Friday, November 6, 2015

Re-thinking High-sec in Light of the Lore

This is not a post about nerfing high-sec.  Not at all.  In fact, my argument isn't going to be about player engagement, income distribution, or any of that stuff.  I just want to talk about a cool thing I thought of while replying to a comment on the reddit post for my last article.  To do that, I'm basing my argument on a bit of logic and some lore.

First, some context.  CONCORD exists to apply precise "rules of war".  In part, it also serves to protect the empires from capsuleers, who cannot be killed permanently and represent a borderline xenophobic threat to the empires, even as they represent the empires' key way of fighting each other.

But, Concord (no caps anymore, too annoying...) also serves to manage intel and payment for activity against pirates, as well as classifying the security status of every system of New Eden.  Yet, Concord hasn't revised it's security status calculations in a very long time.  To the point, they haven't revised them in response to the discovery of wormhole space, the change in customs office ownership, sleepers, drifters, and the general weakening of the military forces of the empires, both in comparison to the past and to capsuleer empires.  A full fleet of capsuleer titans is a thing, yo.

I think it's high time Concord revises it's security status calculations to reflect this shift in power away from the four main empires.

Plus, it's time pirates get a seat at the table.

Leaving the Cradle

Let's get the elements of this suggestion that are going to annoy folks out there right now.  We have to reduce the viability of players living in high-sec their entire game lives.

I'm not interested in destroying high-sec.  As I said before, it's absolutely critical that new players have a place they can gestate when they start the game.  Many players will never extend beyond this playstyle... for them, Eve is a diversion they play for a friendly little break, and making high-sec life unpleasant isn't my intention.  I want high-sec to be entertaining and a source of some cute little fun.

If I sound a bit dismissive of this playstyle, it's because it fails to leverage the key advantages of playing an MMO in general and Eve in particular.  But, some players prefer to engage with the game that way, and their money is as good as anyone else's.  Plus, many players who decide to more deeply engage with the game will start out as bubblegum casuals.  Let's not insult them because of where they begin, let's give them a compelling path to develop into something more.  CCP needs high-sec activities to offer a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment to draw players in and keep them engaged in the game long enough to fall in love with the rest of the game.

But that's not the same thing as allowing them to feel fully satisfied spending all their time in safety.  High-sec should not convey a sense of completeness - that they can get everything they care about in the game by remaining in there.  And, unquestionably, you should not be able to get rich in high-sec (market trading is perhaps the only exception, but typically the capital needed to do that efficiently requires having played the game enough to accrue significant wealth).

High-sec life needs to be viable, provided that you temper your expectations to accept that your accomplishments are going to be fun experiences and entertainment, not wealth, power, or min-maxing.  You should be able to dabble in every in-game activity - shooting, building, managing, conversing, mining, processing, etc.  When you decide to size yourself up against others, become good at an activity, or dedicate yourself to one path, you absolutely should assume some risk.

High-sec needs to be a foyer in the house of Eve, meant to be a welcome and pleasant relief from the elements, but not so comfortable that you take your meals there and get a good night's sleep.

A Slipping Grip on Power

So, how do you make this conversion so we can achieve both aims: encouraging movement to low/null while still allowing for a rich, full experience for players who elect to stay in high-sec?

The four empires are losing their grip on power.  Originally, the Jove provided a significant power behind Concord's authority, providing them with a wide range of technology to incorporate into their ships.  But now, the Jove are, according to common wisdom, dead.  In their place are sleepers and drifts, two powerful forces that are openly antagonistic to the Jove and everything they stood for.  They've assassinated an Amarran empress, have destroyed entire fleets of the most powerful empire that remains, and are scanning everything in empire space with impugnity.

And, let's not forget that the drifters have been watching everything the empires have been doing for years.  They reek of superior military intelligence, better technology, and the initiative.

Let's not forget the horrendous losses the empires have been taking as a result of years of factional warfare.  Even granting that capsuleers have done most of the incursioning, they're losing five ships for every FW plex that falls... those kinds of losses mount.

The Caldari lost a Titan above Caldari prime, and the empires were unable to successfully stop pirates from escaping with illegal and dangerous research despite a full-court press on their part.  Sansha charge into empire space pretty much at will and abduct citizens from nearby planets to slave with implants.  The Blood Raiders demonstrated the ability to simultaneously charge into the space of all four empires, which suggests a massive failure of counter-espionage and intelligence.

And, through it all, capsuleer alliances are growing bigger and bigger.  And - as evidenced by increased high-sec ganking - they don't fear Concord at all.

I think it's only fair to characterize the past few years in Eve as a full retreat in the power of the empires.  I think it's time for Concord needs to reclassify the security status of systems.

Archipelagos, Not Continents

I propose a fundamental redeployment of security status that represents a general reduction across the board throughout empire space.  High-sec would shrink considerably, by perhaps as much as 50%.  Much of this space would become low-sec, perhaps even factional warfare space.  As empires lose both power and the ability to successfully defend space, it only stands to reason that it would become a bit more lawless.  And with more threats, Concord would be spread more thin.

