Wormhole Overhaul Part 1

In my last post, I threatened to take the brakes off and suggest wild ideas that bring life back (?) to wormhole life.  I even started a long, rambling post that quoted scientific papers.  Just in case this blog ever gets popular, I shall post it and basements all over the world will resound with the thumps of neckbeards hitting the floor, asleep.

Instead, let me give you the tl/dr (that means, “too long, don’t read” in internet parlance) right away.

Renewing Wormhole Space

Ok, so Wormhole Space has received a few small cosmetic changes in the recent Hyperion patch.  Considering that Wormholes had seen virtually no attention for years it was hailed as a major change.  But the recent announcements showed that CCP devs are not afraid anymore of making sweeping changes.  Lets have some for us, please.

But why?  Wormhole is fine?  Right?  My friend TurAmarth had commented here, begging that CCP please leave Wormhole space alone.  Its good as it is.  Its a fair point, Wormhole mechanics and the fight styles they force are still the best mechanic that EVE has.  Wormholes were a stroke of genius.  Don’t break it.

I don’t intend to.  But wormhole space is not in good space.  My corp can attest to hundreds of routes scanned without finding anyone, dozens of C3s with more holes in them than a Chicago politician’s income statement.   The sheer number of wormholes has already burned out some of our scanners who log in, look at something like the route below and log into their high-sec industry characters.

CCP assumed that making more holes creates more player interaction.  This was mistake.  To get more player interactions we need more players.

 

A normal day in New Eden

A normal day in New Eden

Its not doom & gloom.  We have fun, we shoot things and are being shot at.  But life in Wormhole space has been made a lot more complicated without giving more incentives.  For us permanent residents its fine, we just adapt and soldier on.  But for newbros to come in, its a bit different.  Wormholes need to compete with the various empire spaces for the limited number pilots of new Eden and the pathetic trickle of truly new players.

So, how do we compete?  What could lure a player into our space?

Firstly, what do people actually want to do in New Eden?  The simple answer would be “good fights” or “ISK” or something along those lines.  Not very satisfying.  The motivation for players to overcome the logistical challenges it takes to move into Wormhole space, we need to offer something much more exciting than the Team Fortress-style of PvP that RvB, Brave or low sec pirates have.  I am going on a limb here and postulate that pilots want more than ISK or Kills. Most of us want to experience achievements of figuring out a puzzle, overcoming odds and contributing to our chosen peer group. Those are not necessarily PvP or PvE goals, they can be applied to either and both are equally valid.

Industry and Resource Gathering

Lets start with Industry of which I know nothing at all.  In fact, I know less about it than about PvP which is hard to believe.  True, I assure you.  But I do know that it is engaging, profitable and entertaining to a large player base as a full time profession.  Many of our guys manufacture things in wormhole space as a hobby but there isn’t really anything they are doing they could not be doing easier in high security or nullbear space.  There is nothing compelling about Wormhole space that would make an industrial player move in.  How to fix that?

First of all mining is considered suicidal nowadays.  The ore sites are anomalies – means they do not have be scanned down, the K162 spawns when the hostile fleet jumps through and the mining is as boring in Wormhole space as it is in empire space.  If the risk is up but the reward is the same, the system is out of balance.  I like risk, so lets keep that.  Lets increase reward.  Lets make Ore in Wormhole space compressed, lets make the cycle time of the mining lasers faster, lets make the amount mined / cycle higher.  Those seem to be reasonably easy tweaks that could attract proper mining fleets back into wormhole space, adding friends, fleets and targets.  Other resources could be tweaked also.  I can’t see a reason to disallow Ice mining  – make it an ice that is not used for POS fuel if you want.  Moon mining, why not?  Moons could have a resource layer – just like planets – that eventually depletes.  When it is depleted it does not necessarily re-spawn in the same system. Same constellation, maybe.  Means, there are real reasons to scout in Wormhole space and invade, take over or negotiate for access.  There are also real reasons to defend, recruit mercenaries and to form roaming gangs that threaten or extort those that have moons.

