I’ve been playing the game for quite some time. There have been times in the game where null sec stagnated. In the past, CCP usually only allowed this to go on for a short while before stepping in with nerfs and buffs to change the balance, and break the stagnation. They have a history of doing this:
- Null sec had the feeling of the wild west on the tail end of the Great Northern War. Vast stretches of null were open for grabs. Small gangs roamed through the space looking for targets. Mining gangs collected the (then) precious ABCs. Convoys of industrial ships, and later freighters, moved precious minerals and invaluable loot from null to empire. In the eyes of some of the influential devs of the current CCP, this was the golden age of null sec in Eve. It saw Goonswarm’s formation, as well as BoB’s consolidation of power and rise to prominence.
- Outposts were changing the face of null sec, providing the large organizations of the day near-impenetrable castles. In response to this, the size of fleets began to rise dramatically. No longer could a couple dreads be dropped into a system and destroy everything a player group had worked to build and collect. With this new-found stability grew the first period of stagnation. There was a period of violence first though, as some player groups began to balloon in member numbers, alliances were formed, and the previous loose confederations fell under the onslaught of fleets with more than a hundred pilots in them. At the end of November, FIX erected their first outpost and it led to the largest fight in Eve up until that day. AAA and IAC assaulted the outpost. Mercenary Coalition was called in by FIX to help defend their new outpost. FIX/MC brought a then staggering 144 ships to the fight. IAC and AAA responded by batphoning Red Alliance to their aid. FIX and MC brought the upcoming powerhouse that was BoB. The resulting second fight, a week later, resulted in a staggering 177 ships destroyed in one battle (a total of 650 died during that day of fighting) and IAC/AAA/RA limped away with their tails between their legs. Beaten. Meanwhile, the unorganized sprawl that was ASCN built Steve in the midst of the Pendulum War. That first titan was built and died in the span of three months. By the end of 2006, null sec was beginning to see signs of stagnation for the first time.
- On the heels of the end of the tech 2 bpo lottery of Revelations 1, the North became stagnant with the consolidation of the Northern Coalition. BoB/MC held the SW and had been in a poking war with IAC, where little more than roams to mess with mining/ratting occurred. At the end of March, that changed when RA/IAC/IRON/Goons/NC all attacked BoB’s CSAA, which was constructing a titan. The resulting battle was again bloody, and the baby titan died. This broke the stagnation of null. BoB was mad. They paid MC to attack the north to pay them back. A major battle took place which broke the NC. The NC was able to regroup, but D2 had collapsed, BoB placed YouWhat in Cloud Ring and Pure Blind, forming their northern meatshield. Triumvirate took advantage of the instability of the NC and expanded into Tribute. But, after this initial burst of fighting, null stagnated again. It had become clear the sheer numbers required to take space in this new era of Eve. The sov map stabilized to look like this:
- The majority of the first half of this year saw the Great War ignite. Meanwhile, Triumvirate destroying BoB’s pet You What unimpeded. Despite months of fighting, the map had only shifted from this to this:
MC’s Tortuga had shifted BoB’s focus. BoB redeployed against Period Basis. Then, in July, BoB (some say spurred on by CCP Devs) opened their first MAX campaign. They pushed north, but the NC pushed back. Meanwhile, Goonswarm had expanded into a behemoth in the south. 2008 was the second most violent years for null sec (per capita). CCP slipped in alchemy as the year ended, reducing the cash-printing machine that was r64 moon minerals, which reduced the value of stronghold Delve. By the end of the year, with frightening numbers of ships destroyed, the map looked like this:
- Stackless IO meant this year would see fleet fights double the size of any previous year. This year began with BoB being dissolved, leading to Goonswarm’s “burn the bridges, ATTACK” invasion of Delve/Querious. In the span of two months, in the face of some minor battles, the map had shifted to look like this:
The rest of the year saw MASSIVE fighting. The Southern Coalition began to form. The Drone Regions Federation began to form. With the formation of such entities comes fighting, to clear out threats to the coalitions. As 2009 was coming to a close, the fighting began to noticeably die down. Then CCP pulled the rug out from under everyone. Dominion came out, with an overhaul of sov mechanics, and the Southern Coalition attacked the Northern Coalition. Wildly Inappropriate began to rapidly lose Geminate, as it quickly became apparent that some flaws in the space mechanics meant a fleet jumping into a system would indefinitely black screen. Meanwhile, in the West, BoB Mk 3 (IT Alliance) attacked Sons of Tangra and Pandemic Legion. Neither Goonswarm, nor the NC came to their rescue, busy fighting the Southern Coalition. Sons of Tangra collapsed, their most hardcore remnants later forming The Godfathers. Pandemic Legion, however, was forced to re-evaluate the way they played. This loss of space, and their severed relations with both Goonswarm and NC, led to the rise of the guns for hire PL that heavily influenced null sec for the next two years. 2009 ended with a map looking like this:
