In addition, CCP announced that they will nerf players' ability to raise their security status by removing "cycle ratting". Basically, this means that players can't speed up security status gains by killing rats in multiple systems. This nerf will be partially offset by allowing a security status gain once every five minutes, regardless of system, instead of every fifteen minutes ("ticks" were twelve minutes when I used to rat, but everyone says fifteen, so whatevs).
The practical effect of these changes is actually somewhat unclear. In the comments section of the article, Powers Sa of Goonswarm's Miniluv estimated that the replacement of cycle ratting with a 5-minute limit will roughly double the amount of time it takes to raise sec status. But one must also add Tags4Sec into the mix. How rare/expensive will the tags be? Will buying tags add to the ever-increasing cost of suicide ganking, or will they be common/cheap enough to make raising sec status trivial? Adding to the complexity is the fact that there will be different tags for increasing sec status in different ranges. Will it become much more costly to raise sec status from -10 up to -8, as opposed to going from -2 to 0?
Based on CCP's historic pattern, one might guess that they'll initially go overboard with the new feature, putting tag-rats everywhere in lowsec, making them extremely cheap. Then, having seen the effect of a relatively small number of sec-grinders buying from the vast pool of tags, CCP will nerf the tags to make them more expensive. But this is all speculation.
At this point, you might be wondering what the big deal is. That's because I have committed not one, but two journalistic crimes in this post. The first crime was to have a headline that ends with a question mark. The second crime was to bury the lede. I feel justified in the committing the later crime because sometimes a bit of background information is helpful in effectively communicating the "important" part, which saves time in the long run. Besides, if you're reading blog posts about EVE (or indeed, playing EVE at all), you can't really be too pressed for time. Anyway, while most of the conversation in the EVE community has centered on the subjects I've just addressed, the far more significant announcement in the Fanfest presentation had to do with "Concord standings". Here's the brief mention from the TheMittani.com article:
"The first announced change was the splitting of security status from CONCORD standings. Currently CONCORD standing and security status are the same thing. After Odyssey CONCORD standings will be reset to 0 for all players and will function as standings, just like any other faction present in the game. It was stated that this will have relatively little effect for the moment, but offers CCP the freedom to program "interesting things" in future. Please note this is NOT a resetting of security status, which will remain consistent."Before I delve into the significance of this, a brief diversion: Sec status affects players in two different ways. The first, near and dear to our hearts, relates to suicide ganking in highsec. Once your sec status drops below -2, you begin to be shut out from flying freely through highsec systems. You can still warp your pod around, but you are attackable by all players and, more significantly, faction police will tackle and destroy you if you remain in the same place for too long. This is the reason why some gankers (such as Miniluv) periodically restore their sec status. Others, like the Knights of the Order, design their operation around gank alts with permanent -10 sec status.
The second affect of sec status has to do with lowsec players. If you attack anyone in lowsec who isn't a wardec target, you'll lose sec status. The penalty isn't as great, but it still eventually shuts lowsec players out of operating freely in highsec. The difference is that Concord isn't present in lowsec. A lowsec player can reach -10 sec status without ever having suicide ganked a miner. Indeed, you can be a model citizen in highsec and still have a bad rap, simply by being an active lowsec player.
There isn't any good reason for this kind of treatment for lowsec players, and it's one of the reasons why lowsec became the red-headed stepchild of the EVE galaxy. Personally, I think they should remove all sec status penalties for lowsec actions. You might recall from my debate with Ripard Teg on my CSM platform that even he agreed with some of my opinions on sec status grinding, particularly where lowsec is concerned.
This brings us to CCP's plans to divide sec status from Concord status. According to my long-standing theory on the carebearization of EVE, CCP has been incrementally removing all risk from highsec, for the purpose of making EVE a more welcoming place for the mainstream, theme park MMO players who have made so many other computer companies rich. My theory further states that CCP knows from past experience that it cannot create a theme park in highsec in one fell swoop without risking the wrath of its existing playerbase, so they must do it step-by-step and disguise their intentions along the way.
