Monday, July 21, 2014

The Power of Conflict

There have been quite a few postings made elsewhere about Lowsec lately, and I think it's time to toss my own thoughts into the ring about the subject. For some context here, I'm going to suggest a bit of light reading before I get into the grit.

First up we have a lovely posting by fellow Gal Mil pilot Niden over at Crossing Zebras "Eve is Dying?" The TLDR here is that lowsec kills are rising, nullsec not so much. He makes the case that if Eve is dying, lowsec didn't get the memo and is doing great.

Our friend The Nosy Gamer took Niden's data a bit further and made the case that kills in almost all areas of Eve are related to the Average Concurrent User (ACU) data. Then Gevlon took Nosy's data and used it to show that Nullsec players are running off to highsec to make money. Sweet shit, it's like anyone can take a line of data and dress it up to show whatever point they want to get across these days.

All I'll say about those who have come before in this discussion is that they all have a point, and they're all worth reading. Who knows, maybe you'll find some piece of data to expound upon and write about yourself.  For my own part, I'll share some of Niden's feelings that lowsec certainly feels busier as a whole, but something none of the data can demonstrate or predict is an intangible: Conflict drivers.

I'd been watching my own data line before any of these articles hit the interwebs. As most of you are no doubt aware, when I'm not bashing my face in CSM stuff I'm the executor of a 377 man FW alliance. We don't hold sov (our home system is debatable since we do actively defend and hold it) we don't run POSes, we have no POCOs, and we certainly don't rent space. We serve one function: shooting stuff, and our killboard has told an interesting tale these past few months.

Like anyone in a leadership position in Eve will tell you, there's nothing like some nice propaganda, and a great purpose to rally your lads (and ladies) to log in and put the screws to someone. This past March we saw our busiest month yet, topping 4200 kills and leaving over 1600 wrecks on the field of battle. March was an incredible month that saw some spectacular fighting between the Gallente and Caldari, where several pushes were made to take important systems... places both sides were more than willing to fight for. Conflict happened, content was generated, and we had people logging in to be a part of it. April saw a dip to 2600 kills, May things tipped back up over 3k, and then in June the wheels practically came off.

What happened in June? Nothing, and that was the problem. Kronos came, seemingly 90% of the farmers went away, and they might have taken most of the Caldari with them. Most nights we couldn't BUY a fight, and finished the month with numbers we hadn't seen so low since May of 2013 when our alliance was half the size it is now.

July had the start of another dismal month, but was salvaged when bunch of Amarr FW guys got together and decided it was time to headshot the Minmatar in their main staging system of Huola. As it turns out, there are some Russians living in Huola that helped us out a year or so ago, we owed them a favor, and a bunch of Gal Mil corps and alliances sent some of our best and brightest to aid the defense. The fighting in Huola, that one system, has accounted for over half of our kills this month, with less than half of our kills coming from the entirety of our own warzone. It is conceivable that had the Amarr not gotten it into their heads to attack Huola, my alliance would be sitting on less than 900 kills so far this month.

Does the spike in lowsec kills that's about to show up on Nosy's kill graph for July have anything to do with ACU? If there is a correlation between the two, is it a result of more people logging in to take part in a conflict that wouldn't have logged in if that conflict wasn't there?

You know what gets people to log into Eve? An epic expansion certainly helps bring people in to check out new stuff, but a few new ships or a fancy new game mechanic doesn't keep people around forever. Conflict does. Your buddies calling you up on the phone yelling at you to get your ass in the game because shit is going down and we need everyone we can get into a ship in fleet RIGHT FUCKING NOW! People who don't give half a shit about what's coming in Crius this week resubbed their accounts to help their friends defend their home system, and get some epic fights in Huola earlier this month. If the Caldari wake up tomorrow and decide to shoot for the moon and assault Nennamaila, the same thing will happen in our warzone.

B-R earlier this year probably generated more subs for Eve than Kronos did (that is completely unresearched and unscientific as I have no data to back it up, but I'd bet you 100m ISK I'm right). I can certainly tell you that it generated more applications to our newbie corp than anything that's happened since.

Conflict, ladies and gentlemen: any story is shit without it. Eve is a pretty big story filled with some epic conflicts... though not as many lately. We've had some great one-off battles this past year, but the real wars have been rather light. A lot of folks in null will point to the problem of Sov mechanics as a serious detractor to wanting to start up a serious war, and it's true that the onus is on CCP to provide the mechanics and tools needed to make the jobs of the content (and conflict) creators a bit easier.

