Two weeks ago the CSM Minutes were released – a full two days early. Although I’m sure Xander will forever let us know how “his” CSM accomplished this, I trust in the iron fist of CCP Leeloo. Not only were the Minutes on time, but also more revealing and inclusive than any before, allowing the community unprecedented access to the event horizon of EVE’s development. Today on Lowlife we’re going to have a look at the lowsec session from the summit, where the current state and future of the area were discussed. If you ever had a doubt about your representatives on the CSM you will be glad to hear that the session on lowsec was their initiative and that they have been listening to your input.
FW missions have been a pain point in the community since their inception. There is a distinct imbalance between the factions where, for instance, the Caldari missions are easier to complete than the Gallente equivalents. So much so, that it is a matter of: undock stealth bomber, kill target, collect bacon. It can be argued that this is the reason the Caldari militia was bloated with farmers and collapsed when real pressure was applied. (inb4 squids kill me for this comment ;))
Sugar Kyle brought this issue to the table and both she and DJ Funky Bacon conveyed that the general feeling amongst the community is that the missions should be of the harder variety (Gallente level). The CSM lowsec reps proceeded to point out that FW has evolved and that the missions need to follow suit, which CCP agree with, acknowledging the imbalance between the factions. CCP Fozzie however pointed out that while they want to address the issue, that they would prefer to revamp the FW missions system (a system separate to the regular mission system) rather than redo it from scratch. He also added that they would like to make the missions more vulnerable and open to interference, something many would agree is much better aligned with the spirit of lowsec.
Although the forms of FW income have always been a debate that refuses to settle, most agree that the imbalance of missions between factions is real and needs to be addressed. It’s not only a question of income however, as easy missions comfortably and safely done with bombers attracts farmers and tourists, it also does no favours for the PVP culture that is the essence of Factional Warfare.
DJ Funky Bacon mentioned the difficulty a militia that has been kicked into tier 1 has in getting back on their feet. As a case in point we have the Caldari militia that still have not recovered from their losing streak that ended up in 100% war zone control for the Gallente. Essentially, the pendulum of FW has been stuck in Gallente favour since early 2014. This type of situation is negative for both sides as the ‘winners’ lose targets to fight and the LP rewards for the ‘losers’ are so meagre that there is little incentive to rise back up. The Caldari are a shadow of their former selves and are having a hard time recruiting for instance, even though they could potentially have all the fights they ever wanted. Funky suggested a “not more carrots, but less sticks” approach for militias that end up in that position.
CCP Fozzie agreed that the balance for the tiers has always been difficult and that they are potentially looking at solutions to make surviving tier 1 easier. One has to be careful when handling the issue however, so that any safety net for the losing side doesn’t become too much of a detriment to the motivation of actually ‘winning’ FW.
Concerning Factional Warfare, Sugar Kyle also brought up the issue of standings. New players are funnelled into FW and tank their standings towards opposing factions long before they understand the impact of it. Even experienced FW players who are looking to take new paths in their EVE careers commonly never manage to repair their standings, effectively locking them out of large swathes of highsec.
CCP identify this as an issue and discussed some form of tags for standings with the CSM. It was agreed however that these potential tags should not repair standings above zero. The possibility of tags for pirate groups was also discussed, as a way to allow players to work for these NPC corporations rather than the empires.
DJ Funky Bacon brought up the concern that the standings repair should not be made too easy as it would encourage carefree awoxing within the militias.
A cause that has grown in popularity during the past year has been that there is not enough large ship content in lowsec, where frigates and destroyers have been the mainstay. This is a symptom of a more mature lowsec/FW population looking to undock the bigger toys. Although this was brought up by Sugar Kyle, it can be argued that FW plex changes and Phoebe are already opening up the possibilities for bigger ships to engage in valuable content.
I have personally undocked more battleships in lowsec lately than I have in my entire EVE career, simply because fleets have formed and had a worthwhile task at hand. Phoebe heralds a fundamental shift in lowsec PVP meta because of the more localised fighting, and those looking to go big should see a lot more action as the community settles into the new way of things. Lowsec is keeping its identity as the home of fast and intense small gang warfare, while adding on the bigger guns on occasion, which is precisely the type of mix lowsec residents have been calling for.
According to CCP Fozzie, lowsec mining is up. However, as I noted when speaking to Sugar Kyle in an earlier edition of Lowlife, no industrial revolution can really be felt in lowsec following the buffs to ores, introduction of the Venture and the Thukker CAA. Miners are still complaining that the risk vs reward balance is yet to be met. The simple explanation to this may however be that there isn’t so much of a revolution as it is a slow progression, and meatheads like myself are simply too clueless about industry and/or too lazy to look for miners in backwater systems to read the signs of change.
Sugar Kyle mentioned that miners are asking for more rocks and/or a faster respawn time for lowsec asteroids, to which CCP were positive and would “probably fix this”. During the session CCP Fozzie also discussed the Higgs Anchor, which was later revealed at EVE Vegas. All in all lowsec mining is carefully climbing and it looks like CCP are interested in making it better. As shipping costs increase this will come in handy in the post-Phoebe world.
The distribution of gas was also brought up, but the important issue from that discussion ended up being the usefulness of boosters. The way that they work today means they see very little use (in lowsec at least), and the CSM suggested that they need balancing to be a more viable option. The potential uses for boosters are a wide open design space that is underutilised at this time and perhaps CCP might do well to look at changing how drawbacks and bonuses work in order to introduce them as a more accessible tool for players.
Movement is life
During the session it was agreed between the CSM and CCP that lowsec gameplay is centered around roaming and movement, both in PVP and PVE, and that it is where the focus for design should be for lowsec going forward. Most of the community will agree, myself included, that this is truly the essence of lowsec: fast and dynamic guerilla-style fighting with less clear fronts and a place where a small forces can engage in asymmetrical warfare and it’s all about out-maneuvering and out-smarting the enemy with the effective use of space and the tools at hand.
The issue of the warp speed changes hitting small and fast fleets’ ability to have boosters along was identified as an issue however, since boosters tend to be slower. CCP Fozzie said that they are not going to create a boosting destroyer using current mechanics, but it is something they are very much interested in doing in the future. Weather this means that off-grid boosting itself is changing first is unclear however.
It was also noted that fighting over moons and the use of wormholes has increased dramatically, two developments that are the direct results of Kronos and Phoebe. They both represent more variety and interesting content, and as such must be considered a success for the quality of lowsec gameplay.
The two things I took away from this session were that Sugar Kyle and DJ Funky Bacon are bringing the concerns of the lowsec community to CCPs table in an inclusive way, and that CCP are relatively well aligned with the players on the ideas of what lowsec should be. Besides a few blemishes and areas that could use improvement, lowsec is in a good place and only looking to get better. Time will tell, but 2015 is looking to be a very exciting year for low security space.
Tags: CSM Minutes, DJ Funky Bacon, lowlife, lowsec, niden, sugar kyle