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New Player Retention – Skills, Missions, and Standings

Remember when CCP pointed at wardecs and said “that’s why we’re not keeping new players” and gave players a way to exempt their corporations from highsec warfare? Remember how after they made all the wardec changes, new player retention dramatically increased? Don’t worry, I don’t recall that last bit either. James315 has been suggesting for some time that CCP is effectively just aimlessly twisting dials to see what works. The short-lived nullsec blackout earlier this year would strongly suggest they are doing just that.

So, I’d like to present some of my own dial-twisting suggestions that are the result of conversations on Reddit, alliance comms, and the BU and minerbumping channels.

Skills

Remodel the skill queue. While the current iteration is a vast improvement over its predecessors, there have been several excellent mock-ups suggested over the years that would make things much better. Little things like this make a world of difference in how new players perceive the game. The skill queue is something new players see quite a lot as they tweak their training, and making it easy and appealing should be a priority for UI design.

Remove attributes. Learning skills disappeared years ago, and no one misses them. Attributes need to go away as well. Especially in the first months of play, Eve is a game of progression. You train into new ships, new modules, and new gameplay options. In the current system, a player interested in optimizing their skill queue can’t move back and forth between engineering and gunnery skills without severely penalizing their skill production. A game shouldn’t actively penalize a new player so they cannot generate SP at the same rate as veterans because they can’t afford to spend months on the same skill group to get the most out of their mapping. As an extension of this change, anything that currently affects attributes should be a percentage boost in SP generation instead.

Make jump clones accessible. NPC stations should allow you to clone jump inside the station with no timer, for free (the way citadels do now). This idea original came from a conversation on Reddit about learning implants, and how the risk of losing expensive learning implants creates an incentive to stay docked. I said that rather than removing learning implants entirely, it would make more sense to teach people about jump clones early and encourage them to be used often. This also serves to prepare them to use a feature that is a daily necessity for large parts of the Eve community.

A reasonable nerf to injectors. One of CCP’s justifications for injectors was that new players need them to catch up to the veterans, and I won’t argue their usefulness. But the reality of day-to-day Eve is that they seem to mostly be used to inject yet another super or rorqual pilot to put even greater distance between newcomers and late-game. Injectors need a reasonable limit to how many can be used; I like the idea of a fatigue system like we see on capitals where using more injectors at once means having to wait longer before the next one can be used.

I don’t know the numbers off hand for how many injectors you need to go from new character to Rorqual or super pilot, but if the fatigue system could reasonably stretch the time on getting there to 4-8 weeks I think the vast majority of players would get behind it. Injectors were meant for new players to catch up and for mid-level players to quickly pick up a new doctrine. I don’t see how anyone at CCP interested in player retention and game balance would think it’s a good idea to allow players to create day one capital alts.

Let (newer) players grind skills. I’ll start by acknowledging that this will easily be the most controversial and potentially exploitable idea I’m presenting here. I won’t try to suggest ways to prevent exploitation: that’s for CCP to consider with the knowledge of what their systems can and cannot do and for the player base at large to test. That said, one of the greatest complaints I hear from new players who made it to their second month is this: “It takes so long to feel competitive at anything and I get tired of logging in and doing the same thing every day waiting for skills to train.”

I think we can all agree, that’s a problem. When new players look at how long it takes them to build up skills and they talk to seasoned players who have topped 100 million SP, it’s a daunting task. Currently their only solution is to grind isk to spend on injectors, which I’m sure CCP envisioned as being a great way to make money. The problem is, retention numbers suggest they are simply leaving and that injectors are largely being consumed by veteran alts who can afford to inject directly to specific skill sets.

To that end, I propose a that NPC missions should reward players with directly-applied skill points. (This probably should be an omega-only feature, both to encourage upgrading as well as to remove one avenue of potential abuse.) By “directly-applied” I mean that skill points shouldn’t be added to the unassigned pool, but rather directly to skills relevant to the mission type and empire. So a player could run Caldari military missions to improve missile and Caldari spaceship command skills. Skilled only on shield ships and need to get armor ship skills in place as quickly as possible? Head over to Amarr space and grind missions there to get a boost.

