Narratives are very important in internet spaceship wars, for they drive people to do things. With World War Bee we have seen both sides parade their respective narratives. Some seem to have aged better than others. Let’s take a look at the world of the narratives.
The First Goal Posts
First, let’s go back to the lead up to the war. PAPI leadership were very keen to appear on any show that they could, espousing the reasons why the Imperium should receive extreme treatment. After all, PAPI’s original stated goals were revealed in quotes such as:
- “For us, this is a war of extermination” (Vily, Polygon).
- “To me the Imperium IS mittani. I left before it became the Imperium if you remember. To me the Imperium is the embodiment of the toxicity in alliances.” – Vily (Reddit)
- “We cannot lose as long as we execute properly. We’ve got the numbers; we’ve got the titans; we’ve got the dreads, the FCs. Goons have the advantage of defensive game mechanics, but otherwise this war is ours to lose, and we’re not going to lose it.” – Progodlegend 2020-09-20
- “Over the next few months, we are going to invade Querious and Delve and destroy everything Goons have built.” – Progodlegend 2020-09-20
- “We have to finish the war with maximum effort. We have to kill every Goon structure in all three of these regions and drive them to lowsec and then sit on their face and make sure they truly understand how terrible their leadership is for putting them in this situation and start to realize that Goonswarm, is not, in its current form, a viable alliance in this game. Maybe one day in the future they’ll change and become something useful and maybe they’ll die. Who cares?” – Progodlegend 2020-11-15
Pretty strong language, as I am sure many would agree. Especially when you look at how infamous PL member and former Goon leadership Darius Johnson is quoted: “we are not here to ruin the game, we are here to ruin your game”. How has that been received over the years? In Darius’ instance, you have someone trying to defeat someone else’s gameplay. In the Vily/PGL references, you seem to have leaders expressing a desire for Goons to quit the game entirely.
With that intention made very clear, the measured response of The Mittani, leader of the Imperium, was distributed. In his response, The Mittani set the expectations of every member of The Imperium. It would be tough and bloody, with the prospects really not looking good for the Imperium. But the Imperium would resist “extermination” as best it could. The Imperium was not running; Delve would be defended.
The Last Goal Posts?
As in the real world, certain devices can help with narratives, little tricks of wordplay that keep participants invested in fulfilling the desired task.
For instance, if you have a project in the real world and you have no idea what you are doing, then you create an advertising plan that no one can decipher. Typically, such plans have many loosely defined phases, with even less clear specifics. Then, you can make demands for additional resources to complete the ethereal and unrealistic objectives. Peter Principle and Dunning Krugers abound. It is also likely that the “narcissist’s prayer” will be heavily employed.
So, back into the world of New Eden and ten months into World War Bee, it is worth looking at the core narratives now, for both sides.
For the Imperium, their original war objective of “not being exterminated” holds as true today as it did all that time ago. There have been many things attributed to The Mittani by PAPI membership, without references provided. That is strange, for The Mittani is very good at repeating things once he is set on them, such as “not being exterminated” and “eat my ass,” which can be found in almost any speech he gives. Both are very well documented. So, when PAPI reference things (allegedly from The Mittani,) like “Fortress Fountain,” they should have had no trouble providing the hundreds of instances that The Mittani must have said such a thing. And yet, where are the references? This can mean only one one thing; that he never said it in reality.
PAPI leadership seems more fragmented on their respective war goals now. They are being described as “complicated.” But PAPI members are being assured that “everything is fine!” and that this was all part of “the plan.” So let us look as this fabled “plan of extermination.” Thankfully Vily – Sky Marshal of PAPI forces – has never really been shy, especially when he is riding high on what he considers a victory. So we may take Vily seriously when he says: “Phase 2 is Probing. Phase 3 is the approach on Delve. Phase 4 is the Big Battle. Phase 5 is Consolidation.” Vily, Reddit.
You know Vily’s word is good, right? Well, PAPI has approached Delve, for sure. But how many phases have we gone through? How many are left to execute? Did the ‘Big Battle’ take place in M2-XFE? Surely he didn’t anticipate that back in August of 2020. So, when is the ultimate Big Battle?
We hear now there probably won’t be one. Do remember that PAPI has every advantage here, aside from being the defender. It is 150k vs 50k. PAPI also declared for years that members of the Imperium are not fighters and they only “krab” for ISK. This whole war should have been a walk in the park, surely?
But as of this writing, the stated goals of each member of the mega-blue-donut-rental-coalition still seem diffused.
The Narratives Tested
In order for a narrative to be believed, it must be tested for its “truthiness.”
The Imperium Will Survive
For Imperium members, their narrative has an easy test – we still survive.
You can easily find all the negative things that PAPI leadership have said about the Imperium all over the place: YouTube, Twitch, mainstream gaming news, and more esoteric sources all abound with talk of “toxic leadership,” “stagnation,” “too big,” and so on. But members of the Imperium keep logging in, which I believe remains one of the tests of “truthiness.” For PAPI members and pundits, the longevity and resilience of the Imperium shows we have all “drunk the koolaid” and are analogous to North Korea, etc. And yet, I think they marvel that the Imperium hasn’t crumbled for all the external pressures.
1DQ1-A remains unmolested. NPC Delve awaits should the need ever arise.
The Mittani continues to bang the same drum to the same beat as at the start of the war. He still says “Eat my ass” frequently and remains “unrepentant” for any crimes laid at his feet. The only thing that has changed for the Imperium is the revelation that they were absolutely right about the mega-blue-donut-rental coalition called PAPI.
