Header art by Redline XIII
CCP recently began efforts to take EVE into an ‘Era of Chaos’. Part of this is aimed at breaking up the stagnation in nullsec with measures like the Blackout. But nullsec is not a uniform, featureless plain, and the Blackout is hitting some areas harder than others. This is especially true of areas under NRDS.
Before we dive into things, it might be useful to present a primer for those unfamiliar with NRDS.
There are three primary schools of thought when it comes to how players engage other players in New Eden. You may also have heard them referred to as Rules of Engagement or Codes of Conduct. These three primary schools are Not Blue, Shoot It, or NBSI; Not Purple, Shoot It (NPSI); and Not Red, Don’t Shoot (NRDS). Most players outside High Sec, regardless whether they realize it or not, subscribe to the NBSI school of thought. If someone is not known to be a friend, assume they are an enemy. NRDS takes the opposite view: don’t assume someone is hostile unless you know they are. Two ideas that are core to NRDS are Anti-Piracy and Open Borders. Naturally in a “dystopian” universe that encourages piracy and the “worst” in humanity, a stabilizing element would arise to go against the grain.
You may have heard of NRDS mentioned in the same sentence as ProviBloc. However, that is not the limit NRDS. NRDS communities have come and gone in New Eden, formed for different reasons over time. Often, this means capsuleer groups acting in lieu of Concord and Faction Police that you have in High Sec. In the sov null region of Providence, ProviBloc acts as the policing on behalf of the Amarr Empire. Provibloc’s capsuleer sovereignty is an extension of the Amarr Empire’s sovereignty. Electus Matari (an RP Minmatar Faction Warfare Alliance) acts as a policing element in Minmatar LowSec, with incursions into Great Wildlands on behalf of the Minmatar Republic. There are also smaller NRDS groups spread out in New Eden who do their work without Role-Playing element of being affiliated with any of the known NPC factions.
Making It Work
The core mechanics that have enable NRDS in-game are Local and standings. Local obviously, due the degree of open borders practice by NRDS, lets the community know who is in their jurisdiction. Over time, they can determine who is a random, regular, or resident. Knowing who is in your space is key to NRDS so the NRDS community may have the opportunity to interact with them positively. While neutrals have the freedom to do their own thing and never engage positively with NRDS organization, as long they do not engage negatively with anyone under NRDS, they will for the most part be left alone. Indirect cooperation can become direct in order to build the friendship machine. Local was the only sure way of knowing who was living in your space. Depending on what the neutral was doing in your space, they may not use any of your structures or services.
With standings, if you engage with the local NRDS organization positively and consistently you will earn positive standings. This means you can achieve, if you will, a renewing work visa (+5 standing), or permanent resident status (+10 standing). Given enough time and engagement, it can even lead to full citizenship by joining the local NRDS organization. Standings get you access to various in-game chat channels, restrictive markets, better tax rates, and several other benefits.
Negative interaction, such as firing upon non-red capsuleers unprovoked, hijacking a signature or anomaly site, or other obnoxious or hostile acts can get you set red (-5 or -10 standings). These can usually be referenced in a diplomatic/public channel or the NRDS organization’s website. Once this happens you are a legal target for anybody in that NRDS community to engage at will. If it was a mistake or you later have a change of heart and no longer want to be on the KoS list, you can contact the local NRDS and talk to their diplomats or KoS admin. In most cases the opportunity exists to SRP the loss, pay a fine, or have a probationary period with no pirate activity. It often depends on the context of your KoS listing and the Diplomat/KoS Admin you deal with.
The KoS List
There are a few challenges to maintaining a KoS list, especially one as old as CVA’s.
The first challenge is that an alliance can only have so many contacts. You can only have so many +10s, +5s, -5s, and -10s as an alliance. Provibloc, for example, has a Red Donut issue. They have maxed out their contact slots. This means they cannot set more capsuleers and organizations red. The contact limit can fill up pretty quick, even if you only do alliance and corps, instead of individuals. This is because when word gets out that your space is NRDS, people will likely make it a point to come looking for content.
The second challenge is setting individuals KoS who are created as disposable alts. Often, these are neutral alts in NPC corps. Because of the limits on alliance contacts, alliances usually do not have open slots to use on these individuals. In addition, NRDS communities will never set NPC corps red. The newbie, returning player, or other innocent in an NPC corp who hasn’t found a home yet should not be punished by actions of the few who try to take advantage of standing limitations to get kills. As a result, individual standings have to be set Red at the corporation or individual level.
The third challenge is syncing these contacts across a NRDS coalition. This led to the development of third-party standing databases where a player can look up an individual, corp, or alliance on a website to see if they were a legal target, true neutral, or friend, but they have to either tab out of the game or take their eyes off one display to another.
