Lately, I have noticed an increasing number of armchair “experts” rise up to bloviate about what is wrong with sov mechanics and how to improve nullsec sovereignty. With the CSM Winter Summit ongoing, and several issues related to sovereignty on the list of topics being discussed, this seemed like a good time to address the issue. I began by asking around in various places who people felt were true experts on sov. As the names came in, I reached out to those individuals. Several did not respond, but I did end up speaking to three (technically four) people, of varied backgrounds, who are bona fide masters of the topic.
PANEL OF EXPERTS
Elise Randolph. CSM member and longtime PL leader and FC. He has roots in alliances like Cult of War and Sons of Tangra before joining PL in mid-2009. He ran fleets during PL’s loss of Fountain to IT Alliance. Afterwards, he became instrumental in PL’s highly successful nomadic years, as well as their current place in HBC.
Progodlegend. From a primary FC in Gentlemen’s Club to the leader of Nulli Secunda. He has defended several different regions and invaded about as many both before and after Dominion.
Kismeteer and Andski. These two you may not know by name. However, GSF’s invasion of northern regions would not have happened without guys like them. These are the logistics guys. The people who put up and fuel towers and bridges. The guys who onlined hundreds of SBUs and TCUs over the past year to make the invasions possible. Kismeteer had experience with sov logistics prior to Dominion to compare to our current mechanics. He pointed me to something that xttz wrote on sovereignty mechanics as well, a person who seems to have the respect of players from pretty much every corner of EVE for his knowledge of sov.
WHAT IS RIGHT
I like the way mining/ratting upgrades help out, though I disagree with a few things about them. I like the fact that there is some 'effort' with regard to ihub maintenance. I love the static timers you have for stations, it is much less chaotic than timing a tower.
The HBC vs SoCo fights that started in delve over neo moons were like 50 vs 50 and 100 vs 100. Headshotting C3N (Nulli staging system) was a 600 on 600 man slugfest, and then that coalition fell apart. Stront timers are a little more flexible and this is why I think moon (mechanics) are kind of a good thing. From the perspective of invading someone, the first targets you go after are the money moons. After those fights are dried up, you go after jump bridge towers and then after that you start focusing on the outlying sytems that you just cut off due to jump bridges being gone. The scale is /generally/ smaller for those ones.
WHAT IS WRONG
I don't think it's "wrong" per se but it is missing something partially because of the system, and partially because eve has evolved. It's evolved to the area where fights in nullsec are largely over structures and systems and all that hoopla, so the fights are of that scale. Back in "the day" people roamed around in small groups and had a good amount of fun, but that's because there were people around in space to harass. In the current structure the isk flows from the top down - so a good alliance creates an SRP, supercap buy, all that stuff. But the alliance itself doesn't care so much if its members are being harassed. So in a perfect system, the isk would flow from the bottom up, and alliance income would be based on the members doing some activity.
I will have you know, that throughout my eve career, I've generally been one who has been relatively ok with most of the changes CCP makes or doesn't make. They are all mechanics that define a sandbox, and then we figure out what to make of them from there. I haven't minded a single interation of titans or supers or capitals including their current form. The only two things I have had a legitimate gripe about is the absolute retardedness that is tech moons and everything that surrounded the "bottleneck" being switched to tech moons and I think one of the biggest issues with eve right now is you pretty much have to make a timer to create a fight.
I just felt it was retarded to pack (the best income moons) all in to one place, especially the north, which is so compact in terms of Light years (easy to jump around all over the place), that there has never been a moment since 2009 when one entity (or two entities that are loosely working together) hasn't controlled a huge majority of the tech moons in the game.
People shouldn't be trying to force small gang pvp on people through structure grinding. Thats the wrong approach, as it just creates more timers, and timers are exactly where small gang pvp DOES not happen. I don't think the game would have such massive coalitions if small gang pvp was more prevalent like it used to be. With the huge incomes of the major alliances as well as space just being totally useless, for the most part, there is really no incentive to beat down a roaming gang. Its much harder than it used to be, as well as theres much less incentive TO roam because theres a good chance you will just be wasting your time.
When Black legion roams, Elo is constantly trying to set up fights through his contacts. Random newbies don't have that same knowledge, so it creates a culture where we are basically playing Battlefield 3 in space. "Ok you guys bring 32 people, we'll bring 32 people, only 3 logi per, we will meet at such and such location" I think that is the gayest thing I've ever heard.
POSes as a whole need revamping, of course, so I'm hoping they just ... go away. To take a system, you need 4 major battles. That's 4 times that you have to 'win' a time zone. While it's great in theory, in practice, it turns the game into work. It's pretty dumb, not to mention SBUs are bugged out. It's a trick that our enemies exploited for a long time, and we've just accepted it as part of the design mechanic.
