Decline

Our corp has moved, from the deep south, right back to the deep north. Our tenure in the drone regions, though, had enlightened us all to the wonderful logistic possibilities of wormholes. Thus it was that I found myself, on an out of corp alt, in Amarr. With 88 in local. Sorry, what? I thought.

Out of curiosity, I logged my Jita trade alt in. 756 in local. Good grief.

Yes, the decline is real. We had thought as much, most of us. My previous posts outlined the data, but reality painted a picture no more rosy than the bar charts revealed. Then, I read a missive from Sion Kumitomo this morning. It’s a biggie, but the curious may find it here.

Now, one must take that post with a few spoons of salt, due to the obvious jabs being sent in CCP’s direction by those who resent losing an empire. However, I had to agree with a lot of it. The saddest part is the knowledge that, just as I previously posted, CCP has set its heart on VR as the next big thing. One of our members splashed out the spendies for a VR setup recently. He played it for a while, and was pretty impressed with the level of immersion. Then, he got back on Eve with us, to rat and chat.

Could it really be that CCP doesn’t understand the value of its own product? Do they honestly still not see the potential this game has? It’s sad, and that’s the truth. It’s all about the people, the sense of property, the sense of belonging, and the sense of achievement, that made Eve such a hard thing to walk away from.

Still, they couldn’t see the wood for the trees. Thousands upon thousands of written words from people who cared passionately about their universe had no impact at all upon the ten inches of bone that underlies the foreheads of the Vikings. They clung desperately to the darkness that repelled so many. They shoved aside their own statistics that showed 50% trial losses within the first 2 hours. Stolidly they ignored the pleas from the very council they set up to ostensibly listen to.

They wasted millions of dollars on one fruitless side venture after another, only to then wander off towards the seductive call of the VR psirens.

It may well be too late, now. Layoffs, office closures, staff cuts, budget cuts, and a PCU that screams, ‘last one out turn the lights off’. What a senseless waste of such a work of art.

Still, I’ll play until they switch the servers off, as will many others. We’ve ended up back up in Branch, where we were before, right down to the same constellation. Our role sees us looking after indices, manufacturing, and shooting anybody who wanders by. The core group of players who made 30Plus the best 2 years of my Eve life are nearly all there, and the laughter and madness flows freely every day.

Comms is a riot, once again. But, if I’m to be honest, Eve is now just one of a few games we mess around in. There’s always a group in New Eden at any given moment, but I remember a time when we were all there, all the time. No, it’s not what it used to be, not at all. Then again, nowhere in Eve is what it used to be.

It’s emptier, less dangerous. The neuts still wander through, but there’s less of them, and they are much more cautious than they used to be. Sadly, this drops the enthusiasm level somewhat. We moved out of the drone regions because, seriously, there was nobody there. We got camped for a few days once, but he left when we made it plain we didn’t care if he was there or not. Other than that, there was nobody at all. We thought the move to Branch might see more ship related violence, and perhaps even a new war with our old lords and masters. Sadly, it would seem Goonswarm are headed elsewhere, according to some, at least.

So, we are collecting more of the old gang together as the days pass, but I personally wonder whether this is an Eve corp, or a gaming group. It’s certainly an unusual corp, that’s for sure. Trying to explain to our new alliance’s leaders that I was CEO simply because a) somebody had to be, and b) I was the one who hated the idea the least, was interesting, to say the least. No rules, per se, outside of the requirements of the alliance, of course. Common sense, a community held respect for one another and our alliance-mates, and a family-friendly atmosphere; that’s it.

It’s interesting, really. With no requirements to participate, one would expect everyone to do whatever the hell they want, but no. The guys have all consulted the ADM map, and set out to push the military to 5 in every system in our constellation. Once they’ve done that, then industry will get a shove, along with PI and so on. Plus, our first day back in Branch saw us all on a gate and taking part in a little pop the interceptor.

This is the way I remember it, too. People joined in on the home defense simply because everyone else was doing it. No need to push anyone at all. All in all, it should be a fun time ahead.

Unless the Vikings stuff the game completely, that is.

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A Disturbing Question Arises

Our TS3 channel is not the sanest of places at any time. Topics range from one end of the spectrum to the other, most of it inane, but also hilarious.

However, yesterday one of our most esteemed members asked a question which brought our usual light-hearted banter to a resounding stop. The question was this:

“So, what MMO are we going to when this one finishes?”

