(Author's note: all figures in the article are not set in stone but are used to illustrate how this idea would unfold.)
EVE is a terrible game. Let’s be honest with ourselves; it is. Take away all of the social aspects, the metagaming, space managing, chilling in chat channels and distill it down to the core. EVE, at its most basic, is a game about killing red X-shaped things until a button flashes and an arbitrary figure increases.
Imagine if EVE were a theme park MMO, where you did space missions to level up to be a space wizard with amazing space wizard loot. EVE would have died years ago. So, why do we play this boring and frankly terrible space simulator? Honestly? It’s for the metagaming. It’s for the thrill of owning a chunk of space that is yours. It’s for sitting in a channel with your buddies (be it on voice or chat) and having a blast. It's for finding something to do with friends.
And this is the issue. At the moment, most people in 0.0 make their money doing one stupidly boring activity: killing NPCs. Be it in belts, or in anomalies, or even in DED complexes, this action is designed to be solo work. Even for a DED 10/10, which some of you might think requires a group, you can solo them in a Tengu in Fountain. There is therefore no need to do group activities, because everything can be soloed. This problem is at the very heart of the issue of 0.0. This needs to change.
Incursions and Wormholes
I personally love the idea of incursions, although I’ll admit they are badly balanced. The fact that they cannot be done solo means you have to team up with friends to complete them. While they are still boring as Hell, everything is fun when you can joke around with your friends while doing it. Wormholes are the same. They are little pieces of 0.0 with activities that need multiple people to be able to complete (especially in class 5-6 wormholes). These two activities are held up as great examples of content that takes many people to do.
Yet, while CCP has been adding group-based activates since 2009, 0.0 has languished in old game design decisions for nearly a decade. However, I have a solution to this problem, which should help alleviate many of the issues in 0.0.
Disregard Currency, Acquire Friends
Anomalies are little areas within EVE where rats spawn in waves and you can shoot them. They come in multiple flavors, which in 0.0 are rally points, ports, hubs, havens and sanctums, getting harder as you go up the list. They are also the main ratting area for 0.0 residents.
First off, I understand that some people want to be able to solo, maybe because they’re only on for a short time or whatever. So I would make rally points, ports and hubs soloable. They would be graded so that rally points could be done in a cruiser, ports could be done in Tier 1 or 2 battlecruisers, and a hub could be done in Tier 3 battlecruisers or a battleship. They would grade up in ISK per tick (ISK income per 20 minutes) and would stay the same as the current tick in Fountain. For a forsaken hub, for example, this is around 20-25 million ISK a tick.
Sanctums and havens would be changed completely. Havens would need at least four people—something like two logistics and two DPS battleships—to complete. With the increased complexity of getting a fleet together and the difficultly of running the site, there should be a pay increase above what there is for the solo anomalies, something around 25-30 million ISK per tick per member of the fleet. This makes doing a small gang more lucrative than doing solo sites, but it also means that a fleet can be set up with minimal organization. Next, sanctums would become super sites, along the lines of incursions, where you need between 10-15 people to complete one. Because a fleet like this would be harder to organize, each member should be getting around 35-40 million ISK a tick.
First off, I would like to mention a few arguments some people will have with this change. Most will be around the fact that suddenly there is a higher income in 0.0. Yes, there would be. At the moment the most popular site to run—in Fountain at least—is a forsaken hub. This site gives you the same ISK output on average as doing level 4 missions in high-sec. So you get all of the dangers of 0.0, but the same rewards. This is why a lot of people I know in 0.0 run high-sec missions on alts—because there is no risk of losing your ship.
However, this system would have benefits far outweighing its negative tropes. Firstly, 0.0 would start to be utilized more by the residents. Large groups of players warping around in a system doing anomalies gives hostile small gangs something to shoot at. No more flying 30 or more jumps and only seeing five people, all of whom are docked. Secondly, the system to do this is already in place. The AI for all rats was recently upgraded to level one AI. This is the same AI that incursions use. Thirdly, the current ideas about improving 0.0, like farms and fields, are all based on the idea of a bottom-up approach to alliance funding. With this change, it would make it much easier for an alliance to be able to fund itself via its members, and not rely on moon harvesting to generate income.
While I am not saying this one change is the Holy Grail of fixing 0.0, it is a simple thing which can help alleviate some of the symptoms of being in 0.0.