Bloc(k)ing Content

In the past week, I listened to a discussion on a recent Podside episode (#350) and participated in one that happened on our own Crossing Zebras Skype channel. Central to both discussions was the role large power blocs play for content creation within EVE. Do they enable players to participate in great events because they lift them up to levels they could never have achieved within a smaller organisation, or are they more of a barrier to the possibilities individual players have in the game? Before I begin to examine this question, I want to provide a disclaimer. If you have read more of my articles here, then you are probably aware that I am highly critical of large nullsec power blocs. Because of that bias, my opinion will be slanted towards a particular perspective, but on the other hand I do not want to simply dismiss any viewpoint that stands against mine. In the discussions that I will refer to, there have been viable arguments on both sides, and I want to examine them on an equal basis, even if I am going to position myself against them. Additionally, I want to make clear that any focus on Goonswarm or the CFC/Imperium is not a result of my preoccupation with that organisation. It is the simple truth of today’s sov nullsec that they represent the last power in the game which operates on a scale that is relevant to the discussion. If the Drone Region Federation (DRF), the old Northern Coalition (NC), the Honey Badger Coalition (HBC) or N3 remained active as large organisations in the game, I would not view them differently. With that out of the way, let me begin. b-r_Image_2

Great Wars And The Lack Thereof  

When it comes to content created by large organisations, the great wars of EVE history are the first thing most people will think of. Massive campaigns that shift the balance of power across several regions simply can not be undertaken by organisations of a few hundred players alone. In the era of the great wars when Band of Brothers fought for supremacy, such organisations were still a lot smaller in numbers, but back then EVE also had a smaller player base and nullsec in particular was much less settled. In proportion, those early empires were just as large as the nullsec powerhouses of today, not in player count but in relative strength. During that period of relentless struggle, EVE lost its innocence if it ever had any. Metagaming tactics became ever more prevalent. That included propaganda and espionage, but also in-game exploits and harassment directed at players or their out-of-game communications. Succeeding in nullsec became less of a game and more of a serious effort that required ruthless leaders, strategists and operatives to a degree that is beyond anything we have ever seen in an online game. The nullsec we have today is the result of that development.
“People would rather not fight their direct neighbours if they can avoid it.”
In the Podside discussion, Snotshot of Dirt Nap Squad pointed out that the Goons, and by extension all who follow them, have previously gone through the experience of being devastated by a major war at some point in time, and they do not want to go through this again. The CFC/Imperium members in that discussion confirmed that they do not want to have war on their doorstep, and I have heard similar things from other nullsec players. People would rather not fight their direct neighbours if they can avoid it. The only way to prevent that is further expansion and consolidation until the core membership can live safely behind large buffer zones. Thus, coalitions formed and started to develop a level of integration that became ever more advanced, but even that wasn’t enough. There were coalitions that held large territories and were well organised, but they could still be brought down by an opposing force of sufficient strength. During the winter of 2012-1013, Pandemic Legion and NCDot managed to break through the defenses of the Drone Region Federation. In the spring of 2013, Solar Fleet, the last large alliance of the DRF, got evicted from the Drone Regions, and for two years the whole east of the map remained under control of PL and N3 until they effectively gave it up earlier this year. The DRF had been large in numbers, vast in resources and powerful in military assets, but by taking the fight they still lost. Numbers, wealth and proper organisation do not complete the list of ingredients necessary for the ultimate defense against an invasion. The defender also has to use more subtle ways, and the CFC/Imperium have perfected methods to do just that. Central to their strategy of warfare are tactics which demoralise the opponent, ultimately sapping their willingness to even continue the fight. The defensive application of that strategy is something every highsec mining or mission running corp learns eventually after a few wardecs: deny your enemy fights until they get bored. However horrible one may find that tactic, it is very effective in defense. The CFC/Imperium are not the only ones who employ a demoralisation defense. Provibloc uses a variant that is no less deterring, at least under the old sov-system. By building large amounts of structures in their space, they have created a massive hit-point barrier that every would-be invader has to overcome. Most do not want to deal with that extensive grind through multiple timers. Interestingly enough, it appears that the CFC/Imperium now want to test how that strategy holds up under the new sov rules. Offensively, the opponent’s morale is equally important but more difficult to influence because denial of fights or setting timers is obviously not an option. In those cases it still remains the declared, and successful, CFC/Imperium strategy to eventually break the willingness of opposing players to log in. The last time we have seen this in action was during the Fountain War between CFC and HBC in the second half of 2013. At every possible opportunity, the CFC discredited opposing leaders, publicly mocked the HBC for every failure and sowed seeds of dissent among coalition members. They even managed to have a significant portion of N3 sov holdings sabotaged which forced some of the most powerful fighting forces to withdraw and take it all back with great effort. At every step of the way demoralisation and exhaustion of the enemy was the goal, and eventually they succeeded. The HBC fell apart and only TEST alliance remained. Wracked by internal drama, they eventually lost their last allies and had to concede defeat. I will not deny the effectiveness and ingenuity of those tactics. For a significant time in my own EVE career, I worked on that very same sort of operation, and I was inspired to do so by the shenanigans surrounding the dissolution of BoB. It can not be denied that this form of gameplay creates its own unique sort of content. How many games out there allow people to play spies, diplomats, propagandists and politicians who actually influence the outcome of a war? Unfortunately, the aftereffects of those tactics are somewhat self-defeating. B6tVjwOCEAAwPsM We have to acknowledge that the majority of players are not engaged in this sort of gameplay and succeeding with it only delivers satisfaction to the few who see their plans come to fruition. The majority, however, will remember that feeling of demoralisation, and whether they have been on the offense or defense, the next time they consider a war against the CFC/Imperium they will think of it as being “no fun” and turn to an opponent who is more willing to indulge them.
“’We wanted to bring the great war, but you [the CFC] made it so terrible that nobody wants to have another one’”
If one of two chess players manages to make the opponent hate the very idea of playing against them, then no chess game will take place. The CFC have managed to achieve exactly that result. As a TEST player on Podside said (I paraphrase) “We wanted to bring the great war, but you [the CFC] made it so terrible that nobody wants to have another one”. The way nullsec shifted after the Phoebe jump-changes illustrates for me just how much that stalemate is affecting conflict in the game. In the months since Phoebe, we have seen large changes in the east and south. Perhaps coincidentally, these are the areas which are furthest away from the reach of large CFC forces. Pandemic Legion and N3 have given up renting out space and even sovereignty. Various new and old alliances have emerged and are carving the map up into new pieces again. The northwest, however, remains stable and its border regions are mostly uneventful. In the real-world such a large region of peace and prosperity would be a commendable achievement, but EVE is not real. It is a game revolving around interstellar warfare on different levels. Since we do not lose ships due to wear-and-tear or have to replace them because they become obsolete, perpetual conflict and destruction is the motor of all production and consumption and therefore the source of all content. Developing methods to neutralise conflict is therefore counterproductive, but coalitions are a fact. So how do they solve that dilemma?

