Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Willful Ignorance

I've been listening to the interviews of CSM 9 candidates on Cap Stable podcast and got to the one for Sion Kumitomo, one of the CFC / Goonswarm candidates (with Mynnna being the other official candidate). Listening to his interview infuriated me.

In November of 2012 I wrote about the stagnancy of null sec in a post called "Why So Stagnant?". Let's review what I said then:
The reason for the stagnation is that the null sec alliances at the top have been too successful for their own good.
What do I mean by that? Well, I think that the reason we don't see new FCs rising into the spotlight is because we don't see new alliances and power blocs rising into the spotlight anymore, and the reason we don't see alliances coming on strong out of the gate is because the current null sec power holders have become so good at the fleet doctrine meta that any new competition is quickly smashed and routed before they can get a foothold. The only way to get a new alliance into null sec is to find a benefactor or sponsor and thus accept their FCs and doctrines and command structure over yours. In other words, new FCs are not rising to prominence because current FCs are already so good at their jobs. 
Now this is not to say that current alliances are purposefully keeping new pilots out of fleet command opportunities. In fact, every alliance I've ever been associated with has had training programs to create new FCs and I have no reason to doubt the current powers that be are any different. But the reason we don't see any new major coalition level FCs (or at least very many) is because the current class is very very good at their job already. 
Contributing to this stratified ceiling is the increasing size and coordination of fleets that the current power blocs can muster (specifically the HBC and CFC but not limited exclusively to them). In the past, a big fleet was 100-150 pilots for a major conflict, and getting all pilots in the right ships with the right fits was an exercise in near futility. These days it seems that each side can fill out multiple fleets and each one has pilots in perfectly standardized fits that work in the doctrines. If you are not up to the numbers and professionalism of the current crop of null sec alliance war machines, you are not going to be in null sec long. More importantly, you are not going to break the stagnation as a result.
Here we are, about 15 months later, and nothing has changed. Even worse, if we take Sion Kumitomo as an exemplar of high level sov null sec opinion, the current leaders of sov null sec can't see that they themselves are to blame for the stagnation, not CCP's mechanics. Sure, the Dominion mechanics do not help in the matter but the fact is that the professional gamers in the null sec coalitions' leadership have min-maxed those mechanics to the point where they have built a great wall around sov null sec to keep everyone out but themselves and then sit around complaining there is no one new to fight. And should someone new try to scale that wall, the incumbents use those same mechanics to strangle the life out of them.

At this point, I can only assume that Sion and other leaders of null sec are practicing willful ignorance. Everyone there refusing to admit their own culpability in the state of null sec because they all sit there with guns to each other's head knowing if they accept responsibility and put down the gun that the others will execute them for trying to break the stagnation.

Another point I had issue with was Sion's disdain for renting empires. He seems to think that renting was forced upon them by the changes to Technetium but doesn't see renting as a good alternative. I thought to myself, what is the alternative? Renting is actually a pretty good system for sov null sec: the income is derived bottom up by lots of pilots instead of a handful, and renting empires are distributed and vulnerable to disruption by the enemy... if massive agreements/treaties like the B0tLords Accords didn't exist to prevent meaningful combat in those arenas. Would Sion like to go back to a single source of income so the coalitions could fund their massive wall-protecting war machines again? Ultimately, as long as alliances and coalitions "live beyond their means" of their own pilots and space, renting is the best of bad options for income generation. Perhaps CCP can add more income generators for these space communist empires, but I suspect now that they are hooked on sweet renter payments, they will never give them up. These are professional EVE players after all, and will always move to min-max the equation.

In the end, I fear the only way the wall will come down is for the current null sec residents to quit from boredom. Any change that CCP introduces will be consumed and gamed by the entrenched professionals whose investment in the status quo ensures that only their desire to stop guarding the wall will see it breached.


  1. So what about decresing the income on the alliance (and maby corp) base level.

    1. The problem is that null sec alliances are addicted to high incomes and want more of it to fuel their war machines. Any reduction in income will be met with anger, then simply adapted to via other means. These are professionals, they will find a way.

      They need to want to change, all at once, for the problem to see significant improvement. :(

  2. Well said and I couldn't possibly agree more.

  3. Interesting choice of the word "professional", which I think I see 3 times. Professional implies "getting paid". Nice to see a blogger posting what many have known for a long long time.

    You can also add that whether it is willing co-operation of the sympathizers / partners within CCP of these "professionals", or the sheer terror they invoke inside CCP when they contemplate the potential havoc that would be wreaked on CCP (perma DDoS'ed?) by the null sec cartel leaderships if CCP actually changed game mechanics to weaken the cartel's position, or a combination of both, the net effect is that CCP will NEVER alter the game mechanics to allow anyone to unseat the cartels.

    1. For the record. I used the word to imply a level of dedication and expertise, not a state of remuneration.

    2. I'm going to give this 3/5 on the Dinsdale Bingo.

  4. Of course they will blame everyone else. Tragedy of the Commons demands nothing less.

    The trick, of course, is to keep the corgi's busy enough that they don't eat the couch cushions.

    If they cannot keep the lower ranks occupied with a target of the month, they will shake themselves to pieces. therefore, they will identify a target of the month, each month, and wonder why it seems so stale.

  5. It is worth noting that CCP's plans aren't exactly encouraging in that concern. The announced plan for player-built stargates looks like just more ground to divide between the existing cartels, and nothing is being said about actually expanding the gameplay venues. Expansion upon expansion it's mostly about doing the same old shit in a different way due to changing stats.

