On the New Dawn Quadrant

CCP released the From Extraction to Production Dev Blog last Friday.

I have spent a lot of time on the test server, listening to other industry/economy players, and trying to map out how players might min/max.

These are my thoughts from this brief look over the weekend.

Opportunity exists for more resources to hit the economy, but it creates negative effects
Increased time/effort of resource gathering runs counter to making resources less ‘scarce’
The basic ISK/hour metric for most players in resource gathering appears to be going down
Mix of good changes are included alongside the highly controversial ‘nerfs’
These changes will not make the average player feel a “new age of prosperity”

FWIW, I tend to view EVE Gameplay in terms of enjoyable time/effort. In other words, “am I having fun or find the playstyle I enjoy rewarding?” Does playing EVE hit those dopamine triggers that keep people coming back?

You might have your own metrics, but IMHO if EVE does not feel rewarding, it is failing to achieve it’s purpose.

It has been argued that CCP needs to make these changes to put in the ‘handles’ to be able to adjust the game economy as needed and these are necessary pains.

Here is an allegory to consider:

Many have heard the story of how to boil a frog. You put a frog in a pot and slowly increase the temperature until the water is boiling and the frog doesn’t notice the slow change.

CCP’s recent approach is to first boil a pot of water and then throw the frogs in.

When the frogs complain, CCP says “oh, is that too hot?” and wait a long time before turning down the temperature.

What we are seeing with anger and protest are frogs not wanting to be placed directly into boiling water again.

Let’s break down the large Dev Blog into several sections:

Resource Doubling

This is one of the main positive aspects of the changes. Increasing the amount of raw materials available is always welcome. Resources are not ‘dynamic’ yet, but this is a positive step toward allowing more wealth to find it’s way into the wallets of players.

However, the addition of Waste and Lossy Compression reduce the overall availability of resources significantly.

The changes are complicated and there are many conflicting changes that don’t make it simple to say how this is the “end of Scarcity.” For example, my friend Angry Mustache reminds me, the elimination of minerals from R4 moons, makes them basically not worth mining and continues to increase the logistics needed to move minerals like Pyerite from high sec to other places.

Reduced PI needs

One of the oft-voice frustrations with the New Industry changes regarded the use of Planetary Interaction (PI) materials. The inclusion of bulky P1 materials (water) was a particular point of pain.

The new plan reduces the dependence on PI materials, but it is difficult to predict whether this will bring the construction price of capital ships down significantly. With such a large, multi-variable change to all resource gathering, it’s not possible to make accurate calculations. It’s reasonable to expect the build price down somewhat, but to what degree is unknown. For example, the reduced P4 costs may be offset by increased Pyerite costs.

Industrial Subcapital Ship Holds

The addition of specialized hangars to allow easier hauling of resources (gas, ice, & moon ore) are welcome changes. Commonly used in short hauling runs where freighters are impractical, this change rounds out the industrial line and makes life just a little easier for players.

My beloved Primae now has an excited future ahead!

Kudos on getting this done.

Compression Changes

Lossy compression is not a bad idea in itself, but the complexity is a bit overwhelming.

I don’t mind complexity and do T2 & T3 industry for fun, but even I was a bit baffled on how it worked.

Over the weekend, I spent many hours on the Test Server, actually doing compression in-game.

Lots of mouse clicking

For Orca & Rorqual compression, the process itself is frustrating. Move from ore or fleet hangar into cargo bay, load module, wait for module to complete, move compressed product out, move more into cargo bay. Doing this for a while is a lot of monotony.

Besides the clicking, the time durations are painful. People are going from instant compression to this and waiting several minutes for each cycle. It’s repetitive ‘micro’ clicking and hangar moving, clearly based on the existing ammo loading mechanism, hampered by this limitation, as it feels like a jury rigged system to avoid writing to much additional code.

At scale, it becomes unrealistic to do the straightforward task of mining a moon and compressing it. Asteroid ore, gas, and ice will likely be done in Athanors to avoid the time and risk, unless someone it living in exceedingly safe regions.

The variety of different compression modules is daunting. For the Orca there are 28 different modules, for the Rorqual there are 38. Even if you want to bring along some variety to refit, they are 1,000 m3 each. Lots of frustration just on choosing how to fit the ship.

The overall take is a lot of complexity and time spent with a high risk for a ‘simple’ task like compression. The simple change to lossy compression is a hard enough pill for most to swallow, adding the elaborateness of the actual in-space compression process might make it an unused feature by most miners.

Learned I could compress in complete safety inside a POS

Again, if there was some reward or payoff mechanism it might be received differently. Like occasionally the compression module spat out another ore or item or some kind of slot machine payoff as something “found in the compression process” it might induce players to do this kind of thing. Compressing Veldspar and occasionally a small chunk of compressed Spodumain or Pollucite pops up as a reward to the compressor, for example. Variable ration/variable reward mechanisms motivate people very well.

The skills map to the modules, but again, those are a lot of skills to train. Million SP trains are not fun. Several of them are fist clenching. Unlike the capital production changes requiring Science V skills, these are skills that are difficult to share responsibility. Putting Rorquals on field these days is risky. Expecting multiple Rorquals to be coordinated to spread the skill training needs, be fitted properly, and flown together is something only a small handful of the largest groups could pull off.

