Stage 3: Bargaining

Dunk Dinkle is a member of Brave Newbies and a current resident of Catch. He joins us today to discuss the impact of CCP’s power projection changes on nullsec living, particularly as pertains to logistics, and to examine some of the issues CCP must address before truly local sustainability is viable in CCP’s new vision for nullsec. The first set of nullsec changes have dropped and they are far more dramatic than most expected. A few smart pundits called it on target, but most players were shocked. The null tears flow and the wormholer and high sec schadenfreude is reaching peak levels. Many Eve players are currently going through the 5 Stages of Grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. The EVE Online forums and Reddit threads are full of Denial and Anger. As I move through the 5 stages of Grief, I’ll pause here in Bargaining to discuss a critical gameplay element impacted by these changes: nullsec logistics. The key changes announced are purely about players’ ability to rapidly move pilots and ships. Almost nothing was explained regarding changes to sovereignty and economics. We have no new reason to fight. There is no reason to do anything other than hunker down and play defense. As a Brave pilot, I participate in all kinds of ops and play several careers. I mine, I invent T2 BPCs, I build T2 hulls in null, help fuel things, make fuel, put fitted ships on contracts, and other boring and mundane tasks. When not in station, I’m a logi captain and fly in our small capital fleet on StratOps. Far from being the expert on any one part, I do have at least a familiarity with most aspects of null life and work fairly close to the core logistics team. My point of view comes not just from my personal experiences, but from hearing the ideas and concerns of the HERO folk that do logistics and industry currently in Catch. The first draft of this post had terms like ‘eviscerated’ and ‘nerfbliteration’ when referring to null sec logistics.  A new dev blog announced that the range of jump freighters will only be partially nerfed, not completely. While a step away from complete madness, it’s far from a real fix. Carriers still can’t carry ships any significant distance to resupply fleets. While some of the alliances can field serious numbers of jump freighters, our alliance is basically made of poors. We do things like use carriers to carry fitted ships where they are needed, rather than solely jumping packaged ships and modules about.  Maybe it’s unique to Brave to use carriers to carry ships within our home region, but it does seem like a fundamental ability for newer alliances to move around null has been removed while more established groups won’t be affected nearly as much. If you think 7 billion ISK jump freighters aren’t too expensive, feel free to contract me one. 😉 Let’s simply accept that the changes posted are going to happen and that we aren’t going to see any more significant change. Stop fighting it. It’s going to happen. Where are we then? Null sec logistics will still be hard.  With the deathclone changes, cyno alts ineffective, and jump fatigue multipliers, the difficulty of hauling materials in and out of null gets even harder than before. If we can’t pull in needed materials from high sec in a reasonable way, the current process for null industry will grind to a halt. The harsh reality is that CCP intends for the supply chain of nullsec dwelling groups to be much, much harder and that “local” production becomes much, much more prevalent. Bob help the high sec pilots as they watch the supply of T2 materials drop and prices of their blingy ships inexorably rise. So what was included in the jump travel dev blog that explained how an overhaul of “local” production could happen? Nothing. Not a god damn thing. Don’t point to Crius as anything that is a significant help to nullsec logistics. Crius made industry usable and understandable, that’s it. It didn’t change the basic way materials are allocated, gathered, or processed in any way comparable to the drastic changes to jump travel we are seeing now. Again, if you don’t know what an Esoteric Parity decryptor is or what ships need Titanium Diborite Armor Plate, please don’t embarrass yourself by trying to explain to me how industry in null is good to go. Nullsec logistics have been nerfed. Rather than complain, let’s discuss what buffs are needed to offset these nerfs to compensate and make CCP’s goal of null self-sufficiency a reality. Rather than rage against the dying of the light, let’s prepare for night. Staying positive, we ask “What is needed to achieve the goals of nullsec self-sufficiency and give us reasons to fight over space?” Primarily, it comes down to component availability. If we can gather the components to build ships and modules in the nullsec location where they’re needed, we can move toward this goal of a new, glorious nullsec. But without change in component availability, the changes to nullsec will fail to have the desired outcome. Without a good supply of ships, there are no good fights. If ships are hard to come by in null, FCs will not engage unless victory is sure. The EVE universe is split into 4 racial zones, each of which contains a set of regions. In each region, the materials you can gather are linked to that race. In Amarr space, you can mine ice and refine it to get Helium Isotopes, but you cannot acquire any Nitrogen, Hydrogen, or Oxygen Isotopes. That means no jump fuel or POS fuel for anything other than Amarr capitals and starbases is available locally. You cannot find Minmatar, Caldari, or Gallente decryptors which are needed to invent T2 blueprints of those races. This is a huge problem, unless you expect every alliance become roleplayers and only fly ships of the empire faction arbitrarily associated with the place where they live. ArhEVb1 The one good spot is Planetary Interaction. With the PI system, individual pilots can create almost all raw materials and process them to various levels in a fluid marketplace. Previously, most materials flowed into high sec, but now the materials can be used locally. Access to this system is not restricted to a limited number of pilots, nor does it expose any security risk to their corporation. Moon material production, on the other hand, is in seriously bad shape. Moon materials are an essential part of all T2 ships. For all that moon goo, the prize of huge fleet battles over R64 moons, it’s primary use is being reacted into T2 ship components.  Similar to ice, the R64 and R32 moons aren’t evenly distributed and no one region has what is needed to create the materials for a wide range of components needed. Without some sort of redistribution, the need for transport becomes even more problematic and the encouragement of building gigantic coalitions is reinforced.  If the goal of these changes truly is seeing more colors on the influence map, smaller groups must have some capability to create the materials needed to survive in sov null. The process to create these materials is much different from PI and requires dedicated POSes and corporation rights that are given out to a tightly controlled few. No nullsec alliance opens the needed POS roles to all their members, because of the danger of theft and breaking things. Currently, most raw moon goo is reacted in null and lowsec by carefully chosen teams in the safety of quiet POSes and moved to Jita for sale on a competitive market. This needs to change. Processing of moon goo needs to follow the model of PI, where individual pilots can process materials without special roles or putting corporation assets at risk. To expect that the already hard working POS teams with roles are going to do all the work necessary to react all the various materials and juggle all the needed blueprints is unrealistic and untenable for all but the most organized of alliances with years of experience. Not everyone wants to run Space Communism. If CCP wants to end the ‘blue donut’, they need to allow for a variety of organizational structures and methods going forward. If new alliances are expected to become sov holding, they need options that don’t require years of organizational development. EVE players love to find ways around difficulty and will try to explain a myriad of esoteric ways to get around the broken system that is moon goo reactions. Yes, there are mechanics that can be used to get around the fundamental problems with it, but why can’t we make this part of the game more accessible and easier to participate for the average null sec pilot?  Dare I suggest we try to make the game a little fun? The option to create alt corps that allow POS roles for members to do reactions and not put alliance resources at risk is possible, but this is just another layer of added complexity, putting a band-aid on a broken system.  The system of PI production doesn’t require jumping through these kind of hoops and the use of alt characters. Just because it’s a possible option doesn’t mean it’s a good option. Expecting everyone in null sec to act like the current superpowers and follow their leads on how to operate with component production is the antithesis of the goals of diversity and engaging gameplay. If there is only one right way to generate revenue and manage moon goo, hasn’t the sandbox failed?

