Tuesday, 30 September 2014

The 60/40 Problem

If you were in a coma and are not Steven Seagal (you'd be doing a training montage about now, lifting rocks in the mountains) you would have heard about the brouhaha which was the Hyperion update.

I think that 6 weeks later, the verdict is definitely in: Hyperion has put wormholes into a coma. This post will discuss why Hyperion, and changes elsewhere, are killing wormholes.

The problem with wormholes has always been that, as a PVPer, you suffer a lot of bullshit in the corporate, social, logistical arena in order to enjoy (if you can) the purer form of cloak and dagger hunting you can get via the removal of Local.

As a farmer or carebear, you suffer all of the above in return, arguably, for greater returns on your efforts. I say arguably, because there is a lot of debate about whether the rewards justify the risks and impediments.

Going back to the beginning, CCP believed that no one would live in wormholes permanently, and admitted they were surprised to find out people were resourceful, OCD and tenacious enough to make it work, to even thrive and to solve the problems of wormhole life, isolation and even (best as can) the godawful POS security swiss cheese problems. But here we are, October 2014, and CCP has had to deal with reality.

The problem is, as always, Fozzie. I cannot tell you how frustrating it is to be an analystical, fact-based person putting opinions onto the forums when updates to your game are put on with 2 weeks of comment before launch, and see absolutely nothing sensible come back from the Devs in regards to all the reasoned feedback. I mean, yes, people sperged nerd rage on the forums, but in amongst that was a lot of carefully thought out commentary which was duly ignored and buried. No, I lie, we had CCP Falcon come and douche-assault the forums like a fucking ass clown, and then CCP decided to deploy the ISD to bulk lock the wormhole forum to the point that there were 2 solid pages of locked threads just because they didn't like the bad PR.

Well, here's a secret CCP - that is itself worse PR, and a direct insult to the people who pay and play your game. In fact, I am surprised that it's not on gaming review sites as a textbook example of how not to handle negative feedback from your player base. This probably damaged their currency with the wormhole residents prior to Hyperion and has certainly made many reassess their game style and choices and move out. After all, if you are going to be actively fucked over, move to where the CSM and Devs all play - Goonswarm.

Now, to the grist of the issue. Has wormhole activity fallen by the wayside? For that we would ideally love to see these supposed 'metrics' which Fozzie is going to use to monitor the state of wormholes (in between preparing to fuck over nullsec, i doubt he cares or has time). However, we must look at a few parameters: nanoribbon prices, Tengu prices, and PVP.

PVP we can use a series of the largest of wormhole alliances extant in August 2014 to illustrate the point. There's five broad categories:
  1. Victims and farmers (99% of corps) eg; BRAWLS DEEP,
  2. PVP entities who cannot field enough orcas to rage roll and who aren't getting PVP due to lack of targets; their killboards are tailing down since July (eg; Team Pizza, illusion of Solitude, Low Class).
  3. People who have dealt with the rage rolling problem via having enough spare toons to run masses of orcas at holes and instaflip them (Quantum Explosion); their killboards are tailing down since July
  4. People who just use wormholes as a gateway to nullsec or lowsec (Hard Knocks, Lazerhawks, Ixtab, Sleeper Social Club, D) 
  5. People who have given up (Blood Union, Rolled Out) and moved elsewhere.
 The predator/prey dynamic in wormholes is that you need prey in order to survive as a predator. We don't expect lions to stick around the Serengeti when the wildebeest have moved on, eating grass and being herded by the maasai. Likewise, prey items are exceedingly rare in w-space because it has become a place inhabited by alts in alt corps (many nulltards run alt corps in wormhole space), ISBoxers in ISBox alliances and corporations (SSC, for example), and carebears who do sites once a week.

The carebears and prey items have learned two things. Number one, and the prime lesson, is that there simply is not enough money to make in wormholes to support a recurrent existence of farming. There's 0-3 sites per day spawning in any wormhole, which are worth sweet fuck all to more than one meatbod (and even then, if you plex at least one account, all income goes towards this). For a larger corporation, you need to move up to C5 space eventually to make any money or enough money for all players. Again, it's safer and more efficient to run organised Site night activities weekly than try to do it any other way.

Contrasting this to K-space, in highsec you have Incursions (buffed to be 23..75/7 now, with no despawn) and level 4 missions. I make more money running missions weekly for sec status than I do in w-space. In lowsec you have missions, incursions if you wish, and most importantly Mordus anoms and data and relic sites. The latter can provide 100M ISK for an hour's work, and now loot bukkake is gone, it is actually efficient to churn past crap cans and get alll your rewards.

Nullsec, you have alll the above (missions in some NPC areas, ofc) plus wall to wall anoms. AFKtars are the way to go, till your 6 alt accounts glitch the system and get vaped, according to sources. And yes, with more than 5 carrier toons in system now, you can get competition or face 13M bounty ticks versus 18M bounty ticks, but the point is that this is better ISK/hr and far more reliable and soloable, with near zero logistical hassles, so wormholes can't compete as a place to actively live.

