Sunday, December 23, 2012

Alliance move completed; recruitment commences

After spending a month in the alliance Mildly Sober, No Fixed Abode made the step to the main alliance Mildly Intoxicated earlier this week. Mildly Intoxicated is smaller than our previous alliances, but this is mainly due to the fact that the industrial wing of 'Mildly' is concentrated in Mildly Sober. Combat pilots live in Mildly Intoxicated; those who are primarily non combatants remain in Mildly Sober. Taken together, Mildly Sober and Mildly Intoxicated are about the same size as LEGIO or SaS had when we joined them.

Mildly Intoxicated gained name recognition with the last Alliance Tournament, where they performed well, and they even got to shoot at CCP devs on SiSi in preparation of this tournament, too! Finally their name popped up again when news came out of the new Nulli Secunda led bloc in the south, of which Mildly Intoxicated is a part. We already knew them by the way, because one of our previous members ended up there and they used to be blue to us in Catch, until earlier this year.

Our move to Mildly Intoxicated marks an important moment in No Fixed Abode's history. I used to say: "we shoot rats, reds and 'roids". This is still true, but the main focus of our activities is now clearly the 'shoot reds' part. We still have industry, but it is no longer a core activity of our corporation; combat is. The funny thing is that this makes me CEO of a pvp corporation. Me, the non confrontational diplomat! This is clearly something I never expected, earlier in my eve career..

Yet, I think it's good to clearly define ourselves as a pvp corporation. It focuses our efforts and that should help with recruitment. We have a great team, we've become friends, but we could use a few decent guys! Having the numbers to run our own operations is a goal of ours, and I hope that having a clear focus on combat will help with recruiting those pilots. Focus, dedication and good killboard stats should help bring in the desired reinforcements :) If you think you would like to fly with us, eve mail me or join our public channel No Fixed Channel for a chat.

Monday, December 10, 2012

If you could own one Eve Online spaceship in real life..

..which one would it be?

It's something I think about every now and then, usually when I'm bored commuting from/to work. "Oh man", I'm thinking, "I'd rather be in a spaceship than on this train. But which one would I choose, if I could?"

Now that mankind may be a theoretical step closer to an actual warp drive, the question on how a warp capable space ship might look and work is more interesting than ever. And Eve Online's extensive range of vessels is an inspiring source of ideas in this regard! Apparently I'm not the only one who thinks along those lines:

TianCity is responsible for all marketing activities in China [...] They have done some really innovative things to make EVE more visible in China, including [...] having EVE featured in a CCTV (Chinese national television) program about militaries of the future, which included some high-ranking Chinese military officers talking about EVE spaceships.
..although, to be honest, I have no idea what these officers actually said about Eve's space ships!

Back the the question at hand: what Eve Online spaceship would you choose? The first warp driven space ships mankind builds (..if we ever succeed, of course) would probably be little more than an Eve Online shuttle: very limited in size and scope. But let's dream bolder dreams and look a bit further in the future..

It might be tempting to take some military vessel such as a Battleship or Battlecruiser, but I think I'd go with a cloaky Helios. Traditionally, our existing space vessels so far have primarily (but not exclusively) served peaceful purposes. The Voyagers, Mariners and Pioneers carried cameras, not guns, and neither did the Space Shuttle or the MIR space station for example. Thinking along those lines, it makes sense to look for an exploratory vessel first. And given that we have no idea what we might encounter once we drop out of warp, it would also make sense to make it a cloaky, stealthy ship. The scan capabilities of the Helios would help us do our research, while a single mining drone might help us acquire precious samples of asteroids. So, there's my daydream.. explore the wonders of the universe in a Helios.

What's your ship of choice?

Saturday, November 17, 2012

I felt like Moses

No Fixed Abode joined LEGIO ASTARTES ARCANUM in April 2011, after we’d been in nullsec for about six months. Early 2011, we got kicked out of Querious with the rest of the ‘coalition’ that centered around IT Alliance, and we were very happy to have found another home in LEGIO. A few months later, the DRF wave crashed over Catch, and for a moment we had the idea we were going to see the very same thing happening again: a failcascase of an entire coalition. But pretty soon it became clear that Against All Authorities was no IT alliance, and LEGIO wasn’t going down either. We lost some corps, for sure, but it was certainly no failcascade. We did the ‘retreat back to LGK-VP with -A_’ thing, and after a while reconquered Catch. Victory! And -A- remembered LEGIO stood with them when many left: we were given an extra system in Catch as a token of appreciation.

