Sins of a Solar Spymaster #71 - What Is To Be Done?
The Mittani returns to Iceland for another CSM Summit and offers his thoughts on what needs to be done to improve the EVE universe.
The best thing about Iceland in the glacial heart of winter is that there are no tourists. Only the Icelanders themselves, a handful of somewhat confused expatriates wondering what they got themselves into, and madmen. As I write this I'm munching on fish and chips at a deserted cafe, my favorite restaurant in Reykjavik, which is jammed during more hospitable climes. I'm in town for a week for the December CSM Summit, and so - based on my tripartite division of Winter Iceland's population - I must be one of the nutters.
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Iceland in winter is much like Alaska; no sun, freezing cold (a good bit warmer than Alaska, really; Canadians and those from the upper Midwest will be right at home) and a complete lack of daylight. There's a brief haze of gray that begins around 1pm which counts as 'day'. In Summer the Icelanders drink out of joy, and in this season they drink out of despair. If you come armed with Vitamin D supplements and find a sunlamp, though, you can stave off the suicidal ideations and crushing depression that your biochemistry will offer up from the utter lack of light.
I was last in Reykjavik in July during the bright-yet-unpleasant days of the Incarna Emergency Summit, and then returned home just in time for the abortive invasion of Deklein by PL, NCdot and Raiden. Unlike the May summit, there was no official spaceships discussion in July, just endless recrimination about the failures of Incarna. This time should be different; with Incarna dead and Crucible being heralded as a restoration of EVE, spaceships are at last front and center in CCP's planning.
This begs the question: What is to be done? Already many of the 'sucking chest wounds', the most broken areas of EVE, have been fixed in Incarna. We now find ourselves in the happy position of looking to fix things that are broken in the game - of which there are many - but not actively driving the customer base to quit en masse. Here's what I - and my liver - will be pushing for this week.
*Destructible Outposts: Face it - nullsec is littered with outposts now, even in the most trivial of systems. Outposts are invulnerable in the present Dominion sov system, meaning that spamming a region with stations as a speedbump against invasion is an effective and widely-utilized tactic. The proliferation of outposts after Dominion has correlated absolutely with the stagnation of bloc warfare as a tool of regional conquest; players simply do not enjoy fighting through four off-time zone timers for every single station they have to capture.
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The solution is simple: let outposts be destroyed. The question is not 'should outposts be destructible' as much as 'how do we handle the assets in a destroyed station'. There are two primary ideas, both valid, that have come up to address this. The least destructive option is to have a destroyed outpost become a 'wreck' which can be repaired with a new outpost egg; once repaired, all the assets in the destroyed station become available to their owner as before. The alternative was suggested by CSM delegate Two Step, a 'forced firesale' of all assets within the destroyed outpost. Upon destruction, every asset in the wreck is automatically put up for auction. The owner of the items being auctioned gets 80% of the auction value, the alliance destroying the station gets a cut, and (an easy deflationary isk-sink) CONCORD takes a tax. In this way, a player 'loses' items in a destroyed station, but those losses are converted into isk, rather than setting up an 'I lost everything, I quit' scenario that might scare off CCP.
*Tech 2 Frigate Revamp: Assault Frigates didn't make it into the Crucible rebalancing; they're an obvious candidate for the post-Crucible release. A less well-known situation is that facing Electronic Attack Ships, the least common ship class in EVE. More pilots fly Titans than the neglected EAS frigate.
Originally intended as a 'mini recon cruiser', the EAS frigates are too fragile and lack any unique role, completely overshadowed by their larger cousins. The solution? Allowing EAS ships to use their electronic warfare abilities on ships which are normally immune to ewar - the supercapitals.
Presently, supercaps en masse can still operate without a support fleet, though not without risk. A properly supported group of supercaps will make short work of any squadron of EAS frigates. But supercaps operating alone would have a much harder time hitting a frigate-level signature, even where cruisers and battlecruisers fear to tread.
*Drone Bounties/Mining Buff: Mining has been dead in nullsec as a profession since the Drone Regions were introduced. The rats there drop alloys which are refined into high-end minerals instead of having isk bounties; this flooded the high end market with drone minerals and A/B/C mining across EVE flatlined, except for a tiny minority of dedicated or foolish miners. Since miners were once a primary form of prey in 0.0, we need to revitalize the A/B/C ore - get rid of drone rat alloy drops, replace them with a traditional isk bounty. Voila, arkonor has value once more.
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*The Bot Problem: Something is wrong in New Eden, despite all the Fanfest-era sturm und drang about cracking down on bots. As a matter of raw speculation, I suspect that CCP's security team has mostly been focused on plugging holes in the still-shaky new forum software and/or chasing internal leaks rather than working on in-game automated isk generation. This is a huge issue for the playerbase; not only is inflation getting out of control, but bots ruin the low-level PvP - ratter hunting - that sustains all more advanced forms of PvP up the food chain.
*Ditch Aurum: Almost everyone involved in the Noble Exchange debacle appears to have been sacked during the 20% purge. The most ideal solution to the problem of microtransactions and Aurum is for CCP to back away slowly from Aurum and act like it never happened. Keep it to Incarna clothes, and convert any plans for additional microtransactions to flat isk. The economy needs isk sinks, and isk sinks drive PLEX sales without the controversy (and riots) of the sort Aurum inspires. Aurum should be a clothing-only currency. Every 'convenience microtransaction' or 'vanity microtransaction' makes more sense when sold to the players for isk than through aurum - a currency so loathed that even when given away en masse during the 'Eve is Real' promotion, most players ignored it entirely or unsubscribed.
*Neglected Features: Remember Faction Warfare, which was going to provide an introductory taste of PvP to newer players? Yeah, me neither - and CCP hasn't touched FW since its release in 2008 during the 'Empyrean Age' expansion. Amusingly, CCP released a companion novel to help sell the concept of FW, then never iterated on FW again. The feature stagnated and is at best comatose. With Incarna dead, there are now no more excuses - FW must get some love, even if it's a few basic 'little things' balance passes.
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*Sov with a Purpose: Right now the optimal form of alliance in EVE is a stateless, sovless supercap blob that relies on Technetium moon income - the Iceberg type of alliance I predicted years ago, like NCdot before they took Tribute and Pandemic Legion today. Sov war drives the narrative and content of EVE and that has suffered under the twin threats of Technetium and Greyscales tinkering with anomaly values. To make sovholding have a purpose beyond pride, we must first rebalance moon minerals such that technetium is not the end-all of alliance income, probably by adding r32 alchemy. Then there must be new and more useful upgrades to Infrastructure Hubs to boost the value of holding sov. The issue with technetium isnt merely its imbalance vis a vis other moon products, but the fact that moon income is completely independent of sovholding. In an ideal EVE, the primary form of alliance income would be tied directly to that alliances territorial control, perhaps via a greater emphasis on Planetary Interaction.
The 'daylight' is over, as is my lunch; I have been at this cafe for barely an hour, and Reykjavik begins its slide into darkness. As ever, much of these CSM summits take place in the interstitial and unofficial hours; you can learn more from a dev in five minutes over beer at Islenski Barinn than you could at a day of meetings, which are recorded as part of an official record. We have arrived here on Tuesday, mostly from the States, mostly at 7am local time on a redeye; everyone passed out until lunch, trying to acclimate to local time. Now the real work begins - the bars beckon, and then eight hours of meetings with more lobbying between Wednesday and Friday. Yay, Iceland.
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