Wednesday, November 11, 2009

New CSM Blog

It seems some people have linked to this blog in error. While I used this website for my previous CSM campaigns, I have retired this blog, and will be making all future posts for my CSM 4 campaigns(and anything subsequent to that) at my new blog. Please update your bookmarks.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Thank you all

Well, the results are in, and I didn't win a seat on the third Council of Stellar Management. That said, I'd like to thank everyone who voted for me and who helped me out, and I'd like to congratulate the nine winners on their success. I wish them all the best of luck.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Update: Polls are now closed

There's not much time left to vote - polls close at the next downtime. If you haven't voted yet, please do so now. I'd prefer you vote for me, of course, but the process matters too - figure out who will represent you best, and vote for them with all your accounts. I don't want to see voter turnout keep slipping, for fear of CCP writing the CSM off as a failed experiment. Please, vote.

Edit: Seems I was in error about when the polls closed - they actually closed at midnight game time, and thus voting is now over. Thanks to everyone who participated, and I'm looking forward to seeing the results.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

New Assembly Hall post

I've been getting especially annoyed at POS mechanics lately, so I posted a thread with a proposal to clean them up a little. Nothing revolutionary, but I think it'd help a lot. Check it out, and if you could give it a thumbs-up that'd be appreciated too.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

New speech

Atraxerxes, of the Fly Reckless podcast, asked CSM candidates for speeches, and I figured that I should probably post mine for people who don't listen to his podcast. It's nothing special, but anyone interested can get it off Eve Files here. Hope you enjoy it.

Here's the text:

Hi, I'm Herschel Yamamoto, and I'm running for a seat on the next Council of Stellar Management. My platform is built on three main areas.

Firstly, the user interface is weak, and desperately needs many specific fixes, as well as the more general solution of allowing player mods to allow everyone to play the game with the interface that they like best.

Secondly, the CSM doesn't do a good enough job communicating with players, and I'll work to improve communication as well as streamlining our treatment of smaller issues.

Third, while I have positions on many fields of gameplay, but the two I'm focusing on are making lowsec more valuable and adding more charisma skills, to increase the utility of these underused parts of the game.

I am an experienced candidate, having been a dedicated CSM-watcher since the body was founded, as well as having experience on many similar bodies in real life. I am dedicated to working for you, the player, and will represent you faithfully throughout the term. I have the support of many past CSM members, as well as many other players form a wide variety of professions, and I'd like your support as well. If you'd like to know more, just visit my site at

Thank you.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Voting is open!

CSM 3 voting is officially open. The voting page is here and you can vote for me here. You have until the 26th to vote.

Even if you don't choose to vote for me, please make up your mind about who you feel can represent you best and vote for them. The CSM is a genuinely useful body(if you don't believe me, look at that shiny new skill queue they got us, after years of every other attempt failing), and the more players participate, the stronger our ability to bring your issues forward to CCP. Please make sure that your voice is heard.

Monday, May 4, 2009

CSM Candidates At A Glance

(Click for full version)

Due to an idea posted by Small Chimp, I've decided to try to make it possible for voters to get a read on all CSM candidates at a glance, without having to sort through 40 campaign pages. It should be pointed out that a lot of the candidates gave much longer answers than what I have written above for the first two questions. I've run all abbreviations by them, but not everyone has responded. Any faults in summarization are my own.

The full version of the questions asked are:

What is the single biggest issue you will attempt to work on if elected to the CSM?

What is your single biggest activity as an Eve player?

Rate your knowledge of the following aspects of the game on a scale from 1 to 10, where 10 is high:
- 0.0 Warfare
- Piracy
- PvE
- Industry

Rate your general happiness with the following aspects of the game on a scale from 1 to 10, where 10 is high:
- Supercapital ships
- Sovereignty mechanics
- Low security space
- Local chat channel
- Minerals and T1 items in NPC loot
- Players being allowed to join NPC corps at will
- The user interface

Additional candidates will be filled in as I get answers back from them.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

CSM #3 Campaign Overview

This is an overview of my platform as a candidate for the third Council of Stellar Management. For more information on any of the points below, just click the links.