Back to industry.  There is nothing you can build in wormhole space that you can not build anywhere else.  Lets change that.  The easiest way is of course to add a new item that can not be manufactured at all and make its manufacture exclusive for wormhole space.  Examples?  How about implants?  Wormhole players are by nature sociopaths.  I would propose a manufacturing array that reprocesses BioMass (=corpses) and harvests the components for implants.  The manufacture of implants then happens with the existing blueprint system – also limited to Wormhole space.  Ghoulish?  Disgusting?  Exactly.  If the empire pilots are too squeamish, wormhole pilots will take care of  it.  I can see transport ships full of frozen corpses silently making their way across the universe.  Oh man, the RP you could do with this…

Another industry is of course skill book copying.  Skillbooks exist in the game, seemingly an endless supply.  While not as sexy as fermenting corpses, it could be a nice, safe cottage industry to make skillbooks from e.g. gas and PI material and export them back to empire space.

I am sure there are more examples of manufacturing and harvesting that could be exclusive to Wormhole space.  The point here is to draw people into our realm, not just as helpless targets but as players who enjoy living in our space and become permanent residents.

PvE

Its complete nonsense to assume that Wormhole space is all about shooting other players.  PvE is important, to make ISK of course but also to practice flying as a fleet.  Maybe  this is not the case today, but it should be.

CCP already addresses this in the next few patches.  Data and Relic Sites are being balanced and C1-3 holes are buffed by getting hacking sites from nullsec added. Those are do not have rats and therefore are easy to solo.  They add much-needed income to permanent residents in these holes and also add incentive for empire dwellers to fly in these holes.  This is an excellent start.  Lets add a few obvious items, for example escalations for C1-4 holes – instead of capitals, lets choose Battleships and for C1, Battlecruisers.  The idea is that the sites should be more valuable than they are currently but that the team running them should also have to put more ISK on the grid and increase its risk.  While there, I have never been comfortable with the sleeper (rats in general) mechanic. They are way too predictable.  I would like to see some sites with great potential reward but with entirely unknowable trigger mechanic.  Running these sites should be a hair-raising activity for a well-prepared fleet of expensive (relative to the hole class, of course) ships.  PvE should mimic PvP as much as possible  and I am encouraged that CCP already started this process by adding Burner missions. Apparently, they are hard and their reward is equally in ISK and in bragging rights – exactly how it should be.  Similar PvE experiences exclusive to Wormhole Space should be relatively easy to design.

 

End of Part 1

Well, I guess I could keep going and add Exploration and PvP.  But I think I have vented enough crazyiness for now and I reload over the week and deal with that in a separate post.

 

PS. I love the new T3 Destroyers.

 

The Vikings are back

Well, here we are – CCP announced changes to long distance travel in low and nullsec space. The overall intent was to create more activity in nullsec and whether that cunning plan will work or not shall be seen.  A few years ago I would have found the threadnaughts amusing and might have idly followed the blogosphere for entertainment.  But I just don’t care.  Nullsec is too far away from my wormhole and their woes shall not concern me.  Sure, sure, some will unsubscribe a few of their dozen accounts but I doubt EVE will be worse off.

But there is one thing that is incredibly positive about the upcoming change.  Not the jump fatigue or other gimmick.  No, the most encouraging news is that CCP have their mojo back.  After Incarna, I truly feared CCP had lost its vision, its purpose and its Viking guts for glory.  Expansions became patches and patches became bug fixes, even the players lowered their expectations.  A subtle change of some arcane mechanic (spawn distance from a wormhole based on mass) made huge waves.  Copying and pasting the hole code from C2 to C4 was hailed as a massive game changer (it wasn’t).  We, players, CCP and CSM lowered our expectations what EVE could be right to the floor.

But no more.  CCP is back, guided by Seagull, the Vikings donned their horned helmets, drank their mead, grabbed their battleaxes and rewrote Nullsec, staring down the most powerful player blocs EVE has ever seen.

