The Enemy of My Enemy

This post has been in draft for nearly a year. For a long time, the ties were a bit too loose for me to draw any conclusions. In some ways, they still are. But recently, some things have begun to break loose in news events and announcements in the run-up to Rhea. So it’s time to fold the tinfoil hats (again). Come take another ride with me.

This week a news report on CONCORD activity announced that key research and CONCORD agencies are teaming up with the Jove-connected Society of Conscious Thought and noted exploration experts The Sanctuary to “discuss changes in Sleeper activity”. At first look, it would appear that this is nothing more than a space-UN meeting with key science leaders.

But it is much more than that.

Voluntary Scrutiny

First, let’s look back at what inspired my original draft. Imagine yourself car shopping. You badly want a Tesla Model S. It’s electric! It’s green! It’s sporty! And to top it off it’s fast and has great cachet, cool features and awesome tech! Sadly, you do not have the $70,000-$95,000 to afford this fancy transport. Then along comes the deal of a lifetime. You can get a Tesla, but this one is called the Model G. It’s exactly the same car, but in exchange for a $35,000 price tag, you agree that numerous additional sensors will be installed and all the car’s data will be reported to the sponsors, and that those sponsors want their logo prominently featured on your car. What would you do?

OK, now what would you do if those sponsors were the UN Security Council, the Department of Homeland Security (specifically NSA & CIA), Greenpeace, Google, Facebook, General Electric, Northrup Grumman and the American Psychological Association? Still interested?

Yet in EVE, you are doing exactly that - I warned a year ago of the sinister implications of the Sisters of EVE cruiser, the Stratios. The Sisters built it to be flown by capsuleers, especially in wormholes. Yet this ship is festooned with logos, practically space-NASCAR.

Stratios Logos

There are six corporations with their logos on this ship:

SOEThe Servant Sisters of EVE – A cluster-wide humanitarian organization specializing in search and rescue. Their primary mission recently has been rescuing general populations from the predations of capsuleers.

Propel DynamicsPropel Dynamics – Maker of the ring-shaped special warp drive of the SOE ships, presumably under independent contract since there is nothing else like it. Propel’s name appears numerous times in numerous places and clearly is an advertisement as much as a sponsorship.

CarthumCarthum Conglomerate – The primary Amarrian participant, likely the hull builder and provider of electronics keyed to energy weapons. While not mentioned in the meeting press release, it is clear that the Amarr are being the most cagey here, with the logo on the Stratios easy to miss if you don’t know what you’re looking for.

Chemal TechChemal Tech – The primary Gallente participant, likely builder of the sensors and drone control systems.

EifyrEifyr & Co. – The primary Minmatar participant, likely builder of the weapons control systems and turrets. Eifyr is also not on the participant list (so far) for the Inner Circle meeting, but we’ll discuss why more below.

Zero-GZero-G Research – The primary Caldari participant, likely builder of the containment and quarrantine units, life support and crew accommodations.

Let there be no mistake – the Sisters might be selling you this ship but their motive is not (purely) profit. They are in this for one primary purpose: the data. They are highly interested in what capsuleers do, and beyond that what can be learned from wormhole space and by watching direct capsuleer behavior. As a group without much in the way of liquid funds to build spaceships, they would have had to give the builders some advertising and a shot at some of that data too.

For a year, capsuleers, you have given them that data. And you have gained nothing from them while they learned, considered, and planned. And then they used a subset of that data to ask CONCORD to step in.

Escalation of Concern

And step in they did, along with several others. Here’s who the newcomers are.

CONCORDCONCORD is a pretty obvious play. CONCORD is all about control, and they don’t like it when people come and play with their toys. They are in effect the UN Peacekeepers of New Eden.

Inner CircleThe Inner Circle  of CONCORD is particularly touchy. They see themselves as the true “one cluster government”. As their corp description states: “The policies of CONCORD are discussed and decided at Inner Circle meetings, which are usually closed to the public. At first the members of the circle were nominated by the empires, but now they rise from the ranks of CONCORD employees. Thus, their loyalty is no longer bound to any one empire, but rather to CONCORD itself.”

DuvolleDuvolle Labs – As one might expect from the more democratic Gallente Federation, things are a bit harder to lock down. Duvolle is a much stronger player than Chemal, and over the course of the year anything might have prompted this switch. However, it’s not a total change-out. This is evidenced by the presence of…

CASCenter for Advanced Studies. This organization was born from and has direct ties to Chemal. It is likely that they are standing in for the Chemal team with a thin veneer of “neutrality” to better comfort the voters when all this comes out.

Science & TradeScience & Trade Institute. Another think tank like CAS, STI is its Caldari mirror. They likely represent a more broad-based State response to the call, not wanting to have Propel as the only player in such a highly-visible discussion. It also adds credence to the idea that this is meeting a research discussion.

There are two others, but we’ll come back to them in a moment. Again, what we see here is direct rivals working together, now ostensibly under the banner of direct interaction with the one organization that has any sway over all of them: CONCORD. Why would the Gallente and Caldari step things up, risking a reduction in the subtlety of their third-party collaboration with the Sisters of EVE? What is necessitating the need for this to be an Official discussion?

Strange Bedfellows

Churchill Quote

So let’s review. Around the SOE ships, especially the Stratios, was formed a research consortium. But not just any research consortium. The Sisters ships live at the intersection of Amarrian and Gallente skills. But that’s not all we see here. What we see is Eifyr, a quintessential warlike Minmatar group, collaborating with Carthum, an Ammarian group with ties to the Caldari State, neither of which have love for the Matari. Chemal Tech, a Gallente organization, cozy beside Caldari entities Zero-G and Propel.

In the dark world of New Eden, where conspiracy lurks around every corner and the rulers of the Empires have a hand in any major corporate affair, do you really believe that those listed on the Stratios hull are the entirety of those involved? No, if nothing else the rulers of the empires are all certainly well-informed on this. In fact, the likelihood is that these organizations, including Carthum, Chemal (and now Duvolle and CAS), Zero-G (and now STI) and Eifyr, are thinly-masked or “supervised by” official representatives for their particular empires in the data-gathering effort. And the SOE gets to run the show and have access to all four teams’ data … plus their own and Propel’s.

What could convince all these enemies to come together, secretly, and play nice in the sandbox with each other? The answer is, I believe, fairly obvious: A common threat. There are a handful of candidates for this. Let’s eliminate a few off the bat:

  1. Sansha Kuvakei. Incursions qualify as a broad threat, but why would CONCORD wait three years to call a meeting on this?
  2. Pirates (Angels, Guristas, Syndicate). While they were involved in the initation of Ghost Sites, they are not part of the traditional bailiwick of the Sisters of EVE. The fight against them has also gone top down from CONCORD, rather than bottom-up from other organizations.

