Sunday, August 11, 2013

Confessions of a Stabbed Farmer

As I write this, one of my plex farming alts sits on another screen, counting down a timer deep in the Caldari/Gallente warzone.

She has about 8 minutes worth of skills trained on her--enough to be able to use Warp Core Stabilizers. She's sitting in a ship worth less than 100,000 ISK, in a system that has about 20 pirates in it currently --none of whom have bothered her in the 30 minutes or so she's been plexing so far.

I started farming defensive plexes on a relatively untrained alt due to my corporation having some standings issues. With a lot of us previously having been in the Amarr militia, Minmatar Faction standings has always been something we've struggled to keep above 0.

Not being much of a mission runner, running plexes to get the promotions, which in turn give pretty decent standings increases, was an easy alternative.

The need for standings passed, but the habit of having an alt quietly plexing in the background of whatever else I was doing did not. I could run one while I was pvping on Susan, trading on my trade alt, or even cleaning my house and doing the dishes.

It is an easy, passive income. One in which I've already netted over a billion ISK.

So, How Do I Do It?

Well, it's simple. She's a Minmatar alt, so I have her sitting in a Burst -- a very cheap frigate with 3 convenient low-slots.

I put her into highly contested systems (always above 90% contested) and usually, stick to only Large and Medium defensive plexes. She doesn't orbit anything. Instead, I fly her about 25K past the button when she enters a plex, so that she's always about 35K from the beacon, and anyone coming into the plex. Between this distance, a quick refresh on a D-Scan setup to see if anything is landing on the outside gate, and her 3 Warp Core Stabilizers, it almost impossible for her to die if I'm paying attention even a miniscule amount.
And if she does die...I'm out about 80k.

Furthermore, I name her ship something that indicates she's a farmer or that she has stabs. "Stabbed Farmer" is a good one. I've noticed a huge decline in the number of people that try to come in and pew her after changing her ship names to this. Most people who have any experience in the Warzone --both militia and pirates alike --will not bother when they see that on scan.

Is the System Broken?

I often hear people discussing how the system is 'broken.' How...the ability to farm plexes in this way is completely ruing aspects of Faction War. We've even had long time Faction War veterens leaving due to frustration over the mechanics.

I guess, whether it's broken or not, depends on your definition of 'broken.' If making ISK passively at very little risk is 'broken' then I guess the very nature of mining in high sec is also broken. If, making a lot of ISK and not having to pull much effort is broken, I guess trading is also broken.

If you look at Faction War as a PVP mechanic, than yes. Plex farming is anti climatic and the very opposite of a conflict driver. But then again, can Faction War really be considered solely a pvp mechanic, when the best way to make LP is through running missions? Missions which can be run in stealth bombers which can easily cloak when any danger arrives.

I guess a better question is, what can be gained from fixing it?

The problem with the concept of 'fixing farming' is that fixing it in and of itself isn't going to be of much gain, gameplay wise. Really, we are just solving an ideological problem with risk vs reward . While nerfing the ability to AFK-make-billions might make us feel better, it isn't going to get us more PVP.

This is the thing that bothers me sometimes when people talk about 'fixing farming' in Faction War. What do they think will happen when farmers can't farm anymore? That these pilots --most of whom are probably alts, or at the least have shown no interest or inclination toward pvp, will suddenly take up arms? That pvpers will suddenly have a pvp hayday on their hands due to all the farmer-turned pvpers?

Reducing the ability to farm will mean less farmers, not more pvp. The only difference will be that the plex that once had a stabbed alt in it to be chased away, will now lie empty.

Rolling back the plex timers would be great. As would giving more visible timers and other smaller changes. But in the end, if I had to choose between CCP spending their time on something that's going to give me something else that's FUN to do, versus removing the 'farmer' problem, I'd pick the fun stuff any day.


  1. You're getting less fights when you call yourself Stabbed Farmer?

    The only time I called my ship "stabbed farmer" was when I was in fact in a combat ship. Had a stiletto with dual scrams warp in on me and lose horribly to my combat frigate (that had a web). I think it was a Comet or a Merlin, something that should've lost due to inferior range control.

