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.
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Thursday, June 13, 2013

On the fence: Bag 'em and tag 'em

I really like most of the features in Odyssey, but there are some that I'm still on the fence about for various reasons.  Given the way that comments work around here, I'd like to list these items as separate posts.  That way you as a reader can skip over the ones you don't care about and just talk about the ones that you do.

Next up:
  • A new way to increase a character's Security Status is now available -  Tags-for-security-status.
  • Added new NPC pirates to asteroid belts in low-security space. They are especially wanted by CONCORD, and will drop tags when they are destroyed.
  • The new tags dropped by these NPCs can be taken to CONCORD and DED stations in low security space. They can then be turned in (along with an ISK fee) using the new 'Security Office' station service. In return, you will be awarded an increase in security status.
I've written a good bit on Tags4Sec already and I think the theory is sound, workable, and generally good for the game.  But I'm not yet sure about the the implementation, specifically the spawn rates of the rats and the floor values of the tags.  I think they need some tweaking.

Right now, you need:
  • four Trainer tags to go from -10 to -8;
  • six Recruiter tags to go from -8 to -5;
  • six Transporter tags to go from -5 to -2; and,
  • if you like, four Negotiator tags to go from -2 to 0.
Now in terms of preventing repeat offender bad people from entering high-sec, the critical ones are the Transporter tags that allow you to make that all-important jump from the -5 of "barred from all high-sec" to the -2 of "high-sec bears are scared of you because you are yellow on their overview."  In my opinion, these are the ones that should be most difficult to come by in terms of spawn rates.

Instead, there are hundreds of them on the market already and the price is falling like a meteor.  As I write this, they cost 60 million ISK per tag but there's every reason to think that the price will fall by half and then maybe by half again over the next couple of weeks as profit-taking and panic take hold.  That means -- counting the CONCORD ISK sink associated with these tags -- that over time we can expect the cost to make this jump in sec status will be about 125 million ISK and will probably fall from there.

That's a cost that strikes me as too high to use casually... but still too low to be a deterrent.

Similarly, while CCP did a very smart thing by setting a "floor" to the value of these tags by making them something that CONCORD will buy directly from players, the floor price is set very low... too low in my opinion.

For the record:
  • Clone Soldier Negotiator Tag has a 3.0 million ISK CONCORD value.
  • Clone Soldier Recruiter Tag has a 2.0 million ISK CONCORD value.
  • Clone Soldier Trainer Tag has a 1.5 million ISK CONCORD value.
  • Clone Soldier Transporter Tag has a 2.5 million ISK CONCORD value.
So those are the floor values of the tags.  Theoretically as supply goes up and if demand goes down, the market prices of the tags could approach these values.  In short, at some point the tags could become far and away the tiniest expense involved in regaining sec, far outstripped by the ISK sink associated with turning the tags in.

Of course, someone could try to take control of the market and fix the price of the Transporter tag.  The question will be if the finances of the people attempting to take control will be able to keep up with the tag's spawn rate.  Maybe they can; there are a lot of rich people in EVE.  If they succeed, then the price for this change in security status won't drop to 125 million and instead will be about 325 million.  But I don't think it's happen that way; several hundred of these tags are being exchanged per day right now.  That's just for the Transporter tag.

As I write this, the Trainer tag is worth six million each (cost to go from -10 to -8, about 40 million) and the Recruiter tag is worth 16 million now, but I expect that to come down by about half over the next two weeks, which will set the cost to go from -8 to -5 to about 70 million.  In short, there's already pretty much no reason to be lower than -5 unless you want to be.  The final tag, the Negotiator, is worth about 80 million each today and it will be interesting to see what happens with it.

Finally, EVE players being EVE players, there's already a persistent rumor that each level (0.4, 0.3, 0.2, and 0.1) of low-sec space goes with one and only one type of tag.  If that turns out to be true, I think that's a terrible mistake.  EVE PvE is already too predictable.  Why make this element completely predictable?  Short version: if this is true, then find out which of the four levels of low-sec goes with that Negotiator tag...

All in all, I think this feature needs some iterating on.  In my opinion, the spawn rate of these tags was set too high and their floor value too low, and it's going to need some adjusting to become a worthwhile additional low-sec profession.  As I understood it, those were the two goals here:
  1. create a viable new profession and a new buff for low-sec; and,
  2. get people into low-sec asteroid belts where other people could shoot them.
Will that happen with the spawn rates and floors set as they are?  If the tag values fall too far, will people actually bother taking them to Jita?  I'm not so sure.  So yeah, I'm on the fence about this one, too.  Thoughts?


  1. Dinsdale PirannhaJune 13, 2013 at 9:40 PM

    You can look at it this 2 ways:

    1. CCP, once again, proves their incompetence at game-testing, and running some simple math. (New decryptor price paradigm, anyone?). Anyone who had a brain could run the math, based on the spawn rate and the NPC floor costs, to realize very quickly that the floor costs are far far to low to justify people hunting in them in low sec, unless you live there already in a large group to protect you. (I don't think anyone from The United has too much difficulty belt ratting in Rancer)

    2. The other scenario is that CCP full well understood the incredibly low price they were setting for pirates to buy back their sec status, because they wanted to make high sec even more of a gankfest for any sociopath with a few ISK in his pocket.

    I leave it for you to decide which scenario it is.

    1. Seriously? Since when has minus ten sec status acted as a deterrence to suicide ganking in hi-sec? Indeed the common factor for operating in hi-sec piracy has been run it as economically has possible. Hence the prime use the blaster boats to get task done. This economic style will be extended to gold-sec. That's where CCP has failed to understand.

