(Note: This post is intended for those new to Eve, to clarify some of the deeper issues that are before the CSM and CCP)
There you are, sitting in an Ibis. You’ve just joined the game after hearing about all the drama, the epic fleet battles, and amazing ship heists. You’ve decided that this space sim is where it’s at. But where, really, is “here”? And why so much drama between those that live in High-sec, Low-sec, Null-sec, and Wormhole space?
First off, it is important how three particular things interact with each other. Eve Online is a game where the vast, vast majority of items found on the market are player made or player introduced. From shuttles to ammo to ships, etc. Only skillbooks, as a group, are introduced outside of players. This means:
Isk (also includes Loyalty Points), PVP, and Industry are interconnected with each other.
- If you have no isk, you cannot PVP because you cannot purchase or build anything. Named and faction items will also not be introduced into the game
- If you have no industry, then no modules or ships are built, therefore no way to effectively grind for isk and no way to PVP.
- If you have no PVP, then industry stagnates as need for modules and ships dries up when players get more effective and efficient.
Second, it is important to understand accurately what some of the driving motivators to Eve Online are.
Major Economic Motivators:
- Technetium Moons – Technetium moons, often called “Tech” moons, provide material used in Tech 2 module construction. Each moon provides billions of isk monthly to those who hold them. As such, control of these moons is a major source of conflict in Eve.
- PVE Combat – Mission running and belt ratting (hunting NPCs that show up in asteroid belts) are one of the most common sources of income for Eve players. As players gain access to harder missions and belts with higher classes of NPCs, pilots need better modules and better ships. It also requires them to replace those tools should they make a mistake.
- PVP Combat – Whether it is pirate ganking or major fleet actions, PVP combat is a staple of Eve Online. As such, a wide variety ships, modules, and ammo are required to mount such combat operations. A continued supply of those items is also required to keep up with people’s PVP needs and increased skill.
- Distance (at an individual level) – Eve space is huge. It encompasses almost 8000 systems between known space and wormhole space. As such, it is difficult to move individual fleets around for the various reasons one would. Therefore, in order save time, players will often buy multiple ships, modules, ammo, and other equipment and store them at several locations.
- Arkonor, Bistot, Crokite – Better known as ABC ores, these ores contain the highest proportions of the most valuable minerals in Eve. These ores are found only in 0.0 and Wormhole space, though the availability of these depends on the quality of system.
- Tritanium – The most prolific mineral in the game, but also the most used in production and industry.
- Supercapital Production – Supercapital ships like the Titan and Supercarrier pretty much represent an “I win” button to any who can field them in fleets. Since fleets of these are now the standard for 0.0 alliances to have, production of these is at a peak.. and the materials needed to make them are vast.
Minor Economic Motivators:
- Human Nature for “Home” – Wormhole and Null-sec space are the only locations where an organization can make a “home” as it were. Null-sec has an official sovereignty mechanic, while Wormhole space control is determined by the defensive ability of those living in the wormhole.
- Skill Training – With improved skills, better ships and modules can be purchased and used.
- T3 Production – Wormhole space is the only location where T3 components can be retrieved. The large number of wormholes and the overall difficulty in capturing and maintaining that space, though, allows for some security.
Now there are quite a few other things that influence the going ons of Eve, such as blueprint usage and availability, political changes, game changes.. but overall, I think the above lists are fairly accurate at this time (though if commenters wish to add some, I certainly will consider their request).
So, how do all the spaces relate to each other?
Well, as mentioned above, there are quite a few economic motivators that influences the political sphere of the game, and these in turn influence the combat aspects of the game.
High-Sec or “Safe” space
High-sec, or High Security Space, is the most policed of Eve Space. Since this area of space is low-risk and centralized, industry and extensive mission running (along with COSMOS sites, anomalies, etc.) tend to make this space very lucrative financially. The safety aspect of this also makes the area a boon to industry because there are few hurtles to getting your goods to market. Naturally, this also allowed for trade hubs to be established, most prominently Jita. As more and more modules and ships got sold, the need for materials to build them increases as well. Since High-sec corporations can build items and get it to market consistantly, it becomes much easier and cheaper to contruct those items in High-sec and ship them out to Low-sec, Null-sec, and Wormhole space.
Three of the major concerns which the Eve Community seems to be at odds with in regards to High-Sec is that:
- The individual financial rewards of running Level four missions outwiegh the financial rewards that can be had in Low-sec and Null-sec space. A recent Anomaly nerf, made all but the best null-sec space worth less than running Level 4 missions or Incursions in High-sec space.
