Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Wealth of Nullsec

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."

Just so.

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.


  1. Income for Corps/Alliances
    - Corptax (available everywhere),
    - Moongoo (available in lowsec and 0.0)

    Income for Single Pilots in 0.0:
    - ratting (about 30mio/h)
    - anomalies (depending on your ship 20 to 60mio/h)
    - transport/trade from highsec: about 50 to 200mio per run, with 5 runs a week. (more you dont get it sold faster)

    Real wealth sources for pilots:
    Highsec Level 4 Missions: 60 to 80mio per hour
    Incursions: 80mio per hour
    Lowsec Level 5 Missions: 700mio per hour
    Wormholes: up to 2BN an hour.

    yes, im sure nerfing nullsec play is a good idea, you are my hero.

  2. The only way this would work is if you shut down PLEXes at the same time. Otherwise, those that were rich IRL would just replace (where they haven't already) those that are time-rich.

    You'd still have super-rich mega alliances run by them because they'd become the only ones able to afford super-caps. They'd use those super-caps to smite any smaller alliance in their way, in just the same manner that the new NC took out Mostly Harmless. To compensate for the loss of 0.0 revenue, they'd just expand their 0.0 holdings or establish protection rackets among the smaller players.

    Of course, if you shut PLEXes down, then you shut off CCP's RL RMT ISK (real ISK, not fake ISK) faucet, so that's not gonna happen.

  3. thecaptains, you're nuts. There's nobody in this game making that kind of money from highsec, lowsec, or WH farming. Take highsec missions: that's about 30-40 mil/hour, with occasional pulses to 50 if you get a particularly good storyline or loot drop. Your wormhole number is just silly. Proof or STFU on that one.

    On top of your inflating those sources, you've greatly deflated the 0.0 sources. On those rare occasions that I would rat in Pure Blind (pre-nerf), I could make 110-120 mil/hour without too much trouble. And the richest EVE player I know (he is a multi-trillionaire, with a T) made his ISK from 0.0 market trading. He owns a dozen or so JFs that he uses to buy goods and skill books in Empire and run them out to 0.0 stations. He gets agreements with sov owners for this service.

  4. ISK sinks need to be turned off everywhere in the game. Our current supercapital (and powerblock) problem is a result of mudflation. As the average ISK/player rises, things lose value (though they may stay the same price.) Ideally, the ISK entering and the ISK leaving the game would be roughly neutral, only growing when new players enter the game (healthy inflation v. none at all). The problem with this is that reducing capsuleer income is not fun. While Dr. E may rage against the amount of ISK entering the game, the game design team is loath to make money harder to earn for players, an act which makes the game less enjoyable.

    That is until, of course, that value is so diluted that new players cannot make the money necessary to play the game. There are parallels with America's housing bubble. Experts warned against the willy-nilly handing out of mortgages, but banks wanted to keep raking in short term profits and regulators didn't want to upset big business, so all was well and good until it came crashing down.

  5. Keep the PLEX. The "rich players will own Eve' argument doesn't have much foundation.

    It would take a critical mass of players willing to sink tens of thousands of dollars into the game for limited return on that investment in order to fund an internet spaceship empire like the one you're describing.

    How many people do you think are using primarily RL money to fund major alliances now, and how long would they be willing to sustain that sort of investment if the larger ISK fountains in their holdings dried up?

    As for protection rackets, they're already in place.

  6. While I agree with your post in context, only major ISK Faucet in 0.0 is anomalies (and ratting) and those have already seen nerfbat. Past that, all the other major sources of "income" are not faucets but transfers.

    I think major issue is lack of ISK sinks. POS Fuel was one of major sinks and CCP removed it making ISK transfer.

    BTW, only ISK Faucet in Wormholes is blue items sold to NPCs. Everything else is ISK transfer.

  7. If the game were changed such that few people have super-caps, it wouldn't take very many of them to be a major power.

  8. Are you mental?

    0.0 is horrible income, and a dumb place to fly moneymaking ships. I make my money in industry in hisec, and and also with a wormhole alt. Those are good ways to make A safe 100-120m/hr.

    0.0 sanctums suck, I've tried a tengu and a Thanatos before giving up on the 40-50m/hr.

    Try to remember that everyone I thunderdome/delve is doing on the backs of a good bankroll, and alts in hisec. Further, new alliance mates trying to fly around in bc's and hac's are sorely disappointed when they try to make their living out here. It's just a dumb idea outside of blue NAPfest space, and poor income in any case.

  9. 2Billion per hour in a wh? PER PLAYER?

    I rather think not.

    A billion in a C6, split between 6-10 payers maybe, but how many C6's can you find in a row ? and certainly not hourly

    And at what risk ?

  10. After trying all income sources except lowsec L5's, I understand this is the proper isk/hour list:

    Income for Single Pilots in 0.0:
    - ratting: 30-60 mil/hour, ship and location dependant
    - anomalies: 50-70 mil/hour, luck based
    - transport/trade from highsec: 5-500 mil/hour. Highly capital intensive. When starting with 1 bil isk, I made 10 mil per hour worked hauling and setting up orders. With 10 bil to spend on stuff to trade, I was making around 200 mil/hour (requires a cyno alt).

    Highsec Level 4 Missions: 50-80 mil/hour, ship dependant
    Highsec Incursions: 80-120 mil/hour, group dependant. I consider this an insanely safe isk fire hose.
    Lowsec Level 5 Missions: No Idea
    Wormholes: 80-200 mil/hour, group and location dependant. Note: no actual ISK is generated by the server, and payoff only comes after you sell manufactured goods.