Obviously there are a lot of mechanics to consider here. How many SP should be rewarded? Should there be a cap on these rewards? (I would emphatically say yes, 3-5 missions should be the maximum grind for extra SP.) What skills would be eligible? What skills should be excluded? I’m picturing a system where specific T1 level 4 skills are attainable in highsec and level 5 skills would require faction warfare or missions in lowsec. T2 skills would not be eligible for gains from these missions. The result would be that a new player could use mission mechanics to obtain level 4 ship command and weapon system skills in a much more reasonable time, opening up much more of the game to them early. Industrial skills could be similarly improved to an extent They can choose then to venture into lowsec to continue grinding for their level 5 skills to achieve T2 faster, or simply wait out that training while doing other things.

The Grind – PVE Improvements

Obviously the bulk of my thoughts on skill improvements went towards giving new players a way to put in time actively engaging in Eve in order to speed up their skill production. Those thoughts naturally led to ideas of ways to improve the mission system overall. Conversations with corpmates on TeamSpeak further clarified some ideas that would make Eve less frustrating and less likely to induce rage quits with bad mechanics.

Remove negative empire standings. This just doesn’t serve any purpose except to occasionally cause a newer player to wander into the wrong empire and die to faction police with no obvious warnings they were taking that risk. The current system simply punishes people who don’t cherry pick missions and makes portions of highsec inaccessible to new players for using the very content the NPE taught them to use. This system has no practical value in the game and since CCP has all but abandoned lore as anything more than a way to introduce new mechanics, let’s drop the pretense and throw this out. Empire standings should only ever go up. (edit: thanks to u/bunchofsugar on Reddit for pointing out that faction warfare would be impacted by this. So I will amend this to simply say that normal military missions should not result in the loss of empire standings.)

Remove NPC corporation standings. Like empire standings, these have no practical purpose in modern Eve. Ever since mission quality ratings were removed and all level 4 missions were the same, the only metric that determined which agent a player uses is the value of the LP. So let’s just throw out the notion of having to grind standings with multiple corporations in the same empire. It serves no purpose.

Add a mission reputation meter. Let’s start with an example here: A new player spends months running missions in Amarr space. The corporation they’ve been active in falls apart. They find a new group that sounds great, except they’re in Caldari space. They’ve been running level 4 missions for a while now, and relocating means dropping back to level 1s and grinding their way back up. Sounds like a great way to make Eve tedious for a little while: their income drops, they have to move and refit ships that can enter low level mission gates, and their participation with their new corp is less than desired because they need to work up that income stream to afford whatever other things are being done. The solution here is to add a reputation meter for each mission type. Get your score high enough, you can jump straight to your desired mission level without the empire standing (but don’t have access to other agent services like locators).

Putting It All Together

A new player joins and finds the skill queue easier to explore and use. Optimization of training is limited to boosters and implants speeding up training, and new players are taught early that they can protect high-value implants through the use of easily-accessible jump clones.

As the new player ventures into normal highsec, the missions they run contribute directly to relevant skills. Alpha players would be notified that if they had an Omega subscription, they would have been rewarded with additional skill points.

Mission agents are easier to find and there are no nasty surprises as a result of running missions for an extended period of time. In fact, players are actively encouraged to work on standings with all empires as they will need to run missions for all of them to get all the skill bonuses. Players with a few years of experience can still find it advantageous to return and run some missions to fill in holes in their skill set, resulting in local having a greater mix of players. This influx of experienced players spending a few days grinding specific skills means new players get better advice when seeking help in local and their chances of befriending someone who can draw them into a larger social circle go up.

One More Thing – Freelance Missions

One of my corpmates is a game developer. In talking through a lot of these ideas on comms, he said that Eve has a serious problem: it doesn’t incentivize late-game players to undock and do things. He pointed at mobile apps that require players to invest at least a few minutes every day to get the most out of their games. They limit the number of times a player CAN engage in this type of PVE, but also strongly penalize those who don’t do it. He could explain the mechanic and the rationale behind it far better than I can, so I’ll just say this: I think it would be good for Eve. We need more ships in space.

His proposal was to completely replace the mission system. I can’t see that being anything that would work in the near future, so I’ll modify it and say we should add a freelance mission system to the Agency. It would work something like this: from whatever system you’re in, the Agency offers you several missions, possibly within a small radius. You can accept up to <insert number here> of them. Running those missions would be tied to…something that would give us a good reason to get online and do it for 15-30 minutes at least 2-3 times a week.