- AOE doomsdays were removed, allowing subcap numbers to rise to prominence once more. The Southern Coalition returned south after Geminate, not willing to further risk cap fleets to the buggy Dominion mechanics. Goonswarm began fighting IT Alliance. In February, Goons imploded, then reformed as LODRA. BoB Mk3 reclaimed their space in Delve. AAA spent several months destroying CVA. IT Alliance convinced the Southern Coalition and the reincarnation of Triumvirate to join them in yet another attack of the Northern Coalition. After some bone-headed moves and horrible miscommunication, the Southern Coalition withdrew back to the south. IT Alliance left to rat up their space to improve it under the Dominion Sov Mechanics. Meanwhile, Triumvirate was at war with NC all by themselves. As tough as Triumvirate was, they simply could not come close to the numbers NC could casually throw around, but still made sure that it hurt the NC to fight them. By this point, the rise of the titan was becoming ever more apparent. Meanwhile, the swarm of new players known as Dreddit formed Test, looked at a map upside down, and ended up right beside Goonswarm in Fountain. Noticing the rising number of supers held by the DRF, NC attempted a preventative attack in October, which led to major fighting. Two further major battles occurred before the year ended, first was the destruction of a few NC supers by IT Alliance. The second was due to the increased realization that Technetium was THE bottleneck. PL held tech moons in Venal, NC wanted them, major battle for them led to the destruction of a nine supercaps. The map ended like this:
- To break up what was becoming a stagnation, CCP made a few changes to sov mechanics, such as a limitation of one jump bridge per system. These changes further shifted power in the north, that had already been under threat by the rising super capital might of the DRF. This was the beginning of the stagnation that we still live in today. Like previous stagnations in Eve, it was marked by massive fighting at the beginning. DRF first destroyed the NC, then the SC. The map was left as the CFC v everyone else as the year came to a close, with very little fighting for the last several months of the year. By the end of the year, a year that had seen the most impressive upheaval of sovereignty, very little was happening and the map looked like this:
- It was extremely apparent that null sec had stagnated as this year began. CCP attempted to stir up fighting again with a nerf to the Drone Regions, removing drone ore. This destabilized xDeath and led to a month of fighting, primarily PL being paid first by xDeath to fight SOLAR, then by RA to fight AAA. PL withdrew after several controversies, and began collecting Tech moons while SOLAR quickly rolled back xDeath and AAA offered RA Delve if they would stop fighting. Despite CCP’s pressure on the sandbox, fighting ceased after only a month. Goons had a series of quick victories in the north, leading to taking Branch and Tenal over the span of two weeks. Pandemic Legion, meanwhile started shooting people in Delve/Querious in an attempt to find some action in Eve. Test joined in as things escalated. Things continued to escalate, then Goons joined in, and resistance basically ceased.
Now we sit, months away from the next expansion, and CCP is rolling out a hail mary attempt to spur on fighting by rolling out a full alchemy mechanic for all moon minerals. Will it have any impact on the Technetium Cartel? Not likely. Will it spur fighting? It doesn’t seem to be shifting the sandbox in any way that could drive combat. Rather, it is a devaluation of strategic targets. At this point, CCP has allowed the moon goo problem to fester for too long for them to have many options. Devaluing technetium might actually lead to tech holders being less likely to fight for space “just because” while everyone else will continue to be constrained by the, well, lack of technetium (or drone goo, sorry SOLAR), limiting their ability to attack the wall that is OTEC. Breaking OTEC, and the stagnation of null sec will require a change on the order of a complete rebuild of Tech 2 construction mechanics. Soundwave had been talking up ring mining at Fan Fest. While it could conceivably be better than the current mechanic, CCP would also have to make mining actually… interesting for it to work. I am not a game designer, but it is hard to miss when something doesn’t work in a game.