Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Pay No Attention to the Other Statistics

Today, CCP released a pair of dev blogs about the changes to null-sec sovereignty. While I’m certainly going to review the changes proposed for Phase II, I first wanted to take a moment to talk a little about the “Phase I in Review…” post CCP Fozzie, entitled Where We Stand.  Take a minute (or ten) to review.

While that post gave a lot of information, what I found most interesting was what Fozzie did not mention.

Null-Sec Population

Fozzie starts by talking about the total Eve null-sec population.  When you look at the scope of that change, we aren’t talking about significant numbers.  We see an uptick, sure, but if you exclude the returning Russians, the difference is minimal.

And if you look closely at that chart, you’ll notice two things.  First, check out that brief up-tick before Phoebe’s launch?  Yep, that’d be the shift of assets and characters that happened in the week prior to Phoebe.  I suspect cyno characters moving into various areas of null may played a part in this small little peak, which disappeared immediately afterwards.

Then, there’s the spike when Phoebe happened.  The key here is that the chart follows “active accounts located in null-sec”.  We see a sudden, but again brief, increase in character counts in null-sec, but that starts to decline again.  It’s almost as if players wanted to give Eve a try again in anticipation of chaos following Phoebe…

Only, no chaos really happened.  Changes were slow in coming, and I players clearly started to drift out of null-sec again.  Based on the timing on the chart, it looks a lot like a bunch of vets resubbed for one month, took a look around, then a number of them lapsed again.

Then, This Is Eve happened, and the numbers tipped upwards again.  I’m not saying the entire result was from This Is Eve, but I suspect the double whammy of the “Null Coalitions are gonna die!” sentiment from Phoebe’s release and “Remember all the fun you had?” effect of “This Is Eve” worked in tandem to bring back new null players.

After all, very few players start the game fresh and immediately jump into null-sec.  If you think that spike in null residency is due to truly new players… I hate to burst your bubble, but it ain’t so.  Such an immediate correlation between null residency and these two catalyst events has to be due to resubbing players.

These two events are undoubtedly responsible for the increases in null residency, but let’s not act as if Phoebe was solely responsible.  And the numbers don’t appear to signal a sea change in null residency.

The other chart of interest in this section, covering null-sec jumps and cyno movement, unsurprisingly spiked.  After all, what used to be a single jump bridge activation became 4-10 jumps.  I’m actually surprised it didn’t spike more… I know my characters’ overall jumps have dramatically increased.  I used to take jump bridges EVERYWHERE, and now I’m extremely hesitant to do so.

But there are some statistics absent from this analysis I’d like to see.  Forget characters who are based in null… how many characters are actually active in null (getting kills, killing rats, etc.)?  Is the total amount of time logged in interacting with the game changing?

Null PvP Activity

One aspect of Fozzie’s analysis about null PvP activity stuck out to me: the trendline in overall kills was significantly steeper than the trendline for total isk value of PvP losses.

And while Fozzie did ask the question, “Firstly, is this increase simply coming from more people dying in cheap frigates?”, but left the answer silent.  When the total number of kills (the denominator) increases at a higher rate than the isk value of those kills (numerator), the overall isk-per-kill is declining.  And that most assuredly indicates that PvP in null-sec is “going cheap”.

When you take into account the fact that more capitals are dying (the next section), this further exacerbates the problem – if you extract the value of those capital ships (high-value, low-quantity ships), the isk-per-kill is even worse.

Not that that should be surprising, though.  Who wants to fly battleships or battlecruisers – particularly T2 battlecruisers – through 20+ gates when you could previously move them through 4 bridges?  The Age of Fatigue is an age of cruisers, frigates, and destroyers.  I’ve personally sold all my battleships and will only use battlecruisers within a couple jumps of my staging systems.

The fact that CCP chose to raise this topic, then quietly leave it be, is interesting.

Capital Ship Activity

While I don’t find much to be critical of in this analysis – it seems sound – I’m not sure how important capital considerations are to this discussion.  Anyone who owns a capital in low-sec is pretty happily using it more often, while anyone who owns a capital in null-sec better have some janitors to wipe the dust off of it every so often.  I haven’t touched mine in quite some time.

