Thursday, March 7, 2013

For He Today That Sheds His Blood with Me, Shall Be My Brother…

~or We Share our Ships and our Deaths, But Not Our Immortality…

This post is a response to Ripard Teg’s post, “This fine ship, this fine crew”… over on Jester’s Trek. I ask that you do go read his post if you haven’t but if you don’t wanna do the TL;DR... to sum up, Ripard lays out his reasoning behind why “Ship Crews” in New Eden, if added as an ingame mechanic, would be AWESUM but not work. I disagree and I began to comment as such until I reached the point where my comment exceeded the original post at which point it became a post in its own right… so let’s dive right in shall we?
“A few reasons why this idea -- while indisputably awesome -- would be a bad idea for EVE.”
I disagree and will answer directly to your reasoning.

“First, let's get past the notion that some people have that EVE ships don't have crews. They do.”

Agreed, something I have had to argue and prove more than once. Plus I would like to add this post from 2010 by none other than Seismic Stan (Matt Westhorpe) over on Freebooted, “The Ship's Crew Debate” which does not come to the same conclusion but does give some very good insights and arguments on the Lore both ways. And also this post from 2010 by Teala from, “EVE Online - The need for adding the human factor.” Which, while it is about WiS and the player Avatar it also lends credence to the argument for gameplay & mechanics that include the human side of the EvE equation. As for Ship Crews, I say CCP laid this one to rest a long time ago as Jester and I have both shown in the CCP Produced ‘EVE Online’ Evelopedia page below... taken directly from the “New Eden crew guidelines”.

Ripard says…
“So capsuleer ships have crews.  Should the abilities of these crews improve?  I don't think they should, and it's for three reasons.”

Now, to take Jester’s opinion on, Point for point…

“First, the crew system -- whatever it was -- would be gamed to hell and back. That's what EVE players do, after all.

First -- Yes, EvE players game the game. So? As you said, it’s what EvE players do. By that standard CCP should live in dire fear of ever making any changes at all to EvE. No, I am sorry but the fact that EvE players ‘game the game’ is not a reason to stop making changes and/or additions or Expansions and Patches… IMHO the fact that EvE players are so into EvE that they work harder at ‘gaming the game’ than they sometimes do at ‘playing the game’ is a reason to rejoice… the day we stop ‘gaming the game’ is the day EvE becomes ‘just another MMO’ and that is the day it begins to die… because CCP will no longer be making a game ‘worth’ gaming.

“Second -- it would further widen the gap between veteran players and novice players.

Second -- Not necessarily. It all depends on how it’s implemented… we all know this, the players ‘gaming the game’ notwithstanding. Instead of the crews being treated as ‘just another module’, why not factor in their… human… qualities? And factor in that a Noob Starship Captain in EvE has almost no skills… so what, or more likely who, could make up for that lack onboard ship? The crew… but in New Eden, as an Immortal Capsuleer Starship Captain gains skills his need for crew reduces.

By the time he becomes a fully versed and well skilled (IE some TBD SP level = Veteran) pilot, he has reduced his crew needs to just the absolute bare minimum needed to keep things running during midwatch (the Capt’s downtime). So the Noob or newer pilots will be able to take advantage of (and benefit more from) greater bonuses from a skilled crew, or from investing in skilling up a crew, than any Vet can no matter how much a Vet may want to… This means the SP level will be an ungamable bar to crew bonuses. This way, ‘Starship Crew’ can act as a skill leveler, to give Noobs vs. Vets a more level playing field. Not a ‘level’ field, just help to offset the gap between them as it exists now.

“Third -- CCP would have to decide if
(a) ships retained their crew statistics when traded or contracted.
(b) what happens to your crew when the ship gets tossed into a carrier or the like?
(c)What would most likely happen to most of these high-bonus crews is that they'd soon find themselves in high-sec, being used to increase the efficiency of missioning and incursioning. Those would be the players most likely to have the ISK to spend on high-efficiency crews.
(d) Why risk a valuable asset in PvP when it can contribute to your money-making activities?”

Again, you are treating Crews as ‘just another module’ to be fitted to a ship… they are virtual PEOPLE so…
Third(a) - Of course not, the crew is gone. How you gonna have bonuses based on the crew if the crew is gone?? Sheesh.

Third(b) – Uh, they hit the rack, eat some chow, BS in the gangways, Sleep… but in the end, they reship WITH you. As to the mechanics, if you ‘leave’ ship in a station, eject in space, or ‘store’ your ship in a POS or an Orca or Carrier Your ‘trusted’ Virtual Officers are communication with your AI & pod and are updated as y=to your whereabouts and actions and therefore can plan accordingly.

