Tux does the math on drones

Seems to be a lot of misunderstanding about the new drone reduction proposal. So for your convenience I'm going to make a few examples about popular ships and how this effects them. Another misunderstanding, which is mostly my fault is that the ship bonuses that used to be control bonuses give bonus to all damage types. More on that later though. First lets check out what exactly is being done.

  • Drone Interfacing Skill changed from 1 drone per leve to 20% drone damage per level and 20% drone mining yield per level. That is at level 5 you get 100% increase to drone damage output and drone mining yield
  • Ships that give 1 drone per ship skill level has been changed to 10% drone damage and in some cases 10% damage (all damage types) and mining yield per level. They also get a bonus to drone hitpoints
  • Drone bays reduced. In most cases this will just be done by halving the drone bay but some ships will get a special attention. Read on for further information
  • Drone hitpoint increase. With fewer drones it makes sense that they should be tougher. 50% increase in drone armor hitpoints, shield capacity and hull hitpoints.

Now for a few examples on how this will effect few popular ships with a bit of a drone bay.

Ishtar

Let's start by looking at it's drone related bonuses. It gets 1 drone controlled for Gallente Cruiser level and as it needs Gallente Cruiser at level 5 to fly the ship it gets 5 extra drones. From it's Heavy Assault Ships skill it gets 5km bonus to drone range and +50m3 drone capacity per level. Ishtar has drone capacity of 250m3.

With Drone Interfacing at level 5 Ishtar can control 15 drones. It can also hold 15 drones as long as it has Heavy Assault Ships at level 3 or more. If Heavy Assault Ships skill is higher then level 3 then he can carry more spare drones until at level 5 it has drone capacity of 500m3 so it can carry 20 heavy drones that is 5 spare drones.

After these changes the 5 extra drones would change to 50% drone damage. The range bonus wouldn't change at all. The drone capacity would be halved to 125m3. It would seem normal to halve the drone capacity bonus but as Ishtar can already carry 5 heavy drones with it's 125m3 drone bay all the bonus does is to give it more spare drones so I'm keeping the +50m3 drone capacity bonus.

Lets do pure damage output before and after changes. Assuming Drone Interfacing and Gallente Cruiser at level 5 Ishtar can now launch 15 drones and has 5 extra drones in it's drone bay. After the changes it could only use use 5 drones but each of these drones would do the same damage as 3 did before the changes and it has a drone capacity of 375m3 which means it can carry 10 extra drones in it's drone bay. Not only that but since it's using only 5 drones in each wave then it means that Ishtar can carry 3 waves of heavy drones in it's drone bay but before the changes it had 1 and 1/3.

Drone durability is another story. It's easier to kill 5 drones that it is to kill 15 drones but each of the drone after the changes has more hitpoints. Lets remember that drones are getting a static 50% increase in hitpoints. Lets say that it also gets 10% per cruiser level which means it gets another 50% increase in hitpoints then one drone after the changes has 2.25 times more hitpoints than drones before the changes. If we add the hitpoint of 15 drones as they are today and 5 drones with increased hitpoint then the five drones have combined hitpoints of 11.25 drones as we they are today. Sure it's less total hitpoints then the 15 current drones but on the other hand they take over twice as long to kill with a smartbomb and if your five drones die you have two waves in your drone bay whereas if you lost all your 15 drones before you would only have 5 drones left. That is if you lose your 15 drones your drone damage output is down to 1/3 of what you had.

Ishkur

Ishkur is not as dependant on drones as it's bigger brother Ishtar. It has a drone capacity of 25m3 and it's only drone related bonus is a +5m3 drone capacity per Assault Ship level. Right now it can launch 10 light drones or 5 medium.

What happens to it after the changes is that the base drone capacity gets halved and rounded up to nearest multple of 5. That is it will have 15m3 drone bay. It's drone bonus stays at 5m3 which means if it has Assault Ships at level 5 it has a total drone bay capacity of 40m3. It can then launch either 5 light drones or 4 medium ones.

For the light drones the damage output stays the same. If you have Drone Interfacing at level 3 then you can use 8 light drones now after the changes assuming the same skills then you can use 5 drones but get a 60% damage bonus from Drone Interfacing skill meaning that each of it's 5 drones does 1.6 times the damage that the drones do before changes. That means that the 5 drones have the same damage output as 8 drones before the changes.

For medium drone you have the potential of doing more damage. With Assault Ships at level 5 you have 40m3 drone bay which means you can fit 4 medium drones. Before the changes you could fit 5. If you have Drone Interfacing at level 4 each of your drones after the changes does 1.8 times the damage of the drones before the changes that means that after the changes assuming Drone Interfacing level 5 you have the same damage output of 7.2 medium drones before the changes

Armageddon

Armageddon used to have room in it's drone bay for 10 heavy drones. To make use of it's 10 drones it would need two skills at level 5, drones and drone interfacing.

After the changes Armageddon could only use 5 drones but those drones would get 20% bonus to damage and mining yield per Drone Interfacing level that is a total of 100% bonus to drone damage and drone mining yield. The damage output compared to the "old" Armageddon would then be the same each drone would have double the damage output of the drones before changes.

Now what happens if that Armageddon didn't have Drone Interfacing at level 5 but level 3? It would be the same again. Before you could use 8 drones but after you could use 5. These 5 drones would have 1.6 times the damage output of drones before changes resulting in damage output of 8 drones.

