Tag Archives: Drifters

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.

Other coverage:

The Drifters Change Up in Null

By the end of the weekend the patterns of the Drifter attacks in null sec had been pretty well documented.  There were a set group of systems they were hitting and a regular, if erratic, behavior that had them bouncing around those systems shooting structures, including gates, as well as anybody who happened to wander into range.

Drifters Hitting a Raitaru

But there was very much a feeling that once Wednesday rolled around, the seeming weekly inflection point for Invasion expansion events, that we would see a change.

And, sure enough, we did see a change.

A new set of systems appeared to be targeted as the new day dawned.

But, more important, the behavior of the Drifters changed up as well.  In addition to warping to structures they began warping into combat and mining anomalies to shoot up anybody they happened to run into.  The high sec dream of Drifters shooting null sec players appears to have come to pass.  You can watch the Vigilant Tyrannos corporation kill board on Zkill to see what they are blowing up.

Pandemic Horde having a bad day in Geminate

While it still seems to be mostly defense fleets and people caught on gates, Vexor Navy Issues, the ratting ship of choice, are starting to appear more frequently.

None of our Rorquals are on the kill board yet, though there were some close calls.

He lived, no big deal

But the Drifters did manage to get one earlier down south.

And they did managed to join in on an Athanor kill, though it was anchoring and under attack by players, so it was probably going down regardless.

So the Drifter menace got a bit more real.  And longer as well.  Rather than being a limited hours attack, things seem to be running all the way to downtime now, so I hope you have around the clock coverage in your region.  Oh, and it is a holiday today in the US, and a four day weekend for many, so lots of people will be away.  Nice timing.

The drifters do still appear to be sticking to a select, if expanded, set of systems, so as long as you move out of a system where the Drifters are hanging out to return to the usual amount of risk.  Intel channels are your friend.  But if you have to defend against them, then it is just non-stop now.  And if you go through those systems… well, the kill rate for Drifters went from a few an hour to something like two a minute last night, including pods, across null sec.

CCP has not, as of my writing this, commented on the Drifter invasion save for a video from The Scope that was posted last Friday.  We will have to wait and see if The Scope will have any further comment and when, if ever, the Triglavian invasion of high sec and the Drifter invasion of null sec come together as an event.

So CCP continues to beset null sec with even more tedious, unrewarding game play, which seems odd from a company that is also fretting publicly about new player retention.

How do you solve a problem like the Drifters?

How do you solve a problem like the Drifters?
How do you catch their ships and pin them down?
How do you find these un-scannable grifters?
These gate camping, structure shooting clowns?

-Drifters, from The Sound of Null Sec

The Drifter attacks on null sec, which I first mentioned last week, carried on through the weekend… a weekend where many of us were waiting around to get back home to Delve to face this Drifter menace.

On the bright side, depending on where you stand, the Drifter problem has been “solved” for specific definitions of the term.  So I guess I don’t have to work on any more lyrics.  Over on Reddit there is a detailed examination of the behavior of the Drifters attacking null sec.

Drifters shooting

On the down side, the Drifters don’t seem to be doing much of anything that anybody really wants.  They are not blowing up null sec structures, except on accident that one time it seems.  This won’t be the purge of null sec that some people are crying out for. Bots are not being targeted. It has little impact on AFK ratting or Rorqual mining.  Moon mining might take a bit of a hit, since the Drifters cluster around structures, which is where moon mining also happens, but Locust fleet, the monthly harvesting of moons in Querious, went off as usual yesterday, so not even that is being held back very much.  This is basically a mild annoyance that impacts a few people and which won’t change any of the things that some people are hoping for.

Also, it isn’t providing much in the way of new content.  These are not incursions, which people enjoy doing, or even the Triglavian invasions that have been hitting high sec, which reward people for participating.  The Drifters don’t even seem to be dropping much in the way of loot or salvage.  The Drifters just show up in three systems in a given region (except in Delve, where they show up in more systems, because we needed another reason for Goons to feel singled out by CCP I guess), the people who can gun citadels fly out, blow them up, and life goes on as normal… unless you are one of the assigned gunners, in which case your life is non-stop running around your home region popping Drifter fleets.

Or if there is a low power structure that can’t be gunned.  Then a fleet has to go out to shoot the Drifters, which isn’t nearly as satisfying as it sounds.  I was on such a fleet yesterday.

On grid without another fleet

The Drifter AI is very twitchy.  The ships warp in and out regularly, they move fast, they align fast, they have the sig radius of a frigate, and if they target yo inside of your lock range you are dead.

Hitting a Raitaru

And if they do sit still long enough to lock up and hit, they die pretty quickly to a pack of battlecruisers so you are as like as not going to get a shot in.  Not that it matters.  If you kill them all they just respawn… but maybe they will pick another structure in their random ways.

The twitchiness of the behavior extends to bugs as well.  If they do lock you up as you warp away, they do not lose lock.  We sat and let a structure repair because the Drifters around it had locked up a couple of our logi… they always lock logi first… and were busy firing away at them past 1,100km.

A Basi taking fire from beyond visual range

Fortunately that seems to be past their optimal, so they are not deadly at infinite range.

