Thursday, May 28, 2009

Life In Lowsec

For the sake of clarity, I am going to assume that the average reader of this blog has no idea how Eve-Online system security works. Most of you probably do and can skip this section, but just in case:

High Security Space (AKA "Highsec") - Systems who's security ranges from 0.5 to 1.0. All these systems are patrolled by faction police and CONCORD. All stations and gates are protected by a large number of sentry guns. Any unwarranted aggression is very quickly responded to and the person engaging is guaranteed to have their ship destroyed within a few seconds of initiating illegal combat.

Low Security Space (AKA "Lowsec") - Systems who's security ranges from 0.1 to 0.4. These systems are devoid of faction police or CONCORD but all stations and gates have a small number of sentry guns that will almost instantly pop frigates, quickly destroy cruisers and cause significant damage to a battlecruiser or battleship.

0.0 Space (AKA "Nullsec") - Systems with a security of 0.0. These systems are completely devoid of any NPC police, there are no sentry guns on gates/stations and there are no criminal timers for engaging other pilots in an unprovoked fashion.

I am no expert on 0.0, but I have spent a large amount of time in empire space and I know the ins and outs of lowsec and highsec. The general idea is supposed to be that as you move from higher security space to lower security space, the potential for profit and opportunity is increased in direct proportion with the chance of your ass getting kicked. Does this actually hold up in practice? Not really. Highsec is very profitable and nullsec is very profitable while lowsec is left with very few ways to reliably make money that don't include having alternate characters. Lowsec is the redheaded step-child of the system security family and frankly it needs some serious overhauling. Some of the things that bother me the most about being blinky in lowsec:

(1) Timers and Sentry Guns

Problem: I realize that there needs to be a penalty of some sort for randomly attacking innocents but the 15 minute timer is just ridiculous. Eve is a game and all the GCC timer does is force any pilot who doesn't want to roam around in battleships to sit around and wait for an extended period of time every time they initiate an engagement. In other words, it isn't fun. Want to destroy an unmanned Ibis? Sorry, you now have to wait 15 minutes before you can have fun again. You accidentally warped to a gate/station? Sorry, you just reset your timer with the faction and have to wait another 15 minutes. You're flying a frigate? Sorry, you just got instapopped trying to dock up.

Solution: Reduce the timer lengths or add in some mechanic/skills that allow pilots to reduce them. Fifteen minutes is not necessary. Five or ten would be more reasonable. If the timer length needs to stay at fifteen minutes then change sentry mechanics to do damage based on gang size and ship size. Encouraging people to blob and fly giant overkill ships simply to compensate for the sentry guns sucks. We want to fly in frigates and we want to be able to engage on gates without having to live in 0.0. The truth is that very little combat happens at planets or in belts in lowsec and engaging on gates/stations needs to be less skewed against who gets NPC gun aggro.

(2) Blinky vs Not-Blinky

Problem: This one really grinds my gears. Anti-pirates (or "pussies" as I like to call them) and other pilots who keep their security status above a certain point get a huge advantage thanks to sentry mechanics and the fact that they can travel through high-security space. The penalty for wanting to PvP in lowsec with all targets instead of just blinky ones means that any douchebag can hide behind sentry guns, jump into systems that you cannot and hide a blob of their friends where you are unable to see without the help of an alternate character that can visit highsec.

Solutions: If being -5 or lower is going to have so many great disadvantages, there needs to be at least some small advantages to compensate. Wardec'ing every corp/alliance that pussyfoots around using their security status to their advantage isn't viable, so give us some sort of mini-wardec capability. A pilot or corporation can pay a small fee to ask a faction or factions to turn a blind eye as they engage an individual pilot or corp. Make it take 5 minutes to take effect (so that it can't be abused to gank unsuspecting newbs coming through gates without getting sentries) and then only lasts for 30 minutes. Put a limit as to how often this can be done per day (maybe only once). Make it only apply outside of deadspace so that pirates cannot use it to avoid timers when ganking mission runners. Maybe this isn't the most elegant solution but the current security status mechanics are all penalty with no advantages and this needs to be overhauled.

(3) Station Games and Capital Ships

Problem: Capital ships really don't belong in lowsec. The best part of PvP'ing here as opposed to 0.0 is that the combat tends to be on a smaller scale instead of hundred man fleets. All carriers do is make virtually any small gang sitting on a station invincible until they are able to dock up. The carrier itself is very, very rarely at any risk due to the fact that you aren't going to blow one up within 60 seconds before it can redock unless you have a dozen dreadnoughts to hotdrop on a whim (pretty rare for lowsec corporations alliances to have at their disposal). Carriers and another cap ships are intended for large scale combat and it really shows when they get used on smaller scales in lowsec.

Solutions: Banning caps from lowsec isn't really a viable solution but at the very least they should be vulnerable when used, especially when jerking around playing station games. Currently, all ships have a sixty second timer before they can dock at a station from their last aggressive action. This timer should be variable based on the ship type. If you want to undock a battleship and aggress, you should be stuck in space for the next five minutes, not just sixty seconds. If you want to undock a carrier and rep your friends, you should be stuck in space for the next ten minutes, just like if you entered Triage mode. On top of this, all or at least a majority of stations should be changed to be instant kickouts. In other words, when you undock a ship from a station and especially if you engage while next to a station, you should be forced into some committment and your ship should be at some risk. With the current docking mechanics, undocking is about as safe as beating yourself with a Nerf football.


