So here's CCP's nullsec mission statement (for now) as I understand it:
Populate nullsec with lots and lots of small to middling-sized alliances that will spend their time happily blowing each other to smithereens.
Yes, I know; getting capsuleers to spend their hard earned real money on micro transactions (RM2MT) is mission critical for CCP in its own way. But for simplicity sake let's keep the discussion to ships in space game-play. In that sense, the common direction I'm hearing from folk like CCP Greyscale is smaller coalitions, smaller fleets, moar PvP.
Now, I say that's the mission statement "for now" because the mission statement for nullsec tends to drift a bit over time. With Tyrannis, the goal was to shake up nullsec and bring in new players - builders and makers as well as PvPers. Then, back in December, it was announced to the CSM that PvP in nullsec was dropping off; an assertion apparently based on data covering a three month period. The supporting data/numbers were never released and CCP hasn't been forthcoming as to whether that trend continued beyond that initial three-month window. CCP's conclusions and underpinning data went unquestioned by the CSM. Mind, chances are it wouldn't have mattered if the CSM had raised questions.
Bottom line, the designers weren't liking the unexpected outcomes they'd created while chasing the last mission statement and decided on a new nullsec direction.
Of course, the overall direction CCP's designers are trying to take game-play can get confusing, because they tend to talk in more in terms of the means than the end. The goal - making nullsec home to small alliances rather than grand coalitions - tends to get lost as the designers hyper-focus on their preferred means rather than the end goal. If fact, the means seem to become ends in their own right.
For example, CCP Greyscale tends believes more PvP can be had by nerfing Jump Freighters and consolidating desirable nullsec resources into islands of wealth. His reasoning is that this will motivate more PvP as players fight over those resources. And PvP does happen. However, possession of these resources provides such a sovereignty warfare advantage, that only massive coalitions already in possession of some of these islands of wealth, have the wherewithal to dispossess another alliance or coalition of them. As a result, nullsec wealth is becoming consolidated into fewer and fewer hands. Thus the entry costs to taking and holding sov in nullsec, rather than getting lower and within reach of a small to middling alliance, have become higher than ever.
Then there is the professionalization of nullsec. Access to vast in-game wealth has allowed a subset of the nullsec player community to dedicate themselves to the game full time, leaving the recreational players at a profound disadvantage. Which allows the professional player to acquire even more nullsec territory and the associated wealth. Wash, rinse, repeat.
Now there's nothing wrong with the professional/subsidized Eve player. It's not against the EULA and many players might envy the ability to spend one's day playing internet spaceships (unless it's being played at gunpoint in a Chinese prison). However, if the consolidation of vast amounts of in-game wealth in nullsec is being used to generate real world income in order to fund professional play, we have a problem.
Of course, the trouble with RMT is that it's hard to prove, and the penalties for getting caught are too weak to serve as a disincentive to the practice. It's pretty much accepted as a fact of life. Nothing for it. Life as usual. These aren't the droids we're looking for. Move along.
So consider this solution: Take away the wealth.
Yes, I know. Those of you sitting on major pipelines of rent, mineral, moon-goo or ratting income streams are probably clutching your chests right now and hyperventilating. Take it easy. Breathe in. Breath out. Calm yourselves. Tranquillo.
The problem with nullsec is the large-bore isk faucets to be found there. Even limiting the number of these isk faucets as was done in the anomalies nerf doesn't solve the problem - it only magnifies the advantages to those who possess the big isk faucets. They simply rain too much money down upon those below.
Suppose however, just suppose, that every nullsec region was as resource poor as Providence. No Sanctum anomalies. No Technetium moons. Wealth to be had, of course, but diffused wealth that doesn't create disincentives to every activity but ratting, CTAs and building supercapitals
"But Mord," you say, "If you turn off the big isk faucets, how will my alliance fund a replacement if I lose my supercapital?"
"But Mord," you cry, "If you turn off the big isk faucets, how will I justify the high rents I charge my nullsec tenants?"
"But Mord," you wail, "If you turn off the big isk faucets, I'll lose my RMT income stream."
Consider Delve for a moment. There's not a lot of isk being made in Delve these days, and yet there's a lot of PvP going on there. Are they fighting over the resources? Not so far as I can discern. They are fighting for a place in the sun, a constellation or a region to call their own. They are fighting because Delve has become the go-to place for welter-weight PvP. They are fighting for the joy of it.
They're fighting because it's fun.
If CCP turns off the big isk faucets in nullsec, nullsec will not become a ghost town. Quite the contrary. I think it will be a much more vital place. I think the population will spread out more, the coalitions will become smaller and the alliances more independent and self-contained. Supercapital blobs and the ultra-wealthy alliances and coalitions that fund them will wither and largely disappear, having lost the means that sustains them. Eve players will be free to simply play the game, to carve out a small place of their own in nullsec, build their civilizations and feud with the neighbors.
The isk faucets in nullsec are far too large. They fund the organizations and enable the behaviors that are choking the life and the fun out of nullsec play.
Shut them down.
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