The Patchwork Eve: Money Making

So, in the last two blogs I have argued that the sovereignty system should reward those who fight for their space, and should not offer any vast advantage to forming huge blocs. And, not surprisingly, I have had plenty of feedback suggesting that while those are good ideas, they are also unachievable within any realistic game mechanics. “Congratulations, Endie, “ the thrust of this pessimistic argument goes. “You clearly have a reliable supplier of top quality hallucinogenic euphorics. Hook me up with that some of that sweet, sweet connection.”

So I shall start putting my money where my mouth is and detailing specific areas that can be altered to implement such a vision. To recap the goals, which I covered in The Most Unpopular Statement in Today’s Eve.

The Goals

– Space should be easy for even a small group of pilots to hold if they turn up to defend it
– However, dedicated attackers who manage to fight the defenders to the point that they stop turning up keep their space should be able to take it from them
– Nullsec should be able to support a greater density of pilots in a given system or constellation with easy means of money making
– Holding greater amounts of space should become exponentially harder, and ultimately unrewarding due to effort or cost

If any of these seem like unjustified leaps of logic, I encourage you to look at the article linked above, or at Let a Thousand Jagged Flowers Bloom for my vision as to why this would make for a wonderful Eve.

So, in the next few articles, I’m going to address one version of how I believe CCP could realistically implement these goals, based on many years of experiencing the psychology of large groups of Eve players, both the ones I helped manage, and the hostiles I tried to second-guess. The key elements will be:

– An occupancy sovereignty system, where sovereignty is maintained by a combination of the activities needed to live in space: PvE, PvP, industrial production and maintained infrastructure. Not all of these are equal, of course, but I’ll address the weighting in its own article.
– A shift from anomalies to missions as the bread-and-butter means of making money for line members. I’ll address that today, as it is a vital shift on which the rest depend.
– A shift from the current sovereignty-taking flowchart – win all four timers or get nothing – to one which shares the incremental, to-and-fro element of Factional Warfare or the old POS system with many smaller timers (note that it would be different from each!)
– Sovereignty timer events occurring in deadspace, allowing mass limits (like wormholes) and ship limits (like factional warfare) to remove many advantages of n+1 warfare
– A substantial nerf to remote-repping, a system which encourages vast alpha fleets

Missions: Mo Money, Less Problems

As I’ve mentioned at no-doubt tedious length, I think that alliances should be able to live in much smaller, more densely-populated sovereignty footprints. If you do that, it opens up reams of space for new entrants to nullsec to occupy. Imagine if Goonswarm were able to live in four constellations? Between PBLRD and CONDI sov that would free up around three hundred systems across our half of the galaxy. Three hundred systems available for new entrants to nullsec!

So how do you make systems capable of supporting far more players at once? Belt ratting is out: the largest system supports three very frustrated and bored players.

Anomalies are also not supportable in large-local-count systems: imagine that CCP spawned forty Forsaken Hubs instead of four in a system, and thirty-eight people used them. Can you picture the frustration and pain of hunting for the two free ones amidst thirty-eight occupied ones each time you finish an anom? Add to this the hideous, brain-assaulting tedium of repeatedly running the same anomaly: they compete with belt ratting for the title of “worst MMO PvE experience since Everquest 1 spawn-camping”.

Exploration would suffer the same problem as anomalies: endlessly probing down sites to find them in the course of being run would be a fixture of high-percentage occupation.

What you need is a source of PvE income which scales perfectly with player numbers, which gives content on demand and which offers at least a modicum of variety and even challenge. That source is agent missioning.

You log in, you want to make some money, you request a mission, and you immediately have a piece of content scaled to your abilities and taste for risk, from levels one to five. You can achieve a better income for nullsec (and for better truesec within nullsec) simply by using the existing scaling of rewards by truesec that the mission system supports.

Most importantly, there is now no need to support swathes of space into which your line members expand to make money. Half a dozen stations would support the needs of the largest alliance. Why waste time on the tedium of fuelling and defending infrastructure across five hundred systems, as we do at present? Those logistics guys can concentrate on the offensive, war-making side that gets them glory and gratitude from their alliance-mates.

