A few years ago, I ran a questionnaire for CSM candidates regarding lowsec. This year, I’ve decided to do the same, with a twist: there is now a bonus round of questions tailored to each individual candidate that fills out the questionnaire. As quickly as I can, I’ll be posting up their responses: without edit or commentary. Next into the questionnaire octagon is Sabriz Adoudel.
Character Name: Sabriz Adoudel
Candidacy Thread: Conflict. Opportunity. Destruction. Excitement…. Sabriz for CSM10
PART 1 – The Questionnaire
What single part of the game do you feel requires the most work in terms of iteration by CCP?
Resource allocation needs to be reworked to drive more conflict. In particular, resources should be transferred from highsec to low, null and WH space.
Do you feel that lowsec is ‘fixed’? If so, explain why. If not, explain what you want to see done to fix it.
Talking first about non-FW low.
No. Lowsec has been improving over the last year as there are now more things to fight over in it – Mordrus spawns and clone soldiers to add to the already existing level 5 mission hubs.
But this is not enough. There is not enough prey in lowsec to support predators, and without predators there isn’t enough conflict.
The ability to skip lowsec trade routes via jump freighters has removed null to high and high to low export/import traffic from lowsec, removing the opportunity for pirates to attack trade lanes. And the lack of PVE and mining opportunities with better ISK per hour than highsec alternatives removes the ability for pirates to hunt PVE oriented players.
Remove the bottom of the food chain and the whole chain collapses.
Do you have any plans to push CCP, if elected, to iterate on lowsec in general?
I believe that the best thing that can be done for lowsec is rebalancing highsec so that the (game theoretically) correct choice for wealth generating activities ceases to be doing them in highsec.
There’s also a need for specific additions to lowsec that make it a unique area of space. I support the decisions this year to increase low-low wormholes and would endorse other similar iterations.
In your opinion, where should lowsec rank in terms of priority for iteration by CCP?
It, along with low-class wormholes, are the areas of space most in need of help at the moment.
What, in your opinion, are the main factors that make lowsec more attractive to its current residents than other areas of space?
I would live in lowsec if it weren’t so dead. The combination of freedom to engage anyone in combat with meaningful but not overwhelming consequences makes for an interesting ecosystem.
At the moment, however, only really FW people can live there, due to the lack of drawcards to attract a ‘bottom of the foodchain’.
A final attraction is the absence of sovereignty mechanics allowing smaller organisations to flourish – entities that would be crushed in sov null or WH space.
What is your thinking regarding piracy in lowsec – is it good, bad, or ugly?
It is the central conflict driver in lowsec, and conflict is what makes EVE worth playing.
What are your thoughts on the notion that increased protection for PVE players in lowsec will result in a better lowsec?
Increased rewards for PVE players, without increased protection, is the better route. Presently the correct (game theoretically) choice is for PVErs in lowsec to move their operations to highsec where more expensive ships can be fielded.
I feel that PVE in lowsec should be balanced so that a competently piloted 300m ship should be earning as much, after factoring in predator-induced downtime (i.e. ‘Sisters probes on D-scan, got to warp out and safe up) as a person of the same skill level fielding a fairly blinged Marauder in highsec, and a person willing to field a carrier or blinged subcapital should be able to make considerably more than that.
I also feel, however, that information on how PVE players can protect themselves should be better disseminated.
What are your thoughts regarding Faction Warfare, particularly the idea that FW is the killer feature of lowsec?
I have mixed feelings about FW. The idea is excellent, the execution flawed enough that I think it needs work.
I feel FW has done a lot for some areas of lowsec but it should not define the whole of low.
If elected to CSMX and subsequently informed by CCP that lowsec was the ‘hot topic’ for iteration in the coming year, what input and advice would you have for them?
In a competitive sandbox, an ecosystem needs predators and prey, and motivating people to become prey with offers of unique, compelling rewards and unique, compelling gameplay is key to this.
This is true in all of space, but lowsec and C1-3 wormholes need the help most right now.
BONUS – What lengths are you willing to go to in order to make pirates flashy red on overview by default again?
