The Streams Must Flow
By now, we hope you have had a chance to read Greyscale and Abathur's blogs introducing the driving goals behind the sovereignty changes in Dominion as they both introduce what we want to talk about more in this blog and shed some more light and detail on some changes we are looking at to help us towards achieving our goals for null sec.
The focus of this blog is on streams, not the wet kind, but the revenue kind and how each of you, whether the alliance member exploring the depths of space for rich bounties, the alliance leader looking to fund your next big outpost/capital ship program or the empire dweller looking for a piece of the null sec pie will each be affected by Dominion.
The Revenue Streams of Null Sec and Alliances
Broadly, the revenue streams you will know are of two types: diffuse or point. They can be further categorized into Active or Passive.
A Diffuse Active source is the corporation taxes many of you may be used to in your own corporation. Here you are providing your corp with income from something you are actively doing, like hunting NPC pirates or reprocessing loot and ores in their stations.
A Diffuse Passive source would be the assembly line fees in a station, profits on manufacturing, for example, where it is a largely passive or low input activity providing diffuse income over a typically longer period.
Point Active sources in days gone by would have been things like the static 10/10 complexes. Point Passive are the moon mineral incomes or T2 production in pre-invention times.
Diffuse versus Point Sources
As many of you know, and history has shown us, point source revenue streams have been a constant issue and one that plagues us today. Still, they end up being many magnitudes larger than the potential profit of the diffuse income streams, especially where the effort or cost is minimal and fixed.
Point sources do act as geographical conflict drivers, true, but in both cases the issues arose because they were infinite sources, but, more importantly, they required very few people to operate them proportional to the benefit they bestowed.
In a game where the focus is on the sandbox and social interaction, this is generally bad as you have proverbial gold mines held by the few who no longer need the diffuse income streams of the many to fund themselves with and a cost/benefit ratio which redefines strategic assets as practically disposable items.
The ripple effects here are the most devastating in our eyes as it redefines how our precious playground is ruled and we need to ensure a stage where the props are fair and fun and anyone who tries can have a chance for great glory or astounding defeat.
But point sources are not the only problem!
The diffuse income sources are dependent upon things you cannot change currently. Things like the true security class of your space and the number of celestial belts in the system besides the additional chance of exploration sites being present or proximity to pirate NPC regions and agents.
This currently puts a limit on the amount of potential diffuse income as a function of the systems you occupy and the quality of those systems. You must either hold a lot of space or have alliance members fund themselves in various other ways beyond the lifeblood of the belts and the pirates which infest them.
Upgrading a solar systems material resources
With Dominion, we will allow you to increase the potential diffuse income sources in your space by allowing you to upgrade it. This will be explained in a far more detailed blog in the near future, but I can give an overview of it now.
You will be able to purchase and install upgrades in an infrastructure hub. These upgrades will unlock and add additional resources into your system, such as new hidden belts or encounters to complexes or escalation sites for you to find, thus increasing your potential diffuse income streams and theoretical member resource capacity of each system as a result.
Each upgrade will have a build cost in creating the upgrade and the resource upgrades themselves will have different pre-requisites, some of which will be activity-based, such as NPCs killed or ore mined within the system itself, which will add to the development index of the system. So in this instance, the more the solar system's resources are actively used, the faster your resource development will be, which in turn promotes you to properly invest in the space in terms of active pilots (whether concentrating your existing member base and allies, recruiting new members or making treaties with new allies) and make sure it is used to full benefit, depending on which upgrade level you are seeking or looking to maintain.
In the future, we envision that you will also be able to unlock more exotic types of resources. The system outlined above allows us to easily do this in the future as a great foundation of traditional bread-and-butter income streams combined later with, perhaps, some more exotic resource upgrades. We are sure many of you can imagine the possibilities we are thinking about, too (comets, dark matter, wormholes, space whales, etc.).
The moon mineral values and Tech II production still need some love though!
We quickly discovered the next bottleneck with Tech II production after invention was introduced was the static supply of moon minerals against a growing playerbase and a dynamic demand. The effect of this system has reared its ugly head with rapidly increasing prices and, therefore, moon values for the limiting factor materials. It is something we looked to tackle previously with the introduction of alchemy reactions. This was partially successful, but missed the mark in achieving the desired effect we were looking for.
The value of the moon minerals is based on two components: supply and demand. We can change either of these to affect the value to a greater or lesser degree, and many of you have made excellent suggestions in the past on the forums covering core issues, ranging from the infinite supply in each moon. to alternative build routes, for example, to new sources of moon materials.
The core issue is the very high value of the promethium and dysprosium moon materials which create a massive point source passive income and, to some extent, uneven demand with the other relatively cheap moon materials. Our proposed changes, therefore, target the distribution of this demand in a more direct way than alchemy achieved.
Changing the moon mineral demand
As mentioned during the recent alliance tournament interviews, our initial focus and fixes focused around the quantities of construction components required in Tech II ships. The original values are holdovers from days gone by when agents used to hand out components as rewards. The exact quantities were very similar, however, this has played the largest part in determining the moon mineral values we see today and is something we can fix relatively easily and look to reducing the value of some moon materials whilst increasing others.
More Plates, Less Reactors
The approach being taken is to reduce the quantity of construction components such as reactors, shield emitters and thrusters derived from dysprosium and promethium moon materials, for example, whilst increasing the quantities required of the more common and very cheap materials such as armor plates.
An example of the approach of this change is below, demonstrating a quantity change to our friend the enyo. (Note the numbers are only as a demonstration of the change and are not final!).
The effect ripples down from here to the simple and raw moon materials as a result of the change in advanced materials when applied to all the ships.
Coping with Increased Demand for the Common Materials
There will be more changes to come which build upon the core changes outlined here, such as adjustments to component build times and some adjustment to the armor plate materials to ensure that the system can cope with the increased demand for the most common materials without them becoming the new bottlneck. These changes will be detailed further in the test server forum and here in the comments to this blog later on.
Alchemy will be boosted
The profitability of alchemy and the initial values are all determined from current market value in reality (it is either profitable or not). With the above changes, alchemy reactions become unprofitable. The output will be changed, although this will need further tweaks to ensure there is an effective overflow pipe to respond to future market changes.
Future additional sources besides moons
Beyond Dominion, we are looking towards adding new sources of moon materials so that we will have a dynamic supply which can respond to the changing needs of the marketplace and help resolve the static supply issues we currently see. Some potential routes we have already mentioned previously here and are common suggestions on the forums. We are definitely looking hard at doing something cool here in the future along these lines.
We hope you better understand that our goal is to allow each solar system in null sec to have the potential to hold many more people per system in material resource terms (perhaps 50-100 when fully upgraded). As a result this will lead to the formation of micro-communities and diversity of life in each colony in effect and null sec being able to hold many more people which leads to a much more interesting political scene and ensuing drama.
Coupled with this focus on allowing you to upgrade the solar systems material resources, we are looking to reduce the value of in particular dysprosium and promethium moons through changes to Tech II production so alliances are once more reliant on more traditional income diffuse revenue streams and encouraged to recruit members and form treaties or hold less space.
Constructive feedback is welcome as ever on the proposals and overview of our goals for revenue streams in null sec.
Ave - Chronotis