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A Handful of Sand

Oh, Sov Null. How the thought of thee lingers on the lips that speak into the wind. How the thought of thee sweeps like a fire across a droughted field. It is a ravenous thought that consumes with the greatest hunger. And from the depths doth this coalesce and rip the very life from all other thought. -Sugar Kyle, the Weight of Sov, Chapter III.
On twitter, a conversation appeared. A bold player asked a question. Taz, of Stay Frosty started a twitter conversation that caught fire across #tweetfleet. Twitter is an interesting chatroom for Eve online. It is a twisted read that ranges across a myriad of thoughts, opinions, reactions, and belief. To break down to a very simple form, Taz asked why doesn't the rest of Eve rise up and overthrow the 'problem' groups of Eve.

Taz made a simple point. The complete whole of the game is greater in numbers, assets, and ISK than the sum total of the largest groups. If people banded together they could storm the power holders and break the grip that they hold. It is a very clear point.

The problem is that no one cares. Or, to not over exaggerate and create absolute statements at the same time, the sum total of people needed to take on this task are not interested. I know that I am not interested in overthrowing Goonswarm or PL or even the New Order. If you laid that before me and told me that now, my game play would have to be to take out these groups and all of my thoughts, energy, and focus would need to go towards this new goal, a goal that I'd have to complete with strangers I know nothing about, I might go and find another game to play will its over. I suspect many other people will.

It's not my problem. NIMBY applies here. While the issue of the null sec stagnation is one that affects the entire game, it is not my problem. Not on the level of lifting up my Jaguar's and rampaging into null with a disorganized herd of tens of thousands of players to evict a group I am not interested in. And it sounds terrible to say it that way. I could coat it and rub a little vanilla and cinnamon on it and serve it over ice cream but it would still be the same issue.

Even if Sov were to be fixed tomorrow, the dominant groups are of no interest to me and to unseat them from the thrones they have built for themselves is not the game that I wish to play.

You see, I consider myself somewhat up to date on Eve. I read my dev blogs. I read patch notes. I stay connected with the community. I believe that I am an active and involved player. Yet, when you say to me rise up as part of the Eve community and overthrow this other part of the community I find myself blinking and going, "No thank you."

Taz's topic also addresses only one of the issues on the table. That issue is the one of the entrenched power blocs. The second issue is unaddressed. That is the mechanics that led to the stagnation. Even if we cleaned the slate and cast PL and Goonswarm from Heaven the same situation would only happen again. We'd be delaying the future some but the same future would reemerge with different names and faces.

But it is both an issue and a valid question. It is just that, well, teamwork requires a lot more than a somewhat large, goal on the horizon. One would have to go all the way back and address the lack of global awareness possessed by large chunks of the player base. And that awareness comes with its own cascading questions of, "Is it wrong for them not to be aware?" and then, "Should they care about evicting goonswarm and PL?"

I can't say that they should care. I can't even push awareness other than wishing people at least kept up with the changes going on. It could be said that PL and Goonswarm (at least Goonswarm with their High Sec Arm) affect even those solo pilots, but... well... okay?

True activism is very personal. I've discussed wanting to save the world. To do so, I will need to create a plan and attempt to implement it. But, I don't expect everyone to get on board with me. I expect some people to actively contest me. As much as I think helping new players is an incredibly important thing I cannot bring myself to attempt to expect the responsibility to be taken up anyone who is disinterested in it.

I think that there should be engaging gameplay that would cause groups with the interest to evict Goonswarm or PL to take on the task. I cannot, however, support a global crusade. To many people don't care. There are players who do not know who these two groups are. It is easy sometimes to drown in the meta game and forget that Eve is full of pilots who undock in their ships, enjoy the game, and log off without a word ever being said or an article ever being read. And they to are playing Eve.