The Benefits

Let the alliance and corporation that own the station each set their own tax on agent rewards and you have a model for supporting Providence’s NRDS model, as well as a player-activity-related means of supporting alliances.

There are advantages for PvPers and for cautious PvEers in this approach. Missions often require you to go through gates. Those gates can be camped. If the local alliance don’t turn up to clear you off then you will get to kill a steady trickle of pimped-out mission ships. If they do form a fleet to fight you off then congratulations on achieving the mythical home defence fleets! The PvPers on both sides will be delighted!

Long local lists means dead mission runners, and more sheep support more wolves. At the same time, the mission-runner in a site can check for probes on scan and safe up when he sees them, as in wormholes. And, as in wormholes, some will not bother, and will die, dropping the usual mission-running array of blue and purple mods.

Agent missions in player-owned stations mean dense populations, which means that everyone is nearby when you, a budding FC, broadcast for a fleet, for home defence or for a roam. Instead of “ugh that’s two regions away” you say “I’m two jumps out: I’ll be right there.”

If everyone is packed into a tiny footprint of a constellation or two, there is no need for jump bridges. Those are all about traversing your vast empire. Screw jump bridges. That said, logistics should be made easier, not harder. You don’t want to have to blue up every alliance holding a midpoint between you and empire, so make jump freighters capable of fitting a covert cloak and of using a blops bridge. Jump freighters don’t die right now when used right, so no great loss there.

Finally, and controversially, if you want people to live in a smaller space you need to nerf afk cloaking. You cannot have one guy, who logged in at downtime and won’t be back until 24 hours later, to be able to shut down a whole system. Someone cloaked and watching his screen while hunting hostiles or delivering RoyOfCA-style propaganda should be fine, but not the person who is as afk as any botter. A system like a slow-running pos mod (one kinda exists!) or triangulated results from three probers should be able to find a cloaker, while he should get an instant visual warning that he has been located, giving him time to warp off. If he is watching his screen (no audible warning for the guy watching TV!) That equalises the effort between mission-runner and cloaker.

Speaking as a leader of a huge alliance I can tell you we would jump at the chance to go our own way from allies – even if we are friendly with many of them – and shrink both our alliance and our space holdings dramatically, given sources of income that would support it. Then you would get to come out and hold some of that space to yourself! Of course, we’ll be seeing you for a fight, since you’re only ten jumps away…

  • Case

    Theta in 5ZXX being a prime example? A whole shitload of nerds, rampaging, making money, and contained within a constellation.

    Regarding cloaks I always felt they should require LO, or topes, and a hold large enough to last a few hours.

  • Endie

    I think that a solution that doesn’t let someone set an alarm and turn up to perform an action that keeps them safe is a good idea. Being in a hostile system should require broadly the same attention to the screen for hostile as for resident.

  • Jack Haydn

    Whether it’s missions or anomalies is largely irrelevant, as long as the population density is increased (theoretically unlimitedly). It can be achieved with anomalies just as fine (see below for an example) and CCP should just go with what’s cheaper to implement. I don’t know if you ever ran missions, but they’re just as boring and repetitive as anomalies, just in 5 shades.

    Nice concepts though, I like it. Personally, I’d prefer the granularity of groups to be a big rougher, about 4 constellations to half a region, but that’s just details. Looking forward to see how receptive CCP will be!

    High population anomalies:
    After downtime, seed all systems with a range (5-10?) of each anomaly tier.
    As soon as someone warps into an anomaly, mark it as active.
    The anomaly scanner has an “active” column, which also can be filtered for/against.
    For each anomaly that gets activated, spawn a new one of the same type.
    Despawn activated anoms after x (1 hour?) time, if uncompleted.


  • Spacecataz

    I believe your first link goes to the incorrect blog post. Good read though.

  • mad rays man

    As someone who runs missions in nullsec, i support the idea of bringing missions to sov. Though honestly, missions in their current form can get boring. I’d love to see proper group PVE being forced into these missions, maybe not completely but enough that to make the make the most isk per hour you need more people to do it. Instead of a flat shared cut like current missions, do it the way incursions work, everyone gets the same cut. The missions should be interesting and isntead of DPS checks have some interesting mechanics to complete it.

