BB52: Most Plateaus end in Cliffs

Welcome to the continuing monthly EVE Blog Banters and our 52st edition! For more details about what the blog banters are visit the Blog Banter page.

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Go to the always useful EVE-Offline.net (http://eve-offline.net/?server=tranquility) and take a look at the All Time (weekly average) graph for concurrent accounts logged in.

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For the past four and a half years, the graph has hovered around that 30,000 mark; it is, for all intents and purposes, a plateau. But everything must come to an end sooner or later and that is what this blog banter is about.
What’s on the other side of that plateau? 
Is there any path for CCP to follow to raise those numbers upwards for a sustained period, or is EVE going to enter a decline to lower logged in numbers from this point? How soon will we see an end to this plateau? Months? Years? Or will you argue that ‘never’ is a possibility? Or you can look at the root causes of the plateau and tackle the question if it could have been avoided or shortened if CCP had taken different actions in the past.
First things first.  Happy New Year.  I’ve been gaming somewhat less, and blogging even less, but it’s about time to start inflicting myself on you again.  Here we go.
Part of the problem is that there’s actually more than the 450,000 odd EvE accounts (150k players I suspect, lots of alt accounts) I’d say there’s probably around 700k with around 1/3 of them not subbed at any given time.  There’s a lot of EvE players who take extended breaks from the game, we all know this, and given a lack of quantifiable numbers, I’m going to assume that about 1/3 of players on on hiatus at any given time.  So CCP can chase them, or they can chase new players.
CCP’s biggest enemy in the attempt to get off the plateau is, and always has been, CCP.  They believe conflicting things, they listen to the wrong people in the player base, they still don’t make new players feel powerful, they don’t like long, hard, big projects (quit snickering), and they have a size creep problem.

We Need New Things, Not Just Fixes

This has been a CCP Theme for a long time.  Every patch needs new things, and new things have to literally be bright, shiny and new.  This, frankly, isn’t true.  Look at the re-balancing project.  We got dozens of new ships out of it.  Or are you going to tell me you used a Bellicose or a Scythe, or an Augoror for more than an hour of your EvE career prior to the change?  This has been one of the most popular features in EvE, and while it required a lot of work, all these ships were in the game, just rusting.  Big time.  CCP has a long laundry list of things that need to be updated, modernized, and just plain fixed, but they don’t want to do them because they feel the need to have something shiny and new even if it doesn’t do a lot to bring in new players, or make the game more interesting for older ones.  I’m looking at you new hacking mechanics.

LISTEN TO ME I’M HERE, I’M LOUD AND I PAY YOU MONIEZ

Ok this is hardly something CCP alone does.  SWTOR is getting ruined by this, but that’s a topic I’ve beaten to death.  CCP spends a ton of time and effort trying to balance things in nullsec when a large attraction of nullsec is how lassez faire it is.  There’s few controls, limits, or hard rules that come from CCP out there.  Yes gameplay in general should be balanced, but the CSM has come to be dominated by people who live in Null, or their bastard weird cousins the wormholers.

These people do deal with a lot of issues, and getting their input on topics is absolutely valid, but anytime I hear Goons screaming about balance I remember to grab the salt out of my car because I’m going to need it for more than just the walkway.  CCP needs to talk to people who don’t communicate well, who aren’t part of a well-organized bloc.  They need more Mike Azariah’s and even Gevlon Goblins and fewer Mynnas.  Not that Mynna isn’t a valuable addition, simply that the efforts of people like her are duplicated by the efforts of others.

The New Player Shell Game

Ok so I’ve seen Butterfly Effect, I’ve seen the Origins video, I’ve seen all the trailers, I start my trial and… I’m in a rinky dink ship flying around shooting red crosses.  Pardon me if I hardly feel Empyrean.  CCP can always depend on some new players to rotate in, and some others to rotate out.  To grow its player base it has to contend with two things, the fact that there’s more and more older and tougher players, putting new players at a bigger and bigger SP disadvantage, and that new players just don’t feel powerful.  At all.  Champions Online does a fantastic job of making you feel powerful and important literally from the first second.  You are a superhero saving the entire world from an alien invasion starting in the first moments of the tutorial.  In EvE you aren’t.

CCP needs to find a way to make players feel more important, to emphasize that you take part in a larger game, but that your contributions have meaning.  Good luck with this one by the way.  It’s far and away the most important one and if I had a good answer I’d be sending you a resume, not putting it in a blog.  CCP needs new players, and they need a way to keep them around.  That’s the only way they will get past the plateau.  Everything else on this list is just getting more of the “already in” crowd playing at once.

But it’s Too Haaaaaaaaard

Kvit yer Kvetching.  Fix POS towers.  I understand legacy code needs to be dealt with carefully.  Ideally with napalm.  It’s not going to magically be new, fresh, well documented code Monday morning.  I’ve at least done enough programming to know that.

Do The Creep

When I started a small gang was 2-12 people.  When my most recent Hiatus started people were talking about small roams with 30+ people.  30+ isn’t a small group.  Most of the missions I took part in in Iraq had less than 20 people along for the ride.  30 is a considerable effort for a lot of corps.  This does more damage to the little/middle group.  They take out a fleet of 12-15 and find it’s all to easy to strike out for 2 hours, then get jumped by a 30+ small gang and ruined for no return.   I know CCP is inching forward in attempts to let smaller fleets stand a chance, but Malcanis’ law applies to size as well as SP.  Sure a mechanic might benefit a huge fleet less per person than it would a smaller fleet, but unless it is designed to actually hurt a huge fleet and degrade its capabilities, it’s unlikely to make a huge effort.

CCP has to get over its own issues to get past this plateau, and they have to do it without killing the game.  On one side they have to commit to fixing the game, without the need for shiny, distracting bits, figure out a way to engage people who don’t really want to be engaged, and solve the problem that is fleet size creep.  On the other hand they need to find a way to make new players relevant in a game increasingly filled with older, meaner, more despicable characters, in support of making the New Player Experience fun, interesting and engaging.  Good luck!

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About Corelin

An Eve playing Fool who occasionally writes about the shenanigans he and his minions get up to.

Posted on January 11, 2014, in Blog Banter, Things I think I think. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. So next post, wanna sketch out some ideas of how they could do those things they “need to do” to improve things enough to break the 30k mark regularly? ;-)

    • Honestly… not really? Seriously though a lot of the ideas the CSM has raised have been good starting places for lower level fixes. I think that’s where their input is most valuable. Higher level stuff they aren’t as hot.

      • Ok, fair enough. :-)

        Personally at this point I think “high end” stuff, aka Jesus Features or massive changes to The Way The Game is Played will end up being the death of EVE. Or at least its perma-coma, from which there will appear to be no miraculous recovery, until CCP finally pulls the plug & lets ‘er go.

  1. Pingback: Blogbanter 52 – Flogging a Dead Horse | A journey through the mind

  2. Pingback: A Horrible Community… | The Ancient Gaming Noob

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