I hate to break it to you, but I do not have -10s flashy red on my overview. Probably because so many of them instead appear as blues.
PART 2 – The Interview
What’s your personal background,in real life? What kind of work are you in? Does it help your chances of election, in your opinion? Why or why not?
IRL I work in aviation maintenance planning. I don’t see that either helping or hindering me with respect to CSM.
If you weren’t running, but you could singlehandedly ensure that any other person in EVE would be elected to CSM, who would you pick and why.
I was asked this question by the Cap Stable podcast as well.
If he runs again (and I don’t think he will), DJ Funkybacon.
Otherwise, there’s a few candidates I consider generally very good on most things that are let down by their stances on specific issues. To take one example I’ll name Corbexx, who has done a lot of good work on wormhole PVE, but his support of increasing the protection of highsec career mission runners through advocating an end to highsec AWOXing means his overall legacy will be negative on the CSM.
The one person I think should remain on for sure is Steve Ronuken, as his knowledge of obscure but important sections of the game add a lot to the CSM. Even though my alliance focus our efforts on destroying things, even we build enough to use Steve’s tools.
Other than EVE, what was your favorite game last year (2014)?
Path of Exile. It’s what I play when I want to relax, rather than have a competitive experience.
According to your own candidacy thread, you’ve always lived in highsec. You also appear to have some strong feelings about the state of lowsec. Have you ever operated in lowsec? If so, to what degree?
I would rather live in lowsec over any area of space, however I feel that there are not enough opportunities to base out of there (although I know many people do). I’ve run a fair number of lowsec PVP roams, PVE sites and (prior to changes to industry in Crius) did a lot of my invention and copying activities in lowsec. I’d consider myself a very frequent visitor of lowsec and I’d like to spend more time there.
You state in your responses that you believe that lowsec, along with lower class wormholes, are the areas of space most in need of help right now. Many players, if not most, would argue that the stagnant situation in sov-nullsec is more severe. Do you believe that CCP is on the right course, having announced that sov nullsec is the focus going into 2015?
The problems faced by the areas are different.
Currently sovereign null is *worth* fighting over, and the problem is the mechanics of those fights, which are not entertaining. Lowsec and lower class wormholes simply aren’t worth fighting over as highsec offers better wealth creation opportunities.
Both of these issues need to be addressed and both can be addressed simultaneously, much as this past year has seen a focus on ship rebalancing and force projection, but has still included some small things worth fighting over (Mordrus spawns, etc) in lowsec.
You also state that at the moment, “only really FW people can live” in lowsec. In just my neck of the woods there are at least a half dozen prominent pirate (i.e. non-FW) entities living and prospering. Are you aware of entities such as Stay Frosty, The Tuskers, Shadow Cartel, etc?
I should perhaps clarify that it’s possible for a small number of pirates and PVEers to operate in lowsec, but it is generally not an optimal decision to live there, and you will find that many people that live in low because they enjoy the lifestyle generate ISK to fund their activities elsewhere. FW is the only reliable method of doing this in lowsec, and piracy generally does not pay well. There are exceptions but the numbers of people generating wealth in lowsec is small.
What do you consider to be the flaws in the faction warfare system as it currently exists?
The core gameplay of contested sites I feel to be dull. It’s similar to mining – put a ship at risk for X time period and if you aren’t attacked, receive bacon. The fights, however, are much better once they happen than anything you usually see in a belt or icefield.
In my mind, the FW rewards structure focuses too much on minor strategic objectives (site capture) and not enough on major strategic objectives (driving the opposition from a system). I am, however, no expert here and would consult FW militias before suggesting sweeping changes.
In your candidacy post, you stated that no one plays Eve Online to run sites solo. This appears to be a firmly held conviction. Do you have numbers to support this belief? Where did you get this impression?
I’m stating that the PVE of the game isn’t a major drawcard. I was a solo PVE player when I started, and was on my path to burning out on EVE like so many other players before me. Sites (or the missions I used to do) aren’t fun once they cease to be new.
