Stratops, Preppings and the Death of Independent Content

2021-05-02

Header art by Redline XIII

EVE, of late, has experienced much turmoil. As big changes and events plough through the topsoil of the game’s established core, almost everything is disturbed. With all this change, discussion is rampant. Where is the game going? Is EVE’s grind good? What’s the deal with cloaky camping? With more changes coming to capital ships soon, the discussion will not end for some time. For each change that sweeps in, we see a domino effect. If mining changes cause bigger ships to be less viable, will this reinforce the habit of blobbing with smaller ships, so that one side is less likely to lose valuable assets? Note: based on Gobbins’ most recent Townhall, that’s exactly what is happening. If this continues to be true, will it lead to the decline of solo roaming or small gang PvP, as we see players become more conservative with their wallet? How will this affect the in-game economy? What factions will benefit from these plethora of changes? To analyze one issue is to analyze all of them, for they are so interconnected. For this article, the centre point of the investigation will focus on the presiding issue of players’ motivation for the game: content.

What is Content?

Content, if any reader is unaware of the term, refers to the things you do in EVE. It refers less to mining and ratting, although some players may find trading and markets interesting. If one goes out on a roam, one wishes to find content. Roaming could end up with finding some ratters caught with their pants down due to not watching local, or it could be a gate camp with a good chance of a thrilling fight. Good content is engaging and is a big reason why players are willing to play for hours on end. It’s safe to say that good content is important to the health of the game.

As for independent content, this is not a common term, but more a definition that I formulated to accommodate my concept. For this reason, it is loosely defined and refers to roams and fights organized independently of a large governing body. It may include lowsec solo PvP on your own terms, or getting a couple of friends together to roam for the afternoon. Independent content, when done right, is fun. It is a culmination of your ratting or mining efforts, and it is an opportunity for the player to achieve something on their own merit, rather than simply always being an F1 monkey.

So What’s the Problem?

Now that we have established the concept of content, how is this related to stratops and preppings? As alliances and coalitions get more demanding with membership participation in fleets, a player may begin to feel less like an independent entity and more like a commodity. Many alliances push attendance for a certain number of fleets per month. This demand is fine, as it is important for members to contribute, but these requirements should only be reserved for important events. Bashing structures with no hope of contention is not important content. With the constant demand for players to be accounted for, players may begin to develop their play style around the demand. For example, it is easier to simply sit in staging, waiting for pings, than to catch flak from your alliance CEO because you value dead lowsec cynos over fleet attendance. When going out on roams, I notice this a lot. Most people seem too busy ratting, hauling, or doing god knows what to fight. Very few are willing to go out and engage in a genuine fight where one side is not blobbing the other. I am not saying they should suicide a battleship into a bomber fleet, but maybe bring a T1 frig out every now and again and they will be surprised at what they can achieve.

A Solution to the Issue

So now that the issue has been identified, it would helpful for me to propose some sort of solution. I am in no position to demand that FCs stop pinging stratops. After all, they have demands to be met. But I want to perhaps direct my solution at the line member. Many people say that the reason they don’t roam is because there is no good content. Who can solve that problem? Only you. You cannot force people to undock to fight you, but you can bring out a cheap ship, preferably a frigate or destroyer, and go look for content. You will die, lots of times, but you will get better, and more importantly, you will begin to find more fights. You will be amazed at how quickly people undock once their tractor unit is being shot. I know this does not appeal to all, but what I can say is that my favorite EVE moments were always in solo or small gang roams. Killing a Keepstar is cool, but catching an arty Cynabal at 0 in a bubble is even better. Defending an Ansiblex from bashers is cool, but taking on a bait Viator in enemy staging, and coming out ISK-positive, is even more cool. Sitting in staging looking at alliance contracts for doctrine ships is cool, but going out with a ship of my own creation, seeing what I can do with my own fittings, is better 100% of the time.

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Comments

  • Rammel Kas

    There seems to be an undercurrent of unrealistic expectation I’ve always noticed in this point of view. An assumption if you will that other players are in some weird way responsible to be the clown circus for anyone who happens to have scraped up the e-courage to un-dock their collection of pixels. There is in reality nothing like this. And people simply want to win, regardless. If you lose sight of THEIR point of view you get mobbed and turned to confetti. The N+1 dynamic is a part of the sandbox too. The game is much better with groups. And teamwork beats most solo efforts any given Sunday.

    With this in mind yes it does help if you put out an attractive offer. Most really epic fights do happen where one side or the other commit a workable mistake due to overconfidence. Or simple greed. Or simply not knowing? Hard to tell. Requires a bit of thought.

    But my point: Stop expecting OTHER players to provide for you. If they aren’t in your group there is NO reason for them to give you an inch. And the competent ones certainly won’t willingly toss their ships on a fire for your sake. Not unless they first saw some potential gain for themselves out of it. So stop expecting it. Put out a tempting offer first. Flaming out when your e-feelings get offended by something in game just makes you a the toxic kid.

