Hi sec – not killing null

This entry has been written from an ‘out of character’ perspective in rebuttal to the assertion that high sec is killing EVE. Or something.

First off, I haven’t been playing that much EVE in past week or so due to doing family stuff and what not, so sorry for the gap since last entry.  Now, to the topic of the day.

Poetic Stanziel is one of the bloggers in my regular reading rotation, like many others seem to I find he posts some interesting stuff and quite often stuff I really don’t agree with.  But hey, its good to hear a different perspective to your own.  I find that Poetic goes through phases where he hammers away at a particular topic for awhile before moving on to something else (EVE University, CSM voting reform, Susan Black/Late Nite Alliance…).  The current mini-obsession is high sec, and he has been lingering awhile longer than usual on this over the course of Inferno/Retribution with barge changes/crimewatch 2.0 and so forth.

Interestingly, he has two view points on the subject of high sec safety.  New players must be protected, but everyone else has it too damned easy.  Rewards are high, risk while already low is being systematically eliminated by CCP pandering to the carebears.  If you haven’t already go read for yourself here and here, they aren’t too long.  I’m mostly responding to the second part, and will probably expend more words in the process. 😉

So, 2003-2007 were (allegedly) the golden age of EVE’s ‘ecosystem’ and null sec.  Poetic wasn’t there himself, but I was.  I was also a null sec dweller for most of that period and for years after too.  Now, I agree that null sec is lacking at least some of the excitement it had back then, if you are a regular reader you will already know that I decided to opt out of null sec last summer and have returned to being a low-sec guy.  But I’m not back in empire because I can make more ISK there, and I don’t blame the state of null sec on high sec being ‘too safe’ or even more lucrative than it used to be.  I think that high sec has always been a little too lucrative, by how much fluctuates as the game evolves.  The important point is that this is nothing new.

I do not buy in to the idea that Crimewatch 2.0 has made high sec significantly safer than it was before, or that the mining barge buff turns anyone off null sec mining (tougher barges are a boost to all miners).  But combine them with all the other little changes and it adds up to….  Well, I still don’t think that high sec is significantly safer now than it was in 2003-2007.  Yes barges are tougher now, but we also have more effective ganking ships (the Tornado).  Sure can flipping is dead, but there is always another scam to be discovered (the new dueling mechanic for example).  If someone really wants to suicide gank you, they still can.

There is an argument I do buy in to – you can make more ISK in high sec now than you could previously, I’m thinking of Incursions as a high-level gameplay example there.  It is content that even post-nerf provides a very respectable ISK per hour payout that attracts experienced players flying top-end ships.  There is also Planetary Interaction which probably doesn’t do enough to encourage players to take a bit more risk by venturing into low sec, but does provide an extra income source (but is much more profitable in null…).

On the other hand however, since 2007 null sec has gained anomalies which provide a constant, predictable and lucrative source of ratting bounties, far greater than belt ratting ever did.  The problem here for roamers is that anom ratters often work in groups while belt ratting was a solo activity.  But hey, there’s change all over and the pendulum has swung both ways over the years.

So, let’s assume that 2007 marked the end of the golden age for null sec and the beginning of a player shift towards high sec – why might that be?  There are a number of factors and frankly few of them are much to do with high sec itself.

In December 2005, we had the Red Moon Rising expansion which added Carriers, Motherships (now Super Carriers) and Titans (Dreads & Freighters were in the previous expansion).  By the following November, and my first Fanfest, numbers of capital ships were rising quickly but there were still only a handful of Titans out there.  Band of Brothers were at war with Ascendent Frontier and trying to kill the other side’s Titan.  I sat on a rountable which discussed CCP’s new idea for these things called Jump Bridges they wanted to put in.  There was less than 15 people at that table and a bunch of us expressed our doubts.

By the end of 2007 (as I recall) Jump Bridges were a thing and springing up everywhere.  Titans were also getting increasingly common.  At some point Jump Freighters turned up.  The sov system was changed to add invulnerable ‘Capital’ systems at which point super capital proliferation went through the roof as hundreds of the things were being built in almost total safety.  Why do I keep talking about Jump Bridges, Jump Freighters and Titans you may be asking?

Back in the ancient mists of time, in a Providence region that had no stations whatsoever, two rolplaying alliances built one each.  CVA were first, and soon after Ushra’Khan built Unity Station in 9UY4-H.  I was quite heavily involved in making that happen and we did it in a time before Jump Bridges or Jump Freighters, and without a Titan to help move all the minerals.  We used POS corp hangers and stock-piled the minerals and materials over a period of days and weeks.  We flew T1 industrials (there was no T2 version) back and forth repeatedly until we finally got it all together.  Today, a single player (plus a couple of cyno alts) can achieve the same in a fraction of the time with much less risk.  Bridges, JF’s and Titans make mass-importation of goods from high sec staggeringly easy compared to how it used to be.

