Eve Online’s Aegis Update Shakes Up Sovereignty

I’ve stopped thinking of Eve Online [official site] as an MMO at this point. In my head it’s just a big, floating war which every now and then I look in on to see what caused the latest floating hunk of wreckage. I find it as intimidating as I do fascinating and no more so at patch time, which has increased in recent years as developers CCP have moved to a regular update schedule rather than yearly big expansions. The ‘Aegis’ update has brought arguably the most important change in years, altering how player-ran corporations control areas of space in null-sec, the PvP-focused and richest areas of the game. It rolled out earlier this week and, despite some increased server downtime after the patch, some interesting things are already happening.

First, here’s CCP’s explanation of the new system:

The major difference between this and the previous system is it’s much easier for small groups of people in less expensive ships to raid an area, force it into this reinforcement state and then battle for it once it unlocks. If you and your five buddies are going up against one of the larger organisations, you’re still quite likely to get stomped in that following battle, but it’s a big change from the almost impossible task of ‘flipping’ stations in the past. This playlist of videos has more details on exactly how each stage works. CCP Fozzie also did a two part interview with fansite EveNews24 on everything CCP is currently working on and the changes made to sovereignty.

So, what has this actually meant for the politics of EVE and its thousands of players? At the moment, things are still balanced on a knife edge, with everyone waiting to see what everyone else does. The reaction to the system itself has been mixed, with some enjoying any change that might shake up the somewhat-stagnated balance of the mega-corps while others don’t find the new system interesting enough. Before any fight breaks out there’s usually a lengthy period of just watching someone throw energy at a space station, after all. Still, responding to these problems requires significant man-power and may not be particularly action packed if the attackers simply withdraw, so these corps keeping hold of a lot of territory may bore their membership, meaning they’ll downsize by necessity.

Another fansite, The Mittani, rounded up the action from day one. You can follow the areas spoken about on the EVE-Files sov map. The most interesting area, involving Spears of Destiny, is in the upper right. As writer Set’s Chaos says, what will be interesting to see is how things developer over the next week and, indeed, months and years as the system is refined and players find the holes. Expect more stories and lost ISK as the year goes on.

Any Eve experts out there with thoughts on or experience with the new system already?

30 Comments

  1. jellydonut says:

    The new system seems, from first impressions, to be godawful. The old one was godawful too, but it appears CCP put it into overdrive in order to accomplish the amazing feat of coming up with something *even worse*.

    I shall give it time but for now it seems to be a system which encourages even less spaceship battles than before, and that’s not a good thing. The current gameplay consists of Scooby Doo-type chasing of interceptors, the fastest ships in the game, and pointing a laser at things for two hours. It’s not very interesting. Not at all.

    • MukkyPuppy says:

      I was in a fleet third partying an Aegis-/Fozzie-sov fight on Wednesday night. We skirted around the main battle, picking off interceptors and other small things. The sheer number of nodes doesn’t really encourage a fight, as you’re too spread out most of the time. In one system alone there were three command nodes spawned. And no one came to entosis it at all. It still devolved into a single battle, but only after a pretty boring hour of playing chase, after which the “winners” had to spend another hour entosising the remaining nodes.

      As a third party, we did the honorable thing and while trying to head home got caught and exploded. It was fun for us since we neither had to entosis anything nor fly all the way home.

    • Ufofighter says:

      It’s too early to judge, and EVE is a game where large alliances have members with way more knowledge of the metagame and exploits that anyone on the company but, for now, looks like it won’t solve the biggest problem of the game: null sec stagnation.

      In fact big alliances are launching renter programs again, so they aren’t afraid of losing space.

  2. Rymdkejsaren says:

    EVE is definitely the most interesting game that I won’t ever play again.

  3. ChromeBallz says:

    As a 12 year vet, i don’t see this working. The system still revolves around a) structures and b) timers, both of which are exactly what you want to steer away from.

    Any kind of structure grind – entosis link or not – is boring. The idea of making you more involved in this case is admirable, but fails to hit the mark, as you’re still going to get a numbers game – Bring more people and generally you win, and win the sov game.

    Timers are worse, as they actually *promote* not logging in to the game, as it tells you flat out that ‘there is nothing you can do while this timer is active’. It’s utterly stupid imho.

    There needs to be a system which organically rewards you with benefits and sov for using any given system actively, with 24/7 opportunities and no structures or timers dictating the flow of warfare. I’ll be honest and admit that i can’t think of a good way to implement it right now, but it saddens me that the devs have spent 10 years failing to come up with anything else than ‘structure grind and timers’.

    This new system will change little to nothing about the ‘blue donut’ as it’s called, with alliances not seeing any point to attacking one another.

  4. Ufofighter says:

    In my opinion the main problem with the new system, as with most of the new or revamped stuff in the last three years of eve: boring and intentionally time-consuming.

    Since they started to “fix” all the broken things the game got more and more polished and… boring.

