As i said in my previous post, in order for Nullsec to thrive, it needs to expand. It needs to return to the Frontier state it was at the beginning of EVE so that the flood of potential high-sec immigrants feel that they can carve out their own section of space.
Now just a quick summary, my issues with Nullsec at the moment can be summed up simply- At the moment Null sec is a exclusive club of chiefly PVP pilots that can afford to do nothing but pvp due to being bankrolled by that unrivalled fountain of ISK that is the Tech moon, and can control huge sections of space with relatively few people due to the nature of Sov in terms of structures at the moment and the ease of Force projection.
Now in this Post, i’m going to give my own two cents on how to fix it. Basically it involves breaking Moon mining’s output and monopoly on moon materials, instituting changes to Sov that makes AFK holding large sections of space virtually impossible, and a mechanic for Nullsec alliances to join CONCORD. The upshot of this is that the Current empires should collapse into a much smaller holding due to higher manpower requirements, opening up most of nullsec for colonisation from highsec.
Ultimately i looked and askedthe question- Can nullsec in it’s present state sustain a population of Half a million pilots? The Answer is no. If EVE wants to expand, there should be no reason why Nullsec could not have a million pilots living in it, or more- if we get into the idea that EVE is condemned to remain a MMO with relatively little subs, then we make it true.
This is once i’ve written it, a rather long post. Buckle in Everyone.
Step Number One:
Limiting Force Projection
“Oh here we go Ten. This is where you begin to go on about reducing jump range like every other blogger in existence…” Well actually no.
Because in my mind, the single biggest issue with Force Projection isn’t necessarily the speed with which either side can deploy, although certainly that’s a factor and all for nerfs to that particular mechanic. In my mind however, it’s the fact that despite all the “risk” of nullsec, the Sov mechanics basically turn the entire affair into a siege.
This means that in order for you to have any meaningful impact on a system, you need to bring quite a lot of people, and you need to engage in a lengthy shootout at a POS or another static structure with enormous amounts of EHP. The issue isn’t just the speed with which forces can react to attacks, but rather the fact that in EVE sov warfare at the moment, rapier strikes are virtually impossible- which means that every strike eventually turns into a battle of attrition.
Even the Black Legion’s “Guerrilla” campaign on Goonswarm involves massive fleets and POS bashing.
Ideally, Jump range would get reduced by a substantial margin, and Jump bridge networks should be limited to stargate range or removed entirely. What if attackers could successfully launch strikes in the minutes rather than hours and day bracket? The slowness of attacks is equally at fault as the speed of defence. This leads me into my second point.
Sov Must Mean Something
At the moment the entire SOV network happens behind POS walls. The actual traditional mechanics of the system- the stargate ect, isn’t used. It mightsay this alliance owns this system, but frequently not one member of that alliance will be outside the POS walls. Who needs to bother with Stargates? Sov-holding alliances don’t need to worry about actually attempting to “hold” a system by actually occupying and using it to a large extent, but rather by staying safe in POSs, and knowing that if anyone brings enough ships to actually cause trouble, the cavalry can arrive to deal with the issue.
In short, even though you have Sov over the system, even if that Sov in the real life sense is blatantly breached, in EVE it has no real effect at all.
This I want to change. Rather than POS and other static structure bashing, Something dynamic, more similar to the current system used in Incursions.
In short you should still have the option of using sheer numbers and superiority of taking over systems by destroying the local infrastructure. But you should also be able to wear away Sov over a much more extended period of time through guerrilla warfare.
By this i mean simple things- Logically if someone comes into a piece of territory, blows up some of your ships, then gets away with it, then that’s a clear indication of the controlling alliance losing grip.
So a new bar for sov- the negative impact of hostiles in the system- ships destroyed, Moons and Stargates blockaded, against the positive impact of the holding alliance- Sites cleared, ore mined, moons mining yield, enemy ships destroyed, products produced and sold. Sov must be actively maintained via activity in the system, and in order to attain higher levels of sov, substantial effort must be put in.
