Us And Them

“Forward he cried, from the rear, and the front rank died,

And the general sat, as the lines on the map, moved from side to side…” – Us and Them, Pink Floyd.

I had the opportunity, many years ago, to listen to an interview with Roger Waters on the radio. He explained his thinking behind the lyrics quoted above. The us and them mentality, he indicated (this is a rough estimation of his words, not a quote), is what is at the heart of the Earth’s problems. The ceaseless promotion of disunity by the world’s governments and media, via the hate of others dissimilar to ourselves, is what prevents humanity from correcting the destination towards which our planet currently hurtles.

As in real life, so it is in Eve. The assorted media sites are busy bolstering their ranks for the conflict that rages in the north of the null-sec map. Finger pointing, historical (or hysterical, depending on your viewpoint) diatribes and revelations of treachery abound. CCP have jumped on the bandwagon, eager to promote the destruction of the Emporium for all the renewed interest in Eve it’s able to generate.

A solid indication of CCP’s favor is in the avoidance of the use of the term “Money-badger”, which may carry connotations of their awareness of naughtiness in the south. So, they’ve latched onto the label “World War Bee”, which shows everyone what they intend to acknowledge this war as all about; Goon-bashing. Undoubtedly, CCP is more than happy to see the kid in the wizard hat lose most of his empire, and thus usher in a new era of instability and conflict in the north.

Mittens, however, isn’t out of the fight yet. Ever the pragmatist, he’s way ahead of the pack. The super fleet is already in low-sec, and plans are in place for a fighting withdrawal into the same region. Oh yes, the Money-badger coalition will take the north, and they’ll take all of it. Mainly because Mittens is going to let them. Because he’s a politician, through and through. Lesser intellects want to win fights, stomp on their enemies and take regions; politicians think way ahead of such tiny-minded goals.

Fozziesov has introduced the most one-sided sovereignty system ever. It’s the attackers that have the giggles, and the defenders would have more fun digging their brain out through their left ear piece-by-piece with a spork. Nobody knows this better than those who have held space since the changes. Indeed PL, NC., and many others decided that holding space outwardly (as opposed to via rental alliance programs – Mittens dropped the ball there, big time) was a stupid idea and dropped sovereignty, selling it to many who then had to learn the hard way that they’d been sold a pup.

So, Mittens has learned, too. And he intends to use that knowledge to his personal advantage.

Let’s divert for a minute. It hasn’t gained much attention, but recently the Emporium’s “New” Russian allies moved over 1,000 capitals to within jump range of the fighting. Thus, they have nullified PL and NC.’s super fleets. The Emporium’s supers may be out of null-sec, but you can bet they’re not out of jump range, either.

No, Mittens will sit in low-sec, sending out the interceptor and bomber fleets with which to destabilize everyone stupid enough to actually take sovereignty in the scorched earth the Emporium leaves behind. Except, that is, for whichever region the Russian “Allies” have named as the price of their fealty (I’m tipping it’s Branch, but that’s my personal guess). The rest of the north will burn. We all know PL and NC., along with the low-sec crowd, have no interest in holding space. So, this will be sub-caps; mostly fast, small and cloaky stuff. The absolute maximum would be some carriers and dreads only. Which is fine by most people, but it has a use-by date.

Yes, with the introduction the PassiveISK2000 (otherwise known as the citadels), the super fleets will once more be the way sovereignty is decided. At that point, everyone shifts the deck chairs once again, don’t they? CCP have done well out of all this. The current battles will be succeeded (with suspiciously convenient timing) by the fights over the passive ISK fountains to be erected wherever space can be made tough enough to keep them.

I mean, let’s not be dim about this. Anyone who has played Eve for long enough knows that the real use of supers and titans is to prevent fights, not promote them. The Russians moving those big toys within range of the north is not with the intent to use them, is it? No, it’s to send a message to PL and NC. “You so much as cyno in a super fleet and you’ll be double ended.” It’s the Eve equivalent of the old MAD system the real world governments use. So, once the ISK printers go live, and with the Emporium pared down to a roughly equal size with the rest, the big entities will park their super fleets in their various safe areas and continue with the proxy wars that bring in the cash for the deserving few.

And the punters are happy to go along with the narrative; hurf-blurf their meaningless little points of view into the comments sections of the equally meaningless media site articles. It never ceases to amaze me how passionately the leaders are able to incite the troops. Mittens uses the us and them mantra to the best effect possible, and that’s no surprise at all. By doing so, he also hands the opposition just the thing they need to do the same.

