Monday, October 12, 2015

What I Want from High Sec

It's been an interesting week; I've been meaning to assemble this post but haven't taken the time to really organize my thoughts.

Sugar kicked over an anthill in this post.  The comments started to balloon, and while I expected everyone to trot out the very tired risk/reward hate, on the whole the conversation was pretty constructive.  I chatted with her in game a bit and got out some semi-coherent thoughts.  But the question is still gnawing at me, so I'll take a stab at answering it here.
Sugar asks:  "What about high sec? When will CCP pay attention to high sec and those that cannot spend their time in dangerous space?  This is somewhat how the day started, sparked by a question from an anonymous poster."

My first, kneejerk reaction before I even read her post was to mentally shake my first at the sky and say "What do I want for High?krikey, stop treating high sec differently than other space!"

From ancient times called 2003 and forward, Players (and to a lesser extent CCP) have reinforced the attitude that highsec is for nubs, and the "real" endgame is in 0.0 (the "0.0" being the term many of us used in beta and after).  This is the notion that players (and corporations) should use high only as a holding pen until players are "ready" for the "harder" areas of the game.

As time went on, we (CCP and the playerbase both) differentiated further and created the terms high/low/null/nullsov/wh to describe the 5 basic areas of the game.  Certain parts of the game gained favor in terms of development time and game infrastructure, often at the cost of other areas of the game.  Carrots were added to lure people out of high, but yet the center of the star cluster remained populated.

These definitions/separations perhaps help us have constructive dialog, but they also serve as a mental barrier.  There's an invisible dotted line around the map segregating High from Low.  When you enter low for the first time, the game even has a clickthru warning that basically says: "Abandon all hope; here there be monsters."

Fast forward a decade, and today we have CSM candidates representing various blocks of the game's community, and forum personalities that gain influence by shredding players who prefer certain types of play.

Let's stop and think about all this for a second.  EVE is a fairly small niche game and I wonder if this divisiveness is entirely healthy.   Predicable, I guess, but probably not healthy.

CCP could, I think, set that aside and just generate good PVE content.  The vast majority of PVE is probably going to be done of course in High, but the kinds of things I'd advocate (scaling, dynamic, group and solo PVE) should be deployed across all zones.  High should not be some sort of playground set aside for PVE only activities, and I'd not advocate dev time into "high only" activities.  I wouldn't put more bricks in that Berlin Wall between 0.5 and 0.4 space.

So, what I want for the game (not just Highsec) is more Content.  Big 'C.'

With that rant out of the way, here's my wish list:

  • More synergy between contents. Right now if I go blitzing explore points, I have a cruiser for that.  If I run lvl4s, I have a Battleship for that.  What if I undocked, went 2 jumps away to Silence the Informant, and then was still in a reasonable fit to drop in on a couple of exploration spots on my way back?  With align and lock times of the big ships, this isn't something I even think about doing today.  With better content synergy, I could (in theory) react more to opportunities in my environment rather than just be a drone buzzing to the next mission pocket and ignoring everything around me.
  • More layers of content.  If the existing lvl4 content is that difficult to change, I'd advocate leaving it and expanding it both vertically and horizontally.  Horiztonal: keep the burners coming; bring on the lvl3 burners and battleship anomic agents.  Layer vertically into more difficult content, and Dynamic schtuff.
  • Dynamic Content.  By that I mean content that scales in difficulty based on the number and type of players present.
  • Dynamic Events.  By this I mean bad guys that spawn and go on a rampage allowing the local citizens to react.  Something much smaller scale than Incursions.  And in line with the Synergy comment above, the balance point should be fits that mission runners would realistically use, so that if I undock and see shenanigans afoot, I can just jump in.
  • Better support for Fleets in PVE content.  Scaling bounties, payout bonuses for using smaller ships or more Fleet members, etc.  Give me a reason to run missions as a group.  I saw comments in Sugar's thread like "well, they're PVE'ers so they're going to be scattered all over the map."  Why is that something we accept as being true?
  • Incidental Grouping.  I put this in the comments to Sugar's original post, but I'll repeat for completeness.  Right now in PVE content, people that wander into your pocket are seen as poachers or killstealers.  Loot and Bounties aren't split and aren't shared; in fact the idea of can flipping has its own art form.  Bottom line, when someone showes up near me, I have to assume that they are a competitor or griefer there to steal my resources (isk, whatever).  Barring any sort of pvp-type retaliation, I can escalate against them and try to out-blitz them or I can leave.  This is an early 2000's mentality.  Guild Wars 2 does a wonderful job of scaling content for difficulty and then providing payouts based on your own contribution.  When more people show up, they can certainly troll you or try to awox you, but most of the time folks just work together (surprising, I know) to get the job done.
  • Flavor by Region.  EVE is a vast star cluster with a disappointingly low amount of variability  in content from system to system.  More attention to locality and local lore in and around a particular region or constellation would be welcome.  So, for example, if CCP is designing dynamic events, I'd rather that there be several permutations and certain mini-bosses be locked into a specific area of the game.  I am not a lore nerd, but this kind of detail is important to building nostalgia.  Thinking of various events in WoW, GW2, D3, or other games, I know exactly where people are at when they talk about a certain fight; nostalgia can be a very powerful motivator to keeping going in a game.
There, I guess that wraps up the post after a few aborted attempts. Better late than never, I guess.

This time next week, I'll be starting to get things around for EVE Vegas.  


  1. Interesting and well thought out response to Sugar. I'm good with the lot :) Though I still think we should 'overall' have unlocked sec status everywhere and the ability to push a system into low sec space or raise it up to high sec status via PVE and PVP. in short, kill somebody with a lower sec status (PC or NPC) and your own sec status will rise. The inverse of course is also true... but I'd want that iplemented with the system sec status being flexible.

    [with the caveat taht newbie systems are immutable hisec]

    1. I also like the idea of dynamic security status and should have included it in my list. :)

      I also rambled semi-coherently at Sugar about the relative ickyness of Distribution missions. When people talk about PVE, they generally think "shoot stuff" but there are other mission types that get even less attention. If we're talking about "mission overhaul" as a topic, gotta remember the other flavors as well.


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