Thursday, April 17, 2014


"Any industry feature must be balanced around our risk versus reward philosophy."
      - CCP Ytterbium
For those of you who missed it, the value of nullsec real estate went up the other day

As more comes out about the changes I'll weigh in.  However, at first blush this strikes me as a high-risk strategy that rests on some very wobbly assumptions with regard to what the industrial actors in the EVE economy will do. I would very much like to hear what Dr. Eyjog's opinion of the changes were, assuming he was closely consulted.  He expressed misgivings with such a direction during the CSM7 summits and seems notably quiet on the matter during the CSM8 summits.  But then, more immediate concerns than the health of the in game economy may be driving design at the moment.

As Drackam over at Sand, Cider and Spaceships writes, this beneficence occurs on the heels of CCP's 20 million dollar write-down, and the collapse of their World of Darkness development project.  Meanwhile Dust 514 continues to perform poorly in the market, it's player base languishing under the 4,000 mark.

These dismal tidings are made all the more ominous with the departure of  Jon Lander, CCP Unifex,   who Ripard Teg credits with saving EVE Online after the Summer of Rage. CCP Unifex's departure is only the latest in an exodus of talent that has seen some of CCP's best and brightest seek greener pastures elsewhere.  Indeed, Poetic Stanzial commented yesterday on Twitter that all of the good CCP employees are jumping into life boats, and that none with any vision remained.

But perhaps visionary designers are, at the moment, superfluous to the situation on the ground.

With all of CCP's eggs now in the EVE Online basket, CCP seems suddenly and profoundly dependent the upon the good graces of sovereign nullsec.  Sov nullsec is, after all, home to many of EVE Online's 'elite' and high-profile players, and nullsec is the part of EVE Online that receives the most publicity from both the gaming and mainstream media.  With this in mind, CCP's sudden willingness to risk their game by handing the keys of the in-game economy to the sov nullsec player-base is not surprising.

Highsec and lowsec may pay the bills, but they rarely make press.

And I suppose, if there is an advantage to be had in any aspect of EVE Online, sov nullsec should have it. CCP's design philosophy says that a player's reward opportunities should be closely tied to the risk they face.  And as every capsuleer knows, life in sov nullsec is, without exception, one long unending roller coaster ride of heart-stopping peril and certain doom. Those who survive there are the steely-eyed masters of New Eden, the two-fisted heroes of EVE who eat lightning, shit thunder and before whom the very gates of Jovian space tremble.  Who among us would gainsay these digital demi-gods an absolute advantage in all things industrial?

Lowsec? Please! Doing industry in lowsec is for risk-averse pussies. 

With CCP's business model weathering recent set-backs and their design team apparently betting the farm on CSM Mynnna's nullsec-centric vision of EVE Online as their last best hope, one should not be surprised that CCP's visionary employees are seeking employment elsewhere. 


  1. I look forward to watching the PCU drop when the changes described in this and the subsequent industrial blogs are implemented. Of course, the null sec cartel propaganda teams will state there is no correlation between PCU and subs.

    Further, when prices are driven up (in high sec at least, because we know that null sec will be building at a fraction of the high sec cost), that will be blamed on mission runners and incursion runners, not on the huge taxes that CCP just implemented. That will set the stage for the next attack on high sec mission and incursion income, which is the last bastion of high sec income.

    1. And what are you going to say when the PCU stays the same or even goes up?

  2. The overwhelming consensus among those currently operating truely large scale industrial projects in Eve at the moment is a guarded optimism matched to a rather strong desire to put an immediate hold on most all plans (which is prudent regardless of the direction). This will be quite a bet since if most of the largest enterprises pull up roots and decide to make their holds permanent we will find out just how much high sec really does pay the bills.

    1. Or drive the economy. It's going to be interesting if nothing else.

    2. Ragelle, what are those same industrial operators going to say and do when the massive advantages null sec is about to be given are detailed in the subsequent blogs? Will they decide to become null sec serfs, or quit?

    3. They'll follow the money. Large industrialist think with their calculators. Not in terms of 'servitude' or even in terms of empire or null.

      They care about the bottom line and if that involves a certain amount of loss due to the area of space you operate in you just add it to the cost side of the column and see if it's worth it at the bottom line. vOv

    4. There are a lot of new variables in play and EVE's industrial community are not mere 'homo economicus' actors. Economic behavior is hard to predict by definition - especially in an in-game setting where participation is not mandatory.

      Bear in mind too that much of EVE's industrial output is generated by small operators. If production falls off, how far can it drop before the economy seizes up?

      A big change is that it's going to be easier for NS to 'fuck with markets' as Mynnna so charmingly puts it. If, for example, NS shuts down the POCOs in HS and LS what is the impact on EVE industrial productivity overall? What is the impact on LS if it must buy most of its ships from Sov NS?

      There are very few obvious outcomes here.

  3. My biggest gripe with the changes is the change in standings requirement.

    I think that the grind involved was a protective, competitive advantage that helped protect highsec from the coalitions of null. Without some in game mechanic that limits the influence of Null-sec in High-sec. The Big Blue Bored Doughnut is going to choke its next wave of content in the crib.