    Personally I think the problematic thing are FW missions and they should be taken out. Right now they generate one of the biggest pay-outs of all PvE activities in EVE (although I do not know about Industry activities like trading or high-end production though ), second only to WH PvE in capitals. Let me just point out the difference here : Capitals <--> Bombers. Or comparing it to Incursions: Bombers (30m) have over twice the income of the members of a 40 man shiny Pirate Battleship (3b+) fleet.

    But do they add anything to the FW warzone? No, quite the opposite they keep bittervets around who dont plex and basically just troll about in expensive ships. Even if they tried to use significant amounts of the money they're earning they would always be limited by plex sizes.

    Sure, not every farming bittervet would take up arms again after being robbed of his primary income. But some would and the rest would leave so at least we knew more accurate numbers...

    - Aeris Pellion

  2. So between this post and Rixx's bitching about stabs in general, I think it's time to roll out my terribad idea of complexifying point mechanics by making it chance-based like ECM. ;-)

  3. TBH, they don't bother me much. Some of them are new players making isk while also getting their feet wet in low sec--and that's a good thing. Lots of bitter vet hardcore PVPers don't realize how many people get into PVP by being first farming in FW. (After, what are they supposed to do when they will almost certainly lose any and every fight that warps into the plex? Welp into your Hookbill for lols all the time??)

    And TBH, if I had a dual monitor set-up, I would likely have a FW farmer myself.

  4. I have started to humour myself by typing a gf in local every time a stabbed or cloaky farmer warps out or cloaks up. Some even respond with a gf back, which makes me smile.

    I don't think anything can be done to change this farming mechanic in all honesty, as much as I sometimes lament the fact that there's frigates in lowsec that won't fight, who are we to judge? All the pvper is after is a free killmail when they see a month old toon on scan in a frigate.

    Farmers are okay, they're part of the lowsec furniture now.

    The balance is about right I feel. Not everyone is farming ISK out there that is for certain.

    I did for a time wonder if a good idea would be in making the timer tick back up to full for the duration that the plex is empty. I don't know if that would work?

  5. It's broken in the sense that it needs none of the below:
    - player effort
    - player skill
    - character skillpoints
    - ISK

    Trading needs ISK and player skill
    Mining needs months of training and even a cheap retriever is 30M, which isn't much, but not 80K either

    To make plexing not broken, one or two of the four points must be included.

    A very easy example: plexing needs a dedicated plexing module to run, it's a highslot utility module with minimal fitting requirements but 30M cost. Then every plexing frigate would cost as much as a highsec mining retriever.

    1. Making a high slot module that you need to cap plexes then excludes many ships without utility high slots.

      if you were going to go this route, I'd suggest having an anchorable "flag" from your cargo hold that you have to defend. The rats which now continuously spawn again no longer attack your ship, they attack your flag, which has a decent tank including regeneration. This flag should cost something non trivial.

    2. Just for completeness: Mining doesn't take months of training anymore. You can start mining ice in a Retriever after 10 days or so. You get perfect yield within less than one month.

  6. Farming alts make excessive work for people actually trying to take/defend systems. You are already familiar with the fact that it's an inefficient use of time to run down a farmer's plex, since you'll invest more time than they will. The end result is that people actually pushing for sov have to do more work (sometimes a lot more work) to deal with the presence of farmers. If running farmers off had not only the opportunity cost of lost time, but also a direct cost in timers reverting to zero over time, this would be less of a frustration, since moving the contested bar in a system people were actually defending/attacking would require fighting.


  7. Sure we could say plexing is just another pve mechanic and then nothing would need to be fixed. But the problem is eve has tons of pve mechanics and no good small scale pvp mechanics.

    High sec, low sec, and null sec missions, anomalies, belt ratting, incursions, fw missions, wormhole sleeper sites all pve. Can't we make one mechanic pvp?? Why not make fw sov pvp? It would make fw sov into something eve desperately lacks. A good small scale pvp mechanic.

    My issue with plexing is not the isk farmed. I don't mind fw missions being pve and people making isk at it. It is, after all, a mission so it is pve.

    The problem is that *sov is won* by rabbit plexing. Even when plexing paid no lp people set up their ships to run from pvp. That is and always has been the problem. This is why fw has always been a joke. Although some people are slow to admit it.

