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Monday, December 31, 2012

The State of New Eden

On this last day of 2012, I’d like to look forward rather than back. I've already given my review of 2012. I felt this was the rebuilding year. Now that it’s the last day of the year, I feel I should expand on what I meant by a rebuilding year. I believe the rebuilding is more far reaching than many realize. It is my hope it will change the fundamental nature of EVE Online.

New Eden is at a cross roads. That is easily said at any time. Leaders, when they give their State of the State addresses, can turn almost any sort of perceived change into “the cross roads” speech. Most often the only road they've crossed is the one road the organization has always traveled down with blinders firmly affixed. It’s like crossing under the English Channel in a motor car. At some point, you have to move to the other side of the road. It’s still the same road though.

But in this instance, I believe the term cross roads is entirely justified if for no other reason than this:
I made this screen capture of the Essence market today at 17:14 New Eden Time. You may think this is just more stuff to manufacture and that it will mean nothing more than adding a new ship class or three as in the past. You’d be incorrect in that assessment
The customers for these goods are not capsuleers. They are Dusters. They will have their own income. They will spend it in “our” market. To put this in real world terms, it’s like getting the Party’s blessing to open up business in China – all of China. No one playing today can accurately predict how this will reshape New Eden, but I can safely guarantee it will. Fortunately it will not affect New Eden like other new sources of ISK.

When incursions came to New Eden, a whole new play style developed around them. We all saw the incursion caravans. The entire process of running incursions became highly organized. There might have been risk, but I ran more risk flying an Orca full of Wetware Mainframes to Jita than most incursion runners faced. And their losses were compensated. This isn't what CCP intended and it wasn't how they wanted EVE Online to be. They demoted it as a play style and many have given up on it.

Then came PLEX farming where any noob could make billions! This was so recent I won’t even bother with a recap. CCP put a damper on that as well. They thought it would make EVE Online more like what they wanted, but it didn't work as they intended. People would rather PLEX for ISK than fight for ISK.

It is no secret CCP wishes EVE Online to be a PvP centric game. Otherwise there wouldn't be that decade old saying, “undocking is permission to PvP.” It’s the plain truth of the matter. There may be safer areas of New Eden to fly in, but there is no safe area.

But this PvP centric ideal is still unrealized by CCP. In fact, according to some of their developers, it’s been a complete failure. No matter what CCP has tried, capsuleers have turned it into a no risk proposition. Let’s look at the biggest failure. CCP originally setup null-sec to be PvP paradise – the end game in New Eden. It hasn't turned out that way. In fact, null-sec is some of the safest space in which to fly. There was a time when corporations constantly warred over who would control null-sec. That was a very, very long time ago – before Mabrick even became a capsuleer. Now null-sec is controlled by mega-coalitions who negotiate their wars ahead of time. Capsuleers are told where they can hunt and where they cannot. PvP is restricted to coalition sanctioned events only. And then, when PvP comes, an endless CTA precedes it and if you don’t show up you are sanctioned. I've had many a friend in null-sec relay how unfun this is.

Even NPC null-sec has turned sour. Rote Kapelle got so fed up with the lack of GFs they preceded to kick all those they saw as carebears out of the region. But even this effort seems to have wound down. Are they getting as many GFs as they’d like yet? Perhaps Jester can answer that question for us. I think not though.

Taken as a whole, null-sec as a PvP paradise is a failure. What other evidence do you need than Hulkageddon, Burn Jita and the Ministry of Love? Is null-sec so fracking boring that Goons came to high-sec to have fun? I know I've been told personally by a couple of Goons in positions of authority they do their high-sec high-jinks to keep Goon members occupied. I think that is the biggest unspoken truth about Goonswarm activities in high-sec. Null-sec is so staid now the coalitions have become the carebears of null – never taking a chance with their sovereignty, never risking their ISK flow and not providing nearly enough fun for the rank and file.

CCP sees this. Others before me have written about it. This is not some grand epiphany. Leaving a PvP game completely in the hands of players does not work. Here is the proof:
Ships Destroyed Past 24 Hours
More ships are destroyed in all other space except maybe wormholes than in null-sec every day.

As much as we’d like to think we are born killers, the fact is 80% of humans are born community builders. The current condition of null-sec was inevitable. There is no “fixing” it. To fix it would mean putting controls on it – forcing the occupants to act differently. That means it would no longer be null-sec. It isn't going to happen.