Loss of sov
On October 31 this year, one year and ten days after we reconquered our main staging system HY-RWO, we lost it again. This time to the HBC alliance The Initiative, who have some historical claims to Catch themselves. Given the number of pilots the HBC can summon for any fight, the loss didn’t come unexpectedly. Already we had been given the order to retreat to LGK once again, and all our assets had been evacuated before we lost access.

Loss of trust
But we lost something else. Over the months leading up to the loss of our sov, we also lost our trust in -A-, as well as our willingness to fly alongside them. It wasn’t one big thing, really, but a gradual loss of fun and sense of affiliation. Pilots would complain about the way they were treated by -A- FC’s, -A- pilots behaving like arrogant dicks in the area where we lived, lack of fleets to join in EU TZ, lack of mutual respect.. every few days something else would happen, causing someone to say ‘you know, screw -A-, I’m not doing this anymore’.

At the same time it became clear that LEGIO too wasn’t the alliance it was a year ago. It’s very hard to pinpoint, but somewhere in 2012 we lost something. Perhaps the sad fact that the human behind Commander Donta succumbed to cancer in the summer of 2012..?  Some leadership being less active than before..? There may have been other factors too, but whatever the cause: LEGIO wasn’t able to fight like it was in 2011. Several corps, disillusioned or unable to follow LEGIO leadership’s course anymore, began to drop out.

So NOFAD pilots too began to talk about leaving, greener pastures here or there, following this guy or that corp to a new place. After a period of growing unease, we finally decided to leave LEGIO ASTARTES ARCANUM, even before we had an idea on where we’d end up. We left LEGIO some time ago, and for a while I felt like Moses leading his people into the wilderness!

We’ve left some good friends and capable pilots behind, in an alliance that has a rich history, but is currently straining under the pressure of current events. We thank them and wish them well and we sure would like to fly alongside our friends once again in the future. But, I am afraid that for this to become true, -A- has to chance their tune, or fall. I don’t see -A- changing anytime soon, but a -A- failure might actually occur. Winter is coming..

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Hard situations, best memories!

Yesterday I had a discussion with my corp mate Magister Wu, who by the way will be No Fixed Abode's top killer of the month October 2012, with (so far) 118 kills, after ending September with 104 kills. Good job! But, back to the point: we were discussing eve online game play, and whether we value 'safe or unsafe' nullsec the most. 

During this discussion, it struck me: when given the choice, my gut instinct is always to choose a more safe nullsec environment. I have some character traits that compel me to do so, such as tendencies to avoid risk and conflict. Yet, looking back over the years, the most powerful (and most cherished) memories stem from decidedly unsafe situations! Early pvp experiences and gate camps, good fights and roams, the invasions of Querious and Catch our corp endured and survived. The adrenaline rush of pvp, the exhilaration of narrow escapes, fights won or lost! The experience of being an effective part of a larger fighting unit, to get yourself to do your job properly in the fight, when all your instincts tell you to warp out or ignore the FC’s orders. These are the things you will perhaps remember in years to come!

The thrill of a very narrow escape..

I know Eve Online has flaws; it has aspects I really don't like. But, it has the uncanny ability to compel me to get out of my comfort zone. It challenges me to do things I would normally not even consider. And by doing that, it brings me experiences that are, to me at least, unique and valuable. I may have learned a thing or two about myself, too..

Maybe something to think about, when you're contemplating 'what to do in Eve Online'. The best entertainment, the best experiences may be had when you push yourself to step outside of your comfort zone. ‘Safe’ may sound tempting, but the biggest rewards and fun are probably elsewhere.

Friday, October 26, 2012

BB40 Bloodsports: hand me the remote, dear

It's Blog Banter time again, with Stan providing us with the following topic:
"So on with the banter.

