Monday, November 28, 2011

Macros, Incursions and null-sec, oh my!

I was going to add "massive whining" or "tear fountains" to the title too, but I think it ruins the flow, so I left them out.

     T'other day, I was schmutzing around teh intarnetz, and I came across this article.  Fairly articulate article, but far from an accurate picture, I think.  Of course it spawned all the sad little "YEAH!  What he fuckin' said!"s, but again, a fairly small minded, narrow minded perspective from people who have apparently forgotten a lot about what the content of Eve actually is.  They've decided that since their own personal style of play has turned into boring tedium, or a style of play in null sec that is no longer fun, then everyone in Eve should have to change so that they can have fun again.  Apparently, they are oblivious enough to not understand that if they run around in blobs shooting everything that moves, in due course, there won't be people moving anymore so as not to get blobbed.  That's a surprise??  The guys that are so in love with null sec, and drove so many people out of it, and now they don't want to play in null sec anymore.  Too funny!  Totally typical though.

     It doesn't take too long to learn that null sec is fucked up the way it currently sits.  It isn't because of Eve, it's because of the players.  It's an automatic response by people both in games and in life to twist, and manipulate, and exploit, and discover, how to maximize effect while minimizing effort.  It's what people do.  We breathe, we eat, we shit, oh yeah, and we fuck shit up, whine about it, move over to somewhere that shit isn't fucked up, fuck that up too, whine some more, rinse, repeat.  Game designers, CCP in this example, are engaged in a constant campaign to find ways to prevent people from fucking up the game mechanics.  Implement enough sandboxiness to generate a sufficient, and engaging amount of feudalism and controlled chaos, but not so much as to create anarchy.  After all, it is THEIR game and if players fuck the game bad enough, for long enough, players will leave because it's fucked up.

     For people that don't have their heads up their ass when conversations about null-sec happen, you frequently see the term "isk faucet".  Usually, the losers people running around looking for a solo null-sec miner or ratter to gank with a 10 man fleet is oblivious to this, because they're busy playing like a "real man"!  "PVP!  HOOOOWAHHHH!  None of that fuckin' pussy care bear, high sec bullshit for me!"  So anyway, what are the isk faucets that the alliances make use of?  Well, there's the mining.  And the ratting.  And the manufacturing.  And the complexes.  And the system rentals.  And the Incursions.  In short, all the biggest, best and most lucrative operations, can be found in null sec.  The whiners seemingly don't realize that there's a huge part of game content that doesn't exist in high sec, even though they whine that high sec players "get too much with minimal/no risk".  Biggest, most powerful ships?  Not in high sec.  Best, most lucrative loot drops?  Not in high sec.  Best Incursion payouts?  Not in high sec.  Most lucrative ore to mine?  Not in high sec.  Highest rat bounties?  Not in high sec.  Most lucrative manufacturing opportunities?  Not in high sec.  Richest moons and planets?  Not in high sec.  How many examples do I need to give?  Seriously, they need to get a fucking clue.  So, with all these isk fountains, when it came to the sanctums, they were seemingly the worst examples, again NONE in high sec, so CCP put a handle on that particular faucet and closed the flow down a bit.  Like any other change in a sandbox though, it had peripheral effects that were tough to anticipate in the Eve environment.  If people have some fairly easy, safe sources of game income removed, they'll find new ones.  In the case of all this whining, the new one is high sec Incursions.  There are more factors than just the Incursions because there are Incursions in null sec and low sec too, and THOSE Incursions are even MORE lucrative than the high sec ones!  So, why are all the whiners crying about JUST the high sec Incursions?

     In null sec, there's basically only a few uber alliances that control the sweetest property and they make truck loads of cash doing it.  You are either in one of the big dog alliances, proper, or you are one of their vassals and they tolerate your alliance's ass because you are a meat shield between them and their potential enemies, you are making them more money than you are costing them, or, usually, both.  They will peck and poke at each other every once in a while so players and CCP will think (hopefully) that null sec is still this cool and vibrant and volatile area of the game that it maybe used to be, but their serious efforts of fucking with people are in other areas of null sec, where there are more weak alliances, they aren't anywhere near as powerful as the big dogs and their vassals/renters, and the big dogs can take and lose unimportant pieces of territory, do their pvp thing, and it looks like they're trying to play the sovereignty game.  They are cleverly, or trying to be, making sure that they don't take TOO much territory so that it is too obvious that there are too few places left to contest, and that too few alliances control too much space.  This will bring too many loud cries from the players, which will draw too much notice of CCP, and then they will step in and change things.  The two big power blocks don't want change, and I question whether even CCP really wants too much change in the way things are, because in the end, it's about paying the bills for CCP.  It's still a business.

