The following guest article was written by MinutemanKirk for FactionWarfare.com. MinutemanKirk is a long time member of the Gallente Militia living in low-sec. Having been with Quantum Cats Syndicate [QCATS] for almost 4 years, he has served the roles of head diplomat and FC during most of that time. You can find him on twitter @MinutemanKirk.
Eve is a game without bounds… mostly. Players are allowed to do anything they want, within the confines of the game limits. Want to scam someone? By all means! Want to launch bombs in High-Sec? Not so much. This begs the question: if Eve is truly a sandbox game, why shouldn’t one be allowed to use anything, anywhere? The answer is, perhaps, slightly contradictory.
CCP champions Eve’s ability to do anything you want, whenever and however you want. This creates a problem though, there are Eve players already in the game that would absolutely want to make life miserable for just about everyone, new players and veterans alike. So CCP creates a relative safe zone called High-Sec, where new players and players wishing to avoid conflict as much as possible, can dwell in relative bliss.
But then there are players who want Eve unchained, where empires can be scratched out from nothing to eventually grow into super powers, and where anything can happen. Eve: by the players and for the players, so CCP creates Null-Sec to allow just that. A place where anything can happen without any immediate impact from things like CONCORD or gate guns.
In between “known space”, we have a unique area called wormholes. W-space was not designed to be a “home”, or a route one simply passes through. Yet players eventually made it both those things. It is a land where people can amass great fortunes and enjoy relatively small scale warfare with like-minded groups (though even these battles can, in some cases, become quite large). Other entities can use W-space as a shortcut by probing multiple holes, great traps have been sprung, and distances crossed with little trouble.
Finally, we have Low-Sec. Currently a strange, gray area in between all of the above. Pirates generally call these areas of space their home. Their crimes do not go without punishment, however, and camping a gate for neutrals does require some skill or logi in order to be successful. Low-Sec, being between many areas of interest for many groups, is also a great highway, the dark sky lit with cyno’s, or gate flashes of hundreds of ships. This chaotic place also houses Faction Warfare, and a strange conglomerate of bittervets, newbros, retired Null-Secers and other assortments of people often call it home.
Low-Sec has been in dire straits for some time. Outside of Faction War (FW), the activity levels depend greatly upon where larger groups live or move through. I asked Sugar Kyle, one of the Low-Sec CSM members, to comment on the state of Low-Sec:
“I don’t think Low-Sec is broken so much as undefined. This leads to us feeling [it is] broken because we play Low-Sec in so many different ways that the holes that crop up due to the lack of a solid support structure feel like missing pieces instead of pieces that never formed, which is what they are.”
The lack of content has also been obvious to CCP who, in more recent patches, has seen fit to add Low-Sec-only content to improve life for its residents. From “tags for sec” to Mordus ship spawns, a variety of Low-Sec life improvements have been added. This, however, has only been continuing a trend from CCP regarding Low-Sec: by continuing to add things as they go without giving Low-Sec meaning, Low-Sec simply becomes a rolling stone of random ideas that wouldn’t or shouldn’t be implemented elsewhere. Is this alright? Is there anything wrong with a mindset like that?
To understand this, we must first ask what the purpose of Low-Sec is.
Opinions vary on this question, as they should, without a clear definition of a specific game mechanic, it leaves itself open to interpretation. Many Null-Sec players will say that Low-Sec is merely a stepping stone into null. A place where carebears can begin to learn the aspects of PvP without being required to do CTA’s, or “obey” the alliance CEO without question. FW, they might say, is a further extension of this. With “sov lite” mechanics, it is clearly a training ground with the ultimate purpose of ending up in null. Is this a fair assessment though? Not really. If Low-Sec’s “end game” was to get people moved into Null-Sec, then it would stand to reason that the only people actually left in lowsec would be newbros, terribads, or raging egomaniacs that have no place in Null-Sec. But this isn’t the case at all! Some of the most respected individual pilots dwell in Low-Sec corps, from pure pirate corps like The Tuskers [TSKRS] and Stay Frosty [ST-FR], or FW corps like Quantum Cats Syndicate [QCATS] and the recently defunct Shadows of the Federation [SOTF], to alliances like Shadow Cartel and Snuff Box, there is certainly no shortage of skilled pilots that continue to live (and thrive) in Low-Sec.