Fresh from publishing the community spotlight on the EVE blogosphere and Blog Banters, CCP Phantom has suggested a banter focus on competitive tournaments.

There is no finer spectacle in the universe of EVE Online than the explosive dance of weapon-laden spaceships in combat. The yearly Alliance Tournament is the jewel in EVE Online's eSports crown and the upcoming New Eden Open should deliver the same gladiatorial entertainment showcase.

Given the scope of the sandbox, what part should eSports play in EVE Online and what other formats could provide internet spaceship entertainment for spectators and participants alike?

Banter on."
At first I wasn't going to respond to this blog banter, but on second thought, I do have a short something to say on the subject. To quote Chance the Gardener, from the 1979 movie 'Being There': 'I like to watch..'

I am not exactly the king of pvp. It is something I do and like, but I know very well I am not terribly good at it. Left to my own devices, I'd probably lose most engagements! I score my kills flying as part of a bigger fleet, and I usually fly pretty standard ships and fits.

That said, I do like to watch skilled pilots go at it, and I prefer if they do it on Alliance Tournaments so that I can tune in and watch. I am experimenting with streaming internet content to my new LED tv, too, so that I can watch on a larger screen! Grab a beer, plop down on the couch and watch stuff explode somewhere in New Eden.. I don't think I'd let anyone else have the remote control, for the foreseeable future :)

Kirith Kodachi has a short and good entry on pvp arenas for New Eden. I say add a live feed and a comments channel for those watching, and we're set. Epic struggles, memorable fights deserve to be seen.. let the games commence!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Running scared..?

Ripard Teg and some other Rote guys announced Rote’s intention to rid their NPC nullsec home region, Syndicate, from the risk averse alliances and corps living there. Rote wants good fights, and the current crop of Syndicate dwellers apparently can’t or won’t comply with Rote’s specific demands in that regard. On Eveoganda, a discussion on the topic ensued, with Ripard saying this in the comments:

“It takes one Rote frigate to get whole gangs to run from us. Couple of weeks ago, one of our guys scared off a 25-man fleet by unknowingly jumping into the system they were in in a pod.”

To which Mord Fiddle replies:

“Isn't the frigate they're scared of. It's the Rote fleet they're sure is waiting off grid. To a certain extent you're victims of your own success.”

How true this is! For us in Catch, there are a few hostile fleets we know will roll through our space, every now and then: CVA, Brushie Brushie Brushie, Eye for an Eye, The Fourth District, Darkside for instance. Many of these have become familiar: we know who their usual scouts are, what they are flying and what follows behind them.

When living in nullsec, there are two major activities to be done: player versus player combat, or player versus environment activities. When you're not actively doing pvp, you will most likely be doing pve.. to earn ISK to fund your pvp habits. But when I am in a pve fitted ship, I am not going to engage a well known hostile forward scout, because I just know the rest of their fleet is behind the next gate, ready to jump in..

It often takes some time to switch from pve to pvp, especially when you have pilots spread over multiple systems. Yes, everyone should have pvp ships available in multiple locations, but even then, it is not easy to swiftly organize an effective fleet that is capable of successfully engaging a disciplined and able enemy. So unless we are already PVP’ing, chances are we will safe up to let these hostiles roll through. It’s not that we don’t want to fight; it’s that we don’t want to bring a knife to a gun fight. We have engaged these fleets, and successfully too; but on our terms, on a moment of our own choosing.

On a more general level, you could say that a well prepared roaming gang, looking for a fight, will usually have an advantage over a local population that wasn’t prepared to pvp at this specific moment in time and space. And when that roaming gang has a solid reputation to boot, odds are the locals won’t engage this time.

Friday, October 19, 2012

The fun part of war: saving the carrier!

Another year, another Catch invasion. This time the reds aren’t Russian, and they aren’t coming through the north but via the south. One thing remains the same: there is an awful lot of fun PVP to be had! With most of our non combat essentials already evacuated to safety, we are free to focus on getting as many kills as we can get, before the inevitable long slog of sov war hits us. Until that happens, we’re milking this war for all the fun it can give us.

