Monday, October 6, 2014

A Look Back To The Future Of Null Sec

Perhaps the single dev blog that influenced the way I play EVE Online was written by CCP Greyscale.  Published on 15 August 2011, "Nullsec Development: Design Goals" convinced me that CCP planned to nerf high sec and if I planned to play EVE for years instead of months, I needed to get out of high sec.  The following sentence got my full attention:
"Our current proposal is that hisec is for volume T1 goods, lowsec will be for meta/faction gear eventually, nullsec is for T2, and wormholes are for T3"
I knew I didn't want to go to null sec or live in a wormhole, so that meant moving to low sec, where I fly today.  The goals were not set in stone and were published over three years ago.  But I thought that with another CCP Greyscale dev blog, "Long-Distance Travel Changes Inbound," causing such a ruckus (and threadnaught) last week, that traveling back to the Summer of Rage might lend some insight on the rationale behind the contents of last week's dev blog.

The White Board From 2011
Before I continue, I want to stress one very important point.  The 2011 dev blog was not a concrete proposal and things changed.  For example, in the dev blog, CCP Greyscale included this statement:
"Nullsec should be the only place we're injecting (at least some of the) ices, zydrine, megacyte and morphite into the game. This ensures that nullsec mining retains a unique value proposition, and guarantees that mining time for these types is priced according the risk and effort involved in nullsec extraction."
As we know, in Kronos sites with arkonor began to appear in low sec, thus decreasing null sec's monopoly on megacyte.  But some things don't change, and since CCP Greyscale wrote the both the 2011 and 2014 dev blogs, I think we can see some of the thinking behind last week's announcements without having to ask a member of the Council of Stellar Management to violate the NDA agreement.

I know that a lot of people are upset with the reduction of the jump range for non-black ops ships down to a maximum of five light years.  But three years ago, CCP had the following thought about the rate of movement of ships:
"Bigger ships/fleets travel slower
  • As the amount of power your fleet can deploy increases, its mobility should decrease. Small, flimsy fleets should always maintain a mobility advantage over big, dangerous ones. This ensures that a wider range of fleet compositions and sizes remain valuable, catering to more preferences and playstyles. It also makes fleet composition more a case of selecting the right tools, and less of just dumping the whole toolbox onto the floor, encouraging players to innovate tactically and strategically."
Not only is CCP making trying to jump a fleet ahead of a fast moving gang difficult if not impossible, but counterproductive over distances exceeding 20 light years.  Also, if the logic from the 2011 dev blog holds true, don't expect capitals to receive any speed or alignment buffs either.

A lot of people are upset that the logistics for null sec will become much harder.  But looking at CCP Greyscale's words from 2011, that's kind of the point.  Let's look at some of the design goals published back then.
"Weak spot for big groups
  • Logistics should be a weakness for larger organizations of players. It should avoid being tedious, but it should remain a major point of concern as size increases, and be one of the primary drawbacks of growing beyond a certain size."
People want to limit the size of the big guys like the CFC and N3/PL?  Want to make room for small corps and alliances to get a foothold in sovereign null?  Looks like placing a natural cap on the size that depends on a group's tolerance for logistical pain is one of the ways to do that.
"Moving large volumes should be a group effort
  • High-volume shipments should be a special occasion, and as much as possible we should encourage them to be a group activity. These tend to be high-value shipments also, and bringing players together to appreciate and protect the value created, and put them in a position where they're likely to interact with other groups, is a positive thing."
"Wait a minute!," a lot of people will say.  "That's impossible."  Not if the industry changes that began in Crius are followed up by improvements in the resources null sec residents can extract in 2015.  And if the 2011 dev blog is any indication, that is probably in the cards:
"[Null sec industry] 99% self-sufficient by volume
  • For further discussion. People building things in nullsec should only need to travel to empire (or more than a couple of regions across nullsec) for low-volume supplies. This requires that industrialists have a ready supply of low-end minerals available nearby in nullsec, without breaking other systems or goals. (Likely means some way of mining low-ends in a massively more rapid manner compared to current tools.)"
 "Good reasons to trade
  • Any investable activity (ie, one where we want people to consider settling down and developing some space to do it) should have clear reasons and opportunities to trade with nearby nullsec regions to increase efficiency. This needs to be balanced with other mechanics such that simply conquering five regions is not the clearly optimal solution, while remaining a viable option."

Crazy talk, right?  Or is it?  Since reprocessing was capped at 55% with Crius, null sec industrialists have complained that high sec miners are not cooperating with their need to transport compressed ore.  The jump freighter changes will only exasperate the problem, giving null sec alliances a greater incentive to develop local resources.  In effect, the high sec miners' refusal to inconvenience themselves is helping CCP implement their plans for null sec.  That is, if the design goals from 2011 are still valid.

