Thursday, April 10, 2014

Got Sov?

I have often heard it said that null sec is the ‘heart’ of the EVE Online sandbox. Primarily, because it is the place where everything is controlled and determined by players.But I have often wondered if the concept of sovereignty, as known and practiced in EVE, isn’t actually the least ‘sandboxy’ aspect of the game. After all, if you zoom out a bit from the finer details of territorial claim units, and system contestation (for FW sov) what you actually have is a predefined set of rules by which CCP informs you as to what you need to do to take ‘power.’ You have a path, and correctly following that path will lead you to the ‘end game’ of reaching the ‘prize’ of taking sovereignty.

I have often been concerned by low-sec pilots' recent tendencies to claim that low-sec needs more content. More tools. More…something. After living in null-sec for years, and then moving to live in low-sec for years, one of my favorite parts of this area of space is the fact that so little is defined by CCP, and so much is defined by players.

What it means to be a pirate? What it means to ‘own’ or have ‘control’ over a system. What it means to be a low-sec inhabitant?

I admit that this is something that I miss about ‘old school’ Faction War. I miss when the Amarr and Minmatar forced each other out of systems just by making it too hostile to live there. Not because some game mechanics literally locked you out of the station if you orbited X number of timers.

I miss when players defined what it meant to ‘win’ in FW, as opposed to a series of game mechanics that define what ‘warzone control’ is and what the reward will be for following the defined path to victory.

While Faction War improved greatly in many different ways, there were some really good things—good ways in which the old militia community interacted that have been subtly, and irretrievably lost. And while Low-sec definately need 'loving', I think we should all be careful as to what we wish and ask for.

As far as null-sec goes, the various discussions fascinate me. Force projection. Farm and Fields. Super capitals. Null-sec economics.

But the thing that fascinates me the most is that no one ever seems to question the idea of sovereignty itself, and whether or not it really works or is all that great. It’s more or less taken for granted that null-sec is about this defined set of things where you try to have your alliance’s name show up in the left hand corner of the screen in the end.

Perhaps I’m a crazy person but I occasionally wonder what null-sec would be like without sovereignty, but with all the other player-driven tools. In other words, there are no restrictions, rules, or definition for what it means to hold power or maintain control. Anyone can upgrade systems. Anyone can setup the equipment for building titans. Outposts could be built or overtaken in and of themselves without any prerequisites of owning the system.

What would power and control become? What factors would contribute toward how someone maintains control over a system? Or a region? What would it even mean to own a system? Would it mean the same thing, or be done the same way everywhere? How would different alliances ‘protect’ their space, or make their mark, or enforce their control?

With no more timers and towers and structures to kill or anchor in specific orders and at specific times, what strategies would be used to ‘take’ or 'control' the system or area? Would people barricade ‘entrance’ systems? Would there be secret jump bridge networks, and surprise attacks on outposts for resources?

Would things become more blue as people band together, or would major groups have to contend with dozens of small groups henpecking at their outposts and setting up shop all over the place? Or would people simply become passive about it altogether?

It would be a fascinating thing to observe.


  1. I like your conceptualizing trend in posts.

    As an aside, I always wondered why I could ignore FW in FW systems. Shouldn't I have to pay a price if my race lost a system? Why should the NPC be treated as inferior and less realistic than sov-null?

    1. Lore wise they actually are. Capusleers are immortal demi-gods, NPC's well they don't live on mount Olympus so they don't matter basically.

      Anyway the problem with FW 'mattering' in FW space is that many people who share that space aren't in FW and can't affect it all (PL's Amamake residents for example). Many of the veterans lived in that space before FW even existed. Also race allegiance isn't really thing for many players most of us don't roleplay at all so what would you even base that of?

  2. Would not your version o Nul-sec be what WH space is now. No one can own a WH system but can have force where they control it to a degree.

  3. The mass limits on WH space changes the dynamic a lot. If null had no Sov, you could still bring hundreds or thousands to a system. You cannot do that in WH space in the same way. And there are no set geographies. So there are some fundamental differences.

  4. Now this is a fresh idea. Null without renters. Alliances actually having to police systems. The big blue donut would go away quickly, allowing space for small alliances and even corporations to try their hand in null. Goons leaving to burn Jita might find someone had raided "their systems" upon returning "home."

  5. I completely agree. As a long-term veteran of PvP MMOGs, it's fascinating to see how the players shape the landscape given a lack of tools. Asheron's Call Darktide was a good example of this, with groups "owning" towns and leveling areas just by occupying them and defending them.

    I'm not convinced the sov system should entirely go, but a "less is more" approach might be interesting.

  6. Late to the party, but you are definitely not the only one. I've been kicking around the ideas of replacing all the mechanics of sov with standalone structures since complaints about sov and structure grinds before last year's Fountain War. I put a brief outline into my survey the other week and hope to get some kind of post up within the next few days.

  7. This idea sounds a lot like pre Dominion sov which was based around POS's.