The Darkness at the End of the Tunnel

Where are you going?"

"If I told you, you'd never let me go."

Greetings, warriors, mission runners, pirates, miners and hapless victims!  I'm not sure if you've heard or not but we've got a new expansion coming out that has these things called wormholes.  This blog is intended to help familiarize you with what you can expect from this new feature and try to remove some, but not all, of the grey area. Before we begin, I want to clarify a couple terms you are going to see throughout this blog:

K-space = Known Space, the current systems of New Eden.  These are the systems where, depending on your play style, you run your missions, mine your rocks or just plain bash the crap out of each other on a daily basis.

W-space = this is Wormhole Space. This is where the wormholes will take you, should you be brave enough to scan one down and enter it.

So, where are these wormholes?

Well, they are all around you!  They are not limited to just one area of space.  You can find them in every class of system in EVE.  Chances are if you go out looking for one that you will find one in short order by using the new scanning system that CCP Greyscale will explain in greater detail in another blog.  What you are searching for will look somewhat like this:

Now, it might be that this particular wormhole takes you on a trip directly to another K-space system but bear in mind that the end destination is going to be random.  It will most likely to take you somewhere within the same security class as you started (hisec, lowsec or nullsec) but there is always enough of a random chance that it could land you anywhere. A wormhole stumbled upon in Jita might link to New Caldari (bah!) or to Rens (profit!) or to Rancer (yikes!).

The other place you can end up is what I'm sure you all really want to hear about: W-space.

Descent into Darkness

W-space is where the wonder begins.  It is where the riches are.  It is where the monsters lurk.  Out here is where you will find things you've never seen before in EVE.  Some will amaze you while others will probably make you wish you'd left your faction-fit Nightmare docked back in the comparative safety of ‘normal' space.

Of course, not all wormholes are created equal. If you enter a wormhole in a hi-sec system you'll likely end up in the W-space version of the shallow end of the kiddie pool.  Enemies here are still quite a challenge compared to ‘normal' NPC's, but if you've made it this far then you're prepared for that, right?  Proper preparation, a well fit ship and maybe a few friends along will allow you to explore with confidence.

However, no matter where you start, there is always the risk that you will land down in the deep end.  This is more apt to happen when your entry point is low or null sec.  Regardless of where you come from, if you enter, be careful what you awaken. Out here, the NPCs are big, angry and carry around baseball bats with nails in them.  Obviously they are also guarding the most lucrative rewards.

Lack of foresight out here will result in you being in a pod and having to rely upon a friend to use his probe launcher (he did fit one, right??) to help you find a way home.  This is not an altogether easy thing either.

While there will always be a way ‘out' of whatever W-space system you are in, there are no guarantees that it will take you where you want to go.  The mechanic is deliberately designed so that you can get lost and it may take some time for you to escape back to K-space with whatever treasures you've managed to salvage.  The only sure fire option that will get you where you want to go is to eject in your pod and clone jump home the old fashioned way.

One additional point - none of the above takes into account the other intrepid explorers who you might run across... or who might run across you at the worst possible time.  Don't bother glancing at your ‘Local' chat channel; out here in the darkness, the only warning you will get is what your eyes or your scanners give you.

This is what true exploration is all about.

The ‘Mass' Effect

In the end, everything about wormholes comes down to one factor - mass. You can think of the ‘mass budget' of a wormhole much the same as fuel in car; once it's empty, everything stops.  Wormholes become more and more unstable as things pass through them, things like your starship.  Once a certain threshold is passed, the wormhole collapses and hopefully you are on the side you want to be when this happens because there is no going back and you'll have to find a new way home.

There are several ‘indicators' that can assist you in determining if a wormhole is close to closing.  For one thing, as a wormhole's mass budget is reduced you will actually see them get physically smaller.  Additionally, you can always right-click and ‘Show Info' on any wormhole and be presented with the following information:

The text in the information box is dynamic and changes as the stability of the wormhole is altered.

Wormholes come in different ‘sizes'.  In simple terms this means that your ship may not always fit into the wormhole you find.  Wormholes have a maximum ship mass that can transit through them.  This prevents ‘bad things' from happening like... a squadron of carriers ending up in Jita or something.  This will present you with some interesting dilemmas if you are in W-space looking for a way out.  Not every ‘exit' may be one you can use!

As a wormhole's mass budget does not regenerate, any expedition into W-space will require careful forethought.  A wormhole may be a two-way street but every passage deducts from the overall budget.  This means that once you commit to an exploration and go through there are no ‘do-overs'.  Be sure of what you want to take with you.

Lastly, there is one other factor that affects wormhole stability and that is time.  Once you find a wormhole that you want to use, you will need to move swiftly to take advantage of it as all wormholes have a maximum stable lifetime after which they will collapse whether anyone has gone through them or not.

Laws of W-space

As fun as it is to let you find out things for yourselves, there are a few things that I need to tell you without being ‘mysterious'.

  • Starbases are allowed to be anchored in W-space but cannot claim sovereignty.  Additionally, there are no minable moon minerals in W-space.
  • The wormholes into W-space are too small to allow the transit of Titans and Motherships.  All dreams of Quad-DDing a Sleeper fleet, as much as they might deserve it, are now shattered. (Awww!)
  • Even though you can bring your Rorquals into W-space, their clone vat bay functionality will be unavailable.
  • You cannot activate a cynosural beacon in W-space nor can you activate your jump drive (on those ships equipped with one) to escape.

Tactical Environments

Oh, yeah... one last bit of info.  Far too often does the dangerous turn mundane so we've introduced a final element that lends itself to destabilizing that.  As I've said, in W-space you will see things you've never seen in EVE before.  Black Holes, Pulsars and Red Giants are just some of these wonders.

So when you enter a wormhole system and see something ‘unusual' off your port bow, proceed with the knowledge that some of the things you know about how your ship performs may no longer be true. Your ship drives may push you faster, your weapons may hit harder, you may find yourself with no shields or less effective armor... and just when you think you've got it all figured out, things may change again!

Welcome to W-space and enjoy your stay... however long it might be!

  • Abathur