The fact is that you have to drop an SBU with a hauler, and then anyone can 'steal' the SBU by onlining it for themselves, UNLESS you take some sort of offensive action against it. This means that an honor guard, scrambling SBUS as they online, is recommended. That prevents the corp from being flipped. Not to mention that you can only hold 4 in a blockade runner, meaning that if you're doing a constellation, where you might need 12 or so, you are looking at 3 dudes doing work for about 45 minutes to get them all sbu'd.
Furthermore, all the sov stuff has to be brought up, AS A WHOLE, from CONCORD. Which is just a sheer :effort: thing. It just makes you want to kill yourself in the end. There really should be BPOs or BPCs, built on site, or nearby, to enable people to live away from empire. For like the drone regions, they have rely on lucky wormhole links with a freighter. I don't envy the people who live far from empire.
And finally, you cannot flip POSes to other alliances, or just GIVE TCUs to other alliances. Do you have any idea how much time is wasted waiting for sov to tick over to jump bridges, just to hand it over to another alliance? Yes, maybe it should be 'painful', but 35 days to WAIT for a system to get a jump bridge back is just stupid. When we finished off our war in the north, we had to shoot pointless structures for 2 more weeks, even though the enemy had given up.
It's terrible gameplay, because it's not gameplay. It's shooting an NPC that doesn't shoot back.
It’s a sobering point that in the last 2 years since Dominion, more regions have changed hands to internal alliance strife and one-sided wars than to honest, straight up fights with strategic planning behind them.
WHAT NEEDS TO CHANGE
What we need is a system that promotes a more fluid style of warfare, with multiple options available for attack and defense- rather than just shooting a big structure and showing up to fight over it. Contesting territory in sovereignty warfare should be a tug-of-war over day, weeks and months. It should not be a single fight stacked in favour of one side before it begins. This document aims to address a possible solution to these issues without needing to scrap the current system and start from scratch. Indeed, I strongly believe the existing core mechanics of Dominion can be salvaged into something fun and engaging with some tweaks and adjustments.
Moon mins are broken, period. CCP knows it's broken. Ring mining might fix it, and I kind of hope they just cancel moon mining entirely, and move it all to ring mining. I do actually sell more Technetium than anyone else in game so ... yeah. ISK is (or was) broken in several ways, and CCP knows this as well. L4 missions, the broken FW LP stuff, etc. People have stupid amounts of isk, and there are not enough isk sinks to counteract them.
BTW, in just the time we've been speaking, I made another 6.7 bil isk for the alliance. So tell me stuff isn't broken, huh?
Make people work to get it, sure, but you have to give some sort of life blood for corporations as a whole, rather than sponging off their members. If you don't give an income method for corps, that encourages corps to just pull undesirables into their ranks, like botters, etc.
Why bother upgrading systems and going through all that effort if your members can simply use highsec alts to make their ISK?
They need to hire one decent market person, who watches the markets, and understands the game. Then, when someone figures out the next big exploit, they nip it in the bud, not after they've flooded the market with 1mn Gistii mwd's (people used to sit in statics and just kill one dude, and loot just that). But the sheer fact that someone can for a week completely manipulate multiple markets, and their statisticians can't go 'hang on a second, why the hell is this fluctuating by 100x the price' and know what is causing it ... that is just a mystery to me. Things like the Dusk and Dawn duping of Technetium shouldn’t take 2 years to catch.
They need to overhaul systems they've been saying for years 'this is broken' - one dev (Fozzie) who actually (knows the game and) plays the game doesn't make a workable game. They still have the old stuff hanging out, like POS mechanics, which are goddamn terrible still. Why do I need anchoring 5. Oh yeah, because t2 large bubbles and POS gunning. Except POS gunning is a joke, at the very least pos guns need a MAJOR buff or you need XL guns (for them). I can't make a POS that can kill a single shield super and four supers can strip a POS bare in literally 20 minutes. That same POS might take 3 hours to setup. No matter how many dudes you throw at it.
Generally, I want the individual players lives to be better. Encourage people to PLAY the game rather than structure shots etc. Passive income in small amounts is great, risk and reward actually mattering is better.
There are advantages to the current system right now that allow for a large number of people to play with each other easily and allow for huge fights more often than was possible in the past. In my opinion the main issues with the game right now are force projection and the backwardness of attacking/defending. For the second one I mean there are very few disadvantages for the attackers, because the defenders get almost no advantage just for defending.