Experience then, would indicate, that Low-Sec is not merely the realm of the “in-betweens pilots”, what about farming then? Is Low-Sec only a land where some pilots go to make mad ISK while rebuilding, like TEST and Nuli have done in the past? While it is true that large amounts of ISK can be made quite quickly (there are equally profitable endeavors available in every other area of space), tremendous amounts of kills still occur on a daily basis. Additionally, how many WH ships do you see that average over a billion ISK?. FW has had campaigns that rival, in terms of sheer number of kills, the greatest of Null-Sec conflicts. Recently, two of the most active systems in all of Eve were Houla and Okkamon, both in FW space. So then, again experience would suggest that Low-Sec is not only a place for making ISK, but also real conflict clearly occurs.
So what then, is the definition of Low-Sec? Is it merely a safer “extension” of Null-Sec? No, and we see this in CCP design. Things like bubbles, bombs, doomsdays, SOV, and super capitol construction are all prohibited in Low-Sec. Why? Because I believe that, through the course of the designing of Eve, CCP came to believe that, to some extent, Low-Sec should be about smaller gang and solo oriented warfare and less about mega-blobs. Has this been working? Not at all. While it’s true that Low-Sec has been the place to go for solo, small gang, and small fleet warfare, one of the biggest battles in the history of Eve was fought in Asakai (also FW space) and fleet fights of 200+ over POS’s are not uncommon. Should this be changed? I believe the answer is a solid yes.
Why the problem should be fixed
By having a pseudo-definition of Low-Sec, it could give CCP a chance to implement ideas, policies, and elements that wouldn’t necessarily be possible or popular in the name of “protecting” the culture it would create in just the same way they “protect” the different cultures in Null-Sec, High-Sec, and W-space. A form of this protection comes in the form of accessibility. All three of the above mentioned space areas have a “built in” way of limiting movements and incursions through their space; High-Sec prohibits cynos, and the immediate reactions of CONCORD forbid criminals from dwelling long. Null-Sec has system cyno inhibitors, bubble cams, jump bridges to rapidly move assets, and no restrictions in how it can respond to an incursion of significant size. W-Space is protected twofold, one by the need of scanning to access it, and second by the inherent stability, based on mass, of WH entrances. WH’s can also be manipulated deliberately to make finding specific systems exceedingly difficult.
Low-Sec has no such method of defense. The current debates around “power projection” are evidence enough of the effects of this. Currently, a well-organized (or even badly organized) force can move at will, without fear of being stopped by anything other than a gate camp of overwhelming strength. Furthermore, because of the forbidden bubbles, super capitals are nearly invincible, allowing them to jump around helter-skelter, and interrupt or ruin any fight they choose.
This presents a serious problem for Low-Sec residents who want to do more than simply fly subcapitol fleets. There are a large number of pilots with skillpoints going upwards of 100million, that want to use those skillpoints from time to time, but are severely hampered by the ever present threat of a hotdrop. It places smaller or less experienced groups of Low-Sec residents at a huge disadvantage when trying to interact with moons, POCO’s, and fleet engagements if they can’t put at least 20-30 capitols on the field at any given time (and almost certainly guaranteeing a super drop in the process) to help damper drops from other Low-Sec groups like SNUFF. This also has the effect of “automatically” placing almost all moons worth more than a few hundred million a month, into the hands of super blocs.
“But”, the Null-Sec resident might say, “that’s just part of the game. He with the most ships wins.” However, as already discussed, I don’t believe that is where CCP would like to see the future of Low-Sec to go. Does this really matter? What difference does it make?
The reason I think this is an important issue is the same reason why Low-Sec needs “official” recognition as to what most players currently utilize Low-Sec for, solo and small gang combat on a near limitless scale potential. There are always groups of pilots that traverse Low-Sec daily. Whether due to FW, WH entrances, or simple roams for a change of pace, fighting can be found, to some extent, in many areas of Low-Sec.
One additional note to make before offering a suggestion, currently due to the size, nature, and capabilities of Null-Sec blocs, Null-Sec residents are able to interfere with Low-Sec residents and their plans with little to no inconvenience to themselves. W-space residents can make incursions into other areas of space, get some kills, and disappear with almost zero chance of immediate repercussions. Low-Sec residents have no such method “interference” of any significant scale. Sure we do, one might say, have those pesky little siphon units, but if a Null-Sec alliance was to start seeing a difference in income, a single POS gunner could log in and fix the problem. Low-Sec needs a way to be able to make an impact on other areas of the game without needing hundreds or thousands of pilots, capitals, and assets to use.
