The Proposed Phase Two of Sovereignty Changes

There was a big, big dev post from CCP yesterday about their next phase of changes to null sec sovereignty.  The first phase came with Phoebe back in November, which introduced jump fatigue.  That expansion changed the null sec map… before it even arrived.  The big null sec blocs adjusted themselves and settled in.  There has been some fighting in the east where the Russians have been staging a comeback, but they were already players on the map for many years.  The much ballyhooed, mythical big blue donut remained pretty much intact.  The names on the map sometimes change, but there are very few new powers that have shown up in my time.

Null Sec Sov - Dec 2011 and March 2015 compared

Null Sec Sov – Dec 2011 and March 2015 compared

You may see Absolution Alliance on the right side, but that is just White Noise from the left hand map.  Brave Collective is new, but it has TEST hanging out with them.  Even Intrepid Crossing is still on the map as two tiny little green boxes in The Spire.  You need a score card to tell who is dancing with who these days, to torture a metaphor, but a lot of the same players are out on the floor.  So, yes, there might be some justification for tinkering with sovereignty.

Anyway, the second phase is based on a series of goals CCP is attempting to achieve.  They are:

1. As much as possible, ensure that the process of fighting over a star system is enjoyable and fascinating for all the players involved

Hard to argue with that one, though that might be more because it is pretty vague.  Fights are fights after all, and I have been involved in some really great fights under the current sov system because timers force the issue and make people come out and play, because otherwise they will lose their holdings.  I think the previous dev blog about nerfing Ishtars and Tengus would be as likely to accomplish the “enjoyable” goal in my book, but I’ll take it as “don’t make things worse.”  I can live with that.

2. Clarify the process of taking, holding and fighting over star systems

Okay, amen to this one.  I’ve been a soldier in the sov wars since December 2011 and I still can’t tell when we are really, truly fighting over the very last, final, there ain’t no more, we get the system now, timer unless the FC explicitly says so.  And I’ve been on ops where the FC has said that and has been wrong.  Of course, they went on to describe a new system that seems to be just as arcane in its own way, but at least they want to give it a UI that mere mortals can access and decipher.

A UI proposal

A UI proposal – Also, Atlas Alliance!

I don’t get access to Region Commander, so it would be nice for CCP to let the soldiers be able to tell what is going on.

3. Minimize the systemic pressure to bring more people or larger ships than would be required to simply defeat your enemies on the field of battle

Make it so when the defenders bring three fleets we don’t have to up the ante and arrive with four I guess.  After two reads through the whole thing, I am not sure how a bigger coalition is not going to be incentivized to roll out as many fleets as possible when an important system is in dispute.

4. Drastically reduce the time and effort required to conquer undefended space

Sounds good.  I’ve already been through undefended region grinds.

5. Provide significant strategic benefits from living in your space

I’ve seen this one getting some heat.  What it means is that the systems you use to rat and mine and produce in, those will get a defensive buff.  What it does not mean, and what some people seem to expect it should mean, is any sort of boost to the benefits of living in null sec.  Without that latter bit, there are a lot of raggedy ass, bad true sec systems out there that alliances tend to hold merely because they happen to be in the same neighborhood as the systems they actually use.  All of null is not equally valuable, so I wonder what becomes of the off brand stars that don’t spawn worthwhile anomalies or asteroids.

6. Spread the largest Sovereignty battles over multiple star systems to take advantage of New Eden’s varied geography and to better manage server load

This is one where I begin to wonder if CCP plays its own game.  Have they been in a sov war since time dilation was introduced?  Because outside of Jita, very few star systems appear to get their own dedicated resources.  The same set of CPUs seems to run a whole constellation, or even a whole region at times, because a big fight in one system will spread the time dilation love to adjoining systems so we all share the pain.  So this one seems moot unless there is some server infrastructure change that goes with it, as 4,000 people in one system and 4,000 people in one constellation seem to be about as likely to bring the servers to their knees based on my own past experience.