When it is that difficult to move materials between high sec and null, it becomes far more preferable to acquire the resources locally, and that means people mining in null sec.  I put it to you, dear reader; the reason why most of the mining happens in high sec has more to do with the fact that the market is found in high sec.  Why pay a premium for Tritanium to null sec miners if you can get bulk discount prices by shipping it in from hi sec?  Why buy more expensive, locally produced, mods in null if you can bring it in from high sec for less?  Why then would you mine or build stuff in null if no-one is going to buy it in any quantity?

The safety of high sec is not the issue afflicting null sec industry.  The ease of shopping there is.  Unfortunately, CCP are in a tight spot when addressing this issue as any move to nerf (let alone remove) jump bridges or capital ship logistics is seen as an attack on player convenience and is therefore (understandably) resisted.  Good luck with that one CCP. 😉

But there are, of course, more reasons than mere ISK or ample market stocking in play.  Since 2007 null sec politics have become increasingly power bloc centric, alliances have become larger and the little guys increasingly find it tougher to break into null sec without shackling themselves to an existing super power.  The meta game is well advanced and has in the past couple of years at least been dominated by Goonswarm, their CFC powerbase and more recently their best friends forever and not-so-little-brother the HBC (point of interest, the DRF coalition has been defunct over a year now, what real threat has the CFC faced since?).  The player politics of null sec have become increasingly stagnant and uninspiring.  Null sec needs a damned good war and a fracturing of the existing blocs.

I learned an interesting little fact the other week from CCP Guard at the London meet.  There are more players on trial accounts now than at any other time in EVE’s decade long history.  There was a massive spike in sign ups (and conversions to subscriptions) following the Battle of Asakai (Goons derped a Titan into low sec, shit got real and all the things exploded).  It is conflict that drives interest in EVE and big things going boom does wonders for the game, I introduced two new players to EVE on the back of that battle.

What drove the carnage at Asakai?  Goons and PL tried really hard to kill each other’s super capital fleet against the backdrop of a recent will-they won’t-they build up to a war that wasn’t.  Had that war happened, had that comfortable yet dull status quo shattered, we would all be watching or directly involved in the sort of widespread warfare and uncertainity that characterised those years of nostalgia.  Null sec does not need to be made more lucrative to draw players in, it needs to be made more interesting.

That will not be achieved by making hi sec less safe, I believe that will only end up harming the newer players and annoying the rest.  But perhaps it could be achieved by returning some of the challenge, diversity and uncertainity to null sec.

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14 Responses to Hi sec – not killing null

  1. Netali says:

    High sec needs nerfed it’s far to easy to make isk there with zero risk.

    2 Easy fixes

    Removed level 4’s and place them into low sec.

    Prevent players leaving war dec’d corps and do not allow seasoned players to enter NPC corps.

    • Ouo says:

      This is a very poorly thought out answer and I feel is just parroting other poor answers found elsewhere.

      Move lvl4’s to lowsec? Ok, carebears run lvl3’s instead. Blitzing lvl3’s can easily make 95% of the isk of lvl4’s via loyalty points already.

      Don’t allow seasoned players to enter npc corps? Wut. So seasoned players can only jump ship from from entity to another? This makes no sense at all, is overly restricting in a “sandbox” game, and I see no benefit whatsoever(ever heard of holding corps)?

    • Raziel Walker says:

      They removed level 5’s and placed those in low sec. Any idea how many players left high and moved to low because of that?
      Any player should be able to leave a wardecced corp. Why would you want to stay in RvB forever? Why stay in the corp you infiltrated, stole assets from and awoxed the players of? (Not to say I condone those actions).
      Null (and low) don’t need buffs and highsec doesn’t need a nerf regarding income. I think it’s mostly about how risk averse (high sec) players are.

      • Ouo says:

        ^^ All of this. I feel most people miss the fact that the current issue with eve is NOT because of any 1-2 localized mechanics. That’s short-sighted and naive. The issue lies with the overall attitude of current groups in eve(highsec vs nullsec, carebears vs pvpers, etc.).

    • Ugleb says:

      If you prevent players from going into npc corps, what happens if a ceo kicks them? We would likely see loads of 1 man corps and I don’t know if that improves much really.

  2. Ouo says:

    Hmm, off-the-cuff idea: why not severely limit cyno range in lowsec and restrict supercarriers and titans to null only? Forcing freighters/JF’s to move through even a single lowsec gate conventionally while importing goods allows a point of vulnerability and an opportunity for conflict while removing supers allows lowsec entities to escalate fights significantly more(atm escalating to caps at all in lowsec means a null entity will show up with supers, which no lowsec entity can match). End result being to spice up lowsec and force null entities to either go through more hassle and risk to import from high OR to become more self sufficient in null. This may be a horrible idea, but it’s a thought.