That leaves two real candidates: The Sleepers, and Us. Sure, there is some discussion of Sleeper activity. But what we’ve seen so far in wormholes is pretty much par for the course. There is little to indicate that there is a real threat there, unless it comes via the capsuleer commuity. (NOTE: I’ve gotten some questions since the original post about the new Sleeper sites in k-space. I think these are tied more directly to the coming introduction of Thera and are definitely tied to what’s going on in this post, but in a path that will soon but has not yet collided with this thread - correlation rather than causation. I’m watching for new info on Hilen Tukoss or these sites since so far they’ve only really been announced out of character; there’s not much lore to go on. Yet. I expect that to change very soon.) [UPDATE 11/11: This correlation-not-causation hypothesis now appears to be confirmed based on the 11/11 devblog, which states: “The backstory of [the k-space sites] is that they’re storage sites created by Sleepers. The Sleepers have always been interested in collecting items of curiosity and have done so in secret throughout known space for years. But they haven’t always been able or willing to cart the items they collect back to their wormhole enclaves and have instead deposited them in storage sites. To keep their collections hidden from the prying eyes of enterprising pilots, the Sleepers used highly advanced cloaking technology to obscure the sites. Recently the cloaking mechanisms have started to malfunction and the sites are becoming visible. Why this is happening is unknown at the moment, but seems caused by heavy-handed scavenging by someone or something.”]

 

So if it’s about capsuleers, what catalyzed the discussion? There are many – this meeting has been coming for a long time. It probably began with old warnings (CONCORD’s fear of capsuleer interference in Ghost Sites) and proof of capsuleer caprice and malice (the Live Event slaughter of Rubicon). And everyone happily skipped along for months, until the empires requested help cornering the market on two types of Sleeper blue loot.

WARNING: OUT OF CHARACTER KNOWLEDGE AHEAD

So now let’s look at our last two participants in the discussion. Deep in the Chronicle archives is a series called Black Mountain. It is the story of two highly-trained paramilitary organizations. One is a group of religious crusaders, and the other a group of psychopathic, sadistic professional killers. They are on a collision course over a Jovian artifact called The Book of Emptiness, which can be used to brainwash mass audiences and alter their emotional and mental state. I’m not going to make you read all sixteen chapters, although it is a good read. But here is the upshot.

SanctuaryThe Sanctuary (who has their very own version of the Stratios, called the Emergency Responder) is a subgroup of the SOE. On the surface they are a scientific group, particularly focused on wormholes (they were directly involved in the events that triggered the isogen-5 explosion that created the shattered planets and opened the wormholes) and the EVE Gate. But when you start looking into it, the group has a far less palatable agenda. In Black Mountain, their representative, Nale, is the crusader. His overriding goal is to get the Book in order to use it to impose peace on the cluster by mental, rather than physical, force. He hits this realization in the chronicle Pushing Towards Bliss:

“Still,” Hona said, “You could do it differently. You don’t have to push people towards bliss. You can encourage them to seek it themselves.”

“I’m not going to stand there, like a mad prophet, constantly harping on other people to go after their true purpose in life. All I’m going to do is eliminate the roadblocks.”

Hona stepped in his way, and looked him straight in the eye. “Don’t do this, Nale. Don’t. If you even manage to regain the Book, you’ve no guarantee it’ll work like you think, and even if it does, you’ll be taking away people’s basic rights. You’ll be no better than the capsuleer who ruined our mining colony. And besides, how on earth will you achieve any change? What if the effect is only temporary?”

“Then we will use it on the right people first; the ones who determine the lives of others. Everyone at the top of the social stratus. Leaders, and dictators, and every capsuleer we can get to. After that, we will find ways of duplicating the Book, and we’ll start to spread its word to the masses.”

She goggled at him. “You’re talking about a revolution here. You’re going to be violating people’s basic rights on a fundamental scale.”

“The fundamental right of man is to be happy,” he said to her. “You’ll see. This is right. It’s the only thing that makes sense.”

Many people never find the behind-the-scenes chronicle called The Sanctuary. It pulls back the curtain on what these people are really thinking. And to them, you are (as I said on Twitter the other day) literally Hitler.

The Sisters have always been unified in love, but they are also increasingly becoming unified in hate. This is not as paradoxical as first might seem. Everything has its inverse, and if you truly and honestly devote yourself to a particular entity, whether it’s a physical object, a living thing or an abstract ideal, you will invariably find yourself at odds with that entity’s antithesis and enemies. The Sisters of EVE have devoted themselves to saving lives, helping the sick & wounded, and gently prodding humankind to sacred ascendancy; and what foils them at every turn, in greater measure than politics and weaponmaking and natural disaster, is a force that continues to grow: The capsuleers …

To the minds of many Sisters, and even of many others, the capsuleers have come to represent this malevolent nadir of humanity: They are powerful, and they use that power in the ways of the old gods, delivering it with fire and noise and blinding lights and leaving a wake of anguish, all in the name of whim and immediate desire. …

It is the Sanctuary who have taken their anti-capsuleer stance to the furthest and most dangerous point, and they are the one corporation within the entire Sisters of EVE faction that can now be said – carefully, for nothing they’ve done has been proven, and as the Sisters tread with care around us, so must we around them – be schisming from the rest.

SOCTThe Society of Conscious Thought is nearly the antithesis of the SOE, its darker mirror (and the creator of the Apotheosis shuttle and Gnosis battlecruiser, which likely are instrumented for k-space much like the SOE ships are for w-space). SOCT is a societally-based education institution built on Jove principles, and with suspected ties to the Sansha. They are effectively amoral, and for them, the ends always justify the means. It is their team that is comprised entirely of pyschopathic professional killers. In Black Mountain, their goal is to destroy the Book, because they do not want it in anyone else’s hands, and they want to ensure that expansion of knowledge, first and foremost, continues. The Book is a threat to conscious thought. However they too are on the outlook for power plays to give them the ability to further their agenda, as outlined in the Hyperconsciousness chronicle.

The addition of SOCT to this group is the canary in the coal mine. Their amoral approach would normally make the empires, and especially the Sisters, keep them at arms’ length. That they are invited speaks volumes.

The core groups are running scared. And the ones who will be leading the discussion want you controlled – and the sooner the better.

The Trigger

And then, capsuleer Guillome Renard stepped into the spotlight and attempted to wrest away the loot for use without empire interference. This is something the empires would have seen as untenable – a direct threat, and one that very nearly succeeded in embarrassing one or more empires. It is not coincidence that it was immediately followed by a price increase on those same two types, to ensure that their supply does not dry up.

And mere days later, the return of a long-lost fly in the ointment (Hilen Tukoss, founder of Arek’Jaalan and irritant to the Caldari State). Eifyr’s welcome and support for him is likely what left them off the conclave invitation.

A second message to capsuleers attempting to resurrect Arek’Jaalan and outlining a request from Tukoss for Jovian body parts, however, is what finally pushed them over the edge. The empires now must believe there is no more time to waste. That, I would wager, is where the SOCT comes in. As the last remaining known connection to anything Jovian, the Society’s knowledge of their biology and psychology is the missing piece to determine what Tukoss is up to, and what capsuleers like Guillome will do when they link up.

These are the conspirators racing us to Thera. The Jovian parts have been handed off, and we await the ignition of the fuse.

The empires are losing their grasp on power. And as our age begins to dawn, they will learn to fear us.

Posted in Lore, Speculation | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

146 Minutes

CSM 9

I will apologize in advance that this post is going to be very long and literally stream-of-consciousness. I have included a TLDR section at the top for people who may not want to go through it exhaustively, but have left the complete rambling intact below for CSM watchers, members, and maybe the occasional random dev.

First, my congratulations to CCP and CSM 9 for getting these out two days early (unheard of!). You can get the CSM 9 summer minutes for yourself if you want to read the whole thing.