    Also don’t expect limited response from a hot war zone. Objectives are potentially on the wire. So all sides in a war zone will tend to over-react to everything. And with good reason.

    May 2, 2021 at 8:35 AM
    • Noob Rammel Kas

      The N+1 dynamic is certainly part of the sandbox and why, as a solo player, I don’t bitch about null blocs at all – I’m playing the game in a way it wasn’t really meant to be played.

      However, it is also why goons bitching about the “blue donut” is hilariously absurd.

      May 2, 2021 at 9:05 PM
      • Deni'z von Meanace Noob

        You’ve been bitching about goons empire all these years. BoB, N3, HBC etc. been hating goons for their adaptability and proper management on a coalition level while on a corp level most of the goons are dickheads.

        May 2, 2021 at 10:49 PM
        • Rammel Kas Deni'z von Meanace

          Every group has people all over the curve. If they are big enough you’re bound to get outliers. That said, most groups will respond to people slighting or attacking their tribe. So a more prudent question to ask is “what have this group been doing to them to get this response”?

          May 3, 2021 at 7:26 AM
        • I don’t hate goons.

          FYI

          I’m just saying a blue donut is simply N+1 on a grand scale.

          May 3, 2021 at 3:41 PM
      • Rammel Kas Noob

        It’s not an absurd concern if you’ve been watching what certain groups actually DO with the spaces they swallowed already.

        That said… We have had some solo fun in our little war too. There are surprising results you can get by strapping on an entosis link and starting a cycle on a PAPI IHUB. Downside is you need a few ECM resistance modules. Since they will first try to NOT fight you. But they commit some surprising workable mistakes if they come at you with cruisers. Like a Vexor who drops drones and then tries to burn far as they can away from you. Guess you won’t be needing those back? Guess there’s a reason they also fit frigate arty on them? Properly managed it can take them 5 cruisers and 2 tackle frigates to counter a dual rep ancil Vexor. And they often fly really spicy faction ships.

        May 3, 2021 at 7:19 AM
  • Guilford Australis

    Cohesion, cooperation, and organization are necessary for large alliances to work. It’s easy to take a laissez-faire approach if you run a 100-pilot alliance. But if you’re in charge of protecting 2,000 or 20,000 pilots from alliance death, you don’t exactly have the luxury of going on your next SOTA and announcing “Alright boys and girls, what I’d really like you to do is focus more on solo roams rather than being an active working member of the alliance.”

    And, frankly, the reason solo players or people who prefer more solo content are perpetually disappointed is that EVE isn’t a solo game. It’s a sandbox MMO. Most players aggregate into large alliances and do what they’re told because that’s how most players want to play the game. It always strikes me oddly to hear solo and small-gang types blame the big organizations for supposedly stifling the type of content that only a tiny number of players actually want.

    There’s always this weird assumption on the part of solo players that if the nullsec blocs were broken up, there’d suddenly be a glorious renaissance of solo lowsec PVP. That’s pure BS. Players in the large alliances weren’t abducted in the night by a scary man with a Civilian Gatling Railgun and forced to join. They’re playing how they want to play, and if the way they want to play is eliminated or becomes untenable, they’ll stop playing altogether. There will never be a world in which nullsec is populated entirely by small alliances and everyone’s idea of fun is solo Rifter roams in lowsec, because very few players find that appealing, and the nature of a sandbox game is that the meta becomes whatever a majority of players want to do.

    May 2, 2021 at 11:45 AM
    • It is a discussion know to Menkind sinc the first humans, tribes, nations people tiding each other because thats more beneficjent for them. Solo people tend to be outcasts and die silently eventualy.

      May 2, 2021 at 12:31 PM
    • Alaric Faelen Guilford Australis

      Along with pointing out that large scale null sec content is by far the most participated-in content in Eve—– there seems to be some belief that large null sec alliances are limited to ONLY huge fleet battles in heavy TiDi for PvP. I see it often that the small gang ‘purists’ dismiss null sec pilots as purely engaging in large scale, ‘anchor on FC and press F1’ battles. They seem to have this idea that only scrub level alliances in low sec can put together a small fleet.
      Maybe that’s all they can get together, but just because we can fill fleets doesn’t mean we always do or even want to.

      May 2, 2021 at 5:08 PM
      • Carvj94 Alaric Faelen

        For most null groups doing a small roam is as easy as saying “Anyone wanna go on a roam?” in chat. As the group gets bigger its even easier to gather some peeps together to shoot things. Bigger groups allow for bigger fights for sure but it’s laughable when people say that they somehow can’t do small fights anymore.