    • Ugleb says:

      Forcing JF’s to travel conventionally through low sec would provoke a hilarious amount of forum rage and some pretty juicy kills I reckon. Think CCP are feeling that bold? 😉

  3. Mme. Thalys says:

    I hear similar sentiments from other old players. I know someone personally who played EVE since 2005 and has been in nullsec most of that time. He effectively stopped playing when the CFC/HBC steamroller happened last year. He says it’s mostly boring now.

    While I don’t agree with him on all points, he has often said many things that you are saying too. Among them the thing with the jump bridges. The voices for a change to nullsec are becoming louder recently. Maybe we will see a change soon.

    Maybe even in the coming summer?

    • Ugleb says:

      At the moment I suspect Summer might be themed around Piracy/low sec, but there isn’t much hard info yet oviously. CCP do need to start asking (and formulating answers to) some pretty fundamental questions about null sec, and I think logistics may prove to be the crux of it. Also, super cap proliferation, of course. 😉

  4. Urik Kahn says:

    I know sov mechanics should probably be overhauled, ok. But at the end of the day, EvE is a sandbox; so if you are not having fun (null sec folks!) in the sandbox, it is probably because YOU are not doing FUN things! Look in the mirror, guys!
    These mega powerblock coallitions don’t form themselves! People, CEOs and directors, are making agreements to ensure safety and prosperity at the expense of fun. Quit blue-ing every other alliance in null sec! Quit adding more alliances to your coalitions! Back stab your allies! Players make the content, especially in NULL. Players are making crap content that is not fun and their followers are crying that they aren’t having fun! It isn’t really up to CCP to fix that. PLAY THE GAME!

    I do think the ease of 0.0 logistics compaired to the old days has really made a difference in boring 0.0 life. I remember the days of small alliances doing freighter operations to move goods 10 and 20 jumps into 0.0 to their base of operations. Maybe it is too easy now, and that has taken some of the day to day fun out of things. But I still think that the biggest problem is NULL sec alliances getting too big and making almost everyone friends. If coalitions did not exist (no game mechanic for them anyway) perhaps some of those alliances would actually fight one another.

    • Ugleb says:

      It would be great to see alliances returning to running Freighter escort ops with fights breaking out around them. That was something brought up in the winter CSM minutes I think.

  5. Urik Kahn says:

    I’ll say more.

    Really, I don’t see any reason to nerf high sec, either. If people want to play mission runner online and build up isk and be safe (mostly), then that is their choice. If you like risk and want to fight other players, there is a place for you to do that. Adding ‘features’ that allow people to force pvp on carebears is a silly idea. The whole idea of a sandbox game is that players can find things they want to do. A sandbox should not funnel people into doing specific things.

    Yeah, the issue is how risk averse many players are. But dosen’t it make sense? Losses in EvE are real in the sense that it takes real time and effort to replace anything lost. So some people don’t want to risk their assets, their time. Fine. I don’t mind getting ships blown up, but some people do. And even I won’t go running into obvious clearly hopless engagements just to lose a ship like someone might do in another mmo where losses are not ‘real’.

    I think the full, big picture problem, is with people – just like it usually is. Why do EvE players constatly assume that their own chosen play style is the best style and should have all the best benefits? So you live in NULL sec? Big deal. Why nerf the other play style? Why do we need to cater to your style? Why does where you live have to pay the best? Yeah, risk averseness is an issue, but the bigger issue is arogance and selfishness. What we need to do away with is the idea that your version of playing EvE is better/more important/more valuble than someone elses.

    It’s like everyone arguing about the game is actually playing ‘maximum isk/hour’ online and if their chosen method of making isk/hour is not the best, they whine and complain and try to get CCP to change the sandbox around to favor them. Get over yourselves, people! Allow others to have fun in different ways than you and don’t keep thinking that any way but yours should be obviously inferior by game design.

    And you know what? I think this is exactly why EvE is a great game. The problems in EvE are much like real life problems. People are risd averse in their real lives; far too often, really. People want more money, more rewards for whatever it is they are doing. And more people would be happy in real life, as in EvE, if they would just stop compairing everthing they do and get to what they see other people doing and getting, and just DO what THEY enjoy.

  6. G says:

    What about a massive increase in market tax in highsec. After all, someone has to pay for CONCORD.

    • Ugleb says:

      That would hit the younger and more casual players hardest so I don’t see CCP doing it. As a part time industrialist, I’d just factor the higher market tax into my build costs and charge the customer more.

      I think the most likely effect would be more newbies struggling to get started tbh.

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