The Road to Nerfdom: Highsec's Carebear Future

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First, Great article.I have a tattoo on my wrist that says "keep it like it was". I've lived my whole life with that motto in mind, yet here, in this instance, I have to say that I simplu do not agree. Highsec ganking is an issue that simply is not healthy for the game. You mentioned niche markets, well, highsec gankers are a niche market within EVE, a rather small one at that. A niche that is arguably so small, it's insignificant. Breaking the mechanic of unfettered suicide ganking will allow new blood the time that is needed to figure new eden out; which will lead to more and longer subscriptions; which will lead more pilots into NULL and Lowsec (or RvB =).Now, I am not entirely promoting a trammel like environment. Point of fact, I am arguing against such a monstrosity. Here is the counter proposal. Give the new players and care bears an evironment that provides a degree of safety from gankers.Yet, gankers can still gank. Make a CONCORD blackout module that can be purchased, fitted, and activated to delay concord intervention (black market anyone?). Make the module expensive. Revamp crimewatch to where a ganker needs to make a choice. I will be a permanent criminal if I blow up this hulk, or, do I save that status for a freighter loaded with 50 bil in BPOs.Maybe an agent in the system that will "divert" concord for a small amount of time for a fee.Anything, but allowing unfettered, unrestricted, no consequence ganking in highsec.-k
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I think you're probably right, and you obviously spent a lot of time writing it up but I still can't help but think:... so what?It's a fringe mechanic used by a fringe group in what has to be the most one-sided arrangement in the history of gaming.
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My issue with the whole scenario is that the reward side of the risk vs. reward analysis is far too high in carebear highsec.And no, the occasional gank isn't really a significant "risk" or deterrent.
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Check the evolution of RuneScape starting 10-12 years ago... Null sec->themepark/Null->themepark/less and less and less risky null -> stopped playing. Over time the risks/consequences of dying kept getting lower and lower and lower everywhere. I haven't played in 5 years but at that point it was nothing of what it originally was and I shudder as EvE appears to slowly go down that path. Lets hope they don't go too far.
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Avoiding being KILLED by CONCORD is an exploit, delaying it used to be something else entirely.
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The way I see it is that a year ago most exhumer ganks happened using battleships and the occasional battlecruiser. Then two buffs happened. The buff on destroyers and the buff on the overall hybrid gunnery systems. As a result, it became possible to gank exhumers with a simple Catalyst. This mining barge and exhumer buff rectifies that situation pretty much back to where things were a year ago. It's not a pro-carebear game change, it's a restoration of the previous gank and tank ballance that was disrupted when the ongoing iteration wave began.
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Many are commenting about the degree of importance ganking has in the game, using this to dismiss the concerns started in the article. I interpret this article not as criticizing ccp's decision to Nerf gankin, but of the greater trend of allowing players to opt out of the "darkness" that is still very much a part odd this game. This is a very real concern! Imagine if ccp listened to the naive individuals that beg for null sov to be independantly attainable for 100 player alliances.What this article lacks is a call to action. If we believe the game we love is threatened is at risk, we should organize and force the csm and ccp to address this concern. I hope this will be dealt with in part 3.
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Empire space has to evolve over time. It makes no sense for it to be stagnant. That doesn't require any "God" its just the natural spread of government, and the police. Empire space should grow, and over time, Concord should move farther out into low-sec, creating more High-sec space. This is only the logical progression these Factions would make.To counter this, the criminals "null and low sec residents" should have to keep moving farther out from the spread of Empire control. Just like in real life, and countless sci-fi stories before. To balance, add in new Null-sec space, with new resources, and new things to fight.
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upgrade 4 constilations to 1.1-1.5 where players can get their feet wet without constant fear of ganking... shrink the rest of high sec just a bit and call it even.Eve does need a zero risk area, but it needs to be of so little value that any player will leave as quickly as possible. Stock it with all those useless mining mission ores have NPCs on the market to buy them dirt cheap (this also allows for control of the economy in the safe zone) and only have civilian shit drop. Want to make isk? Go where there is risk... This balances pretty much every sides concerns, CCP for new players (cause that's what this is about), gankers (shit doesn't have to change), carebares (if your still routinely losing ships at this point, go do PvP, cause you suck at being a carebear)... It's in line with the games core concepts and the heart of the game but bends that learning cliff down just a bit at the start so players who might love the game don't run away crying before the trial is over.
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"Indeed, one top-rated comment on the article--by a commenter who approved of the exhumer rebalance, no less--conceded that CCP's official explanations were so weak as to be "straw man arguments""Hi there! It's me again. Do you know what a straw man is? It's an argument you ascribe to the opposition which is inherently weak or flawed in order to artificially bolster your point. I gave you a solid reason as to why the buff was necessary (post-drone nerf, mineral prices have skyrocketed and have failed to stabilize since) and you never addressed it in this HUGE article. You had tons of room to talk about how "one seemingly legitimate argument for the buff involves addressing the risk versus reward of mining. This has resulted in unchecked inflation of mineral prices and thus ship prices across the board." An Oracle cost about 50m to produce before the Drone nerf, now 75m. All ships have seen similar inflation. Yet though you quote me from your last article, you still fail to address my criticism.I can only assume you have nothing to say other than "AUGH CCP Y U NO LET ME GNAK???"
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Interestingly enough, this exists, in the starting systems and missions - suicide ganking is actually not allowed within these systems. I think that covers the line fairly well - a fresh character takes 2+ months of SP to fly a decent hulk, by which point it's easy to move on. Before this point, barges were not terribly profitable to gank compared to the cost to replace them.
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Tea leaves thwart those who court catastrophe,designing futures where nothing will occur:cross the gypsy’s palm and yawning shewill still predict no perils left to conquer.Jeopardy is jejune now: naïve knightfinds ogres out-of-date and dragons unheardof, while blasé princesses indicttilts at terror as downright absurd.
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Your argument may make sense from a flavor standpoint, but the gameplay implications of this suggestion are staggeringly bad.The suggestion of the expansion of concord implies than any player-created civilizations and empires would eventually be annexed by NPCs, erasing that accomplishment from the hands of players. This is bad.The suggestion of continually adding new frontier systems indicates starting over from scratch in what (under current mechanics) is not a terribly rewarding area creates a cycle which may introduce burnout and doesn't encourage any accomplishment.Furthermore, expanding the size of the universe without concern to how it spreads population is also ill-considered. It also fails to account for resource balancing as well, or the server resources to deal with this 'new space'I understand the idea of Null being a frontier with a hard life but the potential for great wealth and a new civilization is one of the central myths EVE sells, but it's just that: a myth. These mechanical concepts do not necessarily make for good gameplay, and they haven't been true for as long as I have been playing - Null, and even W-space, are settled, have residents, and if you want to make your own section of space, you clear out the previous residents. Assuming there would always be more world, more pristine wilderness, and that CCP should generate some anew, is romantic, but nonsense.
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Reading these comments and looking at the proportion of, if we oversimplify this, "Pro-Gank" vs "Anti-Gank" opinions, it becomes evident TheMittani.com has become very successful even outside the CFC and nullsec.
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What. Seriously, where are you getting these numbers from? The fact you're citing 'low' rather than 'null' or 'w-space' suggests you're either ill-informed or a poor troll.
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Mining Scordite in a Hulk with bonuses was raking in 35m/hr pre-patch. You're either trolling or really bad at making money.
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This is pretty dumb. Other MMOs have shown the themepark style is dying or dead. Look at SW:TOR. CCP knows thier game needs their niche market with thier niche players.
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I bet they believe it. Because it's convenient for them.
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I suppose they mean Faction Warfare farming, the latest and greatest way to farm LP.
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Noting that "we're being ganked too much" resulted in EHP buffs, what could possibly go wrong by claiming "we can't make enough money in highsec"
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If that's the case, then it's fair to say lowsec LP farming is the new highsec incursions.
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The argument that a 300M ISK ship should not die easily to a 60M ISK ship holds up if you believe the price of a ship is related to its combat effectiveness. That isn't necessarily the case; combat is simply one of many functions in which the fittings and abilities of a ship may be focused. Cost is related to the function of the ship your are purchasing.My Cheetah, which has less defense than, less damage output than, and overall less direct combat ability than my Rifter, costs fifty times as much ISK. The combat ability of the Cheetah isn't what makes it expensive; rather, it is its specialized noncombat function that makes it expensive: probing, covert ops, scouting, camping, moon exploration, covert cynosural field generation, etc.A point that escapes the consideration of many gamers is the extensiveness of mathematical foundations for character and vehicle stats assignment. Whatever the specific in-house term from studio to studio, "power points" are laid out in a ladder-like progression structure and specific stats -- speed, armor, damage bonuses, industry bonuses, module slots, gem slots, attack power, critical strike ratings, everything -- are given a coefficient of value to adjust their effectiveness against each assigned point. With testing, it might be found that (arbitrarily) one percent of extra damage may be worth two extra meters per second of velocity. As development progresses and mechanics become more complex, the scales become very complicated very quickly.Coming back to the question, "Is it right that a 300M ISK Hulk should be killed by a 60M ISK battlecruiser," we might now agree that the question is a little deeper than raw ISK. We must first consider the purpose and design intent behind each hull.Would my combat Rifter destroy my covert operations Cheetah outright 100% of the time? Absolutely. Is my Rifter more expensive? No. Somewhere along the line, when a mathematically talented CCP HF employee considered the value of the stealth, spying, and probing abilities of a Cheetah, the Cheetah was figured to be X times more valuable than the Rifter, and X became how many more resources and how much more difficult a Cheetah should be to manufacture.Just as my Cheetah is less combat effective yet more expensive than a Rifter, the Hulk is less combat effective yet more expensive than a Battlecruiser. We may now rephrase the question to properly."Is it right that a hull whose base value is dedicated to warfare can be outmined by a hull whose value is dedicated to harvesting?" I would hope you answer yes. A Tornado is a cruiser with no bonus to industry."Is it right that a hull whose base value is dedicated to harvesting can be outgunned by a hull whose value is dedicated to combat?" I would hope you answer yes. A Hulk is a cruiser with no (prior) bonus to combat."But the Hulk costs five times as much ISK!" The Hulk's mining bonuses are worth five times as much ISK. If you want a ship with a Tech I cruiser price, you should be ready to accept the Tech I cruiser-level mining bonuses. In a balanced world, you're looking for the Scythe.Sorry, but the plight of miners shelling out 220-300M ISK for Tech II mining barge (cruiser) hulls is shared with everyone else flying Tech II cruisers. Muninns, Broadswords, Scimitars...they're all going to run a pilot a good 200-300M isk, if not more. Tech II guns are *expensive.*We're all paying more for Tech II cruisers. Nothing is special about the Hulk. It's price is matched correctly against its abilities and Tech II peers.
