The purpose of the letter is to bring to your attention and share my opinion on a number of issues which need to be addressed in EVE Online for the health of the game and for the long term health of CCP as a company.
A great many of you as well as a great many of CCP employees know me personally and know my dedication to and passion for EVE Online. I have been a longtime player and alliance leader and I have spoken a great number of times in terms of my “brand loyalty” to CCP. I will place my EVE resume alongside anyone else in EVE in terms of game knowledge and experience. I have been an avid online gamer since the 1990′s and have seen the rise and fall of many a famous online franchise.
These items I wish to bring up are specific micro level changes that affect the macro game play, and I will describe the specific changes that I feel must be made to ensure the continued longevity and growth of EVE online as a game. In this letter I will make a number of “real world to EVE analogies.” While these are not always accurate, in these cases I feel the comparisons are accurate and help to describe the concepts.
I use the term “ISK Pooling” to describe “old money” in EVE. The only way to bring new money into EVE is at some point to shoot red crosses on your overview, be it mission running, running Incursions, or belt/plex ratting. All other ISK is passed from player to player. The level of ISK collected in this passing is called “pooling,” or and ISK “choke point.” These choke points have changed over the course of EVE history but the factor which remains consistent is that the process for controlling these ISK choke points is either passive or active.
The introduction of ‘moon goo” seven years ago set a course in EVE that parallels the real world’s global situation with oil. Like oil, especially in the early days of unbridled capitalism in the late 19th and early 20th century here in the US, moon goo has allowed a relatively small number of individuals to accumulate and consolidate vast amounts of wealth into the control of a very select few.
It can be debated whether moon mining is active or passive on a macro level, but speaking strictly on a micro level, moon mining is purely passive. Moon harvesters run 24/7 with no human interaction. They produce the same amount day in and day out, only needing the various bins filled and emptied, which is accomplished in minutes by a POS monkey or alt character. It would be more appropriate to call this activity moon farming rather than moon mining, as mining denotes some sort of “physical” activity in game.
Moon goo, and more specifically in the current state of the game Technetium, is needed for all Tech 2 production in the game and as such it is the single greatest point of ISK pooling in the game. It is also driving the direction of conflict in the game today. Note that I said driving the direction of conflict, which is not to be confused with conflict driver. The ISK pooling from moon goo has created an imbalance that EVE has never seen to date. The organizations which have and control moons basically fund their efforts off of one single passive micro level action in the game. This then allows these organizations to tax the entirety of EVE to fund all their members and activities. Sov is not required. Indeed Sov costs money and man hours where as moon farming costs nothing other than POS fuel and the maintenance and upkeep of “the blob.”
Two years ago at Fanfest, I sat in the back of the auditorium with Mark, reminiscing over the glories of past fights and battles in EVE, and it occurred to me that every single one of these fights which were being shown on the screen were occurring at gates. Every single epic fight was pre-titan bridge.
The reason The Blob is so effective a weapon is the titan bridge. The Blob is currently the EVE version of the ICBM. It allows for force projection and a delivery of an epic level of force instantly on a scale that is so unbalanced as to be ludicrous. The entirety of an alliance’s forces can be committed instantly from anywhere within a minimum of (about) 8 light years. Add a few more titans and you can be anywhere in EVE within minutes.
Five hundred players undock from a station and fly to a POS to sit on a titan. They wait to be bridged to their destination. They wait till the cyno goes up, right click on their capacitor and once grid loads, they push F1. There is no need to navigate or mass forces in neighboring systems, no need to conduct logistics or even scout. Losses are meaningless to members of The Blob because losses are replaced by the tax on every T2 pilot in the game. Cake, free candy and free ships. No need to earn ISK in game or even learn to play, just get on the titan. All the action, content and emotional investment of a FPS with unlimited free respawns thanks to the vast pooling of wealth from Technetium.