Yesterday when I logged on, gate camping was already under way. Intel was arranged, bubbles were placed, kills were scored, but nothing impressive. Our man MR 10 had a nice run, picking off pods before we could even lock them, much to my chagrin! This solo Talos kill was undoubtedly his personal highlight of the evening.

Suddenly, two of our scouts spoke up. A sizeable hostile HBC fleet jumped into V-3YG7 and it was unclear whether it would it go to GE-8JV or come our way. The other scout reported a 4th District fleet, consisting of about a dozen ships, sneaking up on us from the other side. What to do.. we were contemplating our options, when the HBC fleet moved into GE and outside of our immediate area of interest, so we focused on the 4th district fleet instead. Unfortunately, at this moment I had to leave the PC for a short while.. and when I returned, it was chaos!

While I was afk, EzSnake undocked his Chimera carrier, with the intention of using his fighters to overcome the three (yes, three) Scimitars the hostiles brought. But the 4th district gang didn’t warp to the gate as expected, they warped to station instead and proceeded to bump the carrier off the station before it could dock again! Slowly but surely EzSnake drifted away from the safety of the station, and as for the nature of his comments on TeamSpeak.. let’s just say I was happy my son wasn’t listening in anymore :-)
But there was still hope. It seemed the enemy didn’t have enough firepower to break the Chimeras’ tank, which gave us a moment to calm down and contemplate our options. Counting the ships available to us we knew it would be difficult to break the hostile logi, but we had to try. On the FC’s signal, we mass undocked (or warped in from outside, depending) and began shooting the first Scimitar. To no avail, we didn’t have enough firepower on the field to break them, just as they couldn’t break our carrier tank. Still, they did considerable damage to our kitchensink fleet; I lost a Ferox I’d just bought a few hours ago. A couple of other battlecruisers were also lost, but nothing major fortunately. Anyone not pointed docked up again or warped out. So what now?

Frankly, by this time I was expecting a PL hotdrop or something like that. I don’t know if 4th district has a batphone to them or anyone else for that matter, but if I were them I’d be looking for the extra dps to finish our Chimera which they obviously couldn’t break by themselves. Something had to break this stalemate! At that moment an alliance mate picked up on our fight (via alliance chat), and he casually mentioned he was with a nice -A- fleet four jumps out. Could we use some help? Why yes we could! Sensing we could turn the tide here, we reshipped and waited for our allies to arrive. As soon as local began to spike with blues, we again mass undocked, this time going for the kill. EzSnake called targets, calling a Lachesis primary. I burned my Merlin towards him as fast as I could and quickly pointed him before he got out. But then another FC took over, and targets were switched: Scimitars and Drakes were killed.. and all the time I was orbiting the Lachesis at 500 meter, keeping it pointed and nibbling away at his shield tank with my guns.

Obviously the hostiles didn’t want to lose the Lachesis, and after a while I was targeted by what remained of the hostile fleet. Frantically I typed in fleet chat that I still had the Lach pointed, and pretty please with sugar on top.. kill it! Now! Luckily, after about thirty seconds, the FC obliged, and after I had kept it pointed for a few minutes the Lachesis finally exploded. I am very proud of that kill, I’ve never had something tackled for so long, waiting for others to move in and kill it.

I had been so focused on tackling this Lachesis and keeping it pointed, that I hadn’t paid any attention to the rest of the fight at all. It turns out -A- brought around two dozen Tornados; more than enough to turn the fight upside down and break the stalemate. And with a sigh of relief, EzSnake docked his carrier!

Good fights were exchanged in local. And a good fight it was, with - for us - a happy ending.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

In Eve, content is you!

Now that I am CEO of our corp, I am looking at some things differently than before. One of the issues that worries me more than it used to: our inactive members. Even in a smaller corp such as No Fixed Abode, there are members who don't log on as often as they used to, and when they do they log off after a few minutes, apparently they only logged on to update skills. Most Eve pilots have times when the game just doesn't have it's usual appeal, so you're not as active as usual.. but from what I've heard from my corp mates, that isn't necessarily the only issue here.