Now that the ice has been broken – we all are allowed to think big again. No more “W-space little things” Mr Corbexx, release the hounds.

My next post will focus on some ideas that have been rattling in my head for some time.  They seemed too outlandish to write down.  No more.

The gnats are swarming

Its Sunday night and I just spent my 1 1/2 hour game time to scan down the chain from our hole to K-space. Not sure why I bothered, I didn’t have anything to do there and virtually all holes that I encounter these days are devoid of people to trade shots with.  Except of course that C6 into which I stuck my CovOps nose (I now scout with a CovOps, there are so many signatures these days I am really tired of the unbonused T3 or bombers I normally use).  Anyway, the C6 was occupied – mining operation in full swing.  Of course.  If they were doing anything else (sleepers), they would have crushed the hole to our C4 neighbor.  I warped to the POS at range but some clever positioning of a bubble with lots of combat drones scattered decloaked me.  If I had been in my T3, it could have gotten ugly.  But my little Helios backed up nicely and I got away without issues.  The damage however was done, Legion, Legion, Proteus… spawned all around me.  I banked that they didnt know where I came from and warped to zero km onto the hole home, jumped on contact and went into slow, cloaky orbit.  And yes, there comes the scout, some Buzzard to check out where I went.  Cloaked, mate, I am a bad pilot but not that bad.

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shrinking is good

If you have time to listen to one Podcast, make it Declaration of War.  Its entertaining, informative and highly polished.

If you have time for 2 podcasts, either add Hydrostatic Podcast or High Drag – both are funny and mix up the topics quite a bit.  Crossing Zebras and the host’s pretend professionalism and relentless nullsec focus gets old.

Wormhole space only has one podcast – Down the Pipe.  While informative to me – I live in a Wormhole – its chestbeating for PvP and “content” (=site runners getting murdered by a fleet 10 times their size) is getting a tad old.  But the recent roundtable was indeed excellent, as the Blogger Eminence grise Kirith Kodachi noted.  The funny thing is, I too  thought it was excellent – but for very different reasons.

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Lost in Translation

I commented before on the new Wormhole Spawn rate – it has indeed slowed down a little but we still have many connections leading to scanner burn-out and of course extremely long and tedious chains.  But they also seem to be leading to more content and corporations adapt swiftly and efficiently.  Our site running team for example tested a new mixed PvE / PvP fit that promised to be highly successful and resilient to hostile action.  It may need a little tweaking but in theory it works perfectly.

Anyway, I am wandering around and scan down a new C5 which leads to a C4 (among several NS holes, a frigate hole, an EOL C1…).  The C4 seems promising, it has a C2 static and I stroll in, see what the locals are up to.  Oh, look.  A Raven on Dscan, not aligned with a tower / bubble.

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Oversteering

Well, Hyperion had one effect for certain – the total number of wormhole connecting “things” has gone up dramatically.  Other bloggers picked up on this as well.  Where we used to have pretty short chains (C4->C3->Empire), I shall here present you with a screen shot of our mapping tool.  It outlines a typical week-night with 2 people scanning – there were many more connections that did not make it on the map because of ~ effort ~.

 

Many Holes

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Hyperion and Wormholes Part 2

I wrote about my early impressions on Hyperion from the perspective of someone who actually lives in a C4 and flies with a quite small corporation.  As I mentioned, Hyperion changes – like all changes to EVE – benefit larger outfits more than smaller one. CCP is perfectly open in that – larger corporations create larger fights, create more press, create more subscribers.

Corbexx is our active WH resident on CCP and therefore was kneedeep in the discussions of this patch.  He has published his impressions on the changes on his blog and I can’t feel but smug about his realization:

My small alt corp I have that makes T3 also has a C4 wormhole it had a C3 wormhole and was a really sweet place to relax, It had perfect PI me and 4 of my mates could easily run sites in there and pvp in the c3 if we wanted. The down side is with the patch we got our second static that was a C5. Now this sucks combined with the mass/distance change and the frig wh. we are basically screwed. As a small corp we really struggle to close the C5 with assuming we could all use orcas which we can’t it would still take 2 rounds to close it, with battleships 3 rounds, If there is any big group in that C5 we basically have no way at all of closing it safely.

