Welcome to Jester's Trek.
I'm your host, Jester. I've been an EVE Online player for about six years. One of my four mains is Ripard Teg, pictured at left. Sadly, I've succumbed to "bittervet" disease, but I'm wandering the New Eden landscape (and from time to time, the MMO landscape) in search of a cure.
You can follow along, if you want...

Friday, August 16, 2013

Did things just get better or worse?

Awesome movie quote time.  There's an amusing scene in Die Hard 2, about half-way in.  Former soldiers become mercenaries have taken over an airport full of people and are holding planes circling overhead hostage by their control of the tower's landing equipment.  A U.S. Army special forces unit is sent in to take out the former soldiers under a Major Grant (the sublime John Amos).  The airport's Chief of Operations, Trudeau, can only think of the fact that his airport full of innocents is held captive by a large number of men with guns... and now there are even more men with guns arriving, and making it clear that the peaceful solution isn't on their minds.  Needless to say, Trudeau isn't thrilled to hear this and the protagonist of the piece, John McClane, cracks wise:
Hey Trudeau, did things just get better or worse?
McClane doesn't get an answer.

Let's talk about some of the long-term implications of the post-moon New Eden.  And I apologize in advance: this post is going to be rather long, but there's a lot of ground to cover.  It starts with the concept of scalability.

One of the boons the pre-Dominion sovereignty system had going for it is that holding sov space didn't scale well.  Scalability is a measure of how easy or hard it is to control and manage a system as it grows.  Systems that scale well are just as easy to manage as they grow.  A lawn scales well: a lawn that is twice as big takes twice as long (or twice as many people) to mow, and a lawn that is four times as big takes four times as long (or four times as many people) to mow.  A communications network scales poorly.  Networking professionals will tell you that a network with 500 end-points is more than twice as hard to manage as one with 250 end-points.  Pre-Dominion sov, based as it was on the fueling of widely scattered and hugely numerous towers, did not scale well.  It took much more than twice the effort to control twice the space since you had to manage both a logistics network and a communications network to keep all those towers fueled.

However, Dominion sov scales extremely well: all you have to do is conquer the systems and pay the bills.  Pre-Dominion sov was like a communications network.  Post-Dominion sov is like a lawn.  All it takes is more people to mow it.

Now in practice, this hasn't mattered since Dominion was released in late 2009, and the reason -- ironically enough -- was the moons themselves.  In a lot of ways, they acted as control rods for the nuclear reactor of a large sov alliance.  We refer to "the north" as a unit because that's where the tech moons tended to be clumped and for the longest time a single coalition held "the north."  That single coalition has changed over the years but the natural boundaries have not.  Alliances in that area took the valuable moons, and then humans being human and because we like clean endings and round numbers, tried to establish buffer zones at the regional borders.  Once those borders were established, the alliances behind them tended not to stray too far from home because few alliances could project power across a wide enough sphere to both launch invasions far from home and protect the moons held there.

But now those moons aren't worth as much, are they?

Alliances used to measure their budgets based on the number of moons they held but as I established yesterday, that's unlikely to be a thing for much longer.  Alliances will probably be a bit more casual about losing moons knowing full well that individual moons here and there probably aren't going to be fought over to the extent that they have been, they won't be defended quite so vigorously, and they'll therefore be easier to take back when needed.  To a large extent, EVE has lost a conflict driver... a pretty big conflict driver.

Yesterday, I touched briefly on this article at TMC which lays out the potential income differences between moons and rental agreements (hint: renting wins).  The entire article is nothing more than a sales pitch aimed squarely at the CFC membership.  But particularly striking was this graph...


...which puts renting into the perspective of 11(!) regions that the CFC could potentially rent out.  And to my utter lack of surprise, Delve, Querious, and Period Basis are included in the list.  One presumes that N3 isn't going to take that sort of thing lying down.  There's every reason to think that whomever is in charge of TEST right now is receiving some very interesting offers from both north and east for the peaceful transfer of sov.

But let's get back to scalability.  The northeast part of New Eden is a rather notorious rental zone almost specifically due to its lack of moons.  But the interesting thing about the much-ignored northeast is how it demonstrates how scalable rental income is.  Once your own alliances home constellations are set up, the only real limit on the number of constellations you can rent out are:
  1. your ability to project power across the constellations you rent;
  2. your ability to find renters; and,
  3. your ability to conquer new constellations for them to rent.
Power projection being what it is in New Eden these days, it isn't much harder to control a larger area of renters than it is a smaller one.  Sure, once the CFC puts this into practice, they're going to be inundated with visitors looking to prey on their renters.  But the CFC has always been utter masters at power projection via jump bridges and their members are used to crossing the galaxy quickly to deal with threatening situations and multiple overlapping timers.  I think the biggest issue Goons will have with a rental empire won't be holding it or conquering new territory for it, it's going to be their ability to find people willing to trust Goons with their livelihood.

