Local to be Blacked Out in Null Sec Soon

Something new is coming as part of the Invasion expansion.

CCP says Blackout

CCP posted a new video from The Scope earlier today that reports on the impacts of the Triglavian and Drifter invasions.


With the provocative title “Nullsec Blackout,” reporter Lena Amber announced that the fluid router FTL communication network maintained by CONCORD was under extreme pressure due to the various invasions and, in an effort to maintain critical services, will be turning off local in non-empire regions of space, meaning null sec. (Transcript here)

The removal of the local channel from null sec, making it more like wormhole space, has long been the pipe dream of hunters in EVE Online, as the way it currently works, local announces your presence by registering you in the channel the moment you arrive in system.

Basically, the local channel is a huge intelligence asset for those being hunted.  Before wormhole space was introduced with the Apocrypha expansion back in March of 2009, the local channel was seen as an immutable fact of life.  After wormhole space was introduce, a new possibility was realized and it became the dream of hunters and calls for removing the local channel from null sec has been pretty much constant ever since.

The video from The Scope doesn’t indicate when this local channel blackout will come to null, but for the first time since the invasions started, CCP has given us some information directly.  From the news item that went up after the video was posted:

As reported in The Scope earlier today, over the coming days we’ll be changing the way local chat works.

This change will affect the whole of nullsec space.

Local chat in all nullsec space will be switched over to delayed mode. This means that it will behave as local chat in wormhole space, with pilots only appearing in the local population listing should they choose to post messages.

Obviously, this will cause a substantial change to the dynamics of nullsec, so we want to inform the community before we begin.

The duration of this blackout is undetermined, and we’ll be monitoring what effect this has on the cluster.

We will give at least 48 hours of notice before initiating the blackout so pilots can make the necessary preparations.

There is a forum discussion thread about the blackout as well, which is quickly devolving into the expected divide between those happy about the change and those not.

This is not a surprise.

The Drifter invasion has so far aggravated the long standing rivalry between null sec and other parts of New Eden, where there has been much joy in some quarters due to null sec being afflicted.  Even normally cool heads seem to be jumping in with extreme views.  But, to me, the removal of local digs down to a much more primal level in the sphere of MMO players, the divide between PvE and PvP, sometimes characterized as the “sheep” and the “wolves.”

One of the draws of EVE Online for PvP players is the non-consensual aspect of the game when it comes to combat.  You can shoot anybody you run across.  This same factor is a red flag that keeps more casual players away from the game and probably represents a limiting factor on the size of the game’s player base.  A lot of people don’t like to be blown up.

The removal of local in null sec is a boon for the wolves, but a bane for the sheep.  The argument right now is that there are too many sheep and they have it too easy, that the wolves cannot catch them easily enough.  There are a lot of other elements thrown in to justify this, with claims about bots and RMT and whatever, as though they wouldn’t gank anybody they could given the chance.  A local blackout will swing things in favor of the wolves, so it will be interesting to see what happens to the balance with that change.

Games that do not protect their PvE players, that fully embrace the wolves, tend to suffer for it.  Players that excel at PvP tend to drive out those who do not, leading to games dying, see Darkfall, or a split between PvP and PvE servers, as happened with Ultima Online.

EVE Online is a rare gem in the MMORPG space, a non-consensual PvP title that has succeeded and has lasted for 16 years.  We will see if making PvP easier will keep that success going.

And, of course, there is the question of who will really feel the impact of this change.  If you’re ratting in a Nyx, you’re still as tough to kill as ever and will have time to light a cyno and call in reinforcements.  If you’re ratting in a sub cap, you’ll be much more likely to die.  I would expect even more super ratting if the blackout goes on for very long.

Also circulating this morning was a rumor that asset safety might be removed from null sec.  This speculation seems to be entirely based on a Galactic News Hour piece about the invasions and an item in the video’s headline news scroll about InterBus, which handles asset safety in the lore.  Nothing else has been said on that topic, though I would be interested to hear if this goes anywhere.  Having been there for a Keepstar kill in wormhole space, the giant loot pinata that results is a pretty good incentive to go blow up people’s stuff.

The loot ball after a Keepstar dies

Anyway, CCP seems determine to shake things up in null sec.  We will just have to sit back and see how it plays out.

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13 thoughts on “Local to be Blacked Out in Null Sec Soon

  1. Nosy Gamer

    Of course CCP is only removing it for null sec. Delayed local would have made mining in low sec much safer, as you can find belts out of D-scan range of gates to mine in, and roving gangs won’t know you are there.


  2. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Nosy Gamer – I think that is actually an argument for removing it from low sec as well. Low sec is weird and anything that makes it more useful right now is probably a good thing.


