Friday, December 4, 2015

A Lack of Purpose

Over at the Ancient Gaming Noob, Wilhelm Arcturus presents some very insightful thoughts about the current state of the Imperium that very clearly represent my thoughts about the only remaining coalition. In it, he pretty clearly represents the lack of purpose behind the Imperium these days.

When one person says a thing, it's an opinion. When two people say it, it's a fluke. When dozens of people independently come up with the same statement, it's a groundswell. Wilhelm's comments exactly represent the reasons I chose to leave the CFC and join Adversity.

More and more, folks are realizing an inevitable truth; having won Eve, the Imperium finds it self as a weapon without a target, bereft of purpose.

Don't get me wrong... nothing can stand up to the Imperium; in any are of space, at any time, the Imperium can exert its will with complete freedom. It has the pilots to both maintain its activity defense multipliers and conduct a complete, ruthless, and effective war across the galaxy or on multiple fronts. No one can fight them.

But no one really wants to fight them, either. They have a deserved reputation for ruining the enjoyment of their enemies. They create dominating doctrines and iterate the hell out of it (ie. boringly do the same thing again and again). They overwhelm enemies with one-sided battles with such regularity that no one wants to waste their time playing with them anymore.

What happened in Cloud Ring wasn't an accident. A number of alliances were having great fun attacking each other, taking assets, and generally having a great time. One of those entities was SMA, an Imperium alliance.  And while it was just them, everyone was getting their jollies and things were looking up.

Then the CFC announced they were coming, and before a single shot was fired, before they even showed up, every alliance that had been in Cloud Ring realized the fun was over and all went their separate ways.  Fighting the CFC isn't entertaining and doesn't provide meaningful content. Increasingly, potential enemies are saying, "You guys are invading? Okay, you win. We're going over here to fight someone who plays by the same rules we do." Because, as it's become clear, the CFC doesn't play by the same rules. They play to crush your spirit; everyone else just plays to win.

And the reality of this is having a significant effect on the experience of line members. The content available is reduced to covops fleets (one bait pilot finding another who wants to fight solo, then hot-dropping 30 ships on him), a non-challenging fight after hours of waiting in boredom. Large fleet fights are far less common; increasingly few are willing to deal with the annoying and soul-sucking experience of fighting an Imperium fleet.

The recent Viceroy program was so over-the-top that savvy observers identified it for what it was: by declaring war on all-comers, TheMittani is trying to rejuvenate his people by making them the enemy again. Unfortunately, everyone already identified the winning strategy; refuse to engage the CFC, pull back, and wait until they get bored and starve from the lack of content.

So, you get what we had in Cloud Ring. The Imperium is the bully who beat up on everyone, and now has no one to sit with at lunch. You want to play dodgeball? Here, take it, we'll go play basketball. You want to play on the swings, take them; we'll come back when you're done. You let us know what you're doing so we can do something else until you're done.

As a result, food becomes scarce, and is put out of reach for corps and some alliances. In steps the SIGs and squads drawn from the whole Imperium to provide that content.  But, as pilots begin to look to the SIGs, they start to increasingly wonder what value they're getting out of their corp; why pay higher taxes to corp A when it's nearly identical and offers the same things as Corp B? Corp culture suffers, and corp leadership faces increasing pressures to define a purpose for their group. Corps are swallowed up, leaders burn out, and everything in the CFC homogenizes.

That's pretty bleak. It's what I was feeling, and it's what countless other players I've talked to are experiencing. Thousands of CFC pilots have just stopped logging in.  Sure, they still talk to each other on Slack and jabber, and can log in for a rage-ping, but on a daily basis they're frequently finding more valuable things to do than play Eve.

This is ennui, the malaise and hopelessness of the purposeless existence. It descended upon the Imperium with AegisSov, and it won't be changing any time soon.  If corporation leadership was in a state where it was a year ago, they'd be leaving to try new things; unfortunately, too many now are simply going on auto-pilot.  The CFC is sick, and for many, the smallest operational unit is no longer corporation or alliance, but coalition.

And that leads to the kinds of dissonance Wilhelm describes: whereas previously all his close friends were in the same corp, now that corp resembles Swiss cheese, and the people he interacts with most are spread across a hundred corporations. The content is unsatisfying, but at the same time, he's not willing to abandon all those friends.  You don't enjoy what you're doing I don't enjoy what I'm doing, but I don't want to leave my friends."