Why I'm Running

Policy: User Interface
- I will work for the implementation of a modifiable user interface, to allow each player to play the game in the most comfortable and efficient fashion for them. This will be carefully monitored to ensure that macroing is not made easier by this change.
- I will work for the implementation of improvements to existing areas of Eve's user interface, especially the poorly-implemented areas like EveMail, the In-Game Browser, and the official forums.

Policy: CSM Internal
- I will ensure better communication between the CSM and the player base, both by creating more accessible reference materials for players to see what the CSM is doing, and by streamlining the Assembly Hall process to allow the CSM to see what players want more effectively.
- I will look into the possibility of moving the CSM debates to a publicly-viewable forum, to allow better debate among CSM members and to allow players to better see what their representatives are doing and why.
- I will attempt to create a streamlined process for small issues that don't require much debate, so that they can be considered more easily and not ignored.
- If I am elected as CSM Chair, I will resign the Chair and allow a vote of the CSM members on who ought to be our Chair.

Policy: Gameplay
I have opinions and policies about many areas of gameplay, but the below are some highlights.
- I will look into ways to make lowsec more habitable by players. This will include both an increase in lowsec profitability, through mechanisms such as new ores(Thread) and better exploration sites, and the ability to gain "lowsec sovereignty" to allow players to defend their space without losing as much security standing. (Thread)
- I will work to add new epic arcs to the game which will allow players to recover low faction standings with a significant time investment. (Thread)
- I will look into new skills which can reasonably be added to underused skill trees, such as Corporation Management and Trade, with a special emphasis on the addition of Charisma-using skills.
- For all other proposals, I will work to improve the game as a whole, rather than one favoured part of it, I will ensure that proposals I make are well-considered and reasonable, and I will consult with players on proposed changes.

About Me

CSM #3: Why I'm Running

On November 14th, 2007, I was logged in to change skills and update my research lines, when a corpmate mentioned a new dev blog about something called the "Council of Stellar Management". I had no idea what he was talking about, so I went onto the website and looked up the dev blog. Inside, I found a 20 page chunk of political philosophy shoehorned into the mold of a computer game. In it also lay the soul of Eve.

I do not believe that CCP set out to make a game when they designed Eve, and I do not believe that they think in terms of making a game today. Of course, they do so superficially, but at its heart, CCP has built a world for us to play in, rather than merely a game for us to play with. Market share, player enjoyment, and all the rest matter, but they're secondary to building a world that feels real and that makes sense as a world. Concessions to gameplay exist - infinite supplies of enemies, respawning asteroids in belts 50 km wide, and so on - but they always feel like it's a guilty failure of vision, not like it's a gleeful attempt to fit within the mold laid down by others.

So it was here. CCP did not talk about player input into the game as a feature, they talked about it as a natural right of individuals living in a civilization. Their goal was to create a "deliberative democracy" to allow the will of the people to express itself to the government. Of course, it contained the usual CCP excesses - a grand document they spent huge amounts of time on with promises they still haven't delivered on a year later, Wikipedia footnotes, and half-completed proofreading - but in this case it truly is the thought that counts.

The thought, in this case, was the thought that makes democracy a functional system of government in worlds both real and virtual. Individuals tend to be intelligent and thoughtful, often making better decisions in large groups than even the best individual can, and they tend to work for their own good and the good of those around them. The CSM is an attempt to harness the power of democracy to improve Eve, and as such it is one of the more ambitious experiments CCP has ever attempted, but given the experimentally observed effects of democracy in the real world, it also has the potential to be one of their greatest successes.

It is our responsibility as players to ensure that this potential is not squandered because of us. Not merely because some would consider it a moral obligation, but because we will be the ones who benefit from a game that harnesses the power of democracy to better itself. If we care about the future of the game, we ought to get involved in shaping that future as best we can. We should become informed, we should be active in the political life of our society, and we should try to use our powers of reason, persuasion, and voting to attempt to enact the changes we see as being the most beneficial. We should stand up for what we believe in because we believe in it.

This is what I have attempted to do as a member of the Eve universe ever since the Council of Stellar Management became a reality last April. I gathered information, read the platform of every candidate who had one, and cast my vote for the candidate who I believed had the best vision to take the game forward. I have been involved in the CSM's processes from the beginning, being probably the most active player in the CSM-specific forums, and having done what I can at every point to aid the CSM's internal processes, participating in everything from the keeping list of topics raised updated to creating archive threads for past CSM information to participating in virtually every discussion of how the CSM can improve its ways of doing business.