Now, ordinarily we laugh at anyone rolling out the ‘Eve is dying’ mantra, which is as old as the game itself. The problem was, this member is no idiot, and he was serious. Two statistics had caught this persons attention, which, in his experience as a businessman of no small standing, spell unavoidable collapse for CCP.

The first was the number of people logging in, which, if you go here and select the 5 year chart, does show a wee bit of a downward trend. However, figures can be made to show all sorts of things, and that wasn’t the point that really got us thinking. The second thing was that peak logged in players have dropped from 60k to 30k over the last 2 years. His opinion was that, if a business he was dealing with showed a 50% drop in customer interest in 2 years, it was time to put a new resume together.

It’s one of the oldest mantras in business; grow or die. Added to this are the rate at which new characters are being created (new business) and player retention rates (repeat customers). New character creation (down the page on Eve Offline) shows a corresponding downward trend. Then there’s the figures that CCP released a couple of years ago, which showed player retention rates. I can’t find the chart, but the figures are etched into my memory; within (I think) six months, 50% of new players leave, 40% stay in high-sec, and 10% go to wormholes/low-sec/null-sec.

None of the above is good, is it? The bright side for us, as I pointed out to our worried member, is that MMOs tend to wither on the vine very slowly, so we may have many years left before the servers go dark for good.

It’s worth a ponder though, as to how a product so unique, so unusually hard to put down, and so open-ended, could possibly be so small a niche game after all this time. How do CCP management still consider themselves as even competent enough to shine shoes for a living?

When you consider their stock reaction to any form of criticism – ‘go to the forums and post your complaint, you’ll find plenty of other players eager to work this out with you’ (no, that’s not a quote, so you can’t ban me, I’ve never petitioned CCP’s innate retardation-level management policies myself, I have a blog, so bite me) – it’s easy to see the crux of the problem.

CCP themselves are completely, and blissfully, unaware of the reality of their situation. To ask complainants to visit the forums is nothing short of a troll, as they know damn well anyone complaining about anything on that turgid sewer of inanity is going to be on the receiving end of a trolling that is quite likely to see them leave the game. Hardly the course of wisdom when you’re already bleeding customers at an impressively hemorrhagic rate.

One has to conclude that they simply don’t care. Why not? Betting on VR? Risky business, that. For a small company to bet on a percentage of the next big thing, they either need a mind-blowing product (nope), or a backbone product to supply the cash they need until the big bet pays out. And that backbone product would be Eve, which makes the logic a wee bit circular, doesn’t it? I do hope any financier looking to help CCP’s push into VR has a good, hard look at the performance figures for Eve. With their glasses on. And preferably while they’re sober.

In fact, one only has to return to Occam’s razor to discern the reality of the situation. CCP are, collectively, dumbasses. That’s it, in my humble opinion.

I mean, think about it. Here is a company who openly encourages people to remove others from their customer base. They have mechanics which put the griefer in a win-win situation in almost every aspect of their universe. Then, when victims complain to them, they actually send them to the forums for their resident trolls to finish the job.

The problem is, most of those complainants are not unreasonable in their griping. High-sec war-dec mechanics are so broken it’s hilarious, bumping mechanics ditto, laughable bounty and aggression mechanics, undock camping, cloaky camping, gate guns in low-sec, nullified and armed interceptors, OP T3 destroyers, botting-friendly PVE ships, giggle-worthy sovereignty mechanics, and I forget how many other problems that are so stupid its breathtaking.

Not only this, but CCP has been told about all of these issues for years.

So, even the most loyal of customers, still in love with the Eve universe, are slowly driven away by the company’s obvious disdain for any part of their customer base bar griefers.Where will this lead?

I shall close with a quote from a very ancient source:

YOU REAP WHAT YOU SOW.

The Wrong Question

So, CCP are set to remove the daily opportunity system with the next patch. While the system worked in one way; more PVP kills generated, it failed in its main purpose. This was to entice more players to log in.

The whole debacle is centered around a question; how do we force them to log in? That, CCP, is the wrong question. In fact, it is so hilariously stupid a question, one wonders just how brainless this company really is.

Let’s just take a step back, and have a quick reality check. First, what is the definition of a game? According to the Oxford dictionary, after the first definition which covers competitive sport, the definition is, and I quote, “An activity that one engages in for amusement: a computer game“. There you go, CCP; that wasn’t too hard, was it? Amusement. That’s why nearly all your customers play your game; to enjoy their leisure time in a way that suits THEM.