    As long as the best way to win fw is fit alt ships to constantly run away, the war will be a joke.

    The necessary changes remain the same as when fw started:

    1) some form of rollback timer and
    2) Better real time intel to the militias so they can respond to plexes being attacked by the enemy.

    Sadly neither was implemented by ccp and fw is still a joke.

    - Cearain

  8. The "problem" with stabbed plex farmers like the one you run is the same problem that is at the heart of titan bridging and 23/7 AFK link ships sitting in a pos bubble. There is no risk. The activity is not able to be disrupted. It goes against the grain that makes Eve unique.

    For every miner, there is a suicide thrasher. For every sanctum runner, there is a stealth bomber. For every open recruitment corp, there is an awoxer. There is danger. There is risk. This does not exist for the FW plex farmer.

    Just this morning I took my atron out to Jovainnon and spotted another atron and incursus on scan toward a large plex. I warped in and tackled the incursus at 0, slowly working through his tank as the atron 30km off closed in. The incursus went down, and I moved in to land a scram on the atron. He started to drop much more quickly. But while he was dropping through structure, a message appeared indicating that the plex had been captured. It irked me.

    I'm not enlisted in faction war. But it bothers me that there's nothing I can do to disrupt the activity. I can chase a stabbed burst out of a plex, and that's usually the extent of it. I've taken to swapping over to a mwd, dual-scram, sebo slasher to take down farmers. Their pods are the only thing worth more than a pittance, occasionally. The "problem" with stabbed 8-minute plex farmers is that it's a distinctly isolated activity in an otherwise connected universe. There are annoyances. But there is no risk, danger, or setback.

    And from a personal standpoint, where my game play consists of roaming around in generally smaller ships looking for stuff to shoot. It's an annoyingly huge waste of time to sift through plexers to find those I'm able to shoot.

    A couple of ideas on how to incorporate plex farming into the wider eve universe:

    * Have plex timers roll back when the farmer warps out (or maybe while anyone else is on the field). Maybe instantly reset after a short deleay. Or maybe simply count back down to neutral at an accelerated rate.

    * Have loot drops that (partially or completely) replace straight up LP payouts. Tags or some such low-volume item. The item can be traded in for a set amount of LP or sold on the market.

    As far as plex farming being how new players get their feet wet in PvP and low-sec in general, tell them to bring friends. Maybe make plex payouts or timer rollbacks partially scale with numbers somewhat like incursion payouts to make it worth the effort.

  9. I would just point out that the problem is not precisely "farmers" but "rabbits." "Farmers" sort of implies making isk. But isk is beside the point, and some defensive plexers who sit in atrons probably don't make much isk. But they are just as much the problem.

    Any fw pvper can go into a system and do plexes and get very few fights. Why? Because as soon as the pvper leaves the enemy militia will just undue whatever gains he made by putting a rabbit alt in plexes.

    The problem is winning faction war sov is best done with an alt acting like a *rabbit* running from every fight. Acting like a rabbit is effective because militias do not have the intel to be able to effectively cover 8 or so systems per active pvper.

    The problem with alt rabbits effectively winning sov is very simple. It is horrible gameplay. Who wants to spend hours of their life doing that?

    Winning faction war sov would be fun and a worthy goal, if it was pvp centered not rabbit alt centered.


  10. Susan, You have sold your soul to the dark side. Doing something efficiently in Eve is a certainly time-honoured tradition. If a feature is exploitable, there is no reason why anybody shouldn't take advantage of it.

    However, minimizing the importance of implementing timer rollbacks, which will help pvp'ers and hurt farmers, to help improve FW overall is very disappointing.

    X Gallentius

  11. I always find it funny how I'm too lazy to farm plexes so there is no way I'de ever have another account and have it plex farming for me.

    However TBH I don't see it to be too much an issue in reality as we often tellthe new players to get out and farm LP so they can fund their pvp. The whole farming is broken is people complaining that they can't 'force' people to fight etc etc.

    AS for the WZC points. Well there is always more than one way to win a war and more than a few of the real ones have been won/lost by actions outside of the actual fighting.