Rebalancing EVE, One Module At A Time

By CCP Fozzie
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Hello again innovative capsuleers! This is CCP Fozzie bringing you another dev blog covering balance improvements that are coming your way with the upcoming Oceanus release.

This is an exciting blog for me, as we are finally ready to begin releasing the next phase in our ongoing quest to improve the selection of ships and modules available in the markets and contracts of New Eden. This blog will cover the high level plan for our “Module Tiericide” project, as well as the details of what our first steps will be in Oceanus.

We first brought you the plans for our Module Tiericide project in the Ship and Module Balancing presentation from 2014’s Fanfest. The basics of the plan haven’t changed, but I’ll repeat them here so that we’re all on the same page.

The basic goals of our Module Tiericide initiative mirror the work that we did in the field of Ship Tiericide throughout 2012 and 2013.

The Story So Far

Before Tiericide, tech one ships were split into artificial “tiers” that were intended to represent a progression from weaker ships to stronger ships. Lower tier ships required lower skill levels and cost less, but were much weaker. Higher tier ships enjoyed extra slots, more hitpoints and powerful bonuses. In practice, this system presented a false choice, as everyone correctly flocked to the highest tier ships and the lower tiers languished in disuse.

As CCP Ytterbium outlined in his Fanfest 2012 Balancing presentation, followed up with multiple dev blogs, the Tiericide initiative replaced those old tiers with a series of ship lines that represented distinct strengths and weaknesses for distinct roles. Each tech one ship within the same class (like “cruiser” or “frigate”) post-Tiericide is intended to have roughly similar overall power, but that power can and should be expressed in a variety of forms.

Module Tiericide

With Module Tiericide, we are taking our aim at another set of tiers that can stifle choice: meta levels.

The meta level attribute is partially used to differentiate classes of modules behind the scenes, but it’s most visible place for players is with the so-called “meta” modules (also known as named modules). Named modules drop from NPCs all over EVE, and were originally intended to represent a tiered set of special upgraded versions of the base T1 module. Since their names are not very helpful in determining their power level, most players have come to rely on their meta level attribute to figure out which is best at a glance. This is why the phrase “meta 4 module” has become so common in EVE.

The problem with this system is that cost/rarity tiers only work as gameplay tools if the differences in rarity and/or power are very significant. Named modules have suffered from the same problem that the old Tech One ship tiers faced before Tiericide; there’s virtually no reason to use anything other than the top level.

Our solution to this problem is to replace the meta-based named module system with a new role-based system. Each named module in a class will have roughly equivalent power level, and that power level will be above T1. Each named module will also have a specialization that gives a player interested in shopping for named modules a viable and interesting choice. As part of this system, we may consolidate a number of named modules together since we may not need four variations to represent all the areas of interesting player choice. To make it clear that meta levels will no longer represent power differences within the named modules, we will be changing all the named modules to have a meta level of 1.

This image gives a basic overview of how the meta level attribute is used now and how it will be used after Module Tiericide is complete:

You’ll notice that we are keeping the meta level progression for deadspace and officer modules. At these rarity levels the progression system is a bit more successful and can provide some valuable choices. We will be making changes to the balance surrounding deadspace and officer modules but we have no plans to unify their power levels at this time.

There is a set of images that I showed at this year’s Fanfest that still apply very well to our Module Tiericide plans, so I’d like to repeat them here. They use the hypothetical example of a beam laser module, as that example provides a lot of options for named module specializations.

This images shows the current state of meta level progression in EVE. The power level increases along the x axis, with damage modifier being the key “power” metric for lasers:

You can see that the modules mainly fit into a linear path of advancing power, which does not represent a very interesting set of choices for the player.

After the Module Tiericide of beam lasers has completed, the chart would look more like this:

Under the new system, named modules will fall into anywhere from one to four areas of specialization, so that players can choose what attributes matter the most to them.

Each specialization will also have a unique name that is consistent across all named modules, so that if you see a module with the word “Compact” at the front of it you can know that it has reduced fitting costs no matter what type of module it is.

