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.
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… 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.