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I focus almost exclusively on PvP, whether solo, small gang, or large bloc warfare. In the past, I've been a miner, mission runner, and faction warfare jockey. I'm particularly interested in helping high-sec players get into 0.0 combat.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

(Don’t) Play Among the Stars

Or, “Fly me to the moon, ‘cause that’s pretty much all the further we can go.”

I haven’t written about the jump drive changes recently on this blog, but I’ve certainly been actively posting on reddit, the Eve-O forums, and in comments of various fellow bloggers.  I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about these changes, and while my opinions on them really haven’t changed much, I do understand now what my objections, in general, are.

I’m decidedly against these changes, but not for the reasons many have stated.  My objection doesn’t come as much from the play style that’s being sacrificed – jumping capital+ gangs all over the place is a horrible, horrible thing and needs to die a brutal death.  Over on Crossing Zebras, Niden put out an article explaining how wonderful it will be to not have to fear hotdropophobia.  That’s definitely a good effect.

But we can’t confuse the existence of positive outcomes with the appropriateness of a change.  Just because it leads to some positive things doesn’t mean a change is good.

The Problems with Null-Sec

After all, what are the problems with null-sec?
  1. Holding space requires nothing but paying a bill.
  2. All battles that influence the result of sov ownership depend on blob vs. blob fights where he who brings the strongest force inevitably wins.
  3. Space is not valuable enough for an alliance to be content with a small amount of it.
  4. Wealth from owning space is top-down, involving very few people in income generation methods that are not easily prone to disruption.
  5. There are no limits to what an alliance can own; as a direct result, the groups that are most well-organized will always inevitably take it all over.
  6. The only force that matters is the supercap blob, and that force is able to easily traverse the entire galaxy in a matter of 15 minutes.
These changes to jump drives solve exactly one of those problems, #5. In fact, it rather completely obliterates it.  But that’s absolutely not the main problem facing null-sec.  Super blobs don’t matter if your alliance has to be chained to your territory like an anchor in order to maintain it.  Super blobs don’t matter if sovereignty is tied to living in your space and your view narrows to yourself and your neighbors.  Correcting for 1-4 obviates the need to correct for 5.

But even despite the fact that this is not a very elegant way to fix problem #5, I could live with it, but for what it does to logistics.

I’m Sorry, But This Item Is Out of Stock

A null-sec alliance NEEDS regular supplies from empire.  The way the necessary ingredients are distributed means it’s impossible for one region to be entirely or largely self-sufficient.  Nor can that really change that much… Eve is created so everyone is interconnected.  You can’t source T3 components in null-sec.  Ice types of regionally specific to require interdependence.  Logistics, the processes by which those commodities are traded, are built into the very fabric of the game.  Even if CCP changes this to allow an alliance to be entirely self-sufficient, it would result in regions not caring what the others are doing, and that’s not going to drive engagement, excitement, or content.

And these changes will make it impossible to supply distant null-sec regions.  Not harder.  Impossible.

Jump freighters loaded with T2 modules and ships can easily value beyond 10 billion.  With the value of the JFs themselves and the amount of product they carry, they simply cannot afford to jump through stargates.  Routes to deep null-sec after the jump ranges drop to 5 LY will be extremely predictable, and they will be camped constantly.  The odds of running into a camp while piloting your jump freighter will approach certainty.  Some will try.  But they’ll die very quickly and learn that it’s simply not feasible.

If the chances of losing 10 billion isk are even one in four, are you seriously going to risk it?  I sure as shootin’ wouldn’t.  And I suspect that same cost/value analysis will lead to the complete exclusion of jumping gate-to-gate for jump freighters.

As a result, jump freighter pilots are going to very quickly accrue heavy jump fatigue.  Resupply runs happen several times a week.  The number of runs is going to decline heavily.  And there are only so many players in Eve who actually enjoy the brutally self-flagellating job of managing logistics.  Jump fatigue means that these players are going to be effectively cut off from doing any capital work besides logistics.  Given that most alliances’ JF pilots are also capital pilots means these pilots will have to choose between the boring and risky job of logistics and the comparatively more fun job of flying battle capitals.