The only way I have not participated thus far is by holding a seat on the Council in my own right, and now is the time to change that. I have a strong agenda for the future that I genuinely believe will make the game a better one for everybody, and I believe that my vision is shared by enough other players that I can make a real difference in Eve going forward. As such, I am asking for your support to be a member of the next Council of Stellar Management.

My slogan is a simple one - "Experience. Dedication. Clarity." - but it encapsulates the core of my campaign and my beliefs. I have more experience with the CSM than most other candidates in this race, having been as involved as a non-member can be since day one, and having a significant amount of experience with similar bodies in the real world. I am fiercely dedicated to fulfilling my responsibilities to others, and I will never shirk them or abandon them because it's too hard or too boring. And I believe strongly in a series of measures designed to improve clarity in the CSM (rules of order and improved resources for players to understand what we are doing) and in Eve (a wide array of improvements to the user interface and to documentation of how the game works). My beliefs are more complex than that, as any person's are, but that is the core of why I am running and what I will do if the players entrust me with a seat on the Council.

I do not run because I think I can bend the game to my will, or because I think I will be able to dictate terms to CCP. The CSM is an advisory body, not a legislature, and it must act as one. There are things that cannot be done due to limited resources, things that will not be done due to the developers having responsibilities to CCP shareholders that take precedence over their responsibilities to Eve players, and things that will be done very differently than we propose because of the rounds of testing that ideas must go through before they are made into final changes to the game.

However, we as players have one great advantage offsetting the limitations I just described, and that is that CCP genuinely does care. They may do boneheaded things from time to time - the fact that Eve was not intended as a game shows up in negative ways as well as positive - and I will attack them when that happens. But at the end of the day, CCP loves this game as much as any player, because it is both their passion and their child. They want to see what is best for Eve, and they have entrusted us as players with a major role in that process. It is our responsibility to ensure that we work with the developers, that we advise them to the best of our collective ability, and that we do what is best for Eve. And with your help, that is precisely what I intend to spend the next six months doing.

Thank you.

CSM #3 Policy: User Interface

I will begin by giving credit where credit is due - CCP has been consistently improving the user interface for years. Changes ranging from contracts to the Align To button to the drone changes that have been happening for years now to dozens of others have made the user's experience better and made the game consistently more playable. CCP has been implementing these constantly over the last several expansions, and they have genuinely helped.

However, as much as the game has been changing for the better, it hasn't been changing nearly fast enough. Game reviewer Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw said it best:
The interface could only be less intuitive if your monitor was at the bottom of a well...I was going to say in jest that Eve feels like a game that doesn't seem to want to be played at all, but on reflection I think I might be onto something.
And, whether you trust his reviews or not, his response fits well with what I've heard from many other people I've tried to bring into the game. I have yet to come across anyone who wasn't an Eve veteran who thought the UI was anything better than marginally usable, and after two years I still only find it adequate.

CCP may have a team of UI programmers, but there are limits on what three or four people can do for a game as sprawling as Eve with as bad of a UI as it has, especially given that this isn't changes to an alpha test version but instead to a long-deployed game. They need to come up with improvements, and they need to work within a pile of code that they can't just rip up and change, and they have to do this without annoying any significant number of people. It's not surprising that they're moving slowly, but it is immensely frustrating.

This is not a phrase I will utter very often, but this is a field where Eve could stand to learn quite a lot from World of Warcraft. I have never played WoW myself, but I know a lot of people who do, and all of them rave about the utility of user-created user interface modifications. You want to move buttons around, you can download a quick little file that will do so, and all of a sudden the UI is exactly the way you want it, without the developers ever having to lift a finger. As with most other forms of distributed problem-solving, it works incredibly well.

Players with programming skill go into the UI, fix whatever problem annoys them, and then post the patch on a central website for others to use. You need one person to make a change and the whole community benefits from it. Of course, Eve does not have the same size of player base as WoW, but a quarter of a million people will contain one who gets annoyed by just about any problem you care to name - as evidenced by all the game utility sites that exist today - and then the devs can gain freedom of movement, since any bad change can be reverted by the players, and the players get to play with exactly the UI they want.

