Calling out Sugar Kyle on booster contraband status

I struggle with writing anything coherent about things I don’t care about much, or have little stake in. However, there are a couple niche areas of the game that I value very highly. For the past year that now includes all things boosters (combat drugs, not the off grid kind). The harvesting, production and black market sales of these in game items, and the fact that a game has mechanics to allow for virtual “dealing” has increased my immersion and enjoyment of Eve Online. It’s a career path in Eve that is deceptively easy to get into, but has great depth once you progress through it. Backroom chats, covert mining, complex (unintuitive) lowsec production, PvE and diplomacy all play a role. It also makes use of the contract system beyond alliance pre-fit ships and firesales. Harvesting materials even gives a tangible reason for pilots to venture out into nullsec for something other than a sov grind (#contentcreation).

In my last post before letting this blog fade away, Fanfest had just occurred. I noticed in a lowsec roundtable recap that booster contraband status was mentioned as being something that should be changed, specifically removing contraband status outright. At the time a few corp mates and I approached Sugar Kyle to point out that there would be collateral damage if contraband status is removed and boosters are easily moved around. A dialogue was briefly opened and discussion occurred before fading away during the summer lull. Bigger things such as Aegis sov were still being hammered out.

As seen in this post it appears removing contraband status for boosters is still on Sugar Kyle’s to-do list. I’d like to publicly reopen the discussion on changing these mechanics and voice my opposition to the removal of contraband status.

I want to preemptively state that any readers thinking that I’m arguing from a position of self preservation and fighting change are absolutely correct. However, boosters aren’t exactly big business when factoring in overhead and removing contraband status would mean more sales and more money to current sellers. Anyone in booster production knows that selling product is the big bottleneck in the business. This post by Charlinda Akheteru, a newcomer to booster production, illustrates the struggles of finding customers for a new producer on the market.

While I’m arguing against removing contraband status, I do welcome a change of mechanics. Many ideas have been floated around in the past: the ability for players to act as customs agents, more complex AI on customs NPCs (addition of Drifter chasing AI), cargo bay scan strength mechanic to add fitting decisions for ships wanting to move contraband (and the removal of complete scan immunity on blockade runners), a more dynamic and complex fining mechanic that doesn’t pull from the regional market and allows the use of force to escape customs officers. Anything that’s a change to the system is preferable to gutting the contraband mechanic with no replacement.

The current system as it stands is not very sexy, but it does one thing correctly. It has spurred the creation of a black market of items that are often, but not exclusively, bought and sold through face to face interaction between buyers and sellers without the buffer of market orders in NPC stations. I simply cannot support the homogenization of boosters into the general market simply so players can buy and use them as easily as ammunition, no matter how lucrative it could make boosters.

The argument that the current mechanics are broken or unusable doesn’t hold water. There are whole corps that have made a living selling boosters black market style. The biggest crime of the mechanics is that they are opaque, vaguely defined and hard to understand. That pretty much explains the vast majority of Eve, and is something that can be changed without scrapping the mechanics.

Sugar Kyle is one of my favorite personalities within the community and has been a great CSM. I’m not thrilled to be so vehemently opposed to a cause that she has championed but I truly believe she is missing the mark here. The short term gain of ‘boosters for everyone!’ is negated by the dispersing of niche communities and markets that are healthy for the game. Communities that I have been a part of for a year and have vested interest in keeping healthy.

-Zenshift

PS- Any reader that has a comment about this please feel free to evemail the character Zenshift in game. If you’re interested in purchasing boosters, join Narcotics channel in game.

 

 

 

 

 

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3 thoughts on “Calling out Sugar Kyle on booster contraband status”

  1. I’m always happy to listen to reasons for and against things and appreciate a clearly written opinion on booster restriction.

    It has been a common complaint where booster restrictions create awkward situations where a player cannot contract a ship due to the contraband inside of its cargo hold.

    The question, as I see it, is does the restrictions on boosters create good content around boosters. In this, you say yes due to the interactions and black market. Others say no due to contract restrictions and the frustration of movement. The thing that I’d want to explore is what increases usage and player experimenting and usage of boosters to enhance their gameplay.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I appreciate you coming on here to respond. I was hoping the post wasn’t antagonistic to the point of shutting down any possibility of furthering the conversation. Thankfully that doesn’t appear to be the case.

      As a member of Es and Whizz I have been introduced to booster dealing, a player created career path in Eve that’s fairly underground. We make use of private wtb contracts set to characters within the corporation and dealers then have the option of purchasing from corp stock and flying the boosters to the destination on the buyers contract. Each individual deal can be lucrative, depending on the type sold but the balancing factor is that the number of deals per player is restricted to, at most, few per week. Personally, my view is the limited amount of sales is fine and there doesn’t have to be 1k units sold a day if the trade off is boosters are as easily bought, moved and sold as any other item in game.

      One issue I have when reading that devs and CSM members are pitching an idea of less restricted boosters to cheering players is that I feel like there is a lack of understanding that this isn’t the same thing as re-balancing a type of faction ammo because it isn’t used much. Boosters aren’t items that nobody bothers with because they are useless. The scarcity comes from the production and movement mechanics and there is a whole community based around providing the service of producing and moving them around, relying on a loose collection of game mechanics that create gameplay that “feels” like the player is a smuggler. As a niche community, booster producers have been silent up until now and that was a mistake. Hopefully we can change that now.

      Believe me, I understand the issues a pvper who wants to undock in something bigger than a frigate with drugs in the hold from a market hub and get through gates has with the current mechanics. I understand that the lack of public and open contracts for contraband items feels restrictive and ridiculous. I’m just not convinced that full unrestricted access to boosters is a particularly compelling idea in and of itself. From a balance standpoint, does Eve need boosters to become part of every pvp situation, from frig 1v1s to docking games in high sec? Are you going to be “doing it wrong” if you don’t have boosters in the cargo bay?

      I remember for a brief period when rigs were introduced, there was a scarcity to them and the decision wasn’t t1 over t2 to add hull cost, it was to add rigs to one ship or the other at all. Rigs are a completely different type of item and I think it is fine for them to be what they are now but I did like that scarcity and the idea of adding a big cost to gain an advantage. There was some risk involved in each fitting decision, and more felt at stake. Boosters have that type of gameplay for me in the very nature of the mechanics behind them.

      For my money I believe that if we want to increase booster usage, I would support any changes as long as they maintain the black market style buying and selling. As a member of Es and Whizz, we deliver to any publicly dockable station for a price that is on par with Jita prices. We will take all the risk, and some of the mechanics are absolutely silly and arbitrary, and deliver right to an individual, corp’s or alliance’s doorstep. In my mind there are no excuses for people to throw their hands up and declare boosters completely broken other than many player’s lack of knowledge that boosters even exist. And as every Eve player knows, opaque game mechanics are one of the biggest issues within the game that affects even the most basic gameplay, so that’s part of a wider issue.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I think you really hit the nail on the head here. I’ve always really enjoyed the “depth” that exists in the booster market. I don’t do a lot of it now, but I used to run a few setups creating boosters and smuggling them through space was always a good bit of nerve racking fun. I agree that the mechanics need to change (I really like the idea of use of force against customs agents…that would be awesome). But yeah, to completely remove that aspect of the game completely would destroy a huge niche area of the game.

    Liked by 1 person

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