The Fog of Trade

Coming back to Eve I’ve looked at the Fanfest videos and been checking out the Reddit a bit as well as looking through this or that blog and the various news sites. I haven’t gotten back into checking out the podcasts yet, which seems to be more and more of a primary vehicle for knowing the lay of the land, so I wouldn’t really consider myself up on all that’s happening. Sometimes, however, the common sense impressions of just a moderately informed player can be valuable. It seems to me that the primary problem that Eve faces is still the N+1 problem. That, though, will have to be discussed elsewhere. I am just mentioning it because I am not all that concerned with what others seem to be concerned with as of late.

Right now there seems to be a current of sentiment that Eve lacks enough conflict drivers. However, Eve is a sandbox, and in my opinion, if there isn’t enough conflict, the players are to blame. A primary gripe seems to be that attacking structures is AIDS, and adjustments to the structure system are being called for. I have heard tell of a good idea or two to make some changes, and may talk about those in the future, but CCP’s agenda seems to be to spend the majority of the year doing cleanup and to end the year with the new moon mining. I personally had lamented the lack of module tiercide recently, and was delighted to see a commitment to finishing that off and implementing the meta module construction principle. It is going to be a lot of annoying work, but I think now really is the proper time and place to accomplish these things.

I also think that we really should hold on and see how moon mining affects conflict in Eve before we rush to start changing the structures. Again, I have heard and thought up some ideas on how structures could be changed, but part of the principle of making the new player-built destructible structures viable involves making destroying them enough of a task that the attacker has to really want the space to undertake the endeavor. Blowing up structures for lols, just to create fights, will suddenly make everyone quite vulnerable, and I don’t think that would be ultimately welcomed. We also need to see a nullsec without stations before we can get a real feel for how easily we want our destructible structures to pop. I’m certainly not ruling out modifying structures to increase conflict, but I really think we need to wait.

Now with the old player-made indestructible outposts going way, there will be some things to address. For instance, using one’s annual ability to set a medical clone to any corporate office currently only works for stations as far as I know. That little mechanic will have to be addressed. More significant, though, is the issue of APIs. If things are to stay the same, something will have to be done about APIs or DOTLAN will have to change considerably. It’s this issue that I want to ponder here.

For a long time in Eve’s history there have been those who think that Eve would be better off if there were just less intelligence available through APIs. Some have even kicked around a delayed local for nullsec. I am becoming one of those people. I’m not advocating for delayed local in nullsec, but I think less API information will change the game for the better, not only for combat, but for trade and industry. Now I may be out of sync with what is on everyone else’s minds with the lack of conflict thing. I am, however, thinking about fewer APIs and less market data available in order to promote local industry and create a career as a trader that is actually played by a player with one account who logs in and uses the UI, rather than one of many alts of a single veteran with everything provided to him on his smartphone.

Now certain API information will be going away this summer when the nullsec stations go away, but really with the refineries do we see the possibility of local industry being viable at the end of the year. With the new industrial complexes, pretty much anyone can make meta 0 items. When the meta 1 industry for subcapitals and modules comes out, we will have another huge area of industry that pretty much any player will be able to participate in using the industrial complexes. It is my hope that when the refineries come out, all the moon goo needed for all T2 industry will be available in any (somewhat extensive) area of space. If this happens, and it needs to, then only T3 industry will require materials from a specific location in Eve. Well, there are the drone regions materials and drugs, but that also, like T3, is a fairly small chunk of the overall pie. With meta 0, 1, and 5 available anywhere, allowing the overwhelming majority of Eve material to be constructed by anyone anywhere, relatively complete programs of local production will finally be available. No longer must one JF materials from Jita to build. That is a very significant milestone for the game.

I propose at that time that taxes and brokers fees at NPC stations in highsec and lowsec get a large bit higher, and we finally give Jita cancer. I further recommend that API information currently available in stations NOT be given to the new structure markets. Trade is currently far too much an alt’s game. People get all the info they need off their smartphones. I would prefer that actual players log in and get market information from the Eve UI. With three characters per account, a single player with a single account can get market information for a fairly good area. With less information, there will be more opportunity for greater price variation, making for more exciting trading. Since public markets will likely remain rare, operating a highsec-to-nullsec trading operation will require diplomatic ability as well.

I am aware that there was a riot when NPC station taxes and broker fees were increased. I am also aware that the player base is somewhat discontent because they think CCP should be required to force them to undock. Over my years I have complained that the player base is in many sectors too crusty to actually play this game. Change to suit the players is always demanded, but change that requires the players to change is always rejected. Too many times has CCP benefitted from some lucky marketing feature, whether alpha clones or WWB or BRB or whatever, only to have mass influxes of players leave. CCP has been killing itself over creating a better NPE in order to rectify this. With the new structure system, CCP is truly and finally opening the career field of manufacturer to all players of Eve, and I believe this sort of thing will affect player retention more than just a better tutorial. Currently, anyone can manufacture the basics, but they still have to watch the big boys with their jump freighters full of moon goo do the heavy work. That will soon be changing, if CCP handles the refineries correctly. Trading, however, is still in the hands of the old guard. Too much work is done by a certain type of player. This player has a combat main through whom he is known to Eve, and on whom he spends most of his time, but he also has a JF pilot, several cyno alts, several station traders, and a handful of smartphone apps into which he feeds API data in order to be able to generate huge quantities of ISK with minimal login time. Removing market data from CREST and APIs, and forcing a player to actually commit game time to trading in a way that can be accomplished with one account, will create an actual career path that will help player retention in the same way that the opening up the manufacturer’s career will. Yes, the old guard will riot, but I don’t think the riots will last long, and the players that Eve gains from this change will ultimately benefit the game more in the long run.

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