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Time for Drones v2.0?

Author
Seismic Stan
Freebooted Junkworks
#1 - 2012-12-08 19:17:47 UTC  |  Edited by: Seismic Stan
[Excerpt from original Freebooted article "No Retribution for Old Drones"]

One of the most significant controversies arising from the Retribution changes, or at least the one causing the most noise elsewhere on this forum, is the AI changes to NPCs. Now less predictable, with some of the far more challenging Sleeper AI being implemented, NPC "rats" across New Eden have apparently taken to massacring players' drones. I've not yet had the opportunity to investigate this phenomenon, but anything that refreshes the tired mission system sounds good to me.

Reports of the degree of anti-drone violence are varied, with primarily solo mission runners feeling the pinch. Many are complaining that the new AI behaviours have made drone boats non-viable as mission ships, whilst others are claiming that players simply need to adapt.

It may simply be those who can no longer sleepwalk through missions using drones as a passive DPS system who are being the most vocal, however this does throw light on an area of EVE's antiquated gameplay and UI that desperately needs some love. Improvements elsewhere in EVE are increasingly making drone-based gameplay the most prominent ugly sister. It would be great to see the following tweaks:

  • Improved Interface
  • With increasing need to micro-manage drones in time-critical combat situations, an intuitive means of doing so is desperately needed. The present drone interface - a right-click dropdown menu buried within a clunky drone management window - is awful. It would be great to see a clear and simple, button-driven panel allowing the organisation and command of flights on drones. A number of solutions spring to mind, all of which would be better than the existing system. See the mock-up by Ruato (made in 2006!) for an example. [Edit: it should be noted that the existing keyboard shortcuts are an alternative drone control option, but that is no excuse for a diabolical UI.]

  • Drone Fozzification
  • CCP Fozzie has done a great job of rebalancing many of the ships in EVE. Have drones been slated for review? Or are they considered to be fine as they are? Certain drone types remain as unused as many of the pre-tiericide frigates and cruisers, so I suspect there may be some work for He Who Juggles the Numbers.

  • V3 the Drones
  • These poor little fellas have long been overlooked for some visual love. First and foremost - give them engine trails, it'd look fantastic as they whizzed around and it'd mean that they'd exist as more than just a HUD "x" when viewed from a distance. Also, give them a redesign so they don't look so ridiculous when they fire sideways from their fixed forward-facing weapons.

  • Revised AI and In-Depth Drone Gameplay
  • If we've got to micromanage them, make it fun - perhaps making drone-based gameplay more involved. If the launch-and-forget days of mission farming are over, why not give the player a little more control over the behaviour of his drones. Beyond the passive/aggressive settings, why not allow the player to define more specific behaviours, from target priorities to range thresholds and tactics. Perhaps flights of drones could have a command drone within them to provide boosts, or maybe bonuses could be given for using particular formations (speed improvement for 'chevron' formation, accuracy boost for 'sphere', damage for 'cluster', etc.)
    AstraPardus
    Earthside Mixlabs
    #2 - 2012-12-08 19:19:43 UTC  |  Edited by: AstraPardus
    ^ this, all of this

    I'm an avid drone player and I would love to have more control over them, it would make my gameplay more enjoyable.
    Every time I post is Pardy time! :3
    
    Hustomte
    Veritex Industrial Inc.
    #3 - 2012-12-08 19:35:26 UTC
    I agree 100% this needs to be looked at

    ...Signature...

    Macsadbro
    Starflys
    Name Pending Coalition
    #4 - 2012-12-08 20:16:07 UTC
    Yes.
    Tanaka Aiko
    Ministry of War
    Amarr Empire
    #5 - 2012-12-08 20:19:56 UTC
    For sure drone UI need reworking.
    Omnathious Deninard
    University of Caille
    Gallente Federation
    #6 - 2012-12-08 20:22:21 UTC
    Yes i agree all things drone need work.
    |
    |
    v

    If you don't follow the rules, neither will I.

