Those wormhole changes

19th August 2014 – 5.30 pm

What's your view on the new wormhole changes, Penny?

The major changes, that I am aware of, are an increased number of random wormholes; a second static wormhole for class 4 w-space systems; a new type of wormhole that only allows frigate-mass ships through and regenerates mass over time, making them difficult to collapse; the K162 only being generated on the first jump through a wormhole, not when the originating side is warped to; and ships appearing in the destination system at a distance from the wormhole proportional to their mass. Overall, I'm not optimistic about any of the changes.

Adding more randomly connecting wormholes doesn't seem necessary. Sure, some days the constellation is a simple pipe that leads nowhere. But the exit from w-space is not the end to exploration, and I have yet to learn of a w-space pilot who won't scan the k-space systems for more options when w-space routes are exhausted. Even more occasionally, the pipe will be simple and terminated by an EOL wormhole. This is solved by collapsing one of the wormholes and starting again, or having a night off. It's not a big deal.

Other nights, you can hit a spaghetti junction system, with many wormholes leading in different directions. Perhaps multiple scouts can dive down each one and explore thoroughly, but small operations will not be able to exhaust their options in a timely manner. This leads to shallow exploration, potentially missing activity further up or down the chain by simply not having time to scan more than a couple of systems deep, or by picking the wrong wormhole to start with.

Activity used to be found by diving through wormholes that previously weren't there, that's true. If it were still true, it would make sense that adding wormholes would increase found activity. But increasing the number of wormholes will not lead to finding more activity, because it is no longer the case that a new wormhole can go unnoticed for any period of time, not with the discovery scanner continuously alerting any pilot even merely passing through a system of new signatures. W-space doesn't need more wormholes, it needs wormholes to return to being unknown variables.

It would seem that I would be in favour of K162s only spawning when a wormhole is first jumped through. I suppose I am, kinda. It's better than having the K162 spawn when warping to the grid of a wormhole, but only by about a minute, and there really isn't much more that can be done in that minute that couldn't realistically be achieved now. Some people are talking about being able to prepare a fleet on the wormhole before the K162 spawns, but a fleet for what? I haven't heard anything about being able to see through K162s now.

The question is not one of readiness, because nothing is currently stopping a fleet warping to a wormhole immediately behind the scout, but of what lies beyond the wormhole. If nothing's there, having the fleet ready means nothing. If targets are there, you won't know what they are until you've jumped through anyway, so what fleet are you preparing? In either case, you still don't know what's on the other side, and the K162 delay merely buys a little time that you used to have much more of before the discovery scanner was introduced. That this feature is being introduced seems to be an acknowledgement that the discovery scanner has had undesirable consequences, and the unwillingness to remove it.

Class 4 w-space is seen to be a wasteground, apparently. I dunno, I like it there. I like the isolation. I like how C4 space feels different from the other classes. I appreciate how the rewards from Sleeper combat aren't a huge increase from C3 sites, but allow twice the ISK to be generated from half the sites in the same amount of time. The static wormhole also leads to more w-space, allowing extra sites to be found reliably, unlike in C3 space. I appreciate how capital ships cannot be jumped in and out of the system, adding some increase in security at the expense of increased logistics of occasionally awkward wormhole chains.

Class 4 w-space has a definite place in the hierarchy of classes. It seems to me that the people complaining about C4 systems are those that don't live there. This would be fine if they were complaining because they want to live there, if only it were better connected, but the complaints are mostly that C4 sites aren't profitable enough, or that there is no one to find to hunt. The people advocating for a second static wormhole in C4 space don't want to move in, but want new targets to want to move in. That's not proper motivation for the change. Either way, a second static wormhole may achieve the desired result, but as more wormholes won't lead to more activity perhaps a better incentive would be improving C4 sites in some way.

I have also previously mentioned how the second wormhole probably won't help anyway. The complaints generally focus on how C4/C4 systems are the problem; that is, class 4 systems with static wormholes to class 4 systems are poor chains to scout. If that's the case, let's see what adding a second wormhole will do. If it's not a C4/C4 system—which the majority of C4 systems aren't—then presumably the system isn't broken, and adding a second wormhole is not fixing anything. Indeed, if the second wormhole will now lead to C4 space then the system is arguably made less desirable than if left alone.