TLDR Key Takeaways

  • The minutes can be done on time. Sorry CCP Leeloo and CSM 10, now it’s an expectation.
  • Sugar and Mike were the stars of the minutes from my perspective, not that this should shock anyone. I was very pleasantly surprised by Sion’s contributions and how evenhanded they were – his campaign suggested someone very different. Corbexx (with some help from the just-minted Asayanami Dei) did an admirable job of representing the wormhole population in all the right spots. All the attendees were a positive force once again this year.
  • The minutes suggest that wormhole space didn’t change much (positive or negative) due to the changes in Hyperion. So it’s still a failure, just not a catastrophic one.
  • Suggestions for the Dev & CSM Teams:
    • General
      • New players need acceptable semi-passive income sources (salvaging, PI and datacores used to fill this slot)
      • Redeem in space? Yes please!
      • Would buy headgear. Especially the old Minmatar breathing mask.
      • You desperately need more trailers. Only two in the last year, if you count The Prophecy.
      • I am not a fan of a boosting destroyer. We have too much boosting in EVE already.
      • I love Sugar & Funky’s desire for Lowsec as a mobile area of space. Couldn’t agree more.
      • CCP Fozzie says “AFK cloaking is an entirely social form of power. To me, it is the equivalent of posting on the forums until someone stops ratting.” Yes yes yes!
      • When working on the removal of intra-corp aggression, please consult with EVE University as well. They use this extensively for common good with new players.
      • The briefly discussed idea of a stock market would be amazing.
    • CCP Affinity
      • When Papparazzi is ready, please make the key NPC characters distinct and similar to the Chronicle art.
      • I love your 20% project on updating things.
      • I hate standings. I truly hate them.
    • CCP Fozzie - Please respond to the Hyperion jump thread. Even if it’s to say “we don’t care any more”. Publishing the findings and graphs referred to in the minutes would be even better. But don’t keep hiding from it, it’s not your style.
    • CCP Greyscale
      • Reducing the volume of capital usage in C5/C6 wormholes is a bad idea. Please stop that. It’s perfect as is – very limited, but also very usable.
      • Take a look at the POS section below. Specifically:
        • Making them “home base” is great, right on.
        • Moving them off moons in wormholes is bad, it will be a net reduction in content both offensively and defensively.
        • For the love of god, please do not let people dock and disappear from space in a POS. DO NOT BRING DOCKING GAMES TO W-SPACE. It is an aggravation builder and a content killer.
    • CCP Nullarbor – Scoopable POS – yes please!
    • CCP Priya – We desperately need functional mobile EVE Gate EVEmail. It is truly horrific now. My #1 need on EVE Gate.
    • CCP Recurve – Please get on Twitter and deliver us glorious graph porn. Please.