    Seranova Farreach
    Biomass Negative
    #7 - 2012-12-08 21:09:35 UTC
    Seismic Stan wrote:
    [Excerpt from original Freebooted article "No Retribution for Old Drones"]

    One of the most significant controversies arising from the Retribution changes, or at least the one causing the most noise elsewhere on this forum, is the AI changes to NPCs. Now less predictable, with some of the far more challenging Sleeper AI being implemented, NPC "rats" across New Eden have apparently taken to massacring players' drones. I've not yet had the opportunity to investigate this phenomenon, but anything that refreshes the tired mission system sounds good to me.

    Reports of the degree of anti-drone violence are varied, with primarily solo mission runners feeling the pinch. Many are complaining that the new AI behaviours have made drone boats non-viable as mission ships, whilst others are claiming that players simply need to adapt.

    It may simply be those who can no longer sleepwalk through missions using drones as a passive DPS system who are being the most vocal, however this does throw light on an area of EVE's antiquated gameplay and UI that desperately needs some love. Improvements elsewhere in EVE are increasingly making drone-based gameplay the most prominent ugly sister. It would be great to see the following tweaks:

  • Improved Interface
  • With increasing need to micro-manage drones in time-critical combat situations, an intuitive means of doing so is desperately needed. The present drone interface - a right-click dropdown menu buried within a clunky drone management window - is awful. It would be great to see a clear and simple, button-driven panel allowing the organisation and command of flights on drones. A number of solutions spring to mind, all of which would be better than the existing system. See the mock-up by Ruato (made in 2006!) for an example. [Edit: it should be noted that the existing keyboard shortcuts are an alternative drone control option, but that is no excuse for a diabolical UI.]

  • Drone Fozzification
  • CCP Fozzie has done a great job of rebalancing many of the ships in EVE. Have drones been slated for review? Or are they considered to be fine as they are? Certain drone types remain as unused as many of the pre-tiericide frigates and cruisers, so I suspect there may be some work for He Who Juggles the Numbers.

  • V3 the Drones
  • These poor little fellas have long been overlooked for some visual love. First and foremost - give them engine trails, it'd look fantastic as they whizzed around and it'd mean that they'd exist as more than just a HUD "x" when viewed from a distance. Also, give them a redesign so they don't look so ridiculous when they fire sideways from their fixed forward-facing weapons.

  • Revised AI and In-Depth Drone Gameplay
  • If we've got to micromanage them, make it fun - perhaps making drone-based gameplay more involved. If the launch-and-forget days of mission farming are over, why not give the player a little more control over the behaviour of his drones. Beyond the passive/aggressive settings, why not allow the player to define more specific behaviours, from target priorities to range thresholds and tactics. Perhaps flights of drones could have a command drone within them to provide boosts, or maybe bonuses could be given for using particular formations (speed improvement for 'chevron' formation, accuracy boost for 'sphere', damage for 'cluster', etc.)


    all of this.

    [u]___________________ http://i.imgur.com/d9Ee2ik.jpg[/u]

    Mary Clarissa Titor
    #8 - 2012-12-08 21:47:19 UTC
    I want scriptable drones. You know, the kind you could actually program to fly in formation, select targets intelligently, run away when shot at while shooting at targets that come up in range, or bobble up and down and draw "WE COME IN PEACE" in space with their trails. I'm probably not getting anything like that.

    But failing that, drones should not be stupider than the rats, and I should be able to tell them to try their best to stay alive, or rush with reckless abandon, or try to get out of range if the enemy is concentrating fire on them. And I should be able to do all that without that horrid window.
    Harvey James
    The Sengoku Legacy
    #9 - 2012-12-08 21:54:29 UTC
    I liked the drone UI button at fanfest i was hoping to see that by now but it seems lots of things haven't happened as they suggested would at fanfest as we all know drones need a top to bottom overhaul certainly things like ogres having a higher sig radius than a logi cruiser and tracking of a battleship.

