Passive alignment and other myths

There are some things in EVE that people seem to take as fact which are quite simply not.

My pet hate on this front has got to be passive alignment. For those who aren’t in the know, this is when you align to a point in space (say, another stargate), at zero speed. The idea is that when you hit the warp button, you will enter warp faster than if you were pointing in another direction.

Now, this doesn’t work. If you’re pointing exactly 180 degrees away from the warp-out point you’ll warp as quickly as if you were pointing at it. If you don’t believe me, go undock and try it.

The exact equation involved looks like this:

TimeToWarp=-ln(0.25) * Mass * Agility / 1000000

A little explanation- the mass and agility of your ship are equal contributors to the warp time of your ship. The other element- the natural logarithm of 0.25-  is why you warp when you’re 3/4 of the way round your ship’s speed indicator, and not at maximum velocity. This equation will give the absolutely correct (not accounting for latency) time to enter warp no matter the orientation of the ship involved.

Some of you might be screaming “But the ship has to be pointing in the right direction!”. Well, you’d be right in a way. EVE models, fairly accurately, ships and everything else in space as balls. They’re spheres with a fixed radius, and that’s how collision and all that stuff is worked out- just simple sphere interactions. Now, your ship is obviously not ball-shaped. You’ve got those stonking great big engines on there! And they only fire in one (or three, if it’s a Kitsune) direction(s). So logically, the time it takes for those engines to get to where they’re pushing in the right direction must have an impact, right? WRONG! EVE doesn’t model that! EVE assumes that your engines are pushing you towards wherever you want to go, not in the opposite direction to where they appear to be pointing. The model of your ship- that is, the bit you see- is actually only attempting to respond to the actual vector of your ship to give you a smooth experience.

Direction is important to your ship’s vector, but not the model. What you see is, most of the time during warping, crap. If your ship is stationary it has effectively (and this is where most people give up) no direction. It is directionless. The vector’s magnitude is zero and as such any addition to that vector (by your engines) result in that vector instantly snapping to that direction. An analogy, if you will. Let’s say I have a marble. I put it on a flat surface. If it is stationary then it takes me no extra effort to push it to the left or right. If it’s rolling to the left and I want to push it right it takes extra effort, if I want to push it to the left.. it’s already rolling to the left. This is about as good an analogy I can come up with for alignment.

This is why your alignment time as reported by EFT and so on is always correct, no matter where you’re facing. The only thing passive alignment will do is tip off the enemy as to where you’re going to go if you need to run, making the whole practice doubly useless.

I know there’s been a few notes on how passive alignment doesn’t work, but I’ve seen a lot of people talk about this recently and it’s really been bugging me, so there you have it- the definitive rant, compiled from both my own notes and experimental efforts as well as Entity’s post on the topic.