Daily Archives: May 7, 2023

Answering Gaming Questions with AI – A Tank in EVE Online

I am back again to ask three AI chat bots another question about video games to see how they do.  Google, Meta, and Microsoft can’t stop mentioning AI either.  It is the world we live in now.

AIs thinking about video game questions… drawn by an AI

The questions so far:

The last round, which Bing AI soundly won, involved a fairly specific answer that the other, more chatty AIs, Chat GPT and Google Bard, struggled to build a narrative around.

So I though I would return to something that was more of an explainer rather than involving a technically detailed response.

This week’s question is:

What is a tank in EVE Online?

This question hearkens back to the early days of this site when it was, at times, what Potshot used to call “the magic 8-blog” where I would write a post asking a question and get lots of answers.

In this case it was an EVE Online jargon question.  I saw people use the word “tank” but couldn’t quite figure out what they meant from context.  I knew what a tank was in WoW or EQ or whatever fantasy MUD or MMORPG, but EVE doesn’t map to those roles for the most part, and in the context of what I was reading even logi… a repair ship, the healer of space priest… has a tank.

So I wrote a post basically asking what a tank was in EVE.  This, by the way, pre-dated the now gone EVElopedia and the EVE Uni Wiki.

I found out pretty quickly that “tank” referred to the defensive capabilities of your ship and tended to be focused on either shield or armor, though hull tanking… once considered insane but now a viable option with changes to the game over the years… is also on the list.

The shields can also be an active or passive tank due to natural regen, those are usually the PvE terms, and for PvP fleets the distinction tends to be active and buffer tanks.  Hull tanks are generally buffer tanks only.  Then there is the whole damage resistance aspect to tanking.

And, to top that off, there are also things like “speed tanking” where you keep your transversal up so that the enemy guns cannot track and hit you, or “sig tanking” which makes you hard to lock up and hit.

So that is my statement about a tank in EVE Online, pulled entirely out of… memory.  General, with some secondary details, but nowhere close to a guide to fitting a tank.  What will the AIs say?

Bing AI chimed in with

A tank in EVE Online is a term for a ship’s defense system that allows it to absorb and reduce incoming damage. There are different types of tanks, such as shield tanking, armor tanking, and hull tanking, and each one has its own advantages and disadvantages. Tanking can be passive or active, depending on whether the ship relies on natural regeneration or modules that consume resources to repair damage¹.

Tanking is a core part of most ship combat in EVE Online, and it can make a big difference in your survivability and performance. You should choose a tank that suits your ship’s attributes, your playstyle, and the type of enemies you face¹.

(1) Tanking – EVE University Wiki
(2) Eve Online – Shield Tanking – New Player Guide – YouTube
(3) The victim of EVE Online’s $5,000 gank says he’s struggling – PCGamer

Not bad.  If I just wanted the basic “what does this jargon word mean?” then this would have me covered.  This certainly would have been a fine answer to my post back in 2007.  There wasn’t enough effort for full marks, and I have to admit that third reference it listed is kind of strange, but it completed the assignment.

Grade: B+

Then there was Google Bard

In EVE Online, a tank is a ship’s ability to absorb and reduce incoming damage. A player upgrades their ship’s defense grid, commonly called its tank, to prevent or delay their ship’s destruction. Tanking is a core part of most ship combat in EVE Online.

There are three main types of tanking:

Shield tanking uses shield extenders, resistance modules, and shield boosters to increase the ship’s shield capacity and resistance to damage. Shield tanks are typically used on ships with high shield hitpoints, such as frigates and cruisers.

Armor tanking uses armor plates, resistance modules, and armor repair modules to increase the ship’s armor capacity and resistance to damage. Armor tanks are typically used on ships with high armor hitpoints, such as battleships and battlecruisers.

Buffer tanking uses a combination of shield extenders, resistance modules, and armor plates to increase the ship’s total hitpoints. Buffer tanks are typically used on ships with low hitpoints, such as destroyers and t1 cruisers.

The type of tank that is best for a particular ship depends on a number of factors, including the ship’s hull type, its fitting slots, and the pilot’s playstyle.