This is a new idea, and largely not of my own making. It obviously would need a lot more thought put into it to clarify the vision. My corpmate was clear about a few things, particularly that this should be available in every system, even while undocked. The idea isn’t to force every player in Eve to go do a particular piece of content. But…What would be the motivator to undock? What kind of missions should be offered? How can this work for wormholes?

As always, feedback and discussion are welcome.

Min/Maxing the Catalyst Gank

catalyst

You haven’t gotten rid of me yet. Real life and lowsec empire-building have cut into my highsec shenanigans, but I’m still up to things. Primarily ganking those evil industrialist pigs. To that end, I spend a fair bit of time in the minerbumping channel talking to CODE. and other members of the ganker community.

A few days ago, a newcomer was asking about Catalyst fits. Specifically he was asking about polarized weapons without first having checked the market. After setting him straight on not fitting a 70 mil Catalyst, several of us started comparing fits. Mine was basic: Light Neutron Blaster IIs across the highs, Magnetic Field Stabilizer IIs across the lows, a scram and a sensor booster in the mids, and a T1 hybrid rig and a overclocking rig. Gogela shared a similar fit that gave up the sensor booster in favor of a T2 hybrid rig and a T2 sensor rig. It lacked the CPU to get the sebo in and dropped one of the magstabs to a meta, so the tradoff was roughly 200 sensor strength for 27 addtional DPS. I felt like this could be improved up and set about digging through Pyfa for options. I found two things:

  • Small Algid Hybrid Administrations Unit I – this rig reduces the CPU load of hybrid turrets at the expense of powergrid. You’ve got plenty of powergrid to work with on a typical gank catalyst, and a day of training hybrid rigging keeps the penalty manageable.
  • Zainou ‘Gnome’ Weapon Upgrades WU-1002 – this implant is affordable and drops CPU demand of turrets an addtional 2%.

Combined, these two allow a full stack of T2 magstabs AND the sensor booster while using the T2 hybrid rig, maximizing damage output.

The Fit:

[Catalyst]

Magnetic Field Stabilizer II
Magnetic Field Stabilizer II
Magnetic Field Stabilizer II

Initiated Compact Warp Scrambler
F-90 Compact Sensor Booster, Scan Resolution Script

Light Neutron Blaster II, Void S
Light Neutron Blaster II, Void S
Light Neutron Blaster II, Void S
Light Neutron Blaster II, Void S
Light Neutron Blaster II, Void S
Light Neutron Blaster II, Void S
Light Neutron Blaster II, Void S
Light Neutron Blaster II, Void S

Small Hybrid Burst Aerator II
Small Algid Hybrid Administrations Unit I
[Empty Rig slot]
Void S x112
Scan Resolution Script x1

If you’re wondering about the count on ammo, that’s 14 volleys, which is 1 more than you can use in a 0.5 system in which Concord has already spawned.

Expect this Catalyst to cost 13-14 million isk, with roughly 4.6 million on average dropping in the wreck.

Implants:

Yes, you should use implants. The WU-1002 is crucial for the above fit. Here’s the full implant set I’d recommend:

  • Zainou ‘Deadeye’ Small Hybrid Turret SH-603
  • Zainou ‘Gypsy’ Signature Analysis SA-702
  • Eifyr and Co. ‘Gunslinger’ Surgical Strike SS-903
  • Zainou ‘Gnome’ Weapon Upgrades WU-1002

That makes for a 50 million isk pod on today’s Jita prices.

With implants, this fit is capable of 746 DPS and a scan resolution of 988. or 1041 with heat (be careful heating a sebo, it can kill your scram if you run too many cycles).

Skills:

Purchase these for a new character (about 2.5 mil):

Gallente Frigate
Gallente Destroyer
Small Hybrid Turret
Small Blaster Specialization
Jury Rigging
Hybrid Weapon Rigging

Alpha skills:

If you’re cooking alpha characters prior to subscribing or just planning to gank as an alpha, this will take about two months. Max perception with the rest of your points in intelligence for an optimized train.

Cybernetics 2
Jury Rigging 3
Hybrid Weapon Rigging 3
Power Grid Management 5
CPU Management 5
Signature Analysis 3

Gallente Frigate 3
Gallente Destroyer 1
Weapon Upgrades 4
Motion Prediction 3
Small Hybrid Turret 5
Small Blaster Specialization 3 (once this is trained to 1, you can fly this fit)
Rapid Firing 4
Surgical Strike 4
Gunnery 5

Omega skills:

Note: if you’re starting this plan as an omega, get Weapon Upgrades 5 earlier, as it’s necessary for fitting (see my note below). This is another two months training for perfect DPS and scan resolution.