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please do google OTEC you'll probably find that there's a ton of people fighting a gigantic war over it having all kinds of fun.
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All true, and certainly reasonable. With the exception that no other type of ship in the game requires being stationary in public locations for long periods of time without an ability to prevent attackers preparing to, and following through on killing them. If you notice, In my post I did not state that it was unreasonable that a 60 mil ship+ fittings be capable of suicide ganking a hulk. That's perfectly reasonable by my standards. A BC requires enough isk and sp investment that constantly recycling them in order to get new ganking chars is unfeasible and expensive.My problem was that prepatch, three or four 3 mil dessies flown by a few days old chars were capable of killing even a well tanked hulk, with a total outlay of maybe 30 mil between them if you went with t2 guns. Such chars could then be recycled when they were no longer needed. No long term consequence, little isk outlay, no real prevention once the tank is already decently tanked.And GL trying to file a petition that a char who suicide ganked you and was recycled was done for the very limited exploit as defined by CCP. That was what was broken with the system, not that people could be suicide ganked.As far as I'm concerned, It's in a good spot right now. Barges can still easily be killed, even by a single player, but the SP required to do so makes suicide ganking have a longer term consequence for the ganker in the form of a sec hit + a mediocre wallet hit. I suppose the catalyst gank squad is still theoretically possible, but people ganking barges dont seem to do so in packs of more than 2.
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FW farming is a new and hopefully temporary thing, since there can be no balance when you can make hundreds of millions or billions an hour with such little risk.
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For starters, it's disconcerting that you file petitions against folks who are not using exploits or cheats.Killing an untanked Hulk in high security space pre-patch required perfect Catalyst skills with near-perfect core skills, and even then success was a coin toss.This is the Catalyst that was likely often used against you: http://eve.battleclinic.com/lo...Getting relevant skills to IV takes 58 days. That's hardly "a few days," and it isn't even perfect.
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You misunderstand, A: I never mined prepatch. I do mine ice now in retrievers on 4 accounts, but hey, I'm a full time college student and I might as well make 25mlish per hour 99% afk if im on my computer anyway. If anyone decides to suicide gank one of them, meh, oh well. I couldn't even be bothered to care about miners before the patch beyond "Why does the #%$$ abbadon cost 300 mil fitted?"I was referring to the practice of using multiple day old catalyst chars with minimal skills, who would be used until their security status dropped too low, then biomassed and another was created. This cycle of biomassing of ganking chars with slow sec status and low sp in order to free up slots to create new ones for ganking was declared an exploit by ccp. These could be trained to fly a catalyst and to use small blasters and magstabs within hours of character creation, with the only constraint being the biomass timer before they could be deleted after repeatedly being used to gank.A few players could each create one of these alts, drop a few levels of frigates, a level of weapons upgrades, and small blasters skill to a couple and have more than enough dps to take out an exhumer between them. Then start the biomass cycle, go to sleep, and delete it the next morning. That was declared an exploit.If someone uses a BC to suicide gank though, they probably wont be recycling it. Ganking is in a good spot, easily possible, but it does have consequences beyond the 10-15 mil it took to fit those catalysts flown by the day old alts, recycled by breakfast the next morning. That part was just plain stupid by any standard.
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Thanks for clarifying.
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If you just spend 2+ months training for a hulk, only to figure out that now you're guna have to spend at least a month more to fly anything capable of getting some vengence... and this is your first eve account mind you... How many players are going to just say "fuck it" and walk. None of those tutorials teach you to stay aligned, or how to acutally fit proper tank, or that people even will suicide gank if their in the mood... Eve doesn't present itself as some cutthroat game from the start, so why is it imperative that all aspects of it must include that to keep the "spirit" or some bullshit. And really, the reason carebares hate ganking... We don't understand the fucking point... I think any carebare can respect a PvP guy, mercs, sov, even gate campers... Those guys have a profit motivation or some understanble point of pride. What the hell is so special about a suidcide ganking? Your blowing up a ship that doesn't have any guns, how is that even fun?
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Massive read, its a very hard topic, thats very complicated. Personally I would not have an issue with high sec getting safer, I never go there for pvp anyway.I just hope CCP continues to grow and make money, it would be sad for the game to die as its own fans prevent it from adapting and changing to survive.If they make High Sec safe, they need to nerf the hell out of the profits and make Low Sec and Null Sec THE PLACE to be if you want to make epic isk. At no point should a player be alloud to earn equal or greater than his null/low sec counterpart if they choose a mundane high sec safe life.
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I have a better idea. Make a "call for concord" button that can't be activated until you are fired upon. If you have fit a tank, you hit the button and the gankers go boom. If you aren't paying attention, you go boom.
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Highsec is an isk faucet, if you dont want to bot missions for lp, there is afk mining, and if thats too boring there is no risk incursions. If CCP truly wanted to make it a "sandbox" they would allow us to hold sov in high sec.
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Why cant I play the way I want without the risk of being concorded?
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The inflation is good for the market, its not like you were not making better money, the cost to produce went up so did the price.
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I'm afraid that you are opening your umbrella after the rainstorm. Highsec is already "completely" safe. I never lost a ship in highsec despite often running with 10B+ cargo. I've yet to hear of a highsec gank where the victim wasn't deeply in fault. Even your own article says that a smart miner had good chance surviving gank attempts before barge buff.The current gank victims are careless, dumb players who do some capital fail, like autopiloting a 5K EHP industrial with 10B, AFK mining wardecced and so on. While killing the dumb and lazy is "doing the Lords work", it's not really a game-making feature. I doubt if you could build a marketing campaign on "play EVE, here you can gank illiterate children". PvE players want to progress their character and/or build something with their group, PvP players want to win over worthy opponents.So the further highsec aggression nerfs will not make damage to the game, simply because the damage is already done. They will merely save a group that provides funds to CCP while has zero effect on the EVE history: idiots.
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I agree with you. I really don't have a problem with the changes they've made to high sec mining. I don't mine and I don't live in high sec. As long as the rewards escalate the lower the security status of the space you're in decreases that should be enough to move people into low/null sec who want to try it.I really don't see a problem if people a) want to stay in hi sec missions, mining etc and b) if they make isk doing it. For EVE to grow it needs a nursery system, to some extents that is high sec. If CCP find a correlation between making high sec safer and increased player numbers that's good for them and the game.
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From what it is known about WoD, it is intended to implement hard separation between social part, sandbox and PvE content. Maybe that means that EVE is going exactly the same route. Well, if we can't do anything about it (which is the case), I really hope that CCP will realize one day that PvE content shouldn't be just "hit F1, count cash".
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"In Part 3, I will explain why I think everyone--CCP most of all--would be negatively impacted by a risk-free highsec."Not that I want to steal your thunder, but there is some fairly compelling evidence that making EVE like all the other MMOs out there would kill it. I'm not going to address what CCP's motivations and plans behind the scenes are because there is just too little real evidence to base anything on and too much to speculate on.If you look here (http://mmodata.blogspot.com/) at the MMOData Charts (on the left, broken up by subscription levels) you will note two MMOs that have not tanked (or stopped sending their subscription data to this site), EVE and WoW (I don't count Second Life as a game). Even WoW has had a sharp downturn in subscription numbers recently.The ONLY MMO that is still included in those figures to show consistent sustainable growth is EVE (not counting the Incarna blip). I would attribute a significant portion of that result to EVE being player content focused rather than static content. From what I've seen and the limited conversations with CCP employees I have had I think that the staff at CCP have a firm grasp of what it is that makes EVE successful, and that nowhere should ever be "safe", only "safer".Hopefully upper management also understand this and can avoid the hubris shown with Incarna.
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Just because you don't understand the fun doesn't mean it's not there for somebody."Eve doesn't present itself as some cutthroat game from the start"Have you not seen the Butterfly Effect trailer, or the many others for that matter?
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There have been destroyer gangs performing ganks for along time, even using -10 characters.
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Hi-sec is meant to be the relatively safe police patrolled CCTV covered environment like a primary nation major city, maybe like London or Washington DC. If something happens in one of those cities would the security forces make it harder for it to happen again, damn right so it fits within the 'lore' of the game so it's right that a civilised hi security state would find ways to stop something like burn jita happening as easily again. You seem to be hung up on this one aspect of the game, ganking. In a civilised police protected state the action of ganking would be met with extreme force and the ganker would be marked for life to pay for his crimes and once caught would pay reparations to his victim. It seems to me that it is the gankers that you would like to have their cake and eat it.
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Highsec is extremely dangerous if you push that autopilot button.
