A Wormhole Townhall RetrospectiveJoran Jackson
As the CSM season ramps up, the wormholers come out of the works. In a community so fractured, each time I have seen an election I have always been intrigued. The community is large enough to elect two members, but so disjointed that those leaders must fight through a primary of sorts, instead of the anointing of the nullsec alliance CEOs and financiers. Members come out of the woodwork, conversations and blogs are written, interviews are given, and private Mumble chats abound as they attempt to get as many votes as possible from “rival” corporations.
There was a recent wormhole townhall that took place last weekend between a few prominent wormholers and a handful of CSM representatives. A recording of the event is available, courtesy of Down the Pipe. The townhall, which took place on Sleeper Social Club’s teamspeak at the initiative of WH CSM Chitsa Jason, unfortunately slowly devolved into arguments about w-space and k-space, CSM representation, and an unending string of useless analogies. Wormhole aficionados will be awaiting the next townhall, looking forward to improvements in direction and moderation. Let’s go through the important conversations that took place.
The most pleasant notice was the confirmation of a solid performance of the WH CSM’s this last year. Malcanis mentioned that Chitsa consistently brought up the unintended consequences of k-space changes on w-space during the winter summit. To an outsider looking in, this is and has to be a key reason for their election. A ton of the changes that have taken place have simply ignored wormholes (the latest being the ESS), which is understandable in a game that centers on a completely different playstyle. For those of us that live in wormholes, however, it certainly isn’t acceptable. Chitsa and James were the clear choices for those of us that wanted to, in broad strokes, preserve the status quo. Both were part of large wormhole groups who had a vested interest in continuing down the path of fun fights. I believe there might have been a problem if both were to run again, as they are now part of the same alliance, which was not the case one year ago. While neither seem to seek it, if one of them wished to run for re-election it would be a foregone conclusion.
Point and Click
One of the problems identified during the townhall was the problem with the sensor overlay. The argument whirled around something experienced wormholers have known for awhile now…wormhole gank fleets are a relic of the past. Gone are the days where you can crash your static fifty times in a night, kill an escalating chimera and an armor tanked loki, and go to bed smug with satisfaction at your wormhole PvP skills, as we all have done in the past. This problem grew out of the exploration expansion Odyssey, which might have made it easy for new players to take part, but is perhaps the easiest thing to point to for a wormholer when someone asks for proof of the lack of understanding of wormholes at a design level within CCP. The sensor overlay changes remove any need for a PvE fleet to have an active pilot on overwatch, pressing a button. For the hardcore wormholer, it is just as bad as adding local, as you know immediately when there’s a danger of someone entering the system and can take steps to prevent your assets from being destroyed. It has certainly had a chilling effect on wormhole activity. Paraphrasing an attendee, “not enough farmers die in wormholes.”
This expansion was also the expansion that removed the player skill component from scanning, which was perhaps the greatest facet of wormhole PvP. Signatures were generally harder to scan, but there were scanners that were able to rise above the in-game limitations and were simply better than the rest. The age of the wormhole scout was squashed with Odyssey. Ali Aras, one of the bright spots of the three hour recording, made a couple suggestions that centered on adding an overlay delay as a remedy to the scanning woes of current wormholers. Certainly an improvement, but the only true way to restore the old method of point and click is to remove the automatic updates altogether, and the apparent failures are a clear picture of why wormholes need dedicated representation.
Come at me, bro
The discussion continued into how to make it advantageous for fleets to come and fight. Aside from the obvious, they discussed things like reforms to black holes, creating a new class of wormhole dweller to prey on, or things like new classes of wormholes altogether. The most interesting suggestion to come out of this area of discussion was the idea of increased connections as sleepers are killed. This is quite intriguing and would add a new dynamic to wormhole space. The large alliances would still run escalations and kill those who wish to shoot at them. What might arise however, depending on the frequency, is a new type of wormhole dweller who would only farm their static in order to protect others from rolling into their home. If the relative protection offered was significant enough, that might in and of itself allow more “targets” to make a living in wormhole space.
Tangentially, allowing killmails for self-destructing in POSes has been James’ pet issue since before he was elected, it was not a surprise for those who have been a part of the community for an extended period of time. It does, however, seem to miss the target. It is certainly questionable whether it is worth a significant amount of time and energy, whether from the CSM or from the programmers at CCP. I am not sure anyone would deny it is a good feature, but it is certainly not going to bring about fantastic wormhole battles any more than self-destructing killmails did.
The AFK cloaking issue is perhaps the next big red flag for wormholes. The signs that were given from a couple of the CSM members indicated that perhaps the issue is slated to be tackled. It might be even larger than a scanning overlay, POS mechanics, or any other unintended consequences problems thrown around in the past by disappointed wormholers. A change to cloaking mechanics could fundamentally change wormholes, and it is the issue that all of our CSM candidates should be required to answer publicly before being elected.
The most constructive parts of this townhall were when Ali Aras was able to investigate the attendees, and what was essentially a question and answer with Fozzie was an excellent finish. It is reassuring that he seems to understand the intricacies of balancing what is essentially two different types of nullsec. Members were able to preach to the choir with James and Chitsa, when they were willing to listen. Ali genuinely sought to make progress and identify issues, and Malcanis was an interesting counterpoint that allowed us to see how an outsider views wormholers. Chitsa’s ability to keep the discussion focused was somewhat strained, yet, in the end it was a worthwhile exercise that I hope will repeat itself before the next CSM elections, and that more wormhole residents can be involved.