With The Mittani gone we have been having some different people speak at the weekly coalition fireside meetings, which take place on Sunday at the meeting point between EUTZ and USTZ peak times. So we have had TheAdj, Asher, and this past week, Apple Pear speak to the coalition about what is going on. It is usually war and policy updates, calls for help on specific fronts (more PI production please!), and a few questions from the audience.
This week, after Apple Pear’s terse comments… he is a man of few words and we respect that… we got a second speaker, Kazanir.
Kazanir is on the GSF finance team and also a new member of the CSM, having been at the top of the Imperium ballot in the CSM17 election.
Kazanir wanted to speak to us about EVE Online, its current issues, and what he thinks the problems might be.
I know, everybody has their pet theory about why “EVE is dying” this week. I know I do. If there isn’t a Reddit thread about it on any given day it is a minor miracle. Most of them focus on symptoms and quick fixes or wishful thinking about turning back the clock to a more glorious era when we didn’t have… *checks notes*… warp to zero as an option.
Seriously, people are still bringing that up and that has been gone since the Revelations expansion back in 2006.
Anyway, Kazanir, who came back to EVE Online for World War Bee and got deeply involved in helping keep the coalition afloat and able to pay its bills, took his election to the CSM seriously and began to research what has happened over the years and how we got to where we are today.
His first discovery was that, so far as null sec is concerned at least, all the elements of the game have pretty much been in place since 2005’s Red Moon Rising expansion. By that point the game had dreadnoughts, carriers, supercarriers (motherships back then), titans, tech II production, moon mining, player owned structures, null sec sovereignty, and the basics of everything that makes null sec what it is even today.
Yes, things have changed since then. There is no AOE titan doomsdays through cynos obliterating whole subcap fleets… something else that gets asked for now and then on Reddit… and moon sovereignty is now two sov systems ago. But the essentials were in place.
And with that things carried on and wars were fought about which books have been published.
Until they didn’t. So the question became what changed, and Kazanir has two working theories on what is missing from the game.
- Progression – The Curse of Cheap Capitals and Easy Skill Points
The first item Kazanir brought up was progression. For a long time titans, while not as rare as CCP thought they would be, were still pretty special ships. The battle at B-R5RB probably had more impact on the game than the two battles at M2-XFE because titans were just tougher to get back then.
Getting into a titan took a lot of time and planning and ISK. Time and ISK were a barrier to capital proliferation and made titans an aspirational goal. You had to work and wait to get one. Even if you bought a titan pilot at the character bazaar, there was still ISK to be earned for both the pilot and the hull.
That went away for with some often discussed changes. Rorquals, skill injectors, and the opening of the ISK faucet with super ratting all combined to make titans much more easily obtained.
If you could get into a carrier… and even I was able to get into a carrier before these changes… you could bulk up your wallet and spend the ISK on skill injectors to make a titan alt right away. Or you could just buy PLEX and sell it on the market. ISK was all around us.
Meanwhile, Rorqual mining… also a big ISK earner for pilots, though not an ISK faucet… made collecting all the minerals required to build capitals, all the way up to titans, but faster and cheaper.
Somewhere I have a screen shot of the price list from a capital building service in Delve back in the heyday of the titan boom and titan hulls were maybe 60 billion ISK, while supercarriers were under 20 billion. It was a bonanza for pilots who wanted to fly big iron.
For Reavers Secret Santa a couple of years back I gave somebody a fully fit Apostle because it wasn’t even a 2 billion ISK spend. Somebody gave me a Ninazu the next year. No big deal.
It was clearly out of hand and CCP felt they had to do something about it. After two years of slow nerfs to Rorquals and capital ratting, CCP decided to really bring the hammer down and we got austerity as a permanent feature of New Eden.
There is less ISK coming into the economy, everything costs more, and the resources to build things are harder to come by. Did this solve the problem?
Kazanir says “no.”
What he sees is an end to progression. After years of titans rolling off the assembly line like sausages, they are now very expensive to build or replace. PLEX is more expensive. Skill injectors are more expensive. To get from new player to titan pilot is now a much more arduous journey… or expensive if you want to credit card your way into the big hulls.
Pilots, corps, and alliances that got in on the boom years now have a leg up. Kazanir says that austerity helped us win World War Bee because the Imperium held enough of a capital advantage that we couldn’t be overwhelmed and the economy no longer supported the ability to catch up even though we were stuck in a single constellation in Delve.
So what should CCP do?
Kazanir’s idea is to restore progression, which means loosening up the economy and minerals at one end of things while adding more progression at the other end. Tech II capitals, supers, and titans, more faction capitals, maybe something beyond titans… something to give people an aspiration goal, including those who already have a few titans sitting in hangars… that will also push the economy by increasing demand. The velocity of ISK has been on a long downward trend, and now the concurrent player numbers have joined its slide.
He says that it can’t be a WoW-like progression treadmill. But right now there is just stagnation due to CCP’s dramatic clamp down on the economy.
- Moon Mining and the Value of Space
The other item that Kazanir brought up was that holding null sec space doesn’t have any particular value. This was due to changes made by CCP to moon mining.
Moons used to be a big conflict driver. We invaded Fountain and fought TEST back in 2013 ostensibly because we wanted their moons. Treaties and unlikely alliances and wars of aggression were fought over moons.
One of the big Upwell structure changes was drilling platforms replacing the old moon mining POS arrays. Moon mining went from a passive activity to a very active one where you needed multiple pilots to collect the yield of a frack. As CCP Rattati told us all on Reddit, “solo moon mining isn’t a god given right.”
The problem, as Kazanir lays it out, is that there is no way to turn space profitable by taking it in any sort of reasonable time frame. Back in the day you could bash somebody’s POS, replace it with your own, and be mining moon goo right away. There is no conflict driver because moons take a month to get spun up, need a fleet to mine out, and the output is not all that valuable any more.
So there needs to be a new conflict driver in null sec that makes space worth holding, that makes it worth a small group grabbing some distant constellation or even a system so they can do something with it beyond planting a flag.
We’re out burning down FI.RE space right now, but we have no intention of keeping it. It adds no value and is too far from home for us to hold and maintain and farm.
Does that mean we should go back to passive POS mining? Probably not. But something needs to drive conflict beyond the major powers just shooting each other in order to burn down some structures and go home.
- Now What?
Is any of this true? I mean, it sounds reasonable. Certainly the traditional way for an MMO to get out of economic stagnation is to grow and inflate itself out the problem, to give players more money and expensive new toys to build or buy. Players don’t love it when it becomes a recurring endless treadmill of progression. But right now the veteran player base, the core of any game, has no real progression at all.
Likewise, the current structure and sovereignty system has been seen as more of an impediment that an incentive for war. I’ve been on eight hour long sov tug of war battles where it is just a grind to see which side will get tired and go home. That isn’t sparkling game play.
Can Kazanir do anything about this on the CSM? Probably not.
He can bring his ideas to CCP, but they have to be receptive and, the current team running the game has been sticking to its guns that the only way to preserve the game is to keep the economy stuck in low gear lest players advance too quickly.
Anyway, it will be something to watch in the coming year.
I have tried to transmit Kazanir’s ideas to a blog post, but I fear I have not done him justice. The fireside was recorded however, and that recording is up on a public server if you want to listen to him speak yourself. It is about a 15 minute listen.
Kazanir starts speaking at the 5:40 mark if you wish to jump ahead and get straight to that.