  1. I don't care either. The activities, the null sovereignty, the stagnation that Goonswarm and PL are in is largely one of their own making, and it doesn't affect my game in the least. I am a low-sec pirate, in a low-sec corporation that is part of a low-sec alliance, and not a damned thing that the CFC or any other group in null does has any noticeable effect on the things we do in Eve. I suppose we could band together with other low-sec groups and make quite an impression on Null, but meh . . . it sure looks like alot of unwanted headaches for . . . for what? What would be the payoff?
    Even New Order, which, for their cult-like rhetoric, I cannot stand, has not the slightest bearing on the things I do in Eve. I think the are a big, stupid joke, and their punchlines are the bigger, even more stupid carebears that fall victim to them. Hell, they often fall victim to CODE for the same reasons they fall victim to us: They want to play a game that Eve is not, and they refuse to adapt. But nothing the New Order does has the slightest impact on my game. So the question remains: for what? why bother?

  2. Interesting, a game change would which invoke player interest against the blocs? Firstly, I would foresee that bloc's ability to self protect through their lobby efforts would inhibit a serious upset of the status quo. I will predict it now; supercaps will be vulnerable to ewar within the next twelve months.

    If Burn Jita or Ice Interdiction can not motivate a collective response, then I can not see much to raise opposition. At the last time there was a serious response to Goonswarm;

    and that was a disappointment.

    As for New Order. The blessing of picking on miners is also a curse. Miners do do not have any influence and no one is coming to their assistance. But this also means that their ship loses or isk paid to extortions are not passed on in the mineral price on the market. In terms of "player generated content", New Order's net effect is negligible to rest of the player base. Thus the rest don't even need to care. NIMBY effect in action.

    On the whole of things, I don't see any crime in ignorance of the meta-game. It is just a game after all. Log-in; interact or don't; log-off. I don't need to think big; after family, employment and *gasp* other games, I just have enough time to "think-me".

  3. This pretty much. I just don't care about who holds what sov where. It only affects me in so far as that I like to know who is most likely to provide me with content when I feel the urge to roam in 0.0. But never have I felt the need or even seen any good reason to go and fight the CFC or NC./PL 'to the death'.

    I wouldn't even know what to do with the space, in case of a potential victory. I don't build supers so I literally have no need for owning sov space. And I can rat anoms and run sites just fine without having to pay a sovereignty bill, so why should I even want too?
    Lowsec provides all the PvP I could ever want and even when I do grow bored of that I've never had any issue finding it in 0.0 either. And I've been day tripping into 0.0 for PvE when ever I feel like it for a long time and never had any issue (the local bears cower in a POS while you run their sites and anoms 90% of the time).

    So if you end up reading this Taz, why exactly sould I even care about breaking the status quo at all? Or to put it more blunty what would be 'in it' for me?
    I don't want the space so that is no motivation. And I don't fight other peoples battles out of the kindness of my heart either.

  4. But Goons are EVIL! Every righteous person must fight them or they put their immortal soul at risk.

    On a more serious note: you have no reason to care, because they do not have anything you want and don't threaten anything you have.

    1. Gevlon,
      Your language choice captures what puzzles me about the histrionics that sometimes appears when particular players discuss Goon’s Space Depredations – righteous indignation. Not Space Indignation mind you, but genuine righteous indignation. That you, of all people, see through how bizarre this is should be powerful motivation for the righteously indignant to reexamine how they approach the game.

      With Gevlon’s language in mind I went back and read your post a second time (‘cause I’m incorrigible like that). For an Internet Space Politician your “Not My Problem” is cagey response. It doesn’t overtly reveal whether you’re outraged or bemused by Goon/PL/Code antics. You diplomat, you. I like it.

    2. That's because you are reading it in a voice I did not write in, Dire. Enjoy. :)

    3. Hah!

      Though what I intended to highlight was appreciation for the far from histrionic, entirely pragmatic tone of your post, in truth, I like your interpretation more - rereading your post as if Gevlon (who I’ve always presumed is not a native English speaker) was narrating. That is to say, reading in Gevlon’s voice rather than yours. Good God but that is funny.

      Yesterday I whined about you causing a spit take at my end of the net (“Ships will no longer bump off of dead bodies but will just plow right through them”) and now you have me nearly peeing my pants. Show some mercy woman, I hear people can die of laughter.

  5. Yes, Goons 'n' CODE could be overthrown, but they hang on the same way all successful criminal organizations do: by making it easier for the individual player to give in. They don't want or need to order you around or explode your stuff; they just want to collect a lazy tax from you.