  5. MicroNova says:

    If you want to play Eve in a way that avoids the Null Sec Super Politics, Low Sec Capital ‘Hot Drops and other supermassive blobbery, try Wormhole space.

    It’s the game they should have made from the start.

    http://wormholefundamentals.com

    • Cinek says:

      Where’s ‘report spam’ button when you need it…

      • rollermint says:

        How is that spam?

        Wormhole is a major gameplay feature of EvE, and that website linked is EvE related.

      • jo-shadow says:

        Belay that. This link is legit and related to the discussion

    • lordcooper says:

      Seconding this.

    • Cropduster says:

      Wormholes can carry their own special brand of pve/probing/rolling tedium underneath the veil of mystery. Just keeping on existing every day involves what can be a tonne of eye gouging busywork, whereas in a nullsec block there’s generally someone else gouging their eyes for your benefit.

      On the other hand If you just want fights and fleets in cheap stuff that you don’t have manage a 24/7 production line to pay for, and just be a small gang hero for 2 hours a day, Faction Warfare Lowsec is an amazing place to live.

  6. Cinek says:

    Wow, that sounds horribly overcomplicated and… artificial (or “gamey”) mechanic. I’m usually one of these guys that look to immerse themselves in the game world, and this looks like a system specifically designed to scare people like me away. Not to mention that this thing looks like it takes an enormous amount of time and effort for something that isn’t all that special considering the amount of systems in a game.

    • jellydonut says:

      Artificial and gamey hits the nail on the head. CCP desperately needs to hire game designers that know what they are doing. I think hiring former players without any game industry experience was a mistake.

    • SuicideKing says:

      Yeah, worse still it makes it look like whoever starts the initial attack may not even get the base in the end. Seems weird.

  7. morbiusnl says:

    ccp are getting desperate now. PCU numbers dropped to 2008 levels.

    • Ufofighter says:

      That was 2 months ago, we are at 2007 levels now :)

      Truth be told, part of the drop was due to the new policy prohibiting software like isboxer (multiaccount manager), I wish they would have done that years ago, it was a cancer for the game.

      • Gibs says:

        They pushed and still push players to use multiple accounts constantly, with several promotions and in game mechanics. Banning isboxer didnt make any sense… and then let offgrid booster give you more stats than a deadspace fit would, bah.

  8. Ufofighter says:

    Just to show you how time comsuming and overcomplex is the new system, credit goes to EliseRandolph:

    • Ufofighter says:

      Derp, quote fail.

      The average system index is 4, which means to take a system you need to
      Reinforce TCU (45 minutes)
      Reinforce IHUB (45 minutes)
      Reinforce Station (45 minutes)
      Wait a day
      Capture 10 TCU nodes (450 minutes)
      Capture 10 Ihub nodes (450 minutes)
      Capture 10 Station nodes (450 minutes)
      Drop an IHUB and TCU, hope nobody notices since anyone can actually claim the TCU/IHUB in 12 minutes
      Capture 20 station nodes before anyone else (the first person to capture 20 station nodes wins the station final timer) – 220 minutes
      So one system is ~28 man hours of work, all of which can be taken away from you if someone shows up with a bigger force than you on the last timers.

    • SomeDuder says:

      lmao that guy is still playing this game? fuck sake

  9. disorder says:

    The new sov system is gamified. That was pretty much my first thought on announce earlier this year. Eve’s best moments were ones that evolved naturally – as in the prosecution of a war where the results could not be known beforehand (after all, if you have resources that disappear you’re not going to wear them down to nothing, for nothing). That was the crux of conflict; something you wanted, you thought you could take.

    And often enough, everyone was wrong. But that was content.

    That had stopped happening. The previous (dominion) mechanics became an unassailable wall, not just for smaller alliances but even for the very cosy group that basically comprise the sum of the players, who had nothing to gain from fighting or even, really from sov itself in the case of two of the big non-russian three.

    This is CCP’s problem, and it is so, so hard to fix. Almost anything needed to be done, now. On that grounds it was a success. And in truth, flaws and gaminess included I don’t think it’s that bad, and has some good ‘ideas’ that may play out.

    I don’t necessarily think CCP should hire players. The very last thing it needs is explicitly hiring ‘game industry veterans’ to produce or divert it into the 10 thousandth junk korean mmo clone. Fact is, some of those players do know more about the mechanics yes, but especially a lot more about the politics and that’s not separate, it’s intrinsically linked. They know what kind of work they’re capable of getting their minions (and their frenemies’, their minions) to do. All the real change happened between the announcement, and the release of the ‘physical’ changes.

    If only real governments could be this effective.

    The (low sec) faction warfare ‘mini-sov’ from a few years back now (and not wholly dissimilar to ideas behind this nullsec one now) has certainly allowed space for more, smaller and midsize organisations to grow. It’s not brilliant but it did make improvements – to diversity of the population.

