If the eviction of Hard Knocks (HK) had just one positive effect, it was the reassessment of Wormhole space in today’s New Eden; the New Eden of Citadels, skill injectors and Rorqual Mining.
Where did all start?
Wormholes were released in 2009 with the now famous “Apocrypha” expansion which also introduced T3 Cruisers and Sleepers with new behavior. As legend goes, Wormholes had not been designed to be settled permanently but of course we all know that Player-operated-structures (POS) served as an uncomfortable hunting camp. Wormhole exploration without corporate bookmarks and Pathfinder / Siggy was really painful and a niche game for some crazy masochists like yours truly. The appeal was of course that the ISK could be excellent, en-par with Incursions but without the WoW-style politics and “gear score” mechanics that Incursions require. Because Wormhole space was complicated, messy and harsh, it attracted few hardcore nerds into splintered corporations who – after a few years – all knew each other. For quite some time, Wormhole space was considered to be the most balanced space in EVE and was largely left alone while CCP messed around with Faction War, Nullsec and to some extent High Sec (especially industry).
And then came the changes designed to make Sov Nullsec “the EVE endgame”: Citadels with asset safety (in K-space), skill injectors, unlimited ISK with AFK Rorqual mining or carrier ratting and “Fozzie Sov” which aimed to break up the 2 or 3 powerblocks and foster more fights but of course achieved the exact opposite. Wormholes were largely untouched aside from annoying nonsense of Frigate holes, shattered holes and Thera, for which nobody has really found a use yet. The other changes filtered through to us and we became famously collateral damage.
Lets look at the changes briefly:
Citadels. From day zero, I did not like Citadels in Wormhole space. The massive, populated, brightly-lit structures simply don’t fit into the lore of the harsh and isolated hunting camp that Wormhole settlements were. They look and feel like a cut/paste job from K-space ignoring totally that Wormhole space works fundamentally differently. As concession to chestbeating elite PvP-ers, asset safety was turned off, so that all content drops when the structure is destroyed (the only good thing about them) and for a while there were dozens of Citadels in every class of hole. This has been reduced substantially due to changes in the fuel requirement but everything about Citadels looks and feels like K-space. In my view – and let me be very clear, nobody else in my corp agrees with me on this – Citadels have instantly removed one of the most differentiating aspects of EVE in general but Wormhole space specifically, namely trust in your fellow corpmate. Let me explain:
POSes were a terrifyingly bad implementation of a “home” but allowed limited personal gear to be brought into the hole. A few private ships, a few spare mods but that was it. All else had to be shared with corp mates in a complex system of hangars, each with bizarre permission trees. This enforced trust as guiding recruitment and operating principle in Wormhole space. Trust as a social behavior scales with the amount of potential loss. If nobody can incur any real loss, nobody needs to trust anyone. Trust is earned through time and deeds and is fundamental to group dynamics. Wormhole corps that lived for years out of POSes are tighter knit than most real-life families – not despite of the hardship but because of it. Citadels removed all of that. Citadels allow unlimited things to be stored personally and securely, their anchoring and defense mechanic allows a few guys to control everything and they become have become NPC stations for most of us grunts not involved in fueling or defending.
Now before we go on, let me repeat two things. First, POSes were utter pain to live out of. They sucked so bad that it drove entire corps out of EVE and changes needed to be made. However, copying Citadels from K-space into Wormhole space was an incredibly dumb and lazy way of going about it. I generally refuse to be drawn into the “whataboutism” so prevalent in today’s conversations but just for comparison: if I force you to eat a spoonful of either dog shit or cat shit and you choose dog shit (wise move), it doesn’t make the dog shit taste like chocolate. Its still shit. Two things can be bad, just differently bad. The second thing to repeat is that all Wormholers that I spoke to love Citadels. They love the K-space style convenience of storing all your crap, the easy way of setting them up, maintaining them, industry, clone bays, back massages, insurance, repair shops and so on. For someone coming from a POS life, docking into a citadel is a nearly orgasmic experience. Nobody wants to go back to a harsher life. Not even I. But I still can’t stand Citadels because to me they embody lazy product design and I detest that with red, glowing passion. Even if we took all the convenience features of them, there are no concessions to Wormhole space at all. No “darker” models, no special modules to work differently, no additional strengths based on the Wormhole effect, no special weapons, nothing. It would have been so easy to implement a few cool features, below are a couple of suggestions, totally uncooked of course.
