high-sec from me. He wanted to mine with me so he tried to fly from there to Cistuvaert. I bet you can guess what happened. Yeah, he lost his most valuable ship, his mining barge, to a gank. He stopped playing the game for two years. It was a rage quit for sure but it was lost revenue to CCP. This is how we eat our young. When I finally convinced him to give Eve Online another try, he took on exploration because the ship was less expensive and no one ganks a frigate – usually.
So I see this change as a win-win for both lowering the useless complexity of Eve Online and for making an already popular new bro occupation more new bro friendly. I’ll gladly turn over probe management to Aura for that trade off. But there is one problem with the change that is coming. Several bloggers have already mentioned it. The probe market is going to crash. I don’t see any way to avoid that outcome as things stand now. There is something CCP could implement that would address this issue and perhaps it’ll assuage your ire.
I’d like CCP to make probes destructible when in use. We need a way to pinpoint probes, or at least get a reasonably good location on them. To this end, I want CCP to create a smartbomb probe. This is a true combat probe. It would launch from an expanded probe launcher and it’s only mission would be to find and blow up other probes. It would not normally detect ships or ever detect cosmic signatures. But it would have the ability to hone in on the communications stream constantly running from another’s probes back to a ship. This would have two effects. First, you could locate the other probes and detonate your smartbomb probe to eliminate them. Second, you could locate the scanning ship based on the communications streaming to it – even if it is cloaked. Think about that for awhile. I’ll leave further details up to CCP.