Friday, July 13, 2012

The DC Meetup

For those of you who don't get over to the forums often, I've posted a CTA for a DC Metro Area Meetup in the Eve-O Out of Game Events and Gatherings forum. The meetup will take place on August 7 at a little watering hole a mere stone's throw from DC's Tenlytown/American University Metro.

The operational details:

The Date: Tuesday, August 7 2012
Start Time: 18:00 EST
The Place: Public Tenley
The Address: 4611 41st St NW, Washington, DC 20016

A handful of brave capsuleers have already stepped to the line for the operation.  Alekseyev Karrde is being lobbied heavily to bring chocolate cupcakes. I can't commit on his behalf, but I hear he's a mean hand with the frosting spatula.

Head on over to the forum to RSVP or do so in game so I'll know how much space to reserve. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Comparative Advantages

I've said elsewhere that Goonswarm Federation alliance's DNA has a healthy dallop of nullsec bear in it.  Nullsec bears, as you'll recall, are former highsec carebears who have migrated to nullsec at some point and adapted to that rough an tumble lifestyle with its sovereignty wars, calls to arms, bug-outs and quickly shifting turns of fortune.  Some set aside their carebear ways altogether once they get a taste for fleet combat, but many switch hit.  They play the industrial side of the nullsec game when the skies are clear, and fleet up to do their bit when war clouds loom. 

Though it sounds counter-intuitive, nullsec space can be a fairly safe place for an industrialist to ply his trade when the barbarians are not rushing the gate.  Depending on where in player controlled nullsec one is, one can travel many jumps without encountering another ship.  Quite a contrast from the crowded gates in highsec.  In fact, given the relative peace and quiet of nullsec, along with the plethora of raw materials needed for production so readily at hand, one would think the markets in nullsec would be fairly bursting at the seams with high value goods produced by part time bears.

Alas.  Not so much.

Nullsec markets tend to be much less functional than their highsec counterparts.  There are a number of factors driving this phenomenon; drags, and on occasions outright obstacles, to nullsec manufacturing productivity.  Some of them have to to with a healthy logistics infrastructure, including jump ships and jump bridges that allow goods to move with relative ease from highsec market hubs to the deepest corners of nullsec space.  Others include the relatively high cost and low efficiency of nullsec refining and production services which are often structured by nullsec alliances such that if makes better economic sense to compress rare minerals and jump them to highsec for refining and subsequent production than to attempt the same in nullsec. 

With the exception of items of particular interest to nullsec alliances or items that can only be produced in nullsec (such as capital and supercapital ships) there is little incentive for a nullsec bear to turn his hand to production.  Meanwhile, the obstacles and high overhead associated with nullsec production means that items produced there are not competitive with the same items shipped in from highsec.  The combination of barriers to production and ease of transport mean that nullsec producers' best prices can nearly always be undercut by traders with jumpships.  And, as I pointed out above, the population of nullsec is smaller on a system by system basis than it is in highsec which means less demand for most goods in nullsec than in the highsec market hubs.

Further, the small nullsec customer base means that highest end minerals and moon goo that are not used for nullsec specific products such as supercapitals, and are often controlled at the alliance level, are sold in highsec where the demand and the prices are highest.  As a result, those bears that do produce in nullsec are unlikely to get high value product inputs originating in nullsec at a significantly lower cost than their highsec counterparts. 

While nullsec tends to be safer on a day to day basis than lowsec, it is not a terribly secure place to locate inventory.   The ebb and flow of nullsec sov warfare means that inventory maintained in player owned outposts are subject to loss if the owner's alliance loses control of the outpost.  I've written elsewhere that careful advance planning is required in order to minimize the impact of sovereign space loss on player assets.  This is a non-trivial exercise when dealing with the usual player's collection of ships and fittings.  Moving and securing a high-volume market inventory that may span multiple nullsec outposts in a given regional market during time of war and invasion would require extensive planning and infrastructure.  While investing in such an exit strategy is costly from both a time and ISK standpoint, failure to do so exposes anyone heavily invested in nullsec markets to excessive loss.

Finally, even after the anomalies nerf, ratting is by far the easiest and preferred means of making ISK in nullsec.  Not only does it provide quick and easy ISK to the ratter, the automated taxing of this activity fills corporate and alliance coffers, pays nullsec rents and alliance membership fees, and drives system upgrades. Industrial activity, on the other hand, only fills alliance and corporation coffers through fees on industrial services such as mining and assembly.  As a result, most alliances maintain such fees at a high level, often discouraging or outright banning the use of POS as a means of obtaining those services, in an attempt to eliminate competition to outpost services and maximize outpost service revenues.  Of course the result in such cases is that nullsec productivity is further reduced and, more often than not, stations earn only a fraction of what they might if service charges were properly optimized. 

CCP has been grappling with this problem for some time.  It is, in large part, the reason behind the partial nerf of jump-bridge networks and CCP Greyscale's love affair with nerfing jump freighters.  It is also a bit of an obsession with Mittens and drives much of his "farms and fields" thinking and is, in some part, behind his attacks on high sec mining and trade hubs.  Indeed, Mittens (or a few of his more thoughtful underlings) may be the first nullsec alliance leader to put significant thought to the nullsec industrial production and the balance of trade with highsec.

Unfortunately, the solutions Mittens' economic team have come up to date seem sharply focused on diminishing the highsec side of the equation rather than the development of a robust industrial infrastructure in nullsec.  Rather than lowering the barriers to and creating incentives for production in nullsec, they seem myopically focused on degrading the productivity in highsec in order to bring it into parity with nullsec's structurally and functionally less efficient productivity.