The effect would be to compress those who live in high-sec and push more players looking for profits to the periphery.  In higher areas of low-sec, CCP can boost the damage of sentry guns at gates and stations to provide a much more significant punch to protect high/low gates from gatecamps, allowing more pilots to freely access low-sec without immediately being obliterated.  But the effect would be to create more scarcity of space in high-sec, combined with a greater ease of access to low-sec.

But that's not all.  It's time for pirates to get a seat at the table at the Concord Bureau.  What differentiates the Amarr empire - with its drugged slaves - from the Sansha - with its implanted subservient slaves?  It seems only fair that the Sansha commit crimes no different than the Amarr.  Or the Caldari, with their rampant poverty outside of the corporate elite.  And the Guristas and Serpentis are simply businessmen, after all.

Opening the pirate factions to Concord creates the opportunity for an interesting gameplay dynamic: pirate high-sec and low-sec, where players can rat peacefully under the protection of their Guristas or Archangel overlords and run missions to boost up standing.  And the "rats" you'd fight in Sansha space would be the Amarr trying to raid Sansha facilities, or the Caldari trying to attack the Guristas.  I'd love to run a Caldari Troop Reinvigoration Camp and kill me some corporate slime!  Imagine the joy of fighting for the Guristas in faction warfare, taking systems off the Caldari for the glory of the Rabbit!  Does it make any sense that the rats you fight in Venal are Guristas, yet you're still allowed to dock in Gurista stations?  I didn't think so.

So, let's keep the high-to-high trade routes between the Caldari and Amarr, the Gallente and Minmatar, but let's drop travel routes to low-sec for the rest, and keep only low-sec or null-sec routes between the pirate factions and the empires... at least for now.  I can see a lot of options made available by pirate high-sec in Venal or Curse... cut off from the empires by null-sec yet still safe places to conduct business.  It may not be extensive, but it'd be exciting to see nonetheless.


  1. If you read CCP Quants latest dev blog you'll see that only 13% of the characters who login on a given day engage in PVP. Trying to push people out of highsec by nerfing their playstyle will only push them to a different game. If you want people to leave highsec the other regions need to offer enjoyable gameplay for the other 87%

    1. Yes, 13% on any given day. Even I don't PvP on every given day. It might be every third day. Now that number could be as high as 39% (if 13% is round-robining with no overlap). Some players play only during the weekend. That's 2 of 7 days. What does that do to the percentages? Don't fixate on that one number, when there are so many other indicators that show people zipping around space and ducking from area-to-area.

      I'm not advocating we push people out. If I give you a single M&M and tell you that you can get an M&M every day, or you can walk across the room and get the whole bag every day, have I forced you to walk across the room? You can live quite happily where you are... if you're content to live off a single M&M. Maybe you don't like M&Ms, or you don't care enough to move; that's fine. You're still choosing.

      The only people upset at that are those who look jealously at the rewards of others who DID put forth the effort (and a little risk; you could trip while walking across the room) to cross the room. And there's no fixing for that personality flaw.

    2. This is the kind of thinking Eve needs I love these ideas the time for this is now, or just around the corner anyway.

  2. Dex, the intention is great, but reality is still most still enjoy not getting involved in FW, null politics and blobs of any kind.

    And, even the ones that do spend time in hisec to have a break. You reduce that you most probably will have impact on player retention.

    There is a need to create incentive for players to go to low and null, but shouldn't making one area get worst. The proper method is to make low and null to be more interesting. I used to be part of a large group, making caps/supers and welping all types of ships. I got tired of this and the changes on Caps and SOV at this point didn't work for me. You still see the fights we all love, but only small skirmishes or battles similar to the old Sov for a POS or POCO. How often would you see a supercap battle for a POCO back before the Sov changes? Right now, you can say, well there are a lot of small entities out there. But when you dive down to it is basic the same old blue sphere everyone complained before just more entities part of the blue sphere. The folks in null sec are settled in their areas and will ave the normal movement as they had before. Lowsec is settle also on certain large groups that control pipes and entire regions of the map. All this together is not an incentive for the new player and small groups to go there. Option is still this: Join our group we chose option (big coalition or have blues all around or we have control over our borders meaning you are big). I don't know what will change this an make it challenging.
    In addition to that the casual player many times don't want to have to spend time dealing with the limitations of lowsec/null mobility as they, even with gankers, want to run missions, mine, haul, etc and not having to deal with FW, big blobs and so on.

    tldr: As I said I don't disagree change is needed but not making hisec get worst, but improving low and null.


    1. My vision of high-sec is that we increase the variety and types of experiences high-sec players have. High-sec shouldn't be a place for dank profits, but a reduced number of systems should affect people looking for fun experiences and relaxation.

      I don't want to push people out, but if people are looking for fun and a bit of a diversion, I can't see how having half the systems to do it in affects the experience. That space DOES affect those who want to excel, profit, or improve, though.

      I have no interest in making high like null. I agree... it offers things that some players particularly value, and having it removed would definitely push them out. I don't want that.

  3. In real life, we see people who are living in war torn, unstable countries moving out for safety and opportunity.

    In Eve, if you make high sec life harder, more risky, less stable, less rewarding, the people who Are satisfied with high sec now will not go to low sec or null for more rewards, because they have other options.

