The Third Empyrean AgeAshterothi
The phrase “First Empyrean Age” doesn’t quite pin down its real meaning. The very words “Empyrean Age” could mean a book that is set in the EVE universe, an expansion in the ancient history of EVE, or an era in the EVE Universe that began in YC 105.
YC 105 was the year that mankind invented immortality. With the fusion of technology of the clone and the hydrostatic capsule, true immortality was possible for the first time ever. Mind you, this was not about cheating death. Many had already conquered those basic ailments that seek to dispose of our flesh. The holy Emperors of the Amarr were known to live hundreds of years without violating the “doctrine of sacred flesh” by way of cloning. This was the dawn of what can now be called “the first Empyrean age”.
Then came an expansion that really hit home the themes of our power as players over our own reality. This was the expansion that gave us Factional Warfare. For the first time the Empires recognized the capsuleers as their own force. The book was part of this release and celebrated this theme. The capsuleers had risen as space gods, powers in their own right, but also as privateers for the empires to use. For clarity I like to call this the “Second Empyrean Age”
Now the shifting winds of change have come again. With the release of Rubicon, we have started an epic journey towards what I like to call the “Third Empyrean Age”. This is a time of unprecedented change as we re-examine what it is that makes this game good. For years the game has floundered under old ideologies, and the development team has pivoted hard in the way they develop, the way they communicate, and the way EVE tackles its design goals.
The release cadence of six weeks is odd. While once we waited for six months for a feature, and often just got whatever we got, what we have now is constant iteration on basic principles in regular intervals. This allows those who pay attention time to see how things are shifting. Pay no mind to the rhetoric, but at the same time realize that the concerns about sov are valid. The feature is simply not done yet. Progress is being made, and strangely that progress has brought insight into how much more needs to be done. What needs to happen now is the establishment of systems that allow good designers to balance this crazy game. And I believe they are doing it.
When CCP Seagull took the command as Executive Producer, she had a lot to say on this exact topic. I will be honest with you, I didn’t believe her at first. I, like many who have played as long as I have, was skeptical of this new vision. However, in the year that followed, CCP proved time and again the effectiveness of their new process. Finally, after a year she returned to the stage and gave us a fair progress report.
EVE needed to be rebooted. The game had become stagnant
EVE needed to be rebooted. The game had become stagnant. The issues were so systemic that no simple fix would suffice. This wasn’t just a matter of good or bad design, the entire codebase in which much of this stuff operates is mired in issues.
As an aside, I would like to note that Starbases used to have a lot more of a role in the game. When they were first developed they were how you took and held Sov. This means they may still have some poorly written code that has an impact in systems that don’t make any sense for modern POSes to interact with.
So the system has to change, and one thing that has to happen is space needs to grow. The biggest and most popular complaint in nullsec was the capital power projection problem. If you are really new you may not even know what that means. Prior to Phoebe, capitals had nigh unlimited ability for strategic maneuvers, especially along planned routes. Combine that with 10% time dilation, and you have a problem that everyone can simply be anywhere if they so choose. Which was great for the people who had the resources and the organization to capitalize on it, and horrible for the rest.
What CCP wants to do is create a system where sitting on every strategic position with capitals is only one part of the answer, and for that capitals had to lose their ability to be everywhere. How can you possibly have localized conflict when everyone can be anywhere? By doing this they increased the “size” of space. The effort it takes to get around has increased, which makes those tactics less viable. It is no longer easy to hold vast swaths of unused space for show, and so the pain was felt.
But here is the thing: those vast empty swaths of land are unneeded for these great empires. One thing that many people chose to overlook is that the reward rebalance is still coming, and that is an important part of the puzzle. In order for this to work then the amount of land you can hold needs to be able to sustain the amount of people who can live in it. Make space too big, and too easy to lose, too many people will be required and everyone will feel starved as they cannot muster the strength to fend off their enemies. Make space too small and reward the wrong actions and you will see massive expansions as the Imperium swells to untold ranks (as they have).
However it wasn’t until Aegis that the new Sov system really hit. Not only did the teleporting super weapons lose their ability to easily get to their destination, now they had to move around a lot too? It was clear that the tactics of old null would no longer be effective. A sovereignty system was implemented that demands agility, and the true evil (genius, whatever) of Phoebe was realized. The system that once held together nullsec empires became impossible to maintain. Within weeks, many of the great empires folded, and the propaganda machine laid waste to Reddit and other channels of communication. Many of those who had thrived under the old system no longer could see the way forward.
The system CCP is working towards is a system where space actually has distance. With the space so hard to hold, the holders are giving up their vast tracts of “worthless” space, but balance is coming. Right now CCP is literally starving null sec empires as we await the new game.
In order for things to work we must understand the new system. Which means the new system needs to be ready. The principal problem with the old nullsec was that it wasn’t fun. The reason this is a problem is B-R.
After B-R thousands of new players joined the game. They were starry eyed from what they heard was possible out in player owned space and they rushed to embrace that potential. However, they failed. And the real reason why was because, quite simply, the old sov system was one of the most boring places in EVE, in spite of people’s claims to the otherwise. The result of course is massive churn in new players. This is the true problem with the state of EVE. Not that old people are leaving, but that new players are finding a nullsec game that isn’t worth playing.
Fixing sovereignty in a way that is satisfactory and scalable is paramount if EVE is going to reach its potential in the years to come with Valkyrie and Gunjack. CCP knows they have very little time to get this beast pointed in the right direction, and the two year timeframe is ticking.
(The previous major wave of players all joined due to the Great War, and the ones before that thanks to the Guiding Hand Social Club hyjinx.)
EVE is being reborn. We stand at the brink of EVE 2.0. However, unlike other games, this upgrade is happening LIVE. Some of that is painful to be sure, but this process is a necessary one if we want the game to be the best it can be. The best thing that we as players can do is to send the clear message that while Aegis Sov is struggle, we see the potential for a greatness that matches the rich history of this long-lived, player-driven game.
EVE iterates now faster than ever and things are happening that many don’t even see. New AI is making its way into the game which will make the universe more vibrant, alive, and dangerous – giving us more to do and to be tested against. The Drifters come as a threat we have never before seen, an opportunity for those who wish to make names for themselves. We are watching a company and a game grow and evolve, and we are given the opportunity to take part in it in real time. This has never happened before.
We stand at the brink of a Third Empyrean Age. One in which the game is made for the players to enjoy. One in which the universe is alive. One in which fans of the game will shape the lore. The principles of EVE are unchanged, the game is merely being updated to pull it out of 15 years of antiquated development ideology. Times may be tough for some, but opportunity abounds. While the first two Empyrean Ages were presented to us on a plate, this Empyrean Age will be shaped by us, the players, as we lift our banners above those who seek to oppress us, and conquer our new world.