Thursday, May 15, 2014

Rambling:There is No Carrot nor Enough Stick

[TL;DR: Intro to defining low sec, alpha build thoughts]

In Minecraft there is a item called a carrot on a stick. This item was originally used to ride pigs as a method of transportation. You made a fishing rod, put a carrot onto it, tossed a saddle onto a pig and off you went. There was some convenience to it but mostly it was amusing. The pig would go anywhere the carrot on the stick pointed, following it without looking where it is going. If you take that pig over a high enough ledge you earn an achievement, "When pigs fly." The pig doesn't fly. It just blindly follows the carrot.

Sticks have an interesting place. They are used to hold the carrot out. The stick is the push and the carrot a lure. When one becomes frustrated at ones Mminecraft pig, the stick can be used to beat the pig to death. There is no motivation other than receiving a pork chop (which is a lot of motivation for some).

Per Wikipedia:
The "carrot and stick" approach (also "carrot or stick approach") is an idiom that refers to a policy of offering a combination of rewards and punishment to induce behaviors.
In Eve the carrot and the stick translate, roughly, into nerf and buff. However, they do not translate cleanly. To nerf or buff a ship or ability to rebalance the game is a completely different act than to nerf or buff an activity or aspect of the game with an intent to more players to or from an area.

One reason I have not worried about the fears to move people out of high sec into other parts of the game is because people will not move. There is no carrot nor enough stick to make them do something as huge as moving in the game. Even nerfs just cause people to double down and figure out new methods that fall inside of their perceived tastes.

When I started writing this I was thinking about the worries people have that CCP is trying to chase them to null sec. I don't find this to be the case. The shift of balance may not be appreciated but I don't think it is a direct drive to push the people currently doing things to null sec. It is instead a motivator to get the people currently there to actually do things. I the middle of that some people will choose to jump ship in ether direction. Some to null sec and others onto the 'screw' this train because being nerfed sucks.

And there isn't an easy way to nerf someone but a nerf isn't always about the application of stick. Applying stick is about nerfing with intent to move. Sometimes nerfing happens because it needs to happen or because balance is going to change. Sometimes nerfing happens accidentally, and that is often the case of low sec, my true thought topic.

Right now, with Kronos, low sec is suddenly getting attention it did not seem that it was going to get. CCP is now paying attention and they are paying attention in a way that I like.

"Sugar, moar people in low sec please!" often translates into more targets or fights. "I don't want low sec to be cluttered!" is the other argument. Nor do I but we really, really do want someone to be here. How does that happen? Many aspects of Eve now cannot be picked up in low sec and moved in a viable method. Let me show you a chart from 2012 that may help to explain this.

This chart is from a dev blog after the release of inferno that discuses the barge changes. I don't actually care about the bulk of the chart for this particular post. What I care about is the bottom. If you look at the bottom of a chart there is a red line. That is not trim. That is how much of the games minerals were mined in low sec. This chart has not gotten any better and if anything it has only gotten worse with the battlecruiser nerf, the cruiser buff, and the rise of interceptor gangs.

And that is fine. What I am hopefully saying is that no amount of carrot or stick will get people into low sec as they currently play Eve. We will not be transporting great mining fleets to comp placidly through the belts of Molden Heath. Not for more than a few days at least.

And that is okay.

I don't think that everything needs to be the same. I don't think that we should be driving people into low sec to do exactly what they currently do somewhere else. Instead, things that people may want to do should be developed and they should be developed in a way that the person can successfully do it.

That is why I am excited about the Mordu's Legion and the new ship skins. I'm excited for non-microtransaction ship skins. I am more excited that they will be in randomly spawning low sec content. The same goes for Mordu's legion ships. I can't even fly them properly because I have no missile skills. But they will be available in low sec in such a way that people will have to go out looking for that. That means people are out in space, hunting for things that will fill their bellies with ISK. They are moving, scanning, aware, hunter and hunted. And that is the low sec that I want to see.

I want to see one where people decide to come in and do things. Not all of them will stay. In the carrot and stick methodology, the goal is to keep people in low sec by giving them a way to do what they currently do elsewhere. Instead, I want people who are interested in being in low sec and living off of options that give them a chance to succeed and a chance to fail.

Brando and I were discussing the industry changes. We'll be testing them heavily and our hope is that viable building can happen in low. I was talking to Altaen about transporting goods and he suggested deep space transports get a ship hanger that lets them move a fit cruiser or two after he asked. That question was spawned after I explained that I want people to be able to productively move around in low sec without so much inconvenience that its soul shattering (dozens of blockade runner trips to fill a POS) or higher end game play (jump freighters are expensive and need a specialized set of accounts).

I think for the industry changes to spawn something (and what that something is I don't know) to change low sec it will have to be a thoughtful combo of industrial changes along reasonably obtainable by the average player logistic possibilities. It will have to be something that someone who is self motivated will say, "Hey! I think I can do that."

