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NPC AI Adjustment: Does it solve anything?

Author
Norrin Ellis
Doomheim
#1 - 2012-12-19 12:27:55 UTC
Read the patch notes from this morning. I see that NPCs now essentially target drones of their own size and up. Does this solve the drone massacre problem, though?

Only an idiot is going to use anything other than large drones or sentries against a battleship, for example. Sentries are fine in specific range bands, but large drones are often the preferred general purpose weapon. I send them after that battleship orbiting me at 50 km. As soon as I deploy them, the NPC locks them (instantly, as far as I can tell) and picks off at least some of them before they even reach the target. Now I'm only doing maybe 60-80% dps anyway due to dead drones, and I'm out about 1.5 million ISK (if only 2 die).

Even if we consider drones as analogous to ammo rather than to a turret, the droneship pilot's ammo costs are going to far exceed that of any other weapon system while also suffering the disadvantage of losing dps in the middle of the mission. The only mitigation for this second problem is to carry multiple flights of the exact same drones rather than an assortment of size-appropriate drones to deal with multiple conditions.

Can someone please explain to me how these adjustments improve the Retirubtion situation at all?
Magormor
Homicidal Suicidal
#2 - 2012-12-19 12:34:10 UTC
I have played 30 hours atleast ratting since the patch only 1 time have my drones ever gotten agro.


My friend in a Domi has been with me some of the time, and he says in about the same playtime his drones only got agro no more then 10x. (note he has some rails on his Domi)

Neither if us even recalls out drones in between waves. The drone AI made live easier for us. This issus is really only relivant to ships that never fit guns and like to AFK and let drones do the work.


The most recent fix my guess was to reduce the incomming DPS for people who were paying attention do the drones wont get insta poped as much.
Norrin Ellis
Doomheim
#3 - 2012-12-19 12:48:30 UTC  |  Edited by: Norrin Ellis
I use a Navy Domi with 5x 350mm Railgun II. I carry a drone loadout for multiple uses, including 5x Orge II (general purpose dps), 5x Berserker II (Angel rats), 5x Garde II (stuff orbiting in their effective range), and 5x Hobgoblin II (small stuff). There is not a single mission that this ship will not handle (though I do prefer a Navythron for some missions for efficiency reasons).

Since Retribution, I've seen no reason to use this ship anymore. The features page for the expansion had a dev comment that he lost 2 drones in 9 L4 missions while testing. Given that the prior loss rate for anyone paying attention was maybe 2 drones per 100 missions (for a bad sample of 100), this represented an epic nerf even at the advertised loss rate. The reports from players, of course, have been that the loss rate is much higher.

The simple reality is that drones pop quickly and recall slowly, so any aggro on them at all is an extremely high probability of losing them. The adjustments as of this morning don't seem to indicate that the NPCs' hatred level has really changed, only their target selection--and even that in a manner that has no apparent impact, considering that most pilots will use the appropriate sized drone (or larger) for any given target, so those drones will still be targeted and destroyed.

Now, I've seen a lot of folks who wanted drones to be nerfed come around and troll by saying things like, "I'm using a drone ship and it works just fine!" Frankly, given the vast majority of actual drone users who are reporting serious problem, I find such claims hard to believe.

Others have been offering workarounds such as "use EWAR" to mitigate NPC rage against drones. Why would I put a web on a drone boat? This is a useful module on a large-turret battleship that needs to snag smaller targets just to hit them, but proper drone loadouts make this a pointless module in its own right. Why would any mission runner fit an ECM? This is a waste of a fitting on any mission boat, and expecting a pilot to use an ECM solely for the purpose of making his primary weapon actually useful as a primary weapon is akin to making turret or missile boats fit a multispec sensor backup arroay (a useless module in its own right) in order for the weapon to fire. Why should drones be the only weapon system that requires a gimmick to make them function as intended?

I'd like to hear from someone who has actually been using drones--not a troll who just wants to validate his glee for the nerf by saying, "I'm totally epic with drones even after Retribution!"--offer a comparison between the original Retribution AI and the AI after today's adjustments.