The Stream of Consciousness

  • I’m sad I won’t be able to mock Xander. Well played.
  • 146 pages, holy crap (thus the title of this post).
  • Third party development … not my thing. If that’s your thing, go read it.
  • Content tools … now we’re talking.
    • p8: There is discussion of a tool called Papparazzi. It is the image renderer that makes player models, but apparently they can’t take NPCs through it so the NPCs are all manually inserted into the database! This is interesting to me because I have long been disappointed that some of the key principle lore characters are either nondescript, hilariously bad (like a throwaway character) or nothing like the Chronicle art. I put out a question to CCP Affinity on Twitter regarding whether these will be altered when things are fixed.
    • p9: “Sugar Kyle- There’s also issues with Midular being referenced as alive in a few missions, when she got shot in the face and is now dead.” I love the way Sugar stated that. I LOL’d.
    • p10: “CCP Affinity – I started a 20% project to update the chronicles and add content relevant to the game that reflects them after the Children of Light stuff on Reddit. I will start with 2003 chronicles and work my way to present day, creating in game content that fits with the chronicles.” This is awesome.
    • p11: “CCP Affinity – I’d love to remove standings, if I had my way, but a lot of our systems are tied into them. Sugar Kyle- People do not seem to want to remove standings. Talking to them it seems that they want them to make more sense, be rebalanced. Mynnna – Have more ways to get them … We need Tags4Sec for standings.” Now that sec status has been addressed with tags, Standings are my new least favorite PVE mechanic. I’m with Affinity on this one, and could live with a tags mechanic. But give me a way to do it without the horror of an endless PVE grind. Or split standings for interesting choices – I don’t care about some items, but I’d love to earn standings in a simpler way for, as an example, just lower taxes in Jita. I also hate the idea put forward in this section about standings decay. OK, let’s go back to CCP Affinity’s idea – toss ‘em out and start over. IMO it’s a crappy mechanic.
  • Web Team
    • p18: Dear CCP Priya: The CSM is being polite. EVE Gate email is cover-your-eyes terrible.
    • p20: “Sugar Kyle- The draft disappearing thing is really bad, and needs to be fixed. The session timer is bad in that it eats your posts if you don’t know to hit the draft link.” Yes, more terrible.
    • I am hopeful that with the recent announcements from the web team that a roadmap to fix some of the Gate and Forum issues is underway.
  • Ship & Module Rebalancing – Most of this has been covered in dev blogs, so not much new news here.
    • p24: “Sugar Kyle- … salvaging? This profession has been nerfed expansion after expansion.” I have for a long time stated in various forums that CCP continues to damage good ISK (outside faction war) sources for newer players. Salvaging, PI, data cores and hauling were how I earned my living for the first year. I would like to see more casual (i.e. low time commitment) moderate-income sources come back.
  • Player Experience – Most of this was covered by CCP Rise at EVE Vegas, not much to comment on here either.
  • Roadmap - p34: “The contents of the roadmap are under NDA” Awwwwww. But hey, bolognese sauce recipe on page 35!
  • Economy Overview
    • p36: CCP Recurve took over for Dr. Eyjo. He Recurve needs to tweet more.
    • p37: “Mynnna – Do you have graphs or numbers on total asset value? CCP Recurve – We had a process that automatically calculated. But, the servers reboot before it can
      compile.” This surprised me. If they’re not already doing things to treat EVE as “Big Data” it might be worth considering. I would think this analysis would make EVE much easier to maintain and alter. My new RL job deals heavily in the big data field and I’m amazed at what I’m learning about Hadoop. I tweeted CCP Manifest wondering if CCP is exploring this kind of data analaysis capability.
    • p37: There is mention of some interesting graphs, and nuggets like this gem: “CCP Recurve – The top 20% own 89% of the ISK. It is more unbalanced on Serenity.” Falcon apparently wanted the graphs included but it didn’t happen. Hopefully we’ll see them some day.
  • Monetization (NEX & PLEX)
    • p40: “Items are being trickled onto the NES, without notice to players, to try and smooth out the spikes, and investigate how word of mouth spreads. New race specific, but not race locked, clothing going into the store. “
    • p40: “90% of people who are using PLEX gifting are using it for their alts.”
    • p40: There is some discussion of reclamation of old character names from long-dead accounts and accounts that were never activated beyond trial. I strongly support this. I’d extend that to corps as well – one-man corps of long-dormant (5+years?) characters should go back up for grabs, and give the original holder some kind of token to rename it if they ever come back.
    • p41: “Redeem in space. Which should make wormhole people happier.” Speaking as a wormhole person, I want anything dropped to my redemption system to either appear in my current ship’s hold or my POS SMA/CHA. That would be awesome. Today I redeem everything to my Jita alt and contract it to my main, since I know I’ll eventually get back to Jita. It’s a pain in the ass.
    • p41: “CSM Note: Hats were brought up in the Art session. Please don’t murder us.” I think this is great. Lore-appropriate would be good, but let’s call it “headgear”. The simple fact is that EVE characters are essentially just a head, neck, and pair of shoulders. head-mounted stuff and looks would go big. I want my head to look like this.
  • Sales & Marketing
    • p42: “CCP Isabella (VP Sales) discusses some of the recent issues she has experienced” Understatement much?
    • p43: “Both CCP’s Falcon and CCP Dhalgren confirmed that there is still a cinematic
      team working on making trailers for Marketing to use to promote the game” OK, soon please? The last release trailer, according to the CCP EVE Trailers YouTube page, was Rubicon, 11/14/13. That’s almost a year ago. Yes, they did The Prophecy at Fanfest 6 months ago (and that one kicked ass). But still, moar nao pls.
    • p44: “At this point Corbexx asked if it would be possible to give more people access to Jessica – CCP’s engine for making cinematics and used in the likes of Clear Skies 3. CCP Falcon and CCP Dhalgren confirmed that this is something they will look into further as the potential benefits could be huge.” This would be amazing. Please do this, CCP.
  • Low Sec
    • p48: More discussion on standings. Did I mention I am not a fan?
    • p49: “CCP Fozzie - Wormhole mining has been down.” We’re out looking for content and spending our time slowboating back while hole rolling. No time to mine, Dr. Jones.
    • p49: “CCP Greyscale – Would a smaller faster gang boosting ship be good?” No. Reduction or elimination of ship-based (vs. system-based) boost mechanics would be good. “CCP Fozzie – We’ll look at [eventually] releasing a destroyer that gang boosts. We’re very much looking to do this though.” Sigh.
    • p53: If you’re a Low Sec resident, it’s worth your time to read this page. In short, CCP Greyscale and CCP Masterplan talk with Sugar and Funky about movement vs. stationary play. I hope that these two take that to heart and build Low Sec content around roams more than system defense going forward.
  • Null Sec – As someone who doesn’t play in null except to gank bears, I’m going to skip commenting on this section, but if you are a sov null player I highly recommend reading it. There is some very interesting and extensive discussion on occupancy-based and freeform sov mechanics, as well as a bit on AFK cloaking (I love Fozzie’s comment: “AFK cloaking is an entirely social form of power. To me, it is the equivalent of posting on the forums until someone stops ratting.”).
  • Team Five-O – Items in this session were largely covered on devblogs about ship skins, the overlay changes and new burner missions. One item: “Corbexx asked what’s going on with the wormhole population. CCP Fozzie said they’ve been watching it
    and will continue to do so, but that numbers are pretty balanced in terms of who’s leaving, who’s arriving, and that kills are pretty stable. The big difference is just that the people leaving are noisier.” Where are those graphs and numbers Asay tweeted about, Fozzie?
  • Corps & Alliances
    • p78 – “Intra-corp aggression”. This has caused a bit of consternation on #tweetfleet along with some posting. Long story short, corp members will no longer be able to shoot each other in highsec without invoking CONCORD response. James315 (with a rare short-winded, coherent post), Gevlon Goblin and CSM Member FunkyBacon all have some interesting thoughts. My take? Someone needs to ask Asmodeus Valar, CEO of EVE University, what he thinks of it. As Ali Aras mentions in the notes, “”. We used this mechanic extensively when I was in E-UNI for training. The duel mechanic is clunky and I think it would be a poor substitute. I also agree with those who say that AWOXing is a small enough problem that it’s not worthy of throwing out the proverbial baby with the bathwater.
    • p88 – Using corporate shares in a future stock market idea. This would be so amazingly awesome I can barely express it. It will be very hard for them to build (Fozzie is very clear to say this isn’t currently in plan) but wow could this be a literal game-changer for EVE. A whole new way to play the market.
    • p89 – Corporate paychecks functionality idea. We would use this in SSC, I suspect. Today we in essence do this already, but using the simple “transfer cash” approach.
  • Team TriLambda – Most of this has already been rolled out in dev blogs, so I’m not going to spend much time on this. The section is interesting if you want to get a deeper understanding of how the art team defines their role and things they’re interested in. Asayanami Dei was clearly enjoying this one (as befits his role as video guy). Key quote: “Xander specifically requested space fedoras.” Nuff said.
  • Alliance Logos, p95 – This is a section well worth reading for anyone with a legal bent or an opinion on whether they own their logo or CCP does. CCP Falcon does a great job of explaining the conundrum here. He also lays out the single best legalese summary I’ve heard of what players would like to see: “So players take a view of this that they own a logo and give game companies a perpetual right to use their logo.” But that’s something CCP say they can’t abide because it creates a lawsuit risk from anywhere else the logo gets used. He suggests incorporating a specific EVE-owned logo into the alliance’s “base logo” to make it obvious that this one is part of EVE. Then CCP owns the EVE-specific one, but the alliance/players still own the base logo, which I think is a great compromise. The CSM highlights how annoyed people will be, but I personally don’t think there’s a better way to do it, and everyone will be happier for it afterward. As Mynnna puts it: “just making it clear that that has to be done if people want to have logos on their ships, people will be butthurt but they’ll get over it.”
  • Team Security – This section is so heavily censored there’s not much to read there. What’s left is mostly waffling about ISBoxer.
  • Whitepaper Review – A brief session about the CSM white paper, primarily focused on how to boost turnout (which was horrible) for the CSM X election. I hope some of this happens but I am not holding my breath.
  • Industry Recap – I can’t manufacture my way out of a wet paper sack, so if you’re into industry and thoughts on Crius, I recommend you go read this section for yourself. It starts on page 106. I’ll just comment on one item from p108: CCP Greyscale says, “CCP Greyscale – But if [capitals in wormholes] decreased, would that be a good thing?” No, Greyscale, it wouldn’t. Cap kills are the adrenaline buzz that fuels Class 5 and Class 6 wormhole combat. This is another “don’t fix what ain’t broken“. Go live in a wormhole for a year, please.
  • Starbases
    • p111 – So first off, let me commend Corbexx, Sugar and Sion for tackling the “needs” on this one. I didn’t contribute a lot to Corbexx’ investigation other than sending people to talk with him because frankly, I’m a renter in the POS world. I pay someone else for fuel so I can live in their POS. I have gunning skills but have never set one up or configured it. For me, POS fulfill two roles: 1) As a home, 2) As a mechanic to find content. So for me, a POS needs to be…
      1. A safe place to store stuff and ships, with ease of access and organization … and a coffin for those items if I can’t get them out fast enough in a siege.
      2. A safe place to sit and idle … but not hidden away where no one can see me, instead I have to think to make sure I’m sitting in what I want visible to the world while I’m there.
    • p112 – CCP Greyscale: “A strong sense of home. We want it to be super customizable for your needs – home is where you log off, and we want you to be logging off at these and basing from them.” Yes, this.
    • p113 – CCP Greyscale: “We want to move pos off moons” I know this sounds good in theory. But in wormholes at least under current scan/dscan mechanics it’s a damn terrible idea. Here’s why.
      • For small gang action, when you’re going through a system without Local looking for content, the idea is this: Find the People! That will usually be at a POS, in a site, or on a wormhole. You can get scouts and recon without being detected on holes and at POS. Only for site runners do you need to break cover. This is part of the cat-and-mouse hunting game that makes wormholes their own unique space. If we have to probe down a POS, it kills the ability to gather intel in a stealthy manner, and I strongly believe that wormholers value that ability. Tying a POS to a moon (or a similar no-scan-needed warpable object) is what makes that happen.
      • At the fleet combat end of the scale, as Corbexx points out, “people in wormhole space used POS on moons as a form of defense and removing this would make it easier to invade people. ” This is what we call “Full Moon Coverage” – in short, if the enemy can’t put up their own tower anywhere, sieging you out becomes much harder.
    • p114 – CCP Greyscale: “Wanted to remove force fields …  there was some functionality with the forcefield that would be hard to replicate … cloaks and things could be possible on the POS”. See “cat and mouse” above. In a wormhole, you hunt for things and watch things happening in POS. This is much less useful when looking at a k-space station. Please, for the love of god, do not allow people to dock at a POS and “disappear” in wormholes. We need to be out there for all to see, but behind some protective capability like a force field (or a similar mechanic). But visibility within the protected space is a content driver.
    • p115 – CCP Nullarbor: “any offline POS should just be scoopable” Make it so! I’d actually say it should be unanchorable by someone with the Anchoring skill, but I can live with scoopable.
  • Veteran Player Retention – Some good discussion here, but not a lot that’s concrete to comment on. I’ll pick a couple.
    • p119 – Both Asayanami Dei and Sugar Kyle point out a desire for “new space”. I’m going to assume that means new systems. I am skeptical, however, that people have thought through the implications of that. To me, the first thing I think of when I hear “new space” is “fewer people per system“. I honestly would rather see some of the space eliminated, and what there is diversified by various mechanics. Get rid of underused systems and open new regions with differing mechanics to offer a wider array of experiences.
    • p120 – I’m just going to leave this here because it feels like a mission statement. And a good one. CCP Seagull: “We, internally, have become scared in a sense of making
      bolder changes to the game so that we know we can control the outcome. Because we do not want to be perceived as messing up again. We can predict what is going on. That predictability is boring everyone to death now. We need to challenge and move forward with solid plans owned by teams that are building the vision in their hands. We need to turn up the volume.”
  • General Game Design – The most interesting piece for me in this section, which was a bit of a grab bag CSM Q&A section, was this: p125 – CCP Fozzie on wormholes post-Hyperion. “CCP Fozzie Started off the meeting showing various graphs from W-space including, jumps, player deaths, volume of ore mined and npc kills. Jumps had remained steady. Player deaths stayed the same although more spikey. Volume mined was down. Npc kills was down although coming back up. following a similar patern to when interceptors got bubble immunity in nullsec. Capital was spikey although was on a downward trend. Pos in W-space were down 1% before the patch and another 1% after the patch although were starting to rise, although it was still early to see any real trend. Wormhole residency followed a very similar trend to Pos’s” So … long story short they didn’t see enough impact to conclude that the changes were bad. I’ll turn that around a bit and say – it doesn’t show anything good, either. I will say that Fozzie’s description closely matches how I’d describe what I’m seeing in the cap kills space. More on this in a future post.
  • Team Banana Stand – This is a heavily mission-focused section. I don’t mission. It’s almost as bad as mining to my tastes. There is also a bit of market chatter. I’m terrible at both, so if you’re interested in these items I’ll just refer you to read this section on your own.
  • Organized Play – This section largely discusses the Alliance Tournament and spends a lot of time on CCP Veritas’ “dojo” prototype. I’ve written most of what I have to say on the subject of tournaments here and here. I tweeted these to Gargant again tonight.
  • Community Team – This section is largely about how the GM team works and the process for filing the CSM minutes. The most important piece in my opinion: “We are trying to get a greater turn up for the CSM voting.” Yes please.
Posted in CSM, CSM 9 | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments

