Is Hi-Sec actually broken? Part 2

Part 1 TLDR

Hi Sec is the healthiest area of the game, don’t mess it up.

 

Unhealthy Attitudes

When it comes to Hi Sec, I think there are two especially unhealthy attitudes.

The first is that it is unfair for other players to be able to impact your gaming there.

I regularly hear people in my corporation lamenting the fact you can be suicide ganked, or Can flipped, or have war declared on you.  You can imagine what the attitude towards Hulkageddon is!  For some, they just don’t understand why people would want to, for others they want to be safe to do whatever they fancy.

I love the fact Hi Sec is not 100% safe.  The three main reasons, in no particular order:

. It fits the EVE backstory.  Life for the vast majority of the populace in EVE is harsh and very unfair.  Have a look at the crew guidelines in the EVE Wiki:

http://wiki.eveonline.com/en/wiki/New_Eden_crew_guidelines

In the first month of playing, I had lost a couple Frigates and a Destroyer.  While I simply warped off in my pod, over 90% of the crew would have died, approximately 8 to 24 in total.  When I messed up in a Low Sec Complex and lost my Drake, around 80% of the crew (somewhere between  40 and 80) died.  I can’t say I gave them a second thought.  The environment is defined as cruel and unforgiving.  An arbitrary safe zone where there is no risk at all just does not fit.

. It is part of what gives value and consequence to your actions in EVE.  I am going to struggle to describe this one well.  When you undock a ship in EVE, you put it at risk.  If you lose it, you suffer a financial set back.  This is part of what puts value around your efforts to generate ISK.  Take away that risk, and you devalue your efforts in game.  The old saying “easy come, easy go” sort of explains my mindset here.  If your life in Hi Sec is 100% safe and easy, the value of your achievements (and the game itself) is diminished.

. It generates game content.  I adjust the way I play EVE to reflect this danger.  I always align to a station when mining, keep an eye on local and DScan when in a mission, I try to balance the value of what I haul to make myself less of a target, I don’t auto pilot if I carry anything of worth, I’ve thought long and hard about what ship types to use for certain cargos, and the balance between tank and capacity on them.  Just read a sampling of the EVE blogs to see how many stories are generated by Hi Sec conflict.  Take that away from the game, and it will be far poorer for it.

 

The second unhealthy attitude when it comes to Hi Sec is the venomous hatred many players have towards its inhabitance.  From the CSM Chairman down, there are people who detest the notion of people never leaving Hi Sec – or of Hi Sec itself.

For some people, this is because they think EVE should be a hard game, and that people should be forced to play it in its hardest form.  I can accept and understand why some would think that way.  I just don’t think enough people would play EVE to keep it viable if that was the case.  I would stop playing – my real life situation just doesn’t allow for me to play EVE that way.

For others it seems more the old attitude that if people are not playing the game like they are, then they are worthless pieces of shit who are not doing it right.  I am less accepting of this small minded, narcissistic view.  In effect, they want to force people to play the game their way.  Not only does that destroy the sandpit nature of EVE, it would also see the Subscription count free fall as you are arbitrarily forced to change how you play.

For others it seems the attitude comes from wanting more targets to fall under their guns, and if you can just force people out of Hi Sec, it would be PVP nirvana.  But again, how many people would end up playing the game?

Funny enough, even though these attitudes are at the opposite ends of the spectrum, they are basically the same.  “I think everyone should play the game my way”.

 

Focus on being a Sandpit

EVE is usually described as a sandpit MMO.  Your character options are not just limited to a handful of templates that actually work.  There is no level cap.  You don’t have a pre-defined set of quests and adventure arcs that you have to follow.  The industry and economy is huge, rich and complex.  While the combat system does lean towards cookie cutter fits, the variety of vessels, configuration options, fleet composition, doctrines and counters is huge and ever changing.  There truly are a vast number of different things you can do within the game.  This is what I love about EVE.

When people talk about changing Hi Sec, the very first thing I ask myself is would the changes make EVE more of a Sandpit, or less?  I don’t mind the idea of new narrow focused content being added, but I don’t want narrow mindedness to result in less available options and play styles being available.

A healthy Hi Sec means a healthy base from which EVE can operate.  By all means work on enticing these people out into Low and Null Sec, but do not force them too.

 

Why do I write so much crap on the topic?

