Sunday, April 28, 2013

Eve Online Fanfest 2013: Low Sec Chats

I was pessimistic about my game future on Friday night. I was excited about Tags 4 Sec but terribly worried about the overall future for Low Sec. Rumors, murmurs  holes in knowledge and guesses were painting me a positive picture for Eve and a bleak picture for myself.  Those two things are not the same. Eve can be wildly successful while the things I love fade out and change. I was worried.

Looking back upon the day, before I comment on the day, I will say that I learned what worries me the most. The size of small gangs in the inhabitalness of low sec is a major worry of mine. Social game play is a major focus and massive scope is a major focus. Small gangs can give social game play but we can not give greater scope. In a discussion I will detail further down I realized that I was repeating a concern I had not fully voiced or realized to myself.

I am worried for the residents of low sec because of their small size. Nothing stops larger forces from coming and wiping us out except for the fact that it is not worth it. Adding worth to low sec directly endangers the current residents. The current residents are not large groups and that is what makes us so dynamic and our social situations so intense and unique. But what makes life here so interesting is also what makes us so inherently fragile.

Let me start the day.

The previous evening (I often start the days not on the days...) I had Sard Caid asking me a question that I could mostly answer but not answer well enough to satisfy him.  I did the smart thing and directed him to CCP Masterplan. Sard then managed to expand his question beyond twitter so I wound up offering myself up as a proxy at the Low Sec Round Table that was planned for Saturday. Masterplan agreed. Sard then wrote a thesis paper which I will try to condense down a bit.

The question focused around gate gun mechanics. Are they functioning as intended? At first I was like, "well yes" but after people who are not out laws broke down the question I understood a bit more where the points of note were (I think).

The Low Sec round table was after the Resource Re-balance round table. That was a full session. I managed to slip in with Ueberlisk in tow and settled down to write about what people asked. Round Tables are just big Q and A's with ideas tossed back and forth as well.

Kaeda starts off the session with asking Sard's Question.  It rolls around to this:

When someone attacks a neutral in low sec (someone not pirate) they receive a security status hit and gategun aggression. Once they warp off and warp back the gateguns do not reaggress. This allows the aggressor to have unlimited access to pewpewing the neutral without further gategun aggression. Is that what was intended? With the guns behaving this way it is harder for the solo pilot. It is harder to force tackle off the field. You are on your own after that initial aggression now that they can shed the guns.

The answer: This is intentional. The side effects were weighed and they are happy with the way it has brought tackle and such things back into the game.

This question had never come up for me because I have not have a security status above -5 for a long time. Being somewhat simple minded I simply understood gateguns as something that shot me and that I didn't want to die to. Because I've always been the aggressor and often tackle one thing after another I'd pick up aggression again and always assumed it was because I had shot at the target again and the target was not -5. I am bad at Eve.

There were more questions about getting security gains from shooting players with lower security status. They shared dreams and hopes but nothing is out there that is on the books.

The reason the criminal flag exists in low sec for pod kills is so that people can get ot -10. If they only got to sec hits from suspect flags it'd take forever or never happen for them to hit -10.

There was discussion about the barrier of security status to high sec. Right now, you are kicked out of high sec quite early. Well before you go outlaw. There was a dream/thought (no planning) that security status response in high sec with Faction Polite is what would scale. It would affect out laws and if you were in a .5 you might get a slow response or just a frigate while you get full police response in 1.0. Concord is not going to be turned off. Greyscale made that clear.

There was a discussion about making Low Sec more valuable for people that lived there. That there is no risk mitigation like in null sec. Null sec residents put in huge amounts of time and energy into making their space safe. Low sec is just a land of prey and fighting. They'd like to see something that gives groups reasons to settle down and hold the system that they live in. But its just thoughts at the moment.

Someone asked about separating High Sec into islands surrounded by low sec pools. They'd love to do it but don't think see that as something that is going to happen due to the current structure of the game. It would be too unsettling.

Someone wanted to bring some type of limited bubble in. Grr. It got shot down pretty quickly.

The super carrier/titan problem is understood. But there is no 'fix' in the books. The room was interestingly divided at this point. It was a those with vs those without on the subject.

Someone had an interesting idea they tossed at the Devs about deployable star gates that might be short lived to allow small gangs to move around and flank larger groups.

Greyscale said some things that made me happy. He basically said that the answer to low sec is not to make it like null sec. He would love for low to be more like a ghetto back alley with fighting in narrow corridors where the gangs that live there have an advantage. It was an image of guerrilla warfare where the size of the small gang was its advantage and the large group was hindered because it was not a massive preplanned battlefield situation. They don't know how to make it happen but they want it to be its own, unique area of space.

Someone said that one nice thing about the old complexes was not being able to use MWD in them. They'd like unique features like that in places again.

