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.
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.
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.