OK, so what if you get podded? Then some percentage from 100 to 0 (more work for the Devs) survive depending on details such as ship type, tank type, incoming DPS… mebbe if you get blapped 0% live, but for a long slow death with ‘time’ for ejections, 100% then scaled accordingly.

OK so some percentage survive, you warp off in your pod and make your way to a station. Your ‘trusted’ Virtual Officers are, again as always, in communication with your AI & pod and can therefore plan accordingly. If you reship to a Noob ship, the required crew boards with you and the rest await orders or, let’s say for the sake of lore, the remainders take commercial flights back to your HQ or listed home port or whatever (and yes, they can get cloaky shuttles and meet you back in the hole if that’s your home).

So let’s leave the whole issue of ‘What happens to the crew when…’ at the fact that your Officers are doing their jobs (IE working as intended). They ensure that the crew you need is available to you no matter where you are or what you decide to do and they do it so it is invisible to you and not something you need to concern yourself with. That’s what their FOR anyway. So park your Drake in a Carrier and warp off to Jita in your pod and buy n fit that Damnation… the crew you need will be waiting to board with you and give their all once more.

Third(c) - Nope, only if a Noob was in high-sec and is using his crew to increase the efficiency of his missioning and incursioning. In which case, they would be working exactly as planned. Your, “…players most likely to have the ISK to spend on high-efficiency crews…” would get “0” bonus from any crew they bought, no matter how expensive, except the top two Officers.

Third(d) - Why are you spending your ISK on an asset that give you no bonus? UNLESS you are a noob, IE Low skilled new player. Now if you ARE a noob, why the ISK spent on a skilled crew might just level that playing field a bit when Incursioning or if you do run into one of those older high skilled players.

So Yes, Crewmembers (notice the SINGULAR there?) would maintain their stats, but again, as they are virtual PEOPLE, they too have ‘choice’ (built into the mechanic) and so they would only offer their ‘services’ to ‘skill appropriate’ Pilots. MORE Crewmembers would be available to lower skilled pilots but Higher Skilled Pilots would be able to ‘hire’ fewer Crewmembers, as they do not ‘need’ as many and whose skills would not carry as much bonus due to the Higher Skilled Pilot’s higher skills… confused yet? It’s a converse curve.

So let’s say a player has a full crew for a BC and his skills finally pass their bonus points... what happens? They ride along in his ships, reshipping from ship to ship as the Crew Complement Manifest orders… doing fuk all except eating and sleeping and searching for the Hookers they KNOW you have onboard somewhere… but they don’t help you fly the ship any better or warn you of anything when you are AFK (Away F__king Kendra, the Little Helper)… nope they just stare out the portholes, cringe and hope you’ll save them as the Catalysts close to optimal and lock Blasters…

The lower your skills the MORE crew you can HIRE and the higher they bonus your ship and fit…
The higher your skills the LESS crew you can HIRE and the less they bonus your ship and fit…

Plus the Crews would be consistent, IE a Crew Compliment, UNLESS sold or given away stays with you as individuals in a crew, depending on ship type. Your Officers and any Specialist Rates for a given role will reship with you no matter where you are.

You Hire (buy) each Crewmember you need for each role you need. You ONLY hire an Exec (Executive Officer) and COB (Chief of the Boat) ONCE (unless they die), you hire your basic Ships Company only ONCE (again unless they die) because they transfer from ship to ship with you when you reship (obviously). Then you hire Specialty Crewmembers as you for new modules etc. and they remain your crew and board any ships that are fitted with the modules they support.

Say you pass the skills for a CovOps, you can fly it, you can fit and launch Probes and a CovOps Cloak… just barely, but you can. OK, you buy a CovOps TII Frigate, say a Cheetah… you are reminded at the point of sale that you might want to consider hiring Stealth and Scanning Crewmen to help you run your Launcher & Probes and the Cloak ‘better’… Oh right, you look up the Crew bonuses, they are percent increases but decent percents so you ‘Hire’ the required Crewmembers, lets day a Lieutenant and two supporting Ensigns for each Module. Cool now they, depending on their skills (which you buy and they train) (IN REAL TIME, but slightly faster than you as they are specialists) they now give you increased bonuses in operational skills. Oh and if you really want to you can still fit and run the Cloak and Probe Launcher without them… you do not HAVE to buy and train crew… it is just HIGHLY recommended.