Yes, this is a giant whine that being blinky red (well, solid red now) has too many disadvantages without any gameplay advantages at all. I want piracy/low sec-status to be different but equal. Currently, anyone who goes below the -5 security status threshold simply gets a number of penalties without any real differentiation or perks beyond what any other higher security status pilot would have.


Ashnazg said...

Good points, actually, even if you believe no one reads your blog. :)

Besides remodelling the (dis)advantages of being flashy CCP should focus on remodelling the risk-reward-ratio. E.g. moving ALL lvl4 missions into lowsec, lvl5 only in nullsec (and some algorithm to prevent that lvl4 agents send you into highsec, as it is currently with some of the lvl5 agents).


Mynxee said...

I love your ideas about aggression timers for docking being based on fleet size; and definitely support a reduction in GCC timers. Maybe 10 minutes in low sec, 15 minutes in high sec would be a decent compromise.

Josh (GH) said...

I don't think having a low security status should give any advantages, since as they say, "Don't do the crime if you can't do the time." I like the idea of a lessened GCC timer though. As for the capital ships thing, I agree it needs fixing... but not anything that'll gimp me and my carriers lvl5 Archon. You spend 59 days on a single skill level + months of pre-req training and it'll make you a little antsy too, lol.

Remember the golden rule: when THEY do it, it's bad, but when I do it, it's because i have SKILL :P

Andrea skye said...

Non blinkies hiding behind sentries make me wana destroy something beautiful...

Dexter Tripod said...

I like the lessened GCC timers and the anti-station/anti-sentry game mechanic ideas...although the only one I see as an outside possibility would be the timers. :(

With the gang size scaling, it would be nice but I just see people dropping/joining fleets to get around the limits.

Letrange said...

Actually aggression timers are too short. It can sometimes take up to 1h or longer to drum up a credible response to an incident, which is their purpose - keep the pirate in place while the guy who got killed corp responds.
Problem being of course it that people managed to get themselves killed way too easy.

Anonymous said...

Reduced GCC would be ok, the other stuff has pretty insane ramifications for everything aside from lowsec small gang combat. Id love to have my Corp CEO flashy red so we can once a day pop a freighter for free. Docking games would cease with your suggestion, because noone would undock to play with you anyway. Like hell im gonna undock a battleship even to a 3-4 man gang with a 5 min redock time and station kickout, ill go eat a pizza, you have your fun sitting there waiting. Anything you do to make it easier to kill people just drives them to either stay docked, or worse, stay in high sec.

To the poster above, they will never move lvl 4 missions to low sec, at least I dont believe so. Would just make far too many people mad. The fact is, the higher they make lowsec rewards, the greater the risk becomes, and you're right back where you started.

Cozmik R5 said...

On the security status thing, what Josh said. When people do crimes, they get caught and pay for it. I'm not a criminal (with the exception of TCF cynos cuz, well, they're TCF cynos) so I make criminals pay for it. Ask the residents of Mya :)

Helicity Boson said...

I still liked my solution of pirate-specific modules/skills for messing with gateguns :P

I love the idea of stopping station games like that, I think it's one of the lamest aspects of lowsec.

Tony "EVE's Weekend Warrior" said...

Oh here we go, Spec and his whining about his blinky status...

A true pirate never whines about such things as he choose that route.

Now more the reasons to have a mutiny, Python Cartel! ;D

Anonymous said...

How about:
GCC timer = System sec status * 15 mins?

Eg: 0.1 system gets 90 secs, 0.2 system gets 3 mins, ... 1.0 system gets the full 15 mins.

That way there is actually an effect for system sec level, rather than being a flat 15 mins across the board.

Josh (GH) said...

^ anonymous guy has the best idea EVAR.

Spectre said...

Letrange: Yet no matter how long the timer is, it never "holds" a pirate there. Even in a frigate I could make several jumps without gate guns having time to fire at me. I could dock up with no worries about being destroyed by sentries in a cruiser or bigger. Timers don't really force anyone to stay anywhere but they do force you to sit in a safe spot picking your ass for about fifteen minutes if you want to be able to safely continue traveling or get into fights anywhere that isn't in a belt.

GH: Screw your Archon.

Anon #1: I understand that some of these ideas aren't quite perfect (or even decent) but I guess I'm just trying to get some ideas out there. I feel like right now the mechanics of lowsec, sentries, timers, sec status, etc. are not really well thought out or effective. There has to be something better.

Anon #2: I like that idea although I still bet a majority of "pirate" activity would take place in 0.3 and 0.4 systems close to highsec.

Anonymous said...

I hate pussies who won't fight in 0.0... sack up, stop whining, stop being bitches and fight people who will fight back. Wow you guys are a joke.

Northern Paladin said...

The "advantage" of being -5 faction is simply what you did to get there: you got to pop a lot of players and take their stuff. People who have positive faction have the advantage of safe travel but the disadvantage of having to make a living through some legitimate (boring) method.

Anonymous said...

You're a whiny little noob, ain't ya?

Spectre said...

Who are you calling little?

Anonymous said...

Probably you. Lol what a bitch player. Learn to null sec losers.

Andreus Ixiris said...

No, with respect, I don't think you understand. The whole POINT of being -5/blinky red/evil pirate is that it's a penalty. By being a pirate, you are essentially breaking the in-game law - you're a criminal. You're making life much harder for the law-abiding citizens of EVE and it should really come as no surprise to you that CONCORD eventually makes life harder for you.

Essentially, in my opinion, you're looking at the risk/benefit side of this equation from the wrong angle. You shouldn't be looking for "an advantage to being flashy red". The advantage of being a pirate is the equipment or money you get from pilots you attack. The disadvantage of being a pirate *is* being flashy red.