Yes you read right there. Under this system, any hostile force demonstrating their local superiority through the disruption or capture of a very obvious piece of system infrastructure, will slowly begin to degrade the sov counter. This is blockading.
Blockading comes in two flavours. The First is infrastructure blockades, which work on Stargates, Stations and other pieces of Sov Infrastructure. It works like this.
Any ship, any at all can attempt to Blockade any of these aforementioned pieces of infrastructure. All he needs to do is be at War with the holding alliance, move right next to it (say within 2.5km), and then click the blockade button.
In order to start Blockading, every ship would need to dedicate it’s entire system potential for two minutes. As such it would not be able to lock, warp, jump, cloak, shoot or use any high powered module at all. I’m on the fence about drones. Any damage done to the ship during this time would break the Blockade attempt.
As the ship does this, the Alliance that is getting Blockaded gets a notice, and the EVE map changes to show that the system is now Blockaded. It would be announced in Local. Blockading would not actually stop the Stargate from functioning- the only impact it has is on the Sov Counter. Once the two minutes is up, the ship’s functionality returns, and the system is now under blockade. As long as the Blockading fleet/Alliance stays within 300km of the star-gate or such, points rack up. If the blockading fleet sits there unopposed the rate of sov damage increases progressively the longer it remains unopposed.
Of course, if the Sov holders are at home, chances are the offending ship will be staring down the shotgun barrel before the initial two minutes are up, and as such this is unlikely to do damage. the Sov counter might actually go up as the offending ship gets popped. However, if the System is virtually deserted or relies on forces deployed on the other side of EVE, well then- you may have a problem.
Especially since it might just be a small gang or even individuals who are doing it. Ultimately the question of Sov should be, can one guy stand up, piss in your face and get away with it? If so, you aren’t maintaining Sov.
Other impacts on sov would be things like Secure Boarders- Sov would be harder to degrade in deep sov, but easier on the frontier.
The other kind of Blockading- Moon Mining Blockading has a far more economic impact, and it brings me to my third point.
Break the Monopoly of Moon Mining.
This is Three Part- Firstly, Moon Blockading. Secondly, Nerfing Moon Mining yields into the ground. Thirdly, creating alternative, active and far more risky sources of moon materials.
Moon Blockading works similarly to Infrastructure blockading.
Except instead of the afore mentioned blockading process, it’s the process of anchoring a Moon Blockader (for lack of a better term) which needs to be anchored within a certain distance of the moon- but not the POS. It will take 2 minutes, and like a Cyno, bring you up on the overview although the minimum warp distance will be 40km. Once done however, the anchoring ship can leave. Unlike with Infrastructure blockading, there is no need to stick around to enforce.
And like with the infrastructure blockade, the owning alliance/corp knows all about what’s happening as does everyone else in the system.
While blockaded, the moon is subject to a double whammy. It cannot moon mine, and the sov counter takes damage. However, in order to deal with the problem, all the defenders need to do is deal with the Beacon, which will probably have a mechanic to make it durable from alpha damage/sniping. Which is of course easy if someone is on the ball in system. If everyone’s offline however, then you lose hours of your moon goo mining. Which can equate to millions of ISK.
These blockading beacons would cost money of course, and the ship would need to fit a launcher and meet PG/CPU requirements for that launcher, which would probably be Destroyer or larger. To prevent complete cheese, no Covert Ops ship would be able to equip one of these. In fact, it may just be better to prevent any ship from simultaneously equiping/onlining the launcher and a cloak.
“But Ten, this means that one guy in a destroyer can play Havoc with my Moon Goo.” You say. Well yes. If one guy can parade through your system, spending minutes at each of your moons, then you don’t deserve to keep the system.
Next obviously, the actual amount of ISK that Moon’s put out, especially the infamous technetium would be slashed by between 25% to 80% depending on it’s value. Don’t cry too hard. Even reduced by 80%, Tech moons would still put out 1.46 bil a month. They make just that much money as it is. Seeing as it’s almost completely risk free and completely passive, this is completely needed.
