We have dispensed with the dark and doomy points about Occupancy SOV in the first article. If you missed the first part, read it, first. Now, our focus can move onto the much happier subject of new Structures. For the purposes of this article, I will refer to all of the new structures, collectively, as Citadels, though the names of structures as-yet unrevealed may be different.. These represent the blooming roses of nullsec’s future. They will be the largest change to density and income generation in years. Fight mechanics, social structures, baseline income models, and transportation itself will all be changed. Almost all of these changes are good things for EVE. They also represent the most dangerous changes CCP has attempted since Incarna.
The Good News
Citadels look sexy as hell, from what we’ve seen. I expect many players to come back to try these things out. If CCP gets the bonuses right, they will be worth owning, and worth destroying. The gameplay associated with outposts relegates them to the realm of alliance leaders and well-connected individuals; this makes them a pretty poor draw for the game at large. Citadels are CCP’s opportunity to fix that. Everyone gets a sandcastle if they want one. This makes EVE fresh again, and adds depth we haven’t had before. The economy will be indelibly altered by the changes CCP has teased to Moon Harvesting. Markets are going to be shaken up. (We’ll go into more depth about this later in the article.) Also, who wouldn’t want to destroy a hundred-billion ISK monument to opulence?
That being said, we think a few tweaks are necessary. From what we’ve seen, the soul of the Citadel is on track; any changes would be minor, at best. For the purposes of this article, I am going to reference null-sec. Everyone benefits from our Citadels, but null-sec will see the most use at the highend.
Some background on how nullsec functions is in order. CCP once said that they wanted isotopes to be the oil of EVE. This never materialized because of several reasons, but it is mostly due to how mechanics work at the core of EVE. What is really the oil of EVE is transportation costs. Specifically the labor, risk, and fuel involved. M^3 movement and cost is the driver for most decisions players make around null-sec economies. Risk is a component of cost. Loosely, risk vs reward balancing is just cost vs cost. If you can produce something safely, move it with cheap labor, and incur minimal collateral costs, you win. If your economy has to import or export a majority of items and incur these fees, you lose.
One way to solve this would be to allow mega complexes of linked citadels. Imagine, for a moment, a new structure that links XL Citadels only. Perhaps a link that transfers a set amount of M^3 per hour between the two, like a siphon. The link would only function inside of the same solar system. This main purpose of this would be to allow for maximization of the two bonuses without incurring the costs of movement between the stations. Compare the cost to move 5M m^3 in null vs. highsec. The cheaper the ISK density of the product you are moving, the more you are impacted by this. The production and refining bonuses that nullsec enjoys do not offset this outside some niche markets. This also ignores the 90B cost to build and fully upgrade an outpost.
Additionally, it takes very little actual production output to raise your taxes in the current system. A few hundred billion in production value per month and your fully upgraded outpost is offset by the tax index. This is mostly a function of how the calculation is done by CCP and the scaling of the cost index. The bonus values vs the cost of the index essentially prohibits building a true industrial system. In order for there to be production density there needs to be larger bonuses or a way to mitigate baseline costs. For example, we have a large number of fully upgraded and optimized for industry areas. Typically Minmatar and Amarr refinery pairs either optimized for T1 or T2 production. Each one tends to reach a cost index of .05, and then die off and stay capped. At 0.5% cost index, a majority of the benefit of a fully upgraded Amarr outpost is lost to tax revenue.
I was always a fan of the X3 (another spaceship game) megacomplex. Power generation was linked to farms, which in turn links to factories. Despite the vocal population of PVPers in Eve, far more enjoy the role of the builder. We learned this lesson, oddly enough, from our forays into H1Z1. The main activity H1Z1 players seemed to enjoy was the base building, and not the PVP. EVE lacks that kind of gameplay. EVE lacks something that allows us to build complex structures and generate some emergent gameplay. The primary downside is that CCP would have to be vigilant, watching for abuses to the system, related to either performance or unbalanced gameplay. Properly tuned, however, the fun factor would be amazing. We’d probably see a ludicrously expensive, phallic tribute to manufacturing inside a week of release.
