Friday, June 9, 2017

That feel when you think CCP is making necessary (but lazy) changes yet the community is going insane

So, I've been in the process of doing a super long study into Citadel/EC usage statistics for a post here. It has taken we way too long. That post is almost done, but I wanted to chime on the current, can-only-be-described-as shit-storm on R/EVE (and the forums, not that people really visit them nowadays).

CCP has made a number of necessary changes to EVE in the past week. Certainly not ideal changes to the underlying problems, but necessary, given how deep some of the problems go; and expedient, given that they did not require much dev time. Lazy is how I would describe the "fixes."

First, CCP once again nerfed Rorqual mining, and this time nerfed the spawn rate of mining anoms. Let's be fair, anyone who objectively looks at the mineral markets and the amount being mined in certain regions would agree that a fix was needed to keep the economy healthy. In my opinion (similar to EVE Prosper's) the problem with Rorqual mining was not cheap minerals (that's fairly win-win except for newbros), but the scaling. Any activity in EVE that can be done semi-AFK is going to be open for abuse and should probably be made more active.

CCP Soundwave (rip) once called for a war on passive isk. Sadly he left and the current tenure of EVE devs decided to release a capital mining ship that mines just as passively as mining barges. Anything that can be done passively to make isk will be exploited to the maximum extent by players running as many accounts as their computer can handle. A better fix to the Rorqual would have been to keep the mining levels at their original released level, but to make Excavators like Fighters, requiring actively clicking at least a few times every minute to mine (and shouldn't all mining require or at least involve active gameplay to get maximum isk? One would think). Multiboxing more than 1 Rorqual should have been humanly impossible from the start. Instead, we got players naturally running 10+ Rorqs while still watching Netflicks, and as a result CCP implemented a necessary but self-induced nerf to their mining amount and mining anom spawn rate. Lazy is the best word I can use to describe this change.

Second, CCP nerfed Fighter damage, and made it more likely NPCs will shoot fighters. As a solo PVPer I think Fighers apply far too well to BS and lower targets, but their DPS when applying is probably OK. There's virtually no sig tanking their DPS (even in an AB Succubus), and that destroys the line between capitals and sub-caps. Nerfing Fighter DPS in my view is once again a lazy fix to a problem that requires changing. The problem of course is that EVE's primary isk sink (NPC bounties) is absolutely out of control.

The isk facuet graph is the main one people are pointing to to indicate the problem of null sec anoms. Bounty prizes have completely outpaced every other isk facuet and isk sink in game. However, there's a more important graph.

Money supply is more important than pure isk sinks. After all, if 100% of the isk from sinks was being destroyed, there would be no issue how much isk was entering the game. Instead, money supply is the issue. And money supply has absolutely skyrocketed and is only speeding up.

What does high liquid isk do to the game? First off, it raises PLEX and injector prices. Why? People who have a lot of liquid isk need a place to park that isk. Having 100b+ in your wallet is both dangerous and stupid. Dangerous because of the possibilities you misclick an order or contract and lose billions to a scam. Stupid because isk sitting in your wallet makes zero profit. Historically, players "park" isk in PLEX and, now, injectors. They are one of the few goods on the market that sees real inflation. T1, T2, T3 ships and modules have not seen virtually any inflation in the 6 years I've played. Neither has almost any other good expect PLEX and, now, injectors. So the smart thing to do--and indeed the only non-super-speculative thing to do--with hundreds of billions of isk, is to park it in PLEX.

I parked 200b isk in PLEX when it was sub-1b about a year ago, and another 100b in injectors when they dropped below 575m (lol) in November 2016. As expected, both rose, and I sold off stocks of both to make a mindlessly easy 100b in profit or so. When PLEX and injectors are at a 1 year low, give or take, I'll probably start to park 400-500b in them, repeating the cycle once again.

High PLEX and injector prices are not necessarily bad for the game. Look at it from this perspective: the higher PLEX goes, the more a measly 15 bucks will get you in game. Most people don't feel that way. High prices are bad for the players who view PLEXing their account via in-game earnings as essential to their playstyle--and, if R/EVE is any sign of how the playerbase views high PLEX prices, players freak the hell out when PLEX goes higher. It also creates a bad perception for new players. Making 1m isk an hour mining in a venture seems much less significant when PLEX is at 2b compared to when it is sub-1b, even if, realistically, new players would be better off not trying to PLEX their account with isk for a long time.

Second, though, the higher liquid isk gets, the more EVE suffers from what I would call the "Planetside problem." The Planetside problem is that equipment, ships, and guns are trivially cheap, but there's no reason to log in to fight.Some back of the napkin math I did suggested that Goons could lose around 75 fleet fit Machs (and pre-spawn-nerf prices) a day and still be turning a profit from Rorqual mining and carrier ratting. 

Instead of putting a respawn timer on mineral sites--which do not directly add isk to the economy--why didn't CCP add respawn timers to ratting anoms, which add the majority of isk to the game? Running out of Sanctums and Havens in your system would mean having to move (gasp) to another system that you haven't depleted. It would mean players would have to (gasp) spread out and maybe move systems once and a while in order to keep ratting the best sites. CCP is once again, in my opinion, using a lazy fix to a deep problem. It won't hold. Players will switch to multiboxing rattlesnakes or super-boxed VNIs. I don't expect the isk faucet graph to go down relatively to average players logged in during the summer. Yes, it will slow down, because less people will be playing, but the Fighter nerf is only going to push some players to farming anoms with other ships.

Overall, I feel I'm in an awkward position. I think CCP is trying to fix some real problems in the game and economy, but doing so in completely lazy and lacking ways that ultimately won't fix the problems. On the other hand, the shit-storm players are raising on reddit is focused almost entirely on the fact that CCP is making any changes whatsoever to null mining and anom isk. Both sides are being intellectually lazy and going by knee-jerks reactions.

If you've been around EVE and R/EVE long enough, you'll know some of the posters there haven't played EVE in years, and others play R/EVE a lot more than the spaceship pewpew game the rest of us play on a weekly basis. If I were CCP I'd ignore them and pay attention to the feedback offered by the CSM and the quantitative data available, and I'd sure as hell try to create more long-term and sustainable solutions to the economic problems EVE is facing. 

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