Of course, there are concerns with this process, but they are concerns that other games have dealt with successfully. The game cannot be so moddable that people can use game tools to build macros to play the game for them. Some interactions are too powerful and will need to be removed. The devs will have to keep on top of what is available and what is being used to ensure that the tools that they provide are not being used for undesirable purposes. However, I believe this to be an important change, perhaps even the single most useful change that could be made to the game right now. As such, I will work to establish a modifiable user interface for Eve, and I will treat this as the single most important goal of my term of office.

However, even if my goal of a user-moddable UI is implemented tomorrow, the game still needs to cater to new players, and as such the default user interface will still need work. There have been several players who have created lists of UI problems for the developers to fix, most notably Xaen with his thread Xaen's List of UI Improvements, now approaching three years old. I encourage attempts to create a systematic process for collating and advancing complaints about the UI, and I will seek to involve the CSM in this process in future. The proposal to have a streamlined process for minor issues(see the CSM Internal post below) should help immensely with this, but I will also encourage players to submit larger proposals of this type as well, such as the badly needed overhaul of the Science and Industry interface.

I know that the user interface is not as impressive an issue to deal with as changes to capital warfare or as likely to make headlines. It is, however, just as important to the long-term health of the game and to the good tempers of those playing it. While it will not be the only focus of my term of office, I think this is an area that has not been addressed adequately to date, and it is one where there is still a lot of real progress that needs to be made.

CSM #3 Policy: CSM Internal

I have been watching the CSM very carefully over the past 12 months, and have seen many of the issues that have affected how the two Councils have done their job. While much has been done to make the Council function more effectively over the last year, there are still many changes which can and should be made to improve its ability to represent players in an effective and efficient manner. There are three issues in particular which I will make it a priority to improve upon if elected to CSM #3.

Firstly, communication between the CSM and the players needs work. It is difficult for a player looking casually to find meeting minutes, resources on what the Council is and how best to work with it, what items are on the agenda for the next meeting, and other important information. As such, I would like to see the CSM post some resource threads for stickying, both in the Assembly Hall and Jita Park, giving players quick access to the minutes of past meetings and other important information, as well as telling them how to properly submit their ideas.

Secondly, I believe that the chat format is not the best way to have CSM meetings, and a forum system should be seriously considered. It gives CSM members more time and space for debates without being limited by forcing real-time communications on a world-spanning group - much as we all appreciate Omber Zombie's willingness to stay up until 5 AM to hold meetings, it's not something that should be necessary. It also allows arguments to be laid out more clearly and with more time for consideration of points in debate than is possible in a real-time format. Of course, meetings with CCP will have to be held in real time, and it may not be technically possible to establish the right sort of forum for this, but I believe that it offers enough advantages to be worth looking into.

Thirdly, the CSM has always gotten a large number of small issues that, while not important in the same way that changes to sovereignty or mineral sources are important, are still worthy of mention to CCP. I believe that a streamlined process for minor issues should be created, so that issues which are minor and will not require much debate can be passed quickly, instead of requiring them to catch a CSM member's eye, go through a debate at the CSM meeting, and have a full discussion at a meeting with CCP. Ideally, an issue on the Assembly Hall would just be marked with [Minor], CSM members would vote in the thread itself, and all such issues that pass will be passed along to CCP, without significant discussion, at every meeting.

Finally, I believe that the position of Chair of the CSM should be selected from among the members by a vote, instead of by the players. It is fundamentally an administrative position, not a leadership position, and as such it should be decided based on who will be the best administrator, not on who will be the best CSM member. I will seek to change this rule going forward. Also, if I am elected Chair, I will step down at the first meeting and allow a vote of the CSM membership on who will run our group.

CSM #3 Policy: Gameplay

Gameplay is a broad topic, and I have opinions on a wide range of issues related to the actual gameplay mechanics of Eve. I've picked out two to give emphasis to in this campaign, but if you want to know my opinions on any topic, feel free to contact me in-game, on this site, or by email.

