Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Into the Great Wide Open

Ultimately, Eve is a game that thrives on the desire of each player to log in and interact with the world.  The game is only as powerful and valuable to you as your engagement with it.

If you read my last post, you may be wondering why I was moving a carrier full of ships by myself.  The savvy among you recognized it as a relocation of assets.  That's not so surprising, right?  Null-sec alliances are relocating all the time, and Goonswarm recently redeployed.  Maybe I missed it and had to move on my own?

But, no.  Taken with some of my comments recently about the state of null-sec, it's not as simple as all that.  Increasingly, I'm finding being part of a null-sec alliance uninteresting, and after three months of building status-tension, I've decided I have to act.  The choice was between leaving a corporation I love to find the content I want, or leaving the game entirely.  And I just can't do the latter.

So, my time in Repercussus has come to an end, as a direct result of the changes happening in null-sec.  I'm doubling down on some lowsec "Adversity.".

Two years ago, I joined Repercussus after having spent more than a year and a half flying with them while in other Razor corps.  I knew I’d get along well with them based on an outsider's view.  Let me tell you, the experience was even better than I had thought.  Repercussus was a robust community that felt like a corp/alliance of its own.  It had more cohesion and vibrancy than any alliance could hope for, and offered the opportunity for far more content than any corporation would hope to provide.  RP was a great community of people who really understood how to create a culture, not just a group of players.  And that culture remained strong as long as everyone stayed together in the same staging system.

I really can’t say enough positive things about the people in RP, or the culture we enjoyed during that time.  But time marches on, and things change.  The corp made the decision to abandon the lowsec activity that the members enjoyed so intensely in favor of supporting null objectives of GSF.  Key people had RL concerns that pulled them away.  And FozzieSov came.

The realities of the new sov system made null PvP unappealing for many, and rather than base exclusively out of a single staging system, some players joined the Reavers and Space Violence (interest-based SIGs within the Imperium composed of members of multiple alliances that deploy independently), some doubled down on ratting (now that you could earn participation credit for doing it), and some continued to do the lowsec thing.  A great many simply stopped logging in; counter-entosis fleets weren't appealing, and with everyone split up, the regular roams stopped happening.  The effect of all of this was a diaspora; we were still in the same corp, but we weren't all in the same staging system or having the same experience together.

I’ve spoken before – both here and in comments on reddit and other blogs – that I predicted you’d see a talent sink from null to lowsec.  I wasn’t speaking in the theoretical.  I watched good players, both in my corporation and throughout the Imperium, decide that the content offered by sov null alliances was unappealing and move elsewhere.  FozzieSov is not compelling content for small gang enthusiasts, hardcore PvPers (I mean real PvPers, not people who fight a fleet and either blap the enemy or are blapped in return), and players who would rather win by out-playing the enemy than by bringing greater numbers.  The mechanics just don’t support it.

The Black Legion collapse was a particularly devastating blow to the health of null-sec and the diversity of the game as a whole, but Mactep's departure from Solar Fleet probably exemplifies the null-sec problem most clearly.  A man who had helped Solar Fleet weather defeat after defeat and rise from the ashes time and again decided null-sec wasn't compelling.  You all need to pay attention to that.  Good corporations based in null have dissolved or broken up.  This is not a fluke.

And I've seen the same thing happen with players in Repercussus deciding to play other games. That's incredibly depressing.  The members of Repercussus represent exactly the best sort of player for this game.  This isn't a theoretical problem, this is our brightest lights making a determination that the cost/value of Eve isn't worth it anymore.  We're not talking about groups being unable to adapt here.  We're talking about individual players deciding that what null-sec offers just isn't worth their time.  This is a proactive decision to follow their best course.

But, far worse than entosis tactics being boring, FozzieSov sets an effective limit on the amount of space a group can manage.  The Imperium, the largest, most organized organization that set the pace and heavily influences the complexion of null-sec, was already way over that limit.  What, then, was the incentive to go to war?  What glorious conquests would Imperium players look forward to?  The Provi war?  It meant nothing, accomplished nothing, and taught lessons that are of no value to an organization that has no need for or ability to manage the spoils of conquest.

