Monday, April 4, 2011

Recent Happenings

The major problem—one of the major problems, for there are several—one of the many major problems with governing people is that of whom you get to do it; or rather of who manages to get people to let them do it to them.
To summarize: it is a well-known fact that those people who most want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it.
To summarize the summary: anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job.
--Douglas Adams

I'm going to be taking a bit of a detour for today's topic.  With all the recent events, what with Fanfest happening, I figured I should at least say something about it all.  So I've decided to stick my nose where it has no business being and comment on a number of different topics that I probably have a poor understanding of.  What could possibly go wrong?

Fake Edit:  This is really long, and not exactly my usual topic of conversation for the Blog.  As such, some people who enjoy this blog for its take on the life of a Pirate may find it a little uninteresting.  Of course, it's still the excellent writing and brilliant ideas that you've come to expect from me.  On an unrelated note, my ego is doing just fine, thanks for asking.

As is usually the case, I'm a bit late to the party.  It's a nasty little side affect of using scheduled posts that you won't be reading any of this until over a week after it's all happened, but them's the breaks.  First up in my list of things I have no business commenting on...

CSM Election Results

The results are in and if you didn't vote, then I don't want to hear any complaining out of you for the next 12 months.  That should be how it works, right?  As I've mentioned in the past, I don't much care for the political game in EVE Online, and as such rely on third-party sources for a lot of my information.  An excellent example of one of those sources can be found at I am Keith Nielson.  He does a much better job of breaking down the various winners than I ever could, so if you're interested, definitely give that post a read.  He also brings up a couple of points that I'm going to weigh in on, whether anyone asked me to or not.

"So those are our 9 primary delegates. According to this forum thread thats 2 Goons, 1 TEST, 2 NC and, 1 DRF and 3 unaffiliated. The reason this may leave a bad taste in some people’s mouths? Its quite 0.0 alliance heavy and if in-game politics were going to be an issue it is weighted heavily towards the NC and their freinds."

And later on while discussing this post by CSM Candidate Ripard Teg...

"Even though he just missed getting an alternate seat he looks at the trend (if you can call it a trend) beginning to become apparent in turnout. He makes the point that if the Empire players who are complaining about a 0.0 dominated CSM now really want to take it back from them next year then they have to start organising now."

I want to point out a couple of things.  I'm an Empire Player.  I don't think that when most people think of "Empire Space" they think of anything but Highsec, but then again Lowsec is notorious for being all red-headed-stepchildy.  The second thing is that I voted for Nullsec Players in this CSM.  The reason I did this had absolutely nothing to do with an affiliation with their Alliances.  I bring this up because a lot of people seem to dismiss the votes coming into these candidates as "Bloc votes" and nothing more.

I want to go on record somewhere as saying that they were also the candidates that were most knowledgeable about the game's mechanics, problems, and the vast interconnectivity of the systems in place.  Now, while it certainly seems to follow that experienced players tend to congregate inside Nullsec Alliances, it's also worth noting that belonging to a Nullsec Alliance isn't required to understand the game.  What I consistently saw from candidates in the "unaffiliated" category was a lack of these attributes.  They often didn't have answers to questions because they didn't understand the mechanics behind what was being asked.  They got things wrong concerning areas they had never dealt with in the game (often involving Nullsec) and I found this very off putting.  I don't pretend to know everything there is to know about the game of EVE Online, but I also try to have a firm grasp on how things work, even in areas that I don't get involved in, to decide if they would be areas I would like to be involved in sometime in the future.  You'd be surprised the number of players that I've explained Highsec aggression mechanics to while in my alt's NPC Corp chat on a Jita run, even though I spend very little time in Highsec, and even less time aggressing things there.  When a Lowsec Pirate is reading your CSM Thread and says, "Ummm...that's not how Nullsec works," something is very wrong.

This is the last thing I'll be saying about the CSM6 elections before moving on to other news.  I'm happy with the results.  I have two accounts, and thus had two votes.  Both of the candidates I voted for got elected.  I'll probably pay extra attention to what they do for the next year, and based on that, will decide if they're worth voting for if they run again next year.  Simple as that.

Those Anomaly Changes in Full

Some more stuff I have no business sticking my nose into comes up in the form of a recent Dev Blog.  My limited understanding of the whole thing is basically that there was too much ISK flowing into nullsec and not enough scarcity to produce conflict.  CCP is attempting to remedy it.  Nullsec residents are...less than thrilled.  Hop on over to Fiddler's Edge for a slightly more in depth look at it, and hopefully he's forthcoming with his promised follow up after he's had some time to think about it more, because his thoughts and analysis always make for excellent reads.