Some player retention comments from CCP back this up – players that ‘level up their Raven’ (or Dominix now) generally leave the game after realising that level 4 missions don’t hold endless excitement. Other games simply do PVE much better than EVE, which sacrifices the capacity for action packed combat to have a server infrastructure that can handle big fights (with things like a 1 second server tick).
By population, there are more people in the relative safety of highsec than anywhere else in Eve. You want to nerf their activities (what you term ‘high reward, minimal risk’ activities) so as to encourage more conflict in the game. Do you think this could backfire and drive a large part of Eve’s subscriber base away from the game?
I propose changes that would reduce rewards for grinding missions and incursions. I’ve spent enough time in the busiest mission systems to know that the number of people grinding these activities is actually quite small. Apanake, Osmon and Lanigisi generally have a combined local count in the hundreds, not the thousands.
A few individuals no doubt try EVE looking for a World of Warcraft style solo/group cooperative game experience. EVE will either lose these players (when they realise WoW’s PVE is simply far superior to this games’ PVE), or convert them (when, like happened to me, they realise that EVE’s PVP is far superior to any experience you’ll have in PVE games).
My proposals may accelerate the game shedding the players it never would have kept, but also, hopefully, will assist in keeping the players that can be interested in competitive sandbox gameplay by exposing them to it earlier.
The CSM, historically, gets the best results when it works together towards common goals. In your candidacy thread, you stated that you would be listing your fellow CSM candidates in one of three categories – those you highly recommend, those you recommend be put on ballots, and those who should not be put on ballots. Category 3 seems needlessly antagonistic for someone aiming to be part of a collaborative group. Your thoughts behind the need for Category 3?
I disagree with your assessment that the CSM works best when it is united. I have no intention of changing my policies in the name of ‘unity’ and have no illusions that others on the CSM will do the same either.
Taking an example, in the last year feedback was given to CCP by at least one CSM member (possibly more) that led to changes increasing the potential revenue career highsec incursion pilots can make. This, predictably, led to people abandoning ISK generation activities in wormholes and nullsec to join the highsec incursion gravy train.
The game would be in a better place if that feedback had been entirely ignored by CCP, and if the CSM member involved was never elected.
This doesn’t mean that I’d hold grudges against CSM members and try to block everything they do because of one disagreement. For instance I expect to disagree with Steve Ronuken on a lot of combat balance decisions, yet I still respect him as *the authority* on third-party development and think the CSM needs him.
You rather openly embrace the ideals espoused by James315, who infamously enough ran for CSM and then pulled out at the last minute, destroying a lot of the trust and hope his candidacy had built. Is your campaign a serious one, and will you be seeing it through to the end (unlike James)?
James pulled out for two reasons – one, because he was hesitant to sign the NDA involved in being on the CSM (something I’m willing to sign), and two, because of RL threats he received from miners that could not keep their in-game hostility to him in-game (being on the CSM requires you to basically dox yourself). Neither of these reasons apply to me – I’m aware of the NDA, and I have a lot less in-game enemies.
A few months ago in CODE. we actually discussed whether we wanted to abstain from the CSM election, run a joke candidate, or run a serious one, and people came around to my position that the CSM needs a person who understands the impact highsec risk/reward balancing will have on the entire game. With few exceptions the CSM either sees highsec as a ‘kiddie pool’ you graduate from, as an area of space solely for PVE and trade, or (at best) they see it as a place where PVE and trade are most of the game but they don’t understand the PVP that happens there. The CSM needs someone that has a finger on the pulse of highsec production, trade, PVP, how they interrelate with each other and how they impact and distort the rest of the game.
Also in your campaign thread, you rhetorically posed the question: “Why risk a 50 billion ISK cap fleet to fight…over a C6 wormhole when the…rewards for doing so are only marginally better than fielding a 15 billion semi-blinged incursion fleet in highsec?” You’re aware that large scale cap fights do occur in high class wormhole space, right? And that for most people, gameplay mechanics mean more than the absolute bottom line?