So, to follow a simple logic chain: Eve is a game, which, therefore needs to offer amusement to prospective customers. Said amusement must appeal to those you wish to log in. For years, PVE players have been enticed by the ability to do what amuses them, even though Eve’s PVE is, for want of a better word, terrible. PVP players have been enticed by the opportunity to gank said PVE players. It is to defy those few that entire communities grew up around a raised middle finger.

Now, a quick refocus here. Most Eve PVP players will tell you its all about the good fights, and for some, mostly those in low sec, that is true. But, by far the majority of the minority who PVP in Eve, its all about being a jerk to someone else, and ruining their day by killing them with overwhelming force, under conditions that mean the target has no chance to fight back.

Naturally, this environment requires that the targets, the PVE players, are, you know, logged in. Here is where the problems really begin. CCP’s stubborn refusal to acknowledge the needs of their PVE customer base has led to a steadily increasing exodus of potential targets for those who would be dicks; the minority who are the focus of CCP’s myopic vision. FozzieSov removed any stable space available to industrialists, and the skill injectors saw a sharp rise in cloaky camping, with campers now able to field 30 or 40 alts.

But Blastie, some will say, null-sec isn’t supposed to be safe. I agree, and it never was, in my experience. However, even though the gankers were protected by game mechanics every step of the way, this was overcome by player organizations, intel channels, HD fleets and so on. Now, null-sec is set to become a new low-sec with bubbles. This, it would appear, is what CCP want.

Words fail me. Let’s just pull back a bit, and see the bigger picture. Eve is a unique game. A single-shard universe of infinite possibility. No other game comes close in its ability to get adrenaline pumping, create addiction to the levels of serious mental health issues, and even see real-life relationships both created and destroyed over it. It should have a player base in the millions. Yet, it remains a “Niche” game, double talk for something that appeals to a stupidly small amount of people. A game that staggers along with a declining player-base, loss of long-term player interest, and now with ever-more desperate but incredibly misguided attempts to bring in new customers.

Idiocy. That’s what this is down to. All the qualities which are the hallmarks of an incredibly stupid person are manifest with this product. Stubborn refusal to accept the blindingly obvious needs of the majority of customers, arrogance and nepotism at insane levels, and the allowance of RMT activities that see a game become a job to those foolish enough to drink the Kool-Aid.

Well, I can only say this; what goes around comes around. The problem CCP now faces is the increasing amount of competitors products that, while not replacing Eve in its niche role, offer amusement satisfying enough to see many players doing what I and my entire group are doing; playing other games.

We continue to rent 2 systems in null-sec, but only a handful of us actually use them anymore. Nearly all of us are playing a dedicated server of Ark Survival Evolved. It offers much better PVE, awesome graphics and industry content, and, most of all, nobody trying to just be a dick. I have no need to unsub from Eve, though. Plenty of ISK to keep the skills training for a year or so, until it runs out and I make the final decision. But, I’m not logged in. Neither are my friends, who were the only reason I kept logging in. No content for the gankers, sorry.

I have long said that Eve is a game made by griefers for griefers. I have never seen the need to change that view. CCP’s refusal to rein in said griefing has seen an exodus of players to other games. Their pandering to the minority of PVP players is repellent to those who would be their targets. The only good space for the majority outside of high-sec has been destroyed by FozzieSov. I don’t expect to see a change of course at all. CCP are spectacularly stubborn, or just plain stupid, depending on your viewpoint.

Well CCP, you have what you wanted. You continue to foster the minority of mentally unwell people who wish to take their disturbed frustrations out on fellow players and harvest tears.

Oh, yes. What was the right question? The one you never asked? It’s not how do we make them log in. It’s WHY ARE THEY NOT LOGGING IN. You idiots.

Well, what you now have is what you deserve. Best of luck to you.

o7.

Sympathy For The Ignorant

It’s an amazing phenomena, ignorance. And, of all the various facets of this fault, the inability of some to see that others have likes and dislikes, motivations, goals, aspirations and ideas different to their own is the one that captures my fascination the most.

Football fans are mystified when they’re told that someone else doesn’t share their fascination with grown men running up and down a field, trying to get a leather bladder full of air across a white line for some vague reason. Golfers can’t appreciate why some have no desire to wear silly clothes while they try to put a little white ball in a hole in the ground with a metal stick. Car and motorcycle racing fans decry any who aren’t interested in the results of a group of machines going round and round a track, only to be the first person to return to where they started from in the first place.

