Balancing Merchant kills outside high sec stations & gates

In reading through posts by players who enjoy acting out high sec piracy I’ve come to an appreciation of reasons for suicide ganking / solo shooting as a legitimate game action that should remain a part of EVE in its peculiar niche among MMP games. I am adapting and evolving beyond my hard core “care bear” sensibilities to appreciate how there is no such thing as Non consensual PVP because undocking from any port in eve, even in 1.0 sec space, is consent to PVP.

So please, pirates, don’t jump on these conversation points as if they were the whinings of a cuddly bear trying to change the omnivorous predatory ethos of the game.

This being said when a solo shooter or gang and cargo scanning / scooping accomplices wait for targets right at the doorstep of a Caldari Navy Station, say Jita IV, 4 trade hub, there is no chance for the merchant being bumped while trying to get a jump vector. It’s shooting fish in a barrel and there are very few consequences when the shooters and scoopers are willing to loose their ships to CONCORD response.

From a role play perspective it does not make sense, no matter how rotten, incompetent corrupt, uncaring and dystopic the Caldari government and navy may be, for them to tolerate such brazen acts of piracy right at the gate of their highest volume trade centre with only the wet noodle of ‘throwaway’ pirate ship losses to the CONCORD response.

It should remain always possible for players to attempt to gank or solo kill merchants anywhere in High sec but, in order to balance the joy of piracy with the joy of being a cuddlier sort of merchant / miner / mission runner, the environment should make it riskier and more challenging for the aggressors and cargo scooping, cargo scanning accomplices. Wannabe care-bears need “big boy” pants and teeth, but they also need a fighting chance. And while popping merchant ships can be fun, and while it can play an important role in a wider strategy and as a sink for resources in balancing the economy…freighter jocks are players too and they need a balanced environment where they have decent chances.

Thus the following ideas are presented for discussion and consideration. They are not demands nor are they to be dismissed out of hand. There’s a lot of conversation on this forum that is beyond healthy debate to improve game mechanics for a diverse community of players who wish to be exposed to pvp in Eve as a uniquely a deep and toothsome game. There’s some stuff that is bullying and dismissive.

Please note I am not approaching this as an anti griefing policy. I am approaching this in a conversation (not a demand to have my ideas past but ideas to keep the conversation going and the imaginations flowing) to have a better environmental response to legitimate game play and to better balance the currently rather riskless joy of pirates with the risk of merchant haulers in high sec.

Also please note I am in no way an expert nor do I pretend to know very much at all. Eve is a deep deep deep game and we are always learning. I played back 13 years ago and recently re-subbed so I’m a noob all over again.

Please consider the following ideas:

a A warning before undocking at Jita IV 4 and other stations high sec stations where ganking has been a recurring problem

b actual change to the security status of systems in response to incidents of player on player piracy.

c Ability to look outside all stations in high sec as one can in player owned stations and in null sec.

d Use of cargo scanners near stations and gates in systems with security at or over 0.5 have a chance of being treated as a ‘suspect’ act in the game mechanics. The higher the sec rating of the system the greater the chance of the NPC authorities detecting the cargo scanner and flashing the banana of the ‘offending’ player.

e Insurance options on cargo containers where payout is factored by security status of system in which loss occurred and is voided if container passes outside into less than 0.5 sec.

f Similar insurance options on high value modules and rigs.

g Destroying an unarmed industrial ship outside a station in high sec empire space gives the pilot an immediate -5.0 (* security status of system) security status and -5.0 faction standing (* security status of system) with the empire sovereignty of the system in which it occurred and with the faction that owns the station where it occurred. So a pilot who destroys a hauler at Jita IV, 4 (.9 security) would gain immediate -5.00.9 = - 4.5 to their security status with concord, and similarly -5.00.9 = -4.5 to their standing with Caldari state and -4.5 to their standing with Caldari navy.

h Gates and stations have a chance of detecting fitted cargo scanners after so many minutes of a pilot loitering near a station or a gate. If detected the pilot whose ship is fitted with the scanner become suspect and receives -1.0 * system security rating to security status with concord, with the sovereignty that owns the system, and if outside a station with the npc corporation that owns the station.
i In addition to suspect timer starting on a pilot who loots yellow cans there is a serious and longer lasting effect on security status, empire standing, and in the case of stations, factions standing for pilots 3rd party or ganker fleet / corp / alliance members who loot the remains of destroyed non war decked merchant ships at a station or gate in a high sec system.