When you live in highsec, CCP provides you with some content to fill your time: there is always a reliable agent that will hand you a mission and the rewards after you've finished it. It used to be that all agents would give different kind of missions, which occasionally forced you to run a courier or mining mission - or triggered you to do some exploring instead for example. But CCP dumbed down the agent system, and now you can be sure you will be spoonfed the kind of mission you are looking for. Boring perhaps, but for many pilots it's enough to keep them engaged for some time.

In nullsec, there are no agents to hand you a mission. CCP does provide content there, but it's much less obvious than in highsec. You can go exploring, you can run anomalies and there are belt rats abound, but this is no content until you choose to make it so. It is there, but it is just the basic materials, waiting for you to activate it.

In short: highsec is paint by numbers, nullsec is an empty canvas.

For some pilots who move to nullsec for the first time, this is quite a surprise. I distinctly remember that I was automatically checking for agents when I docked in my first nullsec station, even though I knew there weren't any. And so we went ahead and created our own activities, ratting and exploring and mining and pvp'ing, scouting the area, asking friendlies whether we could join them ratting.

Next time a nullsec newbie applies to No Fixed Abode, I will make sure to discuss this with him or her: you're welcome to join, but you'll have to show some initiative yourself to make nullsec worth your while. Conversely, as a corporation, we may have to pay more explicit attention to activating new pilots in nullsec, taking them with us whenever we undock to 'create content'.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Changes upon changes

Mining again
With the number of CTA’s on the rise - we’re still keeping TEST and friends out of Catch - I felt the need to look for alternative sources of income. After all, you can’t really spend a relaxed evening ratting when you’re supposed to be on a CTA. So.. why not train a mining alt? I haven’t really mined since my n00b days four years ago, but apparently there’s some nice (if not spectacular) ISK to be made. So I began training one of my second account’s out of alliance alts for mining. Last week I flew her to a belt rich highsec system, bought a retriever and a few strip miners, and off she went. As it turns out, highsec mining does bring in a modest but noticeable ISK stream: the initial investment in skills and ships was recovered in three evenings of semi afk mining. Not bad! I plan on further improving her skills to become even more effective. In time I’d like to bring her in the alliance in nullsec, to work on those high end ores.. should be profitable. To be back in the mining business is quite a change for me, but so far it feels good; especially because it can be combined with more active gameplay on my main account, or family life, watching tv etcetera.

Power grab? Nso much!
The second change took me by surprise. Last saturday night, No Fixed Abode’s CEO Dadellus convo’d me. He asked me to take over as CEO, effective immediately. Dadellus needed an Eve break, and while he may only be gone for a few weeks, he didn’t want to become an afk CEO. One hour (and a consult with an available director) later, I was made CEO of the corporation. Weird feeling, and I still need to figure out how to deal with it! I feel the responsibility to login as often as possible, but, on the other hand, it should not become a second job. And the family shouldn’t suffer for it, obviously. In the mean time, NOFAD members made good fun of me, calling me ‘sir’, ‘boss’ and all that. Also, Dadellus is famous for losing ships and someone kindly asked me if I was going to take that role, too..? Oh stop it guys! Please :)

All in all, my Eve experience has changed quite a bit over the course of the last week. Time to let it settle for a while, see how it works out.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Blog Banter 39: Home - two kinds of places

Blog Banter 39: Home "Some say a man's home is his castle. For others it is wherever they lay their hat. The concept is just as nebulous in the New Eden sandbox. In EVE Online, what does the concept of "home" mean to you?" 

'Home' means two things to me: a physical place to live, and a social place where I meet those I feel connected with. 

‘Home’ is a physical place 
For a place to be 'home', I have to feel some sort of title to the place, some sense of ownership; I have to be able to say *my* home. My unique place in time and space: mine, and no one else's. This is possible in Eve Online due to its' virtual worlds’ single shard design: every system, every station, every POS in New Eden is a unique place. Eve Online allows you to carve out your own niche in this virtual world. And if you live there, for a while, you may find yourself calling it ‘home’ or ‘my home’.

I have really felt at home in nullsec systems we had sovereignty in, but also in more quiet highsec systems where I'd often be one of the few guys running missions. I'd know the neighbours, if I sold stuff on the market I could often guess who'd be buying it, and the people living there would sometimes say 'hi' in local. My home!

