Or, How Game Mechanics Prevented the Largest Throwdown in MMO History
For those not up to speed on nullsec, there currently exists two very powerful blocs in New Eden – the Clusterfuck Coalition and the Honey Badger Coalition. The CFC is led by Goonswarm Federation, an alliance primarily made up of users from the popular forum SomethingAwful. The HBC is led by Test Alliance Please Ignore, an alliance that also comes primarily from an out of game source (namely, Reddit).
To understand the complex history between these two entities would require more words than I’m willing to put down right now. Here, however, is the short version: Test came into nullsec under the aegis of Goons. Test swiftly outgrew Papa Goon’s tender embrace and struck out on their own, to the south. Their first steps were a bit wobbly, as to be expected, but Goons helped Test where and when they could, asking for little in return (other than a powerful blue ally). Grudges were born in these growing pains between Test and other Goon allies, leading to bad blood even a year after Test fully stepped out of the shadow of the Goon machine (and into the shadow of Pandemic Legion – but that’s a story for another time).
Now most of nullsec is covered by one of these two behemoths. In the north, the CFC; in the south, the HBC. Over the past few weeks, apparent boredom (and a little of that bad blood) began to make itself known to the HBC. Test in particular began to harass Fatal Ascension, a CFC alliance. Things became heated when HBC ‘Head Diplomat to the CFC’ Bring Stabity stated boldly to a CFC Senior Diplomat that Test’s ultimate goal was to destroy Fatal Ascension in such a way as not to arouse the sleeping giant of the north – Goonswarm.
This resulted in repercussions. The shared Jabber channel between Test and the rest of the CFC allies was disbanded. In response, Montolio (leader of the HBC) kicked all Goonswarm accounts from the HBC’s IT infrastructure, a move more than a little reminiscent of closing down one’s embassies or ejecting all foreign dignitaries. Goonswarm, however, seemed inclined to shrug this off and carry on. However, Montolio wasn’t having it.
Instead, he embarked on a short and vicious propaganda campaign, seeking to unite all non-CFC entities in a Great War Against The Tyranny of the King in the North. There was one small hiccup to Montolio’s plan, however: Pandemic Legion. PL enjoys a special symbiotic relationship within the HBC. Though not the formally recognized leaders of the coalition, PL holds most of the HBC’s supercapital military force. PL fleet commanders hold the reins in wartime and PL holds no sovereignty, allowing them to operate more or less at will. They are not invested in sov infrastructure, allowing them to (if things go south or if Montolio were to piss them off enough) simply walk away.
The part where things get somewhat disappointing is where Shadoo, leader of PL, and The Mittani, leader of the CFC, sat down to hash things out. It was swiftly agreed that no one wanted to participate in actual sovereignty warfare, for the simple fact that its core mechanic involves not fighting people, but shooting stationary objects. The sovgrind is literally so boring that it stopped what would have been the greatest war in MMO history from going forward. I have no doubt that if sovereignty did not involve the deployment and destruction of structures as its core mechanic, PL would gladly have let Montolio rally the troops forward unto destruction.
Shadoo informed Montolio that actual sovwar would not be happening. Instead, a reset of standings and some essentially ‘for lulz’ fleet combat would be the extent that hostilities would escalate to. Montolio did not take this high handed declaration well, conducting a bit of a verbal slapfight with Shadoo via HBC Jabber broadcasts. This short fight between the formal leader of the HBC, and its military backbone, ended predictably: Montolio has ‘decided’ to take a break from EVE and has handed over the reins of the HBC to a trusted lieutenant.
Some may read this story and roll their eyes. Drama llama crap, nullsec politics that you don’t care about, etc etc. However, here’s the part you should care about, reiterated for emphasis on just how silly it is:
A war that would’ve involved 20,000 players, 75% of nullsec space, and hundreds of supercapitals was halted not by diplomacy, but by a game mechanic so dreadful that those who have experienced it previously have no desire to do so again.
This must change. Players often contemplate how to ‘fix’ nullsec in such a way as to allow smaller entities to enter the Grand Game of Sovereignty without kowtowing to the established lords of space. They come up with inventive and outlandish ways to achieve this. However, it’s all a bit unnecessary. If this war had happened, the turmoil involved in it would likely have allowed windows of opportunity to open for small entities to gain toeholds in space, be it from turmoil, lack of coordination, or invitations from the victorious bloc to come hold space.
Fix sovereignty, allow the Great Wars of New Eden to actually take place without threatening mass burnout, and voila – nullsec, fixed for all.
(Of course it isn’t that simple, but addressing the core dynamic of nullsec in such a way as to allow more conflicts to happen would certainly be a great start)