The generals cry ‘forward!’ from the rear, and the front rank will die; over and over again. CCP will tweak and twiddle to keep the lines on the map shifting from side to side, and once again Eve is kept alive on the backs of the true believers.

Good on them all, I say. As long as they all follow the script, the game continues on, allowing myself and many others to do what we wish, and watch from the sidelines. Now, where’s my hat and scarf, my whistle and my banner?

A New Understanding

Let’s get something straight from the outset; I am very slow on the uptake. I left school at 15 years old, and have spent most of my working life in trade related blue-collar work. The complexities of life are something I shy away from, and that includes Eve’s intricate political arena.

At some point, in pretty much every corp I’ve been in, I get asked to step up and help out with the running of the corp. I’ve done it, mostly out of a sense of obligation, but I hate it. Because I’m rubbish at it.

Right, now we understand each other, let’s push on. So today I had a minor epiphany regarding the major conflict driver in Eve. I had just read this article on Mitten’s website, which gives an excellent review of the history behind the current siege of the Emporium. And, aside from the lack of proofreading (as per usual) and more than a tad of bias, I have to declare it to be the best post I’ve ever read on that site. This caused reflection on my usual obsession; what is the underlying motivation behind all this?

Let’s run this theory up the flagpole and see if anyone sets fire to it; passive income is the driving force that CCP uses to instigate and promote large-scale conflict in Eve.

That’s right, it’s not an accidental consequence, it’s not some conspiracy between ex-Goon and PL devs and their masters, and it’s not left there due to CCP being a group of hard-headed numbskulls who don’t know what they’re doing. The presence of a passive income source in a top-down format is very deliberate. It’s also needed to make Eve what it is.

Think about it for a minute. What does CCP love to promote most about their game? The big fleet battles. Isn’t it also true that they tend to focus on null-sec when it comes to development? How many complaints have we heard over the years from other areas of the game that their sectors are woefully out-of-date and ignored?

Sovereignty null-sec has easily been the major focus of CCP ever since I started playing in 2009. With all the upcoming stuff, it has to be said that this focus shows no sign of a shift anytime soon. So, is it not logical to conclude that the thing that motivates nearly all the conflict in null-sec, passive income, is also deliberate?

That being the case, let’s look back at the history of top-down passive income in Eve. Unfortunately, I don’t have the time to research this thoroughly beyond my own recollection, so we’ll start where I started; 2009. If anyone can add to this, please don’t hesitate to do so in the comments section.

When I started playing, the core conflict driver in null-sec was moons. Specifically, one type of moon; the one that yielded Technetium. Technetium was a bottleneck resource. That is, it was a critical ingredient in the construction of T2 equipment and ships. These moons were not evenly distributed around, but clustered into certain regions. The entities controlling those regions were, therefore, sitting on a goldmine. Wars were fought, powers shifted, and eventually, there were only a few alliances that sat on these particular ISK printers.

Following the example of the OPEC nations, these people formed a cartel, and commenced to price-fix the living daylights out of the stuff. Protests erupted, and the cries went unheeded for a very long time. At the time, conspiracy theories abounded, and the consensus was that CCP devs were up to naughtiness on a grand scale. Eventually, in the Odyssey patch, they restructured the moons, and Technetium was relegated to nestle in with other resources, R64 and R32 moons, in importance. To this day, however, those moons remain an impressive source of passive ISK (billions per moon per month), but they had a successor for the top spot.

The Russians had discovered another passive ISK source; renting out systems. When the moon-goo waned as a premium source of passive ISK, rental programs sprung up everywhere. Even the Goons joined in for a while, although that was relatively short-lived. Then FozzieSov changed the landscape, along with the capital jump-range nerfs. To this day, though, PL and the Russians in particular rake in billions of ISK per month for very little effort.

Now, we stand on the threshold of a new era, and CCP have outdone themselves with this one. The new citadels will usher in a literal wellspring of totally passive ISK for the chosen few. I myself have decried this obvious free gift. The conspiracy nuts have gone ballistic, with their efforts spurred on by the total silence about the issue from both CCP and the organizations who are set to benefit.