Citadels will move your materials to the nearest lowsec station when destroyed. It can also move it elsewhere in the same system. There is a 10% penalty for this service. We are going to deliberately blow up our own citadels to form an export economy. This tactic is so powerful that I debated whether or not to state it publicly or not. On the one hand, it will be interesting behavior to observe first. On the other hand, people might believe that it has no chance of occurring.
The 10% penalty isn’t going to be enough to deter teleporting your goods to lowsec. There are many cases where this is going to be the optimal gameplay by a huge margin. However, since it only functions in the case of exporting goods, I don’t really consider it a big deal. If null-sec becomes an export economy, that is only a good thing. At a minimum the cost to do so is probably going to be 8B + 10%, plus the time it takes for the asset recovery to occur. A deterrent, to be sure, but too small a deterrent for the level of money that we can throw around.
The astute among you may have now leapt to the other conclusion — could you not use this system to teleport things within system? Sure, though I doubt this will happen in practice. The amount of time it takes to recover assets makes it slower and more costly than, say, multiboxing ten freighters at once. Perhaps someone upgrading to a bigger castle might be lazy enough to do this.
There is an opportunity to allow null-sec to reconfigure itself. Jump ranges and bridge access are the major deciders of a null-sec hub. However, market visibility is a very close 3rd and is a major driver of why the Goonswarm Federation capital system is YA0-XJ. Market visibility being limited to regional boundaries is a major bottleneck in EVE. I would much rather see a system where it is like industry and we can see 25 jumps. Perhaps even a lower limit to make the searching more optimized. It would need to be at least 20 or so to make it compelling and change the geography a bit. It would make for some interesting purposeful freeporting opportunities as well.
Offices have been a major quality of life problem in null-sec for years. They are an unnecessary inhibitor of social interaction. Item management between individuals in Eve is, to put a fine point on it, strenuous. Corporation hangars ease these issues considerably. Drawing on our personal experiences in nullsec, offices are a prized commodity in Deklein, with individuals forming new corporations just to allow their alts access to a shared pool of resources. Having an office in a production facility means that all of your production characters can draw the inputs for their jobs from a common source, including blueprints. Corporation hangars should be available to anyone wanting one.
Alternatively, make deliveries a real, fully usable hangar. Currently, anyone wishing to insert items into a deliveries hangar has to make a contract to the whole corporation, and someone else has to accept the contract (as you can’t accept your own corp contract.) You also cannot stack or de-stack items in a corporation hangar without looting them to your personal hangar. Currently, those stuck without a corporation hangar in a station are forced to use these strenuous workarounds to emulate the basic functionality of a corporate office, and it’s difficult to see the gameplay benefit of it being so.
Recently, CCP has put forth a few ideas on how moon minerals (“moongoo”) will work in a post-POS world. The general idea is that a structure is needed to crack some sort of static resource (a moon, or something else) into chunks that are suitable for players to mine, instead of moongoo accumulating passively into silos on a POS. These resources would, then, be subject to taxation by whomever owns the processing structure.
If there is going to be a new taxation system for mining or belt spawning, taxes so accumulated should be in the form of liquid ISK. Making the taxes accrue as a percentage of the minerals mined or processed only makes more work for everyone in general. There is already going to be an immense amount of additional man hours coming from the transition of moongoo from passive to active harvest — piling on even more work for the alliance, whose efforts came to acquire such precious resources to begin with, seems unnecessary.
For those of you that have read this far, it is dessert time. One of the things we teach in gs_isk is the concept of the shockwave. These are knock on effects when one material or resource ripple effects the rest of the economy. Typically this is brought about by a CCP change, manipulation, or even a doctrine shift. CCP moving moongoo to a mining system means all null influenced prices across EVE are going to move. At 60k PCU this would have been almost unnoticeable. At 20K PCU this will be a bit more fun. Usually, we keep these to ourselves, but the magnitude of the change isn’t enough for us to employ secrecy. For those with smaller bankrolls, there will be some good trading opportunities associated with Citadels. Examples of items to watch will be moongoo, some minerals, and PI.
This is shaking out to be the biggest new feature we have had in years. From the smallest corps in highsec to the largest null-sec alliances. Everyone wins with Citadels, but Citadels will be an even larger draw to the game if they are good enough that everyone wants to have some and blow some up as well.