What's also true is that part of this is in our hands, and I can tell you that the next great bout of content in lowsec isn't going to come from a mechanic instituted by CCP. It's going to come from a handful of players sitting in a private room on their teamspeak server discussing their next move to stick it to the other guys. They'll motivate their pilots, and spread the word to their allies. People who have been bored with Eve and have hardly logged in for the last month will get ready for war, because hey, it's something to do. Some of that intel will get leaked, and the guys about to have the hammer dropped on them will rally their pilots, and more people will be logging in. The fighting will start, and people who unsubbed from boredom a while ago will reactivate their accounts to take part in some of the epic fighting that will be taking place. Hell, even the QCATS might put down League of Legends for a few nights.

None of that might show up prominently on some ACU chart, but it will likely result in more than its fair share of destruction. With that in mind, maybe what Eve's sub numbers need more than some industry revamps and a few new and rebalanced ships, is a world war.


  1. Hey Funky, nice post! You and Niden are both correct about low seeming to be more alive now than before the launch of Kronos. I just attribute that to the changes to PvE that CCP added. Now, you PvPers in FW systems have targets in both plexes and belts to chase after and shoot.

    I do need to correct one thing. I'm looking at Dotlan and at the current pace of destruction, low sec will average under 10,000 ship kills per day in July. That will be the first time since December 2012, when Retribution launched. I don't think that the number will dip below that total this month, but I've been wrong before.

    1. Those numbers will depend on what happens in Huola, and if the Caldari decide to wake up and push in the other zone. The first week of July was about as dead as dead gets, so there's some catch up being played.

      Part of what you're seeing is the fact that Huola is the only place where major fighting is happening right now, and plexes have become less of a hotbed for PVP fishing. The question remains though: Is ACU a product of conflict, or is conflict a product of ACU hmm?

    2. I don't know what came first, the chicken or the egg :) But I am curious on your thoughts on why the slowdown in ship losses in low sec. I know that TEST/Brave going to Catch had a big effect. Also, the introduction of the Mordus ships had people more interested in shooting rats than each other. What else happened? Did CCP finally kill the WCS frigs going into FW plexes?

  2. If CCP feels like stirring the pot, they could come up with a Black Swan event, something massive and unexpected that would affect everyone for a limited period.

    What if you log-in after DT on Friday to a flashing message informing you that the EVE Gate woke up on the wrong side of the universe and released an EMP that fried CORCORD's communication network and the big Alliance's ability to easily project power (i.e. no jump gates or Titan bridges).

    You could hunker down at the Winchester, have a pint and wait for the whole thing to blow over or you could join the mayhem. The consequences would be lasting and introduce enough instability to general more conflict.

  3. Bottom line, PCU is near a 4 year low, if not already there. Huola may be a hotspot (yeah, I have been doing capital blueprint copying in there for some time, and zip around in there and next door in Kourmonen), but null sec, much of low sec, and high sec is much more quiet.

    High sec will just get more empty starting tomorrow, and the quaint concept that low sec industry will be a little more active will be crushed in a matter of months. Null sec will get more busy with the transfer of industry there, but it is unlikely to offset the steady decline elsewhere.

    As for a general war, yeah, that will bring back some players. But do the cartels want to shake up their RMT machine? I doubt it. Now, that being said, I am fairly certain that CCP has talked to the leaders of the cartels, begging them to start a war, citing the simple need for subs. It remains to be seen what concessions the leaders will bargain with CCP for in order to counter the loss of RMT that comes with a general war. That is beyond the gifts to null sec in Crius, of course.



    1. you do understand how RMT works, correct? and at current prices legal plex to ISK conversion is cheaper than illegal RMT?

      take off the tin foil hat and come back to reality. no one RMTs isk that isnt a 14 year old kid living in China. there is NO PROFIT in it. do the fucking math instead of foaming at the mouth about some bullshit kindergarten level theory.

  4. Gevlon didn't show anything; correlation does not imply causation. Good article, otherwise.

  5. well as a leader of a "370 something person alliance" i think its up to people like you to practice what you preach here.
    im a big galmil fan boy and ive loved my time here, but im gonna issue a little bit of criticism to its defacto "leadership"
    we, as a coalition, lack a narrative and a clear goal. 90% of militia ops fall under the banner of "just looking for gudfights". now its a game and FW is a great place for casual players, so the idea of fighting "just to fight" isnt all bad... but it needs to be balanced with a higher level agenda. leadership of these larger entities can sit down and plan out something a little more ambitious than just ruin the squids day. weve got tons of resources in our warzone, for example, that could easily be huge content drivers. take for example the r64s and r32s that are in the hands of pirates and null-blocs. the key trading centers like stacmon and oulley that are controlled almost entirely by non-militia entities.
    if you want content, use your influence and power to start setting in place some long term goals! i know i would be much more motivated to join mil fleets if we were taking some moons from pl, or liberating the orv/oul pipe instead of just derping around in atrons for fun.

    -c cyne

    1. well I am gonna just go with it here but its likely that after 1 or 2 goes at any null sec moon pos people won't show for those fleets any more. Not fun getting dropped by a wrecking ball of carriers you can't touch.