Previously, on MinerBumping... In commemoration of the fifth anniversary of the Code, I announced my intention to assess the present state of EVE. There are, in fact, two EVEs. The EVE represented by the outer regions of space (primarily nullsec), was described as being in a dreadful condition. Today we conclude the description of nullsec, picking up our story from the introduction of jump fatigue and FozzieSov...
Lacking a way to travel across the map in anything like an efficient manner, nullsec entities were robbed of their incentive to try to conquer the galaxy. This led to an overall sense of stagnation. A substitute incentive appeared in the form of massive amounts of isk generated by EVE's gambling websites. Tens of trillions of isk were paid to bribe a new coalition into existence--the largest EVE had ever seen. The result was World War Bee, also known by its more descriptive title, the Casino War.
The Casino War's "Money Badger Coalition" launched an invasion of the Imperium. CCP's excitement was palpable. Seeing the war as the salvation of their company, CCP went to almost embarrassing lengths to promote it in the media. CCP Fozzie was even more smug than usual--no small feat. He believed that the Casino War completely vindicated FozzieSov. CCP was confident that the Imperium would be destroyed. This was icing on the cake as far as CCP was concerned, for they felt that the Imperium (thanks in part to The Mittani's efforts to monetize his empire) had become too much a force for stability, risk-aversion on a galactic scale.
As CCP hoped, the Casino War led to a significant boost in subscription levels. Predictably, the side with overwhelming numbers won the war. However, it became clear early in the war that The Mittani was not going to give CCP what they wanted. Rather than going out in a spectacular blaze of glory, The Mittani had the forces under his command take a cautious approach. He downplayed the war in the media, encouraged boring, frustrating methods of combat, and, when his guerilla strategy wasn't working, simply withdrew the remaining Imperium alliances from their former territories. What was left of the Imperium then moved to the other side of nullsec and shrugged their shoulders. North, south, what was the difference?
As the war came to a close, EVE's subscription numbers slumped again. But the worst part was that the gambling tycoons who had fueled the war didn't seem willing to pay for its continuation. They could've spent tens of trillions more isk to get a massive coalition to follow the Goons southward and smash them for good. Instead, the tycoons' wallets pretty much remained closed.
CCP must have felt betrayed. CCP's anti-RMT division had previously been all set to permaban the big gambling sites' leaders for RMT, but their superiors at CCP ordered them to stay their hand. Despite the gambling sites' association with RMT, the casinos created a massive isk sink that encouraged a lot of PLEX sales. True, a potential problem arose when other gaming companies started having legal issues connected to virtual gambling. When the EVE casinos funded the Casino War, however, that seemed to justify CCP's decision to keep them afloat and happily unbanned.
Things changed when the EVE casinos failed to start World War Bee II. A few months after the Casino War ended, when it became apparent that a sequel wasn't forthcoming, CCP declared gambling illegal and permabanned the casino tycoons--once again demonstrating that EVE's biggest content creators tend to get banned in the long run.
Now EVE was faced with an important question: Without the incentive of unlimited isk from gambling websites, would nullsec still be able to produce a massive war in the jump fatigue/FozzieSov era? The answer was no. For the next year, no wars of any real significance occurred in nullsec. There were no fascinating, gargantuan struggles of empire against empire to draw media attention back to EVE. Temporarily boosted by the introduction of alpha accounts, logged-in numbers went into a downward spiral. As of today, at least, there still aren't any great wars on the horizon. Content-wise, nullsec remains a desert.
Were CCP's efforts at reform always foredoomed to failure, or could they have done better? They could've done better. EVE has had three sovereignty systems: POS sov, Dominion sov, and FozzieSov. Of these, FozzieSov is easily the worst, and POS sov was by far the best.
Whenever anyone says anything kind about POS sov, POS managers from that era immediately shout in horror, their PTSD intensely triggered. Those critics are wrong for a few reasons. First, at the time of POS sov, modern nullsec organizations simply didn't exist. An alliance with 5,000 members might have 5 people (or less) who did all the real POS work. POSes were also much more broken back then. In addition, one could argue that the fatigue of the POS managers was a feature rather than a bug, for it put a limit on an empire's ability to project its POS power. Of course, the flaws of POS sov could've been fixed without resorting to the worse alternatives of Dominion sov and FozzieSov.
Jump fatigue, too, was a bad idea with a terrifyingly bad implementation. There was one sound principle buried in there: The biggest, most powerful ships (i.e., ships with jump drives) shouldn't be able to travel exponentially faster than all other ships. Fair enough. Where CCP went off the rails was its desire to shut off fast travel completely, for the purpose of limiting nullsec to small, localized conflicts. This foolishness culminated in CCP's decision to apply jump fatigue to jump bridges, not just capital and supercapital jump drives.
The obvious answer would've been to reduce the power of jump drives while allowing unlimited use of jump bridges by all ships. Jump bridges should've been like railways: highly useful and strategic, but easily sabotaged at any point along the route if left unguarded. If an empire guarded its jump bridges, it could project its power long distances along these railways. This would allow empires to extend across the galaxy, incentivizing large-scale conflicts while also creating new opportunities for small-scale and medium-scale conflicts as roaming gangs sabotaged the jump bridge networks and got chased by other roaming gangs.
CCP's one grand project at the moment in nullsec is the Citadel. This is another example of CCP replacing something with a worse thing. The idea of Citadels was to replace POSes and Outposts while also realizing the long-held dream of destructible stations. As usual, CCP made the most powerful Citadels way too defensible, fearing that players would get mad if they lost their stuff. On top of that, they completely undercut the purpose of destructible stations by introducing the concept of "asset safety": If a Citadel is destroyed, everyone's stuff gets automatically teleported to a safe place instead of getting blown up.
This again, was due to CCP's fear of players getting mad if they lost something--in a game with a unique selling point of PvP with consequences. CCP thinks its players are better off losing content than losing isk.
Outposts, of course, were obviously better in concept than Citadels. Though Outposts couldn't be destroyed, players lost access to their stuff if the Outpost was conquered by a hostile power. This created a balance of risk: Players were willing to risk storing assets in something other than a NPC station, but they still suffered a loss if the Outpost was captured--and achieved something if they conquered an enemy's.
I could go on--as you well know--but I'll leave it there: Nullsec sulking, shrouded in a dark cloud of hopelessness; CCP writhing in a dazed, confused state.
But that's one EVE. There is another.
To be continued...