But it’s not just sports, goodness me no. Foodies gush and enthuse about a small piece of meat that cost $170.00, when it will end up going down the toilet as a turd tomorrow, no matter who cooked it. House renovators, weight reduction and fitness fanatics, music, art, and literature buffs, the list is endless.

And they all share one thing in common; the assumption that everyone would enjoy what they enjoy. Because, hell, who wouldn’t, right?

So, what has this got to do with Eve? Our beloved game is no different. PVP’ers think everyone would love PVP, if they just tried it. I’ve tried it, and I find it mildly entertaining, in very small doses. Most Eve players, though (about 80% roughly), simply have no desire to ruin the day for someone else. They would rather do what amuses them without being a jerk to someone else. Many argue that it’s the thrill of the risk of the loss of their ship, but most of the ones I know get a thrill from inflicting that loss on someone else, in truth.

I have read many times that Eve PVE is boring, and none more so than ratting. But, our guys prefer to rat and chat above all else. Except for the industrialists and miners who prefer those activities. The enjoyment of Eve PVE is, for the reason of ignorance, decried as something no sane person would engage in, so those who do, must do it for the ISK.

Now, I am going to shoot this particular piece of ignorance so full of holes it will resemble one of The Mittani’s fireside chats, by the time I’m finished. Because, dear reader, the members of our corp may not be the sanest people in the world, but none are locked away in the funny farm (yet).

We rent two systems in deep null-sec, but the reason is not to make ISK. For starters, most of us are space-rich enough that we need never rat again, me included. For myself, it was the timely purchase of some alts a few months before skill injectors were introduced. Said alts were subsequently stripped of their SP, and a 15 billion ISK character reaped about 60 billion ISK a few weeks after skill injectors went live. Yoink! Thank you, CCP.

Others in our corp are industrialists, with BPO collections years in the making, while some are just compulsive ratters. A few are even well-off in real life.

Naturally, as we live in null-sec, some losses have occured. That is part of the game, and nobody minds. Really, Eve would be very boring without that ganker minority to keep the danger ever-present. What is most fascinating to me is the impact of those losses, from the viewpoint of those who killed them, as opposed to the viewpoint of those who lost them.

First off, let’s get some perspective. Very few of our members (with the exception of yours truly) PLEX their accounts. I personally guarantee one of our members would take a year off my life if I ever had to guide him through how to use a PLEX to pay for his account. So, what is, let’s say, a 3 billion ISK Golem loss going to cost one of our guys in real terms? Remember, ISK is meaningless. Well, 3 billion ISK equals 3.5 PLEX, which equals $52.50 AUD.

That’s the cost of a decent lunch, for those who use RL dollars. I would never pay $52.50 for a lunch, but most of our guys fly at a different RL altitude to their CEO. Hell, a couple of them are RL CEOs. For those who are wealthy in-game, 3 billion ISK is probably a couple of weeks worth of casual ratting, which they would do anyway, because they enjoy it.

Let’s counterpoint that view with the obvious perspective of those who kill the ships. They crow in local, link the kill-mail, try to troll a reaction, and, occasionally (usually due to the victim’s level of inebriation at the time) get an angry retort. However, I think these guys may not comprehend the difference in viewpoint. Whenever one of our guys loses a ship, the first question asked is whether they need a replacement. Most of our guys who lose ships on anything that resembles a regular basis already have a spare already fitted in the hangar. It never occurs to anyone, it would seem, that the claim of  ‘It’s already replaced’ might actually be true. Because they would never have a spare, nobody else would either, right?

Those who live on ISK are more circumspect, myself included. Though, to be honest, my caution is out of ingrained habit, not necessity. I actually enjoy denying others the PVP. For some reason, it really upsets them to see my kill-board totally bereft of ratting ship losses. What can I say? I’m paranoid.

There’s another angle to this, too. That is the campers. Due to the same skill injector system which burst my wallet at the seams, campers now run literal armies of alts. Naturally, rental areas are prime targets. However, their motivation misfires on us. They like to think we need to rat to pay rent, and that is a huge faux pas on their part. They also think we rent systems to make ISK, but, again, uh-uh. We rent our systems to rat and chat in. If we’re camped, we rat in groups, which we often do, anyway. Some just play something else, like WoT, or WoWS, or Fallout4, or Minecraft, or whatever. The group ratting pays the rent, anyway, because we put the tax to 100% when we do it. Thus, military stays at 5, ADMs remain high, and we sit in TS3 and act the goat regardless.