Spoiler: not all of them are going to choose logistics.  Some of those who do are going to burn out from the increased load and give up, realizing they could do something more fun in low-sec or WH space.

“But Tal, alliances can always form up for convoy defense.  There’s your content.”  Screw you.  When people talk about content, they’re talking about enjoyable content, not tedium and boring ::work::.  Sov warfare is content – hours upon hours of shooting structures.  Some people like this, but not many.  People who want to PvP would rather, you know, PvP.  And blowing an entire playing session escorting a freighter around because CCP decided to nerf with a nuke when a scalpel would do is not going to be enjoyable for anyone.

Why is CCP making it harder on content-enablers – the logistics pilots and leaders who create the environment that allows players to enjoy themselves – IN A GAME?  CCP Seagull got up and spoke about how she wanted to help players create content for others.  This change is going to effectively make it incredibly difficult on the players who handle the logistics that allow others to have fun.

Why Should We Care About Logistics?

Null-sec exists because of logistics.  You think null-sec players are all carebears already?  How much worse will it be when you can’t get replacements easily for your PvP ships and you have to haul each ship manually – gate-by-gate – from Empire?  Sure, T1 crap can be built locally, but not easily with T2 ships.  If it could, Jita markets wouldn’t be denuded of T2 hulls after a massive welp.

In which of the two situations are you more likely to undock for PvP?
  1. If you lose your ship, you buy a new one off Contracts (optional: submit for SRP to refund your loss) and get it replaced immediately.  If you want your own fit, you can buy it and contract it over to the frequent JF service for your alliance.  In some cases, your corp/alliance will fulfill your order and deliver it to the “capital” station the next day or in a couple days.
  2. If you lose your ship, you buy a new one off Contracts if your alliance has just recently completed a JF run; if not, you have to wait for the next one.  If you want your own fit, you must slow-boat it all the way to a trade hub, buy your ship, and slow-boat it back (repeating this process as necessary in case of multiple losses on the same day).  In some cases, your corp/alliance will fulfill your order whenever it happens to have extra room in a freighter it isn’t using for alliance fits for Contracts, and you’ll get your ship in a couple weeks, unless of course the JF pilot tries to use a gate and loses everything.
Hint: it’s not option #2.

By making it more difficult for the logistics folks to do their jobs, you’re bringing everything that happens in null-sec to a grinding halt.  PVP ships are harder to come by.  Alliance income is harder to sell.  Industrialists have a harder time getting the components they need.  Miners have a harder time selling their ore for anything approaching a fair rate (you can bet your ass alliances will buy ore for ½ to ¾ of its value, knowing the miners have no other choice).

Are you starting to see the problem now?

Deployments will also be a thing of the past, not as much because alliances can’t bring their capital power with them, but because moving subcapitals (most null pilots have at least 5-6 ships they use for PVP; I have as many as 40) is going to be an absolute nightmare (one at a time, remember).  Why are we eliminating a good source of PvP from the game?  Subcap power projection is not the problem that “broke” null-sec.  So why is CCP nerfing the ability to move subcaps around along with supercaps?  It’s an unnecessary nerf to subcap power projection.  Likewise, causing jump bridges to impart jump fatigue as well renders them utterly useless and nerfs the same subcap power projection non-problem.  It’s excessive and utterly unnecessary to localize the only force that really matters – the supercap blob.

As you can see, this change is a shotgun spray into a host of mechanics that affect null-sec, not a sniper’s bullet that deals with a legitimate problem in an elegant way.

But There Is a Silver Lining

That said, it could even still work, provided CCP implements two specific tweaks to its plan.

First, for God’s sake, exempt jump freighters from fatigue.  Don’t punish JF pilots by forcing them to take extremely risky stargates (which they won’t do) or effectively excluding them from any carrier/dread battles because of jump fatigue from their logistics runs (which they won’t tolerate for long).  That single exemption would alleviate many of the problems with this change.

