Local Blackout Scheduled, CCP Already Inconsistent

Bill McDonough 2019-07-10

Nullsec is going dark.

At downtime on Friday, July 12, CCP will be enacting the ‘Nullsec Blackout’, an attempt to shake things up in null and see what happens. The outage is a test, first announced in a Scope video and an earlier devblog, and will continue for a currently-undetermined length of time.

So What’s Going To Happen?

Local chat will enter ‘Delayed Mode’, which features no delay at all. Rather, players will simply not show up in Local chat until they speak in Local chat. This is how Local works in wormholes, and was at one time an option for player-owned channels as well. As a result, it will be impossible to see who is entering or leaving systems without directly watching them do so. Similarly, logins/logoffs will be difficult to track, as well, especially safe-logs at bookmarks off in the middle of no-where, as will fleet stragglers, disconnects, and basically anything else that means the person you’re checking up on isn’t already on-grid with you.

What’s the Point?

The point, according to CCP, is to basically shake nullsec and see what falls out. The game is currently in an undeniably stagnant phase, and CCP is looking for solutions to encourage more conflict and more kinetic, active gameplay. Turning off Local in nullsec is an idea that’s been floating about since at least the heady days of CSM 6, and the original introduction of J-space. It also represents an option that CCP can put into action and get testing immediately, without having to devote considerable developer man-hours ahead of time. As a result, it lets CCP test this, get data, and then decide how to proceed in a quicker, more responsive manner, but doesn’t delay other things they’re working on.

So… Inconsistency?

Yep. And it’s the kind of inconsistency that could either be meaningless, or point to a real problem—we just don’t know yet. That inconsistency comes in the lore rationale CCP’s given for the change. As with every significant change, CCP likes to do these lore rationales, so that mechanics changes are tied to the unfolding story of EVE. For example:

  • Aegis Sov: Entosis shielding comes from technology originally scavenged from Jove Observatories, and later from Drifters. This is the shielding that renders sov structures (including, originally, nullsec stations) invulnerable to attack from normal weapons-fire. The Entosis Links used to interact with these structures are also originally taken from the Observatories.
  • Capital Changes: Force Auxiliaries, the overhaul of capital modules, the introduction of capital shield extenders, plates, etc, all stems from the Drifter attack that killed Empress Jamyl I of Amarr.

In similar vein, the Nullsec Blackout is, lore-wise, the result of sustained Drifter attacks all over null pushing the limits of CONCORD’s communications system, and stressing the logisticians who keep it supplied with Quantum-Entangled Helium-4. And that’s where the inconsistency comes in. The Drifter attacks haven’t been a sustained thing. They were a sustained thing for about 4 days, from Jun 26 through Jun 30 or so, but then CCP shut them down for a couple of days. Then they came back, different, for a few days.. and shut down again just in time for USTZ on July 4 to go ahead and go to parties and go grill brats and watch fireworks.

After another few days off, the Drifters showed back up again, no longer really caring about structures. For like, 1 day. With the exception of one brief spurt of attacks over the course of an hour or two on Monday, though, zkill shows Drifter activity has dropped back into J-Space, A-Space, and JO systems. The lore rationale for the Blackout is completely absent, right before the Blackout.

Why’s That Bad?

Maybe it’s not! Maybe it’s just ‘eh, lore, whatevs’. Or maybe it’s a blatantly up-front and in-your-face disregard for the details, right before a significant test is rolled out. If CCP wants this test to be meaningful, and give them accurate information and the ability to draw longer-term conclusions, that’s bad. This is exactly when attention to detail is important: just before, and during, an experiment. Not paying attention to detail now means your baseline info (already skewed by the mere activity of the Drifters) may not be getting properly collected and tracked.

Worse, it shows a shoddy, lazy approach to the whole thing. And while it’s hard to imagine that the developers who couldn’t predict Trollceptors being a thing in FozzieSov might be making unfounded assumptions and just taking the results of their test for granted, a slip-shod approach is still bad. The computers, after all, won’t care if your baseline assumptions are wrong, they’ll dutifully execute whatever you tell them to, the adorable little morons.