    This is the evolution through which all warlords in history pass. First comes organization, then conquest, then some period of decadence, then destruction at the hands of the next warlords. EVE has rules in place to stave off that last stage, and yes, people don't do anything about it. That's because the sort of player that conquers sov is already out there, awaiting the next CTA.

    The rest of us know that EVE really is far bigger than its player base, and that it's possible to putter around in relative peace.

  6. "the dominant groups are of no interest to me"

    That's pretty much it in a nutshell. Don't play in null, never will except for random wanders, and don't really care what's going on there politically. None of what they do affects my very casual game which consists of small ship pvp and playing poker on EOH :) When someone finally cares enough, gears will turn and cages will probably be rattled. Perhaps emperors will be toppled. Whatever. It's all off my radar and out of my interest zone.

  7. The reason the indifference is lethal to the cause is that you have to really, really care. Gevlon was being facetious, but that exact kind of language is what nullsec leaders use to gear up for war, to get line members excited and mobilized. Because the first step in any such effort is tedium.

    Look at the "battle" for the ghost site in nullsec. High sec pilots set destination to nullsec, in numbers, and got absolutely slaughtered. Why? No preparation. No organization. No doctrines. Barely any PVP fits. No ships staged in tactically useful locations. No experience with the particular laws and tactics that prevail in lowsec and nullsec. No patience for Time Dilation. None of that is free, none of it is easy, and most of it has little to no appeal for people in Empire. Meanwhile, since the route went right through a nullsec staging system, and since nullsec and low sec dwellers have teleportation available to them, they were able to organize a couple of lethal choke points on short notice; they'd already done all the prep work long since.

    If it was just a matter of everyone saddling up the ol' cruise Raven one day and going to Deklein, there might be a chance of something happening. But the amount of work and time necessary to make anything happen presents a tremendous barrier, and if someone does it, the tremendously organized and experienced powers of nullsec have plenty of time and talent to infiltrate and sabotage the attempt.

    Or, J. Random Empire Dweller could just continue to do what they want to do, since
    none of it matters to them.

  8. Sov null must be stagnating, because members of the null powerblocs have been making trips to lowsec in increasing numbers and frequency. For some pilots, their presence has disrupted their gameplay. If the state of null remains unchanged, and more bored null pilots turn to lowsec for something to do, this could escalate to the point that it poses a significant problem for those who call lowsec their home.

    So the question I would pose to Sugar Kyle and every other commenter who claims that sov null doesn't affect them is this: at what point do you start to care? Will it be before or after some sov null coalition has pushed you out of your corner of space, and taken your "handful of sand"?

    1. Ahh, I said I do not care about toppling empires. I did not say that I do not care about the problems that lead to the stagnation of sov. The two are seperate issues although they combine to create the current problem. Yet, in a wished for future with a better sov mechanic I will still not care about joining others and toppling the 'greater' empire. That is not the game that appeals to me.

      If we were to overthrow Goonswarm or PL it would not fix anything. We would have new names to hate and be in the same positon with some of hte same and some new names.

      Sand is nothing but choices and options. It is maliable and every action shifts and changes it. From a breeze to the trickle throughthe fingers.

      Sov does come into low sec. I've had more than one sov group move into the area that I lived in. It brings content to the door and often more and better activity. I've also written at elnght about topics such as moon control and how low sec assets are not low sec assets. And when that happens I deal with it because nothing in Eve has ever said that low sec was sacred and sov was not allowed to come and screw around in it. And if a large enough sov group came and decided to displace I, SUgar Kyle, I'd have to take my ball and go elsewhere because that too is the nature of this game.

      But none of that is my caring about taking down Goonswarm in a massive wave of random players running to a rightious call.

    2. Yay, content.

      Is really all there's to that. I welcome them. PL in Amamake for example mostly is A. docked up (in which case they don't affect anything) or B. Out shooting things at which point they're content.
      I suppose that if you're big on using capitals having PL next door is mildly more annoying. But that's mostly pot/kettle if PL wasn't there to keep your capitals docked, you'd be dropping them on somebody less fortunate then you, yourself. I haven't got a whole lot of sympathy to give.