How about durability then, surely it's easier to kill 5 drones then 10 drones. Well that applies to most cases but not all. All drones are getting some static hitpoint increase lets say for sake of this example 50%. The 5 drones after changes would then have the same hitpoints as 7.5 drones before changes. They certainly would die faster if they were targeted and shot at but if they are being smartbombed then they would survive a little longer.

Dominix

Before it could use 15 with Drones, Drone Interfacing and Gallente Battleship at level 5. After the changes with the same skills it will be able to use 5 drones but each drone will have the firepower of 3 drones before the changes. (20% damage per level on Drone Interfacing and 10% damage per level on Gallente Battleship). Actually as long as you have Drone Interfacing at level 5 then your damage output shouldn't change at all although the durability of your drones will.

If you don't have drone interfacing at level 5 then it's a little bit of reduction in damage output. For example if you have Drone Interfacing at level 4 and Gallente Battleship at level 4 then you could now use 13 drones. After the changes you could use 5 but they would have the effective damage output of 12.6

The durability would still be, assuming 50% increase in drone hitpoints, 7.5 effective drones but it wouldn't be that unrealistic that these ships would also get drone hitpoint bonuses lets say 10% per level which means that with Gallente Battleship at level 5 the drones would have 2.25 times the hitpoint of the drones before the changes, that is combined hitpoints of 5 drones with Gallente Battleship level 5 would be the same as 11.25 drones before the changes.

Vexor and Arbitrator

These ships can now use 15 medium drones or 6 heavy drones. If you use medium drones then the example looks pretty much the same as for the Dominix. If you use heavy drones then you should be very happy with your new damage output.

Before you had room for 6 heavy drones, after the changes you have room for 3 but if you have Drone Interfacing and Gallente/Amarr Cruiser level 4 your 3 heavy drones after the changes would have the same damage output as 8.1 heavy drones before the changes.

Here the drone durability of the 5 heavy Drones, assuming 50% hitpoint boost, is about the same as 4.5 heavy drones. Since it should get some drone hitpoint bonus from it's Gallente/Amarr Cruiser skill lets say 50% then it gets combined hitpoints of 6.75 drones before the changes if it has Gallente/Amarr Cruiser at level 5.

The reduction of the drone bays

I see a lot of confusion about why this is being done but I will try my best to explain it. Lets look at the current drone bays on the battleships. Raven, Scorpion, Tempest and Apocalypse can all carry 6 heavy drones. Megathron and Armageddon have room for 10 drones, Typhoon 14 and Dominix 30. If the dronebay wouldn't be halved then all these ships, except the Dominix, would have the same drone damage output. The only difference would be that Megathron, Armageddon, Typhoon and Dominx could carry more spare drones. By halving the drone bay the drone balance between the ship is maintained.

Dominix has the added benefit of having more waves of drones. It had room for 30 heavy drones but could use 15. That is two waves of drones. Now it has room for 15 and can use 5 which in most cases give the same effect as having 15 before changes. Since it only uses 5 drones at a time each spare drone it can carry has bigger value for it so Dominix can now launch 3 waves of heavy drones after the changes but before it could only launch two.

Now lets take a look at the Raven. It was limited to 6 drones due to it's small drone bay. As it is limited by it's drone bay size he can't carry any spare drones in his cargo hold. After the changes he would have room for 3 drones and their performance would depend on the Drone Interfacing skill giving him the max damage output the same as of 6 drones at Drone Interfacing level 5. I doubt that a lot of Raven pilots bothered to train Drone Interfacing to level 5 so this will probably be a bit of a damage reduction to them.

How are you halving the drone bay

A lot of ships, especially frigates have drone bays of 5m3, 15m3 or 25m3. If you divide those numbers by 2 you get 2.5m3, 7.5m3 and 12.5m3. As the smallest drone is 5m3 these values seem silly. In all these cases I rounded it up to nearest multiple of 5. That is 5m3 drone bay would remain 5m3 and a 25m3 would become 15m3.

Why all damage types

Well at first this seemed to be pretty obvious to give them only bonus to their race specific damage types like is done on missiles. There are however few key differences that can not be ignored. The bonus on drones is 50% but on missiles it's 25% so the drone user has a lot more to lose if he ignores his bonus. The drone user also has to make the decision whether he is going to ignore his bonus when he's fitting. Tech 2 drones are out and Dominix pilots didn't necessarily train to use Gallente drones not to mention all the manufacturers that have blueprints of other drones than Gallente.

This whole project is also not about "nerfing" drones. This is about reducing server lag and at the end give you a more joyful experience while playing. The fact is though that something will change. Having 15 drones is not the same as having 5 drones. As you hopefully have noticed in this blog then it's not a lot of damage reduction you take, in some cases none at all and in some cases it's even a damage boost. The defense might be less in some cases and more in some cases. It all depends on how your drones are being killed.

I've made a lot of examples in this blog about how these changes will affect certain ships. Obviously I can't make example about every ship but hopefully I've put a lot of minds at ease. If you think any ships have been nerfed especially hard with these changes please say so and better yet give me some examples like the ones I did above of how you have been nerfed.

_Note from Oveur based on comments:
I'd just like to point out that the optimizations are being done from not one, not two but from THREE sides. It may come as a surprise to some players but we are actually optmizing code, optimizing content (this change) and buying more hardware.

Drones take a lot of resources on the client and the server and although it may seem very little to some of you, doing this change alone actually reduces the resource usage by almost half. I think that's quite a lot ;)_