Now What?

Now… we wait. Maybe the Drifter attacks will re-commence! Maybe they’ll be going all through the Blackout! Personally, that would just make it all even funnier to me, so I hope they are. About the only thing that’ll make me laugh more than waves of idiots coming to Delve to hunt ratters and BFG’d to dust would be waves of idiots coming to Delve to hunt ratters and getting slaughtered in droves by Drifters.

Or maybe they won’t. Either way, the ‘hunters’ are coming, all full of themselves and confident that THIS will be the thing that really hurts the big blocs. And by god, they will be the flashing tip of the spear, striking a blow of great bullshit, or whatever. So when the blackout hits, fly smart, pay attention to your d-scan, and have your cyno ready. Because the night is dark, and full of terrors. Be one of them. Or be a victim.

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Comments

  • Guilford Australis

    I don’t think the ‘hunters’ are as excited about this change as they pretend to be on Reddit. The time and effort required to combat probe or ping off celestials while D-scanning every system they fly through will multiply by an order of magnitude. Meanwhile, their targets will be fewer and more skittish (when they are even undocked). Olmeca was up-front about this on Reddit this morning, acknowledging he expects his hunting/booshing income to decline.

    Many people undoubtedly will remain docked or logged off during the first few days or weeks, and some who try to adapt to the change will struggle and decide it’s not worth it. So… what mysterious population does CCP think will suddenly flock to the game to replace these people? The handful of crusty Reddit-warriors who claim they are re-subbing after a five-year break because of this change?

    July 10, 2019 at 5:52 pm
    • Plenty of them are excited. In some cases, it’s people who don’t mind a bit of work. In others, it’s people who haven’t thought through what it means. We’ll see.

      July 10, 2019 at 7:11 pm
    • Just like when CCP limited JBs to one-per-system and the elite PvP crowd thought their killboards were going to flow green from all the traffic forced to go through gates. As it turned out, all it did was make people fly in a more cautious manner, since now they were doing something they knew was risky (taking gates) where before they’d have just blind-warped directly from one friendly POS to another without even looking at D-scan and would’ve landed in my Sabre bubble a few hundred km off their JB. Of course in 2019 CCP decided that even this was too much risk and elected to allow people to just park JBs on-grid with their stargates and Keepstars to make pilot error practically impossible.

      Elite PvPers will have a field day with this change for a week or two while the illiterate segments of the carebear population figure out what is happening. After that, targets are going to dry up like crazy as the only people left traveling in nullsec will be the kind of autists that you’re not going to catch. Everyone else will be mining in their rorq / ratting in their super under a supercap/fax umbrella (good luck killing them) or doing industrial/market/whatever shit by warping between their constellations of all-on-the-same-grid Upwell structures where you can’t do shit to them and jump-freightering or bridging regular freighters for anything that actually needs to move systems.

      This game is fucked.

      July 11, 2019 at 4:05 am
  • General Thade

    My guess is CCP is scared that they can lose a good chunk of subscribers/player base in null. Most of them are used to it clearly and I am too ( and I don’t even live in null) but I think its ridiculous that people are unsubscribing over this. Most of the complaints I have seen have been from imperium members, aka the largest, most powerful group in game. It can be easy to overcome this, I am even working on a article to show how easy it is. Adapt and overcome, with that amount of manpower and resources its easy.

    July 11, 2019 at 12:54 am
    • Guilford Australis General Thade

      I’ve seen players from every corner of nullsec claim they’ll stop playing over this – just today some FedUp dude posted on Reddit that his entire alliance supposedly decided to log off until CCP rolls this back.

      It’s a combination of factors. Of course virtually any alliance (or individual player) in nullsec is capable of adapting to this. But plenty of people simply don’t want to. If we wanted to deal with Drifters and no local chat, we’d have chosen to live in J-space. But since CCP has forced that stuff upon us… I think it’s perfectly reasonable that some people will decide they’ve had a good run and would rather enjoy the memories and move on to another game.