That could be a very large challenge indeed.

But if they're successful, the "big blue doughnut" has a chance of becoming much more fact than fiction.  As I said, rental income scales very well and the eventual war between the CFC and N3 seems inevitable at this point.  If the CFC starts conquering new regions in the south, they could find themselves once again in control of nearly unlimited wealth... wealth that the graph above shows would dwarf their previous fortunes made on the tech throne.  And more importantly, wealth that would be even easier to maintain.

Without the natural control rods holding back the growth of sov and sitting on an easily scalable income source, it might be very tempting for the CFC (or N3, should they start winning the war) to just expand... and expand... and expand some more.

Did things just get better or worse?

34 comments:

  1. but also, I think we're in a farms and fields scenario.

    Space that constantly gets attacked will be less popular for rent, more space available means there is more competition. This means that to attack a coalitions cash base, you have to attack target their renters more than their moons. Which also means infiltration and blops will be bigger deals.

    I think this may be pretty awesome generally.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Well Jester it depends if you want large or small battles.

    Moons were a conflict driver for large battles, but a shaft for smaller battles. Players complained you couldn't attack sov alliances without using lots of capitals to pos bash.

    But with renting, smaller battles can happen more frequently or you can harrass goons without using capitals.

    You never mention rote kapelle attacking goons, and that makes sense in a pos Bash only world. But with renters, rote kappelle could fight or harass goons if they chose to. So what sounds better to you, jester?

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  3. Im confused. Peaceful nullsec is bad but nullsec with war is also bad? You bemoan loss of conflict drivers but an even bigger conflict driver will lead to a blue donut? What?

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  4. They got better. Watch a group of 5-10 people in a roaming gang disrupt moon income.

    They wont'.

    Now watch that same group disrupt renters. Either they'll fight back (gudfights), have goon support (defending space) or be disrupted, losing income and possibly giving up the space.

    That's straight up income denial - farms and fields.

    The income may be scalable in theory, but in practice that's more and more space to capture, fill with renters, defend and get income from.

    Things got better.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Worse of course. Anything that makes blue donut bigger is bad.

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  6. Why are you sounding so surprised? You sit on the CSM. You see the changes to game mechanics being discussed in front of you, at least the ones that goons/CCP don't deem too sensitive.

    How many times have I stated that the business managers who run the goons have examined the Serenity business model, and are now trying to emulate this on TQ?

    When CCP hands another huge chunk of industry to null sec in December, it will fit perfectly with the plans that goons are formulating now.

    It will almost be like if the goons had someone on the CSM who is deeply involved in the business operations of the cfc, and at the same time is involved in steering the direction of game mechanics that define the Eve economy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Chinese culture currently values stability, belonging, and grind far, far higher than most of the other cultures who play Eve for entertainment. After all these are the worlds greatest lovers of MMO grind. MMO grindy stuff is on the decline everywhere else in the world as players got bored.

      I doubt most of us are going to play Eve to log in on our free time and renter grind for Mittens. This isn't China, and I'm not sure even China is going to love grind for much longer as entrepenuership takes over culturally there.

      Delete
  7. All of this income is entirely based on the availability of renters.

    Is there a market? Will there be a race to the bottom for rental rates as these landholders start to compete for their business?

    I honestly don't know if there is a large untapped rental market.

    Certainly, the reputation of the landlord will be paramount, as I have no doubt that any intelligent renter will think twice about building a tree house in the CFC back yard, knowing the destructive capabilities of the easily bored teenagers living in the big house.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I'm glad that I'm not one that's in charge of finding good solutions to this problem.

    On the one hand, I'm a fan of making it so nullsec is fractured, small areas, but making a system that doesn't feel like it's targeted against any one organization would be a nightmare.

    Would returning to a system of poor scaling make much of a difference to an organization like Goonswarm? Probably not much, at least in comparison to the actual little guy.

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  9. Short answer: Worse

    ReplyDelete
  10. Sure let them have their big fat wealthy wallets. Sure let them hold the best space and rent out half the map to little pets. Sure. What will they do with all that ISK? Who knows. But they're going to be scrambling to create content for their members, that's for sure!

    ReplyDelete
  11. I've said this before and I'll say it again.

