This month’s Blog Banter comes from Drackarn of Sand, Cider and Spaceships. He has foolishly chosen to poke the hornet’s nest that is the non-consensual PvP debate. Whilst you read his question, I’ll be finding a safe place to hide.
“A quick view of the Eve Online forums can always find someone complaining about being suicide ganked, whining about some scam they fell for or other such tears. With the Goons’ Ice Interdiction claiming a vast amount of mining ships, there were calls for an “opt out of PvP” option.
Should this happen? Should people be able to opt-out of PvP in Eve Online. Should CONCORD prevent crime rather than just handing out justice after the event? Or do the hi-sec population already have too much protection from the scum and villainy that inhabits the game?”
No. NO. ABSOLUTELY TOTALLY NO opting out of PvP or buffing CONCORD. But neither do I feel that we should move strongly into the other direction and take things away from highsec. Instead, I feel what we really need is improvements to the middle ground of lowsec and NPC nullsec.
First, some numbers, with thanks to CCP Diagoras who’s Twitter is an excellent source of statistics porn. Have a look at this sexy pie chart. That’s a lot of people living in highsec. But see how nullsec is second in that? Well, that to me confirms that people like safe space. Highsec is safest by mechanics, and nullsec by what players can do to secure it. I’m assuming that most of nullsec here is sov space, as there is way more of that, and that from personal experience the population numbers I see in NPC nullsec are kind of like lowsec.
Ok, so why do people like safe space? I thought we had this thing of risk versus reward. Indeed, we do, but there is something else to factor in. It’s called effort versus reward. Ever hear people talking about how they pulled a billion in a day out of a C5 wormhole? That seems like something everyone should be doing then, right, because it pays so much that it justifies the risk. Except lots and lots of people prefer to cling to what is often dismissed as safer alternatives. I don’t believe they’re being chosen only because they are safer. I feel that ease of doing them plays a part too.
Ok, so what makes something easy to do and why do players prefer that? Well, a lot of MMO players are in fact quite casual, either because they do not have a lot of time, or because they’re not around that long yet. So they’re not going to want to deal with the logistics of a C5 wormhole when they can get something nearly as good by pugging through incursions, or running missions. Neither are players going to prefer living in other areas of space which simply do not offer the tools to secure them properly. Hence, sov space is a natural option for someone who’s been around a while. Nullsec is the highest reward versus risk versus ease. You can very well get away with logging in a few hours a week and be a productive asset to an industrial group out there. I do believe this can also happen in wormhole space, and I suspect the population there will creep up, but afaik there are in the end more good sov systems than there are higher end wormhole systems.
Now, I am directly opposed to opt-out of PVP, because one thing should always remain true in EVE: Safest does not equal 100% guaranteed safety. If someone really wants, they can screw you over. Even if you are a pure highsec dweller that almost never undocks. You will have to move sometime. Or you will be running market or industry stuff, and market pvp is a very viable option. I can’t think of a scenario where you can not get back to a player, unless they enjoy paying for spinning their ship all day. I believe this lack of total safety is needed, and would change the game entirely if it were removed, because it would break the pvp sandbox. Right now if someone is an asshat, you can always make them pay for being one. It also forces players to have a certain level of ‘smarts’, else they for example get scammed, which in my opinion breeds a better experience for all. It’s like a “you have to be this tall” sign on a rollercoaster ride so everyone can have the wild experience they want, except in EVE, the sign is missing and you find out first hand what happens if you are not tall enough yet!
Highsec fundamentally is fine in my book. A safest area of space. A starting point. A place to go and rest. Or somewhere to do what you enjoy doing when you like the safest option. It’s much needed for many things in its current form and will always be needed. I also believe nullsec and w-space are fine, and are given ample attention. Actually, instead of talking what is fine, let’s talk about what isn’t fine: lowsec, and NPC nullsec.
When looking at that chart, one would think that the safety of space actually goes highsec > nullsec > lowsec > w-space. While the intended idea seems to be highsec > lowsec > nullsec > w-space. And that is how the game is balanced for in terms of rewards. But in terms of ease, well, the former seems almost true, and it has largely to do with the fact that lowsec neither gives players the tools to keep themselves safe, nor does it help you with safekeeping. There, I said it. But Myrhial, there are gate guns and sec status! Surely they- No, stop right there. Nobody pirating in lowsec really gives a damn. There are plenty of ways around what little NPC protection there is, and there are no ways to go around policing yourself. At least in NPC nullsec, you can put up bubbles and camp someone in perfectly. Where as lowsec station camps will always be subject to locking times.
So what do I propose? Either more mechanical safety in lowsec, or give players more tools. And since this is a sandbox, I’m biased towards the latter. Or we could have a mix of both. You see, lowsec systems still have sovereignty. So I’ve always found it curious there is no faction police defending it. Sure, CONCORD not being there because they are way smaller than the four Empires combined, totally making sense. The CONCORD penalty is too hard for lowsec. But faction police intervening when a lawful citizen is under attack? Would make perfect sense to me. Make them tankable. Heck maybe even go as far as if you are -5.00 with a faction, you can still go to their lowsec space, but you lose out on faction police support. And maybe make it so that if you attack someone in lowsec, you take a standing hit with the faction that owns it. As for giving players power in lowsec, faction standings could come into play here as well, give players all kinds of perks like I proposed for NPC nullsec (see link in next paragraph). Or do something like sov lite. NPCs keep sov but share it with a group claiming the system. I’m sure there are other, possibly even better ways of going about this.
As for NPC nullsec, I’ve written about this during the 30th banter, so I’ll leave that article to do the explaining. Again you can see here that I’d like for standings to matter more. Lots of people say they hate grinding for standings, but honestly, if they gave more rewards, I’m sure they’d be more appreciated and better maintained too. Also, a big step was already taken into the right direction by lowering mission requirements. Now all we need is better newbie program education on pirate standings and how they matter, as well as perhaps more things like the SoE arc, where shooting pirates does not give you standings hits to them. Or just other ways for newbies that want to be pirate supporters one day to survive and thrive without needing to resort to missions for easy ISK.