Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Fixing Nullsec

Ideas on the fly: What I would do to fix Nullsec

Of course when I say “fix” I might mean “spay” or “neuter”.

Ideas on the Fly

This is an idea on the fly. Please feel free to leave comments here, through EVE mail or Twitter.


Nullsec is, in my mind, the place for awesome large-fleet PvP with consequences. It is supposed to be about world-shaping at the players' hands. It is supposed to be about building empires and tearing them down. There should be drivers in place to encourage neighbours to fight each other. Where do you find the most natural PvP in EVE? PvP free of the fear of the blob? The place you can go to pick fights with some certainty that the people you pick a fight with are going to be committed to the fight, and you won't be surprised with massive supercapital fleets dropping on top of your battleship fleet? That place is Unknown space or w-space. What makes w-space different to nullsec? In short it is the difficulty of access and the inability to move large fleets through cynosural travel.

From my perspective nullsec should be like w-space in some degree, but with the added risk of large fleets being moved into running fights with no limits, and the freedom of movement offered by star gates (stable wormholes which have been harnessed for the purpose of on-demand interstellar travel). The idea of massive fleet moving around via cynosural travel faster than sub-capital fleets can move using star gates just rubs the wrong way: it doesn't gel. Nullsec should also be the ultimate in player-driven content, to the point of world shaping. How much world-shaping is possible if players can't build and destroy the stuff that makes the world what it is?

So what is wrong with nullsec at the moment, and why does it need to be fixed?

First: reinforcement of a fight in progress through the use of cynosural fields is far too easy. A fight will escalate to capital ship fleets faster than it can be reinforced using sub-cap ships travelling through star gates. In short, the fight can be won simply by having more pilots online able to dog-pile a fight through a cyno bridge.

Second: far too much of the business of nullsec sovereignty involves static fights at very predictable times.

Third: for a game that purports to be a sandbox, nullsec has far too many rollercoaster rails in the form of fixed-in-stone stargates, inflexibility in player industry, and the inability to shape the world to suit player desires.

Rebalancing Cynosural Travel

Tweaking cynosural travel is necessary for two reasons: First, cyno travel is practically instantaneous; Second, cyno travel has far too great a range. These two factors combine to allow unreasonable "force projection" (at least it is unreasonable according to the forum trolls). Even without jump clones, it is possible to get ships from one side of New Eden to the other in tens of minutes (as opposed to requiring a day or two to redeploy). Thus any reinforcement timer, anywhere in nullsec, can potentially be greeted by the full force of all of nullsec's capital and supercapital fleets, regardless of where those fleets were stationed.
More about balancing cynosural travel in my article "Fixing Cynosural Travel".

Removing Sovereignty Structure Bashing

CCP has already started the process of building mechanics for claiming and challenging sovereignty that don't involve structure bashing and reinforcement timers. The occupation mechanics used for Faction Warfare have been developed with a mind to expanding the mechanics to nullsec player sovereignty.

So for the moment, I'm happy to leave it to CCP to know what they're up to here: implementing FW style offensive and defensive plexing, combined with “victory points” of some kind for blowing up other people in your space. Imagine if "treaties" of some kind could be implemented through alliance-issued charters for POSes: a renter will have to buy the treaties that the alliance members are selling.
I would like to see a removal of reinforcement timers as the underlying mechanic of sovereignty warfare. I recognise that reinforcement timers are a necessary mechanic for allowing pilots to defend critical infrastructure in this always-on game which we only participate in during our own play times. Sovereignty could be moved to an activity-dependent system rather than a structure-dependent system. But as I said, I'll wait to see what CCP is up to with Faction Warfare & "Sov Lite".

World Shaping (and Destruction)

How do we put the power of world shaping into the hands of players? Here's the core of my strategy: allow players to build and destroy stargates. On the way to that goal first, there are a few things that need to be sorted out.

First, the range of all cyno travel should be reduced. Black Ops ships are at the appropriate level: people constantly complain that their range is not enough, but black ops are still actively used. This indicates that Black Ops are balanced. After Black Ops, the next furthest range should be given to carriers and dreadnoughts. Finally, Titans (and their associated bridges) and Supercarriers should have the shortest range. See my article about cyno travel rebalancing for more thoughts about the mechanics of cyno travel.

Second, the process of building, upgrading and destroying (or subverting) star gates must be designed from the outset to allow the installation of star gates in systems where no star gates are available: the mechanism must not depend on getting ships into a star system which will not fit through any available wormholes or jump bridges.

Third, the local channel should be put under player control.

Finally, nullsec industry needs some serious love.

Remove Local

Local chat is provided to most systems through the fluidic router relay system. In nullsec, it is the sovereign of a system who installs the fluidic router relay and controls access to local chat. Note that ships jumping into system through a star gate will be registered (but not necessarily connected) to the fluidic router relay by the stargate itself (but a successful hack might prevent the stargate registering the new ship for a minute or two).

