Sunday, July 19, 2009

What Are Fleet Battles Missing?

I love it when CCP releases a new trailer for Eve. The animated banners themselves that show little Eve ships flying around and blowing the hell out of each other are quite cool to watch. Every time I see them they make me want to be a part of those fleets. Heck, they even make mining look cool. So why don't you ever find yourself a part of an eve battle that looks anywhere near as cool as the ones in the trailers do?

The simple answer is because Eve uses a special engine to render out their videos. Clearly the lighting engine is better, there is antialiasing (which is supported by every game in the known universe except EVE!#@?), and quite a few other visual treats that the game engine does not offer. But there is something in particular that makes the cinematic battles look freaken awesome. This particular thing is (drum roll please)... Formations!

You will notice that all the fleet battles in trailers have some type of formation. Two sides are often facing off, ships are all flying parallel to one another, frigates are in delta flying formations and ships are spaced realistically.

Here is a screen from a trailer. Looks cool doesn't it? Now let's have a look at a real Eve fleet battle.

Hmmm. I wonder why Eve trailers don't use this kind of footage? Maybe because it's fugly beyond all reason! Can you tell who is winning this battle?

Granted one can setup their interface to display fleet ships as blue squares and enemy ship as red squares, however, if this is done all you shall see is a giant blob of intermixed red and blue squares. Sure you may be able to estimate who has more ships but you won't really be able to determine any visible strategies.

So in case you haven't guessed by this point I am going to suggest adding formations into Eve. This is how it can work:

There will be a series of formation skills, each skill will improve upon a different type of formation. When a player is in a squad leader position he or she will be able to choose any formation that they have trained skills for and form their squad into that formation. Once in a formation, ships fly in sync with one another. Pilots will be able to break out of a formation at any time and they will also be in control of their own modules and weapons, however, when in a formation the squad leader will have control of his squad's movement.

Ok, so clearly I am trying to make the game look cooler, but how will this improve a fleets fighting potential? Yes, just about every pilot will have different optimal ranges, speeds, modules, etc. This would force fleets to set themselves up with squads that have similar ship setups. For example one squad would be tackler frigates, while another would be sniper battleships. But the real incentive for flying in formations is the bonuses that formation members will receive. A delta formation may increase maximum speed, a broad formation may increase optimal range, while a sphere may increase repairer effectiveness.

Pictures of possible formations (yes these are from Homeworld)

Delta - Used to increase squadron speed.

Broad - Used to increase optimal weapon range.

Wall - Used to increase weapon damage.

Sphere - Used to increased remote repairing effectiveness.

Atom - An orbiting formation used to increase weapon damage.

Formations will be switched mid combat if the squad leader deems it necessary. For example a frigate squad may use delta formation to increase their speed while they cut the distance to their target, and then switch to an atom formation that increases the damage to a target. This could add an extra level of depth to each combat situation and make good fleet commanding all the more important to the success of an engagement.

Ok so assuming this feature was implemented and now we have fleets flying at each other in formations. Would someone sitting by be able to tell who is fighting who? Maybe.. but there is another way to address this issue even further: give wing commanders/fleet commanders racial ship bonuses. Different racial command skills could be trained. A fleet commander with a "Caldari missle command skill" could give added bonuses to all missile damage for Caldari ships. This wouldn't exclude people from flying an Amarr, Gallete or Minmatar ship with the fleet but it would give great incentive to use Caladri ships. Now you can have ship fleets that look like they belong together.

But what about two Caldari fleets facing off against each other? This will happen, but one way to entice bi-racial fleet battles is adding bonus to Faction warfare for using your faction's ships. This could not only make factions use their own ships but also give players extra incentive to join the militias. Faction warfare doesn't pay as well as people would like it to so why not give militia members an added combat boost?


  1. do you actualy post these things on the eve forums? if not, please do as the devs should really take a good look at the stuff you put here

  2. I can't post the link to this in the forums until 10/12/09. There is an account issue. However, there will be an improved version of this article in the next issue of EON magazine so hopefully that will get people talking.

  3. This would be so sick!

  4. trailers are produced videos, completely different than a real time engine, didnt even think there would be people confusing the two til i read this piece of nonsense.

  5. Stumbled across this. This the idea is a little flawed. Alliance fleet battles already require that pilots have the same ship fittings (doctrine). If you fail to fit the requirement you will probably die or not able to participate.

    Kitchen Sink fittings generally are forced to fill the role of tackle or support and may get deploy to another location in the operating theatre.