This is one of those articles that posits a problem without presenting a solution. Sorry. Sometimes that happens. After all, I don’t know everything. But I think this problem is large enough that it deserves to have attention drawn to it.
I’ve mentioned already how I’m somewhat disengaged with Eve. Part of that is due to the stagnation in null-sec. A lot of people – myself included – would agree that a null-sec with a lot of small groups would be more entertaining than the current Cold War null-sec, where there are really two groups that matter, with at third who has pretty much been taken out of the fight, and a fourth who’s more interested in holding onto what they have than projecting power beyond Providence. That’s a lot of space to be carved up by essentially four groups.
What this leads to is a tendency for the best null-sec roaming and small-gang fun to be had by corporations and alliances who AREN’T based in null-sec. Wormhole corps and low-sec pirate corps near null are no doubt having a field day. There are a lot of renters out there who don’t have the faintest clue how to resist a gang (though they do know how to safe up), and the small-gang skill of an average null pilot approaches zero asymptotically.
Pretty much, we’re talking Lindisfarne in 793 A.D.
Ostensibly, one of the advantages of Eve is the ability to have multiple characters. You can have a PI character, a trader character, and a PvP character. Or you can have a null-sec character and a pirate corp character, too!
Woah, there. Back up a minute. Let me introduce you to the wonderful world of the API.
Now, the definition of API doesn’t really matter (application programming interface). What does matter is that Eve has an API system that lets other programs and players access your character sheet and details if you provide your API credentials to them. Increasingly, joining a null-sec or low-sec alliance requires providing a full API. Full disclosure, in effect. And when you do that, your prospective corporation can see every character on your account and what corporation they’re in.
Which, pretty much, puts an end to any thought about having two characters in alliances/corporations who might fight each other at any point in the future.
And I can’t really blame any corporation for wanting full APIs for their members. After all, the risk of awoxing or embedding spies in null alliances is very real, and has very significant consequences. Null alliances want to do everything in their power to prevent this from happening. Every null player knows this, and understands the reasons for it. No one want’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and requiring a full API prevents about 90% of infiltration attempts.
But as a consequence, it limits the variety of content for a player with a character in a null-sec corp. No one wants an alt of another alliance in their corp. Wormhole corps, for instance, have no choice (given POS mechanics) but to require all characters of a player to be in-corp, to reduce the chances of a quick grab-and-go. Don’t even think of having a second character on your account apply to another null alliance if you’re already in one. Even a lot of the low-sec corps run a full API check, and they’re not about to let a fish (null sec player) into their shark tank.
So, unless you want separate accounts in different alliances (and even that can be hard if you share isk between them), you’re locked into one play style. Make sure it provides a variety of content; it’s the only one you get!
And if you don’t get the content you really want, you end up either burning out or becoming a bitter vet (if you’re highly engaged with the corp), or leave the corp (if you’re not highly engaged) for a different type of content. Neither one of those is an optimal solution for either the pilot or the corporation.
Again, I don’t have a resolution to this problem. It makes perfect sense for high-asset corps to require API keys – the risk of not doing so is too great – but that risk results in increased responsibility to its members. Corporations need to provide all those types of content players would have sought with other characters, had they been able to.
That’s one of the reasons I joined Repercussus – leadership takes great pains to provide a variety of content so members don’t just think of RP as “a null-sec, large fleet corp”. In my experience, RP is rare in its dedication to variety.
What if you’re in a corp that doesn’t offer that same variety? It’s much easier to form corporations with a single desire – supporting one goal is much easier than supporting multiple ones. I have to imagine that the consequences of API requirements prevent players from enjoying everything Eve has to offer and increase unsubs.
Is there a solution? I don’t know. My sense is that there isn’t one, so long as players try to infiltrate and awox corporations (may it be that they always will, and always can). But it does demonstrate another way risk-aversion saps some of the joy out of the game, preventing players from really embracing everything Eve has to offer. It’s a hard cap on engagement that no doubt reduces CCP’s overall profits over time.
Just as freedom doesn’t always lead to prosperity, emergent gameplay doesn’t always lead to a healthy environment. It someone pees in the sandbox, playground owners need to close down the sandbox until they can clean it.