Monday, June 23, 2014

Fitting is Good Complexity

There's a new blog banter out.  I don't make a point to engage with those things unless they set me off.  But in this case, it did.  So let's talk about who's responsible for badly fit ships.
Drackarn pointed this killmail to me recently and proposed the following for a blog banter:
Obviously that is a not just a bad fit, its horrific. But the guy might not know any better. ... How do we educate players on fitting? This guy has been playing four months and can fly a BC, but has no idea how to fit one. What could be done to help bro's like this?
Furthermore, what (if any) responsibility do veterans players have in finding these players and instructing them on the finer arts of ship fitting? If it exists, does it extend beyond them into teaching PvP skills, ISK making skills, market skills, social skills, life skills...
Questions like this bring out the contrarian in me.  "We"?  Who's "we"?  "Responsible"?  You're telling me that via paying for spaceship pew I have assumed duties to some random idiot on the internet?

I can answer all these questions pretty succinctly.  "We" don't educate players on fitting.  It is too complex for any canned lecture.  We can offer our help if they want it.  But they have to initiate; nobody knows what other people don't know.  And there is simply no way to reach many people.  It's a game, after all, not work.  On the other hand, many learn it by themselves.  Nobody ever taught me to fit, and I doubt anyone taught you.  Of course, that particular sample is biased due to a strong survivor effect.

As for responsibility, it is not the responsibility of anyone to fit your ship but you.  Corporations?  I certainly will help my own guys, but that's a very limited responsibility.  And they know to ask.  Not everyone has a corp to rely on.  That Navy Drake pilot was in an NPC corp; no CEO.

Everyone should learn to fit.  Yes, newbs are ignorant.  So what?  Googling up decent information and resources related to fitting is not that hard:
The internet is right there, at our fingertips.  Newbs are playing an online game; you can't tell me they cannot google.  It's true that google won't always turn up an excellent fit.  But it will find something, and even the poorer fittings at battleclinic are not failfits.

Fitting is complex.  Yes, there are aspects of fitting that are "bad" complexity.  I.e., all those low meta modules.  They could collapse that variety down into perhaps three modules per type with no complaint from me.  But for the most part, fitting is a fun part of the game.  I spend hours in EFT just messing around.  I don't fly most of the fits I make.  My ship storage is quite finite and subject to loss.  But it is still useful to know what sort of fitting is likely if I run up against a ship.  Given that fitting is an important and fun part of the game, it's not broken.  The fact that people fail at it is unfortunate for them, but ultimately part of the price we all pay to have a game worth playing.

Now that I have gotten my knee-jerk negativity out, I guess I do have some positive suggestions.  Drat.  Let's go there.

I do think CCP could help, in several ways.  First, let me plug boot camps again.  The problem most newbs have is not that they don't have questions, or that they think they know it all.  It's that they don't have anyone to ask.  They need some specific, particular person who they know they can ask about all kinds of stuff, fitting included.  One of the key ideas of boot camp is to specify that person.  (Two, in my formulation.)

Another way CCP could help is by referring players to a decent tutorial on fitting that ought to be part of the EVE wiki.  (Speaking of googling for you, I just googled "eve wiki fitting" -- the official wiki has a pretty good, if long, page on Fitting Ships.  It does not link to fitting tools.  Eve U has several pages on fitting.  Fitting 101, which does link tools.  Also Fitting Guidelines.  It has links to more pages, too.)  The EVE wiki page is too long and advanced for a newb to be expected to read, and also it lacks pointers to tools.  But it's the right idea.  What do I mean by CCP "referring" players?  I mean a hyperlink from within EVE -- from within a newbie mission, and from within the "Bad Fit" popup as discussed below.

One more idea.  CCP could programmatically detecting bad fits (perhaps on undock) and warn the player.  Drackarn's banter suggests this with a bit of humor.

Now, programs are inherently dumb.  You will never write a program capable of detecting all bad fits, or probably even most bad fits.  Nor can we detect many subtle problems with a fit.  Although such abilities would be nice, they are not what is needed here.  All you need is the ability to warn players off obviously bad fits, laughably bad fits, like that Navy Drake linked above.  Here are some easy to detect fitting problems that the client could warn people about:
  • this ship has civilian fittings [exception for newb missions and rookie ships]
  • this ship has empty highslots and extra hardpoints
  • this ship has empty low slots / empty rigs
  • this ship has a weapons bonus but has fit unbonused weapons
  • this ship has two+ types of weapons
  • this ship is dual tanked
  • this ship has an empty, nonzero drone bay
  • this ship has mismatched weapons and weapons bonusing items.
  • this ship uses three+ fitting modules
  • this ship is too expensive for what it is
  • this ship has inertial stabilizers (joke! sort of!)
(I'm sure more could be added.)  Warnings could be a popup box like Drackarn suggests, with a hyperlink to a tutorial on fitting, an itemized list of problems, a checkbox to "don't show me any more fitting warnings for any ship" and another checkbox "don't show me any more fitting warnings for this ship".  Extra bonus for an official Picard facepalm picture.  

1 comment:

  1. 6 months in, I'm just emerging from my "noob" status to a middle ground of "knowing how little I know". I'm probably an average skilled player (at best).

    But one thing I learned early on: finding reliable online sources of knowledge about Eve, especially while flying solo (and even today), is a crucial part of the Eve experience. When you follow this path, bizarre fit decisions are almost impossible to make.

    I never felt that anyone is obliged to guide and help me. I also realized early on how critical it is to find a good fit. So I relied on easily found, sometimes rated fits from reliable sources. I made sure the proposed ship/fit context was close enough to my own and I then mildly modified them (using EFT) to suit my particulars. Within a couple of hours I would settle on a good fit, go buy the ship and fly it with confidence that my skills, good or bed, will have greater impact on my performance than my ship's fit.

    Eve rewards those who are curious and enjoy steep learning curves - on their own primarily, and then properly leveraging help from players who're more experienced or better than they are. The latter are not that hard to find. At most they're a friendly chat channel away.