CZ Minutes: Why Null?


Last week on CZ Minutes we sat down to discuss what exactly was wrong with the sovereignty mechanics in 0.0 and how CCP might go about fixing them. Since then, a few small skirmishes have occurred in 0.0… So this week we go a little more abstract and ask, what exactly is the appeal of life in nullsec as opposed to other areas in New Eden?

Xander: It seems a simple question, but when you hear nothing but horror stories (black screens in HED; 10-12 hour long engagements in crippling tidi) about the experience of actually fighting in nullsec, why do so many people continue to pursue life there? There are other, equally fulfilling experiences to have in Eve Online (small scale engagements in lowsec; griefing in highsec; scams, pyramid schemes, and more in all other areas of Eve) – why play in null?

We’ll start with a more topical discussion: did anyone actually have fun in B-R?

Mangala: To be honest I did. However I showed up in a whore Crow totally designed to fill the Titan gap on my killboard – plain and simple. Now had I taken a group of people there, no I would not have. Alone I was only impacting myself with the system conditions. I mean I stayed in B-R for 8 hours last night. Chatting with buddies in local, roaming the grid, whoring CSM titans, spamming twitter, etc, etc. Had I been involved in the actual reasons it happened or shepherding others, that would have sucked. As a social event, boy it was fun.

Xander: I had a whole heap of fun in B-R. Got on my first ever Titan BRs (four of them in total in the end) and just got to sit back and enjoy the spectacle of it all. A huge part of the fun was listening to the GSF supers/Titans Mumble channel and following all the buzz on the social media, twitter in particular. It was one of those epic ‘I was there’ moments and I think we will be talking about B-R in hushed tones for years to come.

Oh, and when the baddies eventually killed me, the lossmail was pretty sweet too 😉

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Forlorn: I enjoyed it. CCP’s server team kept the node running, which was pretty good. I only used my supercap alt rather than triple boxing with other toons as that’s a pretty risky proposition on an unreinforced node. Killed a few CFC/RUS titans and survived. GF all around!

Niden: What happens in null has ramifications throughout New Eden, but to be honest most of what I hear from null pilots involved in these conflicts is pains and gripes. It’s not the actual fight that’s fun, it’s the meaning of it. Xander once said that null was the beating heart of EVE, I agree with that. My response however was that if null is the beating heart, lowsec is the party downstairs. I’m in awe of all the shinies and the grand politics, but fun? No, not sure about that. I very, very seldom hear lowsec pilots complaining about the game not being fun. The action is fast and easily accessible, something I think null lacks to an extent.

HVAC: I had fun in the sense that I was doing something that would make waves in the gaming media. You’ll probably never see a fight quite like that again. It made the 18-19 hours I was in fleet less painful and I can’t think of any other reason I would ever do something like that unless an entire supercapital fleet was getting murdered again.

Niden: In that respect yes, the weight and importance of that fight far outweighs any ‘having fun’ concerns. But setting that aside, how does one make meaningful conflicts of this sort fun? Null suffers from a bit of a ketchup-effect when it comes to the actual fighting. It even goes so far as to greatly effect the actual fighting; subcaps are kept out, drones aren’t launched.

Proto: I don’t think any reasonable argument can be made that anybody looking from the outside and watching the twitch streams didn’t have fun. Hell, my girlfriend loved watching and she doesn’t even play. I wish I could speak from the point of view of a null pilot, but I think that after this point, everyone will be more cautious and gun-shy before we see another major supercap/Titan engagement again. It’s astounding to me how much both CCP and the players have learned from this. I think that is what makes it the most exciting event.

Niden: Putting B-R aside and looking at the original question; why play in nullsec? Along with the politics and narratives we all hear and enjoy out of null, we also hear the constant, and I mean constant, lamenting of how null is broken with its structure grinds, soul crushing lag, tidi, pax blue doughnut and so forth. Let’s put that aside as well. What IS great about nullsec? What is the silver lining? Obviously there is something.

Forlorn: PvP that doesn’t have warp core stabs and large fleet engagements. You don’t find that anywhere else.

Xander: Why nullsec? Easy. Nullsec is the beating heart of Eve. Nullsec is what defines Eve Online as a game. The stories that leak from Eve into the wider gaming and mainstream press tend to be the ones of grand espionage, bank thefts, insurance fraud and ridiculously large fleet fights. There are exceptions of course, such as Asakai but even then, lets not kid ourselves – Asakai was a 0.0 fight in lowsec.