What if it is a C4/C4 system? We have to look at what second wormhole is added. Adding a C5 or C6 wormhole will lead to the same kind C4/C4 chains that people complain of—C5/C5 systems surely being as notorious as C4/C4s—but in to more dangerous space that is likely to have capital ships present but where you can't bring your own. Adding a C1 wormhole will lead to logistic problems because of the mass limitations of the wormhole. Adding a C3 or C2 wormhole may improve matters, but how many of those will we get? It seems to me that adding a second static wormhole to class 4 systems is not directly fixing the problem complained about, but is easier to implement. Messing with many corporations' homes whilst not addressing the issue doesn't seem like a good solution.

The new type of wormhole, allowing only frigate-mass ships through is peculiar. I can see the idea behind it, I just don't think it will work. If players wanted frigate fights, they'd arrange them to avoid having to commit expensive ships. Or they'd join RvB. Although only being able to push frigates through a wormhole sounds like it will lead to new w-space fleet doctrines, I'm not convinced. Just because you can't squeeze more than a frigate through a wormhole doesn't mean the other side won't commit bigger and nastier ships, if only to get some cheap kills and hold the field on their side. What is the frigate fleet going to do? They can't send their own big ships through to counter, and mobile depots won't let them do much about it.

Frigate roams are unlikely to work either, unless there is a pipe of these specific wormholes running from one empire system through w-space to another. One normal wormhole along the chain will allow the fleet to be destroyed by a normal fleet. I doubt there will be such chains either, unless they are specifically implemented that way, and even then the chain would need to be scanned first. And as frigates are popped quite effectively by Sleepers in even class 1 sites, these wormholes are unlikely to cause a ripple against PvE fleets.

I understand that CCP are quite happy with the emergent gameplay that wormhole systems have produced so far, and so they should be. Perhaps these new tiny-mass wormholes will produce their own emergent gameplay, but I doubt it. Now, I understand that, by definition, emergent gameplay cannot be predicted, but the limitations on the size of ship that can pass through this new type of wormhole drastically reduce the options available. I'm struggling to see what can be done effectively in w-space with frigates that isn't being done already, and how these new wormholes will affect that. It's not a bad idea, but I don't see these wormholes living up to the vision.

As for a ship's mass affecting its distance from the wormhole after a jump, I don't quite understand what this is trying to achieve. All ships will now be guaranteed to be far enough away from the wormhole to cloak after a jump, making scouting much safer. Non-scouting ships will have to commit to the jump, which will make polarisation ambushes, where a 'caught' ship runs back the way it came, almost impossible to perpetrate. Closing wormholes will also take much more time, organisation, and risk, to the point where smaller corporations will simply stop doing it. Activity will decrease, polarisation will not be a useful mechanic, and fewer massive ships will be caught on wormholes.

It seems to me that the overall direction intended with all the changes taken together, having more and harder-to-close wormholes, is to force players to engage in PvE activities with known open wormholes. That may happen initially, but once expensive ships start to get lost it is more likely that PvE activities will dwindle. Whilst w-space denizens rarely complain about the loss of expensive ships, they can only do so so often, particularly if their income stream is interrupted.

Aiming for players to engage in PvE with open wormholes is also a peculiar goal given that the introduction of the discovery scanner, which has directly led to fewer targets in w-space, was a reaction to what was perceived as the uninteresting and unwanted gameplay of spamming scanning probes to look for new wormholes. Open wormholes will just lead to fleets posting scouts on each wormhole that cannot be closed, listening for transits. This would be an obvious return to the previously unwanted style of gameplay, albeit without the direct interaction of pressing a button every few seconds.

