Wednesday, 8 July 2015

FozzieSov, Null, Ants and the Elephant in the Room

Summer of Sov

Great so FozzieSov is here... and I have skirted around this subject. This is because there are people who naturally feel passionately about Sov warfare and whether you like it or not it is the signature of Eve to the outside world. I have a semi detached relationship to Null. I certainly fly there but would not choose to live there. Commenting on null therefore feels a bit like intruding on someones private business and I am not best placed to understand the issues in any case.

My Skin in the Game

However the summer of Sov has begun and yes I am going to comment on it. I suppose I had better be clear about my own interpretation of what FozzieSov actually is. It includes structures, entosis and any changes that have been justified by CCP to counter the weaponised boredom of null or lack of balance perceived by the parties who live there. There is also the wider agenda mapped out by CCP Seagul that again seems to have a primary focus on null. However, What makes it my business is when it comes to the implementation of these changes. It turns out they are not exclusive to Null. As I have explained earlier, the changes resulted in me cancelling duel training and postponing the creation of an additional account until I can figure out what is going on. A side effect of the faster release cycle is it is harder to plan ahead. It is hard be agile when your skill queue is 90 plus days long especially when the training may become unusable because of some change during that period. This might sound like a litany of complaint. It isn't. I love Eve and it is good that there are changes. The problem is I don't know what they mean and not confident in what I should be doing to adapt to them in a way that works with my play style. So that is my current concern.

Discerning what is going on is the difficult part. The evidence is thin and so assumptions can be flawed. Admittedly I am a glass half empty person but the sense I get is that CCP want to make the rest of New Eden like Null. I believe that because so many changes seem to take no account of non nullsov play styles. Once is an accident. Twice a coincidence, but three times is a mindset. Now I might be wrong be I am not seeing any evidence to the contrary. So my working assumption is to assume this is true and the tanks of Null will be firmly parked on my lawn. Consequently, I have some skin in the null side of the game.

On that basis I would say FozzieSov is pretty underwhelming. It wouldn't be so disappointing if FozzieSov offered something truly disruptive. But that isn't on the menu. It is still a capture a flag game with more grinding but with a magic wand if the Duality testers are to be believed. It appears there is less accessibility for solo and casual players if the changes to wormhole connections are true. So there is still no reason for me to live there. And besides, if null is spreading its tentacles into other parts of the game then all I have to do is to wait for it to arrive.

Elephant in the room

The elephant in the room is that null is mostly empty. I am not getting how FozzieSov will address that CCP's dream of great player built enterprises populating null and beyond are all well and good but remain just that. You need people to make that happen but societies don't thrive when they permanently under attack. If I were to set up an operation in Null I would also have to pay either protection money to the local mafia or pay for a defence operation. The costs of either make business not viable assuming that the weren't too time consuming to do and you wouldn't be rolled over by one of the bigger coalitions searching for content. Would you set up a jewellery shop in the Democratic Republic of Congo selling engagement rings from locally mined diamonds? Or would you go to Amsterdam instead? And that is the truth of null. It has potentially valuable resources if Hisec decides they are valuable. That will always be the case so long as it is impossible to establish a market with high volumes and a stable supply chain. The best you can get is something like the Thera market but that is an NPC station after all.

So if the intention is to make existing players who aren't interested in Sov wars move to null then there is no business case to do so. Further more if they are like me then they have been playing for a couple of years and then they made that judgment long ago. Changing the business case - by turning he rest of new eden into null will just make the everywhere as empty as null. Not a good thing for CCP' bottom line.

This is all a bit negative so lets try and be constructive. So what is to be done? It has got to be disruptive but not antagonise players that are already firmly entrenched in their own game play. It has to attract and provide a purpose to living in null that isn't destabilised by Sov and hopefully enhances Sov. It has to attract new players - because the existing ones have already made their choices. Hold that thought.

Ants

Have you ever seen a ant colony? You probably have but not realised it. According to wikipedia the largest one was estimated to have 306 million ants with 4500 nests. That is not trivial. Ants operate entirely independently of humans and may never come across a human. But they are an important part of our ecosystem both as part of the food chain and their positive impact on the environment. They are highly organised community and not shy of warfare. Eve needs ants. Null needs ants. Where is this going?

Terrible Idea

Well my thinking is this. There is lots of space in null that could be inhabited all things being equal. The inhabitants do not necessarily need to be Eve Online Capsuleers so let's call them ants. Dust showed us the possibilities even if the execution was originally sub optimal (I understand it is now much improved). Now I am thinking something similar for the asteroid belts but not as ambitious as Dust. So a new game based in the asteroids but not as sophisticated. This is an important point because it would have to appeal to the current generation of game players and CCP probably doesn't have money to burn. So it should target the ones who play on their phone or off Facebook for example. A simple resource hunting, base defence game like Throne Rush/Clash of the Clans perhaps. The particular game I had in mind was Battle Pirates. While it was F2P and in beta it was astonishingly good fun, quite hardcore for the genre and required theory crafting. Not just in ships but in base design - something barely touched on in Eve. It has subsequently disintegrated into a very expensive P2W milk the whale fest but the original idea was good. Good to the extent that it was regularly attracting 100000 players (clash of the Clans had around 8.5 million daily players). If you could integrate something like that into null (by products of the ants are valued by Eve Onine and vice versa) then you are looking at a very different dynamic with a very different audience looking very curiously at wider world of Eve Online. Maybe to the extent that they actually sub. The extent to which it is a Free to Play or Pay to Win game would depend on how you would want to entice players into Eve Online (and particularly Null). And if there was a relatively safe deadspace market I might even live there.

Ok so this is an idea that is probably very broken and terribad. Hopefully, CCP have a much better disruptive ideas to address the elephant in the room. I look forward to seeing what they are.

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