Eleven months now and recent war updates show the war grinding a snail’s crawl. We may soon see Ban Syrin’s weekly war update reduced to a single paragraph with the lede, “Nothing new this week. Check back next week. We still are in the ‘probing’ phase.”
The PAPI Approach
With PAPI, though, things are a lot more complicated.
Member corporations and alliances have seen the light, died, or drifted off elsewhere to further their own agendas. Some small non-aligned alliances became too bold and dared to take valuable rental space from PAPI. Generally, those small-fry groups have been “resolved” quite quickly and with overwhelming force; PAPI will let no one stand unaligned. If you have space in null, you had best be in PAPI (or renting from PAPI) or they’ll come for you, too. PAPI members have been told on numerous occasions that “the light at the end of the tunnel” is plain to see. That could be, but being stalled inside a tunnel may not be the best place to be.
If you were to look at killboards and Dotlan, you can see another truth of sorts: the Imperium has been pushed back to a single constellation.
But this has been the case for weeks now, and PAPI leadership declared the “final siege of 1DQ” three weeks ago. Meanwhile, ship losses on each side are still remarkably even. Furthermore, the numbers turning up to engagements remain significant for both sides, such that neither can claim real progress in that regard.
Some PAPI members have found that some of their original plans have been more than scuppered. For instance, the intention of Legacy to hold a number of regions to rent out has, at least, been delayed significantly. I’m sure you’ll remember that at one time Legacy proclaimed they would keep all their pre-war holdings and add Fountain, Delve, Querious, and Period Basis. That “truthiness” has been put to the test and been found wanting.
Further, the “extermination” element has been walked back as well, by all but the hardest of PAPI members.
Troops of PAPI forces have also been prepared by their leadership that the slow creep with sub-caps will continue for many months to come. This endgame now will be a slow grind to starve out the Imperium, as if the concept of a “siege” makes any sense at all in a video game with cynos and cloaky ships. Still, the siege narrative persists, as if PAPI were blind to the idea that Imperium alts can mine and rat in PAPI space as ‘happy’ PAPI members. This, despite the fact that the Imperium never seems to run out of ships, material, or wealth.
The Sound of Winning, or is it Whinning?
We are all probably aware that r/Eve is a place of “fine” posting about all matters relating to Eve Online. It also serves additional purposes, one of which is as a temperature gauge for New Eden residents. PAPI members and leadership turn up to shape narratives that have already been proven false by their very own words. Tricky questions, though, are never touched, such as, “Where is all the rental ISK collected by NC over the years?”
“Server weather” and other such ‘limitations’ have been trotted out as real possibilities that prevent an assault on 1DQ itself, let alone the primary staging Keepstar of The Imperium. Again, this narrative is proclaimed in spite of the fact that server weather has been an issue with EVE Online from the days of the first big battles fifteen years ago. A decent narrative would have to explain why the “weather” issue has suddenly caught PAPI leadership off guard, and caused them to make the most horrendous error in perhaps all online gaming history, with the debacle of M2. But not such narrative comes forth.
By listening to all of the sources, you get a feel for the tempo of the war. At this time I do not hear PAPI winning. But I do hear the Imperium laughing loudly at simply continuing to exist. That can happen when your main commanding FC begins by setting the goalpost at “extermination.” And no, we’ll never forget it or let PAPI forget it. Why should we?
New Narratives Written
During World War Bee, words have been said aplenty on both sides. We can also catch a glimpse of the future narratives.
The Imperium has entered a new era. All that trash prior to The Casino War has been swept away. A new and improved Imperium has emerged from the trial of the 2016 war involving casino ISK, which was subsequently banned from the game. That casino ISK financed these same people, except WinterCo. So, five years after that war, here we are again. It’s no different.
Except! After holding out against 150k characters for almost a year, no one can honestly dispute the heroic efforts of the Imperium. In fact, monuments have been placed where their name rings victorious. No one can seriously claim that Imperium are only krabbers and miners. Of course, we were always more than that, but that specific falsehood, at least, has sunk like the Titanic.
Any member of PAPI now has a problem. They are now tainted by reputation of the PAPI mega-blue-donut-rental empire. “Join Brave and come and defend someone else’s rental empire in the largest blue donut ever formed” is not quite as appealing as the previous incarnations of Brave recruitment. And in the future, if alliances say (on Reddit of course) “Why do you hassle us in our space? Why do you form a blue ball to take us on when we are so disadvantaged?”
Imperium members will always have the reason in hand: “You came for us in our home, twice.”
We have also seen something else hinted at. The Mittani has declared that blue donuts and renting are not the way for the Imperium. But he then went on to describe what he considers to be a fundamental dogma of PAPI. PAPI demand that people play the game the way they want you to. You will be allowed to exist at their pleasure. If you threaten their establishment you will be crushed.
So, two philosophies of gameplay are at stake here: the Imperium allows alliances to do what they want. Yes, we come and smack you, trash-talk, and then leave. But PAPI wants to control the very way you play – their way, or the highway.
Back to the Real World
One day, the New Eden servers will be turned off.
On that day our collective story ends, no matter what side we have fought on. It’s possible that EVE Online subscribers will move to another game, but it’s also possible that they just give up.
The broader point is that the stories we make for ourselves – right now, as individuals – are the important story.
Be it chilling on comms, doing elite PvP, Station Trading, or Meta-Gameplay, we all play EVE Online and we all love this game.
Your story is up to you.