Work And Play In The Game

Players who are embedded within such a large and successful organisation still want to experience more in the game than ratting with a carrier or fueling reaction towers all day. If the leaders are not completely obtuse, they will acknowledge that and make sure everybody has something fun to do in their “spare time”. Burn Jita, the different Special Interest Groups (SIGs) and recently Karmafleet are an effort to make sure there is fun stuff going on. This leads me to the discussion we had on the Crossing Zebras channel. Its starting point was the thesis that The Imperium is creating content for virtually every player in the game. Not only through the diverse activities they conduct under their own name, but many of them will also have alts in Red vs. Blue, Brave Newbies, Factional Warfare and elsewhere. Considering the large number of players united in this coalition, the six degrees of separation theory alone is enough to assume that each one of us has experienced some content in the game that results from the actions of an Imperium player.
It is a fair assumption, and after some consideration I would not dispute it. Even in my lowsec ghetto I have achieved two of my very few solo kills in fights against a Goon and I had a great 1v1 fight against another one which I lost. Last summer, RAZOR deployed to lowsec and we had a lot of fun fights with them. Without argument I can say they have provided me with content. What I would rather dispute is whether such content needs the existence of The Imperium. In our discussion this boiled down to the question whether a coalition of 30.000 provides the same amount of content as thirty coalitions of 1000. In my opinion, it is impossible for them to achieve that even if they wanted to. To keep an organisation of that magnitude running smoothly, sacrifices have to be made. Some people have to do the paperwork, others have to disseminate information and maintain the communication channels. Internal affairs have to be settled and every so often coalition infrastructure has to be rearranged. With increased size, all that organisational work becomes more complex and the role of administrators becomes even more important. To facilitate that administration, rules have to be put in place, and those inevitably reduce the degree of freedom every individual player enjoys. In a smaller organisation there will also be rules and red tape, but to a much lesser degree if they are not ridiculously overmanaged. Again, some people will enjoy the gameplay involved in running a vast space empire, but many EVE players already have desk-jobs and do not necessarily want to play at one when they come home. The majority will do the chores as they become necessary and then they will join up with their SIG or log in with an alt to go on an NPSI roam. In the end, however, they will not be fully available to create any content except keeping the organisation running while they are going through their tower refueling schedule or read through the latest management directives. It seems obvious to me that a player in a smaller organisation will be less burdened by such tasks and can therefore dedicate more game time to interaction with other players who are not part of their alliance, whether that be trade, providing targets or shooting at others. It may easily be the case that one of the Caldari pilots I shot at yesterday have their main in Goonswarm, or maybe one of the guys in my own fleet is the alt of a player in FCON, but I would rather have them as full members of Caldari or Gallente Militia. At least then they potentially provide content for me and mine every hour they spend logged in. In any case, the very fact that someone feels the need to have an alt elsewhere already shows that the content they are provided within their own organisational structure does not sufficiently satisfy them. Furthermore, I find it rather bizarre that people first have to put work into the game before they can actually play it. People who fly with SIGs or support Karmafleet at least stay within the organisation, but those who fly with alts in other groups (the intention to spy being an exception) effectively unwind from their in-game “day-job” by playing a game within the game. All in the name of not having to fight a war at the home front. Politics

