Friday, August 3, 2012
Faction Warfare - Accelerationgate
Except it's not much of anything, except one man trying desperately to discredit another, because he enjoys playing the metagame. Basically screaming out "Bugs and exploits!" on a game mechanic that has existed for years in EVE Online.
The mechanic that this entire fake outrage revolves around is the session change mechanic. When you activate a wormhole or a jumpgate, you immediately enter a session change. Nothing can remove you from this session change. Not you, not anybody else on grid, not even the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
Unfortunately, acceleration gates also share the same mechanic with wormholes and jumpgates. That is, when you activate them and meet the requirements for warp, you enter a session change. The requirements for acceleration gate activation are speed, alignment and warp disruption/scrambling. A ships needs to be at 75% of its maximum speed, in alignment with the acceleration gate, and not warp scrambled or warp disrupted. If those three requirements are met, the ship enters a session change, and warp travel begins soon thereafter.
There is one exception to the speed, alignment, pointing rule.
First, to quickly explain how commands are processed on the EVE servers. All commands are processed at 1-second intervals. Every key you press (i.e. command) is sent to the server and put into a queue. This queue is processed every second. (We'll ignore time dilation, because it is rarely a factor in empire space.)
Back to the single exception. If you spam the acceleration gate activation hotkey ('D' by default) as you're warping onto the grid, the moment you leave warp the server will only check your speed. The server will ignore alignment (or assume you have a zero vector, which means you are facing every possible direction) and the server will ignore any target locks/pointing that could have occurred in that one second. Since your speed leaving warp is greater than 75% of your maximum speed, the server will immediately put you into session change. You will begin the warping process, no matter your alignment, the session change protects you from all influences. There is nothing anyone can do to vacate you from this session change. All of this happens in a single 1-second interval, exiting warp and activation of the acceleration gate. If you are on grid beyond this 1-second interval, without activating the acceleration gate, the normal rules (speed, alignment, pointing) again apply.
Why the server only checks speed at this point is for CCP to explain. But this has been the mechanic for many years. CCP has known about this for many years. The logical explanation is that there is no simple solution or that it is working as intended. Session changes are a deeply embedded mechanic. The case may be that to change anything would be to cause problems in ten different areas. Thus it has remained this way for years. The chances of it getting changed are likely slim (not without a major rewrite of this core server mechanic.)
This mechanic has been well-known in faction warfare circles for many years. It is often a tactic that FCs use when approaching any acceleration gate when it is known enemies are camping it. "Start spamming activation. You'll warp. We'll fight them inside."
To claim this is a bug, and especially an exploit, is beyond the pale. Hell, to claim it as an exploit is to suggest that everyone must count to two-Mississippi before activating any acceleration gate. No player is ever going to do that, and it is not something that can be policed (nor will CCP ever police it.) As for this mechanic being labelled a bug, it is difficult to claim that considering the mechanic has a) existed in the game for so long, and b) that CCP has known of this odd server behaviour for equally as long and has never claimed it to be a problem. There are many nonsensical mechanics in EVE Online. We accept (or grumble) about many of them without claiming bug or exploit. They're mechanics we learn to live with and learn to use to our advantage. This happens to be one of those mechanics.
To further exasperate this problem is that the distance you are from an acceleration gate is not defined by the acceleration gate itself, but by a large bounding ellipsoid, which extends a little more than 10km from the gate. This means you can warp to 10km off the acceleration gate and still be listed as 0km from the gate. Which means you can activate the gate from a considerable distance away.
Nobody warps to zero on an acceleration gate, because by doing so you risk bouncing off the gate geometry. If that happens, your speed immediately drops to below 75% of your maximum speed and instant activation (which begins the all-important session change) fails.
I do agree with one argument that the Accelerationgate propagandists are making. Camping a gate to stop your enemy from entering a plex (or a mission) should be a viable tactic and strategy. Unfortunately, due to the wonky mechanic, this strategy is completely invalidated. (Not everyone agrees with this tactical assessment though, my boss Vordak Kallager is one, but I am not a sheep and can think for myself. I wish many who were jumping on the Accelerationgate bandwagon would do the same.)
So, how to change some aspect of the game, so that camping an acceleration gate becomes a viable strategy? I'm not going to suggest any changes to the session change mechanic, because it is likely a complex problem for CCP that would take months and months to solve. Their time is probably better spent on other issues. What if warping to 10km did not put a ship within acceleration activation range? How do we force people to warp to zero on acceleration gates, forcing them to take a chance with gate geometry? By shrinking the bounding ellipsoid, of course.
This seems to me to be a reasonable workaround. As well, if CCP wants to make the change, it should be a quick and simple change for them to make. On the order of a few days to couple weeks, rather than months and months.
What are your thoughts?
(Word of advice for commenters. If you wish to continue with the farce of calling out, as cheaters, anyone who uses this mechanic [which is pretty much everyone in faction warfare], or wish to further the notion that this mechanic is a bug or an exploit, I will not allow the comment to go through. I do not wish for you to waste your time with an angry, propaganda filled wall-of-text, only to have it never see the light of day. Since I'll be posting this to Reddit and the EVE forums, as per usual, you can post your spurge there. I do read all the comments, so if you just want to call me a fucktard, I will be sure to read it, my self-esteem negatively affected by your cruel jab.)