7. Any new Sovereignty system should be adaptable enough to be rapidly updated and to incorporate future changes to EVE

CCP actually attempting to plan for the future.  Will wonders never cease?  Next they will tell us that their programmers comment their code in a comprehensible and meaningful way… and then I will know they are full of shit.

Thoughts on This

So those are the seven goals which are alleged to inform all of the mass of text that follows them in the dev blog.

What does it all mean?  Damn if I know.  I just align where the FC tells me and shoot the targets indicated… or rep the targets indicated more likely… when I can be bothered to stop trying to get good screen shots.

Moving sovereignty fights so that they occur in multiple systems in a constellation sounds interesting, if not exactly logical.  In order to capture system A you need to blow something up in system b and c?  Sure, I’ll do it, and I guess it makes as much sense as timers do in the first place.  And the defense bonus structures will get means that bigger fleets will still be encouraged by the system.

Likewise, the whole Entosis link module sounds interesting.

And they come with a flow chart, so #winning

And they come with a flow chart, so #winning

Of course, I am sure that module will never be abused, there being absolutely no history of EVE players gaming the system or min/maxing or finding strange new uses for things. (Cue footage of hot Ishtar on Ishtar action and suicide gankers resupplying from Orcas.)  I know, stop laughing.  But if you are thinking that at least it will put power in the hands of smaller groups, you might want to remember that the coalitions have their own think tanks dedicated to optimizing that sort of thing.

But we might have to start using all those SBU’s that Wibla is purported to be holding for a rainy day, as they will be obsolete when the new system comes online, replaced by the Entosis link module.

Freeport mode sounds like it could be rich in comedy.  I fully endorse that.

Being able to set your prime time defense window favors defense.  While I have seen it said that this pretty much lets the pacific time zones out of playing to sov game, you know some group will recruit Australians just so they can set their timers to go off when Europe and North America can’t get numbers on grid.  This will be a strategic decision.

While there seems to be an unstated goal in the mix about making sovereignty accessible by a more diverse group rather than the same old players that are in the maps at the top of the post, I am not sure that the price will be paid by the big blocs.  There are a lot of corps out in null sec only because they can rent space.  They are the most likely group to be driven out of null, replaced by whichever new groups (or reconfigured old groups) that want to grab a piece of space real estate to call their own.  Is that a good thing?  If you’re thirsting for sov, probably yes.  If you’re a renter corp, maybe not so much.

Finally, while I have seen a couple of references to the end of the blue donut again with this dev blog, I do not see anything in the whole mess that would make me think for an instant that the big, well organized, and currently entrenched blocs will be at any sort of relative disadvantage when the change eventually comes.

But I wouldn’t expect to see such a thing unless CCP completely lost hold of their senses.  Alienating a large and fairly dedicated chunk of your player base never plays out well.  Nobody wants to be part of the next NGE fiasco, so CCP isn’t going to change things to allow a couple 100 person corps to throw Goonswarm out of VFK.  They want null to be more interesting, but not THAT interesting.

Anyway, the dev blog is all just a proposal at this time for something to hit come the summer, so there will be plenty of time for CCP to gauge reaction and adapt to the holes poked in their ideas.  Plus they will get a couple of new CSM members putting their two cents in soon enough, and one of them is likely to be Endie, which should make for a good time.

We shall see what the summer brings I suppose, but first we have to get through Fanfest and spring and a couple more of those every five week releases.

Others writing about this dev blog:

9 thoughts on “The Proposed Phase Two of Sovereignty Changes

  1. Rohan

    I think you’re misinterpreting item 3. To me it seems to read that you shouldn’t bring extra ships just to make grinding through the structure’s defenses faster.

    What I learned yesterday is that in Eve, “reinforcing a structure” means to attack it. I am always amused at how jargon evolves.