Anyway, Drifter fleets are annoying and fighting them isn’t particularly satisfying.  It is yet more unsatisfying PvE in a game full of dull and unsatisfying PvE.  My hope is that this is part of the Invasion expansion events and that come Wednesday it will change or evolve or otherwise become part of the “Drifters vs. Triglavians” story in New Eden.

Let somebody else blow them up

Otherwise, as a line member in null sec I can avoid it for now.  Defense fleets are not that common.  I went on the one out of curiosity as much as anything.  I don’t have rights to gun GSF structures, or even TNT structures. (I can gun corp structures, but I don’t think we have any.)  The people this hits, the people who get all the notifications and have to run out to gun all the structures under attack, are in leadership.  Move ops home were delayed or cancelled a few times due to the people assigned to run them being tied up gunning structures in order to shoot Drifters.

So, unsurprisingly leadership… the leadership of many null sec groups, not just the Imperium… are unhappy about this.  The Mittani, who was keen to continue prosecuting the war in the north, seems especially put out, though I don’t know if he was among those out gunning structures.

Unable to do anything about the Drifters directly, save from shooting them and then watching them respawn, a null sec cartel has been formed to send a message of displeasure to CCP.  The null sec groups are not shooting each other, so now they’re working together.  The mythical blue donut, ever the complaint about null sec, even when we are fighting each other, has been achieved to the greatest degree ever.

The plan, which I gather stemmed from Ayrth, CSM member and economic leader of the Imperium, involves an embargo of raw materials from null sec.  We are being asked to not ship any minerals, moon goo, or other such items to the high sec markets like Jita.  The idea is to have some impact on the economy and high sec production concerns.

Finished goods are allowed to be exported.  So ships and modules and nanite repair paste and whatever.

The question is what sort of impact this might have.  There was certainly some fluctuation in pricing on some raw materials as soon as this was announced.  But nobody knows how deep the market backlog in Jita really is.  If people are sitting on a few days worth of products and raw materials, this could have an impact in the near term.  If the market stockpiles are a month deep or more, there might be no noticeable change between now and whenever this event ends.

As with any cartel, the incentive to cheat might be too much.  If the prices go up dramatically, some individuals may want to cash in with a bit of moon goo, and all the more so since the prices in null sec will be depressed due to market saturation.  The Imperium is not going to go the Circle of Two route, where GigX, in fine third world dictator fashion, required all raw materials be sold to the alliance, and was scanning outbound freighters and blowing up the ones that were smuggling.  Cooperation with this is voluntary, which means some people may use the opportunity to profit.

Whole corps or alliances may want to cheat.  What better way to outfox Goons than to make a pile of ISK while they are hoarding their raws?

And the whole Drifter thing may not last long enough for this to have any impact.  Well, no impact aside from heated rhetoric.  But the marketplace of ideas in New Eden has always had an oversupply of that.

As with the Drifters themselves, this doesn’t have much direct impact on me, if any.  I neither buy nor sell raw materials, and the finished goods I buy are usually off of alliance contracts which are often for things produced in Delve.  Things might get cheaper.  But it is more likely that I won’t notice any change at all.

And so it goes.  We shall see what happens, if anything at all happens.  But the game remains impressive even for the potential of what might happen.

Other coverage:

Drifters Hitting Null Sec Upwell Structures

Reports began popping up on Twitter during the afternoon of June 26th about Drifter NPCs attacking and reinforcing Upwell structures in null sec space.  This was picked up by Imperium News, who reported that the Drifters were moving around Delve and reinforcing structures around the region.

When I got home from work I jumped into game on an alt and fly over to the one of the systems they were reported to be working in and, sure enough there were Drifters firing away at an Azbel while other structures in the system had already had their armor timers set.

Drifters in the compound!

Dismissed at first as a boot.ini level bug by CCP, the Imperium has decided that CCP is not going to “fix” what is happening and has sent out pings for a recall to Delve from our staging in the KQK1-2 Keepstar, which itself was hit by Drifters earlier.

Drifter Cruisers hitting the Azbel

Coincidentally, back on June 5th I saw a small Drifter force hitting the KQK Keepstar, though it was only three ships and they were sent packing right away.

Drifter webbing and shooting the Keepstar

I thought at the time this was anomalous behavior, Drifters doing silly things, especially after the mention at EVE North about the great NPC battle nobody saw. But now, after they have started hitting structures in force, it seems like we have a new event in null sec to keep up busy.  The EVE North mention might have been an alert or might have been a ruse in hindsight.

Drifters on grid

There has been word that the Drifters have hit structures in TEST and Pandemic Horde space as well and have set up gate camps at times to shoot players as they travel through the various null sec regions.  There is also word that damage caps do not apply to Drifter attacks and they are reinforcing structures more quickly that players are able.

Imperium move ops are coming soon and I guess I have the answer as to what we are going to do now that the last Keepstar in Tribute is gone.  PAP links for PvE coming up I guess.  We’ll be fine, throwing our forces against the Drifters.  We’ll see how other groups fare.

We will also have to see what CCP has in mind with this.

Others on the Drifter menace:

And CCP has a video from The Scope

So there we go.