I’m going to be curious to see how this number changes over time.  Obviously, more capitals are being killed – the data indicates as much – but how many capitals are being produced and sold?  What about capital ship residency?  How do the numbers look if you exclude freighters and jump freighters?  How has the number of capital ships based in null-sec and owned by characters logged in changed over time?  How has the number of times capitals have actually undocked or taken a jump or shot something not a structure changed?  Are people actually using their capitals to shoot people in null, or have they been mothballed?  What has happened with Titan accounts?

The sense I get is that null-sec capital ship usage isn’t happening now, that players who lose a cap in null aren’t going to be rushing out to replace them as quickly, and that they’re likely drawing down their stock.  Particularly now that structure shooting won’t require them.  (Spoiler alert about my Phase II post… I think capitals are only good for killing other capitals now, and that’s not a good thing!).

That said, low-sec is having a field day, and good for them… they need a little love!

Sovereignty Conquests

While I find this section of Fozzie’s recap interesting, I’m not sure it means much.  After all, specific numbers of systems changing hands doesn’t seem to matter as much as the total number of alliances involved in null-sec.  For God’s sake… Northern Associates has something like 849,324 systems under its control… naturally they were going to lose a some.

But I definitely echo the sentiment that seems to abound at CCP: “If Phase Two is a success, we would ideally like to see a significantly higher status quo, less reliant on bursts of activity from major wars.”  Amen!

Don’t get me wrong, I do think the changes have been good for the game, but I don’t think the results will be meaningful until you introduce stress to the system.  Phase II will put pressure on current sov holders… only then will you see the effects of the capital changes.

The “actionable data” really hasn’t come yet.  But it will, starting in June.  And that’s going to be the topic of the post after the next one.


So that’s my take.  Feel free to disagree in the comments!


  1. I thought the contrast to the previous dev blog from CCP Rise was very interesting. In the nullsec blog we have the graphs and a lot of discussion about the analysis of that date - though as you point out there were questions left without concrete answers. In the ship balance blog we had a graph dropped in showing dps-per-hull-type with pretty much a comment of "see, clearly we don't need a BC or BS rebalance" while everyone scratched their head and said "how did you come to that conclusion from that data?"

  2. Do you believe that there will no longer be fighting over moons? Capitals still have a very viable lifetime with POS bashing still being a thing. Just because we have this new sov mechanic doesn't mean that fighting over moons is going to change. If anything I see moon fighting becoming more interesting when coupled with sov 3.0

    1. There will definitely be fights over moons. And dreads will continue to have a role... for moons close to your staging system. That means the number of possible dread-escalation combatants will be much lower, limited to your local enemies.

      And, as you get into a larger group of players (say, 200 or so), Ishtar fleets, bomber fleets, or Oracle fleets can operate just as easily, particularly for takedown fights (as opposed to reinforcement fights).

      Capitals simply aren't as important as they used to be. Much like nuclear stockpiles, HAVING them is much more important than USING them. And that's not particularly enjoyable.

  3. For cap ships, I dunno; I think that really depends on where you're looking. I'm in a small alliance that's part of HERO, and we've actually started using capital ships a lot more because we know that PL or NC can't scramble a response in 5-10 minutes. To be fair, some of that is because we're gaining capital pilots, largely from characters aging into them, and a lot of this is hitting strategic targets without opposition, but we do also have people pulling out single dreadnaughts for strikes on the local renters who like to attack our roams with carriers. (They eventually cyno-jammed all their systems, which makes it more difficult, though.)

    I suspect small groups are using more capitals because they can find ways to not present a target, while large groups are not because the small groups are not presenting targets in the same way.

    1. Good point at the end there. I just keep going back to the basic principle of Eve... players will use the weapon that is safest and fastest.

  4. We need space to be worth something again.

    We need to see possible trillion isk investments by alliances into upgrading sov to make it worth keeping 100+ people in system and sustaining 100+ ratters at once.

    Honestly why have a low cap on havens/sanctums? Let alliances continue to to upgrade a system till they have no need to upgrade it more because of the number of havens/sanctums can sustain the number of people in system.

    That system just become a fuck-ton more important to defend.