Nullsec, the lawless (and largest) part of the map, where players can do what they please, requires an entirely different approach than FW, w-space etc. Upwells were/are part of that design, sov mechanics are a part of it, so is power projection, and swinging the bigger stick. They all reflect the needs of nullsec gameplay.
Instantly projecting power outside of one’s region ? Not feasible with the current mechanics. It requires a lot of planning and deciding, in other words time. Yet, I can’t imagine a “fun” sov space (or the entire nullsec portion) without being able to move troops across the map to have the conflict. “Fun” is not border skirmishes with bad neighbours. “Fun” is not having to plan and build and move for months to get to the content. But that as an aside. The power projection, N+1 and ansiblex discussions, in my opinion, are a diversion from the core problem with bloated claims (sov itself) across unused regions by sov holders. A radical solution could be: no significant presence + activity over time = no defendable sov. Perhaps establishing sov should only be possible after an initial “pre-claim” and achieving an ADM index threshold. And, admittedly, those could be garbage solutions…
Lots of us can produce ideas on how to fix stuff, but which are the right ones ? The behavior of pilots in New Eden is fluid. Windows of opportunity open up in nullsec, not only to gain a foothold for smaller groups to grow in and become the next significant force, but also for CCP to implement changes that give leverage to those opportunities if they have a vision on healthy gameplay in sov space. Today’s solution may be a death knell in two years time, so today’s solution should be replaced at that time. And that should be a constant effort with a relatively short cycle time (5+ years is not a short cycle time).
Take the redistribution and its effects on both the economy and the use of the biggest toys in the game, as an example. You really want to hold your sov space ? You’ll have to have the guns to support your ambitions. Good luck in today’s economy, bloated market prices, ridiculous mineral price index, dito production schemes (not to mention the SP needed), the logistical problems that grew worse, etc. Good luck as a small group in sov space to even cope with those issues. No level of flexibility and agility of small groups is ever going to provide an answer to the firepower of large groups, without fixing the resources and the manufacturing as the very first step.
Scarcity/redistribution was a very poor move, and as often is the case, the biggest groups were the least affected. They still have their big tools, they’re just not being fielded. Instead of flood planes we now have quagmires and bogs, allowing for very little movement in any direction (see the so-called war in the north). Instead of people enjoying their toys they’re afraid to use them because the only solution that was implemented was the one that made them unaffordable (for literally everyone), to use, to lose, and to build. Quite unimaginative, and also a deterioration of too many aspects for too many players across the entire map. That needs fixing, first of all, I think. Give people their favorite toys and activities back so they can get some return on their invested time again. Clearly, for nullsec, it was a mistake !
You can’t squeeze the toothpaste back into the tube, and you should never take away what you’ve given to players to play with. And, related to the renting question and sov holding etc, it’s obvious that also the smaller groups need similar toys as the ones the big groups have. So make them available again. And make some new toys to counter them, so we’ll be good for the next two decades…
Then turn attention to purely sov related questions, review and revamp the rules for sov claiming and holding. There’s plenty of devs that could come up with novel solutions for exciting gameplay if one lets them and, like you say, take the lessons from the past into consideration when designing these solutions.