In the latest minutes of the CSM summit with CCP, the near overwhelming advantage Motherships bestow on their owners was a point of discussion:
The current situation with Super Carriers is that they are just not dying, they do large quantities of damage to other Capital ships and sub Capital ships – in fact they can be wielded in any situation with very good effects.... There were some examples given of how easy it is to move Super Carriers due to their jump range – allowing extreme force projection by relatively small number of pilot flying Super Carriers.While he agreed that Super Carriers are out of balance, developer CCP Greyscale seems strangely resistant to the idea of reducing the Super Carriers utility out of apparent concern for the lot of Super Carrier pilots. Simply nerfing Super Carriers, Greyscale said, "imposes a great cost on [Super Carrier] pilots".
Now that's a bit strange.
In imposing nerfs on various ships over the years CCP's policy over the years has been to put the health of the game over the interests of pilots of a class of ship than had gotten out of balance. Investing heavily in any overpowered ship or technology has always been a calculated risk in New Eden, as such ships are routinely targeted by CCP for re-balancing. We are all aware that, unlike Star Trek's Scotty, CCP can change the laws of physics on you.
But, suddenly, crocodile tears are being shed for the poor, poor Super Carrier pilots.
Cynic that I am, I suspect a for-profit company might have a financial motive for this sudden swell of concern.
See, a healthy number of Super Carrier owners pay for all or part of their Super Carriers using real money. A Nyx Super Carrier on the RMT market these days runs about $1000 US. Assuming a 700 million ISK return on a $35 US Plex purchase, that rounds out to about 19 billion ISK, which is on par with the in game cost of the ship if you include a healthy profit margin. The build cost of a Nyx these days runs 12 to 14 billion ISK including materials and the blueprint copy. That nets out to about $700 US worth of Plex purchases to buy a bargain-basement priced Nyx in-game. Mind, that's assuming you're lucky enough to have someone who'll build it for you at cost.
That, my friends, is money in the bank for CCP assuming those ISK are bought through CCP's Plex program.
And then, of course, there's all that money changing hands outside the game for Super Carrier-piloting characters, the right to purchase the next Super Carrier coming off the assembly line and all those expensive Super Carrier-specific implants.
With some of that money coming in as legitimate Plex income to CCP, it's not surprising that the developers have a healthy concern for keeping Super Carrier pilots happy. And if some of the people with an interest in the illegitimate supercapital trade had some degree of influence over CCP, why there'd even more leverage for maintaining the Super Carriers' position as the "must-have" item in nullsec.
Now, given the Super Carrier's ability to project power over a large area, there's one change in Eve that would make it even more powerful, even more essential that it is now. It's a change that would brighten the day of Super Carrier pilots everywhere and turn the Super Carrier market white-hot. It can be done without even touching the Super Carrier, and the CSM is on record in the Summit minutes as having approved the change.
Get rid of jump-bridges.
One of the advantages of holding sovereignty in nullsec has been the ability to install jump-bridge networks. Most readers of The Edge will know that jump bridges in two different systems can be linked, allowing the player to jump directly from one system to the other without use of a gate. Thus, what might be a tedious ten jump trip by conventional gate travel can be condensed to a single jump. A well-planned jump bridge network allows sovereignty holders and their allies to move across an entire region of nullsec in only a few jumps.
Needless to say, jump-bridges allow an alliance to project conventional (i.e. subcapital) force over a much larger area than normal gate travel would permit. Alliances employing efficient jump bridge networks enjoy superior mobility over an attacking force and can provide just-in-time logistics support for both offensive and defensive operations.
During the CSM summit, CCP Greyscale proposed eliminating jump bridges from the game. Part of CCP's rational for this is that decreased mobility will increase the costs of supporting allies, fragment coalitions and (get ready for it) "...may make it easier for small alliances to set up shop, with less supercapital curb stomping."
Apparently mind-altering substances are cheap and plentiful in Iceland.
If you get rid of the jump bridges, the supercapital becomes the only item that can project force over a wide area. Defending alliances will no longer able to move and concentrate conventional fleets quickly in response to a Super Carrier attack, making Super Carriers much less vulnerable to take-downs by defending forces. Barring poor scouting or bad luck, the Super Carriers' superior mobility will allow them run rings around enemy subcapital forces and strike their enemies more or less at will.
Unless, of course, those enemies have enough Super Carriers to counter the attacker's Super Carriers. So, contrary to CCP Greyscale's expectations, small, Super Carrier-poor alliances will be subject to supercapital curb-stompings on a regular basis.
In short, the removal of Jump Bridges amounts to a Super Carrier buff. CCP's going to need a bigger cash register, 'cause I smell an arms race.
Ironically, in the same meeting minutes CSM members supporting a nerf of the Super Carrier observe that supercapital blobs are quickly becoming an 'I win' button in nullsec engagements. Thanks to the CSM's thoughtless acquiescence to CCP's jump-bridge elimination plan, they've ensured that the "I Win" button will be standard equipment on even small gangs of Super Carriers.
In proposing the elimination of jump bridges, CCP Greyscale cautioned that it would result in a chaotic transition, or as he put it, "everything will go to shit.”. In other words CCP is preparing to inflict an unprecedented amount of suffering on most of nullsec's current residents in order to accelerate their goal of shrinking nullsec alliances, begun in Dominion. That's an interesting contrast to their desire to avoid upsetting Super Carrier pilots.
Apparently, Super Carrier pilots feel pain more than the rest of us.