That brought up the 1/10 and 2/10 thing. They said that they knew it was not about farming for those who wanted them back but about the mechanics to fight that was the cool thing. They discussed it internally when they decided to do it. Moving the static complexes to the exploration system made sense. However, they want to do something for low sec to replace what they have lost. It is one of the things that they are thinking over and trying to visualize.

Why don't off grid boosters get suspect flags? It is because of the boosting code and the technical mess that is. There was also another emphasis that off grid boosting is bad.

Someone asked for more information about where fights are happening in low sec. They are going to try to get us more information about where the fights are happening so that faction warfare vs non-faction warfare space can be looked at properly.

Someone complained that 150km warps are to short and it should be well over 200 at the minimum. Not well received in the room or by anyone I think.

Greyscale said that they don't have plans to expand Faction Warfare into more of low sec. They would rather make non-faction warfare space better then roll all of it into faction warfare. This was based off of a suggestion that neutral parties be able to receive some type of gain from faction warfare or to bring in the pirate factions.

Interesting idea proposed: What if wormholes bleed their effects into the low sec/null sec they opened into a little bit. It was very interesting.

That's what I caught from the session.

I then went off the hunt down CCP Masterplan. I have had a lot of positive Dev interaction. They so want to know what we are doing and thinking and feeling and wanting and understanding about the process. I have been deeply impressed by it. I dragged Nosy Gamer into it as well. We both had some negative reflections about some of what we had heard the previous day. Nosy will probably be able to write his own blog post if he so chooses. He let me talk too much and should have kicked me more but I was being a bit passionate about these things.

I went over Sard's stuff and really it was the same as what Kaeda had asked at the start of the session answer wise.

My worries about low sec being absorbed into Faction Warfare were soothed in the session. It was talking with him thou, that I realized, how worried I am about begin a small entity and not being able to survive because of the powers of force multiplication. We can never escalate enough. They are adding some 300 moons to low sec but will we be able to hold them? Right now low sec has resources but the good resources are not held by the residents unless they are allied with a major null power. For the most part, we live there but we can not live off the land fully. I don't expect it to change. Just more null sec forces owning all of the best materials in low sec, again.

I discussed some of my thoughts that have started to develop for Tags 4 Sec. I can see fleets like mine scattering through the belts as we roam to try to scoop up these NPCs. I think that they have a potential to be a good payout for a newer player but I don't think they will give that newer player sec gain accessibility.

And that spread to a comment about losing the 1/10 and 2/10. I said, "they don't spawn in low sec" and Masterplan agreed with me. "That is the problem," I added.

My basic outline was that all of the eyes look at the vets and not at the new players that are an important part of life infusion in low sec. We encourage new players to not be restricted to high sec. They also want to be pirates. They want to come to low sec. They cheer as they lose their security standings. But once they are out they cannot go back. With low sec only spawning 4/10 and 5/10 they don't have anywhere to feed. Are we really expecting anyone to live off of level 1 missions? Mission payouts in low sec suck. They are not improved. Anoms in low sec suck. They are often not worth doing.

Someone who has moved to low sec early already embrace a greater risk to just do their daily game play. They also, when they join a corp have a responsibility to properly train their character into the combat they will be doing. Yet, they have no way to live and thrive. They are the people that need 1/10 and 2/10 complexes but they cannot even scan the sites down to do them because they do not spawn in low security space. They have little to no food that is not high sec or charity social things  While that is nice low sec is also a very lonely place. You have to be able to make ISK on your own. You are engaging in a large amount of social gameplay with your corp teaching you Eve and learning how to PvP but you need to be able to replace your losses. You need to be able to pay for your fits.  A side effect of the improved combat speed is that it causes an increased loss speed as well and the ISK gain has not improved.

What are we feeding our new players? Sending them to static complexes was a thing and they can't do that anymore. They cannot even access the 'low level' content that is in place for them because it does not spawn where they live. The cliff to earn a living in low sec is quite steep already and now it is even steeper. If Eve is not going to be a series of stepped progression then something needs to be in place for low level players to even make an equivalent income in low sec as they do in high sec. They don't have that now. The difference in rewards for missions is not worth the ammo it is going to take them to do it. They can't blitz missions for isk at two weeks old but they can tackle a ship and lose a tackle frigate or cruiser. Ships are only getting more expensive and the ways for them to replace those ships are not keeping up.

We are not going to tell them to go join FW and orbit buttons. A FW newbie can orbit buttons and make isk. FW missions GUSH loyalty points. Low Sec missions are barely better than high sec missions but with a risk multiplier that is silly. Bitter vets are bitter. Asking them to take in newer players is hard enough but asking them to also financially support them is pushing many, many limits.

Ninja Edit: I did ask about the 5 minute sec status gain changes. He said that  90 some percent of people functioned on about 4-5 ticks an hour. Or at a sec gain every 15 minutes. Only a small percent min/maxed to get the very fast gains. Yes, that was a slight nerf to the min/max crowd and they know that. One that is off set by the Tags 4 Sec.