    The politics of EVE and human nature will not allow the CFC to get much bigger than it is now. THey will reach critical mass, if not over this then something later, and they will collapse. The individual alliances will make new coalitions and go for each other's throats. OUtside forces may or may not decide the outcome, and in the end there will be another time of chaos before another CFC or BoB forms.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Problem is, we've heard this before about the Goons. As long as Mittens is in control, I don't think they will collapse.

      Delete
  12. Renters are quite fluid, and don't like camping/ganking/awoxing

    Moons are in that regard much more stationary and "secure"

    You can cripple someones renting income as the CFC did with blackops in fountain, TEST had to move their renters to Delve.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you have plenty of space as you say, the landlord can move the renters. If Vale gets camped there's always Fade or Branch.

      Delete
  13. You forgot one gigantic thing.

    You are assuming the rest of us all want to work as renters in Null Sec. Why? Why not just quit the game? We are supposed to be having fun, not doing chores to keep an ex-lawyer rich.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mutual self-interest. People really like running anoms or doing null sec mining and the nullbear playstyle scales up to multiple accounts much better than high sec carebearing does.

      If your options are 80m isk per hour or pay someone 1b to earn 100m per hour most hardcore players should pick the second.

      Delete
  14. Do you think this means CCP is finally forced to fix power projection? Otherwise they probably lose their game due to player apathy - who wants to play eve under a total dictator of null and hisec? Seriously. Will CCP make it finally harder for large alliances in Nullsec to take every locality and make it smaller corp friendly or are they going to let the game rot and die?

    ReplyDelete
  15. You could check the china server. TMC has some interesting articles about it.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Ok here is what's gonna happen.

    a) One or two rental empires (if they are lazy and don't go to war with each others) dominates nullsec, boring us all to tears.

    b) CPP nerfs power projection to be more local

    c) Renters go boom! Empires can no longer protect them.

    Let that be a warning to you renters, can't wait to blow you all up.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Money is power, money lets you get more power, power lets you hold more territory, which gets you more money, which...

    I've long become tired of the old, circuitous nature that nullsec has to offer. Forum posts, op-eds, and blog posts such as this have long served complaints and concerns, but it seems that no one wants to change the nature of the model, perhaps because everyone wants (safe) money and power - which in most regards, the sovereignty system has always supplied in spades.

    The consequences of the sovereignty game need to change before this mess eventually scales up to the Big Blue Donut. The sovereignty system has always explicitly served to remove destabilizing elements from player owned space; the more recent sovereignty models have simply made those elements more accessible to powerful groups. The Big Blue Donut is the natural end point of the pursuit of stability, and will not be avoided unless the stability offered by the sovereignty system is significantly revised.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I'll say this first; it isn't NCdot Rental income, its the entire N3 coalition rental income and its overestimated by a decent amount. Also the "potential income" in that graph is as if goons rented out ALL of their space which they won't (ie can't) do. They have specifically said there will be no renting in deklein or fountain (their 2 best regions to rent). This leaves Vale, Tribute, Branch, and Tenal for regions they currently hold to rent. I do not see Razor allowing goons to rent out the best systems in Tenal because where will Razor live then? Branch might be rented out ,but that displaces FCON, LAWN and SpaceMonkey's of good ratting space for its members. Fade/CR/PureBlind are worthless for renting. That really only leaves Tribute and Vale that the currently hold to rent out and these are decent, vale especially, but renting those 2 regions might net them maybe 500 bil/month total if they can fully saturate it (which is highly unlikely). Now if CFC takes delve/Querious/Period Basis entirely and rents all of it out that will prolly net them a 1 tril/month again, if they can fully saturate the regions with renters (again very unlikely). You have to remember CFC still has 30k members it has to have space for them to comfortably rat/live in.

    Tbh I think they biggiest thing people with about the drone regions and why its so nice to rent is because it has no npc space in which hostile entities can stage from to effectively roam all the space, ie its very easy to setup intel channels and spot all neuts/reds roaming the space. The only real threat to renters in drone space is WH groups ganking them.

    tldr; the whole TMC article is massive propaganda and overestimates the income from renting they could achieve.

    ReplyDelete
  19. A n3+PL vs CFC war would be amazing.

    Once over Eve's end game option would be - become a humble peasant. (Except for a handful of lucky overlords).

    With pretty much no chance that the overlords would ever be overthrown because all the other peasants depend on them being stable for survival.

    Better or worse? It's worse. There may even be no great war, the great powers simply agree to own half the universe each. And even if there is one it may be the War to End All Wars.

    ReplyDelete
  20. " I think the biggest issue Goons will have with a rental empire won't be holding it or conquering new territory for it, it's going to be their ability to find people willing to trust Goons with their livelihood."