Is This Going To Change?

With the series of new mechanics which were implemented throughout the past year, CCP appears to follow design goals which are at least partially intended to reduce the need for such large organisations and maybe even create incentives against forming them. As I have already mentioned, some of the former power players have already decided that sovereignty is not worth the effort and left that stage. Others have taken the opportunity to (re)establish themselves on that field, but it already seems like several of those groups operate on a smaller scale now. The two remaining large sov holders are now The Imperium and what appears to be a cautiously forming coalition between xXDeathXx, Triumvirate and Solar Fleet in the northeast. Maybe we will eventually even see a new “Russian” coalition taking over the whole east of the map again? Goonswarm, and by extension the Imperium, steadfastly maintain their doctrine of weaponised boredom. This time the main tool shall be renters who will happily grind all sov-indexes to the maximum and make Entosis hacks as tedious as possible. As long as there are enough players who will play along with this in exchange for a low-risk existence in nullsec, large coalitions will not vanish. It remains to be seen where this new set of rules will take us over time, but I am quite sure that even without massive coalitions, alliances of a certain size will remain indefinitely. Some forms of gameplay are simply impossible to achieve below a critical mass. Apart from holding any significant amount of territory in the game, a major collective effort is needed to build up a large capital ship fleet and conduct the major battles EVE is also famous for, but many groups can do that these days. Pandemic Legion, Black Legion, Triumvirate and many other mid-size alliances can and will deploy caps and supercaps. Power blocs are not needed for that anymore. The great conflicts in the future of EVE may not be decided by single gigantic clashes that last for 20 hours, but the new sov-system encourages strategic warfare more akin to what we know from recent real-world history. Campaigns will be fought on broad fronts as a series of objectives that drive the war-effort further with some major battles in between. In sov wars that work in this way there is still room for massive locust swarms and supercap fleets, they will just have to spread thinner over a number of systems. Escalating a fight up to supercaps is its own sort of content, and we want that in the game for those who enjoy it, so I don’t think it will necessarily go away. Even in lowsec people drop supers on occasion for no other reason than simply wanting to have that sort of battle. So, will The Imperium or the concept of power blocs in general stay with us for the time being? I wouldn’t be surprised. Will they synergistically increase the amount of content in the game? I very much doubt that.
Tags: cfc, Imperium, nullsec, power blocs, sovereignty, tarek

About the author

Tarek Raimo

Former nullsec spy (no not under that name of course) and current failure at lowsec solo PVP, Tarek spends his time not logging in to the game as much as he keeps thinking about its social and metagame nature and sharing some of those thoughts with the CZ readers.

  • “the very fact that someone feels the need to have an alt elsewhere already shows that the content they are provided within their own organisational structure does not sufficiently satisfy them.”
    This is a great feature of Eve to be able to explore different aspects of the game with different pilots, and thus build your “team” to generate content that work for you. Unfortunately, the anonimity of alts favors established power players over the more recent players, by allowing them to not have to rely upon other players so much. Behind each power group, there is a smal oligarchist clique, and many many anonymous alts…

    • Druik Arbosa

      I always find it astonishing that people can maintain many accounts.