I hear you ask “So as you skill up to L5 do their bonuses increase your abilities PAST L5?” Of course not silly wabbit, what happens is eventually you skill PAST their bonuses and so no longer NEED them. I figure you should pass their bonuses (when they are at their L5) when you reach your L3. The max Crew can bonus you get from your L1 is equal to (as they skill up) upwards of L3 (maybe L4 depending on module or skill) but when you reach your personal L3 (or 4) regardless, Crew no longer give you ANY bonuses.

The only crew I see a capsuleer keeping for life is your Exec and COB. Why? Well, it’s a STARSHIP fer the Gods sake OK??? I mean damn man… think about it… it’s a FRAKKIN HUGE STARSHIP. Even the very best automation breaks down or at least needs some intelligent supervision… Could be a little help might not hurt doncha think? Let’s say, you have an Exec and a COB and they have a very high, but not 100%, chance of making it out when things to tits up for you… mostly because the bad guys are so desperate to get YOUR pod, ok? So you have had these guys flying with you for months… hell, years… I feel they should give you a 1 or 2% bump in your Starship Command skill and mebbe one other you get to pick, Engineering or Upgrades or somesuch.

And what if you get them killed out in the cold, hard, harsh black? Well, you lose that 1 to 2% skill bump until your ‘noob’ Exec or COB are (1) trained and (2) experienced. And ‘Hire’ an L5 one and you still have to wait for months before you see even 1%... Experience counts for more than books. Oh and let’s throw this last little tweak in for good measure… a little more Fog Of War for thine enemies and thee…

Let’s have your Exec and COB both eject in PODs along with you when your ‘Invincible Fleet Issue Stabber of Justik’ assplodes into a white triangle inna fast dissipating cloud of debris… Each is clearly marked and theirs warps off using the same mechanics as yours and they have to dock up and shit same as you… could be interesting now couldn’t it?

So, you have this Crew… buncha skilled Officers and Ensigns and you don’t need em anymore so you ‘Release’ them from their contract with you and they are once more lookin for work. Are they still a Crew? No they revert back to individual Crewmen. Do they keep their skills? Yes of course, when you leave a job do you suddenly ‘tard up? Sheesh… the things people ask…

And Forth -- You see that Vets wouldn’t WANT to ‘Hire’ crewmembers they have no use for (no bonuses past L3 remember)… and Noobs can work towards either hiring ‘new’ Crew and training them up themselves or throw down some BIG ISK (‘big’ for the Noob that is) and ‘Hire’ a much more expensive but highly trained Crew looking for a Captain and a ship to take them away from the hum-drum of dirtside existence. As the Noobs skill up they can release their old crewmembers [sell them] for profit or transfer them [pass them on] to friends who are new to EvE and can use a good trained crew…

Jester, I do think this could work, I do believe that it could be a great mechanic for assisting noobs to make it up the steepest part of the learning cliff and  I do believe the players will try and game it… so what? That’s what EvE Players do… right?

So, I say that one possibility CCP should consider for the future growth of EvE, not a full Expansion but as a major part of an Expansion is the addition of “Ship Crews” as a game mechanic. A new mechanic that adds interesting complexity to the game, adds to the Lore and immersion (for them as like that) and that gives new players a mechanic to assist them as they work their way up the EvE Learning Cliff.

Fly safe and see you in the Sky… =/|)=


The following is probably a lot of TL;DR for most of you, hence it’s addition as a PS down here… Please feel free to scroll though of skip completely, I have made the point I was aiming for above, the rest is my muse squeezing fascinatingly complex (and I am sure for most of you, boring) details of this idea outta my head…

You would have a lot of crew to pick from too. They would be made up of the various vocations, trades, ranks and rates. And they would also be from the different races, with slightly different bonuses depending on Race & Bloodline… and from the different Factions too, (yes, ‘Faction’ Officers and Crew…) very costly as they are veterans [pre-skilled] and have very specific, and slightly higher, bonuses.

The following is just a first swipe at it so I may have missed some particulars… the point of the following exercise was not to be complete, or offer anything I expect to ever see ingame, it is to show the level of complexity possible and how such a mechanic ‘might’ work… it’s an IDEA people…

Oh and no, you will not have to buy and train 6000 to 10,000 crew for a Titan… just the crew as laid out here will suffice. Command Officers, then Division Officers with at most two rates under them should suffice. As for the other thousands of crew on a Titan… let’s leave them in the care of the Command Crew… IE Not YOUR problem but a pretty good reason to hire Command staff huh? And lastly this is a mechanic NO ONE has to buy into or use same as Role Playing or the Lore… Not even those new to the game who can actually benefit from “Ship’s Crew” have to use them… it’s a sandbox… Noob to Bitter Vet, we all get to pick and choose how, and with whom, we fly the deadly skies of EvE…

The General Populace is Strongly Cautioned NOT to use Capsuleer Services for
personnel or as personal transport 98% and higher mortality rates are common.

