Friday, July 5, 2019

Delayed Local In Null, Is The Removal Of Asset Safety Next?

I think I've gotten to the point with EVE Online I need to cover every video published by CCP, as well as every lore article. Why? Because CCP is not going to come right out and tell players what will happen in the future. In fact, for the Invasion expansion and follow-up patches, CCP isn't even pushing the content to the Singularity test shard for player feedback. In order to keep track of future developments, I need to become a lore hound.

Today, CCP came out and announced null security space will move to a delayed local, just like wormhole space. From CCP Falcon on the forums:
As reported in The Scope, over the coming days we’ll be changing the way local chat works.

This change will affect the whole of nullsec space.

Local chat in all nullsec space will be switched over to delayed mode. This means that it will behave as local chat in wormhole space, with pilots only appearing in the local population listing should they choose to post messages.

Obviously, this will cause a substantial change to the dynamics of nullsec, so we want to inform the community before we begin.

The duration of this blackout is undetermined, and we’ll be monitoring what effect this has on the cluster.

We will give at least 48 hours of notice before initiating the blackout so pilots can make the necessary preparations.

If you’d like to discuss this announcement, feel free to do so in this thread.
Let's look at the last two Scope videos. On 28 June, two days after the Drifters began their assault on the null sec blocs, CCP posted the first video, "Drifter Invasion".

Here are the important points delivered by news reader Alton Haveri:
  • Drifters attacking throughout null sec
  • At least 70 systems attacked by Drifters
  • Drifter fleets number from 10 to 25 ships
  • Drifters turned attention to low-powered and vulnerable structures
  • Number of citadels attack number in dozens, perhaps hundreds
  • How long the attack will continue is unknown
I also found a quote from the end of the video a bit telling. "The news from null sec regions is a disturbing reminder of the threat posed by the Drifter Menace." I think CCP wanted to remind players New Eden contains a lot of bad guys, not just the Triglavians, the newest faction on the block.

As is normal for CCP, the developers also imbed important information in the news scroll along the bottom of the video. Sometimes, the information scrolling by is more important, if not more entertaining, than the news report. For the "Drifter Invasion" video, here are the news items displayed to the sharp-eyed capsuleer.

  • Drifter strike forces attacking capsuleers in outer regions
  • Triglavian invasion ongoing in core empires
  • Fluid router security under scrutiny from SCC
  • Upwell structures sieged by heavy Drifter assault
  • CONCORD monitoring Drifter situation but DED focused on Triglavian invasion
  • Outer Ring and Syndicate alarm causes slowdown in mining and trading operations
  • InterBus reviewing border transport services
  • Ammatar Mandate forces resisting Triglavian attacks
  • DED listening post reports Drifter forces roaming nullsec at will
  • President Jacus Roden Places Luminaire defense fleet on high alert 
  • Caldari Navy Mobilizes reserves in Kantanen constellation

Of the news items, two stood out as having some bearing on possible mechanics changes. The first was the story about the Secure Commerce Commission scrutinizing the security of the fluid router network. The SCC is charged with maintaining with overseeing interstellar commerce. I'll give a description of the SCC that might explain why watching the actions of the organization is probably a good idea.
But once constellations and other regions started to set up a regional market network, where traders were able to view everything for sale anywhere in the region and put their own items up for sale, there arose the need for a centralized agency responsible for inter-stellar commerce. This is where the SCC - Secure Commerce Committee - came into being. As a division within the CONCORD the SCC is jointly run by the empires and thus ensures a safe and universally regulated trade environment. A joint initiative of the Minmatar Republic and the Jovian Empire have also ensured that the SCC, although under the control of the empires through the CONCORD, acts under the strictest neutrality codes, the same as the InterBus and other empire-run institutions. This is to ensure that all dealings are not only secure, but also secret, with no chance of governmental interference. The unfortunate by-product of this is that those acting on the wrong side of the law can just as easily do business with each other as anyone else.
Now, I would wager most EVE players don't know what a fluid router is. Here is an explanation from the Chronicle about Faster-Than-Light (FTL) communications in New Eden:
The result of that rush is the familiar Fluid router, which forms the building block of universal communication as we know it today. Ignoring the mathematical intricacies, the architecture of these routers is deceivingly simple. The first step of their manufacturing is the creation of the entangled quantum states. This is done by using superfluid 4-Helium, where essentially all the Helium atoms are entangled in a single quantum state due to Bose condensation. A droplet of such liquid 4-Helium is then carefully separated in two. From this point, the two droplets, and more specifically the Helium atoms in the droplets are intrinsically tangled. Each droplet is then placed in separate router box, that contain necessary mechanism to encode and decode bytestream into quantum state measurements performed on the atoms of the droplet. From that point on, these two routers are linked together, regardless of their separation. Thus a spaceship will usually buy a router pair from a network provider. One box will be placed in the spaceship, while the other one kept in the network provider’s backbone, that will have connections to other routers, thus effectively forming a decentralized network, where messages can be routed across many routers and many providers. This architecture is similarly to the ancient Internet.

