Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Why I Don't Like A Common Solution To AFK Cloaking

I always get nervous when I hear ideas designed to help carebears. One that I hated was the increase in speed of the Procurer in 2014. The change was made to help high sec miners avoid players who liked to bump miners off their asteroids and ice rocks. The tactic to combat miner bumping was to orbit rocks as fast as possible. Of course, anyone trying to mine while aligned, like I do in low sec, had their gameplay nerfed. The introduction of the Higgs Anchor did a lot to mitigate the problem, as well as have unintended consequences for wormholes. But still, when I hear other ideas like eliminating the need for miners to probe down anomalies, well, I start getting jumpy.

One issue that always grabs my attention are the complaints about AFK cloakers. An AFK cloaker is just what the name sounds like: a player who engages a cloaking device to make his ship invisible, then leaves the keyboard to go to work, eat dinner, etc. Sooner or later, someone comes up with the idea of requiring cloaks to use fuel. I'll pick on MassivelyOP's Brendan Drain for a recent example:
"It’s also led to a problem that has plagued nullsec alliances since as far back as I can remember: AFK cloakers. A cloaked ship can park itself in a star system and show up in the local channel, usually prompting all the locals to pack up their PvE activities. The locals can’t ignore the cloaked ship as it could attack at any time, so one or two ships can effectively disrupt PvE in a star system even when the pilot is AFK. The cloaking problem could be solved by adding a fuel requirement to cloaking devices, and both of the issues above could benefit from another precision change: Nerf the local channel in nullsec." (emphasis mine)
Removing local is a subject for another day. And speaking of no local, adding fuel requirements to cloaking would do horrible things to the playstyle in wormholes. Instead of addressing the larger issues, I want to address my own selfish concerns and how the use of cloaks requiring fuel would hurt my own play in low security space.

I spend a lot of time flying around low sec in ships without weapons. I do occasionally use the microwarpdrive/cloak trick when flying my Mastodon around, but I spend a lot of time doing level 4 distribution missions in a Prowler. A lot of people disparage distribution missions, but I enjoy them. While PvPers in low sec would love to see uncloaked ships jumping around, low sec distribution missions are another use for blockade runners.

When jumping through each gate, I always activate my cloak as soon as I start aligning and keep cloaked until the next gate. Adding a fuel requirement for cloaks doesn't just reduce my profits. Where do I put the fuel? I require at least 8000 m3 free in my cargo in order to handle all the missions. If fuel is consumed every cycle, that could really add up quickly.

My next concern involves exploring in general and running data and relic sites in particular. I haven't done so recently, but I usually use either a covert ops frigate or a Stratios when I do. The cloak is very useful for hiding from potential hunters when probing down sites. A fuel requirement could really impact the use of ships like the Cheetah, which only has a cargohold of 200 m3. The whole idea of adding a fuel requirement is to keep a frigate like the Cheetah from staying cloaked for hours. What type of impact would that have on the length of how long I could stay out running sites?

The final concern is the effect on my low sec belt mining. I dual-box when mining, one pilot in a Procurer and a second in a cloaky DPS ship. The cloaky ship is valuable in case NPC battleships show up, although now that my mining character has finished with her drone skills, the extra help isn't needed that much. What is more important is the invisible eyes watching the belt while the mining ship returns to the station to drop off ore. Occasionally, I would see ships warp into the belt I had just departed and cloak up. The funniest one was a Blackbird who was teaming with another cruiser. One time, I even killed a Thrasher. While requiring fuel to power my cloak wouldn't keep me from flying the second ship, that's just another cost I have to worry about.

One of the reasons I keep track of changes in EVE isn't just to have subjects to write about. My style of play is a little unusual and little changes to help other parts of the game tend to act as nerfs to mine. Still, since talk about adding fuel to cloak usage to combat AFK cloaking has floated around the game for years, I won't get too excited. Yet.

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