Thirdly, create alternative source of Moon Materials to make up for the shortfall. Scannable Sites that spawn through systems, a few static belts with asteroids of the raw materials in systems to add a riskier static source of the material.
After all, we all know how risky Belt mining is, even in highsec now with all those New Order types running around. Far riskier than Moon Mining that’s for sure. All of this leads to Step Number Three.
The Town Initiative
At the Moment, Nullsec is working like the wild-west- Competing bands of outlaws fighting over a couple of gold mines, and shooting anyone who shows up on their turf. However, in order for Nullsec to advance, these bands of outlaws need to turn into respectable local principalties and governments- who seek to attract neutrals into their domain rather than murdercate them. With the changes above, The inherent value of systems with Tech Moons will be greatly reduced, and the ease of keeping hold of a large number of systems will be a thing of the past. Alliances will contract operations to fewer systems, which is fine.
For a long time, Nullsec has complained about a lack of industrial capacity- not being able to compete with Jita in short.
This issue basically comes froom the fact is that while Hisec economic potential is centralised, Null-sec economic potential is decentralised and capped. In highsec a mission hub can sustain thousands of pilots, in nullsec the nature of Sigs and anomalies means that like wormholes, there is hard cap on the amount of people that can “live” in a system. In Highsec, Centralising goods and services in one hub makes sense due to the population density- in nullsec that can’t ever form because the chief assesment of a system’s worth comes from its moons- which take minimal people to run. In short, you can’t get an independent nullsec from Hisec not because there isn’t the sheer physical potential out there- there is, but because nullsec doesn’t have the population density and the thousands of poor, newish miners to support one. This has been the theme of Goonswarm’s latest propaganda campaign- which I don’t agree with because it involve attempting to get CPP to deal with a problem that is perfectly solvable in game. Lobbying CPP should be the last recourse of action, rather than the first.
This is the solution to both problems.
The cap for developing systems would greatly increased. Similar to current Dominion system but taken further. Systems that have a lot of residents would get the option to upgrade to the point where they can support a similar population density to more populous high security PVE hubs- with of course substantially more rewards for being out in nullsec. In effect this would more realistically reflect the real world- every empire needs capitals after all.
As the sov level grows well beyond the current lv 5 maximum, further infrastructure upgrades become available.
This involves being able to place multiple outposts, and the option to upgrade these outposts to the point where they can compete with Hisec stations for refining efficiency, production slots, research ect. Further sig and anomalies become available, allowing for a higher population in system.
As the population increases in system, and the production capacity rises, the industrial capacity of the system and it’s surrounds rises to meet the new, centralised market. As the controlling alliance levels it up it gains the ability to extract a tax from all (not just their own) activities that generate ISK in the system. To make Hisec on par, the empires should impose a similar tax on any activity- i’m unsure if hisec PVE would be buffed proportionately to avoid a nerf.
I’m toying with making Nullsec stations eventually upgradable to have Lv 4 and 5 mission agents, but that’s bound to be controversial- but that would blow the cap off the maximum population as missions aren’t an exclusive game.
Other upgrades include the ability to buy sentry turrets for your stations and gates, and finally the ability to raise the system’s Sec status.
“What Ten?, what are you saying?”
I’m perfectly serious about this. EVE players want security. Every EVE player, even goons. The difference is that the Goon concept of security is completely different from the hisec concept of security. Because death menas little to a goon, because his wealth isn’t dependant on ships. Every ship is expendable in a Goon’s eyes, or at least one that he uses individually. 90% of the time when he does, he doesn’t even need to pay for it out of his own pocket- after all that’s why Reimbursement exists.
In Hisec however ship losses are very, very real. A miner relies on his ship to make his livelihood, and often starting out doesn’t have much reserve capital. Losing a tengu to a goon is nothing. Losing a Tengu for a highsec mission runner represents dozens of hours of work. For a noob, losing his first retriever to a suicide gank can be fatal. Broadly equivalent given the wealth of nullsec at the moment to losing a supercap I imagine in terms of psychological impact.