Sovereignty reinforces that sense of ownership. You are probably more likely to say 'my home' in a system you own. And I can't speak from experience, but my guess is wormhole dwellers also have a stronger sense of ownership than someone living in a busy highsec system.

‘Incarna’ featured, in a much more literal sense, a place that was to become your home: the captain’s quarters. Incarna offered a grand vision of New Eden as a full scifi simulator, including all sorts of living places and establishments in stations. Unfortunately, it was poorly executed and implemented, as we all know now. But the original vision is not completely abandoned, and we may yet see more of it in the years to come. If and when that happens, ‘living’ in a station might get a completely different meaning. I was already, more or less, planning on - somehow - acquiring an apartment or shop with a window to outer space, preferably one with a view of the undock ramp.. and just sit there and admire the view, when I didn’t feel like flying. It was not (yet) to be! But if Incarna ever gets implemented properly, the meaning of ‘home’ in Eve Online may change forever for many pilots.

‘Home’ is a social place 
'Home' does not only refer to the physical location you are currently living in. It can also mean: the group of people you belong to. A tribe, a clan, a family, a congregation of faith, a country, a band of brothers: these and more can mean or become one’s ‘home’. In Eve Online, this roughly translates to the corporation or alliance you are a member of.
Many corps have a core membership, pilots who have often flown together for years. For instance No Fixed Abode's core membership: we go back to the start of our Eve careers, back in 2008. Random members may come and go, but unless something drastic happens, these core members stick together. Their social unit is their home!

Speaking with alliance members on the subject of 'home', it became clear that most pilots feel this kind of home is more important than the physical one. You can move to another place in New Eden with your corp or alliance, and still feel right at home even though the physical place is new and unfamiliar. One pilot told how he, once, moved out of the alliance in search of greener fields, but experienced something akin to homesickness. He had to return to us to cure the feeling.

Bittervets will sometimes tell that they are really done with Eve Online as a game, but still they login to meet their friends, chat with them on teamspeak or in alliance/corp chat. You could say that the above still applies to them: their corp or unit may still feel like home. When this happens, the ties that were forged in this game transcend it’s borders. The game has become just an interface, to meet those you feel connected with! The game itself may not be ‘home’ anymore, but the social unit still is.

Sometimes that interface itself isn’t even needed anymore: on the next level of bittervettedness, one may not even login any longer; they may only read blogs and forums. By this time, we are safely outside of Eve Online proper, and hence this blog banter’s question doesn’t apply, really. Still, it would be interesting to hear a bittervets’ opinion on whether these remaining out of game ties with a gaming community still have that ‘home’ feeling.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Epic times ahead

319-3D stats, June 27/28
Tuesday evening I finally heeded the CTA call and moved to Delve, to partake in the war that is now called 'Delve IV'. On our way to C3N-3S, which was to be our staging system, we got stuck in 319-3D, an NPC station system a couple of jumps out; C3N was heavily camped and we were advised to hold in 319. After a while I decided to call it a night and logged; I would try to make the trip to C3N another time.

Yesterday I logged in to see if I could make those final few jumps to C3N, but boy, 319 was busy! Over 400 pilots in local and Time Dilation running between 90-50%.. I wondered if I could get out in one piece. My corp mates were already out and about, as part of a bomber fleet, scoring their first Delve kills, and one of them  - zipping past the 319 station - told me the undock was clear. Quickly I undocked and warped to a safe, waiting for whatever would happen next. At least I could now set my overview to the proper 'large engagement' settings.

There was some TeamSpeak chatter about a Titan somewhere in local, and after a while (around 19.11 eve time) we got the call to warp to a POS to eliminate a Pandemic Legion gang of Tornados that had just landed there. Time Dilation was brutal now and it took me a long time to warp from my safespot. When I landed there were just a few PL pods left, and when I finally could begin to lock someone, the last pod vanished from the screen. But there was, indeed a Titan there!

The Titan turned out to be intended for a Titan bridge: -A- decided that 319 is a better staging system for all those not living in Delve. It is an NPC system and as such unconquerable: anything docked in 319 can always be recovered. I think -A- has fond memories of LGK-VP in Stain, their trusted NPC fallback position for when Catch is under siege: 319 might very well be their 'Delve LGK'.

