The latest CSM minutes spurned a flood of comments regarding null sec warfare and I wrote a little of my views in an earlier post (Achilles Heel). Much of the current argument revolves around the use of Jump Bridges and Jump Bridge Networks and hence naturally the thorny subject of logistics.
Before we delve any deeper into the broad subject of logistics and how theyre manifested on the battlefield I need to introduce a topic some may not be familiar with – Battlespace Management.
The ‘battlespace’ in very simple terms is akin to the battlefield but comprises not just the area in which combat is taking place but the entire environment around it. For example communication, through the electromagnetic spectrum, is part of ‘Battlespace Management’. There’s no point having your elite units trying to communicate if you’ve allocated everyone to the same radio frequency and therefore no one can get a word in edgeways. Equally you may need to secure a road or route for your convoy of supplies, which needs to arrive at the right place and crucially at the right time.
Jump Bridge Networks in EVE are a physical representation of this Battlespace. They ‘re define’ the normal system to system network of travel, reducing travel times but also having the effect of shrinking the battlefield. This has important ramifications so forgive me if I give a ‘real world’ example for a moment; German U Boat operations in WWII were very effective because they hampered the resupply of Western Europe across the Atlantic. Now consider if that resupply could have been achieved without the risk and time delay of crossing that vast stretch of water. With an ability to circumvent a area of the battlespace it becomes irrelevant and, in this case, an entire operational theatre would have ceased to exist.
In a sense what is lost is a smaller conflict within a larger one.
Jump Bridges and ‘hot dropping’ capitals have a similar effect. The problem in game design terms is that logistics is well…a bit dull. Now I’m sure there are players who don’t mind a spot of hauling, some may even make a profession out of it but it’s unlikely to be amongst the top ten ‘things to do’ for your typical null sec player whose interest is predominantly in PVP.
JB networks then are therefore a sop to instant gratification: a short cut to the good stuff of pew pew. This is ideal for the individual but poses problems on a larger scale. Recently in Empire (an easily transited area due to the lack of gate camps and warp bubbles) a Sansha event resulted in 1400 players rushing, en mass, into Yulai with predictable results. As the server laboured and players felt the crushing force of lag the self same behaviour as we see in null sec was replicated in high sec. Distance, physically speaking, being no issue and the singular point of interest being in a single system resulted in over population.
In some respects Jump Bridge networks remove the need for player collaboration – they provide an instantaneous solution to the problem of ‘moving stuff’. Rather than require players to work together to escort logistic ships and of course each other. But they do remove a considerable burden from alliance players in terms of maintaining infrastructure over a wide area. JB’s don’t discourage, or encourage, blobs they simply expedite their movement. This may or may not be a bad thing – if you’re time is limited and you want to get into the fight quickly JB networks are a good thing. If you want to interdict those fleets as they form they are a bad thing.
What long range jumps (cynos or jump bridges) do effect however is the ability for forces to co-operate over very large areas. Your allies may be 60 regular jumps away, but they’re only 4 jumps ‘across’ space. To what extent this fosters coalitions of Alliances is hard to judge but it seems unlikely that it hampers their development.
If, as some have suggested, JB are removed then CCP should consider how logistics, as an exercise, might be made more interesting to those actually doing the heavy lifting and carrying. Some have questioned whether making logistics more difficult between the save havens of Empire and Null sec will encourage more localised industry in null sec. It seems rather too optimistic that this would indeed occur as currently the flow of resources from and too null (sec moon goo > Empire / Empire manufacture > null sec) is entrenched.
One area which is as yet unexplored is the use of Planets as industrial bases within null sec. If we consider that PI could offer better and more convenient resource production of items that would otherwise be moved from High Sec then two problems may be solved by one single solution: DUST 514 raids would have a purpose (hitting industrial & manufacturing bases) whilst reducing the need to move vast quantities of ‘stuff’ around null sec.
Clearly if only Sov ownership enabled PI production of this type (as opposed to being accessible in High Sec) then again Sov would have a purpose in and of itself.
Managing the logistic battlespace is by no means an easy task but CCP must tread with caution before they remove all and every crutch to it. Equally doing so in isolation from other factors like the pervasive local channel would be largely meaningless in terms of fostering more dynamic and exciting game play. EVE is after all supposed to be a fun activity: not
iceroad interstella truckers ….