I see that citadels are blowing up and left and right. The Astrahus is hapless in high security space. Any fleet large enough to merit the support of two Guardians can defeat it, even if it is optimally fit and manned. It is just one more thing that is useless to me. This “creates content”–that marvelously non-specific, reductionist phrase–but it is all the same, and it all has the same result. I will never miss setting up, fueling or onlining a POS, but at least POSes were dangerous and unpredictable.
There are two parts to any relationship: wooing, and maintenance. Maintenance, of course, involves wooing. You do not stop courting the person you love simply because you are bonded. EVE has never had any difficulty wooing players. They wooed 1.5 million people last year. They have failed to get commitments out of the vast majority of them. Therefore, the problem EVE faces is not attracting players, but retaining them. That is much harder work. CCP has, to date, only succeeded marginally in null sec. I am delighted that the PCU has exceeded 40,000 as new players come in and old players return, but even that local maximum pales in comparison to the number of people who try EVE and then walk away.
This does not only concern high security space, but it does concern high security space. I have covered most of the problems recently, but there is another one: The blinkered outlook of some PVP pilots, where they see nothing other than other players and those mechanics necessary to directly engage them in combat. This is epitomized by kil2, as CCP Rise, expressing open astonishment at Fanfest 2014 that new players were interested in interacting with planets. Has he ever read or watched any science fiction? Of course they are interested in planets! Never mind science fiction, look at NASA! EVE is advertised as a living sci-fi universe. If you are only looking to roam in a ship looking for kills then EVE will not disappoint you. But if you are looking for anything resembling a living sci-fi universe then it will. The first impression you get of EVE is that everything is an inch deep. This is a false impression of the game, or I would not still be here after three years. But it is the first impression. And it is not inaccurate as a description of high security space–there is depth there, too, but it is not obvious. And that is a problem, because everyone starts there. And also because the alternative is no longer Star Trek Online. No Man’s Sky is around the corner, and every other science fiction game is scrambling to catch up to its immersive depth, except for EVE. As long as CCP fails to even recognize what the problem is, they will never solve it.
The easiest first step would be for CCP to realize what high security space currently is. It is one of those preserves which release fat, tame pheasants into an attractively manicured area for the wealthy to “hunt.” The most important rule of high security space, as currently defined, is that the prey be kept segregated as much as possible, so that they are able to be isolated and killed by anyone so inclined with few to no consequences. What would happen if that rule was revoked? We have already seen it: When Goonswarm declared war on The Honda Accord, and the war system allowed for unlimited allies, things got hot quickly for Goonswarm as hundreds upon hundreds of corporations allied themselves against them. This was the “prey” gathering itself into an overwhelming herd and trampling the “hunters,” as happens in nature, and it was entirely in line with the statement in “A Future Vision” that honor is how you deal with consequences. Goonswarm had been tormenting high security dwellers for years. They had earned their comeuppance. Sadly, because this herding and trampling violated the most important rule, it was quickly nerfed. Now the same thing is happening in null security space and CCP is championing it, and it is all over the news. And so all of the things that EVE is celebrated for–the butterfly effect, player-enforced consequence–are deliberately biased to the benefit of a small percentage of the population. The first thing any new player hears about is the freedom of null sec. The first thing they experience is the artificIal game preserve of high sec.
What if we unpack that? What is the secret to it? The secret is that the level of organization, or the lack thereof. It is part of the fabric of high sec that its players are atomized into vanity corps, NPC corps, and everything from tiny groups of friends to large, well-organized alliances. This will not change, and so any attempt to bring increased interpersonal connection to high security space must respect it. If there were any inclination among its denizens to gather themselves into well-organized corporations and alliances, they would already have done so (many of them have, on their mains). The ways of connecting people must be ad hoc and decentralized, as the infinite-allies mechanic was. That is what is brilliant about NPC stations: they are no single corporation’s responsibility, and they allow use and transactions to everyone. That, more even than a pitiful lack of defense, is what Citadels are failing to offer.