In addition to the three main types of tanking, there are a number of other factors that can affect a ship’s survivability, such as the pilot’s skill level, the ship’s speed, and the use of electronic warfare modules.

Tanking is a complex and ever-evolving topic in EVE Online. With so many factors to consider, it is important for pilots to experiment and find the tanking methods that work best for them.

Source: EVE Uni Wiki Tanking

I should post this one to r/eve, though only flagged as humor because there is so much wrong here I hardly know where to begin.

The opening section answers the basic question, so I will give it credit for that.  And the next to last paragraph hints at speed tanking, pilot skill levels, and ECM… though I think once we’re on about ECM we have have left the tanking discussion.  Also, there is the ECM nerf to consider, where it doesn’t work if the person you are using it on targets you back.

But the middle part, the three types of tanking… so much wrong there that I want to redact it lest somebody should read it and think it is useful.

Shield and Armor are two types of tanks, and Buffer is a style of tanking that can be used with Shield, Armor, or Hull… Hull tanking goes completely unmentioned here like it was 2009 still… and the idea that hull type (frigate, cruiser, battleship) dictates whether you go shield or armor… or buffer for destroyers… is not a thing.  Don’t read this.  If you have, forget you did.

I can’t fail Bard due to the opening paragraph . It would have gotten a C at least if it had stopped there.  But then it had to plunge into the unknown… unknown to it apparently… and throw together authoritative sounding yet wrong details.

Grade: D-

And, finally, Chat GPT came in with

In EVE Online, a Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (MMORPG) set in a vast, persistent space-based universe, a “tank” refers to the defensive capability of a ship. Tanking in EVE Online is the process of fitting a ship with modules and rigs that increase its survivability by boosting its shield, armor, or hull resistance and/or the ability to repair damage. The main purpose of a tank is to allow the ship to survive longer in combat situations, whether in Player vs. Environment (PvE) encounters or in Player vs. Player (PvP) engagements.

There are three primary types of tanking in EVE Online:

1. Shield Tanking: This involves fitting shield extenders, shield resist modules, and shield boosters to increase the shield hit points and resistance, as well as the ability to quickly recharge the shield. Shield tanking is more common among Caldari and Minmatar ships.

2. Armor Tanking: This focuses on fitting armor plates, armor resist modules, and armor repairers to enhance the armor hit points, resistance, and the ability to repair damage. Armor tanking is more prevalent among Amarr and Gallente ships.

3. Hull Tanking: This is a less common method of tanking, which relies on fitting bulkhead modules to increase the ship’s structural hit points. Hull tanking sacrifices the potential for shield or armor tanking, and it is generally considered less effective. However, it can be a viable option in certain situations or for specific ship types.

When fitting a ship for tanking, players should consider the ship’s role, the type of damage they expect to encounter, and the inherent strengths and weaknesses of the ship’s design. A well-fitted tank can mean the difference between victory and defeat in the dangerous world of EVE Online.

Chat GPT gets in with a pretty comprehensive opening paragraph, getting in the defensive nature, survival, and passing references to resistances and PvE vs PvP.

Then it gets the three primary types of tanks correct AND even correctly identifies the tank preferences of the four key NPC empires.  (Though they each have ships that can use the other style of tanks.  The Gallente Ishtar, for example, tends to bounce between armor and shield tanks depending on the current combat meta.)  And it also identified specific classes of modules used for the three types of tanks listed.

It didn’t dive into buffer or active and steered clear of speed, but it does suggest that the role, damage to be faced, and the ships own attributes should be taken into account.

Not perfect, but goes just deep enough and didn’t undo itself with bad information.

Grade: A-

On this one two of the three AIs did very well, at least answering the question as well as providing some relevant details that a user could follow up on.

And then there was Google Bard, which did the worst thing an AI bot like this can do, which is give a detailed answer that sounds good and plausible to somebody who doesn’t know the facts up front, but which is pretty garbage to anybody who knows what they are doing.

At this point, four posts in, we have seen the foibles of AI in its current state, but Google Bard seems to be determined to be the comedy relief in these posts.