EVE Online’s July patch-pansion, called Aegis, brought with it an universe-sundering change in the core, defining feature of the venerable MMO – sovereignty. Reception for the Aegis Sovereignty System (more commonly referred to as Fozziesov in the EVE Online community) was mixed, at best – and is no better today. In recent weeks, Nulli Secunda announced they were closing their doors; Black Legion is ceding their sovereign territory (a move announced with an eloquent post headlined by the statement “Fuck Fozzie”); and UAxDeath (a prominent Russian alliance leader and, more recently, a CSM member) famously issued a proclamation of dislike on the EVE Online forums.
Last week, though, I found myself in nullsec for the first time in years, helping a ramshackle bunch of pirates, wormholers, bittervets, and industrialists take sovereignty in Scalding Pass. A Band Apart, the alliance more famous for its leader than for anything it has actually done in the game, took sovereignty with a handful of players and a great deal of pluck. It was as unlikely a sight as I’ve seen in the game – more unlikely even than the Phoenix dreadnaught I caught (and killed) in a lowsec belt, where it was ratting.
To be clear, this is not an event that would have taken place without the implementation of Fozziesov. While Black Legion may complain that ‘sov isn’t fun anymore’ – a sentiment that is totally valid for the PVP orientated sov holders of the world – no one can deny that sov is fundamentally more accessible now. A Band Apart took sov, after all, and did it without the protection of a regional super power or the exchange of mass quantities of ISK.
The trouble present in the EVE community – or rather, the sov-holding EVE community – is not a question of whether the current system works. Instead, the conflict between player and developer would appear to resolve over a far more fundamental question: what does holding sovereignty even mean anymore?
Gone are the days of Great Wars, but if we’re honest those days have been gone for some time. Gone are the days of vast renter empires. Gone are the days of Fortress Delve, the Big Blue Donut, Mittanigrad or bust. In its place are idiots like me, floating around wondering how I entosis things; Freeport republics that are open to all (and totally ingenious scams – but that is another topic altogether); solo pilots actually taking sovereignty in underutilized stretches of space all by themselves.
The Old Guard take this new age as a sign of disrespect, a slap in their collective faces by the very company they feed. They forget that Fozziesov is, essentially, exactly what they clamored for just a year ago: occupancy-based sovereignty. Sure, the system is a little clunky – no one claims it to be perfect, least of all CCP themselves. Sure, the system is obtuse – I, for instance, still haven’t the slightest idea how we took sov aside from the vague term ‘entosising’.
But. A Band Apart took sovereignty the other day. We promptly found half of the alliance locked out of the station due to obscure administration permissions and settings; we spent a good hour or so laughing at those that couldn’t get in, then laughing at our alliance leader as he, chagrined, attempted to fix the situation (an event memorialized in the name of our station: “Dad Lost the Keys”). Within days, we were beset by angry locals that fielded a force we couldn’t overcome (a seven man fleet consisting of a battleship and some cruisers of various flavors) without resorting to a swarm of Griffins that had just been brought in by a plucky industrialist within the alliance.
These things, these shared experiences and tribulations that will serve as the foundation of trust and friendship in the years to come, would never have been born without Fozziesov.
Progress can never be achieved without some disruption of the status quo; you have to break a few eggs to make an omelet – pick your favorite cliche and know that it will likely hold true for the EVE Online of today, next week, and next year. All that remains is to ride it all out and see where the chips fall.
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