The Serenity Superstition

2021-04-06

Header Art by Redline XIII

A specter is haunting EVE Online—-the specter of Serenity. All the powers of nullsec have entered into an unholy alliance to exorcise Goons from the game. And this specter plans to create the largest blue donut EVE has ever seen, unite all of nullsec under one controlled, renting government, and destroy any hope for a free nullsec for everyone ever after. So the story goes, at least. And many are quite spooked by this specter. 

But I ain’t afraid of no ghosts! And you shouldn’t be either. The Serenity superstition is a highly improbable (even impossible) scenario being thrown around like it is Ragnarok made manifest. It has been prophesied both by Imperium members, spoken in horror and despair, as well as PAPI forces in less condemning tones. But this superstition is just that––a superstition. The facts, along with some analysis, will dispel this specter and reveal it for what it is: a manifestation of players’ fears, but not a reflection of reality. Come! Let us reason together and pull the sheet off this ghost. 

The Assumptions One Buys

There are a number of assumptions one has to buy to believe that the future of EVE will be ruled by a stable, unified, blue donut never to combat its separate parts again. These assumptions are:

  • The forces of PAPI wish to create this specter
  • The forces of PAPI are able to create this specter
  • The forces of PAPI would be able to maintain this specter, once created

Each of these assumptions can only be answered in the negative. None of these assumptions are true or likely; I will look at each one. 

The first assumption is that PAPI wishes to create a second Serenity. Is it possible? Well, maybe for some members of PAPI. The majority of PAPI members? No. PAPI members are by no means a monolith; they are many different groups, with different goals, different playstyles, different aims. But it seems pretty certain that most PAPI members enjoy combat, warfare, and content too much to desire a situation that severely limits that aspect of play that so many members of PAPI play EVE for. 

As for the PAPI leadership, they have stated rather succinctly that a permanent blue donut is not the aim. One of the initial claims, for what it’s worth, for starting the war was simply to end a lingering conflict stagnation. In other words, if believed, PAPI forces believed there wasn’t enough conflict/combat before the war started; aims to develop a Serenity server would be at odds with this reason to start the war in the first place. Furthermore, PAPI leadership has stated more than once that after WWBII they plan on fighting other PAPI sectors. Could they be lying to us, only saying this to pull the wool over our eyes and establish a second Serenity in the last act? One is free to believe so. But if you do, you then have to believe that PAPI leadership could actually accomplish such a feat. A doubtful scenario at best. 

A Stable Donut Possible?

It wasn’t too long ago when the majority of the conversation here on INN regarding various PAPI forces was that they were backstabbers, among many other unfortunate names and labels. Building a stable alliance on a historical foundation of attacking “blues” isn’t very plausible. In fact, it’s a logical contradiction. To believe that PAPI is capable of ushering in the specter of a second Serenity is to admit that former backstabbers have magically been reformed by this war, or to admit that these former backstabbers were never really backstabbers in the first place.

So what are we left with? According to the Serenity specter, a very large, diverse group of restless, combat addicted alliances who want to shake things up, who have a history of attacking “blues,” and whose leadership states they don’t intend to stay perpetually aligned, is going to create the Serenity 2.0. 

I’m not convinced. 

Furthermore, to believe in the Serenity Superstition is to have great faith that Serenity’s political situation isn’t brought about to a large degree by its drastically lower population. According to EVE Offline Tranquility server has had, over its lifespan, a 37,000 average player count. Serenity over its lifespan has averaged only 4,900 players. Over the past three months Tranquility hovers at about 25,000 players; Serenity has averaged over the last three months only a little over 7,800 players. Calculated another way, over the two server’s lifespan Tranquility has averaged over 7 times as many players as Serenity. Over the past three months Tranquility averages over 3.2 times as many players as Serenity. To assume, rather blindly, that this huge population difference spread out over the same amount of space doesn’t affect both the gameplay, politics, and the meta of Serenity (making it what it is) is ill-conceived.

Even after one ponders the effects of the population differences, there is still the cultural differences of a far more homogeneous player base of Serenity as compared to the culturally kaleidoscopic Tranquility. In other words, it is quite possible that an all (or mostly) Chinese player base that is less than a third the size of the much larger, multi-cultural world community found in Tranquility is going to create a very different in-game political dynamic. Considering the population and cultural differences found in the two servers, to assume that what can happen in Serenity can just simply be repeated (because some PAPI leaders snapped their fingers) in Tranquility is to ignore the very different actually lived conditions of both servers.

