Disparity and Stagnation

July 28, 2018 - Personal


Let’s talk about disparity and stagnation.

We’ll ignore for a moment that even the most paltry capsuleer is still in the top one percent of the top one percent of New Eden in this particular ramble of mine, and consider these things from within the framework of capsuleerdom in general. Within this framework we span the range from said paltry weakling gently pecking at rocks in a Venture, through the great warlords or industrialists in the Outer Regions commanding wealth and power beyond the wildest imaginations of that hopeful little morsel. Even within our one percent of the one percent, we have our own vast spectrum that tends to mirror the rest of New Eden in much the same way. A whole lot of meaningless rabble, maybe ten percent of mediocre capsuleers and one or two percent that holds the great majority of capsuleer assets and wealth.

This disparity has pretty much always been a feature of human civilization. A few will greatly benefit from ninety-nine others and rise so far above that they become pretty much unassailable by both law, morality and more. What’s more, many of those ninety-nine will cheer and applaud this, having been deluded into thinking they too have a chance to rise. This is often compounded by that delightfully disgusting phenomenon where their malevolence and hates are applied to those of their own or lower classes instead of the pinnacles who are the real causes of their woes.

That’s not the subject of today, however, even if it’s a subject very well worth spending time on some other day. Today we’ll be looking at how that balance has changed, and how in our context this is far less of an unambiguously good thing than it would appear on the surface.

Not too long ago, New Eden changed. The wealth needed to pursue combat operations among capsuleers was once something you could attain through that very activity. POCO Empires, moon mining towers and such were the rewards for flexing combat capability and would nicely fund capsuleer combat entities who could then become the catalysts for development and capsuleer politics themselves. You could have warlords focusing on exactly that, perpetually honing their crafts without distraction and tertiary tedium. While reviled by some, for a while even by me, this is something I now think back on very fondly. We didn’t understand how good we had it, basically. Industrialists were still vitally important and their power was undoubtedly part of the one percent of the one percent, but at the same time you could have the exact same relevancy and strength as a combat entity without it.

Then things changed. Roughly three things in particular, each representing – and reinforcing each other – a piece of one whopping big problem for New Eden’s capsuleer demographic and future. Let’s have a look at them in no particular order, then bring them together at the end:

Rorquals changed. The greatest ore/hr per capsuleer was in recent history the Hulk. It could during the absolutely highest end performance possible with full support and boosts conceivably pull in around 70-80 m3/s of Ore. A Rorqual today, self-supporting and boosting, without needing other haulers etc can easily pull in twice that at 150-160 m3/s of Ore. Per capsuleer. That variable is quite important, keep it in mind. Per Capsuleer. It’s one of the most important bottlenecks any activity in capsuleerdom deals with, because while two Typhoons can match a HAW Dread in damage output at a fraction of the cost, you’d need twice as many capsuleers for it, as a quick and dirty example. At a higher end of any activity, capsuleer numbers become one of the greatest multipliers, especially once ISK starts mattering less.

Adding to this, you’ll find that this also has other multiplier variables. Rorquals live in the Colossals and R64s. The highest end ores, in the highest end – read ‘limitless’ – amounts, harvested at the greatest rates and paradoxically at the greatest levels of safety possible. Even the intrepid highsec miner faces greater threats than a Rorqual with a super fleet at their beck and call. In short, the sheer amount of Ore which is the foundation of almost all industry and ship manufacture in New Eden has exploded to an unfathomable degree.

Which brings us to problem number two. Super proliferation. Fuck me, even I – the Queen of Dumpstertown – own two of the damn things. If that doesn’t tell you something is wrong with New Eden today, nothing will. This is a problem that’s partly caused by the above Rorqual proliferation, and partly because of an aging and richer capsuleer population. Why is this a problem, though? Well, because of a few things. One, it does to ISK what the Rorqual does to Ore. One of the greatest sources of ISK flow in capsuleerdom is bounties. CONCORD will helpfully print you a million or so for every ‘outlaw’ battleship you kill, and they are absolutely swarming in the Outer Regions. You know what kills those things faster than damn near anything else? Super Carriers. The actual ISK flow in question seems to depend on several factors, but I hear anything from 150m/hr to 300m/hr depending on how badly people exaggerate and lie. Either way, it’s a significant amount and it’s widespread. There’s a lot of super carriers out there and a lot of them are running 24/7.

Secondly, they’re a problem when so proliferated because they represent a large shift in assailability. The “barrier to entry” to go out and carve a piece of anything for yourself has been raised so far that your only real option is to let yourself be subsumed into the gargantuan bloated growths of the vast coalitions and alliances, because otherwise you’re going to be facing those super blobs without any of of them at your back. They – and the Rorquals – thus represent a huge incentive to amalgamate and congeal into the giant identity-less growths that will protect you out there, while at the same time representing a deterrent from maintaining your own identity and a diverse ecosystem of capsuleer entities in the Outer Regions. Even something as simple as maintaining your own culture becomes an impossibility as such large numbers force the lowest common denominator to be the acceptable norm.