Heres what you do, you drastically, and I mean, drastically kill movement via cynos. All of this ties into the fact that giant coalitions having giant battles is happening way too often, and needs to happen way less than it is now. How I would do it is anything jumping to a cyno and you give it a cool down of somewhere between 10 and 20 minutes. During that cooldown it can't jump to another cyno of any kind. This doesn't apply to beacons because basically beacons are for defenders (homefield advantage). BUT to help balance that out you give the attackers away to disrupt beacons and jb's from the receiving side.
The conversation continued on voice comms, so I cannot directly quote what he said. Basically, Progod went on to say that income sources should flip from top down (moon income) to bottom up (mining/ratting). He was quite passionate that the loss of miners and ratting in null is the core of many of the problems currently in null sec.
What I'd hate to see is them throwing out sov as it is now and just starting fresh (again). If you can make it so space is valuable and there are some good farms/fields, then people can roam space or want to defend space instead of losing a system and saying "eh fuck it I'll take it back later" or "didn't want that space anyway."
I think EVE players will always have wars, but it wont be for space or anything like that. Right now people start wars because of egos clashing or out of boredom. I think you can, relatively easily, augment the system so people will fight over space and have some sort of value in the space itself. Unfortunately the idea is not shiny or an automatic cure-all, but I think it's absolutely the most practical. Give space value, make alliance income work from the bottom up - I think you will see a rise in roaming fleets, new FCs, and a departure from the largest-scale fights that we see today.
I'm OK with giving people a reason to fight, but it shouldn't be as centralized as it is now. One region with a denser population is great, but all but like 20 moons are in one geographic location - a bit iffy. Ideally in a new system I like the idea of a strategic resource, but to get the value out of it you have to do some sort of action on it. I'm not saying fly out and empty the silo every 4 hours, but some sort of activity to harvest the resource rather than put up POS receive bacon. At Fanfest you get the term "ring mining" thrown out and this big grandiose ideas about them - so something like that for harvesting resources would be cool.
I would be happy if nullsec got an overpowered income source, just slightly OP, not like game-breakingly so, because it would help add value to the space, and the value is sorely lacking. Right now if someone is harassing a system a) I can just go to another system or b) log in my WH alt, my Incursion alt, my FW alt, my :insert fotm here: alt. When Incursions were broken, every alliance had an incursion corp or they just did highsec incursions. When FW was broken, every alliance had an FW corp. So hey, shove some (disruptable) broken mechanic into nullsec when you are the iteration process.
A lot of people say it's because the nano-era died, roams died, but that's bogus because there are ships that are basically the same thing. Part of it has to do with Eve players become smarter, having a focused fleet doctrine instead of kitchen sink. The largest part of it has to do with having little to no need to protect space. Roaming used to be a big thing, roam into someones space and you disrupt ratting or whatever so someone forms a home defence gang and has a good ol fashioned brawl. You do see glimpses of this now, but it's a rare spectacle. A roaming force can't disrupt an alliance in a meaningful way, so there is no need to fight it. The alliance will make isk anyway so the line member doesn't necessarily need it as badly or the alternative is that the people who do make isk off of ratters/renters. They have so much space that's so desolate that one small force roaming around had a negligible impact on the bottom line. Also, there are other non 0.0 related income streams that are pretty fun. Like FW is legit fun, you can make buckets of isk PvPing. Null doesn’t have that.
It would be cool if you had a targeted bounty. There's a guy who recently left -A-, he was in White Noise before that, you probably know him: Lee Chanka. His corp decided to move away from -A- and do their own thing, so they started a mini merc business. Give us money, we'll provide kills until the money runs out, so 10b fee up front and they vow to stay until they do 20b worth of damage. It's working great, unfortunately there is no in-game mechanic to govern that, so it's all done through Chribba. We were Lee's first client and gave him 15b 5 days ago or so to harass -A- and at this rate he's going to be done by the weekend [this ended up being an accurate prediction].
To sum things up: there is far more agreement on what is right, wrong, and needs to be fixed in null sov across alliances than you might expect. Alliances large and small, from the ones with the most moon income to the ones without any agree that moon goo is broken. There is agreement that many of the problems in EVE stem from the switch from bottom-up income to the top-down income of moons. No one likes POSes and all spoke of a POS-overhaul like it was a foregone conclusion. A failure to overhaul POSes seemed unfathonable. None of them liked structure shoots, but all agreed that it was one of the only ways to draw a fight now. All agreed that system upgrades were a good idea, but system income was not substantial enough to truly warrant much effort on an alliance level. All agreed that, while the UI was improving, it still lacked a lot of mechanics which are needed on a coalition, alliance, or corporate level.