Yes, I’m aware they occur. The thing is that, if you are ISK per hour per account motivated and want to run PVE content to generate wealth, capital escalation fleets offer little more than highsec incursions. This, along with the risk imbalance, creates an ISK incentive to transfer wealth generation to highsec. Not every individual pilot or organisation follows this incentive, and so wormholes remain alive, but with corrections to highsec, they could be much busier than they are.
How would you like to see new PVE content for highsec implemented?
Leaving one of the biggest questions for nearly last.
Broadly I think PVE in highsec should serve a few purposes. Some of these might overlap.
1) Training wheels content for rookies. Level 1 and 2 security missions, low tier anomolies, belt rats, etc – these provide something to do while learning the interface; ideally with rewards that rookies find useful but that noone else cares about enough to grind (+1/+2 stat implants; less impressive meta modules; cruiser hulls and smaller; cheaper skillbooks; ISK in the hundreds of thousands).
The game does this acceptably well at the moment, but there is always room for iteration. In particular I would like to see level 2 storyline security missions sometimes award cruiser hulls so that rookies are more able to afford to experiment in PVP or recover from mistakes. However, there is also some content that mistrains rookies – security missions in particular, with the frigates that can be popped easily by battleship weapons, and the unrealistic portrayal of fights as 1 powerful ship versus 200 pathetic rats.
2) Content that lets players recover from devastating defeats. Undock with everything you own in an Orca and get ganked? Trust an ISK doubler, contract in Jita or a Goonswarm ‘recruiter’ and lose everything? Level 3 security missions and 1.0/0.9 asteroid belts allow you to recover from this devastating defeat and get back on your feet, and with good skills you can do level 3 missions in a cheap cruiser.
3) Content that allows players to dabble with fleet operations. I believe this was the original design intention behind level 4 security missions, but as those missions got better known and as ships have been rebalanced in a general upward power direction, players discovered that they are easily done solo. I feel level 5 security missions could serve this purpose if the risk/reward balance is very carefully calculated.
4) Content that teaches PVE centered players lessons they can apply to PVP. I feel burner missions were an attempt at this, but one that was crippled by the poor implementation of them (gating them behind other level 4 missions that are battleship/HAC/T3 oriented)
5) Content that drives conflict. This niche isn’t really filled at the moment except by the occasional race to complete exploration sites.
With those five pillars in mind, if I could redesign the PVE content in highsec, here’s what I’d do:
– Raise payouts for level 1-2 missions, lower it for level 4s
– Separate burner missions to their own agents, and make them un-grindable in highsec (by giving each ‘burner agent’ a 4 hour cooldown on offering you missions)
– Change the level designation of the existing burner missions to have the harder ones be termed level 5. Introduce level 2-3 burner missions (level 2 balanced for a low skill pilot in a T1 hull with good meta modules; level 3 for a medium skill pilot in a T2 fitted T2 hull)
– Introduce level 5 missions to highsec, but at a small number of agents only, and adjust the deadspace pockets they occur in to have lowsec aggression rules (and provide appropriate warning to anyone taking them on). This would serve as a totally optional conflict driver for PVE players willing to accept more risk than highsec but unwilling to jump through lowsec gates. Rewards would have to be very, very carefully balanced as these would be considerably safer than doing L5s in lowsec but considerably more dangerous than L4s in highsec.
– Reorient mining to mostly occur in anomolies, not belts, and add enough NPCs to those anomolies that mining fleets would want to seriously consider bringing along combat escorts. That’s an idea I need to flesh out and post in the Features and Ideas section of the EVE forums.
– Add ‘sites’ designed to generate ad-hoc fleet fights, with NPCs on both sides. Again, this needs fleshing out (I had a post in Features and Ideas months ago on these lines, but it is quite outdated now).
Finally, if voters knew nothing else about you, what would you want that one thing to be?
EVE is at its best when every area of space has resources worth fighting over and mechanisms for carrying out that fight, when players can choose a level of risk they are comfortable with and seek wealth there, and the ‘game theoretically correct’ decision is not to optimize safety but to take risks.