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Very well written James I completely agree with your assesment of the situation.. I am a highsec wardeccer/can flipper/ninja not just because its fun but also because I prefer solo/small gang pvp that lowsec and null mostly don't cater for. I have seen CCP nerf (stealth and otherwise) the way I play over the past 2 years and I have reached the same conclusion that you have.. quite simply CCP want more money from their cashcow and the casual carebear crowd is solidly in their sights and this will be to the direct detriment of EVE. This constant nerfing has resulted in me not playing over the last month and seriously thinking about unsubing my 2 accounts.
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7 Talos needed to gank a freighter. Yes, high sec is clearly risk free atm.
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You missed the point. CCP is a company that wants to earn money. Not the game is the goal, but profit.Another misconception about players in EVE is, some are terrible carebears and some are good PVPlers. A typical carebear don't want to experience the RL with bad bosses and wife agression. He is dreaming of a better world, where he is able to achieve goals with lower effort than in RL. A typical PVPler has already given up to achieve his goals in RL and substituting this with a bad behaviour in game or he has already a home and a good job which gives him more strengh of his mind.Those 2 customer groups have contradictionary interests and therefore both groups trying to destroy the game of the other group. Shareholders of CCP demanding more profits and this as fast as possible. A easy way to do this, is to create better conditions for carebears, because they are the majority. So CCP sets his priorities on the carebears.From my point of view this has a potential of destroying the game, but then it's not avoidable, because this is an usual capitalistic process.Even PVPlers are blind for the needs of CCP generating more profit. Most ideas going for destroying the carebear areas instead of creating different areas for different demands. The result is a group of CCP game designers sitting between all chairs.
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That still doesn't make sense. Are you also arguing that those same destroyers shouldn't be able to kill a battleship? Or a covert ops, or a tech 3 cruiser, or a carrier?Because they can. People working together with cheap ships that attack bigger, undefended ships is a principle of EVE and it's ridiculous that you have this cognitive dissonance.
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A battleship can't gank exhumers now. You would need several (a dozen?) of them for a skiff, for example.
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You are equating combat ships with industrial ships and using the isk value to compare them. It doesn't work that way. FYI: an untanked carrier will die to a destroyer, too.
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Good luck looting it under the new crimewatch
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A massive percentage of ship losses involve ships where the aggressor is nearly untouchable by the defender; i.e interceptors killing a tier3 BC, or a swarm of tempests killing a titan.You need to look at the bigger picture to see why that is fun. Protip: eve is not a spaceship simulator.
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Why would it get safer, and not more dangerous? You just pulled that out of your ass.
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Growth is not the only evolution or "logical progression" an Empire can experience. Sometimes they fail, catastrophically, the result of which is centuries of lawlessness and chaos.Perhaps, to model this possible scenario, CONCORD should consolidate its resources into a handful of systems (0.8+) and reduce services to a "delayed response" for 0.5-0.7 systems. Or perhaps the static empire based content of the game should be left alone and let the dynamic content continue to happen in player controlled space.
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Very well written piece and I agree with pretty much everything contained therein. But it could 'really' have done with some images or diagrams or something in there to break up the wall of text.
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A battleship can gank exhumers. All Skiffs are exhumers, but not all exhumers are skiffs. See what I did there? It's called logic...
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True for miners, not for ratters. Anybody in 0.0 running belts or plexes has a fixed income based on bounties; when minerals inflate, the real value of ISK drops. Increasing the mineral supply through a barge buff leads to decreased mineral prices and better real income for ratters, meaning everybody who PvEs benefits (not just miners).The other thing - it's been mentioned elsewhere in these comments - is that suicide ganking is hardly dead. A T1 Talos puts out something like 1200 DPS? Shadow Cartel has been incredibly successful in killing mining barges lately. CCP acknowledges that suicide ganking is in a lot of ways good for EVE's economy, but only so long as it doesn't put a choke hold on the mineral supply.
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Are you serious? This is possibly the most hilarious thing I've read, ever. Let me get this straight, gankers and pirates who grief highsec miners and missioners for tears, and call them faggot carebears for complaining about it, are now crying like little bitches when RL businesstrolls are nerfing their ability to do so, for profit? Hahahaha, get over it faggots. If you don't enjoy the game anymore, move on or go back to 4chan!
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As a player as old as yourself, I'm amazed that you felt the need to write a piece like this. It's always been CCP's intention to make Highsec space a safe, theme park rather than a cruel sandbox. Suicide ganking - and highsec griefing in general - has always smelled of eve-boredom to me; I certainly know that one of the many times I've left the game was after an eventful summer can flipping and murdering miners in a pulse laser "pre buff" Anathema some time in 2007 or 2008.The reality is that those of us who relish the reflection on the harshness of reality that Eve enables are and always will be in the minority of the population - not just amongst gamers in general, but also amongst human beings as a rule and, crucially, amongst Eve-Online players. One look at the population levels in high sec systems as opposed to low and null sec ones is testament enough of that. So please, Stop flogging this dead horse.Your article says to me that you no longer believe CCP want Eve to be the cynical, merciless universe that you and I bought into way back when; they're a gaming company with a large number of staff to pay and huge bills for their massive server farm to cover. CCP want to create a beautiful and diverse universe that appeals to all gamers, and it's about time we stopped trying to bash them over this simple fact and embraced that the company has continued all these years to try and make both play styles feasible.
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You can - in null sec. So go there and play - it is a space designed for you where you can do what you like. Oh wait you don't like the rules out there because you want it your way don't you? Its quite transparent whats behind a lot of the anti posts on this.
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One final point I would like to make a Hulk costs 200million and a Mackinaw 222million in Rens as of today. This is not a huge difference in price. If the markets anticipated the vast increase in demand for Mackinaws they clearly got it wrong and so did you. People are balancing out the kinds of mining they wish to do as CCP have predicted.Like I said before in the interests of grinding an axe you have made your own straw man argument. Thats disappointing because you clearly have an awful lot of good points in this post.
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You complain of carebears getting it easy, whereas for gankers, it's been the case for a long time (until now). Yes, you would lose occasionally in a gank, but by and large, it's easy no risk pvp. You pick the target, they are entirely stationary, and you know you'll win. Your only concern is how many hulls to sacrifice to ensure the kill.Your target has zero chance of fighting back, they (carebears) are never in a pvp corp to pay you back later.Suicide ganking miners is little different from the losers on WoW who get to level 80 and then camp the starting areas of the opposite faction.The irony here is that the mining carebear isnt all that different from the high sec ganker. The miner wants low risk PVE where they can get loads of ISK. The ganker wants low risk PVP where they can get loads of kills.Yes, they'll lose a hull, but they do it because they know they are causing another player some inconvenience. The loss is on their terms. In actual PVP, someone else gets to make that choice for them. There's every chance they'll lose ship after ship and never cause any suffering to the enemy. And that's a risk they dont want to have to take.These changes dont stop you from suicide ganking. If CCP's aim was to remove it, they'd simple remove it. These changes just mean there's a tangible consequence for this style of ganking and/or griefing.There's plenty of pvp to be had out in low and null, and even in high if you want it.CCP arent saying "dont do it", they're saying "look, we want this to be possible so that if you really really hate them, then go for it, but it was never meant to be something you could actually break even, or profit from.".
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No you fool, read what I wrote. The aspect of ganking that was most broken was recycling alts. I knew one guy that was going through 4-5 characters named dstsdfsf a week because he was ganking like crazy and recycling them. And in the end, he never had to grind sec status to make them usable in highsec, he never had them open to be shot at by an angry miner with killrights, all he lost was the cost of a shitfit t1 fit catalyst and a day worth of training.But wait, it gets better. None of the skills required to do this are ones restricted from trial accounts, so he was using 2 trial accounts, using one to gank barges/exhumers while the other one trained up, and then using the newly trained one (massive one day train) to gank while the other one is recycled and trained back up. So he never even lost anything from his main accounts past the 2-3 mil it takes to fit a disposable catalyst.If you don't think there was a problem with that, then I'm not the one with "cognitive dissonance"
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You complain of carebears getting it easy, whereas for gankers, it's been the case for a long time (until now). Yes, you would lose occasionally in a gank, but by and large, it's easy no risk pvp. You pick the target, they are entirely stationary, and you know you'll win. Your only concern is how many hulls to sacrifice to ensure the kill.Your target has zero chance of fighting back, they (carebears) are never in a pvp corp to pay you back later.Suicide ganking miners is little different from the losers on WoW who get to level 80 and then camp the starting areas of the opposite faction.The irony here is that the mining carebear isnt all that different from the high sec ganker. The miner wants low risk PVE where they can get loads of ISK. The ganker wants low risk PVP where they can get loads of kills.Yes, they'll lose a hull, but they do it because they know they are causing another player some inconvenience. The loss is on their terms. In actual PVP, someone else gets to make that choice for them. There's every chance they'll lose ship after ship and never cause any suffering to the enemy. And that's a risk they dont want to have to take.These changes dont stop you from suicide ganking. If CCP's aim was to remove it, they'd simple remove it. These changes just mean there's a tangible consequence for this style of ganking and/or griefing.There's plenty of pvp to be had out in low and null, and even in high if you want it.CCP arent saying "dont do it", they're saying "look, we want this to be possible so that if you really really hate them, then go for it, but it was never meant to be something you could actually break even, or profit from.".
