Dev Blog: Introducing the Resource Wars

FroggyStorm 2017-09-07

Introducing Resource Wars

A new and interesting dev blog has come down the pipe for the upcoming “Life Blood” expansion. The teasers alluded to mining and pirate incursion type event sites in hi-sec. This dev blog gives a bit more insight into these so called, “Mining Expeditions.”

Expedition Facts

So, the first obvious question is just what do we know and what do we have to go on? The first facts are that these will be combined mining and combat sites and there will be advanced AI NPC’s involved with both the retrieval of resources aspect and the pirates attacking the sites.

The next interesting tid-bit, the one that is causing all the stir, is that these sites will be behind acceleration gates and will have limited access numbers. I’ll say that again. Only a specific, and presumably fairly low, number of people can be in a site at a time. Clearly there are some significant concerns about this fact, and I will go into some of them in detail a little further down.

The final important bit is the potential rewards. There wasn’t much in terms of granular information here. First, the ore is expected to be high end valuable ore that isn’t normally available to Hi-Sec miners, including a new asteroid type. So, for those who are brave enough to attempt to mine under pirate fire this could be valuable in that regard. Here is the catch however, all that special ore, it will be unrefinable by normal means. Instead you have to move it to the in-site haulers, at which point it earns you LP points. The dev blog just doesn’t say if its by delivery to the freighter or only if the freighter then makes it out, but indications right now are that LP is earned when the site is completed.

Next there are LP rewards themselves. There is the expected skins and such that have become a mainstay of event loot, but there is also an interesting newbro-friendly tiered ship program that I feel has some potential and bears watching.

The idea is that as part of these events you can get a hull and modules to fit a “properly” fitted T1 ship. It is supposed to give a plan as to why the fit works and why to fit that way. If those guides are any good, this could be a game changer to many young pilots taking their first trips out.

Next there is a mechanic to then upgrade to higher tiered ships and fittings as the player moves along.

Access and Access

Now for the moment you’ve been waiting for. The access problems.

Let’s start with the easy if obscure one first. To go to these sites, you must have security status that allows you in Hi-Sec.

Next, to get access to the sites you must have faction status.

That’s right, to get access to the most valuable, high end sites, you must have status either with the newly-introduced faction corp that owns the sites, by running the lower-tier sites.

Right off the bat, this makes it hard for PVP and gankers to really participate. Those ner-do-wells tend to have very poor security status in the first place (a byproduct of shooting people in the face). Next this segment of the player base is highly allergic to the pursuit of grinding faction status. So the odds of any but the most persistent of whale hunters being willing to get into the top end sites, well its low.

Then there is the question of instanced safe mining.

With a set number of people allowed in, there is some very real concern that EVE players will game the system to make these resource sites gank-free zones for bot aspirancy. One of the example situations being where a single player with an army of bots fills up the entire site so no gankers can come in and then mines in peace until the whole instance is stripped bare. Another is where evil griefers fill the site up with interceptors and don’t allow any miners in. And so on. CCP Affinity has said in the official forums thread, that the usual means of bypassing acceleration gates should still be in effect. So that should help mitigate some if not all of the worries of the gank community as well.

In answer to the question of, “How is this not a step on the path towards a gank-free Hi-Sec?” CSM member Suitonia also had the following to say on the Reddit thread.

“The sites will prevent more than X players going inside, this was a concern we mentioned during the CSM summit when this was revealed to us, but you will at least be able to gank people at the acceleration gates, and enter the site with them and kill them inside if it’s not at full capacity. The sites were said to have a limited life span (10 mins~) and have a time down so you can’t use them to hide in for extended periods of time, and they pop up randomly, so they aren’t something you can just sit in 1 system and do you need to fly around space (where you can get killed on gates). As long as they get the rewards right, I think it’ll be acceptable.

I know it’s not as open and sandbox design as the rest of eve, but I think content like this is what highsec needs to help player retention, having easy entry level structured group content that maybe gets players talking together, grouping up, and socializing is what is going to get those players to join groups together and stick around with the game. It’s also a good way to recruit and help newbros for more veteran players who also can run the sites alongside them. It’s better than grinding level 2 missions endlessly until they quit.

The pirate forward operating bases also mentioned in the expansion will also go a good way to getting PUG groups together, and give more reasons for corporation/alliances and social groups to exist in highsec, which means they get organized and hopefully make the move to low/null/wh.”

