Back in December of 2011, even as Hilmar was telling the CSM that the era of the “Jesus Feature” was over, I was again subscribed to EVE Online. Having unsubscribed after the debacle that was Incarna, I was back to see what CCP had done since then as they launched Crucible, an expansion that promised to get back to the nuts and bolts of the game and start a trend of fixing stuff that people had been complaining about for years.
I had to admit that it was pretty, with new nebulae and start gates that appears to be lined up to shoot you at the correct star even.
But as pretty as the update was, it wasn’t holding me. I was back and looking at all the stuff I had in my hangar, leftovers from the various paths I had trod over the previous half decade in New Eden… mission, mining, production, arbitrage… along with 70 million skill points in training and felt no inspiration. I was subscribed for a month and figured I would spend it toddling about looking at pretty things and then let my account lapse.
Even my friends, the people who came and went from our little corp, were all gone… all save Gaff. Gaff was back and playing, but he was out in null sec where he had gone a year or so previously, and there was not getting there to visit, though he did stop by in high sec for the occasional romp.
He had tried to get me to join him in null sec in the past, but I am one of those people who gets stuck on “things,” and all of my things were in a station in Amarr space and I couldn’t imagine trying to get them all up to where he lived in Deklein.
I was revived in the station at CU9-T0, the headquarters of my new alliance, TNT, but quickly scooted off to 0P-F3K, the system that BSCL mostly called home. It was December 18, 2011 and a conflict had just broken out. After the great VFK headshot Goonswarm had taken what was once DekCo, transformed into the Clusterfuck Coalition, or the CFC, once its boarders expanded, on the road after some neighbors to the northeast that were seen as threats. The CFC struck out at them and these foes, White Noise and Raiden, announced they were set to come get us, promising to rid Deklein of Goons, a statement which was turned into the infamous cry of “VFK by February!”
It was war and I had to figure out what was what in a hurry.
I got to our staging system in VFK-IV, got on coms, got myself a doctrine ship, and was soon bumbling my way through fleets trying to figure out what was going on and not screw up. But by December 21 I had already bridged off of a titan, been in a fleet fight, done a structure shoot, and had seen all sorts of new things in the game. And probably more importantly I became part of the ongoing story that is null sec space.
Long after seeing a titan was no longer special and I had trained up skill points to fly in every subcap doctrine the coalition could come up with, being part of the sweep and story of null sec space has kept me interested in the game. Before I came to null sec I used to drop my subscription and take a break every so often, usually after I wore out whatever goal or project I had been working on. Since I came to null sec I have remained subscribed and logging in.
As something of an MMO tourist, being in a null sec alliance and part of a contentious coalition has afforded me the opportunity to witness many of the noteworthy events that have sometimes made it to the mainstream news. To abuse a former CCP advertising catch phrase, “I was there” for:
- My first “big” fleet fight in EWN-2U which saw the newly released time dilation mechanism in play (post)
- Burn Jita of various flavors (Burn Jita tag)
- Z9PP-H when CCP fumbled the node and saved TEST (Post, though I left just before that happened)
- The Lazamo at 3WE-KY (post)
- 6VTD-H at the end of the Fountain War (Post with lots of links about the battle)
- HED-GP when we were killing nodes with drone assist (Post)
- B-R5RB, which remains the most expensive battle in New Eden history (B-R5RB tag with several related posts)
- M-OEE8 and the great betrayal of the Casino War (Post)
- Defeat in the Casino War and the great migration to Delve (Delve 2016 tag)
- M-OEE8 Keepstar fight with the most pilots ever to pile into a single system (Post)
Those are points in time that a lot of people will remember. I think the one big event I totally missed was Asakai, which happened while I was at work and was done before I got home. And these are just peak events. For each great clash there are many smaller battles.
And even when there isn’t a wider war going on… which is usually when some vocal non-null sec players start chanting about “blue donuts” and “stagnation”… there is always something going on, even if it is just planning and building for the next conflict. We can’t sustain constant war, it takes too much out of people.
And the story continues. That series of discreet events I listed out are just points on the arc of a much wider and ongoing tale of which so many people have been a part. Some actors and organizations come and go, others change sides or become part of new organizations. If you read Andrew Groen’s book Empires of EVE, that is just part of the story, a great snapshot from null sec, but only a snippet from the ongoing saga of 0.0 space. War, alliances, spies, betrayal, conquest, victories, defeats, old hands, bitter vets, new bros, null sec has it all.
Granted, null sec isn’t a game niche for everybody, and there are aspects of it that do get tiring. After a couple of years of mostly being in the blob of main fleet, the whole effort was starting to wear on me. If you look back at January of 2014, when B-R5RB happened, I am only on six kill mails. They were six titans from that battle, but I wasn’t doing much else and my Dominix got left behind in the system after the Russians collapsed and lost all of that space.
And then Reavers came along with ops where 100 ships is a big turn out for an op and got to do all sorts of different sorts of fights all over New Eden. And that isn’t a constant activity. We deploy for a bit, have some fights, then come back home to do other things.
All in all though, being part of null sec is pretty much what made EVE Online finally “stick” for me. Every time I think maybe it is time for a break, something new comes up in the story and I decide to stick around a bit longer just to see how that plays out.