Yeah, no shit, Sherlock.  Some of us saw this coming a mile away.  The changes to C4 are not designed to keep carebear or alt corps in C4.  The changes bring C4s on the level of C2s, non-stop vigilance and PvP with very limited ability to make ISK.  Many dedicated carebear corporations will certainly see the sign and move out, I have no doubt about that.  Whether they will be replaced by larger, more PvP-centric outfits remains to be seen.  Again,Corbexx agrees with this:

We’ve not the only ones having this issue. So are others and I see others leaving. However while some move out others will hopefully move in as its potentially a decent PvP wormhole for small groups. This is why for the dual statics I’m happy to pay the price for this change.

Isn’t that charming?  Our CSM candidates suffers because his alt can’t farm his C4 in peace any more because massive PvP corporations (like the one from his main) now have easy access to him.  That’s called “content”.  My heart bleeds for Corbexx and members of these “elite” corporations that need to have “alt-holes” since they are too big to earn enough ISK from their main hole.  And you need that many people in one hole because how would you otherwise fly a 30 man fleet every night?

Well, poor us don’t have “alt holes”.  We live in one hole / corporation and we are an Alliance of such corporations.  We eat what we kill in our home and in our chains and there was a time when we actually too many members actively farming the resources.  C4s only support that many pilots.

In Hyperion, our little band of brothers certainly has seen the change.  I only logged in a couple of times (RL >> EVE) but instead of logging into a quiet backwater from which I scan for “content” (remind me to write a blog post on the use of “content” in EVE before the fad fades), I find myself in the middle of skirmishes, posturing, threats and suddenly opening holes.  Where we used to have a C3 static (and often just that), I could park and alt on the hole and do a quiet PI run with my main, read the BBC and drink coffee while taking a shower and getting dressed at the same time (I am exaggerating).  Them days are thoroughly over, me thinks.  We had at least 4 holes every time I log in and our chain is massive.  Each C3 seems to be making Swiss Cheese look solid and only our new C5 neighbors offer some predictability in that they only have their static or a nullsec to nowhere and nobody online.  Deep in our chain, we even murdered a Retriever in classic take-down.  Pity the fool who mines in WH space with this many holes connecting everything to everyone!

Retriever Takedown

 

And talking about mining – the days of pure PvE fleets are over as well.  As a C4 crew, we can’t just put 1 guy on the hole and watch D-scan, run sites and drink beer.  I guess to run C4 sites in our hole we need at least 6 human pilots online with 12 ships (not each, do we look like nullsec carebears?).  In addition to mandate dedicated times to organize corporation runs, it limits the amount of ISK that an individual pilot can make.  As I said before.  EVE is defined by Risk / Reward.  Risk has gone up a lot, Reward has staid where it was.  Even Corbexx and his alt corp notices it.

What does that do to us?  Well, our dedicated site runners have not logged on. We have a group of hard-core carebears who will strip a system clean with machine-like precision and help with fuel hauls and scanning but never go out of their way to engage in PvP.  We like our PvE crew, they generally keep our C4 free of pesky signatures and anomalies and they even used to mine so that the corp may build ships from the Ore.  Since Hyperion, nobody has seen them.  I would not be surprised if they had moved out for safer farming grounds in nullsec or one of the massive WH organizations that can afford to create total security in their home systems.

So, overall, the changes are exactly as predicted – smaller C4 organizations will have to change or get out, wormhole space has become a lot more dangerous for smaller groups in general and forces them to aggregate and become posturing blobs in order to pay the fuel bill.

I for myself have fun with it for now – I fly frigates and cheap crap (corp mate just sold me an Algos!), gone are my days of flying T3.  The income I make is nowhere near enough to pay for these ships but I can whelp the occasional bomber or destroyer.  And that I will!