Lastly, when one reviews past sov maps one sees times when New Eden was far more unified and power-blocked than it is now. Compare the following images:

An old sov map, dominated primarily by three mega-alliances: CFC, N3, and Pandemic Legion. Found here
https://www.verite.space/maps/coalition/coalitioninfluence.png
Current sov map showing five major alliances: The Imperium, Winter Coalition, PanFam, FI.RE, and Legacy.

The first image is an old sov map which shows nullsec dominated by primarily three mega-alliances: the CFC, Pandemic Legion, and N3. The second image is a current sov map showing a nullsec divided up by primarily five mega-alliances: The Imperium, Winter Coalition, PanFam, FI.RE, and Legacy, showing a net increase of mega-alliances from times past. If one ignores the most recent events starting with the establishment of PAPI, an entity whose days are numbered, one finds a nullsec more divided and broken up. Not less. 

The Consequences of the Serenity Specter Narrative

Perhaps even more revealing than deconstruction the premises of the Serenity specter narrative is looking at their consequences. If one, after everything, continues to believe in the Serenity specter, a number of curious consequences reveal themselves. 

For starters, The Imperium are positioned as the white knights of New Eden, a last stand for freedom against tyranny. But what does one do with all those other players in EVE, all those members in PAPI? One has to come to one of the following conclusions.

  1. Everyone but The Imperium desires a Serenity server. Hence, everyone but The Imperium are the willing forces of oppression and stagnation.
  2. There are others besides Imperium members who don’t want Serenity 2.0; therefore, everyone but The Imperium are ignorant of what they and their leadership are doing.
  3. There are others besides Imperium members who don’t want Serenity 2.0, and are not ignorant of what they and their leadership are doing; therefore, everyone but The Imperium are cowards. 
  4. Some combination of the former three.

When considering the consequences of believing in the Serenity specter, the narrative looks all the more suspicious. Are Imperium members really the only good, enlightened and brave souls to inhabit nullsec, and all others evil, ignorant, cowards? Is it really so black and white; and, by some miracle of the EVE gods, were the sheep separated from the goats right along The Imperium’s border? The rational part of ourselves compels us to say no, of course not; and anyone who continues to think so has given up the better part of his reason in place of a simplistic prejudice: “Bee good; pubbie bad! Bee smart; pubbie dumb! Bee brave; pubbie skurd!”

Conclusion

When the sheet is pulled off the specter what is revealed underneath is merely a manifestation of fears used to  re-situate Goons as the valiant freedom fighters, as opposed to all the other things they have been accused of rightfully or wrongfully. Far more reasonable and likely is that there are no good guys in this war, and no bad guys, but like the Dave Mason song “we just disagree.” The truth is that the “blue donut” as it currently stands most likely won’t last long after this war is over; it didn’t last long after the last one. Instead, PAPI most probably will be looked at as a kind of loose patchwork of disparate groups held together by a common goal. The moment that goal is accomplished, or dropped, that patchwork will fall apart organically over time. Yes, likley there will be a period of peace; this is the longest war EVE has ever seen, and after it is over some very tired people are going to want some time to rest. But it won’t stay that way.

It’s time to go back to bed kids; there is nothing under your beds, nothing hiding in the closet, no ghosts out in the hallway. Those sounds you heard were just the rustling of leaves and whistling breeze at your window. 

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Comments

  • Moomin Amatin

    Not sure how you can write about the “Serenity Superstition” when it has already happened on Serenity. If a thing has already happened then surely it is a fact? Then to state that it could not possibly happen on Tranquility seems ambitious at best, especially when history is considered.

    This is all the funnier as Frat have more than declared an alignment of interests with the rest of PanFam. PanFam is also flanked again by FIRE on the other side. Things are good for PanFam, just check the sov map.

    April 6, 2021 at 8:36 AM
    • Rammel Kas Moomin Amatin

      Indeed we need only look at what these people actually DO in a series of given situations. Since the diplomatic and ACL settings can be toggled at whim, looking at something like ESI pulls or your in-game corporation standings aren’t really all that meaningful.

      If you were to challenge Norhaus or Vince to temp-blue Imperium to take on the other you would simply get a “no” if you are lucky. Probably a permanent black-list behind the curtains if you caught them on a bad day.

      April 6, 2021 at 10:56 AM
  • William Doe

    Just had to post, Exorcist isn’t a verb but a noun. Exorcize would’ve been the correct word, but knowledge of it’s standard definition doesn’t really work well in context of what you’re trying to portray in this article. Expel would’ve been the best word in it’s place.

    April 6, 2021 at 9:36 AM
    • Seir Luciel William Doe

      Fixed; thanks!