Weapon Upgrades 5
Small Blaster Specialization 5
Rapid Firing 5
Surgical Strike 5
Signature Analysis 5

Boosters:

The Agency ‘Pyrolancea’ DB3 Dose I booster can eek out an addtional 20 DPS, which can make a difference on tight gank numbers. Anything more is rather costly as you’d be doing really well to get 3 ganks on a dose.

A Note on Alpha Characters:

This fit as listed requires the Weapon Upgrades 5 skill, which is not accessible for an alpha character. You can sacrifice about 20 DPS and some extra isk by switching the ‘Deadeye’ SH-603 implant for the Zainou ‘Gypsy’ CPU Management EE-603 to make this fit work for an alpha pilot.

My First (Almost) 500 Days of Eve, According to My Killboard

Over the years, I’ve had a lot to say about player retention, how people experience Eve, and what should be done to protect people. I’ve frequently referenced my own experiences to reinforce my point. Recently I reached back into the last page of my killboard to do just that, and it got me to thinking: there’s a story there. I was finally dragged into playing Eve on May 24, 2010 by a good friend, who had himself started playing a month before with several mutual friends. I came in with no prior MMO experience to draw from, having primarily played FPS and RTS prior to Eve.

Day 1: The new player experience gives me a mission that requires me to lose a ship.

Day 3: Or maybe that was this loss. One of those two is my first unintended loss of a ship. I just turned around and bought another one. I took to this lesson quite well: ships were disposable. They were something to be used, and sometimes used up.

Day 24: Two days after joining the corporation founded by my friends, I lost an Omen tagging along on level 4 missions. I took to the Omen because I liked the lasers. Less reloading, less cargo for ammo, also PEW PEW PEW LASERS. I immediately replaced the Omen with bounties and insurance money. In spite of such losses, I was easily making isk to replace ships I lost to my habit of diving in over my head.

Day 48: Still flying and losing Omens in missions. My little noob corp had no one to give me advice on fittings, though the fit does indicate that we’d recently discovered salvaging. Being a bit behind everyone else, I took it upon myself to become the salvager as it gave me a role in higher-profit missions to which I would never grind standings enough for access.

Day 59: I discovered the pre-Noctis salvage Catalyst, and proceeded to lose two ships  because I lacked the patience to sit on a gate waiting for the combat ship to finish doing his thing. I didn’t stop this habit, I simply learned how to not die taking a catalyst into hostile level 4 mission grids. The most important bit here is this is the first fits you see in my history that have truly deliberate fittings. It took me two months to reach that point. I’d be embarrassed if I hadn’t seen hundreds of new players do exactly the same things.

Day 63: Around this same time, a corpmate introduced me to exploration and I found the first thing that really suited me. I lost my first battlecruiser in a drone site. My fit was still kitchen sink, most likely built primarily from mission loot I’d picked up working as the corp salvager. I feel it’s important to note here that I’d learned early to mistrust Battleclinic, which was supposedly the place to go for fitting ideas at the time.

Day 96: Exploration led me to wormholes and I discovered just how ill-prepared I was to contend with sleepers. This fit shows that after 100 days, I was finally putting together a proper ship, although clearly there were some concepts I was still missing.

Day 100: We discovered ABC ores in the wormholes we’d been poking around in. The first couple of ops were uneventful and more than paid for the barges we’d been risking in w-space. So when my first taste of PVP was the loss of a retriever, I wasn’t concerned. I understood that I had very little on grid at any given time relative to the potential payout involved.

Day 112: C1 sites were a far more consistent source of income than hoping for a good grav site in w-space, and I was regularly day-tripping in a decently-fitted Harbinger. I found the risk to be well worth the reward. I continued to venture in and out of wormholes, occasionally losing T1 frigates to hole camps as I scouted and bookmarked.

Day 146: Our first wardec! My first PVP loss in highsec! I remember us scrambling to figure out how war worked, and quickly realizing we could simply continue to operate so long as we watched local and didn’t blindly jump gates.