Personally, I believe that Suitonia is right on the money. Eve has recognized that there needs to be more done to train and retain new players. The NPE was a first step, but it was largely more of the same old welcome to space and now go figure out the game by yourself. Nothing to force you to meet people and form the bonds which we all know is what keeps people around.

While there are several things here that could be concerning, I feel that the random nature, short duration and the choke points are a good step to add some player driven risk into these event encounters. On great Reddit comment suggested that in addition to an IN gate, the addition of an OUT gate would also go a long way towards adding risk. By not allowing direct warp outs, it makes the pirates (NPC or players) in the sites much more dangerous and it gives a choke point where players, potentially loaded with valuable ore need to egress and can potentially be ambushed. It is like having hole control in WH space when you are trying to evac. To get the good out you need someone holding the gate.

Success is going to be a tricky math equation.  First making the sites desirable to run, both in terms of reward and safety, by the normal risk averse HiSec dwellers is going to be a tall order. Next, making them risky enough to keep with the whole EVE is cold and dark theme and have PVP players able to impact and interdict these events with the afore mentioned restrictions will also be difficult. Finding just the right balance will be the key, along with adding in sufficient randomness and the AI balance, is going to be a real trick, but one that could really represent a paradigm shift for Eve and be a shot in the arm to player retention.

Fleshing Out the Story

But enough about the mechanics. I am much more interested in the lore potential here. Those of you who follow me know that I think that Eve’s lore is a much maligned and underutilized potential resource to CCP and players to tell better stories. And between you and me, there is a LOT of lore here to really unpack and dig into.

First the site themselves. These sites, from a lore perspective, are not new at all. The EVE back story is littered with references to the vast economic power and abundance of the different empires. For example, in the back story of the first Titans and the formation of the ORE faction, there are references to stripping entire planets and finding moon-sized ochre rocks in private sites. And really it makes sense, the economic potential of countless billions of inhabited words and space stations is a fantastic economy. But therein lies one of the hardest disbeliefs to suspend in all of EVE.

Where does all this wealth go?

From an outside the lore standpoint, the capsuleer input to such an enormous intergalactic economy would be miniscule. Thus, it would be impossible to really sell the idea that the economy is player driven at all. Instead it would be just like any other MMO and would be controlled and exist outside of player input.

Frankly, that is boring. The EVE economy is much more interesting by being able to be controlled.

And then there is the question of CCP’s ability to (ethically or not) use the trope of the factions’ influence to interact with that same economy to get different market outcomes. Ignoring the few times where CCP has injected plex into the economy, it has been mentioned by players in the various forums that it would be a powerful tool for CCP, in the name of the factions, to contribute to the otherwise player-based economic systems.

Then again, by adding those levers to the game that CCP can then pull to shift values around, it could be very tempting to use and abuse.

Next there is the question of how did the factions hide the sites and keep greedy miners out for all this time? And more importantly, why are they allowing us in now?

Both questions have no answers, either from the Dev blog or the lore that I am aware of. They are secret because they are secret. And you can’t go there, or scan them, or find them because they are secret. To me this is a bit disappointing, but understandable. However, now that they do exist. I want more on why they are now something that can be scanned down and found. And more importantly, I want to know why are the factions sharing these sites with us now?

Perhaps it isn’t a tip of the hat to my fall of HiSec scenario. But it could be.

Conclusions

Really there aren’t any. This is, after all, a Dev blog giving us just the first details. There will be storms of speculation and angry gnashing of teeth. But those will settle down, or flare up, as more information is forth coming. I think there is some real potential here. Both as a player retention mechanic for a segment that really needs it, and in terms of putting down foundational lore for the health of the Eve story.

Remember folks this is a role-playing game at the end of the day. We have been given one of the greatest video game canvases of all time. It is up to us all to draw, doodle, and spray blood across it to write our own stories and tell them to each other. Nothing more and nothing less. Try to consider this as a new color of paint to use on that canvas.

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Comments

  • Alot

    Oh dear, it looks like hi-sec miners (the most risk averse players in game (who’s greatest self defense mechanism is flying in junk not worth shooting at)) are gaining access to an unreliable source of random spawn, limited quantity safe instances – and by safe, I mean just as likely to be ganked as any other mission runner by combat-scanning gankers.