However, I’m seeing this whole controversy from a different angle, now. Just look at what the citadel tax has already done, before it even hits Tranquility. One of the big organizations, Pandemic Legion, as just one example, stands to make trillions of ISK per month, by building just one citadel in their rental area, Malpais, and making it the trade hub. NPC station taxes will be dearer, so the shift won’t even be hard to implement. But, what PL stand to make pales into nothing, in comparison with what the Emporium stood to make. Think about it; let alone the idea of a New Jita in the high-sec system next door, the hubs in the Emporium’s null-sec regions would have seen Mitten’s pockets bursting at the seams.

Under the existing system, most of the passive ISK from null-sec trade hubs was more active than desired. FC’s made good money by setting doctrines based on their stocks and then whelping said fleets to promote sales. But, that involves a lot of work in comparison to doing nothing, and the ISK went to a larger group of people than desired. Add to that the SRP which had to be doled out, too.

Under the new regime, ALL the ISK goes directly to the very top, and they have to do absolutely nothing to get it. Hell, they don’t even have to build the damn thing in the first place, because of all the starry-eyed industrialists who would do the job just to say, “I was there.”.

Pandemic Legion, NC., and a few other bigger alliances are not stupid. With all those regions under Mitten’s control, the Emporium would have plenty of citadels to pump out obscene amounts of ISK. Mittens would have become the virtual owner of null-sec, and I doubt those alliance’s leaders want to rely on the crumbs from their new master’s table. Happily for them, Mittens is, above all else, a complete twat, and had managed to offend pretty much everyone else who played Eve and wasn’t a Goon. The IWI fight with SMA was a good starting point. All they had to do from there was put their boys into the mix with the newly crowned Money-badger coalition, and Bob was, indeed, your auntie’s uncle.

So, with the Emporium burned and bruised, there’s a lot of potential citadel sites now up for grabs. It all depends on when the allies decide that Mittens has been subdued enough as to how much of the new teat the Goons have access to. I seriously doubt PL and NC. will go all the way. CCP would not appreciate a raft of discontented Goons heading off to another game, or torching high-sec. However, the generous handout CCP have promised to the powers that be has already reaped a bountiful harvest. Scores of players are re-subbing, to get in on the action and seize the chance to give the Goons a black eye. I read many comments that the game is alive for the first time in years, and it’s obvious many who have never experienced Eve’s end-game are doing so now.

This will all renew the player base to a certain degree, and CCP haven’t even delivered the goods, yet.

I have to say it; well-played CCP, well-played.

 

Understanding the Subtleties

So, things are quite bumpy in the North at the moment, it would seem. Ever the pragmatist, Mittens has abandoned Vale of the Silent and contracted the Emporium’s space yet again. That is wise, given the circumstances.

The problem he has is a matter of notoriety; the Goons have insulted so many people over the last few years with their obnoxious behaviour, that everyone has jumped on the dog-pile bandwagon. Now, some believe that the Emporium will shrink into an area it can defend, and that will be the end of that. After reading through the various articles pertaining to the Great 2016 Goon Wallop, it would seem this is emerging as odds-on favorite.

The argument has its merits. As I mentioned in the last post, PL and NC. both have a tendency toward the development of a short attention span as soon as ISK cometh their way. Mittens is yet to open the purse strings, but I don’t doubt that will soon happen.

There may well be another reason for PL, in particular,  to rattle the Emporium cage, though. Stay with me here, all will be made clear later.

There’s another problem for Mittens and co. too. Yes, the current hordes of angry savages will find it tough going once they arrive within jump range of the big toys and discover PL and NC. aren’t proceeding any further. It is likely the current tidal wave will lose its height when the pay-off happens, and that will leave the Emporium with two solid regions; Deklein and Branch. Yes, I’m aware of Fade and Tenal, but both those regions have red highlighted bits, and I’m not convinced the Emporium will keep them, yet.

I would like to point out some practical problems with that two region scenario, if I may. The real issue lies within the fabric of the two alliances that hold those two golden regions for themselves; Goonswarm and FCON. They are big alliances, don’t get me wrong. According to Dotlan, by system count, they hold the most space in the Emporium, though they look woefully inadequate in that area when compared to Ivan and co.

By member count, Goonswarm is ridiculously huge compared to anyone else, while Bastion beats out FCON by a couple of hundred members. However, FCON holds Branch, at least most of it, while Deklein is the Goon heartland. It may well come to pass that FCON is asked to hand over more of Branch, once the Bastion, CO2 and various other refugees arrive on the doorstep, if that comes to pass. That’s the irony of FozzieSov; two of the biggest care-bear alliances in the game will end up holding the two remaining Emporium regions.

