“There is an old Vulcan proverb. Only Nixon could go to China.”
– Captain Spock, The Undiscovered Country
Greetings. If you’d to catch up on who I am and why, last year, the Imperium elected someone with zero kills to the CSM, you can find my original CSM announcement post and YouTube video here. Otherwise, read on.
When CSM 17 took office last year, the game was in the midst of a sort of summer doldrums: the hangover of the game’s longest-ever map-encompassing war, scarcity, and the changing nature of the real-life pandemic in early 2022. Fourteen months later, CCP has successfully released two expansions and has not seen the same sort of declines in player count this summer as the last. The game feels healthier, and the playerbase’s reception to the new content has largely been positive. On the CSM itself, our relationship with CCP has also been good: in spite of various missteps, we have felt like CCP is receptive to our feedback, and that we got good opportunities to influence each expansion pack for the better. This is the good-cop take on the term of CSM 17.
The counterargument goes as follows: EVE’s original endgame, the contest over the nullsec map, is somewhere between stagnant and dead. The major nullsec blocs are TZ tanking every possible objective, messing around with highsec war mechanics out of boredom, and have created a game preserve with a quarter of the map rather than find reasons to contest that territory themselves. Shifting player focus has led to surprisingly large ISK faucets being created or enlarged in high-class wormholes, Pochven, highsec, and through various event arcs – inflating the ISK price of PLEX and drawing players into theme park content at the same time. This is the bad-cop version: the game remains stuck in a metaphorical 2nd gear, without a proper engine of endgame competition to drive it.
The difficulty is that CCP has been burned repeatedly by nullsec. The Citadel/Ascension/Lifeblood trifecta and the ensuing “Rorquals online” period, as well as the playerbase’s reaction to Scarcity and the ensuing stagnation, have proven out the difficulty of changing nullsec’s mechanics without damaging the game’s economy or power curve. It is this complex and challenging situation towards which I attempted to orient my skills during the first year in office. Luckily for us, there are answers to this thorny set of problems, hiding in plain sight in the history of the game. After first being elected, I went and read the patch notes. All of them, in reverse order, all the way back to Exodus, Castor, and Second Genesis. And there, at the beginning of time, Bob revealed to me the true nature of EVE.
And behold: it was in the form of a Triangle.
The Triangle is an idea: that EVE’s fundamental mechanics lead, inevitably, to at least three separate playstyles which are critical to the continuing health and dynamism of nullsec and the universe as a whole. In a way, one can think of a playstyle as a psychographic and behavioral profile of a subset of the playerbase: similar in concept to the “Timmy, Johnny, and Spike” categories familiar to many Magic the Gathering players. But it can be more than just a profile: two playstyles can have in-game mechanical support for extracting the value of space in different ways. The key idea of the Triangle is that any given celestial should have different sets of mechanics for acquiring the value thereof, suited better to the playstyles represented at each corner. The result of this is apparent: different groups of players choosing to value the same slice of space differently from one another, simply because of how they play the game.
This is the case I have been working on for nullsec. The space should be far more flexible than anyone has given it credit for, and by building up multiple parallel tracks of differentiated nullsec mechanics, CCP can make things interesting again for more of the playerbase, and reclaim nullsec’s intended purpose as the competitive endgame. Stay tuned during the campaign season for much more on these topics and the future of EVE Online.