The Tides of War
CCP Greyscale has revealed the next plan for Null Sec with his latest dev blog received, predictably enough, with a cascade of complaints on the forums. In essence Greyscale describes that by altering (and in some cases quite drastically) the comparative value of cosmic anomalies in null sec a greater degree of conflict will result. His reasoning goes (and there is some logic in this) that the current mechanism of equal anomaly values across null sec makes every system ‘equal’ and therefore there is no value in contesting control over any specific system. We can describe this as a ‘flat’ universe: one which where ever we look is uniform or nearly uniform everywhere.
However I believe that Greyscales proposal to modify the comparative value of systems based upon their ‘true sec’ rating is also another ‘flat’ universe and does little to address the underlying symptom – stagnant territorial control and a reduction in widespread warfare. Whilst it’s possible that we would see a ‘dash for the cash’ as the Null Sec Alliances raced to land grab the most valued systems and the attendant conflict that would result once the dust has settled EVE would fall back into stagnation.
Taking a broad overview we could see each system in EVE as being an ‘ISK faucet’ – rather like a fountain of oil bursting up from the earth waiting to be tapped by who ever gets there first. The most valued faucets will of course be fought over – but only initially. Once the established major Alliance powers are in place the ability to remove them will become increasingly difficult. The rich will indeed get richer and the poor poorer. The fundamental issue of course is that, unlike a natural resource like oil, these ISK faucet systems will never run dry. They will continue to pour ISK into the wallets of those who control them: much like the old 10/10 plexes did years ago and moon goo does today.
Static resources, especially eternal static resources naturally promote a set status quo or stagnant environment. In some cases this might be seen as a good thing – allowing stability to thrive and commerce to follow: at least for those fortunate enough to own said resources. However for EVE, a game which relies heavily upon change to fuel the furnace of conflict, this is a poor design decision. Easily implemented maybe, but no better for it. We would see a brief flurry of activity as the alliances dashed around null sec, and then they would settle and stagnation would return.
To my mind a more preferable mechanic would be to have the ISK faucets gradually run dry, or nearly dry: diminishing in value over time. A resource rich area one day becomes a resource poor area as time progresses. The inhabitants of that once wealthy ground must migrate or starve – and it would be these shifting populations that would generate the friction and pressure to instigate conflict. EVE already has the tools (at least in theory) to create such shifting sands. PI uses diminishing resources on the planetary scale (no doubt through fiendishly clever algorithms), Incursions spawn across constellations in a pseudo random manner and exploration offers the ability to Alliances to find new ‘ISK Faucets’, new reservoirs of wealth to tap and exploit for profit.
A side advantage of dynamic resources is that vacuums will open that could, at least theoretically, allow new entities and fledgling Alliances to move into Null Sec. These new entities might conceivably strike it lucky as resources begin to pool in previously resource poor areas. The speed at which the resources of EVE, be those anomaly spawns or moon goo, “shift” around EVE would of course need careful balance – and their depletion might only occur at sloth like speeds but they would eventually create migratory pressures on Alliances.
Coupling these concepts with those I outlined in my previous post regarding Sov ownership being described in “non absolute terms” (a percentage factor of influence) and I believe we start to come closer to a EVE universe that actually has the illusion of ‘life’ – shifting hues of influence, shifting sands of resources – that would make it a complex but infinitely fascinating environment.