Which is what I’m driving at. You see, every null-sec alliance has a proportion of null-bears. These people are pragmatists in the extreme. They are there to rat and mine, build and sell, and join enough fleets to keep alliance and corp leadership happy. I can’t speak for Goonswarm (though they it is who came up with carrier ratting fleets), but I can assure you FCON has plenty in their ranks. If these two alliances find their regions camped, roams coming through and home defense pings aplenty, these null-bears will grow weary of logging in, only to find that they cannot play their game their way. Soon enough, excuses will be made, and they will wander off elsewhere, or simply stop logging in.

Thus, the fleets required to keep the sweaty masses at bay will wither on the vine, so to speak. Now, they were just numbers to begin with, in reality. They care only enough to get PAP links, and never cared whether they shot the primary or not. But, PAP links mean squat when your beds are burning.

I would expect the Emporium to keep shrinking; to whittle their numbers down to those who wish to be a meaningful part of something still, and shed those who don’t. The question is; will those alliances have enough space left to justify their existence?

With the introduction of citadels in just a month or so (delays due to implementation hitches notwithstanding), the implications are huge. You see, to get the most of the passive ISK income that CCP so obviously handed the big guys, one must have numbers, significant numbers, of null-bears. That’s where the real citadel income lies. I don’t doubt Goonswarm will hold their own, and the pockets of the few will be filled by the loyalty of the clueless fighters; as it is in real life, so it is in Eve. But, the real money comes from cashed-up null-bears, who just love to lose and replace blingy PVE stuff.

So Goons will be fine, they have enough chest-beaters to keep that yummy citadel tax coming in. But, one really wonders about the rest of the Emporium. The more independent alliances among them may well plonk up a citadel each and rake in that golden egg. There is little doubt those with the PVP player numbers can easily defend a small area around their golden goose. The goose itself, being so well armed and defended, can look after itself pretty well, too. But, would an entity made up largely of self-interested null-bears be able to avoid shedding said null-bears, when the pressure comes on? Can they avoid the slaughter of their goose?

Mittens may well look at the value of such organizations and decide they offer so little in the way of bums in fleets that they aren’t worth the cost to defend. Left to their own, such alliances would be torn apart in short order by NPC null-sec and low-sec denizens.

What will happen within Goonswarm? Up until now, they have laughed off the losses of bling-fit ratting ships as of no consequence. But, with the increase in said losses quite likely, will the null-bears among them break out the Russian translation books and head off to where the ratting is easy? PL has a vested interest in Legion of Death’s renter empire; it’s not going anywhere. With the massive number of systems between Shadow of Death and Brothers of Tangra, there is plenty of space to absorb the null-bears of the north. Then, with Malpais and its surrounding regions filled with ready customers, PL, Legion of Death and so on will be in a prime position to extract the most out of their XL citadels.

Thus does the intent behind the northern push reveal itself. Those despised null-bears, so often derided as the wastrels of sovereignty space, are the key behind the next passive income flow of goodness to the pockets of the few.

Anyway, that’s my two cents. Less tax, of course.

Who Knows Where The Truth Lays?

Very little in this world is clear. One man’s truth is another man’s lies. So it is in the murky world of null-sec politics. What is really going on in the North? I sure as hell don’t have a clue.

Layers upon layers, that’s the problem. The word just reached my ears that Branch is under siege, which I am yet to read about on the big 3 propaganda sites. At least one system is reinforced, 30 billion lost in one fight and FCON damage control overheated. The Emporium is under pressure, there’s no two ways about it.

However, there’s those damned layers, isn’t there? The good old boys in both NC. and PL are renowned for exit stage lefts with a fat back pocket, if you get my meaning, and it may be that this is all just a nudge to Mittens that it’s time to cough up again. If that be the case, then the poor low-sec sods who are allied with them are about to find out what it’s like to fight alongside the most self-serving and unprincipled gits in the game.

Of course, that’s unlikely to bother them, much. They got a pile of gudfites, which is what low-sec people want from Eve. They also got to poke Mittens where it hurts, at least in their mind. I personally doubt he spilled so much as a drop of champagne as he surveyed the battlefield from the white tent on the distant ridge. Interesting enough to see that the Emporium is still getting the floor mopped with their greasy heads after so much time fighting these guys. Most wars they whelp hilariously for a week or so before they wake up and smell the roses. Maybe the roses are late to bloom this year, who knows?