  3. flosch

    Your Nyx example is a good one. There is a short and sweet name for a rule… I think someone lent their name to it… that changes in a game, even if they are designed to benefit new players, will benefit older players disproportionately.

    At first glance… unless I get something wrong, which I often do… this change seems to be worst for those players relying most on null sec ratting in vulnerable ships. That seems to be newer players. But that’s not the only point: why do they rat? Many younger players probably do to fund their pvp. And at that point, it becomes important if your alliance reimburses losses. So it sounds like it becomes even more important for younger players to join big, established alliances that reimburse pvp losses in fleets (from moon goo sales I guess?) that runs the risk of perpetuating the current status quo and the big alliances, because they can tap into a (by all accounts slowly drying up, granted) pool of new players that smaller or new alliances can’t to the same degree.

    Is that a problem? I don’t know. The top alliances have been very stable already as it is, so maybe this change is mostly irrelevant in that respect. But it sounds like the change has a high chance to perpetuate current null sec powers, instead of throwing a wrench into the gears and causing some disruption and chaos, as Ccp used to like to do occasionally.


  4. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @flosch – Into the mix there is the botter menace, which is wildly overstate, in which anybody ratting semi-AFK is a VNI is assumed to be a bot. So killing VNIs becomes killing bots despite the fact that the VNI is also the null sec tricycle for ratting, the first thing new players can actually earn ISK in. Some bots die, some new players die, and a bunch of crusty vets who run half a dozen VNIs in the background die. The crusty vet gets a Nyx, the botter finds a new angle, and the new player suffers. Not that I can see a way around that, as it happens already. But this will accelerate it I imagine.

    Like all changes, this will favor the best organized. Malcanis and his rule. Goons and TEST and PanFam and Fraternity will survive while marginal groups will fall. And people will then complain about the blue donut and stagnation in null sec.

    I don’t necessarily want to see the world burn, but I have to admit I am all about spectacle at this point and seeing CCP playing with matches is captivating.


  5. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author



  6. Dinsdale Pirannha

    Uh huh…and he couches his praise assuming that an unannounced new recon mechanic will counter this loss of local. I imagine he furiously threatening CCP through back channels to do his bidding. But if I am right, and there is a new sheriff in town aka new ownership, I am hoping his threats fall on deaf ears.


  7. bhagpuss

    I generally try to avoid commenting on EVE since I don’t play and therefore have a very limited understanding of what I read. This whole chapter of events, however, is exceptionally interesting to an outside observer for any number of reasons.

    Firstly, it’s fascinating to see a developer playing its customers in such a blatant fashion. All developers ring the changes in various ways in an attempt to keep the game fresh but this seems to go far beyond that. It’s as though CCP plays the metagame from a similar standpoint to the way the players play the game – ruthlessly and unfairly. Players are repeatedly advised not to fly anything they aren’t prepared to lose – I wonder if CCP feel that way about their business?

    Secondly, reports here and particularly on Nosey Gamer’s blog have really opened my eyes to the deep lore behind EVE. It often gets referenced in passing – posts on TAGN frequently refer to the NPC provenance of different ships and so on – but there’s clearly a huge, written narrative going on that most reports on the game simply don’t bother to mention at all.

    As a lifelong SF reader, I find that narrative/lore/setting hugely more intriguing than any of the player-driven wars I’ve read about. The motivations and politics behind the various rises and falls of Null Sec Empires are interesting but they aren’t *as* interesting. Real life, in my opinion, is very rarely more interesting than well-crafted fiction.

    I’m very curious now to see where all this is going. It could be the typical pre-expansion churning of any MMORPG. We’ve seen it countless times. Get everyone excited and/or riled up about what might happen then introduce the new normal, which almost immediately settles into the new dull. If so, CCP will be counting on all the players they piss off over the next few weeks coming back when the dust settles. If it portends a real, significant, lasting change in some of the fundementals, though, then CCP could be playing a very dangerous game indeed.

    My takeaway from al this is that I’d be very interested indeed to see a narrative-driven PvE Space Opera game from CCP. I think they understand that aspect of SF pretty well. About a million times better than the people running SW:ToR, that’s for sure.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Dins – Your ability to craft your own vision of reality never ceases to amaze. Mittens is mad about Drifters, but on coms he has been very chill about no local. It is, after all, something that has been debated since wormhole space came out. And in the SIGs and squads where I live, there is a lot of excitement. If you read the blog, you’ll have noted I do very little ratting, zero mining, but lots of ops hunting ratters and miners. No local just makes that easier, as long as ratters and miners undock.

    Comic side note: Force recons, which cannot be detected on d-scan, went way way up in price and are now hard to find on the market as all the hunters stocked up to go shoot PvE players in null sec. We’ll see how that works out.