     Yawn, so WTF does this have to do with incursions again?  Well, where are the low sec Incursions, for starters?  They are in areas where an Incursion runner stands a very high chance of being ganked while trying to have fun, earn isk, or both.  If the Incursions get run, it is by an alliance of low sec organizations and/or pirates, and rarely, by a high sec group that has managed to elude notice for a period of time.  After all, it's extremely easy to see the traffic numbers in an Incursion, and it's pretty safe to assume that there will be an inviting number of high price boats in the area.  Cue the hyenas.  The null sec alliances end up getting run by the alliances that control the area.  Anyone else that goes in there, not blue, or not agreed upon, is dead.  Pretty simple.  While the whiners complain about the amount of isk earned in high sec, no one complains about the HIGHER amount of isk that they farm, which can be double or MORE.  No, they don't complain when the Incursion lands in their back yard, they only complain when THEY can't farm them or, because the other peopel that can't farm them have cloned up to high sec to an Incursion they CAN farm.  That leaves the Incursion-complainers with no one to blob, poor things.  Again, nerf/reduce/remove the high sec Incursions, and the geniuses believe that will drive the null Incursion runners back into null, and bring a lof of high sec players into low and null sec because they "have no choice" or reduced choices for good isk income.  Reality, boys, reality.  Maybe they aren't interested in a boring sovereignty mechanism where all they have to look forward to is grinding on structure or getting blobbed.  Duh.  Hard to see reality or reason over top of the gun sight though.  If the incursions go away, there'll be a new reason come up with to spend time in high sec, and when the high sec reasons to stay out of null sec get weak enough, they'll likely just quit instead, and then the poor little PVPers STILL won't have anyone to shoot at.

     The supposedly hard core PVP fans could be the big men they like to talk they are, and roll into another null sec region and do their Incursion, or even a low sec incursion, but that would involve RISK.  They know what would happen.  The big, bad PVPers would get their ass handed to them unless they could drop carriers and Titans on them, and have a stupidly huge blob fleet to protect their ass.  So, no wonder there are so many null sec players running the high sec Incursions.  They can run all of them if they want - minimal risk, decent rewards.  No blobs.  No assholes (or very few - that are mostly identified).  No griefers (or very few and are quickly identified and blacklisted).  That’s also why the people that claim that there are incredible amounts of isk to be made are full of shit.  IF you can get to an Incursion and there are amazingly few people running it, and IF it stays that way, then sure, you can make 100 million an hour.  Usually though, you are contesting every VG site, and that means you could likely run level 4 distribution missions and make more money an hour, and certainly more running level 4 combat sites.  Side note - what about level 5 missions?  Oh, NOT IN HIGH SEC.  They're also full of shit when they claim that only uber, elitist fleets are formed.  That's true if you want to be lazy, take minimum responsibility, want to jump on someone else's coat tails and just sit there and mash buttons while you watch a movie, but anyone can make a fleet.  That though, just adds to the traffic jams and further reduces your income per hour, along with everyone else's.

     But wait!  If null sec is so cool and awesome, and where all the cool players go, and it's claimed to be more relaxing to play in your very own blue space, and so much more relaxing with no Concord or griefers running around like low sec, why are there so many complaints about null, from null, which is the most lucrative isk zone in the entire game?  Because null sec is broken.  It isn't broken for everyone though, apparently mainly just the people who fixate on a single aspect of the game, and that is blowing shit up.  More specifically though, it's seemingly ONLY about blowing shit up that generates a kill mail.  Run around in big blobs, blowing up sovereignty structures, and blobbing the shit out of other players?  Wow!!  How is that not fun!!  At first it likely is, but obviously not for everyone, and not for everyone for forever.  For high sec players that have no innterest in that kind of play, ever or at least so far, it isn't fun.  Big surprise that random PVP opportunities are drying up and very few of the "loser high sec care bears" want go down to low and null sec to get jumped by a blob of epeen players.  The "big dog" pvpers that are crying, are the source of their own gaming problems.  Most will likely be too thick to realize that, or more importantly admit that.  Instead of embracing what could possible be a character developing and maturing opportunity, in a real life sense, their absolutely "brilliant" solution is to force everyone down into their area of game play, by nerfing isk earning opportunities, so the crying pvpers have someone to shoot.  The amazing thing?  They thought of that, ALL ON THEIR OWN!  XD  High sec incursions aren't broken, null sec is.