Like many nullsec alliances, Goonswarm is much better disposed toward tearing down than to building up.   This is the road of least resistance Mittens currently seeks to travel in order to get to his goal of a market dominant nullsec.  However, if Mittens' economic ministers are truly interested in developing the farms and fields paradigm, building up nullsec's industrial capacity must become the primary focus of their efforts.  That will take some clever thinking on their part and require an incentives program geared toward creation rather than merely destruction.

Friday, July 6, 2012

The Wind That Shakes the Barley

Innumerable force of Spirits armed,
That durst dislike his reign, and, me preferring,
His utmost power with adverse power opposed
In dubious battle on the plains of Heaven
And shook his throne. What though the field be lost?
All is not lost—the unconquerable will,
And study of revenge, immortal hate,
And courage never to submit or yield
- Milton, 'Paradise Lost'
 Upon a time, the worlds of high, low and null security space were as ships passing in the night; aware of but not truly engaged with one other.  Mittens, not content with the vast wealth provided by holding some of the richest real estate in nullsec, has begun an economic war with high and low security space (as well as with wormhole space - more on that another time) that has blurred the lines of play between the three major parts of New Eden.

I mentioned in Fiddler's War that emergent game play is a door that swings both ways.  As Mittens' nullsec ambitions intrude more and more into empire space, empire has begin some intrusions of their own into Mittens' back yard.  Small stuff at the moment, primarily involving stealthy ships (though a Tuskers crew ran an amusing t1 frig and dessie fleet up a Deklein pipe last week).  And while the denizens of Deklein may shrug them off as inconsequential, even small incursions like these have an impact in the 'for want of a nail' sense.  The Drake that doesn't make it from Deklein to Delve is a Drake Mittens' FCs can't field against his enemies.  Such small acts are the pins upon which the vast doors of history swing.

Having said that, it's time to tighten the noose around Mittens' neck.  To that end, the word is given.  The call is going out.  Saddle up, you bears.  We're going to go shake the Technetium throne.

Now, I don't want you to doubt the unlikely nature of this venture.  This is a long throw in the dark and odds are we'll lose more scraps than we'll win.  But the outcome of the fights is not what matters.  What matters is the mere fact that you resist.  What matters is that you refuse to let some chin-pussy wearing cheese-head write your story for you.  Dubious battle?  Hell yeah.  But one worth the fight.

If you're in, contact me in game or via my gmail address on this page.  Tell me what you can bring to the fight and I'll respond with instructions.  If you have experienced FCs call it out.  If you run stealth operations, call it out.  If you've got hictors/dictors, call it out.  POS buster?  Call it out.  Even if you're a total carebear corporation that can't field a single PvP ship, you can help with supply and transport.
If you can't join the fight, you can still help.  Spread the word.  Tell your friends.  Link to this post in the forums.  Drop message cans at gates.

Every bear counts.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

White Rose Conventicle

As many of you know, Yuki Onna of  the blog White Rose Conventicle dropped out of sight toward the end of May, abruptly disappearing from Eve, Twitter and the blogosphere all at once.  There had been much speculation as to what caused Yuki to exit the Eve player community so suddenly.  Though wardecced by Gooswarm Federation's massive alliance under the new Inferno rules, Yuki seemed to be soldiering on rather blithely at the time and was one of the first to point out that the new rules could be turned on their head, creating a market for bargain-basement wardecs against large nullsec alliances. Thus, the sudden drop of White Rose Conventicle and its author from the radar screen surprised many of those following events at the time.  

Earlier today Yuki surfaced and entered a comment on my post The Presumption of Safety Reconsidered from a few weeks back.  It answers a number of questions raised at the time, and raises some new questions as well.  It certainly bears reading and so I've taken the liberty of publishing Yuki's comment here in full as a stand-alone post. 


Why I Quit EVE

Yuki Onna - July 3, 2012

I have read a number of posts and tweets suggesting, as Poetic Stanziel did the other day, that I "left the game in a huff after Goonswarm wardecced" my corporation The White Rose Conventicle.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

On 25/May/2012:18:04:36 PST, a massive Distributed Denial of Service Attack (DDOS) was launched against my EVE corp website, taking out the entire colo facility and affecting local ATT network service for a number of hours.

This was not "meta-gaming," nothing done "ironically" or "just in play." It was a criminal act; one for which I hold CCP not directly but indirectly responsible.

CCP's gross negligence in failing to restrain and, arguably, fostering over a period of years the growth of a virulent "Lord of the Flies" culture of crowing bullies in EVE Online has succeeded in creating a manifestly unsafe online environment for its paying subscribers and, indirectly, for Internet users beyond the game.

As an IT professional, I saw little alternative but to quit EVE, which I have enjoyed playing on and off since 2007, and to take down and keep down a website I very much enjoyed making and running. I cannot justify further risking a game that CCP has so irresponsibly allowed a relatively few players to make such a rhetorically vicious and, thereby, genuinely dangerous environment. Sadly, it has come to such a pass that EVE Crime is "Real," too.

You who are still free to enjoy EVE, who have not yet been put at real-life risk by being individually targeted to be punished and silenced for speaking your mind, must demand that CCP put a halt to this poisoning of EVE, by whatever means necessary.

CCP must assume its responsibility to the paying subscribers it exposes to an online environment that CCP, not some other entity, creates and manages. CCP must cease to pad its bottom-line by shirking necessary player-behavior management expenses under the convenient pretense that all it provides are "tools which players are free to use as they please." In sum, CCP must face up to its duty to all its subscribers to promote a safe, congenial online environment and to lessen the chance that what happened to me ever happens to you or to any other EVE player.