I get a lot of enjoyment and relaxation out of EVE.  It takes my mind off real life issues, gives me some down time, and is a great distraction.  It seems so cringe worthy to admit it – but I care about the game and it is important to me.

There are many aspects of the game however that I just cannot physically be involved in.  My play time is sporadic, often interrupted, and generally doesn’t last longer than an hour at a time.  I’ve been in a SOV based 0.0 alliance before, and I simply couldn’t attend the CTA’s required to support that type of game style.  Even if I did manage to get involved in a CTA fleet, and didn’t have to leave early, or drop out at short notice, I didn’t have enough game time left to grind large amounts of ISK required to cover heavy losses.

If SOV 0.0 was the only aspect of EVE available to me, I would have had to sadly give it away years ago.  My Corp is basically full of people with exactly the same issues and view.  They want to play EVE, and enjoy doing so, but they can’t do the 0.0 End Game or live the wormhole life.  It is in my self-interest then to want as many options available to casual players as possible.

As I remarked last time, I don’t think Hi Sec is broken.  I think the Goon’s Gallente Ice Interdiction campaign is evidence of that.  I absolutely love the fact it was possible to do that within the game.  The market manipulation and propaganda were brilliant, and it force players to adapt or die.  There were consequences for the participant however.  I expect many will have had their Hi Sec movements hampered by Security Status hits which will require painstaking grinding of NPC’s to reverse.

So the griefing of Hi Sec Bears is entirely acceptable to me – assuming the methods are relatively fair.

 

Part 2 TLDR?

When thinking about Hi Sec changes, ensure you focus on maintaining the sandpit nature of the game, including allowing for casual play styles.

The year that was

My first post on this EVE blog was back on January 16th, 2011.  The goal of the blog has remained the same – to help give me some focus in the game, voicing goals, thoughts and observations.  It is nothing more, nothing less.  Over the year:

My Main has gone from 70 to 90M SP.  He picked up the ability to fly all T2 BS hulls, use all T2 BS weaponry, and fly and appropriately fit all standard Dreads and Carriers in game.

Alt 1 has gone from 65 to 83M SP.  Much to his chagrin he picked up the ability to fly Exhumers, worked on getting almost all of his tanking skills to rank V, and most recently has started working on being able to fly Minmatar hulls and use their favored T2 weaponry.

Alt 2 has gone from 8 to 16M SP, picking up PI skills, the ability to pilot an Orca, and most recently fly Exhumers.

Alt 3 has gone from 6 to 10M SP, adding mainly Minmatar related PVE skills to his capabilities.

Alt 4 was born and trained up 2M SP in PI and hauling.

I had some goals that I succeeded in.  After a slow start, I have managed to increase my relatively passive ISK income from 100M to 200M ISK a month through PI and backwater trading.  It should surpass that noticeably in the next year.  I re-opened my third account.  I looked at the Sister of EVE Epic mission Arc, investigated static Hi-Sec sites, and played around with Strategic Cruiser and Rattlesnake fittings for PVE.   I finally found a Player Corp with a play style that suited me; setting up 3 new bases of operation in their Hi Sec, Low Sec and NPC Null Sec homes, and I got my Main into his own Carrier.

There were some goals that I failed in.  I wanted to look into invention, which I didn’t – hopefully this year.  I wanted to re-anchor a personal POS, but while I did that, I did not leave it running for long.  The costs are just too high for casual play.  I wanted to grind standings for my home in Devoid, which I just couldn’t motivate myself for (and was saved from doing so by joining a Corp located elsewhere).  I wanted to get more into PVP, but only ended up going out a dozen times for a couple kills.

My goals in the new year include invention, more PVP, trying to cut down on the number of ships I own, review all my rail fits, review all the new T2 modules and update my fits, and review the T2 rigs for some of my PVE fittings, given how cheap they can be now.

Over the year my ISK balanced was increased by around:

1,000M PI and Trade
1,200M Data Cores
500M Missions, Mining & Ratting
1,500M selling of old ships / supplies / surplus stocks

My ISK balance was decreased by:

1,400M Fitted Carrier
2,500M Skill books (Mainly Capital related)
Setting up some 30 odd PVP ships (although almost all cruiser hull size or smaller)

I went from being able to run 3 clients on my PC to 2.  I talked about the disaster that was the Incarna debacle, with many of my posts disbelieving at the attitude and decision making by CCP.  This changed to enthusiasm for the much more positive Crucible expansion.  I wrote 5 EVE blog banters (and am late on the sixth), and mused multiple times over my pet topic – that EVE needs to make it easier or more rewarding for solo and small groups of players live outside of Empire.