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I completely agree with Sabastian. Gankers are not some kind of benevolent group of high-sec shepherds, they are people who use 10 million ISK ships to destroy 250 million ISK ships for no other reason than to gain sadistic pleasure from ruining someone's day. You want to feel like a big bad ganker? Go to lowsec where there is a risk that you could pull the short straw. You'll have to excuse me if I laugh while they cry about how unfair it is that CCP nerfed their no-risk, all-reward activity. The only thing that highsec Hulk gankers add to this game is an almost unnecessary danger to an activity in which time is already the cost for reward. Well, that and OTEC profits.This article talks about CCP's desire to make a profit as if it's some kind of mortal sin. Welcome to the real world where businesses are either growing or dying. If they don't make money their adherence to "Eve's core concepts" won't matter because the servers will go offline. Most game companies would have shipped their final patch YEARS ago, but CCP is still just as determined to create new content. I think they are more than deserving of a chance to grow as a company and expand their player base without a bunch of self-entitled bittervets getting butthurt that the "no girls allowed" sign on their special club house is shrinking.Calm down. Sov won't disappear, nullsec won't have Concord in it, your Erebus will still be snuggled up next to you in the morning and tomorrow there will be cheaper ships with even dumber people flying them.
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As a suicide ganker and griefer who has extensive experience in both, I can quite happily say that we have had one thing in our favour over the years. The destroyer rework and T3 BCs were a very nice addition but the fact is, it is VERY easy to not get suicide ganked in any form of EVE. The fact is, people are stupid and stupid people deserve to die. Players who autopilot in shuttles or T2 frigates with 10+ PLEXs are not unheard of but just think what would have happened if that player just sat at his desk and warped to zero. Interceptors are 99.99% impossible to kill if they warp to zero, given enough players it would be possible but you would lose ISK, a shedload of it.Suicide ganking is not a problem, the problem is the lazy mentality that spreads throughout high sec like a plague. I have failed ganks on miners because they woke up when they saw my scan ship and ran away, I have seen miners that TANKED THEIR SHIPS to such a degree that it was not worth my time to kill them. Risk vs Reward is a huge part of EVE from L1 missions to Null Sec PVP, but it is being removed from High Sec completely.The problem with suicide ganking is that it is a cash cow for even the most unskilled player. Get a ship, fit it correctly, fire at enemy, win. The problem comes when there are say 10 thrashers sat at Jita undock waiting for players to warp there or undock but that is all bred from this culture of stupidity. Don't fly a shuttle with a PLEX in it and there won't be people queuing up to kill you...
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"You don't maximize your profits by catering to a minority."Except you do if your the best product in a class that serves a minority with money to spend. Less competition, you see.
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Creating "different areas for different demands" works in multi-sharded MMOs. You can't really do that in EVE.
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Any player who rushes headfirst into a Hulk within their first two months isn't going to play for very long anyway.
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It has always taken effort, target selection and an investment in ISK that may not pay off.
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Well that is sort of what I said. There is nothing wrong with sadistic pleasures in Eve, but yes they gank because they find it profitable and even fun if it fails that, not for a better game. That said you do hit on a great piece of irony in that gankers are complaining about maintaining the risk vs reward balance in the game while their activity is essentially zero risk. I am not anti-ganking, I even have a gank kit in empire, I am anti whining because ganking got a little harder.
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I think most everyone believes in the sandbox, but it is a sandbox and not a no rules cage fight. The basis of some kind of civil society is implied in the back story that makes gankers seem out of place. Why would any civil society allow mass murders and criminals to fly around in massive machines of destruction when they have the immediate means (concord) to stop them? Moreover if said criminals where disrupting the economy with illegal activity --like say mineral production-- that society would use every tool to stop that. Don't believe me, try messing with shipping in the Persian Gulf and see what that gets you.
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you can still suicide gank. you just don't get money back from insurance which is fine. buffing miners is still nothing post worthy.now when ganking a freighter with 10bil in cargo is unprofitable we have a problemwhen ganking a badger with 20 plex in cargo is unprofitable or undoable we have a problem
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Which begs the question: if players are the content creators, what is the content created in high sec? What will be the content created in high sec minus aggression? What will all these legions of carebears do when they log into the game? Sit in their Mackinaws and mine ice 10 hours a day? To what end?The primary driver making people log into an MMO day after day is progression. Once you can fly an exhumer, what progression is left for you and your corp? To accumulate ISK? Again, to what end? No one is destroying your assets, and buying more Mackinaws won't make you a better player or your pilot a better character. Not that there's anyone who does not like to make ISK, but after a certain point it is meaningless, the marginal value and utility is close to zero.If CCP wishes to turn EVE into carebear land, they will need to introduce new progression indicators. Will it be sparkly ships, titles and achievements?
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It's already working by the mechanics. What I wanted to point on is, we are destroying the game by developing it to a sort of WoT or WoW. Then we have to choose between PVP or PVE only. As long as CCP has enough customers, they don't care. EVE is not longer a project of a nerd dream.
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I don't care what happens in high sec as long as they make null sec always more profitable.
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There is much more to highsec aggression than suicide ganking. I wish the author included more discussion regarding other cherished highsec activities such as ninja salvaging, can flipping, awoxing and the like. I for one, have had to adapt to various nerfs in my highsec criminal career, the most sad being the need to hot-swapping with orca during a fight. I can still pull off a good ninja from time to time but it isn't nearly as common. The barge changes have reduced can mining significantly. CCP is forcing us deviants to adapt a lot ore than the carebears lately IMO
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Anhenka, you *cannot* destroy a hulk reliably with a Catalyst without two months of training.
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Part of me is suspicious that miners killed by a Catalyst simply look at it's prerequisites and think, "Wow, that took less than four days to fly?"I cannot stress enough how much time needs to be sunk into gunnery and core skills for a Catalyst to reliably kill an untanked Hulk in >=0.5 space.
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The sandbox idea falls on that you presume that whatever rules and scenarios that was before this ganking-nerf was THE sandbox, which is now no longer a sandbox, because the sandbox has a different set of rules. While the game is a sandbox, there are still certain boundries, which there of course has to be, if nothing else of technical reasons.In the matter of suicide ganking the math definitely did not add upp. Mining barges was, fitted with standard non-pimped modules suited for the task at hand without factoring in suicide ganking, profitable, or almost profitable to suicide gank in high-security space. Now suicide ganking is something that i definitely enjoy myself, and that I definitely think there is place for, I do not see why it has to be easy and profitable to suicide gank everything there is? Think about every other mission ship for example. They rarely fit to counter suicide ganking, but they fit for the task at hand. If they fit standard modules like t2 or cheap deadspace/faction they will (with exceptions) not be worth suicide ganking, but if they fit expensive modules like high-grade deadspace modules for several billions, they will be. That is a clear offset.The problem becomes even bigger when the mining ships (or ship, namely the hulk) also is damn expensive. Especially considering the actual isk earn per hour mining. While being so cheap to gank while fitted for yield, so that the miner lose up to 25 times the loss of the ganker(s) the ratio is scewed far away from any other ship in the game. And for that, the ganker may even turn a profit from the gank. The hulk must be one of the very few ships in the game that could possibly be ganked for a profit, undocked naked with only it's highslots fitted with t2 modules and some "ammo". Thats while costing 200+ million.EDIT: All values above here are pre-buff values.Speaking of making suicide ganking harder in general I would like to direct you to Red Frog Freight. Their maximum collateral has stayed at 1Bil and their prices has gone up for the following reason: "even with the insurance removal on concorded ship, it require now less Tornado then Typhoon to gank a freighter. as low as 9 if you got a really skilled crew, where it was 12 or 13 typhoon before.at some point in january, we should have reduced that to 700 or 800m, but it would have upset a lot of people. now with the price raise on the module (tornado didn't changed much) it bring back the break even at 1b."Even if I cannot find the post right now i think that early summer one guy from RFF said that they lost 1 freighter in 2011, and had lost 4 this far in 2012. That should at least be an indication that High-sec has not been made safer for anyone but miners. And frankly, i dont think it's too safe for them. Please also remember that one of the main ways to kill people in high-sec is meant to be by declaring war on them. If you feel that mechanic is lacking, don't blame that on suicide ganking!
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What the issue with safe highsec for carebears and themepark lovers ? If that keeps CCPs budget healthy, I'm all for it. However, the risk vs reward ratio should be kept in check. Let people wallow in highsec safety all day if they want to, but make it so they can't afford to buy PLEX with ISK, even if they play 24/7.IF it is done that way, I'm ok with it.Of course, haters gonna hate...
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THIS WEBSITE NEEDS MORE FAGGOTRY AND CAT CALLING
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Honestly, after reading the entire article. I find that the way CCP manages empire space right now is just fine. However, any other changes to ex. concord timers in high sec would break the balance between highsec and lowses/null
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Counting is realy hard. You guys speak of "a" Catalyst and Anhenka speaks of "some" Catalyst_s_.
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Made me smile.
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Good grief this is long, and your wasting our time. It's not your game so stfu or make your own game thats better.
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TL:DR. Seriously this has been like 7 pages of nerf bat tears now. Get over it. How about rather than complain that you can't pick on noobs who want to enjoy themselves peacefully, you go pvp with people who can actually contend with you? I'm so sick of hearing suicide gankers complain about not being able to pick on carebears anymore. There's a whole world out there that is ready and willing to kick your ass. So put your big boy pants on and come out to null.
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Ya if you insist on doing it solo. Are you people so thick headed that you can't read? Why would you use one destroyer to kill a hulk when you can get another trial account alt to "help" you do it? When that alt is no longer allowed in high sec, just biomass him and start over. Zero people have said you can train for a catalyst in a few hours and can kill a hulk solo. Stop making up information that was not said you dolt.
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I don't want to write an article, so here is the short of it: more carebears in a safe zone brings more $ -> more development work to areas that we want -> bigger & better nullsec. Let the carebears have their safezone.
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Lineage II, Aion, are also a place you can engage in non-consensual PvP with consequences.
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Because we all want to have a real life simulator, not a game. In real life it would take hours if not days for the police to discover your lifeless corpse floating in space, and if no witnesses survived, most criminals would escape. This isn't an ocean, this is the vastness of space.