  • kidkoma

    First, allow me to say, I retardedly support your vision as stated.

    However, as long as its safer in big groups, and these big groups can hit multiple targets at different ends of the map within minutes, then nothing will change. if ccp were to magic all caps/supers out of the game. Then yes, this is possible.

  • Zaand

    While I really really really like the idea of a much denser population in nul-sec, as a member of miniluv I must whole-heatedly disagree with the notion that Jump freighters don’t die right now. Yes there’s that pesky modifier “when used right”, but even under ideal circumstances for the JF, I will tell you they die often enough with enough motivation. The thought of them being able to cloak up is completely antithesis to the rest of the points in your articles. If you want to drive conflict then make these things easier to kill. The Derptastic Alliance wants to move 40bil worth of hookers and mindflood from a trade hub to their home 20 systems into nulsec? Then they should form a protective force to escort it, not get a free pass.

  • Fieldgrey

    Wonderfully brilliant, Endie, as always. The missioning idea would make it more centric, and inspire battles that aren’t just about AFK cloakers. I hope CCP will see this. Well done Endie

  • Rusty Boon

    I agree with the Missioning in Sov Null. Although the premise that you proposed the last article as well as partly in this one about making Sov harder to take is in no way better for new blood to getting their feet in the Sov game. I do see that it gives a reason for the Coalitions to break up. If the blocks break up under this idea you have, The map wont change drastically. Current alliances that are apart of the Mega Coalitions will just move into the recesses of the empty spots instead of hubbing together. I believe that would only make it worse for anyone new to come in. All in all though I love your thoughts :)

  • Christopher Coan

    I like the idea…Have it so that part of the reward for complete certain missions gives influence to a said system, and much smaller to the region of systems. make it so that small entities don’t have to do much at all to get the sov upgrades that would fit them and maintain them, maybe 20 missions a day for the max benefit that a small corp could utilize well. For larger, massive organizations, if they want things like cyno jammer or very nice, the best upgrades, much, much more missions need to be done. these could be brand new missions, and a new category of them could be added. Another idea: A minimum of 5 missions a day must be done in a system, if that limit isnt reached, sov is dropped. However, stations in these systems would remain under previous control and still have the 3 RF timers to take (this way, people dont lose all their shit forever at the smallest whim), however, when a station is reinforced in a system not held, NO eve mail messages will be sent to them regarding the RF timer or any damage taken.

  • Christopher Coan

    sov upgrades would then be based out of an influence bar like FW and Incursions, yet the stations still remain the old way. just an idea…Taking sov is another question, it could still remain the same as it is now. with just the difference in that if a system doesnt have 5 missions performed by the owner in a 24 hour period, the system just drops.

  • Diskutant

    And again, I shamelessly copy and paste my idea, to reach even newest audience!

    Here is a mechanic that would do what you want: the Tug of War.

    Have you ever played tug of war?

    You probably have. Two teams pull on the opposing ends of a rope, each trying
    to pull it over to their side. The stronger team eventually wins, carries the
    day and wins the prize.

    How could the tug of war work for Sov in Eve, how could sovereignty in any given
    system be granted to the team that pulls strongest on the “rope of sovereignty” ? Like this:

    The team (the alliance) that for the recent time had the most armed and
    piloted (undocked, un-POSed, uncloaked) ships in the system is the one “pulling
    stronger”. A point counter is used to determine that: For every alliance or friendly ship in the system,
    dependent on size and tech, points per time increment (recorded e.g. every five
    minutes) are awarded to the leading / sov holding alliance’s sovereignty claim.

    Hostile ships, on the other hand, take points away. Ships from an alliance that
    has the holder blued are treated as friendly, having the holder set to neutral
    does not interfere with holder’s sov, and set to hostile does.

    An alliance that has won the tug of war and has accumulated a certain amount of
    points is offered sovereignty, and can click-accept. (It must accumulate some
    substantial amount to avoid sov being transferred back and forth every
    five minutes over a single point being given and taken.) Once the sov-holding
    alliance’s counter should drop to zero points again, it loses sov.

