Target Caller just published an article asking for ideas on how to make SOV Null more appealing to players, and not just those in large coalitions. The primary focus of the discussion will be how “Phase 3” of SOV changes will possibly impact the balance of power among player groups – as well as what possible mechanics could be introduced to make Null more profitable. This post is going to be a stream of consciousness. So expect more of me just bouncing ideas off the wall than anything else.
It’s no secret that the primary reasons to hold SOV are driven by logistics and economics. Alliances hold SOV to allow for JB networks, system upgrades, and relative stability for their members. Which in turn is used to generate resources and wealth through various game mechanics. All of this and more is then fed into the war machine of said alliance to make both line members and the overall group richer and more effective. The groups then compete over the most valuable resources, and leave the dregs to be picked over by the losers. As expected, the competition between player groups revolves primarily around moons of high value. Given that traditional rental empires seem to be on the way out, this trend doesn’t seem likely to change. Regardless, I’ll discuss ideas for new income generation ideas later in the post.
Industry and Player Engagement
As it stands now, industrial output has a very direct impact on SOV defense. Resources that are produced into war materials or sold for ISK to buy more materials represent the contribution industrial elements in a typical alliance make. It seems like an obvious improvement to Fozziesov to modify the current index system to include all forms of industry in a given system. That way, industrial corps can have a bit more impact on the defense of core systems. Now before you slam your head into the keyboard, think about it. A fleet of bait Procurers isn’t going to defend a system or constellation on its own. Dedicated PVP, and alliance-wide pushes for industrialists to engage in active defense will make for stronger alliances. So to me it would seem that the alliances that can best organize responses to threats will be in the best position. And as an obvious result assuming they’re effective, get first pick of the best resources.
The best alliances are the ones that can keep their members showing up and shooting everything that moves. Motivation is already supremely difficult to maintain in EVE, and there is a lot of potential for new emergent gameplay elements to become a standard part of the game with SOV changes. The problem of maintaining focus falls to competent and motivated leadership. Which sad to say, is kind of lacking in Null for too many alliances.
CCP will likely not make it easier for Null Logistics, instead aiming to make imports less necessary. Maybe a moon redistribution, or better mechanics for attacking or stealing from moons, will allow alliances big and small to streamline T2 production, and be more competitive. The increased force that results from readily available T2 doctrines and high-end resources will make the conflicts themselves more diverse. That diversity opens the door for more innovation in fitting and tactics to change the outcome of battles and wars.
It’s not a stretch to say that line members all over New Eden live to screw with their rivals and make ISK. Smaller alliances that want to be competitive will have to adapt to being ruthless and efficient. They must seize any strategic advantage that can achieve their goals, while also being able to resist the Meta-gaming and outright aggression of other larger groups.
This all means that it really isn’t going to be possible to rest on one’s laurels and persist in apathetic attitudes anymore if you want to be a SOV-holding entity. Sure, smaller alliances will be able to use guerrilla tactics to harass foes, but these will not win a Null war alone. Diplomacy and Meta-gaming will likely become even more necessary for alliances to engage in to some degree to survive. Sure, this will drive some players out of Null who don’t fit that mindset, but this could be countered by a direct effort by the community to mold more players into that mindset through events or other activities.
New Gold Mines
The introduction of improved AI and the Antikythera Elements gave me an idea. Coupled with the proposed structure changes and the push for independent Null industry, it seems that CCP are paving the way for a new blended mechanic. The Seekers/Sleepers seem to be the first in a line of new threats to players. It could be that CCP plan to use the FW-like elements of Fozziesov with an industry or moon revamp to create a new way for alliances to make ISK. Blending Incursion style mechanics with FW capture points and improved AI could lead to some interesting new locales and challenges for players. It’s also possible that tweaks to existing SOV structures will be expanded to include semi-passive income streams meant to replace the likes of PI or straight moon harvesting. I for one would love to see a new set of mechanics that involve Entosis Link’d fleets attacking NPC anomalies for a new resource or other goal. Or making it possible for attackers to practice active denial by raiding enemies to steal these resources.
What these might be specifically, or if I’m even on the right track, I have no idea. But it’s interesting to think about.
One thing is for sure, a lot of players are tired of stagnant Dominion systems. And CCP needs to really hit it out of the park to reinvigorate the player base.