The “named module” names that will be used in our Oceanus changes are:

  • Upgraded- Used for named modules where no specialization is possible
  • Compact- Used for named modules that specialize in reduced fitting cost
  • Enduring- Used for named modules that specialize in lower cap use or otherwise longer running time
  • Ample- Used for named modules that specialize in extra capacity
  • Scoped- Used for named modules that specialize in longer range
  • Restrained- Used for named modules that specialize in reduced drawbacks

It’s important to note that none of the named modules specialize in stronger “primary” stats, as those modules would become the obvious best choice for most situations. So every one of the named modules after Tiericide will have the same primary stats. For instance all of the named Light Missile Launchers have the same rate of fire, all of the named Capacitor Flux Coils provide the same cap/s increase, and in the future all of the named Heavy Beam Lasers will have the same damage multiplier.

We expect that we will be adding more categories as we go forward with more module groups (for instance once we move into turrets you can expect that we’ll be adding a tracking specialization).

At the same time we will be consolidating the so-called “Basic” tier of modules. These modules generally have lower skill and fitting requirements than T1, and provide a very small bonus in exchange. “Basic” modules stopped entering the game quite some time ago, but the remaining copies of the modules are sometimes used for niche fits. We will be consolidating these modules down to one type, which will generally be equal or better to the best “basic” module in the class pre-Tiericide. This new module type will be clearly labelled as “Basic” and will have the COSMOS tag to indicate that it’s a special snowflake.

 

Consolidation

Some modules will have fewer viable specializations, and in these cases we will be consolidating many types of modules into fewer types of modules. When this happens, we will follow the same procedure each time:

  1. All market orders for the affected modules will be removed, the modules and escrow will be returned to the character who created the order.
  2. We will convert every module of one type into modules of another type, everywhere in the database. This includes modules currently fit to ships and modules in containers or contracts.
  3. Any instance where the old obsolete module types are dropping from NPCs will be replaced with the new type.
  4. None of the modules we are consolidating have blueprints, so manufacturing will not be an issue in this case.

You’ll see the exact plans for what modules are being consolidated in Oceanus below.

 

What Modules Are We Starting With?

In Oceanus, we are starting the Module Tiericide project by applying the process to eight groups of modules. All of these modules represent fairly simple sets of changes as they do not have very many potential variations. They will serve as the launching point as we start the process of applying Tiericide to every module group in EVE.

The module groups being changed in Oceanus are:

  • Co-Processors
  • Reactor Control Units
  • Micro Auxiliary Power Cores
  • Light Missile Launchers
  • Capacitor Flux Coils
  • Cargo Scanners
  • Ship Scanners
  • Survey Scanners

 

Co-Processors

Co-Processors represent the simplest possible set of named modules, since there is nothing but basic power level to differentiate modules within this group. This means that the only named version will get the title “Upgraded” and all of the current named co-processors will be converted into Upgraded Co-Processors.

Beyond the changes to the named versions, we’ve also consolidated all five “Basic” versions into one single “Basic” type. The “Basic” type will get the CPU bonus of the old T1 version, and both the T1 and Upgraded versions will be getting a boost to bring them closer to T2 in power.

Finally, we’ve also gone ahead and cleaned up the progression among the faction officer versions of the Co-Processors. This mainly takes the form of bringing the Gallente/Serpentis variants up to par with the Caldari/Guristas ones. The Federation Navy, Khanid Navy and Shadow Serpentis variants will now give an equal bonus to the other faction Co-Pros and we’ve fixed up the progression among the officer variants to bring Serpentis and Guristas to parity.

After our changes:

Type Name

CPU Bonus

Meta Level

Co-Processor I

1.08

0

Upgraded Co-Processor

1.09

1

Co-Processor II

1.1

5

Basic Co-Processor

1.07

6

'Dyad' Co-Processor I

1.11

6

'Deuce' Co-Processor I

1.12

6

Federation Navy Co-Processor

1.14

8

Khanid Navy Co-Processor

1.14

8

Shadow Serpentis Co-Processor

1.14

8

Caldari Navy Co-Processor

1.14

8

Dread Guristas Co-Processor

1.14

8

Brynn's Modified Co-Processor

1.16

11

Kaikka's Modified Co-Processor

1.16

11

Tuvan's Modified Co-Processor

1.17

12

Thon's Modified Co-Processor

1.17

12

Setele's Modified Co-Processor

1.18

13

Vepas' Modified Co-Processor

1.18

13

Cormack's Modified Co-Processor

1.19

14

Estamel's Modified Co-Processor

1.19

14

 

Reactor Control Units

Reactor Control Units also only have room for one named module, but since they have CPU requirements, this one named module will use the “Compact” fitting specialization. All current named RCUs will be converted into Compact Reactor Control Units, which will provide a bigger powergrid bonus than any of the current named variants to put it between T1 and T2 in effectiveness.