      July 11, 2019 at 1:06 am
      • I’m from the Imperium and am very much aware that our org is best equipped to handle these changes– but I’ve unsubbed anyway: not because I feel that it’s going to impact my bottom line (I can still mine in my Rorq under our lovely super umbrella), but because I think it’s going to further depopulate nullsec and remove even more PvP targets from space.

        All this does is further polarize nullsec into groups of haves and have-nots: those with a supercap umbrella will continue to crush MERs, those without will eat shit and die until they quit or assimilate into an existing bloc (it won’t take long). With their supercap fleets now absolutely essential to preserving their incomes, groups will be even less-inclined to risk those fleets in strategic engagements, meaning even less strategic conflict will take place. We’ve already seen what happens when you threaten a group’s sov/structures: they’d rather just bleed Keepstars and move somewhere else than contest a particular objective, and why wouldn’t they? All it takes is a couple of weeks and some ihub upgrades and any random corner of space can be transmuted into a Delve. With all space equally economically viable (more or less), there’s no reason to attach yourself to any particular region.

        CCP have killed small-scale PvP with their ship meta and structure mechanics, and now they’re forcing even more strategic stagnation by making it even more important that blocs’ super fleets remain in their home regions at all times. It’s just more shit added to a river of existing shit culminating in a shit-waterfall. Fuck CCP.

        July 11, 2019 at 4:14 am
  • As somebody who PvEs sometimes (mining / ratting) and hunts miners / ratters for fun, I’m saying this change is fucked from every angle.

    Hunting is going to become annoying and fruitless as the effort threshold is increased and target population is decreased since the only people left playing are going to be those with the skills, ships, patience, and general paranoia level required to survive in CCP’s new nullsec environment. I don’t think it will change much about gatecamping (traffic will still be ceptors, yachts, and other difficult-to-impossible-to-catch bullshit) except that traffic quantity will decrease markedly. On the ratter/miner hunting end, you’re going to see the same thing happen to PvE that happened to PvP: namely that people will only do it in either completely-expendable garbage ships, or capitals/supers, as caps+ will be the only things capable of surviving long enough to summon the owners’ super umbrella for backup.

    So, the only people still out there to hunt after a few weeks of this will be members of mega-blocs, who will park out there in Rorqs and supercarriers and continue making exactly as much money as they were before. Some people will probably continue to rat at less-ambitious scales in more remote areas using small, throwaway ships that nobody’s going to care about hunting. Everyone in the middle will eat shit and die until they quit (which shouldn’t take long).

    As a PvPer, I expect the result will be “less of the same”: in that you’ll still be doing the same activities you’re doing now (maybe trying to camp a gate, maybe trying to hotdrop Rorqs and ratting carriers with 70 dudes in bombers), but you’ll just see fewer targets. VNI’s might be considered expendable enough to keep doing there thing. All the bots will break but nobody cares since the resources they were collecting previously weren’t scarce in any way– they weren’t displacing human players either as farmers or as targets (since they were un-catchable for the most part).

    As a carebear, it means get under a supercap umbrella and fetch your capital or get fucked.

    Nothing about any of this sounds fun to me. I unsubbed all my accounts, not so much in protest of this particular change as in general frustration with the last several years of game design changes and CCP’s utter inability to deliver a non-retarded vision of nullsec or iterate on their various broken or undesirable game mechanics. The ship meta right now is toxic to fun, structure spam is toxic to fun, the strategic game still revolves around supercaps and peoples’ attendant unwillingness to risk contesting objectives, and the world of non-strategic, non-consensual PvP is fucked and about to get worse as a significant portion of the target populations unsub. CCP are morons and I’m not giving them anymore money for a game I have basically zero interest in playing.

    I wish I could go back in time and convince CCP not to hire Fozzie. His reign over the game has been a disaster.

