Idle Ideas: Ruminations on LowSec


Header Art by Cryo Huren

So I would like to preface this by stating that I have not considered LowSec to be my main area of gameplay in quite some time. That said, I do have friends that I talk to who still live there, so I don’t consider myself entirely out of touch either.

Let’s face it, everyone in EVE has opinions about how space should work outside of where they live: why should I be different? This idea came to me while mining with some friends and chatting about how to make LowSec more unique and an enticing place to live.

To Each Region, Its Own

Each area of space generally attracts a certain style of gameplay.

  • HighSec is the relatively safe and laid-back home of people who are typically more focused on PvE; missions, mining, and incursions, as well as housing a number of trade hubs.
  • NullSec has highly-organized empires, with people striving to build up their own sandcastles while attempting to knock others down.
  • Wormholes are the ‘wild west’ of EVE space, where rules only last as long as a fleet is there to enforce the rules – often only one hole at a time.
  • Pochven is starting to develop its own identity, mainly as a polarized turbo-krab and smallgang haven.

But LowSec has slowly been losing its identity, becoming more and more of a borderland, a no-mans-land of empty space. At best, LowSec is the cracks in space where self-proclaimed pirate groups hide away.

Now, a quick aside. I know that LowSec is also the location of Faction Warfare, which gives it a unique mechanic. However, it is generally agreed that Faction Warfare is long overdue for a proper revamp. My ideas are not aimed at addressing that particular section of LowSec, though in theory it could apply there as well. But not all of LowSec is Faction Warfare space and Faction Warfare shouldn’t be the sole identity for all of LowSec.

The Core Concept

LowSec is a region that is rich with resources, but still struggles to make full use of its bounty. Many moons are left un-towered, while belts are fallow from lack of mining power or are instead picked clean by NPC mining fleets that make a system worthless. Instead of having these extremes, perhaps they can be combined. Create a mechanic whereby NPC mining fleets could harvest resources in systems that players control, and in exchange, the players get a small fraction of that total.

The way I envision this is: when a moon is first fracked or a belt is spawned, it is often mined by the players who own it. However, if it isn’t cleared by the first mining fleet, it is generally ignored except by the few brave/foolish people willing to solo mine. After roughly 24 hours, NPC miners should become aware of the moon belt and potentially send a fleet, the same way they do with asteroid belts. Since they are mining from a player owned moon though, they should be paying for the right to do so. When the hauler is filled up, it should then migrate back to the nearest station its corp owns to drop off the ore. At that time, the player owners would be given a small cut of the ore mined in payment.

The payout should not be guaranteed – an NPC hauler could be an attractive target to steal from. But this reintroduces some measure of passive income, and I will address that.

Devil in the Details

Before everyone jumps straight down to the comments to praise/condemn me for a ‘passive income’ idea, I’d like to explain how this would tie into a number of different mechanics. The goal is not to make it so that groups would just set up moon mining refineries all over LowSec and let NPCs do all of the mining. This is supposed to blend a number of mechanics, and make it so that there is a mixture of NPC lore and PvP opportunities.

First and foremost, attracting NPC mining fleets should be at least in part influenced by standings. If the nearby NPC corps have negative standings, then they aren’t going to mine your moon, and certainly not give you a cut. Furthermore, that payout could also be influenced by standings to achieve maximum results.

Secondly, these NPC mining fleets should be attractive targets. They can be modeled after the existing mechanics, but the rewards should be mainly in physical resources; i.e. the ore they’ve been mining. LP and Skins are fine for some functions in EVE, but this should be a group-level resource. This would entice hostile players to interdict these NPCs and deprive the owners of that ore before it makes it back to the NPC station. This is also another reason for players and fleets to get out in space and create more gatecamps – kill players, sure, but also restrict hostile economies!

Lastly, there is player activity in the raw materials. If an NPC hauler gets back to their station, the payout is in ore, which would need to be handled in some way to be turned into a profit by the players. This would be the same case if the hauler was destroyed and looted. Raw ore of any value needs to be hauled somewhere. This could be a market or a a refinery, but the ore needs to be refined, and then minerals need to be made into hulls. Players have to make an effort to get a result from this mechanic.

Passive Income

This is an issue all in of itself. I do not wish to change the focus of this article, so while I’ll mention it, I will only do so briefly. Passive income has had problems in the past, but it’s also been a great conflict driver. The amount of passive income generated by this idea should in no way be able to rival the potential income of actively mining moons.

I’ve avoided using specific numbers because they’d inevitably be wrong and argued over instead of addressing the core idea. That said, I picture the payout from the NPC mining fleet be in the realm of 10% of what they were able to mine and haul back. That means that if a moon-frack was left completely un-touched, and was then totally cleared by NPCs and all of the haulers made it back safely, the owners would get roughly 10% of the value. Enough to be worth placing an Athanor on a good moon and fighting for it for a month or two, but not enough to just tower every moon and rely on NPCs. In fact, that is partially why the payout is in ore and made at each NPC’s station, though I also understand it could become a logistical nightmare if spread all over. Maybe that’s a balance point too.

In Conclusion

My hope is that something like this would make LowSec unique.

It takes advantage of the NPC presence that is largely absent from NullSec while encouraging PvP activity that is often avoided in HighSec. It should not be considered “NullSec lite”, as it engages with NPC standings and lore more than building sandcastle empires and grand political maneuverings.

It would be a blending between HighSec and NullSec, but a blend that happens to be a thing that can stand alone, and I think that has value.

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  • Guilford Australis

    I’ve never quite understood the point of lowsec. It has some of the drawbacks of highsec (sec status, gate guns, unprofitable PVE) and most of the inconveniences of nullsec without the benefit of being able to claim sov and build ADMs for defensive advantage. It’s the worst of both worlds.

    Even from a lore standpoint, it doesn’t make sense. The empires claim lowsec but have no presence there other than gate guns. Well, if violence takes place off grid from gate guns, how could CONCORD even know about it? Gate guns should be like security cameras. If they can’t see you because you’re fighting on a structure off grid, you should be able to pod fools all day long with no hit to sec status.

    December 16, 2021 at 3:02 PM
    • Romulus Loches Guilford Australis

      That is part of why I think this suggestion actually makes sense. It would explain why the empires claim lowsec but still be less regulated than highsec.

      I think lowsec is an excellent opportunity to build lore and have new unique mechanics that make sense in context to existing ones.

      December 16, 2021 at 3:34 PM
    • John Schadt Guilford Australis

      Where do you get unprofitable PVE? No one pays attention in low sec so if you live there the PVE is everywhere and all the time… ?

      December 28, 2021 at 2:05 PM
  • j87ayhsdfj325

    My position has long been that passive income should be allowed but in the form of easily disrupted NPC ships or otherwise. Unlike scary structures with multiple timers (ranging from POCOs to POSs), this approach would actively encourage roaming and threaten the owning corporation with almost complete loss of value if it doesn’t come out and defend its space. And unlike bonuses to PVE as the main benefit to occupying/owning space, players would be more actively engaged in roaming, defending, or doing something else rather than mindless PVE.

    December 18, 2021 at 8:52 PM
    • Garreth Vlox j87ayhsdfj325

      Defending space leads to instalocker gate camping now that cynos are as restricted as they are, more genius CCP design at work.

      December 19, 2021 at 2:58 AM
      • Agreed: gatecamping is largely a dead thing outside of niche scenarios like camping gates during active strategic engagements or mass strategic relocations to catch reinforcements…. and even then a majority of the people moving will go by titan bridge or travelceptor.

        December 21, 2021 at 4:00 AM