This is Part 2 of a three-part series exploring the future of EVE. My central thesis is that CCP intends to expand its subscriber base (and therefore, its profits) by nerfing aggression in highsec to the point where highsec resembles a typical, safe, "theme park" MMO. In other words, I believe CCP would like to create in highsec a place where carebears can make steady, uninterrupted progress--just like they can in all the other MMOs on the market. In addition, I believe CCP's previous experience with Monoclegate and the Jita riots of 2011 has shown them that EVE's current playerbase would not approve of them compromising EVE's core concept in this way, so they are attempting to do it gradually. Finally, I contend that if CCP carries out that plan, it will eventually result in disastrous, unintended consequences.

In part one, which can be viewed by following this link, I took a closer look at CCP's official reasons for the exhumer rebalance, which nerfed suicide ganking by adding additional hitpoints to mining ships. The official line was that they wanted to give each ship a useful role, and that they wanted to prevent exhumers from being killed by anything that "sneezes" on them. Additional statements from CCP employees elaborated that they wanted gankers to lose more than their victims. It wasn't difficult to dismantle these rationales. Indeed, one top-rated comment on the article--by a commenter who approved of the exhumer rebalance, no less--conceded that CCP's official explanations were so weak as to be "straw man arguments".

Having demonstrated that the exhumer change was simply a nerf to aggression dressed up as a "rebalance", a number of important questions remain. Was the nerf an isolated incident--a response to suicide ganking being too easy? Or was it just another step in a pattern of nerfs revealing CCP's intent to make highsec a carebear paradise? If CCP does make highsec totally safe, would that be such a bad thing? Should players who live in lowsec or nullsec even care about what goes on in highsec?

In today's post, I will address the question of whether CCP is systematically nerfing highsec aggression, and why they would be motivated to do so.

I realize that this article will reach an audience with a variety of different viewpoints on this subject. For some of you--particularly those who have been following this issue for a long time--it will seem as though I am pointing out the obvious, because the trend toward a safer highsec is well-established, as well as the fact that CCP's desire for profits is no secret. Such readers might prefer to have a debate about whether removing non-consensual PvP from highsec is a good idea and what impact it would have. My examination of that aspect will take place in Part 3 of this series.

Other readers are unaware of, or unconvinced by, the argument that CCP is attempting to phase out aggression from highsec. The idea that CCP would do such a thing may appear unrealistic, the product of an overly active imagination. Such readers will find today's article to be useful.

THE PROFIT MOTIVE

EVE Online is a unique game. Is CCP a unique computer game company, or is it just like the rest?

As any of its fans will tell you, there is no other game quite like EVE. It is the only MMO on the market where you can engage in non-consensual PvP with consequences. Players can inflict lasting damage on their enemies. Empires built by thousands of players putting thousands of hours into the game can be wiped off the map by their enemies--in some cases permanently. EVE also embraces, in a way no other game does, the use of "meta-gaming" and "emergent gameplay". Deceptive and ruthless tactics that would get players banned in competing games are celebrated in EVE.

EVE Online's distinctive character has earned it a niche market of loyal customers. EVE is a success. Then again, there's a good reason why all the other gaming companies don't make games like EVE.

