FLEX Structures and the Return of The Eye of Terror

The first presentation on Saturday of EVE Vegas was from CCP Lebowski.  Titled “FLEX, Decs, & What Comes Next,” it covered a stretch of topics, but opened with the latest round of structures from the Upwell Consortium.  You can watch it here.

FLEX structures are set to replace the last few null sec infrastructure roles that still require Player Owned Starbases.  After that the noble POS and the horrible code base that supports it, long complained about by CCP, can be retired.  Maybe.  A POS is still a pretty hand structure, so they may still need something to replace the simple ability to drop a safe spot in hostile space.

Anyway, the new FLEX structures are coming, FLEX standing for “Fast Logistical EXpansion,” and they share some characteristics.

The Basics of FLEX Structures

There are three FLEX structures coming, each replacing a POS function.  There is the Pharolux Cyno Beacon, on which many an unwary capital pilot will probably die, the Tenebrex Cyno Jammer, which will let you stop capital drops in your territory, and the Ansiblex Jump Gate, which is going to open a can of worms we’ve seen before.

And it is that last one, the Ansiblex Jump Gate, that I want to bring up here, because it has some interesting features.

Jump Bridge becomes Jump Gate

There are some very spiffy aspects of this new structure.  The model looks good, they align in space to the star system they to which they are connected, and the animations for it are superb. The latter will also be used with the upgraded art and animations for jump gates throughout New Eden.

But the thing I want to highlight is how unlike the old jump bridge the Ansiblex really is.  It is the last two bullet points that are key here:

  • No Jump Fatigue
  • No Ship Size Restrictions

My first thought on seeing those two items was that these were, in essence, player made star gates, something that had been mentioned as a possibility quite some time back.  I was kind of hoping that such structures would send us into new space, maybe with some new rules, but these seem to fit the bill if you get right down to it.  Promise delivered on, if not in the way expected.

My second thought, which came very close on the first, and which I heard echoed by Dirk MacGirk amongst others, was, “Here is the return of the Eye of Terror!”

The Eye of Terror!

The Eye of Terror was a jump bridge network setup during the Great War.  While I was playing EVE Online at the time, I was nowhere near null sec.  It is, however, an item of legend, so I went to the Goon Wiki to get a description:

The original Eye of Terror was a series of jump bridges finished in December of 2007 during The Great EVE War. It ran from 46DP in Tenerifis to P8- in Feythabolis, enabling a constant stream of Goons into RISE’s living room for 24/7 harassment.

Since late August, RISE had been increasingly penned in to the “RIT Triangle,” their cluster of home station systems past the P8- choke point, and the constant presence of Black Ops and Pandemic Legion kept their station systems disabled and left them with no means of escape.

By the time the Eye of Terror actually opened RISE resistance had already been reduced to sitting in stations with the odd, terribly fit ship to attempt to escape. The stream of ships through the Eye rapidly destroyed their towers, many of which ran out of fuel as RISE logistics had given up or were trapped in stations.

That was the first Eye of Terror, and legend has it that its construction and effectiveness led to CCP changing the rules for jump bridges, restricting them to one per system so that fleet would at least have to expose themselves to gates along the way rather than just warping from POS to POS and jumping in relative safety.

Then there was the second Eye of Terror, the jump bridge line that I took so often back in the day, the one that first led to the beachhead in Cloud Ring for the invasion of Fountain.  Later it was extended, first through Fountain, then Delve, and then into Querious.

If a fight was happening in way down south we could just hop in our ships up in Deklein and be down there in a pretty short time.  And so battles like HED-GP came along and crashed the server.  Yes, there were other factors, like the proliferation of drones and the Slowcats doctrine that were not helping.  But the fact that people could log in anywhere in null sec and get to an escalating fight… all the easier because time dilation slowed the fight down while those traveling were moving at full speed… led to a pile on after pile on.

So CCP changed the way travel worked in null sec.  The Phoebe update came along and introduced jump fatigue.  Capital ships could no longer make jumps in rapid succession, and the same applied to jump bridges.  Then we got Fozzie Sov, which sought to disperse battles over sovereignty.  Small fights were going to break up the stagnation of null sec.

Certainly, some groups responded by consolidating their holdings.  The Imperium drew back into a much smaller footprint in the north though, in the end, that was still more than could be held by the coalition.  The Casino War proved that well enough.  There was that and other shake outs, but in the end there was still something of an equilibrium.  Outsiders and pundits still speak of the “blue donut” as though repeating it makes it so.

And then… something happened at CCP.  I think they decided big fights were in their best interest.  But the jump fatigue penalties started getting pared back.  At the start, with Phoebe, you could make a character useless for months by taking too many jumps.  That got reduced to five days.  Now it is down to five hours.  But it still injects a wait period between jumps.  You can’t just jump or take jump bridges in rapid succession.

