CCPs expansive dev blog regarding null sec has more than enough topics that I could cover here from intelligence gathering to industry. However I want to start ‘at the top’ so to speak with the mechanics of Sovereignty, the ideas of ‘small holdings’ and concept of ‘home’.
Sovereignty, as it currently exists, is a flag mechanic: you place a flag (claiming ownership) and defend it. This is a concept that at its very core is not inclusive – it does not persuade or encourage others not directly part of your tribe (or alliance) to participate, support or interact with your area of space in anything other than an aggressive manner. In short there is no space for the ‘neutral’ player – the trader or industrialist or explorer.
Sovereignty though implies a status of ‘ruling’ and by doing so enforcing your will. This is most commonly recognised as applying the Rule of Law; a series of conditions that ‘neutrals’ must abide by to remain in your area of dominion. Break those laws and the Sovereign power (the “Rulers”) can apply a series of punishments. Do that currently in EVE is rather difficult. How does say a small Empire corp, transparently and swiftly, get permission from an Alliance to enter their space perhaps for only a brief period of time? How does that Alliance then police said corps stay within their space, again transparently and swiftly?
My suggestion would be that CCP develops tools that better allow both ‘neutrals’ and Null Sec Alliances to more transparently and swiftly ‘communicate’ with one another. Laws – or a system of conditions – might allow this. Allow me to provide an example:
SMALL Corp wants to establish a minor base of operations (a small holding) in Null Sec. It finds that its preferred location is controlled by HUGE Alliance, so SMALL Corps CEO opens a UI window through HUGE Alliances Description, through this UI SMALLs CEO can see the “conditions” (or Laws) that HUGE requires in order for SMALL to be granted ‘blue’ status by HUGE Alliance. An example of these conditions might be –
1. SmallHoldings cannot be established in the following systems X, Y Z
2. Expulsion / Excommunication from Vassal status is caused by: destruction of Alliance vessels
3. Vassals contribute 2% tax on NPC kills to HUGE Alliance
and so on and so forth.
SMALL Corps CEO agrees with the conditions (Laws), ticks a box and voila – his corp is now a vassal of HUGE Alliance. This vassal status contributes to HUGE Alliances influence index in the systems they currently occupy. Now here comes the interesting bit: HUGE Alliances ‘sovereignty’ of a system is determined by the number of Vassal /Alliance Corps who have ‘small holdings’ in it. Further more, as HUGE Alliance gains Vassal Corps they unlock more ‘conditions’ (Laws) which they can apply. For example gaining SMALL Corp means that HUGE Alliance unlocks access to a new condition tree:
4. Expulsion / Excommunication from Vassal status is caused by: destruction of Alliance vessels, moving Battleships into system DFG-12.
Such a system would allow Alliances to conveniently set the conditions for their own space – conditions could include docking rights, transit, trade, who can be engaged (only war targets, only neutrals etc) and allow current and potential ‘vassals’ to transparently see those conditions. Such a series of mechanics open up powerful options, perhaps allowing Alliances to exclude certain corporations from certain conditions (i.e you could petition an Alliance for preferential treatment).
Through such a process Alliances could conceivably describe the type of Null Sec space they have dominion over – perhaps your alliance is content to see vasals fight each other? A pvp utopia? Or encourage traders? Or explorers?
What’s interesting about this approach is that Alliance who exert to restrictive controls over their vassal subjects could be subject to losing those vassals to competitor alliances, or suffer uprisings? By enabling a automated process removes the burden from Alliances of attempting to communicate with numerous known ‘pets’ and a multitude of unknown potential subjects.
Before we conclude here consider this: perhaps my corp is interested in exploring in your alliances space. How do we contact you? How do we know you operate a NBSI policy? Or a NRDS policy? Do you welcome explorers? Who would we speak to? How long would it take to get a reply? How can you be sure that we will stay out of that critical system in your area? How will you monitor us to ensure we don’t pop those miners that moved in last week?
So how does all this relate to a sense of ‘home’? Well if ‘home’ is where we place ourselves, the environment around us describes that sense of place? Well to a degree its the ‘conditions’ applied. Is your sector of null sec an area renowned as being a sector of free trade? Smuggling of contraband (restricted by an alliance)? A near lawless area where the sovereign alliance actively encourages conflict? To my mind ‘home’ is not simply your house and its furnishings but the locale in which it exists, your local bar, the shops, the neighbourhood and the people that live there. It’s an ephemeral idea to grasp and define but if we start anywhere it should be with the community in which we call ‘home’ and the relationships within that community – ‘sovereignty’ can help to define that.