Monday, 29 June 2015

BB64: New E-War not needed, and Defenders against drones

Torpedo! Torpedo! Torpedo! With the Aegis release we will see missile boats get their own version of the tracking enhancer and the tracking computer. On the forums there have been calls for new 'missile defence eWar' to counter these new modules. Is this needed? Are smartbomb 'firewalls' enough? Do defender missiles need an overhaul to make them actually worth using? Do we need the missile version of the remote tracking disruptor? Or do we go all Star Trek and have Point-Defence Phaser Banks? Banter on!

Effect of the new modules

I've always found missiles to actually be the best weapon system... with a caveat attached to it.

Now, I understand that on paper they don't compare with the raw firepower of turrets, nor the engagement range of drones. There's the issue of travel time, which I only consider an issue for large fleets and their insta-pop philosophy.

The caveat is that I nearly only use frigates and small weaponed ships, and most of my missile fits tend to be rockets. Travel time is rarely an issue when you're within spitting distance of who you're unloading at.

And missiles are intensely reliable, and the new "tracking" modules make that even more so.

Provided you can maintain lock and range, you will always be putting out the same damage onto your opponent. This gives you great wiggle room in engagement range. You can go point blank, or kite out to scram range without changing ammunition. This little Rifter-style trick is a lot easier to pull off with missile boats.

They will also keep firing without capacitor. Neuts are fairly redundant against missile boats, particularly if they're running buffer or ancillary booster fits. Again, this makes missiles reliable under cap warfare.

It doesn't end there though. One of the most underused ammunition types are Friend or Foe missiles. FoF missiles are great to keep in your hold for the annoying jammers and sensor dampers out there. They'll keep pumping out missiles even under ECM, meaning your kiting Condor still has a chance of taking out something, even if you can't target back. Just, er... be careful if you're in a gang.

That reliability in most situations is balanced out by the middling damage output. Caldari compensate for the fairly low firepower by massive hull bonus or lots of launchers. Minmatar balance them with drones. Khanid ships balance it by being bricks.

These new modules... aren't really going to do much to affect that balance. They're going to make a slight difference in firepower application, making them even more reliable than ever, and it'll be nice to finally get the full damage application out of the Talwar running a target painter. More important than that, it'll give an extra option for the lows rather than a full ballistic control unit. That'll be nice, considering how tight CPU fitting usually is on missile boats.

Of course, this is spoken as a small ship pilot. I'm sure someone driving bigger boats will get more mileage out of these new modules. But as far as little ships go, I don't see much changing in the way we will fit or fly. I don't think we'll need a missile specific E-War to counter them.

Defender missiles

That said, Defenders could do with a more general use. Right now they're too niche. I've seen a few suggestions thrown around, and one I think has the most merit is giving them a role of shooting down drones too. Seeing as how a number of frigate hulls now carry one or two drones as a secondary, it might see a bit more use, particularly on Rifters with their utility high slot. That would go a long way towards addressing the Tristan dominance, and balancing the advantage kiting drone users enjoy.

It would also make the idea of escort frigates/destroyers more viable. A single frigate with Defender missiles in its highs could support cruisers by picking off drones, all while still contributing in the usual way of tackling and applying firepower. Since all cruisers carry at least a few drones, this would be quite significant... assuming they simply aren't primaried off the field. In which case at least one salvo is wasted on a frigate popping drones.

I don't see much wrong with that, unless programming them to target drones is a problem. If a ship simply loads only Defender missiles to exclusively counter drone boats, they'll still need to spend the time reloading back to normal missiles to apply firepower again. Even a Tristan without drones can do significant damage in that 10s reload time. And if that Tristan has Neuts instead of turrets, well, that's just the fitting roulette we all play.

Actually, having written it out like that, Defenders targeting drones seems like a really good idea...

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Wormholes and light

After looking at gravitational lensing, and seeing how, in terms of General Relativity, light acts under a gravitational field, I've found something rather interesting with the wormholes in New Eden.

If you fly to any wormhole, you can generally tell its destination by looking at it. We can see the some of the distant nebulae of the joining system. 

This one is from earlier. You can see the grey and reddish nebula in the middle.

A zoomed out picture for reference. The system of the observer (i.e. me) has the mix between red and yellow nebulae you find in between the Empire and the Republic.

The issue is this... the light is the same colour as the nebulae on the other side.

Sounds absurd to argue that, and clearly the light is being affected. However, you need to know that light acts a little different in gravitational fields than other objects.

Let's do an experiment: Drop something. Go ahead, I'll wait.