The EVE version of the instant action button, aka the titan bridge, has destroyed eve’s greatest conflict driver, “movement.” The ability to dictate and control movement is a key concept of combat that reaches back to before Carl von Clausewitz and into 21st century warfighting. When EVE alliances have the ability to be anywhere, anytime, with all for their forces, it becomes impossible to effect any form of war fighting beyond the titan bridge hot drop. Gone is the race and fight to “get there first with the most.”
The ability to interact with EVE players across the EVE universe is what used to spur some of the most epic battles and fight in EVE. These fights would begin with minor scrimmages that would then lead to endless days of fighting over many systems within a region. These too would often lead to more than one major battle. This was alluded to in CCP’s “Butterfly Effect” trailer. This type of fighting hasn’t been seen in EVE for four years. The overwhelming majority of fights are all at the point of conflict, namely due to titan bridging. The ability to base out of one’s home region, move four to six titan jumps and be anywhere in EVE with an entire combat fleet with no effort has allowed leaders to become cat herders instead of combat leaders. The ability for a force to ignore all conflict driving elements in regards to logistics and movement prior to a fight, leads alliances to only focus on the point to point battles. This destroys the battlefield RTS experience that was part of EVE, which is a fun experience that EVE should be providing. The epic fights of EVE in the days of yore were ones where players would stay logged in for four to six hours, just trying to get to the front line, engaging in fights the whole way. Now, we wait for the jabber ping and then get on the titan. If we get blue balled, or if we decide to blue ball because our spy said they have 1500 on their titan(s) as opposed to our 1000, then we log off. No need to fly home, we’re already there. No need to go out and make ISK, daddy will by me a new “cat of the month fleet concept” ship. Everything these days seems to have devolved to timers and titan drops, when the game play should be invasions, fighting, and occupation.
Now, in addressing the“The Blob”, I am not picking on any one alliance. Many are “guilty” of this throughout the history of moon farming, simply now the “moon tax” in game is far more reaching than the past moon farming groups because the current moon goo setup has “one moon to rule them all” and while Technetium is geographically limited, it is not actually that rare a resource.
What is most sad is that a former CSM member and who arguably was/still is the de facto leader of the The Blob, warned CCP that moon farming was going to wreck the game and, in my opinion, has been 100% correct in his analysis. When this person was on the CSM he was very much anti moon goo, but being against something and not having the ability to change it, doesn’t mean didn’t play EVE and take advantage of the situation, the results of which are exactly what we are seeing in EVE today.
Moon farming vs Moon mining
Moon farming vs Moon mining
Now, at this time I am sure there are people who are saying “Well, go take their moons Black. Go fight them.” It is nearly impossible at this point, barring changes to the game. These changes can only be made by the Devs and CCP. Ideas that have been floated and implemented in the past are Alchemy and Ring Mining. The former is a band-aid serving to fix prices, the latter in my opinion is a Jesus feature pipe dream.
In terms of moon mining as opposed to moon farming I propose the following. Stop moon mining from being a passive POS based activity. Remove POS harvesters and make the Rorqual or a variation of it into a moon mining ship with a built in lab for reactions.
This would achieve multiple positive outcomes from this one change. First, it would put the collection of the best ISK pooling resource in the game back in the hands of those willing to actively play the game. It would also make a return to occupying and using space, defending and attacking not just for the sovereignty but the use and collection of resources in that space. This would put the current top tier resource back in the hands of actual miners and the groups of people willing to attack or defend those miners while they mine, extract, and transport these resources. This would piggy back nicely with upcoming POS changes that will allow us to build them anywhere in a system, thus opening the field for mining as opposed to farming. It could also eliminate rewriting potions of the spaghetti code that is the POS system as the entire moon mining portion could be scrapped in relation to POSes.
As this returns the gathering of resources to individuals, as opposed to alliance level control with only a few John D Rockefellers controlling vast amounts of wealth, it opens up innumerable sandbox opportunities for conflict, both combat and social/economic, that EVE is justifiably famous for. It makes for a bottom up pooling of ISK as opposed to the top down model that is currently seen.