And I think those goals are still valid.  Here's a passage from CCP Greyscale's 2014 dev blog:
"Over the medium term, we see the potential for more substantial changes in the nullsec status quo as the various competing parties work to adjust their internal objectives to the new situation; it seems plausible that the general reduction in travel capabilities will lead to more localism, but we don't want to make any firm predictions in this area. We're confident that these changes improve the overall system of lowsec and nullsec gameplay and take them in better directions, but any set of changes that would allow us to accurately predict their consequences would by their nature be too simple to be interesting for very long."
Sounds familiar, doesn't it?

The possibility exists that everything I typed above is utter crap and the release of the CSM Summer Summit minutes on Halloween will prove I spent too much time mining this weekend.  But if I'm right about some of the reasoning, then maybe more people should bookmark CCP Greyscale's previous dev blogs.


  1. "Not only is CCP making trying to jump a fleet ahead of a fast moving gang difficult if not impossible, but counterproductive over distances exceeding 20 light years."

    Also over distances not exceeding 20 light years, such as those found in your own space. The fatigue implementation doesn't care if you make a couple five light year hops as the first few jumps to cross eve or as a few jumps moving around your space or even as jumps back and forth between two systems for industry, so it stacks up to make using your own infrastructure difficult, impractical, and unrewarding. The benefits from nerfing long range travel are clear, however, there has been no explanation anywhere as to what value impeding ones ability to use their own space has, what it hopes to achieve, or why it's even necessary when essentially everyone agrees the long range movement is the problem.

  2. Oh, and "high volume should be a special occasion"? These are words from someone unfamiliar with the volume of movement required by Tech I production.

    The talk of self sufficiency is a joke and the correct way to do it is to make it more worthwhile, not make a capital mining ship or something as that old blog seems to talk of. Mining being an option competitive with ratting goes a long way to solving the problem.

    "Settle down and improve ones space", likewise a bad joke given how the travel nerfs affect the short range travel. If we had multiple outposts per system that'd be another matter, but we don't yet and I imagine we won't for quite some time.

  3. So, CCP is betting everything on nullsec subscribers...

  4. Claiming that dev CCP Greyscale is unfamiliar with any part of EvE that he works on is a bold claim indeed.
    I think that anything that he has posted can be argued on its merits, and you clearly disagree with him. That's fine. But I don't think you've convinced anyone--in fact, really tried to convince anyone--that CCP Greyscale isn't familiar with a particular aspect of EvE. That's a whole other level.
    Good luck with that.

  5. "People want to limit the size of the big guys like the CFC and N3/PL? Want to make room for small corps and alliances to get a foothold in sovereign null? Looks like placing a natural cap on the size that depends on a group's tolerance for logistical pain is one of the ways to do that."

    Will this really be a limit though? Seems to me that smaller groups will be more affected by this. The larger the group, the more organised and spread out logistics can be, so it's unlikely to affect our logistics all that much. A smaller group though with one or two JF pilots, they will be heavily restricted in how far and how often they can move. Black frog are talking about restrictions on where they can move to in null and large increases in prices if they even run at all, so all of those groups relying on contracted logistics are really going to feel it.

  6. Why is it a joke? ASCN and BoB were both self sufficient as soon as exodus kicked off. Cyvok controlled a fast balanced empire of pvp and industrialist and made it seem effortless. They built the first outpost, as well as the first titan. They did all tat with null sec resources. And defended and took more for there empire with subcaps then with caps. Null can easily be self sufficient, with a vew simple changes to the ores in null. And by making moon mining active, not passive acitivites.

  7. The threadnaught is mostly tears. As one person posted:

    "Looks like null sec has proved conclusively that we can out-whine the whiniest high sec carebears. How disillusioning. What happened to HTFU and 'adapt or die'?"

    I see this change to be good for the game. Past experience has shown that any proposed change, which does not generate a lot of tears from the nullbears, probably won't have any effect on breaking the stagnation of null.

  8. I can not see this producing change. Why, because those players vested in Null have already gone there and made a mark. We can look at industry patches to see just how much the player base elected migration.

    As for the existing coalitions? It will remain a Cold War. Any tactic which one side deploys today, will be used by their opponents tomorrow. If there is one thing which the game has too much of is information.

    Shrinking the distance cuts both ways. To be able to attack and defend. Only now there is an solid excuse for the blue donut. "our enemies are now out of reach so we made them allies". Instead of "you must be still tall to ride" - "you must be this close to attack".

    CCP have actually written that the powers of null have won the game. In any other game; the deck is shuffled, the board cleared of pieces.

    Nuke from orbit, the only way to be sure. Well, I'll accept a reset.

  9. High sec miners are not cooperating and producing compressed ores? What about nullsec alliances make it attractive to actually go live in null sec and mine there?
    Perhaps if they didn't demand half my available playing time to click pap links for worthless goodfites or didn't ask all these taxes.

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  11. To be fair though, no changes with or without tears have yet to break the stagnation of null. That said, I'm really not sure where the tears are coming from, since most of us will be pretty well off once the changes hit.