    I still can't figure out of Mord is right. I suspect that turning off isk faucets in 0.0 will act as a filter, forcing all carebares back to highsec while keeping the pvp'ers in place. Not sure if that would really increase PVP at all.

  11. Arggam, WH isn't 100% correct. There are Blue items as I've heard them commonly called that are bought by NPC Corporations making them ISK Faucet. However, bulk of profits are not ISK Faucets as majority of income comes from manf.

  12. In my opinion, they had to nerf null plex/anoms due to the huge isk sink they generated in incursions. I don't believe the risk/reward ratio is correct for plex/anoms vs incursions. So, null gave up something for a new shiney game addition that two large collections of brosefs pretty much have cornered the market on (shield vs armor incursion running in high sec). At zero risk.

    So, you want to nerf null even more, then nerf across the board according to risk vs reward while accounting for isk loss via ship losses. That means you nerf null, you nerf everything, Especially high sec mission running, and maybe even wh's (I made quite a bankroll in a wh and only lost two ships in an engagement we started, none to rats).

  13. BRAVO, kind sir. I hope CCP is reading this carefully. (But they aren't... ...they're too busy planning monocles and stuff)

  14. Arrgam, I'd want to see proof of that high-sec L4 missions number. I spent a long time doing this, both pre- and post-nerf, and 30-40 mil/hour for L4s is typical post-nerf, with pulses to 50 mil.

    Having done incursions up through HQ and mom sites, I can say with experience that your Incursion number is also exaggerated. 50-60 is typical, with pulses up to 75 on that. And it is NOT risk-free. In fact, it's the only type of ratting in EVE where you're pretty much guaranteed to lose a ship to the rats sooner or later.

    I've personally experienced 100-120/hour consistently in WHs, but that was pre-Sleepers buff, so I think your 200 number is also greatly exaggerated. I suppose this number is just possible if you get a great Talocan cruiser drop, but it's not even close to typical.

    Your null-sec ratting number, as I said earlier, is on the low side for sanctums/havens, where I again have experience. 45-50/hour is a good minimum with one ship, but most people rat with two or three, which doubles or slightly over doubles that number. So 90-100/hour is more typical there. Half that number for parts of null-sec without access to sanctums/havens.

    Anomalies, as you say, is VERY highly luck-dependent.

    With all that said, keep in mind that incursions and WHs require a group to be successful. That leaves null-sec ratting as the most profitable consistent solo means of making ISK in EVE.

  15. I think the issue with 0.0 would be better solved with changes to the sov-system than by solely tweaking the isk to be made there.

    It should be pretty easy to take and hold a single system, a 'base system' if you like, and get progressively harder to control systems as you expand. Anything over 4-5 systems should be unusual.

    This could be done by giving each alliance a 'home node' to signify the home system, give it defensive bonuses, hell let people anchor guns at stations and things. Make it possible to defend it well if you have a high income (and so probably hold 3-4 systems), and make it require upkeep, so that if you loose influence over the other systems, bleed members etc you cant afford it any more.

    That'd get lots of small alliances and pvp going.

  16. 1. Get rid of macro miners.

    2. Make supercaps expensive to own (upkeep) as well as expensive to build.

    Problem solved.

  17. "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."

    If you read the CSM meeting minutes, it can be discerned as they are essentially planning the same, but it will come more gradually to prevent larger uproars. In the end though, CCP are the Jovians :D They may be wrong but they can try to change the direction as they want.

  18. Jester -

    I made a mistake on my estimates: I have not done highsec missions since the nerf, andI was assuming wh and incursions are done with the fleets I fly with.

    Back in the day, I personally made 40 mil isk/hour missioning, and my super pimped out nightmare friends made twice that. My numbers are old, so I will defer to you on that.

    For wormholes and incursions, I fly with some very experienced people in a very tight fleet compositions. We finish vanguard sites in between 6 and 8 minutes (including warping to the next one), with payouts of 10.5 mil/site, yielding ~90 mil/hour. 120 mil/hour is too much, you are correct. I confused "me" with "everyone else".

    I regularly got 50m isk/hour/ship with a tengu/thanny setup in 0.0 sanctums post-nerf.

  19. Arggam -

    I assume the 90 - 120 mil was distributes among the fleet. How many players in a usual fleet, and was the take distributed evenly, or by some other formula?

  20. Actualy not :P incursions will give you 10.5mil per char up to 10 person in fleet.
    And yes you can run them in that little time with a proper fleet.
    So the 90 to 120mil mark is doable with a group of solid players.

  21. @Mord: for incursion Vanguard sites, the maximum ISK payout is 15 million ISK per pilot, paid on a per-pilot basis. However, to get the maximum payout, you need to be in 0.0, and have a fleet size between 5 and 10 people involved in the site. High-sec rewards are multiplied by 0.7, so 10.5 mil per pilot if your fleet size is between 5 and 10. Smaller and larger fleets get smaller payouts. The graph detailing this is here:

    Once you have your fleet size, it comes down to how fast you can do an individual Vanguard site, and how much competition you have for those sites.

    In my experience, if you have NO competition and a fleet size of 9-10 average ships with good to decent pilots, you can complete the sites in nine minutes per. Assuming you take few or no breaks, that's where my 75 mil/hour peak came from. But most of the time, you have at least a little bit of competition, meaning you have to skip some of the sites as other fleets take them.

    Arggam is claiming seven minutes for a Vanguard site, which I could see as being JUST achievable if you had a perfect mix of ships and pilots, but it certainly isn't the norm! OTOH, 90 mil/hour WOULD be easily achievable in 0.0 because 75mil/hour divided by the 0.7 penalty for high-sec = 107.