The first topic I'd like to focus on is the issue of low-security space. At present, lowsec is basically a wasteland. It's the realm of too many pirates chasing not enough targets, with the odd factional warfare gang, newbie on autopilot, alliance convoy, or industrialist using short-wait research lines to mix it up a little bit. It should be a stepping stone for players and corporations who want to move towards the more lucrative but more dangerous 0.0 space, not a scrapheap that seemingly exists solely to sit in between useful parts of space. There have been some improvements in the state of lowsec in recent months. Most notably, the addition of battleship rats was a welcome change, adding significantly to the profitability of lowsec ratting. However, I don't believe that this is enough. Lowsec will never be as busy as Jita, but it needs to be improved further so that there's a reason for risk-tolerating players to try their hand at it.

I do not believe that the solution to lowsec lies in doing one big thing, no matter what that one thing is. Space that is mostly useless but has one overwhelmingly profitable thing is difficult to balance, swingy, and doesn't promote a healthy environment. You get people doing that one thing, and the pirates who hunt them, and nothing else. And if that one thing ever dries up, we're back to square one. The correct solution to lowsec is a smaller, but more wide-ranging, buff. Don't give it 0.0 moon mining and highsec ore, give it a medium level of both. As such, I have brought up a number of proposals for buffing lowsec. None of them does the job by itself, but none is supposed to. Each will bring in some new people, and together they should lead us to a better lowsec all around, with many groups who have a reason to want to visit.

The two primary improvements that I see as necessary to this change are a significant improvement to the profitability of lowsec mining, to bring it back up to being a fair bit more profitable than highsec mining, and the ability for players to claim lowsec space as their own and defend it without destroying their ability to enter highsec. My thread on lowsec mining has several interesting ideas for how to improve the profitability of lowsec mining, all of which I will bring forward to CCP if elected. My personal preference is for new ores, to allow lowsec to remain profitable even if nocxium is cheap, but the proposals for illegal crystals or even a simple buff to the existing lowsec ores are also worth looking at.

The proposal for lowsec occupancy is more complex, but I believe that it will help greatly in establishing actual residents of lowsec other than -10 pirates. For the details of this proposal, look at the thread I posted on the topic, but the broad strokes are to allow corporations to gain occupancy status in lowsec systems not currently used for factional warfare, which will grant them a POS fuel use reduction as well as several mechanics to let players better defend their space from incursions without losing sec status nearly as quickly as they do at present. The proposal has been balanced to ensure that this doesn't just mean that alliances conquer all of lowsec, or that pirates take over a system and get free ganks on any passers-by. Of course, some systems will likely be held by large alliances or pirate corporations, but the bulk of the use of this mechanic will likely be from smaller corporations looking to establish an actual presence in lowsec, which is exactly the sort of thing needed to make lowsec more heavily occupied and otherwise more useful space.

Related to this is the idea of adding new epic mission arcs. I have already proposed this, and it has been taken up by the current CSM, but I will continue to work for its implementation going forward. This proposal is intended to serve two main purposes. First, it deals with the longstanding issue of players being irrevocably frozen out of a faction's space due to low standings in a much nicer way than at present. It is simple, logical, has the correct level of effort required, and should be interesting to play through instead of just endless grinding. Secondly, while the proposal will be usable for minor and pirate factions, the primary use of it will be for the four main empires, and for the four empires the arc will be based in lowsec. This fits into the aforementioned goal of providing many groups reasons to visit lowsec - there aren't many people who want to recover standings at any given time, but they're yet another group who can be given a good reason to visit lowsec.

The second broad topic is the improvement of some underused skill trees. This is not as pressing an issue as it was during the last election, due to the addition of neural remapping in Apocrypha, but there still ought to be a better balance between the skill trees and attributes. In particular, Charisma skills are in woefully short supply. A player can easily spend two years in a Per/Wil specialization, training ships and guns, but there are barely enough skills using Charisma to fill a one-year specialization even if you take everything useful to 5. While remapping helps those looking to lower their Charisma, it doesn't do much for people who want to use it. I think that there are many reasonable Charisma-using skills that could be added to the game. I believe that there is room for a significant expansion of the Corporation Management tree, with some specialized skills for POS gunnery, as well as an expansion of corporate officer roles to include new skills(I've got a thread on this topic I'll be raising once I have the details ironed out). There's also room for a couple Social skills to be added, such as one to determine how often you can decline missions. I'll do a lot of consulting before I make a final proposal on what sort of skills should be added, but those are the areas where I think there is room for useful expansion. There will never be as many Cha skills as Per or Int, but it should be less lopsided.