Proto: Well if you’re a new player, GrrWarpStabs doesn’t mean much as far as why they should play in null. Establishing an empire and a perceived ‘no rules’ environment will always have its siren’s call. Highsec can never compete with that. You’re never going to get press coverage for highsec through station trading or mining.

I guess my point is that there are no mechanics that will allow for the type of gameplay in high sec that will generate the press coverage 0.0 does.

Sindel: Why play in null?

Well, let’s break New Eden down, analogy-style. Highsec is like elementary or primary school. There are rules to follow and things need to be done a certain way. If there are any rule-breakers, they are punished accordingly: time outs, detentions, paddlings, trips to the principal’s office, etc. Lowsec is high school. There’s still a set of rules you ‘should’ follow, but you’re more likely to find people who don’t care. There’s more freedom, but larger repercussions for your actions. Your behavior here has a more lasting impact on your future.

Then there’s nullsec. Nullsec is college. Don’t want to go to class? Don’t go. Fail something? Try it again later. Basically, you can do whatever the hell you want because you pay to be there, and you are the master of your own fate. That kind of freedom is intoxicating. It changes the game for people so that they can’t even travel in Empire anymore without feeling it. That’s how it is for me, anyway.

Ironic as this might sound coming from a post on a media site, but we don’t really care about press coverage when it comes to fights. Giant nullsec fights have been around much longer than articles about Eve and they have much larger ramifications than unique hits on a website.

Let’s be honest, too.  If it weren’t for the tidi that sooooooooooo many people complain about, these ‘mainstream’ media fights couldn’t even happen. The systems would buckle under the weight of the load with 1000 people trying to shoot at once. Lag would be devastating and then the node would go down. Boom. Gone. tidi at least enables us to engage in fights of ridiculous magnitude. Slowing down time allows more people to shoot at more things, so that, when something like B-R happens, the press can say that ‘7000 people were involved and fighting lasted 21 hours’.

Also, fuck warp core stabs. And doughnuts. Unless they’re maple frosted – then they’re okay.


Proto: Sin makes a really good point about tidi. That’s probably the biggest reason I hear about why people don’t play there, calling it ‘null suck’. Some people don’t have the patience for tidi. However, a day comes where tidi is nothing but a bittervet memory, I think nullsec would undergo a fundamental transformation. Capital proliferation would change drastically, more people would live there, and more sovereignty would be much more fluid with more people fighting for their own corner of 0.0. Unfortunately, that’s not going to happen with current server technology. Until then, I see tidi as the main detractor for aspiring capital pilots and new players alike.

Niden: tidi is to null what insulin is for a diabetic; it allows survival, but it doesn’t cure the disease. You say null is about freedom, but how much freedom do you have in a massive doctrine fleet with a set objective? Not much at all. Your performance is rated based on how long you can sit at the computer and how well you obey orders. You’re just another brick in the wall. This is a product of the blue doughnut; concentration of power and resources, resulting in ketchup-effect fighting and considerable areas of space that are safer than highsec.

Proto: In some areas, you’re right about some regions being safer but areas like Fountain are pretty dangerous. I mentioned that it was the appeal of a perceived freedom. That perception is soon dashed once you get there, though. Let’s be honest now, unless you pull participation for most ops and fly doctrine ships, you’re not carrying your weight. This can be highly discouraging for newbies and industrialists, but that’s a subject in the queue for an article soon.

Sad to say that I have to agree that null just doesn’t have the appeal it once had. Unless you’re part of the power blocks, there’s nothing left but renting, sacrificing your security rating in low sec, or worse, becoming a high sec carebear. Especially if you’re not able to play as often as required by null alliance participation quotas.

HVAC: Part of the problem is that almost every existing null entity has lived in the different conquerable regions, so very few really consider any particular region their home. In the seven years I’ve been in Goonswarm, I’ve lived or operated out of all four corners of the universe and conquered virtually every region at some point. We could lose VFK tomorrow and it wouldn’t phase me. You look at all the major null entities – Goonswarm, SOLAR, BL, PL, NCdot, etc. and realize they either don’t give a shit about sov, or they do but don’t particularly care where they operate out of.
Tags: cz minutes, null, nullsec

About the author

Xander Phoena

The good looking, funny, intelligent member of the team, Xander set up Crossing Zebras with Jeg in April 2012 mainly because he was talking too much about Eve on his other podcast. Playing the game for almost five years, Xander still has absolutely zero clue about how to actually play Eve but somehow still manages to talk a good game.