Even Losec corporations like Stay Frosty and the Tuskers work with security- they have not only got a clear advantage over everything further down the “food chain”, but they also have local numerical superiority, there are very, very few situations in which a Tusker will feel that he is friendless, alone and hunted rather than the predator.
That’s why the entire “Risk-Vs-Reward” debate is meaningless misdirection. A PVE-er will not tolerate to lose a serious ship every fortnight to a pvper, let alone every day or every hour. He will go to a place where his safety is at least partially assured. At the moment that’s a choice between Hisec and CFC. Since not all of us want to be part of the Swarm, most of us stay in Hisec. If you nerf Hisec PVE, then most of us will probably STILL stay in hisec. If you nerf it further than that, like James 315 proposed in his CSM Platform, then CPP will see massive unsubbing.
In nullsec, in order to get a trade hub, you need to create an environment where everyone feels safe going to the table. If the Trade hub isn’t relatively secure for any that wish to buy and sell, then it ceases to be a trade hub. CONCORD is the nearest thing to a perfect police force- 10 second reaction time, and it’s literally impossible to escape their retribution, and i think we would all agree that Jita is far from safe.
So the Final level of SOV in the Town Initiative- the ability to turn your “capital” system into player run, administrated hisec “island” with a force of Concord to bring swift justice to any that breach it. In order to reach this level, not only do you need to own every neighbouring starsystem, but these need to have a high level as well, which requires tertiary and quadtriary systems to maintain their own sov- as such only large empires would be able to implement this, limiting the number of “islands” to a handful. As the controlling empire, the local alliance would of course have the ability to set the standing of any corp/alliance or pilot to -5, making them acceptable targets within system for both guests and the owners. But with this, visitors to the “town” of a nullsec alliance can visit or even stay in relative safety, increasing both the coffers of the owners, the market for ships in the burgeoning trade hub, and the potential source of recruits for the nullsec alliance.
Of course this final level could only be granted to an empire of considerable size (A few constellations or a Region) and one with secure boarders in every direction. This sec status could be immediately lost if one of it stargates got blockaded in any direction for example.
Another interesting thing to note is that since all acceptable target ship deaths degrade Sov, it would be in the controlling Alliance’s vested interests to weed out any potential suicide gankers, ninja looters and such. Here comes the rage- but think about it.
Even in the most rough of western frontier towns, the current behaviour in Jita would be exceptional. It makes Tortuga in Pirates of the Caribbean look tame. This would also give any potential nullsec alliance hub an advantage over Jita or any other hisec hub. I expect tears at this. But all you need to do to make the Concord go away is reduce it from maximum level sov by reducing the size of the Capital’s empire. And then it’s on for young and old again.
But ultimately, this turns a nullsec alliance from a outlaw band that shoots anyone on site to a local government that has within it’s own interests to uphold the rule of law. Would it be safe? Certainly not. This is EVE after all.
So what would happen?
If implemented, i think we’d see an almost immediate massive contraction of the current Nullsec powers down to perhaps a region or two apiece. The Mitanni’s Economic Brain’s Trust will scream, shout and then silently inform him that not only is holding onto half of the universe untenable in the face of roving guerrilla bands, with moon goo worth a fraction of what it once was and higher density systems worth a lot more, consolidating is actually much more profitable than the expense of maintaining such a vast and hollow empire. With no passive ISK fountain, the majority of an Alliance’s efforts would turn to maintaining and increasing Sov through pve. Since the majority of Goonswarm is unlikely to like that, expect bitching. But the majority of EVE players PVE primarily rather than PVP. Very few of us can afford to pvp at all times without any PVE at all. Food chain remember- that means you need people filling out the bottom of the pyramid.
