CCP recently announced a lot of juicy details about the upcoming changes to moon mining, that were hinted at at the last fanfest, and you can read those here. I have written a lot about my hopes for this changes, from AFK to active gathering of the materials gleaned from moons in New Eden. I really feel like it’s not a stretch to say that a move like this is exactly what the game needs to revamp and revitalize it. I would like to discuss some of my reasoning for that and my hopes for the immediate future.

What are you even talking about?

Moon mining is the extraction of materials from a moon, referred to as moon goo, through the use of a POS (Player Owned Starbase) and in conjunction with a Silo and Moon Harvesting Array. Moon materials are the basis of production for tech 2 composites, and are produced through a process referred to as ‘Reactions’, of which there are both simple and complex. At this time, it is not possible to mine materials from moons with a ship, only through using this process. You can only mine moons in areas of space 0.3 space and below, moons in Highsec aren’t available for this mechanic. At this time, moons in wormhole space do not contain any materials.

Not all moons are created equal, many do not have the resources to be super profitable, different moons produce different resources, and you need to perform scans of the moon to identify what resources if produces. Only one mining operation can be set up per moon.

The mechanic was released in the early days of Eve, in 2004, and has not changed since then despite sweeping changes to structures. The interface is clunky and it is easy to make mistakes. CCP has long warned that the days of the POS are numbered, and this is a huge step towards that.

So what’s the problem?

Well, there’s a few things:

Firstly, you can run the whole operation with a freighter alt. The current mechanic is made to AFK and passively make ISK, which is unhealthy for the game in any sense. After the trouble of setting up the mining operation, all you really need to do is refuel your POS and pick up your loot from time to time. You realistically are looking at 15 minutes of very low risk work a week to keep the ball rolling. There is no risk or reward in the system, and there is no content generated by the process, other than fights over the moons themselves which can be brutal. Like anything in Eve you get out what you put in, but any return is still free easy ISK.

Secondly, there’s the problem of who owns the moons. Most of the large bloc alliances are fueled by this moon goo, and wouldn’t function on anywhere the same level without it. Groups like PL, Goons, Snuff, SC, and NC gather up most of the resources here. None of the good moons are controlled by the little guys. Some moons are extremely profitable,¬†but even the less desirable moons might are still effective. The combined wealth of owning dozens or even hundreds of these moons makes these groups unassailable. They can provide ship replacement for their members, pay for the accounts of their leadership, and build up masses of materials and fleets of ships over time. Due to moon mechanics, the rich in Eve get richer and more bloated with no risk, and there is nothing the small fry can do about it.

Most of these groups did not have to fight over these moons as they were handed down by the old guard. Alliances like Band of Brothers who fought great and bloody wars over these resources long ago. In Nullsec, as powers shift and grab new territory POSes are still often ground zero for battles and skirmishes. In Lowsec, these moons are long since claimed by giant Alliances, most of which live nowhere near the area they claim to hold. Nullsec Alliances own most of the moons in Lowsec and because they can mostly AFK their many moon mining operations. They can hold these resources without committing any presence to the area beyond a Deep-Space Transport vessel.

In addition to these issues, there is no money in Lowsec, and no real reason to live there. It is true that you can get crazy Loyalty Point tics in Factional Warfare under the right circumstances, but this is not for everyone and it is no way to maintain the monetary flow of an organization. Vast tracks of the game sit useless and uninhabited, with nothing but promise and potential undocked in space.

How is that a problem? Lowsec is boring and useless.

If you follow what the game lays out as natural progression through New Eden (Highsec to Lowsec to Nullsec) you seem to be encouraged to learn to fight in Lowsec more as an individual or with a small gang. It is the place where the game encourages you to learn the fundamentals of combat, to learn to make content for yourself, and where you can learn things on a smaller scale with a little more of a safety net. Players in lowsec can be attacked anywhere aside from Stations, or Stargates, but this little bit of safety, in traveling, allows new players a way to progress into these unsafe zones and thrusts them into the real universe of New Eden. Any site you are running, or any activity you are involved, in is fair game for anyone else to take from you and it is on you to stop them. On paper, this seems like a great way to encourage voluntary or involuntary PVP, Piracy, and to also justify having a larger reward for doing whatever it is you do for ISK in New Eden. In practice, there is nothing to drive conflict in most of the space out here but that was not always the case.

Before, everything in Lowsec was not as settled and static as it is now; giant battles happened here. Before changes to jump ranges and sovereignty made our universe so much larger, some of the most explosive incidents began here. Alliances and Coalitions carry grudges and bad blood still from those days, over a decade ago. When there was a reason to fight here, we certainly did. Moons were the main driver of that period of content, and because content happened people actually cared enough to live here.

