So the big battle at B-R5RB is a week in the rear view mirror at this point I thought I would try to tie together a bunch of things that came from the event into one post, with a lot of links out to people who probably know what they are talking about… at least relative to me.
So, in no real order, what came to mind…
I always go on about how much these sorts of events mean to CCP, that the press coverage of such battles really do more for the game than almost anything else that goes on inside New Eden. And this time around we have some real, tangible proof of what the impact can be.
Players were already noting a boost in new characters being created post-battle. But this weekend even CCP had to make some adjustments because of the influx.
Tidi in the new player zone is a problem CCP probably likes to see. Now, how many of those free trials will turn into actual subscriptions once they find out what EVE Online is really like… that is the question. It can be quite a gap from seeing huge titans duking it out in an epic battle to flying your Ibis through the tutorial. And even out in null sec, there can be long waits between such battles.
Any post that claims to share everything you need to know inevitably barely scratches the surface.
Will this new influx amount to anything? Is this the next generation of capsuleers entering New Eden? Or will the game continue to eat its young? Will the harsh realities of the game be too much? Maybe that new New Player FAQ will help.
What the Press Likes to Cover
Another aspect of this whole thing is what gets the press to cover a big spaceship battle like B-R5RB.
Every headline I have seen in the mainstream press about the battle emphasizes the cost in real world money, usually US dollars. And while I find the connection to be specious… you can buy PLEX and convert that into the in-game currency, but that doesn’t mean you can pretend that every unit of ISK in the game was so purchased… big numbers do grab attention. But those numbers seemed to grow and morph. Nosy Gamer has a post up looking at various permutations of the AP wire story that went out about the battle which ended up in many a local paper, including my own. You should take a look, as the dollar range of headlines varied from $200K to $500K for dubious reasons. And that doesn’t even include the since revised International Business Times story that pegged the cost of the battle at three quarters of a million dollars. (They ran another story that brought that number down to half a million.)
The best, and possibly most out of control, spin on this whole thing has to be the Taiwanese Animators video recreation of the event which indicates that sovereignty dropped in B-R5RB because a player’s credit card was rejected.
Because that is the way EVE Online works. You have to setup a credit card terminal in your bedroom if you want to hold null sec sovereignty. Maybe the most hilarious distortion of the game ever. But that is a nice Avatar model they threw together on fly!
Meanwhile, the gaming press seemed much more subdued on the subject. A big fight in EVE is worth a post, but not something to get worked up about. Heck Massively, which purports to cover MMOs in general, and EVE Online in particular, didn’t even bother putting up a post until days after the battle.
On The Bandwagon
I found this ad to be amusing. My browser is stuffed with cookies that flag me to get every EVE Online related banner ad at whatever site I visit, which is odd when you think about it. Well, it is odd when you realized that it means that I end up getting ads for EVE Online just about everywhere. Since I already play, that is unlikely to be worth anything to CCP. But every once in a while somebody decides they want in on the EVE Online demographic. Usually it is Wargaming.net, makers of World of Tanks.
And with all this talk about money in the press, another company saw an opportunity.
Entropia Universe would like you to come play their real money space game.
I know next to nothing about Entropia Universe outside of what Gary and Ryan mentioned about it on the Massively Online Gamer podcast when they tried it out several years back, but it does not exactly sound like the sort of game that would attract people who played EVE Online long enough to grow sick of it. (To me that means people who actually played for a while, not those who ended up hating right away.)
Oh, and the Entropia Universe people were involved in the Planet Michael idea. I remember that as well.
Entropia Universe seems more akin to Second Life in purpose, though I am sure that fans of either would resent the comparison. The focus is more on virtual world aspects with the ability to cash out real world money. So you can see the correlation with current events at least. All that talk of EVE Online in the press with real world dollar figures being tossed about is the obvious link. I wonder how it will work out for them.
Now if Chris Roberts starts running “Sick of EVE Online?” ads, well, watch out.
And what is going on with the war that spawned this battle? Pandemic Legion is out of the war for now. Nulli Secunda is pulling back to Detorid. Insidious Empire is done with their side-show. (Oh, and now NCDOT is out.) That isn’t the whole of the force opposing the Russians and the CFC, but they make up a big enough faction as to put the brakes on offensive operations by the N3 coalition for now. There will be consolidation of sovereignty by the Russians as they expand into the region and N3 can make that annoying without much risk.