Only soon you will be able to again, and I am at a loss to explain why.  Travel is a factor you must plan for in New Eden.  Jump fatigue seemed to have a purpose in that.  Now that whole “3 minutes per light year” travel time metric goal of just four years ago will be straight out the window.

When the new FLEX structures go in, when the Ansiblex Jump Gate becomes a thing, travel in null sec will lose its burden again.  Subcap fleets will be able to cross large distances at will, giving coalitions the power to hold onto more territory.  And it won’t just be subcaps, because capitals, supercaps, and titans will be able to take those new jump gates as well.

Yes, CCP points out that it will cost in liquid ozone.  But I suspect they underestimate the abilities of GSOL, the miracle working logistical arm of the Imperium.  I bet if The Mittani told them that there was a need to move every titan in the coalition in the next 24 hours, they would have supplies laid in and ships ready to refuel jump bridges along the whole route.  I think we’ve already demonstrated that cost and effort are not really barriers.

So there we’ll be soon enough.  But the gate animations will be cool.  I’m tempted get FRAPS setup again to take videos of giant fleets passing through these new structures as the third Eye of Terror takes shape.

8 thoughts on “FLEX Structures and the Return of The Eye of Terror

  1. SynCaine

    You can only have one such gate per system, right? And they can only link to one other gate? So you can make one jump without fatigue, but then the second would need to be made from a different system, either by jumping to a cyno or using a gate. Or am I missing something here?

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  2. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @SynCaine – With Phoebe jump bridges gave you jump fatigue, just like being bridged by a titan or using your jump drive. That is true through to today. The replacement FLEX structure will not give you jump fatigue, so you’ll be able to use one, gate, use the next one, gate, use the next one, gate, use the next one, and so on, without halt of hindrance.

    Jump fatigue was put in for a reason. Has that reason been fixed or otherwise gone away, or was jump fatigue just a mistake all this time?

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  3. anypo8

    Jump fatigue was just a mistake all this time.

    JF drove a ton of veteran players away while simultaneously making the experience for newer players unpleasant. When I was in CFC as a young player, I ended up avoiding the Jump Bridges whenever possible to avoid accumulating JF even when it would have been really convenient otherwise: I was afraid I might need a JB in an emergency or as part of a fleet op. It was all just silly.

    IMHO the main mistake of Jump Bridges is still in the current design: they are too sturdy. A determined coalition should be able to attack a JB chain along the whole chain at once by splitting their forces. If a big piece of the chain is torn down, it’s going to be a pain to set back up, and will probably just get torn down again. This would keep JBs in “safe” space where they made sense, without having to deal with JF. A similar alternative would be to allow JBs only in sov space.

    I dunno. Game design is hard. I wish CCP would hire a lead Game Designer with a real Game Design background. But I doubt they’ll hire much of anyone ever again, so there’s that. :-(

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  4. SynCaine

    Having to jump-gate-jump is a massive security risk when moving capitals, as its (kinda) easy to surprise drop a move op on a gate. At least its much easier to do that then jump then between citadel tethers/jumps.

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  5. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @SynCaine – Yes, but you have to take gates for capital move ops already. To get from Delve to Cloud Ring you have to take the ZXB to Y-20, KVN to C-N4, and J5A to B-DB gates already. We did that on the move ops to and from the recent war and many times before since they started letting supers take gates. But now you can get the jump from J5A to C-N4 without jump fatigue.

    So for an investment in liquid ozone your capital fleet is now always ready to jump if there is any danger.

    And, of course, we’ll be back to sub-caps going from Delve to Cloud Ring without any wait time. We’ll be able to deliver a jump fatigue free fleet to our boarders on fairly short notice.

    I’m not saying this is horrible, since it primarily benefits us, but it does seem to be a significant change of policy by CCP.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Archey

    Is there no need to hold sov to drop one of these? I think under Dominion you had to have a certain sov level, which limited things a little. Since it’s harder to hold vast swathes of space now, sov or not, that would limit an entity’s ability to keep another Eye of Terror up and secure. Unless I’m missing something?

    I do think removing capitals as you mentioned is a good move though. I for one don’t think JF was a bad thing, certainly not in its modern, less obnoxious form. It’s much more obnoxious never to be able to use capitals as a small entity since all of Eve will pile on within 15 minutes of any fight starting.

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  7. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Archey – The Imperium already has a jump bridge network from Querious to J5A, which gets you to Cloud Ring, which is effectively a nascent Eye of Terror. The ability to move fleets around quickly enables the ability to hold more territory. The limiting factor for subcaps is Jump Fatigue, which has been pared down over time.

    The old jump bridges needed to be in your own territory, could only link to your own territory, and the correct upgrades to the ihub had to be in place. The replacements still need the ihub upgrade, but do not need to be placed in your own territory and you can link to jump bridges from other organizations. So if TEST and the Imperium are allied in another war the combined jump bridge networks can be linked, which means being able to jet subcaps around half of null sec pretty quickly.

    It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

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