    And meanwhile, PCU (Peak Concurrent Users) numbers are writing something pretty bad on the wall. This game is not going somewhere, and that usually ends by going nowhere.

  6. We're also distinctly lacking in barbarians. Those capsuleers who'd ordinarily be climbing over that wall to raid, pillage and haul off with as much loot as possible are quite satisfied with low-sec or non-sov null-sec. Most activities there can be accomplished with a well-fit frigate, and you generally don't need vessels much slower than a battle cruiser.

    Raiding sov null sec in any meaningful way would involve much more dedicated fleets of heavier ships, complete with industrial support to carry supplies and to haul off with loot.

    Even a casual thief with a siphon unit would need at least working knowledge of probing, a cloaked industrial, and a great deal of luck to make off with at best, a few million ISK worth of materials.

    The problem, as I see it, is that it's much harder, and takes far more prep-work to kick down the coalition sand castles than it is to build them. Which is absolutely the opposite of the rest of New Eden.

    1. Okay till the last paragraph. Those coalitions came out of a Null that is very different of the one today, the had barbarians pillaging. Their answer was to become vast coalitions so big and powerful nothing short of another coalition could bother them. It took years to build them.

      As for fixing it. CCP Greyscale stood on stage at fanfest a few years ago and said he could shatter coalitions any single time he wanted with a very small database change. But he wouldn't, because it'd have too large of repercussions to the rest of the game. And he's completely right. As Nullsec has grown into coalitions, the rest of Eve has grown with them. At this point Eve is simply dependant on Sov Null as is, just as much as Sov Null is dependant on the the highsec carebears they sneer at.

      So what to do? For me, it's leave Sov Null alone. Let them have their game of mega empires. Instead, go back to the drawing board and write a ruleset for a new area of space that cannot become what Sov Null is now, but gives the rest of us what we want Sov Null to be.

    2. I'm not sure I buy into idea that Null-sec sov empires are too big to fail. New Eden capsuleers are notoriously adaptable. I also doubt that the current owners of Null-sec resources are so integral to the economy of New Eden as to be allowed to continue unsupervised by the interstellar powers-that-be.

      It also smacks of hypocrisy. In a cluster where a miner in a heavily policed area of space is at risk of losing everything, the idea of capsuleers building empires in one of the most hostile sectors without fear of loss is, well, ridiculous.

      It takes a ship the tenth the cost of a mining barge to kill one in High-sec. The same risk should apply to Null-sec Empires.

  7. One would assume that the rather quiet CFC which will immediately change post election. Wouldn't do to have the rabble unite too soon. All I can see is a table of null seccers - and most of those really only answer to a single player¹. And none would interested in disturbing the status-quo.

    Player built stargates is already stillborn. Any group outside of a major power trying to assemble one would like advertising you have system full of CSAAs. You'll be the banana on a string to all F1 monkeys.

    ¹ kind of reminds me a joke I once heard which I'll adjust for Eve,

    - they keep telling me that these game changes for the betterment of the Player. Well this year I was at Fanfest and I got to shake his hand. (snare drum)

  8. The big question is WHY should the status quo change? Think in the terms of the little guy, not the politician!

    If Johnnie#11534 wouldn't fly under CFC banner, but under the banner of Anne's alliance, would he be in ANY different position? No, he would still fly what he was told to fly, fit it the way he was told to, jump when told, click on primary, press F1. Taking half CFC space and giving it Anne's alliance would make NO DIFFERENCE for the little guys.

    Whenever you plan a change, you need to plan it from his perspective.

  9. This is exactly the type of gameplay null is built for if u dont like it there are plenty of profitable choices for your corp that dont involve having 100s of titans, tbh I'd say the way to fix it is to merge tranquility and serenity. But in the end the same thing will still happen, its human nature look at the real world nations are not constantly at war with nations of equal size and power, they work together to usher in ab era of peace and make sure the little guy has no chance

  10. Anonymous5:15 pm

    I couldn't disagree more with the following statement: "... the current leaders of sov null sec can't see that they themselves are to blame for the stagnation, not CCP's mechanics."

    The mechanics encourage a particular type of play, they encourage certain types of alliance and coalitions to form. Players will always gravitate to a form of play with the least amount of effort. The mechanics are definitely the problem, not the players.

    If it wasn't the CFC/N3 as top dogs, then it would be some other group, perhaps BoB/Russians (if BoB had never been annihilated).

    Every sport, every game, is played a certain way. The most reward for the least amount of risk/effort. The rules of the game dictate where that sweet spot lies. The current big leaders in nullsec have discovered that sweet spot.

  11. Anonymous5:29 pm

    Actually, you yourself have admitted the mechanics are the problem in your very next statement: "... the null sec coalitions' leadership have min-maxed those mechanics to the point where they have built a great wall around sov null sec."

    Players min-max, and the results of min-maxing are the fault of mechanics.

    1. The leaders of null sec would have min-maxed the mechanics regardless of what they actually were, that is natural evolution of the game. New mechanics will simply be adapted to by the current null sec coalitions.

      Perhaps, way back when, different mechanics may have prevented the formation of these massive coalitions. But I doubt it. I think human social dynamics ensured that if players invested enough time at mastering them in null sec, they social coaltions were bound to form and master the existing and future mechanics.