In the past, we've discussed a lot of the changes to suicide ganking, can-flipping, and wardecs that have occurred along the way. More recently, we've talked about the debate that has already taken place among CCP and the CSM about whether to remove non-consensual wardecs entirely. My theory also predicts that despite suicide ganking of mining ships occurring at an all-time low, CCP will be tempted to take further steps toward eliminating suicide ganking altogether.
Based on that prediction, I and other like-minded individuals have paid special attention to anything that might diminish the ability of EVE players to perform suicide ganks while at -10 sec status. In particular, I have been watchful for any hints that CCP might buff faction police or make Concord response time variable according to sec status. (Incidentally, both of these changes have been proposed by carebear advocates of a risk-free highsec in whine threads on EVE-O.) Such changes would be especially harmful because most suicide gankers have been forced to operate at -10 sec status, thanks to all the previous nerfs to ganking.
CCP's announcement that they will be splitting sec status from Concord standings (without telling us anything about why they're doing it) is exactly the kind of thing I have been on the lookout for. The article on TheMittani.com quotes CCP as saying "this will have relatively little effect for the moment, but offers CCP the freedom to program 'interesting things' in future." Let's consider the kind of interesting things CCP might do with the new feature.
The most obvious use for the new Concord standings is to program variable Concord response time. For example, a player with a Concord standing of 0 might get the default amount of time to perform a suicide gank, but a player with -10 could be stopped by Concord within a few short seconds. This would effectively spell the end of DPS-based suicide ganking as we know it. Alpha-based suicide ganking could be eliminated if low Concord standings allow preexisting Concord squads (such as those milling around the Jita gate) to open fire on criminals before they commit a Concordable offense.
CCP could argue that it's not really a nerf to ganking, perhaps by allowing people with higher Concord standings to have more than the default time to commit a gank. But in practice, anyone who performs suicide ganks does more than one gank in the lifetime of a character. Before long, any ganker would find himself with low Concord standings and at the mercy of whatever new nerf is planned.
To the extent that gankers could adapt to the change, they would need to do it by abandoning their -10 lifestyle. A determined ganker might respond by saying, "Welp, time to buy a bunch of tags or grind sec status." Depending on how the Tags4Sec system shakes out, this might be practical, or it might be effectively impossible. But that's where the splitting of Concord status and sec status really comes into play.
Remember, CCP announced said that sec status and Concord standings will be completely separate. They have not said anything about being able to increase one's Concord standings with the new tags--only sec status. They have not said anything about how Concord standings may be raised, or even whether they can be raised at all.
By splitting Concord standings from sec status, CCP will be able to treat suicide gankers very differently from the lowsec community. Recall, for example, the massive nerfs to suicide ganking that occurred after the Jihadswarm campaign of several years ago. In those days, CCP attempted to limit ganking by increasing the sec status penalties and making them more of a burden to grind. Suppose CCP wanted to do something like this again. It wouldn't merely affect the suicide gankers; it would also affect everyone in lowsec. But now, by dividing sec status from Concord standings, CCP could punish the gankers without touching the lowsec players.
We might imagine, for instance, cheaply-available tags that help lowseccers increase their sec status, and ultra-rare Concord tags that allow suicide gankers to increase their Concord standings only for a high price. CCP could allow ratting to raise sec status as normal, but make Concord standings unaffected by ratting. Alternatively, they could make ratting raise sec status at a decent rate, but make Concord standings creep up only in very small amounts. The result would be that gankers operating at a permanent -10 would be neutered by faster Concord reaction times, while gankers who grind standings would be subject to a more burdensome Concord standing grind. Meanwhile, the lowsec crowd would have no incentive to join the ganking community in opposing these changes, because they would have an easier time restoring sec status.
Of course, this is all speculation. On the other hand, speculation only ends when the official decision has already been made. By the time a new system has been announced, it will be too late. In the meantime, consider the following: Aside from creating a new way to nerf gankers and make highsec safer, are there any other possible reasons for the new system? And if there are potentially "good" uses for the system, why hasn't CCP said anything about them?