A fluidic router relay is of course hackable, so intruders can open it up to everyone or switch it off to everyone, delay the fluidic router registration process, or fake the deregistration of the hacking ship, up until the routine self audit system detects that something is wrong, alerts home base and resets the fluidic router to “last known good” configuration. Security conscious sovereigns might opt to install backups to certain features, such as a backup registration system which will be a structure (or structures) which ensure that all ships visible on grid are registered with the local fluidic router relay. Ships entering space through a wormhole may be able to delay registration with the local fluidic router relay, but only at the expense of losing all comms channels (which are accessed through the fluidic router relay).

Thus local as an intel tool is available to those who want it, but the fluidic router relay has to be installed and operational in order for Local to be available. Should this mechanism be extended to w-space too? Perhaps not: w-space is not just space-shifted but time-shifted too: how do you get a fluidic router connection to a place and time that you don't know? For the moment we have "magic" chat channels allowing pilots to communicate with each other in the absence of any communications infrastructure.

Now for Stargates

Stargates should be anchorable at certain points in a system which are determined by the intended target system. These points might require extensive surveys to be undertaken to determine gravitic contours. Subsequent to these gravitic contour surveys, the prospective stargate builders will need to identify locations of natural stable wormholes that can be utilised by the stargate infrastructure. Thus there are two distinct processes involved: a system survey which should take a coordinated group of players a week or so to perform, then the wormhole hunt which will essentially be a probe scan of the targeted area, similar to hunting down unstable wormholes.

The survey and wormhole identification needs to be performed in both systems simultaneously. The process of identifying the suitable wormhole will require teams in both systems to “knock and listen” at all the wormholes they find: there might be a dozen candidates, only one of which is connected to the target system. This “knock and listen” process will require structures to be deployed around candidate wormholes, activated, and maintained while the “knock and listen” survey is completed. When a suitable wormhole is found, a gantry can be erected over that hole. When both gantries are anchored and onlined, communication between the two gantries will be established.

Once a stargate gantry is in place in both systems, the star gates can be built. In the initial stages of modifying space, all stargates will have infinite capacity for transit, so choice of stargate will be aesthetic rather than strategic. Star gates will be upgradable, with upgrades (and downgrades) taking an appropriate amount of time during which the star gate is still usable. Later in the development of this process, different star gates will provide:
  • Transit capacity
  • Fuel consumption
  • Hit points
  • Hacking difficulty
The major decision point for stargates might be transit capacity. Each wormhole will have an innate transit capacity (for example, somewhere between 1kg/s and 100kg/s) which is then extended by the stargate hardware to levels such that a small gate on a long-distance wormhole link might handle one frigate per second, while a gate at a major staging hub might handle many battleships per second. There may be system upgrades, star gate modifications or faction stargates available which provide higher transit capacity, lower fuel consumption, or other benefits.

Some game design issues here will be the length of time that should be set aside for creating new star gates: for a rapid turn-over, perhaps the "knock and listen" survey could be done using modules fitted to ships, with the process of identifying linked wormholes intended to take in the order of an hour. For a longer turnover, perhaps a gantry would need to be erected, with certain fuel requirements to maintain the survey equipment for a week. What duration is appropriate?

Tollways and Access Rights

Star gates will also be configurable by the sovereign owner such that ships passing through the gate have to pay a toll, or may even have access restricted depending on standings. Gates will also be hackable, so that people of malicious intent might hack a gate to avoid paying tolls, or allow unauthorised ships through that gate, or even lock that stargate altogether so noone can use it.
Hacking a star gate will provide some change to that gates behaviour for a period of time (say, half an hour). At the end of that period of time the star gate's self auditing mechanism will come into play, at which point the hacking attempt will be reported.

Removal of Static Resources

Remove static moon goo. Moon goo should deplete, with that resource eventually repawning somewhere else. T2 moon harvesters should extract resources faster, and multiple harvesters should extract resources faster. There should be sufficient resources on a moon that reports a resource available to allow a T1 moon harvester to extract that resource for about 2 months. Harvesters should not openly report what they are harvesting, but it should be possible to hack into any item of a POS infrastructure to see what that structure is configured for, what it contains, or any other details that might be of interest.

Thus it should be possible to hide a highly valuable moon “in plain sight” as a CSAA POS, or perhaps even a jump staging POS. Spies will be even more valuable than before, as will black ops fleets sent out specifically to scout out enemy resources (or potentially valuable moons).
No longer will one be able to refer to a five year old moon survey and have confidence that certain POSes are harvesting particular resources.

Which brings us to nullsec industry.

