Safeties Off, Gloves OffJin'taan
I’ve been keeping an eye on the discussion surrounding the new Clone States (as you might expect as a CSM member) and trying to keep it as hands-off as possible. And it’s been fascinating to see just how well the topic has been discussed. A lot of productive points have been raised, many of them echoing the same sentiments we raised to CCP upon finding out. However, I’ve noticed one point in particular that seems to have entered the generally accepted list of ‘things that will need to be implemented’ to help stop the abuse of Alpha state clones. It includes things such as limiting the use of Alphas to one at a time, allow people to choose race of avatar/race of Alpha state independently, making sure there’s a login notification if you’ve dropped from Omega to Alpha so your Titan doesn’t fail to jump out, amongst others.
based on assumptions that aren’t truthful
What I am talking about is the possibility of ‘safety locking’ Alpha players to either yellow or green, to prevent expected abuse from highsec gankers. This is something I don’t necessarily disagree with, but I feel that it has significant downsides that need to be addressed, and is somewhat based on assumptions that aren’t truthful. As such, I’m going to run down some of the points I’ve seen addressed, and look at them in more detail. If I’ve missed points, I encourage people to comment or contact me privately, as I will try to address them and work them into conversations both in public and into those between the CSM and CCP. As the closest thing the current CSM has to a highsec ganking representative (having set up two roundtables on the matter, and done it once or twice myself), I feel it’s important to dig into this.
Assumption 1: Gankers will be able to roll an army of Catalyst alts to kill miners with no heed to sec status or any other existing penalty for their actions.
This is technically true. However, rolling alts (via biomass) to avoid Sec Status issues is something that is against the EULA and is a bannable offence. In addition to this, it’s already possible, thanks to trial->buddy referral chains, to have nearly infinite 51 day-long accounts. These accounts are (for the second chunk of 30 days) able to be multiboxed and function identically to regular accounts, including having access to all the T2 equipment that Alphas are restricted from using. As such, the aforementioned problem of rolling alts already exists in a more severe form, and is not seen as a major issue by the vast majority of the playerbase. However, I do agree that the rule regarding alt-rolling for sec should be more heavily enforced and publicised by CCP.
Assumption 2: Solo gankers (alternatively, insert miners/PvErs/FW plex farmers) will be able to multibox 20 Alpha accounts to do [Insert degenerate activity here].
In the announcement as written, this is true. There is no description of what limits may be placed on multiboxing for Alphas, though they do say they are looking into it and asking for feedback from the community. The feedback from all avenues has been almost exactly the same, that letting people multibox Alphas will be the best proof of Maclanis’ Law ever, which for the unfamilliar is – “Whenever a mechanics change is proposed on behalf of ‘new players’, that change is always to the overwhelming advantage of richer, older players.” Veteran players would be able to min/max certain activities that are profitable for new players, and – in doing so – tank their value, making them pointless to do for said new players who are looking to start their time in the game. This, more than anything related to ganking, is a solid reason to prevent multiboxing alphas.
Assumption 3: Gallente faction Alphas will be strong gankers.
This is something that Viserion covered in a rather detailed Reddit post. Alpha gank Catalysts are, if anything, a step down from the currently existing trial-account trained T2 Catalysts. Their only benefit being that you don’t have to make a new account every 51 days. Thoraxes can be used, as well as Thrashers, but both simply aren’t as effective as a subbed account with access to T2 weapons.
So, assuming that accounts can be locked to one Alpha character per session, this gives us the worst case scenario of a ‘free’ alpha alt to any Omega ganker. Personally, I would prefer to limit Alphas as the only client able to launch, but that’s due to the usefulness of having free alts in other areas (specifically FW Griffin & T1 logi alts, though I’m aware there are other use cases which are degenerate). If this is implemented, your worst case scenario goes as follows: a veteran player will be able to have a sub-optimal gank alt to try out the playstyle, whilst still being vastly inferior to a subbed player. This is almost exactly the same situation as currently exists with trial accounts, and the ganking apocalypse has yet to come.
there’s a good chance some of you won’t like the fact that people can gank on alts
Now, there’s a good chance some of you won’t like the fact that people can gank on alts, or that you can be killed by people who’ve not ‘paid for the game’. But, think about what the game loses by turning off ganking on Alphas. Not just from a real level, but from a perception level, from the mythology of EVE level.
EVE has long been seen as a game in which you can do whatever you want, and that there will be consequences for your actions. Not just by the players, it’s the general view of people who don’t play the game on it. There’s the whole ‘nowhere is safe’ and ‘only fly what you can afford to lose’ mantras, which are seared into newer players by veterans. What does it say to these new players if we restrict them from trialing aspects of gameplay, no matter how niche a part of the sandbox it might be?
When I talked to my friends about the game, and it going free to play, the immediate point of reference they jump to (which may say something about my age bracket) is Runescape. They immediately think that they won’t be able to participate in all the ‘fun’ activities until they pay. And, whilst to some degree that might be correct, in that Clone States will lock them out of the endgame in terms of ship progression, I love being able to explain to them that they can participate in everything they might enjoy doing, just not optimally. If they want to mine, or PvP or mission run, they can do all that, as part of the same game we all play. Why should they be restricted from being the bad guy if they want to be?
Just food for thought, and I’d be genuinely interested to hear arguments against it going forwards. The changes coming up are a fundamental shift in the game, so every opinion and point of view needs to be properly discussed, represented, and made available to CCP.