- Ore mining in High-sec space is too profitable both because of hidden belts, but also because the need for Tritanium is so high that a miner has little need/desire to move out into 0.0 for more profitability.
- Ice Mining in High-sec space is just as profitable (if not more so), than ice mining in 0.0 or low-sec.
As regards the first point, I wholeheartedly agree that the current financial mechanics for 0.0 is pretty poor for the individual pilot. Technetium moon profit in typical EuroAmerican-style null-sec alliances tend to put these profits toward sov expenses and capital ship production. Thus, systems with better anomalies will give their pilots a better ability to keep up their PVP fleets and weapons. Whereas systems with poor anomalies aren’t able to keep up with the attrition that PVP and Sov control brings.
Proponents of Low-Sec think that moving the profitable High-sec Level 4 missions out into Low-sec will force more people to move there and become a necessary in-game isk sink. However, my experience indicates that this ignores some key points. First off, profitable mission running is necessary for corps and alliances to have enough collective isk to venture into null-sec space for holding sov. Moving those missions into low-sec will reduce individual and corporate profitability, making it much more difficult to jump into null-sec space. In addition, “forcing” people into low-sec to make isk will likely result into two things: either a.) they merely continue to run level 3 missions, b.) change from mission running to another profitable, but high-sec based, venture, or c.) Leave the game entirely. All three options result in an overall negative outcome for the game.
The other two points I am really not qualified to discuss on.
Low-Sec or “Pirate” space
Low-sec, or Low Security Space, is generally considered the most dangerous of Eve Online space. Whether this is true or not, the perception has forced much of low-sec to remain underutilized. Some industry does take place here as it is easier for corporations and individuals to maintain POS structures and NPCs have higher bounties. Capital and Supercapital ships can also be built there. A recent change to missioning agents, though, has made that space less frequented by mission runners. Mining in low-sec is usually ignored because the ore it offers are not of higher quality than than high-sec ores, and the risks of losing your mining ship as well as shipments is greater than the risks in Null-sec.
The nature of Eve mechanics, coupled with some incomplete ventures like Faction Warfare and the simple reality that anything you can do in low-sec can be done either better or more efficiently or safer in null-sec and high-sec, Low-sec hasn’t been a real driver in any economic way. Capital ship production and some faction war and piracy based PVP add to the overall industrial flow. Those who operate in low-sec do try to make it a driver in a social way, but this has not really taken off simply because the view of risk is too high for most people and the rules for operating in an effective manner are difficult to comprehend quickly.
Some of the current (and longstanding) issues with low-sec are:
- Unfinished expansions – Faction Warfare in particular is an unfinished mechanic that was hoped to bring new life into low-sec. As this has not really happened to any serious extent, there is significant rage against CCP for not really having a plan that involves improving, or even giving purpose to, low-sec space.
- Safety – This subject is all over the board, with industrialist pilots saying that the safe is too dangerous for it to be profitable and with pirate and PVP pilots saying that its just a perception, not a reality.
- Relevance – High-sec, Null-sec, and Wormhole space all have aspects that are unique to them. Low-sec doesn’t and while there are plenty of suggestions, CCP seems either unable or uninterested to make changes at this time.
All three points really boil down to the third: Relevance. Low-sec space needs to have some unique aspects for making isk and for industry building that give more dimension to gameplay. Pulling things from High-sec is not the way to do that. Null-sec space, on the other hand, does have quite a few unique features that could be moved, in whole, into low-sec without disrupting game play.
Null-sec or 0.0 Sovreignty Space
Null-sec, or 0.0 space, is the dynamo of Eve Online. Without the PVP battles that happen, industry all over Eve would grind to a halt. Much of Eve Online’s combat happens in 0.0 space due to raids and sovreignty conflicts. Null-sec though, while not having gate guns or Concord, is still considered safer than low-sec due to more flexibility in using defensive and offensive fleets. Rules of engagement are totally based on alliance policy, and not just shoved in somewhere in between Concord rules.
However, it is not as safe as high-sec, and player made outposts have a limited number of manufacturing slots. This forces corporations and individuals to put up POSes for manufacturing. Those operations, in turn, require operations to get materials and fuel, either by mining or by transporting them up from nearby High-sec trade hubs. Additional expense is added for the various costs of holding sov space, which either comes from moon reactions or from player taxes.
