Phoebe, and the Null Resource Advantage
Let’s talk more about the dark side of Phoebe and the jump changes.
First, let’s state the problem that plagues all competitive multiplayer games but open ended games like EVE the most, the n+1 problem:
In EVE, n can refer to the amount of ISK, skill points, friends, experience, etc. Basically, there is always an advantage to have more of things available to you than your opponents. This is a fact of gaming life. As well as business and life in general. There is a constant need for more resources. Or as the last George Carlin put it, “The meaning of life is just trying to find a place for your stuff.”.
In gaming this inherent advantage is addressed by caps on players, either direct or indirect. Limiting points, items, money, or other in-game resources. Limits in skill discrepancies, always trying to find ways to give the “little guy”, i.e. the side on the lower end of the n+1 problem, the ability to punch up against the “big guy”. Adding in diminishing returns, or more of a particular item or mechanic to try and bring “stuff” in balance.
A common complaint about any changes to nullsec is some variant of “this change benefits the big coalitions more than the little guys you want to balkanize null sec with because they have more of [insert specific resource here]“. Well, DUH! The larger and more organized group will ALWAYS have an advantage over the smaller and less organized groups unless the former choose not to take it. This is not a surprise. The goal of changes should be to give so many decisions and actions for large groups to take that they cannot press the advantage in all areas at the same time. To diffuse their advantage across multiple areas to the point they still have an advantage, but so that the opportunity for smaller groups to enter into the scuffle is always there.
This is what the jump ship and fatigue changes in Phoebe are trying to do: limit power projection of all capital fleets AND force large coalitions to make choices about how they use their n+1 advantage to the best effect, hopefully leaving opportunities open for smaller groups to gain footholds in the game. Right now, there is no choice to be made when faced with the question of smashing a smaller group because of the ease of tactical and strategic deployment of capitals, or rather the only choice is “do I feel like it?” and that’s not a good gameplay design.
So we get Phoebe. And one of the responses is “well, the large capital using coalitions will just put caches of capital ships all over the galaxy and use jump clones or interceptors to get to them when needed”.
Yes, yes they will.
The groups we are talking about are some of the most organized and affluent in EVE’s history, there is literally no mechanical solution to force projection they cannot buy and/or maneuver around with enough effort. But that’s the key word there, isn’t it? Effort.
Yes, they will create stockpiles of capital ships in various NPC stations and POS around the cluster (easier with regular caps than with super caps). Yes they will be able to avoid the jump fatigue mechanic with interceptors and/or jump clones to get to the caches as they need them. Yes, they will recruit or create more specialty accounts to accomplish this. Yes, they are still going to be able to throw their weight around considerably.
But hopefully the effort of making and maintaining these caches in an operational and ready to go state adds enough complexity to force projection to cause these large powerful groups to have to make decisions that leave gaps in the defenses. The point seems to be that these concessions will force a train of thought that means these larger groups will not only have to expend vast amounts of resources to maintain their holdings. Creating the opportunity for exploitation by smaller groups with a keen eye and ear to the ground. A small group with proper planning and good intel could easily cause havoc for these larger groups, mostly by gumming up the deployment of these caches. Thereby forcing redeployment and restructuring. A very cat and mouse game may emerge.
Only time will tell.
ISKMogul is a growing video game publication that got its start covering EVE Online, and has since expanded to cover a large number of topics and niches within the purview of gaming.