Jabber pings for small gang roams and actual objectives were replaced by high-sec ganking and counter-entosis response fleets, two of the least appealing fleets for me.  Goonswarm is constructed to bring more pilots and sap enjoyment from it’s enemies.  It’s built to win wars of conquest.  But there is nothing to conquer and hold anymore, and no need for it.  The Imperium a solution to a problem that it no longer faces.  The Imperium is obsolete in terms of providing meaningful and engaging content.  FozzieSov changed it’s role to a massive fortress around Guristas space to generate and secure sources of revenue.  Ultimately, farming Guristas is about making isk. It's a means to an end.  And, increasingly, a certain group of player that used to thrive in the Imperium is finding that other options offer a better value proposition.

This isn’t an anti-Imperium piece.  The Imperium is great for making isk and taking care of its members.  As a member, you get rich.  It is, in may ways, a true corporation, about business and revenue.  But you aren't going to find structure fights in null-sec anymore; it's no longer in its DNA post-FozzieSov.  A coalition like the Imperium is increasingly irrelevant.  Fatigue restricted its activities to an area of space; while that area can shift as it deploys, it can’t exert its will over every area of space at once anymore.  FozzieSov stripped it of its raison d’etre: conquest.  In the place of meaningful content generation is a diet of ganks, executions, and space wand defense.  There's a reason other groups shrugged their shoulders and focused their attention elsewhere.

For the past four months, I wasn’t having nearly as much fun as I felt I should have.  I have eyes, and could see that low-sec is booming with content.  What we're seeing is a fundamental shift in which the nature of null is changing to favor farmers and craftsmen, while all of the vikings, raiders, and barbarian pirates are moving to lowsec, which puts quality PvP on overdrive.  The world shifted out from under me, and null-sec wasn't anymore what I wanted out of my game.

I spoke before about how a period of tension always precedes a dramatic change.  We only change what we're doing when we recognize a need and feel that the discomfort of staying the same outweighs the effort and risk involved in changing our habits.  As that ratio slowly rises, we recognize that we're not as satisfied as we were, and that manifests as tension and frustration.  Like a rubber band being pulled too far, the snap is only the very end of the event, not the beginning.

We're living in a time of rising tension in the hearts of many null-sec players.  Low participation rates, reduced login time, and lower activity are just the symptoms.  More players are engaging in other content with alts, or using this time to boost their income with furious ratting and isk generation.

But unless something changes, that activity has a finite duation.  Even a week away from regular activity can degrade your PvP habits, and we've just passed two months since FozzieSov.  How long can players endure an increasingly unsatisfying null-sec environment before they feel compelled to make a change?  For me, it was about four months (null "paused" long before FozzieSov launched).

Ultimately, the tension arose from a difference between the experience with the environment I was in and my own desires.  That's a personal problem.  Eve players say, "Deal with it," "HTFU," or "smart players adapt, not complain."  So that's what I'm doing.  I'm adapting by leaving null-sec for the foreseeable future.

It's not a comment about Repercussus, the Imperium, or how either is run.  This is a comment on the fundamental shift that is changing what skills and desires null-sec is suited to satisfy.  In the same way that buffing one income source pushes players out of competing activities, there's no reward for "second best source of X content."  Players will grativate to what suits them most.  And right now, null-sec doesn't suit PvPers of my persuasion.  So we leave.

Citadels may change things, but I doubt it.  Fundamentally, FozzieSov established limits on how far a group can expand before reaching a stasis point (where effort to maintain their space balances ability to provide meaningful content) and robbed null-sec of it's impetus.  And just as, historically, marauders rarely kept their military edge after founding settlements, so to is null-sec ownership shaping up to be a civilizing (read: softening) force on PvPers.

For my part, I’m not interested in sov null right now, at least as a defender.  I want to search for those enjoyable fights, fight outnumbered, and use the sp Talvorian has, similar to how we did when RP was based in lowsec.  As I considered the kind of content I enjoyed and looked at the time zone activity of corporations who engaged in it, one strong option came to the top.

Adversity. is a slightly smaller corporation with a good pedigree and the kind of activity that really appeals to me.  Their doctrines are expensive, but perform admirably.  I haven't even moved all my assets out yet (Archon 2.0 on the way...), but I've already gone on a few fleets with them.  I've gotten to fly my dreads and T3 cruisers.  So far, everyone I've spoken to has been friendly, welcoming, and very capable.  I'm always impressed and energized by how friendly dirty pirates and criminals are to members of their community.  We have, I believe, one blue.  It’s the wild west, baby, and I should have plenty of opportunity to shoot all the things.

And while null may have had the wind knocked out of its lungs, lowsec is getting more crowded by the day.

Sounds like a good time.