Day 170: My first PVP kill. I was doing some highsec exploration and this guy intended to swipe my loot and run. Turns out, I had a point on my “PVE” ship. W-space had hardened me enough that I started fitting one just in case.

day 176: We get can flipped during a corp mining op. Being the daring one, I proceeded to take our stuff back, making multiple trips in my Bestower, aligning before scooping and warping immediately. I finally lost the Bestower on my last trip. My antics earned us another wardec.

Day 180: Ignorant of the watch list and locator agents, I drove 20 jumps away and proceeded to run missions there, thinking I’d be safe far away from our “home” in The Citadel. I learned the hard way that didn’t work.

Day 205: A recent recruit and I decided to roam lowsec and score a modest kill. This kicked off two weeks in which I lost several ships in lowsec, both roaming for fights and attempting exploration.

Day 227: My exploration Harbinger continues to evolve and serve me well, netting me a small kill when I stumble across a Cormorant during my trips.

Day 241: Our third wardec comes at the hands of someone who posed as a recruit to gather intel first. I decided to yolo a Slicer versus a Typhoon. He let the war go after that. A few more losses followed as I continued to take risks and push the limits of my exploration ships.

Day 363: I enter into some sort of PVP tournament a friend was running, killing a Catalyst before losing my Omen to a Thorax. Somewhere in the past two months, my friends/corpmates began to leave the game for other pursuits, leaving me wondering what to do next.

Day 462: Another war. Having recently trained into a Pilgrim, I decide to take it for a spin. Unfortunately my wartarget had no interest in honoring a 1v1 and the Pilgrim died a noble death.

Day 474: I joined The Skunkworks.

As my killboard stands, everything you see above represents page 27. That first page contains 36 of my total 97 losses. Page 26 is entirely green. My shift from a corp made of inexperienced friends to a corp run by seasoned veterans had an immediate impact on how I played the game. I’d never noticed this fact until I sat down to write this, and I don’t think it can be overemphasized.

So what conclusions do I take from all this?

  • It simply cannot be overstated how valuable it is to have someone with experience guiding new players. Psychotic Monk taking a chance on a very negative killboard is the reason I didn’t quit Eve before I hit day 500. I learned so much more in the first few weeks with SKNK than I ever figured out on my own.
  • Comparing my killboard to that of the noob corp that I joined, I accounted for the bulk of the losses to NPCs and to players. I’m also the only one of us still playing Eve eight years later. CCP’s own data suggests this isn’t a coincidence.
  • CCP relies too much on external sites and obscure eveonline.com links to convey important information about how the game works. There has been a slow trend over the years to demystify some of the game, but a lack of good documentation leaves it to others to fill in the blanks…and they quite often get it wrong.
  • I remember what it was like, watching my friends trickle away from the game one at a time. One guy, or mission “expert”, simply burned out on running missions but had become accustomed to his blinged out Golem and didn’t want to take risks. Another had made several attempts at getting out to lowsec, jumping mining ships into Tama and dying horribly before giving up. Our marketing guru had a similar “what now” experience to our mission guy: he was at a loss for what to do besides nickle and dime his way into more and more isk…which wasn’t enough for him to stay in the game. Everyone hit a threshold where they were looking for something else to do, and simply not finding it.

Instanced PVP, Wardec Changes, and An Invitation

A Larger Abyss

When CCP first announced Abyssal content, they justified its instanced dungeons with the claim that the content of the pockets was such that running it as normal deadspace would be tasking on the servers. It flew in the face of fifteen years of Eve’s “one universe” ideology by creating PVE spaces that couldn’t be interfered with. I had my misgivings at the time, but at least CCP made the high-end content riskier by having people running Abyssal content in highsec come out as suspects on tier 4 and 5 sites. Then they walked that back “temporarily” with no fixed end date in sight.

Now with the Onslaught release, that instanced content is accessible to other players…if you want it to be. You can form a three-frigate fleet to run that “server-tasking” content. I guess it didn’t need to be instanced after all. And if you’re running the solo cruiser content, you can opt in to some instanced space jousting where another cruiser who also opts in does battle with you.

I recently ran about a hundred Abyssal sites. I lost two Gilas in the process, one to a warp gate refusing to activate and one to a pile of neuts. The PVE content is quality and the randomness of it is refreshing (though still repetitive). I don’t even particularly have an issue with the “enchanting” mechanic of the mutaplasmids. I say that to make it clear that my primary concern is that the Abyss and the underlying concepts of instanced content and on-demand PVP are dangerous to the larger Eve meta.