Why am I bringing this one up?  Because it got me thinking about something.  The mechanics currently present in Sov Nullsec is that you're able to upgrade a system that you own and this causes more NPC Pirates to show up.  Does that make sense to anyone?  I'm being completely serious here when I say that it seems to be completely backwards from what I would expect to happen.  It got me thinking about what I would expect to happen and led me down an interesting path of game design theory.  And now, since no one asked, I'm going to present to you a number of solutions to various perceived problems all wrapped up in a cohesive bow.

Settling Nullsec Makes It Less Secure

First up, the idea that when you upgrade a system it begins producing 'rats in regular intervals is quite silly.  You would expect the exact opposite to happen as you tamed the lawlessness outside of Empire Space.  I suggest exactly that, after you've conquered an area of Nullsec and began Military Upgrades you should instead produce Friendly NPC Ships in your space that are absolutely worthless for your Alliance to destroy.

If You Build It, Blob Will Come

Another often sited design problem with Nullsec is the idea that no matter what you make the objective for conquering space, Alliances will simply bring all their ships to that point at the same time to destroy/capture/defend it in the most expedient manner possible.  CCP has already given us the solution to this problem with their most recent expansion; Incursion.  Do away with TCU/SBU points all together and instead introduce the Territorial Claim Progress Bar of Doom (OK, we're still working out some kinks in the naming scheme).  If the objective is no longer a single object, but instead dozens of smaller sites spread throughout an entire constellation, it no longer makes the blob feasible.  If you've ever taken part in a 500 man Fleet Op, you know that it's not exactly nimble.  Asking that many people to Warp around a dozen sites in each system wouldn't be the best use of your manpower, and would be better served by smaller forces splitting up to complete objectives more efficiently.

The Army Is The Least Of Your Worries

As someone who's actually participated in a real life war, I'll be the first to tell you that massive armies clashing and a victor being declared is only the beginning of the fight.  If we assume that Capsuleers aren't the only ones living in a region of Nullsec, then we can assume those people aren't going to take their space being conquered lightly.  It wouldn't be as simple as steamrolling over your opponents military force and deploying a TCU.  You'd have insurgent forces cropping up all over the place once you got there.  Remember all those NPC Ships your Military Upgrades spawned?  The good news is they'll help you defend your space when you're attacked.  I would envision conquering space no longer taking 18 hours and being accomplished over the course of a weekend, but instead something that you did over the course of the week.  If you wanted an area of space, you'd need to actually keep your military stationed there, conquering NPC sites that were constantly respawning and driving your TCPBoD (Again, need to work on that name) closer to completion.  Meanwhile, they'd be vulnerable to the Capsuleers who called that region home.  Hit and run tactics would become extremely viable as a means to drive out a conquering force.  Small Gang PvP would be alive and well.

Cailais had a post back in January that likened the current Nullsec warfare model to the first World War's attrition warfare model.  I couldn't agree more.  It's interesting to note that WWI games aren't exactly selling like hot cakes, while representations of the more dynamic, fast paced Modern Warfare model have broken sales records like no other.  Simulating such concepts as the Three Block War would provide gameplay that I would be very interested in.  Pushing leadership responsibilities down to Squad Commanders using 10 ships to hold onto each system in a region after attacking would give that Squad PvE to keep them busy and allow for the defending Alliance to conduct hit-and-run operations while trying to disrupt the occupation.  Keep in mind, those 10 ships might have 30 or 40 ships only a single jump away that they could call for support, so any enemy force would have to hit hard and fast, while disappearing just as quickly.

But I Like The Blob

Large fleet battles are enjoyable to some degree.  I will admit that it's really cool to see 500 ships fire in concert and utterly obliterate a target in a single volley...even if those volleys only come once every five minutes due to lag.  I don't think removing the need for a large military force combined with the ability to muster that force would be good for the game either.  I recommend instead that these Epic Battles remain in place as bookends to the TCPBoD.  Either being required to start the process, or to finish the process, or both.  They're also the best way for taking down an enemy POS, which is representative of attacking the military targets present.  It provides something for the large CTA on Saturday to be doing, and still gives a clear advantage for the Alliance that's capable of putting 800 ships on grid before the other guy.

Where'd All My ISK Go?

So what do Nullsec residents do for ISK without Pirates roaming all over their space?  They raid the other guys.  The best solution I can see for allowing players to cash in on blowing up ships in space while not allowing anyone to just Blue everyone around them is to make raiding the neighbors the most profitable activity.  Have blowing up another Alliance's NPC Ships produce ISK, either through some type of Alliance LP Store, Bounties, or Loot Drops, and you provide all the incentive for Nullsec PvP you'll ever need.  My hope would be that you end up with a system in which an Alliance's Military provides protection for their Industry, instead of their Industry existing only to pay for their Military.  The first is what we have in the real world, while the second is what exists in EVE today.

They Didn't Forget Us

Another interesting thing that came out of fanfest was the Lowsec Round Table.  Some short comments I'd make on it after reading Mandrill's blog post are as follows in no particular order.

