Friday, June 24, 2011

The Banality of Nullsec

"You're a dull boy. Dull as plainsong. La-la-la, forever on one note."
                     James Goldman - The Lion in Winter
If I haven't been writing too much about nullsec, it's simply that there isn't much of interest in nullsec about which to write. The big picture for the second quarter of the year has been the triumph of the supercapital, the fall of the Northern Coalition and the transformation of Real Money Trading's role from CCP's public enemy number one to that of a critical revenue stream in CCP's business strategy.

As we roll into the third quarter of 2011, the Drone Russian Forces (DRF) and their vassal alliances hold roughly seventy percent of nullsec.In the North, Goonswarm suddenly finds itself subcapital specialists in a game dominated by hostile supercapital fleets. The Goons feign nonchalance while scrambling to cobble together a credible supercapital force - a task made easier by all the corporations cast loose upon the flood by the Northern Coalition's disintegration.

In the South, other elements of the Deklein Coalition have tied their fortunes to Fountain and Querious. This has stretched thin the tether between members of DC, further weakening the Goon's position. Meanwhile, Against All Authorities (-A-) and their allies are preparing for invasion. Recall that -A- reclaimed their former stomping grounds in Teneferis, lost to them in last September's invasion of their space by White Noise, The Initiative and Pandemic Legion. As I wrote last month, White Noise simply pulled out of the region, intending to take it back once matters with the NC were resolved.

Delve and Querious are the beaches upon which many refugee's from NC's ill-starred fortunes have washed ashore. Some arrive in the form of slimmed down NC alliances, while others have migrated  to alliances already resident. Everyone seems to want a piece of that storied space. With the DRF & Co. occupying so much high of the high value nullsec real estate, they're among the few remaining regions worth a serious tussle that aren't locked down by larger powers.

PL makes noises about including the DRF among their targets once their current contract ends, but I don't take that seriously for a number of reasons I'll go into another time. If PL does attack the Russians, PL will either be gone or much diminished by the turn of the year. They might seek permission to hunt DRF vassals. However, most likely they'll join the mosh pit that Delve is becoming and play there until the DRF or its vassals need assistance and call them back to heel.

So. What can we look for in the next quarter? Same song, slightly different words. Indications are that CCP will not apply any significant nerf to the supercapitals in the foreseeable future. These very expensive, must-have toys are, simply put, too valuable as a potential source of income for CCP as they plan extending microtransactions beyond vanity items to key elements of Eve-play.

The game deteriorates. CCP, hyper-focused on turning the player community into a massively parallel ATM has lost sight of Eve as an entertainment. The imbalance introduced by the enhanced supercapitals only grows worse. The Incarna technology injection has bogged down game performance. And Helicity Bosun, the person who caught CCP in an outright lie viz the intent of microtransactions has been banned from the game.

It's going to be a long Summer.


  1. Don't disrespect the 10,000 m3 walk in closet. Aldo would pout.

  2. Unn hit the nail on the head. We're all srs gamers, and there is no other game out there srs enough for us! CCP has a monopoly on the sandbox, and they'll do whatever they damn well please until another company takes a stab at it.

  3. I'm here for the entertainment. So are you.

    If the sandbox stops being interesting and fun, or is made less sandboxy in order to meet CCP's business goals, even the srs gamers will look for fun elsewhere - at least until CCP can get itself sorted out.

    It would be a pity, but it could happen.

  4. EVE players think they are more tough and sophisticated than the average MMO player, yet all the quitting over unofficial ideas and things that MIGHT happen at some undetermined future date shows otherwise. Helicity is a big example. You didn't mention that ban came from the threats to an employee. You can say that was CCP's excuse, but others have complained as vociferously as Helicity without the personal threats and haven't been banned. Good riddance. Helicity may believe he is a martyr and has everyone's ear, but all I hear is a temper tantrum from a tot. He can go make in the image of kugutsmen and make-believe that they are huge influences on EVE, and not just the name of a forum for bitter quitters.

