Header art by Quendan Comari
Possibility, in the near future, for the first time in the 18-year history of EVE Online, the server will be unified under a peace-loving blue donut consisting of flour, icing, little colorful sprinkles, and the most powerful coalitions on the Tranquility Server. Or is it the first time?
For some players, this outcome will signal ultimate victory, the successful end of the campaign they started over 43 weeks ago. For others, this potential situation is the realization of their worst fears, and for them it possibly signifies the end of days for New Eden. As I examine these two viewpoints and events unfolding in game, I can’t help but feel a chill go down my spine, as I’m reminded more and more of the events which took place in 2017 on the Serenity server.
A Serenity Primer
For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, but occasionally take a look at the sov map link on INN to check in one what’s going on, there are four sov maps at sov.space. Check out the one on the lower right. You’ll find there the Serenity Server, China’s version of EVE Online. Like Tranquility, Serenity has its own totally separate player history of epic battles and events. While we won’t go into all of that today, the downfall and eventual destruction of this server shows some scary parallels to what is happening in Tranquility right now. It is an alternate dimension, if you will, from which we can either learn to avoid, or learn to embrace, our potential future.
In March of 2014 Serenity saw a 23-hour long supercapital fight in 49-U6U on the Chinese server. Much like our battle of B-R5 it saw mass destruction on a record setting scale: 84 titans, 39 supercarriers, and over 1000 capital ships were destroyed. Much like our current situation on Tranquility, two “Mega Coalitions” had been at war. PIBC (Pan Galactic Business Community) and VVV (Veni Vidi, Vici) were fighting the RACOA/FDR Coalition. RACOA/FDR has specifically formed to stop PIBC from taking over the entire server. They soundly lost this battle. 49-U6U was not the end of the war, but PIBC and their allies ended up in control of much of the same territory that PAPI now controls on the Tranquility. The enemies of PIBC spent three years rebuilding and growing their organizations. At the end of 2017 The Galactic Alliance (TGA) invaded the North and invited the entire Serenity community to help them fight in what came to be known as The Letter War. Also, RAC invaded in the south. Things started to look interesting again.
It did not work. TGA lost a decisive capital battle, and PIBC was able to push most everyone into NPC Null and then camp them. PIBC had decisively won the war and put its enemies into a situation where they were not going to be able to rebuild. They now controlled everything, and embraced the yummy goodness, harmony, and peace of the blue donut. Unfortunately, after consuming enough blue donuts, the server’s heart detonated like a grenade, and it died.
The Alliances not affiliated with PIBC didn’t try to build a bigger, better empire or plan for round three. They were not interested in either losing the same tired battles all over again, or in kissing up to PIBC. What they did do was withdraw to Tranquility, in mass. From Serenity, Tranquility got Fraternity, VVV, The Army Of Mangos Alliance, and many others. PIBC got total control of Serenity, but only for a little while. In July 2018, the company that ran the Chinese servers for EVE Online lost a lawsuit in Wuhu People’s court for banning botting accounts. They then hesitated to further police botting, which lead to its proliferation. Their partnership with CCP soon came to and end. CCP instead partnered with NetEase, a company that also runs Blizzard Activision’s World of Warcraft servers in China. NetEase has, of today, not been able to meet the new regulation demands of the Chinese government and Serenity remains, for all intents and purposes, dead.
Will History Repeat Itself?
By examining what has happened to the Serenity server, we can draw the conclusion that the long-term establishment of the Blue Donut would not be good for Tranquility. But would it mean the end of everything? I asked, on a Reddit post, if the development of huge, monolithic player organizations was bad for the game. I got several interesting replies. The_Salacious_Zaand of Goonswarm wrote, “Yes.” Heplo held the view that, “Humans went from hunting tribes to [creating] things like big federations, unions, and alliances, like the US, EU, NATO. It would be delusional to think the same wouldn’t happen in game.” Dave-Stark posted, “I’ve seen how this one ends, in hypocrisy,” gesturing at the current state of the game.
Tranquility has an advantage that Serenity lacked: a diverse group of players from many different areas and countries. That diversity creates a lot of different ideas and ideologies about what is fun about playing Eve, what is good for the game, and what is the best way to run an Alliance. The formation of PAPI is an oddity, the result, I believe, of players rejecting the stagnation that occurs once major power blocks settle into their spheres of influence in sov space.
John Donne, Anyone?
The big question is: What is going to happen after the war ends, assuming it ever does end? PAPI leadership has remained somewhat unified during the conflict, and has hinted at an interim period where they will stay blue to each other even after the war to prevent Goonswarm’s return to null sec. As we’ve seen from the Serenity server, too much “blue donut love” is bad for the game. With all of the diversity and different viewpoints that exist within Tranquility, I don’t see such a power bloc lasting for long, especially if we reexamine the factors that caused its formation in the first place.
However, we may also ask: For whom does The Blue Donut Toll? It tolls for thee!