      April 6, 2021 at 3:16 PM
  • Guilford Australis

    This perfectly encapsulates the PAPI sophistry.

    ‘We’re not really doing what we are, in fact doing. Our leaders don’t really intend to do what they say they want to do (which they are, in fact, doing). We don’t really intend to complete the “blue donut” (despite having, in fact, done just that). We don’t really intend to completely eliminate our only significant adversary in nullsec (despite pledging to destroy literally everything they own and drive them out of the game). No sir, don’t believe your lyin’ eyes. Believe the brigade of random PAPI line members on Reddit and INN, because we alone have the True Knowledge that our own leaders are saying and doing things that are completely opposed to what is actually intended.’

    April 6, 2021 at 1:37 PM
  • Zaand

    “These assumptions are:
    The forces of PAPI wish to create this specter.
    The forces of PAPI are able to create this specter.”

    These aren’t assumptions, these are the facts as they stand right now. PAPI HAS created a blue donut of every nulsec group of consequence sans Imperium. So aside from vague promises of one day disbanding the blue donut, all I see right now is Imperium literally and figuratively being the one thing preventing a 360 degree blue hellhole in TQ right now.

    April 6, 2021 at 6:40 PM
    • Don’t forget, “As for the PAPI leadership, they have stated rather succinctly that a permanent blue donut is not the aim.”

      …while just the other week PAPI leadership literally said that PAPI was going to remain a thing for a lot longer than originally anticipated.

      I mean, I guess PAPI already has been a thing for much longer than expected: I’d have expected TEST to find a way to fuck everything up and reneg on their agreements months ago, but you know what I mean.

      “It’s not a permanent blue donut, it’s just that all of us are going to work together and only shoot people not in our clubhouse for the foreseeable future. Sometimes the entities aren’t actually color-tagged blue, so it’s really not a blue donut at all.”

      April 7, 2021 at 11:27 PM
      • Moomin Amatin Ganthrithor

        PAPI started the war saying that it was not the aim. It seems to me that PAPI leadership now recognise that despite them actively and openly pursuing the “blue donut rental dream” their line members have no concerns about such a landscape. Now there is talk of “Wardens of Null”. A little elite group of people who decide who gets to do what. This is the funniest war to date and I love that us goons are shinning a light on the massive hypocrisy and deceit of PAPI.

        April 8, 2021 at 1:45 AM
        • Remember when the entire game collectively shit their pants and formed a massive RMT funded coalition to destroy the Imperium for literally the exact same thing?
          Pepridge Farm remembers.

          April 8, 2021 at 2:26 PM
  • Democritus

    This article is like the self loathing of a drug addict.
    You know the blue donut is bad but you just keeping on doing it, desperately trying to make excuses along the way.

    The reality is that PAPI high ups are already on record stating that the blue donut is a reality and that it can be maintained for a year or more to come. Pretending you don’t want a blue donut is completely contradicted by them and completely undermines the basis of this article.

    I actually see something potentially far more sinister here. The Serenity server 0.0 politics and stagnation are dominated by real life ISK for $$$ rental businesses. The fact is that Pandemic Legion is now closely tied up with XIX on Tranquillity, living next door with a similar rental model to XIX. XIX is infamous for exactly this type of illegal ISK for $$$ activity. Naturally, powerful independent 0.0 entities put such businesses at risk, so I truly wouldn’t be surprised if the PL ties to XIX go that deep.

    April 7, 2021 at 1:49 AM
  • Romulus Loches

    This argument is filled with fallacies; First an appeal to ignorance about buy in assumptions, then a red herring about the population of Tranquility compared to Serenity and pictures of past sov maps, followed up by a false trichotomy and Ad Hominem attack against the Imperium.

    In summary, there is no hard evidence that supports the claims in this article. It begs the question the entire time and simply asks the reader, “Can you believe this?”

    This war is rapidly approaching a year in length. At what point do you acknowledge the blue donut that the PAPI forces are in right now?

    April 7, 2021 at 4:14 PM
    • Seir Luciel Romulus Loches

      Someone picked up a book on logic at some point. More people ought to study logic and rhetoric, so I applaud your appeal to these terms.

      However, labeling and categorizing the elements of my argument doesn’t actually constitute a counter argument; you aren’t addressing my points. Furthermore, I resist the notion that I have leveled an ad hominem attack at The Imperium; I have not resorted to name-calling, nor have I attacked the character of The Imperium or any of its members. My article only addresses the rhetoric and arguments proposed by some Goon members which I see as ultimately built upon poor reasoning.