I think I am starting to create my definition of low sec.

P.S. Raw carrots rule. Cooked carrots drool.


  1. I'm not traveling about in l-sec for yet another ship or ship skin. Ships are balanced so one race's ship line is sufficient.

    The terminology says it all. More secure space, less secure space. Less PvP, more PvP. There is a gamut of CHOICE here if the game were balanced as a whole -- the meta.

    I also do not feel that Carrot & Stick are part of the equation, at all. In fact, I'm tending toward equalizing the resources of space as a more logical and consistent construct. Sand at one end of the box is similar to sand at the other.

    Why wouldn't industry develop in more secure areas, and hostilities develop in less secure areas? Striated security based on Empire and pirates IS the exquisite beauty of Eve.

    Raw carrots rule!

    1. A sandbox with hills valleys and different types of sand is far more interesting then a flat surface of identical grains.

      The great equalizer for the choice you want already exists in the form of the free market and the medium of ISK. Everything is attainable without ever leaving hi-sec.

  2. You have missed one of the key points. Yes, a number of players, particularly high sec players, will never move to null sec, even as the club (this is far bigger than a stick) beats down upon them. Some will stay in high sec. And others of that group will say "enough of the club, I quit". The cartels have convinced / coerced CCP into believing that number that will quit is quite small, and easily replaced because they are just parasite high sec players, who have a huge turnover anyway.

    Well, we are going to see over the coming months if the real architects of this madness, the goon economic warfare group, are correct about the subscriptions. And yeah, the goons designed these changes. The dev's at CCP can't even get a tooltip right, let alone something as complex as these industrial changes.

    I will be watching the PCU quite closely, as will all others, in the fall, after the true impact of assault on high sec industry start really hitting home.

    And given that CCP, for the first time, refuses to give the stats to calculate the sub base, the PCU is all we can use to gauge subscriptions.

    1. Could you be a dear and give us a concrete prediction what will be the PCU for month of November this year?

    2. @Meagrom. Who knows for sure? But I bet it will lower than November 2013, unless the cartel leaders order all their line members to fire up a new account.

    3. @Dinsdale - Last year, CCP didn't intend on giving us any stats to figure out the number of subs in the election returns. Dolan just did an oopsie. The figure still wasn't solid, but corresponded with earlier guesses based on a CCP press release from February 2013.

  3. Candied Carrots are sweet as Sugar :-p

    I agree with you, very few people migrate once they find their niche in EVE. High Sec, Low Sec, Null, WH. Once people are in a positive isk situation they fall into compacincy and their "role" in Eve. I'm guilty of this is well.

    This low sec buff may attact alot of new members but instead create new content! Mining barges be abile to hit back plus the Prospector + more valuable ore in pockets of lowsec = Deadly mining fleets!?! I enjoy it when CCP seeds things like Ghost Sites all over new Eden. But I also know that the day will come when SOV in Null is getting revamped and that will also bring up a new stick and a new carrot!

  4. We'll probably lose some people to some combination of :effort: and sunk-cost psychology, not because the new system is bad, but because it's new.

    We'll almost certainly lose some people to a system that is less tolerant of "doing it wrong," which a lot of casual industry players almost certainly do because their principle goal is to amuse themselves.

    The new system attracts people like me who've always held industry at arm's length because the interface sends our inner designers into a red rage.

    How that all shakes out remains to be seen. I certainly agree that the general goals are to get high-sec industry spread out, and to take industry in nullsec beyond its enforced niche of supercapital construction. While there is certainly no shortage of money to be made in nullsec, the best income is available to those with the most money. It's not easy being a scrub in that space. It's not impossible, certainly, but I know people who've tried and failed.

    The real riches are still to be found in Jita, although again, it takes money to make money in that particular minigame.

  5. Just because there is a red flag on the field, doesn't mean that every bull will chase it. Nobody is asking CCP to run around and stick swords in the poor bovine just to amuse the crowd. All we want is the red flags.

    To be more specific, I'd like to see CCP give soloists, small gangs, and medium sized gangs the ability to give sov holders a headache for declining to defend their own space. Since asking them to change POS is probably unlikely, I'm asking for entirely new deployable objects related to sov. Something that would be a reasonable target for all of those trillions of idle isk that is piling up. Let us trigger our own sov deadspaces full of alliance related npcs or deployed equipment with which smaller groups or even individuals may interact. Add lots of rooms, some of which are accessible to small hacking ships, and some which are vulnerable to the depradations of smaller gangs intent on making off with some loot. Let's get some slow boating into capital warfare and design environmental content around dreads and carriers. Let it be somewhere new to add POCOs, and intermediate goals for large gangs intent on altering the sov landscape, or prepping the system for POS removal.