At the start of the year I wasn’t ready to give up EVE, but knew I needed focus and goals.  Heading towards 2012 I am looking forward to my somewhat glacial advance through the game continuing.  Thanks to the people who have commented on my blog – your input has been appreciated.  Fly safe.

Slowly getting back into the swing of things

PI runs done, trade orders collected and tweaked.  I have some 700M of buy orders up at the moment.  Considering how small I started off, it has steadily been gaining momentum.

I haven’t had much luck with my PI sales – it looks like people stocked up just before Crucible, and I have priced them rather high.  The market does seem to be slowly moving towards my prices though.

Serpentine Logic ( http://serpentinelogic.wordpress.com/ ) put me onto an article over at the White Rose Conventicle about the value of AURUM on the EVE market.  An amazing read – http://www.whiteroseconventicle.com/style/fashion/1053-the-market-value-of-an-aurum.html

I collected my EVE Christmas present, faction missiles and a set of Fuel Block BPO.  A quick Google Search suggested perfect ME was 40, so I ran the set over to a public research station and queued them up.  I’ll go back and collect them in 36 days – the majority of that just waiting for the slot to free.

Alt 2 is under a day off being able to pilot and appropriately fit a Covetor (and a Hulk not long after that.)  I might set up one for maximum cargo capacity, and just when I have a spare 10 minutes here and there, use it to slowly stockpile up some minerals.  Funny how these little efforts increase the ISK balance over time.

Do you wish to launch the repair tool – again, and again?

What a cruel punishment this slipped disc has been.  Recovery has been coming along well, except in one key area, sitting down.  Even after I could walk ok and generally felt comfortable, I still couldn’t sit for more than 5 minutes without the back tightening up and the pain settling in.  It has taken a fortnight, including a week off work, but I finally seemed to have turned a corner.  More EVE time again.

I’ve had to run the repair tool three more times now since Crucible was first released.  I have two installs on my PC.  The main one was corrupted by one of the larger patches – which reported it completed ok, but wouldn’t subsequently run.  The same install was corrupted again later by a client update – but not to it!  It coincided with the update of the second install.  Finally one of my two installs on my laptop also completed a different patch update ok, but wouldn’t run.  That time the repair tool download file was going to be over 1GB, so I cancelled the repair and simply copied the working install over the top of it.  I did get rather paranoid however, and scanned both my PC and Laptop for hard disk errors, viruses, malware or anything related in the Windows Event Viewer, finding nothing.  Odd.

I have managed to do one PI run over the fortnight, and last night I ran around and collected two weeks of trade purchases and updated all my buy and sell orders.  I had to drag the Obelisk out due to the volume I had to pick up, which slowed the process down considerably.

I’ve found a couple ship hulls which are currently rather profitable in my constellation.  Unfortunately some of them are large, including one particular type of battleship, so the “quick” trade runs often turn into slow freighter crawls.

(I know I don’t have to collect them, and could just do remote sell orders.  I have enough trade items now though that I would run out of slots if I took that approach, plus the station I sell out of happens to be close to a school system, which helps move stock.)

I am slowly building a portfolio of merchandise which has low competition, reasonable filling of buy orders and acceptable turnover of sell orders.  I generally buy for 50% or less of the sell orders, so the margins are good.  (I make 30+M on each of the Battleship hulls for example.)  Some items drop off the list as other traders come in and out of the market.  Some items don’t move, but I can either reprocess for minerals at a profit, or just move to Amarr when I get a stack of them and profit that way.

I have a number of half written posts to come.  I also need to try and tie together some of the loose ends and rambling threats that seem to flow across the blog.  Maybe an end of first year summary or the like.