    July 11, 2019 at 3:48 am
    • Guilford Australis Ganthrithor

      A common theme from those I’ve interacted with who are unsubscribing and walking away is that the loss of local chat is merely the last straw in a long line of disappointments with CCP. It is not an intolerable design choice in itself; it is simply another, particularly contentious, example of CCP’s incompetence at balancing its game. According to a current CSM, CCP did not approach them about either this or the Drifter event. We can only wonder what, if anything, is guiding CCP’s decisions at this point.

      The note about player population is well made. EVE’s population is shrinking somewhat rapidly from a high of more than 60k logged in on average between 2012 and 2013 to under 30k right now. The game will lose critical mass at some point, and no one will be able to enjoy any play-style when that happens. In that light, CCP’s decision to nuke the current nullsec lifestyle as an experiment to see whether tons of players leave the game does not seem incredibly well-conceived. This strategy seems likely to cause a net loss of players (who might have endured less-severe changes), and CCP has not articulated a plan for where and how to recruit people to replace those who may leave. In the best case scenario that I can picture, a significant number of nullsec players leave the game and are only partially replaced by a lower number of new highsec players who may or may not stick with the game long enough to move on to nullsec or elsewhere.

      CCP seems to be operating under the assumption that if things go pear-shaped and players quit in droves they can just put things back the way they were and all those players will come back. This is a bad assumption. It’s like an employer deliberately making choices it knows will confound its employees and rationalizing it with, “If all the employees quit, we can just make things like they were before and they’ll all come back from whatever new jobs they’ve gotten.” That’s not how it works.

      July 11, 2019 at 11:59 am
      • I had a big post typed up (but didn’t post it because why bother) for the feedback thread on CCP’s forum mentioning the same thing: people are going to go on “vacation” to other games for the duration of this “test,” and they’re not going to come back. Once you bore EVE’s content creators to the point where they start organizing activities in other games, it won’t be long before line members realize that they’re actually having more fun in those new games than they were playing EVE.

        I’ve always ended up coming back to EVE for the community. If the community shifts its focus elsewhere, there’s zero reason to return to EVE. Lord knows we weren’t playing EVE because the game itself was particularly well-executed.

        July 11, 2019 at 6:32 pm
    • zeenkz Ganthrithor

      Even with local chat and a decent intel sharing network + Near2…I still managed to lose the occasional ratting VNI. Now I’m not even going to undock it. It was my casual, chill gameplay while I waited for a roam, whaling fleet, or Alliance op to form. Now I just spin the youtube while waiting for those pings. One less target for the hunters. But with less targets there are fewer pings. Downward spiral.

      July 17, 2019 at 5:44 pm
  • So now it comes down to intel tools and out of game infrastructure. who even bothers with that

    July 11, 2019 at 5:24 am
    • Garreth Vlox Rain

      all the big groups this change was supposed to fuck with

      July 13, 2019 at 9:44 am
  • Havish Montak

    The Havish take on this.

    Probably the best thing to happen to EvE. With no local, forces will consolidate under a super umbrella allowing smaller alliances to move into abandoned space as CCP originally intended under Fozzie Sov. This will create more content for roaming gangs as intel channels will not cover a whole region or 2. Krabbing cry babies will move to lowsec where they have local. They can still mine moons.

    Covert ops and blops operations will be awesomely effective. Train those lokis for blops insertion. Being able to move across a region virtually undetected will be awesome for hunting whales that are not working in a group.

    EvE has sound, turn it on. Sound will be useful again. That shield low alarm should be set to maximum whilst krabbing to remind you to save your rorqual whilst watching Netflix with the wifey.

    The effort threshold for hunting will not increase. We check deltas on dotlan and the ingame map for activity. We go by dscan for a ship location and spend 30 seconds pers system anyway unless we have a dscan sig to find.

    Nullsec will be a little more dangerous. Things will die. That is good for the economy. Sell cap parts boys as botting supers are gonna go poof.

    July 11, 2019 at 8:23 am
    • Nobody is going to bot with supers anymore, since all the bots are going to break immediately upon release. Without a mechanism for sensing danger, people will be forced to simply stop botting: OCR-based stuff will be completely useless.