Some of the current issues with null-sec primarily involve:
- Sovreignty – The game mechanics that were released with Dominion were supposed to be better than the previous way of gaining Sov. However, this new system proved to do the exact opposite of what was intended (which was to make it worth while for smaller alliance to try and get sov). CCP again contends that reasons for conflict need to drive the constant struggle between the haves and the have nots. The Eve Community has thrown up hundreds of ideas and some of CCP devs appear to have some good options for fixing the current state, however the Eve Community as a whole is on the fence at to CCP’s willingness to stick to making changes.
- Logistics/Industry – Currently, it is easier to bring some materials in for construction than it is to mine them locally. It is usually cheaper to bring in modules and ships than it is to build them locally. This reliance on High-sec, which was a fairly reasonable outcome, has increased the difficulty of bringing in miners and builders into “dangerous” null-sec or even low-sec. This is especially true given the amount of resources needed for the most powerful ships in the game, the Supercapitals. But this problem goes deeper due to CCP view’s of how null-sec should operate is in direct conflict with the human nature of people who do industry. People who do industry prefer stable, safe locations to build from.
- Botting – This takes on the form of automated programs to do, mundane but critically important tasks, either mining large amounts of ore, by attacking belt NPCs for isk. There is conclusive proof that such programs exist and are actively being used by current 0.0 alliances. Much of these funds have been used for purchasing and building supercapital ships or for Real Money Trading (RMT). Past indicators showed that Russian, European, and American based null-sec blocs also operated bots to help pad either the supercapital ship program or their own leadership wallets.
My opinion is that how Sov space is handled certainly needs to change, but CCP needs to step away from its current viewpoint and adapt a stance of “Easy to raid, hard to conquer”. Not having the option to “raid” or steal supplies, without affecting Sovreignty is really detrimental. Right now you either leave it alone, which means no PVP, or destroy it, which means massive fleet operations. Null-sec industry can never flourish to the levels it needs to be because industrials cannot develop the stability necessary to provide products consistantly. I’m sure that if an industrialist knew that once he sits a POS on a moon and that it will be there and that he will have access to it for six months, he wouldn’t be all that bothered if a part of a batch goes missing out of every 5 or 10 batches.
And as far as mining goes, mining in general needed to have an update for years now to make it more engaging, more challenging, and more rewarding. Once you make people WANT to do it because it’s enjoyable, then people will risk more to try it.
The final type of space, Wormhole space, is something of an enigma. CCP surprised the CSM by indicating that included Wormhole space as part of Null-sec space and because of that, it did have some features of null-sec space like ABC Ores. The problem is that CCP’s viewpoint isn’t entirely accurate and the CSM viewpoint wasn’t entirely wrong.
It is true that Wormhole space is indeed null-sec space, but only in regards to there being no Concord or Nation security status to worry about. Outside of that, the two are night and day. Wormhole space does not allow for stations to be installed and also does not have an active “local” channel. The space itself can modify ship attributes, both positively and negatively. There are planets, but belts need to be discovered to be mined and the NPC’s found there have an advanced AI that mimics real PVP combat. Accessing Wormhole space is more difficult and both entry and exit points change on a regular basis.
Wormhole Space also has a unique industrial relationship to the rest of Eve. It is the only location where T3 components can be found and harvested. Corporations that operate in wormholes tend to operate rather self-sufficiently so as to minimize the need to use up the unstable exit and entry points.
Oddly enough, there is currently only one point of contention with Wormhole space, and that has to deal with “ABC” ores. During the latest CSM meeting with CCP, the CSM found out that some “ABC” ores could be found at lower-tier wormholes. This was news to all but two CSM members, both of which are active in wormholes and the resulting conflict from the other CSM members seems to be very disproportionate to the problem. The amount of ABC ores in those low-tier wormholes are minute, so small that some even contend that they aren’t worth the effort to mine them and are too small to be a serious threat to any local trade hub, much less to all of Eve. The ABC Ore issue in Low Tier wormholes feels like a made up political issue designed to hide more serious issues like botting, which the alliances of some of the CSM are certainly involved.
So, that is how all the space in Eve relates to each other. And here you thought you were just going to shoot little NPC rats…
(Note: For those of you reading this blog and you believe you have something to add or more information you want me to expound upon, or if you think I need to correct something feel free to post that in the commments below along with your full reasoning behind it.)