    So will Goons start plopping down 500million ISK deposts to prove good faith and indemnify losses from Goon alts? ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  21. As always you did a great job!
    You brought up some really interesting point. If what you are saying comes true.. then things will probably get better than become worse.

    Better: Eventual war that will happen
    Worse: Whoever is the winner will become the master of null space :(

    Just an opinion..

    ReplyDelete
  22. Quite honestly, couldn't this fix something that Mittens has been complaining about from day one? Bottom up funding? He complains that nulsec doesn't have a reason for industry or mining or any other thing because they are constantly getting destroyed despite having great access to materials. But, with this, if he were to emphasize protecting his renters rather than just "Hey here's your space, now fork over your wallet". Wouldn't that provide him with more and better income? Also, wouldn't that provide his players with content? Instead of burning out structures, you burn out players until they quit and want to move, either away and depriving their alliance of that renter income, or to you, providing you with that income yourself.

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  23. You wanted alliance/coalition income to be bottom up. Alliance/coalition income is becoming more bottom up. The natural response would be to have more people in any given space, and given a limited recruitment base....what did you expect would happen? I'm honestly curious here - did you expect the Powers What Be to roll over and quietly let themselves be crippled for the sake of your preferred ~small corporation pvp~? So they stop having their badwrong fun and do the goodright fun you do?

    Also - nerfing power projection means making nullsec worse to live in. More jumps to get anywhere means more jumps back to Empire to sell space, means mining/refining is less profitable, means blah blah blah. Is it too much to ask that people think before they call for something retarded?

    If you don't like dealing with power blocs, don't live in nullsec. That's what lowsec is for.

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  24. Problem with renters is, one single cloaky can cause panic, requiring near constant defensive presence in the area in case of blops. This means that a rental empire's income can be disrupted by a very small force relative to the size of the empire, whereas that wasn't true for the moons.Big empires are going to get more renters, inviting more pirates, causing problems with defense. Most likely response is demand for renters to defend themselves (BoBification), which is likely to lead to fragmentation of null sec in the long run and more conflict overall. Tldr: a good thing in the long run.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Force projection is still the main problem. As a single entity, more renting, less moons is better. But in the great picture there are missing many things.

    Your roaming gang can disrupt rental income, but only for a short time and only in a limited space (one or two systems per gang or they get spread too thin).
    If the gang gets too large it is counter blobbed by the defenders (goons).

    I once wrote a Post in Features and Ideas for the ability to hack I-hubs and compromise income for a longer period if not defended. Imagine the roaming gangs would have lasting effects if they could roam freely.

    Something like 60% Income reduction over 3 hours if the enemy gang can hack your I-Hub for 20 Minutes. If you drive them off you can negate that effect to some point.

    There are many things CCP could do to increase small gang activities. Hopefully they get to this soon.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Considering many would doubt a goon could lie straight in bed. What do we have here? Diagrams, wall of text and insults.

    Here's what I predict, a bunch of goons alts in alt corps will sign up for the rental as "proof of concept".

    Anybody else to gets in line for goonghetto, would be lacking in the skills to profit from the space effectively, net of the rent. hint: the good ones are already renting somewhere.

    Sorry, I guess the plan for a capital ship for every little bee was just pipedream after all. Stick with the megas and caracals - and keep looking with envy at PL.

    One had hoped that the old queen would have handed the crown over to one or a committee of the drones. But I suppose the old ponzi alt has staved off bitter vet syndrome for now. What do you taste after the tears have long since lost their flavor?

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  27. I just hope that this gets more people in 0.0 .
    I am sick an tired of 0.0 roams where you don't see anyone in entire regions... .

    ReplyDelete
  28. I'm a little bit confused at the mixed messaging here. Wasn't Mittens one of the loudest advocates for ground-up instead of moon goo alliance income? Wasn't OTEC a deliberate move to highlight why moon go was fucking broken and CCP needed to fix it ASAP?

    What the fuck did he EXPECT in its place? And now he's lambasting CCP with "Welp I guess they're forcing everybody to be slumlords" - no they're not, Your Highness, slumlorddom is mandated by your alliance's insistence on lavish and financially unsustainable policies and programs. Tighten your belt a little and you'll do just fine. Nobody is putting a gun to your head and forcing Goons to have ship replacement or free capital programs.

    Mittens, during his term as CSM chair, was an advocate of "farms and fields", was he not? Is renting space to people who will exploit that space not EXACTLY THAT?

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  29. Looking forward to Goon renters being inundated with AFK cloaky campers.

    ReplyDelete

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