Like Sugar outlined in her post EVE Radio kicked up a fuss on #tweetfleet with some sensationalist nonsense about something CCP would allegedly do during today's live event. All hogwash obviously, but it did spark the old should we change how Empire security works debate again.
So what relevant things does the security status of a system actually affect?
- Loyalty point reward payouts for missions (the lower the better, so a Level 4 in 0.5 rewards more LP then in a 0.9)
- CONCORD response times (the higher the better in 1.0 CONCORD responds fastest)
- The quality and likeliness of certain exploration content spawning.
- Size of asteroids and quality of ore available (correct me if this is wrong I've not been near a mining barge since 2008).
- Size and threat level (bounties) of rats.
- Spawns of security tag rats in lowsec.
Do any of these things drive meaningful conflict in empire (lowsec+hisec) space or provide real choices?
While in nullsec 'true sec' matters because -1.0 space is indeed more desirable for many things then -0.1 space and can thus act as a motivator for conflict, that mostly just doesn't apply at all to empire space as you can't really own it, or effectively control access to it.
And that brings me to the title of my blog post. I presume that way back in 2003 CCP had a good reason for the different levels of security status in empire space ranging from 0.1 to 1.0. But today, in 2013, in practice they're nothing more then an artefact really. They affect nothing meaningful other then perhaps CONCORD response times and with the instant scramming CONCORD does these days even that is mostly theoretical. If you're serious about ganking you just keep adding Tornados/Catalysts/Taloses until you reach the required alphastrike or DPS number to gank whatever it is you want to gank within the alloted response-time. When organized gankers really want something dead it will die regardless of security status.
So how would I change this?
I'd separate Empire space into 3 distinct regions. Policed Empire Sovereignty (current 0.5-1.0), Unpoliced Empire Sovereignty (current non-FW 0.1-0.4), Empire Warfare Space (current FW-space). And it would work something like this;
Policed Empire Sovereignty: CONCORD protected with a set response time (pick a good median and roll with it, clarity is nice). It would pretty much be identical to present day high sec.
Unpoliced Empire Sovereignty: Policing mechanics would be identical to current day lowsec, but the representatives of the empires would be present in the form of a new set of exploration anomalies similar to DED plexes. These new plexes would have empire faction spawns and drops (so they'd drop things like say a Navy Apocalypse BPC or a 5 run Federation Web BPC etc for a high end site) and they would incur all the standing hits associated with shooting at empire NPC's. That would provide 'pirate PvE content' and decent income to these areas while at the same time devaluing the worth of highsec LP (through increased supply of navy faction items coming out of lowsec). It would also add meaningful consequences to running said content as you would eventually get hunted by faction police in highsec when you drop below -5.0 empire faction standings with an empire, being a lowsec PvE'er would therefore become an actual choice with actual rewards and consequences.
I would also up the spawn rate of wormholes leading directly to other parts of New Eden lowsec and 0.0 in these areas, so that with a little effort you'd be able to create interesting new roaming options every 24 hours or so from these parts of space.
Empire Warfare Space: Current day Faction Warfare space, which I would leave largely unchanged as the mechanics for it seem to be working fairly well. Though I'd tone down the LP rewards for the missions and plexes a little and up them significantly for PvP kills.