Thanks.
Tippia
Sunshine and Lollipops
#4 - 2012-12-19 12:48:40 UTC
Norrin Ellis wrote:
Sentries are fine in specific range bands, but large drones are often the preferred general purpose weapon. I send them after that battleship orbiting me at 50 km.
Yeah, don't do that.

There is absolutely no reason to ever use heavies against anything other than close-orbiting battleships (eg. Angels and the occasional Merc). Sentries will always be a better choice against anything else — hell, with the right mods and a bit of manoeuvring, they're the right choice for those close-quarter targets as well.

Depending on how strictly they adhere to this new logic (I haven't had the opportunity to test it yet), it will make it silly easy to kill frigates — just send the wrong drone after them and bloat their sigs or slow them down and they'll go pop soon enough.
Norrin Ellis
Doomheim
#5 - 2012-12-19 12:51:13 UTC
Failpost
Don Aubaris
#6 - 2012-12-19 13:01:32 UTC

Ofc it will not solve anything : just yesterday I lost 5 out of 10 heavies I deployed. And no I was not afk. There were no frigs around just 1 cruiser and 2 BS. I micro-managed them. They were fighting at 30 km's. 1 hit and they were recalled. 5 did not make it back to the ship. The rest was far into armor and structure. Drones should not so easily be hit.

With the described changes, this will stay so.

I do not like close combat. But apparantly your ships needs to be now in the middle of the action if you want to use drones. I could as well chosen a blaster-boat then.

Why is it so hard for CCP to say : " we screwed up. We'll roll it back. And we'll go work on the drone-interface fist. Then see how we can change the whole aggro thing. " Putting bandages on a wooden leg doesn't help.

Norrin Ellis
Doomheim
#7 - 2012-12-19 13:14:25 UTC
Tippia wrote:
There is absolutely no reason to ever use heavies against anything other than close-orbiting battleships (eg. Angels and the occasional Merc).

I'm afraid I must disagree on this point. The Garde II drone has an effective range out to about 45 km. We can argue the merits of different sentries all day, but I prefer the Garde II on my all-purpose mission boat because more rat types are weak to thermal (primarily or secondarily) than any other damage type. Therefore, anything beyond 45 km is going to require the deployment of Ogre II (also selected for damage type).

Furthermore, when damped or ECM'd all to hell, the best thing to have on the field are heavies that can engage any target at any range (up to about 84 km for me). In fact, once heavies are deployed for anything, I often find it better to let them do their thing (or micromanage them) rather than wait for them to recall just to deploy sentries.

I'd be disingenuous if I didn't admit that the laziness factor is an advantage of a drone boat. Granted, I'm not AFK missioning, but I also don't need my recreational activity to feel like a chore--or a job. In exchange for their lazy factor, I accept that drones are not the most efficient weapon for clearing most missions (they shouldn't be the weapon of choice for the hardcore ISK / LP farmer). I also accept that they are, in fact, destructible, but it seems to me that the pilot who is paying attention should not be left to suffer significant drone losses--this should primarily be a concern for the person who is indeed AFK.

In short, I respectfully disagree with your assessment of the utility of heavy drones. I find them useful in several circumstances.
Rengerel en Distel
#8 - 2012-12-19 13:21:06 UTC
We were testing these changes on Duality (i believe, there has been no dev feedback). Heavies were basically useless in nearly every test. They instantly got aggro in most every test environment. If you have to use heavies, as Tippia said, it can only be on ships <5km or so, or you'll have little chance of getting them back consistently.

Overall, the AI makes even less sense than before, as it seems to want you to downsize your drones to fight bigger targets, while just throwing heavies away in most cases. Lights vs BC, medium vs BS, that's emergent game play.

With the increase in shiptoasting, the Report timer needs to be shortened.

Arduemont
The State of War.
#9 - 2012-12-19 13:26:45 UTC  |  Edited by: Arduemont
Your problem, seems to be that your using heavy drones for missions.