Mining Waste

Mining waste is not a bad idea, but the end result is counter-productive to getting lower SP players involved with mining and getting more people in space.

EVE players are min/maxxers and the proposed design leads to natural path of basically excluding as much waste behavior as possible. This means the rich get richer and the poor get kicked from mining fleets as the Tech 1 modules low SP players use simply waste too much of the valuable rocks.

Waste is ore offered to Bob

The change to make all mining drones create waste is a huge impact to players in industrial support ships and again, reduces the ISK/hour of resource gathering as in many groups, mining waste will be anathema, and the time it takes to gather resources increases significantly.

The idea of offensive ‘waste mining’ fleets is raised, but it seems fairly unrealistic we are going to see this becoming a common tactic. Mining ships are so paper thin that this kind of fleet would be more a meme fleet that a serious economic attack.

The entire waste paradigm needs to be flipped in some way so that the rich & high SP players can’t simply get more ability to dominate resource gathering.

Again, an opportunity to create variable ration/variable reward mechanisms is something that should be considered. Having a chance for a lucky waste roll to pop out something valuable would do a lot to soften player resistance.

Combining lossy compression and waste in the mining general case (T2 modules + Athanor compression) easily turns the 100% increase in resources to maybe a 50% actual increase in resources. This doesn’t consider the additional changes to mining ships that realistically increase the amount of time spent in the act of mining, lowering the ISK/hour.

Mining Ship Changes

As has been hinted previously, the Porpoise, Orca, and Rorqual are not going to be mining ships going forward. This is tremendously frustrating to those players that invested a lot of effort into flying these ships to see them be purely support ships. Besides providing mining command bursts and the newly changed compression modules, these ships are high cost ships with low value to the pilot flying them. The idea that a Rorqual is going to save paper thin exhumers from a Blops Drop is laughable. Everything on field will die.

Saddling these billion+ ISK ships with the mind-numbing task of sitting on field to compress materials painfully while a command burst cycles endlessly is just no fun at all. If fielded, a huge target for hunters, with no realistic way for the ship to earn its way into profitability.

Players who own Orcas/Rorquals are owners of ships that don’t justify their build costs. Only the safest and wealthiest areas in New Eden will see these fielded, further pushing the player meta to join only the biggest and most powerful groups, reducing diversity in corps and alliances.

So, if a player owns a Rorqual with Excavators, suck it up buttercup, you are SOL. Might not feel like the “new age of prosperity.”

I don’t Rorqual mine, but I do have one that’s used for logistics purposes. That usage appears intact. A kind of Poor Person’s Jump Freighter.

The most used mining ship in null sec, the Procurer, is nerfed. It’s role as bait with the capability to fight back removed almost entirely.

Why mess with the Procurer?

Eliminating the gas mining bonus for Ventures again removes a good way for low SP players to earn ISK. It has to be asked, why? Isn’t getting new players into space flying around to huff gas a good thing? Why was the Venture deemed too overpowered and harmful to the gas economy of New Eden?

The rest of the mining ship changes are a haphazard mix of tank buffs/nerfs/bonuses that make a halfhearted attempt to get players to fly expensive Exhumers into harm’s way. It’s like a wheel of change was spun and the random result chosen instead of a serious look at why players use the mining ships that they use.

The more I looked at it the less I could get a clear picture of what is trying to be achieved other than “don’t mine so much stuff” which seems counter the theme of New Dawn.

Condensing Reprocessing Skills and Mining Crystals

These changes toward the end of the Dev Blog are welcome and even reduce the complexity of mining a bit.

With Reprocessing skills and mining crystals previously specific down to the ore type, these changes make the training of skills and crystal usage simpler to understand (once we learn the new terminology like “Supreme Ores”) which is a good thing.

For those players with perfect refining characters, it’s actually a skill bonanza as there’s the possibility for several million unallocated skill points to be gained.

The mining crystal changes again simplify the game a small amount and offer some options not previously available. While avoiding waste in sovereign space is a big issue, if I’m on a high sec mining character and just want to spend 45 minutes running asteroid belts, the higher yield, high waste crystals sound pretty good. My corp mates aren’t going to be angry if I dumpster a few belts in unowned high sec space with waste.

These changes exemplify what CCP should be doing, making changes that mix good improvements, with options that appeal to varied playstyles.

So what’s next?

I think the Dev Team is taking the community reaction seriously and trying to listen to the concerns. This is a good thing. We have their attention.

The ball is in their court as the CSM and players can offer a look into how the denizens of New Eden would use or abuse the current design.

Personally, I was hoping for more information on the mention last July about “Rework of the industrial index including greater choice over the distribution of resources” which is important to my group. But we need to get through New Dawn first.

My ask of the Dev Team is to remember that players want to enjoy EVE and feel rewarded for their effort. If that gets lost, nothing else really matters.

Thanks for reading to the end of this write-up. There’s a ton I didn’t cover, mainly because the interconnectedness of all the changes make it difficult for even an experienced industry enthusiast to keep in their mind at one time.