Is Hi-Sec broken? Part 1

 

Serpentine’s recent blog post referenced another High Sec related EO Forum post:

http://serpentinelogic.wordpress.com/2011/12/15/good-post-in-jita-park-shocker/

The Original forum Post is here:

https://forums.eveonline.com/default.aspx?g=posts&t=26049

It had some interesting points, and seems to have garnered some positive feedback.  To my mind however it was yet another Hi Sec conversation that misses the mark.  The author Malacanis said himself that he could not comprehend the mindset of a Carebear, or how you could integrate them into the way he thinks EVE should be played.  Therein lies the problem with the majority of these types of conversations – they focus on promoting a certain style of game play, without fair appreciation or understanding of how other’s play the game.

So here is my very humble opinion on Hi Sec:

Purpose

Malacanis’ post suggested the original purpose for Hi Sec was to act as a staging area for new players, who would then move into Low Sec, and finally into Null Sec.  Hi Sec is far bigger than that now.  It has a huge economy, with trade, transportation, manufacturing, and lower grade resource gathering that span from small solo endeavors to vast industrial efforts.  There are complex mixes of people living there, with a plethora of different types of interactions.  It is the partially tame city, where the frontier based players can come with their rarer resources for trade, rest, respite, escape, or a change of scenery.  I do not think Hi Sec can still be thought of as just a Newbie training area – and to do so when proffering up ideas on how to change it would be very dangerous.

Who lives there?

Just about every player in the game, at some point or another, lives in Hi Sec.  When people discuss it however they tend to be focusing on those who live there exclusively.  Malaconis covered some of the obvious groups, which I will repeat here:

. New Players

. Casual Players without the time to invest in living outside of Hi Sec

. Independent Players not inclined to the group play required outside of Hi Sec

. Commercial Players who can meet all their industrious goals in Hi Sec

. Carebears, in this case defined as risk adverse

 

That is not an uncommon sort of breakdown.  It does however miss a couple key categories of people who can also be focused only on Hi-Sec:

. Hunters and scavengers, who use game mechanics to kill and rob other Hi Sec players

. Scammers, who attempt to gain from immoral actions

. Griefers, focused on negatively impacting the game experience of others

 

There are also plenty of people who may leave Empire, but do spend extended periods there, such as:

. Refugees, regrouping after being forced out of their Low / Null Sec homes

. Holiday Makers, simply taking a break from the rigors of life outside of Empire

. Farmers, replenishing ISK and ship stocks because they haven’t been able to do so in their Low / Null Sec homes

 

In fact – there are hundreds of categories and styles of player in Empire, from the hard core PVPer, to Role-player, to the frightened.  It is a complicated mix which is far from just being a utopia safe haven for Carebears.

Critically important

One thing people seem to gloss over is that Hi Sec is critically important for EVE and CCP.  This is more than just from the mammoth economy it provides.  As far as you can tell from the statistics available, there are a sizeable number of active players who never leave Hi Sec.  Force game changes onto them that they really dislike, and you could easily and dramatically lower subscriptions.  (Far more I would suggest, than Incarna did.)

 

What’s wrong with it?

If I was to summarise the most common complaints about Hi Sec, I think they come down to five categories:

. There is not enough content available

A brand new player can find literally years of content in Hi Sec that they can research, skill up for, experience and master.  I would like to see more content –dynamic missions, improvements to mining, new industry options and so on – but to my mind the content itself isn’t a critical issue.

 

. It is too dangerous

There were some aggression exploits that I did not like, which Crucible now provides fair warning against, and insurance is no longer paid out if you are killed by Concord.  Those changes make Hi Sec somewhat safer (or importantly, fairer).  I do not however think it needs to be made entirely safe.  I think it is good that you can be suicide ganked, or have war declared on you, or fall for a market or contract scam.  It adds an element of risk to the game which helps define EVE as different.

 

. It is not dangerous enough

On the opposite side of the spectrum – should it be even more dangerous?  I am not a fan of shield Dec’s, so in that one particular area I wouldn’t mind seeing things changed.  However generally I think the balance is ok.  You are never fully safe, and it is still possible to have far reaching impacts from events like the Goonswam Gallente Ice Interdiction or Hulkageddon.

