Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Goon Rental and the Null Sec Problem

By now you should have heard that the CFC will be starting up a sov null rental program, and if not, now you have. To a lot of people this has come as a surprise, as the CFC has been against renters for as long as can be remembered. In fact earlier this year, the idea of Goonswarm stating up a rental program was so ludicrous that it was presented as a April Fools day joke on TheMittani.com.

So why the sudden change?
Empty Null
The most populated system here has 12 pilots
The short answer here is that moon income is no longer viable to keep the CFC afloat if they wish to continue with extra curricular activities such as Burn Jita. The slightly longer answer is that sov null is a broken mechanic and needs work. As it currently stands, the primary money maker in null is moon goo. Moon goo is used for T2 production and its the source of T2 materials. This means it's always going to be something that is needed as long as T2 items remain in use. Guaranteed stable(ish) income. The problem with moon goo comes from the sheer number of moons you need to use to make it viable and the spread those moons have across the universe. Large null sec alliances need to hold onto vast amounts of space, with thousands of moons just to securely extract from the few hundred moons they need for isk generation. This is where the biggest parts of the null sov problem lies.

Renting as a Solution
Primarily the problem with null sec is that it is empty. It's vast amount of space used for moon goo extraction and nothing more. Renting out the space is an easy way for a null sec alliance to make money from their empty space which is otherwise unused. Smaller entities (generally corps) are able to pay for the space, which they would not be able to defend alone. By renting from an entity like the CFC, they put themselves under a shield of the CFC's income. The CFC is encouraged to protect the smaller entity to protect it's own income, while the smaller entity can make that income and more from the use of the space. It's a win-win situation for all involved and a pretty effective solution to the problem of null sec emptiness. The problem is it's pretty much the only effective solution available, which makes it feel forced. This is a bad thing for a sandbox MMO.

Alternative Solutions
The primary aim of a null sov fix should be to encourage a greater number of players to use it. This means that the current null blocks would need to lose space to allow areas for new groups to thrive. I feel that in order for this to work, two things would need to happen
1. Sov space would need to be harder to hold the more you have. A kind of diminishing returns on holding space. Increasing the cost of sov the more sov you hold would be one way of achieving this.
2. Owned space would need to have more uses. There should be more ways of using the space than ratting, mining and moon goo extraction.
When thinking about this, I realised that there is something I do solo that would be more beneficial to do in null sec but is currently logistically impossible. Industry.

Null sec Industry
Industry is a great thing. Stations have very limited slots for research and manufacture (primarily research) and so once you move into higher levels of production the need to run a POS is encountered. This can be done in null sec, but has it's own problems. In order to manufacture in a POS you need the rights to use the manufacture queues in all POSes owned by the corporation. This means you need to be careful as to who you allow to use these. Given access to the industry queues a misbehaving member can cancel jobs and potentially steal items and blueprints. Conversely, as an older player, I have a lot of BPOs. Putting these into a corp runs the risk that the corp drops me and keeps the BPOs.

Having been on the receiving end of a rogue corporation director, and losing billions in BPOs and items, I understandably am not too eager to go taking my personal assets out of my own hands and putting them at risk with a corporation. So to combat this, I run a high sec production corporation which does all of my industry for me. All I need to do is ship the material from hub to POS, keep my BPOs in a corporation hangar in a nearby station and run jobs to my hearts content. But this got me thinking. What if this was possible in null on an individual level. If individual members of a corp could be given their own POS, and run jobs from their own hangar rather than a corporate hangar, there would be another use for all that space. Alone, I would fuel and run at least 2 moons on full steam if the risk of BPO loss to the corp was removed.

All of this could be easily possible if the POS rights were updated. Rather than having to give over generic POS rights to a members, giving all rights on a single POS to a member, making that POS effectively theirs would make this possible. At the moment this is only possible through making a sub-corp within the alliance. This combined with a diminish return on sov holding would pack more people into a smaller area in null, and make the space much more useful.

Other Solutions
The solution presented here is just one of many possible solutions to the null sec population problem. It meant to be more of a "food for thought" solution that an actual workable solution to give an idea of one of the many ways that sov space could be made more desirable to more players, and more importantly to a variety of players with differing play-styles. I welcome your comments on what you think would make null sec more desirable.

Null sec players: you have a working knowledge of null as it currently is. What would you do, or what would you like to encourage more use of the space held by your alliances?

Other players: What would null sec need to offer to make it more desirable to you? What hurdles do you think it currently has that makes it less appealing than the space you are currently in?

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