Living in an Upwell World

Let's start with something positive, these sound really fucking cool. A big fucking laser is going to blast the shit out of the surface of the moon, lift it into orbit, and then blow it to pieces for you to pick through with your mining ships. Forget about any of impacts on timezones, alliance/corp income, SRP, or conflict drivers, and just let that image sit for a minute and soften the blow because it is pretty cool.


Top-down Passive Income

I'm writing this at just before midnight my local time, and I've spent pretty much all day picking the brains of various friends, alliance leaders, FCs and logistics people to get their kneejerk reactions on the subject. Even though they're usually lacking perspective, kneejerk reactions are a really helpful tool when you get a wide sample because calmly deconstructing them let's you get to the core of what people are really worried about.

The reason I mention this is that it paints quite a different picture from a lot of the speculation thats occurred on reddit. Most of the speculation up until this point has revolved around creating a strawman of "big bad alliances that hold moons all over EVE and stop smaller guys getting them". Frankly, as someone who was once a member of such a group, I can tell you quite confidently that already died with Phoebe. Moon ownership has for at least the last year been a fairly accurate depiction of who holds the greatest military influence over the area.

After speaking to various ~space important~ people from groups such as Drone Russians, Venal Russians, Lumpy, TEST/CO2, GSF, PL/NC, Horde, GOTG, The-Culture and a few low sec groups, I strongly get the impression that no one is particularly worried about the top-down income loss. Infact for a few groups such as GOTG and GSF, it's probably a net buff. None of these groups are all that worried about it. Some of them might have to revise their SRP policies, but that's about the extent of it.

Interestingly too, most of the groups I spoke to were far more candid about their financials than I expected. I won't disclose any specific numbers out of respect for privacy, but I can tell you there's a strong element of learning to spend whatever's in your pocket. Groups that are rich tend to spend big on things that meaningfully affect their members, and groups that have little seem to get by just fine.

What surprised me the most is how many groups distribute and manage moons on a corp level. NC and PL have run essentially a "merit based" model since the end of OTEC where moons are distributed to corps and occasionally useful members (FCs etc) as a reward for activity levels and contributing to the alliance. BL used this model too from Phoebe onwards, and NPC Null groups who managed to take moons have done it pretty much forever. It's not a new idea.

What is new to me however is the sheer number of groups operating this model. Historically as I said it was usually the preserve of nomadic or NPC based groups, but with the exception of GSF and GOTG (who only re-nationalised them recently), every group of note I spoke to is operating this model. All of them have their quirks. TEST auctions systems, NC decides based on activity, T-C let the FC choose, etc but the outcome is all the same: Most of the money goes to the corp with some kind of kickback to the alliance.

While the focus has largely been on the alliance/coalition level, I think financially the largest negative impact is going to be on strong independent corps. In my own experience with TSK who I spent more than 2 years of my EVE career with, we'd never had more than 10B in the corp wallet, but when BL went to Fountain I made sure we got a decent cut, grew that quite significantly, and by having various members use that wallet as capital to do different kinds of specialized production we managed to push it over the 100B mark.

Again with one of my current corps Adversity, we have a large number of moons we managed to take on our own before joining PL. That ISK has been used to fund various corp-level initiatives, and we're now left scratching our heads as to how we'll continue to fund these going forward.

Back on the alliance level however, it seems like a straight forward problem: Renters and/or more tax. Not too complicated.


RF Mechanics

Now with the throat clearing on top-down finances over, let's come back to what I was saying earlier about kneejerk reactions.

Pretty much the unanimous worry even from non-FCs is the loss of the conflict generator. It's not a new worry either, I personally have been talking about this for well over a year and even mentioned it in my first post on this blog.

Citadels/Industrial Arrays with their damage caps, strong defensive capabilities and fixed vulnerability windows remove most of those fun aspects of the game. Also there's an even stronger and more terrifying insinuation that there's going to be some kind of active mining involved which focuses far too heavily like Aegis Sov on forcing PVP-centric alliances to engage in PVE activities as a goal unto themselves.