In the mean time, local numbers in 319 spiked to over 525 with Time Dilation as low as 21%. Reports from C3N and 1DH reported huge numbers there, too. All in all, thousands of pilots where moving about, setting the stage for this next big conflict. Even though nothing 'epic' happened last night, being part of this huge operation already is impressive. Interesting, and possibly epic, times ahead!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The local channel: a revamp proposal

The local channel in Eve Online. Should it stay or should it go? The debate is ongoing, with arguments pro and contra. Those in favour of keeping it, usually claim that removing 'local' would harm industrial and other casual nullsec activities; those wanting to see it removed claim it gives defenders or carebears an unfair advantage, contradicting the sandbox principles of Eve Online.

There is something to be said for both sides. I have been thinking of a way to reconcile the two views, and I think it can be done by tying the presence to sovereignty, jump gates and giving nullsec some properties of wormhole space.. It has become quite a long post, but please bear with me!

Jump gates - let them rot
I have examined the lore surrounding jump gates, and frankly, there isn't a lot of information. But from the evidence available, it seems jump gates need maintenance crews to keep them functioning, and there is talk about 'new versions of jump gate design'. Who pays for jump gate maintenance and keeps them up and running, or applies the upgrades isn't really clear, although for highsec it seems logical to assume that the empires and/or Concord are doing it.

soon to be offline?

In nullsec, a sovereignty holder pays sovereignty fees to Concord, but there is no noticeable Concord presence out here. To assume that Concord would do jump gate maintenance in nullsec doesn't make sense: they wouldn't send their maintenance crews unprotected into the 'lawless outer regions', especially given the fact that for many systems there is no sov holder to pay them. And the empires sure arent doing any maintenance out here, either. 

Given the lack of a plausible maintenance backstory, I propose that jumpgates be allowed to deteriorate over time if they are not actively maintained (more on that below). A deteriorating jump gate would, if it's efficiency falls below a certain threshold, occassionally fail to jump ships, with the percentage of failure progressing over time as it's efficiency level drops further. After a while, it would cease to function completely and go offline. And it would take the local channel down with it (more on that below as well).

Jump Gate maintenance
Jump gate maintenance would be needed to keep gates alive. It would have to be done through a specialised (tender like) ship and module, possibly aided by matching drones. Keeping a jump gate at 100% (or at least acceptable levels of) efficiency, would require a certain amount of 'maintenance points' to be applied, every week. Just like you need to fuel a POS, you need to maintain your gates if you want them operational. But, every pilot can apply maintenance points to a jump gate, irrespective of their standings to whomever has sovereignty in the area.

A sovereignty holder has other means of arranging jump gate efficiency: they can buy and install a 'jump gate maintenance' upgrade in the TCU or ihub. With that upgrade (and a noticeable extra monthly fee to Concord) all gates leading to or from the solar system where the TCU or ihub resides, are maintained at 100% efficiency without requiring pilot intervention.

An ever changing map
Allowing jump gates to become inactive would alter the map of New Eden's nullsec regions. Some parts might become difficult to access over time, perhaps creating pockets where a smart corporation or small alliance might find a home for themselves, flying under the radar and keeping out of sight as much as they can. Keeping tabs on what gates are operational and which ones aren't becomes an important part of nullsec intel, and those who live in the area certainly are at an advantage in this regard. Yet, offlined gates might be repped back to life by anyone, so you are never certain. And, of course, black ops ships and cyno beacons still work.

So what does this have to do with the local channel? I propose that the working of each local channel is tied to a solar system's jump gate efficiency level. Systems with 100% jump gate efficiency have an immediate local channel: the local jump gate system knows precisely who entered but did not leave the solar system, there is full and immediate 'pilot presence intel'.
If one or more jump gates deteriorate, the quality of this 'pilot presence intel' deteriorates with them, and hence a delay is introduced: it takes longer and longer for a pilot to appear in the local channel, after jumping or logging in. If the jump gate deteriorates further, a pilot may or may not not appear at all. And when the combined efficiency of all jump gates falls below a certain threshold, the local channel goes into permanent delayed mode, failing to show any pilots unless they happen to actively use the local chat channel.