Fixing Cynosural Travel

Tweaking cynosural travel is necessary for two reasons: First, cyno travel is practically instantaneous; Second, cyno travel has far too great a range. These two factors combine to allow unreasonable "force projection" (at least it is unreasonable according to the forum trolls). Even without jump clones, it is possible to get ships from one side of New Eden to the other in tens of minutes (as opposed to requiring a day or two to redeploy). Thus any reinforcement timer, anywhere in nullsec, can potentially be greeted by the full force of all of nullsec's capital and supercapital fleets, regardless of where those fleets were stationed.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

DUST 514™ From a Capsuleer Perspective

Further to my review of the E3 2012 video, I have some questions about how Capsuleers will interact with Dust Bunnies. My main question is about maintenance of defences when the Capsuleer is offline.

Friday, 3 August 2012

CCP vs Mercenary Corporations

Scenario: you are a small industrial corp. You have a couple of research POSes set up in some hisec systems. You get wardecced by a small PvP corp.

Scenario: you are a small industrial corp. You have a couple of research POSes set up in some hisec systems. You get wardecced by a huge PvP corp.

In which scenario would you hire mercenaries? From an industrial corp's perspective: neither.

Industry & The CSM (the CSM Summit Minutes post)

A long post in which Mara comments on portions of the CSM Summit minutes/transcript which impact parts of the game that Mara is most involved with.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

BB37: Lines in the Sand

“EVE Online sits on the frontier of social gaming, providing an entertainment environment like no other. The vibrant society of interacting and conflicting communities, both within the EVE client and without, is the driving force behind EVE's success. However, the anonymity of Internet culture combined with a competitive gaming environment encourages in-game behaviour to spread beyond the confines of the sandbox. Where is the line?”
 — Blog Banter 37

Monday, 4 June 2012

DUST 514™ E3 2012 Trailer

I'm not part of the DUST514 public beta, so I am free to comment without repercussions.

CCP released another trailer for DUST514 today. This trailer shows that the concept of the game has some issues.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

NDAs and The Gordian Knot

The Gordian Knot

The short version of The Gordian Knot story is that some guy with a sword attempting to untie a complex knot, simply gave up and cut it with his sword.

The DUST 514 NDA

Now let us turn our attention to the NDA for the DUST 514 open beta. Have a read through it, I'll be commentating on parts shortly.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

What's in your hangar?

Apparently things are so slow on Galnet these days that people are taking to showing off their overstuffed hangars full of ships that are hardly ever flown.

What's in my hangar? I have a Tengu and a Buzzard.

Wow, that was a short conversation. Sorry!

Thursday, 26 April 2012

The Goon Incursion of Jita

Jita is currently under attack by a swarm of Goons and their friends. There are currently over 2000 in local.

If you have assets in Jita, I would advise waiting for some quiet time. Meanwhile, enjoy the live coverage, courtesy of Daopa. If you have the TwitchTV iPad app, you can find the coverage by searching for Daopa.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Mining is Boring

Imagine you're a developer for EVE Online. You're going to move asteroids to gravimetric exploration sites (“grav sites”) for various reasons. Here's my take on what issues you should be considering when moving to grav sites, and how I'd address them. For the executive crowd, the TL;DR section is right at the end.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Mousing Is Serious Business

Do you consistently use one hand for mousing when playing games?


No, I don't mean one handed when you're viewing porn, I mean do you always use your right or left hand to move the mouse, or do you swap?

Friday, 6 April 2012

Invention & Other POS Based Industry


The theory of invention is covered by the Invention guide in Evelopedia.


The practical side of it is roughly as follows:
  • drive up to lab
  • put stuff (BPC, interface, decryptor, datacores) into corp hangar
  • select "Invention"
  • select the mobile lab you just put stuff in
  • select a free invention line
  • select decryptor, base item, output type
  • select output hangar
  • submit invention job
  • wait

Friday, 9 March 2012

Blog Banter 34: Spaceship Politics

"How would you like to see the CSM grow, both in terms of player interaction and CCP interaction?"
 — Freebooted's Blog Banter 34

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Blog Banter 33: The Capsuleer Experience

"...we want to make the first days, weeks and months in EVE enjoyable and not just something ‘you have to plough through in order to get to the good stuff’" and the newly formed Player Experience team will focus on"...where and why people lose interest in EVE...".

"We invite you to pour your heart (or guts) out and tell us what you think is good or bad with the current new player experience and what you think could be done about the problems."

Here are my thoughts on the New Player Experience, as part of Blog Banter #33.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Industry - Refine and Manufacture

Have you ever tried refining using a POS refinery? It's a pain in the arse. Have you ever used the refinery in a station belonging to an empire navy? 50% base refine rate. Have you ever used the refinery in a station belonging to a mining corporation? 30% base refine rate.


Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Industry - Extraction and Logistics

So we've discovered a resource: asteroids, ice, planetary resources, moon goo, intelligent livestock, etc. What do you do now?