The simple fact is that despite their many fantastic features, Upwell Structures just don't offer the same interesting dynamics as the subject of conflict that a POS does. If we ignore the loss of granularity provided by POSes, the simple truth is that the vulnerability window system is completely hostile to PVP-focussed entities and strongly favours groups who're trying to win by simply boring their aggressor into giving up. It's just weaponised boredom with some new jeans a new hair cut.

I've already written extensively on the topic, but it bears repeating in this instance. The solution, just as it is with Astrahuses and Raitarus, is to give Medium Structures a single RF timer and use poco RF mechanics for all of them. In the context of Refineries it even gives you a unique selling point for the large structure.


Conflict Generation

In my experience, the best fights happen when there's a defender with something to lose and an attacker with something to gain. R64s have always been the best incarnation of this because there's equality in what the defender stands to lose and what the attacker stands to gain. It's not a single killmail where you get it or you don't, there's a non-binary aspect of ownership. The longer you own it, the more you gain. The longer you don't own it, the more you lose. This makes both parties willing to throw down big over the first few moons, because the effort invested in those brawls will decide the fate of many more in the future that won't be contested one way or the other.

I think there's also a distinction that has to be made between fighting over something and around something. The counter point often made to what I've said above is that "pilots in space = content". While true, tackling and killing a Rorqual does not net you anything besides a killmail. Sure many groups like HK and our merry band of Rockefellar-esque super pilots will go to great lengths to slaughter as many Rorquals as possible, the same cannot be said of most. There's simply a cost/benefit that doesn't sit well with them. And ultimately killing a mining ship is usually just a gank, not a fight.

Will people fight around these? Yes, a lot. Will people fight over these? Probably not. I'm all for killmails wherever they come from, but a "fight" requires two willing parties.


Mechanical Flaws

This one bugged me a little, and I could be wrong. Look at this excerpt from the dev blog.

A refinery that is deployed close enough to a moon can fit a special moon drilling service module. Fitting of this module will only be an option if no other drills are fit to other Refineries around the same moon, so only one structure can mine each moon at a time.

I could be wrong, but my interpretation of this suggests that 1) nothing stopping you having multiple Refineries owned by multiple entities around a single moon and 2) nothing stopping you from anchoring a new Refinery before your old one dies, and then entirely circumventing the aggressors week long effort by just being quicker on the button to online the mining service module on your replacement than the aggressor. It also means the aggressor needs to pre-emptively anchor their own Refinery more than 24hrs before the final timer without knowing if they'll actually be able to win the fight or not.

When discussing this with a few people, comparisons were drawn to the existing trick where you can ninja a pos from a great distance away the second everything becomes unanchored, but this only delays a competent enemy by 30 minutes at most, not a week or more.

This sounds ridiculous at first, but if you're familiar with Structure mechanics I see very little reason why this wouldn't be possible. I think fundamentally there needs to be a better mark of ownership for a given moon.


Lowsec

Lowsec is dead. If you've been paying any attention to the place for the last few months that is neither a surprising nor controversial claim. While there's plenty of political and self-inflicted reasons for this, the removal of POS moon mining is the final nail in the coffin for "meaningful content" in low sec outside of faction warfare. I'm sure most of the major low sec groups will find new homes in null sec eventually, but it'll be sad to see an entire class of space go dark. It's been said about null and wormhole space for years, but it turns out lowsec was the first casualty after all.


CCP's Vision for EVE

From a dispassionate perspective, this is just another obvious step towards CCP's vision for EVE as a "farms and fields" system. The idea that you move out to null, build an empire, then fight with your neighbors.

In my view, this is short sighted. In principle sure stable regions and groups might seem healthy for new players coming in, but I think anyone who's stuck around for the long haul will tell you that the conflict and changing landscape combined with friendship is what kept them around.

Destroying an empire is a lot of fun. Building one is pretty cool too. Maintaining one though? Eh, that's not something a lot of people stick around for.