j Local persistent NPC Concord, customs and navy ship patrols appear at stations where there have been a lot of player on player destruction of merchant shipping. Sovereign entities simply would not tolerate through mere ‘punishment’ of pirates in their core systems. I get it that CONCORD is into punishment rather than protection but they need to make things more difficult for the pirates. Not impossible, just more risky to balance the risk taken by the merchants.

k Pilots with low security standing have their assets frozen by CONCORD in systems on the same scale as police are going to attack them in high sec. If pirate Pete want access to his hangars in high sec he can, improve his sec status.

l The SCC or some other NPC entity “follows the loot” through the data bases and apply stiffer financial / economic consequences to the looters of ganked ships as well as the shooters.

Temporary but significant response of banning open market buying and selling in high sec by accounts who have shot merchant ships or scooped victim loot at stations. Not as an anti griefing rule but as an environmental response to legitimate game play. Pirates have to fence their ill gotten gain elsewhere

m Pilots who destroy non war decked unarmed merchant ships near a gate or station are fined according to the value of the destroyed and lootable cargo and the destroyed ship and fitted mods, factoring in security status of system (so fines highest in 1.0 system and lowest in 0.5 system, no fines in low sec or no sec.), a portion of the fine is refunded to the pilot who suffered the loss in accordance with his standing with the sovereignty in which she / he was shot down and, in the case of a killing at stations, standing with the NPC corp that owns the station. To make it more interesting there can be a random probability of the fine occurring. Higher probability in higher sec systems and no probability in low sec or null sec. The fine can put a pilot’s wallet balance below zero, effectively garnishing future income until the debt is paid off. This kind of system would ensure that the joy of killing is possibly as expensive as the joy of being killed while hauling. But there’s still a chance of dodging the fine, or of the fine being worth the expense of the loot, so there’s a possibility of reward for the pirate and so danger for those of us who tend to get too sloppy and cuddly in our lack of operational security while hauling.

n Outside npc stations the faction that owns the station recovers the loot drop from ship losses and makes it available for the loosing pilot to buy it back at a fee calculated according to his or her standing with said faction. If that standing is below zero, no joy. The items are destroyed after a set period of time. Maybe the time isn’t completely predictable. maybe after somewhat random period of time they could have a chance of being available to the killer and or his corporate friends depending on killer’s criminal connections and standing with the faction holding the goods….for a fee……(some one suggested a variation this under the discussion of the re instatement of skill point based clones as a possible solution to balance problems posed by the non-problematic in itself instances of high sec piracy through variations on suicide ganking / solo shooting. Sorry I don’t remember name to give credit. I think the sneaky bit about killer getting an option afterwards is my own….

In conclusion:

the environment needs to be a little bit more unpredictable both for pirates and for more cuddly PVE oriented players who need to adapt to the predator prey omnivorous ecosystem inherent in EVE’s core philosophy and mechanics. Such things as random chances of fines and chances for cargo recovery to be corrupted in favour of the killer while usually being in favour of the victim keep us all on our toes.

but they are… your entire post is trying to change the core mechanics.

Here’s on that’s actually changing core mechanics.

Another one.

More changes to core mechanics.

And mechanic that you’re trying to change.

Again…

Another one…

Even changing the core mechanic of “being AFK near a gate” can now suddenly set you to -1.0 with random chance.

etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc.

I appreciate you taking the time to write this out.

Should I write out all the reasons I hate sun glare for you?

It’s like 10 years of self-interested, “tilt the game in my favour” anti-ganking threads were summarized, and presented in a neatly enumerated form!

More constructively OP, you have a bit of a conceptual problem here. The game is suppose to have risk everywhere, and piracy as a feature. Highsec piracy is already pretty rare - you can judge that from the MER - and difficult in that you need multiple characters or alts working together to even have a chance at making a profit as a pirate. Alright, I don’t know what the ‘correct’ level of piracy is for a good game, but I do know it is happening less than in the past when the game was more active, growing and healthy.

