This month topic comes to us from @ZoneGhost who a few month ago asked "Is Low Sec the forgotten part of EVE Online?" Is it? I'd like us to explore this even further. Is Low Sec being treated differently by CCP Games than Null Sec (Zero-Zero) or Empire space is? Can one successfully make a living in these unsecured systems where neither Alliance nor Concord roam to enforce their laws? What's needed? Or is everything fine as it is?
What is low-sec? Why does it exist? Why do people claim it is broken? How can it be improved?
THE LOW-SEC BACKSTORY
From a narrative perspective, low-sec is puzzling. In storyline terms low-security systems fit into New Eden as areas of space claimed by one of the major NPC factions, yet they are effectively unpoliced. I have thus far been unable to determine a reason for this; factional enforcement and CONCORD resources appear pretty limitless in high-security space. What is stopping them from travelling that extra jump or two?
For my sanity I am going to assume that it is an economic and political issue, with low-security regions containing worlds that contribute to the galactic economy but not to a degree that justifies any security greater than the few cannons necessary to protect the stargates and orbital station infrastructure.
HOW IT WORKS, HOW IT DOESN'T
In gameplay terms, this means that any pilot who behaves aggressively will be spared a good CONCORDokkening, but they will still incur the wrath of any nearby gate or station weapons. This results in enough incoming firepower to make short work of any frigate or cruiser, however battlecruisers and battleships can be fitted to withstand the salvos. This serves to create a very specific environment wherein any combat in the vicinity of a gate or station can only be instigated by the larger vessels, with frigates and cruiser pilots being relegated to patrol gun-free asteroid belts.
This seems restrictive, severely damaging the versatility and variety of engagements that could happen in low-sec. Given that null-sec is the domain of the bubble, the bomb and the blob, surely low-sec exists to provide alternative mechanics and tactics to PvP combat. Since high-sec is effectively a non-combat zone, why is it so difficult and expensive to have varied small-gang combat in low-sec?
THE RESIDENT'S VIEW
I have given some thought to this and perhaps the current mechanics exist not only to facilitate a more guerilla style of combat, but to ensure that those seeking to travel through without a fight have a chance. As an occasional industrialist, I am grateful that the current mechanics ensure low-sec gates are thankfully free of fast-locking frigate tacklers. It makes me wonder what type of players are dissatisfied with low-sec in its current form. Is it simply those who are looking for an extra advantage? Or am I missing a fundamental flaw?
We Freebooters live in low-security space. Not because there are any particular benefits, I think it suits us. It is certainly more exciting than high-sec and doesn't require us to be in an alliance as null-sec survival would demand. In high-sec an industrial run for more POS fuel would be a low-risk chore. The same activity in low-sec suddenly becomes an adrenaline-fuelled twitch-fest as you assume that everyone in local is actively looking for you. Low-sec exploration is nerve-jangling but potentially rewarding too as, I'm sure, are many other things that are soporific in high-sec.
I think the point of low-sec comes down to asking yourself why you play EVE - are you looking for excitement and fun or do you just want to watch pretend money in a fictional bank account slowly grow?
So my direct answer to the Blog Banter question of "Is Low-Sec the forgotten part of EVE Online?" is this: Not really. Low-sec is no more or less 'forgotten' than many other aspects of EVE. Low-sec mechanics exist as they do for a reason and it's current iteration facilitates the styles of play that currently go on there. Any change to these mechanics might fundamentally unbalance gameplay styles and behaviours as they are.
This is not to say that it could not be improved, but I would not advocate a 'rip-it-out-and-start-again' mentality and would rather see things developed and enhanced.
PROVIDING THE 'LOW' SECURITY
I think one of the chief downsides to living in low-sec is the lack of community. There is nothing to encourage any exchange between residents beyond weapons-fire. In some respects this is part of the charm of low-sec, but within the unfriendly emptiness of low-sec, there are population clusters. I would like to see these given the opportunity to develop.
A mechanic could be introduced to encourage co-operation within these population clusters and allow them to provide their own security. Think wild-west frontier towns with it's sherriff and deputies. Although far removed from any support, the sheriff would have some powers to assist in the day-to-day policing of his township and outlying homesteads. This would clearly be open to corruption, some communities might find themselves in the grip of a tyrannical gang, whilst others might have benevolent protectors. You never know, it might encourage a few poachers-turned-gamekeepers. That is the fickle nature of EVE.
What follows is a fictional game design mechanic that I would love to see in-game.
A New Skill
Skill: Local Law Enforcement
Description: The understanding, administration and enforcement of local laws.
4% per level increase to security status increase per pirate head.
4% per level decrease to security status per infraction.