There’s a lot more to be said on both of those, but for the sake of brevity let’s go for the third. Moon Mining changed. It didn’t use to require much in the way of effort, really. You set up the towers, you kept them fueled and protected, and went around to harvest the moongoo every once in a while. It was one of those things I personally railed against once upon a time. I had no liking for the fact that it required so little work, yet benefitted those who already were the ‘one percent’ almost exclusively. It maintained the status quo I so hated. Dear oh dear how wrong I was. It’s not that I was wrong in principle, but I was most assuredly wrong in what the end result of shaking this up would be.

Today, moon mining happens by plonking down a honking great refinery in immediate vicinity of the moon, then you shoot the fucking thing until a large chunk falls off, then you go eat the rocks with Rorquals. Or possibly Ventures. Depends on the owners, of course. This sounds great in theory. If you want the benefit, you have to work for it.

This is a great principle, in theory. You want the benefit in the capsuleer society, you have to put in the work to earn it. Almost a universally good principle to have. The problem comes in the type of activity it is, and the fact that it is pretty much mandatory if you are to rise above even mediocrity as a capsuleer entity. It’s, to put it in the vernacular, bearing. Carebearing. Rock huffing. Whatever. I personally employ several industrialists and I adore them to bits. They are where a lot of my assets and wealth come from and New Eden benefit from their existence.

This is, however, not a universal thing. I personally couldn’t stare at a single rock more, or I would tear my capsuleer implant out with a trowel and throw myself into the nearest star after cancelling my clone contracts. I loathe it. A lot of us out there do. Today though, it is a requirement. A necessity. Not for each individual capsuleer, oh no. For any entity that wishes to do anything of note, however? It is absolutely mandatory.

Let’s go back to the past, shall we? There were all manner of capsuleer entities, all making their own mark upon New Eden. You had mercenaries. You had roving warbands. You had industrial empires. Renter tyrannies. Mad anarchists, suspiciously well organized. You could have your own identity and approach to capsuleerdom and still make an impact. You could be you, and stand equal to anyone else as long as you did what you did with skill and strength.

Then, these three problems came together, reinforced each other… and became one great big honking problem for New Eden capsuleerdom: There’s no real identity left. Oh, the Goons will vomit their particular brand of blurf on the various galnet portals. PL will “elite” chestbeat and sneer their arrogance around. Test and Brave both cultivating the image of funnily incompetent yet successful ventures, and so on. Every group will portray an identity and yet… have none that isn’t exactly the same as the rest of them anymore.

They’re all the same, because they have to be. You can’t be a mercenary group anymore, because it doesn’t pay the bills for the mandatory super blobs. You can’t be a roving warband, because that too no longer pays the bills. You can’t be X, Y or Z, because these two things are mandatory to maintain even a semblance of relevance and capacity: Rorquals, in Colossals and Refineries. Supers, in Havens and Blobs.

What started out as an apparent attempt at leveling some of the playing field, by removing certain “passive” incomes for entities in space, ended up further increasing the power and wealth disparity in New Eden’s capsuleerdom and in the same fell swoop killed off a whole range of potential paths capsuleers could take as collective entities.

I witnessed this change personally. I’ve seen the end of warbands and mercenaries, now for all intents and purposes renters and bears. There were aspects of this that had great intentions, I am sure. Space needs to be lived in and utilized to earn the most out of it, good. You have to put in the work to reap the benefits, good. Wealth disparity has changed, as more and more capsuleers reach the ‘ceiling’ of income, through Super proliferation and the Rorqual boom. … good? eeeh.

… that it all ended up killing off the diversity and vastly raised the barrier for entry into effective capsuleerdom, is frankly worth mourning at this point. I know more than one capsuleer who is losing their taste for the capsuleer careers, as every Outer Region group becomes an amorphous blob painted a slightly different color than the other identical amorphous blob of Rorquals and Supers and Keepstars and so on. It’s even vastly increased the risk aversity, as each grand blob knows that the other grand blobs can respond to any commitment of assets with a never-ending escalation neither side truly wants. If you want to be relevant, you need the Rorquals, the Supers and the Blobs. If you want to stay relevant… you don’t want to risk them.

Wealth Disparity is definitely still a thing in New Eden, even if lessened a bit, so we didn’t even gain anything when we paid this price.

The price of Identity, Diversity, and being who YOU were could be enough for you to make an impact.

So who are you? Something with an identity, meaningless on any appreciable scales? Or another subsumed speck in an entity that can move mountains, but couldn’t differentiate themselves from any other to save their lives, perhaps. This can only lead to one thing, and it’s a specter that has haunted New Eden for some time now in other places too.


And stagnation leads to decay.