NOTE: Amarrian Ships utilize Slavers and Slaver Hounds to control and manage Elite Slaves & Slaves that are used for a number of menial and dangerous tasks. These same tasks are handled by Drones in the Navies of the Gallente, Caldarii and Matarii.

NOTE: Capsuleers do not seem to follow any racial standards, patterns or laws in regard to the treatment of Slaves and supercargo.


CONCORD Crew Requirements for Newly Graduated Capsuleer Starship Captains

Crew Requirements for All Ship types; Frigates to Titans:
Command = Officers - Exec & Departmental Command (Ship Overall efficiency rating)
Defense = Offensive Weapons, Drones & Defense Modules - Ranks & Rates (Dept efficiency rating)
Engineering = Propulsion & Life Support - Ranks & Rates (Dept efficiency rating)
Quartermaster Corp = (Internal crew & ship Maintenance) Officers, Ranks & Rates (Ship Overall and Dept efficiency rating) [The Cost of Doing Serious Internet Spaceship Business]

Carriers, Supercarriers:
Command = CAG (Commander Air Group), Fighter Pilots - (Dept efficiency rating)
Defense = Fighter Support Crew - Ranks & Rates (Dept efficiency rating)

Titans, Cyno’s, and all Jump Capable Command ships:
Command = Officers - Cynosural Departmental Command - (Dept efficiency rating)
Cynosural Dept = Cyno Support Crew - Ranks & Rates (Dept efficiency rating)

Tactical Warfare: (all Offensive Weapon Systems)
Command = Officers - Defense Departmental Command - (Dept efficiency rating)
Projectile Turrets = Gun Crews - Ranks & Rates (Dept efficiency rating)
Energy Turrets = Laser Crews - Ranks & Rates (Dept efficiency rating)
Hybrid Turrets = Hybrid Crews - Ranks & Rates (Dept efficiency rating)
Launchers = Missile Crews - Ranks & Rates (Dept efficiency rating)
Combat Drones = Drone Crews - Ranks & Rates (Dept efficiency rating)

Electronic Warfare: (all Ewar/Stealth/Scanning Systems)
Command = Officers - EWar Departmental Command - (Dept efficiency rating)
ECM Dept = ECM Support Crew - Ranks & Rates (Dept efficiency rating)
ECCM Dept = ECCM Support Crew - Ranks & Rates (Dept efficiency rating)
EWar Drones = EWar Drone Support Crew - Ranks & Rates (Dept efficiency rating)
Tactical Dept. = (Web & Point) Tactical Support Crew - Ranks & Rates (Dept efficiency rating)
Tracking & Painting Dept. = Tracking Support Crew - Ranks & Rates (Dept efficiency rating)
Sensors Dept. = Sensor Support Crew - Ranks & Rates (Dept efficiency rating)
Scanning Dept. = Scan & Probe Support Crew - Ranks & Rates (Dept efficiency rating)
Stealth Dept. = Stealth Support Crew - Ranks & Rates (Dept efficiency rating)

Command = Officers - Logistics Departmental Command - (Dept efficiency rating)
Remote Repair Dept. = (Armor & Shield)) RR Support Crew - Ranks & Rates (Dept efficiency rating)
CAP Transfer Dept. = CAP Support Crew - Ranks & Rates (Dept efficiency rating)
Logistic Drones = Logi Drone Support Crew - Ranks & Rates (Dept efficiency rating)

Industrials: (Mining, Haulers & Freight)
Command = Officers - Freight Logistics/Mining Departmental Command - (Dept efficiency rating)
Tractors & Salvagers = Salvage Support Crew - Ranks & Rates (Dept efficiency rating)
Freight Dept. = Freight Specialists Crew - (Amarr-Slaves) Ranks & Rates (Dept efficiency rating)
Mining Dept. = Mining Specialists Crew (Amarr-Slaves) - Ranks & Rates (Dept efficiency rating)
Industrial Drones = Mining & Salvage Drone Support Crew - Ranks & Rates (Dept efficiency rating)

Additional Crew Requirements by Specialty

Rest & Recreation Command: (Hookers, Dancers & Pizza n Beer)
Command = Officers - R&R Departmental Command - (Dept efficiency rating)

Civilian Rates/Employees:
Passenger Dept = Cruise Director - Civilian Employee in Charge - (Dept efficiency rating)
Entertainment = Exotic Dancers (Amarr-Slaves) - Civilian Employees/Charges/Slaves (Ship Overall efficiency rating)
Janitorial = Janitorial Staff (Amarr-Slaves) - Civilian Employees/Slaves (Dept efficiency rating)

Civilian Passengers:
Tourists/Passengers/Science Graduates/ Freed Slaves/ Refugees/Homeless


So, what you end up with is a crew complement that you Hire to (1) fulfill your ships base requirements and then additional crew as needed depending on your Skills and your Fit.