Therefore, ISK rewards really do need to be buffed in low-class wormholes in order to make wormholes attractive destinations for people to live for more than a weekly site night or grindfest. Considering the llack of Local, it would actually encourage more interaction to have near limitless sites to grind - you'd have people make a calculation and figure it was financially viable to hump sites for hours every day even accounting for possible losses.

Instead, we have barriers to interaction being implemented, namely the mass spawn crap. Truly, it has doubled the length of time required for a hole to be rolled, which as alluded to before, isn't a big deal if you have 4 Orca pilots able to warp to a hole, all jump through, and come back in an organised fashion. If you lack the numbers, rolling to reinvigorate an EOL chain or one filled with dead, deserted systems, is just too hard.

Therefore, 60% of wormholes have active players. 40% are completely empty, maybe with logged off Orcas and alts living from a depot no one bothers probing down to start a 48 hour timer on.

The conceern I have with alll of this is that if wormhole space becomes a space full of alts and POS AFKing bears who have no valid reason to leave their POS, then numbers will continue to drop and the space will become essentially dead. Without possibilities of PVP, PVPers will leave, with a few holddouts and soloers staying behind to compete with ISBoxers they can't hope to manage solo.

This is a real possibility - so I wonder if CCP Fozzie will take another 6 months, like he did with the Ishtar, before deciding to act? I doubt it - I reckon it'll be even longer. Which is forcing me to conclude that we are at that tipping point where anyone who wants to play the game for more than an hour a week has to go to k-space and deal with all the drawbacks of Local and stations and gay hotdrops.

over to you, Fozzie you fucktard.


  1. I'm sure you don't need a choir to preach to per se. But I'm going to go for it anyway. I could go into details on 'how changes have affected my playstyle.' But I won't, because who cares?

    Bravo for calling shenanigans, here's my personal shit list:

    1. CCP acting like they know what people in wormholes want, or should want, or something... without responding in any way to reasonable feedback. It's probably the only time I've ever lost my shit on the forum.
    2. Continuing to narrow viable playstyles.
    3. Changing existing game mechanics and calling it new content. Should we be creating our own content? Sure, but there's got to be some onus on the developers to get off their asses and have some kind of fucking vision.
    4. Shitting on the little guy. Every change has made it harder to start out, harder to carve out a small piece of eve for yourself. The wormhole changes speak for themselves, but jump fuel, Ice prices, the climbing cost of crusiers/frigs (based on increase construction cost, inflation in a fictional setting has been pretty fucking flat, people aren't saving for their retirement or worried about the rising cost of beef here). I bought my first Exequrer (and blaster fit it) for slightly under a million isk, and my first missioning domi was less than 80mil fit. New players have a steep and shitty mountain to climb.

    I haven't logged in in two weeks, and I realized that somewhere along the way. CCP stripped a lot of the pieces that made EvE fun... out of EvE. For now I'm re-evaluating my play-style and continuing to enjoy me self imposed EvE Break (though, if I'm still reading blogs - I think that puts me in the realm of creepy eve stalker...).

    -Noxisia Arkana (my main, don't judge).

  2. Agree.

    In response to your second point, it is clear that (in conjunction with #4) the barriers to entry in EVE are getting steeper. In wormholes these are overcome by clubbing together; it's amazing how little you need when competent, to complete sleeper sites. Like, 2 AF's and one Execquror, to do C3 sites in a WR. There's how-to's and workarounds, ISK/hr calculators and third-party widgets, which all assist the new player get a leg up. And lets not forget that people do their research even before starting.

    often this research trends towards the cash in a bunch of PLEX for a toon on the forums, and we all kbnow how that turns out; an $80-120 buy-in to play the game and then you end up flying a shit fit Mega into lowsec or dying to a can flipper. But without that investment there's really very few ways to make progress in EVE; but CCP doesn't care because PLEX get sold so people can exchange money for in-game gold farming.

    Another response to the MUDflation that's been under way is ISBoxer, which is a debate that won't quit. And for good reason. As I've said before, use of the program has economic implications, but it is also interesting to think about it in the context of a rational response to the milieux and meta of the game, and as you say, a mechanism for accumulating ISK in a time-efficient manner. Even if your monthly ISK yield is only now 10% free cash over and above the PLEX price of sustaining your multiple accounts, this still scales effort in a steeply linear fashion to being more efficient. eg; ten toons costs about 8 billion ISK a month to run, so if you run an incursion Nightmare ISBoxing gang and generate 10% extra free cash you're generating a billion a month.

    Assuming you then double down and run an extra ten hours a month for play money you make eleven billion a month. The IRL time sunk into it is therefore manifoldly more efficiently spent and all economic consequences farmed out to others (MUDflation, PLEX prices via competition, crowding out other incursion neckbeards).

    That's a pretty sick and unsustainable place for an MMO to be going - into a space where the game is pitted between ISBoxing hordes squabbling over limited time-efficient activities like ice mining, incursions, or humping Sanctums in heavily protected nullbear havens.

    And in this scenario, madness to consider living in a wormhole.


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