We now have a system in which players can engage in PVE content without fear of immediate interference. What’s more, with Onslaught it is being transformed into a way to get “goodfights” without the effort of roaming and with no risk of being baited into engaging a superior force. The slippery slope here is obviously that fleet content is already in effect, and it’s reasonable to assume that eventually the frigate fleet variant will make its way into offering PVP. The ability to find and engage other players on those terms is going to take more and more ships out of regular space and leave Eve feeling more and more desolate while the people using the content operate in an increasingly safe environment.

The Next Target: Wardecs

As I mentioned previously, CCP is poised to take a nerfbat to the wardec system again. I agree that there are problems in the current state of affairs, but that’s a discussion for a previous post. It looks like the final decision for a “short term” nerf is to limit wardecs to entities that own structures. Look for that change to come with the “winter update.” Merry Christmas, now anyone looking to opt out of highsec PVP will need to simply opt out of owning structures with the same corp they’re a member of. The solution to “we made a corp and are now getting pummeled” is apparently to move the bar to “we anchored an Athanor and are now getting pummeled.”

I honestly can’t even predict what this will mean for all of you who aren’t in one of the handful of big wardec alliances. My gut tells me that a lot of smaller mercs and wardec enthusiasts will lose a fair bit of content while the hub campers will continue to do what they do with a slightly smaller margin on their killboards.

Lowsec Is Still Fun

I never really planned on using this blog for recruiting, but here it is: Arcana Noctis is looking for dudes like you. We need competent, maladjusted individuals who can’t properly start their day without wrecking something. So if the new highsec isn’t your bag, or you’re just looking for another flavor of content, or maybe you just want to come fly with me on the rare occasion that I can actually make fleet ops, drop me a mail in game. We have been known to dabble in highsec shenanigans (see TerrorDestroyer5K and the OAK structure fights I blogged about), we have a large network of things and people over several regions of low, and we’ve got jump range on dozens–probably well over 100 now–of null systems.

Drop me a mail in game and I’ll set you up an interview with the leadership.

So About Wardecs…

There is considerable discussion on r/Eve right now about wardecs. It seems the recently-released CSM 13 minutes indicate that CCP has data showing indicating a startling rate of attrition among new players who are the targets of wardecs. It seems significant enough that some members of the CSM stated that it could justify an immediate removal of the wardec system while a more lasting solution is worked out.

Such knee-jerk reactions are rarely good in the best of circumstances. CCP’s history of such things can hardly be classified as “best” and their recent acquisition by Pearl Abyss should give us all even more pause. I also feel that most of the CSM has little vested interest in the areas that wardecs affect, as most of them come from null blocs where a wardec simply means using neutral haulers in highsec, and perhaps aren’t the most qualified people to make sweeping suggestions on how to address the situation.

A Case for Wardecs

One of the long-running problems with making suggestions on improving the war system is that most people in the conversation are trying to solve the current problems without a clear picture of what a good wardec system would look like. To get that, we have to consider why warfare is necessary in highsec.

Even in highsec, there is competition over resources. I’ve seen competing industrial corporations go to war trying to force each other out of good ice systems or to drive out fleets that are mining out good ore from belts they claim. Since moon mining has made its way to 0.5 systems, currently the only way to remove an abandoned Athanor is with a wardec. Taking these options away from active fledgling corporations is removing one of the major selling points of Eve: the ability to influence the world around you via combat.

What’s more, those of us who spend most of our time in lowsec also make use of wardecs. Some of us prefer to maintain a sec status that allows us to wander in and out of highsec as we see fit, and wardecs allow eviction campaigns to remove structures and engage in fleet fights without having to spend hundreds of millions per character on tags.

Wardecs should be a tool for achieving a goal. Taking territory, allowing a nullsec conflict to spill into highsec, impacting cash flow of your enemies, or just settling a grudge.

What’s Wrong With Wardecs?

Obviously there’s a problem here. Or perhaps several.

Neutral Logi

One major issue is the use of neutral logi. Since CrimeWatch 2.0 came out in 2012-2013, providing remote reps to anyone engaged in combat while in a war or while they have a limited engagement causes those logis to go suspect. This seems like a great idea; now anyone can shoot those logis.

