A devblog detailing Crimewatch 2 has been released, and I applaud its intent in making clearer what actions cause which flags, and what each flag means. This is a necessary change. I don't entirely agree that there are players who possess an 'inability or refusal to understand the rules', in that there are no clear rules to follow. I don't relish the idea of potentially losing ship after ship trying to work out what causes my ship to be flagged with certain conditions, sometimes invisibly, and how long these conditions last. This is sci-fi, and there is no reason why conditions caused by my actions shouldn't be obviously shown to me. Adding the flags to the HUD is the right step to take, as is showing the timer and adding information about the flag.
I do, however, object to one of the consequences, that of not being able to eject from your current ship simply by firing your weapons. Specifically, if you fly a strategic cruiser (T3) then being unable to eject when you know you are in a losing battle forces a loss of skill points (SP) on you. It has been pointed out that avoiding the SP loss was originally by design: 'Ejecting or self-destructing does prevent the penalty, giving players an incentive to abandon ship from time to time'. So why the change?
It has been suggested that preventing ejecting is to prevent an Orca from scooping a T3 after the pilot ejects, which is an issue with gate camps abusing certain game mechanics. But you don't prevent ships from being scooped by preventing pilots from ejecting. You prevent ships from being scooped by preventing ships from being scooped. Preventing pilots from ejecting may solve the problem of ships being scooped, but it does so by creating different problems for pilots who are not abusing the problem that's being fixed. It seems some thinking has gone awry at CCP. Rather than looking at the problem and fixing it directly, they've gone around the houses to make it more complex than it needs to be.
There is even a precedent that makes the problem of ship-scooping apparently simple to solve. Targeted ships cannot cloak. Targeted ships that are empty cannot be boarded. It seems an obvious step to extend it so that targeted ships that are empty cannot be scooped. It is the same game mechanic as is already implemented in similar circumstances, and so it is one that will be familiar to players. Moreover, it possibly simplifies Crimewatch 2 too. The image of actions to consequences shows that the sixty-second weapon flag which prevents ejecting from your current ship has other consequences. You cannot board another ship in space (unless boarding from a capsule), you cannot board another ship from a corp hangar (unless boarding from a capsule), and you cannot store your current ship in a corp hangar. Personally, it seems much simpler to me, and would involve less coding, to take out the exemptions in the parentheses.
Why not remove the consequence 'cannot eject from current ship', and make the other conditions apply even if you are in a pod? You still can't jump through a stargate, or dock in a station, or board another ship—in space or from a hangar—and if a targeted ship cannot be scooped then the problem of Orca abuse in gatecamps is gone. In fact, I would say this solution is preferable. If you eject to a pod you cannot board another ship as long as the flag is active, so you can't jump back in to the fight. And the ship that remains in space becomes more vulnerable, as it no longer has a capsuleer on board to power its defences, or apply the appropriate skills to the shields, armour, and hull. Rather than have the pilot try to last sixty seconds so they can eject, allowing them to eject at any point still has them removed from combat and means their ship will explode sooner.
Ejecting even has another benefit beyond avoiding SP loss. Consider a simple one-on-one engagement. With a properly configured overview, the pilots see each other's ships and little else, if anything. When one ship explodes, the target lock of the victor is automatically dropped, because the target no longer exists, and the ship disappears from the overview. It is replaced by a pod, which can be quickly targeted and held because the victor has anticipated the situation. However, if one pilot sees the fight is going badly and ejects early, the victor may be caught off-guard. The target lock is not broken, the warp disruption module is still active and cycling. The pod has a greater chance of escaping. Regardless of any petty shouts that you should have better reactions, or be more prepared, if a pilot is prevented from ejecting then their pod is at greater risk.
And it is a bogus argument that you should just stop shooting if you want to eject. Smaller PvP engagements often don't last that long, and certainly not much longer, and considering the uncertainty involved in them it is unreasonable to expect any pilot to know what the circumstances will be a minute in to the future. And medium engagements or larger will have T3s popped long before a minute after being targeted. On top of that, if you eject to a pod then you have no weapons to fire, so your weapons flag automatically gets dropped just as if you stop firing in the current ship, which means ejecting will have continue to have similar functionality to that in the proposed change.
It is also bogus to suggest that these are the risks to flying T3s, and that the risks should be accepted. I do accept the risks of flying T3s. When I have lost any of my T3s and failed to eject in time, I have not blamed my attackers for the loss of SP, neither have I blamed CCP; I've blamed myself for a lack of awareness and accepted it. When I have ejected too soon and handed my attackers a free, if dented, T3, I have not blamed my attackers for forcing me out of the ship, neither have I blamed CCP; I've blamed myself for a lack of awareness and accepted it. But if CCP stops me from ejecting when I realise the fight is lost, particularly when the combat changes dramatically after thirty seconds, then I will blame them for the loss of SP.
I accept the risks of flying T3. It is the risks that are being changed, not my acceptance of them. And they are changing as a result of an activity that has nothing to do with me. I am already frustrated enough by blanket restrictions being placed on my activities as a reaction to a problem that has nothing to do with me in the real world. I do not need the same frustrations being extended to my hobbies. If the problem is with scooping actively targeted ships, then prevent the scooping of actively targeted ships. Don't punish me as part of that.