Live there, rule there
It has often been suggested, that having sovereignty somewhere should be related to actually living in the solar system in question: conquering it once and pay the sov bills forever afterwards, shouldn't be enough. It seems to me that this could fit in with the jump gate proposal as sketched above. Large swathes of nullsec are virtually uninhabited as it is today, because independend entities can't live there, as there is no place to hide. But, I don't see the large power blocs sending jump gate maintenace teams all over nullsec to keep the gates alive, so it would become harder for these large entities to maintain full control over those uninhabited systems. And with deteriorating jump gates everywhere, smaller entities might indeed be able to find a difficult to access nullsec pocket or semi closed corner to live in for a while, basing out of small (mobile?) star bases or POSes, and cynoing goods in and loot out as needed. And the occassional passer by might barely notice you, because there's no immediate local. Until someone reps that jump gate, of course..

But, in order to make nullsec life more worthwhile for such smaller corporations or alliances, it might be needed to buff NPC anomalies, belt rats and/or ores to mine, in systems that have delayed local. 

Double edged sword
Having jump gates at 100% efficiency, and a fully operational local channel, might very well end up to be a double edged sword. It means you can spot anyone coming in, but it also means anyone *can* indeed enter your system; and those who enter also get to see your pilots! Your space is open and accessible: having full presence knowledge comes at a price, security wise. If you live in a nullsec area, it's your choice how to balance ease of access with giving away local intel to each and every pilot who jumps in.

Open the sandbox - by closing off parts

The proposals outlined above might turn the lesser inhabited parts of nullsec into something resembling wormhole space: less predictable in terms of access and availability of intel, more profitable, more interesting: "I wonder what happens behind this closed gate.." And yet, by virtue of applying jump gate maintenance, every pocket can be opened and no walled garden is guaranteed to remain forever! Deteriorated gates might be guarded and defended vigorously, scouts might have to work hard to get access to pockets.. It seems to me that this construction fits in with Eve Online's sandbox principles, and could lead to some interesting situations, in terms of (emergent) gameplay. Not to mention several new ships, modules, skills and professions.

Some issues and objections
When thinking along these lines, some problems appeared, and I think it's only fair to mention those.

For instance, the 'forever fortress' issue: alliances could chose to let certain important jump gates deteriorate, making it very hard to enter their space for an enemy, while using jump bridges to circumvent the barrier themselves. An example: if -A- could disable the jumpgates out of HED-GP into Catch, they would probably do so in a heartbeat.. or whenever an invasion threat is looming. -A- would have to make sure the gates aren't repped, and most of Catch would be much safer, instantly: conquering Catch is difficult if you don't take HED-GP. This is obviously not the intended usage of the system outlined above, and this use case would certainly have to be dealt with. Perhaps the option to add security, by letting jump gates deteriorate, should be balanced by the removal of jump bridge capability in 'deteriorated constellations'? Or the presence of jump bridges automatically means all jump gatges inbetween are maintained at 100% efficiency? Difficult issue, and constructive suggestions here are certainly welcome.

A second objection could be, that small gang pvp is negatively affected by this, as small roams might keep running into offlined jump gates. I'd say that's probably true, but there will also be a lot less intel available to their potential prey, because many systems won't have an immediate local channel. So scouting becomes very important: identify a route of working jump gates, and try to find those pockets without immediate local! And breaking into that  supposedly safe pocket in nullsec would also an impressive feat. Overall, nullsec becomes less predictable to all inhabitants, be they roaming gangs or mining nullbears.

And what to do with the fact that there are always two jump gates involved in jumping? It is conceivable to have one of the pair deteriorate, while the other is maintained, effectively creating a one way street. From a gameplay perspective, it might be better to have the efficiency level determined per jump gate pair: bringing one side up to 100% always restores full jump capability for instance. This area, too, needs some thought.

Finally, the rate of deterioration and the amount of maintenance points needed to restore a gate to working order, need to be balanced very careful. You don't want each and every solo passerby to be able to rep a gate in a few minutes, but you also don't want to turn gate repping into a carrier fleet operation, taking hours to complete. Balancing these is going to be difficult, perhaps.