Sunday, 8 March 2015

Walling off the superpowers

I mentioned Trammel recently in the context of Eve's ongoing restructuring.

I wasn't really very clear about what I meant so allow me to clarify.

What I don't anticipate is safe zones. But that's not what Trammel was all about, not entirely.

In MMOs after a while people become established and powerful. This is good, it's part of the reason people play this game. But the cost is that new people become proportionately less powerful. And if the game allows too much power into the hands of the old and established it becomes not worth joining. Which really hurts the old and the powerful because they're powerful only in relation to the new and weak and without those people it's just pixels and spreadsheet numbers that don't mean much.

So Trammel. Trammel did two things in Ultima Online when it was brought in as a safe new space. Not only did it separate the gankers from their prey, ie a player style issue. It also allowed new people learning the game to separate themselves from the veterans who were rich, skilled up and aware of every little trick and exploit.

It's in the latter sense that I think Eve may see a separation. Perhaps it even needs such a separation.

One of the things people questioned when I mentioned it before was whether it was possible. Surely, they said, the old established powers will simply dominate the new areas?

I know it's possible.

I know it's possible because it's already happened in Eve.

The new area of play space was called "Wormholes" it filled up with people with no ties to the nullsec superpowers and remains dominated by people who are not affiliated to any nullsec bloc.

When CCP Seagull took the helm of Eve game design there was a lot of talk about Apocrypha, the expansion that brought in wormholes as a high point in the game. I think that's a success she is aiming to replicate.

So what are the key features of w-space?
- the mechanics protected it from colonisation by established powers (no supers or titans).
-it was at first very punishing to actually cope with, so it attracted mostly loner explorer types. Wormhole pioneers figured out the horrible scanning system and worked out how to live in POSes for long periods, much longer than CCP had anticipated.
- rewards were new and exciting and parallel to the products of other areas.
- it was dependent by design (eg no ice) so there would always be traffic back to less wild areas.
- it was absolutely huge.

Some of that won't be repeated, I very much doubt the player base would tolerate a brutally inaccessible new space again as it did with Apocrypha. I do think though that the core elements of a new space where the old rules don't apply is something we will see when we find out what lies beyond the promised player-created stargates.

This is why the Nullsec revamp is so important. If Null is still stagnant or dull when a new space opens up, especially if that space is fun fresh and not gated by punishing mechanics. And that puts the established powers in the position of wanting a game change that undermines their stranglehold enough to bring rivals in, but not so much as to displace them from the top of the heap.

So we're seeing a lot of intense politicing and attempts to control the message as Eve attempts to manage its "Uncle Bob" problem. And what's at stake is control of a potential mass exodus to a new type of space.


  1. Actually, Anoikis isn't dominated by anyone. Sure, there's really good groups, some really big, good groups, but it's not like they're owning vast swaths of systems.

    1. I hear that at the higher classes it is. If you set up in a C6 and don't put up a strong defence you'll get evicted.

      Sure no one really bothers to evict people from low class holes.

    2. That may or may not be true. I hear all sorts of things ranging from Anoikis is so empty no one needs to evict anyone, to if you put up a fight and aren't dickish about it, you're fine. But even so, it's not dominated in the way that null is.

      Sure, if you connect to an active 50-man corp, you may be in trouble, but only until the hole collapses 16-24 hrs later (assuming you can't close it before then). I've been running C5 sites with mostly nary an interloper in sight, and when there are some, we get good fights. Small ones that we've come out on top of more often than not, but some we've gotten our heads handed to us, too :)

      The problem is that, after the ice changes, the big groups in Anoikis either failscaded or foolishly decided to purge all the non-pvp people...and then started complaining about lack of targets. Anoikis is pretty much back to the frontier it used to be. We go days and days without seeing a soul, or at least without seeing anyone that will take on even our small gang.

      Yeah, when you come out in one of the big boys' holes, you run, our of genuine respect :) But it's not like anyone is dictating who gets what holes, nor are there many (if any) multiple-hole corps/alliances.

      Even if there are a few groups dominating the C5 and C6 holes, those two types are very far from being all of Anoikis (nor even a majority).