About a week ago, CCP announced some tentative broad strokes about moon resource harvesting. The dev blog can be found here, and it’s worth reading before taking a look at the rest of this article.
Essentially, moon mining will change from a passive activity punctuated by someone emptying a silo or refueling a POS once a week or so, to a passive activity punctuated by someone mining a moon goo belt once every week or so. The difference is that before, this was a mostly safe activity for the guy hauling the goo. Now… not so much.
What’s this mean? More rorqs in belts, most likely. CCP hasn’t released many specifics yet, but people that have been around a while can figure out that, in most locations, a rorq fleet supported with combat ships will be the best way to clear the belts fast. It also means more timezone tanking, unless CCP makes a tweak to allow moon goo belt spawns only during sov vulnerability windows. How that would work in lowsec is anyone’s guess, though. Perhaps lowsec could use a “spawn whenever” mechanic- that might actually bring back some lowsec content, or at least provide an impetus to inhabit lowsec more.
It also means that POS shoots are going to give way to miner shoots. Personally, shooting a fleet of miners sounds like it’ll get boring quick, and it’s not at all comparable to a POS as a future conflict driver. I’m not sure what other tricks CCP has up their sleeve, but I hope they’re good, or pitched battles over resources are going to go the way of the Dodo. Imagine it: you gank someone’s miner fleet, and then… what? Bring in your own? This might work in shallow nullsec regions like Provi (or it might not) but in deep nullsec, all you’re going to do is kill a mining fleet and be left staring at a pile of moon rocks. That’s already being done, albeit with mineral asteroids instead. Worse still, their mining fleet could just warp out and you’re left staring at… rocks. Wow. Sounds like fun.
On the flip side I could be completely wrong and we’ll start to see heavily tanked bait/cyno mining fleets with a support fleet sitting quietly on a titan a few light years away. For the defender, that sounds like fun. Or even worse than either of these, moon goo mining becomes routine, something that nobody really cares about and that everyone takes for granted. We wind up with power creep in the form of cratered t2 hull prices as people figure out how to min/max the new system.
So, I’m not overly optimistic about the moon mining changes providing good gameplay, unless CCP really sits down and listens to all of the somewhat thoughtful comments that have already popped up on Reddit (yes, they’re really out there, although it’s hard to imagine). Sure, it’ll be fun at first, but after the initial period, we’ll see all sorts of strategies to bore people. I don’t see why CCP couldn’t just leave in place the existing mechanic of gathering 100 units of moon goo per hour, but migrate that mechanic over to a new structure. Then we still get something to “fight” over.
I know people will now spout off the arguments about “passive top-down income” but those arguments are crap. First of all, it’s not passive income. Fueling and hauling take time, effort and usually a pretty good logistics network for the moon’s owner. Second, there are already loads and loads of bottom-up income sources in the game. Ratting, PI, asteroid mining, trading, building, and reactor farms are all sources of ISK that are attainable by individuals, generally speaking. Do we really need another bottom-up income source? Why trade away the content generator that good moons provide for more mining frenzies? Where is the need for such a drastic change?
While we sit and ponder over that side of the moon mining changes, the other side of moon goo- reactions- is going to get an equally radical makeover. Before, reactions were handled at a POS configured for reactions, using an interface that can only be described as one step better than outpost management. Aside from the interface, the mechanics of reactions gave a POS operator lots of creativity to squeeze as much out of the fittings of a large tower as possible. There are the standard fits for the people who aren’t crazy and actually have a life, and then there are the ~~alternative fits~~ like the triple-reactor setups, or the double-complex-reactor setups that people with OCD love to compulsively check in between hand washings and making sure their doors are locked. That all (likely) goes away with the new changes, and with it, a bit of challenging complexity that made reactions a lot of fun for those who took the time to learn them. I guarantee CCP isn’t thinking of making the new reaction system anything like the old. I’m just hoping they consider all the things, including alchemy and a rig for scrapmetal reprocessing when they finally roll out these “new and improved” refineries.
I understand that the POS code has to go, but that doesn’t mean this gameplay style has to die as well. CCP could keep the existing mechanics and incorporate everything over to a new structure. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Image found at https://www.reddit.com/r/Eve/comments/1h12mq/game_of_moons/ , author unknown