The old Northern Coalition would have thrived in this environment. I suspect that Goonswarm will have a crisis upon discovering that moons no longer give them a free ride and rapidly change their tune to attract as many PVE types as possible. A society doesn’t just need soldiers to function. It needs builders, farmers, businessmen and others.
“But my conflict drivers! With this Most of nullsec would be empty-”
Yes. Empty. OPEN. Ripe for the taking.
No doubt that for a few months, the huge blob fests that we all know and love in EVE would largely vanish. However with most of nullsec up for grabs, like aways when there’s nullsec up for grabs, people would move in. New positions on the table would open up- Losec corps would move in, claim Sov and carve out their own domains in the ruins of the old, predominantly factional warfare alliances. Highsec alliances would make the jump as well, claiming their own piece of space- not just by modern standards, just a system or two apiece.
Which they can now do, without the threat of getting evicted by a supercap hotdrop.
Of course, this would mean that any perspective new nullsec claiming alliance would need manpower lots of it- there are hundreds of thousands of EVE vets that have left and not resubbed- this will bring many of them back, while every new nullsec corp tries to search for as many new citizens as possible from both within hisec and in real life. As a result, subs will skyrocket.
And Nullsec will see more ships die than ever before as new corps fumble their way through nullsec and get ripped apart by roving pvp gangs. Tens of thousands of ships will die, mostly from gang pvp rather than fleet actions. Some alliances will sink, others will swim.
This phase will eventually end of course. New boarders will form, new coalitions, new geopolitical realities, and certainly new wars over territory. The difference is that the population of nullsec will be many, many times what it started off to begin with. Rather than less than 20% of the population, it could be as much as half, more as hisec islands open up in the largest blocks, attracting players who want to live under the aegis of a nullsec alliance without losing their own independence- and pay the fee for the privilege of course.
War will come to Nullsec again, on a scale we can scarcely imagine. EVE will expand itself to meet the gap.
I think that eventually the same figures will come to dominate, maybe under different names and organisations, but the same core. The old powers will have their massive strategic reserves in both liquid ISK and supercaps that the new players won’t. It will take them a while to deploy it, since they intiially won’t have enough manpower to maintain sov over large tracts of nullsec and certainly under the new dynamic some of the more PVP elitist alliances will suffer.
But at the end of the Day, CFC, the remains of the HBC still have the ultimate advantage in that they have mastered the meta. They are used to running the massive logistical operation that is nullsec. They will have the experience for fleet battles, the dedicated and experienced leadership, and most importantly have the media channels to advertise themselves.
It will take a while for them to adapt to the new circumstances and recruit enough manpower to warrant expansion, enough time for new alliances to take their old territories and set up shop- but it will happen. And Mittens will set out to retake his lost territories, this time with tens of thousands at his back.
Of course in a few years, the borders will ossify and there will potentially be entire regions of virtual player run hisec. That’s not a bad thing- empires can still fall. However maybe then we can implement James 315’s idea of turning NPC hisec into a massive tutorial ground. And should the same stagnancy sink in as we have now, we can always open up new regions of nullsec. Losec would remain losec- the boarders between empires should always not be the safest of places.
This would be a new Nullsec. A larger nullsec. A deeper nullsec. A nullsec that takes hundreds of thousands to conquer completely rather than just tens.A brave new world- yes.
But one that this game needs to become if it wants to progress.
Just a Collection of other posts by much more experienced bloggers than yours truly(Links breaking D: WordPress is failing on me)
http://fiddlersedge.blogspot.com.au/2012/12/farms-and-fields-question-of-labor.html – Mord Fiddle Addressing the recent Risk vs Reward and Farms and Fields Debate.
http://fiddlersedge.blogspot.com.au/2013/01/farms-and-fields-phb.html – In fact you should probably read the entire Mord Fiddle Farms and Field Post Series.
http://jestertrek.blogspot.com.au/2012/03/tale-of-two-regions.html Jester’s writings on a lot of the changes discussed here. A year ago. Oh well, i didn’t find this one until i had written most of the article.