For me, it was a very difficult decision to leave RP, made slightly better by the fact that so many of my friends had gone on to play different games. Most of my time was spent waiting in station with Talvorian while I did fun things with other characters. I'd see pings come up for entosis fleets (yawn), covops fleets (no challenge), or high-sec gank fleets (no honor). Increasingly, the value I got from CFC membership was ratting space; that, I could get in Venal.

So, I made the call to leave before I lost all interest in Eve. And, in so doing, I became rejuvenated. The rest of the game really is having fun out there.

Increasingly, I'm convinced more and more that the CFC is an extremely well-organized group with leaders who generally honor their word, tight loyalty among friends, and a range of theoretical advantages that appeals to a ratter or casual PvPer, but one which now exists in a universe with mechanics ill-suited to its kind of structure. It's like if the U.S. would have kept the same style and size of military from WWII in the modern age; unsuited for the new environment.

The CFC has truly already won Eve. But that's in its past, and it's now suffering the fate of all victors... having burned down all of its enemies, it sits on a throne of charred timbers, choking on the ash.

Where does it go from here? What does it do if, as is happening, folks simply decide to leave the north as a no-fly zone and have fun in the rest of null-sec?

I said years ago that no one could defeat the CFC; that when it falls, it'll be because of leadership burnout or a decision to retire. I hold to that; it'll last as long as it provides satisfying content for its membership. That process is long, though, and I believe it began with AegisSov, perhaps earlier.

I find it all fascinating. I always used to wonder why large empires seemed to suddenly collapse. Now I know. It's not weakness,but an excess of strength, that tears them apart.


  1. I strongly disagree with "Goons won EVE". While it's without doubt that they have no challenger on Sov scale, it's because they aren't a threat to anyone (except anom rats). Everything that you can say about the Imperium is true for a solo highsec procurer miner.

    Can you give a reason why Triumvirate, Ruca Emperor or Phoebe Freeport Republic fight them (alone or united)?

    To win, you have to defeat the others, not just simply avoid them by shrinking to as small as possible and signing treaties.

    Also, where are MoA or OOS in this picture who willingly live next to them and seek them for fights every day?

    1. I haven't seen a successful strategy for defeating them in four years, but I have seen "blue boredom" eviscerate player counts, whole corps, and even whole CFC alliances.

    2. MOA does fight but they continuously lose any structure they place out in space. Hence why they live in NPC station. They can kill some things but they are not equivalent in any regard to PFR as the latter can does defend their assets.

      OOS I'm not real sure about while they have done some damage (killed supers) I don't think they in of themselves have attacked any structures or placed any of their own in CFC space (I might be wrong on that)

    3. Talvorian is spot on. They have effectively 'Won EVE.' If their enemies cannot put together a strategy to defeat them in battle, willingly concede objectives (CR) when they declare war on it, and basically do anything to avoid them all together, that is as effectively winning as anything.

      The fact of the matter is, there is no single alliance in game, nor any 'coalition of the willing' who can stand against the Imperium in a full deployment, full stop. You mention MoA and OSS, but realistically (no offense to your narrative) those groups efforts are barely a foot note to them in a strategic sense and have zero impact on the longevity of Imperium holdings.

      Well written Taovorian, well written indeed.

    4. Two cents from a grunt who is still a grunt in the Imperium:

      We are choking on our own strength. Deprived of an enemy to slaughter the way we were taught to, we are a relic of the old days - of enemies and hatred - that clings on to hope that one day a true war reaches us once more.

      A good part of it is that EVE has changed, the culture has changed. "Goodfights" are a thing now, the word "Content" is thrown around - absent is the word "Victory" that implies treading through POS/Sov grinds and many other things associated with long-term campaigns in EVE.

    5. MoA don't fight the Imperium. Not really. They may kill a few miners or ratters, but they do not fight.

      Out of Sight on the other Hand... They seem to fight.

    6. No enemy defeats them, because they don't make enemies. People fight if they are threatened. Can you name anyone CFC threatened since 2014 spring? (No, Providence is bad answer, as they knew for sure that Goons will go home, so worst case they make some mess, much less than MoA made for them)

  2. Although I know nothing of null politics (and don't care much about what goes on there), you are such a good writer that it makes it interesting to read about. What struck me about the flying with friends thing is this: eventually you learn that you can still fly with friends no matter what corp they are in. Maybe not in pursuit of the objectives of a null sec entity but for fun roams looking for trouble, sure. NPSI fleets and pirates have figured this out since forever. No idea if it's a thing in null sec too.

    1. Sometimes it is, though i keep in touch with people via slack more.

  3. I guess in the absence of any real competition this is accurate, but I have never understood why everyone is so damn sure the CFC is unbeatable? Wasn't BoB bascially the same thing a large coalition of alliances? Atlas, Northern Coalition? What's so different now as opposed to then? Why does the PL put together a newbie alliance, Waffles and whatever else and then cut in run before the first shot is fired?

