If you've been reading the dev blogs over at the main Eve Online site, you'll have stumbled across the recent Agents Made Easy announcement.
Some of it is pretty straightforward - consolidation of agent divisions and the related Connection skills. Gone are the 21 different divisions, each with its own balance of varying mission types (e.g., encounter, courier, etc.). In their place we'll find four divisions, each offering a single mission type 100% of the time.
Some dedicated missioners are finding the new order a bit dull sounding and less nuanced than the old and are complaining. And with some cause, I think. Running missions for entertainment sake got old for me some time back, but I can see how the byzantine nature of the divisions provided something of a puzzle to keep things interesting. What agent to choose and which missions to run will be more straightforward, but that will make grinding missions more of a grind. This change pretty much eliminates "Missioning" as an in-game specialty.
Agent quality undergoes a bit of dumbing down as well. OK, actually quality is done away with in effect. All agents for a given level will be equally easy to access - as though they were -20 on the quality scale. However they will all reward completed missions at the same level - as though they were +20 on the quality scale. So all agents within an given level are as easy to access as a -20 agent of that level, and reward successful missions as a +20 agent. Player status with a corporation needed to gain access to a agents for a given level is all that matters. After that, it's all gravy until you hit the next level.
Now, if any level 4 agent will pay out the same amount for the same mission, this means that players don't have to cluster around a few systems in order to optimize level 4 mission rewards. In theory, this means ninja salvagers and high sec pirates and griefers will have slimmer pickings as the level 4 mission runners spread out across high sec. It should also mean that the market for modules and salvagables looted from NPC wrecks should become more diffused as well, rather than remaining concentrated in a few mission oriented market hubs.
Many existing missioners will stay put rather than go to the time and trouble of moving themselves or their corporation to a new base of operations. However, as they slowly spread out, those mission runners that remain in the current mission hubs will be increasingly targeted - there being fewer targets for the associated pirates, ninjas and griefers. That in turn will apply pressure on the remaining mission runners to seek riches in more hospitable locations. Finally, both mission runners and those who prey on them should be diffused throughout high and low sec. Of course this will mean more danger for those missioners who deliberately avoided the highest quality agents in order to avoid the attendant high-sec pirates, ninjas and griefers.
The net of this is that CCP is making it easier and safer to make money grinding missions in high sec. Meanwhile, remember, they're making it harder to make money by ratting in nullsec. I suspect that these two simple but fundamental changes to the game occurring in close succession is no accident.
CCP appears to be taking action to reverse past policy and move population out of nullsec and back to highsec. Fewer players in nullsec, after all, means smaller alliances and smaller fleets, right? Fewer massive fleets means fewer massive fleet fights. Fewer massive fleet fights could yield benefits in term of fewer lagged systems, which are an ongoing system performance problem for CCP. It might also force more of the small fleet/small gang PvP that CCP Grayscale regards as the most desirable form of play.
However, while some corporations might move wholesale back to highsec for the easy cash, I think that most of the players presently in nullsec will remain in nullsec.
First of all, it's fairly quick and easy to train up an alt sufficiently to run level 4 missions in highsec. Thus a player can easily keep a highsec alt to use as a money-maker while his primary PvP alt(s) remains in nullsec. As money making in high-sec doesn't have to stop for nullsec wars, this may actually serve to offset the impact of changes to high-end ratting anomalies in nullsec.
Finally, a lot of players just plain like the dynamic nature of play in nullsec. We like the Eve sandbox in its truest form, the wide-open nature of the game.
There are indications that CCP is trying to reduce the parameters of that sandbox; to make the game more manageable, like a Disney experience or World of Warcraft. Maybe dangling easy money and dumbed-down mission profiles at players from high sec is the beginnings of that. Might even work from a business model standpoint. An easier Eve would retain a higher percentage of first-timers who'd be quick to pay for the avatar clothes, golden ammo and painted space ships that are to be a big part of future CCP revenue.
But a disnified Eve won't be the game for me. Having ridden the wild horses of nullsec, a turn on the merry-go-round won't do.
Here's to the wild ones.
18 hours ago
I think it is pretty clear case of unnecessary complexity added a long time ago which ultimately just led people to bunch up in the places where the internet tells them they'll maximize their gains.ReplyDelete
CCP has a clear technical and gameplay reasons to spread people out, including within highsec.
I am a little puzzled by the overall increase in agent quality though...
Bitter-vets with high expectations pay the same as star-eyed new Empire dwellers. I agree that CCP is gambling on softening the game. They also need less bad press about lag, so they are trying to diminish the lure of nullsec. Having survived several major nullsec wars now, I am sad to see them try to push people out of 0.0.ReplyDelete
Nerf anomalies, nerf JB, buff HS missions. The pattern is clear.
The old system was certainly needlessly complex but the new one could be too simple. I'm not sure I'm willing to go back to mission running to further educate my opinion however.ReplyDelete
This will certainly make it easier for folks to grind the standings need to get research agents and the subsequent data cores. Are these agents also being simplified like this? It will make it easier to gain standings for things like jump clones as well as ISK for disposable ships for PvP.
I think making it easier for new people to get into the game and get the resources to move on to other things they might want to do is a good thing. Most of the people who will hate this are bitter vets who haven't run a mission since the good old days when they had to build the agents themselves out of veld they mined in their noobships.