    My basic vision is Highsec should be a place to start and form an identity or group before moving to low, null or WH. Lowsec should be more rewarding than high and have mechanics that benefit risk taking, and small group play. Then you have WH, Null for best rewards where the N+1 game can live.

    I do think that in general Capsuleers freed from the shackles of the empires should reap greater rewards the lower the sec status but removing protective factors from highsec is going to be bad long term.

  4. I think it's way too soon to start with the doom and gloom. I'm part of a small cottage indy group and our indy guy is happy with the changes, even those that will make things more risky (such as no more magic remote blueprint handwavium).

    Null should be better than low should be better than highsec.

    My hope, and seeing Greyscale's name on 2 of the upcoming blogs pretty much shatters any hope, is that CCP will rebalance a lot of the other major areas, like wardecs, sov mechanics, highsec pocos, etc, that need a rethink as part of this new indy direction.

  5. @Heretic:

    "I think it's way too soon to start with the doom and gloom."

    Not doom and gloom so much as a realistic pointing out that this is a very high risk strategy on CCP's part. These are fundamental changes to EVE's industrial mechanics. They will have a profound impact on the in-game economy and no one knows in what way. If the highsec/lowsec economy doesn't respond well, we may all be looking for a new game.

    "Null should be better than low should be better than highsec."

    It ain't necessarily so. Certainly not if we're being honest about the nature of risk. What's good for the overall game is more important than what's good for a few entitled players in sov nullsec.

    1. @ Mord: "no one knows in what way" and I both know that the goons had huge input on every one of these changes, and have already worked out all the potential scenarios this will play out, and how they will maximize their income.

      This is no different than all those multi-national corporate lobbyists being part of the ongoing design of the TransPacific Trade Partnership, which is being designed in secret.

    2. Many will be attempting to work through the potential scenarios. I would not expect Goonswarm to do otherwise, and do it thoroughly, given that economics can be treated as another form of force projection.

      I have no reason to believe they're received any early insights as to which mechanics would be implemented, or the underpinning details.

      As I wrote last week: The Mittani® and company are meddling with powers they do not understand. I appreciate they think they do; hubris is part of most tales that end in tragedy.

      'Nuff said.

    3. "I have no reason to believe they're received any early insights as to which mechanics would be implemented, or the underpinning details."

      I agree. mynnna and the other representatives of null security blocs on the CSM little reason to breach the NDA to give their organizations an advantage in-game. Honestly, they will respond to the changes successfully without forewarning, even if those changes possibly break the game.

    4. "It ain't necessarily so. Certainly not if we're being honest about the nature of risk. What's good for the overall game is more important than what's good for a few entitled players in sov nullsec."

      But if we're being honest about the internal consistency of the game, that's how it's got to be. The degree to which each area is better than the other is a balancing trick, and yes, that's where the devil is, in those details. It's far past time that CCP looked at rebalancing everything about the fundamentals of the game, from wardec mechanics to POSes to sov mechanics to isk generation.

      In short, there does need to be an incentive to get out of highsec. Not forced, not nerf highsec into the ground, but there must be greater reward for greater risk. Unfortunately, CCP devs seem to be increasingly unable to design for their own game, even when they hire players.

    5. @Heretic Caldari: Well, now you've wandered into tautology. You are saying the reason sov nullsec has to be the best because sov nullsec has to be the best. You can call it 'balance' or 'internal consistency', but you're engaging in a self-reinforcing argument.

      In effect you're saying that 'risk/reward' is a mere euphemism for giving all the toys to a small group of players at the expense of everyone else. If actual risk has nothing to do with it, it is a marketing slogan and not a design philosophy.

      In your last paragraph you circle back and invoke the party line: "[T]there must be greater reward for greater risk." Again, if you are honest in that statement and we are honest about the nature of risk, then sov nullsec should not necessarily get the best of everything.

    6. Wow, Mord, did you ever misinterpret what I was trying to say.

      I'm saying it's a basic fundamental of good game design that the harder, more difficult areas give the greater rewards. That does not also mean that the less difficult areas should have meaningless rewards.

      I guess I must be completely confused about what you are trying to say, because you now seem to be arguing that the rewards should be of equal value no matter if a player is in high, low, null, or wormhole space.

    7. @Heretic Caldari:

      You appear to have misunderstood me as well, and I apologize if I was unclear.

      I am saying that, if we're being honest about the nature of risk, the area in EVE Online being provided the greatest rewards is not the riskiest area of the game. The biggest rewards go to the areas controlled by the richest, most visible and well organized elements of the player base.

      It has long been taken as a given that sov nullsec is the riskiest place to play. That is not true, and has not been true for some time.

    8. Oh, now I understand :)

      Yes, agree 100%. My comments were also filtered through a what should be instead of a what is, hence my comments on CCP needing to re-balance most major aspects of the game. I doubt they will, but I think a lot of big areas need complete overhauls, and quickly.

    9. I wonder if they could make rewards dynamic in some way. Based on actual metrics. Like increasing rewards for a lot of pod deaths, or diminishing returns in systems with a lot of NPC kills but no ship loses. Or a complex weave of factors.

      Which would be a great buff to Low-sec I think.