Under normal circumstances, it wouldn't be my thing to directly respond to another CSM candidate. But this case feels different. For one thing, a lot of candidates are talking about whether high-sec is "too safe" right now with all of the nerfs that CCP has applied to ganking in the last twelve months or so. It's going to be one of the big issues of this year's campaign, particularly if there are debates between CSM candidates. For another, even CCP is talking (in the "EVE's Next Decade" CSM Summit session) about what they can do to encourage more high-sec residents to move to low-sec or null-sec.
So yeah, it's a thing. Therefore, I'm going to talk about these proposals. And then later on, I'm going to write down my own impressions of how safe (or lack thereof) high-sec is at the moment. Some of that will be leaking into this post as well.
First things first: it's very important to understand that two years ago, some 80% of all EVE characters were in high-sec. Know what's probably changed in two years? Very little! Though we don't to my knowledge have hard numbers on this lately, it's a good bet that the vast majority of EVE players are still in high-sec. So CCP is going to be extremely cautious about making changes to the part of the game where the vast majority of their business's income comes from! They are going to be reluctant to endorse any massive, sweeping changes to the game's financial bread-basket.
For this reason alone, I am against most of James's proposals: they are too radical and are likely to be game- and company-breaking. Even more than that, though, I am against most of them for a more fundamental reason. EVE is a sandbox, and that means that EVE is a sandbox for everyone. I value every type of EVE player. I'm all for making some parts of the sandbox "better" than others, but not at the expense of destroying other parts. There should be room enough in New Eden for every type of EVE player.
But before I go any further, let's look at the actual "seven-and-a-half" proposals, one by one.
- Highsec mining will be nerfed into oblivion. We'll have one or possibly two different types of ore available, just so new players can learn how to distinguish between them on the overview.
- Highsec missioning will be nerfed into oblivion. Nothing higher than Level 2 missions will be available. All the rest goes into lowsec.
EDIT (6/Mar/2013): I have been reminded that James solved the problem by running a large scam, then becoming a Goon. Although fine for James, neither solution is a solution for everyone, or even for most people.
Related to this, there remains and there will always be a contingent of EVE players that wish to play this game casually. They just want to log into the game when they get home from work or school, run missions or mine for a couple of hours, sell their take at market, and log off. There have been repeated attempts to demonize these players around the blogosphere and all of these attempts, including James's, are misguided in the extreme. They are not inflicting harm on the game; quite the opposite, this sort of casual player is making PvP cheaper for the rest of us by injecting minerals into the market. CCP and the community together should continue to work toward guiding them into closer social ties with the rest of the game. But at the end of the day, EVE is a sandbox for everyone and that includes the "filthy casuals". You do not solve this problem by nuking that portion of the sandbox and rendering it a barren radioactive wasteland.
Rather than demonizing the Other, James might try showing a little empathy and understanding what the Other wants out of the game. It's a good trait in a prospective CSM member.
Further, if the interview James did on Crossing Zebras is any guide, his motivation here seems to be "PvE sucks in null-sec and low-sec and players there are miserably unhappy with it. We should make the high-sec players just as miserable." Not only is this not true -- from what I understand, low-sec players are pretty happy with their PvE options as they stand right now and those are about to get better(1) -- it's an issue that should be solved in null-sec, not high-sec.
As for mining, what's happened with mineral values isn't the fault of the high-sec miners. It's the fault of grav site miners which I believe is primarily happening in null-sec.(2) Later in his proposals, James believes that mining should be pushed back toward the belts and that's actually something I can get behind. Grav sites shouldn't be eliminated entirely, but they shouldn't be the majority source of high-end ore in the game and I believe today that they are. Their spawn rate should be dialed back some.
Finally, keep in mind that I do not include mining or missioning bots in any of what's above. They are and continue to be a cancer that should be cut out of the game and ruthlessly stomped on when found. But I do not personally believe bots comprise a majority of missioners or miners.
- Highsec incursions and the like will be scrapped completely. I will eliminate all highsec PvE aside from the (virtually useless) mining and missioning.
Once alliance income is "bottom up", incursion income can and should be taxed at the alliance level as well as the corp level. Incursions will at that point become a valuable source of alliance funding and competition will increase beyond where it is already. Even as it is, though, the ISK made from incursions that isn't circular -- going right back into better incursion ships -- goes nearly immediately into null-sec. Many high-sec incursioners are the alts of null-sec players who simply do not have access to good income sources in null. In addition, a solid portion of the income from high-sec incursions ultimately goes straight into the pockets of null-sec residents in the form of pirate faction ships and dead-space modules.