  1. You can alway join us in the non-aligned systems of null. 4-C8mi is one of the most violent systems in null

    1. Freeport and NPC null is still VERY VIOLENT, much like lowsec.

  2. Sad to see it come to this, though as you alluded to in the beginning of the article, I can't say I'm surprised to see it happen. It's unfortunate that nullsec just doesn't give the kind of engaging material we want as much as it used to. I'm curious as to what will cause a shift first, CCP enacting something that forces a shift, or the stagnation causing The Imperium alliances to slowly break apart over time and fracture nullsec again. Whatever the outcome, feel free to stop by your old home for a fight.

    1. This was definitely a hard decisions. I feel like leaders of null corporations are tugging with ropes of sand; I don't envy your jobs at all!

      I've long felt that CCP wants to break the backs of current sov holders, but I suspect the announcement of citadels will have put everything on hold re: player decisions.

    2. "But you aren't going to find structure fights in null-sec anymore; it's no longer in its DNA post-FozzieSov."

      Do you read the Dev blogs and keep up with things like the 07 Show??

      The following is directly from CITADELS, SIEGES AND YOU V2

      Capitols are being given a Structures Role again, IE: :”ENTOSIS LINKS ARE NOT GOING TO WORK ON NEW STRUCTURES”
      so… “Ve Vill have to SHOOTZ dem!!!!” “…Capital Ship are in the pipelines to be rebalanced, and bringing HP damage back into structures is not a coincidence. We want both structures and capitals to have a strong tie with each other, a binding theme delivers a unified and enriching experience. As such, the Capital Ship rebalance will definitely account for this HP damage system for structures...”

      Fozzie/Aegis/Pottersov aint over my friend... and I doubt it ever will be... =]

      Change is the only constant.

    3. That reference you quoted to my article, "Searching for the Structure Fight," which talks about the ideal fights I search for: the 1v1 where one pilot explodes and the other has flames shooting out of his engine because the winner was deep in structure.

      It's not a reference to fleet battles that occur over structure timers.

    4. If you think Citadels are going to change anything, you are highly mistaken.

      Currently you can a shoot a pos in any timezone, and hope that the timer is in your favor or start again or have friends or other tz alliance members finish it off.

      With citadels, you literally have to first figure out the damn vulnerability windows, and basically if it is a Medium or a Large you will never bash it because everyone will basically set it at downtime 1h every day lol.

      All you can hope to do is go to lowsec until this dies because of citadels.

  3. So this is a long, long way of saying that Aegis sov actually is breaking up all the huge blocs.

    As for this:

    "FozzieSov is not compelling content for small gang enthusiasts, hardcore PvPers (I mean real PvPers, not people who fight a fleet and either blap the enemy or are blapped in return), and players who would rather win by out-playing the enemy than by bringing greater numbers. The mechanics just don’t support it."

    When did they ever support it? When my little gangs would pop out of a WH in sov null to stir things up (usually running a high-end anom to get attention), we quickly realized that what actually happened was that we had a certain amount of time of seeing absolutely nobody before a giant, un-engageable fuckoff fleet filled Local. People who complained about it were told that sov owners weren't there to be content. It was their space, and they wanted us to leave, and so overwhelming force was the only response we'd ever get. This was uniform across sov null.

    And the side effect of "conquest" was generally that we could fly freely through 20-40 systems with the occasional bubblebath around a gate the only evidence that anyone else had ever been there. But every system was claimed by someone. Is meaningless conquest still conquest?

    Anyway, regardless, welcome to low sec! It's a lively place. I might even see you in space.

    1. When I came out to null in 2011, we would regularly fight against a couple pirates dogfighting to break us up and kill us beneath our fleet's noses. Our fleets were rarely more than 20 people.

      Undeniably, fleet size has increased and willingness to engage has gone way, way down. This isn't surprising, since we've also seen people cluster together more. FozzieSov-sans-benefit is as close to a server reset we'll ever get. At least in intention. If you can't break up the blocs, bore them to tears.

  4. Tal, love th article and would have loved to have you with us, especially now

  5. Sorry to see you leave Tal, but I understand the reasoning. I hope your new corp is all that you're hoping for, i know some of the guys in TISHU and they're good people. I'll see you and your legion in Cloud Ring next time you guys drop by

  6. I approve of this move!

    Are you going to get close to a FW warzone? Which one?

    1. We're in Vestouve. Not exactly close, but not far either.