It's generally accepted that making a carebear-friendly game is good for business. While some players may enjoy EVE's cutthroat, no-holds-barred atmosphere, most gamers just can't handle it. MMOs are designed to tap into the part of the brain that takes pleasure in the feeling of slow, steady progression. Games like World of Warcraft are painstakingly structured to hand out rewards to players just often enough to keep them engaged. Negative feedback doesn't fit into the equation. People don't like being forced backward. So in most MMOs, losses--if they ever occur--have minimal impact on the player, who is always moving forward. Onward and upward.

Many MMOs have PvP, but outside of EVE it is either consensual or causes no lasting damage to the losing side. According to conventional wisdom, if you want to make a lot of money, make a game that accommodates the average gamer. Allowing other players to show up and destroy weeks, months, or even years worth of work? Not very accommodating.

Some people love a high-stakes game where their assets are put at risk. They probably also like the idea that they can inflict lasting harm on their opponents. The market research done by all those other MMO developers suggests such players are the minority. A computer game company wants to appeal to as many players as possible. You don't maximize your profits by catering to a minority.

However, if there's only one game that does cater to such players, they have nowhere else to go. So they come to EVE. When an EVE player expresses a desire for more safety, others say "Go back to WoW."

Does CCP want those players to go back to WoW, or do they want to accommodate them? Is CCP content with a niche market, or would they rather have WoW's profits?

TIN FOIL HATS

Given the level of meta-gaming and espionage involved in EVE, the game has a long history of "tin foil conspiracy theories". The term first came into popular use in EVE in late 2006, during a titanic struggle between two great powers in nullsec: The Band of Brothers (BoB) and Ascendant Frontier (ASCN). At the time, ASCN was the most populous alliance in EVE's history. But over a period of months, BoB reduced ASCN into a pile of rubble. During the waning days of the war, outrageous rumors about BoB began to surface. BoB was accused of being host to a large number of CCP employees, some of whom were using their power over the game to cheat on BoB's behalf--all with the knowledge of BoB's leaders.

Given the absurdity of the rumors, BoB was able to effectively respond with a campaign of mockery. BoB's directors vigorously denied the rumors and accused their attackers of wearing "tin foil hats". The suggestion that CCP employees were overrepresented in BoB--as opposed to being spread out among many alliances--was a "paranoid conspiracy theory". BoB's leaders encouraged their pilots to name their ships variations of "Band of Developers" and "Tin Foil Vagabond" so that hostiles would be greeted by these jibes when scanning out fleets. I remember it because, as they say, I was there.

Just to make certain their point wasn't missed by anyone, BoB actually changed its alliance holding corporation to a new corp called, simply, "Tin Foil".

But a few months later, a funny thing happened. It was revealed that the rumors were completely true. The gaming world was rocked by the scandal, which resulted in the creation of an internal affairs division in CCP, the creation of CSM, and the expulsion of a lot of CCP employees from BoB (but not from CCP). Forum leaks revealed that the very same BoB directors who had encouraged the "tin foil" mockery had been aware of the rumors' truth the whole time.

The story has a happy ending, though: BoB trusted the wrong person with access to Tin Foil, the holding corporation. At The Mittani's direction, he then used Tin Foil to disband Band of Brothers. Maybe they should have been more paranoid.

Why am I relating this story? Well, first of all, I like to occasionally recount EVE's history and to bash BoB. But my main point in recounting these events is not to draw a comparison with today's essay. Rather, it is to draw a contrast. Although the CCP/BoB conspiracy theory was true, it really was a wild story--something that should never have happened if people were behaving rationally.

By contrast, my theory about CCP nerfing highsec to boost its profits is not so exciting, and not an invitation to wear tin foil headgear. In fact, it's quite mundane when you stop and think about it.

FANBOY GOGGLES

At the end of the day, CCP is a company that makes computer games for profit. Companies are run by a small group of people who get together and have confidential meetings where they plan how to make money. That's not a conspiracy theory, it is just another day at the office.

When CCP makes changes to EVE's game design, the changes are made with business considerations in mind. They're not random--nor are they intended to be impartial toward every style of play. Again, this is not tin foil, it's something that happens from 9 to 5 every day in the computer business.

At the core of my theory is the basic presumption that CCP is like all other companies that make computer games. To think that every MMO is ruled by the profit motive except EVE? Well, I would argue that you're wearing fanboy goggles.

Consider: Removing aggression from highsec for the sake of increasing subscriptions is just the kind of thing that every other MMO has done. When I suggest CCP is planning to do the same thing--for the same reason--that everyone else in their shoes has already done, we're not exactly talking black helicopters here.

But you say to me, "Surely CCP is different. EVE is different. CCP would never compromise the core principles of EVE just to make a few dollars like all those other MMOs."

A year ago, in the midst of Incarna, Monoclegate, "Greed is Good", and gold scorpions, thousands of players were rioting against CCP. Why? Because players thought CCP was going to compromise the core principles of EVE just to make a few dollars like all those other MMOs.

It's time to take off the fanboy goggles. CCP's job is to make money. Other writers on this fine website have written about the IPO, Dust, etc. Suffice it to say, CCP's under more pressure than ever to make a healthy profit. Therefore, if CCP believes they can make more money with a carebear-friendly highsec, they'll probably make it happen.

But does CCP believe that? And are they systematically nerfing highsec aggression?

At the height of Monoclegate, an e-mail from one of CCP's top personnel was leaked to the general public. The e-mail dismissed players' complaints about the microtransaction proposals as "predictable", and encouraged employees to focus instead on players' actions. For example, a bunch of players had purchased monocles.

For all the heat the e-mail's author took, it's not a bad idea to focus on what people do, rather than what they say. With that in mind, let us consider some of CCP's recent actions.

THE ROAD TO NERFDOM

Those who have been observing the changes in highsec over the last few years will not be surprised by my claim that aggression is being phased out. Until this point in the series, I have spoken only of nerfs to suicide ganking. However, my general theory about CCP's treatment of highsec is not limited to gank nerfs.

In order to transform highsec into a carebear paradise on the level of other MMOs, the removal of ganking is necessary but not sufficient. Consequently, CCP has also been nerfing the other forms of highsec violence, including wardecs, theft (i.e. can-flipping and the like), and various aggression-flagging tricks.

One might also add scamming to the list, including both recruitment scamming and contract scamming. I generally don't put those in the same category, since contract scamming arguably had more to do with a faulty user interface, and I'm not familiar enough with recruitment scamming to know whether and to what degree CCP has restricted it.

A full list of the nerfs to highsec aggression has never been compiled. Such a list would be difficult to construct, given CCP's penchant for undocumented or unpublicized "stealth nerfs". However, a good starting point is the list of nerfs put together by Herr Wilkus in his epic thread on the exhumer rebalance.

In his list, Herr Wilkus made note of more than a dozen separate nerfs across the spectrum of highsec aggression. As the man credited with creating the "boomerang" ganking tactic, Herr Wilkus also made a point of identifying some of the players and entities at whom the nerfs were directly targeted. Yet even a list as long as Herr Wilkus' is not complete: Older nerfs like the infamous Privateers wardec nerf, as well as some other stealth nerfs to ganking, are not included. And, of course, nerfs aimed at the aggression-flagging mechanics are difficult to track because they are made and re-made so frequently.

When I first began to speak about the disturbing trend of nerfs in highsec, around the time of the ganker insurance nerf, there was a lot more skepticism about the problem. But then the skeptics, who had already witnessed the "jihadswarm" ganker nerfs, now watched as CCP instituted the "boomerang" nerf, various aggression-flagging nerfs, the Inferno wardec nerfs, the subsequent wardec-ally nerf, the exhumer rebalance, and announced the "crimewatch" nerfs for an upcoming expansion.

I would say the skeptics haven't changed in number so much as in age. Skeptics from earlier days are less skeptical, to say the least--for many, the exhumer buff was the last straw. But as the questions about highsec's future have gained more prominence, more people are beginning to pay attention for the first time. Newcomers to the debate are usually less familiar with the history, and are inclined to say things like, "So what if they rebalanced exhumers? That's only one nerf, it's not the end of the world."

It's a bit like having lobsters in a pot with the temperature rising. Taken in isolation, the rise of each degree is not so alarming. But if a lobster is aware of the trend, he may come to the conclusion that the cook intends to boil him alive. As a thought experiment, imagine the list of nerfs if they went in reverse--as a list of buffs to highsec aggression. How do you suppose the highsec miners would react? My guess is they would think CCP is trying to get rid of them.