    Points are still accumulated when you have sov, to make important/much used
    systems much stronger. An alliance with capitals and supercapitals will be able
    to pull the rope very far onto their side (read: make important systems
    super-strong), so that these could only be conquered with a persistent similar
    capital and supercapital presence.

    Which can be attacked in the process, of course.
    Points decay over time (1%/downtime?), so unused/unpatrolled systems are more
    easily conquerable, and years of holding sov will not make a system
    unconquerable for years to come.

    A system with recently flipped sov will not be very strong yet. So an alliance
    can take it back in their prime time with relative ease, if they are able to
    commit the power needed. Therefore, timers or “grace periods” are not
    necessary, though they may be an option to allow for evacuation or marshalling
    up a defense. Be it this way or that: if the former owners cannot retake the
    lead on the point counter, then they do not deserve that system anyway. Also,
    strong or „super-strong“ systems cannot be taken away in a few hours without
    notice, after the sov holder had weeks to increase his sovereignty claim to
    serious heights.

    This mechanic would still reward having the social skills to organize large
    forces and being able to gather overwhelming numbers.
    On the other hand, even a large coalition cannot be everywhere. And since the
    sov holders’ points decay, simply having 51% of the numbers of the

    nulsec-dwellers will not suffice to “win EVE”. Thus, having a huge
    bloc will still be rewarded with (much) larger and nicer portions of space.
    Having a huge bloc is however probably not
    necessary to claim a worthless backwater system and enter into the sovereignty
    game. Since the huge blocs are not likely to be willing to commit their pilots’
    precious time to defending worthless system week after week, one would probably
    “only” need persistence and moderate numbers to pass the threshold and enter into the sov game.

    I think this mechanic would open more possibilities than the status quo, which
    is incentivized to lead to great powerblocs as you described. Or which go on
    boundless conquest [link to
    Going on boundless conquest would be punished because you cannot, at the same
    time, keep up your sovereignty claim as effectively in the worthwhile systems
    and in your home region. And thus, smaller coalitions can get their foot in via
    the backwater systems without having to be part of a bloc that is as large as
    possible, simply because there will be opportunities to claim sov without being
    so large.

    As it is, sov mechanics need huge blobs. Even the most worthless system needs a
    valuable TCU, which needs lots of firepower to demolish. The ships that have
    this firepower attract the large blobs like honey attracts flies – and to top
    it off, the honey pot will be there at a time which is precisely known well in
    advance. So, in effect, the larger group can always hold the field if it so
    chooses. And a smaller group will be foolish to send in their fleet which will

    surely be annihilated if the defenders do not want to lose their system. And
    which alliance would willingly lose a system when it can help it? This is what
    inevitably leads to the rise of the few large blocs.
    If a smaller group can send their fleet and pull on the rope and live, this
    inevitability is removed.

    And the larger groups can still keep the systems they really like, because they
    are larger. They can pull harder on the other end of the rope wherever they
    like, if they deem their time and the system worth it.

    Additionally, the tug of war mechanic will diminish one of the major drawbacks
    of the current workings: having to be in a certain system at a very specific
    point of time with as many pilots as possible. This is creating the dreaded
    “soul-crushing lag and TiDi”. Not anymore, at least not necessarily:
    the sov-points are gathered and deducted over the course of days and maybe weeks. And if a system
    is contested and the attacker sends in large numbers and powerful ships, the
    defender can choose to go into that system – or use the opportunity to send
    forces into the attacker’s systems, taking advantage of his absence there. Or
    split forces. Or make a feign attack on the attacker’s home region, and while he recalls some of the
    assault forces to defend, turn around and kick the remaining attack fleet from
    the besieged system, Or … or … or…! The same is true for the attacker:
    instead of going for a single system, he can opt to spread his forces to attack
    several systems at once, possibly in very different locations, making the
    defender have to choose and react this way or that. Which in turn affects the
    way how the attacker continues with his plans. So location of pilots can be
    much more spread out. And spread out means smoother gameplay.