Revenant

Hilen Tukoss

So in case you missed it, Hilen Tukoss himself has returned after disappearing nearly three years ago.

This is probably due to a lot of things. CCP probably had some old notes that needed a reboot. It might have been inspired by a post or two of mine. It may have been nudged hard by a restart of the Arek’Jaalan charter on the IGS forum. Guillome Renard’s stunt on the recent contest probably added to it. In my mind, as I said on Hydrostatic Podcast, the natural place for the “new gate” components is wormhole space. It may simply have been time based on CCP Seagull’s timeline to get those new gates ready for prime time.

Whatever finally prompted it, he’s back from the (presumed) dead, to much shock and rejoicing of lore nuts everywhere, myself included. I’m not really prepared at this point to comment, since I suspect a lot will need to be played out further.

What I know is that CCP has a much smaller resource base this time and they have disclaimed more than once that they will not be supportive of a full-blown revitalization of Arek’Jaalan. So I unfortunately need to give the obligatory disclaimer: Expect something simple.

My hope is that he will be a vehicle for beginning to introduce the new tech toward the gates, and if we’re lucky, will actually reply to many of the outstanding submissions, including Tesseract and Catapult, which are near and dear to my heart. We may even get the full story of the fate of Lianda Burreau. I’m also pleased he’s already advertising Site One as the place where new materials will be gathered – this may cause some player pilgrimages (content!).

While I’d like those things, that wouldn’t have necessarily fit CCP Dropbear’s vision (he was very clearly not interested in applied science, but I always intended to bastardize whatever I researched toward an applied end personally), but maybe it will the new regime. Dropbear also was always focused on things like interactions and biology (which does in fact match the list of body parts Tukoss is asking about) – while most of the actual research projects were much more about physics and history.

My hat is off one way or the other to CCP (my assumption would be CCP Falcon) for having the stones to resurrect such an iconic and controversial character.

While we wait for the story to develop, here is some recommended Hilen Tukoss background reading:

Posted in Lore, Speculation | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

A Freighter-Load of Wormhole Lore

Hydrostatic Podcast Episode 12

Hydrostatic Podcast Episode 12

I was invited to appear on Hydrostatic Podcast Episode 12 to discuss They’re Lying to You and The Arek’Jaalan Initiative.

It was a fun discussion; Phyridean, Lockefox and Ashterothi are great hosts. They also mercifully cleaned up the rambling discussion into a very tight podcast that is chock full of content.

We cover everything from what might be beyond the new gates to the potential conspiracy between the Sisters of EVE, Intaki Syndicate and Serpentis to the rise and fall (at the hands of CCP) of Project Compass to Guillome Renard’s attempt to revitalize player-driven lore. Of course the real kicker will come this weekend at EVE Vegas when CCP Fozzie announces what his contest’s results are.

Check it out, and let them (and me!) know what you think.

Posted in Lore, Speculation | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

They’re Lying To You

So today CCP Fozzie rolled out some details behind two in-character news pieces (here and here). Long story short, the empires are having a contest for who can bring them the most of two of the four kinds of Sleeper blue loot (Neural Network Analyzers and Sleeper Data Libraries).

Here’s their dirty little secret, as well as some advice. TLDR: The empires are feeding you a line. This isn’t a surprise and you’re being set up. I’ll go into detail about this below. Meanwhile, the advice: Instead, stiff the empires and bring your Analyzers and Libraries to Guillome Renard, who is collecting them with the intent of forcing the empires to kiss the ring of the capsuleer community. I’ll talk more about Guillome below too.