Heavy drones have higher DPS on paper but leak deeps between targets massively. Just use sentries because your effective DPS is higher because there is no travel delay between targets and if they start taking damage you can recall them instantly. Replace your heavies with Wardens for longer range stuff and you'll be fine.

Earning ISK in missions is all about effective DPS and heavies are crap at it. If your ECMed and your heavies start wandering off to 85km away from their current location you loose all the DPS you could be applying whilst they are meandering off somewhere in no particular rush. Your wardens, however can apply that DPS instantly out at that distance, and even though the DPS isn't as high, the target will still be dead before your heavies would have even got there.

"In the age of information, ignorance is a choice." www.stateofwar.co.nf

Destination SkillQueue
Doomheim
#10 - 2012-12-19 13:28:05 UTC
Rengerel en Distel wrote:
We were testing these changes on Duality (i believe, there has been no dev feedback). Heavies were basically useless in nearly every test. They instantly got aggro in most every test environment. If you have to use heavies, as Tippia said, it can only be on ships <5km or so, or you'll have little chance of getting them back consistently.

Overall, the AI makes even less sense than before, as it seems to want you to downsize your drones to fight bigger targets, while just throwing heavies away in most cases. Lights vs BC, medium vs BS, that's emergent game play.


I guess it's supposed to mimic rational thinking. NPCs are ignoring drones, that aren't that much of a threat against them and primary actual threats instead. Sending heavies after anyone in long range was always pretty stupid in other areas of the game, so why not make it stupid against the weaker NPCs too.
Complex Potential
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Caldari State
#11 - 2012-12-19 13:28:27 UTC
Tippia wrote:
Norrin Ellis wrote:
Sentries are fine in specific range bands, but large drones are often the preferred general purpose weapon. I send them after that battleship orbiting me at 50 km.
Yeah, don't do that.

There is absolutely no reason to ever use heavies against anything other than close-orbiting battleships (eg. Angels and the occasional Merc). Sentries will always be a better choice against anything else — hell, with the right mods and a bit of manoeuvring, they're the right choice for those close-quarter targets as well.

Depending on how strictly they adhere to this new logic (I haven't had the opportunity to test it yet), it will make it silly easy to kill frigates — just send the wrong drone after them and bloat their sigs or slow them down and they'll go pop soon enough.


Have to agree here.

Sentries attract far less aggro, can be recalled instantly and can be used in almost all situation to hit the battleship sized rats. Using a decent faction web and Tech 2 Bouncers I can still hit angels orbiting at 6-10km.

The drop in tracking from Bouncer II to Bouncer I is significant though so having sentry drone interfacing to 5 is basically essential now.
Norrin Ellis
Doomheim
#12 - 2012-12-19 13:29:14 UTC
Rengerel en Distel wrote:

Overall, the AI makes even less sense than before, as it seems to want you to downsize your drones to fight bigger targets, while just throwing heavies away in most cases. Lights vs BC, medium vs BS, that's emergent game play.

This is what struck me when I read the patch note. The change incentivizes using the wrong drone for the job at hand.

In fairness, however, someone pointed out that as long as you prioritize targets from small to large, you don't have to worry about the big ships tearing up your small drones. My concern, of course, is that the small ships are sufficient to tear up the small drones, and that target selection needs to be based on the situation. While small to large may be effective in many, perhaps even most, cases, it is not always the right way, and being locked into that prioritization is a nerf in itself.
Inxentas Ultramar
Orde van Oranje Nassau
Evictus.
#13 - 2012-12-19 13:32:53 UTC
I'm no great drone user or mission runner, I mostly rat for my ISK in lowsec. I prefer autocannons and artillery. But since Retribution hit I've lost about every drone I ever launched from my Hurricane. I'm probably doing it wrong anyway, but with my playstyle drones just arent usefull to add some simple DPS or go after closely orbiting frigates anymore.