    The whole system of nulsec warfare would become much more reliant on strategic
    decisions – where to have your forces at any given time – and it would give a
    lot more choices how and where to attack, and how and where to defend. Instead
    of having to pile everything into a single system. It would become much more
    lively, dynamic, and interesting. And all with much less tidi and lag!

    In conclusion, here are some details that also came along while thinking about
    the idea: 1.) Sov holder always gets updates about changes, and can set automated
    notifications when certain absolute and/or relative changes occur. 2.) I am not
    sure if an attacker should be able to see the status of the sov holder’s claim
    and how much more effort is needed to cancel the current sov. 3.) Station
    mechanics should stay as they are: difficult to conquer when belonging to sov
    holder, easy(ier) when not. 4.) Other sov infrastructure gets transferred to
    sov holder automatically, and gives bonuses to sov holder’s points, but can be
    destroyed by an attacker to make conquest easier. So an attacker can make a
    strategic decision to blow that stuff up to take sov quicker, but having to
    replace it, or to inherit it after putting more effort into the conquest. 5.)
    Sov blockade units give bonuses to point deduction from holding alliance. 6.)
    Sov can still be transferred. The transferee gains the sov points from the
    transferring alliance, and since both are probably blue to each other, the sov
    count developes the same as if the former alliance still held sov. Renters are
    still welcome, and joint conquest and subsequent division of spoils is still
    possible. 7.) Point counter values might spill over to neighbouring systems, so
    that a strong system could influence neighbouring systems’ counter positively
    towards the regional hegemon.

    I am certain there are important points I have missed. I am looking forward to
    reading any sub-comments.

  • Pingback: Some Good Fights and the Rebirth of Null | EVE Plex in 21 Days()

  • Endie

    Yep, I’ll cover the interaction between activity in a system and sovereignty next.

  • Midge Mo’yb

    let the factions agents be distributed by the same methods as teams, plenty enough to go around but a few “special” agents that give better rewards/higher payout for people to compete for.

    i want this so bad!

  • Peter Sibiro

    First of all, I’d like to say that I really like the ideas you posted here.

    Additionally, I’d like to add my 5 cents on the “sov activity” mechanics. Instead of virtual LP or any kind of “activity metric”, it can be based on the actual in-game items. To put it simple, when you perform some activity in the system, this activity naturally provides you with some kind of “sov holding tokens”. Those can be obtained by different PvE activities:
    * NPC rats can drop such token items (like dogtags) in anomalies, missions, belt-rats;
    * Hacking sites can drop those “tokens” too;
    * Not sure about industry activities and moons, there might be a separate BPC for those, so that the holder of space can boost their token generation when needed;

    Of course, each token should be marked with the system where it can be used. One can haul it back and forth, but you can’t farm tokens in your home system and use them on the other side of the New Eden. So, when NPC is killed, it drops the “sov token” of that particular system. There might be some uncommon “gold” version of such token which can be used throughout the constellation ().

    Also, it’s actually relatively easy to make up more or less logical lore behind those tokens. Something like “TCU Access Codes” might work well. And that local rats generates those in their attempt to “hack TCU” (lore, not really affecting actual mechanics).

    So, players obtain those tokens and “fuel” their TCU with those to hold sov. Other entities might use their tokens to “hack” TCU and lower the level to the point when it becomes vulnerable. When this happens, some timers kick in and switch the struggle into “hot phase”. To make it even more complex for the attacker, it might require some specific actions for that side to actually switch sov. Something even as silly as hacking mini-game. And/or holding the ground in deadspace pockets. With final TCU timer fight that the defenders might want to take right there.

    The introduction of such tokens will assure that SOV holding is not a simple PvE activity. When we talk about in-game items, all kinds of PvP activities might be utilized. Kill mission-runners, steal the loot, gank them at TCU to prevent from “fueling” it with SOV tokens. Haul “op-critical” mass of your own “constellation-wide tokens” into enemy territory to turn the table. A lot of possibilities for tactics.