The Big Lie(s)

The lore and backstory for this event is seated in a number of chronicles, but there are two that are the most important: Anoikis and Ante. Before I go further it is important to note that none of this is known by capsuleers from an in-character perspective. I’m talking to you as the players to educate you, but don’t pretend in-game (or on IC Forums) that you know this stuff or it will get ignored and laughed at.

Anoikis tells the tale of the initial discovery of the Sleepers in w-space, but that’s not really the important part for this discussion. The second half of the story, beginning at the line, “What do you intend, ambassador,” is what’s important.

What do you intend, ambassador?

I propose we call for a private summit of national leaders, to discuss an exchange of information and come to an agreement about the best use forselect recovered parts. We could use the Inner Assembly to arrange for the meetings quite easily under the guise of an understandable concern for these events, which have touched our worlds too, as we will inform them.

A private summit. About the best use for select parts. Now let’s look at the latest story.

After transmitting a detailed breakdown of the report to the Directive Enforcement Department this evening, The Sanctuary also confirmed that Arve Vesren, Director of Operations for the DED has called a meeting with the Inner Circle to discuss the findings further.

So … there’s a paper. A published set of findings. But it’s only being shared with another private summit. In other words, they still don’t want you to know exactly why they want these things. These things around which they made a quiet agreement while everyone was distracted by the horrible aftermath of the Seyllin Incident. This agreement is why NPCs buy Sleeper (“blue”) loot, providing the bulk of higher-class wormhole income.

Vitrauze Agreement.

Article 8, Section E

CONCORD subsidization in the acquisition of scientifically valuable by-products.

Although preliminary, through the spirit of peace and co-operation that affirms this treaty, each of the four member nations have exchanged sufficient information to identify four key salvageable materials of scientific interest. Seeking to both minimize their impact on capsuleer economic development and to allow more time for proper investigation into the impact of all unknown materials, the member nations have agreed to focus on four lower tier by-products identified during initial excavations of unknown space.

Clause 1) The four member nations of the treaty have each agreed that the preliminary findings, and any agreements based thereupon, on each of the four units is strictly provisional. Current scientific opinion broadly agrees that these items are of little material value. However, any reassessment undertaken by any of the member nations that is deemed to invalidate this initial finding may be deferred to.

Clause 2) CONCORD, in operation with the SCC, has agreed to facilitate and subsidize the acquisition of these items through capsuleer markets at a standard price agreed upon by all of the four member nations.

***October acquisition metrics (Capsuleer Markets / SCC):

Sleeper Data Library: 11,799,985
Sleeper Data Library This large device appears to be a data archive of some sort. Although the information within remains a complete mystery, it is immediately apparent that it stretches far back into time. Small data fragments preceding each file appear to function as time-stamps. If this is indeed what they are, then this Data Library could offer a snapshot of the universe stretching back millennia.
Neural Network Analyzer: 1,162,057
Neural Network Analyzer A cursory analysis of the software systems within reveals that it operates as some kind of monitoring device. The specialized design suggests it was used to process vast amounts of basic data and identify anomalies.
Ancient Coordinates Database: 244,234
Ancient Coordinates Database A brief analysis of the technology inside reveals that the database may in fact still be fully functional. The format and layout of the information within suggests it is a list of three-dimensional coordinates, charting a path to some distant place. Although this device could hold incredibly valuable information, there would only be a handful of people in the entire cluster that could make any sense of it.
Sleeper Drone AI Nexus: 70,726
Sleeper Drone AI Nexus Although the technology behind the Sleeper AI is for the most part recognizable, this device offers some insight into the few mysterious aspects that are not. As coveted as this component must be, only the foremost drone technicians in all of New Eden would be able to possibly find some use in it. There is little doubt however that the promise such a thing holds would ensure they paid a tidy sum.

So what the empires are asking for is “a snapshot of the universe stretching back millennia” and “some kind of monitoring device … used to process vast amounts of basic data and identify anomalies.” Now, once this is collected, what might we use it for? Maybe if you had a starmap it would be useful … oh wait, you mean another piece of blue loot is “a list of three-dimensional coordinates, charting a path to some distant place?” No wonder they might find this useful. Oh, and could you bring it to them for free?

Sounds like leverage to me.

Let’s go back to Anoikis.

That will turn the empires toward research.

Not if we intervene and provide for them what convincingly appears to be the most promising final applications of any potential studies. This hints at precisely the point we must illuminate. When framed as a concern for the balance of power between the empires and the capsuleers, our interests will appear far more congruent with theirs, and our actions will remain understandable. The empires can be made to quickly appreciate how little control over these new areas they will have, and from there, it will be simple to assist each of them in coordinating access to components we identify as key. They will recognize it as the only opportunity any of them have for strategic equality. None will refuse.

Now … wait a second. If this person is talking about the empires in the third person, who is this? Ah, as I might have mentioned a time or two before, capsuleers are suckers for the Sisters of EVE.

And that leads us to Ante. The premise of this chronicle is fairly simple. Namely, the leaders of the Intaki Syndicate and the Sisters of EVE are old friends and co-conspirators (and on a side note, the CEO of SoE is the sister of the Serpentis CEO). They collaborated to ensure that the Zephyr shuttles, given out for free to all capsuleers, were used as a massive crowdsourcing tool to feed the Sisters w-space data.

“Consolidate all the data received from the Zephyr program, everything those oblivious capsuleers have given us on wormhole space. Prepare the datacores for immediate transport; a representative from the Sisters of EVE will be arriving shortly to take possession.”

- Silphy enDiabel, CEO, Syndicate

So, suckers, are you ready to give lots of expensive blue loot to the empires now? Being the secondary patsy to the Sisters and the Syndicate while they use the empires like tools?

An Alternate Potentiality

So into this breach years ago came the Arek’Jaalan Project. This was a player/dev collaboration to discover the roots and details surrounding wormhole space via in-game investigation and science. It broke unprecedented ground and led to conclusions that actually forced CCP to change some things in the game, particularly to change POS code so that it couldn’t determine distances between them since it was allowing triangulation of space. It also generated two interesting little efforts: Project Catapult and Project Gateway, that may trigger visions of Seagulls, and might tell you where CCP is headed with this event.

Sadly, Arek’Jalaan was buried unceremoniously with the Summer of Rage and CCP Dropbear moving to the Witness Relocation Program and eventually leaving the company. But perhaps, my fellow capsuleers, the time has at last come to re-assert ourselves on the storyline.

To that end, my corpmate Guillome Renard has started a drive to beat the empires at their own game. Interestingly, as one of the largest C5/C6 wormhole alliances, Sleeper Social Club has a shot at convincing the wormhole clans to consolidate efforts.

Yes, it could be a scam. But here’s why I think you should trust Guillome:

  1. He was a participant in Arek’Jaalan. That means he actually gives a crap about the lore. He liked it enough to contribute to the last free stuff drive, which led to the creation by CCP of Site One in Eram. He cared enough that he helped me mine (and we both hate mining) toward an analysis for Project Tesseract that never came to fruition.
  2. He is an in-game content enabler. He voluntarily built a store of Tech 1 ships to hold in the wormhole for on-the-spot purchases for roams. Not that it was killing him for expense, but he did a ton of work for a pittance.
  3. He has plenty of money already from years in a wormhole. A few billion isn’t worth the scam given his interest in AJ and the lore.
  4. He’s an EVE University lecturer and alumnus. Not that this makes him automatically “good and honorable”, but it’s another indicator of his interest in promoting the game as a whole.
  5. SSC is generally considered an alliance that values e-honor, and he’s a long-standing member. Yeah, we occasionally sucker-punch opponents, but we are widely known for honoring our ransoms and doing what we say. I think the alliance would be pretty disappointed if he ripped everyone off in the person of an SSC character.

