Null-sec Wasteland

“Scan is clear. Moving to the next gate.”

The tension was mounting as we traversed space, the last ten systems we had jumped through had all been empty.

“Jumping to the next system. Damn, traffic control, we’ll have to wait.”

The traffic control could mean one of two things. Either the system was heavily occupied, or the gate has been taken offline due to lack of use.

“Traffic control cleared. Jumping through.”

As we arrived in system and established contact with the local communications grid we could see that it was empty. Only five more jumps to our destination.

The above seems to be common in vast swathes of null-sec at the moment. The was a brief period, with the initial introduction of iHubs and the like, when the null sec population swelled and it was worthwhile developing systems. Now it seems less so. There was even a throwaway comment in the ATX commentary that “no one rats anymore”. This seems a shame. What’s responsible?

I guess the first finger of blame will point a CCP for the null sec nerfs to switch off the ISK faucets that the iHub introduction created. Suddenly it was only worth developing those systems whose true sec rating was worth ratting in anyway. The lesser systems, the ones that most benefitted from the iHub improvements, were no longer worth the investment. They now support solo botting Tengu’s at best, most of them lie empty. We had a brief gold rush, the gold dried up, everyone moved on to other things.

The second finger of blame has to go to the force projection capabilities of the large alliances. It’s so easy to drop a fleet of super-caps into a system to obliterate a small operator it forces those that would try to settle to find other things to do, occupying wormholes for example. This is a bigger problem than the nerf. The sheer power of super-cap fleets is now making even semi-permanent settlement of 0.0 impossible. Other than the large coalitions the main null-sec alliances now seem to base themselves in NPC null sec, or low-sec systems with a null-sec entrance. The idea of building something and holding space only exists in CCP promo videos.

The recent war in Geminate is a case in point. BricK sQuAD only took systems Geminate for the good fights. There was no expectation that it would be a permanent occupation. In fact it was expected that it would be lost. NCdot have taken most of Geminate and left it empty and abandoned.

The third finger of blame has to be the ISK faucet provided by moon mining. This is something that seems to be being addressed but at the moment it’s the be all and end all of ISK generation rendering everything else pointless. What’s more those in charge of the moon goo can increase its value by destroying ships built with it. Hulkageddon anyone? It doesn’t matter if you lose expensive ships blowing up Hulks if the miners need your moon goo to buy new Hulks. You are helping to keep your sales prices up.

So what can be done about it? The aim has to be to make holding space more worthwhile and easier. So here are a few steps to consider:

  1. Remove the moon goo. Passive ISK generation shouldn’t be possible. I know that PI fits into this, but hopefully Dust 514 will have an impact here. If this kills the economy then reverse some of the previous movement towards all community provided resources and have them seeded by the NPC corps.
  2. Reduce the jump ranges of combat ships massively. At present it’s far too easy to move a huge super-cap and cap fleet halfway across the map to stomp on someone and then withdraw. Removing this ability would make more systems relevant. It might even create a frontline that wars are fought over.
  3. Make super caps more vulnerable. They are still pretty much the “I win” button. Yes, I know they are expensive, and people have invested in them, but if you drop a fleet of them the only thing that can beat them is a bigger fleet. They should be rare.
  4. Add defensive system upgrades. Gate and station guns for one thing. The ability to suppress local based on standing, deny the enemy intelligence. Perhaps even the ability to charge for, or prevent, use of the gates into an occupied system. This could potentially lead to more emergent gameplay; spies lighting covert-cynos for a black ops fleet to neutralise gate controls etc.

We need some more out of the box thinking on null-sec that will upset the current, destructive, status quo and encourage more capsuleers to make their home there. If nothing is done it will become more of a wasteland than ever.

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