One recent incident highlighted the difference of viewpoint beautifully. A camper dropped and killed an Eos. He sperged in local, having a good gloat. Two of our Kiwi members got stuck into a verbal ding-dong with this guy, and doubtless gratified his need for tears. However, at the time our two sheep-oriented friends were raging at this guy, they were sitting on a beautiful timber yacht which one of them owns, in the Bay of Islands on the North Island of New Zealand, drinking beers while playing on laptops and watching pods of dolphins swim around them. They’d caught a nice snapper that was on the cook for dinner, which they gloated about (cheeky buggers). They showed us some video of the dolphins, just awesome, there were dozens of the damned things.

For the rest of us, it was amusing as all get out. The poor sod of a camper probably thought he’d ruined the day for these guys, but really, how the hell could he?

Yes, ours is an unusual situation, I agree. But, that’s just us; we’re different. Anyone who can’t appreciate that, or thinks I’m lying, is just ignorant. Which is a pity. The world needs less ignorant people, really.

P.S. I don’t like Snapper anyway, so there Mal, you lucky sod.

Co-exist and Thrive

This post has been rattling around in my brain ever since the Citadel expansion went live. Last night at Ungodly o’clock, the manuscript for book 3 went to the proofreaders, so I am once again, a man with a life. Let me tell you, 30,000 words in 6 days is not a feat I intend to repeat anytime soon, as the brain fatigue is a killer. Still, for some perverted reason I sit and write this. Perhaps this is a cathartic exercise; I’m too tired to try to figure out whether it is or not, to be honest.

So, I just had a look, and back in late 2015 I posted about the possibility of a different kind of alliance structure to cope with FozzieSov. The curious may find it here. It was my opinion that the then current system of PVP based alliances using PAP links and ratting/mining fleets wouldn’t work. Anyone who is curious as to whether I was right or not may want to ask Goonswarm, Razor, CO2, and a swarm (sorry) of other alliances who are, well, less well endowed with space than they were.

My old alliance of FCON, too, is “Restructuring” down South. However, if anyone should be able to make a sovereignty holding alliance work, it’s them. It depends on whether they have truly learned, or, like all good politicians, are just trying to convince their members that they’ve learned. Only time will tell.

Here’s my take on what a sovereignty holding alliance needs to do to achieve what is written on the tin. Purely an opinion piece, this, just spit-balling, as it were. And remember, this only applies to alliances who hold sovereignty, nobody else.

  1. Be modest and take what you can hold – Yes, be reasonable about the amount of space you can expect to hold with your membership. Start small and expand slowly. Establish properly before expansion begins, too. The days of holding space ‘because reasons’ is over, and it is not coming back. Each system added must be accounted for with a stratum of different members to use it wisely. Mine all possible moons, fully upgrade and ensure you can keep indices to a high level. This guarantees that your space has a vulnerability window so small that you can defend it easily from troll entosis tossers.
  2. PVP’ers should be professionals – What is a professional? A professional is paid to do what he does. A pro musician does not sweep floors to support his music, that is a hobby, not a profession. Therefore a professional PVP’er does not need to rat or mine to support himself. In my experience, good PVP’ers loathe PVE anyway. His ships are supplied, not reimbursed. This means ships are assigned, not handed out like candy. A replacement ship is supplied upon receipt of a link for the loss of the old one. Pilots who prove themselves should also be rewarded in PLEX, to support their accounts. These PVP pilots do not click PAP links, and are either trained, or already skilled, in small through to large gang warfare. N+1 is useless for the majority of PVP in sovereignty null-sec now, and everyone I know is well aware of it.
  3. Diplomats should be good at what they do – These people are essential in the new Eve. Maintaining good relationships with your neighbors is vital for any alliance, now. I mean, real diplomats, too. Not slippery, snake-tongued assholes who lie for their alliance; not politicians who can only conceive of any friendship as being made of plastic. People who understand the principles of proper diplomacy; the ability to bridge culture gaps, age gaps, and IQ gaps. These guys should be looking to establish working relationships with their neighbors, not blueing half of null-sec. Think about it; why did Goons get their butts handed to them by the rest of Eve? Because they were assholes. I mean, they really were, not just to their enemies, but to their allies, too. Work in with those around you, and give them the respect they deserve as fellow sovereignty holders. Shoot everyone else.
  4. PVE’ers should understand their role, and so should everyone else – PVE players will need to adjust, too. It is not up to the PVP members to come running every time some jackass in a Stratios comes through. Their ships should be tanked properly. A properly fitted Ishtar will absolutely melt a Stratios, hands down. I know mine do, and so do all my mate’s Ishtars, too. And their BS ratting ships, too. They should know how to deal with cloaky campers (it’s not hard, honestly it isn’t), they should have scouts up to avoid gangs, they should be at the keyboard (capital rats have put a dent in AFKtars anyway), and should enjoy what they do. They should also pay a hefty tax, please read up on Denmark (the happiest country in the world) to understand why that is. The miners should be the hard-core guys, they know who they are, and I know a few. Guys with alt fleets, who use the right ships, and so on. They too, should pay a decent tax from the buy-back scheme. The industry guys should know how to make good ISK out of their BPO collections without fleecing their alliance mates. PI guys, POS fuellers, market stockers, shipping pilots, all should be good at what they do, not simply guys who want to be rich by leaching off an alliance for as long as possible. Which takes me to my next point:
  5. Leaders should lead, and managers should manage – The best leaders inspire, are openly communicative and are definitely NOT politicians. In Eve, we have the opportunity to get right what the world has ballsed up so badly it’s positively laughable. And that is, not let the scum rise to the top. A good alliance leader will inspire his people with a vision of united purpose and function. He would motivate his people, not baffle them with BS. He would not talk for twenty minutes without saying anything, he would not sugar-coat bad events with layers of positive thinking bollocks. He would get rid of sycophants and encourage those who have ability in a certain area by giving them responsibility in what they’re good at. He would also be aware of the danger of cliques and old boy networks. Managers would be able to organize systems that are efficient and easy to work with. They would listen with discernment to their members and be able to identify the valuable criticism that always lays amongst the dross of unqualified or just plain bad opinion.