      I do agree with you, though, that the summation of my article equates to: “Can you believe this?” I certainly cannot.

      But time will tell. If history proves me wrong I will be the first to admit it.

      April 7, 2021 at 5:01 PM
      • Moomin Amatin Seir Luciel

        The title of the article is “The Serenity Superstition”. In this you try to posit that a thing that has already happened cannot happen again. Especially as the very same people from Serentiy are in the thick of the deal on Tranquility.

        History has already proven you to be wrong. This would not even take into account Serenity and just look at the history of Tranquility. This is not a new road we are walking down and yet for some reason you seem to insist you are right and everyone else is wrong. You need only listen to Noraus, Vily and others to hear them say “PAPI will be around for another year at least”. For what purpose, “Wardens of Null”?

        If you can hand on heart look at the sov map and not see a problem then so be it, there is nothing I can say to sway you. I just get to have a “I tried to warn you” moment later on.

        April 7, 2021 at 6:51 PM
        • Seir Luciel Moomin Amatin

          History has proven no one wrong, it is still in its development. I don’t know why you seem so eager to proclaim the end of history, but I’m not. I’ve said my piece: PAPI won’t last too long after the war. If I’m wrong, yes, you will get to tell me you told me so and I will concede you had the more prescient prediction.

          April 7, 2021 at 9:21 PM
          • Moomin Amatin Seir Luciel

            So Serenity has not happened? Are you really trying to tell me that the state of Serenty is NOT historical? The very same people who created that are busy working to create the same thing here with the people that failed to do it in plain sight over a decade ago.

            History is already written. This war was started on a lie just as the Casino War was funded on dirty casino ISK. PAPI leadership have stated that they will exist for a lot longer than people think time and time again.

            April 8, 2021 at 1:35 AM
      • Romulus Loches Seir Luciel

        I’m not gonna go point by point to refute everything you said, if I was I’d write my own counter article.

        I will however address the fact that Ad Hominem is not name-calling, it is attacking the character instead of the argument. Your section under “The Consequences of the Serenity Specter Narrative” is a mixture of a trichotomy that uses the presentation of Goons being bad guys through rhetorical questions. If you don’t understand how that is different, then pick up a book.

        April 7, 2021 at 8:00 PM
        • Seir Luciel Romulus Loches

          “I have not resorted to name-calling, nor have I attacked the character of The Imperium or any of its members.”– Seir Luciel’s previous comment.

          My friend, you aren’t reading my words thoroughly. I can only assume you are jumping to presumptions about my points, but not actually reading them out. I have re-read my section and, again, there are no ad hominem attacks. You are confusing an attack on specific Goon rhetoric and arguments for an attack on those who made them.

          My “trichotomy” is simply the three assumptions found within the Goon argument I am deconstructing. I don’t know why this seems to be a sticking point for you, but all I am saying is that these three premises of a particular Goon narrative, are unreasonable.

          April 7, 2021 at 9:16 PM
          • Romulus Loches Seir Luciel

            You mentioned name calling in your response to my saying you are using Ad Hominem rhetoric. I responded by pointing out that name calling isn’t included in what I accused you of in the first place. That’s a strawman argument you are trying to put in my mouth and I refute it.

            I may indeed be reading into your statements a bit, however rhetorical lines like, “Are Imperium members really the only good, enlightened and brave souls to inhabit nullsec, and all others evil, ignorant, cowards?” that are obviously sarcastic in nature seem to imply the opposite of what you are asking. Now you can claim that your statement wasn’t meant to be an attack, and I think to that point we’d just have to agree to disagree.

            You do not state any Goon argument so therefore have nothing to deconstruct, merely three assumptions you propose that people could have who support Goons. Your claim that it is a particular Goon narrative also doesn’t work because then you’d be able to point to someone who says those exact things. At best, it’s a particular PAPI narrative (yours because it’s your article) about the believed Goon narrative. A good argument would quote an actual official stance, but you choose to only quote a purposefully inflammatory comment and fail to credit it to anyone. (I’m not doubting it’s a quote, merely commenting on your poor sourcing skills in this case.)

            Now, the true nail in the coffin to your whole article is actually given to us in a neat admission in your conclusion. “The truth is that the “blue donut” as it currently stands…” You see, in that line, you admit that there is a blue donut and makes it so you are only hoping that it doesn’t continue. And because I know you’ll walk that back and say it’s a blue donut the way that you define it and not the commonly accepted definition, I’ll point to the quotes you used which means the exact opposite.

            April 7, 2021 at 10:30 PM