Not subbing a couple of months most probably due to stresses on my time, but i’ve been catching up on the chatter recently, getting myself up to speed. But that also means that i need to get back into the rhythm of blogging. So like this Blog’s predecessor over at Podlogs before it went down, the focus will once again be on EVE.
And so, looking around after more than a year out? what has changed really?
Well in answer, not a whole lot. New Destroyers, new scanner, but despite the several expansions in the intervening months very little has changed. This is probably most noticeable whenever i cast my eyes to nullsec.
The names of the overreaching collations might have changed, but the important ones haven’t. Test is still Test. Pandemic is still Pandemic. Goons, most noticeably are still Goons. And of course, moons are still moons.
Jester summed up the issue better than i ever probably could, and since my link function isn’t working, yo can read all about in the hyperlink at the bottom.
Now Nullsec is from a conceptual one of the things I like the most about EVE. It’s something that no other game can quite offer. It’s EVE’s greatest selling point and it’s greatest disappointment.
Now this is where i’m going to diverge from popular opinion. The current major theme word that has been thrown around quite a fair bit is “conflict drivers”. Resources must be rare in order to drive conflict. Territory must be fought over. Moons in particular. This has created an environment where established powers- the ones with large amounts of Sov, are the only ones who can lay claim to more sov.
The old “you need supers to get supers” issue.
Now i’m not necessarily saying that this is an inherently bad thing- EVE is quite a realistic sandbox in terms of behaviour and you’ll find that in real life, that’s how it works as well. but this is not what EVE needs especially now.
Nullsec currently has thousands of residents, massive fights. But compared to highsec, it’s small beans. If EVE wants to expand it’s player base, more than it’s recent success, than it needs to once again make nullsec a frontier where highsec players and newer players feel they can attempt to create something of their own rather than just aspiring to be a Goon or Test Footsoldier.
Because let’s not kid ourselves people. No highsec player has been able to say “i’m going to go strike it out by myself in nullsec with me and a bunch of my buddies.” in most of the 10 year history of EVE now. The current residents, vets so bitter, so hard and so experienced will show the way out, and in short order too.
The fundamental problem is and always has been that the only thing you really need in order to succeed in nullsec is capable and dedicated leadership, logistics, and a hard core of many pvp pilots.
That’s all that Goons, PL and Test needed, and in the past that’s all that the Russian Drone Forces needed against the old Northern Coalition. And that’s where i believe the realism falls down. This is where the realistic sandbox breaks, and breaks for the following reason.
Force Projection: With a combination of Jump Clones and Jump Bridges (in both POS and Titan Form) sections of space that would take tens of hours to cover in slower ships in high security space can be covered in a fraction of that time. Nullsec is massive on paper (several times larger than highsec), but it’s extremely easy to move very fast. this means that a Coalitions force can be anywhere in a matter of minutes rather than days or hours. It also means a relatively small body of pilots (only in four figures) can defend a massive amount of territory with relative ease.
Moons: The issue with Moons is that they produce the most valuable resources in the game… without much in the way of ISK or human involvement. This wouldn’t such a huge issue if the moons didn’t hold a monopoly over resources- more on that later.
Strategic Reserves: This is not so much a problem unto itself but rather something that has become an issue due to the two afore mentioned problems. A Tech moon puts out 7.3 bill per month completely passively as of February. Although Doltan’s estimate is probably not 100% reliable, there’s 71 tech moons in Venal alone- and the only reason why it’s that high is that it’s NPC rather than sov space, and therefore has more player reports coming out of it. That’s 518 billion ISK- more than half a bill, enough to fit out a sizeable super cap fleet. No one really knows how deep the OTEC (Organisation of Technetium Exporting Corporations) pockets really are, but you do the maths. The status quo has held for three years, basically since the fall of the Old northern coalition. That’s 36 months. A coalition that has held Venal for 3 years would have generated more than 18 trillion in ISK.
Unlike Infrastructure and supercaps, ISK in it’s liquid state cannot be captured. It cannot be destroyed. It can be suspended if the account in which it resides goes inactive, but that’s unlikely given the nature of nullsec. This means that even the recent conflicts in Fountain- the battle at J5A-IX which Poetic Stanziel estimates cost CFC about 70 bil and Test n’ Pals about 120. Even both of these sums put together is about 11 days of Venal’s Technetium output alone.
You know, forget about what the players actually do in their free time between fleet fights. Anything less than supercap fights of realistic size can be bankrolled almost indefinitely.Seeing as for the past half a year CFC and the old HBC have been staring at each other down and little else, and even now the war has actually started Supercaps haven’t been deployed, that Strategic Reserve- has been ticking ever higher.
Not surprisingly, the Goons and Test don’t disclose exactly how many numbers they have spread throughout their accounts. But it would not surprise me if it went into 15 figures.
Of course, Strategic reserve isn’t everything. The Old Northern Coalition held most of the tech rich north, and it still eventually got broken open by the DRF. At the end of the day supercaps require minerals rather than ISK, and the DRF’s rent system of providing supercaps in exchange for safety eventually won them the day.
But make no mistake. It is a huge amount of money. It is a mind boggingly massive amount of money that is far too large to even be deployed on the present market. But that ISK will never decay. It will not go away.
With that amount of money, even if the goons got kicked out of Nullsec, they’d still have they’re strategic reserve to put every single goon into a tengu, and head back out there. And again, and again, until they took it back and started all over again. If they wanted to, they could wreak market havoc of an almost inconceivable scale. Or they could just close up shop and retire in luxury (and by luxury i mean do whatever they want) for the next couple of years.
Unlike the first three, of which there are plenty of discussed fixes, there is no tenable solution to the third except time. Years and years of time.
But that shouldn’t discourage us from attempting to “fix” nullsec. I can understand CCP’s slow pace of change- it’s impossible to play test the impact of Sov changes in EVE, due to the scale, and attempts to “model” it have failed hilariously in the past. I’m talking about you Dominion.
I can understand trepidation about not wanting to mess with what currently keeps Nullsec rolling. But the idea that if Technetium moons vanished tommorow that nullsec would fall on it’s ass is a joke- Strategic Reserves.
As for the so called Fixes- the entire Risk vs Reward Campaign, i’m going to address that next.
Jester’s “Risk Free Isk Article”- http://jestertrek.blogspot.com.au/2012/02/risk-free-isk.html