There are many more things, of course. FC training, the need to avoid sycophancy and ego based promotion among FCs, citadel construction and management. Sovereignty null-sec alliances have been awful organizations for years, truly they have. Now, FozzieSov, capital changes and citadels have swept the rubbish aside. There exists the opportunity to create something better, something new. That’s my opinion, anyway.

Us And Them

“Forward he cried, from the rear, and the front rank died,

And the general sat, as the lines on the map, moved from side to side…” – Us and Them, Pink Floyd.

I had the opportunity, many years ago, to listen to an interview with Roger Waters on the radio. He explained his thinking behind the lyrics quoted above. The us and them mentality, he indicated (this is a rough estimation of his words, not a quote), is what is at the heart of the Earth’s problems. The ceaseless promotion of disunity by the world’s governments and media, via the hate of others dissimilar to ourselves, is what prevents humanity from correcting the destination towards which our planet currently hurtles.

As in real life, so it is in Eve. The assorted media sites are busy bolstering their ranks for the conflict that rages in the north of the null-sec map. Finger pointing, historical (or hysterical, depending on your viewpoint) diatribes and revelations of treachery abound. CCP have jumped on the bandwagon, eager to promote the destruction of the Emporium for all the renewed interest in Eve it’s able to generate.

A solid indication of CCP’s favor is in the avoidance of the use of the term “Money-badger”, which may carry connotations of their awareness of naughtiness in the south. So, they’ve latched onto the label “World War Bee”, which shows everyone what they intend to acknowledge this war as all about; Goon-bashing. Undoubtedly, CCP is more than happy to see the kid in the wizard hat lose most of his empire, and thus usher in a new era of instability and conflict in the north.

Mittens, however, isn’t out of the fight yet. Ever the pragmatist, he’s way ahead of the pack. The super fleet is already in low-sec, and plans are in place for a fighting withdrawal into the same region. Oh yes, the Money-badger coalition will take the north, and they’ll take all of it. Mainly because Mittens is going to let them. Because he’s a politician, through and through. Lesser intellects want to win fights, stomp on their enemies and take regions; politicians think way ahead of such tiny-minded goals.

Fozziesov has introduced the most one-sided sovereignty system ever. It’s the attackers that have the giggles, and the defenders would have more fun digging their brain out through their left ear piece-by-piece with a spork. Nobody knows this better than those who have held space since the changes. Indeed PL, NC., and many others decided that holding space outwardly (as opposed to via rental alliance programs – Mittens dropped the ball there, big time) was a stupid idea and dropped sovereignty, selling it to many who then had to learn the hard way that they’d been sold a pup.