Again, if there's a problem with incursion income it can be solved in null-sec, not in high-sec. Make null-sec income sources more valuable and attractive and their convenience to where null-sec players already live will keep those players there. Meanwhile, high-sec players that don't immediately want to get suborned into a mega-alliance need viable high-sec income sources until they decide what they want to do in this game.
- Concord and faction police will take twice as long to respond, effectively making it twice as easy to be ganked.
- The firepower of sentry guns in highsec will be cut in half. I think it's excessive at the moment.
That said, there's one area where I could be talked into saying "yes": incursed constellations. It makes sense to me that in an incursion, CONCORD and faction police would be slower to respond. It would help make incursed constellations feel more dangerous rather than just another place to fly around.
- The "boomerang" will be brought back. Concord will still kill you, but you can warp away as before. Boomerang ganking required sufficient skill, effort, and luck that I consider it a fair, legitimate tactic.
That said, there are few enough ice fields in high-sec that it's probably possible for a ganker to farm all of them in a day.(3) Rather than bringing the boomerang back, I'd rather see the number of ice fields in high-sec both greatly decreased in size and increased in number... four or five much smaller ice fields per ice system instead of one big one. I think it'd even be fun to have two types of ice available in border regions. Once that was done, my answer to this would be a more firm "no". As it is today, I can understand the frustration of getting a gank on an ice field, then having to wait for CONCORD to disperse.
- Security status losses will be greatly diminished. I don't have an exact figure, but I don't like the idea that people who commit "crimes" in highsec should need to spend a long time grinding to make up for it.
That is the result of a single low-sec roam I was on that lasted about 90 minutes. The net result of that 90-minute low-sec roam is that I will be forced to kill 52 null-sec battleships, a process that I expect to take me six hours of game time over the next few weeks. That's just insane. And there's literally no rhyme or reason to the penalty for killing "illegal" ships other than some badly-defined math regarding the security status disparity between the shooter and the target. Ship cost doesn't seem to factor into it at all. See that -0.4751% reduction at 0542? That was a kill on an unfit Corax worth less than a million ISK total. See the -0.8373% at 0635? That was a T2 battleship worth a billion ISK.
I agree this system needs looking at. It's not well thought-out at all. "Tags-4-Sec" will help, but not enough.
Finally, James mentions this (it's the "half"):
I'm toying with the idea of changing some highsec systems into lowsec, and some lowsec systems into nullsec, to increase the number of entry points. If we're going to encourage everyone to go to low/null, we can't have a handful of gatecamps seal them off. I would still keep highsec contiguous, though.And in general, I'm in favor this one too. The lore says that we've been involved in all-out faction war for several years now. This is also built in the lore of DUST 514 as well as the descriptions for many of the new ship classes, notably the new logistics frigates. But if you're not involved in faction war yourself... could you tell? The border regions of the galaxy should feel more dangerous than they are currently and this would be one way to do it. Rather than single entry points from high-sec into low- and null-, there should be single entry points between factions at war and those entry points should feel like armed camps. Checkpoint Charlie, the Korean Joint Security Area, and places like it felt or feel like armed camps where widespread violence could erupt at any moment... and the countries involved weren't or aren't even technically at war, the way the Empire factions are today! So yeah, this one could be looked at, too.
Shew! OK, that went on a bit longer than I intended. Sorry about that.
Anyway, the purpose of these proposals is to make high-sec so disagreeable and unbearable that players that live there will be effectively forced into low-sec, null-sec, or wormhole space. But of course this entire premise is based on the fallacy that these are the only options. The alternative to high-sec space for an EVE player that spends all their time there isn't another part of New Eden, it's Star Trek Online or Guild Wars 2.
This is particularly true for brand new players. EVE is already so difficult for new players that the majority of them never get out of their trial period. Now imagine a trial period made even more difficult. The return of the boomerang, weak gate guns, and long CONCORD spawn times would mean that a trial player who made more than 20 million ISK would immediately be a gank target for a single destroyer. The destroyer pilot would easily make a large profit on this guaranteed successful gank and the depopulation of the rest of the players from high-sec would ensure that his suspect-flagged hauler wouldn't be interfered with as it made off with the loot. The ganker, meanwhile, would take only a small sec status hit and would be off looking for a new trial account victim soon after. You are the trial account player involved. Are you gonna pay money to play that game? I certainly would not have.
EVE is a cold, dark universe all right, but the game wouldn't long survive this "vision" of high-sec. Even if you think things are bad in high-sec now, trust me, it could be a lot worse.
(1) The new "Tags-4-Sec" will drop only in low-sec, according to the CSM December Summit Minutes.
(2) This is one of the things I'd like to see direct data from CCP on, where all the high-ends came from in the last year.
(3) And I wonder if anyone has.