Every time when an EVE site lacks a recent titan gank or a 100+ battle, yet another opinion piece comes forward about the boring nullsec. Or blue doughnut. Or how hard it is for a new alliance. Or risk aversion. Or how the small gang PvP is dying. Or some other version.
The assumed reasons are numerous, but of course none of them even mentions the core of everything: economy. The reason of the boring nullsec is economic, namely: bots. No, not in a political way, there is no secret botter conspiration where Goons and PL guys are meeting in dark corners to share botting money. The way is as mundane and primitive as it can be: bots make nullsec non-productive for players.
The original EVE philosophy is that the bigger risk you take, the bigger reward you get. Bringing an AFK retriever out for Kernite is much easier than conquering a region, building logistical chain and then mine while watching intel channels for incoming interceptors who can tackle you before you warp out. Yet the truth is this:
Why? Because of the large number of mining bots. Of course there are also anom ratting bots and NPC null missioning bots. These bots are flooding the market with the items that supposed to be rare jewels available only to the bravest and strongest. Their flooding reached the point when a player can earn more money in highsec than in nullsec, completely turning the design upside down.
How does it make nullsec boring? Because it takes away the reason to go there. There is no "leave the safe but impoverished highsec" drive. There is no "nice region, let's take it" either. Nullsec regions are just bragging rights, sources of pride without real value. This limits nullsec (and somewhat less lowsec and WH) playerbase to the competitive ones and the "let's have fun with explosions" crowd. Instead of endgame, nullsec became niche game. My own example: I fight Goons without wanting anything they have. If they collapse, I won't go to live in Deklein.
How can it be fixed: by removing botting. If bots no longer flood nullsec resources, they become rare, letting brave adventurers get rich. But it's easier to say than done. Catching botters isn't easy. However the extreme amount of botting in nullsec is caused by the following game design problems:
PvE is repetitive, trivial and usually not fun. This makes botting easy and preferred. There is no frigate PvP-ing bot that you can leave running to farm you some kills. Making PvE (especially mining) more engaging and less repetitive would make bot-making much harder and less people would say "I rather stop playing than PvE myself"
Avoiding PvP is trivial but mind-bogging: watch local, warp if anyone arrives. In WH space: spam scan for new signatures. This again prefers bots. A bot is better in this task than humans. The PvP-avoiding methods must be automated (like a switch next to the autopilot: warp if neuts in local) or removed (no local, nothing to watch). Same for new sigs and dscan: make spamming and watching unneeded or impossible.
Avoiding PvP is necessary for survival. If you are in a PvE ship, you are dead if anyone lands on your grid. So you must watch local. There is a consensus that removing local from nullsec would decrease null PvE to 1/10th or such. I'm not sure if it would be bad, but CCP wouldn't dare to try it out. The solution is changing ships, deployables and mechanics to give a chance to a PvE player to defend himself.
Hunting is zero risk activity. It's not unrelated from the previous problem: if you go to kill ratters, the worst thing that can happen to you is losing a few M ship. The best thing is solo killing a near-billion faction battleship. Those who are out to kill billion ISK faction battleships and capitals should risk more than a ship that is handed out by the newbie missions for free. If the hunters would have non-zero ISK value, the locals would form defensive gangs to kill them. Then fighting back (instead of running which is best done by bot) would be the preferred method for nullsec PvE pilots.
Anyway, until botting is the preferred method of making ISK in nullsec, players won't try to break in, so stagnation will remain.
A few weeks ago I wrote a post named Morlocks and Eloi: the dark secret of RvB. I've found that Red versus Blue could be distributed into three groups that did equal PvP damage. The first group has 0.7% of the pilots in it, the second group has 3.3% and the remaining 96.0% also done 1/3 damage.
I attributed that to RvB being a scam that is designed this way, to feed "elite PvP-ers" with kills while they do their duty. I received the kill and loss data of Brave Collective for the last 6 months (2013 Oct - 2014 March) to show how a really newbie friendly alliance performs. Well, they don't do much better. The top group has 1.1% of the pilots, the second group has 3.6% and the remaining 95.3% also done 1/3 damage.
Oops. Almost identical numbers. So I turned to the last data I had, GSF 2013 kills and losses. The results are practically identical: The top group is 1.0% of the pilots, the second group has 4.2% and the remaining 94.8% also done 1/3 damage.
I've found back then that the top group has good ISK ratio, the middle group loses as much as kills and the bottom group is slaughtered. There isn't much difference here either if you look at the charts of RvB, BNI and GSF:
What does this mean? Two things: the first is that "elite PvP" is alive and well even in the alliances that claim to be the most newbie friendly and consider "elite PvP" a curseword. Secondly, it proves that PvP-ing is mostly irrelevant in the Sov scene. I mean it's obvious that the 87 pilots that form the "top 1/3" group of GSF, couldn't fight sov battles. Most sov battles have relatively low kills or no kills at all, because the enemy runs away. Sov warfare is rather PvE than PvP, fleet attendance and not PvP performance matters. Carebears are better for a Nullsec empire than PvP-ers.
What is the "dark secret of EVE Online"? That 95% of those who participate in PvP are slaughtered like sheep and even the most "newbie friendly" and "community based" alliances can't help them at all. Those who don't have the dedication and skill to get into at least the top 2-5% of the players are better off avoiding PvP completely and focus on making money, and flying "click broadcast, press F1" fleets. There is no such thing as "average PvP-er", just a 1% elite, a few % elite aspirants and 95% sheep.
Of course I'm not saying that PvP-ing is worthless. Hundreds of billions of ISK can be destroyed and even more stopped from being earned by hunting farmers and haulers. But this is a job available only to the top 1% elite.
