Welcome to the twenty-fifth installment of the EVE Blog Banter, the monthly EVE Online blogging extravaganza created by CrazyKinux. The EVE Blog Banter involves an enthusiastic group of gaming bloggers, a common topic within the realm of EVE Online, and a week or so to post articles pertaining to the said topic. The resulting articles can either be short or quite extensive, either funny or dead serious, but are always a great fun to read! Any questions about the EVE Blog Banter should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Check for other EVE Blog Banter articles at the bottom of this post!
This month’s topic comes to us from @Tetraetc – “Tetra’s EVE Blog” – who asks: “Have Alliances and the sovereignty system limited the amount of PVP and RP potential in Null sec? Imagine a Null Sec where anyone could build outposts wherever. Would the reduction of the alliance game mechanic, and the removal of the sovereignty game mechanics (or the modifcation of it from Alliance level to Corp level for that matter) force more PVP into Null sec, or would giant power blocs like the NC still form themselves?”
The topic of this installment of CKs blog banter series is about alliances and nullsec, two topics which I have only a very limited view of (I was a Goon once! not that this surprises you of course.).
That does not mean I do not have an opinion of it, in particular the mechanics involved in sovereignty and the amount of wealth that comes from being in command of specific regions of space.
From the pirate perspective, nullsec is a wasteland. I know some people are very succesful roaming around down there, but the reality is you will generally find one of two things in null:
- Endless swathes of nothing
- Ginormous blobs
Small gangs are a very rare occurance in nullsec in my limited experience, but let us first address the first bullet point.
The void that sleeps
A quick glance at Dotlan shows us that most of the vast nullsec empires consist of a relatively busy core set of systems (usually each “belonging” to either a group of corporations, or a pet alliance) that have quite some population, surrounded by a large buffer zone of space that contains either nobody at all most of the day, apart from the occasional ratter.
This is not surprising in a sense, it is however not conducive to exciting gameplay, in my view the problem here is that large alliances control far too much space; in a sense all those many systems are divided up between a few alliances and large amounts of space are left unused. It is far too cheap and easy to control dozens of systems, and it’s a shame to see so much space go to waste, when instead there could be other groups controlling them.
Why would I love to see a more “balkanized” nullsec, and how should this be accomplished?
I’m glad you asked! If nullsec consisted of more entities controlling a smaller amount of systems it would free up space for new entities to develop, and the systems would be developed more by their owners and more densely populated, simple headmath tells me: more people in close proximity = more conflict.
And conflict is good.
It could be accomplished either by artificially limiting the number of systems an alliance could control compared to their number of members, or by just increasing cost of ownership and maintenance; CCP did a half-hearted (or perhaps misguided) attempt at this prior, however the corresponding screwup with moon products has left the NC in posession of such unthinkable amounts of income that the economy is literally starting to fall to pieces as a result; this combined with (as increasingly becoming apparent) the absolutely ridiculous level of botting and exploiting that is rife in nullsec means that if you happen to own the right bits of space you can afford practically anything.
Why it won’t happen:
- There is a significant amount of real world money involved in EVE’s nullsec empires
- The established large groups have had so much time to build wealth and entrench it’s practically impossible for new entities to ever dislodge them
- CCP is passively condoning the rampant botting in nullsec. If they try to claim they don’t know what is happening, they are lying. Say it to my face CCP devs, I fucking dare you.
- Even if costs were increased or space limited, the entrenched nullsec powers can simply bully others or split into smaller groups to maintain their space, they are in a very real sense too wealthy to stop at this point.
Sadly the above leaves us with vast empty amounts of space, that see even less activity for the most part than the failed desolation that is lowsec. Significant reforms, redesigns and a hardline action against botting, real money trading and piss-poor moon balancing needs to occur to make nullsec healthy again.
And by that I do mean banning every single person, by IP if they must, that is using bots. And I also mean a “one-strike you are out” warning to alliances that condone or protect botters, allowing them to make use of their space. One warning, and the result of noncompliance will simply be forced disbanding and reposession of all alliance assets.
That may sound harsh, but the truth of the matter is nullsec has a seedy underbelly, where real money talks. This is a very bad thing for the game, and unless action is taken, will be it’s downfall.
The blob and the bubble
The second point I wished to address is the two things that (while not unique to) define nullsec warfare: Blobs and bubbles.
