In a follow up to my last post I decided to imagine what a doubling of Eve's subscriber base would look like in game and give some ideas of what can be done to mitigate the downsides.
So, let's say Eve experiences a massive growth in subscribers over the next 12 months to almost 500,000 accounts. Online concurrent users approaches and surpasses 80,000 every weekend. What is the result?
1) Jita becomes the "black hole of lag death" once again as 4000 pilots try to jam in there (assuming the pilot cap has been lifted).
2) Node crashes in major fleet engagements are common weekly occurrences.
3) Combat over resources in 0.0 are frequent if not constant due to not enough belts for rattings, mining.
4) High sec mission hubs are lag death traps and filled with ninja salvagers and loot thieves.
5) Low sec continues to be a wasteland filled with blood thirsty pirates who pounce on anyone foolish enough to venture past the CONCORD guards.
6) Prices of ships and modules skyrocket due to increased demand outstripping supply.
7) Lab slots everywhere in high sec and most of low sec are jammed to the gills.
I paint a pretty dreary picture eh? Its hard to believe but 5000 systems are not enough. Or more accurately, the high sec / low sec / null sec distribution combined with missions and ratting methodologies is insufficient to support a player base higher than current numbers.
But I have ideas.
The main problem we face is that 0.0 space seems unable to support a large number of pilots, thus alliances are forced to claim and defend entire vast regions of space. While corporations and alliances can make vast sums of ISK from moon mining or large asteroid mining operations, the current model in Eve means that the average line soldier pays taxes to the corporation for the right to be there. His only or main source of income is ratting; exploration can be lucrative but requires patience and resources while complexes are not too common and can sometimes provide little benefit over asteroid ratting.
The first thing I would do is remove rats from belts, or at the very least downgrade the rats to lower quality that don't make it really worth it to hunt but still annoy miners. In exchange, I would make hidden complexes more common and far more lucrative in terms of basic bounties. Currently a system with 12 belts can support 1 or 2 ratters decently; by making sure there is 2-4 complexes in the system with waves of battleship rats (along with battlecruisers, cruisers, frigates, and sentries) a system could support many more pilots and making "ratting" more difficult and thus more exciting. Additionally, once these complexes were found and made active, I'd have them appear on the overview like in Factional Warfare so wandering enemy gangs have no trouble finding you to keep it interesting.
Lastly I would make local non-immediate which means people would only appear in local if they type something to say. Without the "ultimate intel tool" alliances would be extremely vulnerable to roaming gangs, encouraging the closing of ranks and actually having patrols and gate sentries to observe enemy movement. Shrinking the amount of space an alliance can easily hold means there is more room for other alliances to move in. With more alliances we would see a greater population density in 0.0 space, more market development from intrepid traders, and a place to absorb all those incoming new subscribers.
Factional warfare made great strides to get people into low sec. The Faction channel becomes a default intel and fleet organizational tool, and pirates become the hunted to hungry-for-kills Faction gangs. There is still a lot of issues with low sec however and the primary problem is that it is far too easy to find someone in space. Directional scanner to get their area if not actual location, scan probes that within a minute can nail down your exact location, and local (damn local) to reveal to all and sunder that you're in the system in the first place.
The biggest problem comes from local, the instantaneous method for seeing who's here. Like 0.0, I think low sec would benefit from local going to non-immediate mode. It would force roaming pirate gangs to actually go and look for targets, and would allow pilots to have a chance to hide beyond "docking up". Furthermore, I think the directional scanner should go away. Radical, I know. But we have these awesome scan probes anyways and the directional scanner is just far too powerful in conjuction with the scan prober for getting ships in mission deadspaces. Without the directional scanner, you would actually have to know someone is in a mission instead of just figuring it out in seconds with the scanner and than spamming probes until you beat the probabilities and get the hit.
Trade hubs and mission hubs are the primary problems here.
For mission hubs the answer is easy: dynamic agent quality. If agents are used a lot, have their quality drop. Conversely, agents never visited get quality boosts. The mission runners will distribute themselves appropriately.
Trade hubs are more difficult. One idea I had was to have huge tax penalties for people selling stuff straight from their hanger thus encouraging renting a corporate office. Then the limits on offices and increasing office rent prices in popular stations would force smaller traders out of the hubs into the adjacent systems, etc etc. This is how the real world works, right? Smaller specialty stores rent in the suburbs while the big stores rent space downtown. There would still be hubs but they would consist of a constellation of systems and not one station in one system that everyone has to flock to.
That's it for now folks.