It is seen through special events, such as Crimson Harvest, that giving players points in space, to interact with, is enough to drive a significant amount of content in areas where there was none before. Until now, the game didn’t give you any reason to get together like this under normal circumstances in Lowsec outside of factional warfare. CCP’s changes to moon mining will bring that spirit back to Lowsec, but this time smaller groups will have a chance at the fun. Those Nullsec alliances are not coming for these moons after the changes. Aside from having to scout them all out again they would actually have to live here, and in enough numbers to defend their assets. It’s just not going to happen like that. You will finally have a reason to inhabit this area of space and to build a castle here.

So how is this getting fixed?

Coming this Winter, CCP will release a new type of structure to replace the tired process of moon mining – Upwell Refineries. These new structures will be anchored onto moons with harvest-able minerals, and will rip giant chunks of moon into orbit with a giant drill where they will be blasted into mine-able asteroids. These minerals will have to be mined by manned ships, and with some luck it will give Lowsec just the aggregator it needs for content. The structure will not be used for defense, and miners will be far enough away from it that they will not be able to instantly dock up in the case of danger. They will be vulnerable, and with that vulnerability will come those that would prey on them. Piracy will return to Lowsec, outside of the factional warzones, and groups will plant their flag to stop them. The fights will be glorious. It’s a fundamental change that makes for a complete shift in the meta; a new paradigm in Lowsec. This type of change is exactly what the game needs right now.

These structures will do many other things as well, like logging who ninja mines its belts, (CCP pre-nerf mining log), housing ships, being bonused to refining and compressing ores, and reacting moon materials. This last perk is unique to this type of structure. They will do everything structures until this point have done as well like tethering, insurance, and housing offices. They will be able to fit the same modules as citadels and engineering complexes, and will come in small and medium sizes. There will be no XL refinery. They should be affordable to any group at less than a billion ISK.

That sounds okay, but save Eve Online? Drama much?

The best part of this whole patch, in my opinion, is that with this release, CCP is creating a plethera of new ores and minerals, and re-rolling the stats for every moon in the game. They are creating the closest thing to “The Great Reset” that we will ever see in Eve. The fallout from this will affect literally every corner of New Eden. Groups that have traditionally raked in huge fortunes with moons handed to them from even older money will have to start from scratch, learn to mine, and get out and occupy space if they want to keep that ISK spigot flowing. Nullsec is not coming for Lowsec moons, and this gives anyone the opportunity to step into that. If Eve players have any ambition to really play the game left, then Lowsec is about to be the most interesting and dynamic area of New Eden.

Upwell refineries represent what we can only hope to be the future the game needs. As Eve players will always try their best to do the least amount of work for the most reward, changes like this keep us actively playing and engaged while giving rise to opportunities for others to step into that and try to knock down what we build. It makes space more messy and dangerous and puts players into places where there were none before. It makes Eve less safe, more unforgiving, and just, all around, scary and tense. Exactly the qualities we find dear in the game in the first place. The more danger and intrigue CCP can inject into the gathering of resources the better. Make us take a risk and we will feel better about the reward, more like earning something rather than just farming it mindlessly.

It seems like while some parts of the game have been dumbed down and made easier or more user friendly over the last couple of years. Eve of old was always a game where sometimes you would just get dunked on for no reason, and nothing in particular you could have done would have prevented that. Eve is hard and its¬†intricacies and nuances make it the powerhouse of a game that it is. I have to be careful what I wish for, but I hope for more changes like this in the next age of Eve. We have seen advancements to NPC behavior in the past year that if expanded could make New Eden very dangerous indeed. It could give us that really good “risk vs. reward” system that we crave from our hobby. The Blood Raider Sotiyo AI, NPC mining operations and response fleets, and just an overall push to bring our tired old system, of blowing up red circles for space money, something that actually engages us into the game we are playing. Like every other part of Eve, use our brains and be good, or be dead and bad.

 

Okay, sold. Any conclusions?

We are looking at the dawn of a new era in Eve Online. With the revitalization of Lowsec, the move away from AFK moon mining, and the giant shakeup in the flow of money to the old groups that have dominated New Eden for over a decade, we are very well looking at what could be a new beginning for the game we all love. If our Devs keep up this attitude of making New Eden a scary and tense place, and continue to develop more engaging ways of gathering the resources we need to keep the Universe going, then Eve will continue to keep us engaged, dreaming, and fighting for our place in it. I am looking forward to a bustling Lowsec and the new possibilities it will bring.


I have played Eve online since 2014, and while I have done everything from being a Lowsec pirate, to a factional warfare hero, to a Nullsec F1 monkey, I am mostly a solo player trying to make connections though combat and emergent gameplay. I am currently trying to figure out how to live in wormhole space. If you have a story to tell, I want to help you tell it! I write from time to time in my personal blog Honorbro if you would like to read more. – Ishtar Komarovo