      There will be no “whales” for you to hunt in the long-term, as people simply won’t field capitals / supers unless they’re under an umbrella. Blackops drops ~*will*~ be very difficult to detect: people will respond accordingly by refusing to expose themselves to the risks posed by your drops. You’ll quickly find yourself stuck dropping repeatedly on Rorquals that just PANIC and summon twenty titans. That shit gets old, fast.

      IMHO blackops drops were completely OP even before the local nerf, while also not presenting much opportunity for interesting gameplay (waiting around for ages to bridge, then bridging and F1’ing with a bomber or Loki is not exactly thrilling stuff). If I were CCP I’d have re-worked bombers a long time ago so they couldn’t be used in blops drops (the investment to DPS ratio / mobility is ridiculously skewed) either by taking torp launchers off the ships (leaving them as “bombers”) or just making them un-bridgeable. Lokis are a little less offensive IMO since at least the attacker is fielding ships that are worth something (significant ISK / potential for SP loss) and are easier to counter-attack than a cloud of bombers.

      July 12, 2019 at 1:57 am
      • Havish Montak Ganthrithor

        If the botters stop that is good. They need to make money to sub so its going to be a pressure on them.

        In regards to the rorquals under a super umbrella. Welp Squad is used to that. I usually try to snag multiple targets and force the drops. Then when they are committed move on. Inhibs up and eventually a cap in the drop bounces and we kill it or a rorqual dies due to shit tank.

        I find blops work highly entertaining. But that’s my opinion so can’t counter your opinion. Time will tell on that one.

        I see all your points and raise you that people will move to low sec. The anoms are more spread out in the region but local is online. Maybe this will make lowsec more active if the black out is permanent.

        July 12, 2019 at 7:06 am
        • I’ve truly never really done much in lowsec other than travel through it–are the anoms there actually of sufficient quality to be worth running?

          Yeah, it’s possible to game people’s response fleets (also simply by tackling tons of dudes over a short period of time and forcing the defending fleet to build up AIDS to the point where most of them log off), but IDK, I’ve just never found that kind of work fun. There’s not much challenge, it’s just repetitive.

          On the other hand, I suppose if people’s PvE experiences are globally disrupted, at least snagging the kill on a Rorq or ratting cap will feel a little more worthwhile? Part of the reason I soured so hard on drop ops was that the kills just felt so irrelevant– everyone has been making so much money that a carrier kill feels like about as much of an accomplishment as blapping a T1 cruiser did back when I started. Unless you’re killing a supercarrier or titan, nothing really feels like it’s worth the time to hunt anymore.

          July 13, 2019 at 5:09 am
          • Garreth Vlox Ganthrithor

            The lowsec anoms are crap and drop meh loot. If this change annoys people enough to leave null it will be in the form of them leaving game not going to a different part of the game.

            July 13, 2019 at 9:30 pm
          • Seraph IX Basarab Garreth Vlox

            They should just adapt.

            July 14, 2019 at 6:27 pm
          • Do you have anything meaningful to add to the conversation?

            July 14, 2019 at 7:19 pm
  • Noob

    How’s that high sec embargo coming along?

    July 12, 2019 at 12:25 am
  • Xar

    The funniest part for me is the notion that this will signal the end of ratting bots. True many of the “commercial” bots will fall – but those of us that develop our own scripts have found new solutions and re-coded.

    Also some bots *cough* fight back
    https://youtu.be/6IEdr6OHA9c

    July 12, 2019 at 1:06 am
  • Total Newbie

    Ganks are not, nor have they ever been “stagnant”. They will continue, and I suppose be easier now… Null sec wars/mass conflict is stagnant, because it’s too easy to troll entosis shit when the cat’s away or hit shit, casing split operations. Coming back from a deployment and having to fix all your shit makes the act of deploying cancer, thus making the game stagnant.

    July 12, 2019 at 4:47 am
  • Garreth Vlox

    So two days now of roaming, started in fade > deklein > branch > tenal > cobalt edge > Oasa > the spire > insmother > detorid. I spotted a grand total of 4 supers pos’d up, 1 cloaky prospect, 4 pos’d/tethered VNI’s and a rorq fleet using miner I’s. 9 regions, more than 100 jumps from start to where I wound up as a result of checking all the pockets I passed for anything I could try and shoot at and nothing. This “test” isn’t just annoying, its now boring.

