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:
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.
- Everyone but The Imperium desires a Serenity server. Hence, everyone but The Imperium are the willing forces of oppression and stagnation.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!”
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.