The attitude of the playerbase toward highsec's future is bound to change. Those who think everything's fine today will likely have more anxiety about it in the future. Meanwhile, those who have not yet engaged the issue will be more accustomed to a nerfed highsec when they jump into the conversation. It's not difficult to imagine a future where newcomers exclaim "Of course they had to buff faction police, people with low security status were operating too easily in highsec!"

WHAT ABOUT THE BUFFS TO GANKING?

Having established the history of nerfs to highsec aggression, there are still some arguments in which skeptics find solace. Aggression has been nerfed, they say, but hasn't it also occasionally been buffed? The chief example--perhaps the only example--cited is the Crucible expansion, which featured the re-working of destroyers and introduction of tier-3 battlecruisers.

The buffed destroyers and the tier-3 battlecruisers were both "glass cannons", designed to have a lot of DPS but little in the way of defenses. That's an ideal profile for suicide ganking. Of course, the changes didn't allow gankers to do anything they couldn't already do before--they just made it cheaper. At least, they would have made it cheaper were it not for the removal of insurance payouts for suicide gankers, which also just happened to be released with Crucible.

As I mentioned in Part 1, the shift into the cheaper hulls with more expensive weapons was an adaptation, not a buff. Using an uninsured tornado instead of an insured tempest, or spending isk on a catalyst's tech II fittings instead of platinum insurance for a brutix, didn't leave the ganker in a better position. So why make Crucible this way?

Upon reading the preview for Crucible, any ganker could see that the new ships would allow him to reduce his ganking costs to compensate for the insurance nerf. It would probably be difficult for a ganker to believe this wasn't intended by CCP. However, I think the evidence suggests the ship changes were NOT intended to buff suicide ganking.

Prior to Crucible, CCP had taken a lot of heat. The previous expansion, Incarna, was a disaster. One of the main complaints EVE players had about the direction of EVE was that CCP had not been putting enough focus on spaceships in their spaceship game. It had been a long time since they last created new ships, so there was a lot of pressure to put new ships into Crucible. I believe the introduction of tier-3 battlecruisers and the change to destroyers (to finally make them useful) were a result of that pressure, not a desire on CCP's part to buff ganking.

We can see this is the case by examining CCP's response to how the new ships were used. I said that the only advantage to the new ships was their reduced cost. That's not entirely true. By their nature, tier-3 battlecruisers also had slightly more agility than battleships. Herr Wilkus ingeniously devised a way to make use of this advantage in order to conduct repeated strikes with the same ship, warping away from Concord just in time. His ship would still eventually get caught and killed by Concord, but if everything were timed just right, the ship would be much more effective.

As soon as CCP learned the tier-3 battlecruisers were being used this way, they declared the tactic an exploit and issued an emergency patch to prevent ships from warping away after initiating a suicide gank. The speed with which CCP was able to patch in this new game mechanic must have been bewildering to a nullsec population that had been waiting so long for basic "fixes" to POSes, sov warfare, etc.

CCP had a similar attitude toward destroyers. Loading destroyers with tech II gear was no cheaper than the equivalent pre-Crucible alternatives. But CCP latched onto the highsec miner complaint that destroyers are simply too cheap and small to kill exhumers. It would have been laughable to say the same about a brutix, but the concept took deep root: Destroyers should be too weak to stand a chance at killing an untanked, AFK mining ship. With that attitude, CCP clearly never intended buffing destroyers to be a buff to ganking. CCP later used the destroyers as a justification for buffing exhumer EHP across the board.

After all was said and done, gankers were left in much worse shape after Crucible than before it. Loading fully-insured tempests and brutixes with tech I equipment had been just as lethal and affordable, while being less vulnerable to the miners' complaints that ganking was too cheap and easy. Therefore, the Crucible changes cannot be considered a buff to ganking in any way. All of the recent changes have been in one direction: Make highsec more comfortable for the carebears.

WAS SUICIDE GANKING TOO EASY?

By now we should all recognize the fact that CCP has been repeatedly nerfing highsec aggression. Cue the inevitable response from the apologists: The nerfs had to be made, because it was just too easy to perform a suicide gank. The question of how easy it should be to suicide an exhumer is really a philosophical question. It's probably more suited to an overall discussion of how dangerous highsec should be. Nevertheless, I would like to take this opportunity to explode some of the fallacies frequently set forth under the "ganking was too easy" banner.

The main problem with the argument is that it presents a very narrow, idealized picture of how ganking actually took place. Consider the following analogy, which I believe accurately presents the way carebears framed the argument:

"Making money in the stock market is way too easy. All you have to do is buy some stock, which then increases in value. Stock can double or triple in value the day after you buy it, at which point you sell it at a huge profit. It's simply too quick and easy to make a fortune that way. Nerf the stock market."

You see the problem with this analysis? It's obvious when presented in this light, yet highsec miners used the same flawed reasoning when they argued that it was too easy to gank a hulk. Let's start with the most readily apparent flaw--the assumption that the stock you buy always goes up, not down. When considering the cost and ease with which ganks could occur, miners assumed all the ganks were successful. They never factored in the failures.

As someone who has spent some time in highsec ice fields, I can tell you that this is not the case. Without having a battery of statistics at my disposal, I would say at least half of the ganks I saw ended up being failures--before the exhumer rebalance. A well-tanked miner could even make money, since he could scoop the loot of the failed ganker. (The insurance nerf-inspired shift to cheap hulls with expensive equipment was, naturally, to such miners' benefit.)

Why did so many ganks fail? Pilot error only goes so far in explaining it. Even in situations where a ganker would succeed on paper, there was still a decent chance of failure. Concord response time is notoriously unreliable, and this matters when damage calculations come down the fraction of a second. Damage inflicted by gun volleys--particularly alpha striking thrashers and tornadoes--are also variable by their very nature. For those with lower security status, the odds that faction police will jam you is also based on random chance.

Thus, guaranteeing a successful suicide gank forces you to go the extra mile. It also requires you to get accurate scans of all of your targets' fittings and plug in the numbers. Even that won't get you an exact calculation, since the skillpoints of your target will affect his ship's hitpoints.

The other problem with the "nerf the stock market" analysis is that it only looks at ideal situations, such as stocks that double in a day's time. The miner equivalent would be to only look at cases where an exhumer was completely untanked and could be taken down by a destroyer. The "too easy to gank" theory rests solely on the idea that exhumers were slaughtered by solo destroyers, and completely ignores the gankers' use of more expensive ships, such as tornadoes. In reality, gankers used a wide variety of ships, because in many cases, a destroyer simply wouldn't do the job--or couldn't guarantee a kill. Proponents of the gank nerfs completely ignore this, because you can't so easily argue that an exhumer should automatically survive an attack by a tier-3 battlecruiser.

In addition, one must also consider all of the suicide ganks that were prevented through deterrence. After all, if ganking was too easy, attacks shouldn't be easily avoided. Yet they were. Many exhumer pilots did fit tanking modules. Others used alts to bring in Concord protection when they began mining. Some had friends to help shield boost them, or jam enemies, while others used ECM drones which automatically counter-attacked. And some miners actually remained at their keyboards to stay aligned and warp out when they saw something suspicious.

Of course, because such miners weren't killed, they didn't appear on killmails, and they didn't go to the forums and complain. Nor did these "good" miners flood CCP with petitions. Their more sensitive counterparts, by contrast, will petition anything at the slightest provocation.

I believe the "it was too easy to gank" crowd--which includes CCP decision-makers--had their perception of suicide ganking warped. The miners who survived attacks remained invisible, while those who got blown up were the noisiest complainers in EVE's history. The successes of ganking were seen, while the failures were not. Yet determining how easy something is absolutely depends on seeing both successes and failures.

In reality, the feasibility of solo-ganking was on the razor's edge. It didn't get there by accident; recall that suicide ganking had already been nerfed, even before the exhumer rebalance and the insurance nerf. Some say that suicide ganking should be a team sport, rather than something that can be done solo. This contradicts the entire rationale of the isk-tanking argument, since isk-tanking doesn't scale. But even if we were to entertain the idea, it could be turned on its head: If miners want to mine cheaply, they can have a team of miners using cheaper mining ships. Same yield, lower cost--just like a team of gankers. But no one would ever ask the miners to do something. No matter how "easy" you think suicide ganking is, it's always easier to buy and fit a couple of tanking mods. Yet no one asked the miners to do that, they simply gave them extra EHP for free.

