EVE Online fortunes can be made or broken in a manner of minutes. A few seconds of inattentiveness can cause the loss of ships and cargo worth billions of ISK. A lucky item drop or the discovery of a hidden cache of resources can secure a player’s finances for months. Then there are patch notes — updates to the base rules of the game can irrevocably change the nature of the sandbox, and can leave a player rich beyond their wildest expectations or completely ruined. A recent update that will change where the game’s resources are found could upset the balance once again, and many players are not happy.
Last week, the next phase of EVE’s grand resource redistribution project was laid out in a developer blog by CCP Psych. The blog talks about the next phase in the massive overhaul of how resources, which are used to make all of the spaceships players fly, are harvested from the game. It’s an extension of a plan first set in motion months ago by developer CCP.
The overall goal of redistributing the game’s resources is to create more balance between the game’s four major ecosystems and force them to interact more. Additionally, the changes seek to demolish the resource stockpiles that organisations and players have held for over a decade, in order to level the playing field for newer entities. The first two phases have leaned heavily on reducing the overall availability of basic resources. Phase one was a straight reduction across the board, making it harder for players to gather the minerals needed to build items and forcing them to begin to consume those stockpiles. Phase two, according to the devblog, will create a difference in the minerals players can expect to find in their backyards, depending on where they live in the game.
The largest change described in the new blog is the creation of a decided difference between the four major economic zones of the game. From a high-level view, all ships in EVE are crafted from various types of asteroids mined by players and then reprocessed into eight distinct types of minerals. Soon, certain minerals will only be found in certain areas of space. For instance, high security space will see a monopoly on Tritanium, the most common mineral used in almost any ship built in EVE. The other areas — Low Security space, Null security, and wormholes — will see effectively zero Tritanium able to be produced locally, leaving players there completely dependent on importing the important mineral. These changes affect all the other types of minerals as well, establishing monopolies on various minerals across the different areas and forcing players to expand their efforts in sourcing the necessary components to build their ships. Players will have to either buy and transport their minerals from other players in different areas or extend their comfort zones and attempt to mine from other places. This will undoubtedly make some minerals harder to come by, increasing the effort and cost involved in producing the arms and armaments necessary for EVE’s ever-increasing battles.
Players were understandably concerned about this change, especially those in the game’s massive player-run empires deep in the Null security zones, who worry about the upcoming change’s effects on their ability to maintain their fleets of super-capital vessels. The majority of these players are currently embroiled in a massive conflict in which these ships are dying almost every day, and the upcoming changes will make destroyed ships difficult to replace. In the current state of the game, these ships take individuals a few days of concentrated effort to extract the needed minerals and create, but in the future, no null-sec exclusive alliance will be able to create them at all without expanding their efforts to source the components needed to rebuild their losses.
Last week, a few hours after the blog went live, CCP hosted a Twitch stream with a few player moderators to discuss the changes live and field player questions. During the stream, player feedback in Twitch chat was somewhere between highly critical and outright toxic, with many players being temporarily suspended from chat. The question of being able to quickly replace fleets came up around the midpoint of the stream.
CCP Rattati, the Lead Producer in charge of EVE’s ecosystem, referenced a recent battle between players as an example of some of the positives seen from the first wave of the resource distribution. “You can see that the diversity in those fleets is actually really amazing, and that is not random. It’s a lot of work by the ecosystem teams to actually try to get it into a healthier state,” Rattati stated. His comments referred to the mix of spaceships of all different types being involved in the battle, instead of only seeing one or two types of ships on either side.
Carneros, one of the player moderators and a frequent host on many EVE talk shows, responded by pointing out what some players view as the fatal flaw of the resource depletion plan, which is that some of those ships would be irreplaceable once the changes happen. “How long would one have to mine to collect the stuff to build a Caldari Rokh battleship, for example?” he asked, referencing a recent battle where hundreds of Rokh and other vessels were destroyed in a lengthy battle.
CCP Psych interjected to respond, “You want an answer to that for now, or two months ago, or three months in the future, or even a year in the future? Because it will be a different answer.”
The heart of the answer from CCP is that they would like the players to be patient with them while they finish rolling the plan out. In his closing statement, EVE’s Brand Director, CCP Goodfella, ended the stream by saying, “There have been mostly sticks so far in this journey, not going to argue against that. But the carrots are coming! 100%! If you don’t believe me, just look at the progress from December. We’ve always said this will be more and more, now we’re saying the carrots are coming. Take my word for it.”
Player discussion on the changes has continued to rage all through the weekend. The changes are set to enter the sandbox in the next two weeks, and will undoubtedly reshape how people play the game. One of the major concerns is that the giant clash going on in the null security regions will be paused by these changes while the factions try to determine what, if any, long term effects they will see from the resource shortages.