A possible solution, and the benefits therein
Currently, there are three options to avoid Pandemic Legion ruining your day if you choose to deploy capitols. First is deploying them in very small numbers. By limiting the number of capitals on field, you significantly reduce the interest PL, or others like them, of dropping your little gang. This, however, is severely limiting to the number of structures you can target with any haste. Most large, hardened towers take some time to knock over, time a half dozen caps simply don’t have. It also limits the escalation ability of Low-Sec group fights. Secondly, you can deploy a mobile cyno inhibitor to prevent caps from jumping in within a small radius of it. This, however, is almost entirely useless if intending to fight a group determined to enter the system as it is simply a matter of warping the cyno to a different location, jumping in, and then warp into the grid. This is also be circumvented by simply destroying the inhibitor itself. Finally, it you can also try to negotiate standings with all the relevant Null-Sec blocs.
None of these options are healthy for Low-Sec. None of these options improve the ability of Low-Sec residents to significantly hinder operations of others, and none of these options “guarantee” that supers unlimited will not come knocking. So what do I propose? Making a jump drive inhibitor script or module for Heavy Interdictors that, of course, jams jump drives system wide. Why this, and why a HIC?
- HIC’s currently have almost zero usefulness in Low-Sec. In fact, the only time you ever see them used in a fleet is when you are hunting caps. In those situations, they are generally used for ghost riding. By having a “legitimate” use for something other than supers, HIC usage would go up.
- By providing a way to interrupt jump drives, not only can Low-Sec residents have a chance (more on this in a moment) of putting caps on field in systems they actually live in, it offers a form of protection against invincible “teleporting” supers by making them think twice before deploying.
- Even well tanked HIC’s cannot have more than a couple hundred thousand EHP’s, far less than a tower. This would give opposing fleets a chance to destroy it with what is on the field.
Some clarifications: First, these modules or scripts would require fuel so that they could not be perma-AFK run. Once activated, HIC’s running it would also broadcast a beacon (like a cyno). This would allow for anyone to find them and, since they would not be able to activate it within a POS or even move, would be able to be destroyed. Note that the friendly HIC could still receive reps, EWAR, etc.
To answer some concerns I already see coming:
“What about my logistics! You would paralyze the economy by freezing Jump Freighters!”
First, think about this: There are LOTS of ways to get to Jita and, since there are a number of Low-Sec systems that one can go through, I’m quite certain that goods would still be moved. Would this add risk to JF’s? Absolutely, but aside from putting too much ISK in a hold or being dumb during a Burn Jita campaign, not that many JF’s are lost in comparison with how often they are used. A compromise would be to make a special JF only module that could be put in one of the new slots making them immune to this so that your precious cargo can still get to the market in time.
“This would totally cripple our ability to move around the map!”
Well… yeah! That’s the point! But again, if you seriously can’t find another system to go through, are you really worthy of having that power to begin with? Currently, nobody has a SINGLE way a non-bloc entity can seriously impact a large bloc’s ability to move at will. When PL wants to move, PL moves, and no number of Low-Sec residents will stop them. This is totally contradictory to the aforementioned ways that WH’s, High-Sec, and Null-Sec have of slowing or preventing cap movement in controlled space.
“This will make it impossible for me to bring additional caps in!”
Again, that is the point. That said, I would be willing to make a compromise by adding suggesting a system wide “cooldown” timer so that you couldn’t chain endless numbers of them. Say, 1 to 5 minutes before another could be reactivated. This would allow a window to bring additional caps (yes, even supers in) but not without risking getting caught by a reactivation.
Thus, I conclude my case. By giving Low-Sec a relatively useless ship (in Low-Sec) a purpose to help promote Low-Sec entities ability to actually “live” in the systems they choose to, giving them the ability to occasionally “mess” with bloc’s ability to move ships, I believe you would see a great improvement in the quality of life for Low-Sec residents, allowing Low-Sec to be finally, at least in part, distinguishable from being merely an “extension” of Null-Sec.