PVP in EVE is not (generally) a game of kill- to loot- to get rich. Oftentimes, new players asking how older players make ISK will be under the impression that a substantial living can be made off of killing people for the loot dropped from their destroyed ships. A quick perusal of killmails generated in lowsec and nullsec space will generally lead one to draw the conclusion that most people that engage in PVP, try to do so at minimal cost to themselves. The old adages, “Don’t fly what you can’t afford to lose” and “If you undock it, you’ve already lost it” come to mind.
So then why do it? Why do people in EVE kill on such a massive scale, if not for immediate profit? Of course there are pirates that ransome for ISK, and the dreaded suicide gankers in hisec. But the vast majority don’t even intend on picking up the loot of their conquests. And herein lies the key to my argument. At the end of the day, we PVP for the sake of PVP. The actual risk of assets, the understanding that losing a ship is ultimately final, and that killing an enemy’s ship is just as final for that player, resonates with a great number of us. We want to shoot other sentient human beings because when we win, we cause actual and measurable damage to their game. And that is the core of the core; it can be measured. Killmails are the depiction of one pilot’s actual measured loss at the hands of other pilots. Battle reports and war summaries are the measure of one group’s loss at the hands of another. Want to know who won the battle of B-R5RB? Look at the numbers. Want to know who won the battle at the Keepstar in M-0EE8? Looking at the numbers we have available leaves us asking a big question: How much was in the Keepstar when it was destroyed? How much had to be paid to retrieve those assets? The true measure of victory or defeat at that battle is not contained in the battle report, and this, in my opinion, is a severe flaw that overlooks why entities in EVE engage in PVP.
So now that I’ve covered what I feel is the main motivation for engaging in PVP and highlighted why besieging and destroying a citadel generally misses that motivation, here is my solution in a nutshell:
Tell me how much ISK it costs the enemy to retrieve their assets. Right at the bottom where, on a ship’s killmail, it lists the estimated insurance payout and the bounty paid (if any), tell me the total value of assets that were inside when it exploded, and give an estimated cost to retrieve those assets. This gives us a measure of the pain we’ve managed to inflict. A more true killmail.
There is, of course, one problem with this method that I can foresee, which lies within the following mechanic: “After 5 days a player can choose to have the assets delivered to an NPC station, outpost, or Citadel in the same system the assets were originally located, free of charge.” The ease of anchoring citadels en-masse could, in some cases, make my solution untenable. How can you measure the losses of your opponents if they simply juggle the assets around in the same system? The mechanic, of course, would need to be re-worked to ensure that when a citadel is destroyed, the pilots with assets inside pay a price, regardless of whether or not they have other structures available in-system.
At the end of the day, EVE is about building sandcastles for some, and kicking them over for others. The builders like to count how many grains of sand were compiled to complete the castle. The destroyers want to know the same information when they kick it over. Give us that information, and perhaps we can all be satisfied.