Fortunately, CCP in their wisdom or just blind stupid luck (I’d like to think the former,) built the solution into the Empyrean Age expansion. That solution is known as Factional Warfare. Just read this report from Drackarn if you don’t believe me. I doubt this fight was planned weeks (months?) in advance by coalition leadership. The CTA seems to have been done by the seat of their pants. It mostly just progressed in an ad-hoc fashion from what I can tell. And it was fun reading about it! If it was fun just to read about, I bet it was way more fun for the participants. That's the PvP CCP wants and needs.

But we’ve already seen how trying to force conflict over resources anywhere backfires. There has already been one run at turning FW into what CCP wants and it flopped big time because most capsuleers would rather farm than fight.

So what does all this have to do with the State of New Eden? Why is this a cross roads? Because in this instance the ISK source is not farmable. It is not bottable. It will not seduce any capsuleer into altering their play style to make insane amounts of ISK. The source of conflict for capsuleers does not revolve around the ISK faucet directly. There are no Technetium moons to protect through ridiculously ritualized sock hops with blasters. There are no PLEX to farm – at least not in the old way. There is no reason to caravan from one FW system to the next except to PvP. The only way to create more ISK is to create more conflict with other capsuleers. This is the cross roads where EVE Online might finally turn off the PvE road and onto the true PvP road.

I see a power shift on the horizon that CCP won’t stop from happening. If CCP prices Duster goods properly, and there is enough conflict to keep Dusters happily blowing each other up, this particular ISK source could be the largest yet. The place to be in New Eden will become the FW systems. Those who participate, whether they are individual capsuleers or corporations, will have the most fun and may even get stinking rich as well. With locations very close to high-sec, even noobs can get in on the gold rush. The likes of TEST and Goonswarm can stir the pot all they want, but who’s going to really notice with all the other roiling that’s going on? And you know what, that may be the best thing to happen to Goonswarm in a very long time. It certainly will be better for New Eden.

Happy New Year!

Fly Careful


  1. Interesting summary.

    I have recently returned to high sec after a spell in null and it certainly feels that the game design is not fit for purpose. It's full of frustrated people who want excitement but the game's natural tendency to steer people away from risk is making null sec not as fun as it should be.

    I'm thinking of a few ideas that turn the progression path in null back towards the ship v ship fights it was always intended to be but currently isn't because everyone's scared PL will hotdrop them.

  2. Well i always think why in eve cant you do pvp AND earn isk by doing pvp?
    If you really go out and shoot other people all day you gona be dead poor by the end of it.
    Thats the whole problem. All other incomes are just so much better. Nobody can be a proper space pirate and earn much.

    Well thats whats the problem in my opinion anyway. If you would get more isk from blowing people up then anything else, people would blow each other up endlessly.

  3. I guess it's not only that humans are community builders, but they will often gravitate to larger communities. People want to be part of something big and successful in general. There are a minority of pioneers and trendsetters, and they become the coalition leaders, the solo-pvp experts and the wormhole settlers.

    All the others just lose themselves in the general anonymity of highsec or become part of a large coalition because they feel like that makes them part of something great and meaningful.

    The fact that income depends mostly on PVE doesn't make that easier, but that's not the only thing. Communities like GSF basically make it almost unnecessary for the individual pilot to make ISK, but still people will just go out and run plexes.

    For as long as there can be communities in EVE which support themselves through peaceful means as much as military action, then those communities will form and gravitate towards a form of enforced peace.

    FPS games like DUST are different, the only purpose of the game is to shoot eachother and there actually is no other gameplay. If the community aspect were not there, then it wouldn't be EVE but it would be something like World of Tanks with spaceships.

    1. @ Emergent Patroller - A solid reply to a thought-provoking post.

      @Kara Kardan: I hadn't thought about strict pvpers being broke but it makes perfect sense. Pirates and reavers would be living from heist to heist.

      One of the appealing aspects of EVE, for me, is being able to conduct business and trade over a wide area. I am looking to expand into low sec in the upcoming months. However I am not a pvper (in any game) but I do love being able to have the rush of running cargo through rough areas. What? I watched too many trucker movies as a kid. So, does this I'm a PvE or passive PvP player? I might spend a week in station doing paperwork while drinking beer and bullshitting in corp chat. The next week I might go wandering around in a jump clone and shuttle just to look at stuff.

      If I just wanted a shoot 'em up game I'd go play BLOPS or Halo or something equally innocuous.

      I'm also curious what you folks would think would happen to the economy if pvp was rampant? Or if, for example, highsec stations could be destroyed (nigh on impossible except for the insanest amount of DPS available)? What if Jita actually burned? I realize these are abstract/vaguely absurd ideas but it would take something that catastrophic for me (or some players I've known) to join in a war - threaten my livelihood and you'll give me a reason to fight.

      Fly safe. o7


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