I’ve suggested that Guillome consider using Chribba as a holding entity for them during the contest; stay tuned on that front.

Don’t be an empire’s sheep, or the Sisters’ and Syndicate’s patsies. The Sleepers are awakening. I encourage you to join us and lead rather than follow.

Posted in Lore, Speculation | Tagged , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Hyperion Wormhole Changes

Wormhole Fleet Storyhead

So yesterday I laid out how wormhole combat differs from gate combat and why that diversity is a good thing. And thus, why CCP’s proposed upcoming change in Hyperion to make spawn points post-jump based on mass is a bad idea.

The TLDR of Fozzie’s entire change devblog? Most of the changes are positive (some hugely so), with these exceptions in my opinion:

  1. Wormhole clone swapping should be considered to make the new frigate holes worthwhile and maximize use.
  2. Actual regeneration of the frigate hole mass should be removed – it’s the first step toward a wormhole stabilizer.
  3. Mass-affected spawning is terrible and should be removed.
  4. CCP should continue to consider removing the discovery scanner in w-space and reverting to pre-Odyssey scan mechanics.

TheMittani.com did a very nice quick analysis of things that’s worth your time, so I’ll try to add a bit of additional flavor on top of what they listed.

Here is the shortlist from Fozzie’s blog.

These changes consist of:

  • Wormhole effect rebalance
  • A second static for Class 4 wormholes
  • More randomly spawning wormholes
  • Mass-based spawn distance after wormhole jumps
  • K162 appearance only on first jump
  • Loosening of bookmark copying restrictions

Wormhole Effect Rebalance

As long as I’ve been in wormhole space, there have been two common comments, almost nightly. One of them is how bad Black Holes are. They’ve been the laughingstock of w-space for years because they were all but guaranteed to be empty. No one wanted to live, farm or fight in them.

Now, they clearly have a set of capabilities designed around speed and missiles that make them interesting and useful, if not for everyone. I applaud the Black Hole changes. The rest is a bit more of a mixed bag.

Magnetars (focus: Damage) got a bit of a nerf and honestly probably needed it. Wolf-Rayets (focus: Armor) and Pulsars (focus: Shield) also got pulled back a bit but in ways I think were balanced.

Red Giants (focus: Bombs) have always been pretty “meh” – and I think still are, but the changes might inspire a few more tries at things. I doubt it but maybe. I’ll admit that Cataclysmic Variables I expected to be in higher use than Fozzie’s charts showed, and I’m a bad enough theorycrafter with capacitor that I’ll admit I’m not sure whether I like or dislike the changes there.

Verdict: Good! On the whole, these changes are welcome, especially the Black Hole.

Second Static for Class 4s

Remember I said there were two common complaints? This is the other one. The TMC article, while correct, somewhat misses the “why”. Yes, C4s aren’t great farming and so go unoccupied pretty often. And they are “an uncomfortable wasteland”, but here’s why: Class 4s are most heavily connected to … other class 4s. Of 505 Class 4 systems, 144 (29%) are static connected to another Class 4. To make matters worse, Class 4s are also the only system type that has no dynamic holes leave. In other words, you’re either leaving through the static or a K162. This means that the likelihood is even lower that there will be other exits. And to add insult to injury, most C4s are abandoned, meaning you will need to scan through 20+ signatures to find what is likely to be yet another 20-sig C4.

Long story short: Many groups, when they get two C4s in a row, roll the hole for something better or simply quit scanning that chain and work on others. It’s just not worth the time and energy to scan that much for yet another C4 and no content.

Now, with a second static, the hope is that they will be worth scanning, worth living in, and open a whole new playground between C5/C6 and the lower-class holes.

The only downside is that some of the w-space mapping tools will need a minor overhaul to decide which w-space static is the “real static” (this isn’t a problem in dual-static C2s because one will be the “real static” – the w-space static, and the other is “just a k-space”). It will be interesting to see how CCP implements this and how the third parties deal with it.

Verdict: Brilliant! About time.

More Randomly Spawning Wormholes

If CCP wants to increase PVP in holes, this is the way to do it. More holes mean more screwups mean more missed new entrances mean more fight opportunities. It’s just that simple.

Verdict: Brilliant! Fully suported!

New “Small Ship” Wormholes

Now this one is interesting, but not without its concerns. Fozzie’s post says:

The new class of random wormholes will have a very low maximum jump mass, navigable only by frigates, destroyers and multi-bubble heavy interdictors.

So first of all, I think the size restriction is intriguing. Frigate-class vessels play some odd roles in w-space. There are a handful that are used commonly: CovOps, Interceptors and Ventures. One of the problems with frigates and destroyers is that wormhole pilots tend to have expensive heads, so we don’t like getting podded and tend to fly very well-tank ships, since we can’t clone-jump in the current mechanics. So we’ll see if it actually gets much adoption.

While the stated purpose of these holes is to bring more combat opportunities in smaller ships to w-space, I think the long-term impact of these will be to provide an uncloseable link to systems either preparing for a siege or in the midst of one. Here’s how.

Getting a scout into a hole today is usually doable but not without risk. With these holes, it will be a cakewalk. No problem. Siege planning and insertion just got a little easier. But the second is more insidious: in a hole under siege already, a good attacker gets hole control with bigger ships, closing any new connection and critting the static, while preventing anything from entering or leaving, and in any fight you pod your opponent out to k-space to take them out of the fight. These little uncloseable holes plus bubble-immune Interceptors mean that people can get back in much more easily than before. This adds a new tactical element that should be fun to watch in action. Sieges might get a little more competitive.

But Fozzie then goes on to say:

They will also enjoy a very high stable mass and will be the first wormhole connections in EVE to regenerate mass over time. This means that collapsing these wormholes will be nearly impossible, and they will virtually always last to the end of their 16 hour lifespan.

Emphasis mine. Here’s where I part ways a bit with this one. I’m OK with the high mass. I’m not OK with regeneration. This has a very “slippery slope” feel to me. It smells like a test of “well, how bad would wormhole stabilizers really be?” Mark my words, if this doesn’t end up being problematic, it won’t be too long before you have uncloseable holes between k-space and the lower classes so the sov null boys can not have to worry about frustrating things like not being able to get the whole blob to the fight.

Verdict: Split. New hole type to force ship size choice is interesting and a good experiment – it has done well for FW plexes. On the other hand, regenerating mass is in fact a wormhole stabilizer built right in – a bad idea and will lead to even worse things down the road. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Mass-Based Spawn

I wrote about this yesterday at length.

Verdict: Terrible. Stop fixing what’s not broken.

K162 Apperance On Jump

Before Odyssey, you had to have probes out and be scanning to know that someone had found a new way into your system and was hunting for you. There were many chances to catch people unaware that were being lazy or stupid. Then Odyssey came along and with the discovery scanner, effectively put a giant intruder alarm on every pilot’s scan window when someone merely warped to the other side of the new hole. “Bing! Incoming hostiles in 5 minutes, back to the POS!” This of course pissed off just about every PVP pilot in w-space.

