Monday, July 30, 2012

CCP's War On Bots: Exhumer Changes

Sometimes the direction of game design conflicts with efforts to fight botting and illicit RMT within games.  Take for instance the latest re-balancing of dedicated mining ships now underway in Eve Online.  Eve's game designers have many reasons for wanting to revamp this class of ships.  First, CCP is currently undertaking a re-balancing of all ships in Eve so it makes sense that the roles of each mining ship are reviewed.  The second is the desire to see New Eden's low security space become more popular.  The changes to faction warfare introduced in the Inferno expansion was part of that effort and making mining ships more viable in low-sec just expands upon that effort.  The final reason is that Eve's economy needs minerals for manufacturing and those who would mine in high security space don't feel safe.  Ships suitable for the hostile environment will make miners under CONCORD's dubious protection feel safer.

While some cry out against the loss of easy ganking victims, others are rightfully worried about the effects the changes will have on the mining profession.  Will the changes go too far and attract mass waves of botters back to strip bare the asteroid bots before those in North America can get home from school and work?  That scenario has happened before in Eve and no one (except botters) wants to see a return of those days.  By all accounts CCP Sreegs and Team Security's War on Bots, especially since late February, has greatly impacted Eve's botting community.  Is another part of CCP about to undo Team Security's good work?

To answer that question I spent yesterday on Singularity looking at the three Exhumer-class ships: Hulk, Skiff and Mackinaw.  My industrial pilot has Exhumer trained to level 3 so was tagged with the horror honor of test flying the ships to check out the new changes.  Be aware when looking at the statistics I'm about to present that she has two skills left to learn to receive her elite certificate in Core Competency so all of the skills are not at level 5.  Also, she does not have any implants installed that would aid in these fittings.



Hulk

The Hulk, the ship currently with not only the best mining output but the best protection, is the ship all serious miners aspire to own.  That I believe is about to change.  Here is the new description for the Hulk.
"The exhumer is the second generation of mining vessels created by ORE. Exhumers, like their mining barge cousins, were each created to excel at a specific function, the Hulk's being mining yield. The additional yield comes at a price, as the Hulk has weaker defenses and a smaller ore bay than the other exhumers."

The big blow comes to the Hulk in the form of a 7,500 m3 ore hold that cannot be expanded.  The area is not sufficient to hold the output of two full cycles (6 minutes) from 3 Modulated Strip Miner IIs.  For those who currently shuttle back and forth between a station and asteroid belts this is a huge nerf to overall output, relegating the Hulk to use only when part of a fleet with Orca support.

The below fitting is a max yield set-up that demonstrates the thin tank on the ship.

A max yield Hulk.  Note the lack of a tank.
High
3 x Modulated Strip Miner II

Medium
2 x Limited Adaptive Invulnerability Field I
2 x Small Azeotropic Ward Salubrity I

Low
2 x Mining Laser Upgrade II

Rigs
1 x Medium Processor Overclocking Unit I
1 x Medium Core Defense Field Extender I

Botting future:  The changes will end the Hulk's reign as the favorite mining ship for botters.  The use by solo botters will end as those botters drift off to choices with a larger ore hold.  The serious personal botters and those feeding illicit RMT operations will still utilize the Hulk as its superior mining yield makes the former tier 3 exhumer the superior choice in mining fleets supported by Orcas.

Skiff

The Skiff currently is a ship that specializes in the mining of the hazardous mineral Mercoxit.  CCP has taken its rugged background into account and turned it into a tough, maneuverable little ship.  With an ore bay capable of carrying 17,500 m3 the Skiff appears built for low-sec operations, especially short (20-minute) ninja outings.  But with the max yield from its single Modulated Strip Miner II 17.8% less (at least with my skills) than the current max yield from a Hulk, using a Skiff would represent a loss of income for botters.  For some reason mining botters do not like operating in low-sec.

A max yield Skiff is not squishy.
High
1 x Modulated Strip Miner II

Medium
2 x Medium Azeotropic Ward Salubrity I
1 x Survey Scanner II
2 x Adaptive Invulnerability Field II

Low
2 x Mining Laser Upgrade II

Rigs
1 x Medium Anti-EM Screen Reinforcer I
1 x Medium Core Defense Field Extender I
The above max yield fit shows how rugged the Skiff is.  The reason for fitting a Survey Scanner II is that was about the only useful item that would fit after installing the two meta 3 medium shield extenders.  Even with the presence that utility module the Skiff has a battleship-class tank.