    Anyway, if you want a taste of that “new sheriff” in town, the real Pearl Abyss, then look no further than selling a million skill points in the Starter Pack. That was a very Pearl Abyss move. You’ll know they’re actually telling CCP what to do when gold ammo and special cash shop only ships appear along with constant prompts to buy things in-game. I’ve played a bit of Black Desert Online, enough to see what they’re about. But if you don’t believe me, go ask Noizy. He stuck with it longer than I could and is considerably more critical of them.

    @Bhagpuss – One of the problems with CCP is that they can be very sporadic with lore. It is probably a blessing that EVE Online is a sandbox, because they cannot really sustain anything lore based for very long. They do two “expansions” a year, but they are 90% game mechanics related. I doubt, as a company, if they could pull together enough lore and related game-play to equal what Daybreak does with an EQ or EQII expansion annually.

    And the lore itself is very much a matter of debate at times. The classic example is whether or not ships in-game have crews. A player added something to the old official Wiki that said they did and, because it was written on the internet, some people insist that is now an immutable fact. But the EVE Online novels make it pretty clear that there are not crews. And the art book CCP did about frigates seems confused on the issue.

    The one thing that CCP does do that I enjoy quite a bit is tie the player actions and mechanics changes into the lore. Videos from The Scope are a treat. They create the illusion that the players and the lore intermingle seamlessly. But it is just an illusion. And with the no local thing, they put out the video to give the lore reason for the change, but then felt the change was so radical that they had to do a dev blog announcement and a discussion thread about it.

    So, yes, from the outside the lore, when it appears, looks interesting. But for me it is still the way that the related mechanics shape the flow of the players and how that gets merged with the lore that makes it interesting.


  9. evehermit

    I like your wolves and sheep analogy. I believe EVE works best when it is balanced well between those two play styles. I think that some of the more impactful developers at CCP play wolves in the game. I have not got the impression those individuals understand sheep. Since CCP Seagull moved on, they seem to have had more influence. Reading thought the forum response thread, it is full of wolves cheering and salivating, and sheep up in arms are angry. That suggests it probably isn’t a balanced change.


  10. SynCaine

    Darkfall didn’t die due to lack of sheep, since it basically had zero sheep (sheep in the traditional MMO sense, we did have ‘Darkfall sheep’). It died due to the good devs leaving, and the bad devs left stopped listening to me.

    About Nyx ratting being safe with no local, I’m not sure that will be the case. Ratting supers are juicy targets, and without local, sitting cloaked waiting for the right time to strike will be easier. Sure, whoever comes to kill the Super likely isn’t leaving, but even a few suicide dreads and tackle is a worthwhile sacrifice vs the price of a Super.

    I do wonder how much the lack of local will impact PvE in null though. When a random showed up in local, most people in KF didn’t dock up. And the cost of a VNI is paid on the first day with a bit of farming, so those PvE players aren’t exactly going to go broke. Plus with more local enemies, I suspect local defense fleets will be more active.

    What I do suspect this will accomplish is more ships blowing up overall, which is good for the economy/game.


  11. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Evehermit – “Wolves and Sheep” was the metaphor back in the Ultima Online days when there was much disorder over the non-consensual PvP aspect of the original game. Eventually Origin rolled up shards without that option, the dread Trammel update. But UO was already a sharded game, meaning it had multiple servers, so having some with different rules wasn’t a mortal blow. In fact, as people have pointed out to me in the past, UO subscriptions went up with Trammel despite the doom and gloom that was predicted.

    @SynCaine – I’ve been on the dropping side of killing a ratting super a few times now, and they get saved a lot. It is very opportunistic. There is a window where you want to drop on one, when they’re not aligned out and ready to warp and you have your dreads online and ready to go. I’ve been on coms for an hour or more listening to the scout trying to get everything setup just right for a drop. And if you don’t get a cyno-inhib down and the locals are ready to counter-drop, things go sideways quickly. And even if the target dies, the titan pilots in the counter drop get to feed on the dreads which only makes them happy and encourages them to stay ready.

    One thing that will happen with no local will be groups logging off dreads in deep safes in various systems. Incursions used to show up way outside of the planetary orbits, so old hands have those locations bookmarked. They are too far out to see on dscan. So you log in all your dreads out there, nobody is the wiser, your tackler bubbles the Nyx, drops the cyno-inhib, and the dreads warp in for the kill. Works great, unless somebody local also has that deep safe bookmark. I know I drop a bookmark every time an FC warps us to a deep safe, so a lot of them are known.

    I do expect to see a swap to Myrmidons. As I noted in my own experiment with one, they rat slower than the current VNI, though that advantage will fade with the coming VNI nerfs, but you break even after one good anom. Also they are considerably tougher and can fit a cyno so you can drop supers on people even more so.

    Liked by 1 person

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