    T3's need to be versatile so no rigs are necessary ... they should not have OP dps and tank

    ABC's should be T2, remove drone assist, separate HAM's and Torps range, -3 HS for droneboats

    Nerf web strength, Make the blaster Eagle worth using

    Luc Chastot
    #10 - 2012-12-08 22:06:41 UTC
    Those are actually pretty good ideas.

    Make it idiot-proof and someone will make a better idiot.

    Louis deGuerre
    The Dark Tribe
    #11 - 2012-12-09 00:54:07 UTC
    Adjusting NPC AI without adjusting the actual missions as well is just terrible and screwing over their customers.
    With the huge signature on drones they are doomed if the NPC decides to target them.
    If I implemented something like this without considering the consequences I'd get my ass fired the next day.
    Mund Richard
    #12 - 2012-12-09 02:19:15 UTC
    Obviously approving of the message.

    Maybe also:
    Give a selectable option for drones (much like aggressive) to maximize or MINIMIZE their transversal to the target. Drones missing a 90% webbed or stationary target due to their own movement even with omnitrackers on is kinda lame.
    Look at drone signatures?
    T2 resist profiles for the T2 drones?
    (Would be of lesser use for amarr/minmatar in missions though, unless merely buffed instead of T2.)

    "We want PvE activities to require active participation and mirror PvP more closely." Stacking penalty for NPC EWAR then? Lock range under 9km from over 100 in a BS is not fun. Nor is two NPC web drones making me crawl 10m/s. PvP SW-900 x5: 75m/s.

    GizzyBoy
    I N E X T R E M I S
    Tactical Narcotics Team
    #13 - 2012-12-09 07:57:17 UTC
    + 1
    Joelleaveek
    Center for Advanced Studies
    Gallente Federation
    #14 - 2012-12-09 08:03:42 UTC
    These are all very good ideas. +1
    Hakan MacTrew
    MUTED VOID
    #15 - 2012-12-09 16:38:58 UTC
    There is nothing in the OP I don't agree with. +1

    How do we think drones need to be changed to work with the current NPC AI? How can we get Drone boats to be able to compete with other weapon platforms in PvE once more?
    Marcio Miranda
    Exploradores do Novo Eden
    #16 - 2012-12-09 23:03:42 UTC
    The OP and everyone else. +1
    Vayn Baxtor
    Brutor Tribe
    Minmatar Republic
    #17 - 2012-12-10 00:54:25 UTC
    Fozzie'ficate this, Fozzie!

    Using tablet, typoes are common and I'm not going to fix them all.

    Felturion
    Imperial Shipment
    Amarr Empire
    #18 - 2012-12-10 07:43:04 UTC
    + 1

    I also have had ideas about while they are at it improving/adding the launch and return animation for drones. I found a thread about it that is locked now though: https://forums.eveonline.com/default.aspx?g=posts&m=1523809#post1523809

    But if you read through there you could also add balance options through the animation for ships that is not primarily drone boats maybe.

    It's worth looking into.

    (Eye Candy) Ship names Visable on the ship Hull https://forums.eveonline.com/default.aspx?g=posts&m=2281340&#post2281340

    Mund Richard
    #19 - 2012-12-10 11:20:19 UTC
    Felturion wrote:
    But if you read through there you could also add balance options through the animation for ships that is not primarily drone boats maybe..

    I'd snarkly point out how CCP should first fix the mechanics, but the graphics team is independant of the balancing one, so if they make it more shiny... ooh shiny! What was I talking about?

    "We want PvE activities to require active participation and mirror PvP more closely." Stacking penalty for NPC EWAR then? Lock range under 9km from over 100 in a BS is not fun. Nor is two NPC web drones making me crawl 10m/s. PvP SW-900 x5: 75m/s.

    Backfire Kitty
    Planned Obsolescence.
    #20 - 2012-12-10 13:30:18 UTC
    sounds nice, someone should call Fozzie!
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