    2. Concerning point 2, I don't think making it easier to gain back sec status will have that much of an influence on suicide ganking. Yes it makes it easier for "casual gankers" but I dont think there are that many of them, contrary to popular belive ganking with profit is not that easy and need some careful planning. Professional gankers tend to use dedicated alt anyway and their secstatus doesn't matter that much as they are only on field for the actual gank.
      My vote is for scenario 3. Combining a quality of life rise for low sec residents, an isk sink, more life and targets in lowsec.

  2. I've been farming them on and off and I can confirm from my own experience that each rat spawns in one particular sec status. Essentially, recruiters in .4, down through to negotiators in .1. I have yet to see one spawn outside of that pattern.

    I suppose it makes sense from a lore perspective, as the most wanted criminals are found in the worst parts of low sec (.1 space), but yeah, I agree it should be randomized to some extent at least.

  3. "Finally, EVE players being EVE players, there's already a persistent rumor that each level (0.4, 0.3, 0.2, and 0.1) of low-sec space goes with one and only one type of tag."

    I live in an Amarr lowsec pocket with 0.4 systems. I did some belt ratting and only found trainer type rats over the course of a few days. The other types are either very rare or don't spawn in 0.4 systems.

  4. Personally I'm against the idea of being able to buy security status to begin with. For me, it's kind of immersion breaking. "Oh? You killed some pirates? Let me buy those tags from you and adjust your record." Goes and gets -10 again. "Oh, you killed some more pirates? Let me buy those tags from you and adjust your record ... again, as if nothing new has happened." Rinse. Repeat.

    EVE has always been a game about choice and harsh consequence. This takes away from that.

    While I agree there should be a way to regain security status, I don't think this is it personally.

    Of course, you know my Dynamic Landscapes theory, and part of that is that all status/militia rank is temporary based on performance.

    1. Well at the end of the day, security status really comes down to what CONCORD thinks of your actions. And CONCORD has always been bribeable. This just makes it explicit. So I have no problem with the mechanic itself and I think it works fine within the lore of the game.

      Wait. Did I just defend a change in EVE on role-playing terms?

    2. Perhaps it would have been better if you can kill other players with the neg-sec stat to adjust your own. I can immediately see that its farmable samiliar to the pre-bounty change. But the core of the idea has merit. Who ganks the gankers?

  5. I think talking about the price floor being too low on these tags is silly. Prices should be set by the market, like (nearly) everything else. CCP should only be worried about supply.

    As for the tags themselves, the transporter type will be unquestionably in the highest demand. If tag drop types are predictable by system, then they will be the highest supplied as well and prices should level out. If not, and drop rates are similar, then there will be a glut of every other tag type and only the Transporter tags will have value in a month.

    Personally, I'm predicting Transporter tags to level out around 30mil each and the rest of the tag types to fall to ~5mil. That's following my assumptions that tag type drops aren't predictable and supply of each time is the same. We'll see if that holds out. I don't think they'll fall much further, because as they do people will stop bothering to rat for them. And if they raise much further, more people will rat for them.

  6. Yeah, I'm not really sure why pirates need any kind of mechanic for increasing their security. If you want a low-sec status, live with it.

  7. While some people seem to believe that the primary goal of Tags4Sec is to make it easier for pilots with neg sec status, esp. gankers, to re-enter high sec, this is completely wrong. Pilots who need to enter high sec for "legitimate business reasons" can always roll an alt, to travel around high sec. And, neg sec status is no barrier to a ganker; -10.0 gankers can be seen regularly along the Uedama and Uttindar hauler routes. They don't need Tags4Sec to play their game.

    The true goal of Tags4Sec is to encourage more high sec players to play in low sec PVP.

    The number one barrier to getting high sec carebears to PVP in low sec has *always* been the sec status hit, which required ridiculous amounts of NPC grind time to fix, under the old system. The only way around this was to always let the low sec pirate shoot first, which, ofc, put the carebear at a serious disadvantage and just discouraged them further from wanting to play any low sec PVP. Now, they can go PVP in low on equal terms with the neg sec status players, then buy the tags to fix their sec status, and return home to high sec. Eventually, more of them will end up staying in low sec, or possibly migrating onwards to null sec.

    But, for this to work, the tags need to be plentiful and relatively cheap. The cheaper the tags, the more high sec players will be able to afford to fix their sec status and go play in low.

    This is why the tag price floor is low, and why the tag drops are plentiful. Don't expect CCP to push up the prices, nor reduce the drop rate; it is more likely that they will increase the drop rate, if prices remain too high.

    1. Never thought about it this way, but it certainly makes more sense than the other reasons stated.

      As a -10 high sec ganker myself, I can certainly confirm that I have never needed to "fix" my security status, in order to fly around in high sec to pop miners and haulers.

    2. Nah. High sec players going in to low sec for fun when they have time... dont care about sec status. It is never a real problem. Only people that have problem are dedicated pvp-ers. If you do missions or incursions in high sec as primary ISK maker... you get you res status back fast. So for those high sec players that want to try low sec ... this is pointless.

      This is usefull only for people that do PVP in low as primary.

      btw If prices go down to much..who will do the ratting in low sec for stuff that is so cheap you can make mor ein basic lvl 4 high sec missions?

      System sounds good.. but at the end it will just be another option for people that have a lot of isk as sec ratings go.

      Option for good isk if prices stay up. And they will coz a lot of kill hungry players will wait in popular systems.


  8. If people do not bother to bring them to jita, prices will go up.

  9. CCP catering to the gankers once more. What about risk and reward? wheres the risk in going negative sec status now?


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