One alternative to this rather predictable outcome is to do with the citadels. You know, those new fountains of passive ISK CCP has introduced in the same manner as a civil service pay rise? With such a huge increase into the coffers of the only two large space holders just over the horizon, it could be PL and NC. would rather Mittens didn’t have too many systems and people with which to fill the coffers to overflowing. The wealth balance must be maintained between the big player organizations, lest Mittens actually win Eve and players dwindle to where everyone’s well starts to dry up.

There is little doubt in my mind that all parties, including CCP, have a weather eye on the main chance. The player organization’s eyes are on the passive ISK source, with which to do…whatever it is they do with those ridiculously huge piles of ISK. I would rather remain at a reasonable distance from any accusations of naughtiness. CCP’s eye, in the meantime, is on keeping said organizations happy, out of fear of a mass unsub.

This interesting idea actually means, of course, that the citadels are already generating content, something I’m sure Reykjavik would be proud of; “Look vot ve’ve aksidentally dun!”

Another possibility is out there, too. The one that is the purpose Evenews24 is pushing; the idea that enough people are annoyed with the forever-teens that they’ve finally reached a critical mass and decided to destroy them. Yeah, I’m not convinced on that one. That may well be what the low-sec guys have in mind, but let’s not forget whose leaders are real life buddies with whose leaders, hmm?

As usual, whatever the top shelf are up to, it’s the line troops who pay the bill. This is one reason when someone says to me, “Why rent?”, I say “Why not?”. This kind of shenanigans is a kick in the teeth to those who don’t realize how the whole sovereignty alliance thing works. I know how it rolls. What? You think the fact that I’m in high-sec and away from game is a coincidence? Okay, it’s your reality, man; whatever floats your dinghy.

I’ve done this before; twice before, actually. Each time, Blastie saw the writing on the wall, and each time, Blastie was the first one out. It’s not an intellectual achievement, really. No reason for me to smug. Each and every time, I happily admit I could have been wrong. However, as time goes by, it looks increasingly like I’ve done it again. It all depends on what is really going on in the smoke-filled rooms higher up. Right now, it’s a toss-up for me. I don’t have a favorite in the race, yet. I mean, the whole thing may be for another reason entirely, couldn’t it?

I felt the jab from Gevlon’s post about citadel tax; it hit me like a poke in the eye. I was waiting for the passive ISK to be redirected. The outcry about moons from those who see the problem for what it is had to be addressed, regardless of the stony silence CCP has met each and every complaint with. That’s the giveaway for the citadel tax; the silence. Nothing on the big 3 propaganda sites, naught more than a few words in the dev blogs. Only Gevlon, a few inconsequential scribbles like this one, and some Reddit and other sewer outlet posts.

This is all classic Yes Minister stuff. Compile a massive report, and sneak the 46% pay rise for civil servants into page 762, right underneath the toilet paper inventory increases. It will be interesting to see if any word comes out on the big sites. As many a Scotsman is reputed to say on such occasions; Ah hae ma doots.

In the meantime, my brothers up in Branch had better slap on the pith helmets and fix bayonets, or find another game for while. I wouldn’t be heralding the falling of the sky just yet; let’s see who ends up doing what to who, shall we?

It all really depends on who is the first one to remember the words Benny Hill once sang: “And do unto others, before they do you!”

Taxation – The New Technetium?

I tend to poke the odd bit of fun at Gevlon Goblin, but the one area in which I respect his efforts is with numbers. Don’t get me wrong, I still think he’s a little bit Trumpie, a little bit Reagan too, but the boy knows how to crunch numbers.

Well, he just crunched some more, and anyone with a vested or even mild interest in sovereignty null-sec best take a look at his taxation post. For brevity’s sake, I’ve quoted the meat and potatoes below (English is a second language for our little green man, so let’s poke no fingers at grammar here, please):

“First question: how much broker fees people pay now? The February economy report says that people spent 9.8T on taxes and 5.9T on broker fees. Let’s assume that the average sale was done with has Accounting 4. This is reasonable, since max-skilled traders are responsible for most sales and training Accounting to 3-4 isn’t hard. This means 0.9% average tax. With that, the average broker fee was 0.54%.