 

. You can earn too much ISK

At the moment I would assume the best ISK to be earnt in Hi Sec would be from Trading and Incursions.  Your average Hi Sec miner, manufacturer, PI, explorer and mission runner would probably be earning 20M ISK or less per hour of effort.  I know people would quickly exclaim that if you are only earning that much ISK, that you “are not doing it right”.  However after playing this game for many years, the income people claim is possible rarely ever matches the reality.  Of course you can earn more ISK if you have 80M SP in PVE and a 20 Bil mission ship – and you would hope so.  But the average player can’t.  Yes you can earn 50M an hour mining in Empire – but when you divide that income across your max boosted Orca and fleet of Hulks, it is less than 20M per active account.  You can certainly zerg certain missions, or really profit from supplying certain niche items, but the average player doesn’t.  So that 20 odd Mil an hour equates to 10 hours to buy and fit a HAC, or 20 hours to do the same for a  T3 cruiser, or 60 hours to undock in a fitted carrier.  Should it take even longer?  I don’t think so.

 

. Not enough Hi Sec Pilots are making the move to Low and Null Sec

My first thought when I hear this is why do you want people to move out of Hi Sec?  The most common reason seems to be because they think that is the way the game should be played, or they have the hope that a higher population outside of Hi Sec equates to more PVP.  The reality is there is often no compelling reason to make the move.  Low and Null Sec simply do not cater for all EVE play styles.

 

What needs to be done?

In my view nothing in particular needs to be done to Hi Sec.  It is a dynamic, vibrant, well-populated area which keeps large numbers of people happily in the game.  Sure it can be improved – but I don’t think there is anything critically wrong with it.

It often seems to me that “solutions” for Hi Sec lean towards nerfing it, and forcing players to change their play style.  Not only do I think that approach is doomed to fail, I think it runs the very real risk of damaging EVE.

Instead I lean towards options which increase the diversity and freedom within the game.  Hi Sec is relatively healthy.  If you want people to move out of it, give them compelling options and play styles which suit them – all carrot, no stick.

Part 2 later

Back in action, for a few minutes at a time

The Physio is allowing me to spend short periods of time in front of the computer again.  The CT scan has shown a slipped disc and an adjacent disc bulge.  Thankfully they are on the small side, so I just need Physio and rest.

Because of that, my EVE play has been rather barren for the last 6 days.  I moved my main and Alt1 out of 0.0 and into their +5 clones, figuring I wouldn’t be undocking for a little while.  I then added some longish skills to the training queue.  I have missed the last three 48 hour PI cycles, didn’t do my weekly market update, and only glanced at EVE blogs and forums.  I might try to get some of that done later today or tomorrow.

EVE has had several patches deployed for Crucible, including one scheduled for tonight.

Crucible 1.0.0 has had 3 client updates

http://www.eveonline.com/updates/patchnotes.asp?newpatchlogID=3219

1.0.1 – was a substantial list of fixes, and included 2 client updates.

http://www.eveonline.com/updates/patchnotes.asp?newpatchlogID=3264

1.0.2 – to be deployed tonight, also has a substantial list of fixes

http://www.eveonline.com/updates/patchnotes.asp?newpatchlogID=3270

 

The DEV blogs continue.

Here is an update on the search box options, and the related information in the Wiki.  Useful information to keep handy.

http://www.eveonline.com/devblog.asp?a=blog&nbid=3220

http://wiki.eveonline.com/en/wiki/Assets

 

They also released stats on ships that are blown up in game and where:

http://www.eveonline.com/devblog.asp?a=blog&nbid=3235

And some stats related to some of the new items in cruicible, such as the Teir 3 Battlecruisers, Player Owned Customs Offices, and the increased activity in game:

http://www.eveonline.com/devblog.asp?a=blog&nbid=3266

 

The second of the free gifts has been released, and CCP is also now allowing you to select your own Christmas Gift from a list of options.

http://www.eveonline.com/devblog.asp?a=blog&nbid=3269

Jester does a reasonable job again of giving an overview of what is available:

http://jestertrek.blogspot.com/2011/12/whats-it-worth-to-you.html

The primary thought amongst bloggers seems to be that the remap is the best option.  (Although as I write this, it has been temporarily removed.)  I actually have spare remaps on my accounts, so didn’t bother with that option.  After humming and haring for a while, I ended up selecting a set of Fuel Block BPO’s, and two lots of the Medium Navy Missiles.  (Figuring out of all the options, those were the ones I would most likely use all the ammunition types from.)

Out of Action

Put my back out on Friday morning and been unable to sit at my computer since.  Doctor, painkillers, CT scan, Physio visits and days off work.  Funny how the thought of spending all day lazing in bed seems appealing – yet when the opportunity arises, all you then want to do is get out of bed…