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.