    I do think people have valid reasons to quit if this patch ruined their gameplay. It didn't change mine at all, for good or bad (except for the throngs of whiners outside the market hubs attempting to crash the servers). CQ is just like an animated wallpaper. I don't have to use it for anything. If it becomes the sole method of interaction for my ships, hangar, and agents, I will become very unhappy. I don't have to buy the monocle or the boots. If the uptake doesn't meet expectations, they will adjust it.

    I suspect when the bugs are addressed shortly, most people will acknowledge that playing today is not much different from playing last week. Until firm dates and features are announced, play goes on very much like before...

  5. "CCP seems to have outright lied to us about their plans with regard to our greatest fears for microtransactions."

    OK...the real issue is I haven't seen any such plan. Employees, no matter their title, brainstorming or shooting the sh*t from the tops of their heads to an internal-only newsletter is not a company's plan.

    Helicity may have been alarmed that the topic was even mentioned anywhere. As a supposedly informed, concerned, and respected member, he had the opportunity to tell the community to remind CCP of their promise. Instead he spread the information out of context and threatened those employees who pointed it out. Anyone who reads the whole newsletter understands that Helicity saw some information and misrepresented to everyone in an attempt to gain attention. I hope he can parlay his attention spike into a reality show, and all those who "have his back" can tune into: "Drama-Whore"

  6. The big question is, what happens if Pandemic Legion likes Perpetuum Online better than Eve? Word on the street is that PL is going to try out the sci-fi robot game.

  7. The fact that CCP is unwilling to make the statement is a strong indication that the matter is, not only on the table, but simply a matter of when and how.

    It would not surprise me if the CSM was deliberately kept out of the loop on this as they are, to my understanding, four-square against any such thing. Breaking the news to CSM would be part of CCP's 'socialization' strategy for pay to play.

    Given that non-vanity items are to be purchased using micro-transaction in Dust514, the idea that Eve won't go the same way is unreasonable.

    I don't see CCP making a lot of money selling $20 shirts to the current player community. Soon enough CCP will announce they can't make their revenue targets that way and, as much as they regret it, business needs have forced them to extend micro-transactions to some minor game-play items like faction status and special faction ammunition. And then special golden supercapital fittings and implants. And then to golden supercapitals. And then nullsec sovereignty fees.

    "I win" buttons are only bad if CCP can't make money on them.

  8. It wouldn't shock me if the rash of unsubs and the massive fan backlash was enough to steer them away from golden ammo, at least for a while. It doesn't seem entirely unlikely to me that CCP might be taking its time to answer as a consequence of taking a careful measure of their options.

    Of course, they could also be poised to throw golden, diamond-studded super-ultra-capitals at us. I can't really say.

    In any case, if nullsec on the whole's gotten a bit dull, perhaps we could use the interlude to poke our heads in on Providence?

    That is, if there's anything going on there that's worth discussing.

  9. Providence? You mean like the entire membership of Otherworld Empire, sov holder of 9UY4-H, creating an account in Perpetuum?

  10. I take issue with the disingenuous nature of CCP's communication with its public. That "quality" was evident in the reasons they gave for the nullsec nerf as obvious PR fluff, hardly masking their true intentions, as much discussed here and elsewhere. It is further evident in their own internal communiques and in how drastically the message inherent therein differs from what is communicated outwardly to the playerbase, much more the CSM. Failing to find a modicum of their contempt within the disparity gets harder and harder.

    From what I've seen, this is only one more manifestation of a larger problem within the corporate culture of not being able to drop themselves into the crucible and turn an honest inward gaze upon their own shortcomings: In short, the cult of personality at the top has started swallowing its own kool-aid and pissing it out all over us. I hope they can pull of the improbable and historically unlikely to turn the arrogance back around.

  11. While I myself am not in Provi (my corp, M.Corp is in MH, fighting off stabs at our sov by the Venal Coalition), our industrial arm, M.Corp Engineering (under the guise of M.PIRE alliance) has bought some space down there to carebear it up. CVA, however, was angered by the fact that we didn't inform them that we would be taking sov (which we actually did, but vOv). Thus, M., GOAT, and ECHO are on CVA's KOS list after buying Ewoks/Evoke sov. Small and Medium gang PvP is rampant, but CVA is the only Provi power that has supercaps, so should they decide to take the offensive, our miners could be in trouble.