The Revolution will not be livestreamed
The Revolution began on August 19, 2013. The casus belli? Well, one could point to the expected antagonisms stirred up between factions vying for limited resources, but in actuality the cause of the war was simple boredom. DUST 514 players get antsy when they dont have anything to shoot, and the utter dominance of DUSTs relatively young Planetary Conquest mode by one faction meant that so-called goodfights were hard to come by.
That faction, EoN, found itself in possession of nearly half of the territory up for grabs in DUST 514s Planetary Conquest mode. Being the biggest fish in the DUST, EoN was able to brush off attacks from other alliances and corporations--until the little fish started working together. Driven by frustration at EoNs dominance of Molden Heath--the sole location of Planetary Conquest in the EVE/DUST universe--the smaller alliances and corporations unified under the banner of the Fuck Eon Coalition (FEC). More of a loose entente or confederation than a true coalition, the FEC tried to use its greater numbers to overwhelm EoNs ability to defend its territory.
A change of perspective
When talking about DUST 514 or its cousin EVE Online, one has to resist the urge to fall into the glistening web of intrigues, wars, and betrayal that is New Edens meta-narrative. One has to understand that players log on to EVE and DUST because they enjoy the games. They dont all expect to spark the next Asakai or wage the next 6-VDTH. That said, players enjoy creating narratives just as much as we love reading about them. EVE and DUST operate on two equal yet very different levels. Understanding how those two levels interact is often key to understanding why EVE and DUST have such rabid fans.
A few weeks ago, GamesRadar took a long, hard look at EVE Onines Fountain War. That series focused on the events taking place as though the politicking and battles were real, historical events. Hardly any words were devoted to the experiences and desires of the individual players. In looking at the conflict in Molden Heath, we want to take a different approach, focusing on the intersection of player experience and meta-narrative. So, to go back to an earlier point--determining why the war started--there are actually two equally correct answers. First, it was a conflict between hostile factions over the limited resources available. Second, because everybody just wanted to have fun shooting each other.
The story so far
Since Planetary Conquest launched in in May, 2013, players have noticed a pattern. One alliance claims more territory than it can defend, and the other players jump on the opportunity to claim their districts. For the first several weeks, the team to beat was Cronos, led by Seraphrim Initiative. As the obvious target for attack, Cronos quickly found itself overwhelmed by EoN in a month-long war. By forcibly annexing much of Cronoss territory and adding it to EoNs own holdings, EoN took a stranglehold of Planetary Conquest. By the first week of August, EoN controlled significantly more than half of all available territory. One of EoNs member corporations, TeamPlayers, controlled 17% of Molden Heaths districts by itself.
EoNs control over Planetary Conquest created a miserable playing experience for almost everybody involved. Not only were EoNs skilled players able to quickly deal with all but the most determined of attacks, but DUSTs mechanics gave an advantage to teams defending their own territory. Players became frustrated with beating their head against EoNs walls. Many simply stopped logging on. Others went to the forums to brainstorm ways to make DUST fun again.
Revolution of Molden Heath
As August drew on, forum threads addressing EoNs dominance became ever-more popular. In an effort to both ease inter-alliance tensions and to help ensure goodfights for all, EoN continued the tradition of Planet Fightclub. Based around the planet Oddelulf III, Planet FightClub served as a sort of arena, where teams could schedule fights with one another. Admirable as it was, the system had two major flaws. First, with only 24 districts on Planet Fightclub, many corporations were left out in the cold. Second, EoN still controlled everything.
So what did the forum warriors do? They crafted a narrative: Blame EoN! EoNs dominance is oppressing us little folk. Viva la revolucion! You might have scoffed at the title of this slide, but terms like the Revolution of Molden Heath, came from the players themselves. On one level, one could interpret this as a serious attempt to engage with other factions by creating a narrative with a clear villain--EoN--while at the same time evoking the image of the plucky underdog overthrowing the evil empire. Or it could be that the phrase revolution is all part of the joke. In actuality, its both.
Growing player frustration over lack of goodfights with the revolution narrative proved to be decisive in the formation of the FEC. Created for the sole purpose of removing EoN from power, the FEC launched more than 100 different attacks on EoN-controlled districts on the first day of the war. For the next two weeks, finding goodfights was as easy as logging on.
Indeed, 300 more battles would be waged over the coming days. Nearly all of them would be attacks against EoN-held districts. EoN won the vast majority of all its battles, successfully defending 8 out of every 10 attacks launched against it. When the FEC pressure slackened, EoN found equal success on the attack. At that pace, its easy to see why the war was only two weeks long--players put nearly 6,000 man-hours into DUST before player exhaustion and burnout ground the war to a halt. All in all, nearly 83,000 players died before it was over--substantially more fictional lives were lost in this fake war than American lives lost in any real war since 1945.
In the name of fun
When the DUST settled, surprisingly little had changed. EoN remained a dominant force in Planetary Conquest--even after two weeks of constant attacks, EoN held 42% of the districts in Molden Heath. So what was gained? Fun. The war took the flaccid Planetary Conquest meta and elevated it to new heights by making enjoyable matches easy to find. According to one EoN member GamesRadar spoke with: Really when it boils down to it, that war (The story of it anyways) isn't about land, power changing hands or any of that it was about the community getting off their ass and fighting. Whats an fps if there isn't fighting? That 'war' grew the Planetary Conquest community, and if EoN had to be the 'bad guy' for that to happen then Im good with that.