This doesn't make me angry, but it does make me sad.
A year ago, while looking for a new alliance to join and generally trying to decide "what's next" for my EVE career, I spent an absolute ton of time in incursion fleets. I knew right away it wasn't something that I could do as any sort of long-term EVE play-style: it's too limited and repetitive. Still, I found it interesting, engaging, and amusing. There were two major "public" channels, for shield and armor fleets. There were a large number of "private" channels for more "advanced" incursion fleets. There was also a large, growing, and thriving community to participate in. The community had non-incursion activities such as low-sec PvP roams, and non-standard incursion-related activities like CCP-sponsored live events and low-sec incursion runs. The incursion fleets themselves varied from multiple fast-paced Vanguard fleets, up through more relaxed newbie-friendly HQ fleets.
I was never involved in incursions enough to be a leader, or an FC of anything other than Vanguard runs. I don't even think I made much impression on the leaders as a "regular", because I wasn't really. Unsurprisingly -- this is still EVE -- most of the leaders were EUTZ players and I'm trapped deep in late USTZ. Still, I spent quite a bit of time defending this play style as perfectly valid (a lot of it on this very blog), and tried to make a distinction between the circular "making ISK to make ISK" care-bear play style and what I saw as a new incursion play style. The latter was characterized by more casual play, specific non-PvE goals for which incursion-runners were playing for, and a structure that rewarded social, mature, non-annoying players. Players that were too annoying simply weren't invited to fleets.
In particular, a year ago, I was thrilled to see the incursion channels full of a cross-section of EVE players. There were true care-bears, to be sure. But there were also a large number of null-sec ex-pats like myself, low-sec pirates, and active null-sec players just there to make a few ISK for their regular play style. The conversations between this cross-section of EVE players were the most interesting thing about being in an incursion fleet. And I pointed to and defended the community as a positive force in EVE.
As recently as this April, even after the first Escalation nerfs hit, things still seemed to be pretty positive and stable in the incursion community.
Oh dear Heaven, how the mighty have fallen.
This is a holiday week in the U.S., where we celebrate our Independence Day. Since it fell at mid-week, a lot of Rote Kapelle players have been off on vacation, so my opportunity for PvP has been pretty minimal. I'm looking at potentially buying a replacement dreadnought in the next month or two and dreads are a hell of a lot more expensive than they used to be. So I decided to sit in on a few incursion fleets and build up my savings a bit.
Things. Have. Changed. Wow, have they!
One of the things that impressed me about incursion fleets last year was how an incursion fleet was a great cross-section of the EVE community. No longer: the hard-core care-bears have taken over. And not just any care-bears, either. I spent a ton of time having to listen to the chatter of people who simply would not make it for more than a few days in any sort of social corp or alliance in EVE. The interesting conversations? Gone. It's amazing to me how many truly annoying, aggravating people there are in incursion fleets now. Late this week, I ran into an old friend in one of the fleets, and it was an incredible relief to have someone to talk to in chat that didn't make me want to bash my head into my desk. I'm not going to name names, but if one obviously well-known individual in the fleets said the words "minor detail" on comms again, I was going to have a brain aneurysm.
And the HQ fleets are obviously being taken over by "shiny": ridiculously over-pimped battleships of various types, with faction and pirate BSs being favored. Risk averse players and FCs are legion. A year ago, an incursion fleet would accept people under war-dec and would work around it. If the war was relatively minor, the risk could be managed. These days, if you're under a war-dec, you're simply not welcome. If you announce it, you'll be tossed out of fleet. If you do not, you won't receive reps and your ship will explode. A year ago, fleets would slip across low-sec systems into high-sec island incursions. This year, risking a high-sec island incursion is regarded as worse than doing nothing. Last year, competition between the shield and armor groups was intense but good-natured. This year, the shield guys are openly dismissive of and disparaging to anyone who would dare even think about armor-tanking a fleet.
In short: what's left of this once-thriving community has become parochial, circular, elitist, and annoying to spend time in.
I realize the nerfs were bad and said as much myself, but this is a disaster. What the hell happened? Does anyone know? Did that many good people give up on this activity because of the nerfs?
As I said, it doesn't make me angry, but it does make me sad.