The Reactor Control Unit II is receiving a small increase in CPU use, to help balance out the value of the different Reactor Controls.

Reactor Controls are another class where we are cleaning “Basic” variants up into one type, placing it in the Cosmos category just as we did with Co-Processors.

We are also fixing the Shadow Serpentis RCU to match the other faction variants in effectiveness.

Type Name

Powergrid Multiplier

CPU Requirement

Meta Level

Reactor Control Unit I

1.1

20

0

Compact Reactor Control Unit

1.12

16

1

Reactor Control Unit II

1.15

22

5

Basic Reactor Control Unit

1.05

8

6

‘Portcullis’ Reactor Control Unit I

1.15

16

6

Shadow Serpentis Reactor Control Unit

1.155

20

8

Syndicate Reactor Control Unit

1.155

20

8

Dark Blood Reactor Control Unit

1.155

20

8

True Sansha Reactor Control Unit

1.155

20

8

Ammatar Navy Reactor Control Unit

1.155

20

8

Brokara’s Modified Reactor Control Unit

1.16275

20

11

Tairei’s Modified Reactor Control Unit

1.16275

20

11

Brynn’s Modified Reactor Control Unit

1.16275

20

11

Selynne’s Modified Reactor Control Unit

1.1705

20

12

Raysere’s Modified Reactor Control Unit

1.1705

20

12

Tuvan’s Modified Reactor Control Unit

1.1705

20

12

Vizan’s Modified Reactor Control Unit

1.17825

20

13

Ahremen’s Modified Reactor Control Unit

1.17825

20

13

Setele’s Modified Reactor Control Unit

1.17825

20

13

Chelm’s Modified Reactor Control Unit

1.186

20

14

Draclira’s Modified Reactor Control Unit

1.186

20

14

Cormack’s Modified Reactor Control Unit

1.186

20

14

 

Micro Auxiliary Power Cores

Micro Auxiliary Power Cores (MAPCs) will also only need one named specialization, but in this case we are making special consideration for owners of the currently Meta 4 Micro 'Vigor' Core Augmentation. The current metas 1-3 named MAPCs will be converted into the new Compact Compact Micro Auxiliary Power Core but the Vigors will be turned into Navy MAPCs over downtime.

Type Name

Powergrid Increase

CPU Requirement

Meta Level

Micro Auxiliary Power Core I

10

15

0

Compact Micro Auxiliary Power Core

11

12

1

Micro Auxiliary Power Core II

12

18

5

Navy Micro Auxiliary Power Core

13

18

8

Thukker Micro Auxiliary Power Core

12

12

8

 

Light Missile Launchers

For the Light Missile Launcher group of modules, we have room for two distinct named specializations. The Compact Light Missile Launcher will specialize in reduced fitting requirements, while the Ample Light Missile Launcher will specialize in extra missile capacity.

The current ‘Limos’ and TE-2100 light missile launchers will become Ample Launchers, and the current ‘Malkuth’ and ‘Arbalest’ launchers will become Compact Launchers.

We are also making some general balance changes to the Light Missile Launchers as a whole. The time between module activations of LMLs will increase by ~6.66%, resulting in a slight decrease in total DPS. This change is being made to help balance the Light Missile weapon system, which received buffs that were a bit too strong back in the Retribution expansion.

