19 May 2011

The Forked Tongue of CCP

Talking the Talk and walking the Walk are two very different things.  Whether the United States in the middle east or CCP in null-sec, what is said and what is done are radically different.

We have all heard how CCP Greyscale & Co. want to make null-sec open to small alliances.  In dev blog after dev blog, Fanfest presentation after Fanfest presentation, the brass at CCP has made it clear to anyone who will listen that they want null-sec to be full of small alliances, constantly engaged in small-gang warfare.  Doesn't this sound beautiful?  It does, except CCP, through its game design changes, is actively fighting against it.

How?  First, they made Supercarriers, an asset usually available only to large null-sec alliances, totally (in the words of my WoW-playing brother) O-Peed.  Then, they made sovereignty super-expensive to hold by requiring huge sums of money to pay for upkeep and iHub upgrades.  Next, they reduced the amount of income made by individual pilots (and corporations who collect taxes) with the anomaly nerf.  And now they have made it easier to make money in high-security space by greatly simplifying missions.  These are terrible crimes that strike at the heart of any small alliance, right?  They are, but at the same time, they have increased the money available to large alliances.  Nay, not even alliances, the dreaded 0.0 power blocks.  CCP nerfed power blocks by making technetium available only in the space of the Northern Coaltion, and then the developer placed numerous low true-sec systems in the botting empire of the Drone Russian Federation.  The hate for small alliances is clear.

What is the solution?  It is simple.  Well, not really, but it may be possible.  The first step towards small null-sec alliances is a change in players' attitude.  Whenever CCP mentions that it wants to encourage small alliances to enter null-sec, members of 0.0 power blocks cry out in anguish: "Bu...  Bu...  But it's human nature to want to band together and steamroll small groups of players.  You can't fight our instincts!"  A smaller, quality group of players is capable of defending its holding from an alliance with a larger amount of players.  Have you ever heard of Pandemic Legion?  Looked at the sov map of Delve recently?  To a certain extent, quality can trump quantity, and it will not require your alliance to play Eve as a full-time job, like the Legio Pandemica.

There are also some things CCP could do.  Most notably, they could add more space to null-sec.  This step (or "tweak" as they might be prone to call it) would have to be implemented carefully, though.  If the space is beyond the current border of the galaxy, CCP will have inadvertently made that space accessible only to alliances with either a jump bridge network (nerfed as it is) or a significant supercapital fleet for bridging.  I feel what may be required are some "special" gates that can handle the passage of capital ships.  These could also be implemented in parts of the current galaxy, say on the Tenal-Cobalt Edge route or the Paragon Soul-Period Basis gates.  Such a change would encourage fighting between the alliances at both ends of these long jumps.

CCP has promised some major changes to null-sec this winter, so we will have to see whether or not they stick with their vision of a 0.0 populated by small alliances or whether they fall prey to the allure of the power block.  Or maybe, as the recent agent changes suggest, they set course for a fluffy, loving, PvE Eve Online.  Only time will tell if CCP can walk the Walk.

Fly safe!


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