While bubbles are of course a very convenient way to force combat with another group, they also discourage small roaming gangs to some degree, most pirates I know, for example, loathe going into nullsec because it is far, far too easy to catch someone in a bubble and nuke the bejesus out of them before they can get clear or to a gate. Far easier than actually pointing and keeping someone pointed using regular warp disruptors or scrams. An often cited reason to never go into nullsec is that players dislike the extremely high risk of podding following ship loss. While not a problem to nullsec dwellers with their easy access to very high amounts of income, this is definitely a turn off for lowsec dwellers.
I’m not sure how to change bubbles to make for better gameplay, it might be worth looking into.
The second part, the massive blobbing, is a result of the size of null and in a way, because of local chat. Local chat combined with mostly empty systems form a very powerful defense against being attacked; it’s extremely easy to see when someone who is not blue to you enters local and to bail. Im of the opinion that, barring getting caught on a gate, you have to be PROFOUNDLY incompetent to be attacked when you do not wish to be in nullsec.
And often proposed change (by nullsec dwellers and pirates alike) would be implementing a delayed local chat like it exists in Wormholes. I’m quite partial to this idea; suddenly it becomes a double-blind exercise in U-boat warfare, and your scouts become invaluable, along with your individual skill at using the directional scanner.
This doesn’t solve the problem of enormous response fleets to any sort of aggression, but from a pirate perspective sneaking in and killing something, then running from the overwhelming response is part of the fun.
Capital idea olf chap.
The final aspect I want to talk about (though it sort of goes hand in hand with blobs and accumulated wealth) is capital ships.
To put it succinctly, capital ships are the biggest clusterfuck of terrible game design I have ever seen. Nothing about them scales right compared to non-capital ships, and even within the capital/supercapital subclass of ships balance is completely out of whack.
Now, I am not a cap pilot as you know, I don’t know all the nitty gritty details of balance issues with shield vs. armor capitals, or the apparent lack of a proper role for dreadnaughts.
What I do know is that the comparative hitpoints, damage and mobility of capital ships is not a logical evolution when compared to battleships and battlecruisers.
Cap ships represent such an overwhelmingly huge amount of stats compared to all the smaller classes of ships, they essentially make them obsolete except when a cyno-jammer is present. I would like to see this corrected.
In my view a capital ship should have no more than three times the hitpoints and damage of a battleship, and a supercarrier no more than three times that. 5 battleships should be able to take down an unescorted carrier in short order,while in most cases they can already do so, it takes a truly ridiculous amount of time… the HP level difference is just too massive.
Conversely, I believe dreadnaughts should have their weapon systems looked at so they can hit battleships and moving capitals more readily, think along the lines of BS vs. BC.
I would also very much love to see the number of active titans GREATLY REDUCED to the levels of older days; No alliance should own more than 5 of those beasts in my view, and they should be very powerful and hard to take down. But the current state of dozens and dozens of titans and motherships on the field is beyond ridiculous.
In keeping with those adjustments to pull capital ships back in line with a more logical progression of hitpoints and damage, structure hitpoints should also be reduced. It should not take hours and hours to destroy a large POS with 20 battleships, it should be more in line with 20 minutes. I want to encourage a more fluid and quick succession of assaults, as well as force alliances to be ready to defend their POSs and infrastructure more actively. Optionally this might become a function for supercarriers as well; make them a good ship to use to repair and actively strengthen structure and POS defenses (with diminishing returns of course, so that piling 30 SCs on a POS doesnt effectively render them inviolable)
Combining these changes with measures to make the population more dense is a step in the right direction in my view, after which will follow my final thought.
Make space matter more.
This may strike you as an odd header, but allow me to explain. I think it is a damned shame a lot of space goes largely unused, as I said. I think it should be made more important to develop the infrastructure of owned space to get full use out of it. This should represent a lengthy and expensive investment by all the players in the owning alliance to seed their space with stations, POSs, other structures, and to generally develop the system. I think it is wrong that someone can simply put up a POS on technetium moon in a system they own and begin raking in the billions… make it so that more development is needed before space becomes profitable. Billions of isk should not begin flowing in from moons, belts and anomalies with only a minimal investment.
And this should not just be a monetary investment either, actual statistics of how the system is used should play a part, this could likewise entail making it possible for small gangs to raid into enemy territory and cause both direct and indirect damage; as a loose example, the statistics for friendly ships lost in your space should affect the quality of the system: this means that NOT defending your space will degrade the quality, and along with less HP on targets will allow for piratical raids on undefended infrastructure.
I’ll probably develope these ideas a bit further later. This is just a direct brain-dump during work 😉