Several times a month now, I'm asked about the blobbing problem. How does EVE fix its blobbing problem?
Fair warning: my perspective on this is not going to be what you think. But before I give it, let me reiterate that I am a champion for small-gang play in this game. Small-gang play is my first love in EVE, and it's slowly being strangled. While part of Gentlemen's Club, I directly experienced what it was like to be a small gang in the path of a blob. It ain't fun. After joining Get Off My Lawn, I directly experienced what it's like to be part of a blob. It also isn't fun, though for different reasons.
The first game that makes a 500v500 fight fun and viable is still in gaming's future. EVE isn't it! But if you want "epic fights", for now EVE is the only game in town. It's the only game that's even trying to provide these super-large engagements. So even though EVE is fundamentally flawed in this regard, you have no other choices. We are in the Model T era of super-large MMO PvP fights. There is only one model, in only one color.
Unfortunately though, the simple fact is that EVE does not and will never really support super-large fleet engagements. The developers can try to wedge tools and UI kludges into the game to make such fights less painful. The ability to lock targets directly from a broadcast is a good example. But these are kludges built into a game that simply wasn't designed to support 500v500 fights. It's like trying to get a human heart to pump oil. It could probably do the job. But it ain't ideal and never will be no matter how much the devs try. EVE would have to be completely re-engineered to make a 500v500 fight fun and viable, much less a larger engagement.
For myself, that size fight simply takes pilot skill out of the equation. When I play a game, I want to feel like I can be skillful at it... that my actions matter and make a difference. When you're chosen at random to die to the alpha of 100 Maelstroms and nothing you can do alters the fact, that isn't fun for me. So I despise blobbing and if the day comes when that's the only type of game play available in EVE, that will be the day I need a new primary MMO.
That's my perspective on blobbing. Clear enough? Because I'm probably about to annoy you.
How does EVE fix its blobbing problem?
The correct answer: What blobbing problem? CCP doesn't see a blobbing problem in EVE, and they never will. They like blobs. Blobs make them money. So whether you like them or not, CCP is motivated to cater to the blob. Nothing anybody says is going to alter that fact in the slightest. Anyone who is railing against the blob is doing nothing but shouting at the rain. It's a waste of time, and it's really why I've never written about this topic before.
Hey! You! Put the keyboard down for a minute. Don't yell at me, and don't throw things. I'm just being practical, and accepting the inevitable here. I'll explain.
As I've said several times before, CCP has done a lot of studies of its player base. And it's found and made public that if they can get you to join a corp, and play the game for three years, after that you're statistically very unlikely to unsubscribe. Therefore, they are highly motivated to get you to join a corp right off. That's why the new player experience is geared the way it is, to directly point new players toward corp recruitment immediately after finishing the new tutorials. That's also why the NPC tax rate was set how it was, to get you to join a non-NPC corp.
But it's not enough that you just join a corp. You have to join the right corp. You are being subtly or overtly encouraged to join a long-standing corp with a large base of members, or at the very least a corp that is part of an alliance. After all, if you join a buddy's corp with 15 other members and your buddy stops playing EVE, you're probably also going to stop playing EVE too. That's bad for CCP. So they make it very easy for larger corps to grief smaller ones, but they also make it easy for corps to join alliances to try to avoid that. If your corp is in an alliance, that's a larger base of potential friends that it will be harder to leave by quitting the game. You're being subtly or overtly encouraged to join a big group, not a little one.
This is why alliances like Goonswarm and TEST are great for CCP, and country/culture-specific corps and alliances are even better. These are groups that are tailor-made to recruit and retain new EVE players, and are very difficult to walk away from once you've joined them. When people sing the praises of this kind of alliance, that's what they're singing the praises of: giving CCP a solid income base.
And it's also why, in any sort of conflict with smaller groups, CCP is always -- subconsciously, if nothing else -- going to take the blob's side. That's where their bread is buttered.
This is also why EVE game design is always -- again subconsciously, if nothing else -- going to cater to the blob. We've known for years now that the only counter to a large super-cap blob was a larger super-cap blob, the so-called "n+1 problem." CCP hasn't designed a counter. It's not in their best interests to. It is in their best interests to encourage you to get a larger super-cap blob. Even the Goons have surrendered to this idea after a brief flirtation with using tier 3 BCs to counter supers. These days, the CFC super fleet is one of the biggest around.
Even micro-level changes to the game encourage blobbing. Interdictor bubbles were recently changed so that they give a player 60 seconds of aggression regardless of other circumstances. It used to be to aggress a dictor that launched a bubble, another player had to try to warp within the bubble. This is no longer the case. A dictor can launch a bubble in an entirely empty system and will still have 60 seconds aggression. This had the impact of rendering most defensive bubbling techniques useless to a gang with only a single dictor. Prior to the change, for instance, it was common for a dictor with a small gang being chased by a larger gang to launch a single bubble just off the gate, then burn to the gate and jump through. The chasing gang would lose precious seconds landing at the edge of the bubble and having to burn through it to the gate. A single dictor can't do that any more.
The solution? n+1. Bring another dictor. One dictor defensively bubbles the gate, then gets safe and cloaks. A second dictor stays with the fleet.
Was this change made to make fleets bring more dictors? Probably not. But it's subconscious changes like this that are driving the growth of blobs.
And as your opponents are encouraged by micro- and macro-level game changes to bring more and more and more ships to an engagement, you have little choice but to do the same, or die. At the same time, we've got the parallel situation where ship fittings and fleet compositions are also becoming more and more standardized, with fewer mistakes being made. Parallel to that, we've also got massive stagnation in the EVE universe with fewer large fights taking place over locations and resources that simply don't matter. Sov fights have, for the moment at least, become a thing of the past.
But if you were going to try to crack sov, at this point, only the largest blob would have a chance at it. That also subconsciously works to CCP's advantage.
In the first book of the A Song of Ice and Fire series of fantasy novels, one character tells another about "devil grass." In this series, one of the cultures in the books believes that devil grass -- which is useless, rampant, and chokes out any other plant life -- will eventually cover the world. This culture believes that's how the world will end: covered in devil grass taller than a man.
Anyone who tells you what EVE's end game is is lying. Everyone has a different idea of EVE's end game. But I can tell you what EVE's end state will be. It will be two identical 2500 ship fleets with identical fittings and identical fleet compositions fighting it out in a system over no particular goal or objective. Only by the very loosest definition will it be an "epic fight".
But CCP will be happy. What blobbing problem?