I reverted back to Warrior I's, because they are cheaper chaff then T2 or utility drones. They went from an attack method to a panic button as far as I am concerned. I enjoy the new AI because it makes missioning / ratting with a few people more interesting. To bad it impacts drones so such a degree I have a hard time taking them serious as an offensive method.
Norrin Ellis
Doomheim
#14 - 2012-12-19 13:34:05 UTC
For those of you who simply say sentries are the one-size-fits-all solution, please explain to me why CCP shouldn't just remove heavies from the game rather than make complicated AI changes? I mean, if heavies are useless or terribly inefficient pre-nerf and post-nerf, yet sentries are just perfect pre-nerf and post-nerf, wouldn't removing the heavies be the most rational solution?

As for putting a web on a drone boat to make the sentries work in certain situations, I've already addressed that. I use a variety of drones so that I don't have to waste slots on things like webs.
Tippia
Sunshine and Lollipops
#15 - 2012-12-19 13:34:46 UTC  |  Edited by: Tippia
Norrin Ellis wrote:
I'm afraid I must disagree on this point. The Garde II drone has an effective range out to about 45 km.
You need more omnilinks. Blink
Even when the Gardes fight in falloff, they'll do more then enough damage to outweigh the travel time of heavy drones at longer ranges. For targets that are further out, the other sentries will do the job nicely (it is probably not a coincidence that aside from the bouncers, the sentries' damage type match the kinds of targets that like to sit at their optimal range).

Quote:
Furthermore, when damped or ECM'd all to hell, the best thing to have on the field are heavies that can engage any target at any range (up to about 84 km for me).
If you have targets that are that spread out, you might as well just dump a couple of Wardens on the field and go ot bed. Again, their damage will be lower, but it''l still be high enough to outweigh the travel time (especially if we're talking about those ranges — Ogres can happily take 2-3 minutes to switch targets in such a case).

Norrin Ellis wrote:
For those of you who simply say sentries are the one-size-fits-all solution, please explain to me why CCP shouldn't just remove heavies from the game rather than make complicated AI changes?
Because sentries are not a one-size-fits-all solution. They are of very limited use in PvP, for instance, where you need to be on the move and where the enemy may fly intelligently to counteract them. For missions, with veeeery few exceptions, you don't, so sentries are the better option.
Complex Potential
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#16 - 2012-12-19 13:37:06 UTC
Norrin Ellis wrote:
For those of you who simply say sentries are the one-size-fits-all solution, please explain to me why CCP shouldn't just remove heavies from the game rather than make complicated AI changes? I mean, if heavies are useless or terribly inefficient pre-nerf and post-nerf, yet sentries are just perfect pre-nerf and post-nerf, wouldn't removing the heavies be the most rational solution?

As for putting a web on a drone boat to make the sentries work in certain situations, I've already addressed that. I use a variety of drones so that I don't have to waste slots on things like webs.


Basically because heavies are still useful for PVP situations.

As for not wanting to use a web... well, I can understand that but a solution is a solution even if you don't like it.
Norrin Ellis
Doomheim
#17 - 2012-12-19 13:37:33 UTC
Tippia, I think you missed the part where I said I play for fun, not for max efficiency. This is not my job. It is a game I enjoy. I enjoyed using all of my drones prior to the nerf. Again, if sentries are--and have always been--the one-size-fits-all solution, why have the other drones in the game?
Complex Potential
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Caldari State
#18 - 2012-12-19 13:39:27 UTC
Norrin Ellis wrote:
Tippia, I think you missed the part where I said I play for fun, not for max efficiency. This is not my job. It is a game I enjoy. I enjoyed using all of my drones prior to the nerf. Again, if sentries are--and have always been--the one-size-fits-all solution, why have the other drones in the game?


For P. V. P.
Clith
The Scope
Gallente Federation
#19 - 2012-12-19 13:41:28 UTC
How can you enjoy using drones? They have the second worst interface in Eve (Pos management being the worst) which makes trying to use them horrible
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#20 - 2012-12-19 13:44:17 UTC
Clith wrote:
How can you enjoy using drones? They have the second worst interface in Eve (Pos management being the worst) which makes trying to use them horrible

Difficult to argue with that. If the interface updated a bit quicker it would help but yes, all the right clicking is a chore.
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