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?