Blog Banter #25 Nullsec and sov.

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 crazykinux@gmail.com. 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?”


Introduction 

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 😉


28 thoughts on “Blog Banter #25 Nullsec and sov.

  1. Baa

    Interesting points I’m going to comment on some of them as a nullsec dweller.

    Botting:
    Please CCP ban them with a scorched earth type policy that elimnates their corporation and possibly alliance. Give the CEOs of each warning and offer help to identify the botters. If they won’t do something about it seize assets and disband. Sadly I don’t see this happening due to the amount of money involved.

    Occupancy rates:
    There are lots of empty systems with no sov claimed in them. This is a result of the last change to the sov mechanics. It’s true that these are the less favoured systems, and possibly on pipes with a lot of traffic, but the only thing that’s stopping an alliance taking sov is the fear of the blob. There’s also nothing stopping you setting up a tower and operating without sov. There are changes that could be made to the system, but tweak it rather than wholesale changes.

    Bubbles:
    Are fine the way they are. You need to scout effectively to avoid them, and develop the necessary tactics to overcome them. Its not that difficult with practice. Scouting in nullsec is much more than just staying one jump ahead.

    Blobs:
    What consistutes a blob? If I run around in a 20 ship fleet, then to a solo ratter its a blob. If I meet a 100 ship fleet then it is the blob. Most nullsec combat I’ve been in has active fleet sizes in the 20-40 range. Choke point gate camps typically have fewer than 10 ships in them, is that a blob?

    Caps:
    Its possible to take down carriers with sub-caps, in fact it’s possible to take down carriers with sub-BS ships with enough co-ordination. We frequently take out small (10-20) fast roams with the aim of catching ratting carriers. If you’ve the right shiptypes in your fleet, torp fit bombers for DPS, it doesn’t take that long.

    Super carriers are a little buff, but for the ISK they cost isn’t that what you expect. If you take fitted Nyx cost of around 24 bil and ratting income from decent 0.0 space as 50m/hour, given interruptions and real life getting in the way, it would take 208 days to be able to buy and fit one. Yes Moon goo can distort this, but for an individual this seems a fair reward for time spent, especially as it severely restricts what you can do with that Toon once you are in the Super Carrier.

    Delayed local:
    This should be the norm, though there should be a range of improvements that assist with this. If you’ve sov in a system you should be able to install something near the gates that provides intel on ships passing through the gate. Even if it does’t track them through the system. Possibly it would have an AU range which could be improved. This would allow for dead space within a system.

    Infrastructure:
    I would like to see more vulnerable structures in nullsec. Rather than a single Infrastructure Hub per system improved, I’d like to see this split into more units that would each be more vulnerable. The flip side of this should be more options to the sov holder for what they can install. Station guns, gate guns, system scanners. Use these as an ISK drain for alliance funds in the way that the current improvements are.

  2. Lost

    Being in a WH corp I am surprised that others don’t want eve to become more like W-space with the exception of delayed local.

    You want small gang warfare: W-space
    You want no super caps: W-space
    No (minimum) blobs: W-space

    People need an economic reason to leave 0.0 space.

    Maybe CCP needs to put moon goo in the w-space moons.

    That will drag people away from null sec with gates to null sec with Wormholes living in small gangs and no blob.

    Then again maybe all of those people in w-space would ruin it.

  3. As you can probably tell from my blog, I’m a complete noob, still trying to get into low sec pvp. But I still find this sort of post really useful, in the sense that it gives me a greater idea of the issues facing New Eden.

    All part of being part of the Eve community, I suppose. I look forward to the next one.

  4. Shandir

    This is basically the impression I keep getting from null-sec, there’s just too much money there.
    When you see 0.0 pilots laugh and state how easy it is to make X00m ISK/hour, and you consider the level of risk involved is probably comparable to high-sec (except without the possibility of ninjas or thieves, and a small possibility of a hit and run with a bomber squad and black ops)
    Sure, 0.0 theoretically consitutes a higher risk – but 1) That is not realised, and 2) It doesn’t really condone profits an order of magnitude higher.

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  14. Baa

    @Shandir
    The 50m ISK/hour I said was assuming no losses. It’s about the rate you can make ratting in carrier. I make around 6-7m ISK/tick, so 20m/hour if I can rat without interruptions. From what I remember that’s not much more than L4 missions and for that I get the added fun of having to safe up whenever a non-blue enters system. It’s less than can be made in WH systems and about the same risk.

    Too much money? That depends on your perspective. If you look at it from an Empire mission runner point of view accumulating ISK then perhaps it is. It depends on your focus and what purpose the ISK serves.

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  23. antinomos

    Not that I think you should have to suffer the annoyance this would entail, but I like to think of you bothering CCP at CSM meetings.

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