How to start a war in an online space piracy simulator.

An Imperium Keepstar at the beginning of strategic operations. Several titans, center of image, are deploying via jump drive.

EVE Online is widely perceived as a niche title. The dedication required to become proficient at any aspect of the game is not measured in the tens of hours, but by the thousands of hours. While you can certainly acquire the means to command the most brutal of vessels in the game by converting your hard currency into a combination of injectable skill points and in-game funds, competently flying those ships demand an investment of time as well as an expectation of loss.

In the game, you are a capsuleer. An immortal spacefaring soul capable of traveling lightyears upon lightyears in the ship of your choice. Any given ship is manned by tens, or hundreds, or thousands of personnel — but only a capsuleer can give its crew a higher purpose.

One pilot may be able to win a battle, but there is the certainty that one person cannot stand alone against a congregation of predators who seek to snuff out one instance of you for the thrill of a victory.

Wars require societies of like-minded individuals agreed upon a common goal. Conflicts are fought as a matter of survival. Campaigns are waged to ensure the disharmony of their adversaries. These causations are valid in the vast pocket of space called New Eden. But not all wars are fought for these simple reasons.

Some wars in EVE Online are simply fought for the almighty generation of content.

Alliances exist in World of Warcraft, but they exist as context to Azeroth’s ongoing story. Guilds are groups of people looking for the next rare loot drop or looking to compete against the world in one way or another. There is strength in numbers. These styles of groups are constructs to structure the highest form of participation or endgame.

Some games-as-a-service titles turn to similar ties on a repeatedly temporary basis. Destiny has long since heralded in seasons of competition amongst the three main classes in the game. And Titans always win. (Because Titans are always best.) In the world that exists under the shadow of the shattered Traveler, the many bands of influencers based on Earth sometime enter into a competition. On the surface, one banner is raised above the rest and others are cast aside. For a while.

In EVE Online, there are four empires that perpetuate an unending war to expand their territory. A recently surfaced fifth faction has made advances into the more secure parts of New Eden with a nefarious, unknown purpose. Even so, these are not the only coalitions in the game.

Many players venture out into the unsecured yet known parts of space beyond the reaches of the nations descended from Earth’s long, lost explorers. Groups of players enter into corporations devoted to a way of life, a station of service, or a vision of grandeur. Corporations with similar goals — or, perhaps, complementary functions — compose alliances that can carve out a bit of space to call their home. Alliances seeking mutual benefit often form coalitions of power to further expand their holdings.

Coalitions often parallel nations in the way they conduct themselves on the broader stage of the game. Whether it be by pooling their resources to elect representatives who are charged with influencing the game’s developer, CCP Games, or by arranging transactions and coming to agreeable terms allowing blocs to have borders, these powerhouses routinely engage in political dialogue with each other in order to secure the interests of their people.

Sometimes, however, their people become bored and a spark is required to maintain their allegiance. When the flint and stone are struck, the tinder catches flame.

For the past several years, two coalitions, The Imperium and the Legacy Coalition, operated under a non-invasion pact, a policy that small skirmishes and incursions on the other’s sovereignty would not escalate into a conquest of space.

This yearly agreement, a result of a previous war, was the promise that allowed these two nations to respect the border they shared. Other coalitions would come and go, but these two remained neighbors at arm’s length. The political fence erected between them allowed for their focus to be turned elsewhere. Every year, this contract was affirmed and renewed.

Over the last few weeks, diplomatic talks were held concerning this agreement. The Legacy Coalition made it known that they would be withdrawing from the non-invasion pact. From that point on, the coalitions agreed that the terms of the deal would expire on 5 July 2020.

This weekend, the fence was scheduled to be torn down. Legacy Coalition cornerstone Test Alliance Please Ignore and their allies would shortly afterwards begin the invasion of The Imperium’s territory. Months spent drawing up plans of invasion would be finally executed.

In response, The Imperium’s autocratic ruler declared war and simultaneously ordered aggression to begin from the earliest possible moment: one minute after midnight.

In the last moments of the treaty’s existence, The Mittani turned what would normally be an exclusive speech into a public address. His State of the Goonion cited diverse reasons for the imminent war and he made it known that while outnumbered roughly three-to-one, he would seek to outright conquer Test Alliance Please Ignore.

While psyching his troops up for an uphill battle, he also forced them to temper their reaction to loss, declaring their fleet of capital ships “dead already.” He told his comrades to not consider their current lines of ships, but he demanded their inventiveness by considering how to rebuild their lost ships and carry on the fight to the bitter end. In the background of his streamed speech, The Imperium’s strategic operations began.

After aggression began, progodlegend of the Legacy Coalition made his case for the invasion of Fortress Delve. The ‘Goons’ are the reason the game is in decline. The campaign is a means to an end, and that end is realizing a vision he has for a new normal in the game. Those remarks were followed up by another of Legacy Coalition’s leadership, Vily, who provided more context on the situation by pointing to sheer number of coalitions joining together with the goal of pushing EVE Online into a new era by razing The Imperium homefront.

With all of that being said, it’s important to note that the outcome of this conflict doesn’t mean the end of either entity.

The Imperium’s focus on making Test Alliance Please Ignore their main target in this conflict and the vast number of alliances now on the Legacy Coalition’s side suggest that the conflict will be centralized in the south-east (if using a cardinal direction to describe a game world based on the galaxy doesn’t make sense to you, trust me, it does). Victory for the Goons will depend on their discipline to form and their ability to continue forcing the fight on their terms.