      • This is a fundamental in Eve. If you want to PvP and play solo (which I am differentiating from solo PvP), you need a minimum of two accounts. Fundamentally you need to see on each side of a gate/WH else you are fighting blind at a huge disadvantage.

        • Talvorian Dex

          This is false. Using a boosting alt is not the only way to solo. This idea keeps cropping up, and it’s simply not true. You can tell who the boosting players are and simply avoid them. Pirate’s Little Helper helps out with this sort of thing, but your own insincts can tell you as well.

          Add to that the fact that many players who boost use ridiculously overpowered ships like Worms and Garmurs and you can easily avoid them.

          I don’t fly with links, and there are a lot like me out there. You don’t “need a minimum of two accounts” to solo PvP.

          • Kamar Raimo

            I always fly completely solo when I do solo PVP. I am simply not good enough at it to split my attention between a scout and booster and a fighter although I have three accounts which could perfectly fulfil those roles.

            I think it has happened once or twice that I ran into a gatecamp with alpha instalockers that I really couldn’t escape.

          • I was mentioning playing solo, not solo PvP, as PvPing is only a portion of the activity of playing solo. If you truly play solo, then two separate accounts is the minimum you need.

          • Kamar Raimo

            Yeah, I would agree with you there. Except maybe if all you do is run missions/incursions in highsec. I think one can pull that off with just one account.

        • Talvorian Dex

          And to your point about needing to see on the other side of the gate, jump through and do a dscan. Or warp off to a celestial to get your guy to chase. You ARE flying a ship that presents some weaknesses, in order to entice him to fight you, right?

      • MrFoundryguy .

        I’ve not had an interest in alts aside from maybe buying a capital toon when I get the chance, but to manage five plus accounts? Ridiculous. I’ll be able to start working by years end, but I don’t need my leisure to do that for me.

  • Dirk MacGirk

    Right or wrong for a game, so long as the mechanics in game are supportive of raw numbers, this isn’t going to change. It would be great if we actually had something that allowed for a quality versus quantity type scenario. But at the most organized and well-funded levels of the game, we don’t. Everyone has the same quality level in terms of equipment, leaving only player skill to make up for quality. And that can be overcome by the raw numbers aspect.

    But serious question: who has ever chosen to invite war to their doorstep? War is best fought on someone else’s doorstep. Better, in someone else’s living room after kicking in the front door. The homestead is where the wife, kids and Lexus are.

    • Zappity

      I’m not sure that a quality vs quantity argument is sound when the largest coalition in the game also has very high SP players and the largest accumulation of supers. As much as goons like to invoke the spectre of BoB, this is no longer a case of Rifters vs battleships.

      • Dirk MacGirk

        I agree that there is no possible way anymore for the highest possible quality to overcome the highest possible quantity. The quantity side was allowed to get too big while the quality side was capped and/or became obtainable by the quantity side as well. My point was that we can point at those who group together in large numbers and say they shouldn’t for the good of the game, but so long as it is what works, they will. Hell, even if it didn’t work they still might do it. But it really is up to a higher authority to break what is, I believe, human nature to cluster in large groups for self preservation. Eve needs a staff psychologist to help with development maybe more than it needs an economist.

  • Dave Stark

    i feel this article comes from the flawed perception that shooting other spaceships is the only content in eve.

    it is not.

    • Zappity

      It is the activity upon which the sustainability of all other activities is founded. Industry relies upon exploding ships to create demand. Mining is founded upon the need to replace exploded ships and structures. Wealth is spread from ratters to producers for the same reason.

      That conflict is a critical component of a healthy EVE Online is an inescapable conclusion. The blocs are to be both commended and condemned for their excessive organisation and blue-lists.

    • Kamar Raimo

      Not at all.

      I repeatedly state that there are other forms of content, but they all revolve around the destruction of assets. If nothing ever gets destroyed in EVE then eventually people will stop buying stuff once they have everything they want or need.

      • Dave Stark

        “but I would rather have them as full members of Caldari or Gallente Militia. At least then they potentially provide content for me and mine every hour they spend logged in.”

        you literally say everyone should spend all their time shooting and nothing more.

        • Kamar Raimo

          That is just one example out of many possibilities. This one is specifically about someone who would put an alt into FW to get some pew because they want to have that.

          I am also not saying everyone should be in FW either.