    And by making it more possible, for smaller groups to take sov – or troll sov, in effect and acquire through persistence where it’d not have been possible at all under weight of a capital hellblob is vastly improved over what it had been. This is positive for the game – more groups – more conflict, harder to organise or most especially – destroy through excess, centralised force/(money) and over time, I think (rather than just hope) it is certainly possible it will properly improve null, but the problem is more than anything else – time. Especially if CCP back off from being aggressive on adjustments, and other major changes (supers).

    Basically, the problem is one large bloc grew – from a position of being large in players but low in massive assets, where it *had* to wield a numbers advantage to compete against the other(s). With that asymmetry built-in, it of course built upwards over time (2011-2015; call it demographic inevitability) to having both the numbers, and the supercapitals. Who would fight that? Last time someone tried (this year) was, well not effective. At all. And it was fun for noone, really. That’s not good content.

    CCP can’t launch an antitrust. Breaking this is up what they want, and and frankly, its players should too. But noone is going to deliberately castrate themselves. Their only tool is mechanics. I’m not sure I see a a complete answer myself. But it is the direction to head in, and if there’s missteps or questionable ideas, it’s still /moving/. And whatever CCP think, it’s not done.

  10. Jane Doe says:

    Stations are still indestructable!?

    Its unbelievable how stupid this game has become.

  11. dorobo says:

    Ok you wanted to split big fleets apart and make fights more dynamic or what? But why this cumbersome thing?!
    Im sure there must be a much much simpler solution for this.. ccp you overthinking this :]
    btw when are you opening the DOOR? I might comeback if you did :p

  12. padger says:

    I can see a lot of baffled comments here, or complaints that it’s too much work etc.

    The work part , well, that’s the point, that’s WHY it’s so cumbersome: it’s designed to make it so that it’s too much work for a large alliance to project power across huge areas. Right now it’s super easy to defend sov over a huge area, especially if you have a cap fleet of any size. Now, though, if multiple small forces are attacking your sov, then you need to decide where you’ll hold on, because you simply won’t have enough man hours to defend it all. And I think that’s the heart of the mechanic here: Yes, numbers will still win out, but it provides more of a balance in the direction of small alliances that can put a lot of time in.

    That’s the theory, anyway. I’m not convinced it will work, and I am plenty sceptical. But folks should be aware of the reason it’s set up the way that it is.

    • Jane Doe says:

      I was under the impression that jump fatigue had already vastly limited the ability to project power, both offensive and defensive?

      Its nice that CCP wants the small alliances to have a shot at 0.0, but seems they forgot that said small stuff then also needs to play this ridiculous game of whack-a-mole once they’ve succeeded and taken space. Who would want that?

      • padger says:

        Jump fatigue definitely helped, but the current system means you can still get around enough to drop a huge fleet on anyone who has made a play for sov.

      • disorder says:

        I have to say contradictory things about jump fatigue that probably make me sound dyslexic. Truth is it made things better under some circumstances but vastly exacerbated some problems.

        At the time, it was a quick, easy change to make it harder for centralised large entities to project uncontestable force over in practical terms, the whole map. It had an effect. It released literally anyone else from being under threat of that capital projection absolutely all the time. I’ve seen a lot of groups become more bold, (though not competitive at all against these blocs, which grew over 10 years) explicitly since the jump changes – within their local areas. That is a start.

        Yet it didn’t change these larger opponents from being (basically) three players that could only play with their selves. And the cost of armageddon (refer to B-R fight last february) being too high just guaranteed they wouldn’t. And jump fatigue means they never have to, as prior to that there was always the risk (as refer to Asakai) everyone declares friendship for one night and gank one party – but with jump fatigue that is mechanically prevented. And in that game, noone else counts.

        Under that sov system, local capital supremacy (by orders of magnitude; most of the analogies that come to mind start being ridiculous and/or offensive) means these groups became unassailable basically at all times within in their sphere of influence. Moreso than Russia in winter.

        And anyone these blocs decided to sit on (ref last couple months of nc ‘attacking’ providence and using a capital backstop, or to lesser extent fountain and bl farming brave’s fleets that can’t do anything about triage) at least now have some angle of response if they have no hope of winning that kind of fight directly.

        New sov system makes those capitals not able to directly contribute (this area still needs serious work, even complete overhaul) and that was a clear design goal. Capitals became a way of sitting ‘above’ the risk equation, jump fatigue only localised them. And they’re still there.

    • Ufofighter says:

      Who have more “nolife” players, a bunch of assaulters or the coalitions wit hundreds/thousands players? Because when a mechanic relies in pure man hours that is all that counts.

      • Ufofighter says:

        No edit function? Nevermind.
        Honestly I can’t come with a better idea. I think the situation is been so rotten for so many time and the current state of the game is so bad that CCP can’t make the deep changes the game needs (imo). Even if they where skilled enough to design a good system, wich I really doubt.