    The answer is not that they are seeking fun. No they are seeking easy wins. So dunking traveling supers in lowsec = Fun, Losing carriers on a POS save != fun. There's been no honesty on either side for what they seek lowsec guys will happy drop caps on anything they can get away with. When before they were screaming caps needed to be nerfed. Nullsec guys want 'content' but they want that fight to be happening elsewhere then to them. Nowhere is there a plan from CCP to make these groups really want to fight as opposed to harrass and hell dunk.

    1. What's so different now as opposed to then?

      So, so many things.

      But most of all, approach to the game: the CFC focusses on being unbeatable beyond every thing else in the game, including having fun. It focusses even more on being unbeatable outside the game.

      Thus, even though they're at pretty much max capacity, the CFC keeps recruiting people, keeps over-producing ships for a war they'll never fight, keeps sucking in talent for a war that isn't ever coming.

      The CFC is preparing for 'The Next Great War', not realising that that time is over.

      Let me break it down: The CFC doesn't want to lose, so they use any methods available to win , even if those methods are self-defeating. Their war-machine wins by making the enemy not log in, not defeating the enemy on the field of battle. That's the biggest change from BoB and the old NC.

      So, in focussing on a 'fuck their game' approach, they take the worst abuses the game offers, and turn them into a 'grind them down' war strategy. It is a matter of pride, not disgust, that the CFC has grinded down multiple regions in Stealth Bombers, ships designed to run away at the mere chance of harassment.

      Furthermore, any Fleet compositions/strategies that the CFC cannot beat, they try and nerf via meta-gaming, rather than superior strategy. Tracking Titans (which you may remember) were nerfed, almost solely because the CFC flew the most useless, stupid fit Drakes straight into their guns. Therefore CCP decided that such whole-sale retardedness should be rewarded.

      Similarly with Drone assist, the CFC decided to fly useless (in terms of strategic and tactical value) doctrines terribly, and then agitate to CCP that such doctrines were OP, despite their lack of success with them. CCP took the bait, and so Drone Assist was removed.

      The story of fighting against the CFC is this: You'll play the least enjoyable part of a mostly unenjoyable game, made worse by a group of players whose aim is to make the unenjoyable game worse.

      People have finally realised that the game is more fun when you play your own way, not the way they want you to play.

      Finally, a response to "lowsec guys will happy drop caps on anything they can get away with. When before they were screaming caps needed to be nerfed."

      The key part is "anything they can get away with". Previously, there was no getting away, and so they correctly said that Caps needed to be nerfed. Now that the 'getting away' part is fixed, caps are in a much better position.

    2. It's a speculation of alternative history whether BOB would have fallen if not for the director sabotage. That's unlikely to happen with the CFC now. But that would still be "internal rot" in my book.

  4. I said this 3 years ago: GoonSwarm Federation and it's associated "coalition" - whatever name it wants to give itself - are irrelevant. I'm glad to see the rest of the player base is finally catching on to this as well.

  5. I like this post. I agree with it for the most part.
    A few parts up for debate:

    "I said years ago that no one could defeat the CFC; that when it falls, it'll be because of leadership burnout or a decision to retire."

    While I agree with this, as we have seen with several collapsed alliances, it is not the only possible fallout. The Imperium uses the tactic of Weaponised boredom. This is one of several problems, I believe, that the Imperium is using that is slowly causing it to fail.
    Some may recall, several months ago, Nour Sammy, an FCON Skirmish FC, complain about the CFC's tactic of weaponised boredom. He got an earful from several people for complaining, but I find myself agreeing with his opinions. ( Reddit Post. )

    Secondly, the Line members of the Imperium and fining themselves bored due to the lack of content available.
    Take, for example, SpaceMonkey's Alliance. Over the last several months, SMA may have grown from 2500 members, to over 5000, but those numbers are not making up for the expertise being lost by the better corporations leaving SMA.
    Such examples include Applied Anarchy, Souls of Steel and ScumLord Excavation and Evisceration, all who went on to form Chaos Theory. They're not the only ones to leave however. Other corporations have left due to boredom and gone on to join other alliances in search for fun. I expect there to be many more, not just in SMA, but in other Imperium alliances.

    Finally, I just want to point out that the Imperium is not the only alliance still around. There are several, such as Stain Wagon, and the Drone Region Federation. While they may be the biggest and most successful coalition in the game, they are not the only one.