CCP has all but said that they will not de-dumb the dumbscovery scanner in w-space. But they are trying to find some compromise that will not screw the defender (like an earlier suggestion that the K162 simply not appear for a while, even to probes) nor the attacker (like things are currently on Tranquility).

So this is their compromise – that it doesn’t show up in system until someone actually jumps. This means that a combat fleet will have to be ready to go in quicker time to do it, but that ganks are again theoretically possible. Time will tell if it actually works, or if it will simply reduce the number of wormholes opened and thus paths to content.

Verdict: Improved. but going back to the old way would still be better.

Looser Bookmark Copy Restrictions

More bookmark capability is more goodness. ‘Nuff said.

Verdict: Good. Especially when Fozzie says: “ongoing work that will eventually enable the long-requested alliance bookmarks”. While SSC doesn’t suffer much from this, there will be many people who would joyously welcome that.

Posted in Commentary, Hyperion | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Wormholes are Not Gates – And Never Should Be

Archons Landing Storyhead

I’ve been meaning for a long time to write a full-on post about the differences in combat between lowsec and wormholes, as someone who moved from the former to the latter. I never quite got around to it. But now there’s a more compelling reason to give you a mini-primer on one of the key differences between k-space combat and w-space combat.

In k-space, you have gates. When you jump through a gate, you reappear 15Km off the gate in some random direction. This means with a small gate you could be as far as 30Km from the person you are chasing or flying with. In the case of big gates, it could be even farther. With those kind of distances, what makes the most sense in most cases is that you want to be fast – either to get back to the gate or to tackle something or to warp off. K-space small gang combat outside of places like Faction War plexes heavily favors shield-tanked kiters. If you shot someone, you couldn’t jump, so your only option was to bail out as fast as possible. When I lived in Lowsec and NPC Null, I had the skills to fit a T2 armor tank, but I never flew one. All shield unless the FC demanded armor … and almost every time we ran armor we couldn’t get tackle or maintain it, because your targets always flew shield.

Then I moved into a wormhole, and got the slow sad head-shake for my great shield ship flying skills. No one in wormholes flies shield ships, you see, unless you live in a Pulsar or are going to go fly a LOLfleet in k-space. All armor, all the time. Why? Because wormholes are not gates. Wormholes, you see, drop you less than 5Km from the hole. They have almost zero object radius so in most cases you will be no more than 10Km from your friends and enemies. HIC bubble goes up, and you are most certainly not going to be flying away. It’s either back through the wormhole or guns out, preferably short-range, high-DPS guns. You can also jump through the hole fully agressed … once each way. Out, back. And then you’re stuck for 4-5 minutes - it’s called polarization. Usually in a bubble. So plan it well.

All this taken together means if you encounter an enemy on a hole, you’re almost certain of a fight – whether you want one or not – unlike a gate in k-space. It’s one of the things wormholers love about w-space. But the key to the whole thing is being able to tackle and lock the trap to force either a fight or polarization – either with an interceptor or a HIC in most cases. A HIC bubble reaches out 16-24Km from the ship.

So over the weekend a few wormhole pilots were messing around on the Singularity (SiSi) and discovered that the base mechanics of the wormhole jump (everyone shows up 10Km or (usually) less from each other) were no longer working. In fact, capitals jumped were 40Km from the hole! To make matters worse, after the non-answers (don’t panic, guys, there’s a devblog coming) that came on that forum thread, more wormhole dwellers tested on Sisi and found that polarization had been shut off on inter-region wormholes.

People were shocked at the venom this prompted from the wormhole community – between the two forum threads it hit rabid pitch. The above should explain why. Nothing discovered from the list of wanted items, instead a direct push of the wormhole meta to be more like k-space. Thankfully, the polarization item was later determined to be a bug, but by then the trust was on shaky ground.

Even taken alone, the large-distance projection of capitals and battleships destroys the entire “everyone materializes within brawl range” meta. If the whole game was like that, it might be understandable to want to change it. But if you want that sort of long-distance behavior, you can go kite in k-space. What it said to the wormhole community was: “Hey, good news guys! You get to have gate combat like k-space! Yay!” and the community none-too-gently sent a reminder that most people in w-space left because they weren’t enjoying the k-space meta. The only things that would have been worse would have been an announcement that POS now had docking ability, bringing the loathed docking games to w-space, or that the sov null guys were getting permanent wormhole stabilizers to fly in supercaps and wrecking balls.

To make matters worse, it forces choices that discourage fights, rather than encouraging them. To understand this, you need to understand not only the brawl mechanics above, but also a phenomenon that has two different names based on their intent. “Critting” generally refers to intentionally collapsing or forcing to critical your static wormhole in a defensive posture – usually either to block enemy entrance during vulnerable farming time or to lock out an overwhelming threat. “Ragerolling” generally refers to intentionally collapsing because your chain sucks and you want to try another one to look for PVP, and if you get a garbage chain, rolling again and again until you find a fight.

Today, the easiest way to Crit or Rageroll is to pass capital ships through the hole. Two capital passes and an Orca pass and even the largest holes generally collapse. It is easy for most w-space groups to muster this. This encourages Ragerolling, because it makes it easy to get another hole, and another. Flinging the capitals out to 40Km slows that down, and puts the capital ship at risk. So what will likely happen? Instead, the larger groups will bring a horde of battleships to accomplish the same task, but the little guys will be SOL, POS up and log off until tomorrow.

The problem that Fozzie & co. were likely trying to solve is the problem of Critting - the defensive variety. It allows farming in near-safety unless you get the unlucky new hole showing up midway through. So CCP wanted to give people a way to catch that capital. The problem is that it will do no such thing. A capital flung that far will either escape or have to slowboat back – and so what will happen is that they will not bring it at all, and will resort to alternate methods. And then the most fun fights in w-space simply won’t happen any more. The caps will stay home. The big boys will still Crit with battleships, and the little guys will get ganked.

The good news is that CCP Fozzie’s Hyperion w-space devblog came out today, possibly spurred on by the foaming of the w-space community. And it has lots of good stuff in it (I’ll touch on that stuff in the next post). Sadly, the mass-projection item is still there. It’s less terrible, but not gone.

Back to the HIC bubble. 16-24Km radius. A HIC can make itself ridiculously low-mass, so it will generally still be right on the hole. A carrier or dreadnaught now rematerializes at 19Km. Yes, this is within the HIC bubble, so the trapper will be OK so long as there is a well-skilled HIC pilot (T2 bubbles are rare, so this really still is too far) but so far out that the jumping capital pilots will generally not take the risk. It’s still too far for both parties. Simply put, the approach does not address the design goal of putting caps at risk, if that is in fact a goal – it is more risky today just because the caps will be flown in the first place. Under the proposed Hyperion changes, the caps will stay home.

Reduce capitals, Orcas and battleships to a 10Km distance, leave the others the same as Fozzie proposes, and it could still work. But then it adds effectively nothing. So why do it?

Don’t. It ain’t broke, stop fixing it.

And the new thread on the topic shows broad agreement with me on this one. I encourage all w-space pilots to leave a polite and ideally a specific “kill this idea” response in that thread.

Next post we’ll talk about the rest of Fozzie’s devblog which, unlike the mass ejector proposal, has a lot of w-space goodness (as well as a few other concerns worthy of note).

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