Finally, the "too easy to gank" theory fails when you look at the sheer volume of highsec mining activity. If miners were that easy to gank, there wouldn't have continued to be so many highsec miners. Even when Hulkageddon led to a drop in highsec mining, there were still ridiculous numbers of people AFK "playing" EVE's most boring activity. Highsec mining was still easy, because ganking was never as easy as the nerf proponents claimed.

WOULD CCP GIVE UP THEIR NICHE MARKET?

I'm used to hearing skeptics criticize me for thinking "the sky is falling" just because highsec has been headed toward carebear land. They agree that CCP is driven by the profit motive. But they some think that the profit motive will prevent CCP from removing aggression from highsec. In their view, CCP recognizes that EVE is a niche game with a unique playerbase. Turning EVE into a theme park MMO would be financial suicide, so CCP wouldn't be tempted.

My own view is that CCP believes they can have their cake and eat it, too. That is, they can have a perfectly safe highsec in which they cater to the teeming masses of MMO carebears, and they can have a unique, dangerous game in lowsec/nullsec. I think CCP intends to use the "sandbox" aspect of the game for marketing purposes, while also accommodating carebears in highsec. They can use the lure of news articles about fantastic emergent gameplay to boost EVE's profile, and then give the new customers what they really want: absolute safety.

Let me give you an example. The Burn Jita campaign was one of the highest-profile events in recent memory. Like other events, it gave EVE a lot of very good press. It also caused unimaginable suffering among the carebear population--despite repeated warnings and even an unprecedented load-screen graphic informing them of the event. One of EVE's senior producers offered memorable comments to the gaming media, repeatedly calling Burn Jita "brilliant".

After the gaming media reported this, someone asked me my opinion of the "brilliant" quote and whether it meant CCP had abandoned its efforts to make highsec into a carebear paradise. I responded that while I felt there were probably many CCP employees who did prefer a cutthroat game, the people in charge would first celebrate the news coverage--and then make sure Burn Jita didn't happen again. Burn Jita was fine as a one-time event for marketing, but as a regular occurrence? Not a chance.

The Goons, who spearheaded Burn Jita, proudly announced how they were able to pull it off. Burn Jita had three ingredients. The first two were wardecs and suicide ganking. The third ingredient was technetium income to fund the wardecs and suicide ganking.

In the months that followed Burn Jita, CCP took action to nerf wardecs, suicide ganking, and technetium.

You can unclench your teeth. I am aware of the coincidental nature of some of these nerfs: The wardec nerf was already announced before Burn Jita, suicide ganking nerfs affected attacks on mining ships rather than freighters, and the technetium nerf was "in the works" for a long time. Nevertheless, it would be hard to imagine a coincidence working in the other direction, with CCP buffing the tactics that the Goons employed.

Moreover, it's no coincidence that exhumers were buffed after Hulkageddon. It's also likely that the Goons' highly-publicized tech-sponsored Infinite Hulkageddon gave CCP the incentive they needed to finally to shuffle the technetium nerf up from the bottom of their priority list, where it had languished for more than a year.

In effect, CCP could make EVE like every theme park MMO on the market, but with a few free-for-all zones where emergent gameplay can occur and get the game some press. Participation in those dangerous zones would be purely voluntary--just like consensual PvP in all the other games.

MARKETING THE NEW EVE

In Part 3 of this series, I will examine the reasons why this concept of a "New EVE" is doomed to failure. But before I conclude this Part, I would like to say a few things about what a transition to the New EVE would be like.

As the new expansions become less about spaceships and more about nerfing aggression, you have to take pity on the people who do the marketing for EVE. How do you advertise an expansion dedicated to making action and explosions less common?

I was amused by the marketing for the Inferno expansion (the one with the wardec nerf, not the later version with the exhumer buff). Prior to launch, one of the load-screen advertisements showed a promo for Inferno's wardec nerf. I was so struck by the advertisement that I wrote a note about what it said: "A war-filled expansion to heat up summer 2012." You have to love that. I mean, it's not like they could run an advertisement saying "EVE: Now with less war!"

The wardec changes, of course, were designed with the intention of making wars less common so carebears could mine more safely in highsec. The base cost for wars against corporations was increased from 2 million to 50 million, and wars against alliances had increased costs based on the number of people in the alliance. (They said this was because wardecs against large alliances offered more targets, but the reasoning was never really worked out.)

In addition, carebears victimized by a wardec were given the ability to call in infinite allies for free. The official reasoning behind this move was to make things more "fair", because otherwise wars favored the attacker. This is a bit like saying piracy favors the pirates, because they choose which ships to attack. Wars of aggression are supposed to favor the attacker--that's why industrial ships and industrial corps are called "soft targets". The other official reason was to create a "mercenary marketplace", but the interface for said marketplace was strangely absent from the expansion.

In reality, the allies system was intended to discourage wars against carebears, by making them harder targets. Ironically, it led to an increase in warfare, because anyone who declared war could have the entirety of EVE jumping into the conflict against them for free. Some corps jumped into every war they could find. Was this the intention? As with the destroyer buff and tier-3 battlecruisers, we can determine the answer from CCP's response: They quickly nerfed the allies system to reduce the allies that could be called in. That way, carebears could get extra protection, but there was no risk of a truly "war-filled" summer.

Today, what do we have to look forward to? The next item on the agenda is the "crimewatch" system, a comprehensive series of nerfs to highsec crime. The intention, as ever, is to protect the carebears in highsec from having their theme park disturbed. One must wonder how that will be advertised. The idea of another expansion based around protecting carebears is not quite as inspiring as, say, the introduction of capital ships or titans, or even stealth bombers with bombs.

Perhaps we will see a load-screen promo saying something like, "There's crime in New Eden this winter, and people are on the hunt for criminals! which side will YOU choose?"

MOTIVE, MEANS, AND OPPORTUNITY

Does CCP have a motive for removing aggression from highsec? I think the answer is yes. Other MMOs have shown that if you build a peaceful theme park, the carebears will flock to it and throw gobs of subscription fees at you. EVE is a niche game, but I believe CCP's leadership is convinced they can operate a two-tier game in which the lowsec/nullsec players operate in dangerous territory and generate good press for the game, while highsec players--the bulk of the playerbase--can accumulate isk in peace, all while pretending they play a "hardcore" game.

Does CCP have the means to remove aggression from highsec? No doubt. Like CCP Soundwave said, all they have to do is flip the aggression switch to the "off" position. Or, more likely, they can nerf the various forms of aggression into oblivion.

All that remains is the opportunity. Last year, perhaps CCP felt it was on solid ground when it began buzzing about microtransactions and monocles and gold ammo. Then everything blew up in CCP's face. It seems like a lot of players have forgotten about Monoclegate and the Jita Riots, but I doubt CCP has forgotten. After CCP was forced to issue a public apology to the players, I suspect the first thing CCP's CEO did was make clear that he wouldn't let the company be put in that position again. They wouldn't act without considering the reaction of the players. They wouldn't dare flip a switch and make highsec into Candyland overnight.

What happens when you have the motive, the means, but not the opportunity? You wait. You tread carefully, and you try to find an opportunity, or make one. I believe a clear-eyed view of the recent changes reveals that CCP has been systematically phasing aggression out of highsec. By the time everyone realizes what's happened to their game, CCP will be flooded with subscription money from all the new carebears. At least, that would be the idea.

WHAT'S NEXT?

Most EVE players are appalled by the idea of transforming EVE into a theme park MMO, even if it's only in highsec. However, there are also many EVE players who would welcome a large safety zone for economic activity. I'm not just talking about the miners and carebears themselves; there are hardcore nullsec PvP'ers who like the idea of inexpensive ships built by all the newly-secure industrial activity. Other players really don't care. And CCP, in my opinion, relishes the idea of a more mainstream playerbase.

In Part 3, I will explain why I think everyone--CCP most of all--would be negatively impacted by a risk-free highsec. Until then, I would just like to leave you with the following hypothetical scenario to chew on:

When something in EVE becomes too powerful--a ship, a module, a tactic, whatever--it gets nerfed, to send the game back into balance. What would happen if something became so popular that it couldn't be nerfed, for fear of angering the players who used it? What would happen if its popularity meant it got buffed instead of nerfed?

See you next time.

James 315
MinerBumping.com

James 315 has a distinguished history of combat in nullsec, mostly fighting against the Band of Brothers alliance, which was a bad alliance. Recently he has moved to highsec, where he currently serves as Father of the New Order and Saviour of Highsec