      Far as moons and such go most valuable ones are already either held or taxed by the blocs and have been for years.

      And that one time they dropped a super on your rifter? Wear that mail like a badge of honour my friend, wear it proudly.

      But ultimately people are EVE's content one of the reasons FW lowsec is so vibrant compared to 0.0 is because the population density is much higher, more people is a good thing not a bad one.
      Also history has shown that when people like Nulli or Evoke moved into lowsec in the past that while they may briefly upet the FW map very little actually changes in the day to day gameplay. So not to worried.

    3. @Sugar Kyle
      " And if a large enough sov group came and decided to displace I, SUgar Kyle, I'd have to take my ball and go elsewhere because that too is the nature of this game."

      That is one option of course. Or you could, you know, fight back. Which is the whole idea of "toppling empires." Right now, null bloc ventures into lowsec are on the rise because they are bored in their own corner of space. Were the null empires toppled sufficiently (or even just one of them), then yes, as long as the same mechanics exit then eventually the same state of stagnation would resume. But it took years for us to get where we are now (in terms of the state of null), and it can be reasonable presumed that it would take a bit of time for a new empire to reach the same state of power and stagnation.

      In the meantime, you have wars and struggles as splinters of the old empire and new factions rush in to grab power and space. During this time, there would be so much activity in null that it would keep most null pilots occupied with their own backyard, and it would be reasonable to expect that it would result in less interference in lowsec by nullsec blocs.

      In theory, toppling a null empire would be a reset switch; it would buy time before the same situation reasserts itself (hopefully time in which sov mechanics could be addressed). For those in lowsec, it would be a form of proactive defense. No, I'm not suggesting that lowsec should be "sacred" or off limits to influence from null blocs. Rather, I believe that the lowsec denizens should have an interest in defending themselves and their space (after all, doing so would result in more content). But I suppose your preferred defense is to run away to somewhere else. So the question then becomes, "where do run once they've grown to the point that they are everywhere?"

    4. Who said anything about running?

      Do you have an idea how hard it is to pin down even a single competent pilot in lowsec without bubbles and without being able to use light untanked tackle on gates? Nobody in lowsec is going to run. Because it's very hard to effectively control space in lowsec. You can't deny docking (outside of FW), peoples assets are essentially safe in stations and a set of good undock bookmarks makes station camping futile.
      Large 0.0 blocks have moved into lowsec in the past and still do sometimes on holiday trips, most lowsec groups either ignore them and go about their business (we always PvE/PI/Whateverwedo with hostiles in local, a friendly local is an unheard of luxury in most of lowsec) or fight them on terms we do like (can't cyno into ded space which includes FW plexes) since we can't be 'evicted' we have no reason to fight them on their terms after all.
      We have no real need to fight the blocs they are not an existential threat to lowsec residents we already live our lives in eternally hostile locales, whether those locals are hostile pirates, hostile fw or hostile bloc members really makes no difference to us. Amamake is living proof, did everybody in the area suddenly move out when PL moved in? No. They just became another fact of lowsec life that you calculate into your daily survival plan.
      So when (well *if* really) the day comes that the blocs are 'everywhere' then we'll just still be there too, doing what we've always done.

    5. @Kaeda Maxwell
      "Who said anything about running?"

      Sugar Kyle did. Read the part of her comment quoted in my previous post.

      Yes I know how hard it is to pin down pilots in lowsec; it's where I live and what I do. But with sufficient numbers, you can control parts of lowsec, and the null blocs have the numbers to do it. For now, it's "holiday trips" and the sort, but they've been becoming more frequent, and if null stagnates long enough, the numbers and frequency may increase to the point that it might as well be a permanent occupation.

      Is this in danger of happening soon? Probably not, but it is an eventual possibility. And no, I'm not advocating that it should be restricted from happening; more pilots in lowsec means more targets, regardless of their affiliation. What I'm taking issue with is the attitude of how we (lowsec residents) should respond. Do we wait with apathy towards what is happening in the space around us, regardless of how it may impact us in the future? If they come with enough strength and numbers to make our activities unviable and effectively push us out, do we acquiesce and leave, or do we push right back? Or do we act preemptively, and strike against them first?