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Mara's Ideas on Industry

Further to Seleene's "Fighting For Industry" post, I expound on the Discover, Extract, Carry, Refine, Manufacture, Develop lifestyle of the industrial-focussed capsuleer.

Resurrection Men Storyboard

So you're a capsuleer, and you want to make some implants. You need to get some smarts for these implants, as per Resurrection Men.

At some point, the Capsuleer has found information about the smart guy whose knowledge and instincts would be useful (more about that later). The Capsuleer intends to augment themselves (or someone else, via the market) with specific skills. In our example we'll use hacking, because that's what the original story is about.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

PLEX: Back on the rise

That sell order for 30 PLEX finally cleared and the market is rising again. Someone was obviously impatient to sell their PLEX at tomorrow's buy order prices ;)

Thursday, 16 February 2012

PLEX: Offers vs Market, the aftermath

The cheap PLEX offer has finished, PLEX prices in Dodixie bottomed out at around 460M ISK. Prices are on the way up again, boosted by speculators such as the one offering 461M ISK each for 30 PLEX in a region which trades around 200 a day (and yes, that trader is 0.01-ISKing).

Look at it this way: people who buy PLEX to trade for ISK are usually after a quick ISK injection. People who buy PLEX for their account time are usually managing to scrape together the 500M ISK required at the end of their 30 day shift. Neither group are likely to have the patience to wait. In the middle are the speculators who buy from the ISK buyer for 460M ISK today, then sell to the PLEX buyer for 480M ISK next month.

If you think PLEX are sold by the real buyers directly to the real users, you have rocks in your head.

Monday, 13 February 2012

The EVE Rookie

My partner has almost reached the end of her 60 day trial. She has taken up the option of the $20 for 60 days subscription, and currently has about 400M ISK net worth. She is happily flying a Noctis and sailing the skies of Sinq Laison picking up good deals all over the place. So far she has not paid list price for anything: all her skill books, salvagers, tractor beams etc have been bought on buy orders significantly below "market value". She is absolutely ruthless.

The Noctis? It was a gift from me seeing as I haven't flown it for a year. She didn't need the gift though, since her net worth at the time was about 200M ISK. At present she is capable of salvaging about as fast as I can run missions. So I have to pick up my part of the effort! Time for some DPS implants?

PLEX: Offers vs Market

There has been an ongoing sale of 10 PLEX for a mild discount ($149.99, as opposed to 12 PLEX for $209.94, representing about $17.50ea). The market value of PLEX was steadily rising. There is now a special offer on 2 PLEX for $29.99 ($5 off the normal $34.99 price, valid until 13 February 2012, representing about $14.99ea), and the market value of PLEX has started falling. There is no Incursion interdiction happening at present.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Thursday, 9 February 2012

The Cat

I arrived at my jump clone to find someone had sent me a cat as a gift.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Good Payments, Evil Payments

So, in my opinion the reward level of Incursions is fine, though hisec Incursions are a little too abundant for my liking. There is a different issue though, which returns to Tippia's topic of ISK Faucets versus Sinks. I have written about Faucets and Sinks before, go read that so you know my opinions on the matter.

So, are Incursions actually paying "too much"?

Short version: Yes. And no. It's not about the ISK, it's about the risk.

Make sure you've read my two previous posts: Tippis' Rants - Faucets and Sinks, and Incursion vs Mission Income, along with Tippia's post Faucets and Sinks which spurred all of this blathering of mine.

Incursion vs Mission Running Income

There's increasing focus on the "imbalance" of Incursion income versus L4 security mission income. People see Incursion runners making a hundred million ISK an hour and feel that this is imbalanced compared to L4 security missions. I'd like to contribute my experiences to the community, in the hope that people can actually add some evidence to their arguments instead of just winding themselves up into foaming-at-the-mouth lunatic ranting based on second- or third-hand information.

Flash Post: Tippia's Rants, ISK Faucets and Sinks

Tippia has a post up about faucets and sinks: http://blog.beyondreality.se/?q=node/3

My first response to Tippia's "average income for mission runners" is that such a figure is a little misleading: it throws people running all levels of missions into the same bucket, thus drawing an average from apples, oranges and pumpkins. In addition, it ignores a basic distinction between motivation to participate in a particular activity.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

What is a Virtual Goods Store?

A point of contention with some EVE players is the difference between items that are spawned into the game by players spending time in the game, versus items that are spawned into the game by players spending money at the game. Virtual Goods Stores are the avenue through which items are spawned into the game by spending real money, or a real money equivalent.

I'm stuck.

I'm suffering a little from writer's block. I wanted to write about the economics behind arbitrage hauling and speculative hauling, as part of my attempt at discussing "balancing the economy".

If anyone can point me at suitable reading material to discuss the economic principles behind trade overall, and arbitrage hauling in particular, I'd love to hear from you!