    They dont have to move out of high sec for more content. They can just play another game.

    High sec needs to be safer, which will grow it's population, so that there is more competition for finite resources, and only then will the more ambitious players migrate to more dangerous space.

    Right now, one of those resources is victims for high sec pvpers. More ships are destroyed in high sec than null and low sec combined. If you took away high sec pvp, everyone who wanted to blow stuff up would have to do it in Low or Null. Where people invariably shoot back.

    That would increase the population for PvP areas, which is really why everyone who doesnt live peacefully in high sec wants to adjust high sec play.

    Make High sec a theme park. Scary, but generally safe. Make ganking painful for the gankers. Shorten wardecs. Let players pay CONCORD to be left alone. Eventually, some of those people will get bored and find their way out to low sec and null.

    After all, we did.

  4. By all means, have pirate lowsec space, but take into account that the current standings system makes the plans you describe impossible to allow switching between, and leave Highsec space alone, nerfing one area to drag people unwillingly in is not good business or fun either.


    You're also wrong about recruiting industrialists and miners. There's no need to recruit individuals who only do industry or mining because PVPers have alts that can do the job just as well. A dedicated industry main offers zero advantage over a PVPer's alt. The usufruct of our space is reserved only to assist PVPers in making money so they can continue to contribute militarily.

    This is the rub to the dream of raising the sea of villainy reducing the continents of security.

    Hi-sec is a ghetto with residents nobody wants. Except as a cheap source of labor for mineral production or as a source of "content generation". A bulldozer to knock down some of the ghetto does not educate its residents or upgrade their employment.

  6. "The effect would be to compress those who live in high-sec and push more players looking for profits to the periphery."

    I really didn't think anyone would so baldly state their desire to turn EVE into a theme park by putting players on a track.

    1. This. I love PvP but making the high sec experience a neuterred theme park designed to funnel people into PvP kills the very soul of this game. I spent two years in high sec before moving to FW and piracy, and I had a great time while I was there.

      I can sort of see the outline of good intentions with this idea, but it's just another restriction on the sandbox to artificially push people into the authors preferred playstyle.

  7. *looks over the post* Lets condense this down a bit:

    'I don't know why people want to be in high sec space, but they are playing the game the wrong way and need to be punished even more until they learn to play the game the right way, my way.'

    1. That assessment more accurately reflects your tendency to linger on other people's arguments than it does the opinions and reasoning expressed in this post.

      But, it was curse-free, so I'm happy to approve and post it.

    2. You don't seem to express *why* you think herding people out of high sec is necessary, or why their playstyle is less valid than yours.

    3. I've discussed that enough before, and didn't want to harp on it. However, i don't deem that play style less valid, only less valuable in terms of retention and "ricochet" value for the game world. Eve needs long term players, not just players. PvE is never going tip generate as long term of players as PvP will because the content of PvE will always be confined and limited, whereas PvP is not.

    4. I've discussed that enough before, and didn't want to harp on it. However, i don't deem that play style less valid, only less valuable in terms of retention and "ricochet" value for the game world. Eve needs long term players, not just players. PvE is never going tip generate as long term of players as PvP will because the content of PvE will always be confined and limited, whereas PvP is not.

  8. It might be just as relevant to realize that the "engaged" players are so idle and bored that they consider it worthwhile to bother setting up traps for new players.

    I think that is a sign that CCP hasn't really found an occasion to make competition a fundamental part of the game. It's there, but you have to work really hard to get at it.

  9. I'm cautiously interested in a shake up and I am (was) a hi sec player mainly. I'd like to see the borders between security space be a bit dynamic as long as players could fight it back. Your 0.5 industry hub gone 0.4? You can fight it back with PVE or some kind of FW mechanic. You'll still be safe back in the 0.9/1.0 systems. Having said this, it'd sever the trade routes within a month.

    I also love the idea of increasing gate gun damage to prevent camps. I think this should be done on the borders everywhere to encourage more hi sec players to cross them. Less forcing players out of hi sec and more encouraging them to cross the borders.

    In short, probably wouldn't agree with your plan, but I like your thinking!

  10. Really good article Tal, as usual. I especially liked that last one you did on the topic of PvE content, but you hit the nail on the head with one sentence in this post: "High-sec life needs to be viable, provided that you temper your expectations to accept that your accomplishments are going to be fun experiences and entertainment".

    Having done a little bit of "almost" everything in Eve, this is pretty much what I currently want out of the game at this point in time. In fact I recently joined a small corp of mostly new members to Eve with the full intention of being a sort of educator for them; teaching them the things I've learned over the years.

    It's comforting knowing that at any time I'm welcome to return to my old home in sov space should I choose to do so, whether it be as a neutral coming to visit some old friends or as a returning member of the alliance. For now, though, I'm happily enjoying running DED sites, acting as a fleet booster/FC for mission ops, and just in general providing them with advice and information on all aspects of the game.

    And I really look forward to the future of Eve, especially in terms of the changes to PvE content that I felt have been needed for a few years now. It's an exciting time to be a part of this game.