A galaxy of over five thousand systems cannot be vast and epic if it is able to be crossed in minutes. A sandbox/butterfly effect combat experience cannot be made with an “instant action button.” Wars need to be about strategy, maneuver, and intelligence. What needs to be changed in the force projection paradigm within EVE to restore balance? The removal of the titan bridge, as it is the only force projection measure in the game which is destroying the EVE experience. You can’t have the 300 Spartans holding off the Persians at Thermopylae if there are no Hot Gates because the Persians can cyno into Athens. Note, I am not asking for the removal of the ability to build Strategic Jump Bridge Networks or Jump Freighters, Supercarriers/Titans/Cap Ships to jump a cyno at all in this, only for the removal of the titan bridge. I have zero issue with jump bridges as they are now in the present game and feel that the current implementation of jump bridges is beneficial for the health of the game when coupled with there removal of the titan bridge. The ability to bridge thousands of people to a single point of conflict all at once denies all EVE players from so much of the player generated content, which is what makes EVE what it is. Having to navigate through, to utilize the environment and the EVE universe, is and always will be the greatest conflict driver. Until this is restored EVE will continue to grow more and more shallow. The game I love will continue it’s slow degradation before it’s final death spiral and then one day this great game which I have enjoyed for nearly a decade will be no more.
There has been a lot of talk in the EVE community on “How do we get back to creating the kind of fights and environment we enjoyed in the past.” I remember sitting in the back of that auditorium at Fanfest with Mark, watching those EVE movies and doing the “do you remember when,” and having a really great discussion about EVE history. As I later reflected on that conversation, one thing became very apparent when I began to sit down and write out my thoughts.
All content would work in EVE if we could restore the travel of conventional ships back to the gates. With moons and actual mining of them (as opposed to the farming of the moons), as conflict drivers, living in 0.0 would be a necessity. Regional locations would matter, stations would be worth fighting over, especially if we could blow them up! The SBU/TCU Sov system would work, TiDi would happen less and the fear of the Blob would lessen. Capital ships and supers would be used more sparingly and would be exposed to the chance of loss more. Super Cap production would slow due to CSAA’s being killed due to lack of defense and epic fights would be restored to the game. The “shape of space,” the terrain of the EVE galaxy if you will would matter because the player base would have to go back to playing EVE as it was intended, gate to gate.
I know as older players it is hard for us to remember these golden years, and we enjoy the easy life we worked hard for as EVE players but believe me, all the Jesus features and game mechanic changes will not matter to us or new players unless we give them the EVE we grew up with. I know we can’t turn back the clock and take it all back. I’m not asking for a return of learning skills or no more warp to zero but we can get back to an EVE that required strategy, movement and planning.
I know returning EVE to the gates will make holes in certain classes of ships (titan) but allowing Supers to dock may lessen the pain for the titan pilots affected. It would also allow those high SP characters to get out of their iron coffins and do other things in New Eden. Other changes to titans to make them a war ship to be used, as opposed to a mobile bridging platform to be held in a POS, might also ameliorate the pain of the bridge loss.
Removal of the titan bridge will also force us vets to be in game and lead our alliances into battle, sustain defenses and make offensive operations beyond a jabber ping and the predictability of timer fights but if you look deep inside, isn’t that what we really want? The old saying “you can’t be everywhere at once would be restored and people would begging to travel and dream about how they would like to build their EVE empire and fight for their corner of the sandbox.
This, coupled with the comparatively simple change to moon mining I have proposed, as opposed to a Jesus feature Ring Mining that quite honestly I don’t think CCP has the resources for, would go a long way towards bringing back the EVE we love.
I thank you for reading this long letter and I hope that personal bias in how we currently play the game doesn’t affect our judgment in what needs to be fixed. With these I also hope that we can help CCP retain existing players and attract EVE’s most precious resource, new players.
DNSBLACK, Dirt Nap Squad