Botting future:  Compared to the current mining yield of Hulks, the consistent use of Skiffs would represent a loss of income for botters.  The Skiff is suited to high risk environments and could see use by botters during events like Hulkageddon.  If botters have to settle for using the Skiff then CCP will have won another round in the War on Bots.

Mackinaw

The Mackinaw is another specialty mining ship, one dedicated to mining ice.  After the changes the Mackinaw will have a larger hold capacity, 31,250 m3, than any other mining ship.  This, combined with the ability to fit three Mining Laser Upgrade IIs, give the ability to outperform the existing Hulk's yield over long periods of time.  While the Mackinaw's Modulated Strip Miner IIs yield 10.4% less than the one's on the Hulk, its ability to stay in a belt for 7 full cycles give bots the ability to make more ISK than with the old version of the Hulk.  According to my rough calculations, the Mackinaw will pull in 1,500 - 3,000 m3 more ore per hour than the current Hulk that needs to return to the station each time its cargo hold fills up.  Of course, if the Hulk has Orca support then the Hulk will outperform the Mackinaw.

A max-yield Mackinaw.  Better than a Hulk.
High
2 x Modulated Strip Miner II

Medium
2 x Limited Adaptive Invulnerability Field I
1 x Small Azeotropic Ward Salubrity I
1 x Small Shield Extender II

Low
3 x Mining Laser Upgrade II

Rigs
2 x Medium Processor Overclocking Unit I
Not only does the new-style Mackinaw pull in a slightly higher yield but as far as I can tell it also has a better tank than the current max yield Hulk.  If the tank is not strong enough, pulling one of the MLUs for a Damage Control II will increase the tank by about 10,000 EHP but then the mining yield advantage disappears.

Botting future:  While the Hulk will remain the choice of serious botters, including those involved in selling illicit RMT, the Mackinaw will become the favorite ship of the lone botter who relies on the botting software to shuttle the ship between the station and the asteroid belt.  If Hulks prove too squishy after the changes, look for the Mackinaw to become the mainstay of all botting fleets.



Having looked at the changes in exhumers currently on Singularity I don't think that CCP is giving the botters too much.  The changes in the Mackinaw may give a non-fleeted botter an extra ore hold of ore over the course of a day.  Those botters, by the way, don't fuel the illicit RMT companies the way that botting fleets do.  Looking at Hulks, I don't see any change in mining yield and the slightly increased tank is not important. 

In fact, I'm not that concerned about the increased tank on any of the ships.  While ganking botters is useful and worthwhile, I have the feeling that once CCP fixes tech that Goonswarm's bounty program for killing exhumers will end.  Once that ends, I have the feeling the desire to gank miners, not just botters, will decrease dramatically.  And if that is the case, then the amount of tank CCP gives miners won't matter that much. 

But just remember, trying to get the mining yield of the current Hulk will leave the mining ship vulnerable to a gank.  While I may have created the fits displayed in this post on Singularity, I would never use them on Tranquility.  I want a little more tank to discourage anyone who wants to claim I'm a bot.

4 comments:

  1. Good job with this one. Thanks for the stats.

    As some eve dev said somewhere game design is not to harm botters but to improve game play.
    I like mining and i never have and never will use bots to do so. But what i like to do is place my mining ships and do some paperwork while cargos running full.
    Mackinaw will be a fine ship and I'm looking at the t1 versions how suitable they could be in a more leathal enviroment.

    I'm pretty sure, ccp sreegs will find ways to catch those botters anyway.

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  2. Nosy, if you like contact me, Jori McKie, on TQ for a seightseeing tour into lowsec. My corp is a current resident of Molden Heath :). Killboard for reference http://spam.eve-kill.net/

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  3. ^^ Wrong Blog entry, my offer is a reply to Recharging The Batteries

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  4. i think you're forgetting the reason goonswarm maintain the hulkageddon rewards: as an excuse when GMs come calling about griefing - it says quite clearly that CCP regards nonprofit ganking to be griefing.

    bit schizophrenic when you have wingnuts like soundwave (ex-goon) going on about how they didn't want high sec suicide ganking to be profitable. I'm sure he's got lobbyists knocking at his door

    but there you have it. free tinfoilhattery

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