The only limitations of this communication system is in the capacity of the channel. Indeed, the manufacturing of the entangled 4-He superfluid is an expensive process. Furthermore, a large number of atoms are used for each byte, as a statistically relevant chaotic sequence needs to be created. The sequencing introduces a limit to the bandwidth, allowing only the transmission of x bytes/second. The amount of data sent then depletes the pool of available entangled atoms, thus limiting the total amount of data that can be sent with a given router pair.
Players more commonly refer to the network as local. At this point, all players not living in a wormhole should have sat up straight in their chairs.

The second bit of news concerns InterBus reviewing its border transport service. According to the Chronicles:
The InterBus may be child of its time but it still serves a vital role - that is to link even the smallest and most remote stations into their vast network. As stated in InterBus’ charter:

"...Interbus must offer service to all stations, placed in solar-systems that have a stargate leading to a solar-system that is a part of the program. Exempt to this rule are systems that exceed a graph distance of 13 jumps from the Interbus headquarters..."

...The InterBus system, spanning almost the whole of the known world, is both a cheap, reliable transportation method for those without access to other space ships and a safety net for all space travelers that get in trouble - many careless explorers or unlucky merchants would never have made it home if it weren’t for the service of the InterBus.
My understanding is that the neutrality that InterBus enjoys allows the NPC corporation to act as the transportation company involved in asset safety for Upwell Structures. Know who doesn't respect the norms of New Eden society? Drifters. If InterBus cannot operate in a region, or security band, then neither can asset safety.

Now, let's review the new Scope video, "Nullsec Blackout".

The highlights from news reader Lina Ambre were:

  • After a lull, another wave of Drifter attacks is forming
  • SCC announced the fluid router FTL communications network is under enormous pressure due to the combined impact of the Triglavian and Drifter invasions
  • SCC to enforce reduced bandwidth across its null sec routers
  • First major Drifter offensive since the attacks on the Amarr Empire 4 years ago
  • In the new wave of attacks, the Drifters seem more focused on hunting down and destroying individual pilots
  • Drifters will always pod capsuleers if possible
  • The attacks have created considerable confusion and concern among the null sec power blocs
  • If attacks continue at current pace, the SCC's network will not be able to continue full service after another week or so

The big news, delayed local, dropped. But the second layer of news, the news scroll, still held information.

  • Drifter invasion forces patrolling widely across nullsec regions
  • Alliance leaders confirm multiple NIPs as forces return for home defense
  • Triglavian World Arks continue to invade high security systems
  • Death toll from Drifter attacks in nullsec estimated to reach into eleven-digit numbers
  • Anger flares among nullsec leaders after initial Drifter assaults
  • SCC announces bandwidth limits on nullsec fluid router network
  • Organized capsuleer counter-Drifter fleets report successes
  • InterBus refuses to comment on results of border transport services review
  • Caldari Navy reportedly monitoring but not responding to Guristas fleets
  • Blood Raider fleets continue to be sighted in Ammatar Mandate
  • Conflict in nullsec stalls as coalition fleets pull back to face off against Drifter threat
  • AEGIS report outlines limited casualties from Triglavian raids on planets
  • Capsuleer losses continue to mount as Drifters raid mining fleets
  • True Creations raiding parties reported in Semiki system
  • Lai Dai Protection Service forces landing on Intaki V as mercenary conflict develops
  • Analysts claim Drifter forces have shifted focus away from structures
  • Caille Rogue Drone Cultural Exchange Society offices firebombed
  • CONCORD says priority remains the security of core regions

The big news that stuck out was the refusal of InterBus to release the results of its border transport services review. I wouldn't expect CCP to announce both the change to local and a change to asset safety on the same day. But in my opinion, I think the odds of a change to asset safety just went up.

The second news article that caught my eye was the sighting of True Creations, a member of Sansha's Nation, in Semiki. The system is an integral part of a story line that has seen Drifter attacks against the player-owned structures of the Arataka Research Consortium. ARC, for those who are not aware, is the player group behind the popular Discorse video series. In February, ARC posted the video below.

I saw reports yesterday that ARC and allied forces were attacked not just by Sansha's Nation forces, but Triglavians and Drifters as well. Is this a precursor to an increase in Sansha's Nation activity, as Sansha Kuvakei is a man hated by both Drifters and Triglavians? I have speculated that the Invasion activity is due to find its way into low sec. Will that take the form of Sansha's Nation appearing even outside of their incursions into New Eden?

I have the feeling the story is ramping up to a crescendo that will break upon New Eden on 13 August, the date of the next major patch. I also think the answers of what CCP plans for the players is right in front of us. We just need to pay attention to what they tell us.

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