These numbers mean that after the patch the same people will pay 1.5% transaction tax and 4.15%!!! broker fee. If it wouldn’t affect traded volumes (it obviously will), people would pay 16.3T transaction tax and 45.3T broker fee. Let me put these numbers in perspective: the total ratting was 33.9T and the total faucets were 71.5T. You see that paying such money is impossible. The only explanation is that CCP means it to be impossible to force people to trade in citadels. Citadel owners can set any broker fee and that fee is not an ISK sink, since it goes to the owner. If everyone would trade on citadels, the new tax wouldn’t be much more than current tax+broker fee.

About 90% of trading is done in Jita, Amarr, Dodixie, Rens and Hek (see market value by region graph). Since the trade hub citadel must be competitive for max-skilled traders, the player-set broker fee can’t be more than 3%. Assuming someone would set such citadels and divert trading to them, his income would be 32.8T. Again: the trade hub citadel owner would make as much ISK as all ratters combined, without even loging in.”

I read it a few times, as maths and I have an understanding; I don’t bother it, and it doesn’t bother me. However, this put a bit of a chill up my spine, so I hope I’m wrong. Before I left 30Plus, I remember helping a member who had fat-fingered a market listing and oopsied a…large…amount of ISK down the dunny. That was when I learned that these trade taxes are paid to NPCs, currently. It would seem, as things stand, the citadel owner will soon receive this previously recycled ISK.

Fair enough, too. Those things are ludicrously expensive, so anyone banging one together should cop some wallet to compensate. Except for the things that Goblin points out there, that is. See, a while back, when these citadels were still being revealed to us plebs of non NDA molestation level privilege, I remember saying that I wouldn’t be surprised to see Mittens plonk one down in Jita. Well, he can’t do that, but he can put one next door. If he then directs all Emporium traffic to that address, technetium moons will look decidedly last year, won’t they?

Never mind high-sec, though. What about the null-sec trade hubs? Every time the Emporium suicides another “Didn’t want those -enter expensive space trinket name here- anyway” fleet, the coffers of the big boys will fill to overflowing. Every single item that currently sees large sums of ISK removed from the game on a daily basis via taxation, will see huge piles of ISK (just look at those flaming numbers in that quote, would you?) poured into the Emporium cash register.

CCP, seriously, what…the…hell?!

I have no idea what you boys are smoking, but damn, it must be good gear. It would seem, if Gevlon is right, that CCP have simply walked away from Eve Online. As they did, they waved to the kid in the wizard hat, saying; “Here, it’s all too hard, just take it and have some fun with it.”

Seriously, does anyone in the land of eternal fart-gas even play this game anymore?

Okay, so the world is a little bit weird right now. The US is going to give the reins of the biggest superpower the planet has ever seen to some nut job with a big wad of cash; fair enough. The Pacific is big enough that most of the ammunition won’t reach the Sunny Coast anyway, so they can let Donald have it, if they want.

But, dammit all, I play this game. CCP don’t have to make sure the game is THAT real, do they? As it sits, sovereignty null-sec is…well…cactus. Big fleet battles that nobody gives a flying one about, because the ISK doesn’t matter, sovereignty that’s taken by pointing a magic wand at a thing and holding it there for x amount of time, invasions that are carried out by someone sitting cloaked and playing something else, and others making ISK while in a capital ship, also playing something else.

I hope, deep in my heart, that this is something that gets the nerf bat to the face, and hard. Surely, surely, there is someone in the Reykjavik office who has been away from the bong long enough to peer red-eyed through the haze, wave the smoke away from the white board, and say, “Hey, hoo fort of dis shtoopid idea?!”

If this thing goes through as it is, they have handed the game to Mittens and co. to do with as they please. An unending, gushing pipeline of ISK, that flows straight into the Emporium coffers. Oh, sure, the Russians are going to benefit, too. Then again, BOTLORD will be replaced by CITLORD (see what I did there?) quicker than you can put a Trump For President sticker on a police cruiser’s back bumper (don’t do that).

Come on, CCP. It isn’t April, yet. You can stagger out of the back room, chewing on breath mints and whacking in eye drops, order some pizza and tell us all it was just a big joke.

PLEASE!!!!

What The Writing Does Reveal

I am tardy in the writing of this post, but moving house brings with it endless jobs, long days of packing and unpacking, and queues of utility companies who wish to take a bite from my wallet.

A few days ago I perused a missive here, which I read the night after writing my previous post on the insignificance of loss.

