In reply to a journal entry made by Kane,
I feel like I'm in a similar rut to the one you've found yourself in. I decided to take a break from the game late November after giving Planetside 2 a try, and came back in February looking to see how the rebalanced T1 frigates, dessies and cruisers were affecting the game. I really hoped that I would see more activity in lowsec and NPC nullsec where I've traditionally found the bulk of my action.
Empowering low cost ships didn't have a lasting effect on the population of solo or small gang PvPers from what I saw. It didn't drive players into lowsec or nullsec to try their hand at combat. While the metagame shifted to accommodate these more powerful ships, and established PvP organizations employed their abilities, joe solo/small gang pvper's experience of PvP has remained constant: it's stagnant.
Piracy, or living off your PvP earnings and ransoms ceased being a viable profession for all but an insignificant population of players around 2011. Changes to mission running mechanics with agent quality, incursions in highsec, coupled with players migrating to nullsec for cosmic anomalies, better paying missions and ratting removed much of the targets pirates thrived on. Static complexes were the last bastion where players could find casual small scale fights, and be rewarded, fight or no, with the chance at some deadspace items to keep them going fiscally. They provided motivation to roam, and a sense of accomplishment regardless of the PvP outcome.
With them gone, the systems that held them and surrounding constellation have become as lifeless as the rest of non-faction warfare lowsec. The PvP community that based their livelihoods around their existence seems to have the choice of joining faction warfare or ceasing to exist. Alternative lowsec PvP play styles of camping gates or hunting exploration runners or the odd mission runner, which frankly requires at least one alt account doesn't appeal to many of the static plex PvP community. These were very small gang, primarily solo PvPers that were ousted by CCP's decision to remove these sites.
I don't know if I'll be able to recapture the magic of moving back into lowsec to try out solo PvP for the first time, and finding myself captured by the challenge for the next 4 years of discovery. Joining faction war seems like giving up, but I honestly don't see any alternatives in either lowsec or nullsec for my solo/small gang PvP desire. I'm in regular contact with the MH.net PvP community, talking to others about returning to the game, but the question I can't answer remains: return to what?
PS: Kane, if you're interested, shoot me a PM on the MH.net forums with some contact details. Perhaps sharing notes will help in finding inspiration for the next EVE Online shindig that will carry us into the game's second decade of life.