1.  Sov Lowsec sounds like a bad idea.  As far as Corporations wanting to stake claims, I think they should, and I think that's what Wormholes are for.

2.  Lowered manufacturing costs are a good idea, but I say let the market/players decide.  Why not something similar to the way Corporation HQ costs are handled being used to increase costs over time in heavily used areas of Highsec, and underused areas of Lowsec would see lower costs.

3.  A pass for -10.0 players to enter Highsec is completely unnecessary.  I'm surprised no one mentioned this at the round table.  CCP Greyscale comments that having a mechanic requiring multiple accounts is less than ideal, but that's not what we have now.  You get three characters on an account, training to use a Bestower with Tech II Cargo Expanders can be done in less than 12 hours, no second accounts needed.  Is it inconvenient?  Yes.  Should having a -10.0 Sec Status be inconvenient?  Yes.

4.  Losing skillpoints when having a bounty collected would absolutely suck.  It would also be the single greatest deterrent to a new player ever taking up Piracy.  I had 2 million skillpoints the first time a bounty was placed on me, can you honestly say that taking any amount of those SP away from a new player would be healthy for the EVE playerbase?  I know EVE is a cruel place, but having a newly minted Pirate lose the ability to fly a Rifter after losing their pod goes too far.

5.  CCP mentions deployable sentries as a possible idea.  Ahem.  I seem to recall reading something about how making Lowsec safer would increase traffic there.

6.  CCP doesn't want to make Lowsec too lucrative, or it will attract large Alliances.  What's a commodity they could make unique to Lowsec that wouldn't be conducive to large groups rolling in to claim it?

We're Not In Empire Anymore Toto

That brings me to my next point, and something that's always bugged me.  Since I'm already throwing out my wild ideas, I figured this was as good a time as any to voice it.  In Nullsec, nothing you do can negatively impact your Security Status.  The reasoning behind this is simple enough, CONCORD's long arm of the law doesn't reach you there, so they don't care what you've been up to and don't judge you for all the Pod Kills you commit there.  Why then is your Security Status positively impacted for the things you do there?  Doesn't it stand to reason that CONCORD would offer no Security improvements or Bounties for killing 'rats outside of its jurisdiction?

As part of the overhaul for Sov Warfare I talked about, I recommend doing away with NPC Pirates in Nullsec completely, so where would you go to increase your Sec Status?  That's right, Lowsec.  If you wanted to get back in CONCORD's good graces you'd do so by actually completing a service for them, namely the removal of NPC Pirates from Empire Space.  CONCORD shouldn't care what you're doing in your own space, and thus wouldn't reward you for it.  Furthermore, operating in Pirate Controlled Nullsec should see you gaining a steady drop in Security Status as CONCORD begins to define you as associating with Pirates.  I'd also push for Highsec to give either none, or extremely limited Security Status gains, allowing for Lowsec to provide a valuable commodity to the EVE Player.  Obviously this benefits Lowsec Pirates by providing targets, but it also gives CCP a way to integrate having a Lowsec Only Commodity without it seeming completely arbitrary that it's there.  CONCORD gives out Security Status to anyone willing to help them in an area they don't have the manpower to patrol; Lowsec.

So Long, And Thanks For All The Flame

I wanted to give a hearty thanks to Bloggers like Keith Neilson who were able to attend fanfest and took time away from their activities to blog about it.  I wasn't there, and while I was able to watch some of the live stream (Chess Boxing was the greatest thing ever btw) I couldn't remain glued to my computer for four days straight.  It was great to be able to get caught up by someone who was actually attending.  In case anyone was wondering, the answer is, "Yes, I do read every EVE blog out there."  In fact, if you've written a blog about EVE, chances are I have looked at it.  If it was any good, I probably still read it.  If it was great, I've read every post you've made from the beginning.

You may also notice that the majority of this post is significantly more opinionated than usual.  Well, as I mentioned, I may toss things like this out there from time to time to drum up controversy, which leads to pageviews, which leads to discussion in the comments.  Don't view it as a complete change of pace for the Blog, but rather an occasional attempt at reaching a wider audience.




  1. There's a lot in this post, but I agree with much of what you've suggested. Perhaps you should email this to your chosen CSMs?

  2. Nice post. I like reading what others think and consider viewpoints not my own. No, we don't agree on some stuff, but that's the way the world works.

    I do want to mention a point about the NPC rats in 0.0. Yes, removing the bounties would force those who cared enough back to low-sec. But that logic must be consistent. Bounties on players (as broken as the current system is) would not be honored, either. Bounty hunters (are there any?) would be disadvantaged somewhat in areas like Curse.

    I did some story-line missions in low-sec that didn't pay jack. Tip the scale significantly to make low-sec missions lucrative, and joose pyrates will have more targets.