          • Dirk MacGirk

            It could also be that for 50,000 characters, they are just content with being in a group and not really caring enough about the content other than to bitch about it. Maybe that is what Eve has become (for some people): a social group loosely associated with the underlying game.

          • Zappity

            This is a good point. But the juxtaposition of failing player counts (especially in response to fozziesov) clearly indicates this is a major problem. Your other comment regarding a CCP staff psychologist is certainly relevant!

    • Kamar Raimo

      Not at all.

      I repeatedly state that there are other forms of content, but they all revolve around the destruction of assets. If nothing ever gets destroyed in EVE then eventually people will stop buying stuff once they have everything they want or need.

  • Afk

    The sandbox is played out. Eve is over. It’s done. If nerds would stop deluding themselves for 5 minutes that “something’s gonna happen soon!” them this would be obvious.

  • Afk

    The sandbox is played out. Eve is over. It’s done. If nerds would stop deluding themselves for 5 minutes that “something’s gonna happen soon!” them this would be obvious.

  • Dirk MacGirk

    Tarek – you write some good stuff. Here’s a topic you may want to look into that sort of dovetails into this and other topics related to where EVE is today: Knowing what we know now from EVE’s long history and that of human behavior, if you were designing the game today for a fresh launch tomorrow, what would you change to ensure not repeating the past? Would you allow for corps/alliances to be so big? Would you allow for easily organizing even larger groups by way of standings? Would you allow any form of lucrative passive income, or drones to be assisted, or targets to be broadcast or fleet warps or any of the things that feed the maw of the growing beast? Perhaps EVE should have never been capable of moving past tribal warfare among the players.

    I’m not advocating for a wipe or a reset or the launch of EVE 2.0. But there is a lot that CCP simply cannot change without risking the existing player base, yet might very well be how one would develop the game with the luxury of hindsight.

    Then again, and its something I’ve never been able to answer: what is CCP’s true vision? Create a game where they actively define the dimensions of the sandbox, or one where they play the hands-off deity that allows its creation to determine the success or failure of what it has created? Was their goal to create a video game, but it evolved into a social simulator that they let run too far or was it always intended to be a social experiment?

    • Kamar Raimo

      “if you were designing the game today for a fresh launch tomorrow, what would you change to ensure not repeating the past”

      Phew, that would be quite the assignment. The Rand Corporation tried to do that in the 70s: predicting how social systems will develop if you build them on certain variables. For all the computers and expertise they had, things still happened in ways they could not predict.

      • Dirk MacGirk

        haha. obviously things will still happen in ways we cannot predict. But its a tad bit easier to deal with in the land of pixels. Where there’s a will, there’s a code.

        I really am torn between what would (should?) be good for a game versus just letting players think that whatever they want to do is OK. At some point the creator must step in an put things back on track. Most games don’t have to deal with this to the extent that I think this game does. Most games are not attempting to be so broad in their social and economic constructs, while at the same time be centered on the core facet of warfare and destruction. Eve has taken on a life they couldn’t possibly have imagined. But the genie is out of the bottle and the only way of putting it back in would be deemed excessively heavy-handed by those who have lived through the past 5-10 years

        But, I guess my ultimate question boils down to: knowing what we know now, would we create mechanics that play into the hands of making it easy for groups to grow past a certain point? Or would we strive through active measures to keep things fragmented “for the good of the game”? Forget about ships and money and sinks and faucets. Simply the ability to all live under a single roof and be able to easily identify others as being a housemate in the game. Its not the social EVE we know by any means.

        • Kamar Raimo

          There are actually a few things that I have in mind which would be pretty radical. Most of them actually involve making peace a viable content generator which frankly now it isn’t.

          Despite the fact that I personally dislike them, I like that fact that people can build space superpowers in this game, but sadly once they are built they don’t do as much anymore.

          It’s like when you come to the last stages of a game of Civilisation and all you do is manage things and every once in a while stomp on an opposing nation because otherwise things would just be too boring.

          Like I said, I would like to see pacified regions of nullsec to actually mean something for the game but also create new opportunities for conflict and exploitation that goes beyond “let’s gank that ratting carrier on the other side of this wormhole”

          I’m not normally the type for armchair game design, but maybe I’ll go for it.

          • Dirk MacGirk

            Well, I think to some extent, the Imperium has created that for itself and for some reason or another a lot of players are content with it. Its very real world. Not many people migrate to warzones and instead seek refuge in an area where the borders are protected and their ass and assets aren’t at much risk. It doesn’t make for a lot of gamer-level excitement, except that it does allow you the freedom to go play games. The sad part is that when they then go play games where they are supposed to try and suspend their sense of RW boundaries, they apparently seek to limit even the virtual risk and attempt to recreate some real-world utopia. I don’t know, its a maddening circle.