The problem is that shooting the suspect logis triggers its own limited engagement, meaning that your in-corp logi is forced to go suspect to continue providing you reps.

Poor Leadership and Bad Information Among Defenders

Over the years I’ve been on the aggressor’s side hundreds of times. I’ve also been a defender dozens of times and had spies in dozens of wartarget corps. The common trend I’ve seen among those corps that fall apart in the face of wardecs is a leadership who, frankly, shouldn’t be trying to lead. This breaks down to two basic flaws: a complete lack of proper response to war and ignorance of basic game mechanics.

Most corps I’ve seen fall apart when targeted by a much smaller group of seasoned combat pilots do so because their leader(s) don’t communicate with their members, don’t formulate any kind of response to the war, and don’t take any initiative in showing people how to deal with the situation.

What’s more is the absolutely terrible information often being taught by “experienced” players who try to lead these corps. Over the years I’ve seen people with far more skillpoints and years in the game than me tell people to fit ships completely wrong, misunderstand game mechanics that a simple Google search would explain, and state with total confidence that things work a certain way and be utterly wrong.

Intel Is Hard in Highsec

Along with neutral logi, neutral boosts and neutral scouts are able to roam in and out of local without alerting the enemy. Quite a lot of work can be done to stage prior to a fight without the enemy having any idea it’s happening. This in itself isn’t a problem–personally I always enjoyed the fact that highsec allowed you to hide in the crowd, but as a part of the larger issue this is important to recognize the unique challenge it brings. Low and null have the ability to stage gate camps and operate vast intel networks. Wormhole entities can roll holes and hammer dscan to remain constantly vigilant.

This really becomes a problem when a fleet of enemies can move into position and join the enemy corp minutes before an engagement. No amount of scouting can protect you when suddenly local is full of wartargets that were neutral moments ago. Some effort was made to punish corp-hopping years ago by adding the 7 day ban on rejoining a corp you left while it was at war, but that’s trivial when you can simply join another corp in the same alliance, or jump to an alt corp that’s in a different wardec.

The “Bully Factor”

I don’t really know how to quantify this, but I know that I felt very victimized as an early player being targeted by much more experienced and wealthier players. This is perhaps the hardest thing to solve without severely hurting the sandbox nature of the game, but it’s enough of an issue in player retention that I would be remiss if I didn’t at least acknowledge the role it likely plays in subscriber counts. It’s also perhaps the last issue I would seek a solution to; nullsec doesn’t protect a month-old player from a ten-year-old player. I’d just as soon we not start trying to do that in highsec.

So What Now?

  1. The “quick fix” solution that stops short of completely ending wardecs is to make providing reps to at-war characters in highsec into a CONCORD offense. No more neutral logi forces aggressors to bring logi that can’t hide in the crowd and makes them valid targets to the entire fleet without breaking defender logi. Do I like this idea? Not that much, but it’s preferable to the sledgehammer fix of getting rid of wars and follows with CCP’s recent trend of making small changes to see how they impact rather than making drastic changes that are much harder to predict the effects.
  2. I don’t know how hard it would be to limit wardecs to specific areas. But imagine a war system where you could specify a system, constellation, or region (or “all regions”) in which a wardec would be active. The larger the area, the more expensive the war. This would make wars for territory reasonably priced while galaxy-spanning wars could be made prohibitively expensive for all but the largest of alliances. If you’re the target of a wardec in Domain, you have 24 hours to move people and equipment a dozen jumps out of the region to a fallback position and carry on.
  3. CCP can do a much better job of communicating the nature and mechanics of war to new players. Eve’s legendary learning curve should be the result of its complex nature, not poor documentation and insufficient alerts. By making war less mysterious, newer players can make more educated decisions.
  4. Further restrict corp mobility during war. This will be a delicate issue as too much restriction allows griefing by simply maintaining wars, but it might make sense to force a character to remain in an at-war corp for a minimum of three days and/or place a four hour delay between accepting an invite and actually becoming a member of the corp so that instantly shifting the balance of a fight is much more difficult to achieve.
  5. Unless something has changed very recently, there are still issues with local channel properly showing standings and wartarget status when that changes. That desperately needs a fix as I’ve had instances where I missed tackling a valid target because they didn’t show properly in local or on my overview. Eve is a game where fights hinge on good information, it shouldn’t be acceptable for that to happen.
  6. One idea might be to have a handful of no-war systems. These would need to be free of PVE content and not permit anchoring of citadels for obvious reasons Some lore work could be done to justify maybe one safe zone for each empire. I’m specifically thinking about Jita, but don’t want to make it a special system just because it’s Jita.