NRDS: The Gateway Drug
NRDS nullsec has been a gateway to nullsec for new players and veteran players alike, long before the rise of Pandemic Horde, Brave Newbies, and others. In Minmatar FW, Electus Matari’s NRDS provides a pathway for extending activity from lowsec into Great Wildlands. In sov-null, Providence has four connections to empire, the most connections of any NullSec Region. All other nullsec regions have at most one or two connections to empire. These pathways, combined with NRDS, enable capsuleers to experience and experiment in nullsec without getting caught in the larger political meta, having to sign up for third-party services, or being coerced to doing things they don’t want to do. In other parts of the game, you have to hand over ESI immediately, sign up for host of services, have to participate in a fleet, or pay rent. Depending on your experience you could stay in a place like Providence, or go deeper into null with a NBSI group with no meta repercussions. This why there is a need for strong and healthy NRDS community in NullSec that is close to Empire.
In a recent interview, CCP Falcon had this to say:
“I’m in the same boat as Hilmar. I hope in like 12 to 18 months, we’ve got, uh, an a chaos written, you know, hellscape on lunatics that are, they’re all having fun together and blowing shit all up. I mean, it would be wonderful to see EVE go back to sort of, you know, the, the 2007 to 2009.”
Ironically, this time was more or less the Golden Age of NRDS. There was a robust NRDS community in Providence, which one of the more densely populated regions in NullSec. There was also a solid NRDS community in Great Wildlands. This was despite the low security index, poor moons, geography that worked against you more often than not. Early NRDS communities formed out of mutual cooperation like the Coalition/Confederation (Data corruption from Blackout makes it unclear) of Free Stars, or role-playing reasons like C.V.A. or Electus Matari.
Nullsec Is Easy?
Most capsuleers today in ProviBloc core went NRDS to escape the “blue donut” political meta that plagues most of LowSec and NullSec space. They believe that NRDS is New Eden on Hard Mode due to the Red Donut that has developed over time and includes almost all capsuleer organizations outside HighSec, and the sheer number of pirates in the region. Even Rocket X’s Purple Helmeted Warriors, who were famous for whaling (faction capital, super, and titan hunting) have settled on farming Providence. Providence was never “too safe”. It has been burned to the ground several times, and rebuilt again and again. There has always been a good balance between the amount of pirates in the region and the amount of people living in the region. With the nature of NRDS you have to wait until someone does something to justify being listed as KoS, which usually involves losing ships before it happens.
Even with Local, intel channels, third party tools, and defensive roams people died regularly and in all kinds of ways due to pilot error. People have literally sat on a gate spamming in local and intel that there was a red camp on other side, but their peers would still jump into death. So when Local was removed from nullsec, NRDS—particularly Provibloc—lost a critical community tool more than an intelligence tool.
The New Dark Age
Black Out has been very detrimental for the NRDS community in NullSec. It was the pulling of the plug for what was left of the Great Wildlands NRDS community, which seems to be moving back to Empire. People disappeared from Providence almost over night. The only true neutrals that come into Providence now are explorers or escalations runners for the most part. Former non-core residents have disappeared leaving behind empty structures. Trying to figure out where they went is a challenge. Core and non-core member of Providence alike have stopped logging in. Some went to empire, and some have wagon-wheeled to safety in the blue donut of NullSec (GG CCP).
What’s left in Providence now is its PvP core who want to be in NullSec, but not part of the big blue donut. From the chatter in CVA/Sev3rance comms, the people that are left in NRDS nullsec are divided. Some do not want Local back the way it was. Some do, believing it is critical to the viability of NRDS. Others would prefer to have an actual delayed local connected to a structure and/or security index of the constellation or system, or a more robust D-Scan tool. Some want Region chat, Constellation, or something in between available to a NRDS community to see who is active in their space. That way, the residents could possibly interact with them to some degree like they did before the loss of Local, without actively hunting them down and possibly scaring them off. At the same time, that kind of solution would not take too much away from hunters.
There are segments of the community that hate the idea of structures, but in Providence, and other parts of nullsec, it’s a part of their meta to simulate what it is to build a space civilization. It seems odd to not know what is happening in your space, simply because the sandbox does not offer all of the infrastructure that may be possible in a futuristic space-based civilization.
Is There Hope?
Providence has never had the safety, or the dream of safety, that other nullsec regions have historically had. Nor does the NRDS community in Providence want it. The hope is that CCP will do two things. First, refine Local, or give a tool that the NRDS community could use with the loss of Local to help interact with the people in their space, while expanding the number of contacts an alliance can have and allow contact syncing so they do not have to resort to third-party tools for figuring out who is or is not in the Red Donut.
Second, we hope CCP will refine other factors in the game and nullsec to make them as vibrant as Providence. In the end, the focus of this article is to focus on NRDS issues—not Provibloc issues—with the Blackout. CCP can study it and see how NRDS counter plays NBSI and how Providence has generally been considered a balanced and vibrant sov null region even before the Blackout. Hopefully this may give insight to make the rest of nullsec and New Eden more vibrant, healthier game, and less of a big blue donut.