Type Name

Powergrid Requirement

CPU Requirement

Time between shots

Capacity

Charges Per Reload

Meta Level

Civilian Light Missile Launcher

6

21

21s

0.6

40

0

Light Missile Launcher I

6

21

16s

0.6

40

0

Compact Light Missile Launcher

6

16

13.6s

0.6

40

1

Ample Light Missile Launcher

6

21

13.6s

0.72

48

1

Light Missile Launcher II

7

24

12.8s

0.795

53

5

'Gallows' Light Missile Launcher

5

14

12.8s

0.795

53

6

Domination Light Missile Launcher

6

16

11.2s

0.9

60

8

Republic Fleet Light Missile Launcher

6

16

11.2s

0.9

60

8

True Sansha Light Missile Launcher

6

16

11.2s

0.9

60

8

Caldari Navy Light Missile Launcher

5

20

11.2s

0.9

60

8

Dread Guristas Light Missile Launcher

5

20

11.2s

0.9

60

8

 

Cargo Scanners

For Cargo Scanners, Duration and Scan Range are both important stats, while there’s not a lot of option for a fitting variation. So we’re going for two variations. One that has reduced duration, called Enduring Cargo Scanner. It has reduced cycle time and reduced cap need (3 instead of 4). The other has better range and is called Scoped Cargo Scanner.

To align the new modules better, we’re also reducing the CPU of the tech I Cargo Scanner from 5 to 4.

Surface Cargo Scanner I and Prototype Freight Sensors will become Enduring Cargo Scanners while Interior Type-E Cargo Identifier and PL-0 Shipment Probe will become Scoped Cargo Scanners.

Type Name

Cap Need

CPU

Duration

Scan Range

Meta Level

Cargo Scanner I

4

4

5000

50000

0

Enduring Cargo Scanner

3

4

3500

55000

1

Scoped Cargo Scanner

4

4

4000

65000

1

Cargo Scanner II

4

5

3000

70000

5

 

Ship Scanners

For Ship Scanners, duration and range are also important, but the difference between Tech I and Tech II is less pronounced than for Cargo Scanners so making variations on those stats doesn’t make sense. However, fitting variation is much more viable due to higher CPU requirements. So we’re going for one named module, called Compact Ship Scanner, focused on reduced fitting requirements.

Ship Scanners also have scan falloff, as ship scanning results are not binary as they are for Cargo Scanners. The named variation goes for a scan falloff in between Tech I and Tech II.

No changes are being made to the Tech I and Tech II versions.

Type Name

CPU

Duration

Scan Falloff

Scan Range

Meta Level

Ship Scanner I

15

2000

30000

50000

0

Compact Ship Scanner

11

1800

33000

55000

1

Ship Scanner II

17

1500

36000

60000

5

 

Survey Scanners

For Survey Scanners, the only thing that really matters there is the range. So we’re going for one named variation, focused on range and called Scoped Survey Scanner.

No changes are being made to the Tech I and Tech II versions.

Type Name

CPU

Scan Range

Duration

Meta Level

Survey Scanner I

5

15000

5000

0

Scoped Survey Scanner

4

20000

4500

1

Survey Scanner II

6

22500

4000

5

 

Capacitor Flux Coils

Capacitor Flux coils needed a pretty significant power boost across the board, so we are starting with that by bumping the net cap recharge boost by quite a bit and lowering CPU requirements for all variations.  We are lowering the number of named variations to two, one fitting variation and a second that has a reduced capacitor capacity drawback amount (but similar overall cap recharge).  Again, we are cleaning up the “basic” variants and collapsing them into one type.

Type Name

Capacitor Recharge Time

CPU Requirement

Capacitor Capacity Multiplier

Meta Level

Capacitor Flux Coil I

36%

10

-20%

0

Compact Capacitor Flux Coil

37%

8

-20%

1

Restrained Capacitor Flux Coil

28%

10

-10%

1

Capacitor Flux Coil II

39%

14

-20%

5

‘Basic’ Capacitor Flux Coil

34%

5

-20%

6

‘Page’ Capacitor Flux Coil

39%

8

-20%

6

 

As you can see, the changes arriving in Oceanus represent the tip of the iceberg for the module work that is coming your way over the coming months. This Module Tiericide project involves input from five development teams within CCP and we have high hopes that it will be just as beneficial as the Ship Tiericide initiative has been. Of course this also doesn’t mean that we’re going to stop our ongoing work on ship balance and on introducing new ships. You’ll be seeing a mix of module balance, ship balance and new items from release to release as we continue to charge forward with our 5-6 week release schedule.

Thanks for joining us for this dev blog, and I hope you’re looking forward to Oceanus as much as we are!

-Fozzie and the whole CCP Module Taskforce