Let’s take for example a simple CovOps Frigate fit for stealth and probe scanning with a new Pilot who has the lowest possible skills to Fly and use those Mods. He ‘can’ fit and fly with the skills he has but, ‘if’ he hires crew, he gets immediate bonuses in module use and if he trains the Crew-members he can train his toon up in other areas and still receive skill level bonuses of up to +1 to 2 Skill Levels as long as his crew-members survive…

For the CovOps at base skills, he would need a bare minimum of:

Base Crew Requirement - Covert Operations Scanning & Scout Frigate/TII:
Command = Officers:
Captain (Capsuleer Command Pilot)
1- Executive Officer (Commander Grade)
1- Chief of the Boat - CWO (Chief Warrant Officer)
Defense Dept.
1 - Lieutenant per Defense Fitted [EX: 1 – Std Missile Battery]
2 - Ensigns per Officer

Engineering Dept.
1 - Lieutenant - Propulsion
2 - Ensigns;
1 - Lieutenant - Life Support
2 - Ensigns

Quartermaster Corp:
1 - Quartermaster
2 - Ensigns          
14 Total Officers (6) and Crew (8) = Basic Ship’s Company

Additional Crew Requirements by Specialty
Stealth Dept.:
1 - Lieutenant - Cloaking
2 - Ensigns
Scanning Dept.:
1 - Lieutenant – Dscan & Probes
2 - Ensigns          
20 Total - Officers (8) plus Crew (12) = Total Ship’s Company

OK, so what if the Pilot has all CovOps & related skills to L5? Same ship, same fit… Then the Pilots skills exceed any possible bonus given by any crew except…

L5 ranked Veteran Crew Requirement - Covert Operations Scanning & Scout Frigate/TII:
Command = Officers:
Captain (Capsuleer Command Pilot)
1- Executive Officer (Commander Grade) [small % bonus in Ship Command]
1- Chief of the Boat - CWO (Chief Warrant Officer) [small % bonus in Ship Command]
2 Total - Officers (3)


So, as you can see, some lines, curves and graphs (everyone loves graphs!) would need to be drawn up and tweaked and balanced and rebalanced as regards Toon Skills/Crew Size & Skills but that’s one for the Devs at CCP to worry over…

Me, I just write what my muse tell me to.



  1. How about crews all just start from a baseline and gain extra experience (which gives you bonus points) in little increments. Every kill you make, every site you clear every ten jumps you take, your crew gets a bit better at their task. The longer you keep your ship intact, the better they get.

    If you lose your ship you need to hire new crew.

  2. Mme Thalys, excellent and far easier than mine offering... as long as your system also limits itself to FOB noobs and then reduces their bonus/availability in an inverse scale as the player skills up. I really did NOT mean to go into such detail except (1) I was really having fun with it, (2) I was looking at it from my 'how does this work in the Real?' basic position and (3) ... my muse hate me.

    Writing, for me sometimes, is like being drugged or in a trance or... well, more like possession actually. Unlike Ripard and Mabrick... I do not notes I do very little 'research as such' I just write... sort of a 'Stream of WTF' state as 'twere...

    And I do not like the 100% crew loss every time... sorry, I know it is a game, but that would just depress the hell outta me. In that respect you are treating them as a module... as 'just' a mechanic and not a 'crew' and for many that is all they would be... but not in the Lore and not for many others. The thing to always remember is, like FW or 'strick' RP Corp/Alliances... no one 'has' to hire/use Crew... it is one more option in great and expanding sa-a-andbox... =]

  3. Bit late in responding to this post and I didn't even fully read the second part but my first reaction on how to treat crew regarding veteran/newbie players was to let crew members give skill ranks.

    Say you have minmatar cruisers at rank 2, you hire 1 or two crew members to raise the effective skill lvl to rank 3 or 4.
    Ofc you need something to make sure this doesn't turn into skill points for isk but there are plenty of options to dfferentiate between real skills and crew skills. For example these skills cannot reach rank 5, only 4 or lower or they won't count as real skills regarding preqrequisites.


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