          • Kamar Raimo

            I guess you can’t force players to play the game, but I do think it is possible to come up with ways to make them commit once they do log in.

            It doesn’t disturb me that there are players who have created a safe environment for themselves. What does make me think it’s a waste of potential is when people just use that safe environment to make their wallets grow while they’re semi-afk.

            I think it’s fine if the Imperium becomes this sort-of highsec-within-nullsec with its own space pope, but then people should really have to work on that in methods that are more exciting than just “grind that index to its max”. Make that effort count and provide reasons for others to raid them that go beyond “Grr Goons” or “Killing AFK ratters in Deklein looks good on our killboard and we love nullbear tears”.

            Like I said I could think of a few things there.

  • Good article. CZ has really been hitting on all cylinders lately.

    It seems like there is a possible strategy for CCP deriving from these observations: Ignore Null-sec. If the real issue here is culture and risk-avoidance, CCP isn’t going to change that on the null-sec homefront. The new features can’t change the people and organziations.

    On the other hand, it sounds like the null blocs are working hard to make sure their players can enjoy the other areas of Eve (Wormholes, RvB, Lowsec, FW, etc) via their spinoff groups and SIGs. Maybe that’s just the way CCP should focus things now – make non-null areas the absolute most fun they can be. Sure, people will still consider themselves citizens of a nullbloc going to lowsec/WHs to get their jollies, but as long as they’re getting their jollies perhaps they’ll keep paying their subscription.

    Then maybe five years down the road enough bittervets will have quit or shifted their perceptions enough to take another attempt at nullsec. Maybe that will line up better with the player-built gates and new space – which CCP will be able to learn from nullsec on. Though again, if it’s all about the culture then even new mechanics in “new space” won’t be enough to change the people.

  • Dermeisen

    Great article, yes yes I agree Snotshot certainly was on form that evening, very provocative I smiled.

  • Asher

    I feel like you should probably have been involved inside the Imperium at some point before you write an entire article predicated on ideas about how it works that aren’t true. It’s true the Imperium has some paper pushers but they do it because they enjoy it or because they enjoy helping their fellow pilots. The paperwork in the CFC is to make the line pilot’s job easier.

    For instance I took out a comedy armor raven fit last night. After it died I submitted a request for reimbursement, I was paid before I made it back to the market system and I bought a new ship and went back out roaming again. The amount of “paperwork” I had to do was copy my crest link into a webpage and press enter. Done, money in pocket that helped me reship and go have fun again. If you’re part of some alliance that doesn’t do this you have to spend a lot of time working to make the isk to replace your ship which takes away from your time spent out having fun.

    • Kamar Raimo

      Have you asked yourself how those facilities came to be? Why there even is a website you can simply paste a link?

      Of course that kind of thing works perfectly for line pilots by now. What I meant by “paperwork” and administrative overhead is getting all that stuff into place, to maintain it, to admnistrate it. That takes time and effort, and a lot of that occurs completely out of the game.

    • Abraxis

      Didn’t know there were actually alliances where taking out a shitfit and losing it will get your loss reimbursed. Well, too late. My sub runs out end of august and I’m done grinding.

  • Endie

    “In the era of the great wars when Band of Brothers fought for supremacy, such organisations were still a lot smaller in numbers, but back then EVE also had a smaller player base and nullsec in particular was much less settled.”

    Probably wrong. Peak current user numbers are now at the same level as they were when I started playing, soon after the start of 2007 near the start of the Great War that continued until early 2009. Even allowing for changes to training that mean that people log on less often to change skills, it is unlikely that user numbers are as high as they were by mid-2007 as the war really heated up.

    And if they are? Well, users that en-masse fail to log in are not vast in their effect on the world.

    • Kamar Raimo

      I’m not sure, but in my memory the major alliances back then were not quite as large as they are today. When I started, the Great War was winding down and soon after BoB fell. In my memory, the growth of really large alliances only started back then when Goons settled in Deklein and later when Solar Fleet became really large and TEST grew to the size they had before HBC collapsed.

      It is often mentioned, that PCU has dropped to “2008 levels” but I have also heard that according to CCP a lot of that decline happens in highsec. It may be that absolute numbers today are lower, but I do get the feeling that there are far more players who live in nullsec.