It should have dropped to the ground right? That object (and I hope it wasn't expensive) starts accelerating to the ground. It's losing gravitational energy, and transferring that to kinetic energy. The velocity increases.

Light as it falls towards a gravitational field also gains energy. But it's light. It's already going as fast as anything can go. Photons are too small to fit acceleration gates or traditional warp engines. It simply can't go any faster. That additional energy needs to go somewhere.

To understand what's going on here, we need to know an equation:

E = energy
h = Plank's constant
c = Speed of light
λ = wavelength

Plank's constant and the speed of light are both physical constants. We can't change them. This means that Energy has an inversely proportional effect on wavelength. More energy results in a shorter wavelength. Less energy, larger wavelength.

Here's a diagram of the EM spectrum. Larger wavelengths of light are on the right, shorter ones are on the left.

As light comes closer to the wormhole, we would expect it to get more blue. As it moves away from the hole, we'd expect it to get more red. 

We don't see light coming through the wormhole changing colour, regardless of distance from the hole.

This means that light is energy balanced coming through. 

This is weird. 

It's almost as if light is unaffected by the hole's gravitational field... at least in the center of our perspective. But we know that objects exiting the wormholes are affected by their mass. Larger ships tend to be ejected further away from the wormhole than smaller ones. Mass also affects wormholes. More massive objects destabilize wormholes faster.

And we still have the gravitational lensing effect, as predicted by General Relativity around the hole. We even see some ripples within the center of the hole, which suggest the lensing effect there.

This needs further observation to find out what's going on here. Why? I do not believe these wormholes to be natural phenomena. I believe them to be constructed, but out of control. And above all, I believe I am having a lot of fun learning the maths behind all of this! 

Seriously, I'm learning how to do tensors. Up until now I hadn't even heard of them!

Update: I should point out that the increase in energy is actually due to time dilation. Just needed to make that distinction to the analogy I gave above. Light is affected by gravitational fields, but not in the same way as objects with mass.

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Unpacking the Turret Equation

Maths can tell us a lot about how the universe works.

Well, that's not quite right. It helps us describe the things we can see happening without spending a huge amount of words to do so. 

Perhaps the most used maths equation in New Eden describes how turrets work. And at first glance, it's a fairly daunting one:

Note that it's 0.5 to the power of all those other bits, not 0.5 multiplied by the other terms. That's important.

Now it looks really complex, and in some ways it is. However, by unpacking all those terms we can see that it's not all that scary, and will go some way to explaining your own intuitions and feelings about how to fly space ships.

However, I realize not everyone gets a kick out of doing maths, so I'll include summaries at the beginning of each post so you don't have to sift through all the numbers. 

Summary of points:
Lower chance to hit, means less hits.
Lower chance to hit, also means less damaging hits.
Make sure you train Motion Tracking and Range skills, so you can get more chance to hit.

Now lets do some maths.

Here is an overview of how turrets operate:
  • Fire gun.
  • Chance to hit is calculated (using the above equation).
  • A random number is generated. This is X.
  • If X is less than Chance to hit, you hit.
  • If X is greater than Chance to hit, you miss.

X is always going to be a number between 0 and 1.


Rifter shoots auto cannon at Punisher.
Chance to hit = 0.77
X is generated.
X = 0.56
X < Chance to hit.
Punisher takes damage.

The way damage is calculated is a further calculation based on X.

  • Damage modifier = X + 0.5

So in the above example:

X = 0.56
Damage modifier = 0.56 + 0.5
                             = 1.06

What does this tell us? If we have less chance to hit, then the damage of our shots will also be quite low. 


X = 0.1
Damage modifier = 0.1+0.5 = 0.6

Damage modifier = 0.9+0.5 = 1.4

If X is higher, we can achieve more damage. They're just harder to get a hit.

The exception to this are wrecking shots. These occur when X < 0.01. At that point, the modifier is 3, the New Eden equivalent to a critical hit. This means even if you have a very tiny chance of hitting a target, you still have a 1% chance at doing some damage.

To imagine it another way, every 100 shots you should get at least one hit. Line up 100 Tornadoes with one artillery canon, and at least one of them should be able to get a shot on an interceptor in range.

That said, the equation suggests that turrets have infinite range. I'd like to run a test one day, seeing if this is the case, seeing if an Executioner at 100km would be able to hit another ship with pulse lasers. Should only take about a thousand or so shots to see if this will happen.

All this is base off the equation on Evelopedia. If it's known to be incorrect, let me know, before I waste my time writing about it. I had fun unpacking it for myself, but there's limited value in writing about it for other people to use.

Also, picture of a Punisher:

No reason, I just thought it was pretty!