At the end of the round table I was asked, "So many notes, are you a blogger?"
As I wrote this post I stopped to count my pages of notes. I've written over 50 pages of notations. To him I said, "Yes I am." It surprised me that someone noticed. I think that is my second random interaction from another player that I did not already know.

50 some pages of that gibberish. It has been invaluable. Thank god for hot chocolate and hot tea. Gets me through the 'I should be asleep' times. 4am and the sun is coming up.

12 comments:

  1. The problem with condensing my issue with sentry mechanics lies in the intricacy of the issue. I don't know how to pitch the problem without describing in detail it, because frankly so few people understand it to be a problem. So few people run around in lowsec to expose themselves to gangs as I do, with the intent of fighting against the odds, or fighting back period.

    It's a poorly implemented way of giving small/fragile ships the opportunity to fight on gates; I would much rather a limited aggression flag be started when a pilot engages another if that is what they were looking to do. It would show who can dodge sentries, as well as be much more clear as a mechanic. As it stands, I'm quite positive that more players would be in arms if they understood the mechanic, but again, I'm championing for a niche group of the smallest population in EVE.

    The mechanic is young and still be changed, and I'll still try to push for it. Again, thanks for getting my message out to the devs for a clear(er) response.

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    1. I did show him your issue as in "this is my phone please read this". I can't personally push it. I don't have the passion or even interest in solo. Frankly, I would see a 'soloist' to picture me as the lowest of low trash because it is something that I never do and have no confidence in myself to even desire attempting.

      Watching the reaction of people as Kaeda proposed it around the neutral person being attacked over and over again by the gang and not being aided by the sentry mechanics after the first run I can see his point as well.

      But they did change it to how it is meaningfully to allow teh engagement types to change.

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    2. Please don't put words in my mouth; I don't consider anyone trash because they prefer to fly in fleets than not, or participate in ganks, than not. I understand well that we all play in a sandbox, and respect the preferences and choices of others, and indeed appreciate adopting other roles and styles of gameplay as my mood shifts.

      It isn't in all a bad shift in mechanics, however it places more emphasis on parties to form gangs to out do the other. This is what EVE more or less has always been about; building castles and destroying your opponent's. Those few that relied on sentries much now rely more on their friends, or ability to make new friends to continue their forms of PvP. If they were soloists, well, such is life in EVE.

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    3. I'm not putting words in your mouth I'm trying to express how it feels. Those two things are different. Its the summary of listening to and reading arguments. Your points are completely and fully valid. That is why I tried to present them as clearly as I could without filtering it through myself. It doesn't mean I agree or walk away with the same impression/feel of the mechanics involved and the outcome of these things.

      I normally don't even attempt to argue any points or comment on these things because I don't solo and I don't like putting forth opinion just because I have opinion. But I also do and I found myself at a point where I'm struggling to clearly support your platform as you deserve to be supported for the validity of what it is while it also caused conflicting emotions and thoughts.

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  2. would limiting the lowsec gates jump mass per time be something that might be considered to limit the size of roaming gangs in lowsec?

    if balanced correctly it might even give local corps an advantage. if only so many can enter your little dark ally it does not matter how many they have waiting on the street outside.

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    1. Low sec is a connection into null sec. You'd have to open more direct high to null gates. You'd be making a jump freighter a requirement to live in null. Logistics nightmares would happen. What about people like me that jump freighters in?

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    2. A smallish gang would effectively be able to kill traffic through a pipe if this were to happen. Camp both sides of a gate and jump through as often as possible, effectively keeping the gate locked. Not good!

      p.s. Thanks for all of your fanfest posts Sugar. Very much appreciated.

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  3. Wait for my Thursday post. I found a very profitable profession for newbies (and veterans alike) living in lowsec and NPC nullsec!

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  4. That would make supplying LowSec markets much harder, while big nullsec entitys could still circumvent it by bridging.

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  5. Nice post! Always good to hear about what's going on around lowsec. That "ghetto backalley" theme sounds good. Hope they find a way to tweak the system into that direction. Did you discuss Ice mining as a future baseline income?
    Well actually I wanted to comment on the wormholes bleeding their effects idea. One of the great things at the moment is that you don't notice when a wormhole opens (unless you scan it of course). Suddenly a gang of wormholers storms into your backyard and starts creating mayhem. Had some great fun with this. If I would notice that system properties have changed I would know there is a wormhole and start scanning immediately and the moment of surprise would be gone ...
    So the effect has to be subtle one. So that you might get a feeling that something is different without immediately concluding wormhole.

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    1. I dunno tbh. That would involve people scanning in the first place and its not something people do.

      I wasn't in the resource round table. It didn't come up when it was presented and no one in the low sec talks wandered close to asking about ice mining as an income.

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