      Personally, I'm of the "if they push, we push right back" frame of mind, but I'm not against the idea of massive organized attacks on null by high/low groups. If done right, it would be a major content creator, it would keep things interested for all involved by providing a major shakeup of the status quo, and it would prevent the eventual roll of null blocs over the lowsec lifestyle.

      Sugar Kyle seems to think that the proper approach is to keep her head down in the sand until the enemy is on her doorstep, and then pack up and leave. I just point out that this approach is all well and good until you run out of places to move too, and I don't think that taking action to stave off the day that happens is wasted effort. Simply not caring what happens is the worst of crimes.

    6. There are other methods to go about trying to change the world than running off to null sec and throwing oneself at them in a mass.

      I find it amusing that you find my head kept down in the sand. Thank you.

    7. @Sugar Kyle

      "It's not my problem."

      Yes, I call that keeping your head down in the sand. But hey, it's your bit of sand (until it's taken away), do with it as you like.

    8. Am I allowed to ask you, Anon, why this is not your responsibility? Or, if it is mine, why it is not beholden to you to convince me that it is now my responsibility to lead this war into sov null?

      It is not my problem. You cannot make it my problem. If they were on my doorstep it would be my problem then. But, it is not mine. It is a problem. It is someones problem. Why is it my problem? I cannot just pick up every single problem in the game and solve them because someone told me it is not mine to solve.

      Not being my problem does not mean the situation does not need to be looked at. Yet, this also means that my current set of efforts to fix other problems are not enough. Does this outweigh them? Should all of the other problems I have taken on be dropped and this one brought forward? Does responsibility only stop with me because I ran for the CSM? Or does running for the CSM cancel out that responsibility and automatically grant me others?

      I'm actually curious about why it is for me to fix instead of the people calling for the forces to rise or even yourself.

    9. I never intended to imply that it was your responsibility to "lead the charge," and I'm nor really sure where that impression is coming from. My point is that you claim not to care about this, but as a lowsec resident, it is may very well have a significant impact on you, and as such you should care about it. Apathy is a terrible disease; it blinds people to the events going on around them and keeps them from taking action to prevent disaster before it is too late.

      You posited that if null empires were toppled, it would have no effect. I argued that the opposite is true. Long term under the current mechanics, yes eventually new empires would take their place. But in the meantime, it would buy some time and give breathing room to lowsec and other areas of null. For a time, there would be conflict and content, and once the new big empire became established, they could just be knocked over again. Unseating these alliances and coalitions would be far from the wasted effort you portray it as.

      You claim that it is not your problem. I believe it is most definitely the problem of every player not already affiliated with the null blocs (and a case could be made that it is the null blocs' problem as well); most players just won't recognize it as such until it is too late to do anything about it. You specifically may not be interested in starting the rebellion yourself, and that's fine, not everyone needs to be a leader. But if someone else raised the banner, would you do anything at all? Or would you continue to keep your head down and claim "not my problem"? Do you care so little about the space that you play in, or the health of this game as a whole, that you would do nothing to save it?

      I don't believe that's the case, considering the position you have put yourself in as a CSM member. But this is also why I find it all the more puzzling that you claim to have no interest in taking action within the current game mechanics to stop the stagnation and improve the state of the game, even temporarily. To not care even to the point that you don't think it worthwhile for others to care is pretty severe, and I'm having trouble reconciling this with your current status, both as an active lowsec player and on the CSM.

      Again, I'm not asking you to lead the rebellion, but I would think that you could at least muster up enough interest to see that ending the current regime and the ensuing aftermath, however long it may last, would at least for a time provide a better environment for the game than we have now, and as such it would at least be worth consideration.

  9. Most other commenters have said it right. There's not much to draw a player to Null-sec. Once you have a system, you've basically signed your life away to forever defending it, or suffer the embarrassment of losing it.

    There's not even anything you can build there to make it worthwhile. Sure, you can make yourself a Titan, but what good is a ship if you don't use it? Yes, you can build some structures to make money... but what have you got to spend that on apart from more guns?

    Null-sec is essentially a giant gold mine.

    (Shameless promotion: I've written up a more in depth analogy on my blog.)


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