So, Mittens has learned, too. And he intends to use that knowledge to his personal advantage.

Let’s divert for a minute. It hasn’t gained much attention, but recently the Emporium’s “New” Russian allies moved over 1,000 capitals to within jump range of the fighting. Thus, they have nullified PL and NC.’s super fleets. The Emporium’s supers may be out of null-sec, but you can bet they’re not out of jump range, either.

No, Mittens will sit in low-sec, sending out the interceptor and bomber fleets with which to destabilize everyone stupid enough to actually take sovereignty in the scorched earth the Emporium leaves behind. Except, that is, for whichever region the Russian “Allies” have named as the price of their fealty (I’m tipping it’s Branch, but that’s my personal guess). The rest of the north will burn. We all know PL and NC., along with the low-sec crowd, have no interest in holding space. So, this will be sub-caps; mostly fast, small and cloaky stuff. The absolute maximum would be some carriers and dreads only. Which is fine by most people, but it has a use-by date.

Yes, with the introduction the PassiveISK2000 (otherwise known as the citadels), the super fleets will once more be the way sovereignty is decided. At that point, everyone shifts the deck chairs once again, don’t they? CCP have done well out of all this. The current battles will be succeeded (with suspiciously convenient timing) by the fights over the passive ISK fountains to be erected wherever space can be made tough enough to keep them.

I mean, let’s not be dim about this. Anyone who has played Eve for long enough knows that the real use of supers and titans is to prevent fights, not promote them. The Russians moving those big toys within range of the north is not with the intent to use them, is it? No, it’s to send a message to PL and NC. “You so much as cyno in a super fleet and you’ll be double ended.” It’s the Eve equivalent of the old MAD system the real world governments use. So, once the ISK printers go live, and with the Emporium pared down to a roughly equal size with the rest, the big entities will park their super fleets in their various safe areas and continue with the proxy wars that bring in the cash for the deserving few.

And the punters are happy to go along with the narrative; hurf-blurf their meaningless little points of view into the comments sections of the equally meaningless media site articles. It never ceases to amaze me how passionately the leaders are able to incite the troops. Mittens uses the us and them mantra to the best effect possible, and that’s no surprise at all. By doing so, he also hands the opposition just the thing they need to do the same.

The generals cry ‘forward!’ from the rear, and the front rank will die; over and over again. CCP will tweak and twiddle to keep the lines on the map shifting from side to side, and once again Eve is kept alive on the backs of the true believers.

Good on them all, I say. As long as they all follow the script, the game continues on, allowing myself and many others to do what we wish, and watch from the sidelines. Now, where’s my hat and scarf, my whistle and my banner?

A New Understanding

Let’s get something straight from the outset; I am very slow on the uptake. I left school at 15 years old, and have spent most of my working life in trade related blue-collar work. The complexities of life are something I shy away from, and that includes Eve’s intricate political arena.

At some point, in pretty much every corp I’ve been in, I get asked to step up and help out with the running of the corp. I’ve done it, mostly out of a sense of obligation, but I hate it. Because I’m rubbish at it.

Right, now we understand each other, let’s push on. So today I had a minor epiphany regarding the major conflict driver in Eve. I had just read this article on Mitten’s website, which gives an excellent review of the history behind the current siege of the Emporium. And, aside from the lack of proofreading (as per usual) and more than a tad of bias, I have to declare it to be the best post I’ve ever read on that site. This caused reflection on my usual obsession; what is the underlying motivation behind all this?

Let’s run this theory up the flagpole and see if anyone sets fire to it; passive income is the driving force that CCP uses to instigate and promote large-scale conflict in Eve.

That’s right, it’s not an accidental consequence, it’s not some conspiracy between ex-Goon and PL devs and their masters, and it’s not left there due to CCP being a group of hard-headed numbskulls who don’t know what they’re doing. The presence of a passive income source in a top-down format is very deliberate. It’s also needed to make Eve what it is.

Think about it for a minute. What does CCP love to promote most about their game? The big fleet battles. Isn’t it also true that they tend to focus on null-sec when it comes to development? How many complaints have we heard over the years from other areas of the game that their sectors are woefully out-of-date and ignored?

Sovereignty null-sec has easily been the major focus of CCP ever since I started playing in 2009. With all the upcoming stuff, it has to be said that this focus shows no sign of a shift anytime soon. So, is it not logical to conclude that the thing that motivates nearly all the conflict in null-sec, passive income, is also deliberate?