What Shouldn’t Be Done:

I’ve seen a lot of talk about doing a couple of things. I’d like to address those now.

Limit wardecs to corps that own structures: The problem here is that a lot of active corps that are doing things that might warrant a wardec don’t own structures. Maybe they’re constantly mining your 0.5 athanor belt. Maybe they’re doing logistics for gankers. Maybe their CEO just wouldn’t shut up about how great they are in local and you want to show him how wrong he is. Doesn’t matter. Creating an opt-out method for highsec PVP is a bad idea.

Give wars set goals so that the war ends as soon as that goal is accomplished: Situations change quickly in Eve. If I set the goal of destroying a particular structure, then my target can immediately anchor another one when my goal was to drive them out. Not to mention, there’s no amount of options you can give me that will cover every possible legitimate reason to declare a war.

Bonus Round: Corporations

Another thing I’ve said many times over the years is that corporation membership needs to be more valuable in highsec. Wars would be more interesting and used by more people if there were compelling reasons to remain in corp and fight it out rather than (as most experienced players do) simply dropping corp and carrying on about your business. It’s beyond this scope of this post to propose changes and consider all their implications, but just like the “bully factor” I mentioned above I feel it’s important to consider the role this plays in how wardecs got to the state they’re in today. Perhaps, just perhaps, new players wouldn’t be subject to so many wardecs if every experienced hauler, miner, and mission runner in highsec weren’t so adept at simply opting out of them.


Side note: my eight-year-old motherboard finally took a dirt nap several weeks ago. My budget prevents me from rebuilding my PC for a while, so I’m blogging in lieu of actually playing Eve. See you guys in space whenever I can get back to it.

Plot Twist

Just a brief note on a sudden change of pace in Eve. I resubbed my main just in time to get the news that we were moving out of Aeschee and heading back to Arcno territory. It didn’t take long before nearly all of the US time zone was summarily kicked from Shadow Cartel for reasons above my pay grade. I only know that we were planning to leave and the European contingent sped up our departure.

Almost immediately the drop in numbers was noticed, and a very large ball of titans and supers showed up to reinforce the Aeschee Keepstar. We finished our evacuation uneventfully when that wasn’t happening. The Keepstar is due for demolition in two or three days.

So we evacuated to Dom-Aphis and have recently redeployed with the rest of the Shadow Cartel refugees in our own newly-formed alliance, Shoot First. This should be fun.

Operation TD5K: Epliogue

TerrorDestroyer5K had seen hundreds of viewers on his twitch stream. He’d become a phenomenon, and somehow he’d convinced himself that most of those people were there to learn the wisdom of his ways. We couldn’t have that. We put the word out that it was time to stop taking away his ships, and take away his viewers. The goal was to drop him from 100+ to less than 12 in a day. A restream was set up so we could watch without raising his view counts. He was baffled at the sudden decline, and on his next foray into nullsec he couldn’t understand why no one was chasing him. His immediate assumption was that he’d won: we were all too afraid or too guilty or banned or…something. I stopped paying attention.

Ultimately, nothing of note happened after this. Random gankers regularly paid attention to him so that he couldn’t fly anything of value. After months of losing literally hundreds of frigates, rookie ships, and pods, he lost his free Praxis to rats. Fun fact about that 780,000,000 isk fit: I reproduced it in Pyfa, and it can rep at best less than 70 dps. He somehow built a battleship less tanky than most frigates.

Since then, I haven’t seen much of TerrorDestroyer5K streaming Eve. Our daring spy created a tribute video capturing some of the signature moments of that weekend. I’ll end the story with that.


Lately I’ve not done much Eve myself. As I said at the start of this series, real life has been taking up a lot of my time lately. I let my accounts lapse into Alpha and only logged in to randomly roam about our territory looking for prey. But I’m getting ready to dive back in, and I’m looking to possibly make myself blog at least a couple of times a month. I’ll be reinventing it a bit, though, as Eve has changed and so have I. But I’ll get more into that later. Maybe.