    As the final note, there should be the mechanism to make sure that those tokens cannot be stored in limitless amounts, since with this approach, it’s only defender who has to spent his tokens to keep the sov. Therefore, without “token-drain” for attacker, it is relatively easy to stockpile as much of those as needed. The tough decision is to nullify all unused tokens (a.k.a. “access codes”) at DT. The logic behind this is pretty simple – TCU updates its codes every DT. So, you either spend your tokens in TCU or loose them. With this approach “token BPC’s” become strategic resource – you can convert them into access codes when it is most needed, trade those to neighbors (since they are locked to the system only at manufacturing stage) etc.

  • Midge Mo’yb

    I think one of the major factors that cause people to make big coalitions is that the only thing that matters is winning an artificial timer fight/objective.

    this pretty much lays it down on bring numbers and bring the heavy guns, with an occupancy system it will mean active alliances/players won’t need to do this. sure friends and allies will crop up, but enabling smaller holdings to support your alliance will enable alliances to shrink and defend what matters instead of take everything and have plenty of buffer/ratting space

  • Irumani

    Make Nullsec Missions use the same kind of AI Incursions do = you’ve got pvp-like fits and fleet composition (logistics/dps at least).

    Have level one missions solo-able by a properly fit t2 cruiser or requiring a few (5-10) t1 frigates to make sure autistic players are able to go their merry solo way, but encourage rookies to team up. Make level 2 to 5 scale up accordingly.

    Make sure everyone gets their share of the pay upon completion (anyone shooting rats or boosting someone who shot rats gets the same pay) à la Incursions, and allow corporations to tax that income.

    Make sure you’ve got more than 10 different missions, not by adding shitty triggers or the silly drop-mineral-in-a-can type. Every mission at a single level should be equal in terms of difficulty, complexity and reward.

    All of that should provide a not-so-boring PvE experience anyone can enjoy and it would scale pretty well.

  • Endie

    Well spotted, thanks! The proof-reading is appreciated!

  • Peter Sibiro

    The key component of the large blocs these days is that they can apply their combined force at any given point on the map with very little delay. If there are hard in-game limitations to move your troops around the map within 30 minutes, the big blocs will extinct naturally. I.e. any kind of “teleporting” (pos/titan) might have a nice long cooldown timer. Or, more interestingly, second jump during cooldown might apply direct damage to the ship. I.e. you can still use “get in and bail out” tactics, but after “bail out” one will have to rep hull/armor/mods etc. No more jump-jump-jump across the map.

    Pod-express can also be addressed in a way similar to jump clones. You can move your med clone, but only once per 24 hours or so. Tough decisions. Would you move yourself to the other part of New Eden to defend some meaningless part of space if you can’t get back almost instantly if someone attacks one of your core systems? All those jump/defence timers can be adjusted in the way that they do mix up. And one will have to decide what to defend. Or spread their numbers across the map.

  • NaterNater

    Missioning should have meaningful decisions about what class and ship to use. Currently a T1 cruiser can earn MAYBE 20 mil/h and a ‘blinged’ ship can earn 150+ mil/h. Why not close this gap? Imagine changing the objectives of the missions so that Level 3’s or 4’s could be done in a T1 cruiser hull (or battlecruisers?) with a PVP fit and earn somewhere in the neighborhood of 80-120 mil/h. Carefully engineer the demands of the mission mechanics so that using non-pvp fits or vastly more expensive hulls only offer a very marginal increase in isk/h efficiency. Some benefits:

    A.) Ratters/Missioners can now fly in PVP fit ships they can afford to lose, increasing the probability they fight instead of dock.

    B.) Hunters could look for actual fights with PVP ships and not just try to ‘gank shinies’ and run from real fights. Currently, the fact that significant numbers of hunters are after shiny ganks and will run from any fight they might lose is a major disincentive for ratters who might otherwise want to reship and fight them.

    C.) AFK campers can be ignored, if they only hot-drop you once per day it barely impacts isk/h efficiency.

    D.) Players would need to make meaningful decisions about what Level Mission to use and what type of ship to use. These decisions are sensitive to intel about local pvp conditions. Currently the decisions are simple, either your system is safe to undock your blinged ship or don’t bother undocking, nothing else is worthwhile.

    However, more thought needs to be applied to understand how mining could fit coherently into this vision.