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Blog Banter: Understanding How To Fit


Kirith Kodachi’s latest Blog Banter is a topic that’s very close to my heart:

“Obviously that is a not just a bad fit, its horrific. But the guy might not know any better. We get these all the time circulating social media and corp/alliance chat. 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…

And another question you can think about is this: do purposely wrong fits, aka comedy fits or experimental fits or off-meta fits, offend you or your corp? Would you, like Rixx Javix when he was in Tuskers, face expulsion for fitting your ships differently than the accepted standard?”

Multitasking: It’s Not Just A Skill

I think a large part of this problem originates in a new player’s attitude towards their ship.  Namely, I’ve noticed that new players tend to identify with their ship in a way that older players don’t.  A new player might say “I’m a Drake pilot” or “I’m a Hulk pilot,” where a veteran pilot would just see ships as merely a tool to be used.

This is one of the reasons that we tend to see ships out there attempting to multitask — that is, to have a mix of short and long range, to have utility modules like probes and data/relic analyzers, to mix shields and armor, and so on.  These new players are attached to their ships, especially if it’s the first ship they’ve ever flown in a given class.  They’ve scrimped and saved for that ship, and they probably only have one of them; they’re going to use them for everything!  (Plus, they want to feel like they’re progressing in the game by moving to ever-larger ships.)

Having more than one ship, each fit for a different purpose, requires lots of spare isk — an amount that boggles the newbie mind.  So, instead, they have one ship, and they try to fit it to do everything they’ve seen in the game… and die horribly.

That’s the first issue: You have to teach new players to break that temptation to multitask, and help them build up an early supply of ISK that allows them to afford to specialize.  Nosy Gamer was close to this when he described older players keeping spare ships as a form of “pre-paying the death penalty“; new players get attached to specific hulls precisely because they haven’t done this, and they don’t think of a ship as a canvas with which to create utility and specialization.

Once you can get a player thinking in terms of specialization, they’ll automatically avoid some of the worst sins of poor fitting.  They’re less likely to mix weapons, less likely to dual-tank, and so on.  That little bit of mindset goes a long way.  Not all the way, though…

No, We Don’t Really Need EFT In The Game

A few of the early responders to the blog banter have proposed implementing an equivalent to an offline fitting tool (EFT/PyFa/EveHQ) directly in the game.  This would be a nice feature; however, adding it wouldn’t really solve the problem of bad fits.  After all, BattleClinic’s fitting section is full of the wreckage of terrible fits that were lovingly handcrafted in EFT!

Fitting tools, whether offline or in-game, are fantastic for comparing the performance of different fits, and for experimenting with small subtle changes before you go on a Jita shopping trip.  However, neither of them really guide you on how to create a fit; they’re just a drawing board!  When an experienced player creates a fit for a ship, there’s a mental process that they go through:

  • Picking a role for the ship
  • Determining what modules are 100% necessary for that role (i.e. “I need a scrambler, I need a MWD, I need at least 300dps”)
  • Getting those modules to fit
  • Filling in the gaps (i.e. “I have two spare lows after meeting my core roles; I’m a bit thin, so let’s add a suitcase.  I’m a bit slow, so let’s add an overdrive.  I have a spare mid; should I put in a web, a TD, or an injector?  Maybe I’ll skip on the injector, and fit a nos instead?  etc.”)

Giving new players the ability to replicate that mental process is the real meat in the center of the fitting nut.  Everything else is just tiny tweaks and mechanics.

I’d actually love to see a section of the new player tutorial that guides people through coming up with a fit for a ship, comparing modules, and fitting up the ship.  Barring that, Von Keigai has a great idea on having a fitting “checker” that scans your ship for a list of venial sins, and I’d love to see this feature added to Eve.  (I’d add one more entry to his list of sins: Players should get a big red flashing warning if they’re less than 6 months old and attempt to undock a ship with an officer module fitted.)

Alliance Doctrines

That said, any alliance worth its salt will have a doctrine — a set of pre-approved ship fits to use.  A standard doctrines have a couple purposes, such as simplifying logistics and training programs; however, the most important tool they serve is allowing an FC to create a checklist of ships to have, and be able to figure out their ability to gank and tank with just basic multiplication.  For example: “I know that our doctrine Drake does between 450 and 600 dps, depending on pilot skill.  Therefore, if we have ten Drakes in fleet, I know that I’ve got 4500-6000 dps.”

The double-edge sword of a doctrine is that players can fit up a doctrine-compliant ship and contribute to a fleet without understanding what makes that fit good (or bad).  And, unfortunately, understanding doctrines is crucial: it’s important for making new players into vets, and it’s important for keeping alliances relevant.  Doctrines get stale if they’re not constantly questioned and improved.  Also, many alliances’ doctrinal fits are great for large-fleet PvP, but are not suitable for soloing or missioning or exploration; players need fits for these roles as well.

Doctrines are a useful tool, but you have to make sure that your players understand the purpose of the doctrine, and be willing to debate on changes to them, and be capable of living outside of doctrine when they’re not in fleet.

The same mechanisms of teaching people mechanics and thought processes can be done for anything: market trading, wormhole running, optimizing mining, optimizing level 4 mission running, or even out-of-game life skills.  If your alliance isn’t full of players teaching each other, you’re in a bad alliance.

Oddball Fits

Are you kidding?  My main claim to fame is a PvP video where I exclusively fly combat-fit covert ops ships.  (Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition… or a Buzzard with rockets, scram, web, and two TDs.)

Creativity, surprise, and the threat of the unexpected is what keeps this game interesting.  And if you fail, the only thing lost is the isk in your ship.  If your alliance truly cares about that, you’re probably in a shitty alliance.  Boredom is the universal killer of alliances in Eve; keeping your players logged in and entertained is far more important than keeping your stupid killboard green.

If you have a rank newbie who is flying bad fits because they don’t know any better, then help them.  Teach them how to fit competently, teach them how to think about ships as tools, and make the newbie into a vet.  But if you’ve got a bored veteran who wants to try killing canflippers using a tackle-fit miner, or wants to go welp dual-rep battleships into the local gate camp, or go solo roaming in faction cruisers?  Let them.  Whether they win or lose, you’re letting them build a story that they’ll tell for years, and you’re keeping them interested in Eve.

So, here’s an action item for you readers: Next time you see a killmail that’s an obvious shitfit, go ahead and laugh for a bit — and then convo the pilot.  Ask them if they understand why they’re suboptimal.  Explain.  Teach.  Help that pilot become better.  It doesn’t take long, and it means they’re more likely to keep playing the game… even if that means that you get an opportunity to kill them again.  :)

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