There are, of course, a thousand other gameplay issues I could discuss. Issues like balancing of Doomsday Devices, revamping of sovereignty, allowing alliances into Factional Warfare, fundamentally changing the nature of how rats drop loot, revamping the production cycle to include components, and dozens of others in this vein have been the primary job of the CSM thus far, and this will not change in future. There are far too many of these issues for me to express an opinion on each of them here, but if you want to know about any of them, just ask me. However, I will outline my approach to these issues generally.

Firstly, my primary goal is to do what is best for the game as a whole. I'm not running to benefit one group at the expense of others, and even if I was, CCP wouldn't implement any such proposals. There are always winners and losers in a change, but I will do my best to ensure that every change I propose would create more winners.

Secondly, I will ensure that every proposal I make is careful and well-considered. I like to muse about many things on the forums, but when it comes time to do this as a responsibility and not a hobby, I will take it seriously and ensure that my advice to CCP is as good as I can make it. CCP operates under limits on time, money, programmers, public relations and player sentiment, and they are hemmed in by the consequences of their past actions. If the CSM does not respect these limitations and seek to work within them ourselves, we might as well be talking to a wall, because our suggestions will be useless to CCP. I will attempt to make proposals that respect the real limitations on CCP, and that work within those limitations to make a better game for everybody.

And thirdly, I will consult with players on proposed changes. I read a large swath of the forums, and I like to think that I generally know what's going on with the game, but I don't know Doomsdays as well as a Titan pilot, and I don't know manufacturing as well as a long-time T2 builder. If I'm proposing major changes to the way that these people play the game, I intend to talk with them first. That includes any other CSM reps with special knowledge of one aspect of the game, and it includes players at large. I will maintain an open-door policy when communicating with you, the player, and will take into consideration what the players tell me on issues. Nobody gets a veto, but if you have something to say I'll listen.

CSM #3: About Me

My name is Alex Sloat, and I am a 22 year old living in Brantford, Ontario, Canada who recently graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Economics. I have been heavily involved with political bodies of many sorts, both partisan and not, since I was 16, and have a great deal of experience with positions on elected bodies, including a large amount of experience with bodies structured much like the CSM is.

In Eve, I play as Herschel Yamamoto, an Achura pilot specializing in Gallentean combat ships, and I've been playing for over two years. I engage in a wide variety of activities - I do missions, I explore wormholes, I invent T2 cruisers, and I engage in PvP both as a mercenary and a pirate. In the past I've also done everything from aggressive wardecs to running Marauder lotteries. I have at some point done virtually every activity outside of 0.0, and even then I try to learn as much about how things work there as I can so that I can comment on it intelligently.

Since the CSM was announced, I have taken a strong interest in the body, and have been active in its processes. I've read all the meeting minutes, had conversations with many of the members, provided a great deal of support work to the current Council - most notably, keeping the list of topics in the Assembly Hall up to date for Serenity for two months until the thread died - and have been probably the most active and dedicated person around the CSM who was not a member or alternate.

Both in real life and in game, I am an active participant in what is going on in the world, and I have no objection to working hard in order to make sure that I don't let those around me down or shirk my responsibilities.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Stealth Bomber and ECM ships - Proposed changes

So CCP has been busy with proposals to rebalance a couple classes of ships - ECM ships and Stealth Bombers. I've spent a couple days mulling over these changes and theorycrafting with corpmates, and I've got some drafts of what I think these ships ought to ultimately look like.

First, ECM. There are seven ECM ships - Griffin, Kitsune, Blackbird, Rook, Falcon, Scorpion, Widow - but the problem is the Falcon. Unfortunately, balancing the Falcon requires changes to other roles in order to make it all make sense, and thus we're getting a wide-ranging change, with the attendant difficulties in pleasing everybody. The Griffin, Kitsune, Blackbird, and Widow are fine as-is, and are generally agreed to need no changes. The Rook would likely also be fine if the Falcon got nerfed down to the point where the Rook was noticeably better at ECM, instead of its sole advantage being the laughable bonus to missile damage, though a slight buff to ECM strength(to 25% per level, say) might be worthwhile as well.