  12. Standard industrials simply don't have the volume to shift what even a small null group would need. The likelihood is that what CCP are aiming for the the old days of guarded freighter runs, but times are different now, and those are likely to see a lot of losses. So the effective way for the larger groups to do it are JF chains. Since each JF can jump like once every 6 mins (something like that) with no fatigue if they wait, you just jump to a system, move it to another pilot, jump to the next, rinse repeat.

    As long as you aren't trying to jump one pilot multiple times quickly, you can just avoid the fatigue. Smaller groups won't be able to afford it or create safe wait points into deep null, so basically smaller groups are restricted to the edges of null at best while the larger groups are fortified in dep bull.

  13. I don't know, but I think what we define as a small and large group is going to drop in numbers drastically because of these and future changes. I also think the size of ships in engagements will plummet. A month or so ago I restocked my RvB frigate and destroyer character for the next several months of play. I moved about 80 ships and modules for them in with 4-5 industrial runs.

    And yeah, frigates and destroyers don't see a lot of play in current nullsec at a block level, but mobility has been destroyed in the last few months. First with changes to warp speed, and now this. CCP has pretty much stated they have a mandate to bring small alliances back into nullsec, and to do that I don't think they're at all done with the nerf bat to current coalition level gameplay.

    If, and it's a big if, that comes to pass, it means more movement of ships around null because in day to day life mobility should trump massed large scale firepower except when going to an actual invasion style war. So, if, CCP can pull off shattering current block gameplay, and bringing small alliances back... Then yeah. Industrials can move enough tonnage to keep small alliances going.

    It's a whole lot of ifs and conjectures I have there... With a lot of armchair generaling... But, it is based at least somewhat on statements different statements CCP has made over the years.

  14. Why would they drop in numbers? With the new changes, the more people you have to spread your logistics over the better. I'd be surprised if you didn't see most serious alliances grow through influx of new logi wings and alts. The only groups small enough to do all of their logi with small industrials won't be big enough to live in null.

    And sure, you moved frigates and destroyers in standard industrials, but they are tiny. A JF can approx take 140 frigates, or 70 destroyers, or 7 battleships. And where did you move them? High sec? No way are you going to do the same though 30 nullsec systems. The JF change just means we need to chain JFs and that's what's going to happen. The reason the effect on JFs is underwhelmigs is because it's designed to be. They want to hit combat ship jumping with this change, not logistics.

    Don't kid yourself about these changes, they won't shatter the current block gameplay, they'll push the blocks into avoiding war with each other even more, squeeze the life out of small null alliances and make most of the deep null space exclusively available to groups with huge logistics divisions.

  15. Because I don't think this is the end of it. I think when they get around to actually revamping sov next year and give the blocks the 'Occupancy Sov' they are asking for and the devs currently say they are leaning toward, that it'll come in a form setup to shatter coalition gameplay. A case of, "careful what you wish for". Otherwise redoing sov just doesn't make sense. What's the point of taking the time to rewrite the system if it doesnt fix the current pain points. The big blue donut.

    As I said before, its conjecture. But its conjecture based on reading what CCP has said. Which I really could be hopefully misinterpreting as I want. But I don't think I am.

  16. Compressed Ore is in fact a new market meta. Consider that in real life it is possible to organise trade sanctions. (such as embargo on arms trades to South Africa during apartheid).

    This can not work in Eve, even if I could set an order which can not be purchased by a particular corporation or alliance; anybody can just make an alt and still buy what I am selling. But now I have the ability to select that I do not want to sell ores to Goons. Which I can by refining and selling minerals. Eve apartheid = hulkageddon, ice interdiction and new order.

  17. "null sec industrialists have complained that high sec miners are not cooperating with their need to transport compressed ore"

    Most of the players who were actually doing ore compression in high sec were casual industrialists, many of whom have stopped playing EVE since the industry changes - incl. the nerf to reprocessing - were first announced. The high sec miners themselves have never had any interest in doing anything more than mining and sellling their ore, uncompressed.

    Null will just need to do their own compression, or local mining in null, in order to take up the slack left by departing casual players. Null wanted to be more self-sufficient and they didn't seem to have a problem with these casual players leaving the game, so I don't see why they are complaining about the results.

  18. True, once they get around to doing the rest, perhaps the situation will change. Of all the ideas put forward though, even the occupancy sov ones, I don't see the blue donut being changed though. Ask yourself, what can you possibly do to mean that working with lots of other people is not beneficial over working with just a few? Whatever changes they put in place, I imagine it will always be beneficial to form into the largest group possible and target the smallest groups for content.

    And even if occupancy sov works as CCP intends it (I have my doubts), these jump changes are still going to cripple any small group tying to move into anywhere but the outskirts of null. I think what they want to achieve is impossible without players mindsets being changed, which CCP do not control.