This entry has been written from an ‘out of character’ perspective to discuss the relationship between wealth and conflict in EVE.
A topic that I think has been an issue for some time crops up in a couple of places when reading the CSM minutes. ISK. Or more precisely, the amount of it in the game. The debate will of course be over if the answer to that is ‘yes’, or over who has it, and ultimately over where it comes from. So how much ISK is too much, and why is it a problem?
In the Null Sec section of the minutes (page 83), there is this quote concerning the perception of null sec conflict stagnation. The common argument is that EVE needs more/better/new conflict drivers, or to otherwise tackle the issues that may be reducing the types of conflict that make EVE compelling.
Two step raised the issue that the massive amount of money in the game has taken a lot of the meaning out of losses, with players less inclined to defend assets or get mad and take revenge for losing them.
Two step: “It used to be the case in null sec that you’d have a giant battle, it would hurt, and it would mean you’re mad at the other guys and want to take revenge. Now it’s like ‘meh I lost my battle cruiser and who cares?’ The money stuff needs to get looked at. If that means lowering income across the board…”
After this, Soundwave said the T-word and this led into a discussion about Technetium.
Two step was quick to point out that Tech isn’t actually creating any ISK and went on to state that half a trillion ISK comes into the economy every day, and for every 2 trillion coming in only 1 trillion is going out. He believes the many faucets this is coming from should be cut back across the board.
Soundwave: “I can, with virtual certainty, say that this December we’re going do something about cap and supercap presence in anomalies. That is the biggest faucet we have right now.”
Seleene thought that was cool.
Two step reiterated the other faucets should be considered.
I put the bit about ISK entering leaving the economy in bold. I don’t know what Two Step’s source is for those numbers, but I’d guess he got it from a presentation made by CCP about the economy somewhere. If accurate though, its an interesting number.
So let us assume that the numbers are correct and that half of all ISK entering the economy ultimately piles up in someone’s wallet. EVE is now approaching its tenth anniversary, which is a long time for players to accumulate wealth. Some players are very good at it while others not so much. But I do start to wonder if there is a problem developing where the average player is becoming gradually more affluent to the point where there is ‘game-breaking’ wealth on hand.
EVE is at its beast when losses mean something, the more insulated we all become against the loss of assets, the less meaningful victory and defeat becomes. The less you care, the less you fight. Consider this next quote.
Ytterbium wanted to hear some reasons why null sec was viewed as so dead.
Greene Lee piped up that 0.0 players, some of the oldest players in the game, are suffering from a lack of motivation to take action; trading super capitals is not fun or needed, if an alliance loses space it can just wait and take it back later. He raised the issue of remote reps on super carriers as one factor making supercap combat “not fun. You have 50 super carriers, and you can do nothing.”
Elise Randolph: “You bring titans and you volley through them. It doesn’t matter how many reps you have if you have titans.”
Greene Lee: “You need how many titans?”
Seleene/Elise: “16, 16-17 to go through an Aeon. Not a lot.”
Seventeen titans is ‘not a lot’ of Titans these days. This attitude doesn’t shock me at all, but I do think it is telling. Super capital proliferation has long been an issue, as is the wealth generation enabling it. Once upon a time, I remember the first few Titan’s being a huge deal. They were hugely expensive and building them was a major undertaking. Now 17 in one place, in one fleet, is ‘unremarkable’.
I absolutely agree that supercaps should be removed from ratting, ridiculous amounts can be earned with them enabling the already wealthy to get richer still at a greatly accelerated rate. Likewise, ratting carriers were brought up as being a major ISK faucet, one that needed addressing in some way, perhaps through more warp scrambling rats to increase vulnerability.
Something else that has devalued considerably over the years in Outposts; player built stations. Back when they were first implemented construction was hard and 25 billion ISK (or so) was a major amount to raise. Later, Jump freighters were added, as were jump bridges, making the logistics much easier. And players got richer, making that 25billion increasingly achievable even as a solo project. Outposts are all over null sec now.
Another topic raised in the Null Sec discussion was Outpost destruction. For a long time players have requested the ability to destroy or ‘wreck’ Outposts to remove or disable them from use. The point was raised that an Outpost is the only player built thing in EVE that cannot be destroyed. This links back in to one of those earlier quotes.
Greene Lee piped up that 0.0 players, some of the oldest players in the game, are suffering from a lack of motivation to take action; trading super capitals is not fun or needed, if an alliance loses space it can just wait and take it back later.
This is an important point. If you lose access to an Outpost, your stuff inside of it remains safe and yours; you just can’t get to it. You can still sell it remotely though, or come back for it later when the situation changes. Alliances, or individuals, can just bide their time and counter attack later on when the conditions are more favourable.
What if the Outpost could be destroyed? With your stuff still inside? What if everyone who had left stuff behind were risking losing it all when their space falls? Wouldn’t you fight harder, wouldn’t you care more knowing that you can’t just come back later?
Maybe you would, maybe you wouldn’t. But there is a certainty to that outcome. The destruction of the station and its contents represents the destruction of wealth. Once gone those assets cannot be liquidated in a fire-sale to soften the blow of defeat, or left in storage for a later return. Wealth and material is removed from the system creating a need to replace it.
There would be one less Outpost in EVE, changing the world and increasing the value of all the stations around it. That sounds like a conflict driver to me.
On a final note, this comes from page 142 of the minutes:
CCP Affinity said that CCP is currently trying to map out all the income sources in the game to better understand exactly how much people are making in all the different way people make ISK in PvE.
That should be very interesting to hear more about. Hopefully it will result in a much better balance of income in the game, allowing CCP to better manage ISK faucets and sinks in future.