But the problem comes that if all of your wide-ranging changes were implemented, they would effectively make highsec piracy impossible. They would require a huge amount a development effort, touching core game systems that would have big effects outside the niche area of highsec piracy, and at the end of the day, there would not be better or more gameplay, but less. The end state would be that haulers would be safe and highsec criminals would move on or quit as it would be next to impossible to make a profit as a pirate in highsec.

So if that is the end state, why waste all the development time? Why touch all these systems when instead you can with just one line of code lock everyone’s safety to green in highsec and prevent loot theft and pirate attacks? That is a much easier, and less convoluted way to make merchant ships safe in highsec.

That’s not to say there isn’t a good idea or two in your list - like making suspect flags or other flags follow stolen loot to prevent the easy laundering loopholes that exist now and might generate more content - however most of your action items there are just more free safety for the hauler and more mechanical penalties piled on criminals, making it harder for good game play to be generated around piracy.

Good ideas around game mechanics are ones that promote player interactions, not ones that work to prevent it. At the very least, your ideas need to shape it so that the intended end result is an interaction between players where their choices influence the outcome, not that you make it impossible to interact with a thousand paper-cuts of disincentives. Because if you really think something is bad for the game, it is better to straight out delete it rather than just pile more disincentives and nerfs so only the most large, rich, and powerful player groups can participate.

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I’ll argue against any change that makes doing business in Jita safer or more convenient. It’s too dominant.

If you want more safety, you can do business at any of the other hubs or the TTT in Perimeter where you have a tether for docking and undocking plus an instawarp to Urlen. It doesn’t (and shouldn’t) get much safer than that!

I have never, to date, been ganked at Jita undock. I do take precautions and don’t fill cargo ships with expensive bling. If I have to undock with something very valuable I use as close to an instawarp ship as I can get and sweat a lot.

TLDR: Jita undock, working as intended.

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Concord response times should get longer and longer as more successful ganks happen in a single system. The police force is being spread too thin in those systems and the players need to intercede themselves, rather than depending on NPCs.

Look up Instant Undocks

As for all your ideas, I say no. I don’t think hauling is in need of balance at this time. I do, however, suspect that you still have a bit to learn about minimizing your risk.

Not to be insulting, but I don’t know what you do and don’t know. So here’s a crash course.

  • Use instant undocks and insta-dock bookmarks when appropriate.
  • Don’t go to Jita during burn Jita.
  • Don’t autopilot.
  • Don’t go AFK.
  • Fit buffer tanks against gankers (the amount of EHP repaired during a gank is usually less than the extra EHP you’d get from fitting a straight buffer tank).
  • Don’t haul on characters that a wardec’ed.
  • Make sure that duel requests are turned off for your hauling pilot.
  • If you web your freighter, always send duel requests to the webber, and never to the freighter.
  • I have occasionally received fleet invites while in a hauler (presumably to warp me away from gate guns, idk). Regardless, always be very careful about what you click on.
  • Don’t have your haulers in a corp that allows friendly fire unless you and your alts are the only people in that corp.
  • One hauling strategy is to fit enough tank that the ships required to gank you would cost more than the value of your expected loot drop.
  • One hauling strategy is to be as slippery as possible (usually best for moving small, high-value cargo like BPO’s). This is achieved through things like 2 second align times, covert ops cloaking devices, and the MWD cloak trick.
  • Use Eve Gatecamp check, scouts, the in-game map, or any other intel tools that you have at your disposal to see if gankers are currently active along your route. Sometimes systems with ganker activity can be avoided with a negligible amount of extra jumps. Sometimes you’re better off waiting until later to haul. Sometimes you can count on being an unprofitable gank target. Do note, however, that figuring that your tank is more than the gank fleet can take on is a risky gambit. Fleet numbers can rise and fall, and depending on when they scan you and how fast you move, they may even have time to reship into something that can take you on.
  • Traders are constantly overloading their haulers and/or compromising their tank in order to increase cargo hold capacity and decrease travel times because they get lazy and impatient. This gets them killed. Always use the most appropriate ship for the haul, and always use best practices. If that means waiting, then wait. If it means making two trips, then make two trips.
  • Do note that anything can still be ganked. A small gank fleet may have to watch your 700 EHP bowhead pass by today, but large gank fleets do regularly form. Moreover, if they see you flying a loot pinata, they may decide to actively hunt your ass. On top of that, covert ops capable ships stand a fair chance of getting decloaked on gates where gankers have been active (they will be surrounded with wrecks and faction police), and fast moving ships are vulnerable to smart bombs, lag, and DC’s. So don’t think it can’t happen to you.
  • Just because you got away with it before, doesn’t mean it’s safe.
  • Don’t haul what you can’t afford to lose.
  • If you can’t haul it safely, pay someone to haul it for you.