     So, not all of the alliances operate in the same way, but the biggest power brokers didn't get to be the biggest power brokers by having the mentality of an 8 year old like the whining PVPers.  There are renter and vassal organizations who manage to do well when they keep their heads down, or manage to parry and/or re-direct moments of conflict, but usually, everyone gets bit at some point.  At some point, amnesty or invisibility wears out.  The trick, is finding the balance of how big you need to be to be relatively safe, so be able to scare off most aggressors, but stay small enough to not be a trheat to the big dogs, and keep on the edge of the radar, or better yet, off it.  But the "big dogs", they understand the balance that CCP tries to maintain between keeping players reasonably happy and keeping the real life money coming in.  And that's why there are botters and macros.  Only the same 8 year old mentalities are missing the fact that every macro account out there is also a paying subscription.  CCP knows this.  The botters know this.  The biggest power brokers know this.  Every so often, CCP makes some announcements FIRST, and then goes and bans a pile of accounts.  Eve players cheer!  The big dogs and botters cheer publicly too.  BUT, because the accounts get lots of notice before being banned, assets get laundered to other accounts, new accounts are created, a small lag in time as skills are brought back up, and business returns to "normal".  Small blip in the money graph for the botters.  Why would the biggest power brokers decide to fuck around with 100% player population in their corps and alliances, and have to deal with all their stupid ideas and whining, when it is easier to generate income with a bunch of alt accounts and some bots?  The systems that alliances own and control don't need players in them.  They don't WANT players in them.  The fewer people there are around, the easier it is to run ratting and mining bots.  That's where there's a shit load of isk.  Bots are smart.  Bots are dedicated and focused 100% on task.  They aren't going to be watching fuckin LOL Cats instead of scanning local.  They aren't going to bail on you because their girlfriend wants to get some trim.  They see another boat in system, they get the fuck out of dodge.  They are going to pull in isk, all day, every day, no complaints and they are going to pay for their own subscription every month, a thousand times over.  And they do that.  And that's why such a huge chunk of that botting effort gets converted into real life cash.  There are "professional" Eve players and by "professional", I mean they make enough money by selling isk and game items for real money that they don't need an actual job.  CCP knows about these dudes too.  They have the logs.  They know what accounts are on 23.5 hours a day, 7 days a week.  If a player like me can use any one of the myriad of Eve sites on the net to see that there are tens of thousands of rat kills, like clockwork, EVERY SINGLE DAY in the Russian drone regions and in the Goonswarm regions, it's pretty much 100% guaranteed so can CCP.  All the whining about high sec bots is a laughable distraction from where the real problem is, but it's a smart and handy distraction.  How much can a high sec bot make an hour by ratting or mining?  2 million?  4 million?  Please!!!  Multiply those numbers by 100 in null sec.  It's a clever distraction though because the new players, and narrowly focused high sec bears, are pretty much oblivious to where the REAL botting is going on and how much money THEY are bringing in, and the big null sec boys like that, and CCP probably isn't going to say too much either.  Big rich alliances, buying PLEX, are good for both CCP business and for PR when the epic battles and to's and fro's take place in null.  Look at null!  Be rich!  Fly a Titan!  Change the course of Eve!  Even with the black market PLEXs that are bought outside of the official PLEX vendors, or the isk that is bought with real money to pay for PLEX, small minds need to understand that there is only ONE source for the PLEX in the first place!  CCP.

     Hence the balancing act.  The huge alliances will control as much null space as possible without pissing off players and invoking the wrath of CCP.  Guarding their core space allows safe and regular operation of bots.  The bots are not helping the game economy, but most players still think they will eventually get a chance to run with the big dogs just by good old fashion hard work, and the economy tends to stabilize itself, even with the bots.  Players will say fuck that if they realize that so many accounts and organizations are getting ahead faster with bots, than they will ever get with regular play - not good.  CCP tries to gauge a workable quantity of null sec botters that isn't high enough in numbers to break the game, they hope, but is still high enough to generate decent game income for them.  Real money trading (RMT) is always going to be around, and always has been, in just about every game, but CCP wants to try to keep a handle on it so that the RMT purchases don't skew the in-game economy to the point that it pisses players off, or it crashes the game economy, or both.  All this information is out there.  People just have to be genuinely interested enough to find it, and then read it.  It's the meta game.  High sec Incursions aren't the problem.

     The biggest sources of income are in null sec, yet there are so many null sec players going to high sec to make isk.  Why is that??  Where is all the isk going that is being made in null?  Who's getting it?  Who's controlling it?  If pvp is such a great part of Eve in null, why are so many up in high sec so often trying to earn isk?  Too few alliances in null, controlling too much power and money are the problem.  Just like real life.  And just like real life, the rank and file will get fucked in Eve, too.  And oh, look!  One of those big dog alliance dudes, along with a number of his buddies, are controlling the group that speaks to CCP on the players' behalf!  Wouldn't it be the craziest thing, if guys like The Mittani were playing "THE" ultimate scam in Eve, on Eve itself?  Any one of the alliances or vassals or corps could bring the "fun" back to null sec, all they need to do is grab their balls and go carve out a spot and claim it, and then defend it.  That's very easy to say, obviously, but there would be a whole lot of that pvp they're crying for.  In reality, the whiners are looking for easy mode.  Stay under a big umbrella, blob the shit out of anything that undocks, and try to force people to stand in front of them while they shoot.

The Point?  It's the Dunning-Kruger effect.  Do you want the red pill, or the blue pill?

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