Below you can see the elite PvP-ers of Brave Collective: Santo Trafficante,
Black Bart Pirate,
Le Petite More,
a DAMN PATRIOT,
Colonel O'neil Tauri,
And the most ironic list: the elite PvP-ers of Goonswarm Federation:
Mittani Alexander Gianturco,
Alexander Mittani Gianturco,
Sipphakta en Gravonere,
Gluttony the Voracious,
Gilles de Rais,
Lust the Lascivious,
Wrath the Furious,
Sloth the Indolent,
Jeanne D' Arc,
Hassan- i Sabbah.
Update: Michael LeBlanc in a comment had a good idea, to display the pilots in an exponential scale. So I made the BNI chart. Please note that the X axis is not misaligned, there are 7600 pilots who got on killmails, but 3000 of them had no kills just losses, and ln(0) = -infinite:
I was badly ill in Sunday-Tuesday. You can guess how badly from the fact that for the first time since 2007 there was no blogpost on a workday (yesterday, the Monday post was pre-written). I'm still ill of course but now I'm capable of both playing EVE and blogging. Why is it interesting? Because this unscheduled 2 days stop in trading cost me twice as much as losing my wormhole, serving as a good lesson on opportunity cost.
Dumb people believe that their property is in their hangar and losing it demands a previously existing item to be destroyed. Accordingly, the appearance of a new item in their hangar is gain. Smart - therefore rich - people know that most of their assets are their abilities. I was stopped from using my ISK making abilities by being unable to be away from my bed for longer than a few minutes. If I could play, I could run my usual trading routine, earning ISK. So far, it's clear to all.
However you can avoid using your abilities by using them on something less than optimal. For example if I'd go mining in my trading time, using all my accounts (assuming proper pilot skills), I could earn about 0.4-0.5B, instead of 3.5 what was expected from a Sunday and a Monday. That's losing 3B in opportunity cost, while a moron would claim 0.5B free ISK. I hope the interpretation "opportunity cost = cost of underutilizing your abilities" is more clear than the exact definition.
Despite I had the complete 2013 Goon kill and loss database, I did not look up the last Burn Jita. Better late than never.
First I de-whored the kills (if X got 0.1% damage on a 100B titan, he got credited with 100M damage and not 100B) and plotted the highsec kills of GSF for the months of 2013, to see how much Burn Jita shines out of the average GSF highsec activity:
Something shines out, but that's not Burn Jita. Burn Jita was in April, not March. April was a pretty ordinary month kill-wise for GSF, barely above average. On the loss front, it was pretty significant, providing 37% of the total 2013 highsec GSF loss. Let's see the daily damage and loss distribution (lines are 3-day moving averages):
Oops: while Burn Jita is indeed the highest kill spike, it's not dwarfing everything (like the loss spike). In that 3 days (April 19-21, Fri-Sun) GSF killed 240B ISK, which is indeed high, but provides only 7% of the total 2013 GSF highsec kills. The 146B lost provided 21% of the 2013 GSF highsec losses. In other words, GSF had 62% ISK ratio during Burn Jita, while outside of it, they had 86% in highsec. Some gankers! They are barely better off than their victims, despite they caught some horribly overfilled freighters. This is what I meant by griefing them with troll freighters.
Some more statistics:
189B kills, 120B losses happened in Jita, 26-15 in Perimiter, 6-4 in Sobaseki, 6-1 in Ikuchi, 5-4 in New Caldari and 8-2 everywhere else in highsec.
GSF did 51% of the damage of the 469B kills they got on, their biggest co-killers were: Fatal Ascension 44B, Tactical Narcotics Team 37B, SpaceMonkey's Alliance 27B, Gentlemen's Agreement 25B,
Test Alliance Please Ignore 24B, Get Off My Lawn 12B, Li3 Federation 11B. Of course there were Burn Jita kills with no GSF on it.
681 GSF pilots got on highsec kills during Burn Jita. Half of the damage was done by the top 88 pilots. The combined result of the bottom 100 pilots were 0.118B kills, 9.05B losses. The best pilots were: Dimmak Long,
Shepard Wong Ogeko,
Major Lee Awsome,
Top GSF corps: GoonWaffe: 80B kills and 51B losses, NED-Clan 22-16,
Wildly Inappropriate 16-10,
Bat Country 15-6,
Eternity INC, 12-5,
Raging Ducks 9-7,
Merch Industrial 9-4,
So Burn Jita isn't an extraordinary event in terms of ISK destroyed, nor a massacre where Goons inflict huge damage with little losses. I would guess that the real purpose is to hide their highsec presence. Their killboard has lot of highsec kills, but everyone gladly accepted their narrative: we don't go to highsec, except in Burn Jita when we kill trillions. Lies! 93% of their highsec kills in 2013 had nothing to do with Burn Jita!
For the anti-Burn Jita people, this is hilarious! Goons advertise it as a massacre of highsec pubbies by the unstoppable Goons. For suicide gankers 90% ISK ratio is bad. 62% is just unspeakable. They suffered nearly as much as their "victims". I hate to break it down to them, but the point of suicide ganking is to destroy an expensive ship with cheap ones, not the other way!
Finally, shame on me for not checking it earlier, but shame on all of you too, for eating Goon propaganda for years. "Unstoppable menace from nullsec, destroying anything they want, especially your game". How could we believe it for a second when in reality, these terribads barely could break even against autopiloting freighters?!
Time to end this false propaganda! Come and join, slay these overhyped excuses of gankers before they bring more shame to the prestigious suicide ganker community!