Like you said, I don't think many people from nullsec are going to leave nullsec. This really seems to me like a move made, like you also say, to make the game more accessible to first-timers. And, yeah, there will be a lot of additional consequences to the shift, but when DOESN'T a move made by CCP have a bunch of consequences that they hadn't really thought out?ReplyDelete
I do think that we'll end up with a higher highsec-to-nullsec player ratio, but I really don't expect CCP to (deliberately) compromise the "wild ride" of nullsec.
Though they do all manner of other things, the majority of new players spend their time out of the gates missioning. Some of them get caught up in corps or alliances. Others don't. CCP has made a lot of moves in attempts to get new players "drawn in" to the lowsec and nullsec games. But those games are advanced, and while there might be any number of newbie-friendly corps happy to help introduce them, it takes a certain kind of hardcore-newbie to adapt quickly even then.
If pulling new people into low- and nullsec isn't as effective for player retention as CCP hoped, what's the next best path? Make missions simpler and more profitable. Make the missioning game easier to play and more profitable.
Then make it less interesting.
Then, maybe the new players that keep to missioning will get bored. And maybe some of them will leave. But maybe the accessibility of the missioning game will have kept them around long enough that they've developed some basic skills that could help them elsewhere. Maybe they'll start looking for something more interesting and challenging. Something that is STILL more profitable, despite the missioning changes.
I'm not entirely convinced they want to simplify the sandbox. I think they're reducing the number of forms you need to fill out before they'll give you your first little red, plastic shovel.
I could be way off base with this. Still, even if it isn't plausible, that doesn't say to me that CCP doesn't mean for it to be some magical rising tide that lifts all of our cartoon spaceships.
The net of this is that CCP is making it easier and safer to make money grinding missions in high sec. Meanwhile, remember, they're making it harder to make money by ratting in nullsec. I suspect that these two simple but fundamental changes to the game occurring in close succession is no accident.ReplyDelete
Or to put this part simply:
CCP: We wants lots of people in null sec!
CCP (A few months later): We want people back in empire!
Or even simpler: CCP Grayscale is duh stoopid.
However, while some corporations might move wholesale back to highsec for the easy cash, I think that most of the players presently in nullsec will remain in nullsec.ReplyDelete
-Lets see jump clones: check.
-PI as an income source: check.
-Reaction chains as an income source: check.
-Belt ratting (yeah least optimal option, but...): check.
So, any need to move out of 0.0? Nope. And as you note running missions on a hi-sec alt is not that tough. In fact, if your main has the standings and you can access both alt and main at the same time, then fleet up and get those standings up even faster. Get an ishtar and run level 4 kill missions while watching netflix or doing stuff around the house. Keep said mission runner in an NPC corp and you are immune from war decs too.
I predict in 6-12 months CCP will be rethinking this latest stroke of genius on their part. Because the big alliances will still be there...or if not them other big alliances. There might be periods of instability, but my guess is that the idea of small scale alliances controlling significant swaths of nullsec is probably a pipe dream. Players have shown time and again that they prefer to band together to secure their empires.
As for bringing in more players by dumbing down the entry point...fine by me. If they eventually stumble into null sec somebody new for me to shoot.
I see the 0.0 vs Empire angle, but my first thought when seeing this change was that they were trying to spread the population out in preparation for Incarna.ReplyDelete
Mord's Cafe American is much less cool if it's just one of 400 in Motsu.
Your forgetting they nerfed missions a while back also. If your trying to make money, its not really viable to do missions for the loot/salvage (unless your into metal scraps and meta 0 loot), but for the LP. And where is the best ISK per LP? Sisters of Eve ofc. But wait a second there will be only 1 highsec level 4 combat agent now...ReplyDelete
Don't forget that they are also nerfing the LP gained from doing mission. To get your LP gain back up to par, you need to train the new Level 2 skill. In addition, the increased easiness of missioning will result in more LP store goods, creating lower prices for consumers but less profit for missioners... I think; my survey economics class wasn't all that clear on Loyalty Points.ReplyDelete
"Now, if any level 4 agent will pay out the same amount for the same mission, this means that players don't have to cluster around a few systems in order to optimize level 4 mission rewards. In theory, this means ninja salvagers and high sec pirates and griefers will have slimmer pickings as the level 4 mission runners spread out across high sec. It should also mean that the market for modules and salvagables looted from NPC wrecks should become more diffused as well, rather than remaining concentrated in a few mission oriented market hubs."ReplyDelete
Here I disagree. There are certain trade hubs, such as Jita, Amarr, and Rens that are now established beyond the need to supply missioners. As a result, missioners are going to drift to the market hubs instead of the missioning hubs. They are simply moving location and becoming a little more diffues, but there will still be vast swaths of 'empty' empire space.
@Peter - I'd written a bit that got lost in the editing process saying that I believed existing markets would remain in place with secondary markets developing elsewhere. You're correct, I don't think established market hubs will fail as they've developed beyond their original mission loot sales function.ReplyDelete
Missions were never interesting. This just removes some old cruft - everyone doing level 4's was already in a place with multiple Q20 combat agents, so ultimately not much changes except the new player experience.ReplyDelete