    July 13, 2019 at 9:49 am
    • Guilford Australis Garreth Vlox

      CCP is going to get what it asked for – and they’ll get it good and hard. I’m not aware of any other game developer on planet Earth whose ethos is “We’ll make the game we think people should play and hector them if they don’t sufficiently appreciate it” rather than “We’ll make a game people actually want to play.”

      July 13, 2019 at 8:23 pm
      • I don’t know that you can hold that against them: eventually some player or group of players will suggest every shit change in the world– it’s the developers’ jobs to pick and choose good suggestions (or come up with their own ideas). It’s just that CCP have consistently made poor and random choices because they don’t understand what they (or us) want their game to be. Their list of villains changes constantly, often in contradictory ways.

        I feel like CCP need to go find themselves another Soundwave– somebody who appreciates the aspects of EVE that historically made the game unique– and then let them impose a particular vision on the game. I’m not saying CCP should never listen to player feedback, but somebody has to decide what kind of game they’re trying to make by articulating some form of vision for high-, low- and null-sec space and then seeing that the game develops in that direction. This listless, change-for-change’s sake style of development we’ve seen over the last few years is a waste of time, and they seem to have a knack for picking arbitrary changes that are particularly toxic to the game’s long-term viability. I don’t know why they’re seem so incapable of anticipating player reactions to their game design changes.

        July 13, 2019 at 9:21 pm
        • Garreth Vlox Ganthrithor

          “It’s just that CCP have consistently made poor and random choices
          because they don’t understand what they (or us) want their game to be.
          Their list of villains changes constantly, often in contradictory ways.”

          Perfect summary of the last 16 years. They are bad an anticipating changes because they aren’t trying to anticipate anything. They don’t have a vision of where the game should be in 1 year, 2 years or 10 because they are re-actively designing the game in response to people bitching on the forums instead of proactively building a game to attract players who like what they have communicated they will build towards.

          July 13, 2019 at 9:28 pm
    • It’s almost like a reasonable person could’ve anticipated that people would generally find being tackled by player ships that are undetectable until appearing on grid with zero warning would be an un-satisfying experience.

      I can’t even with CCP. I mean, there’s enough salt from people whining about AFK cloaking over the last ten years to reconstruct the entire Himalaya range– and that’s with a blatant indicator of hostile presence sitting right on people’s screens. How did CCP think the same people who are too risk-averse to deal with the knowledge that one potentially-hostile character is in system are going to handle the omnipresent potential of unlimited, un-knowable enemies?

      I’m sure there will be some people who work up the courage to go back into the fields as the “test” drags on, but I suspect for every person who cowboys up, there are going to be four or five who just stop logging in.

      July 13, 2019 at 9:30 pm
  • zeenkz

    I think that periodic local outages in any region of space are acceptable. Using the Drifters as a mechanism to interrupt local is a clever backstory. The intermittent outages lure more bots out into the open for hunting. Permanent blackout radically changes the behavior of players who don’t exist under a super umbrella. In other words, Delve will be just fine but the rest of us have lost an element of our gameplay that provided the hunters their prey. I’d already stopped ratting in a carrier some months ago when our space got too hot. Downgraded to a VNI to chill between fleets.

    I’ll be watching the concurrent logins to see how this will turnout. The July Economic Report will also be interesting to see. I suspect the nullsec renter economy is in some peril.

    July 17, 2019 at 6:21 pm
  • Jason Ross

    It’s still going on our null sec corp and alliance stay dock and are waiting it out what CCP had planned for is now a joke. Wormholes are safer then null now and the player count is taking a massive swan dive. Everytime CCP messes with the original programming of the game eg nerfing the intercepters they kill off players. I don’t get why I came back now that the server is a dead zone.

    August 24, 2019 at 1:27 pm