Sins of a Solar Spymaster #35: Chronotis' War
We have had many things to thank CCP Chronotis for over the years. Nominally, he is the dev charged with a science and industry portfolio, meaning that he mostly deals with incredibly boring things like moon goo and invention. But there are the odd flashes of excitement; rumor has it that the code for jump bridges was implemented by him when the rest of the staff were apparently baffled, and the stealth bomber changes (warping while cloaked, nuking people with bombs) allegedly sprung from his mind. And now we have him to thank for turning Geminate, formerly a backwater holder of the 'second worst region in the game' title, into a hotly contested flashpoint between two nullsec powerblocs and moon goo is to blame.
One of the more prosaic changes implemented in Dominion was a revamp of moon mining products , collectively referred to as 'moon goo'. Pre-Dominion, there was a tremendous bias in profitability towards 'Rarity 64' goo, particularly promethium and dysprosium, to the point that the entire t2 market had its price points pegged to the vicissitudes of prom and dyspro, both of which could be readily impacted by nullsec politics as alliances did their level best to seize and hold each other's R64 moons.
The original intent of the alchemy process was to lessen the reliance on prom and dyspro, but despite the best intentions of the devs, it made little impact economically. A further price shock hit when the Es and Whizz drug cartel was exposed as a laundering organization for a R64 duping operation; when the dupers were finally banned (after many years of successfully producing goo from thin air), prom and dyspro went from being merely expensive to prohibitive.
In classic CCP fashion, the response has been an overnerf. (For those of you who are newer to the game and might be unaware of CCP's tendency to overreact, consider that Gallente ships once were the most powerful race by an order of magnitude. I kid you not.) Not only has alchemy output been quadrupled, which might well have solved the problem, the amount of R64 product used has been adjusted in every T2 item. If this resulted in a mere reduction in prom and dyspro prices, this would be a valedictory column and Geminate would be properly infested by a bunch of cast-off third rate alliances, rather than the fulcrum of the Next Big War. But no. A new bottleneck of T2 production was created, which requires the use of technetium. In an amusing twist, this type of moon goo is only available in a few regions in the Galactic North, unlike prom and dyspro which, while rare, could be found everywhere in the galaxy. Dyspro is at ~33k p/u, Prom at ~23k, and Technetium is at ~53k and rising fast.
It's not that CCP didn't have warnings that their moon fix would backfire horribly. Back at the start of November, Akita T posted a lengthy analysis of the proposed changes and identified the issue of a technetium bottleneck. This has become one of the largest threads in the Market Discussions forum, yet in the month between the general acknowledgment among the players that this was a disaster in the making, nothing was changed.
So now the Northern Coalition is sitting pretty on their existing holdings of R64s, plus essentially all the technetium in the game , save for little Geminate - a region that had previously been on par with Providence for economic irrelevance. Since mid-09, Geminate has been the property of one Wildly Inappropriate Alliance, the easternmost member of the Northern Coalition bloc. After the Dominion expansion, Geminate was immediately invaded by a technetium-hungry cabal including Atlas Alliance, Solar Fleet and Red Alliance. This is an unusual grouping of former enemies which might just coalesce into a new bloc, since the southeastern half of the galaxy is still reeling politically from the formal announcement of Evil Thug's retirement from EVE, which has left Against All Authorities without its founder and leader.
The dev team hates it when any particular change to the game is pinned on a specific dev, so they will likely deny that any of the hilarious economic disruption or the war for Geminate has anything to do with CCP Chronotis. Torfi, in an interview given post-Dominion , kvetched about how the playerbase blamed CCP Nozh for ruining the wildly popular capital changes implemented by CCP Abathur. If we are to take Torfi's statements at face value, an entire team of people are responsible for various idiocies occasionally vomited forth from Reykjavik; what Torfi may not realize is that it is far less damaging to the perception of CCP's competence to allow individuals to take the blame for the most flagrant mistakes. Personally, I don't believe Torfi for a second, since shortly after that interview all of the Nozh-backed changes were summarily reversed on the test server and Abathur appears to be back in the saddle of capital ship reform. Regardless of CCP's protests, there can be little doubt: the fight for Geminate is Chronotis' War.