The Death of a ProfessionCosmo
I’m sure everyone has seen that large, sprawling chart of activities you can engage in within Eve that gets passed around the Rookie Chat like a bong at a frat party. The one that lists pretty much everything including scamming and drug manufacturing and that’s apart from your usual exploration sites, Concord DED sites, Sansha Incursions and recently even Drifter Incursions.
I look at it and it feels incomplete. It shouldn’t come as a surprise given the wide appeal of Eve that people engage in anything from telling jokes, to processed meat related porn/fanfiction in Jita for a few million ISK, to blowing up Titans in large free-for-all melee for charity, and from wormhole space ship recovery to miner-bumping in Osoggur with Catalysts. That’s all part of the sandbox. That’s all willpower manifested in our little virtual corner with our characters, lasers, and spaceships.
you aren’t an Eve player if you don’t have a specific niche you like to fill
I like to say that you aren’t an Eve player if you don’t have a specific niche you like to fill. One of those more obscure professions that’s close to my heart is scouting out lost and forgotten unfueled towers in wormholes and K-space for any “stray” ships or misplaced loot.
You roam around in a stealth bomber for hours on end, getting a stray kill here and there, and at the end of the night, just as you’re preparing to wind down, you jump for joy when you see an SMA without a forcefield on D-scan. So you get to bashing that tiny structure for the next half hour, wondering whether it contains fabulous riches or just a hollow cargo hold. Torpedo after torpedo, it doesn’t take long until it succumbs. You might finish the night trading up your little SB for a freshly-dropped bling-fit T3 or a shiny marauder. Maybe you load up some researched BPOs or a buttload of rat droppings. Each one is like a space Kinder egg.
That’s something I find fun.
But it’s more than that. Like in our favorite new Eve trailer, that wrecked POS was once someone’s dream, that was someone’s plan, or at the very least, someone’s “safe” bookmark. If you study the modules left behind you can see what they wanted to do with it and how skilled they were. You can read the corp history and try to piece together why this particular tower was left deserted. What made them just forget a few billion or more worth of loot in this tiny structure that my torpedoes smashed in. Sure it’s about the loot, because ISK is always nice, but it’s also about the exercise of imagination to create a nice story in my head from the available puzzle pieces.
Fine, I’m Space Indiana Jones and I rob tombs while gawking at the hieroglyphs. You got me. But the future looks grim for these kind of shenanigans. Citadels are here.
over three or four hundred medium citadels have been made
CCP Nullabor recently confirmed that quite a lot of people have anchored citadels already, mostly Astrahuses (Astrahusi? Astrahouses?) since we’re still a few days off from seeing mass-built Fortizars. Judging by public estimates, over three or four hundred medium citadels have been made, installed, and some even destroyed by now.
New structures are coming up and they’ll use the same mechanics for anchoring and attack/defense as citadels. Asset safety is a staple feature in K-space citadels, with only wormhole citadels dropping loot around its floating carcass, and that’s probably true for the rest of the upcoming structures too. POSes will eventually be forcefully removed from the game, with gradual incentives to move away from them during the transition period which has now started.
So, what does all of this have to do with my little chosen profession?
It makes it impossible and obsolete.
A while back, another profession was in the same situation. There was a change made that threatened to erase the way they played the game. I’m talking here about highsec safari hunters and the patch that made it possible to disallow free corp-member PVP with the switch of a checkmark to “Illegal” status. While I was in agreement with the concept behind it as long as the default option was to allow in-corp PvP, in order to somewhat preserve the practice of safari-ing, a year later this seems to have had the exact effect that was feared. Safari hunting is now dead, as most corporations have it set to “Illegal”. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but this is coming back to me now as I’m faced with my current conundrum.
Let’s take our local friendly time machine and move a year or two into the future after POSes get removed.
Forgotten citadels and various structures that share their mechanics litter the universe, their masters long unsubscribed and their corps shattered, like the POSes of old. But that’s where the comparisons stop. Citadels are relatively faceless, exactly the same in look and possible function, with none of the beauty and variety seen in POS configurations today. Currently it requires some skill to classify a POS configuration and realise what its purpose is. Ship scanners work on citadels, but will just show you rigs and modules. More importantly, no one has an incentive to take them down since there’s little for them to gain since the assets will be safely transferred to the closest NPC station, for just a cost of 10% of the value to the owner.
So I move to wormhole space. I sigh a bit as I remember fondly the Territorial Claim Unit deathstar POS traps that were hatched before citadels and the genius of configuring a POS that way, let alone the artistry some people employed while doing so. In their place, Citadels and various industry/drilling structures arose. But those are not things I should be bothering with unless I can spare the time to scout out their vulnerability timers. Then I have to churn out a few thousand DPS even for the measly Astrahus, over each of the three phases for the defensive layers, each time waiting out the next reinforcement timer. That’s an insane grind and a high bar for my kind of explorer/junker who just wants to take down a long-abandoned structure to see if it carries any loot.
In short, I have to wage all-out war even if that citadel has been desolate and hasn’t seen the tender caress of a capsuleer for the last six months. I still need to commit to more time than its most likely worth to take it down. So I will not. About the same conclusion was drawn by players wanting to kill mobile depots right now since almost no matter what they may contain, you won’t be coming back two days later to a single shard of space to pew it for (if you’re lucky) 40 million in loot or ammo (also assuming the guy doesn’t just pick it up after you reinforce it).
Citadels then become the new ‘empty sticks’ that litter the game
Citadels then become the new ‘empty sticks’ that litter the game, just a tabula rasa monolith anchored at an arbitrary point in space that offers no content and has no tale to tell.
So I have no story I can build, I have nothing to create a nice tale for me aside from the fact that one guy set up one structure for his corp at one time. I have no loot I can rob from most of them, and the rest will require strength of arms for even cracking open the metaphorical egg, dozens of hours possibly wasted for nothing. And to top it off, no one will ask me for POS maps ever again either, they’ll just ask me to write down the timer for the next vulnerability period.
So with all the flexibility and versatility of citadels and the entire range of planned structures, how come I find that there are fewer options for expression, for creating experiences in the sandbox, compared to what came before? The discussion of overdesigned systems versus creating infrastructure for emergent design can be drawn but that’s a lengthier topic for a different article.
A glimmer exists though in a possible solution that’s being tossed around Tweetfleet Slack. What if citadels are capturable or destroyable after a month of complete inactivity in terms of docking or service use? Other options include entosising, hacking, or pewing them to just a layer of structure with no reinforcement timer. All of these will work to clear out the future cluttered mess of citadels blocking out the sun, and get some sweet loot after. But so far it sounds like it isn’t even hitting CCP’s drawing board.
In any case, I still have another year or so until POSes become a thing of the past and I have to hang up my hat and whip. For the moment, I’m going to continue to enjoy my little niche, but I know eventually I’ll need to mourn the loss of this cool little way of playing the game.
In closing, Belloq in Raiders of the Lost Ark said it best: “How odd that it should end this way for us after so many stimulating encounters. I almost regret it.”