At present, the Falcon gets both the important bonuses - ECM range and ECM strength - along with the covops cloak, and has no drawbacks. It needs to lose one of those bonuses. Which one depends on what role you want the ship to fill - the "brawler" or the "sniper" - and I would say that it's best to give it the opposite role to the Scorpion. If the Scorp is still a range ship, the Falcon should be short-range, if the Scorp is short-range, the Falcon should still be effective at fleet ranges, but with an unboosted ECM strength. In its place, either give it a missile damage bonus(similar to the Pilgrim's drone bonus), or maybe give it a cloaked velocity bonus like the Black Ops get, so it can at least retain some of the positioning advantages it has at present.

The Scorp is the final piece of the ship puzzle, and its fate is in the air because of a very interesting proposal made to remove its ECM range bonus in favour of a missile damage bonus, thus making it into a far more interesting solo/small gang ship. I'm of the opinion that too many ships are dedicated damage or dedicated ECM ships, and some more interesting crossover designs, like the Arbitrator is currently, would be a useful addition to the game, so I lean towards the role of the torp Scorp. However, the Scorpion is an important ship for long-range fleet warfare, and the removal of its range bonus makes it ineffective in this role. I don't fly in 0.0 blobs myself, so I'll defer somewhat to the judgment of those who do, but if the Rook (and Falcon) would make adequate replacements for the Scorpion, and the higher costs are not crippling, then it would be best to switch the Scorpion into the short-range role and let the small gangs play with it. If the removal of it would harm fleet warfare too much, then leave it as-is, drop the Falcon's range bonus, and make it play in the mud like all the other Force Recons.

And for you naysayers out there, yes, I am aware that there's a good chance that what I said above translates as "Nerf the Falcon and leave everything else alone". There's a reason for that: the Falcon is the problem. It's not game-destroying, but it is on the powerful side, and it is simply not fun. "Adapt or die" is a good maxim, but it's simply bad game design to make the most annoying tactic also be the most powerful one - it pisses off your players for no good reason.

There are two other ancillary changes being proposed in this rebalance as well, and I'll go over them briefly. The ECM range changes are an unalloyed good - ECM is not just the most powerful form of electronic warfare but also the longest-ranged, which is ludicrous. Damps and painters can justify a 200km reach(though oddly, neither actually get it, which would explain why nobody bothers with them), ECM cannot. The SDA changes, on the other hand, seem to entirely miss the point. The module still affects ECM only, giving it yet another advantage over other forms of electronic warfare, and it it still an auto-fit on pretty much all ECM ships. They need to either remove the module entirely - which, for practical reasons, they cannot - or they need to make it have some competition instead of being another case where CCP fits your ship for you. In both cases, they need to make it fair when compared to other forms of EW as well.

Ideally, I want about three "SDA" types to exist at the end of the day. There should be one that increases EW strength at the cost of range, likely EW range, but could also be targeting range if you want some more interesting ship fits. There should be one that increases EW range at the cost of EW strength. Lastly, there should be one intended primarily for ECM that is scripted to alternately increase or decrease ECM cycle times, to give players flexibility in how they want their jam cycles looking(it would still apply to other forms of EW, but it would have minimal effect there). This would make players actually need to make some decisions in how their low slots work instead of just fitting 3x SDA mindlessly, and would give players more options while making the ships less powerful at their current role of permajamming everything.

Yes, this is a nerf - three of them, really(Falcon range, ECM range, SDA lack of penalties). It is, however, something I believe to be a fair and reasonable nerf, that is eminently necessary due to the utter annoyance level of Falcons.

On the topic of stealth bombers, however, I am genuinely confused by CCP. The stealth bomber currently has an anti-support role - it uncloaks, pops a frigate, and slinks away. It's not a good role at present, but it's clearly defined and reasonably executed. Of course, it's also supposed to have a bomber role, but we all know how well that works. The role that CCP is putting it into, however, is entirely different - stealth bombers are now supposed to be anti-battleship frigates. The problem is, they've given it no bonuses whatsoever to actually filling this role. Yes, switching cruise to torp gives it a bit more DPS, but it also means that you're solidly within the range of the best anti-frigate weapon in the game - the Warrior II - and you're not actually gaining enough DPS to justify the dramatic drop in survivability that this implies. At the same time, they're throwing away its ability to do anti-support work, and it's still out-DPSed in the same role by the Raven, any pulse ship, and for that matter many sniper ships, trivially. You don't balance T2 ships towards low-skill players, and there is no reason a high-skill player would ever use a bomber instead of just using a battleship. The current conception of a torp bomber, with no further bonuses except a trivial damage bonus, has got to go. Get rid of it, start with a blank slate.