        May 2, 2021 at 9:11 PM
  • Alaric Faelen

    What this does point out is a scale of content that is badly broken in Eve. Solo PvP roaming is fine- but that isn’t content for 10,000 players. In fact there is no content anywhere in Eve to absorb a sov alliance when it loses all it’s space.
    Solo and small gang is great and all, but looking at the massive disparity in numbers of sov players (especially organized ones) versus even the next closest thing tells you that it’s just what people prefer. Big space battles of armadas slugging it out.
    Not only is it what people want- but no other content could handle that scale of player group. You couldn’t chain enough valuable wormholes together to make it work for an out-of-work sov alliance to settle into. In the past doing things like farming FW was a fall back measure but that was before the changes that favor mega-alliances over coalitions.
    There is nothing even close below much less adjacent to sov for any of the biggest player groups in Eve. It’s sov or nothing.
    This is why I have been advocating for an FW overhaul for years. Make low sec great again. Make it so you can provide content to 10,000 players without it being sov. Make something else in Eve use (and lose) supercapitals.
    Instead of nerfing being able to make or own supers– CCP should make something else for them to do and be lost doing. There should be massive FW battles to flip systems with thousands of players just like killing Ihubs in sov.

    May 2, 2021 at 6:17 PM
    • Garreth Vlox Alaric Faelen

      there’s not, in fact when asked 2 CCP devs came up about 5 options for people to find things to do when asked “what should players do while you unfuck what your patches ruined over the past year?” And 3 of them involved exploration content. CCP has fucked the game, they are in no hurry to unfuck it, and they don’t see a problem with that…

      May 5, 2021 at 6:45 AM
  • Garreth Vlox

    ” Where is the game going?” The dumpster, CCP is dead set on nerfing big groups and continues to fail to understand that nerfing “big groups” slightly, nerfs the ever living shit out of the small groups and little guys out there. You can only nerf the fun out of the game for so long before people decide to go find their fun elsewhere.

    May 2, 2021 at 7:30 PM
    • kwnyupstate . Garreth Vlox

      CCP thinks it can rearrange how the game works by nerfing things when the reason things are as they are is large groups decided to organize. No nerfs to big groups will make small groups be able to compete with them.

      May 2, 2021 at 7:31 PM
  • Deni'z von Meanace

    Solo and small gang content was dead once people get cheap caps available and you had most of the time hot dropped by low sec lords who scared and lazy to do fair fight.
    Bombers bar was a thing for a while but it’s also dead. Spectre fleets same thing.

    May 2, 2021 at 10:46 PM
  • Elithiel en Gravonere

    Every night, as someone in Goons, I regularly organise small gangs to go out and have fun. I regularly encourage them to get their F2 on. Whether that’s guys in Hecate’s, Drek’s, bombers, Asterii or mining barges, they get out there and do stuff not at enormous fleet scale. Sigs and Squads are often doing small gang activity too as are corporations. So to get this content, size does not matter. You can get it in a small corp, but we also provide it in mega alliances too. The difference is, we also provide the large fleet battles that are written about in history too. But consider we have groups who primarily operate in highsec, lowsec and wormhole space, that are part of the Imperium and you get the idea that Null bloc does not equal press F1 content only.

    May 3, 2021 at 9:03 AM
  • Romulus Loches

    Personally I find most non-strategic fleets to be somewhat boring, when I do go on them the content isn’t coming from the game but from the conversations I’m having with friends. My point is, I often don’t want to take a frigate out.

    I have the most fun when there is a fleet of 50-100 pilots in cruisers or battle-cruisers go out and fight a similar sized fleet. Something large enough that there’s dedicated logi, ewar, boosts, etc but not too big where everyone is just being alpha’d off the field. Make it so people need to be anchoring properly, focusing on a single target, broadcasting for reps on time, cycling props as needed, and overall pitting the skill and coordination of one fleet against the other.

    Those fights don’t happen super often, but they happen enough that I will hop in a fleet when I see a ping go out. I like being part of something greater than just my ship. Going on a strategic fleet isn’t some chore I do between ratting/mining/ship spinning, and I’m not worried about my CEO yelling at me. If people feel that way when they play the game then they should switch corps and live in a different area of space where they can do what they want instead.

    May 3, 2021 at 6:57 PM
    • Alaric Faelen Romulus Loches

      I agree. Despite the impressive size of the headline grabbing battles- those fights really aren’t fun- they are simply a means to a strategic end.
      I think 25-100 people is a good compromise between avoiding TiDi and other complications of giant fleets, and still being able to field fully fleshed out battle fleets with support wings, as well as sustain some losses before having to disengage. Larger fleets like 150+ can be cool but they tend to burn more time forming up and getting somewhere only to find out no one wants to tangle with a fleet that big and docks up.

      May 5, 2021 at 4:55 PM