Ooh, I thought, what a giveaway. If any confirmation were needed on the popularity of AFK carrier ratting, then Asher has delivered a truckload. I mean, nobody knows if ratting in a carrier will even be feasible, yet. Already, though, The Emporium is in full nay-say mode.

Aside from the “What will Grandad do” plaintive, which brought a merry tear to my eye, the rest postulates an argument that is laughable in its entirety.

First up, let’s get something straight; null-sec space is true to the wording on the tin – zero (null) security (sec). There is no security in this part of the game universe, outside of what one makes for oneself. People will come along to try to gank you, and you cannot stop them. So what? This is Eve, working as intended. Why do people struggle so hard to avoid accepting what is? Yes, interdiction nullification is a broken mechanic, I can agree with that. But, that is the way the game is, so why not get on with it?

To whine that Crow gangs were a plague that had no counter is ludicrous in the extreme; I was in null-sec when the Crow gangs were a thing, and I, along with my corp-mates, dealt with it. Some lost ships, some were saved, but most just paid attention to the posted lookout and docked, went to grab a beer, bite to eat, take a bio or whatever, and carried on when the gang left. They never hung around long, our penchant for Neut-Geddons and Falcons tended to get them to move along pretty sharpish.

The other thing that gave me a start was the argument that casual gamers should be catered to by not removing their ability to rat while otherwise engaged. This is farcical. To my knowledge, the good old AFKtar will still pull in 20 to 24 million ISK ticks, and warp out in no time at all. So, AFK ratting is still feasible, but the ability to make as much as an ATK ratter might go away. Good, that is as it should be.

The problem Emporium members have is that they are as entitled in their mentality as most of western society is. They argue that, as a member of the biggest and richest organization in the game, they should have the right to sit in their little patch of heaven way up north and be left to rake in the ISKies in peace. They complain that some will be inconvenienced if AFK carrier ratting goes the way of the Dodo. The person to take those complaints to is Mittens, not CCP. All security issues in sovereignty null-sec are the problem of the owner.

If members of The Emporium are so upset over this change, why don’t they shoot a monument or something equally petulant. I seriously doubt anyone at CCP could give an NPC’s arse about how the changes will affect AFK ratting; they focus on PVP, as they have always done. Whether this is wise or not they must discover for themselves.

It comes down to a matter of priority in the player-base. Those who play Eve in a focused and dedicated manner have a seat higher up the table, and is that not as it should be? If someone is a casual player, like me, they must accept that they are not a high priority customer to CCP. Neither are they a force to be reckoned with in null-sec. Yes, players like me can contribute to the ADMs, maybe poke the odd ganker in the eye, or teach a new member the ropes of income earning, but we are the small potatoes; the lesser beings.

Those who spend long hours in fleets, at corp meetings, taking care of business for the corp, or even fueling the POSes, is more of an asset than I. That means, if I want to rat capably, I must do so in a manner that protects my ship, or be ready to account losses into my game time and budget.

Eve null-sec is a place for full-on players, in the main. Is that not as it should be? Would it make sense to buy a new motorcycle to ride on weekends, and expect to have a pit-crew and sponsorship for the odd track day? This is all about acceptance of our lesser position in the game as casual players. If we want the attention of developers, we would need to play at a much higher level than a casual gamer.

I mean, come on. CCP is focused on giving carrier pilots a separate and niche role in fleet combat. This is good, isn’t it? All that training, or skill injecting, should enable one to enjoy a distinctly different game experience; else why bother with it?

I think casual null-bears have plenty of opportunity to partake of life in sovereignty space, without desperately holding onto what is, in reality, a loophole in carrier mechanics that has directly contributed to a financial imbalance between casuals and more focused players.

Unless it is realistic to think that I could pop down the motorcycle shop and, with the purchase of the latest piece of Japanese insanity, gain an income equal to Valentino Rossi’s.

Loss Means Even Less

Back in 2014, I wrote a post about why I felt that the loss of ratting ships means nothing to the average null-sec pilot. I still stand by that claim, although things have progressed to fleets of carriers these days. The whole problem with these ships is not the ability to earn piles of ISK with them, but the fact that you can do it while AFK; something CCP are supposedly against.

Unfortunately for poor old Gevlon, when Goons say the ship is already replaced, it’s a simple statement of fact. Those medium shield rep carriers pull down 90 million ISK per hour each, and many guys run fleets of the damn things. Yes, that carrier is a consumable item, I’m afraid. Of no more concern to lose than an Ishtar is.