And then what? Will the Russians be satisfied with another region of sovereignty, or will they want to drive into Insmother and the heart of the once mighty Russian drone region empire with its capital at the emotionally significant system, C-J6MT? Red Alliance lost that to SOLAR Fleet almost two years back in another of those giant null sec battles. It traded hands again before becoming a part of the current NCDOT renter holdings.
So there is potentially more drama left to come.
The Future of Null Sec Battles
Now that we have had the biggest super capital battle ever, what happens next?
Jester, ever fond of absolutes and military analogies, likens B-R5RB to the battle of the Philippine Sea, the largest naval carrier battle ever seen. He draws the parallel between US dominance in aircraft carriers after that and CFC dominance in titans. No more big super capital battles ever is Jester’s pronouncement. This was the last war in null sec. The CFC… which is to say the Goons… own it now. We’re done there, pack it up and lets move on to more interesting things.
I have to wonder if there isn’t a bit of wishful thinking in his estimation. EVE Online is a complex game and there are many things players can get immersed in. But null sec politics commands the lion’s share of the attention outside of the game, which has built up no small amount of resentment. I am sure there would be a lot of people happy to see null sec become a literal big blue doughnut, and thus garnering no further external attention, while at the same time decrying the lack of conflict in null sec. We see something like that every time there is a lull in null.
And Jester’s analogy, like all analogies, falls apart when examined too closely. To start with, there is a matter of details.
PL alone is clearly better off than the Imperial Japanese Navy was back in 1944.
It isn’t clear at all that the CFC has, or will ever have, the sort of dominance that the United States enjoys in aircraft carriers. N3 has yet to be crushed and Pandemic Legion is off rebuilding a new force. And then there are the lessons of the cold war and how a continental power like the Soviet Union planned to deal with the aircraft carriers of the United States, which has traditionally been a maritime power.
The Soviet response was a mass of smaller weapons, especially cruise missiles, to take out the very expensive and limited US carriers. Soviet naval design favored ships that bristled with weapons that frequently had no reloads. The idea was to get into range, fire the lot, and prepare to die, tactics that sound vaguely like those that the CFC used when they were entering null sec back in the day. Doctrines change to suit the forces you have and what your foes are using… and what CCP has recently nerfed. (Woe is the poor Drake.)
So Jester could be correct in the long term, but at this juncture he is just guessing… or projecting wishes… or something.
My own theory is closer to my “joking, but not as much as you might guess” post comparing the three great null sec blocs to the state of the world in Orwell’s Nineteen Eight-Four, where conflict is eternal and each side knows that its own internal structure depends on perpetual war with the others.
Borders might be pushed this way and that. Wars might erupt over resources, as happened in the Fountain War last year. But each of the three blocs knows that to win outright contains the seeds of self-destruction. In that world, the CFC will not press its victory and will allow the foes to rebuild so they remain a threat against which to rail. Not only have we always been at war with Eastasia, we must always be at war with Eastasia… or we might just stop logging in.
Then there is the CCP factor. As noted earlier in this post, the publicity from such battles is a clear win for the game and the company. The mere idea that there might be no more such great battles must surely horrify everybody in Iceland from Hilmar on down. So you can bet that they will turn knobs, twist dials, and otherwise try to shake things up as best they can should null sec settle into a peaceful renter economy, plagued only by occasional raids by the barbarians from empire space.
Who knows, maybe that whole countdown to Wednesday thing has some relation to all of this?
Or, you can take even that a step further, strap on the tinfoil hat, and run with the CCP interference idea as Abbath Egdald has in his great conspiracy post about the battle at B-R5RB. Maybe CCP won’t need to change anything because they are already directing the battle anyway!
Plenty of food for thought on this.
Finally, there is the monument to the most expensive battle in EVE Online history (so far), the Titanomachy. Named for the 10 year struggle in Greek mythology, it sits out at the site of the battle now.
Stuck out in null sec, in B-R5RB, far from any sort of “safe” space in New Eden, and in a dead end system way off the main travel routes, it might not get as many visitors as it deserves. But should you be able to get out there, it is something your should pull off the road to see. Over at EVE Travel there is a nice guide to the site that you should take a minute to read.
Since I ended up marooned in the system after the battle, I was able to hang around for a few days until the memorial was put in place. The plaque includes a listing of all 74 pilots who lost titans in the battle.
I also have some screen shots from the memorial after the cut, plus a whole pile of additional screen shots from the battle at B-R5RB over on my other blog.