    While my tear glands seem to have lost the ability to produce salty tears, rest assured I have positioned a pepper grinder directly above my head to decant appropriate amounts of seasoning on behalf of all those high-sec gankers who will now need to use the combat-scanning probes which they were using anyway to gank solo-players who are more likely to quit the game then enter into community based activity.

    Greatest irony I see of this whole debate is that if the AI-savvy npcs are realistic enough, the high-sec miners who run these sites might be the first high-sec dwellers to inherently fit ant-gank builds for their preferred pve activities.

    I’ve personally moved onto elite dangerous. Will see if some friends are interested in this group mining thing as a form of coffee shop break to attach to our usual chat-room activities though.

    September 7, 2017 at 11:19 am
  • Rolfski

    At first sight, it looks reasonably gank- and exploit-proof to me. But I’m sure when it’s live players will find ways around it.

    All in all a good first step to get newbros more organized.

    September 7, 2017 at 3:12 pm
    • Alot Rolfski

      If a site has a player limit at the gate, can gankers not just scan their locations with a combat scanner and warp to it?

      September 7, 2017 at 5:11 pm
      • Froggy Storm Alot

        The CSM comments, and CCP have said that means of bypassing the gates will work. That being said, scan probes USED to land you on the gate.

        Also, as some comments have pointed out, if you can bypass the gate you are right back to zerging in hundreds of alts to each site. Which in conjunction with non diminishing returns means the rewards are exploitable.

        It will remain to be seen how it works in reality.

        September 7, 2017 at 5:58 pm
  • Alaric Faelen

    CCP just doesn’t understand that every time they think ‘newbies will benefit from this easier, safer content’ what actually happens is not-newbies simply move in and farm it to death. Anything with so little risk also needs very little reward.

    What is the point of ‘newbie content’?
    If the goal is to benefit newbies, then content needs to focus on
    1) exposing new players to the content available in Eve Online.
    2) teaching game mechanics relevant to that content.

    The intent for ‘newbie’ content should not be fattening the wallets of players who honestly have little need for wealth anyway. Anyone raking in billions of isk loses the claim to being a newbie.
    Less risk, way too much reward- the result is farming by established players while nothing really changes for new players. Skill injectors were pitched as helping new players speed up their game experience, maybe older players get rid of unused skills. Instead we got massive SP farms, probably as many SP farm clones as actual active players in the game at this point. That isn’t new players.

    Newb content needs to be the most accessible and exciting stuff to hook players. But it doesn’t need to be the most lucrative. It should serve to educate new players more than just hand them isk and still dump them into a game clueless and friendless.

    September 7, 2017 at 6:29 pm
    • Froggy Storm Alaric Faelen

      In this case, the goal here doesn’t appear to by fattening wallets so much as creating PUG mechanics. By forcing newbro players into fleets early and with targeted rewards (the t1 frig kits) it could actually address the underlying problem of leaving the nest.

      Most agree that the content isn’t the problem so much as exposing new players to those who left hisec. The vets who live in hisec are NOT (in many cases at least) the best ambassadors for the real Eve that is worth playing.

      September 7, 2017 at 6:55 pm
      • Alaric Faelen Froggy Storm

        That is the hope, but CCP has a bad track record making it happen. To be fair- if CCP doesn’t make something an isk faucet then players decide it’s ‘broken’ and cry on the forums. Rock and a hard place.

        But the problem remains- if it actually pays well, then it will just become the new thing for people with 20 accounts to farm.

        The latest Meta Show hammers this point home. The outright declaration that CCP has no concept of the larger meta, how the game is actually played, or what impact their changes and ‘fixes’ might have.

        I try to be hopeful. On paper the idea of PUG type content sounds solid. But I’ve been giving money to CCP for over 6 years now and haven’t seen anything that raises my expectations that this won’t just become another isk-faucet that is farmed by experienced players while new players have the exact same complaints on their way out of the game.

        September 9, 2017 at 3:26 am
    • Pew Pew Alaric Faelen

      Full agree.

      September 8, 2017 at 9:22 pm
    • Johnny Crowe Alaric Faelen

      Yeah, maybe it will actually work. Socialization is a big part of EvE, you get it in null and low easily, hi-sec did need reasons for people to play together more.

      September 8, 2017 at 10:03 pm
  • Every time I read “resource wars” I think of drug wars on the Ti-82

    September 8, 2017 at 4:41 am
  • Pew Pew

    “I know it’s not as open and sandbox design as the rest of eve”

    spot on.

    September 8, 2017 at 9:21 pm