Now that Space Monkey’s Alliance are enduring a campaign of AFK cloaky camping, we see the truth of that situation borne out. How? Well, for the longest time, people who complained about cloaky campers were derided by most pundits, due to the fact that cloaky campers can be nullified, albeit with a little effort. However, they can only be dealt with effectively if the ratter is at the keyboard.

Herein lies the rub; people are complaining about AFK cloaky campers, because while that AFK camper is there, they can’t rat AFK. Now, the argument goes that the camper is no threat if he’s AFK, because he can’t do anything. His power lies in the fact that one cannot be sure he is AFK, so an attack is possible as long as he is in local. When I was in 30Plus, we found the employment of the reverse worked equally well. People had gotten used to Ishtar pilots being AFK, and killing an AFKtar was a matter of routine. The advantage we found was to exploit the fact that, just as with a cloaky camper, one could never be sure the AFKtar pilot was, indeed, AFK.

Stratios pilots lost their 400 million ISK ships often enough that they stopped coming to our little pocket, because when they did, the pilot was often there, along with an unbreakable (for a Stratios) tank, EM damage drones with 800+ DPS, and a rack of neutralizers and Nosferatu’s that ensured said Stratios was converted into a wreck before the pilot even realized what was going on, let alone was able to warp out.

I’m not interested in debating the whys and wherefores of the ongoing campaign against SMA; that’s both theirs and, by extension, the Emporium’s, problem. What I find interesting is the ongoing enrichment of the null-sec players, and how their pragmatism grows alongside their wallet. SMA has taken a hit to its size, true enough. But, that’s simply the pragmatists adjusting their earning location.

Hostilities between entities always commence with a hit to the ISK earners, but these days that means little more than a day’s worth of alt movement to ensure the ISK flow continues. The introduction of skill trading has brought with it yet more avenues to farm ISK with no risk; by both SP farming and character wrecking.

High-sec alts now have even more ways to bring in the ISKies without the owner blinking an eye. All of this may see an interesting development in sovereignty null-sec. You see, ratting was always the way newer players would become rich, but once the wallet was sufficiently fattened, much more efficient ways to earn ISK became available. With the repetitive nerfing of bounties, the counter was to develop ways to turn ratting into a passive income, rather than an active one. Solo AFKtars became fleets of AFKtars, which became carriers, which became fleets of carriers.

This, in turn, meant that ratting once more became a viable passive income source for older players, as well as now being a requirement to keep your space.

I doubt the new carrier mechanics (along with the punishing new skill trees) will hinder the AFK doctrine for long. After all, the AFKtar is always there. The one real threat to the AFK ratter is the AFK cloaky camper, as SMA has discovered well enough.

If we couple the pragmatism of most sovereignty null-sec players with the rise in cloaky camper viability, what will we see? I would imagine a movement toward alts in renter corps, which are experiencing a significant upswing in popularity again. Don’t believe me? Then cop a look at the member chart of Shadow of xXDeathXx. No, no, not the individual membership, the member corp one. Many of those corps have but a few members, most of them likely to be AFK ratting alts. Nice, steady growth there, isn’t there?

Indeed, especially if you compare it to SMA’s one.

Is it possible, do you think, that we may witness a migration of ISK earning AFK ratters away from hostile space? Or, will there be a rise in AFK campers in the renter areas? The problem with AFK camping the renter space is that you can’t be sure who you’re hurting, and it’s a very long way from anywhere else, really. Plus, it’s a reflection of Russia itself; in that it’s flaming huge, mate.

I wonder if those who wish to hurt The Emporium ISK wise truly know what they’re up against. I’m no fan of The Emporium; indeed, I left the best corp in Eve specifically because they were in The Emporium, and that’s the one reason I won’t be going back. But, I’m more than ready to acknowledge that the fall of Mittens and co. will be a hard thing to accomplish. That much ISK, in the hands of that many players, united by the fact that everyone else despises them, will be a very tough nut to crack.

My sincere apologies to those who think that cloaky camping systems will kill off the ratters, but I’m afraid I’m firmly of the opinion that all you will ever achieve is to move them, and little else.

CCP has managed to foster an environment where wealth and space aren’t really related to any great degree. The cold truth is, to enrich oneself in Eve; if you’re actually playing the game, I’m afraid you’re officially doing it wrong.