Wormhole effect control. A mod or special structure that changes a Magnatar into a Black Hole. Or a Class 2 Magnatar effect into a Class 3. Or any iteration on this. This could be used in your home system or sprung as a surprise when invading someone. Of course, these mods would use fuel (lots of it) or burn out or in any way require attention.
Wormhole defense rings. HK’s eviction has shown to the rest of EVE what we always knew – hole control wins all the evictions in Wormhole space. A 1000 man rescue fleet is of no use if the attackers can establish effective hole control; all wormhole life depends on it. Citadel defense is completely useless against someone who can bring numbers, doctrines and solid FCs. Offering Citadels an “Alamo” mode (maybe during the structure timer) where the entire friendly fleet can sit tethered and safe on the docking ring but keep shooting would give outnumbered defenders a real chance. The FCs would have to choose whether their fleet would be more useful in space or as point defense and more tactical options are always good. It would also mean that grunts actively participate in the defense, as it stands today, the armor and structure timers are controlled by one single guy which is incredibly un-EVE and a weird hold-over from POSes which had one gunner.
Specialized Wormhole structures. Cheap, easy to set up with limited storage space for personal effects, fewer mods but D-scan immune (maybe even combat scanner immune?) to assist clandestine deployments. Limited like a POS, requires maintenance and is most certainly vulnerable to attack. Maybe – as my friend Oreamnos suggested decades ago – based on a conquered Sleeper structure.
Asset control. Citadels in K-space have asset safety, meaning that destruction of the structure does not mean destruction of everything in it. Wormhole space does not have this (and I approve) which means however that citadels become a massive and endless sponge for accumulated crap that becomes visible only when the structure blows up. The HK Keepstar is probably the best example but all Wormhole corporations have member turnover, general sloth to export and credit card warriors who bling the weirdest ships. There are no ways for leadership to spring clean which is weirdly against common sense. At least allow directors to access hangars from corp members who left. The current method (as deployed by Lazerhawks) of unanchoring and scooping up the hundreds of containers manually is silly, not explainable in lore and just feels like a waste of time to compensate for bad software design.
Citadel defense mods. Who said that Citadels weapons can’t “tap into” the Wormhole effect? Or the Planet’s atmosphere? Wouldn’t it be awesome if you could weaponize the mining beam of an Athanor and fling massive chunks of moon at attackers? Or Lava from a Raitaru situated near a Lava Planet? Or allow mods to repair defender ships (without docking ring safety), acting like massive logistics ships.
Overall, I’d love a conversation how Citadels in Wormhole space can be both different from K-space, add to the mystique of Wormhole life and are fun and engaging.
Income. Making good ISK has always been one of the attractions to WH life, with hardship comes reward.
Sleeper NPC and escalations have iterated a little bit since their rollout 9 years ago but not all that much. Running the sites is not as trivial as high sec missions but still can be predicted and perfected. They used to be quite valuable and are still so, just a little less since Melted Nanoribbons trade well below their all time high. A C2 site gets you ~20 mil or so, a typical C2 has maybe 10 / week. So, income from NPC in your hole is paying for the fuel bill and some ships but not much more. For everything else, you need to go out and raid your neighbor’s home which is of course the whole point of Wormhole life, they key element that makes it more balanced.
I’d love to see a more unique play style for PvE in EVE and the recent addition of Triglavian Filaments was an opportunity to introduce something unique to Wormholes. Maybe a flavor with unique loot or skins or whatever. Its not really about the ISK itself, it is to get more people to travel into Wormhole space, risk a little more for the additional gain.
Resources. I wrote above about Moon Mining which
encourages demands afk Rorquals with Netflix-watching pilots. Its incredible waste of a feature, Wormholes could have special ores and exploding valuable rocks. Wormholes could use Moon Mining mechanics to suck PI material out of planets instead of that dreadful carpal tunnel crap that PI is currently. Or seep gas out of gas planets. The list of possibilities is endless, the limits are set by CCP and their dis(interest) in Wormhole space.
This post has gotten too long and become combination of a rant and brain dump. My apologies to anyone who has read all the way down to here but I am just frustrated with CCP over their strategy to drive everyone into a Rorqual into Delve and call it a day. EVE was unique because it offers incredible freedom to try things out, no linear path, no “endgame”. I feel that CCP has strayed from that path a few years ago and is forcing a much more streamlined and polished experience on their customers. I get the appeal to casual players, I really do but I still have hope that CCP retains at least some of their Viking independence and transfers that attitude onto their players.