That being the case, let’s look back at the history of top-down passive income in Eve. Unfortunately, I don’t have the time to research this thoroughly beyond my own recollection, so we’ll start where I started; 2009. If anyone can add to this, please don’t hesitate to do so in the comments section.

When I started playing, the core conflict driver in null-sec was moons. Specifically, one type of moon; the one that yielded Technetium. Technetium was a bottleneck resource. That is, it was a critical ingredient in the construction of T2 equipment and ships. These moons were not evenly distributed around, but clustered into certain regions. The entities controlling those regions were, therefore, sitting on a goldmine. Wars were fought, powers shifted, and eventually, there were only a few alliances that sat on these particular ISK printers.

Following the example of the OPEC nations, these people formed a cartel, and commenced to price-fix the living daylights out of the stuff. Protests erupted, and the cries went unheeded for a very long time. At the time, conspiracy theories abounded, and the consensus was that CCP devs were up to naughtiness on a grand scale. Eventually, in the Odyssey patch, they restructured the moons, and Technetium was relegated to nestle in with other resources, R64 and R32 moons, in importance. To this day, however, those moons remain an impressive source of passive ISK (billions per moon per month), but they had a successor for the top spot.

The Russians had discovered another passive ISK source; renting out systems. When the moon-goo waned as a premium source of passive ISK, rental programs sprung up everywhere. Even the Goons joined in for a while, although that was relatively short-lived. Then FozzieSov changed the landscape, along with the capital jump-range nerfs. To this day, though, PL and the Russians in particular rake in billions of ISK per month for very little effort.

Now, we stand on the threshold of a new era, and CCP have outdone themselves with this one. The new citadels will usher in a literal wellspring of totally passive ISK for the chosen few. I myself have decried this obvious free gift. The conspiracy nuts have gone ballistic, with their efforts spurred on by the total silence about the issue from both CCP and the organizations who are set to benefit.

However, I’m seeing this whole controversy from a different angle, now. Just look at what the citadel tax has already done, before it even hits Tranquility. One of the big organizations, Pandemic Legion, as just one example, stands to make trillions of ISK per month, by building just one citadel in their rental area, Malpais, and making it the trade hub. NPC station taxes will be dearer, so the shift won’t even be hard to implement. But, what PL stand to make pales into nothing, in comparison with what the Emporium stood to make. Think about it; let alone the idea of a New Jita in the high-sec system next door, the hubs in the Emporium’s null-sec regions would have seen Mitten’s pockets bursting at the seams.

Under the existing system, most of the passive ISK from null-sec trade hubs was more active than desired. FC’s made good money by setting doctrines based on their stocks and then whelping said fleets to promote sales. But, that involves a lot of work in comparison to doing nothing, and the ISK went to a larger group of people than desired. Add to that the SRP which had to be doled out, too.

Under the new regime, ALL the ISK goes directly to the very top, and they have to do absolutely nothing to get it. Hell, they don’t even have to build the damn thing in the first place, because of all the starry-eyed industrialists who would do the job just to say, “I was there.”.

Pandemic Legion, NC., and a few other bigger alliances are not stupid. With all those regions under Mitten’s control, the Emporium would have plenty of citadels to pump out obscene amounts of ISK. Mittens would have become the virtual owner of null-sec, and I doubt those alliance’s leaders want to rely on the crumbs from their new master’s table. Happily for them, Mittens is, above all else, a complete twat, and had managed to offend pretty much everyone else who played Eve and wasn’t a Goon. The IWI fight with SMA was a good starting point. All they had to do from there was put their boys into the mix with the newly crowned Money-badger coalition, and Bob was, indeed, your auntie’s uncle.

So, with the Emporium burned and bruised, there’s a lot of potential citadel sites now up for grabs. It all depends on when the allies decide that Mittens has been subdued enough as to how much of the new teat the Goons have access to. I seriously doubt PL and NC. will go all the way. CCP would not appreciate a raft of discontented Goons heading off to another game, or torching high-sec. However, the generous handout CCP have promised to the powers that be has already reaped a bountiful harvest. Scores of players are re-subbing, to get in on the action and seize the chance to give the Goons a black eye. I read many comments that the game is alive for the first time in years, and it’s obvious many who have never experienced Eve’s end-game are doing so now.

This will all renew the player base to a certain degree, and CCP haven’t even delivered the goods, yet.

I have to say it; well-played CCP, well-played.