On the whole, like I said, I am not optimistic about any of these changes. I also understand that I often have a negative reaction to change, and that the changes generally end up not being as bad as my emotional reaction suggested. My least favourite part of these changes is how they are presented to us as open for discussion, whilst the devblogs continue to assert that the changes are coming for Hyperion. The changes are not open for discussion, just the balance associated with these changes. We're getting them whether we like them or not, and from experience it seems clear that poor changes are never rolled back but iterated in attempts to make them less poor. The best option is to wait until the changes are live before making a final opinion, and strive to tolerate and work with those changes we consider to be poor.

  1. 7 Responses to “Those wormhole changes”

  2. I am optimistic about most of these changes, but I think that fundamentally you are right about the motivations for the mass-distance thing. CCP wants people to run sites with their system unzipped. Whereas we are not going to do that. Not if we are sensible.

    That said, I don't think the changes really affect sub-C5 corps that much. My corp does not "rageroll", in the sense of generating adjacent systems endlessly until we find people to kill. We roll our hole when looking for anoms to run safely. Sometimes looking for a logistics path. Usually no more than a handful of pops. You might call it "bearrolling". It won't be affected much.

    We do currently use Orcas to help pop holes, and that may become untenable. But one Orca pass is just two battleship passes; we can substitute it without undue burden.

    Right now, it appears that battleships won't appear too ridiculously far from the wormhole. So, while it might be possible to ambush one, web it down, and kill it, it is not going to be easy to do. It might make for some interesting content, too. (I'll have to think about that. How to trap an unlucky battleship?) I see people popping holes from time to time, but I can rarely do anything about it. Part of the problem is just that I am one guy. But partly the problem is that on my side, where I want to fight, I cannot stop him. On his side, he has the advantage and I typically don't want to fight so much. This is both because it's his home base, and because I am vulnerable to being trapped there if the wormhole collapses.

    By Von Keigai on Aug 19, 2014

  3. Penny, you're se classy it possess me off sometimes. That said, I agree with pretty much all you say on the matter, surprising for me since I've just thought about your hunting habits, therefore forgetting we all have to be able to sustain said habits, hence PVE. My small Corp doesn't care much about Hyperion changes - actually I'm the only one whining about them - even if we live in a C5. But, aside from the sig names persisting after downtime and bookmark copying improvements, CCP hasn't really touched any of the "little things" we add community asked them, just before the change.

    By Generaloberst Kluntz on Aug 19, 2014

  4. We have a c4/c1 currently. That is a bear wh chosen for how isolated it is and the general difficulty of bringing in battleships.

    We are ok with the distance changes on all our (subcap) whs. We will just use cloaky ships with 500k bookmark to wait out polarisation timers.

    What *we* are worried about is our new c5 static. Our solution is to wait and pray for a change but them sell (or possibly abandon) our c4 and find a new home for our c4 pilots. I dont mind receiving solo/small squad ganks, well not too much anyway. I don't want to continuously deal with c5 or c6 corps.

    I can understand pvp pilots wanting a c4 static. I have no idea who will want to move into c4's with this change.

    By Foo on Aug 20, 2014

  5. IMHO, wormhole mechanics would best be "fixed" by just removing the discovery scanner function from wormholes. Emergent gameplay is so much better when actually emergent.

    The new statics and frigate-only holes might create some content, but imagine how much more content they could create without everyone knowing they existed inside a minute from spawning.

    By Gwydion Voleur on Aug 20, 2014

  6. I don't understand the frig holes at all. I get that FW plex size limitations were very successful, but that doesn't mean that every type of space has to have a place for frig fleets.

    Having different types of engagements available in w-space / Null / Low-sec is a good thing. Of course I personally hate the frig FW meta and am perhaps biased as a result, but even if you love that type of fight surely you don't feel that must be available in every corner of the sandbox.

    By Mythblood on Aug 20, 2014

  7. Actually the most thoughtfull piece i read about the coming changes so far.
    New insights and I fully agree.
    Thank you.

    By Tommy SecondSpace on Aug 20, 2014

  8. Addendum: I realise that what the delayed appearance of the K162 offers is not so much a delay to the discovery scanner, but the opportunity to warp between scanned wormholes and then decide which to explore through, without already forcing your options should you find an outbound connection. That's a positive change.

    By pjharvey on Aug 26, 2014

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