One Night in Asakai

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Last night we saw another event of the sort you only see in Eve Online. Triggered by a misclick that sent a titan into Caldari lowsec without a support fleet, a series of escalating hotdrops by major coalitions throughout New Eden ended in a giant furball involving over 3000 participants and an untold fortune in ISK worth of ships, a trillion ISK or more of which is now so much vapor.

It's events like these which show the most important distinguishing features of Eve; emergent gameplay, world-shaking events that touch the entire player base, and a community like no other. Despite the fact that last night I was puttering around in Providence trying to crawl my way back to solvency after an incredibly stupid loss of my own yesterday, I was caught up in the events unfurling in Asakai. I was watching streams from a number of players who were involved in the fight, listening to the live broadcast of Podside, talking with the #tweetfleet on Twitter about it, and wondering what the repercussions were going to be for me, my alliance's small corner of nullsec, and for the game at large.

There is no other game -- even other MMOs with larger player bases -- where you get this kind of immersion, and in large part I think that is why Eve's community is as tight as it is despite the fact that it can often be as caustic as the worst depths of MOBA communities. Whether we like it or not, every Eve player, from the day-old newbie to the carest of bears to the bitterest of vets, is in this together. It's that reason why I keep coming back to Eve even after finding myself frustrated on many occasions, and why I have flown to Iceland three times (with my fourth coming up in April) to spend a week with a thousand other internet spaceship nerds.

But...

Unfortunately, last night's events in Asakai highlight a couple of issues with the current state of New Eden. The sheer scale of the battle last night was impressive in itself, but personally I think there is a problem when a significant portion of nearly every major nullsec coalition's capital forces can be thrown into a battle with almost no notice. It is a testament to the organizational skills of the coalition leadership that this is possible, but this kind of force projection ability makes limited engagements and the survival of small nullsec entities a virtual impossibility. As a member of the Providence coalition, I am under no delusions that we could withstand a full court press by one of the four or five major coalitions. Unlike in the real world, there is no internal limit on the expansion of a nullsec alliance or coalition; in all but the most extreme cases, it does not matter how large a border they have with their neighbors because their fleets can respond almost instantly to a significant threat almost anywhere thanks to jump bridges and titans.

There's also the problem that the nullsec coalitions have become so rich thanks to passive income from technetium moons and other sources that despite the staggering scale of the losses we saw last night (according to TheMittani.com, the CFC lost eight supercapitals and around 75 normal capitals), it seems unlikely that there will be significant impact on the readiness for any of the nullsec alliances. Yes, we'll likely see a spike in mineral prices as both sides rebuild their losses, but I have no doubt that the Goons have enough ships in reserve that those losses last night will be replaced by Monday morning. While this lack of financial and military risk is part of what enables coalitions to feel that committing hundreds of capital ships like this is feasible, it's yet another reason for the stagnation we see in nullsec today. When it's difficult for even a massive battle like this one to significantly impact the fortunes of the participants, there's even less of an impetus for the nullsec coalitions to engage each other in the kinds of wars which can change the shape of the Eve political map. If the much-anticipated war between the CFC and HBC erupts over this, I suspect it will be more about ego and a desire for "good fights" than for any substantive change in the balance of power.

I won't lie -- I live for nights like last night and I love the excitement that will no doubt be blazing through the community for the next week as we relish the shared adrenaline high that events like Asakai can give us. I just worry that some of the darker implications of events like these will get overlooked in our exultation.


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All else aside... I'm glad you're back in EVE. New Eden was a poorer place for your absence. :)

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This page contains a single entry by Chas Blackwell published on January 27, 2013 12:43 PM.

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