  2. Ranamar

    Regarding the constellation thing, there’s already one really, really big win to having lots of capture points: it breaks fleets up and hopefully gets fewer people on a single grid. Because, really, there are basically two sources of tidi these days: lots of ships shooting each other on a grid (or worse yet, generating simulation objects, like drones), and and jumping through gates. (The same number of people doing a bunch of different things is significantly less of a problem, because you don’t need to figure out what’s where and who to send effects updates to for as many entities. It’s an N^2 problem.)

    Well, okay, this will increase the amount of jumping-through-gates tidi going on… but hopefully it’ll reduce the amount of “a zillion people, on a single grid” battles, and we’re going to have to trust their load balancer for the rest.


  3. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Rohan – Well, you attack it until you knock it down to a certain level of hit points, and which time it goes into reinforcement mode, at which point you can not attack it until the associated timer runs out. That gives the defensive team time to rally the troops and sets the time for the fight. So when we go out on structure ops the first question is usually whether we are actually going to blow something up or just put something into reinforce. There are times when attacking a structure does not involve reinforcing… so the terms are not interchangeable… but it sure feels like we reinforce a lot more than we kill most days of the week.


  4. kirith kodachi

    The distribution of systems on nodes is more deliberately random, hence why a system across the cluster from a bug fight can experience TIDI. By breaking the fight from one system to across a constellation, the load is being distributed across more nodes as a result.


  5. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Kirith – That may be the way it should work, or the theory about how it was designed, but after a few dozen 1,000+ ship battles during the TiDi era, my experience is that until CCP gets around to putting the fight on its own node, all adjacent systems for 2-4 jumps suffer from the same TiDi effects. That pretty much maps out to constellations being on the same node.

    Now maybe they are going to fix something or change how TiDi is distributed, but I must have missed that bit in the dev blogs of late.


  6. Xmas

    On Item 6, sever load distribution.

    Every morning during the normal downtime, the Eve servers distribute the solar systems to the game servers. Given that the “Constellation-wide Button Hunt” happens two days after the station gets Entosissed (Entosized?), the preceding downtime will have a chance distribute the constellations systems across multiple servers.

    The system should also allow some pre-downtime workload management as while the Button Hunt is start time is bounded by the Prime Time Window of the defender, there is some flexibility as to when that start time will be. This let’s the server optimization algorithm distribute multiple system with button hunt events to one server if their start times are hours apart.


  7. anon

    @Ranamar, the proposed sov system will likely increase the total number of jumps, but at the very least a technical solution for reducing their burden on the servers is already known, so it is only a matter of implementing it.


  8. Thomas

    A system that didn’t advantage size and organisation would be much less fun than ones that do. It would turn 0.0 into another form of Faction Warfare where ‘being good at the game’ doesn’t bring you long term rewards.

    And that’s not just for the sizeable and organised organisations either. The stories of Test and BoB and the CFC bring people to EVE in the first place. It’s like life, people play because they dream of being the top dogs and believe everyone has a chance, even when they don’t.

    If this sov change allows the big entities to dominate but allows the smaller groups a chance to nip at their heels and take outlying border systems once in a while… how good do you feel when you’re the guy who created an alliance that took systems off N3?

    And even if that doesn’t work out, it’ll be fun watching the new strategies developed by the CFC to bypass mechanics. Maybe they’ll work on a ‘take one of our systems and we’ll take all of yours’ deal


  9. flosch

    Late to the topic as always… also chiming in about point no. 6 (spreading battles over several systems).

    I was under the impression that, if you have a fight were n people fight each other, network load goes up by O(n^2), because everybody wants to know what everybody else does. By splitting the fighting force in half, you end up with half the communication load ( 2*((n/2)^2) < n^2 ). Am I missing something important?

    Of course, the question is whether CCP can make it worthwhile to split your force, compared to keeping them all together, and first steamrolling the opposing force in system A, and then moving on to do the same in system B…


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