We have a valid model from history of what a small "ship" that is supposed to kill large ships looks like. Ironically, we called them torpedo bombers too. Take the biggest weapon you can, fit it on the smallest hull you can, and launch a pack of them at the nearest big, nasty enemy battleship. You're made of paper, and you can expect to take losses against anything even remotely capable of defending itself, but you'll punch far above your weight. This could be a new hull, or it could be the existing SB redone, but here's what it could look like in game terms.

- A standard Stealth Bomber's high slots will be 1x Covert Ops Cloaking Device, 1x Bomb Launcher, 3x Stealth Missile Launcher(new module)
- Covert Ops Cloaking Device has no bonus to cooldown - when you drop cloak, you are exposed for 30 seconds
- Bombs get all the standard "make them not suck" bonuses - reasonable cost, better fire control, etc.
- The Stealth Missile Launcher carries 10 torpedoes as its ammo, no more. Rate of fire, with max skills and 2 BCU, approximately 3 seconds.
- The ship also has a hidden bonus that gives all missiles(but not bombs) fired by it a 100% resistance to the racial damage type.
- The Stealth Bomber has no cargo. None whatsoever. In order to reload, it must visit either a station or a corporate hangar.

The tactics here are simple enough to understand. Get a group of 8-10 SB together - any more and the bombs would just kill each other - make a run on an enemy blob. Launch bombs, ripple-fire torpedoes at heavier targets, try not to get blown to kingdom come, and then run the hell away once you've done your job. This would actually provide a genuinely effective method of attacking battleships with frigates, though of course said frigates are still expensive(after insurance, they cost about the same as a battleship), and are still fragile as anything.

If you want some numbers, a group of 8 max-skill bombers will do 64k AOE damage with their bombs, and a further 266k targeted damage(assuming Dread Guristas torps, which is reasonable in such small quantities), all of one type, assuming that they manage to survive the full 30 seconds and get all their weapons fired. This is enough to kill four well-buffered battleships and seriously damage any others in bomb range. However, the losses on the bomber side would, in practice, be painful and likely lower this damage significantly - drones, battleship weapons, and fire from support ships would likely wipe out much of the incoming wave. Furthermore, just because the cloaking device can be reactivated after 30 seconds does not mean that you can cloak - you are still under all the regular restrictions on it, and if you are tackled you're now flying a ship with no weapons and no tank, which means you're dead.

This would provide a bit of genuine choice to larger-scale combat - your stealth bombers deliver a powerful blow, but it's an expensive one(the above SB wave would likely cost a quarter-billion, all-in), and one that is not easily repeatable short of spending quarters of billions on additional waves and dedicating 8 additional pilots to the job. Furthermore, the fact that there would now be a frigate-range combatant worth considering would force a change in fleet composition - you'd need an actual screening force, both to protect your force from bombers(faster lock and kill = fewer torps launched) and to clear away the enemy screen to give your bombers a chance.

At first glance, this may seem overpowered, but I'm not actually convinced it is. The damage numbers look rather appalling, but that's only 1107 torp DPS per bomber for the duration of the run, plus bombs. It's higher than a battleship can put out, but it's also got none of the other advantages of a battleship - no tank, no HP, no staying power, and it's more expensive to lose. It'd be stunning in a lot of contexts, but it'd also be a waste of cash and manpower in many others. It's unexpected and novel, and thus I can understand why CCP won't go for it - they don't like doing risky things to game balance, and instead prefer doing inane things that don't rock the boat - but it would seriously change a lot of combats for the better, introduce an entirely new form of gameplay that still fits well within Eve, and turn an underutilized ship into a serious part of fleet warfare. I think this is an entirely reasonable change, at least as a platform for further balance testing, and one that would be far superior to the current changes that cost us a ship with a bad role in favour of a ship with a laughable role.