This system sucks

We must be careful to encourage reasons to fight over moons, so it’s likely that the actual moon mining remain a carefully controlled process to generate alliance level income. That should not prevent opening the processing of the raw materials to a much wider group of pilots. High sec will still require products from nullsec, and the value of those materials will increase significantly. It’s a subtle balance, to be sure, but it can be done. The processing of moon materials must be changed and buffed for any chance of “local” production to occur. The last need for minimal self-sufficiency are the basic minerals themselves. Mexallon and Isogen are hard to come by in nullsec. There simply isn’t enough in the nullsec asteroids that we mine to generate anywhere close to the required amounts. The current asteroid type distribution was put in place to encourage trade and the movement of materials over long distances, but with the crush of long distance travel, hauling in minerals, even in compressed form, will be unreasonably hard and will undermine the goal of “local” production in null. CCP needs to buff the ability of nullsec pilots to create a viable industrial base in light of the announced nerfing of jump travel. Taking a “we’ll keep an eye on it” approach is insulting and ill considered. I am hopeful that we will hear proposals from CCP in these areas, before the changes to jump travel are enacted, rather than after. We nullsec denizens are ready to ‘adapt’ rather than die, but without seeing the next round of plans, it’s hard to see how null life is less ‘grind’ and more ‘good fight’ friendly in the post-Phoebe New Eden.
Tags: brave newbies, industry, logistics, Oh Takashawa, phoebe

About the author

Oh Takashawa

Oh Takashawa enjoys smugness, spaceships, and burning unnecessary amounts of helium isotopes.