Okay, I think that’s all the big stuff.

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Burn Jita isn’t a thing anymore, grandpa.

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Thank you for drawing my attention to the use of thephrase “core mechanics”.

I will edit to be more accurate.

When I think about it you are technically right those are changes to the mechanics of the game.

What I intended to say is that I do not mean to change the centre of the game around player versus player activity. THE CORE of Eve being that even the cuddliest PVE merchant mining mission runner must be ready to get a bloody nose and develop teeth to deal with in game player ship on ship aggression (not person to person bullying but ship on ship action in eve is not bullying. Chat can be bullying.)

Scoots_Choco I will refine my post soon in light of your insight on the meaning of the phrase “core mechanics”.

Thanks again.

Thanks Xeux. yes players need to respond themselves. I agree. Would be care bears need teeth.

However, there is still an imbalance and the environment needs to respond. The idea of Concord being spread thin is fascinating. BUT from a role playing perspective there would be no empires at all if they really tolerated the level of piracy that happens in their high sec gates and stations. If there are empires, high sec should mean something in terms of concord and faction response. Otherwise let it all be null sec…

You are completely wrong. The problem is that there isn’t enough ganking happening right now - that is why CCP had to invent the Triglavian invasion.

thank you ship wreck jones forthe tips on safety. No insult taken. The insta dock stuff is new to me. as is most of the stuff you shared, that’s really helpful (lol I didn’t see most of it at first as I’m having trouble with this interface on this laptop.)

As to balancing hauling in high sec, we can agree to disagree. I’m only presenting things for consideration by the community and i certainly don’t think that all or any of my ideas should be adopted as presented. But there is an imbalance in favour of high sec cargo scoopers, of course that’s in my opinion. But it may not be a solo opinion.

Black Pedro,

Some of Your articles opened my eyes to become more toothsome and to the pvp world that is EVE. Thank you.

“self serving” is an unfair characterization and discourages people for discussing things.

lol xeux, your confidence in your position is astonishing. I am completely wrong. Thanks. =) that sure encourages conversation!

I am just providing you with clear guidance. Black Pedro spent an hour responding to you and you didn’t listen to him, either.

Your confidence in your position is no less than my own.

I have never been ganked at Jita undock either.

Those triglvians are not evil enough! They should not only gank freighters and haulers but kill the cargo too.

That way the economy is saved and nobody wins.

To be clear, I didn’t call your post “self-serving”. You clearly put a lot of thought and effort into your post. However, the Eve forums have a 17 year history and most of those ideas have been presented by someone who has just lost a ship to pirates, and runs immediately to the forum to ask the rules of the game re-written in their favour.

You need to step back some I think. I get you seem to be sticking to “realism” to design your game, but you really have to have a clear conception of how your game should work. Let’s start here: Do you want piracy against merchant ships to be a thing in your game? Really, do you want this?

If so, then you immediately have an issue. The only place haulers are ever vulnerable to other players is outside stations and gates under the current mechanics. On the undock ( they are vulnerable), they jump a gate and then need to align to the next one (vulnerable), and then maybe briefly on docking they are vulnerable again. If gates and stations are safe, or even retrieve the loot as you propose, where would a pirate ply their trade?

So if you are going to claim you are seeking “balance” your ideas actually need to have aspects that buff the pirate, or at least change the system fundamentally so piracy is still possible, not just make it harder for the other guy to play the game as intended. Like if you want to move piracy off gates/stations because it offends your sense of realism, then you’d need to propose an alternative place for interaction. Maybe the pirate can, with difficulty, pull the hauler out of warp? You could then make gates/stations safe as there would be a place/mechanism for piracy.

But honestly, I’m not sure you are really past the first question. If you answer no, piracy isn’t a good thing for Eve in highsec, then I still maintain you are making your problem too difficult. Just ask CCP, or the CSM to ask CCP, to lock the aggression toggle to green. Problem solved.

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