Prerequisites: Social V
+ DED Connections IV
DED Licensing Agents
DED Licensing Agents have been positioned at various stations in low-security systems in order to facilitate the employment of local Law Enforcement Officers. DED personnel that have been assigned these undesirable posts realise applicants are not always of the highest calibre and their recruitment standards are varied, however the following criteria must be met by capsuleers seeking A DED Law Enforcement License.
Local Law Enforcement Skill: Level according to system security applied for.
Security Status: Minimum -5.00 (some agents may expect better)
System Security Level 0.1 : Min. Req. Sec. Status -5.00 : Local Law Enforcement IV
System Security Level 0.2 : Min. Req. Sec. Status -4.00 : Local Law Enforcement III
System Security Level 0.3 : Min. Req. Sec. Status -3.00 : Local Law Enforcement II
System Security Level 0.4 : Min. Req. Sec. Status -2.00 : Local Law Enforcement I
Faction Standing: Varies
Corporation Office: The applicant must be the member of a corporation currently renting an office in the system in question.
The Local Law Enforcement Licence
The holder of this licence has been recognised by CONCORD, DED and all associated organisations as an individual of good character capable of upholding the law within the boundaries of appropriate jurisdiction.
- Whilst operating within the bounds of jurisdiction (ie. the licence-holder's home system), gate and station weaponry will not fire upon any ship piloted by the individual. Furthermore, the license holder will incur no security status loss nor criminal countdowns for initiating combat within the system of jurisdiction (these bonuses are invalidated if fleeted with any unlicensed pilots).
- The license-holder will have access to a secure constellation-wide Law Enforcement channel to assist in communications between local LEOs.
- A LLE licence-holder with a Security Status of +4.5 or higher and Local Law Enforcement V can apply for an extended licence with constellation-wide jurisdiction.
This is clearly a quickly thought-out draft that has evolved as I've written it and probably has some quite glaring flaws, but I am enthusiastic about the potential that such a system could bring to low-sec. The concept needs tweaking, but the fundamental concept is there. Further scrutiny is required to consider how it would be abused and whether adjustments should be made to prevent that. For example, there is little doubt that some pirates would create a Law-Enforcement alt to act as an interceptor in their pirate gatecamp. Should a mechanic be introduced to prevent that? How?
I believe a mechanic like this would make low-sec more exciting, by creating a new career path and possibly making some areas more secure and attractive to carebears, therefore attracting more players to it. This would also make the pirates happy.
I'd be interested to receive feedback on this. If I can tidy it up a tad, I might throw it in the direction of Mynxee and her low-sec team. In fact, I might go put something on the Making Low Sec Matter Ideascale site right now. Come with me, I could use the backup.
Edit: I put an abridged version of the above concept on the Making Low Sec Matter Ideascale site. Go there, give the idea a thumbs up if you like it (We want Low-Sec LEOs). And maybe some others too. Then put one of your own.
Other Blogs Discussing This Issue:
- CrazyKinux's Musing: The Lure of the Wild
- Banter 15: Arr, Yer be talkin’ bout me lowsec | TheElitist
- Banter 21: Low-sec- Chocolate Heaven
- Subs' suds: Forever a noob in Eve: Low-Sec - the forgotten part of EVE Online
- Blog Banter XXI - Lo-sec = Low Priority? | I am Keith Neilson
- In the Ghetto | A Mule in EvE
- where the frack is my ship?: Blog Banter 21: What's good for the goose...
- Blog Banter #21: Change? | Sarnel Binora's Blog
- Low Sec = Wild West ~ Inner Sanctum of the Ninveah
- a merry life and a short one: Low Sec: I Wanna Talk to You
- Low Sec = No Sec | Diary of a Garbageman
- EVEOGANDA: Blog Banter 21: Friggin' Low Sec
- Drifting through the Stars: Blog Banter #21: Low-Sec - The Forgotten part of EVE Online
- Captain Serenity: Eve blog banter #21 - Low Sec, The Forgotten Part of Eve
- Low Sec: the Best part of EVE Online | Nitpickin's
- Aeroxe's Assault - “Is Low Sec the forgotten part of EVE Online?”
- Eve Blog Banter 21 | A Scientist's Life in Eve
- Latro's Bunker: Eve Blog Banter 21 - Low-sec
- A "CareBears" Journey » Blog Archive » EVE Blog Banter #21: The Low Sec Conundrum
- EVE Blog Banter 21: Low Security Space « The Nomadic Gamer
- EvE Blog Banter #21: Where Now?!? – EvE Blasphemy
- Low-security space is for people who care « EVE's parity bit
- More coming shortly...