As for Legacy, with its larger force and even larger political considerations to keep in mind, its campaign to drive into Imperium space can not be allowed to stall for a significant amount of time. For both forces, maintaining morale will be important, but as the fight drags on, the Legacy Coalition must maintain their composure.

Both sides are aware of the stakes. The Mittani promised to continue the fight in exile from a neutral region. Vily admitted he very recently compared the chance of a Legacy victory to a coinflip.

Make no mistake, this will be the most expansive conflict New Eden has seen for years. I am certainly excited to watch reports and updates trickle in as events unfold. All while living in the wormhole system I’ve called home for a few months. Practicing to reach a level of proficiency in a game I’ve been acquainted with for years, but have never scratched the surface of what it offers.

And yeah, sidenote: I’m back.

EVE Fanfest 2014 certainly seemed to deliver on a few interesting points.

Like I said before Fanfest began, CCP puts on a crazy show for its fans. This year’s convention wasn’t any different when you consider they had a huge production based around CCP employees fighting a legitimate MMA fighter. However, the most exciting bits of news were never going to come from the silly staged events—they were going to be coming from the panels and presentations.

Feature Image - EVEOThe following are the biggest takeaways as far as I’m concerned presented in no particular order:

  • CCP will eventually drop the PS3 and continue with an updated version of DUST 514 for PC
    Probably the best turnaround news that could have ever come out of CCP Shanghai’s contribution to Fanfest. Developing solely for the Playstation 3 was a mistake and I’m sure that CCP knows it, now that a new console generation is in full swing. Pushing development towards the PC also means that more players will be able to give their previously pod-bound characters a chance to experience infantry combat.

  • CCP plans to roll all three of its games into one product in the future.
    This is the most exciting news that will directly effect the meta of EVE Online and will ultimately allow the other two games CCP is developing to be a success. Allowing players to use their characters in multiple environments gives veteran capsuleers more to do in the New Eden universe instead of the more popular alternative to waiting for something to do in internet space: play another game.

  • The new Mordus Legion pirate faction ships are teh sexeh. And they reskinned the Condor. And the new Moa will win hearts and minds.
    I am a shit-tier industrialist living in high-sec (right outside Jita, I might add) and I’m totally looking forward to spending all of my money on these new ships, especially the completely redesigned Moa with its new retractable nacelles and testing out a low-sec skirmishing Garmur. A full EVE Online recap can be found over at The Mittani.1

  • The tears precipitating from the looming industry changes to remove Tech 2 original blueprints is amazing.
    If the game of EVE Online was supposed tone a game where you could margin-trade to the top, there’d be a lot more market features added to the game than the simple interface they already have. The blueprint concept is supposed to support the notion that (nearly) everything in the game is made but eh players. However, due to the way that Tech 2 BPOs were initially distributed, their finite supply allowed for prices to steadily rise. Now that these are going away, Jita 4-4 margin traders and manufacturers are going haywire, and that’s just the start. There are other industry balancing changes that will be making things more expensive on the whole. Time to HTFU, fellow industry players.2

I might not be the very best at ~internet spaceships~ games, but I’d like to think that I have fun with them. EVE Online is going to change for the better over the next couple of years. Even though not all of what came out of the Icelandic convention was good,3 I’m looking forward to seeing the changes announced at Fanfest in the game.

EVE Fanfest 2014 will be the only thing I watch for a few days.

EVE Fanfest is an annual conference surrounding EVE Online and the other games related to the New Eden universe. It’s become a huge celebration of CCP Games and a chance for players to get together and meet in a real space, but the real value of Fanfest comes from the presentations that take place. Most of the presentations are entertaining and informative about how the company approaches its sandbox.

I’m definitely going to be watching the stream as much as I can. Getting hyped for the upcoming summer expansion. I also have a few drafts for ideas I’m kicking around including posts about my thoughts on Dark Souls 2 (I’ve finally made it to NG+!) and on my first impressions of my Nintendo 2DS purchase now that I’ve had a couple of weeks with it.

As far as must-watch events on the stream, here’s a few I’d suggest anyone to try to make time to watch: 1

  • 1600 UTC today: CSM Panel
    The CSM is a panel made up of players who directly advise CCP Games on the development of new features and updates to EVE Online. With the CSM8 term coming to a close, I imagine there’ll be plenty of reflective-esque comments to be gleamed.
  • 1700 UTC today: EVE Fanfest Welcome & EVE Valkyrie Keynote
    Looking for details to come out about an estimated release date and system plan for Valkyrie, the upcoming space-dogfighting Oculus VR game.
  • 1700 UTC tomorrow: EVE Online Keynote
    This is typically the time when we get the summer expansion revealed to us, complete with a demo of all of the new things being added. With such a huge focus on Industry modernization evidenced by dev blogs, this could be the time for CCP to surprise its players with drastic capital ship rebalancing.
  • 1900 UTC tomorrow: Alliance Panel
    Historically entertaining presentations given about certain player-run organizations in the game. Last year’s highlights (for me) was a tie between TDSIN’s second year presentation which was more of a hilarious update and DBRB’s GSF presentation in his admiral’s outfit… I wonder who will be the winner this year!
  • 1700 UTC Saturday: CCP Presents
    CCP’s future plans have frequently been divulged in this particular block of time. A strong showing here will leave players hyped up for years to come. With the big 10-year-old bash last year that celebrated the upcoming second decade of EVE Online, this presentation is probably going to touch on the status of so many of the ideas they shared about how New Eden will expand in size in the future.

  1. EVE Fanfest 2014 is streamed over CCP’s channel