Secondly, introduce a second type of base carrier that has absolutely no offensive capabilities to speak of, but serves as a subcap ship hauler.  2 million m3 of SMA space, 40 k m3 of cargo space, and a 15-20 LY jump range.  Sure, let it accrue jump fatigue normally… its sole role would be to move subcap ships around.  Let people keep their fun subcap deployments that generate positive, enjoyable content for everyone, while you nerf supercap deployments into oblivion.

Making these two exceptions allows CCP to successfully nerf COMBAT CAPITAL power projection without obliterating everything else in the process.

I implore CCP not to destroy null-sec’s viability by destroying all effective means of managing logistics.  Is their goal to destroy the viability of null-sec, or to ensure that null-sec space becomes bigger, easier for smaller entities to live in, and more prone to fractionalization?  If gangs are doing drive-bys on a stretch of road, you fix the underlying issues affecting those neighborhoods.  You don’t dig up the road.

If they need a true model of what to do, try here.  Fix the problems with supercap power projection; don’t destroy subcap movement and logistics in the process.  That’s how you break your game and ruin the experience.

After all, this is a game.  We aren’t being forced to play, CCP.  If you make it too hard to do the basic stuff needed to live in null-sec space, we aren’t going to spend more time doing it; we’re going to fart off and play another game that doesn’t force us to do even more work to get to the good part.

You should be enabling fights, not snuffing them out in their cradle by turning fitted ships into precious commodities.

Update: Literally as I was hitting "publish", CCP published their own set of adjustments to their proposed changes.  In addition to doubling the range of jump freighters to 10 LY, they also applied the 10% jump fatigue effect to a variety of transport vessels.  Provisionally, this addresses the vast majority of my concerns with the changes.  Logistics should be considerably easier until CCP finishes their rounds of null-sec revamp changes.  And this is as it should be; they can't eliminate our means of supplying null-sec without having alternatives ready to activate.  Through this more moderate change, supplying null from empire is largely unaffected, but capital power projection is significantly hampered.  They can always tone down jump freighters and transports later, once the Coming Soon (TM) changes do arrive.

I'm going to leave this post in its entirety because, while my objections aren't necessarily unique, it's important that they be preserved so that, should CCP change its mind before a proper null industrial system is in place, they can come surging back to the forefront.


  1. Does this opinion factor in the re-evaluation of the JF mechanics that was just announced?

    1. It does not. Only the original announcement and the newbie pod express change.

      I'll review and add an addendum commenting on it once I've had a chance to read it.

  2. Frankly, even at 5LY, JFs are pretty much immune to fatigue if you start out with 0. What was a pain about 5LY was that some very convenient routes became nearly impossible. My single-midpoint run got, optimally, three midpoints, or, worst-case due to someone else owning the next region over, around 6 midpoints. Even with 6 midpoints, the associated fatigue would dissipate in the course of two or three hours, which is, as it turns out, about how long the hisec and purchasing part of my Jita runs tend to take. (TBF, Amarr is half as far away, though.)

    That said, due to limitations on moving anything else, this does pretty effectively smash both problems 5 and 6 while promising fixes to 1 & 2 in the future and, if we're lucky, 3 & 4.

    1. Good insight. I tend not to trust hinted-at changes. To discuss changes logically, we need to focus on facts and firm proposals, our we risk being forever deceived.

  3. Just another whining null bear who thinks they should have every shiny thing delivered on a platter to them in their home system in NULL while feeling superior to players undocking T1 cruisers in low sec who are actually having fun and could care less about NULL.

    Well, if CCP suddenly makes it fun for those T1 cruiser players to come to your system and bend you over, well... that would be some content.

    1. Please do come to null sec. I spend most of my time in low sec getting in true 1v1s (no boosts) and would appreciate being able to get those fights at home.

      Generalities are a some of the articles here...I think low sec is more enjoyable than null most of the time. I want null to be a vibrant, viable place to live. Making it impossible to supply doesn't do that.